Hebrews 1:1-12

Hebrews 1:1-12
Christmas Day ABC


A 1 Long ago GodB spoke to our ancestorsC in manyD and various waysE by the prophets,F 2 but in these lastG days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heirH of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.I 3 He is the reflectionJ of God’s gloryK and the exact imprintL of God’s very being,M and he sustainsN all things by his powerfulO word.P When he had made purificationQ for sins,R he sat down at the right handS of the MajestyT on high, 4 having become as much superiorU to angelsV as the nameW he has inheritedX is more excellentY than theirs.Z

Notes on verses 1-4

A Literally, “Many and various ways long ago the God spoke to the fathers by the prophets.”
B “God” = theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
C “ancestors” = pater. Literally, fathers.
D “many” = polumeros. 1x in NT. From polus (much, many, high number, abundant) + meros (part, share, portion; a share literally or figuratively) [from meiromai (to receive one’s portion or allotment)]. This is in many parts, variously, and so on, at sundry times, piecemeal.
E “various ways” = polutropos. 1x in NT. Related to “many” in v1. From polus (see note D above) + tropos (way, manner, circumstance, style; used figuratively of character) [from the same as trope (turning, change, shifting; used figuratively for a variation); from trepo (turning or adopting a new manner)]. This is in many way or variously.
F “prophets” = prophetes. From pro (before, in front of, earlier than) + phemi (to declare, say, use contrasts in speaking to shed light on one point of view). Phemi is from phao (to shine) or phaino (to bring light, cause to appear, shine, become visible or clear). This is a prophet or poet. One who speaks with inspiration from God
G “last” = eschatos. Related to eschaton (end, last); perhaps from echo (to have, possess, hold). This is last, end, extreme, final. It is often used to discuss the end times, prophecies of the future, and the afterlife. The branch of theology focusing on all these topics is called “eschatology.”
H “heir” = kleronomos. 15x in NT. From kleros (a lot – as in casting lots; one would cast lots to determine the distribution of inheritance; this is a portion, share, or heritage); [may be from klero (to cast a lot) OR from klao (to break into pieces)] + from the same as nomos (law, custom; the law of humans or of God; can also refer to the first five books of the Bible or Old Testament scriptures in general) [from nemo (to parcel out)]. This is heir or inheritor, whether literal or figuration. By implication, it is one who possesses.
I “worlds” = aion. From the same as aei (ever, always, unceasingly, perpetually; on every occasion). This is an age, cycle of time, course, continued duration. It is also used to describe the eternal or forever. This is the word used to discuss the present age or the messianic age.
J “reflection” = apaugasma. 1x in NT. From apo (from, away from) + auge (brightness, dawn; ray of light, which implies radiance). This is radiance, gleaming, someone literally shining and bright.
K “glory” = doxa. From dokeo (to have an opinion, seem, appear, suppose; a personal judgment; to think); from dokos (opinion). This is literally something that evokes a good opinion – something that connects to our understanding of intrinsic worth. The ultimate expression of this is, of course, God and God’s manifestation. So, this is opinion, honor, and dignity, but also praise, glory, renown, and worship.
L “exact imprint” = charakter. 1x in NT. From the same as charagma (stamp, engraving, sign, image, mark; an engraving or etching; figuratively, a mark that proves identity; used of an imprint on a coin or an engraver’s seal; later, it came to be mark that expressed identity much like a brand does today); from charasso (to sharpen, engrave). This is an impression, representation, or exact reproduction. It has a figurative sense of a likeness that shows inner character. Can also refer to an engraver or an engraving tool. This is where “character” comes from.
M “being” = hupostasis. 5x in NT. From hupo (by, under, about, under authority) + histemi (to stand, place, set up, establish, stand ready, stand firm, be steadfast). Properly, this describes a person who has standing or a legitimate claim in a legal contract or agreement. It is a guaranteeing and so a support, steadiness, assurance, or confidence. It is also used figuratively to describe essence.
N “sustains” = phero. This is carry, bring forth, conduct, or lead. This is to bring someone or something along, but in a temporary sense or to a specific end point.
O “powerful” = dunamis. From dunamai (to be able, have power or ability). This is might, strength, physical power, efficacy, energy, and miraculous power. It is force literally or figuratively – the power of a miracle or the miracle itself.
P “word” = rhema. From rheo (to speak, command, make, say, speak of); from ereo  (to all, say, speak of, tell; denotes ongoing speech). This is word, which implies a matter or thing spoken, a command, report, promise, thing, or business. Often used for narration, commands, or disputes.
Q “purification” = katharismos. 7x in NT. From katharizo (to cleans, make, pure; to make clean in a literal, ritual, or moral sense); from katharos (clean, pure, unstained; also clean in a literal, ritual, or moral sense; also, innocent or upright; this is something that has been separated or purged – it is considered clean or pure because that which was unwanted has been removed and not because it never had any problem or sin). This is cleansing, purifying, cleansing from sin.
R “sins” = hamartia. Related to “many” in v1. From hamartano (to miss the mark, do wrong, make a mistake, sin). Hamartano is from a (not) + meros (a part or share). Literally, this means not having one’s share or portion – like not receiving inheritance or what was allotted to you. This word means missing the mark so it is used for guilt, fault, and acts of sin.
S “right hand” = dexios. May be from dechomai (to receive, welcome warmly; to receive in a literal or figurative way). This is the right hand, right side, or right. This is the same root that dexterity and dexterous come from.
T “majesty” = megalosune. 3x in NT. From megas (great, large, exceeding; big in a literal of figurative sense so high, large, loud, mighty, strong, etc.). This is greatness or majesty. Always used in reference to God or Christ in the New Testament.
U “superior” = kreitton. 15x in NT. From the same as kratistos (strongest, noblest, most excellent, very honorable; this was an official title used to address high-ranking Romans); from kratus (strong); from kratos (strength, might, power; root may mean to be perfect or complete; properly, it’s a sense of exerted power and thus dominion). This word means better, stronger, nobler, more excellent. It refers to something that is better because it has been developed more fully. It refers to mastery, dominance; strength as an indicator that it is better.
V “angels” = aggelos. Probably from ago (to lead, bring, carry, guide) + agele (flock, herd, drove) [also from ago (lead, bring, carry, guide)]. This is angel or messenger. Properly, it is one sent with news or to perform a specific task. This messenger can be human or an angel from heaven. More commonly, it is used for angels in the New Testament.
W “name” = onoma. May be from ginosko (know, recognize, learn from firsthand experience). This is a name, authority, cause, character, fame, reputation. The name was thought to include something of the essence of the person so it was not thought to be separate from the person.
X “inherited” = kleronomeo. 18x in NT. Related to “heir” in v2. From kleronomos (see note H). This is to inherit or acquire.
Y “more excellent” = diaphoros. 4x in NT. Related to “sustains” in v3. From diaphero (to carry through, differ, make a difference, surpass; properly, this is to take something through to the end; so, figuratively, this speaks of differentiating oneself totally to show what is better); [from dia (through, by, because of) + phero (see note N above).] This is more excellent, differing, diverse, or surpassing.
Z Literally, “By so much superior having become to the angels – as much as more excellent beyond theirs, he has inherited a name.”

5 For to which of the angels did God ever say,

“You are my Son;
    today I have begottenAA you”?

Or again,

“I will be his Father,
    and he will be my Son”?

And again, when he bringsBB the firstbornCC into the world,DD he says,

“Let all God’s angels worshipEE him.”

7 OfFF the angels he says,

“He makes his angels winds,GG
    and his servantsHH flamesII of fire.”

Notes on verses 5-7

AA “begotten” = gennao. From genna (descent, birth); from genos (family, offspring, kin – in a literal or figurative sense); from ginomai (to come into being, to happen, become, be born; to emerge from one state or condition to another; this is coming into being with the sense of movement or growth). This is to beget, give birth to, or bring forth. Properly, it refer to procreation by the father, but was used of the mother by extension. Figuratively, this can mean to regenerate.
BB “brings” = eisago. 11x in NT – used of Jesus’s parents bringing him to be presented at the Temple. From eis (to, into, towards) + ago (lead, carry, bring, guide, go). This is to bring in, lead in, or introduce in a literal or figurative fashion.
CC “firstborn” = prototokos. 8x in NT. From protos (first, chief, most important, begining) [from pro (before, in front of, above, ahead)] + tikto (to beget, give birth, labor, produce, yield; used of produce from seeds, humans, etc.; includes the sense of being delivered and labor pains). This is firstborn, pre-eminent.
DD “world” = oikoumene. 15x in NT. From oikeo (to inhabit, live, make a home, be comfortable); from oikos (house – the physical building or figuratively household, family, lineage, nation; can also be used for a palace or the Temple). This refers to the inhabited world. In Jesus’s day, this would have meant the Roman world (as being the only part of the world that mattered). The word “kosmos” refers to the world more broadly. Interestingly, this is the word that was used in Luke 2:1 when the Emperor decreed that all the world should be registered.
EE “worship” = proskuneo. From pros (advantageous for, at, to, toward, with) + kuneo (to kiss) [may be related to kuno (dog)]. This is to do reverence, kneel, to prostrate oneself in homage, to worship.
FF [untranslated] = men. This is a particle for emphasis or affirmation. So, it would be truly, indeed, even, in fact.
GG “winds” = pneuma. From pneo (to blow, breath, breathe hard). This is wind, breath, or ghost. A breeze or a blast or air, a breath. Figuratively used for a spirit, the human soul or part of us that is rational. It is also used supernaturally for angels, demons, God, and the Holy Spirit. This is where pneumonia comes from.
HH “servants” = leitourgos. 5x in NT. From laos (people, crowd, the chosen people) + ergon (work, task, employment, action, labor; a work or worker who does or makes something) [from erdo (to do)]. This is a public servant, a minister, or other kind of servant. It can be used of priests and Levites. More broadly, it is for anyone who serves or ministers for the community’s good.
II “flames” = phlox. 7x in NT – 3x of the Cosmic Christ’s eyes like fire, 2x of angels in flaming fire, 1x of fire in Hades, 1x of the burning bush. From phlego (to burn, to flash). This is to flame or blaze. This is where the flower name “phlox” came from.

But of the Son he says,

“Your throne,JJ O God, is forever and ever,KK
    and the righteousLL scepterMM is the scepter of your kingdom.
9 You have lovedNN righteousnessOO and hatedPP wickedness;QQ
therefore God, your God, has anointedRR you
    with the oil of gladnessSS beyond your companions.”TT

10 And,

“In the beginning, Lord,UU you foundedVV the earth,
    and the heavensWW are the work of your hands;
11 they will perish, but you remain;XX
    they will all wear outYY like clothing;ZZ
12 like a cloakAAA you will roll them up,BBB
    and like clothing they will be changed.
But you are the same,
    and your years will never end.”

Notes on verses 8-12

JJ “throne” = thronos. Probably from thranos (bench); from thrao (to sit). This is throne, seat, a king’s seat. It is figurative for power and dominion.
KK “forever and ever” = eis +ho + aion + ho + aion. Literally “to the age of the age.” Same as “worlds” in v2
LL “righteous” = euthutes. 1x in NT. From euthus (straight, early; this is a straight direction that does not make detours and, therefore, implies faster arrival – immediately; the straightness also figuratively implies uprightness and being true); may be from eu (well, good, well done) + tithemi (to place, lay, set, fix, establish; to place in a passive or horizontal position). This is uprightness, straightness, righteous. Literally without deviation or unnecessary delay. Can refer to total justice as being a straight line.
MM “scepter” = rhabdos. 12x in NT. May be from the base of rhapizo (to strike with a rod or to slap) [conversely, rhapizo may come from rhabdos]; from rhepo (to let fall, rap). This is a staff or rod that shows authority, whether as a wand, cane, or a scepter for royalty.
NN “loved” = agapao. Perhaps from agan (much). This is love, longing for, taking pleasure in. It is human love that echoes divine love.
OO “righteousness” = diakiosune. From diakios (correct, righteous – implies innocent; this is that which conforms to God’s notion of justice, uprightness); From dike (the principle of justice; that which is right in a way that is very clear; a decision or the execution of that decision; originally, this word was for custom or usage; evolved to include the process of law, judicial hearing, execution of sentence, penalty, and even vengeance; more commonly, it refers to what is right); may be from deiknumi (to show, point out, exhibit; figurative for teach, demonstrate, make known). This is judicial or divine approval of character or action. This is righteousness, justice, justness, divine righteousness.
PP “hated” = miseo. From misos (hatred). This is word is used in two ways in the New Testament. One has to do with how we prioritize. In order to prioritize something the highest, it means we have to rank other things lower. We cannot have 10 number one priorities. So, the nine that are not number 1, we love less or we value them lower. We make a moral choice the springs from our values about where we put our time, efforts, energy, etc. [This is the sense intended when Jesus says “whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother…” in Lk 14:26] The other way is detesting or hatred as we normally think of it. This sense has a particular affinity with persecuting the one we hate.
QQ “wickedness” = anomia. 15x in NT. Related to “heir” in v2 & “inherited” in v4. From a (not) + nomos (see note H above). This is literally without law i.e. lawlessness, iniquity, disobedience, sin, disregard for authority. This does not just include the negative act, but also how it impacts others and one’s own soul on an ongoing basis.
RR “anointed” = chrio. 5x in NT. Probably related to chraomai (to use, deal with, supply what is needed, give an oracle); perhaps from cheir (the hand). This is to anoint by pouring our rubbing olive oil. Done to consecrate someone or something – to show that they are blessed and appointed by God to a task or an office. This is related to Christ in Greek, which means “the anointed one.”
SS “gladness” = agalliasis. 5x in NT. From agan (much, very) + hallomai (to leap, leap up; when used of water it would be to spring or bubble up; to jump; figuratively, to gush). This is exultation, exuberant joy, jumping for joy, wild delight, exhilaration, welcome.
TT “companions” = metochos. 6x in NT. From metecho (share in, participate in, be a member of); from meta (with, among) + echo (to have, hold, possess). This is a partner, associate, one who has a share or partakes in actively.
UU “Lord” = kurios. From kuros (authority, supremacy). This is a respectful address meaning master or sir. It refers to one who has control or power greater than one’s own. So, it was also applied to God and Jesus as Master or Lord.
VV “founded” = themelioo. 5x in NT. Related to “righteous” in v8. From themelios (relating to a foundation); from tithemi (see note LL). This is to lay the foundation of in a literal sense. Figuratively, it means to be firmly established, to be grounded or a lay a basis for something.
WW “heavens” = ouranos. May be related to oros (mountain, hill) with the notion of height. This is the air, the sky, the atmosphere, and heaven. It is the sky that is visible and the spiritual heaven where God dwells. Heaven implies happiness, power, and eternity.
XX “remain” = diamino. 5x in NT. From dia (through, because of, across to the other side) + meno (to stay, abide, remain, await, continue, endure). This is to remain fully, to abide thoroughly – to continue on all the way, constancy.
YY “wear out” = palaioo. 4x in NT. Perhaps related to “long ago” in v1 & “again” in v5. From palaios (old ancient); from palai (long ago, of old, formerly); perhaps from palin (back, once more, anew); probably from the same as pale (wrestle, struggle, fight, conflict); from pallo (to sway or vibrate). This is to grow old or become obsolete.
ZZ “clothing” = himation. From heima (garment) OR from ennumi (to put on). This is the outer garment worn over the tunic that is frequently made of wool.
AAA “cloak” = peribolaion. 2x in NT. From peri (about, concerning, around, encompassing) + ballo (to throw, cast, rush, place). Literally, this is that which is thrown around – a mantel or cloak or other covering.
BBB “roll…up” = helisso. 2x in NT. From heilisso (roll together); from heilo (to coil or wrap, to roll together). This is to roll up, coil, or fold up.

Image credit: Apse mosaic from Ravenna, Italy, circa 545 AD.

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