Last days - The Gospel dispensation, called the last days and the last time, because not to be followed by any other dispensation; or the conclusion of the Jewish Church and state now at their termination.
By his Son - It is very remarkable that the pronoun αὑτου, his, is not found in the text; nor is it found in any MS. or version. We should not therefore supply the pronoun as our translators have done; but simply read εν Υἱῳ, By a Son, or In a Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things. God has many sons and daughters, for he is the Father of the spirits of all flesh; and he has many heirs, for if sons, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ; but he has no Son who is heir of all things, none by whom he made the worlds, none in whom he speaks, and by whom he has delivered a complete revelation to mankind, but Jesus the Christ.
The apostle begins with the lowest state in which Christ has appeared:
"'Twas great to speak a world from nought;
'Twas greater to redeem."
10. As continuing to exercise dominion, when the earth and the heavens are no more! It is only in God manifested in the flesh that all these excellences can possibly appear, therefore the apostle begins this astonishing climax with the simple Sonship of Christ, or his incarnation; for, on this, all that he is to man, and all that he has done for man, is built.
Hath in these last days - In this the final dispensation; or in this dispensation under which the affairs of the world will be wound up. Phrases similar to this occur frequently in the Scriptures. They do not imply that the world was soon coming to an end, but that that was the “last” dispensation, the “last” period of the world. There had been the patriarchal period, the period under the Law, the prophets, etc., and This was the period during which God‘s “last” method of communication would be enjoyed, and under which the world would close. It might be a very long period, but it would be the “last” one; and so far as the meaning of the phrase is concerned, it might be the longest period, or longer than all the others put together, but still it would be the “last” one. See Acts 2:17 note; Isaiah 2:2 note.
Spoken unto us - The word “us” here does not of necessity imply that the writer of the Epistle had actually heard him, or that they had heard him to whom the Epistle was written. It means that God had now communicated his will to man by his Son. It may be said with entire propriety that God has spoken to us by his Son, though we have not personally heard or seen him. We have what he spoke and caused to be recorded for our direction.
By his Son - The title commonly given to the Lord Jesus, as denoting his unique relation to God. It was understood by the Jews to denote equality with God (notes, John 5:18; compare John 10:33, John 10:36), and is used with such a reference here. See notes on Romans 1:4, where the meaning of the phrase “Son of God” is fully considered. It is implied here that the fact that the Son of God has spoken to us imposes the highest obligations to attend to what he has said; that he has an authority superior to all those who have spoken in past times; and that there will be special guilt in refusing to attend to what he has spoken. See Hebrews 2:1-4; compare Hebrews 12:25. The reasons for the superior respect which should be shown to the revelations of the Son of God may be such as these:
(2) The clearness of the truths which he communicated to man on a great variety of subjects that are of the highest moment to the world. Revelation has been gradual - like the breaking of the day in the east. At first there is a little light; it increases and expands until objects become more and more visible, and then the sun rises in full-orbed glory. At first we discern only the existence of some object - obscure and undefined; then we can trace its outline; then its color, its size, its proportions, its drapery - until it stands before us fully revealed. So it has been with revelation. There is a great variety of subjects which we now see clearly, which were very imperfectly understood by the teaching of the prophets, and would be now if we had only the Old Testament. Among them are the following:
(a) The character of God. Christ came to make him known as a merciful being, and to show how he could be merciful as well as just. The views given of God by the Lord Jesus are far more clear than any given by the ancient prophets; compared with those entertained by the ancient philosophers, they are like the sun compared with the darkest midnight,
(b) The way in which man may be reconcile to God. The New Testament - which may be considered as what God “has spoken to us by his Son” - has told us how the great work of being reconciled to God can be effected. The Lord Jesus told us that he came to “give his life a ransom for many;” that he laid down his life for his friends; that he was about to die for man; that he would draw all people to him. The prophets indeed - particularly Isaiah - threw much light on these points. But the mass of the people did not understand their revelations. They pertained to future events always difficult to be understood. But Christ has told us the way of salvation, and he has made it so plain that he who runs may read.
(c) The moral precepts of the Redeemer are superior to those of any and all that had gone before him. They are elevated, pure, expansive, benevolent - such as became the Son of God to proclaim. Indeed this is admitted on all hands. Infidels are constrained to acknowledge that all the moral precepts of the Saviour are eminently pure and benignant. If they were obeyed, the world would be filled with justice, truth, purity, and benevolence. Error, fraud, hypocrisy, ambition, wars, licentiousness, and intemperance, would cease; and the opposite virtues would diffuse happiness over the face of the world. Prophets had indeed delivered many moral precepts of great importance, but the purest and most extensive body of just principles of good morals on earth are to be found in the teachings of the Saviour.
(d) He has given to us the clearest view which man has had of the future state; and he has disclosed in regard to that future state a class of truths of the deepest interest to mankind, which were before wholly unknown or only partially revealed.
1. He has revealed the certainty of a state of future existence - in opposition to the Sadducees of all ages. This was denied before he came by multitudes, and where it was not, the arguments by which it was supported were often of the feeblest kind. The “truth” was held by some - like Plato and his followers - but the “arguments” on which they relied were feeble, and such as were untitled to give rest to the soul. The “truth” they had obtained by tradition; the “arguments” were their own.
2. He revealed the doctrine of the resurrection of the body. This before was doubted or denied by nearly all the world. It was held to be absurd and impossible. The Saviour taught its certainty; he raised up more than one to show that it was possible; he was himself raised, to put the whole matter beyond debate.
3. He revealed the certainty of future judgment - the judgment of all mankind.
4. It disclosed great and momentous truths respecting the future state. Before he came, all was dark. The Greeks spoke of Elysian fields, but they were dreams of the imagination; the Hebrews had some faint notion of a future state where all was dark and gloomy, with perhaps an occasional glimpse of the truth that there is a holy and blessed heaven; but to the mass of mind all was obscure. Christ revealed a heaven, and told us of a hell. He showed us that the one might be gained and the other avoided. He presented important motives for doing it; and had he done nothing more, his communications were worthy the profound attention of mankind. I may add:
(3) That the Son of God has claims on our attention from the manner in which he spoke. He spoke as one having “authority;” Matthew 7:29. He spoke as a “witness” of what he saw and knew; John 3:11. He spoke without doubt or ambiguity of God, and heaven, and hell. His is the language of one who is familiar with all that he describes; who saw all, who knew all. There is no hesitancy or doubt in his mind of the truth of what he speaks; and he speaks as if his whole soul were impressed with its unspeakable importance. Never were so momentous communications made to people of hell as fell from the lips of the Lord Jesus (see notes on Matthew 23:33); never were announcements made so suited to awe and appall a sinful world.
Whom he hath appointed heir of all things - see Psalm 2:8; compare notes, Romans 8:17. This is language taken from the fact that he is “the Son of God.” If a son, then he is an heir - for so it is usually among people. This is not to be taken literally, as if he inherits anything as a man does. An heir is one who inherits anything after the death of its possessor - usually his father. But this cannot be applied in this sense to the Lord Jesus. The language is used to denote his rank and dignity as the Son of God. As such all things are his, as the property of a father descends to his son at his death. The word rendered “heir” - κληρονόμος klēronomos- means properly:
(1) one who acquires anything by lot; and,
(2) an “heir” in the sense in which we usually understand the word. It may also denote a “possessor” of anything received as a portion, or of property of any kind; see Romans 4:13-14. It is in every instance rendered “heir” in the New Testament. Applied to Christ, it means that as the Son of God he is possessor or lord of all things, or that all things are his; compare Acts 2:36; Acts 10:36; John 17:10; John 16:15. “All things that the Father hath are mine.” The sense is, that all things belong to the Son of God. Who is so “rich” then as Christ? Who so able to endow his friends with enduring and abundant wealth?
By whom - By whose agency; or who was the actual agent in the creation. Grotins supposes that this means, “on account of whom;” and that the meaning is, that the universe was formed with reference to the Messiah, in accordance with an ancient Jewish maxim. But the more common and Classical usage of the word rendered “by” ( διὰ dia), when it governs a genitive, as here, is to denote the instrumental cause; the agent by which anything is done; see Matthew 1:22; Matthew 2:5, Matthew 2:15, Matthew 2:23; Luke 18:31; John 2:17; Acts, Acts 2:22, Acts 2:43; Acts 4:16; Acts 12:9; Romans 2:16; Romans 5:5. It may be true that the universe was formed with reference to the glory of the Son of God, and that this world was brought into being in order to show his glory; but it would not do to establish that doctrine on a passage like this. Its obvious and proper meaning is, that he was the agent of the creation - a truth that is abundantly taught elsewhere; see John 1:3, John 1:10; Colossians 1:16; Ephesians 3:9; 1 Corinthians 8:6. This sense, also, better agrees with the design of the apostle in this place. His object is to set forth the dignity of the Son of God. This is better shown by the consideration that he was the creator of all things, than that all things were made for him.
The worlds - The universe, or creation. So the word here - αἰών aiōn- is undoubtedly used in Hebrews 11:3. The word properly means “age” - an indefinitely long period of time; then perpetuity, ever, eternity - “always” being. For an extended investigation of the meaning of the word, the reader may consult an essay by Prof. Stuart, in the Spirit of the Pilgrims, for 1829, pp. 406-452. From the sense of “age,” or “duration,” the word comes to denote the present and future age; the present world and the world to come; the present world, with all its cares, anxieties, and evils; the people of this world - a wicked generation, etc. Then it means the world - the material universe creation as it is. The only perfectly clear use of the word in this sense in the New Testament is in Hebrews 11:3, and there there can be no doubt. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were made by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” The passage before us will bear the same interpretation, and this is the most obvious and intelligible. What would be the meaning of saying that the “ages” or “dispensations” were made by the Son of God? The Hebrews used the word - צולם ‛owlaam- in the same sense. It properly means “age, duration;” and thence it came to be used by them to denote the world - made up of “ages” or generations; and then the world itself. This is the fair, and, as it seems to me, the only intelligible interpretation of this passage - an interpretation amply sustained by texts referred to above as demonstrating that the universe was made by the agency of the Son of God. Compare Hebrews 1:10 note, and John 1:3 note.
But He knew also that the father had, in his own mind, made conditions concerning his belief in Jesus. Unless his petition should be granted, he would not receive Him as the Messiah. While the officer waited in an agony of suspense, Jesus said, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” DA 198.1
Notwithstanding all the evidence that Jesus was the Christ, the petitioner had determined to make his belief in Him conditional on the granting of his own request. The Saviour contrasted this questioning unbelief with the simple faith of the Samaritans, who asked for no miracle or sign. His word, the ever-present evidence of His divinity, had a convincing power that reached their hearts. Christ was pained that His own people, to whom the Sacred Oracles had been committed, should fail to hear the voice of God speaking to them in His Son. DA 198.2
Yet the nobleman had a degree of faith; for he had come to ask what seemed to him the most precious of all blessings. Jesus had a greater gift to bestow. He desired, not only to heal the child, but to make the officer and his household sharers in the blessings of salvation, and to kindle a light in Capernaum, which was so soon to be the field of His own labors. But the nobleman must realize his need before he would desire the grace of Christ. This courtier represented many of his nation. They were interested in Jesus from selfish motives. They hoped to receive some special benefit through His power, and they staked their faith on the granting of this temporal favor; but they were ignorant as to their spiritual disease, and saw not their need of divine grace. DA 198.3
Like a flash of light, the Saviour's words to the nobleman laid bare his heart. He saw that his motives in seeking Jesus were selfish. His vacillating faith appeared to him in its true character. In deep distress he realized that his doubt might cost the life of his son. He knew that he was in the presence of One who could read the thoughts, and to whom all things were possible. In an agony of supplication he cried, “Sir, come down ere my child die.” His faith took hold upon Christ as did Jacob, when, wrestling with the Angel, he cried, “I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.” Genesis 32:26. DA 198.4
Like Jacob he prevailed. The Saviour cannot withdraw from the soul that clings to Him, pleading its great need. “Go thy way,” He said; “thy son liveth.” The nobleman left the Saviour's presence with a peace and joy he had never known before. Not only did he believe that his son would be restored, but with strong confidence he trusted in Christ as the Redeemer. DA 198.5Read in context »
God ... hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son... ; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. Hebrews 1:1-3. FLB 40.1Read in context »
Those who have a true knowledge of God will not become so infatuated with the laws of matter or the operations of nature as to overlook, or refuse to acknowledge, the continual working of God in nature. Nature is not God, nor was it ever God. The voice of nature testifies of God, but nature is not God. As His created work, it simply bears a testimony to God's power. Deity is the author of nature. The natural world has, in itself, no power but that which God supplies. There is a personal God, the Father; there is a personal Christ, the Son. And “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3). 1SM 293.1
The psalmist says: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard” (Psalm 19:1-3). Some may suppose that these grand things in the natural world are God. They are not God. All these wonders in the heavens are only doing the work appointed them. They are the Lord's agencies. God is the superintendent, as well as the Creator, of all things. The Divine Being is engaged in upholding the things that He has created. The same hand that holds the mountains and balances them in position, guides the worlds in their mysterious march around the sun. 1SM 293.2Read in context »
Christ took with Him to the heavenly courts His glorified humanity. To those who receive Him He gives power to become the sons of God, that at last God may receive them as His, to dwell with Him throughout eternity. If during this life they are loyal to God, they will at last “see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads.” Revelation 22:4. And what is the happiness of heaven but to see God? What greater joy could come to the sinner saved by the grace of Christ than to look upon the face of God and know Him as Father? MH 421.1
The Scriptures clearly indicate the relation between God and Christ, and they bring to view as clearly the personality and individuality of each. MH 421.2
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son; ... who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said He at any time. MH 421.3Read in context »