A Look at Hebrews Chapter 1: Part 12

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As He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they

In our society today we use names as a means of identification and a name’s main function is to provide an individual with a mark of individuality. What we must stress about the study of the scriptures is that often we use terms in a way that reflects our culture without considering how it was used in the day it was written. To a 1st century Christian or even a Hebrew long before the birth of our Lord Jesus, a name meant much more than a simple means of identity. A name said something about an individual in that within the name itself was a full definition of whom the person was and what qualities they possessed.

 The writer now expands once again upon the exaltation of the Lord Jesus by continuing along with the explanation as to why Jesus Christ is better than the angels. The term “as” carries with it the thought of clarification in order to strengthen the previous point. He extends a proof of Christ’s elevation to the angels by stating that the reason why Christ is better is that He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they! As we had briefly touched upon, the reason why He is better than the angels is because He is a better mediator. His mediatorship far exceeds in quality to the angels and the basis by which this mediatorship is superior is because of His perfect suffering. (Isaiah 53) The terminology of “has..obtained” refers to an accomplishment and in this context is relating back to v. 3 which communicates that of having purged our sins. The works of Calvary have manifested His glory and have returned to the Son that which He has essentially purchased by the great sacrifice of Himself.[i] We see in the term “inheritance” very comparable language to the previous term “heir” which, once again, is intertwined in the name. There have been many different opinions as to what exactly this name is. Some have related this back to Philippians 2 where we read: “Therefore God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and of those on earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Vs.9-11). This text echoes the words of the Psalmist many centuries before “His name shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun. (Psalm 72:17) Although we are in agreement that this has some tremendous parallels and truth to its assertion however we feel that the writer would be referring to another name of blessing, mainly “The Son”. This is the name of majesty coming forth from the fact that in His Sonship He has manifested His Kingship! We see within this that there is a tremendous preeminence of a Son over and above the servants (angels/men).[ii]

The writer had as his point made seven uplifting statements of the Lord Jesus and now will proceed to quote from the Old Testament scriptures to evidence His previous assertions as to the supremacy of the Son. Scholar F.F Bruce comments on the purposes of citing these passages:

Here his superiority to angels is asserted, and elaborated by the following chain of Old Testament quotations, for two specific reasons—to show (i) that the final message of God, communicated by the Son, is safeguarded by even more majestic sanctions than those which attended the law, communicated by angels (2:2f), and (ii) that the new world over which the Son is to reign as Mediator far surpasses the old world in which various nations were assigned to angels for administration (2:5). [iii]


[i] “He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they”. The words “hath by inheritance obtained” are in the perfect tense in the Greek text, literally, “He inherited in times past with the present result that the inheritance is in His permanent possession”. The use of the perfect here shows that the writer is speaking of a past completed action, and of the present abiding result. (Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, K. Wuest, Eerdmans, Page 44)

[ii] See Mark 12: 1-11; the parable of the wicked vinedressers


[iii] The epistle to the Hebrews, F.F. Bruce, Eerdman’s Publishing, Page 51


Written by shawnkjmcgrath

August 5, 2009 at 10:20 am

Posted in Hebrews Ch.1

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