Hebrews 1:1:3 – Christ’s message superior to the Old Testament Prophets

Christ’s message is superior to that of the Old Testament prophets because He—the Son of God and Creator of all—is superior to them.

Throughout the letter, the writer contrasts the old with the new and elevates the new above the old.  .  In the first three verses the writer argues that Christ is superior to the Old Testament prophets, for He is God’s Son and God’s spoken word—the exact representation of God’s nature—through whom God made everything and through whom God still holds everything together.   “He who has seen Me has seen the Father”.

But the writer’s real purpose is to show that Christ’s message is superior to that of the Old Testament prophets.  God’s love and mercy for weak sinners are made visible in the person of Christ.  He also revealed how man may be reconciled to God, the resurrection of the body and the certainty of the future judgment of all mankind.  The purest and most extensive body of moral principles on earth are found in Christ’s teachings.

1:1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways 1:2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son
whom He appointed heir of all things,
through whom also He made the world.
3 And He is the radiance of His glory and
the exact representation of His nature,
and upholds all things by the word of His power.
When He had made purification of sins,
He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Introduction

Jesus is superior to the Old Testament Prophets
Old Testament Prophet

This letter to the Hebrews does not have an introduction like we would normally find in other letters.  These first three verses serve as introduction, but also immediately confront the reader with the main theme of this epistle, which is the superiority of Christ.  In these verses the writer argues that Christ is superior to the Old Testament prophets, but his purpose is to show that Christ’s message is superior to the messages of the Old Testament prophets. (Compare 2:1-4)

The Old and the New

Throughout the letter, the writer contrasts the old and the new and he elevates the new over the old.  In the current verses the old is how God revealed Himself through the apostles, and the new is how He revealed Himself through His Son.

Spoke

God exists outside of our physical limitations of space, matter and time. He cannot be seen by our eyes or measured in our laboratories. He said,

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, … For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

We are not equipped to know anything about God. If God had not spoken, we would have been without knowledge or hope. But we do have hope, for God has spoken. He has spoken through prophets and through His written word. Most importantly, He has spoken through His Son.

Long ago to the fathers in the prophets … in many ways (1:1)

I Am
Moses and the burning bush

The fathers include Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but perhaps also other important figures in Israel’s history.  The prophets Include Moses, who refer to himself as a prophet (Deut. 18:15).  The ways in which God revealed Himself includes visions, dreams, physical appearance, historical events, prophecy, poetry, proverbs, direct communication and impressions.  Elijah once stood upon the mountain before Yahweh, and there was a great and strong wind which rent the mountains, and broke the rocks into in pieces; but Yahweh was not in the wind. Then there was an earthquake; but Yahweh was not in the earthquake.  The earthquake was followed by a fire; but Yahweh was not in the fire.  Yahweh then spoke to Elijah is a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-12).

In these last days (1:2)

This phrase is most often interpreted as meaning ‘recently’.  However, Jesus said, His disciples believed and the entire New Testament teaches that the Lord is coming soon.  The author of the letter to the Hebrews similarly wrote:

all the more as you see the Day approaching. …  For in just a very little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay” (10:25, 36-37).

It is therefore also possible that the writer’s intention was to say that his generation was the last generation before Christ’s return.  The phrase “last days” is also found elsewhere in the New Testament, where it also implies the last days before Christ’s return:

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking” (2 Peter 3:3)

’and it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘that I will pour forth of My spirit on all mankind’” (Acts 2:17)

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self” (2 Timothy 3:1-2)

Spoken to us in His Son (1:2)

What the writer implies is that, when the Son of God speaks, we better listen, for there is no higher authority.

Tested unto death
Son of God

The title “Son of God” was understood by the Jews to denote equality with God:

Jesus said, “My Father is working until now” (John 5:17).  “For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” (v18)

John 10 records Jesus saying “I am the Son of God” (v36).  Therefore the Jews wanted to stone Him, saying, “because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God” (v33).

Revelation is gradual. 

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, with the benefit of Christ’s teachings, see clearly, which were very imperfectly understood by the teaching of only the Old Testament prophets. Among them are the following:

(a) The character of God:

No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” (John 1:18)

Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Mt. 11:27)

(b) How man may be reconciled to God.

But I say to you
Sermon on the Mount

(c) Christ’s moral precepts are superior to those that had gone before him. Prophets had delivered many moral precepts of great importance, but the purest and most extensive body of moral principles on earth are found in Christ’s teachings.

(d) He has given to us the clearest view of the future state. He disclosed many truths of the deepest interest to mankind, which were before only partially revealed.  This includes the certainty of a state of future existence – which the Sadducees previously were able to dispute.  He also revealed the doctrine of the resurrection of the body. The Saviour raised up more than one to show that it was possible; and He was himself raised, to put the whole matter beyond debate.  He revealed the certainty of future judgment – the judgment of all mankind.

Hebrews 1:2-3 presents us with seven facts concerning Jesus the Son, to emphasize His superiority.  He:

  • Is Heir of all things;
  • Made the universe;
  • Is the radiance of God’s glory;
  • Is the exact representation of God’s being;
  • Sustains all things by his powerful word;
  • Provided purification for sin; and
  • Sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven;

Whom He appointed heir of all things (1:2)

God foretold, through Daniel, of a coming world-wide and everlasting kingdom over which a certain human being would rule:

… with the clouds of heaven one like the Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion … that all the peoples … might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion(Daniel 7:13-14).

Jesus often used the title in this passage—”Son of Man“—for Himself.  It is He that will inherit that everlasting dominion.

Through whom also He made the world (1:2)

Creator of the entire universe

He not only made the world; He is the creator of the entire universe.

All things have been created through Him and for Him. (Col. 1:16, cf. John 1:3, 10; 1 Cor. 8:6.)

Genesis 1 teaches that God created by speaking; “God said … and it was so” (Gen. 1:9).  “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God” (Heb. 11:3).  Therefore John refers to Jesus as “the Word”, that is, He is God’s spoken word:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.  (John 1:1-3)

This is not something which humans are able to understand, simply because we are unable to understand God.

The word translated “world” is aiōn, and properly means “age” – an indefinitely long period of time. But it can also mean the world – the material universe.  The only clear use of the word is in Hebrews 11:3, where it means “worlds”: “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” In this verse “the worlds” parallels “what is seen”.

He is the radiance of His glory (1:3)

When Moses prayed, “show me Your glory“ (Ex. 33:18), the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed,

The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth” (Ex. 34:6-7)

When he came down from Sinai
Moses face shining

Moses had gone up on Mount Sinai and had stood in God’s presence.  When he came back down, his face shown with the brightness of reflected glory.  Jesus did not have a physical type of radiance, but He is “the light of the world” (John 8:12); God’s love and mercy for weak sinners is made visible in the person of Christ:

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all“ (1 John 1:5).

He is … the exact representation of His (God’s) nature (1:3)

God the Father is all Spirit (John 4:24), meaning He exists beyond the limits of this physical universe. We human beings therefore cannot experience the Father as He truly is.  But Jesus—the Word of God—reveals God. The Son of God bears the exact image of God on himself.  He is the “image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15).  Do you want to know what God is like? Look at Jesus. Do you want to know how God thinks? Listen to Jesus.  He said:

If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” (John 14:7)

But Philip said to Him,

Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” (v8)

Jesus responded,

Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (v9)

We can begin to understand this by drawing an analogy to how we communicate or reveal our thoughts in the physical word.

When we conceive an idea in our mind, nobody can see our thoughts.  They are invisible, yet they certainly exist.

If we want to reveal our invisible thoughts to the world, we must transfer our thoughts into the physical realm for others to receive and understand.  The brain communicates our thoughts to our mouth where it becomes logos: spoken words.  The spoken word leaves our mouth and enters the physical world as sound waves.

The spoken word reveals our thoughts.  When someone hears our spoken word, they come to know something that was previously invisible and unknowable.

Still, the world’s knowledge of our invisible thoughts will be partial at best.  But what if our mind could take on a physical form for all to see?  Then the world could come to a complete and full understand of our invisible nature.  Our entire nature – our thoughts and character and personality – would be on display in a physical form.  We could be fully known.

God with us
Immanuel

Likewise, God the Father reveals Himself to the world via His Son (i.e., the Word).  “’They shall call his name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us’” (Mt. 1:23).

The Fathers of the Christian church held that the Son of God, as to his divine as well as his human nature, was “derived” from the Father. Hence, the Nicene creed speaks of him as “begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten not made”. But modern theologians find this is incredible and impossible. They hold that a derived being cannot in any proper sense be “God”.  If there is any attribute which the Scriptures have ascribed to Christ with clearness, it is that He always existed;

When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last” (Rev. 1:17)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).

The Bible maintains a clear distinction between God and Jesus, but also says that all the fullness of Deity dwells in Jesus.  How do we reconcile these facts?  For a more detail discussion, see Jesus, Son of God.

He … upholds all things by the word of His power (1:3)

Paul similarly wrote, “In Him all things hold together“ (Col. 1:17). The Lord Jesus commanded the waves and the winds, and they were still (Mt. 8:26-27).  He spoke to diseases and they departed, and to the dead, and they arose.  “Upholds” is present active and means continual action “to carry”.   Jesus carries all things continually.  The universe is maintained and held together by this same Word that brought it into existence.  It is not merely the earth with its rocks, mountains, seas, animals and human beings, but it is the universe – all distant worlds.  He holds up this vast universe so that it does not sink into anarchy or into nothing. There can be no higher idea of omnipotence than to say that he upholds all things by his word.

This is an astounding truth; that all things are held together by somebody who became a human being and still is a human being.  It is difficult to imagine that one human being could say such things of a fellow human being (Jesus).  The Holy Spirit influenced on them must have been strong.

When He had made purification of sins (1:3)

Sanctified
Set apart for holy use

This is a key thought in the New Testament.  Also in Hebrews it is repeatedly stated that “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (10:10).  “Through His own blood” He obtained “eternal redemption” (9:12).  God sacrificed His Son (the Lamb of God – John 1:29) for the sins of the world.

However, probably most the important principle in Hebrews is that His death is part of a bigger process required for human salvation.  His death enabled Jesus to “become a merciful and faithful high priest … to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (2:17).  “The blood of Christ, who … offered Himself without blemish to God, (will) cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (9:14) through Christ’s work as high priest in “the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands” (9:11).  We also see this principle typified in the old Jewish sacrificial system; the priest not only killed the animals; they always had to do something afterwards with the blood.

When we say that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, we should not think of this literally.  There is no literal container in heaven with His literal blood.  His blood is a symbol for His death.  Neither are we simply saved by His death; we are saved by His death because he “offered Himself without blemish to God” (9:14).  If He sinned before He died, He would not have been “without blemish”.  We are therefore saved by His perfect life, even when suffering the highest levels of temptation; even unto death.  For a further discussion, see Why Jesus had to die.

He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (1:3)

This is a quotation from Psalm 110.  The concept of “right hand” of God is not a physical location as much as it referred to a position of exaltation and supremacy.  The person that sits at the right hand of a sovereign is the most important person after the sovereign himself.

He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:8-9).

 

Christene wat deur die Helse Horde gevange gehou word

19c `n Menigte Christene, wat deur die leër gevange gehou was, het agter die voorste afdelings aangeloop. Hulle was almal gewond.  Hulle was bewaak deur kleiner demone van Vrees.  Dit het gelyk asof daar meer gevangenes as demone in die leër was.  Verbasend genoeg het die gevangenes nog hul swaarde en skilde gehad, maar dit nie gebruik nie.  Dit was `n skok om te sien dat so baie gevange gehou kon word deur so min klein duiwel­tjies van Vrees.  As die Christene maar net hul wapens gebruik het, kon hulle hulself maklik bevry het, en waarskynlik groot skade berokken het aan die hele duiwelse horde.  In plaas daarvan het hulle net gedienstig saam gemarsjeer.

20a Bokant die gevangenes was die lug swart van die aasvoëls van Depressie.  Van tyd tot tyd sal `n aasvoël op die skouers van `n gevangene land en op hom opbring.  Die braaksel was veroordeling.  Wanneer braaksel `n gevangene tref, sal hy opstaan en vir `n rukkie `n bietjie reguiter marsjeer, maar sal dan inmekaar sak, selfs swakker as tevore.  Ek het weer gewonder waarom die gevangenes nie sommer die aasvoëls met hul swaarde dood maak nie, wat hulle maklik kon doen.

20b Van tyd tot tyd het van die swakker gevangenes gestruikel en geval.  Sodra hulle die grond tref sal die ander gevangenes hulle begin steek met hul swaarde, en hulle spot terwyl hulle dit doen.  Die aasvoëls kom dan en begin om die gevallenes lewendig op te vreet.  Die ander Christen-gevangenes sal net daar staan en dit goedkeurend betrag, en ook nog van tyd tot tyd die gevallene steek met hul swaarde.

20c Terwyl ek hierna kyk het ek besef dat die gevangenes dink dat die braaksel van veroordeling die waarheid vanaf God is.  Toe besef ek dat hierdie gevangenes dink dat hulle in werklikheid in God se leër marsjeer.  Dit is waarom hulle nie die klein demone van vrees of die aasvoëls dood maak nie – hulle het gedink hulle is bood­skappers vanaf God.  Die donkerte van die wolk van aasvoëls het dit vir die gevangenes so moeilik gemaak om te sien dat hulle naïef alles wat met hulle gebeur aanvaar as vanaf die Here.  Hulle het gemeen dat die mense wat gestruikel het onder God se oordeel was.  Dit is waarom hulle die gevalle mense aangeval het.  Hulle het gedink hulle help God.

21a Die enigste kos wat aan die gevangenes gegee was, was die aasvoëls se braaksel. Diegene wat geweier om die braaksel te eet, het eenvoudig swakker geword totdat hulle geval het.  Diegene wat dit wel geëet het, het vir `n rukkie sterker geword, maar met die krag van die bose.  Hulle het weer swakker word, tensy hulle die water van bitterheid, wat gedurig hulle aangebied was, gedrink het.  Die wat van die bitter water gedrink het, sal dan begin om op die ander op te gooi.  Wanneer `n gevangene dit begin doen, het `n demoon, wat vir `n geleentheid gewag het, op hom geklim en op hom gery tot by een van die voorste divisies.

21b Iets wat selfs aakliger was as die braaksel van die aasvoëls, was die walglike slym wat die duiwels geurineer en ontlas het op die Christene waarop hulle gery het.  Hierdie slym was die hoog­moed, selfsugtige ambisies, ensovoorts, wat die aard was van hul afdeling.  Die slym het die Christene egter soveel beter laat voel as die veroordeling dat hulle maklik geglo het dat die duiwels boodskappers van God was.  Hulle het werklik geglo dat die slym die salwing van die Heilige Gees was.

21c Die bose leër het my met soveel afsku vervul dat ek wou sterf.  Toe hoor ek die stem van die Here met my praat en sê: “Dit is die begin van die vyand se leër van die laaste dae.  Dit is Satan se uiterste misleiding.  Sy uiterste vernietigingsmag word in werking gestel wanneer hy Christene gebruik om mekaar aan te val.  Hy het hierdie leër deur die eeue heen gebruik, maar nog nooit was hy in staat om so baie mense vir sy bose oogmerke te gebruik soos nou nie.  Moenie bang wees nie.  Ek het ook `n leër.  Jy moet nou vasstaan en veg, want daar geen plek meer om weg te kruip vir hierdie oorlog nie.  Jy moet veg vir My koninkryk, vir waarheid, en vir hulle wat mislei is.”

22a Hierdie boodskap vanaf die Here het my so bemoedig dat ek dadelik begin skree het op die Christen-gevangenes dat hulle mislei word.  Ek het gedink hulle sou luister na my.  Toe ek dit doen het dit gelyk asof die hele leër omdraai om na my te kyk.  Die vrees en depressie wat hulle oordek het, het in my rigting begin spoel.  Ek het aanhou skree omdat ek gedink het dat die Christene wakker sou word en besef wat met hulle gebeur, maar in plaas daarvan het baie van hulle hul pyle geneem om my daarmee te skiet.  Die ander het geaarsel asof hulle nie seker was wat om van my te dink nie.  Ek besef toe dat ek dit te vroeg gedoen het, en dat dit `n baie dom fout was.

Die Helse Hordes is op Die Oorlogspad.

Helse Hordes op die Oorlogspad

16a Die demone se leër was geweldig groot.  Dit gestrek het sover as wat ek kon sien.  Dit was in afdelings verdeel, elkeen onder sy eie vaandel.  Die voorste afdelings het marsjeer onder die vaandels van Hoogmoed, Eiegereg­tigheid, Respektabiliteit, Selfsugtige Ambisies, Ongeregtige Oordeel en Jaloesie. Daar was baie ander bose afdelings wat te ver was om te sien, maar dié in die voorhoede van hierdie verskriklike horde uit die hel was die magtigste.  Die leier van hierdie leër was die Beskuldiger van ons Broeders self.

16b Die horde se wapens het ook name gehad.  Hul swaarde word genoem Intimidasie; hul spiese word genoem Verraad; hul pyle word genoem Beskuldiging, Skinder, Laster en Foutsoeke­righeid.  Verkenners en kleiner groepe duiwels, met name soos Verwerping, Bitter­heid, Ongeduld, Onvergewendheid en Wellus, is vooruitgestuur om vir die leër se hoofaanval voor te berei.

Johannes, die Doper

16c Daar was baie minder van hierdie kleiner groepe demone en verkenners, maar hulle was niks swakker as sommige van die groter afdelings wat na hulle gevolg het nie.  Hulle was minder vir strategiese redes.  Net soos Johannes die Doper `n enkele mens was, maar buitengewoon gesalf was om groot getalle mense te doop ter voorbereiding vir die koms van die Here, so het hierdie kleiner groepe demone buitengewone bose magte gehad om die massas te doop.  `n Enkele demoon van Bitterheid kon sy gif op menigtes saai, selfs hele rasse en volke.  `n Wellus-demoon sou homself heg aan `n bepaalde fliek- of musiekster of `n fliek of selfs `n advertensie, en iets uitskiet wat lyk soos vlae elektriese slym wat groot massas mense kon tref en “onsensitief” kon laat.  Hul enigste doel was om voor te berei vir die onheilige hordes wat na hulle gevolg het.

17a Die leër se aanslag was spesifiek teen die Kerk gerig, maar het enig­iemand aangeval wat dit kon.  Ek het geweet hul doel was om `n beweging van God, wat groot getalle mense in die kerk sou inbring, te voorkom.

17b Die belangrikste strategie van hierdie leër was om onmin te saai en om verhouding op alle vlakke te versuur; tussen gemeentes, tussen gemeentes en hul leraars, tussen egpare, tussen kinders en ouers en selfs tussen kinders.  Die verken­ners word uitgestuur om die openinge in hierdie gemeentes, families en individue op te spoor wat uitgebuit en groter gemaak kon word deur Verwerping, Bitterheid, Wellus, ens.  Dan stroom die divisies, wat agter hulle aan kom, deur die openinge en oorweldig hul slagoffers heeltemal.

17c Die skokkendste deel van hierdie visioen was dat die horde nie op perde gery het nie, maar in hoofsaak op Christene!  Die meeste van die Christene was goed geklee, en het vernaam, verfynd en geleerd gelyk, maar daar was ook mense uit elke vlak van die samelewing.  Hierdie mense het Christelike waarhede bely om hul gewetes te sus, maar hul lewens was in ooreenstemming met die magte van die duisternis.  Hoe meer hulle toegegee het aan hierdie magte, hoe groter het die demone, wat aan hul toegeken is, geword en hoe makliker kon die demone hul dade beheer.

18a Die meeste van die gelowiges het meer as een demoon gehad, maar een van hulle was altyd duidelik in beheer.  Die aard van die een wat in beheer was, het bepaal in watter afdeling dit marsjeer.  Al het al die afdelings saam marsjeer, het dit ook gelyk asof die hele leër op die drumpel van chaos was.  Die duiwels van haat het byvoorbeeld die ander duiwels gehaat net soveel as wat hulle die Christene gehaat het.  Die duiwels van jaloesie was almal op mekaar jaloers.  Die enigste manier waarop die leiers van hierdie horde kon voorkom dat die demone teen mekaar veg, was om hul haat en jaloesie te fokus op die Christene waarop hulle gery het.  Daar het egter gereeld gevegte tussen hierdie mense uitgebreek.  Ek het geweet dat dit was hoe sommige van die leërs, wat volgens die Bybel teen Israel opgestaan het, uiteindelik hulself vernietig het.  Toe hul planne teen Israel gefnuik is, was hul woede onbeheerbaar en hulle het eenvoudig teen mekaar begin veg.

18b Ek het opgemerk dat die duiwels bo-op die Christene gery het, en nie binne-in hulle was, soos wat die geval was met die nie-Christene nie.  Dit was duidelik dat die Christene net moes ophou saamstem met hul duiwels om van hulle bevry te word.  Byvoorbeeld, as `n Christen waarop `n demoon van jaloesie gery het, net begin het om die jaloesie te bevraag­teken, dan het die demoon baie vinnig swakker geword.  Wanneer dit gebeur roep die swakker-

Kwoteer Bybelverse

wordende demoon hard uit.  Die leier van die afdeling sal dan al die duiwels rondom die Christen aansê om daardie Christen aan te val totdat die bitterheid, ens. weer in hom opbou.  En as dit nie werk nie, sal die demone begin om Skrifgedeeltes te kwoteer wat verdraai word om die bitterheid, beskuldi­gings ens. te regverdig.

19a Dit was duidelik dat die mag van die duiwels bykans heeltemal op die mag van misleiding gebaseer was, maar hulle het die Christene tot so ʼn mate mislei dat hulle die Christene kon gebruik en die Christene sou dink dat hulle deur God gebruik word.  Dit het gebeur omdat amper almal vaandels van eiegeregtigheid gedra het sodat die mar­sjeerders nie eens die vaandels kon sien wat die ware aard van die afdelings aandui nie.

19b Toe ek na die agterhoede van die leër kyk, het ek die gevolg van die Be­skul­diger self gesien.  Ek het sy strategie begin verstaan en ek was verstom oor hoe eenvoudig dit was.  Hy het geweet dat `n verdeelde huis nie kan staan nie, en hierdie leër verteenwoordig `n poging om soveel verdeeld­heid in die kerk te saai dat die kerk heetemal die genade sal verbeur.  Dit was duidelik dat die enigste manier waarop hy dit kon bereik was deur om Christene te gebruik om teen hul eie broers te veg.  Dit is waarom bykans almal in die voorste linies Christene was, of dan ten minste belydende Christene.  Elke tree wat hierdie misleide gelowi­ges geneem het in gehoorsaamheid aan die Beskuldiger, het sy mag oor hulle versterk.  Dit het sy selfvertroue en die selfvertroue van sy bevelvoerders laat toeneem en die leër laat vorder en vorentoe marsjeer.  Dit was duidelik dat die mag van die leër daarvan afhang dat hierdie Christene saamgaan met die werkswyse van die bose.

Interpretasie

Die “Beskuldiger van ons Broeders” (16a) is die slang van ouds, wat ook duiwel en Satan genoem word (Op. 12:9-10).  Sy strategie is om mense, wat voorgee Christene te wees, maar lewe ooreenkomstig die beginsels van die magte van die duisternis, te gebruik om orals verdeeldheid te saai.  Satan het verreweg die grootste deel van die Christendom onder sy beheer.

Volgende: Christene wat deur die Helse Horde gevange gehou word

Colossian 2:16; Annual Sabbaths or Weekly?

The “Sabbath” in Colossians 2:16 does not refer to the annual Sabbaths, but to the weekly Sabbath, because the phrase “festivals, new moons, or Sabbaths”:

► Implies an annual, monthly and weekly sequence;
► Includes all of Israel’s holy days, also the weekly Sabbath.
► Already includes the annual Sabbaths in the “festivals”.

Different Laws

The weekly and annual Sabbaths are required by different Laws:

Weekly Sabbath

The weekly Sabbath is required by the Ten Commandments, which God wrote with own His finger on both sides of two stone tablets (Ex. 31:18; Deut. 9:10; Ex. 32:15-16; Deut. 4:13).  These stone tablets were put inside the Ark of the Covenant (Deut. 10:5), signifying that the Ten Commandments were at the center of the covenant.

Annual Sabbaths

The instructions for annual Sabbaths were contained in a book which was written up by Moses (Ex. 17:14; 24:4; Deut. 31:24, 26).  This book became known as the “Law of Moses” (Joshua 8:31; 23:6; 2 Kings 14:6; 2Chron. 34:14; etc.) or the “book of Moses” (2Chron. 35:12; Ezra 6:18; etc.).  It was kept “beside the Ark of the Covenant” (Deut. 31:26).  To quote typical verses:

just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the sons of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses” (Jos. 8:31).

Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there as a witness against you” (Deut. 31:26).

The annual Sabbaths were part of the seven annual feasts, and fell, like our annual holidays, on any day of the week.

Origin

Another important distinction between the weekly and annual Sabbaths is their origin:

The Seventh Day was blessed and sanctified at creation (Gen. 2:1-3).  Christ therefore could say that the Sabbath was made for man (all people) (Mark 2:27).  Many people are unable to believe the creation account, but at least must agree that Moses and Christ believed that the seventh day was sanctified at creation.

The annual Sabbaths were given to the Jews specifically, thousands of years later.

Which Sabbath is intended in Colossians 2:16?

It is sometimes said that the “Sabbath” in Colossians 2:16 does not refer to the weekly seventh day Sabbath, but to the annual Sabbaths.

Hebrews 10

This view is argued as follows:

The Sabbath in Col. 2:16 is “a shadow of things to come” (2:17).  A shadow, in this sense, is an image of a major future event.

Hebrews 10:1-10 also mentions a “shadow” and “things to come”.  In Hebrews 10 the “shadow” is the Jewish sacrificial system and the “things to come” are “the offering of the body of Jesus Christ” (Hebr. 10:10).

The CrossIt is then assumed that the “things to come” in Colossians 2:17 also refer to is “the offering of the body of Jesus Christ”.

Since “the offering of the body of Jesus Christ” is God’s solution to the sin problem, any shadow of His death must have been instituted after the entrance of sin into this world.  Since the Sabbaths in 2:16 are then a shadow of His death, they cannot refer to the weekly Sabbath because the weekly Sabbath was sanctified before sin (Exodus 20:8, 11).  It can only be the annual Sabbaths (Lev. 23).

The flaw in this argument is the assumption that the “things to come” refer to “the offering of the body of Jesus Christ”.  Colossians 2:16-17, which was written nearly 30 years after Christ’s death, says that the special days and Sabbaths “are (now, today) a shadow of things to come (in the future)”.  This means that the special days in 2:16-17, including the Sabbaths, do not point to Christ’s death, but to His second coming and the renewal of all things.  It is argued below that the festivals and annual Sabbaths do also point to the renewal of all things, but the same applies to the weekly Sabbath.  Hebrews 4 describes the weekly Sabbath as a shadow of the eternal rest in the new heavens and new earth.  The Sabbaths in Colossians 2:16 may therefore include the weekly Sabbath.

Sabbaths (Plural)

A second argument sometimes used, to show that the “Sabbath” in Colossians 2:16 refers to the annual Sabbaths, is that the Greek term for Sabbath in Colossians 2:16 is plural in form (sabbaton) and that it is better to apply it to the annual Sabbaths, of which there were many in a year.  But this argument does not hold because sabbaton is quite frequently translated “Sabbath” (singular) because the context indicates that it must be singular, for instance:

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath (Sabbaton)” (Mat 12:1; see also verses 2, 5, 8, 10, 11 and 12).

But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath (Sabbaton)” (Mat 24:20).

Matthew 28:1, “Now after the Sabbath (Sabbaton)

They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach” (Mar 1:21).

Luke 4:16, “He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath

Acts 16:13, “And on the Sabbath day

It is the Weekly Sabbath.

Further proof that the Sabbath in 2:16-17 refers to the weekly Sabbath includes the following:

Firstly, the sequencefestivals, new moons, or Sabbaths” is found several times in the Old Testament (2 Chron. 2:4; 31:3; Neh. 10:33; Eze. 45:17; Hosea 2:11) and also several times in literature outside the Bible (Jub. 1:14; Jos. Ber. 3:11; Justin, Dialogue 8:4.).  At times the order is reversed, but “new moon” is always in the middle.  Since the festivals were annual and the new moons were monthly, the sequence implies that the Sabbaths were weekly.

Secondly, the phrase “festivals, new moons, or Sabbaths” was used as a composite technical term to refer to all of Israel’s holy days, which means that this phrase must include the Sabbath.   See the separate discussion of “Feasts … New Moons … Sabbaths” for more detail.

This is confirmed by Numbers 23, which lists Israel’s holy days, including the weekly Sabbath.  The implication is that the weekly Sabbath was regarded as part of the system of holy days.

Thirdly, all the verses that refer to the sequence “festivals … new moons … Sabbaths” actually are a summary of the daily, weekly, monthly and annual sacrifices prescribed in Numbers 28.  Many of these verses that refer to the sequence “festivals … new moons … Sabbaths” refer explicitly to sacrifices, for instance:

to offer all burnt offerings to the LORD, on the sabbaths, the new moons and the fixed festivals” (1Chr. 23:31).

The Sabbath in Colossians 2:16 at least includes the weekly Sabbaths because Colossians 2:16 is based on Numbers 28, and Numbers 28 include sacrifices for the weekly Sabbath:

  • Daily:a continual burnt offering every day” (v3-8)
  • Weekly:on the sabbath day … every sabbath” (28:9-10)
  • Monthly:at the beginning of each of your month” (new moons) (28:11-15), and
  • Annual: the feast days (28:16-40); “the LORD’S Passover” (v16), “feast, unleavened bread” (v17) and “the day of the first fruits” (v26).

Fourthly, the annual Sabbaths are already included in the “festivals” in the sequence “festivals … new moon … Sabbath day” (2:16).  If “a Sabbath day” meant the annual Sabbaths there would be a needless repetition.

The evidence is therefore that the Sabbath in 2:16-17 refers to the weekly Sabbath.

TO: Colossians Table of Contents

TO: General Table of Contents