A Son: Prophet, Priest, and King

I. The Reality and Finality of Divine Revelation – “God spoke . . . God has spoken”

A. The Grace of Revelation – That God has not left us to seek the knowledge of him by reflection on general revelation is a great, unsurpassable grace. This is seen in several  issues.

1. Our hardness of heart has made us deflect a true interpretation of general revelation so that what may be known of God, even his eternal power and godhead, is perverted and turned to sinister and destructive purposes.

2. Even if we were to draw right conclusions from a knowledge standpoint, such revelation would give no redemption for we are by federal connection with Adam as well as from moral choice from the moment of our conception actually involved in transgression. We would know the might, power, holiness, wisdom, and just anger of God but would have no sphere within which the knowledge of his mercy, grace, lovingkindness, patience were revealed and would despair of any place for forgiveness and any opportunity for redemption.

3. Christ culminates all prophecy in Himself and is himself the prophet Moses spoke about (Deuteronomy 18:18). When Jesus commissioned his apostles and gave prophets to the churches (1 Corinthians 12:28, Ephesians 2:20, 3:5) that was to complete what they were unable to receive during his incarnation (John 16:12-15). When the apostolic work was done so ended the revelatory operation of the Spirit in prophecy. “God has spoken.”

B. Revelation through the Prophets – The prophets were many, for the work of each could only be partial. The time span was from Enoch, the seventh generation from Adam through John the Baptist. John was the greatest (Luke 7:26-28), for he, as a prophet, pointed immediately to the Son of God in the flesh as the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. No greater knowledge and no more important prophecy was ever given to a mere man up to that point than was given from above to John the Baptist.

C. Revelation through the Son – Since the close of the pre-incarnation prophetic era, and the initiation of the Son’s work, the world has been in the last days. The word “Son” is without any article and thus denotes the character or quality of the noun used. It is thus from a grammatical standpoint not “His Son, or “the Son” but “A Son,” that is, through one who qualitatively has intrinsic sonship. Not, prophets, mere men appointed to this task, but a son (cf. John 5:18, 19, 21, 26) has put an end to all prophetic ministry. No more pointing ahead to the coming of the Lord, but now the Lord has come. The word “Son” designates one that shares union in the nature of deity with the Father. He does not merely talk about God, he is God and is the eternally generated expression of the infinite and perfect satisfaction that God has in himself. His eternal generation is seen in verse 5 [the word “today” signifies always being present before God as Son}, verse 6 and 7, show the recognition of his deity at his birth, verses 8 and 9 show the affirmation of his deity even as he accomplishes righteousness through his obedience as a man. And verse 10-12 show the recognition of his deity by pointing to the mutability of creation and his immutability.

II.  His Eternal Dignity

A. Heir of all things – This involves inheritance both by intrinsic authority [see below III.A] as well as the reception f the inheritance through merit.

B. Carries out the divine action of Creation – Scripture is clear that the Son is, as it were, the channel through whom creation arises. As the Son is the embodiment of all the Father’s love and knowledge so he shines forth as the one in whom all the power and purpose of God finds visible expression through the created order.

C. Exhibits all the intrinsic glory of God – For this reason, creation, to us, seems virtually infinite—it is impossible for us to conceive of a point anywhere beyond which there would be absolutely nothing. But creation in finality is finite and has its being in God who extends beyond it in glory and infinite immensity. When we exhaust space then God, who penetrates space and all created things with limited expressions of his glory, still resides in illimitable presence, all of him everywhere, his own self constituting the infinity other than which it is impossible to conceive. And it the Son that is the radiant expression of all the immeasurable glories of God.

D. Sustains the created order by the same power with which he created it. Creation even now does not exist on its own. It is not self-existent but dependent on the Son as the expression of divine power for its moment by moment continuation. Creation had a beginning when God, through the Son, spoke it into existence, and that same word that gave rise to all finite and temporal substance gives it continuation by the same rational expression of power.

III. His merited Dignity

A. “Appointed” heir of all things – As the Son of God eternally, He is naturally the heir of all things for he made them all. But as the mediator between God and man he is “appointed” the heir of all things now that his work is complete and the status of mediator is secured. See 2:17

B. Made Purification for Sins – This is one of the major themes of Hebrews, that is, that Jesus, in reality, not merely symbolically, has made purification for sins and has rendered  redemption a fitting thing for God to do without any compromise of his character or word in so doing. [2:10.14; 4:14 ff.; 5:8-10; 6:19, 20; 7:16, 22, 25, 27; 8:6, 12; 9:9, 14, 24-26; 10:10, 12-14, 19-24; 12:22-24; 13:12, 20-21.]

C. Sat Down, having completed a work in human nature, but worthy of the divine nature  See this affirmation in 10:12 also.

D. Having Become as much superior –

1. In his eternality he already was superior to the angels as their creator. Paul gives a clear view of this status of superiority in Colossians 1:16, “For by all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” Thus as the agent of creation, the subserviency of all things to him is a manifestation of his superiority and that all things find their purpose in their service of his glory and his purposes.

2. In his work as priest, however, he gained a superior position. “Having become as much superior to the angels.” The Son of God took the position of humanity in being for this brief while lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:9) in order to achieve a higher status than they. It is to this exalted status that he brings his people that are joined to him in his redemptive work.

3. In his completed work according to the provisions of the eternal covenant, he has inherited the substance involved in the name “Jesus.” He is truly savior. No one else has done what Jesus did, and there is no salvation outside his name. ”You shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.”   “No other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved;”   “At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow.”

IV. The Offices of Prophet, Priest, and King – As the Christ, the anointed one, Jesus fills up the meaning of each of the offices operative in Israel. This text introduces us to the argument of Hebrews as to how Jesus has attained superiority in each office and how he has brought each to its ultimate fulfillment by uniting them in  one person. The focus is on the priestly work, for that is the labor of his incarnation that gives his prophetic work and his kingly reign its redemptive and gracious power. The phrases in our text, in summary, that point to his completion of these offices:

A. Prophet – “He has spoken to us by his Son”

B. Priest – “After making purification for sins”

C. King – “He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

Tom has most recently served as the Professor of Historical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He previously taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he was Professor of Church History and Chair of the Department of Church History. Prior to that, he taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Along with numerous journal articles and scholarly papers, Dr. Nettles is the author and editor of fifteen books. Among his books are By His Grace and For His Glory; Baptists and the Bible, James Petigru Boyce: A Southern Baptist Statesman, and Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles H. Spurgeon.
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