Monday, September 23, 2013

Reflected and Radiated Glory in the Book of Hebrews

Clouds - somewhere in the air between Detroit and Chicago

Yesterday I began preaching through the biblical book of Hebrews. I preached out of Hebrews 1:1-4. These are dense, beautiful, killer-Christological sentences!

If you're part of our Redeemer family I encourage you to begin using Hebrews for your alone times with God. We'll be in it for many weeks. Slow-read through the whole book over and over, getting it into your heart and mind.

In a moment of understatement Ben Witherington writes that Hebrews 1:3 is very important for Christology. It reads: 

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Of the first half of this verse Gregory of Nyssa wrote:

"As the light from the lamp is of the nature of that which sheds the brightness, and is united with it (for as soon as the lamp appears the light that comes from it shines out simultaneously), so in this place the [author of Hebrews] would have us consider both that the Son is of the Father, and that the Father is never without the Son; for it is impossible that glory should be without radiance, as it is impossible that the lamp should be without brightness." (In Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers)

Consider this analogy: the moon reflects light; the sun is light and radiates light. The difference between Christ the Son and prophets and even angels is that while the latter may reflect the glory of God, the Son is God and thus radiates glory. Consider what this could mean for Jesus-followers whose new status is "Christ in you, the hope of glory."

"The word translated “radiance”, used only here in the New Testament, carries the sense of “splendor” or “intense brightness.””
"He [the Son] is the radiance of God’s glory, rather than simply the reflection."
- Peter O'Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews