Understanding Hebrews 1
Understanding Hebrews 1

Understanding Hebrews 1

Hebrews 1:1-4, “Through whom he created the world”

Foremost, it is important to note that the context of Hebrews 1 is clarified by the statement of Hebrews 2:5 “For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking” which qualifies what comes before it. This puts the entire context of Hebrews 1 in reference to the world to come, the new creation. It is not the original creation that is being addressed in Hebrews 1:2-4. The current state of affairs is in reference to Jesus being exalted and becoming much superior to angels. The key phrase that proceeds, through “whom he created the world”  is “whom he appointed the heir of all things.” The world which is being addressed is the newly established order, with Jesus exalted above all creation (having been appointed the heir of all things). In fact, the word translated as the world in Greek is αἰών (aiōn) which actually means ages—properly understood as the ages to come. Key words as they apply to Jesus in this passage are “appointed,” heir,” “having become,” and “inherited.” These are all an indication that the authority Jesus has is given to him by the one God and Father, and that he was not in possession of it, to begin with.

It should also be noted that the word translated “universe” in Greek actually means “all” which again pertains to the new order, the new administration of the Kingdom of God through his appointed Son, Jesus the messiah. Popular translations exhibit a bias such as indicating as high a Christology as possible and blurring the lines to the extent possible between the anointed of God, and the God that anointed him. 

Hebrews 1:1-4 (ESV), “Through whom he created the world”

1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. 

Hebrews 2:5 (ESV), “the world to come, of which we are speaking”

5 For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking.

“world” (ESV) / “ages” (REV), REV Commentary

The Greek word is the plural of aiōn (αἰών ) and means “ages.” This verse is referring to the “ages,” not the “world.” Vine’s Lexicon has, “an age, a period of time, marked in the N.T. usage by spiritual or moral characteristics, is sometimes translated ‘world;’ the R.V. margin always has ‘age.’” Bullinger’s Critical Lexicon has: “Aion [age], from aoaemi, to blow, to breathe. Aion denoted originally the life which hastes away in the breathing of our breath, life as transitorythen the course of life, time of life, life in its temporal form. Then, the space of a human life, an age, or generation in respect of duration. The time lived or to be lived by men, time as moving, historical time as well as eternity. Aion always includes a reference to the filling of time.”

Since most translators are Trinitarian and think that Jesus was the one who made the original heavens and earth, they translate “ages” as “world,” or even “universe” in this verse. There are other Greek words that mean “world,” such as kosmos and oikoumene, and when the Devil tempted Jesus by showing him all the kingdoms of the “world,” these words are used. In Hebrews 1:2 aiōn means “ages,” and should be translated that way.

Trinitarians use Hebrews 1:2 to try to prove that Jesus Christ created the world as we know it, but the context of the verse shows that cannot be the correct interpretation. Heb. 1:1-2 show that God spoke through Jesus “in these last days,” whereas God had spoken “in the past” in various other ways. If indeed it were through Jesus that the physical world was created, then one of the ways that God spoke in the past was through Jesus. But that would contradict the whole point of the verse, which is saying that God spoke in other ways in the past, but “in these last days” is speaking through the Son.

Since Heb. 1:1-2 say that it was “God” who spoke through prophets and through His Son, it is clear that God is the prime mover and thus different from the Son. These verses show that the Son is subordinate to God and, as a “mouthpiece” for God, is compared to the prophets.

The fact that God appointed the Son to be “heir” shows that God and the Son are not equal. For the Son to be the “heir” means that there was a time when he was not the owner. The word “heir” is a common one and, because death and inheritance are a part of every culture, it occurs in all the biblical languages. Any dictionary will show that an heir is one who inherits, succeeds or receives an estate, rank, title, or office of another. By definition, you cannot be an heir if you are already the owner. No one in history ever wrote a will that said, “My heir and the inheritor of my estate is…ME!” If Christ is God, then he cannot be “heir.” The only way he can be an heir is by not being the original owner. That Christ is an “heir” is inconsistent with Trinitarian doctrine, which states that Christ is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father. If Christ were God, then he was part owner all along and thus is not the “heir” at all. These verses teach that God is the original owner, and will give all things to His heir, Jesus Christ. It is obvious from the wording of these first two verses that the author of Hebrews does not consider Christ to be God.

Since aionas means “ages” and not “world,” it is fair to ask in what sense God has given form to the ages through Jesus. The Greek word from which “given form” is translated is poieō, a word with very many meanings. Alone, and in combination with other words, it is translated more than 100 different ways in the NIV. Some of the ways poieō is translated are: accomplish, acted, appointed, are, be, bear, began, been, bring, carry out, cause, committed, consider, do, earned, exercise, formed, gain, give, judge, kept, made, obey, performed, preparing, produce, provide, put into practice, reached, spend, stayed, treated, was, win, work, wrote, and yielded. Although most people read poieo in Hebrews 1:2 as referring to the original creation, it does not have to mean that at all. The context dictates that the “ages” being referred to are the ages after Christ’s resurrection. In Heb. 1:2, Christ became heir after his resurrection. In Heb. 1:3, he then sat at God’s right hand after his resurrection. Heb. 1:5-6 also refer to the resurrection. The context makes it clear that God was not speaking through His Son in the past, but that He has spoken “in these last days” through His Son, and “given form to” the ages through him.

“upholds the universe by the word of his power” (ESV) / “is upholding all things by his powerful word” (REV), REV Commentary

This anticipates Jesus Christ, as the representation of God, being the “King of kings” who upheld things by his powerful commands, and the Messiah as king, though not directly stated, is even clearer in Hebrews 1:5-13 than it is here. The Greek text reads “word of his power,” translated as “powerful word.” Putting both “word” and “power” in the sentence as nouns emphasizes them both equally (nouns usually have more emphasis grammatically than adjectives). However, it makes the English translation more difficult to understand. The genitive noun “power” has the effect of an adjective, thus we, and many versions, have “powerful word.”

Hebrews 1:8-9 in reference to Psalms 46:6-7

Hebrews 1:8-10 is applied to Jesus from Psalm 45:6-7. 

Hebrews 1:8-9 (ESV), like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed

8 But of the Son [he says], “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom 9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”

Psalms 45:6-7 (ESV), God, your God, has anointed you

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; 7 you have loved righteousness and hated wickednessTherefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;


Psalm 45 is addressed to the king, the most handsome of the sons of men, to whom grace has been poured upon and whom God has blessed forever (Psalm 45:1-2). The coming messiah who God will anoint is called mighty one (Psalm 45:3), not because he is by very nature god but because God has anointed him (Psalm 45:7). The anointed of God is always a servant of God distinguished from God. We know, that in a limited sense, servants of God can be called God (John 10:34-36). In the truest sense, there is no God but one (1 Cor 8:5). The Father is the only true God (John 17:5). Although there are many so-called gods and so-called lords, us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist (1 Cor 8:5-6).  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5)

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever”, REV Commentary

Hebrews 1:8 is a reference to Psalm 45:6 which has possibilities for the translation of “Your throne is from God,” or “Your throne is a throne of God” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary). “Your throne is God forever” means that God is the authority, the “throne” of the king, and the king reigns with the authority of God. This king, and by extension the Messiah, the true king of Israel, has been graced and blessed by God (Ps. 45:2). In that light, it is appropriate that this king recognizes that God is the source of his kingly authority, which is the point of Psalm 45:9. Psalm 45 is a royal wedding psalm for a Davidic king, perhaps even Solomon, and by extension, some of it applies to the Messiah. He is called “the king” and “Solomon” in this commentary entry for ease of understanding, but another Davidic king may be in mind.

The Hebrew text of Psalm 45:6 is open to a number of different interpretations and translations. Allen Ross writes: “…there are at least five plausible interpretations” (Kregel Exegetical Library: A Commentary on the Psalms, Vol. 2). Given the possible translations, we may never be able to say, “This is the single correct interpretation,” but we can give evidence for what seems to be the most viable translation and interpretation. Robert Alter, in The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary, translates Psalm 45:7 as “Your throne of God is forevermore,” and he writes in the commentary, “Some construe the Hebrew here to mean, ‘Your throne, O God,” but it would be anomalous to have an address to God in the middle of the poem because the entire psalm is directed the king or to his bride.”

To understand Psalm 45:6, we must first learn some facts about it. For example, the speaker is the psalmist, not God. The psalmist speaks about God in the third person, for example, “God has blessed you forever” (Ps. 45:2), and “God has anointed you” (Ps. 45:7). Some people think God is the speaker, but the text argues against that. Also, the psalm is a “dual prophecy” psalm. The subject of the psalm is the king of Israel, both the Davidic king who reigns on David’s throne (likely Solomon), who marries and has children (see commentary on Ps. 45:9) and also the Messiah, the “greater David” who will eventually inherit the throne forever. Thus, some verses in the psalm more clearly point to the Messiah while others more clearly point to the Davidic king, such as the ones about him having a queen, being married and having sons. Since Psalm 45 contains dual prophecies (as we saw above), and Psalm 45:6-7 apply both to Solomon and the Messiah, if the verse is calling the king “God,” then that would make both Solomon and the Messiah God, which is untenable, and there is no internal reason to apply Psalm 45:6 to the Messiah without verse 7 applying to the same king

Psalm 45 was God’s revelation to the Jews to inform them about their king, and the Jews read the Psalm for centuries and knew it was ultimately about their Messiah, but never concluded that the Messiah was “God in the flesh” or part of a Triune God. That the Jews knew that Psalm 45 ultimately referred to their Messiah is preserved in their writing. For example, the Targum (an Aramaic commentary on the Old Testament) interprets Psalm 45:2 as, “Thy beauty, O king Messiah, is greater than that of the sons of men” (Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI. Part two, p. 718). So if God gave the revelation to His people to tell them the Messiah would be God, His effort was an epic failure, and that is good evidence that the psalm is not saying the Messiah was God in the flesh.

There are a number of statements in Psalm 45 that show that the king in the psalm is not God, but is a human being. For example, Psalm 45:2 says, “You are the most beautiful of the sons of men,” thus identifying him as a human by using the common idiom for a human, “son of man,” and then going on to say, “God has blessed you forever.” In saying that this “son of man” (human being) has been blessed by God, the psalm gives even more evidence that the king being referred to is not God. There is no evidence in Scripture for God being blessed by God, and there does not seem to be a reason or need for that, but humans do need to be blessed by God and are often so blessed in Scripture. More Evidence that the psalm is speaking of a human king is in Psalm 45:7, which says, “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of exultation above your peers.” That the text calls God, “your God,” i.e., the king’s God, shows that the king is inferior to God. “God” does not have a God.

Furthermore, the king’s God “anointed” him, setting him above his “peers.” This is evidence against a Trinitarian interpretation of the verse for a number of reasons. One is that “God” does not have any peers to be set above, whereas the human king of Israel, including the Messiah, does have peers. The Messiah, Jesus Christ, did have peers because he was completely human and not a God-man as Trinitarian theology asserts. Also, Psalm 45:7 says this king loved righteousness and hated wickedness, and “therefore” God anointed him. This makes perfect sense if the king is human, but if this king is “God,” was he really anointed because he loved righteousness? It makes no sense that “God” needed to be anointed at all and neither does it make sense that God was anointed because he “loved righteousness.” Since by definition God is righteous and loves righteousness, it makes no sense to say God was anointed because He loved righteousness. In summary, Psalm 45 is not God speaking to God. It is the psalmist speaking, and the subject is a human king.

Many Biblical Unitarians accept a translation of Psalm 45:6 that is very similar to the common Trinitarian translation. However, they recognize that “Elohim” (“God” or “god”) can refer to a human being, and in this case they apply it to a human king and human Messiah. A common Biblical Unitarian translation is: “Your throne, O god, is forever and ever.” Agents of God can be called God. (John 10:34-36, Psalms 82:6-7, Exodus 7:1, Exodus 21:6, Exodus 22:8-9). The one who is being called God here is applied to the one anointed by God. The term God refers to the power and supreme authority that he will have in this kingdom that is established and upheld by him. The messiah is not literally God but has divine authority as God’s chosen agent to rule the world in righteousness. This is evident in verse 9 where it says “God, your God, has anointed you”. That is, the one anointed by God is “God” in the sense he is the one chosen by God to rule. He is God by proxy but not by ontology. For more on this see the Biblical concept of Agency see https://biblicalagency.com

Some of the above commentary is from the REV (Revised English Version) Bible Commentary, used with permission,

Hebrews 1:10-12 in reference to Psalms 102:25-28

A common misreading is conflating Hebrews 1:10 with Psalms 102:25 in such a way that Jesus is inferred to be the one who “of old laid the foundation of the earth,” and thus Jesus is the creator God. However, this is to misrepresent the association of Hebrews 1:8-9 with Hebrews 1:10-12. Let’s look at verses of Psalms quoted in Hebrews and the quotation of Hebrews 1:10-12.

Hebrews 1:10-12 (ESV), like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed

10 And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; 11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, 12 like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”

Psalms 102:25-28 (ESV), Like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed

25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 26 They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away27 but you are the same, and your years have no end. 28 The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you.

“Of old you laid the foundation of the earth – like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed”

Hebrews 1:10-12 is a reference of Psalm 102:25-28. The verse in Hebrews is quoted from the Septuagint text of the Old  Testament, which differs somewhat from the Hebrew text. Verses 10-12 are associated with verses 8-9 by the “and” but the association is not specified. Trinitarians conflate the “you, Lord” who laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning with the “of the Son” of verse 8. However, the correct association is “God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions” with “like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed.” That is, God’s plan is to use his anointed one to judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:30-31). Through Christ, God’s appointed agent, God will reconcile all things to himself. (1 Cor 15:24-28)

Hebrews 1:10-12 is a prophetic reference that refers to the new creation rather than the original creation. If we simply continue to read Hebrews, remembering that the original text had no chapter breaks, Hebrews 2:5 provides the clarification, “It is not to angels that He has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking.” Accordingly, the subject of this section of Hebrews is not the current heavens and earth, which God created, but the future heavens and earth, which the Son will oversee.

Many Old Testament and New Testament references tell us that there will be new heavens and earth after this one, that we are currently inhabiting, passes away. First, the heaven and earth of Jesus’ 1000-year Millennial Kingdom, which will perish (Isaiah 65:17; Rev. 20:1-10), and then the heaven and earth of Revelation 21:1-22:21, which will last forever. The context would suggest that Hebrews 1:10 is speaking of these future heavens and earth. Hebrews 1:6, which says, “when He again brings the firstborn into the world”, is a reference to Jesus’ function as the founder of the coming world of the Kingdom. Occasional verses which may have an ambiguous association with each other must not override the plain evidence distributed through Scripture.

Some of the above commentary is from the REV (Revised English Version) Bible Commentary, used with permission

Acts 17:30-31 (ESV), God will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed

30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

1 Corinthians 15:24-28 (ESV), God has put all things in subjection under his feet.

24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

Hebrews 2:5 (ESV), God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking

5 For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking.

Isaiah 65:17 (ESV), “I create new heavens and a new earth”

17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.

Revelation 21:1-2 (ESV), I saw a new heaven and a new earth

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.d