Hebrews 1:10 and the Age to Come
By Anthony Buzzard
On the recent radio discussions with Drs. James White and Michael Brown we learned how
Trinitarians hope to persuade us.
They turn to Hebrews 1:10. Here in a catena (chain) of proof texts, the Hebrews writer seeks to prove that Jesus, the Son of God, is superior to angels. This approach ought really to show immediately that the writer did not think Jesus was [Yahweh]! You don't need 7 verses to prove that Jesus is better than all angels or better than Moses, if you believe that Jesus is God Himself. All you have to say is "Jesus is God."
That would be the end of the argument. And one really ought not to imagine that Jesus was ever an angel, after reading Hebrews 1!
The whole point of the argument is that Jesus is not and never was or will be an angel! The whole point is missed if we do not grasp that Jesus is the begotten Son of God as predicted by the overarchingly important Ps. 2:7.
Hebrews 1:10 says of the Son of God that he "laid the foundation of the heaven and the earth."
There are three "proof texts" addressed to the Son in Hebrews 1:8-13. These three make the same important point about how the Son began. There is no hint in the text that they refer to someone other than the Son. Verse 8 begins,
"But of the Son He [God] says ... "(Heb. 1:8) Then follow three different corroborating quotes. The series ends in verse 13 with a final proof that Jesus was not an angel:
"But to which of the angels did He [God] ever say ... "
Psalm 110:1 is then quoted as referring to the Son,
Jesus. That Son is the adoni of Psalm 110:1 who is not Yahweh.
Psalm 110: 1 frames the whole discussion and shows that Jesus cannot be Yahweh
(though Jesus is of course His agent - see Anthony Harvey, Jesus and the Constraints of History, and James McGrath, Early Jewish and Christian Monotheism and James Dunn, Did The First Christians Worship Jesus? (2010) )
Much of chapter 1 of Hebrews compares the Son of God with angels, showing that the Son was never an angel and is superior to them. This proves that the Son cannot be God! It is not necessary to prove God superior to the angels. It is obvious. Equally clear is the fact that the Son cannot be an angel or archangel as maintained by Jehovah's Witnesses. Both angels and archangels (chief angels) are angels! (Heb. 5:1). And holy angels are immortal (Luke 20:36), which would make the death of Jesus the Son of God impossible. The Son of God came into existence in Mary (Luke 1:35), his origin(genesis) is described in Matt. 1:18, 20. He was begotten, not just conceived, as stated in the Greek of Matt. 1:20. No angels were begotten in that way!
What then of Hebrews 1:10? In what sense is the Son the founder of the heavens and earth? How can this be since Jesus nowhere claimed to be the Creator and it was not Jesus,
but God who rested on the seventh day (Heb. 4:4)? Did Jesus do all the work and yet not rest on the seventh day?
"God [not Jesus] made them male and female"(Mark 10:6) and "The Lord God [not Jesus] formed man
of dust from the ground"(Gen. 2:7). Fifty texts say that God, the
Father, created the heavens and the earth.
Luke 1:35, Matthew 1:18, 20 and 1 John 5:18 (not KJV) say that the Son did not exist until he was created/begotten in Mary. Heb. 1:1-2 tell us that God did not speak in a Son during OT times. This is because the Son did not yet exist.
Was Jesus both six months younger than John the Baptist and
billions of years older? Was Jesus 30 years old when he began his public
ministry and yet really billions plus 30 years old? What part of Jesus was 30
and what part was billions of years old?
Jesus cannot be so divided up, split in two. Mary bore a human being. She did not bear an angel. She did not bear GOD. She did not bear "impersonal human nature," as Trinitarian theory says. She did not take in a person from the outside. She conceived and bore a baby. Mary bore a lineal, biological son of David. Otherwise Jesus does not qualify to be the Messiah. Romans 1:1-4 says that God's Son was a descendant of David, and he was later installed as
Son of God with power at the resurrection, but he was not Son of God for the first time when resurrected. He was begotten as predicted by Ps. 2:7, in time, today, not in eternity.
God cannot be begotten, and the Son of God was begotten. Even the Dead Sea Scrolls speak of an expected time when God will beget (bring into existence) the Son of God. They too used 2 Samuel 7:14 and Psalm 2:7 to indicate the beginning of the expected Messiah. The immortal God (1 Tim. 6:16) cannot die. The Son of God died (Rom. 5:10).God cannot be tempted (James 1:13), yet the Son of God was tempted. Not to observe these category differences is to throw away precious biblical instruction.
Hebrews 1:1-2 says that God did not speak through a Son in the Old Testament times. Verse 2 also says that God made the ages through Jesus. This could refer to the ages of the new creation which Jesus introduced or it may refer to Jesus, as Wisdom, being the reason for God's creation of everything. Hebrews 1:5, quoting the prophecy of Psalm 2:7, speaks of the coming into existence of Jesus, the Son:
"Today I have begotten you"
(so also the LXX of Ps. 110:3 and many Hebrew manuscripts).
The same first chapter of Hebrews speaks of 2 Samuel 7:14's marvelous promise, given a thousand years before Jesus' birth, that God "will be a father to him and he will be a son." That promise was given to David and it referred to the Messiah who was to come. The beginning of Messiah's existence is the moment when God becomes the Father of the Messiah. Acts 13:33 refers also to the beginning of Jesus' existence, his "raising up" (not "raising up again" as wrongly translated in the KJV), and verse 34, by contrast, to his resurrection. The same beginning of the Son is exactly what we find in Luke 1:35 and Matthew 1:20 ("that which is begotten in her is from the holy spirit").
Isaiah 44:24 says that God, unaccompanied, unaided, created the Genesis heavens and earth. He was entirely alone. "Who was with me?" At the time of the Genesis creation there was no Son with Him (cf. Heb. 1:1-2).
God spoke first in a Son in the New Testament. So then who
said, "Let there be light"? It would be a flat contradiction of Hebrews 1:1-2 to
say it was the Son. The God of the Old Testament is quite distinct from
His unique Son.
The latter had his genesis in Matthew 1:18 ("The origin of Jesus the Messiah was like this", TNIV).
The Bible becomes a book of incomprehensible riddles if God can have a Son literally before He brings him into existence! Luke 1:35 describes how the Son of God came to exist. He was begotten. To beget in the Bible and in English is a word which of all words denotes a before and after. Therefore the Son had a beginning. There was a time before he was begotten, before he was. If he already existed, these testimonies in Matthew 1 and Luke 1 are nonsense. Mary bore a human being, not God or an angel. Human mothers bear humans. Mary certainly did not just bear "human nature," and "human nature" as Mary's son would not be the descendant of David and thus not the Messiah. (The creeds try to frighten us away from this beginning of the Son, telling us that if we say "there was a time when the Son did not exist" we are heretics and anathematized - see the anathemas at Nicea, 325 AD. No one wants to be cursed by the Church).
The notion that the Son of God was in fact God would strongly
reduce the meaning of his whole struggle in obedience to God and on our behalf
as Savior and model. The whole point of a High Priest is that he must be
"selected from among men" (Heb. 5:1). He is the "man Messiah
Jesus" in contrast to his Father (1 Tim. 2:5). The Father in John 17:3 is "the only one who is God," as distinct
from His Son who is excluded from that category.
If God is the only one who is God; no one else is God except the Father, which is exactly what Paul declared when rehearsing the creed in 1 Corinthians 8:
"There is no God except the one God the Father"
(combining vv. 4 and 6).
He added, not "splitting the Shema" or expanding it as Tom Wright
and others say; that Jesus is the one Lord Messiah!
All that had been well said by Luke, who agreed with Paul when he spoke of the Lord Messiah (Luke 2:11) who is "the Lord's Messiah"(Luke 2:26).
If the Son were God, there would be two Gods. To call Jesus God and the Father God is not strict monotheism, however much the label may be applied. The Bible nowhere uses "God" to mean a triune or biune God.
In Hebrews 1:10, there is a complication (requiring detailed study) due to the fact that the writer quotes Psalm 102 from the Greek version (LXX) and not the Hebrew version.
The LXX (Septuagint) has a different sense entirely in Psalm 102:23-25. The LXX reads differently from the Hebrew text. LXX gives us God's reply to the suppliant. The LXX, quoted in Hebrews 1:10, says:
"He [God] answered him [the suppliant] ... Tell me [God speaking to the suppliant] ... Thou, lord [God addressing someone else called 'lord'].
But the Hebrew text has:
"He [God] weakened me ... I [the suppliant] say, 'O my God ... '"
Thus the LXX speaks of a second "lord" who is addressed by God:
"At the beginning you founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands" (v. 25).
The writer to the Hebrews had open before him the LXX and not the
Hebrew (rather as today someone might quote the NIV instead of the
The New Testament often cites the LXX Greek. F.F. Bruce in the New International Commentary on Hebrews explains:
"In the Septuagint text the person to whom these words ["of old you laid the foundation of the earth"] are spoken is addressed explicitly as "Lord,"and it is God who addresses him thus. Whereas in the Hebrew text the suppliant is the speaker from the beginning to the end of the psalm, in the Greek text his prayer comes to an end with v. 22, and the next words read as follows:
"He [God] answered him [the suppliant] in the way of his
'Declare to Me the shortness of My days: Bring Me not up in the midst of My days. Thy [the suppliant's] years are throughout all generations. Thou, lord [the suppliant, viewed here as the Messiah by Hebrews], in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth.' "
This is God's answer to the suppliant; He bids him acknowledge the shortness of God's set time (for the restoration of Jerusalem, as in v. 13) and not summon Him [God] to act when that set time has only half expired, while He [God] assures him [the suppliant, called lord by God] that he and his servants' children will be preserved forever.
(Bacon suggested that the Hebrew, as well as the Greek, text of this psalm formed a basis for messianic [i.e. future Kingdom] eschatology, especially its reference to the "shortness" of God's days, i.e., of the period destined to elapse before the consummation of His purpose [the arrival of the yet future Messianic Kingdom on earth]; he found here the OT background of Matt. 24:22, Mark 13:20 and
Ep. Barn. 4.3 ("as Enoch says, 'For to this end the Master [God] has cut short the times and the days, that his Beloved [Jesus] should make haste and come to his inheritance' ").
But to whom (a Christian reader of the Septuagint might well ask) could God speak in words like these? And whom would God himself address as "Lord,"as the maker [or founder] of earth and heaven?
Reading the LXX the Hebrews writer sees an obvious
reference to the new heavens and earth of the future Kingdom and he sees God
addressing the Messianic Lord in connection with the prophecies of the
rest of Psalm 102 which speak of "the generation to come" (v.
18) and of the set time for Yahweh to build up Zion and appear in His glory [the
The fact that the One YHVH addresses another "lord"proves that the second lord cannot be YHVH.
The important article by B.W. Bacon (alluded to by Bruce above) stresses the fact that "The word 'lord' is wholly absent from the Hebrew [and English] text of Psalm 102:25." But it appears in the LXX cited by Hebrews.
Yahweh addresses another, who is not Yahweh, but another lord, in this case the Messiah. "He [Yahweh] answered him, ... at the start you, lord, laid the foundation ... "(LXX Ps. 101:24; Heb. Ps. 102):
[With the translation in the LXX "he answered him"] the whole passage down to the end of the psalm becomes the answer of Yahweh to the suppliant who accordingly appears to be addressed as kurie [lord] and creator of heaven and earth...Instead of understanding the verse as a complaint of the psalmist at the shortness of his days which are cut off in the midst, LXX and the Vulgate understand the utterance to be Yahweh's answer to the psalmist's plea that he will intervene to save Zion, because "it is time to have pity on her, yea, the set time is come"(v.13). He is bidden acknowledge (or prescribe?) the shortness of Yahweh's set time, and not to summon Him when it is but half expired. On the other hand he [the Messianic lord] is promised that his own endurance shall be perpetual with the children of his servants.
This is exactly the point, and it can only be made clear when
we see that ...
1) the Hebrews writer is reading the LXX, not the Hebrew text, and finding in the second half of the psalm a wonderful prophecy of the age to come
(Kingdom, restoration of Israel, new creation) which fits his context in Hebrews 1 exactly, and that...
2) there is a Messianic Lord addressed by Yahweh and invited to initiate a founding of the heaven and earth, the new political order in Palestine, exactly as said in Isaiah 51:16. This is precisely the message the Hebrews writer wants to convey about the superiority of Jesus over angels. Jesus is the founder of that coming new Kingdom order. The Hebrews writer in 2:5 tells us expressly that it is about "the inhabited earth of the future that we are speaking." (See also Isa. 65:17ff., 66:22, new world-order. Restored Israel, with the church by then immortalized will enjoy the new system, cp. Isa. 65:9, Ps. 69:35, 36: "For God will save Zion and build the cities of Judah, that they may dwell there and possess it. The descendants of His servants will inherit it [cp. Matt. 5:5], and those who love His name will dwell in it"(so also Ps. 37:9, 11, 18, 22, 29, 34).
The important points are these:
1) Psalm 102 is about the new creation and the "generation to come." It is a Kingdom psalm and points to the great Messianic future. The psalm speaks of the time coming to build up Zion, when the nations will fear God's name, and when God's glory will appear, what we know as the Parousia of Jesus, God's agent. Verse 19 of the LXX ofPs.102 speaks of a new generation, and a people who are going to be created. This is all about the new creation in Christ, of which we are now already a part. That new creation began with the ministry of the historical Jesus, who announced it and died to inaugurate the new covenant, to do with the new creation.
All this is really not so difficult when this difference in the LXX is explained. Both Psalm 102 and Hebrews 2:5 and indeed the whole of Hebrews 1 refer to the new order of things initiated by Jesus and it would not matter whether we think of the new order as initiated at the ascension ("All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me," Matt. 28:18), or at the second coming.
The best option is that new creation began when Jesus ministered the Gospel of the Kingdom. Thus the new creation was initiated by Jesus even in this present age and it will of course be brought to a new stage of perfection in the coming age of the millennium, which is the first stage of the manifested, worldwide Kingdom of God.
Psalm 102 is all about the coming age of the Kingdom and the restoration of Jerusalem in the millennium (see vv. 13-22). The writer looks forward to the restoration of the city when God appears in His glory (v. 16). The Psalm is written for the "generation to come"(v. 18) and a newly created people of the future Kingdom on earth. Hebrews 1-2 is speaking not of the Genesis creation but the "economy to come"(2:5).
Hebrews 2:5: "The Economy, World to Come about Which We Are Speaking."
The Oxford Bible Commentary (2000) is helpful when it notes that right up to Hebrews 2:5 the topic is the new creation in Christ. Hebrews 1:10 is included in that main subject: The writer should be allowed to tell us what he is talking about. It is not the Genesis creation but the new creation and covenant in Christ. Ps. 102 is also about the new creation.
"The text at the center of Heb. 2:5ff. is Ps. 8:4-6 and it exhibits thematic connections
to the scriptural catena [chain] of the first chapter [i.e. Heb. 1:10 is all
part of the same reference to the new creation] ...
Heb. 2:5 ["the inhabited earth to come of which we speak"] is an introductory comment continuing the contrast between the Son and angels.
Its reference to the "world to come"reinforces the notions of imminent judgment and cosmic transformation intimated by Ps. 102, cited at 1:10-12."
Isaiah 51:16 confirms this explanation. It speaks of an agent of God in whom God puts His words and whom He uses "to plant the heavens and earth." The Word Biblical Commentary says:
"Yahweh introduces Himself again, but this time in terms of His control of the raging sea. Headdresses the one He is using to put His words into his mouth and protecting him very carefully. The purpose of this care is to allow him to plant heavens and earth. That makes no sense if it refers to the original [Genesis] creation. It uses the word NaTaH [Jer. 10:12 + 10 times], stretch out, while the verb here is NaTA, plant [establish people]. In the other instances God acts alone, using no agent [Isa. 44:24]. Here the one he has hidden in the shadow of his hand is his agent. Heavens and land here must refer metaphorically to the totality of order in Palestine, heavens meaning the broader overarching structure of the Empire, while land is the political order in Palestine itself. The assignment is then focused more precisely: to say to Zion, you are my people."
Thus both in Psalm 102 (LXX) and in Isaiah 51 the
Messiah is the agent whom God will use to establish the new political order of
the age to come. Hebrews 1:10 is a prophecy, written in the past tense
(as customarily prophecies are), but referring to the "inhabited earth of the
future about which we are speaking"(Heb. 2:5). That is the concern in Hebrews
1:10. Jesus is the "father of the age to come" (Isa. 9.6) Finally, in Hebrews
9:11 the writer speaks of "the good things to come"as the
things "not of this creation."By this he means that the things to come
are of the new, future creation (see Heb. 2:5, the new creation). That
creation is under way since Jesus appeared as the minister of the new covenant.
Jesus as exalted (Ps 110:1 is now co-creator, under the Father, of the new
creation, and has "all authority in heaven and earth"(Matt. 28:18). Even the millennial age of
the future will be replaced by a further renewed heaven and earth (Rev. 20:11;
21:1). The present system will be
"changed"(Heb. 1:10) but the Messiah will continue forever. Revelation 21:1
speaks of the heavens and earth as undergoing a further and presumably final
It is interesting that the writer of Hebrews, when mentioning "the age to come"(2:5 and 9:11) connects it with the new creation, i.e not this present Genesis creation. Heb. 1:10 is placed within that context. 9:11 reads:
"When Christ appeared as the High Priest of the good things to come (or the good things which have come), he entered in through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is not of this creation" - but of the new creation.
The book of Hebrews is all about the exalted Christ as head of the new creation and the writers speaks constantly of the "covenant of the coming age" (aionios) ...
"...salvation of the coming age, judgment of the coming age, High Priest for the age, redemption of the coming age, spirit of the coming age, inheritance of the coming age."
The Son is heir of this new creation (Heb 1:2-3).
Once again, eschatology is the great factor in revealing the
truth. The Gospel of salvation is based on eschatology, what God has done and is
doing and is yet going to do in Christ and in the saints of all the ages, the
new community of the New
Covenant, addressed as those who go by the canon of love, "the
Israel of God" of Galatians 6:16. In this community there are no
differences in nationality but all are "one in Christ."God has a new creation in
Jesus and we are to be new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). We are to join the one "new man"of
the commonwealth of Israel (Eph. 2:12-13). The presently unconverted Israel
will itself be renewed, at least a remnant (Mic. 2:12; Rom. 11), through the great tribulation
and Jesus' deliverance at his post-tribulation Parousia (Matt. 24:29-31).
The saints of all the ages will be immortalized at the resurrection after the end of the Great Tribulation which is still ahead.
There is of course no pre-tribulation gathering. Nor has the Great Tribulation been going on continuously since AD 70. The Great Tribulation is a future short period of agony just before the return of the Messiah to the earth.
This event is not a drive-by episode. Jesus is coming back to the earth where as son of David he belongs installed on the throne of David.
The world is going to be reborn and it will come under the
supervision of Jesus and his followers (Matt. 19:28, Rev. 5:10; I Cor. 6:2, Dan. 7:14, 18, 22,
We must resist the temptation to be looking backwards to Genesis when the whole book of Hebrews bids us look forward to the "inhabited earth of the future"(Heb. 2:5).
We have noted that in several places Hebrews speaks of the eternal redemption, inheritance, covenant, judgment, salvation and spirit "of the age [to come]" (aionios). Aionios refers to the Kingdom age to come and not just to eternity. Christians receive now the "holy spirit of the promise"(Eph. 1:13, NJB). We are to experience something of the future Kingdom age even now in the midst of trials and in a hostile world. ...
The church will inherit the land (Matt. 5:5; Rom. 4:13) and those who bless "the seed of Abraham"(Gen. 12) are those who bless the believers.
"If you belong to Christ [and only then] you are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise"(Gal. 3:19).
What a heritage is in store for those who endure to the end.
Meanwhile should we not have a heart for the billions of human beings who have not been exposed to the great truths about God and the Messiah and the Kingdom in process of restoration?
Matthew 24:14 is most relevant.
The above article was taken