The brightness of his glory - Απαυγασμα της δοξης The resplendent outbeaming of the essential glory of God. Hesychius interprets απαυγασμα by ᾑλιου φεγγος , the splendor of the sun. The same form of expression is used by an apocryphal writer, Wis. 7:26, where, speaking of the uncreated wisdom of God, he says: "For she is the splendor of eternal light, απαυγασμα γαρ εστι φωτος αΐδιου , and the unsullied mirror of the energy of God, and the image of his goodness." The word αυγασμα is that which has splendor in itself απαυγασμα is the splendor emitted from it; but the inherent splendor and the exhibited splendor are radically and essentially the same.
The express image of his person - Χαρακτηρ της ὑποστασεως αυτου· The character or impression of his hypostasis or substance. It is supposed that these words expound the former; image expounding brightness, and person or substance, glory. The hypostasis of God is that which is essential to him as God; and the character or image is that by which all the likeness of the original becomes manifest, and is a perfect fac-simile of the whole. It is a metaphor taken from sealing; the die or seal leaving the full impression of its every part on the wax to which it is applied.
From these words it is evident,
That Christ, though proceeding from the Father, is of the same essence; for if one αυγη , or splendor, produce another αυγη, or splendor, the produced splendor must be of the same essence with that which produces it. That although Christ is thus of the same essence with the Father, yet he is a distinct person from the Father; as the splendor of the sun, though of the same essence, is distinct from the sun itself, though each is essential to the other; as the αυγασμα , or inherent splendor, cannot subsist without its απαυγασμα , or proceeding splendor, nor the proceeding splendor subsist without the inherent splendor from which it proceeds. That Christ is eternal with the Father, as the proceeding splendor must necessarily be coexistent with the inherent splendor. If the one, therefore, be uncreated, the other is uncreated; if the one be eternal, the other is eternal. Upholding all things by the word of his power -
- That the apostle states Jesus Christ to be of the same essence with the Father, as the απαυγασμα , or proceeding splendor, must be the same with the αυγασμα , or inherent splendor.
This is an astonishing description of the infinitely energetic and all pervading power of God. He spake, and all things were created; he speaks, and all things are sustained. The Jewish writers frequently express the perfection of the Divine nature by the phrases, He bears all things, both above and below; He carries all his creatures; He bears his world; He bears all worlds by his power. The Hebrews, to whom this epistle was written, would, from this and other circumstances, fully understand that the apostle believed Jesus Christ to be truly and properly God.
Purged our sins - There may be here some reference to the great transactions in the wilderness.
Moses found the government of the Israelites such a burden that he altogether sank under it. His words, Numbers 11:12 , are very remarkable: Have I conceived all this people? Have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy Bosom - unto the land which thou swearest unto their fathers? But Christ not only carried all the Israelites, and all mankind; but he upholds All Things by the word of his power. The Israelites murmured against Moses and against God, and provoked the heavy displeasure of the Most High; and would have been consumed had not Aaron made an atonement for them, by offering victims and incense. But Jesus not only makes an atonement for Israel, but for the whole world; not with the blood of bulls and goats, but with his own blood: hence it is said that he purged our sins δι ' αὑτου , by himself his own body and life being the victim. It is very likely that the apostle had all these things in his eye when he wrote this verse; and takes occasion from them to show the infinite excellence of Jesus Christ when compared with Moses; and of his Gospel when compared with the law. And it is very likely that the Spirit of God, by whom he spoke, kept in view those maxims of the ancient Jews, concerning the Messiah, whom they represent as being infinitely greater than Abraham, the patriarchs, Moses, and the ministering angels. So Rabbi Tanchum, on Isaiah 52:13 , Behold my servant shall deal prudently, says, המשיח מלך זה Zeh melek hammashiach , this is the King Messiah; and shall be exalted, and be extolled, and be very high. "He shall be exalted above Abraham, and shall be extolled beyond Moses, and shall be more sublime than the ministering angels." See the preface. The right hand of the Majesty on high -
- Moses, while in communion with God on the mount, was so impressed with the Divine glories that his face shone, so that the Israelites could not behold it. But Jesus is infinitely greater than Moses, for he is the splendor of God's glory; and,
As it were associated with the supreme Majesty, in glory everlasting, and in the government of all things in time and in eternity; for the right hand is the place of the greatest eminence, 1 Kings 2:19
. The king himself, in eastern countries, sits on the throne; the next to him in the kingdom, and the highest favourite, sits on his right hand; and the third greatest personage, on his left.