I preached on this passage yesterday. These were my findings:
- Hebrews is a sermon, not a letter. In this passage alone, there are at least two significant clues why it is: (a) it lacks the usual details about author's name, identity of audience and salutation that are found in practically all of the other epistles in the New Testament; (b) it refers to recent divine revelation having been transmitted "en huio" ("by a son" or "by one who is Son") and then goes on to give seven credentials of such a person, as if intending that the audience necessarily should conclude that this person is the Son of God, the mark of public speaking. If the identity of this person had been specific and definite, then listing his seven credentials would have been redundant and purposeless.
- The point of this passage has less to do with Jesus being superior to angels than with our duty to pay more careful attention to what we have heard lest we drift away - the angels references are a distraction to this main message. Hence, I wish the NIV Bible's chapter heading for Hebrews 1 was different. It's not inspired writing anyway but it distracts no less.
- The audience probably comprised Jewish Christians of ancient Rome who struggled with remaining faithful to Christ in the light of the prevailing prejudice and persecution and being tempted with reverting to Judaism. The haunting question that is asked is: Is Jesus worth betting everything that we have on to follow him?
- In this day and age, we may not face death for being Christians but we face compromise, temptation and fear of being marginalised by popular opinion. What has God said to us through his Son?