The Person of Christ - 09 - Eternal Sonship in Hebrews


Chapter 9 - The Eternal Sonship of Christ

In The Hebrew Epistle

Sydney Maxwell


The great doctrines relative to the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ must be properly understood if we are to grasp His relationship to eternity and to time. The theory that our Lord?s Sonship commenced at His birth is untenable and contrary to the large body of teaching given to us in the Word of God. It is the purpose of this article to examine this great theme in the epistle to the Hebrews. The radiant beams of His glory shine from the pages of this lofty epistle. It is the epistle of better things and this theme need not surprise us, seeing that all these ?better things? are connected with our incomparable Lord.


He is superior to prophets and angels (clis. I & 2) Adam (2:6-8) Moses (3:3) and Joshua (4:8). He is greater than Aaron (ch. 5) and all the sacrifices of the old economy, which find their fulfillment in His once for all sacrifice (9:26). The worthies of chapter eleven all pale into insignificance before the Author and Finisher of faith. We do well to heed the injunction ?Consider Him?(12:3). We will consider Christ?s Eternal Sonship in this epistle under some simple headings.




In Hebrews 1:1 the writer describes the fragmentary and incomplete (though never inaccurate methods by which God had spoken in the past. In v.2 God speaks fully and finally in (His) Son. The article before Son is omitted to show the quality of His relationship to God. The article

identifies and its absence qualifies. How true the rule is here! The Spirit is speaking of One Who has ever stood in relation to God in the quality and essence of Eternal Sonship. Note as well in this verse, that the appointment to heirship preceded His creatorial acts; because it was through Him as Son the creation came into being. Since His heirship depends on His Sonship and this was prior to creation, it is established that His Sonship could not have begun at Bethlehem. The emphasis then is not on His becoming a Son but on His being Son in a timeless relationship.




Hebrews 1:5 reminds us that He is greater than angels because of His eternal relationship to God. ?Thou art My Son? is timeless; it is before and beyond time. ?This day have I begotten Thee? does not refer to the commencement of His Sonship, but to the communication of it, by the Father, in His resurrection. It is quotation from Psalm 2:7 and II Samuel 7:14. In this wondrous statement a relationship is declared and also described. In v.6 it is the public display of His Sonship as the First Begotten. The term ?only begotten? suggests an unoriginated relationship in the Godhead. The ?first begotten? relates to time and to public manifestation.


The word anastasis is translated a number of times as resurrection. It is the word the Spirit uses in Acts 13:33-34 where Psalm 2:6-7 is quoted. No such salutation is ever used in the incarnation narratives of the Gospels. ?Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee? requires resurrection.


Another salutation is found in v.8. He is greater than angels, they are servants, He is Son. Now He is addressed by the Father as the Son in Sovereignty and Deity. The use of the article before Son in v.8 and its omission in v.2 requires us to understand that this is THE Son Who is related to eternity in v.2. The Holy Spirit is identifying for us that this is the same Person Who eternally is the outshining of the Divine Glory.




The opening verse of chapter three gives us two wonderful descriptions of our Lord Jesus Christ. The writer reminds us that He was the One sent forth from the Father. The high priestly character of our Lord suggests His going back to the Father. The former designation tells of revelation to men, while the latter tells of representation on behalf of men.


In chapter one He is the Eternal Son in relation to the Father, and is the Heir of all things, also Heir to the throne. In chapter three He is seen in relation to the House of God; in which house as a servant Moses was faithful (v.2). The superiority of the Lord Jesus over Moses is seen in the contrast between v.2 and v.6. Note that ?Moses was faithful in God?s house? but the Lord Jesus is ?Son over? the house of God. ?This Man hath been counted worthy of more glory than Moses?. (v.3). This glory is the manifestation of Deity as can clearly be seen in v.4, ?for He that built all things is God?. In v.6 the house is not Christ?s house as the A.V. indicates but it is God?s house. The authority of the Lord Jesus over the house is not because He became Son, but because He is the Son (Heb. 1:1).




At this point in our meditation we shall consider the great implications of Heb. 5:8. The Holy Spirit has already indicated to us in ch. 1:3 a movement from the Glory to the Gloom of Calvary for the great work of sin-bearing. In ch. 2:14-17 this wondrous work is enlarged upon. He, the Son, taking part of something He never had experienced before, and that permanently; it was Manhood. In this new condition He subjugates the Devil; and satisfies the throne of God in relation to sins (v.17).


We may now notice that between His downstooping to Bethlehem and His sacrifice on the cross, we have the explanation of ch. 5:8. The literal meaning of v.8 is helpful; ?Though being Son, He learned from the things that He suffered, obedience?. It will be evident to the spiritual mind that this does not refer to the fact of His Sonship, but the fulness of that sublime and eternal relationship (ch. 1:1). In consequence, the obedience described can only refer to that which was voluntarily experienced in the path of suffering associated with the doing of the Father?s will. Had He remained in the Glory, in the Essence of Deity, no such experience could have been His.




In ch. 4:14 this? glorious Person has passed through the Heavens, a great High Priest. He is ?Jesus? the name given at His birth, and ?Son of God? which is what He was from eternity. Ch. 4:15 can only be explained by ch. 5:8. He can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities because He passed through temptation and suffering.


In ch. 7 we have the summit of the writer?s theme. The man who appeared to Abraham by the name of Melchisedec was not the Son of God. The omission in the O.T. record of the birth, parentage and death of this mysterious person is deliberate, to highlight the fact that, ?he was made like unto the Son of God? (v.3). Therefore, it is as the Son of God from eternity that the Lord Jesus had no beginning of days or end of life.


There are two salutations related to His priesthood in ch. 5 which are important to us. Ch. 5:5 says ?Thou art My Son? and v.6 says ?Thou art a Priest forever?. The latter statement can be shown to be consequent on the former. Inch. 7:21 the latter salutation is repeated (a quotation from Psalm 110:4, where His Deity is emphasized).


In conclusion; the One who became Man never ceased to be what He ever was, the Son from Eternity. Well might we sing in worship:


?But the high mysteries of His Name

An angel?s grasp transcend,

The Father only (glorious claim!)

The Son can comprehend?.