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,
Who being the brightness . . .–Who being the effulgence of His glory and the exact image of His substance. The first figure is familiar to us in the words of the Nicene Creed (themselves derived from this verse and a commentary upon it), “God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God.” Again striking parallels to the language present themselves in Philo, who speaks of the spirit breathed into man at his creation as an “effulgence of the Blessed and Thrice-blessed Nature”; and in the well-known passage of the Book of Wisdom, “She (Wisdom) is the effulgence of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of His goodness” (Wisdom Of Solomon 7:26). In the Old Testament the token of the divine presence is the Shechinah, the “cloud of glory” (called “the glory” in Romans 9:4; comp. Hebrews 9:5 in this Epistle); here it is the divine nature itself that is denoted by the “glory.” Of the relation between this word and that which follows (“substance”) it is difficult to speak, as the conceptions necessarily transcend human language; but we may perhaps say (remembering that all such terms are but figurative) that the latter word is internal and the former external,–the latter the essence in itself, the former its manifestation. Thus the “Son” in His relation to “God” is represented here by light beaming forth from light, and by exact impress–the perfect image produced by stamp or seal. These designations, relating to the essential nature of the Son, have no limitation to time; the participle “being” must be understood (comp. Philippians 2:6; John 1:1) of eternal, continuous existence. The word “person” is an unfortunate mistranslation in this place. Most of the earlier English versions have “substance,” person being first introduced in the Genevan Testament in deference to Beza.
By the word.–The thought seems suggested by Genesis 1. (Psalm 33:9); the spoken word was the expression of His power. What is said above of “being” applies to “upholding,” except that the latter implies a previous creative act. . . .