3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
The word “and” connects the Son’s creation of the universe with His sustaining it. Both acts show the immensity of the Son’s divine power. We see both the person and work of Christ in this verse.
upholding [maintaining, sustaining] all things
The Son is not only the creator of the cosmos, but He sustains it as well. He maintains everything until it reaches its designated end. He can do this because He is the preexistent Son who shares the same essence and intimately relates to the Father.
The fifth affirmation about the Son is that He sustains creation by His word to a proper goal. “Upholding” means to maintain, support. The Greek present tense conveys the idea that He does this constantly. The idea is to sustain something in constant movement. He makes the universe coherent. All things consist in Him or cohere in Him (Co 1:17). He holds the universe together. He keeps everything in their proper relationship.
by the word of His [the Son’s] power,
The Son sustains all things by speech just as the Father brought all things into existence by speech (Ge 1:1-2; He 11:3). The Son’s “word” is powerful.
The Greek word for “word” in this clause refers to something said or stated with the focus on its content. The reason the author used this Greek word (rhema) was because the idea is spoken word rather than written word. The New Testament use of this word is exclusively for God speaking. The Son’s statement is an expression of his providential will. The universe obeys His will. His speaks and He sustains everything in the universe.
The Son sustains the world by personally maintaining it by His deity.
There are three important distinctions from the Son sustaining the universe:
The Son is separate from creation. He exists apart from creation itself. He does not depend on it; creation depends on Him.
The Son moves creation towards a goal.
The Son accepts secondary causes in creation by concursus. This does not preclude decisions that He might make which transcend free will. Man’s will is delimited by God’s sovereign management of creation. God is not idle in His dealings with creation. He is no deistic god.
The Son will not allow the world end in total chaos. He will sustain it through everything until it reaches God’s intended purpose. He gives stability to the universe. God’s plan will triumph in the end.
Human beings count on the dependability in the laws of science. Scientists simply discover the laws that Jesus created and by which He sustains the universe. He holds the oceans in their beds. He keeps the heavenly bodies in their orbits. He keeps the plant and animal lives in order. He does all of this with the word of His power.
The Son does not operate like the god of the deists, who creates the world and leaves it to operate on its own. The deist believes that God wound up the universe like a watch and then goes off on His own to disregard what He made. He personally sustains the universe throughout time. In addition, He keeps it on track to reach the Father’s appointed goal. He keeps its definite purpose in view.
The Son is not like the Greek god Atlas who passively carried the dead weight of the world on his shoulders. Rather, the Greek word conveys movement toward a goal. His sustaining power was not static but dynamic. He carries all things toward their appointed design.