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Hebrews 3a

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Hebrews 3:1... Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.

Commentary

Having established from the Jewish Scriptures Jesus’ superiority over the angels, the author of Hebrews draws another conclusion in 3:1-6 much like the one in 2:1-4 with the word “therefore.” The conclusion he makes draws from his previous discussion in Hebrews 1-2.

            The audience is addressed as “holy brethren.” The word holy means “to be set apart,” referring back to 2:11 where Jesus, the Sanctifier, made them holy through his death. In so doing Jesus was able to call them “brothers.” They were holy because Jesus sanctified them, and they were brothers because Jesus took on flesh, suffered, and died for them. Their holiness spoke nothing of their quality of life; rather, it speaks of their position in salvation. The author clearly knew that some who read his words were not saved, but he addressed them according to their profession of faith, not based upon his own opinion of their spiritual condition.

            The second way the author refers to his audience in 3:1 is as “partakers of a heavenly calling.” Partakers is sometimes translated “partners” and sometimes as “companions” in the NT. It speaks of one who is associated with others in a common task or circumstance. In this context it speaks of professed Christians all associated with Jesus Christ – holy brethren. And all those who truly know Jesus as Lord have received a “heavenly calling” – God’s calling. This calling is a reference to God calling people for salvation. It isn’t an invitation to receive eternal life; rather, it is a summons to eternal life in the NT. Over and over in the NT “calling” is indicative of God’s election and His predestination of a person to receive eternal life. Though this can be a difficult concept to grasp, it fits nicely with the fact that Jesus accomplished all things himself. He was born from a virgin, he lived a sinless life, he suffered as man suffered, he tasted death for mankind, and he was resurrected. He did everything – even sanctifying his holy brethren. So his calling is effectual in all of his true children, and because he did the sanctifying (2:11), he is to be given all the glory for man’s salvation as well. God calls, and His true children respond.

            In light of this deep truth it is interesting that the writer would have to encourage his audience to “consider Jesus.” Consider Jesus? After all he has done why would anyone need a reminder or a rebuke to consider him? The answer is that the audience was drifting (2:1) from their profession of faith and floundering in their commitment. The command in Greek signifies urgency. One cannot flippantly trust in Jesus and drift away without being urgently called back to living faithfully for him. It’s urgent because the penalty for failure is so dire (cf. 10:26-27).

            Of note is the fact that the writer continues to call Jesus Christ simply Jesus. One of his main themes is Christ’s humanity. He lived among us, suffered for us, died in our place, and prays for us (Rom. 8:34) as one who completely understands man’s needs. No wonder the author follows up by calling Jesus “the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.” He’s the Apostle (literally “sent one”) because he was sent to mankind for mankind. And he is High Priest because he bears all of man’s sins. So Jesus is the author and center-point for the Christian’s testimony.

Food for Thought

            Life can be lonely. Our situations sometimes beg for a good friend to be present to listen to us, but they are not always available. Consider Jesus! He alone knows exactly how you feel, and he alone understands. If you feel lonely in the midst of despair Jesus is only a prayer away. Consider him right now. Your family and friends are not apostles sent for you, and they don’t bear your weaknesses like our High Priest. Consider Jesus as an urgency in your life today.

Hebrews 3:2-4… He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. 3 For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.

Commentary

In defending the command to “consider Jesus” in 3:1 the author expounds on why one should regard him as “the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.” As the Jewish audience the author addressed grew more and more weary of the persecution they received for abandoning Judaism in favor of Christianity, the writer attempted to convince them of the futility of turning back to Judaism as a safe haven. In light of the fact that these Jewish Christians were being shunned by their families, forbidden to enter the synagogues, ridiculed for their faith, and even murdered for their faith, it makes perfect sense for the author to take time to defend Jesus over and against Moses – one of the most revered men in all of Judaism.

Jesus, like Moses, was “faithful to Him who appointed Him.” Moses was appointed by God to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage (Ex. 3). Moses was faithful to the task, and he later became one of the greatest leaders over God’s people that have ever lived. Although Moses was resistant to God early on, he did submit to God and served Him faithfully. He delivered God’s Law to Israel – a Law ordained by angels (Gal. 3:19) – and governed Israel for 40 years. All Jews knew this, but now the writer says that Jesus was just as faithful as Moses – even more so! This is pertinent because many of the Jewish Christians being addressed were considering renouncing the Prophet that Moses told them to look for (Deut. 18:15), namely Jesus Christ, and moving themselves back under the bondage to the Mosaic Law which they were unable to keep. Yes, Moses had been faithful in God’s “house” (i.e., with God’s people), but so had Jesus.

So how had Jesus surpassed the greatness of Moses? The answer is in v. 3. Jesus is superior to Moses because Moses was merely a faithful servant with God’s house – His people. Jesus, however, is the actual builder of the house! Moses served what God made, but Jesus is God, and He made the house itself. He created the people for himself by dying for them and becoming brothers with them. This is also why Jesus is greater than angels. Angels serve God’s people (Heb. 1:14), but the Son of God is the Creator of God’s people. So the Jews who had one foot in the door of Christianity and one foot out, so to speak, were in danger of choosing the inferior over the superior – the servant over the Creator. For it is obvious that the builder of a house is to receive more honor as the builder than the servant is for simply serving in the house.

Verse 4 explains in no uncertain terms that all houses (all things in general) are built by someone in particular. But the builder of all things is God. Don’t miss this! This is a clear and flagrant point that Jesus is God, making him without question far superior to Moses. Moses was a man , sent to deliver God’s people from physical bondage in Egypt, but Jesus is God, sent to deliver God’s people from bondage under the devil (2:14-15). Their ultimate destiny is “rest” (4:3, 9) – the salvation-rest of Christ’s redemption leading to eternal life in heaven.

Food for Thought

            The majority of Jews today reject Jesus as the Messiah. They choose works over grace, religions and rituals they believe please God. But this false belief system is not confined to Jews. It is also found in the church today and in cults – religions that attempt to please God with works apart from faith. But Jesus is superior to works-oriented religions. He saves by grace alone apart from works. To choose someone or something else is to choose a dollar over a million.

Hebrews 3:5-6… Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; 6 but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house – whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.

Commentary

A quick summary of Jesus’ superiority over Moses is given in vv. 5-6. Whereas Moses was faithful as a servant over God’s people, Jesus was faithful as a Son over God’s people. Of course servants are of far lower rank than sons. And as God’s Son, Jesus carried all the rights and privileges of deity, authority, and inheritance. Moses had none of that as a simple servant.

Beginning with God’s miraculous preservation of Moses as a baby, and ending with God’s mysterious provision for his burial, God worked through Moses in the interim in some astounding ways. God spoke to Moses face-to-face, and the actual face of Moses was made glorious to the point of his having to wear a veil in front of the Israelites (Ex. 34:29). Moses brought Israel out of Egypt, he gave them God’s Law, laid out the plans for the tabernacle, and he presented the blueprint for the Ark of the Covenant. He was clearly God’s faithful servant.

Now a study of Moses as God’s Lawgiver and his faithfulness to God is a far deeper study than simple leadership. He was actually a shadow of things to come – a precursor to the Messiah. To truly revere and understand Moses is to recognize Jesus Christ for who he truly is. A study of Moses without Jesus is an incomplete study, one that is akin to studying the OT without the NT – like watching three quarters of a football game and ignoring the events of the fourth quarter. The writer of Hebrews will later say as much in 10:1: “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.” The Law was the shadow; Jesus is the substance. So if one accepts the shadow (Moses and the Law) that same one must also accept the substance (Jesus). Even Jesus said as much: “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me” (John 5:46; Cf. Deut. 18:15).

While Moses was faithful as a servant over the house of Israel, Jesus has been faithful as God’s Son over His house. And v. 6 says that the house is “we” – those who call upon Jesus for salvation, for that was the audience the author spoke to – professed Christians. But this audience was in danger of drifting away from Jesus and going back to the Law of Moses as their way of salvation. So the writer sternly warned them that this was so only “if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” In other words, these people who had confessed Christ as Lord could not expect that that salvation was genuine or that God would consider them “holy brethren” (3:1) if they indeed fell back into practicing the rituals of the Mosaic system.

The test of true salvation involves “hold[ing] fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” To “hold fast” is another nautical term meaning “to hold one’s course toward” (cf. Acts 27:40). It’s another way of warning others not to “drift” (2:1). If these so-called believers would hold their course in life faithfully, their profession of faith in Christ, they would show that they were saved. But to fail to stay on course would prove them false believers.

Food for Thought

True salvation entails perseverance in faithfulness to Christ. Those who profess faith in Christ then later renounce Him show that their salvation was never genuine. True believers hold fast with confidence which carries the idea of the boldness and buoyancy, two traits that manifest themselves in our speech completely void of fear and reserve. Those who truly believe in Christ have the faith, the speech, and the life to endure any and all trials. They stand firm to the end.

Hebrews 3:7-11… Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “Today if you hear His voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 where your fathers tried Me by testing Me, and saw My works for forty years. 10 Therefore I was angry with this generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they did not know My ways;’ 11 as I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’”

Commentary

Verses 7-11 are connected with 3:1-6 because “therefore” explains what was previously said. These verses specifically explain the meaning of 3:6 which says, “…whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” This needs explanation because it appears on the surface that salvation is something to be lost and that it takes good works to maintain one’s salvation. The explanation teaches just the opposite however. Salvation isn’t something that is to be, or can be, lost. It is something, however, that can be measured, and the measurement of true salvation consists of faithfulness to Christ no matter the cost.

To prove his point, once again the writer refers to Jewish Scripture (the OT) by quoting from Psalm 95:7-11 which reflects on Numbers 13-14. Hebrews is speaking to Jews who believed in Christ and who were considering moving back into Judaism, that is the Law of Moses. In Numbers 14 Israel had been instructed, just shortly after being miraculously delivered from slavery in Egypt, to advance upon the residents of Canaan (modern Palestine) and make war with them. Israel was to move into this land, the Promised Land, and trust God to lead them in victory even though the odds were against them physically. Israel balked at God and didn’t believe Him, for they were overwhelmed with the task of defeating the overpowering Canaanites. In essence, they failed to believe God even though they had witnessed His mighty powers in Egypt through the plagues, in the wilderness by His presence both day and night going before them, and on Sinai when God gave the Law to Moses over a 40-day period. They had seen the glory of the Lord, been delivered by Him, and fed by Him, yet they didn’t believe Him.

So Israel fell away from the Lord. Like the Jewish converts the writer of Hebrews addressed who were in danger of drifting away from true salvation through unbelief, the nation of Israel, 1,500 years prior, fell away from the Lord after being delivered by the Lord. The Hebrews author quoted from Psalm 95:7-11 to warn these Jewish converts that to go astray from the Lord after claiming to believe in Him would have disastrous consequences. In other words, if God disciplined the Israelites for falling away from Him after seeing His mighty works and caused them to die in the wilderness over the course of 40 years for their unbelief, He would do no less to the so-called “Jewish converts” to Christ who chose to fall back into Judaism.

The theme in these passages is “rest.” The Israelites who failed to believe God in the wilderness in the 15th century BC all fell to their deaths without entering into the Promised Land where rest was promised to them. Equally, professed Christians who fall away from believing in Christ for salvation will forfeit their eternal rest in heaven with Jesus Christ. This is the OT illustration for Hebrews 3:6… “Christ was faithful as a Son over His house – whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.”

Food for Thought

            Isn’t it amazing how people today work hard to be able to rest and eventually relax in retirement? But true eternal rest is only for believers in Christ who are characterized by faithful profession of Christ till the end of their days. They are bold with their words, secure in their faith, and assured of their ultimate salvation. Hold fast your faith. Grow in it; persevere in it.

1 Ὅθεν, ἀδελφοὶ ἅγιοι, κλήσεως ἐπουρανίου μέτοχοι, κατανοήσατε τὸν

From where,         holy brothers,      of call                     of heaven                   sharers.              Think carefully (AAM) the

ἀπόστολον καὶ ἀρχιερέα τῆς ὁμολογίας ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦν, 2 πιστὸν ὄντα τῷ

apostle                   and         high priest      of the confession              our            Jesus,       faithful being (PAPtcp) to the

ποιήσαντι αὐτὸν ὡς καὶ Μωϋσῆς ἐν [ὅλῳ] τῷ οἴκῳ αὐτοῦ. 3 πλείονος

one having made (AAPtcp) him just as even Moses in the whole              house     of him.                   Of more

γὰρ οὗτος δόξης παρὰ Μωϋσῆν ἠξίωται, καθʼ ὅσον πλείονα τιμὴν ἔχει

for           this         glory       along      Moses       has been worthy (RPI), by as much as more              honor he has (PAI)

τοῦ οἴκου κατασκευάσας αὐτόν· 4 πᾶς γὰρ οἶκος κατασκευάζεται ὑπό

of the house    which is prepared (PPI)            him.               All        for      house     is prepared (PPI)                  by

τινος, δὲ πάντα κατασκευάσας θεός. 5 καὶ Μωϋσῆς μὲν πιστὸς ἐν ὅλῳ

some, but the one   all              having prepared (AAPtcp) is God. And Moses                indeed faithful in        whole

τῷ οἴκῳ αὐτοῦ ὡς θεράπων εἰς μαρτύριον τῶν λαληθησομένων,

the house of him        just as a servant             into testimony               which were to be spoken (FPPtcp)

6 Χριστὸς δὲ ὡς υἱὸς ἐπὶ τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ· οὗ οἶκός ἐσμεν ἡμεῖς, ἐάν[περ]

but Christ              as            a son on the house              of him;      whose house      are                  we             if indeed

τὴν παρρησίαν καὶ τὸ καύχημα τῆς ἐλπίδος κατάσχωμεν.

The         boldness                                and the   boast                     of the home          we might hold on (AAS).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

·         Introduction In marriage we typically fall for someone we are physically attracted to. Then we fall for their “dating personality” – the way people are when they date (i.e., always look their best, act their best, and laugh incessantly). Once we get married those things change. We either go deeper in our relationship with our spouse, beyond all the superficial things, or we become disillusioned and separate. With God it’s really not much different. People fall in love with a form of God that has been presented to them. But once they delve into who Jesus is and what he expects of his children they either begin to grow in their love for God, or they simply stop worshipping Him. Some folks are content to remain on a shallow level with God for fear of what they might find out about Him. Of course this is true in marriage too, for some marriages are perfectly content to never go beyond a certain point with their spouses. They actually don’t want to know more about them for fear of what they might discover. The author of Hebrews is all about revealing God in Jesus Christ. He takes the readers deeper and deeper in order for them to be ensured of their salvation.

·         What is your greatest desire? Is it to retire? To get rich? To be healthy? To be popular or famous? Paul’s greatest desire was to “know Christ and the power of his resurrection…” (Phil. 3:10, 12). If you spend your time and efforts on the aforementioned then you won’t spend your time getting to know Christ.

·         Who? Holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling. Author assumes salvation based upon confession but sees evidence of people totally uncommitted to the Lord.

·         What? (urgently!) consider Jesus.

o   Apostle and High Priest (THE sent one) who intercedes

o   Our confession – the Christian faith

o   He was as faithful as Moses – even more so!

o   Appointed like Moses but appointed as a Son not a servant

o   Appointed over the “house” – the children of God (1 Pet. 2)

o   Jesus is the builder of the house, not merely the servant

o   Moses was a servant; angels are servants

o   If Jesus is the builder, and the builder is God, then Jesus is God!

o   Moses pointed the way to Jesus as a “testimony to be spoken later”

·         Why? People were not convinced; they were looking back due to persecution and were in danger of falling away.

o   Salvation is given and kept by God. Those who are faithful until the end have it.

o   It’s not about falling away into sin, for Paul corrected the Corinthians without warning them of falling away.

o   Falling away has to do with renouncing the profession one once had in Christ.

·         The “if” in the Greek text introduces a future, unfulfilled, hypothetical condition. It is not the retention of salvation that is in question here, but the possession of salvation.

·         Any professed Jewish believer who would actually return to the rituals of the Levitical sacrifices so as to contribute to his own salvation would prove himself a traitor, an apostate (cf. 1 John 2:19). True believers give evidence of genuine membership in Christ’s house (Matt. 10:22; Luke 8:15; John 8:31; 15:4-6).

·         The word “confidence”… literally “all speech.” Its dominant idea is one of the boldness and confidence which are exhibited in freedom of speech, the unreserved, unfettered flow of language which is opposed to fear, ambiguity, and reserve. This confidence or boldness would characterize the speech and behavior of the Jew who was actually a possessor of salvation and not merely a professor of the same.

Intro: Marriage… first dating then love, then either deep love or separation.

·         Some don’t want to know their spouse (their God), so they keep it shallow. Others do!

·         What is your greatest desire? Is it to retire? To get rich? To be healthy? To be popular or famous? Paul’s greatest desire was to “know Christ and the power of his resurrection…” (Phil. 3:10, 12). If you spend your time and efforts on the aforementioned then you won’t spend your time getting to know Christ.

 

Hebrews 3:1...

·         Their holiness spoke nothing of their quality of life but of their position in salvation.

·         He addressed them according to their profession of faith, not his opinion of their status.

·         Partakers… also “partners” and “companions” – associated with others in a common task.

·         Heavenly calling…  not an invitation to receive eternal life but a summons (cf. Rom 1:6-7; Rom 8:28-30; 9:24; 1 Cor 1:2; Eph 4:1; Phil 3:14; 1 Thes 2:12; 2 Thes 1:11; 2:14; 1 Tim 6:12; 2 Tim 1:9; 1 Peter 5:10; 2 Peter 1:10; Rev 17:14).

·         Consider Jesus? The audience was drifting (2:1; cf. 10:26-27).

·         The writer continues to call Jesus Christ simply Jesus.

·         Food for Thought… the lonely life

 

Hebrews 3:2-4… 

·         The audience was tempted to fall back into the Levitical system because of persecution.

·         Moses and angels merely served; Jesus was the builder, He was God!

·         Rest… (4:3, 9) – the salvation-rest of Christ’s redemption leading to eternal life in heaven.

·         Food for Thought… Jews reject Christ but so do most religions that work for salvation.

Hebrews 3:5-6… 

·         Moses was a shadow; Jesus is the substance… like ¾ of a football game.

·         10:1: “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.”

·         Jesus: “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me” (John 5:46).

·         These people who had confessed Christ as Lord could not expect that that salvation was genuine or that God would consider them “holy brethren” (3:1) if they indeed fell back into practicing the rituals of the Mosaic system.

·         The “if” in the Greek text introduces a future, unfulfilled, hypothetical condition. It is not the retention of salvation that is in question here, but the possession of salvation.

·         Hold fast… a nautical term meaning “to hold one’s course toward” (cf. Acts 27:40).

·         Confidence…  literally “all speech.” The idea is one of the boldness in freedom of speech, the unreserved, unfettered flow of language which is opposed to fear, ambiguity, and reserve.

Hebrews 3:7-11…

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