Hebrews 3:1-19 - Outline of Hebrews (MENU page)
3:1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling,
consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;
wherefore- ie., considering all that has been said thus far (ie.,
-that Christ is better than the prophets & angels, and
-that God, in Christ Jesus, partook of our earthly nature to die for our sin... )
holy brethren- ie., believers in Jesus, made holy by His death (cp. 2:9,11)
partakers of the heavenly calling- ie., to be the sons of God (2:10).
The Hebrew readers were well aware of their heritage:
National Israel partakes first of an earthly calling and promises. But now, those (Jews & Gentiles) who have come to faith in Christ partake of higher heavenly promises. (cp. 3:14; 2Pet 1:3,4)
consider- give careful, serious, prolonged thought to this One (Christ).
the Apostle- 'the one sent' with authority, with a message from God (as was Moses).
Joh 3:17; 5:36; 17:18; 20:21.
High Priest- one who represents men before God (as did Aaron).
of our profession- lit., confession (cp. this word as used in Rom 10:9-11).
3:2 Who was faithful to him that appointed him,
as also Moses [was faithful] in all his house.
Jesus' faithfulness, to God who appointed Him as His Messenger & Priest,
is compared to the faithfulness of Moses. Moses is rightly held in highest esteem by the Jews for his roles of delivering Israel from Egypt, giving the Law, building the Tabernacle, etc.
his house- ie., God's house or household (cp. quoted passage Num 12:7, "my house").
Some see this house as referring primarily to the Tabernacle. But the word is used most frequently in Numbers in reference to a household, eg. "the house of their fathers" (Num 1:2,18,etc.), meaning the people & possessions pertaining to their predecessors.
The point is: while others naturally gave attention to the interests of their own families, Moses furthered the interests of God's people & possessions.
He ministered faithfully to the household of God. God honored Him above other prophets. Num 12:6-8
3:3 For this [man] was counted worthy of more glory than Moses,
inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.
Jesus is better than (superior to) Moses.
3:4 For every house is builded by some [man];
but he that built all things [is] God.
Since God the Son is Creator, He is superior to His creatures, including Moses and the people of God. (Heb 1:2)
3:5 And Moses verily [was] faithful in all his house, as a servant,
for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;
Moses is worthy of honor: He was found faithful-
-- in all God's household
-- as a servant- GK= therapon, one who serves with dignity & position,
not a common slave, but a unique "minister" of God. This GK word is used in Num 12:7 (LXX) and it occurs only here in the NT, highlighting Moses' uniqueness.
  • He was honorable, but just a servant.
  • He was faithful, but that is the basic requirement of servants. Mat 25:21; 1Cor 4:2
for a testimony- Moses' ministry bore witness to a greater prophet who would come after him.
3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we,
if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.
God the Son, ruling over His own house, is superior to Moses, a servant in another's house.
whose house (household) we are- Eph 2:19-22
if we hold fast...unto the end- A characteristic of those who belong to His household is continuance.
Many, who enjoy the company of the saints & the joy of their worship, have never trusted in the Lord for themselves. Such will fall away in difficult times. The Lord is able to keep His own. Joh 8:30-32; 6:60-71; 1Pet 1:3-6; 1Joh 2:19.
3:7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith,
To day if ye will hear his voice,
wherefore- ie., since the word spoken by prophets, by angels and by Moses was important,
how much more should we give ear to God the Son?
Psa 95:7-11 is quoted several times in ch. 3 & 4.
Each time, the writer of Hebrews highlights a different aspect of the passage.
In Heb 3:7-11 the emphasis is on the Person who is speaking. Note that-
  • Heb 3:7 attributes the Psalm, not to David, but to the Holy Spirit.
  • The Psalm instructs us to "hear His voice."
  • the Lord identifies Himself as the speaker, with first person pronouns (8x in the final 3 verses of the Psalm).
3:8 Harden not your hearts,
as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
the provocation in the wilderness-
The account is given (in Numbers ch. 13 - 14) of the spies who went into the promised land and brought back a discouraging report.
God told Israel to go into the land of Canaan and possess it.
Due to unbelief, the people refused to go, provoking God to anger with them. Num 14:11,22,23
3:9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.
tempted- GK=peirazo, to test to see whether a thing can be done.
proved- GK=dokimazo, to test to see whether a thing is genuine.
ie., They put Me to the test, doubting that I was able or willing to help them.
saw my works- They had ample proof of my abilities,
during their wilderness experience, which lasted...
forty years- In scripture, the number forty often refers to a period of judgment.
As there were forty years in the wilderness from Kadesh-Barnea to Canaan (Num 14:33,34), so there were forty years between Calvary and the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans. Hebrews was written during this latter time, partly to warn the Jews, who believed in Jesus, not to turn back from following Him, lest they too come under God's judgment for unbelief.
3:10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said,
They do alway err in [their] heart; and they have not known my ways.
they have not known my ways- lit., Yet, they took not knowledge of my ways.
ie., At the end of 40 years chastening, the people still had not matured in their knowledge of the Lord. Mat 15:8,9
3:11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)
my wrath- Num 14:21-23
my rest-
In regards to ancient Israel in the wilderness, the place of rest which God provided was the Land of Promise, Canaan (eg., Deu 12:8-10).
The meaning of rest (present & future) for God's people will be developed later (in ch. 3 & 4).
But it is evident that:
''Today, many Christians are in a wilderness experience due to unbelief.
The wilderness is a place of death, unrest, aimlessness, and dissatisfaction.'' [McGee]
The point made here is that when God's people do not believe God's Word, they will not experience the blessings which He desires to give them. Rather, they will experience the effects of His wrath.
3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief,
in departing from the living God.
take heed- cp. the warning against neglect of "so great salvation" (2:1-3).
unbelief- GK= apistia (cf. pistos, faithful, v.2)
Unbelief and unfaithfulness are closely related.
departing- GK= apostenai, falling away, apostatizing.
The warning is against an unbelieving heart which draws back from God. cp. Joh 6:66-69
3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day;
lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Today- The urgency of Psa 95:7 is emphasized.
God offers salvation for a limited time:
- only while His Word calls to you, only while your heart is receptive to Him. 2Cor 6:2
To the original readers of Hebrews, the day of opportunity for national Israel was about to close with the fall of Jerusalem. Under pressure from their countrymen, the Jewish believers, who had trusted in Jesus as their Messiah, were in danger of turning back from Him.
exhort one another- GK=parakaleo, encourage, comfort, come alongside to strengthen.
The Holy Spirit is the Comforter (GK=parakletos, Joh 14:16).
Believers are to join with Him in strengthening their brothers in the Lord, lest they become...
hardened- GK=sklerruno, obstinate, unreceptive (to God's will & way).
Due to the deceitfulness of sin- Disobedience to God often seems right & reasonable to the natural mind. Examples:
  • We can't enter Canaan. There are giants in the land. We must take responsibility to protect our women & children. [Israel in the wilderness]
  • Why should I continue against such opposition? If Jesus really was the Messiah, would He allow our nation to be overcome with evil? [Israel in the 1st century A.D.]
  • I can't overcome my lusts of the flesh, they are too much for me. Besides, they're only natural aren't they? [You and me today]
  • See: Jer 17:9; 18:12; Eph 4:22; 5:6; Rom 7:11
3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ,
if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
are made- GK=ginomai, are become (The perfect tense indicates
a state which began in the past and is continuing in the present.)
partakers- GK=metochos, holders with, companions (cp. 2:14-18; 3:1)
if we hold...unto the end- (cp. v.6)
the beginning- GK=arche, the source, the origin (ie., Christ, who is the source-
-of creation [cp. 1:10];
-of salvation [cp. 2:3, as spoken by Christ "at the first"] )
of our confidence- GK=hupostasis, a standing under (pressure), endurance, substance.
True members of Christ's household will continue in the faith. Their standing is secured by the One who is the beginning... the Author & Finisher of our faith. Heb 12:2
3:15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice,
Again Psa 95:7,8 is quoted. This time the line emphasized is:
harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
3:16 For some {Who}, when they had heard, did provoke:{?}
howbeit {Did} not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.{?}
The changes in braces {} above indicate an alternate translation.
Read each line, as a question, beginning with the {bracketed} word.
Answer: The entire nation provoked God's anger.
The two exceptions (Joshua and Caleb) did not lessen the national sin.
Their sin, which provoked God, was highlighted by their recent supernatural deliverence from Egypt.
3:17 But {and} with whom was he grieved forty years?
[was it] not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?
Answer: Yes, all who sinned perished.
3:18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest,
but to them that believed not?
believed not- GK= apeitho, obeyed not.
Outward disobedience to God's Word gives evidence of inward unbelief.
Answer: All, who refused to obey (God's command to enter Canaan), were refused entrance.
3:19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
They were not kept out of Canaan by their sins of idolatry or of fornication
(eg., when they made the golden calf), but by unbelief.
Unbelief is at the root of other sins.
It robs non-christians of salvation. Joh 3:18-20,36
It robs Christians of the blessing God desires for His people. 1Cor 10:10-11; Jude 1:5
Moses could not have been faithful...
-- if he had not trusted in the Lord,
-- if he had not believed His Word.
Do we believe God? Do we test our heart motives against His Word?
Or do we reverse the equation: testing the reliability of His Word by our natural instincts and wisdom? cp. Josh 1:8,9; Joh 15:1-10

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