Hebrews 3:1-19 - Outline of Hebrews (Book Notes 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:
-- that Christ is better than the prophets and the angels. (ch.1)
-- that God, in Christ Jesus, partook of our earthly nature to die for our sin. (ch.2)
holy brethren - ie., children of God, through faith in Christ and His work of salvation (cp. 2:9-11)
partakers of the heavenly calling - ie., to be the sons of God (2:10; 1Joh 3:1-3).
The Hebrew readers were well aware of their heritage:
National Israel partakes of an earthly calling and promises. But now, those (Jews and Gentiles) who have come to faith in Christ partake of higher heavenly promises. (cp. v.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.
the 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 and Priest,
is compared to the faithfulness of Moses. Moses is rightly held in highest esteem by the Jews for his role in 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 and 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 and possessions.
     Moses 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 and position, not a common slave,
but a unique "minister" of God}. This GK word is used in Num 12:7 (LXX).
In the NT, this word occurs only here, highlighting Moses' uniqueness.
  • He was honorable, but he was 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 God'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 in the faith. Despite opposition and persecution, they will remain joyfully confident {bold, outspoken} in expectation of God's promises.
     However, some, who enjoy the company of the saints and 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 -
Near the end of Israel's journey from Egypt to the promised land, Moses sent twelve spies to search the land. (The account is in Numbers ch. 13-14.) The spies returned, reporting that the land was very good. But ten spies, fearful of giants and fortified cities, doubted that Israel could overcome them.
     God told Israel to enter and possess the land of Canaan. He would give them victory.
     But due to unbelief, the people refused to go, provoking God to anger. Therefore, He sentenced the nation to 40 years of wilderness wanderings, until that unbelieving generation would die off. Num 14:11,21-23
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 (in 70 AD). Hebrews was written during this latter interval, 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, {cp. Psa 78:40}
and said, They do alway err in [their] heart;
{cp. Psa 78:7}
and they have not known my ways.
{cp. Psa 103:7; Jer 4:22}
they have not known my ways {lit., 'Yet, they took not knowledge of my ways.'}
ie., Even after 40 years, under His chastening and His continuing gracious and miraculous provision and protection, the people, still in unbelief, did not know the Lord, or understand His purposes. cp. 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 and 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]
Here, the point 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 neglecting "so great salvation" (Heb 2:1-3).
unbelief {GK= apistia} (cp. GK=pistos, faithful, in 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 - This word reflects and emphasizes the urgency of Psa 95:7.
God offers salvation for a limited time:
     His invitation will not be extended forever (Isa 55:3,6).
     Those who hear, but fail to heed, may soon harden to His voice. Joh 10:26-28; 2Cor 6:1,2
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, some Jews, who had professed faith 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 and way)}
Due to the deceitfulness of sin - God's Word is Truth. Disobedience to God often seems right and reasonable to the natural mind. But our minds, by nature, are in a state of delusion, due to 'sin' {GK=hamartia, lit., a missing of the mark; error, cp. v.10}. Examples:
  • We can't enter Canaan. There are giants in the land. We must take responsibility to protect our women and children. We doubt God's promise of victory. [Israel, in the wilderness]
  • Why should I continue against such opposition? If Jesus really is the Messiah, would He allow our nation to be overcome with evil? We doubt God's provision of the Savior. [Israel, around 70 AD]
  • I can't overcome my lusts of the flesh, they are too much for me. Besides, they're only natural aren't they? I doubt God's power to deliver. [A struggling sinner, today]
  • See: Jer 17:9,10; 18:12; Eph 4:22-24; 5:6-10; Heb 10:19-25
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} - This verb is in the perfect tense,
indicating a state which began in the past and is continuing in the present.
partakers {GK=metochos, participants, partners} - cp. Heb 2:14-18; 3:1
Believers partake of Christ and, therefore, of the blessings which He has purchased for His own.
if we hold... unto the end -
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 (cp. v.6). Their standing is secured by the One who is the beginning... the Author and Finisher of our faith. Heb 12:2
3:15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice,
harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
Again Psa 95:7,8 is quoted.
A series of questions draw out and emphasize certain points.
3:16 For some {Who}, when they had heard, did provoke:{?}
howbeit {Did} not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.{?}
The words and punctuation, in braces {} above, indicate an alternate translation.
Read each line, as a question, beginning with the word in {braces}.
Answer: The entire nation provoked God's anger.
The two exceptions (Joshua and Caleb) did not lessen the national sin.
The offensiveness of their sin was heightened by their recent supernatural deliverance 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, agreed not, were unpersuaded}
Outward disregard of 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 (v.12).
It robs non-christians of salvation. Joh 3:16-20,36; 1Joh 5:10
It robs Christians of the blessing God desires for His people. 1Cor 10:10-11; Jude 1:5
Moses could not have been a faithful servant (v.5)...
-- if he had not trusted 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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