3:1-11

Hebrews 3:1-11

 

In Hebrews 3:1 is a command which ties together first six verses of chapter 3.  The command is "consider Jesus."  That is very strong command.  The word translated "consider" carries ideas of strong attention, continuous observation, and intense focus.  The word doesn't merely mean to look.  It means to look and understand, to look and learn, to look and see the real implications of that on which you are focusing.  One writer says the command "consider Jesus" means, "Put your mind on Jesus and let it remain there, that you may understand..."...

 

With that in mind, look at Hebrews 3:1-6.

 

At the very outset of our study of Hebrews I told you the primary theme of this book is the superiority of Jesus Christ.  In the first two chapters the writer pointed out that Jesus is superior to --

--the prophets of the Old Testament which the Jewish recipients of Hebrews revered...

--the angels which many of the Jewish recipients of this book worshipped...

 

Now, in chapter 3 argues that Jesus is superior to Moses.  This is an important argument because the Jews esteemed Moses far above any other person.  He was the one to whom God had spoken face to face.  He was the one through whom the law came to Israel.  He was the one who lead the nation to freedom.  He was the one who gave the plans for the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant.  If Jesus were really the Messiah sent by God, it would have to be conclusively demonstrated that Jesus was superior to Moses.  And that's what the writer of Hebrews does in these six verses. 

 

This passage begins with a significant statement about us.  We are--

 

"holy brethren"  - This phrase blends two thoughts we explored from the last part of chapter 2...

--We saw that Jesus has made us holy in the eyes of God...when God looks at us does not see our frailty, our mistakes, our shortcomings, our sins...sees the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf...and even though may not feel holy or even at times act holy, in God's eyes we are holy because of Jesus...

--We also saw that Jesus has made us part of a great spiritual family...we are brothers and sisters in Christ under the Fatherhood of God...

Now, the writer begins ch.3 by saying, "Now remember who you are!  As you consider Jesus, don't forget what He has made you.  You are holy brethren!"

 

1    The implications of that are many and certainly one of the implications has to do with how we treat each other in the fellowship of faith...when you look at your fellow believers, you should see them as God sees them... people who are made holy through Jesus...and people who are you brothers and sisters because of our common spiritual heritage...

2.   And because of that, of all the places in the world the fellowship of the church should be permeated with an atmosphere of love, acceptance, understanding, tenderness, and compassion...we ought to treat each other/every member of the fellowship as "holy brethren" because that is what we are in Christ...

3.   No doubt you've heard or read the phrase "partisan bickering" many times in the media during recent works...used to describe what has been going on for some time in the current political environment in our nation...a bitter, divisive spirit seems to have infected our national leadership in both major political parties...surveys indicate that vast majority of Americans are tired of the "partisan bickering" and desire a return of civility in our national debates...

4.   And certainly, as the church of the living God, we should have no partisan bickering among ourselves because we are have been made "holy brethren" by Jesus...

 

“partakers of a heavenly calling” - This concept is used in several ways: (1) Israel was called by God to be a kingdom of priests to bring the world back to God (cf. Gen. 12:3; Exod. 19:5). In the OT this was a call to service, not individual salvation, and a corporate call (national Israel) to an assigned task (worldwide evangelization); (2) individual believers are called (cf. John 6:44, 65) to an eternal salvation; and then (3) every individual Christian is called to serve the body of Christ through spiritual giftedness (cf. 1 Cor. 12:7, 11).[1]

 

The word translated "partakers" can also be translated "partners"...the exact same word is used in Luke 5 to describe the relationship between Peter, Andrew, James, and John in the fishing business...they functioned as partners in the business...

 

It is our “heavenly calling” that keeps the church from disintegrating into self-serving special interest groups...

 

In June of 1941 Winston Churchill stood before the House of Commons in England and said, "I have only one purpose, the destruction of Hitler..."...and the people of England were bound together by that purpose...focusing on our “heavenly calling” and remembering that we are partners in that is what keeps the church together…

 

 

After identifying his readers (this is usually done in the first verse of a letter, but his is more a sermons than a letter), the writer makes the case for Jesus being superior to Moses.  Essentially, he says three things.  Jesus is superior--

 

In His office...He is Apostle and High Priest (v.1)

“the Apostle and High Priest” These two titles deal with Jesus’ superiority over Moses as official messenger and Aaron as the Levitical high priest. Chapters 3 and 4 deal with Jesus’ superiority over Aaron. Since the Greek terms for “messenger” and “angel” are the same, “apostle,” which was a Greek term “to send,” may relate to both angels sent by God to serve those being saved (cf. 1:14) and to Jesus sent by God to redeem those who are being saved (cf. John 3:17). This is the only place in the NT that Jesus is called “the Apostle,” although John uses the verb over and over to refer to Him being “sent” from the Father (cf. John 3:17, 34; 5:36, 38; 6:29, 57; 7:29; 8:42; 10:36; 11:42; 17:3, 18, 21, 23, 25; 20:21).

© “Apostle” This comes from the verb “to send” and was used by the rabbis in the sense of one sent as an official representative of another. Moses served in the house of God as a servant while Jesus was “a son,” a family member. God called Moses to serve, but sent Jesus from heaven.

© “High Priest” Hebrews is the only book of the Bible to call Jesus high priest. It takes an extensive rabbinical argumentation to convince first century Jews that Jesus, from the tribe of Judah, really was a priest. The Dead Sea Scrolls community expected two Messiahs, one royal (tribe of Judah) and one priestly (tribe of Levi, cf. Deut. 18:18; Ps. 110:4; Zech. 3).

© “our confession” This is the Greek term homologia, which is a compound of “to say” and “the same.” The readers had made a confession of their faith in Jesus Christ. Now they must hold fast this confession/profession (cf. 4:14; 10:23). This is one of the main issues of the book.[2]

 

In His work...while Moses served in God's house, Jesus is the builder of God's house (vv.2-4)

“House” is used six times in this paragraph, sometimes with the connotation of a building and sometimes of a family. The argument seems to run as follows: (1) Moses was part of God’s house/household, but Jesus was the builder of that house, (2) Moses is a servant, while Jesus is a family member, (3) Moses failed to bring in God’s rest, while Jesus will not fail.[3]

 

In His person...Moses was a servant of God but Jesus is the Son of God (vv.5-6)

Jesus the Son (cf. 1:2; 5:8; 7:28) is contrasted with Moses, the servant (cf. 1:2; 5:8; 7:28). Moses was faithful (cf. Num. 12:7), but Jesus was a family member![4]

 

“…if we hold fast our confidence and our hope until the end…” – Third class conditional clause assuming the condition will be met…i.e., “….since we will hold fast…”

·         “hold fast” – Carries the idea of staying on course…continuing in the right directionIt is used in nautical circles in the meaning of “holding one’s course toward.” Luke uses it in Acts 27:40 where the storm-tossed ship held its course toward shore…If these Hebrews would hold their course in life steadfastly along the lines of their present profession, that would show that they were saved. If they veered away from that course, that would show that they never had been saved, but that their profession of Messiah had been, not one of the heart but of the head.[5]

 

they shall not enter my rest This is a partial FIRST CLASS CONDITIONAL with no conclusion but with an implied NEGATIVE. This term “rest” is used in chapters 3 and 4 in four different ways: (1) in Gen. 2:2 it is used for God’s rest on the seventh day of creation (cf. 4:3, 4, 10); (2) in Num. 13 and 14 it is used of Joshua bringing the people into the Promised Land (cf. 3:11, 18; 4:8); (3) in Ps. 95:7–11 it is used of David’s day in which God’s rest had not yet fully come (cf. 4:1, 9–10; and (4) it is used metaphoricall


[1] Utley, R. J. (1999). Vol. Volume 10: The Superiority of the New Covenant: Hebrews. Study Guide Commentary Series (34). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[2] Utley, R. J. (1999). Vol. Volume 10: The Superiority of the New Covenant: Hebrews. Study Guide Commentary Series (34). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[3] Utley, R. J. (1999). Vol. Volume 10: The Superiority of the New Covenant: Hebrews. Study Guide Commentary Series (35). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[4] Utley, R. J. (1999). Vol. Volume 10: The Superiority of the New Covenant: Hebrews. Study Guide Commentary Series (36). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[5] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English reader (Heb 3:6). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

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