Hebrews 3 Bible study

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Chapter 3

 

Consider Jesus.

 

1. Therefore, brothers and sisters, holy partners in a heavenly calling, consider that Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession.

 

The beginning of this verse sums up the message of Hebrews, "consider Jesus".  The word "consider" means to observe fully, to discover and understand that which is observed - in this case Jesus Christ. In this chapter Paul expands certain themes about Jesus which he has already introduced in this epistle and which he deals with in even greater depth later on.

 

Christ is the apostle of our profession, the messenger of the New Covenant, announcing the way that we may become "partakers of the heavenly calling". This message was of such great importance that God did not entrust it to angels, but delivered it Himself in the person of His Son. As such an apostle, in this sense, Jesus is the foundation for our faith.

 

Christ is also our High priest, the mediator of the New Covenant. He took our place and died for our sins on the cross once and for all, that we might be reconciled to God by his blood. He continues to represent us now in heaven, not suffering for us again, but constantly presenting on our behalf the merits of his suffering. As mentioned in chapter two, He is the one who made us holy, and part of his family, sharing the divine nature and destined to share the glory of God, which is why we read "holy brothers, sharers in the heavenly calling. This words do not refer to the invitation given for all men to become partakers, but rather to those who have already become partakers because they have accepted the invitation.

 

2. Who was faithful to the one who appointed Him, just as Moses also "was faithful in all God's house.

 

Our confidence is made even more sure by the fact that Christ did not appoint himself to be messenger and mediator of the New Covenant, for he was appointed by God and faithfully carried out God's will for his people, just as Moses had done (Deut. 18:15).

 

3,4. Yet Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.)

 

Yet (better than "for") Paul does not wish to allude that Christ is on a level with Moses. Far from it. The one who builds the house rightly enjoys more honour than the house. Christ's relationship to Moses is that of a creator God with his creation, and so to that extent and no less he exceeds him in honour.

 

5,6. Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that would be spoken later. Christ, however, was faithful over God's house as a son, and we are His house if we hold firm the confidence and the pride that belong to hope.

 

Moses was a trustworthy servant of God, ministering to God's people and giving them in the law as a faithful witness of the word of God, which has been fulfilled in Christ. But a servant is neither the owner nor heir of the house. God entrusted his people to the care of Moses, but he never gave his people as a possession to Moses, for he has given them to Christ (John 10:29 ; 17:11). The Lord's portion is His people (Deut 32.9). Israel never belonged to Moses, but the Church belongs to Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:22-23 ; 5:25-27).

 

 

Beware of Unbelief.

 

Once again Paul introduces an "if" to his epistle, and on this "if" the rest of the chapter hinges. For by continuing to compare Moses and Israel in the wilderness to Christ and his church today, Paul shows that what we have received from Christ must be retained by faith. We are his people, if we keep our faith in Christ to the end (until the goal is reached). Paul describes this faith as the confidence we have in Him and our boast of what we expect from him.

 

7 - 11. Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, as on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors put me to the test, though they had seen my works for forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and I said, 'They always go astray in their hearts, and they have not known my ways.' As in my anger I swore, 'They will not enter my rest.'"

 

It is because the Hebrew Christians were in danger of forsaking their faith in Christ and going back to the old ways handed down from Moses that Paul wrote this letter. And it was for the same reason that the Holy Spirit spoke the lesson about the wilderness in Psalm 95, quoted here. Paul elaborates in chapter 4 how the word "today" uttered by the Holy Spirit is significant, being uttered many years after the incident took place. We are being exhorted, today, not to follow the example of the disobedience of the people of that time.

 

12. Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.

 

Unbelief prevented Israel from entering Canaan and brought punishment on them in the wilderness, and in the same way we must beware lest our unbelief leads us away from the living God, for an unbelieving heart is hardened, morally overthrown and will not heed the voice of God. Recall that these words are addressed to the "brothers who are partakers of the heavenly calling".

 

13. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

 

It is possible for our hearts to become hardened by the lying allurements of sin. We may tell ourselves many lies as we choose to follow our lusts, but Prov. 14:12 reminds us that:

 

There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. (NKJVTM)

 

Jesus warned "be careful, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly" (Luke 21:34). We must take heed to the exhortation and warning of God's word every single day. That is why it is important to have a daily Bible reading (with notes if possible, such as RBC Daily Bread). It is vital to listen to the ministry of God's word as we meet together for bible study and prayer (Acts 2:42 ; Heb. 10:25).

 

14. For we have become partners of Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end.

 

The warning is reiterated, and Paul again insists that it is a warning for believers not unbelievers. We remain sharers in Christ provided we retain the confidence we initially had in our Saviour with a stable and fixed assurance until we finally reach our goal.

 

15 - 19. As it is said, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion." Now who were they who heard and yet were rebellious? Was it not all those who left Egypt under the leadership of Moses? But with whom was he angry forty years? Was it not those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, if not to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

 

These verses refer again to the incident mentioned in Psalm 95, where almost the entire congregation whom Moses led out of Egypt became unbelieving and refused to hear and obey God's voice, provoking him to anger. They refused to enter the promised land after hearing the bad report of ten spies and refusing to hear Caleb and Joshua's report. Instead in their hearts they wanted to return to Egypt (the house of bondage). As a result God swore to them that none of them (except Caleb and Joshua) would enter Canaan - instead their children would grow up to enter it.

 

So for forty years the people wandered in the desert as this sentence was carried out against them. Only when the last of the unbelieving rebels had died was Joshua permitted to take their surviving children into the promised land. The whole episode was written for our admonition, that we might not fail by the same example of unbelief.

 

This matter of continuing in the faith is emphasized for those Hebrews who were being pulled back to their old ways (typified by Egypt) after being set free in Christ. It applies equally to any Christian who is tempted to return to the old way of life. If you are saved, God's word in this chapter tells you not to go back to your old religion, or to your old sinful ways in the pub or the club, or to your old companions from whom the lord has recently separated you. Instead "consider Jesus", fix your eyes on Him and you will "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3.18).

Hebrews 1  2  3 4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13 

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