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Bible Commentaries

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

Hebrews 3

Verses 1-19

Section C. Hebrews 3:1-6.

The Glory of the Son over the House of God

Having thus introduced Christ Jesus as High Priest of our confession, we are now bidden to consider Him in that character as the Apostle of the new dispensation. It is Christ who has superseded both Moses and Aaron. Moses was the apostle of the separated people who were partakers of an earthly calling, and Aaron was their high priest. But Jesus is both the Apostle and High Priest of the holy brethren, holy as we have already seen, because set apart to God in Him, and thus partakers of the heavenly calling.

He is infinitely superior to Moses because Moses, though faithful in his day, was simply a servant in the house of God, but Christ Jesus is the Builder of the house and is 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. Observe that the term “house” is used here in three senses. The house in which Moses was faithful was the tabernacle. But the tabernacle was the pattern of things in the heavens, so the house that God built is the universe. But the house over which Christ is set and to which we belong is that building composed of living stones in which every believer has a place.

And now we have the first word of warning, lest in cherishing a temporary confidence we seem to be animated by the joy that hope in Christ gives, and yet, after all, are lacking in a faith that is genuine. The “if” in Hebrews 3:6 is a test of profession. It was very possible then, and it is still, that men might mingle with a Christian company and find a certain amount of gladness and joy springing from an intellectual acquaintance with Christianity, who after all were not truly born of God. Continuance proves the reality of our confession. This is further stressed in the portion that follows.

Section D. Hebrews 3:7-19; Hebrews 4:1-13

The Perfected Saviour Leading His People through the Wilderness to the Eternal Sabbath of God: Warning as to Coming Short

In this lengthy section the warning is continued and is based upon Israel’s experiences of old. Just as their fathers had left Egypt a great multitude, yet many (in fact, the majority) failed to enter the land of Canaan because of unbelief; so a vast throng of Jews had become outwardly obedient to the faith, but there was ever the danger that their conversion to Christianity might be merely intellectual and their forsaking of Judaism simply what people sometimes call today “a change of religion.” Therefore the importance of examining themselves in the light of the Word of God and pressing on to “make their calling and election sure,” as the apostle Peter elsewhere puts it. We are saved entirely by grace, but we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works, as we read in Ephesians, and no one has a right to confess himself a Christian who is not seeking to live for the glory of God. If there be not a nature that delights in the will of God, there is every reason to doubt whether one has ever been truly saved.

And so we have here a warning word taken from Psalms 95:7-11: “For He is our God; and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known My ways: unto whom I sware in My wrath that they should not enter into My rest.” Notice how this quotation from the psalm is introduced, “As the Holy Ghost saith.” It is not merely the word of David or some other unknown author, but it is the word of the Holy Spirit Himself warning those who profess the name of the Lord against hardening their hearts and walking in disobedience.

To these Hebrews the exhortation is given: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers (companions) of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end” (Hebrews 3:12-14). Faith is manifested by a godly walk. Where there is lack of faith, the outward life may for a time seem to be consistent with the Christian profession, but eventually the old carnal nature will assert itself and there will be a turning back to the world; or, as in this case, to that mere carnal religion from which Christ would deliver. This second “if” is linked with Hebrews 3:6, and again we are reminded that continuance in the walk of faith is the proof of a genuine Christian confession. In the last five verses of this third chapter, the Spirit of God uses the case of Israel in the wilderness as a solemn warning to all who now have professedly gone on a pilgrimage. The people who fell in the desert of old were those who believed not. They never entered into God’s rest. Indeed, they could not do so because of their unbelief. That rest of course was Canaan, a type of the rest that remains for the people of God now.

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Bibliographical Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Hebrews 3". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. 1914.