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Bible Commentaries

Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Hebrews 3

Verse 1

Hebrews 3:1 . Ὅθεν , whence ) An urgent particle. From those very things which have been said in ch. 2, consideration ought to flow. ἀδελφοὶ , brethren ) He now for the first time addresses those to whom he is writing. And the title, brethren , from ch. Hebrews 2:11 , has in it the idea of sanctity . ἅγιοι , holy ) There is a Chiasmus in this verse. κλήσεως ἐπουρανίου , of the heavenly calling ) made by the Lord from heaven, and bringing them on to that place, whence it was made, ch. Hebrews 12:25 , of the calling of God from above ( τῆς ἄνω κλήσεως ), as Paul says, Philippians 3:14 . The correlative of calling is ὁμολογία , confession; concerning which the writer treats presently: so Paul in 1 Timothy 6:12 . μέτοχοι , partakers ) There is the same word, Hebrews 3:14 , ch. Hebrews 6:4 , Hebrews 1:9 , Hebrews 12:8 . τὸν ἀπόστολον , the apostle ) the Ambassador of God the Father; Him who pleads the cause of God with us. Thence we are said to be partakers of the heavenly calling . καὶ ἀρχιερέα , and High Priest ) who pleads our cause with GOD. On this account we are called holy . This Apostleship and High Priesthood are included in the one term Mediator . He compares Jesus as an apostle to Moses, and as a priest (and this appellation is taken up again, Heb 4:14 ) to Aaron, and at the same time prefers Him to both; He alone holds both dignities united, and in a more eminent degree, which those two brothers [the duumvirate of brothers] held apart. Here He is called in a relative sense πιστὸς , faithful , as ἀληθὴς , true , John 5:31 , unverwerflich , a testimony which cannot be refused. τῆς ὁμολογίας , of our confession or profession ) The confession or profession is intended, not that which is made to men, but that which is made to GOD. This word admirably expresses the nature of faith, which is borne with a ready response towards (in respect to) the promise: GOD, who sent His Son and gave Him as a priest to us, λέγει , speaks: man ὁμολογεῖ , declares his agreement , assents, subscribes. So ch. Hebrews 4:14 , Hebrews 10:23 . They did that most solemnly in baptism. The opposite is ἀντιλογία , contradiction , ch. Hebrews 12:3 .

Verse 2

Hebrews 3:2 . Πιστὸν ὄντα , who is faithful ) Numbers 12:7 , at the end, עבדי משה בכל ביתי נאמן הוא , LXX., ὁ θεράπων μου (comp. presently afterwards, Heb 3:5 ) Μωϋσῆς ἐν ὅλῳ τῷ οἴκῳ μου πιστός ἐστι . He calls him faithful, who is both himself so, and is acknowledged to be so by GOD, and is praised on that account. From this flows faithfulness in office, and the faith of the hearers without exception, for this very reason that Moses is נאכון ; comp. Num. same chap., Hebrews 3:8 , likewise at the end. τῷ ποιήσαντι αὐτὸν , to Him that appointed Him) His heavenly Father made or appointed Jesus Christ to be both His Apostle and High Priest, ch. Hebrews 5:5 ; where τὸ γενηθῆναι , to be made, viz. by the word of the Lord, corresponds to τῷ ποιήσαντι . Add Acts 2:36 . And this rouses us to the exercise of faith. There is an expression which very much resembles this in 1 Samuel 12:6 ; 1 Samuel 12:8 : “It is the Lord who made [Engl. Vers., advanced] (LXX., ὁ ποιήσας ) and sent Moses and Aaron.” ὡς καὶ Μωϋσῆς , as also Moses) So Deuteronomy 18:15 . He praises Moses, and thus conciliates the Jews, before that he prefers Christ to him; although he has prepared their minds for hearing it, by his preferring the same Jesus even to angels. οἴκῳ , in His house) A rare appellation in the time of Moses. αὐτοῦ , His, of Him) of GOD, Hebrews 3:6 , note.

Verse 3

Hebrews 3:3 . Πλείονος , of more ) Christ, a prophet as Moses, Acts 3:22 , note (whereas the other prophets only explained Moses); and yet He was different from Moses, ch. Hebrews 8:9 ; John 1:7 . He is greater than Moses according to this passage. γὰρ , for ) The reason assigned (Ætiology) has relation to κατανοήσατε , consider . δόξης , glory ) Presently afterwards, τιμὴν , honour: τιμὴ here rather denotes something internal; δόξα follows it. τοῦ οἴκου ) The genitive is governed by πλείονα , the comparative; for it is an Enthymeme [a covert syllogism, wherein one or other premiss needs to be supplied], as follows: Christ is greater than the house (for the house is being prepared [‘built,’ κατασκευάζεται ]; Christ hath prepared [‘built’] the house and all things, and so Christ is God): therefore Christ is greater than Moses. The reason is: for Moses is less than the house, as a minister and as in some measure a portion of the house; comp. Matthew 12:6 , note.

Verse 4

Hebrews 3:4 . Ὁ δὲ , but He ) Christ. The article points out the subject, and also possesses in this passage a relative meaning, as in ch. Hebrews 7:6 . Θεὸς , GOD, is the predicate. Θεὸς , GOD) absolutely. Moses was a ‘god’ to Aaron, but he was not GOD absolutely.

Verse 5

Hebrews 3:5 . Καὶ , and ) Another reason for the superiority of Christ to Moses. θεράπων , servant ) So the LXX., Numbers 12:7 . This intimates the excellence of Moses in comparison with all other prophets; but again it speaks of Moses as inferior to Christ the Lord. εἰς , for ) He was a servant, in order that testimony should be given by him. τῶν λαληθησομένων , of those things which were to be spoken ) which Moses was to speak (ch. Heb 9:19 ), chiefly of Christ; and subsequently Christ Himself was about to speak. In ch. Hebrews 9:19 , there is a verbal parallelism, which however at the same time infers a like reason, viz. what Moses, in accordance with the time, Numbers 12:0 , both had spoken and was about to speak. Miriam did not assail the authority of Moses respecting the past; but she wished to claim just as much for herself for the future, on account of certain past specimens (of God speaking by her and Aaron).

Verse 6

Hebrews 3:6 . Χριστὸς δὲ , but Christ ) Moses yields to Him. An ambassador, in the absence of the king, is very highly distinguished in the presence of the king, he falls back among the multitude. Here also supply πιστός ἐστι , is faithful . The Son shows His faithfulness in all that belongs to His Father and in all that is His own. ἐπὶ , over ) This ἐπὶ , על , over, shows His surpassing power: ἐν , in, is applied to Moses, Hebrews 3:5 . αὐτοῦ , His, of Him) of GOD, ch. Hebrews 10:21 . ὅς ) This reading is very old. [23] Some read οὗ , from its alliteration with αὐτοῦ . In this case Paul should have written οὗοἶκος , as Erasmus showed at the beginning. For we say, οὗ τὸ πτύον , ἧςἀδελφος , ὧν τὸ στόμα , ὧν τὰ ὀνόματα , οὗπληγὴ , ὧν τὰ κῶλα , οὗφωνὴ , οὗοἰκία . The question here is not, Whose house is it? for that very point is just now denoted by the αὐτοῦ . His; but, What is the house? as distinguished from that of which Moses was a portion. ἐὰν , if ) The same sentiment is found at Hebrews 3:14 . An abbreviated expression: the house are we , since we have confidence: the house we shall be , if we retain our confidence. There is an expression of Paul’s very similar, Colossians 1:23 , note. τὴν παῤῥησίαν ) A word of frequent occurrence in this epistle: παῤῥησία , ch. Hebrews 4:16 , Hebrews 10:19 ; Hebrews 10:35 ; and ἐλπὶς ch. Hebrews 6:11 ; Hebrews 6:18 , Hebrews 7:19 , Hebrews 10:23 , in like manner πληροφορία , ὑπόστασις , παῤῥήσιαν , confidence , viz. towards GOD: καύχημα , glorying , with respect to enemies. κατάσχωμεν , if we hold fast ) So Hebrews 3:14 ; ch. Hebrews 10:23 . So κρατεῖν , Hebrews 4:14 , Hebrews 6:18 .

[23] The Gnomon here agrees with the 2d Ed. and the Germ. Vers., having changed the decision of the older Ed., which had given the preference to the reading οὖ . E. B.

οὖ is the reading of ABC and Rec. Text; ὃς of D( Δ ) corrected, f Vulg. Lucif. ED.

Verse 7

Hebrews 3:7 . Διὸ , wherefore ) A choice inference, and the strength of this whole passage. Jesus is πιστὸς , faithful: be not ye ἄπιστοι , unfaithful , Hebrews 3:2 ; Hebrews 3:12 [24] λέγει τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον , the Holy Ghost saith ) So ch. Hebrews 9:8 , Hebrews 10:15 . σήμερον ΤΕΣΣΑΡΆΚΟΝΤΑ ἜΤΗ · ΔΙῸ ΠΡΟΣΏΧΘΙΣΑ ΚΑῚ ΕἾΠΑ , ἈΕῚ ) Psalms 95:7 , at the end; LXX., ΣΉΜΕΡΟΝ ΤΕΣΣΡΆΚΟΝΤΑ ἜΤΗ ΠΡΟΣΏΧΘΙΣΑ . The word ΣΉΜΕΡΟΝ , to-day , is an expression of David’s, and is opposed to that day , which was in the time of Moses, Hebrews 3:8 . ἐὰν , if ) If you will obediently hear His voice . Under this hearing, there is included any sort of hearing whatever, Hebrews 3:16 , ch. Hebrews 4:2 . The force of this clause (hemistich) is joined in the Hebrew with what goes before, and thence it redounds upon what follows. φωνῆς , voice ) which is full of grace, in these words of the prophet, to be heard on that very account.

[24] Καθὼς , even as ) The Apodosis is at Hebrews 3:12 . Not. Crit .

Verse 8

Hebrews 3:8 . Παραπικρασμῷ πειρασμοῦ , in the provocation in the temptation ) By Chiasmus, in Hebrews 3:9 , as compared with Hebrews 3:8 , temptation is first treated, then provocation; ὕστερον πρότερον ἑβραιδὸν , as Franc. Junius says, when he observed the same figure occurring several times in this epistle. Both refer to the History, Exodus 17:7 , as the first offence; comp. below Hebrews 3:16 , they that came (went) out . The first offence ought to be guarded against; for more very easily spring up from it, and the first is wont to be most severely reproved. κατὰ , according to ) that is, as in the day . So the Hebrew text. ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ , in the wilderness ) the theatre of very great events.

Verse 9

Hebrews 3:9 . Οὗ ) viz. πειρασμοῦ , Attic for ᾧ . ἐπείρασάν Με , they tempted Me ) [to try] whether I was able or willing. οἱ πατέρες ὑμῶν , your fathers ) whose hardness of heart is very often mentioned. Therefore the authority of the ancients is not conclusive. ἐδοκίμασαν , proved ) i.e. searched out, put Me to the test; not approved . Weigh well what follows. εἶδον , they saw ) evidently, but without improvement. τὰ ἔργα μου , my works ) most glorious in affording help, partly also in executing vengeance. τεσσαρὰκοντα ἔτη , forty years ) This is joined with προσώχθισα in the LXX. and in the Hebrew, and below Hebrews 3:17 . At the same time the people both saw פעל , work of GOD, and offended GOD, until they filled up the full measure of their guilt. Here it is joined with εἶδον , they saw; and therefore the hard heart of the people is implied.

Verse 10

Hebrews 3:10 . Διὸ , wherefore ) This particle is not in the Hebrew, nor in the LXX. προσώχθισα ) A word of very frequent occurrence in the LXX., but scarcely to be met with anywhere else. Eustathius has ὄχθος (or ὄχθη , in general a high place; in particular, a bank ): παρὰ τὸ ἔχειν , i.e. ἐξέχειν , to be high, to be prominent . It denotes τοπικὸν ἐπανάστημα , a local eminence: thence ὀχθέω and ὀχθίζω , applied to the mind, signifies I am roused , προσώχθισα , I was displeased with them, so that they should not enter into the land, when they wished too late to do so. The phrase, to walk contrary , Leviticus 26:24 ; Leviticus 26:28 , is closely connected with it. τῇ γενεᾷ ἐκείνῃ ) ἐκείνῃ , with that , has the meaning of removal and alienation; [25] Heb. בְּדו ̇ ר absolutely, with the same meaning. ΚΑῚ ΕἾΠΑ , and I said ) I declared with my lips the displeasure of my soul . Observe the subsequent gradation: first displeasure with those who sinned made Him say; then anger , more severe than that displeasure, viz. towards those who did not believe , made him swear; comp. Hebrews 3:17-18 . The first temptation, Exodus 17:0 , was presently the cause why God was grieved or displeased . The complaint regarding the erring of their heart, then anger (wrath) and the oath followed. So the displeasure and anger , the complaint and the oath , respectively, are the better distinguished. αὐτοὶ , they ) הם in Heb. is repeated with great force. The accents [in the Hebrew] here begin the hemistich of this clause. Therefore it is not included under ΕἾΠΟΝ , I said , but this is the meaning: they perceived that I was displeased with them; αὐτοὶ δὲ , and yet they, the same persons , did not a whit the more wish to know My ways. There is a similar antithesis, they and I , ch. Hebrews 8:9 ; comp. Hebrews 3:10 . So but they , Psalms 106:43 ; comp. also Luke 7:5 ; Isaiah 53:7 , in the Hebrew. οὐκ ἔγνωσαν , they have not known ) This is the ἈΠΕΊΘΕΙΑ , not to believe; the ἁμαρτία , sin , is described, Hebrews 3:9 , ἘΠΕΊΡΑΣΑΝ , they tempted . Concerning both, again, Hebrews 3:12-13 , and Hebrews 3:17-18 . τὰς ὁδούς μου , My ways ) in which I wished to lead them as My flock into a place of rest.

[25] The margin of both Ed. prefers the reading ταύτῃ , and the Germ. Vers. follows it. Therefore the explanation of the pronoun ἐκείνῃ is at least hypothetical. E. B.

Ἐκείνῃ is the reading of C. and Rec. Text. But ταύτῃ is read by ABD( Δ ) corrected and Vulg. ED

Verse 11

Hebrews 3:11 . Ὡς ὤμοσα , as [so] I sware ) The oath preceded the forty years. εἰ , if ) The Apodosis omits something for the sake of euphemism, which has the force of the oath itself: εἰ here is negative, as ἦ μὴν is affirmative, ch. Hebrews 6:14 . εἰσελεύσονται , they shall enter ) by My ways. εἰς τὴν κατάπαυσίν μου , into My rest ) in the promised land. The people, the sheep; Psalms 95:7 . מנוחה , rest, is their benefit [their peculiar privilege], Psalms 23:2 .

Verse 12

Hebrews 3:12 . Βλέπετε ) This word depends on διὸ , wherefore , Hebrews 3:7 : the Apodosis here to Hebrews 3:7 [where see the note] not incorrectly also brings in the word brethren; 1 Thessalonians 3:7 . The same word is found at ch. Hebrews 12:25 . We must not trust to the heart; Jeremiah 17:9 . μή ποτε ἀπιστίας , lest of unbelief ) Observe the connection. Christ is πιστὸς , faithful , Hebrews 3:2 ; therefore we ought to be πιστοὶ , faithful to Him, not unfaithful (unbelievers), as our fathers were in regard to Moses; Hebrews 3:18-19 , ch. Hebrews 4:2-3 , Hebrews 6:12 . In like manner Paul places in opposition the faithfulness of God and the faithlessness of men, Rom 3:2-3 ; 2 Timothy 2:13 . ἔσται , lest there should be ) Care must also be extended to the future on account of the greatness of the danger. He uses the fut. indic. in preference to the pres. subj. πονηρὰ , evil ) An ἄπιστος , unbelieving people; רע an evil nation and unhappy; comp. κακοὒς κακῶς , Matthew 21:41 . ἐν τῷ ἀποστῆναι , in departing) The antithesis is προσερχώμεθα , let us come unto, ch. Hebrews 4:16 , and ὑποστασεώς , substance [i.e. solid confidence], presently at Hebrews 3:14 ; comp. Jeremiah 6:8 , μὴ ἀποστῇψυχή μου ἀπὸ σοῦ , let not my soul depart from thee. This whole passage of the apostle agrees with Jeremiah 17:5-6 : ΕΠΙΚΑΤΑΡΑΤΟΣἄνθρωπος , ὅς τὴν ΕΛΠΙΔΑ ἔχει ἐπʼ ἄνθρωπον καὶ ΑΠΟ ΚΥΡΙΟΥ ΑΠΟΣΤΗκαρδία αὐτοῦ οὐκ ὄψεται ὄταν ἔλθτὰ ΑΓΑΘΑ . CURSED is the man who TRUSTETH in man, and whose heart DEPARTETH from the LORD: he shall not see when GOOD cometh. ἀπὸ Θεοῦ ζῶντος , from the living God) The life of GOD most powerfully and effectually animates our faith. The living God is also praised, ch. Hebrews 9:14 , Hebrews 10:31 , Hebrews 12:22 . He who revolts from Christ, revolts from GOD; ch. Hebrews 3:12-19 . Chiasmus.

13. Ἑαυτοὺς , yourselves ) Let every one exhort himself and another; so far ought you to be from instigating and provoking one another [to unbelief]. ἡμέραν , σήμερον , daily, to-day ) Conjugates; ch. Hebrews 4:7 . ἄχρις οὗ , whilst ) as long as. This to-day will not continue for ever. τὸ ) the relative. καλεῖται , is called ) while that psalm is heard and read. ἵνα μὴ σκληρυνθῇ τις , that no one be hardened ) This is repeated from Hebrews 3:8 . ἀπάτῃ , through the deceitfulness ) This corresponds to πλανῶνται , they err , Hebrews 3:10 . τῆς ἁμαρτίας , of sin ) ἀπιστία , ἁμαρτία , unbelief and sin , which are much the same thing, John 16:9 ; Nehemiah 6:13 : where ἀπιστία and ἁμαρτία are mentioned together, they differ as species and genus; and unbelief , as the principal species of sin , has in its nature something more sad and destructive. But if sin be put by itself, the genus ἁμαρτία is contracted into this particular species, namely, unbelief: as ἁμαρτία is properly, when the main aim is missed, which is a result produced in the greatest degree through unbelief , ἀπιστίαν , in consequence of the grace of God having been neglected.16

Verse 14

Hebrews 3:14 . Μέτοχοι Χριστοῦ , partakers of Christ ) Hebrews 3:1 ; Hebrews 3:6 . So μέτοχοι , “ partakers of the Holy Ghost,” ch. Hebrews 6:4 . ἀρχὴν μέχρι τέλους , the beginning to the end ) comp. ch. Hebrews 6:11 , Hebrews 12:2 . A Christian, so long as he is not made perfect , considers himself as a beginner . τῆς ὑποστάσεως , of our solid confidence ) [lit. substance ], Hebrews 11:1 ; 2 Corinthians 9:4 , note. βεβαίαν , stedfast ) A word of frequent occurrence in this epistle, with its synonyms, ἀκλινὴς , ἀμετάθετος , ἀσφαλὴς , ἰσχυρός .

Verse 15

Hebrews 3:15 . Ἐν τῷ λέγεσθαι , while it is said ) The connection is with Hebrews 3:13 , in reference to παρακαλεῖτε . Even in the psalm the Divine exhortation (paraclesis) precedes, viz. O come ye . Comp. היום , Psalms 95:7 , taking into consideration the preceding Athnach, which is a subdistinctive of the latter hemistich [in the Hebrew]; i.e. it entirely depends on you that this may not only be a mere invitation and offer, in the first instance, but also [the source of] real enjoyment, in the second. So ἐν τῷ λέγειν , in that He saith, ch. Hebrews 8:13 . ὡς ἐν τῷ παραπικρασμῷ , as in the Provocation) כמריבה ; it is taken as a proper name, with its signification.

Verse 16

Hebrews 3:16 . Τίνες , who ) Many write τινὲς , some; but the argument of the apostle is thus rendered somewhat feeble: τινὲς , ἀλλʼ οὐ πάντες , some, but not all , is rather a general expression concerning the Provocation, ch. Hebrews 4:6 ; Exodus 17:2 . Τίνες is plainly interrogative, as ch. Hebrews 1:5 ; Hebrews 1:13 , and at the same time a very weighty Anaphora, [26] τίνες , τίσι , τίσι Hebrews 3:16-18 ; and there are brought under our notice in these three verses, 1. The beginning of the Provocation, soon after the departure from Egypt; 2. The forty troublesome years in the wilderness; 3. The refusal of the entrance into the land of rest . Ἀλλʼ οὐ is used, Hebrews 3:16 , as εἰ μὴ , Hebrews 3:18 ; for neither is properly interrogative, but both stand under the interrogative word, τίνες . That the power of the particle may be more clearly seen, suppose some one to say, ἦσαν ἄνθρωποι παραπικραίνοντες , ἀλλʼ οὐχ οὗτοι οἱ ἐξελθόντες , There were men who provoked, but not those that went out . The apostle denies that, and therefore says, τίνες ἦσαν , ἀλλʼ οὐχ οὖτοι ; who were they, but these ? i.e. these were the very persons . There are similar particles in Luke, τίς , ἀλλʼ οὐχὶ , Luke 17:7-8 ; and in Paul , τίς , ἢ οὐχὶ καὶ , κ . τ . λ ., 1 Thessalonians 2:19 . Πάντες , in this passage, is none else but, merely those , a meaning of the word πᾶς which Raphelius, at James 1:17 , beautifully explains, ex Ariano. Germ.: Diejenige, die eine Erbitterung angerichtet haben, wer waren sie ? es warenlauter solche Leute, die von Egypten ausgegangen waren durch Mosen . These are not in this passage said to have been led out , but to have come out . They had already the pledge of Divine assistance, and had followed the Divine guidance; but their future progress did not correspond to that excellent beginning (comp. Heb 3:14 ). Chrysostom evidently reads τίνες : τίνων μἐμνηταί φησι σκληρυνθέντων ; who, says he, have been mentioned as being hardened; where σκληρυθέντες (comp. Heb 3:15 ) are the same as παραπικράναντες . ἀκούσαντες , after having heard ) Hebrews 3:15 . παρεπίκραναν , provoked ) the Lord, namely, by chiding with Moses, Exodus 17:2 . διὰ Μωϋσέως , by Moses ) whose words, when they heard them, they should have obeyed.

[26] The frequent repetition of the same word in beginnings. ED.

Verse 17

Hebrews 3:17 . Ὧν , whose ) The event proves the fact. So also Hebrews 3:19 . ὧν τὰ κῶλα ἔπεσεν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ ) Numbers 14:29 , LXX., ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ ταύτπεσεῖται τὰ κῶλα ὑμῶν . This appellation, פגרים , κῶλα , carcases, mere bodies, subject to decay, always indicates indignation. Κῶλα , limbs, properly feet, according to Eustathius. If the forty years be resolved into days, and the average number of those that died daily be computed, every day had forty deaths of men. A great cause for writing the 90th Psalm!

Verse 19

Hebrews 3:19 . Οὐκ ἠδυνήθησαν , they were not able ) though they afterwards had wished it.

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Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Hebrews 3". Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.