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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Hebrews 3

Verses 1-19

Hebrews 3:1-6 . Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, who, as the sons of God, are called to eternal glory, consider the Apostle and Highpriest of our profession, that he unites in his glorious person all the honours of Moses as a prophet, and all the honours of Aaron as a priest, and so far eclipses their glory as the celestial house surpasses the earthly. They were only shadows, he is the substance; they were but servants, he is the Lord, the Son and heir of all. Let us then hold fast our confidence and rejoicing in hope, firm to the end, for the fading tabernacle adumbrates the glory of the temple built of God, which shall remain for ever. Mount Zion above is the mother of us all.

Hebrews 3:7-11 . Wherefore, consider what the Holy Ghost saith, when David had rest from his surrounding foes, how he called the Israelites to gratitude, and the gentiles to conversion, saying, To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Repeat not the sins of your fathers, for by so doing you would sin against greater grace than they ever knew. David, transported by the Spirit, spake of Christ, and the glory that should follow, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. David foresaw that the jews in the Messiah’s day would reject his ministry, and incur greater evils than those which befel their fathers. See then, he cries, that ye refuse not him that speaketh, for his voice which once shook the earth, shall ultimately shake the heavens also.

Hebrews 3:12 . Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, with regard to the person of Christ, and the truth of the gospel. This caution must not be lightly passed over. Unbelief is the first sin that entered the heart; it hides itself lest it should be perceived. Satan said, ye shall not surely die. It excludes a God of retribution from his works. It is essential wickedness, or as the text says, an evil heart of unbelief. It places its happiness in concupiscence, and flatters itself with exemption from punishment. It hardens the heart to brave the bolt of justice, pleading every excuse for sin. It hurries men to apostasy, departing from the living God, and super-induces final destruction. It was unbelief that precipitated the Egyptians into the sea, that excluded the Israelites from Canaan, that finally burned Jerusalem, and scattered the jews over the face of the whole earth. Take heed, brethren, lest it also remove your candlestick, and destroy the unbelieving world.

The apostle prescribes the remedies: Let us fear, let us exhort one another daily. Let us strike at the root of indwelling corruption, and mortify the daring usurpations of pride. Let us converse daily with the glorious objects of our hope, that all the habitudes of piety and holiness may be formed in the heart.

Hebrews 3:14 . We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence stedfast to the end. This exhortation is built on our Saviour’s words: he that endureth to the end shall be saved. The faithful souls shall participate with Christ, as the members of the body participate with the head. If we do not hold fast the christian faith, if we cast away our confidence, and draw back, we have no promise of eternal life in Christ. On the contrary we are classed with those who fell short of the promised land.


This chapter is a continuation of inferential duties from the deity of Christ, and the truth and certainty of the christian religion. Paul was fully aware, that many of the believing jews, through incessant persecutions, drew back from the faith of the gospel. It was requisite therefore to stop them by a full display of the glory of Christ in his ever-subsisting temple. Moses saw his glory, and declared that whosoever would not hear that prophet should be cut off; which happened correctly when that nation was exscinded by the Roman sword. Moses received his revelations from Christ at the burning bush, and also in the tabernacle. Christ received the commandment of the Father, even the gospel law from the immediate fountain of deity. The temple which Christ has built with living stones is glorious; but the architect himself is more glorious than the temple. Oh Hebrew christians, if you leave this temple, you have no refuge; for your temple built with hands, the remains of Aaron’s altar, shall soon be in flames.

But the grand caution, a caution often repeated, is, to beware of the serpent fostered in our own bosom. The dangers of christians to-day is equal to those of Judea, warned in perilous times. We perceive not the snake in the grass, which changes colour, and assumes a thousand different shapes. It sheds discouragement on the soul, like the voice of the spies who said, we cannot take the land, let us go back into Egypt. But how awful is the character of that justice which the rebels despise. They murmur, they disbelieve, they rebel, till at length the years of patience and longsuffering expire, when God turns their language upon themselves, and swears in his wrath that they shall not enter into his rest. What example can be more terrific what error more instructive!

Oh Lord, according to all thy promises, take the stony heart all away, and give me a pure, and a believing heart; a new heart, inscribed with thy name, that I may delight in the law of God after the inward man. Yea, draw me with the cords of love, that my new heart may run after thee, as much as the unbelieving heart departed from thee.

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Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Hebrews 3". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.