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SUPERIORITY OF JESUS CHRIST TO THE DIVINELY-SENT SERVANTS AND LEADERS OF ISRAEL, MOSES AND JOSHUA
The exhortation to fidelity toward Christ, the faithful Messenger of God, rests on the preëminence of Christ, as Son ruling over the house, above Moses, the faithful servant in the house
1Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the [a] heavenly calling, consider [κατανοήσατε, mark with attention, observe attentively] the Apostle and High Priest of our profession [δμολγίας, confession], Christ Jesus1 [om. Christ]; 2Who was faithful to him 3 that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all2 his house. For this man [this personage, he] was [has been] counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch [by as much] as he who hath builded [established, κατασκευάσας] the house hath more honor than the house. 4For every house is builded [established] by some man [one]; but he that built [established] all things3 is God. 5And Moses verily [Moses indeed] was faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after [to the things hereafter to be spoken, τῶν λαληθησομένων]; 6But Christ as a Son [was] over his own [his, αὐτοῦ] house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence [boldness, παῤῥησία] and the rejoicing [glorying, καύχημα] of the [our] hope firm unto the end.4
[Hebrews 3:1.—Ὅθεν, whence, wherefore, logical, as nearly, or quite always in this Epistle.—Κατανοήσατε: κατά emphatic; mark with attention, contemplate earnestly. Moll: “Richtet euren Sinn anf.’ Κατανοεῖν, of lingering, penetrating regard, a favorite word of Luke.” (Del.)—Ἀπόστολον, commissioned one, then Apostle. Moll and Del.: Gottesbote; De Wette: der Gesandte; used of Christ as God’s great commissioned one of the New Testament, as Moses was of the Old. Moses was the ἀπόστολος and Aaron the ἀρχιερεύς of the Old Covenant; Christ combines in himself both characters in the New.
Hebrews 3:2.—πιστὸν ὄντα, being faithful. Eng. ver. renders “was faithful;” so De Wette; Moll, following Bleek, renders is, but justly censures Bleek for pressing the force of the present ὄντα. The truth is ὄντα is not necessarily present at all, except to the time that is expressed by the finite verb, or that is present to the mind of the writer. Here I take it to be clearly that of Christ’s residence on earth, and hence follow Eng. ver. and De W., in supplying was rather than Moll and Del. in rendering is. But see exposition.
Hebrews 3:3.—“This man,” Eng. ver., οὗτος is often difficult to render into Eng. ‘This one’ is inelegant English; ‘This man,’ directs an undue amount of attention to the word ‘man’ (for here the reference is almost equally to Christ’s sojourn as ‘man’ on earth, and his present heavenly exaltation): ‘this personage,’ is too formal; ‘he’ is not sufficiently emphatic. The German dieser is unexceptionable. Has been counted or deemed worthy; ἡξίωται Perf., much better than Auth. ver. “was counted worthy,” because the reference is not merely to that reward of glorification which Jesus once received, but which he still retains.
Hebrews 3:4.—Founded, κατασκευάζειν, furnish out, prepare, equip; not οἰκοδομεῖν, to build, as also the noun is not οἰκία, a house proper, but οἶκον, an estate, a domestic establishment, a household.
Hebrews 3:5.—“And Moses indeed,” or “while Moses.” Eng. ver. renders μέν here, as often elsewhere, “verily;” but always unfortunately.
Hebrews 3:6.—Χριστὸς ὡς υἱὸς ἐπί, etc. The ellipsis may be supplied so as to read, “But Christ, as a Son, was faithful over His house,” or “was faithful, as a Son, over His house;” or, “as a Son was over His house,” which construction I adopt with Moll and Del. (except that they put is for was, which, perhaps, is admissible, the discussion sliding forward into the present) as the simplest, the idea of fidelity retreating, and that of authority becoming prominent. Both the best texts and the connection demand His (viz., God’s αὐτοῦ) not his own (ἑαυτοῦ).—K.].
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Hebrews 3:1. Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling.—The ὅθεν, wherefore, links the exhortation of this verse with the preceding characterization of Jesus. The same holds also of the designation of the readers (“holy brethren”) who, however, are not here addressed as brethren of Christ (Michael., Carpz., etc.), nor as Jewish compatriots of the writer (Chr. Fr. Schmidt); but as consecrated members of the Christian brotherhood, who have become partakers of a call to the kingdom of God, which has come from heaven (ἐπουράνιος,=ἡ ἄνω κλῆσις, Philippians 3:14, comp. Hebrews 12:25), and has proved itself effectual, i.e., has secured to them an actual participation in heavenly treasures and blessings (Colossians 1:5)—designations from which the following exhortation receives, alike in form and substance, both confirmation and emphasis. The combination “holy brethren” is not found elsewhere (1 Thessalonians 5:27, the reading is doubtful), but is here a most appropriate summary of the ideas developed from Hebrews 2:11. The other epithets point still further back—to Hebrews 2:1, and even Hebrews 1:1. [ἄγιοι, as usual also with Paul, marks of course not the degree of individual holiness, but the collective, and, so to speak, official, or rather ideal character of Christians. As a community in their relation to Christ, who alone can procure sanctification, they are characteristically ἅγιοι.—K.].
Consider attentively the apostle and high-priest of our confession.—Κατανοεῖν denotes the turning of the νοῦς to an object, not, however, for the sake of theoretical recognition, but for the practical weighing of that which we have in Him—i.e., for moral and spiritual heeding. The two epithets, descriptive of Jesus, bring most impressively before the readers the substance of the preceding statements. Jesus is the highest organ of the revelation of God to man, and at the same time the true and perfect Mediator of redemption. Precisely for this reason He is not like Moses and Joshua, a mere lawgiver and leader, but with all His resemblance to these servants of God, is yet exalted infinitely above them. To avoid all misunderstanding, however, He is not called ἄγγελος, but ἀπόστολος, which word corresponds as well with the Heb. maleach, as with His essential relations, Galatians 4:4; John 3:34; John 5:36; John 6:29; John 10:36; John 20:21. Thol. and Biesenthal (after Braun, Deyling, Schöttg.) are inclined to refer the term to Rabbinical usage, in which ἀπόστολος=שְׁלִיחַ might bear the sense of Mediator. But according to Del. the priest has this name only precisely in his quality of delegate partly of God, partly of the congregation. Otto (“The Apostle and High Priest of our confession,” 1861) assumes a reference to Numbers 13:0, and sums up the result of his investigation in the following paraphrase: “Therefore, ye brethren who have been rescued from the world, and been endowed with the prerogative of a heavenly home and citizenship, observe that the Apostle and High-priest of our confession, i.e., He who first trod the sacred land of our inheritance with the confession, ‘Jehovah delivers,’ and now stands at our head as leader, but who at the same time is the high-priest of our confession, i.e., who brings before God our confession, ‘Jehovah delivers,’ in that He secures by His mediation our entrance into the heavenly home,—in fine that the Apostle and High priest of our confession, Jesus (as it were, our Joshua) is πιοτός to Him who has constituted Him.” We have here an interpolation of references and allusions which, indeed, a subtle ingenuity might easily enough light upon, but which are wholly alien to the context. Equally without foundation is also the remark of Kluge (p. 19): “From His κλῆσις, act of calling, the Son receives the name of ἀπόστολος, from His ἁγιάζειν, sanctifying, the name of ἀρχιερεύς.” In His two-fold character Jesus is immediately described as belonging specifically to our, i.e., the Christian confession, in order that the readers may direct their mind to Him, and consider what they have in Him. The rendering of the Itala: Constitutionis nostræ, reminding us perhaps of the ‘Messenger of the Covenant’ (Malachi 3:1), is inadmissible, since ὁμολογία in the New Testament signifies only confession, acknowledgment, never ‘contract or covenant,’ and this along with the subject (De W.) and the object (Bl., Lün.) of the confession, 2 Corinthians 9:13; 1 Timothy 6:12-13. The Gen. marks possession, belonging to. [The high-priest who belongs to our confession: the high-priest whom we confess, acknowledge, i.e., (as Beng.) agree with; God λέγει, man ὁμολογεῖ.]
Hebrews 3:2. Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.—According to Otto πιστός does not designate a moral quality, but “position next the heart of a higher personage” (p. 47), and should for this reason be taken in the sense of trusted, confidential, organ of trust. This by no means harmonizes with Hebrews 2:17, where assuredly a moral quality is indicated for the display of which in His high-priestly calling the Son of God became incarnate. But the faithfulness of Jesus creates an obligation of like faithfulness in His church. The mention of the former lays a foundation for demanding the latter; and this all the more in that the two historical and visible founders of the old and of the new covenant, in their exhibition of this fidelity in their respective positions, have left a pattern to their disciples, that, viz., of fidelity toward Him to whom they owed their respective historical positions. In this respect there is a close analogy between Jesus and Moses, which adds weight to the writer’s exhortation. The object of κατανοεῖν, attentively observe, is not the fact that Jesus is a πιστός (Otto), but the person of Jesus, already signalized as entirely peculiar, and whose permanently abiding quality the ὄντα renders prominent. Bleek, after Seb. Schmidt, erroneously presses the present, as if indicating that the reference is to the exalted Messiah. It is also an error (with Calv., Bl., Ebr.) to place a comma after Moses; for the following words are cited from Numbers 12:7, and apply properly only to Moses. For in respect of Jesus we are immediately reminded of His prerogative of being over the house. [I doubt if this is any adequate reason against inserting the comma with Calv., Bl., and Ebr. Because although Christ was a Son over the house, He was also a servant in the house, and the point of resemblance is that which is first adverted to: the distinction comes out later. In His double character Christ could be at once compared and contrasted with Moses. Like him and more fully than he, He proved a faithful servant in God’s house, but unlike him, He was also a Son over it. In the exceedingly elliptical language of the author some elements of the parallel are taken for granted, and hence its difficulty. Still I incline on the whole, though with hesitation, to obliterate the comma after Moses.—K.]5
The ποιεῖν, make, constitute, appoint, denotes the placing or putting forward of Christ on the theatre of history (De W., Del., Thol.). Bleek, Lönemann, and Alford, with Ital., Ambros., Primas., D. Schultz, adhere to the proper signification of the word, and refer the ποιεῖν either to the incarnation of the Son, or to His eternal generation. [Alford: “The word, thus taken, however, is, of course, to be understood of that constitution of our Lord as Apostle and High-priest, in which He, being human, was made by the Father”]. They are right, in so far as they take the word absolutely; for it is quite unnecessary to supply a second accusative (as is done by the majority following Chrys.), as if the construction were “who made Him, scil., Apostle or high-priest.” But on the other hand, to refer the word to the “eternal generation”—considering that ποιεῖν is used Hebrews 1:1 for actual creation, would give the passage a strong tincture of Arianism, and resolve Christ into a creature (κτίσμα), in decided contradiction to Hebrews 1:3. And again, to refer the word to the incarnation—the commencement of the temporal and earthly life of Jesus—though done by the orthodox Fathers, is scarcely admissible; for this term would hardly have been employed to designate the assumption of human nature by the Logos in the bosom of the virgin, or the overshadowing influence of the Holy Spirit and of the “power of the Highest” (Luke 1:35). The author was, perhaps, led to the term by 1 Samuel 12:6 [ὁ ποιήσας τὸν Μωυσῆν καὶ τὸν Ἀαρών. Heb. עָשָׂה]. Bl. The house οἶκος designates the family of God, or the Theocratic nation (Hebrews 10:21), in which Moses had a position in which he could show fidelity. The reference of αὐτοῦ to Moses (Oec. and alt., with whom I formerly agreed) is inadmissible, since the words refer to Numbers 1:2; Numbers 1:7 : the reference to Christ (Bl., Riehm) would be anticipating.
Hebrews 3:3. For of greater glory than Moses has he been deemed worthy by how much, etc.—The passage is not explaining or analyzing Hebrews 3:2 (De W.), but enforcing the exhortation κατανοήσατε. It expresses directly the elevation of Jesus above Moses, which appears all the more worthy of regard as it comes out in connection with the recognition of a like fidelity on the part of both. The relation between them is then illustrated in the relation which always exists between a house and its founder. Κατασκευ. is not barely building, but fitting out a house with furniture and servants. But from this it does not follow that we are to construct τοῦ οἴκου with τιμήν, honor from the house (Wolf, Michael., Steng., etc.). The Gen. depends rather on πλείονα. The respect and admiration rendered to a house redound in a very high degree to him who has reared and established it. In the same relation stands the glory (δόξα) of Christ to that of Moses. There is here no comparison drawn between the splendor of the countenance of Moses when, having spoken with Jehovah on the mount, he was about to utter His word to Israel, and the radiance which involved the whole person of Jesus on the mount of transfiguration (Hofm., Weissag., II. 188). The reference is to the glory of their respective callings and positions. Entirely untenable is the assertion of Del., that by understanding Christ to be here referred to as the founder, we involve in confusion the entire course of argumentation. Such a view by no means necessitates the absurd conclusion that in that case Moses must be the house. For the thought may perfectly well be, that Moses, as servant, is only a member or a part of the house of which Christ is the founder. We can only say that the language does not speak directly and in terms of Christ, but has the form of a universal statement, and that there appears as yet no occasion to pass beyond the comparison immediately expressed in the text between the relation of Jesus to Moses and the relation of a founder to a house. But we involuntarily turn our thoughts upon Jesus, and are justified in applying the passage to Him, as the founder of that house of God which we Christians constitute.
Hebrews 3:4. For every house is established by some one: but he who established all things is God.—This is also a general statement of unquestionable correctness, forming a link between the premise and the conclusion, but neither the conclusion itself, nor a remark merely incidental and parenthetical. If Christ is founder of the true Theocracy, it follows not from this that He has reared this house alongside of that which was established through the instrumentality of Moses. The general statement that God is the universal founder and establisher, who has placed Jesus, as He formerly did Moses, in His historical position [as founder of His New Testament house], would rather and simply suggest that the Theocracy founded by Jesus is in correspondence with the will of God. [And also, perhaps, it incidentally illustrates the way in which both Moses and Jesus could be faithful—the ground on which fidelity could be predicated of them, viz., that while each of these was a founder in his respective sphere, yet each worked under God as supreme founder, and to whom, therefore, both stood responsible.—K.].
Many older expositors have erroneously regarded (with Theodoret) θεός as predicate, and found in it a proof passage for the divinity of Jesus, whom they assumed to be the subject. So also Otto, who, by οἶκος, Hebrews 3:3, understands specially the house of God, and thus paraphrases the following (p. 87 and 96): “For every house is founded by some one (but to meet and supply all its needs is in the power of none). He who has furnished the house with every thing (as Jesus, for example, has supplied it with all that was needful for time and eternity),—such an one is all-powerful,—such an one must be Divine (θεός).” But the absence of the article involves no necessity of assuming this construction, for θεός here has nearly the force of a proper name; and the connection is opposed to it. [Alford: “Apart from the extreme harshness and forcing of the construction to bring out this meaning, the sentiment itself is entirely irrelevant here. If the writer was proving Christ to be greater than Moses, inasmuch as He is God, the founder of all things, then clearly the mere assertion of this fact would have sufficed for the proof, without entering on any other consideration; nay, after such an assertion, all minor considerations would have been not only superfluous, but preposterous. He does, however, after this, distinctly go into the consideration of Christ being faithful, not as a servant, but as a Son, so that he cannot be here speaking of his Deity as a ground of superiority”].
Πᾶς οἰ̄κος designates not the house in all its parts, the whole house, but according to the usage of our Epistle Hebrews 5:1; Hebrews 5:13; Hebrews 8:3 [and correct classical usage], every house. They who refer the previous clause (ὁ κατασκευάσας αὐτόν) directly to Jesus, interpolate the idea that the question is here answered how fidelity can be predicated of Jesus, at the same time that He is asserted to be the founder of the Theocracy. The solution then is this: The Theocracy stands in the same category with every household, in that it must have a [subordinate] founder; while it yet remains true that God is the causa prima of each and all (Thol., Ebr., etc.) But the question itself, raising such a query, and demanding a solution, is entirely gratuitous: inasmuch as the Messiah has been from the outset designated as Son, and in the most definite manner declared to be the Mediator of Revelation and Redemption, as well as Mediator of the creation and government of the world. In these relations then the matter of His fidelity has of course already come up and been disposed of. This point is no longer under discussion; the topic now under consideration is the relation of him who has founded a house to the house. And as God is the supreme and universal founder, the Theocracy, as well in its Christian as in its Mosaic form, must be referred back to Him. And in perfect harmony with this view is the fact that a little before God is styled in reference to the Messiah ὁ ποιήσας αὐτόν, and that it is only by this view that the following verse (Hebrews 3:5) is brought into logical connection with Hebrews 3:3, as legitimately authorizing its assertion of the superior glory (δόξα) of Christ. [That is: Hebrews 3:3, Christ, the founder of the New Testament house, is declared to have been deemed worthy of higher glory than Moses, by all the difference between the founder of the house and the house itself. Then Hebrews 3:4 reminds us that the New Testament house, as well as the Old Testament Mosaic house, was also founded under the ultimate and supreme direction of God, whence Moses and Christ, both in their respective positions, sustained direct relations to God, each having been placed, constituted, viz. ποιήσας, by God in his position. Consequently we are prepared at Hebrews 3:5, to see the different relation which these two personages sustained to the house, on the one hand, and to God as the common founder, on the other; Moses being a servant, and Christ a Son; Moses being in the house and a part of it, and Christ over it. Yet I cannot see, after all, any very essential difference between the author’s view of the force of ὁ δὲ κατασκευάσας, and that of Ebrard and Tholuck, which he rejects. Ebrard makes it declare God the supreme founder, and thus answer the implied question, how Christ as founder could have fidelity predicated of Him. Moll says: that “as God is the universal founder, therefore, the Theocracy, in its Christian as well as in its Mosaic form, must be referred back to Him.” This comes to near the same thing as the other. Both make the passage put God as universal and supreme founder into His true relation to both Moses and Jesus in their respective spheres. But with respect to the statement of Moll, regarding the Mediatorship of the Son, he seems to me to put the Son’s mediatorship in the creation and government of the world, as eternal Logos, one and equal with the Father, too nearly on a level with His Mediatorship in His humbled and servile character as Redeemer. In the latter the question of His fidelity is indeed often raised, and is absolutely vital: in the former relation, I do not remember where the term πιστός is applied to Him, and I scarcely see how it could be without derogating from His divine dignity.—K]. Riehm’s opinion, (Lehrbegriff, I. 310) that Christ is designated as the founder of the Old Testament kingdom of God, and that Moses has held his position in it as assigned by Christ, cannot be substantiated by an appeal to the doctrine of our Epistle, that the Son is the Mediator of every form of divine agency that is directed to the world. It is here decidedly to be rejected, because the subject of discourse is here specially Jesus, the Messiah, as actually and historically manifested.
[Moll’s exposition of this difficult and vexed passage seems to labor under obscurity from his having failed to do justice to the elliptical character of the passage. The first thing, it seems to me, to be settled, is whether Moses and Christ are conceived by the author, as both in one house of God, or as in two, i.e., each in that respectively to which God had assigned him. This Alford, following Delitzsch, denies, maintaining that both are in one house of God, Moses as servant, and Christ as Son, and that the force and “strictness of the comparison” requires this. It seems to me that this confounding of the houses in which Moses and Christ were, raises at once an inexplicable difficulty. The question arises, How could Moses be in a house which was not reared or founded until by Christ, many centuries after? Or, how could Jesus found or rear a house in which Moses had officiated as servant, many centuries before? For that Christ founded or reared the New Testament house of God, is certain, and Christ, on the other hand, did not rear the Old Testament house of God; for Christ, the God-man, the Mediator, Jesus, had not then an existence. And to bring in here the Logos, the Eternal Son, as founding the Old Testament economy, is entirely out of the question; for with Him as such, the passage has nothing to do. The comparison is between Moses and Jesus, and by the whole tenor and sentiment of the Epistle, it is between Moses, as the servant of God in founding the Old Testament or Jewish economy, in rearing the house of God in its Old Testament form, and Jesus, in founding the New Testament economy—in rearing the house of God in its New Testament form. The comparison is between the two historical characters in the work which each respectively had performed. And it matters not that the two houses—the house of Moses and the house of Jesus—are in their deepest significance one house—as they certainly are—both God’s house—yet for the purposes, and in the representation of the author, they are different houses—the one an earthly, transitory, typical house, the other a heavenly, spiritual, imperishable house. In these two houses, respectively stand Moses and Jesus; both raised up of God, made, constituted (see ποιήσας applied to Moses, 1 Samuel 12:6, and to Jesus, Hebrews 3:2, I have little doubt the latter suggested by the former)—each for his special work. Each was a founder, an institutor, inaugurator,—Moses of the Old Testament economy, Jesus of the New Testament economy. Each had the high honor of being appointed by God as the introducer and inaugurator of His respective system. But each was not only a founder, he was also a servant: Moses a servant (θεράπων, often so called in the Sept.); Jesus still more manifestly and deeply a servant (δοῦλος, διάκονος); yet both faithful in both relations. Moses was faithful as a founder under God, of the old economy, and as a servant in it; Christ was faithful as a founder, under God, of the new economy, and as a servant in it. Thus far the resemblance; now the contrast. Moses, while apparently a founder of the old economy, a builder of the Old Testament house, was in reality only a servant in it; his highest function was purely ministerial. Christ, while apparently, and indeed really a servant in the New Testament house, yet in reality was a Son over it; His character of servant was but secondary and temporary; His highest and trne nature was that of Son. Thus Moses, the apparent builder of the Old Testament house, yet in reality and ultimately sinks to the level of the house, and becomes a part of it. Jesus, the builder of the New Testament house, and also seemingly an humble servant in it, yet ultimately rises completely above this servile condition, and by virtue of His essential equality and identity with God, the Supreme Founder of all things, becomes precisely as much superior to Moses as the founder of the house which He truly and absolutely was, is to the house itself, to which Moses only belonged as a part. The paradox, it is perceived, is a necessary one. It grows out of the double nature of the great Head of the New Testament Church. Lower than the angels, He yet rises in position, as He was in essential nature, infinitely above them. Appearing lower than Moses—as much lower as a δοῦλος, slave, is lower than a θεράπων, voluntary attendant, He yet rises transcendently and infinitely above him, by virtue of that nature which He shared in common with the eternal Father. I should, therefore, paraphrase the exceedingly elliptical passage somewhat as follows, reminding the reader that the facts regarding the positions both of Moses and of Christ—and certainly of the former—were so well-known, that the author, in his comparison, could safely presuppose them: “Consider—Jesus, who was faithful in the New Testament house of God to Him who constituted Him as builder and servant, as also Moses was faithful in all God’s Old Testament house to Him who constituted him builder and servant in it. For Jesus has been deemed worthy of, and been advanced to, higher glory than Moses, by how much the builder of the house has more honor than the house. For every house (and of course, therefore, the Old and the New Testament houses) must be founded immediately and secondarily by some one, as was the former by Moses, and the latter by Jesus; but He who ultimately and absolutely founded all things, and therefore was ultimate and supreme founder of these, was God. And while Moses, though apparent and formal founder of the Old Testament house, was in reality in his highest nature, but in it, and strictly but a part of it, Jesus, the founder of the New Testament house, though apparently a servant in it, was, in reality, and in His highest nature, as Son, equal with and substantially identical with the absolute and Supreme Founder Himself.”—This paraphrase introduces no elements into the comparison which are not presupposed in it, and which do not lie on the very face of the historical facts. It simply says thus: Moses and Jesus, each a founder of and a servant in the Old and the New Testament Theocracy respectively; each appointed of God and each faithful; but Moses, after all, only faithful as a servant, who was thus but part of the house; but Christ faithful as a Son, who was, therefore, in spite of His servile appearance, equal with the Supreme Founder Himself.
The only point on which there can be doubt, is as to the dual nature of the house of God; but I confess I do not see how there can be legitimate doubt on this point. Moll himself, who with most, denies this duality, is yet obliged to speak of the house of God “in its Old and its New Testament form,” and I suppose he could hardly deny that Moses was founder or rearer of the house in its Old Testament form, as was Jesus of the house in its New Testament form. But this comes very nearly to the same thing as affirming two houses. None can doubt that ultimately, and in their deepest meaning, they were indeed identical; i.e., both were not only from one Supreme Founder, but stood in close connection with the same great economy of salvation. But formally, and historically, and according to the whole scope and treatment of our author, they were different; as different as the Mosaic Tabernacle in which Aaron ministered, and the heavenly Tabernacle in which Christ ministered; as different as were the many animal sacrifices of the one, from the single spiritual and life-giving offering of the other. The Old Testament house of God which Moses reared, but in which he was but servant, was earthly, material, typical and transitory; the New Testament house of God which Jesus reared, apparently a servant, but in reality a Son and Lord, is heavenly, spiritual, archetypal and eternal.—K.].
Hebrews 3:5. And while Moses indeed is faithful, etc.—Moses, as well as Christ, has been raised up, set, forth by God, and designated in his fidelity, not merely for an individual service, or for a special department of action in the administration of God’s house, and his agency and fidelity stand in relation to the entire Theocracy. But (as shown by the Μωυσῆς μέν, Moses indeed, within this similar relation, which is common to Moses and Christ, we are to recognize a profound and fundamental difference in the two persons. Moses has officiated as a servant, by no means indeed as a slave (δοῦλος), or as a domestic servant, or menial, (οἰκέτης), but (Wis 10:16) as a θεράπων, a word always implying voluntary subordination, and willing and honorable service. But at the same time all this has been but typical and preparatory. The λαληθησόμενα are not the revelations which Moses was hereafter himself to receive, thus requiring the translation: “in order to render testimony to that which was then to be spoken.” Bleek, De W., Thol., Lün., so understanding the words, refer them specially to the law; Riehm reminds us of the expression, Numbers 12:8, στόμα κατὰ στόμα λαλήσω αὐτῶ. These words, it is true, indicated the definite point in the life of Moses in which to him himself future revelations were promised. But the question is here no longer of the resemblance between Jesus and Moses, in fidelity to their respective vocations, but of the elevation of Christ above Moses, which, in fact, receives attestation even from the fidelity of Moses, who scrupulously held himself entirely within his prescribed sphere. The term refers therefore to those revelations to whose necessity the very ministry of Moses renders in all respects its testimony; and these, too, are not the revelations of later prophecy, nor specially, again, the declarations contained in our Epistle. They are rather those which have been disclosed in full perfection in the Son, John 5:49 (Erasm., Calv., Ebr., Hofm., Del., etc.). Precisely for this reason the name now employed is not Ἰησοῦς, but χριστός.
Hebrews 3:6. Yet Christ as a Son over his house, whose house are we.—The reading, ὅς, instead of οὗ, in Hebrews 3:6, is critically unsustained, and the article is wanting before οἶκος, as frequently before θεός, νόμος, and similar familiar terms. The house is still the Theocracy in which Moses served, but at the head of which stands Christ, who, as Son of Him who appointed Him, and erected the house, receives a position of authority and preëminence, and inasmuch as He, as Son of God, is not merely Lord and Heir of all possessions, but the essential agent in originating and procuring them, has a corresponding glory. These declarations, with which the Epistle opens, could not possibly remain unregarded by the readers. But with them the representation here given stands in the most perfect harmony, and ὡς υἱός emphatically precedes, because, while even a servant of higher grade might be entrusted with the management of a household, yet this would leave the specific distinction between Christ and Moses entirely unexpressed. For this reason we are neither to refer αὐτοῦ, Hebrews 3:5, to God, and ἀυτοῦ, Hebrews 3:6, to Christ (Œcum., Bl., De W., etc.), as if designing to place in contrast the fact that Moses has his special position in an alien house, but Christ in His own; nor are these genitives to be regarded as genitives of reference=in his, i.e., in the house assigned to him (Ebr., who speaks confusedly of two houses); but they both refer grammatically to God (Chrys., Theod., Calv., Lun., Del., etc.), as does also the relative οὗ, although referring as matter of fact to the Christian dispensation; for this is quite frequently called the house of God, Heb 10:21; 1 Corinthians 3:9; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:22; 1 Timothy 3:15; 1Pe 4:17; 1 Peter 2:5; but never the house of Christ. We give most emphasis to the contrast by simply supplying ἐστίν with χριστὸς δὲ—αὐτοῦ (Erasm., Grot., Del., etc.), while the supplying of πιστός ἐστιν is yet undoubtedly admissible, Hebrews 10:21; Matthew 25:21 (Bez., Grot., Thol., etc.); not, however, twice (Bl., De W., Bisp.)=Christ (is faithful) as a Son over his house (is faithful). The ὡς cannot here signify quemadmodum, but simply ut.
Provided that we hold fast the confidence and the glorying of our hope, etc.—Christianity, as such, bears the above assigned character of the ‘house of God;’ hence exclusion from the temple need occasion no anxiety to the Church. But whether, as a Church, we preserve this character (not whether we are permitted personally to apply to ourselves this designation, or to regard ourselves as this house), depends on the fulfilment of the requisite condition. The παῤῥησία denotes here, as Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 10:19; Hebrews 10:35; not bold confession (Grot., etc.), but resolute confidence, and triumphant joyfulness of faith, corresponding to the πληροφορία τῆς ἐλπίδος mentioned Hebrews 6:11, which gives to itself a corresponding expression, even in the most unfavorable circumstances. This expression the ὁμολογία τῆς ἐλπίδος, Hebrews 10:23, is here called καύχημα, which denotes the result of the act of glorying (καύχησις), not glorying itself (Bl., etc.), and not the mere object of glorying (Lün.). The ἐλπίς denotes, in a specifically Christian sense, the hope of the perfect consummation of the Kingdom of God, and of participation therein. For this reason μέχρι τέλους refers not to the death of the individual (Schlicht., Grot., Kuin.), but to the end of the present order of things.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The connection of Christians among one another has its peculiar character, as that of a holy association, in the fact that it, as a fellowship of the children of God, who are called to the Kingdom of Heaven, received its beginning, its progress, and perfection, alone through its living connection with the historical God-Man. It is hence charged with the duty, not merely of recognizing this relation, but also of expressing it in confession and in action, and hence, in imitation of, and likeness to Christ, of appropriating to itself His fidelity, as a principle which lies at the very basis of perfection in life.
2. In their fidelity, in their respective vocations, towards God who has given to His messengers their respective historical position, appears a striking parallel between Jesus and Moses, inasmuch as the vocation of both has special reference to the establishment of the kingdom of God among men. It is by this that Moses takes precedence above all the prophets and messengers of God in the Old Covenant. But the infinite elevation of Jesus Christ is not, in this respect, in the slightest degree disparaged; but within the limits of the parallel stands forth sharply and clearly. Moses was neither priest nor king, but within the Theocracy, to whose establishment his ministry and fidelity had reference, was a servant, and so served that the true theocracy was designated by Himself as still in the future. Christ, on the contrary, is a High-Priest and for this reason, inasmuch as redemption was accomplished through His sacrifice of Himself, He announces, at the same time, a present salvation; and again, because He is Son He appears, indeed, as a messenger of God, but is, at the same time, ruler over the kingdom of God, and not one of its servants and citizens.
3. The confession of Christians has, as its specific subject, the historical God-man, and Him, as one who in His essential agency appears as, at one and the same time, the author and the herald of salvation. This confession is the original, universal, and comprehensive confession of the primitive church. It is the fundamental, Apostolical, Scriptural testimony, which, as such, is not merely to regulate subsequent developments, but also, as an expression of the living faith of the Church, has, to direct individual souls in their impulses of thought, feeling, and will, toward the person of that Saviour, who, as Son of God, possesses an incomparable elevation, an everlasting ministry, and a Divine ubiquity.
4. The actual earthly ministry of Jesus, with its beginning in time, within local relations, and under given conditions, by no means reduces Him as a historical personage, to the level of a creature. Nor is this result produced by the fact that the life of the God-man has an actual historical commencement. For although the commencement of the life, and the ministry of Jesus may, and must, on the one hand, be regarded as determined, and at a definite point of time, originated by the will and power of God, yet, on the other, we must maintain with equal emphasis the self-determining purpose and act of the Son of God by which, in time as well as in eternity, He kept Himself in undisturbed harmony with the will of His Father. For the Holy Scripture says no less that He came—Matthew 9:13; Matthew 18:11; John 16:28; John 18:37, than that He was sent, Matthew 10:40; John 20:21, and lays no less emphasis upon His offering Himself in sacrifice (John 10:17-18; Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 7:27), than upon His being delivered up for the expiation of the sins of the world (Romans 8:32; John 3:16; 1 John 4:10). Neither again has the man Jesus at any time received or acquired the Divine nature; nor has the preëxistent Son of God so “emptied Himself” in His incarnation, that a complete destitution of the essence of the Logos, even to the extent of an unconsciousness of the commencement of life, existed in the human embryo. But the uncreated Son of God received, at the incarnation, human nature into the personal unity of an actual theanthropic consciousness and life. If the carrying out of the doctrine of the communicatio idiomatum, led in fact to that conception of the κένωσις which we have just denied, which Gess. (The Doctrine of the Person of Christ, Basle, 1856) has most unqualifiedly developed, it were then high time to surrender this form of our doctrine for the sake of preserving its real substance. The inconsequence of the earlier Lutheran theologians, who denied the applicability of the intrinsically possible fourth kind of the communicatio idiomatum argues a higher mode of thinking, and is substantially more correct than the formal consistency of many recent divines; but still shows the necessity of a reconstruction of this doctrinal formula which, in the form it has hitherto held, is untenable.
5. In that the same God who brought forward Moses upon the stage of history, in like manner brought forward Jesus, any internal contradiction between the Mosaic and the Christian Theocracy is out of the question; while at the same time the fidelity of these two persons who are brought into comparison—a fidelity having reference to the theocracy in its collective character as a house of God—furnishes a pledge that in both cases the founding and arrangement of the house in question has been made in entire accordance with the Divine will. But the diversity of the two persons introduces a corresponding diversity of the Mosaic and the Christian Theocracy. And equally also from the diversity of the economies, which, as a matter of fact, comes first under our eyes, we may reason back to the diversity of the persons. And this diversity is not barely that relative diversity expressing itself in a merely negative way, which the synagogal Midrash expresses in the words (Jalkut on Isaiah 52:13): “the servant of Jehovah, the King Messiah, will be more venerable than Abraham, more exalted than Moses, higher than the angels of the service;” but it is the positive and absolute distinction between preparation and fulfilment on the one hand, and between a creaturely servant, and a son and lord equal with God, upon the other.
6. “Moses prophesied, not only by his vocation, and his fidelity in that vocation, but also by his testimony (John 5:47) to the Son, the Apostle of the final salvation. None the less did the Old Testament house of God, in which Moses had the employment of a servant, viz., the Old Testament Church, which had, as its central point, the ‘tabernacle of testimony’ (Acts 7:44; Revelation 15:5), with its typical furniture and administration, prophesy of the New Testament house of God, over which Christ is placed as Son, viz., the New Testament Church which has its central point in Christ, in whom God appeared incarnate, and in whom as antitype that tabernacling (σκήνωσις) of God among men which was prefigured in the Old Testament tabernacle (σκηνή), has thus been realized.” Del.
7. Christ is not, indeed, ashamed to call us His brethren; and He has in reality become truly man, and by circumcision has subjected Himself to the Jewish law (Galatians 4:4), and become incorporated with the Israelite people of God. But in respect to the New Testament people of God, He is not a member, but Head and Lord. He is, indeed, “the first-born among many brethren” (Romans 8:29); and, by that completed and perfected life on which our Epistle lays special stress, holds a relationship to men who, by regeneration, become children of God, and becomes a type and pattern to all who are perfected through Him. But the expression “first-born” points to His relation to those who, after the resurrection, are perfected in the Messianic kingdom (Hebrews 1:5; Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5). In His essential being, He is chief of the creation (Revelation 3:14), and πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως (Colossians 1:15). The attributes which are ascribed to the Son in the opening of our Epistle, forbid our assigning to this term, in the present section, any other signification than that He who, as Son of the Universal Founder, is elevated over the house of God, is essentially equal to Him, so that an indirect proof of the deity of Jesus Christ may be drawn from this passage.
8. While the mention of the fidelity of Jesus reminds us, indeed, of His moral perfection, and the comparison of His vocation with that of Moses, reminds us of His agency in establishing a new relation of man to God, in a new covenant and kingdom; while the mention, at the same time, of the filial nature and imperial dignity of Jesus Christ rises above and beyond the sphere of mere morality and natural religion; and the whole tenor of Scripture forbids our interpreting the language used in such a way as to favor the subordinatian and Arian heresy,—so, on the other hand, the declaration that God “made Him,” and has “founded all things,” precludes the interpretation which merges the Father in the Son, and yet lends no countenance to Monarchianism or Unitarianism.
9. “Calling” (κλῆσις) denotes not merely an invitation into the kingdom of God by means of preaching. To this conception of a “called” one (κλητός), as occurring in the parables of Jesus (Matthew 20:16; Matthew 22:14), and there without doctrinal import, but simply standing in inseparable connection with the depicting of well-known usages and customs, corresponds in our Epistle, the term εὐηγγελισμένος, Hebrews 4:2, or εὐαγγελθείς (Hebrews 4:6). The κλητός, on the contrary, is, precisely as with Paul, one in whom the gracious call has been made effectual. He is one destined for the Messianic salvation (Hebrews 1:14), for the eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15), which is the substance of the ἐπαγγελία, Hebrews 6:17, has His citizenship in heaven, Hebrews 12:23, and has been given by the Father to the Son, Hebrews 2:13, and by a Divine act, in which the eternal purpose of grace realizes itself in time in the case of individuals, has become, by means of the preached Word, an actual member of the Church which is destined to eternal salvation. But since the Word of God works, not magically, but spiritually, and, as a condition of its saving efficacy, requires repentance and faith (as unfolded in the passage immediately following), steadfastness in a gracious state and the attainment of perfection, are secured by our imitation of the fidelity of Jesus Christ.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The duty of fidelity 1. in its ground and reason in our relation to God; 2. in its extent in the calling assigned to us; 3. in its patterns in the servant and in the Son of God; 4. in its blessings, in securing to us the joys of salvation; 5. in its cultivation within and by means of the Church.—Moses and Christ 1. in their resemblance, a. as sent of God; b. of unimpeached fidelity; c. in the aggregate nature of their vocation, as having reference to the establishment of the kingdom of God; 2. in their diversity, a. in position and office; b. in their nature and history; c. in their influence and the honor conferred upon them.—We are the house of God; 1. in what sense? 2. under what conditions? 3. with what obligations?—What in the confession of our faith have we principally to regard? That it be 1. true in its substance; 2. clear in its expression; 3. sure in its living power; 4. correct in its grounds; 5. adapted to its ultimate end.—If the hope of our calling is to be fulfilled in us, then 1. our calling must become effectual in us, a. in its heavenly character, b. under a gracious Divine influence, c. within the sphere of the Christian brotherhood; and 2. our hope must express, a. in its confidence, faith, b. in its glorying, a living power, c. in its steadfastness, the fidelity of the servants and children of God.—Even those who are placed highest among us should not cease to be 1. servants of the true God; 2. members of the house of God; 3. imitators of the Son of God.—Also the humblest among us must not forget 1. that God has founded and established all things, and 2. that they are partakers of a heavenly calling.—The beginning in Christianity is harder than the beginning in any earthly work; yet the beginning in Christianity is easier than steadfast perseverance to the end.—Complain not of God if thou hast no hope of salvation, but murmur 1. against thine unbelief in the heavenly calling: 2. against thine unfaithfulness in the service committed to thee; 3. against thy negligence in using the gracious means of salvation.—The blessings of Christian church-fellowship and life, correspond in the Divine arrangements 1. to the tasks which we have to fulfil; 2. to the dangers which threaten us; 3. to our essential needs.—The confession, whose obligation rests upon us, urges us 1. to a joyful faith which we are unanimously to profess; 2. to a holy love which we are fraternally to exercise; 3. to a blessed hope which we are faithfully to maintain unto the end.—We are called 1. by a heavenly calling; 2. into a holy fellowship; 3. to the inheritance of the Son of God.
Berlenburger Bible:—Stability of doctrine takes the lead; to this, therefore, stability on our part must be added, not from our own powers, but from grace. We must look to it that we do not fall from our own steadfastness (2 Peter 3:17). In this we should place the glory of our religion.
Starke:—That which was required to be said, and actually is said of the ways of God, demands to be heard, and received with faith. Blessed, therefore, are ye who hear and keep the word of God (Luke 11:29).—What avails it to have begun in the spirit and to end in the flesh? The end crowns the work.—It is a great dignity of believers that they are, and are called the house of God. Angels are called, indeed, thrones (Colossians 1:16), but never the house of God; but believers are so named, alike on account of the essential, and on account of the gracious presence of God, by which He dwells in them. This house, Jesus Christ as the true light, illuminates by virtue of His prophetic office; He sanctifies it by virtue of His high-priestly office, whence it is called (1 Peter 2:5) a spiritual house; He maintains and protects it by virtue of His kingly office. But as He dwells in this house so is He also its foundation upon which it is built (1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:6).
Laurentius:—Believers may take courage; they are the house and temple of God.—In faith firmness is requisite.
Von Bogatzky:—But believers, even the most dull-eyed, see that they cannot too much trust in our God, and cannot so much hope in Him that they do not always need to arouse themselves still more, to this confidence and this hope. For there are always many things which would fain take from us confidence, faith, and hope; therefore should we hold all fast, and in such trust and such hope, not allow even our short-comings to render us weak and unstable.
Steinhofer:—Faith and the confession of faith before God and men, are the two things demanded of a Christian in the Gospel of the new covenant (Romans 10:4).—By faith we come, really to a blessed enjoyment of grace, and to an essential communion with the Father and with the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ; and by the confession of this faith, we come, at the same time, into the joint partnership of those who have received the like precious faith, and have Jesus as their Lord and Head.—From all that transpires in the house of God we may discover that the eternal Son, whom the whole creation has got to recognize as its Creator and Lord, is in especial the God and Lord of sinners.—O Thou who art faithfulness, make us faithful to Thee!
Hahn:—He who has directed his look toward Christ will have ample encouragement to fidelity, and will all the more look to it that it be not found wanting in him.—The faithfulness of all the servants of Christ is but a weak and shadowy image of the faithfulness of Christ our Lord.
Rieger:—As an apostle, Jesus has brought to us the testimony of God, as High-Priest; He manages our cause with God; and faith recognizes Him, or accepts Him for that for which He has been made unto us of God. Confidence, and the glorying of hope, are the bands by which this house, this divine race, are united with its head, and the call to one faith, and to one hope of their calling, unites also among one another these members of the household, provided only they hold fast to their profession.—Stier:—That house of God, wherein Moses is called faithful, was only the forecourt and the beginning of the structure which only appears entirely completed in Christ.—Fricke:—With the coming of Christ the house of God appears completed; all is ready; we need only to enter in; but if we enter in, we shall be ourselves (1 Peter 2:5) living stones in this house.
[Owen:—That men be brethren, properly and strictly, it is required that they have one father, be of one family, and be equally interested in the privileges and advantages thereof. The saint’s calling is heavenly, 1. from the fountain and principal cause of it; 2. in respect of the means whereby it is wrought, which are spiritual and heavenly (the word and the Spirit, both from above); 3. of the end, which is to heaven and heavenly things, wherein lies the hope of our calling. All true and real professors of the Gospel are sanctified by the Holy Ghost, and made truly and really holy.—No man comes into a useful, saving knowledge of Jesus Christ in the Gospel, but by virtue of an effectual, heavenly calling.—The spiritual mysteries of the Gospel, especially those which concern the person and offices of Christ, require deep, diligent and attentive consideration.—Solomon’s merchants would not have gone to Ophir had there not been gold there as well as apes and peacocks.—The business of God with sinners could be no way transacted but by the negotiation and embassy of the Son. It was necessary that God’s Apostle unto sinners should, in the whole discharge of His office, be furnished with a full comprehension of the whole mind of God, as to the affair committed to Him. Now, this never any was, nor ever can be capable of, but only Jesus Christ, the Son of God.—Truths to be believed are like believers themselves; all their life, power, and order consist in their relation unto Christ; separated from Him they are dead and useless.—The builders of the New Testament church are servants; (1) they act by virtue of commission, from Him who is the only Lord and ruler of it: (2) it is required of them as servants, to observe and obey the commands of their Lord; (3) as servants they are accountable; (4) as servants they shall have their reward.—It is an eminent privilege to be the house of Christ, or a part of it; “Whose house are we.”—Although these “living stones” are continually removed, some from the lower rooms in this house in grace to the higher stories in glory, yet not one atone of it is, or shall be lost for ever.—Interest in the Gospel gives sufficient cause of confidence and rejoicing in every condition.].
Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 3:1.—The simple Ἰησοῦν has in its favor the usage of the Epistle, and the authority of A. B. C.* D.* xvii. 34. [So Alf., Lün., etc.].
Hebrews 3:2; Hebrews 3:2.—The ὅλῳ is sustained by the authority of Sin. A. C. D. E. K. L. M., and by the fact of its being found in the passage (Numbers 12:7), which is virtually cited by the author.
Hebrews 3:4; Hebrews 3:4.—Instead of τὰ πάντα we should read barely πάντα after Sin. A. B. C.* D.* E.* K. M., 17, 53.
Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 3:6.—Μέχρι τέλους βεβαίαν is, since Mill, regarded by some as a gloss transferred from Hebrews 3:14, and is harsh, though not without classical analogies. [It is harsh as to gender, overleaping καύχημα, and going back to the preceding παῤῥησίαν, or possibly determined by ἐλπίδος. A more serious objection is the repetition of so marked a phrase in two passages so near each other (Hebrews 10:6; Hebrews 10:14), which, as Del. well observes, is singular in so careful and practised a writer. Hence Del., with Tisch., expunges it; Bleek, De Wette, Thol., Lün., retain it.—K.]. It is sustained by Sin. A. C. D. E. K. L. M.
[Regarding the fidelity of Moses Owen speaks thus: “Moses was faithful. It is true he failed personally in his faith, and was charged of God in that he believed Him not (Numbers 20:12); but this was in respect of his own faith in one particular, and is no impeachment of his faithfulness in the special office intended. As he was the Apostle, the ambassador of God, to reveal His mind, and institute His worship, he was universally faithful: for he declared and did all things according to His will and appointment, by the testimony of God Himself, Exodus 40:16, ‘According to all that the Lord commanded him so did he.’ He withheld nothing of what God revealed or commanded, nor did he add any thing thereunto; and herein did his faithfulness consist”].
The threatening of the Old Testament, that unbelievers shall not enter into the rest of God, is all the more to be taken to heart by the New Testament people of God
7 Wherefore, as the Holy Spirit saith: To-day if ye will [om. will] hear his voice, 8harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness, 9 when [where οὗ] your fathers tempted me, proved me [by proving],6 and saw my works [during] forty years. 10Wherefore I was grieved [was angry] with that [this]7 generation, and said, They do always err [go astray] in their heart; and they have not known [but they did not know] my ways. 11So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest. 12Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart13 of unbelief, in departing [falling away, ᾶποστῆναι] from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To-day; lest any of you8 be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14For we are made [have become] partakers of Christ, if [provided that, ἐάν περ] we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; 15while it is said, To-day if ye will hear [if ye hear] his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. 16For some, when they had heard, did provoke, [for who, when they heard, provoked him?]: howbeit not all [nay, did not all they?] that came 17 out of Egypt by Moses [?]. But [And] with whom was he grieved [angry during] forty years? was it not with them that had sinned [?], whose carcases fell in the wilderness? 18 [!] And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to 19 them that believed not [disobeyed, ἀπειθήσασιν]? So [And] we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
[Hebrews 3:7.—ὡς, as, καθώς, according as—ἐὰν , not, “if ye will hear,” but, “if ye hear,” or “shall have heard,” See Del., De W., Moll. Still the precise import of the Hebrew original of the Psalm is doubtful, and it is possible that the Septuagint may intend its ἐὰν as having an optative force—would that! Yet we do not seem authorized in our Epistle to depart from the natural rendering of the words.
Hebrews 3:9.—οὗ, where, not when, as Eng. ver.—ἑν δοκιμασία, in proving, instead of ἐδοκίμασαν.
Hebrews 3:10.—αύτοὶ δὲ οὐκ έγνωσαν αὐτοί, emphatic; “but they did not know,” etc., to be coördinated apparently not with πλανῶνται, but with εἶπον and δέ, adversative. So De W., Del., Moll.
Hebrews 3:11.—ὡς ὥμοσα, Eng. ver., so I swore as if ὡς οὕτως. Moll, so that=ὥστε; so De Wette, Del. Bib. Union, literally, as.
Hebrews 3:14.—γεγόναμεν, we have become, not are made, ἐάνπερ, precisely if=provided that: stronger than ἐάν, if.
Hebrews 3:16.—τίνες γάρ, for who? all modern scholars read τίνες, who? instead of the ancient τινές, some, indefinite, which is nearly unmeaning.
Hebrews 3:17.—ὧν τὰ κῶλα—ἐρήμῳ. Moll rightly follows Del. in making this not a question, but a statement descriptive of the effects of the wrath. So Bib. Un.
Hebrews 3:18.—Καί, Eng. ver., so, without reason. It is not an inference, but the statement of an actual fact. De Wette, Del., Moll, Bib. Union rightly and.—K.].
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Hebrews 3:7. Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, etc.—The exhortation to take warning from the example of their ancestors against apostasy is introduced by διό, as an inference from the preceding statements, and is to be conceived as corresponding (καθώς) to the address of the Holy Spirit; Διό, however, is neither to be immediately connected with σκληρύνετε, (Schlicht., Ebr., Del., etc.), thus producing a blending of the principal with the subordinate sentence; inasmuch as God, in the citation, Hebrews 3:7-11, is speaking in the first person; nor with βλέπετε, Hebrews 3:12 (Erasm., Calv., Este, Grot., Bl., Lün., Bisping, etc.), for this stands too remote. Nor again is the hortatory addition to be supplied (Thol., De W.); but the abrupt breaking off of the construction in the main sentence is characteristic. It gives to the reader a moment’s interval of repose, and yet, at the same time, summons him to reflection, and to a right application of the passage. With new emphasis, and starting, as it were, afresh, the exhortation is subsequently given by the author himself in Hebrews 3:12.
Hebrews 3:8. To-day, if ye hear his voice, harden not your hearts.—As the Sept. often translates the Hebrew particle of desire by ἐάν, it is possible that it has so taken the words here according to the common understanding of the Hebrew text, in which אִם stands first for the sake of emphasis: “Would that to-day ye might hearken to His voice!” It is possible, however, that אִם in Heb. here simply introduces a hypothetical condition [so Delitzsch]. The citation is from Psalms 95:7; Psalms 95:11, which, by the sudden introduction of the speech of Jehovah, belongs to the class of those that bear a prophetic character. The author is thus entirely warranted in not restricting the “to-day” to the actual ‘present’ of the Psalmist (left in Heb. unnamed—in the Sept. mentioned as David); and in regarding the address itself as that of the Holy Spirit, while, at the same time, the Holy Scripture is regarded in all its parts as θεόπνευστος (2 Timothy 3:16). Del. communicates the following remarkable Messianic Haggada from bab. Sanhedrin, 98 a.: “R. Joshua Ben Levi once found Elijah (the Tishbite) standing at the entrance of the cave of R. Simeons Ben Jochei. He asked him: ‘Do I come into the future world?’ Elijah answered: If the Lord (אדוך, name of the Shechina that was invisibly present with Elijah) wills it. R. Joshua stated that he saw indeed but two (himself and Elijah), but he heard the voices of three. He asked him further: When comes the Messiah? Elijah: Go and ask Him in person. Joshua: And where? Elijah: He is sitting at the gate of Rome. Joshua: And how may He be recognized? Elijah: He is sitting among poor persons laden with diseases; and while others unbind their wounds at the same time, and then bind them up, He unbinds and then again binds up one wound after another, for He thinks: Perchance I am about to be summoned (called to make my public appearance); and I do this that I may not then be detained! (as would be the case if He unbound all wounds at the same time). Then came Joshua to Him, and He cried: Peace unto thee, son of Levi! Joshua: When comest Thou, Lord? He: To-day. On returning to Elijah, Joshua was asked by him: What said He to thee? Joshua: Peace unto thee, son of Levi. Elijah: In this He has given to thee and to thy father a prospect of the future world. Joshua: But He has deceived me in that He said to me that He comes to-day. Elijah: His meaning in that was this—To-day, if ye hear His voice.”
Hebrews 3:8. As in the provocation in the wilderness.—The Heb. reads: As at Meribah (Numbers 20:0), as at the day of Massa, in the wilderness (Exodus 17:0). Our author takes these proper names etymologically, as appellatives, and the words κατὰ τὴν ἡμέραν τοῦ πειρασμοῦ as added to define the time of the ἐν τῷ παραπικρασμῷ. The κατά is a particle of time, the same as at Hebrews 9:9, as in the Hellenistic, and is not to be turned into a term of comparison=ὡς. Otto considers that here also Numbers 14:0 is alone referred to.
Hebrews 3:9. Where your fathers—during forty years.—The last mentioned temptation took place in the first year of the Exodus; the first mentioned in the fortieth. But the hardness of the people always remained the same, to which Moses refers, Deuteronomy 33:8. The οὗ is a particle of place corresponding to אֲשֶׁר, and not, by attraction to πειρασμοῦ, Gen. for ῳ, with which (Erasm., Schmid, Beng., Peirce). The forty years in the wilderness are in the synagogue also regarded as typical. R. Elieser says: “The days of the Messiah are forty years, as it is said, Psalms 95:0.” (Sanh., fol. 99, 1). And to the question: How long continue the years of the Messiah? R. Akiba answered: “Forty years, corresponding to the sojourning of the Israelites in the desert” (Tanchuma, fol. 79, 4). The admonition of our Epistle must, therefore, have made a powerful impression, if this number of years since the ministry of Christ had, when this Epistle was composed, nearly elapsed. That the author has in mind this typical relation, is clear from the fact that the ‘forty years,’ which in the Heb. belong to the following clause—a construction which he himself recognizes at Hebrews 3:17—he here carries back to the preceding, and shows that he intends this construction by introducing between the dissevered parts the particle διό (so Intpp. generally since Calov).
Hebrews 3:10. Wherefore I was angry with this generation.—The Hellenistic προσοχθίζειν from ὀχθή, steep, high bank, or cliff, implies violent, tempestuous excitement, which one either occasions or experiences. Usually it has the latter sense, denoting the feeling of violent displeasure awakened by opposition. The ἀεί belongs not to εἶπον (Erasm.), but to πλανῶνται. A secondary idea of contempt can hardly belong to γενεά (Heinr., Steng.), though very possibly toταύτῃ(Lün.); but it is impossible that, by the latter pronoun (ταύτῃ), instead of ἐκείνῃ, the author could have intended in this connection an incidental reference to his readers (Böhm., Bl., De W.). In this passage also the author follows the Alex. Cod. of the Sept. in reading αὐτοὶ δέ, while the Vat. Cod. follows the Heb. in reading καὶ αὐτοί.
Hebrews 3:11. As I sware in my wrath that they shall not enter into my rest.—Possibly ὡς should be taken as=as, but it may also, corresponding to the Heb. אַשֶׁר (Ewald, § 337, a.), denote result=ὥστε, so that. It then, indeed, usually takes the Infin., or the Opt. with ἄν, though sometimes also the Indic. (Win., p. 410) [Ὥστε, so that, as easily takes the Ind. as the Opt.—K.]. The εἰ in the clause containing the substance of the oath, is in imitation of the Heb. אִם. The formula has sprung from the suppression of the apodosis, and negatives the thought, while אִם לֹאֹ affirms it. The κατάπαυσις refers originally to the rest of the Promised Land, Deuteronomy 12:9-10. But the idea of the “rest of God,” proceeding from this starting point, acquired a wider scope and a deeper significance.
Hebrews 3:12. Take heed that there be not—living God.—Μή, after words of seeing, in the Fut. Indic., expresses not only a warning, but, with it, anxiety in regard to a failure to give heed Hart., Part. II., 140). The enclitic ποτέ means, not ever, at any time (Beza, Eng. Ver., etc.), but perchance, and the ἔν τινι ὑμῶν individualizes the admonition, so as to bring it home to each person in conscientious self-examination. The Gen. ἀπιστίας indicates the relation of quality; the evil heart, then, is not to be regarded as the cause or ground (Bl., etc.), nor as the consequence of unbelief (De W., etc.). Nor, again, is ἀπιστία either faithlessness or disobedience (Schultz). The latter is the consequence of unbelief, Hebrews 3:18; Hebrews 4:6; Hebrews 4:11, which appears here as exhibiting its internal essence in apostasy from God. We are not by θεός to understand Christ (Gerh., Dorsch, Calov, Sebast. Schmidt, Schöttg., Carpz.), although the warning refers to the lapse from Christianity to Judaism. And God is here called ζῶν, living, not in contrast with dead works of law, Hebrews 6:1; Hebrews 9:14 (Bl.), and not in contrast with dead idols, as Acts 14:15; 2Co 6:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:9 (Böhme), but as He who works with living efficiency, Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 12:22; who executes His threats, Hebrews 10:31; but chiefly who has appointed Christ as He did Moses, and thus accomplished the fulfilment of His promises. This latter point is overlooked by most interpreters, but is involved directly both in the fundamental conception of our Epistle, and in the immediate connection of the passage.
Hebrews 3:13. But exhort one another daily—sins.—With the warning stands connected a summons to παράκλησις, i.e., to language at once of consolation and of admonition, with which the hearers are to render daily aid to one another, so long as this period of gracious waiting shall continue. In classical, as well as in New Testament use (Colossians 3:16) ἑαυτούς, is frequently=ἀλλήλους. Individual self-exhortation cannot be expressed by παρακαλεῖτε ἑαυτούς, which would rather demand παρακαλείτω ἕκαστος ἑαυτόν. Τὸ σήμερον (to-day with the def. art.) cannot denote the life-time of individuals (Theodoret, Theoph., Primas., Erasm., Este, Dorsch, etc.), but must be identical with the day of the Psalm, and thus with the interval of grace extending to the second coming of the Messiah. We might also, in this sense, translate καλεῖται, is named, (Vulg., Est., Bl., Lün., etc.), but inasmuch as this is liable to the misconception: So long as we can yet speak of ‘to-day,’ the rendering is called=so long as the ‘to-day’ of the Psalm sounds in our ears (Calv., Thol., Böhm., Del., etc.), would seem to deserve the preference. The Aor. Pass. σκληρυνθῇ is not to be softened down; it contains a reminder of the divine judicial hardening of those who abuse the means of grace through the deceitfulness of sin. For this reason ἐξ ὑμῶν is designedly placed before τὶς, not as contrasting them with their fathers in the wilderness (Böhme, Bl.), which would almost necessarily require a καί, also, but to designate with emphasis the readers as those who are highly favored (Del.). Apostasy from Christianity is here designated as “sin,” absolutely; for the essence of sin is apostasy from God; but Christ is the Son of God, and has brought to its accomplishment the will of God on earth. The deceit, therefore, which now works upon the heart, is worse than the earlier, Genesis 3:13.
Hebrews 3:14. For we have become joint partakers with Christ if we hold fast, etc.—As in the former chapter the author now again enforces the preceding exhortation by the greatness of the salvation which has been bestowed on us. The term γεγόναμεν, have become, reminds us that we do not possess this salvation by nature, and that consequently without the observance of the requisite condition, we are liable to have it withdrawn from us. This condition, again, introduced by the particle [not of mere condition εἰ with opt., but] of doubt, ἐάν, if, ἐάνπερ, precisely if, provided that (with Subj.) is presented not simply and objectively, as a mere condition, but as of questionable fulfilment, and hence enforces the need of self-examination, of watchfulness, and of fidelity. And for this reason μέτοχοι τοῦ χριστοῦ cannot mean participants of Christ, i.e., having part in His person; but only participants along with Christ, associates of, or joint partakers with Christ in the possessions and blessings of the kingdom of God. Riehm, overlooking this requirement of the context, prefers, with more recent scholars, the rendering participes, sharers in, instead of associates, or sharers with, as the more comprehensive and significant. He is right, indeed, as to the matter of fact, where he says (II. 719): “Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant, enters into such intimate personal fellowship with the believer, that it can be said of the latter that he possesses Christ; and along with Christ Himself all that Christ has obtained has also become his own; as one who has part in Christ, he has also part with Christ in the heavenly glory and blessedness.” But the context demands the limitation above given. The term must imply partners or associates of Christ, yet without its being referred back, as by Schultz, to the term “brethren” of Christ (Hebrews 2:11); and the term μέτοχοι being narrowed down to ἀδελφοί. By ἀρχὴν τῆς ὑπστάσεως Erasm., Schultz, Stein, etc., understand the settled elementary principles or foundations of the Christian religion. Luther renders it “the commenced or inaugurated essence”—angefangene Wesen (as translation of substantia). Vatablus, Este, Bisping make it a periphrasis for faith, in so far as faith produces our subsistence in the spiritual life, or originates the subsistence of Christ within us. Instead of either of these meanings, the context points us to a meaning of ὑπόστασις familiar to the later Greek, viz., firm confidence, as the only one which meets its exigencies. For ὑπόστασις stands here in the same connection as ἐλπίς, hope, Hebrews 3:6, and in fact denotes this hope in its relation as daughter of faith, and by virtue of its relationship remaining amidst all assaults steadfastly and confidently directed toward the goal. As such it needs perpetual fostering and culture, in order that that beginning of the Christian career, which is wont to be characterized by joyfulness, energy and strength (1 Timothy 5:12; Revelation 2:4), and which, in the case of the readers, has been so characterized (Hebrews 6:10; Hebrews 10:32; Hebrews 13:7), may have a corresponding end. The ἀρχὴ τῆς ὑποστάσεως is, therefore, a beginning, not in the sense of imperfection and weakness, which led Ebrard to find in the readers a set of catechumens and neophytes, but the opening or inauguration of the Church life in its full vitality and power (Camero, Grot., Böhme, Thol., etc.).
Hebrews 3:15. In its being said to-day if ye hear—harden not, etc.—The author resumes the citation, yet not for the purpose of expressing an admonition, thus making the citation proper extend only to “to-day” (v. Gerl.), or to “hear His voice” (Capell., Carpz., etc.), and the author resume his exhortation at “harden not,” etc., in the applied words of the Psalm, as the answering clause to ἐν τῷ λέγ. For this formula of introduction makes it necessary to take the following words as an entire citation. Nor may we again (with Beng., Michael., etc.), enclose Hebrews 3:14 in parenthesis. and connect ἐν τῷ λέγ. immediately with the requisition (παρακαλεῖτε, etc.), Hebrews 3:13; for the verse thus forms not merely an unnecessary and halting appendage, but unnaturally and absurdly summons the readers to mutual admonition by the previous utterance of the words of the Psalm. Nor may we (with Chrys., Grot., etc.), take Hebrews 3:16-19 parenthetically, and connect ἐν τῷ λέγ., with Hebrews 4:1; a construction forbidden alike by the subsequent course of thought, and the connecting particle οὖν. Nor may we attach Hebrews 3:15 directly to Hebrews 3:14; thus either assigning the mode of procedure by which steadfastness of faith is to be maintained (Vulg., Luth., Calv.), or the reason and necessity of maintaining it in order that we may be partakers with Christ (Ebr.). For ἐν τῷ λέγ. is not=διὸ γέγει, or οὕτως γὰρ εἴρηκεν. Better, therefore, to take the words in question as protasis, or conditioning clause to Hebrews 3:16, which latter verse is then to be taken as interrogative with an interposed γάρ=for, why, (according to genuine Greek usage) to which also the ἀλλά corresponds (Seml., and most recent interpreters). [This last construction is undoubtedly possible; and I believe it preferable to either of the others, except that which would connect it with Hebrews 4:1, as held by Chrys., Grotius and others. In this case, however, it is not a case of proper parenthesis, so that Hebrews 4:1 would stand in regular construction with Hebrews 3:15. Rather as the author was about to proceed to the train of thought, Hebrews 4:1, he was led, especially by the language of the quotation itself, to restate sharply and distinctly what had been previously but implied and hinted at, the actual crime and the actual punishment of the ancient Israelites, from which so weighty admonitions were drawn. He, therefore, abruptly breaks off in the middle of his sentence, to introduce in a series of sharp interrogations and, statements these ideas: which being accomplished, he returns,—with a natural change of construction, occasioned by the long interposed passage,—to the idea which at Hebrews 3:15, he had started to develope. This obviates entirely the objection drawn from the particle οὖν, Hebrews 4:1, and the otherwise anacoluthic character of the construction, and is, in my judgment, the only solution of the problem of Hebrews 3:15, that is not attended by nearly insuperable difficulties. The construction, therefore, which I prefer, is decidedly that of Chrys., in a somewhat modified form.—K.]. Of course τίνες must then be taken interrogatively; and the author’s purpose is either to repel the idea, that perhaps there were only a portion who were guilty of the provocation, to wit, the people who were at the time at Meribah and Massa (Böhme, Ebr.); in which case the author would reply that all Israel failed to enter into the Promised Land, for the reason that the whole people were guilty of the sin of unbelief and apostasy; or he designs to emphasize the fact that it was precisely Israel, the highly favored people, that had been conducted forth from Egypt to become God’s special possession, in whom all this had taken place (Del.). I see no reason for separating the two ideas. For while ἀκούσαντες points to the prerogative, which they enjoyed who heard the word of God, and the attendant obligation to obedience, the next and following interrogative sentence, ἀλλ’ οὐ πάντες, brings into closest connection (in πάντες) the universality of the sin, and in ἐξελθόντες, the preceding gracious experience and privilege: [while διὰ Μουσέως suggests here the same contrast between Moses, and his relation to the ancient Theocracy and Christ, as δι’ ἀγγέλων, Hebrews 1:2, between the angels and Christ.—K.].
Bisping remarks: “yet perchance not all?” but erroneously. For οὐ in interrogations=nonne, has always an affirmative force (Kühner, II., 579; Hart., Part., II., 88). The exceptional cases of Joshua, Caleb and those of tender age, are not of a nature to detract from the truth thus broadly stated, and to require that τίνες be taken, as it generally was before Bengel, indefinitely (τινές, some, instead of τίνες, who?) thus giving the rendering (Erasm., Luth., Eng. ver., etc.), “for some, when they heard committed provocation, but not all those who came out of Egypt by Moses.” How could the 600,000 whom Moses brought out of Egypt, be called τινές? The rendering of Bengel, Schultz, Kuinoel; “Nay, only they who,” etc. “It was merely they who,” [as if denying an assertion that certain men indeed provoked God, but it was not those who came out of Egypt, etc., to which the author replies, “Nay, they were all those=they were none but those] would require the article οἱ before πάντες, in order to give clearly a predicative character to οἱ ἐξελθόντες. [But this οἱ would scarcely mend the matter, and Bengel’s construction would then be little less harsh than it is now].
Hebrews 3:17. With whom was he angry—wilderness.—Most recent interpreters put the second interrogative mark, or still a third one, at the close of the period, after “wilderness,” to avoid the heavy and dragging effect of the last clause—if without an interrogation. But this construction overlooks the parallelism with Hebrews 3:18-19, which, in like manner, distribute themselves into three members. For the last clause of these latter verses is not a mere continuation of the facts previously stated; but it points to the fulfilment of the Divine oath, lying before our eyes, in the exclusion of the people from Canaan through unbelief. So also in Hebrews 3:17 the last clause, “whose carcasses,” points to the manifestation of the Divine wrath, in the fact that those who had fallen away from God, dying, as it were, gradually, during their bodily life, became walking corpses (Del.). Grotius says rightly ex historia cognoscimus, while Seb. Schmidt, followed by Bl., with most later interpreters, maintains; βλέπομεν, non de lectione aut cognitione historiæ, sed de convictione animi e disputatione, seu doctrina præmissa. [That is, Seb. Schmidt, Bl., etc., followed by Alford, regard Hebrews 3:19, “And we see that they could not,”etc., as an inference, the result of a chain of reasoning, of which, however, it is very difficult to trace any previous links; while Del. and Moll, following Grotius, make it the result stated as well known and clearly seen in the pages of the historical record, and thus brought up as a historical fact to enforce the positions of the author, and so the clause, “whose carcasses fell in the wilderness,” stands related to what precedes. It is the author’s statement, in Scripture language, of the results of the wrath of God.—K.]. The history of Israel is typical, and to this and to the state of things which follows from it, the author is referring (as shown immediately by the commencement of the following chapter), not drawing conclusions from previous premises.—Κῶλα, members, particularly hands and feet, is the term by which the LXX. render the Heb. פְּגָרִים in the sense of bodies or corpses.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. “Our being kept unto salvation, springs from the promised and vouchsafed power of God, yet only through faith, which does not waver or draw back (Hebrews 10:38-39; 1 Peter 1:5): and thus the Apostle has in these words expressed in the most definite manner the theme of his exhortation. In his purpose to carry it out still further, he again lays hold, with the skilful hand of a master, upon the word of the early Scriptures, and says what he has to say to the brethren, the partakers of the heavenly calling, in the words of the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of David. For the Epistle to the Hebrews is in so far analogous to the Revelation of John, as it brings into close union the two Testaments, and sets forth the profoundest and ultimate elements of New Testament truths, as a proper fulfilment of the types and preparatory institutions of the Old Testament, as the innermost sense and spirit of the ancient word, which was written beforehand wholly for the fulness of times” (Stier).
2. With the doctrine of predestination in all its forms, this section stands in decided antagonism; for the author speaks indeed of a hardening, which has for its result, the non-attainment of the promised rest; and in like manner of a Divine will and work which are herein accomplished. But this is by no means referred to any original wrath of God, or to His eternal counsel. Rather it is the deceitfulness of sin, by which the obduracy is produced, and against this is directed an earnest warning. The wrath of God appears as the holy fire of righteous indignation upon those who, in consequence of their evil heart of unbelief, have fallen away from the living God, and have provoked and tempted Him, before that He could prove Himself unfaithful, and fail of His own word. And it is unbelief that is emphatically declared to have been the cause of the hardening of the heart, and, as united with disobedience, to have been the ground of the destruction of those who fell in the wilderness. But that unbelief itself is not purposed or produced of God, and that the capacity to believe in the preached word is not refused by God to individual men, or taken from them previously to their own self-determination, is clear from the earnestness of the exhortation that each one should, during the gracious season of his pilgrimage, give heed to the preached word, and not allow himself to be hardened against it, but rather, by the influence of mutual admonitions within the Church, should incite himself to lay to heart the history of the Israelites, and to an unwavering maintenance of the confidence of faith. [That nothing is said here of the doctrine of predestination, proves nothing more against it than is proved by every passage of warning or exhortation in the New Testament. Few Calvinists believe that the doctrine of predestination is incompatible with the free agency and consequent accountability of man.—K.].
3. The hardening of the heart has its gradations of carnal security, which comforts itself with the outward possession of the means of grace, and from natural indifference and insensibility to the word, proceeds on through unbelieving disparagement, faithless neglect, and reckless transgression of the word, to rejection, contempt, and denial of it, and thence to a permanent embittering of the wicked heart; to a conscious stubbornness of the wicked will; to the bold tempting of the living God Himself, until, in complete obduracy, judicial retribution begins the fulfilment of its terrible work.
4. Unbelief is, in its inmost essence, faithlessness and apostasy, and hence always manifests itself as disobedience and corruption. In outward corruption the Divine judgment brings the inward depravity, the πονηρία, to light, and, at the same time, to its due reward. For God, in contrast with the faithless and apostate, remains true to Himself and His word, and as the living God carries His judgment through all resistance of the world and the devil, to victory; bringing His threats, as well as His promises, to gradual, but sure and unchecked accomplishment.
5. It is God’s, will indeed that all men be saved, and this will is potent and mighty; yet as a gracious will, it exercises no compulsion, while, as the will of the living God, it renders possible the fulfilment of the indispensable conditions of salvation; and, as the will of the Holy God, works not magically, but by the ordinary means of grace. The decision of our destiny is thus entrusted to our own will, since God has in a reliable way made known to us our destination to salvation, and provided and proffered the sure means for its attainment.
6. The duty of self-examination, and of the conscientious use of the means of grace, we must never lose sight of; since we have not as yet entered into rest, but are merely on the way to the goal. If our gracious fellowship with Christ is completely to triumph over our natural fellowship with our fathers, it must be nurtured and promoted in the way that God has ordained. Otherwise the end will not correspond with the beginning. For previous obedience excuses not subsequent apostasy, and a faith that has been abandoned does not justify at the Divine tribunal.
7. Since the gracious will of God aims at the salvation of men; while with some His judgments only produce obduracy, as the punishment of unbelief, and in consequence of this, exclusion from salvation; and since to every individual a period of grace is allotted whose limit is unknown, we must suppose that grace has, up to this point, applied in sufficient measure all its means, ways, and resources, and that God, by virtue of His omniscience, has determined this point of time in which the work of grace ceases. But with obdurate hardness, sin passes over into a permanent condition.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Our life is a pilgrimage, if: 1, our goal is entrance into the rest of God; 2, our companions the people of God; 3, our Leader the Spirit of God; 4, our rule the word of God; 5, our Helper the Son of God.—Believers have chiefly to guard themselves: 1, against false security in faith; 2, against arrogance and boasting of faith; 3, against wanderings and backsliding from faith.—How exceedingly important that the season of grace be not neglected: 1, we know not the moment at which our gracious reprieve is ended; 2, they who neglect, incur the sure wrath of God; 3, they who walk under the wrath of God do not come into the land of promise.—We must hearken to the voice of the Holy Spirit as it speaks to us: 1, in the Holy Scripture; 2, in our own conscience; 3, from the mouth of converted brethren.—He who does to-day what God demands, has best cared for to-morrow; and he who does this daily, in the to-day gains eternity.—In self-examination we have particularly to take heed to our heart: 1, whether it is an erring heart, or one steadfast in the faith; 2, whether it is an evil heart, or one converted to God; 3, whether it is a presumptuous heart, or one that is led in the discipline of the Holy Spirit.—Why deception through sin is the most dangerous: 1, because it most frequently occurs, and is most rarely corrected; 2, because it is most easily accomplished, and brings the heaviest losses—To sin all times and ways are alike, but grace has its ordained means, and its limited times; therefore be warned aright, and then in turn warn others.—How can any one be lost in the possession of the means of grace? 1, if he does not use the means of grace which are proffered to him; 2, if his use of the means of grace is in truth an abuse; 3, if he does not perseveringly continue the right use of the means of grace unto the end.—Let us practice the duty of mutual watching and exhortation: 1, on the basis of the word of God; 2, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit; 3, as members of the people of God in a common lowliness; 4, from the hearty compassion of genuine brotherly love; 5, for mutual furtherance in faith and obedience toward the Lord our God.
Starke:—Let every one see to it that he rightly avail himself of to-day, i.e., of the present time; for this alone is ours, since the past is already gone, and the future is still uncertain. Besides, if the present is properly employed, it brings with it a blessing for the future (Galatians 6:10; Isaiah 55:6).—The examples of the wicked stand in the Holy Scripture for our improvement (1 Corinthians 10:6). There is no better means to be employed against obduracy of heart, than that by frequent self-examination and befitting fidelity, we learn to obey the convictions that have been wrought within us; for thus conscience maintains its tender sensibility, and is preserved from all hardening, 2 Corinthians 13:5.—The more proofs and testimonies men have of the guidance and care of God, the heavier becomes the sin, if they will still neither believe nor hope, Matthew 23:37-38.—God has come to the aid of human weakness, and uttered in His word many a declaration with the virtual confirmation of an oath, in that He swears by Himself and appeals to the inviolable truth of His being and life.—Divine threatenings are not an empty and dead sound, but have a mighty emphasis; they are fraught with God’s jealous zeal, and are finally put in force. Ah! that thou mightest be awakened by them to repentance! Joshua 23:15; Zechariah 1:6.—Man departs from God, and becomes involved in spiritual death, when he begins to deny the truths which bring salvation (Acts 13:46); or to live in conscious and deliberate sins, which are incompatible with union with God.—Oh! how necessary that the whole Christian body be aroused! but who thinks thereupon? We avoid speaking of spiritual things in our common intercourse; and this is a sure sign of a great backsliding.—Preachers cannot do every thing, and cannot be everywhere; therefore, the fathers of the household must be also bishops of the household; nay, one Christian must be bishop to another, and he has good authority and right to rebuke and correct in another what he sees worthy of reproof (1 Thessalonians 5:11; James 5:19).—A man can easily be hardened if he does not take knowledge and care of himself, and take to heart the admonition of others.—Sin is a powerful and deceitful thing; powerful in evil desires, by which one is very easily swept away when he does not, with the grace of God, set himself against them; but deceitful when by the plausible assurance that a thing is right, allowable, and free from peril, it ensnares the man, seduces him into sin, and, unawares, gets the mastery of him. Ah! let every one be on his guard against it (Ephesians 4:22).—Christ, with all His attributes, offices, and possessions, belongs to us; for us was He born, for us He died, for us He arose, for us He lives, and for us He intercedes. Therefore, if we have Christ, we are wanting in no good whatsoever (Psalms 34:11; Romans 8:32).—In Christianity two things are of preëminent importance—an upright character and a steadfast continuance in it. The one cannot and must not be without the other; for if we fail at the outset in uprightness of character, much more shall we fail in steadfastness. And if the latter is wanting, the beginning and the earlier progress will be in vain (Ezekiel 33:12).—One day is like another; we may always fail and fall: therefore, to-day, to-morrow, and at all times there is need of watchfulness and caution (1 Corinthians 10:12).—God is inconceivably long-suffering, and waits long before He punishes; and meanwhile He is doing good to sinners, and always alluring them to repentance (Romans 2:4).—O! how many men fail to attain that natural limit of life which God has appointed! They cut it short to themselves by wilful sin, and it is shortened to them again by the Divine wrath (Proverbs 10:27).—Wilt thou charge unrighteousness upon God, that He lets good come to one and evil to another? Look, He is so righteous that He punishes none except him who is deserving of punishment (Job 34:11; Wis 12:15).—Unbelief is the source of all sin. From unbelief sprang murmuring and all disobedience, inasmuch as by this they denied the presence, omnipotence, wisdom, and grace of God.
Berlenburger Bible:—Since Christ is to rule in us as Lord in His house, we must accept the condition of hearing His voice and giving heed to it at every moment.—The people demand indeed, Christ, but when He comes without sufficient adornment and decoration, they reject Him, and are hardened.—All evil which befalls us springs from our giving no ear to the voice of God, just as our hearkening to it is followed by nothing but good.—The ways of God are entirely unknown and strange to the flesh; the heart of man always wanders about in other things; and thus, also, the dispensations of God are entirely contrary and repugnant to man’s self-will.—Tenderly as God loves a soul, He cannot treat with tenderness its corrupt disposition.—They are zealous for the Sabbath, and have no rest in their heart.—God commences His chastisement by depriving us of rest, in order that we may observe that we have lost something.—If we love others, we admonish them. Open your eyes and see!—Unbelief is a toilsome and an evil thing, which also allows no repose to others.—Now we still hear the call, “to-day;” but the gracious interval may soon close and end. Thus the boundary, with all its uncertainty, is to be kept before our eyes. But God creates this uncertainty, not in order to vex us, but in order to guard us against false security.—The present life is to be regarded merely as a day. Blessed is he who uses it for eternity!—God has appointed the period of life as the period of repentance; yet we may not say that the limit of grace reaches absolutely to the limit of nature.—Paul is obliged to give more space to warnings than to doctrines. Such admonitions are commonly disliked; one must, therefore, deal in them sparingly; yet they spring from an evangelical heart.—Whoever wilfully neglects salvation, who can help him?—In warning a person against the danger of being hardened, we do not deny his former possession of grace, but we remind him that he must not lose his previous grace.
Laurentius:—The ground of the admonition is twofold: 1, Christ’s superiority to Moses; 2, the appeal of the Holy Spirit.—The greater the grace of God, so much the greater frequently is the wickedness of men.—Believers also need to be admonished.—By the false pretexts of sin man is deceived, and by the deceitfulness of sin he is hardened.—By frequent admonition, much evil can be guarded against.—Faith can be again lost.—Not the beginning, but the end, receives the crown.—Unbelief is the capital sin, and is specially punished by God; the examples of punishments inflicted on others should serve as a warning to us.
Rambach:—The heart is hard even by nature, but God endeavors to soften it. If we oppose ourselves to Him, the hardness becomes obduracy.—Unbelief is the single and proper cause of damnation.—Sin has regard to the disposition. With the ungodly she uses force and not cunning, saying, Thou must do that. With believers whom she is unable to rule, she employs cunning and deception.
Steinhofer:—It is the office of the Holy Spirit to testify and to warn against the sin of unbelief, and this office He constantly exercises in the preached word.—What takes place in the case of souls that come into the state of grace, and what is required in order that we may remain in this condition.
Hahn:—What God has already done in us, gives us a new incentive to fidelity.—Though we ourselves find nothing in ourselves, we are still as yet not justified; but we must appeal to another that he should pronounce our justification.—We have before us a goal; therefore we should seek to preserve one another; one should kindle another’s zeal, not light the flame of his passion. Such are the obligations of Christian fellowship.
Rieger:—We meet, within the barriers of the race-course of faith, not only footsteps in which to follow, but also doubtful and dangerous deviations, and connected with these, warnings of the Holy Spirit.—Every one has his fixed barriers and ordained course of faith, from his first hearing of the voice of God even to the goal.—In regard to faith, and our participation in the heavenly calling, we must neither be timid and distrustful, nor again secure and heedless as if there were no danger.—The deceitfulness of sin need only to withdraw one to-day after another, from the attention of thy heart, in order to cheat thee unobserved of thy whole gracious season of many years.—In admonitions and appeals from the word of God, lies a drawing and a calling of God, which sin cannot so much destroy as our own purposes.
Von Gerlach:—As long as the Holy Spirit is still working on the heart, so long continues our respite of grace.
Heubner:—The continuous office of the Holy Spirit in the Church is, to lay Christ upon the heart, to urge us to faith, to rebuke unbelief.—Even in the Old Testament we perceive the voice of the Spirit.—The Spirit urges not irresistibly.—The guilt is man’s, the merit is God’s.—The foolishness of men is a perpetual provoking and tempting of God.—The “to-day” Isaiah 1. a word reminding us of the daily never-ceasing preaching of the Divine word; 2. a word that awakens to repentance; 3. a word of warning against delay; 4. a word of consolation, for where God still calls and still makes His voice heard, the period of grace has not as yet flown by.—Without rest, without repose, wanders round the disobedient son, who hears not the voice of his father.—The weary, wandering soul must strive after the rest of God.—Who trembles not at the words, “never to attain to the rest of God; forever to be banished from the realm of peace?”—If the ultimate issues of the wicked heart are so emphatically set before us in the case of others, this should make us all the more strict and rigorous towards ourselves.—To fall away from the living God, is to fall away from true life.—Had sin no deceitful form, she would not lead astray; let him who knows her, warn the in experienced; let all be indefatigable in exhorting and in hearing.—The grace obtained through Christ remains only to the steadfast believer; it becomes punishment to him who does not hold on to faith.
Stier:—Nothing is demanded of us previously to, or upon any other ground than, our having heard the word of God which brings us grace and salvation.—The successive stages of apostasy are always the same.
Ahlfeld:—To-day let the voice of God warn you against being hardened. We consider 1. the course by which obduracy proceeds onward to judgment; 2. the course by which grace breaks in pieces the hard heart.—Labor with earnestness against thine own hardening. The chief points of this labor are: 1. honest self-examination; 2. hearty, mutual, fraternal admonition; 3. diligence in looking back over the grace which we have received.
Von Bogatzky:—We must not only guard against rude blasphemers, and abominate them, but also take heed to our own heart, and see how this wanders, swerves, and becomes alienated from God.—Whoever holds a sin to be small and insignificant, is already deceived by sin, falls already into error, and, corrupted by his delight in error, is finally utterly hardened.—The commencement of upright and genuine faith brings us already to a complete union with Christ, and is a true foundation, receives Christ as a whole, and rests entirely in Christ as upon its reliable foundation.—Holding fast, we are to hold out unto the end.—Our heart is so unbelieving, that if we ten times experience the help of God, and find ourselves strengthened in faith, still when there comes a fresh emergency, trial and exercise of our faith, unbelief again immediately bestirs herself.—Our God is alone the living God; thus He will give us also life, and power, and full supplies, and will be Himself our life, our light and salvation, and the strength of our life. Thus we need not with our hearts turn with lustful desires to the needy creatures who assuredly without Him can give no life, no true joy and satisfaction, and thus also we need not fear, any creatures, not even the devil.—We have to pray for nothing but faith (although we have it already), in order that we may also maintain faith, and thus, believing unto the end, may save our souls.
Hedinger:—God’s wrath spares not the fathers, much less the children. Why? The latter should have made the conduct and fate of the former a mirror, in which they might behold and gaze upon their own.
[Owen:—The formal reason of all our obedience, consists in its relation to the voice, or authority of God.—We see many taking a great deal of pains in the performance of such duties as, being not appointed of God, are neither accepted with Him, nor will ever turn unto any good account unto their own souls.—Consideration and choice are a stable and permanent foundation of obedience.—Many previous sins make way for the great sin of finally rejecting the voice or word of God.—Old Testament examples are New Testament instructions.—Especial seasons of grace for obedience, are in an especial manner to be observed and improved.—It is a dangerous condition for children to boast of the privileges of their fathers, and to imitate their sins.—Take heed, gray hairs are sprinkled upon you, though you perceive it not. Death is at the door. Beware, lest your next provocation be your last.—When repentance upon convictions of provocations lessens or delays, it is a sad symptom of an approaching day, wherein iniquity will be completed.—Whithersoever sin can enter, punishment can follow.—Though vengeance seems to have a lame foot, yet it will hunt sin, until it overtake the sinner.—A careless profession will issue in apostasy, open or secret, or in great distress, Matthew 13:5-6.—This privative unbelief is two-fold: 1. in refusing to believe, when it is required; 2. in rejecting the faith after it hath been received.—We have but a most uncertain season for the due performance of certain duties. How long it will be called today, we know not.—Union with Christ is the principle and measure of all spiritual enjoyments and expectations.—Therefore are the graces and works of believers excellent, because they are the graces and works of them that are united unto Christ.—Constancy and steadfastness in believing, is the great touch-stone, trial and evidence of union with Christ, or a participation of Him.—God sometimes will make men who have been wickedly exemplary in sin, righteously exemplary in their punishment.—No unbeliever shall ever enter into the rest of God].
Hebrews 3:9; Hebrews 3:9.—For ἐπειρασαν με οἱ πατέρες ὑμῶν, ἐδοκίμασάν με, recent critics read after Sin. A. B. C. D.* E. M. Uff., 73, 137, Ital. Copt., ἐπείρασαν οἰ πατέρες ὐμῶν ἑν δοκιμασία. The lect. recept. is made up from the LXX. Cod. Alex. in which the first and the Vat. in which the second με is wanting.
Hebrews 3:10; Hebrews 3:10.—For τῇ γενεᾷ έκείνη, we are to read with Sin. A. B. D. M., 6, 17, τῆ γενεᾷ ταύτῃ, [this, not that (ἐκείνη) the author, as supposed by many, changing the pronoun for the sake of a more direct application to his readers. This view, however, is rejected by Moll—K.].
Hebrews 3:13; Hebrews 3:13.—Instead of τὶς ἐξ ὑμῶν, read with B. D. E. K. L., 46, 48, ἐξ ὑμῶν τις. Sin., however, has the former reading.
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Hebrews 3". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25