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Bible Commentaries

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

Hebrews 3

Verse 1


The Holy Ghost is here still preaching Christ. The Lord, the Spirit, calls upon the Church, to pause, and contemplate, the Person of Jesus. He draws a Comparison between Christ and Moses. He shews the awful State of Unbelief!

Verses 1-6

(1) Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; (2) Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. (3) For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honor than the house. (4) For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. (5) And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; (6) But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

Who, but must admire, the very beautiful method in which the Apostle opens this Chapter! Having in those two which are preceding, drawn out, in the most animated manner, to view, the Person of the Son of God; both in his divine nature, and in his human, and in the mysterious union of both; he now stands and calls upon the Church to behold and consider him! And what a glorious sight would it be, had we our spiritual senses, and the organs of vision so quickened and enlarged, as to form suitable apprehensions of his infinite dignity and greatness? I would beg the Reader's attention, to the very great beauty, contained in these few verses on this subject, both as it relates to the persons called upon to behold Christ; and Christ himself.

And first, let him remark of the persons called upon. They are said to be, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling. By which, as I have uniformly all the way along observed, in all the Apostle's writings, is meant, the church, as distinguished from the carnal world. Holy brethren: by virtue of their oneness with Christ, being holy in Christ. Originally, and eternally, chosen by God the Father in Christ, to be holy and without blame before him is love. And predestinated, to the adoption of children for this purpose. And willed by the same Lord, to this holiness, as the final end of their creation in Christ. Be ye holy, for I am holy. And hence, by regeneration, made so, in Christ. And brethren; not only of each other, but of Christ their elder brother; being chosen in the same eternal purpose of God; and formed in the same Womb of eternity. Hence, Jesus is not ashamed to call them brethren.

And they are all partakers of the heavenly calling. For they are alike said to be a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, 1 Peter 2:9 . Hence, from everlasting having been set apart in the grace union, with their glorious Head and Husband, they partake, in all the communicable grace, which flows from Jesus, to his members here; and in all that is communicable of glory from him, in the life to come. Now, it is to such, Paul calls to the contemplation of their adorable Lord Jesus Christ. And indeed it is such, and such only, that can take pleasure and find interest in the view. For to a carnal mind, there is no beauty to desire him: while to the faithful, and believing, regenerated by grace, he is the altogether lovely, and the fairest among ten thousand!

Let the Reader next look to Christ, and consider, while obeying the Apostle's call to behold Christ, the very gracious characters which Paul here particularly holds forth for the contemplation of his redeemed to view him under. First, the Apostle; and next with it, the high Priest of our profession. These he singles out, amongst numberless other most lovely, and engaging characters, as being more immediately suited to the subject, he had them before him. Reader! do not fail to mark them. If Jesus be dear to you, as your high Priest: (and how would a throne of grace be accessible or blessed without him,) surely to behold Christ in this office, as sent and authorized, as the Almighty Apostle from God, must endear him, and make him so. Here indeed lies the vast stress, of the whole blessedness of the gospel. Christ is the great high Priest, Altar, and Sacrifice; in whom alone, and by whom alone, all our approaches to the throne are made. But it is Jehovah's authority, which gives efficacy to all. Christ is the great Apostle come from God and faith's great warrant to come to God by him. And the child of God, taught of God the Spirit, these precious, distinct, and at the same time, united views; finds all the encouragement to give him an holy boldness. For the poor sinner, that thus comes to God, in, and by Christ; comes to God, in God's own way. This is the remedy of God's own providing. And therefore it can never fail. It is, as if a child of God should say; how can I fear, how can I doubt of acceptance with God as long as I come to God, in this new and living way of God's Apostle and high Priest? Christ's blood and righteousness my offering; and God's own appointment for my pleading? Oh! that all the holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, may daily hear, the command of God the Holy Ghost, by his servant the Apostle, in this sweet scripture; and feel the blessed influence of the Spirit, at the same time in their hearts; and consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession Christ Jesus!

I beg the Reader next to notice, the beautiful method, which God the Holy Ghost adopts, in order to glorify the Lord Jesus. Indeed, it is a grand feature this, in the Spirit's teaching. He began this Epistle, with shewing the vast superiority of the Lord Jesus Christ to Angels; declaring that he was not only Him, by whom Jehovah made the worlds; but that when Jehovah brought him in, as the first begotten into the world, he commanded all the .Angels of God to worship him, Hebrews 1:2-6 . And here, while writing again to the Hebrews, and knowing their attachment to their great minister Moses, the Apostle introduceth Moses to their view, by way of manifesting, that Moses, though such a Prophet as never before arose in Israel, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and wonders, which the Lord sent him to do; yet, compared to Christ, was no more than a servant to a Son, Deuteronomy 34:10-11 . And to confirm it, if possible, yet more, under the similitude of an house, and builder, the Apostle states that Moses, as a creature, or as an house which could not make or build itself, was but as both in the Lord's hand. Now he that built all things (and all things were made by Christ, and without Him, was not anything made, that was made: John 1:3 ) is, and must be, God: and consequently Christ is God. Reader! what can be more decisive, in confirmation of the true, and proper Godhead of or Lord Jesus Christ.

Neither, according to my apprehension of things, was it without an eye to the firm establishment of this glorious truth, of the Godhead of Christ, in the mind of the Church at this place; that the Holy Ghost, thus guided Paul to write, because the Lord was about to speak so much, as he hath done, of the true and proper manhood of Christ also. For the Lord the Spirit is here opening to the Church's view, Christ's faithfulness in his office, of the priesthood. For this man, (saith the Lord,) was faithful to him that appointed him, and consequently counted worthy of more glory than Moses. Certainly, when the S on of God stood up at the call of his Father, as the Head and Husband, and Sponsor, and Surety of his Church; he became in her law-room and stead, the servant of Jehovah, and as such, faithfulness became him and his house forever! And what can be more blessed to the Church, than the consciousness and assurance of Christ, as God-Man Mediator, being a faithful High Priest to God and Man; and acting in that high capacity, in all he did, for his Church, his house, whose house are we? I detain the Reader, over what is here said, (and repeated with some little variation in verse 14,) to observe, that when it is added, whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope, firm unto the end: this is not said, as if our being Christ's house, was made, in the least, conditional, or in any way depended upon somewhat to be done, or held fast by us. If it were, indeed, it would reduce the house of Christ itself to a peradventure and make the whole of God's grace to rest upon the will of man. If the Reader will notice the words a little more closely, he will discover, through divine teaching, that it is our confidence, and our rejoicing which we are said to hold fast, and not our interest in Christ, if we would know for our joy, that we are Christ's house. My happiness, and my enjoyment of my interest in Christ, will indeed be more or less, as, through grace, I find strength, to hold fast my confidence in Christ. But my safety in Christ is in the Lord's holding me fast; and not I him. Men, who read their Bibles, untaught of God the Spirit, may fancy that such ifs and buts as they meet with here and there, are put for conditions and causes. But certainly not so. Here are no such things. Christ's house is of God the Father's laying in Christ himself, the sure foundation in Zion. And all his members are living stones, built up by God himself in this house, for an holy temple to the Lord, and an habitation of God through the Spirit, Isa 28:16 ; 1 Peter 2:5 ; Ephesians 2:20-22 .

Reader! I beseech you, as you value your privileges, and high calling in Christ; learn of God the Spirit how to estimate your safety in Christ. So wretchedly low at present is the tide of things, in the spiritual life of God in the soul, according to modern profession, of what some men call the Gospel; that in this land, where once it stood at high water mark, it is now nearly gone out, and left our shore at the lowest ebb. They do not live upon Christ, but upon their own self attainments. And while anything in self, can be found to satisfy their minds, they are at ease; though they have no communication, from the ocean of Christ, in those streams, which alone can truly make glad the city of God, Psalms 46:4 .

Verses 7-19

(7) Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice, (8) Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: (9) When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. (10) Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. (11) So I swore in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) (12) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. (13) But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (14) For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; (15) While it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. (16) For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. (17) But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? (18) And to whom swore he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? (19) So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

I pause the more frequent over those verses, where God the Holy Ghost is spoken of, in any of his more express personal acts, in order to direct the Reader's attention to the subject. Among the latter-day heresies, the denial of his Person and Godhead, is specially marked. And the Reader will do well to consider, how very often the Lord hath ascribed to himself personal exercises; such as speaking and commanding, and the like, as if to guard the Church against this deadly sin. Surely the thing itself, being so plain, as all the ministry of the Holy Ghost must imply; it need not have been said as here; Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith; unless it had been intended in a more palpable way, and manner, to keep the minds of the faithful always alive, in their attention, both to his Person, and Godhead. See Hebrews 9:8 and Commentary.

Concerning what is here said, by God the Holy Ghost, in charging the people, to be on the watch, lest an evil heart of unbelief should creep in among them; (and he holds up before them the history of those whose carcasses fell in the wilderness, by way of remark, I shall beg to offer a few brief observations.

And, first. Let the Reader take notice, to whom these words are spoken, namely, to the brethren. Not to the carnal and unregenerate; but to those of whom it is said, verse 14, for we are made partakers of Christ; or, as it might have been rendered, for we have been made partakers of Christ; for it refers to an act past: and an act made on God's part; not on ours: having been so made, before the foundation of the world, Ephesians 1:4-5 . Let the Reader make this his first observation on the passage. It is to the Church, the brethren, to whom the Holy Ghost speaks.

Secondly. They are admonished to take heed against an hardness of heart, and an evil heart of unbelief. Now this is not the original stony heart, which the Church, as well as the whole Adam-race, has by nature. For the Lord promised to take this away, and in regeneration it is actually taken away, Ezekiel 36:26 with John 3:3-8 . But it is that hardness of heart, which even the Lord's people, in the unrenewed part of their nature, their body of sin which they carry about with them, are too apt to imbibe, from mingling with carnal company, and an absence from ordinances, neglect in reading the word of God: and a shyness, or little frequency at the mercy seat. These things bring on coldness, and distance, between Christ and the soul: and like the Church, a sleepy, slothful frame is felt, Song of Solomon 5:2 and Commentary.

Thirdly. The Lord plainly shews in what follows, by calling upon the Church to exhort one another, that it is the Church, and not the carnal which is here admonished; and by the remedy proposed by exhortation, it is as plain, that absence from the Lord, and his courts, and inattention to the several means of grace, were referred to, as the causes of inducing this hardness, and insensibility of heart and unbelief.

Fourthly. The carcasses of those which fell in the wilderness, plainly shew, that they differed wholly from the Lord's people here admonished. They are so spoken of elsewhere, as those with whom God was not well pleased, 1 Corinthians 10:5 . And who were they? Not the Lord's people in Christ, who from everlasting are chosen in him; predestinated to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself; and accepted in the beloved, Ephesians 1:4-6 . Who are they then, I answer, the children of Israel, after the flesh: or perhaps also partly that mixed multitude, which went up out of Egypt with Moses. See Exodus 12:37-38 and Numbers 14:26-37 . Those men, while the miracles of the Lord's servant in Egypt, were warm in their remembrance, followed Israel, but they knew not the Lord; neither followed the Lord. Hence the expressions: For some, howbeit not all. See Reader! distinguishing grace! And do not forget, what God the Spirit hath also said on the same subject. For they are not all Israel which are of Israel. Neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children, but in Isaac shall thy seed be called, Romans 9:6-7 . The nation of Israel, as a nation, like any other nation where there is a professing Church, as a professing Church, did all enjoy the outward privileges. They had all the Manna, and all drank of the Rock; the Cloud to screen by day, and the pillar of fire by night. But these were only common things to them, like Ordinances. Unbelief then, and un-regeneration now, produce the same effect. The five words of Christ, Ye must be born again: John 3:7 , becomes the sole qualification to an entrance into Christ's kingdom.

Verse 19


PAUSE, my soul, and cheerfully obey, the Lord the Spirit, and consider, as thou art commanded and hast such abundant reason to do; consider, the Apostle and High Priest of thy profession Christ Jesus! Yes! thou glorious God and Savior! I would desire to contemplate thy Person, character, offices, and relations! I would desire grace, and a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of thee, to behold thee in all that concerns thy Mediatorial glory, in thy faithfulness to thy Father, and to thy people. I would gaze on thee, until my whole soul was swallowed up in the contemplation; and until that I found myself one with my Lord in that house, over which, as his own, Christ is the rightful owner; and which house, is Christ's body the Church, and He the fullness which filleth all in all.

And do thou, Almighty God the Holy Ghost, give me continual grace, to keep in remembrance thy precious exhortation to thy people. Lord! let nothing of sin cleave to my poor fallen nature; neither suffer me to be at any time hardened with the deceitfulness of it. Oh! the long suffering of my God, to the forty years provocation of the people in the wilderness! Oh! the numberless years of the Lord's long suffering now! Cause me, 0 Lord, to mark that grace which kept back thy people from murmuring then, when the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt by Moses; that though some, (even the Israel after the flesh,) when they had heard, did provoke; yet not all, (even those whom grace restrained.) They fell not after the same example of unbelief. And cause me, 0 Lord, to know now, that it is grace, and grace alone, by which any are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. Do thou, 0 Lord the Holy Ghost! who here so sweetly holds forth our great and glorious Apostle, and High Priest, Jesus Christ, to thy Church's view, give grace to the apprehension and knowledge of Him; that through thy blessed influences thy people may all rejoice in him, to the praise of the glory of His grace, who hath made us accepted in the Beloved.

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Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Hebrews 3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.