Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, June 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 3

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

Holy brethren (αδελφο αγιο). Only here in N.T., for αγιοις in 1 Thessalonians 5:27 only in late MSS. See Hebrews 2:11 for same idea. First time the author makes direct appeal to the readers, though first person in Hebrews 2:1.

Partakers (μετοχο). See Luke 5:7 for "partners" in the fishing, elsewhere in N.T. only in Hebrews (Hebrews 1:9; Hebrews 6:4; Hebrews 12:8) in N.T.

Of a heavenly calling (κλησεως επουρανιου). Only here in the N.T., though same idea in Hebrews 9:15. See η ανω κλησις in Philippians 3:14 (the upward calling). The call comes from heaven and is to heaven in its appeal.

Consider (κατανοησατε). First aorist active imperative of κατανοεω, old compound verb (κατα, νους), to put the mind down on a thing, to fix the mind on as in Matthew 7:3; Luke 12:24.

Even Jesus (Ιησουν). No "even" in the Greek, just like the idiom in Hebrews 2:9, the human name held up with pride.

The Apostle and High Priest of our confession (τον αποστολον κα αρχιερεα της ομολογιας ημων). In descriptive apposition with Ιησουν and note the single article τον. This is the only time in the N.T. that Jesus is called αποστολος, though he often used αποστελλω of God's sending him forth as in John 17:3 (απεστειλας). This verb is used of Moses as sent by God (Exodus 3:10). Moffatt notes that αποστολος is Ionic for πρεσβευτης, "not a mere envoy, but an ambassador or representative sent with powers." The author has already termed Jesus high priest (Hebrews 2:17). For ομολογια (confession) see 2 Corinthians 9:13; 1 Timothy 6:12. These Hebrew Christians had confessed Jesus as their Apostle and High Priest. They do not begin to understand what Jesus is and means if they are tempted to give him up. The word runs through Hebrews with an urgent note for fidelity (Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 10:23). See ομολογεω (ομον, same, λεγω, say), to say the same thing, to agree, to confess, to profess.

Verse 2

Who was faithful (πιστον οντα). Present active participle with predicate accusative agreeing with Ιησουν, "as being faithful."

That appointed him (τω ποιησαντ αυτον). See 1 Samuel 12:6. Dative case of the articular participle (aorist active) of ποιεω and the reference is to God. Note πιστος as in Hebrews 2:17.

As also was Moses (ως κα Μωυσης). The author makes no depreciatory remarks about Moses as he did not about the prophets and the angels. He cheerfully admits that Moses was faithful "in all his house" (εν ολω τω οικω αυτου), an allusion to Numbers 12:7 (εαν ολω τω οικω μου) about Moses. The "his" is God's. The use of οικος for the people (family) of God, not the building, but the group (1 Timothy 3:15) in which God is the Father. But wherein is Jesus superior to Moses? The argument is keen and skilful.

Verse 3

Hath been counted worthy of more glory than Moses (πλειονος δοξης παρα Μωυσην ηξιωτα). Perfect passive indicative of αξιοω, to deem worthy, permanent situation described with definite claim of Christ's superiority to Moses. Δοξης in genitive case after ηξιωτα. For παρα after the comparative πλειονος see Hebrews 1:4; Hebrews 1:9; Hebrews 2:7.

By so much as (καθ' οσον). A proportionate measurement (common use of κατα and the quantitative relative οσος).

Than the house (του οικου). Ablative case of comparison after πλειονα. The architect is superior to the house just as Sir Christopher Wren is superior to St. Paul's Cathedral. The point in the argument calls for Jesus as the builder (ο κατασκευασας, first aorist active participle of κατασκευαζω, to found or build). But it is God's house as αυτου means (verses Hebrews 3:2; Hebrews 3:5) and ου in verse Hebrews 3:6. This house of God existed before Moses (Hebrews 11:2; Hebrews 11:25). Jesus as God's Son founded and supervised this house of God.

Verse 4

Is God (θεος). God is the Creator of all things and so of his "house" which his Son, Jesus Christ, founded and supervises.

Verse 5

And Moses (κα Μωυσης μεν). "Now Moses indeed on his part" (μεν contrasted with δε).

In (εν). Moses was in "God's house" "as a servant" (ως θεραπων). Old word, in LXX, only here in N.T. and quoted from Numbers 12:7. Kin to the verb θεραπευω, to serve, to heal, and θεραπεια, service (Luke 9:11) and a group of servants (Luke 12:42).

For a testimony of those things which were afterward to be spoken (εις μαρτυριον των λαληθησομενων). Objective genitive of the articular future passive participle of λαλεω. It is not certain what it means whether the "testimony" (μαρτυριον) is to Moses or to God and whether it points on to Christ. In Hebrews 9:9 see παραβολη applied to the old dispensation as a symbol pointing to Christ and Christianity.

But Christ (Χριστος δε). In contrast with Moses (μεν in verse Hebrews 3:5).

As a son (ως υιος). Instead of a θεραπων (servant).

Over his house (επ τον οικον αυτου). The difference between επ and εν added to that between υιος and θεραπων. It is very neat and quite conclusive, especially when we recall the high place occupied by Moses in Jewish thought. In Acts 7:11 the Jews accused Stephen of speaking "blasphemous words against Moses and God" (putting Moses on a par with God).

Verse 6

Whose house are we (ου οικος εσμεν ημεις). We Christians (Jew and Gentile) looked at as a whole, not as a local organization.

If we hold fast (εαν κατασχωμεν). Condition of third class with εαν and second aorist (effective) active subjunctive of κατεχω. This note of contingency and doubt runs all through the Epistle. We are God's house if we do not play the traitor and desert.

Boldness (παρρησιαν)

and glorying (κα καυχημα) some had lost. The author makes no effort to reconcile this warning with God's elective purpose. He is not exhorting God, but these wavering Christians. All these are Pauline words. B does not have μεχρ τελους βεβαιαν (firm unto the end), but it is clearly genuine in verse Hebrews 3:14. He pleads for intelligent confidence.

Verse 7

Wherefore (διο). Probably this inferential conjunction (δια, ο, because of which) goes with μη σκληρυνητε (harden not) in verse Hebrews 3:8 rather than with βλεπετε (take heed) in verse Hebrews 3:12 unless the long quotation be considered a parenthesis. The long quotation in verses Hebrews 3:7-11 is from Psalms 95:7-11. After the quotation the author has "three movements" (Moffatt) in his discussion of the passage as applied to the Jewish Christians (Hebrews 3:12-19; Hebrews 4:1-10; Hebrews 4:11-13). The peril of apostasy as shown by the example of the Israelites is presented with vividness and power.

As the Holy Ghost saith (καθως λεγε το πνευμα το αγιον). Just this phrase nowhere else in the N.T., except Acts 21:11 (Agabus), though practically the same idea in Hebrews 9:8; Hebrews 10:15. In 1 Timothy 4:1 the adjective "Holy" is wanting as in Hebrews 3:2; Hebrews 3:3. But the writer quotes this Psalm as the Word of God and in Hebrews 4:7 attributes it to David.

If ye shall hear (εαν ακουσητε). Condition of third class with εαν and first aorist active subjunctive of ακουω.

Verse 8

Harden not (μη σκληρυνητε). Prohibition with μη and first aorist (ingressive) active subjunctive of σκληρυνω, late verb from σκληρος (dried up, stiff, hard) as in Acts 19:9; Romans 9:18.

As in the provocation (ως ην τω παραπικρασμω). Late compound from παραπικραινω, late verb to embitter (παρα, πικρος), found only in LXX and here and verse Hebrews 3:15. It means embitterment, exasperation. For the simple verb πικραινω, to make bitter, see Colossians 3:19. The reference is to Meribah (Hebrews 17:1-7).

Like as in the day (κατα την ημεραν). "According to the day" as in Acts 12:1; Acts 19:23.

Of the temptation (του πειρασμου). The reference is to Massah which took place at Rephidim.

Verse 9

Wherewith (ου). Literally, "where" (the wilderness) as in Deuteronomy 8:15.

Tempted me by proving me (επειρασαν εν δοκιμασια). No word for "me." The Israelites "tested" God "in putting to the proof" (only N.T. use of this word from δοκιμαζω and this from the LXX). They were not content with God's promise, but demanded objective proof (εργα, deeds) of God.

Verse 10

And saw (κα ειδον). "And yet saw."

Wherefore (διο). Not in the LXX, but it makes clear the argument in the Psalm.

I was displeased (προσωχθισα). First aorist active of προσοχθιζω, late compound for extreme anger and disgust. In N.T. only here and verse Hebrews 3:17.

Err (πλανωντα). Present middle indicative of πλαναω, to wander astray, common verb.

They did not know (ουκ εγνωσαν). In spite of God's works (εργα) and loving patience the Israelites failed to understand God's ways with them. Are we any better? They "cared not to take my road" (Moffatt).

Verse 11

As I sware (ως ωμοσα). "Correlating the oath and the disobedience" (Vincent). First aorist active indicative of ομνυω, old verb for solemn oath (Hebrews 6:13).

They shall not enter (ε εισελευσοντα). Future middle of εισερχομα with ε as an anacoluthon for the Hebrew im (not). Really it is a condition of the first class with the conclusion not expressed, common in the LXX as here (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1024).

Into my rest (εις την καταπαυσιν μου). Old word from καταπαυω (Hebrews 4:8), to give rest, in LXX, in N.T. only in Acts 7:49; Hebrews 3:11-4. Primarily the rest in Canaan and then the heavenly rest in which God dwells.

Verse 12

Take heed (βλεπετε). Present active imperative as in Philippians 3:2 (three times) of βλεπω in place of the more usual ορατε. Solemn warning to the Jewish Christians from the experience of the Israelites as told in Hebrews 3:95.

Lest haply there shall be (μη ποτε εστα). Negative purpose with μη ποτε and the future indicative as in Mark 14:2. But we have in Colossians 2:8 μη τις εστα as in Hebrews 12:25; μη occurs with the aorist subjunctive, and μη ποτε with present subjunctive (Hebrews 4:1) or aorist subjunctive (Acts 5:39).

In any one of you (εν τιν υμων). The application is personal and pointed.

An evil heart of unbelief (καρδια πονηρα απιστιας). A remarkable combination.

Heart (καρδια) is common in the LXX (about 1,000 times), but "evil heart" only twice in the O.T. (Jeremiah 16:12; Jeremiah 18:12). Απιστιας is more than mere unbelief, here rather disbelief, refusal to believe, genitive case describing the evil heart marked by disbelief which is no mark of intelligence then or now.

In falling away from the living God (εν τω αποστηνα απο θεου ζωντος). "In the falling away" (locative case with εν of the second aorist active (intransitive) infinitive of αφιστημ, to stand off from, to step aside from (απο with the ablative case θεου) the living God (common phrase in the O.T. and the N.T. for God as opposed to lifeless idols)). "Remember that to apostatize from Christ in whom you have found God is to apostatize from God" (Dods). That is true today. See Ezekiel 20:8 for this use of the verb.

Verse 13

So long as it is called today (αχρις ου το σημερον καλειτα). The only instance in the N.T. of this conjunction (αχρ or αχρις or αχρις ου, etc.) with the present indicative in the sense of "so long as" or "while" like εως. Elsewhere it means "until" and with either the aorist indicative (Acts 7:18), the future (Revelation 17:17), or the aorist subjunctive (Revelation 7:3).

Lest any one of you be hardened (ινα μη σκληρυνθη τις εξ υμων). Negative purpose clause with ινα μη (that not) and the first aorist passive subjunctive of σκληρυνω, the vivid verb from verse Hebrews 3:8.

By the deceitfulness of sin (απατη της αμαρτιας). Instrumental case απατη (trick, fraud) as is always the case with sin (Romans 7:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:10). Apostasy (Hebrews 12:4) is their peril and it is a trick of sin.

Verse 14

For we are become partakers of Christ (μετοχο γαρ του Χριστου γεγοναμεν). Second perfect active of γινομα, "we have become," not the equivalent of εσμεν (are). For μετοχο see Hebrews 1:9; Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 6:4. We have become partners with Christ and hence (γαρ, for) should not be tricked into apostasy.

If we hold fast (εαν περ κατασχωμεν). The same condition as in verse Hebrews 3:6 with περ (indeed, forsooth) added to εαν. Jonathan Edwards once said that the sure proof of election is that one holds out to the end.

The beginning of our confidence (την αρχην της υποστασεως). For υποστασις see Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 11:1. These faltering believers (some even apostates) began with loud confidence and profession of loyalty. And now?

Verse 15

While it is said (εν τω λεγεσθα). Locative case with εν of the articular present passive infinitive of λεγω, "in the being said." Thus the author (cf. same phrase in Psalms 42:4) introduces the repeated quotation from verses Hebrews 3:7; Hebrews 3:8. Probably it is to be connected with κατασχωμεν, though it can be joined with παρακαλειτε in verse Hebrews 3:13 (treating Hebrews 3:14 as a parenthesis).

Verse 16

Who (Τινες). Clearly interrogative, not indefinite (some).

Did provoke (παρεπικραναν). First aorist active indicative of παραπικρινω, apparently coined by the LXX like παραπικρασμος (verse Hebrews 3:15) to which it points, exasperating the anger of God.

Nay, did not all (αλλ' ου παντες). "A favourite device of the diatribe style" (Moffatt), answering one rhetorical question with another (Luke 17:8) as in verses Hebrews 3:17; Hebrews 3:18, There was a faithful minority mentioned by Paul (1 Corinthians 10:7).

Verse 17

With them that sinned (τοις αμαρτησασιν). Dative masculine plural after προσωχθισεν (cf. verse Hebrews 3:10) of the articular first aorist active participle of αμαρτανω (αμαρτησας, not αμαρτων).

Carcases (κωλα). Old word for members of the body like the feet, in LXX a dead body (Numbers 14:29), here only in N.T.

Verse 18

That they should not enter (μη εισελευσεσθα). Negative μη (cf. ε in verse Hebrews 3:11) and the future middle infinitive in indirect discourse.

To them that were disobedient (τοις απειθησασιν). Dative masculine plural of the articular first aorist active participle of απειθεω, active disobedience with which compare απιστιας in verse Hebrews 3:12; Hebrews 3:19.

Verse 19

And we see (κα βλεπομεν). Triumphant conclusion of the exegesis of Hebrews 3:95. "So we see."

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Hebrews 3". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/hebrews-3.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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