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the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 3

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

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Verse 1

Heb 3:1. Let the reader keep constantly in mind the leading thought in this book, namely, the superiority of the system of Christ over that of Moses. Holy brethren. Not that worshipers under Moses were not holy, for they were required to be so (Levit-icus 11:44, 45). But they did not become brethren by their holiness; they were born into that relationship regardless of their knowledge of God. (See 1Sa 3:7.) To be brethren of Christ requires a life of righteousness (Mat 12:50), hence Paul calls these people by the term italicized. Heavenly calling is used mainly as a mark of superiority for the service under Christ over the old one. The word apostle means one who is sent on a mission with authority to speak and act. Jesus was sent from Heaven to earth to carry out a mission of salvation. After shedding His blood in a supreme sacrifice, Jesus was qualified to reenter the court of eternal glory, there to act as the High Priest for the Christians on the merits of His shed blood, even as the high priests in the Mosaic system entered the second court of the tabernacle and temple with the blood of animals.

Verse 2

Heb 3:2. Who was faithful . . . as also Moses. All of the good points about Moses were equalled and some of them were excelled by Christ. They were equal as to being faithful over their own houses or religious institutions.

Verse 3

Heb 3:3. This man means Christ, and a point in which he excelled Moses is stated, namely, that He was the builder of his own house (the church). The house over which Moses presided was the Jewish nation of which he was not the originator.

Verse 4

Heb 3:4. The word man is not in the original and some is an indefinite pronoun. The idea is that as a rule, each house has its own particular builder whose activities are limited to the one house. On the other hand, God is the Master builder whose architectural powers include everything in the universe.

Verse 5

Heb 3:5. Moses did not build the house (Jewish nation), but he was given the honor of being a servant over it. Since he was a faithful servant, his behaviour and teaching became a testimony or background for the things which were to be spoken afterward, meaning the ordinances under Christ. (See Rom 15:4.)

Verse 6

Heb 3:6. Christ was even more than a faithful servant; he was a son, and was given the honor of presiding over His own house (the church), which his Father gave to him. Whose house are we refers to Paul and all others who are faithful. The faithfulness consists in maintaining our confidence or trust in Christ, which causes us to rejoice in the hope that such a divine house contains. It is necessary that our conduct in these matters be continued unto the end (of life).

Verse 7

Heb 3:7. Paul now makes a quotation from Psa 95:7-11, but strengthens it with the declaration that it is the Holy Ghost (or Spirit) that says it. That means that David was inspired to make the statement. Hear his voice means to hear God who speaks to us through his Son (chapter 1:1).

Verse 8

Heb 3:8. Harden not your hearts is a warning not to set their minds against the teaching of Christ. As in the provocation refers to the disobedi-ence of ancient Israel by which they provoked God into punishing them. Paul specifies the circumstance to which he refers by mention of the days they were going through the wilderness.

Verse 9

Heb 3:9. The apostle gives further explanation of his preceding warning by the words of this verse. Your fathers means the first heads of the Jewish nation. Tempted and proved occurred when the disobedience of the Israelites put the patience of God to a test. Such conduct on their part was without cause, for they had abundance of evidence that He was able to care for them under all conditions, and also that He would punish them for their rebellion. All of this was manifested to them during the forty years in the wilderness.

Verse 10

Heb 3:10. To be grieved means God was "wroth or displeased with" them according to Thayer's lexicon. That generation has reference to the heads of the nation who were leaders in the rebellious actions. Their misconduct was due to a heart or mind filled with error. As a result of such an attitude toward God, they failed to become acquainted with His ways or the ways the Lord wished the people to follow.

Verse 11

Heb 3:11. God swore or made a solemn decision against the disobedient people. This was caused by His wrath or grief as mentioned in verse 10. The decision was that they should not be permitted to enter into my rest. This rest refers to their settlement in the promised land, which the Lord had designed should come to his people after the weariness of the wandering. God calls it his rest because he designed it to be an antitype of the rest on the seventh day from His works of creation.

Verse 12

Heb 3:12. Take heed is the same warning made in verse 8, for these Christians not to make the same mistake their Jewish forefathers made in the wilderness. Unbelief is shown to cause man to have an evil heart. Such a heart will cause a man to depart from the living God. This is the same warning Paul gave in his epistle to the church at Corinth (1Co 10:1-11). We should profit by the mistakes of others and thus avoid a like falling from the favor of the Lord. The record of these things is placed in the Old Testament for our benefit (Rom 15:4).

Verse 13

Heb 3:13. To exhort means to insist on doing what we know to be our duty. These brethen knew it was their duty to listen to the teaching given by Christ, for they just had the instruction in this epistle. They were told to do the exhorting daily which would require frequent contact with each other. Such an intimacy was expected of the people of Christ, and it was even predicted that it would be so. In Mal 3:16 we may read, "Then they that feared the Lord spake often to each other." While it is called to day is equivalent to saying, "While the days are going by." This teaching of Paul is not very favorable to the notion of half-hearted disciples who insist that Christians have no need to assemble except on Lord's Day to "partake of the communion." Hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. The Lord knew that frequent contact with each other was necessary to prevent disciples being deceived by sin.

Verse 14

Heb 3:14. This verse is virtually the same as verse 6. To be a partaker of Christ is to have part in the good things He has in store for his faithful disciples.

Verse 15

Heb 3:15. While it is said signifies that the admonition will not always be given, hence while it is to day is the time to heed the admonition given by the apostle. Heb 3:16 Heb 3:16. Again the apostle wishes his readers to profit by the mistakes of their forefathers. For some indicates that Paul has reference to a certain part of the Jewish people in the wilderness. We may often hear some such a remark as the following: "Of the vast congreation that left Egypt only two ever reached the promised land." This will be said in spite of the positive statement that the failure to go through did not happen to all that came out of Egypt by Moses. This kind of statement would indicate a greater number of exceptions than only two.

Verse 17

Heb 3:17. This verse explains that the forgoing sad fate pertained only to the sinners---those able to be responsible for their actions. Those were the ones only whose carcases fell in the wilderness. The identity of the class that fell is made still more definite in Num 14:22-31. By considering these several verses it may be seen that only the men of war are considered when just two were to be permitted to enter the land of promise. We have no definite information as to how many women and children made the entire journey from Egypt to Canaan.

Verse 18

Heb 3:18. The ones who were to be unable to enter the land of promise are again mentioned under the general description of them that believed not.

Verse 19

Heb 3:19. All of the shortcomings the Israelites committed in the wilderness are charged up against unbelief. This is significant and teaches the fundamental truth that whenever professed disciples fail to do their duty, it may be laid to their lack of faith.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Hebrews 3". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/hebrews-3.html. 1952.
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