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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Hebrews 3

 

 

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Verses 1-6

Hebrews 3:1-6. The superiority of Christ to Moses is illustrated in two ways: (a) Moses belonged to the house as part of it (i.e. was himself one of the members of the chosen community); Christ was the builder of the house. (b) Moses was a servant in the house (Numbers 12:7), while Christ was over it as the Son. The readers are again reminded (Hebrews 3:1) of the obligations resting on them. They share in a calling which identifies them with a heavenly world; for Christ their representative was an apostle, a messenger of God, in a far higher sense than Moses. It is true that Moses also was faithful to the task entrusted to him, but he was himself numbered with the community which he led. He was part of the house, while Christ was its builder, inasmuch as God, the ultimate builder of all things, had accomplished His creative work through Christ (Hebrews 3:4). Moses, moreover, had been only a servant in the house, although a faithful servant (Numbers 12:7), and the message which he brought was at best a foreshadowing of the greater message that was reserved for the future (Hebrews 3:5 f.). The faithfulness of Christ was that of the Son to whom the house belonged, and who had therefore a far higher responsibility. "And we are that house," that community of which Christ is Lord, if only we can remain loyal to our splendid hope until it reaches fulfilment.


Verses 1-19

Hebrews 3:1 to Hebrews 4:13. As Christ is higher than the angels, so He is greater than Moses, through whom the first covenant was established. The comparison with Moses, however, occupies only a few verses, and merges in a warning to avoid the fate of those Israelites whom Moses led.


Verses 7-16

Hebrews 3:7 to Hebrews 4:13. With this warning the comparison between Christ and Moses changes into an exhortation, based on Psalms 95:7-11. This psalm is concerned with the "house" or community of which Moses was the head, and its lessons are applied to the "house" of the new covenant. The ancient people of God missed their destiny because of unbelief, and Christians must be on their guard against a like danger. After making his quotation the writer proceeds to explain it by his customary method of allegory. First of all (Hebrews 3:12-19) he points to the solemn warning which is impressed on us by the apostasy of ancient Israel. The danger of unbelief is always present, and Christians must never weary of kindling one another to greater faith; for unbelief is an insidious sin, and grows upon us before we know (Hebrews 3:12 f.). The psalm speaks of an opportunity which is offered to us "to-day," and to the writer of the epistle this word has a special significance. It is meant to be prophetic of that interval of time which is still left before Christ returns in glory. The readers are exhorted to make good use of this interval, which is quickly passing. If they can preserve for this little time the faith with which they entered on the Christian life, they will be assured of their place among Christ's people (Hebrews 3:14 f.). The psalm suggests the further reflection (Hebrews 3:16-19) that none can presume to reckon themselves quite secure from the danger of falling away from God. Those who rebelled in the wilderness were no other than the chosen people, who had experienced the great deliverance. They all fell into sin, and were doomed to wander in the wilderness for forty years, until their whole generation perished. God had purposed that they should enter into His rest, but in the end His purpose was frustrated. And it was they themselves who forfeited the promised rest by their disobedience.

It has been conjectured from the insistence on "forty years" (Hebrews 3:9; Hebrews 3:16) that the writer connected this period in a special manner with his thought of "to-day." The interval that would elapse between Christ's death and His second coming was to correspond with that period of forty years which Israel had spent in the wilderness. There would thus be a peculiar urgency in his warning, since the interval of forty years must have been nearing its close before the earliest date that can be assigned to the epistle. But the conjecture, though a possible, is not a very probable one. If the writer had wished to impress on his readers that they could reckon the time of Christ's coming by the OT analogy, he would have taken some means to make his thought more definite.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Hebrews 3:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/hebrews-3.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, December 13th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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