corner graphic   Hi,    
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to

Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Hebrews 3



Other Authors
Verse 1

Holy brethren (αδελποι αγιοιadelphoi hagioi). Only here in N.T., for αγιοιςhagiois 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 (μετοχοιmetochoi). 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 επουρανιουklēseōs epouraniou). Only here in the N.T., though same idea in Hebrews 9:15. See η ανω κλησιςhē anō klēsis in Philemon 3:14 (the upward calling). The call comes from heaven and is to heaven in its appeal.

(κατανοησατεkatanoēsate). First aorist active imperative of κατανοεωkatanoeō old compound verb (κατα νουςkata class="normal greek">Ιησουν — nous), to put the mind down on a thing, to fix the mind on as in Matthew 7:3; Luke 12:24.

Even Jesus
(τον αποστολον και αρχιερεα της ομολογιας ημωνIēsoun). 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
(Ιησουνton apostolon kai archierea tēs homologias hēmōn). In descriptive apposition with τονIēsoun and note the single article αποστολοςton This is the only time in the N.T. that Jesus is called αποστελλωapostolos though he often used απεστειλαςapostellō of God‘s sending him forth as in John 17:3 (αποστολοςapesteilas). This verb is used of Moses as sent by God (Exodus 3:10). Moffatt notes that πρεσβευτηςapostolos is Ionic for ομολογιαpresbeutēs “not a mere envoy, but an ambassador or representative sent with powers.” The author has already termed Jesus high priest (Hebrews 2:17). For ομολογεωhomologia (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 ομονhomologeō (λεγωhomon same, legō say), to say the same thing, to agree, to confess, to profess.

Verse 2

Who was faithful (πιστον ονταpiston onta). Present active participle with predicate accusative agreeing with ΙησουνIēsoun “as being faithful.”

That appointed him (τωι ποιησαντι αυτονtōi poiēsanti auton). See 1 Samuel 12:6. Dative case of the articular participle (aorist active) of ποιεωpoieō and the reference is to God. Note πιστοςpistos as in Hebrews 2:17.

As also was Moses
(ως και Μωυσηςhōs kai Mōusēs). 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 ολωι τωι οικωι αυτουen holōi tōi oikōi autou), an allusion to Numbers 12:7 (εαν ολωι τωι οικωι μουean holōi tōi oikōi mou) about Moses. The “his” is God‘s. The use of οικοςoikos 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 skillful.

Verse 3

Hath been counted worthy of more glory than Moses (πλειονος δοχης παρα Μωυσην ηχιωταιpleionos doxēs para Mōusēn ēxiōtai). Perfect passive indicative of αχιοωaxioō to deem worthy, permanent situation described with definite claim of Christ‘s superiority to Moses. ΔοχηςDoxēs in genitive case after ηχιωταιēxiōtai For παραpara after the comparative πλειονοςpleionos see Hebrews 1:4, Hebrews 1:9; Hebrews 2:7.

By so much as (κατ οσονkath' hoson). A proportionate measurement (common use of καταkata and the quantitative relative οσοςhosos).

Than the house
(του οικουtou oikou). Ablative case of comparison after πλειοναpleiona 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 κατασκευασαςho kataskeuasas first aorist active participle of κατασκευαζωkataskeuazō to found or build). But it is God‘s house as αυτουautou means (Hebrews 3:2, Hebrews 3:5) and ουhou in 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 (τεοςtheos). God is the Creator of all things and so of his “house” which his Son, Jesus Christ, founded and supervises.

Verse 5

And Moses (και Μωυσης μενkai Mōusēs men). “Now Moses indeed on his part” (μενmen contrasted with δεde).

In (ενen). Moses was in “God‘s house” “as a servant” (ως τεραπωνhōs therapōn). Old word, in lxx, only here in N.T. and quoted from Numbers 12:7. Kin to the verb τεραπευωtherapeuō to serve, to heal, and τεραπειαtherapeia 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 λαλητησομενωνeis marturion tōn lalēthēsomenōn). Objective genitive of the articular future passive participle of λαλεωlaleō It is not certain what it means whether the “testimony” (μαρτυριονmarturion) is to Moses or to God and whether it points on to Christ. In Hebrews 9:9 see παραβοληparabolē applied to the old dispensation as a symbol pointing to Christ and Christianity.

But Christ
(Χριστος δεChristos de). In contrast with Moses (μενmen in Hebrews 3:5).

As a son
(ως υιοςhōs huios). Instead of a τεραπωνtherapōn (servant).

Over his house
(επι τον οικον αυτουepi ton oikon autou). The difference between επιepi and ενen added to that between υιοςhuios and τεραπωνtherapōn 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 ημειςhou oikos esmen hēmeis). We Christians (Jew and Gentile) looked at as a whole, not as a local organization.

If we hold fast (εαν κατασχωμενean kataschōmen). Condition of third class with εανean and second aorist (effective) active subjunctive of κατεχωkatechō 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.

(παρρησιανparrēsian) and glorying (και καυχημαkai kauchēma) 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 μεχρι τελους βεβαιανmechri telous bebaian (firm unto the end), but it is clearly genuine in Hebrews 3:14. He pleads for intelligent confidence.

Verse 7

Wherefore (διοdio). Probably this inferential conjunction (δια οdia class="normal greek">μη σκληρυνητε — ho because of which) goes with βλεπετεmē sklērunēte (harden not) in Hebrews 3:8 rather than with κατως λεγει το πνευμα το αγιονblepete (take heed) in Hebrews 3:12 unless the long quotation be considered a parenthesis. The long quotation in Hebrews 3:7-11 is from Psalm 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 (εαν ακουσητεkathōs legei to pneuma to hagion). 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 Rev 2; 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
(εανean akousēte). Condition of third class with ακουωean and first aorist active subjunctive of akouō f0).

Verse 8

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

As in the provocation (ως ην τωι παραπικρασμωιhōs ēn tōi parapikrasmōi). Late compound from παραπικραινωparapikrainō late verb to embitter (παρα πικροςpara class="normal greek">πικραινω — pikros), found only in lxx and here and Hebrews 3:15. It means embitterment, exasperation. For the simple verb κατα την ημερανpikrainō to make bitter, see Colossians 3:19. The reference is to Meribah (Exodus 17:1-7).

Like as in the day
(του πειρασμουkata tēn hēmeran). “According to the day” as in Acts 12:1; Acts 19:23.

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

Verse 9

Wherewith (ουhou). Literally, “where” (the wilderness) as in Deuteronomy 8:15.

Tempted me by proving me (επειρασαν εν δοκιμασιαιepeirasan en dokimasiāi). No word for “me.” The Israelites “tested” God “in putting to the proof” (only N.T. use of this word from δοκιμαζωdokimazō and this from the lxx). They were not content with God‘s promise, but demanded objective proof (εργαerga deeds) of God.

Verse 10

And saw (και ειδονkai eidon). “And yet saw.”

Wherefore (διοdio). Not in the lxx, but it makes clear the argument in the Psalm.

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

(πλανωνταιplanōntai). Present middle indicative of πλαναωplanaō to wander astray, common verb.

They did not know
(ουκ εγνωσανouk egnōsan). In spite of God‘s works (εργαerga) 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 ωμοσαhōs ōmosa). “Correlating the oath and the disobedience” (Vincent). First aorist active indicative of ομνυωomnuō old verb for solemn oath (Hebrews 6:13).

They shall not enter (ει εισελευσονταιei eiseleusontai). Future middle of εισερχομαιeiserchomai with ειei as an anacoluthon for the Hebrew εις την καταπαυσιν μουim (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
(καταπαυωeis tēn katapausin mou). Old word from katapauō (Hebrews 4:8), to give rest, in lxx, in N.T. only in Acts 7:49; Heb 3:11-4:11. Primarily the rest in Canaan and then the heavenly rest in which God dwells.

Verse 12

Take heed (βλεπετεblepete). Present active imperative as in Philemon 3:2 (three times) of βλεπωblepō in place of the more usual ορατεhorate Solemn warning to the Jewish Christians from the experience of the Israelites as told in Psalm 95:1-11.

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

In any one of you
(εν τινι υμωνen tini humōn). The application is personal and pointed.

An evil heart of unbelief
(καρδια πονηρα απιστιαςkardia ponēra apistias). A remarkable combination.

(καρδιαkardia) is common in the lxx (about 1,000 times), but “evil heart” only twice in the O.T. (Jeremiah 16:12; Jeremiah 18:12). ΑπιστιαςApistias 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 τωι αποστηναι απο τεου ζωντοςen tōi apostēnai apo theou zōntos). “In the falling away” (locative case with ενen of the second aorist active (intransitive) infinitive of απιστημιaphistēmi to stand off from, to step aside from (αποapo with the ablative case τεουtheou) 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 καλειταιachris hou to sēmeron kaleitai). The only instance in the N.T. of this conjunction (αχριachri or αχριςachris or αχρις ουachris hou etc.) with the present indicative in the sense of “so long as” or “while” like εωςheōs 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 σκληρυντηι τις εχ υμωνhina mē sklērunthēi tis ex humōn). Negative purpose clause with ινα μηhina mē (that not) and the first aorist passive subjunctive of σκληρυνωsklērunō the vivid verb from Hebrews 3:8.

By the deceitfulness of sin
(απατηι της αμαρτιαςapatēi tēs hamartias). Instrumental case απατηιapatēi (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 (μετοχοι γαρ του Χριστου γεγοναμενmetochoi gar tou Christou gegonamen). Second perfect active of γινομαιginomai “we have become,” not the equivalent of εσμενesmen (are). For μετοχοιmetochoi see Hebrews 1:9; Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 6:4. We have become partners with Christ and hence (γαρgar for) should not be tricked into apostasy.

If we hold fast (εαν περ κατασχωμενean per kataschōmen). The same condition as in Hebrews 3:6 with περper (indeed, forsooth) added to εανean 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 υποστασεωςtēn archēn tēs hupostaseōs). For υποστασιςhupostasis 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 τωι λεγεσταιen tōi legesthai). Locative case with ενen of the articular present passive infinitive of λεγωlegō “in the being said.” Thus the author (cf. same phrase in Psalm 42:4) introduces the repeated quotation from Hebrews 3:7, Hebrews 3:8. Probably it is to be connected with κατασχωμενkataschōmen though it can be joined with παρακαλειτεparakaleite in Hebrews 3:13 (treating Hebrews 3:14 as a parenthesis).

Verse 16

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

Did provoke (παρεπικρανανparepikranan). First aorist active indicative of παραπικρινωparapikrinō apparently coined by the lxx like παραπικρασμοςparapikrasmos (Hebrews 3:15) to which it points, exasperating the anger of God.

Nay, did not all
(αλλ ου παντεςall' ou pantes). “A favourite device of the diatribe style” (Moffatt), answering one rhetorical question with another (Luke 17:8) as in 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 αμαρτησασινtois hamartēsasin). Dative masculine plural after προσωχτισενprosōchthisen (cf. Hebrews 3:10) of the articular first aorist active participle of αμαρτανωhamartanō (αμαρτησαςhamartēsas not αμαρτωνhamartōn).

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

Verse 18

That they should not enter (μη εισελευσεσταιmē eiseleusesthai). Negative μηmē (cf. ειei in Hebrews 3:11) and the future middle infinitive in indirect discourse.

To them that were disobedient (τοις απειτησασινtois apeithēsasin). Dative masculine plural of the articular first aorist active participle of απειτεωapeitheō active disobedience with which compare απιστιαςapistias in Hebrews 3:12, Hebrews 3:19.

Verse 19

And we see (και βλεπομενkai blepomen). Triumphant conclusion of the exegesis of Psalm 95:1-11. “So we see.”


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Hebrews 3:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 26th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology