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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies
Hebrews 3

 

 

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Verse 1

d The leading ideas of the preceding section are echoed in this verse: brethren, of whom Christ made himself the brother: holy, in virtue of the work of the sanctifier.

Wherefore ( ὅθεν )

Drawing a conclusion from Hebrews 2:9-18.

Holy brethren ( ἀδελφοὶ ἅγιοι )

The phrase N.T.o Ἀδελφοί brethrenin address, is not found in the Gospels. In Acts mostly ἄνδρες ἀδελφοὶ brothermen. In Paul, ἀδ. ἀγαπητοί brethrenbeloved, or ἀδ. ἀγαπ. καὶ ἐπιπόθητοι brethrenbeloved and longed for (once, Philemon 4:1), ἀδ. ἠγαπημένοι ὐπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ and τοῦ κυρίου brethrenbeloved of God or of the Lord, and ἀδ. μου mybrethren. In James mostly ἀδ. μου. In Hebrews, except here, ἀδελφοὶ simply. Holy brethren (see Hebrews 2:11) are worshippers of God, taking the place of God's O.T. people, as called and consecrated to ethical and spiritual service according to the Christian ideal.

Partakers of a heavenly calling ( κλήσεως ἐπουρανίου μέτοχοι )

Μέτοχοι partakersonly in Hebrews except Luke 5:7. See on μετέσχεν tookpart, Hebrews 2:14. The phrase heavenly calling N.T.oComp. τῆς ἄσω κλήσεως theupward calling, Philemon 3:14. The expression points to the lordship of the world to be (Hebrews 2:5); and the world to be is the abiding world, the place of realities as contrasted with types and shadows. The calling comes from that world and is to that world. See Hebrews 13:14.

Consider ( κατανοήσατε )

Attentively, thoughtfully ( κατὰ ). See on James 1:23. The writer's habit is to use the communicative we or us identifying himself with his readers.

The apostle and high priest ( τὸν ἀπόστολον καὶ ἀρχιερέα )

In calling Jesus apostle, the writer is thinking of Moses as one sent by God to lead Israel to Canaan. Comp. lxx, where ἀποστέλλειν tosend is often used of Moses. See Luke href="/desk/?q=lu+10:16&sr=1">Luke 10:16; John 3:17; John 5:36; John 6:29.

Of our profession ( τῆς ὁμολογίας ἡμῶν )

Rend. confession for profession. The apostle and high priest whom we confess. Comp. 1 Timothy 6:12.


Verse 2

Who was faithful ( πιστὸν ὄντα )

Rend. “is faithful.” A general designation of inherent character. He is faithful as he ever was.

To him that appointed him ( τῷ ποιήσαντι αὐτὸν )

Constituted him apostle and high priest. Some render created, referring to Christ's humanity or to his eternal generation. So the Old Latin, creatori suo; but this does not suit the context. Ποιεῖν often in Class. in the sense of institute, as sacrifices, funerals, assemblies, etc., and in the middle voice of adoption as a son. See 1 Samuel 12:6; Mark 3:14; Acts 2:36.

As also Moses ( ὡς καὶ Μωυσῆς )

The highest example of human fidelity known to the readers.

In all his house ( ἐν ὅλῳ τῷ οἴκῳ αὐτοῦ )

Const. with was faithful. Jesus was faithful even as Moses was faithful.

The subject of the high-priesthood of Christ, introduced in this verse, is not carried out in detail by showing the superiority of Jesus to earthly high priests. This is reserved for chs. 5-7. Instead, the writer proceeds to show that Christ is superior to Moses, as he has already shown his superiority to angels. He will thus have shown Christ's superiority to both the agencies by which the old covenant was mediated. The subject is a delicate one to treat for Jewish readers to whom Moses was the object of the deepest veneration; but the treatment displays tact by placing Moses in the foreground beside Christ as an example of fidelity to his commission. Justice is thus done to the familiar historical record, and to God's own testimony, Numbers 12:7. The general sense of the comparison is that Moses was as faithful as any servant in a house can be, while Christ was not a servant in the house, but a son, and displayed his fidelity in that capacity.


Verse 3

Was counted worthy ( ἠξίωται )

Used both of reward which is due (1 Timothy 5:17) and of punishment (Hebrews 10:29).

Of more glory ( πλείονος δόξης )

Comp. Hebrews 2:8, Hebrews 2:9.

Inasmuch as ( καθ ' ὅσον )

Rend. by so much as. The argument is based on the general principle that the founder of a house is entitled to more honor than the house and its individual servants. There is an apparent confusion in the working out, since both God and Christ appear as builders, and Moses figures both as the house and as a servant in the house. The point of the whole, however, is that Moses was a part of the O.T. system - a servant in the house; while Christ, as one with God who established all things, was the founder and establisher of both the Old and the New Testament economies.


Verse 4

He that built all things is God ( ὁ πάντα κατασκευάσας θεός )

The verb includes not only erection, but furnishing with the entire equipment. See Hebrews 9:2; 1 Peter 2:10. The verb oP. The application of built or established to Christ (Hebrews 3:3) is guarded against possible misapprehension. Christ is the establisher, but not by any independent will or agency. As the Son he is he that built, but it is as one with God who built all things. The special foundership of Christ does not contradict or exclude the general foundership of God.


Verse 5

And Moses

Καὶ andintroduces the further development of the thought of Hebrews 3:2, Hebrews 3:3- fidelity, and the corresponding honor. It is not a second proof of the superiority of Christ to Moses. See Numbers 12:7.

A servant ( θεράπων )

N.T.oComp. Revelation 15:3. Often in lxx, mostly as translation of עֶבֶד, servant, slave, bondman. Also, when coupled with the name of a deity, a worshipper, devotee. Sometimes applied to angels or prophets. Of Moses, θεράπων κυρίου servantof the Lord, Wisd. 10:16. In Class. and N.T. the word emphasizes the performance of a present service, without reference to the condition of the doer, whether bond or free. An ethical character attaches to it, as to the kindred verb θεραπεύειν :service of an affectionate, hearty character, performed with care and fidelity. Hence the relation of the θεράπων is of a nobler and freer character than that of the δοῦλος or bondservant. The verb is used of a physician's tendance of the sick. Xenophon (Mem. iv. 3,9) uses it of the gods taking care of men, and, on the other hand, of men's worshipping the gods (ii, 1. 28). See Eurip. Iph. Taur. 1105; and on heal, Matthew 8:7; Luke 10:15, and on is worshipped, Acts 17:25.

For a testimony of those things which were to be spoken ( εἰς μαρτύριον τῶν λαληθησομένων )

Ἐις forwith the whole preceding clause. Moses' faithful service in God's house was for a testimony, etc. The things which were to be spoken are the revelations afterward to be given in Christ. Others, however, explain of the things which Moses himself was afterward to speak to the people by God's command, referring to Numbers 12:8. According to this explanation, the fidelity hitherto exhibited by Moses ought to command respect for all that he might say in future. But (1) in the present connection that thought is insignificant. (2) It would be an exaggeration to speak of Moses's fidelity to God throughout his whole official career as a witness of the things which he was to speak to the people by God's command. (3) The future participle requires a reference to a time subsequent to Moses's ministry. The meaning is that Moses, in his entire ministry, was but a testimony to what was to be spoken in the future by another and a greater than he. Comp. Deuteronomy 18:15, explained of Christ in Acts 3:22, Acts 3:23.


Verse 6

But Christ

Replacing the human name Jesus, and being the official name which marks his position over the house.

As a son ( ὡς υἱὸς )

The fidelity of Moses and the fidelity of Christ are exhibited in different spheres: of Moses in that of servant; of Christ in that of son.

Over his own house ( ἐπὶ τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ )

Comp. Hebrews 10:21, and notice ἐπὶ overhis house, and ἐν inall his house, of Moses. For “his own house” rend. “his house,” referring to God. Reference to Christ would destroy the parallel. It is said by some that the matter of respective positions is irrelevant: that the main point is fidelity, and that therefore it does not matter whether Moses was a son or a servant, provided he was faithful. But the writer evidently feels that Christ's position as a son enhanced his fidelity. Comp. Hebrews 5:8. The implication is that Christ's position involved peculiar difficulties and temptations.

Whose house ( οὗ )

God's house. The church is nowhere called the house of Christ.

We ( ἡμεῖς )

Even as was the house in which Moses served. The Christian community is thus emphatically designated as the house of God, implying the transitoriness of the Mosaic system. Comp. 1 Corinthians 3:16, 1 Corinthians 3:17; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:22; 1 Peter 4:17.

Hold fast ( κατάσξωμεν )

The verb is used in N.T. as here, 1 Thessalonians 5:21; Philemon 1:13; of restraining or preventing, Luke 4:42; of holding back or holding down with an evil purpose, Romans 1:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:7; of holding one's course toward, bearing down for, Acts 27:40.

The confidence and the rejoicing of the hope ( τὴν παρρησίαν καὶ τὸ καύχημα τῆς ἐλπίδος )

The combination confidence and rejoicing N.T.oRejoicing or boasting of hope N.T.obut comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:19. For παρρησία confidencesee on 1 Timothy 3:13. The entire group of words, καύχημα groundof glorying, καύχησις actof glorying, and καυχᾶσθαι toglory, is peculiarly Pauline. Outside of the Pauline letters καυχᾶσθαι occurs only James 1:9; James 4:16; καύχησις only James 4:16; and καύχημα only here. The thought here is that the condition of being and continuing the house of God is the holding fast of the hope in Christ ( ἐλπίδος of the object of hope) and in the consummation of God's kingdom in him; making these the ground of boasting, exultantly confessing and proclaiming this hope. There must be, not only confidence, but joyful confidence. Comp. Romans 5:3; Ephesians 3:12, Ephesians 3:13; Philemon 3:3.

Firm unto the end ( μέχρι τέλους βεβαίαν )

Textually, there is some doubt about these words. Westcott and Hort bracket them. Tischendorf retains, and Weiss rejects them. The latter part of this verse marks the transition to the lesson of the wilderness-life of the exodus; the writer fearing that the fate of the exodus-generation may be repeated in the experience of his readers. We are God's house if we steadfastly hold fast our Christian hope, and do not lose our faith as Israel did in the wilderness. The exhortation to faith is thrown into the form of warning against unbelief. Faith is the condition of realizing the divine promise. The section is introduced by a citation from Psalm 95:7, Psalm 95:8.


Verse 7

Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith ( διὸ καθὼς λέγει τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον )

See on Hebrews 1:6. The formula the Spirit the holy (Spirit ) is common in the N.T. with the exception of the Catholic Epistles, where it does not occur. The construction of the passage is as follows: Διὸ whereforeis connected with βλέπετε takeheed, Hebrews 3:12. The point is the writer's warning, not the warning of the citation. The whole citation including the introductory formula, down to rest, Hebrews 3:11, is parenthetical.

Today if ye will hear his voice ( σήμερον ἐάν τῆς φωνῆς αὐτοῦ ἀκούσητε )

The Hebrew reads, O that you would hear his voice today. Today is prophetically interpreted by the writer as referring to the Christian present, the time of salvation inaugurated by the appearance of Christ.


Verse 8

Harden not ( μὴ σκληρύνητε )

In N.T. mostly in this epistle. Comp. Acts 19:9; Romans 9:18, see note. The group of kindred words consists of σκληρός hard(see on Matthew 25:24; see on Judges 1:14); σκλψρότης hardness(Romans 2:5); σκληρύνειν toharden (Acts 19:9; Romans 9:18); and the compounds σκληροκαρδία hardnessof heart (Matthew 19:8; Mark 10:5), and σκληροτράχηλος stiff-necked(Acts 7:5). All occur in lxx, with the addition of σκληρῶς hardlypainfully (not in N.T.).

In the provocation ( ἐν τῷ παραπικρασμῷ )

Only here and Hebrews 3:15. In lxx only Psalm 94:8. The verb παραπικραίνειν toprovoke, only in Hebrews 3:16. Often in lxx. The simple verb πικραίνειν tomake bitter, Colossians 3:19; Revelation 8:11; Revelation 10:9, Revelation 10:10. From πικρός bitterpungent: hence to stir up to bitterness, to irritate. Comp. lxx Ezekiel 2:4.

In the day ( κατὰ τὴν ἡμέραν )

Κατὰ in a temporal sense, as Acts 12:1; Acts 19:23; Acts 27:27. Comp. κατ ' ἀρχάς inthe beginning, Hebrews 1:10.

Of temptation ( τοῦ πειρασμοῦ )

Rend. “of the temptation,” referring to a definite event, the murmuring against Moses at Rephidim on account of the lack of water, Exodus 17:1-7. In that passage the lxx gives for the two proper names Massah and Meribah, πειρασμὸς temptationwhich is correct, and λοιδόρησις railingor reviling, which is loose, since Meribah signifies strife. In Psalm 94, lxx renders Meribah παραπικρασμός provocationwhich is inexact, and Massah πειρασμὸς temptationwhich is correct.


Verse 9

When ( οὗ )

Rend. where. See οὗ after ἔρημος wilderness Deuteronomy 8:15.

Tempted me, proved me ( ἐπείρασαν ἐν δοκιμασία )

Lit. tried (me ) in proving. The text differs from lxx, which reads ἐπείρασαν, ἐδοκίμασαν temptedproved, as A.V. The phrase here means tempted by putting to the test. Comp. ἐκπειράζειν totempt or try with a view to seeing how far one can go. See on 1 Corinthians 10:9.

And saw my works ( καὶ εἶδον τὰ ἔργα μου )

Some construe my works with both verbs: tried and saw my works: but it is better to supply me after ἐπείρασαν temptedto take works with saw only, and to give καὶ the force of and yet (see on Luke 18:7). “They tempted and yet saw my works;” although they saw my works. The Hebrew is “tried me, proved me, yea saw my works.”

Forty years

In lxx this is connected with saw my works. In the Hebrew forty years begins the next clause.


Verse 10

Wherefore I was grieved ( διὸ προσώχθισα )

The Hebrew omits wherefore. It was inserted because of the transfer of forty years to the preceding clause. The verb προσώχθισα Iwas grieved, only here and Hebrews 3:17. In lxx for קוֹא, to spue out; גָּעַל, to exclude, reject, abhor; מָאַֽם, to repudiate.


Verse 11

So I swear ( ὡς )

Rend. “according as I swear”: the ὡς correlating the oath and the disobedience.

They shall not enter into my rest ( εἰ ἐλεύσονται εἰς τὴν κατάπαυσιν μου )

Lit. if they shall enter, etc. A common Hebraistic formula in oaths. Where God is speaking, as here, the ellipsis is “may I not be Jehovah if they shall enter.” Where man is speaking, “so may God punish me if ”; or “God do so to me and more if.” Comp. Mark 8:12: lxx, Genesis 14:23; Deuteronomy 1:35; 1 Kings 1:51; 1 Kings 2:8. Sometimes the ellipsis is filled out, as 1 Samuel 3:17; 2 Samuel 3:35. Κατάπαυσιν restonly in Hebrews, and Acts 7:49. The verb καταπαύειν tolay to rest also only in Acts and Hebrews. In Class. the verb sometimes means to kill or to depose from power. In the original citation the reference is to Canaan. Paul uses κληρονομία inheritancein a similar sense.


Verse 12

d Note how the following exhortation is colored by the O.T. citation: evil heart; the to-day; be hardened; take heed ( βλέπετε ). See to it. Often in warnings or admonitions: sometimes with ἀπὸ fromwith genitive of that against which the warning is given, as Mark 8:15; Mark 12:38; but so only in the Gospels. In construction connect with διὸ Hebrews 3:7; therefore beware.

Lest there be ( μήποτε ἔσται )

The indicative with μὴ lestshows that with the fear that the event may occur, there is blended a suspicion that it will occur.

In any of you ( ἔν τινι ὑμῶν )

They are appealed to individually.

An evil head of unbelief ( καρδία πονηρὰ ἀπιστίας )

The whole phrase N.T.oNeither do the combinations evil heart or heart of unbelief occur elsewhere. In lxx, among nearly a thousand instances of καρδία heart καρδία πονηρὰ evilheart appears only five times, and in three of the five in apocryphal books. See Baruch 1:22; 2:8. In lxx proper, Jeremiah href="/desk/?q=jer+16:12&sr=1">Jeremiah 16:12; Jeremiah 18:12. Ἀπιστίας ofunbelief, specifies that in which the more general πονηρὰ evilconsists. An evil heart is an unbelieving heart.

In departing from the living God ( ἐν τῷ ἀποστῆναι ἀπὸ θεοῦ ζῶντος )

The characteristic of unbelief. Faith is personal union with God. Unbelief separates from God. The phrase living God is common to both Testaments. For the bearing of the words upon the question of the Gentile destination of the Epistle, see Introduction.


Verse 13

While it is called to-day ( ἄρχις οὗ τὸ σήμερον καλεῖται )

Lit. so long as the to-day is being named. The article points to the former expression - the “to-day” of Hebrews 3:7. It is the day of grace, while salvation through Christ is still attainable.

Through the deceitfulness of sin ( ἀπάτῃ τῆς ἁμαρίας )

Ἀπάτη is rather a trick, stratagem, deceit, than the quality of deceitfulness. The warning is against being hardened by a trick which their sin may play them. Note the article, the or his sin - the sin of departing from the living God. The particular deceit in this case would be the illusion of faithfulness to the past.


Verse 14

We are made partakers of Christ ( μέτοχοι γὰρ τοῦ Χριστοῦ γεγόναμεν )

Rend. we are become fellows with Christ. For fellows see Luke 5:7; Hebrews 1:9. It marks even a closer relation than “brethren.” See Luke 22:30; Romans 8:17; Revelation 3:21.

Beginning of our confidence ( τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς ὑποστάσεως )

The believing confidence with which we began our Christian life. For ὑπόστασις confidencesee on Hebrews 1:3. The Greek fathers render substance; that in virtue of which we are believers.

Unto the end ( μέχρι τέλους )

Better, the consummation. It is more than mere termination. It is the point into which the whole life of faith finally gathers itself up. See Romans 6:21; 2 Corinthians 11:15; Philemon 3:19; Hebrews 6:8; 1 Peter 1:9.


Verse 15

While it is said ( ἐν τῷ λέγεσθαι )

The formula by which the writer reverts to the previous citation. Connect with if we hold fast. The exhortation of Hebrews 3:12answered to Psalm 95:1-11; so the condition of fulfillment in Hebrews 3:14is declared to rest on the same Scripture. Only on the ground of what is said in that Psalm does the holding fast come to pass. Rend. therefore, “We are fellows of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end, seeing it is said,” etc.


Verse 16

For some, when they had heard, did provoke ( τίνες γὰρ ἀκούσαντες παρεπίκραναν )

Rend. who, when they heard, did provoke? The interrogative τίνες calls special attention to those who provoked God. The writer would say, “My warning against apostasy is not superfluous or irrelevant: for, consider: who were they that provoked God? They were those who had fairly begun their journey to Canaan, as you have begun your Christian course. They provoked God, so may you.

Howbeit not all ( ἀλλ ' οὐ πάντες )

Wrong. The interrogation should be continued. Who were they? But ( ἀλλ ') why do I ask? Were they not all who came out of Egypt by Moses? They were so numerous that they practically constituted the whole generation of the exodus. So far from its being true that a good ending necessarily follows a good beginning, a whole generation of God's chosen people failed to reach the Land of Promise because they provoked God.


Verse 17

d The interrogation still continued. “With whom was he displeased forty years? Was it not with them?” etc.

Carcasses ( τὰ κῶλα )

N.T.olxx for פֶּֽגֶר, a corpse. Κῶλον properly a limb. The idea of dismemberment underlies the use of the word. Comp. Numbers 14:29(lxx), and 1 Corinthians 10:5, of the rebellious Israelites, who κατεστρώθησαν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ werestrewn down along in the wilderness.


Verse 18

To them that believed not ( τοῖς ἀπειθήσασιν )

Rend. to them that disobeyed.

 


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The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Hebrews 3:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/hebrews-3.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

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the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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