Hebrews - Lesson 7

Hebrews 3:1-6

The first extended block of exhortation in Hebrews. The purpose is to focus on the faithfulness of Jesus. The process is comparing Jesus to Moses.

Lesson 7
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Hebrews 3:1-6

I. Overview

II. Hebrews 3:1-6

            A. Purpose and process

            B. Text

                        1. Hebrews 3:1-2

                        2. Hebrews 3:3-4

                        3. Hebrews 3:14

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Class Resources
  • Hebrews was written to give strong encouragement for those who were struggling in the Christian life, not primarily for the purpose of being a theological treatise for future generations. The main message of the author of Hebrews is, "God speaks effectively to us through Jesus."

  • The purpose of Hebrews is to encourage those who are faltering spiritually to endure in the faith. The author does this by exhorting people to put into practice his Christological teaching. Your endurance in the Christian life is going to be in direct proportion to the clarity with which you see Jesus and what he has accomplished on your behalf. The image you have of who Jesus was and why he came have radical implications for how you live and preach.

  • The Son is superior to the angels by virtue of his unique relationship to the father, by virtue of the inferior status of the angels, and by his exalted position as the Lord and creator of the universe.

  • The writer includes a section on exhortation in Hebrews 2:1-4 in the middle of a section in which he is emphasizing the position of the Son in relation to the angels. Jesus is superior to angels, those who rejected the law given through the angels were punished under the old covenant, those who reject the word of salvation given through the son deserve greater punishment. 

  • The purpose of Hebrews 2:5-9 is a transition between the superiority of Jesus and the incarnation. The process the author uses is the quotation of Psalm 8.

  • The author of Hebrews focuses on the incarnation because he plans to show that Jesus is a high priest. When it says that Jesus was “perfected through suffering,” it was a path that Jesus had to travel all the way through to get to the point where he was all that the Father designed for him to be in terms of the author of our salvation. We have hope because Jesus has liberated us from the fear of death.

  • The first extended block of exhortation in Hebrews. The purpose is to focus on the faithfulness of Jesus. The process is comparing Jesus to Moses.

  • Having a hard heart means to set your will against the Lord’s will. An unbelieving heart means that you are refusing to think that God’s ways are the right ways. The result is that you turn away from the living God. It comes from a pattern of life that turns a deaf ear to God’s word.

  • The author of Hebrews emphasizes the promise of rest for the people of God. He cites the example of God resting in Genesis 2:2 in contrast to Psalm 95.

  • The concept of the word of God in the first century is a force or dynamic power, not just a word printed on a page. The word convicts of sin which means it moves us in life to different perspectives and ways of living. It reaches inside of us and sorts us out. Hebrews 4:14-16 is a warning passage.

  • The center point of the exhortation. In chapter 5, the author identifies the hearers’ problem as a lack of spiritual maturity. They are spiritually sluggish and have lost perspective on basic Christian teaching. 

  • The Hebrews 6:4-8 is a warning about the consequences of rejecting Jesus.

  • The middle section of Hebrews focuses on Jesus as high priest. Hebrews 6:13-20 is both exhortation to persevere in the faith looking to Abraham as an example, and a transition back to a discussion of Christology focusing on Melchizedek.

  • Jesus is a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. The author of Hebrews continues where he left off in 5:10 by first arguing for the superiority of Melchizedek by reflecting on Old Testament passages that mention him.

  • This is a transitional passage linking the ideas of appointment of Jesus as high priest and the superior offering of Jesus.

  • The new covenant is superior to the old covenant.

  • The structure of the tabernacle shows that we could not get into God's presence on our own.

  • Christ’s offering superior to the offerings of the old covenant. It is the day of atonement offering made once for all time so all our sins are dealt with and we may enter the presence of God.

  • It is encouraging to realize how decisively your sins have been dealt with by the sacrifice of Christ. When you sin, you need to agree with God that it is sin and it has already been dealt with by Christ. If I am in covenant with Christ, I am not guilty before God. Jesus’ work as high priest is what allows me to come into God’s presence.

  • “Let us draw near,” “Let us hold fast,” “Let us consider.” We should live in community in such a way that we are stirring up so that the end result is that we are doing good works in the context of love. We should not forsake assembling. We should stir each other up to love and good works. These should both happen “in light of” the return of Jesus. It is important to learn theology in community.

  • If we deliberately go on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there is no longer a sacrifice for sin. It’s referring someone who continues to reject the gospel. Contrasts the righteous who live by faith and the wicked who reject God by quoting Isaiah 26:20-21 and Habbakkuk 2:3-4.

  • Two literary devices used in Hebrews chapter 11 are the author’s use of “by faith” repeatedly for emphasis and the “example list” used for exhortation, not exposition. It encourages people to action by using overwhelming evidence. They were successful in spite of the difficulties they faced as marginalized people. Faith is not leaping out against the evidence. It is standing confidently based on what God has revealed to be true.

  • We look at Jesus in his exaltation to see his position as the superior high priest and thereby gives us stability, and in his incarnation because we follow his example of endurance. In a normal father-son relationship, the father disciplines the son. As children, we respected our earthly fathers. The goal of discipline is to produce holiness.

  • The author draws theological strands together to give a theological exhortation in a unique form to emphasize the power and blessings of the new covenant. A new covenant community is characterized by the active presence of God, joy and grace. The chapter finishes with a warning passage.

  • The essence of the community won’t change over time because Christ doesn’t change. As we are building bridges of communication to people in the culture, we are called to be distinct from the culture. The distinctness should not come from cultural trappings, but from identifying with Jesus and the gospel over and against the world system.

As Dr. Guthrie interacts with each verse, he explores not only the meaning of the text, but how we apply the theology of the text in our daily lives and ministries.

Course: Hebrews

Lecture: Hebrews 3:1-6


I. Overview

We now come to the first major block of exhortation in the book. There will be several blocks on this before returning to the exposition of the high priesthood of Jesus. These units of exhortation provide a step by step progress in them. The first unit, 3:1-6, deals with the faithfulness of Jesus as the Son. This flows on from what we read in 2:10-18 because of the concept of sonship. It is specifically dealing with Jesus’ faithfulness as a son. 3:7-19 is going to set up a contrast showing the lack of faithfulness on the part of those who wandered in the wilderness. You have this kind of continuing idea of faithfulness against unfaithfulness here. This unit then leads into the concept of rest where the author points out the consequences of their lack of faithfulness with God’s wrath saying that they shall never enter my rest. So, in chapter 4:1-11 the author will deal with the concept of rest that this rest is still available for the people of God. You move from a negative example of those in the wilderness into a promise of rest for those who are faithful to Christ. So, you have the faithfulness of Jesus, the unfaithfulness of those who wandered in the wilderness and the promise for those who are faithful; they can still obtain this rest. Then you have it combinate in the warning in Hebrews 4:12-13, that great passage on the Word of God comparing it to a sword.

II. Hebrews 3:1-6

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

A. Purpose and Process:

The process is a comparison of a synkrisis, This is a rhetorical device common in Jewish and Greco-Roman literature. The point was not to disparage the one to whom the main figure is being compared. In this case, the author here is not trying to put Moses down but is trying to show the excellence of Jesus in comparison to Moses who was held in high regard. This is actually the process. The purpose is on the faithfulness of Jesus. This unit is leading into an extended section that is tied together around the theme of faithfulness or in the case of those in the wilderness, their lack of faithfulness.

B. Text

1. Hebrews 3:1-2

1 όθεν (Whereupon,) αδελφοί (brethren) άγιοι (holy,) κλήσεως (calling) επουρανίου (of the heavenly) μέτοχοι (partakers,) κατανοήσατε (contemplate) τον (the) απόστολον (apostle) και (and) αρχιερέα (chief priest) της ομολογίας ημών (of our acknowledgment offering) -- χριστόν (Christ) Ιησούν (Jesus!)
2 πιστόν όντα (being trustworthy) τω (to the one) ποιήσαντι (appointing) αυτόν (him,) ως (as) και (also) Μωϋσης (Moses) εν (in) όλω (all) τω οίκω αυτού (his house.)

This reads companions of the heavenly calling. Contemplate is putting your attention on something; in this case it is the apostle and high priest of our confession. This is one of two places in the book where the author says to put your attention on Jesus. Here, perseverance is directly related to the clarity in which you see Jesus. So, put your attention on Jesus, the apostle and high priest. This is the only place in the New Testament where Jesus is regarding as an apostle. It isn’t clear what the author means in using this word and relating it to Jesus. It may have the concept of one being sent. Remember we have a lot of space-related elements in this book; Jesus comes, he is incarnate and accepting us as sons in glory. He is in Greek, piston, a word that ties it back to chapter 2, being faithful to the one appointing him as also Moses in all his house. So, consider Jesus being faithful to the one appointing him in his role as also Moses was in all of his house. You have the word host being a comparative element and the use of kie being translated as also. There is an adjunctive use concerning to kie here. This idea in using it is also or even. So, why is Moses being used here for the comparison? In some strands of Jewish tradition, Moses was considered the greatest person of history. You can understand this when thinking about his role in that particular era of history, especially with the Exodus. Some Jewish teaching referred to Moses as having a higher status that the angels themselves because of his special intimacy with God.

You see this in Exodus 33:11 where it says that the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent. In the apocryphal book of Syriac which dates from about 180 BC; he says that Moses was a Godly man who found favor in the sight of all and was beloved by God and people. His memory is blessed; he made him equal in glory to the holy ones and made him a great terror to his enemies. By his words, he performed miracles and the Lord glorified him in the presence of kings. He gave him commandments for his people and revealed to him his glory. His faithfulness and meekness, he consecrated him, choosing him out of all humankind. He allowed Moses to hear his voice and lead him into the dark cloud and gave him the commandments face to face, the law of life and knowledge so that he might teach Jacob the covenant and Israel his decrees. This Jewish passage shows us the great esteem that Jews had for Moses in this era. So Moses faithfulness to God was recognized and appreciated in broader Judaism. Some even expected the Messiah to be a new Moses. You have this hinted at in the Bread of Life discourse in John chapter 6. A book, Bread from Heaven shows what you have in John 6 is a sermon on the bread of life from the man in the wilderness with Jesus taking that in light of himself. You have this expectation that the Messiah would be a new Moses who would come onto the scene. The author is building on top of this high view of Moses and relating that view to Jesus. You should have even a greater view of Jesus in comparing him with Jesus.

2. Hebrews 3:3-4

3 πλείονος (more) γαρ (For) δόξης (glory) ούτος (this one) παρά (than) Μωϋσην (Moses) ηξίωται (has been counted worthy of,) καθ (on account of) όσον
(as much as) πλείονα (more) τιμήν (honor) έχει (has) του (than the) οίκου (house) ο (the one) κατασκευάσας (carefully preparing) αυτόν (the house.)
4 πας γαρ (For every) οίκος (house) κατασκευάζεται (is carefully prepared) υπό (by) τινος (someone,) ο δε (but the one) τα πάντα (the whole)
κατασκευάσας (carefully preparing) θεός (is God.)

Here we have a specific kind of argument or logic that is a bit difficult to follow in talking about a house. For this one is worthy of greater glory than Moses even as the builder, the one building the house has a greater honor than the house. For the moment, consider how we look at a house; it speaks of craftsmanship and ability of the builder. So, the author uses this argument to say that Jesus is worthy of glory than Moses even as a builder of house is worthy of more honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but known that God is the builder of all things. Why does he shift from Jesus being the builder of the house and then he talks about God building the house? This would relate more back to creation than subjection at the end. In 1 st Chronicles 17 shows a dominance of David dwelling in his house but God would not allow him to build God’s house. God says that he has been with David and blessed him, making his name like the great ones of the earth. Israel will dwell in the place I have for them with the wicked not wasting them anymore. God promises to subdue all of Israel’s enemies. The Lord will build a house for you and will set up a descendant after David who establishes his kingdom. He shall build for me a house and establish his throne forever. I will be his Father and he shall be my Son and I will not take my loving kindness away from him. I will settle him in my house and in my kingdom forever and his throne shall be established forever. Nathan spoke all of these words to David. One word that is being used here about God’s being consistent in doing this for David is the verb pistao in Greek. It is a term that expresses faithfulness. David says to the Lord, that there is none like you; you chose Israel as your people to make you a name to the nations around us. Let your word be established forever. So, there is a dominance of the theme of building a house. He even says that the Messiah will be over the house, the same phrase in chapter 3:6. You also have God building the house; you have the Messiah building the house for the Lord and you have the concept of faithfulness. So in Hebrews chapter 3 in this comparison with the house in verses 2 and 3, there is an echo of this 2nd Samuel 7 passage. Here the author is thinking of the Davidic house. This is what is behind this passage.

This is not just a concept with an analogy of a house; it has a rich messianic backdrop to it in 2nd Samuel 7. Jesus as the Messiah will be the one to build the house of God. In verse 5, you have a quotation from Numbers 12:7 about Moses being faithful in his whole house as a servant, but the more prominent passage is 2nd Samuel. The analogy that he is drawing here is that he is worthy of more glory than Moses because he wasn’t just a part of the house like Moses was; instead he was building God’s house. We can extend this to us as the house, as the temple of the Lord that was established through Christ in the New Covenant. Jesus built the house by the New Covenant sacrifice; you see this from verse 6 specifically. At the beginning of the quotation, you have the house of Israel mentioned in chapter 8:7. You have this idea of the house of Israel being redeemed in the New Covenant which leads into the new people of God. Verse 6 that talks about whose house we are if we hold fast to confession.

3. Hebrews 3:14:

You have a parallel statement to this in 3:14:

14 μέτοχοι (partakers) γαρ (For) γεγόναμεν (we have become) του (of the) χριστού (Christ,) εάνπερ (if indeed) την (the) αρχήν (beginning) της (of the)
υποστάσεως (support) μέχρι (until) τέλους (the end) βεβαίαν (firm) κατάσχωμεν (we should hold,)

He says that we have become companions of Christ if indeed the beginning of the support. The Greek word has the concept of something that underlies. You could translate it perhaps as confidence as well. This confidence is firm until the end. We hold on to that confidence until the end. So, we have become
his house if we hold fast to our confidence and our hope, thus we become his companions if we hang on to our confidence firm until the end. You have a statement of a fact plus a condition. I talked to Dan Wallace who has forgotten more Greek grammar than I will ever learn. You have here, several situations which are like this in the New Testament and they all have to do with the spiritual condition of people; that is, peoples relationship to God. You have a number of qualifications in Romans 8 and 9: you however are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit. This is a statement of fact; if the Spirit of God lives in you. Romans 8:17, now if we are children then we are heirs of God and co-heirs of Christ. Again, this is a statement of fact; if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may share in his glory. This is a qualification. Romans 11:22, consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God; sternness to those who fail but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Again, this is another qualification. 2 nd Corinthians 13:5, do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you. This is a statement of fact. It continues with a qualification: unless you faith the test. And finally Colossians 1:22-23: but now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to preserve you holy in his sight without blemish and free from actuation if you continue in your faith. This is another qualification.

I don’t think it is saying that a person can lose their salvation. He is making a statement of fact and then qualifying it. The reason for that is: he is dealing with a whole congregation of people spiritually across the spectrum. My friend, Scott McKnight has an article on the warning passages in Hebrews; he comes from an Armenian viewpoint saying that all these people are Christians which the author is addressing. I think the author is dealing with congregations like we deal with. You have people dealing very well with the faith where others aren’t. You have some that aren’t even believers. This relates to the broader theological concept of knowing people by their fruit. He can’t look into everyone’s hearts but instead he is giving a statement of theological fact in giving encouragement but he qualifies it saying that if you are of Christ’s house, then you will hold fast; you will persevere. I think this has implications for how we deal with the concept of assurance of salvation in our churches. Within the Baptist context, the way that assurance is found is by perseverance in following Christ.

Practical examples of this include a person producing fruit, for you really can’t see their heart. In the concept of wheat and tars, there may be situations where a person looks lost. And in the eschaton, they will have been found to have been saved but lacking growth. You have another similar person that will be shown to be lost. If a person is living like the devil, I have no right to give them assurance of their salvation. I don’t care what their past experience has been. So, if a person is living like the devil, I do not want to try to give them assurance for a salvation they may not have. But how do I help a person to understand an assurance of salvation? That assurance deals with who we are depending on for our salvation; it is a commitment to Christ. If you see a person bearing fruit for Christ, assurance involves where a person places their trust. It is holding fast to the confidence in Christ. Past actions of
commitment is being baptized, but a person may need to be re-baptized is their baptism wasn’t a commitment to Christ. Another implication and indeed controversial issue is the demonstration of producing fruit before being baptized. Some churches require you to go through a new member’s class
before you are baptized to make sure you understand the Gospel. As Baptists, we often place a great deal on the event. So, you have this event of salvation which is coming into the new covenant. It is also being saved and that I will be saved at the end of the age. Hebrews talks about the salvation that Christ
is bringing forth at the end of the age. This is the way the word salvation is used in Hebrews. Hebrews also uses the concept of sanctification, not as spiritual maturation but as cleansing from sin upon entrance into the new covenant. So, salvation is not just an event; salvation is continuing in the faith;
otherwise you may have a false hope. There are lots of interesting issues in regards to salvation and living a life for Christ. But in this conditional construction here, we have a very pastoral issue that the author is dealing with.