ISRAEL IN THE
As Moses especially was the prophet by whom "God in times past spake to
the fathers," being the mediator of the law, Paul deems it necessary
now to show that, great as was Moses, the Son of God is greater.
EBRARD in ALFORD remarks, The
angel of the covenant came in the name of God before Israel; Moses in
the name of Israel before God; whereas the high priest came both
in the name of God (bearing the name JEHOVAH on
his forehead) before Israel, and in the name of Israel (bearing the
names of the twelve tribes on his breast) before God
(Ex 28:9-29, 36, 38).
Now Christ is above the angels, according to the first and second
chapters because (1) as Son of God He is higher; and (2) because
manhood, though originally lower than angels, is in Him exalted above
them to the lordship of "the world to come," inasmuch as He is at once
Messenger of God to men, and also atoning Priest-Representative of men
(Heb 2:17, 18).
Parallel with this line of argument as to His superiority to angels
runs that which here follows as to His superiority to Moses
(1) because as Son over the house; He is above the
servant in the house
(Heb 3:5, 6),
just as the angels were shown to be but ministering
whereas He is the Son
(Heb 3:7, 8);
(2) because the bringing of Israel into the promised rest, which was
not finished by Moses, is accomplished by Him
through His being not merely a leader and lawgiver as Moses, but also a
propitiatory High Priest
(Heb 4:14; 5:10).
1. Wherefore--Greek, "Whence," that is, seeing we have
such a sympathizing Helper you ought to "consider attentively,"
"contemplate"; fix your eyes and mind on Him with a view to profiting
by the contemplation
The Greek word is often used by Luke, Paul's companion
(Lu 12:24, 27).
brethren--in Christ, the common bond of union.
partakers--"of the Holy Ghost."
heavenly calling--coming to us from heaven, and leading us to
heaven whence it comes.
"the high calling"; Greek "the calling above," that is,
the Apostle and High Priest of our profession--There is but one
Greek article to both nouns, "Him who is at once Apostle and
High Priest"--Apostle, as Ambassador (a higher designation than
"angel"-messenger) sent by the Father
pleading the cause of God with us; High Priest, as pleading
our cause with God. Both His Apostleship and High
Priesthood are comprehended in the one title, Mediator
[BENGEL]. Though the title "Apostle" is nowhere
else applied to Christ, it is appropriate here in addressing Hebrews,
who used the term of the delegates sent by the high priest to collect
the temple tribute from Jews resident in foreign countries, even as
Christ was Delegate of the Father to this world far off from Him
Hence as what applies to Him, applies also to His people, the Twelve
are designated His apostles, even as He is the Father's
It was desirable to avoid designating Him here "angel," in order to
distinguish His nature from that of angels mentioned before, though he
is "the Angel of the Covenant." The "legate of the Church" (Sheliach
Tsibbur) offered up the prayers in the synagogue in the name of
all, and for all. So Jesus, "the Apostle of our profession," is
delegated to intercede for the Church before the Father. The
words "of our profession," mark that it is not of the legal ritual, but
of our Christian faith, that He is the High Priest. Paul compares Him
as an Apostle to Moses; as High Priest to Aaron. He alone holds
both offices combined, and in a more eminent degree than either, which
those two brothers held apart.
profession--"confession," corresponds to God having
spoken to us by His Son, sent as Apostle and High Priest. What
God proclaims we confess.
2. He first notes the feature of resemblance between
Moses and Christ, in order to conciliate the Hebrew Christians whom He
addressed, and who still entertained a very high opinion of Moses; he
afterwards brings forward Christ's superiority to Moses.
Who was faithful--The Greek implies also that He still is
faithful, namely, as our mediating High Priest, faithful to the trust
God has assigned Him
So Moses in God's house
appointed him--"made Him" HIGH
PRIEST; to be supplied from the preceding context.
Greek, "made"; so in
so the Greek fathers. Not as ALFORD, with
AMBROSE and the Latins, "created Him," that
is, as man, in His incarnation. The likeness of Moses to Messiah was
foretold by Moses himself
Other prophets only explained Moses, who was in this respect
superior to them; but Christ was like Moses, yet superior.
3. For--assigning the reason why they should "consider"
highly as they regard Moses who resembled Him in faithfulness
was--Greek, "has been."
counted worthy of more glory--by God, when He exalted Him to His
own right hand. The Hebrew Christians admitted the fact
builded the house--Greek, "inasmuch as He hath more honor
than the house, who prepared it," or "established it"
[ALFORD]. The Greek verb is used purposely
instead of "builded," in order to mark that the building meant is not a
literal, but a spiritual house: the Church both of the Old Testament
and New Testament; and that the building of such a house includes all
the preparations of providence and grace needed to furnish it
with "living stones" and fitting "servants." Thus, as Christ the
Founder and Establisher (in Old Testament as well as the New Testament)
is greater than the house so established, including the servants, He is
greater also than Moses, who was but a "servant." Moses, as a servant,
is a portion of the house, and less than the house; Christ, as the
Instrumental Creator of all things, must be God, and so greater than
the house of which Moses was but a part. Glory is the result of
4. Someone must be the establisher of every house; Moses was not
the establisher of the house, but a portion of it (but He who
established all things, and therefore the spiritual house in
question, is God). Christ, as being instrumentally the Establisher of
all things, must be the Establisher of the house, and so greater than
5. faithful in all his house--that is in all
servant--not here the Greek for "slave," but "a
ministering attendant"; marking the high office of Moses towards God,
though inferior to Christ, a kind of steward.
for a testimony of, &c.--in order that he might in his typical
institutions give "testimony" to Israel "of the things" of the Gospel
"which were to be spoken afterwards" by Christ
(Heb 8:5; 9:8, 23; 10:1).
6. But Christ--was and is faithful
as a son over his own house--rather, "over His
house"; and therefore, as the inference from His being one with
God, over His own house. So
"having an High Priest over the house of God." Christ enters His
Father's house as the Master [OVER it], but Moses
as a servant [IN it,
Heb 3:2, 5]
[CHRYSOSTOM]. An ambassador in the absence of the
king is very distinguished--in the presence of the king he falls back
into the multitude [BENGEL].
whose house are we--Paul and his Hebrew readers. One old
manuscript, with Vulgate and LUCIFER,
reads, "which house"; but the weightiest manuscripts support
English Version reading.
the rejoicing--rather, "the matter of rejoicing."
of the hope--"of our hope." Since all our good things lie
in hopes, we ought so to hold fast our hopes as already to rejoice, as
though our hopes were realized [CHRYSOSTOM].
firm unto the end--omitted in LUCIFER and
AMBROSE, and in one oldest
manuscript, but supported by most oldest manuscripts.
7-11. Exhortation from
not through unbelief to lose participation in the spiritual house.
Seeing that we are the house of God if we hold fast our confidence
. . .
Jesus is "faithful," be not ye unfaithful
(Heb 3:2, 12).
The sentence beginning with "wherefore," interrupted by the parenthesis
confirming the argument from
is completed at
"Take heed," &c.
Holy Ghost saith--by the inspired Psalmist; so that the words of
the latter are the words of God Himself.
To-day--at length; in David's day, as contrasted with the days
of Moses in the wilderness, and the whole time since then, during which
they had been rebellious against God's voice; as for instance, in the
The Psalm, each fresh time when used in public worship, by "to-day,"
will mean the particular day when it was, or is, used.
his voice--of grace.
8. Harden not your hearts--This phrase here only is used of
man's own act; usually of God's act
When man is spoken of as the agent in hardening, the phrase usually is,
"harden his neck," or "back"
provocation . . . temptation--"Massah-meribah,"
translated in Margin "tentation . . . chiding," or
Both names seem to refer to that one event, the murmuring of the people
against the Lord at Rephidim for want of water. The first offense
especially ought to be guarded against, and is the most severely
reproved, as it is apt to produce many more.
and De 33:8
mention a second similar occasion in the wilderness of Sin, near
Kadesh, also called Meribah.
in the day--Greek, "according to the day of."
9. When--rather, "Where," namely, in the wilderness.
your fathers--The authority of the ancients is not
tempted me, proved me--The oldest manuscripts read, "tempted
(Me) in the way of testing," that is, putting (Me) to the proof
whether I was able and willing to relieve them, not believing that I am
saw my works forty years--They saw, without being led thereby to
repentance, My works of power partly in affording miraculous help,
partly in executing vengeance, forty years. The "forty years" joined in
the Hebrew and Septuagint, and below,
with "I was grieved," is here joined with "they saw." Both are true;
for, during the same forty years that they were tempting God by
unbelief, notwithstanding their seeing God's miraculous works, God was
being grieved. The lesson intended to be hinted to the Hebrew
Christians is, their "to-day" is to last only between the first
preaching of the Gospel and Jerusalem's impending overthrow, namely,
FORTY YEARS; exactly the number of years of
Israel's sojourn in the wilderness, until the full measure of their
guilt having been filled up all the rebels were overthrown.
10. grieved--displeased. Compare "walk contrary,"