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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

Hebrews 3

Verse 1

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 [οθεν] . Drawing a conclusion from ch. 2 9 - 18.

Holy brethren [αδελφοι αγιοι] . The phrase N. T. o. jAdelfoi brethren, in address, is not found in the Gospels. In Acts mostly andrev aJudelfoi brother men. In Paul, ajd. ajgaphtoi brethren beloved, or ajd. ajgap. kai ejpipoqhtoi brethren beloved and longed for (once, Philippians 4:1), ajd. hjgaphmenoi ujpo tou qeou and tou kuriou brethren beloved of God or of the Lord, and ajd. mou my brethren. In James mostly ajd. mou. In Hebrews, except here, aJudelfoi simply. Holy brethren (see ch. 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 [κλησεως επουρανιου μετοχοι] . Metocoi partakers only in Hebrews except Luke 5:7. See on metescen took part, ch. 2 14. The phrase heavenly calling N. T. o. Comp. thv avw klhsewv the upward calling, Philippians 3:14. The expression points to the lordship of the world to be (ch. 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 ch. Hebrews 13:14. Consider [κατανοησατε] . 179 Attentively, thoughtfully [κατα] . 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 [τον αποστολον και αρχιερεα] . In calling Jesus apostle, the writer is thinking of Moses as one sent by God to lead Israel to Canaan. Comp. LXX, where ajpostellein to send is often used of Moses. See Exodus 3 - 7. Often of Jesus, as Luke 10:16; John 3:17; John 5:36; John 6:29.

Of our profession [της ομολογιας ημων] . Rend. confession for profession. The apostle and high priest whom we confess. Comp. 1 Timothy 6:12.

Verse 2

Who was faithful [πιστον οντα] . Rend. "is faithful." A general designation of inherent character. He is faithful as he ever was. To him that appointed him [τω ποιησαντι αυτον] . 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. Poiein 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 [ως και μωυσης] . The highest example of human fidelity known to the readers.

In all his house [εν ολω τω οικω αυτου] . 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 [ηξιωται] . Used both of reward which is due (1 Timothy 5:17) and of punishment (Hebrews 10:29).

Of more glory [πλειονος δοξης] . Comp. ch. Hebrews 2:8, Hebrews 2:9.

Inasmuch as [καθ οσον] . 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 [ο παντα κατασκευασας θεος] . The verb includes not only erection, but furnishing with the entire equipment. See ch. Hebrews 9:2; 1 Peter 2:10. The verb o P. The application of built or established to Christ (ver. 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. Kai and introduces the further development of the thought of vers. 2, 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 [θεραπων] . N. T. o. Comp. Revelation 14:3. Often in LXX, mostly as translation of 'eber, servant, slave, bondman. Also, when coupled with the name of a deity, a worshipper, devotee. Sometimes applied to angels or prophets. Of Moses, qerapwn kuriou servant of 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 qerapeuein : service of an affectionate, hearty character, performed with care and fidelity. Hence the relation of the qerapwn is of a nobler and freer character than that of the doulov or bondservant. The verb is used of a physician 's tendance of the sick. Xenophon (Mem. 4 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 [εις μαρτυριον των λαληθησομενων] . jEiv for, with 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 [ως υιος] . 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 [επι τον οικον αυτου] . Comp. ch. Hebrews 10:21, and notice ejpi over his house, and ejn in all 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. ch. Hebrews 5:8. The implication is that Christ 's position involved peculiar difficulties and temptations.

Whose house [ου] . God 's house. The church is nowhere called the house of Christ.

We [ημεις] . 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 [κατασξωμεν] . The verb is used in N. T. as here, 1 Thessalonians 5:21; Philippians 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 [την παρρησιαν και το καυχημα της ελπιδος] . The combination confidence and rejoicing N. T. o. Rejoicing or boasting of hope N. T. o, but comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:19. For parrhsia confidence see on 1 Timothy 3:13. The entire group of words, kauchma ground of glorying, kauchsiv act of glorying, and kaucasqai to glory, is peculiarly Pauline. Outside of the Pauline letters kaucasqai occurs only James 1:9; James 4:16; kauchsiv only James 4:16; and kauchma 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 (ejlpidov 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; Philippians 3:3. Firm unto the end [μεχρι τελους βεβαιαν] . 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 Psalms 95:7, Psalms 95:8.

Verse 7

Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith [διο καθως λεγει το πνευμα το αγιον] . See on ch. 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 : Dio wherefore is connected with blepete take heed, ver. 12. The point is the writer's warning, not the warning of the citation. The whole citation including the introductory formula, down to rest, ver. 11, is parenthetical. Today if ye will hear his voice [σημερον εαν της φωνης αυτου ακουσητε] . 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 [μη σκληρυνητε] . In N. T. mostly in this epistle. Comp. Acts 19:9; Romans 9:18, see note. The group of kindred words consists of sklhrov hard (see on Matthew 25:0; Matthew 24:0; Jude 1:14); sklyrothv hardness (Romans 2:5); sklhrunein to harden (Acts 19:9; Romans 9:18); and the compounds sklhrokardia hardness of heart (Matthew 19:8; Mark 10:5), and sklhrotrachlov stiff - necked (Acts 7:0; Acts 5:0). All occur in LXX, with the addition of sklhrwv hardly, painfully (not in N. T.). In the provocation [εν τω παραπικρασμω] . Only here and ver. 15. In LXX only Psalms 94:8. The verb parapikraineinto provoke, only in ver. 16. Often in LXX The simple verb pikrainein to make bitter, Colossians 3:19; Revelation 8:11; Revelation 10:9, Revelation 10:10. From pikrov bitter, pungent : hence to stir up to bitterness, to irritate. Comp. LXX Ezekiel 2:4. In the day (kata thn hJmeran). Kata in a temporal sense, as Acts 12:1; Acts 19:23; Acts 27:27. Comp. kat' ajrcav in the beginning, ch. 1 10. Of temptation [του πειρασμου] . 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, peirasmov temptation, which is correct, and loidorhsiv railing or reviling, which is loose, since Meribah signifies strife. 181 In Psalms 94:0, LXX renders Meribah parapikrasmov provocation, which is inexact, and Massah peirasmov temptation, which is correct.

Verse 9

When [ου] . Rend. where. See ou= after erhmov wilderness, Deuteronomy 8:15.

Tempted me, proved me [επειρασαν εν δοκιμασια] . Lit. tried (me) in proving. The text differs from LXX, which reads ejpeirasan, ejdokimasan tempted, proved, as A. V. The phrase here means tempted by putting to the test. Comp. ejkpeirazein to tempt or try with a view to seeing how far one can go. See on 1 Corinthians 10:9.

And saw my works [και ειδον τα εργα μου] . Some construe my works with both verbs : tried and saw my works : but it is better to supply me after ejpeirasan tempted, to take works with saw only, and to give kaithe 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 [διο προσωχθισα] . The Hebrew omits wherefore. It was inserted because of the transfer of forty years to the preceding clause. The verb proswcqisa I was grieved, only here and ver.

Hebrews 3:17In LXX for qo, to spue out; gaal, to exclude, reject, abhor; ma'as, to repudiate.

Hebrews 3:11So I swear [ως] . Rend. "according as I swear" : the wJv correlating the oath and the disobedience.

They shall not enter into my rest [ει ελευσονται εις την καταπαυσιν 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. Katapausin rest, only in Hebrews, and Acts 7:49. The verb katapauein to lay 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 klhronomia inheritance in a similar sense.

Verse 12

Note how the following exhortation is colored by the O. T. citation : evil heart; the today; be hardened; take heed [βλεπετε] . See to it. Often in warnings or admonitions : sometimes with ajpo from, with 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 dio ver. 7; therefore beware. Lest there be [μηποτε εσται] . The indicative with mh lest shows that with the fear that the event may occur, there is blended a suspicion that it will occur.

In any of you [εν τινι υμων] . They are appealed to individually. An evil head of unbelief [καρδια πονηρα απιστιας] . The hole phrase N. T. o. Neither do the combinations evil heart or heart of unbelief occur elsewhere. In LXX, among nearly a thousand instances of kardia heart, kardia ponhra evil heart appears only five times, and in three of the five in apocryphal books. See Sir. 9 1; Bar 1 22; Mark 2:8. In LXX proper, Jeremiah 16:12; Jeremiah 18:12. jApistiav of unbelief, specifies that in which the more general ponhra evil consists. An evil - heart is an unbelieving heart. In departing from the living God [εν τω αποστηναι απο θεου ζωντος] . 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 today [αρχις ου το σημερον καλειται] . Lit. so long as the today is being named. The article points to the former expression - the "today" of ver. 7. It is the day of grace, while salvation through Christ is still attainable.

Through the deceitfulness of sin [απατη της αμαριας] . jApath 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 [μετοχοι γαρ του χριστου γεγοναμεν] . 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 [την αρχην της υποστασεως] . The believing confidence with which we began our Christian life. For uJpostasiv confidence see on ch. Hebrews 1:3. The Greek fathers render substance; that in virtue of which we are believers.

Unto the end [μεχρι τελους] . 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; Philippians 3:19; Hebrews 6:8; 1 Peter 1:9.

Verse 15

While it is said [εν τω λεγεσθαι] . The formula by which the writer reverts to the previous citation. Connect with if we hold fast. The exhortation of ver. 12 answered to Psalms 95:0; so the condition of fulfillment in ver. 14 is 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 [τινες γαρ ακουσαντες παρεπικραναν] . Rend. who, when they heard, did provoke ? The interrogative tinev 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 [αλλ ου παντες] . Wrong. The interrogation should be continued. Who were they? But [αλλ] 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

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

Carcasses [τα κωλα] . N. T. o. LXX for peger, a corpse. Kwlon 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 katestrwqhsan ejn th ejrhmw were strewn down along in the wilderness.

Verse 18

To them that believed not [τοις απειθησασιν] . Rend. to them that disobeyed. ===Hebrews 4:0


Christian salvation, having been presented as lordship over the world to come, and as deliverance from the fear of death, is now to be presented as participation in the rest of God. The purpose of vers. 1 - 11 is to confirm the hope of that rest, and to warn against forfeiting it. There is a possibility of your forfeiting it. The rest of God was proclaimed to your forefathers, but they did not enter into it because of their unbelief. It has been proclaimed to you. You may fail as did they, and for the same reason.

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The text of this work is public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Hebrews 3". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.