The author of Hebrews
after showing that Jesus Christ is better than the
prophets and the angels draws a comparison between
Christ and Moses. In an unmistakable manner he
stresses Christ's superiorities, but is careful not
to offend this Jewish readers.
The first readers were
tempted to forsake Jesus for Moses. To do so would
only repeat the unfaithfulness as in Moses day in a
greater way because Jesus is far greater than Moses.
JESUS IS GREATER THAN
brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider
Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our
confession; He was faithful to Him who appointed
Him, as Moses also was in all His house" (Hebrews
It is interesting that
only in the letter to the Hebrews is Christ called
"High Priest" numerous times (Heb 2:17; 4:14f; 5:5,
10; 6:20; 7:26, 28; 8:1, 3; 9:11; 10:21).
Both Moses and
Christ were faithful to God.
"Holy brethren" (adelphos
hagios) are fellow Christians or Christian
brothers. They are believers, saints, the set apart
ones who have been set apart for God (Gal. 1:11; 1
Cor. 1:2; Col. 1:2, etc). The stress is on our
position in salvation. The adjective "holy" stresses
that they have been sanctified by Jesus the
sanctifier. The brethren are holy because they are
made holy by Jesus. "For both He who sanctifies and
those who are sanctified are all from one Father;
for which reason He is not ashamed to call them
brethren" (Hebrews 2:11; cf. 1 Cor. 1:2). He is
their High Priest who has made "purification for the
sins of the people" (v. 17). The brothers have been
sanctified and may enter into the presence of a holy
God. Their sins have been removed by the suffering
death of Jesus. To say the believers are "holy" does
not imply they are holy in themselves, but they are
"sanctified" or "consecrated" because they have been
chosen and set apart by God.
Christians are "partakers
of a heavenly calling" because of the effectual call
of God to salvation. The effectual call comes from
heaven and is to heaven in its appeal. This heavenly
calling in the letters of Paul always refers to the
successful and accepted call of God. The heavenly
calling of God is irrevocable (Rom. 11:29). "I pray
that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so
that you will know what is the hope of His calling,
what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance
in the saints" (Ephesians 1:18; cf. 4:1, 4). God
"who has saved us and called us with a holy calling,
not according to our works, but according to His own
purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ
Jesus from all eternity" (2 Timothy 1:9).
We are "partakers of the
heavenly calling" because Christ became one of us
through His incarnation. God issued the call. We are
brothers because we share in the heavenly call. We
share in everything Christ has. "What He has, we
have; where He is, we are. He is the Hoy One of God,
therefore we are holy. He has been 'made higher than
the heavens,' therefore we are 'partakers of the
heavenly calling'" observes A. W. Pink. Where our
treasure is, there will be our hearts also. Christ
is our Treasure, therefore consider Him.
There is personal
responsibility that goes with that calling.
"Consider Jesus" (katanoesate) denotes
serious attention, to fix one's eyes or mind on
something to study it carefully. It is the action of
the mind to apprehend certain facts about a thing.
It means to direct one's whole mind to an object or
to immerse oneself in the study. This is not a quick
fleeting momentary look at Jesus, but a careful
continuous observation and consideration so one can
understand fully. The readers of this letter were
slowly allowing their attention to drift away from
Christ. They were losing their focus.
Nowhere else in the New
Testament is Jesus called an "apostle." However,
Jesus spoke often of being sent by His Father (Luke
10:16; John 3:17, 34; 5:23, 30, 36-38, 43; 6:29, 57;
7:16, 29; 8:42; 10:36; 11:42; 12:49; 13:3; 17:3;
20:21; 1 John 4:10). The author of Hebrews
deliberately chooses to call Him "the Apostle," and
he reserves the word for Christ. God sent Jesus on
His mission as His official representative and
spokesman. Apostolos is one who is sent
forth such as an ambassador empowered with all of
the authority to represent the person and speak for
the one who sends him. He cannot speak his own
opinion. He can speak only the words his superior
give him. The person sent is on a commission to do
something. Moses was sent by God (Exodus 3:10), but
in the person of Jesus God has spoken His final
word. "For the Law was given through Moses; grace
and truth were realized through Jesus Christ" (John
Moses was faithful in the
household of God (Num. 12:7), and so was Jesus (Heb.
3:2). Each was faithful, but Jesus has infinitely
superior glory because He is on an entirely
different and vastly higher rank (v. 3). The "house"
is God's house, and refers to God's people.
There is another reason
why Jesus is exalted in higher glory than Moses.
Moses was never called a high priest. We have been
introduced to the "merciful and faithful high priest
in the things pertaining to God" in Hebrews 2:17. He
has made "propitiation for the sins of the people."
The very mention of Him would cause the readers to
remember the Day of Atonement. Jesus takes away sins
so that God's wrath does not fall upon the sinner.
Only the blood of Jesus could ultimately and
actually cover our sins and deal with our sin
problem. What the blood of bulls could not do, Jesus
did in His atoning death (Heb. 10:4). In Hebrews
4:14 Jesus is called "the great High Priest" for
indeed He is. Moses could never provide
eternal salvation, but Jesus the Son of God and
great High Priest did.
Now the author of Hebrews
tells us Jesus is the "High Priest" who represents a
holy God before men, and men before God. He is the
perfect High Priest because He is the perfect man
and perfect God. He is the God-man. He is the only
person through whom man comes before God and God
comes to man. He is able to assist us as we undergo
temptation. No angel was ever qualified to represent
us before God. As a faithful High Priest He is
worthy of our confession.
As the Apostle sent from
God Jesus brought God's message to men and returned
to heaven as our great High Priest to represent us
before God. Jesus was far greater in glory than
Moses and Aaron. The writer has compared Moses to an
apostle, and Aaron the first high priest of Israel.
The functions of these two brothers was perfectly
combined and fulfilled in the one person Jesus. In
the person and work of Jesus there comes together
the apostolic and high-priestly function in one
person. He came as the apostle of God in order as
the High Priest of God to give His life as an
atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Jesus is the Apostle and
High Priest of our confession (homologias).
The author of Hebrews uses the human name "Jesus" to
stress the work of Jesus for us on the earth with
the two titles to declare our confession of Him as
God's supreme Apostle and High Priest. "Confession
is a better translation than profession, means to
speak the same thing as another or to agree with
someone else. We have received the final word of God
through the teaching and preaching of Jesus Christ
and we wholeheartedly agree with what He has said.
We, therefore, must consider attentively and
thoughtfully what God has said through His Apostle.
Jesus "was faithful to
Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His
house" (Hebrews 3:2). God the Father appointed Jesus
to be the mediator between God and men. Thank God
Jesus was faithful to God in providing expiation and
cleansing of all of our sins. If Jesus had not been
faith in His calling we would still be in our sins.
Shall we lose all of His faithfulness by refusing to
trust in Him? The author proceeds to a strong
warning. Only those who have been cleansed by His
atoning sacrifice can be faithful to Him.
Jesus "was faithful" is a
present participle meaning that the work God
appointed Jesus to accomplish was not terminated
when He was on the earth, but continues in heaven.
Jesus continues to be faithful in His office as High
Priest. He was faithful in accomplishing our
salvation and He remains faithful.
The term "house" is a
synonym for the family of God. "We have a great
priest over the house of God" (Hebrews 10:21).
Moses was a part of
the house Christ built (Heb. 3:3-4).
"For He has been counted
worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as
the builder of the house has more honor than the
house. For every house is built by someone, but the
builder of all things is God" (Hebrews 3:3-4).
No matter how majestic a
building may be the architect who designed and built
it gets more glory than the building itself.
In the analogy of the
house God is the architect and Jesus is the builder
of God's house. Moses is a servant in God's house.
Moses' faithfulness is not in question. Since God
built everything, and Jesus Christ built God's
house, Jesus is God.
God the Father builds
everything through His Son. Jesus is the founder and
constructs the spiritual house of God. Because
Christ constructs God's house, He is worthy of
greater honor than Moses. He is seated at the right
hand of Majesty on high (Heb. 1:3).
The faithfulness of Moses
is not less than that of Jesus. Both were faithful.
Moses considered the reproach of Christ greater
riches than the treasures of Egypt (Heb. 11:26).
However, the relation of Moses to the house was less
than the relation of Jesus to that same house
because Jesus built the house. God who made Jesus
the Apostle and High Priest crowned Him with a
greater honor and glory.
God promised David that
He would build a house for him and a son would build
a house for Him (1 Chron. 17:10-12). Jesus fulfilled
that promise as the eternal Son. The LORD God builds
the "house," and the incarnate Son belongs to the
line of David, and therefore builds the "house" by
His atoning sacrifice for sin.
The one who built the
house not only constructed it, but planned it and
provided the furnishings. He is the master builder.
Moses was considered part of the household of faith,
but He who built all things is God. Moses was only
"in" the house, but Jesus built the whole house and
made Moses what he was in God's house. The Son was
"over" the house. The important thing the author of
Hebrews is stressing is the deity of Jesus. In verse
three Christ has been stated to be the builder of
the house of God. For the author of Hebrews Jesus is
God's unique, one of a kind Son. Moreover in verse
four the deity of Christ is intended. Jesus is
worthy of much more glory than Moses because He did
not cease to be the eternal Son. He was both Moses'
God and His Redeemer. Moses was not without sin; he
needed a savior.
As the Redeemer Jesus
Christ is the builder of the house of God's people
who as "living stones" are "built into a spiritual
house" and a "holy temple" (1 Pet. 2:5; Eph. 2:21).
Jesus is both servant and sovereign.
Christ is the Son
over God's house (Heb. 3:5-6)
"Now Moses was faithful
in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of
those things which were to be spoken later; but
Christ was faithful as a Son over His house whose
house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the
boast of our hope firm until the end" (Hebrews
"Moses was faithful in
all His house as a servant" is a quotation from
Numbers 12:6, 7. The Jewish people could not imagine
of anyone standing closer to God than Moses. The
author of Hebrews does not disparage the
faithfulness of Moses by quoting Numbers 12:7 in the
Moses was a servant "in"
God's house; Christ is a Son "over" God's house.
Moses was servant, but Christ is the absolute
sovereign over the house.
Moses' standing as a
servant corresponds to the angels who are servants
to the heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14).
The word used to describe
Moses as a "servant" is therapon which
connotes a willingness to serve, personal service
freely rendered out of love and is an honorable
position. This word is in contrast to the word
"servant" (doulos) signifying one who must
serve as a slave. Moses served with dignity. In the
New Testament the word therapon is used only
As a servant Moses
prophesied of the coming of Christ (Deu. 18:15-18).
Moses was faith in God's house as a servant who
communicated faithfully God's words to Israel, but
Christ is faithful as a Son who is the Apostle and
High Priest. Therefore, Christ is greater than
Moses. Moses was only a part of the house, but
Christ was the creator of the house. Moses was a
spokesman of the law, but Christ is the living Word
of God. Moses pointed to the coming of one who was
greater than himself, but Christ is the one of whom
Moses wrote. Moses knew something about God, but
Christ was God.
The author of Hebrews
makes it very clear that Christian believers are
involved in this house of God. There is one house in
view throughout this passage. All true believers are
represented by this house of God or household of
faith. When we consider the Old Testament as well as
the New it is thrilling to observe that the
preexistent Son was also the builder in the Old.
The conditional sentence
"if we hold fast our confidence and boast of our
hope firm until the end" insists on the fact that
continuance in the Christian faith is the test of
reality. You will know them by their fruits. This is
a repeated theme in Hebrews. The doctrine of the
perseverance of the saints insists that believers
are people who persevere to the end.
Jesus' parable of the
sower gives great instruction on interpreting these
conditional sentences in the letter to the Hebrews.
The rocky ground did not last long. It had no root
system. The sprout sprung up and quickly died
(Matthew 13:19-22). That is the concern of the
writer. "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped
for, the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews
Don't abandon your faith
in Christ for Judaism. To do so would demonstrate
that they had never really become new creatures in
Christ. "Hold fast (katanoein) our confidence" (parrhesia)
to fix the attention on something so that one can
learn its inner meaning. The call of God demands our
concentrated gaze. True regenerated believers will
persevere to the end. They will keep their focus on
Christ. We look ahead to the consummation of our
salvation when Christ returns.
Our "confidence" (parrhesia)
is translated boldness, frankness, openness,
What is the household of
God today over which Christ rules? It is comprised
of all believers. There is only one continuous
household of God which goes back to Abel, Enoch,
Noah, Abraham and Moses. Hebrews chapter eleven
demonstrates this fact. Speaking of Gentile
believers the apostle Paul wrote, "So then you are
no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow
citizens with the saints [Jewish Old Testament
believers], and are of God's household," (Ephesians
The title "Christ" is
first mentioned here, and means "Messiah" or
"anointed one." The personal name "Jesus, "Yahweh is
salvation" was first mentioned in 2:9.
We are members of God's
house if we have put our trust in Christ. Our "hope"
is the glory of which we are assured that God will
bring many sons to glory (Heb. 2:10). Jesus has
already been crowned with that glory and honor (Heb.
2:9). We are co-heirs with Him in glory (Heb. 1:2,
14; Rom. 8:17).
PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS
Jesus Christ as the
Apostle of God who uttered God's final Word. God
spoke in the person of the Son, the Second Person of
the Trinity, who Himself is the Word. Therefore, we
had better pay perfect attention to Him. "For if you
believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote
about Me" (John 5:46).
Jesus as our great High
Priest offered Himself so that the shedding of His
blood covered all our sins. "Therefore, having been
justified by faith, we have peace with God through
our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).
We must pay attention to
God's Word if we are God's house and members of His
household. Continuance in the Christian life is the
test of reality that we have that life. The saints
are the people who persevere to the end.
A Christian's eternal
security is not dependent upon himself and what he
does, but on Christ and His merits. You either have
eternal life or you do not.
Security in Christ does
not absolve personal responsibility in living the
Christian life. Any person whose profession of faith
contradicts the quality of his life should examine
himself to see whether he is a true believer in
Christ or not.
3:1-6 Christ is Superior to Moses