Hebrews 3:1-6

Chapter 3 follows 1 and 2 in beautiful order. For “the Apostle and High Priest of our confession” answers to the chapters before: the first of these titles of Christ being specially connected with His being Son of God, as the second is with that of Son of Man. He comes from God to man on earth; He goes from man to God in heaven. And this is largely, though not entirely, the reason why the writer was led not to speak of himself as an apostle. He had it as his task to present Christ as the Apostle. This might have been enough for one whose reverence was guided unerringly by the Holy Spirit. We can understand why he forbore to speak of himself or any other when so speaking of Him; even if there had not been the gracious reason of not so introducing himself beyond his allotted sphere of the uncircumcision. And we may notice the further and not unimportant or uninteresting fact that, in writing to the Hebrew believers, he is exercising the function of a teacher, rather than of an apostle, however truly he was this. He is unfolding the treasures of the O. T. in the light of Christ, of His blood and presence in heaven most particularly. And thus we are indebted to the exceptional circumstances in which the Epistle was written that it is the richest specimen of inspired teaching in the Bible, more than any other affording and applying the key of Christ's work and position and offices, and grace and glory in all; to unlock what had otherwise been to us hard and obscure. What an incentive and aid to encourage us to follow in the same path in our poor measure, by His grace Who so enabled him! Were all the commentaries that are extant on the O.T. to be effaced, is it too much to say that it would be a real gain if the Lord’s servants betook themselves afresh to its study with a believing use of this single Epistle to the Hebrews? Certain it is that few have adequately profited by it, because they have so much tradition to unlearn; and that the mass even of saints are so steeped in preconceived ideas that the simple yet profound truth it presents is foreclosed and escapes them.
Christ's apostleship leads to the comparison with Moses, as His high priesthood with that of Aaron, the main topic in a large part of the treatise.
“Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Jesus; faithful as He is to Him that appointed Him, as also [was] Moses, in all His house. For He hath been accounted worthy of more glory than Moses, by so much as He that built the house hath more honor than it. For every house is builded by some one; but He that built all things [is] God. And Moses indeed [was] faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things afterward to be spoken; but Christ as Son over His house; Whose house are we, if we hold fast the boldness, and the glorying of the hope firm to the end” (ver. 1-6).
There is emphasis, of course, in the unusual combination “holy brethren.” Since the Jews, as such, were accustomed to be called “brethren” after the flesh, there was the more propriety in designating Christian Jews “holy brethren,” however truly it applied to any Christian.
Again, as the chosen nation was partaker of an earthly position and hope, we can understand well the force of describing the believers in Christ from its midst as “partakers of a heavenly calling.” Such indeed they were. They entered the new privilege not by a tie of birth, but by call of God; and this, as it was from Christ in heaven, so it was to heavenly glory, bearing earthly rejection, suffering and shame, as the Epistle shows from first to last. The calling upward or high calling of Phil. 3:1414I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14) answers to it.
Truly we must distinguish the heavenly calling from the calling in Eph. 4:11I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, (Ephesians 4:1), developed in that Epistle which is still more intimate and precious. For it is bound up with the mystery concerning Christ and concerning the church. Accordingly we do not hear of the oneness of the body with its Head in the Epistle to the Hebrews, as we do not hear of Christ the High Priest in that to the Ephesians. Even when church is spoken of in our Epistle (Heb. 13:2323Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you. (Hebrews 13:23)), it is regarded in its individual components, not in its unity: so distinct is the design of each. Hence we are not viewed here as quickened with Christ, raised up together with Him and seated together in Him in heavenly places, but as represented by Him in heaven, where He appears for us and gives us access into the holiest while here below.
Christ is shown to surpass Moses and Aaron next, as we have already seen the angels left behind in chapters 1 and 2. The contrast with Moses is traced in chapter 3. That with Aaron begins in the latter part of chapter 4. But it is well also to notice “our confession.” It leaves room for such as turn out mere professors; for it is not even said “our faith,” though this might soon become a lifeless creed. And this is borne out by the solemn warnings not to neglect, to hold fast, and the like, which abound throughout our Epistle, as we find similarly in the First Epistle to the Corinthians and in that to the Colossians.
It will be noticed that the name of “Jesus” stands here in its simple majesty. For a Jewish Christian it was all-important. Every Jew owned the Messiah, or Christ. The Christian Jews confessed Him already come in Jesus. And the aim of this Epistle is to open even from the ancient oracles the varied glories that center in Him with all the store of blessing for those that are His.
Nor is it only that Jesus “was” faithful, though this is true. But “is” goes farther as the more general and absolute term. Only it seems strange that reverent minds should venture to apply to Him ποιή. in the sense, so liable to misconstruction and error, of making or creating Him, when the context clearly points to constituting Him officially.
If Moses was a messenger of God singularly honored as all confess, he was after all in an inferior position, however faithful in all the house of God. But Jesus was not only a man approved of God among the Jews beyond all by miracles and wonders and signs in their midst, not only anointed with the Holy Ghost and with power, going about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil, unequaled in word and deed, yet withal the lowliest in obedience and love and holiness, but “He hath been accounted worthy of more glory than Moses, by so much as He that built the house hath more honor than it,” i. e., the house. And in this case the reason has no limit. “For every house is builded by some one; but he that built all things [is] God.” The allusion is evident to the argument and precept of Hebrews 1, Jesus, whatever office He may fill, is God. He sheds glory on the position He takes, though assuredly the way in which He administers each office redounds to the glory of Him that appointed Him.
It is interesting to see that the axiom of the fourth verse is the morally irresistible argument from design, which has been more or less ably applied by those who have written on the evidence of creation to its Creator.
But there is a truth also of the deepest interest to believers. The house or dwelling-place depends on redemption. Whatever might be the ultimate end of God in what He made, sin came in at once through the creature's lack of dependence. God could only dwell on the ground of redemption. Hence it is that in Genesis we have no dwelling of God here below. He might visit Adam, or yet more and more touchingly Abraham; but even with Abraham He does not dwell. In Exodus God has His dwelling in the midst of a poor unworthy and failing people; but it is solely in virtue of redemption. No doubt it was only partial and provisional, alike the redemption and the dwelling of God, each the type of that which is perfect and everlasting. And the wonderful fact of Christianity is that both are now verified by the coming and work of our Lord Jesus. No redemption will ever surpass or even equal what is already. With (or by) His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained everlasting redemption. Hence, as Ephesians teaches, we are builded together for God's habitation in Spirit. The Holy Ghost sent down from heaven makes it good. What an incomparable privilege—God's dwelling, and Christ's body, as the same chapter had shown, to say nothing now of the many and yet fuller testimonies.
Here, however, it is first the general truth of the universe as God's house, with which we do well to compare Rev. 21:33And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Revelation 21:3). It is in the eternal scene only that this will be vindicated and manifested. Our Epistle does not here develop that perfect rest of God, but pursues its present aim of comparing the great chief of the legal economy with the still greater One Whom the Jews had crucified by the hands of lawless Gentiles. “And Moses indeed was faithful in all his house as a servant for a testimony of things afterward to be spoken; but Christ as Son over His house, Whose house are we” —we emphatically, as the Epistle never confounds the “sanctified” with mere Jews or all mankind. It is carefully those that are set apart by the Sanctifier, even Jesus, the test of God for man. Moses never rose above a servant, nor is the creature in any case, were he Gabriel in heaven, or yet Michael the archangel. Jesus is the Son, the Eternal Word, the Only-Begotten Who is (not was merely, but is) in the bosom of the Father from everlasting to everlasting. In His case therefore it was not merely for a testimony of what could be spoken. His was and is glory intrinsic and personal. He was the Faithful Witness, as in all things He has the pre-eminence; and so He is here and now spoken of as Son over His house, the house of God, as it ought not to be doubted. There is no sufficient ground for “His own” house as in the A. V. It is the house of God throughout, even though its present application is immensely and necessarily modified by the coming of Christ. It is the believers who constitute this house, as is now carefully implied in the serious words that follow, “if we hold fast the boldness and the boast of the hope firm to the end.”
The Spirit of God foresaw the danger of those addressed. Freshness of enjoyment is apt to pass, and souls are thereby exposed, under trying circumstances, to turn toward what was left behind when grace and truth wrought in power. The course of time, with distractions within (for so it will be till Christ come, in presence of an enemy that hates all that is of Him) and with attractions for the flesh without, tests souls. It is well when we hold fast firm to the end the boldness and the glorying which the hope forms and entitles us to. But it may be very different even with real children of God; and it will assuredly prove those that are unreal. For the same things which injure those born of God are the ruin of those who have not life in Christ. Hence the grave caution here enjoined, peculiarly needed by those addressed, and in no small measure by those drawn to the Lord's name out of a professing mass, when clouds gather, difficulties increase, and desertions are frequent.
Is it not an extraordinary deduction from verse 6, that the Christian is in danger from confidence in his soul, and from the boast which glory before us inspires? Yet such is the perversion that prevails among those who shrink from enjoying the revealed riches of God's grace in Christ. It is plain and sure that the Holy Spirit here takes for granted that the Christian has the confidence to which Christ and His redemption entitle every simple-hearted believer, and that the glory of God we hope for is a happy and settled boast. Those who think otherwise have been defrauded of their proper portion by ignorant, perhaps false, guides. The real danger against which the Hebrew confessors are warned is giving up that confidence and boast. They are urged to hold it fast. This is the reverse of cautioning them against such confidence. The Christian dishonors the Lord by not cherishing true confidence and abounding hope; and yet more by giving them up, through difficulties or trials, when once possessed. This is dangerous unbelief.