PERSEVERE IN THE FAITH BY CONSIDERING JESUS AS SUPERIOR TO MOSES
Moses was the most revered spiritual leader in all of Judaism. Without disparaging the honor or faithful service of this Jewish icon, the author of Hebrews in a few short verses easily demonstrates that Jesus operates on a different plane. The superiority of Jesus as the Son of God (truly deity as evidenced by His work as Creator of all) and our Supreme Apostle and Supreme High Priest must be our only focus as we are encouraged to persevere in the Christian faith. Our privileged standing in the family of God with a heavenly calling should motivate us to demonstrate by our perseverance that we truly belong to the household of God.
Kent: The author is rather contending with those who were so enamored with Moses that they were about to forsake the Christian society and return to Judaism.
Mohler: The argument does not contrast the faults and failures of Moses with the successes and achievements of the Lord. Instead, it highlights the faithfulness of Moses (3:2) and his achievement of faithfully discharging his office as a servant in the house of God. If Moss is worthy of glory as a servant, how much more worthy is Christ – the One who built the house?
Brett Scott: Hebrews 3:1–6 compares Jesus with Moses in order to lay a foundation for the exhortation that follows in 3:7–4:11. The comparison points up three important truths.
– First, the Old Covenant has been surpassed and superseded by the New Covenant.
– Second, the limited access to God through a human mediator (only Moses was given face-to-face access to God) has been surpassed by the provision of direct access to God for all His people.
– Third, though both Moses and Jesus were faithful in their positions, the access secured by Moses as a faithful servant of God has been far surpassed by the access to God enjoyed by Jesus, God’s Son.
The contrast between Jesus and Moses serves as a rhetorical device to persuade the readers to accept the New Covenant, to enjoy their direct access to God, and to recognize Jesus Christ as the faithful Mediator between God and humans.
Christ’s superiority to Moses aims not at disqualifying the latter as a servant within God’s house, but rather at enhancing the honor of the former as Son over God’s house (Heb 3:5). Moses’ intimacy with the Law (the Old Covenant), his face-to-face access to God, and his position as a faithful servant in God’s house served as a “type” of the One to come who would be greater in all these areas.
(:1) PROLOGUE – CONSIDER JESUS — IN HIS RELATIONSHIP TO US AS BELIEVERS
A. Our Privileged Position as Believers
1. Family Identity
“Therefore, holy brethren,”
Mohler: Our common brotherhood in Christ produces our new familial relationship and ultimate unity. . . “Holy” emphasizes that the blood of Christ has sanctified and cleansed the church. . . Holiness was an important feature of the Levitical system. Worshiping God rightly under the old covenant required holiness in every aspect of life among the old covenant people. . . Holiness could only come through sacrifice, which is to say, holiness was not a human achievement. Thus, when the author designates these people as a holy brotherhood, he makes a Christological claim. He is not congratulating them for achieving the status of holiness; he is rendering them holy on the basis of the priestly sacrifice Christ offered on their behalf.
2. Heavenly Calling
“partakers of a heavenly calling,”
Kent: They were sharers of a heavenly calling in that they had received the effective call of God to salvation, which was heavenly both in its origin from God and in its ultimate goal (Phil. 3:14).
Leon Morris: The address “holy brothers” is found only here in the NT . . . It combines the notes of affection and consecration. These people are members of the brotherhood and dear to the writer. They are also people who have been set apart for the service of God. The reference to “the heavenly calling” shows that the initiative comes from God. He has called them to be his own.
B.. Our Focus = Consider Jesus (cf. Heb. 12:1-2)
Serious attention, careful study, meditation
Mohler: because Jesus is the merciful and faithful high priest who has tasted death for everyone and is the source of our salvation, Jesus merits our full consideration.
Deffinbaugh: “Take note of Jesus” – as others have noted, this could not only serve as the summation of this lengthy exhortation, it could very well capsulize the message of the entire Book of Hebrews. It might even be a summary of the message of the Bible. Where else should we look?
C. Our Link to God
1. Supreme Apostle
Kent: He was God’s highest messenger to men. John’s Gospel speaks of Him as “he whom God hath sent” (John 3:34). Jesus spoke regarding Himself that “the Father hath sent me” (John 5:36, 37), and to the apostles whom He had chosen He said, “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you” (John 20:21).
MacArthur: And what are the characteristics of an apostolos or an ambassador? Well, number one, he has all the right and all the power and all the authority of the king in the country who sends him, and so did Jesus. He came clothed with the power of God. He came with all of God’s grace, all of God’s love, all of God’s mercy, all of God’s justice, and all of God’s power.
Secondly, an ambassador has to speak with the voice of the one who sent him. And so Jesus came and said, “I speak not that which I decide to speak. I speak only what I hear the Father say.” So Jesus was the perfect sent one from God. He came with all of God’s power, and with God’s voice He spoke.
2. Supreme High Priest
“and High Priest of our confession.”
Parunak: Our writer describes the unique, apostle of the Father. Our Lord’s titles in this verse complement each other. As apostle, he represents God to men. As high priest, he represents men to God.
I. (:2) BOTH CHRIST AND MOSES COMMENDED AS FAITHFUL
A. Faithfulness of Christ
“He was faithful to Him who appointed Him,”
B. Faithfulness of Moses
“as Moses also was in all His house.”
II. (:3-4) CHRIST SURPASSES MOSES IN GLORY BY VIRTUE OF HIS CREATIVE WORK AS GOD
A. (:3) Distinction Between Christ and Moses
1. Christ is Superior to Moses
“For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses,”
Christ is on a whole different level than Moses – you can’t really compare the two.
2. The Builder is Superior to the House
“by just so much as the builder of the house
has more honor than the house.”
Kent: In spite of the greatness of Moses, whose responsibilities in Israel made him unquestionably the leader of God’s people, he was still an integral part of those people, on the same plane with them as far as their relationship to God was concerned. Christ stands on a higher plane and deserves to be considered as the builder of the house, rther than a mere part of it.
B. (:4) Distinction Between the House and its Builder
1. Every House has a Builder
“For every house is built by someone,”
2. The Builder is God = Christ
“but the builder of all things is God.”
III. (:5-6a) THE FAITHFULNESS OF A SON SURPASSES THAT OF A SERVANT
A. (:5) Moses was Faithful as a Servant
“Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant,
for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later;”
Mohler: Moses’s life and ministry displayed the superiority of Christ. They meant to point away from Moses and toward the Messiah. Moses’s ministry existed to testify about things to come. Passages such as Deuteronomy 18:15 demonstrate this. As the author of Hebrews will later show, the priesthood, sacrifices, and entire old covenant system serve the same purpose.
B. (:6a) Christ was Faithful as a Son
“but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house”
Constable: God’s house over which Jesus Christ sits in authority represents the whole system of worship that our Lord inaugurated with the New Covenant. He sits in God’s place, the holy of holies of this house. The tabernacle foreshadowed this final system of worship in which Jesus rules as King Priest. The tabernacle was a microcosm of God’s greater house. Moses served in the model (prototype) faithfully. Jesus rules over the larger house faithfully, not as a servant, but as God’s Son with full authority. . .
God’s household consists of people, not boards, bars, and curtains. The writer was thinking of priestly functions, as is clear from the context. His concern was that his readers might not remain faithful to God (cf. Mark 4:5-6; Mark 4:16-17). This would result in their losing their privilege as priests that included intimate fellowship with God and the opportunity to represent God before people and people before God. This is what the Israelites as a whole lost when they turned away from the Lord and built the golden calf at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 32). Instead of all the Israelites being priests (Exodus 19:6) God limited this privilege to the Levites who remained faithful when the other Israelites apostatized (Exodus 32:26-29; cf. Numbers 3:12-13). Just so today it is possible for us to forfeit the privilege of functioning as a priest in the future (cf. 1 Peter 2:5). The writer shifted from using “house” to refer to the place where priestly functions take place, to using “house” to refer to the people engaged in those activities, namely, a household.
(:6b) APPLICATION – PERSEVERE IN FAITH AND HOPE
“whose house we are,
if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.”
Kent: reminds the readers of their responsibility to the faith they have espoused. Abandonment in favor of Judaism would demonstrate that they had never really become new creatures in Christ.
Mohler: The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints does not mean we enter God’s kingdom by faith and stay in God’s kingdom by works. Instead, it means we enter God’s kingdom by a faith that will persevere and never fail. By faith, we confidently trust that Christ’s righteousness belongs to us. He is our only boast. He is our unfailing hope.
F. F. Bruce: The doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints has as its corollary the salutary teaching that the saints are the people who persevere to the end.
Leon Morris: it is the Christian hope, the certainty that God will carry out his promises, especially those in the gospel. The Christian looks forward eagerly, expecting God’s triumph. To be God’s house then, means to persevere in quiet confidence, knowing that one has matter for pride in the Christian hope.