Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;CHAPTER 3
He now addresses believing Hebrews as “holy brethren and partakers of the heavenly calling,” and exhorts them to consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus.” Hebrews address each other as “brethren” (Acts 2:29; Acts 7:2; Acts 22:1). Believing Hebrews are here addressed by the Spirit of God as “holy brethren.” Trusting in Christ they were sanctified and belonged to those whom He is not ashamed to call brethren. They are called “partakers of the heavenly calling” in contrast with their former “earthly calling” of Israel. The two titles of the Lord Jesus, Apostle and High Priest, correspond to the preceding opening chapters of the Epistle. As Apostle (a Sent One), the Son of God came from God to man. And then as Man who suffered and died, He has gone from man to God as High Priest, typified by Aaron. As the Lord Jesus Christ is in this Epistle called the Apostle, the Spirit of God may have, for this reason, kept the pen of the apostle, who wrote this document, from calling himself an apostle.
Then follows the contrast with Moses. Moses was faithful in all his house (the tabernacle) but only as a servant. Christ is over God’s house, which He has built, for He is God. And in this house He is not a servant, but a Son. Both the universe and the Church, as the House of God, are here blended together. The house in the wilderness, the tabernacle, was a type of the universe. “And every house is built by some one, but He that built all things is God.” Christ is the builder of the universe, the house, and the upholder of it and so He is counted worthy of greater honor than Moses, inasmuch as He who hath built it hath more honor than the house. The Apostle of our confession, the Sent one of God, the Son of God, is also the High Priest. After His finished work on the cross, having made propitiation for the sins of the people, He passed through the heavens into the Holiest not made with hands. (The three parts of the tabernacle, the outer court, the holy part, and the Holiest typify the first, the second and the third heaven.) Ultimately in virtue of redemption, all having been cleansed by the blood, God will dwell in the house. “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).
“And Moses verily was faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after.” And those things have come and are given through Christ, who is Son over His house, whose house are we. This is His spiritual house, the house of God composed of living stones, the sanctified, the holy priesthood. The Son of God, the builder of all things, has now as High Priest, His own house, which are we “if we hold fast the confidence (boldness) and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” It is a warning to those Hebrews who had confessed Christ, who were facing trials and many difficulties, not to give up the confidence and the rejoicing in the hope. They are urged to hold it fast and are solemnly warned against unbelief. They were in danger of forsaking Christianity, and turning back to Judaism. And these words of warning are also given to us, for they are needful for the exercise of the conscience. A true believer will continue in confidence firm to the end. Such a continuance is the proof of the reality of our confession.
(“It is clearly not our standing which is in question; for this being wholly of God and in Christ is settled and sure and unchanging. There is no “if” either as to Christ’s work or as to the gospel of God’s grace. All there is unconditional grace to faith. The wilderness journey is before us (as the next verses show). Here it is that “if” has its necessary place, because it is our walk through the desert, where there are so many occasions of failure, and we need constant dependence in God.”)
The danger and calamity of unbelief is next called to their remembrance. Psalm 95:1-11 is quoted. The Holy Spirit saith “Today if ye will hear His voice harden not your hearts.” Such was the word of warning addressed to Israel in the past, but it also has its application in the present. The word “today” expresses God’s wonderful patience and long suffering towards Israel as well as towards all during this age of grace. The “today” is now; the great morrow comes, when the “today” ends and the kingdom of power and glory with its attending judgments upon those who did not obey the gospel of Jesus Christ comes, and the once rejected King Messiah appears. The fathers of the Hebrews had tempted God in the wilderness. He was wroth with that generation and swore in His wrath “they shall not enter into My rest.” It was God’s solemn sentence of exclusion from His rest. They hardened their hearts, did not obey His voice and their unbelief shut them out from God’s rest.
Even so these Hebrews, professing Christianity were in the same danger. “Take heed brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in falling away from the living God.” But while it was “today,” God still waited to be gracious and so they were to exhort each other daily, lest any of them be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Danger surrounded them on every side. “The heart of unbelief which barred the land of Canaan from their natural fathers was yet within their flesh. Not only were the lusts of nature in their ordinary shape forever combating against the will of God, they were exposed also to a more specious, and therefore a more dangerous form of evil in the still existing rivalry which they who made their boast in their traditions were opposing to the cross of Christ. Of all the evils with which Satan can afflict the heart, atheism, religion without faith in God, is by very much the worst. For it lulls the conscience, while it weaves its web of unblessed, unsanctifying exercises about the heart’s affections so as effectually to exclude the light of God. It was to this peace-corroding yet seductive evil that these Hebrew Christians stood practically exposed.”
“Now the remedy and safeguard of all evil is the truth of God. It is only by listening to the word of Him who speaks to us as children with a knowledge of our need, that believers can be kept in their true place. The possession of truth in the way of doctrine is not enough. God daily speaks and must be daily heard if we would really know Him” (A. Pridham).
All this is true of God’s people at all times, for faith and obedience are the essential conditions of blessing and the tests of profession. God is faithful and will certainly not permit that any of His own perish. Faith reckons with this, but also heeds the warning, knowing and owning the tendency of the flesh to depart from God, and hence the need of His constant and never-failing grace is recognized and a walk in godly fear is the blessed result. There are teachers who claim that these solemn exhortations have no meaning for Christians today and even have made the statement that this epistle was not for the church at all. Such claims show a deplorable ignorance of the truth of God. All believers must heed the warning “that none of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
(“Sin separates us from God in our thoughts; we have no longer the same sense either of His love, His power, or His interest in us. Confidence is lost. Hope, and the value of unseen things, diminish; while the value of things that are seen proportionately increases. The conscience is bad; one is not at ease with God. The path is hard and difficult; the will strengthens itself against Him. We no longer live by faith; visible things come in between us and God, and take possession of the heart. Where there is life, God warns by His Spirit (as in this epistle), He chastises and restores. Where it was only an outward influence, a faith devoid of life, and the conscience not reached, it is abandoned” J. N. Darby.)
The need of faith, the holding fast of the beginning of our confidence unto the end, is now more fully presented. All Israelites came out of Egypt. But with whom was he wroth for forty years? it was with them that sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness. Their sin was unbelief And those who believed not were kept out of His rest. “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” What the rest of God is we shall follow in the annotations of the next paragraphs.