Hebrews 3:2
Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, etc.

I. THE CHARACTERIZATION OF CHRISTIANS.

1. They are fraternal in relation. "Brethren." These Hebrew Christians were brethren in a twofold sense to the writer of the Epistle - first, as being his kindred according to the flesh; and next, as being of the same religious faith. Every Christian is a member of a glorious brotherhood. We are brothers inasmuch as we have all one Father and one elder Brother; we are animated by one Spirit; we are tending to one home, our "Father's house." Let us endeavor to realize this relationship, and to practically express its spirit. "Love the brotherhood."

2. They are consecrated in character. "Holy brethren." By applying to them the term "holy," the writer does not affirm that all those whom he was addressing were in a state of sinless purity. The adjective conveys two ideas - consecration and transformation. Christians are holy because they have consecrated themselves to the Lord, and are being transformed into moral resemblance to him.

3. They are exalted in privilege. "Partakers of a heavenly calling." This calling "is the invitation given on the part of God and Christ to men, to come and partake of the blessings proffered" in the gospel. In two senses it is "a heavenly calling."

(1) It is heavenly in its origin; a calling from heaven. The holy voices and gracious invitations are from above. All saving influences and impulses are from God.

(2) It is heavenward in its end; a calling to heaven. Spiritual, sublime, eternal, heavenly, are the blessings to which we are called. It is "the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." The "partakers" of this calling are not those who have merely heard the call to gospel blessings, but those who have both heard and accepted that call.

II. THE CHARACTERIZATION OF THE LORD AND SAVIOR.

1. He is "the Apostle of our confession. There is here a comparison of Jesus with Moses. Moses was sent" of God to be the emancipator, chieftain, and ruler of the Israelites (see Exodus 3:10, 12, 14, 15). In this sense he was an apostle of God. Jesus Christ was the Sent of God (see John 3:34; John 5:36, 37; John 6:29; John 10:36; John 17:18). He was sent on a still grander mission of redemption (see Isaiah 61:1-3). Moreover, the Jews designated the minister of the synagogue, who had the charge of its affairs and presided over them, an apostle. And in the verse following our text the writer goes on to speak of Jesus and Moses as each presiding over the affairs of a house. In this sense also our Lord is "the Apostle of our confession." He is sent, not only to emancipate, but also to rule over his Church; to be both "a Prince and a Savior."

2. He is "the High Priest of our confession. Here the comparison is with Aaron. As Aaron was high priest of the Jews, and, as such, made expiation for the sins of the people, so our Savior has made atonement for the sins of the world by the offering of himself in sacrifice. Through him we approach unto God. He maketh intercession for us. He pleads with us and in us and for us. Through him we shall rise to heaven. As the Apostle, he is the Representative of God to men; as the High Priest, he is the Representative of men with God.

3. He is Jesus. There is perhaps a reference here to Joshua, the great general of the Israelites, who led them into the promised land. Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins." How great, then, is our Lord and Savior!

III. THE ATTITUDE WHICH CHRISTIANS SHOULD MAINTAIN TOWARDS THEIR LORD AND SAVIOUR. "Wherefore, holy brethren... consider the Apostle and High Priest," etc.

1. The argument. "Wherefore," i.e. because we have in Jesus such "a merciful and faithful High Priest," such a mighty and gracious Helper, we should attentively consider him. And such consideration would be likely to strengthen the Christian faith of any who were in danger of falling back into Judaism; for they would find him a greater Apostle than Moses, a greater High Priest than Aaron, a greater "Captain of salvation" than Joshua. The great principle is this, that the greatest safeguard against weariness, discouragement, and apostasy is an earnest consideration of Jesus; a believing, steadfast, looking unto him.

2. The exercise. "Consider the Apostle," etc. Contemplate him as "the Apostle of our confession." How much greater is he than Moses! Moses did not lead the people into the Promised Land, or even enter therein himself; but Jesus has entered heaven as our Forerunner, has led multitudes into its blessedness, will lead all his people there. Contemplate him as "the High Priest of our confession." How much greater is he than Aaron! Aaron's priesthood was imperfect, typical, preparatory; but our Lord's is gloriously perfect. By his sacrifice he has made full atonement; his intercession is divinely efficacious. Contemplate him as our Savior, "Jesus." He is "mighty to save;" "able to save to the uttermost," etc. Here is the sublimest contemplation. In weakness and weariness consider him, and you will be strengthened and animated. In darkness consider him, and the night will shine even as the day. In sin consider him, and you will seek and obtain forgiveness. In sorrow consider him, and the troubled heart will grow calm and restful. In death consider him, and his rod and staff will comfort you, and he himself will lead you through its dark portals into the joys and glories of heaven. Let this be our constant attitude - "looking unto Jesus." - W.J.







Faithful to Him that appointed Him.
The general prosperity of human life and the peace and comfort of individuals greatly depend on the diligence, the cheerfulness, and the spirit with which our personal duties are fulfilled.

I. I mention as the first, AN HABITUAL AND PRACTICAL REMEMBRANCE THAT GOD HATH APPOINTED US OUR DIFFERENT CONDITIONS, and that a proper discharge of the duties resulting from them, from a regard to His authority, is service due and done to God. Christianity thus brings religion home to the most minute departments of human life, to the house and to the field, to the shop and to the farm; and intimately unites earth to heaven.

II. Personal fidelity includes HONEST AND ASSIDUOUS ENDEAVOURS TO UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENT DUTIES OF OUR SEVERAL CALLINGS OR CONDITIONS, AND TO ACQUIRE THE TALENTS NECESSARY TO PERFORM THEM WELL. But I must observe that a knowledge of the duties of a calling, and even the best talents for discharging them, are not sufficient. Personal fidelity chiefly consists in the diligence, animated by religious motives, which produces the activity which our separate duties require; and therefore I remark —

III. That men discover their fidelity when they MARE CONSCIENCE OF THE MORE DIFFICULT AND BURDENSOME, as well as of the more easy duties of their particular callings.

IV. Men show their fidelity in their personal duties, when they do NOT NEGLECT, FOR THE SAKE OF PLEASURES, THEIR PROPER BUSINESS OR EMPLOYMENTS.

V. Fidelity to Him who hath appointed men their respective callings, requires that they shall Do AS MUCH GOOD IN THEM AS THEY HAVE THE MEANS OR OPPORTUNITY TO DO; and that they shall manage them to the best advantage, for which their knowledge or abilities have qualified them.

VI. Personal fidelity requires that men REGARD AND FULFIL ALL THE DUTIES OF THEIR CALLINGS OR SITUATIONS, AND NOT MERELY A PART OF THEM.

VII. Personal fidelity requires that men shall do the duties of their proper stations, ALTHOUGH EVERY WORLDLY MOTIVE SHOULD TEMPT THEM TO NEGLECT OR TO VIOLATE THEM.

VIII. Fidelity in the duties of our proper callings ought ever to be ACCOMPANIED WITH PRAYER TO GOD, AND AN HABITUAL AND DEVOUT DEPENDENCE ON HIM FOR HIS BLESSING. I conclude with observing, that if a faithful discharge of social duties were the whole of religion, even on such terms no man could be justified by works. In fidelity to conscience, and in zealous endeavours for promoting the glory of God and the good of mankind, Archbishop Usher was perhaps exceeded by few of his own, or of any other order, Yet we find among his last, what were certainly none of his worst words, "Lord, forgive my sins of omission." Even in the discharge of their secular callings, men of the worthiest characters are far from being already perfect, and after all their best attainments have need to pray, "Lord, enter not into judgment with Thy servants."

(John Erskine, D. D.)

1. And here that it is said, "God appointed Him," we see the root of this love, that Christ should come a Saviour among us. And as we must give unto our Saviour Christ the glory of our redemption, in the sacrifice of His body, so we must give unto the Father the praise of His mercy, that hath freely loved us, and predestinated us eternally unto life; for as this is our profession, that Christ hath done the deed, so this is our profession, that God the Father hath appointed Him unto it.

2. The second thing here witnessed of Christ, and in which we are assured He is our only Prophet, and are provoked to hearken unto Him, is "that lie was faithful in all the house of God." This faithfulness is truth and integrity in discharge of this office committed to Him, wherein He set all His care and industry, that He might be found faultless, that like as He was sent of God to be a Prophet to reveal His will, so He did faithfully perform it, teaching only doctrine and ordinances of His Father (John 7:16; John 8:28; John 17:8). How diligently then ought we to hear such a Prophet as hath so faithfully spoken. And here we have all a very good lesson taught us, in the person of Christ, to what calling soever we be called of God, in the same let us be faithful; if we be preachers, faithful preachers; if we be princes, faithful princes; if we be judges, faithful judges; if we be treasurers, faithful treasurers; if we be merchants, faithful merchants; whatsoever we be, faithfulness must be our praise.

3. It followeth, "He was faithful as Moses in all His house." What was the faithfulness commended in Moses? That he did in every point according to that which God had commanded. This was then the faithfulness of Christ, to do nothing but at the will of His Father; and this St. John witnesseth expressly in many places. Here is the image of this faithful minister, like unto Christ, one that preacheth nothing but the Word of God, nor for any cause but God's glory. Now, more touching this comparison here made between Christ and Moses, there is no doubt but the apostle useth it to join the Hebrews unto Christ; for how they accounted of Moses he knew well, and whatsoever was spoken of him they did willingly apply themselves to mark, and his praise did win their affections to be more equally bent to learn Christ. Taking this occasion, he beginneth his comparison, making this as common both to Christ and Moses: that either of them ruled in the house of God, and either of them was faithful in his charge, but yet so, as Christ was much more honourable, and therefore to be of us acknowledged our only Prophet. Now, lest the comparison should seem equal, or Moses should be accounted as great as Christ, he showeth the great excellence of Christ above Moses, that the Jews may also learn to honour their Messias as it becometh them. It followeth now in the fifth verse, "And Moses was faithful in all His house, as a servant for the testimony of the things which should be spoken, but Christ as the Son is Ruler of His house." Now, how much more honour the son hath in his father's house than he that is a servant, so far Christ is above Moses, and above all. And in this the apostle needed not use many words, for that Moses was a servant, all confessed that God calleth him oft His servant Moses. And that Christ was the Son no man doubted, and the Scripture giveth Him plainly the title of the Son of God. Here we have all taught us a lesson of good humility, and how to know ourselves, and what place we have in the Church of God. It followeth, "For a testimony of the things which should after be spoken." For this purpose Moses was a servant, and in the performance of this duty was faithful: he was a servant to bear witness unto the people of all the words which God should speak unto them, that is, a servant faithfully declaring all the law of God. And Moses also himself did bear witness of Christ. And Moses, the most renowned of all prophets, what was he? a servant to declare unto the people all that the Lord had spoken. Who is he now will presume above Moses, to speak of his own head, ordinances, and laws? Who will establish decrees of his own in the house of God? Whosoever he be he shall carry his judgments. He is not a servant, as Moses was; but he exalteth himself to be a master; for if he were a servant he would do the work of a servant, and bear witness what his Master had said. It followeth, "But Christ as the Son is over His house." So that, being the Son of God, who is heir of all things, He ruleth in this house as Lord and Governor, whose commandment alone doth stand. And again, being the Son of God, eternally begotten of His Father, He ever did, and shall do to the end, rule and have the sovereignty in His own house. Therefore, even as before the apostle made his exhortation, that they would consider this Apostle and High Priest of their profession, even so let us humble ourselves under this High Lord in the House of God; let us obey His voice, let us be all faithful in our calling, that before Him we may have a good account, especially the minister, that he will be a faithful servant, keeping his fellowship in the Church of God, and bearing witness of all that the Lord hath spoken.

(E. Deering, B. D.)

Every word here is an echo of something going before, and is instinct with persuasive virtue. "Brethren" of Him who in a fraternal spirit identified Himself with the unholy, and for their sakes took flesh and tasted death. "Holy," at least in standing, in virtue of the priestly action of the Sanctifier; and because holy in this sense, under obligation to make their consecration to God a reality by living a truly Christian life. "Partakers of a heavenly calling" — thus described, at once with truth and with rhetorical skill, with a backward glance at the greatness of the Christian's hope as the destined lord of the future world, and with a mental reference to the contrast between that glorious prospect and the present state of believers as partakers of flesh and blood, and subject to death and the fear thereof; reminding them at the same time of the blessed truth that as Christ became partaker of their present lot, so they were destined to be partakers of His glorious inheritance, the unity and fellowship between Him and His people being on both sides perfect and complete. The titles here ascribed to Jesus also arise out of the previous context, and are full of significance. Specially noteworthy is the former of the two, "Apostle," here only applied to Christ. The basis for the title is such a text as Exodus 3:10: "Come now therefore, and I will send thee [ἀποστείλω, Sept.] unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth My people the children of Israel out of Egypt." Moses was an apostle, as one sent by God on the important mission of leading the enslaved race of Israel out of Egypt into Canaan. Christ was our Apostle, as one sent by God to be the Leader in the great salvation. The Apostle of our Christian confession and the " Captain of salvation" are synonymous designations. "Consider the Apostle" means, consider for practical purposes a subject already sufficiently understood; "consider the High Priest" means, consider the doctrine of Christ's priesthood, that ye may first understand it. and then prove its practical value. Christ the Apostle is the immediate subject of contemplation. That aspect is in view throughout the third and fourth chapters, the priestly aspect being presented at the close of the latter, as an introduction to the long discussion which commences with the fifth chapter and extends to the tenth. "Consider the Apostle of our confession" is the rubric of this new section. To guide consideration, a point of view is suggested congruous to the practical aim. The aim being to promote steadfastness in the Christian faith and life, the selected point of view is the fidelity of Jesus our Apostle. God made Jesus by giving Him His unique place in the world's history, as the chief agent in the work of redemption. And Jesus was faithful to God by discharging faithfully the high duties entrusted to Him. What the Hebrews are invited to do, therefore, is to consider Jesus as the faithful Captain of salvation, who never betrayed His trust, shirked His responsibilities, or neglected duty to escape personal suffering, and who at the last great crisis said, "Not My will, but Thine be done." For of course the theatre in which Christ's fidelity was displayed was His earthly life of trial and temptation. He has already held up Jesus as Priest, as one who is faithful to the interests of those for whom He transacts before God, and therefore entitled to their confidence. The two views supplement each other, and complete the picture of the Faithful One. Faithful as Priest to men in virtue of sympathies learned on earth, faithful as Apostle to God in the execution of the arduous mission on which He was sent to the world; in the one aspect inspiring trust, in the other exciting admiration and inciting to imitation. The following comparison between Christ and Moses at once serves the general end of the Epistle by contributing to the proof of the superiority of Christianity to Judaism, and the special end of the present exhortation by affording the opportunity of extracting wholesome lessons from the fate of the people whom Moses led out of Egypt. In doing this, he simply does justice to the familiar historical record of the Jewish hero's life, and to God's own testimony borne on a memorable occasion, the substance of which he repeats in the words, "as also Moses [was faithful] in His house." "My servant Moses, faithful in all My house, he," God had said emphatically, to silence murmuring against him on the part of his brother Aaron and his sister Miriam. He lays hold of the suggestive words "house" and "servant," and turns them to account for his purpose, saying in effect, "Moses was as faithful as any servant in a house can be: still he was only a servant, while He of whom I now speak was not a mere servant in the house, but a Son; and that makes all the difference." Verses 3 to 6 are substantially just the working out of this thought. But it may be asked, the subject of comparison being the respective fidelities of the two apostles, is not a reference to their positions irrelevant? What does it matter whether Moses was son or servant, if he was faithful in all God's house, in all parts of his work as the leader of Israel? If one were comparing two commanders in respect of bravery and military genius, would it not be an irrelevance to say of one of them, he was the better man, for he was the king's son? The question is pertinent, but it admits of a satisfactory answer. Reference to the superior dignity of Christ is relevant, if His position as Son tended to enhance His fidelity. That it did the writer doubtless meant to suggest. Farther on we find him saying. "Though He was a Son, yet learned He obedience." Similarly he says here in effect: "Christ, though a Son, was faithful to His vocation amid trial." It is a just thought. Beyond doubt we have in Christ as Son a more sublime moral spectacle of fidelity than in any ordinary man called to play a great and responsible part in history. To the fidelities which He has in common with other men, the Son adds this other: resolute resistance to the temptation to use His sonship as an excuse for declining arduous heroic tasks. But there is more than this to be said. The reference to the dignity of Christ looks beyond the immediate parenetic purpose to the ultimate aim of the whole Epistle It is designed to insinuate the great truth that Christianity is the absolute, eternal religion. This idea casts its shadow on the page at three different points —

1. In the contrast between Moses and Jesus as respectively servant and Son.

2. In the representation of the Ministry of Moses as being for a testimony of things to be spoken afterwards (ver. 5).

3. In the representation of Christians as pre-eminently though not exclusively God's, Christ's, house (ver. 6). The assertion manifestly implies the transiency of the Mosaic system. It suggests the thought that the house aa it stood m the time of Moses was but a rude, temporary model of the true, eternal house of God; good enough to furnish shelter from the elements, so to speak, but unfit to be the everlasting dwelling place of the children of the Most High, therefore destined to be superseded by a more glorious structure, having the Spirit of God for its architect, which should be to the old fabric as was the "magnifical" temple of Solomon to the puny tabernacle in the wilderness. At verse 6 transition is naturally made from Moses to the lessons of the wilderness life of Israel. The writer is haunted by the fear lest the tragic fate of the generation of the Exodus should be repeated in the experience of the Hebrew Christians. He hopes that the powerful motives arising out of the truths he has stated may bring about a better result. But he cannot hide from himself that another issue is possible. For the future fortunes of Christianity he has no anxiety; he is firmly persuaded that it will prosper, though the Hebrew Church, or even the whole Hebrew nation, should perish. That fatal catastrophe he dreads; therefore with great solemnity he proceeds to represent retention of their position in the house of God as conditional: "Whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the boasting of the hope."

(A. B. Bruce, D. D.)

What God requires is faithfulness to that which He has entrusted to us. A poor man is responsible for the little of his poverty, and sins if he withhold his mite. The Church needs the gifts of the poor; the gifts of the industrial and labouring classes. She needs the influence of those who think they have no influence. She needs the sympathies and prayers of those who can only stammer out of their sin-burdened hearts, "God be merciful to me a sinner." The most fertile summer showers are composed of unpretending little drops. Water-spouts are farless beneficial than the steady, soaking, noiseless rain.

Though in the life and character of Moses there are many striking excellencies, the faithfulness of Moses is the feature on which the apostle dwells. It is, indeed, the most important feature in our character as servants of God. And well were it for us if we laid more stress on faithfulness, and thought less of gifts and talents, or of success and results. For while it belongs to God to appoint unto each of us severally our positions, to distribute gifts according to His wisdom, and to reward us with results hundredfold, sixtyfold, or thirtyfold, it belongs to us to be faithful to God wherever He has placed us, and in the gift and task which His love assigns. We see the summary and result of the true disciple's life in the decisive words of the Master (Matthew 25:21).

(A. Saphir.)

More than Luther is to Germany, more than Napoleon is to France, more than Alfred, or Elizabeth, or Cromwell, or William III. is to England, Moses was to the Jewish people — prophet, patriot, warrior, lawgiver, all in one.

(R. W. Dale, LL. D.)

The Bishop of Machester was giving the prizes one day to the scholars, in a school with which he is connected. A large number of the parents and friends of the scholars were present. They all knew and loved the bishop, as a good, and learned, and very useful man. In the midst of their exercises, as he stood surrounded by the scholars, the good bishop was led to speak of his mother. "She was a widow," said he, "with some children to support and educate. God helped her to be faithful. She sacrificed her own ease and comfort for the good of her children. Her home was a poor one. She had to struggle hard for our support. But she managed to make that home the brightest and the happiest place to us. Her children through her faithful efforts have since risen to positions of honour and usefulness, where they are helping to make the world better. She is now," said the bishop, and here his voice was broken with deep feeling — "She is now living in my house, paralysed, speechless, helpless, but every time I look at her dear face, I thank God for giving me such a mother. All that I am, and all that I have I owe to her."

In the terrible April gale of 1851, the lighthouse on Minor's Ledge, near Boston, was destroyed. Two men were in it at the time, and a vast multitude were gathered upon the shore, waiting in anxious distress for the expected catastrophe. Every hour, however, the bell tolled the time, and ever the light pierced the dark rating storm, and bid the sailor beware. No howling blast could silence the one nor rising wave extinguish the other. At last one giant wave, mightier than the rest, rose up and threw its arms around the tower, and laid it low in the waves. Then alone was the bell silent, then alone did the light cease to shine.

(J. M. Reid.)

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