Hebrews 3

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Jesus Greater Than Moses

1 Therefore, holy brothers,[a] you who share in 1a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, 2the apostle and high priest of our confession,
2 who was faithful to him who appointed him, 3just as Moses also was faithful in all God's[b] house.
3 For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses--as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself.
4 (For every house is built by someone, but 4the builder of all things is God.)
5 5Now Moses was faithful in all God's house 6as a servant, 7to testify to the things that were to be spoken later,
6 but Christ is faithful over God's house as 8a son. And 9we are his house if indeed we 10hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.[c]

A Rest for the People of God

7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, 11"Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness,
9 where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for 12forty years.
10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.'
11 13As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest.'"
12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from 14the living God.
13 But 15exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by 16the deceitfulness of sin.
14 For we have come to share in Christ, 17if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.
15 As it is said, 18"Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."
16 For 19who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not 20all those who left Egypt led by Moses?
17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, 21whose bodies fell in the wilderness?
18 And to whom did he swear that 22they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient?
19 So we see that 23they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

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Hebrews 3 Commentary

Chapter 3

The superior worth and dignity of Christ above Moses is shown. (1-6) The Hebrews are warned of the sin and danger of unbelief. (7-13) And of necessity of faith in Christ, and of stedfastly following him. (14-19)

Verses 1-6 Christ is to be considered as the Apostle of our profession, the Messenger sent by God to men, the great Revealer of that faith which we profess to hold, and of that hope which we profess to have. As Christ, the Messiah, anointed for the office both of Apostle and High Priest. As Jesus, our Saviour, our Healer, the great Physician of souls. Consider him thus. Consider what he is in himself, what he is to us, and what he will be to us hereafter and for ever. Close and serious thoughts of Christ bring us to know more of him. The Jews had a high opinion of the faithfulness of Moses, yet his faithfulness was but a type of Christ's. Christ was the Master of this house, of his church, his people, as well as their Maker. Moses was a faithful servant; Christ, as the eternal Son of God, is rightful Owner and Sovereign Ruler of the Church. There must not only be setting out well in the ways of Christ, but stedfastness and perseverance therein to the end. Every meditation on his person and his salvation, will suggest more wisdom, new motives to love, confidence, and obedience.

Verses 7-13 Days of temptation are often days of provocation. But to provoke God, when he is letting us see that we entirely depend and live upon him, is a provocation indeed. The hardening of the heart is the spring of all other sins. The sins of others, especially of our relations, should be warnings to us. All sin, especially sin committed by God's professing, privileged people, not only provokes God, but it grieves him. God is loth to destroy any in, or for their sin; he waits long to be gracious to them. But sin, long persisted in, will make God's wrath discover itself in destroying the impenitent; there is no resting under the wrath of God. "Take heed:" all who would get safe to heaven must look about them; if once we allow ourselves to distrust God, we may soon desert him. Let those that think they stand, take heed lest they fall. Since to-morrow is not ours, we must make the best improvement of this day. And there are none, even the strongest of the flock, who do not need help of other Christians. Neither are there any so low and despised, but the care of their standing in the faith, and of their safety, belongs to all. Sin has so many ways and colours, that we need more eyes than ours own. Sin appears fair, but is vile; it appears pleasant, but is destructive; it promises much, but performs nothing. The deceitfulness of sin hardens the soul; one sin allowed makes way for another; and every act of sin confirms the habit. Let every one beware of sin.

Verses 14-19 The saints' privilege is, they are made partakers of Christ, that is, of the Spirit, the nature, graces, righteousness, and life of Christ; they are interested in all Christ is, in all he has done, or will do. The same spirit with which Christians set out in the ways of God, they should maintain unto the end. Perseverance in faith is the best evidence of the sincerity of our faith. Hearing the word often is a means of salvation, yet, if not hearkened to, it will expose more to the Divine wrath. The happiness of being partakers of Christ and his complete salvation, and the fear of God's wrath and eternal misery, should stir us up to persevere in the life of obedient faith. Let us beware of trusting to outward privileges or professions, and pray to be numbered with the true believers who enter heaven, when all others fail because of unbelief. As our obedience follows according to the power of our faith, so our sins and want of care are according to the prevailing of unbelief in us.

Cross References 23

  • 1. Ephesians 4:1; Philippians 3:14
  • 2. [John 20:21; Romans 15:8]
  • 3. ver. 5
  • 4. Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 3:9
  • 5. ver. 2; Cited from Numbers 12:7
  • 6. Exodus 14:31; Deuteronomy 34:5; Joshua 1:2; Joshua 8:31; Psalms 105:26; Revelation 15:3
  • 7. Deut. 18:15, 18, 19
  • 8. See Hebrews 1:2
  • 9. 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:21; 1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 2:5
  • 10. ver. 14; Hebrews 6:11; Psalms 119:33, 112; Matthew 10:22; Revelation 2:26
  • 11. ver. 15; Hebrews 4:7; Cited from Psalms 95:7-11
  • 12. See Acts 7:36
  • 13. Hebrews 4:3, 5
  • 14. See Matthew 16:16
  • 15. [Hebrews 10:24, 25]
  • 16. [Isaiah 44:20; Romans 7:11; Ephesians 4:22]
  • 17. ver. 6; Hebrews 10:23; 1 Corinthians 15:2
  • 18. [See ver. 7 above]
  • 19. Numbers 14:2; Deuteronomy 1:34, 35
  • 20. [Numbers 14:24, 30; Deuteronomy 1:36, 38]
  • 21. Numbers 14:29; See Jude 5
  • 22. Deuteronomy 1:34, 35; [Hebrews 4:2]
  • 23. Hebrews 4:6; Psalms 78:22; Psalms 106:24

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Or brothers and sisters; also verse 12
  • [b]. Greek his; also verses 5, 6
  • [c]. Some manuscripts insert firm to the end

Chapter Summary


The apostle having discoursed, in the preceding chapters, concerning the dignity of Christ's person, and his wondrous grace in the assumption of human nature, and suffering in the room and stead of his people, exhorts the Hebrews in this to a serious consideration of him, attention to him, and faith in him, and constancy in it; the arguments he uses to engage them to these things are taken from the grace and benefit they themselves were partakers of through him, from the office in which he was, and his faithfulness to his Father in the discharge of it, Heb 3:1,2 which is illustrated in the case of Moses, who was faithful in the house of God, and whom Christ excelled, and therefore was worthy of more honour; partly, because he is the builder of the house; and partly, because he is a Son in it, when Moses was only a servant; which house is Christ's own, and consists of true and steadfast believers in him, Heb 3:2-6, wherefore the exhortation to regard him is renewed, enforced, and expressed in the words of the Holy Ghost, Heb 3:7-11 which are taken out of Ps 95:7-11 and applied to the present case: hence the apostle cautions against unbelief, as being a great evil in itself, and bad in its consequence, causing persons to depart from the living God, Heb 3:12, in order to prevent which he advises to a daily exhortation of each other to their duty, that so they might not be hardened in sin through the deceitfulness of it, Heb 3:13 and the rather it became them to be concerned to hold fast their faith in Christ to the end, since this is the grand evidence of being a partaker of him, Heb 3:14. And then the exhortation in the above passage of Scripture is recited, Heb 3:15 to show, that though not all the persons spoken of, yet some did provoke the Lord by their unbelief, and unbecoming carriage, Heb 3:16 wherefore, by the example of punishment being inflicted on such, of which instances are given in the forefathers of these people, such as their carcasses falling in the wilderness, and their not entering into the land of Canaan, which they could not, because God swore they should not, being grieved and provoked by them, and because of their unbelief, they are dissuaded from the same evils, lest they should be punished in like manner, Heb 3:17-19.

Hebrews 3 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.