Hebrews Chapter 3 Explained

What does it mean to be part of the house of God? How do we hold fast to our confidence until the end? And why are these questions so important? Let’s take a closer look at Hebrews chapter 3.

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The Main Idea of Hebrews Chapter 3

There are two main themes in Hebrews 3:

  • v. 1-11 – Is to show the superiority of Christ Jesus to Moses
  • v. 12-19 – The author is warning his readers of the dangers of unbelief

Hebrews 3 Explained

In the first two chapters of Hebrews, we saw that the living God has spoken through His Son and why it’s crucial for us to pay attention to the message delivered through Him. 

We also saw how Jesus is superior to angels. Angels were messengers of God’s Word. Jesus is God’s Word. 

Hebrews Chapter 3:1

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession: Jesus… NASB

The author of Hebrews starts this chapter with the word “therefore” to connect back to what he had just previously stated at the end of chapter 2. Jesus partook of humanity so that he might become our faithful and great High priest and redeem mankind’s authority to rule the earth.

As the people of God, we are partakers of a heavenly calling because we are partakers of Jesus. We have been called to partner with Him in sharing the good news of the gospel. 

It’s interesting how the author encourages his readers to consider Jesus as our apostle and High Priest before going on to discuss his superiority over Moses.

  • Apostle – delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders
  • High Priest – A person who would speak to the Lord on behalf of the people and make atonement for sin
  • Consider – Strong’s G2657 – katanoeō – perceive, consider attentively, fix one’s eyes or mind upon

Referring to Jesus as our Apostle means that He represents God to us. Referring to Him as High Priest means that He represents us before God.

The ancient Greek word translated consider does not mean simply to look at or to notice a thing. Anyone can look at a thing or even notice it without really seeing it. The word means to fix the attention on something in such a way that its inner meaning, the lesson it is designed to teach, may be learned.” (Barclay) The same word is used in Luke 12:24 (Consider the ravens). It is an earnest appeal to look, to learn, and to understand.- David Guzik

Consider Jesus – the one who God sent not only to reveal the exact representation of Himself and deliver His message of salvation for all through the sacrifice of Himself but also the one who has passed through the heavenly tabernacle and lives to intercede for us as our High Priest.

Hebrews 3:2-6

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2 He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. 3 For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of a house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. 5 Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; 6 but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house…” – Hebrews 3:2-6

Let’s consider how Jesus is compared and contrasted to Moses in this passage.

Contrasts: Moses was a faithful servant over God’s house. Jesus was faithful as the eternal Son of God over His house.
Comparisons: Both are faithful in the household of God.

Both Moses and Jesus were faithful to the duties assigned to them in God’s house.

What the author wants us to see here in Hebrews chapter 3 is that Jesus is worthy of more honour than Moses because Jesus is the builder of the house. 

Chapter 1 made it clear that Jesus is God. He played an active role in the beginning with God in the work of creation. Jesus is the builder of the house.

Also, Jesus is worthy of more glory because He is a Son. Not only is he the builder of the house, but as the Son, he is the heir of all things.

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom He also made the world. – Hebrews 1:1-2

Moses was a servant in the house. His role was to point God’s people toward the Son.

The ancient Rabbis considered Moses to be the greatest man ever, greater than the angels. The writer to the Hebrews does nothing to criticize Moses, but he looks at Moses in his proper relation to Jesus. – David Guzik

Hebrews 3:6

whose house we are, if we hold firmly to our confidence and the boast of our hope. – 3:6

This passage begins with a promise. However, the promise also holds a condition.

Let’s tackle this by first asking what it means to be part of God’s house.

Ephesians 2:11-22 paul is explaining how those who were once far away from the Lord have been brought near by the blood of Christ. By His sacrifice, Jesus has abolished that which separated all mankind from God – sin. We are no longer separated by Jew or Gentile. All are welcome to partake of God’s house through faith in Christ. 

This is the promise. We are members of God’s house through faith in Jesus.

What does it mean to hold firmly to our confidence?

The author uses the example of the fathers disobedience in the wilderness as a contrast to what it means to hold firmly to our hope. 

Hebrews Chapter 3:7-19

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7 Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “Today if you hear His voice, 8 Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as on the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 Where your fathers put Me to the test, and saw My works for forty years. 10 Therefore I was angry with this generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they did not know My ways’; 11 as I swore in My anger, ‘They certainly shall not enter My rest.’” 12 Take care, brothers and sisters, that there will not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another every day, as long as it is still called “today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we keep the beginning of our commitment firm until the end, 15 while it is said, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.” 16 For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose dead bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.

Moses was God’s chosen representative. He was to lead God’s people into the land that God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. If we read back through the account of Moses’ life in the Old Testament, we see that many did not get to enter because they failed to hold firmly to their confidence.

Numbers 14 tell us how God’s people sinned against Him through unbelief. The Lord was ready to lead them into the promised land. However, most of the congregation was afraid of the inhabitants of the land at that time. They failed to trust God to protect and provide. Instead, they grumbled against Moses and disobeyed his voice.

Because the people failed to trust God, he led them to wander through the wilderness for an additional 40 years. Most of them did not enter the promised land.

For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our fathers were all under the cloud and they all passed through the sea; 2 and they all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and they all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased; for their dead bodies were spread out in the wilderness. 6 Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they indeed craved them. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.” 8 Nor are we to commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. 9 Nor are we to put the Lord to the test, as some of them did, and were killed by the snakes. 10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were killed by the destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore let the one who thinks he stands watch out that he does not fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except something common to mankind; and God is faithful, so He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 NASB

We are not to follow after the Son the same way God’s people in the Old Testament followed after Moses. We are not to respond to the instruction of the Son as they responded to the instruction of Moses. 

We must hear His voice, pay attention, and follow what God has spoken in the Son. 

Verse 6 tells us that we are partakers of God’s house if we hold firmly to our confidence. Verse 14 says that we have become partakers of Christ if we keep the beginning of our commitment firm until the end.

So what does all this mean?

Understanding Hebrews chapter 3

Believers Bible Commentary on Hebrews 3 – Verses like this are often misused to teach that a person can be saved and then lost again. However, such an interpretation is impossible because the overwhelming testimony of the Bible is that salvation is freely bestowed by God’s grace, purchased by Christ’s blood, received by man’s faith, and evidenced by his good works. True faith always has the quality of permanence. We don’t hold fast in order to retain our salvation, but as proof that we have been genuinely saved. Faith is the root of salvation; endurance is the fruit. 

Those who truly belong to the house of God will endure until the end. This doesn’t mean that we won’t stumble along the way. This doesn’t mean that we won’t entertain the voice of doubt. This doesn’t mean that we won’t have to battle against the sin nature.

It does, however, mean that we will not continue in unbelief. Thankfully, God has made provision for this. As we continue on into chapter 4 we will see how God has provided what we need to hold fast.

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