“So then, brethren, consecrated and set apart for God, having answered the call from heaven, fix your thoughts on Jesus – the Apostle and High Priest of the Christian faith. Note how faithful He was to God who appointed Him. Moses was also faithful in every aspect of his duties in God’s house, but Christ is entitled to much more honor than Moses, just as the man who builds a house is held in greater esteem that the house itself. Every house has an archetect, but God constructed everything. Moses was a faithful household servant who bore witness to the coming revelation. But Christ is faithful as the Son in charge of His Father’s house. And we are part of His household, if we firmly hold onto the courage, joy, and confidence which our hope inspires – steadfastly to the end.” (paraphrased)
“Holy brethren” is a familial term of endearment and refers to the author’s Jewish brothers in Christ. The word “holy” means sanctified and consecrated for God’s service (10:10). Having answered God’s heavenly call, they no longer need priests and an earthly sanctuary. We are partakers because we will share heaven with the same spiritual family.
Jewish readers of this epistle had a tendency to fondly recall the colorful mosaic rituals. But such reminiscing could easily hinder their walk with Christ. To “consider” (katanoeo) Christ demands concentrated observation. Katanoeo is the same word Jesus uses when He encourages us to consider the ravens and the lilies (Lk. 12:24, 27). We are urged to attentively ponder and contemplate Jesus’ magnanimity, for He alone deserves our focused attention.
The apostleship of Christ is mentioned only here in the Bible. The word refers to one sent by another as an ambassador. As God’s emissary, Jesus fulfilled His redemptive mission. The concept of the high priest and the accompanying ceremonies distinguished Judaism from any other religion. All that was prefigured by the priesthood is perfectly fulfilled in Christ. In Latin, the word priest means “bridge-builder”. The Messiah came to bridge the gap between God and man. The High Priest was the chief officer of the tabernacle in the Old Testament. It was therefore necessary the writer depict Christ as the executive officer of His Church in the New Testament. As God’s Apostle, Jesus represents God to the people. As God’s High Priest, He represents the people to God.
Having shown Christ is superior to prophets and angels (1:1-3 & 1:4-2:18), the writer proceeds to show His superiority over Moses. Because this patriarch is considered the founder of Judaism, it is not surprising Moses is so revered. Many Jews even ranked him above angelic beings. Moses’ career was indeed exceptional. A few highlights include:
<> He was addressed by God from the burning bush (Ex. 3:2).
<> He delivered the people from Egyptian bondage (12:31).
<> He received the Ten Commandments at Sinai (31:18).
<> He led the Hebrews to the borders of the Promised Land (34:4).
<> He wrote the Pentateuch (Deut. 27:8).
Because of the tremendous respect Jews have for him, it is imperative the author approach this subject with caution. Moses and the law are so synonymous, it is often called “the law of Moses” (Lk. 2:22). The Jews accuse Stephen of speaking blasphemy “against Moses and God.” Such terminology placed Moses and God on the same level (Acts 7:11). The religious leaders defended themselves by claiming to be Moses’ disciples (Jn. 9:28). Jesus challenges them by saying, “If you really believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me” (Jn. 5:46).
The author makes no critical or disparaging remarks about Moses. He emphasizes his fidelity rather than his failures. His magnanimous character deserves veneration, but not adoration. Moses was faithful, but not perfect. He murdered an Egyptian and hid his body (Ex. 2:12-14). Instead of speaking to the rock to get water from it, he disobeyed and struck it (Num. 20:11). Because of this infraction, he was not allowed to enter the Promised Land (v. 12). Although he wavered at times, Moses was essentially faithful to his calling. In contrast, Jesus never once deviated from His Father’s will.
Before mentioning what distinguishes Jesus from Moses, the writer addresses their similarities as faithful men. To encourage loyalty to Christ, the writer points out how conscientiously Moses discharged the duties with which he was entrusted. “House” refers to the household of faith—the community of Believers. Paul refers to the house of God as “the Church of the living God” (I Tim. 3:15).
The Hebrews should remember that the talents of Moses were gifts bestowed by God. The honor due to Jesus far outweighs the honor due to any servant of God. “Counted worthy” pictures a scale upon which these two personalities are balanced. Moses was a faithful worker in God’s household, but Jesus was the architect who designed, built, and established His Church (Jn. 1:3).
A house cannot build itself; a building presupposes a builder. The inventor receives more honor than his invention, just as an author receives more praise than the book he writes. The builder is superior to any house he builds, for the structure is only an expression of the contractor. The old covenant introduced through Moses is inferior to the new covenant introduced through Christ. Moses was a servant, but Messiah is the Son. The Hebrews had been faithful to Moses; now they must be faithful to Christ.
Households are established by human beings, but God established everything. “Without Him was not anything made” (Jn. 1:3). The word “built” includes the idea of furnishing the building with everything necessary for it to function efficiently. The Son of God is the Master and Supervisor of the household of faith. “Christ is the head of the Church and He is the Savior of the body” (Eph. 5:23).
The word for slavish servitude is dulos, but the term “servant” here is therapon. It bespeaks the voluntary and honorable service of a subordinate rather than a slave. Citing Numbers 12:7, the writer confirms Moses as a devoted worker. However. Christ is the singular focus of all the prophecies recorded by Moses. Faithfulness is a prerequisite for good stewardship (I Cor. 4:2). Moses was a loyal servant in the household of God….but God’s Son supervises this household. Jesus reminds us that a servant does not remain in the household forever; only the Son of God remains forever (Jn. 8:35).
“But Christ” is a phrase that reiterates Jesus’ superiority over Moses. We are part of God’s household as we maintain our stedafast allegiance to Christ (4:14 & 10:23). This analogy is not unique to the book of Hebrews. In various passages, Believers are called “temples of God” (I Cor. 3:16), “temples of the Holy Spirit” (6:19), “a spiritual house” (I Pet. 2:5), and “the household of God” (Eph. 2:19-22).
The writer is fully aware of the price his readers have paid to embrace their Messiah (Heb. 10:34). However, only fervent fidelity to Christ is evidence of their salvation. “If you continue in my Word, then are you my disciples indeed” (Jn. 8:31). One may accept Christ on the spur of the moment, but only those who persevere to the end will be saved (Mt. 10:22).
Whereas Moses was a servant in the house, the Son sustains the house. The servant has no authority, owns nothing, and inherits nothing. The Son has all authority, owns everything, and inherits everything. The phrase, “of whose family we are a part” verifies our inclusiveness in the household of God. “Confidence” (parresia) bespeaks courage and boldness. Rather than being ashamed of Christ, we must hold on confidently and courageously to Him. Our hope should embolden us to perpetually testify about Christ. Believers should be joyful throughout their lives on earth, knowing their joy will continue in heaven.
These six opening verses in chapter three are a preamble to the first of five warnings contained within the book. All five admonitions have a singular purpose: to caution the readers against reverting back to Judaism. In Hebrews, we find an often repeated insistence on fidelity as the concrete evidence of salvation. If we do not firmly embrace Jesus as Lord, we face the same consequences of unbelief the Israelites faced in the wilderness. If the punishment for disobedience under the Mosaic Law was fearful, the result of forsaking Jesus will be even more devastating. Believers have everything to gain by alligeance to Jesus and everything to lose by letting Him go.
QUESTIONS: CHRIST GREATER THAN MOSES Hebrews 3:1-6
1. What is said about Moses in Numbers 12:7? (3:2)
2. Who do the Pharisees claim to follow? (John 9:28)
3. What is said about Moses in Psalm 105:26? (3:2)
4. Moses illustrates his frustration with the Israelites by doing what? (Number 20:11)
5. Believers are seen as God’s “house” in Hebrews 3:6. What are they called in II Corinthians 3:16?
6. What did Jesus command us to do in Matthew 24:13? (3:6)
7. According to Colossians 1:23, what must we continue in? (3:6)
8. In I Peter 2:15, Believers are described as:
A. angelic beings
E. a spiritual house
9. What does Paul tell Timothy to hold on to? (I Tim. 6:12, 19)
10. Discuss way in which you and your mate serve God’s house—your local church.
11. Dialogue concerning the benefits of being faithful to God’s house.