Hebrews 3





Here begins the second section of the argument of the first four chapters (see

summary given under ch.1:5 THE SON SUPERIOR TO THE ANGELS

v.5- ch. 3:1).  But though a new branch of the argument begins, it is linked,

after the artistic manner of the Epistle, to what has gone before in a continuous

chain of thought. This sequence is denoted by the initiatory Ὅθεν hothen

wherefore; whence.


1 “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling,

consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ

Jesus;  This is the attitude which all Christians should maintain towards

their Lord and Saviour  -  Wherefore, holy brethren……. consider the

Apostle and High Priest of our profession! Wherefore, holy brethren,

 partakers of a heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our

confession, Jesus (Χριστον ChristonChrist - before Ἰησοῦν IaesounJesus –

is ill supported, and to be rejected from the text).  Reference to what has gone

before is perceptible throughout this verse.  The persons addressed are “holy,”

as being among the “sanctified” (ch.2:11); “brethren,” as being, with the writer,

in this relation to Christ (Ibid. vs.11-13, 17); their calling is a heavenly one, being

from heaven (ch.1:1) and to heaven (ch.2:10). Jesus is their “Apostle,” as having

been sent into the world, as above set forth, from God; their “High Priest,” as

implied, though not distinctly expressed, at the end of ch. 2., which led up to the

idea. “Jesus” is added at the end in apposition, so as to fix attention on Him, as

the bearer of these titles, who was known by that name in the flesh. On the title

“Apostle,” we may observe that, though it is nowhere else in the New Testament

applied to Christ, yet its idea with respect to Him is frequent both in this Epistle

and elsewhere (compare Luke 4:43; 9:48; 10:16; John 17:3, 18). The word

ὁμολογίας – homologies – confession; avowal (translated profession – in the

Authorized Version) is generally used for the Christian’s avowal of his faith

before men (compare ch.4:14; 10:23; II Corinthians 9:13; I Timothy 6:12). The

genitive here depends on both the preceding substantives, its force

probably being that Jesus, as Apostle and High Priest, is the object of our

confession of faith. On Jesus, then, being such, the readers are called to fix

earnestly their mental gaze (even to stare – my translation of ἐθεασάµεθα

etheasametha we gaze  in I John 1:1 – CY – 2014) and in doing so take

further note of His superiority to Moses, which is the subject of what follows.



Heavenly Things (v. 1)


There are four heavenly things spoken of in this Epistle which it may be

well here to connect together.


  • THE HEAVENLY CALLING. Elsewhere the upward calling. A voice

out of the pure, the abiding, the unchangeable. A voice of love, pity,

invitation, authority, such as could not sound from anywhere in this

distracted, defiled world.


  • THE HEAVENLY GIFT. The δώρεα doreagift, the free donation of

God; the gift bestowed for men to taste and live by; the bread of eternal life.

Remember what James says, that “every perfect gift is from above”

(James 1:17).


  • THE HEAVENLY COUNTRY. The fatherland; the πατρίς patris

country - of the Christian. The voice from heaven calls us there. The

heavenly gift is for our provision by the way; the manna of our desert life

(ch. 11:16).


  • THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM Where all the glory of the heavenly

fatherland is concentrated. The treasures of a land are represented in its

capital city. Jerusalem gave a site for the temple, a palace for the king

(ch. 12:22).



Consider Jesus (v. 1)


The exhortation of this verse marks the transition from the first section of

the treatise to those which follow. Its reference is both retrospective and

prospective. Indeed, the whole Epistle says in effect, “Consider what is

written herein concerning Jesus; for He is greater than the prophets, greater

than the angels, greater than Moses and Joshua, greater than Aaron, and.

pre-eminent among the heroes of faith.”




Ø      The Apostle of the gospel Jesus, the Son of God (and no longer

prophets or angels), is now THE DIVINE AMBASSADOR TO MEN!

God has sent Him to us, as He sent Moses (Exodus 3.) to the ancient

Israelites (here vs. 1-19; ch. 4:1-13). It is singularly appropriate that

Christ, the Sent of God, should be called God’s “Apostle.”


Ø      The “High Priestof the Church. As our Mediator, Jesus draws near

to God for us. He:

o       expiates,

o       propitiates,

o       reconciles, and

o       intercedes (ch. 4:14; 10:21). Through Christ, as Apostle, God

holds communion with us; and through Christ, as High Priest,

we hold communion with God.




Ø      Holy brethren. This phrase evidently looks back to ch. 2:11

and following verses. Believers are so styled on account of their

common oneness with Christ, their Sanctifier and eider Brother.


Ø      Partakers of a heavenly calling. This refers to the sovereign gift of

regeneration, and of the blessings flowing from it, which all believers

have received. The “calling” is “heavenly,” because it has come from

heaven; it creates heaven within us; and it conducts to heaven.


Ø      Confessors of Christ. Jesus expects His people to make an open and

proud avowal of attachment to Him as their Teacher and Priest.

Believers confess Him:

o       by connecting themselves with His Church,

o       by sitting at His table of communion,

o       by defending His honor,

o       by spreading His truth, and especially

o       by reflecting His likeness in their lives.



centers in Christ; in fact, Christ Himself is Christianity. Personal religion

does not consist in any merely intellectual acceptance of gospel truth; it is a

life of loving devotion to the living Savior. How necessary, then, that we

consider Jesus,”

§         earnestly,

§         intensely,

§         habitually, and

make the study of Him the main interest and business of life! We must

consider Him:


Ø      To know Him. We are saved through faith in Christ; but knowledge is

necessary in order to faith. If we would know the Redeemer in His

Person, natures, offices, and work, we must “CONSIDER” HIM!


Ø      To love Him. A Christian is one who loves Christ; but this love will fill

his heart only in so far as he gazes admiringly upon the God-Man, who

loved him and gave Himself for him!


Ø      To serve Him. If we truly love Christ as our Savior, this love will

control and dominate our life. But, in order to know His will, our

eyes must always “look unto the hand of our Master.”  (Psalm



Ø      To become like Him. Sanctification can be effected only by always

looking unto Jesus”  (ch. 12:2) for mercy and grace and aid, until

we finally attain the prize of the heavenly calling.


  • CONCLUSION. This subject suggests a test of character.


Ø      Do I belong to the holy brotherhood?

Ø      Have I accepted the heavenly calling?

Ø      Do I confess Christ with my lip and in my life?

Ø      Is the contemplation of Jesus my most cherished desire?


2 “Who was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was

faithful in all his house.” Who was faithful (or, as being faithful) to Him that

appointed (literally, made) Him, as also Moses was in all his house. The

reference is to what was said of Moses (Numbers 12:7), “My servant

Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house,” and serves aptly to

introduce the intended comparison of Christ with him. In respect of

faithfulness to Him who constituted Him in his office, Christ resembles

Moses; in respect to His office itself, it is to be shown that He is far above

him. Observe:


(1) that “His house” means God’s house, as is plain from the text cited, i.e.

the house of  Him who appointed Him;

(2) that “in all his house” has reference to Moses only, not to Christ; for

the main point of what follows is that Christ is over God’s house, not in it,

as Moses was. As to the verb ποιήσαντι poinsantione making (translated in

Authorized Version“appointed), it may have been suggested by I Samuel 12:6,

where the Septuagint reads κύριος ποιήσας τὸν Μωυσῆν καὶ τὸν Ααρων

kurios ho poinsas ton Mousaen kai ton Aaron – Yahweh who appointed Moses

and Aaron, the Hebrew verb being hc[", which seems to mean in this case

constitute,” not “create.”  The preceding words, ἀπόστολον καὶ ἀρχιερέα -

apostolon kai archiereaApostle and Chief Priest (v.1) though it is not

necessary to supply them as understood, may be taken here to rule the meaning

of ποιήσαντι (cf. for a similar use of the verb without a second accusative

following, Mark 3:14, καὶ ἐποίησεν δώδεκα kai epoinsen dodekaand He

makes twelve; and He ordains twelve.


3 “For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses,

inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honor than

the house.”  For of more glory than Moses hath this man (so Authorized

Version for οὗτοςhoutosthis one -, supplying man, though it is to be

observed that the humanity of the person spoken of is not expressed in the

original) been counted worthy (ἠξίωται aexiotaiHe has been counted

worthycompare  ch. 10:24; Luke 7:7; I Timothy 5:17; II Thessalonians 1:11),

by so much as more honor than the house hath he that built (or, established) it.

Here the account of Christ’s superiority to Moses begins. On the several

expressions used we remark:


(1) The initiatory γὰρ  - gar – for - connects the sentence logically with κατανοήσατε -

katanoaesateconsider ye - in v. 1, and thus retains its usual sense of “for.”


(2) The form of comparison in the Greek, πλείονος ….παρὰ - pleionospara

more…..than - is the same as in ch.1:4, where the account of Christ’s superiority

to angels began (on which ch.1).


(3) The (δόξης doxaes - glory) here assigned to Christ is the “glory and honor”

spoken of above as attained by Him in consequence of His human obedience

(ch.2:9, “because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor”).

This, rather than “the glory he had with the Father before the world was

(John 17:5), is suggested by the word ἠξίωται, as well as by the drift of the

preceding chapters. We may suppose also a reference, in contrast, to the transitory

glory on the countenance of Moses (καταργουµένου katargoumenouthat

which was abolished; was passing away; vanishing- II Corinthians 3:13), which is

contrasted with the ὑπερβαλλούσης δόξης· - huperballousaes doxaesglory that

excelleth; transcending glory - in Christ. We observe, further, that in the latter part

of the verse τιµὴν timaenhonor is substituted for δόξης (glory) as more suitable

to the mundane comparison of a house and its builder.


(4) κατασκευάζειν kataskeuazeinto build; construct – (v. 4) may include the

idea of fitting up and furnishing a house as well as building it. But what is the

drift of the intended argument? It is usual, with the Fathers generally, to suppose

that Christ (οὗτος) is intended to be denoted as the Builder or Establisher of the

house in which Moses was a servant, and that the argument is that He, as such, is

necessarily greater than the servant, who was but a part of the house, or

household, thus established.  Oἶκος oikoshouse -  it is to be observed, may

include in its meaning the family, as well as the house itself, as may κατασκευάζειν

include the idea of constituting the whole establishment (cf. infra, “whose

house we are”). Among moderns, Hofmann and Delitzsch deny this

identification of κατασκευάσας – ho kataskeuasas  - one who hath builded;

one constructing with οὗτος  (this Man; this One) : against which there are the

following reasons:


(a) The SON has not been represented so far in the Epistle as the

originator of the economy of redemption. Notwithstanding distinct

intimations of His eternal pre-existent Deity (as in ch.1:1-2, 10),

it has been as the Messiah, the Apostle and High Priest, manifested in time,

and passing through humanity to glory, that He has been regarded in the

preceding argument. Nor is there any proof here adduced of His being the

Builder of the “house,” so as to justify the conclusion on this ground of His

glory being greater than that of Moses.


(b) The word (ἠξίωται - has been counted worthy of) suggests reference to the

glory won by Him, “on account of the suffering of death,” rather than to His

pristine glory as the Divine Builder.


(c) Elsewhere in the New Testament, when the Church is referred to under

the figure of a house, it is spoken of as God’s building (ch. 10:21; I Timothy 3:15;

I Corinthians 3:9, 16; II Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:22; I Peter 2:5; 4:17). It is

never spoken of as Christ’s.


(d) The wording of v. 3 does not necessitate the identification of κατασκευάσας  -

with οὗτος.   Καθὅσονkath hosonaccording to; as much as - means “so far as;

it implies only that the glory of Christ is greater than that of Moses, in proportion

as the honor of the builder is greater than that of the house.


(e) The identification increases the difficulty of understanding the relevance

to the argument of v. 4, of which more will be said presently. Taking,

then, κατασκευάσας , to denote God the Father, we may state the

argument thus: God is the Builder, or Founder, of His own house. Christ

has been already shown to be His SON, associated with him in dignity and

power, and, as such, Lord over his Father’s house. Moses, on the other

hand, as appears from Numbers 12:7, was but a servant in God’s

house. As, then, the Founder is to the house, so is the Son and Lord to a

servant in it; the Son partaking of the glory of the Founder; the servant

only of that of the house in which he serves. According to this view of the

argument, the premises have been established, and the conclusion follows;

the relation of Christ to the Builder of the house has been set forth in the

preceding chapter, and may be now assumed; that of Moses is sufficiently

shown by the quotation from the Pentateuch. Thus also vs. 5 and 6 are

found to carry out naturally the idea here introduced, instead of

unexpectedly starting a different one.


4 “For every house is builded by some man; but He that built all things

is God.” For every house is builded (or, established) by some one; but

he that built (or, established) all things is God. Of the second clause of

this verse “God” is rightly taken by modern commentators as the subject,

not the predicate, though the Fathers generally take it otherwise. Thus

Theodoret, regarding πάντα κατασκευάσας – ho panta kataskeuasas  

 the one, the all constructing as a designation of Christ, views this clause as

an assertion of his Deity on the ground of His being the Founder of all things.

But this view introduces an idea out of keeping with the argument, and especially

with the preceding expression, “faithful to Him who appointed Him” (v. 2),

in which Christ, in His office as the Christ, is distinguished from the Creator of

all who appointed Him to that office. The verse seems to be interposed in

elucidation of the preceding κατασκευάσας αὐτόν – ho kataskeuasas auton-

the one constructing it - to make it clear that the Founder of the house

spoken of is God Himself, and thus to give full effect to the proportionate

glory of Christ in comparison with that of Moses. Thus: the glory of Christ

is greater than that of Moses by so much as the honor of the founder of a

house is greater than that of the house; — of the founder, we say; for every

house has some founder: but God is the original Founder of all things, and

therefore of necessity the Founder of this house of His own in which Moses

was a servant. The verse, thus interpreted, seems (as intimated there) to fall

in with the train of thought more naturally than it can be shown to do if

Christ is ‘regarded as the Builder. Possibly “all things” may be purposely

used to denote the house itself over which Christ, as Son, is Lord. For,

though the expression seems too wide for the limited house in which

Moses was a servant, it is not so for the expanded and consummated house

over which Christ in glory reigns; compare ch. 1:2, “Whom He appointed Heir

of all things; and ch.2:8, “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet;”

the last being said in special connection with the “glory and honor” wherewith

Christ “has been counted worthy” to be crowned. It is not necessary to confine

the meaning of “God’s house” to the Mosaic dispensation, or to assign to it

(as some have done) two separate meanings in the cases of Moses and of Christ.

It may be regarded as a comprehensive term, including in its general meaning the

Law, the gospel, and the final consummation the whole dispensation of

redemption, beginning with the Law, and completed at the second advent.

Moses held office in its early stage, and there only as a servant; in its

ultimate development it comprises “all things,” and over “all things,” thus

comprised, Christ, as SON, has been shown to be by inheritance



5 “And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a

testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;  6 But Christ as

a son over His own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence

and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”  And Moses verily was faithful

in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were

afterwards to be spoken; but Christ, as Son over His house. We have already

anticipated the explanation of this passage, which, according to the view taken

above, is a setting forth of the distinction between Christ and Moses intended from

the first; that of one being “Son over,” the other but “servant in, the house

of God. The rendering of the Authorized Version, “His own house,” in v. 6, where

Christ is spoken of, is not justifiable. It is true that we have no means of

knowing whether αὐτοῦ - autouhimself  or αὑτοῦ - hautouthis person here –

 was intended, and that even αὐτοῦ - autou - might, according to the usage of

Hellenistic Greek, refer to Christ; but if the writer had so intended it, he might

easily have avoided ambiguity by writing ἑαυτὸῦ - heatou -  oneself; himself.  

He has not done so; and, therefore, it is most natural to take His house” in

the same sense throughout the passage; viz. as” God’s house,” referred to in

Numbers 12:7, whence the expression is taken. We observe further that “the

things that were afterwards to be spoken (τῶν λαληθησοµένων – ton

 lalaethaesomenonof the shall be spoken)” must be taken as denoting the future

speaking of God to man “in His SON” (compare ch.1:1); not, as

some interpret, the speaking through Moses himself in the Law. Moses was

inferior to Christ, not only in respect to his personal position as a servant,

but also in respect to his work as such; which was only to testify

beforehand, typically and prophetically, to a fuller revelation to come.

Whose house we are. Here begins the transition to the warning intended

when the “holy brethren” were first called on to “consider the Apostle and

High Priest of our confession,” who has now been seen to be so much

greater than Moses. We Christians constitute this completed “house of

God,” over which Christ reigns as Son; if only warned by the example of

the Israelites under Moses, we forfeit not our higher calling. This condition

is expressed by If we hold fast the confidence (or, our confidence) and

the rejoicing (rather, boast) of the (i.e. our) hope firm unto the end.

Παρρησίαν parraesian - (often rendered “boldness;” see below, ch.4:16;

10:19, 35) is the confidence felt by assured believers; καύχηµα kauchaema

boast; glorying - is the boast thereupon ensuing. This word (as also καυχᾶσθαι

kauchasthai)  is often used by Paul (compare Romans 4:2; 5:2; I Corinthians 5:6:

9:15; II Corinthians 1:14; 5:12; 9:3; Galatians 6:4; Philippians 1:26; 2:16).

Its proper meaning is not (as is by many supposed) the materies

gloriandi, but the uttered boast itself.  . The coneluding words, µέχρι τέλους

βεβαίαν mechri telous bebaianfirm unto the end - are omitted in the Codex

Vatican, and, notwithstanding the preponderance of authority in their favor,

may have been interpolated from v. 14, especially as the reading is not βεβαίον

so as to agree with the substantive immediately preceding, but βεβαίαν, as in

v. 14.


If we remain perseveringly steadfast in our gospel faith, and joyful in our spiritual

hope, we have therein the evidence that we ourselves belong to God’s house, the




The Superiority of Christ (vs. 1-6)



JEWISH LAWGIVER ASSERTED. Having proved that our Lord was by

nature and by His work infinitely above the angels, and that His assuming

our flesh qualified Him to be the great High Priest, it was desirable to show

that He was immeasurably greater than Moses, who was the human

mediator in establishment of the covenant and Law. The apostle knew the

luster with which the name and ministry of Moses were always surrounded

in the minds of the people of Israel, and therefore with admirable wisdom

he proceeds to claim for Jesus Christ His rightful ascendancy and special

glory. Jewish believers are addressed as “holy brethren” and partakers of

the heavenly calling, which differed from the calling which invited the tribes

to march and take possession of Canaan. It is heavenly because it comes to

them from heaven and calls them to heaven, and is heard continually by the

spiritual ear of those who are advancing to the “rest which remaineth for

the people of God.”  (ch. 4:9)  Moses had a glory which was that of fidelity

to the thoughts and ideas of Jehovah, who said to him, “See that thou make all

things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.” (Exodus 25:40;

ch. 8:5)  When the tabernacle was finished God looked upon the work and

blessed it, because it faithfully realized His design. He was faithful in receiving

communications from God and delivering them to the people, and in publishing

the laws respecting sacrifices, ceremonies, and social life. He uttered predictions

respecting the future course of Israel and the character and ministry of the

Lord Jesus, and could say, as Paul said, “That which I have received of the

Lord have I delivered unto you.” (I Corinthians 11:23)  He was faithful to

the interests of the people, and in a time of danger from the righteous anger

of Jehovah was willing to die for them (Exodus 32:32). He was a servant in

the house, and ministered under Him who was its Architect and Builder. Our

Lord rises infinitely above Moses, because He is a Son, and by His dignity

and nature is far above all angels, all patriarchs, and prophets, and even Moses

himself, who spake to God “face to face.” This is confirmed by the events

of the Transfiguration, for when Moses and Elijah were with Him in glory

the voice was heard, “This is my beloved Son; hear Him.” (Matthew 17:5)

The apostle invites us to consider the sublime edifice of the Church, which is

the work of God, who created all things, in which Jesus Christ has a special

and glorious ministry as the Son of the Father. He is faithful as Moses was in

the range of his Divine communications, and said, “Whatsoever I speak

therefore, even as the Father said to me, so I speak” (John 12:50). He

came to do the Father’s will in His mighty and sacrificial sorrows, and

drank the bitter Cup that we might drink the cup of blessing. He promised

to see His disciples again, and to pour out the Spirit upon them. Peter

stood with joy on the day of Pentecost, and affirmed, “He hath shed forth

that which ye now see and hear.” (Acts 2:33)  The existence of His Church

proves His faithfulness; for the gates of hell have not prevailed against it;

and “blessed are all they that trust in Him.”  (Psalm 2:12)



OF HIS GLORY. To “consider” signifies to withdraw from the excitement

and turbulence of human life to look steadily at the Son of God,

and resemble, in some degree, the astronomer who enters into

his observatory to gaze in silence on the glory of the heavens above. It was

needful for Jewish Christians to look to the glory of Christ, as the best way

to counteract the discouragements which arose from the opposition of the

synagogue and of those to whom the cross of Christ was a stumbling-block

and an offence. The truth of His priesthood was to be acknowledged, and

the glory of His apostleship was to be confessed; for He was sent by the

Father to reveal His will and claim our faith; and “whosoever will not hear

this Prophet shall be destroyed from among the people.”  (Deuteronomy

18:19; Acts 3:23)  If the steady contemplation of Jesus Christ was necessary

for Jewish believers, it is equally so for ourselves. It is by beholding Him we

are changed into the same image of constancy, and hold fast the cheerful

confidence with which we began the career, and cherish the exaltation of

our hope to the end of our earthly life. Then those who die in the Lord

gain the precious recompense of the congratulation and welcome of the

Redeemer, who will greet them with those sacred words, “Well done,

good and faithful servant: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”  (Matthew

25:23)  Believers are besought by the endearing appeal to their brotherhood

to be faithful to Him who was faithful as a Son, to whom they are

predestinated to be conformed; and as He is not ashamed to call us brethren,

we should strive to please Him who encourages us to be faithful unto death,

and He will give us “the crown of life.”  (Revelation 2:10)



Christ Greater than Moses (vs. 2-6)


It was a delicate thing to utter such a thought even to many of the Jews

who had embraced Christianity, for the whole Hebrew nation guarded with

intense jealousy the name and fame of Moses. But the writer acknowledges

to the full the lofty dignity and splendid services of the ancient lawgiver,

and then proceeds to show that Jesus Christ has been counted worthy of

still greater honor.


  • CHRIST’S SIMILARITY TO MOSES. (v. 2.) The very fact of a

comparison being instituted between Jesus and Moses reminds us of

Moses’ greatness. Moses had a romantic personal history; his character

was adorned with the grandest gifts of grace and genius; and he

accomplished an illustrious life-work. He was a type of Christ both in

character and career. The Jews venerated him almost to idolatry as their

deliverer, leader, lawgiver, prophet, and advocate with God. Now, Christ

was “a Prophet like unto Moses” (Deuteronomy 18:15). He is the

Moses of the New Testament. V. 2 suggests points of resemblance

between the two.


Ø      Each introduced a new dispensation. “The Law was given by

Moses; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”  (John 1:17) 

The Jews were “baptized unto Moses;” Christians are “baptized

into Christ.” The writings of Moses are to the Old Testament

Scriptures what the granite formation is to the other strata of the

earth’s crust; so the written life of Christ is the foundation of

New Testament Scripture.


Ø      Each was divinely commissioned and supported in his work. Moses,

with his marvelous gifts, was raised up and trained and called by

Providence to his life-task; and so was Jesus. Moses enjoyed

peculiarly intimate fellowship with God, for “the Lord knew him

face to face;” (Deuteronomy 34:10) and so did Jesus.


Ø      Each was divinely recognized as faithful. Fidelity to duty is

the crown and flower of character. “My servant Moses is faithful

in all mine house” (Numbers 12:7). “This is my beloved Son,

in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him” (Matthew 17:5).


  • CHRIST’S SUPERIORITY TO MOSES. (vs. 3-6.) It was right that

the memory of the lawgiver should be cherished with profound veneration;

but, behold, a greater than Moses is here. Jesus has merited still larger



Ø      Christ is the “Builder” of the Church; Moses was only one of

the stones in it. (vs. 3-4) The Son of God, “through whom

also He made the ages” (ch. 1:2), is the real Founder of

every dispensation of religion. (I recommend Clarence Larkin’s

Dispensational Truth – CY – 2014)  He redeemed the Old

Testament Church, not less than the New, with His blood,

and caused it to grow by His Spirit. Moses only introduced the

Hebrew economy; it was God in Christ who founded it. Moses was

a constituent member of the Jewish Church, i.e. a ransomed sinner,

saved by grace like other men; a “living stone” built into the

spiritual house by Christ the Master Builder.  (I Peter 2:5)


Ø      Christ is a Sonset over God’s house; Moses was only a servant

within it. (vs. 5, 6.) Moses ministered in the Church as a confidential

house-steward, or honored upper-servant; but Christ entered it as its

Master, to preside over it by virtue of His Divine sonship. The author

has already expatiated on this theme in ch. 1.; and surely Jesus, the

Apostle of Christianity, is more renowned than Moses, seeing that He

is the very Image of God, and the Lord of all the angels.


Ø      Christ is the incarnateWord of God; Moses was only His forerunner.

(v. 5.) Moses bore testimony to “those things which were afterward to

be spoken” — to the new and final revelation to be made at last, when

God should speak “in His Son” (ch.1:2). Moses was the harbinger,

Christ the illustrious Prince Himself; the revelations of Moses were the faint

twilight of the morning, those of Christ the full splendor of noonday; the

institutions of Moses were the scaffolding, those of Christ the finished

fabric of religious truth.


7 “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear His voice, 

8  Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in

the wilderness:  9  When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my

works forty years.  10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and

said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. 

11 So I swear in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)”

Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear His voice, harden

not your hearts. The warning, thus led up to, is now introduced by a long

quotation from Psalm 95:7-11, which is cited at length, because the writer is

about to dwell on its whole significance in the remainder of this and also in

the succeeding chapter. The warning is connected by διό - diowherefore –

with the conclusion of v. 6. Since our continuing to be God’s house is on the

condition of our steadfastness, therefore beware of failing, as the Israelites

referred to by the psalmist did. With regard to the construction of the passage,

there is some difficulty in discovering the apodosis to the initiatory καθὼς

kathos - according as - (as saith the Holy Ghost). It seems best

to suppose one understood, being suggested by “harden not your hearts,”

which occurs m the midst of the quotation. Sentences thus grammatically

incomplete are in the style of Paul. Otherwise the apodosis must be

found in βλέπετε blepetetake heed; be ye bewaring (v. 12), the long

intervening passage being parenthetical. It is, after all, only a question of

grammatical construction; in any case the general meaning is clear. As to

the successive clauses of the quotation from Psalm 95 (vers. 7-11), it is to

be observed that:


(1) “If ye will hear His voice” may probably mean in the Hebrew, “Oh that

ye would hear His voice!” But the Greek of the Septuagint, cited in the Epistle,

is capable of the same meaning. Here, again, the meaning of the particular

phrase does not affect the drift of the passage.


(2) “Harden not your hearts” expresses the abjuration which ensues from

resistance of grace. Elsewhere such judicial hardening is attributed to God;

as when He is said to have hardened Pharaoh’s heart (compare Isaiah 6:9,

etc.; Matthew 13:13). The two modes of expression involve no difference of

doctrine. It is:


·         God’s doing as being judicial;

·         man’s as being due to his own perversity.


As in the provocation, in the day of the temptation in the wilderness. Here,

κατὰ τὴν ἡµέραν  - kata taen haemeranin the day of; which  is from the

Septuagint, may mean “at the time of” (compare Acts 16:25, κατὰ δὲ τὸ

µεσονύκτιον kata de to mesonuktionand at midnight; according to yet

the midnight,” i.e. “after the manner of.” The former agrees best with the

Hebrew psalm, which has “As at Meribah, as on the day of Massah in the

wilderness,” referring to the two places called by these names from what

occurred there, when the people murmured for want of water. The first

 occurrence was at Rephidim, in the wilderness of Sin, at the commencement of

the wandering (Exodus 17:1-8); the second was in the wilderness of Zin, near

Kadesh, towards the end of the forty years (Numbers 20:1-14). Both names are

assigned to the former place in Exodus 17:7; but elsewhere they are distinguished

(see Deuteronomy 33:8). In the text, following the Septuagint, equivalents of the

Hebrew names are given, Massah being rendered literally by πειρασμὸς

peirasmos - temptation : Meribah (equivalent to “strife “) by the unusual word

παραπικρασμῷ - parapikrasmoprovocation; embitterment - which occurs only

here and in the psalm, though the verb παραπικρὶνω parapikrinoto embitter –

is common in the Septuagint. The root of the word being πικρὸς- - pikros - bitter,

it may possibly have been suggested by the occurrence at Marah (equivalent

to “bitterness”), where there was also a murmuring about water (Exodus 15:23),

πικρὶα pikriabitterness  being the Septuagint equivalent of Marah.


(3) When (οὗ - houwhen - in the sense of ὅπου hopouin what place;

where, as is common in the Septuagint and New Testament) your fathers tempted

me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. In place of the reading of the

Textus Receptus, ἐδοκιμασίν μεedokimasin me - proved me, which agrees with the

Septuagint, the authority of manuscripts is in favor of ἐν δοκιμασίᾳ - en dokimasia

in they test - This again, like the ether variations of reading, is of no importance with

regard to the meaning. But further, in the original Hebrew, and apparently in the

Septuagint, “forty years” is connected with the clause that follows: “forty years

long was I grieved,” etc.; whereas, in the text, the interposition of διό (wherefore)

at the beginning of v. 10, necessitates its connection with “saw my works.” It is

possible that the writer of the Epistle intended a reference to the corresponding

forty years from the manifestation of Christ to the destruction of Jerusalem,

which were drawing to their close at the time of writing, and during which the

Israelites of his day were TRYING GOD BY THE REJECTION OF THE

GOSPEL,  (Think of the implications of today in this INFORMATION AGE!

CY – 2014) or, in the case of some of the believers addressed, by their wavering

allegiance to it. The supposition that this idea was in the writer’s mind is supported

by the fact that Jewish writers refer to the psalm as assigning forty years for

the days of the Messiah (see reference in Bleek, Delitzsch, Alford, etc.).

That the writer had an intention in his variation from the original is the

more likely from his following it correctly afterwards in v. 17.


(4) As I sware in my wrath, If they shall enter into my rest. The

reference here is to Numbers 14:21, etc., beginning with the Divine

oath, “As truly as I live,” which is again repeated in v. 28. The occasion

was not the murmuring either at Massah or at Meribah, but the general

rebellion of the whole congregation after the return of the spies,

betokening a universal spirit of ἀπιστίαapistia – unbelief (compare v. 19).

Εἰ εἰσελεύσονται Ei eiseleusontai - If they shall be entering  - is an elliptical

form of oath, expressing strong negation.



On Hearing God’s Voice (vs. 7-8)




The witness of the New Testament to the Divine inspiration of the Old.


“The Holy Ghost saith, To-day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your

hearts.” “The Holy Ghost saith (Psalm 95:7-11). We have in the text:


  • A GREAT FACT IMPLIED. That God speaks to man. The “if” does

not indicate uncertainty as to the Divine voice, but as to man’s attention to

this voice. There is no question as to whether God will speak to man or

not, but whether man will heed His communications. Notice:


Ø      The object for which God speaks to man. This object is that man may be

saved. The Divine voice proclaims and proffers a “great salvation,” and

publishes redemptive truth to man.


Ø      The organs by which He speaks to man.


o       By the sacred Scriptures, and especially in the life and

 teachings of His Son, Jesus Christ, as recorded therein.

“God… hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in

His Son.”

o       By Christian ministries, especially the preaching of His gospel.

“We are ambassadors on behalf of Christ, as though God were

entreating by us,” etc. (II Corinthians 5:20).

o       By the voice of our conscience. In its approbation of the right

and its condemnation of the wrong, God speaks to us.

o       By the events of His providence.

o       By the influences of His Holy Spirit. He speaks within the

soul of man.  He imparts emphasis and energy to the other

voices by which God addresses us.


Ø      The frequency with which He speaks to man. Our text implies that He

speaks to us daily. And surely by some one or more of these voices, every

day He addresses to us:

o       some prohibition or persuasion,

o       some caution or encouragement,

o       some precept or promise,

o       some invitation or warning.

Were our susceptibility to Divine influences greater, we should ever

hear the utterances of the Divine voice.


  • A MOMENTOUS DUTY EXPRESSED. Our duty is to hear God’s

voice. Consider:


Ø      The signification of hearing God’s voice. It is not mere hearing that is

meant here, but:

o       earnest attention to God’s voice,

o       hearty belief in His communications, and

o       willing obedience to His commands.


Ø      The season for hearing God’s voice. Today; i.e. now, because:


o       life is uncertain. “Ye know not what shall be on

the morrow. For what is your life?” etc. (James 4:14).

o       procrastination is perilous. The postponement of our duty

today facilitates a further postponement of it tomorrow.

o       it is a present duty, and to defer the performance of it is,

therefore, sinful.


We ought to attend to God’s voice NOW!  The urgency of

this duty is suggested in the text. In the psalm from which it is

quoted, our text is virtually the expression of a wish, ‘Today if ye

will but hearken to His voice!’ or, “Oh that ye might this day hearken

to His voice!” The pathos and earnestness which the Holy Ghost puts

into this wish suggests the deep importance of the duty; compare

Psalm 81:13, “Oh that my people had hearkened unto me!” etc.


  • A SOLEMN CAUTION GIVEN. “Harden not your hearts.” The

sapling is pliant; it may be bent and trained as to the direction and form of

its growth. The full-grown tree is fixed in form, firm in texture, and

unbending in its resistance; it is hardened. Men harden their hearts:


Ø      By disregarding the voice of God,

Ø      by not recognizing the authority of their consciences,

Ø      by postponing the performance of religious duties,

Ø      by neglecting the great salvation, and

Ø      by practically despising or resisting the Holy Spirit of God.


Paul speaks of men who were “alienated from the life of God, because of

the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:18), and “who being past

feeling (Ibid. v. 19) had abandoned themselves to persistent and active

wickedness.  For such moral insensibility what hope remains? “Oh that

ye might this day hearken to His voice!”


12 “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of

unbelief, in departing from the living God.”  Take heed (literally, see),

brethren, lest haply there should be (literally, shall be) in any one of you

an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God. Here begins

definitely the hortatory application of the warning of the ninety-fifth psalm.

Its drift, to the end of the chapter, is: You, being called under the SON to

a far higher position than your fathers under Moses were, but the retention

of your position being, as theirs was, conditional on your faithfulness,

see that you do not forfeit it, as some of you may be in danger of doing.

That you may, if you are not careful, is shown by the very warning of the

psalm, and by the example of your fathers, referred to in the psalm, all of

whom, though called, failed of attainment THROUGH UNBELIEF!

It is implied all along that the“today of the psalm includes the present

day of grace, and points to a truer rest than that of Canaan, still offered

to the faithful. But the full bringing out of this thought is reserved for

the next chapter. On the language of v. 12 we observe:


(1) The same form of warning, Βλέπετε μὴ  - blepete maesee that no; be

bewaring no - occurs infra ch. 12:25, but then, suitably to the context, followed

by a subjunctive. Here the future indicative which follows μήποτε ἔσται

maepote estailest at some time there shall be -  denotes a fact in the

future, distinctly apprehended as possible (compare Colossians 2:8). It had

not ensued as yet, nor does the writer anticipate the probability of its being

the case with all his readers; but in the state of feeling with regard to the

gospel among the Hebrew Christians which the whole Epistle was intended

to counteract, he sees ground for fearing it in the case of some. Their

present wavering might result in APOSTASY!


(2) It is not necessary to analyze the expression, “an evil heart of unbelief,”

so as to settle whether the evil heart is regarded as the result of unbelief, or

unbelief of the evil heart; the main point to be observed is that UNBELIEF

is connected with moral culpability, as is implied further in v. 13. The

unbelief so condemned in Holy Scripture is not mere intellectual incapacity;

it is condemned only so far as man is responsible for it on account of his

own willful perversity or carelessness.


(3) The outcome of such evil heart of unbelief,” if allowed to become

fixed and permanent, will be (ἀποστήναί - apostaenaiapostasy) compare

Luke 8:13; I Timothy 4:1) from “the living God,” from Him who is Eternal Life

and the Source of all life and salvation. The thought of the momentous

consequence of the falling away of Christians after light enjoyed is

prominent in the Epistle (see especially ch. 6:4-6; 10:26-31).

The expression, “the living God,” further directs attention to the revelation

of God in the Old Testament, in which He is continually so designated, and

to the thought that it is the same God who has revealed Himself finally in

the SON. Addressing Hebrew Christians, the writer may mean to say, “In

apostatizing from Christ you would be cutting yourselves off from the God

of your whole ancestral faith.” There may be an intended allusion, too, to

the oath, already referred to, of Numbers 14:21, 28, the form of which

in the original is, “As I live” (ζῶ ἐγώ λέγει κύριος Zo ego legei kurios

As I live saith Yahweh; - Septuagint).



Apostasy (v. 12)


“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you, an evil heart of unbelief,

in departing from the living God!” Our text leads us to consider:


  • APOSTASY IN ITS NATURE. “Departing from the Living God.”


Ø      This departure is not local. In this respect separation from the Divine

presence is impossible.   “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither

shall I flee from thy presence?”  (Psalm 139:7-12).


Ø      This departure is not theological.  The corruption of a man’s creed will

almost certainly be followed by deterioration of his character and conduct;

yet a man may retain his hold of a true creed, and at the same time be

falling away from the living God.


Ø      This departure is not ecclesiastical. Membership and activity in the

visible Church of Christ may be fully maintained even while one is

departing from God. Apostasy may exist in the heart long before it is

manifested in action.


Ø      This departure is spiritual. It is a falling away from the living God in

sympathy and in service. “They do always err in their heart” (v. 10).

It is the decline of love and loyalty to God.


  • APOSTASY IN ITS ROOT. “An evil heart of unbelief.” Confidence in

God is essential to union with Him or love to Him. Let any one doubt God’s

existence or character, that He is wise and righteous and good, and that

man’s sympathy with God will speedily perish. His apostasy has already

begun. Doubt of our friends will be the death of our friendship. And

unbelief towards God must lead to spiritual alienation from Him, and that

alienation persisted in must issue in spiritual death. It is of the utmost

importance that we firmly grasp the truth that this unbelief is not

intellectual, but moral; it is not the doubt of the inquiring mind, but of the

wandering heart. It is the faith of the heart that unites man with God. “If

thou shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou

shalt be saved; for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and

with the mouth confession is made unto salvation!” (Romans 10:10)  I

is the unbelief of the heart that separates man from God. “An evil heart of



  • APOSTASY IN ITS PERIL. There is the danger of:


Ø      Drifting further away from God. It is impossible for us to remain

stationary in our relation to Him. We are ever either drawing nearer to Him

or departing further from Him. In this “falling away from the living God”

the soul falls lower and lower.


Ø      Deprivation of spiritual blessings. Unbelief excludes the soul from the

rest of God.  Forfeited by the unbeliever are:

o       the peace of the forgiveness of sins,

o       the rest and joy of affections centered in God,

o       the comfort of Christian hope, and

o       the blessedness of true progress,

      These are:


Ø      The death of the soul. The soul lives only as it is united with God, and

its union with Him is impossible apart from faith in Him. “Departing from

the living God,” its DEATH IS INEVITABLE!  What a death is that!

A man in whom:

o       truth and trust,

o       purity and love,

o       righteousness and reverence,

o       moral effort and aspiration, ARE EXTINCT!




  • APOSTASY IN ITS PREVENTION. “Take heed, brethren,”


Ø      Guard against the insidious advances of unbelief. “Watch ye

 and pray……The spirit is truly ready,  but the flesh is weak!” 

(Mark 14:38)


Ø      Seek the increase of your faith in God and of your love to Him.

A nearer approach to God is the surest preventive of apostasy from



  • CONCLUSION. Is thy heart right in the sight of God? Keep thy heart

with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”  (Proverbs 4:23)



The Evil Heart of Unbelief (v. 12)


  • THE NEED OF WARNING. The state of things indicated is repudiated

by many in whom it obtains. Those in whom unbelief is most deeply seated

think themselves real believers in whatever is reasonable and true.

Therefore warning is needed — affectionate warning, it will be observed.

The readers are again addressed as “brethren.” Also individual

examination is suggested. Men have fallen from what seemed the strongest

faith into the most shameful apostasies. A brother, sent of God, warns us

to be on our guard.


  • THE DEEP-SEATED MISCHIEF. There may be outward discipleship

and service, but a heart not trusting in the living God. There may be

abundant manifestations of the Divine love and power, but the heart may

be so subdued to worldly considerations that nothing shown by God can

produce its proper impression. We believe too much in living men, in their

power to help or to hinder; we trim everything to catch their favor or keep

in their good graces. And meantime the living God is as if He were not. If at

any moment we have been in real connection with His infinite grace and

power, there is something in our hearts which tends to draw us gradually

away. Nothing is more absurd than unbelief in God, and yet nothing is

harder than practical faith. And to get rid of unbelief we need to have the

heart renewed and inspired. We readily see the need of heart-renewal if it

be some other sin that is in question — if it be malicious, or selfish, or

sensual feeling that we want to get rid of. And so our prayer should be,

Make us feel that unbelief is sin, moral malady, a something that needs to

be cured by the turning of the heart to God.” There is manifestation of

truth enough, evidence enough; the lack lies in our disposition.


13 “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of

you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”  But exhort one another

(literally, yourselves, as in Colossians 3:16, the idea being that of the responsibility

of the believers themselves in keeping their own faith alive; the Church must keep

itself from apostasy by the mutual admonitions of its members), day by day, so

long as it is called Today (i.e. while the “Today,” το σήμερον – to saemeron

today -  of the psalm is still called so, καλειται - kaleitai: while you are still living

day by day within the limit of its meaning); lest any one of you be hardened (still

referring to the warning of the psalm) by the deceitfulness of sin. Here

again, as in v. 12, the possible result of obdurate unbelief is distinctly

traced to moral culpability. Sin is a deceiver (compare Romans 7:11;

Ephesians 4:22);


  • it distorts the spiritual vision,
  • causes us to take false views of things,
  • causes us to lose our clear view of truth; and
  • continued dalliance with sin may have its result in final obduracy,


which, as above remarked, is our own doing as it comes of our sin, God’s doing as

it comes of His judgment. The sin contemplated in the case of the Hebrew Christians

as not unlikely to have its result in obduracy was, not only imperfect appreciation

of the true character of the gospel revelation, and consequent remissness in

mutual admonition and attendance at Christian worship (ch.10:25), but also, as a

further consequence of such remissness, failure in the moral purity of life, the active

charity, the disentanglement from the world, and the endurance of persecution,

required of Christians. This appears from the earnest exhortations that follow

afterwards against all such shortcomings (see especially ch. 10:19-26, 32-39;

12:1-18; 13:1-20). It was especially by conscientious perseverance in the religious

life that they might hope to keep their religious faith steadfast and unclouded

to the end; in accordance with Christ’s own saying, “If any man will do

(θέλῃ ….ποιεῖν thelae…..poieinmay be willing….to be doing.) His will,

he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God.”  (John 7:17) 




The Deceitfulness of Sin (v. 13)


It matters little whether we take the reference here as to the sin of unbelief

specially, or to sin in general. All sin is deceiving in its beginnings. The

seed hides much which the sower cannot understand until he is compelled

to reap the fruit. And his only safety is to trust a timely warning, and have

nothing to do with the seed. And though to each of us individually some

forms of sin appear not at all deceitful, yet we are deceived by others.

Some form of sin is deceitful to every one of us. The great enemy of man

considers us according to our individuality. There are:


Ø      temptations for the appetite,

Ø      temptations for the senses, and

Ø      temptations for the intellect.



DECEITFUL THING. We cannot be too cautious, too observant, in

pursuing our path through this complicated world. Agencies are always at

work to make the worse appear the better reason. Things visible, whether

things attractive or repulsive, press upon our eyes; and concerning the

attractive we find ourselves saying, “This is worth making ours even at a

great price;’ concerning the repulsive,” This is to be avoided at whatever

cost.” The world around us speaks with a voice that discountenances

things invisible and Divine. If we begin to act as hearing a voice from

heaven, others say they have heard no voice; whereupon we are easily

persuaded that no voice really spoke. Sometimes sin dresses itself up in the

guise of liberality and charity, and again it is found beneath the appearance

of zeal for God and goodness. If there is no danger that we should be

tempted into any kind of vicious living, then most of all is the deceitfulness

of sin be feared. Before the readers of this Epistle a great historical

example was put, drawn from the conduct of their own ancestors. The

behavior of the children of Israel in the wilderness is an illustration, on a

great scale, of the deceitfulness of sin; especially of the proneness of the

heart to kill into unbelief with respect to spiritual things. It might have

seemed safe to predict that, after all the great Divine deliverance of which

they had been objects, they would have steadily gone on in the way of

obedience; whereas only a very short time elapses before they are found

believing the wishes of their own hearts rather than the word of God

through Moses. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”

(I Corinthians 10:12)  Those who are fallen today were standing yesterday,

and some standing today will be fallen tomorrow. And if we are not among

the fallen, it will be because we are giving daily practical heed to this truth

concerning the deceitfulness of sin.



All that the writer says just in this part of the Epistle is negative — at least,

it seems negative. But that simply means the iteration and reiteration of the

DANGER OF UNBELIEF!   No one knows better than the writer that we

cannot guard against unbelief in a negative way. The only way of getting

better of the deceitfulness of sin is to rise above it, and be so intent on our

Savior’s business as to have no time, no inclination, to attend to what sin

may have to say.


14 “For we are made partakers (or, partners)  of Christ, if we hold the

beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end;”  This is a repetition in

another form of the assertion of our position as Christians, with the appended

condition, in v. 6.


(1) It is a question whether μέτοχοιΧριστοῦ - metochoi Christou

partners (of) Christ means that we partake of Christ as being in communion

with Him, or that we are partakers with Him of the glory He has won for us

(compare συγκληρονόµοι δὲ Χριστοῦ - sugklaeronomoi de Christoujoint-

heirs with Christ - Romans 8:17). The first is undoubtedly the ordinary sense

of μέτοχος metochospartner; partaker - with a genitive in classical

Greek, and generally in the New Testament (compare ch 6:4, μετόχους πνεύματος

ἁγίου metochous pneumatos agioupartakers of the Holy Spirit), but in the

Septuagint μέτοχος, followed by a genitive, is as undoubtedly used for “partner”

or “companion;”  compare Psalm 119:63, μέτοχος ἐγώ εἰμι πάντων τῶν

φοβουμένων σε metochos ego eimi panton ton phoboumenon se – I am a

friend of all those who fear you;  Hosea 4:17, μέτοχος εἰδώλων  - metochos

eidolonpartner of idols - and especially Psalm 45:7, μετόχους σου

metochous souyour fellows -  which has been already cited (ch.1:9), and

justifies, as it may prove suggested, the expression in this sense here. Compare

also in the New Testament, Luke 5:7, where μέτοχος, though without

an expressed genitive following, occurs in the sense of “partner.” Further,

the second sense accords better than the first with the view of our relation

to Christ so far set forth in the Epistle.


(2) On the word ὑποστάσις hupostasis -  translated confidence, see what

was said under ch.1:3. All the ancient interpreters understood it here in

the same general sense as in the former passage — that of substance or

subsistence, either as denoting our subsistence as members of Christ, or

our faith regarded as the substance of our Christian life, or with other

modifications of the general meaning. Modern commentators agree in

understanding merely the sense in which the word is found to be commonly

used by the Alexandrian writers — that of confidence, derived from the

physical conception of a firm foundation. It thus corresponds with the

παρρησίαν (boldness) of v. 6.


(3) “The beginning” (τὴν ἀρχὴν taen archaenthe beginning) of this confidence

refers to the earlier stage of the experiences of the Hebrew Christians, before their

faith had shown any signs of wavering. The phrase does not imply that the

beginning was recent. All it need mean is, “Go on as you began.”

Further, we find, in ch. 5:12, a distinct intimation that the Church addressed

is one of old standing.


(4) “Unto the end” may have an individual reference to the end of life, or

(the Church being addressed as a community expecting THE SECOND

ADVENT) a general one to the close of the period of grace during which

it is called Today.”



  Mutual Exhortation Needed to Avoid Unbelief and Follow Christ Fully

                                                (vs. 12-14)


Apart from the labors of the ministers of the gospel, who were to teach that

Christ was “the same yesterday, and today, and for ever,” (ch. 13:8) there was to

be brotherly love among Christians, who were affectionately to warn each

other against the evils of departing from the truths and profession of the

gospel. Their counsel was to be directed to the state of the heart, which if

unbelieving was an “evil heart,” and therefore full of guile, pride, readiness

to receive objections against the gospel, and willingness to yield to the

blinding influence of Satan. It would lead them to depart from the living

God, and. conduct them to ceremonies, and produce works which had no

Divine life in them. This work of friendly exhortation was to be done at

once, “while it is called To-day;” and whatsoever their hand found to do

they were to do with all their might (Ecclesiastes 9:10); for sin was full of

allurement, and promised, as it did in Paradise, large illumination, freedom,

and pleasure. It would be bitterness in the end, and the song of the siren

would allure to DESTRUCTION!   The hardening would, if unchecked, go

on with imperceptible advance, and would silently desolate the conscience,

understanding, and heart. (The chains of habit are to light to be felt until

they are too heavy to be broken – Warren Buffett)  This was to be avoided

by perseverance in acts of faith and unlimited confidence in Jesus Christ,

who inclined them to begin the course to the upper kingdom of God. As they

had “received Christ they were to walk in Him,” (Colossians 2:6) and then

they would partake of His Spirit, and share the blessedness which, as a

Forerunner, He has gone to prepare. They would share in the

joy He has promised to confer upon the brave and immovable in their

profession, who shall “sit down with him in His throne, as He has overcome,

and sits down with His Father in his throne.”  (Revelation 3:21)


15 “While it is said, To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your

hearts, as in the provocation.”  Commentators have found unnecessary

difficulty in determining the connection of ἐν τῷ λέγεσθαι en to legesthai

while it is said.  Many, taking the words as the beginning of a new sentence,

have been at pains to discover the apodosis to them, find it in Φοβηθῶμεν οὖν

Phobaethomen oun – Let us therefore fear; We may be being afraid then - ch.4:1;

notwithstanding the οὖν, which seems evidently to introduce a new sentence,

and the long parenthesis which, on this supposition, intervenes. Others find it in

Μὴ σκληρύνητε mae sklaeunaete - harden not your hearts, in the middle of the

citation, as if the writer of the Epistle adopted these words as his own.

Delitzsch finds it in ver. 16, taken as an interrogation (τίνεςtines – some; any,

not τινἐς see below); thus: “When it is said, Today… harden not your hearts as in

the provocation,… who did provoke? Nay, did not all?” The γὰρ – gar –

forafter τίνες he accounts for by its idiomatic use found in such passages as

Acts 8:31; 19:35, conveying the sense of the English, “Why, who did

provoke?” But this use of γὰρ, obvious in the texts adduced as parallel,

would be forced here; the structure of the sentence does not easily lend

itself to it. Still, this is the view taken by Tholuck, Bleek, De Wette,

Lunemann, and others, as well as Delitzsch. But, notwithstanding such

weighty support, difficulties are surely best avoided by taking ἐν τῷ λέγεσθαι

(while it is said) not as commencing a new sentence, but in connection with

v.14 preceding, as it seems most natural to take it in the absence of any

connecting particle to mark a new proposition. In this case the translation

of the Authorized Version gives a fully satisfactory sense: “If we hold fast the

beginning of our confidence firm unto the end, while it is still being said, To-day,”

etc.; i.e. (as in v. 13) “so long as it is called Today.” Ebrard, Alford, and

others, taking the same view of the connection of the words, prefer the

translation, “In that it is said.” But the other seems more in accordance

with the thought pervading the passage.


16 “For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that

came out of Egypt by Moses.  17 But with whom was He grieved forty years?

was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?

18 And to whom swear He that they should not enter into His rest, but

to them that believed not?  19  So we see that they could not enter in because

of unbelief.”  For who, when they heard, provoked? Nay, did net all

those who came out of Egypt by Moses. That both these clauses are

interrogative, and not as taken in the Authorized Version, is now the prevalent view.

The reasons for thus understanding them are:


(1) the analogy of the two following verses, both of which are interrogative,

and in the first of which a question is similarly answered by putting another; and


(2) the sense required. If the clauses were assertions, they could only be

meant to express that the provocation was not universal, inasmuch as

Joshua and Caleb (and it might be some few others) remained faithful. But

to say this is unnecessary and irrelevant to the argument, the drift of which

is to warn by “the example of unbelief;” and could τινἐς (“some”) possibly

be used to denote the whole congregation with the exception of so few? It

is to be observed, too, that the ἀλλ. οὐ  - all ouhowbeit not; but not - at the

beginning of the second clause is a proper Greek expression (equivalent to “nay”)

in the case of one question being answered by another (compare Luke 17:7-8).

This verse, then (γὰρ retaining its usual sense of “for”), begins a proof, put in the

form of a series of questions, of the preceding implied proposition, viz. that the

retention of Christian privilege is dependent on perseverance, and that the

privilege may be forfeited. In order to show this fully, the history of

Numbers 14., referred to in the warning of the psalm, is examined in

connection with the successive expressions of the warning; and it thus

appears that all who came out of Egypt by Moses (the small exception of

the faithful spies being disregarded) provoked God, and so forfeited their

privilege, and that the cause of their failure was: 


  • sin,
  • disobedience, and, at the root of all,
  • unbelief.


The conclusion is obvious that, as their example is held out in the psalm as a

warning to us, we may, all or any of us, similarly forfeit our higher calling.

That the psalm is a warning to us, the rest it points to being the rest won for

us by Christ, is more fully shown in the following chapter. We observe how the

leading words in Psalm 95. are taken in succession in the three successive verses

παραπικρασμῷ - parapikrasmoMeribah; embitter; provocation in v. 16,

προσώχθισα - prosochthisa I was grieved;  was He grieved; He was disgusted –

 in v. 17,  ὤμοσα - omosaI swore – He swears -  in v. 18 — and how answers to

the three questions suggested by these words are found in Numbers 14. —

to the first, in vs. 2, 10, etc., all the children of Israel,” “all the congregation;”

to the second, in vs. 29-34, with citation of the words used; to the third,

in vs. 21-24. It is to be observed, further, that it is not simply ἀπιστία

(unbelief – here, v. 19) but its exhibition in actual sin and disobedience

(τοῖς ἁμαρτήσασιν…. τοῖς ἀπειθήσασιν - - tois amartaesasin….tois apeithaesasin

to the ones sinning….to the ones being stubborn – v. 17), that is spoken of as

calling forth the Divine wrath and the Divine oath. The second of the above

words implies more than “believed not” (as in the Authorized Version);

ἀπείθειν apeitheindisobedience - differs from ἀπιστειν apisteinunbelief -

,in implying disobedience or contumacy. And this view of the case of the

Israelites agrees entirely with the historical record, where an actual rebellion

is spoken of a refusal to go on with the work they had been called to do. It

suits also the application to the case of the Hebrew Christians,

among whom (as has been said) it was not only wavering of faith, but, as

its consequence, remissness in moral duty and in the facing of trial, of

which the writer of the Epistle had perceived symptoms, and on the ground

of which he warns them to take heed lest growing indifference should be

hardened into apostasy. But in both instances, as faith is the root of all

virtue, so lack of it was the cause, and again the growing result, of moral

decadence. And so the argument is summed up in the concluding verse,

And we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.



Beware of Unbelief (vs. 7-19)


Eminent and honored though Moses had been, the generation of Hebrews

whom he led out of Egypt became unbelieving and disobedient, and were

in consequence overtaken by A DREADFUL DOOM!   So the writer of this

Epistle, realizing the strong temptations to relapse into Judaism which beset

the Hebrew Christians, warns them against the still more dreadful

consequences of apostasy from discipleship to Jesus Christ.


  • A BESETTING SPIRITUAL DANGER. It is that of losing our

participation in God’s house; or, more particularly, of:


Ø      Present unbelief  (v. 12.). Unbelief is distrust of God, want of faith in

the Divine promise and providence, and especially refusal personally to

confide in the Lord Jesus as “the Apostle and High Priest of our

confession.” Unbelief may either:

o       presume upon God’s mercy, or

o       despair of it, or

o       neglect it.


Ø      Growing hardness of heart (v. 8). “With the heart man believeth unto

righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation ”

(Romans10:10) and the heart also is the fountain of sin. Acts of refusal

to listen to God’s voice petrify into habits, so that the heart becomes

the longer the more careless impenitent, and disobedient.


Ø      Final apostasy (v. 12).  As acts produce habits, so habits form

character. A human heart indurated by unbelief, and confirmed in

moral insensibility, will lapse either into atheism, or immorality, or

settled worldliness; and, unless Divine grace interpose, WILL

FOR EVER  fall away from the living God.” This danger easily

besets us all —  much more easily than many professing Christians

suspect. “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed

lest he fall.”  (I Corinthians 10:12)


  • A STRIKING HISTORICAL WARNING. (vs. 7-11.) This the apostle

introduces in words borrowed from Psalm 95., which describe the career

of the Israelites of Moses’ day, in the wilderness. They had, as a people,



Ø      Highly privileged. (v. 9.) As the result of the ten plagues of Egypt,

and by means of their magnificent march through the Red Sea, they

had been emancipated from slavery. They “saw God’s works forty



o       in the falling manna,

o       in the water from the rock that followed them,

o       in their raiment which did not wear out, and

o       in the cloudy pillar which accompanied them on their journeys.

Yet they were:


Ø      Habitually faithless. (vs. 8-9, 16.) They:


o       despised these abiding miracles,

o       demanded other signs as a condition of believing,

o       doubted and grumbled;

o       longed to return again to Egypt;

o       refused at God’s command to go up to take possession of

Canaan; and

o       at last they FELL INTO THE IDOLATRIES OF THE

HEATHEN  around.


Names which remind us how the ransomed Jews did “always err in

their heart.” (Psalm 95:10)  are:


o       Rephidim (the congregation murmured from thirst; Exodus 17:1-7)

1491 B.C.

o       Zin (the congregation murmured for water; Numbers 20:1-13),

1471 B.C.


o       Taberah, (the people complained; Numbers 11:1-3) 1490 B.C.

o       Kibroth-hatta-a-vah (a station in the wilderness, where growing

tired of manna and desiring flesh, they murmured, and God

sent them quails in great abundance, but smote great numbers

of them with a plague and they died.  Numbers 11:4-35) 

1490 B.C.

o       Kadesh-barnea (the farthest point which the Israelites reached

in their direct road to Canaan; from whence also the spies were

sent, and where on their return, the people broke out into

murmuring, upon which their strictly penal term of wandering

began; Numbers 13:26-33; 14:1-45)  1490 B.C.  Miriam died

and was buried here here toward the close of the wanderings.

circa. 1452 B.C.

o       Shittim (the place of Israel’s encampment between the conquest

of the transjordanian highlands and the passage of the Jordan;

here they committed whoredom with the daughters of Moab;

Numbers 25:1-18)  1452 B.C.


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      See www.bible.ca



            Notice that the children of Israel spent nearly 40 years going in circles.  It is

            possible for a person’s life in the 21st century to be spent like this and this

            is why we need God’s will and direction to be applied to our lives.  CY - 2014




They were obstinate and unanimous in their apostasy (vs. 16-17). 

So they were:


Ø      Hopelessly doomed. (vs. 11, 17-19.) The words of the psalm, “I

sware in my wrath,” reflect the intensity and depth of the Divine

displeasure; and the language borrowed from the history, “whose

carcasses fell in the wilderness” (Numbers 14:29, 32), suggests

the deep misery of the retribution which fell upon that entire

generation. But a ruin still more fearful shall be the portion of

all who refuse or despise the gospel spoken by our Lord Jesus,

the “Apostle” greater than Moses.   (“He that despised Moses’

law died without mercy under two or three witnesses;  Of how

much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy,

who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath

counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified,

an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”

ch. 10:28-29)


  • AN EARNEST PRACTICAL COUNSEL “Take heed, brethren” (v.12).

This exhortation is, in fact, the key-note of the whole Epistle; it is the

chord which rules the strain. While the grace of God does not allow any

real Christian to backslide irretrievably, He preserves His people from

apostasy by the use of means suited to their rational and moral nature. So,

here, the Holy Spirit exhorts every individual believer (v. 12) to “take

heed.” If we would not “fall away from the living God,” we must:


Ø      “Hear His voice. (vs. 7, 15.) That voice speaks to us now in the

sweet and glorious gospel, and tells us of far grander “works” than

those which were wrought for ancient Israel. “God hath spoken

unto us in His Son” (ch.1:2). To obey His voice will at once soften

and strengthen our hearts. It will make us large-hearted as well as



Ø      Exhort one another. (v. 13.) Christians are associated in Church

fellowship that they may promote one another’s welfare. The Church

is a spiritual mutual benefit society. Friendly counsel and admonition

are a valuable safeguard against apostasy. Two considerations which

should stimulate to this duty are mentioned:


o       the shortness of life;

o       the insidiousness of sin.


Ø      Continue firm unto the end.(v. 14.) It is dangerous for a believer to

rest satisfied with the consciousness of his original conversion; he ought

to be constantly turning from sin to Christ. It is unwise for him to lay

stress on past frames and feelings; he must cherish through life an

always-fresh and. living “confidence” in the Savior — a faith which

more and more certifies itself by the ripening “fruit of the Spirit.”

(Galatians 5:22-23)  He must remain ever on his guard against

UNBELIEF!   Only by persevering steadfastness will any one

who has accepted the “heavenly calling” finally enter into the

heavenly “rest.”



As Redemption from Egypt did not Protect Israel from Punishment, so

Unbelief in Christians will be Visited with the Divine Displeasure and Final

Failure (vs. 15-19)


The sacred writer refers us to the psalm from which he had drawn such

affecting exhortations to steadfastness in the spiritual life, and now

advances to enforce the lessons of earnestness by a series of weighty

inquiries derived from the overthrow of many Israelites in the desert. The

ideas resemble those of Paul, who in I Corinthians 10:1-5 instructs us

that the Hebrews were baptized unto Moses, and ate spiritual meat and

drank spiritual drink, and yet many were overthrown in the wilderness. The

first question is (in the Revised Version) — Who were they that did

provoke at Meribah and awakened the Divine displeasure? This inquiry is

answered by another. Did they not all come out of Egypt, and while the

destroying angel was abroad their families were safe; when the sea opposed

their march it was dried up to give them passage, and when the enemies

pursued them with rage and breathed out threatenings and slaughter, were

they not redeemed? These were they who added the BASENESS OF

INGRATITUDE to THE SIN OF UNBELIEF!   Another inquiry follows,

which is — With whom was He displeased, and was it not with those whose

carcasses fell in the wilderness? It is the historic realization of a truth penned

many centuries afterwards by James, who writes, “Lust, when it hath conceived,

bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, BRINGETH FORTH DEATH”

(James 1:15)  These unbelievers died under the frown of Jehovah, and left their

sad experience as a beacon to warn against sins which provoked the Divine anger

and laid them low in the dust of death. The inquiry advances once more, and asks

Who were they who were denied the privilege of entering upon the

much-desired inheritance of Canaan? There is an awfulness in the oath

which Jehovah takes, that the unbelieving Hebrews should not enter the

pleasant land, with its fertile soil, its pastures, its vineyards, its brooks and

streams, and the margin of the Mediterranean Sea. There is no secret in the

cause of their failure, as there is no secret in the cause of Christian success.

They could not enter in because of UNBELIEF which, while it barred their

entrance into Canaan, excludes men from the “inheritance incorruptible,

undefiled, and that fadeth not away, RESERVED IN HEAVEN FOR YOU.”

(I Peter 1:4)  If these sad and awful punishments overtook Israel according

to the flesh, then the truth which the author designed to teach is that redemption

from sin and condemnation, must, to secure all the fruits and issues of the gospel,

be associated with humble and persevering fidelity to our profession of faith in




The Dread Disability (v. 19)


“So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Our text:



FAILURE TO ATTAIN SALVATION.  If any one does not enter the

spiritual rest which God has graciously provided for man, it is:


Ø      Not by reason of anything in the purposes or predestinations of God.

His purposes are the purposes of a Being of perfect righteousness, and

of infinite wisdom and love. He could not ordain an evil thing, or have

any intentions which are inimical to the well-being of His creatures; for

He is God — the Supremely Good (compare Ezekiel 33:11; I Timothy



Ø      Not by reason of any deficiency in God’s redemptive provisions. These

are abundant, inexhaustible, and ENTIRELY FREE!   The atonement

of Jesus Christ, which is perfectly adapted to reconcile man to God, is

as efficacious for a million hearts as it is for one (compare Isaiah

55:1-2,6-7; Matthew 22:1-10; Luke 14:16-23; John 3:14-17; Revelation



Ø      Not by reason of any inability to accept God’s redemptive provisions.

The condition upon which salvation is appropriated by man is sincere

and hearty faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Every sane man can comply

with this condition if he will.


Ø      Not by reason of any deficiency of evidence for the essential truths of

Christianity. The Christian religion is founded upon facts, which are

as well attested as any facts of history.



ATTAIN SALVATION. “They were not able to enter in because of

unbelief.” This unbelief is not intellectual or theoretical, but practical, and

resulting in disobedience. The unbelief of the Israelites here spoken of

totally unfitted them for entering the promised land (see Numbers 14:1-

4, 22-23, 26-35). Their unbelief had stripped them of hope and of courage,

and reduced them to humiliating despondency and cowardice. No one can

enter upon any worthy inheritance without the exercise of faith. For the

discovery of new countries, for the exploration of unknown lands, for the

carrying out of great reformations or ameliorations, for the perfecting of

beneficent inventions, for the accomplishment of every worthy and noble

enterprise, the possession and exercise of faith is indispensable. The

attainment of salvation is impossible apart from FAITH!  Unbelief it is

which excludes men from the true rest of the soul. They are “not able to

enter in because of unbelief.” This is the dread disability, the unwillingness

to heartily and practically believe in Jesus Christ. “Ye will not come to me,

that ye may have life.”  (John 5:40)  If any man is not saved, HE ALONE



Ø      He is diseased, yet he turns aside from the remedy.

Ø      He is condemned, yet he refuses to accept the offered pardon.


CY – 2014)


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