Hebrews 3

Hebrews 3:1

Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession;

(a) Holy brethren. In the New Testament, the word brethren typically refers to Christian brothers and sisters (see entry for Heb. 2:11). But here the author is speaking to his unsaved Hebrew brothers (see Heb. 3:7, 8, 12; see also Rom. 9:3). He calls them holy to remind them of Israel’s special status with the Lord. “My Hebrew brothers, God chose you out of all the nations of the world to be his special inheritance. Now consider Jesus and do not harden your hearts as you have done before.”

(b) Partakers of a heavenly calling. We have all been called from heaven to partake in a great feast, but the Jews had a special invitation on account of their connection to Abraham.

(c) Consider Jesus. “You Hebrews who have been raised on Moses, consider Jesus who is worthy of more glory than Moses” (Heb. 3:3).

Hebrews 3:6

but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.

(a) Whose house we are. We are God’s house (or home) and his household (or family).

Union with Christ is the number one reason why we have it better than those who lived before the cross. Back then they wrote love songs about yearning and absence. “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life” (Ps. 27:4). That you may dwell in the house of the Lord? You are the house of the Lord. You can dwell in the house of the Lord as long as you like. It’s going to be quite impossible for you to dwell anywhere else.

(b) If we hold fast our confidence. Christ’s faithfulness as a Son will not benefit you unless you put your faith in him.

The insecure read these words as a threat to our eternal salvation. “We remain saved and part of God’s house for as long as we hold fast.” However, such an interpretation ignores the many scriptures guaranteeing our place in God’s family (John 8:35, 10:29).

The Jewish religion was centered on the temple which was known as the house of God. The religious Jews considered themselves part of God’s household. “Not if you have rejected the Son,” says the author. “Not if you have trampled him underfoot and insulted the Spirit of grace” (Heb. 10:29).

The first few chapters of Hebrews are directed to unbelievers who need to get saved. “How shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?” (Heb. 2:3). “Do not harden your hearts” (Heb. 3:8). “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart” (Heb. 3:12). So a better way to read this verse is, “If your confidence and trust are in the faithful Son, you are part of God’s house.”

Christ is the hope in which we boast. Because Christ was faithful, you are as safe as houses. Any confidence we have before the Lord comes from Christ’s faithfulness and this is what we cling to.

Further reading: “Is the Christian race a marathon?

Hebrews 3:7

Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says,

(a) Today. The following verses are cut from Psalm 95:7-11.

(b) If you hear his voice. The Holy Spirit calls us to believe in Jesus. “Do not refuse Him who is speaking” (Heb. 12:25).

The author of Hebrews exhorts his Jewish readers to heed the gospel (Heb. 2:1, 4:2), consider Jesus (Heb. 3:1) and have faith (Heb. 10:39). “How will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Heb. 2:3).

Hebrews 3:8


Do not harden your hearts. Unbelief is the result of hardening your heart to the voice of the Spirit.

Throughout the New Testament, faith is described as a rest (Heb. 4:11) while unbelief is described with action words like hardening your heart, trampling the Son of God underfoot (Heb. 10:29), refusing and turning away from him who warns from heaven (Heb. 12:25).

Hebrews 3:12

Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.

(a) An evil, unbelieving heart. The author encourage his Hebrew audience to put their faith in Christ. He is not speaking to believers because believers don’t have unbelieving hearts.

(b) That falls away. Don’t follow the example of the unbelieving Israelites who went astray in the wilderness (Heb. 3:10).

Hebrews 3:13

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

(a) Today means “make up your mind and get off the fence.” As Jesus said to the doubter, “Do not be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:27)

(b) So that none of you will be hardened. Don’t be like the unbelieving generation who hardened their hearts to God and fell in the wilderness (Heb. 3:8, 12, 15, 4:7).

Hebrews 3:14

For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end,

(a) We have become partakers of Christ. One sign that we have be joined to the Lord is we firmly and confidently hold onto him knowing that Jesus Christ has done it all.

Some worry that this verse is preaching conditional salvation: “God got you started, but now it’s up to you to finish the course.” But if Hebrews 3:14 were saying it’s up to us to finish what God started, it would be contradicting Hebrews 12:2, which says Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith.

What does it mean to partake of Christ? We have a confidence that comes from knowing Jesus and trusting in his finished work. For many Christians, this confidence is strong at the beginning. We’ve heard the gospel of grace and have not yet encountered the price tags and dead works that some try to attach to it. “That assurance you had at the start, keep that to the end.” You started by faith; continue by faith.

(b) If we hold fast. We have been made partakers of Christ – it’s done – but we won’t experience the life of Christ unless we hold firmly to the confidence we had when we began.

If you are anxious and insecure about your salvation, you may be tempted into dead works. “I’ve got to maintain my salvation through spiritual disciplines.” Think like this and you are no longer continuing in faith. You are not holding fast to the confident assurance you had at the start.

Further reading: “Is the Christian race a marathon?

Hebrews 3:15

while it is said,

(a) Today; see entry for Heb. 3:7.

(b) If you hear his voice, do not refuse him who is speaking (Heb. 12:25). The Holy Spirit calls all to believe in Jesus.

(c) Do not harden; see entry for Heb. 3:8.

Hebrews 3:18

And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient?

(a) They would not enter His rest. If faith is a rest (Heb. 4:3), unbelief is restlessness. It’s wandering in search of what God has already provided.

In a world of heavy burdens, Mr. Grace comes offering rest (Matt. 11:28). Unbelief says, “Leave me alone, I’m busy.” But faith responds, “Rest, you say? I’ll have some of that, thank you very much!” Faith is not something you must do or manufacture. Faith is resting in the restful persuasion that God is at rest and in him so are we.

(b) Those who were disobedient. The original word for disobedient (apeitheo) means to disbelieve and derives from a word (peitho) that means to convince, win over, or persuade. Since faith is being persuaded or convinced that God loves you (Acts 28:24), disobedience in a new covenant sense is refusing to be persuaded. It has nothing to do with breaking the rules and everything to do with refusing to trust Jesus.

Hebrews 3:19

So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.

The Hebrews of Moses’ day never entered God’s rest because they had hardened their hearts to his voice (Heb. 3:8). They did not respond with faith (Heb. 4:2). In the New Testament era, many Jews were doing the same thing. They had heard the gospel, but they rejected it. The author of Hebrews writes to stir up faith. Without it we cannot please God (Heb. 11:6). With it we can enter his rest (Heb. 4:3).

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