Having considered Jesus’ excellence and supremacy and His relation to angels and to mankind, the author now in Hebrews 3:1-6 sets out to draw some parallels between Jesus and Moses.
Hebrews 3:1 - Firstly he gives the reason for what he now wants to put on the table: “Wherefore…” He could have said: “Now in the light of what I have told you…” Then he makes it clear who his intended audience is: “…holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling,…”
They are not only his brothers, but also brothers of Jesus Christ, who is not ashamed to call them His brothers (Hebrews 2:11) by which fact they are holy – that is, consecrated to God. “…consider Him whom we profess to be our Apostle and High Priest, Christ Jesus;”
The (Greek) word “consider” here also has the meaning of "observe" fully, take notice of, behold, discover, perceive. By this word the author wants to draw attention to what more he wants to tell us about Jesus.
I would encourage you to read the series on this blog about Jesus in the Old Testament in order to better understand the New Testament.
Immediately a question comes to mind: From what we have learned this far, we can understand that He is our High Priest, but an Apostle? What does this mean? The Greek word used here is "apo-stolos", meaning “one sent out”.
This is derived from the Greek word "apo-stellō" which means to “send out”, “set apart” or even to “commission”. Now we know that Jesus is the unique Son of God, set apart, sent or commissioned to be the Savior of the world (John.3:16). This is what the author means by Jesus being our Apostle.
As such this word “Apostle” may also remind us of the fact that, at His baptism, Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit – anointed to His office as Saviour. In the Old Testament times, the high priests and the various kings of Israel were anointed to their offices with oil (Lev.16:32; 1Sam.10:1 etc).
The oil was the symbol of the Holy Spirit. But here Jesus was anointed with the Spirit Himself – in the form of a dove. Also, the name “Jesus” is derived from the Hebrew word “Yeshua” or “Jehoshua”, which means “salvation”. No wonder that the angel told Joseph: “…you shall call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.” So Jesus is indeed our Apostle, sent/set apart for our salvation!
It is interesting to note that the earthly successor to Moses was Joshua (in Hebrew pronounced as yehôshûa‛), and that he was the one who led Israel into the promised land after the death of Moses – just as Jesus is the one who leads His children/brothers to the promised heaven and eternal life.
Hebrews 3:2 - Having “considered” and “professed” Jesus as Apostle and High Priest, the author now arrives at a parallel between Jesus and Moses. Jesus Christ “who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all his house.” Jesus did all that the Father had appointed Him to. Likewise, Moses remained faithful to administering God’s house – meaning the people of Israel over which God had appointed him.
Hebrews 3:3 - Just as the builder of a house is counted more worthy than the house he has built, so is God more worthy than Moses whom He had appointed over the house of Israel. After all, it is God who had built the house of Israel into a numerous people and had appointed Moses over them. This is why Jesus, who is God “was counted worthy of more glory than Moses because he who has built the house has more honor than the house.”
Hebrews 3:4 - In Hebrews 2:9 the author said: “We see Jesus…” Here in Hebrews 3:1 he draws attention again and enjoins his holy brothers to consider Jesus: “For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. To build a house is a trivial matter, but Jesus, verily God, has built/made all that exist (John.1:1-3, 14); He has built the Israelite nation in which Moses was only a caretaker, and He has built His Church which is to share eternity with Him. His, indeed, is the glory and honor forever!
Hebrews 3:5-6 - Here, the vast difference between Moses and Jesus Christ is further stressed. We must here keep in mind that this letter was addressed to the Hebrew brethren, converted from the Jewish to the Christian faith.
They had grown up with only the Old Testament as their Bible. To them, Moses had been an exceptionally important man. It was he who had led the Hebrew nation out of the slavery of Egypt, led them through the wilderness for forty years, gave them the Ten Commandments from God and acted as a mediator between them and God.
Now they must understand and accept that the “great” Moses was only a servant in the house of God, governing and edifying God’s Church of the old dispensation, and that Jesus Christ was actually the Author of the Jewish salvation from slavery as well as the Saviour of the world and the Builder of the real house - Christian Church.
And that is why the author of this letter now stresses: “Moses truly was faithful in all His [God’s] house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken afterward. But Christ was faithful as a Son over his own house; whose house we are”.
Therefore Christ is worthy of more glory and of greater regard and consideration than Moses. The role that Moses played was to be a testimony of the new things to come. It was, proleptically, to be only a foreshadow of the reality to be revealed by Jesus Christ.
As Moses had led the Hebrew nation out of the slavery of Egypt towards the promised land, so Jesus was to be the Saviour of the world, leading His Church, His “house”, out of the slavery of sin towards the heavenly Canaan.
Let us look more closely at the fact that Moses was a servant “for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken afterward.”
In the process of his leadership, Moses himself was not only a foreshadow of the Messiah (Greek Christos) to come, but also instituted the God-ordained sacrifices and rituals to be regularly observed.
The Passover lamb, of which no bone was to be broken (Ex.12:46) pointed to the fact that no bone of Jesus Christ would be broken (John.19:36) – which was a normal procedure when a crucified person’s body was taken off the cross.
The Passover lamb’s blood was to be applied to the doorposts (Ex.12:7) so that God would “pass them over” and not smite them as He would smite the Egyptians (Ex.12:13). Even so, Jesus was to be the Passover Lamb in the new dispensation (1Cor.5:7; Rev.5:9), and His blood would save us from the death penalty of sin (Rom.6:23; 1Joh.1:7 etc).
Likewise, the rituals, sacrifices, and laws of the old, now antiquated dispensation, were fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Mat.5:7). The blood of the sacrifices that was sprinkled symbolically cleansed from sin (Lev.16:19; Heb.9:7, 22; 1Pet.1:18-19). Even so, the blood of Jesus Christ, our Passover Lamb, cleanses us from sin and unrighteousness (1Joh.1:7).
So we see that Jesus has made the foreshadows of the Old Testament a reality. What was once the house of God through physical descent, with Moses as it’s servant, was a foreshadowing of the house that Jesus Christ would build, namely His Church – a Church bought with His own blood, and not by the blood of sacrificed animals of old. And not only is the Church of Jesus Christ His house in which He dwells by His Holy Spirit: every believer, bought with His blood, is a temple in which the Holy Spirit dwells (1Cor.3:17).
But let us take note of the condition put forward: We are the house of Christ, “if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end”. The “confidence and the rejoicing of the hope” include the obedience and responsibilities of children to their Father.
God does not make us His children and let us be, to live our lives only as we see fit. We are to observe His wishes for us. And let us also note that our obedience is not what makes us His children, but is the result of being His children. And this confidence and rejoicing in obedience to our Father we must hold onto firmly, even unto the end.
We will next look at the danger of apostasy (falling off) from the faith, and the ultimate rest for the people of God, the house of Jesus Christ.
Continue reading commentary on Hebrews 3:7-19 and Hebrews 4:1-11
Previous – Hebrews 2:5-18
Part of the series – Letter to the Hebrews
Hebrews 3:1-6 commentary by Gideon Aggenbag
Mind On Jesus