E B R E W S
this chapter the apostle applies what he had said in the chapter foregoing
concerning the priesthood of Christ, I. In a serious pathetic exhortation that
this great high priest, who was discovered to them, might be seriously
considered by them, ver. 1-6. II. He then adds many weighty counsels and
cautions, ver. 7, to the end.
Due to Christ.
A. D. 62.
1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the
heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession,
Christ Jesus; 2 Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as
also Moses was faithful in all his house. 3 For this man
was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded
the house hath more honour than the house. 4 For every house is
builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.
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.
In these verses we have the application of the doctrine laid down in the close
of the last chapter concerning the priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ. And
I. In how fervent and affectionate a manner the apostle exhorts Christians to
have this high priest much in their thoughts, and to make him the object of
their close and serious consideration; and surely no one in earth or heaven
deserves our consideration more than he. That this exhortation might be made
the more effectual, observe,
1. The honourable compellation used towards those to whom he wrote: Holy
brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling. (1.) Brethren, not only my
brethren, but the brethren of Christ, and in him brethren to all the saints.
All the people of God are brethren, and should love and live like brethren.
(2.) Holy brethren; holy not only in profession and title, but in principle
and practice, in heart and life. This has been turned by some into scorn:
"These," say they, "are the holy brethren;" but it is
dangerous jesting with such edge-tools; be not mockers, lest your bands be
made strong. Let those that are thus despised and scorned labour to be
holy brethren indeed, and approve themselves so to God; and they need not be
ashamed of the title nor dread the scoffs of the profane. The day is coming
when those that make this a term of reproach would count it their greatest
honour and happiness to be taken into this sacred brotherhood. (3.) Partakers
of the heavenly calling--partakers of the means of grace, and of the
Spirit of grace, that came from heaven, and by which Christians are
effectually called out of darkness into marvellous light, that calling which
brings down heaven into the souls of men, raises them up to a heavenly temper
and conversation, and prepares them to live for ever with God in heaven.
2. The titles he gives to Christ, whom he would have them consider, (1.) As
the apostle of our profession, the prime-minister of the gospel church, a
messenger and a principal messenger sent of God to men, upon the most
important errand, the great revealer of that faith which we profess to hold
and of that hope which we profess to have. (2.) Not only the apostle, but the
high priest too, of our profession, the chief officer of the Old Testament as
well as the New, the head of the church in every state, and under each
dispensation, upon whose satisfaction and intercession we profess to depend
for pardon of sin, and acceptance with God. (3.) As Christ, the Messiah,
anointed and every way qualified for the office both of apostle and high
priest. (4.) As Jesus, our Saviour, our healer, the great physician of souls,
typified by the brazen serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness, that
those who were stung by the fiery serpents might look to him, and be saved.
II. We have the duty we owe to him who bears all these high and honourable
titles, and that is to consider him as thus characterized. Consider what he is
in himself, what he is to us, and what he will be to us hereafter and for
ever; consider him, fix your thoughts upon him with the greatest attention,
and act towards him accordingly; look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of
your faith. Here observe, 1. Many that profess faith in Christ have not a due
consideration for him; he is not so much thought of as he deserves to be, and
desires to be, by those that expect salvation from him. 2. Close and serious
consideration of Christ would be of great advantage to us to increase our
acquaintance with him, and to engage our love and our obedience to him, and
reliance on him. 3. Even those that are holy brethren, and partakers of the
heavenly calling, have need to stir up one another to think more of Christ
than they do, to have him more in their minds; the best of his people think
too seldom and too slightly of him. 4. We must consider Christ as he is
described to us in the scriptures, and form our apprehensions of him thence,
not from any vain conceptions and fancies of our own.
III. We have several arguments drawn up to enforce this duty of considering
Christ the apostle and high priest of our profession.
1. The first is taken from his fidelity, v. 2. He was faithful to him
that appointed him, as Moses was in all his house. (1.) Christ is an appointed
Mediator; God the Father has sent and sealed him to that office, and therefore
his mediation is acceptable to the Father. (2.) He is faithful to that
appointment, punctually observing all the rules and orders of his mediation,
and fully executing the trust reposed in him by his Father and by his people.
(3.) That he is as faithful to him that appointed him as Moses was in all his
house. Moses was faithful in the discharge of his office to the Jewish church
in the Old Testament, and so is Christ under the New; this was a proper
argument to urge upon the Jews, who had so high an opinion of the faithfulness
of Moses, and yet his faithfulness was but typical of Christ's.
2. Another argument is taken from the superior glory and excellence of Christ
above Moses (v. 3-6); therefore they were more obliged to consider
Christ. (1.) Christ was a maker of the house, Moses but a member in it. By the
house we are to understand the church of God, the people of God incorporated
together under Christ their maker and head, and under subordinate officers,
according to his law, observing his institutions. Christ is the maker of this
house of the church in all ages: Moses was a minister in the house, he was
instrumental under Christ in governing and edifying the house, but Christ is
the maker of all things; for he is God, and no one less than God could build
the church, either lay the foundation or carry on the superstructure. No less
power was requisite to make the church than to make the world; the world was
made out of nothing, the church made out of materials altogether unfit for
such a building. Christ, who is God, drew the ground-plan of the church,
provided the materials, and by almighty power disposed them to receive the
form; he has compacted and united this his house, has settled the orders of
it, and crowned all with his own presence, which is the true glory of this
house of God. (2.) Christ was the master of this house, as well as the maker, v.
5, 6. This house is styled his house, as the Son of God. Moses was only a
faithful servant, for a testimony of those things that were afterwards to be
revealed. Christ, as the eternal Son of God, is the rightful owner and
sovereign ruler of the church. Moses was only a typical governor, for a
testimony of all those things relating to the church which would be more
clearly, completely, and comfortably revealed in the gospel by the Spirit of
Christ; and therefore Christ is worthy of more glory than Moses, and of
greater regard and consideration. This argument the apostle concludes, [1.]
With a comfortable accommodation of it to himself and all true believers (v.
6). Whose house we are: each of us personally, as we are the temples of
the Holy Ghost, and Christ dwells in us by faith; all of us jointly, as we are
united by the bonds of graces, truths, ordinances, gospel discipline, and
devotions. [2.] With a characteristic description of those persons who
constitute this house: "If we hold fast the confidence, and the
rejoicing of the hope, firmly to the end; that is, if we maintain a bold
and open profession of the truths of the gospel, upon which our hopes of grace
and glory are built, and live upon and up to those hopes, so as to have a holy
rejoicing in them, which shall abide firm to the end, notwithstanding all that
we may meet with in so doing." So that you see there must not only be a
setting out well in the ways of Christ, but a stedfastness and perseverance
therein unto the end. We have here a direction what those must do who would
partake of the dignity and privileges of the household of Christ. First,
They must take the truths of the gospel into their heads and hearts. Secondly,
They must build their hopes of happiness upon those truths. Thirdly,
They must make an open profession of those truths. Fourthly, They must
live so up to them as to keep their evidences clear, that they may rejoice in
hope, and then they must in all persevere to the end. In a word, they must
walk closely, consistently, courageously, and constantly, in the faith and
practice of the gospel, that their Master, when he comes, may own and approve
A. D. 62.
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
sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) 12 Take
heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in
departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily,
while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the
deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if
we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; 15
While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as
in the provocation. 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 sware 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.
Here the apostle proceeds in pressing upon them serious counsels and cautions
to the close of the chapter; and he recites a passage out of Ps. xc. 7,
&c., where observe,
I. What he counsels them to do--to give a speedy and present attention to the
call of Christ. "Hear his voice, assent to, approve of, and consider,
what God in Christ speaks unto you; apply it to yourselves with suitable
affections and endeavours, and set about it this very day, for to-morrow it
may be too late."
II. What he cautions them against--hardening their hearts, turning the deaf
ear to the calls and counsels of Christ: "When he tells you of the evil
of sin, the excellency of holiness, the necessity of receiving him by faith as
your Saviour, do not shut your ear and heart against such a voice as
this." Observe, The hardening of our hearts is the spring of all our
III. Whose example he warns them by--that of the Israelites their fathers in
the wilderness: As in the provocation and day of temptation; this
refers to that remarkable passage at Massah Meribah, Exod. xvii. 2-7. Observe,
1. Days of temptation are often days of provocation.
2. To provoke God, when he is trying us, and letting us see that we entirely
depend and live immediately upon him, is a provocation with a witness.
3. The sins of others, especially our relations, should be a warning to us.
Our fathers' sins and punishments should be remembered by us, to deter us from
following their evil examples. Now as to the sin of the fathers of the Jews,
here reflected upon, observe,
(1.) The state in which these fathers were, when they thus sinned: they were
in the wilderness, brought out of Egypt, but not got into Canaan, the thoughts
whereof should have restrained them from sin.
(2.) The sin they were guilty of: they tempted and provoked God; they
distrusted God, murmured against Moses, and would not attend to the voice of
(3.) The aggravations of their sin: they sinned in the wilderness, where they
had a more immediate dependence upon God: they sinned when God was trying
them; they sinned when they saw his works--works of wonder wrought for their
deliverance out of Egypt, and their support and supply in the wilderness from
day to day. They continued thus to sin against God for forty years. These were
(4.) The source and spring of such aggravated sins, which were, [1.] They
erred in their hearts; and these heart-errors produced many other errors in
their lips and lives. [2.] They did not know God's ways, though he had walked
before them. They did not know his ways; neither those ways of his providence
in which he had walked towards them, nor those ways of his precept in which
they ought to have walked towards God; they did not observe either his
providences or his ordinances in a right manner.
(5.) The just and great resentment God had at their sins, and yet the great
patience he exercised towards them (v. 10): Wherefore I was grieved
with that generation. Note, [1.] All sin, especially sin committed by
God's professing privileged people, does not only anger and affront God, but
it grieves him. [2.] God is loth to destroy his people in or for their sin, he
waits long to be gracious to them. [3.] God keeps an exact account of the time
that people go on in sinning against him, and in grieving him by their sins;
but at length, if they by their sins continue to grieve the Spirit of God,
their sins shall be made grievous to their own spirits, either in a way of
judgment or mercy.
(6.) The irreversible doom passed upon them at last for their sins. God swore
in his wrath that they should not enter into his rest, the rest either of an
earthly or of a heavenly Canaan. Observe, [1.] Sin, long continued in, will
kindle the divine wrath, and make it flame out against sinners. [2.] God's
wrath will discover itself in its righteous resolution to destroy the
impenitent; he will swear in his wrath, not rashly, but righteously, and his
wrath will make their condition a restless condition; there is no resting
under the wrath of God.
IV. What use the apostle makes of their awful example, v. 12, 13,
&c. He gives the Hebrews a proper caution, and enforces it with an
1. He gives the Hebrews a proper caution; the word is, Take heed, blepete--look
to it. "Look about you; be upon your guard against enemies both
within and without; be circumspect. You see what kept many of your forefathers
out of Canaan, and made their carcasses fall in the wilderness; take heed lest
you fall into the same sin and snare and dreadful sentence. For you see Christ
is head of the church, a much greater person than Moses, and your contempt of
him must be a greater sin than their contempt of Moses; and so you are in
danger of falling under a severer sentence than they." Observe, The ruin
of others should be a warning to us to take heed of the rock they split upon.
Israel's fall should for ever be a warning to all who come after them; for all
these things happened to them for ensamples (1 Cor. x. 11), and should be
remembered by us. Take heed; all who would get safely to heaven must look
2. He enforces the admonition with an affectionate compellation: "Brethren,
not only in the flesh, but in the Lord; brethren whom I love, and for whose
welfare I labour and long." And here he enlarges upon the matter of the
admonition: Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart
of unbelief in departing from the living God. Here observe, (1.) A heart
of unbelief is an evil heart. Unbelief is a great sin, it vitiates the heart
of man. (2.) An evil heart of unbelief is at the bottom of all our sinful
departures from God; it is a leading step to apostasy; if once we allow
ourselves to distrust God, we may soon desert him. (3.) Christian brethren
have need to be cautioned against apostasy. Let those that think they stand
take heed lest they fall.
3. He subjoins good counsel to the caution, and advises them to that which
would be a remedy against this evil heart of unbelief--that they should exhort
one another daily, while it is called to-day, v. 13. Observe, (1.)
We should be doing all the good we can to one another while we are together,
which will be but a short and uncertain time. (2.) Since to-morrow is none of
ours, we must make the best improvement of to-day. (3.) If Christians do not
exhort one another daily, they will be in danger of being hardened through the
deceitfulness of sin. Note, [1.] There is a great deal of deceitfulness in
sin; it appears fair, but is filthy; it appears pleasant, but is pernicious;
it promises much, but performs nothing. [2.] The deceitfulness of sin is of a
hardening nature to the soul; one sin allowed prepares for another; every act
of sin confirms the habit; sinning against conscience is the way to sear the
conscience; and therefore it should be the great concern of every one to
exhort himself and others to beware of sin.
4. He comforts those who not only set out well, but hold on well, and hold out
to the end (v. 14): We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the
beginning of our confidence stedfast to the end. Here observe, (1.) The
saints' privilege: they are made partakers of Christ, that is, of the Spirit,
nature, graces, righteousness, and life of Christ; they are interested in all
that is Christ's, in all that he is, in all that he has done, or can do. (2.)
The condition on which they hold that privilege, namely, their perseverance in
the bold and open profession and practice of Christ and Christianity unto the
end. Not but they shall persevere, being kept by the mighty power of God
through faith to salvation, but to be pressed thus to it is one means by which
Christ helps his people to persevere. This tends to make them watchful and
diligent, and so keeps them from apostasy. Here observe, [1.] The same spirit
with which Christians set out in the ways of God they should maintain and
evidence to the end. Those who begin seriously, and with lively affections and
holy resolutions and humble reliance, should go on in the same spirit. But,
[2.] There are a great many who in the beginning of their profession show a
great deal of courage and confidence, but do not hold them fast to the end.
[3.] Perseverance in faith is the best evidence of the sincerity of our faith.
5. The apostle resumes what he had quoted before from Ps. xc. 7, &c., and
he applies it closely to those of that generation, v. 15, 16, &c.
While it is said, To-day if you will hear, &c.; as if he should
say, "What was recited before from that scripture belonged not only to
former ages, but to you now, and to all who shall come after you; that you
take heed you fall not into the same sins, lest you fall under the same
condemnation." The apostle tells them that though some who had heard the
voice of God did provoke him, yet all did not so. Observe, (1.) Though the
majority of hearers provoked God by unbelief, yet some there were who believed
the report. (2.) Though the hearing of the word be the ordinary means of
salvation, yet, if it be not hearkened to, it will expose men more to the
anger of God. (3.) God will have a remnant that shall be obedient to his
voice, and he will take care of such and make mention of them with honour.
(4.) If these should fall in a common calamity, yet they shall partake of
eternal salvation, while disobedient hearers perish for ever.
6. The apostle puts some queries upon what had been before mentioned, and
gives proper answers to them (v. 17-19): But with whom was he
grieved forty years? With those that sinned. And to whom did he swear?
&c. Whence observe, (1.) God is grieved only with those of his people who
sin against him, and continue in sin. (2.) God is grieved and provoked most by
sins publicly committed by the generality of a nation; when sin becomes
epidemic, it is most provoking. (3.) Though God grieves long, and bears long,
when pressed with the weight of general and prevailing wickedness, yet he will
at length ease himself of public offenders by public judgments. (4.) Unbelief
(with rebellion which is the consequent of it) is the great damning sin of the
world, especially of those who have a revelation of the mind and will of God.
This sin shuts up the heart of God, and shuts up the gate of heaven, against
them; it lays them under the wrath and curse of God, and leaves them there; so
that in truth and justice to himself he is obliged to cast them off for ever.