Sunday, 2 September 2018
Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, Hebrews 3:1
The word “Therefore” is a summary of all of the contents of Chapter 2. The words expressed here have their basis in the various thoughts which were put forth there. And so the author next states, “holy brethren.” The term “brethren,” in this sense, speaks of those who are united by faith in Christ. The only time that the word “holy” is affixed to “brethren,” other than here, is in 1 Thessalonians 5:27, but even that is not included in all manuscripts as it is here. The word “brethren” speaks of the unity of those in Christ as sons. This was seen in verse 2:10 where Christ brought “many sons to glory.” The word “holy” is affixed to it because of the sanctification of Christ seen in verse 2:11.
The term “holy brethren” is then being applied to those who are the called out of the Lord. As Israel was called out in the Old Testament and set apart as holy (e.g. Exodus 19:6), so the church was called out as holy because of Christ. It needs to be remembered that the author here is writing to Hebrews. The Gentiles (as in 1 Thessalonians 5:27) have been called out in Christ, and the Jews have likewise been called out in Him. It is He who has sanctified this body of believers.
The author then says, “partakers of the heavenly calling.” This idea was first stated in verse 2:10 in the term “bringing many sons to glory.” Glory is the heavenly calling that is possessed because of Christ. The “partaking” of that calling is based on Christ’s having “partaken of flesh and blood” as noted in verse 2:14. He first partook of our human nature, so that we could then partake of His heavenly state. The calling is from heaven, but it is based on His earthly work. In His triumphing over the flesh, He has imputed His righteousness and given to us the assured glory of heaven.
Based on this, we are asked to “consider.” The Greek word denotes to fix one’s thinking on a matter and to consider it fully, even to a definite and clear understanding of it. The NIV says, “fix your thoughts on Jesus.” Though the order doesn’t reflect the Greek of the verse, it is a well-stated translation nonetheless. We are to fix our thoughts on Him, mull over what He has done, pay heed to what it means in our lives, and so on.
Combined with the idea of “consider,” the author first states the descriptive title, “the Apostle.” The word signifies, “to send forth.” It focuses back on the position and authority of the sender. In this case, God sent Him. This goes back to verse 2:4 where it says, “God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders.” These were accomplished through Christ by the full authority of God. It then goes to verse 2:9 where it says that Christ Jesus was sent, “that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” Jesus Christ is the grace of God, sent unto men. He was sent with a commission which included taking on our nature, and dying in that state. Thus, He is the Apostle par excellence.
The author next says, “and High Priest.” This refers back to verse 2:17 where it says, based on His incarnation and fulfilled work, that “He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
The idea of being an Apostle signifies the mission that Christ was sent on. He was sent by God to accomplish the work of God. The idea of being a High Priest is one of the position He now fills based on His accomplishment of the mission in establishing a New Covenant. He was not a high priest of the Old Covenant, nor could He be. That will be explained in Chapter 7. Rather, He was sent on His mission under the Old Covenant in order to establish the New Covenant, being now the High Priest of a far superior covenant.
The author’s words, “of our confession,” refer to our acknowledgment of Christ Jesus as Lord, having received Him as such, and embraced Him as the Messiah of the Jews and the Christ of the nations. The same applies to both Jews and Gentiles, but the context continues to be the author writing to a Jewish audience.
The author finishes the thought by stating who the Apostle and High Priest is, “Christ Jesus.” It is to be noted that some manuscripts (and thus some translations) do not include the word “Christ.” In them, it simply says, “the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Jesus.” That would be more in line with verse 2:9 which said, “But we see Jesus…” It is Jesus who is the Person, and who did the things referred to, in Chapter 2. The author sums up all of that chapter in this one verse, and his pen then points to that Name above every name, Jesus.
Life application: If you are in a church which refers to the object of the faith as “Yehovah,” “Jehovah,” “Yahweh,” “YHVH,” or whatever name from the Old Testament that applies to the Lord, you have missed the point of what the New Testament is telling you. The Lord of the Old is Christ Jesus. They are One. God has determined that the name Yeshua, or Jesus, is the name which we are to speak, pray through, adore, follow, pursue, contemplate, and fix our thoughts on. To do otherwise fails to acknowledge the complete and finished work of what He has done in Messiah (Christ). Get your terminology straight, and set your eyes and heart on Jesus.
Lord God, the Name which is above every name is that of Jesus our Lord. You have slowly and steadily worked out Your plan of redemption in human history, culminating in what You did through Him. Help us to never trivialize this. Instead, may we exalt and glorify that magnificent name, JESUS, all the days of our lives. To Your glory. Amen.