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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Hebrews 3:1-6

Commentary On Hebrews by Jean Calvin

Hebrews 3:1-6

1. Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;

1. Unde fratres sancti vocationis coelestis participes, considerate Apostolum et sacerdotem confessionis nostrae, Christum Iesum;

2. Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.

2. Qui fidelis est ei qui constituit eum, quemadmodum et Moses in Tota domo ejus.

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.

3. Majore quippe gloria hic dignus habitus est quam Moses, quanto majorem habet honorem architectus domus quam ipsa.

4. For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.

4. Omnis enim domus construitur ab aliquo, qui autem omnia construxit Deus est.

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;

5. Et Moses quidem fidelis in tota domo ejus tanquam minister in testimonium eorum quae post dicenda erant;

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.

6. Christus autem tanquam filius supra domum ipsius; cujus nos domus sumus, si fiduciam et gloriationem spei ad finem usque firmam tenuerimus.

1. Wherefore, holy brethren, etc. He concludes the preceding doctrine with a necessary exhortation, that the Jews should attentively consider what sort of being and how great Christ is. As he had before, by naming him a teacher and a priest, briefly compared him with Moses and Aaron, so he now includes both clauses; for he adorns him with two titles, as he sustains a twofold character in the Church of God. Moses was a prophet and a teacher, and Aaron was a priest; but the two offices belong to Christ. If then we seek rightly to know him, we must inquire what sort of being he is; yea, he must be clothed with his own power, lest we lay hold on an empty shadow and not on him.

First, the word consider, is important, for it intimates that singular attention is required, as he cannot be disregarded with impunity, and that at the same time the true knowledge of Christ is sufficient to dissipate the darkness of all errors. And to encourage them the more to pursue this study, he reminds them of their calling; as though he had said, |God favored you with no common grace when He called you into his kingdom; it now remains that you have your eyes fixed on Christ as your leader in the way.| For the calling of the godly cannot be otherwise confirmed than by a thorough surrender of themselves to Christ. We ought not therefore to regard this as said only to the Jews, but that it is a general truth addressed to all who desire to come into the kingdom of God; they ought sedulously to attend to Christ, for he is the sole instructor of our faith, and has confirmed it by the sacrifice of himself; for confession, or profession, is to be taken here for faith, as thought he had said, that the faith we profess is vain and of no avail, unless Christ be its object.

2. Who was, or is faithful, etc. This is a commendation of the apostleship of Christ, in order that the faithful may securely acquiesce in him; and he commends it on two grounds, because the Father has set him to be over us as our teacher, and because Christ himself has faithfully performed the office committed to him. These two things are always necessary to secure authority to a doctrine; for God alone ought to be attended to, as the whole Scripture testifies; hence Christ declares, that the doctrine which he delivered was not his own, but the Father's, (John 7:16;) and in another place he says, |He who received me, receiveth him who has sent me.| (Luke 9:48.) For we say of Christ, that as he is clothed with our flesh, he is the Father's minister to execute his commands. To the calling of God is added the faithful and upright performance of duty on the part of Christ; and this is required in true ministers, in order that they may obtain credence in the Church. Since these two things are found in Christ, doubtless he cannot be disregarded without despising God in him.

As also Moses, etc. Omitting for a while the priesthood, he speaks here of his apostleship. For as there are two parts in God's covenant, the promulgation of the truth, and so to speak, its real confirmation, the full perfection of the covenant would not appear in Christ, were not both parts found in him. Hence the writer of the epistle, after having mentioned both, roused attention by a brief exhortation. But he now enters on a longer discussion, and begins with the office of a teacher: he therefore now compares Christ only with Moses. The words, in all his house, may be applied to Moses; but I prefer to apply them to Christ, as he may be said to be faithful to his Father in ruling his whole house. It hence follows, that none belong to the Church of God except those who acknowledge Christ.

3. For this man (or, he) was counted worthy, etc. Lest he might appear to make Moses equal to Christ, he reminds us of his superior excellency; and this he proves by two arguments, Moses so ruled the Church, that he was still a part and member of it; but Christ being the builder, is superior to the whole building, -- Moses while ruling others, was ruled also himself, as he was a servant; but Christ being a Son possesses supreme power.

It is a frequent and wellknown metaphor used in Scripture to call the Church the house of God. (1 Timothy 3:15.) And as it is composed of the faithful, each of them is called a living stone. (1 Peter 2:5.) They are also sometimes called the vessels with which the house is furnished. (2 Timothy 2:20.) There is then no one so eminent that he is not a member, and included in the universal body. God being the builder, alone is to be set above his own work; but God dwells in Christ, so that whatever is said of God is applicable to him.

If any one objects and says that Christ is also a part of the building because he is the foundation, because he is our brother, because he has a union with us and then that he is not the masterbuilder because he himself was formed by God: in reply to these things we say that our faith is so founded on him that he still rules over us that he is in such a way our brother that he is yet our Lord, that he was so formed by God as man that he nevertheless by his Spirit revives and restores all things as the eternal God. The Scripture employs us various metaphors to set forth Christ s grace towards us; but there is no one which derogates from his honor mentioned here by the Apostle; for what is stated here is that all ought to be brought down to their own state because they ought to be in subjection to the head and that Christ alone is exempt from this submission, because he is the head.

If it be again objected and said that Moses was no less a masterbuilder than Paul who gloried in this title: to this I reply that this name is applied to prophets and teachers but not with strict correctness; for they are only the instruments and indeed dead instruments, except the Lord from heaven gives efficacy to what they do; and then they so labor in building the Church, that they themselves form a part of the structure; but the case is wholly different as to Christ, for he ever builds up the Church by the power of his own Spirit. Besides, he stands far above the rest, for he is in such a way the true temple of God, that he is at the same time the God who inhabits it.

4. He that built, etc. Though these words may be extended to the creation of the whole world, yet I confine them to the present subject. We are then to understand that nothing is done in the Church which ought not to he ascribed to Gods power; for he alone has founded it by his own hand, (Psalm 87:5;) and Paul says of Christ that he is the head, from whom the whole body, joined together and connected by every subservient juncture, makes an increase according to what is done proportionally by every member. (Ephesians 4:16.) Hence he often declares that the success of his ministry was God's work. In a word, if we take a right view of things, it will appear that how much soever God may use the labors of men in building his Church, yet he himself performs everything -- the instrument derogates nothing from the workman.

5. And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, etc. The second difference is, that to Moses was committed a doctrine to which he, in common with others, was to submit; but Christ, though he put on the form of a servant, is yet Master and Lord, to whom all ought to be subject; for, as we found in chap.1:2, he is constituted heir of all things.

For a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after, or which were afterwards to be said or declared. I explain this simply in this way, -- that Moses, while a herald of that doctrine which was to be published for a time to the ancient people, did at the same time render a testimony to the Gospel, the publication of which was not as yet to be made; for it is doubtless evident, that the end and completion of the Law is that perfection of wisdom contained in the Gospel. This exposition seems to comport with the future tense of the participle. The meaning indeed is, that Moses faithfully delivered to the people what the Lord had committed to him, but that limits were prescribed to him which it was not lawful for him to pass. God formerly spoke at different times and in various ways by the prophets, but he deferred to the fullness of time the complete revelation of the Gospel.

6. Whose house are we, etc. As Paul in his Epistle to the Romans, after having prefaced that he was appointed to be the Apostle of the Gentiles, adds, for the sake of gaining credit among them, that they were of that number; so now the author of this epistle exhorts the Jews who had already made a profession of Christ to persevere in the faith, that they might be deemed as being in Gods household. He had said before that God's house was subject to the authority of Christ. Suitably to this declaration is added the admonition that they would then have a place in God's family when they obeyed Christ. But as they had already embraced the gospel, he mentions their condition if they persevered in the faith. For the word hope I take for faith; and indeed hope is nothing else but the constancy of faith. He mentions confidence and rejoicing, or glorying, in order to express more fully the power of faith. And we hence conclude that those who assent to the Gospel doubtfully and like those who vacillate, do not truly and really believe; for faith cannot be without a settled peace of mind, from which proceeds the bold confidence of rejoicing. And so these two things, confidence and rejoicing, are ever the effects of faith, as we stated in explaining Romans the 5^th chapter, and Ephesians the 3^rd chapter

But to these things the whole teaching of the Papists is opposed; and this very fact, were there nothing else, sufficiently proves that they pull down the Church of God rather than build it. For the certainty by which alone we are made, as the Apostle teaches us, holy temples to God, they not only darken by their glosses, but also condemn as presumption. Besides, what firmness of confidence can there be when men know not what they ought to believe? And yet that monstrous thing, implicit faith, which they have invented, is nothing else than a license to entertain errors. This passage reminds us that we are always to make progress even unto death; for our whole life is as it were a race.

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