Now here is some very good news. I have brothers and sisters in Jesus. And … we share a heavenly calling. How cool is that? Stunning beyond believe. I have a family. I will always have a family. This is for eternity. My job is to serve and love them.
I must consider Jesus. He is my High Priest. I can publicly confess to Him in confidence. I can shout it out loud. Jesus is my Master. I am His slave. He shows me the way to faithfulness to God. Jesus is also the commissioned messenger of God. He brings God’s ways to me. That is very special.
Jesus is faithful and trustworthy to God. That means I can always trust Him. Never any reason not to. Jesus represents God to me.
1 Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession. 2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was in all God’s household. | Hebrews 3:1-2 (CSB)
The twofold description of the readers makes it clear that they were converted people. “Holy brethren” could only be applied to people in the family of God, set apart by the grace of God. That the writer was referring to disciples of Jesus the Messiah, is clear from his use of the phrase “partakers of the heavenly calling.” No unconverted Jew or Gentile could ever claim that blessing! The word translated “partakers” here is translated “partners” in other places, where it describes the relationship of four men in the fishing business: they were in it together.
True disciples not only share in a heavenly calling, but they also share in Jesus the Messiah. Through the Holy Spirit, we are “members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones”. True believers are also “partakers of the Holy Spirit”. “Now if any man have not the Spirit of the Messiah, he is none of His” (Rom. 8:9). Because we are God’s children, we also partake in God’s loving chastening. Not to be chastened is evidence that a person is not one of God’s children.
Because these people were holy brothers and sisters, and partakers of a heavenly calling, they were able to give a “confession” of their faith in the Messiah Jesus. The word simply means “to say the same thing.” All true disciples “say the same thing” when it comes to their experience of salvation. Twice in this letter, the writer exhorted the readers to hold fast to this confession. It was this same confession that they were “strangers and pilgrims” on the earth that characterized men and women of faith in the ages past.
It was not Moses who did all of this for the people addressed in this letter; it was Jesus the Messiah! The writer did not exhort them to consider Moses, but to consider the Messiah. The word means “to consider carefully, to understand fully.” This is no quick glance at Jesus! It is a careful consideration of who He is and what He has done.
That the Messiah is superior to Moses in His person is an obvious fact. Moses was a mere man, called to be a prophet and leader, while Jesus is the Son of God sent by the Father into the world. The title apostle means “one sent with a commission.” Moses was called and commissioned by God, but Jesus was sent as God’s “last Word” to sinful man.
Jesus the Messiah is not only the messenger (aka Apostle), but He is also the High Priest. Moses was a prophet who on occasion served as a priest, but he was never a high priest. That title belonged to his brother Aaron. In fact, Jesus the Messiah has the title “great High Priest”.
As the Messenger, Jesus Christ represented God to men; and as the High Priest, He now represents men to God in heaven. Moses, of course, fulfilled similar ministries, for he taught Israel God’s truth and he prayed for Israel when he met God on the mount. Moses was primarily the prophet of Law, while Jesus is the Messenger of God’s grace. Moses helped prepare the way for the coming of the Savior to the earth.
The writer of Hebrews notes that Moses and Jesus were both faithful in the work God gave them to do. Moses was not sinless, as was Jesus, but he was faithful and obeyed God’s will. This would be an encouragement to those first-century Jewish believers to remain faithful to the Messiah, even in the midst of the tough trials they were experiencing. Instead of going back to Moses, they should imitate Moses and be faithful in their calling.
Here is the literal translation:
Hence, holy brothers, partakers of a heavenly calling, fix your mind on the commissioned messenger and high priest of our confession—[namely,] Jesus—2 [he] being faithful to the one who made him [the messenger and high priest of our confession] as Moses too [was faithful] in his house.
Consider the Greek for confession: ὁμολογέωa; ὁμολογία, ας f; ἐξομολογέομαιa: to express openly one’s allegiance to a proposition or person —‘to profess, to confess, confession.’
ὁμολογέωa: ὅστις ὁμολογήσει ἐν ἐμοὶ ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ὁμολογήσω κἀγὼ ἐν αὐτῷ ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ πατρός μου ‘whoever confesses me before people, I will confess him before my Father’ Mt 10:32.
ὁμολογία: κατέχωμεν τὴν ὁμολογίαν τῆς ἐλπίδος ‘let us hold on to the hope we profess’ He 10:23.
ἐξομολογέομαιa: διὰ τοῦτο ἐξομολογήσομαί σοι ἐν ἔθνεσιν ‘therefore I will confess you before the Gentiles’ Ro 15:9. For another interpretation of ἐξομολογέομαι in Ro 15:9, see 33.359.
It is often extremely difficult, if not impossible, to translate ὁμολογέωa, ὁμολογία, and ἐξομολογέομαιa by the usual expression for ‘confess,’ since this would usually imply that one has done something wrong. It is normally necessary, therefore, to employ quite a different type of relationship, usually involving a public utterance and an expression of confidence or allegiance. For example, in Mt 10:32 it may be necessary to translate ‘whoever tells people publicly that he is loyal to me, I will tell my Father that I am loyal to that person.’ Similarly, in He 10:23 one may translate ‘let us hold on to the hope in which we have told people we have such confidence.’ Likewise, in Ro 15:9 one may translate ‘therefore I will tell the Gentiles how I have put my confidence in you.’
Christian Standard Bible. (2017). (Heb 3:1–19). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, pp. 285–286). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
Gundry, R. H. (2010). Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation (p. 877). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.
Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, pp. 417–419). New York: United Bible Societies.