The Arguments, 2:10-12:29

1. Christ is a faithful and merciful high priest, 2:10-5:10

ii] The faithful Christ and Moses


In establishing the faithfulness of Jesus and the glory which is his through faithful suffering, our author now sets out to compare Jesus with Moses. Moses was indeed a faithful servant in the household of God (the people of God), but "God is the architect; Jesus is the builder", Kistemaker.


i] Context: See 2:10-18.


ii] Background: A general introduction; See 1:1-4.


iii] Structure: This passage, The faithful Christ and Moses, presents as follows:

Injunction, v1-2:

Rest on the faithfulness of Jesus.

Assertion, v3-4:

When it comes to the faithfulness of God's servants, Jesus outshines Moses.

Explanation, v5-6a;

Application, v6b.

"we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly ....."


iv] Interpretation:

The literary form of 3:1-4:13 is usually viewed as homiletic, functioning as an exhortation to faithfulness, although the faithfulness of Jesus as high priest, and therefore a high priest able to deal with the sins of God's people, seems more the focus of 3:1-6, ie., the passage is primarily doctrinal, as is the whole of 2:10-5:10.

In the passage, Jesus' faithfulness is compared with that of Moses. It is often argued that the superiority of Jesus is being established in much the same was as the superiority of Jesus over angels was established in the Narration of Facts, 1:5-14. In the business of establishing the covenant, the angels conveyed this divine agreement to the patriarchs and prophets, whereas Moses actually carried the tablets of the law from God to the people, thus establishing his superiority over the angels. So, now our author establishes Jesus' superiority over Moses. Moses was faithful in serving God's house (cf. Num.12:6-7), Jesus is faithful in building God's house. None-the-less, the literary and theological connection between the two comparisons, Jesus and angels / Jesus and Moses, is somewhat tenuous.

Our author begins by asserting the faithfulness of Jesus, v1-2a, and then, in a parenthesis, he concedes the faithfulness of Moses, v2b, so preparing for the comparison of the two by means of an analogy which establishes the priority of Jesus' faithfulness, v3, which priority is supported by the creation ordinance (God is the creator of everything [through Christ]), v4. Our author then explains the difference between Christ's faithfulness and that of Moses, v5-6a, before applying the point to his readers: "we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory", v6b.


The passage seems to expound Numbers 12:7, so Koester, although not all commentators agree.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 3:1

The superior faithfulness of Jesus, v1-6: i] Injunction, v1-2: Addressing his readers as believers, our author encourages us to reckon with the fact that Jesus, our "apostle and high priest", was faithful in his service to God the Father. As high priest Jesus brought deliverance from sin and as apostle he leads us to eternity. In all this he was perfectly obedient to the Father. For the sake of comparison, our author draws attention to Moses who was also a faithful servant of God in his ministrations to the household of God, although Jesus "has been found worthy of greater honor."

As noted above, it is possible that this passage serves as an exegesis of Numbers 12:7, "Moses was faithful in his whole house as a servant." In v1-2 our author breaks open "Moses was faithful."

The opening Gk. sentence, v1-2, is formed by the main verb katanohsate, "consider" ("fix your thoughts on"), with the participial phrase, v2b, functioning as a dependent statement of perception expressing what they should carefully consider.

oqen "therefore" - Drawing a logical conclusion / inferential, rather than causal. Given Christ's faithfulness as our great high priest, 2:17, "therefore". It should be noted that the internal construction of the paragraph is established by the use of conjunctions, oten, gar, kai. Koester notes that this conjunction usually only appears in the middle of an argument indicating the structural link with the proceeding passage, and particularly 2:17. "So then", Berkeley.

aJgioi adj. "holy [brothers]" - "Holy", as set apart and therefore "holy ones / saints / believers / Christians."

metocoi (oV) "who share" - partakers, associates, partners. "Partakers" with whom/what? Possibly we share with fellow believers in God's call, but probably we "have been made partakers of a call from heaven", Cassirer.

klhsewV (iV ewV) gen. "[heavenly] calling" - of a [heavenly] calling. The genitive is verbal, subjective; they share in a call from heaven. That is, a call from God, not a call to go to heaven. An effectual call is surely not intended, but rather an invitation from God to share in the blessings of the new covenant.

katanohsate (katanoew) aor. imp. "fix your thoughts" - understand, consider. Not just think about, but fix the mind on; "reckon with the fact that", TH.

Ihsoun (ouV ou) "Jesus" - Actually, "Jesus" is in apposition to "apostle and high priest", so "consider carefully the apostle and high priest of our profession, namely Jesus". This construction serves to emphasize the name "Jesus".

ton apostolon (oV) "apostle" - messenger. Here in the sense of "authoritative representative / ambassador". "Jesus was sent to bring deliverance (his role as high priest) and lead the way into the land of promise (his role as apostle), cf. 3:7-4:11", Koester.

thV oJmologiaV (a) gen. "whom [we] confess" - of the confession, agreement, contract [of ours]. The genitive is usually taken as verbal, subjective, the confession is made by us (hJmwn, "our"), or possibly objective, Jesus receives our confession. Given the definite article, better "the apostle and high priest of our profession / confession", in the sense of the truth we affirm about Jesus; "Jesus is the Apostle and High Priest of the faith which we profess", Barclay.


o[nta (eimi) pres. part. "he was" - being. As noted above, the participle probably introduces a dependent statement of perception expressing what we should carefully consider, namely "that he [Jesus] is faithful to the one who appointed him."

piston adj. "faithful" - faithful, reliable. "He did everything God told him to do", TH.

tw/ poihsanti (poiew) dat. aor. part. "to the one who appointed [him]" - to the one having made = appointed. Obviously not "to the one who made him." The participle serves as a substantive, dative of indirect object / interest.

wJV "just as" - as, like. Establishing a comparison. Best treated as introducing a bracketed parenthesis; "he was faithful to the one who appointed him in his house [as was Moses]", Lane.

en + dat. "in" - in, on. Expressing space/sphere, distributive; "among all his people."

tw/ oikw/ "[God's] house" - the house [of him]. Obviously the subject is "God", while the house represents "the people"; "all God's people", CEV.


ii] Assertion, v3-4. Having conceded that both Moses and Jesus are faithful servants of God, they are now compared in the terms of a builder / architect and the house that he builds, so establishing that Jesus "is deemed to be worthy of greater honor than Moses", Barclay. The TEV reverses the order of the verse for clarity; "a man who builds a house receives more honor than the house itself. In the same way Jesus is worthy of greater honor than Moses." Possibly reflecting the proverb "a workman is greater than his work." Lane observes a chiastic structure in the argument of v3-4 which may be expressed as follows:

Jesus is deemed [by God] more worthy of glory than Moses

just as the an architect/builder is deemed more worthy than the construction he designs/builds

everything ever constructed was built by someone

and God has constructed everything.

Again, it is possible that these two verses serve to exegete the phrase "in his house" from Numbers .

gar "-" - for. Here serving to introduce a new Gk. sentence, v3-4, see above.

hxiwtai (axiow) perf. pas. "[Jesus] has been found worthy" - [this one] has been considered worthy. Probably a divine/theological passive, ie. God is the one who deems Jesus more worthy of glory than Moses.

pleionoV (poluV) com. "of greater" - of greater. "Worthy of more honor", Junkins.

doxhV (a hV) "honor" - glory. Genitive of comparison. "Glory" is being used in the sense of "deserving honor". The word "glory" parallels timhn, "honor", which is used of the "builder/house", and is chosen as a word appropriate for God, but is usually translated as "honor". Cassirer attempts to draw out the distinction between the two words with "he was held worthy of greater renown than Moses, in the same way as the founder of a house is held in greater honor than is his household."

para + acc. "than [Moses]" - beside. Here as a comparison; "in comparison to."

kaq o{son "just as" - as much more as, insomuch as. Establishing a comparison. "In the same way", TEV.

oJ kataskeuasaV (kataskeuazw) aor. part. "the builder of [a house]" - the one having built, constructed [the house]. The participle serves as a substantive. Better "constructs a building", given that in v2 "house" is used in the sense of "household". Note above where Cassirer continues the idea of "household" into this verse, although "house / building / construction" better fits with v4.


The sense of the second part of the chiastic construction, v3-4, is somewhat unclear given that we would have expected line 4 to read "and Jesus has constructed everything." Of course, the comparison is between two servants of God in their service to God's house/household, the faithfulness of one being worthy of greater honor than the other. In the creation "God is the builder of everything", but then God the Father "builds everything through his Son. And because Christ constructs God's house, he is worthy of greater honor than Moses", Kistemaker. This verse is sometimes treated as a parenthesis (bracketed), but such is probably not intended.

gar "for" - More explanatory than causal; as a qualification; "indeed, every house is build by someone, (de, adversative) but ..."

kataskeuazetai (kataskeuazw) pres. "is built" - The present tense used for a general proposition.

uJpo + gen. "by [someone]" - by. Here expressing agency.

qeoV "God" - A predicate nominative so the actual translation is "the one having created everything is God."

oJ ... kataskeuasaV (kataskeuazw) aor. part. "the builder" - the one having constructed, built, created. The participle functions as a substantive.


iii] Explanation, v5-6a. Our author now explains the difference between Christ's faithfulness and the faithfulness of Moses, v5-6a. He does this by contrasting the two. Both Moses and Jesus were faithful to God, but:

Moses functioned as a servant, Jesus as a Son;

Moses was faithful "in" God's house, Jesus "over" God's house;

Moses but pointed to Jesus.

Again, if these two verses serve as a further exegesis of "Moses was faithful in his whole house as a servant", then our author is breaking open the phrase "as a servant."

men ...... de "-" - An adversative comparative construction; "On the one hand ........, but on the other hand ......."

pistoV adj. "faithful" - Probably as above, "faithfulness / trustworthiness", but possibly, although unlikely, "entrusted [with God's house]".

en "in" - in. Obviously local, "in / within". Moses, the servant of God, served "in / within" God's house, while Jesus, the Son of God, served epi "over" the house of God, ie. Jesus exercises divine authority and rule "over" the people of God, while Moses served "within the household of God", Lane.

oJlw/ "all [God's house]" - whole [house of him]. The "whole" serves to make "house" emphatic, but when translated in English it is rather pedantic; "Moses was faithful in God's house", Barclay. As already noted, "house" probably has the sense of "household / people of God", but possibly (although unlikely) wider, "universe".

wJV "as" - as, like. Expressing a comparison.

qerapwn (wn ontoV) "a servant" - a servant, minister / healer. As a personal attendant to God.

eiV + acc. "[testifying / bearing witness] to" - to/for/as [a testimony, evidence]. Here expressing purpose; "in order to" bear testimony, witness, give evidence; "His function was to point to the things which God was going to say in the future", Barclay.

twn lalhqhsomenwn (lalew) gen. fut. pas. part. "what would be said in the future" - of the things will be speaking. The participle, a unique future passive, is adjectival, limiting "the things"; "the things which will be said". The genitive is possibly a genitive of content, BDF#167; "the testimony of what was to be spoken later", Ellingworth. The "what would be said in the future" (NIV, CEV) is probably intentionally oblique with the inference that the inferred speaker is God ("he spoke the things that God would say in the future", TEV, ie. a divine/theological passive), or possibly even Jesus ("bear witness to the words God would speak [through Jesus]", REB). "The comment refers to the way that Moses bore witness to what God would speak to later generations by a Son", Koester.


de "but" - but, and. Here obviously adversative.

CristoV (oV) "Christ" - messiah, anointed one. The position in the Gk. is emphatic.

"is faithful" - Assumed. Usually placed in the present tense, as NIV, although there is much to be said for the past tense "was faithful", NRSV, Attridge..., ie. referencing Christ's obedience even unto a cross.

uiJoV (oV) "a son" - Here anarthrous (without a definite article) = "one who is named / bearing the name of Son". Possibly here a messianic title, but also possibly alluding "to the divine aspects of Jesus' sonship", Koester.

epi + acc. "over" - upon, on. Spacial. Expressing "Christ's supremacy over the believing community", Ellingworth. Christ is appointed to "rule over the house of God", Lane.

autou gen. pro. "God's [house]" - [the house] of him. The genitive is possessive. Presumably as NIV, "God's house", rather than "his (Christ's) house, as AV; "house of God", Barclay.


iv] Application, v6b: The implication of our author's argument is that believers are this "house / household" and are therefore beneficiaries of Christ's faithfulness. There are though two conditions for the maintenance of this status, namly that we remain courageous, and proud. The conditions are not detailed so presumably they are a faith statement: not giving up our faith in the face of troubles without and within, but rather resting in faith on the promises of God. "The writer is not saying ...... that he and his readers will become partners with Christ if they remain faithful to the end", TH.

hJmeiV pro. "we [are his house]" - [who's house] we [are]. The use of the pronoun here is emphatic. "And we are that household", Berkeley.

ou| gen. pro. "his [house]" - whose [house]. Variant o{V "this/that house", cf. NAB, "whose house" is preferred.

ean + subj. "if" - Introducing a conditional clause 3rd class, where the condition has the possibility of coming true: "if, as the case may be, ...... then ...." "If we hold on to our courage ....... then we are his house."

katascwmen (katecw) aor. subj. "we hold on to / we hold firmly" - we may keep hold on, hold down, hold fast to. The verb itself probably expresses durative action, "continues to hold firmly", Lane, as of "holding onto traditional or spiritual values", Attridge. The sense is "keep a firm grip on", Peterson.

thn parrhsian (a) "our courage / confidence" - the confidence, boldness. "Our confidence", Zerwick, "our internal disposition to confidence", Koester, rather than "courage/boldness", obviously in the terms of what we believe with respect to Christ. Keeping a firm grip on what we believe = faith. So, the qualification for continued membership of God's household is a continuing faith.

thV elpidoV (iV idoV) gen "the hope of which we [boast] / the hope in which we [glory]" - [the pride, boast] of hope. The genitive is usually treated as verbal, objective; "boasting in our hope", ESV, although possibly adjectival, limiting "that which we are proud of", ie. it is a particular "pride", the "hope" type; "our pride in the hope that is ours", Barclay. This "pride" is "commonly the object of which one is proud", Koester. Again, this particular "pride" is obviously in the terms of what we believe with respect to Christ. Our "holding fast" to this "pride" continues our membership of God's household, and this because our membership rests primarily on the faithfulness of God's Son.

macri telouV bebaian (katascwmen) "-" - [we may hold fast] until the end. A variant added by the AV, but probably transposed from 3:14; "firm to the end", AV.


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