Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 1 July 2020 (in progress)
Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. Other Bible versions may be quoted. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited and resources consulted may be found at the end of the commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important Jewish sources include:
● DSS: Citations marked as "DSS" are from the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last three centuries BC and the first century AD. Online DSS Bible. Unless otherwise indicated quotations from the DSS are taken from A New Translation of The Dead Sea Scrolls (2005), abbreviated as TDSS.
● LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century BC. Online. See Barry Setterfield, The Alexandrian Septuagint History.
● Josephus: Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
● MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began in the 2nd century under Rabbi Akiva, but completed by Jewish scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from around the 9th century. Online.
• Philo: Citations of Philo of Alexandria, the Jewish philosopher (20 B.C.─A.D. 50) are from The Works of Philo Judaeus, compiled by Peter Kirby, found online at Early Jewish Writings.
● Talmud: Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Halakhah.com. The Jerusalem Talmud, identified with "TJ," may be found here. Click here for Talmud abbreviations.
● Targums: The Targums are early Aramaic translations of the Hebrew text with commentary that date from the first century. See an index of Targum texts here.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online. Parsing data for Greek words is taken from Anthony J. Fisher, Greek New Testament.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic writings and message I use the terms Jacob (James), Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament).
Please see the Introduction for background information on the letter. This commentary assumes that Paul the apostle wrote the letter in the Hebrew language and Luke translated it into Jewish Greek.
Chapter Three Summary
Having proven Yeshua's superiority to prophets and angels, Paul now compares Yeshua and Moses. The point is not to demean Moses but demonstrate how Yeshua was faithful just as Moses was a faithful servant. With this foundation Paul then warns his readers not to fall into the same spiritual trap as the wilderness generation that rebelled against Moses. Unbelief and rebellion against the Lord risks God's wrath, so Paul exhorts faithfulness to the end.
Chapter Three Outline
Yeshua and Moses, 3:1-6
Second Warning, 3:7-11
Peril of Disobedience, 3:12-19
Yeshua and Moses, 3:1-6
1 Therefore, holy brothers, partakers of a heavenly calling, carefully consider Yeshua, the Shaliach and High Priest of our confession,
Therefore: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which is used here to indicate a conclusion connected with content of the previous chapters, "so, therefore, consequently, then." holy: pl. of Grk. hagios, adj., voc. case (direct address), has two distinctive uses in Scripture: (1) set apart for dedication to the interests or expectations of deity; and (2) as a pure substantive to refer to that which has been set apart (BAG). The term is used of sacred things, places, people, angels and God. In the LXX hagios translates Heb. qadosh (SH-6918), which means separate, sacred, holy.
brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos, voc. case, lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant a male sibling; brother. In the apostolic narratives adelphos primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites who are of the same blood by virtue of descent from Jacob. In the LXX adelphos is used for the Heb. ach, meaning (1) brother, a male sibling (Gen 4:2; 20:5); also near blood relatives (Gen 13:8), members of the same tribe (Num 16:10) and fellow members of the people of Israel (Ex 4:18). Paul affirms the identity he shared with the letter recipients. The phrase "holy brothers," might imply addressing disciples of Yeshua who are wholly loyal to God and His moral standards, or used in a wider sense "holy brothers" would denote the Israelites generally being set apart from the nations to serve God.
Danker suggests that the plural vocative case (direct address), which occurs four times in this letter, can serve in the collective sense of "brothers and sisters" given that Paul is addressing the entire constituency of the congregations. A number of versions translate the noun as "brothers and sisters" (AMP, CEB, CSB, ERV, EXB, GW, NOG, NCV, NET, NIV, NLT, NRSV, TPT, TLV). An equal number of versions have "brethren," which can have the neutral meaning of "fellow members." Just as many versions have "brothers," which might be more appropriate considering the confrontational nature of this letter. The direct address would include the elders of the congregations as well as prominent male leaders.
partakers: pl. of Grk. metochos, adj., voc., having a part in something, sharing in. of a heavenly: Grk. epouranios, adj., heavenly, celestial, in the heavenly sphere. calling: Grk. klēsis, invitation to share in special privilege; calling, invitation. In the Besekh the noun is always used of a divine call to embrace salvation in the Kingdom of God. carefully consider: Grk. katanoeō, aor. imp., to pay close attention to, to take a close look at, to concentrate by fixing one's thinking. Paul challenges his readers to take time to think about what is most important. This exhortation is comparable to his instruction: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Php 4:8 ESV).
Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). The English rendering of "Jesus" originated with the Mace New Testament in 1729. For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his identity, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua?
the: Grk. ho, definite article. Shaliach: Grk. apostolos, one sent by another to represent him in some way; agent, envoy, messenger. The CJB and TLV have "emissary." In the LXX apostolos occurs one time where it translates Heb. shaluach, Qal pass. participle of the verb shalach (SH-7971), "sent," in 1Kings 14:6. First century Judaism recognized the office of shaliach, who acted as an agent, deputy, or messenger for someone with the full authority of the sender (Jastrow 1579). The Mishnah says, "the agent is as the one who sends him" (Ber. 5:5). This is the only verse in which Yeshua is identified with the Greek term apostolos. Yeshua was the preeminent shaliach. That is, Yeshua was sent by the Father as His agent with full authority to speak and act for Him (cf. John 3:34; 4:34; 5:30; Gal 4:4; 1Jn 4:10, 14).
and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. High Priest: Grk. archiereus (from archē, "chief, pre-eminent one" and hiereus, "a priest"), a high or chief priest, i.e., a leader among priests. In the LXX archiereus occurs only two times in the canonical books, but 41 times in the Apocrypha (DNTT 3:35). In Leviticus 4:3 archiereus renders Heb. Hakohen Hamaschiach, "the anointed priest" and inserted in Joshua 24:33 without Heb. equivalent to describe Aaron.
The office of high priest was established by God to be a descendant of Aaron (Ex 27:21; 30:30). The high priest was the chief executive officer over all the priests. The high priest also shared with the priests the duties of conducting the regular meal offering (Lev 6:14-15), caring for the lamp that burned continually (Ex 27:21) and arranging the showbread (Ex 25:30). More significantly the high priest carried the breastplate with the names of the tribes inscribed and acted as mediator between Israel and God (Ex 28:29). He alone could consult the Urim and Thummim before God, and according to his decision Israel must obey (Num 27:21).
Yeshua did not qualify to be a priest, much less a high priest, by virtue of being born into the tribe of Judah, even though his mother had a blood connection to the tribe of Levi and the house of Aaron (cf. Luke 1:5, 36). Paul mentioned in the previous chapter that Yeshua is a faithful and merciful high priest (2:17) and will go on to explain that the high priesthood of Yeshua is in the order of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4; Heb 5:6), a more significant order than that of Aaron. Bruce observes that possessing the two offices of apostle and high priest Yeshua is both God's representative among men and men's representative in the presence of God.
of our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. confession: Grk. ho homologia, the act of making a public declaration relating to belief or conviction; agreement, confession, profession. This noun is a favorite of Paul, occurring outside of this letter only in 2Corinthians 9:13 and 1Timothy 6:12-13. In the Corinthian letter homologia refers to the content of the good news to which believers had become obedient. In the letter to Timothy homologia is first Timothy's public testimony of faith in and faithfulness to Yeshua, and second Yeshua's testimony of his identity to Pontius Pilate. In context the confession would be comparable to the content of what the disciple believes as presented by Paul in 1Timothy 3:16.
"He who was revealed in the
The KJV and NKJV, based on the TR, inserts "Christ" before "Jesus." The TR reading has no support from the best New Testament Greek MSS. Ellicott observes that "it is impossible not to feel how fitly the personal name 'Jesus' is used after the later verses of Hebrews 2."
2 being faithful to the One having appointed him, just as also Moses in all of His house.
being: Grk. eimi, pres. part., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). faithful: Grk. pistos, adj., may mean (1) characterized by constancy and therefore worthy of trust; or (2) believing or trusting with commitment. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX pistos translates the participle of the Heb. verb aman (SH-539), made firm or sure, lasting (first in Num 12:7).
to the One: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as demonstrative pronoun as a reference to God. having appointed: Grk. poieō, aor. part. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here. just as: Grk. hōs, adv. with the primary function of connecting narrative components; used here to introduce a pattern or model; just as, just like, similar to. also: Grk. kai, conj.
Moses: Grk. Mōusēs transliterates Heb. Mosheh, born about 1525 BC. which is most likely derived from Egyptian mes meaning "child" or "son" (BDB 602), since the daughter of Pharaoh named him (Ex 2:10). She explained the chosen name by saying, "Because I drew [Heb. mashah, "to draw"] him out of the water." Moses was the great Hebrew leader, prophet and lawgiver of Israel. Stephen recounted the great events of Moses' life in his defense sermon (Acts 7:20-44). At Mount Sinai Moses served as God's spokesman to facilitate the beginning of the covenant relationship between God and Israel. Forty years later on the plains of Moab Moses renewed the covenant with Israel and made preparations for their entry into the promised land.
Moses was a heroic leader of the people and a devout man of God. Yet, due to an act of disobedience to God's instructions Moses was not permitted to enter the land of Canaan with the nation (Num 20:8-12). At the end of his life God allowed Moses to view the land from the top of Mt. Pisgah before his death and there he died at the age of 120. God buried him in the land of Moab (Deut 34:1-7). However, Moses' death was not the end of his importance or influence, because Scripture asserts that Moses compiled, wrote and/or edited the five books attributed to his name (Matt 22:24; Mark 12:19; Luke 16:29; 24:27, 44). Moses left Israel and the Body of Messiah with the rich legacy of God's Word. Moses was a giant of a man.
in: Grk. en, prep., generally used to mark position within, and may be translated "among, at, by, in, into, on, within." all: Grk. holos, adj., signifier of a thing understood as a complete unit and not necessarily every individual part; all, whole, entire. of His: Grk. autos. house: Grk. ho oikos, a structure for habitation; house, home and by extension the household of that dwelling. In the LXX oikos translates Heb. bayit (SH-1004) with the same range of meaning. Moses was of the tribe of Levi, being the son of Amram and his wife Jochebed, who was a close relative (Ex 6:20). Moses had two siblings, a brother, Aaron, and a sister, Miriam (Num 26:59). Moses had two wives, both non-Israelites, Zipporah, a Midianite (Ex 2:15-16, 21; 4:25; 18:2) and a Cushite woman (Num 12:1).
Paul affirms that Yeshua was faithful just as Moses was faithful. The description does not ignore the failures of Moses, but represents the character of his entire life. Never was Moses disloyal to God nor did he ever abandon God to worship an idol as his brother did (Ex 32:4) or challenge God's authority as his sister did (Num 12:1). There are many positive points of comparison and historical parallels between Yeshua and Moses. See my article Moses and Yeshua.
3 For he has been counted worthy of greater glory alongside of Moses, according to how much greater honor than the house, has the one having built it.
For: Grk. gar, conj. he: i.e., Yeshua. has been counted worthy: Grk. axioō, perf. pass., may mean (1) deem worthy of special recognition or consideration; or (2) arrive at a positive decision to proceed with an action on the basis of its merit. The first meaning is intended here. of greater: Grk. pleiōn, adj., the comparative form of polus ("much, many"), greater in quantity or quality, here the latter. glory: Grk. doxa literally means "what evokes good opinion, i.e. that something has inherent, intrinsic worth" (Thayer). In the LXX doxa translates Heb. kabôd (SH-3519), lit. "to be heavy;" abundance, honor, glory, first in Genesis 31:1. When used of men kabôd may refer to the dignity of position, reputation of character, or the honor and reverence owed by virtue of position.
The usage of kabôd for humans also applies to God, with the added aspect of the luminous manifestation of God's person, His glorious revelation of Himself (Ex 24:16-17). In the Besekh doxa is a continuation of the underlying Hebrew concept (DNTT 2:45). alongside of: Grk. para, prep., with the root meaning of beside (DM 108), para conveys association between persons, things, or circumstances, which may denote a motion terminating at rest, "alongside of, near to," when the following noun is in the accusative case, which is the case here. The preposition is used to present a comparison. Moses: See the previous verse. The first part of the verse may be an allusion to the experience of Moses whose face glowed so much from being in the presence of God that he had to wear a veil (Ex 34:29-35).
according to: Grk. kata, prep., expresses something associated with something else in terms of direction, position, or relation. With the noun following being in the accusative case the preposition denotes agreement or conformity and would mean "according to" (Thayer). how much: Grk. hosos, relative pronoun denoting a comparative equation; how much, how great, how many. greater: Grk. pleiōn, adj. honor: Grk. timē, high level of respect for special merit or quality; honor, esteem, regard, worth. than the house: Grk. ho oikos. See the previous verse. The noun is used in a figurative sense, perhaps meaning the "house of Moses" not meaning Moses himself but the priesthood he established according to divine instruction, the "house of Aaron."
has: Grk. echō, pres., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. the one: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having built: Grk. kataskeuazō, aor. part., may mean (1) arrange proper conditions; or (2) erect a structure. The second meaning applies here with a figurative meaning. it: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. See the previous verse.
4 For every house is built by someone, but the One having built all things is God.
Paul continues his argument with an observation of common experience. For: Grk. gar, conj. every: Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every, the whole. house: Grk. oikos. See verse 2 above. The noun is intended to refer to a physical structure. is built: Grk. kataskeuazō, pres. See the previous verse. by: Grk. hupo, prep. used to indicate a position that is relatively lower; below, under; and used here as a marker of agency or cause. The idea of agency literally means "under the authority of." someone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun used to indicate non-specification; a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. The pronoun is often used to distinguish an individual in a class or in contrast to others. This is an important affirmation of design. Houses do not build themselves.
but: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The first meaning applies here. the One: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun, substituting for the sacred name. having built: Grk. kataskeuazō, aor. part. all things: neut. pl. of Grk. pas. The plural pronoun substitutes for the heavens and the earth and all things therein (cf. Acts 17:24; Eph 3:9; Col 1:16; Heb 1:1; Rev 4:11; 5:13). This clause affirms that all the physical things created have a design, a definite structure.
is God: Grk. theos, God or god, as determined from the context. In the Besekh theos is used overwhelmingly for the God of Israel. In the LXX theos primarily renders the name of the Creator God Elohim (2568 times), but sometimes YHVH (300 times) (DNTT 2:67-70). Given the plural nature of Elohim the full triunity of God must be represented in theos. The only God in existence is the God who created the heavens and the earth out of nothing (Gen 1:1). Paul's assertion contains a second truth. Since the One having built all things is the Son (John 1:1-3; Col 1:13-16; Heb 1:2), then the Son must have the same attributes of deity as the Father and the Spirit.
5 And Moses indeed was faithful in all his house as a servant, for a witness of the things going to be spoken,
And: Grk. kai, conj. Moses: See verse 2 above. indeed: Grk. mén, a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. Many versions do not translate the particle. was faithful: Grk. pistos. See verse 2 above. in: Grk. en, prep. all: Grk. holos, adj. See verse 2 above. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The great majority of versions translate the pronoun as "God's" and some capitalize "His" to denote God. Some versions have the lower case "his" to make a closer connection to Moses, which is the more likely meaning as in verse 2 above. house: Grk. oikos. See verse 2 above. "House" could refer to the family of Moses, but more likely to the "house of Israel" as composed in the wilderness years (Ex 16:31; 40:38).
as: Grk. hōs, adv. See verse 2 above. a servant: Grk. therapōn, attendant, servant. The noun refers to a faithful friend to a superior; who solicitously regards the superior's interest or looks after his affairs, not a common or domestic servant (WSD). The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. In the LXX therapōn translates Heb. ebed (SH-5650), slave, servant, used of Moses (Ex 14:31; Num 11:11; 12:7-8; Deut 3:24; Josh 1:2; 8:31), Joshua (Ex 33:11) and Job (Job 1:8). The patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were also designated with this label (Deut 9:27). The use of therapōn in contrasting Moses to Yeshua is to emphasize that he is lower in rank to the master of the household (Bruce).
Even so, in Israelite culture it was considered a high honor for a person to be called a servant of ADONAI. Many Israelite leaders and the Hebrew prophets bore this title, but the most frequent usage of the title is in relation to Moses. In this capacity Moses was at times a high priest, a judge, a legislator and a spiritual shepherd. In his earthly ministry Yeshua was the preeminent servant of the Lord (Php 2:7). And, Paul considered himself a servant of the Messiah (Rom 1:1; 1Cor 3:5; 2Cor 6:4; Gal 1:10; Php 1:1; Titus 1:1).
for: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to direction and limit, lit. "into," here denoting purpose (=for this very thing). a witness: Grk. marturion, that which serves to corroborate or attest, a testimony or witness. In the LXX marturion translates four Hebrew words: (1) Heb. edah (SH-5713), testimony or witness (Gen 21:30); (2) Heb. ed (SH-5707), witness (Gen 31:44); (3) Heb. eduth (SH-5715), testimony (Ex 16:34); and (4) Heb. moed (SH-4150), appointed time, place, or meeting (Num 9:15). Moses was called to be not just a deliverer, but a prophet to proclaim the words of God. of the things: neut.-pl. of Grk. ho, definite article. going to be spoken: Grk. laleō, fut. pass. part., to make an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter.
In the LXX laleō translates Heb. dabar (SH-1696), to speak, often used of verbal communication from God, first in Genesis 12:4. As a historical reflection the clause suggests that when Moses first accepted the role of servant, he could not have anticipated that God would later reveal to him the coming of a prophet like him, an Anointed One who would succeed him as the preeminent leader of Israel (Deut 18:15-19). At the time Moses could not have understood the full significance of the revelation, but as a faithful servant and witness he repeated exactly what he heard from God and admonished Israel to listen to that future leader. As Yeshua told the Judean leaders, "if you believed Moses, you would have believed me; for he wrote about me" (John 5:46 BR).
6 but Messiah, as the Son, was faithful over His house, whose house we are, if we should hold our confidence and the boasting of hope.
but: Grk. de, conj. Messiah: Grk. Christos (from chriō, "anoint with olive oil"), the expected fulfiller of the promises given to Israel for a deliverer and Davidic King, the Messiah. The English "Christ" found in Christian versions transliterates the Greek title, but does not translate it. Jewish translators of the LXX chose Christos to render Heb. Mashiach (SH-4899), "Anointed One," and in so doing infused new meaning into the Greek word. Mashiach is used in the Tanakh for the Messiah (Ps 2:2; Dan 9:25-26) and this usage defined the term among Jews in the first century. Jews expected that the Messiah would reign over the kingdom of God in fulfillment of the promise made to David (2Sam 7:12-13). For a discussion of Jewish hope and expectation of the Messiah see my article The Messiah.
as: Grk. hōs, adv. the Son: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben (SH-1121, "son," "son of"), which is normally used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity; (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor; or (3) in a broader sense of having the characteristics of. However, Paul uses "Son" to mean the Son of God with the seven-fold characteristics of deity set forth in the introduction to this letter (1:2-4). Unbelieving Jews typically object to the concept of God having a divine son and can rightly claim that before the advent of Christianity "Son of God' had a very human meaning. Adam was the first son of God (Luke 3:38). Then God declared that the nation of Israel was His son (Ex 4:22).
For Jews during the first century "son of God" was used as a title for a human descendant of King David, the Messiah, who would establish the promised Kingdom (Ps 2:6-7, 11-12). "Son of God" was a title of the Davidic king inasmuch as the king functioned as God's regent on earth and was vested with God's authority. This meaning is illustrated by Nathanael (John 1:49) and Martha (John 11:27) who called Yeshua "Son of God." Yet, there are verses in the Tanakh that mention God having a unique Son in a very personal sense (Prov 30:4; Isa 9:6).
was faithful: The description is implied from the previous verse. over: Grk. epi, prep. His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. house: Grk. ho oikos. See verse 2 above. whose: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. house: Grk. oikos. we: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. The plural pronoun includes Paul and his fellow Messianic Jews. are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. Paul elsewhere likens the followers of Yeshua in a corporate sense to a house of God or temple (1Cor 3:17; 2Cor 6:16; Eph 2:21).
if: Grk. ean, conj., a future-oriented particle that implies a condition which experience must determine, an objective possibility (WSD). Here the conjunction establishes that followers of Yeshua can only claim to be "his house" based on the following action. we should hold: Grk. katechō, aor. subj., 1p-pl., to hold fast, to hold down. our confidence: Grk. ho parrēsia, freedom, openness, especially in speech. The noun has a focus here on assurance in a relationship that presupposes communication; boldness, confidence. This is a quality of "cheerful courage" (Thayer) that can face adversity and still be assured of fellowship with God and ultimate salvation. Parrēsia is possible as the result of guilt having been removed by the blood of Yeshua (Heb 10:17-19; WSD).
and: Grk. kai, conj. the boasting: Grk. ho kauchēma, a basis or ground for pride, boasting, glorying, or exultation. The noun occurs 11 times in the Besekh and all the other uses are found in Paul's writings. In the LXX kauchēma translates Heb tehillah (SH-8416), praise, song of praise, first in Deuteronomy 10:21. While boasting is often viewed in a negative light in Scripture (Ps 5:5; Prov 25:14; 27:1), boasting about God or praising Him is viewed as good and encouraged (Ps 5:11; 34:2; 89:17). Paul had laid down the principle that we should only "boast in the Lord" (1Cor 1:31; 2Cor 10:17). That is, we give God the credit for everything good in our lives and for all the benefits and blessings that have accrued to us by virtue of redemption.
of hope: Grk. ho elpis may refer to (1) looking forward to something that is desirable, or (2) the basis of firm expectation. The second usage applies here. In the LXX elpis translates several different words with the meaning to hope (DNTT 2:239). The "boasting of hope" is idiomatic for affirming the blessed hope in which we glory (Titus 2:13).
After "hope" the Textus Receptus along with some notable MSS adds "firm until the end." The additional phrase is found in a number of versions (ASV, DARBY, DRA, EHV, KJV, NASB, NKJV, NLV, NMB, PHILLIPS, TLB). The phrase is not found in the earliest MSS, p13 (3rd c.), p46 (c. 200) and Vaticanus (4th c.). Metzger suggests the phrase was borrowed from verse 14 below (595).
Second Warning, 3:7-11
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, "Today, if you would hear His voice,
Source: Psalm 95:7; LXX Psalm 94:7.
Paul now contrasts the faithfulness of Moses with the unfaithfulness of the Israelites whom he led out of Egypt. Bruce notes that this moral typology occurs elsewhere in the Besekh. Paul tells the Corinthians that Israel's rebellion and punishment in the wilderness have been preserved for our instruction so that we may avoid the same error (1Cor 10:6-11). Yeshua's half brother Judah reminds his Messianic Jewish readers, "the Lord, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed the ones not having been faithful" (Jude 1:5 BR). After this fashion Paul based his exhortation on an appeal in the Psalter.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj as: Grk. kathōs, adv. emphasizing similarity, conformity, proportion or manner; as, just as. The adverb stresses speaking as an authoritative activity. the Holy: Grk. ho hagios, adj., has two distinctive uses in Scripture: (1) as an adj., meaning set apart for dedication to the interests or expectations of deity; and (2) as a pure substantive to refer to that which has been set apart (BAG). The term is used of sacred things, places, people, angels and God. In the LXX hagios translates Heb. qadosh (SH-6918), which means separate, sacred, holy. Qadosh is first used of God in Leviticus 11:44.
Spirit: Grk. ho pneuma (for Heb. ruach, Resh-Vav-Chet), wind, breath or spirit. Pneuma is used for the human spirit and transcendent beings (Matt 8:16; Heb 1:14), particularly the Spirit as God's self-expression (Gen 1:2; Mark 1:10). In Scripture "holy" is only used as an adjective of "spirit" to refer to the Holy Spirit. "Holy Spirit" is not the title of a separate being, because God is Spirit (John 4:24). The specific name "Holy Spirit" occurs only three times in the Tanakh (Ps 51:11; Isa 63:10, 11) given as Ruach Qodesh. Luke applies Hebrew grammatical form to the Greek text writing the words from right to left as in Hebrew (To Hagion To Pneuma).
says: Grk. legō, pres., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form; say, tell, declare. In the LXX legō renders Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, command or think. As used here the verb emphasizes divine verbal inspiration of the Scripture about to be quoted and the present tense emphasizes that the Spirit continues to speak through Scripture. Paul then quotes from Psalm 95:7. Psalm 95, placed as the first psalm in Hymn Collection I (Pss 95–100) is a call and guide to worship. The Hebrew form of the psalm is anonymous and without superscription, but the LXX assigns David as the author.
The abrupt change in tone in verse 7 has historically puzzled Bible scholars, but most today view the psalm as a unity, probably composed for the celebration of Sukkot (Kidner 375). Moses had decreed that the words of the Torah must be read to the congregation in every Sabbatical year at Sukkot as a covenant renewal (Deut 31:10-13). The prophetic section of Psalm 95:7-11 is a powerful reminder of what happened when Israel failed to obey God's instruction. When Yeshua attended a Sukkot celebration he pointed out the guilt of Judean leaders who did not live by Torah expectations (John 7:19).
Today: Grk. sēmeron (for Heb. ha-yom), today, this day, now. The noun occurs 8 times in Hebrews, three in this chapter. The noun is employed to stress urgency of appeal. The admonition is reminiscent of the use of "today" in the Torah (Deut 4:40; 5:3; 6:6; 7:11; 9:3; 11:2; etc.). if: Grk. ean, conj. See the previous verse. The conjunction introduces another conditional statement requiring a choice. you would hear: Grk. akouō, aor. subj., to hear aurally or listen, often with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said. In the LXX akouō translates Heb. shama (SH-8085), which not only means to hear, but also to accept and to act upon what has been heard (DNTT 2:173). Hearing the word of God is a prime act of worship and tantamount to kneeling in submission to the divine will (Ps 95:6).
His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; referring to ADONAI (Heb. YHVH) in verse 6. voice: Grk. phōnē can mean (1) an auditory impression, sound, noise defined in the context; (2) the faculty of producing speech, voice; or (3) a system of communication, language (1Cor 14:10; 2Pet 2:16). The word often is used in the Besekh of articulated sound from a human mouth. In the LXX phōnē generally renders Heb. qôl (SH-6963; BDB 876), sound or voice, the first usage of which is God's voice (Gen 3:8), and second the human voice (Gen 3:17), and these usages occur frequently in the Tanakh with various kinds of expression (DNTT 3:113).
The phrase "His voice" alludes to the biblical reality that throughout the Tanakh YHVH is the One who speaks for Elohim. Only twice in the Tanakh does the Holy Spirit speak to someone (Ezek 3:24; 11:5) and even there the Spirit spoke in the name of YHVH. Paul does not imply hearing an audible voice, but that this quoted passage is ADONAI speaking.
8 do not harden your hearts as in the provocation, according to the day of testing in the wilderness,
Source: Psalm 95:8; LXX Psalm 94:8.
do not: Grk. mē, adv., a particle of qualified negation that rules out any implications ("suggestions") that could be involved with what should (could, would) apply (HELPS). harden: Grk. sklērunō, pres. subj., to harden; become inflexible; obstinately stubborn, resisting what God says is right (HELPS). In the LXX sklērunō translates the Heb. chazaq, which means to be or grow firm, be strong (SH-2388; BDB 304), first in Exodus 4:21. The verb is used repeatedly in the Exodus narrative of Pharaoh's heart being hardened, first by himself (Ex 8:15, 32; 9:34) and then by ADONAI (Ex 9:12; 10:20, 27; 11:10; 14:8). "Hardening" meant that Pharaoh stiffened his resistance to complying with God's expressed will, which God knew he would do.
your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. hearts: pl. of Grk. kardia, the pumplike organ of blood circulation, used fig. of selfhood or the combination of character, emotion, intelligence and the will. In the LXX kardia translates the Heb. nouns leb (SH-3820) and lebab (SH-3824), inner man, mind, heart, will (BDB 523f), first in Genesis 6:5 (DNTT 2:181). In the Tanakh "hardening the heart" is a characteristic of the enemies of Israel (Deut 2:30; Josh 11:20; 1Sam 6:6). The idiom is rarely used of an Israelite, but it is contained in this warning in Psalm 95:8. However, hardening the heart is synonymous with "stiffening the neck," figurative of obstinacy, which is used of Israelites (2Kgs 17:14; 2Chr 30:8; 36:13; Jer 7:26; 17:23; 19:15).
as: Grk. hōs, adv. in: Grk. en, prep. the: Grk. ho, definite article. provocation: Grk. parapikrasmos, embitterment, with a connotation of rebellion as incitement to divine wrath; provocation. The noun occurs only in Hebrews (also verse 15 below). The LXX substitutes parapikrasmos in Psalm 95:8 for the location name Heb. Meribah (SH-4808), which means strife or contention. The actual name of the place in the Wilderness of Sin ("Seen") was Rephidim, but Moses renamed the place Meribah because there the Israelites grumbled over the lack of water (Ex 17:2-3). On that occasion Moses struck the rock at God's instruction to supply water (Ex 17:5-6).
according to: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 3 above. the: Grk. ho. day: Grk. hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, or (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, but here the noun has a figurative meaning as a time period in which an event occurred. of testing: Grk. ho peirasmos may mean either (1) a means to determine quality or performance, test or trial; or (2) exposure to possibility of wrongdoing, temptation. The first meaning applies here. Since the action of testing was directed at God ("judging God"), it was tantamount to rebellion. In the LXX of this verse peirasmos translates Heb. massah (SH-4531), test, trial, or proving. Moses gave the name "Massah" to Rephidim as a parallel synonym of Meribah (Ex 17:7).
in: Grk. en. the wilderness: Grk. ho erēmos, unpopulated region, desert or lonely place. In the LXX erēmos often renders Heb. midbar (SH-4057), which refers to tracts of land used for pasturage or uninhabited land (BDB 484), first in Genesis 14:6. The term as used here alludes to the territory of the Sinai peninsula. The translation of "desert" in a number of versions is misleading, if not inaccurate, because the territory had sufficient vegetation to sustain the flocks of the Israelites (Ex 3:1; 12:38). This incident of testing God at Meribah/Massah is remembered three more times in the Torah (Deut 6:16; 9:22; 33:8), marking it as an example of egregious unbelief and unfaithfulness.
Source: Psalm 95:9; LXX Psalm 94:9.
where: Grk. hou, adv. your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. fathers: pl. of Grk. patēr, normally used of a male biological parent or ancestor, as well as frequently in reference to God. In the LXX patēr renders ab ("av"), which generally occurs in the human sense, but also of God as father in relation to Israel (Ex 4:22) (DNTT 1:616f). The use of "fathers" emphasizes the direct line of descent from the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), but more specifically the twelve tribes that came from Jacob. tested Me: Grk. peirazō, aor., 3p-pl., may mean to tempt or test and in this context means to test God's justice and patience in a manner that amounts to defiance. In the LXX of this verse peirazō translates Heb. nasah (SH-5254), to test or try, which is used four times in the Torah for testing God (Ex 17:2, 7; Num 14:22; Deut 6:16).
by: Grk. en, prep. a trial: Grk. dokimē, can denote process, "testing, trial" or outcome, "approval." The former applies here. In the LXX of this verse dokimē translates the Heb. verb bachan (SH-974), to examine or try. The Hebrew verb is generally used of God testing persons, but is used twice of individuals testing or tempting God (also Mal 3:10, 15). Indeed God says in the Torah that Israel tested (Heb. nasah) Him ten times (Num 14:22). The Sages understood the ten tests to include incidents before and after the crossing of the Red Sea.
"It was taught: R. Judah said, With ten trials did our forefathers try the Holy One, blessed be He: two at the sea, two because of water, two because of manna, two because of the quails, one in connection with the golden calf, and one in the wilderness of Paran." (Arachin 15a)
The fact that the psalmist specifies the testing in the wilderness, does not exclude the wilderness of eastern Egypt (Ex 14:3). The ten incidents in which Israelites tested God may be identified as,
● Grumbling before crossing the Red Sea (Ex 14:10-12; Ps 106:7).
● Grumbling at Marah (Massah) about lack of potable water (Ex 15:23-24; Deut 6:16; 9:22; Ps 95:8).
● Grumbling in the Wilderness of Sin about lack of meat (Ex 16:2-3).
● Disobeying instruction not to leave manna for the next day (Ex 16:19-20).
● Disobeying instruction not to go out on the Sabbath to gather manna (Ex 16:27-30).
● Grumbling at Rephidim about lack of water (Ex 17:1-4).
● Idolatry with the golden calf (Ex 32:1-10; Ps 106:19-20).
● Complaining at Taberah because of adversity (Num 11:1-3; Deut 9:22).
● Grumbling by the mixed multitude and Israelites at Kibroth-hattaavah about lack of meat and subsistence on manna (Num 11:4-9, 13, 34; Deut 9:22; Ps 106:11-15).
● Grumbling at Kadesh in the Wilderness of Paran after hearing the negative report of the spies (Num 14:1-4; Ps 106:24-26).
After the grumbling over the report of the ten spies, God pronounced judgment and declared that the grumblers would not enter the land of Canaan (Num 14:29-30). Yet, Israelites continued to grumble and rebel against God and Moses.
● Attempting an invasion of Canaan contrary to the will of God (Num 14:40-45).
● Korah's rebellion against the authority of Moses (Num 16:1-35; Ps 106:16-18).
● Grumbling after Korah's death (Num 16:41-49).
● Grumbling at Kadesh about lack of water and tasty food (Num 20:1-5; Ps 106:32).
● Grumbling en route to Edom about food and water (Num 21:4-9).
● "Playing the harlot" with Moab at Baal-Peor and bowing down to their gods (Num 25:1-5; Ps 106:28-29).
and: Grk. kai, conj. saw: Grk. horaō (for Heb. ra'ah, "to see"), aor., 3p-pl., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience something or to have extraordinary mental perception. my: Grk. egō, first person pronoun; i.e., ADONAI (Heb. YHVH). works: pl. of Grk. ergon generally means a tangible deed, action or accomplishment that may be observed, whether of men or God. In the LXX of this verse ergon translates Heb. poal (SH-6467), doing, deed or work. The Hebrew noun is actually singular in number, but has a collective focus. God's works on behalf of Israel for the forty years in the wilderness include supplying manna (Ex 16:35), insuring there was no lack of necessities (Deut 2:7), preventing clothing from wearing out and feet from swelling (Deut 29:5).
for forty: Grk. tessarakonta, the number forty. years: pl. of Grk. etos, a period of twelve months. The time reference actually begins the next verse in the Hebrew and LXX text, but Paul decided change the verse division. We should remember that while the words of Scripture are inspired, verse and chapter divisions are not. Chapter and verse divisions are purely arbitrary, since the original Greek MSS had neither. Chapter divisions were introduced by Stephen Langton in 1227 and verse divisions were inserted by Robert Estienne in the 1551 edition of his Greek text (Textus Receptus).
Bruce speculates that the mention of 40 years represents a cautionary warning to the Messianic Jews who received this letter. The destruction of the temple in Jerusalem occurred 40 years after Yeshua prophesied its occurrence (Matt 24:2; Luke 21:20; cf. Yoma 39b). Hebrews was likely the next to last letter Paul wrote, being written between AD 62 and 68 when he was martyred. Paul could recognize the signs of the times and the spiritual condition of the Jewish people weighed heavily on his heart (cf. Rom 9:1-4).
10 Therefore "I was disgusted with that generation, and said, 'Always they go astray in their heart; moreover they have not known my ways.'"
Source: Psalm 95:10; LXX Psalm 94:10.
Therefore: Grk. dio (from dia, "through," and hos, "which"), inferential conj., therefore, for this reason, on account of which, wherefore. The conjunction is Paul's addition since it is not found in the LXX or the Hebrew text. Paul follows the conjunction with the declaration of ADONAI. I was disgusted with: Grk. prosochthizō, aor., of profound inner reaction against provocative behavior; be angered at/with, be disgusted. The verb occurs only twice in the Besekh (also verse 17 below). In the LXX of this verse prosochthizō translates Heb. qut (SH-6962), to feel a loathing (BDB 876). that: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. The LXX actually has the demonstrative pronoun ekeinos ("that one"). The Hebrew text does not have a pronoun here.
generation: Grk. genea means family or descent and can mean a clan, race, kind, or nation. The noun can refer to an age, a span of generations or mean all the people alive at a given time in the past or in the present. Here the noun alludes to the adult population that came out of Egypt. and: Grk. kai, conj. said: Grk. epō, aor., to speak or say by word or in writing something to someone (WSD). Always: Grk. aei, adv. with focus on regularity; always, unceasingly, perpetually, on every occasion. The Hebrew text does not have the adverb, but the LXX adds it. The use of the adverb might seem hyperbole, but in the context of wilderness narrative of Exodus–Deuteronomy it is no exaggeration.
they go astray: Grk. planaō, pres. mid., may mean (1) in the active voice to cause to go astray, in the sense of leading one from a standard of truth or conduct, mislead, deceive; or (2) in the passive voice of a physical departure from a customary course, stray or wander about; or (3) in a metaphoric extension of the idea of physical departure, go astray, be mistaken. The third meaning applies here. in their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. heart: Grk. ho kardia. See verse 8 above. Though singular in number the noun has a collective meaning. moreover: Grk. de, conj. See verse 4 above. The conjunction continues the thought with emphasis.
they have not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. known: Grk. ginōskō, aor., 3p-pl., to know, including (1) to be in receipt of information; know, learn, find out; (2) form a judgment or draw a conclusion; think, understand, comprehend, perceive, notice, realize, conclude; or (3) have a personal relationship involving recognition of another's identity or value; make acquaintance, recognize. The third meaning applies there. In the LXX ginōskō renders Heb. yada, which has a similar wide range of meaning, but in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether of knowing persons or knowing by experience, as well as knowing by learning from a teacher (DNTT 2:395). The Israelites had the "head knowledge" from being informed of the commandments, but lacked the "heart knowledge" of a willingness to obey.
my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. ways: pl. of Grk. ho hodos, with the focus on the concept of going the word typically has the sense of a route for traveling, hence a way, a road or a highway. It can also refer to the act of traveling; journey, way, trip. Then, hodos is used fig. of conduct or a manner of life (cf. 1Cor 12:31; Jas 1:8). In the LXX hodos occurs frequently and is used to render 18 Hebrew equivalents, but mostly Heb. derek (SH-1070), a way, road, or journey (Ps 1:6) (DNTT 3:937). The plural form "ways of God" refer to the commandments, statutes and laws revealed from the beginning that set forth the standards for living in a manner that pleases God (cf. Job 23:12; Gen 18:19; 26:5; Ex 18:20).
The ways of God may also be summarized by the two great commandments to love God and to love neighbor. The Israelites knew God's expectations in that they knew about the divine commandments that had existed since creation. Then God's commandments were repeated and expanded at Sinai. But, the Israelites did not internalize or embrace God ways as a personal lifestyle. That is why the promise of the New Covenant is that God would write His laws on the hearts of His people (Jer 31:33).
11 "As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter into my resting place.'"
Source: Psalm 95:11; LXX Psalm 94:11.
The declaration of ADONAI continues. As: Grk. hōs, adv. See verse 2 above. I swore: Grk. omnuō, aor., to take an oath affirming the veracity of what one says; swear. In the LXX of this verse omnuō translates Heb. shaba (SH-7650), to take an oath, swear (BDB 989). God did swear on important occasions. "'I have sworn by myself,' says ADONAI" (Gen 22:16 BR). God swore to give the land of Canaan to the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Gen 24:7; 26:3; Ex 6:8; 33:1; Deut 1:8; 6:10). God swore to multiply the seed of Abraham as the stars and the sand (Ex 32:13). God swore a perpetual covenant with Israel (Deut 4:31). God swore to establish his people as a holy people (Deut 28:9). Unlike man the oaths of God contain the certainty of fulfillment.
in: Grk. en, prep. my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. wrath: Grk. orgē means anger, indignation or wrath. In the Besekh orgē is used of human anger (Eph 4:31; 1Tim 2:8; Jas 1:19-20), but primarily divine wrath at the end of the age (Matt 3:7; Rom 2:5; Eph 2:3; 1Th 1:10; Heb 3:11; Rev 6:16). Orgē depicts a settled anger that proceeds from an internal disposition which steadfastly opposes someone or something based on extended personal exposure, i.e. solidifying what the beholder considers wrong, unjust or evil (HELPS). In the LXX orgē is used to translate eight different Hebrew words for anger (DNTT 1:108). In this verse of the LXX orgē translates Heb. aph (SH-639), nostril, nose, face, anger (BDB 60). The anatomical term is used for anger because of the change in facial features that occurs from the emotion of anger.
They will not: Grk. ei, conj. enter: Grk. eiserchomai, fut. mid., 3p-pl., to go or enter into a geographical area, manufactured structure or other place defined in the context. into: Grk. eis, prep. my: Grk. egō. resting place: Grk. katapausis, ceasing from labor, the state or condition of rest, or the place of rest. The concept of rest is an important theme in Hebrews with the noun occurring twice in the chapter and six times in the next chapter. In the LXX katapausis translates six different Hebrew nouns that mean cease from work, rest, resting place or settling in a place (DNTT 3:255f). In the LXX of this verse katapausis translates Heb. menuchah (SH-4496), resting place, rest, quietness (BDB 629). In the Tanakh menuachah is used of a resting place (Gen 49:15; Num10:33; Deut 12:9; 1Kgs 8:56; Ps 132:14; Isa 66:1).
We should note that the rest or resting place of which the psalmist and Paul speak here is not the creation rest of God (Gen 2:2), which is the basis for the Sabbath rest. The concept of menuachah as a resting place is almost always associated with land, a pleasant land, especially the inheritance of the promised land (Deut 12:9; Ps 132:14). The resting place represents the fulfillment of God's promise of security and rest from enemies (1Kgs 8:56). Thus, Rashi says the resting place refers to the land of Israel and Jerusalem. God dwells in the midst of the resting place so that one may enjoy a close relationship with Him.
The psalmist warned the Judean leaders of his day that just as God denied the inheritance to those who rebelled against Him in the wilderness, the same consequence could occur to his contemporary generation. Christian interpreters typically view the final resting place of God's people as heaven. Barnes makes the obvious application to the Israelites: "No one can doubt, also, that their conduct had been such as to show that the great body of them were unfit to enter into heaven." Jews did not speak of heaven but the world to come or the age to come when the Messiah will rule. The Pharisee Sages affirmed, "All Israel has a portion in the world to come" (Sanhedrin 11:1), but then immediately identified Israelites who have no place in the world to come.
Included in the extensive list of people excluded the Sages declared "The generation of the wilderness have no share in the future world and will not stand in the last judgment. As it is written, 'in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die'" (Sanhedrin 11:2). This was the view of Rabbi Akiba (AD 50–135), the father of Rabbinic Judaism. Fruchtenbaum takes a different view. He contends that the divine judgment was only physical, not spiritual. That is, God had decreed that the rebellious Israelites would perish in the wilderness and not live to see the promised land. In addition, he says, "Numbers 14:20 does say that the people repented; it even goes on to say that God forgave the sin."
Actually, his comment misrepresents the narrative of Numbers 14. Verse 20 only says that God pardoned the Israelites based on the intercession of Moses. There had been no repentance. Only after Moses declared the consequences of rebellion (Num 14:28-35) did the people mourn and admit that they had sinned (Num 14:39-40). The people then proceeded to disobey God again by attempting an invasion of Canaan (14:40-45). The example of Moses who had to die outside the land is used by Fruchtenbaum to reinforce the interpretation that the judgment was physical and not spiritual. After all, Moses appeared with Yeshua on the Mount of Transfiguration.
However, Moses was punished for one specific sin, whereas the Israelite generation was punished for repeatedly rebelling against God, as illustrated in verse 9 above. Paul will warn his readers of the spiritual consequences of such repetitive sinning in Chapter 10. Psalm 95 serves as a strong rebuttal to those who believe they can keep on sinning with impunity (cf. Ezek 18:4, 20, 24).
Peril of Disobedience, 3:12-19
12 Watch out, brothers, lest there will be in any of you an evil heart of unfaithfulness, in departing from the living God.
Watch out: Grk. blepō, pres. imp., 2p-pl., to look out or see, here with the focus on spiritual circumspection (cf. 1Kgs 8:61). brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos, voc. See verse 1 above. Paul emphasizes his filial kinship with his readers. lest: Grk. mēpote, conj., a marker cautiously expressing possibility and indicating a circumstance or attitude designed to counteract a consequence ordinarily considered undesirable; so that, lest. there will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. See verse 2 above. in: Grk. en, prep. any: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 4 above. of you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person.
an evil: Grk. ponēros, adj., may mean (1) deviation from an acceptable moral or social standard, (2) low in quality, bad, poor, or (3) in deteriorated or undesirable state or condition, of physical circumstances. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX ponēros renders Heb. ra (SH-7451), which can mean (1) ethically evil, bad, disagreeable or unpleasant, (2) distress, misery, injury, or calamity (BDB 949; DNTT 1:565). In the Tanakh ra is often used to describe that which is ethically evil, whether persons, thoughts or conduct (Deut 1:35; 4:25). heart: Grk. kardia. See verse 8 above. The description of an evil heart occurs in a number of passages in the Tanakh, especially in Jeremiah (3:17; 7:24; 11:8; 16:12; 18:12).
of unfaithfulness: Grk. apistia (the negated form of pistos, "faithful"), lack of willingness to respond positively to words or actions that invite belief or commitment; unbelief, unfaithfulness, or distrust. The great majority of versions translate the noun as "unbelief" or "unbelieving." The noun does not describe changing from being a monotheist to being an atheist. Bruce observes that apistia involved disloyalty as well as the passive failure to trust. He then notes that the phrase kardia ponēra apistias bears a verbal resemblance to the rabbinical doctrine of the yetzer ra, the evil inclination. A source passage for this viewpoint is 2Esdras 3:20-22; 4:30; 7:92, which traces the beginning of the "evil heart" with Adam.
The Pharisee Sages believed that Man was created with two impulses or inclinations, a deduction drawn from Genesis 2:7, which states that God formed (vayyitzer) man. The spelling of this Hebrew verb is unusual: it uses two consecutive Yods instead of the one that would be expected. The Sages inferred that these Yods stand for the word "yetzer," which means impulse, and the existence of two Yods here indicates that humanity was formed with two impulses: a good impulse (the yetzer tov) and an bad impulse (the yetzer ra) (Berachot 61a).
The yetzer tov is the moral conscience, the inner voice that reminds a person of God's law when tempted to do something that is forbidden. So the yetzer tov is really the inclination to please God. In the beginning the yetzer ra was not a desire to do evil. Rather, it was the inclination to please oneself, to satisfy personal needs (food, shelter, sex, etc.). The yetzer ra is not viewed as a bad thing. It was created by God, and all things created by God are good (Gen 1:31). Without the yetzer ra (the desire to satisfy personal needs), man would not build a house, marry a wife, beget children or conduct business affairs (Genesis Rabbah 9:9).
At its worst the yetzer ra can lead to wrongdoing when it is not controlled by the yetzer tov. The term yetzer ra appears first in Scripture as a description of the antediluvian generation (Gen 6:5; 8:21). They had an inclination to wickedness. The yetzer ra is generally seen as something internal to a person, not as an external force acting on a person. The idea that "the devil made me do it" (cf. Gen 3:13) is not in line with the majority of thought in Judaism. People have the ability to choose which impulse to follow: the yetzer tov or the yetzer ra. That is the heart of the Jewish understanding of free will. Paul next warns of the result of developing "an evil heart of unfaithfulness."
in: Grk. en. The preposition introduces the consequence of unfaithfulness. departing: Grk. aphistēmi, aor. inf., may mean (1) cause to move from a reference point; or (2) withdraw oneself from a person or thing. The second meaning applies here. The infinitive depicts a result. from: Gk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of separation, from, away from. the living: Grk. zaō, pres. part., be in the state of being alive; living. God: Grk. theos. See verse 4 above. The "living God" is a term that occurs in the Tanakh for the God of Israel in contrast with the deities and idols of other nations that have no actual life (e.g., Isa 37:4, 17; 40:18-26; 45:20; Jer 10:10; 23:36). The "living God" is a favorite expression of Paul (Acts 14:15; Rom 9:26; 2Cor 3:3; 6:16; 1Tim 3:5; 4:10), occurring four times in this letter (also 9:14; 10:31; 12:22).
Paul presents a conundrum. Christians normally use "brother" in a spiritual sense of someone who shares the same faith in Yeshua. So, how can a brother who knows Yeshua develop an evil heart of unfaithfulness? The truth is that many professing Christians develop anger and bitterness toward God and turn away from Him as a result of a personal tragedy that they believe God should have prevented or remedied. More to the point, Paul could have named a few men who had been disciples and then fell away, e.g., the man guilty of incest in Corinth (1Cor 5:1-5, 13), and Hymenaeus and Alexander in Ephesus (1Tim 1:20; 6:21).
13 But exhort yourselves according to each day, while this is called "Today," so that not one of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of Sin.
But: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. exhort: Grk. parakaleō, pres. mid., 2p-pl., (from para, "beside," and kaleō, "to call"), may mean (1) call to be at one's side; (2) hearten in time of trouble; or (3) encourage performance; urge, exhort, encourage. The third meaning applies here. In the LXX parakaleō is chiefly used for Heb. nacham (SH-5152), be moved to pity, console, comfort, have compassion, first in Genesis 24:67. The imperative mood expects compliance with the instruction. The present tense could represent either continuing a current behavior or starting the desired behavior.
yourselves: pl. of Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun of the third person; himself, herself. The plural would be "yourselves," but many versions translate the pronoun as "one another." The pronoun perhaps envisions the meeting of the congregation. according: Grk. kata, prep., lit. "according to." See verse 3 above. Many versions don't translate the preposition, but since it introduces a time reference then Thayer says "during" is appropriate. each: Grk. hekastos, adj., in reference to an individual person or thing; each, every, every one. day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 8 above. Paul is not enacting a rule for something that every disciple must do every day or be accused of sin for failure to perform it. Rather, "according to each day" is idiomatic for "as the need arises and is appropriate in the circumstances" (cf. Gal 6:10; Col 4:5).
while: Grk. achri, adv., a function word signifying an interval between two points with focus on continuity, here of an extension in time; as far as, until, while. this: Grk. hos, relative pronoun but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. Bible versions omit translating the pronoun. The pronoun probably alludes to the present age. is called: Grk. kaleō, pres. pass., to call, and used here to mean to give a name or nickname to. Today: Grk. ho sēmeron. See verse 7 above. Paul points out the obvious. The past is behind us and the future is before us, and we are always living in "Today." The time reference may hint at applying the forty years in verse 9 above to the present circumstances.
so that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed, in order that, so that, that. not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 10 above. one: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 4 above. of you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. may be hardened: Grk. sklērunō, aor. pass. subj., cause to be unyielding. In the LXX sklērunō translates the Heb. chazaq, which means to be or grow firm, be strong (BDB 304). by the deceitfulness: Grk. apatē, deception in quality or instance motivated by guile and treachery; deception, deceitfulness, delusion, trick, fraud or sham.
of Sin: Grk. ho hamartia may refer to (1) a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness; (2) the result of sinning or the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. Hamartia is the dominant word for sin in the Besekh. In Greek culture hamartia meant to miss the mark, to fail, be mistaken. A mistake is the result of ignorance. Hamartia could mean anything from stupidity to law-breaking, anything that does not conform to the dominant community ethic (DNTT 3:577).
In the LXX hamartia translates a range of Hebrew words for guilt and sin, particularly Heb. chata (SH-2398), miss, go wrong, lapse, sin (Gen 20:6; 39:9) and avon (SH-5771), iniquity, guilt, punishment for iniquity (Gen 15:16). Throughout Scripture sin as a behavior is a violation of God's written commandments (Rom 3:20; 5:13; 7:7). The degree of intentionality is not a factor in defining sinful behavior, only whether the express requirements or prohibitions of Torah commandments have been violated.
Here Paul is probably using hamartia with Danker's third meaning so that "the deceitfulness of Sin" represents the disciples' chief adversary. Paul frequently personifies hamartia in Romans (5:12; 6:2, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 20, 22; 7:11, 17, 25; 8:2, 10). A personification is the attribution of human characteristics to a thing or abstraction. Personifications are common in Hebraic-Jewish literature. For example:
"Raba observed, First he [i.e., evil inclination] is called a passer-by, then he is called a guest, and finally he is called a man [i.e., occupier of the house]." (Sukkah 52b)
The first personification in Scripture is of sin when God says to Cain, "sin [chata, a feminine noun] is crouching at the door; and its [her] desire is for you, but you must master it" (Gen 4:7). Sin is a beguiling temptress who seeks to lure the unsuspecting into a trap that will result in death (cf. Prov 5:3-5). Yeshua and Paul warned about avoiding sin for a reason (John 5:14; 8:11; 1Cor 15:34; Eph 4:26; 1Tim 5:20). No follower of Yeshua is so secure that he cannot fall away (Rom 11:20; 1Cor 10:12; 2Pet 3:17). The disciple must actively resist the devil to remain victorious (1Cor 10:13-14; Jas 4:7).
14 For we have become partakers of Messiah, if indeed we should hold the beginning of assurance firm until the end.
For: Grk. gar, conj. we have become: Grk. ginomai, perf., 1p-pl., to transfer from one state or condition to another, which may be expressed in one of three ways: (1) come into being birth or natural process; (2) exist through application of will or effort by a person; or (3) undergo a state of existence, change or development. The third meaning applies here. partakers: pl. of Grk. metochos, having a part in something; sharing in, associate, companion, partner, or partaker. Many versions have "partners" but "partakers" seems more fitting here (Thayer). of Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 6 above. To be a partaker of Messiah means to be a recipient of the blessings and benefits provided by his death and resurrection, especially an inheritance in the Messianic kingdom and eternal life.
if indeed: Grk. eanper, conj., a conditional particle that makes reference to time and to experience, introducing something future, but not determining, before the event, whether it is certainly to take place. we should hold: Grk. katechō, aor. subj., to hold fast, to hold down. the beginning: Grk. ho archē is a multi-purpose word with the basic meaning of priority and may mean (1) the point of derivation or originating moment; beginning, start point; (2) one who enjoys preeminence in earthly or supra-terrestrial realm; ruler, authority; or (3) assigned position or sphere of activity, position, domain, jurisdiction. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX archē translates Heb. reshit (SH-7725), "beginning," first in Genesis 1:1 (DNTT 1:164f).
of assurance: Grk. ho hupostasis (from hupo, "under" and hístēmi, "to stand"), may mean (1) a legal standing under a guaranteed agreement ("title-deed"); fig. a legitimate claim or "title" to a promise or property; (2) the quality of having actual existence; assurance, confidence, reality, steadiness, or substance. The second meaning applies here. until: Grk. mechri, prep. See verse 6 above. the end: Grk. telos, a point in time that marks culmination. In Classical Greek telos originally referred to the turning point, hinge, the culminating point at which one stage ends and another begins; later the goal, the end.
In the LXX telos is often used to translate the Heb. qets, "end" (DNTT 2:60). The Hebrew word qets is most often used of time, especially in phrases that speak of the end of a definite time period (e.g., Gen 8:6; 2Sam 15:7; 2Kgs 18:3) (BDB 893). In this case telos is used of the end of the present age when Yeshua returns and takes his seat of judgment. Paul statement echoes the words of Yeshua in the Olivet Discourse, "the one having endured to the end, that one will be saved" (Matt 24:13 BR).
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.
BBMS: Henry Morris, Biblical Basis for Modern Science. Baker Book House, 1984.
Bruce: F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1964. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
Delitzsch: Franz Delitzsch (1813-1890), Hebrew New Testament. Leipzig, 1877. Online. (Translation of the Greek New Testament into biblical Hebrew.)
DSB: The Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing Co., 1995. [KJV with annotations by Dr. Henry M. Morris.]
Eisenbaum: Pamela Eisenbaum, Annotations on "The Letter to the Hebrews," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Ellicott: Charles John Ellicott (1819–1905), Commentary for English Readers (1878). Online.
Fruchtenbaum: Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, "Hebrews," Ariel's Bible Commentary: The Messianic Jewish Epistles. Ariel Ministries, 2005.
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
Jastrow: Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic Literature. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1903, 1926. Online.
Kaiser: Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. The Promise-Plan of God: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments. Zondervan, 2008.
Kidner: Derek Kidner, Psalms 73―150: An Introduction and Commentary. InterVarsity Press, 1975. (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)
LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon (1889). rev. by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online
Metzger: Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2nd ed. United Bible Societies, 1994.
Morris: Leon Morris, Hebrews. Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 12. Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.
Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
Payne: J. Barton Payne, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy. Baker Books, 1973.
Rashi: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaqi (1040-1105), Commentary on the Tanakh. Online.
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament. 2 Vol. Zondervan Pub. House, 1980.
Santala: Risto Santala, The Messiah in the Old Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings. Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1980, 1992. Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889.
TLV: Tree of Life Version, Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society, 2014. Online.
WSD: Spiros Zodhiates (1922-2009), ed. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. AMG Publishers, 1992, 1993.
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