Holy brethren - Persons consecrated to God, as the word literally implies, and called, in consequence, to be holy in heart, holy in life, and useful in the world. The Israelites are often called a holy people, saints, etc., because consecrated to God, and because they were bound by their profession to be holy; and yet these appellations are given to them in numberless instances where they were very unholy. The not attending to this circumstance, and the not discerning between actual positive holiness, and the call to it, as the consecration of the persons, has led many commentators and preachers into destructive mistakes. Antinomianism has had its origin here: and as it was found that many persons were called saints, who, in many respects, were miserable sinners, hence it has been inferred that they were called saints in reference to a holiness which they had in another; and hence the Antinomian imputation of Christ's righteousness to unholy believers, whose hearts were abominable before God, and whose lives were a scandal to the Gospel. Let, therefore, a due distinction be made between persons by their profession holy, i.e. consecrated to God; and persons who are faithful to that profession, and are both inwardly and outwardly holy. They are not all Israel who are of Israel: a man, by a literal circumcision, may be a Jew outwardly; but the circumcision of the heart by the Spirit makes a man a Jew inwardly. A man may be a Christian in profession, and not such in heart; and those who pretend that, although they are unholy in themselves, they are reputed holy in Christ, because his righteousness is imputed to them, most awfully deceive their own souls.
Dr. Owen has spoken well on the necessity of personal holiness against the Antinomians of his day. "If a man be not made holy he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. It is this that makes them meet for the inheritance of the saints in light; as without it they are not meet for their duty, so are they not capable of their reward. Yea, heaven itself, in the true light and notion of it, is undesirable to an unsanctified person. Such a one neither can nor would enjoy God if he might. In a word, there is no one thing required of the sons of God that an unsanctified person can do, and no one thing promised unto them that he can enjoy.
"There is surely then a woful mistake in the world. If Christ sanctify all whom he saves, many will appear to have been mistaken in their expectations at another day. It is grown amongst us almost an abhorrency to all flesh to say, the Church of God is to be holy. What! though God has promised that it should be so; that Christ has undertaken to make it so? What! if it be required to be so? What! if all the duties of it be rejected of God, if it be not so? It is all one, if men be baptized, whether they will or not, and outwardly profess the name of Christ, though not one of them be truly sanctified, yet they are, it is said, the Church of Christ. Why then let them be so; but what are they the better for it? Are their persons or their services therefore accepted with God? Are they related or united to Christ? Are they under his conduct unto glory? Are they meet for the inheritance of the saints in light? Not at all: not all nor any of these things do they obtain thereby. What is it then that they get by the furious contest which they make for the reputation of this privilege? Only this: that, satisfying their minds by it, resting if not priding themselves in it, they obtain many advantages to stifle all convictions of their condition, and so perish unavoidably. A sad success, and for ever to be bewailed! Yet is there nothing at all at this day more contended for in this world than that Christ might be thought to be a captain of salvation to them, unto whom he is not a sanctifier; that he may have an unholy Church, a dead body. These things tend neither to the glory of Christ, nor to the good of the souls of men. Let none then deceive themselves; sanctification is a qualification indispensably necessary to them who will be under the conduct of the Lord Christ unto salvation; he leads none to heaven but whom he sanctifies on earth. The holy God will not receive unholy persons. This living head will not admit of dead members, nor bring men into possession of a glory which they neither love nor like."
Heavenly calling - The Israelites had an earthly calling; they were called out of Egypt to go into the promised land: Christians have a heavenly calling; they are invited to leave the bondage of sin, and go to the kingdom of God. These were made partakers of this calling; they had already embraced the Gospel, and were brought into a state of salvation.
Apostle and High Priest of our profession - Among the Jews the high priest was considered to be also the apostle of God; and it is in conformity to this notion that the apostle speaks. And he exhorts the Hebrews to consider Jesus Christ to be both their High Priest and Apostle; and to expect these offices to be henceforth fulfilled by him, and by him alone. This was the fullest intimation that the Mosaic economy was at an end, and the priesthood changed. By της ὁμολογιας ἡμων, our profession, or that confession of ours, the apostle undoubtedly means the Christian religion. Jesus was the Apostle of the Father, and has given to mankind the new covenant; and we are to consider the whole system of Christianity as coming immediately from him. Every system of religion must have a priest and a prophet; the one to declare the will of God, the other to minister in holy things. Moses was the apostle under the old testament, and Aaron the priest. When Moses was removed, the prophets succeeded him; and the sons of Aaron were the priests after the death of their father. This system is now annulled; and Jesus is the Prophet who declares the Father's will, and he is the Priest who ministers in the things pertaining to God, see Hebrews 2:17; as he makes atonement for the sins of the people, and is the Mediator between God and man.
Wherefore - That is, since Christ sustains such a character as has been stated in the previous chapter; since he is so able to succour those who need assistance; since he assumed our nature that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest, his character ought to be attentively considered, and we ought to endeavor fully to understand it.
Holy brethren - The name “brethren” is often given to Christians to denote that they are of one family. It is “possible,” also, that the apostle may have used the word here in a double sense - denoting that they were his brethren as “Christians,” and as “Jews.” The word “holy” is applied to them to denote that they were set apart to God, or that they were sanctified. The Jews were often called a “holy people,” as being consecrated to God; and Christians are holy, not only as consecrated to God, but as sanctified.
Partakers of the heavenly calling - On the meaning of the word “calling,” see the notes at Ephesians 4:1. The “heavenly calling” denotes the calling which was given to them from heaven, or which was of a heavenly nature. It pertained to heaven, not to earth; it came from heaven, not from earth; it was a calling to the reward and happiness of heaven, and not to the pleasures and honors of the world.
Consider - Attentively ponder all that is said of the Messiah. Think of his rank; his dignity; his holiness; his sufferings; his death; his resurrection, ascension, intercession. Think of him that you may see the claims to a holy life; that you may learn to bear trials; that you may be kept from apostasy. The character and work of the Son of God are worthy of the profound and prayerful consideration of every man; and especially every Christian should reflect much on him. Of the friend that we love we think much; but what friend have we like the Lord Jesus?
The apostle - The word “apostle” is nowhere else applied to the Lord Jesus. The word means one who “is sent” - and in this sense it might be applied to the Redeemer as one “sent” by God, or as by way of eminence the one sent by him. But the connection seems to demand that; there should be some allusion here to one who sustained a similar rank among the Jews; and it is probable that the allusion is to Moses, as having been the great apostle of God to the Jewish people, and that Paul here means to say, that the Lord Jesus, under the new dispensation, filled the place of Moses and of the high priest under the old, and that the office of “apostle” and “high priest,” instead of being now separated, as it was between Moses and Aaron under the old dispensation, was now blended in the Messiah. The name “apostle” is not indeed given to Moses directly in the Old Testament, but the verb from which the Hebrew word for apostle is derived is frequently given him. Thus, in Exodus 3:10, it is said, “Come now, therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh.” And in Hebrews 3:13, “The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you.” So also in Hebrews 3:14-15, of the same chapter. From the word there used - שׁלח shaalach- “to send.” The word denoting “apostle” - שׁליח shaliyach- is derived; and it is not improbable that Moses would be regarded as being by way of eminence the one “sent” by God. Further, the Jews applied the word ” - שׁליח shaliyach- “apostle,” to the minister of the synagogue; to him who presided over its affairs, and who had the general charge of the services there; and in this sense it might be applied by way of eminence to Moses as being the general director and controller of the religious affairs of the nation, and as “sent” for that purpose. The object of Paul is to show that the Lord Jesus in the Christian system - as the great apostle sent from God - sustained a rank and office similar to this, but superior in dignity and authority. And High Priest - One great object of this Epistle is to compare the Lord Jesus with the high priest of the Jews, and to show that he was in all respects superior. This was important, because the office of high priest was what eminently distinguished the Jewish religion, and because the Christian religion proposed to abolish that. It became necessary, therefore, to show that all that was dignified and valuable in that office was to be found in the Christian system. This was done by showing that in the Lord Jesus was found all the characteristics of a high priest, and that all the functions which had been performed in the Jewish ritual were performed by him, and that all which had been prefigured by the Jewish high priest was fulfilled in him. The apostle here merely alludes to him, or names him as the high priest, and then postpones the consideration of his character in that respect until after he had compared him with Moses. Of our profession - Of our religion; of that religion which we profess. The apostle and high priest whom we confessed as ours when we embraced the Christian religion.
And High Priest - One great object of this Epistle is to compare the Lord Jesus with the high priest of the Jews, and to show that he was in all respects superior. This was important, because the office of high priest was what eminently distinguished the Jewish religion, and because the Christian religion proposed to abolish that. It became necessary, therefore, to show that all that was dignified and valuable in that office was to be found in the Christian system. This was done by showing that in the Lord Jesus was found all the characteristics of a high priest, and that all the functions which had been performed in the Jewish ritual were performed by him, and that all which had been prefigured by the Jewish high priest was fulfilled in him. The apostle here merely alludes to him, or names him as the high priest, and then postpones the consideration of his character in that respect until after he had compared him with Moses.
Of our profession - Of our religion; of that religion which we profess. The apostle and high priest whom we confessed as ours when we embraced the Christian religion.
Study Jesus Our Pattern—“Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus” (Hebrews 3:1). Study Christ. Study His character, feature by feature. He is our Pattern that we are required to copy in our lives and our characters, else we fail to represent Jesus, but present to the world a spurious copy. Do not imitate any man, for men are defective in habits, in speech, in manners, in character. I present before you the Man Christ Jesus. You must individually know Him as your Saviour before you can study Him as your pattern and your example. 3SM 170.1Read in context »
I pray that my brethren may realize that the third angel's message means much to us, and that the observance of the true Sabbath is to be the sign that distinguishes those who serve God from those who serve Him not. Let those awake who have become sleepy and indifferent. We are called to be holy, and we should carefully avoid giving the impression that it is of little consequence whether or not we retain the peculiar features of our faith. Upon us rests the solemn obligation of taking a more decided stand for truth and righteousness than we have taken in the past. TDG 196.4Read in context »