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Hebrews 3:1-4:13New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

III. Jesus, Faithful and Compassionate High Priest

Chapter 3

Jesus, Superior to Moses.[a] Therefore, holy “brothers,” sharing in a heavenly calling, reflect on Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was “faithful in [all] his house.” But he is worthy of more “glory” than Moses, as the founder of a house has more “honor” than the house itself. Every house is founded by someone, but the founder of all is God. Moses was “faithful in all his house” as a “servant” to testify to what would be spoken, [b]but Christ was faithful as a son placed over his house. We are his house, if [only] we hold fast to our confidence and pride in our hope.

Israel’s Infidelity a Warning. [c]Therefore, as the holy Spirit says:

“Oh, that today you would hear his voice,
    ‘Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion
        in the day of testing in the desert,
    where your ancestors tested and tried me
and saw my works 10         for forty years.
    Because of this I was provoked with that generation
        and I said, “They have always been of erring heart,
        and they do not know my ways.”
11     As I swore in my wrath,
        “They shall not enter into my rest.”’”

12 Take care, brothers, that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart, so as to forsake the living God. 13 Encourage yourselves daily while it is still “today,” so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin. 14 We have become partners of Christ if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end, 15 for it is said:

“Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
‘Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion.’”

16 Who were those who rebelled when they heard? Was it not all those who came out of Egypt under Moses? 17 With whom was he “provoked for forty years”? Was it not those who had sinned, whose corpses fell in the desert? 18 And to whom did he “swear that they should not enter into his rest,” if not to those who were disobedient? 19 And we see that they could not enter for lack of faith.

Chapter 4

The Sabbath Rest. Therefore, let us be on our guard while the promise of entering into his rest remains, that none of you seem to have failed. For in fact we have received the good news just as they did. But the word that they heard did not profit them, for they were not united in faith with those who listened. For we who believed enter into [that] rest, just as he has said:

“As I swore in my wrath,
    ‘They shall not enter into my rest,’”

and yet his works were accomplished at the foundation of the world. For he has spoken somewhere about the seventh day in this manner, “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works”; and again, in the previously mentioned place, “They shall not enter into my rest.” Therefore, since it remains that some will enter into it, and those who formerly received the good news did not enter because of disobedience, he once more set a day, “today,” when long afterwards he spoke through David, as already quoted:

“Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
‘Harden not your hearts.’”

Now if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken afterwards of another day. Therefore, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God. 10 And whoever enters into God’s rest, rests from his own works as God did from his. 11 Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest, so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience.

12 Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. 13 No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.

Footnotes:

  1. 3:1–6 The author now takes up the two qualities of Jesus mentioned in Hb 2:17, but in inverse order: faithfulness (Hb 3:1–4:13) and mercy (Hb 4:14–5:10). Christians are called holy “brothers” because of their common relation to him (Hb 2:11), the apostle, a designation for Jesus used only here in the New Testament (cf. Jn 13:16; 17:3), meaning one sent as God’s final word to us (Hb 1:2). He is compared with Moses probably because he is seen as mediator of the new covenant (Hb 9:15) just as Moses was of the old (Hb 9:19–22, including his sacrifice). But when the author of Hebrews speaks of Jesus’ sacrifice, he does not consider Moses as the Old Testament antitype, but rather the high priest on the Day of Atonement (Hb 9:6–15). Moses’ faithfulness “in [all] his house” refers back to Nm 12:7, on which this section is a midrashic commentary. In Hb 3:3–6, the author does not indicate that he thinks of either Moses or Christ as the founder of the household. His house (Hb 3:2, 5, 6) means God’s house, not that of Moses or Christ; in the case of Christ, compare Hb 3:6 with Hb 10:21. The house of Hb 3:6 is the Christian community; the author suggests its continuity with Israel by speaking not of two houses but of only one. Hb 3:6 brings out the reason why Jesus is superior to Moses: the latter was the faithful servant laboring in the house founded by God, but Jesus is God’s son, placed over the house.
  2. 3:6 The majority of manuscripts add “firm to the end,” but these words are not found in the three earliest and best witnesses and are probably an interpolation derived from Hb 3:14.
  3. 3:7–4:13 The author appeals for steadfastness of faith in Jesus, basing his warning on the experience of Israel during the Exodus. In the Old Testament the Exodus had been invoked as a symbol of the return of Israel from the Babylonian exile (Is 42:9; 43:16–21; 51:9–11). In the New Testament the redemption was similarly understood as a new exodus, both in the experience of Jesus himself (Lk 9:31) and in that of his followers (1 Cor 10:1–4). The author cites Ps 95:7–11, a salutary example of hardness of heart, as a warning against the danger of growing weary and giving up the journey. To call God living (Hb 3:12) means that he reveals himself in his works (cf. Jos 3:10; Jer 10:11). The rest (Hb 3:11) into which Israel was to enter was only a foreshadowing of that rest to which Christians are called. They are to remember the example of Israel’s revolt in the desert that cost a whole generation the loss of the promised land (Hb 3:15–19; cf. Nm 14:20–29). In Hb 4:1–11, the symbol of rest is seen in deeper dimension: because the promise to the ancient Hebrews foreshadowed that given to Christians, it is good news; and because the promised land was the place of rest that God provided for his people, it was a share in his own rest, which he enjoyed after he had finished his creative work (Hb 3:3–4; cf. Gn 2:2). The author attempts to read this meaning of God’s rest into Ps 95:7–11 (Hb 3:6–9). The Greek form of the name of Joshua, who led Israel into the promised land, is Jesus (Hb 3:8). The author plays upon the name but stresses the superiority of Jesus, who leads his followers into heavenly rest. Hb 3:12, 13 are meant as a continuation of the warning, for the word of God brings judgment as well as salvation. Some would capitalize the word of God and see it as a personal title of Jesus, comparable to that of Jn 1:1–18.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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