Jesus is Greater Than Moses
And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest. For he was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entire house. But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a house deserves more praise than the house itself. For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God. Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later. But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.Hebrews 3:1-6
I hope you have had time to look at this short section and taken note of the parts which stand out to you. Have you had time to ask your own questions of what you want to delve into more? I have now gone through this passage and highlighted the pieces which beg for our attention. If you haven’t done that yet, don’t look at the detail of what I have highlighted above. Go back to Gem 2055 and work from the unhighlighted version there. My intention now is to move through this short passage and pull out the significant elements to comment on. Yes, many readers tell me the Gems are like a commentary. That’s true, but the Gems are not an extensive commentary on every single thing that is worthy of comment; just the main ones.
‘And so‘, ‘for this reason‘, ‘wherefore‘, ‘therefore‘[῞Οθεν] is the first word that needs attention. This section looking at Jesus being greater than Moses is referring back to Hebrews 2:17 or in reality 2:5-18 but could well be a general comment which connects it to all that has gone before since the beginning of the letter. If nothing else it is certainly in sequence with “Jesus being greater than the angels’. Now the writer moves on to look at Jesus being greater than Moses and more.
brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven
Remember the writer is encouraging Jewish / Hebrew followers of Christ to hang on to their faith in Him. ‘Brothers and sisters’ here is not referring to Jewish kinship ties but to the fellow believers in Christ. Therefore they are sons and daughters of God, or children of God (John 1:12), those who share in the same heavenly calling. That same heavenly calling that Paul referred to in Philippians 3:14, that I talked about in Gem 1976 and 1980.
think carefully about this Jesus
Think carefully [κατανοήσατε] is a powerful verb which calls us to continuous observation and attention. The idea being ‘pay attention’ and ‘consider’, ‘bring your mind to focus on something’ and ‘observe carefully so as to see the significance of what you have observed or realised’. The subject of the verb is interesting in this case as it is the second person plural “you”. The writer most often includes himself in the challenges or the warnings as we have seen already and also in (4:1 ,11 ,14,16 ; 6:1 ; 10:22ff ; 12:28 ; 13:13, 15). The examples listed are all “we”. But in this case and in 7:4 the subject of the verb is “you”.
Notice also the change in the name from Christ to Jesus or more fully expressed as Christ Jesus. You are left in no doubt that the writer is talking about Christ Jesus, or Jesus, the Messiah. He indeed is the Son being talked about, but of course we knew that already, I am just drawing it to your attention.
God’s messenger and High Priest
This construction is a hendiadys, a literary feature where two words are closely bound together and governed by the one definite article. Jesus is the Apostle and High Priest. These two distinct roles were predicted by Moses and then established by him. The roles of Apostle and Priest were divided between Moses and Aaron. In the times of the Kings the roles were distinct and separate, but now in Jesus, the roles are combined. He is both the ultimate messenger whom Moses predicted would come at the end of the line of Prophets (messengers). But now the writer of this letter to the Hebrews refers to Jesus as the High Priest. This is the only book where the writer refers to Jesus Christ as the High Priest. This is highly significant and we have been told to observe carefully and note the significance. So do that! The author of Hebrews will return to this point.
Note also what has just happened with the combining of these two roles with a hendiadys. Jesus is not only greater than the angels, He is also greater than all the prophets who have gone before Him, all apostles (messengers) and all High Priests, not just priests but High Priests.
He was faithful to God, who appointed Him, just as Moses served faithfully
Note and observe carefully the repeated references to faithful. (e.g. Heb 2:17) I am not going to pick them all out as I did with the use of “we”. I will give you the joy of finding them for yourself. Jesus is described as our faithful High Priest before God. Moses is described as “faithful”. Jesus is described as ‘faithful’ both now and since His appointment at the creation of the world. Jesus faithfulness far outstrips that of Moses, who never was the High Priest. Jesus is and forever has been designated as the Great High Priest who would come. Jesus is once again in another league to Moses.
What is the deal with the author’s use of “house”? There is something strange about the way it is being used. Have look at the linked verse from the Old Testament.
But not with my servant Moses. Of all my house, he is the one I trust.Numbers 12:7
The Greek word [οἴκος] which mirrors the Hebrew word [בית] ‘beth’. Both of these words in Hebrew and Greek have a double meaning. Each can mean either:
- House, tent, dwelling
- Household i.e. the dwellers within the house, the family, wider family, lineage
This wording is highly significant and needs to be observed and paid due attention in order to understand the significance of what the author of Hebrews is meaning. But of course there is another level of authorship behind the scenes, the Ultimate Author, God! Do you see the hidden little hints to the Ultimate Author in this short passage? If you didn’t recognise them straight away and were already a step ahead of my fingers on the keyboard, then you will certainly find them on going back and looking at this passage again, when you observe and take note of the significance. There are two such hints.
These first six verses are packed with nuance. So, having said that, I am not going to continue to expand this passage further now. Rather it behooves me to pause at this point and allow you time to digest what I have written above, before we go on to unpack the remainder of this first pericope of Hebrews 3. When we reach the second and third pericope, I will make comment about my division of the block text and my choice of titles. Some of you have asked me questions about my choice of division and the titles I chose, so we will address that at the right time. Now is not that time.
You have the time now to pause and consider the elements I have highlighted, which are all highly significant to the point the author is making. Both authors, the author of this letter and the Ultimate Author.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.2 Timothy 3:16
When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.1 Corinthians 2:13
This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward. They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.1 Peter 1:10-12