While Hebrews 2:17-18 contains the concluding remarks to the argument concerning Jesus and his superiority because of his humanity, it also is the connector into this next topic about Jesus and his superiority over Moses. The second chapter of Hebrews ends with the description of Jesus as our merciful and faithful high priest who is a propitiation for our sins and shares in our sufferings. Now, let us move to chapter 3.
1 Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, 2 who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. (ESV)
Notice again the concept that we are joined with Jesus. We are brothers and sisters with Jesus and we are sharing in the heavenly calling as the family of God. The author wants us to stop for a moment and truly consider Jesus. Think carefully about this Jesus. He is the apostle and high priest of our confession. Initially, calling Jesus “the apostle” seems strange. But the word “apostle” simply means “one sent with authority.” Jesus is sent with authority from God the Father. Further, Jesus acts as high priest on our behalf, as the writer argued in chapter 2. We see a beautiful picture of Jesus that we are to understand. Jesus was sent from the Father to us (apostle) and now atones for the sins of the people to bring the people to God (high priest). We should picture this as a “V.”
Apostle High Priest
Jesus was sent down from the Father (apostle) to us to act on our behalf, reconciling us back to the Father (high priest). This is the essence of our confession. Jesus was sent from the Father with his authority as the Son to atone for our sins, bringing us back into a relationship with the Father.
Application: This needs to be our confession. This needs to be the words from our mouths: Jesus is our apostle and high priest. Now the writer continues with his point.
Jesus was faithful to the Father who appointed him, just as Moses was also faithful in all God’s house. Verse 2 places Jesus and Moses on equal footing in terms of faithfulness. So the writer is telling us to comparing Jesus and Moses. Consider Jesus and look at him in terms of Moses. Both are faithful. This reference to Moses is to remind us of how special Moses was. This is a quotation from Numbers 12:6-7.
6 he said, “Listen to my words: “When there are prophets of the LORD among you, I reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams. 7 But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. 8 With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” (TNIV)
The writer of Hebrews is reminding us about how important and special Moses was. God did not speak to Moses like he spoke to the other prophets. God used dreams and visions, speaking vaguely to the prophets. But Moses was faithful in God’s house and therefore God spoke to Moses clearly, face to face. It is no small thing to say that Moses was faithful in all God’s house. The context of this passage concerns the time when Aaron and Miriam spoke against Moses for marrying a Cushite woman. God was saying that Aaron and Miriam should have been afraid to speak against Moses because of his faithfulness and the special relationship God had with Moses. This leads us to the next verse and the contrast between Jesus and Moses.
3 For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (ESV)
For all the glory and honor that Moses deserved because of his faithfulness, Jesus is counted worthy of greater glory than Moses. Why has Jesus been counted worthy of more glory than Moses? The reason is given: because the builder of the house has more honor and receives more glory than the house itself. Moses is simply part of the building. Jesus is the builder. It is an interesting, yet simple, illustration. People may admire the building, but the glory and honor goes to the person who erected the building.
Application: This is an important lesson that is too often forgotten. We praise the builder, not the house. We praise Jesus, not ourselves. We praise the Son, not the church. We are nothing. We are only something because Jesus is the builder who has built this group of holy people through his priesthood. The church is only to be admire to the extent that Christ is the builder. The church is not where the glory and praise exists. Jesus is where all praise and honor belong. We are in this family, in this kingdom, and in this relationship with God only because of Jesus and not because of ourselves. We must direct the world’s attention to Jesus, and through Jesus how one becomes part of the holy people of God, the church. We do not proclaim ourselves. We proclaim Jesus. Let us not confuse the order.
4 (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) (ESV)
Now here is a subtle point. Every house has a builder. Houses do not build themselves. God is the builder of everything. He is the one who is always in charge. Now notice the simple syllogism that the writer just put together. Jesus is the builder of the house. God is the builder of all things. Therefore, Jesus is God. Simple, yet effective in argumentation. The writer of Hebrews has the tendency thus far to prove that Jesus is God in fairly subtle was. Recall Hebrews 1:8 where the Son is explicitly described as God by quoting Psalm 45. So also here. Jesus is God because he is the builder of the household, the family of God. Now we can examine the writer’s concluding argument.
5 Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6 but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. (ESV)
So Moses was faithful in all God’s house. We already noted that this is a quotation from Numbers 12:6-7. But he was faithful in God’s house as a servant. This is not a put down in any way. This is just a statement of the reality that as great as Moses was, he was still a servant. Further, Moses testified to things that were to be spoken later. Moses was not the “end all” of Israel. The scriptures were not speaking about Moses’ coming. Moses himself testified to the things spoken later.
15 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— …18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. (Deuteronomy 18:15,18; ESV)
Even Moses was looking for another to come. However, Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. If we place the two sentences next to each other, we can quickly see the comparison.
Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant
Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son
There are two key differences (three, if one includes “was” and “is” as an intended contrast). Moses was a faithful servant. Jesus is the faithful Son. Moses was a servant in God’s house. Jesus is faithful over God’s house. Jesus is superior to Moses just as a son is superior to a servant. The Son has a privileged position in the house. He is not a servant. He is an heir. He is in charge. He is over the house. He has rule and authority. The servant does not. Moses was great, but Jesus deserves even greater glory and honor.
We also see an interesting progression in the title or name the author uses. In the first chapter, the writer exclusively uses the title “Son.” In Hebrews 2:9 he says, “But we see Jesus.” Now the author uses his earthly name. Now, for the first time, the author attaches the title “Christ.”
And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
We are his house if we do not give up. We must hold firmly to our confidence to be part of his house. Jesus is faithful to us, but will we be faithful to him? Those who persevere in the faith have the assurance that they are part of God’s house. We are part of God’s family. We are children of Abraham and heirs of the promise. We are part of God’s kingdom, reigning with him if we do not give up. Don’t give up! You are part of God’s family!