Study Notes

Hebrews 3:1


Remember that the epistle of Hebrews was written to Hebrew Christians that were in danger of falling back into trusting Judaism to save them. Some of them were trusting in the prophets, but Jesus is greater than the prophets. Some were looking to angels, but Jesus is higher than the angels. Some were looking to Moses, and as chapter three will unfold, the author will compare Jesus with Moses.

But before we get into the meat of this chapter next week, I'd like us to consider all that is contained in the first verse. We'll take baby steps to make sure we absorb what is written in this verse. Then, next week, we will take in chapter three as a whole.

3:1 Holy

The author of Hebrews calls those to whom he is writing, "holy brethren." What does "holy" mean to you? It may sound like anything that is associated with religion.

But in fact, the Greek words for "holy," "sanctified," "hallowed," and "saint" all come from the same root word, which means, "that which is set apart, pure, and kept for God's use." To be holy means to be set apart.

And while that root word is used to describe such awe-inspiring things as the Holy Spirit, the hallowed name of God (Matt 6:9), Jesus, Who is sanctified (John 10:36), and the holy angels (Luke 9:26), it is also used to describe us as Christians. We are called holy!

When we became Christians, we were set apart, purified, and kept for God's use. We have a special purpose in the kingdom of God.

Compare this to other things that are sanctified for certain uses. Like fine china or silverware that is kept only for special occasions, you would never throw a frozen burrito on it and toss it in the microwave. Like the family silverware passed down through generations, you would never grab the knife to use as a screwdriver. Like a military "dress blues" uniform worn only during formal ceremonies, you would never throw it on to mow the lawn or paint the house. No one would ever dream of doing these things, for they would be despising the sanctity of the items. Christian, you are sanctified for God's use. You are holy.

Although misusing these items may ruin or destroy them, it does not change the fact that they are set apart. Christians are the same way. When misusing themselves with sin, believers are damaging themselves, but they are not changing the fact that God has set them apart. There is no greater example of a group of sinning Christians than the church of Corinth. Yet, even they were described by the apostle Paul as being...

1Cor. 1:2 ...those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling...

The words "sanctified" and "saints" are that same root word. Even the Corinthians are called holy, sanctified, set apart for God's use.

Do you look at your life this way? You have a special calling on your life, and God has set you apart. This is why Peter wrote,

1Pet. 1:14-16 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts {which were yours} in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all {your} behavior; because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY."


And we are not just holy, but holy brethren. By being united in salvation, we have been united as a family. All through the New Testament, we see believers referring to one another as "brother" and "sister." This is more than Christian terminology, it is how God desires us to see one another.

James pointed out,

James 2:15-16 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for {their} body, what use is that?

Most of us would never dream of seeing our own siblings suffering from need without doing anything about it. And yet, on a regular basis, we neglect the needs of fellow Christians. If you look around you this morning, you will be looking at your brethren, your brothers and sisters in Christ.

God desires that we would...

Rom. 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; (and) give preference to one another in honor

Partakers Of A Heavenly Calling

The holy brethren are partakers of a heavenly calling. We have been called by God not only for this life, but also to another life - one which will last for eternity. We have been called to the age to come - a call to heaven.

Heaven is something that we don't spend a lot of time pursuing. Maybe that is because we can't picture it. After all,

1Cor. 2:9 ...eye has not seen and ear has not heard, AND HAVE not entered the heart of man, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM."

It seems like a good excuse: "If I can't picture it, why should I pursue it?" But even though our minds can't conceive of what is waiting for us, we are to dwell on it, to pursue it, to make it our goal.

I have heard the expression, "she's so heavenly-minded, she's no earthly good." I disagree with that. If we are heavenly-minded, then our priorities are in order. Paul certainly felt that way, telling the Philippians,

Phil. 3:13-14 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of {it} yet; but one thing {I do} : forgetting what {lies} behind and reaching forward to what {lies} ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Phil. 3:20-21 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory...

Pressing on for the prize of the upward call. Our citizenship is in heaven, and we are eagerly waiting to be there. When we are heavenly-minded, we live holy lives and become much more earthly good.

Consider Jesus The Apostle

We are told to consider Jesus. Remember, the larger context is to consider Jesus in relation to Moses, and we will look at that next Sunday. But first, we are called to consider Jesus in two roles: as apostle, and as high priest.

Does it sound strange to describe Jesus as an apostle? After all, didn't He have apostles? Didn't He name them and send them out?

Luke 6:12-13 And it was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. And when day came, He called His disciples to Him; and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles

Indeed, Jesus named twelve apostles. But there was no rule saying that this was the limit. In fact, we see that many more men were called apostles as the Bible progresses.

It is no mystery to think of Jesus as an apostle when we understand what an apostle is. The word "ap-OS-tol-os" in Greek simply means, "one who is sent out with a message."

With that understanding, we see that Jesus is a perfect example of an apostle. He was, after all, sent out with a message. He said,


The Father sent Jesus to us with a message - the message of the gospel, of forgiveness of sins, of faith for salvation. This is the message we have received and believed. Thus, He is the apostle of our confession.

Consider Jesus The High Priest

He is also our High Priest. The Jews knew exactly what role the high priest played in their religious lives - He was the one who was the mediator between God and the nation. He was the one who confessed the sins of the people, and offered sacrifice for them. He was the one who entered into the presence of the glory of God. Jesus is all these things for us.

Much of this book is dedicated to explaining Jesus' role as our high priest, and we will have a firm grasp of this by the time we finish.

Next week, the author will encourage us to consider Jesus in comparison to Moses. Read ahead, stay in prayer, but most of all, be sure this week to consider Jesus.

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