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. 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. 4 (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) 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. – Hebrews 3:1-6 ESV
The Jews had high regard for angels as heavenly messengers sent from God. But the author of Hebrews wanted his Jewish readers to know that angels were nothing when compared to Jesus, the Son of God, the greatest of divine messengers with the greatest of messengers.
When it came to the topic of salvation, the Jews knew of no greater savior than Moses, who had single-handedly rescued their forefathers from captivity in Egypt. As a result, they held Moses in high esteem. So the author of Hebrews asks his audience to “consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession” (Hebrews 3:1 ESV).
The Greek word for “consider” means “to fix one’s eyes or mind upon” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). It would be like saying, “take a long, hard look at Jesus.” Jesus was the apostle or messenger, sent by God with the good news regarding salvation by faith in Him alone. But He was also our high priest, a title the author will elaborate on in greater detail later in his letter. As high priest, Jesus offered a better sacrifice, a one-time, never-to-be-repeated sacrifice that completely satisfied the just demands of a holy God and provided complete forgiveness of sins and a way for man to be restored to a right relationship with God.
As God’s messenger and high priest, Jesus was faithful to His divinely ordained assignment. And the author compares His faithfulness to that of Moses, who was chosen and sent by God to the people of Israel with a message of deliverance. God had told Moses to go to the people of Israel who were living in captivity in Egypt and announce the good news of their pending deliverance.
“Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—has appeared to me. He told me, ‘I have been watching closely, and I see how the Egyptians are treating you. I have promised to rescue you from your oppression in Egypt. I will lead you to a land flowing with milk and honey.’” – Exodus 3:16-17 NLT
Moses did what God commanded, although somewhat reluctantly. He obeyed God and, as they say, the rest is history. God delivered His people through the faithful leadership of Moses, with the assistance of Aaron, Moses’ brother whom God would later appoint the high priest of Israel. But as great as Moses was considered by the people of Israel for what he had done, “Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses” (Hebrews 3:3 ESV). Why? Because Moses was a faithful servant, but Jesus was the faithful Son.
It is important to recognize the seriousness of what is going on here. For the Jew, Moses was the founder and architect of their entire religion. While Abraham was the father of the nation, it was through Moses that they received the Law, the sacrificial system, and the Tabernacle. They believed that without Moses, they would never have escaped Egypt and become a nation. So when the author gives Jesus greater glory than Moses, he is treading on sacred ground for the Jew. But his point seems to be that Jesus, as the Son of God, the divine messenger, and the high priest of the faith, has ushered in something far greater and more significant than the law, the sacrificial system, or the Tabernacle. And he will spend the rest of his letter expounding on and explaining why he believes that to be so.
The author makes a strong statement regarding the deity of Christ when he compares Moses, the servant of God, with Jesus, the Son of God. Moses deserved honor for what he accomplished, much like a newly constructed home deserved honor for its beauty. But the real glory should go to the builder, not that which was built. Moses, though faithful, was an instrument in God’s hands. None of what he accomplished would have happened without God’s help. But Jesus, as the Son of God, is different, because “the builder of all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4 ESV). Jesus was divine, the Son of God and the creator of the universe. Remember how the author opened his letter? “…he [God] has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrews 1:2 ESV). Jesus was not just a messenger sent from God, He was God in human flesh. As such, He deserves the same degree of glory as God the Father.
The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. – Hebrews 1:3 NLT
Moses had helped establish the house of Israel. That is not only a reference to the covenant community of Israel but to Moses’ oversight of the construction of God’s house, the Tabernacle. Moses had been given detailed plans for building God a dwelling place on earth, where He promised to reside among His people. So, when the author states that Moses “was faithful in all God’s house,” he is emphasizing Moses’ unparalleled example of faithfulness among God’s people but he is also pointing out Moses’ faithful project management over the construction of God’s dwelling place. Every aspect of God’s house was carefully and faithfully carried out down to the last detail.
The author recognizes that Moses was due honor and glory for having helped make the house of God possible. Had Moses not done his job, the Tabernacle would have never been started or completed. So, in that sense, “the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself” (Hebrews 3:3 ESV). But ultimately, “the builder of all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4 ESV). The Tabernacle had been God’s idea and Moses had simply carried out the plans that God had established for His earthly dwelling place.
But Moses had been more than a builder; he had been a leader. He had played a significant role in leading the people of God to the land promised to Abraham, their father in the flesh. But Jesus had come to establish a new household of faith, a family of God that would be made up of both Jews and Gentiles and based on a righteousness that comes from faith, not works.
Paul referred to it as “the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). He told the Gentile believers in Ephesus, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19 ESV).
The Jewish Christians to whom the letter of Hebrews was addressed needed to be reminded that their allegiance was no longer to Moses and the law. Their hope was not to be in the sacrificial system or some earthly dwelling place like the Tabernacle or Temple. They were to consider Jesus. They were now part of His household of faith. But the author warns them that they must “hold fast” their confidence in Jesus. They must boast in the hope they have in Him. There was nothing and no one else worth boasting about or placing their hope in. They were to keep their eyes fully focused on Jesus, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2 ESV).
Moses had built a Tabernacle in which God could dwell among His people. But Jesus became the ultimate tabernacle when He left His Father’s side and came to earth in human form. John writes, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14 BSB). The Greek word John used is σκηνόω (skēnoō), which means “to fix one’s tabernacle, have one’s tabernacle, abide (or live) in a tabernacle (or tent), tabernacle.”
In His incarnation, Jesus became God’s dwelling place on earth. He was “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15 ESV). As the second person of the Trinity, Jesus took on human flesh so that He might make God visible to mankind. The Tabernacle, built by Moses, held the glory of God but it was invisible and unapproachable to anyone but the high priest, who could enter the Most Holy Place once a year on the Day of Atonement. But Jesus made God visible to all, and He was not only the “tabernacle” of God’s presence, but the builder.
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
for through him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.
He existed before anything else,
and he holds all creation together. – Colossians 1:15-17 NLT
Jesus came to expand God’s house. The Tabernacle was long gone and it would not be long before the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. But Jesus came to build a new house of God made up of Jews and Gentiles, slave and free, male and female. Moses had been faithful in God’s house (the earthly Tabernacle), but Jesus was faithful over God’s new house, the church.
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 3:6 NLT
Like the Jews who read this letter, we can easily find ourselves considering something other than Jesus. We can end up placing our hope in our religious upbringing, our spiritual accomplishments, or the fact that, at some time in the past, we placed our faith in Jesus as our Savior. But the walk of faith is always looking forward, not backward. It is about the hope that lies ahead. It is always considering Jesus, the founder, and perfecter of our faith. In other words, we are always living expectantly and hopefully, trusting that God will finish what He started in us. The work of Christ in our lives will not be fully complete until He glorifies us. We are works in process. And we must hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope – in Him.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.