(Calvin, Paul to the Hebrews. part 5)

men as Marcion and Manicheus, and fanatical men of similar character, who
denied Christ to have been a real man, begotten of human seed. For if he
bore only the appearance of man, as he had before appeared in the form of
an angel, there could have been no difference; but as it could not have
been said that Christ became really an angel, clothed with angelic
nature, it is hence said that he took upon him man's nature and not that
of angels.
    And the Apostle speaks of nature, and intimates that Christ, clothed
with flesh, was real man, so that there was unity of person in two
natures. For this passage does not favour Nestorius, who imagined a
twofold Christ, as though the Son of God was not a real man but only
dwelt in man's flesh. But we see that the Apostle's meaning was very
different, for his object was to teach us that we find in the Son of God
a brother, being a partaker of our common nature. Being not therefore
satisfied with calling him man, he says that he was begotten of human
seed; and he names expressly the "seed of Abraham", in order that what he
said might have more credit, as being taken from Scripture.
=====> 2:17. "Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto
his brethren", or, to be like his brethren, &c. In Christ's human nature
there are two things to be considered, the real flesh and the affections
or feelings. The Apostle then teaches us, that he had not only put on the
real flesh of man, but also all those feelings which belong to man, and
he also shows the benefit that hence proceeds; and it is the true
teaching of faith when we in our case find the reason why the Son of God
undertook our infirmities; for all knowledge without feeling the need of
this benefit is cold and lifeless. But he teaches us that Christ was made
subject to human affections, "that he might be a merciful and faithful
high priest"; which words I thus explain, "that he might be a merciful,
and therefore a faithful high priest."
    For in a priest, whose office it is to appease God's wrath, to help
the miserable, to raise up the fallen, to relieve the oppressed, mercy is
especially required, and it is what experience produces in us; for it is
a rare thing, for those who are always happy to sympathize with the
sorrows of others. The following saying of Virgil was no doubt derived
from daily examples found among men: "Not ignorant of evil, I learn to
aid the miserable."
    The Son of God had no need of experience that he might know the
emotions of mercy; but we could not be persuaded that he is merciful and
ready to help us, had he not become acquainted by experience with our
miseries; but this, as other things, has been as a favour given to us.
Therefore whenever any evils pass over us, let it ever occur to us, that
nothing happens to us but what the Son of God has himself experienced in
order that he might sympathize with us; nor let us doubt but that he is
at present with us as though he suffered with us.
    "Faithful" means one true and upright, for it is one opposite to a
dissembler; and to him who fulfill not his engagements. An acquaintance
with our sorrows and miseries so inclines Christ to compassion, that he
is constant in imploring God's aid for us. What besides? Having purposed
to make atonement for sins, he put on our nature that we might have in
our own flesh the price of our redemption; in a word, that by the right
of a common nature he might introduce us, together with himself, into the
sanctuary of God. By the words, in things pertaining to God, he means
such things as are necessary to reconcile men to God; and as the first
access to God is by faith, there is need of a Mediator to remove all
=====> 2:18. "For in that he himself has suffered", &c. Having been tried
by our evils, he is ready, he says, to bring us help. The word
"temptation" here means no other thing than experience or probation; and
to be "able", is to be fit, or inclined, or suitable.

Chapter 3

=====> 3:1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling,
consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;
3:2 Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses [was
faithful] in all his house.
3:3 For this [man] was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch
as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.
3:4 For every house is builded by some [man]; but he that built all
things [is] God.
3:5 And Moses verily [was] faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a
testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;
3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we
hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

=====> 3:1. "Wherefore, holy brethren", &c. He concludes the preceding
doctrine with a necessary exhortation, that the Jews should attentively
consider what sort of being and how great Christ is. As he had before, by
naming him a teacher and a priest, briefly compared him with Moses and
Aaron, so he now includes both clauses; for he adorns him with two
titles, as he sustains a twofold character in the Church of God. Moses
was a prophet and a teacher, and Aaron was a priest; but the two offices
belong to Christ. If shell we seek rightly to know him, we must inquire
what sort of being he is; yea, he must be clothed with his own power,
lest we lay hold on an empty shadow and not on him.
    First, the word "consider", is important, for it intimates that
singular attention is required, as he cannot be disregarded with
impunity, and that at the same time the true knowledge of Christ is
sufficient to dissipate the darkness of all errors. And to encourage them
the more to pursue this study, he reminds them of their calling; as
though he had said, "God favoured you with no common grace when He called
you into his kingdom; it now remains that you have your eyes fixed on
Christ as your leader in the way." For the calling of the godly cannot be
otherwise confirmed than by a thorough surrender of themselves to Christ.
We ought not therefore to regard this as said only to the Jews, but that
it is a general truth addressed to all who desire to come into the
kingdom of God; they ought sedulously to attend to Christ, for he is the
sole instructor of our faith, and has confirmed it by the sacrifice of
himself; for "confession", or profession, is to be taken here for faith,
as thought he had said, that the faith we profess is vain and of no
avail, unless Christ be its object.
=====> 3:2. "Who was", or is "faithful", &c. This is a commendation of
the apostleship of Christ, in order that the faithful may securely
acquiesce in him; and he commends it on two grounds, because the Father
has set him to be over us as our teacher, and because Christ himself has
faithfully performed the office committed to him. These two things are
always necessary to secure authority to a doctrine; for God alone ought
to be attended to, as the whole Scripture testifies; hence Christ
declares, that the doctrine which he delivered was not his own, but the
Father's, (John 7: 16;) and in another place he says, "He who received
me, receiveth him who has sent me." (Luke 9: 48.) For we say of Christ,
that as he is clothed with our flesh, he is the Father's minister to
execute his commands. To the calling of God is added the faithful and
upright performance of duty on the part of Christ; and this is required
in true ministers, in order that they may obtain credence in the Church.
Since these two things are found in Christ, doubtless he cannot be
disregarded without despising God in him.
    "As also Moses", &c. Omitting for a while the priesthood, he speaks
here of his apostleship. For as there are two parts in God's covenant,
the promulgation of the truth, and so to speak, its real confirmation,
the full perfection of the covenant would not appear in Christ, were not
both parts found in him. Hence the writer of the epistle, after having
mentioned both, roused attention by a brief exhortation. But he now
enters on a longer discussion, and begins with the office of a teacher:
he therefore now compares Christ only with Moses. The words, "in all his
house", may be applied to Moses; but I prefer to apply them to Christ, as
he may be said to be faithful to his Father in ruling his whole house. It
hence follows, that none belong to the Church of God except those who
acknowledge Christ.
 3. "For this" man (or, he) "was counted worthy", &c. Lest he might
appear to make Moses equal to Christ, he reminds us of his superior
excellency; and this he proves by two arguments, -Moses so ruled the
Church, that he was still a part and member of it; but Christ being the
builder, is superior to the whole building, - Moses while ruling others,
was ruled also himself, as he was a servant; but Christ being a Son
possesses supreme power.
    It is a frequent and well-known metaphor used in Scripture to call
the Church the house of God. (1 Tim. 3: 15.) And as it is composed of the
faithful, each of them is called a living stone. (1 Pet. 2: 5.) They are
also sometimes called the vessels with which the house is furnished. (2
Tim. 2: l0.) There is then no one so eminent that he is not a member, and
included in the universal body. God being the builder, alone is to be set
above his own work; but God dwells in Christ, so that whatever is said of
God is applicable to him.
    If any one objects and says that Christ is also a part of the
building because he is the foundation, because he is our brother, because
he has a union with us and then that he is not the master-builder because
he himself has formed by God: in reply to these things we say that our
faith is so founded on him that he still rules over us that he is in such
a way our brother that he is yet our Lord, that he was so formed by God
as man that he nevertheless by his Spirit revives and restores all things
as the eternal God. The Scripture employs us various metaphors to set
forth Christ s grace towards us; but there is no one which derogates from
his honour mentioned here by the Apostle; for what is stated here is that
all ought to be brought down to their own state because they ought to be
in subjection to the head and that Christ alone is exempt from this
submission, because he is the head.
    If it be again objected and said that Moses was no less a
master-builder than Paul who gloried in this title: to this I reply that
this name is applied to prophets and teachers but not with strict
correctness; for they are only the instruments and indeed dead
instruments, except the Lord from heaven gives efficacy to what they do;
and then they so labour in building the Church, that they themselves form
a part of the structure; but the case is wholly different as to Christ,
for he ever builds up the Church by the power of his own Spirit. Besides,
he stands far above the rest, for he is in such a way the true temple of
God, that he is at the same time the God who inhabits it.
=====> 3:4. "He that built", &c. Though these words may be extended to
the creation of the whole world, yet I confine then to the present
subject. We are then to understand that nothing is done in the Church
which ought not to he ascribed to Gods power; for he alone has founded it
by his own hand, (Ps. 87: 5;) and Paul says of Christ that he is the
head, from whom the whole body, joined together and connected by every
subservient juncture, makes an increase according to what is done
proportionally by every member. (Eph. 4: l6.) Hence he often declares
that the success of his ministry was God's work. In a word, if we take a
right view of things, it will appear that how much soever God may use the
labours of men in building his Church, yet he himself performs everything
- the instrument derogates nothing from the workman.
=====> 3:5. "And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a
servant," &c. The second difference is, that to Moses was committed a
doctrine to which he, in common with others, was to submit; but Christ,
though he put on the form of a servant, is yet Master and Lord, to whom
all ought to be subject; for, as we found in chap. 1: 2, he is
constituted heir of all things.
    "For a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after", or
which were afterwards to be said or declared. I explain this simply in
this way, - that Moses, while a herald of that doctrine which was to be
published for a time to the ancient people, did at the same time render a
testimony to the Gospel, the publication of which was not as yet to be
made; for it is doubtless evident, that the end and completion of the Law
is that perfection of wisdom contained in the Gospel. This exposition
seems to comport with the future tense of the participle. The meaning
indeed is, that Moses faithfully delivered to the people what the Lord
had committed to him, but that limits were prescribed to him which it was
not lawful for him to pass. God formerly spoke at different times and in
various ways by the prophets, but he deferred to the fulness of time the
complete revelation of the Gospel.
=====> 3:6. "Whose house are we", &c. As Paul in his Epistle to the
Romans, after having prefaced that he was appointed to be the Apostle of
the Gentiles, adds, for the sake of gaining credit among them, that they
were of that number; so now the author of this epistle exhorts the Jews
who had already made a profession of Christ to persevere in the faith,
that they might be deemed as being in Gods household. He had said before
that God's house was subject to the authority of Christ. Suitably to this
declaration is added the admonition that they would then have a place in
God's family when they obeyed Christ. But as they had already embraced
the gospel, he mentions their condition if they persevered in the faith.
For the word "hope" I take for faith; and indeed hope is nothing else but
the constancy of faith. He mentions "confidence" and "rejoicing", or
glorying, in order to express more fully the power of faith. And we hence
conclude that those who assent to the Gospel doubtfully and like those
who vacillate, do not truly and really believe; for faith cannot be
without a settled peace of mind, from which proceeds the bold confidence
of rejoicing. And so these two things, confidence and rejoicing, are ever
the effects of faith, as we stated in explaining Romans the 5th chapter,
and Ephesians the 3rd chapter.
    But to these things the whole teaching of the Papists is opposed; and
this very fact, were there nothing else, sufficiently proves that they
pull down the Church of God rather than build it. For the certainty by
which alone we are made, as the Apostle teaches us, holy temples to God,
they not only darken by their glosses, but also condemn as presumption.
Besides, what firmness of confidence can there be when men know not what
they ought to believe? And yet that monstrous thing, implicit faith,
which they have invented, is nothing else than a license to entertain
errors. This passage reminds us that we are always to make progress even
unto death; for our whole life is as it were a race.

=====> 3:7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his
3:8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of
temptation in the wilderness:
3:9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty
3:10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do
alway err in [their] heart; and they have not known my ways.
3:11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)
3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of
unbelief, in departing from the living God.
3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of
you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

    He proceeds in his exhortation, that they were to obey Christ
speaking to them; and that he might add more weight to it, he confirms it
by the testimony of David; for since they were to be sharply goaded, it
was better, for the sake of avoiding offence, to bring forward another
person. Had he simply reproached them for the unbelief of the fathers,
they would have less favourably attended to him; but when he brought
forward David, it was less offensive. Now, the import of the whole is, -
As God from the beginning would his voice obeyed, and could not endure
perverseness without punishing it severely, so at this day he will not
lightly punish our stubbornness, unless we become teachable. But the
discourse is suspended until we come to the words, "Take heed, brethren,
lest there be at any time in any of you," &c. That the passage, then, may
flow better, it would be proper to include the rest in a parenthesis. Let
us now consider the words in order.
=====> 3:7. "As the Holy Ghost saith", &c. This availed much more to
touch their hearts than if he had quoted David by name. And it is useful
for us to familiarize ourselves with such expressions, so that we may
remember that the words adduced from the books of the prophets are those
of God and not of men.
    But as this sentence, "Today, if ye will hear his voice", is a part
of a former verse, some have not unsuitably rendered it thus, "Would to
God you would this day hear his voice." It is indeed certain that when
David called tile Jews God's people, he immediately drew this conclusion,
that the voice of God ought to have been heard by them; for as to those
whom he there invited to sing praises to God and to celebrate his
goodness, he reminded them at the same time that obedience was the chief
worship which he required, and that it was better than all sacrifices.
The chief thing, then, was to obey the word of God.
=====> 3:8. Then follows, "Harden not your hearts". By which words is
intimated that our rebellion against God flows from no other fountain
then wilful wickedness, by which we obstruct the entrance of his grace,
We have indeed by nature a heart of stone, and there is in all an innate
hardness from the womb, which God alone can mollify and amend. That we,
however, reject the voice of God, it happens through a spontaneous
obstinacy, not through an external impulse, a fact of which every one is
a witness to himself. Rightly, then, does the Spirit accuse all the
unbelieving that they resist God, and that they are the teachers and
authors of their own perverseness, so that they can throw the blame on
none else. It is hence, however, absurdly concluded that we have, on the
other hand, a free power to form the heart for God's service; nay rather,
it must ever be the case with men, that they harden their heart until
another be given them from heaven; for as we are bent towards wickedness,
we shall never cease to resist God until we shall be tamed and subdued by
his hand.
    "As in the provocation", &c. It was for two reasons necessary for
them to be reminded of the disobedience of their fathers; for as they
were foolishly inflated on account of the glory of their race, they often
imitated the vices of their fathers as though they were virtues, and
defended themselves by their examples; and further, when they heard that
their fathers were so disobedient to God, they were thus more fully
taught that this admonition was not superfluous. As both these reasons
existed even in the Apostle's time, he readily accommodated to his own
purpose what had been formerly said by David, in order that those whom he
addressed might not imitate their fathers too much.
    And hence may be learnt a general truth, that we are not to defer too
much to the authority of the fathers lest it should draw us away from
Cod; for if any fathers have ever been worthy of honour, no doubt the
Jews possessed that preeminence; and yet David distinctly commanded their
children to beware of being like them. 
    And I have no doubt but that he referred to the history recorded in
Exod. 17: for David uses here the two names which Moses relates were
given to a certain place, |merivah|, Meribah, which means strife or
provocation, and |masah|, Massah, which means temptation. They tempted
God by denying that he was in the midst of them, because they were
distressed for want of water; and they also provoked him by contending
with Moses. Though indeed they gave many examples of unbelief, yet David
selected this in an especial manner, because it was more memorable then
any other, and also, because in order of time it followed for the most
part the rest, as it evidently appears from the fourth book of Moses,
where from chap. 10 to 20 a series of many temptations is described; but
this narrative is given in the twentieth chapter. This circumstance
increased not a little the atrocity of their wickedness; for they had
often experienced the power of God, and yet they perversely contended
with him, and renounced all confidence in him: how great was their
ingratitude! He then mentioned one particular instance instead of many.
=====> 3:9. "Tempted", &c. This word is to be taken in a bad sense; it
means to provoke in a proud and insulting manner, which we express in
French by saying, "defier comme en depitant". For though God had often
brought them help, yet they forgot all, and scornfully asked, where was
his power. "Proved", &c. This clause is to be thus explained, "When yet
they had proved me and seen my works". For it enhanced the guilt of their
impiety, that having been taught by so many evidences of divine power,
they had made so bad a progress. For it was a marvellous supineness and
stupidity to esteem God's power as nothing, which had been so fully
    "Forty years". These are connected by David with what follows. But we
know that the Apostles in quoting passages attend more to the general
meaning than to the words. And no doubt God complained that the people
had been vexatious to him for forty years, because so many benefits had
availed nothing for the purpose of teaching them; for though God did good
continually to them who were wholly unworthy, they yet never ceased to
rise up against him. Hence arose his continual indignation, as though he
had said "Not once or for a short time have they provoked me, but by
their incessant wickedness for forty years." "Generation" means race, or
men of one age.
=====> 3:10. "And I said", &c. This was God's sentence, by which he
declared that they were destitute of a sound mind, and he adds the
reason, "For they have not known my ways". In short, he regarded them as
past hope, for they were without sense and reason. And here he assumed
the character of man, who at length after long trials declares that he
has discovered obstinate madness, for he says that they always went
astray, and no hope of repentance appeared.

=====> 3:11. "So I sware", &c. It was the punishment of their madness,
that they were deprived of the rest promised them. Moreover, the Lord
calls the land, where they might have had their dwelling, "his rest". For
they had been sojourners in Egypt and wanderers in the wilderness; but
the land of Canaan was to be, according to the promise, their perpetual
inheritance; and it was in reference to this promise that God called it
his rest: for nowhere can we have a settled dwelling, except where we are
fixed by his hand. But their right to a sure possession was founded on
what God said to Abraham, "To thy seed will I give this land." (Gen. 12:
    By God swearing, "If they shall enter", &c., the atrocity of their
evil conduct is made more evident and is more forcibly set forth, for it
is an evidence of wrath greatly inflamed. "If they shall enter," is in
the form of an oath, in which something is to be understood, as an
imprecation, or some such thing, when men speak; but when God speaks, it
is the same as though he said, "Let me not be deemed true,", or, "Let me
not be hereafter believed, if such a thing shall not be so." However,
this defective mode of speaking recommends fear and reverence to us, so
that we may not rashly swear, as many do, who are often in the habit of
pouring forth dreadful curses.
    But as to the present passage, we ought not to think that they were
then for the first time denied entrance into the land by God's oath, when
they tempted him in Rephidim; for they had long before been excluded,
even from the time they had refused to march forward at the report of the
spies. God then does not here ascribe their expulsion from the land to
this instance of tempting him as to the first cause; but he intimates
that by no chastisement could they have been restored to a sound mind,
but that they continually added new offenses: and thus he shows that they
fully deserved to be thus severely punished, for they never ceased to
increase more and more his wrath by various sins, as though he had said,
"This is the generation to which I denied the possession of the promised
land, for during whole forty years afterwards it betrayed its obstinate
madness by innumerable sins."
=====> 3:12. "Take heed", (or see,) "brethren, lest there be at any time
in any of you a wicked heart of unbelief", &c. I have preferred to retain
literally what the Apostle states, rather than to give a paraphrase as to
the wicked or depraved "heart of unbelief", by which he intimates that
unbelief would be connected with depravity or wickedness, if after having
received the knowledge of Christ they departed from his faith. For he
addressed them who had been imbued with the elements of Christianity;
hence he immediately added, "By departing"; for the sin of defection is
accompanied with perfidy.
=====> 3:13. He also pointed out the remedy, so that they might not fall
into this wickedness, and that was, to "exhort one another". For as by
nature we are inclined to evil, we have need of various helps to retain
us in the fear of God. Unless our faith be now and then raised up, it
will lie prostrate; unless it be warmed, it will be frozen; unless it be
roused, it will grow torpid. He would have us then to stimulate one
another by mutual exhortations, so that Satan may not creep into our
hearts, and by his fallacies draw us away from God. And this is a way of
speaking that ought to be especially observed; for we fall not
immediately by the first assault into this madness of striving against
God; but Satan by degrees accosts us artfully by indirect means, until he
holds us ensnared in his delusions. Then indeed being blinded, we break
forth into open rebellion.
    We must then meet this danger in due time, and it is one that is nigh
us all, for nothing is more possible than to be deceived; and from this
deception comes at length hardness of heart. We hence see how necessary
it is for us to be roused by the incessant goads of exhortations. Nor
does the Apostle give only a general precept, that all should take heed
to themselves, but he should have them also to be solicitous for the
salvations of every member, so that they should not suffer any of those
who had been once called to perish through their neglect, and he who
feels it his duty so to watch over the salvation of the whole flock as to
neglect no one sheep, performs in this case the office of a good
    "While it is called today". He now applies what David said more
particularly to his own subjects; for he reminds us that the word
"today", mentioned in the Psalm, ought not to be confined to the age of
David, but that it comprehends every time in which God may address us. As
often, then, and as long as he opened his sacred mouth to teach us, let
this sentence come to our minds, "Today, if ye will hear his voice". In
the same way Paul teaches us that when the Gospel is preached to us, it
is the accepted time in which God hears us, and the Day of salvation in
which he helps us. (2 Cor. 6: 2.)
    Now, of this opportunity we ought to avail ourselves; for if through
our sloth we suffer it to pass by, we shall hereafter in vain deplore its
loss. So Christ says, "Walk while ye have the light; come shortly shall
the night." (John 12: 35.) 
    The particle "while", then, or as long as, intimates that, The
seasonable time will not continue always, if we be too slothful to follow
when the Lord calls us. God non knocks at our door; unless we open to him
he will no doubt in his turn close against us the gate of his kingdom. In
a word, too late will be their groans who desr1ise the grace offered to
them today. As, then, we know not whether God will extend his calling to
tomorrow, let us not delay. Today he calls us; let us immediately respond
to him, for there is no faith except where there is such a readiness to

=====> 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning
of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
3:15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your
hearts, as in the provocation.
3:16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that
came out of Egypt by Moses.
3:17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? [was it] not with them
that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?
3:18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but
to them that believed not?
3:19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

=====> 3:14. "For we are made partakers", &c. He commends them for having
begun well; but lest, under the pretext of the grace which they had
obtained, they should indulge themselves in carnal security, he says that
there was need of perseverance; for many having only tasted the Gospel,
do not think of any progress as though they had reached the summit. Thus
it is that they not only stop in the middle of their race, yea, nigh the
starting-posts, but turn another way. Plausible indeed is this objection,
"What can we wish more after having found Christ?" But if he is possessed
by faith, we must persevere in it, so that he may be our perpetual
possession. Christ then has given himself to be enjoyed by us on this
condition, that by the same faith by which we have been admitted into a
participation of him, we are to preserve so great a blessing even to
    Hence he says "beginning", intimating that their faith was only
begun. As "hypostasis" sometimes means "confidence", it may be so taken
here; yet the term "substance, as some have rendered it, I do not
dislike, though I explain it in a way somewhat different. They think that
faith is thus called, because the whole of what man may have without it
is nothing but vanity; but I so regard it, because we recumb on it alone,
as there is no other support on which we can rely. And suitable to this
view is the word "steadfast" or firm; for we shall be firmly fixed and
beyond the danger of vacillating, provided faith be our foundation. The
sum of the whole then is, that faith whose beginnings only appear in us,
is to make constant and steady progress to the end.
=====> 3:15. "While it is said", &c. He intimates that the reason for
making progress never ceases as long as we live, because God calls us
daily. For since faith responds to the preaching of the Gospel, as
preaching continues through the whole course of our life, so we ought to
continue growing in faith. The phrase, then, "while it is said", is the
same as though he had said, "Since God never makes an end of speaking, it
is not enough for us readily to receive his doctrine, except we exhibit
the same teachableness and obedience tomorrow and every following day."
=====> 3:16. "For some, when they had heard", &c. David spoke of the
fathers as though that whole generation were unbelieving; but it appears
that some who truly feared Go mingled with the wicked. The apostle
mentions this to modify what had been more severely said by David, in
order that we may know that the word is preached to all for this end,
that all may obey it with one consent, and that the whole people were
justly condemned for unbelief, when the body was torn and mutilated by
the defection of the greatest part.
    But by saying that some "provoked", while yet they were by far the
greatest part, this object was not only to avoid giving offence, but also
to encourage the Jews to imitate those who believed; as though he had
said, "As God forbids you to follow the unbelief of the fathers, so he
sets before you other fathers whose faith is to be your example". This is
mitigated what otherwise might have appeared too hard; that is, had they
been commanded wholly to dissent from their fathers. To "come out by
Moses", means by the hand of Moses, for he was the minister of their
deliverance. But there is an implied comparison between the benefit which
God had bestowed on them by Moses, and the participation of Christ
previously mentioned.
=====> 3:17. "But with whom was he grieved", or angry, &c. He means that
God had never been angry with his people except for just causes, as Paul
also reminds us in 1 Cor. 10: 5, 6. Therefore as many chastisements of
God as we read were inflicted on the ancient people, so many grievous
sins shall we find which provoked God's vengeance. At the same time we
must come to this conclusion, that unbelief was the chief of all their
evils; for though he mentions this the last, he yet means that it was the
primary cause of their curse; and no doubt from the time they once became
unbelievers, they never ceased to add one sin to another, and thus they
brought on themselves new scourges continually. Hence those very persons
who through unbelief rejected the possession of the land offered to them,
pursued their own obstinacy, now lusting, then murmuring, now committing
adultery, then polluting themselves with heathen superstitions, so that
their depravity became more fully manifested.
    The unbelief, then, which they showed from the beginning, prevented
them from enjoying the kindness of God; for the contempt of his word ever
led them to sin. And as at first they deserved through their unbelief
that God should deprive them of the promised rest, so whatever sin they
committed afterwards flowed from the same fountain.
    It may be further asked, whether Moses, and Aaron, and those like
them, were included in this number? To this I answer, that the Apostle
speaks of the whole community rather than of individuals. It is certain
that there were many godly men who were either not entangled in the
general impiety or soon repented. Moses' faith was once shaken and only
once, and that for a moment. The Apostle's words, therefore, contain a
statement of the whole instead of a part, a mode of speaking frequently
employed when a multitude or body of people are spoken of.

Chapter 4

=====> 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left [us] of
entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the
word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them
that heard [it].

=====> 4:1. "Let us therefore fear", &c. He concludes that there was
reason to fear lest the Jews to whom he was writing should be deprived of
the blessing offered to them; and then he says, "lest anyone", intimating
that it was his anxious desire to lead them, one and all, to God; for it

(continued in part 6...)

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