Apostle and High Priest

In this next portion of Hebrews, we see a wonderful unity, where the writer ties together heaven and earth, Old Testament saints and New Testament saints, and Christ and Moses.

Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end

(Heb. 3:1-6).

So the brethren are holy because they are brethren together with Him. As such, we should consider (again!) our Lord Jesus Christ. We should consider Him in His offices of Apostle and High Priest. Returning to the comparison with Moses, our author tells us that both Christ and Moses were faithful “in the house.” But Christ is still much greater because there are ranks within the household. Moses was a faithful servant in the house, looking forward to the time of the heir, while Christ was both the builder of the house, and Lord over it. What is this house? The house is the people of God — both at the time of Moses, and before, and at the time of Christ, and ever since. All believers inhabit the same house. Christians are Jews and Moses was a Christian.

The phrase “apostle and high priest” is striking. This is the one place in Scripture where Christ is called an apostle, that is, one who is sent out. A “sent one” has the authority and commission of the one sending. For example, an apostle of a church is one like a missionary or church planter. And apostle of Christ is sent out by Christ and has His authority, as did the Twelve. In this instance, Christ is described as an apostle. He was sent out by God the Father, and represents God to us. At the same time, He is described as a High Priestthat is, as one of us to represent us to God. A priest is chosen from among the people and stands before them to represent them. This phrase “apostle and high priest” therefore means that Christ is the perfect bridge between God and man. As an apostle of God, He represents God perfectly to us, and as our High Priest, He represents us perfectly to God.

Just as the author was at pains to show Christ’s supremacy over the angels, so he needed to show Christ’s supremacy over Moses. This was not because he had a disparaging view of angels, or Moses, but rather because he was writing to a group of Christians in danger of going back to the old shadows of Judaism. And there, where they were being tempted to go, inflated views of angels and Moses both were held. So he continues the contrast between Moses and Christ, but not to make the point that they were on opposite sides. Such a false dichotomy existed in the minds of the apostates who fell away, but the opposition is not found in Scripture. Moses and Christ were not distinct because they were enemies; they were distinct because Christ was Lord of the house, and Moses was a servant in the house. The distinction was hierarchical. They were alike in faithfulness, and distinct in rank. But in addition to this, the author of Hebrews shows that not only was Christ greater as Lord of the house, He was also greater as the builder of the house. And the house that He built was was composed of people — including Moses.

We are that house. The Bible is very clear that we are God’s building, God’s house. As well as constituting the structure, we are also the inhabitants. For example: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are” (1 Cor. 3:16-17). “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:4-5).

Given this, what is necessary? We must hold firm to the end. We see here, stated plainly, the doctrine of perseverance. Whose house we are, if . . . Three classes of men exist. Some are never in the house. They have no connection to the Christian faith at all. Some are in the house, but only temporarily. They are covenantally connected to Christ, and the connection is a real one, but they are not elect. The true sons of the house, however, the elect of God, abide there forever. “And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Then if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8: 35-36).

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