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Chapter 3

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  Heb 3:1-6

1 Therefore, holy brethren, who share in a heavenly call, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession. 2 He was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in God’s house. 3 Yet Jesus has been counted worthy of as much more glory than Moses as the builder of a house has more honor than the house. 4 (For every house is built by some one, 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 was faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if we hold fast our confidence and pride in our hope.

155. – As was said above, the Old Law derived its authority from three sources, namely, from angels, from Moses, and from Aaron, the high priest. But the Apostle preferred Christ, the Author of the New Testament, to the angels through whom the Law was given. Here he intends to prefer Him to Moses, who was the promulgator and, as it were, the lawgiver of the Old Testament. In regard to this he does two things: first, he prefers Christ to Moses; secondly, he concludes from this that Christ is most deserving of obedience (v. 7). In regard to the first he does two things: first, he mentions Christ’s dignity; secondly, he shows what is common to Christ and Moses (v. 3). In regard to the first he does two things: First, he describes the condition of those to whom he speaks; secondly, of the one of whom he speaks (v. 3b).

156. – He describes those to whom he speaks, first, from their charity; hence, he says, brethren, as if to say: Because you are brothers of Christ and of one another: ‘All you are brothers’ (Mt. 23:8); ‘He is not ashamed to call them brethren’ (above 2:11). But charity causes this brotherhood: ‘Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity’ (Ps. 132:1). Secondly, he describes them from their sanctity when he says, holy; and this because they receive the sacraments by which we are made holy: ‘But you are washed, but you are sanctified’ (1 Cor. 6:11). Thirdly, he describes them from their vocation when he says, who share in a heavenly call. Now this call can be understood to be heavenly in two ways: by reason of its end or by reason of its source. By reason of the end, because they are not called to an earthly reward as in the Old Testament, but to a heavenly kingdom: ‘He has called you to his kingdom and glory’ (1 Th. 2:12); ‘Who called us from darkness into his marvelous light’ (1 Pt. 2:9). By reason of its source, because it is not due to our merits but to grace: ‘He called us by his grace’ (Gal. 1:15); ‘Who has raised up the just one from the east, has called him to follow him’ (Is. 41:2). But he says, who share in, because not only the Jews have been called to the faith and the New Testament, but also the Gentiles: ‘who has made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light’ (Col. 1:12). Therefore, because you have charity and are saints and called to heavenly things, you should gladly hear one speak of Him through Whom those things come to you.

157. – Then he describes Him of Whom he speaks when he says, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession: ‘Look on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith’ (Heb. 12:2). For the Apostle prefers Christ to Moses and Aaron and, therefore, ascribes to Him the dignity of both: of Moses, because He was sent by God: ‘He sent Moses, his servant’ (Ps. 104:26); of Aaron, because he was a high priest: ‘Take unto you also Aaron, your brother with his sons from among the children of Israel, that they may minister to me in the priest’s office’ (Ex. 28:1). But Christ was sent in a more excellent manner than Moses: ‘I beseech the Lord, send whom you will send’ (Ex. 4:13). As if to say: You will send one more worthy. He will be a high priest and a prophet: ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedech’ (Ps. 104:4). No need to consider that apostle, i.e., Moses, and the high priest Aaron; but consider the apostle and high priest of our confession, i.e., Him Whom we confess. For it is necessary to salvation to confess Him: ‘With the heart we believe unto justice; but with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation’ (Rom. 10:10). Or of confession, i.e., of the spiritual sacrifice. For every priest is ordained to offer sacrifice. But there are two kinds of sacrifice, namely, the corporal or temporal, for which Aaron was appointed; the other is spiritual, which consists in the confession of faith: ‘A sacrifice of praise will honor me’ (Ps. 49:25). For this sacrifice Christ was appointed: ‘I desire not holocausts of rams and fat of fatlings and blood of calves and lambs and buck goats’ (Is. 1:11). Then he continues: ‘Offer sacrifice no more in vain.’

158. – Then (v. 2) he compares Christ to Moses; first, he mentions that in which they agree; secondly, that in which Christ excels Moses (v. 3).

159. – What is common to Christ and Moses is fidelity to God; hence he says, He was faithful to him who appointed him. Here it should be noted that everything said here of Moses is based on the statement found in Num. (12:7), where the Lord shows the excellence of Moses, after Aaron and Miriam spoke against him. We find these words, which the Apostle cites here: ‘If there be among you a prophet of the Lord, I will appear to him in a vision or I will speak to him in a dream. But it is not so with my servant Moses, who is most faithful in all my house’ (Num. 12:7). Here we find Moses commended more highly than in any other place in the Bible. Therefore, the Apostle accepts this as the highest commendation of Moses. But this can apply to Christ and to Moses: that it is true of Moses is clear from history. But it is true of Christ, because as man He is faithful to Him Who appointed Him, namely, to God the Father, Who made him an apostle and high priest, not, of course, according to His divine nature, because in that way He was not made or created, but begotten; but according to the human: ‘Who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh’ (Rom. 1:3). But He was faithful to God the Father, first, by not attributing to Himself what He had, but to the Father: ‘My doctrine is not mine’ (Jn. 6:16). Secondly, He sought the Father’s glory and not His own: ‘He that seeks the glory of him that sent him, he is true, and there is no injustice in him’ (Jn. 7:18). Thirdly, because He obeyed the Father perfectly: ‘He was made obedient unto death’ (Phil. 2:8). Therefore, Christ is faithful to Him Who made Him, as Moses was, and this is God’s house—this house being the totality of the faithful: ‘Holiness becomes your house, O Lord, unto length of days’ (Ps. 93:5). Or, in all of God’s house, i.e., in the whole world and not only in Judea, as Moses: ‘I have given you to be the light of the Gentiles, that you may be my salvation even to the farthest part of the earth’ (Is. 49:6).

160. – Then (v. 3) he prefers Christ to Moses in two respects; first, as to power; secondly, as to condition (v. 3b). But in commending Christ, he commends Him as having honor in all His house, as Moses had: Yet Christ excels him: first, he gives the reason; secondly, he explains it (v. 4).

161. – But the Apostle’s reason is that more glory is due Him Who built the house, than to him that dwells in it. But Christ built the house: ‘You have made the morning light and the sun’ (Ps. 73:16); ‘Wisdom has built herself a house’, i.e., the Church (Pr. 9:1). For Christ by Whom grace and truth came, built the Church, as legislator; but Moses, as promulgator of the Law: therefore, it is only as promulgator that glory is due Moses. Hence, his face became bright: ‘So that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance’ (2 Cor. 3:7). Therefore, the sequence of thought is this: You say that Christ is faithful as Moses was. Why then overlook Him? Certainly this man was counted worthy of greater glory than Moses, by so much as he that has built the house has greater honor than the house. As if to say: Even though Moses deserves mention, Christ is more honorable, because He is the builder of the house and the chief lawgiver: ‘Behold, God is high in his strength, and none is like him among the lawgivers’ (Jb. 36:22). Therefore, if Moses is deserving of glory, Christ is more deserving: ‘For is the ministration of condemnation be in glory, much more the ministration of justice abounds in glory’ (2 Cor. 3:9).

162. – Then he proves the minor premise of his reason when he says: For every house is built by some man. But the minor is that Christ built that house. He proves this, first, because every house needs a builder; secondly, because the house of which he speaks was built by Christ, the builder of all things is God.

163. – First, therefore, he proves that this house, as any other, needs a builder, because its various parts are put together by someone. This is obvious in a structure in which the wood and stones, of which it is composed, are united by someone. But the assembly of the faithful, which is the Church and the house of God, is composed of various elements, namely, Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free. Therefore, the church, as any other house, is put together by someone. He gives only the conclusion of this syllogism, supposing the truth of the premises as evident: ‘Be you also as living stones built up, a spiritual house, a holy priesthood’ (1 Pt. 2:5); ‘Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone’ (Eph. 2:20).

164. – Then (v. 4b) he proves that Christ is the builder of that house, for He is God, the builder of all things. And if this is understood of the whole world, it is plain: ‘He spoke and they were made; he commanded and they were created’ (Ps. 32:9) But there is another spiritual creation, which is made by the Spirit: ‘Send forth your spirit, and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth’ (Ps. 104:30). This is brought about by God through Christ: ‘Of his own will has he begotten us by the word of truth, that we might be some beginning of his creature’ (Jas. 1:18); ‘We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus in good works’ (Eph. 2:10). Therefore, God created that house, namely, the Church, from nothing, namely, from the state of sin to the state of grace. Therefore, Christ, by Whom He made all things, ‘by whom also he made the world’ (Heb. 1:2), is more excellent (since He has the power to make) than Moses, who was only the announcer.

165. – Then (v. 5) he prefers Christ to Moses in regard to their state. In regard to this he does two things: first, he states his reason; secondly, he explains it (v. 6b).

166. – His reasoning is this: It is obvious that the master is of more value in his own house than a servant in the master’s house. But Moses was faithful as a servant in the house of his master, but Christ as the master in His own house, therefore, etc. Here it should be noted how carefully the Apostle notes the words written of Moses, in which things are said of him: for he is called a servant and he is called faithful, not in his own house, but in the house of our Lord. And in regard to those two things he prefers Christ to Moses: first, he shows what is true of Moses; secondly, of Christ (v. 6).

167. – He says, therefore, that Moses was faithful as a servant, i.e., as a faithful dispenser: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant: because you have been faithful over a few things, I will place you over many things’ (Mt. 25:21). But Christ is a servant in a sense, namely, according to the flesh: ‘Taking the form of a servant’ (Phil. 2:7). But Moses was God’s servant in proposing God’s words to the children of Israel. From this it is clear that because he was a faithful servant, the things he said were ordained to another, namely, to Christ: to testify to the things which were to be spoken later: ‘If you did believe Moses, you would perhaps believe me also; for he wrote of me’ (Jn. 5:46). Therefore, because he was a servant, he was not in his own house but in another’s house, and because of the things he said were a testimony of those thing which were to be said of Christ, Moses was in respects lower than Christ.

168. – Then (v. 6), But Christ was faithful over God’s house as a son, he shows what belongs to Christ, namely, that Christ is not as a servant but as a Son in His Father’s house and, consequently, in His own, because He is the natural heir: ‘Whom he has appointed heir of all things, by Whom also he made the world’ (Heb. 1:2). For the Church is Christ’s house: ‘A wise woman builds her house’ (Pr. 14:1); ‘The Lord has said to me: You are my son, this day have I begotten you’ (Ps. 2:7); ‘My beloved son in whom I am well pleased’ (Mt. 3:17). Therefore, He is not a servant but a Son, and in His own house, whereas Moses is a servant in another’s house: ‘The son abides forever’ (Jn. 8:55).

169. – Then when he says, We are his house, he shows what that house is; for that house is the faithful, who are the house of Christ, because they believe in Christ: ‘In the house of God which is the Church’ (1 Tim. 3:15) and also because Christ dwells in them: ‘That Christ may dwell by faith in your hearts’ (Eph. 3:17). Therefore, this house is we, the faithful. But in order that we be the house of God four things are required, which are necessary in a house and are not in a tent: first, that our hope and faith be firm and permanent; but a tent, even though it be form, can be quickly moved and signifies those who believe for a while, but in time of temptation fall away. But they are the house who retain the word of God. Therefore, he says, if we hold fast our confidence. For it has been stated above that confidence is hope with firm expectation and without fear: ‘And such confidence we have thorough Christ towards God’ (2 Cor. 3:4). Secondly, that it be properly ordained; therefore, he says, and pride in our hope, i.e., ordained to the glory of God, so that scorning all else, we may take pride in the hope of glory: ‘Let him who glories, glory in knowing and having known me’ (Jer. 9:14). Thirdly, that it be preserving; hence, he says, unto the end: ‘He that perseveres to the end, he shall be saved’ (Mt. 10:22). Fourthly, that it be firm and not dislodged by any adversity; hence, he says, hold fast: ‘Who have fled for refuge to hold fast the hope set before us, which we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm’ (Heb. 6:18).



            Heb 3:7-11

7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, when you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. 10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their hearts; they have not known my ways.’ 11 As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

170. – Having proved that Christ is greater than Moses, the Apostle now concludes that Christ is more deserving of our obedience. He does this by the authority of David the prophet in Psalm 94. He does three things: first, he proposes the authority which contains an exhortation; secondly, he explains it (v. 12); thirdly, he argues from the authority and the explanation (chap. 4). In regard to the first he does three things: first, he hints at the authority of the following words; secondly, he makes the exhortation which is the authority (v. 7b); thirdly, he presents a similitude (v. 8b).

171. – The authority of the words consists in the fact that they were not uttered by human lips, but by the Holy Spirit; hence, he says, Wherefore, as the Holy Spirit says. As if to say: Christ has more grace than Moses. Therefore, if we hearken to Moses, we ought not harden our hearts against hearing Christ. But he cites the words of the Old Testament for the New, lest anyone suppose that they refer only to the Old Testament; for they should be referred also to the New and to another time. They are the words of the Holy Spirit, because, as it says in 2 Pt. (1:21): ‘Prophecy came not by the will of man at any time, but the holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Spirit.’ For David himself says of himself: ‘The spirit of the Lord spoke through me’ (2 Sam. 23: 2). Therefore, in this he shows that the authority is true, because it is from the Holy Spirit—against the Manicheans.

172. – Then (v. 7b) he gives the admonition in which he does three things: first, he describes the time; secondly, he mentions the benefit (v. 7b) thirdly, the admonition (v. 8).

173. – The time is today, i.e., day time. For the time of the Old Law was called night, because it was a time of shadows: ‘For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come’ (below 10:1). But the time of the New Testament, because it repels the shadow of the night of the Law, is called day: ‘The night is passed, the day is at hand’ (Rom. 13:12). That time is called day, because it witnessed the rising of the sun of justice: ‘But unto you that fear my name, the Sun of justice shall arise’ (Mal 4:2). This day is not succeeded by night, but by a clearer day, namely, when we shall see the Sun of justice with His face revealed, when we shall see Him by His essence.

174. – And in this day a benefit will be given to us. For he continues, when you hear his voice, because we hear His voice, which was not true of the Old Testament, in which the words of the prophets were heard: ‘In times past God spoke to the Son’ (Heb. 1:1); ‘Therefore, my people shall know my name in that day, because it was I myself that spoke, behold, I am here’ (Is. 52:6); ‘Let your voice sound on my ears’ (S of S 2:14). For in this the benefit so long desired is shown to us: ‘If you had known and in this your day, the things that are to your peace’ (Lk. 19:42).

175. – Therefore, if that is the benefit, here is the admonition, harden not your hearts. For a hard heart smacks of evil. That is hard which does not yield, but resists and does not receive an impression. Therefore, man’s heart is hard, when it does not yield to God’s command nor easily receive divine impressions: ‘A hard heart shall fear evil at the last’ (Sir. 3:27); But according to your hardness and impenitent heart, you treasure up to yourself wrath against the day of wrath’ (Rom. 2:5). But this hardening is caused by two things: first, by God not offering grace: ‘He has mercy on whom he will, and whom he wills, he hardens’ (Rom. 9:18); secondly, by the sinner hardening himself by not obeying God and by not opening his heart to grace: ‘And they made their heart as the adamant stone, lest they should hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts sent in his spirit by the hand of the former prophets’ (Zech 7:12). Therefore, harden not your hearts i.e., do not close your hearts to the Holy Spirit: ‘You always resist the Holy Spirit’ (Ac. 7:51).

176. – Then he presents the resemblance when he says, as in the rebellion. This is a resemblance based on a past event: for the faithful are instructed about the things to be done in the New Testament from the things that occurred in the past, as Rom. (15:4) testifies: ‘What things soever were written, were written for our learning.’ In regard to this he does two things: first, he gives an example in general by citing their guilt; secondly, he gives specific examples (v. 9).

177. – If we are to follow the Apostle’s explanation, we must use the senses which fit the explanation. Thus we read that among others there were two sins committed by the Jews which were severely punished: one was the disobedience of the spies mentioned in Num. (13 & 14), for which the Lord wished to wipe out the people. Hence, He swore that no one but Caleb and Joshua would enter the promised land. He calls this a rebellion, because, although they had offended God in other ways, this sin was particularly bitter; for just as bitter fruit, not being ripe, is not suitable for eating, so then God’s anger was inflexible: ‘How often did they provoke him in the desert, and move him to wrath in the place without water’ (Ps. 77:40)? ‘You have provoked him who made you’ (Bar. 4:7). The other sin was that of tempting God. For they frequently tempted Him, sometimes for water, sometimes for meat, and sometimes for bread, so that they tempted Him ten times: ‘They have tempted me now ten times’ (Num. 14:22); ‘Behold, these ten times you confound me’ (Jb. 19:2). Hence he says, in the day of testing. But someone might suppose the signs of rebellion and testing are the same, and that the Apostle should say: ‘Harden not your hearts as in the rebellion, which occurred in the day of testing.’ But this does not agree with the Apostle’s explanation. Therefore, we should say, Harden not your hearts as in the rebellion, and again, as in the day of testing, so that there are two sins; hence, Ps. 77 (v. 41) says: ‘And they turned back and tempted God; and grieved the Holy One of Israel.’

178. – Then (v. 9) he considers their specific sins. In regard to this he does two things: first, he mentions the sin of testing; secondly, the sin of rebellion (v. 10b). In regard to the first he does three things: first, he mentions the sin of testing; secondly, he shows its gravity (v. 9b); thirdly, the punishment (v. 10).

179. – He says, therefore, that they were guilty of the sin of testing Him in the desert, because your fathers tempted me there; and I speak in the Lord’s person. Here it should be noted that temptation is an act of testing about something one does not know. Hence, it is from unbelief that a person tempts God, yet it should be noted that sometimes one tempts God, not with the intention of trying and testing, although it is done after the manner of testing. For one who uses an object of his own, because it is useful, is not, properly speaking, testing it; for example, if someone fleeing were to ride on his own horse he would be testing it, but not with the intention of testing; but when his action is useless, then he is testing. Likewise, if someone were to expose himself to danger, compelled by necessity in the hope of divine help, he would not be tempting God; but if without necessity, he would be tempting God; hence the Lord says in Mt. (4:7): ‘You shall not tempt the Lord, your God’, because there was not need to cast Himself down. So, they tempted the Lord, because they doubted His power, complaining against Moses, as if the Lord could not give them food, even though they had witnessed His power in greater matters; therefore, they were guilty of the sin of unbelief, which is the greatest.

180. – Then he mentions the gravity of their sin when he says, they proved and saw my works. For the greater the benefits one receives from God and the greater the certitude he has of God’s power, if he later doubts, he sins more gravely. But they had seen signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, the dividing of the sea, and other miracles, and yet they did not believe; hence, it is stated in Num. (14:22): ‘Yet all the men that have seen my majesty and the signs that I have done in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now ten times, have not obeyed my voice’. Hence he said, proved, i.e., wished to experience, and saw, i.e., experienced my works, i.e., effects which not have taken place, unless they had been performed by one with infinite power. And all this not for one day, but for forty years, during which they remained in the desert, because they always had manna and the pillar of fire and the cloud. Or, they proved and saw me, because He never failed them.

181. – Then (v. 10b) he describes the punishment for their sin. For which cause, i.e., for which sin, I was provoked, i.e., outraged: not that there is anger in God except metaphorically, because He punishes as one in anger does. This punishment is frequently mentioned in Exodus and Numbers, for they were often prostrated. Hence in 1 Cor. (10:5) he speaks of the punishment of that sin. Or I was near, namely, by punishing them. For when the Lord helps the good and punishes the wicked, He is near them; but when He conceals men’s sins because they repent, and dissembles the affliction of the just in order that their merit may increase, then He seems to be far away: ‘The clouds are his covert, and he does not consider our things, and he walks about the poles of heaven’ (Jb. 22:14). Or, near, in regard to divine mercy, because the fact that he punishes them in this life is a sign of great mercy: ‘Here burn, here cut, but spare me in eternity’ (Augustine).

182. – Then (v. 10c) he describes the sin of provocation in detail. And this is clear from (v. 11). In regard to this he does two things: first, he mentions the sin; secondly, he adds the punishment (v. 11). In regard to the first he does two things: first, he mentions their persistence in evil; secondly, their departure from the good (v. 10d).

183. – He says, therefore, I was always near them, namely, by punishing them, and I said, namely, in the eternal plan: They always go astray in heart: ‘You have always been rebellious against the Lord’ (Dt. 31:27); ‘If the Ethiopian can change his skin, or the leopard his spots: you also may do well, when you have learned evil’ (Jer. 13:23). Thus, therefore, a person provokes God in one way, when he obstinately clings to evil; in another way when he scorns the good. Hence, he says, They have not known my ways, i.e. not with simple ignorance, but affected. The sin, therefore, is this: they have not known, i.e., they refused to know: ‘We desire not the knowledge of your ways’ (Jb. 21:14); ‘He would not understand that he might do well’ (Ps. 34:4). Or, they have not known, i.e., they have not approved, as the Apostle says: ‘The Lord knows who are his’ (2 Tim. 2:19).

184. – Then he shows the punishment when he says: As I have sworn in my wrath: they shall never enter my rest. In these words he suggests immutability; for when God or an angel swears, it is a sign of the unchangeableness of that concerning which He swears: ‘The Lord has sworn and he will not repent’ (Ps. 110:4). Yet at times He swears only conditionally, because if He did not repent, these evils would come upon them. Then he suggests that that punishment is not given as a threat but is aimed at their destruction, because he says, in his wrath: ‘Lord, chastise me not in your wrath’ (Ps. 6:2). Therefore, He swore in His wrath, they shall never enter my rest. Now there is threefold rest: one is temporal: ‘You have much goods laid up for many years: take your rest; eat, drink, make good cheer’ (Lk. 12:19). The second is the rest of conscience: ‘I have labored a little and have found much rest to myself’ (Sir. 51:35). The third is the rest of eternal glory: ‘In peace in the self-same. I will sleep and I will rest’ (Ps. 4:9). Therefore, what is stated here can be explained in each of these ways, namely, they have not entered the rest of the promised land or the rest of conscience or the rest of eternal happiness.



            Heb 3:12-19

12 Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end, 15 while it is said, “Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” 16 Who were they that heard and yet were rebellious? Was it not all those who left Egypt under the leadership of Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they should never enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

185. – Above, the Apostle showed on the authority of the Psalmist that Christ must be obeyed strictly. In that authority he found three things, namely, the exhortation, the guilt, and the punishment. These he now explains in that order: first, the exhortation; secondly, the guilt (v. 16); thirdly, the punishment (v. 18). In regard to the first he does two things: first, he exhorts them to be carefully attentive; secondly, to mutual exhortation (v. 12).

186. – He says, therefore, take care. For every man should consider the state in which he is: ‘Let everyone prove his own work’ (Gal. 6:4); ‘See your ways in the valley’ (Jer. 2:23). Take care therefore, brethren, each one to himself, because each is part of the assembly, and ‘to each one God gave commandment concerning his neighbor’ (Sir. 19:12): take care, i.e., let one prove the other, lest there be in any of you an evil unbelieving heart leading you to fall away form the living God. As if to say: many of you are in a perfect state, yet because of weakness and free will, there could be evil in some of you: ‘Behold, they that serve him are not steadfast; and in his angels he found wickedness. How much more shall they that dwell in houses of clay, who have an earthly foundation’ (Jb. 4:18-19)? ‘Have I not chosen you twelve and one of you is a devil’ (Jn. 6:71). Therefore no one should be solicitous for himself only, but also for each member of his group. But why? Lest there be in any of you an evil unbelieving heart. This is the evil about which the Apostle speaks, namely, an unbelieving heart, i.e., not firm in faith. In this does wickedness consist, because just as the soul’s good consists in clinging to God, ‘It is good for me to adhere to my God’ (Ps. 72:27), through faith, so man’s evil consists in withdrawing from God: ‘Know and see that it is an evil and a bitter thing for you to have left the Lord, your God’ (Jer. 2:19). And again he says, of falling away, because one departs by unbelief, from the living God: ‘They have forsaken me, the fountain of living water’ (Jer. 2:15). But he says, from the living God, because He is life in Himself and is the life of the soul: ‘In him was life’ (Jn. 1:4). He says this to show that by withdrawing from God, man incurs spiritual death.

187. – But if that evil should be found in anyone, should he despair? No; he should be admonished all the more. Therefore, he says, but exhort one another every day, i.e., continually, namely, by discussing your conscience and by exhorting to good, as long as it is called today, i.e., while the present time of grace lasts: ‘I must work the works of him that sent me, whilst it is day’ (Jn. 9:4). And this in order that none of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For, as has been stated above, the heart is hardened by persisting in evil. But a person clings to sin because he is deceived. Or, it is natural for the appetite to cling to the good; but it withdraws from good, because it is deceived: ‘They err who work evil’ (Pr. 14:22); ‘I have strayed form the path of truth’ (Wis. 5:6).

188. – Then (v. 14) he explains their condition. As if to say: That condition is more powerful than the other, because they only hear, but we share in Christ. And he speaks properly, because in the Old Testament, there was only hearing, and grace was not conferred ex opere operato; but in the New Testament there are both the hearing of faith and the grace given to the very one acting. Hence, we are partakers of grace, first, by accepting the faith: ‘That Christ by faith may dwell in your hearts’ (Eph. 3:17); secondly, by the sacraments of faith: ‘As many of you as have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ’ (Gal. 3:27); thirdly, by partaking of the body of Christ: ‘The bread which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of Christ’ (1 Cor. 10:16)?

189. – But it should be noted that there are two ways of sharing in Christ: one is imperfect through the faith and the sacraments; the other is perfect through the presence and vision of the reality. But the first we already possess in reality; the second we possess in hope. But because hope has this condition, namely, that we persevere, he says, if only we hold our first confidence firm unto the end. For whoever is baptized in Christ receives a new nature and Christ is somehow formed in him: ‘My little children, of whom I am in labor again, until Christ be formed in you’ (Gal. 4:19). This will be truly completed in us in heaven, but here it is only the beginning; and this by formed faith, because unformed faith is dead: ‘Faith without works is dead’ (Jas. 2:26). Hence, unformed faith is not a beginning of partaking of Christ, but formed faith: ‘Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for’, i.e., the foundation and the beginning.

190. – He says, therefore, we are partakers of Christ; yet so, if we hold our first confidence firm unto the end. But it seems that fear is the beginning, because it says in Ps. 110: ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.’ I answer that faith is formed by charity; but charity does not exist without chaste fear. Therefore, formed faith always has charity annexed to it. Hence, faith and fear are the beginning.

191. – Then when he says, who were they that heard, he explains what he had said about their sin. As if to say: ‘You are made partakers of Christ, if you do not harden your hearts, as they who have heard and yet were rebellious. Was it not all? No, not all; for two, namely, Caleb and Joshua remained and consoled the others. And by this we are given to understand that, since not the whole Church falls but only some, the wicked are punished, but not the good, as in those two: ‘And I will leave me seven thousand men in Israel, whose knees have not been bowed before Baal’ (1 Kg 19:18); ‘There is a remnant saved according to the election of grace’ (Rom. 11:5).

192. – Then (v. 17) he explains what he had said about the punishment. 193. – He says, therefore: With whom was he provoked forty years? Was it not with them that sinned? From this it is clear that forty years, refers to the statement, I was provoked. Hence, he says that he was offended through those forty years. Here it should be noted that all who left Egypt died in the desert, as it is stated in Jos. (5:4), but not all were laid low, but only some: either by God, as when the earth opened and swallowed Dathan and Abiram: (Ps. 77); but others were laid low by Moses, as in the construction of the golden calf (Ex. 32); still others were killed by enemies, and some died a natural death. Therefore, not all were laid low. Hence, it was not a general punishment, although it was general enough so that only two should enter the promised land.

194. – And he says of that land, and to whom did he swear, i.e., firmly decree, that they should never enter into his rest, but to them that were incredulous. Hence, it is clear that they could not enter into His rest because of their unbelief. Therefore, he says, we see, because we have experienced that they could not enter because of their unbelief. Or we see by their punishment that they could not enter because of unbelief.

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