Thursday, October 10, 2013
Hebrews Chapter Three Part 1
3:1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus
This verse is a succinct appeal for the believer (the writer’s brethren) to consider Jesus Christ. The Greek word for “consider” is “kataneuo” and means “the action of the mind in apprehending certain facts about a thing.” This same verb is used once more in Hebrews in regards to our fellow Christians when we read: “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,” Hebrews 10:24.
The word suggests entrance into a deeper state of understanding than we presently possess in order to better function or interact with the object in question. With our brethren we are to consider them in the respect that we become part of their life, interested in their pursuits, close without pretending. In Christ it means that we are to consider Him, in this verse, as both an Apostle and the High Priest of our profession.
The Christians who first read this epistle were partakers of the heavenly calling, but by virtue of their conduct were not always partakers (partners or fellow laborers) of Christ. It is as though we have entered a massive inheritance, an incredible fortune that has been freely given us, but with it comes the responsibility of knowing the giver’s will and furthermore executing it. Some Christians perish for lack of knowledge. They have been saved by grace through faith and enter into eternal life, but partly through their own fault and partly through poor teaching, they learn little about their Lord. Some Christians perish for lack of execution. They are stalwart towers of theological knowledge. They are reservoirs of doctrine, dead languages, creeds and confessions. But all of this does not enter into practical, daily living and thus they never become partakers of Christ, bearing fruit for eternal life. They become highly skilled at telling others what ought to be done, but are so busy with the telling that they forget the doing. I counsel all Christians to be more in mind like the latter than the former, but more in heart like a true disciple. Disciples were known in the first century for emulating Christ very closely in their conduct and deeds, which is one reason, I am sure, they were called “Christians.” It sounds like a name that might have begun as a mockery toward those who followed, “the Way.”
Notice how the writer draws our attention to the simple fact that Jesus Christ is our High Priest. This is one reason I believe the concept of clergy/laity and even pastor/congregation is not correct for the church. There is one teacher and all are brethren. The OT priesthood had a high priest and a body of priests from Levi that were elevated and separated from the rest of the people. I do not believe Jesus intended to replicate this model for the church, but to set it down and put it away, since the priesthood was a reflection of all Christians, with the high priest a shadow of Himself. In the final book in the NT canon we are twice reminded that all Christians are priests to God, Revelation 1:6; 5:10. A ruling body of elders removes the elevation of any one individual assuming the mantle of power. Power corrupts, and left in the hands of the few, it indeed corrupts absolutely. Rome, as well as many “organized” churches and denominations clearly reveal the damage this has done.