Hebrews 3:14
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) For.—Take heed (Hebrews 3:12) lest there be anything that may lead astray, for we have become partakers of the Christ if (and only if) we hold the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end. In Hebrews 3:6, since Israel had been spoken of as God’s house, the Christian hope finds expression in “whose house are we,” Here the comparison with Israel journeying to the land of promise suggests another figure, and all blessing is summed up in becoming “partakers of the Christ,” foretold and expected as the Fulfiller of all promises. Two different words in the two verses are rendered “confidence” in the Authorised version. The former, as we have seen (Hebrews 3:6), is “boldness;” the latter (here used) is applied to men who make a firm stand when attacked, who stand firmly under pressure. In the first energy of the new life such firm constancy had been shown by them (Hebrews 10:32-34); but would it be maintained “unto the end”?

Hebrews 3:14. For we are made partakers of Christ — Of all the blessings procured by his death, and offered in his gospel, even of pardon, holiness, and eternal life; if we hold — If we retain with constancy and perseverance; the beginning of our confidence — That is, the confidence or trust we have begun to place in him; steadfast Βεβαιαν, firm; unto the end — Of our lives, whatever difficulties or oppositions may arise. Dr. Owen (who, by being partakers of Christ, understands our having an interest in his nature, by the communication of his Spirit, as Christ had in ours by the assumption of our flesh) interprets the word υποστασις, here rendered confidence, of that union which we are bound to preserve and maintain with Christ, or of our subsistence in him, our abiding in him as the branches in the vine, observing, “So the word very properly signifies, and so it is here emphatically used.” He adds, “the beginning of our subsistence in Christ, and of our engagements to him, is, for the most part, accompanied with much love and other choice affections, resolution, and courage; which, without great care and watchfulness, we are very ready to decay in and fall from.”3:14-19 The saints' privilege is, they are made partakers of Christ, that is, of the Spirit, the nature, graces, righteousness, and life of Christ; they are interested in all Christ is, in all he has done, or will do. The same spirit with which Christians set out in the ways of God, they should maintain unto the end. Perseverance in faith is the best evidence of the sincerity of our faith. Hearing the word often is a means of salvation, yet, if not hearkened to, it will expose more to the Divine wrath. The happiness of being partakers of Christ and his complete salvation, and the fear of God's wrath and eternal misery, should stir us up to persevere in the life of obedient faith. Let us beware of trusting to outward privileges or professions, and pray to be numbered with the true believers who enter heaven, when all others fail because of unbelief. As our obedience follows according to the power of our faith, so our sins and want of care are according to the prevailing of unbelief in us.For we are made partakers of Christ - We are spiritually united to the Saviour. We become one with him. We partake of his spirit and his allotments. The sacred writers are accustomed to describe the Christian as being closely united to the Saviour, and as being one with him see the John 15:1-7; John 17:21, John 17:23 notes; Ephesians 5:30 note; 1 Corinthians 12:27 note. The idea is, that we participate in all that pertains to him. It is a union of feeling and affection; a union of principle and of congeniality; a union of dependence as well as love; a union where nothing is to be imparted by us, but everything gained; and a union, therefore, on the part of the Redeemer of great condescension. It is the union of the branch to the vine, where the branch is supported and nourished by the vine, and not the union of the ivy and the oak, where the ivy has its own roots, and merely clings around the oak and climbs up upon it. What else can be said so honorable of man as that he is a "partaker of Christ;" that he shares his feelings here, and that he is to share his honors in a brighter world? Compared with this, what is it to participate with the rich and the frivolous in their pleasures; what would it be to share in the honors of conquerors and kings?

μετοχοι του Χριστου metochoi tou Christou cannot signify, as some explain, participation merely in the blessings of Christ's death, but must be referred, as our author here affirms, to the spiritual union which subsists between Christ and his people. That union doubtless involves, as necessary consequents, "a union of feeling and affection, a union of principle and congeniality, a union of dependence and love." Yet, we think, it is something more. It is a "real" and vital union, formed by the one Spirit of Christ, pervading the head and the members of the mystical body. And this is the "foundation" of all union of affection, etc. For a condensed view of the subject, see the supplementary note on Romans 8:10.)

If we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast - see the note at Hebrews 3:6. If we continue to maintain the same confidence which we had in the beginning, or which we showed at the commencement of our Christian life. At first, they had been firm in the Christian hope. They evinced true and strong attachment to the Redeemer. They were ardent and devoted to his cause. If they continued to maintain that to the end, that is, the end of life; if in the midst of all temptations and trials they adhered inflexibly to the cause of the Saviour, they would show that they were true Christians, and would partake of the blessedness of the heavenly world with the Redeemer. The idea is, that it is only perseverance in the ways of religion that constitutes certain evidence of piety. Where piety is manifested through life, or where there is an untiring devotion to the cause of God, there the evidence is clear and undoubted.

But where there is at first great ardor, zeal, and confidence, which soon dies away, then it is clear that they never had any real attachment to him and his cause. It may be remarked here, that the "beginning of the confidence" of those who are deceived, and who know nothing about religion at heart, is often as bold as where there is true piety. The hypocrite makes up in ardor what he lacks in sincerity; and he who is really deceived, is usually deceived under the influence of some strong and vivid emotion, which he mistakes for true religion. Often the sincere convert is calm, though decided, and sometimes is even timorous and doubting; while the self-deceiver is noisy in profession, and clamorous in his zeal, and much disposed to blame the lukewarmness of others. Evidence of piety, therefore, should not be built on that early zeal; nor should it be concluded that because there is ardor, there is of necessity genuine religion. Ardor is valuable, and true religion is ardent; but there is other ardor than what the gospel inspires. The evidence of genuine piety is to be found in what will bear us up under trials, and endure amidst persecution and opposition. The doctrine here is, that it is necessary to persevere if we would have the evidence of true piety. This doctrine is taught everywhere in the Scriptures. Persevere in what? I answer, not:

(1) merely in a profession of religion. A man may do that and have no piety.

(2) not in zeal for party, or sect. The Pharisees had that to the end of their lives.

(3) not in mere honesty, and correctness of external deportment. A man may do that in the church, as well as out of it, and yet have no religion.

But we should persevere:

(1) in the love of God and of Christ - in conscious, ardent, steady attachment to Him to whom our lives are professedly devoted.

(2) in the secret duties of religion. In that watchfulness over the heart; that communion with God; that careful study of the Bible; that guardianship over the temper; and in that habitual contact with God in secret prayer which is appropriate to a Christian, and which marks the Christian character.

(3) in the performance of the public duties of religion; in leading a "Christian" life - as distinguished from a life of worldliness and vanity; a life of mere morality, and honesty; a life such as thousands lead who are out of the church.

There is something which distinguishes a Christian from one who is not a Christian; a religious from an irreligious man. There is "something" in religion; "something" which serves to characterize a Christian, and unless that something is manifested, there can be no evidence of true piety. The Christian is to be distinguished in temper, feeling, deportment, aims, plans, from the people of this world - and unless those characteristics are shown in the life and deportment, there can be no well-founded evidence of religion.

Learn:

(1) that it is not mere "feeling" that furnishes evidence of religion.

continued...

14. For, &c.—enforcing the warning, Heb 3:12.

partakers of Christ—(Compare Heb 3:1, 6). So "partakers of the Holy Ghost" (Heb 6:4).

hold—Greek, "hold fast."

the beginning of our confidence—that is, the confidence (literally, substantial, solid confidence) of faith which we have begun (Heb 6:11; 12:2). A Christian so long as he is not made perfect, considers himself as a beginner [Bengel].

unto the end—unto the coming of Christ (Heb 12:2).

See Poole on "Hebrews 3:13" For we are made partakers of Christ,.... Being loved by him, given to him, and chosen in him before the foundation of the world; and so participate of all spiritual blessings in him; for this respects something past, and may be rendered, "we have been made". The phrase is expressive of union to Christ, which is not by faith on man's part, and by the Spirit on Christ's part, but by his everlasting love, taking his people into an oneness with himself; thereby becoming their head, surety, and representative, which is the ground and foundation of all the blessings of grace being imparted to them: hence arises communion; as this is a conjugal union, there is communion of names, of persons, of goods, of honour and dignity, and of everlasting glory; as it is a federal or representative union, hence a non-imputation of sin, justification, and freedom from condemnation; and as it is an union of head and members; hence a communication of life, and the security of it, and of all grace and strength; hence holiness, fruitfulness, and perseverance, and everlasting happiness both of soul and body:

if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; by "confidence" is meant faith, which is an hypostasis, or subsistence, which is the word here used; and is so called, because it gives a kind of subsistence, substance, or being, to things it is concerned with, Hebrews 11:1 and because it is a great support to believers, under their various exercises; and is that by which they have an open, spiritual, and comfortable subsistence, and abiding in Christ: the "beginning" of it, which is to be held fast, is either Christ himself, who is the "the beginning", the author, and finisher of faith; and so this shows from whom, and in what way, this grace is distributed; and is expressive of communion with Christ, and is an evidence of the participation of him: or else the Gospel, which is the means of implanting faith, and directs to that which is the ground and foundation of it; and this is to be held fast, and never to be departed from: or else the grace of faith itself, which is a grace but begun, not yet finished, but shall continue, and is to be held fast, and constantly exercised; and perseverance in believing on Christ is an evidence of union to him.

{8} For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the {k} beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;

(8) Now he considers these words, If you hear his voice showing that they are spoken and meant of the hearing of faith, opposite which he places hardening through unbelief.

(k) That beginning of trust and confidence: in the speech of the Hebrews, he calls beginning that which is chiefest.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Hebrews 3:14. Warning justification of ἵνα μὴ σκληρυνθῇ ἐξ ὑμῶν τις κ.τ.λ., Hebrews 3:13, inasmuch as the fulfilling of a condition is necessary to the attainment of salvation.

μέτοχοι τοῦ Χριστοῦ] Participators in (Hebrews 3:1, Hebrews 6:4, Hebrews 12:8) Christ, i.e. in His treasures of blessing and in His glory. Schulz, Delitzsch, Ewald, Hofmann, and others explain: Associates of Christ (Hebrews 1:9), i.e. His brethren (Hebrews 2:11 ff.), or His συγκληρονόμοι (Romans 8:17), inasmuch as “the δόξα, into which Christ, the Anointed One existing in kingly glory, has entered as our ἀρχηγός, is, by virtue of the κλῆσις ἐπουράνιος, not only His, but also ours, although as to its revelation and consummation in hope” (Delitzsch); against which, however, the fact is decisive that ἐάνπερ κ.τ.λ. points to a relation not of equality, but of dependence, and μετόχους τοῦ Χριστοῦ εἶναι corresponds to the notion of εἰσέρχεσθαι εἰς τὴν κατάπαυσιν, Hebrews 3:11; Hebrews 3:18. Compare, moreover, against Delitzsch, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 719, note.

γεγόναμεν] we have become. The author does not write ἐσμέν, as Hebrews 3:6, in order to dismiss at once the thought of claim existing from the first, and, on the contrary, to represent the said prerogative as one only acquired (by faith, comp. ἐάνπερ κ.τ.λ.).

ἐάνπερ τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς ὑποστάσεως κ.τ.λ.] if so be that (provided) we preserve the beginning of the confidence firm to the end, comp. Hebrews 3:6, fin. ὑπόστασις does not here denote fundamentum (Erasmus, Paraphr.; Seyffarth, p. 67: prima religionis fundamenta; Schulz: the first [anfänglichen] firm foundation; Stein and others), nor substantia, whether this be taken as reality [Wesen], as Luther (the reality begun), or as that of which a thing consists [Bestand], which constitutes it (Vatablus: illud, per quod primum subsistimus, i.e. fidem firmam; Estius: fidem, per quam in vita hac spirituali subsistimus; Bisping: the beginning of the subsistence [of Christ in us], i.e. faith; Ewald, al.). The expression stands, on the contrary, in the well-ascertained signification: confidence, which notion is here naturally defined by the connection as confidence of faith (not hope, as Whitby and Delitzsch think). Comp. Hebrews 11:1; 2 Corinthians 9:4; 2 Corinthians 11:17; LXX. Psalm 39:8; Ezekiel 19:5; Ruth 1:12. Compare also Polybius, iv. 50. 10 : Οἱ δὲ Ῥόδιοι, θεωροῦντες τὴν τῶν Βυζαντίων ὑπόστασιν, πραγματικῶς διενοήθησαν πρὸς τὸ καθικέσθαι τῆς προθέσεως; vi. 55. 2 : οὐχ οὕτω τὴν δύναμιν, ὡς τὴν ὑπόστασιν αὐτοῦ καὶ τόλμαν καταπεπληγμένων τῶν ἐναντίων; Diodorus Siculus, Excerpta de Virt. et vit. (Opp. ed. Wesselingius, t. ii., Amstelod. 1745, fol.) p. 557: ἡ ἐν ταῖς βασάνοις ὑπόστασις τῆς ψυχῆς καὶ τὸ καρτερικὸν τῆς τῶν δεινῶν ὑπομονῆς περὶ μόνον ἐγενήθη τὸν Ἀριστογείτονα; Josephus, Antiq. xviii. 1. 6 : τὸ ἀμετάλλακτον αὐτῶν τῆς ὑπὸ τοιούτοις ὑποστάσεως.

τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς ἱποστάσεως] the beginning of the confidence, i.e. not: the first confidence, which now begins to diminish (τὴν ὑπόστασιν, ἣν ἤρξασθε ἔχειν vel ἣν εἴχετε ἐν ἀρχῇ, Cameron; τὴν ὑπόστασιν τὴν ἐξ ἀρχῆς, Grotius, Wolf, Bloomfield; τὴν πρώτην ὑπόστασιν as τὴν πρώτην πίστιν, 1 Timothy 5:12, and as τὴν ἀγάπην τὴν πρώτην, Revelation 2:4; Abresch, Tholuck, Stuart, Delitzsch, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 754; Maier, Kurtz, Hofmann), but the confidence with which we have made a beginning, in such wise that τὴν ἀρχήν corresponds to the following μέχρι τέλους βεβαίαν. Thus, rightly, Bleek, de Wette, Alford.Hebrews 3:14. μέτοχοι γὰρ.… In Hebrews 3:6 the writer had adduced as the reason of his warning (βλέπετε) that participation in the salvation of Christ depended on continuance in the confident expectation that their heavenly calling would be fulfilled; and so impressed is he with the difficulty of thus continuing that he now returns to the same thought, and once again assigns the same reason for his warning: “For we are become partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence firm to the end”. Delitzsch, Rendall, Bruce and others understand by μέτοχοι, “partners” or “fellows” of Christ, as if the faithful were not only the house of Christ (Hebrews 3:6) but shared His joy in the house. It may be objected that μέτοχοι in this Epistle (Hebrews 2:14, Hebrews 3:1, Hebrews 5:13, Hebrews 6:4, Hebrews 7:13, Hebrews 12:8) is regularly used of participators in something, not of participators with someone. In Hebrews 1:9, however, it is not so used. The idea of participating with Christ finds frequent expression in Scripture. See Matthew 25:21; Revelation 3:21. τοῦ Χριστοῦ, the article may link this mention of Christ’s name with that in Hebrews 3:6; and, if so, μέτοχοι will naturally refer to companionship with Christ in His house. This companionship we have entered into and continue to enjoy [γεγόναμεν] on the same condition as above (Hebrews 3:6) ἐάνπερ τὴν ἀρχὴν … “if at least we maintain the beginning of our confidence firm to the end”. ὑποστάσεως is used by LXX twenty times and represents twelve different Hebrew words [Hatch in Essays in Bibl. Greek says eighteen times representing fifteen different words, but cf. Concordance]. In Ruth 1:12, Psalm 39:8, Ezekiel 19:5 it means “ground of hope” [its primary meaning being that on which anything is based], hence it takes the sense, “hope” or “confidence”. Bleek gives examples of its use in later Greek, Polyb., iv. 50, οἱ δὲ Ῥόδιοι θεωροῦντες τὴν τῶν Βυζαντίων ὑπόστασιν, so vi. 55 of Horatius guarding the bridge. It also occurs in the sense of “fortitude,” bearing up against pain, υ. Diod. Sic., De Virt., p. 557, and Josephus, Ant., xviii. 1. Confidence the Hebrews already possessed [ἀρχὴν]; their test was its maintenance to the end [τέλους], i.e., till it was beyond trial, finally triumphant, in Christ’s presence.14. we are made] Rather, “we are become.”

partakers of Christ] Rather, “partakers with Christ,” for the thought of mystical union with Christ extending into spiritual unity and identity, which makes the words “in Christ” the “monogram” of St Paul, is scarcely alluded to by this writer. His thoughts are rather of “Christ for us” than of “Christ in us.” “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne,” Revelation 3:21.

the beginning of our confidence] The word hypostasis is here rendered confidence, as in Psalm 39:7 (“sure hope”). This meaning of the word (elsewhere rendered “substance,” to which it etymologically corresponds, Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 11:1), is found only in later Greek. The expression “beginning” does not here imply anything inchoate or imperfect, but is merely in contrast with “end.”

stedfast unto the end] See note on Hebrews 3:6.Hebrews 3:14. Μέτοχοι Χριστοῦ, partakers of Christ) Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 3:6. So μέτοχοι, “partakers of the Holy Ghost,” ch. Hebrews 6:4.—ἀρχὴνμέχρι τέλους, the beginning—to the end) comp. ch. Hebrews 6:11, Hebrews 12:2. A Christian, so long as he is not made perfect, considers himself as a beginner.—τῆς ὑποστάσεως, of our solid confidence) [lit. substance], Hebrews 11:1; 2 Corinthians 9:4, note.—βεβαίαν, stedfast) A word of frequent occurrence in this epistle, with its synonyms, ἀκλινὴς, ἀμετάθετος, ἀσφαλὴς, ἰσχυρός.Verse 14. - For we are become partakers (or, patterers) of Christ, if only we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end. This is a repetition in another form of the assertion of our position as Christians, with the appended condition, in ver. 6. It is a question whether μέτοχοι Ξριστοῦ means that we partake of Christ as being in communion with him, or that we are partakers with him of the glory he has won for us (cf. συγκληρονόμοι Ξριστοῦ, Romans 8:17). The first is undoubtedly the ordinary sense of μέτοχος with a genitive in classical Greek, and generally in the New Testament (cf. e.g. infra, Hebrews 6:4, Μετόχους Πνεύματος ἁγίου), and is on this ground maintained by Bleek, Alford, and others; but in the LXX. μέτοχος, followed by a genitive, is as undoubtedly used for" partner" or "companion;" cf. Psalm 119:63, Μέτοχος ἐγὼ εἰμι πάντων τῶν φοβουμένων σε: Hosea 4:17, Μέτοχος εἰδώλων: and especially Psalm 45:7, Μέτοχους σου, which has been already cited (Hebrews 1:9), and justifies, as it may prove suggested, the expression in this sense here. Cf. also in the New Testament, Luke 5:7, where μετόχος, though without an expressed genitive following, occurs in the sense of "partner." Further, the second sense accords better than the first with the view of our relation to Christ so far set forth in the Epistle.

(2) On the word ὑπόστασις (translated "confidence"), see what was said under Hebrews 1:3. All the ancient interpreters understood it here in the same general sense as in the former passage - that of substance or subsistence, either as denoting our subsistence as members of Christ, or our faith regarded as the substance of our Christian life, or with other modifications of the general meaning. Modern commentators agree in understanding merely the sense in which the word is found to be commonly used by the Alexandrian writers - that of confidence, derived from the physical conception of a firm foundation. It thus corresponds with the παῥῤησίαν of ver. 6.

(3) "The beginning" (τὴν ἀρχὴν) of this confidence refers to the earlier stage of the experiences of the Hebrew Christians, before their faith had shown any signs of wavering. There is no sufficient ground for Ebrard's inference from this expression, that the Epistle was not addressed to the Hebrew Church at large, which was the oldest of all Churches, but to "a circle of catechumens and neophytes." The phrase does not imply that the "beginning" was recent. All it need mean is, "Go on as you began." Further, we find, in Hebrews 5:12, a distinct intimation that the Church addressed is one of old standing.

(4) "Unto the end "may have an individual reference to the end of life, or (the Church being addressed as a community expecting the second advent) a general one to the close of the period of grace during which "it is called Today." We are made partakers of Christ (μέτοχοι γὰρ τοῦ Χριστοῦ γεγόναμεν)

Rend. we are become fellows with Christ. For fellows see Luke 5:7; Hebrews 1:9. It marks even a closer relation than "brethren." See Luke 22:30; Romans 8:17; Revelation 3:21.

Beginning of our confidence (τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς ὑποστάσεως)

The believing confidence with which we began our Christian life. For ὑπόστασις confidence see on Hebrews 1:3. The Greek fathers render substance; that in virtue of which we are believers.

Unto the end (μέχρι τέλους)

Better, the consummation. It is more than mere termination. It is the point into which the whole life of faith finally gathers itself up. See Romans 6:21; 2 Corinthians 11:15; Philippians 3:19; Hebrews 6:8; 1 Peter 1:9.

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