Hebrews 3:15
While it is said, To day if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) If ye will hear.—Rather, as before (Hebrews 3:7), if ye shall hear. The true connection of this verse is not easily decided. By many it is held that the words should be joined with what follows, and commence a new paragraph; but this does not seem probable. Either Hebrews 3:14 is parenthetical, so that this verse emphasises the reference to “today” in Hebrews 3:13; or the thought of the writer is that we must “hold fast the beginning of our confidence” in the presence of this divine warning—whilst day by day these words are addressed to us anew.

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.While it is said, Today ... - That is, persevere as long as life lasts, or as long as it can be said "today;" and by persevering in this manner you will have evidence that you are the friends of the Redeemer. This is a quotation from Psalm 95:7. Paul means, undoubtedly, to make use of this language himself as a direct exhortation to the Christians to whom he was writing. He entreats them, therefore, as long as it could be said "today," or as long as life lasted, to take care lest they should harden their hearts as had been done in the temptation in the wilderness. 15. While it is said—connected with Heb 3:13, "exhort one another … while it is said, To-day": Heb 3:14, "for we are made partakers," &c., being a parenthesis. "It entirely depends on yourselves that the invitation of the ninety-fifth Psalm be not a mere invitation, but also an actual enjoyment." Alford translates, "Since (that is, 'for') it is said," &c., regarding Heb 3:15 as a proof that we must "hold … confidence … unto the end," in order to be "partakers of Christ." This is another circumstance of the example of the Jews applied to them: That since now Christ is speaking to you, as he did to your forefathers then; the same voice concerning you both, so as, not to-morrow, or when you will, but To-day, if you will believe what God speaketh to you by him, and hath recorded in his word concerning his being the Messiah, and render not yourselves deaf to God’s voice, or obdurate through unbelief, as your forefathers did, when their unbelief and hardness of heart imbittered God’s Spirit against them, because acting in it against their solemn vows and engagements to him, so as to apostatize from him. While it is said today,.... Exhort one another, and hold fast Christ and his Gospel, and faith and confidence therein; what follows is a repetition of the citation in Hebrews 3:7 in order to make a further improvement of it; which shows, that the words belong to the present times of the Gospel, and contain in them matter of moment, and great concern; and that Scripture instructions and exhortations are of perpetual use. {l} While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

(l) So long as this voice sounds out.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Hebrews 3:15-16. With regard to the construction of Hebrews 3:15 the views of expositors greatly differ. It is assumed—(1) That Hebrews 3:15 forms an independent, complete sentence. It is then supposed that the citation introduced by ἐν τῷ λέγεσθαι embraces only the words σήμερονἀκούσητε, and that afterwards with μὴ σκληρύνητε κ.τ.λ. the author proceeds, it is true, in the following words of that Biblical citation, but appropriates them to himself, and employs them only for the clothing of the admonition to be uttered on his own part. So Flacius Illyricus, Jac. Cappellus, Carpzov, Kuinoel, Winer, Gramm., 5 Aufl. p. 620, and Bloomfield; comp. also Hofmann ad loc. As, however, the same words: μὴ σκληρύνητε τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν ὡς ἐν τῷ παραπικρασμῷ, had already been adduced, Hebrews 3:8, in the midst of the Biblical citation, and as a constituent part thereof, it could not possibly occur to the reader here at once to detach them from σήμερονἀκούσητε, and to understand them as words of the author addressed to themselves; and the less so, because Hebrews 3:16 ff. there follows a comment on the passage, in which Hebrews 3:16 glances back to σήμερονπαραπικρασμῷ, Hebrews 3:15 (Hebrews 3:7 f.); Hebrews 3:17 to the προσώχθισα κ.τ.λ., Hebrews 3:10; Hebrews 3:18, finally, to the ὤμοσα κ.τ.λ., Hebrews 3:11, so that the natural explanation can only be, that the author intended to refer back to the whole Scripture citation already previously adduced, Hebrews 3:7-11, but that—inasmuch as he might presuppose it as known from that which precedes—he expressly repeats it only to the point at which the first member of his comment could attach itself. (2) Hebrews 3:15 is connected with that which precedes, in that ἐν τῷ λέγεσθαι κ.τ.λ. is either regarded as epexegesis to μέχρι τέλους, Hebrews 3:14 (Primasius, Estius, Cornelius a Lapide, Bisping, Reuss), or is attached to the conditional clause ἐάνπερκατάσχωμεν there occurring (Erasmus Schmid, Wolf), or to all the words of Hebrews 3:14 : μέτοχοικατάσχωμεν (Ebrard, Alford), or, finally, is construed with παρακαλεῖτε, Hebrews 3:13 (Cameron, Peirce, Bengel, Cramer, Baumgarten, Abresch). But in the first case one must expect ἄχρις οὗ λέγεται, or something similar, in place of ἐν τῷ λέγεσθαι. In the other cases Hebrews 3:15 would drag as a feeble addition; in the last, moreover, Hebrews 3:14 would, contrary to all probability, become a parenthesis. (3) Hebrews 3:15 is combined with that which follows. With φοβηθῶμεν οὖν, Hebrews 4:1, it is connected by Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Olearius, Wittich, Valckenaer. Hebrews 3:16-19 must then be regarded as a parenthesis, and οὖν, Hebrews 4:1, as a particle of resumption. But of a resuming of the, as yet, incomplete thought, Hebrews 3:15, in Hebrews 4:1, there is no appearance in the form of discourse in the latter passage, notwithstanding the accuracy of style on the part of our author. On the contrary, from the tenor of Hebrews 4:1, it is indubitable that this verse is represented by virtue of οὖν as a consequence from Hebrews 3:16-19. These verses, therefore, can form no parenthesis. But thus every possibility of connecting Hebrews 3:15 with Hebrews 4:1 falls away.

There remains, therefore, no course open but to take Hebrews 3:15 with the first question of Hebrews 3:16 : τίνες γὰρ ἀκούσαντες παρεπίκραναν; as one whole. This is done by Semler, Morus, Storr, Heinrichs, Dindorf, Böhme, Klee, Bleek, de Wette, Tholuck, Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 532; Delitzsch, Maier, Moll, Kurtz, Ewald, and Woerner. The sense is: “When it is said: ‘to-day,’ etc., (now, I ask:) who then were they who, although they heard (the voice), resisted? was it not all, etc.?” On ἐν τῷ λέγεσθαι, comp. ἐν τῷ λέγειν, Hebrews 8:13.

γάρ serves for the strengthening of the particle of interrogation, but, at the same time, confirms the state of the fact expressed, Hebrews 3:14. See Klotz, ad Devar. p. 245 f. Comp. also Matthew 27:23; John 7:41; Acts 19:25; 1 Corinthians 11:22.

From what has been already observed, it is evident that Hebrews 3:16 contains two questions, of which the second forms the answer to the first. This view of Hebrews 3:16, appearing only rarely in antiquity (in the Peshito, with Chrysostom and Theodoret), and only asserted afresh since the beginning of last century, is now almost universally regarded as the true one. According to the mode of interpretation formerly current, two affirmative statements were recognised in Hebrews 3:16, the first of which was limited by the second. τινές was accordingly written instead of τίνες,[61] and the thought was found expressed that some, it is true, but by no means the totality of the Israelites, proved rebellious. As those who formed an exception to the rebelliousness or unbelief of the τινές, expositors accordingly thought either of Joshua and Caleb only (so Oecumenius, Theophylact, Primasius, Seb. Schmidt, Owen, and others), or else, with reference to Numbers 14:29 ff; Numbers 1:45; Numbers 1:47, at the same time of all the Israelites who, at the numbering, had not attained an age of twenty years, as also the Levites and women (so Cornelius a Lapide, Braun, Carpzov, al.). But, considering the small number of responsible believers, which, in comparison with the enormous total mass of responsible unbelievers (more than six hundred thousand), retires altogether into the background, the latter could not possibly be designated by the mere τινές; nor can appeal be made for the opposite view to 1 Corinthians 10:7-10, since the ΤΙΝΈς there several times recurring specializes only the ἘΝ ΤΟῖς ΠΛΕΊΟΣΙΝ, Hebrews 3:5, in its different subdivisions. In addition to this, the interrogatory form in the parallel clauses, Hebrews 3:15. ἐν τῷ λέγεσθαι.… “While it is said to-day, etc.” The construction of these words is debated. Bleek, Delitzsch, von Soden and others construe them with what follows, beginning at this point a fresh paragraph. The meaning would thus be: “Since it is said, ‘To-day if ye hear his voice, harden not, etc.,’ who are meant, who were they who heard and provoked?” This is inviting but the γὰρ of Hebrews 3:16 is decidedly against it. Davidson connects ἐν τῷ λεγ. with what immediately precedes: “ ‘if we hold fast … unto the end, while it is said,’ i.e., not during the time that it is said, but in the presence and consciousness of the saying, Harden not, etc.… with this divine warning always in the ears”. Similarly Weiss. Westcott connects the words with Hebrews 3:13, making 14 parenthetical. Either of these constructions is feasible. It is also possible to let the sentence stand by itself as introductory to what follows, taking μὴ σκληρ. as directly addressed to the Hebrews, not as merely completing the quotation: “While it is being said To-day if ye hear His voice, harden not your hearts as in the provocation”. The λέγεσθαι thus contains only the clause ending with ἀκούσητε.Hebrews 3:15. Ἐν τῷ λέγεσθαι, while it is said) The connection is with Hebrews 3:13, in reference to παρακαλεῖτε. Even in the psalm the Divine exhortation (paraclesis) precedes, viz. O come ye. Comp. היום, Psalm 95:7, taking into consideration the preceding Athnach, which is a subdistinctive of the latter hemistich [in the Hebrew]; i.e. it entirely depends on you that this may not only be a mere invitation and offer, in the first instance, but also [the source of] real enjoyment, in the second. So ἐν τῷ λέγειν, in that He saith, ch. Hebrews 8:13.—ὡς ἐν τῷ παραπικρασμῷ, as in the Provocation) כמריבה; it is taken as a proper name, with its signification.Verse 15. - While it is said, Today, etc. Commentators have found unnecessary difficulty in determining the connection of ἐν τῷ λέγεσθαι. Many, taking the words as the beginning of a new sentence, have been at pains to discover the apodosis to them. Cbrysostom, Grotius, Rosenmuller, and others find it in φοβηθῶμεν οϋν, Hebrews 4:1; notwithstanding the οϋν, which seems evidently to introduce a new sentence, and the long parenthesis which, on this supposition, intervenes. Others find it in μὴ σκληρύνητε ("harden not your hearts"), in the middle of the citation of ver. 16, as if the writer of the Epistle adopted these words as his own. Delitzsch finds it in ver. 16, taken as an interrogation (τίνες, not τινὲς: see below); thus: "When it is said, Today... harden not your hearts as in the provocation,... who did provoke? Nay, did not all?" The γὰρ after τίνες he accounts for by its idiomatic use found in such passages as Acts 8:31; Acts 19:35, conveying the sense of the English, "Why, who did provoke?" But this use of γὰρ, obvious in the texts adduced as parallel, would be forced here; the structure of the sentence does not easily lend itself to it. Still, this is the view taken by Tholuck, Bleek, De Wette, Lunemann, and others, as well as Delitzsch. But, notwithstanding such weighty support, difficulties are surely best avoided by taking ἐν τῷ λέγεσθαι, not as commencing a new sentence, but in connection with ver. 14 preceding, as it seems most natural to take it in the absence of any connecting particle to mark a new proposition. In this case the translation of the A.V. gives a fully satisfactory sense: "If we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end, while it is still being said, To-day," etc.; i.e. (as in ver. 13) "so long as it is called Today." Ebrard, Alford, and others, taking the same view of the connection of the words, prefer the translation, "In that it is said." But the other seems more in accordance with the thought pervading the passage. While it is said (ἐν τῷ λέγεσθαι)

The formula by which the writer reverts to the previous citation. Connect with if we hold fast. The exhortation of Hebrews 3:12 answered to Psalm 95:1-11; so the condition of fulfillment in Hebrews 3:14 is declared to rest on the same Scripture. Only on the ground of what is said in that Psalm does the holding fast come to pass. Rend. therefore, "We are fellows of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end, seeing it is said," etc.

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