What does Hebrews 3:14 mean?
ESV: For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.
NIV: We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.
NASB: For we have become partakers of Christ if we keep the beginning of our commitment firm until the end,
CSB: For we have become participants in Christ if we hold firmly until the end the reality that we had at the start.
NLT: For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.
KJV: For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
The context of this passage is set up by quotations from Psalm 95. That passage warns Israel not to fall into the same error as they did in the desert after the Exodus. When Israel failed to trust in God, they were disciplined with forty years of wandering, and most of that generation lost the opportunity to see victory in the Promised Land. In the same way, the writer of Hebrews is warning Christians not to forfeit their spiritual blessings by failing to "hold fast" their faith and obedience to God (Hebrews 3:6).
With that idea in mind, the author states that those who do maintain their trust and obedience "have come to share" in Christ. This is from the Greek word metochoi, which is translated as "share," or "partakers." This is the same term, with the same basic meaning, as used in Hebrews 3:1. If we are faithful, we can share in the partnership Christ offers to us (Revelation 2:26–27). If we do not, and we fall into sin through an evil heart (Hebrews 3:12), then the same discipline which came to Israel in the desert is waiting for us, instead.
Hebrews 3:7–14 uses the example of Israel's forty years in the wilderness (Numbers 13—14) as a warning. This is directed at Christians who fail to ''hold fast'' their faith in God during persecution. Israel was saved from Egypt, as believers are saved from eternal death through salvation. Israel was offered the Promised Land, as believers are promised victory through our spiritual inheritance. Israel lost faith and didn't trust God against the ''giants'' of Canaan, as believers can be tempted to lose faith in the face of persecution. The ancient Israelites were not sent back to Egypt, just as God does not revoke the salvation of Christian believers. However, both can expect hardship and a loss of fellowship if they fail to trust in God.
Hebrews chapter 3 uses a reference to Israel's wandering in the desert from the story of the Exodus. In this incident, the nation of Israel came to the border of the Promised Land and then lost confidence in God. Rather than trusting Him, most of the people gave up hope. As a result, only a tiny remnant of the nation was allowed to enter into Canaan. This chapter explains that Jesus Christ is superior to Moses and all of Moses' accomplishments. Christians, therefore, need to encourage each other to fully trust in God, in order to see fulfillment of His promises.
In chapters 1 and 2, the author of Hebrews showed that Jesus was not an angel. In fact, Jesus' role as Messiah required Him to be fully human. Starting in chapter 3, the author will explain how Jesus is also superior to various Old Testament characters such as Moses. This will help to set the stage for later references to Christ's superiority. Part of the warning in this chapter extends into chapter 4. Namely, that Christians who doubt God's promises risk missing out on the victories He has in store for us.
The book of Hebrews is meant to challenge, encourage, and empower Christian believers. According to this letter, Jesus Christ is superior to all other prophets and all other claims to truth. Since God has given us Christ, we ought to listen to what He says and not move backwards. The consequences of ignoring God are dire. Hebrews is important for drawing on many portions of the Old Testament in making a case that Christ is the ultimate and perfect expression of God's plan for mankind. This book presents some tough ideas about the Christian faith, a fact the author makes specific note of.
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