What does Hebrews 3:17 mean?
ESV: And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?
NIV: And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness?
NASB: And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose dead bodies fell in the wilderness?
CSB: With whom was God angry for forty years? Wasn’t it with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?
NLT: And who made God angry for forty years? Wasn’t it the people who sinned, whose corpses lay in the wilderness?
KJV: But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness?
NKJV: Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness?
Verse Commentary:
This verse, along with verses 16 and 18, uses rhetorical questions to close up the author's point about sin and discipline. Israel was forced to wander in the desert for forty years due to their sin. This caused an entire generation to lose out on entering the Promised Land. In this chapter, the author has made the argument that Christians are subject to the same dangers, if they fail to "hold fast," making the same errors as the people of Israel did. These verses remind the reader that it was due to Israel's sin that they were forced to wander.

The prior verse introduced the first of four ways in which our spiritual failures can disrupt our fellowship with God. The first was rebellion. Here, the main concern is simply referred to as "sin," from the Greek hamartēsasin. In this particular context, the term has more to do with our actions than anything else. The connection is fairly clear, as this verse connects "sin" with the death of the body—physical for physical. Of course, what we do with our bodies is a reflection of what we think and believe. And, it demonstrates the extent to which we see God as the ultimate authority in our lives.
Verse Context:
Hebrews 3:15–19 ties several of the previous sections together. Using four primary forms of spiritual error, the author shows why Israel was disciplined by God. This discipline meant a loss of the Promised Land—not a parallel to salvation, but to spiritual rewards. Rebellion, sin, defiance, and faithlessness were all present in the nation of Israel, and that generation was denied their potential victory. Christians are warned, in this chapter, to avoid these mistakes so they don't forfeit their own spiritual inheritance.
Chapter Summary:
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.
Chapter Context:
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.
Book Summary:
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.
Accessed 6/22/2024 5:25:27 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.
www.BibleRef.com