Jesus’ Superiority Over Moses

For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses – as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself.

Hebrews 3:3

The Hebrew Christians to whom the book of Hebrews was initially addressed were being tempted to abandon Christianity and go back to Judaism to avoid persecution.  Thus, Hebrews is basically a reasoned argument showing that Christianity is superior to Judaism.  After having shown Christ’s superiority to angels and the Old Testament prophets who had spoken to their ancestors (Hebrews 1-2), the inspired author now turns his attention to comparing Jesus to the prophet for whom the Hebrews justifiably had the most respect: Moses.

He starts by calling on the Hebrew Christians to “consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession” (Hebrews 3:1).  The term “apostle” (apostolos, “one sent”) is used in several different ways in the New Testament.  Most commonly the term refers to the twelve disciples plus Paul who were “sent” out by Jesus to preach the gospel first to Israel and then to the whole world and had divinely inspired authority over the early church (Matthew 10:1-5; 1 Corinthians 15:8-11; Matthew 18:18; cf. Acts 2:42).  At times it refers to other Christians who were “sent out” on missionary journeys (Acts 14:14).  Here in Hebrews 3 Jesus is called “the apostle.”  He had been sent by God to save mankind and now spoke with his Father’s authority (Hebrews 1:1-3; Matthew 28:18), just as the apostles he had chosen to lead the church likewise spoke with inspired authority (Ephesians 3:3-5).  The Hebrew writer also calls Jesus “the high priest of our confession,” a point upon which he will further expound later in the book.  Lord willing, a future column will further examine what he means by this.

The comparison between Jesus and Moses starts in the next verse when the writer says that Jesus “was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house (Hebrews 3:2).  Moses was indeed considered by God to be “faithful in all my house” (Numbers 12:7).  While not perfect (Numbers 20:2-12), Moses’ faith was exemplary (Hebrews 11:24-28).  Jesus likewise was faithful to his Father concerning the work he was sent to do (John 17:1-4; cf. 4:34).  Yet unlike Moses, Jesus was perfect and sinless (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5).  For this reason alone Jesus is superior to Moses.

Yet the Hebrew author gives another reason for his superiority in the next verses.  He states that Jesus “has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses” for a specific reason: “as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself” (Hebrews 3:3).  Moses led the Israelites for 40 years and did so faithfully and obediently.  Yet Jesus created the Israelites themselves, as well as Moses (Hebrews 1:2; cf. John 1:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16).  Just as “every house is built by someone,” the “builder of all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4).  This verse shows the logic of creationism.  Any building you see was created by someone; no structure has ever just sprung into existence by itself.  Everything has a cause, and ultimately the cause is God.  Jesus, being God himself (John 1:1, 14), created the “house” which was Moses and the “house” which was the nation of Israel which he faithfully led.  Thus, he is superior to Moses.

The writer continues, “Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son” (Hebrews 3:5-6a).  As a servant, Moses did what God commanded and led “God house” of the Old Testament – Israel – faithfully (Exodus 40:16).  Yet Jesus is superior because he is God’s Son, and faithfully rules over his “house” which is his chosen people in the New Testament: the church (1 Timothy 3:15).  The son of the master of the house is always superior to the servants of the house.  Indeed, Moses himself even foretold of the Messiah who would be his superior (Deuteronomy 18:18-10), thus “testify(ing) to the things which were to spoken later.”

Jesus is superior to Moses.  Both were faithful, but Jesus more so.  Moses was a servant of the house, but Jesus is the builder of the house and the Son of God.