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we have seen, chap. ii. 10, 11. In this place it is evident that the
apostle doth not render a reason of what he had last affirmed, —
namely, that Christ was faithful in all the house of God, as was
Moses, — seemg he passeth directly unto a new argument for his gene-
ral end and purpose, namely, the dignity of Christ above Moses;
which he manifests by sundry instances. Neither doth this word
respect the ensuing proof of the pre-eminence of Christ asserted, as
if he had said, ' He is worthy of more glory than Moses, because he
that buildeth the house,' etc. But there is a retrospect in it unto the
first verse, and a reason of it induced why it was so necessary for
the Hebrews diligently to consider " the apostle of our profession,"
namely, because of his glory, honour, and liignity, above that of
Moses. ' Consider him,' saith he, '/o?' he is worthy of more glory
than Moses;' which he demonstrates in these four verses, and then
returns again unto his exhortation. This is the order of the dis-
course; and in it there is a proposition, and two arguments for its
confirmation, which contain the subject-matter of it.

The proposition laid down by the apostle in these verses is plain
and evident; so also do the arguments whereby he confirms it seem
to be. But the illustration that he makes of them, and the infer-
ences he takes from them, are involved. Wherefore these things in
general we shall endeavour to give some light into.

The proposition is this, that "Christ was counted worthy of more
glory than Moses." The first proof of this proposition lies in these
words of verse 8, " Inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath
more honour than the house;" and'this he further confirms or illus-
trates, verse 4, " For every house is builded of some ; but he that
built all things is God;" the latter expressly in verses 5, 6, of which

As for the manner of arguing here used by the apostle, it is
educed from the foregoing verses. In the comparison made between
Christ and Moses, he allowed Moses to be faithful, proving it by the
testimony of God himself, who had said he was " faithful in all his
house." The church or people of God being in that testimony called
"The house of God," and that by God himself, the apostle takes ad-
vantage of the metaphor to express the dignity of Christ in his rela-
tion to the church under that expression of " The house of God;"
for not only the things themselves, but the manner of their expres-
sion in the Scripture, is of great importance, and much wisdom.


much acquaintance with the mind of God, may be attained by a due
consideration thereof. And a double relation unto this hcuse doth
he ascribe unto him, which are the principal relations that attend
any house whatever. The first is of a builder, whence he takes his
first argument, verses 3, 4; the other is of an owner, inhabiter, and
5)os.sessor, whence he takes his second, verses 5, 6. And these are
the principal respects of any house: without the first, it is 7iot; and
without the latter, it is of no use.

In his first argument, verse 3, the proposition only is expressed,
the assumption is included, and the conclusion left unto an obvious
inference; for plainly the apostle reasons syilogistically in this case.

The proposition is this, " He that buildeth the house hath more
honour than the house."

The assumption included is, " But Christ built the house, and
Moses was only of the house, or a part of it: and therefore he had
more glory than Moses."

That this assumption is included in the words is evident both
from the necessity of it, to infer the purpose of the apostle, as also
from his management of his second argument to the same end,
verses 5, 6: for therein the proposition is only supposed, as having
been before, for the substance of it, expressed ; and the assumption
is plainly laid down, as containing the new medium which he insists

The proposition of the argument in these verses is, * A son over
his own house is of more honour than a servant in the house of an-
other.' This is only supposed.

The assumption is expressed, " But Christ is a son over his own
house; Moses Avas only a servant in another's house:" whence the
conclusion is plain and evident.

As, then, the proposition in the latter argument is supposed, so is
the assumption in the former.

In the confirmation of the first argument thefourth verse is inserted,
" For every house is builded of some; but he that built all things
is God." •

Some say these words are produced in the confirmation of the
proposition of the first argument, " He that buildeth the house hath
more honour than the house;" and so, that it is God the Father who
is intended in them. For to prove that he who buildeth the house is
more honourable than the house, he instanceth in him who is the
great builder or creator of all things, even God himself, who is infi-
nitely more glorious than all things built by him ; which holds in
proportion to all other builders and their buildings. Others say
that this is affirmed in confirmation of the minor proposition, namely,
that "Christ built the house;" because it being a house, it must be
built by some; and being such a house as it is, it could be built by


:ione but him who is God. And these take the Son to be expressed
by that name, "God." And some there are who would not have any
proof to be intended in these words, but a mere illustration of what
was before spoken, by a comparison between Christ and his works
about his house, and God and his house in the creation of all; which
way the Socinians take. The true intendment of the apostle we
hope to evince in the ensuing exposition.

"For this [wia?i] was counted worthy of more glory [was more
honourable] than Moses." Here lies the proposition that is proposed
unto confirmation; wherein two things occur: 1. A supposition,
— "that Moses was counted worthy of glory;" 2. An assertion, —
"that the Lord Christ was much more worthy of glory."

1. The apostle grants and supposeth that Moses was a^iudiig
^o^rii, "counted worthy of glory;" or "truly glorious and honour-
able." Glory is "excellentis virtutis fama cum laude," — s"the
illustrious fame of an excellency with praise." And in this glory
there are two things; — first, an ea;ce^^e/iC2/ deserving honour; and,
secondly, the fame and reputation of that excellency. Where both
these concur, there is a person a^iudiig d6t.vs, "worthy of glory," and
really honourable. So the glory of God himself consisteth in his
essential excellencies, and their manifestation.

For the first, with respect unto Moses, it consisteth principally in
two things: —

First, In the work wherein he was employed. The work itself was
glorious, and rendered him so who was employed about it. So our
apostle declares, 2 Cor. iii. 7, "The ministration of death, written,
and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel
could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his
countenance." It was glorious, and rendered him so; and one part
of this ministration is called "the glor}'," Rom. ix. 4. The giving of
the law, the erection of the visible church-state in the posterity of
Abraham, attended with all that glorious worship which was insti-
tuted therein, was a work of exceeding glory. In this work was
Moses employed, and that in so^iigh and honourable a manner as
to be the sole mediator therein between God and the people. Gal.
iii. 19; as himself speaketh, Deut. v. 5, "I stood between the Lord
and you at that time, to shew you the word of the Lord." This was
his peculiar glory, that God singled him out from amongst all the
posterity of Abraham to be thus employed.

Secondly, In hisfidelity in the discharge of his work and office. This
is a singular excellency, which added unto the former dignity makes
it complete. It is no glory for a man to be employed in a glorious
work and to miscarry therein; it will rather end in his dishonour
and reproach: as he in the fable, who would needs drive the chariot
oi lIio Sim, which ended in the breaking of his neck. Better never


be employed in the work of God, than deal unfaithfully in it. But
a glorious trust and great faithfulness therein render the condition
of a man really excellent. So was it with Moses, as was declared in
the preceding verses. However he might fail personally in his own
faith as a believer, he failed not ministerially in his fidelity as the
"internuncius" between God and his people; and every personal fail-
ing in faith doth not impeach a man's ministerial fidelity, or faithful-
ness in his office. In these things was he excellent. It is a thing
very glorious, to be faithful in an office committed to us of God.

Secondly, He had the fame and reputation of these excellencies
on a double account: —

First, In the testimony that was given him by God himself as to
his fidelity in the discharge of his trust. This God gave him during
his life, as was showed, and sundry times after his death. This is
the great foundation of all his renown. And what greater honour
could be done unto any creature, than to be adorned with such an
illustrious testimony by God himself? Greater honour never had
any, but He alone with whom he is compared. And thus God gives
grace and glory, — grace to be faithful, and glory upon men's being so.

Secondly, He had glory in that honour and esteem which was con-
tinued unto him in the church, until the Son himself came. Until
that time, the whole church of God was precisely bound unto the
observation of the laws and ordinances appointed by him; and
thereon did all their happiness in this woild and that to come de-
pend. That was the condition of their temporal and eternal wel-
fare. The neglect hereof exposed them unto all misery from God
and man. This was the charge that God left on them throughout
all their generations: "Remember the law of Moses my servant,
which I commanded unto him in Horeb, for all Israel, with the
statutes and judgments," Mai. iv. 4. This made his name and re-
membrance honourable unto the church, and which the sinful abuse
of turned afterwards to the snare, temptation, and disadvantage of
the incredulous Jews; according to the prophetical imprecation of
the psalmist, " Let their table become a snare before them, and that
which should have been for their welfare become a trap," Ps. Ixix.
22 : which our apostle declares to have befallen them on their rejec-
tion of the gospel, through an obstinate adherence to the letter of
the law of Moses, Rom. xi, 7-10. Yet we may observe, that in
all the honour which God gave Moses in the church, he never com-
manded, he never allowed, that any should worship him or adore
him, pray to him or make images of him. To give this honour
unto saints, angels, or others, is men's invention, not God's insti-
tution. God knows how to give glory unto his servants without
imparting unto them his own, the royalty of his crown: "his glory
will he not give unto another."


This, then, was the glory of Moses; and if we shall add hereunto
other concernments of him, they will make it the more conspicuous.
Such were the care of God over him in his infancy, his miraculous
call to his office, the honour he had in the world, the miracles which
he wrought, and the signal testimony given him from God, in all
the contests about his ministry; and many things of the like nature
might be added. But it is the things which appertain unto his
office and the discharge of it which are principally intended.

This, therefore, the apostle grants, that he might not give the
least suspicion unto the Hebrews that he would detract from the
due praise and honour of Moses, as he was commonly traduced
amongst them to do. See Acts x.xi. 28, xxv. 8. The unbeliev-
ing part of them, indeed, boasted of Moses, unto the contempt of
the Lord Christ : John ix. 29, " We know that God spake unto
Moses: as for this fellow, we know not whence he is." And tliey
generally thought the prevalency of the gosj)el was derogatory unto
his honour and law, Acts xiii. 45, 50. But these things moved not
him to deal partially in the truth. He allows unto Moses his due
honour and glory, and yet asserts the excellency of Christ above
him, showing evidently the consistency of these things, as there
neither is nor can be any opposition or contrariety between any
ordinances or institutions of God. And we may hence observe, —

I. Every one who is employed in the service of God in his house,
and is faithful in the discharge of his work and trust therein, is worthy
of honour: so was Moses.

It becometh neither the greatness nor goodness of God that it
should be otherwise. And he hath established it by an everlasting
law. "Them that honour me," saith he, "I will honour; and they
that despise me shall be lightly esteemed," 1 Sam. ii. 80. The
honouring of God in the service of his house is that which, by this
unalterable edict for its being honoured, is ratified and confirmed.
They who therein honour God shall be honoured, for the mouth of
the Lord hath spoken it. They are honourable; for, —

First, Their viorlc is so. Reputation, glory, and honour, attend
honourable works. This work is God's. The church is " God's hus-
bandry, God's building," 1 Cor. iii. 9. They have a great work in
hand, God's work; and have a glorious cswipyog, or "associate," even
God himself God so works by them as that also he works with them,
and they are auvspyoi ©sou, — " labourers together with God." They
work also in the name and on the behalf of God, 2 Cor. v. 20.
Whatever glory and honour, then, can possibly redound unto any
from the nature of the work wherein they are employed, it all be-
longs to them. Hence the apostle commands that we should
" esteem such very highly in love for their work's sake," 1 Thess. v.
lo. Their work makes them worthy of estimation, yea, of " double


honour/' 1 Tim. v. 17. What that is in particular, it may be, is
luicertain; but it is certain that not an ordinary honour, not a com-
mon respect or esteem, but that which is double, or abounding, is

Secondly, Honour is reflected upon them from him who goes
before them in their work, and their especial relation unto him.
This is Jesus Christ, the great builder of the church. Are they
pastors or shepherds? — he is the JTr/VxoTos ruiv -^wx^uv, " the bishop of
souls,'' 1 Pet. ii. 25; and the dp^i-oi/jiTiv, " the chief (or "prince")
of those shepherds, chap. v. 4. And to be associated with Christ
in his work, to share in office under him, will appear at length to
have been honourable. The queen of Sheba counted them happy
and blessed who were servants unto Solomon, and stood before him,
2 Chrou. ix. 7; and what are they who stand before him who is
infinitely greater and wiser than Solomon! The Lord help poor
ministers to believe their relation unto the Lord Christ, and his
engagement with them in tlieir work, that they may be supported
against those innumerable discouragements that they meet withal!

Tliirdly, The especial nature of their work and employment is
another spring of honour unto them. It lies about things holy,
spiiitual, mysterious, and more excellent than all the things of this
world. It is their work to discover and to brino- forth to liojht
*' unsearchable riches," Eph. iii. 8; to reveal and to declare "all the
counsel of God," Acts xx. 27; to prepare and make ready the bride
for the Lamb; to gather in God's revenue of glory, etc.

Fourthly, The effects of their work do also communicate honour
unto them. They are such, they are all those things whereon de-
pends all the glory of God in the concernments of the souls of men
unto eternity. The ministry of the word is that alone whereby
God ordinarily will treat with the souls of men, the means that he
will make use of for their conviction, conversion, sanctification, and
salvation. These things depend, therefore, on this work of theirs,
and are effects of it. And in them will the glory of God be princi-
pally concerned unto eternity; in them will his goodness, righteous-
ness, grace, mercy, patience, and all the other excellencies of his
nature, shine forth in glory. All of them appear in his dealings with
the souls of men by his word.

Fifthly, Their especial honour will one day appear in their espe-
cial reward: Dan. xii. 3, ^V''2b'^n^ "instructors," "teachers," they
that make men wise, that give them understanding, " shall shine as
the brightness of the firmament ;" Q"'?"!'!} ''i?.'''^.VP'', " and the justifiers
of many," those that make them righteous ministerially, by reveal-
ing unto them the knowledge and righteousness of Christ, whereby
they are justified, Isa. liii. 11, "as the stars for ever and ever." If
they have not more glory than others, yet they shall have a distinct


glory of their own ; for when the prince of shepherds shall be mani-
fested, he will give unto these his shepherds a.,u,apdvri\iov Trig bo^ris
cr£(pa,vov, 1 Pet. V. 4, — such a peculiar crown as great triumphant con-
querors were wont to be crowned withal.

Only it must be observed, that there is nothing of all this spoken
merely with respect unto being employed one way or other, really
or in pretence, in this house of God, but only unto a faithfulness in
the discharge of the trust committed unto them who are so em-
ployed. Moses was worthy of honour, not because he was employed,
but because he was "faithful" in his trust and employment. The
twelve spies that were sent into Canaan, to search the land, were
all equally commission ated and employed ; but two of them only were
esteemed worthy of honour, the rest died in their sin, as not faith-
fully discharging their trust, but bringing up an evil report on the
land of promise, — as many do on the house of God, by one means or
other, who are employed in the service of it. And these are so far
fiom being worthy of honour, that they deserve nothing but reproach,
contempt, and shame; for as God says in this matter, "He that
hououreth me, I will honour;" so he adds, "and he that despiseth
me shall be lightly esteemed." Such persons are rejected of God
from any acceptance in their office, Hos. iv. 6; and as unsavoury salt
unto the house itself, are to be cast out on the dunghill. Matt. v. 13.
They are servants whom, when their Lord comes, he will tear in pieces,
and give them their portion with hypocrites. Matt. xxiv. 50, 51.
Persons, therefore, who undertake to be builders in the house of God,
who have received no skill or ability from the master-builder, or are
negligent in their work, or corrupt it, or daub with untempered
mortar, or are any way unfaithful, whatever double or treble advan-
tage they may obtain from men in this world, they shall have no-
thing but shame and confusion of face from God in that which is to

Let, then, those who are indeed faithful in this work be satisfied
with the work itself. It will prove in the end to have been a good
revenue, a blessed inhei'itance. Add but that reward which the
Lord Christ brings with him unto the reward of honour that is in
the work itself, and it will be abundantly satisfactory. We dishonour
our master, and manifest that we understand not much of our work,
when we are solicitous about any other recompence.

And this also will serve to strengthen such persons in all the
oppositions they meet withal, and all the discouragements they are
encompassed with in the discharge of their duty. It is enough to
give them a holy contempt and scorn of the worst that can befall
them. And this also may teach others their duty towards them;
which for the most part they are unwilling to hear, and more un-
willing to practise.


2. Let US now return to consider what is positively affirmed in tliis
assertion, with the proof of it.

"Thi.s man," olrog, a demonstrative pronoun, denoting the person
treated of. It is rendered "this man," but it respects
him not merely as man, but directs to his person, God
and man, as he is expressly called God in the next verse, as Ave shall

"Was counted worthy of more glory," — much more glory. Ao'^jjs
'x'Kiiovoi Tcafo. Mwuff^i'. See the explication of the words. ^^|„. ^J^^'^.
Speaking of the ministry of Christ and of Moses, 2 Cor. «»«? ■jrafa^uv
iii. 10, he saith, "For even that which was made glori- '^*"'*
ous had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that
excelleth." So doth the manner of the expression here used
intimate the glory of Christ to be so far above the glory of Moses
that in comparison thereof it might even seem to be " no glory."

"Accounted worthy," — more honoured, had more ,
glory from God, and in the church was more glorious.

And this glory, although it did attend the person of Christ, yet it
is not that which is due unto him upon the account of his person
(as afterwards shall be more fully declared), but that which belongs
to him in his office, the office which he discharged towards the
church (wherein alone he is to be compared with Moses, for in his
person he was before exalted above all); which yet is such as none
could discharge but he whose person was so excellent, as he declares,
verse 4. This the apostle positively asserts, and then proceeds to the
proof of it in the next words. His way of proof is, as I observed,
syllogistical, wherein the proposition is expressed, "That he who
builds a house is of more honour than the house built." The
assumption is supposed and included, "But Christ built the house;
Moses was only a part of it." The force of which argument will
appear in our opening of the words.

The glory of Christ intended the apostle sets forth under the
metaphorical terms of a house, its building, and builder. The occa-
sion of this metaphor he takes (as was said) from the foregoing testi-
mony, wherein it is affirmed that " Moses was faithful in the house
of God." A house is either natural, — that i.s, a family or a house-
hold, the children of one parent, that is built by them (as I?, "a son,"
is from i^l^, "to build;" so Ruth iv. 11, "The LoRD make the woman
that is come into thy house like Rachel and like Leah, 1^? "^^'^
hii,-]^': n^5-ns DiTn^/' — "which two built" ("childed") "the house of
Israel"); or artificial, — a building by men for a habitation, as
every such house is built by some. And in an allusion thereunto,
there is a house that is moral and spiritual, or a mystical habita-
tion, namely, for God himself. Such is the church of God said to
be, Eph. ii. 20-22, 1 Tim. iii. 15, 2 Tim. ii. 20, 1 Pet. ii. 5; partly


hy a general allusion unto any house for habitation, partly with
particular respect to the temple, that was called the " house of God ^
uuder the old testament. The metaphor used by the apostle in this
place respects an artificial house, and the things spoken do primarily
belong thereunto. The application that he makes is unto a spiri-
tual house, — the house of God wherein he will dwell ; and thereunto
also do the things that are spoken properly appertain. Herein,
then, lies the design and force of the apostle's discourse; the church
of God, with all the ordinances of worship in it, is a house, the
house of God, as appears in the foregoing testimony. Now, as to
honour and glory, this is the condition of a house, that he who
builds it is much more honourable than the house itself But this
house of God was built by Jesus Christ, whereas Moses was only a
part of the house itself, and so no way to be compared in honour
and glory with him that built it.

Both parts of this discourse are obnoxious to some difficulty, the
removal whereof will further clear up the sense of the words and
meaning of the Holy Ghost.

First, then, ' It doth not appear that the proposition laid down by
the apostle is universally true in all cases, namely, that he who builds
the house is always more honourable than the house, which yet is
tiie foundation of the apostle's inference in this verse; for Solomon
built the temple, yet the temple was far more glorious than Solomon.
I do not speak in respect of their essence and being, — for so an in-
tellectual, rational creature is to be preferred above any artificial
building whatever, — but in respect of their use in the church of God;
and so the temple far excelled Solomon, its builder.'

I answer, This may so fall out where one builds a house by the

Online LibraryJohn OwenThe works of John Owen (Volume 12) → online text (page 66 of 70)