Chapter 3 of Hebrews begins a fascinating study of the difference between Jesus and the Law. Whoever the writer is, it’s obvious that he is well informed regarding the struggles facing the early church with regards to the place of the Old Testament Law in the lives of Christians, especially the non-Jewish ones. He is going to contrast Jesus with Moses. The Religious leaders in Jesus day often rejected Jesus because they said “We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from” (John 9:29).  The term “Moses” did not just refer to the man himself, it was used to refer to the whole Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy) which Moses wrote. Moses is traditionally referred to as the “law-giver” because he wrote what has been known as the “law.” The law is a third of the Old Testament and by Jesus day when people refer to Moses, they mean the Law. So the comparison the writer of Hebrews is making is between Jesus and the Law.

He knows the subject isn’t going to be the easiest thing to talk about so he begins by exhorting his readers to “consider” his suggestions about Jesus and the Law. The Greek word is “katanoeo” (Greek: κατανοέω).  According to the Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament it means, “to give very careful consideration to some matter.”[1] According to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament it means, “’to direct one’s whole mind to an object, also from a higher standpoint to immerse oneself in it and hence to apprehend it in its whole compass.”[2] Because of these definitions I’m not satisfied with the standard English translation of “consider.” It doesn’t carry the intensity the Greek word suggests. Therefore, I’d subscribe to the New Living Translations phrase, “think carefully about this Jesus…” It more accurately reflects the author’s intent.

Please note that verse 1 of Hebrews chapter 3 addresses Christians. The chapter begins with, “therefore, holy brothers, sharers in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus…” His appeal is to people he believes will be in heaven with him. He’s not threatening them in any way about the loss of their place in heaven, he’s addressing the experience of their faith in the here and now. This exhortation is not to try harder, to be better, or more diligent in religious expressions. That’s work! He’s calling them to understand Jesus’ role more profoundly to find the rest that He promises. Jesus said in Matthew 11:29, “learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

[1] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 349.

[2] Johannes Behm and Ernst Würthwein, ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 973.