Hebrews 3:6 and Hebrews 3:14
- But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. (Hebrews 3:6)
- For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; (Hebrews 3:14)
These two passages in Hebrews 3 have been used to teach that people need to persevere in their own good deeds to maintain their salvation. While it's understandable to see these verses in this way at first, there are details in the context and other Biblical passages that shed light on the underlying meaning.
Figuring out the meanings of the metaphors found in scripture usually leads us to understand the truth therein. In Hebrews 3:6, a house is mentioned. The scripture supports the idea that born-again believers are that house:
- Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)
- Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner [stone]; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)
We are built as a house by God when we yield ourselves to Him and have faith in His sayings and promises:
- But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. (Jude 20-21)
- Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. (Luke 6:47-49)
In Luke 6:48 and Ephesians 2:20 above, a stone or rock was mentioned that the house was founded upon. It's made clear that hearing and doing Jesus' sayings (the Bible) provides the foundation. The foundation is comprised of rock or stone, is what I understand the relationship to be. And who or what is the rock or stone?
- Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe [he is] precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, [even to them] which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. (1 Peter 2:6-8)
- But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty [God] of Jacob; (from thence [is] the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) (Genesis 49:24)
- Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner [stone], a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. (Isaiah 28:16)
- For who [is] God save the LORD? or who [is] a rock save our God? (Psalm 18:31)
- And they remembered that God [was] their rock, and the high God their redeemer. (Psalm 78:35)
So to build up this spiritual house, we need to be born again (to be founded on the rock), but also to walk in the Spirit--to live the best Christian life we can. Other verses in the chapter demonstrate that principle, talking about the faithfulness and service of Moses:
- Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses [was faithful] in all his house. For this [man] was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by some [man]; but he that built all things [is] God. And Moses verily [was] faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; (Hebrews 3:2-5)
- Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. (Hebrews 3:12)
- For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which [be] the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk [is] unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, [even] those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14)
- Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. (Hebrews 10:35-36)
In Hebrews 3:14, this may be talking about the importance of continuing to walk the walk set before us, and to continue being transformed by the renewing of our minds. I found what I think is an appropriate passage that might elucidate what being a partaker of Christ can mean--that is, living a more Godly life on earth and receiving the good things that come with that:
- And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected [us], and we gave [them] reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened [us] after their own pleasure; but he for [our] profit, that [we] might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. (Hebrews 12:5-11)
Another explanation for Hebrews 3:14 that I've heard is that the Hebrews being spoken to already believed in God and a coming Messiah, but they needed to have faith in Jesus Christ as their Messiah and believe the real gospel. They had to follow through with their belief and not depart in looking for a different Messiah, and thus they will become partakers of Christ when they are saved, when they reach the conclusion of that faith.