“If” Statements in the Book of Hebrews: Part IV

Hebrews 3:6 is an example of a conditional statement in Greek: “whose house we are, if we grasp firmly our confidence to the end.” In Greek, this sentence is classified as a third class condition; that is, it is an ordinary, everyday kind of conditional statement. After restating it in proper order, we can build a valid syllogism:

If we grasp firmly our confidence to the end, then we are his house.
We are not his house.
Therefore, we do not grasp firmly our confidence.

The first question is what is the relationship between the two parts: A) cause and effect, or B) base and inference? A) We are not his house because we do not grasp our confidence to the end, like the window that breaks because someone has thrown a rock. B) It is a necessary characteristic of those who grasp their confidence to the end that they are indeed his house, like fabric that is not smooth cannot be made of silk.

The invalid syllogism to avoid follows. Note: The conclusion, “we are not his house” cannot be drawn because the condition is not met.

If we grasp firmly our confidence to the end, then we are his house.
We do not grasp firmly our confidence to the end.
Therefore, we are not his house. (invalid conclusion)

One common exhortation in Hebrews, and true in this passage, is that the believer is to be faithful. Therefore, based on the context, the relationship between the clauses is base and inference, not cause and effect. It is a necessary characteristic of those who are faithful, to those who grasp firmly their confession to the end, that they are his house.

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