Main point summary
God's promise of entering his rest is still available and contingent on our having faith in him. Therefore, we must fear faithlessness and be eager to believe and enter his rest, relying on his word. More so, because we have Jesus, our mega high priest in the presence of God, we ought to come to him in faith for mercy and grace in times of need.
Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands,
Therefore, when the promise of entering God's rest is still available,
Φοβηθῶμεν οὖν, μήποτε καταλειπομένης ἐπαγγελίας εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν κατάπαυσιν αὐτοῦ δοκῇ τις ἐξ ὑμῶν ὑστερηκέναι.
let us fear
we ought to be afraid
lest any of you should seem n to have failed to reach it.
in order that none of you should seem to fall short and miss it.
For good news came to us
Because good news has come to us
καὶ γάρ ἐσμεν εὐηγγελισμένοι καθάπερ κἀκεῖνοι• ἀλλʼ οὐκ ὠφέλησεν ὁ λόγος τῆς ἀκοῆς ἐκείνους μὴ συγκεκερασμένους τῇ πίστει τοῖς ἀκούσασιν.
just as to them,
just as it came to them
but the message they heard did not benefit them,
yet the message that came to them had no profit for them
because o they were not united by faith with those who listened. 1
because they did not have faith like those who listened.
For we who have believed enter that rest,
I say this because we who believe in the God of promise, enter that very same, ever present rest of God,
Εἰσερχόμεθα γὰρ εἰς [τὴν] κατάπαυσιν οἱ πιστεύσαντες, καθὼς εἴρηκεν• ὡς ὤμοσα ἐν τῇ ὀργῇ μου• εἰ εἰσελεύσονται εἰς τὴν κατάπαυσίν μου, καίτοι τῶν ἔργων ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου γενηθέντων.
as he has said, p “As I swore in my wrath,
just as God has said, "As I promised in my anger:
‘They shall not enter my rest,’”
"They will never enter my rest!""
although his works were finished
although God's works are already finished, not something that he will finish in the distant future:
from the foundation of the world.
finished from the foundation of the world.
For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way:
For God has already spoken in Genesis in this way:
εἴρηκεν γάρ που περὶ τῆς ἑβδόμης οὕτως• καὶ κατέπαυσεν ὁ θεὸς ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ ἑβδόμῃ ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν ἔργων αὐτοῦ,
q “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.”
"And God rested from all his works on the seventh day."
And again in this passage he said, r “They shall not enter my rest.”
And now, in Psalm 95, he said (says), "They shall not enter my (ever existing) rest."
καὶ ἐν τούτῳ πάλιν• εἰ εἰσελεύσονται εἰς τὴν κατάπαυσίν μου.
Since therefore it remains for some to enter it,
Therefore, because the rest still remains for some to enter it,
ἐπεὶ οὖν ἀπολείπεται τινὰς εἰσελθεῖν εἰς αὐτήν, καὶ οἱ πρότερον εὐαγγελισθέντες οὐκ εἰσῆλθον διʼ ἀπείθειαν,
and those who formerly received the good news s failed to enter
and those who previously received the good news failed to enter
because of disobedience,
because of disobedience and unbelief,
again he appoints a certain day, “Today,”
therefore, he again ordains a specific day, i.e. "Today" (not tomorrow),
πάλιν τινὰ ὁρίζει ἡμέραν, σήμερον, ἐν Δαυὶδ λέγων μετὰ τοσοῦτον χρόνον, καθὼς προείρηται• σήμερον ἐὰν τῆς φωνῆς αὐτοῦ ἀκούσητε, μὴ σκληρύνητε τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν.
saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,
saying much later, through David
t “Today, if you hear his voice,
" If you hear his voice today,
do not harden your hearts.”
then do not harden your hearts."
For if Joshua had given them rest,
Because, if Joshua had given them the ultimate rest,
εἰ γὰρ αὐτοὺς Ἰησοῦς κατέπαυσεν, οὐκ ἂν περὶ ἄλλης ἐλάλει μετὰ ταῦτα ἡμέρας.
God 1 would not have spoken of another day later on.
then, God would have no need to speak of another day later on in David's time.
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,
Therefore, there still remains a "Sabbath rest" for those who are called people of God,
ἄρα ἀπολείπεται σαββατισμὸς τῷ λαῷ τοῦ θεοῦ.
for whoever has entered God’s rest
because, whoever has entered this Sabbath-rest of God
ὁ γὰρ εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὴν κατάπαυσιν αὐτοῦ καὶ αὐτὸς κατέπαυσεν ἀπὸ τῶν ἔργων αὐτοῦ ὥσπερ ἀπὸ τῶν ἰδίων ὁ θεός.
has also u rested from his works
consequently has also rested from his works
as God did from his.
just as God rested from his works!
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest,
Therefore, let us be diligent in our enduring pursuit of God's rest,
Σπουδάσωμεν οὖν εἰσελθεῖν εἰς ἐκείνην τὴν κατάπαυσιν, ἵνα μὴ ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ τις ὑποδείγματι πέσῃ τῆς ἀπειθείας.
so v that no one may fall
in order that none of you may fall
by the same sort of disobedience.
because of the same sort of unbelief-disobedience.
For w the word of God is living and x active,
Because the word of God is living and working,
Ζῶν γὰρ ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἐνεργὴς καὶ τομώτερος ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν μάχαιραν δίστομον καὶ διϊκνούμενος ἄχρι μερισμοῦ ψυχῆς καὶ πνεύματος, ἁρμῶν τε καὶ μυελῶν, καὶ κριτικὸς ἐνθυμήσεων καὶ ἐννοιῶν καρδίας•
y sharper than any z two-edged sword,
and more piercing than the sharp double-edged sword,
piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow,
in that it penetrates deeply: to the point that soul, spirit, joints and marrow are not excluded from its effect
and a discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
and it discerns the thoughts and intentions of the very heart.
And b no creature is hidden from his sight,
and no creature is hidden from its sight,
καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν κτίσις ἀφανὴς ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ, πάντα δὲ γυμνὰ καὶ τετραχηλισμένα τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς αὐτοῦ, πρὸς ὃν ἡμῖν ὁ λόγος.
but all are c naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
instead all are exposed and left naked and vulnerable before the eyes of HIM to whom we are held accountable. We cannot pretend before the word, or Him who wrote the word.
Since then we have d a great high priest
And so, because we have a mega high priest
Ἔχοντες οὖν ἀρχιερέα μέγαν διεληλυθότα τοὺς οὐρανούς, Ἰησοῦν τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ, κρατῶμεν τῆς ὁμολογίας.
e who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God,
who has passed through the heavens: Jesus, the only Son, begotten of God,
f let us hold fast our confession.
therefore, let us hold fast our confession and faith.
For we do not have a high priest g who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
Because the high priest we have, although a mega-high priest, is not someone unable to sympathize with our frailties,
οὐ γὰρ ἔχομεν ἀρχιερέα μὴ δυνάμενον συμπαθῆσαι ταῖς ἀσθενείαις ἡμῶν, πεπειρασμένον δὲ κατὰ πάντα καθʼ ὁμοιότητα χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας.
but one who in every respect has been d tempted as we are,
but is one who has been tested just as we are in every way,
h yet without sin.
yet is without sin.
i Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace,
Therefore, let us draw near his throne, a throne of grace, with confidence
προσερχώμεθα οὖν μετὰ παρρησίας τῷ θρόνῳ τῆς χάριτος, ἵνα λάβωμεν ἔλεος καὶ χάριν εὕρωμεν εἰς εὔκαιρον βοήθειαν.
that we may receive mercy
In order that we may receive mercy
and find grace to help in time of need.
and find grace to help in our times of need (not merely after our times of need).
"For we...enter that rest...and yet his works were finished..." The rest we enter is not mere future hope but a reality God enjoys right now into which he calls us. At the same time, just because God has finished working, i.e. ordaining everything, it does not mean that our entering God's rest is guaranteed. It is contingent on faith, belief without drifting
This Ground appears to refer to the authority of Scripture (here, the expounded OT passages) upon which the author is building his entire argument. And we should have our souls pierced by what he is saying.
ὑστερηκέναι (root word: hystereo fall short/ become too late
Because we see the failure of the Israelites in their unbelief of God and his promise, we ought to be afraid so that we aren't hired into the same trap and miss his promise too!
We ought to fear unbelief in God and his promises.
Again, quoting from Psalm 95
cf. Genesis 2:2
Unlike them who did not believe.
There was a kind of good news that they too received - full of mercy and promises that they needed to trust
It is faith that makes good news "good" [profitable]
By this word association between the two texts, Psalm 95:11 and Genesis 2:2–3 (a method common in rabbinic writings, known as gezerâ shawâ), our author has imaginatively broadened the discussion and raised the stakes. The “rest” he is talking about is not a mere cessation from trouble in an earthly paradise but a sharing in the eternal rest of God himself, which began when creation was finished and will never end. Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 66). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
They entered Canaan indeed, which is what their ancestors had been promised, but both the incompleteness of the conquest and the frustrating precariousness of their hold on the land that followed in the period of the judges meant that under Joshua they still did not find the “rest” they had hoped for. Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 67). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
...Ἰησοῦς... Hebrews 4:8 NA28 While one "Jesus" failed, another did not.
σαββατισμός sab-bat-is-mos' /sabbatismós/ Noun A sabbath-rest experience. The term used is not the regular sabbaton but sabbatismos, a verbal noun used nowhere else in biblical literature but with the effect of focusing on the experience of “sabbathing” rather than merely on the day itself. Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 67). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
σπουδάζω spoo-dad'-zo /spoudázō/ Verb strongs: G4704 source: from σπουδή; We hasten (are zealous/ eager) Inflected: Σπουδάσωμεν aoristactivesubjunctive1stplural
This striving/diligence to enter God's rest ought to be our single-minded pursuit. This will be evident in our thoughts and actions.
Or perish. C.f. Hebrews 3:12; This falling (away) is consequent to a heart without faith - an evil, unbelieving heart
v.12 not only relates to the whole exposition of God's word from Hebrews 3:7-4:11 but also to the commands, especially in v.11, in other words: "How do we strive to enter that rest?" One answer would be tied to the Word of God and my willingness to be pierced by it.
cf. Isaiah 55:11, Psalm 147:15,18; Jeremiah 23:29
“Uncovered and laid bare” translates a remarkably vivid phrase (Montefiore, “naked and prostrate”), in which the second term comes from wrestling and originally denoted “taken by the throat” or “with the neck twisted back,” hence at the mercy of your opponent. (An alternative sense that might still reflect the imagery of the sword is that it pictures a sacrificial victim with its neck bared to the knife.) The sense is that of Psalm 139, with its insistent declaration that God knows everything about us and it is no good trying to escape him. Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 68). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
Cf. Hebrews 2:17-18 This chunk continues the author's previous argument that was halted temporarily for the sake of the "practical punch"
Perhaps our author already has in mind the ritual of the Day of Atonement, when the high priest penetrated behind the curtain into the Holy of Holies. By contrast, our high priest has gone right through into heaven itself, and that is where he is now enthroned at God’s right hand. Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 72). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
cf. Hebrews 3:6,14
But can such a great high priest in heaven also care about our human concerns? Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 72). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
That he “passed through the heavens” calls to mind the ascension as Jesus rose through the clouds and through the sky into another realm, namely, the presence of God himself. Before Christ, the holiest place of the tabernacle or temple was entered once a year by the high priest. But that was just a shadow of the true Holy Place in heaven where God dwells. This is where our High Priest lives today. He has immediate access to God in heaven day and night. Hebrews 7:25 says, “He always lives to make intercession for [us].” https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/draw-near-to-the-throne-of-grace-with-confidence
Fifty years ago, C.S. Lewis imagined someone objecting here: “If Jesus never sinned, then he doesn’t know what temptation is like. He lived a sheltered life and is out of touch with how strong temptation can be.” Here is what Lewis wrote in response to that objection: A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is . . . A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in . . . Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means — the only complete realist.
Verses 14–15 have set side by side the two essentials for the perfect high priest: to be in the position of ultimate authority with God in heaven, and yet also to have a personal knowledge of our human condition. No earthly priest could offer the first, and no angel the second, but in Jesus we have both. Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 73). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
The old high priests were the only ones with some kind of entitlement to approach God. Jesus, our mega high priest obliterates that old order giving us direct access to God and his throne of mercy and grace.
This help is offered IN our times of need. We approach the throne then, not after. The other side is that which time is not a time of need?
The author re-summarises his earlier argument from chapter 2-3. Since Jesus is our great high priest, tempted as we are and yet without sin and in the very presence of God, let us hold fast to our faith and draw near to God in confidence!
What are the commands in this chapter? Why does the author make these commands? What means does he offer for us to keep these commands? What is "rest" referring to? If Christ's work set us free from fear, why is the author telling us to fear? What should we fear? Why? In the light of Hebrews, what care should we take while making statements like "Once saved, always saved"? Why does the author repeatedly talk about "Today"? Why is "Today" important? What is the relationship between falling because of disobedience and the Word of God being sharper than a two-edged sword? How does God know how to judge rightly?* What is so special about grace(v16)? Does it relate to "rest"? How? How seriously do we take the promises (including the threats) in this passage? How seriously do we take the work of Christ, our mega high priest? What has God stirred your heart to do, based on chapter 4? *Arthur, Kay. The Key to Living by Faith (The New Inductive Study Series) (p. 43). Harvest House Publishers. Kindle Edition.