Hebrews 4

Lack of faith caused failure to enter 1
Sabbath rest promised but people have not entered 4
Strive to enter because we have a great High Priest 11
Text
Comments
  1 ¶ Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.   Therefore Most of the previous chapter is an important part of the discussion here. Begin at he0307.
  Entering ... rest The enter-in part draws symbolism from going into Canaan. See jos2144.
.2  For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.   Gospel So this is also an OT concept.
  Them Those who died in the wilderness he0317.
  Not mixed with faith The essential element.
 3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.   Rest Literally "the rest" or "sabbath-keeping" peace with God. See on he0311, is3015, je0616, mt1129.
  Sworn ... wrath ... shall not enter Paul draws on the story of the rebellion of the children of Israel. When they refused to enter at the appointed time, they were to wander in the wilderness until all who were 20 or older would die in the wilderness nu1428.
.4  For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.
 5  And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
 6  Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
   4 - Certain place ... seventh day See ge0201. The issue here is not which day is the Sabbath. At this time, probably shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, Sunday was only a pagan holiday and there was no thought that Christians should change their day for rest in their faithfulness to the creator God. The writer here is using the weekly Sabbath to emphasize his point of entering into that rest of confidence.
  4 - God did rest ... from all What we can understand is that because God completes what He promises (as He did when He rested after six days of creation), He will have a people who will enter heaven (sometimes referred to as the heavenly Canaan).
  Although not the purpose of the text, we can see that the day God appointed as the day of rest was still understood to be the seventh day of the week at this time in history. Matthew confirms this mt2420.
.7  Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.    7 - Saying in David Reference is again to the appeal to enter as quoted in the preceding chapter. See comments there he0307. So what was the "certain day"? The day David said was "today". It was the time of opportunity to be faithful when he made the appeal.
.8  For if Jesus [or "Joshua"] had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.    Jesus The name was "Joshua" from the Hebrew of the OT. In the present verse, "Joshua" is a better translation for two reasons: (1) He was the one who came after Moses and actually led God's people across the Jordan into Canaan. (2) At that time our Lord had not come in the flesh. He was the I AM of the Exodus. ex0314. If the writer had intended our Saviour who took on humanity at His birth, He would have said, "Christ" which translates as "Messiah" in the OT. This is our Lord's name as Son of God. "Jesus" is His name as "Son of Man" after becoming human.
   Another day Some like to think this is Sunday, but in v7 we saw that the other day was "today." See the special page on this topic go. It simply refers to the "certain day" of verse 7.
 9  There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
 10  For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
   9 - Remaineth ... rest See note below.
   10 - Ceased from his own works Here is perhaps the major point being presented to the Hebrew believers. Losing confidence in Christ who had not yet returned, they were tempted to resume their former system of worship which had been turned into a system of righteousness by works mt15.
.11 ¶ Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
.12  For the word of God is quick [or "alive"], and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
.13  Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
   11 - Labor to enter that rest Continuing the thought of verse 10 with a play on words. The kind of "works" needed is to work to enter rest.
   12 - Word of God is ... powerful This is a precious verse. A prayerful study of the Word brings conviction. Our High Priest cares (next verses) and will provide strength for character perfection.
.14  Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
.15  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
.16  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
   14 - Seeing then Here begins the conclusion that is to be drawn from the symbolism of entering in to rest.
   16 - Boldly Praise God!

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A rest remains

     The author (we assume to have been Paul) has taken the story of Joshua's not finding complete rest for the Israelites as a symbolic framework to convince the Hebrew Christians that they needed to follow Jesus, the new Joshua who would lead them into the heavenly land of promise. Just as the seventh day was rest after work for God, His people would "rest" after slavery in Egypt and wandering in the wilderness. In a similar way, Paul used the account of Melchisedec, overlooking the intent of the original text in Genesis. Because Melchisedec's genealogy was not known, Paul pictures him as having neither parents nor children and concludes that he is a type (symbol) of Christ he07. Melchizedech was a real person who received tithes from Abraham ge1418. Paul's argument was a literary device a parable to illustrate the eternal nature of Christ. In considering the entering-rest argument, we recall that Joshua did lead them to rest from their enemies jos2301. This is not a problem because the author was not using Joshua's experience as textual proof but as a parable. Ten chapters earlier in the story Joshua was already "old" and they had plenty of work yet to do to achieve rest jos1301. The parallel actually stops there.
    The word "Sabbath" in "Sabbath rest" is sabbatismos instead of the usual word sabaton. Some attach sabbatismos to the New Covenant (which is not mentioned in the discussion of Sabbath rest) and conclude that New Testament believers are to rest in Christ. So in discussions about this topic we must beware of possible leaps of logic.
    From a study of the word sabbatismos Samuele Bacchiocchi concludes that it means "sabbath keeping." He explains that Sabbath keeping remains (literally "is left behind") while " the Levitical priesthood and services [were] 'abolished' (Heb 10:9), 'obsolete' and 'ready to vanish away' (Heb 8:13)...." Although my identification of the needed "rest" is different from his, we agree that the story confirms the validity of the seventh-day Sabbath for the New Testament Christian believers called Hebrews. It is important for us as well. See on v4.