Hebrews 4

Hebrews 4:3

For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said,
although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.

We who have believed enter that rest. Faith is not work but a rest (Rom. 4:5). Faith is resting in the persuasion that God is who he says he is, has done what he said he’s done, and will do what he has promised to do.

Abraham “was fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” (Rom 4:21). Faith is being fully persuaded. When you are fully persuaded, you can rest. The issue is settled. Your mind is made up and your heart is at ease.

Hebrews 4:6

Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience,

Disobedience. The original word (apeitheia) means disbelief and derives from a word (peitho) that means to convince, win over, or persuade. Since faith is being persuaded or convinced that God loves you (Acts 28:24), disobedience in a new covenant sense is refusing to be persuaded. It has nothing to do with breaking the rules and everything to do with refusing to trust Jesus. This word is translated as unbelief in some Bibles.

Hebrews 4:7

He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before,

(a) Today; see entry for Heb. 3:7.

(b) If you hear his voice, do not refuse him who is speaking (Heb. 12:25). The Holy Spirit calls all to believe in Jesus.

(c) Do not harden; see entry for Heb. 3:8.

Hebrews 4:10

For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.

The one who has entered His rest. The gospel of grace is not an invitation to pick up tools, but to drop them. It’s not a job advertisement, but a holiday. It’s not a day of work; it’s a day of rest. Grace declares, “It is finished, the work is done,” and faith responds, “Thank you, Jesus!” Faith is not something you must do or manufacture. Faith is resting in the restful persuasion that God is at rest and in him so are we.

Further reading: “Faith is a rest.

Hebrews 4:11

Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.

(a) That rest. Throughout the New Testament, faith is described as a rest (Matt 11:29, Rom. 4:5, Heb. 4:3, 11) while unbelief is described with verbs or action words like hardening your heart (Heb. 3:8), trampling the Son of God underfoot (Heb. 10:29), refusing and turning away from him who warns from heaven (Heb. 12:25).

See entry for “Rest”

(b) Disobedience. This word is translated as unbelief in some Bibles. See entry for Hebrews 4:6.

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

(a) The word of God refers to the revealed will of God.

The word of God is the way by which God makes himself and his will known (1 Sam. 3:21). God’s word is powerful, creative and sustains all things (2 Pet. 3:5). His word is the means by which the universe came into existence (Gen. 1:3, John 1:1). His word gives life to the dead (Eze. 37:4). His word is a lamp that guides us in the path of life (Ps. 119:105). God’s word always comes to pass (Is. 55:11).

See entry for Word of God.

(b) Living and active. The word of God is not some inert thing. It is alive and full of energy. It has the power to plough through hard hearts, demolish strongholds, and release life.

(c) Two-edged sword. God’s word can pierce and divide things which are not easily divisible (e.g., soul and spirit, joints and marrow).

(d) Soul. Your soul is that part of you that contains your personality, memories, and intentions. Metaphorically, it is your heart and mind.

(e) Spirit. Your spirit is that part of you that makes you spiritually aware or God-conscious. The spirit and soul are as intimately connected as joints and marrow. They are as hard to separate as the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Further reading, “Spirit and soul

Hebrews 4:13

And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

No creature hidden from His sight. On the day he returns, the Lord will judge the secrets of our hearts (see entry for Rom. 2:16). Nothing and no one will be hidden from his sight.

Hebrews 4:14

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

Let us hold fast our confession. Some read this exhortation into a threat. “Fail to hold fast and you will slide out of the kingdom.” We do not hold fast to ensure our salvation; we are able to hold fast our confession because Jesus is our great high priest. He knows us (Heb. 4:15) and aids us (Heb. 4:16), and he will not let us slip from his mighty right hand (John 10:28).

Hebrews 4:16

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

(a) Draw near. We can approach God, freely and boldly with complete confidence (Heb. 7:19, 10:1, 22, Jas. 4:8). We draw near to the Father by trusting in the Son (Heb. 7:25).

(b) Throne of grace. The Son, who is full of grace and truth, is the exact representation of our gracious and forgiving Father.

(c) Receive mercy. Mercy is how God’s grace appears to the needy.

Mercy is one facet of God’s grace. Just as God is rich in grace (Eph. 1:7, 2:7, Jas. 4:6), he is rich in mercy (Luke 1:58, Eph. 2:4, Jas. 5:11, 1 Pet. 1:3). He is the God of all grace (1 Pet. 5:10) and the Father of all mercies (2 Cor. 1:3). See entry for Mercy.

(d) Grace to help. To those in need, grace looks like help.

Here are three lies that will hinder you from receiving grace: (1) I don’t need help (I’m independent); (2) I can’t get help (I’m helpless), and (3) God won’t help (I’m hopeless). The scriptures emphatically declare that God is our very great Helper who rides across the heavens to help us (Deu 33:26). God is our very present help in times of trouble (Ps. 46:1). See also entry for Heb. 13:6.

Further reading: “What is the difference between mercy and grace?

(e) In time of need. We come to God with our needs looking for mercy and find grace. What is the difference? Mercy pays the bills; grace blesses us with an abundance. Mercy delivers you from servitude; grace adopts you as a son. Mercy clears your debts; grace makes you a coheir with Christ.

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