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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Hebrews 4

 

 

Verse 1

Hebrews 4:1. φοβηθῶμεν, let us fear) Since many have fallen, there is cause for fear.— καταλειπομένης ἐπαγγελίας) Since a promise has been left and reserved for us, after the others have neglected it. The same word is found, in the same sense, Romans 11:4. A kindred verb is ἀπολείπεται, is left, remains, Hebrews 4:6; Hebrews 4:9, ch. Hebrews 10:26. This expression, interwoven with the exhortation, is a proposition which is proved, Hebrews 4:3. The verb ἐπαγγέλλομαι, I promise, is very often found in this epistle, as well as the noun, ἐπαγγελία, a promise. In this chapter the apostle is speaking of the rest of eternal life; for to-day still continues, when (since) there remains the danger of falling, if we give way to hardness of heart. To-day, well improved, terminates in rest. Rest is that which, once obtained, is not again lost. We now (comp. ch. Hebrews 2:5, note) are urged to look still further. Foretaste in this life is not denied: full rest is. All foretastes of rest are evidently small, when compared with things above.— δοκῇ τις, any one should seem) Euphemism. Every man should so run, that it may be said of him, without any appearance of the contrary, This man runs. δοκεῖν, in this passage, ὑπόδειγμα, an example, Hebrews 4:11, and ἐνδείκνυσθαι, to show, ch. Hebrews 6:11, are conjugates: δείκω, pret. mid. δέδοκα, thence δοκέω, and the ideas agree; for he who shows a desire does not seem to remain; he who seems to remain is an example of obstinacy.— ὑστερηκέναι, to have failed) to have come short. The same word occurs, Hebrews 12:15. The examples, Hebrews 12:17; Numbers 14:40; Luke 13:25 : ὑστερεῖν ποιῆσαι τὸ πάσχα, to fail to keep the passover, Numbers 9:13. ὑστερεῖν, with Plato, at the beginning of the Gorgias, is to come after the festival is ended.


Verse 2

Hebrews 4:2. γὰρ, for) This refers to φοβηθῶμεν, let us fear.— εὐηγγελισμένοι, to us was the Gospel preached [we have had the Gospel preached to us]) We should think that this expression is spoken especially to us, who are called Evangelical: Hebrews 4:6.— κᾀκεῖνοι [as well as they], as well as to them) The promise of the land of Canaan had been proclaimed to those men of old, Hebrews 4:6.— οὐκ ὠφέλησεν, did not profit) There is less said here than is intended (Meiosis). On the contrary [so far was it from profiting them], the unbelievers incurred the greatest guilt and punishment. Supply, nor will it be profitable to us without faith.— μὴ συγκεκραμένος, not being mixed with) The word is entirely mixed with and insinuated into the believing soul; and when it is thus mingled, it makes its way wonderfully, as a health-giving draught, and something more powerful even than that, Hebrews 4:12-13.— τῇ πίστει) with faith, the dative.— τοῖς ἀκούσασιν) So far as concerns them that heard it. Comp. Romans 4:12, note. To these are opposed οἱ πιστεύσαντες, those who believed, in the following verse.


Verse 3

Hebrews 4:3. γὰρ) This word refers to the expression, a promise being left, Hebrews 4:1.— καθὼς, as) Unbelief alone acts as a hinderance.— καίτοι, although) The Protasis is, although the works were finished from the beginning of the world. The Apodosis is, yet He said, I have sworn. But because the Apodosis in the text comes first, yet is omitted. The proposition is, a rest remains to us. This proposition, Hebrews 4:3-11, is proved thus. Rest is mentioned in the psalm; and yet there it does not signify, I. the rest of God from creation; for this was long before the times of Moses. Therefore another rest was to be expected in the times of Moses, of which those during the same period, who had heard, evidently came short. Nor yet, 2., does that rest which they obtained by Joshua, support the title to this rest; for it was not until afterwards that the Psalmist sung of it. Therefore, 3., he sung of a rest more recent than all these kinds of rest, viz. a rest which would be enjoyed in heaven.— τῶν ἔργων ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου γενηθέντων) The genitive absolute, i.e. although the works of the Creator were finished and perfected from the foundation of the world.


Verse 4

Hebrews 4:4. εἴρηκε, He said) viz. GOD, who also speaks in Hebrews 4:5; Hebrews 4:7.— ἑβδόμης) viz. ἡμέρας.— καὶ κατέπαυσεν θεὸς ἐν τῇ, κ. τ. λ.) Genesis 2:2, LXX., καὶ κατέπαυσε τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ ἑβδόμῃ ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν ἔργων αὐτοῦ, ὧν ἔποιησε, He rested, He withdrew Himself, so to speak, to His eternal tranquillity. It is remarkable that Moses has mentioned the end of the former days, but not of the seventh: Heb. from His work. It was one work, comprehending many works. The single term κατέπαυσεν corresponds to the Heb. מנוחה and שבת, by most suitably connecting the two passages Psalms 95 and Genesis 2.


Verse 5

Hebrews 4:5. ἐν τούτῳ) in this, viz. saying of the psalm. So ἐν ἑτέρῳ, in another) ch. Hebrews 5:6.


Verse 6

Hebrews 4:6. ἐπεὶ οὖν, seeing therefore) GOD does not wish that His rest should be empty (not filled with guests): Luke 14:23.— πρότερον, first) in the time of Moses.— εὐαγγελισθέντες) A rare use of the word applied to the men of old. He is no doubt speaking of the promise of the land of Canaan, but with a view to the Gospel-preaching of eternal life.


Verse 7

Hebrews 4:7. πάλιν, again) Who would have thought that there is a sermon so important and so solemn in the 95th Psalm? Let us highly value the words of GOD comp. ch. Hebrews 10:8, note.— ὁρίζει, He limits) viz. GOD.— ἡμέραν, a day) This is deduced from the quotation, σήμερον, to-day, which is presently brought forward. See how beautifully he lays stress on the word, יום, a day, and single words in the same manner often, ch. Hebrews 2:8 ; Hebrews 2:11-12, Hebrews 7:11; Hebrews 7:21, Hebrews 8:13, Hebrews 10:9, Hebrews 12:5; Hebrews 12:27 : the day, viz. that of striving for the heavenly rest: Hebrews 4:8.— ἐν, in) So ch. Hebrews 1:1.— τοσοῦτον χρόνον) so long a time, more than four hundred years from Moses and Joshua to David, who sung this psalm.— καθὼς προείρηται, as it was before said) The apostle refers his hearers to the whole text, as repeated above from the psalm.


Verse 8

Hebrews 4:8. ἰησοῦς) Joshua.— οὐκ ἂν) There is a similar mode of reasoning, ch. Hebrews 7:11, Hebrews 8:4; Hebrews 8:7, Hebrews 11:15.— περὶ ἄλλης ἡμέρας, of another day) By observing which an access would be opened also to another rest.


Verse 9

Hebrews 4:9. ἄρα, therefore) For this reason, because He speaks of another day.— σαββατισμὸς, sabbatism, rest) The word is changed for κατάπαυσις, rest; comp. the following verse. In time there are many sabbaths; but then, there will be a sabbatism, the enjoyment of rest, one, perfect, eternal. The verbal noun is extremely emphatic: it is not met with in the LXX. There will be no elementary sabbath in heaven; because earthly labour shall have passed away: but the rest will be perpetual, which, however, itself will again have its own various modes (ways, divisions), according to the different state of the priests and of the rest of the blessed in their resurrection bodies (carnis beatæ), and according to the intervals of the heavenly times to which the new moons and Jewish Sabbath corresponded: Isaiah 66:21; Isaiah 66:23.— τῷ λαῷ τοῦ θεοῦ, to the people of GOD) He had said absolutely, of the people, ch. Hebrews 2:17, when he was treating of reconciliation: but now, when he is treating of eternal rest, he says, to the people of God, that is, to the Israel of God, as Paul speaks, Galatians 6:16. He therefore specially intends the Israelites (inasmuch as he is writing to the Hebrews), and them, too, believers.


Verse 10

Hebrews 4:10. γὰρ, for) Verse 9 is proved thus: He who has entered into the rest of God, rests from his labours; but the people of GOD do not yet rest: therefore they have not yet entered in. It remains, that they enter in.— ἀπὸ τῶν ἔργων αὐτοῦ) from his works, even from those that were good and suitable to the time of doing work. Labour precedes rest; and that would have doubtless been the case, even in paradise, Genesis 2:15.— ὥστερ, as) The work and rest of GOD are that archetype to which we ought to be conformed.


Verse 11

Hebrews 4:11. ἐκείνην, that) future, great.— ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ) in or after the same, as those men of former times.— ὑποδείγματι, example) The same word is found at Hebrews 8:5, Hebrews 9:23. He who falls through unbelief, is an example to others, who then say, Behold, δεῖνα, that man, has in like manner fallen.— πέσῃ) fall, with the soul, not merely with the body: ch. Hebrews 3:17. Moses speaks without reference to the ruin of souls, when he recounts the destruction of the people in the wilderness.


Verse 12

Hebrews 4:12. ζῶν γὰρ, for quick, lively) The efficacy of the word of GOD and the omniscience of GOD Himself is described as saving to those in the case of whom the word of GOD is mixed with faith on their part [Hebrews 4:2], but as terrible to those who are obstinate: comp. 2 Corinthians 2:15.— λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ) the word of God that is preached, Hebrews 4:2, and which is the Gospel-word, ib., and is joined with threatening, Hebrews 4:3. For Christ, the hypostatic Word, is not said to be a sword, hut to have a sword (comp. Joshua 5:13, to which passage this passage, relating to Joshua, Hebrews 4:8, seems also to refer); nor is He called κριτικὸς, judicial, but κριτὴς, the Judge. The appellation of Sword, given to God, Deuteronomy 33:29, is suitable to the song, not to the ordinary style of epistolary writing.— τομώτερος) more cutting, sharper.— διικνούμενος ἄχρι μερισμοῦ, piercing even to the dividing) Its parallel presently, κριτικὸς, judicial, judging, discerning.— ψυχῆς τε καὶ πνεύματος, of soul and spirit) Hence it is evident that soul and spirit are not synonymous, but the spirit is in the soul. Man, contemplated according to his nature, consists of soul and body, Matthew 10:28 : but when he has in him the working of GOD’S word, he consists of spirit, soul, and body. The inmost parts, and the recesses in the spirit, soul, and body of man, are called by Synecdoche(27) ἁρμοὶ καὶ μυελοὶ, joints and marrow (marrows). Moses forms the soul, Christ the spirit, 2 Corinthians 3:6. The soul attracts (draws with it) the body, the spirit both, 1 Thessalonians 5:23. The spirit is divided from the soul by the efficacy of the word of GOD, when the former is claimed for GOD the latter is left to itself, in so far as it either does not attain to, or does not follow the spirit. And as the joints are not only divided from the marrow, but the joints and marrow respectively are divided into their own parts: nor are the intentions only distinguished from the thoughts, but the intentions themselves, as well as the thoughts themselves, are discerned [decided upon]: so, not only is the soul divided from the spirit, but as it were a part of the spirit is divided from part of the spirit, a part of the soul from part of the soul: Luke 2:35. Flesh and spirit are also separated: 1 Peter 4:6, note.— ἐνθυμήσεων καὶ ἐννοιῶν, of the intentions and thoughts) He comes from the greater parts as soul and spirit, and from the less as joints and marrow, to the faculties of the mind. ἐνθύμησις, intention, involves feeling; there follows by gradation ἔννοια, thought, which expresses something simpler, previously existing and internal. Both nourish and foster either good or evil. θυμὸς, from θύω, ὁρμῶ· νόος from νέω, κινοῦμαι.


Verse 13

Hebrews 4:13. κτίσις, a creature) A word quite general: presently afterwards we find πάντα, all things.— ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ, in His sight) His, GOD’S, Hebrews 4:12. The analysis of the statement will be easy, if both of its parts are put in the nominative case: It is GOD, whose word is quick or living: it is GOD, before whom there is no creature that is not manifest. So, in ch. Hebrews 11:23, the nominative case is to be understood: By faith the parents of Moses concealed Moses. Ibid., 11"30: By faith the Israelites went round the walls of Jericho, that they might fall down. The omniscience of GOD is laid open to men by the word; and those who have not the word still feel that omniscient power in their consciences. A remarkable argument for the truth of religion from its efficacy.— τετραχηλισμένα) τραχηλίζω, I throw one on his back, is used in Greek and Latin for I lay open. Bodies which lie on the belly are scarcely considered naked, for they cover themselves: those lying on their back are laid open to the view in all their noblest and most distinguishing parts. Show, O man, shame and fear towards thy GOD for no veil, no twisting, bending, colouring, or disguise, can cover faithlessness.— αὐτοῦ, of Him) This again is to be referred to GOD.— πρὸς ὃν ἡμῖν λόγος, with whom we have to do) We have to do with Him, with God, with such a one as is described, Hebrews 4:12-13, [whose face and judgment we cannot escape.—V. g.] We have therefore need of earnestness [Hebrews 4:11, σπουδάσωμεν]. The relative ὅν, whom, has the power of the demonstrative pronoun: λόγος, דבר, concern, business. So the LXX., Judges 18:28, λόγος οὐκ ἔστιν αὐτοῖς μετὰ ἀνθρώπου, they had no business with any man; 2 Kings 9:5, λόγος μοι πρός σε; comp. Acts 19:38. There is the same expression in Chrysostom, περὶ ἱερως., p. 336, αἱ θυγατέρες τῶν ἱερέων, αἷς οὐδεὶς τρὸς τὴν ἱερωσύνην λόγος, the daughters of the priests, who have nothing to do with the priesthood.


Verse 14

Hebrews 4:14. ἔχοντες, having) The exhortation begins in the same way, ch. Hebrews 10:19, Hebrews 12:1.— οὖν, therefore) He resumes the proposition which he had laid down, ch. Hebrews 2:17.— μέγαν, great) for He is the Son of GOD, higher than the heavens. He is called absolutely in Hebrew phraseology, a High Priest, ch. Hebrews 10:21 : but here the Great High Priest, greater than the Levitical high priest.— διεληλυθότα) who has passed into, not merely has entered the heavens: ch. Hebrews 7:26.— κρατῶμεν, let us hold fast) From. ch. Hebrews 3:1 to ch. Hebrews 5:3, there are four points explained by Chiasmus, inasmuch as they contain the doctrine and practical application, the practical application and the doctrine. Look back again, I request, at the summary view (Synopsis) of the epistle.


Verse 15

Hebrews 4:15. οὐ, not) The apostle institutes, by Chiasmus, a comparison between the Levitical high priest and Christ, 1) So far as qualities are concerned: 2) So far as calling is concerned. In the first there are an Apodosis and a Protasis; in the second, a Protasis and an Apodosis: ch. Hebrews 4:15-16, Hebrews 5:1-2; Hebrews 5:4-5.— συμπαθῆσαι, to be touched with a fellow-feeling) He is touched with a fellow-feeling, as having suffered the same things, Isaiah 1:6; Isaiah 1:4 : mercy is a cognate noun, Hebrews 4:16. The reference is to ch. Hebrews 2:17.— ταῖς ἀσθενείαις, with our infirmities) A suitable expression: ch. Hebrews 5:2. The idea of sin, in respect of us, is included; in respect of Christ, is excluded. The words, without sin, presently after follow.— καθʼ ὁμοιότητα, in the likeness) Inasmuch as He was made like us; ch. Hebrews 2:17.— χωρ ʼς ἁμαρτίας, without sin) So ch. Hebrews 9:28 : but how can one, tempted without sin, be capable of sympathising with those who are tempted with sin? With respect to the understanding, the mind of the Saviour much more acutely perceived the forms of temptation than we who are weak; with respect to the will, He as quickly repressed their assault as the fire represses a drop of water cast into it. He therefore experienced what power was necessary to overcome temptations. He is capable of sympathising, for He was both tempted without sin, and yet He was truly tempted.


Verse 16

Hebrews 4:16. προσερχώμεθα, let us draw near) The same word occurs, ch. Hebrews 7:25, Hebrews 10:1; Hebrews 10:22, Hebrews 11:6, Hebrews 12:18; Hebrews 12:22 : in like manner, ἐγγίζειν, ch. Hebrews 7:19 : εἰσέρχεσθαι, ch. Hebrews 6:19 : εἴσοδος, ch. Hebrews 10:19. So Paul also, Romans 5:2, προσαγωγή.— τῷ θρόνῳ, to the throne) ch. Hebrews 8:1, Hebrews 12:2; Isaiah 16:5.— τῆς χάριτος, of grace) This word is also of frequent occurrence in this epistle.— λάβωμεν, κ. τ. λ.) The mercy of Christ being shown, is obtained (is taken, λάβωμεν): and further, the grace of God is found ( εὕρωμεν). The appropriate verb is put before the one noun, and put after the other: Chiasmus.(28)ἔλεον, mercy) This refers to touched with a fellow-feeling.— χάριν, grace) This refers to of grace.— εὔκαιρον, in the needful time, seasonable) Believers do not feel at once the preparations of grace made for a long time to come;(29) but when the time comes, they find it present with them; and this seasonableness especially falls on the times of the New Testament, Romans 3:26; Romans 5:6, and under it on the times of persecution (the cross).— βοήθειαν, help) ch. Hebrews 2:18.

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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Hebrews 4:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/hebrews-4.html. 1897.


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Friday, July 21st, 2017
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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