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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Hebrews 4

Verses 1-13

The Supremacy of Christ. The OT. itself testifies to His supremacy as God’s Son over its own chief personages: (a) first the angels, through whom the Jews believed that creation had been effected and the Law given (Hebrews 1:4 to Hebrews 2:18).

He is also superior (b) to Moses, the founder of the national religion, yet only a servant, whereas He is a Son (Hebrews 3:1-6), He is superior (c) to Joshua. He has rest to give, which Christians are warned not to miss by unfaith-fukiess, as Israel missed the rest of Canaan, which was a type of the true rest of Christ’s kingdom, and which they lost by provoking God in the wilderness. For there is no escape from God’s judgments (Hebrews 3:7 to Hebrews 4:13).

Verses 1-13

The Supremacy of Christ. The OT. itself testifies to His supremacy as God's Son over its own chief personages: (a) first the angels, through whom the Jews believed that creation had been effected and the Law given (Heb 1:4 to Heb 2:18).

He is also superior (b) to Moses, the founder of the national religion, yet only a servant, whereas He is a Son (Heb 3:1-6), He is superior (c) to Joshua. He has rest to give, which Christians are warned not to miss by unfaith-fukiess, as Israel missed the rest of Canaan, which was a type of the true rest of Christ's kingdom, and which they lost by provoking God in the wilderness. For there is no escape from God's judgments (Heb 3:7 to Heb 4:13).

Verses 1-16


Jesus Christ, Giver or the Promised Rest, and High Priest to being Men to God

1-13. Israel through unbelief failed to enter into the promised rest. The rest, therefore, remains open and a promise of entrance is made to us. Let us not make the same mistake and fail to enter in because of unbelief. For by no possibility can the most secret unbelief escape the searching eye of the living God.

1. Being left] God’s promise of rest cannot fail. Israel having failed to enter into it, the promise remains unfulfilled, and therefore it is open for us to enter in, if we keep the faith. Should seem] either a milder form of expression, or, as the words may be rendered, ’should be found to have come short,’ when the time comes. The latter is the more forcible interpretation.

2. The gospel] RV ’Good tidings,’ i.e. a promise of the rest of God. Not being mixed with faith] RV adopts AVmg. ’because they were not united by faith with them that heard,’ which is the rendering of a well-attested various reading. This makes a distinction between ’those who heard’ (i.e. believed and obeyed), who must be Joshua and Caleb, and those who believed not. But in Hebrews 3:16 it is assumed that all believed not. The rendering of AV gives good sense. Faith is the means whereby the word that is heard is vitally appropriated and realised in action.

3. The promise of rest applies to us who are Christians, seeing that those to whom the promise was made failed to attain to it. And their failure was not due to the fact that the rest was not prepared, because it existed since the day that God finished His work of creation. This is proved by the words ’and God rested’ in one place, and the words ’my rest’ in another. God’s rest is therefore a fact, and it is clearly His purpose that some shall enter into it.

7. After so long a time] i.e. the time between Moses and David. In David’s time the rest continued open, and therefore it is concluded that it is open still.

8. Jesus] RV, rightly, ’Joshua.’ The Gk. for both names is the same. If the entry into Canaan under Joshua bad been the fulfilment of the divine promise of rest, there would have been no mention centuries later in the Psalm of a rest still remaining; hence, ’there remaineth a rest for the people of God.’

9. A rest] RV’ a sabbath rest.’ The rest that remaineth is also of a different character from the rest of Canaan. It is God’s rest, a holy and eternal satisfaction.

10. His rest] i.e. God’s rest: 12. Quick, and powerful] RV ’living, and active.’ It does not die when uttered, but continues vital and operative, and, like a sharp sword, penetrates to the inmost recesses of the heart and life. A discerner] RV ’quick to discern,’ lit. ’critical,’ i.e. able to judge.

14-16. A summary of what has been said, forming a transition to the treatment of Christ’s supremacy as High Priest, which takes up the main body of the Epistle.

14. Seeing then] The connexion is with Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 3:1. Into the heavens] RV ’through the heavens.’ In Jewish theology there were several heavens: cp. 2 Corinthians 12:2. Jesus has passed through all the outer courts into the Holy of Holies: cp. Hebrews 9:24. He occupies the highest place in heaven (Hebrews 1:3).

15. However highly Christ is exalted He sympathises with us, having experienced the trials and temptations of humanity. This combination in Him of suffering and sinlessness is the ground of our confidence in Him: cp. Hebrews 7:26. Yet without sin] i.e. His trials and temptations never resulted in sin.

16. Come boldly] RV ’draw near.’ This privilege of access is one of many points of superiority in the new dispensation as compared with the old: cp. Hebrews 10:19-22; Hebrews 12:18-24; Ephesians 2:13, Ephesians 2:18.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/hebrews-4.html. 1909.