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Wednesday, June 19th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 4

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


Let us fear, then. “Since the Israelites were not allowed in because of their unbelief, we should fear that the same thing could happen to us, and be careful that we go all the way into the promised land!”

Verse 2


Just as they did. The Good News to them was the promise of Canaan. The Good News to us is Eternity! Compare 2 Peter 3:13. But it did them no good. Their failure to believe God, disqualified them! [On faith, see note on James 2:19.]

Verse 3


We who believe, then. “If their unbelief disqualified them, then we who believe will be qualified to go in and rest with God.” As he said. See Hebrews 3:11 and note. Even though. God intended man to go in and rest with him. If they do not do this, it certainly is not because God left his work unfinished! The sabbath is symbolic of this Eternal Rest, yet keeping the sabbath is not the same as entering into that Rest.

Verse 4


About the seventh day. The Sabbath is Saturday (see Matthew 28:1 and note). The quotation is from Genesis 2:2. The sabbath had special meaning for the Jews (Deuteronomy 5:15). Yet the rest of the seventh-day-Sabbath was not the rest which Israel was denied, nor the rest which we who believe do go into. God rested = God completely rested, because his work was finished.

Verse 5


This same matter. Again he quotes Psalms 95:11 Septuagint. “This shows that a rest different from the one in Canaan, was promised to Abraham’s descendants. This rest would be forfeited by unbelief, but seized by believing!”

Verse 6


Those who first heard. God does not experiment or make mistakes. The very fact that he created a rest proves that some will go in and rest. Those who first heard the Good News of this rest did not go in. But those who do believe (like Joshua and Caleb), will be allowed to go in and rest.

Verse 7


This is shown. Long after Israel had gone into Canaan, God spoke to them through David. These words quote Psalms 95:7-8 Septuagint. This shows that the words to the Israelites in the desert were not only for them, but was a command for mankind in all ages of time (when properly understood).

Verse 8


If. [Note that Joshua and Jesus are different forms of the same Hebrew name.] “If God’s promise had been completely made to come true by Joshua leading the people into Canaan, there would be no reference to another day! Yet David speaks of another day!”

Verse 9


There still remains. “Since neither the Sabbath nor Canaan made God’s promise come true, it still remains for God’s people to receive this rest.”

Verse 10


Will rest from his own works. In other words, God’s people will not go in and rest until their time of testing and suffering is completed. Compare Revelation 14:13.

Verse 11


Let us, then. “Since there is the possibility of going in and resting with God, we should do our best to seize it! We should not disbelieve and disobey as the Israelites did, and be turned away and disqualified!”

Verse 12


The word of God. The Israelites were turned away when they refused to hear and believe. The message of the Good News calls us to go into God’s Rest. This word is alive and active, because of its influence on us (compare 1 Peter 1:22-23). It is sharper. It cuts in all directions. Phocylides said: “Reason is a weapon that penetrates deeper into a man than a sword.” To where soul and spirit meet. We ordinarily say soul when we mean spirit. PSUCHE means: soul, self, inner life, one’s inmost being: (physical) life; that which has life, living creature, person, human being. The writer of this Letter sees man as a triune being, as does Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:23. These three parts are: a body of flesh and blood; a sentient soul [“In whose hand is the soul of everything living, and the spirit of all human flesh.” Job 12:10 from Zamenhof’s version of the Masoretic Hebrew]; a rational spirit. The meaning of this whole verse is: “The word of God coming to men in the message of the Good News, offering the highest kind of good, tests their real desires, motivations, and goals. This is an infallible test of whether a person truly loves and searches for the good; or repudiates it as his eternal inheritance.”

Verse 13


There is nothing. MacKnight sees here a reference to the symbolism of the Jewish burnt offering, where the animal was skinned, ripped open, eviscerated, and its backbone split. This was symbolic that nothing was hidden in the one for whom the sacrifice was offered. Unfaithfulness, disloyalty, and hypocrisy, no matter how carefully hidden, cannot be concealed from our Judge!!!

Verse 14


Hold firmly. “The unbelieving Jews say the gospel has neither a High Priest nor any sacrifice for sin; and they urge you to turn away from Christ and go back to the Law. But hold firmly to the faith! We have a great High Priest who has gone into the very presence of God!!!” See also Hebrews 9:11-14.

Verse 15


Our high priest. “Even though our High Priest is the Son of God, he can feel sympathy with our weakness.” Who was tempted. Our technological age creates no new temptations, but only brings the old temptations closer to us. In his earthly experience, Jesus met and conquered everything that we will ever face! Compare Hebrews 2:17-18 and notes.

Verse 16


Let us be brave. “Because of the High Priest we have, we can be brave and come forward to God’s throne (which Judaism does not make possible)!” There we will receive. Everything is ours in Christ!!! See 1 Corinthians 3:21-23. Judaism nor any other religion has anything to offer that we do not already have in Christ!!! Compare James 1:5.

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Hebrews 4". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/hebrews-4.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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