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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.
Ver. 1. Let us fear ] With a fear not of diffidence, but of diligence. See Trapp on " Php 2:12 " See Trapp on " 1Co 10:12 "
Lest a promise ] Some render it thus, Lest we should seem to fall short of the promise that is left us, &c. But where is that promise left us, may some say? It is closely couched in the former commination,Hebrews 3:18; Hebrews 3:18 . God sware that unbelievers should not enter, and therefore intimates a promise that believers shall enter. A bee can suck sweet honey out of bitter thyme, so cannot a fly do.
To come short of it ] To come lag and late, υστερηκεναι , when the gate is shut, the drawbridge taken up, as those foolish virgins, or as lazy race runners, or as those that come a day after the fair, an hour after the feast, and so are frustrated.
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 .
Ver. 2. The word preached ] Gr. ο λογος της ακοης , the word of hearing, i.e. the promise that fell from the preacher’s lips into their ears. Nescio quid divinum in auscultatione est, saith one; I know not what divine business there is in hearing; but sure I am that what we hear doth more deeply affect us, and more firmly abide with us, and stick by us, than what we read.
In them that heard it ] In their hearts, as in so many vessels. Faith and the promise meeting make a happy mixture, a precious confection.
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.
Ver. 3. For we which have believed ] Believers (and they only) have heaven beforehand in pretio, in promisso, in primitiis, in the price that was paid for it, in the promise of it (which is a sure hold), and in the firstfruits, the graces of the Spirit, which are as those grapes in the land of Canaan.
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.
Ver. 4. And God did rest ] Here the apostle showeth what that rest of believers is. Not that seventh day’s rest, Hebrews 4:5 , nor that other rest, Psalms 95:11 , meant of the land of Canaan, but another and better, typified in both those, viz. a spiritual resting from our own works of sins, so as God resteth in his love to us,Zephaniah 3:17; Zephaniah 3:17 , and we sweetly acquiesce in our interest in him, Psalms 116:7 .
5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
Ver. 5. If they shall enter ] q.d. Then never trust me more. Yet Ambrose here taketh the words for a forcible affirmation, q.d. Si introibunt, bene habebunt.
6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
Ver. 6. Seeing therefore it remaineth ] This is a deduction from the former text of the Psalmist. Such as is that of our Saviour, Matthew 22:32 , from Exodus 3:6 . And such inferences rightly drawn are the very word of God, 1 Corinthians 7:10 .
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.
Ver. 7. After so long a time ] Four hundred years almost passed between Joshua’s and David’s days. David’s today was not Joshua’s today.
Today if ye will hear ] That day of salvation, wherein the Lord doth offer us mercy in the ministry of his word, showing us our misery, and exciting us to use the remedy.
8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
Ver. 8. For if Jesus, &c. ] That is, Joshua, who bad his name changed when he was sent as a spy into Canaan, Numbers 13:16 , from Oshea to Joshua, from Let God save, to God shall save. Under the law (which brings us, as it were, into a briery wilderness) we may desire, wish, and pray, that there were a Saviour, but under the gospel we are sure of salvation. Our Jesus is Jehovah our Righteousness.
9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
Ver. 9. A rest to the people of God ] Gr. A sabbatism, an eternal rest, a sabbath that hath neither evening,Genesis 2:2; Genesis 2:2 , nor labour, Revelation 14:13 . But they shall enter into peace, rest in their beds, Isaiah 57:2 ; be ravished in spirit, receive the full import and purport of the weekly sabbath, rest from travail and trouble,Revelation 1:10; Revelation 1:10 . Revelation 1:2 . Of the seventh-year sabbath; for the creature, the ground shall rest from its vanity and slavery, Romans 8:20-21 . Romans 8:3 . Of the seventh seven year sabbath, the Jubilean sabbath; for their debts shall be all discharged, their mortgages released, their persons set at liberty from sin and Satan’s slavery.
10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
Ver. 10. From his own works ] From the servile works of sin, Psalms 18:23 . These are our own works. As a lie is the devil’s own, John 8:44 , "When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own;" so when we do evil, we work de nostro et secundum hominem, 1 Corinthians 3:3 . It is as impossible for us naturally to do good as for a toad to spit cordials.
11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
Ver. 11. Let us labour ] Here he resumes and re-inforces his former exhortations; that his words may be as nails and goads fastened by the masters of the assemblies. The judgment is first to be illightened by doctrine, and then the affections to be inflamed by exhortation; like as, in the law, first the lamps were lighted, and then the incense burned.
Fall after the same example ] God hangs up some malefactors, as it were in gibbets, for a warning to others. a Jethro grew wise by the plagues that befell his neighbour, prince Pharaoh, as Rabbi Solomon observeth. And Belshazzar is destroyed for not profiting by his father’s calamities; Daniel 5:22 , "Thou hast not humbled thy heart, though thou knewest all this."
a Exemplo alterius qui sapit, ille sapit.
12 For the word of God is quick, 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.
Ver. 12. Quick and powerful ] Gr. Lively and energetical; sc. in hearts that can treinble at God’s judgments, as David did, Psalms 119:120 . As for hypocrites, the word will ransack them, and give them a very glimpse of the judgment to come, as it did Felix, Herod, &c. God smiteth the earth with this rod of his mouth,Isaiah 11:4; Isaiah 11:4 , he dashes them in the teeth, and maketh them spit blood, as it were; hewing them by his prophets, and slaying them by the words of his mouth, Hosea 6:5 ; Revelation 11:5 .
Soul and spirit ] See Trapp on " 1Th 5:23 " It affecteth not only the lower parts of the soul, which are less pure, but the purest also, and most supreme; even the spirit of the mind, the bosom as well as the bottom of the soul.
And of the joints and marrow ] The minima and intima, the least things and the most secret.
And is a discerner ] Gr. A curious critic judging exactly, and telling tales of the hearers, disclosing the words that they speak in their very bedchambers, as2 Kings 6:12; 2 Kings 6:12 .
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.
Ver. 13. Neither is there any creature ] No, not the creature of the heart, the most secret thoughts and intentions.
That is not manifest in his sight ] Or in the sight of it, that is, of the word preached; but every the least fibre, the smallest string in the heart, that would escape the sight of the most exact anatomist, is hereby cut up. See 1 Corinthians 14:24 .
But all things are naked and open ] Naked, for the outside, and opened, dissected, quartered, cleft in the back bone (as the word τετραχηλισμενα here signifies), for the inside. Erasmus rendereth it, resupinata, making it a metaphor from those that lie with their faces upwards, that all passengers may see who they are. Theodoret readeth it, Hath the throat cut. So opened (say some others) as the entrails of a man that is anatomized, or of a beast that is cut np and quartered; and not only naked, as when the skin is pulled off. He useth a metaphor (saith an interpreter) taken from a sheep whose skin is taken off, and he hanged up by the neck with his back toward the wall, and all his entrails laid bare, and exposed to open view.
Unto the eyes of him ] Or rather, of it, of the word, wherewith we have to do. The word, like a sacrificing sword, slits open, and as it were unridgeth the conscience.
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.
Ver. 14. We have a great high priest] Who by a new and living way will bring us into the rest above mentioned. A great high priest Christ is, because, 1. Real, not typical; 2. Eternal, and needed not succession, as Aaron; 3. Entering (not into the holy places made with hands, but) into heaven itself, Hebrews 9:23 .
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.
Ver. 15. Which earshot be touched ] Christ retaineth still compassion, though freed from personal passion. And though freed from feeling, hath still yet a fellow feeling, Acts 9:5 ; Matthew 25:35 . a Trajan the emperor being blamed by his friends for being too gentle toward all, answered that being an emperor he would now be such toward private men as he once, when he was a private man, wished that the emperor should be towards him. Christ hath lost nothing of his wonted pity by his exaltation in heaven.
Tempted ] Or, pierced through, πεπειρασμενον . Luther was a piercing preacher, and met with every man’s temptations; and being once demanded how he could do so? Mine own manifold temptations (said he) and experiences are the cause thereof; for from his tender years he was much beaten and exercised with spiritual conflicts.
Yet without sin ] Tempted Christ was to sin, but not into sin.
a Manet compassin etiam cum inpassibilitate
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.
Ver. 16. Let us therefore come boldly ] In the sense of sin to wrap ourselves in Christ’s righteousness, and so go boldly to the throne of grace; this (saith a reverend man) is an honour to Christ our high priest. Luther prayed reverently to God, and yet boldly, as to his friend.
Throne of grace ] The altar of incense stood against the mercy seat, but yet there was a veil between them. We, when we pray, must act our faith upon the throne of grace, though we see it not.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24