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Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 4

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

Let us fear therefore (φοβηθωμεν ουν). First aorist passive volitive subjunctive of φοβεομα, to be afraid. There is no break in the argument on Hebrews 4:95. This is a poor chapter division. The Israelites perished because of disbelief. We today face a real peril.

Lest haply (μη ποτε) Here with the present subjunctive (δοκε), but future indicative in Hebrews 3:12, after the verb of fearing. For the optative see 2 Timothy 2:25.

A promise being left (καταλειπομενης επαγγελιας). Genitive absolute of the present passive participle of καταλειπω, to leave behind. God's promise still holds good for us in spite of the failure of the Israelites.

Should seem to have come short of it (δοκε υστερηκενα). Perfect active infinitive of υστερεω, old verb from υστερος (comparative of root υδ like our out, outer, outermost), to be too late, to fail to reach the goal as here, common in the N.T. (Hebrews 11:37; Hebrews 12:15).

Verse 2

For indeed we have had good tidings preached unto us (κα γαρ εσμεν ευηγγελισμενο εσμεν). Periphrastic perfect passive indicative of ευαγγελιζω (from ευαγγελιον, good news, glad tidings) to bring good news, used here in its original sense as in verse Hebrews 4:6 of the Israelites (ευαγγελισθεντες first aorist passive participle).

Even as also they (καθαπερ κακεινο). See verse Hebrews 4:6. We have the promise of rest as the Israelites had. The parallel holds as to the promise, the privilege, the penalty.

The word of hearing (ο λογος της ακοης). As in 1 Thessalonians 2:13. Genitive ακοης describing λογος, the word marked by hearing (the word heard).

Because they were not united by faith with them that heard (μη συνκεκερασμενους τη πιστε τοις ακουσασιν). Μη, the usual negative of the participle. A very difficult phrase. The text is uncertain whether the participle (perfect passive of συνκεραννυμ, old verb to mix together) ends in -ος agreeing with λογος or -ους agreeing with εκεινους (them). Taking it in -ους the translation is correct. Πιστε is in the instrumental case and τοις ακουσασιν in the associative instrumental after συν.

Verse 3

Do enter (εισερχομεθα). Emphatic futuristic present middle indicative of εισερχομα. We are sure to enter in, we who believe.

He hath said (ειρηκεν). Perfect active indicative for the permanent value of God's word as in Hebrews 1:13; Hebrews 4:4; Hebrews 10:9; Hebrews 10:13; Hebrews 13:5; Acts 13:34. God has spoken. That is enough for us. So he quotes again what he has in verse Hebrews 4:11 from Hebrews 4:95.

Although the works were finished (καιτο των εργων γενηθεντων). Genitive absolute with concessive use of the participle. Old particle, in N.T. only here and Acts 14:17 (with verb).

From the foundation of the world (απο καταβολης κοσμου). Καταβολη, late word from καταβαλλω, usually laying the foundation of a house in the literal sense. In the N.T. usually with απο (Matthew 25:44) or προ (John 17:24) about the foundation of the world.

Verse 4

Somewhere on this wise (που ουτως). See Hebrews 2:6 for που τις for a like indefinite allusion to an Old Testament quotation. Here it is Genesis 2:2 (cf. Exodus 20:11; Exodus 31:17). Moffatt notes that Philo quotes Genesis 2:2 with the same "literary mannerism."

Rested (κατεπαυσεν). First aorist active indicative of καταπαυω, intransitive here, but transitive in verse Hebrews 4:8. It is not, of course, absolute rest from all creative activity as Jesus shows in John 5:17. But the seventh day of God's rest was still going on (clearly not a twenty-four hour day).

Verse 5

And in this place again (κα εν τουτω παλιν). The passage already quoted in verse Hebrews 4:3; Hebrews 3:11.

Verse 6

It remaineth (απολειπετα). Present passive indicative of απολειπω, old verb to leave behind, to remain over. So again in Hebrews 4:9; Hebrews 10:26. Here the infinitive clause (τινας εισελθειν εις αυτην) is the subject of απολειπετα. This left-over promise is not repeated, though not utilized by the Israelites under Moses nor in the highest sense by Joshua and David.

Failed to enter in (ουκ εισηλθον). "Did not enter in" (second aorist active indicative of εισερχομα). It is a rabbinical argument all along here, but the author is writing to Jews.

Verse 7

He again defineth a certain day (παλιν τινα οριζε ημεραν). Present active indicative of οριζω, old verb to set a limit (ορος, horizon) as in Acts 17:26; Romans 1:4.

In David (εν Δαυειδ). Attributing the Psalm to David or in the Psalter at any rate.

Hath been before said (προειρητα). Perfect passive indicative referring to the quotation in Hebrews 3:7; Hebrews 3:15.

After so long a time (μετα τοσουτον χρονον). The time between Joshua and David.

Verse 8

Joshua (Ιησους). The Greek form is Jesus. Condition of the second class (determined as unfulfilled) with ε and aorist indicative in the condition and αν with the imperfect in the conclusion.

He would not have spoken (ουκ ελαλε). Wrong translation, "he would not speak" (be speaking), in the passage in David. Imperfect tense, not aorist.

Verse 9

A sabbath rest (σαββατισμος). Late word from σαββατιζω (Exodus 16:30) to keep the Sabbath, apparently coined by the author (a doubtful passage in Plutarch). Here it is parallel with καταπαυσις (cf. Revelation 14:13).

For the people of God (τω λαω του θεου). Dative case of blessed personal interest to the true Israel (Galatians 6:16).

Verse 10

As God did from his (ωσπερ απο των ιδιων ο θεος). It is not cessation of work, but rather of the weariness and pain in toil. The writer pictures salvation as God's rest which man is to share and God will have perfect satisfaction when man is in harmony with him (Dods).

Verse 11

Let us therefore give diligence (σπουδασωμεν ουν). Volitive subjunctive aorist of σπουδαζω, old verb to hasten (2 Timothy 4:9), to be eager and alert (1 Thessalonians 2:17). The exhortation has a warning like that in Hebrews 4:1.

That no man fall (ινα μη πεση). Negative purpose with ινα μη and the second aorist active subjunctive of πιπτω, to fall.

After the same example of disobedience (εν τω αυτω υποδειγματ της απειθειας). The unbelief is like that seen in the Israelites (Hebrews 3:12; Hebrews 3:18; Hebrews 4:2). Hυποδειγμα is a late word from υποδεικνυμ (Matthew 3:7) and means a copy (John 13:15; James 5:10). The Israelites set a terrible example and it is so easy to copy the bad examples.

Verse 12

The word of God (ο λογος του θεου). That just quoted about the promise of rest and God's rest, but true of any real word of God.

Living (ζων). Cf. the Living God (Hebrews 3:12). In Philo and the Book of Wisdom the Logos of God is personified, but still more in John 1:1-18 where Jesus is pictured as the Logos on a par with God. "Our author is using Philonic language rather than Philonic ideas" (Moffatt). See John 6:63: "The words which I have spoken are spirit and are life."

Active (ενεργης). Energetic, powerful (John 1:12; Philippians 3:21; Colossians 1:29).

Sharper (τομωτερος). Comparative of τομος, cutting (from τεμνω, to cut), late adjective, here only in the N.T.

Than (υπερ). Often so after a comparative (Luke 16:8; 2 Corinthians 12:13).

Two-edged (διστομον). "Two-mouthed" (δι-, στομα), double-mouthed like a river (Polybius), branching ways (Sophocles), applied to sword (ξιφος) by Homer and Euripides.

Piercing (διικνουμενος). Present middle participle of διικνεομα, old verb to go through, here only in N.T.

Even to the dividing (αχρ μερισμου). Old word from μεριζω (μερος, part), to partition.

Of soul and spirit (ψυχης κα πνευματος). As in 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 1 Corinthians 15:45, but not an argument for trichotomy. Psychology is constantly changing its terminology.

Of both joints and marrow (αρμων τε κα μυελων). From αρω, to join, comes αρμος, old word, here only in the N.T. Μυελος (from μυω, to shut), old word, here only in N.T. This surgeon goes into and through the joints and marrow, not cleaving between them.

Quick to discern (κριτικος). Verbal adjective in -ικος, from κρινω, skilled in judging, as the surgeon has to be and able to decide on the instant what to do. So God's word like his eye sees the secret lurking doubt and unbelief "of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (ενθυμησεων κα εννοιων καρδιας). The surgeon carries a bright and powerful light for every dark crevice and a sharp knife for the removal of all the pus revealed by the light. It is a powerful picture here drawn.

Verse 13

That is not manifest (αφανης). Old adjective (α privative and φαινω, to show), here only in the N.T. God's microscope can lay bare the smallest microbe of doubt and sin.

Naked (γυμνα). Both soul and body are naked to the eye of God.

Laid open (τετραχηλισμενα). Perfect passive participle of τραχηλιζω, late verb to bend back the neck (τραχηλος, Matthew 18:6) as the surgeon does for operating, here only in N.T. See Romans 16:4 for the peril of risking one's neck (τραχηλον υποτιθενα). God's eyes see all the facts in our inmost hearts. There are no mental reservations from God.

With whom we have to do (προς ον ημιν ο λογος). "With whom the matter or account for us is." There is a slight play here on λογος of verse Hebrews 4:12. Surely every servant of Christ today needs to gaze into this revealing mirror and be honest with himself and God.

Verse 14

A great high priest (αρχιερεα μεγαν). The author now takes up the main argument of the Epistle, already alluded to in Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 3:1, the priestly work of Jesus as superior to that of the Levitical line (Hebrews 4:14-12). Jesus is superior to the prophets (Hebrews 1:1-3), to angels (Hebrews 1:4-2), to Moses (Hebrews 3:1-4), he has already shown. Here he only terms Jesus "great" as high priest (a frequent adjective with high priest in Philo) but the superiority comes out as he proceeds.

Who hath passed through the heavens (διεληλυθοτα τους ουρανους). Perfect active participle of διερχομα, state of completion. Jesus has passed through the upper heavens up to the throne of God (Hebrews 1:3) where he performs his function as our high priest. This idea will be developed later (Hebrews 6:19; Hebrews 7:26-28; Hebrews 9:11; Hebrews 9:24).

Jesus the Son of God (Ιησουν τον υιον του θεου). The human name linked with his deity, clinching the argument already made (Hebrews 1:1-4).

Let us hold fast our confession (κρατωμεν της ομολογιας). Present active volitive subjunctive of κρατεω, old verb (from κρατος, power), with genitive to cling to tenaciously as here and Hebrews 6:18 and also with the accusative (2 Thessalonians 2:15; Colossians 2:19). "Let us keep on holding fast." This keynote runs all through the Epistle, the exhortation to the Jewish Christians to hold on to the confession (Hebrews 3:1) of Christ already made. Before making the five points of Christ's superior priestly work (better priest than Aaron, Hebrews 5:1-7; under a better covenant, Hebrews 8:1-13; in a better sanctuary, Hebrews 9:1-12; offering a better sacrifice, Hebrews 9:13-10; based on better promises, Hebrews 10:19-12), the author gives a double exhortation (Hebrews 4:14-16) like that in Hebrews 2:1-4 to hold fast to the high priest (Hebrews 4:14) and to make use of him (Hebrews 4:16).

Verse 15

That cannot be touched with the feeling (μη δυναμενον συνπαθησα). "Not able to sympathize with." First aorist passive infinitive of συνπαθεω, late compound verb from the late adjective συνπαθος (Romans 12:15), both from συνπασχω, to suffer with (1 Corinthians 12:26; Romans 8:17), occurring in Aristotle and Plutarch, in N.T. only in Hebrews (here and Hebrews 10:34).

One that hath been tempted (πεπειρασμενον). Perfect passive participle of πειραζω, as already shown in Hebrews 2:17.

Without sin (χωρις αμαρτιας). This is the outstanding difference that must never be overlooked in considering the actual humanity of Jesus. He did not yield to sin. But more than this is true. There was no latent sin in Jesus to be stirred by temptation and no habits of sin to be overcome. But he did have "weaknesses" (ασθενεια) common to our human nature (hunger, thirst, weariness, etc.). Satan used his strongest weapons against Jesus, did it repeatedly, and failed. Jesus remained "undefiled" (αμιαντος) in a world of sin (John 8:46). This is our ground of hope, the sinlessness of Jesus and his real sympathy.

Verse 16

Let us therefore draw near (προσερχωμεθα ουν). Present active middle volitive subjunctive of προσερχομα. "Let us keep on coming to" our high priest, this sympathizing and great high priest. Instead of deserting him, let us make daily use of him. This verb in Hebrews means reverent approach for worship (Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 10:1; Hebrews 10:22; Hebrews 11:6).

Unto the throne of grace (τω θρονω της χαριτος). This old word (θρονος) we have taken into English, the seat of kings and of God and so of Christ (Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 1:8), but marked by grace because Jesus is there (Matthew 19:28). Hence we should come "with boldness" (μετα παρρησιας). Telling Jesus the whole story of our shortcomings.

That we may receive mercy (ινα λαβωμεν ελεος). Purpose clause with ινα and second aorist active subjunctive of λαμβανω.

And find grace (κα χαριν ευρωμεν). Second aorist active subjunctive of ευρισκω. We are sure to gain both of these aims because Jesus is our high priest on the throne.

To help us in time of need (εις ευκαιρον βοηθειαν). Βοηθεια is old word (from βοηθεω, Hebrews 2:18 which see), in N.T. only here and Acts 27:17. Ευκαιρος is an old word also (ευ, well, καιρος, opportunity), only here in N.T. "For well-timed help," "for help in the nick of time," before too late.

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Hebrews 4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/hebrews-4.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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