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Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 4

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

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Verse 1

Heb 4:1. The word fear in this verse means anxiety or extreme caution, not to make the same mistake the Israelites made. There is a promise made to the disciples of Christ, to be considered a few verses below, and they might come short or miss it.

Verse 2

Heb 4:2. The simple meaning of gospel is "good news," hence any announcement of good news or promises may rightly be termed gospel. The Israelites had good information that they were to be given a land of rest from their wanderings. The disciples of Christ are given the promise of a rest from their worldly cares after this life is over, provided they are faithful to the end. The promise did not profit the Israelites under consideration because they did not believe it. (See Heb 3:18-19.)

Verse 3

Heb 4:3. We which have believed are the only ones who are promised the privilege of entering into rest. As I have sworn, etc., means God deals with all people on the same principle. That is that He declared to ancient Israel that their unbelief would keep them out of the promised land. Although the works were finished. A rest period implies a preceding one of work, and that took place in the beginning of creation. Hence the rest after the labor was established, which was to serve as a type of the next rest: the one in Canaan after the wandering in the wilderness.

Verse 4

Heb 4:4. The certain place where this is spoken is Gen 2:2-3, and that is where the Lord set the pattern of rest after labor that was to be a foreshadowing of another rest far into the future.

Verse 5

Heb 4:5. But the ones whom God planned to enjoy that second rest made themselves unworthy of it, hence He aware that they should not enter into it.

Verse 6

Heb 4:6. Remaineth that some must enter therin. God is sure to "have His own way" at last, even though certain ones may be rebellious and thus lose the benefits that He intended for them. Even if unbelief cuts off the ones first intended to have been favored, the Lord will find another outlet for the divine mercy.

Verse 7

Heb 4:7. Limiteth is from a Greek word that means "to determine, appoint" according to Thayer. Saying in David means it is said in the writings or David, namely, in Psa 95:7-8. The thought of this verse is that God "determined" to have another rest and caused David to write about it, and to exhort the ones living before it not to make the mistake the former ones did.

Verse 8

Heb 4:8. The Greek word for Jesus is also defined "Joshua" in the lexicon, and should be so translated in this verse. Joshua led the few faithful ones across the Jordan into the Canaan rest, but God had already determined upon another rest, seeing so many of the candidates for the rest in Canaan had proved unworthy. In justice to the fathful ones at that time, they were permitted to be led by Joshua into the land of Canaan, but that circumstance was not to be regarded as the final arragement of the Lord for a better rest. That is why our verse states that Jesus (Joshua) did not give them rest, meaning he did not give them the third and final rest. This truth is further indicated by the Lord's statement afterwards that there was to be another day.

Verse 9

Heb 4:9. This verse is the climax of the reasoning in the preceding verses. There remaineth signifies that the final rest is still in the future, and that is the one which Christians are warned not to miss on account of unbelief. It may be well to observe that three rests have been discussed by Paul, and he shows that God speaks of them as "my rest." That is because He originated them and determined the conditions affecting them. Briefly stated, the three rests are the seventh day after the creation, the national rest in Canaan, and the rest in Heaven after the judgement.

Verse 10

Heb 4:10. This is a comment on the relation of the rest to work. The mere mention of rest implies a preceding period of work to be followed by the rest.

Verse 11

Heb 4:11. Verse 9 (Heb 4:9) states the grand conclusion upon the line of reasoning the apostle has been giving. The present verse states the exhortion that would logically be given upon such a conclusive background. Since the term rest implies a preceding one of labor, the apostle makes his exhortation upon that basis. Disciples who are not willing to labor for the Lord, should not expect to share in His rest. If they at last "come short of it," the cause will be attributed to their disobedience or unbelief.

Verse 12

Heb 4:12. The orginal Greek word for quick is defined in the lexicon as "alive" and that for powerful is "active." The meaning of the clause is that the word of God is alive and active. When it is absorbed as spiritual food its effect should be to make one a living and active servant of the Lord. A twoedged sword is extra sharp because such instruments are made of the best material. Likewise the word of God is composed of the best material, namely, the wisdom of divine inspiration. It would not indicate any unusual keenness for a knife to sever between things that do not resemble, or that are not closely adhering to each other. The ability of the "sword of the Spirit" to distinguish between the soul and spirit of man Is mentioned as a proof of its keennesss. This indicates that there is not much difference between them, and yet .that some difference exists. This subject is explained in t h e comments at 1Th 5:23. Joints and marrow are other parts of the human system that pertain to the flesh, and are used figuratively for the same purpose as the preceding illustration, showing the sharpness of the divine instrument. Discerner is from KRITIKOS which means a measuring rule or standard, by which things are measured and judged. The statement means that the word of God is the standard by which all our thoughts and intents are to be regulated. It is sometimes insisted that Christians may think whatever they please as long as they keep it to themselves. This verse condems such a notion, and it is contradicted also by Php 4:8-9 which tells Christians the subjects on which they have a right to think.

Verse 13

Heb 4:13. The foregoing verse and remarks have special reference to the Word of God as an inspired volume. But if God can produce a book that has such qualities, then He certainly has a mind that is likewise able. Everything that we think (or do) is seen by the eyes of the Infinite One, because his "eyes are in every place, beholding the evil and the good" (Pro 15:3).

Verse 14

Heb 4:14. Jesus is a great high priest because he is the Son of God. Another item of His greatness is his entrance into the heavens or the place where God is, whereas the high priests of the Mosaic system entered into the buildings on earth, which were only the figures or types of the ones above. Paul uses this truth as a basis for our holding fast or firm to our profession of faith; not going back to Moses.

Verse 15

Heb 4:15. In taking on a body with the same nature as ours, Jesus was able to have the same experiences as we. Touched with the feeling means to sympathize with our infirmities. Whatever would be a temptation to us would be likewise one to Him, and he came in contact with all kinds of temptations which are on the earth, yet never yielded once to them.

Verse 16

Heb 4:16. Come boldly denotes a feeling of confidence that we may have on account of such a sympthetic Intercessor. The Israelites came near the tabernacle or temple, relying on their high priest to officiate on their behalf, by making intercession for them before the mercyseat in the most holy place, which was a type of the throne of grace. Accordingly we as spiritual Israel may approach by faith unto this throne where Jesus is acting as our High Priest. Our prayers through Him will reach the ears of God, calling for grace or favor to help us in the time of need while in this world of temptation.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Hebrews 4". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/hebrews-4.html. 1952.
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