Hebrews

Chapter Four

Blaine Robison, M.A.

Published 30 January 2022; Revised 21 February 2022

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Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. All other Scripture quotations are from the NASB Updated Edition (1995), unless otherwise indicated. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.

Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important early Jewish sources include the following:

DSS: the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last three centuries BC and the first century AD. Online DSS Bible.

LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. Online.

Josephus: The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.), Jewish historian, trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.

Philo: Works by Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, the Jewish philosopher (20 B.C.─A.D. 50), consisting of 45 monographs. Online.

MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began under Rabbi Akiva (2nd c. A.D.), but completed by scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from the 9th century. Online.

Talmud: the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); online at Halakhah.com. Click here for Talmud abbreviations.

Targums: Aramaic translation of Hebrew Scripture with commentary: Targum Onkelos (1st c. AD), and Targum Jonathan (2nd c. AD). Index of Targum texts.

Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online. Parsing data for Greek words is from Bible Hub Interlinear Bible, 2004-2021, and Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, 1980.

Terminology: In order to emphasize the Hebrew and Jewish nature of the entire Bible I use the terms Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), Torah (Pentateuch, Law), ADONAI (for the sacred name in Tanakh verses), and Besekh (New Testament).

Please see the Introduction for background information on the letter. This commentary assumes that Paul the apostle wrote the letter in the Hebrew language and Luke translated it into Jewish Greek.

Chapter Four Summary

In this chapter Paul concludes his discourse on entering the rest God has intended for His people. Paul encourages his readers, the Messianic Jews in the Diaspora, to faithfulness, obedience, and perseverance. He reminds his readers of the punishment of being excluded from the promised land that befell their forefathers for rebellion and unfaithfulness. Paul also reminds his readers of the power of Scripture and the greatness of Yeshua's priestly role on behalf of his people, through whom we may gain mercy from God and practical help in time of need.

Chapter Four Outline

The Promised Rest, 4:1-5

The Appointed Day, 4:6-10

Third Warning, 4:11-13

The Great High Priest, 4:14-16

The Promised Rest, 4:1-10

1 Therefore, let us fear, lest, the promise to enter into His rest being left, any of you should seem to have come short.

Therefore: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which is used here to indicate a conclusion connected with the content of the last verse of the previous chapter; "so, therefore, consequently, then." let us fear: Grk. phobeō, aor. mid, subj., 1p-pl., to fear. The verb has two basic meanings that are opposite: (1) to be in a state of apprehension, with emotions ranging from anxiety to terror; and (2) to have special respect or reverence for, i.e., deep respect. Both meanings could have application here, first an awe of the holy God and proceeding from awe to be alarmed concerning the danger of which Paul warns. The subjunctive mood is hortatory (Rienecker), which means that Paul exhorts his readers to participate with him in the act described.

lest: Grk. mēpote, conj., a marker cautiously expressing possibility and indicating a circumstance or attitude designed to counteract a consequence ordinarily considered undesirable; so that, lest. the promise: Grk. epaggelia, promise, especially associated with God's covenantal promises to Israel. A promise from God is a guaranteed assurance. to enter: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. inf., to go or enter into a geographical area, manufactured structure; also metaphorically of entrance into any condition, state of things, society, employment, etc., defined in the context. The verb occurs 17 times in Hebrews, eight of which are in this chapter.

into: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to direction and limit, here complementing the verb to indicate completion of movement. His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The pronoun applies here in reference to God. rest: Grk. katapausis (from katapauō, "to cause to cease"), cessation from labor, the state or condition of rest, or the place of rest. The noun occurs 9 times in the Besekh, all but one in Hebrews and six times in this chapter.

In the LXX katapausis translates six different Hebrew terms that mean ceasing from work, rest, resting place or settling in a place, first in Numbers 10:36 (DNTT 3:255f). Primarily katapausis stands for Heb. menuchah (SH-4496), a resting place, i.e., the "Canaan Rest" (Deut 12:9; 1Kgs 8:56; Ps 95:11; 132:14; Isa 66:1). Given the frequent use of "rest" in this chapter it is likely Paul engages in a word play, given the different passages he quotes from the Tanakh. The clause "a promise to enter into His rest" probably alludes to the declaration of Moses to Israel on the plains of Moab:

"For you have not come as yet to the rest and the inheritance which ADONAI your God is giving you." (Deut 12:9 BR)

Christians generally consider the promised rest to be "the heavenly blessedness in which God dwells, and of which He has promised to make persevering believers in Christ partakers after the toils and trials of life on earth are ended" (Thayer). Yet Paul never makes this specific association. Certainly God's people go to heaven upon death (Luke 16:22; 23:43; 2Cor 5:1-8; 1Pet 1:4; Rev 2:7; 7:9), but after the Second Coming our eternal rest will be enjoyed on the new earth (Isa 65:17; 66:22; 2Pet 3:13; Rev 21:1).

For Paul's readers "His rest" referred to God's chosen resting place, namely Zion (Ps 132:14), a euphemism for the land of Canaan in general and Jerusalem in particular. The important promise of rest in the context of granting the nation of Israel a geographical place, the Land of Canaan, as a permanent dwelling place free from the threat of enemies was first given to Moses (Ex 3:8, 12, 17) and then reiterated several times thereafter (Deut 3:20; 12:10; 25:19; Josh 1:13; 11:23). The promise of the Land of Canaan given to the patriarchs and Israel as an everlasting possession (Gen 17:8; 26:4; 35:12; Ex 6:4; Lev 14:34; Deut 32:49; Josh 22:9) is still in force (Rom 9:4; 2Cor 1:20).

Yet, where was the promised rest when the land was ruled by the Romans? The true rest can only be found in the Messiah as Yeshua himself promised, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt 11:28). Similarly, the promise of rest discussed in this chapter is of a relationship with God. This nature of rest is first seen in God's promise to Moses: "My presence [lit. "face"] shall go with you, and I will give you rest" (Ex 33:14). God made the promise in response to Moses saying, "let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight" (Ex 33:13).

being left: Grk. kataleipō, pres. pass. part., to leave behind, here with the sense to retain or remain in force. Bruce interprets the verb as meaning "left open." From the historical perspective the promise of the Land certainly remained unfulfilled even as Yeshua told his apostles that regaining control of the Land would not occur in their lifetime (Acts 1:6-7). The fulfillment of this promise properly belongs to the modern age when Jews began to make aliyah ("going up") to Israel beginning in the 1800s until culminated in the reestablishment of the nation of Israel in 1948. However, the lack of completion of the promise is likely a play on words alluding to both the Land and the personal relationship with God.

any: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun used to indicate non-specification; a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. The pronoun is often used to distinguish an individual or group in contrast to others. of: Grk. ek, prep., "out of, from within" (DM 102). The preposition denotes exit or emission out of, as separation from, something with which there has been a close connection. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. This is a striking change in focus from "we" to "you," i.e., Paul's readers. Paul knows his standing with the Lord, but he is not certain about some of his readers.

should seem: Grk. dokeō (from dokos, "opinion"), pres. subj., the basic idea of receptivity to the intellect. The intransitive form of the verb means to seem, be accounted, or reputed. Bruce has "might be deemed." to have come short: Grk. hustereō, perf. inf., to be in a relatively deficient or disadvantaged state or condition; come short of, left behind, miss out on. The verb pictures someone in a company marching together with others who march faster than he can. He cannot keep up, so he falls behind (Rienecker).

In terms of consequences the verb means to have failed to attain the promised rest in spiritual possession. The perfect tense marks not only a present or past defeat, but an abiding failure (Westcott). The potential outcome does not have to happen, if like Paul they will purpose to discipline themselves to live according to God's expectations (cf. 1Cor 9:27).

2 For indeed we are those having had the good news proclaimed, just as they did; but the word of hearing did not benefit them, not having been united with the faithfulness of those having listened.

For: Grk. gar, conj., a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that; for." The conjunction has four uses: (1) explanatory, (2) expressive of astonishment, (3) causal and, (4) inferential. The first use is intended here. indeed: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The third use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect.

we are those: Grk. eimi, pres., 1p-pl., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). The first person plural of the verb emphasizes Paul's identification with his audience. Some versions translate the verb as "we have," treating the present tense as an aorist to interpret a past event with vividness. Many Bible versions do not translate this important verb.

having had the good news proclaimed: Grk. euangelizō, pl. perf. pass. part., to announce the good message. The passive form of the verb emphasizes the good news being received. In the LXX euangelizō stands for Heb. basar (SH-1319), to publish or bring news or a report, whether good or bad (DNTT 2:108-109). In the Besekh this verb is used in the ordinary sense of news of a personal nature that the recipient would find to be very good (e.g., Luke 1:19; 1Th 3:6). Yet, the verb, which occurs 54 times in the Besekh, overwhelmingly refers to good news about the Kingdom of God as proclaimed by Yeshua and the apostles, especially God's grace manifested in providing a Savior and forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 13:23, 38; 20:24; Rom 1:16).

The good news also included the fulfillment of promises made to the fathers concerning the Messiah and his reign on the throne of David. For the content of the good news see my article The Original Gospel. Paul likely heard the good news (the "Jewish Gospel") proclaimed by Yeshua (cf. 2Cor 5:16) and certainly from any of Peter's public sermons in Jerusalem. Stern interprets the good news here as the rest that comes from being forgiven by God, but more likely it is the rest mentioned in the previous verse.

just as: Grk. kathaper, adv. with a focus on a parallel aspect, just as, even as. they did: pl. of Grk. kakeinos (from kai, "and," and ekeinos, "he, she, it"), demonstrative pronoun. The pronoun refers to the Israelites that came out of Egypt. Paul offers a comparative analysis of the good news received by the Israelites in the time of Moses and the good news received through Yeshua. The good news for Israel is contained in the promises of God that Moses declared to the elders of Israel and celebrated in the Passover Seder:

"I am ADONAI, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of Egypt, and I will rescue you from their bondage; and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7 Then I will take you to Me as My people, and I will be God to you; and then you shall know that I am ADONAI your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of Egypt. 8 And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you as a possession; I am ADONAI.'" (Ex 6:6-8 BR)

The common elements in the good news of Yeshua and in the good news in the time of Moses is the promise of deliverance (Matt 1:21; Acts 26:18; Rom 11:26) and the promise of an inheritance (Matt 25:34; Acts 20:32; 26:18; Eph 1:11; Col 1:12; Heb 9:15; 1Pet 1:4).

but: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, except, on the other hand, otherwise. the word: Grk. ho logos, vocalized expression, word, discourse, statement, message or speech. In the LXX logos stands principally for Heb. dabar, which has a range of meaning, including 'speech, word, report, thing, matter' (Gen 29:13; BDB 182) (DNTT 3:1087). Here "the word" refers to that spoken by God to Israel or to Moses who then proclaimed God's words to Israel.

of hearing: Grk. akoē may mean (1) hearing as a sensory faculty; (2) the organ of hearing; or (3) that which is heard. The third meaning applies here. Many versions translate the noun as a verb "heard." did not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. benefit: Grk. ōpheleō, aor., to engage in activity that brings about something good above and beyond that which existed earlier; assist, benefit, help, profit. them: pl. of Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun typically used to refer to a noun (person or thing) immediately preceding in the Greek text; that, that one there.

not: Grk. , adv., a particle of qualified negation that rules out any implications that could be involved with what should (could, would) apply (HELPS). It differs from the negative particle, , in that is objective, dealing only with facts, while is subjective, involving will and thought (DM 265). having been united with: Grk. sugkerannumi, perf. pass. part., cause to fit together; mix together, agree with, unite. the faithfulness: Grk. ho pistis (from peithō, "to persuade, be persuaded"), incorporates two primary facets of meaning, (1) that which causes trust and faith, i.e., faithfulness or reliability, and (2) trust or confidence in an active sense (BAG). Christian versions apply the second meaning and translate the noun as "faith," but the CJB has "trust." In other words faith is the means that produces the described result.

In the LXX pistis translates Heb. emunah (SH-530; BDB 53), firmness, steadfastness, or fidelity, mainly of men's faithfulness (1Sam 26:23; 2Kgs 12:15; 22:7; Jer 5:1, 3; 7:28; 9:3; Hos 2:20), but also of God's faithfulness (Ps 33:4; Lam 3:23; Hab 2:4); as well as Heb. emun (SH-529), faithfulness (Deut 32:20; Prov 13:17). Pistis also translates Heb. aman (SH-539), to support (Jer 15:18); amanah (SH-548), fixed support (Neh 9:38; 11:23; SS 4:8); and emet (SH-571), firmness, faithfulness, or truth (Prov 14:22; Jer 28:9; 33:6). The LXX usage emphasizes that the intended meaning of pistis is faithfulness.

of those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having listened: Grk. akouō, aor. part., to hear aurally or listen, often with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said. In the LXX akouō translates Heb. shama (SH-8085; BDB 1033), which not only means to hear, but also to accept and to act upon what has been heard (DNTT 2:173). The emphasis of the verb here is "having heeded what was heard," and perhaps alludes to Caleb and Joshua who were faithful in obedience to God in contrast to the other ten spies and the great majority of the Israelites who were not united with them.

3 For we entered into the rest, the ones having believed, just as He has said, "So I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter into my rest;'" and yet, His works have been finished from the creation of the universe."

Reference: Numbers 14:22-23; 32:10-13; Psalm 95:11; Genesis 2:2-3.

For: Grk. gar, conj. we entered: Grk. eiserchomai, pres. mid., 1p-pl. See verse 1 above. The present tense is used here to give vividness to a past event. With the first person plural Paul connects himself and his readers with the faithful Israelites among the wilderness generation. into: Grk. eis, prep. the rest: Grk. ho katapausis. See verse 1 above. This "rest" is that Canaan rest which God provided. the ones: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having believed: Grk. pisteuō, pl. aor. part., to have confidence in the trustworthiness of some thing or someone. A participle is a verbal substantive, and as such has adjectival quality.

In the LXX pisteuō translates the Heb. 'aman (SH-539), to confirm or support, and in usage may mean, believe, trust, or be faithful (first in Gen 15:6) (DNTT 1:595). In biblical usage "believing" is not expressing assent to a creedal doctrine. Rather, the verb pisteuō denotes a heart response of trust and a readiness to be faithful. The "ones having believed" are those in the previous verse who listened, i.e., Caleb, Joshua and other faithful Israelites.

just as: Grk. kathōs, adv. emphasizing similarity, conformity, proportion or manner; as, just as. The adverb serves to clarify that the "rest" just mentioned is the same as referred to in the following quotation. He has said: Grk. legō, perf., to make a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing, often used to introduce quoted material. The focus of the verb may be declarative, interrogative or imperative. In the LXX legō translates Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, shew, command or think. The Greek verb "said" functions here as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation.

Paul then quotes from Psalm 95:11, which is repeated from verse 11 in the previous chapter. Psalm 95, placed as the first psalm in Hymn Collection I (Pss 95–100) is a call and guide to worship. The Hebrew form of the psalm is anonymous and without superscription, but the LXX assigns David as the author, which Paul affirms in verse 7 below. The abrupt change in tone in verse 7 has historically puzzled Bible scholars, but most today view the psalm as a unity, probably composed for the celebration of Sukkot (Kidner 375). The prophetic section of Psalm 95:7-11 is a powerful reminder of what happened when Israel failed to obey God's instruction.

So: Grk. hōs, adv. with the primary function of connecting narrative components; used here to introduce a pattern or model; just as, just like, similar to. I swore: Grk. omnuō, aor., to take an oath affirming the veracity of what one says; swear. In the LXX of this verse omnuō translates Heb. shaba (SH-7650), to take an oath, swear, first in Genesis 21:31 (BDB 989). God did swear on important occasions. "'I have sworn by myself,' says ADONAI" (Gen 22:16 BR). God took an oath on at least seven occasions:

● God swore to Abraham that his descendants would be redeemed from their oppressors (Gen 15:13-17; Deut 7:8).

● God swore to multiply the seed of Abraham as the stars and the sand (Gen 22:17; 26:4; Ex 32:13; Deut 1:10; 10:22).

● God swore to give the land of Canaan to the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Gen 24:7; 26:3; Ex 6:8; 13:5, 11; 33:1; Num 11:12; Deut 1:8; 6:10; 7:13; 8:1; 19:8; 31:7).

● God swore that Moses would not cross the Jordan (Deut 4:21).

● God swore a perpetual covenant with Israel (Deut 4:31).

● God swore to establish his people as a holy people (Deut 28:9).

Unlike man the oaths of God contain the certainty of fulfillment. The seventh occasion is mentioned here. in: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position within, and in composition may be translated "among, at, in, on, or within." my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. wrath: Grk. orgē means anger, indignation or wrath. In the Besekh orgē is used of human anger (Eph 4:31), but primarily divine wrath at the end of the age (Matt 3:7). Orgē depicts a settled anger that proceeds from an internal disposition, solidifying what the beholder considers wrong, unjust or evil (HELPS).

In the LXX orgē is used to translate eight different Hebrew words for anger (DNTT 1:108). In this verse of the LXX orgē translates Heb. aph (SH-639), nostril, nose, face, anger (BDB 60). The anatomical term is used for anger because of the change in facial features that occurs from the emotion of anger. This historical mention is the only time God took an oath in anger. This description of God contradicts the popular myth that God is like an indulgent grandfather that only loves and never gets angry.

they shall not: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker, normally used to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument, if, whether. However, the conjunction as used here expresses strong negation, as does the Hebrew conjunction (im, SH-518) it translates in the quoted verse. enter: Grk. eiserchomai, fut. mid., 3p-pl. Ellicott points out a parallel construction in Numbers 14:23, in which the opening clause reads in Hebrew, "if they shall see" and the phrase essentially means "they will not see."

into: Grk. eis, prep. my: Grk. egō. rest: Grk. ho katapausis (for Heb. menuchah). See verse 1 above. The reference "my rest" refers to the promised land of Canaan (Deut 12:9), but the reference also hints at a relationship of grace and favor. David's reminder that ADONAI swore in His anger that Israel would not enter into His rest alludes to the Torah narrative:

"10 The anger of ADONAI was aroused that day, and He swore an oath saying: 11 'The men who came out of Egypt, from 20 years old and upward, will not see the land I promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, for they have not followed after Me with a whole heart— 12 except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they were wholehearted after ADONAI.' 13 The anger of ADONAI burned against Israel and He caused them to wander in the wilderness 40 years until all the generation doing that evil in ADONAI's sight was gone." (Num 32:10-13 TLV; cf. Num 14:23; Deut 1:34-35)

David warned the Judean leaders of his day that just as God denied the inheritance to those who rebelled against Him in the wilderness, the same consequence could occur to his contemporary generation. What had been given could be taken away. Christian interpreters typically view the final resting place of God's people as heaven and the repeated misconduct of the Israelites in the wilderness made them unfit for heaven. Jews did not speak of heaven but the world to come or the age to come when the Messiah will rule.

The Pharisee Sages affirmed, "All Israel has a portion in the world to come" (Sanhedrin 11:1), but then immediately identified Israelites who have no place in the world to come. Included in the extensive list of people excluded the Sages declared "The generation of the wilderness have no share in the future world and will not stand in the last judgment. As it is written, 'in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die'" (Sanhedrin 11:2). Psalm 95 serves as a strong rebuttal to those who believe they can keep on sinning with impunity (cf. Ezek 18:4, 20, 24).

and yet: Grk. kaitoi, a concessive particle; and yet, although, though. With this particle Paul introduces the thought that the rest denied to the rebellious Israelites was the rest God Himself enjoys since the beginning (Bruce). His works: pl. of Grk. ho ergon generally means a tangible deed, action or accomplishment that may be observed. The plural noun here of divine works accomplished in the beginning. have been finished: Grk. ginomai, pl. aor. pass. part., to become, here in reference to completion of an action performed. from: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of separation, from, away from.

the foundation: Grk. katabolē, a founding or laying down a foundation. In Greek culture the noun referred to a foundation, cast according to a blueprint consisting of the substructure and the foundation-plan, upon which the entire super-structure is built (HELPS). The noun occurs 11 times in the Besekh, ten of which denote something that took place in relation to creation, whether before or after (Matt 25:34; Eph 1:4; Heb 9:26; 1Pet 1:26; Rev 13:8; 17:8). Some versions have "creation" (CEV, EHV, ISV, MEV, NEB, NIV, VOICE).

of the universe: Grk. kosmos, world, originally meant an harmonious arrangement and then ornament, decoration, and adornment. To Greek philosophers the term meant the sum total of everything in existence here and now, the orderly universe (BAG). Pythagoras (570-495 BC) is credited as the first to use the word in this sense (Thayer). The LXX of the Tanakh uses kosmos five times for Heb. tsaba, (SH-6635), host, in reference to the arrangement of the stars, 'the heavenly hosts,' as the ornament of the heavens (Gen 2:1; Deut 4:19).

The meaning of kosmos as the 'orderly universe' is found especially in the Apocrypha (2Macc. 7:23; 8:18; 4Macc. 5:25; Sir. 6:30; 21:21; Wis. 7:17; 9:3; 11:18). Moreover, the work of creation was completed. Bible characters affirmed many times that the ADONAI (Heb. YHVH) made heaven and earth (Ex 20:11; 31:17; Ps 121:2; 124:8; 134:3; 146:6; Isa 37:16; Jer 32:17). While Paul does not elaborate on the mechanics of the 'making,' God spoke the universe into existence according to biblical revelation (Gen 1:1-31; Ex 20:11; Ps 33:6, 9; Heb 11:3). God did not use elements already in existence and the orderly universe did not create itself.

Moreover, both Genesis and Paul affirm that God's works of creation were finished at the end of the six days of the creation week. God is not still creating as the theistic evolutionist must allege. The natural processes that can be studied today are those of conservation and disintegration. It did not take God billions of years after the supposed geologic ages to complete His perfect works of creation (DSB). The recorded acts or works of creation in Genesis 1:1–2:2 includes time, space, the heavenly bodies, the earth, vegetation, animals, male and female humans, the seven-day week, and the Sabbath. See my article The Truth of Creation.

4 For he spoke in a certain place concerning the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all his works."

Reference: Genesis 2:2-3; Exodus 20:8-11.

For: Grk. gar, conj. He spoke: Grk. legō, perf. See the previous verse. The verb alludes to the fact that the verse about to be quoted was spoken by God and alludes to supernatural inspiration of Scripture. A traditional interpretation is that the words were spoken to Moses, but it's more likely that Adam was the recipient of the divine message, who then recorded it for posterity. in a certain place: Grk. pou, adv. of place, which Danker defines as "indicating that precision about a datum is not a matter of concern; somewhere." The adverb also means "where" and used of a specific location (Mark 15:47; John 1:39).

Bible commentators generally deduce from the use of this adverb that the author did not know where the quoted verse is located in the Bible, so Paul did not write this letter. Of course, this doubt should extend to any of the proposed authors. The adverb pou simply means "in a certain place" (Mounce). The majority of versions translate the adverb as "somewhere" but some versions have "in a certain place" (AMPC, BRG, DRA, JUB, KJV, NKJV, NMB, RGT, WESLEY, YLT). It is not as ambiguous as the English translation of "somewhere." The text quoted in this verse is from Genesis 2:2, but it also occurs in Genesis 2:3 and its truth is repeated in Exodus 20:11. So, in a sense the adverb conflates these locations, and serves to economize words.

concerning: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; in behalf of, about, concerning. the seventh day: Grk. ho hebdomos, adj., the seventh in sequence, here referring to the seventh day of creation week. in this way: Grk. houtōs, adv. used to introduce the manner or way in which something has been done or to be done; thus, in this manner, way or fashion, so. Paul then quotes from Genesis 2:2, omitting the opening phrase, "And God finished on the seventh day His work which He had done" (BR).

And: Grk. kai, conj. God: Grk. ho theos, God or god, as determined from the context. In the Besekh theos is used overwhelmingly for the God of Israel. In this verse of the LXX theos translates the name of the Creator God Elohim (SH-430). Given the plural nature of Elohim the full triunity of God must be represented in theos. The definite article with the Greek name emphasizes that He is the only God in existence is the God who created the heavens and the earth out of nothing (Gen 1:1).

rested: Grk. katapauō, aor., to cause to cease activity, to rest. The verb does not connote fatigue, but the cessation of the acts of creation recorded in Genesis 1. In the LXX of Genesis 2:2 and 2:3 katapauō translates Heb. shabath (SH-7673), to cease, desist or rest, but in Exodus 20:11 katapauō translates Heb. nuach (SH-5117), to rest. In these verses God's resting did not begin until His works were finished. on: Grk. en, prep. the seventh: Grk. ho hebdomos for Heb shebi'ith (SH-7637), adj., seventh, an ordinal number.

day: Grk. ho hēmera, day, and here refers to the civil or legal day that included the night. In the LXX of the quoted verse hēmera translates for Heb. yom (SH-3117), "day, time, year," which in context referred to a 24-hour period, the last day of creation week. from: Grk. apo, prep. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every, the whole. His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. works: pl. of Grk. ergon. See the previous verse. In the LXX of Genesis 2:2 the plural ergon is used to translate the singular Heb. melakah (SH-4399), occupation, work, first in Genesis 2:2 of the work of creating the heavens and the earth and all therein.

The simple declaration of Genesis 2:2 establishes the basis for the assertion in Genesis 2:3 that God blessed and sanctified the seventh day. By sanctifying the seventh day God established that the seven-day week, which has no astronomical basis, would govern the human calendar and the seventh day would be a day of rest. Indeed the Hebrews observed the Sabbath while in Egypt (Ex 16:23-29). At Sinai in the giving of the Ten Commandments God explained the importance and rationale of Sabbath observance:

"8 Remember the day, Shabbat, to set it apart for God. ... 11 For in six days, ADONAI made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. This is why ADONAI blessed the day, Shabbat, and separated it for himself." (Ex 20:8, 11 CJB)

The importance of the creation of the seventh day as a day of rest based God's on example means that observance is above any dispute about the laws given to Moses for Israel. The Sabbath rest has not been canceled (Matt 5:17). Yeshua, our Lord and Master, himself faithfully observed the Sabbath (Luke 4:16) and disciples are called to follow in his footsteps (1Pet 2:21). For more discussion on this topic see my article Remember the Sabbath.

5 And again in this passage, "They shall not enter into my rest."

Reference: Psalm 95:11; LXX Psalm 94:11.

And: Grk. kai, conj. again: Grk. palin, adv. with focus on a repetitive occurrence; once more, again. The adverb probably implies "in a certain place" as in the previous verse and may be intended to conflate the truth found in various passages (Num 14:23; 32:11; Deut 1:35; Josh 5:6; Ps 95:11). in: Grk. en, prep. this passage: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. The pronoun refers to the quotation from Psalm 95:11, which follows.

They shall not enter into my rest: This sentence repeats verbatim the quotation in verse 3 above. See the comment there. The redundancy is purposeful. The quotation of Psalm 95:11 following that of Genesis 2:2 seems an odd pairing, but Paul presents a special kind of parallelism. The Sabbath rest of God after creation portended the kind of rest God intended for the Israelites to experience in the land of Canaan. In its original context the creation rest was an enjoyment of the goodness of all that had been created (Gen 1:31). Yeshua exhorted his disciples to take the time to study and appreciate the flora and fauna in nature (Matt 6:26-28).

As set forth in the fourth commandment the observance of the Sabbath has these two goals or purposes for the Israelites: (1) to remember that God created the heavens and the earth, and all in them, in six days and then rested on the seventh day (Ex 20:11); (2) to remember that they were slaves in Egypt and so should treat employees and sojourners dwelling in the land with justice (Deut 5:14-15). This understanding is in line with Yeshua's statement that the Sabbath was made for man (Mark 2:27).

The Appointed Day, 4:6-10

6 Therefore since it was remaining for some to enter into it, and those formerly having received the good news did not enter because of disobedience,

Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. since: Grk. epei, conj., used to assume what precedes is true, and understands what follows to be true as well; since, inasmuch (HELPS). it was remaining: Grk. apoleipō, pres. part., to leave or leave behind, here with the focus on being reserved or left for future appearance or enactment. The present tense is used here to give vividness to a past event. for certain ones: pl. of Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 1 above. Almost all versions translate the pronoun as "some," but the deficiency of this translation is that "some" might imply a small number. Rather, in the historical setting the pronoun refers to those that were not subject to the curse on the disobedient generation.

The numbers counted in the original and second census of fighting men (Ex 12:37; Num 1:46) were decimated by the curse (Num 32:11, 13). A third census (Num 26:4, 51) indicated that the numbers of those who died in the wilderness had been replaced by about the same number as the original census. Of the twelve spies in particular, only Caleb and Joshua received the promise (Num 14:24, 30, 38; 32:12). The number of Israelites that massed on the plains of Moab and entered into Canaan numbered many thousands (cf. Deut 32:17; Josh 4:12-13; 8:3).

to enter: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. inf. See verse 3 above. into: Grk. eis, prep. it: Grk. autos, fem. personal pronoun, used here to denote the "rest" mentioned in the previous verses. Brown observes, "God wishes not His rest to be empty, but furnished with guests (Luke 14:23)." The phrase may be used as an understatement with a dual application, first of those who claimed the Land under Joshua's leadership and then those who will enter the Messianic age to come.

and: Grk. kai, conj. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. formerly: Grk. proteros, adv., indicating that something occurred prior to the current time; before, formerly, previously. The phrase "those formerly" refers to the wilderness generation based on the quotation from Psalm 95:11 I verses 3 and 5 above. having received the good news: Grk. euangelizō, pl. aor. pass. part. See verse 2 above. The good news for the Israelites is summarized in Exodus 6:6-8.

did not: Grk. ou, adv. enter: Grk. eiserchomai, aor., 3p-pl. Many of the Israelites that received the good news in Egypt did not ultimately receive the promise of rest (cf. Num 32:11). because of: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) instrumentality; through, by means of; or (2) causality; on account of, because of. The second usage applies here. disobedience: Grk. apeitheia, disobedience, resistance, and in the Besekh always in opposition to God's authority. Josephus also uses apeitheia to describe the disobedience of the Israelites in the wilderness (Ant. III, 15:2).

In the LXX apeitheia occurs only in 4Maccabees 8:9, 18; 12:4 where it is used to describe faithful Jews who dared to disobey the edict to adopt Hellenistic values. As noted in verse 3 above the Sages did not grant to the disobedient in the wilderness generation the privilege of sharing in the future age (Sanh. 11:2), but Morris notes that the medieval author of Midrash Ecclesiastes opined "Into this resting-place they will not enter, but they will enter into another resting-place" (Mid Qoheleth 10.20.1). Paul has no such reservations about the wilderness generation. They disobeyed God and forfeited their place.

7 again he appoints a certain day, "Today," saying by David after so long a time, just as it has been said, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts."

Reference: Psalm 95:7-8; LXX Psalm 94:7-8

again: Grk. palin, adv. See verse 5 above. he appoints: Grk. horizō, pres., establish a boundary or framework through deliberate decision for an event, activity or thing; determine, appoint, ordain. a certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 1 above. day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 4 above. Today: Grk. sēmeron, adv., today, this day, now. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 3 above. As in the previous chapter Paul bases his exhortation on another appeal to Psalm 95.

by: Grk. en, prep. See verse 3 above. David: Grk. David, which transliterates Heb. David ("dah-veed") perfectly. David is one of the most important figures in Israelite history. His name first appears when God sent Samuel to anoint him as the next king (1Sam 16:13). At that time David was only a shepherd. Yet, from that humble beginning he would eventually become the King of Israel at the age of 30 and reign 40 years (2Sam 5:4; 1Chr 3:4). David made a tremendous impact on the nation of Israel. In the military sphere he broke the power of all the pagan peoples in the land of Canaan. In the civil sphere he made Jerusalem his capital and solidified central authority.

His accomplishments in the religious sphere are especially noteworthy. He erected the Tabernacle on Mt. Zion, centralized religion in Jerusalem and established Levitical choirs. He wrote many psalms and 73 psalms are specifically ascribed to him. He was known as the "sweet psalmist of Israel" (2Sam 23:1). Especially important is that he compiled and organized psalms into what we now know as the Book of Psalms (2Chr 29:30). David was a true worshipper, a man imbued with the Holy Spirit (1Sam 13:14; 16:13; 2Sam 23:2). God chose David to be king because He "sought out for Himself a man after His own heart" (1Sam 13:14).

Then, God made a personal and everlasting covenant with him by which God promised that He would establish the throne of David forever, build a house for Himself and send forth a king from the loins of David to rule over his people Israel (2Sam 7:12-14; 23:5; Ps 89:3; Isa 55:3; Jer 23:5-6; 33:21). Jeremiah left a simple eulogy: "David did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the case of Uriah the Hittite" (1Kgs 15:5). The last comment on David's life in the Tanakh is from Ezra who twice refers to David as a "man of God" (2Chr 8:14; Neh 12:24).

after: Grk. meta, prep., may be used (1) as a marker of association; with, among; or (2) as a sequential marker; after, behind. The second usage is intended here. so long: Grk. tosoutos, demonstrative pronoun used to express intensity relative to something mentioned in context, here with the focus on duration. a time: Grk. chronos may mean (1) a span or period of time, or (2) a point or definite moment in time. The first meaning applies here. just as: Grk. kathōs, adv. See verse 3 above. it has been said: Grk. prolegō, perf. pass., to say beforehand or in advance, to predict.

Today: Grk. sēmeron. Time is always in the present, so action to receive God's favor should not be postponed. Tomorrow might be too late (cf. Luke 12:17-20). if: Grk. ean, conj. that serves as a conditional particle and produces an aspect of tentativeness by introducing a possible circumstance that determines the realization of some other circumstance. you hear: Grk. akouō, aor. subj., 2p-pl. See verse 2 above. The subjunctive mood looks toward what is conceivable or potential. His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, referring to ADONAI (Heb. YHVH).

voice: Grk. phōnē can mean (1) an auditory impression, sound, noise defined in the context; (2) the faculty of producing speech, voice; or (3) a system of communication, language (1Cor 14:10; 2Pet 2:16). The word often is used in the Besekh of articulated sound from a human mouth. In the LXX phōnē generally translates Heb. qôl (SH-6963; BDB 876), sound or voice, the first usage of which is God's voice (Gen 3:8), and second the human voice (Gen 3:17), and these usages occur frequently in the Tanakh with various kinds of expression (DNTT 3:113). The phrase "His voice" alludes to the biblical reality that throughout the Tanakh YHVH is the One who speaks for Elohim. For the readers of the letter "His voice" could be the voice of the Spirit who convicts and convinces people of the truth (John 16:8, 13). Disciples must heed what the Spirit has to say (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22).

do not: Grk. , adv. See verse 2 above. harden: Grk. sklērunō, pres. subj., 2p-pl., to harden; become inflexible; obstinately stubborn, resisting what God says is right (HELPS). In the LXX sklērunō translates the Heb. chazaq, which means to be or grow firm, be strong (SH-2388; BDB 304), first in Exodus 4:21. The verb is used repeatedly in the Exodus narrative of Pharaoh's heart being hardened, first by himself (Ex 8:15, 32; 9:34) and then by ADONAI (Ex 9:12; 10:20, 27; 11:10; 14:8). "Hardening" meant that Pharaoh stiffened his resistance to complying with God's expressed will, which God knew he would do.

your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. hearts: pl. of Grk. kardia, the pumplike organ of blood circulation, used fig. of selfhood or the combination of character, emotion, intelligence and the will. In the LXX kardia translates the Heb. nouns leb (SH-3820) and lebab (SH-3824), inner man, mind, heart, will (BDB 523f), first in Genesis 6:5 (DNTT 2:181). To "harden" the heart is to disobey the voice of God and act in accordance with one's own desires, which is what Israel did in the wilderness (Morris). The admonition would mean "Don't be like Pharaoh who hardened his heart and was destroyed." The warning was just as apt in Paul's day as it was in the time of Moses and David (Bruce).

Morris points out that Psalm 95 was written long after the wilderness generation had failed to use its opportunity and had perished. The use of the term "Today" shows that the promise had never been claimed and was still open. The voice of God still called. Paul has already used the quotation in 3:7-9. But its point this time is the word "Today." There is still a day of opportunity, even though the fate of the wilderness generation stands as an impressive witness to the possibility of spiritual disaster.

8 For if Joshua had given rest to them, He would not anyhow have spoken of another after this day.

Reference: Psalm 95:11.

For: Grk. gar, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker that introduces a current real condition, or an assumption for the sake of argument; here the latter. Joshua: Grk. Iēsous (for Heb. Y'hoshua, "YHVH is Salvation," BDB 221), the same Greek spelling of Yeshua's name. In Hebrew Yeshua is a contraction of Y’hoshua. Joshua was born in Egypt (c. 1485 BC) during the period of slavery. He was the son of Nun ("noon") of the tribe of Ephraim (Num 13:8). His name first appears in reference to the battle with the Amalekites during the desert travels. He led the Israelites in the actual fighting while Aaron and Hur held up Moses' hands (Ex 17:8-13).

Only Joshua was chosen to accompany Moses to the top of Sinai to receive the words of God (Ex 24:13). Joshua was one of the twelve chosen to spy out the land of Canaan (Num 13:16) and returned with a good report (Num 14:28-30, 38). As a result he was promised a portion in the land of Israel. When Moses needed a successor God chose Joshua to be the shepherd of Israel (Num 27:16-17), because he was full of the Spirit (Num 27:18). Joshua was a capable leader in every sphere. Like Moses he spoke directly to God and communicated the Lord's will and the Lord's message to God's people.

His declaration at the end of his life, "as for me and my house, we will serve ADONAI" (Josh 24:15), represented the commitment and example of his entire life. He had obeyed the charge to be a student of Torah and obey the commandments given to Moses (1:7-8). There is no mention of a wife and children, but they are implied by his mention of "my house" (24:15). He lived 110 years (24:29). According to Jewish tradition Joshua wrote the book bearing his name, except that 24:29-33 was written by the priests Eleazar and Phinehas.

In his name and actions as the leader of Israel Joshua served as a type of the Messiah. Like Joseph before him no moral fault can be attached to the life of Joshua. Joshua showed the qualities of wisdom, courage, faithfulness, and integrity. Joshua was a descendant of Joseph of Ephraim ("double fruit") and Yeshua was the son of Joseph who would come from Bethlehem of Ephrata, a term that also means fruitfulness. Joshua was a temporal savior, whereas Yeshua was a spiritual savior (Gill). Like the Messiah Joshua led the Israelites to victory against their enemies in Canaan, but also demonstrated mercy toward non-Israelites, e.g., Rahab (Josh 6:25) and the Gibeonites (Josh 9:15).

had given rest: Grk. katapauō, aor., to cease activity, rest. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun, used here of the Israelites who entered Canaan under the leadership of Joshua. In the time of Joshua God had given the Israelites rest from all their enemies (Josh 21:44; 23:1). In these two verses the LXX uses katapauō to translate Heb. nuach (SH-5117), to rest, settle down and remain. However, Joshua was not capable of providing the "creation-rest" that characterizes the spiritual relationship with God.

He: The "He" here is ADONAI. would: Grk. an, a disjunctive particle that nuances a verb with contingency or generalization; would, ever, might, in that case, anyhow. HELPS says the particle indicates what could occur under certain conditions, and the context determines the limits of those conditions. The particle is often not translated. not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 2 above. have spoken: Grk. laleō, impf., to make an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter. of another: Grk. allos, adj., used to distinguish from one or more other entities; one, other (of two), another. The adjective is shorthand for "another rest."

after: Grk. meta, prep. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 5 above. day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 4 above. In other words, if the rest of God meant Canaan, He would not after their entrance into that land, have spoken of a future day of entering the rest. The Israelites addressed in Psalm 95 were already in Canaan, but they were in danger of forfeiting their military rest because of hard hearts. Moreover, they did not attain the highest form of rest God intended for them.

9 So then, there remains a sabbath-rest for the people of God,

So then: Grk. ara, conj. that intimates that 'under these circumstances, something either is so, or becomes so' (Thayer). there remains: Grk. apoleipō, pres. pass. See verse 6 above. In Greek the present tense can have a variety of meanings. A present tense verb may indicate action in progress, habitual practice, or action at successive intervals. However, sometimes the present tense is used to indicate an event now occurring, a past event with vividness, an anticipated future event or an action purposed. The question for Bible interpreters is whether the verb "remains" depicts a present reality or points forward to a future reality or whether it could have a dual meaning.

a sabbath-rest: Grk. sabbatismos (from sabbatizō, "keep Sabbath"), a resting based on the model of God resting on the Sabbath (verse 4 above). The suffix "mos" signifies a process or state. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. In addition, the noun does not occur in the LXX at all or any earlier or contemporary Jewish literature. Hyphenating the word (AMPC, DLNT, NIV) is important to stress that the noun is about a relationship of resting. The fact that this "sabbath-rest" remains means it refers to a condition not experienced by the wilderness generation or the generation of Joshua. The term sabbatismos was likely coined by Paul, or even Luke, in order to make this special point.

for the people: Grk. ho laos, a group of humans, understood geographically or ethnically, and often in the apostolic narratives people groups associated with the God of Israel. In the LXX laos translates Heb. am (SH-5971), people, nation. In the Tanakh am is often viewed in contrast with the ruling class (Gen 41:40). of God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 4 above. The specific phrase "people of God" occurs two times in the Tanakh for Israel (Jdg 20:2; 2Sam 14:13) and three times in the Besekh (here; Heb 11:25; and 1Pet 2:10). For Paul the people of God are those for whom Yeshua is Savior and Lord. So, what is the sabbath-rest that remains for the people of God?

Zodhiates defines sabbatismos as referring to the eternal rest to be enjoyed in heaven when the earthly work is done. Thayer has "the blessed rest from toils and troubles looked for in the age to come by the true worshippers of God and true Christians." Jewish tradition held a corollary concept that just as there were six days of creation so there would be a thousand years for each creation day, which would be followed by the seventh or Sabbath millennium: "The world will exist for six thousand years, then for one thousand years it will be desolate" (Sanh. 97a). Eisenbaum notes that the Tractate Tamid describes the Messianic age as a Sabbath:

"On Sabbath they used to say, A psalm, a song for the Sabbath day: a psalm, a song for the time to come, for the day that will be all Sabbath and rest for everlasting life." (Tamid 7:4)

The anticipation that six thousand years still awaited completion and the millennium of the Messiah still lay in the future is expressed in Zohar, the central text of Jewish mysticism compiled in the 13th century, which states:

"Happy are those left alive at the end of the sixth millennium to enter into (the millennium of) the Shabbat" (Stern 842).

The Jewish viewpoint about the ages of the earth seems reflected in Peter's assertion, "But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (2Pet 3:8). Peter's words are set in the context of explaining the seeming delay of the Lord's coming and thus Peter's words could mean that just as there were six days of creation so there would be a thousand years for each creation day, and then the Day of the Lord would usher in the seventh or Sabbath millennium.

In contrast to the futuristic interpretation the CJB translates sabbatismos as "Shabbat-keeping" and makes the declaration about observing the Sabbath. Stern says,

"Christians often assume that the New Testament does not require God's people to observe Shabbat and go on to claim that Sunday has replaced Saturday as the Church's day of worship (see 1Cor 16:2). But this passage, and in particular verse 9, shows that Shabbat-observance is expected of believers." (673)

In my view Paul's declaration focuses on a present reality of a divine promise. He does not quote the fourth commandment as he quoted from the Ten Commandments elsewhere (Rom 7:7; 13:9). All appointed days on God's calendar were sabbaths. The Pharisees were rigorous in Sabbath keeping, but their legalism did not equate to experiencing a relationship of rest with God. As a present reality Fruchtenbaum defines the "sabbath-rest" as a type of spiritual maturity.

The promised "sabbath-rest" is based on the model of God's rest, as translated by the GNB: "there still remains for God's people a rest like God's resting on the seventh day." The "sabbath-rest" of this verse is not about doing nothing one day a week, but enjoying the fullness of God's grace and favor.

10 for the one having entered His rest, he also has rested from his works, as God from His own.

Reference: Genesis 2:2; Psalm 95:11

for: Grk. gar, conj. The conjunction serves to introduce an explanation for the promise mentioned in the previous verse. the one: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. A few commentators as Gill interprets "the one" as referring to Yeshua, but most interpreters treat "the one" in the sense of "whoever." having entered: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. part. See verse 1 above. The verb is not used here of entry into a place but an experience. His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, used here to refer to God.

rest: Grk. katapausis. See verse 1 above. The designation "His rest" alludes to God's rest on the seventh day mentioned in verse 4 above. As Guthrie notes God's rest does not imply inactivity, but encompasses peace, joy and concord. he: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; used to refer to the believer-disciple. also: Grk. kai, conj. has rested: Grk. katapauō, aor. See verse 4 above. from: Grk. apo, prep. See verse 3 above. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, used of the believer-disciple. works: pl. of Grk. ho ergon. See verse 3 above. Some commentators as Bruce see the fulfillment of Paul's statement as occurring after death in heaven as reflected in a parallel thought in Revelation where a voice from heaven declares,

"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'" "Yes," says the Spirit, "so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them." (Rev 14:13)

However, the aorist tenses of "having entered" and "has rested" point to a present experience as does the exhortation of the following verse. Guthrie explains,

"God's people share His rest. What He did, they do. There is no doubt that the writer is implying that the believer's present sabbath rest is as much a reality as God's rest. It is not some remote hope, but a hope immediately realizable."

as: Grk. hōsper, adv. of manner relating events and conditions, even as, just as. God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 4 above. from: Grk. apo, prep. His own: pl. of Grk. ho idios, belonging to oneself, one's own. Paul does not immediately explain what he means by saying that the believer-disciple has rested from his own works, but the statement probably hints at what he will later call "dead works" (Heb 6:1; 9:14).

Adam Clarke interprets the works from which the believer rests as no longer depending on the observance of rites and ceremonies prescribed in the Torah for his atonement and final happiness. He rests from all these works of the law as fully as God has rested from his works of creation. Resting from one's own works is likely equivalent to the admonition to Israel through Isaiah, "In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength" (Isa 30:15).

Third Warning, 4:11-13

11 Therefore let us be eager to enter into that rest, so that not anyone should fall by the same example of disobedience.

Reference: Numbers 14:29, 32.

Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. In view of what he just said Paul presses his point. let us be eager: Grk. spoudazō (from spoudē, "zeal"), aor. subj., 1p-pl., make a strong effort, having a sense of eagerness to carry out an obligation or achieve an objective; be eager, be diligent, strive, be zealous. The subjunctive mood is hortatory and expresses urgency. By including himself in the exhortation Paul could be implying to follow his example. to enter: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. inf. See verse 1 above. into: Grk. eis, prep. that: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 2 above. rest: Grk. ho katapausis. See verse 1 above.

The phrase "that rest" refers back to the "Sabbath-resting" mentioned in verse 9 above. The exhortation points to the realization of a present reality, not anticipation of a futuristic fulfillment after death. so that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed, in order that, so that, that. not: Grk. , adv. See verse 2 above. anyone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. should fall: Grk. piptō, aor. subj., to descend or drop from a higher place or position to a lower place or position, here fig. of falling under divine condemnation and punishment from heaven. In the LXX piptō mostly translates Heb. naphal (SH-5307), to fall, usually in the literal sense, first in Genesis 17:3.

by: Grk. en, prep. the same: Grk. ho autos, personal pronoun. See verse 1 above. example: Grk. hupodeigma (derived from hupo, "under," and deigma, "example, sample"), refers to something that serves as an indicator or directive for personal moral decision, here with the focus on function as deterrent from bad behavior; example. of disobedience: Grk. apeitheia. See verse 6 above. Paul links his discussion and admonition on rest to his discussion in the previous chapter of the Israelites' disobedience in the desert, particularly in Kadesh-Barnea (cf. Num 32:8-11; Deut 9:23; 32:51).

The warning about "falling" because of disobedience is likely an allusion to the pronouncement of judgment on the rebellious Israelites that their corpses would fall in the wilderness (Num 14:29, 32). The danger of physical death from disrespecting God's will is a reality not to be ignored (cf. 1Cor 11:27-30). The believer cannot afford to be arrogant about his supposed security and live in opposition to God's expectations.

12 For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any two-edged sword, even piercing as far as the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and also of marrows, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Reference: Isaiah 49:2; 55:11; 2Timothy 3:16.

For: Grk. gar, conj. the word: Grk. ho logos. See verse 2 above. of God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 4 above. While "the word of God" is often used in Acts of the proclamation of the Messiah (Acts 4:31; 6:2, 7; 8:14; 11:1; 13:5, 7, 46; 17:13; 18:11), Paul uses the expression to mean the words of God as recorded in Scripture (cf. Matt 15:6; John 10:35). Paul then gives five characteristics of the word of God. is living: Grk. zaō, pres. part., be in the state of being alive; living. This character is given first, since the "word" proceeds from the only living God.

Stephen in his defense sermon likened the instruction Moses received from God as "living oracles" (Acts 7:38). As Fruchtenbaum notes the Word of God can make a spiritually dead sinner spiritually alive. and: Grk. kai, conj. effective: Grk. energēs, adj., effective, productive of due result, at work. The term denotes a moral and spiritual dynamic. The Word of God is capable of transformative power within a person. The first two characteristics of Scripture may echo Paul's declaration to Timothy:

"16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." (2Tim 3:16)

Guthrie comments:

"The Word of God, in its intellectual and moral demands, pursues men and cries out for personal decision to be made in response to its exhortations. No doubt the writer is thinking of the ever present character of the spiritual challenge he has just culled from his reading of Psalm 95."

and: Grk. kai. sharper: Grk. tomos (from temnō, "to cut"), adj., sharper, keener. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. than: Grk. huper, prep., lit. "over, beyond." any: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 4 above. two-edged: Grk. distomos, adj., having two edges capable of cutting. sword: Grk. machaira, refers to a relatively short weapon with a sharp blade, mainly used for stabbing and close quarters combat. The term is used for a dagger and the Roman short sword. Noteworthy is that Paul does not say that the Word of God is a sharp sword, but that it is sharper than any sword known to man (Bruce).

Scripture has power in spiritual warfare. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17). The idea of a two-edged sword also appears in the description of the glorified Son of God by John the apostle (Rev 1:16; 2:12), which itself was prefigured in Isaiah 49:2. In Revelation the sword from Yeshua's mouth is used to punish the wicked (Rev 2:16; 19:15, 21), but here Paul uses the metaphor to represent the convicting and transformative power of Scripture.

even: Grk. kai. piercing: Grk. diikneomai, pres. mid. part., go in deeply, penetrate. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. The Word of God penetrates deep within a person. as far as: Grk. achri, prep., a function word signifying an interval between two points with focus on continuity, here indicating up to a certain point; as far as. the division: Grk. merismos, a dividing or distribution, apportionment. The noun occurs only in this letter. Paul then presents a lesson in human anatomy from a biblical perspective, describing the two major components of man, the immaterial and the material.

of soul: Grk. psuchē may mean (1) a quality of physical life; (2) that which possesses vital being; person; or (3) the seat of feelings, desires, affections, aversions. The third meaning is intended here. In the LXX psuchē translates Heb. nephesh (SH-5315), which may mean a soul, living being; first in Genesis 1:20. Nephesh also represents the inner self and the seat of desires, passions, appetites, and emotion. In Hebrew thought a person is a soul-body. Thus, "soul" does not refer to a non-physical part of a human being, but rather to the whole person (e.g., Acts 2:41; 7:14; 27:37; 1Pet 3:20). Conversely, the soul differs from the body in that it is not dissolved by death (Acts 2:27, 31; Rev 6:9; 20:4).

and: Grk. kai. of spirit: Grk. pneuma, wind, breath or spirit. Pneuma is used for the human spirit and transcendent beings (Matt 8:16; Heb 1:14). In the LXX pneuma translates Heb. ruach (SH-7307), breath, wind or spirit, used first for the Spirit of God (Gen 1:2) and then for the breath or spirit of humans and animals (Gen 6:17). As distinguished from "soul" a person's spirit is that spiritual capacity within that enables the person to commune with God, who is Spirit (John 4:24). The three-fold character of body-soul-spirit reflects the image of God (Gen 1:27; 9:6).

As Guthrie points out the penetration "as far as division" does not mean separating soul from spirit, but rather Scripture penetrates into both soul and spirit. A person cannot erect an internal wall strong enough to withstand the penetrating power of the Word of God. Scripture invariably exposes the true condition of the heart.

of joints: pl. of Grk. harmos, a joint in one's body. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The noun does not occur in the Greek Tanakh, but it is found in the Apocrypha (4Macc. 10:5; Sir. 27:2) and other Jewish literature (Ep. Arist. 71; Test. Zeb. 2:5) and: Grk. kai. also: Grk. te, conj. used to denote both connection and addition, as well as connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; and, also, both. of marrows: pl. of Grk. muelos, vascular tissue in the interior cavities of bones; marrow (cf. Job 21:24). The noun occurs only here in the Besekh, but it is found in the LXX (Gen 45:18; Job 21:24; 33:24).

According to Bruce, the material terms "joints" and "marrows" are used in a rhetorical sense to express the mental nature of man on all its sides. The anatomical terms might be taken more literally since even our bones can be effected by the Word of God (Ps 38:3; Prov 15:30; 16:24; Isa 58:11). In any event God's Word can reach to the innermost recesses of our being (Morris).

and: Grk. kai. able to judge: Grk. kritikos (from krinō, "to judge"), adj., competent to evaluate or judge. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. The term is not found in the LXX, but it does occur in Philo, On the Change of Names 110. the thoughts: pl. of Grk. enthumēsis, inner passion, reflection or thought. The term refers to emotion driving the reasoning process (HELPS). Psychologists may want to treat feelings as value-neutral, but Scripture judges our feelings as to whether they are pleasing to God.

and: Grk. kai. intentions: pl. of Grk. ennoia, (from en, "in, within" and nous, "mind"), engaged in the mind, the act of thinking; a thought, attitude, intention. of the heart: Grk. kardia, the pumplike organ of blood circulation, used fig. of selfhood or the combination of character, emotion, intelligence and the will. In the LXX kardia translates Heb. lebab (SH-3824), inner man, mind, heart, will, first in Genesis 20:5 (DNTT 2:181). Intentions matter and God knows the reasons behind behavior.

13 And there is nothing in creation hidden before Him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom is our accounting.

Reference: Psalm 139:7-12.

And: Grk. kai, conj. there is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. nothing: Grk. ou, adv. in creation: Grk. ktsis, may refer to the act of bringing into existence, or the product of a creative act, here the latter; creation. The term properly means "creation which is founded from nothing or creation out of nothing (Latin ex nihilo)" (HELPS). The majority of versions translate the noun as "creature," but if Paul had intended "creature," he would likely have used ktisma or zōon. Some versions have "creation" (ABP, DLNT, GNB, MRINT, NCB, NIV, NLT), and a few have "created thing" (JUB, MJLT, Moffatt, Weymouth, YLT). In the context ktsis represents the heavens and the earth and all that is in them.

hidden: Grk. aphanēs, adj., not readily observable; invisible, unseen, hidden. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. before: Grk. enōpion, prep., from a word meaning "facing" with the basic idea of being 'in sight of' or 'in the presence of.' Him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; used here of God. Some versions translate the pronoun with "His sight" to complete the thought (ESV, KJV, NASB, NKJV, OJB). Paul perhaps alludes to the revelation of David who declared the omniscience and omnipresence of God: "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? … Even the darkness is not dark to you." (Ps 139:7, 12).

There is no place on the earth, in the earth or under the earth where a person can hide from God. Job wrote "For He [God] looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens" (Job 28:24). A psalmist wrote, "13 ADONAI looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men; 14 From His dwelling place He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth" (Ps 33:13-14 BR). David also wrote, "O God, it is You who knows my folly, and my wrongs are not hidden from You" (Ps 69:5).

but: Grk. de, conj. all things: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 4 above. are naked: Grk. gumnos, adj., may mean (1) unclad, without clothing, nude; (2) ill-clad, e.g., with torn garments, inadequately dressed; (3) clad in undergarment only, the outer garment being removed; or (4) without a body, used of the soul (Thayer). The first meaning intended here. In the LXX gumnos translates Heb. arom (SH-6174), naked, first in Genesis 2:25. Paul may allude to the declaration of Job, "Naked is Sheol before Him, and Abaddon has no covering" (Job 26:6).

and: Grk. kai. exposed: Grk. trachēlizō, perf. mid. part., lit. "to take by the neck," laid bare, left open, uncover, expose. The graphic verb was used originally in the context of physical combat and the method of slaying a victim. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. The verb does not occur in the LXX, but it is found in Philo (On the Cherubim 78; On the Life of Moses 1:297), and Josephus (Wars IV, 6:2). to the eyes: pl. of Grk. ophthalmos, the physical organ of sight; the eye. In the LXX ophthalmos translates Heb. ayin (SH-5869), the organ of physical sight for humans and animals, as well as fig. of mental and spiritual faculties, first in Genesis 3:5.

of Him: Grk. autos; used again of God. The point here is that no one can escape the scrutiny of God. Hanani the seer warned Asa king of Judah when he sinned that "the eyes of ADONAI run to and fro throughout all the earth" (2Chr 16:9). ADONAI declared through Jeremiah, "For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity concealed from My eyes" (Jer 16:17).

to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" and normally conveys motion toward (DM 110); to, toward, with. whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. is our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. accounting: Grk. ho logos, lit. "word." See verse 2 above. The last clause lacks a verb which some versions supply with "we must give." Paul alludes to the fact that we all must stand before the judgment seat of the Messiah when he comes (Matt 12:36; 25:31-32; Rom 14:12; 2Cor 5:10; Heb 13:17).

The Great High Priest, 4:14-16

14 Therefore, having a great high priest, having passed through the heavens, Yeshua, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.

Paul now returns to a theme announced in 3:1 and continues into the next chapter. Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. See verse 1 above. having: Grk. echō, pl. pres. part., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. The verb emphasizes that as children of God we possess what the world does not. We have a friend in high places. a great: Grk. megas, adj., large or great in extent and used (1) of any extension in space in all directions; or (2) fig. of measure, whether of age, quantity, intensity, importance or social position (BAG). The adjective is used here to emphasize importance and status.

high priest: Grk. archiereus (from archē, "chief, pre-eminent one" and hiereus, "a priest"), a high or chief priest, i.e., a leader among priests. In the LXX archiereus occurs only two times in the canonical books, but 41 times in the Apocrypha (DNTT 3:35). In Leviticus 4:3 archiereus translates Heb. Hakohen Hamaschiach, "the anointed priest" and inserted in Joshua 24:33 without Heb. equivalent to describe Aaron. The Greek term was familiar to the populations of Greek and Roman provinces, since it was used of the chief religious leader in pagan cults (LSJ).

The Hebrew title of the high priest in Jewish culture was Ha-Kohen Ha-Gadol, which occurs 20 times in the Tanakh (Lev 21:10; Num 35:25, 28; Josh 20:6; 2Kgs 12:10; 22:4, 8; 23:4; 2Chr 34:9; Neh 3:1, 20; 13:28; Hag 1:1, 12, 14; 2:2, 4; Zech 3:1, 8; 6:11) and is translated in the LXX with ho megas [the great] ho hiereus [priest]. The office of high priest was established by God to act as the nation's representative before God and God's representative before the nation, in effect a mediator.

The high priest was to be a descendant of Aaron (Ex 27:21; 30:30) and he served as the chief executive officer over all the priests. This is the third time in Hebrews that Paul identifies Yeshua as high priest (2:17; 3:1). According to lineage Yeshua did not qualify to be a priest, much less a high priest, by virtue of being born into the tribe of Judah, even though his mother had a blood connection to the tribe of Levi and the house of Aaron (cf. Luke 1:5, 36). The unusual expression ("great high priest") never occurs in the Tanakh of any priest in the line of Aaron and thus marks Yeshua as more important than Aaron.

Bruce notes that the expression "great high priest" occurs only twice in other Jewish literature. It is used in the Apocrypha of Simon Maccabeus, the Hasmonean prince and high priest (1Macc 13:42) and Philo uses the expression of the Divine Logos (On Dreams 1:214-215, 219; II.183). Paul will explain in Chapter Five how Yeshua is the high priest in the order of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4; Heb 5:6), a more significant order than that of Aaron.

having passed through: Grk. dierchomai (from dia, "through," and erchomai, "to come or go"), perf. part., move within an area or from area to another; go through, with the focus on the point of arrival. the heavens: pl. of Grk. ho ouranos refers to the area above the earth that encompasses the atmosphere, interstellar space and the transcendent dwelling-place of God. In the LXX ouranos translates the Heb. hashamayim (lit. "the heavens") (DNTT 2:191). The Hebrew and Greek words for "heaven" are used in Scripture to refer to three different places (Ps 148:1-4). In terms of direction from the ground level of the earth the first heaven is the atmosphere in which birds fly (Gen 1:20; Rev 19:17).

The second heaven is interstellar space (Gen 1:1, 8; Matt 24:29) and the third heaven is the location of the throne of God and the home of angels (1Kgs 8:30; Matt 6:9; 2Cor 12:2). In Jewish tradition there are seven heavens (Hagigah 12b; Test. Levi 3:2-3). While Scripture does not specifically mention seven heavens there are references to the "highest heavens" above God's dwelling place (Deut 10:14; 2Chr 2:6; Ps 68:33; 148:4; cf. Ezek 1:22-28). The ascension of Yeshua from earth to heaven is recorded in Acts 1:9 and affirmed in various passages (Acts 2:33; 5:31; Eph 4:8-10). The CJB translates the term as "to the highest heaven" to denote the final destination of the ascension.

Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH is salvation" (BDB 221). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). The English translation of "Jesus" originated with the Mace New Testament in 1729. For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his identity, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua?

the Son: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios translates Heb. ben ("son," "son of"), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity, as the son of his father (Gen 5). (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor (e.g., Gen 32:32), as Yeshua is referred to as the son of David and Abraham (Matt 1:1); or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of (e.g., Ps 89:22; Dan 3:25; cf. Acts 4:36; 13:10), and this too applies here.

of God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 4 above. Christian theology has traditionally restricted the meaning of the title "Son of God" to deity. Unbelieving Jews typically object to the concept of God having a divine son and can rightly claim that in the first century "Son of God' had a very human meaning. Adam was the first son of God (Luke 3:38). Then God declared that the nation of Israel was His son (Ex 4:22; Isa 63:16; 64:8; Jer 31:9; Hos 11:1). Yet, there are verses in the Tanakh that mention God having a unique Son in a very personal sense (2Sam 7:12-14; Ps 2:6-7, 11-12; Prov 30:4; Isa 9:6).

For Jews during this time "son of God" was used as a title for the promised human descendant of King David (2Sam 7:12), the Messiah, who would establish and rule over the Kingdom of God on earth (cf. Luke 1:31-35; John 1:17, 41, 49; 11:27). "Son of God" was a title of the Davidic king inasmuch as the king functioned as God's regent on earth and was vested with God's authority. Even so there is no equivocation in Paul's writings that Yeshua is the image of the invisible God and agent of creation (2Cor 4:4; Col 1:15-17; Heb 1:2-3).

The enigma of unity of the divine Son and Father is captured in Philippians 2:6, "although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped." Paul began proclaiming Yeshua as the Son of God immediately after his transformation and apostolic commission (Acts 9:20). While he refers to Yeshua as "the Messiah" over 350 times in his letters, the title "Son of God" appears only eight times (Rom 1:4; 2Cor 1:19; Gal 2:20; Eph 4:13; Heb 4:14; 6:6; 7:3; 10:29).

let us hold fast: Grk. krateō, pres. subj., 1p-pl., may mean (1) to gain control of; secure, seize; or (2) to have firm hold on; hold fast, hold to. The second meaning is intended here. to our confession: Grk. ho homologia (from homou, "the same," and legō, "to speak"), the act of making a public declaration relating to belief or conviction; agreement, confession, profession. This noun, occurring previously in 3:1, is a favorite of Paul, occurring outside of this letter only in 2Corinthians 9:13 and 1Timothy 6:12-13. In the Corinthian letter homologia refers to the content of the good news to which believers had become obedient.

In the letter to Timothy homologia is first Timothy's public testimony of faith in and faithfulness to Yeshua, and second Yeshua's testimony of his identity to Pontius Pilate. In context the confession would be comparable to the content of what Paul wrote to Timothy.

"He who was revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory." (1Tim 3:16 NASB)

15 For we do not have a high priest not being able to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One having been tempted according to all things according to the same manner as us, yet without sin.

For: Grk. gar, conj. we do not: Grk. ou, adv. have: Grk. echō, pres. See the previous verse. a high priest: Grk. archiereus. See the previous verse. not: Grk. , adv. being able: Grk. dunamai, pres., the quality or state of being capable. to sympathize with: Grk. sumpatheō, aor. inf., have a capacity for internal sharing of troublesome experience; sympathize with. our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. weaknesses: pl. of Grk. astheneia, weak in body, sick or sickly, and may refer to a condition of debilitating illness, sickness, disease, or disability. but: Grk. de, conj.

One having been tempted: Grk. peirazō, perf. mid. part., may mean (1) make an effort to do something in the face of uncertainty about the outcome; try, attempt; or (2) make a trial of the quality or state of someone's character or claims as an inducement for producing some kind of action, whether positive (obedience) or negative (sin); tempt, test. The second meaning applies here in the sense of a negative inducement. In the LXX of this verse peirazō translates Heb. nasah (SH-5254), to test or try, which is used four times in the Torah for testing God (Ex 17:2, 7; Num 14:22; Deut 6:16).

according to: Grk. kata, prep., is generally used to signify (1) direction, "against, down;" (2) opposition, "against;" or (3) conformity, "according to." The third usage is intended here, conveying "so far as relates to" (Thayer). all things: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 4 above. The adjective is used here to allude to human activity. according to: Grk. kata. The repetition of the preposition conveys "according to the measure of." the same manner as us: Grk. homoiotēs, a condition that is like; likeness, in like manner. The point here is that Yeshua suffered the same sort of temptations common to man, which are illustrated in his wilderness trial by Satan (Matt 4:1-4).

yet without: Grk. chōris, adv., in a condition or circumstance not including; without, apart from. sin: Grk. hamartia may refer to (1) a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness; (2) the result of sinning or the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. The first meaning is intended here. Hamartia is the dominant word for sin in the Besekh. In Greek culture hamartia meant to miss the mark, to fail, be mistaken. A mistake is the result of ignorance. Hamartia could mean anything from stupidity to law-breaking, anything that does not conform to the dominant community ethic (DNTT 3:577).

In the LXX hamartia translates a range of Hebrew words for guilt and sin, particularly Heb. chata (SH-2398), miss, go wrong, lapse, sin (Gen 20:6; 39:9) and avon (SH-5771), iniquity, guilt, punishment for iniquity (Gen 15:16). Throughout Scripture sin as a behavior is a violation of God's written commandments (Rom 3:20; 5:13; 7:7). The degree of intentionality is not a factor in defining sinful behavior, only whether the express requirements or prohibitions of Torah commandments have been violated.

Yeshua himself affirmed that he lived in such a way that was pleasing to his heavenly Father (John 8:29; 14:31; 15:10). Various contemporaries of Yeshua acknowledged the purity of his character and conduct (Matt 22:16; 27:4; Luke 20:21; John 1:29; 3:2; 18:38). The apostles especially were emphatic in asserting the sinlessness of Yeshua (2Cor 5:21; Heb 7:26; 1Pet 2:22; 1Jn3:5).

16 Therefore let us draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and may find grace for help in time of need.

Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. let us draw near: Grk. proserchomai, pres. mid. subj., 1p-pl., to approach from a point to a person or place; come, go to, approach. The verb is used here in a figurative sense of coming to God in prayer, sacrifice, worship or devotion of heart and life (Zodhiates). The verb occurs in the apostolic narratives to describe individuals coming to Yeshua for healing or demonic deliverance, whether for self or another person, such as a man with a skin disease (Matt 8:2), a centurion (Matt 8:5), a father for his son (Matt 17:14), the disciples fearing shipwreck (Luke 8:24), and a woman with a hemorrhage (Luke 8:44).

Of relevance to Paul's exhortation proserchomai occurs in the LXX to translate Heb. qarab (SH-7126), to come near or approach, which is used for the congregation of Israel coming near and standing before the presence of God in order to experience the glory of God (Lev 9:5-6). Then the verb is used of Aaron approaching the altar to offer a sacrifice (Lev 9:7-8). In the time of King Saul the verb is used of a priest who counseled drawing near to ADONAI to seek guidance for a threatening situation (1Sam 14:36). The present tense of the verb emphasizes persistence in seeking God in prayer (cf. Luke 18:1).

with: Grk. meta, prep. See verse 7 above. boldness: Grk. parrēsia may mean (1) of plain and direct speech; plain speech or adverbially 'plainly, openly;' (2) freeness in speech, as opposed to being under constraint to watch one's words; boldness, candor, straightforwardness, unguardedness; or (3) openness to the public, here of seeking to be in the public eye for recognition. The second meaning applies here.

to the throne: Grk. ho thronos refers to a throne or chair upon which a king sits. Ancient thrones typically had a high back-rest and arm-rests and sometimes with a foot-stool. The throne was the official place from which the king exercised his power, authority and judgment. The term is often used figuratively of sovereignty or dominion (DNTT 2:611-615). Scripture often describes God as seated on a throne (1Kgs 22:19; Ps 11:4; 29:10; 47:8; 103:19; Isa 6:1; Ezek 1:26; Dan 7:9; Rev 4:2; 7:9).

of grace: Grk. ho charis, disposition marked by inclination to generosity, frequently unmotivated by the worth of the recipient; grace, gracefulness, graciousness, favor, thanks or gratitude. In the LXX charis occurs about 190 times of which only about 75 have a Hebrew equivalent, of which 61 are for Heb. hēn (SH-2580), favor, first in Genesis 6:8 in regards to Noah receiving the favor of God, and the others for Heb. racham (SH-7356), compassion, mercy, first in Genesis 43:14 (DNTT 2:116). The word picture of the "throne of grace" occurs only here in the Bible and depicts God as one who extends favor and covenantal faithfulness.

Stern suggests that there may be an implied contrast with the mercy seat of the Tabernacle and Temple here on earth, which only the Levitical high priest could approach. Yet Paul alludes to the heavenly throne occupied by the God of all mercy with Yeshua situated at His right hand (Heb 8:1; 12:2), from which he serves as mediator between God and man (1Tim 2:5; Heb 8:6).

so that: Grk. hina, conj. we may receive: Grk. lambanō, aor. subj., 1p-pl., actively lay hold of to take or receive. mercy: Grk. eleos, kindness expressed for one in need, compassion, mercy or pity. In the LXX eleos normally represents Heb. chesed (SH-2617), which means proper covenant behavior, the solidarity which the partners in the covenant owe one another. Chesed results in one giving help to the covenant partner in his need.

So the connotation of eleos meaning chesed may stretch from loyalty to a covenant to kindliness, mercy, and pity (DNTT 2:594). BDB defines chesed as essentially goodness or kindness and often occurs in passages with the sense of kindness of men towards men, in doing favors and benefits, but also kindness extended to the lowly and needy (338). The mercy of God is especially important when expressed as forgiveness of sins (Luke 18:13; Titus 3:5).

A beautiful gospel song that captures the essence of Paul's assurance here is the composition by John W. Peterson, No One Understands Like Jesus.

No one understands like Jesus.

He's a friend beyond compare;

Meet Him at the throne of mercy;

He is waiting for you there.

No one understands like Jesus;

Ev'ry woe He sees and feels;

Tenderly He whispers comfort,

And the broken heart He heals.

No one understands like Jesus

When the foes of life assail;

You should never be discouraged;

Jesus cares and will not fail!

No one understands like Jesus

When you falter on the way;

Tho' you fail Him, sadly fail Him,

He will pardon you today.

CHORUS:

No one understands like Jesus

When the days are dark and grim;

No one is so near, so dear as Jesus--

Cast your ev'ry care on Him!

(from Worship in Song, #460, Lillenas Pub. Co., 1972)

and: Grk. kai, conj. may find: Grk. heuriskō, aor. subj., 1p-pl., may mean (1) to come upon a person or thing, whether by seeking or happenstance; (2) to discover by inquiry, thought, examination, scrutiny, observation, or hearing; or (3) to find for oneself, to acquire, get, obtain, or procure. The third meaning applies here. grace: Grk. charis. for: Grk. eis, prep. help: Grk. boētheia, help or assistance of a practical nature. in time of need: Grk. eukairos, adj., well-timed or suitable. The last clause of the this verse presents "grace" as not only favor, but providential intervention.

God always works for the good of His people (Rom 8:28). And, as Jacob (the Lord's brother) observed, wisdom is available from God for the asking (Jas 1:5), but we often don't have what we need because of either a failure to ask God (Jas 4:2) or asking God for the wrong thing (James 4:3). According to Scripture we serve a prayer-answering God and He readily provides help in challenging and difficult situations (cf. Gen 25:21; 35:3; 41:16; 1Sam 1:17; 7:9; 23:4; Job 38:1; Ps 3:4; 17:6; 34:4; 38:15; 55:19; Isa 65:24; Jer 33:3; Zech 10:6; 1Jn 5:15). See my PowerPoint presentation Principles of Effective Prayer.

Works Cited

BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.

BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.

Bruce: F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1964. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)

Clarke: Adam Clarke (1762–1832), Commentary on the Holy Bible. 6 vols. Online.

Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.

DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.

DNTT: Colin Brown, ed., Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 Vols. Zondervan Pub. House, 1975.

DSB: The Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing Co., 1995. [KJV with annotations by Dr. Henry M. Morris.]

Ellicott: Charles John Ellicott (1819–1905), Commentary for English Readers (1878). Online.

Fruchtenbaum: Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, "Hebrews," Ariel's Bible Commentary: The Messianic Jewish Epistles. Ariel Ministries, 2005.

Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.

Guthrie: Donald Guthrie, Hebrews. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1983. [Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Vol. 15].

HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)

Kidner: Derek Kidner, Psalms 73―150: An Introduction and Commentary. InterVarsity Press, 1975. (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)

LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon (1889). rev. by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online

Morris: Leon Morris, Hebrews. Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 12. Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.

Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, "Hebrews," A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament. Vol. 2. Zondervan Pub. House, 1980.

Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.

Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer (1828-1901), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (1889). Hendrickson Publishers, 2003. Online.

TLV: Tree of Life Version, Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society, 2014. Online.

Westcott: B.F. Westcott (1825-1901), The Epistle to the Hebrews. 2nd ed. Macmillan and Co., 1892. Online.

Zodhiates: Spiros Zodhiates (1922-2009), ed. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. AMG Publishers, 1992, 1993.

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