Hebrews Chapter Four
I. Content of the Chapter
Christ is More Excellent than Joshua and Aaron
A. Christ is the Apostle, who is more excellent than Joshua (v.1-13).
1. Whether we will be enabled to enter into that rest is decided by whether we have faith or not (v.1-6).
2. Joshua cannot give rest to the people of God (v.7-9).
3. He who has ceased from his works ---- to believe Christ ---- will be enabled to enter into that rest (v.10-11).
4. The word of God will manifest the one who really believes Him (v.12-13).
B. Christ is the High Priest, who is more excellent than Aaron (v.14-16).
1. The Son of God is the High Priest who has passed through the heavens (v.14).
2. He was in all points tempted as we are, so
He is able to sympathize with our weakness (v
3. He has overcome all temptations and has never committed sin (v.15b).
4. He sits on the throne of grace and gives help to men in time of need (v.16).
II. Verse by Verse commentary
Heb. 4:1 “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.”
YLT: “We may fear, then, lest a promise being left of entering into His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short,”
Meaning of Words: “seem to”: be accounted, suppose, think; “any of you”: anyone; “come short of”: be later, be destitute, fail, suffer need;
Literal Meaning: “since a promise remains of entering His rest”, “a promise”: the promise of God, which is also called “My rest” (Heb. 3:11; 4:3, 5), “His rest” (Heb. 3:18), “that rest” (Heb. 4:3, 11), “a rest” (Heb. 4:9) ---- all of them are used to describe the true spiritual rest in Christ, namely, “the Sabbath” in the times of the Old Testament ---- the seventh day (see v.4) and “the land of rest”, which is typified by the land of Canaan (see Heb. 11:9).
His rest”, “enter” means going into a certain sphere. The
third chapter mentions that the people of
“Let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it”, “fear”, it shows that the promise of entering His rest is not only a kind of privilege but also responsibility. If we neglect the right and are unwilling to obtain and enjoy it, we will be condemned by God. “Come short of”: come behind, be later, fail;
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) It is insufficient for believers to know the Lord Jesus is their lord and they are delivered from the punishment of sins only, for the salvation also includes entering His rest. Therefore, we shall be diligent to seek to obtain His perfect salvation.
2) We Christians are not occupied with nothing after we are saved. Instead, there is a long race that is waiting for us to run ahead. If we do not run well, we shall give an account to the Lord. Therefore, we shall fear.
3) Though all Christians will enter into the
sphere of eternal life ultimately (John 3:16), each of us shall give an account
to God (
Heb. 4:2 “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.”
YLT: “for we also are having good news proclaimed, even as they, but the word heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard,”
Meaning of Words: “mix”: commingle, combine, assimilate;
Literal Meaning: “for indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them”, “the gospel”, here the gospel does not refer to the gospel of remission, but the good news of the promise of entering His rest (see v.1); “as well as to them”, it indicates that the good news of entering His rest is still preached as in the times of the Old Testament.
“But the word which they heard did not profit them”, “the word” refers to the good news preached to them, namely, the promise of entering His rest;
“Not being mixed with faith in those who heard it”, it means that they have no faith to receive the word concerning entering His rest.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) If Christians have not experienced the perfect salvation that the gospel has brought to us, the reason must lie in our own, for the gospel we have heard is totally the same with that others have head and yet our response is different from that of others.
2) Faith is the only tool for us to receive the word of God. Those who lack faith profit nothing from the word of God.
3) We shall have fellowship with God and read His word by faith, for only faith makes our heart lean to God and desire to enter His rest.
Heb. 4:3 “For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: "So I swore in My wrath, "They shall not enter My rest,"' although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.”
YLT: “for we do enter into the rest -- we who did believe, as He said, `So I sware in My anger, If they shall enter into My rest -- ;' and yet the works were done from the foundation of the world,”
Literal Meaning: “for we who have believed do enter that rest”, “who have believed”: those who have faith; “enter”, it indicates that we are even enabled to enjoy the rest of God now, not until the future.
This verse has clearly indicated faith is the condition of entering that rest. Faith means that one believes God instead of himself and commits oneself unto Him and lets Him fulfill full responsibilities. Therefore, faith means honoring God more than anything, and God also highly respects our faith and please to open the gracious door to all those who believe and greet them to enter His rest.
“As He has said”, the perfect tense of “has said” shows the effect of His word endures.
“"So I swore in My wrath, "They shall not enter My rest"'”, it is quoted from the Book of Psalm (95:11). “Swore”, it refers to very serious declaration. “Enter My rest”: enjoy the rest that God has promised;
“Although the works were finished from the foundation of the world”, “the works”: all the works of God’s creation; “were finished”: it indicates that since the works of God’s creation have already perfectly fulfilled because of His word (see Ps. 33:9), it really sinful of the people of God that they are even unwilling to believe His promise in spite of the power of His word (see Luke 1:37). No wonder God swore in His wrath that they shall not enter His rest.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Whether one shall obtain that rest is decided by his faith. Only those who really have faith are enabled to enter that rest.
2) We are now able to enjoy the rest and blessings kept for us in the future by faith. We appropriate the promise of God by faith (see v.1).
3) The eyes of faith make us see God himself.
Only Him is our rest. The eyes of faith also make us see the works of God have
already finished and all things are in His hands working for good to those who
love God (
4) Many Christians are unable to enjoy the rest of God, for they do not know the power of God. He can keep all that we have committed to Him (see 2Tim. 1:12).
Heb. 4:4 “For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works";”
YLT: “for He spake in a certain place concerning the seventh thus: `And God did rest in the seventh day from all His works;'”
Meaning of Words: “rest”: cease, settle down;
Literal Meaning: “for He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way”, “the seventh day”: the seventh day of God’s creation; “a certain place”: Gen. 2:2;
“And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”, “rest”, it contains the meaning of “ceasing from the works” as well as “fulfillment”.
Heb. 4:5 “and again in this place: "They shall not enter My rest."”
YLT: “and in this again, `If they shall enter into My rest -- ;'”
Literal Meaning: “and again in this place”, the word in verse three is repeated as below.
“They shall not enter My rest.” This is the third time that the same word is mentioned (see v.3; 3:11).
Heb. 4:6 “Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience,”
YLT: “since then, it remaineth for certain to enter into it, and those who did first hear good news entered not in because of unbelief --”
Meaning of Words: “disobedience”: disbelief, unbelief;
Literal Meaning: “since therefore it remains that some must enter it”, “it remains”, whether it is “those who remain” or “the rest that remains”, the Bible exegetes have not reached an agreement. Since God has commanded that someone “shall not” enter the rest (see v.5), the rest are those who “are able to” enter into the rest.
“And those to whom it was first preached”, “preach”: the preachment of the good news of entering His rest (see v.2).
“Did not enter because of disobedience”, “disobedience” is different from “unbelief” (see Heb. 3:12, 19). “unbelief”: the condition of unbelieving; “disobedience”: the action of unbelieving;
According to the third and fourth chapters of this book, “hardening of one’s heart” (see v.7; 3:8, 13, 15) and “unbelief” (see v.2; 3:12, 19) and “disobedience” (see v.6, 11) are synonymous, which are interchangeable with one another. Someone gives the following explanation: 1) firstly, men do not know God for they “err in heart” (3:10); 2) then, they do not believe the word of God; 3) they become “hardened in heart” and are unwilling to hear the word of God; 4) thus, they have works of “disobedience”; 5) they are counted as those who do “not believe”.
Heb. 4:7 “again He designates a certain day, saying in David, "Today," after such a long time, as it has been said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts."”
YLT: “again He doth limit a certain day, `To-day,' (in David saying, after so long a time,) as it hath been said, `To-day, if His voice ye may hear, ye may not harden your hearts,'”
Meaning of Words: “designates”: mark out, appoint;
Literal Meaning: “again He designates a certain day, saying in David, "Today," after such a long time”, “in David”: in the Book of Psalm; the Jews often call the Book of Psalm “the Book of David”, and call the Book of Genesis, and the Book of Exodus and the Book of Leviticus and the Book of Numbers and the Book of Deuteronomy “the Pentateuch”, and call the Book of Proverbs and the Book of Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs “the Books of Wisdom of Solomon”.
“Again He designates a certain day”, God gives a chance again.
“As it has been said”, it refers to the word in chapter three (Heb. 3:7-8) quoted from the Book of Psalm (95:7-8). This is the third time of mentioning this verse.
“Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts”, “today”: the present chance; note that the importance of the word “today” can be viewed from the seven times mentioning of it (Heb. 1:5; 3:7, 13, 15; 4:7; 5:5; 13:8).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Believers lose the spiritual blessings because of their neglect of the chances of being blessed and failure to catch the day that God has designated instead of their sins.
2) He who has wisdom is the one who knows how to catch the opportunity (see Eph. 5:15-16).
3) “Today” is a chance gifted by God to us. And we have to catch “today” to hear His word, for today may be the last day of us.
Heb. 4:8 “For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day.”
YLT: “for if Joshua had given them rest, He would not concerning another day have spoken after these things;”
Meaning: “for if Joshua had given them rest”,
“Joshua”: the leader Hosea
who brought the people of
“For if … had given them rest”, it is in subjunctive mood, which shows that Joshua had not given them rest.
“Then He would not afterward have spoken of another day”, “another day” is “today” (see v.7; 3:7, 13, 15), namely, the rest that God has promised to remain for us (see v.9).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Though the people of
2) If a promise of God has not been fulfilled on us, it does not mean that His promise has failed, for we have not given the chance to let the promise fulfilled on us (see 2Cor. 1:20).
Heb. 4:9 “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.”
YLT: “there doth remain, then, a sabbatic rest to the people of God,”
Meaning of Words: “rest”: the Sabbatismos rest”, which appears only once in the New Testament and is different from the Sabbath.
“therefore”, this is a word
linking between the words before it and that after it, showing that the people
“There remains a rest for the people of God.” “A rest”: a rest that is different from the Sabbath of the Old Testament. The purpose of God’s setting the Sabbath in the Old Testament is to let men rest from the labor every week off day and enjoy the rest that God’s creation brings to them with God. However, such rest is not real rest, for it only typifies the mental and spiritual rest that the works of God’s new creation bring to men (see Eph. 2:10; 2Cor. 5:17). That rest is a sabbatic rest, which is obtained in Christ by faith (see Heb. 3:14).
The famous Bible scholar Westcott translates this verse as follows: “even believers who live in this age can also pre-taste that sabbatic rest. One needs only to reckon himself to be dead and obey Christ totally. It is no longer he that lives, but Christ living in him (Gal. 2:20). He has totally rested from his own works”.
Controversial Clarification: it is held in the Seventh-day Adventist that believers in the New Testament shall still keep the Sabbath. However, we cannot approve of it for the reasons as follows:
1) The Sabbath is a shadow of things to come,
but the body of Christ (
2) He who does not keep the Sabbath does not destroy the commandments of God, for Jesus Christ has fulfilled the requirements of the law concerning the Sabbath for us (see Matt. 5:17-19). Today, we just enjoy the salvation that Christ has fulfilled for us today ---- the real rest.
3) As the “Son of Man”, He said it became him to fulfill all righteousness (Matt. 3:15). He did not command the disciples to keep the Sabbath, but let the Jews judge him violation of the Sabbath. Therefore, the Jews schemed to kill Jesus (Luke 4:16, 31; 6:1-6; 13:11-17; 14:1-6; John 5:18).
4) The apostle Paul was a Pharisee, and fulfilled all the righteousness in the law (Phil. 3:5-6). He entered into the synagogue many times on the Sabbath for the purpose of preaching when the Jews were gathered rather than keeping the Sabbath (Acts 13:13-41, 44-49; 16:13-14; 18:4).
5) The Lord Jesus said that the Sabbath was made on account of man, not man on account of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). The purpose of God’s setting the Sabbath in the times of the Old Testament is leading men to know the Lord of the Sabbath ---- Christ. Now, Christ has come, we are not under the law (Gal. 3:24-25).
6) Believers in the New Testament keep the Lord’s day instead of the Sabbath ---- it is not changing or destroying the law of God (see Dan. 7:25), for we are not under law but under grace (Rom. 6:14; 7:4; Gal. 5:18) and we have no need to put us under the yoke that even the Jews are unable to bear (Acts 15:10).
7) We must keep all the moral commandments that are ordered to keep in the New Testament, for example, worship God (forty times), not worship idols (twelve times), honor one’s father and mother (six times), not commit adultery (twelve times), not steal (six times), not bear false witness (four times), not covet (nine times), not kill (seven times). Only the commandment of keeping the Sabbath among the “Ten Commandments” has not appeared in the New Testament. Therefore, it is not set for Gentile believers, and we need not to keep it. (Note that the commandment of not idly uttering the name of Jehovah has not clearly mentioned, but we it can be seen from the Lord’s Prayer that “hallowed be thy name”).
8) Those who are of the Seventh-day Adventist only keep the Sabbath apparently, and fail to keep all the customs of the Sabbath perfectly, e.g. keep it for twenty-four hours (Lev. 23:32), bear no burden (Jer. 17:21), kindle no fire (Ex. 35:3), not cook or bake (Ex. 16:23) etc. If one offends in one, he has come under the guild of all (James 2:10). Therefore, they have not kept the Sabbath perfectly.
9) When the Lord was crucified, He had already nailed the law which was contrary to us to the cross (Col. 2:14). Therefore, the law of the Sabbath can no longer bind believers in the New Testament. Why need we put us into the net and under the yoke (Gal. 5:1)?
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Since there is a rest remaining for believers in the New Testament, if we are qualified, we can even pre-taste the rest today.
2) The rest that believers in the New Testament enjoy is not only the deliverance from heavy labor and burden (Matt. 11:28) but also the enjoyment that the Lord is our rest.
Heb. 4:10 “For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.”
YLT: “for he who did enter into his rest, he also rested from his works, as God from His own.”
Meaning of Words: “cease…from”: desist;
Literal Meaning: “for he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works”, “ceased from his works”: cease from the vain works that go against God, namely, removing the dead works (see Heb. 9:14), totally relying on God and enjoying the rest in God’s arms;
“As God did from His”, “as God did”, it indicates that the real rest of man is like the rest of God. “Did from His”, it shows that God’s rest originated from His perfect satisfaction with His creation without any addiction or improvement and therefore he ceased from His works and enjoyed the fulfillment of His works in rest (see Gen. 2:2-3). “As”, it means that God ceases from His works because of His satisfaction with His works and man shall in like manner also satisfy because of God’s satisfaction and thus cease from our works and enjoy the salvation that He has accomplished for us.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) God’s ceasing from His works shows His perfect satisfaction with His works. Our ceasing from our works also shows our perfect satisfaction with God’s works.
2) If believers desire to enjoy the rest of God, they have to receive the works of God and satisfy with what God satisfies. Thus, they will have the rest as that of God.
3) No matter how man works, he can not work to a flawlessly perfect degree, so he can not enter into perfect rest. Only when man ceases from his own works and lets God work can he obtain the rest as that of God.
Heb. 4:11 “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.”
YLT: “May we be diligent, then, to enter into that rest, that no one in the same example of the unbelief may fall,”
Meaning of Words: “diligent”: earnest;
Literal Meaning: “let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest”, the meaning of “be diligent” is totally opposite to “ceasing from his works” (see v.10), but they are not contradictory. “Ceasing from his works”: cease from labor in one’s flesh; “be diligent”: hold the faith earnestly and let one not follow that example of disobedience;
“Lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience”, “lest”, if it is not so, there will be bad results; “according to the same example of disobedience”: follow the examples of failure; “fall”: be judged unqualified and thus unable to attain the goal;
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Concerning the matter of entering that rest, Christians are not “diligent to work”, but “are diligent not to work” and look unto and trust in the Lord only.
2) Everyone is supposed to take responsibility for his own spiritual condition ---- this is our personal relationship with God. And no individual or group can replace our personal faith toward God.
3) We are able to replace our faith toward and obedience to God by nothing. We have none way of obtaining rest and joy than faith and obedience, and thus we are enabled to enter into Christ and live in His rest.
Heb. 4:12 “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
YLT: “for the reckoning of God is living, and working, and sharp above every two-edged sword, and piercing unto the dividing asunder both of soul and spirit, of joints also and marrow, and a discerner of thoughts and intents of the heart;”
Meaning of Words: “word”: logos; “living”: to live, quicken; “powerful”: operative, effectual; “sharper”: more keen; “discerner”: judge;
Literal Meaning: “for the word of God is living and powerful”, “the word of God”: the abiding word of God; here it especially refers to the word of His promise concerning entering into His rest that is preached to the people of Israel and to us through the gospel (see v.1-2), namely, the word of the Old Testament and the New Testament in the Scriptures. “Living”: the manifestation of the life in the word; God is the origin of life and so His word is full of power of life (Luke 1:37). “Powerful”, it is the effect of the spirit in the word that will shine and enable man to discern (see Ps. 119:105, 130).
If the word of God in the Scriptures is translated into the transient word (rhema), it is the spirit and life (John 6:63) to those who have heard (see v.2, 7). Therefore, it is living and powerful.
“And sharper than any two-edged sword”, “two-edged sword”, it indicates the power of piercing and division.
“Piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”, “soul and spirit”: man is composed of spirit and soul and body (see 1Thess. 5:23). The physical body is easily seen. However, the internal soul and spirit are often confused, so the feelings and activities of the soul life are often misunderstood as that of the spirit and many problems are thus caused. Therefore, it is necessary to discern between them.
“Joints and marrow”, marrow is deep in the hollow center of bones. If the joints are not open, man cannot see the marrow. Therefore, here they are used to compare the deepest thoughts hidden in man’s heart, namely, “the thoughts and intents of the heart”.
“Piercing even to the division”, “pierce”: penetrate into, go through; “division”: divide into different parts; “piercing even to the division”, it shows that the word of God has the penetrating power to discern the hidden and obscure thoughts and intents of man.
“And is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”, “heart” includes mind and emotion and will and conscience; “thoughts”: the thoughts in man’s mind; “intents”: the decision in man’s will; “discerner”, it is used to describe that the husbandmen divide the wheat and the chaff with dustpan, and here it refers to the division between good and evil of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Verse twelve and thirteen after the exhortation concerning rest show that God is willing to help us to obtain such spiritual rest though His “word” ---- “His word shall be that goes forth out of my … accomplish that for which I send it” (Is. 55:11).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The Scriptures the word of God is living and powerful.
a) The word of God is the sword of the spirit (Eph. 6:17), which is able to penetrate into man and manifest his internal condition and intent (Heb. 4:12).
The word of God is a
mirror that manifests one’s true colors (James 1:22-25), which is able to shine
and manifest one’s reality (
c) The word of God is a burning fire (Jer. 23:29), which is able to burn up the impurities of man’s heart (Jer. 5:14) and to make one’s heart burning (Luke 24:32).
d) The word of God is like a hammer breaking the rock in pieces (Jer. 23:29).
The word of God is
the incorruptible seed (1Pet. 1:23), which is able to regenerate those who have
heard it (
f) The word of God is the spiritual milk (1Pet. 2:2-3), which is able to make the spiritual life grown up and built (Matt. 4:4; Heb. 5:12-14; Acts. 20:32).
g) The word of God is the light that brings believers (Ps. 119:105).
h) The word of God is the water that cleanses and sanctifies believers (John. 15:3; 17:17), which is able to wash the church to be holy and blameless (Eph. 5:25-26).
i) The word of God is the weighted line that measures believers, which makes men approved unto God (2Tim. 2:15).
2) The word of God is powerful. Once it is gone forth, it shall not return unto God void, but it shall do that which He pleases (Is. 55:10-11).
3) The marrow is hidden deeply in the bones, and the spirit is also hidden deeply in soul likewise. If we desire to divide the joints and the marrow, the joints shall be pierced and divided. In like manner, if the spirit and soul shall be divided, the soul shall be pierced and divided.
4) Only the word of God has the power of penetrating into and dividing our soul. The light in the word of God enables us to discern what is out of the mind and emotion and will of soul so that we will know some of our feelings and activities are out of our soul life instead of spirit.
5) The Lord’s word tells us, “if anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself and take up His cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). And the life of one’s self is his soul (Matt. 16:25). Therefore, concerning the matter of following the Lord, man’s soul must be dealt with.
6) We must deny our soul, i.e. not set our soul
on things that are of men (Matt. 16:23;
7) God is a God who searches reins and hearts (Rev.2:23). And God’s word is also able to penetrate into man’s inmost heart (see Acts 2:37) and discern the thoughts and intents of his heart and expose his manifest motives.
8) Only when man’s life and mind are totally shone by God’s living word of life can he enter into real rest.
9) Once a believer has the watering and shining of God’s word, he will understand the will of God and receive the power of life so as to keep the will of God.
10) God’s word is living and powerful and is swifter and is able to pierce and divide and discern. The word of God has the following effects on us:
a) It is not dead letter, so is able to provide life to quicken man.
b) It is not stagnant, but living and operative, so is able to renew man’s strength.
c) It is not dull or slow, but swift and sharp, so is able to make man pricked in heart.
d) The piercing power of God’s word is able to deal with the inmost problems of man.
e) The dividing and discerning power of God’s word helps man to measure and judge him.
Heb. 4:13 “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
YLT: “and there is not a created thing not manifest before Him, but all things naked and open to His eyes -- with whom is our reckoning.”
Meaning of Words: “no hidden”: manifest, reveal; “word”: logos; “naked”: nude; “open”: lay bare;
Literal Meaning: “and there is no creature hidden from His sight”, “from His sight”: from God’s sight; here the writer of this book joints the works of God with the works of God’s word (see v.12), showing that the effect of God’s word in us is the result of God’s works in us by the Spirit (see John 14:16; 16:13).
“There is no…”: all of them are…; “no hidden”: one’s neck is jerked backward in the wrestling and thus his face turns upward. It is used to describe the defenseless condition against any attack.
“But all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account”, “to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account”: it indicates that we have to be responsible to God.
This verse is composed of two clauses. The first one is double negative ---- “there is no creature hidden from His sight”, and the second one is double positive ---- “all things are naked and open”.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) No matter what we do, we cannot escape from the Lord’s sight. Therefore, our walking shall be worthy of the Lord’s calling (Eph. 4:1).
2) If we desire to give good account to God, we have to keep His word. Therefore, we shall trust in God’s word more and keep it more faithfully.
3) The word of God can help man to sift the wheat from the chaff (see v.12), and even all things are unable to be hidden before Him. Hidden things tend to be with filth. However, if they are open to all, they will not be hidden and are easy to be cleansed (see Eph. 5:12-13).
Heb. 4:14 “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.”
YLT: “Having, then, a great chief priest passed through the heavens -- Jesus the Son of God -- may we hold fast the profession,”
Meaning of Words: “hold fast”: use strength, seize, retain;
Literal Meaning: “seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens”, “then”, it indicates that the following word corresponds to the word in chapter three “consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Jesus” (Heb. 3:1). “Through the heavens”, it means that he has not remained when he passes through the first and second heavens, but ascents into the third heaven before the throne of God (see 2Cor. 12:2; Rev. 5:6). “Honor” shows that His person and works and fulfillments are much honorable and glorious (see Heb. 1:3, 8; 2:9; 6:19; 9:24).
“High Priest”, it is contrast with “the Apostle” (see Heb. 3:1). Both of them refer to two different ministries of Christ: “the Apostle”: the one who is sent by God and represents God before men or brings God to men; “the High Priest”: the one who represents those who are of God and brings us to God and fulfills the ministry of mediator for us (see Heb. 7:21-25; 8:1, 6).
“Jesus the Son of God”, “the Son of God” refers to His divinity; “Jesus” refers to His humanity. Both the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ make Him fit to fulfill the ministry of the High Priest and be the mediator between God and men.
“Let us hold fast our confession”, “our confession” refers to our faith, namely, “the common faith” (Titus 1:4; Judas v.3).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) We have a great High Priest. All that He is and He has and He does and He has experienced are for us. We are able to appropriate all that are of Him to deal with our deed.
2) Many times, we are oppressed by our surrounding and unable to transcend it. However, the High Priest who is willing to help us has passed through the heavens and put everything under His feet. Once we ask for Him, He will make us overcome all.
3) He is “Jesus the Son of God”, who has both divinity and humanity ---- He has the power of God on one hand and is able to condescend to the weakness of men (see v.15). Only He is worthy of our trust.
4) We can only appropriate His riches by faith. Once we have lost the faith, we will be unable to have fellowship with the High Priest, Jesus. Therefore, we “have to hold fast our confession”, and this is His only requirement for us.
Heb. 4:15 “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
YLT: “for we have not a chief priest unable to sympathise with our infirmities, but tempted in all things in like manner -- apart from sin;”
Meaning of Words: “sympathize”: feel sympathy with; “without sin”: be separated from sin, outside of sin;
Literal Meaning: “for we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses”, “sympathize”: identify with, have empathy with; “our weakness”: our inborn weakness in the flesh, for example, our weariness, and our inclination of escape in difficulties and bitterness, etc.
“But was in all points tempted as we are”, “in all points”: three sorts of temptations that we may encounter in lifetime (see 1John 2:16) instead of all the details of everyone; “was tempted”, it indicates that the Lord Jesus had been tempted on the same principle and yet he has overcome (Matt. 4:1-11).
“Yet without sin”, it means that he has never fallen into the traps when he is tempted ---- not only perfect in actions but also innocent in mind. It is just like a doctor, who has not the symptoms of the patient, but he totally understands the suffering of the patient and knows how to cure him.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Who is weak, and I am not weak (2Cor. 11:29)? Weakness is not sin, but man may commit sins because of weakness. Therefore, we shall discern our weakness appropriately and seek the solutions.
2) Christ is our help in weakness: a) He is able to sympathies with our weakness; 2) He graciously grants sufficient power to dwell upon us (2Cor. 12:9).
3) If a man in his failure knows that another one has not failed in the same experience, he will surely be comforted and encouraged.
4) Since He was in all points tempted, He was able to sympathize with our weaknesses. And He is without sin, so He can help all those who are trapped in sin.
5) The Lord sympathizes with our weakness, not sin. His sympathy will finally enable us to overcome sins so that we will more than conquer.
Heb. 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
YLT: “we may come near, then, with freedom, to the throne of the grace, that we may receive kindness, and find grace -- for seasonable help.”
Meaning of Words: “boldly”: confidence, frankness; “come”: draw near; “in time of”: well-timed, opportune;
Literal Meaning: “let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace”, “boldly”: be full of confidence; it means that we need only to confess our sins frankly and let our need be made known to God without any confusion or panic; “us…come”: the repeated and habitual and continual activities; “come”: draw near; this word in the Septuagint is used to describe the action of the priest’s drawing near God when he fulfilled the ministry. Now the priest’s privilege of drawing near God has been passed to Christians. “The throne of grace”, it is the mercy-seat on the ark of the testimony in the times of the Old Testament (Ex. 26:34), which symbolizes the presence (Lev. 16:2) and grace of God.
boldly to the throne of grace”, since it is throne, it may refer to the throne of
God in the heavens and of the Lamb (see Rev. 7:17; 22:1, 3). And it must not be
things after the Rapture that we who still live on the earth are enabled to
come to the throne. Here, it relates to the true worship in spirit (see John
4:23-24), for God and Christ have now dwelt in our spirit (
“That we may obtain mercy and find grace”, “obtain mercy”, it shows that we need the mercy of our High Priest because of the failure and sins in our past (see Heb. 2:17); “and find grace”, it points that we need the help of our faithful High Priest (Heb. 2:17) for the sake of the present difficulty and possible impending problems.
“To help in time of need”, “help”, the word in the original is composed of crying and running, which is used to describe a mother who come immediately when she hears the crying of her baby. Here, it points that He will immediately give us help as long as we ask for Him with boldness.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Only those who know Him will come to Him with boldness. Therefore we shall seek more knowledge about the Lord and His person and works.
2) We come to the throne of grace, not the throne of judgment. If God only sits on the throne of judgment, there will be serious consequences for the world.
3) “Mercy”, God provides His mercy for man to appropriate at any time in his weakness (see v.15). “Grace”, it is sought and found according to the personal need.
4) “Grace” is none other than Himself who has become our enjoyment and experience. And the One we enjoy and experience has become our power in weakness and help at any time.
5) The High Priest among men can help others once a year (the Atonement Day). However, the High Priest in the heavens helps us not only everyday but also at anytime.
III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons
The Reason for Fear
A. lest any of you seem to have come short of it (v.1);
B. For indeed the gospel was preached to us (v.2);
swore in His wrath that those who did
not believe would not enter His
D. For the rest of God remains for us from the foundation of the world (v.3b-10);
1. God rested on the seventh day, which proved that there was another spiritual rest (v.3-4, 10);
God’s promise of
entering into rest of the
3. God designates a certain day by David, which proves that there is another spiritual rest (v.7);
4. God mentioned another day for Joshua had not given them rest (v.8);
5. The conclusion: there is another rest remaining for us (v.9);
E. For someone fell according to the same example of disobedience (v.11);
Know the Rest
A. “His rest” (v.1, 3, 5, 10) ---- it is the rest that God enjoys, and only Him is able to give such rest;
B. We can only enjoy such rest by faith. Those who do not believe or obey will not enter into the rest (v.2-3, 6, 11);
C. It is the rest that are enjoyed after works (v.3-4, 10) ---- we can enjoy such rest only after we rest from our works, and appreciate and satisfy with the works of God;
D. It is the rest that God foretold His people many times (v.7-8);
E. It is the rest that God remains for His people (v.9) ---- only the real people of God is capable to enjoy and obtain such rest;
F. The word of God helps to obtain and enjoy such rest (v.2, 6-7, 12-13);
Let Us Be Diligent to Enter That Rest
A. Let us seek the highest and fullest will of God (v.1);
B. Let us receive the gospel that God has promised by faith (v.2-3);
C. The three aspects of meaning of rest (v.3-11);
1. The rest that God’s works have been finished ---- the rest on the seventh day (v.3-6, 10):
a.All the works of God are perfect works (v.3).
b.The works of God need never to be added or modified or changed (v.4-5).
c. All the continuous labor is the sign of unbelief (v.3, 5-6);
d.Let us utterly enter into that rest on account of the works of Christ (v.10).
2. The rest that the death of Christ purifies our natural life ---- the rest that Joshua brought the people into (v.8-11);
a.It is drift in ourselves, and rest in Christ ---- this is a spiritual law (v.10);
b.The rest of entering into
c. The death of Christ shall destroy all the difficulties of our natural life (v.8-9);
d.The works of the cross bring us into the experience of the rest (v.10-11);
3. Christ in the Spirit is our true rest ---- the rest that David promised (v.7, 9);
a.Christ is the end of all the meaning of the rest (v.9);
b.There remains a rest for the people of God (v.9);
c. The full Christ is the rest of God’s people (v.7);
D. The living word of God is our power that enables us to enter into the rest (v.12-13);
1. The working of God’s word full of life ----
it is living (v
2. The word of God with full effect ---- it is powerful (v.12b);
3. The word of God with the fearful power of
a.The division of soul and spirit, ---- the natural life is shone and smitten and demolished, ;
b.The division of joints and marrow ---- the most hidden and complicated part of the whole man;
c. The division of the thoughts and intents of the heart ---- heart and motivation;
4. God’s word is the Lord Himself (v.13);
Things that Christians Shall Do Diligently
A. Let us be diligent to enter that rest, lest we all (v.1, 11);
B. Let us be diligent to hold fast the faith, lest we lose the promise of God (v.2-3, 6, 11);
C. Let us be diligent to read the words of God, lest we sin against God (v.12-13);
D. Let us be diligent to pray more to God, lest we lose help (v.14-16);
The Transcendence of Christ as the High Priest
A. He is the great High Priest who has passed
through the heavens (v
B. He is the Jesus the Son of God (v.14b) ---- who has the life that is of God;
C. He sympathizes with our weaknesses (v
D. He was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin (v.15b) ---- who has victorious experience in many things;
E. He sits on the throne of grace (v
F. He is ready to give us help in time of need (v.16b) ---- who enables man to fulfill the mission;
── Caleb Huang《Christian Digest Bible Commentary Series》
Translated by Mary Zhou