Hebrews 4:1-5

1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.

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.

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.

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”;

5 and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.”

remains (v.1) = left behind and still remaining — the promise of rest in the Messiah was still open to first-century Jews

us (v.1) – first-century Jews

The words “come short of” (v.1) are the translation of a verb which could be rendered either “should seem to have fallen short, should be judge to have fallen short, or, should think that he has fallen short or come too late.” The historical background and the context are decisive for the last. These persecuted Jews had expected to find the fulfillment of all promise in Messiah, including freedom from stress such as they were experiencing in the persecutions (Hebrews 10:32-34). The Old Testament Jews were taught to believe that tribulation was a mark of God’s displeasure with Israel. They did not understand that that which was a mark of God’s displeasure with His own in Old Testament times, was a mark of His blessing and a means of purging and refining the lives of saints in New Testament times. Thus, they found it hard to believe that rest was attainable in Messiah. Their professed faith was being sorely tried by the adverse circumstances in which they found themselves. Thus, they were in danger of renouncing their professed faith and of returning to the First Testament sacrifices under the stress of this persecution — Wuest, page 83.

seem (v.1) = think — in case any of them thought they had missed out on God’s promise

them (v.2) – Jews of Moses’ day

The words “the gospel was preached” (v.2) are the translation of a verb which means “to announce good news.” The character of the good news must be defined by the context. The good news which was announced to the first-century readers of this epistle was that of a spiritual rest in Messiah. The good news given to the generation which came out of Egypt was that of a temporal, physical rest in a land flowing with milk and honey, offered to a people who had been reduced to abject slavery for 400 years and who had lived on a diet of leeks, garlic and onions during that time. — Wuest, pages 83-84

gospel preached (v.2) = lit. “we have been completely good-newsed and so were they” — tense indicates an action completely accomplished in the past with persistent finished results in the present. So, the gospel was preached so thoroughly that there can be no excuse for not knowing or understanding it.

mixed (v.2) = to unite one thing to another. The promise of rest in Canaan was not united by faith to the minds of the Israelites. They didn’t make it their own.

we who have believed do enter that rest (v.3) — entering into rest is characteristic of those who believe

The meaning is, that we who have believed have entered into rest in accordance with God’s declaration to the effect that those who did not believe should not enter into rest. The point the writer makes is that faith is the condition of entering into rest. The words “although the works were finished from the foundation of the earth,” assume the reader’s acquaintance with the account of creation in Genesis. The providing of a rest is implied in the completion of God’s works. The unbelieving generation which came out of Egypt did not enter into Canaan rest, although God had provided that rest into which they might have entered. — Wuest, page 85

they shall not enter My rest (v.3, 5) = “May I be judged more if they shall enter into My rest” (Psalm 95:11).

although (v.3) = and indeed

Verse 4, taken from Genesis 2:2, states what the last clause in verse 3 referred to.

God found His rest, in regard to creation, in that in which true rest lies, namely, in the completion and perfection of His work. See Genesis 1:31; 2:1-2; and Exodus 31:17, “and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.” The seventh day was declared in this last passage to be a sign between God and Israel forever, not between Himself and the Gentiles, or between Himself and the church. The phrase connected with the church is not “from foundation …” but “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). — Vine, page 268.

in this place (v.5) — refers back to “if they shall enter into My rest” in verse 3 — emphasizing that Israel did not enter

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