Hebrews class 6, Hebrews chapter 4

These notes will be revised as needed

February 11, 2009

Tod Kennedy

Main points to emphasize in Hebrew 4

  1. We need to be alert to believe and apply God’s good news promises so that we will enter and experience the calming rest that He has for us. When we refuse to believe his good news promises we are disobedient, hardened to His word, and may get his discipline.
  2. God’s word, when read, thought about, memorized, and used in life will get to the heart of our thoughts, desires, and plans. We cannot escape it. It will rescue, comfort, encourage, change, or worry us and discipline us.
  3. God’s throne refers to His authority and seat of his power. Since he is a gracious, let’s pray to him for mercy and freely given help when we need it, such as when are tempted to disbelieve God’s word. When we pray, pray in according to His word, pray in fellowship with Him, and pray in faith.

Outline

  1. We enter or experience God’s spiritual or Christian life rest by believing and applying God’s good news promises and doctrines, which is God’s word. Failure to mix God’s word with faith—failure to believe God’s message—keeps us from spiritual rest now (4:1-11).
  2. It is dangerous to disbelieve and disobey God’s word because it will open, display, and judge whatever we think, therefore we always lose with unbelief (4:12-13).
  3. Our high priest Jesus won over every test he faced and he can sympathize with us in our test to believe or disbelieve God, so let’s go to His gracious throne for help when we are tested and need God’s spiritual rest (4:14-16).

Hebrews 4 Study

  1. We enter or experience God’s rest by believing and applying God’s good news promises and doctrines, which is God’s word. Failure to mix God’s word with faith—failure to believe God’s message—keeps us from spiritual rest now (4:1-11).
    1. Verses 1-2. Since Jesus was and is faithful to those in His service (3:1-6) and since unbelief ruins the Christian life (3:7-19) we should be fearful of failing to believe God’s good news promises and doctrines.
      1. He promised us that we can enter rest κατάπαυσις, εως, ἡ katapausis S2663. A state of rest or place of rest, calm. This word is used in Hebrews 3:11, 18; 4:1, 3, 5, 10, 11. The verb katapauo is used in Hebrews 4:4, 10.
      2. There is some disagreement about the interpretation. Some hold that the land of Canaan was Israel’s inheritance and Israel’s rest (unclaimed), and the rest in Hebrews then refers to God’s inheritance or rewards that we receive after the rapture or death and that these will be given at the judgment seat of Christ and enjoyed in the millennial kingdom.
      3. It is true that Canaan was the rest that the Hebrew people did not claim. Had they believed God, entered the land, removed the pagans, lived under the Mosaic law, and in fellowship with God they would have enjoyed rest in Canaan—peace, prosperity, blessing with God the center of the national and individual life. They did not do this and therefore did not enjoy God’s rest. While inheritance rewards may be in view, it seems that the point of this passage is believing God’s word with the result that we experience God’s kind of spiritual rest or calm because he has worked on our behalf. Psalm 37:7, 95:11, and Matthew 11:28 all demonstrate this spiritual rest.
      4. We are to be afraid of (φοβέω phobeo S5399, to be afraid, frightened, aorist passive subjuctive) not believing God’s promises and doctrines. We are to be aware and be alert to the temptations to reject what God says. Do not let unbelief conquer us. It robs us of our spiritual rest in God and God’s word.
      5. “Good news preached” is εὐαγγελίζω euangelizo, perfect middle passive participle to announce good news, to bring good news, to proclaim the gospel, S2097. The good news here is God’s promises and doctrines, probably including forgiveness, everlasting life, Christian life, and a future kingdom. The form is the present tense of the verb to be with a perfect participle. Together they form a perfect periphrastic (a round about way of saying what a simple verb could say) emphasizing the fact that the good news has been proclaimed and the readers have it.
      6. The word (good news) was not joined with faith, therefore the good news did not profit them. God’s good news plus hearing by people plus faith produces profit—rest in this passage.
    2. Verses 3-5. God said that if those who received His word did not believe (disobedience in verse 6) it, they would not enter the land of Canaan. God then did not give them his rest.
      1. God created a perfect world. He rested because it was complete and ready for mankind to enjoy. Mankind and Israel in particular rejected God’s prepared rest, so God took the rest away and disciplined the unbelieving people.
    3. Verses 6-11. The rest is still open to those who will believe God (6). This rest was offered David (7) because none of Israel before him, Joshua’s generation in particular, claimed the promised inheritance and so rest in the land (8).
      1. Verse 9. God’s people have a Sabbath kind of rest still available to God’s people (Hebrew and now also Gentile believers). Sabbath is σαββατισμός, οῦ, ὁ sabbatismos, Sabbath rest, Sabbath observance modeled after God’s rest, S4520.
      2. Verse 10 now explains the practical part of God’s rest. We rest from our work because we have done God’s will and God’s service. We believe God to now do whatever needs to be done in our lives—protection, solution to a problem, guidance, and the rewards or results of our work. Now we are calm and resting. We are believing God. Everything is in God’s care. Works in this verse is ἔργον, ου, τό, ergon, work, deeds, action, results of industry, S2041).
      3. Verse 11. Be diligent σπουδάζω spoudazo, aorist active subjunctive of exhortation, to be eagar, to be busy, to be diligent, to make every effort, S4704. The writer exhorts believers to make every conscious effort to enter God’s rest. He says believe God’s promises and doctrines. On the negative side, do not be disobedient by unbelief like the many generations of Israelites.
    4. We do not want to miss the point that this section is also about service to God. It is not just believing Romans 8:28 when a problem arises. Works or Christian life living is one of the underlying themes of this entire section. These works are done trusting God to work through us.
  2. It is dangerous to disbelieve and disobey God’s word because it will open, display, and judge whatever we think, therefore we always lose with unbelief (4:12-13).
    1. The word of God (ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ, ho logos tou theou) is living and active. It works in our lives just like a person inside us correcting us, reminding us, convicting us, and encouraging us. It does it better than a two edged sword (sword, μάχαιρα, ης, ἡ machaira, a short sword or dagger, S3162). This sword is able to separate good and bad motivations, good and bad emotions, true and false ideas, and anything hidden from others and even from ourselves. God’s word is the sharp two-edged dagger that cuts out the bad and cleans up the good in our lives. Nothing escapes God. He uses His sword on us for our benefit and for his service.
  3. Our high priest Jesus won over every test he faced and he can sympathize with us in our test to believe or disbelieve God, so let’s go to His gracious throne for help to gain the rest (4:14-16).
    1. Verse 14. Jesus is the one who represents believers before the Father. Jesus as our high priest has been in Hebrews 2:17, 3:1, 4:14 and15 so far in our study. Jesus is now at the right hand of the Father. There He represents us. That should encourage us to hold to our confession confession (ὁμολογία, ας, ἡ homologia, our statement of allegiance or acknowledgement of what we believe S3671). Do not waver in our understanding and faith in Jesus and His priesthood.
    2. Verse 15. Jesus went through many temptations and never failed. He is without sin: no sin nature and no personal sin. He can sympathize with us (συμπαθέω, aorist active infinitive, sumpatheo, to have or to show sympathy, S4834). This word explains or clarifies “cannot” not able.
    3. Verse 16. Finally, in view of our great high priest we should draw near and pray. Draw near is προσέρχομαι, proserchomai, to come near, to approach, present middle subjunctive encouraging us to do so, S4334). When we draw near he provides mercy and grace to help us when we need help. Throne of grace means that God’s throne is characterized by grace or free favor for his people. Grace is a descriptive genitive (χάρις, ιτος, ἡ charis S5485).

End of Hebrews 4 study