|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:1-10 The privileges we have under the gospel, are greater than any had under the law of Moses, though the same gospel for substance was preached under both Testaments. There have been in all ages many unprofitable hearers; and unbelief is at the root of all unfruitfulness under the word. Faith in the hearer is the life of the word. But it is a painful consequence of partial neglect, and of a loose and wavering profession, that they often cause men to seem to come short. Let us then give diligence, that we may have a clear entrance into the kingdom of God. As God finished his work, and then rested from it, so he will cause those who believe, to finish their work, and then to enjoy their rest. It is evident, that there is a more spiritual and excellent sabbath remaining for the people of God, than that of the seventh day, or that into which Joshua led the Jews. This rest is, a rest of grace, and comfort, and holiness, in the gospel state. And a rest in glory, where the people of God shall enjoy the end of their faith, and the object of all their desires. The rest, or sabbatism, which is the subject of the apostle's reasoning, and as to which he concludes that it remains to be enjoyed, is undoubtedly the heavenly rest, which remains to the people of God, and is opposed to a state of labour and trouble in this world. It is the rest they shall obtain when the Lord Jesus shall appear from heaven. But those who do not believe, shall never enter into this spiritual rest, either of grace here or glory hereafter. God has always declared man's rest to be in him, and his love to be the only real happiness of the soul; and faith in his promises, through his Son, to be the only way of entering that rest.
Verse 10. - For he that is entered into his rest (God's, as before) hath himself also rested from his works, as from his own God. There are two ways of understanding this verse. Its general intention is, indeed, clear. It accounts for the use of the word σαββατισμὸς which precedes, expressing that the true meaning of "God's rest" is not satisfied by any earthly rest, but only by one like his. The question is whether the verse is to be taken as a general proposition or as referring specifically to Christ. In favor of the latter view is the aorist κατέπαυσεν. The literal translation would be "He that entered... himself also rested." Ebrard, on this ground, strenuously defends the reference to Christ; and also on the ground of parallelism with Hebrews 2:9 in the first division of the general argument. In the first division (Hebrews 2.) the course of thought was - Dominion over creation has been assigned to man: man has not attained it: Jesus has; and in Jesus man fulfils his destiny. In this second division the corresponding course of drought is - God's rest has been offered to man: man has not attained it: Jesus has; and in Jesus man may enter it. And thus (as has been explained above) the conclusion that Jesus is the High Priest of humanity is led up to by two parallel lines of argument. But the third of the propositions of the second line of argument (corresponding to Hebrews 2:9 in the first) is not distinctly expressed unless it be in the verse before us; and therefore this verse, on this ground as well as that of the use of the aorist, is taken to refer to Christ. On the other hand, it is argued (Bleek, Do Wette, Delitzsch, etc.) that, if a specific reference to Christ had been intended, he would have been mentioned, so as to make the meaning clear; and secondly, that the aorist κατέπαυσε is legitimate, though the proposition be a general one. Delitzsch explains it thus: "The author might have written καταπαύει or (more classically) καταπέπαυται: but he has taken up into the main proposition the κατέπαυσεν, which properly belongs (according to Genesis 2:2) to the clause of comparison: whosoever has entered God's rest, of him the 'κατέπαυσεν ἀπὸ τῶν ἔργων αὑτοῦ holds good in the same manner as of God." And, further, it is to be observed that the Greek aorist may sometimes be put for the present, "to express an action completely determined, every doubt as to its truth and unalterableness being removed" (Matthiae, 'Gr. Gram.,' § 506). In this instance the idea might be - he that has entered into God's rest rested, when he so entered, from all his works, etc. On the whole, it appears that specific reference to Christ is not apparent from the immediate context, or required by the mere language used. Still, in consideration of the general argument, we may take the writer to have meant his readers to understand that it was Christ who had so entered the rest of God, so as to lead God's people into it. That this is so appears from ver. 14, Ἔχοντες οῦν ἀρχιερέα μέγαν διελη;υθότα τοὺς οὐρανοὺς, which seems to require that preceding link of thought. - Among man's deepest feelings is a longing for rest. Haply in the freshness and ardor of early life not deeply felt, it recurs from time to time, and grows stronger with advancing years. Nothing in life fully satisfies this longing. Labors, distresses, disappointments, anxieties, never allow the desired repose. Few there are whose hearts have not sometimes echoed the psalmist's words, "Oh that I had wings like a dove! For then would I flee away, and be at rest!" Many since Job have felt something of his longing to be where "the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest." Is there to be no satisfaction ever of this deep human craving? Holy Scripture meets it as it meets all others. It spoke of a rest of God above creation from the beginning of time; it intimated man's part and interest in it by the weekly sabbath which he was to keep with God. But this was, after all, but a symbol and earnest of something unattained. At length a fuller realization of the longed-for rest was held out to the chosen people, and the Promised Land was pictured beforehand in the colors of an earthly Paradise. Forfeited, when first offered, through the people's unworthiness (representing by an historical parable the bar to man's entrance into the eternal rest), it was attained at last. But the true rest still came not. Canaan, like the sabbath, proved but a symbol of something unattained. Yet the old longing for rest went on, and inspired men went on proclaiming it as attainable and still to come. The irrepressible craving, the suggestive symbols, the prophetic anticipations, are all fulfilled in Christ. He, when he had passed with us through this earthly scene of labor, entered, with our nature, into that eternal rest of God, to prepare a place for us, having by his atonement removed the bar to human entrance. Through our faith in him we are assured that our deep-seated craving for satisfaction unattained as yet, which we express by the term "rest," is a true inward prophecy, and that, though we find it not here, we may through him, if we are faithful, confidently expect it there, where "beyond these voices there is peace." There now follows (vers. 11-14) a renewal of the warning of Hebrews 3:7-4:1, urged now with increased force in view of the danger of slighting such a revelation as the gospel has been shown to be; after which (ver. 14, etc.) come words of encouragement, based on the view, now a second time arrived at, of Christ being our great High Priest. And thus the exposition of his priesthood, which follows in Hebrews 5, is led up to.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For he that is entered into his rest, &c. This is to be understood not of believers, nor of their entrance into the Gospel rest, or into eternal rest, but of the Lord Jesus Christ; for a single person is only spoken of, and not many, as in Hebrews 4:3 and the rest entered into is his own, which cannot be said of any other; and besides, a comparison is run between his entrance into rest, and ceasing from his works, and God's resting the seventh day, and ceasing from his, which can only agree with him; and besides, Christ is immediately spoken of, and at large described in Hebrews 4:12. Now he entered into his rest, not when he was laid in the grave, but when he rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God, as having done his work; and this is the ground and foundation of the saints' rest under the Gospel dispensation; for these words are a reason of the former, as appears by the causal particle "for": and now being at rest,
he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his; Christ had works to do, as preaching the Gospel, performing miracles, and obtaining the redemption and salvation of his people: these were given him to do, and he undertook them, and he has finished them; and so ceases from them, as never to repeat them more; they being done effectually, stand in no need of it; and so as to take delight and complacency in them; the pleasure of the Lord prospering in, his hand, the effects of his labour answering his designs; just as God ceased from the works of creation, when he had finished them.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
10. For—justifying and explaining the word "rest," or "Sabbatism," just used (see on Heb 4:9).
he that is entered—whosoever once enters.
his rest—God's rest: the rest prepared by God for His people [Estius]. Rather, "His rest": the man's rest: that assigned to him by God as his. The Greek is the same as that for "his own" immediately after.
hath ceased—The Greek aorist is used of indefinite time, "is wont to cease," or rather, "rest": rests. The past tense implies at the same time the certainty of it, as also that in this life a kind of foretaste in Christ is already given [Grotius] (Jer 6:16; Mt 11:28, 29). Our highest happiness shall, according to this verse, consist in our being united in one with God, and moulded into conformity with Him as our archetype [Calvin].
from his own works—even from those that were good and suitable to the time of doing work. Labor was followed by rest even in Paradise (Ge 2:3, 15). The work and subsequent rest of God are the archetype to which we should be conformed. The argument is: He who once enters rest, rests from labors; but God's people have not yet rested from them, therefore they have not yet entered the rest, and so it must be still future. Alford translates, "He that entered into his (or else God's, but rather 'his'; Isa 11:10, 'His rest': 'the joy of the Lord,' Mt 25:21, 23) rest (namely, Jesus, our Forerunner, Heb 4:14; 6:20, 'The Son of God that is passed through the heavens': in contrast to Joshua the type, who did not bring God's people into the heavenly rest), he himself (emphatical) rested from his works (Heb 4:4), as God (did) from His own" (so the Greek, "works"). The argument, though generally applying to anyone who has entered his rest, probably alludes to Jesus in particular, the antitypical Joshua, who, having entered His rest at the Ascension, has ceased or rested from His work of the new creation, as God on the seventh day rested from the work of physical creation. Not that He has ceased to carry on the work of redemption, nay, He upholds it by His mediation; but He has ceased from those portions of the work which constitute the foundation; the sacrifice has been once for all accomplished. Compare as to God's creation rest, once for all completed, and rested from, but now still upheld (see on Heb 4:4).
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