Hebrews 4:16
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
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(16) Obtain mercy.—The real meaning is, receive compassion (Hebrews 2:17) in our weakness and trials. The thought of obtaining mercy for guilt is not in these words, taken by themselves; but “grace” meets every need. If the last verse brought evidence that our High Priest has perfect knowledge of the help required, this gives the assurance that the help shall be given as needed, and in the time of need.



Hebrews 4:16IN the context are three great exhortations which bear a very remarkable and distinct relation to each other: ‘Let us labour to enter into rest’; ‘Let us hold fast our profession’; Let us come boldly to the throne of grace.

It is a hard thing to labour to enter into rest. How is it to be done? The second exhortation helps us to answer, ‘Let us hold fast our profession,’ which being translated into other words, is this: our true way of labour is to cling in faith to Him whom we acknowledge; but knowing the weakness of our own hearts, and how they waywardly fluctuate and pass away from the one confidence and happiest trust, it is with profound wisdom that the ultimate injunction is held out for the foundation of all - ‘Let us come to the throne of grace.’ There we get the strength that will enable our slack and benumbed fingers to grasp again the thing we hold. There we shall get that fresh grip of Christ which will quicken us for the labour of entering into rest. And so this portion of exhortation interposed between the doctrinal and theological parts of this letter is addressed to every one in the Christian profession. I ask you, then, to look at this exhortation, which covers the whole ground of Christian duty and strength.

Now, first, here is a very remarkable and beautiful expression - ‘the throne of grace.’ Grace, of course, as I do not need to explain, is the New Testament word for the undeserved favour and loving regard of God to man considered as weak, sinful, and unworthy; it is love which has its own motive, apart from any regard to worthiness in the object upon which it falls. Grace is its own real impulse and motive, and grace is set in Scripture as the opposite of desert; it is of grace, not of works, and so forth. It is set as the antagonist of sin and unrighteousness and all evil, and so runs up to the idea that it expresses the unmerited, self-originated, loving regard of God to us poor miserable creatures, who, if dealt with on the ground of right and retribution, would receive something very different indeed. But my text says the throne of grace is the throne of God. I wonder if it is too picturesque to take that word grace here as a kind of synonym of God? Think of the figure that was in the writer’s mind, as being that grace itself was the occupant of the throne, that there she sits, regal, sovereign, enthroned in the heart of the universe, queen of all things, and giving from her full and generous hand to every creature all that which the creature requires. And then if we take the more prosaic notion - which perhaps is the safer one - and think that the metaphor is not that grace is queen and sovereign, but only that the throne is based and established, as it were, in grace, out of which this undeserved love flows in broad, full streams. Even if we take the metaphor thus, we come to the same thought, that whatever else there may he in the divine nature, the ruling sovereign element in Deity is unmerited love and mercy and kindly regard to us poor, ignorant, sinful creatures, which keeps pouring itself out over all the world. God is King, and the kingly thing in God is infinite grace.

Then we can scarcely but bring into connection with this grand idea the other phases which the Old Testament gives to the same thought. Read such words as these: - ‘Justice and judgment are the habitation of His throne’ - ‘God sitteth on the throne of His holiness’ - ‘The throne of Thy glory.’ Yes, the throne of justice and of judgment. White and sparkling - cold and repellent. The throne of glory - flashing and dazzling, coruscating and blinding, glittering and shimmering - ready to smite the diseased eye. The throne of Thy holiness. Yes, lofty, far up there, towering above us in its pure completeness, and we poor creatures, being ourselves blinded and dazed, and far away from Him, down amidst the lowlands and materialities, and all that majesty in the heavens - the justice and judgment, the holiness and glory - all that is only the envelope and wrappage, the living centre and heart of it is a pure, lambent glow of tenderness, and the throne is truly the throne of grace. The ‘throne’ gives us all ideas of majesty, sovereignty, dominion, infinitude, greatness. The thought that it is ‘the throne of grace’ sheathes all these in the softest, tenderest, most blessed folds of love - unmerited, free, spontaneous - simply because He is God, and not on account of any goodness in us. Bearing in mind this great conception of true love, ruling, dominant, the sovereign element in the divine nature, let us ask, How do we reach it? Are we warranted in believing it? Read the verses that come before: ‘For we have not a High Priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.’ Turn that doctrinal statement into a statement of principle and it just comes to this: that our certitude that God’s throne is a throne of love and grace, is all involved in, dependent upon, and built upon, the work of Christ, the High Priest of our profession. That is to say, not ‘thank God’ that His work makes God’s throne a throne of grace - that is not the teaching of the Scripture - but that He, as High Priest, and, therefore, as the revealer to us of God as He is, shows us in His life and death, in the gentleness of His character, in the tenderness of His compassion, in the depth of His sympathy on earth, in the tenderness that touched the little children in their innocence and the harlots in their filth, and in the death He died upon the Cross for the sake of the world - the very heart of God is cut open, as it were, and the two halves fall apart as when we cut some rich fruit to lay hare the inmost pulp. God is manifested to us, God declares Himself to us, in the sympathy of the humanity, in the life, in the death upon the Cross; and the Priest, in His sacrifice, and by His sacrifice, shows us that between the cherubim throned above the mercy-seat shimmers the Shekinah of power, with its white centre of love and peace. And then, on the other side, that same great thought of the priesthood of Christ influences this conception of the throne of God in another fashion still; for, as it seems to me, there is no understanding of the depth and meaning of the work of Jesus Christ, our Lord, unless we heartily accept this, that His great sacrifice for us, in which mainly He is the Priest of our profession, is the means and channel and medium and condition through which all the love of God expresses itself to the world, and has communicated to sinful man all His goodness and all His pity and His tenderness, supplying all our necessities, and is all things to us through Christ our Lord. Seen through Him the throne is white with tenderness; flowing through Him from the throne proceeds the river of the water of life, and so, in both ways, the throne of grace is such by reason of the priesthood of Christ.

Look for a moment, in the next place, at the temper and disposition with which we come to this throne. ‘Let us come boldly.’ Now boldly is a somewhat incongruous word; it neither conveys the original, nor does it correspond to our sense of propriety. The thought would be far more beautiful and far more naturally represented by a more literal translation - ‘Let us come with frank confidence’ to the throne of grace. The word literally means, if we go to the etymology of it, speaking everything. You can easily understand how naturally that becomes an expression for the unembarrassed, unrestrained full out-pouring of a heart. You cannot pour out your heart in the fullest confidence to a person you do not respect, but if you get with some one you entirely trust, how swiftly the words flow. and how very easy it is to tell out the whole heart. Just so with this great word of the writer of this Epistle, descriptive of the temper and disposition with which men are to go to God - with confidence, full, cheerful, and unembarrassed, and which expresses itself in full trust, exactly as one of the old Psalms says - ‘Ye people, pour out your heart before Him.’ Yes, let it all flow out, just as you would do to husband or wife, or lover, or friend, or the chosen companion to whom we can tell everything. Ah, but there is no such person - there is nobody, not a soul, could stand the turning inside out of a man! There is no one able to do it to another, even supposing the other could bear it! But my text says ‘come,’ and is so gentle in its love, so strong in its grace, sweetly wooing us to the freest and frankest outpourings of all our hearts before the throne. Let us then come with confidence, because Jesus’ work as our High Priest is in the writer’s mind. You remember the vision in the Revelation where the seer beholds the angel coming with a censer, and he takes incense from off the golden altar, and he goes on to say, that this much incense was offered in the censer with prayers of saints. That is a picturesque and graphic representation of this same idea; my poor cry, the devotions of my trembling, unfaithful heart, the halting, limping approach of my sluggish spirit, these go along with, and are offered through, that Great High Priest.

‘Let the much incense of Thy prayer On my behalf ascend.’

Truly we have a loving High Priest; let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace. Let us not use as a mere empty form those words ‘for Christ’s sake,’ but let us remember that these words do hold the very secret of all acceptable approach to God, and that’ no man cometh to the Father but by Me. There is reason enough, God knows, in your heart and mine, and in our poor, miserable, wretched, conventional, formal chatterings called prayers, for diffidence and distrust. Well, then, let us fully look that fact in the face, entertain untremblingly the fullest consciousness of the insufficiency and unworthiness of all we do, and all we are, and all we feel, and all we seek, and then wrenching ourselves away as it were from the contemplation of our own selves, which only land us in diffidence and despair, let us turn to Him, that we may have boldness and confidence in our access to the feet of Him who is our Great High Priest, passed into the heavens, and who now sits on the ‘throne of grace.’

And now, lastly, a word about the issue and result of this confidence of access to the throne of grace, the throne of spontaneous love. ‘That we may obtain mercy,’ says the writer, ‘and find grace to help in time of need.’ It is noteworthy, I think, to consider that the writer here is evidently thinking, not about a communion with God which is not prayer, but a communion with God which, on our side, is the lifting up of an empty hand, and on His side the bestowing a large, full gift. There is no fellowship with God possible on the footing of what people call ‘disinterested communion.’ No, we have always to go to Him to get something from Him. The question is, What do we expect to get? My text tells us, not the temporal blessings, not the answers to foolish desires, not the taking away of thorns in the flesh, but mercy and grace to help - inward and spiritual blessings. But what are these? Well, I don’t know whether it is too nice or too microscopic criticism to say that I seem to see a difference between obtaining mercy and finding grace. I take it grace is used in what I call its secondary sense, not meaning so much the love of God unmerited, but rather signifying the consequences of that love in the gifts bestowed upon us, and you know that is a usage of the word common in the New Testament, thus making the word into a plural, ‘graces’ - the manifold gifts that love bestows upon us. So that, I take it, this word is here used in the secondary sense, and if that be so, we may shape a difference between the two phrases, ‘obtaining mercy’ and ‘finding grace.’

I do not think I can put that better than by using a metaphor. The one expresses the heart of God, the other expresses the hand of God. We may obtain mercy as a suppliant coming boldly, confidently, frankly, with faith in the Great High Priest, to the throne of grace. There we get the full heart of God. I stand before Him in my filth, in my weakness, with conscience gnawing at me in the sense of many infirmities, many a sin and shortcoming and omission, and on the throne, if I may so say, is a shoot of tender love from God’s heart to me, and I get for all my weakness and sin pity and pardon, and find mercy of the Lord in that day. And then in getting the full heart of God, with all its divine abundance and pardoning grace and tender, gracious pity, I get, of course, the full hand of God to obtain mercy, and find grace, the bestowment of the needful blessings, the obtaining of grace in time of need, the right grace No blunders in the equipment with which He supplies us. He does not give me the parcel that was meant for you; there is no error in the delivery. He does not send His soldiers to the North Pole equipped for warfare in Africa. He does not give this man a blessing that the man’s circumstances would not require. No, no; blessed be God, He cannot err. We fall back upon the words that precede my text, ‘And there is no creature concealed from His sight, for all things are naked, and open to the eyes Of Him to whom we must give an account.’ That may be, and is terrible, unless we take it along with the other word, ‘We have not a High Priest who cannot sympathise with our weakness.’ We see a divine omniscience shining upon us through the merits of the great High Priest, full of light and hope, and because all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him who is our High Priest; therefore the right grace will be most surely given to me to help me in time of need, or, as the words may perhaps be more vigorously and correctly translated, find grace for timely aid, grace punctually and precisely at the very nick of time, at the very exact time determined by heaven’s chronometer, not by ours. It will not come as quickly as impatience might think it ought, it will not come so soon as to prevent an agony of prayer, it will not come in time enough for our impatience, for murmuring, for presumptuous desires; but it will come in time to do all that is needed. Ah, and it will come before Peter has gone below the water, though not until Peter has felt the cold waves rise to his knees, and has cried out, ‘Lord, save me, I perish.’ ‘Master, he whom Thou lovest is sick,’ and He abode still two days in the same place where He was, and when He came, ‘Lord, if Thou hadst been here my brother had not died.’ ‘Said I not unto thee, that if thou didst believe thou shouldest see the glory of God.’ ‘God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved, the Lord shall help her, and that right early.’ You remember the narrative of that great final battle on the plains of Waterloo. For long weary days brave men died by the thousands - the afternoon of the last day was wearing rapidly away, the thin red living line getting thinner and thinner, the squares smaller and smaller at each returning charge - but at last, just before the daylight faded, just before endurance could do no more, there comes old Blucher at last and gives the order, and the whole line bore down upon the enemy and scattered them. Ah, help came at the right time, not so soon but that the courage of our brave soldiers had been tested, but before despair had settled upon the ranks, and in time for a great and perfect victory. Oh, my friends, ‘Let us come boldly to the Throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace for every time of need.’

Through waves and clouds and storms

He gently clears thy way;

Wait thou His time - thy darkest night

Shall end in brightest day.’

Hebrews 4:16. Let us therefore come boldly — Without any doubt or fear, trusting in his sacrifice and intercession for acceptance; unto the throne of grace — The throne of our reconciled Father, which grace erected, and where it reigns and dispenses all blessings in a way of unmerited favour; that we may obtain mercy — To pardon all our past sins, and compassionate our condition, amidst our various infirmities and sufferings; and find grace to help in time of need — Or, for a seasonable help; according to our respective necessities, as εις ευκαιρον βοηθειαν implies. The latter word properly signifies help obtained in consequence of crying aloud, or strong crying for it. Observe, reader, though every time may be properly termed a time of need, in which we want supplies of grace, yet some times are peculiarly such: as seasons of affliction, of persecution, and temptation; or times when God, to chastise us for our lukewarmness and sloth, our hypocrisy and formality, or pride, self-will, discontent, or impatience; our neglect of prayer and watchfulness, our levity and folly, or any other fault or failing, withdraws his presence from us: or when we are called to the performance of any great and signal duty, as it was with Abraham when he was called first to leave his country, and afterward to sacrifice his son: or to something that is new, and in which we are yet inexperienced; a duty against which there is great opposition, or for which we may seem to be very unfit, or in which the glory of God is in an especial manner concerned. And, above all, the time of death will be such a season. To part with all present things and present hopes, to give up one’s departing soul, entering the invisible world, an unchangeable eternity, into the hands of our sovereign Lord, are duties which require strength beyond our own, for their right and comfortable performance. And at such seasons, as we have peculiar need to make application to the throne of grace, here spoken of, for the purpose of obtaining seasonable help; so, if we apply in faith, and with sincere and earnest desire and persevering diligence, we shall not apply in vain.

4:11-16 Observe the end proposed: rest spiritual and eternal; the rest of grace here, and glory hereafter; in Christ on earth, with Christ in heaven. After due and diligent labour, sweet and satisfying rest shall follow; and labour now, will make that rest more pleasant when it comes. Let us labour, and quicken each other to be diligent in duty. The Holy Scriptures are the word of God. When God sets it home by his Spirit, it convinces powerfully, converts powerfully, and comforts powerfully. It makes a soul that has long been proud, to be humble; and a perverse spirit, to be meek and obedient. Sinful habits, that are become as it were natural to the soul, and rooted deeply in it, are separated and cut off by this sword. It will discover to men their thoughts and purposes, the vileness of many, the bad principles they are moved by, the sinful ends they act to. The word will show the sinner all that is in his heart. Let us hold fast the doctrines of Christian faith in our heads, its enlivening principles in our hearts, the open profession of it in our lips, and be subject to it in our lives. Christ executed one part of his priesthood on earth, in dying for us; the other he executes in heaven, pleading the cause, and presenting the offerings of his people. In the sight of Infinite Wisdom, it was needful that the Saviour of men should be one who has the fellow-feeling which no being but a fellow-creature could possibly have; and therefore it was necessary he should actual experience of all the effects of sin that could be separated from its actual guilt. God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, Ro 8:3; but the more holy and pure he was, the more he must have been unwilling in his nature to sin, and must have had deeper impression of its evil; consequently the more must he be concerned to deliver his people from its guilt and power. We should encourage ourselves by the excellence of our High Priest, to come boldly to the throne of grace. Mercy and grace are the things we want; mercy to pardon all our sins, and grace to purify our souls. Besides our daily dependence upon God for present supplies, there are seasons for which we should provide in our prayers; times of temptation, either by adversity or prosperity, and especially our dying time. We are to come with reverence and godly fear, yet not as if dragged to the seat of justice, but as kindly invited to the mercy-seat, where grace reigns. We have boldness to enter into the holiest only by the blood of Jesus; he is our Advocate, and has purchased all our souls want or can desire.Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace - "The throne of grace!" What a beautiful expression. A throne is the seat of a sovereign; a throne of grace is designed to represent a sovereign seated to dispense mercy and pardon. The illustration or comparison here may have been derived from the temple service. In that service God is represented as seated in the most holy place on the mercy seat. The high priest approaches that seat or throne of the divine majesty with the blood of the atonement to make intercession for the people, and to plead for pardon; see the notes on Hebrews 9:7-8. That scene was emblematic of heaven. God is seated on a throne of mercy. The great High Priest of the Christian calling, having shed his own blood to make expiation, is represented as approaching, God and pleading for the pardon of people. To a God willing to show mercy he comes with the merits of a sacrifice sufficient for all, and pleads for their salvation. We may, therefore, come with boldness and look for pardon. We come not depending on our own merits, but we come where a sufficient sacrifice has been offered for human guilt; and where we are assured that God is merciful. We may, therefore, come without hesitancy, or trembling, and ask for all the mercy that we need.

That we may obtain mercy - This is what we want first. We need pardon - as the first thing when we come to God. We are guilty and self-condemned - and our first cry should be for "mercy" - "mercy." A man who comes to God not feeling his need of mercy must fail of obtaining the divine favor; and he will be best prepared to obtain that favor who has the deepest sense of his need of forgiveness.

And find grace - Favor - strength, help, counsel, direction, support, for the various duties and trials of life. This is what we next need - we all need - we always need. Even when pardoned, we need grace to keep us from sin, to aid us in duty, to preserve us in the day of temptation. And feeling our need of this, we may come and ask of God "all" that we want for this purpose. Such is the assurance given us; and to this bold approach to the throne of grace all are freely invited. In view of it, let us,

(1) Rejoice that there "is" a throne of grace. What a world would this be if God sat on a throne of "justice" only, and if no mercy were ever to be shown to people! Who is there who would not be overwhelmed with despair? But it is not so. He is on a throne of grace. By day and by night; from year to year; from generation to generation; he is on such a throne. In every land he may be approached, and in as many different languages as people speak, may they plead for mercy. In all times of our trial and temptation we may be assured that he is seated on that throne, and wherever we are, we may approach him with acceptance.

(2) we "need" the privilege of coming before such a throne. We are sinful - and need mercy; we are feeble, and need grace to help us. There is not a day of our lives in which we do not need pardon; not an hour in which we do not need grace.

(3) how obvious are the propriety and necessity of prayer! Every man is a sinner - and should pray for pardon; every man is weak, feeble, dependent, and should pray for grace. Not until a man can prove that he has never done any sin, should he maintain that he has no need of pardon; not until he can show that he is able alone to meet the storms and temptations of life, should he feel that he has no need to ask for grace. Yet who can feel this? And how strange it is that all people do not pray!

(4) it is easy to be forgiven. All that needs to be done is to plead the merits of our Great High Priest, and God is ready to pardon. Who would not be glad to be able to pay a debt in a manner so easy? Yet how few there are who are willing to pay the debt to justice thus!

(5) it is easy to obtain all the grace that we need. We have only to "ask for it" - and it is done. How easy then to meet temptation if we would! How strange that any should rely on their own strength, when they may lean on the arm of God!

(6) if people are not pardoned, and if they fall into sin and ruin, they alone are to blame. There is a throne of grace. It is always accessible. There is A God. He is always ready to pardon. There is A Redeemer. He is the Great High Priest of people. He is always interceding. His merits may always be pleaded as the ground of our salvation. Why then, O why, should any remain unforgiven and perish? On them alone the blame must lie. In their own bosoms is the reason why they are not saved.

16. come—rather as Greek, "approach," "draw near."

boldly—Greek, "with confidence," or "freedom of speech" (Eph 6:19).

the throne of grace—God's throne is become to us a throne of grace through the mediation of our High Priest at God's right hand (Heb 8:1; 12:2). Pleading our High Priest Jesus' meritorious death, we shall always find God on a throne of grace. Contrast Job's complaint (Job 23:3-8) and Elihu's " If," &c. (Job 33:23-28).

obtain—rather, "receive."

mercy—"Compassion," by its derivation (literally, fellow feeling from community of suffering), corresponds to the character of our High Priest "touched with the feeling of our infirmities" (Heb 4:15).

find grace—corresponding to "throne of grace." Mercy especially refers to the remission and removal of sins; grace, to the saving bestowal of spiritual gifts [Estius]. Compare "Come unto Me … and I will give you rest (the rest received on first believing). Take My yoke on you … and ye shall find rest (the continuing rest and peace found in daily submitting to Christ's easy yoke; the former answers to "receive mercy" here; the latter, to "find grace," Mt 11:28, 29).

in time of need—Greek, "seasonably." Before we are overwhelmed by the temptation; when we most need it, in temptations and persecutions; such as is suitable to the time, persons, and end designed (Ps 104:27). A supply of grace is in store for believers against all exigencies; but they are only supplied with it according as the need arises. Compare "in due time," Ro 5:6. Not, as Alford explains, "help in time," that is, to-day, while it is yet open to us; the accepted time (2Co 6:2).

help—Compare Heb 2:18, "He is able to succor them that are tempted."

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace: since our High Priest hath a sense of our infirmities, hath experienced our trials, and no sin is in him to shut up his bowels of compassion, therefore haste we to him, as those who desire to reach favours from our Sovereign, as our poor, guilty, needy souls want them. It is a soul-motion by faith and love, breathed forth in strong cries to his God and Father and ours, constantly approaching God in every duty by him: compare Hebrews 10:19-22; and that with open face, boldness, and assurance, without any shame or dismay, coming in the name and with the person of our great High Priest, who takes our duties and persons, and presents them, perfumed with the incense of his merits, to him. Away now with all unbelief, doubtings, or fears in our approach to him; admission to him, and hearing by him, is now certain unto the believer, Romans 5:1,2 Eph 2:18 3:12 1Jo 3:21,22 5:14,15. For his throne, now the Father is propitiated by him, is from a throne of strict justice made a throne of grace, of which the propitiatory seat over the ark of the covenant in the holy of holiest, both in the tabernacle and temple, was a type. All the terror and dread of it is now done away by Christ. Thunderings, and lightnings, and voices, and the sound of a trumpet are now ceased; the still voice of pardon, peace, purging and saving sinners, proceeds from it; grace in reference to believers, sits in all its glory, and majesty, and power only, Revelation 5:1,6,13; compare Hebrews 8:1 12:2 Ephesians 1:20. Christ now takes us by the hand, brings us thither, and pleads by his own blood for us, so as we may approach to it with greatest confidence.

That we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need; that we may actually partake of the fruits of Christ’s purchase and intercession from the Father of mercy; pity suitable to our misery, pardon for our guilty souls, and relief for us under all our afflictions, Isaiah 63:7-9, and all grace necessary for us at all times for a seasonable help, but especially in times of greatest need. It is most opportune, when most helpful: when infirmities, afflictions, temptations, and the snares of sin, beset us with grievous persecutions, then may we by prayer, through our High Priest, have recourse to this throne of grace for our suitable and sufficient supply, without which there is no holding fast our profession, or possibility of entrance into God’s rest.

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace,.... Either to Christ, who is before spoken of as an high priest, and who was typified by the mercy seat, to which there seems to be an allusion; and coming to him as a priest upon his throne is very proper: to him saints come for pardon and cleansing, and for a justifying righteousness, for the acceptance of their persons, and the presentation of their services, and for every supply of grace; and to him they may come "boldly", since he stands in the relations of a Father, husband, and brother, and from him they may expect receive mercy, since it is kept for him, and with him, and is only dispensed through him; and in him they may hope to find grace, since all fulness of it dwells in him; and help in every time of need, since their help is laid on him. Or else to God the Father, since Christ, the high priest, is the way of access to God, and it is by him the saints come unto the Father; who is represented as on a "throne", to show his majesty, and to command reverence; and as on a "throne of grace", to encourage distressed souls to come unto him; and to express his sovereignty in the distribution of his grace: and this coming to him is a sacerdotal act, for every believer is a priest; and is not local, but spiritual, and with the heart, and by faith; and chiefly regards the duty of prayer, and a drawing nigh to God in that ordinance with spiritual sacrifices to offer unto him: and this may be done "boldly"; or "with freedom of speech"; speaking out plainly all that is in the heart, using an holy courage and intrepidity of mind, free from servile fear, and a bashful spirit; all which requires an heart sprinkled from an evil conscience, faith, in the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ, a view of God, as a God of peace, grace, and mercy, and a holy confidence of being heard by him; and such a spirit and behaviour at the throne of grace are very consistent with reverence of the divine Majesty, with submission to his will, and with that humility which becomes saints. The Jews often speak of , "a throne of judgment", and , "a throne of mercy" (u); and represent God as sitting upon one or other of these, when he is dispensing justice or mercy (w); and the latter they sometimes call, as here, , "a throne of grace and mercy" (x): and so they make the first man Adam to pray to God after this manner (y);

"let my prayer come before the throne of thy glory, and let my cry come before , "the throne of thy mercy".''

The end of coming hither is,

that we may obtain mercy; the sure mercies of David, the blessings of the everlasting covenant; particularly pardoning mercy, and the fresh application of it, and every other blessing of grace that is needful: and there is reason to expect it, since there is mercy with God; and it is with Christ, as the head of the covenant; and it is ready for those that ask it; and it has been obtained by many, and is everlasting.

And find grace to help in time of need; the Syriac version renders it, "in time of affliction"; which is a time of need, as every time of distress is, whether from the immediate hand of God, or through the persecutions of men, or the temptations of Satan: and help at such times may be expected; since not only God is able to help, but he has promised it; and he has laid help on Christ; and gives it seasonably, and at the best time; and it springs from grace, yea, it is grace that does help; by which may be meant, the discoveries of God's love, and the supplies of grace from Christ: which may be hoped for, seeing God is the God of all grace; and he is seated on a throne of grace; and all fulness of grace dwells in Christ: to find grace often, signifies to find favour with God, to be accepted by him, as well as to receive grace from him.

(u) Targum in Psal. xxix. 10. T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 3. 2. Zohar in Gen. fol. 38. 3. & in Numb. fol. 91. 2. & 93. 2.((w) Megillat Esther, fol. 95. 1.((x) Raziel, fol. 32. 1.((y) lbid. fol. 3. 1.

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16. Encouragement, derived from the character of the High Priest of the New Testament, as brought into relief, Hebrews 4:15.

προσέρχεσθαι] approach, draw near, in order to have community with something. Comp. Hebrews 7:25, Hebrews 10:1; Hebrews 10:22, Hebrews 11:6, Hebrews 12:18; Hebrews 12:22. Too specially Delitzsch, Kurtz, and Ewald, who explain: drawing near in prayer for aid or succour.

μετὰ παῤῥησίας] with confidence, (Hebrews 3:6), inasmuch as we possess, in the very office of intercessor, a High Priest who is not only exalted, but also full of sympathy, who thus has not only the power, but also the will to help.

θρόνος τῆς χάριτος] not: Christ Himself (Gerhard, S. Schmidt, Carpzov, Ernesti, al.), not: the throne of Christ (Primasius [also Tena, arguing from the Vulgate of Hebrews 2:9], Schlichting, Limborch, Chr. Fr. Schmid, al.), but the throne of God, at whose right hand Christ is seated. Comp. Hebrews 8:1, Hebrews 12:2 [Ephesians 2:18]. It is called, however, the throne of grace, because the nature of the New Covenant has, as its presupposition, not strictly judicial retribution, according to the works of men, but compassion and grace on the part of God; the believer feels himself united to God as a loving Father, who has remitted to him the guilt and punishment of sin. A reference for the rest to the cover of the ark of the covenant, regarded as the seat of the Godhead in the sanctuary (the כַּפֹּרֶת or ἱλαστήριον of the Old Covenant), assumed by Piscator, Schöttgen, Wolf, Carpzov, Cramer, Abresch, Kuinoel, Paulus, al., and still in recent times by Bloomfield and Bisping (comp. also Kurtz ad loc.), in connection with the expression: ὁ θρόνος τῆς χάριτος, is not indicated by anything in the text.

To obtain mercy and find grace (Luke 1:30; Acts 7:46; comp. מָצָא חֵן, Genesis 6:8; Genesis 18:3, and frequently) are synonymous terms. All distinctions, as that of Böhme: ἔλεος magis id appellat, quo indigebant calamitatibus oppressi lectores, χάρις, quo peccatis non carentes; of Stein, that ἔλεος relates to compassion towards the sinner, χάρις to every manifestation of grace; of Bisping, that ἔλεος refers more to the forgiveness of sins and deliverance from sufferings, while χάρις refers to the communication of higher gifts of grace; of Hofmann, that χάριν εὑρίσκειν means “to be brought into a state of favour with any one, to become an object of his good-will;” λαμβάνειν ἔλεος, on the other hand, is “a receiving of that which the kind and gracious One accords to those in need of His kindness, just on account of their need,” and many others, are untenable.

εἰς εὔκαιρον βοήθειαν] for timely help, i.e. in order that we may in this manner attain to a help which appears on the scene, while it is still the right time, before it is yet too late (Hebrews 3:13). Wrongly Tholuck, Delitzsch, Moll, Kurtz, and Hofmann: “before the one in conflict with the temptations succumbs;” and others (also Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 740): “as often as we stand in need of the βοήθεια.”

Hebrews 4:16. προσερχώμεθα οὖν.… “Let us, therefore [i.e., seeing that we have this sympathetic and victorious High Priest] with confidence approach the throne of grace”. προσέρχεσθαι is used in a semi-technical sense for the approach of a worshipper to God, as in LXX frequently. Thus in Leviticus 21:17 it is said of any blemished son of Aaron οὐ προσελεύσεται προσφέρειν τὰ δῶρα τοῦ Θεοῦ αὐτοῦ, and in the 23rd ver. ἐγγιεῖ is used as an equivalent, cf. Hebrews 7:19. The word is found only once in St. Paul, 1 Timothy 6:3, and there in a peculiar sense; but in Heb. it occurs seven times, and generally in its more technical sense, Hebrews 7:25, Hebrews 10:1; Hebrews 10:22, Hebrews 11:6. It had become so much a technical term of divine worship that it can be used, as in Hebrews 10:1; Hebrews 10:22, without an object. Here, as in Hebrews 7:25, it is followed by a dative τῷ θρόνῳ τῆς χάριτος, the seat of supreme authority which by Christ’s intercession is now characterised as the source from which grace is dispensed. Premonitions of this are found in O.T.; for although in Psalms 96 (97.) 2 and elsewhere we find δικαιοσύνη καὶ κρίμα κατόρθωσις τοῦ θρόνου αὐτοῦ, yet in Isaiah 16:5 we read διορθωθήσεται μετʼ ἐλέους θρόνος. Philo encourages men to draw near to God by representing “the merciful, and gentle, and compassionate nature of Him who is invoked, who would always rather have mercy than punishment” (De Exsecr., c. ix). There is also something in Theophylact’s remark: Δύο γὰρ θρόνοι εἰσὶν, ὁ μὲν νῦν χάριτος, … ὁ δὲ τῆς δευτέρας παρουσίας θρόνος οὐ χάριτοςἀλλὰ κρίσεως. Similarly Atto: “Modo tempus est donorum: nemo de se ipso desperet”. They are to approach μετὰ παρρησίας, for as Philo says (Quis. Rer. Div. Haer., 4): φιλοδεσπότοις ἀναγκαιότατον ἡ παρρησία κτῆμα; and in c. 5. παρρησία φιλίας συγγενές. The purpose of the approach is expressed in two clauses which Bleek declares to be “ganz synonym”. This, however, is scarcely correct. As is apparent from the next verse, the “obtaining mercy” refers to the pardon of sins, while the “finding grace” implies assistance given. So Primasius, quoted by Westcott “ut misericordiam consequamur, id est remissionem peccatorum, et gratiam donorum Spiritus Sancti”. ἔλεος and χάρις are, however, constantly conjoined (v. Hort on 1 Peter 1:2). The close connection of χάριν with βοήθειαν suggests that ἔλεος is the more general and comprehensive term, and that χάρις is becoming already more associated with particular manifestations of ἔλεος. There may be ἔλεος, where there is no χάρις. We first obtain mercy and then find grace. εὑρίσκειν is everywhere in LXX used with χάριν in this sense, translating מָצָא. εἰς εὔκαιρον βοήθειαν “for timely help”; assistance in hours of temptation must be timely or it is useless. For βοήθεια cf. Hebrews 2:18; and for the whole verse, see Bishop Wilson’s Maxim: “The most dangerous of all temptations is to believe, that one can avoid or overcome them by our own strength, and without asking the help of God”.

16. Let us therefore come boldly] Rather, “let us then approach with confidence.” The notion of “approach” to God (προσέρχεσθαι) in the Levitical service (Leviticus 21:17; Leviticus 22:3) is prominent in this Epistle (Hebrews 7:25, Hebrews 10:1; Hebrews 10:22, Hebrews 11:6, Hebrews 12:18-22). In St Paul it only occurs once (1 Timothy 6:13), and then in a different sense. His ideal of the Christian life is not “access to God” (though he does also allude to this in one Epistle, Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12) but “oneness with Christ” “Boldly,” literally, “with confidence” (Hebrews 3:6).

throne of grace] Comp. Hebrews 8:1. This throne was typified in the mercy-seat above the Ark (Exodus 25:21), over which the Shechinah shone between the wings of the cherubim.

obtain mercy, and find grace] Mercy in our wretchedness, and free favour, though it is undeserved.

to help in time of need] Lit. “for a seasonable succour.” Seasonable because “it is still called to-day” (Hebrews 3:17), and because the help is so deeply needed (Hebrews 2:18),

Hebrews 4:16. Προσερχώμεθα, let us draw near) The same word occurs, ch. Hebrews 7:25, Hebrews 10:1; Hebrews 10:22, Hebrews 11:6, Hebrews 12:18; Hebrews 12:22 : in like manner, ἐγγίζειν, ch. Hebrews 7:19 : εἰσέρχεσθαι, ch. Hebrews 6:19 : εἴσοδος, ch. Hebrews 10:19. So Paul also, Romans 5:2, προσαγωγή.—τῷ θρόνῳ, to the throne) ch. Hebrews 8:1, Hebrews 12:2; Isaiah 16:5.—τῆς χάριτος, of grace) This word is also of frequent occurrence in this epistle.—λάβωμεν, κ.τ.λ.) The mercy of Christ being shown, is obtained (is taken, λάβωμεν): and further, the grace of God is found (εὕρωμεν). The appropriate verb is put before the one noun, and put after the other: Chiasmus.[28]—ἜΛΕΟΝ, mercy) This refers to touched with a fellow-feeling.—χάριν, grace) This refers to of grace.—εὔκαιρον, in the needful time, seasonable) Believers do not feel at once the preparations of grace made for a long time to come;[29] but when the time comes, they find it present with them; and this seasonableness especially falls on the times of the New Testament, Romans 3:26; Romans 5:6, and under it on the times of persecution (the cross).—ΒΟΉΘΕΙΑΝ, help) ch. Hebrews 2:18.

[28] See Append.

[29] A supply of grace is in store for believers against all future needs: but believers are not permitted to know and feel it all at once, but only according as the need arises.—ED.


Verse 16. - Let us therefore come boldly (literally, with boldness) unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16Come - unto (προσερχώμεθα)

oP., often in Hebrews, and commonly in the same sense as here - approach to God through the O.T. sacrifices or the sacrifice of Christ. Paul's word προσαγωγή access expresses the same idea. See Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12. The phrase come boldly expresses a thought which the Epistle emphasizes - that Christianity is the religion of free access to God. Comp. 2 Corinthians 3:12, 2 Corinthians 3:13.

Unto the throne of grace (τῷ θρόνῳ τῆς χάριτος)

The phrase N.T.o. Throne of glory, Matthew 19:28; Matthew 25:31 : of majesty, Hebrews 8:1. In Revelation throne occurs over forty times, either the throne, or his throne, or throne of God. Once throne of the beast, Revelation 16:10. Throne of grace expresses grace as the gift of divine power.

Mercy - grace (ἔλεος - χάριν)

Mercy for past sins; grace for future work, trial, and resistance to temptation.

To help in time of need (εἰς εὔκαιρον βοήθειαν)

Lit. for seasonable help, or help in good time; before it is too late; while there is still time to seek God's rest. Others, however, explain, when it is needed; or, before temptation leads to sin.

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