Hebrews 4:3
For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) For we which have believed.—The emphasis is two-fold, resting both on “believed” and on “we enter.” The former looks back to Hebrews 4:2, “by faith”—“for it is we who believed that enter.” . . . The latter looks forward to the remainder of the verse, the purport of which is that the rest exists, and that “entering into the rest” may still be spoken of.

As I have sworn . . .—Rather (as above), as I sware in My wrath, They shall not enter into My rest, (See Hebrews 3:11.) If in the Scripture (Psalm 95:8) God warns men of a later age not to imitate the guilt of those whom He excluded from His rest, it follows (see below on Hebrews 4:10) that the time for entering into the rest of God was not then past and gone.

Although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.—And therefore the rest into which God will enter with His redeemed people is not that which succeeded the works of creation. This caution is added because the words used by the Psalmist (Psalm 95:11) are derived from Genesis 2:2-3; though the same words are used, yet, we are reminded, the thought is widely different. The next two verses simply expand and support the thought contained in this: “For whereas we read in one Scripture that God ‘rested’ on the seventh day, another records His sentence on the disobedient people, ‘They shall not enter into My rest.’”

Hebrews

THE REST OF FAITH

Hebrews 4:3‘Do enter’ - but on a hundred gravestones you will read ‘He entered into rest’ on such and such a day, as a synonym for ‘He died.’ It is strange that an expression which the writer of this Epistle takes pains to emphasise as referring to a present experience should, by common consent, in popular use, have been taken to mean a future blessing. If nominal Christians had found more frequently that their faith was strong enough to produce its natural effects, they would not have so often misunderstood our writer. He does not say, ‘We, when we die, shall enter into rest,’ but ‘We who have believed do enter.’

It is a bold statement, and the experience of the average Christian seems to contradict it. But if the fruit of faith is repose; and if we who say we have faith are full of unrest, the best thing we can do is not to doubt the saying, but to look a little more closely whether we have fulfilled its conditions. ‘We which have believed do enter into rest.’

I. So, then, the first thing to be noted here is the present rest of faith.

I say ‘faith’ rather than ‘belief,’ because I wish to emphasise the distinction between the Christian notion of faith, and the common notion of belief. The latter is merely the acceptance of a proposition as true; and that is not enough to bring rest to any soul, though it may bring rest to the understanding. It is a great pity, though one does not quite see how it could have been avoided, that so frequently in the New Testament, to popular apprehension, the depth of the meaning. of that one requirement of faith is obscured because it is represented in our version by the word ‘believe,’ which has come to be appropriated to the mere intellectual act. But if you will notice that the writer of this Epistle uses two other words as interchangeable with ‘belief,’ you will understand the depth of his meaning better. Sometimes he speaks of our ‘confidence’ - by which he means precisely the same thing. Sometimes he speaks of our ‘obedience ‘ - by which he means precisely the same thing. So there is an element of voluntary submission implied, and there is an element of outgoing confidence implied in the word. And when he says, ‘We which have believed do enter into rest,’ he does not mean ‘We which acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world, But we who, acknowledging, let our hearts go out to Him in trust, and our wills bow down before Him in obedience and submission. We thereby do enter into rest.’ Carry with you these two thoughts, then - ‘confidence’ and ‘obedience’ - as indispensable elements in the New Testament conception of faith, and then you can understand the great saying of my text.

Trust brings rest, for the trust which grasps Jesus Christ, not only intellectually, but with the reliance of the whole nature upon Him to do for me that which my understanding believes that He will do - that trust brings rest because it sweeps away, as the north wind does the banded clouds on the horizon, all the deepest causes of unrest. These are our perverted relation to God, and the alienation of our hearts from Him. Brother! there is no rest deep as life which does not flow from rejoicing confidence in Christ’s great sacrifice by which the innermost source of conflict and disturbance in our souls has been dealt with. Most of us are contented if there be a superficial appearance of calm, like the sunny vineyard on the slopes of a volcano, whilst-in the heart of it sulphurous fires are bubbling and boiling, and will burst out some day. What is the worth of a tranquillity which only survives on condition of our ignoring the most patent and most operative fact in our lives? It is only when you shuffle God out of your consciousness, and when you wink hard so as not to see the facts of your own moral condition and sinfulness, or when you sophisticate yourself into illogical and unreasonable diminution of the magnitude and gravity of your sins, that some of you know a moment’s rest. If the curtain were once drawn aside, and we were brought face to face with the realities of heaven and the realities of our own characters, all this film of apparent peace would break and burst, and we should be left to face the trouble that comes whenever a man’s relation with God is, consciously to himself, perverted and wrong. But trust brings rest; rest from the gnawing of conscience, rest from the suspicion of evil consequences resulting from contact with the infinite divine righteousness, rest from all the burden of guilt, which is none the less heavy because the man appears to be unconscious of it. It is there all the same. ‘We which have believed do enter into rest,’ because our trust brings about the restoration of the true relation to God and the forgiveness of our sins. Trust brings rest, because it casts all our burdens on another. Every act of reliance, though it does not deliver from responsibility, delivers from anxiety. We see this even when the object of our trust is but a poor creature like ourselves. Husbands and wives who find settled peace in one another; parents and children; patrons and protected, and a whole series of other relationships in life, are witnesses to the fact that the attitude of reliance brings the actuality of repose. A little child goes to sleep beneath its mother’s eye, and is tranquil, not only because it is ignorant but because it is trustful. So if we will only get behind the shelter, the blast will not blow about us, but we shall be in what they call on the opposite side of the Tweed, in a word that is music in the ears of some of us - a ‘lown place,’ where we hear not the loud winds when they call. Trust is rest; even when we lean upon an arm of flesh, though that trust is often disappointed. What is the depth of the repose that comes not from trust that leans against something supposed to be a steadfast oak, that proves to be a broken reed, but against the Rock of Ages? We which have ‘believed do enter into rests’ Trust brings repose, because it effects submission. The true reason for our restlessness in this world is not that we are ‘pelted by the pitiless storm’ of change and sorrow. A grief accepted loses most of its power to sadden, and all its power to perturb. It is not outward calamities, but a rebellious will that troubles us. The bird beats itself against the wires of its cage, and wounds itself, whereas if it sat still in its captivity it might sing. So when we trust we submit; and submission is the mother of peace. There is no other consolation worth naming for our sorrows, except the consolation that comes from submission. When we accept them, lie still, let him strike home and kiss the rod, we shall be at rest.

Trust brings repose, because it leads to satisfied desires. We are restless because each object that we pursue yields but a partial satisfaction, and because all taken together are inadequate to our needs. There is but one Person who can fill the heart, the mind, the will, and satisfy our whole nature. No accumulation of things, be they ever so precious, even if they are the higher or more refined satisfactions of the intellect, can ever satisfy the heart. And no endless series of finite persons is sufficient for the wants of any one of the series, who, finite as he is, yet needs an infinite satisfaction. It must be a person that shall fill all the cavities and clefts of our hearts, and, filling them, gives us rest. ‘My soul thirsteth for God,’ though I misinterpret its thirst, and, like a hot dog upon a road, try to slake my thirst by lapping at any puddle of dirty water that I come across in my path. There is no satisfaction there. It is in God, and in God only, that we can find repose.

Some of us may have seen a weighty acknowledgment from a distinguished biologist lately deceased which strikes me as relevant to this thought.

Listen to his confession: ‘I know from experience the intellectual distractions of scientific research, philosophical speculation, and artistic pleasures, but am also well aware that even when all are taken together, and well sweetened to taste, in respect of consequent reputation, means, social position, etc., the whole concoction is but as light confectionery to a starving man .... It has been my lot to know not a few of the foremost men of our generation, and I have always observed that this is profoundly true.’ That is the testimony of a man who had tried the highest, least material forms of such a trust. And I know that there is an ‘amen’ to it in every heart, and I lift up opposite to all such experiences the grand summary of Christian experience: ‘We which have believed do enter into rest.’

II. Note, secondly, the energy of work which accompanies the rest of faith.

There is a good deal said in the context - a difficult context, with which we are not concerned at present, about the analogy between a man’s rest in God and God’s own rest. That opens wonderful thoughts which I must not be tempted to pursue, with regard to the analogy between the divine and the human, and the possible assimilation, in some measure, of the experiences of the creature with those of the Creator. Can it be that, between a light kindled and burning itself away while it burns, and fire which burns and is not consumed, there is any kind of correspondence? There is, however dim the analogy may be to us. Let us take the joy and the elevation of that thought, ‘My peace I give unto you.’

But the main point for which I refer to this possible analogy is in order to remind you that the rest of God is dealt with in Scripture as being, not a cessation from work, but the accomplishment of a purpose, and satisfaction in results. ‘My Father worketh hitherto, and I work,’ said Jesus Christ. And modern speculation puts the same thought in a more heathenish fashion when it says ‘preservation is continual creation.’ Just as God rests from His creative work, not as if either needing repose or holding His hand from further operation, but as satisfied with the result; just as He rests in work and works in rest, so Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of God in eternal indisturbance and repose, in token that He has fulfilled His work on earth. But He is likewise represented as standing at the right hand of God in attitude to help His servants, and as evermore working with them in all their toils.

In like manner we shall much misconceive the repose of faith, if we do not carry with us the thought that that repose is full of strenuous toil Faith brings rest. Yes! But the main characteristic of Christian faith is that it is an active principle, which sets all the wheels of holy life in more vigorous motion, and breathes an intenser as well as calmer and more reposeful activity into the whole man. The work of faith is quite as important as the rest of faith. It works by love, and the very repose that it brings ought to make us more strenuous in our toil. We are able to cast ourselves without anxiety about ourselves, and with no distraction of our inner nature, and no weakening of power in consequence of the consciousness of sin, or of unconscious sin - into the tasks which devolve upon us, and so to do them with our might. The river withdrawn from all divided channels is gathered into the one bed that it may flow with power, and scour before it all impurities. So the man who is delivered from restlessness is quickened for work, and even ‘in his very motion there is rest.’ It is possible to blend together in secret, sweet, indissoluble union these two partial antitheses, and in the midst of the most strenuous effort to have a central calm, like the eye of the storm which whirls in its wild circles round a centre-point of perfect repose. It is possible, at one and the same time, to be dwelling in the secret place of the Most High, and feeding our souls with that calm that broods there, and to be up to the ears in business, and with our hands full of pressing duties. The same faith which ushers us into the quiet presence of God in the centre of the soul, pushes us into the forefront of the battle to fight, and into the world’s busy workshop to labour.

So the rest which is Christian is a rest throbbing with activity; and, further, the activity which is based on faith will deepen repose, and not interrupt it. Jesus Christ distinguished between the two stages of the tranquillity which is realised by His true disciples, for He said ‘Come unto Me... and I will give you rest’ - the rest which comes by approach to Him in faith from the beginning of the approach, rest resulting from the taking away of what I have called the deepest cause of unrest. There is a second stage of the disciples’ action and consequent peace; ‘Take My yoke upon you... and ye shall find rear’ - not ‘I will give’ this time - ‘ye shall find’ - in the act of taking the yoke upon your necks - ‘rest to your souls.’ The activity that ensues from faith deepens the rest of faith.

III. Lastly, to consider the future perfecting of the present rest.

In a subsequent verse the writer uses a different word from that of my text to express this idea; and it is rather unfortunate for the understanding of the progress of the thought that our version has kept the same expression in both cases. ‘There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God’ -which follows a few verses after my text - had better have been rendered,’There remaineth the keeping of a Sabbath to the people of God’; although probably the writer is pointing to the same facts there as in my text, yet he introduces a metaphor which conveys more clearly than the text does the idea of an epoch of rest following upon a week of toil.

So I may venture to say that the repose of faith which is experienced here, because the causes of unrest are taken away, and a new ally comes into the field, and our wills submit, and our desires are satisfied, is but the germ of that eternal Sabbath day to which we look forward. I have said that the gift spoken of here is a present thing; but that present thing bears in all its lineaments a prophecy of its own completion. And the repose of a Christian heart in the midst of life’s work and worry is the best anticipation and picture, because it is the beginning, of the rest of heaven.

That future, however it may differ from this present, and how much it differs none know except those who are wrapt in its repose, is in essence the same. Yonder, as here, we become partakers of rest through faith. There, as here, it is trust that brings rest. And no change of bodily environment, no change of the relations between body and spirit, no transference of the man into new conditions and a new world will bring repose, unless there is in him a trust which grasps Jesus Christ. Faith is eternal, and is eternally the minister of rest. Heaven is the perfecting of the highest and purest moments of Christian experience.

So, Christian men and women, the more trust the more rest. And if it be so that going through this weary world you have but little confirmation of the veracity of the great saying of my text, do not fancy that it is a mistake. Look. to your faith and see that it is deepened.

And let us all, dear friends, remember that not death but faith brings present repose and future perfecting. Death is not the porter that opens the gate of the kingdom. It is only the usher that brings us to the gate, and the gate is opened by Him ‘who openeth and no man shutteth; and who shutteth and no man openeth.’ He opens to them who have believed, and they enter in and are saved. ‘Let us labour, therefore, to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.’Hebrews 4:3. For we who have believed — Or, who believe, namely, in Christ, and the promises of rest made in the gospel, and are diligent in the use of the means appointed in order to the attainment of it; do enter into rest — Are at present made partakers of the rest promised by Jesus to the weary and heavy-laden that come to, and learn of him, Matthew 11:28-29 : the rest implied in peace with God, peace of conscience, tranquillity of mind, the love of God and of all mankind shed abroad in the heart, and lively hopes of future felicity. Or rather, as Macknight observes, the present tense is put for the future, to show the certainty of believers entering into the rest of God. For the discourse is not directly concerning any rest belonging to believers in the present life, but of a rest remaining to them after death, Hebrews 4:9. As he said — Clearly showing that there is a further rest than that which followed the finishing of the creation; As I have sworn, &c., if they shall enter — That is, they shall never enter; into my rest — Namely, by reason of their unbelief. The apostle’s argument is to this purpose: Seeing men are by the oath of God excluded from God’s rest on account of unbelief, this implies that all who believe shall enter into his rest. Although the works were finished before, even from the foundation of the world — So that God did not speak of resting from them. The proposition is, There remains a rest for the people of God. This is proved, (Hebrews 4:3-11,) thus: that psalm (the 95th) mentions a rest, yet it does not mean, 1st, God’s rest from creating, for this was long before the time of Moses, nor the rest of the seventh day, which was instituted from the beginning. Therefore God’s swearing that the rebellious Israelites in the wilderness should not enter into his rest, shows that there was then another rest to be entered into, of which they who then heard fell short. Nor is it, 2d, The rest which Israel obtained through Joshua, for the psalmist wrote after him. Therefore it Isaiah , 3 d, The eternal rest in heaven.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.For we which have believed do enter into rest - That is, it is a certain fact that believers "will" enter into rest. That promise is made to "believers;" and as we have evidence that "we" come under the denomination of believers, it will follow that we have the offer of rest as well as they. That this is so, the apostle proceeds to prove; that is, he proceeds to show from the Old Testament that there was a promise to "believers" that they would enter into rest. Since there was such a promise, and since there was danger that by unbelief that "rest" might be lost, he proceeds to show them the danger, and to warn them of it.

As he said ... - see Hebrews 3:11. The meaning of this passage is this. "God made a promise of rest to those who believe. They to whom the offer was first made failed, and did not enter in. It must follow, therefore, that the offer extended to others, since God designed that some should enter in, or that it should not he provided in vain. To them it was a solemn declaration that unbelievers should not enter in, and this implied that believers would. "As we now," says he, "sustain the character of "believers," it follows that to us the promise of rest is now made and we may partake of it."

If they shall enter ... - That is, they shall "not" enter in; see Hebrews 3:11. The "rest" here spoken of as reserved for Christians must be different from that of the promised land. It is something that pertains to Christians now, and it must, therefore, refer to the "rest" that remains in heaven.

Although the works were finished ... - This is a difficult expression. What works are referred to? it may be asked. How does this bear on the subject under discussion? How can it be a proof that there remains a "rest" to those who believe now? This was the point to be demonstrated; and this passage was designed clearly to bear on that point. As it is in our translation, the passage seems to make no sense whatever. Tyndale renders it, "And that spake he verily long after that the works were made from the foundation of the world laid;" which makes much better sense than our translation. Doddridge explains it as meaning, "And this may lead us further to reflect on what is said elsewhere concerning his works as they were finished from the foundation of the world." But it is difficult to see why they should reflect on his works just then, and how this would bear on the case in hand. Prof. Stuart supposes that the word "rest" must be understood here before "works," and translates it, "Shall not enter into my rest, to wit, rest from the works which were performed when the world was founded." Prof. Robinson (Lexicon) explains it as meaning, "The rest here spoken of, 'my rest,' could not have been God's resting from his works Genesis 2:2, for this rest, the Sabbath, had already existed from the creation of the world." Dr. John P. Wilson (ms. notes) renders it, "For we who have believed, do enter into rest (or a cessation) indeed (καίτοι kaitoi) of the works done (among people) from the beginning of the world." Amidst this variety of interpretation it is difficult to determine the true sense. But perhaps the main thought may be collected from the following remarks:

(1) The Jews as the people of God had a rest promised them in the land of Canaan. Of that they failed by their unbelief.

(2) the purpose of the apostle was to prove that there was a similar promise made to the people of God long subsequent to that, and to which "all" his people were invited.

(3) that rest was not that of the promised land, it was such as "God had himself" when he had finished the work of creation. That was especially "his rest" - the rest of God, without toil, or weariness, and after his whole "work" was finished.

(4) his people were invited to the same "rest" - the rest of God - to partake of his felicity; to enter into that bliss which "he" enjoyed when he had finished the work of creation. The happiness of the saints was to be "like" that. It was to be "in their case" also a rest from toil - to be enjoyed at the end of all that "they" had to do.

To prove that Christians were to attain to "such" a rest, was the purpose which the apostle had in view - showing that it was a general doctrine pertaining to believers in every age, that there was a promise of rest for them. I would then regard the middle clause of this verse as a parenthesis, and render the whole, "For we who are believers shall enter into rest - (the rest) indeed which occurred when the works were finished at the foundation of the world - as he said (in one place) as I have sworn in my wrath they shall not enter into my rest." That was the true rest - such rest or repose as "God" had when he finished the work of creation - such as he has now in heaven. This gives the highest possible idea of the dignity and desirableness of that "rest" to which we look forward - for it is to be such as God enjoys, and is to elevate us more and more to him. What more exalted idea can there be of happiness than to participate in the calmness, the peace, the repose, the freedom from raging passions, from wearisome toil, and from agitating cares, which God enjoys? Who, torn with conflicting passions here, wearied with toil, and distracted with care, ought not to feel it a privilege to look forward to that rest? Of this rest the Sabbath and the promised land were emblems. They to whom the promise was made did not enter in, but some "shall" enter in, and the promise therefore pertains to us.

3. For—justifying his assertion of the need of "faith," Heb 4:2.

we which have believed—we who at Christ's coming shall be found to have believed.

do enter—that is, are to enter: so two of the oldest manuscripts and Lucifer and the old Latin. Two other oldest manuscripts read, "Let us enter."

into rest—Greek, "into the rest" which is promised in the ninety-fifth Psalm.

as he said—God's saying that unbelief excludes from entrance implies that belief gains an entrance into the rest. What, however, Paul mainly here dwells on in the quotation is that the promised "rest" has not yet been entered into. At Heb 4:11 he again, as in Heb 3:12-19 already, takes up faith as the indispensable qualification for entering it.

although, &c.—Although God had finished His works of creation and entered on His rest from creation long before Moses' time, yet under that leader of Israel another rest was promised, which most fell short of through unbelief; and although the rest in Canaan was subsequently attained under Joshua, yet long after, in David's days, God, in the ninety-fifth Psalm, still speaks of the rest of God as not yet attained. Therefore, there must be meant a rest still future, namely, that which "remaineth for the people of God" in heaven, Heb 4:3-9, when they shall rest from their works, as God did from His, Heb 4:10. The argument is to show that by "My rest," God means a future rest, not for Himself, but for us.

finished—Greek, "brought into existence," "made."

For we which have believed do enter into rest: a further reason setting home this counsel, was the certain benefit of our care in believing; for that the community of real Christians, partakers and exercisers of the same precious faith, as Paul himself, 2 Peter 1:1, have the same privilege as believing Caleb and Joshua had, Numbers 14:24,30, to enter into God’s rest; initially having peace with God now, and his love shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, witnessing their reconciliation, justification, renovation, adoption, so as they rejoice in hope of the glory of God, Romans 5:1,2,5; and are by believing and obedience making out to the attainment of the final and complete rest of God in heaven, of which they are afraid to fall short.

As he said, As I have sworn in my wrath: God himself confirms this by his oath, Hebrews 3:11,18 Psa 95:11. At the same time that he excludeth all unbelievers from entering in, he inclusively and by consequence sweareth that all believers do and shall enter in.

If they shall enter into my rest: that rest which David there speaks of was not God’s rest on the seventh day from the creation after the finishing of God’s works, nor the temporal rest in the land of Canaan which the Jews had, and were past, as these Hebrews might suggest; but another rest to come, either in the world to come, Hebrews 2:5, or in the heavenly rest in glory, which he takes occasion further to explain to them.

Although the works were finished from the foundation of the world: kai toi some render as a particle of exception, although, as if it intended, although God’s rest is some where meant of his rest after the finishing of the works of creation, yet here God speaks of the rest of Canaan, a type of the heavenly one: others, that God swore they should not enter into his rest, although God’s works were done, and the rest were ready, because of their unbelief. Others render it, and indeed he said and spake of the same heavenly rest, long before he spake of the rest of Canaan, even upon the finishing of his works from the foundation of the world: which seems most agreeable to the Spirit’s design here. For we which have believed do enter into rest,.... Not eternal rest; all believers shall enjoy this, and they only; but this is not now, or at present enjoyed, unless things future may be said to be present, because of faith in them, and the certainty of them but spiritual rest in Christ under the Gospel dispensation, which is a rest from the burden of the law of Moses, and from all toil and labour for life, and salvation by works, and lies in an enjoyment of much inward peace of soul, notwithstanding the world's troubles and Satan's temptations; and such who believe the word or Gospel preached, and Christ in it, not with a general and historical high, or only in profession, but with the heart, and in truth, these enjoy this rest; they are kept in perfect peace, and have much spiritual ease and comfort: this character distinguishes them from the unbelieving Israelites of old, and from present hypocrites and formal professors:

as he said, as I have sworn in wrath, if they shall enter into my rest; the words are in Psalm 95:11, and are before cited in Hebrews 3:11; see Gill on Hebrews 3:11, they entered not in because of unbelief; none but believers enter into spiritual rest. The apostle applies this proof to his design, by removing all other rests, and particularly by showing that does not mean God's rest from the works of creation:

although the works were finished from the foundation of the world; that is, though the works of creation, that God designed to make, were finished and perfected within the first six days of the world, and then God rested, or ceased to work in a creative way; yet this is not the rest designed in the passage of Scripture cited, nor is it that rest which believers enter into.

{2} For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

(2) Lest any man should object, that those words spoke refer to the land of Canaan and doctrine of Moses, and therefore cannot applied to Christ and to eternal life, the apostle shows that there are two types of rest spoken of in the scriptures: one being the seventh day, in which God is said to have rested from all his works, the other is said to be the rest into which Joshua led the people. This rest is not the last rest to which we are called, proven through two reasons. David long after, speaking to the people which were then placed in the land of Canaan, uses these words Today and threatens them still that they will not enter into the rest of God if they refuse the voice of God that sounded in their ears. We must say that he meant another time than that of Moses, and another rest than the land of Canaan. That rest is the everlasting rest, in which we begin to live to God, after the race of this life ceases. God rested the seventh day from his works, that is to say, from making the world. Moreover the apostle signifies that the way to this rest, which Moses and the land of Canaan, and all the order of the Law foreshadowed, is revealed in the Gospel only.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Hebrews 4:3. Confirmation, not of καταλειπομένης ἐπαγγελίας κ.τ.λ., Hebrews 4:1 (Bengel), nor of καὶ γάρ ἐσμεν εὐηγγελισμένοι, Hebrews 4:2 (de Wette, Bloomfield, Bisping), and just as little of the two clauses of Hebrews 4:2 taken together (Delitzsch, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerb. p. 799; Moll), but of τῇ πίστει, Hebrews 4:2. So also Bleek, Alford, and Kurtz. What Riehm (p. 800, note) alleges against this interpretation—viz. that the author has already, in Hebrews 3:15 ff. (specially Hebrews 3:19), shown clearly enough that the Israelites in the wilderness could not enter into the promised rest on account of their unbelief, that it was therefore impossible that a special proof for this fact should once more be required—does not apply; because this very πιστεύσειν was the main question, about the quite special accentuation of which he is seen from the context to be concerned. For surely the whole disquisition, Hebrews 3:7 to Hebrews 4:13, has its all-combining centre precisely in the endeavour to animate to πίστις the readers, who were in danger of sinking, like the fathers, into ἀπιστία. The emphasis rests, therefore, upon οἱ πιστεύσαντες, and the sense is: for into rest enter just those of us who have manifested faith. For οἱ πιστεύσαντες cannot signify: if we have displayed faith (Böhme, de Wette, Bisping); this must have been expressed by the anarthrous πιστεύσαντες. On the contrary, οἱ πιστεύσαντες adds a special characterization of the subject of εἰσερχόμεθα, and has the aim of limiting the quite generally expressed “we” to a definite class of us. The present εἰσερχόμεθα is employed with reference to the certainty of that to be looked for in the future, and οἱ πιστεύσαντες, not οἱ πιστεύοντες is placed, because the πιστεύειν must have already preceded as an historic fact, before the εἰσέρχεσθαι can be accomplished.

καθὼς εἴρηκεν κ.τ.λ.] Scripture proof for the first half of Hebrews 4:3, from the already cited words of Psalm 95:11. Wrongly is καθὼς εἴρηκεν connected by Piscator with Hebrews 4:1, by Brochmann and Bleek II. with Hebrews 4:2. For to suppose parentheses before it is unwarranted. In quite a contorted manner Hofmann (p. 187): with καθὼς εἴρηκεν begins a protasis, which finds its apodosis in πάλιν τινὰ ὁρίζει ἡμέραν, Hebrews 4:7; and even the fact that the latter is apodosis to ἐπεὶ ἀπολείπεται does not, according to him, preclude the possibility of this construction, because this second protasis is connected by οὖν with the first, as a deduction from the same!

εἴρηκεν] sc. ὁ θεός.

ἐν τῇ ὀργῇ μου] sc. at their unbelief and obstinate perverseness, which naturally suggested itself to the readers from the passage of the psalm more copiously adduced in the third chapter, and the reasoning of the author there attached to it.

καίτοι τῶν ἔργων ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου γενηθέντων] although the works were completed from the creation of the world; and accordingly the κατάπαυσις of God was something long present and lying in readiness, in which the Israelites, if they had been believing, might well have obtained part. The words, therefore, serve to point out the deep significance of the divine oath.[64] Wrongly are they taken ordinarily as epexegesis to τὴν κατάπαυσίς μου, in supplying ΚΑΤΆΠΑΥΣΙΝ afresh after ΚΑΊΤΟΙ. Then either ΤῶΝ ἜΡΓΩΝ Κ.Τ.Λ. is made dependent on the ΚΑΤΆΠΑΥΣΙΝ supplied, in that ΚΑΊΤΟΙ is taken, contrary to linguistic usage, in the sense of “et quidem:” “into the rest, namely, from the works which had been completed from the creation of the world” (so Schlichting, S. Schmidt, Wolf, Carpzov, Kypke, Baumgarten, Stuart, Heinrichs, Klee, Bloomfield), to which construction, moreover, the repetition of the article ΤῶΝ after ΤῶΝ ἜΡΓΩΝ would have been in any case necessary; or else ΤῶΝ ἜΡΓΩΝΓΕΝΗΘΈΝΤΩΝ is regarded as a genitive absolute: “namely (or even, although), into a rest, which ensued upon the works of creation being completed” (so Vatablus, Calvin, Beza, Limborch, Cramer, Böhme, Bisping), which however, in like manner, must grammatically have been otherwise expressed. But, in general, the author cannot here have been at all occupied with the subjoining of a definition with regard to the kind of rest which was meant, since he does not anywhere distinguish several kinds of rest, but without further remark presupposes that the κατάπαυσις which ensued for God after the completion of the works of creation is identical with that once promised to the Israelites and now promised to the Christians.

ΤῶΝ ἜΡΓΩΝ] sc. τοῦ θεοῦ. The necessity for thus supplementing is apparent from Hebrews 4:4; comp. also Hebrews 4:10. Very arbitrarily, and forcing in a thought entirely foreign to the context, Ebrard understands ΤῶΝ ἜΡΓΩΝ of the works of men, supposing that with καθὼς εἴρηκεν “the author proceeds to show to what extent even the O. T. itself points out the insufficiency of the law and its ἜΡΓΑ” (!), regards ΤῶΝ ἜΡΓΩΝ as antithesis to the preceding ΟἹ ΠΙΣΤΕΎΣΑΝΤΕς (!), and finds the thought, “that all that which can be called ἜΡΓΑ has been wrought from the time of the creation of the world, but has not sufficed to bring mankind to the ΚΑΤΆΠΑΥΣΙς, to a condition of satisfied repose,” whence follows “that an entirely new way of salvation—not that of human doing and human exertion, but that of faith in God’s saving deed—is necessary in order to attain to the ΚΑΤΆΠΑΥΣΙς” (!).

ἈΠῸ ΚΑΤΑΒΟΛῆς ΚΌΣΜΟΥ] from the foundation of the world, i.e. since the world began. Comp. Hebrews 9:26; Matthew 13:35; Matthew 25:34; Luke 11:50; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8.

[64] The aim in καίτοι τῶν ἔργων κ.τ.λ. is not, as Bleek thinks, to prove: “that men had not perchance even then, after the creation of the world, entered with Him [sc. by the institution of the Sabbath] into the rest here intended by God;” for this was a truth which hardly stood in need of any proof.3. For we which have believed do enter into rest] Rather, “For we who believed” (i.e. we who have accepted the word of hearing) “are entering into that rest.”

if they shall enter] This ought to have been rendered as in Hebrews 3:11, “they shall not enter” The argument of the verse is (1) God promised a rest to the Israelites. (2) Many of them failed to enter in. (3) Yet this rest of God began on the first sabbath of God, and some men were evidently meant to enter into it. (4) Since then the original recipients of the promise had failed to enjoy it through disbelief, the promise was renewed ages afterwards, in Psalms 95 by the word “To-day.” The immense stress of meaning laid on incidental Scriptural expressions was one of the features of Rabbinic as well as of Alexandrian exegesis.

from the foundation of the world] God’s rest had begun since the Creation.Hebrews 4:3. Γὰρ) This word refers to the expression, a promise being left, Hebrews 4:1.—καθὼς, as) Unbelief alone acts as a hinderance.—καίτοι, although) The Protasis is, although the works were finished from the beginning of the world. The Apodosis is, yet He said, I have sworn. But because the Apodosis in the text comes first, yet is omitted. The proposition is, a rest remains to us. This proposition, Hebrews 4:3-11, is proved thus. Rest is mentioned in the psalm; and yet there it does not signify, I. the rest of God from creation; for this was long before the times of Moses. Therefore another rest was to be expected in the times of Moses, of which those during the same period, who had heard, evidently came short. Nor yet, 2., does that rest which they obtained by Joshua, support the title to this rest; for it was not until afterwards that the Psalmist sung of it. Therefore, 3., he sung of a rest more recent than all these kinds of rest, viz. a rest which would be enjoyed in heaven.—τῶν ἔργων ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου γενηθέντων) The genitive absolute, i.e. although the works of the Creator were finished and perfected from the foundation of the world.Verse 3. - For we do enter into the rest, we who have believed (οἱ πιστεύσαντες, the historical aorist, pointing to the time when Christians became believers; with a reference also to τῇ πίστει in the preceding verse: but the emphasis is on the first word in the sentence, εἰσερχόμεθα: "For we Christian believers have an entrance into the rest intended") even as he hath said, As I sware in my wrath, If they shall enter into my rest; although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. This seems to be a concise enunciation of the proof, unfolded in the verses that follow, of the true rest being one into which Christians have still an entrance. The idea is that, though God's own rest had been from the beginning, and man had not yet entered it, yet the possibility of his doing so had not ceased to be intimated: it had continued open potentially to man. For we which have believed do enter into rest (εἰσερχόμεθα γὰρ εἰς τὴν κατάπαυσιν οἱ πιστεύσαντες)

I say by faith, for, we believers, who embraced the Christian faith when it was offered to us (note the aorist participle), do enter into the rest. Ἐισερχόμεθα categorical; not are entering or are on the way to, but entering into the rest is a fact which characterizes us as believers.

As he said (καθὼς εἴρηκεν)

We enter in accordance with the saying which follows.

As I have sworn - if they shall enter

The statement is somewhat obscure. The meaning is, we (who believed) enter into rest in accordance with God's declaration that they (who did not believe) should not enter. The point is faith as the condition of entering into the rest.

Although the works were finished (καίτοι τῶν ἔργων γενηθέντων)

This is an awkward and indirect way of saying, "these unbelievers did not enter into God's rest, although he had provided that rest into which they might have entered." The providing of the rest is implied in the completion of God's works. The writer assumes the readers' acquaintance with the narrative of the creation in Genesis.

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