31/07/16 Hebrews 4:1-13 “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ

Those who rightly divide the word of truth have to act as watchmen for those who don’t. Thus, we must “exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13)


Hebrews 4:1Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left [us] of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.


Because some will enter this rest (see Vs 6) according to the promise given by God (that is, the promised land) and, as we saw last week, some won’t enter because of unbelief (Hebrews 3:7-19), therefore let us fear lest any not make the grade (that is, “seem to come short of it”)


let us …. fearphobeo (to put to flight by terrifying; flee [from fear]; fear; be afraid) This word comes from the word used for fear in Hebrews 2:15 – phobos (fear; dread; terror) – where we get our word “phobia” from:

Hebrews 2:15And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.


It isn’t just saying that we should be worried about this; instead we are to flee because of the terror! So, what are we to flee? If you are doing anything at all which would be described as “an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12b), tempting or trying (proving) God (Hebrews 3:9), rebelliousness in general, and, in particular, “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13b), then flee as if in terror from such things. Otherwise you just might come short of that rest, even when you might think you might have made it.


come short – to be left behind in the race and so fail to reach the goal; to fall short of the end.


Matthew 7:21-2321 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.


Hebrews 4:2For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard [it].


For they heard the good news that was preached to them (that is, the promise of God’s rest), just as you also have heard the good news.


gospel preachedeuaggelizō (to bring good news; to announce glad tidings) = evangelise. They were all similarly evangelised; the same promise was given to all.

preachedakoē (hearing; the thing heard; oral instruction; preaching the gospel)

heardakouō (from akoe – preached) (hear; understand; perceive the sense of what is said; learn by hearing; give ear to a teaching or teacher; comprehend)

They all heard the good news, they were all evangelised, yet those (in general) in the wilderness didn’t profit from it because they didn’t trust in God’s promise of a land of rest. That is, they lacked the faith to trust that God would be true to His promise. And thus, the good news of their rest did not profit them at all! They may have been like Demas –
1 Timothy 4:10aFor Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world – with too much love for this world, or like the Hebrews in the wilderness who clearly loved their lives more than God’s promises.


Numbers 13:30-3330 And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. 31 But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they [are] stronger than we. 32 And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, [is] a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it [are] men of a great stature. 33 And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, [which come] of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.


The message is to not just hear the word, but to be doers also. (James 1:21-22)


Hebrews 4:3For 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.


have believedpisteuō (from pistis – faith) (to think to be true; to be persuaded of; to credit; place confidence in) That is, we (the writer is clearly talking mainly to Christians) who have had faith in God’s promise will enter that rest, because God has sworn that those who do go astray (“err in their heart”) and do not try to know His ways will not enter that rest (Hebrews 3:10-11). These who do enter that rest have to be those who have not gone astray in their hearts, those who know God’s ways (clearly from experience).
Hebrews 3:10-1110 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in [their] heart; and they have not known my ways. 11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) (from Psalm 95:11)


The writer continues the theme that only those who sin shall be punished (see Ezekiel 18:20The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.), and those who are punished for their sin shall not prevent those who are obedient from entering that rest.


So, those who enter in will do so as God has stated would happen (“as He said”).

the works were finished from the foundation of the world – [cf the Lamb slain (Revelation 13:8) and names written in the Book of Life (Revelation 17:8)]

Vs 4 & 5 suggest that this refers to the Sabbath-rest (see Vs 9) that God had after the works of creation had been finished, and that the future rest is actually God’s rest (“My rest” – Vs 5) that He has provided for believers to enter.


restkatapausis (rest; resting place) 8 out of 9 N.T. occurrences are in Hebrews, noun.

The word “rest” occurs 12 times in Hebrews, 11 of them katapausis or katapauo.

The other word for “rest” is used only once in the N.T. and it occurs in Hebrews 4:9

rest (Vs 9) – sabbatismos (keeping the Sabbath; the future rest for God’s people)
Thus, as God entered His seventh day Sabbath rest after creation, God’s people shall one day enter God’s rest (our Sabbath rest). Even though God’s works of creation were completed before He took His rest, there was still a rest remaining for those who had done the works of obedience.


Hebrews 4:4For he spake in a certain place of the seventh [day] on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. (Genesis 2:2)


restkatapauo (to rest; to make quiet) 3 out of 4 occurrences in Hebrews, verb

The seventh day here represents firstly the Sabbath rest of God, and secondly the future Sabbath rest of God’s people. Those who have partaken with God the benefits of salvation and have become joint-heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, have a type of their future Sabbath rest in this Sabbath rest of God on the seventh day. God rested from His labours; believers will also rest from their labours!


Hebrews 4:5And in this [place] again, If they shall enter into my rest.


But once again, there have been those in the past who have not entered into their rest (in Canaan) – a picture of those who by the same rebellion against the living God will not enter into that final Sabbath rest which belongs only to God’s people, those who by their obedience have been promised the Sabbath rest.


Hebrews 4:6Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:


Because God promised a rest to those who believed in Him (those who didn’t have an evil heart of unbelief) then by logic there must be those who will be approved by God to enter this rest. That is, God would not have promised such if no-one were to be a part of this promise! Otherwise it would be like promising a reward to anyone who could do the impossible – therefore not really a reward after all!


Hebrews 4:7Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.


limitethhorizo (to define; to mark out the boundaries or limits (of any place or thing); to determine; appoint; ordain; that which has been determined, according to appointment; decree) from the word horion = boundaries for a region, district, land, territory. Our word “horizon” traces back to the same origins, meaning “boundary”.
Todaysēmeron (this {very} day) That is, now, not tomorrow but now!

If David said “Today”, after such a long time (about 500 years), then it didn’t just apply to those who were brought out of Egypt. Thus it is an ongoing promise, and can be applied to all believers, not just the few (Joshua and Caleb) who came out of Egypt.


So “Today….” The writer is making certain that the Hebrews to whom he is writing are aware that this (that writing which they would have known about intimately) also applies to them “Today!” This isn’t just history to do with the law of Moses; it’s applicable to them right now as much as it ever was. Even Jesus claimed that the law of Moses spoke of Him because it spoke of Christ, and this was the New perfected Covenant that Christ had come to put into place, the New Covenant that the Hebrews were now being told was the final covenant (in the last dispensation).


Hebrews 4:8For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.


KJV says “Jesus” here, but remember that Joshua is the Hebrew form of Jesus, and Joshua son of Nun is the obvious meaning here, having been the person who led Israel into the promised land of Canaan. Joshua did lead them into Canaan, but there was little real rest involved with this, being only a type of the future rest of God. And it clearly points out here that Joshua couldn’t have given them rest as such because God through King David has spoken of that certain day (Vs 7) a long time after Joshua, yet still calling it “Today”.

Once again, the Hebrew readers of this epistle were being told that this promise of a rest still applied to them “Today!” In fact, there would continue to be “Today!” until this dispensation closed. But for individual people, “today” referred to that time during which this option was still available to them. For some people “today”, there will literally be no “tomorrow”!

2 Corinthians 6:2bbehold, now [is] the accepted time; behold, now [is] the day of salvation.)


Hebrews 4:9There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.


restsabbatismos (keeping the Sabbath; the future rest for God’s people) The word isn’t “Sabbath” but the “keeping of a Sabbath”, which can only point toward “heaven” being meant. The only place in the N.T. this word is used.

The fact remains that the provision of a yet-remaining rest demonstrates that it has been reserved for actual believers. (Note that salvation was provided because there was to be an actual need for salvation, otherwise salvation would have been futile!)


Hebrews 4:10For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God [did] from his.


Believers who enter this time of rest (heaven) will have ceased from their labours as God ceased from His labours on the seventh day. Wipe away all tears, no more pain nor sorrow, etc. No more anxiety, all eternal life from now on. It is something we can and should be looking forward to. However, we must continue to bring in the harvest, labour in the fields until that day that we go to our eternal rest. All the trials and tribulations of this world will be past. As God rested on His Sabbath rest, so will we, one day!



Hebrews 4:11Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.


labour – to hasten; make haste; to exert one's self; endeavour; give diligence.
It has the idea of persevering diligently, much like holding fast our confidence to the end, lest we fall away through disobedience. Thus, the need to exhort one another lest each other “fall” (“be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin”– Hebrews 3:13).


fall – to descend from a higher place to a lower; to descend from an erect to a prostrate position; fall down (physically and spiritually). Thus, lest anyone should fall down spiritually because of the same sin of disobedience as that committed by the children of Israel in the wilderness. In other words, in order to enter that rest, be diligent to learn from what happened to Israel in the wilderness, and avoid their sin. The offer of God’s rest is still available but can only be to those who fulfil the required conditions of obedience (as it was back then).

As with all definite blessings of God, the requirement always includes a good measure of obedience!

Hebrews 4:12For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.



quick – alive, living

powerfulenergēs (active) 3 times in KJV: effectual x 2; powerful x 1.
dividing asundermerismos (a division; partition; distribution; a separation; cleave asunder or separate) 2 times in KJV: gifts x 1; dividing asunder x 1. Both are in Hebrews: 2:4 (“gifts”) and 4:12 (“division”). The connection is that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are depicted as being divided up for distribution. All other occurrences (17) of “gift/s” (including “free gift”) in the N.T. involve charisma.
soulpsyche (breath (of life); life; soul; seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions etc; the soul as an essence which differs from the physical body and is not dissolved by death) Some see this as the animal life that causes us to live our physical life, and when we die, this stops.

spiritpneuma (spirit (including Holy Spirit); a spirit (Eg angel); the soul; a human soul that has left the body; breath; wind) This is seen as the eternal part of our existence, the part that goes on after death,

intents – the act of thinking; consideration; meditation; a thought; mind; understanding; will; manner of feeling, and thinking.

For the word of God is quick (alive) and powerful (energised) – mighty, the truth against which no lie can stand (Thy Word is truth – John 17:17), lighting our pathway (Psalm 119:105), and here it is the exposer of every hidden secret of every person.

sharper (that is, slicing rather than a two-edged sword that hacks) – doing what a sword could do, only far more effectively and decisively.

piercing (penetrating) as far as to be able to cut the soul and spirit apart, and also the joints and the marrow – cutting deeply and exposing all to the omniscient God before whom nothing can ever be hidden (See Vs 13).

Genesis 15:10And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.

Jesus is known as the Word of God; thus this verse appears to have some connection with Revelation 1:16And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance [was] as the sun shineth in his strength.


Some maintain that Vs 12 relates to 1 Thessalonians 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and [I pray God] your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Note the three parts mentioned here: spirit, soul, and body. Barnes suggests that the “dividing asunder” means the separating between the animal life (psyche – “soul”) and the mind or soul (pneuma – “spirit”).

BarnesTo separate the one from the other is, therefore, the same as to take life - and this is the idea here, that the Word of God is like a sharp sword that inflicts deadly wounds. The sinner "dies;" that is, he becomes dead to his former hopes, or is "slain" by the Law; Romans 7:9, "I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." This is the power referred to here - the power of destroying the hopes of the sinner; cutting him down under conviction; and prostrating him as if a sword had pierced his heart.

BengelMan, contemplated according to his nature, consists of soul and body, Matthew 10:28 : but when he has in him the working of GOD’S word, he consists of spirit, soul, and body. … The soul attracts (draws with it) the body, the spirit both, 1 Thessalonians 5:23. The spirit is divided from the soul by the efficacy of the word of GOD, when the former is claimed for GOD; the latter is left to itself, in so far as it either does not attain to, or does not follow the spirit.


Others maintain that this does not mean the actual separating of soul and spirit, but a dividing like the joints of the soul and spirit, piercing to the very marrow, which is the very deepest part of the hard bones. That is, everything is sliced asunder, even to the very deepest and most hidden parts of our soul and spirit.

CambridgeThe meaning is not that the word of God divides the soul (the “natural” soul) by which we live from the spirit by which we reason and apprehend; but that it pierces not only the natural soul, but even to the Divine Spirit of man, and even to the joints and marrow (i.e. to the inmost depths) of these.

Vincent Μερισμὸς dividing, only here and Hebrews 2:4, is not to be understood of dividing soul from spirit or joints from marrow. Soul and spirit cannot be said to be separated in any such sense as this, and joints and marrow are not in contact with each other. Μερισμὸς is the act of division; not the point or line of division. Joints and marrow are not to be taken in a literal and material sense. In rendering, construe soul, spirit, joints, marrow, as all dependent on dividing. Joints and marrow (ἁρμῶν, μυελῶν, N.T.o ) are to be taken figuratively as joints and marrow of soul and spirit.


Yet others maintain a position somewhat between the other two views.

Jamiesoneven to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit—that is, reaching through even to the separation of the animal soul, the lower part of man's incorporeal nature, the seat of animal desires, which he has in common with the brutes; compare the same Greek, 1Co 2:14, "the natural [animal-souled] man" (Jude 19), from the spirit (the higher part of man, receptive of the Spirit of God, and allying him to heavenly beings). and of the joints and marrow—rather, "(reaching even TO) both the joints (so as to divide them) and marrow." Christ "knows what is in man" (Joh 2:25): so His word reaches as far as to the most intimate and accurate knowledge of man's most hidden parts, feelings, and thoughts, dividing, that is, distinguishing what is spiritual from what is carnal and animal in him, the spirit from the soul: so Pr 20:27.

Matthew Pooleseparating the most nearly united and closely joined things, laying open the very entrails, the most inward in a man


However, in light of Vs 13, the obvious meaning in context is that the Word of God searches and is a discerner of every thought and intention of the heart. This is traditionally taken to mean the Bible, but in this context cannot exclude the actions of God through Jesus Christ the Word (Logos) in searching the depths of our very being.

Psalm 139:1-4; 23-241 O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known [me]. 2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. 3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted [with] all my ways. 4 For [there is] not a word in my tongue, [but], lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if [there be any] wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.


Jeremiah 17:9-109 The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it? 10 I the Lord search the heart, [I] try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, [and] according to the fruit of his doings.


Hebrews 4:13Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things [are] naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.


Thus, through the Word of God (initially the Bible, but ultimately Christ) there is nowhere we may hide. All things are naked (laid bare) and open (exposed) to God.

Psalm 139:7-127 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou [art] there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou [art there]. 9 [If] I take the wings of the morning, [and] dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. 12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light [are] both alike [to thee].

And one day we will give account of all that God knows already! Nothing can escape His attention.

Romans 14:12So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

Matthew 12:36But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

2 Corinthians 5:10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad.


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