Home First
Table of


Chapter 3:1 - 4:13

Heb 3:1-6

The writer of the Epistle after stating the main thought of Christ’s High-priesthood, which contained the answer to the chief difficulties of the Hebrews, pauses for a while before developing it in detail (Heb. 5-7), in order to establish the superiority of the New Dispensation over the Old from another point of view.

He has already shown that Christ the Son is superior to the angels, the spiritual agents in the giving of the Law; he now goes on to show that He is superior to the Human Lawgiver.  In doing this he goes back to the phrase which he had used in Heb. 2:5.  The conception  habitable world…is to come  leads naturally to a comparison of those who were appointed to found on earth the Jewish Theocracy and the new Kingdom of God.

This comparison is an essential part of the argument; for though the superiority of Christ to Moses might have seemed to be necessarily implied in the superiority of Christ to angels, yet the position of Moses in regard to the actual Jewish system made it necessary, in view of the difficulties of Hebrew Christians, to develop the truth independently.

The comparison is not between Moses and Christ (the Anointed), but between Moses and Jesus (the Sacrifice). Moses occupied a position which no other man occupied (Numbers 12:6).  He was charged to found a Theocracy, a Kingdom of God. In this respect it became necessary to regard him side by side with Christ in His humanity, with the Son, who was Son of man no less than the Son of God.  In the book of Revelation the victorious believers ‘sing the song of Moses and the Lamb’ (Rev. 15:3). Compare generally John 5:45).

And yet again the work of Joshua the actual issue of the Law, cast an important light upon the work of Moses of which the Christian was bound to take account.

Thus the section falls into three parts:

1. (3:1-6) Moses and Jesus: the servant and the Son
2. (3:7-4:13) The promise and the people under the Old and the New Dispensations
3. (4:14-16) Transition to the doctrine of the High-priesthood resuming 2:17

Moses and Jesus: the servant and the Son   (3:1-6)


Next Section

Heb 3:1-6
(1)  Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus,
(2)  who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house.
(3)  For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house.
(4)  For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.
(5)  And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward,
(6)  but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end. 

Greek Text according to G.R. Berry
Wherefore, brethren holy, of [the] calling heavenly partakers, consider the apostle and high priest of our confession, Christ Jesus,  faithful being to him who appointed him, as also Moses in all his house.  For of more glory he than Moses has been counted worthy, by how much more honour has than the house he who built it.  For every house is built by some one; but he who all things built [is] God  And Moses indeed [was] faithful in all his house as a ministering servant, for a testimony of the things going to be spoken;  but Christ as Son over his house, whose house are we, if indeed the boldness and the boasting of the hope unto [the] end firm we should hold.

The paragraph begins with an assumption of the dignity of the Christian calling, and of ‘Jesus” through whom it comes (vv. 1,2); and then the writer establishes the superiority of Christ by two considerations:

(vv. 3,4) Moses represents a ‘house’, an economy: Christ represents ‘the framer of the house,’ God Himself 
(vv. 5,6). Moses held the position of a servant, witnessing to the future: Christ holds the position of a Son and the blessings which He brings are realized now 

Perhaps we may see, in the form in which the truth is presented -

the Father
the faithful servant
the Son
pictured in Abraham
pictured in Eliezer
pictured in Isaac

The thought of the majesty and sympathy of Christ, the Son, and the glorified Son of man, glorified through sufferings, which bring Him near to fallen man as Redeemer and High-priest, imposes upon Christians the duty of considering His Person heedfully, in His humanity as well as in His divinity.

Wherefore  -  hothen   -  Drawing a conclusion from Heb 2:9-18
Because Christ has taken our nature to Himself, and knows our needs and is able to satisfy them.

Holy brethren  -  adelfoi hagioi
It follows naturally from the view of Christ’s office which has just been given. This reveals the destiny of believers.
"Holy" brethren (see Heb 2:11) are worshippers of God, taking the place of God's Old Testament people, as called and consecrated to ethical and spiritual service according to the Christian ideal.

The epithet holy is social and not personal, marking the ideal character not necessarily realized individually. (compare John 13:10).

In this sense Paul speaks of Christians generally as holy (e.g. Eph. 2:19):

a priesthood holy Compare I Pet. 2:5 
a nation holy Compare I Pet. 2:9 

Here the epithet characterizes the nature of the fellowship of Christians which is further defined in the following clause.

The leading ideas of the preceding section are echoed in this verse: "brethren," of whom Christ made himself the brother: "holy," in virtue of the work of the sanctifier.

Partakers of a heavenly calling  -  kleeseoos epouraniou metochoi 
Compare  tees anoo kleeseoos   "the upward calling,"  in Phil 3:14.
The expression points to the lordship of the "world to be" (Heb 2:5);  and the "world to be"  is the abiding world, the place of realities as contrasted with types and shadows.  The calling comes from that world and is to that world.  See Heb 13:14.

The Christian’s ‘calling’ is heavenly,  not simply in the sense that it is addressed to man from God in heaven, though this is true (compare Heb. 12:25), but as being a calling to a life fulfilled in the spiritual realm. The voice from heaven to Moses was an earthly calling, a calling to the fulfillment of an earthly life. 

The sense is not simply: ‘Regard Jesus…who was….’;  but ‘Regard Jesus….as being….’   Attention is fixed upon the perfect fidelity with which He fulfilled His work, and that essentially, both now and always (compare 1:3).

The use of the second person (consider) is rare in the Epistle in such a connection (compare Heb. 7:4 Now consider). The writer generally identifies himself with those to whom he gives counsel (4:1,11,14,16; 6:1; 10:22; 12:28; 13:13,15).

The apostle and high priest  -  ton apostolon kai archierea
In calling Jesus "apostle,"  the writer is thinking of Moses as one  "sent"  by God to lead Israel to Canaan. Compare the Septuagint, where apostellein  "to send"  is often used of Moses. See Ex 3-7.  Often of Jesus, as Luke 10:16; John 3:17; 5:36; 6:29.

‘Him who occupies the double position of legislator - envoy from God - and Priest.’  In Christ the functions of Moses and Aaron are combined, each in an infinitely loftier form. The compound description gathers up what has been already established as to Christ as the last Revealer of God’s will and the fulfiller of man’s destiny. Compare Heb. 8:6.

Here the double office of Christ underlies the description of Christians which has been given already.

Who belongs to, who is characteristic of our confession. In Christ our ‘confession,’ the faith which we hold and openly acknowledge, finds it authoritative promulgation and its priestly application.

Who was faithful  -  piston onta 
Render it: "is faithful."  A general designation of inherent character. He is faithful as he ever was.

Faithful in His perfect humanity to Him who appointed Him to His authoritative and mediatorial office. Compare I Cor. 4:2.

To him that appointed himtoo poieesanti auton
"Constituted"  him apostle and high priest.  Some render "created," referring to Christ's humanity or to his eternal generation. So the Old Latin, creatori suo; but this does not suit the context.  Poiein often found in Greek and Roman Classical authors in the sense of  "institute,"  as sacrifices, funerals, assemblies, etc., and in the middle voice of  "adoption"  as a son. See 1 Sam 12:6; Mark 3:14; Acts 2:36.

The phrase is capable of two distinct interpretations. It may be understood:

1. Of the Lord’s humanity
2. Of the Lord’s office

The language of Heb. 1:3 absolutely excludes the idea that the writer speaks of Christ Himself personally. In favor of the first view it is urged that the phrase is commonly used of the Creator in reference to men: e.g. Isa. 17:7; Psalms xciv. 6; Psalms cxlix. 2.

And the early church fathers constantly speak of the Lord’s humanity in these terms, as, for example, Athanasius de sent. Dion. (i. P. 496 Migne), though he appears to interpret this passage of the Lord’s office as well as of His humanity: c. Ar. 2.7.

In itself this interpretation is admissible, but such a reference to the Lord’s human nature apart from His office seems to be out of place.

It is better therefore to adopt the second interpretation and refer the ‘making’ to the Lord’s office: ‘who appointed Him, who made Him Apostle and High Priest’ compare Acts 2:36. This sense is perfectly natural (compare I Samuel 12:6; Mark 3:14).

As also Moses  -  hoos kai Moousees
The highest example of human fidelity known to the readers.

The former discussion has prepared the way for this comparison of ‘Jesus’ with the founder of the Old Theocracy.

In all his house  -  en holoo too oikoo autou
Construe with "was faithful." Jesus was faithful even as Moses was faithful.

The house of God, not of Christ or of Moses. This is decided in the original context: 

Believing being to-the One-making Him as the Moses in whole the home’ (Interlinear 4th cent.) 
The Lord…said….My servant Moses….is faithful in all Mine house’ (Westcott)

The Targums give the sense rightly  ‘in all My people.’  The familiarity of the words left no room for misunderstanding to a Jew.

The point of comparison lies in the fact that Moses and Christ were both engaged, not as other divine messengers with a part, but with the whole of the divine economy.  The prophets dealt severally with this or that aspect of Truth, the Kings with another region of life, the Priests with another.  But Moses and Christ dealt with ‘the whole house of God.’

The words, taken from Numbers 12:7, may go either with ‘Moses’ or with ‘Jesus’. In either case the sense is the same. Perhaps the reference of him to God, and the emphasis which is naturally laid on the fact that the office of Christ was as wide as that of Moses (this being the point made to the Jews of the time who resisted the thought of Christ being equal with Moses, let alone superior),  favors the connection of the words with  ‘Jesus.’

In their original reference to Moses the words were much discussed by Rabbinical writers, who found various deeper meanings in (faithful), as one who could speak with authority, to whom the secrets of the Lord were entrusted. ‘trusted in all My house’. Found worthy of God’s confidence of the House of Israel. Moses is pre-eminent among the Prophets. While other Prophets chiefly warned their own generation and comforted them with blessings in the remote future, Moses addresses all times, communicating to them everlasting statutes and laws for all generations.’    (Rabbi Hertz)

For the perfect faithfulness of Moses in his work see Exodus 40:16  thus did Moses.  The nobility of his service is recognized when that of Christ is set above it. 

The subject of the high priesthood of Christ, introduced in this verse, is not carried out in detail by showing the superiority of Jesus to earthly high priests.   Instead, the writer proceeds to show that Christ is superior to Moses, as he has already shown his superiority to angels. He will thus have shown Christ's superiority to both the agencies by which the old covenant was mediated. The subject is a delicate one to treat for Jewish readers to whom Moses was the object of the deepest veneration; but the treatment displays tact by placing Moses in the foreground beside Christ as an example of fidelity to his commission. Justice is thus done to the familiar historical record, and to God's own testimony, Num 12:7. 

The general sense of the comparison is that:

Moses was as faithful as any servant in a house can be
Christ was not a servant in the house, but a son

and displayed his fidelity in that capacity.    
(from Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

The  ‘house of God’  is the organized society in which He dwells. Israel was the type of redeemed mankind. 
Compare I Tim. 3:15; I Pet. 4:17; Eph. 2:21; Hos. 8:1.

This ‘house’ in relation to God is essentially one, but in relation to the two agents,  Moses and ‘Jesus’, through whom it is administered,  it is twofold in form.

Matt 17:2-3
(2)  And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
(3)  And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with Him.

Rev 15:2-3
(2)  And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
(3)  And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.

The general affirmation of the dignity of Christ which has been included in the two preceding verses is enforced by a view of His superiority over Moses. Moses was, so to speak, lost in the economy which was given through him: Christ was the author of that which He instituted (in His capacity as the Word or creative force of God).

For of more.
The duty of careful regard is pressed by the consideration of Christ’s preeminence: Regard….Jesus…for He hath been counted worthy of more glory than Moses…  The fidelity of Christ in dealing with the whole house of God was as complete as that of the Lawgiver who was raised above all other men, and His authority was greater.

He, who is the One present object of our thoughts. Compare Heb. 10:12 (7:1,4). The usage is very common in John (e.g. Jn. 1:2; I Jn. 5:6).

Was counted worthy  -  eexiootai  -  Used both of 

reward which is due (1 Tim 5:17)
punishment  (Heb 10:29)

The thought is of the abiding glory of Christ, and not of the historic fact of His exaltation. It is implied that that which was merited was also given. 

Of more glory  -  pleionos doxees
(Compare Heb 2:8-9)

Glory…..honour - The term is changed in the second case to cover more naturally the application to ‘the house.’

‘Glory’ is internal, as light flashed forth from an object   (Compare Heb. 2:7,9)
‘Honour’ is external, as light shed upon it   (Compare 2 Cor. 3:7)       

Here the force of the argument lies in the fact that Moses is identified with the system which was entrusted to him.

He was himself a part of it. He did not originate it. 
He received it and administered it with absolute loyalty.

But its author was God. And Christ is the Son of God. Hence the relation of Moses to Christ is that of a system to its author.

Inasmuch as  -  kath' hoson
Render it: "by so much as." The argument is based on the general principle that the founder of a house is entitled to more honor than the house and its individual servants.  There is an apparent confusion in the working out, since both God and Christ appear as builders, and Moses figures both as the house and as a servant in the house.

The point of the whole, however, is that

Moses was a part of the Old Testament system - a servant in the house; 
Christ, as one with God who established all things, was the founder and establisher of both the Old and the New Testament economies.

(from Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft

Some have referred who built to Christ, as the real Founder of that Kingdom of God of which the Jewish economy was but a shadow. This thought is completely in harmony with the argument of the Epistle, but it is not directly expressed elsewhere. And on this interpretation v. 4 must be taken as a parenthetical remark designed to guard the sovereign authorship of God in all things and His part in the ordering of the Law, a view which appears to be unsatisfactory. The compressed suggestiveness of the argument is not unlike John 8:31-36. 

Who built… He that established.
The word established (built)  expresses more than the mere construction of the house. It includes the supply of all necessary furniture and equipment. Compare Heb. 9:2 & 6; 11:7; Num. 21:27.

For every…
The general principle, that the framer is superior to the thing framed,  admits of application in the case of the Law.  Even here we must not rest on the system;  for

every system, and this highest of all, has its framer; 
                      and finally
every system is carried up to God as its Author,

and ‘Jesus’ our ‘Apostle and High-priest’ is the Son of God.

Nothing is said here expressly of the unique relation in which Christ, as the Son, stands to God. That is assumed, as having been already laid down in the opening of the Epistle.

He that built all things is God  -  ho panta kataskeuasas Theos
The verb includes not only "erection,"  but  "furnishing with the entire equipment."  See Heb 9:2; 1 Peter 2:10. 

The application of  "built or established"  to Christ (Heb 3:3) is guarded against possible misapprehension. Christ is the establisher, but not by any independent will or agency. As the Son he is "he that built," but it is as one with God "who built all things."   The special foundership of Christ does not contradict or exclude the general foundership of God.

Theos  -  A careful examination of the passages in which Theos (God) is used without the article (o’ Theos) in John’s writings leads to the conclusion that the difference between o’ Theos and Theos is such as might have been expected antecedently.

o’ Theos brings before us the Personal God Who has been revealed to us in a personal relation to ourselves:
Theos fixes our thoughts on the general conception of the Divine Character and Being
(used here)

Throughout it will be seen that

o’ Theos that of the One Being in personal relation to others
Theos the general conception of divinity is dominant

The same general difference is observable in the use of the terms in the other Books of the New Testament. Thus it may be noticed that the article (o’) is uniformly found.

The anarthrous form (Theos) wherever it is used in the Epistle suggests the thought of the character of God as God: Heb. 1:6; 2:9; 6:1,5,18; 8:10; 11:3,16; 12:23.   The force of it will be felt by comparing Heb. 6:1,5 with Heb. 6:3, 17 with 6:18; 11:3 with 11:4.

The writer is not trying to show that Christ was greater than Moses because he was God, 
but because of his fidelity as a son instead of as a servant. This is the point which he goes on to elaborate.
(from Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

The superiority of Christ over Moses is shown also by another argument. Moses and Christ are not only distinguished as standing to one another in the relation of an economy to its author; but also in regard to the respective economies which they administered.

The position of Moses was, by necessary consequence, that of a servant acting in a certain sphere
The position of Christ that of a Son over a certain sphere

And yet again, the Mosaic order pointed forward as preparatory to that which should come after: the Christian order includes the blessing which it proclaims.

And Moses  -  Kai 
"and"  introduces the further development of the thought of Heb 3:2-3 = "fidelity," and the corresponding honor. It is not a second proof of the superiority of Christ to Moses. See Num 12:7.

In all his house
In all God’s house, as before. The phrase which marks the inferiority of Moses to Christ, and at the same time his superiority to all the other prophets. 

As a ministering servant
A ministering servant suggests a personal service freely rendered.  The same person may be described by both words under different aspects. Compare Psalms cv (civ.)26; Rev. 15:3 (servant of Moses).

For a testimony of the things going to be spoken by God through the prophets and finally through Christ (Heb. 1:1). The position of  Moses and of the Mosaic Dispensation was provisional.  Moses not only witnessed to the truths which his legislation plainly declared, but also to the truths which were to be made plain after wards. The Old Testament in all its parts pointed forward to a spiritual antitype. Compare Deut. 18:15.

A servant  -  thereupon 

Occurs only here in the New Testament. Compare Rev 15:3. 
Often in the Septuagint, mostly as translation of `ebed'  "servant, slave, bondman."
Also, when coupled with the name of a deity, "a worshipper, devotee."
Sometimes applied to angels or prophets. 
Of Moses,  'therapoon'   "servant of the Lord,"  (Heb 10:16).
Used commonly in Greek and Roman Classical authors.
Also, in the New Testament the word emphasizes the performance of a present service, without reference to the condition of the doer, whether bond or free.

An ethical character attaches to it, as to the kindred verb therapeuein:  service of an affectionate, hearty character, performed with care and fidelity. Hence, the relation of the therapoon is of a nobler and freer character than that of the doulos or bondservant. The verb is used of a physician's tendance of the sick.

Deut 18:15
The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;

According to Vincent:

For a testimony of those things which were to be spoken  - eis marturion toon laleetheesomenoon
Moses' faithful service in God's house was "for a testimony," etc. The "things which were to be spoken" are "the revelations afterward to be given in Christ." Others, however, explain of the things which Moses himself was afterward to speak to the people by God's command, referring to Num 12:8. According to this explanation, the fidelity hitherto exhibited by Moses ought to command respect for all that he might say in future.  But
(1) In the present connection that thought is insignificant
(2) It would be an exaggeration to speak of Moses’ fidelity to God throughout his whole official career as a witness of the things which he was to speak to the people by God's command.
(3) The future participle requires a reference to a time subsequent to Moses’ ministry. The meaning is that Moses, in his entire ministry, was but a testimony to what was to be spoken in the future by another and a greater than he. Compare Deut 18:15, explained of Christ in Acts 3:22-23.

But Christ
  -  Christos
Replacing the human name  "Jesus," as being the "official"  name which marks his position over the house.  It is replaced by the "prophetic" title after the full description of the relation of the Incarnate Son (raised from the dead) to Moses. 

Christos (Christ) occurs again as a proper name without the article in  Heb. 9:11,24.

As a son  -  hoos huios
The fidelity of Moses and the fidelity of Christ are exhibited in different spheres:

of Moses in that of servant;
of Christ in that of son.

Moses and Christ were alike ‘faithful’ (v. 2), but their perfect fidelity was exercised in different respects:

Moses was faithful as a servant in the administration of God’s house.
Christ was faithful as a Son as sovereign over God’s house (1:2).

Compare Heb. 10:21; Matthew 21:37.

Over his own house  -  epi ton oikon autou
Compare Heb 10:21, and notice epi  "over"  his house,  and en  "in" all his house, of Moses. 

For "his own house"  render  "his house,"  referring to God. 
Reference to Christ would destroy the parallel. It is said by some that the matter of respective positions is irrelevant: that the main point is "fidelity," and that therefore it does not matter whether Moses was a son or a servant, provided he was faithful. But the writer evidently feels that Christ's position as a son "enhanced" his fidelity. Compare Heb 5:8. The implication is that Christ's position involved peculiar difficulties and temptations.

The Superiority of  Jesus Christ over Moses
The Superiority of the New Covenant over the Old


Jesus Christ

Was faithful as a servant IN the house Is faithful, as the first-born Son, OVER the house
Did not found the house or family Is both the Founder and Foundation
Was IN the house Is OVER the house as its Ruler
Was but servant in the house Is the Son and Heir
Was in the house of another Is in his own house

(paraphrased from Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Biblesoft)

Whose house we are
Even as was the house in which Moses served.  The Christian community is thus emphatically designated as  "the house of God,"  implying the transitoriness of the Mosaic system. Compare 1 Cor 3:16-17; 2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:22; 1 Peter 4:17.

The writer might have said,  taking up the words of the question,  Whose the house…, but he wishes to insist on the character (house) and not upon the concrete uniqueness (the house) of the Christian society. Compare Heb. 1:2.

Christians are ‘the house of God,’ and no longer Israel. We have the fullness of blessing in our grasp.

It is at this point that we must stop and reflect - what exactly does it mean: whose house we are?  It means that the house of God is not composed of wood, brick, stone.  WE are the house of God. It is in the life of the believer that He dwells today and reveals Himself  to the world.  

Hold fast kataschoomen
The verb is used in the New Testament as here, 1 Thess 5:21; Philem 13; 

of  "restraining or preventing," Luke 4:42; 
of "holding back or holding down" with an evil purpose, Rom 1:18; 2 Thess 2:7; 
of "holding one's course toward, bearing down for," Acts 27:40.

The spiritual privileges of Christians depend upon their firm hold upon that glorious hope which the Hebrews were on the point of losing.

The confidence and the rejoicing of the hope  -  teen parreesian kai to kaucheema tees elpidos 
Always conveys the idea of boldness which finds expression in word or act.

The thought here is that the condition of being and continuing to be the house of God is the holding fast of the hope in Christ of the "object" of hope and in the consummation of God's kingdom in Him;  making these the ground of boasting;  exultantly confessing and proclaiming this hope. There must be, not only confidence, but "joyful" confidence. Compare Rom 5:3; Eph 3:12-13; Phil 3:3.

The Christian hope is one of courageous exultation. Compare Heb. 6:18.  This exultation is here regarded in its definite concrete form (boasting - boast) and not as finding personal expression (boasting). Contrast this with 2 Cor. 1:14 with I Cor. 1:12; Rom. 3:27 with Rom. 4:2.

Firm unto the end  -  mechri telous bebaian
The latter part of this verse marks the transition to the lesson of the wilderness-life of the exodus; the writer fearing that the fate of the exodus-generation may be repeated in the experience of his readers. We are God's house if we steadfastly hold fast our Christian hope, and do not lose our faith as Israel did in the wilderness. The exhortation to faith is thrown into the form of warning against unbelief. Faith is the condition of realizing the divine promise. The section is introduced by a citation from Ps 95:7-8.

Let’s now look at this verse from the ancient eastern manuscripts called The Peshitta, which is the authorized Bible of the Church of the East.  ‘But Christ as a son over his own house, whose house we are, if to the end we hold fast with confidence to the glory of his hope.’

Until hope passes into sight. Compare Heb. 6:11; Rev. 2:26; Matt. 10:22; I Cor. 1:8. The conception of ‘hope’ occupies an important place in the Epistle (Heb. 6:11,18; 7:19; 10:23). ‘Hope’ is related to ‘Faith’ as the energetic activity of life is related to life. Through hope the power of faith is seen in regard to the future. Hope gives distinctness to the objects of faith.

Some have questioned the authenticity of this phrase (firm unto the end). These questions usually depend on a reference to one or two manuscripts (see Foundations).  We could call this checks and balances because if there is a question about a verse of Scripture we can then look at other references like the LXX and Peshitta and Targums and Greek Interlinear of the 4th and 5th Century.  It helps having theses books in my library for reference.   (Paul the Learner)

Heb 3:7 - 4:13

The comparison of Christ with Moses leads naturally to a comparison of those who respectively received their teaching. The faithlessness of the Jews in the desert becomes an eloquent warning to Christians who are in danger of unbelief. (‘If God spared not the natural branches, take heed that He spare not thee’). Even the date (about ‘forty years’ from the Passion) seemed to give additional force to the parallel. At the same time the history of the past was fitted to prepare ‘the remnant’ of Jewish believers for the general faithlessness of their countrymen. The Old Testament is in fact a record of successive judgments of Israel out of which only a few were saved.

The argument turns upon the Psalmist’s interpretation of the discipline of the wilderness.
Ps 95:1-11

(1) O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
(2) Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.
(3) For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
(4) In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.
(5) The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.
(6) O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.
(7) For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice,
(8) Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
(9) When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.
(10) Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways:
(11) Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest. (KJV)

Faith is first laid down as the condition of the enjoyment of the divine blessing (3:7-19); 
Then it is shown that the promise still remains to be realized by Christians (4:1-13).

The condition of Faith is established by

(a) the experience of the wilderness (7-11)
(b) which is applied generally (12-15)
(c) and then interpreted in detail (16-19)

Faith is the Condition of the Enjoyment of the Divine Blessing   (3:7-11)


Next Section
Previous Section
Heb 3:7-11
(7)   Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says:  "Today, if you will hear His voice, 
(8)   Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,  In the day of trial in the wilderness, 
(9)   Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me,  And saw My works forty years. 
(10) Therefore I was angry with that generation,  And said, 'They always go astray in their heart,
And they have not known My ways.' 
(11) So I swore in My wrath,  'They shall not enter My rest.' " 

Greek Text according to G.R. Berry
Wherefore, even as says the Spirit the Holy, To-day if his voice ye will hear,  harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation, in the wilderness,  where tempted me your fathers, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was indignant - with generation that, and said, Always the err in heart; and they did not know my ways;  so I swore in my wrath, If they shall enter into my rest.

The 95th Psalm serves perfectly to point the lesson which the Apostle desires to draw. It contains an invitation to the people of God to worship, and a divine warning against disobedience.

The Psalm has been used from the earliest times in the Synagogue service for the Sabbath, and as “the Invitatory Psalm “  at Matins in the Western Church.  It is assigned in the LXX  to David (compare Heb. 4:7).
The words which immediately precede the quotation (8-11) justify the application of Christians:
We are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand (Luke 12:32 flock).
The particular interpretation of this claim gives also the particular interpretation of ‘today.’ The voice of God comes still to those who claim to be His.

-  because it is only by holding fast our hope that we can secure the privilege of the divine society.
The point of transition lies in v.6. The condition of resolute fidelity suggests the consideration of the consequences of failure.

As the Holy Ghost saith  -  dio kathoos legei to pneuma to hagion 
The formula "the Spirit the holy (Spirit)"  is common in the New Testament. 

According to Westcott:
The construction of the clauses which follow is uncertain. It may be complete or incomplete. In the former case two modes of construction are possible:

(a) The quotation from Psalms 95 may be appropriated by the writer of the Epistle and made part of his own appeal, so that the words harden not (v. 8)….become the immediate sequel (wherefore harden not).
(b) Or the whole quotation may be parenthetical and wherefore be connected immediately with take heed 
(v. 12).

According to Vincent:
"wherefore"  is connected with blepete  "take heed,"  Heb 3:12.

Westcott also comments:
It is a serious objection to the former view that the words harden not...in the Psalm are spoken by God, and it is unlikely that the writer should so appropriate them, while long parentheses are not alien from his style; and further it may be urged that take heed by itself is abrupt as a beginning.

If then the construction is complete we must connect v. 7 directly with v. 12; but it is possible that the sentence begun in v. 7 is left formally unfinished, so that v. 12 takes up again the main thought. Such a broken construction may be compared with in Hebrews 10:16.

It is characteristic of the Epistle that the words of Holy Scripture are referred to the Divine Author and not to the human instrument.

To-day..] Compare 2 Cor. 6:2. The word emphasizes the immediate necessity of vigilance and effort. In old times the people fell away when the divine voice was still sounding in their ears.

If his voice..] The original may be rendered as a wish ‘O that today ye would…’; but the structure of the Psalm favors the rendering of the LXX. Followed here, though, indeed, if is used to represent a wish (Psalms 139:19).
‘Since Thou, O God, slayest sinners: begone from me ye bloody men.’ Ps. 139:19 LXX.

Today if ye will hear his voice  -  seemeron ean tees foonees autou akouseete
The Hebrew reads,  "O that you would hear his voice today." 

"Today" is prophetically interpreted by the writer as referring to the Christian present, the time of salvation inaugurated by the appearance of Christ.

The voice of God spoken through Christ as the Apostle applies the words. The application to Christ of that which is said of the Lord in the Old Testament was of the highest moment for the apprehension of the doctrine of His Person. Compare Acts 2:21.

Additional notes on Heb 3:7 by Westcott:

Three main types of national expectation appear to have prevailed among the Jews at the time of the Advent, the expectation of
‘a Davidic King,’ or 
‘a day of the Lord’, or
‘a Divine King and Judge.’ 

Each expectation was connected with the thought of a passage from ‘this age’ of trial and suffering to ‘the future age’ of triumph and joy, through a crisis of travail-pains. The ground of the different hopes lay in the Scriptures, and it does not seem that they were united in any one consistent view.

We read the Old Testament in the light of the New Testament, and it becomes difficult for us to appreciate the manifoldness of the aspects of the Divine Redemption which were offered separately in the prophets. But this manifoldness, this apparent vagueness of inconsistency, as we might think, must be realized before we can form a right estimate of the revelation of Christ.

1. The expected Deliverer is as a King of the line of David 
(Isa. 11:1; 553; Jer. 23:5;30:9; Ezek. 34:23; 37:24). 

At first the prophetic imagery suggests a line of kings who shall fulfill the counsels of God.

‘The tabernacle of David’ is to be restored (Amos 9:11; compare Acts 15:16); 
‘Shepherds’ are to be set over the regathered flock (Jer. 23:4; compare 33:17,20,26; 14-26 is not in the LXX). 

But in this royal line one King stands out in glory, in whom all the promises are concentrated, a King who shall  ‘execute judgment and justice on the earth’ (Jer. 23:5; compare 33:15),  and realize in peace and safety the will of the Lord,  through the gift of His Spirit (Isa. 11:2).  He is to come from the city of David (Mic. 5:2), and to bring peace to the divided kingdom (Zech. 9:10) and to the heathen; and His throne is to be everlasting (Isa. 9:6).

After the Captivity the thought of the Davidic King falls again into the background.  Zechariah alone touches upon it (Zech. 3:8; 6:12 with reference to Jer. 23:5).  The people and not the royal line is the center of hope.  And it must be added that in the second part of  Isaiah the name of  David is only once mentioned,  and that in a passage (Isa. 55:3) which appears to indicate that the royal prerogatives of the ideal monarch are extended to the ideal people.

2. The expected Deliverer as bringing Judgment

Meanwhile another view of the divine interposition in favor of Israel had been powerfully drawn. The prophets had said much of  ‘a day of the Lord’.  The phrase extends through their writings from first to last,  from Joel  (Joel 1:15; 2:1,11; 3:14)  to Malachi  (Mal. 4:5 [3:23]).  On this ‘great and terrible’ day it is said that Jehovah Himself will execute judgment, and bringing victory to His own people and ruin on His enemies and theirs (Joel 3:14; compare Isa. 2:12).  The crisis is painted as full of gloom and anguish  (Amos 5:18,20),  and fierce conflict  (Ezk. 13:5).

The people confident in their privileges desire the coming of the day:  the prophet, who knows that the Presence of the Lord is a moral judgment, turns them to the thought of its terrors. The revelation of deliverance is a revelation of righteousness (Amos).  In this conception therefore the idea of retribution for evil,  of vengeance on the wicked,  who are typically identified with the oppressors of Israel, prevails over every other  (Isa. 13:6,9; Obad. 15; Zeph. 1:7,14 ).  The Lord Himself carried out His will. The thought of deliverance is connected directly with His action.  No human agent is singled out for the accomplishment of His counsel.

3. The expected Deliverer is the Christ - the Anointed King

These two conceptions of the Davidic king and of the judgment of Jehovah were united in the Revelation writings.  In these the Savior King is clothed with a supernatural character. Whatever may be the date of the Book of Daniel,  there can be no doubt that it marks an epoch in the growth of the Messianic hopes of Israel.  Henceforward the looked-for King appears under a new aspect, as the heavenly Fulfiller of the purpose of God.  The image is mysterious and obscure in Daniel (Dan. 7:13,18);  but it gains clearness in the later works which follow out the same line of thought, the Sibylline fragments, the book of Henoch, and the Psalms of Solomon.  In these the figure of the Divine King is presented with ever-increasing glory;  and it was probably in the latest period of the development of  Jewish hope,  to which they belong,  that the title of  ‘the Christ,’  ‘ the Anointed King,’  which is used characteristically in the Old Testament of the theocratic monarch, came to be appropriated to the expected Saviour.

We are able to see now how these various hopes were harmonized and fulfilled by Him whom we acknowledge as the Son of David, the Son of man, and the Son of God.  And in the first age they contributed to guide the apostles naturally,  if the word may be used,  to the apprehension of the depths of His Being.  In this respect it will be evident that the expectation of the coming of the Lord was of critical significance. The work of the Baptist was recognized as preparatory to this Divine Advent (Mk. 1:2; Lk. 1:76; Matt. 11:10 [Mal. 3:1]; Matt. 11:14; 17:11; Mk. 9:12; Lk. 1:16 [Mal. 4:5];  and the remarkable change of pronoun in the first quotation from Malachi (before thee for before me) seems designed to point to the coming of the Lord in One Who is His true Representative.

The herald of the Lord was indeed the herald of Christ. This John tells us,  was the Baptist’s own view of his mission.  He was sent to  ‘make straight the way of the Lord’  (Isa. 40:3; John 1:23; comp. Matt. 3:3; Mk. 1:2; Lk. 3:4).   And after the Resurrection and the descent of the Spirit,  the apostles proclaimed that in Christ the promise of the Lord’s coming was indeed fulfilled  (Acts 2:16,21,36,38; 4:12; Joel 2:28),  and looked forward to His revelation in glory  (Zech. 14:5; Matt. 16:27; 25:31; Mk. 8:38; I Thess 3:13; 2 Thess. 1:10), when He should exercise the divine office of judgment  (Acts 17:31; Ps. 9:8; 2 Thess. 1:7; ).

So it was that the apostolic writers applied to Christ the prerogatives of
the Lord  (Jer. 17:10; Rev. 2:23; comp. Num. 14:21, Rev. 1:18; Ps. 10:16, Rev. 11:15)
His Sovereign Name  (Deut. 10:17, Rev. 19:16; comp. Ps. 24:10, I Cor. 2:8)
the accomplishment of His promises  (Isa. Lvii. 19, Eph. 2:13; compare Isa. Lx. 3,19, Rev. 21:24)

Peter distinctly applies to Christ what was said of ‘the Lord of hosts’ (I Pet. 3:14, Isa. 8:12,13). 
And John in especial, looking back from the bosom of a Christian Church, found deeper meanings in His Master’s words  (John 13:19, Isa. Xliii. 10),  and discerned that the divine vision of Isaiah was a vision of Christ (John 12:39; Isa. 6:1).  The very phrase in which he expresses the Gospel includes implicitly the declaration of the fulfillment of the promise of the Lord’s dwelling with His people  (John 1:14; Lev. 26:11; Ezek. 37:27).

From the study of such passages it is not difficult to see how, as has been briefly said, the fact of the Covenant leads to the fact of the Incarnation. The personal relationship of God with man is a prophet of the fulfillment of man’s destiny.

Harden not  -  mee skleeruneete
The group of kindred words consists of

"to harden"
"hardness of heart"
( Matt 25:24; Jude 14)
(Rom 2:5)
(Acts 19:9; Rom 9:18)
(Matt 19:8; Mark 10:5)
(Acts 7:5)

All occur in the Septuagint, with the addition of [skleeroos], "hardly,"  "painfully".

Unbelief,  like faith,  finds one element in man’s self-determination.  The issue of unbelief is his act.  On the other hand he is subject to adverse influences.  It is alike true that he  ‘hardens his heart’  and also that  ‘he is hardened’ (v. 13).  Scripture recognizes man’s responsibility and no less the inexorable law of moral consequence by the working of which God hardens the heart of the disobedient and self-willed.  In this respect the variations in the narrative of the Exodus are most instructive:

Pharaoh  ‘hardened his heart’   (Ex. 8:15,32;9:34).
‘The Lord hardened’  Pharaoh’s heart   (Ex. 4:21; 9:12; 10:1,20,27; 11:10; 14:4,8).
Pharaoh’s heart  ‘was hardened’   (Ex. 7:14,22; 9:7,35).

The word harden,  except in this context  (vv. 13,15; 4:7),  is found in the New Testament only in Acts 19:9;  Rom. 9:18.  It is used in the LXX of  ‘the heart’,  ‘the spirit’ (Deut. 2:30),  ‘the back,’  ‘the neck.’

In the provocation  -  en too parapikrasmoo  
From pikros  "bitter, pungent":  hence,  "to stir up to bitterness,  to irritate."   Compare the Septuagint Ezek 2:4.

The original text gives the two proper names: As at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness; and perhaps the LXX, which elsewhere gives equivalents for proper names, may have intended to be so taken.

The two acts of faithlessness referred to cover the whole period of the forty years (Num. 20:1; Ex. 17:1; compare Deut. 33:8).

In the day  -  kata teen heemeran   -  in a temporal sense, as Acts 12:1; 19:23; 27:27. 
Compare  kat' archas  "in the beginning," Heb 1:10.

Of temptation  -  tou peirasmou 
Render it:  "of the temptation,"  referring to a definite event, the murmuring against Moses at Rephidim on account of the lack of water, Ex 17:1-7. In that passage the Septuagint gives for the two proper names Massah and Meribah,  peirasmos  "temptation," which is correct,  and  loidoreesis , "railing"  or  "reviling,"  since Meribah signifies "strife."

Compare  tou hudatos loidorias , Num 20:24, 
and hudoor Antilogias , Num 20:13; 27:14; Deut 32:51; 33:8; Ps 80:7; 105:32. 
The Septuagint has preserved the proper names only in Ezek 47:19, [Marimooth], and Ezek 48:28, [Barimooth].) 
In Ps 94, the Septuagint renders Meribah parapikrasmos  "provocation,"  and Massah peirasmos  "temptation." 
(from Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

When the people  ‘tempted’  God: compare Psalms 78:17   ‘But still they proceeded to sin against Him - they provoked the Most High in a desert.’ LXX

Tempted me, proved me  -  epeirasan en dokimasia  -  Literally,  "tried (me) in proving." 
The text differs from the Septuagint, which reads  epeirasan, edokimasan   "tempted, proved," as the King James Version.   The phrase here means  "tempted by putting to the test."   Compare ekpeirazein,  "to tempt or try with a view to seeing how far one can go."  

The absence of a direct object in this clause according to the true reading points to the connection of  tempted  as well as  proved  with in the wilderness.  This rendering departs considerably from the Hebrew and from the LXX, but places in a more vivid light the character of unbelief.  The faithless people tried and tested, not the invisible God, but His visible works.  They found reason to question where they should have rested in faith.

And saw my works  -  kai eidon ta erga mou
Some construe  "my works"  with both verbs:  "tried and saw my works:"
But it is better to supply  "me"  after epeirasan  "tempted,"  to take  "works"  with  "saw" only,  and to give kai  the force of  "and yet" :   "They tempted and yet saw my works;"  although they saw my works.  
The Hebrew is  "tried me, proved me, yea saw my works."

The Hebrew here is singular.  The many works of God in the wilderness were all one work,  one in essence and aim, whether they were works of deliverance or works of chastisement.  Under this aspect acts of righteous judgment and of mercy were parts of the same counsel of loving discipline.

Forty years
In the original these words go with the following clause (and so in v. 17).  Here they are transposed to draw attention to the duration of God’s discipline.  The period had a significant coincidence with the interval which had elapsed since the Passion at the time when the Epistle was written.

In the Septuagint this is connected with  "saw my works." 

Compare the transition from the Greek of the 4th Cent. To today:

Interlinear Where try me the fathers of-your in testing and they-perceived the acts of me fourty years.
Greek - Berry Where tempted me your fathers, proved me, and saw my works forty years.
Greek - Westcott Where your fathers tempted by proving, And saw my works forty years. 
KJV 1611 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.
NKJV 1982 Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, And saw My works forty years.

Jewish writers connected the  ‘forty years’  in the wilderness with the time of Messiah.  For example: R. Eliezer said: "The days of the Messiah are forty years, as it is said:"   Psalms xcv. 10 (Sanh. 99. I, quoted by Bleek).

Wherefore I was grieved  -  dio prosoochthisa
The verb  prosoochthisa   "I was grieved,"  only here and  Heb 3:17. 
In the Septuagint 

qow' "to spue out" 
naa`al  "to exclude, reject, abhor"
Taa'am "to repudiate"

Wherefore - The particle is inserted by the writer, who separates the period of discipline from the sentence of rejection.

I was indignant - I was wroth, vehemently displeased.  The original term expresses loathing.

In heart
In their heart, the seat of man’s personal character, of his moral life.

And they - But they
The particle seems to involve a silent reference to the constant warnings and teachings of God:  ‘I ever showed them my purpose,  but they on their part recognized not my ways.’  Compare Heb. 8:9.

So I sware
  -  hoos
Render it:  "according as I sware":  the hoos correlating the oath and the disobedience.  "According as I sware, in that time of disobedience."

They shall not enter into my rest  -  ei eleusontai eis teen katapausin mou Literally, 
"if they shall enter,"  etc.   A common Hebraistic formula in oaths.

Where God is speaking,  as here,  the ellipsis is "may I not be Jehovah if they shall enter."
Where man is speaking, "so may God punish me if"; or "God do so to me and more if." 

Compare Mark 8:12:  the Septuagint, Gen 14:23; Deut 1:35;  1 Kings 1:51; 2:8. 

Sometimes the ellipsis is filled out, as 1 Sam 3:17; 2 Sam 3:35.   
  "rest," only in Hebrews, and Acts 7:49. 
The verb katapauein,  "to lay to rest"  also only in Acts and Hebrews. 
In Greek and Roman Classical authors the verb sometimes means "to kill or to depose from" power. 
In the original citation the reference is to Canaan. 
Paul uses kleeronomia  "inheritance" in a similar sense.
(from Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

The  rest  was primarily Canaan (Deut. 12:9),  and then that divine kingdom and order of which the earthly Canaan was a type. At the first the occupation of the promised Land was treated as being ideally the fulfillment of the highest destiny of Israel in perfect fellowship with God (Lev. 26:11).  But the partial outward accomplishment of the national hope necessarily fixed attention upon the spiritual realities with which the imperfect earthly blessings corresponded. The unsatisfying character of the temporal inheritance quickened the aspiration after a truer inheritance which the prophets cherished and deepened.

The writer of the Epistle afterwards identifies the true rest with the rest of God after Creation (Heb. 4:4).  The rest which God had proposed for His people was no other than that into which He Himself had entered.

Lesson of the wilderness   (3:12) Top
Next Section
Previous Section
Heb 3:12
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

Greek Text according to G.R. Berry
Take heed, brethren, lest perhaps shall be in anyone of you a heart wicked of unbelief in departing from God [the] living.

Translation of the Greek text by Westcott
[Wherefore, I repeat,] take heed, brethren, lest haply there shall be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from Him who is a living God; 

The words of the Psalm which have been quoted at length are now applied generally to Christians.
The reality of the blessings which they have received depends upon the faith with which they receive the present voice of God while it is still addressed to them.

Take heed, brethren, lest perhaps
The words take up the wherefore of v. 7,  enforced and illustrated by the teachings of the Psalm.  It is not unfrequented in the New Testament:  Heb. 12:25;  Matt. 24:4;  Acts 13:40.

Note how the following exhortation is colored by the Old Testament citation: "evil heart; the today; be hardened; take heed"   See to it.   Often used in warnings or admonitions: sometimes with apo   "from,"  with genitive of that against which the warning is given, as Mark 8:15; 12:38;  but so only in the Gospels. 
In construction connect with dio , Heb 3:7;  "therefore beware."

Lest there be  -  mee pote estai 
The indicative with mee  "lest"  shows that with the fear that the event may occur,  there is blended a suspicion that it will occur.

The construction, as distinguished marks the reality and the urgency of the danger.  Compare Mk. 14:2; Col. 2:8; Gal. 4:11 (lest somehow I have labored).

In any of you  -  en tini humoon 
They are appealed to individually.   A single unbelieving soul might corrupt the whole body.

An evil heart of unbelief  -  kardia poneera apistias
In the Septuagint, this phrase occurs among nearly a thousand instances of kardia "heart." 
Apistias,  "of unbelief,"  specifies that in which the more general poneera "evil" consists. An evil heart is an unbelieving heart.

The phrase is remarkable. A heart wicked go closely together, and of unbelief characterizes the ‘evil-heart’; as body of sin  (Rom. 6:6),  body of his flesh  (Col. 1:22.)

This thought of ‘unbelief,’ ‘unfaithfulness,’ stands in contrast with the ‘faithfulness’ which was the glory of Moses and Christ (v. 2 faithful…..in all his house).

Unbelief’ finds its practical issue in ‘disobedience’. Comp. V. 19 (on account of unbelief); Heb. 4:6 (on account of disobedience).

In departing from the living God  -  en too aposteenai apo Theou zoontos
The characteristic of unbelief.  Faith is personal union with God. Unbelief separates from God.

The phrase "living God" is common to both Testaments.  

In falling away from…shown in this apostasy (Acts 3:26  in turning). Unbelief might prevail at last even after a temporary victory of faith. For departing compare Lk. 8:13.  It is construed commonly with from (Acts 15:38), but also with the simple genitive  (I Tim. 4:1).

From Him Who is a living God. The anarthrous title (Theos (God) living), which is far more common. (comp. Heb. 4:14; 10:31; 12:22), always fixes attention upon the character as distinguished from the ‘Person’ of God (Matt. 16:16; 26:63; Rev. 15:7).   In every case it suggests a ground for corresponding thought or action (e.g. Acts 14:15  to God living  not  to God the;  I Thess. 1:9; Rom. 9:26).

The title is generally used of God,

as the Creator and  Preserver  and  Governor of the world (Deut. 5:26; Josh. 3:10; I Sam. 17:26; 2 Kings 19:4,16; (Jer. 23:36); Dan. 6:20,26;  
in contrast with the idols (‘vanities,’ ‘nothings,’ of heathendom).

Here it suggests, among other thoughts, the certainty of retribution on unfaithfulness. The title is not found in the Gospel or Epistles of John (but notice John 6:57 living Father).

In old times the glory of Israel was the knowledge of ‘the living God’; 

but now    to fall back from Christianity
to Judaism
   was really to revolt from Him (comp. 6:5 ),
for as God is living    so the revelation which He gives of Himself is progressive.
On the one side    He spake in His Son (Heb. 1:1 spoke), 
and on the other side    He is speaking still (Heb. 12:25 him who speaks).
Today    (3:13) Top
Next Section
Previous Section
Heb 3:13
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Greek Text according to G.R. Berry
"But encourage yourselves every day as long as to-day is called, that not may be hardened any of you by [the] deceitfulness of sin"

Translation of the Greek text by Westcott
"but exhort your own selves day by day so long as it is called Today, that no one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin-"

But encourage yourselves
But - in place of undue confidence, of blindly reposing in the past  -  help, encourage, exhort your own selves
The virtual negative of the former clause (‘do not neglect the fresh voices of God….’) is naturally followed by but. The use of  yourselves  suggests the close unity of the Christian body.  
The similar usage of the pronoun in other places will be worth your effort to study: I Pet. 4:8,10; Eph. 4:32 to one another, each other; Col. 3:13 one another, each other; Col. 3:16; I Thess. 5:13.

While it is called today  -  achris hou to seemeron kaleitai 
Literally, "so long as the today is being named."  
The article points to the former expression-the "today" of  (Heb 3:7).  It is the day of grace, while salvation through Christ is still attainable.

So long as the term ‘Today’ is still used:  so long as, in the language of the Psalm, the voice of God is still addressed to you in its appointed time. In various connections the term ‘Today’ will have various interpretations.

For the Church it is the whole time till Christ’s coming. 
For the believer the period of his own life.

That no one of you be hardened
The effect is here attributed to sin while man is passive. In the Psalm the activity of man’s opposition is marked.

Through the deceitfulness of sin  -  apatee tees hamartias
Apatee  (deceitfulness)   -   "a trick, stratagem, deceit,". 
The warning is against being hardened by a trick which their sin may play them. Note the article, "the" or "his" sin  -  the sin of departing from the living God.  The particular deceit in this case would be the illusion of faithfulness to the past - returning to the old Mosaic law which Jesus fulfilled.

Sin is represented as an active, aggressive, power: See Heb. 12:4.  
Compare also Rom. 7:8,11; (5:21;6:12;7:17,20):    2 Thess. 2:10 deceit of unrighteousness; James 1:15.

Note:  The readers of the Epistle were in danger of entertaining false views of the nature of the promised salvation. It was in this form that sin assailed them, cloaking itself under the dress of faithfulness to the past.
In other words trying to serve God through both the Law and the sacrifice of His Son.  The one cancels out the other.  Either you come by the way of the cross which is the door to the forgiveness of God or you reject it, the decision is yours.    (Paul the Learner)

Maintenance of  faith    (3:14)


Next Section
Previous Section
Heb 3:14
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;

Greek Text according to G.R. Berry
"For companions we have become of the Christ, if indeed the beginning of the assurance unto [the] end firm we should hold; "

Translation of the Greek text by Westcott
"for we are become partakers of Christ, if at least we hold the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end-"

We are made partakers of Christ metochoi gar tou Christou gegonamen
Render it:   "we are become fellows with Christ."   For "fellows" see Luke 5:7; Heb 1:9. 
It marks even a closer relation than "brethren."   See Luke 22:30; Rom 8:17; Rev 3:21.

Such an exhortation has a solid ground to rest upon, for we are become partakers in Christ, or, more strictly, in the Christ, the hope of our fathers. We have been united with Him and so we have been made now to partake in the fullness of His life.  The old promises have found for us a complete fulfillment,  though unbelief destroys it or hides it from us.  The phrase can also be rendered partakers with Christ, i.e. Christ’s fellows (Heb. 1:9; Luke 5:7).

The thought is of a blessing conferred (we have become),  and not simply of a blessing enjoyed.

If indeed…
That which has been stated as a fact (we have become) is now made conditional in its permanence on the maintenance of faith. This is the ever-present antithesis of religion.

That which God has done is absolute;  
but man’s appropriation of the gift must be by continuous effort. Compare Col. 3:3,5 (ye died……put to death therefore).

If we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end. The beginning of our confidence is more than our first confidence. It describes that which is capable (so to speak) of a natural growth;  a principle which is active at first, and continues to be progressively energetic. Compare Heb. 10:32

Heb 10:32    Greek transliteration
Anamimneéskesthe dé tás próteron heeméras en haís footisthéntes polleén áthleesin hupemeínate patheemátoon   (Copyright (c)1966, 1968, 1975, 1983 by the United Bible Societies)

"But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings:"   (NKJV)

Beginning of our confidence  -  teen archeen tees hupostaseoos
The believing confidence with which we began our Christian life.  The Greek fathers render "substance;" that in virtue of which we are believers.

There can be no doubt that assurance is here used to express that resolute confidence, which opposes a strong resistance to all assaults.  It is used in late Greek writers for firmness of endurance under torture  (ref. Diod. Sic. ii 557).  The word occurs in a similar sense in 2 Cor. 9:4; 11:17.

Unto the end  -  mechri telous   "the consummation"
It is more than mere "termination."  It is the point into which the whole life of faith finally gathers itself up.  See Rom 6:21; 2 Cor 11:15; Phil 3:19; Heb 6:8; 1 Peter 1:9.

The ‘end’ is not exactly defined. The writer leaves it undetermined whether the close of trial is the close of the individual life or of  ‘the age’ itself.  Compare Heb. 6:11.

If we hold fast     (3:15) Top
Next Section
Previous Section
Heb 3:15
While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

Greek Text according to G.R. Berry
"in its being said, To-day if his voice ye will hear, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation."

Translation of the Greek text by Westcott
"while it is said
Today, if ye shall hear His voice, 
Harden not your hearts, as in the Provocation."

While it is said  -   en too legesthai
The formula by which the writer reverts to the previous citation.  Connect with "if we hold fast." The exhortation of Heb 3:12  answered to Ps 95;   so the condition of fulfillment in Heb 3:14 is declared to rest on the same Scripture. Only "on the ground of what is said" in that Psalm does the holding fast come to pass.  Therefore render it: "We are fellows of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end, seeing it is said,".

The connection of the quotation is uncertain. 
It has been taken closely with v. 16.
Some connect it with v. 14, or, more particularly, with the conditional clause of  it if indeed.  This connection gives a good sense, and brings the necessity of effort into close relation with obedience to every voice of God.
Others connect it with v. 13. According to this view v. 14 is parenthetical, and brings out the real nature of the Christian privilege - a participation in the Messiah - and the condition on which it is kept.
If this connection is adopted the sense is: ‘exhort one another so long as it is called today….while the voice of God is still addressed to you, and still claims loyal obedience.’

The Syriac Peshitta has it:  ‘As it is said, Today, if you hear even the echoes of his voice, do not harden your hearts to anger him.’

They Provoked Him     (3:16-19) Top
Next Section
Previous Section
Heb 3:16-19
(16)  For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.
(17)   But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness?
(18)   And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?
(19)   So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

The general application of the warning to Christians is confirmed by a closer interpretation of the circumstances. Those who incurred the displeasure of God and who were excluded from the promised rest, were the people who had been delivered from Egypt. Unbelief and disobedience finally cut off from their goal men who had entered on the way. So it may be with those who have been joined to Christ.

Greek Text according to G.R. Berry
For some having heard provoked, but not all who came out from Egypt by Moses.  And with whom was he indignant forty years? [Was it] not with those who sinned, of whom the carcasses fell in the wilderness?  And to whom swore he [that they] shall not enter into his rest, except to those who disobeyed?  And we see that they were not able to enter in on account of unbelief.

Translation of the Greek text by Westcott
For who when they heard did provoke? Nay, did not all they that came out of Egypt by Moses?  And with whom was He displeased forty years? Was it not with them that sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness?  And to whom did He swear that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that were disobedient?  And we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

The succession of thought is significant.

(v. 16) The very people whom God had rescued provoked Him 
(v. 17) They sinned and met with the fatal consequences of sin
(v. 18) They disobeyed and received the sentence of rejection 
(v. 19) Unbelief (compare v. 12) made them incapable of that rest towards which they had started by faith

For some, when they had heard, did provoke
  -  tines gar akousantes parepikranan
Render it:  "who, when they heard, did provoke?" 
The interrogative  tines  calls special attention to those who provoked God.

The writer would say, "My warning against apostasy is not superfluous or irrelevant:"
For, consider:  who were they that provoked God? 

They were those who had fairly begun their journey to Canaan, as you have begun your Christian course.
As they provoked God,  so may you.

The warning is necessary.  Christians have need of anxious care.  For who were they who so provoked God in old times?  Even those whom He had already brought from bondage.
He that thinketh that he stand, take heed lest he fall.’

Howbeit not all  -  all' ou pantes 
Who were they?   "Were they not all who came out of Egypt by Moses?"   They were so numerous that they practically constituted the whole generation of the exodus. So far from its being true that a good ending necessarily follows a good beginning, a whole generation of God's chosen people failed to reach the Land of Promise because they provoked God through their unbelief.

The vast mass who came out of Egypt could not be described as ‘some’.  On the other hand the interrogative completely corresponds with the two interrogatives which follow  (For…….And with (17)…..And to (18)…..); and the three questions point to the three stages of the divine displeasure.  Nor does the faith of Joshua and Caleb invalidate the general statement.

Who came out
The word marks the act of the people, the manifestation of faith on their part, as well as the act of Moses.  They ‘came out’ and not only ‘were led out’ (Acts 7:36 led out; Heb. 8:9).  They began in faith, but did not end in faith.  As Galatians 1:6 says in the NIV:  "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ."

By Moses
The fact that Moses had been the instrument of their deliverance should have kept them from ‘chiding with him'.

Ex 17:2
Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, "Give us water, that we may drink." And Moses said to them, "Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the LORD?"     (NKJV)

The unbelief of the people showed itself in open sin from first to last   (v. 8).

And with whom?
And with whom….? In this place the writer gives the connection of  Massah and Meribah  which is found in the Hebrew.  From the beginning of the wanderings to the end (Exodus 17:7; Num. 20:13), the people sinned in like ways.  In this verse and in the next (disobeyed 18)  the reference is not to the general character of the people, but to the critical acts which revealed it.

Who sinned
This is the only form of the aorist  Partic (Greek language) in the New Testament.  In the moods the form of sinned is always used except Matt. 18:15; Lk. 17:4 (he should sin); Rom. 6:15.

The   -  ta koola 
The word was used in the LXX. (Numbers 14:29).
In this wilderness your carcasses shall fall…..’ LXX Numbers 14:29

Vincent says:  koolan - properly  "a limb."   The idea of "dismemberment"  underlies the use of the word. Compare Num 14:29 (Septuagint), and 1 Cor 10:5,  of the rebellious Israelites, who  "were strewn down along in the wilderness."

All of those who had seen the wonders that God had done "in the land of Ham;" who had been rescued in so remarkable a manner from oppression, were thus cut down, and died in the deserts through which they were passing; Num 26:64-65. Such an example of the effects of revolt against God, and of unbelief, was well suited to admonish Christians in the time of the apostle, and is suited to admonish us now, of the danger of the sin of unbelief. 
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

To them that believed not  -  tois apeitheesasin
Render it: "to them that disobeyed."

He is exhorting those whom he addressed to beware of an evil heart of unbelief; Heb 3:12. He says that it was such a heart that excluded the Hebrews from the promised land. The same thing, says he, must exclude you from heaven-the promised home of the believer; and if that firm confidence in God and his promises which he requires is wanting, you will be excluded from the world of eternal rest
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

To them that disobeyed, that were disobedient.  Unbelief passed into action
Compare Heb. 11:31; 4:6,11; Rom. 11:30, 32, contrast vv. 20,23.

According to Wuest:
The word translated "believed not" is apeitheo which means, "not to allow one's self to be persuaded, not to comply with, to refuse or withhold belief, to be disobedient."   It is descriptive of the character of the generation that refused to enter Canaan.  They were of that non-persuasible type that will not listen to reason - stiffnecked, obstinate.

And we see

The conjunction introduces the general conclusion:  ‘And so on a review of the record (or of the argument) we see…’
We see may mean:  ‘We see in the familiar record of the Pentateuch,’  or,
‘We see in the details just set forth.’ 
The two interpretations really pass one into the other.

They were not able
Their exclusion from Canaan was not only a fact, but a moral necessity

Because The failure of the first generation of redeemed Jews, who corresponded in position with the first generation of Christians, is traced back to its source. 

The faith which they had at the beginning failed them
They fell into unbelief
And unbelief issued in its practical consequences
open sin

For the general relation of ‘unbelief’ and ‘disobedience’ see 
Rom. 2:8 (But to those…..who disobey
Rom. 3:3 (their unbelief); 
Acts 14:2 (But the disobeying Jews); 
Acts 19:9 (disobeyed); 
Acts 28:24 (disbelieved). 
Compare John 3:36 (He that believes…….he that is not subject).

The Promise Remaining     (4:1-10) Top
Next Section
Previous Section
Heb 4:1-7
(1)  Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.  (2)  For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.  (3)  For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: 

"So I swore in My wrath,
They shall not enter My rest,"

although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.  (4)  For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works";  (5)  and again in this place: "They shall not enter My rest."  (6)  Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience,  (7)  again He designates a certain day, saying in David, "Today," after such a long time, as it has been said: 

"Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts." 

It follows from the consideration of the history of Israel that the promise of God to His people was not totally fulfilled by the entrance into Canaan.

There is, therefore,

(1-10) A rest, a divine rest, a rest from earthly labor, promised still and not enjoyed
(11-13) And towards this rest Christians must strive, filled with the feeling of their responsibility

The promise of the entrance into the divine rest is

(vv 1,2) First assumed to apply to Christians
(vv. 3-5) The present reality of the rest is then established by the record of creation
(vv. 6,7) And by the repetition of the promise to those who had entered into Canaan
(vv. 8-10) For the first rest could not satisfy the divine purpose 

The writer takes for granted throughout that whatever God in His love has ever designed for man is brought within man’s reach by Christ, ‘the heir of all things’, the fulfiller of human destiny.

The fate of those who were rescued from Egypt had a direct meaning for those to whom the Epistle was addressed. The people that were delivered did not ‘enter into the rest of God,’ but perished in the wilderness. And the next generation who occupied Canaan still found the promise unaccomplished, and so it remained till the time when Christ again proclaimed it for the vital appropriation of believers by faith.

Thus, in other words, under one aspect the Israelites in the wilderness and the first Christians were in the same position. Both had a message of glad tidings to make their own; and the end of the message in both cases was the same. But in the order of the Divine Providence,  Christians were placed in a more advantageous position (Heb. 8:6) than Israel.  Because of the work of Christ in their lives, belief and obedience were more easily within their reach when the former discipline had done its work.

Greek Text according to G.R. Berry
(vs 1 & 2)  We should fear therefore lest perhaps being left a promise to enter into his rest, might seem any of you to come short.  For indeed we have had glad tidings announced [to us] even as also they; but not did profit the word of the report them, not having been mixed with faith in those who heard. 

Translation of the Greek text by Westcott
(vs 1 & 2)  Let us fear, therefore, lest haply a promise being left of entering into His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it.   For indeed we have had good tidings preached to us, even as also they; but the word of the message did not profit them, because it was not incorporated by faith in them that heard.

We should fear therefore
Let us fear therefore, since Israel, redeemed from bondage, never entered into the rest which was prepared for them, for we have had good tidings preached to us even as they. Our position, like theirs, is one of trial. The position of privilege is the discipline of faith.  To have been brought to Christ is a beginning and not an end. In such a case ‘fear’ is a motive for strenuous exertion.

The writer uses the first person (us instead of you) in sympathy with the whole Christian society, and recognizing his own position in Christ.  

Christian salvation, having been presented as lordship over the world to come, and as deliverance from the fear of death, is now to be presented as participation in the rest of God. The purpose of  Heb 4:1-11 is to confirm the hope of that rest, and to warn against forfeiting it.  There is a possibility of your forfeiting it.  The rest of God was proclaimed to your forefathers,  but they did not enter into it because of their unbelief.  It has been proclaimed to you.  You may fail as did they, and for the same reason.

Being left  -  kataleipomenees
Still remaining:  not  "being neglected."  
It is not a reason for fearing that is given,  but a circumstance connected with the thing to be avoided. 

"Being left" announces the thought which is afterward emphasized, and on which the whole treatment of the subject turns-that  "God's original promise of rest remains unchanged, and still holds good."  Such being the case, he who doubts the promise itself,  or thinks that it is too late for him to enjoy its fulfillment, runs a risk.
As there is still now left (v. 6) a promise to enter ( that one should enter).

The promise was left because no purpose of God can fall to the ground; and this was unfulfilled in the case of those to whom it was first given.  Outwardly the promise was fulfilled afterwards,  for the next generation did enter Canaan;  but that fulfillment did not exhaust the meaning of the promise (v. 8); and so in fact the promise was repeated.

The tense (Greek term of speech) of the participle (being left ) marks the present fact.  There is a slight difference between it remainsto enter  and  remains a rest  (vv. 6,9).   It remains to enter  is used from the point of sight of those who have gone away;  being left of that which retains its original position.

Should seem to come short  -  dokee hustereekenai 
According to this rendering,  the meaning is that one must avoid  "the appearance"  of having failed to enter into the rest.

Render it:  "lest any one of you think he has come too late for it." 
This accords with the previous admonitions against unbelief.  For one to think that he has come too late to inherit the promise is to disbelieve an immutable promise of God.  Hence, the writer may well say,  "Since this promise remains,  let us fear to distrust it."  

husterein    is "to be behind; to come late; to come short;" hence, 
"to suffer need," as Phil 4:12; 
of material deficiency, Luke 15:14; John 2:3; 
of moral and spiritual shortcoming, Rom 3:23; 1 Cor 8:8; Heb 12:15.

The phrase is less stern in expression than the simple to come short,  and yet it is more comprehensive in warning.  It suggests that the mere appearance or suspicion of failure,  even though it may not be fully justified,  for man’s judgment is necessarily fallible,  is a thing to be earnestly dreaded.   Other renderings, ‘lest any should be shown to….’ Or ‘be judged to….,’ or ‘think that he has….,’ are less natural and less forcible.

The Vulgate has  deesse  -  to have failed to attain the promised rest in spiritual possession.  The tense marks not only present (Romans 3:23 come short ) or past defeat ( 2 Cor. 12:11 I was behind ) but an abiding  (continuing) failure.

For unto us was the gospel preached
  -  kai gar esmen eueengelismenoi
Literally, "we have had good tidings proclaimed to us." 
The translation of the King James Version is unfortunate, since it conveys the technical and conventional idea of "preaching the gospel,"  which is entirely out of place here.  The reference is to the special announcement of the rest of God;   the glad tidings that God has provided a rest for his people.  This announcement was made to the fathers,  and signified to them the promise of the rest in Canaan.  It has been proclaimed to us, and to us is the announcement of the heavenly rest.  The emphasis is on the entire statement,   "we have had the good tidings proclaimed to us," rather than on we as contrasted with "they."

The omission of the pronoun throws the emphasis upon we have had. (compare Heb. 13:10 ).  ‘ For indeed we have received a message of good tidings - a promise of rest - even as also they (v. 6).
Compare Heb. 5:12;10:34;12:29;13:22. 

For the construction see Matt. 11:5; Lk. 7:22; 2 Sam. 18:31; Joel 2:32; and compare Heb. 8:5 was divinely instructed Moses : the perfect (we have had ) marks the present continuance of the message, which was not simply one past announcement (v. 6 those who formerly heard glad tidings ).

Not being mixed with faith in them that heard it  -  mee sungkekerasmenous tee pistei tois akousasin
Render it:  "because not incorporated by faith in them that heard."
The verb is used of the intimate association of familiar friendship in classical and late Greek.

‘For the gospel was preached to us as it was to them also, but the word they heard did not benefit them, because it was not mixed with faith in those who heard it.’  Heb. 4:2  (Peshitta)

The writer has declared that there were practically no believing hearers. He says that although the good tidings were announced to them, they did not profit them. The word did not profit them because it (the word) was not assimilated by faith in those that heard. They did not make the promise of rest their own. Their history was marked by continual renewals and rejections of the promise.

There are two interpretations of this verse:
They were not united in faith as a whole
The mere hearing did not profit them because they were not 
'united by faith with them that truly heard,' 
'with the body of the faithful,' or, perhaps, 
'with them that first heard,' 
'with those to whom the message was given' (comp. 2:3), 
that is, Moses and Joshua and Caleb. 
They were not motivated by faith individually
The mere hearing did not profit them because
'it was not incorporated by faith in them that heard,’
‘they were not vitally inspired with the divine message though they outwardly received it.’ 
'it was not mixed with faith in them that heard,'
'the word itself was not quickened by the power of faith so as to effect its vital work.’ 

This can be likened to those who receive the word, but their heart is hard and not mixed with faith as in Matt 13:20,21:  "But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.   (KJV)

Did not prophet them
The familiar facts carry the thought of the reader beyond this negative result.  The word heard and not welcomed involved those to whom it was addressed in a tragic fate.


v 3 The present experience of Christians confirms the privilege of faith
v 4 The fact that the rest itself is already realized is witnessed by the record of creation 
v 4 The fact that the promise of the rest still remains is implied by the exclusion of the unfaithful from it 
v 6,7 And a fresh word of God points to the end not yet reached 

Greek Text according to G.R. Berry
For we enter into the rest who believed; as he has said, So I swore in my wrath if thy shall enter into my rest; though verily the from [the] foundation of [the] world was done.  For he has said somewhere concerning the seventh [day] thus, And rested God on the day seventh from all his works:  and in this [place] again, If they shall enter into my rest.  Since therefore it remains [for] some to enter into it, and those who formerly heard glad tidings did not enter in on account of disobedience,  again a certain he determines day, To-day, in David saying after so long a time, (according as it has been said,) To-day, if voice his ye will hear, harden not your hearts.

Translation of the Greek text by Westcott
For we that believe enter into the rest of God; even as He hath said, As I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest; although the works were finished from the foundation of the world,  For He hath said as we know (somewhere) of the seventh day on this wise: And God rested on the seventh day from all His works;  And in this place again:  They shall not enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some should enter into it, and they to whom the good tidings were before preached entered not in because of disobedience,  He again defineth a certain day, Today, saying in David, after so long a time as hath been said before, Today, if ye shall hear His voice, Harden not your hearts.

For we which have believed do enter into rest  -  eiserchometha gar eis teen katapausin hoi pisteusantes
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.  
Eiserchometha  -  categorical;  not "are entering"  or  "are on the way to,"   but entering into the rest  is a fact which characterizes us as believers.

The apostle assumes that actual experience establishes the reality of the promise and the condition of its fulfillment.
‘I speak without hesitation,’  he seems to say,  ‘of a promise left to us,  for we enter,  we are entering now, into the rest of Godwe that believed…’
The verb for  we  is not to be taken as a future, but as the expression of a present fact: John 14:3,18; Matt. 17:11; I Cor. 3:13; Col. 3:6.  Moreover the efficacy of faith is regarded in its critical action (believed ) and not, as might have been expected, in its continuous exercise (believing ). Compare Acts 4:32; 2 Thess. 1:10; I Cor. 15:2.

At the same time he does not say simply  ‘we enter in having believed’  (believed );  but he regards  ‘believers’  as a definite class who embraced the divine revelation when it was offered  (who believed ).  
Compare. Heb. 6:18 (who fled for refuge ).

Into my rest…]   not simply  ‘into rest’  but into the rest  of which the Psalmist spoke, ‘into the rest of God.’  The words of the Psalm, as used here,  prove that there is a rest and that it has not been attained.  It follows therefore, this the writer assumes,  that Christ has brought the rest within the reach of His people,  as indeed Christians know. 

As I have sworn
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" is the condition of entering into the rest.

Although the works were finished  -  kaitoi toon geneethentoon
This is an 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.

Although the works ( of God ) were finished ( done ) from the foundation of the world
Syriac:  "Although the works of God…. "
There was therefore no failure on the part of God.  The divine rest was prepared.  God Himself had entered into it, though it still remained that His people should share it according to His purpose.  Thus the rest was at once in the past and in the future.

The writer of the Epistle by this reference completes the conception of the promised rest.  ‘The rest of God,’  the rest which He had provided for His people, is no other in its last form than the rest which He Himself enjoyed.  Of this the earthly inheritance was only a symbol.

The quotations in these verses establish in detail the two conclusions found in the words quoted in v. 3:

v. 4 There is a rest already prepared 
v. 5 Israel did not enter into it 

What was implied in the preceding verse is now stated.

Of the seventh day
It has been remarked that  ‘the six days’  are defined in the record of creation by  ‘the evening and the morning,’ but to the seventh no such limits are given.

A rest not ending with the seventh day, but beginning then, and still continuing, into which believers enter. 
God's rest is a rest

not necessitated by fatigue, 
nor consisting in idleness,
but that upholding and governing of which creation was the beginning (Alford). 

(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Did rest from all his works  -  katepausen ... apo toon ergoon autou
The verb occurs in Hebrews and Acts 14:18.  "Works," plural,  following the Septuagint.  The Hebrew has "work."

And in this place again

The object of quoting this here seems to be two-fold:

(1) To show that even in this Psalm (Ps 95:3,11) God spoke of "his" rest, and said that they should not enter into it
(2)  It is connected with Heb 4:6, and is designed to show that it was implied that a rest yet remained. 

"That which deserves to be called "the divine rest" is spoken of in the Scriptures, and as "they" did not enter into it, it follows that it must be in reserve for some others, and that the promise must still remain."
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Again...]  on the other side.  The failure of those to whom the promise was originally made to attain it, is a second element in the argument.  there is a rest; and yet further it has not been realized by men.

It is a rest both present and future that depends not upon "works,"  but upon the faith of the believers
(from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press)

The rest was not appropriated by those under Moses, nor, in the full sense, by those under Joshua, nor in David's time.

It remaineth that some must enter therein  -  apoleipetai tinas eiselthen eis auteen
"Remains over from past times."  The promise has not been appropriated.  It must be appropriated in accordance with God's provision.  The rest was not provided for nothing.  God's provision of a rest implies and involves that some enter into it.  But the appropriation is yet in the future.  It  "remains"  that some enter in.

But when we recognized failure it is not that we acquiesce in it. The promise once made will have a fulfillment.
Some must enter into the rest: those who were formerly called did not enter through disobedience; therefore another time was afterwards fixed when believers might gain by ready self-surrender that which God still offered. 
The conditional terms are thus two and not one; for the second clause ( those who formerly heard. ) cannot be considered to be only explanatory of the first.

They to whom it was first preached   -  hoi proteron euangelisthentes
Literally, "they who were first the subjects of announcement of the glad tidings." 

They to whom the good tidings were before preached…. Only two generations are contemplated, that of Moses and that of Christ. The second generation of Israel who entered into Canaan are not considered to have received or enjoyed the fullness of the original promise.

Because of unbelief  -  di' apeitheian
Render for  "unbelief,"  "disobedience."  Compare Heb 3:18. 
Apeitheia "disobedience" is the active manifestation of apistia, "unbelief."  This is where we get our English word apathy.

Unbelief is manifested in disobedience (contrast 3:19).  The two are placed in close connection Rom. 11:20,30; compare John 3:36.

John 3:36
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life,  for God's wrath remains on him."   (NIV)

Again he limiteth a certain day  -  palin tina heemeran
For  "limiteth"  render  "defineth."  The meaning is,  He gives another opportunity of securing the rest, and calls the period in which the opportunity is offered "today."   (2 Cor 6:2)

The Holy Spirit through the writer of the Psalm (3:7 ) defines a certain day, ‘Today,’ saying….It seems more natural to take ‘Today’ as the explanation of  ‘a certain day,’ than to connect it with ‘saying’ as part of the quotation.

The term day signifies not only time in general, but also present time, and a particular space. 
Day here seems to have the same meaning as rest in some other parts of this verse. The day or time of rest relative to the ancient Jews being over and past,  and a long time having elapsed between God's displeasure shown to the disobedient Jews in the wilderness and the days of David.   Today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. God speaks now as he spoke before; his voice is in the Gospel as it was in the law. Believe, love, obey, and ye shall enter into this rest.
(from Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Biblesoft)

In David saying
Saying in the person of David, who was regarded as the author of the whole Psalter;  and not  ‘in the book of David’  ( the phrases in Elias Rom. 11:2, and  in Hosea Rom. 9:25, are not exactly parallel).  

The date of the composition of Psalm 95 is uncertain.  In the Septuagint (Ps 94) it is called a Psalm of David.  In the words  "in David"  the writer may adopt the Septuagint title, or may mean simply  "in the Psalms."  In the Hebrew the Psalm has no inscription.

After so long a time  -  meta tosouton chronon
The time between Joshua and David.  After this long interval he renews the promise in the Psalm.

As it is said  -  kathoos proeireetai
Render it: "as it hath been before said;"  referring to the citations, Heb 3:7-8,15.

That is, so long after the first promise was made; to wit, about 500 years (from Moses to the Psalm). These are the words of God through Paul calling attention to the fact that so long a time after the entrance into the promised land there was still a speaking of "today," as if even then they were called to partake of the rest.

To quote it exactly; or to bring the express authority of the Scriptures. It is expressly said even after that long time, "today-or now, if you will hear his voice." All this is to prove that even in that time there was an offer of rest.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)


Heb 4:8-10
(8)    For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
(9)    There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
(10)  For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

The words of the Psalmist convey also another lesson. In one sense it might be said that in the second generation those who were rescued from Egypt did enter into the rest which was refused to their fathers.  But Canaan was not the rest of God. The rest of God is a Sabbath rest which man also is destined to share, a rest after finished labor. Therefore the Psalmist, in the troubled rest of Canaan, still points his hearers to an end unattained.

Greek Text according to G.R. Berry
For if them Jesus gave rest, not concerning another would he have spoken afterwards day.  Then remains a sabbatism to the people of God.  For he that entered into his rest, also he rested from his works, as from his own God [did]. 

Translation of the Greek text by Westcott
For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken after this of another day.  There remaineth then a sabbath rest for the people of God.  For he that is entered into His rest hath himself also rested from his works as God did from His own.

For if……Jesus
For if Joshua - The Peshitta defines the name (Jesus):  Jesus the son of Nun….(but not in Acts 7:45).
Jesus   Ieesous - Render it: "Joshua".

"Jesus" is the Greek mode of writing "Joshua," and there can be no doubt that Joshua is here intended.

Gave rest
It might be said that under Joshua the people did enter into the promised rest. He therefore shows that Israel's rest in Canaan did not fulfill the divine ideal of the rest.

Afterward  -  meta tauta  -  After the entrance into Canaan under Joshua.

He would not have continued to speak after this, after so long a time (v. 7), of another day. It is assumed that if Joshua did not gain an entrance into the rest of God,  no later leader did up to the time of Christ.  No earthly rest indeed can be the rest of God  (11:9).

The apostle shows that, although Joshua did bring the children of Israel into the Promised Land, yet this could not be the intended rest, because long after this time the Holy Spirit, by David, speaks of this rest.
(from Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Biblesoft)

There remaineth therefore a rest
  -  ara sabbatismos 
"Remaineth," since in the days of neither Moses, Joshua, or David was the rest appropriated.  He passes over the fact that the rest had not been entered into at any later period of Israel's history.  Man's portion in the divine rest inaugurated at creation has never been really appropriated:  but "it still remaineth."  

This statement is justified by the new word for "rest"  which enters at this point,  instead of katapausis. Sabbatismos, the New Testament, the Septuagint, Greek and Roman Classical authors, signifies "a keeping Sabbath."  The Sabbath rest points back to God's original rest, and marks the ideal rest - the rest of perfect adjustment of all things to God,  such as ensued upon the completion of His creative work, when He pronounced all things good.  This falls in with the ground thought of the epistle, the restoration of all things to God's archetype.  The sin and unbelief of Israel were incompatible with that rest.  It must remain Unappropriated until harmony with God is restored.  The Sabbath-rest is the consummation of the new creation in Christ, through whose priestly mediation reconciliation with God will come to pass.

A sabbath rest, Syriac: To keep a Sabbath-rest - a rest which closes the manifold forms of earthly preparation and work (the Hexaemeron of human toil):  not an isolated sabbath but a sabbath-life. The change of term from gave rest is significant.

The Sabbath rest answers to the Creation as its proper consummation.  Such is the thought of Augustine at the end of his Confessions (13:35). Westcott. Pg. 98

After giving a brief parallel of the six days of Creation with the ages of the world, he closes with the striking conception of the ‘seventh day,’ the ‘Sabbath,’ passing into an eternal ‘Lord’s day’.

The Jewish teachers dwelt much upon the symbolical meaning of the Sabbath as prefiguring ‘the world to come.’ One passage quoted by Schoettgen and others may be given: ‘The people of Israel said: Lord of the whole world, show us the world to come. God, blessed be He, answered: such a pattern is the Sabbath’ (Jalk. Rub. P. 95,4).

In this connection the double ground which is given for the observance of the Sabbath,  the rest of God (Ex. 20:11) and the deliverance from Egypt (Deut. 5:15),  finds its spiritual confirmation.  The final rest of man answers to the idea of Creation realized after the Fall by Redemption
Israel was the type of the divine commonwealth. 

For the people of God  -  too laoo tou Theou
For the phrase see Rom 9:25; 11:1; 1 Peter 2:10, and compare "Israel of God,"  Gal 6:16.  The true Israel, who inherit the promise by faith in Christ.

From the certainty of another rest besides that seventh day of rest instituted and observed both before and after the fall, and besides that typical Canaan-rest which most of the Jews fell short of by unbelief; for the Psalmist has spoken of another day and another rest, whence it is evident that there is a more spiritual and excellent sabbath remaining for the people of God than that into which Joshua led the Jews:

A rest of grace, and comfort, and holiness, in the gospel state.
This is the rest wherewith the Lord Jesus  (our Joshua)  causes weary souls and awakened consciences to rest, and this is the refreshing.
A rest in glory, the everlasting sabbatism of heaven, which is the repose and perfection of nature and grace too, where the people of God shall enjoy the end of their faith and the object of all their desires.

(from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

Moses, the representative of the law, could not lead Israel into Canaan:
The law leads us to Christ; there its office ceases: 
It is Jesus, the antitype of Joshua, who leads us into the heavenly rest. 

This verse indirectly establishes the obligation of the Sabbath; for the type continues until the antitype supersedes it:

So legal sacrifices continued until the great antitypical sacrifice superseded it. 

As then the antitypical Sabbath rest will not be until Christ comes to usher us into it, the typical earthly Sabbath must continue until then. The Jews call the future rest the 'day which is all Sabbath.'
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

The English word rest occurs 11 times in Hebrews: 
katapausis  (kat-ap'-ow-sis)    to cease or desist - a cessation of activity - Physical Rest
1. 3:11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.
2. 3:18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?
3. 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
4. 4:3 For we which have believed do enter into rest,...
5. 4:3 ... 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.
6. 4:4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.
7. 4:5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
8. 4:8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
sabbatismos  (sab-bat-is-mos')   the "Sabbath" rest - God's rest - Spiritual Rest
9. 4:9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
katapausis  (kat-ap'-ow-sis)   to cease or desist - a cessation of activity - Physical Rest
10. 4:10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
11. 4:11 Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

The key to entering into His rest, is to cease from our own "flesh-works", and by faith, rest in the work of Christ. This will result in:

Present Spiritual rest in Christ
Future Eternal rest in Christ

For he that is entered into his rest  -  ho gar eiselthoon eis teen katapausin autou 
Whoever has once entered, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

For he that is entered (enters),  whoever has once entered,  into His rest, the rest of God (3:18; 4:1) 
The general statement gives the reason for the remarkable title which has been now given to the rest (a sabbatism ) by reference to v. 4.

The words may also be understood (though this seems to be less likely ) as unfolding the nature of the promised rest. The form of construction (into his rest ) marks the perfectness of the issue. The entrance and the rest are coincident and complete. Comp. Matt. 25:21,23.

The key to entering into His rest, is to cease from our own "flesh-works", and by faith, trust in the work of Christ.

He also hath ceased from his own works - kai autos katepausen apo toon ergoon autou
The statement is a general proposition: any one who has entered into God's rest has ceased from his works.

Rev 14:13
And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

As God did from His own works, from the works which, as far as man can conceive, correspond with His Nature, and which are spoken of as works, though wrought without toil. (Comp. I Cor. 3:8  - according his own labor)

Only in such a Sabbath-rest is found the counterpart of God's rest on the seventh day.

As God did from His  -  hoosper apo toon idioon ho Theos 
Render it:  "as God (did) from his own." 
Idioon  "own"  signifies more than mere possession. Rather, works "peculiarly" his own,  thus hinting at the perfect nature of the original works of creation as corresponding with God's nature and bearing His impress.  The blessing of the Sabbath-rest is thus put as a cessation from labors.  The basis of the conception is Jewish,  rest of the Sabbath being conceived as mere abstinence from labor, and not according to Christ's conception of the Sabbath, as a season of refreshment and beneficent activity  (Mark 2:27; John 5:17).  This is not the rabbinical conception of cessation of work, but rather of the cessation of the weariness and pain which accompany human labor. Compare Rev 14:13; 21:4; Luke 11:7; 18:5; Gal 6:17.
(from Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

The responsibility of those who have received the promise     (4:11-13) Top
Previous Section


Heb 4:11-13
(11)  Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
(12)  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged 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.
(13)  Neither 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.

Since the promise remains for Christians they must also heed the warning (v. 11). The Gospel must be received with a devotion which answers to the character of the Power by which it is offered (vv. 12,13).

Greek Text according to G.R. Berry
(Vs 11-13)   We should be diligent therefore to enter into that rest, lest after the same anyone example may fall of disobedience.  For living [is] the word of God and efficient, and sharper than every sword two-edged ,even penetrating to [the] division both of soul and spirit, of joints both and marrow’s, and [is] a discerner of [the] thoughts and intents of [the] heart.  And there is not a created thing unapparent before him; but all things [are] naked and laid bare to the eyes of him, with whom [is] our account.

Translation of the Greek text by Westcott
(Vs 11-13)   Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, that no one fall after the same example of disobedience.  For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and quick to judge the feelings and thoughts of the heart. And there is no creature that is not manifest in His sight, but all things are naked and laid open to the eyes of Him to whom we have to give account.

This promise of rest carries with it a special responsibility for the people of God.

Let us labor therefore  -  spoudasoomen oun 
"Give diligence,"  not  "hasten,"  which is the primary meaning.
According to Strong's Concordance, the word translated "labour' in the King James Version is actually:

to use speed
to make effort
be prompt
be earnest

(Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

That rest  -  ekeineen teen katapausin

The Sabbath-rest of God
Instituted at creation
Promised to the fathers
Forfeited by their unbelief
Remaining to us on the condition of faith

That rest of God which is characterized by such absolute blessedness (compare Matt. 7:22 in that day; John 11:49.

Lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief  
hina mee en too autoo tis hupodeigmati pesee tees apeitheias 
Render it:  "that no man fall in the same example of disobedience:"  the same as that in which they fell.

"Fall" is to be taken absolutely;   not,  "fall into the same example."   
"Example,"  -  Originally  "a sign"  which suggests something:  "a partial suggestion"  as distinct from  "a complete expression."  See Heb 8:5; 9:23.   Thus Christ's washing of the disciples' feet (John 13:15) was a "typical suggestion"  of the whole field and duty of ministry.   
It is not easy to give the exact force of   "in."   Strictly speaking,  the  "example of disobedience"  is conceived as that in which the falling takes place.  The fall is viewed in the sphere of example. Compare 2 Macc. 4:30; 1 Cor 2:7. 
(from Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Let us give diligence, strive earnestly ... because ‘the prize is noble and the peril is great.’  There is need of active exertion that we may secure what God has promised. 

That we may not fall in the manner of those who did not believe.   These two forms of rendering represent two possible interpretations of the words represented roughly by ‘falling into’ and ‘falling after’ the same example.

1st Interpretation:
Falling into  is a compressed expression for the same type of disobedience and thus exhibiting it. 
2nd Interpretation:
Falling after  (which is involved in this explanation)  ‘falling’  ‘perishing’ as opposed to ‘standing’ (compare I Cor. 10:12; Rom. 11:11),  describes the lesson presented by the fall.

Those who so fall become,  in their punishment,  an example like that offered by the Jews in the Wilderness:

an example of the fatal consequences of disobedience fitted to alarm others. 

Unbelief  (3:12)  is here seen in its practical issue (v. 6).  The word an   example  (hupodeigmati) occurs 2 Pet. 2:6  (‘an example to deter them’).   See also John 13:15;  and for a different use of the same word see Heb. 8:5.

The words of disobedience are placed at the end and isolated, so that attention is fixed and rests upon them (compare Heb. 9:15; 12:11).  The parallel suggested by the words was the more impressive when the Apostle wrote,  because the generation of the Exodus had borne much,  like the Hebrew Christians,  before they fell at last. And the spiritual trial of Jews and Christians was essentially the same.

Vs 4:11   (Amplified Translation)
Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter into that rest [of God] - to know and experience it for ourselves - that no one may fall or perish by the same kind of unbelief and disobedience [into which those in the wilderness fell].


The exhortation is enforced by reference to the character of the revelation which sets forth the  "rest"  of God.  The message of God which promises the rest and urges to seek it, is no dead, formal precept, but is instinct with living energy.

The word of God  -  ho ogos tou Theou   
That which God speaks through any medium.  The primary reference is to God's declarations concerning His rest.

The necessity of earnest effort lies in the character of the divine revelation. It is not ‘a vain thing for us: it is our life.’

The main thought in the description of   ‘the word of God’  is not that of punishment,  as it is taken by Chrysostom, but of its essential nature as it enters into,  permeates,  transforms,  every element in man.  There is no question of an external rest apart from the harmony of the believer with God or,  in the figure of v. 2,  apart from the vital union of the hearer with the word.  The rest is the consummation of that divine fellowship of which the life in Canaan was but a type.

Thus Philo also saw in the ‘perfect light’ of the seventh day a symbol of  ‘the light of virtue’  in which the soul finds true rest.

The five successive epithets (For living….efficient,……sharper…..two-edged……..discerner.) applied to ‘the word’ mark with increasing clearness its power to deal with the individual soul.  There is a passage step by step from that which is most general to that which is most personal.

Life is characterized by activity: the activity takes the special form of an internal examination, which reaches to the very foundations of our organization; and this is not physical only but inspired by a moral force, all-pervading, all-discerning, for it is indeed the force of God.

By ‘the word of God’ we must understand the word which He speaks through His messengers or immediately in the heart of each man.  Here the thought is in the first instance necessarily of the word spoken by the Son Who has again offered to man the rest of God.  (Compare John 12:48;  Deut. 18:18).  This sense is required by the whole course of the argument. 

3:7 says
3:15 in its being said 
4:2  we have had glad tidings announced……the word of the report
4:4 For he has said
4:7 in David saying
4:8 have spoken

It is not however surprising that the passage was commonly understood of the Personal Word by the early Church Fathers: eg. Eusebius Theoph. Cram. Cat. P. 460; Athanasius c. Ar. 11 35,72 etc.

The action of the word is regarded in relation to

(1) man  (v. 12)
(2) all created things

It deals with man in respect to

(a) his constitution, both immaterial and material
(b)  his activity, in feeling and reason

Quick and powerful  -  zoon kai energees
Note the emphatic position of zoon  (living).   "Living"  is the word of God,  since it is the word of  "the living God" (Heb 3:12).  Living in its essence. 

Efficient, and sharper
The Word - the revelation - of God is living,  not simply as ‘enduring for ever,’ but as having in itself energies of action. It partakes in some measure of the character of God Himself  (Heb. 3:12 God living; 10:31).

Acts 7:38 oracles living
John 6:63 the words which I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life
John 6:68 words of life eternal thou hast

With this ‘living word’ believers are incorporated.

The life of the Word is not only present, ............... but it is also vigorously manifested.
The activity of the Word is not intellectual only .... but moral:
It deals with conduct ............................................ as well as with knowledge.
And that not as an instrument merely ..................... but as a judge of moral issues.
It is shown in the power of the Word to lay open the innermost depths of human nature. 
The Word has unrivalled keenness: 
It pierces in fact to the most secret parts of man; 
It is sharper than the most formidable weapon of earthly warfare: 
It finds its way through every element of our earthly frame:
It scrutinizes the affections and thoughts of which our bodily members are the present organs.

Sharper than any two-edged sword  -  tomooteros huper pasan machairan distomon 
The word of God has an incisive and penetrating quality. It lays bare self-delusions and moral sophisms. For the comparison of the word of God or of men to a sword, see Ps 57:4; 59:7; 64:3; Eph 6:17.   Philo calls his Logos  "the cutter,"  as cutting chaos into distinct things, and so creating a kosmos

Two-edged  =  literally "two-mouthed."

In the Septuagint
always of a sword. See Judg 3:16; Ps 149:6; Prov 5:4; Sir. 21:3. 
In Greek and Roman Classical authors
of a cave with "a twofold mouth" (Sophocles "Philoct." 16); 
of double-branching" roads (Sophocles "Oed. Col." 900); 
of rivers with "two mouths" (Polyb. 34:10,5).

Stoma (mouth)  of the "edge" of a sword, Luke 21:24; Heb 11:34. 
Often in the Septuagint, as Gen 34:26; Josh 10:28,33,35,37,39; Judg 1:8. 
So occasionally in Greek and Roman Classical authors, as Homer, Iliad xv. 389. 

The image of the sharp cutting power (sharper) of the Word finds a striking parallel in a line of Phocylides. In this respect the word is compared with the sharpest of material arms, ‘the two-edged sword.’ Comp. Rev. 1:16,2:12. (Isa. 11:4, Hos. 6:5) Schoettgen quotes a Jewish saying to the effect that ‘he who utters the Shema is as if he held a two-edged sword.’

Even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of the joints and marrow 
achri merismou psuchees kai pneumatos harmoon te kai mueloon

The ‘dividing’ operation of  ‘the Word of God’ has been understood as reaching to the separation of soul from spirit, and of joints and marrow.   The Word of God analyses, lays bare, reveals in their true nature, reduces to their final elements, all the powers of man.  

It has been supposed that the first clause (both soul and spirit) depends on the second  ‘unto the division both of the joints and marrow of soul and spirit’;  and again that the second clause, understood metaphorically, explains the extent of the penetrative power of the Word ‘ unto the division of soul and spirit, yea, o both spiritual joints and marrow in that internal frame.’ 

The first of these interpretations presupposes a most unnatural construction; and the second is harsh and forced. It is more simple, and free from objection, to regard the two compound clauses as coupled by the soul, so that the first two terms taken together represent the immaterial elements in man; while the two which follow represent the material elements. Thus the four in combination offer a general view of the sum of man’s powers in his present organization. The divine revelation penetrates through all. No part of human nature is untouched by it.

Of joints and of marrow and bones, the most critical parts of the physical framework of man, and the inmost media of his physical force. 

Additional Note:   The origin and constitution of man.

The great mystery of the origin of man is touched in two passages of the Epistle which severally suggests two complementary theories which have been fashioned in a one-sided manner as Traducianism and Creationism.

Heb 7:10
For he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.  (NKJV)
Heb 12:9
Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?  (NKJV)

In Heb. 7:10 (compare v. 5) the force of the argument lies in the assumption that the descendants are included in the ancestor, in such a sense that his acts have force for them. So far as we keep within the region of physical existence the connection is indisputable. Up to this limit ‘the dead’ do indeed ‘rule the living.’ And their sovereignty witnesses to an essential truth which lies at the foundation of society. The individual man is not a complete self-centered being. He is literally a member in a body. The connection of the family, the nation, the race, belong to the idea of man, and to the very existence of man. This is what we call Traducianism.

But at the same time it is obvious that if this view gives the whole account of man’s being, he is a mere result. He is made as if were a mere layer - tradux - a parent stock, and owes to that his entire vital force.  He is bound in a system of material sequences, and so he is necessarily deprived of all responsibility. Thus another aspect of his being is given in Hebrews 12:9. Here a distinction is drawn between ‘the fathers of our flesh,’ of our whole physical organization, with its ‘life’ and ‘the Father of spirits,’ among which man’s spirit is of necessity included. 

There is then an element in man which is not directly derived by descent, thought it may follow upon birth. And in the recognition of this reality of individuality, of a personally divine kinsmanship, lies the truth of Creationism. We are not indeed to suppose that separate and successive creative acts call into existence the ‘spirits’ of single men. It is enough to hold that man was so made that in his children this higher element should naturally find a place on their entrance into the world.

That such an issue should ensue when the child begins his separate life is neither more nor less marvelous than that the power of vision should attend the adequate preparation of an organ of vision. So also, to continue the same illustration, the power of vision and the power of self-determination are modified by the organisms through which they act, but they are not created by them. The physical life and the spiritual life spring alike from the one act of the living God when He made man in His own image; through whatever steps, in the unfolding of time, the decisive point was reached when the organism, duly prepared, was fitted to receive the divine breath.

But without attempting to develop a theory of Generationism, as it may be called, as distinguished from Traducianism and Creationism, it is enough for us to notice that the writer of the Epistle affirms the two antithetic facts which represent the social unity of the race and the personal responsibility of the individual, the influence of common thoughts and the power of great men, the foundation of hope and the condition of judgment.

The analysis of man’s constitution given by implication in the Epistle corresponds with the fundamental division of Paul (I Thess. 5:23 body, soul, spirit).

The body is noticed both in its completeness (Heb. 10:5) and in respect of the conditions of its present manifestation (flesh, 5:7;10:20; 12:9; blood and flesh, 2:14). It is unnecessary to repeat what has been said in the notes on these passages. A comparison of Heb. 5:7 with Heb. 10:5 will place in a clear light the difference between ‘the body,’ which represents the whole the whole organization through which the growth and fullness of human life is represented according to the conditions under which it is realized (notice I Cor. 15:44 a body natural…..a body spiritual ), and the ‘flesh,’ which represents what is characteristic of our earthly existence under the aspect of its weakness and transitoriness and affinity with the material world.
The soul, the life (both of ), is an element in man which from the complexity of his nature may be very differently conceived of. His ‘life’ extends to two orders, 
the seen and the unseen
the temporal  and the eternal
the material and the spiritual

And according as one or the other is predominant in the thought of the speaker (both of ) may represent the energy of life as it is manifested under the present conditions of sense, or the energy of life which is potentially eternal.

So it is that we have ‘to gain our life,’ ‘our soul ‘ in the education of experience inspired by faith ( Heb. 10:39  But we…..of faith to saving soul - compare Matthew 10:39; 11:29; 16:25; Mk. 8:35; Lk. 9:24, 17:33; 21:19). In the sadness and disappointments and failures of effort (Heb. 12:3  in yours souls fainting ) we have ‘hope as anchor of the soul, entering into that which is within the veil’ (Heb. 6:19). And it is for the preservation of this harmonious sum of man’s vital powers that Christian teachers watch unweariedly (Heb. 13:17   watch for your souls ).

The Spirit - Little is said in this Epistle on the ‘spirit’  by which man holds converse with the unseen. Just as he has affinity by ‘the flesh’ with the animal world, so he has by ‘the spirit ‘ affinity with God. God is indeed  ‘the Father of spirits’ (Heb. 12:9),  and in His presence we draw near to ‘spirits of just men made perfect’ (Heb. 12:23).
These three elements have in themselves no moral character. They are of the nature of powers to be used, disciplined, coordinated, harmonized.  The expression of the moral character lies in ‘the heart’ is the typical center of personal life.  It is the ‘heart’ which receives its strong assurance by grace (Heb. 13:9). ‘Unbelief’ has its seat in ‘the heart’ (Heb. 3:12   a heart wicked of unbelief ).  In Christ we can approach God ‘with a true heart’ (Heb. 10:22   with a true heart),  offering Him the fullness of our individual being which we have realized for His service, having severally ‘had our hearts sprinkled form an evil conscience’ . See also Heb. 3:8,10,15; 4:7 (Ps. xcv. 8,10); 4:12; 8:10; 10:16 (Jer. 31:33).

For man has a sovereign power throned within him through which the divine law finds a voice. He has a ‘conscience’ whose judgments he can recognize as having final authority. He has ‘conscience of sins’ (Heb. 10:2). He knows that certain acts are evil and that he is responsible for them. In such a state he has an ‘evil conscience’ (Heb. 10:22; contrast Heb. 13:18   a good conscience ). The conscience feels the defilement of ‘dead works,’ which counterfeit the fruits of its righteous claims on man’s activity (Heb. 9:14); and it furnishes the standard of that perfection towards which man aspires (Heb. 9:9   as to conscience to perfect ).

Of the words which describe man’s intellectual faculties (‘understanding’) is found in a quotation in Heb. 8:10; 10:16 (Jer. 31:33).

A discerner  -  kritikos
The word carries on the thought of  "dividing."   From krinein - "to divide" or "to separate," - which runs into the sense of "judge,"  the usual meaning in the New Testament,  judgment involving the "sifting out" and "analysis" of evidence. 

Of the thoughts and intents of the heart  -  enthumeeseoon kai ennoioon kardias 
In every instance, both of the noun and of the verb, the sense is "pondering or thinking out." 
Render it as:  "the reflections." 

The enumeration of the constituent elements of man is followed by a notice of his rational activity as a moral being. Over this, over the feelings and thoughts of his heart,  the Word of God is fitted to exercise judgment.

The first word  (of thoughts)  refers to the action of the affections,
The second word (intents) to the action of the reason

Both ‘feelings’ and ‘thoughts’ are referred to ‘the heart,’ which represents the seat of personal, moral life. It is of interest to trace the use of the word through the Epistle: Heb. 3:8 (3:15; 4:7); 3:10,12; 8:10 (10:16); 10:22; 13:9.


From the word of God the writer proceeds to God himself as cognizant of all things; thus giving a second ground for the exhortation of Heb 4:11.  The thought of the pervading energy of the revelation of God in regard to man is now extended to that of the universal Providence of God with regard to all created beings. 

There is some difficulty as to the antecedent of the two pronouns ("before him", and "to the eyes of him" ).  They must evidently refer to the same subject; and since the subject in the second case is unequivocally personal (‘Him to Whom we must render account’), there can be little doubt that we must understand ‘God’ in both places, suggested by the compound subject of the former sentence, ‘the Word of God.’ Nor is there anything unnatural in the transition from the manifestation of God through His Word to His Person.
For (creature ) see Rom. 1:25; 8:39; 2 Cor. 5:17. 

The negative statement that nothing is hidden from the sight of God is supplemented by a positive statement that all things are stripped of every disguise which might conceal their true nature and brought by an overmastering power into full view before His eyes (laid bare ).

(End of Lesson Three)


Home First
Table of