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Hebrews 4:1

ESV Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.
NIV Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.
NASB Therefore, we must fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it.
CSB Therefore, since the promise to enter his rest remains, let us beware that none of you be found to have fallen short.
NLT God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it.
KJV 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.

What does Hebrews 4:1 mean?

This verse continues the line of thought from chapter 3. This is made clear by use of the word "therefore," meaning what follows is an application of what has come before. Chapter 3 used the example of Israel's failure in the desert. There, the people failed to fully trust in God, and as a result, an entire generation was denied entry into the Promised Land.

The "rest" mentioned is in the context of the prior example: Israel (Deuteronomy 25:19). This is not a metaphor for salvation, but for the promised inheritance of God's children (Deuteronomy 12:9–11). This is the "rest" which Christians must carefully seek to obtain, and which the faithless generation of Israel was denied (Psalm 95:7–11). Later verses will help to explain that this "rest" is not "relaxation," but rather a completion of work.

The critical message of this verse is that the promised rest is still available to Christians reading these words. The author uses a Greek word which is not cleanly translated into English. This is dokē, from the rook dokeo, meaning "to think, seem, or suppose." In other words, this message is being given lest the readers think they have missed out on the "rest" promised by God.

In other letters, the apostle Paul had to counter the false claim that the second coming of Christ had already occurred, leaving many Christians behind (2 Thessalonians 2:1–3; 2 Timothy 2:17–18). This letter to Hebrew Christians seeks to debunk a similar error.
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