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Hebrews chapter 4

New International Version

1 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. 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.
3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, 'So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'' And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: 'On the seventh day God rested from all his works.' 5 And again in the passage above he says, 'They shall never enter my rest.'
6 Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience,
7 God again set a certain day, calling it 'Today.' This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: 'Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.'
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
English Standard Version

1 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. 2 For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world.
4 For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5 And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.”
6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
King James Version

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. 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. 3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 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. 5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. 6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 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.
11 Let us labour 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 twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 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. 14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
New American Standard Bible

1 Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.
3 For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, 'AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST,' although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: 'AND GOD RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY FROM ALL HIS WORKS'; 5 and again in this passage, 'THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.' 6 Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience,
7 He again fixes a certain day, 'Today,' saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, 'TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.'
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. 9 So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
New Living Translation

1 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. 2 For this good news--that God has prepared this rest--has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn't share the faith of those who listened to God.
3 For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said, 'In my anger I took an oath: 'They will never enter my place of rest,'' even though this rest has been ready since he made the world. 4 We know it is ready because of the place in the Scriptures where it mentions the seventh day: 'On the seventh day God rested from all his work.' 5 But in the other passage God said, 'They will never enter my place of rest.'
6 So God's rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God.
7 So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted: 'Today when you hear his voice, don't harden your hearts.'
8 Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. 9 So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. 10 For all who have entered into God's rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. 11 So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.
12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
Christian Standard Bible

1 Therefore, since the promise to enter his rest remains, let us beware that none of you be found to have fallen short. 2 For we also have received the good news just as they did. But the message they heard did not benefit them, since they were not united with those who heard it in faith.
3 For we who have believed enter the rest, in keeping with what he has said, So I swore in my anger, "They will not enter my rest," even though his works have been finished since the foundation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in this way: And on the seventh day God rested from all his works. 5 Again, in that passage he says, They will never enter my rest. 6 Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news did not enter because of disobedience,
7 he again specifies a certain day-- today. He specified this speaking through David after such a long time: Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 Therefore, a Sabbath rest remains for God's people. 10 For the person who has entered his rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us then make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience.
12 For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 No creature is hidden from him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens--Jesus the Son of God--let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.

What does Hebrews chapter 4 mean?

Hebrews chapter 4 echoes a theme common to other portions of the New Testament. In other epistles, Paul counters various false teachers who claim that Christians have permanently missed out on some aspect of their Christian experience. Often, this was a claim that Jesus' second coming had already occurred (2 Thessalonians 2:1–3; 2 Timothy 2:17–18). In Chapter 3, the writer of Hebrews warned the reader not to miss out on the "rest" offered by God, due to disobedience (Hebrews 3:12–13). Here, he seems to be reassuring those same readers that the opportunity to obtain this rest has not passed them by (Hebrews 4:1).

Chapter 3 focused on Israel's failure to trust God at the borders of Canaan. This disobedience was inspired by a lack of faith in God—fear over the task at hand caused Israel to stumble. As a result, an entire generation was condemned to wander the desert rather than enter the Promised Land (Numbers 13—14). The point made in chapter 3 is that disobedience led to a loss of inheritance. This is not about loss of salvation—Israel was not sent back to Egypt. Rather, they missed out on the greater rewards. This difference is also found elsewhere in the New Testament, where peace with God leading to salvation (Romans 5:1) is not the same as peace of God which comes by obedience (Philippians 4:6–8). It is also seen in the promise of Christ to save all who come to Him in faith (John 6:39–40), even as He offers greater rewards to those who "hold fast" to their faith (Revelation 2:26–27).

In this chapter, the writer points out once again that it was disobedience, not a deadline, which caused Israel's suffering. Long after Moses and Joshua approached Canaan, writers such as David encouraged the people of Israel to enter the "rest" offered by God (Psalm 95). Logically, this means that the "rest" provided when Joshua took Canaan was not a one-time opportunity, or something no longer available (Hebrews 4:8).

The real problem for Israel at Canaan was a failure to obey God, due to fear. According to the writer of Hebrews, God only rested when He had completed His creative work (Hebrews 4:3–4). Israel only forfeited their rest in Canaan when they failed to complete the tasks given them by God (Hebrews 4:6). So, in a very literal sense, the "rest" offered by God is not about relaxation or leisure. It is about the rewards which come once we have "rested from", or "completed" the works we are assigned (Hebrews 4:9–10). This means saved Christians ought to make every effort to obey God while we still can (Hebrews 4:11).

Key to our ability to complete our work is the Word of God, specifically the written Scriptures (Hebrews 4:12). Human nature makes it easy to confuse selfish piety with true godliness (Matthew 7:21–23). We can fool others (1 Samuel 16:7), and even ourselves (Jeremiah 17:9), but not God (Hebrews 4:13). Like a razor-sharp knife, the "living and active" Bible can distinguish even those things we think are inseparable. This is important, since all of our thoughts and actions will be judged by God (Matthew 12:36).

Unique to the Christian faith, however, is our relationship with God. According to the Bible, the One who judges us has a powerful sympathy for our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). Not only has Christ experienced our suffering, temptation, and struggle (Philippians 2:8), He has done so without falling to sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 3:5; 1 Peter 1:19). This makes Him our perfect example (Hebrews 2:10), and our perfect sacrifice (Hebrews 2:14). It also gives us confidence to approach Him in prayer. Since He knows, first-hand, what it means to be human, He understands our flaws (Hebrews 2:18). We don't have to be afraid to bring Him our fears, failures, and needs (Hebrews 4:16).

This chapter refers to Joshua, who eventually led Israel into Canaan. According to Hebrews chapter 4, God gives those who obey Him everything needed to accomplish their assigned tasks. Joshua obeyed God and found Christ was on his side—literally (Joshua 5:13–15). Unlike those who fell into disbelief, Joshua exemplified the ultimate results of confident faith.