What does Hebrews 4:1 mean?
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.
NKJV: Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
Hebrews 4:1–13 reassures Christians that they have not missed their opportunity to enjoy the ''rest'' promised by God. Chapter 3 warned about the dangers of losing faith and disobeying God. In this passage, the writer points out that psalmists like David, who came long after Moses, encouraged Israel to obtain God's rest ''today.'' Since God's rest on the seventh day of creation came only after His work was done, and Israel only suffered loss when they failed to complete their assigned work, Christians should strive to complete the work given them by God, in order to obtain the greater heavenly rewards. The most potent tool we have in this effort is the razor-sharp Word of God.
Chapter Summary:
In Hebrews chapter 4, the author refines the theme of chapter 3. An entire generation of Israel lost out on their inheritance of the Promised Land due to a lack of faith. Here, the author points out that the rest promised by God is still offered, through Christ. The razor-sharp truth of the Word of God will separate what is truly spiritual from what is faithless. We should make every effort to obtain our inheritance in Christ, which is something separate from our eternal salvation. We can also be confident, knowing Jesus can uniquely sympathize with our temptations and sufferings.
Chapter Context:
Chapters 1 and 2 explained how Messiah could not be an angel, but had to be human in order to become our example and the ''Captain'' of our salvation. Chapter 3 described Jesus as worthy of greater glory than Moses, since Jesus fulfilled the promises Moses only spoke of. Chapter 4 will continue to place Jesus as a higher example than Old Testament figures, including Joshua. This chapter bridges the focus of Hebrews from our need to ''hold fast'' in faith to Jesus' status as our ultimate High Priest.
Book Summary:
The book of Hebrews is meant to challenge, encourage, and empower Christian believers. According to this letter, Jesus Christ is superior to all other prophets and all other claims to truth. Since God has given us Christ, we ought to listen to what He says and not move backwards. The consequences of ignoring God are dire. Hebrews is important for drawing on many portions of the Old Testament in making a case that Christ is the ultimate and perfect expression of God's plan for mankind. This book presents some tough ideas about the Christian faith, a fact the author makes specific note of.
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