What does Hebrews 4:5 mean?
ESV: And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.”
NIV: And again in the passage above he says, 'They shall never enter my rest.'
NASB: and again in this passage, 'THEY CERTAINLY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.'
CSB: Again, in that passage he says, They will never enter my rest.
NLT: But in the other passage God said, 'They will never enter my place of rest.'
KJV: And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
NKJV: and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.”
Verse Commentary:
The prior verse pointed out that God's rest from creation is ongoing. Despite the claims of some false teachers (2 Thessalonians 2:1–3; 2 Timothy 2:17–18), the opportunity to obtain our spiritual inheritance is not closed off. In fact, Scripture encourages us to seek that inheritance "rest" with urgency (Hebrews 3:13–15; Psalm 95:7–8). Those who were cut off from their inheritance, such as Israel in the desert (Numbers 13—14), suffered loss due to disobedience, not a deadline (Hebrews 3:16–19).

This is part of a chain of arguments culminating in verse 10. The promise of God's inheritance for His people is still available, for those who will trust and obey. God rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:2) after completing His creation work. Israel was offered "rest" in the form of the Promised Land, but fell short because they did not complete the work they were given (Psalm 95:7–11). Since the Scriptures speak of seeking this rest "today," meaning long after Israel's disobedience, this promise is still available to us. Salvation (John 6:39–40), however, is not the same as our inheritance (Revelation 2:26–27).
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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