Hebrews 4 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Hebrews 4)

Verse 2

[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.

But the word which they heard did not profit them - So far from it, that it increased their damnation. It is then only when it is mixed with faith, that it exerts its saving power.

Verse 3

[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.

For we only that have believed enter into the rest - The proposition is, There remains a rest for us. This is proved, Hebrews 4:3-11, thus: That psalm mentions a rest: yet it does not mean, 1. God's rest from creating; for this was long before the time of Moses. Therefore in his time another rest was expected, of which they who then heard fell short Nor is it, 2. The rest which Israel obtained through Joshua; for the Psalmist wrote after him. Therefore it is, 3. The eternal rest in heaven.

As he said — Clearly showing that there is a farther rest than that which followed the finishing of the creation.

Though the works were finished — Before: whence it is plain, God did not speak of resting from them.

Verse 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.

For, long after he had rested from his works, he speaks again. Genesis 2:2.

Verse 5

[5] And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.

In this psalm, of a rest yet to come.

Verse 7

[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.

After so long a time — It was above four hundred years from the time of Moses and Joshua to David.

As it was said before — St. Paul here refers to the text he had just cited.

Verse 8

[8] For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.

The rest — All the rest which God had promised.

Verse 9

[9] There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

Therefore — Since he still speaks of another day, there must remain a farther, even an eternal, rest for the people of God.

Verse 10

[10] For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

For they do not yet so rest. Therefore a fuller rest remains for them.

Verse 11

[11] Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Lest any one should fall — Into perdition.

Verse 12

[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.

For the word of God — Preached, Hebrews 4:3.

Is living and powerful — Attended with the power of the living God, and conveying either life or death to the hearers.

Sharper than any two-edged sword — Penetrating the heart more than this does the body.

Piercing — Quite through, and laying open.

The soul and spirit, joints and marrow — The inmost recesses of the mind, which the apostle beautifully and strongly expresses by this heap of figurative words.

And is a discerner — Not only of the thoughts, but also of the intentions.

Verse 13

[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.

In his sight — It is God whose word is thus "powerful:" it is God in whose sight every creature is manifest; and of this his word, working on the conscience, gives the fullest conviction.

But all things are naked and opened — Plainly alluding to the sacrifices under the law which were first flayed, and then (as the Greek word literally means) cleft asunder through the neck and backbone; so that everything both without and within was exposed to open view.

Verse 14

[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.

Having therefore a great high priest — Great indeed, being the eternal Son of God, that is passed through the heavens - As the Jewish high priest passed through the veil into the holy of holies, carrying with him the blood of the sacrifices, on the yearly day of atonement; so our great high priest went once for all through the visible heavens, with the virtue of his own blood, into the immediate presence God.

Verse 15

[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.

He sympathizes with us even in our innocent infirmities, wants, weaknesses, miseries, dangers.

Yet without sin — And, therefore, is indisputably able to preserve us from it in all our temptations.

Verse 16

[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.

Let us therefore come boldly — Without any doubt or fear. Unto the throne of God, our reconciled Father, even his throne of grace - Grace erected it, and reigns there, and dispenses all blessings in a way of mere, unmerited favour.