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Hebrews 4:1-11

Victor M. Eskew




A.  The section begins and ends with “let us” exhortations.

1.    Let us therefore fear… (Heb. 4:1).

2.    Let us labour therefore… (Heb. 4:11).


B.   The word “rest” is the key word in this text.

1.    It is used nine (9) times in this section (Heb. 4:1, 3(2), 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, and 11).

2.    Definitions:

a.    katapausis

1)     Strong (2663):  reposing down, that is, (by Hebraism) abode

2)    Thayer:  a resting place, metaphysically the heavenly blessedness in which God dwells, and of which he has promised to make persevering believers in Christ partakers after the toils and trials of life on earth are ended.

b.    Sabbatismos

1)     Strong (4520):  the repose of Christianity (as a type of heaven)

2)    Thayer:  the blessed rest from toils and troubles looked for in the age to come by the true worshippers of Christ and for Christians


C.  There are three rests mentioned in this section:

1.    God’s resting on the seventh day (Heb. 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.


2.    The rest of Canaan (Heb. 4:8)


For if Jesus (Joshua) had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.


3.    The heavenly rest for the Christian (Heb. 4:9)


There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.


D.  Some important facts about our rest:

1.    It involves fear (Heb. 4:1).

2.    It is promised (Heb. 4:1).

3.    It is “his,” God’s, rest (Heb. 4:1).

4.    One can come short of the rest (Heb. 4:1).

5.    It involves belief (Heb. 4:3).

6.    It remains to be entered into (Heb. 4:6, 9).

7.    When one rests, he ceases from his works (Heb. 4:10).

8.    One must labor to enter into rest (Heb. 4:11).


E.   Outline


                                         i.    THE EXHORTATION (Heb. 4:1-2)

                                        ii.    THE EXAMPLES (Heb. 4:3-10)

                                       iii.    THE EFFORT (Heb. 4:11)


I.         REST INVOLVES FEAR (Heb. 4:1)


Let us therefore fear…


A.  There are two sides of this fear spoken of here:

1.    There is the element of terror, that is, to be struck with alarm, and to be seized by terror.

2.    There is the element of reverence, and awe of God.  One referred to it as a “reverential obedience” (Thayer, e-sword).


B.   There are some who have no fear of God it seems.

1.    Romans 3:18


There is no fear of God before their eyes.


2.    One of the thieves on the cross exhibited no fear of God and was rebuked by the other thief (Luke 23:39-41).


And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.  But the other answering, rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou are in the same condemnation?  And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds:  but this man hath done nothing amiss.


C.  Many passages of Scripture exhort us to fear God

1.    Matt. 10:28; II Cor. 7:1; I Pet. 2:17; 3:2; Rev. 14:6-7; 15:4


And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul:  but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.


2.    How do we show “fear” in our lives?  Praise (Rev. 19:5); obedience, trust, work, refraining from evil


D.  Comments:

1.    “When men fear God, the punishment that awaits the disobedient, and the wrath that will be poured out upon those who, having once been enlightened and have turned again to the world, it will serve as a strong motivation for faithful service in His kingdom….Yes, there is a place for fear in Christianity” (Wacaster, 135).

2.    “…it is the fear which makes him put every ounce of strength he possess in the great effort not to miss the one thing that is worthwhile” (Barclay, 38)

3.    “The kind of ‘fear’ which is recommended here is what leads to caution and care.  A man who is in danger of losing his life or health should be watchful; a seaman that is in danger of running on a lee-shore should be on his guard.  So we who have the offer of heaven, and who are in danger of losing it, should take all possible precautions lest we fail of it” (Barnes, e-sword).