Hebrews 4:1-11



The warning of 3:12 is now repeated


The rest was not attained by the generation that left Egypt.

The rest was not completed by the generation that entered Canaan.


The first generation left Egypt with the intention of going to Canaan, but they did not finish what they started.


POINT:  Just because you begin the journey or just because you leave for a destination does not mean you complete the journey nor does it mean you arrive at your desired destination.  Here in these verses leaving Egypt does not guarantee arriving in the promised land.


The first words in the Greek are “Let us fear.”  This position places emphasis on the verb.  The Greek word for fear is “phobos” “qoboV”.  The use of “fear” here is stronger than the warning and use of “blepete” or “’See to it” in 3:12.

φοβηθωμεν      ουν         μηποτε     καταλειπομενης       επαγγελιας         εισελθειν
Let us fear      therefore    lest           being left                     a promise          to enter

εις     την     καταπαυσιν     αυτου     δοκη          τις       εξ       υμων                  υστερηκεναι
into    the          rest              of him    seems   anyone   of        you               to have come short

The use of  καταλειπομενης       επαγγελιας or “being left a promise” ties the Exodus generation’s promise and experience to the readers of Hebrews.   The promise is in the word of God that has been heard.


The use of “υστερηκεναι” or “to have come short” or “to have fallen short” is also used in other Greek writings.  It is used in Asia Monor in reference to a man who had failed his duty of attending the temple of Apollo.  He was found to have fallen short of the expectations of a worshiper of Apollo.


Promises” or “promise” is used in 6:12, 15, 17; 6:13; 7:6; 8:6; 9:15; 10:23, 36; 11:9, 11, 13, 17, 33, 49; 12:26  



The word “gospel” is the word “good news” from


και     γαρ        εσμεν                 ευηγγελισμενοι                                        καθαπερ     κακεινοι    αλλ     

For   indeed    we are     having had the good news preached              even as       those also  but

ουκ        ωφελησεν   ο      λογος      της        ακοης          εκεινους     μη     συγκεκραμενους 

not          profit         the     word                      of hearing      those        but    having been mixed together

 τη     πιστει       τοις             ακουσασιν
        with faith    in the            hearing


The Israelites had heard the “good news” or a promise of entering the promise land but they did not  believe so they could not act accordingly.


We have also heard “good news” or a promise of salvation and newness of life through Jesus.  We must believe it so we can act accordingly.



Notice “we who have believed” is past tense but “enter that rest” is present tense.

This means that those who have believed in the past have already begun the process which is currently being fulfilled.  The rest is not something in the future.


There is a huge difference between saying “we who have believed” or saying “we who do believe”.  The second “believe” in the present tense would make it seem like something other than the point of salvation.


Then switching from the rest of the wilderness to the rest after God’s work of creation we see that the author is talking about a rest that occurs after the work is done.

God rested when he finished creation.  We rest when we finish salvation upon faith in Christ.


The readers were being warned of not taking full advantage of the rest that was theirs in Christ.

Matthew 11:28-30


Speaking of God’s rest here brings home the point that God’s rest is available.

Since God is at rest then it must be assumed that this rest does exist and is real.

By saying that God rested on the seventh day the author is saying that this rest has been available to men since that time.



1)     The rest of God has been available at least since the seventh day

2)     The rest of God does exist since God is there

3)     The rest of God is still available in 1400 BC, 1000 BC, today in 68 AD and today in our lives.


John 5:17 Jesus response to those accusing him of working on the Sabbath by saying:

“My Father is working still, and I am working.”  Jesus point was that although God’s Sabbath rest began after the sixth day of creation was finished God did not stop working.  Just because God entered rest does not mean he stopped working.  So, since God is at rest and still works, Jesus is allowed to continue work even on the day of rest.





God offers us the chance to enter the rest which he himself enjoys.



The rest is available but no one took advantage of it in the wilderness.


Their disobedience was the result of unbelief as in 3:19



Therefore, this rest is still available in 1000 BC and also today



Some would argue that Joshua succeeded in giving them rest.

But, the author here says no because if they had then all of Israel would have had that rest in 1000 BC when Psalm 95 was written.  Since, Psalm 95 was written while Israel was in the promise land it is hard to think that the rest that was lost by Moses’ generation was attained by Joshua’s generation.



Sabbath rest means God’s rest



Entering God’s rest means you “rest from his own work.”

his own work” refers to a man’s work of completing God’s plan:

1)     Salvation – no works are needed.  The works required to fulfill God’s will are done with faith in Jesus.

2)     Eternity – when a man’s work is finished on earth (Rev. 14:13 – “they may rest from their labors; for their deeds (“work”) follow them.”



Let us, therefore, make every effort


σπουδασωμεν             ουν                 εισελθειν                    εις                εκεινην              την

let us be eager          therefore          to enter                        into                 that

καταπαυσιν           ινα  μη        εν     τω      αυτω      τις              υποδειγματι

      rest                     lest           in      the    same    anyone         example

πεση           της            απειθειας

falls                        of disobedience


σπουδασωμεν” or let us be eager” means “to be in a hurry, to make haste, to be in earnest, to concentrate one’s energies on the achievement of a goal, to endeavor.


ουν” or “therefore” means to draw a logical conclusion from the preceding information.

How do they enter the rest (now and eternal)?  Trust Jesus.