New Defender's Study Bible Notes
4:2 the gospel. The “gospel” is not just a New Testament revelation, for it was preached to the children of Israel in the wilderness, in types and prophecies at least. In fact, it is “the everlasting gospel” (Revelation 14:6-7), and the first promise of redemption (Genesis 3:15) is commonly known as the protevangel (first gospel). In its essence, the gospel (good news) is the message that the Creator is also our Redeemer and coming King and that true faith in Him—faith which produces salvation—will also produce loving obedience to His Word.
4:2 mixed with faith. It is vital to “hear” the Word, but then it is necessary to “believe” it as well. Note John 5:24; James 1:22.
4:3 if they shall. The sense of “if they shall” is “they shall not.”
4:3 works were finished. God’s works of creation were finished at the end of the six days of creation week (Genesis 2:1-3). He is not still creating, as the theistic evolutionist must allege. Thus the natural processes we can study in operation today are not processes of creation; rather, they are processes of conservation and disintegration, as enunciated in the universally applicable First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics, respectively. Furthermore, the works of creation were finished “from the foundation of the world,” not several billion years later, after the supposed geological ages took place. In effect, these completed works of creation actually constituted the foundation of the world. The idea of evolution, if regarded as God’s method of creation is thus a totally false doctrine and a destructive heresy.
4:4 rest the seventh day. This truth is not only quoted from Genesis 2:2, but also is emphasized in Exodus 20:11, as the basis of the Fourth Commandment. It is clear in all these passages that the days of creation week were literal days, not vague ages of indefinite duration and termination. On the seventh day, God rested from His works of creation, though not from His ongoing work of “conservation” (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:17) and, later, His work of redemption, which He undertook when sin and death entered the world. Of these, Jesus said: “My father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17). The work of redemption—at least the work of paying the price of redemption—was then completed on the cross, when Christ cried out: “It is finished!” (John 19:30). He also rested from this work when He “sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3).
4:7 saying in David. See Psalm 95:7.
4:8 Jesus. Most expositors understand this to mean “Joshua,” since “Jesus” is a Greek form of “Joshua,” who is otherwise never mentioned by name in the New Testament. It is also possible to understand this as actually referring to the Lord Jesus Christ, who before His incarnation may have been revealed as “the angel of His presence” (Isaiah 63:9). “In His love and in His pity, He redeemed them,” as He led them into the promised land under Joshua. In any case, this was not the ultimate “rest” God had promised His people, as the next verses show.
4:9 a rest. The “rest” in this verse is not the rest mentioned so frequently in this section. Rather it is “sabbath rest,” from the Greek sabbatismos, occurring only this once in the New Testament. Thus the people of God not only may enjoy the spiritual rest promised by Christ in this life (e.g., Matthew 11:28) but also may look forward to the eternal rest in the new earth which was typified by a weekly Sabbath rest in Israel. The latter not only commemorated the completed work of creation but also anticipated the completed work of redemption and reconciliation. That coming rest will not be one of inaction, of course, for “His servants shall serve Him” there (Revelation 22:3), but rather one of perfect fellowship with God and freedom from the presence of sin. Our present weekly “rest” on the Lord’s Day continues this observance even more effectively than the sabbatismos of Israel, for it commemorates both His creation and His resurrection, the two finished works of Christ, until He comes again.
4:10 God did from his. Note again that God “ceased from His works” of creation, and thus creation is no longer taking place, save in occasional special miracles. In analogous fashion, the believer now enters into rest (not the sabbatismos rest which still “remaineth”), but the immediate spiritual rest (Greek katapausis) received right now, when we cease trying to work for our salvation and receive the finished work of Christ by faith.
4:11 labour. The word “labour” here means, “be diligent.” We do not work to enter into His rest, for that is the very theme of this section, but rather believe with confidence in His Word and His work. This faith will result in good works (Ephesians 2:10) as evidence of the reality of our faith (James 2:18), but it is not the works that save us.
4:12 word of God. Both the written Word (the Scriptures) and the living Word (the Lord Jesus Christ) would satisfy the statements in this verse, but the over-all context would indicate that the Scriptures are primarily in view (note Hebrews 4:2; also Hebrews 5:12-13; plus the fact that so many quotations from the Old Testament appear in Hebrews). The Scriptures indeed are “quick and powerful”—that is, “living and energizing,” able to impart to the reader both spiritual life and power (II Timothy 3:15-17).
4:12 two-edged sword. The “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17), is in reference to each individual “saying” of God, used as appropriate.
4:12 soul and spirit. There is a distinction between a person’s “soul” and his “spirit,” but they operate so much in concert that only the Scriptures can discern between them. The soul is probably the entity of conscious life and thought shared with animals, except that it is much more highly organized and complex in man, whereas the spirit is the entity that can be energized by the Holy Spirit, uniquely the “image of God” in man. Thus the soul and spirit seem to answer respectively to the “living and energizing” attributes of the Word. Note that man is indicated to be a tri-unity of “spirit and soul and body” in I Thessalonians 5:23, analogous in some respects to the divine Trinity. As far as the body is concerned, the sword of the Spirit can even divide between joints and marrow (again perhaps answering analogously to soul and spirit). The bone structure of the body is its skeletal framework; the “marrows” in these bones (the Greek is in the plural) constitute the engine that maintains the physical life of the body by producing its red blood corpuscles. In the original language, the relation between soul and spirit is illustrated by that between joints and marrow. That is, the sense can be taken as follows: “The sword of the Spirit pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, even as a fine two-edged surgical knife in proper hands can separate the marrow from the bone joints containing it.”
4:15 tempted like as we are. In His humanity, Jesus was tested in all points like as we are, except for sin. This does not mean He was tempted to commit all kinds of sins, but rather that He was tested and proved in every way. He could not actually have sinned because: (1) He is God, and “God cannot be tempted with evil” (James 1:13); (2) He is “the same, yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8) so that, even in His humanity, He did not cease to be God; (3) because of His miraculous conception, He had no innate sin, so that “in Him is no sin” (I John 3:5); (4) He did not need, as other men, to be converted, telling Nicodemus: “ye must be born again” (John 3:7)—not “we,” or “they;” (5) God cannot fail in His creative purpose, because He is both omniscient and omnipotent; if Jesus had sinned, salvation would have been impossible, and the Creator would have been defeated by Satan, a mere creature; this could not have been possible. Nevertheless, even though He knew (as did His Father) that He could not sin, men and angels did not know this until it had been demonstrated to them. That is why He had to be tested as proof positive.
4:16 find grace. We need mercy for the forgiveness of our sins and grace with which to meet and overcome our trials.