Faith and Obedience
Hebrews 4:6-16.

As we have already mentioned, Hebrews, as well as the rest of the Epistles, has a very strong emphasis on the necessity of the Christian thinking God’s thoughts after Him, and working for God’s victory through the application of His law-word. That is why it is not as popular a book as are other New Testament books; it calls on the Believers to “work out their own salvation”. Belief means obedience to the law-word of God.

V. 9: “There remaineth therefore a rest for the people of God.”

A sabbath rest (saßßat?sµ??). Late word fromsaßßat??? {#Ex 16:30?} to keep the Sabbath, apparently coined by the author (a doubtful passage in Plutarch). Here it is parallel with ?atapa?s??. {cf. #Re 14:13?}(RWP)

There remaineth “A keeping of a Sabbath.”


V. 9. There remaineth therefore a rest (ara apoleipetai sabbatismov). Remaineth, since in the days of neither Moses, Joshua, or David was the rest appropriated. He passes over the fact that the rest had not been entered into at any later period of Israel's history. Man's portion in the divine rest inaugurated at creation has never been really appropriated: but it still remaineth. This statement is justified by the new word for "rest" which enters at this point, sabbatismov instead of katapausiv, N.T.o , o LXX, o Class., signifies a keeping Sabbath. The Sabbath rest points back to God's original rest, and marks the ideal rest - the rest of perfect adjustment of all things to God, such as ensued upon the completion of his creative work, when he pronounced all things good. This falls in with the ground-thought of the Epistle, the restoration of all things to God's archetype. The sin and unbelief of Israel were incompatible with that rest. It must remain unappropriated until harmony with God is restored. The Sabbath-rest is the consummation of the new creation in Christ, through whose priestly mediation reconciliation with God will come to pass.
For the people of God (tw law tou qeou). For the phrase see Romans ix. 25; xi. 1; 1 Pet. ii. 10. and comp. Israel of God, Gal. vi. 16. The true Israel, who inherit the promise by faith in Christ.

(Emp added. Vincent’s NT Word Studies.


There remaineth… The rest in given to man at creation was conditioned upon obedience to the Word of God. Adam’s disobedience lost that rest. Therefore, the promised rest still remains to be appropriated by man.

The Sabbath rest points to God’s original and ideal rest. That rest must be appropriated by the “perfect adjustment of all things to God”, as seen when God pronounced “all things good”.

The rest that remaineth is completed in the creation of the new man through the mediation work of Christ Jesus. Only through Christ can man be restored into harmony with his Creator. The new, recreated man fulfills the “creation mandate” as he subdues all things to the Father through Christ’s mediation work.

Because of sin and umbelief, Israel of old failed in their rest, and perished in the wilderness.

The Epistles tell us how that harmony is restored through the reconciliation of man with God through Christ. Christ restores all things to the Father through his people, so they can enter into that rest.

Philippians 2:12 “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Work for rest! It means that Christians are to work in every area of life and thought, every activity, every sphere of life to bring those areas into captivity to Christ. The result is that Christ will be King over all the nations through his ambassadors. He will be Lord of all, and there will be rest through him in every area that is “subdued” to his Law-Word. The result will be that only one enemy will remain to be destroyed, death. The Hebrews’ sabbath rest means the restoration of the Dominion over the earth that the first Adam failed in.

Mark 2:27 “And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: 28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.”

Our Lord did not make the sabbath man centered. God's rest in Genesis 2:2 refers both the completion of his "good" work of creation, and to the perfection of all his being and works. In him, the curse of work is removed, and that work that is done for the glory of God in our calling becomes a rest and a joy:

Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

God’s weekly Sabbath was made for man to find rest from his work for the Glory of God in the other six days. For the believer, hard work in his calling under God is not “hard labour.” In fact, he should find that hard work difficult to lie aside on the one day.

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

Hebrews 3:17 “But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.“

Rest is compared to a land like Canaan; a land that was to be occupied as a place of rest for God’s people. But Canaan gave no rest, for Israel failed to obey God, and take dominion:

They failed to take dominion over self, and bring every thought into conformity to the Word of God. They served the many gods of darkness in their imagination:

Ezekiel 8. (V. 12 Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth.”)

They failed to conquer the land, and left many heathen nations in the land to be snares against them. (Judges 1)

They failed in their responsibility to be a Godly testimony to the surrounding pagan world.

Their lack of rest in the Lord God was a matter of failure to do what was required of them by the Word of God. (How many times do we read “and God spoke…”). The same requirement is upon his people today; they are told that faith without the outward works of that faith is dead. There can be no rest to those who fail to apply their faith to the world around them.

John 5:17 “But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.”

“It is important to understand what this rest is. In the first place, it is God’s rest and not our rest. And God’s rest does not mean cessation from work on His part, but rather his joy and delight in that work as good and perfect. In this sense He rested from creation on the seventh day, a rest which was marred by sin, but now the new rest of which he speaks is that of redemption, typified by Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and entrance into Canaan. As a matter of fact God rests in Christ as the Redeemer and Restorer of fallen man, and where He rests there only can we rest. It is not death that can be rest to us, but only Christ, and this because the secret of our unrest is sin and He only can take away sin in every aspect of it. Of course, the perfect enjoyment of this rest is still future. “There remaineth a rest for the people of God.” It is not a rest of inactivity, but of peace and harmony with all that is within and around us. Glory to God for this expectation! The sense in which we are diligently to seek it, Heb 4:11 is not that of self-righteous works on our part, but a carefulness not to fall in to unbelief. The relation of the words that follow in this chapter Heb 4:12-16 with those preceding, seems in general terms to be this: the Christian is to rest in faith, and labor to enter into the rest that remaineth, but this means that he must be guided and instructed by the Word of God, and upheld and encouraged by the sympathy and intercession of His Great High priest.” (Emp added. The Concise Bible Commentary, Heb 4. OLB)

Rest is only possible where there is “peace and harmony” with God through Christ: 1 Timothy 1:5 “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:”. &c.

God rested from his Creation Work in the beginning. Christ rested from his Mediation Work, and we are to find our rest and strength in His Mediation Work, rater than in our “good works”. We do the works of His Father according to His Command Word by His grace, which gives us access to His promise that he “will bring it to pass”, if we do not grow weary.

3:19 “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.“ God’s sabbath rest is the condition of faith. Israel’s unbelief is clearly shown by their unbelief in God, and they refused to obey him, and go into the land. Their professed faith did not translate into obedient action, so they perished in the wilderness.

In God’s eyes, unbelief is failure to obey Jesus Christ, the Word of God. Faith and works according to the entire Word of God cannot be separated. The “verbal faith” which does not seek to subdue all things to Christ, starting with self-control, through the application of his Law-Word has been and is deadly to the church. It has allowed the anti-law spirit into the church.

That antinomian spirit not only allows, it requests the wicked one, the anti-christ, to control the world for his own glory. Someone will control the law-system of the world, and when Christian law fails, evil laws will take their place. (Many foolish statements have been made about a person called the antichrist. But the antichrist is not a person, but a spirit who operates against Christ. . See 1 Jo 2:18, 22, 4:3, 2 Jo 7)

“Easy believism” has little, if any salvation in it, and it certainly offers no rest, and leads to tyranny by the wicked one.

V. 12, the word of God is like a two edged sword, cutting or piercing to the heart of our being, to expose every false thing.

The living Word penetrates our total being with its cutting and healing power. Reading the Word of God is unlike any other book. Many people find it difficult to read because of its pointed power to reveal the inner most thoughts and intents of the heart.

First, it is a living word. Reading the Word of God it is unlike reading the papers, or any book. God’s word penetrates, and it cuts the sinner and heals the broken.

Second, it is the word of power or creative energy.

Third, it severs as it cuts through all things.

Fourth, it judges our innermost thoughts and motives.

Fifth, God the Spirit deals directly with us by means of His word.

Fallen man does not like to admit that the Word of God is living. Man wants to separate it from life, and reduce it to simply good literature. However, it is the source of live and power for the Elect:

John 6:63 “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.“

Hebrews 4:13, immediately after v. 12, we are told that all things are totally visible to God Himself.

“All things are naked and open unto him who has the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”

Nothing escapes the eyes of God, for there is nothing too small nor too great for him. Ignoring the Word, does not escape God.

Psalms 139:8 “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.”

Vv. 14-16, introduces the next section which tells us of our Great High Priest, 5:1 – 10:18.

However, the author will take every opportunity to exhort his readers to hold fast to their confidence of their promised victory through fulfilling their responsibilities to the law as revealed in Scripture.

It has been commented that the entire book is based on Psalms 1:10 “Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.” Which is an exhortation to victory through Christ.

V. 14, Jesus Christ is called both our great High priest and the Son of God.

As the Son of God, he is the Righteous Judge, King and Lawgiver, who holds total power and total understanding:

Isaiah 33:22 “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.”

As the High Priest, he is the mediator between God and man.

1 Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”

There are many kinds of mediators among men:

Mothers mediate, or intervene to restore peace, for their children, many times in the face of horrible crimes by their children. “But he has always been a good boy!”

The church mediates, or communicates, the Word of God to the people.

Christ is unique because he represents the Holy Father to us, and represents us to the Holy Father.

He alone has the authority of mediation because he is both God and Man. He is the One who provided the only approach to God through the atonement--the remission of sin. He alone is the all-sufficient Savior.

He is at one with brethren, identifying with God and the Elect. He is one of us, very man of very man, yet without sin, Hebrews 1:9.

V. 15, He knows more about us than we know about ourselves. Being fully a man who lived, suffered and died as the Redeemer, he can fully identifies with the feelings of our infirmities. We can be more open with Him than any other person. We can make confession and petition unto Him, as to no other person.

(V. 14) "Let us keep on holding fast." This keynote runs all through theEpistle, the exhortation to the Jewish Christians to hold on to theconfession {#Heb 3:1?} of Christ already made. Before making thefive points of Christ’s superior priestly work (better priest thanAaron, #Heb 5:1-7:25; under a better covenant, #Heb 8:1-13;in a better sanctuary, #Heb 9:1-12; offering a better sacrifice,#Heb 9:13-10:18; based on better promises, #Heb 10:19-12:3),the author gives a double exhortation {#Heb 4:14-16?} like that in#Heb 2:1-4 to hold fast to the high priest {#Heb 4:14?} and tomake use of him. {#Heb 4:16?} (Robertson’s NT Word Pictures. OLB)

Faith and obedience join in Jesus Christ. As the old song goes, “Love and marriage, love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage. You can’t have one without the other.”

Faith and obedience is the key to rest; that is, “Trust and Obey” for there is not other way to find the true sabbath rest that is in Jesus Christ.

To obey is to believe. To disobey is to disbelieve.