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Matthew 12:8 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Lord of the Sabbath
8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
Note: MacArthur Study Bible (everyone should own a MacArthur Study Bible)
12:8 the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath. Christ has the prerogative to rule over not only their man-made sabbatarian rules, but also over the Sabbath itself—which was designed for worshiping God. Again, this was an inescapable claim of deity—and as such it prompted the Pharisees’ violent outrage (v. 14).
Exodus 20:8 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy:
Deuteronomy 5:12 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
12 Be careful to remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy as the Lord your God has commanded you.
Jesus Our Sabbath Rest
Key Verses (G. Campbell Morgan, 1863-1945)
Hebrews 3:1 Names of God Bible (NOG)
1 Brothers and sisters, you are holy partners in a heavenly calling. So look carefully at Yeshua, the apostle and chief priest about whom we make our declaration of faith.
Hebrews 4:14 Names of God Bible (NOG)
14 We need to hold on to our declaration of faith: We have a superior chief priest who has gone through the heavens. That person is Yeshua, the Son of God.
Hebrews 3-4 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Greater Than Moses
1 Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. 2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. 3 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5 “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. 6 But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.
Warning Against Unbelief
7 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. 10 That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ 11 So I declared on oath in my anger,‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”
12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said:
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”
16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt?17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
A Sabbath-Rest for the People of God
4 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,
“So I declared on oath in my anger,‘They shall never enter my rest.’”
And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” 5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”
6 Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, 7 God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Jesus the Great High Priest
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
What does it mean that Jesus is our Sabbath rest?
Hebrews 4 speaks of Jesus as our Sabbath rest. Verses 9-10 in particular state, “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.” How is Jesus our Sabbath rest?
The key to understanding how Jesus is our Sabbath rest is understanding what the Sabbath means. The Hebrew word shabat was the word “rest” in the Old Testament first used in regard to God “resting” from creation on the seventh day. The Sabbath would later become part of the Law of Moses, referring to the Sabbath day, Saturday, upon which the Jewish people were to do no work.
In the New Testament, Jesus declared Himself “lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8). He equated Himself with God the Father, becoming God in human form. In addition, Jesus declared, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).
In Hebrews 3 and 4, the author developed the concept of Jesus as our Sabbath rest, revealing how a relationship with Christ frees humans from the works of the law and allows a person to rest in the work of Christ to forgive sin. Ultimately, those who believe in Jesus will spend eternity in a “Sabbath rest” with Him (Hebrews 4:9).
Today, many continue to live as if their salvation depends on how many good deeds they perform. Yet Christ is the only one who can provide sufficiently for the sins of people and offer eternal life. It is by His grace we receive salvation, through faith. As Ephesians 2:8-9 reveal, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Jesus serves as our Sabbath rest in the sense that He provides freedom from living under the works of the law. Instead, His sacrifice has paid the price for our salvation. We accept salvation as His free gift, entering into His rest both now as well as in eternity in His presence.
Hebrews 4 ends with words of comfort for those who enter God’s Sabbath rest: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). As a result of Christ’s finished work, we can confidently come before God, receiving mercy and grace in our time of need.
Scofield Reference Notes On Book Of Hebrews
(C. I. Scofield, 1843-1921; everyone should own a Scofield Study Bible)
Book Introduction – Hebrews
WRITER: The authorship of Hebrews has been in controversy from the earliest times. The book is anonymous, but the reference in 2 Peter 3:15 seems conclusive that Paul was the writer. See also Hebrews 13:23. All agree that, whether by Paul or another, the point of view is Pauline. We undoubtedly have here the method of Paul’s synagogue addresses. No book of Scripture more fully authenticates itself as inspired.
DATE: From internal evidence it is clear that Hebrews was written before the destruction of the Temple, A.D. 70 (cf Hebrews 10:11).
THEME: The doctrinal passages reveal the purpose of the book. It was written with a twofold intent: To confirm Jewish Christians by showing that Judaism had come to an end through the fulfillment by Christ of the whole purpose of the law; and The hortatory passages show that the writer had in view the danger ever-present to Jewish professed believers of either lapsing back into Judaism, or of pausing short of true faith in Jesus Christ. It is clear from the Acts that even the strongest of the believers in Palestine were held to a strange mingling of Judaism and Christianity (e.g. Acts 21:18-24 and that snare would be especially apt to entangle professed Christians amongst the Jews of the dispersion.
The key-word is “better.” Hebrews is a series of contrasts between the good things of Judaism and the better things of Christ. Christ is “better” than angels, than Moses, than Joshua, than Aaron; and the New Covenant than the Mosaic Covenant. Church truth does not appear, the ground of gathering only being stated (Hebrews 13:13). The whole sphere of Christian profession is before the writer; hence exhortations necessary to warn and alarm a mere professor.
For Deeper Study – MacArthur Study Bible Notes (Everyone should own a MacArthur Study Bible)
A proper interpretation of this epistle requires the recognition that it addresses 3 distinct groups of Jews: 1) believers; 2) unbelievers who were intellectually convinced of the gospel; and 3) unbelievers who were attracted by the gospel and the person of Christ but who had reached no final conviction about Him. Failure to acknowledge these groups leads to interpretations inconsistent with the rest of Scripture.
The primary group addressed were Hebrew Christians who suffered rejection and persecution by fellow Jews (10:32-34), although none as yet had been martyred (12:4). The letter was written to give them encouragement and confidence in Christ, their Messiah and High-Priest. They were an immature group of believers who were tempted to hold on to the symbolic and spiritually powerless rituals and traditions of Judaism.
The second group addressed were Jewish unbelievers who were convinced of the basic truths of the gospel but who had not placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their own Savior and Lord. They were intellectually persuaded but spiritually uncommitted. These unbelievers are addressed in such passages as 2:1-3;6:4-6; 10:26-29; and 12:15-17.
The third group addressed were Jewish unbelievers who were not convinced of the gospel’s truth but had had some exposure to it. Chapter 9 is largely devoted to them (see especially vv. 11,14, 15, 27, 28).
By far, the most serious interpretive challenge is found in 6:4-6. The phrase “once enlightened” is often taken to refer to Christians, and the accompanying warning taken to indicate the danger of losing their salvation if “they fall away” and “crucify again for themselves the Son of God.” But there is no mention of their being saved and they are not described with any terms that apply only to believers (such as holy, born again, righteous, or saints). This problem arises from inaccurately identifying the spiritual condition of the ones being addressed. In this case, they were unbelievers who had been exposed to God’s redemptive truth, and perhaps made a profession of faith, but had not exercised genuine saving faith. In 10:26, the reference once again is to apostate Christians, not to genuine believers who are often incorrectly thought to lose their salvation because of their sins.
Verse by verse study.
3:1–6 This section presents the superiority of Jesus over the highly revered Moses. The Lord had spoken with Moses “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Ex. 33:11) and had given the law to him (Neh. 9:13, 14). The commandments and rituals of the law were the Jews’ supreme priorities, and to them Moses and the law were synonymous. Both the OT and the NT refer to the commands of God as the “law of Moses” (Josh. 8:31; 1 Kin. 2:3; Luke 2:22; Acts 13:39). Yet, as great as Moses was, Jesus was infinitely greater.
3:1 holy brethren. The phrase occurs only here and in 1 Thess. 5:27, where some manuscripts omit “holy.” The writer addresses believers who have a “heavenly calling” (cf. Phil. 3:14). They are elsewhere described as desiring a “heavenly country” (11:16) and as coming to “the heavenly Jerusalem” (12:22). They are “holy” in the sense that they are set apart unto God and identified with the heavenly realm—citizens of heaven more than citizens of earth. calling. The reference, as always in the NT epistles, is to the effective summons to salvation in Christ (cf. Rom. 8:30; 1 Cor. 7:21). consider. The writer asks for the readers’ complete attention and diligent observation of the superiority of Jesus Christ. Apostle and High Priest. An apostle is a “sent one” who has the rights, power, and authority of the one who sends him. Jesus was sent to earth by the Father (cf. John 3:17, 34; 5:36–38; 8:42). The topic of the High-Priesthood of Christ, which was begun in 2:17, 18 and is mentioned again here, will be taken up again in greater detail in 4:14—10:18. Meanwhile, the writer presents the supremacy of Christ to Moses (vv. 1–6), to Joshua (4:8), and to all other national heroes and OT preachers whom Jews held in high esteem. Jesus Himself spoke of His superiority to Moses in the same context in which He spoke of His being sent by the Father (John 5:36–38, 45–47; cf. Luke 16:29–31). Moses had been sent by God to deliver His people from historical Egypt and its bondage (Ex. 3:10). Jesus was sent by God to deliver His people from spiritual Egypt and its bondage (2:15). of our confession. Christ is the center of our confession of faith in the gospel, both in creed and public testimony. The term is used again in 4:14 and 10:23 (cf. 2 Cor. 9:13; 1 Tim. 6:12). In all 3 uses in Hebrews there is a sense of urgency. Surely, the readers would not give up Christ, whom they had professed, and reject what He had done for them, if they could understand the superiority of His person and work.
3:2 house. The term refers to a family of people rather than a building or dwelling (cf. v. 6; 1 Tim. 3:15). Those who were stewards of a household must above all be faithful (1 Cor. 4:2). Both Moses (Num. 12:7) and Christ (2:17) faithfully fulfilled their individual, divine appointments to care for the people of God.
3:3, 4 He who built. Moses was only a part of God’s household of faith, whereas Jesus was the creator of that household (cf. 2 Sam. 7:13; Zech. 6:12, 13; Eph. 2:19–22; 1 Pet. 2:4, 5) and, therefore, is greater than Moses and equal to God.
3:5, 6 servant…Son. The term for “servant” implies a position of dignity and freedom, not slavery (cf. Ex. 14:31; Josh. 1:2). However, even as the highest-ranking servant, Moses could never hold the position of Son, which is Christ’s alone (cf. John 8:35).
3:5 spoken afterward. Moses was faithful primarily as a testimony to that which was to come in Christ (cf. 11:24–27; see note on John 5:46).
3:6 whose house we are. See notes on v. 2; Eph. 2:22; 1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Pet. 2:5; 4:17. if we hold fast. Cf. v. 14. This is not speaking of how to be saved or remain saved (cf. 1 Cor. 15:2). It means rather that perseverance in faithfulness is proof of real faith. The one who returns to the rituals of the Levitical system to contribute to his own salvation proves he was never truly part of God’s household (see note on 1 John 2:19), whereas the one who abides in Christ gives evidence of his genuine membership in that household (cf. Matt. 10:22; Luke 8:15; John 8:31; 15:4–6). The promise of God will fulfill this holding fast (1 Thess. 5:24;Jude 24, 25). See note on Matt. 24:13. hope. See the writer’s further description of this hope in 6:18, 19. This hope rests in Christ Himself, whose redemptive work has accomplished our salvation (Rom. 5:1, 2; see note on 1 Pet. 1:3).
3:7–11 The writer cites Ps. 95:7–11 as the words of its ultimate author, the Holy Spirit (cf. 4:7; 9:8; 10:15). This passage describes the Israelites’ wilderness wanderings after their delivery from Egypt. Despite God’s miraculous works and His gracious, providential faithfulness to them, the people still failed to commit themselves to Him in faith (cf. Ex. 17; Num. 14:22, 23;Ps. 78:40–53). The writer of Hebrews presents a 3-point exposition of the OT passage: 1) beware of unbelief (vv. 12–19); 2) be afraid of falling short (4:1–10); and 3) be diligent to enter (4:11–13). The themes of the exposition include urgency, obedience (including faith), perseverance, and rest.
3:7 Today. The reference is to the present moment while the words of God are fresh in the mind. There is a sense of urgency to immediately give heed to the voice of God. This urgency is emphasized by repeating the reference to “today” from Ps. 95:7 three more times (vv. 13, 15; 4:7) and is the theme of the writer’s exposition (cf. 2 Cor. 6:2).
3:11 My rest. The earthly rest which God promised to give was life in the land of Canaan which Israel would receive as their inheritance (Deut. 12:9, 10; Josh. 21:44; 1 Kin. 8:56). Because of rebellion against God, an entire generation of the children of Israel was prohibited from entering into that rest in the Promised Land (cf. Deut. 28:65; Lam. 1:3). The application of this picture is to an individual’s spiritual rest in the Lord, which has precedent in the OT (cf. Ps. 116:7; Is. 28:12). At salvation, every believer enters the true rest, the realm of spiritual promise, never again laboring to achieve through personal effort a righteousness that pleases God. God wanted both kinds of rest for that generation who was delivered from Egypt.
3:12 brethren. This admonition is addressed to those having the same potential characteristics as the generation which perished in the wilderness without ever seeing the Land of Promise. They were unbelieving Jewish brethren who were in the company of the “holy brethren” (v. 1). They were admonished to believe and be saved before it was too late. See Introduction: Interpretive Challenges. an evil heart. All men are born with such a heart (Jer. 17:9). In the case of these Hebrews, that evil manifested itself in disbelief of the gospel which moved them in the opposite way from God.
3:13 exhort one another daily. Both individual accountability and corporate responsibility are intended in this admonition. As long as the distressing days were upon them and they were tempted to return to the ineffective Levitical system, they were to encourage one another to identify completely with Jesus Christ.hardened. Repeated rejection of the gospel concerning Jesus results in a progressive hardening of the heart and will ultimately result in outright antagonism to the gospel. Cf. 6:4–6; 10:26–29;Acts 19:9. deceitfulness. Sin lies and deceives, using every trickery and stratagem possible (cf. Rom. 7:11; 2 Thess. 2:10;James 1:14–16). The Hebrews deceived themselves with the reasoning that their rejection of Jesus Christ was being faithful to the older system. Their willingness to hang on to the Levitical system was really a rejection of the living Word (4:12) of the “living God” (v. 12), who through Christ had opened up a “new and living way” (10:20). Choosing the path of unbelief always leads only to death (v. 17; 10:26–29; cf. 2:14, 15; Jude 5).
3:14 The exhortation is similar to that in v. 6. It repeats the theme of perseverance.
3:15–19 The quotation from Ps. 95:7, 8 is repeated (cf. v. 7). The first quotation was followed with exposition emphasizing “today” and the urgency that word conveys. This second quotation is followed with exposition emphasizing the word “rebellion” (vv. 15,16) and presenting the theme of obedience by means of its antithesis, disobedience. Four different terms are employed to drive the point of rebellion home: “rebelled” (v. 16), “sinned” (v. 17), “did not obey” (v. 18), and “unbelief” (v. 19). This initial third (see notes on vv. 7–11) of the writer’s exposition of Ps. 95:7–11is summed up by the obvious conclusion that the Israelites who died in the wilderness were victims of their own unbelief (v. 19)
4:1–10 The second section of the writer’s exposition of Ps. 95:7–11 goes beyond the description of unbelief and its dire consequences (3:12–19) to define the nature of the “rest” which the disobedient had forfeited. The first section had dealt primarily with Ps. 95:7, 8; the second section deals primarily with Ps. 95:11.
4:1 promise. This is the first use of this important word in Hebrews. The content of this promise is defined as “entering His rest.” His rest. See note on 3:11. This is the rest which God gives, therefore it is called “My rest” (Ps. 95:11) and “His rest.” For believers, God’s rest includes His peace, confidence of salvation, reliance on His strength, and assurance of a future heavenly home (cf. Matt. 11:29). come short. The entire phrase could be translated “lest you think you have come too late to enter into the rest of God” (cf. 12:15). With reverential fear all are to examine their own spiritual condition (cf. 1 Cor. 10:12; 2 Cor. 13:5) and to actively press for commitment on the part of others (cf. Jude 23).
4:2 faith. Mere knowledge of God’s message is not sufficient. It must be appropriated by saving faith. Later in the epistle a much longer exposition will take up this topic of faith (10:19—12:29). The writer’s point of comparison is that, like the Jews who left Egypt (3:16–19), his generation had also received God’s message through the preaching of the gospel—they had been evangelized.
4:3 we…do enter. Those who exercise faith in the message of God will enter into their spiritual rest. This is the corollary of Ps. 95:11 which states the opposite side: that the unbeliever will not enter into the rest which God provides. finished from the foundation of the world. The spiritual rest which God gives is not something incomplete or unfinished. It is a rest which is based upon a finished work which God purposed in eternity past, just like the rest which God took after He finished creation (v. 4).
4:4, 5 By way of explanation for the statement in v. 3, the writer cites the illustration of the seventh day of creation and quotes Gen. 2:2. Then he repeats the last part of Ps. 95:11.
4:6, 7 The opportunity to enter God’s rest remains open (cf. “a promise remains” in v. 1). It is not yet too late. God had offered the rest to His people in Moses’ time and continued to offer it in David’s time. He is still patiently inviting His people to enter His rest (cf. Rom. 10:21). Quoting Ps. 95:7, 8 once again (see 3:7,15), the author urges an immediate, positive response. The themes of urgency and obedience are thus combined in a clear invitation to the readers.
4:8–10 God’s true rest did not come through Joshua or Moses, but through Jesus Christ, who is greater than either one. Joshua led the nation of Israel into the land of their promised rest (see note on 3:11; Josh. 21:43–45). However, that was merely the earthly rest which was but the shadow of what was involved in the heavenly rest. The very fact that, according to Ps. 95, God was still offering His rest in the time of David (long after Israel had been in the Land) meant that the rest being offered was spiritual—superior to that which Joshua obtained. Israel’s earthly rest was filled with the attacks of enemies and the daily cycle of work. The heavenly rest is characterized by the fullness of heavenly promise (Eph. 1:3) and the absence of any labor to obtain it.
4:9 rest. A different Gr. word for “rest” meaning “Sabbath rest” is introduced here, and this is its only appearance in the NT. The writer chose the word to draw the readers’ attention back to the “seventh day” mentioned in v. 4 and to set up the explanation in v. 10 (“ceased from his works as God did from His”).
4:11–13 The concluding third part of the exposition of Ps. 95:7–11 emphasizes the accountability which comes to those who have heard the Word of God. Scripture records the examples of those in the wilderness with Moses, those who entered Canaan with Joshua, and those who received the same opportunity in David’s day. It is the Word which must be believed and obeyed and the Word which will judge the disobedient (cf. 1 Cor. 10:5–13).
4:12 two-edged sword. While the Word of God is comforting and nourishing to those who believe, it is a tool of judgment and execution for those who have not committed themselves to Jesus Christ. Some of the Hebrews were merely going through the motions of belonging to Christ. Intellectually, they were at least partly persuaded, but inside they were not committed to Him. God’s Word would expose their shallow beliefs and even their false intentions (cf. 1 Sam. 16:7; 1 Pet. 4:5). division of soul and spirit. These terms do not describe two separate entities (any more than “thoughts and intents” do) but are used as one might say “heart and soul” to express fullness (cf. Luke 10:27;Acts 4:32; see note on 1 Thess. 5:23). Elsewhere these two terms are used interchangeably to describe man’s immaterial self, his eternal inner person.
4:13 open to the eyes of Him. “Open” is a specialized term used just this one time in the NT. It originally meant to expose the neck either in preparation for sacrifice or for beheading. Perhaps the use of “sword” in the previous verse triggered the term. Each individual is judged not only by the Word of God (cf. John 12:48), but by God Himself. We are accountable to the living, written Word (cf. John 6:63, 68; Acts 7:38) and to the living God who is its author.
4:14—7:28 Next, the writer expounds on Ps. 110:4, quoted in 5:6. Not only is Christ as Apostle superior to Moses and to Joshua, but as High-Priest, He is superior to Aaron (4:14–5:10; cf. 3:1). In the midst of his exposition, the writer gives an exhortation related to the spiritual condition of his readers (5:11–6:20). At the conclusion of the exhortation, he then returns to the subject of Christ’s priesthood (7:1–28).