Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Let
us, therefore, fear, &c. St. Paul continues his exhortation to them, not to be like the incredulous Jews, and so to
be excluded from the place of eternal rest. (Witham)
Ver. 2. To
us....hath been declared, as well as to them. That is, as the riches of the country of Chanaan[Canaan], was told by Josue[Joshua]
and Caleb to the people, but they would not believe them; so the happiness of the kingdom of heaven has been preached by us
to you: but the word they heard (literally, the word of hearing ) did not profit them, not being mixed,
or received with faith: let not this be your case. (Witham) --- As the want of a firm faith was the cause of the punishment
of the Israelites, of their privation of a promised inheritance, so Christians will be eternally excluded from the kingdom
promised them, unless they steadily believe and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. The reason why so few profit of the word,
is because few take care to meditate on it, to digest it, and as it were, incorporate it with themselves by proper considerations.
Ver. 3, &c.
It is faith that opens heaven; but faith animated by charity, nourished by good works, and perfected by mortification of the
senses. God only enters into his rest after the accomplishment of his works, and shall we expect to enter before we accomplish
what he has given us to do? Let us fear, but in hoping; let us hope, but in labouring. --- The works....were finished.
This place is the same, and equally obscure in the Greek as in the Latin text. The apostle here examines what David, as a
prophet, could mean, when he said of some: they shall not enter, or, if they shall enter into my rest. His argument
is this: David could not prophesy of that rest, by which God, after he had created all things, (Genesis ii. 2.) is
said to have rested the seventh day, when he had finished the works of the creation. Nor could David speak of that
other time of resting, which was promised and given to the Israelites, when, having conquered all their enemies, they
were introduced by Jesus, or Josue[Joshua], into the promised land of Chanaan[Canaan]; for these two rests were passed
long before his prophecy: therefore David must speak of some rest that was to come afterwards, when he said: To-day, if
you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts, &c. Therefore it must needs follow that some day of rest,
some sabbatism, as he calls it, after his time, must remain for the people of God, that should not harden their hearts:
and from hence he concludes that David had in view that eternal rest of happiness which the Messias was to obtain for us,
a rest without end in the kingdom of heaven. --- Let us hasten, therefore, or as it is in the Greek, let us make
it our endeavour, to gain that place of rest, by our persevering in faith and good works, and take heed not to
be excluded with the unbelievers. (Witham)
Ver. 12. For
the word of God is living, &c. Some understand by the word of God, the eternal word, or Son of God: (to whom
may apply all in the 12th and 13th verses) but others rather expound it of the words, promises, and menaces of God, either
foretold by the prophets, or preached by the apostles. (Witham) --- All this language is metaphorical, but perfectly well
understood by the Jews. In their sacrifices, the Levites made use of a two-edged knife to separate from the victim what was
for God, what was for the priests, and what was for the people. Thus in sacrificing sinners to the justice of God, Jesus Christ,
like a two-edged knife, will separate what is for God, and what is for man; i.e. whatever is good or evil in the whole of
Ver. 13. In
his sight, or to the eyes, must signify in the sight of God. (Witham) --- If the word of God in Jesus Christ be
so terrible, what will Jesus Christ be himself, when he comes to judge us according to the severity of his justice?
Ver. 14. Having,
therefore, as I told you before, a great high priest, Christ, who ascended into heaven, who can compassionate our
infirmities, let us with a firm confidence approach the throne of grace, by faith, hope, charity, and good works. (Witham)
Ver. 16. Let
us often contemplate Jesus Christ on his two thrones, that of his mercy, and that of his justice; of his mercy,
where at present he is seated as our compassionate high priest, to bestow on us the riches of his grace; of his justice, where
he will one day sit as judge, to examine most rigorously both our faith and our practice. Our separated brethren pretend to
prove from this text that we need no help of saints to obtain any favour. But by this argument they may as well take away
the helps and prayers of the living for one another. For we do not require the help of either the saints in heaven, or of
our brethren on earth, through any mistrust of God's mercy, but on account of our own unworthiness, convinced that the prayer
of a just man availeth more with Him, than the desire of a grievous sinner; and of a number making intercession together,
rather than of one alone. This they cannot deny, except they deny the holy Scriptures. Neither do we come less to Him, or
with less confidence, when we come accompanied with the prayers of Angels, saints, priests, or just men, with us, as they
fondly imagine and pretend; but with much more confidence in his grace, mercy, and merits, than if we prayed ourselves alone.
 Ver. 3. Operibus ab institutione mundi perfectis, kai
toi ton ergon apo kataboles kosmou genethenton.
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The Christian's rest: we are to enter into it through Jesus
1 Let us, therefore, fear, lest perhaps forsaking the promise of entering
into his rest, any of you be thought to be wanting.
2 For to us also it hath been declared as well as to them, but the word
of hearing did not profit them, not being mixed with the faith of those things which they heard.
3 For we, who have believed, shall enter into rest; as he said: *As I have
sworn in my wrath: If they shall enter into my rest: and this when the works from the foundation of the world were finished.
4 For in a certain place he spoke of the seventh day thus: *And God rested
the seventh day from all his works.
5 And in this place again: If they shall enter into my rest.
6 Seeing then it remaineth that some are to enter into it, and they, to
whom it was first preached, did not enter in because of unbelief:
7 Again he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To-day, after so long
a time, as it is above said: *To-day, if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
8 For if Jesus had given them rest, he would never have afterwards spoken
of another day.
9 There remaineth, therefore, a rest for the people of God.
10 For he who is entered into his rest: he also hath rested from his works,
as God from his.
11 Let us hasten, therefore, to enter into that rest: lest any man fall
into the same example of unbelief.
12 For the word of God is living and effectual, and more penetrating than
any two-edged sword: and reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit, of the joints also, and the marrow, and is
a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
13 *Neither is there any creature invisible in his sight: but all things
are naked and open to the eyes of him, to whom our speech is.
14 Having, therefore, a great high priest who hath penetrated into the
heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
15 For we have not a high priest, who cannot have compassion on our infirmities:
but one tempted in all things like as we are, without sin.
16 Let us go, therefore, with confidence to the throne of grace: that we
may obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid.
3: Psalm xciv. 11.
4: Genesis ii. 2.
7: Hebrews iii. 7.
13: Psalm xxxiii. 16.; Ecclesiasticus xv. 20.