Tuesday, April 28, 2009


What is Hebrews 4 about? Is it about the Sabbath? What if I  told you it is about the Kingdom of God? What’s interesting is that this is the very thing Paul is trying to clarify. These people think he’s talking about the seventh day Sabbath, and Paul tries to explain that he’s not, but that he’s talking about the Kingdom of God.

So today, we’re going to examine the word “rest” in Hebrews 4. At the bottom of this first section are the Greek word definitions for the various words translated as “rest”.


1 Therefore, since the promise of entering his abode (G2663) still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.

[He says the promise of entering His abode. What promise have we received? The promise of the Kingdom through the Holy Spirit, which is a deposit, a guarantee. He’s not speaking of the promise of a Sabbath. Clearly this is his Kingdom that is promised.]

2 For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.

[Ron Weinland says in his sermon, God’s plan through the Sabbath (3.15.03): “They couldn’t believe it because it wasn’t mixed with the Holy Spirit.” The problem with that statement from God’s supposed “final witness” is that what he says is, again, contrary to the Bible, as are many of his teachings. It’s not required that you have the Holy Spirit before you can believe! You get the Holy Spirit AFTER you believe! Scripture says we believe by faith. It does not say we believe by the Holy Spirit! How can God’s “final witness” be so wrong? Why does he teach a different gospel? Why does he teach a different Jesus?]

3 Now we who have believed enter that abode (G2663), just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my abode’ (G2663). ”Although (G2543) his work has been finished since the creations of the world.

[So what’s going on here? Is God saying they shall never enter his Sabbath, with Paul following up with: although his work has been finished since the creation of the world? Well that doesn’t make sense. Remember what I said about fractals in my Bible Symbology article? That is a helpful tool in understanding scriptures: does it fit the fractal, the symbology? God was talking about the Israelites in verse 3, right? And he was talking about them not being permitted to enter His abode, speaking of the promised land. They wondered the desert for 40 years because of there disobedience, because of their lack of faith. So this statement isn’t about Sabbath. So Paul is saying here that these guys are thinking he is talking about the seventh day, and say he’s not, because God’s work has been finished since the creation of the world, and then in verse 4 reminds them of what that scripture says:]

4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: ‘on the seventh day God ceased (G2664) from all his work.

[He then refers again to the above mentioned verse, pointing out the difference, and that he’s not talking about Sabbath.]

5 And again in the passage above he says “They shall never enter my abode (G2663).Summer

[Now in verse 6 he tries to explain the point: that the promise still remains, that the physical promised land wasn’t all there was.]

6 So it STILL REMAINS that some will enter it [the spiritual promise land], and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in [to the physical promise land], because of their disobedience.

7 God again marks out a certain day, today (G4594) [this day, current or just passed, now, at present]. When he spoke through David: (Ps. 95:7) ‘Today (G4594), if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’

[i.e. whenever you hear his voice. Whatever day it is that you hear his voice.]

[Ron Weinland, in the above mentioned sermon, tells his congregation that this word, ‘today’ G4594, means Sabbath. This is not true. Look it up for yourself. This is one of the reasons I tell people that it’s their responsibility to find out if what someone tells them is true or not.]

8 For if Joshua had given them “THE” settling down to colonize rest (G2664), God would not have spoken later about ANOTHER day.

9 So there STILL remains, a Sabbath-rest, a repose (G4520) of Christianity (as a type of heaven) for the people of God – the spiritual promised land; [not the seventh ‘day’ but, the seventh ‘thousandth year’.]

10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. For Joshua, having entered into His abode (G2663), settled down to colonize, ceased from his occupational work (G2664) (of leading the Israelites). [i.e. it’s not the physical promise land that promised land that he is talking about, but the spiritual promised land,] just as (G5618) God did from His own (work, of creation). [i.e. and it’s not the Sabbath. But rather, the spiritual promised land. This physical promised land isn’t “THE” promise, there remains another].

11 Let us be eager therefore to enter into that abode (G2663) [of rest] [the spiritual promised land], that no one will fall in the same example of disobedience.

GREEK WORD DEFINITIONS ( for the words translated in this chapter as “rest”):

2663: katapausis (noun) reposing down, i.e. abode

2664 kata pauo (verb) settle down, I.e. (literally) to colonize, (figuratively) to (case to) desist

4520 sabatismos (noun) repose of Christianity (as a type of heaven)

4594 semeron    This day, today, current or just passed, now, at present

There is a link on the right to an online Interlinear, one Greek, the other Hebrew. Please take advantage of it.


So, essentially, Paul is saying:

I’m not talking about the Sabbath. I’m not talking about the physical promised land. I’m talking about the the fact that there still remains a promised rest: “THE” rest, the spiritual promised land, the Kingdom of God.

1 Therefore, since the promise of entering His rest/kingdom 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 gospel preached to us, just as the Israelites did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard it didn’t have faith.

3 Now we who have believed enter His rest/abode (the promised future spiritual event), just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest/abode (the past promised physical event).’ You’re thinking I’m talking about the “seventh day Sabbath rest”, but I’m not, his work has been finished since the creation of the world.

4 You know what I’m talking about…   the scripture that says ‘on the seventh day God ceased from all his work.

5 And then we have the passage above that says “They shall never enter my abode. This is speaking of the ‘physical promised land’, not the ‘Sabbath’.vladstudio_xmasnight2_1280x800

6 See what I mean? Do you see the difference? There is still a promised land, a future promised land, a spiritual promised land. So it STILL REMAINS, that some will enter His abode/rest… that is; the ‘spiritual promised land/rest’ (future), and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in to the ‘physical promised land/rest’, because of their disobedience (past).

7 God again marks out a certain day, today, when he spoke through David: ‘Today, right now, whenever, …if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.’

8 I’m not talking about the ‘physical promised land/rest,  for if Joshua had given them '”THE” ‘settling down to colonize’ rest, God would not have spoken later about ANOTHER day; the day we enter the ‘spiritual promised land/rest’.

9 So you see; there is STILL a Sabbath-rest for the people of God – it’s the ‘spiritual promised land’ at the seventh thousandth year; 

10 For Joshua, when he entered into God’s abode/rest, (the physical promised land), rested from his work of leading the Israelites, just as God did from His own work of creation. So I’m not talking about the ‘Sabbath day’ rest, rather the ‘Sabbath millennium’ rest, the ‘spiritual promised land’ rest. This physical promised land isn’t “THE” promise… there remains another… that of the spiritual promised land. God’s Kingdom.

11 Let’s be eager therefore to enter into that spiritual abode of rest, the spiritual promised land, that no one will fall in the same example of disobedience.


I hope this helps you to understand what Paul is actually trying to explain here.

I know you see it every time you read an article here, but please, read again my close that I add at the end of each blog, because it IS very important that you are aware of it.

God bless you in your quest for truth.


Picture credits: Boat – unknown

planet picture – Vlad Gerasimov of VladStudio - http://www.vladstudio.com/home/


xHWA said...

Hey, this is good stuff. You made some good points. I hope people actually listen to what you're getting at without becoming hung up on details. I pray they do read and prove for themselves.

I would like to ask if you think God's work was done from the foundation because Christ decided He would be crucified from before the foundation? I mean, if God decided He would do something, then it's pretty much a foregone conclusion at that point.

And thanks for making it obvious what the Greek meanings of those words generally transliterated as "rest" actually are! That should be an eye-opener to people who just accept what their glorious leader feeds them without actually doing as the Bereans did.

It's supremely difficult for a legalist (even a recovering one) to accept that the Sabbath was just a shadow of a far greater reality (COL. 2: 17), but I do pray they grasp firmly to the reality (as Paul here is encouraging them to do) and relegate the shadow to its rightful and lowly estate.

Seeker Of Truth said...


My understanding is: if God says it, then it's a done deal (unless, of course, there is a repentance clause).

Luc said...

A search for 'sabbatismos' (G4520) reveals that this word is used once in the entire bible, here in Heb 4:9. There is no precedent for this word referring to the regular sabbath day.

Luc said...

It should be noted that the word for sabbath is similar to the word that is used in Heb 4:9. The word for sabbath is sabbaton (G4521), and I count it's use 59 times in the New Testament. Similar in form does not mean it is a synonym.

Anonymous said...

Now, see, this is what I used to read ABD for. A few points, however:

"God was talking about the Israelites in verse 3, right?"Ummmm, no, not if you consider that Hebrews has quite a different provenance than the internal text indicates ("On the contrary, the persecutions which the community has experienced (10:32-34) and the spiritual proximity to Lk-Acts point in all probability to the post-Pauline period.", Ibid.)

"They wondered the desert for 40 years because of there disobedience, because of their lack of faith."Another quasi-anti-Semitic interpretation of the text, acceptable to Christianity today. A mistake, IMO.

From verse 5 onwards, I prefer the gnostic interpretation of the rest of the chapter; to my perspective, none of this refers to literal days and times and places, but to a state of mind, a contemplative timelessness that most meditative traditions can get their users to.

Also, this text corresponds with the ascent through the seven spheres of Poimandres.

As for the idea of "rest", I believe the rest mentioned by the author here is the same as the rest that is mentioned in the Gospel of Thomas:

"If they say to you, "Where have you come from?"
say to them, "We have come from the light,
from the place where the light came into being by itself,
established itself, and appeared in their image."
If they say to you, "Is it you?"
say, "We are its children and the chosen of the living father."
If they ask you, "What is the evidence of your father in you?"
say to them, "It is motion and rest."36
The footnote states: "36. This saying recalls the accounts of the career of the soul or of the person in the Secret Book
of John
, the Song of the Pearl, and the Exegesis on the Soul."

Verse 11 also reads very much like the Quaker definition of silent worship.

The "they shall never enter my abode" verse does not refer, IMO, to unbelievers, rather it could also mean the gnostic panentheistic idea of the "god above god" or the Oversoul if you like (if you want to refer to it in psychological terms), that we can conceptualize, but not actually "contain" with complete understanding. I prefer that interpretation, over the standard "us and them" mentality that a mainstream Christian interpretation of the verse(s) can fall prey to.

My two bucks' worth.

Luc said...

My favorite verse from the Gospel of Thomas is the very last one #114 "Simon peter said to them, "Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life." Jesus said, "I myself shall lead her in order to make a living spirit resemble you males. For every women who will make herself a male will enter the kingdom of heaven"."

I also like this one from the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, ch4:1 "somewhat later he was going through the village, and a child ran into his (Jesus) shoulder. Jesus was aggravated and said to him, "You will go no further on your way." and right away the child fell down and died." Skipping down to 4:2 "The parents of the dead child came to Joseph and blaming him, saying "Since you have such a child you cannot live with us in the village. Or teach him to bless and not to curse- for he is killing our children!"

Most of the gnostic Gospels are fun to read excerpts from when we need some comedy relief.

Anonymous said...

The Infancy Gospel of Thomas was Syriac in origin, and was the core text of a much later faith community:

"The original language of the document may have been either Syriac or Greek. The Greek manuscripts date from the fourteenth through the sixteenth century, while the earliest manuscript is a sixth century one in Syriac."

Similarly, the Infancy Gospel of James appears to be a bit earlier, but not pre-Constantinian:

"There are about one hundred and thirty Greek manuscripts containing the Infancy Gospel of James, but the vast majority of these come from the tenth century or later. The earliest known manuscript of the text was found in 1958; it is now kept in Geneva's Bodmer Library. The manuscript dates to the third century; however, according to Cameron, "many of its readings seem to be secondary."Do I detect a faint veneer of sarcasm in your words, Luc? In my opinion, the same kinds of contradictions and inconsistencies exist in the "new testament" texts that you hold to be inerrant.

But, then, I'm not claiming the gnostic texts are inerrant, nor are they any better or worse than the new testament texts. They are all very old mythologies and allegories that we can, if we choose, use to improve our lives.

Holding fast to an inerrant bibliomancy for only a quarter of the texts doesn't leave much room for improvement, IMO.

Anonymous said...

Sabbatismos is a noun showing action; the action of entering into this "rest" of God's that He began on that seventh day that shows no end.

A Jew did not actively enter into the sabbath; the sabbath came along passively.

This "Today" is still that seventh day then in this sense, not being a literal 24 hour period of time.

For those who would argue still that this sabbatismos is the seventh day sabbath, I would point out that the Israelites indeed "entered into" the promised land, and entered into the weekly sabbath, but could not enter into this rest of God's. With this in mind, it is contextually impossible to conclude this sabbatismos is to be equated with the weekly sabbath antitype that was, and is, a shadow.

Luc said...


Anonymous said...

*sigh* I was wondering when that old chestnut would pop up again. I've had that particular apologetic thrown up (and I mean thrown up as in vomited) my face more than one time before, when I tried to dialogue with bibliomancers.

Shall we agree to disagree and part ways peacably Luc? Best to you and yours, and best of luck with wherever your life and your explorations take you.

James Pate said...

Aggie, are you saying it's anti-Semitic to say the Israelites wondered in the wilderness because of lack of faith? The Hebrew Bible says that!

Luc said...

Aggie I don't have negative feelings about your different point of view. My own household differs radically, no one's been ostracized, it only makes for stimulating evening debates.

Anonymous said...

"Aggie, are you saying it's anti-Semitic to say the Israelites wondered in the wilderness because of lack of faith?"No, I'm saying the reference in the New Testament, as interpreted (and generally accepted) by modern mainstream Christianity, is anti-Semitic. This is made clear in the following remark from the original post:

"God was talking about the Israelites in verse 3, right? And he was talking about them not being permitted to enter His abode, speaking of the promised land. They wondered the desert for 40 years because of there[sic] disobedience, because of their lack of faith."Only Christians believe that Jews have a "lack of faith", because Jews do not believe the christological figure of the New Testament to be the "messiah" spoken of in the original Hebrew scriptures. The Jews disagree, and it's obvious why.

Bibliomantic Christians who blind themselves to the real origins of their holy texts, conflate the Judaic texts and the Constantinian texts together.

This should not be done, both because of the mis-translation (and incorrect references) to the Judaic texts in the Nicene ones, which are misquoted, stretched thin, and generally misinterpreted, and because the two religions are fundamentally different, both in the ancient past and down to the present day.

Consider all the writings of antiquity as a wholistic means to understanding civilized mankind's attempt to grasp and grapple with the recently-evolved neocortex, by all means; but please ensure you consider all of the texts, not just a mere fraction of them, translated so that they are slanted towards, "proving" the respective Constantinian and Anglican church's creeds.

These texts include Early Christian Writings, Early Jewish Writings, as well as the gnostic texts. (I am not partial towards that particular translation, particularly the intentional Judaizing of the Johannine texts, but you get what you pay for, right?)

Aaaaaaaaaand I have a feeling I have now gone on far too long, and have now well overstayed my welcome, so I will bow out for the rest of the discussion. Thanks for letting me present my perspective.

James Pate said...

But the Israelites didn't enter because of their lack of faith. They were afraid of the giants. They thought they couldn't take them on. Numbers and Deuteronomy both present that. Jewish literature accepts that story.

xHWA said...

As my honest observation of the parts of the FAQ I read on "Jews for Judaism", I would have to conclude they are using the same tactics I saw used so very many times from HWA.
Take this article for instance. Now, what I see is a person who takes all translations that appear to disagree with his idea, tosses them, rearranges some words, creates a new phrase, and then has to fill in the gap with a story about the new phrase.

It is obvious that this person has studied Hebrew. It is obvious that this person is zealous for his view of the truth. I don't fault anyone for that. But just because he says something doesn't make it so. He does, after all, counter thousands of years of other Jewish, Hebrew speaking scholars and then blames their error on the Christians, openly admitting that he has no proof for his accusations.

I mean, come on. This guy may be a saint, but I don't know him from Adam. What I do know is this is precisely the same set of tactics regularly employed by HWA. And not only HWA, but all cult leaders, and indeed all historical revisionists of any vein.

That's my take.

Anonymous said...

"But the Israelites didn't enter because of their lack of faith."

Right, but I was quoting Luc's original post, which contends that this is what Hebrews 4 says. Needless to say, I don't agree with that viewpoint, and I'm glad you don't either.

Anonymous said...

Don't get me wrong, xHWA, I don't agree, by and large, with the majority of the viewpoint espoused on the JfJ site (I am an atheist, after all, and they're big about pushing the overseer god of their version of the "old testament".), I'm just presenting the site as a counterpoint to Christian apologetics.

When you compare the two, it's very easy to see (as you recognized) that fundamentalism is as fundamentalism does, no matter what the brand name on the cover.

Read the personal stories on the JfJ site, though, and I think you will see why the founder of the site is as fundy as many of us can be, after exiting Armstrongism: Some of the horror stories they tell about the Messianic "Jewish" movement (it isn't really, and is pretty much a closed high-demand group/system of its own) sound just like us!!!

Anonymous said...

Hebrews 4:9 There remaineth therefore a rest (keeping of the Sabbath) to the people of God.

The word translated rest in Heb 4:9is sabbatismoV, pronounced sabbatismos, which means “Sabbath rest, Sabbath observance” (Arndt and Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament).

This difinition of the Greek word sabbatismoV (sabbatismos) is confirmed by other historic works The words ‘sabbath rest’ is translated from the GK noun sabbatismos, [and is] a unique word in the NT. This term appears also in Plutarch (Superset. 3 [Moralia 166a]) for sabbath observance, and in four post-canonical Christian writings which are not dependent on Heb. 4:9” (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 5, p. 856).

Luc said...

The context of Hebrews 4 is about the Israelite going in to the promised land as a type of sabbath rest which was not the ultimate goal that the sabbath day represented which is the seventh thousand year day which is the completion of mans six days of doing his own thing.

Seeker Of Truth said...

This is the problem: when one has preferences for truth, one will see what one wants to see.

There is a point being made in Hebrews four just as in Galatians four, but those who have a truth preference ignore the context and then the letter doesn't make sense.
Have you read the Bible Symbology article? It talks about how the symbology must be consistent, like fractals. If they don't then something is being misunderstood.

For a moment, put yourself in my shoes and look at Hebrews 4 and Galatians 4 through my eyes (nothing bad will happen to you for doing so) and see if it makes sense. Determine what the summery of what Paul's point is.

A lot of people really don't like it when I suggest going out and buying a Logic Problem puzzle book and doing all the puzzles in that book, but it is great exercise for developing, well... logic.
In Logic Problems you learn how one single sentence holds SO much information and how much can be derived from it, and THAT is a VERY useful tool when it comes to Bible study.
Remember the Karate Kid, wax on, wax off? He wanted to know how waxing Mr. Miyagi's car was going to teach him Karate. Well, that's Logic Problems.

Paul repeats himself, trying to explain that he is not talking about the seventh day Sabbath but of the seventh thousand year Sabbath, the Kingdom of God.

This is not the word sabbaton G4521 which IS the weekly Sabbath, it is the word G 4520 sabbarismos - the repose of Christianity (as a type of heaven). In other words: the rest that is in the Kingdom of God.
Go look at Hebrews four again, and look at the context.
I thought I explained it pretty well in this article.