John Owen.

An exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews; with the preliminary exercitations (Volume 2) online

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\ifually in other authors, fignifies (fiucyn :n;po?iere, ceffare

fjrerej to put an endy or to make to ceafe ; as reft puts an
end to labour. So the word is ufcd, ver. 10. * Hath

* ccafcd from his works.' — [\-<JHq) Jefus \ that is, Jofluia ;
and by fo calling him the apoftlc alfo, declares what was
the true TJehreiu name of Jefus Chrift ; the Greek names
being alike, fo were the Hebrew ones. Now as perfons
on great occafions liad their names, as to their fignifi-
cations, zvholly changed ; — for inftancc, when in the Old
Teflanjcnt Jacob was called Ifrael, and Solomoji, Jede-

diah i


diah ; and in thfc New Teftament Simon was called Peter,
and Saul was called Paul ; and as divers had double names
occafionally givfeh them, as Efther and HadufTa, Daniel
and Beltefliazzar : — fo God was pleafcd fometimes to
change one lettir in a name, not without a myftical ligni-
iication ; as the name of Abram was changed into Abra-
ham ; and that of Sarai into Sarah, [Gen. xvii. 5 — 15.]
and here the name of Hofea is changed into Jehofhua, by
the addition of one of the letters of the name of God in-
creafing the fignification ; which name was given him as
he was a type of Chrift, or the typical Saviour of the peo-
ple. It is plain, that the reafon of the name is taken from
its fignification of y^/w>7^ ; he Jhall fave, or, be the favi-
our ; and all the attempts that fome have made to derive it
from other words, are vain and frivolous ; fo alfo are
theirs who would deduce the Greek name (I=cr8$-) JefuSy
from [luM, Io^o-m) to heal ; for (Iso-ag) J'^fus, is of no fig-
nification at all in the Greek tongue, it being only their
manner of pronouncing [v^w) Jejhua^ w^hich is a Saviour i
and which was given to the Lord Chrifl becaufe of the
work he had to do ; and to this Jefus the fon of Nun, his
type, for the fame reafon.

§ 2. * He would not have fpoken concerning another

* day.' The apoftle having defcribed the reft he fpcaks of
by the fpecial day of reft that was in the feveral ftates of
the church peculiarly to be obferved, now (by a fynech-
doche) he expretleth the ivhole reft itfelf and all the con-
cernments of it, by the name of a day. — ' He would not

* have fpoken \ that is, either God abfolutely, or the Holy
Ghoft, whofe immediate work the infpiration of the pfal-
mift was, whofe words tliefe are — ' After thefe things ;'
the things which befel the people in the wildernefs, and
what they afterwards attained under the condu<^ of Jofhua.
The objc^lion laid down, by way of antlc'ipat'ion^ is plain
in the words, * Although the people which came out of

* Egypt entered not into the promifed reft of God, by

* reafon of unbelief and difobedience, as you have proved ;

* yet the next generation, under the conduft of Jofluia,

* entered and enjoyed it ; therefore, what ground have

Vol. IL ' N n II * you


* you to propofe another rcll: to us f' This is the force of
tlic obje<5\ion ; and the rcalbii of his denial is, that five
hundred years after, God, by ]3avid, propofcth another
reft, or, another day of rejl^ and invites the people to an
entrance, after they were fo long fully poiTefTed of all that
Jofliua condu(fted them into. And whereas there was no
new reft for the people to enter into in the days of David,
and the pfalm, wherein thefe words are recorded, is ac-
knowledged to be prophetical of the days of the Mcffiah, it
"unavoidably follows, that there is yet a re/i, and a day of reft
remaining for the people of God, [as ver. 9.]

§ 3. This interpretation of the words perfe£\ly fatif-
■fieth tlie argument m hand ; but yet I judge there is jnore in
them than a mere anfwer to the ohjcf^tions mentioned,
though cxpofitors look no farther, viz. That the apoftle
alfo defigns to teach the Hebrews that all thefe things,
which were fpoken about the reft of God in the land of
Canaan and Mofaical inftitutions, had not the reality or fub-
i\ance of the things themfelves in them, [Heb. x. i.] lb
that absolutely neither did God reft, nor were the people
to look for reft in them : they had no other end or ule,
but to teach them to look out after, and to prepare for
that reft which was promifed of old ; fo that Joftiua did
not give them real reft , but only that which was a typical
iaftru£lion for a feafon. And therefore in David the fame
matter is ftill carried on, and dire£^ion is ftill given to look
out after t\\t future reft.

§ 4. (II.) Olf. I. There is no true reft for the fouls of
men, but only in Jcfus Chrift by the gofpcl. Notwith-
ftanding all thatwas done for the Ifraclitcs by Jofluia, yet
he gave them not reft, he brought them not into the full
and complete reft cf God ; * having provided fome better
' things for us, that they without us Ihould not be made
* perfeft :' and the grand realbn hereof is, becaufe God
him felf reft eth not in any thing elfe \ and in his reft alone it
is that wc can find any; yes, utterly vain is it for ui to
feck reft in that wherein God refteth not. Trouble and
difquictude entered into the whole creation by the fin and
spoftacy of Adam ; God no more refted in the woiks of



his hands, but curfed the earth, [Gen. iii. 17 — 19.]
made tlie whole creation fubjed to vanity, [Rom. viii.
20.] and revealed his wroth from heaven againft the un-
godlinefs of men, [Rom. i. 18.] And hereof he hath in
all ages fince given fignal inflances ; as in the deluge,
wherewith he drowned the old world ; the fire from heaven
wherewith he burned Sodom and Gomorrah, &c. Man
hath alfo utterly loft his reft in that firll reft of God ; and
though he feveral ways feek after it, yet, like the unclean
ipirit cafl out of his habitation, he can find none. Some
feek it in the world with its plcafures and profits ; fome in
the gratification of their fenfual lufts ; fome in their own
goodnefs and felf-righteoufncfs ; fome in fuperftition, and
vain w^ays of rehgious worihip invented by themfelves ;
but all in vain. Man hath loft his reft by falling from
God, and nothing will afford him the leaft quietnefs, but
what brings him to him again, which none of thefe w^ays
will do. It is in Christ alone our loft reft may be re-
covered, for in him alone, as declared in the gofpel, doth
God reft, who is our exemplar.

§ 5. It is furely, therefore, our wifdom in our inquiry
after reft, (which, whether w^e take notice of it or not, is
the main defign of our lives) that, in all we project or
execute, we do not take up with any thing beneath him,
or ivithout him. The enjoyments of the world, the
TJghteoufnefs of the law, the outward ordinances of divine
worfliip, fay openly and plainly, that reji is not in them. If
all thofe in conjunction had been fatisfa£tory to that end,
then had Jojhua given the people reft, and there had been
no mention of another day. Yea, whatever reft they may
afford, lawfully ufed, it is none in comparifon of that
which is to be obtained in Chrift Jcfus ; hence he himfelf
invites us to him under this very notion, of giving ' reft
* to our fouls,' [Matt. xi. 28.] and in him there is no
want, no defe<St, no fadingncfs, no difappointment. He
that ^cfts in the world, in himfelf, in his own righteouf-
nefs, or even in God's ordinances, will never come to
true refl until he be deprived of all expetltation from, and
confidence in them.

N r\ n 2 § 6.


§ 6. Ohf. 2. The gofpcl church ftate is a ilate of fpi-
ritual reft in Chrift. How many pretend to an intercft
in this church flate, who plainlv and openly feck after
their rell in other things ; many in their own duties, but
moft in their lufls, and the plcafurcs of the world. Where
is the privilege of fuch pcrfons as thefe, above that of
the Ifraelitcs under Jolhua f Can they fay that the Lord
Chrifl hath given them reft for their fouls in the gofpcl ?
Alas ! they have no refl at all ; in what they puifuc, the
gofpcl hath no concernment. Did Chrift come, think
you, to give you reft in your lufts, in your fins, in your
lawlcfs and carnal picafure ? God forbid ; he came to give
you xt^from thcfc things, in himself.

§ 7. Obf. 3. It is a great mercy and privilege to have
a d^iy of rfji and worfhip given us. The apoftlc doth not
fay, that after thefe things he fpcaks o{ another rcjl^ but of
another day \ for from the foundation of the world wc were
taught our reft in God by a dav of reft given us. When
by ftn we forfeited our intereft in that reft itfclf, God
might have juftly deprived all the world of the knowledge
of that day of reft iirft appointed ; but now the reft of
God being again eftablifhed, he hath appointed for us an-
other day, as in the text. And this is a great mercy and
privilege ; for it is a pledge of our refl in God\ which is the
life, happinefs, and blelfcdncfs of our fouls. Again ; it
is a pledge of tJje recovery of this refl for us ; and that it is
not abfolutely the fame reft in God whcreunto we were
made, but another, a better and more fure ; therefore ano-
ther day is given us, and not the fame as that of old : but
.-mother day could not be eftablilhed but with refpeft to the
iL'orks of Chiijl already wrought, and as a pledge of them.
Moreover, it is given as a mcayis of entering into the reft of
Clod; for on this day hath God ordained that the folcmn
declaration of his mind and will concerning liis reft, and
our entrance into it, Ihould be more cfpcciallv made to us.
On this wc do therefore celebrate that folcmn wcrfliip of
God, whereby we exprcfs our faith concerning our reft
and acquicfccncc in him, and by which, as means ap -



pointed for that end, we are admitted into that bhfsful
repofe, and carried on gradually towards its full and
eternal enjoyment.

Verses ix. x.


§ I. 'The term rcjl Includes the Chrift'ian fahhath, § 2. The
analogy betivcen the feveral rejis of God and his people.
§ 3. That the evangelical fabbath Is intended, farther proved.
§ 4. I'Vho intended by the people of God. § 5 — 7. The
true foundation of the Chrift'ian fab bath. % 8. Corollaries.
§ 9. Ohfervation. That believers under the New Tcftamcnt
have loft no privilege that was enjoyed under the old. §10.
jddditional obfervations.

% l.jfiAVIN'G pafled through his teftimonics and argu-
ments^ the apoflle, in thefe verfes, lays down both what
he hath evinced in his whole difputation, as alfo the gene-
ral foundation of it, in anfwer to the principles of his
preceding difcourfe. (A7ro7^3i7rP,cci relinquitur, f^P^^i^J
it is lefty it remains, it is evinced ; for this word may refer
to iaooi) therefore, and be a part of the conclulion follow-
ing ; and fo the verb is to be taken imperfonally, // rc^
maincth therefore, or this is that which we have proved. In
this fenfe the verb {c<7roKsi7rfl(xi) is the moaification of
the concluiion, and is not of the fubflance of it, or one
of the terms of the propofition. Or, the word may refer
to the following {(rccKo^ai l<t ^og) and be of a neutral figni-
fication ; a fabbatifm, or reft rcmaincth ; there is yet
anotlicr reft remaining and abiding for the people of God



to enter into, bcfides thofe before mentioned. It remaineth,
that is, God hath prepared it, promifcd it, and invites us
to enter into it. {liocfiSujiT^cg} a Jabbaufm \ this word is
framed by our apofllc from an Hebrew original, by the
addition of a Greek termination ; and fo becomes com-
prehenfivc of tlie whole {<:T\{f:, to be exprefTcd, which no
other fmgle word in either would do. The original word
{ri.^) lignifies, to rcjl ; and is firll ufed to exprefs the
reft of God after his works of creation ; [Gen. ii. 2.]
* and he rejhd (or fabbatized) on the I'evcnth day.' Hence
the word is ufed by our apoDle to fhew, tliat the reft
which he now aflerts for the people of God, is founded in
the reft of God himfclf. If this had not been intended,
it might indeed have been {ccvwrrccxjo-iq) a reft in general, it
could not have been (o-al3Ca.T:(riJLog) a fabbatifm, a fabba-
tiling reft ; for there is no foundation for any fuch name
but in the reft of God. Hence this word came to exprefs
the day Q^ reft appointed for man, [Exod. xx. 10 — 12.]
becaufc God {7\-y^Jhabbaih) r^/Zt^/ from his uw/'i, he bleffed
the day of refi, the fabbath which he would have us re-
member to keep. Now our apoftlc having proved, that
the confidcration of that original reji of God, as to its
iirft ends and purpofes, is removed, and confequently the
day it fdf founded thereon, and another reft introduced, to
be exprelTcd by another day, he calls it a fnbbatijm, which
is calculated to exprefs both the reft itfelf, and the obfer-
vation of another day likewife, as a pledge and token of it,
and of our fpiritual interell therein. The word then
doth not precifely intend either a day oi reft, or 2. fpiritual
reft ; but tlic 'ivbole of our reft in Go^with refpe£l to /6/i —
alfo comprizing that day which is the token thereof.

§ 2. And hereby the apoftlc completes the due analogy
that is between tlic feveral rcfts of God and his people.
?'or, as at the beginning of the ivorld there was firft the
work of God, and his rejl thereon, which made way for
a reft for his people in hirnfelf, and in his worlhip, by the
contemplation of his works which he had made, and on
the fmifhing of which he rcftcd ; and a day determined,



blefled and ran£lified, to exprefs that reft of God, which
was the fabbatifm of the people of God from the founda-
tion of the world ; — and as at the givhig of the law there
was a gXQ2.tvjork of God, and his reji m finifhing his work,
and the cftablilhment of his worlhip in the land of Canaan,
which made way for the people's entering into his reft, and
had a day affigncd them to exprefs the one and the other,
and to help them to enter finally into the reft of God ; all
which were types and fhadows of the reft mentioned by Da-
vid, and which was their fabbatifing reft : — fo now under
the gofpel — there is 2^fahhaufm comprehenfive of all thcfe.
For there was, as we lliall fee, a great voork of God ; and an
enfuing reji of his own, on which is founded the promife
of reft fpiritual and eternal to believers ; and the determi-
nation of a new ^^jK, exprelhve of the reft of God, and our
reft in him; which is i\\q fabbatifm that our apoftle here
affirms to remain for the people of God, which is the first


§ 3. Now befides the evidence that arifeth from the
whole context, there are two conliderations which make it
undeniably manifeft, that the apoftl^ here proves — the
granting of an evangelical f abb ath^ or day of reft for the
worOiip of God to be conftantly obferved ; though he
doth not this only, nor feparately ; which, whilft fome have
aimed to prove, they have failed in their aim; not being
able to maintain a fabbatical reft exclufively, in oppofttion
either to a fpiritual or eternal reft, for it is not here con-
fidered in that view.

Now thefe confiderations are,

I. The introduction of the fcvcnth day s rcf into this
difcourfe, and the mentioning of our gofpel reft by the
name of a day. Unlefs the apoftle had defigned the decla-
ration oi a day of refl now under the gofpel, as well as a
real fpiritual reft by believing, there is no tolerable rea-
fon to be given for his mentioning the worhs of God, his
reft, and his appointment of the old fabbath ; which, with-
out refpeft to another day, doth greatly obfcurc and involve
his difcourfe.

1 2. His


fi. His ufc of this word (a-cx,fi^oPii( fahbatifm^ coined
as it were for this purpofe, that it might comprifc the
Jp'iy'iiual rcjl^ aiid alfo exprcfs fahbath keeping. \Vhcn lie
fpeaks of our reft in geyieral^ he ftill ufcs another word,
{yjzjciTrrAwig) adding, that there was a fpccial day for its
cnjoyiiicnti Here he introduccth {a-u(ZQo:7ia-u,cg) fah-
batlfm ; which his way of arguing would not have allowed,
had he not dcfigned to exprcfs the Chr'ijUan fahbath.

§ 4. * To the people of God.* Thofc of old to whom
the rcll of Canaan was propofed, were (c Xuoq 7« 0ii^) the
people cf CjoJ\ and God hath a people flill to whom reft Is
promifcJ ; and whom he hath before defcribcd thus, [vef.
3.] ' li'e who have beiicicd do enter into reft.' Here he
defcribes them by their relation to God, and the privilege
that depended thereon ; they are * the people of God^'' that
ate intercfted in this fabbatifm. And the apoftlc make?
\ife of this defcriptlon of them upon a double account:

1. Bccaufc their hcxng \\\q people cf God, (that is, in co-
venant with him, for where a people is God's people, he
is thc'ir God, [Hof. ii. 23.] was the grcateft and mort com-
prehenfive privilege that the Hebrews had to boaft o^ ;
this was their glory, and that which exalted them above
all nations in the world, fo their church pleads: [Ifa.
Ixiii. 19.] * We are thine, thou never barcft rule over
' them, thy name was not called on them.* That is,
they were never called * the people of Jehovali,' becaufc
never taken into covenant with him. This privilege, the
apoftle lets them know, belongs as well to them that be-
lieve under the New Teftament, as it did to them under
the Old. Abram was become now Abraham, * a father
* of many nation^;.* And as thofc who were his carnal
feed of old were * the people of God ;' io God had now
a pc'jpUy his children ' according to the faith.'' They Ihall
kc therefore that they Ihnll lofe nothing, no privilege, by
coming over to the jrofpd fate by faith in Chrift JeUis.
Upon a new account they become * the people of God/
which intercfts them and their children in the covenant,
with the feaU and all the ordinances of it, even as former-
Jv. P'or rliiv n inK*. Piorr r. •! otli not primarily refpc»:t


Ver. 9, 10. EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS.' 463

Individuals y but a colle^live body of men, with all their rela-
tions. Believers, not f.ngly confidcred, but they and
their fccd^ or their children, are this * people ;' and where
they arc excluded from the initial ordinance of the covenant,
I know not how believers can be called the ' people of

* God.'

2. He proceeds farther, and fliews them that this privi-
lege is now transferred from the old ilate, and Canaan rej}^
to them that enter into this reft of God under the gofpel.
Hence, inftead oi lojing the privilege of being the ' people
' of God,' by faith in Chrift, he lets them know that they
could no longer retain the one, without the other. If they
failed in the latter, they would be no longer the ' people

* of God ;' and indeed ever fince they ceaied to be God's
people, they have been no people^ or enjoy no political rule
i\\ the world.

Thus, then, there * remaineth a reft,' ox fahhath keeping
for this people of God. But yet it may be faid, that this
fabbatifm wanteth a due foundation, in an elpecial ivork,
and refl of God. For as, if God had not done a nevj
work, and refled in it, at the giving of the law, and the
eftablifliment of his worfhip, whereby a new world, as it
were, was erected, there could have been no new reft for
his people to enter into, but all muft have regarded that
which was from the foundation of the world ; fo if there
be not a new work and reft of God, now wrought and en-
tered into by him, there cannot be a new reft, and a new
day of reft for the people of God. This objefliion, there-
fore, the apoftle removes in the following verfe, and nia-
nifefts that there is a new hleffed foundation for the reft he
he now propofeth.

§ 5. ' For he that is entered into his reft, he alfo hath

* ceafed from his works, as God from his own,' fo arc the
words to be read. Expofitors generally apply thefc words
to believers, and their entering into the reft of God ; but
I am not fatisfied with that expofition, and (with becom-
ing deference to the wife, learned, and godly) look upon
it as that which neither fuits the defign of the apoftle, nor
9an bear a tolerable itwi^ in its particular application.

Vol. II, Q o Q For


Yov, firfiy fuppofmg believers to be here intended, what are
the u^orks they are laid to reft iVoni ? Their fins, fav fome ;
tlicir labours, forrows, and I'uiFeriiigs, fay others ; from
thefe they rcjl in heaven. But how can they be faid to reft
from thefe zuorks, as God refled from his own r For God
fo reftcd from his, as' to take the grcatcft delight and fa-
tisfaftion in them, and to be as it were refrcfhcd by them.

* In fix days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the

* fevcnth day he rrftcd, and was refrejhcd' [Exod. xxxi.
17.] He fo refled y>fiw thcm^ as that he refted in them^ and
hlejjcd them ; and fandiified the time wherein they were
finilhed. — ^gain^ when are men fuppofcd to reft from
thefe works r It cannot be in this world ; for here we refl
not at all from temptations, fufferings, and forrows ; and
in tlic mortification of fin we are to tight continually, re-
lifling even unto blood. It muft be, therefore, in heaven
that they fo reft ; but (however affirmed by fome) this fup-
pofition utterly excludes the reft of the gofpel from the
apoftle's difcourfe, and fo enervates it, that his whole pre-
fent argument is nothing to his purpofe, and therefore is in-

§ 6. It appears, therefore, that it is the reft cf another
that is here intended ; even that of Chrijl from his works,
which is compared to the reft of God from his at the foun-
dation of the world. For (i.) The conjun£fion (yap)
for^ which introduccth the aflertion, manifefts that the
apoftle in thefe words, gives an account whence it is that
there is a nz'N fahbatifm remaining for the people of God.
He had proved before, that there could be no fuch rej}^
but what was founded in the ivorks of God, and his reft
that enfued thereon. Such a foundation, therefore, he
faith, this new ;r/? hath, which muft be in tlic works and
reft of Chrif}^ by whom the church was built. For as
that reft, which all the world was to obfcrve, was founded
in his works and refl wlio built and made the world ; fo
the reft of the gofpel church is to be founded in his works
and rr/i^ by whom the church was built, fefus Chrift.
For he on account of his works and reft is alfo * tlic
' Lord of the fabbath,' to abrogate one day, and to in-



ftitute another. (2.) The apoftle here changeth the
manner of his alTcrtion, from the plural abfolutely, * JVe
' who believe ;' of which there can be no reafon given,
but only to llgnify the introduflion oi a Jingular perfori.
(3.) The reft which he is faid to enter into, is called his
reft^ abfolutely. (4.) There is a dirc£t parallel in the
whole verfe, between the works of the old creation and
thofe of the new ; which the apoftle is evidently com-
paring together. Now God rcjled from his own zvorks of
creation, by ceaiing to create, only continuing all things
by his pov\^er in their order, and propagating them to his
glory, by his refpect to them, or refrelhment in them, as
fetting forth his praife, and fatisfying his glorious defign
— and fo alfo muft He rejl, who is here fpoken of; he
muft ceafe from zvorking in the like kind ; he muft fuiFer
no more, die no more, but only continue the work of
his grace, in the prefer vation of the new creature, and the
orderly increafe and propagation of it by the Spirit ; in
the delight and fatIsfa6tion he taketh m his works. Jefus
Chrift fees of the travail of his foul and is fatisficd, being
in pofieilion of that glory w^hich was fet before him.

§ 7. This his entrance into reft was at his refurre£lmi
from the dead ; for then was he freed from the fentence
and ilroke of the law, and difcharged all the debt of our
iin, which he had undertaken to make fatisfa£lion for ;
[A<^s ii. 24.] then were all types and predictions fulfilled
that concerned the work of our redemption ; then par-
ticularly that work was done, which anfwcreth to God^s
creating work ; then was Satan abfolutely fubdued, peace
with God reftored, and the whole foundation of the church
glorioufly laid ; the morning ftars fang together, and all
the fons of God Ihouted for joy ; then and therein was
he declared to be the Son of God with power, [Rom. i. 4.]
God manifelling to all, tiiat this was He to whom he faid,

Online LibraryJohn OwenAn exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews; with the preliminary exercitations (Volume 2) → online text (page 41 of 46)