“A Sabbath Rest For The People Of God”: An Exegetical Study Of Hebrews 4:9–10 -- By: Richard C. Barcellos

Journal: Journal of the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies
Volume: JIRBS 06:0 (NA 2019)
Article: “A Sabbath Rest For The People Of God”: An Exegetical Study Of Hebrews 4:9–10
Author: Richard C. Barcellos


“A Sabbath Rest For The People Of God”:
An Exegetical Study Of Hebrews 4:9–10

Richard C. Barcellos*

* Richard C. Barcellos, Ph.D., is pastor of Grace Reformed Baptist Church, Palmdale, CA. He is author of Better than the Beginning: Creation in Biblical Perspective, The Lord’s Supper as a Means of Grace: More than a Memory, The Covenant of Works: Its Confessional and Scriptural Basis, Getting the Garden Right: Adam’s Work and God’s Rest in Light of Christ (from which this article is based), and Trinity and Creation: A Scriptural and Confessional Account (forthcoming). English Bible translations are from the New American Standard Bible, 1995, unless noted otherwise. This article first appeared in The Confessional Presbyterian Journal 2017 and is used with permission.

Hebrews 4 is a passage that has been used to support the case for a day of sacred rest for the people of God under the inaugurated new covenant. Verses 9 and 10 are used to argue this, which read, “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His” (Heb. 4:9–10). In my view, this is the clearest text in the New Testament indicating the redemptive-historical and Christological basis for the shift of a Sabbath day from the last day of the week to the first day of the week. I do not think the case for a Sabbath day to be kept under the new covenant relies solely on this text, however. The argument for a first-day, Christian Sabbath is quite extensive. It is a scriptural argument; that is, it takes into account the entire Bible exegetically, redemptive-historically, and systematically. Such a study, however, is far beyond the scope of this article.

It is important to admit that good men disagree as to what is going on in this text as it relates to the Sabbath. For example, some see Hebrews 4:9–10 referring to the future alone, denying any present Sabbath day.1 Others see an already/not-yet motif here, viewing the “Sabbath rest” as the believer’s rest in Christ.2 Some see the “Sabbath

rest” as wholly future, though advocating the Lord’s Day as the Christian Sabbath on other grounds.3 Still others view this text as advocating a day of...

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