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εἰσερχόμεθα γὰρ εἰς τὴν κατάπαυσιν οἱ πιστεύσαντες καθὼς εἴρηκεν Ὡς ὤμοσα ἐν τῇ ὀργῇ μου Εἰ εἰσελεύσονται εἰς τὴν κατάπαυσίν μου καίτοι τῶν ἔργων ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου γενηθέντων(Heb. 4:3 TR)

"We enter indeed into the rest those having believed; as He has said, So I swore in the wrath of me (never) will they enter into the rest of me, though truly(His) works(are the ones) from (the) foundation of (the) world have been finished." (Interlinear)

The word "κατάπαυσιν" appears numerous times throughout Heb. 3 & 4, and although Thayer's translates it as "a putting to rest", it's widely understood as the closest Greek word to שָׁבַת֙(Sabat) which puts in context both the 3rd and 4th chapters.

My question is: Is it fair to call "κατάπαυσιν" שָׁבַת֙ and how do we understand Heb. 4:3 in light of our understanding of "rest"?

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    Interesting question! FWIW, Heb 4:3 is quoting LXX Psalm 94:11 (Heb/Eng 95:11), which corresponds in BHS to a noun from נוח rather than שבת. This appears to be the most common Hebrew correspondence of the LXX noun κατάπαυσις, but the related verb καταπαύω does frequently translate the verbal form of שבת.
    – Susan
    Feb 25 '15 at 20:11
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The first reference is in Hebrews 3:11 where it's referring to Psalm 95:11, which is אֶל־מְנוּחָתִי (into my resting place).

There are two things that this concept is being used to allude to: 1) Psalm 95 and Hebrews 3 are using it (and its Greek equivalent) to refer to the promised land. 2) Heb 4:9 uses it to allude to the Sabbath.

This motif of "entering into my rest" is, then, equivalent to neither of these things. In 4:8 this is made explicit: "For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not speak later about another day." i.e. this rest is neither the promised land nor Sabbath. Both images are being used to explain something else. What is it?

Note Revelation 14:13 - "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on...for they will rest from their labor."

It is surely salvation and eternal life. Both the promised land and the Sabbath typify and point forward towards salvation and eternal life. I've often wondered if entering into his rest alludes now also to resting from our works in a sense of accepting salvation by grace, but I think that would be a step too far for the text.

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  • "Both the promised land and the Sabbath typify and point forward towards salvation and eternal life". Agreed! Can we therefore say that "Sabat" is more than one's ceasing from labor(rest) and an "invitation to eternal union" with God?
    – Tau
    Mar 23 '15 at 4:16
  • I would say so, but that seems like too much theology for a hermeneutics site. I'm new here so I'm not sure of the expected balance.
    – Paul Dean
    Mar 23 '15 at 9:08
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The context is pretty normative here. Heb 4:4 relates "rest" to the Sabbath:

as one text says, referring to the seventh day: And God rested on the seventh day after all the work he had been doing. (NJB)

Hebrews 4:5 relates it to the (final) resting "place" as well:

And, again, the passage above says: They will never reach my place of rest. (NJB)

Verse 6 makes it clear that the writer is not talking about the Jewish Sabbath since he says in part:

... since those who first heard the good news were prevented from entering by their refusal to believe, (NJB)

And just to make sure we know it's not some other resting place such as the promised land (Canaan), Hebrews 4:8 says:

If Joshua had led them into this place of rest, God would not later have spoken of another day. (NJB)

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