Category Archives: HEBREWS 4

Encouragement to go on with God becasue of the high priest believers have in Jesus the Son of God.

HEBREWS 4

SUMMARY OF THE CHAPTER
Hebrews 4 continues the theme begun in chapter 2, namely, the movement of believers from earth to heaven, ably assisted by our captain who has led the way, 2:10, and who is our merciful and faithful high priest to support us when we are tempted, and the faithful Son over God’s house, ordering and administering for Him through His word to us.  The exhortations of chapter 3 were based on a quotation from Psalm 95, which described the attitude of the nation of Israel as they passed through the wilderness.  The emphasis in chapter 3 is on the failure of the majority, and the last verse quoted records God saying “They shall not enter into My rest”.

There is another way those words may legitimately be translated, however, as will be seen by reference to 4:3,5.  In these latter verses, instead of the impossibility of unbelievers entering into His rest because God says “They shall not”, the word is “If they shall enter”, meaning that the opportunity was open to some.  So when we come to chapter 4 we are thinking of true believers, who shall enter into rest.  There is still, however, the constant encouragement to the Hebrews to make these things good for themselves, since amongst them there were those in danger of apostatising.  They are reminded in verses 12 and 13 that the word of God that comes to them through the Son over God’s house is able to distinguish between mere profession and genuine faith.  This brings to an end the warning passage that began in 3:6.  In 4:14-16 the subject of the priesthood of Christ is resumed, as an encouragement to believers undergoing trial and temptation.

STRUCTURE OF THE CHAPTER

(a) Verses 1-11 Entry into the rest of God.
(b)  Verses 12,13  Exposure of false profession by word of God.
(c) Verses 14-16  Encouragement to approach the throne of God.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE OF THE HEBREWS CHAPTER 4, VERSES 1 TO 11

4:1  Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

4:2  For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

4:3  For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

4:4  For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.

4:5  And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.

4:6  Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:

4:7  Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

4:8  For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.

4:9  There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

4:10  For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

4:11  Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

(a)    Verses 1-11    Entry into the rest of God.

4:1  Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

Let us therefore fear- we are still in the warning passage that began in 3:6, so the Hebrews should realise the awful possibility of failure to enter in to what God had in store for them in Christ.  The wilderness was a testing-place for Israel, just as the world is for those who claim the name of Christ today.
Lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest- The basis of the teaching of these chapters is the incident in the wilderness when Israel refused to enter into the land of promise.  Chapter 3 has concentrated on those who did not enter in, whereas this chapter will deal with those who do.  In Numbers 14:34 God spoke of His “breach of promise”, or His refusal to allow the people to enter in because they were unbelieving.  The expression means His refusal of them, not His unfaithfulness to His promise.  Now those who are allowed in are described, for there is a promise still left, it has not been withdrawn.  In chapter 3 the writer concentrated on the middle section of his quote from Psalm 95, which dealt with the failure of the people.  Now he emphasises the beginning and end of the quotation, which deals with God’s faithfulness in continuing to speak to the people day by day, and offering them the opportunity of entering into His rest.  The promise has been left, not only in Psalm 95, but also in the ministry of Christ to Israel.
Any of you should seem to come short of it- to come short of the rest is to not enter into it, just as many in Israel came short of entering into Canaan, for their carcases fell in the wilderness.  By saying “seem”, the writer is showing he envisages some may seem genuine but are not so.  Yet he says “seem to come short”, not “seem to be those who enter in.”  This is a reminder that he is referring to God’s knowledge of their hearts, as verse 13 will say.  They may appear to others to seem to be ready to enter in, but God sees that they come short.  The word for “seem” has the idea of opinion, so it is God’s opinion of them that is in view. 

4:2  For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them- Caleb and Joshua came back from spying out the land of Canaan and told good news about its fruitfulness, and that God was able to give them the land if they trusted Him, Numbers 13:25-30.  The Lord and His apostles had also preached the good news of the kingdom of God, available to Israel on the basis of repentance and faith, as 2:3,4 has reminded them.  A great salvation was offered to them, and proofs of Christ’s ability to bring in the kingdom were shown, not only by the Lord Himself, but by the apostles as well.  Interestingly the proof of the goodness of the land of Canaan was the bunch of grapes that the spies brought back with them.  Significantly, the Lord Jesus began His miracle ministry by turning water into wine, showing He could bring in kingdom conditions, John 2:1-11.
But the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it- despite the encouragement to trust in God that Caleb and Joshua gave to the people, they refused to go in.  They therefore did not profit from the good things in store in the land.  It is clear that the kingdom can only be entered by believers.  Nicodemus had to learn to come to an end of himself as a Rabbi and Pharisee, and find his all in Christ crucified.  Only when born again through faith could he be fit for the kingdom, John 3:1-16.  It was on the borders of the promised land that the brazen serpent was lifted up, so that those who were bitten by the serpent, and hence were in danger of perishing in the wilderness, could be given life, and enter the land.  It was the generation that had been spared the judgement of God on their forefathers for refusing the land that were given this provision, for they too were in danger of dying outside of the land.

4:3  For we which have believed do enter into rest, as He said, As I have sworn in My wrath, if they shall enter into My rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

For we which have believed do enter into rest- clearly the rest that is spoken of in these verses is that which God calls His own, but which He invites others to enjoy.  God can only rest in what His Son achieves for His glory, and so the rest here is Christ’s kingdom on earth, when He shall administer for God as His Firstborn Son.  This has been in view ever since chapter 1:6-9.  When Israel refused to enter into the land, God said, “As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord”, Numbers 14:21.  He also described the people of Israel as those who had seen His glory, and His miracles which He had done in Egypt and the wilderness, verse 22.  The generation the writer to the Hebrews addresses had also seen the miracles and glory of the Lord, but many had refused Him.  Nonetheless He will still come to them and set up His glorious kingdom, and “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea”, Habakkuk 2:14. 
In principle, because true believers are born again, and are able to see or discern the kingdom of God, John 3:3, they enter in that sense into rest in the present.  It only awaits the manifestation of that kingdom for everything to be fully realised, and then they shall enter the kingdom of God when it is manifest, John 3:5.  The same idea is found in Hebrews 12:18, 22, where believers are said to have come, not to Mount Sinai, but Mount Zion.  To come to Mount Sinai is to come into the bondage of the law in one’s heart; to come to Mount Zion is to come to the freedom of Christ’s glorious kingdom in one’s heart.  It was not a question of coming physically to either mountain, but coming in soul.  “Do enter” is in the tense which signifies something is happening in the present.
As He said, As I have sworn in My wrath, if they shall enter into My rest- because He has put Himself on oath, and because that oath is based on the fact that He lives, (see Numbers 14:21), then it cannot be withdrawn.  What can be withdrawn, however, is the offer to those who, by not believing, show themselves unfit for the kingdom.  The idea of wrath is not to the fore here, but it was appropriate in chapter 3 where the unbelief of the nation is emphasised.
Although the works were finished from the foundation of the world- it is interesting to notice that in chapter 1, immediately Christ is spoken of as being introduced into the earth to reign, then His work as creator of heavens and earth is mentioned, 1:10.  Instead of mentioning this when speaking of Christ as the one through whom the worlds were made, in verse 2, it is mentioned in connection with the reign of Christ.  The writer here connects the rest of God with the creation week, for Scripture makes clear that one of the primary purposes of the creation of the world was that Christ might rule over it for God, so that His glory might be displayed.  Adam had been given this task, equipped with glory and honour in order to be effective, but he failed, as chapter 2 explains.  Only Jesus can rule the habitable earth for God.  When He comes to reign He will set up His throne of glory, and judge the nations.  Those who believe in Him from among Israel, and also those from the Gentiles who are sympathetic to them, shall inherit the kingdom “prepared from the foundation of the world”, Matthew 25:34.  As Moses had said long before, “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.  For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance”, Deuteronomy 32:8,9.
So when God rested from His six days of creation-work, He did so because the scene was now set for His kingdom to be established.  Initially granting rule to Adam, He did so with a view to demonstrating that only His Son become flesh could function as ruler effectively.  And only those who are in relationship with Him shall have any share in that glorious rule.
We are not to think that the works are not yet completed, and that is why the rest is not yet entered.  The works were finished long ago at the beginning- it is man who is not ready.  The Lord Jesus is recorded as having worked seven miracles on the sabbath day, so there is a coming together in His ministry of the idea of rest, and the “powers of the age to come”, 6:5 margin.

4:4  For He spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all His works.

For He spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise-  the foundation of the world and the seventh day are spoken of together, for “in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day”, Exodus 20:11.  The creating of heaven and earth as to its material was on the first day, and then the “all that in them is” was made in the ensuing period, ending with the sixth day.  There is no allowance here for millions of years between the making of heaven and earth in Genesis 1:1, and the subsequent days of 24 hours each.  In fact, the Lord Jesus spoke of the making of male and female as being “from the beginning of the creation”, Mark 10:6.
And God did rest the seventh day from all His works- by resting on the seventh day God established a principle which shall be true to the end of time in relation to the earth.  It is not in man’s best interests to work without a break.  One of the reasons why the nation of Israel was taken into captivity was their failure to observe the sabbath, especially in regard to the cropping of the land.  As they had not let the land rest once every seven years for 490 years, then it was forcibly rested for 70 years whilst Israel was in Babylon, 2 Chronicles 36:21.

4:5  And in this place again, If they shall enter into My rest.

And in this place again, If they shall enter into My rest- the writer again quotes from Psalm 95, and links the rest spoken of there with the rest spoken of in Genesis 2:2.  He does not distract us by precise details of the place where the passage is found.  No doubt most of his readers knew where to find the words anyway.  He makes no apology for quoting from the early chapters of Genesis, believing them to be equally the word of God with the rest of Scripture, see 2 Timothy 3:15-17.
Having rested Himself on the seventh day, God invites men to rest with Him, but this cannot be while they are in unbelief.  Verse 4 speaks of God’s works, and this verse of God’s rest.

4:6  Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:

Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein- Notice the “must”, for God is determined to have others resting with Him.  This is why the invitation is still valid, 6000 years after the finishing of creation.  He must bring it to pass for He has sworn by Himself to do it, for He can only swear by Himself, 6:13.
And they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief- Abraham was not invited to rest, because the conditions were not right at that time, for “the Canaanite was then in the land”, Genesis 12:6.  He, Isaac and Jacob dwelt in tents in the land, they were not settled there, Hebrews 11:9.  The first ones to have the gospel of a rest available were those who came out of Egypt under Moses.  Sadly, as chapter 3 has described, they refused to enter in, not because the rest was not available, but because of unbelief.  The word used in this passage for unbelief has the idea of disobedience. 

4:7  Again, He limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.

Again, He limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time- this entry into rest is not available indefinitely, for the opportunity is limited.  The readers of the epistle might miss out if they were not alert.  “In David” means in the book of psalms, written a long time after the book of Genesis, and even the book of Numbers, which records the refusal of the land.  God has waited patiently for others to join Him in true kingdom-rest.  Even David did not bring in rest.
As it is said, To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts- ominously the hardening of hearts is brought up here again, and explains why there is such a delay in bringing in the rest.  It cannot be entered by those who have hearts hardened by unbelief, 3:12,13.  There must be the fleshy heart of one who is responsive to the word of God, Ezekiel 36:26, “And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh”.  Note the connection between Ezekiel 36 and 37, and the new birth of water and the Spirit in John 3.  (See notes on John 3 for more on this).

4:8  For if Jesus had given them rest, then would He not afterward have spoken of another day.

For if Jesus had given them rest- the Greek word for Joshua and Jesus is the same.  The reference here, of course, is to Joshua, but the translation as Jesus does serve to highlight the meaning, that is, “Salvation of Jehovah”.  Joshua was originally named “Oshea”, but after he had been faithful in spying out the land, and in view of his leadership in taking the people in to the land, he was renamed by Moses.  Oshea means simply “Salvation”, but no doubt to avoid any misunderstanding as they entered the land, his new name reminded them that the salvation the land represented was of Jehovah, not Joshua.  Of course the Lord Jesus fills out the meaning of the name perfectly, for He Himself is the salvation of Jehovah.  See Matthew 1:21.  He is the captain of our salvation, 2:10.  Joshua was not able to rule for God and make the land a rest for God.  He was not even of the kingly tribe of Judah, nor did the nation possess all the land under his leadership.
Then would He not afterward have spoken of another day- clear proof that the rest was not gained through Joshua is seen in the fact that God spoke of the rest as in the future, long after the time of Joshua, in David’s day.

4:9  There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God- the conclusion of the matter is that there is still the opportunity of entering into God’s rest, as long as those concerned are genuinely the people of God, and not a mixed company, with some true and others false.  The word for rest used here is a different one, meaning “a keeping of sabbath”, thus fusing the idea of rest and seventh day together. 

4:10  For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His.

For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His- not only does the word for rest used in verse 9 merge together the thought of rest and seventh day, but here the idea of rest and ceasing from work as on the sabbath day are combined.  This verse speaks generally of the principle that the one who enters rest does so because he has stopped working.  But the stopping of work is deliberate ceasing, not through force of circumstances; it is a deliberate and meaningful action.  The verse does not say that the rest is entered yet, but simply that it is logical to say that someone who has entered into rest has stopped working.  So the principle established when God ceased working in creation week, is now applied to believers.  But we should not miss the implication of these words, namely that while we wait for the rest to come we should be diligently working for God’s interests, just as God worked for His interests on the six days of creation.  The next verse speaks of labouring to enter into rest, for only those who work deserve rest.  It is not work in the Epistle to the Galatians sense, where the idea of working for salvation is dealt with.  Here, work is commendable, just as God’s work was on days 1-6 of the creation week.

4:11  Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest- this shows that the rest is still future, and not some vague spiritualising of Scripture.  The idea in the word is that of diligence.  The whole epistle is designed to encourage diligent attention to Divine things.  By labouring constructively for God, we show we have the right to enter in rest.
Lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief- note the distinction between the people of God of verse 9, and any man, the latter word being used because profession is still being tested.  Those who fall would be illustrated by those who fell in the wilderness under the judgement of God, 3:17.  They illustrate the fall of those who have the kingdom presented to them, yet refuse it through disobedience.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS CHAPTER 4, VERSES 12 TO 13

4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

4:13  Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

(b)    Verses 12,13    Exposure of false profession by word of God.

4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

The warning passage that is just finished exhorted the Hebrews to be responsive to the word of Christ as it came to them, and not harden their hearts when they heard it.

The word of God is the great test when the question of true or false profession is under consideration.  The following scriptures will make this clear:
“If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”, John 8:31,32.
“He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God”, John 8:47.
“But ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep, as I said unto you.  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me:”  John 10:26,27.
“We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us”, 1 John 4:6.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful- the word of God is living and energetic, such is the statement here, and reminds us of how the warning passage began, even with the idea of the word of the Son, and the appeal to hear His voice, 3:6,7.  The word is “logos”, meaning the Word of God as one whole body of truth, as opposed to particular parts of the scriptures.  The living Word is able to expose dead profession, and the energetic word is able to expose a lack of zeal and diligence.
And sharper than any two-edged sword- the swords of men only act upon the physical body.  No matter how sharp they are they cannot reach the soul.
Piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit- probing deep within, the Word of God tests profession, whether it is just the emotion of the soul, or the genuine response of the spirit in obedience to the word of God.
And of the joints and marrow- these are the innermost parts of our body, which translate our intentions into action.  Just as the Word can divide between the non-physical parts of us, so it can separate between the physical parts that are in fact united together closely.  Our joints are vital if our body is to be serviceable and active.  But our marrow is just as important, if not more so, for we can survive without some limbs and joints, but if the marrow of our bones is not functioning as it should, the whole body is affected, and even life itself.  The point is that the Word of God is able to divide between that which is purely to do with action, and that which has to do with the life that enables and prompts the action.  The Word of God is able to tell whether any particular activity is mere formal religion, or the exercise of one who has life from God.
The reference to that which is connected with the bone structure may be a reminder that the wilderness was strewn with the bones of those whose carcases had fallen in the desert.  Every lifeless bone was the sign that a spiritually lifeless Israelite had died.  This is why the cleansing of the red heifer was needed, Numbers 21, for it had to do with defilement through touching a bone or a grave.                                                                 And is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart- the test for the genuine believer, as to the motive for labouring.  The word discerned signifies that which criticises, assesses and analyses the activity in the heart, the innermost part of man, out of which are the issues of life, Proverbs 4:23.  Just as our physical heart pumps out blood saturated with oxygen, so that life may be maintained, so the moral counterpart of our being cause the spiritual life to flourish.  There is a connection between the marrow and the heart, inasmuch as the marrow ensures a good supply of fresh blood cells, and also removes unwanted dead cells.
The thoughts of a man, and the intentions based on them, are alike known fully by God.  He looks not on the outward appearance, but on the heart, 1 Samuel 16:7.  The majority of Israel allowed their thoughts to be influenced by the ten unfaithful spies.  They then signalled their intention to enter the land by force when it was not God’s will.  Both thoughts and intentions were wrong, Numbers 13:31-33; 14:40-45.

4:13  Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight- this discernment of the soul, spirit and body of man, even to the extent of knowing his thoughts, applies to all men; none is exempt.  Note the subject is now God, not the word of God, but the word is the way men are opened up to God’s view.
But all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do- not only is the external covering of man no barrier to God’s eye, but He can penetrate deep within, as the first part of the verse has said.  Not only does God constantly look to assess us, but He keeps account, for the latter phrase here may be translated “with whom is our account”.  Perhaps, if this “word of exhortation”, 13:22, was originally spoken in a synagogue, there would be white-robed Pharisees listening, who needed to be reminded that outward things count for little with God; what matters is the state of the heart.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS CHAPTER 4, VERSES 14 TO 16

4:14  Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

4:15  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

4:16  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. 

(c)    Verses 14-16    Encouragement to approach the throne of God.

The passage 4:14-5:14 deals in general with two things, first, 4:14-16, how our high priest enables us to succeed where Israel failed, then, second, 5:1-14, how Christ succeeds as high priest where Aaron failed.

4:14  Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

Seeing then that we have a great high priest- in chapters 3 and 4 we have seen how Christ acts as the apostle of God, bringing the word of God to bear upon the hearts and consciences of the people.  (It was especially as a prophet with direct access to God that Moses was described as faithful in all God’s house, Numbers 12:6-8).  But Christ is high priest as well, and this is emphasised from now on.  He is great because of the glories described in chapter 1.  He is high because He is over His people as a man over men, as chapter 2 showed.  He is great morally, He is high officially.  In chapter 2:9 He is seen crowned with glory (official), and honour, (moral).  It was declared before His birth that He would be great, Luke 1:32, and so it has come to pass.  He is great as prophet, Luke 7:16; as priest, in this passage; as king, Matthew 5:35. He is great because He is Firstborn Son of God, He is high because He is over God’s house.
That is passed into the heavens- the word for passed here means “to travel a road which leads through a place”.  The whole passage from chapter 2 has had the passing of the believer through this wilderness world in view, and how he may navigate through it successfully.  But Christ is our Captain, our file-leader, blazing a trail through this world, and so successful has He been that He has arrived in heaven.  The road He travelled here only had one destination, and He has safely arrived.  As He Himself said, “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father”, John 16:28.  His coming forth involved His apostleship.  His going to the Father involved His priesthood.  Really speaking, the heavenly ministry of Christ begins with this verse, and extends until the end of chapter 10.
Jesus the Son of God- He is still known as this in heaven, even as He Himself indicated to Saul of Tarsus- “I am Jesus of Nazareth”, Acts 22:8.  But He is Son of God, the Firstborn charged with administering all things for God’s glory; in this instance, the ministry of priesthood.  As Jesus we may be assured of His sympathy, as Son of God we may be assured of His competency.
Let us hold fast our profession- He is the apostle and high priest of our profession, and we are encouraged to hold fast by the fact that it is He who is central to our faith.  This is a strong appeal to those who were wavering.  What greater incentive could there be to continue with Christian things, than that He is in control, and gives character to everything?  It was a feature of many in Israel that they did not hold fast or firm the profession they had made by coming out of Egypt under Moses.  The result was tragic, as we have seen, for instead of holding fast they let go.  The priestly ministry of Christ has as one of its objects the support of those who waver, lest they let slip by the things they had heard, 2:1.

4:15  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities- the sentence begins with “for”, and gives the reason why we should hold fast.  Notice the two negatives here- “we have not…who cannot”.  We should not immediately turn these into a positive, for if we do we shall lose the point of the argument.  The thought is that our situation is not the same as Israel’s, for they had a high priest who was unable to sympathise with the people, being compassed with infirmity.  The implications of that fact are described in 5:1-3.  We are in a better position, therefore a greater responsibility rests upon us.
Notice He is not said to be touched by our infirmities, but by the feeling of our infirmities.  In other words, without sharing in sinful infirmities, He draws upon His experience of temptation, in which He met with, and resisted, the temptation to sin.  He knows the feeling that believers have when infirmities tempt them to sin.  Again we must emphasise that He does not have the infirmity, but from outside of Himself came incitements to sin, which found in Him no response at all.  Because He resisted these fully, He has felt the pressure of them beyond all others.  We could think of the illustration of a sea wall. One section is built far beyond specifications, with the best quality materials and workmanship.  The adjoining section is built below specifications, with second-rate materials and poor workmanship.  Which section of the wall will feel the pressure of the storm most? Clearly, the fault-free section, for the other will give way easily.  So Christ, fault free in every sense, has withstood to the utmost, and therefore has felt the force of the storm of temptation beyond anything we shall know.  So the writer does not say He is touched by the feelings we have because He had what caused those feelings Himself, but because He was tempted. 
In His temptation every aspect of a man’s attitude to God was tested.  He can be tempted in all points, because He has been made in all things like unto His brethren, (the word “points” is the same as “things” in Hebrews 2:17), and thus He suffers as a real man.  Although His temptations are over, He has taken His sympathetic heart to heaven, and fully knowing what our trials are like, can minister just the help we need. 
Are we tempted to doubt God’s goodness?  He has been tempted by the Devil in that regard.  His suggestion that Christ should turn a stone into bread carried with it the implication that His Father had not been caring for Him enough.  The promise to the Messiah was “I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son”, Hebrews 1:5, but the Devil suggested that the Father had not been true to His pledge, and had left His Son without resources.  God had provided for multitudes of Israelites for forty years in the wilderness, yet His own Son had only been there for forty days, and there was no food!   Later on in the ministry of the Lord Jesus, He would point out that fathers do not give their sons stones when they ask for bread, Luke 11:11, yet here was the Son Himself, surrounded by stones, yet He had no bread! 
What a trial this was, far greater than the temptation that had come to Adam with regard to food, for he was surrounded by a plentiful supply.  He did not need to eat of the forbidden fruit to save himself from starvation.  There was no dissatisfaction in the heart of the Lord Jesus, however, for He had better food than material bread.  Every word which proceeded out of the mouth of God was valued as His necessary food.  There had come no indication from the scriptures on which His soul fed, that He should turn a stone into bread, and thus He was content.  So absorbed with the word of God was He, that it is only after the temptation that He hungered physically.  By basing His reply to the Devil on God’s word, and especially since the quotation begins, “Man shall not live…”, He clearly indicates that this victory over temptation can be ours as well as His, for we can all insert our name where the word “man” occurs.  He does not assert His Divine authority and say, “Verily, verily, I say unto you”, but simply quotes what is already written, as we may do. When we are tempted to doubt God’s goodness, we should cry for help, and He will show us in God’s word those things that demonstrate the reality of God’s goodness to us.
We also may be tempted to double-mindedness in relation to God, eager to worship and serve Him, but at the same time attracted to the glamour of this passing world  To those thus tempted, and who come to Him for help, there is the example of Christ’s resolute determination to serve God with undivided heart, and an equally resolute determination to resist the Devil.  Satan had positioned himself between Christ and His Father, but the Lord will not tolerate this, and commands the Devil to get behind him, clearly refusing to bow down to him.
The kingdoms of this world will one day be Christ’s, Revelation 11:15, but He will receive them from His Father, Psalm 2:8, and not from the Devil.  Those who triumph in this aspect of temptation do so because they rest in the purpose of God.  How great would the Devil’s victory have been if he could have given the world to Christ without Calvary!
Then again, we may be tempted to wonder whether God’s promises are really true, and begin to doubt Him.  This temptation has come to our Saviour as well, but His firm rebuff to the Devil we may take up too, “Thou shall not tempt the Lord Thy God”. His word should be enough for us, just as it was for the Lord Jesus.  So the Lord refuses to cast Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple simply to see whether God’s word is true or not.
God’s provision, God’s purpose, God’s promises- is there anything not covered by these three? Christ has been tempted in all points like as we are, and we may overcome as He overcame, by the right use of the Word of God, as we are led by the Spirit of God in ways that glorify God.
What He is said to be touched with the feeling of is our infirmities, or manifestations of lack of strength. But here again, we should not assume that He sympathises with these because He had infirmities Himself.  It is true that Paul gloried in his infirmities, so they are not necessarily sinful, but still it is not the case that Christ possessed them.  Paul’s infirmities, by which is meant bodily weakness and ailments, were a direct result of the fall of man in Adam, and the consequent subjection to vanity that came with it.  The Lord Jesus did not share in the results of the fall, even as to His body.  He was not begotten of Joseph, thus He has no link with fallen humanity, either morally or physically.
Matthew tells us that when the Lord Jesus healed the men and women of His day, there was a partial fulfillment of the words of Isaiah 53:4.  In that passage the prophet describes the Messiah as One who “hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows”.  When Peter alludes to this in 1 Peter 2:24 he quotes it as “He bare our sins”.  This is the ultimate fulfillment of the words, but Matthew is concerned with their partial fulfillment, and so prefaces his reference to Isaiah 53 with the words “That it might be fulfilled”, and then quotes Isaiah with the words, “Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses”. 
This might seem to indicate a final fulfillment, until we remember that there are three ways in which quotations from the Old Testament are introduced by writers in the New Testament. 
Where the Greek word “ina” is used, then it is “in order that it might be fulfilled”, and the prophecy has been finally fulfilled. 
Where the word “tole” is found, then it is “was fulfilled”, and indicates that the event was merely a case in point, and what happened was an illustration of what was said in the prophecy, and it might be “fulfilled” in that way on another occasion.
Where the word “opus” is used, as is the case in Matthew 8:17, it is “so that it might be”, and the fulfillment is not complete, but an event which was within the scope and intention of the prophecy. 
So Matthew is not saying that sins were borne during the life of the Lord Jesus, but he is saying that there was an event that was included in the scope of the prophecy of Isaiah, but which did not exhaust its meaning.  So when the Lord Jesus healed a person, He took upon Himself, in deep sympathy, the griefs and sorrows which that illness caused him, so that instead of the ill person bearing those sorrows, the Lord Jesus bore them for him.  Coupled with this, virtue or power went out from Christ to heal the disease that caused the sorrow, see Luke 8:46.  In this way He is touched, even now, by the feeling of our infirmities.  Remember, He is the Creator of men, and therefore is able to understand perfectly the difference between what He made man at the beginning, and what sin has made him to be now.
The Lord Jesus healed all manner of diseases, Matthew 4:23, and the power of the Lord was  present to heal all who were sick, even Pharisees, Luke 5:17.  The miracles that are recorded in detail are those that present to us some spiritual lesson, and illustrate some particular sinful condition of man.  For instance man is blind, unable to perceive the truth of God, deaf to the voice of God, dumb in the praise of God, lame as to the ways of God, defiled as to the holiness of God, and so on.  Those that are recorded in detail, however, are but a sample from the full range of disease that was dealt with by Christ.  There was nothing too hard for the Lord to deal with.
Remember also the pains of Calvary, for death by crucifixion was designed to inflict the most possible pain, for the longest possible time, in the most varied ways possible.  If anyone knew pain, it was our Saviour, especially since none of His senses was dulled by sin, unlike ordinary men. 
There are not only body-infirmities, however, but weakness of mind and spirit.  Can He be touched by these, even though He had no weakness of mind or spirit?  Indeed He can, for He has been tested in body, soul and spirit.  His mental sufferings on the cross were of the extreme kind.  Who else has been forsaken of His God?  And He the Son of God in His bosom eternally!  There could be no greater trauma than this, than to cry unto God and to receive no answer, as if He were like those who regard iniquity in their heart, Psalm 66:18.  And to be separated from God, as if He were like those whose sins have hidden God’s face from them, Isaiah 59:2.
Even in His life He knew sadness because of the sin and unbelief of men; disappointment when His disciples made such slow progress in Divine things; grief as He wept over the city that would soon reject Him, and condemn itself, as a consequence, to be levelled to the ground.
Think of the grief of heart when His loyalty to God, His desires to be subject to Divine purpose, His confidence in Divine promises, were all called into question by the Devil in the wilderness.  How true was Isaiah’s word, He is a Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief.  But in all this He sinned not.
But the question remains as to how exactly our High Priest sympathises with us if He does not have what we have?  The answer is that it is precisely because He is apart from sin in any shape or form, that He is able to support, succour and save us from a position of strength.  It is not drowning men that save drowning men, but those who throw them a life-line whilst firmly standing on the rock.

But was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin- We must be very careful when considering the subject of the temptation of the Lord Jesus.  In our earnest attempt to understand it, (insofar as it is possible to do so), we must remember the uniqueness of His person.  He is the Son of God, and as such is not able to sin, or else God is able to sin.  When He took manhood, He did not cease to be what He always was.  Scripture teaches  that He who is in the form of God took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.  Note that He took the likeness of men upon Himself as one who is in the form of God.  He added manhood to His Deity.  He did not modify His Deity to accommodate His manhood.  He now possesses two natures, yet remains one person.  Now it is persons that sin, not natures, so because He remains the same person He ever was, then for that reason He is not able to sin.  Because He remains God, like God He cannot be tempted with evil, James 1:13, for it holds no attraction for Him at all.  He does not have to weigh up the situation and make a decision whether to give in or not- for Him, sinning is not an option.
He is not able to sin for a related reason also.  When He came into the world, the Son of God expressed the resolve to do God’s will, Hebrews 10:7.  The fact that He did indeed perform the will of God perfectly, is not only known by His own testimony, “I do always those things which please Him”, John 8:29; “I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do”, John 17:4, (and if it were not so He would have told us, John 14:2), but also from the fact that He has returned to the throne from which He was sent, and has sat down there with Divine approval, Hebrews 10:12. 
It may be objected that the Lord Jesus did certain things which it is not possible for God the Father to do.  He slept, (But “He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep”, Psalm 121:4), He hungered and thirsted, (but God needeth not anything, Acts 17:25), and He died, (but God is from everlasting to everlasting, Psalm 90:2; the Living God, Acts 14:15).  Christ did indeed experience these things, but He did so, not because His Deity was weakened or modified, but precisely because He was God, and as such could will to do these things.  It was part of what He willingly accepted when He became man.
We are told by those who believe that Christ did not sin, but could have done so, that He needs to be like that to relate to His people, who are capable of sinning.  The people of God, however, are born of God, and as such do not practice sin as a habit. 1 John 3:9.  They do, alas, commit sins, but they do so when acting after the flesh, and God does not look on His people as if they are in the flesh, but in the Spirit, Romans 8:9.  When believers commit sins they need, and have, an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One, who pleads the value of His work at Calvary.
It is true that the statement, “Jesus Christ could not sin”, is not found in Scripture.  But the truth is certainly found there, and it is implied overwhelmingly by the whole doctrine about Christ and His Person.  Is it realistic to suggest that a person who could sin would be able to pass through this world with all its temptations, be assailed by the wickedest, cleverest force for evil in the world, even the Devil himself, and not succumb?  Also, if He could sin when on earth, how are we sure that He cannot sin now?  His condition has changed, it is true, but His person has not; if He could sin then, He could sin now.  This is unthinkable.
He was tempted in all points like as we are, “yet without sin”. This latter phrase may be misunderstood, especially if we retain the word “yet”, which the Authorised Version inserts.  “Without sin” means what it does in Hebrews 9:28, namely “apart from, cut off from, sin”.  When Christ comes again, He will not re-open the question of sin, for He dealt with that effectively by His first coming.  He will come totally separate from any notion of dealing with the sin of his people, but will have only their salvation before Him.  It is the same in connection with temptation.  It is not just that sin is absent from Christ, although that is true, but rather that He distanced Himself from sin in all its forms, cutting himself off from any notion that sin may be trifled with, and indulged in.  Now it is precisely because He did this, that He is in a strong position to help us in our temptations, for He strengthens us to distance ourselves from sin too.

4:16  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. 

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace- Because we have a High Priest like this, there should be a consequence, indicated by the “therefore”. His being far away in heaven does not mean He does not touch us, nor that we cannot touch Him, for we may freely approach the throne upon which He sits.  We should come with boldness to God’s throne, for it is a throne of grace and not of judgement for us.  Upon that throne is One who is for us, not against us, our sympathising high priest, and those resources which we need to enable us to overcome temptation are available for the asking.  He will show us from the Scriptures the way in which He met temptations, and so we shall be saved from falling.
Note it is a throne we approach, a place of stability and authority, where one sits who is in complete control of every situation.  It is the throne of grace, for there is no other throne that can be described thus.                                                                                                                              That we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need- The priesthood of the Lord Jesus comes in when we are in danger of giving way to temptation.  Like Melchizedec, who brought bread and wine to Abraham to strengthen him before his trial with the king of Sodom, Genesis 14:17-24, Christ ministers to us the truth as to His triumphant life, (the bread), during which He successfully resisted all temptations.  He also imparts to us the truth as to His triumphant death, (the wine), when He not only resisted unto blood, striving against sin, Hebrews 12:2-4, but also died for our sins, 9:14.  By these means our souls are strengthened for the conflict.
But He succours as we come to the throne where He is, knowing that there is abundant mercy for the asking.  He is not like the priest in the parable, who passed by on the other side instead of showing mercy, Luke 10:31.  We need mercy or pity, because we are weak and failing at best, and when we acknowledge that, and do not try to act in our own strength, we may obtain the mercy. 
We may also obtain what we seek for the present need, for the time of temptation is the time of need.  Every time when we have need of support in temptation we may find it in Christ.  The word find implies that we specifically seek for specific help; as He Himself said, “Seek, and ye shall find”, Matthew 7:7.