“Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it” (Hebrews 4:1 NASB).
The exhortation “let us,” appears over a dozen times in the book of Hebrews and emphasizes the need to take action based on a point that our author has already established. In this instance, that point was made at the end of Hebrews chapter three: “So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief” (Hebrews 3:19 NIV).
While the word “fear” encompasses the idea of being afraid in the original language of this passage, the context of this verse suggests a more appropriate definition: “to fear (i.e. hesitate) to do something (for fear of harm)… to reverence, venerate, to treat with deference or reverential obedience.” (1) As one source explains…
“This Christian fear is not the fear which makes a man run away from a task; nor the fear which reduces him to paralysed inaction; it is the fear which makes him put out every ounce of strength he possesses in a great effort not to miss the one thing that is worth while.” (2)
One author ties these ideas together for us with the following observation…
“Why should people fear, especially Christians? Simply because great and eternal rewards are subject to forfeit as long as people are in the flesh, because a powerful and aggressive foe in the person of Satan and his hosts are opposed to us, and because the multitude of distractions, temptations, and necessary labors of life constantly tend to produce that one moment of life in which inattention can lead to everlasting ruin. This fear is reinforced by the thought that many others failed, even after a glorious beginning.” (3)
This same author adds another important word of warning…
“Alas, it must be supposed that the far greater part of Christians falling away from faith in Christ do so unintentionally. Few indeed ever decide boldly against the Lord, and move decisively against him; but, on the contrary, they allow inattention to spiritual things, carelessness in attending worship, neglect of daily prayer and study of the Word, and encroachments upon their time due to worldly and pleasure-loving friends to divert their attention first, and later their whole life and conduct from the path of honor and duty. It is hard to imagine a more urgent and persistent warning than the one given here.” (3)
(1) G5399 Phobeo Thayer’s Greek Definitions https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g5399/kjv/tr/0-1/
(2) Barclay, William, William Barclay’s Daily Study Bible [Commentary on Hebrews 4:1-16]
(3) Coffman, James Burton. “Commentary on Hebrews 4”. “Coffman’s Commentaries on the Bible”. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bcc/hebrews-4.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.