The Meaning of Matthew 11:28 Explained

Matthew 11:28

KJV: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

YLT: 'Come unto me, all ye labouring and burdened ones, and I will give you rest,

Darby: Come to me, all ye who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest.

ASV: Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

What does Matthew 11:28 Mean?

Study Notes

Come
The new message of Jesus. The rejected King now turns from the rejecting nation and offers, not the kingdom, but rest and service to such in the nation as are conscious of the need. It is a pivotal point in the ministry of Jesus.

Verse Meaning

This invitation recalls Jeremiah 31:25 where Yahweh offered His people rest in the New Covenant. The weary are those who have struggled long and toiled hard. The heavy-laden are those who stagger under excessive burdens.
"The one [1] implies toil, the other endurance. The one refers to the weary search for truth and for relief from a troubled conscience; the other refers to the heavy load of observances that give no relief, and perhaps also the sorrow of life, which, apart from the consolations of a true faith, are so crushing." [2]
Jesus, the revealer of God, invites those who feel their need for help they cannot obtain themselves to come to Him (cf. Matthew 5:3; Revelation 22:17). Israel"s spiritual leaders had loaded the people with burdens that were heavy to bear. The rest in view involves kingdom rest (cf. Hebrews 4), but it is a present reality too.
Throughout Israel"s history God held out the promise of rest if His people would trust and obey Him. The Promised Land was to be the scene of this rest. However, when Israel entered Canaan under Joshua"s leadership, she enjoyed rest there only partially due to limited trust and obedience. As her history progressed, she lost much rest through disobedience. Now Jesus as her Messiah promised that the rest she had longed for for centuries could be hers if she humbly came to Him. He provided this rest for anyone in Israel who came to Him in humble trust. [3] He will provide this rest for Israel in the future in the Promised Land. This will take place when He returns to earth to establish His kingdom.

Context Summary

Matthew 11:20-30 - Woe Or Welcome
The voice of upbraiding, Matthew 11:20-24. The Judge weeps as he pronounces the doom of those who reject Him. They would have crowned Him king, but refused to repent. See John 6:15. These cities did not crucify Him, but they had been deaf to His warnings and indifferent to His mighty works. Even where there is no direct opposition, indifference will be sufficient to seal our doom.
The voice of thanksgiving, Matthew 11:25-27. He "answered" the voice of God within His breast. Babes are those who mistrust the reasonings of their intellect, but trust the instincts and intuitions of their hearts. The child-heart looks open-eyed into all the mysteries of God. Learn to say Yea to all God's dealings. The Spirit reveals the Son, and the Son the Father. Our Lord must be divine, if only God can know him.
The voice of pleading mercy, Matthew 11:28-30. Labor is for active manhood; heavy-laden for suffering, patient womanhood. The invitation is to commit and submit; to come and to bow under the yoke of the Father's will. Submission and obedience are the secrets of the blessed life. [source]

Chapter Summary: Matthew 11

1  John sends his disciples to Jesus
7  Jesus' testimony concerning John
16  The perverse judgment of the people concerning the Son
20  Jesus upbraids Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum;
25  and praising his Father's wisdom in revealing the Gospel to the simple,
28  he calls to him those who are weary and burdened

Greek Commentary for Matthew 11:28

Come unto me [δευτε προς με]
Matthew 11:28-30 are not in Luke and are among the special treasures of Matthew‘s Gospel. No sublimer words exist than this call of Jesus to the toiling and the burdened Far more than mere rest, rejuvenation. The English slang expression “rest up” is close to the idea of the Greek compound αναπαυω — anȧpauō It is causative active voice. [source]
Labor and are heavy-laden [κοπιῶντες καὶ πεφορτισμένοι]
The first an active, the second a passive participle, exhibiting the active and passive sides of human misery. [source]
Give rest [ἀναπαύσω]
Originally to make to cease; Tynd.,ease; Wyc., refresh. The radical conception is that of relief. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Matthew 11:28

Matthew 11:28 Come unto me [δευτε προς με]
Matthew 11:28-30 are not in Luke and are among the special treasures of Matthew‘s Gospel. No sublimer words exist than this call of Jesus to the toiling and the burdened Far more than mere rest, rejuvenation. The English slang expression “rest up” is close to the idea of the Greek compound αναπαυω — anȧpauō It is causative active voice. [source]
Matthew 12:20 A bruised reed [καλαμον συντετριμμενον]
Perfect passive participle of συντριβω — suntribō A crushed reed he will not break. The curious augment in κατεαχει — kateaxei (future active indicative) is to be noted. The copyists kept the augment where it did not belong in this verb (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1212) even in Plato. “Smoking flax” The wick of a lamp, smoking and flickering and going out. Only here in N.T. Flax in Exodus 9:31. Vivid images that picture Jesus in the same strain as his own great words in Matthew 11:28-30. [source]
Luke 12:19 Take thine ease []
See on Matthew 11:28. [source]
Luke 11:46 Ye lade []
Compare heavy laden, Matthew 11:28. [source]
Luke 11:24 Rest []
See on Matthew 11:28. [source]
Luke 11:46 Grievous to be borne [δυσβαστακτα]
A late word in lxx and Plutarch Here alone in text of Westcott and Hort who reject it in Matthew 23:4 where we have “heavy burdens” In Galatians 6:2 we have βαρη — barē with a distinction drawn. Here we have πορτιζετε — phortizete (here only in the N.T. and Matthew 11:28) for “lade,” πορτια — phortia as cognate accusative and then πορτιοις — phortiois (dative after ου προσπσαυετε — ou prospsauete touch not). It is a fierce indictment of scribes (lawyers) for their pettifogging interpretations of the written law in their oral teaching (later written down as Mishna and then as Gemarah), a terrible load which these lawyers did not pretend to carry themselves, not even “with one of their fingers” to “touch” (προσπσαυω — prospsauō old verb but only here in the N.T.), touch with the view to remove. Matthew 23:4 has κινησαι — kinēsai to move. A physician would understand the meaning of προσπαυω — prospauō for feeling gently a sore spot or the pulse. [source]
Romans 2:17 Restest in [ἐπαναπαύῃ]
Rev., better, upon, giving the force of ἐπί in the verb. The radical conception of the verb ἀναπαύω is relief. See Matthew 11:28. Thou restest with a blind trust in God as thy Father and protector exclusively. [source]
Romans 15:32 With you be refreshed [συναναπαύσωμαι ὑμῖν]
See on give rest, Matthew 11:28. [source]
Romans 15:32 That [ινα]
Second use of ινα — hina in this sentence, the first one sub-final (ινα ρυστω — hina rusthō), this one final with συναναπαυσωμαι — sunanapausōmai first aorist middle subjunctive of the double compound verb συναναπαυομαι — sunanapauomai late verb to rest together with, to refresh (αναπαυω — anapauō as in Matthew 11:28) one‘s spirit with (συν — sun), with the associative instrumental case υμιν — humin (with you), only here in the N.T. [source]
1 Corinthians 16:18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours [ανεπαυσαν γαρ το εμον πνευμα και το υμων]
They did both. The very verb used by Jesus in Matthew 11:28 for the refreshment offered by him to those who come to him, fellowship with Jesus, and here fellowship with each other. [source]
Colossians 1:29 I labour also [και κοπιω]
Late verb κοπιαω — kopiaō from κοπος — kopos (toil), to grow weary from toil (Matthew 11:28), to toil on (Philemon 2:16), sometimes for athletic training. In papyri. Striving (αγωνιζομενος — agōnizomenos). Present middle participle of common verb αγωνιζομαι — agōnizomai (from αγων — agōn contest, as in Colossians 2:1), to contend in athletic games, to agonize, a favourite metaphor with Paul who is now a prisoner. Working Our word “energy.” Late word from ενεργης — energēs Play on the word here with the present passive participle of εν δυναμει — energeōenergoumenēn (energy energized) as in Ephesians 1:19. Paul was conscious of God‘s “energy” at work in him “mightily” (en dunamei), “in power” like dynamite. [source]
Philemon 1:7 Are refreshed [ἀναπέπαυται]
See on Matthew 11:28. Compare 1 Corinthians 16:18; 2 Corinthians 7:13. [source]
Philemon 1:7 The hearts [τα σπλαγχνα]
See note on Philemon 1:8 for this use of this word for the nobler viscera (heart, lungs, liver) and here for the emotional nature. Have been refreshed (αναπεπαυται — anapepautai). Perfect passive indicative of old compound verb αναπαυω — anapauō as in Matthew 11:28, a relief and refreshment whether temporary (Mark 6:31) or eternal (Revelation 14:13). [source]
Philemon 1:7 Have been refreshed [αναπεπαυται]
Perfect passive indicative of old compound verb αναπαυω — anapauō as in Matthew 11:28, a relief and refreshment whether temporary (Mark 6:31) or eternal (Revelation 14:13). [source]
1 Peter 4:14 Resteth [ἀναπαύεται]
Compare Isaiah 11:2; Luke 10:6; Numbers 11:25, Numbers 11:26; Mark 6:31; Matthew 26:45; Revelation 14:13. Also, Matthew 11:28, where the word is used in the active voice, to give rest or refreshment. [source]
1 Peter 4:14 For the name of Christ [εν ονοματι Χριστου]
“In the matter of the name of Christ.” For the idea see Matthew 5:11.; Matthew 19:29; Acts 5:41; Acts 9:16; Acts 21:13. This is the only N.T. example of just ονομα Χριστου — onoma Christou here used because of the use of Χριστιανος — Christianos in 1 Peter 4:16. For the beatitude μακαριοι — makarioi see Matthew 5:11.The Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God (το της δοχης και το του τεου πνευμα — to tēs doxēs kai to tou theou pneuma). Note repetition of the article (το — to) though πνευμα — pneuma only once. The reference is to the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Glory and of God.Resteth upon you Quotation from Isaiah 11:2. Present middle indicative of αναπαυω — anapauō to give rest, refresh (Matthew 11:28). “He rests upon the Christian as the Shechinah rested upon the tabernacle” (Bigg). Cf. 1 Peter 1:8; Matthew 3:16. [source]
1 Peter 4:14 Resteth upon you [επ ημας αναπαυεται]
Quotation from Isaiah 11:2. Present middle indicative of αναπαυω — anapauō to give rest, refresh (Matthew 11:28). “He rests upon the Christian as the Shechinah rested upon the tabernacle” (Bigg). Cf. 1 Peter 1:8; Matthew 3:16. [source]
Revelation 6:11 Should rest [ἀναπαύσωνται]
See on Matthew 11:28; see on 1 Peter 5:14; compare Revelation 14:13; Daniel 12:13. Not merely rest from their crying for vengeance, but rest in peace. [source]
Revelation 4:8 They rest not [ἀνάπαυσιν οὐκ ἔχουσιν]
Lit., they have no rest. So Rev. See on give rest, Matthew 11:28; and see on resteth, 1 Peter 4:14. [source]
Revelation 14:13 That they may rest [ἵνα ἀναπαύσωνται]
See on Matthew 11:28. The ἵνα thatgives the ground of the blessed. [source]
Revelation 14:11 Rest [ἀνάπαυσιν]
See on give rest, Matthew 11:28, and see on resteth, 1 Peter 4:14. [source]
Revelation 6:11 That they should rest [ινα αναπαυσονται]
Sub-final clause with ινα — hina and the future indicative (as in Revelation 3:9; Revelation 6:4) middle rather than the aorist middle subjunctive αναπαυσωνται — anapausōntai of Aleph C.Yet for a little time (ετι χρονον μικρον — eti chronon mikron). Accusative of extension of time as in Revelation 20:3. Perhaps rest from their cry for vengeance and also rest in peace (Revelation 14:13). For the verb αναπαυω — anapauō see note on Matthew 11:28.Until should be fulfilled Future indefinite temporal clause with εως — heōs and the first aorist passive subjunctive of πληροω — plēroō to fill full (Matthew 23:32; Colossians 2:10), “until be filled full” (the number of), regular Greek idiom.Which should be killed (οι μελλοντες αποκτεννεσται — hoi mellontes apoktennesthai). Regular construction of articular present active participle of μελλω — mellō (about to be, going to be) with the present passive infinitive of αποκτεννω — apoktennō Aeolic and late form for αποκτεινω — apokteinō to kill (also in Mark 12:5). John foresees more persecution coming (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:10). [source]
Revelation 6:11 Yet for a little time [ετι χρονον μικρον]
Accusative of extension of time as in Revelation 20:3. Perhaps rest from their cry for vengeance and also rest in peace (Revelation 14:13). For the verb αναπαυω — anapauō see note on Matthew 11:28. [source]

What do the individual words in Matthew 11:28 mean?

Come to Me all those toiling and being burdened and I will give rest to you
Δεῦτε πρός με πάντες οἱ κοπιῶντες καὶ πεφορτισμένοι κἀγὼ ἀναπαύσω ὑμᾶς

Δεῦτε  Come 
Parse: Verb, Imperative, 2nd Person Plural
Root: δεῦτε  
Sense: come hither, come here, come.
με  Me 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Accusative 1st Person Singular
Root: ἐγώ  
Sense: I, me, my.
οἱ  those 
Parse: Article, Vocative Masculine Plural
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
κοπιῶντες  toiling 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Active, Vocative Masculine Plural
Root: κοπιάω  
Sense: to grow weary, tired, exhausted (with toil or burdens or grief).
πεφορτισμένοι  being  burdened 
Parse: Verb, Perfect Participle Middle or Passive, Vocative Masculine Plural
Root: φορτίζω  
Sense: to place a burden upon, to load.
κἀγὼ  and  I 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Nominative 1st Person Singular
Root: κἀγώ  
Sense: and I.
ἀναπαύσω  will  give  rest 
Parse: Verb, Future Indicative Active, 1st Person Singular
Root: ἀναπαύω  
Sense: to cause or permit one to cease from any movement or labour in order to recover and collect his strength.
ὑμᾶς  to  you 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Accusative 2nd Person Plural
Root: σύ  
Sense: you.