Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, December 9th, 2023
the First Week of Advent
Take your personal ministry to the Next Level by helping StudyLight build churches and supporting pastors in Uganda.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 10

Contending for the FaithContending for the Faith

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verse 1


The Inadequacies of the Sacrifices of the Law 10:1-4

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things: The word "For" links the teaching in this chapter with that in the previous chapter; the message is that Jesus’ one sacrifice was superior to all of the sacrifices under the Levitical law. Even though Paul has stated these facts already, he reiterates them for emphasis by merging all of his points into "one grand finale" (The New Testament for English Readers 1538). The "law" stands for the entire Old Testament economy, the Levitical law, or sometimes referred to as the Mosaic law. The point is that the ceremonial law was a "shadow" of "good things" to come to pass under Jesus’ perfect law. Paul has said about Jesus, "But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building" (9:11). The term "shadow" (skia) is used here metaphorically referring to the fact that the old law was "an image cast by an object and representing the form of that object" (Thayer 578). Dods explains this concept, saying, "A shadow suggests indefiniteness and unsubstantiality; a mere indication that a reality exists" (341). The old law shadows the "good things" (agathos), that is, it pictures "the benefits of the Messianic kingdom" (Thayer 8) "and not the very image of the things." The term "image" (eikon) refers to a "figure (or) likeness" of something. Paul, for example, speaks of Jesus as being the image of God, "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Corinthians 4:4). Likewise, speaking of Jesus to the Christians in Colosse, Paul says that in Him we have redemption through His blood and that He "is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature" (Colossians 1:15). The term "image" means the true representation of what it images, in this case, "heavenly things" (Thayer 175). The old law exhibited mere symbols and was more like an outline and, therefore, had no power: it could not remove sin and it could not within itself lead one to perfection. As a shadow, the old law does not provide a true picture of God’s plan for man’s salvation. The "image" comes in Jesus Christ who gave the supreme sacrifice. Then God’s plan became clear. Kendrick explains well the difference between "shadow" and "image":

The term "image" is chosen designedly, because the contrast is not between the shadow of these things, contained in the law and the heavenly things themselves, but between their shadow as contained in the law, and their image as contained in the gospel. The relation of the Jewish ritual to the unseen and spiritual good things, is that of the shadow to the reality. The relation of the gospel sacrifice and expiation to them is that of an image which substantially embodies and represents, which gives their essential nature and glory, as "speech is the image of thought"; as the Son is "the image of the invisible God." The law but represents these things in faint outlines; the gospel brings them home in a fruition which grasps their substantial blessedness, and in a hope which leaves them still "good things to come" (130).

can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect: The Levitical law with all of its many sacrifices, Paul says, "can never" make one perfect by permanently removing his sins. "For since the law contains only a shadow of the future good things, not the actual likeness of the things, it is not able by means of the same sacrifices every year, which are unceasingly offered, ever to make perfect them that draw nigh" (Meyer’s 638). The pronoun, "they," refers to the priests who offered the sacrifices. On the other hand, "the comers" refer to the worshipers in verse 2, those who needed the sacrifices offered for their sins. "Year by year" refers to the sacrifices that had to be made "continually" in order to make the worshipers "perfect" (teleioo), meaning "to raise (him) to the state of heavenly blessedness…to make one meet for future entrance on this state and give him a sure hope of it even here on earth" (Thayer 619). The continuous year-by-year animal sacrifices themselves, the shadow, were incapable of making one perfect; but it benefited those who made them in that they obeyed God’s commands. Their "perfection" would come when Jesus died on the cross, providing forgiveness of sins.

Verse 2


For then would they not have ceased to be offered? Because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.

For then would they not have ceased to be offered: Paul’s question is, in reality, a dynamic and enthusiastic form of affirmation. He is saying that certainly, if these sacrifices had made God’s people perfect by cleansing their sins, God’s people today would still be offering animal sacrifices year-by-year. The recognition of the need to continue offering animal sacrifices proves the "worshippers" recognized these sacrifices were inefficacious in removing sins. Paul’s implication is that something else was needed, that is, Jesus Christ.

Because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins: Paul reminds his readers that those under the Old Covenant did not have the benefits available now to Christians. He proves this premise by calling to their attention the fact that if the "worshippers" (latreuo) were purged they would have had no more "conscience of sins." The phrase "once purged" is "perfect passive participle" (Robertson 406), indicating they would have once for all been cleansed. The term "purged" (kathairo) metaphorically means to make amends or "to expiate" (Thayer 312). The term "conscience" (suneidesis) means "the consciousness of anything" (Thayer 602). Therefore, if the worshipers under the old law had been once for all cleansed from their past sins, they would no longer be troubled in their consciences with the remembrance of sins from which they had been forgiven. This freedom is made possible through the one-time shedding of the blood of Jesus, not through the many sacrifices of the old law. Milligan eloquently explains Paul’s message by comparing his words to one healed of a physical disease: "If a disease has been once thoroughly eradicated from the system, there is no further need of medicine. And just so, if a sin is once effectually blotted out, it is remembered no more" (342).

This freedom does not imply that Christians today who have been freed from sin through the blood of Jesus Christ will never again feel the guilt of sins. Paul’s message is that once Christians are forgiven of a sin, they will not feel the guilt of that sin again; however, if redeemed Christians commit future sins, they will once again have an awareness and realization of sins in their lives (not of the past sins, but of the present) and will once again need to take advantage of opportunities of God’s grace by returning.

Verse 3


But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.

While the Jewish sacrifices could not permanently remove sins, they did accomplish the goal of reminding the worshipers of their sins. "Remembrance" (anamnesis) means a "recollection" (Thayer 40). The annual animal sacrifices would bring to mind the sins of those who committed them, but those same sins had to be remembered each year and sacrifices had to be offered again.

Both a similarity and a contrast exists between the Jewish sacrifices and the New Testament communion (Lord’s Supper). They are similar in the sense that they involve a remembrance of sacrifices. The term "remembrance" (anamnesis) is the same word Paul uses when he writes to the Christians in Corinth:

And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me (1 Corinthians 11:24-25).

The contrast between the remembrance of the Jewish sacrifices and the Lord’s Supper is that the Jewish sacrifices reminded the worshipers of their sins while the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament reminds the worshipers of Jesus’ death, the one-time sacrifice that provided forgiveness of sins.

Under the old law, different sins required different sacrifices. Sins committed through ignorance required one type of sacrifice at a special time; sins not committed through ignorance required a different sacrifice and a different time for the offering. For those who sinned ignorantly, God instructs Moses:

And if any soul sin through ignorance, then he shall bring a she goat of the first year for a sin offering. And the priest shall make an atonement for the soul that sinneth ignorantly, when he sinneth by ignorance before the LORD, to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him. Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them. But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him (Numbers 15:27-31).

For those who sinned knowingly, God instructs:

Or if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, come to his knowledge; he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a male without blemish: And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the goat, and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt offering before the LORD: it is a sin offering. And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out his blood at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering. And he shall burn all his fat upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him (Leviticus 4:23-26).

Other types of sins had different requirements for the sacrifices. For example, some sins required daily sacrifices (see Exodus 29:35-46). Some sins required weekly sacrifices (see Numbers 15:27-28), and still other sins required monthly sacrifices (see Numbers 28:11-15). Regardless of all of these types of sins and sacrifices, worshipers had to remember their sins and offer another sacrifice every year. The Lord gives specific instruction to Moses for this sacrifice (see Leviticus 16:11-24).

Verse 4


For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

The expression "the blood of bulls and goats" represents all animals offered as a sacrifice. Paul’s message is that the blood of animals offered daily, weekly, monthly, or annually would never permanently remove the sins of mankind. We are never told why it is not possible for the blood of animals to take away sins; however, even though it is speculative, the most logical conclusion is that man owns nothing clean enough and sacred enough to serve as a ransom for his sins. No animal in existence is owned by man but instead belongs to God. The psalmist writes of all things belonging to God in the "Psalm of Asaph":

Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me. I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine (Psalms 50:7-11).

While it is true that the blood of bulls and of goats will not "take away sins," God by His grace has provided for forgiveness. In writing to the church at Rome, Paul refers to God’s promise of salvation through Jesus, the Deliverer:

And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins (Romans 11:26-27).

Verse 5


The All-Sufficiency of Christ’s One-Time Sacrifice 10:5-18

Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:

Wherefore when he cometh into the world: The word "Wherefore" means "in proof of this" (Bloomfield 520). Paul introduces a reference to Psalms 40 in which David makes a prophetic statement about the coming of Jesus, the Messiah. In the preceding chapters, Paul has proved the inefficiency of the Levitical sacrifices. He has emphatically proved they did not have power to eradicate sins, and therefore, a new and better sacrifice was needed. Now, beginning with verse 5, Paul reiterates the superiority of the sacrifice of Jesus, who brought forgiveness of sins through His blood. When Jesus unconditionally offered His body as a one-time acceptable sacrifice, the sacrifices of the Levitical law were effectively abolished. Through the weekly communion, the Lord’s Supper, Christians are reminded of Jesus’ sacrifice; however, no other sacrifice since that time has been required nor will one ever be.

he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: Paul continues to allude to Psalms 40 in which David is pictured as a type of Jesus Christ. Paul does not quote David verbatim, but the message is the same. After praising God’s grace bestowed upon him, David says:

Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart (Psalms 40:6-8).

In this Psalm, David points to Jesus’ sacrificing Himself as the channel of carrying out God’s plan and the importance of obedience to God’s divine will. In Paul’s comparison to Psalms 40:8, he emphasizes two points: (1) the sacrifice of the body prepared by God ("mine ears hast thou opened") and (2) obedience to God’s will ("I delight to do thy will"). The major difference between the words of Paul and David is that Paul says, "a body hast thou prepared me" while David says, "mine ears hast thou opened" (Psalms 40:6). Paul’s use of the word "body" (soma) instead of "ears" (otia) in no way changes the meaning of the message: "for the ears were the point of contact with God’s will" (Robertson 407). Paul’s reference to the preparing of a body and David’s reference to the opening of the ears are equivalent in meaning. Actually, Paul’s wording, "a body hast thou prepared me" is more dramatic because the entire body is referred to instead of just the ears. Both expressions indicate the person has been made an agreeable and submissive servant. The "ears" are the organ of the "body" necessary to hear God’s law, making it possible for one to obey and thereby accomplish God’s will. David’s expression, "mine ears hast thou opened" is also found in Exodus where God’s laws for servants are given. If a Hebrew became a servant, he had to serve his master for six years; and then in the seventh year he and his family became free. If he were not married when he became a servant and during the six years as a servant his master gave him a wife and she bore him children, the wife and children were not free to depart at the end of the six years; however, the law made a provision for this situation in which the servant could willfully choose to stay as a submissive servant and not go free so that he could stay with his wife and children:

And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever (Exodus 21:5-6).

Originally, the servant’s ear was not bored. The boring of the ear became a sign of one’s being a permanent servant. While not a perfect comparison, a similar action is seen in the life of the Son of God. Jesus was a servant of God in heaven, but He was without a human body. When Jesus willingly and submissively came to earth, a human body became necessary for Him to become a "sacrifice and offering," that is, an atonement for the sins of mankind. God’s will could not have been accomplished without preparing a human body for Jesus; therefore, God made Him a human body so that He could be the true and final offering for sin.

Verse 6


In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.

The words of this verse repeat the sentiments in verse 5. The expression "burnt offerings and sacrifices" are the same as "sacrifice and offering" in verse 5. Paul apparently refers to the insufficiency of the Levitical sacrifices in achieving God’s will to redeem man from sin. "Burnt offering" is so called because it was completely consumed on the altar. The instructions concerning the "burnt offerings" are given in Moses’ third book (see Leviticus 1:1-17).

"Sacrifices for sin" refers to sin offerings. Moses records the instructions for these sacrifices (see Leviticus 4:1-13).

Speaking of the Levitical "burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin," Paul says God had no "pleasure" (eudokeo), meaning God did not favorably receive the offerings. "God took no pleasure in the animal offering (thusian), the meal-offering (prosphoran), the burnt-offering (holokautomata), the sin-offering (peri hamartias) concerning sins" (Robertson 407). In the Old Testament, as well as in the New Testament, God has never exalted sacrifices over human obedience. Obedience and compliance to God’s will are most important because if man always observed God’s law, there would be no need for sacrifices:

For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you (Jeremiah 7:22-23).

Jesus gives the same emphasis to obedience when He says:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matthew 28:19-20).

Simply put, it is not sacrifices that God favors, but rather obedience to His divine will. Fudge explains Paul’s intent as clearly and accurately as anyone when he says:

Whatever the purpose and whatever the offering, none was God’s first choice from man. It is better to maintain fellowship than to restore it, to show consecration by a life than by an offering, to worship by giving oneself than a burnt animal, to obey than to atone for disobedience. God simply wanted human conformity to His will, manifested in sincere and loving obedience. Christ came to give this – and the Father gave Him a body for that purpose (106).

Verse 7


Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.

Then said I, Lo, I come…to do thy will, O God: Jesus voluntarily sacrificed Himself in reaction to His Father’s will. As in verse 5, this phrase comes from Psalms 40. David says, "Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart" (40:7-8). The wording in the Psalm refers to David, but Paul applies the same words to David as being a type of Christ. He emphasizes that when it became obvious that God’s will could not be fulfilled by any of the animal offerings and sacrifices, then Jesus was sent to accomplish the task of redeeming man.

(in the volume of the book it is written of me): Paul here refers to the Old Testament prophecy about the higher sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The word "volume" (kephalis) refers to the roll on which was written the law of God. The "volume" or roll has reference "to the wooden rollers about which the sheets of parchment were rolled, and which had at one end a kephalis (volume), or sort of carved head, which gave name to the whole" (Bloomfield 520-521). This "roll" is spoken of in other places of the scriptures. Ezekiel says, "And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein" (2:9). The "book" is the same as in Deuteronomy where the kings were commanded to write so that they would have a copy of God’s word about the coming of Jesus Christ:

And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel (Deuteronomy 17:18-20).

The Old Testament often refers to Jesus. Sometimes the reference appears to be about Moses, Abraham, David, or some other man of God; however, it appears in prophecy in the form of types and shadows.

Verse 8


Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;

"Above" refers to verse 5. In this passage, he repeats part of the prophecy from verses 5-7 to direct the Old Testament teaching to Jesus and no longer to David. Milligan explains Paul’s intent:

…he wholly overlooks the type, and applies the words of the Psalm directly to Christ as their true and proper author. It is no longer David, but Christ himself who appears in front of the great drama of redemption, and who comes forward to do the will of God, by giving his own life for the salvation of the world (347).

Verse 9


Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.

Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God: Coming to do God’s will was paramount with Jesus. In speaking to Judas, Jesus clearly explains His goal of being obedient to God’s every command when He says, "But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence" (John 14:31). In the preceding verses, Paul makes several references to the different Levitical offerings and sacrifices in order to contrast them with the one-time sacrifice of Jesus. These repeated sacrifices failed to fulfill God’s will for saving man; however, Jesus came and sacrificed Himself to fulfill God’s "will" (thelema), or God’s "choice" (Thayer 285). Jesus is God’s choice to redeem mankind from sins.

He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second: The will of God was for something to be abolished and for something else to replace it. The term "taketh away" (anaireo) is "present active indicative" (Robertson 408), indicating something was "abolish(ed)" (Thayer 38) or removed forever by the will of God. This term "taketh away" (anaireo) means to remove permanently just as someone who has been put to death exists no longer. Anaireo, translated "taketh away," is the same Greek word and has the same meaning as the word "slew," used to refer to the children in Bethlehem who were murdered by Herod’s instructions (see Matthew 2:16).

The thing abolished was not exclusively the Levitical sacrifices, but instead it was the whole blueprint of the Levitical law. It (the first law) was abolished to "establish" something more perfect (a second law) that would accomplish God’s will. The term "establish" (histemi) means "to uphold or sustain the authority or force of any thing" (Thayer 308). The second law, the law of Jesus Christ, became the authority of God, the perfect arrangement that would redeem mankind from sin.

Verse 10


By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Through the "second" covenant or "will" of God, mankind can achieve salvation because of God’s wondrous grace. The term "will" (thelema) means, "what one wishes or has determined shall be done" (Thayer 285). Contextually, Paul refers to God’s desire to redeem mankind through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. The picture is not of the compassionate and kindhearted Son calming down the annoyed Father; instead, it is God, the Father, so loving the world that He willingly gives His only begotten Son for its redemption. The Son willingly agrees with the Father and, therefore, fully implements His part in God’s plan. Paul’s point is that God loves man so much that He yearns for everyone to be "sanctified" (hagiazo), meaning He desires for everyone to be "free from the guilt of sin" (Thayer 6). Jesus speaks of God’s desire for all men to be saved when He says, "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:17). In his first epistle to Timothy, Paul emphasizes this same message, "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:3-4). Previously in this epistle, Paul has emphasized the sacrifices of bulls and goats (animals) cannot remove sins; in verse 5, he confirms that God "prepared" "a body" for Jesus. Here he emphatically states the one-time offering of "the body of Jesus Christ" can redeem man from sin, thus fulfilling the will of God. Jesus, our Savior, accepted and fulfilled the function for which His body was fashioned by God; He voluntarily offered His body as a free-will sacrifice.

Verse 11


And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:

Paul presents a vivid picture contrasting the inferiority of the Old Covenant sacrifices to the sacrifice of Jesus’ body in the New. The priest repeatedly offered the sacrifices in the Old Covenant, but the body of Jesus Christ was offered "once for all." The word "standeth" (histemi) indicates the "purpose or act" of the one standing (Thayer 308). It has reference to one’s having a "servile attitude" (Vincent 498), indicating that work still needed to be done to accomplish a goal. Therefore, Paul graphically describes every priest under the first covenant as standing as they were daily "ministering" (leitourgeo), meaning they would "perform a work" (Thayer 375) and "offering" (prosphero). The priests offered the same animal sacrifices, even though their service was unsuccessful in atoning sins. No matter what offerings were made, the sacrifices could effect no perfect peace of conscience, no guaranteed confidence of a gracious state, no definite internal purification, and no foundation for a new spiritual life. The offerings had no power to bring what was essential to man: forgiveness of sin.

Verse 12


But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

The words "But this man," allude, not to the priests in verse 11, but to Jesus Christ in verse 10. As Paul begins drawing to a conclusion the contrast of the Old and New Covenants and the sacrifices and rituals therein, he once again emphasizes the power of Jesus’ one-time sacrifice for sins. Paul’s emphasis in this verse is that the Levitical priests’ work was never completed; instead, they "standeth daily" (verse 11), indicating they were constantly offering sacrifices for sins. In contrast, Jesus’ work of atonement is over; the result has been accomplished, and thus He is described as One who has "sat down on the right hand of God." His work will never have to be repeated. His single act does the work that the many animal sacrifices failed to do.

Verse 13


From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

In verses 12 and 13, Paul quotes again from a Psalm of David:

The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth…The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries (Psalms 110:1-3; Psalms 110:5-6).

Jesus conquered sin. From "henceforth," or from the point where Jesus sits at God’s right hand, His sacrificial work is over and is all-sufficient; thus, He is represented as "expecting" (ekdechomai), that is, "waiting" (Thayer 193) for the fulfillment of His enemies’ being made His footstool. Jesus’ enemies are those who reject Him and His power as the Messiah; however, when His enemies are made His "footstool" (hupopodion), they become "subject" to Him and are "reduce(d) under His power" (Thayer 644). Jesus must no longer sacrifice, but that does not mean He is no longer working. He still reigns as our King and will reign until His last enemy, death, is destroyed. Paul speaks of the end time when Jesus will give up His kingdom to God:

Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death (1 Corinthians 15:24-26).

Verse 14


For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

No more sacrifices are needed because Jesus has done what the old sacrifices failed to do (see verse 1). This simple statement is the reason Jesus does not have to do as the Levitical priests and continually offer sacrifices. Jesus’ one-time offering has "perfected" those who follow Him. The word "perfected" (teleioo) means for one to be in such a spiritual condition that he has been raised "to the state of heavenly blessedness…and give him a sure hope of it even here on earth" (Thayer 619). Those who are "perfected," that is, "sanctified" (hagiazo), have been declared "free from the guilt of sin" (Thayer 6); thus, they have this hope of salvation. Those to whom Paul is referring are those who belong to Jesus Christ because they have obeyed His teaching. They have put Jesus into their lives through baptism; and now, through faith, obedience, and perseverance, they are children of God. When Paul writes to the Christians in Galatia, he gives them the same assurance:

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:26-29).

By the grace of God, man may be saved through faithfulness and perseverance. Paul does not mean they will never sin but that Jesus Christ has provided the means of perfection. It is he who endures to the end who will be saved. Jesus says, "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved" (Matthew 10:22). It is he who observes all of God’s commandments who will be saved. Jesus again says, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matthew 28:20). Again, it is the one who obeys Jesus and remains faithful who will be eternally saved. John, the Revelator, writes, "And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations" (Revelation 2:26). Paul’s message is that obedience and perseverance will lead one to eternal salvation.

Verses 15-17


Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

The "Holy Ghost" is a witness to Christians regarding the New Covenant’s being ratified by the blood of Jesus Christ, indicating the Holy Ghost is in agreement with God, the Father, and Jesus Christ and that He gives His sanction to Paul’s teaching. Paul continues to demonstrate his message by repeating the same quotation from Jeremiah 31:31-34, as he does earlier (see Hebrews 8:10-12 for an explanation of Paul’s words here). Paul begins drawing to a close his message by emphasizing that it has always been God’s intent for man to be saved. From the beginning of time, it was God’s plan to save those who accept and remain faithful to Jesus until the end of time. Accepting Jesus for a period of time and then forsaking Him by refusing to comply with His teaching leads one to eternal destruction. Earlier in this epistle Paul explains the message clearly by warning of the dangers of neglecting our salvation:

For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him (2:2-3).

Paul’s message is that forgiveness of sins comes through Jesus Christ and Him crucified. For those who obey Jesus, Paul says, "their sins and iniquities will I remember no more."

Verse 18


Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

This verse presents the victorious conclusion concerning the better sacrifice offered by Jesus Christ. The term "remission" (aphesis) means "forgiveness (or) pardon of sins" (Thayer 88). The emphasis is that there is, through Jesus, total forgiveness of sins and that these sins will be remembered no more; therefore, there is no need to continue offering more sacrifices. If one leaves Jesus, he leaves the hope of forgiveness of sins; he leaves the hope of salvation. Abandoning Christ and returning to the Old Covenant and its rituals are not an option for one desiring to make it to heaven. Paul’s reiteration of the amazing work of Jesus about the emancipation of man from the slavery of sin concludes this extraordinary and significant epilogue. From this point forward, the writer will give exhortations and warnings he has already established in this epistle.

An Exhortation to Draw Near and to Persevere 10:19-25

Beginning with verse 19, Paul reaches what is possibly the most important turning point of this epistle. The majority of Paul’s comments from here to the end of the epistle will be to encourage his readers to apply the results of what Jesus has done for them to their lives. He begins by making a practical application of many of the major themes he has discussed in the previous chapters. He will fully develop these teachings and conclude by exhorting his readers to make practical application of the teaching. Because they are near the point of leaving Jesus, he exhorts them to be conscientious and enthusiastic in their Christian lives and to help one another remain constant in their Christian profession. Then he encourages them to persevere to the end.

Verse 19


Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

These are encouraging words to every Christian. Paul is speaking about Christians’ living their lives in such a way that they will be able to enter into heaven. His point is that just as the high priest entered from the Holy Place into the Holy of Holies with the blood of animals for a sin offering, so also do Christians enter from the church into heaven, not by their own works, but by virtue of the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. The term "boldness" (parrhesia) denotes a Christian who is "fearless (and filled with) confidence" (Thayer 491) about their eternal salvation through Jesus Christ. Paul uses the term "holiest" (hagion) to refer to "the hallowed portion of the temple (or) ’the holy of holies’" (Thayer 6); also called the "Holiest of all" (9:3). Paul is not referring to the place called the "Holiest of all" within the tabernacle, but to what the "Holiest of all" represents, which is "heaven" (Dods 346). This fact is unchallenged because of Paul’s use of the additional words "by the blood of Jesus." It is Jesus’ blood that cleanses man from his sins and gains him an entrance into heaven.

Verse 20


By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

By a new and living way: The term "new" (prosphatos) means what is "recently or very lately made" (Thayer 550), and the word "living" (zao) means "having vital power in itself and exerting the same upon the soul" (Thayer 270). Paul is specifically speaking of a recently completed powerful "way," alluding to the way to the eternal home in heaven that we are given only by the grace of God.

which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh: Jesus’ "way" was "consecrated" (egkainizo), meaning it was inaugurated or "dedicate(d)" (Thayer 166) for man’s salvation. The "way" is through Jesus Christ, which is represented by the "veil"; therefore, Paul is speaking about the "flesh" or the sacrificed body of Jesus. Under the Old Covenant, a priest (representing Christians) would have to go from the Holy Place (representing the church) through the "veil" (representing Jesus’ flesh or body) in order to reach the Most Holy Place (representing heaven, the dwelling place of God). Therefore, Paul’s message is that under the New Covenant, Christians must be in the church—they must go through Jesus to reach heaven. Jesus personally speaks of Himself as the way when He says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). Paul sent a similar message earlier in this epistle while speaking of the hope of our salvation through Jesus:

Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec (6:17-20).

Just as the veil of the tabernacle had to be removed for the priest to enter into the Most Holy Place, so Jesus’ body had to be removed by death in order for His followers to enter into the true tabernacle, which is heaven.

Verse 21


And having an high priest over the house of God;

Not only do Christians have a new and living way, they have a great "high priest" under the New Covenant—Jesus Christ. As long as one holds to Jesus, he will reach the throne of grace. Jesus’ greatness is not only that He is a High Priest but that He is the Son of God who went into God’s holy presence:

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. 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. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (4:14-16).

Paul says Jesus is "over" (epi) the "house" (oikos), "the heavenly sanctuary" (Thayer 441), specifically referring to the church. The term "over" (epi) means to have the care of or the "power, control" (Thayer 235) over something. The "house" that Jesus has control over is the church, as it is called in Paul’s letter to Timothy where he says, "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15). Paul has already expounded in chapter three about Jesus’ being over God’s house and His followers making up this house if they remain faithful to Him: "But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end" (3:6).

Verse 22


Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Three major action verbs are emphasized by Paul in verses 22-24: (1) "draw near" (verse 22), (2) "hold fast" (verse 23), and (3) "consider" (verse 24). Understanding these verbs is essential to understanding his teaching here.

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith: The clause "Let us draw near" (proserchomai) generally refers to prayer or worship. In this context, it means "to draw near to God in order to receive His grace and favor" (Thayer 545). This drawing near is not a one-time action but is a continual action; thus, Paul’s message is let us keep approaching or let us keep drawing near to God. The overriding purpose of this epistle is to exhort Christians to remain close to God and to persevere in their faithfulness to Him. Paul has expressed similar encouragement in previous verses. For example, he says, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (4:16). Later he says, "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them (7:25). In the Old Testament, the idea of coming near to God is used of God’s people in reference to obedience in worship and sacrifices. For example, the Lord instructs Moses, saying:

Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God…No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God (Leviticus 21:17; Leviticus 21:21).

The expression to draw near to God is also used in reference to His children’s approaching Him in prayer to ask counsel of Him, as is seen in the example of King Saul:

And Saul said, Let us go down after the Philistines by night, and spoil them until the morning light, and let us not leave a man of them. And they said, Do whatsoever seemeth good unto thee. Then said the priest, Let us draw near hither unto God. And Saul asked counsel of God, Shall I go down after the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into the hand of Israel? But he answered him not that day (1 Samuel 14:36-37).

To receive God’s grace and approval, one must continually approach or come near to Him "with a true heart." The term "true" (alethinos) means to be "sincere" (Thayer 27). The word "heart" (kardia) refers, not to the blood pumping organ within our body, but instead to a sincere "will and character" (Thayer 325) as one approaches God. Drawing near to God is "not with a merely bodily approach as if all were external and symbolic, but with that genuine engagement of the inner man which constitutes true worship" (Dods 346). The Apostle Peter teaches the same principle to Christian wives, instructing them not to be concerned with the outer adorning but with the inner adorning. Speaking to the women, Peter says, "But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price" (1 Peter 3:4). This type of perfect heart, this genuiness, is seen in Hezekiah’s prayer to God, as he neared what he thought was the end of his life. He prayed, "Remember now, O LORD, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore" (Isaiah 38:3). Because Hezekiah had a sincere heart, the Lord instructed Isaiah to tell him that he would not die but that he would live fifteen more years (Isaiah 38:5). In Paul’s writing, he commonly speaks of people having abundant confidence in their faith. In this epistle, he encourages Christians to have the right attitude and to have Hezekiah’s confidence—but confidence in what? He says for Christians to remain close to God and to retain their confidence with the "full assurance of faith." "Full assurance" (plerophoria) means to have an "abundance" (Thayer 517) of faith; therefore, Paul’s encouragement is for Christians to remain near to God with an abundant amount of confidence in their faith. If Christians have that confidence, as Hezekiah did, they will be encouraged to remain faithful. Paul speaks of a confident faith in the epistle to the Colossians, saying, "That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ" (Colossians 2:2). In another epistle, Paul speaks of those having much assurance or abundant confidence: "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake" (1 Thessalonians 1:5). Dods writes:

It is the inevitable qualification of one who comes "in full assurance of faith," believing not only that God is but that a way to His favour and fellowship is opened by the Great Priest. To engender this full assurance has been the aim of the writer throughout the Epistle (346).

having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience: Maintaining a sincere Christian character and retaining our confidence in Jesus involves a two-step process. First, Christians must have their heart "sprinkled from an evil conscience"; and secondly, they must have their "bodies washed with pure water." To have the heart and Christian character "sprinkled" (rhantizo) figuratively means "to purify (or to) cleanse" (Thayer 561) our hearts from an "evil conscience." An "evil conscience" (poneros suneidesis) implies being "conscious of wickedness" (Thayer 530), that is, having "a mind conscious of wrong-doing" (Thayer 603). For Christians to have an abundance of confidence in their faith, they must not continue in violation of God’s instructions. Rather, they must focus their attention on their obedience to God. They must be "freed from whatever dispositions corrupt the conscience, and defile the heart" (Bloomfield 523).

and our bodies washed with pure water: The second course of action is for bodies to be "washed with pure water." Paul says we must metaphorically have our body washed with "pure" (katharos) water, that is, "clean…free from the admixture or adhesion of any thing that soils, adulterates, (or) corrupts" (Thayer 312). The reference is to the Old Testament washings for purification in which the Jews sprinkled the tabernacle and furnishings. In this verse, Paul alludes to baptism, the action one takes to be united with Jesus. When Paul writes the Christians in Galatia, he speaks of the old law as their schoolmaster but then explains how they are no longer under the schoolmaster. Now they are followers of God through Jesus Christ:

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:24-28).

All Christians are washed, purified, and cleansed with pure water through obedience to God in baptism. Jesus emphasizes the same fact about baptism, saying, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16). Paul writes to Christians in Rome about purification through baptism, allowing them to walk in newness of life:

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection (Romans 6:1-5).

Verse 23


Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering: Paul once again encourages Christians to "hold fast" (katecho), that is, to "keep firm possession of" (Thayer 340), "the profession of our faith without wavering." The "profession" (homologia) of one’s faith is "what one professes [confession]" (Thayer 446). Christians must confess their faith in Jesus Christ; therefore, Paul’s message is that they must not deny Jesus but must be unbending, keeping firm possession of their faith in Him. Jesus clearly explains both the benefits of confessing Him and the penalty for failing to confess Him when He says:

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven (Matthew 10:32-33).

If one confesses Jesus, Jesus will confess him to God. If one fails to confess Jesus, Jesus will deny him; therefore, Christians are to keep firm possession of their faith in Jesus "without wavering" (aklines), that is, be "firm (and) unmoved" (Thayer 22). Paul simply tells Christians, "Do not abandon Jesus, for if you do He will deny you to the Father."

(for he is faithful that promised;): Man has not yet experienced the full blessings that come from being in fellowship with God. The greatest blessing is the heavenly home promised to those who remain faithful. Christians have an assured promise of reaching that home and living there in eternity based upon their faith and obedience to Jesus Christ. We have confidence in this promise because God who made it is faithful and will not lie. Paul speaks of this promise:

That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises…That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us (6:12, 18).

Verse 24


And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

In verses 19-23, Paul encourages Christians to think about their own actions, their own faith, their own confidence. Now, he turns to tell these same Christians to prove their faithfulness by encouraging their fellow Christians. He says, first, "consider one another" (katanoeo), meaning "to consider attentively, fix one’s eyes or mind upon" (Thayer 334). This message is not to give a fleeting consideration of other Christians but to give firm and continual attention to them regarding their faithfulness to Jesus and "to provoke unto love and to good works." The term "provoke" (paroxusmos) means "incitement" (Thayer 490) or "stimulation" (Dods 347). They are to stimulate or encourage each other to increase in good works and to motivate one another to love God and to love each other. Provoking unto love and good works will be not be forgotten by God, for Paul previously said:

But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister (6:9-10).

Paul encourages every Christian to be the eyes of all other Christians. Bloomfield says about this verse, "Let us keep our observation attentively fixed on each other" (523).

Verse 25


Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together: Paul uses public worship as an example of the instruction in verse 24, that is, encourage others when they show signs of spiritual weakness. Paul’s major theme in this epistle is for them not to go into apostasy—for them not to leave Jesus and return to the Old Covenant. One way for them to avoid spiritual weakness is to be faithful in assembling. Paul wants to save from apostasy those whose faith has grown sluggish, and he wants them to grow in faith.

Here, then, it would seem that, as one principal means of maintaining their faith, hope, and charity, and by a wholesome emulation counteracting that sluggishness with which he charges them at verse 11, the Apostle enjoins a regular attendance on the various assemblies for divine worship, whether in the public congregation, or in their more private meetings held for social worship. How indispensable this was to the producing the above ends, and how the neglect of this duty would tend to apostasy itself, it is scarcely necessary to observe; nor are we justified in seeking to diminish the force of the implied admonition, by adverting to the peculiar circumstance in which the Hebrew Christians were placed, and the temptation to which it appears they were of themselves too prone—apostasy, or, at least, backsliding. The importance, and even necessity of the duty of Christians assembling themselves together at stated times is such as exists in every age (Bloomfield 524).

What does one have to do to forsake "the assembling"? The term "forsaking" (egataleipo) means "to desert" something (Thayer 166). In Paul’s epistle to Timothy, he uses the word "forsaking" (egataleipo) in reference to Demas’ departure from him. Paul says, "Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world…" (2 Timothy 4:9-10). Whatever Demas did is the same thing Christians do when they forsake the assembly. Demas had forsaken Paul by abandoning him—no longer being with him but choosing to return to the ways of the world. What some Hebrews have done is to forsake or "abandon" "the assembling of ourselves together." The words "assembling together" (episunagoge) are defined as "the religious assembly of Christians" (Thayer 244). Some have already forsaken because Paul says, "as the manner of some is." The term "manner" (ethos) refers to their "custom" (Thayer 168). Public worship is forsaken in the same way Paul was forsaken by Demas, that is, by voluntarily choosing to leave Jesus’ way and to return to the world from which they came.

but exhorting one another: Instead of Christians’ forsaking the assembling of themselves together, Paul encourages them to be accountable for "exhorting" (parakaleo) or "admonish(ing)" one another (Thayer 482). Their exhortation is not restricted to assembling for public worship. Paul has already emphasized the need for faithful Christians to exhort and to encourage weak Christians who are close to becoming hardened by any sin:

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end (3:12-14).

When Christians are becoming spiritually weak, those who are spiritually mature are admonished to encourage them to be faithful in the performance of all good works. Actually, this encouragement is needed at all times because Paul says they are to "exhort one another daily" (3:13). Paul’s message is to exhort each other to constancy, faithfulness, and loyalty in the performance of all religious duties, including obedience to every command and instruction of Jesus Christ.

and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching: The term "see" (blepo) is used figuratively and means "mentally perceive, discover, (or) understand" (Thayer 103). The word does not indicate something they will physically see but something they discern mentally. What is the "day" (hemera) approaching? There are two dominant views. Some believe Paul refers to the day of the destruction of Jerusalem (Milligan, Bales, and others), and some believe he refers to the day of judgment when Jesus will return (Meyer, Vincent, Wycliffe, Dummelow, Bloomfield, Dods, Robertson, Lange, and others). Alford quotes Delitzsch, saying:

It is the Day of days, the ending-day of all days, the settling-day of all days, the Day of the promotion of Time into Eternity, the Day which for the Church breaks through and breaks off the night of this present world (The New Testament for English Readers 1547).

The view regarding the destruction of Jerusalem would, in fact, bring God’s judgment on the apostatizing Jews; therefore, this destruction would bring about a type of deliverance from persecutions for faithful Christians; however, contextually, this view is not founded. Actually the destruction of Jerusalem has not been mentioned.

On the other hand, Paul has written much about the day of judgment that will take place after men die. He says, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (9:27). He also speaks of the day of judgment when he refers to Jesus’ second appearing: "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation" (9:27-28). In both of these occasions, just as in this verse, Paul appears to be speaking about the final judgment day or "the last day of the present age…the day in which Christ will return from heaven, raise the dead, hold the final judgment, and perfect his kingdom" (Thayer 278). The term "approaching" (eggizo) indicates "to draw or come near" (Thayer 164); therefore, Paul is admonishing mature Christians to encourage weaker Christians daily to persevere in faithfulness to Jesus Christ; and even more so, to encourage them as they "see" or "perceive (or) understand" (Thayer 103) that the final judgment is approaching. This "day" is the same day indicated by Paul in his epistle to the Thessalonians. He does not want them to be unaware of this most important day; therefore, he begins writing about his desire for them not to "be ignorant," and he concludes by admonishing them to "comfort one another":

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

The importance of Christians’ encouraging weaker Christians who are on the verge of apostasy to remain faithful to Jesus Christ is essential because of their inability to know when this "day" will come. Paul confirms this statement:

For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief (1 Thessalonians 5:2-4).

Verse 26


Exhortation Sharpened by the Terrible Consequences of Apostasy


For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

For if we sin wilfully: This verse is almost overwhelming to all Christians. It suggests the possibility that we may drift into an irredeemable condition or that it is possible to be able to so sin as to have no sacrifice for sins; no way for forgiveness is extremely alarming. The sin suggested here is not one specific sin such as murder, theft, or adultery, but instead Paul is speaking of acts of rebellion that have led to permanent departure or abandonment of Christianity for Judaism. The teaching found here is more dramatic, but it is almost equivalent to the teaching found in chapter six where Paul says:

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame (6:4-6).

The term "wilfully" (hekousious) refers to a permanent action done "voluntarily, willingly, (or) of one’s own accord" (Thayer 198). Apostatizing is the act of continually sinning willfully after knowing the truth. Paul is not here referring to a one-time act during an emotional time of excitement, but instead, it appears that he is speaking of "a sin of habit, a sin that is willingly and deliberately persisted in; a sin that is committed with a high hand and in open violation and contempt for God’s law" (Milligan 365).

after that we have received the knowledge of the truth: Paul is speaking specifically of those who are Christians. The term "knowledge" (epignosis) refers to those with "precise and correct knowledge" (Thayer 237) of the "truth" (aletheia), that is, the revelation through Jesus Christ or the correct knowledge of "the truth, as taught in the Christian religion, respecting God and the execution of his purposes through Christ, and respecting the duties of man" (Thayer 26). Therefore, Paul speaks of people who willfully transgress what they know God expects of them. This type of knowledge is not a simple recognition of truth. Richard C. Trench says that "knowledge" when translated from the Greek word epignosis "must be regarded as "intensive…a deeper and more intimate knowledge and acquaintance" (285).

there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins: By "remaineth" (apoleipo), Paul means "it remains (or) is reserved" (Thayer 64). His emphasis is that those who know they have the most intimate knowledge of God’s truth must also realize there is no more sacrifice for sins. The Levitical animal sacrifices had been abolished; therefore, it is Jesus’ sacrifice or none. There is no suggestion here that those who do not know the deeper truth of God’s will shall not be justly punished; however, contextually they are not the ones in Paul’s mind as he writes these words. Paul speaks about Christians who know the truth but who intentionally refuse to obey; therefore, they are lost.

For those who apostatize, Paul declares they do not even have the benefit of salvation gained by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ; therefore, they only have destruction to look forward to.

This scripture, maybe more so than any other, distresses many Christians because they know they have sinned many times "willfully," or "deliberately." Does this mean it is now impossible for them to be saved? A casual reading of Hebrews 10:26 might cause one to reach such a conclusion because it does leave the impression that if one willfully sins there is no hope of salvation; however, this interpretation is not what Paul is teaching. Contextually, the only sin that is involved is the rejection of Jesus. Paul describes a Christian who knows that Jesus is the Son of God, the only redeemer of the world, and willfully rejects Him as the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of humanity. Paul is referring to apostasy: one who leaves Jesus forever. When one abandons Jesus and fails to repent and turn back to Him, there is no other means of forgiveness. There is no other way for salvation.

This text does not teach that if we willfully or deliberately sin, there is no hope for forgiveness. Such an understanding would mean that if we "backslide" in a weakened spiritual moment, or if we are overtaken in a fault, we would have no hope. Paul writes about the downfall of individuals in his letter to the churches in Galatia, but he does not suggest there is no forgiveness; rather, he instructs the mature Christians to "restore" that individual who has deliberately sinned:

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden (Galatians 6:1-5).

Paul deals with a deliberate apostate decision of an individual. Specifically, he is referring to one who makes a choice, intentionally and continuously, to reject Jesus Christ and His atonement; therefore, he persists in the apostasy by denying Jesus. In other words, Paul is calling attention to those who renounce the gospel and deny the Lord who bought them with His blood. Jude addresses the issue of some who denied Jesus and went into total apostasy:

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ (1:3-4).

If a person knowingly gives up Jesus and the gospel for fear of persecution or for any other reason and if that person dies refusing to repent and acknowledge Jesus, then there is no other recourse for amnesty—he is lost, and there is "no more sacrifice for sins." Paul clearly acknowledges that if we deny Jesus, we are without any means of redemption from our sins. It is this message that Jesus communicates when speaking to Nicodemus:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God (John 3:16-21).

Paul’s readers have heard from their forefathers about the coming of the Messiah who would provide forgiveness of sins. Since Jesus is the One who was to come, as foretold by the Old Testament prophets, there is no other means of forgiveness if anyone continually refuses to accept Him and His ways. Paul’s emphasis, as is found in Romans, is on the necessity of accepting Jesus in order to have eternal life. One must have Jesus in his life to have forgiveness of sins:

But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:6-13).

Man gives up his chance of forgiveness if he continually rejects Jesus’ atonement for the redemption of humanity; however, man does not give up his chance of forgiveness if he changes from his ungodly behavior.

Paul is focusing on one who renounces the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. He is primarily dealing with a particular offense—rejection of Jesus as the Messiah thus, the propitiation for man’s sins. The sin that is committed is the sin of deliberately rejecting Jesus as God’s propitiation. With the above thoughts in mind, give close attention to Paul’s words again as he seeks to call attention to the rejection of Jesus by some:

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering (10:23-32 NIV).

Verse 27


But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

But a certain fearful looking for of judgment: Paul expresses the results of committing the sin of apostasy mentioned in verse 26. The consequences of this act are not salvation but "a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation." The term "fearful" (phoberos) is found only here in the New Testament, and it suggests the sinner would be "affected with fear" (Thayer 655) while "looking for of judgment and fiery indignation." The term "looking for" (ekdoche) does not refer to something seen with the eyes but to an "expectation (or) an awaiting" (Thayer 194) of "judgment" (krisis). "Judgment" or condemnation refers to "the judgment of God or of Jesus the Messiah" (Thayer 361).

and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries: Paul is speaking of the fearful anticipation of vengeance or of the wrath of fire that will accompany the judgment day for those who have left Jesus Christ. In leaving Jesus, they place themselves in a situation in which there is no hope of salvation. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul speaks of man’s work being tried by fire:

Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is (1 Corinthians 3:12-13).

This fear is not just the thought of the judgment but also of the "fiery indignation" (pur zelos) following the judgment of those who die unprepared. David associates fire with the anger of God when he says, "Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of thine anger: the LORD shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them" (Psalms 21:9). The prophet Malachi writes similar teaching when he says:

For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch (Malachi 4:1).

"Fiery indignation" seems to be an allusion to the fire that came out from God and consumed the Levites who rebelled in Korah. Moses records this event, saying, "And there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense" (Numbers 16:35). There are also many other examples of the Lord’s devouring the "adversaries" with fire; thus, Paul explains later in this epistle, "For our God is a consuming fire" (12:29). The term "devour" (esthio) is used metaphorically to mean "consume" (Thayer 253). When Paul writes to the Thessalonians, he warns the Christians of Jesus’ returning to consume the wicked:

Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9).

Verse 28


He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy: Paul is not speaking of every sin or disobedience committed under the Old Testament, but instead, he refers to the act of committing these sins in open rebellion. Those who are guilty do so publicly and with contempt for God’s law. Paul here repeats the sentiments articulated earlier in this same epistle where he warns the Hebrew Christians to give heed to the things they have heard before or else they may slip:

For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him (2:2-3).

The term "despised" (atheteo) means "to act towards anything as though it were annulled; hence to deprive a law of force by opinions or acts opposed to it, to transgress" (Thayer 14). Paul is reiterating his earlier message, "For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof" (7:18). Paul also refers to Moses’ law to demonstrate the extreme fury of God and the punishment that follows when God’s people intentionally violate His laws. The intentional transgressors in Moses’ day, just as in the Christian era, "died without mercy," so they were not exempted from punishment. The term "mercy" (oiktirmos) means "emotions, longings, manifestations" (Thayer 442).

under two or three witnesses: The term "witnesses" (martus) denotes "etymologically one who is mindful" (Thayer 392). Those who intentionally displayed their transgressions against God in the Old Testament were put to death "under two or three witnesses." An example of an open sin is idolatry. Moses writes of such an example when he says:

Thou shalt not sacrifice unto the LORD thy God any bullock, or sheep, wherein is blemish, or any evilfavouredness: for that is an abomination unto the LORD thy God. If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant, And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel: Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die. At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death (Deuteronomy 17:1-6).

Verse 29


Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy: Paul wants his readers to contemplate the results of apostatizing. In the previous verse, he clearly explains the punishment of those who violated God’s law under the Old Testament; now he speaks of how much worse it would be under the New Testament for those who violate God’s law. He specifically wants them to consider eternal punishment if they leave Jesus. The phrase "of how much sorer punishment" is intended to place in a strong light the guilt of those who abandon Jesus Christ and His gospel. The term "sorer" (cheiron) actually denotes something that is "worse" (Thayer 668); and in this context, Paul is speaking of a worse "punishment" (timoria), that is, a worse "vengeance (or) penalty" (Thayer 624) for their actions. Paul’s words imply different degrees of punishment for different sins committed. God’s people in the New Testament have received much more spiritually than those in the Old Testament; therefore, more is expected of them. Those under the Old Testament suffered great punishment for their sins against God; therefore, the severity of the transgressors under the New Testament will be much greater. Jesus had direct reference to this idea when He says:

And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more (Luke 12:47-48).

The phrase "shall he be thought worthy" (axioo), meaning "to deem deserving" (Thayer 53), does not suggest Paul’s readers will actually decide the degree of punishment, but it shows that he desires his readers to reflect on how much greater punishment they deserve if they mistreat Jesus Christ.

who hath trodden under foot the Son of God: Paul has in mind three specific acts of mistreatment of Jesus that he wants his readers to consider. First, he wants them to consider how much greater punishment those deserve "who hath trodden under foot the Son of God." He wants them to contemplate the anguish and horrors associated with the coming judgment. The words "trodden under foot" (katapateo) mean "to treat with insulting neglect" (Thayer 335). This expression is generally used to denote the utmost contempt and insult of an individual. "The strong term is purposely selected in order to convey the sense of the fearful outrage involved in forsaking Christ and returning to Judaism" (Vincent 504). Contextually, Paul is speaking of the just punishment for people who insult Jesus and treat Him as though He is an impostor and not actually the Son of God. It is as though they are crucifying Jesus again.

and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing: The second specific act of mistreatment of Jesus is by those who have been with Jesus but have deserted Him. Paul says how much more severe should their punishment be because they "hath (have) counted the blood of the covenant…an unholy thing" or as something that is impure. The words "hath counted the blood of the covenant" "implies a deliberate, contemptuous rejection of the gifts of the new covenant" (Vincent 505). This is abusive action, not to Jesus personally, but toward the sacrifice of Himself when He ratified the New Covenant, the very act that caused them to be holy, sanctified, or freed from sin. The words "hath counted" (hegeomai) mean "consider, deem, account, (or) think" (Thayer 276); therefore, he wants his readers to contemplate the punishment that will be bestowed upon those who consider that "the blood of the covenant…(is) an unholy thing." The word "unholy" (koinos) means to be "unhallowed, (as to be) levitically unclean" (Thayer 351). Not only do those who abandon Jesus reject Him; but by their actions, they also consider His shed sacrificial blood as being impure.

and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace: The third specific act of mistreatment of Jesus that Paul wants his readers to consider is that they have "done despite unto the Spirit of grace." Every gracious influence that has fashioned a Christian is a product of the Spirit. By the words "hath done despite unto" (enubrizo), Paul refers to those who "treat with contumely" or who give contemptuous humiliating insults (Thayer 219) to the Spirit of grace. The "Spirit of grace" refers to the Holy Spirit or at least to His influence. It is God’s Holy Spirit who conveys all grace, contentment, and salvation to sinful man. The Holy Spirit is directly responsible for having delivered God’s Word to mankind. Jesus says:

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you (John 16:13-14).

The apostate who resists His influences by not remaining true to Jesus Christ insults the Holy Spirit, who gave God’s Word. "Thus, then, to insult the Holy Spirit is to reject his holy influences with disdain, to deny their reality, or, it may be, ascribe them to demoniacal agency, - the sin against the Holy Ghost" (Bloomfield 525). Speaking in the strongest words possible of those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit, Jesus says they will have no forgiveness of sins:

He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come (Matthew 12:30-32).

Verse 30


For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.

Paul expresses that all Christians know the character of God: He is a God of genuineness, righteousness, and holiness; however, God is not only a God of grace and peace but also a God of judgment and wrath. In this one verse, Paul follows up the solemn warning in verse 29 to emphasize God’s disapproval of those who apostatize. Paul uses three words to describe the enormity of the retribution threatened by God. God is specifically named as the speaker to emphasize the immeasurable authority, righteousness, and legitimacy of the punishment threatened. The original speaker referred to by "we know him that hath said" refers to God, as spoken through Moses’ song that sets forth God’s mercy and vengeance:

To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste. For the LORD shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left (Deuteronomy 32:35-36).

The first term of punishment used by Paul is "vengeance" (ekdikesis), not in the sense of vindictiveness but in this context to "revenging…punishment" (Thayer 194) for intentional acts of sin. Paul warns the Christians in Rome not to attempt to avenge wrong done to them. He says, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord" (Romans 12:19).

The second term is "recompense" (antapodidomi), used to emphasize that God’s vengeance refers to the "penalty" (Thayer 49) applied to those who do not persevere in faithfulness.

The third term is "shall judge" (krino), meaning "will avenge" (Bloomfield 525) and "contextually, is used specifically of the act of condemning and decreeing (or inflicting) penalty on one" for apostatizing (Thayer 361). The psalmist writes similarly saying, "For the LORD will judge his people, and he will repent himself concerning his servants" (Psalms 135:14). Paul’s message is that God, being a God of justice, will judge the righteous Christians and the evildoers of the world equally. The Apostle Peter, warning of the importance of obeying God, says:

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator (1 Peter 4:17-19).

Verse 31


It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

The conclusion of verses 29-30 is here clearly stated. The term "fearful" is similar to the Latin term translated horrible. The willful transgressor throws himself into the hands of an avenging God. The word "hands" (cheir) is used figuratively "symbolizing (God’s) might, activity, (and) power" (Thayer 668); therefore, Paul concludes by stating emphatically how horrendous it is for those who forsake Jesus Christ to fall into the almighty avenging power of the living God for their just punishment. Bloomfield says, "How utterly hopeless is the condition of his enemies" (525). Fear was also a part of the teachings of Jesus when He gave final instructions to the twelve apostles as He sent them out to preach: "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28). Jesus gives the same warning later: "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal" (Matthew 25:46). In Hebrews Paul confirms that God will not allow His Son Jesus nor His sacrificial gift to be snubbed and insulted without impunity.

Verse 32


Paul’s Confidence in the Hebrew Christians 10:32-39

But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;

Paul now changes his tone. In verses 26-31, he has given severe warnings about the vengeance God will bestow upon the unfaithful; beginning with verse 32 through the end of this chapter, he gives tremendous words of encouragement to remind them of the brighter side of this dark picture. He begins by encouraging those who are on the verge of apostasy to "call to remembrance the former days…" To "call to remembrance" (anamimnesko) means "contextually, to remember and weigh well, (to) consider" (Thayer 40) the former days. The "former days" are the days when they were newborn babes in Jesus Christ, that is, they had just become Christians; they were "illuminated" (photizo), meaning to "enlighten spiritually, imbue (or instilled) with the saving knowledge" of Christ (Thayer 663). Specifically, Paul is encouraging his readers to remember when they endured their "fight" (athlesis). Paul does not state what specific trials they previously underwent. He simply is calling to their attention the fact that all of their struggles, whatever they may have been, will be lost if they now give way to apostasy. Paul uses this same tactic with the Christians in Galatia who have stopped obeying the truth. He asks them to remember the good times when they became Christians so that their former suffering will not have been in vain:

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain (Galatians 3:1-4).

It would be well for backsliding Christians today to follow the same instructions given by Paul in this passage and to remember the earlier days of their Christian lives. They should remember the excitement they had when they decided to accept Jesus Christ in baptism. They should remember the encouragement they received from other Christians following their baptism. Paul wants his readers to remember the good things that came, even through difficult times, in their earlier days as Christians.

Verse 33


Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.

Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions: In this and the following verse, Paul mentions the specific areas of suffering they had experienced. He first reminds them that originally they were "made a gazingstock." The term "gazingstock" (theatrizo) indicates a type of a theatre setting and means "to bring upon the stage; hence to set forth as a spectacle, expose to contempt" (Thayer 284). When these people were first converted to Jesus, there were many who encouraged them; however, there were also many who made fun of them and attempted to embarrass them. They received public insults just as criminals in a theater were exposed to public shame and embarrassment. There were many severe trials; however, they endured each one. Paul makes a similar statement about the apostles when he says, "For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men" (1 Corinthians 4:9). Like the apostles, the Hebrew Christians were made a gazingstock or a spectacle by "reproaches" (oneidismos) and "afflictions" (thlipsis), which refers to "oppression, tribulation, (and) distress" (Thayer 291).

and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used: These Christians were also made a spectacle by originally becoming "companions" of other Christians who were mistreated. The term "companions" (koinonos) implies they became "a partner, associate, (or) comrade" (Thayer 352) with the abused Christians by attempting to assist them during their distress. Paul says he knows there were times that some of them, who were on the verge of apostasy, were not being persecuted; however, they boldly and publically assisted those who were being persecuted. Paul may have been thinking of Christians who assisted him during his personal persecutions in Ephesus:

And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre. And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre. Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together (Acts 19:29-32).

Paul is emphasizing the importance of their remembering the good times as well as the difficult trials of their Christian journey.

Verse 34


For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.

For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods: Paul illustrates his message in the last two verses where he reminds them of their situation shortly after they became Christians. Some of their persecution came because they had "compassion" for him when he was being mistreated as a Christian and was even put in bonds. The term "compassion" (sumpatheo) means "to feel for" (Thayer 596) and indicates they had sympathy for him during difficult times. They, thus, became participants in his situation—not participants in persecuting Paul but in sharing his burdens. Later in this epistle, Paul will remind the Hebrews of this terrible period of time and encourage them to return to loving one another and sympathizing with them. In the final chapter, Paul says:

Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body (13:1-3).

Paul reminds them of the time they "took joyfully the spoiling of your goods." The term "spoiling" (harpage) refers to "the act of plundering (or) robbery" (Thayer 74) and in this context refers to the idea of snatching away. Paul does not name the specific ways in which the "spoiling" took place; but he is probably referring to their losses as a result of being a Christian.

knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance: Even though these Christians have suffered losses in the past, they are promised better things in heaven. Paul refers to an "enduring substance," meaning "to continue to be, i.e. not to perish, to last" (Thayer 399). Paul does not specifically state what is to be endured; he simply mentions they have in heaven an enduring substance. The term "substance" (huparxis) refers to all "possessions, goods, wealth, property" (Thayer 638). Christians may have been robbed of earthly property; but Paul promises that when they reach heaven, they will have properties that will last forever. Likely, Paul is referring to an enduring substance promised to Abraham that he will mention again in the next chapter:

By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God…And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city (11:9-10, 15-16).

Verse 35


Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.

Cast not away therefore your confidence: The expression "cast not away" (apoballo) means not to "throw off" (Thayer 60) or "abandon not" (Bloomfield 526). Paul encourages his readers to retain the confidence of their hope in Jesus Christ and not to cast it away. At this point some of these Christians have given up their hope and are discarding their confidence just as one would cast away an old article of clothing. By their "confidence" (parrhesia), Paul means the fearless confidence in Jesus Christ and the cheerful courage they had when they first became Christians.

Specifically, he encourages them to return to "the undoubting confidence of Christians relative to their fellowship with God" (Thayer 491). The enemies of Jesus may place them in prison, they may even put them to death, but no one could deprive them of their hope of salvation except themselves.

which hath great recompence of reward: As long as they retain confidence in their hope of salvation, they have their "recompence of reward" (misthapodosia), meaning "payment of wages due" (Thayer 415). Persevering in their faithfulness will secure their eternal home in heaven. This reward is not based on one’s work but upon God’s grace. God, through Jesus Christ, provided a way to heaven; man’s obedience to God’s plan of salvation will guarantee him that home. Paul says:

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:4-10).

The grace bestowed upon Christians who persevere in faithfulness is salvation through the precious blood of Jesus Christ.

Verse 36


For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

For ye have need of patience: Every Christian needs patience to be able to endure physical, mental, or spiritual difficulties. The term "patience" (hupomone) means "steadfastness, constancy, endurance" (Thayer 644). In the New Testament, patience is the quality of a person who is reliable and unshakable from his intended objective goals. The one who has patience has set his allegiance to faith and piety even during immense trials and afflictions. With the attribute of true patience, not only can one overcome spiritual afflictions but he can also experience these troubled times with joy. Paul writes about the peace one has with God through His grace:

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us (Romans 5:1-5).

that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise: The doing and the receiving Paul speaks of here are in the future, and both require the Christian’s patience and steadfastness in obedience to the will of God. As Paul points out, Christians need patience that they may do the will of God and that they "might receive the promise." "Promise" (epaggelia) refers to "the blessing promised by my Father" (Thayer 227), that is, eternal life in heaven with all the blessings associated with it. The scholarly Bloomfield, writing on the importance of patience, says:

1. We live here in a vale of misery, where we meet with a thousand petty crosses and vexations in the common road of our lives, which we have need of patience to digest;

2. We are beset, surrounded with a world of temptations, assaulting us within and without, which we have need of patience to withstand;

3. We are exposed to manifold injuries, obloquies, and sufferings, which we have need of patience to bear;

4. We have many precious promises made us in the word of grace, of glory, and of outward things; of some of which we find as yet but slender performance, and of others no visible probability of their future performance; these we have need of patience to expect:

5. We have many duties required of us in our Christian callings, and in our particular vocation (for the honour of God, and the service of our brethren), which we have need of patience to go through (526).

Verse 37


For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.

The phrase "For yet a little while" is taken from a similar expression in Isaiah 26:20 where the prophet says, "…hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast." This expression suggests a short period of time and the suggestion that He will not "tarry" (chronizo), meaning He will not "linger" (or He will not) "delay" (Thayer 673). The reference is used to emphasize the coming of the Messiah. Opinions differ as to which coming Paul refers. Some believe he has reference to the coming of Christ to destroy Jerusalem in order to put an end to the Jewish state (Bloomfield, Milligan); however, the destruction of Jerusalem is not under consideration in this context and does not seem to fit. Paul’s teaching is about salvation and the dangers of Christians’ losing their eternal home in heaven if they abandon Jesus; therefore, it is not the destruction of Jerusalem under consideration, but it is Jesus’ return for the final judgment. The destruction of Jerusalem would fit here only in the sense that during that horrible time some of Paul’s readers may die. If they die during the period of destruction and if they have abandoned Him, their destiny will be sealed. There would be no more chances to repent: no more sacrifices for sins will be offered; therefore, Paul’s message is to persevere in faithfulness and be ready to face Jesus Christ at the final judgment at all times. Jesus says:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (John 5:24-29).

Verse 38


Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

Now the just shall live by faith: The "just" (dikaios) "contextually (refer to those who are) approved of God (or those who are) acceptable to God" (Thayer 149). Paul has reference to the means by which people please God and, therefore, shall attain eternal life with Jesus. Salvation comes by "faith" (pistis), meaning to "trust in the promises of God" (Thayer 514). Christians have a choice: they can please God or they can displease Him. Those who please Him shall do so only by "faith"; on the opposite side, if they lose their faith in God, they will have no pleasure in Him. This faith is not a stagnant faith but a working faith; it is a faith that Christians "shall live by." It is through the Christian’s perseverance and his enduring faith and reliance on God that he will attain eternal salvation. In chapter eleven, Paul gives many examples of great men and women who lived by this faith and thus were spoken of in high esteem, not only by him but also by God. The life of Enoch, for example, is mentioned. Because of Enoch’s faith, Paul says, "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God" (11:5). He pleased God because of his faith in the promises of God.

but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him: Paul continues his plea for the Hebrew Christians to be steadfast as one of the "just," one who lives by faith. He here gives the opposite action for one who does not retain faith in Jesus: he is considered as those who "draw back." The prophet Habakkuk writes a similar warning, but in a reverse order, when he says, "Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright (he draws back) in him: but the just shall live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4). The term "draw back" (hupostello) is in the Greek middle voice, indicating it is an intentional action done by the person to himself; literally, it means "to withdraw one’s self, (for example) to be timid, to cower, shrink: of those who from timidity hesitate to avow what they believe" (Thayer 645). Paul says the one who pleases God, who persists in living a just life, may "draw back" away from God. This development is made clearly obvious from the expression "my soul shall have no pleasure in him"; therefore, as Paul suggests, God would have pleasure in him before his drawing back but not after he draws back because God takes pleasure in "just" men only (those who live their lives in faithfulness). Paul writes a similar message to Christians in Rome: "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:16-17). In Hebrews Paul affirms this principle: "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (11:6).

The "just" man who is living by faith pleases God; however, if he does not persevere in his faithfulness, Paul says, "my soul shall have no pleasure in him." The term "soul" (psuche) as used in this context denotes "life…the life which is lived on earth…(and also), the blessed life in the eternal kingdom of God…the life destined to enjoy the Messianic salvation" (Thayer 677). The thought of having no "pleasure" (eudokeo) suggests that he once pledged his faith in Jesus; but now, since he is a spiritual deserter, God will not "be well pleased with" him (Thayer 258).

Verse 39


But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition: Paul concludes with hopeful words of encouragement. He is not indicating he does not believe that some have not abandoned Jesus Christ, for obviously they have; however, he is suggesting that it is not too late for their return; he has not lost confidence in their soul’s salvation. He believes those who have left their faith will return to Jesus and those who have grown weak in the faith will be strengthened; therefore, they have not drawn back unto "perdition" (apoleia), meaning "the destruction which consists in the loss of eternal life (or) eternal misery" (Thayer 71).

but of them that believe to the saving of the soul: Paul lets the Hebrew Christians know that he has not given up on them nor on the "saving of the soul." The term "saving" (peripoiesis) indicates "a preserving, preservation…to the preserving of the soul, that it may be made partaker of eternal salvation" (Thayer 504). It is his confidence in them as a people of faith that leads him to write the following long exposition on the subject of faith.

Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on Hebrews 10". "Contending for the Faith". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ctf/hebrews-10.html. 1993-2022.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile