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the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 10

Hampton's Commentary on Selected BooksHampton's Commentary

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Verses 1-4

Sacrifices Under Moses' Law Were Insufficient

The blood of the law was not sufficient to cleanse men of sin. The law was just a shadow, or vague outline, of the good things that were to come under the new covenant. Since it was not the image, or true body, the law and its sacrifices could not continually cleanse man. The power was simply not available, under that system to cleanse man of sin. If the blood of the old covenant had been sufficient, there would have been no need to make a sacrifice every year to wash away the same sins. Once sin has been washed away, there is no need to cleanse man of that sin any longer. Yet, the sins of the people under the law of Moses were the cause of many sacrifices. Certain sins caused sacrifices to be made daily, weekly, monthly and at the three yearly festivals ( Exo_29:38-46 ; Num_28:9-15 ; Lev_23:1-44 ).

Beyond that, there was an annual day of atonement on which sacrifices were offered for the sins of the priests and the people. Even after the cleansing of that day, a scapegoat had to be sent into the wilderness bearing the iniquities of the land ( Lev_16:11-15 ; Lev_16:20-22 ). Moses' law did not have a provision allowing for the complete cleansing of man from sin. In fact, its repeated sacrifices served only to remind man of his sinfulness. The benefits of any sacrifice seem to have lasted only till the next annual Day of Atonement. Hence, remembrance was made of sin, the same sin, every year and a new atonement made. Such is the case because the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin ( Heb_10:1-4 ).

Verses 5-10

Christ, the Better Sacrifice

Since Christ, the better sacrifice, was needed to cleanse man, He came into the world saying the words of Psa_49:6-8 . David recognized burnt offerings did not fulfill his needs. Milligan notes the exact quotation in the King James Version had the words, "ears hast thou digged out for me." It means He was made a fit servant, as Exo_21:5-6 indicates. For Christ to be a fit servant, He had to have a body to offer as His sacrifice. Thus, our reading, "a body You have prepared for Me." The great weakness of burnt offerings and sacrifices was that God had no pleasure in them. Milligan and Delitzsch agree David spoke "from the very soul of the Antitype," that is Christ himself, when he said he came to do God's will. The Pentateuch, or first five books of the Bible, are the volume of the book which spoke of Christ.

God did not want sacrifices instead of obedience to His will ( 1Sa_15:22 ). So Christ came to do His will in sacrificing Himself. In contrast to the sacrifices of the old law, Christ could fulfill the will of God. It was for this cause that Christ did away with the old law and established the new. It is this second, or new, law which is the will of God. By it we are sanctified through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ. This sacrifice completed the job of sanctification "once for all" ( Heb_10:5-10 ).

Verses 11-18

Christ Is Now Seated At God's Right Hand

The many priests of the old covenant stood performing sacrificial duties day after day. The desired result of cleansing from sin was not attained. In contrast, Christ only made His sacrifice once and sat down with His work completed. There was no need for numerous offerings since God's will was accomplished when the one sacrifice was finished. Thus, Christ sat down at God's right hand when the sacrifice had been made. He now awaits the fulfillment of Psa_110:1 . He will sit in His position of authority until all His enemies are subjected to Him ( Mat_28:18 ; 1Co_15:24-28 ). He does not need to make daily offerings for sin because the one offering of Himself was enough. It is through that one offering that Jesus was able to perfect all those who would come to Him and subject their will to His commands. This would, of course, include all of those who had already lived in subjection to God's commands, such as the patriarchs and the children of Israel ( Heb_10:11-14 ).

For further proof of his point, the writer quoted the Holy Spirit's words from Jer_31:33-34 , which clearly indicates he thought it was inspired. This loose quotation shows that during days gone by, God had intended there should be a new covenant. Under it people's sins would be fully blotted out. Where such complete forgiveness is obtainable, as is the case under the new covenant, there is no further need for further sin offerings. ( Heb_10:15-18 ).

Verses 19-22

Entering Heaven Through The Veil of Christ's Flesh

Clearly, Christians should have confidence they will one day enter heaven. They are able to enter, not through a lifeless law, but through a living Christ. The only way to enter is through the torn veil of Jesus' flesh. The Christian has a Great Priest, which Milligan says is a better rendering than High Priest. His greatness comes from His position. The house over which He serves is God's, the church. Ultimately that house is also heaven ( 1Ti_3:15 ; Heb_8:2 ).

The Christian is to draw near to God with a true heart, which does not contain sin and deceitfulness. He must have complete trust in God and His word. All the evil which would cause him to have a guilty conscience before God must be washed from his heart ( Heb_10:19-22 ). When the writer says hearts must be sprinkled, it appears he refers to the sprinkling of Christ's blood. To become a Christian, one must be washed in Christ's blood. Washing must refer to the act of baptism ( Eph_5:26 ; Tit_3:5 ; Act_22:16 ). To remain free from sin, he must walk in the light, thereby receiving constant cleansing ( 1Pe_1:2 ; 1Jn_1:7 ).

Verses 23-25

Holding Fast the Confession of Hope

A home in heaven is the sincere hope of every Christian. The writer encouraged his readers toward faith in the one who promised such a home. He urged them to hold fast to Christ and His teachings since He is the object of the Christian's confession of faith. As Christian brothers and sisters, we should think about one another with the goal of finding ways to encourage each other to love and good works. Indeed, love will bring one to do good works ( Joh_14:15 ).

One means of encouraging one another would be public worship, the purpose of which is to edify ( 1Co_14:26 ). Therefore, the writer told his readers to attend those assemblies and not forsake them. It was an ideal time to stir all the people and encourage them along the road to heaven. This was especially important as they could see the coming "day" ( Heb_10:23-25 ). This writer believes the "Day approaching" refers to the destruction of Jerusalem. The writer obviously believed the day was imminent and warned his first century readers of that fact. Today, we need to be constantly aware of the approaching judgment day. While we cannot know it is imminent, we can be sure we will all face judgment ( Mat_25:13 ; Heb_9:27 ).

Verses 23-29

Moses and Faith

At his birth, Moses' parents displayed a great faith in God. They knew Pharaoh had commanded all male children be thrown in the river, but they hid their son three months ( Exo_1:22 ; Exo_2:1-3 .) God rewarded their faith by allowing their son to be spared ( Exo_2:4-10 ). When Moses grew up, it was out of faith that he rejected the Egyptians in favor of his Hebrew brethren ( Exo_2:11-12 ). Rather than turn away and let the Egyptian beat the Hebrew slave, Moses chose to throw off the pleasures of the sinful Egyptians and risk the suffering of the Hebrews ( Heb_11:23-25 ).

Moses gave up these luxuries and chose to suffer the reproach Christ and all believers in God have to bear. He did this so he could receive the reward of heaven. Milligan believes this to be the reproach that Christ bore while on earth and the reproach that he bears through the person of all true believers. Christ is the righteousness of all the redeemed ( 2Co_5:21 ) and the writer indicates he believes Christ suffered afflictions in his body. When Moses left Egypt, he was afraid because others knew he had slain the Egyptian ( Exo_2:11-15 ). However, the Hebrew writer says he did not abandon Egypt out of fear, but faith. Through the eye of faith, Moses was able to see Christ, the invisible ( 1Ti_1:17 ; 1Ti_6:14-16 ), and take courage in the fact that Christ is faithful in keeping his promises ( Heb_11:26-27 ).

Moses and the children of Israel kept the passover, as God had commanded, believing that God would destroy the firstborn of Egypt and save the Israelites ( Exo_12:1-36 ). It was by faith that the Israelites were able to pass through the Red Sea and the Egyptians were drowned ( Heb_11:28-29 ; Exo_14:10-31 ).

Verses 26-31

The Danger of Willful Sin

Forsaking the assemblies was a willful sin which, along with other willful sins, pushed away the sacrifice of Christ. Therefore, there was no more sacrifice available to the one who did such. Instead, he could only look forward to judgment and eternal damnation. Lightfoot points out that God's judgment of the wicked is often pictured as fire ( Isa_66:15-16 ; Zep_1:18 ; 2Th_1:7-10 ).

People who openly rebelled against Moses' law were unable to receive forgiveness ( Deu_17:2-7 ). Since we have a covenant that is so much better, the punishment should bemuch worse ( Luk_12:47-48 ). We know God and are assured He will keep His promises. God will reward man according to the deeds done in the flesh, as He promised. We also know that God will judge all people, including His own ( Deu_32:35-36 ). Knowing these facts makes us know it would be a terrible thing to be a condemned sinner ( Heb_10:26-31 ; Mat_25:46 ).

Verses 32-39

Believing To The Saving Of The Soul

Just as he did in chapter 6, the writer turned to encourage the Hebrew brethren. He wanted them to remember the days of persecution they previously endured. This was because they had turned from being children of darkness to being children of light. They had become the subjects of public insults and reproaches, or reproachful names. They also endured afflictions, including several kinds of abuse. They had even become friends with those who were suffering such trials, knowing it would mean like sufferings for themselves. Milligan says verse 34 should begin, "For ye sympathized with them who were in bonds." Not only did they do that, but they also joyfully endured the losses which they had to suffer for being Christians. The reason they were able to endure all of these earthly losses was the heavenly reward awaiting them ( Mat_6:19-21 ).

The writer did not want them to become afraid and cast away their only hope. That hope was the way to receive the promised reward of heaven. Patient endurance in times of trial would cause them to continue in God's will. It also would allow them to receive the promise of eternal life ( Heb_10:32-36 ; Gal_6:9 ).

The Hebrew brethren had apparently cried out asking, "How long will our suffering last?" In answer, the writer quotes from Isa_26:20 and Hab_2:3-4 . God promises those who will patiently wait an imminent end to the suffering. This could well refer to the coming of Christ at the destruction of Jerusalem, as in verse 25. This coming is one of providence, not necessarily a literal, physical coming. Historians tell us unbelieving Jews were taken captive or slain on that day, but the whole congregation of the Lord's church at Jerusalem had left the city and escaped unharmed. The just man will be justified by his faith.

However, the one who has been just, but has drawn back from the faith will not please the Lord. The writer then encouraged his readers by saying he and they were not members of that group which would turn from the faith. Rather, they were of the group that is strong in the faith which is able to save the soul. They were of the group that would keep on believing till salvation "to the uttermost" ( Heb_7:25 ) has been received ( Heb_10:37-39 ).

Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Hebrews 10". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghc/hebrews-10.html. 2014.
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