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Bible Commentaries

Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans and Hebrews
Hebrews 10

 

 

Verse 1

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...—The law is here described as a shadow, and not an image. Here the law, as in many other places, denotes the whole of the Mosaic dispensation. It had been previously characterized as standing only in meats: " Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation." Chap. Under these carnal ordinances, spiritual and heavenly things were concealed. The carnal ordinances constituted the vail on Moses" face, which concealed the glory of his countenance. There is an important distinction between a shadow and an image. A shadow is a mere outline, having only two proportions, length and breadth; an image has three—length, breadth, and thickness, and gives an exact representation of the object. Should it be asked whether it would not have been better had the law been an image of the new and spiritual dispensation, the reply is easy, By no means. Had this been the case, the people to whom it was given must have been gathered from all nations; and this would have defeated one important end of the separation of Israel, that the faithfulness of God in fulfilling his promise to Abraham, that he should be the progenitor of Christ, might be manifest. Again, as believers under the Gospel have but one priest, there could only have been one under the law. There would also have been but one sacrifice, one baptism. Once more the law must have been written on the hearts of all the people of the old, because this is the privilege of all the children of the new covenant. In short, every purpose of the giving of the law would have been made void; and, long before the expiration of the two thousand years which elapsed between the call of Abraham and the coming of Christ, the promise of the appearing of the Savior would have been forgotten.

But the wisdom of God, by the separation of the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, redeeming them from bondage, feeding them in the wilderness, and putting them in possession of a land flowing with milk and honey, appointing a priesthood in the family of Aaron, and, in connexion with this, establishing the daily and yearly sacrifices, purifications, and festivals, kept up during the space of fifteen hundred years a memorial of the new and more glorious dispensation under which God's people should be made free by the truth, should go up through the wilderness, should pass through the valley of the shadow of death, and inherit the better country.

Can never.—The sacrifices which were constantly offered could never make the worshippers [Those who are described as the comers thereto, verse1 , are spoken of as worshippers, verse2.] perfect by removing their guilt and obtaining their acceptance with God.


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.

Here the reason is given why the legal sacrifices could not make the worshippers perfect. Had they done Song of Solomon , they would have ceased to be offered. Some copies omit the word not, thus rendering it a positive affirmation. The meaning is precisely the same.

For the worshippers...—Had the legal sacrifices really cancelled guilt, there would have been no need of their repetition; for the worshippers being once purified, would have had no longer a consciousness of guilt; their hearts would have been sprinkled from an evil conscience, ver22; and they would have had boldness in approaching their heavenly Father.

It may he alleged, that since men do not cease from sin, that, although their guilt had been removed, fresh guilt would have been contracted, which, notwithstanding the efficacy of the sacrifice by which their guilt had been removed, would have required a fresh sacrifice; but this is fallacious, and that it is so is proved by matter of fact. The blood of Jesus cleanses the believer from all sin. It gives him the answer of a good conscience. Christ was delivered for our sins, and raised again for our justification. The believer can therefore say, "It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemned?" He can plead a full remission of his sins through the blood of Jesus. They are all buried in his grave, and shall never appear against him. There is a fountain opened in Zion for sin and uncleanness, to which we have daily recourse. By one offering Christ hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. This is illustrated in what follows.


Verse 3

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

So far from removing a sense of guilt, the legal sacrifices brought the guilt of the worshippers to their remembrance every year. The sacrifice on the great day of atonement might seem to remove the sins of Israel, and it did so in one sense; it sanctified to the purifying of the flesh, Hebrews 9:13, removed ceremonial uncleanness; but the following year the same process took place. Thus we see how the sacrifices did no more than bring the sins of Israel to remembrance. Every succeeding day of atonement testified the inefficacy of what had gone before.


Verse 4

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

For it is not possible.—God does nothing in vain. It results from His infinite wisdom that the means which He employs are exactly adapted to the object He has in view, neither greater nor less. We may prove our folly by employing means inadequate to the end we have in view, or we may apply more strength than is requisite. But God is perfect in Wisdom of Solomon , and therefore the means He employs always exactly correspond with the end He has in view. Now, for fifteen hundred years, the blood of bulls and goats flowed on His altar, and their constant repetition proved their inefficacy. But, in the fulness of time, He sent forth His Song of Solomon , born of a woman, made under the law, to redeem His people from the curse of the law; and no other proof is requisite to confirm the Apostle's assertion, that it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin. Had such sacrifices been sufficient, the Son of God would not have suffered, the just for the unjust, that He might bring sinners to God.

Here is a demonstration that it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sin. God does nothing in vain; there is nothing superfluous in His conduct. Sacrifices bled on the Jewish altar fifteen hundred years, but still the fire burned as fiercely as ever. Should it, then, be asked, Did all the generations of Israel, from Moses to Christ, die in their sins? the reply Isaiah , By no means.

They had before them an account of Abraham's justification through faith in Him whose day he saw afar off, and was glad. Moses wrote of the same exalted personage; and there was always a remnant in Israel whose heart God had touched, who looked for the coming of the Savior. As the virtue of the atonement of Christ extended not merely to those who believed during the days of His flesh, but to the end of the world, so it looked back to the fall of Adam, and, like righteous Abel, all who believed in Him who was to come were partakers of the great salvation. This is plainly declared by the Apostle. Speaking of the Savior, he says, " Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [A propitiatory, or mercy-seat. There are two words rendered in our version "propitiation." The one which is used in this passage is that by which the "mercy-seat" is rendered in the Septuagint; the covering of the ark, the throne of the God of Israel, who sat between the cherubim.] through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time, his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." Romans 3:25-26. Believers who lived under the law were justified by faith in Christ, as well as those who live under the new dispensation.

So that, while there was in Israel a remembrance again made of sins every year, the efficacy of the great atonement extended from the fall to the consummation of all things.


Verse 5

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

Therefore when he (that Isaiah , Christ) cometh into the world.—Christ was known among the Jews as He who should come, Luke 7:19; and He is thus described in the passage before us. Thus we are taught that the40th Psalm is descriptive of Christ. It was written by David, but a greater than David is here. Indeed, the better we understand the Psalm the more clearly shall we see that they speak of Christ. The Lord, in discoursing with His disciples, divided the Old Testament into three parts; the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalm. Luke 24:44. Moses wrote of Him. He is the end of the law, and to Him give all the prophets witness. David, the sweet singer of Israel, who wrote the greater part of the Psalm , was a remarkable type of Him; and, in the greater part of the Psalm , while he speaks in his own person, he describes the experience of Christ in the days of His flesh. In the Psalm we are admitted into the Redeemer's closet. We contemplate Him as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, bowed down under the load of His people's sins, and, in the days of His flesh, making supplication with strong crying and tears to Him that was able to deliver Him from death. Both He that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one family; therefore He is not ashamed to call them brethren. In virtue of their unity, their sins are His sins, and His righteousness their righteousness. Hence we find Him groaning under a load of sin, although He did no sin, nor was guile found in His lips. At other times we find Him describing Himself as holy, and rejoicing in the complacency with which His Father always viewed His righteous servant. The application by the Apostle of the40th Psalm to Christ, in the passage before us, gives us a key which opens to us the meaning of many other Psalm.

Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, or thou didst not desire, Psalm 40:6.—This describes God's weariness of all the sacrifices enjoined in the law. Isaiah 1:10-14. They were enjoined to maintain the expectation of a better sacrifice; but, when they had answered their end, they were offensive to God. Everything is beautiful in its season; the time of their abolition was come, and he that killed an ox was as if he slew a Prayer of Manasseh , &c. Isaiah 66:3.

A body hast thou prepared me.—It is in the Psalm , "Mine ears hast thou opened." Various conjectures have been offered to account for the difference, but none of them are satisfactory. The words, as quoted by the Apostle, are found in the Septuagint; but there seems a difficulty in the supposition of his quoting this version when writing to the Hebrews.

There Isaiah , however, a substantial agreement in these different renderings. The ear is the organ by which we receive the communications made to us by others. Hence to hear frequently signifies to believe, or obey. John 8:6-7; John 10:27; Deuteronomy 1:43. "The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back." Isaiah 50:5. Jesus came as His Father's servant, Isaiah 49:6; not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him. John 5:30. On becoming incarnate, He took upon Him the form of a servant, Philippians 2:7; and it was His meat and His drink to do the will of His Father; and, therefore,

"A body hast thou prepared me," is equivalent to " Mine ears hast thou opened."


Verse 6

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

Various sacrifices were enjoined by the law, two of which, burnt-offerings and sin-offerings, are specified by the Apostle. In neither of these had God any pleasure as an atonement for sin. Hebrews , indeed, approved of their being offered in obedience to His command, and severely punished their being neglected; but, for the removal of guilt, they were utterly worthless.


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.

The volume or roll of the book refers to the manner in which books of old were rolled up. Thus the book which John saw in the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne was written both within and on the back, and sealed with seven seals; consequently, when the first seal was opened, a part of the contents of the book were discovered, and so on with each successive seal, until the whole was exposed to view.

The book here mentioned is evidently the Scriptures, which testify of Christ. Moses wrote of Him; to Him give all the prophets witness; and the Psalm exhibit all the secret workings of His mind in the house of his pilgrimage. His love to the law was stronger than death. To magnify and make it honorable He submitted to every privation; He voluntarily endured every hardship; and, finally, laid down His life to restore what His people had taken away. He had received a commandment from His Father to lay down His life; "and how am I straitened," said Hebrews , " till it be accomplished." Luke 12:50. [Jesus had been manifested to Israel by His baptism; He was buried in and raised from the waters of Jordan, on which occasion the voice from the excellent glory proclaimed Him to be the Son of God, and the Spirit descended and rested upon Him; but this was only a figurative burial. He was to descend into the lower parts of the earth, and to be declared to be the Son of God with power by His resurrection from the dead. Romans 1:4.]

He was impatient to fill up the measure of His expiatory sufferings. Thus He came to do the will of God, according to the prophecies concerning Him which had gone before; and, in the40th Psalm , quoted by the Apostle, He expresses the pleasure He had in the hard service which He had undertaken.


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 when he said.—The Apostle here resumes his exposition of the40th Psalm , recapitulating what he had already quoted in proof of the insufficiency of the legal sacrifices, of which, as he had said of the priesthood, "there was a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof." Chap.


Verse 9

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

Then he said ( Psalm 40:7-8), Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first... —viz, sacrifice and burnt-offerings, and offerings for sin, which are offered by the law.

That he might establish the second—that Isaiah , the efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ, who came to do the will of God by finishing transgression, making an end of sin, making reconciliation for iniquity, and bringing in everlasting righteousness. The blood-shedding of the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world, in which God smelled a savour of rest, had only been prefigured by the legal sacrifices. The Apostle's argument here is precisely similar to his reasoning respecting the priesthood in chap7:, when he proves the inferiority of the priesthood after the order of Aaron to that after the order of Melchisedec. It Isaiah , in fact, the same subject presented to us under two different aspects; the one being the legal sacrifices, abolished by the great sacrifice which they only shadowed forth; the other the priesthood made after the law of a carnal commandment, superseded by the priesthood made after the power of an endless life.


Verse 10

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

By the which will...—The Apostle had quoted from the40th Psalm the words of Messiah, that He came to do the will of God, and here he describes the effect of His obedience. "Sanctified" does not here signify internal purity or holiness, although the sanctification spoken of is the foundation of all fallen man's conformity to God. The first-born in Israel were to be sanctified or set apart for God, and, in their stead, the Levites were taken, who alone were permitted to do the service of the tabernacle. The nation of Israel were sanctified by the blood of the covenant, whereby God engaged to be their God, and to take them for His peculiar people. This, however, did not prevent their wickedness being greater than that of Sodom. Ezekiel 16:48. All their privileges flowed from their relation to Christ, and this was a carnal relation. "Of whom," says the Apostle, "according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen." Romans 9:5. Hence the blood of the covenant, wherewith they were sanctified, was the blood of bulls and of goats, which could never take away sin; it merely sanctified to the purifying of the flesh, Hebrews 9:13, removing whatever ceremonial uncleanness had been contracted. On the other hand, the relation of believers, the true Israel, with Christ, is a spiritual relation, 1 Corinthians 6:17; and the covenant through which they enter into this relation is ratified with the blood of Christ. Hence it is written, "Wherefore Jesus, also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth, therefore, unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach." Hebrews 13:12-13. His blood cleanseth believers from all their sin, cancels all their guilt. It purges their conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Hebrews 9:14. It reconciles them to God; and, as the necessary consequence, they are saved through His life. Romans 5:10. He is both their atoning sacrifice and high priest. He appears in the midst of the throne as a lamb that had been slain. As their great High Priest, He offers their prayers, perfumed with much incense. He bears their names on His breast, and the voice of His intercession has reached our ears, "Father, I will that those whom thou hast given me be with me where I am." To Him the Spirit was given without measure, and by this one Spirit, communicated through Him, are they all baptized into one body; and although their conformity to their glorious head is very imperfect, while both Adam, the source of corruption, and Christ, the source of purity, dwell in them, their path is like the shining light, which shineth more and more to the perfect day.

Christ has given us repentance by manifesting Himself to us as He does not to the world; and although we now see but in part, and there is a law in our members warring against the law of our mind, and bringing us into captivity to the law of sin in our members, we are gradually advancing nearer to Christ, shall shortly see Him as He Isaiah , and then the transformation begun in the day of our new creation, when the Spirit first took of the things of Christ and showed them to us, shall be consummated; we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Thus, then, are believers sanctified through the one offering of Christ. They are holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ, once for all. This is the foundation of their conformity to God; and the more they are under the teaching of the Spirit the more they know of the things that are freely given to them of God; the more are they renewed in the spirit of their mind, and the better they understand that they are complete in Christ, and that He is made of God unto them Wisdom of Solomon , righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.


Verse 11

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

Every priest in Israel stood daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never expiate guilt. The daily and yearly sacrifices were appointed by Divine authority; but, as it had been already proved by their constant repetition, they could not take away sins. Indeed, it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sin, and nothing can satisfy the conscience but what satisfies Divine justice.


Verse 12

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

But this priest, having offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God. Christ having sat down at the right hand of God, is repeatedly mentioned by the Apostle. Chap; 8:1; 12:2. This is the fulfilment of the110th Psalm , previously quoted, "The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool." Christ sitting down at the right hand of God, after having offered His atoning sacrifice, demonstrated its perfection. The Jewish priests stood while fulfilling their service. It would have been death for the high priest to have sat down within the vail; but our great High Priest having humbled Himself, and become obedient to death, even the death of the cross, and thus redeemed His people from the curse of the law, by being made a curse for them, ascended up far above all heavens, and sat down at the right hand of God, angels, principalities, and powers being made subject to Him.


Verse 13

From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

From henceforth...—All power in heaven and in earth is given to Him. He is exalted a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance to Israel, and the remission of sins. The Father judgeth no Prayer of Manasseh , but hath committed all judgment to the Son. All the dispensations of Providence are under His complete control; all the angels of God are subject to Him, and are employed as ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them that shall be heirs of salvation. Hence the Apostle says to believers, "All things are yours." The unlimited power of their elder Brother is the security of all things working together for their good. They are not, indeed, exempted from the troubles of life. "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth." Never was sorrow like to that sorrow wherewith their elder Brother was afflicted while a pilgrim upon earth; their afflictions are a part of their fellowship with Christ. He drank of the brook in the way; therefore He lifted up His head; and they must suffer with Him, that they may also reign with Him. The glory in which He is enthroned is the pledge of their sharing it with Him. He that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one; and as all Joseph's power in Egypt was employed for the benefit of his brethren, so is the glory of Christ in his exaltation, the prelude of the entrance of all His people into the everlasting mansions.


Verse 14

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

See on ver10. Here, again, the word "perfect" occurs. The sanctified are those who are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, that they might be holy and without blame before Him in love; who are redeemed, not with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot; whose sins are forgiven for His name's sake; who are brought within the bond of the new covenant, and who are going up through the wilderness, leaning upon Him who has undertaken to guide them by His counsel and afterwards receive them to His glory. His one offering has made them perfect. God sees no iniquity in Jacob, nor perverseness in Israel. He is well pleased for His righteousness' sake. They are washed, and sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. Such are the effects of His one offering. He stood as the head of His body, the Church, and they are complete in Him. So glorious is His offering, that there is no spot in His redeemed. They are clothed in a garment in which God's omniscient eye discerns no flaw. They are complete in Christ. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.


Verse 15

Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us; for after that he had said before.

The Apostle here confirms what he had said by the testimony of the Holy Ghost. This language merits our particular attention. It demonstrates the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures. The Apostles spoke not in the word which man's wisdom taught, but that which the Holy Ghost taught. He then proceeds to quote the words of the Holy Ghost which he had mentioned before.


Verse 16

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.

The Apostle had already quoted from Jeremiah what is repeated in this verse. See chap.


Verse 17

And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

The new covenant is not so fully described here as it had been formerly. He omits what he had said, chap , and passes on to the declaration that God would no more remember their sins and their iniquities, on which he intended to reason.


Verse 18

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

Now where.—It had been previously shown that the repetition of the Jewish sacrifices proved their inefficacy, but God engages to remember no more the sins and iniquities of the children of the new covenant. Now, it is self-evident that where there is remission of sins no farther sacrifice is requisite. The object of the sacrifice is to cancel guilt; and, where it is cancelled, any further offering must be superfluous. The children of the new covenant are sanctified by Christ's one offering, verse14; and to present another offering for sin virtually pronounces it insufficient, thus making God a liar. Nothing can more clearly prove how utterly unscriptural is the sacrifice of the mass.

It is held by Roman Catholics to be a real sacrifice, a repetition of what took place on Calvary; and thus they deny the efficacy of the death of Christ as an atoning sacrifice, for as the Apostle argues that the worshippers, once purged, should have no more conscience of sin. Chap. They may allege that the mass is only a commemoration of the sacrifice of Christ, but the Council of Trent declares the sacrifice of the mass to be a "true and proper propitiatory sacrifice for sin," which directly contradicts the assertion of the Apostle, and pours contempt on that finished work of which God hath expressed His full approbation by raising Christ from the dead, and giving Him glory, that our faith and hope might be in God. Those who pretend to offer a sacrifice for sin deny the perfection of the sacrifice of Christ, and are not entitled to the name of Christians.

It was the manner of the Apostle in all his epistles to bring forward the great doctrines of the Gospel as the foundation of those exhortations which he saw to be requisite for those to whom he wrote.

Men admire the morality of the New Testament, but they turn with disgust from those truths on which alone the morality rests. Christian practice is as inseparably connected with the truth as it is in Jesus as the fruitful branch is with the stock of the tree. The work of the law is written on men"s hearts; hence they admire the practice which proceeds from the faith of the Gospel, while that Gospel is a stumbling block and foolishness to them.

The verse which we have been considering forms the conclusion of the doctrinal part of this Epistle. In what follows, the Apostle proceeds to the practical improvement of the truth which he had laid down.


Verse 19

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

Having therefore, brethren, boldness...— In Israel the high priest alone durst presume to enter the holiest of all, and that but once in the year, with the blood of the sacrifices. He remained within the vail but for a short time. But our great High Priest hath for ever sat down at the right hand of the majesty in the heavens, and through Him we have access by one Spirit unto the Father, Ephesians 2:18. The place of worship is indeed changed. Believers, being made priests to God, have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, not into the holy places made with hands, which were the figures of the true, but into heaven itself, chap9:24 , into which their great High Priest has entered as their forerunner. It is true, that till they are absent from the body they are not present with the Lord. The heavens have received Him till the time of the restitution of all things, but it is to appear in the presence of God for us He is gone to prepare a place for His people, and He will come again and receive them to Himself, John 14:2-3; meantime, believers are encouraged to come boldly unto the throne of grace. The place of worship is now transferred from earth to heaven; and, instead of sitting at the feet of Moses, whose instructions were veiled in types and parables, we behold in the unveiled face of Christ the glory of the Lord, and experience the transforming influence of the truth delivered by His Apostles, who used great plainness of speech.


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 Lord teaches us that He is the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh to the Father but through Him. This is the new and living way which He hath consecrated for us, that is to say His flesh, or his body, which he offered once for all. The vail separated between the holy and the holiest of all, but at the death of Jesus the vail of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, which signified that the way into the holiest of all was now made manifest by the event which had just taken place. But although he died he is the living one, Revelation 1:18, and believers have access to the throne of God through him that was dead and liveth for evermore. Many generations have passed away since the vail of his flesh was rent; but, like the ark in the midst of Jordan, his empty grave stands as a memorial that although believers must have fellowship with him in his death they shall not remain under the power of death. Through him they all have access by one Spirit unto the Father, and when he hath gathered in all his blood-bought sheep he shall call to the heaven from above and to the earth that he may judge his people: "Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice," Psalm 1:5; who have entered the new and everlasting covenant by faith in the sacrifice which cleanseth believers from all sin.


Verse 21

And having an high priest over the house of God.

And having a great High Priest... [It is in the original a great priest] The great object of the whole Epistle was to exhibit the connexion between the Jewish and Christian worship, by showing that the former was a figure of the latter, an earthly or carnal exhibition of a heavenly and spiritual object. The Apostle therefore dwells on the priesthood of Christ. In the new and spiritual dispensation He is all in all: like God"s servant Moses, who was faithful in all his house; but as a son over his own house, which is composed of living stones resting upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, He himself being the chief corner stone. He is described as a living stone, and through their union with Him all the stones of the building are quickened. We know the power of a loadstone, which communicates magnetism to iron. God might have given it the power of communicating magnetism to stone, so that the foundation might communicate its property to the whole building. Such is the case with Christ; all the stones of the living temple rest on Him, and to them all, does He communicate a life which never ends, according to that which is written: " As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself, [This refers to Christ in his mediatorial character, as the Father's servant, but as being Himself God, "in him was life." Hence he is called, "The eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested to us," 1 John 1:2; but as Immanuel, God manifest in the flesh, He was the Father's servant, and that eternal life, which is the gift of God, is communicated to us through Christ "He asked life of God and he gave it to him, even length of days for ever and ever; and of his fulness we all receive, and grace for grace."] and hath given him authority to execute judgment also because he is the Son of man." John 5:26; John 5:7. Here we see that He is the source of the life of His people, and that He quickeneth whom He will. "For the Father judgeth no Prayer of Manasseh , but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." John 5:21-22. All His sheep are known to the Good Shepherd, and that individually and by name.


Verse 22

let as 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.

Let us draw near.—We have seen that the Israelites drew near to God by the priests, and especially by the great high priest, who entered the holiest of all, the secret place of the Most High, on the great day of Atonement We are invited to draw near, through our great High Priest, who hath for us, as our surety and representative, entered into Heaven itself. Another Apostle says, "Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. Through him we cry Abba, Father." Let us then draw near with a true heart. This is opposed to dissimulation or hypocrisy. It is illustrated by the Psalmist, "If I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me, but verily God hath heard me," &c. In full assurance of faith, that is in the fullest confidence of acceptance in Christ. Faith is the substance or confidence of things hoped for. Chap11: The salvation of Christ is full and free, it is for the chief of sinners; and in the Gospel a foundation is laid for the most assured confidence of acceptance in Christ.

It is well observed, by Archbishop Leighton, that the want of assurance of our salvation must proceed from one of two things; either that the atonement of Christ is insufficient to remove our guilt, or that we require some qualification which we fear we do not possess. The Scripture calls every sinner who hears the Gospel to trust in Christ, however aggravated his guilt. All who hear are invited to take of the water of life freely, to draw near with a true heart, not merely with our mouth, not merely with our lips to honor God, while we have removed our hearts far from Him, and our fear towards Him is taught by the precept of men, Isaiah 29:13; but drawing near with true hearts deeply feeling the reverence and love which we profess, and in the full assurance of faith. Having no confidence in ourselves, but the most unlimited confidence in Christ, the fullest assurance of our acceptance in the Beloved. On this passage a very unsound observation is made by one who, in many respects, possessed just and scriptural views. He says, "This full assurance is not, as many conceive, an absolute certainty of a man's own particular salvation; for that is termed the full assurance of hope, chap6:11 , and arises from faith and its fruits: but the full assurance of faith is the assurance of that truth which is testified and proposed in the Gospel to all hearers of it in common, to be believed by them unto their salvation, and is also termed the full assurance of understanding. Colossians 2:2." We have already observed, that the full assurance of faith and of hope may be distinguished, but cannot be separated. It is the testimony of God that by trusting in Christ we shall be saved, and in order to the full assurance of faith and of hope nothing more is necessary than our receiving that truth. To mingle faith with its fruits in regard to our hope of salvation is utterly unscriptural. We are indeed commanded to examine ourselves whether we be in the faith, to prove our own selves. Thus we are guarded against self-deception, against saying we have faith, against an empty profession of knowing God while in works we deny Him. Faith gives us the answer of a good conscience, it purge our hearts from an evil conscience, by convincing us of the perfection of the work of Christ. On the night on which he believe the jailer rejoiced in God with all his house. The eunuch, having heard the Gospel, went on his way rejoicing. The only fruit they had to look to was their having been baptized, their professing the glorious truth which they had received. Let us ever keep faith and its fruits in their proper place. Faith receives Christ, and in him eternal salvation; fruits prove the faithfulness of Him who saves His people from their sins, and gives them the witness in themselves, by the change produced in them by their receiving the love of the truth.—We are accepted in the Beloved, and whether we owed five hundred pence or fifty, our sins are all cast into the depths of the sea.

Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience. There is an allusion here to the sprinkling under the law for the removal of ceremonial uncleanness; but such sprinkling only sanctified to the purifying of the flesh; but the blood of sprinkling, chap , removes guilt from the conscience and gives the believer confidence in approaching God.


Verse 23

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

On this Pierce says, "Our translators were doubtless in the wrong in joining the clause (and our bodies washed with pure water) to the end of , which most of the Greek Testaments I have seen make the beginning of5:23." See also Whitby, Macknight, and others.

This is evidently correct, and it is also plain that the Apostle here refers to baptism. The Apostle had been speaking of believers having their hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, or the consciousness of guilt being removed by the sacrifice offered upon Calvary, and themselves begotten to a lively hope of the resurrection of Christ. He then proceeds to the confession of their hope by being baptized. Our translators have said the profession of our faith, while the confession of our hope is in the margin; both meanings are good, in fact synonymous. "So many of us (says the Apostle) 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." Romans 6:3-4. The Apostle thus describes the Gospel which he preached. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. In baptism the believer in a figure goes down into the grave of Christ and is raised again. This represents his fellowship with Christ in His death and resurrection. We have observed that Christ was manifested to Israel by a figurative burial and resurrection, and that He says I have a baptism to be baptized with, referring to His actual burial and resurrection; now His people are commanded to go forth to Him without the camp bearing His reproach. They are, in a figure, to go down into and come up from His grave; thus expressing their hope of a glorious resurrection through their union with Him, and during the remainder of their life they are to hold fast the confession of their hope without wavering. Assured of the faithfulness of the promise on which God hath caused them to hope, Psalm 119:49, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise them up by Jesus. 2 Corinthians 4:14.


Verse 24

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

Let us consider.—This admonition shows the deep concern the disciples of Christ should feel in each other's welfare. They ought mutually to consider each other's welfare and circumstances, that they may provoke each other to love and good works, adapting their admonitions to the peculiar necessities of their brethren.


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.

The disciples of Jesus are commanded to assemble on the first day of the week, at once to commemorate the death and resurrection of Christ. That a leading object of believers meeting was to commemorate the death of Christ is manifest from 1 Corinthians 11:20, "When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord"s supper," and Acts 20:7, to "break bread;" but in times of persecution the disciples were laid under much temptation to forsake the assembling of themselves together. They might agree that they could pray and read the Scriptures at home, and no doubt there might be situations in which a believer might be justified in absenting himself. God has said, "I will have mercy and not sacrifice," but our love is apt to wax cold, and we are prone to neglect what only particular circumstances may warrant us to omit. We are not only to believe, but to confess Christ before men. "He that confesseth me before men," &c.— The violent prejudices of the Jews against the doctrines of Christ, and the affliction and persecution to which the believers were exposed in Judea, was much calculated to prevent the brethren from making a bold and open profession of the truth; and hence it appears that some had forsaken the assembling with their brethren, perhaps satisfying themselves by alleging that they worshipped Christ in secret. Such conduct, however, was calculated to prevent the progress of the Gospel. It was putting the light under a bushel, and improperly endeavouring to shun the reproach of the Cross. Yet some of the Hebrews acted thus. It was their custom or manner to absent themselves from the meetings of the brethren, thus neglecting a part of the will of Christ, which is at once a great means of impressing the truth upon our minds, by our observance of those ordinances in which it is embodied, and of diffusing the truth in the world by exhibiting it to our brethren of men.

But exhorting.—One great object of believers assembling themselves together is to exhort one another. We have ample directions on this subject in the Epistle to the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 14 : It is true, there is a special reference to the exercise of spiritual gifts, which have now ceased, but we are taught, by the abundant manner in which they were bestowed, that it is not the Lord"s will that His people should be exclusively instructed or edified by the elders or overseers, although this is a most important part of their office, and much conduces to the edification of the people of God; but that the brethren should from time to time also edify one another. Miraculous gifts were not bestowed on all: by which we are taught that all are not qualified to instruct and edify their brethren; but they were bestowed upon many for the benefit of the Church. And thus we are taught,—"As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth; that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, in whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:10-11. The Apostle expresses his confidence in his brethren in Rome,—"And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another." Romans 15:14. The same word is rendered exhort and comfort, for in admonishing each other the mutual exhortations of believers must be based on the glorious doctrines of the Gospel.

And so much the more...—This evidently refers to the destruction of Jerusalem, which had been foretold by the Lord with the greatest clearness. He described it as the coming of the Son of Prayer of Manasseh , Matthew 24:30; Matthew 24:37-39, which has been the occasion of the unscriptural tenet of the personal reign. It is called the "great and terrible day of the Lord," Joel 2:31, Acts 2:19-20. While, as we have seen it was foretold, Habakkuk 1:5-6, Acts 13:40-41, and its certainty confirmed in the most solemn manned by the Lord, Mark 13:31, there is one very striking circumstance connected with it, that, while Christ gives His disciples various tokens of its approach. He informs them that no Prayer of Manasseh , not the angels of heaven, knew of that day, but His Father only; and, what is still more remarkable, He says, "But of that day and that hour knoweth no Prayer of Manasseh , no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Song of Solomon , but the Father." Mark 13:32. How shall we reconcile this with Jesus knowing all things? John 21:17. Let us compare it with John 5:19,—"The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do;" and "I can of mine own self do nothing," John 5:30. Jesus came as the Father's servant: He spoke the words of God,—"I speak," said Hebrews , "to the world those things which I have heard of him," John 8:26. "As my Father hath taught me, I speak these things," John 8:28. "I speak that which I have seen with my Father," John 8:38. "The Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak," John 12:49. "Whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak," John 12:50. "The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself," John 14:10. Now, the day and the hour of the destruction of Jerusalem was a striking emblem of the end of the world, and the language in which it is described Isaiah , therefore, in many respects applicable to that event; and, as this was not a subject of Revelation ,, Hebrews , who was in the bosom of the Father, intimately acquainted with all His counsels, having taken on Him the form of a servant, could do or say nothing but what He was commanded. Hence He tells us that even the Son knew not of that day, Mark 13:32 : it had not been communicated to Him in his official character to be made known to His Church. In conclusion, we may observe that the prediction of our Lord to His Apostles, respecting the destruction of Jerusalem, is eminently practical to us in regard to the end of this world.


Verse 26

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

All sin is willful: no man can compel us to sin. There were, indeed, sins of ignorance under the law. A man might contract defilement without being aware, and when he became Song of Solomon , he offered the appointed sacrifice. Saul of Tarsus persecuted the saints in ignorance, but Peter denied his Lord deliberately. Here, it is evident, sinning willfully implies apostasy, rejecting the only available sacrifice for sin. It is connected with forsaking the assembling of themselves together, which might proceed either from the fear of Prayer of Manasseh , or from letting the truth slip, chap , and departing from the living God through an evil heart of unbelief, chap3:12. Forsaking the assembling of themselves together was a step in the direction of total apostasy. Now, if we apostatize from Christ rejecting His sacrifice, there remaineth no other sacrifice for sins. Under the law, there was no sacrifice for presumptuous sin, such as murder or blasphemy. Indeed, this could not have been the case, for, as the punishment of these sins was death, had a sacrifice for them been appointed, either the legal punishment could not have been inflicted, or the sacrifice must have been offered in vain. The Apostle, in a passage already considered, had given a very solemn caution against apostasy, chap6:1-6 , and here he repeats the warning.


Verse 27

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

Such is the case of the apostate, which is more fully described by the Apostle. 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 1:8-9. Such is the awful doom of those who have rejected the counsel of God against themselves, and especially of those who have apostatized. They draw back unto perdition.


Verse 28

He that despised Moses" law died without mercy under two or three witnesses.

The Apostle illustrates the subject by a reference to the law of Moses; he that despised Moses" law, such as Korah and his company, who despised what God had declared concerning the priesthood, which was limited to the family of Aaron, and determined to seize on it themselves, Numbers 16 :, or those who refused to go up against the Canaanites, and determined to make a captain and return to Egypt Numbers 14 , and Numbers 15:30. Two witnesses were necessary to prove guilt. Hence our Lord says, It is written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. Doubtless it may be false, as in the case of those suborned against Naboth; but it was to be held true, and sentence passed accordingly.


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?

The Gospel was far more glorious than the Mosaic dispensation; it bore to the law the relation of the sun to the moon, and consequently the guilt of those who rejected it, or apostatized from it, was far greater than that incurred by the breach of the law of Moses. The Israelites, indeed, like all mankind, were under the law to God, and they all received the deeds done in the body according to that they had done, whether good or bad; but the peculiar dispensation under which they were placed contained only temporal promises and temporal threatenings, Leviticus 26 :, Deuteronomy 28 : Everything was temporal and figurative. The life promised to obedience was a long life in the land of Canaan; the death threatened was the separation of soul and body. But the promises and threatenings of the Gospel are eternal; a life which shall never end is held out to believers, and the threatening is being cast off with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power as the portion of all who reject it. The rebellious Israelites only trod under foot the blood of calves and goats, with which the Sinai covenant was ratified; but the apostate from Christianity trod under foot the blood of the Son of God, and hath counted, &c. The blood of the covenant is that by which it was ratified. It may be a question whether the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified refers to Christ or to the apostate. The Lord says, "For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they may be sanctified through the truth." John 17:19. Again, believers are sanctified in Christ Jesus, 1 Corinthians 1:2, chap13:12 , but how can this be said of apostates? They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." 1 John 2:19. It is replied that the Scripture frequently speaks of things as they appear to be. Thus we read that Simon believed. Acts 8 : Apostates are said to have been once enlightened, and so they may be said to be sanctified. This seems to be the meaning of the passage; but, if we suppose it refers to Christ, we must refer it to His separation at once as the victim and as the priest. Every family in Israel was commanded to take a lamb without blemish on the fourteenth day of the month; it was to be kept till the fourteenth, and then to be killed in the evening. In exact correspondence with this law, Jesus, six days before the passover, came to Bethany, where Mary anointed His feet against his burying. John 12:1-7. Thus was He sanctified, or set apart as our passover.

Again, it has been already observed that the first part of the consecration of the priests was their being washed with water, accordingly when Jesus began to be about thirty years of age, (the time when the consecration of a priest took place in Israel,) He was baptized in Jordan. The next step in consecration was the anointing with oil, and when Jesus came out of the water the Holy Spirit descended on Him in a bodily shape. Still the consecration was not complete, and accordingly our Lord did not act as a priest during his abode upon earth. Chap. The last part of the consecration was the blood of the sin offering and the burnt offering, which completed the consecration, when the priest entered upon the duties of his office, and thus was our great High Priest consecrated, and having offered Himself without spot unto God, he ever liveth to make intercession for the true Israel. Thus the expression, the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified, may either apply to Christ or to him who professed the faith and afterwards apostatized, thus counting the blood of the covenant wherewith he appeared to be sanctified an unholy thing, and did despite to the Spirit of Grace by rejecting the testimony which he bore to Christ. This is the sin against the Holy Spirit, of which we elsewhere read. performed the most astonishing miracles: He cast out devils by the Spirit of God, but the Pharisees attributed this to the power of Satan, which led to the solemn caution given to them by the Lord, who informed them that all manner of sin and blasphemy should be forgiven to men; that a word spoken against the Son of man should be forgiven, but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost should not be forgiven. They might blaspheme the Lord Jesus, might condemn and crucify Him, vet pardon would be proclaimed to them through the blood which He had shed, and more abundant evidence given of His having come forth from God by the outpouring of the Spirit upon His disciples, bestowing on them the gift of tongues, of the cure of the sick, and raising the dead, but if they rejected the testimony of the Spirit, ascribing His miracles to the power of Satan, then it should not be forgiven them either In this world or in that which was to come. We have observed that the world to come was an expression employed by the Jews to denote the kingdom of Christ, and indeed is thus employed by the Apostle. Hebrews 2:5. The rejection of the Holy Spirit's testimony should be involved in all the miseries which befell the Jews previous to and in the destruction of Jerusalem, and should then have their portion in the lake of fire.

The Spirit is here termed the Spirit of Grace, because from Him proceedeth every good and perfect gift. He takes of the things of Christ and shows them to believers; by His grace and power they stand, holding fast the truth; and, finally, raises them from the dead.


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.

For we know him... This is a quotation from Deuteronomy 32:35. In this prophetic Song of Solomon , given out by Moses at the close of his ministry, the peculiar kindness of God toward his people Israel is celebrated, together with their ungrateful returns and the consequent vengeance which he would inflict upon them. Here, as elsewhere, He claimeth vengeance as His peculiar prerogative. We are not to avenge ourselves, Romans 12:19; and it appears that when Joseph's brethren, after their father's death, besought him to forgive them, the question he put, "Am I in the place of God?" Genesis 50:19, was intended to intimate that vengeance belongs to him alone. This prerogative, however, Isaiah , in a certain degree, delegated to the civil magistrate. "As the servant of God be is an avenger, to execute wrath on him that doeth evil." Romans 13:4.

In Israel he that despised Moses's law died without mercy; but no power is given to civil magistrates to punish irreligion; on the contrary, while we are commanded to be subject to every ordinance of men, to obey magistrates, and taught that in resisting "the power we resist the ordinance of God," the Lord expressly prohibits our acknowledging any civil authority in religion. Here we have but one Master, even Christ. Matthew 23:8-10. This is repeated in order to enforce it more powerfully, and thus a broad line of distinction is drawn between civil and religious obedience. The former we are commanded to render, under pain of the vengeance which God has delegated to the civil magistrate; the latter is absolutely prohibited. In Christ's kingdom He is the blessed and only potentate. It is the duty of believers to warn and to admonish each other, and the highest penalty which they are authorized to inflict for false doctrine, or a violation of the laws of Christ, is to turn away from the offender. "My kingdom," says Christ, " is not of this world," and therefore he commits to his servants no carnal weapons.

And again the Lord shall judge his people; the word judge is ambiguous, it signifies either to plead the cause of his people by delivering or defending them, Psalm 43:1, or taking vengeance on the disobedient, Genesis 15:14, 2 Chronicles 20:12, Ezekiel 7:3. From the connexion, the words quoted by the Apostle appear to bear the former sense: "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." As applied in the passage before us they refer to the punishment of apostates: "Vengeance belongeth to me, I will recompense saith the Lord and again, "The Lord will judge his people." Perhaps the lesson inculcated by the Apostle Isaiah , that while sin is that bitter thing which God's soul hateth, Hebrews , to whom vengeance belongeth, will visit with stripes the shortcomings of His people; but although He cause grief yet He will have compassion, according to the multitude of His mercies. Lamentations 3:32.


Verse 31

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

It is a fearful thing. God is called the living God, which gives peculiar force to the language of the Apostle. If we fall into the hands of an enemy we may cherish the hope that he may be removed, or that we may make our escape; but no such hope can visit those who fall into the hands of the living God, in whom we live and move and have our being, in whose hand is our breath and whose are all our ways. He executed terrible vengeance on the nations of old. He drowned Pharaoh and his hosts in the Red Sea—He blotted out the name of Amalek from under heaven—He destroyed the seven nations of Canaan. Where are now the Philistines, the Moabites, and Ammonites? Where is the proud Assyrian! Where is Babylon the great? They have all perished. But what is all this when compared with the worm which never dies, the fire which never shall be quenched? There has mercy been mingled with every temporal judgment, however severe; but those who have professed the faith and drawn back into perdition, have thus trodden under foot the Son of God, have rejected His propitiatory sacrifice and blasphemed the Holy Spirit, shall drink abundantly the wine of the wrath of God poured out into the cup of His indignation for ever and ever, To such His mercy is clean gone for ever, and He will be favorable no more. We read that all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of Korah and his company when the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up, and all that appertained to them; but what was this in comparison of being cast into the bottomless pit, into that place where hope can never enter?


Verse 32

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

Knowing the terrors of the Lord, the Apostle persuaded men, yet for love's sake he preferred beseeching them, and hence we find with what wisdom he mingles the most alarming warnings with the most affectionate recollections. We have a very striking example of this in the passage before us. A most awful description had been given of the doom of apostates. There were, perhaps, others approaching the brink of the precipice, and, as a nurse cherisheth her children, the Apostle recalls to their minds the trials they had gone through. He remembered the kindness of their youth, the love of their espousals, when after they were illuminated, when the Sun of Righteousness had arisen upon them with healing in his wings, they had endured a great fight of afflictions; they had braved persecution, and had not been moved by their afflictions.


Verse 33

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

These consisted, partly, in their being made a gazing-stock by the reproaches cast upon them, and the various afflictions which they had passed through in their own persons; and, partly, while they became companions of them that were so used, not forsaking their brethren, but giving them their countenance and sympathy.


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.—Paul was in bonds in Jerusalem for the sake of Christ, Acts 21:23, and they had not been ashamed of his chain, although their compassion for him exposed them to having their goods spoiled. This, however, did not discourage them; "they took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing," &c. They remembered the Lord's words, how He said, "And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life." Matthew 19:29. They obeyed His commands, who said, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal." Matthew 6:19-20.


Verse 35

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

Cast not away...—In all their trials they had been supported by the assured hope of the joy set before them, but he that endureth to the end shall be saved; therefore, He warns them not to cast away their confidence, which would issue in a great reward. Their sufferings were not worthy to be compared with the glory which should be revealed in them, Romans 8:18. The Apostle appears to glance at what our Lord said for the support of His people under their afflictions for His sake, "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven." Matthew 5:12.


Verse 36

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

They had, however, need of patience. In the world they must have tribulation: they were appointed thereto. They must suffer with Christ here, in order that they might reign with Him hereafter. The Lord would lead them in the right way, only let them hold fast the faith, and not be moved away from the hope of the Gospel. The promise of eternal glory would make rich amends for their present light afflictions.


Verse 37

For yet a little while, end he that shall come will come, and will mot tarry.

For yet a little while.—The prophecy of Habakkuk , from which this quotation is taken, had foretold the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, Habakkuk 1:5-6, and the Apostle applies the words of the prophet to the destruction of the city by the Romans , Acts 13:40-41. This was doubtless the chief event foretold, although it had what may be termed a preliminary fulfilment in the destruction of the city by the King of Babylon; just as the Lord, being brought from Egypt, was the fulfilment of Hosea 11:1, although it had a previous fulfilment in Israel being brought from the bondage of Egypt. In the passage before us, the Apostle refers to the language of the same prophet, "He that shall come will come, and will not tarry." The great promise of the Old Testament is the coming of Christ in the flesh. This supported the minds of God's people from Adam to Christ. The great promise of the New Testament is the coming of Christ to judgment. All believers are represented as waiting for Him. This is the great and terrible day of the Lord, when He shall judge the world in righteousness, receiving His people into everlasting mansions, and punishing the wicked with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of His power.

While His coming to judgment is the great day of His coming, He is represented as coming both in the way of mercy to His people, and of judgment upon His enemies. He promised to come to His disciples, John 14:18, and He fulfilled the promise, not by His personal presence, which they only enjoyed forty days, but by coming in the power of His Spirit, the Comforter who abides in the Church for ever, John 14:16, and without whom the Church of Christ could not subsist. On one occasion the Lord informed His disciples that some were standing there who should not taste of death till they saw the Son of man coming in His kingdom, Matthew 16:28, which was fulfilled in the rapid progress of the Gospel. Again, He describes the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory, Matthew 24:40, evidently referring to His coming to destroy Jerusalem, for He adds, "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." Matthew 24:34.

The passage under consideration appears especially to refer to the Lord's coming to destroy the city, which was soon to take place, and would be connected with a partial deliverance from the persecution of the disciples.


Verse 38

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

For the just, by faith, shall live—This passage is frequently quoted in the New Testament and points out the way of our acceptance with God. Galatians 2:11. "The just shall live by faith." has much the same meaning, although the former is nearer to the order of words in the original. The Hebrews were called to remember the coming of the Lord was at hand. He had warned the disciples of the awful destruction of Jerusalem, and it was now at hand, and the vengeance He would then inflict on the inhabitants was an emblem of the destruction of the wicked. The Lord had also mentioned the signs that should precede the desolation of Jerusalem, by the observance of which His disciples might escape the impending danger. Their safety would depend on their attention to those signs, and their readiness to abandon all. If they let slip the warnings He delivered, or ceased to observe what was taking place, they would be involved in the destruction of the wicked.

Our translators have introduced the words "any Prayer of Manasseh ," but this is unauthorized. I object probably was to prevent the passage being employed in opposition to the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. But this doctrine is explicitly stated in the Word of God, and is not affected by the passage before us: Men go out from the disciples, because they were not of them, 1 John 2:19. We are here warned that he who endureth to the end shall be saved, which is the uniform doctrine of the Word of God. Let a man profess what he pleases, if he draw back, God's soul shall have no pleasure in him.

The passage quoted by the Apostle is Habakkuk 2:4,—"Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in Him: but the just shall live by his faith." Here faith is opposed to high-mindedness, which is directly contrary to faith. The believer has no confidence in the flesh, but rejoices in Christ Jesus. He rests wholly on Christ; he feels he has no strength; he lives out of himself: all which are directly contrary to high-mindedness. God knoweth the proud afar off, and has said his foot shall slip in due time.


Verse 39

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

This sufficiently shows that the supplement, any Prayer of Manasseh , in the former verse, is unnecessary.

"The just shall live by faith: but if," says the Apostle, "he draw back, my soul shall have pleasure no in him. But we are not of those that draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe," &c. He was "confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ," Philippians 1:6. Faith is the gift of God, and the gifts and calling of God are without repentance: He does not forsake the work of His hands. 1 Samuel 12:22. The Apostle's words, however, do not imply that none of those whom he addresses should draw back, but he expresses his confidence in them as formerly, Hebrews 6. He speaks of all believers, "They are not of those who draw back unto perdition: but of them that believe to the saving of the soul; literally, "But of faith to the salvation of the soul." There are, no doubt, apostates who promised fair; but man only looks on the outward appearance, God searcheth the heart; and when the heart is right with God and we, under a habitual sense of weakness have fled to Christ, and are living by faith in Jesus, our path shall be as the shining light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

 


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Bibliography Information
Haldane, Robert. "Commentary on Hebrews 10:4". "Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans and Hebrews". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hal/hebrews-10.html. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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