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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Hebrews 10

 

 

Verses 1-4

V

The perpetually repeated expiations of the old covenant attest their impotence for any real taking away of sin

Hebrews 10:1-4

1For the law having a shadow of [the] good things to come, and [om. and] not the very image of the things, Song of Solomon 1never with those [the same] sacrifices, which[FN2] they offered [offer, προσφέρουσιν] year by year continually, make the comers thereunto perfect 2 For then would they not[FN3] have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged[FN4] [having once for all been cleansed] should [would] have had no more conscience [or consciousness] of sins 3 But in those sacrifices [in them] there is a remembrance 4 again made [om. made] of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin.

[ Hebrews 10:1—Σκιὰν γὰρ ἔχων, for a shadow the law having, etc. The emphasis of the Greek order of words can hardly be reached in English.—κατ’ ἐνιαυτόν, annually, year by year, is difficult as to position. Ebr, Hofm, Del, Alf. connect with οὐδέποτε δύναται; Calv, Bl. De W, etc., with προσφέρουσιν. The former seems the easier, and, though harsh in construction, very forcible, “year by year with the same sacrifices, etc., can never.” But see below.—ἂς προσφέρουσιν, which they offer, not as Eng. ver. offered, the figure of the present time having been kept up from the preceding chapter, and especially as the old covenant sacrifices did undoubtedly still continue. Still, that the writer’s mind is mainly on the past, is shown by the Aor. ἐπαύσαντο, for which, if he had distinct reference to the present time, the Imperf. ἐπαύοντο should be used.

Hebrews 10:2.—ἐπεί, since, viz: in that case, Romans 3:6; 1 Corinthians 15:29—συνείδησιν, consciousness=moral consciousness, conscience.—ἅπαξ κεκαθ., having been once for all cleansed.

Hebrews 10:3.—ἐν αὐταῖς, in them; the addition of the Eng. ver. is unnecessary.—ἀνάμνησις, a calling to mind, remembrance.—κατ’ ἐνιαυτόν, year by year.

Hebrews 10:4.—ἀδύνατον γάρ, for it is impossible, Hebrews 6:4.—K.].

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Hebrews 10:1.Image.—Εἰκών is not the essence itself (Peshito, Luth, Grot, Justiniani, etc.); nor the primitive form of the original (Stengel) which is then explained as the substantial essence of the things; nor merely the finished picture in contrast with the slight and shadowy outline (Chrys, Theodoret, etc.); but the living historical form, in which the invisible essence finds its representation.

Can never, etc.—The προσφέροντες are the priests, the προσερχόμενοι are the members of the congregation to whom the offering belongs. Κατ’ ἐνιαυτόν is connected by Ebr, Hofm, Del, Alf, with οὐδέποτε δύναται, by Calv, Bl, De W, etc., with ἂς προσφέρ. by most intpp. with ταῖς αὐταῖς θυσίαις=the same year by year, or annual offerings. Hofm. also connects, with Paulus and Lachm, εἰς τὸ διηνεκές with τελειῶσαι, and further makes the προσερχόμενοι the subject of προσφέρ. We should thus have the statement that the individual members of the congregation, by the fact of their continuing throughout the year to bring offerings for themselves, and these of the same kind as those brought by the high-priests, viz.: animal offerings, furnished a practical proof of the insufficiency of the law, and of the expiatory offerings ordained by the law, and annually offered by the high-priest in behalf of the whole congregation, to produce any real and permanent perfection. In favor of this we may indeed be pointed to the like connection, τελειοῦν εἰς τὸ διηνεκές Hebrews 10:14, and to the sharp contrast of this idea “perfecting in perpetuum” with the οὐδέποτε; but, on the other hand, we may urge with Bleek, and others the tameness of the relative clause, ἃς προσφέρουσιν when standing without εἰς τὸ διην., and the forcible suggestion of Tholuck, that the very combination κατ’ ἐνιαυτὸν τανς αὐταῖς θυσίαις εἰς τὸ διηνηκές, in connection with the οὐδέποτε, presents, as in a vivid picture, an endlessly recurring round of painful and unavailing ceremonies (as at Hebrews 10:11). The individual expressions will not aid in solving the problem. Εἰς τὸ διηνεκ́ς (an Ionic form for the Attic διανεκές, which found its way into familiar use) harmonizes well with the idea that the offering of sacrifices, under the dominion and in accordance with the purposes of the law, continues on indefinitely and endlessly into the future—a point unsuccessfully combated by Hofmann. Nor again does the word λατρεύειν, Hebrews 10:2, necessitate our adoption of Hofmann’s view; for though we grant, indeed, that the term here denotes no priestly function, (as Este, etc.), but refers to the service of the private members of the congregation; yet this service again does not here as at Hebrews 9:9, refer to the offering of gifts and sacrifices, but to the general religious worship of the congregation who, by means of priestly offerings, were drawing near to God. On the other hand, we must concede (comp. Hebrews 11:4; Hebrews 11:17, with Sept, at Numbers 31:50) that the statement of Del, that προσφέρειν, in our Epistle, denotes exclusively an official and priestly offering, must be accepted with limitation. The decision then of the question turns upon this. The author is assigning the ground for the declaration, made but a little before, of Christ’s having entered, once for all, with His high-priestly offering of Himself into the heavenly holy of holies. He finds this ground in the utter inefficacy of the annually recurring expiatory sacrifices of the Levitical high-priest, which were ordained by the law, and which were of ever unvarying quality, and which had, therefore, but one significance in their bearing on the establishment of the New Covenant, which was at once promised and typified in the old. The law, in consequence of its peculiar nature—a nature inseparable from its purpose and destination—has not the power, by its annually recurring and prescribed expiatory offerings, to secure for the congregation perfection, i.e., that substantial and abiding purification which brings them into relationship with God. Could such have been the effect of these offerings on the congregation, the annual sin-offerings, and with these the Old Covenant itself would have ceased, and been done away; there would have been such a removal and doing away of the sense of guilt, as could take place only on the basis of completely satisfactory, and hence final and unrepeated sacrifice. This view of Hofm. thus becomes, in every way, improbable. It is discountenanced alike by the fact that even in the New Covenant the individual members of the church may not cease to seek, on the basis of the expiation once for all accomplished by Christ, individual reconciliation and continued forgiveness of their sins, and also that even in the Old Covenant the continued service and offerings of individuals were no less studiously and explicitly enjoined than the annual sin-offering of the high-priest.

Hebrews 10:2.—For otherwise would they not have ceased, etc.—If we omit the οὐκ, the sentence must be taken as an affirmation; the better reading with οὐκ makes it interrogative. The construction of παύεσθαι, with the Particip, is entirely classical. Hofm. refers ἀλλά to the main negative statement of Hebrews 10:1, and translates, by “sondern,” making it simply the counterpart of that negative statement (viz: cannot make perfect, but, instead of that, there is a remembrance). But it is more natural to refer it to Hebrews 10:2 as=on the contrary. Ἀνάμνησις might mean (with Vulg, Calov, and others) commemoration, or (as Schlicht. Grot, Beng, etc.) commemoratio publica, in allusion to the three penitential acknowledgments of the high-priest on the day of atonement. But the common signification in memoriam revocatio is to be preferred as the more comprehensive. Del. has given in full the three penitential prayers in his history of Heb. poesy, p186 ff. Συνείδησις ἁμαρτ. is not the consciousness of sin in general, but that which brings back upon the man the personal criminality, responsibility, and punishableness involved in his sins. Com. Güder. (Stud. und Krit., 1857 II:279 ff. Inquiry into the Scriptural Doctrine of Conscience).

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The heavenly good things are even to Christians still in the future; but because, and from the time when, Christ appeared as high-priest of those good things ( Hebrews 9:11), we are brought into actual fellowship with them, and we have, as already tasting ( Hebrews 6:5) the powers of the world to come, the pledge and the assurance that we shall yet, as children of God entitled to their inheritance, enter into their full possession. The Gospel renders possible not merely a clear and sharp expression of them, but also the formation of heavenly relations upon earth; the introduction and setting forth, the use and enjoyment of the heavenly good things even in the world, of which the law was able to furnish only an unsubstantial and shadowy image. “Christ stands, as it were, in the meridian light of the great day of time, and casts His shadow backwards over the whole Old Covenant. But as the shadow is seen only in the light, and comes out all the more clearly and sharply in proportion to the brightness of the light, so it is only in the light of the New Covenant that we recognize clearly the typical character of the old.” (Bisping).

2. With the certainty of an atonement actually accomplished, and truly acknowledged of God, comes a completed transformation of the moral and religious conscience and consciousness of man. No longer is this consciousness filled with sin and with the fear of righteous punishment, under the sense of unremoved guilt; but it enjoys reconciliation in consequence of the forgiveness of sin wrought through grace, and by virtue of an atonement. The subjects of this reconciliation, inasmuch as they are not yet brought to a state of perfection, need, it is true, the continuous appropriation of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, and of its influences; but inasmuch as they have been, once for all, brought into the new relation of salvation and peace with God, they have no need of the successive repetitions of that sacrifice. In fact, the repetition of the sin-offering shows, that it does not accomplish that which it signifies; that it is thus not the true sin-offering, as the animal sacrifices in pagan religions show indeed the need of an atonement, but are inadequate to the satisfaction of that need.

3. The idea of the sacrifice in the mass, as a bloodless repetition of the bloody sacrifice on the cross, is entirely irreconcilable with this passage of Scripture, which lays its emphasis upon the fact that the repetition of the atoning sacrifice points back to its objective insufficiency, which would thus only strengthen and deepen our longing after that perfect and effectual expiatory system which the old economy only prefigured and paved the way for.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The actual deliverance of the conscience from the stain and burden of sin, is accomplished neither through human services, nor through legal sacrifices, but only through the blood of Jesus Christ.—The connection between the service of God, approach to God, and human perfection.—The pain and the blessing of a remembrance of sin.—The means for the purification of the conscience in our religious services.

Starke:—All religious service must tend to this end, viz., the perfection of man.—The forgiveness of sin takes away all guilt and punishment, but not the root and entire stain of sin.—Conscience accuses and bears testimony that we are ever, repeatedly, sinning and needing forgiveness.—Alike the days of feasting, of fasting and of prayer, ordained by Christianity, serve for a memorial of the Divine benefits and of our sins.

Rieger:—Even the shadowy outline given by the law, is to be regarded as a great benefaction on the part of God.—The purification of the conscience is an inestimable good.

Menken:—So long as man does not possess the offering itself, but only a shadow of it, so long he must fail of true reconciliation. A shadow can never give that which lies only in the substance.

Heubner:—How great was the veneration of the Jews for the shadow! Do Christians hold in equal veneration the truth and reality?—What the blood of animals could not, the blood of Christ could effect.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Hebrews 10:1.—The meaningless Plur. δύνανται in Sin. A. C. D**. and many minusc. is to be regarded as a clerical error. In order to explain it Lachm. put a point after πραγμάτων, and omitted in his small ed. the relative before προσφέρ. with A, 2, 7*, 17, 47, while A*. 31, Philox. introduce αἵ before οὐδέποτε. The Sing. is found in D*. D***. E. K. L. and many minusc, also Vulg. Itala. Copt.

FN#2 - Hebrews 10:1.—Instead of ἅς Bl, Tisch, Alf, read (after Sin. D*. L. (?) N. Lat. ver. before D. and E, also minusc73,173) αἴς, which, however, might have easily sprung from the endings of the three immediately preceding words.

FN#3 - Hebrews 10:2.—For ἐπεὶ ἄν all authorities require the reading ἐπεὶ οὐκ ἄν.

FN#4 - Hebrews 10:2.—The reading κεκαθαρισμένους deserves the preference, as is also indicated by the reading κεκαθερισμένους in A. and C, (whether this orthography be a mere blunder in copying, or more probably, a conformity of the spelling to a careless pronunciation.)


Verses 5-18

VI

Scriptural proof of the complete efficacy of the sanctification obtained on the basis of the obedience of Jesus Christ

Hebrews 10:5-18

5Wherefore, when he cometh [while coming, εἰσερχόμενος] into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared [didst thou form for, χατηρτίσω] me: 6In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no7[hadst not] pleasure[FN5] Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God 8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering [sacrifices and offerings][FN6] and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by [according to] the[FN7] law; 9Then said he [he said], Lo, I come to do thy will, O God [om. O God].[FN8] He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second 10 By the which [In which] will we are [have been] sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11And every priest[FN9] [indeed, μέν] standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12But this man [one][FN10] after he had offered one sacrificefor sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God; 13From henceforth expecting14[awaiting] till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected 15 for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof [And, δέ] the Holy Ghost also Isaiah 16 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, 17and in [upon] their minds [understanding][FN11] will I write [inscribe, ἐπιγράψω] them; And 18 their sins and their iniquities will I remember[FN12] no more. Now [But] where remission of these Isaiah, there is no more [an] offering for sin.

[ Hebrews 10:5.—εἰσερχόμενος, while coming into, i. e., historically, not specially at his birth; but not εἰσελθών, on entering, or, after entering.—κατηρτίσω, didst thou frame, fit out, perfect.

Hebrews 10:6.—περὶ ἁμαρτίας, offerings for sin.

Hebrews 10:7.—τοῦ ποιῆσαι, denoting purpose, i.e, in order to do.

Hebrews 10:8.—ἀνώτερον λέγων, above, further back, while saying.—αἵτινες, characteristic; such as are.—προσφέρονται, are offered, not, “were offered.”

Hebrews 10:9.—εἴρηκεν, he hath said ( Hebrews 1:13; Hebrews 4:3).

Hebrews 10:10.—ἐν θελήματι, in which will, not by which will. ἡγιασμένοι ἐσμέν, we have been sanctified; a completed act. We are sanctified might be that which habitually takes place, which would require ἁγιαζόμεθα.

Hebrews 10:11.—πᾶς μὲν ἱερεύς, every priest indeed=while every priest.

Hebrews 10:12.—οὗτος δέ, but this one, but he. Tisch. reads αὐτὸς δέ, but he himself, but against preponderating authority, including that of Sin.—προσενέγκας, after offering.

Hebrews 10:13.—τὸ λοιπόν, as to the rest, in future=τοῦ λοιποῦ scil. χρόνον, for the remaining time.—ἕως, with subj. τεθῶσιν., for the more classical ἕως ἂν τεθῶσιν—τοὺς ἁγιαζομένους, those who are being sanctified, or who are sanctified from time to time, τοὺς ἥι ιασμένους, would be those who have been sanctified.

Hebrews 10:15.—μαρτυρεῖ δὲ ἡμῖν καί, and testifies for us also.

Heb 10:16.—ἐπιγράψω, I will inscribe.

Hebrews 10:17.—καὶ-μνησθήσομαι, Alf, dissenting from nearly all the recent comm, makes the apodosis of the citation commence here instead of with λέγει κύριος, Hebrews 10:16; but although there are objections to the latter, the difficulties of his construction, I think, are still greater; and the examples of the use of καί which he cites as justifying this construction ( Hebrews 1:6; Hebrews 2:13; Hebrews 4:5) present really no analogy to it.—K.].

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Hebrews 10:5. Therefore while entering into the world, etc.—The διό refers to the impossibility spoken of in Hebrews 10:4. The author is not adducing a proof of a doctrine perfectly evident and unquestioned; nor is he here—not until a little after—showing that even in the Old Covenant itself is expressed the consciousness of this state of things. He adduces, it is true, the words of Psalm 40:7-9, in which David, after his anointing, but before ascending the throne, recognizes a relative fulfilment of the prophecy, that “the Prince is to spring forth from Judah,” and declares that Hebrews, in contrast with Saul, is ready, under the guidance of Samuel ( 1 Samuel 15:22), to accomplish the will of Jehovah, which lays stress, not on ritual sacrifices, but upon the offering of obedience, and the sacrifice of the will. But the form of the application is not that of citation; for the subject of λέγει is not David but Christ. And besides, since the present ἐρχόμενος is not=venturus (Erasm.), but is coincident in time with λέγει, the author clearly treats the words of the Psalm, not as a direct prophecy of Christ regarding himself. He rather puts into the mouth of Christ, on the basis of the typical relation of the Old and New Covenant, the words of David as his own, since they are fulfilled by him; and his special purpose is to render prominent the self-moved and voluntary act of the antitypal David in his entrance into the world for the sake of offering himself as an all-sufficient expiatory offering. As the part, is not εἰσελθών, we can refer it neither to the later entrance of Jesus on His public ministry (Bl, De W.), nor to the age of conscious choice and volition in Prayer of Manasseh, indicated Isaiah 7:16 (Del.).

But a body didst thou form for me.—The Heb. text has: “Ears didst thou bore for me.” This is referred by Hengst, von Gerl, and others, with the ancient intpp. (who also translate erroneously “bore through, perforate”) to the custom mentioned Exodus 21:6; Deuteronomy 15:17, of boring through the ear-lap of a servant who might become free, but preferred to remain in the voluntary and permanent service of his master. But we should rather refer the expression to our capacity of understanding by means of the ear, the expressed will of God, and thus of learning the way and means of acceptable sacrifice. Any arbitrary change of the text may not be charged upon our author. He found the reading σῶμα in the MSS. of the Sept, of which but few and inconsiderable ones have ὠτία or ὦτα, Bl, Lün, and others, assume that σῶμα is an old corruption in the text, sprung from ἠθέλησα ΣΩΤΙΑ. But neither is כָּרִיתָ literally rendered by ὤρυξας. We must, therefore, suppose a generalizing of the thought as early as the Greek translation, and the more so as the further rendering ἐν κεφαλίδι βιβλίου γέγραπται περὶ ἐμοῦ, favored the supposition that the one who is speaking here is He of whom Moses and the prophets testified, and for whose divinely decreed coming the Old Testament had prepared the way (Del.). Κεφαλίς=little head is originally the name of the knobs at the end of the staves about which the scroll or volume was wound, and then the volume itself, with or without the addition of βιβλίον, Ezekiel 2:9; Ezekiel 3:1-3; Ezra 6:2. Luther renders the word by chiefly, pre-eminently, inasmuch as some took it as=chief part or portion. Others translate “in the beginning,” as if having reference to a definite passage. In the Hebr. text the language is: “I come with the volume of the book which is written of me,” referring to the Prince’s code, Deuteronomy 17:14 ff, which the sovereign was always to keep at hand for his guidance. In the Heb. and in the Sept, the words “to do Thy will, O God,” are followed by, it was my pleasure, ἠβουλήθην. In dropping this word, our author throws the clause ἐν κεφαλίδι—ἐμοῦ into parenthesis, and makes τοῦ ποιῆσαι dependent on ἥκω, which Thol. takes in its classical use as Perf, I am come, I am present Εὐδοκεῖν takes in the classics the Dat, but in Hellenistic Gr. ἐν ( Hebrews 10:38) or frequently, as here, Hebrews 10:6, the Acc. Also Leviticus 7:37; Numbers 8:8, the Sept. designates the sin offering by the bare περὶ ἁμαρτίας, the idea of sacrifice being supplied from the connection (Œc, Lün.).

Hebrews 10:10. In which will, etc—θέλημα is not the will and obedience of Christ (Calv, Justinian, Carpz, and others), but the purpose and counsel of God, which is to be regarded as a purpose of love conceived in eternity, carried out in time by means of the freewill offering of Christ, and in the Holy Scripture is to be recognized as an openly revealed plan. Ἐφάπαξ belongs not to προσφοράς (Œc, Schlicht, Stein, etc.), which construction would have required a repetition of the art, but to ἡγιασμένοι ἐσμέν, which expresses not one subjective sanctification, but one objective reception into true relationship to God, and into the actual fellowship of the members of the people of God as the ἅγιοι, Hebrews 6:10; Hebrews 13:24. The mediator of this relation is Christ, ἁγιάζων, Hebrews 2:11.

Hebrews 10:11. And while every priest, indeed, standeth, etc.—The καί introduces a new antithesis—to wit: that between the never-ceasing, yet ever-ineffectual and unavailing service of the Jewish priests, and the regal repose of the Messiah, who, after accomplishing an expiation of never-failing efficacy, exalted above the need of further sacrifice, sits enthroned at the right hand of God. In the inner forecourt none was permitted to sit; it was only to those who held watch without that this privilege was accorded, while the designation of the Levitical service by the words, “and he stood before the face of Jehovah,” is to be taken in its literal sense. A like contrast is expressed Hebrews 1:13 ff. in relation to the angels. Περιελεῖν, to take away round about, from every side, refers to the sin which begirts and encompasses Prayer of Manasseh, Hebrews 5:2; Hebrews 12:1. Τὸ λοιπόν is the time still remaining until the Parousia. The parallelism of the clauses, and the progress of the thought, require our taking εἰς τὸ διηνεκές, Hebrews 10:12, not with the participial clause (Theophyl, Luth, Beng, Böhme, Lachm, etc.), but with ἐκάθισεν. The ἐφάπαξ of Christ’s offering is the burden and crown of the thought, Hebrews 10:1-10; in Hebrews 10:11-14 the ever-during throne after a once forever completed sacrifice, occupies the foreground (Del.). The Perf. τετελείωκν in connection with the Pres. Part. ἀγιαζομένους, shows that here the reference is not to the subjective perfection of Christians reaching the end of life, and kept after the example of Jesus, by obedience in suffering ( Hebrews 5:9; Hebrews 12:2); but to the translation of those who have become subjects of the high-priestly work of Christ, into that condition of perfection objectively and eternally valid in the sight of God, which the law, with its numerous and perpetually recurring rites and offerings, was unable to secure ( Hebrews 7:19; Hebrews 9:9; Hebrews 10:1). The Scripture proof consists in a selection from the passage, Jeremiah 31:31-34, already cited Hebrews 8:8-12.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The fact that the words of David, which, within the Old Testament itself, express not the legal, but the evangelical idea of sacrifice, are put into the mouth of Christ, as spoken on His entrance into the world, shows Christ in self-conscious pre-existence, destining Himself to be a free-will offering in perfect obedience to the will of the Father, whose will thus becomes identical with that of the Son.

2. The fact, still further, that even in the Old Testament obedience is put in place of animal sacrifices, and thus this also is declared to be a sacrifice, and, indeed, the true sacrifice, furnishes the Scripture proof of the doctrine, that Christ’s voluntary offering of Himself in perfect and loving obedience, is the genuine sacrifice, well pleasing to God, to which prophecies and types point.

3. In the fact, finally, that Christ’s offering of Himself has fulfilled the saving and loving will of God, not merely as expressed in Scripture, but as existing in His determinate counsel, the idea of sacrifice is realized; the purpose of God to institute an economy of salvation, based upon the expiation of sins by an efficacious sacrifice, is attained; and hence there is no further offering for sin, either, in the same, or any different form, as evinced also by the express testimony of the Holy Spirit in Jeremiah.

4. When God places His will—to wit: the performance, by His servants, of that which He wills, positively as a second requisition, it appears in contrast with the first, viz., the offering of external and symbolical sacrifices. But the offering of such sacrifices was itself a matter of express divine ordination; and thus a contradiction seems to emerge and an antagonism within the sphere of the divine counsels and purposes themselves. In truth, however, there is no contradiction between the two, but simply a taking away of the earlier system of the divine appointment first, and its replacement by the second. The transitory nature of the first is not merely prefigured by the symbolical character of the legal sacrifices themselves, but expressly declared within the very limits of the Old Testament Revelation, partly by statements regarding the essential will of God, partly by the prediction of a new and perfect covenant. But in a merely outward offering God has never had pleasure. The fact of its being brought from the property of the worshipper, always had a reference to his personality and will. But even the voluntary offering of things stands in no equal or parallel relation to the entire person’s voluntary sacrifice of himself. Thus the Old Testament utterances are, as to the matter of fact, in no way self-contradictory.

5. Our transference into a true saving and peace-imparting fellowship with God, or our objective sanctification is brought about by the personal offering of Jesus Christ upon the cross ( Ephesians 5:2); which offering is the fulfilment of the essential will and eternal saving purpose of God, and has once for all accomplished what was only shadowed forth by those typical sacrifices which year by year were offered by the priests who ministered before God, always the same, and of such quality that their impotence completely to take away sin was everywhere conspicuous.

6. The waiting of the Royal Priest, who is enthroned at the right hand of God, for the complete subjection of all His enemies, does not involve the idea of His personal inactivity until the time of His second coming, but expresses, in contrast with that activity of the earthly priests which never attains to its end, the exalted repose of the Mediator, who, in every relation, has reached the goal of perfection; who, after bringing to actual realization the ideal of propitiation which was typically announced in the Aaronic high-priesthood, now receives forever the position typically predicted in the royal priesthood of Melchisedek, a position exempted from future sacrifices, and fraught with unlimited homage, honor, and capacity for the bestowment of blessings.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The efficient cause of our salvation is the eternal gracious will of God; the meritorious cause is Jesus Christ with His personal sacrifice.—No creature had power to reconcile the world with God; but the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ has rendered possible a perfect taking away of sin, and a perfection of the sanctified.—We have nothing to fear from any hidden purpose of God; we should rather regulate ourselves and all things according to His revealed will.—In Jesus Christ’s offering of Himself for our redemption is evinced the perfect harmony of the righteous and the gracious will of God.—The cross is the altar on which Christ has offered, once for all, His blood for atonement, and His body for sanctification.—Obedience to the will of God not merely gives value to the sacrifice we bring, but is itself the best sacrifice.—How can the offering of sacrifices work the forgiveness of sin?

Starke:—Sin must be, in the eyes of God, an evil overwhelmingly great, since by no other means, whether work, obedience, or sacrifice, can it be atoned for and done away, but only by the all-holy sacrifice of Christ, 1 Peter 1:19; 1 John 1:18.—Jesus Christ is the only object revealed in the entire Scriptures to whom they can be pointed who would obtain forgiveness of sins and eternal blessedness, Acts 10:43.—The myriad sacrifices of the Old Testament could not have been, in the slightest degree, acceptable to God, except so far as they prefigured the perfect propitiatory offering of the Messiah, an offering of which He had long before smelled the sweet odor, Ephesians 5:2.—See how willingly thy Jesus suffered for thee; shouldest thou then not again somewhat willingly suffer for Him? John 18:4; 1 Peter 2:21.—No worship of God can be acceptable to God otherwise than in Christ.—The Divine service of the Old Testament was burdensome and oppressive; we cannot sufficiently thank God, that in Christ we are free from it. He who now will not serve God shall have all the less excuse, and heavier condemnation, Galatians 5:1.—We are under obligation to serve God every day, and can never serve Him sufficiently, Luke 17:10; Revelation 7:15.—He who suffers with Christ, and conquers in Christ, will, with Christ, be gloriously exalted, 2 Timothy 2:11-12; Revelation 3:21.—We may bid defiance to our enemies; in Christ shall we triumph; but they shall be overthrown and lie prostrate, Romans 8:34 ff.—Thou puttest faith in a trustworthy man; it were a shame not to believe the true God Himself, who has testified that the sacrifice of Christ alone suffices for our sins, 1 John 5:9.—To have the law of the Lord in our mouth merely, and make our boast of it, is nothing; but whoever has it written on his heart, and retains it, he is pleasing to God.

Rieger.—What gave to the sacrifice of Jesus its everlasting value, is that in it all was executed according to the direction and will of God.—Sanctification comprehends all the different elements in the restoration of Prayer of Manasseh, calling, justifying, glorifying.—The Holy Spirit also gladly interests and occupies himself with the gracious covenant of God on behalf of us poor sinners. He recognises with joy every forward step that we take therein.—The grace of Christ, the blessing of His single sacrifice, gives wide scope for the love of God, for His pleasure in us, the objects of His grace; and with the love of God comes a larger communion of the Holy Spirit.—The language of the Son has been, under the impulses of the Spirit of Christ, recorded in writing by holy men, and thus gradually grew up the whole Old Testament Scripture, together with the pledge and obligation therein recorded, of Him who was to come, and upon which, even on the cross, His attention was fixed, until He saw all had been accomplished.

Schleiermacher (Festival Discourses):—The death of the Redeemer, the end of all sacrifices: first, because there is needed no other remembrance of sin, which otherwise must have been renewed from day to day, and from year to year; but, secondly, because sin is now really taken away, and such insufficient provisional aids are no longer needed.

Heubner:—The value of our body, and of the whole sensible world, consists in their being means and instruments of the Holy Spirit.—God has had no pleasure in offerings which were made without repentance and faith; they could at best continue only till Christ; and finally, God regarded them merely as types.—The continued dominion of Christ amidst all the uprisings of His enemies, amidst all the endeavors against Him, His doctrine and His Church, is a pledge of our reconciliation, and of our ultimate completed blessedness.—Forgiveness of sins is the condition of our receiving the Holy Spirit.—Christ, with His holy suffering, love and perfect obedience is the one only thing wherein God can have infinite pleasure, and for the sake of which He can look graciously on the race of men.

Menken:—The divine majesty and universal dominion to which our perfected Mediator and High-Priest attained immediately on His entrance into the heavenly all-holy, stands in glorious contrast with the momentary and fearful waiting of the Levitical high-priest before the shadowy semblance of the divine throne; but it assures us, also, that we have in our eternal High-Priest in heaven all that we need for our salvation, and most complete perfection. He is all, and possesses all.

Footnotes:

FN#5 - Hebrews 10:6.—ηὐδόκησας the form adopted (after A. C. D*.,) by Lachm. and Tisch, is to be preferred to εὐδόκησας.

FN#6 - Hebrews 10:8.—The plur. θυσίας καὶ προσφοράς, Isaiah, according to Sin. A. C. D*., 17, 23, 57, to be read instead of the sing, which repeats the words, Hebrews 10:5, and in Sin. is substituted by the corrector.

FN#7 - Hebrews 10:8.—The Art. before νόμον is wanting in Sin. A. C, 37, 46, 71, 73.

FN#8 - Hebrews 10:8.—The reading θεός after τοῦ ποιῆσαι is interpolated from Hebrews 10:7, and, with Sin. A. C. D. E. K, 17, 39, 46, is to be expunged.

FN#9 - Hebrews 10:11.—The authorities vary between ἰερεύς and ἀρχιερεύς. The sense demands the former word, which is also found in Sin.

FN#10 - Hebrews 10:12.—The authority of Sin. A. C. D*. E, 67**, 80, 116, requires ον̓͂τος δέ instead of αὐτὸς δέ.

FN#11 - Hebrews 10:16.—Instead of ἐπὶ τῶν διανοιῶν, as read by D***. E. J. K, and most minusc, ἐπὶ τὴν διάν., is to be preferred with Sin. A. C. D*., 17, 31, 47.

FN#12 - Hebrews 10:17.—Instead of μνησθῶ, read with Sin. A. C. D*. E, 17, μνησθήσομαι. Sin. has the former reading as a correction.


Verses 19-25

SECOND SECTION

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EXHORTATIONS, WARNINGS AND PROMISES, SUGGESTED BY THE PRECEDING DISCUSSION

I

A decided, steadfast and livingly attested adherence to the Christian faith in Christian fellowship is urgently enforced by a reference to the second coming

Hebrews 10:19-25

19Having therefore, brethren, boldness [confidence] to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20By a new and living way, which he hath [om. hath] consecrated [initiated21ἐνεκαίνισεν] for us, through the vail, that is to say, his flesh; And having a high priest [a great priest] over the house of God; 22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having [had] our hearts sprinkled[FN13] from an evil conscience; and [having had] our bodies washed with pure water, 23Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised; 24And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25Not 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.

[ Hebrews 10:19.—ἔχοντες οὖν, having therefore, emphatic in position.—παῤῤησίαν, confidence, boldness.—εἰς τὴν εἴσοδον τῶν ἁγίων, for our entrance into (lit, the entrance of) the sanctuary; E. Ver. “the holiest,” right as to the substantial idea, though incorrect as to expression.

Hebrews 10:20.—ἣν ἐνεκαίνισεν ἠμῖν ὁδόν, which entrance he initiated for us, as away, etc.

Hebrews 10:21.—ὶερέα μέγαν not a high-priest, but a great, exalted priest.

Hebrews 10:22.—ρεραντισμένοι, having been sprinkled, λελυμένοι, having been washed. These not parts of the exhortation, but conditions of it. The first clause to be connected with what precedes, the second with what follows.

Hebrews 10:23.—κατέχωμεν, let us hold our confession of faith unwavering; ἀκλινή without article attached predicatively to ὁμολογίαν.

Hebrews 10:25.—τὴν ἐπισυναγωγὴν ἑαυτῶν, our own (synagogal) assemblage; the term being transferred from the synagogue to the Christian assemblies.—βλέπετε, ye behold.—K.].

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

[So also Alford. And yet the immediate addition of σάρξ, flesh, to καταπέτασμα would seem to render it probable that the author had his mind quite as much on the instrumental use of διά as the local. We enter through the veil locally, and through the flesh, i.e., Christ’s crucified body, instrumentally.—K.].

Hebrews 10:21.—A great priest over the house of God.—Klee, Klein and others, take the words ἱερέα μέγαν together as = high-priest. But the priest whom we Christians have, Isaiah, as He who sits enthroned at the right hand of God as rex sacerdotalis, styled a great priest, exalted above every other priesthood, Hebrews 4:14. By οἶκος τοῦ θεοῦ Theophyl, Bl, De W, Lün, Riehm and others understand heaven, or the heavenly sanctuary; Theodoret, Œc, Calov, Este, Thol, Ebr. and others, the household of believers, the family of the children of God; while Del. would unite both conceptions. The former reference has in its favor the above-mentioned εἴσοδος τῶν ἁγίων and the designation of Christ as λειτουργός ( Hebrews 8:2) of the heavenly sanctuary, (com. Hebrews 9:11) to whose permanent priestly function the writer makes frequent reference. [In favor of the other explanation is the writer’s use of οἶκος, Hebrews 3:2 ff, which is applied to the church founded by Moses, and to the New Testament church founded by Christ, but which is nowhere in the Epistle (unless here) applied to the Sanctuary. The latter meaning, too, is equally in harmony with the connection, and in fact more directly calculated to inspire the hope and confidence which the writer is now striving to awaken. The import of the phrase may be doubtful, but I incline to prefer the latter.—K.].

Hebrews 10:22.—Having had our hearts sprinkled, etc.—The writer has previously stated clearly the two great prerogatives enjoyed by Christians, which furnish not merely an objective possibility, but also the practical inducement and motive for approaching and drawing near to God. He now mentions first the subjective condition in which the προσέρχεσθαι can and must take place viz: that of a true heart επ’ ἀληθινῆς καρδίας (בְּלֵב שָׁכֵם) ( Isaiah 38:3) ἐν πληροφορίᾳ πίστεως, and then in a participial clause, their actual fitness for this. The sprinkling which reaches the heart, and the consequence of which is styled the doing away in us of an evil conscience —purification from guilt Isaiah, evidently sprinkling with the blood of Christ, Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 12:24; 1 Peter 1:2, whereby the expiatory offering up of His life is appropriated to the person, and Hebrews, as freed from the stain of sins, is enabled to appear in priestly service before God; as also the priests of the Old Covenant received, at their consecration, a like sprinkling with blood ( Exodus 29:21; Leviticus 8:30); nay, in the making of the Old Covenant, the whole people were sprinkled with the blood of the covenant sacrifice ( Exodus 24:8). We thus refer the language, not to sanctification (Beng, Menk, Stier), but to justification on the ground of a propitiation.

Hebrews 10:23.—And having had our bodies washed, etc.—Another form of Levitical cleansing and sanctifying was washing with pure water, which Aaron and his sons likewise had to submit to at their consecration ( Exodus 29:4): to which also the priests, as often as they went into the Sanctuary, submitted their hands and feet, from the brazen vessel or laver, before the entrance into the holy place ( Exodus 30:20 ff; Exodus 40:20 ff.); but to which the high-priest, on the annual day of atonement, submitted his whole body, Leviticus 16:4. To this rite allusion is evidently made, and as shown by the word σῶμα, we are not, with Calv. and others to take the water according to Ezekiel 36:25, as a symbol of the outpouring of the Spirit, or as indicating washing away of sins generally (Limb. Ebr, etc.), and least of all with direct reference to the blood of Christ, (Reuss). We must recognize expressly a reference to baptism, Ephesians 5:26 : Titus 3:5. For baptism forms the transition point from the objective system of salvation to its subjective appropriation through the grace which by virtue of the Divine arrangement it sacramentally imparts, and contains in itself the obligation to holiness on the part of the reconciled and justified, Romans 6:3 ff.; 1 Peter 3:21; and also actually works the washing away of sin, Acts 22:18; 1 Corinthians 6:11. Grammatically this clause forms the transition from the first to the second part of the exhortation, which would utterly lack connection, if the two participial clauses, were both of them referred either to the preceding προσερχώμεθα (Pesh, Primas, Luth, Bl, De W, Del, etc.), or to the following κατέχωμεν, (Hofm.). In favor too of this connection of καὶ λελου. with κατέχωμεν (as held by Thol, Lün, etc.) is the fact that with baptism stands connected the ὁμολογία, which may signify just as well the active confessing of the hope, as the passive profession, whose object is the Christian hope. The clause assigning the reasons for steadfastness reminds us of 1 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:24; 2 Thessalonians 3:3.

Hebrews 10:24.—And let us give heed to one another, etc.—The third part of the exhortation, similarly adjoined by καὶ, refers to the duty of love toward the members of the church, in special reference to their position at the time, while the first has to do with faith and the second with hope. The purpose of their mutual and watchful regard is a παροξυσμός, which, (while elsewhere in the New Testament, denoting stirring up and irritation in a bad sense Acts 15:39; 1 Corinthians 13:5) here as sometimes in the classics, the following Gen. shows to be employed in a good sense.

Hebrews 10:25.—Not forsaking, etc.—The words apply neither to a neglect of duty toward the church (Bl.), nor to the forsaking of her when involved in peril, distress and need (Böhm!). For ἐπισυναγωγή never signifies the Christian body (Calv, Just, Bl, etc.) but only assembly, congregation ( 2 Maccabees 2:7; 2 Thessalonians 2:1), and it is only the ἑαυτῶν that restricts this to the readers, as a Christian and worshipping assembly (Chrys. and the most). The incidental clause ὡς ἔθος τισίν shows that the withdrawal from the religious assemblages had with some already begun, yet that no “formal apostasy is meant, but only a neglect, marking an abatement of zeal at no wide remove from apostasy,” (Del.). The day of Christ’s Revelation -appearing is called here as 1 Corinthians 3:13 simply “the day” ( ἡμέρα). The ὅσῳ is to be constructed not with ἐγγίζουσαν, but with βλέπετε=ὅσῳ μᾶλλον.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. Christians find themselves in possession of two important advantages, which not merely establish the possibility, but furnish a practical living inducement to draw near to God. These advantages are: 1, the joyful and confident boldness to make use of the entrance to the formerly closed, but now opened heavenly sanctuary; 2, the Priest over the house of God, exalted above every priesthood, Jesus Christ.

2. This boldness is found only within the sphere of the influence, and in the power of the blood, of Jesus Christ. For during the life of Jesus Christ on earth, His flesh had the same influence as the veil between the outer and inner sanctuary of the Temple. Full and unobstructed communion with God had in this a barrier which must first be overcome, but which was completely removed in the sacrificial death of Christ. Thus it becomes apparent also here that it is not the doctrine and example of Jesus that render possible our communion with God, but the death of the God-man, which, in its connection with atonement and propitiation, as indicated by the train of thought through the entire Epistle, can neither be the mere figurative representation of an idea, nor have a simply moral significance. Our way to God leads always through this rent veil of the flesh of Jesus Christ, which is the henceforth unveiled and ever open gateway to heaven.

3. Since Christ has gone into heaven, in order therein to remain, and there, as in the true sanctuary, on the ground of His completed work of redemption, to appear in the presence of God for us, the exercise of His Priestly office in mediation, intercession and blessing, takes place in the most perfect manner, and without interruption. It only remains now that we, as His ransomed Church, gather ourselves thither unto Him.

4. Before we are called to appear before God in eternity, we should so avail ourselves in time of the means of access to the heavenly sanctuary, that the characteristic marks of Christians, in faith, hope and love, shall be found in us. Faith gains its fulness from the sprinkling of the heart with the blood of Jesus Christ, whereby are produced the certainty of our reconciliation with God, and the experience of our justification. Hope, which expresses itself in holding fast our confession of specifically Christian faith, finds its warrant in the appropriation of the grace of baptism, and draws its nourishment from the promises of the one only reliable and faithful God. Love, whose rights and obligations lie in the needs and blessings of communion and fellowship, finds occasion, stimulus and strength for its exercise in participation in Christian worship, and has its living connection with faith and love in awaiting and preparing for the approaching day of the Lord’s return.

5. Since the ascension of Jesus Christ, the day which ends the circling round of days and merges time into eternity, is not merely apprehended by itself as in a sort of standing and perpetual proximity, but is expected by the disciples as approaching, with the conviction that every new morning may possibly be the last; and with the feeling that those who are called and are qualified to judge the signs of the times ( Matthew 24) may by no means overlook the premonitory signs, occurring in history, of the coming of this decisive day of judgment and salvation.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The wishes, thoughts and ways of the Christian tend not merely into the earthly, but into the heavenly sanctuary.—Our drawing near to God: 1, in its basis and foundation; 2, in its means; 3, in its blessings.—The right use of the means of grace: 1, in their quality; 2, in their effects.—How we have to dispense the gifts of grace imparted to us beneficially to ourselves and to others.—Whereby we make every day a day of blessing.—We need not fear the final judgment, if we rightly improve the present time.—We must not merely expect the day of the Lord, but prepare ourselves for it.—How we overcome the perils of society by the blessings of Christian fellowship.—How we must recompense fidelity with fidelity.—The character of those who would come to God.—The connection of faith, hope and love in the life of the true Christian.—To the nature of the way opened to us into the heavenly sanctuary, should our walk in it correspond.

Starke:—A Christian must conduct with great thoroughness and gentleness his admonitions to his neighbor.—Faith in Christ is the way to God.—Christ is the great High-priest in respect: 1, to His person; 2, to His office; 3, to believers, of whom He is the Head.—Whoever would be great, and have what is great, must make choice of Jesus.—If the heart has rightly apprehended the grace of God, and believes that Christ is a living, gracious, kind and sweet Saviour, it also so uses that grace, and so feels the attraction of the love of the Lord Jesus, that it penetrates even to His gracious seat.—The way to heaven can be entered by him only who has a living faith in his Saviour, holds constantly to his confession of hope, and has a zeal that provokes to love and good works.—Neither doubter nor despairer can enter into the kingdom of God.—The faithfulness of God is above all faithfulness. God is faithful to fulfil what He has promised, and to guard what He has given. Should not this furnish to our faith and hope a double basis for a joyful confession?—One Christian must be guardian of another, and rebuke with words whatever runs counter to God and virtue.—Every one must look first to himself, and seek in all respects to make a certain advancement, and keep and increase what he has: but this same well regulated self-love he must also evince for his neighbor, on the ground of a common membership in the spiritual body of Jesus Christ.—Mere external contact with the worship of God fails indeed to secure salvation; but wilful contempt of it is the way to ruin and damnation.—The diligent contemplation of the displays of God’s punitive justice in death and the final judgment, may and should serve us as a perpetual discipline in godliness.

Rieger:—The pure water of baptism has drawn our body and its members into the service of the Lord, and also raised it to the dignity of a future resurrection. It Isaiah, therefore, a capital point in the hope that has been bestowed on us, and to which we must adhere, that even in our body which has wrung from us many sighs over sin and death, we shall yet be penetrated and pervaded by the salvation of God.—Love draws great quickening from hope; but by the exercise of love, hope again gains ever wider scope.—Without fervent zeal in ourselves, mutual admonition is of no account.

Hahn:—He in whom is the life of Christ, has also the entrance into the sanctuary.—By faith our spirit has, even in the present life, an entrance into the sanctuary; but God has, in baptism, also appropriated to himself our body as that in which the life of Christ is to be made manifest.

Heubner:—God ever vouchsafes to the believer the privilege of approach; is ever accessible, ever to be addressed.—Our hope itself, and more than this, our confession of hope also, we should ever hold fast.—How deeply have Christians to reflect on what has been bestowed on them with Christ and His death.

Tholuck:—How, in our own time, are we to consider the forsaking of the Christian assemblies? a, in its causes; b, in its consequences.

Menken:—That the way has been consecrated for us, indicates our right to walk in it; and also an obligation resting on us not to decline walking in it.—Not in the Spirit, not in His higher nature and dignity, not in so far as He was in the form and essential likeness of God, has the Son of God consecrated for men the living way into the holiest of all; but rather in so far as He has humbled himself to the form of a servant in our sinful flesh, and in the flesh has suffered and conquered.—From the signs of the times, from the rent veil, from the opened sanctuary, we see that the first grand division of our world’s history has past by, and in a sense and measure, such as never before, the day of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ draws near.

Gerok:—Of our sacred priestly obligations: 1, Priestly approach to the mercy seat; 2, the priestly sprinkling of our hearts; 3, the priestly holding fast to our confession of hope; 4, the priestly receiving of one another in love.

Footnotes:

FN#13 - Hebrews 10:22.—Cod. Sin. A. C. D*. write ρεραντισμένοι.


Verses 26-31

II

The heaviest and inevitable judgment of God falls upon apostasy from acknowledged Christian truth

Hebrews 10:26-31

26For if we, sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more [a] sacrifice for sins, 27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and [a] fiery indignation, which shall [the glowing fervor of a fire that is about to] devour the adversaries 28 He that despised [set at naught] Moses’ law died [dieth] without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29Of 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 [common, unhallowed, κοινόν], and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him that hath [om. hath] said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord.[FN14] And again, The Lord shall [will] Judges 15 his people31It is a, fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

[ Hebrews 10:26.—ἑκουσίως γάρ, for voluntarily, ἑκουσ, emphatically standing before the Part.—ἁμαρτανόντων ἡμῶν, we sinning, in case of our sinning—the present Part. denoting an habitual and abiding state; but nothing seems to require us to transfer it, with Alf, to the actual day of judgment. It seems much more forcible, as well as more natural, to refer it to the condition, in the present life, of one who has completely apostatized from God.—μετὰ τὸ λαβεῖν, after receiving.—τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν, the recognition—more than the mere γνῶσις—the knowledge to which the mind has been consciously directed, and borne, as it were, its attestation.—ἀπολείπεται, there remaineth as a logical result: καταλείπεται, there is left behind as a historical fact, see Hebrews 4:1; Hebrews 4:4.

Hebrews 10:27.—Πυρὸς ζῆλος ἐσθίειν μέλλοντος, an indignation, or, fervor of fire that is about to devour.

Hebrews 10:28.—ἀθετήσας τις, any one, after setting at naught.

Hebrews 10:29.—ὁ καταπατήσας, who trampled onκοινόν, common, that of a common man (De W, Del, Alf, etc.), or (as Thol, Lün, Moll, etc.),=ἀκάθαρτον, unclean, impure.—K.].

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Hebrews 10:26. For if we sin wilfully, etc.—That the reference here is not to deliberate and heinous sins in general, but to apostasy from Christianity after regeneration, is clear from the entire phraseology. Ἑκουσίως stands in contrast with ἀγνοοῦντες and πλανώμενοι, Hebrews 5:2 : the pres. ἁμαρτανόντων marks habitual in contrast with transient denial: the apostasy is preceded by the ἐπίγνωσις τῆς ἀληθείας, at once a theoretical and practical recognition of the truth, and deliberate and conscious embracing of it, and is followed by a failure of any further expiatory sacrifice, and instead of it (ἀπολείπεται, as Hebrews 4:6) an ἐκδοχή, whose fearfulness is heightened by the rhetorical τὶς. Πυρὸς ζῆλος is not to be taken as a single conception=fiery zeal or jealousy (Luth, etc.), since the following Part, takes the case of πυρός, which is treated as a person, as at Hebrews 12:29 God Himself is called πῦρ καταναλίσκον. Ἐσθίειν points not to a destroying=annihilating, but to the sensible conscious suffering of the fiery infliction. The expressions remind us forcibly of Isaiah 26:11 in the Sept. The words in Hebrews 10:28 refer evidently to Deuteronomy 17:6, which refer in like manner not to the transgression of individual commandments, but to a breaking of the covenant, and abandonment of God for idol-worship. Hence the ground for the following parallel.

Hebrews 10:29. Of how much sorer punishment think ye, etc.—Δοκεῖτε lays the decision regarding the case, about which there can be no doubt, on the judgment of the readers: ἀξιωθήσεται represents God as Him who weighs the greatness of guilt, and hence awards the τιμωρία according to the facts of the preceding (Aor. Part.) sins. The words ἐν ἡγιάσθη (as read uniformly except by A. and Chrys.) designate the blood of the covenant as that whose sanctifying influence—i.e., an influence which, in virtue of the atonement and purification, consecrates to a true covenant fellowship with God and His people—had been already experienced. Hence κοινόν here, doubtless, denotes impurity (Vulg, Luth, Grot, Thol, Ebr, Lün, Riehm, etc.), not commonness (Pesh, It, Œcum, Theophyl, Bez, Schlicht, Beng, Bl, De W, Bisp, Del, etc.). By πνεῦμα τῆς χάριτος Bl, De W, Lün. understand the Holy Spirit as the gift of grace; but more correctly acc. to Hebrews 13:9; Hebrews 13:25 (comp. Zechariah 12:10). Böhm, Del, Riehm, etc., understand it as the efficient principle of grace. The first citation is from Deuteronomy 32:35; the second from Deuteronomy 32:36 (repeated Psalm 135:14). In both passages the sentiment Isaiah, that Jehovah, by His judicial sway, will vindicate the rights of His people against His enemies. This meaning of the original is also here to be maintained, since τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ denotes in the conception of the writer the church of God of the New Covenant (Del.), which is overlooked by Bl, De W, Lün, who understand the words of a judgment upon the people, instead of for them. The first citation deviates from the Heb. text, and still more from that of the Sept.; but accords with Romans 12:19, which contains also the λέγει κύριος that is wanting in the original. Hence Bl, De W, Del, Reiche infer that the citation was taken at second hand from Romans; while Meyer ( Romans 12:19; Romans 12:3 d ed.) regards the paraphrase of Onkelos, Lün, on the contrary, a current proverbial form of the expression, as the common source of the citation both here and in Romans.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The most immediate inducement to follow the injunctions that in their rightful claim have just been laid down, is the great danger of apostasy from Christ, and the fearfulness of its consequences.

2. The penitent sinner may indeed, with resigned spirit, choose rather to fall into the hands of God than of men, 2 Samuel 24:14; Sirach 2:18. But the covenant-breaker and apostate, who has come into a hostile and radical gainsaying of the truth which he had before acknowledged, cannot be again renewed to repentance, Hebrews 6:4-8, and cannot possibly henceforth obtain forgiveness of sins. The offerings of the law bring no true propitiation; self-originated offerings have not even the character of type and of promise. If the only true atoning sacrifice, the Son of God and His blood, have in view of the earlier experience of its sanctifying power, been rejected as useless, and the Spirit of grace spurned and scorned, not only is there nothing to replace the sacrifice thus rejected and dishonored, but this itself can no longer exercise a saving influence upon him who has made wilful and wanton wreck of all the previous influences of grace.

3. The distinction of peccatum deliberatum and ignorantiæ is a less fixed and rigid one than is commonly supposed: there is in sinning a knowledge of the right, which the sinner refuses to allow to assert itself. The veil of the lying excuse which is drawn over the conscience would fain lift itself, but is held fast with convulsive power. Such a character of the inward struggle and gainsaying of truth must we particularly insist on when Christian truth, once attested by the Holy Spirit, Isaiah, in an apostasy which has grown out of lesser acts of infidelity, not only denied, but blasphemed. The conflict regarding objective truth becomes all the more fierce in proportion as there Isaiah, at the same time, a conflict against the truth which still in a measure asserts itself within the bosom of the apostate (Thol. comp. Stud. und Krit., 1836, Heft. 2).

4. Rightfully and justly after such an apostasy, nothing remains to be expected but judgment, which will be executed by God with the full living energy of His holy nature, just as inevitably as His undeceiving word has infallibly declared it; and its fearfulness will stand proportionate to the richness of the grace, and the fulness of the Revelation, of the New Covenant.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

To the greatness of the grace which has been received we find standing in direct relation the guilt of apostasy, and the fearfulness of the punishment.—The hands of God reach through time and eternity, and to apostates bring no less of terror and destruction, than comfort and assistance to believers.—The judgments of God come slowly but surely; yet they are preceded by the proffer of grace and the announcement of punishment upon the despisers.—He who turns the grace of God into wantonness has nothing further to hope from His compassion.—The looking for of the Divine judgment, without faith in the expiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ, is a foretaste of damnation.—The wrath of God burns as hotly as His love, and strikes no less surely than justly.

Starke:—Were there to be another sacrifice, there must also be another Messiah; and God must lay through Him an entirely new foundation for salvation; must institute an entirely different economy for attaining it; and must consequently, at the same time, Himself take away the way which has been disclosed, and the foundation which has been laid, through Christ. Inasmuch, therefore, as this is absolutely impossible, it is also equally impossible that any one should be saved out of Christ; and that any other propitiatory sacrifice should be made on his behalf.—Not only is the judgment of God terrible in itself, but terrible is also the tormenting fear and foretaste of it which the ungodly feel in themselves as a hell even upon earth.—Great sins deserve great punishments; he therefore who allows himself in their commission must not be surprised that he receive his reward ( Jeremiah 2:19).—Against the apostate there are three witnesses: the Father, who hath given to him His Son; the Song of Solomon, whose blood he tramples under foot; and the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of grace, to whom he does despite.—Seest thou the apostate and ungodly walking secure, believe that he will not remain unpunished; God does all precisely at the right time; he will thus speedily remember him ( Nahum 1:2).

Hahn:—According to the greatness of His grace, is the severity with which God visits His wrath upon the contempt of it.

Rieger:—To the Lord Jesus is ascribed a long-suffering patience ( Hebrews 10:13), but to believers a hopeful waiting ( Hebrews 9:28): unbelievers, on the contrary, fall into a fearful apprehension, wherein many a word of God that had been heard without fear, returns with terrible power.—The unfruitful vine before every other tree is given as food to the fire ( Ezekiel 15:6-7); and thus abused love and neglected grace awaken all the greater wrath.—It is a great deception of our hardened and insensible heart that the death-punishments threatened in the law, stoning, etc., affect us more than the sorer punishment which takes effect only in the realm of the future and invisible.—“He who eats my bread, tramples me with his heel,” is the just complaint of Jesus in regard to His betrayer.

Heubner:—There is a more subtle and a more open apostasy.—The abandonment of the only Saviour and Propitiator takes us out of the reach of propitiation.—The apostate suffers a twofold punishment; first, in awaiting it, and then in the actual experience.—We hear in this case an earnest testimony to the guilt of careless and unprincipled changes in religion.

Menken:—In that the Lord judges His people He will avenge and deliver them.—Vengeance is a prerogative of the Divine majesty. This we are not to assume, but rather to refrain from all private vengeance, and, feeling the love of Jesus Christ, are to commend to the Divine compassion those who in thought and act oppose themselves to Christianity, and who are our enemies for the Gospel’s sake; and this all the more from the fact that they who from this cause, hate, calumniate and abuse us, unless they cease from their unrighteousness, will not escape the Divine retribution.

Footnotes:

FN#14 - Hebrews 10:30.—The words λέγει κύριος are wanting, indeed, in Sin. D*. 17,23*, 67**, and most ancient translations, but have the authority of A. D. E. K. L. Philox, and are added by a later hand in Sin. Comp. Expos, of Hebrews 10:29, conclusion.

FN#15 - Hebrews 10:30.—Instead of the lect. rec. κύριος κρινεῖ, we are to read κρινεῖ κύριος after Sin. A. D. E. K31, 73, which MSS, except Sin. and A, have also ὅτι preceding, as Sept, Deuteronomy 32:36; Psalm 135:14. In the Sin, the change has been introduced by the corrector.


Verses 32-39

III

A speedy entrance into blessedness awaits those who endure to the end; of which the readers inspire a hope by the steadfastness which they have already evinced

Hebrews 10:32-39

32But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight [struggle] of afflictions; 33Partly, whilst ye were made a gazing-stock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used [that so walked]. 34For ye had compassion of me in my bonds [sympathized with those in bonds, τοῖς δεσμίοις][FN16] and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that [that for yourselves][FN17] ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance 35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward 36 For ye have need of patience [steadfastness, ὑπομονῆς], that, after ye have done [or, by doing=ye may do—and] the will of God, ye might37[may] receive the promise. For yet a little while [a very little], and he that shall come [he that cometh, ἐρχόμενος] will come, and will not tarry 38 Now the just [But my just one][FN18] shall live by faith, but if any man [and if he] draw back, my soul shall have [hath] no pleasure in him 39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving [procuring, preserving] of the soul [of life].

[ Hebrews 10:32.—ἀναμιμνήσκεσθε, Be calling, or, keep calling to remembrance, as a habit; so Pres. tense; not Aor. ἀναμνήσθητε, call to remembrance, as a simple act.—ἄθλησιν, struggle, contest, requiring exertion; not μάχην, fight, battle.—παθημάτων, sufferings, not afflictions (θλίψεων) as in next verse.

Hebrews 10:33.—τοῦτο μέν, on the one hand (lit, as to this indeed):—θεατριζόμενοι, Pres. Part, being habitually made a spectacle, γενηθέντες, Aor. being made, or becoming, as a single fact.—τῶν οὕτως ἀναστερεφομένων, of them who so walk, i. e, in reproaches and afflictions.,

Hebrews 10:34.—τοῖς δεσμίοις συνεπαθήσατε, ye sympathized with the prisoners.—γινωσ. ἔχειν ἑαυτοῖς, knowing that ye have for yourselves; not, as E. V, knowing in yourselves.

Hebrews 10:35.—ἥτις, characteristic, as one which hath=because it hath.

Hebrews 10:36.—ὑπομονῆς, of patient endurance.—ἵνα τὸ θελ. τοῦ θεοῦ ποιήσαντες κομίσησθε E. V. (In order) that after ye have done the will of God, ye may receive the promises. So Moll substantially, “after fulfilment of the will of God, ye may receive,” etc. Alford: “that ye may do the will of God and receive=that doing the will of God, ye may receive.” De Wette: durch Erfullung, by fulfilment of, by doing the will, etc. The sentence will equally well bear either of the three constructions: 1. “that, after doing the will, ye may receive;” 2. that, doing the will, ye may receive=ye may do the will and receive; 3. “that doing the will ye may receive=that, by doing the will, ye may receive.” Either, too, here makes perfectly good sense. For although Alford’s rendering, “ye may do and receive,” is entirely admissible, and may be the right one, vet his reason for rejecting the first, is scarcely decisive, viz. “No endurance, or patience would be wanted, when they had done the will of God, to receive the promise.” True, but endurance or patience would be wanted to bring about that state of things in which they, after having done the will of God, might receive the promise. For such, is the character of the sentence that the endurance might have reference exclusively to the participal clause, or to the finite verb, or to both together, and nothing but the connection could determine which.

Hebrews 10:37.—μικρὸν ὅσον, ὅσον, more emphatic than “a little,” as E. V.; “a little, a very little”—the repeated ὅσον being a sort of double diminutive, aliquantillum.”—ὁ ἐρχόμενος, he that cometh; not, as E. V, he that shall come; nor, as often rendered in the gospels, he that should come.

Hebrews 10:38.—ὁ δὲ δίκαιός μου, but my righteous one (μου here being guaranteed by the best authorities).—καὶ έὰν ὑπυσυείληται, and if he shall have shrunk back, timidly drawn back (lit. ὑποστέλλεσθαι, lower sail, take in sail, then, shrink back from danger, as often in the classics). Eng. ver. supplies (with many) τις, if any man, contrary to the spirit of the passage, although, if the exigencies of the connection required it, it would be quite defensible grammatically. τὶς (with Middleton and Scholefield) Isaiah, I think, to be supplied at John 8:44, with λάλῃ, although the commentators generally decline to receive it. Here the reference of ὑποστείληται to the δίκαιος, is only one more among many passages of like import in this Epistle.

Hebrews 10:39.—οὐκ ἐσμὲν ὑποστολῆς, we do not belong to back-sliding.—εἰς περιποίησιν ψυχῆς, for, or unto the procuring, gaining, preserving of the soul—or of our life in the sense, of Matthew 10:39, he that findeth his life (τὴν ψυχήν) shall lose it. And so better, I think, with Moll, Do Wette, etc., than soul, with Luther, Stier, Alford, etc.—K.].

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Hebrews 10:32. But calling to mind, etc.—Ἀναμνησθῆναι is usually constructed with the Acc. of the remembered object, the simple μνησθῆναι with the Gen. φωτισθέντες, enlightened, denotes conversion to Christianity as a translation from the power of darkness into the realm of light, so that the truth has found recognition and efficient action in the soul, and Christ is not merely believed in and praised as the Light of the world, but shines in the soul, as the Sun of Righteousness,—Excellently Chrys, in regard to the conflict of suffering; οὐκ εἶπε πειρασμοὺς ἀλλὰ ἄθλησιν ὅπερ ἐστὶν ἐγκωμίου ὄνομα καὶ ἐπαίνων μεγίστων (“he does not say temptations, but struggle, a term of high eulogy”).—The οὖτως is by some referred to walking in ‘steadfastness’, by most to walking in ‘affliction.’ The latter only is admissible, in the subordination of the two clauses, τοῦτο μέν—τοῦτο δέ to ὑπομείνατε, as exhibiting the different modes of their manifested ‘endurance.’ The οὕτως in the second division can only refer to the characteristic mentioned in the preceding. The τοῦτο μέν—τοῦτο δέ, found in the New Testament only here, is thoroughly classic.

Hebrews 10:36. After fulfilling the will of God.—Beng. erroneously refers the Aor. Part, ποιήσαντες to the previously mentioned Christian acts of the readers immediately after their conversion. [Grammatically considered, the passage might bear this, although I think the Perf. Part, would then be more natural. At all events, the ποιήσαντες undoubtedly refers to acts hereafter to be done under the influence of the ὑπομονή. But even then, whether the better rendering Isaiah, “after doing,” or “by doing,” or by two co-ordinate verbs, “may do and receive,” is doubtful. Substantially, they would here amount to the same thing; though in other cases of like construction, the difference might be important. But then the context would generally decide the right construction.—K.]. The will of God is here not as Hebrews 10:7 ff. God’s purpose and counsel of redemption, whose fulfilment became the great end of the life of Christ, but the will of God, as required to be fulfilled by the Saints, not, however, in its most general character, as a simple rule of life (Thol, and others); nor as restricted to the sanctification which is effected through the sacrifice of the Son (Bl.); but in special reference to steadfast endurance unto the end (Theophyl, Lün, Del.).

The promise (ἐπαγγελία) is here, as in several other places, the substance of the promise, the thing promised.

Hebrews 10:37. For yet a little—how little time, etc.—The words μικρὸν ὄσον ὄσον=a little, how very, very little! which form one of the very few instances in which the superlative is expressed in Greek by repetition, are probably taken from Isaiah 26:20; and in their connection with ἔτι are in our passage, like ἔτι μικρόν, John 14:19, better regarded as an independent Subst. clause than as an Acc. of determinate time employed to introduce the freely cited passage, Habakkuk 2:3-4. The original text runs: “If it delays (viz., the vision) wait for it; it comes, it comes, it will not linger.” The subject is the overthrow of the Chaldean world-dominion by the judgment of Jehovah. The Sept. itself suggests the turn of the passage, so as to apply it to a person by the rendering ὅτι ἐρχόμενος ἥξει, which our author makes still more concrete by adding the def. article. The original then adds: “Lo! his soul is puffed up, is not upright within him (the Chaldean);” the Sept, on the contrary; “If he timidly draws back, my soul hath no pleasure in him” (Υποστέλλειν, used originally of lowering the sail, then of timidly shrinking back). On this follows the clause: “But the righteous will live, ἐκ πίστεώς μου,” (Cod. Vat.); or, “But my righteous one will live,” ἐκ πίστεως (Cod. Alex.). Grot, supplies τὶς, De W. ἄνθρωπος. Calvin carries the fact that the passage aims not to be a direct and proper citation, but simply a free application of the original, to the extent of putting the concluding clause into the mouth of the author, and understanding by ψυχή μου the soul, not of God, or (as Œc.) of Christ, but of the author. With ἐσμέν Grot, Carpz, and others supply τέκνα or υἱοί. It is better taken in the strictly classical Gr. construction of a Gen. of belonging. The allusion to ζήσεται, and the contrasted ἀπώλεια shows that περιποίησις ψυχῆς is not, with Luth, Calv, etc., to be taken of the soul; while still we are not, with Ebr, to refer it to temporal bodily life in escaping from the impending destruction of Jerusalem, but, of eternal life, corresponding to the expression, 1 Thessalonians 5:9, εἰς περιποίησιν σωτηρίας.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. A second inducement to follow the admonitions of Hebrews 10:19-25 lies in the encouraging remembrance of the steadfastness evinced under previous sufferings; a steadfastness which is still to be maintained in faith, and which is accompanied by great promises that will be perfectly fulfilled at the Revelation -appearing of Jesus Christ.

2. Conversion to Christ, inasmuch as it introduces into the soul the true light of life, gives, indeed, to the believer, through the beams of this gracious luminary, the certainty of reconciliation, and, along with the acknowledgment of the truth, at the same time, an experience of salvation; whence come at once quiet to the heart, repose to the conscience, and peace to the soul. But as even the converted man still remains in the world, there arises, ere long, a great and perpetually recurring struggle amid sufferings. By insults and afflictions, endured partly in their own persons, and partly by sympathy with those companions in faith who pursue their Christian walk amidst like circumstances of suffering, the children of God are made a spectacle of derision to the world.

3. In the case of apostasy the sacrifices already offered would have been offered in vain; and the sufferings hitherto endured, would have been endured to no purpose. Hebrews, on the contrary, who remains steadfast in the appointed conflict of suffering, not merely receives an experimental testimony of the power of faith, but also acquires thereby courage and strength, and the invigoration of hope, and final victory.

4. The assurance of imperishable and inalienable possessions, not only aids us in relation to the loss of our earthly goods, but renders believers even joyful sufferers under acts of violence, and willing sharers in the sufferings of the oppressed. For suffering for the name of Jesus, and on account of a conscience that owes allegiance to God, is an honor and a favor ( Acts 5:41; 1 Peter 2:20).

5. The recompense of reward comes as certainly as the Lord Himself, who is already on the way. But as the securing of life is certain to those who persevere in the faith, equally certain is the destruction of those who timidly draw back. Faith thus, in its abiding confidence in the Lord, is the essential condition of the attainment of salvation, of which the coming of the Lord is the essential means. But believers are strengthened in their conflict of suffering, and in their waiting for the fulfilment of the promises of God, particularly by the assurance and clear view, that the period of waiting for the dawning of glory is a vanishing span of time.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The aid and comfort derived from the remembrance of conflicts and suffering that in former times have been victoriously endured in faith.—To begin in faith, but not to endure, leads to useless sacrifices, vain hopes, and fruitless sufferings.—The attainment of the promised blessings must be preceded by the fulfilment of the Divine will: but this cannot take place without a living faith, that proves itself in suffering.—The proving of one’s faith in one’s own and in others’ sufferings.—A manifold struggle of sufferings is allotted to Christians in this world; but along with this, a great promise, and a rich reward.—How the loss of earthly goods is borne, and replaced by more exalted and permanent possessions in heaven.—Why life is not gained without faith.

Starke:—Christians are God’s combatants, and must be in perpetual conflict; hence, they also expect the wreath of honor which the heavenly calling holds out to them.—What is to comfort us in all trouble and persecution? The hope of eternal blessedness in heaven.—Trouble and persecution are badges of the Christian; where they do not bear these in themselves, there is something wanting in their Christianity ( 2 Timothy 3:12).—Christians are under obligation not merely to sympathize with the wretched, but, as far as possible, to help them.—Observe the characteristic of the kingdom, and of the members of the kingdom of Christ; which is to do good and to suffer evil. It is wonderful, but salutary; it must serve for great good ( Psalm 109:5).—In disease, pain, and suffering, confidence in our gracious God is better than all medicines; it is a tried means, and must bring aid.—Mark it, soul! it is not enough to have well begun the struggle; thou must also complete it, and arm thyself accordingly with patience. For he who falters, in him the Lord hath no pleasure; nay, he draws back to his condemnation.—A Christian must not by impatience make his cross heavier than it Isaiah, but in quiet and hope will be his strength, Jeremiah 30:15.—The suffering of the present time is brief and light, 2 Corinthians 4:17; Isaiah 54:7; Psalm 30:6; we must not, therefore, allow the time under the cross to seem to us long.—The faith that brings salvation is no dead thing, but a living essence, and productive of life, Galatians 2:20.—Ah! this should be our greatest care in the world, to save our soul, and all the more, that we are in imminent peril of losing it.

Rieger:—Who shall be the persons with whom we in our time hold and seek fellowship, is a point that must involve important consequences, reaching down to the day of Jesus Christ.—He who does the will of God, and awaits with patience the promise, has contentment on earth, and yonder, as the end of his faith, salvation.

Ahlfeld:—The righteous will live by faith. We consider: 1, the nature and quality of faith; 2, the righteous by faith; 3, the blessing of faith.

Heubner:—The longer we practice, the easier becomes the conflict.—There are secret trials, but also public sufferings; the latter are all the more bitter, inasmuch as they take place before the eyes of those who have no sympathy.—On moments hangs the blessedness of eternity.—The expectations of a faithful teacher are powerful stimulants; they inflame our zeal.

Hedinger:—Impatience destroys all the fruit of the Cross.

Footnotes:

FN#16 - Hebrews 10:34.—Instead of the lect. rec. τοῖς δεσμοῖς μου, found in D***. E. K. L. (but recognized even by Este as an expanded gloss on the erroneous τοῖς δεσμοῖς of Orig. Exhort, ad mart., 44) we are to read τοῖς δεσμίοις after A. D*., whoso testimony is the more important, as B. and C. are here defective. Sin. however, has the lect. rec.

FN#17 - Hebrews 10:34.—Instead of the illy attested lect. rec. ἐν ἑαυτοῖς we are either with Sin. and many minusc. to read ἑαυτούς, or better, with D. E. K. L, ἑσυτοῖς: with this accords best also the circumstance that ἐν οὐρανοῖς is wanting in A. D*., 17, but on the contrary is found in D***. E. K. L.

FN#18 - Hebrews 10:38.—After δίκαιος we are with Sin. A. Vulg, etc., and the Cod. Alex, of the Sept. to retain μου. In D*., the two Syriac and other ancient versions and most MSS. of the Sept, it stands after πίστεως. The Rec, without reason, omits it entirely. The failure of this pron. in the Heb. text does not decide for the Gr. text.

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Hebrews 10:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/hebrews-10.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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