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Bible Commentaries

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament
Hebrews 10

 

 

Verse 1

Hebrews 10:1. For—a particle that connects the argument with the last verses of chap. 9. The sacrifice of Christ will not be repeated, we are told in Hebrews 9:28. Nor need it, is the statement here

the law having, as we know it has, a shadow only—a mere outline of the good things which belong to the world to come (chap. Hebrews 6:5), of which Christ is High Priest (Hebrews 9:11), not the very image—the very form—of the things, i.e the heavenly realities themselves (comp. Romans 8:29), they can never—at any time or anyhow—with the same sacrifices year by year which they offer continually—words that describe the ever-recurring cycle of the same sacrifices for sin—make perfect those who are ever drawing nigh to God.


Verses 1-18

Hebrews 10:1-18. We now reach the conclusion of the argument, which is also in part a repetition. Christ’s offering of Himself, as contrasted with the yearly offerings of the Law, is the completion of the will and purpose of God (Hebrews 10:1-10). Christ’s priestly service, as contrasted with the daily services of the priests, oft-repeated and all imperfect, is for ever perfected by His one priestly act, and in His kingly authority (Hebrews 10:11-14): and His finished work is the inauguration of a New Covenant, in which the law being written on the heart, and sin put away and forgotten, no further offering is needed or allowed (Hebrews 10:15-18).


Verse 2

Hebrews 10:2. Else would they—these same sacrifices—not have ceased to be offered, because the worshippers—both priests and people—would have had no longer any conscience—any consciousness of the guilt—of sin being once for all completely purified? The whole clause is best treated as a question, as is clear from the next verse.


Verse 3

Hebrews 10:3. But, on the contrary, there is in those sacrifices a remembrance made—a recalling to mind, on the part of the worshippers and on God’s part—of sins year by year.


Verse 4

Hebrews 10:4. Nor could it be otherwise, for the sacrifices themselves are inherently defective. This teaching may seem to contradict the statement that ‘the blood upon the altar’ makes an atonement for the soul (Leviticus 17:11), and is appointed (‘given’) for that purpose. The fact is, that the blood of the bullock or of the goat (the sin offering on the Day of Atonement) could not weigh against the guilt of a nation, or even of a single worshipper. It could only sanctify to the purifying of the flesh (Hebrews 9:13), restoring the sinner to living membership with the literal Israel. It cancelled ceremonial guilt, not spiritual sin, and gave legal outward purity, not spiritual regeneration. The annual sacrifice was only a shadow and prophecy of another sacrifice, in which the Divine will was to be perfectly accomplished.


Verse 5-6

Hebrews 10:5. Wherefore, let me describe, says the writer, in O. T. language, the voluntary offering of Christ and His setting aside of the offerings of the law—when coming into the world—the incarnate Messiah, to do the will of His Father—he saith, Sacrifice (victim) and offering (gift) thou desiredst not. This language and the language of Hebrews 10:6 has created difficulty. All these offerings were commanded, and were offered according to the Law (Hebrews 10:8). Why then did not God desire them? or find pleasure in them? When offered indeed in hypocrisy, to the neglect of moral obedience, or when trusted in for righteousness and acceptance, they were, as we know, rejected. But these reasons are not assigned here. The explanation, therefore, is to be sought elsewhere. It is of atonement for sin the writer is speaking. In sacrifice or mere suffering God cannot delight, and if it is spiritually powerless, insufficient to atone for sin, it is useless, and may even be worse than useless. In whole burnt-offerings (see Leviticus 1:16, Lev. 1:27), in sacrifices for sin of whatever kind (sin-offerings, Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 4:20, etc.; trespass-offerings, Leviticus 5:15; peace-offerings, Leviticus 3; Leviticus 7:11-23), God had no pleasure, because none, no one, nor all combined, were an adequate propitiation. But when Christ came in the body which the Father had prepared, and to offer the sacrifice of Himself, the Father declared that in Him at every stage He was well pleased (Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5); and so because of His ‘obedience unto death,’ He became Lord over all. The clause, ‘a body hast Thou prepared for me,’ has created difficulty. The present Hebrew text is, ‘My ears hast Thou opened or pierced.’ The rendering ‘pierced’ is supposed to refer to the man who became a life-long servant under the circumstances described in Exodus 21:6, etc.; but this view is not favoured by the plural form ‘my ears,’ nor is the Hebrew word here used, the usual word for ‘piercing.’ ‘My ears hast Thou opened’ is therefore the better rendering, describing as it does hearty and devoted obedience, as in Isaiah 1:5. It is not easy to explain the change in the Septuagint. Perhaps the Greek text better represents to a Greek reader the general sense. Perhaps there has been confusion in copying Greek MSS., or possibly some later alteration of the Hebrew. Each theory has its advocates.


Verse 7

Hebrews 10:7. Then said I, Lo, I am come (in the volume or roll of the book it is written of me)—the book of the ancient Law from Moses downwards (see Acts 3:18; 1 Peter 1:11)—to do thy will, O God. To do the will of God is to obey His commands, and especially in this context the command to lay down His life (John 10:17; John 14:31). It is on this one thing the writer is insisting. That He might render this obedience a body was prepared for Him, and a nature capable of those sufferings both in heart and in life which were necessary to expiate sin, and fulfil the one righteousness whereby many were to be made righteous. This was, indeed, the chief design of His coming (Matthew 20:28; 1 Timothy 1:15).


Verse 8

Hebrews 10:8. The writer now comments on the quotation: Saying above as he (i.e Christ, see Hebrews 10:5) does say, etc. Which is more than the relative—it describes quality, and makes this remark apply to all offered under the Law—then and now (present tense).


Verse 9

Hebrews 10:9. Then saith he (literally, hath He said), He (that is, Christ) taketh away the first, that he may establish (set up) the second. Legal sacrifices are abolished that there may be substituted for them, the will—the good pleasure of God, which Christ came to do by the one sacrifice of Himself.


Verse 10

Hebrews 10:10. In which will, and in the accomplishment of it, we have been and are sanctified—freed from the guilt of sin (and so we are said to be sanctified in Christ Jesus, 1 Corinthians 1:2) and made morally fit for God’s service—by the offering of the body of Christ, ‘which Thou hast prepared for me,’ once for all.


Verses 11-14

Hebrews 10:11-14. With this appropriate result—that He is exalted as Priest and King to the right hand of his Father.

And every priest (‘high priest’ has less MS. authority and is less appropriate) standeth (not permitted to sit in God’s presence as if he were at home and his work were done), ministering and offering oftentimes, morning and evening, day after day, the same sacrifices, with no result. All that were offered had the same deficiency—that they could nohow and never strip off all round, take clean away the guilt of sins. Some sense of relief, some hope they might give; but the sin itself still clung to the worshippers.


Verse 12

Hebrews 10:12. But he (this Priest) having offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, took his seat on the right hand of God, an evidence of the completeness of His work, which left no room for another sacrifice or for the repetition of His own. His priesthood indeed continues, and the presentation of His sacrifice—‘the perpetual oblation;’ but His atoning work is over. ‘For ever,’ in perpetuity, uninterruptedly, may be connected with ‘took His seat,’ but the usage of this Epistle is to connect it with the words that precede, Hebrews 7:3, Hebrews 10:1.


Verse 13

Hebrews 10:13. Not a second time can He suffer: Only waiting as he now is till, in fulfilment of the Divine promise (Psalms 110:1), his enemies be made the footstool of his feet. The Jewish priest stood fearful and uneasy in the holy place—hastening to depart when the service was done as from a place to which he had only temporary access. Christ sits as at home, having completed His work and now awaiting His full reward.


Verse 14

Hebrews 10:14. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever, in unbroken continuance, them that are being sanctified. Here the word used is the present participle—not as in Hebrews 10:10, the perfect—and calls attention to the progressive purification that belongs to the redeemed. The word ‘sanctified’ implies both the imputed and the imparted righteousness of Christ. When the perfect is used, and we are said to be sanctified in Christ, imputed purification from the guilt of sin is the predominant thought; when the present is used, it points rather to the subjective process whereby Christ’s work is realized in the peace and holiness of believers.


Verses 15-17

Hebrews 10:15-17. And with this teaching agrees the old prophetic word which makes inward holiness and absolute forgiveness the most characteristic marks of the new covenant whereof the Holy Ghost also bears as witness—then follow passages that have been quoted before (Hebrews 8:12). The verbal differences in the two quotations are suggestive, though they do not change the general sense. For ‘with the house of Israel’ (Hebrews 8:10) we have now ‘with them,’ so that the promise is denationalized and wider. In the earlier passage the mind is first influenced, and then the heart; in the later, the heart is first changed and then the mind. Both are changed—is the truth common to the two passages. The order alone differs. Even this is suggestive. Renewal and forgiveness are really contemporaneous. The faith that renews is also the faith that justifies. The dead letter is written on the heart, and becomes a living spirit; and contemporaneous with this great change, and the effect of the same faith, sin is not only forgiven, it is forgotten and remembered no more. Other sacrifices are remembrances of sins; this sacrifice is the complete obliteration of them all.


Verse 18

Hebrews 10:18. And plainly where there is forgiveness of these, there is no need of further atonement; and the sacrifices of the Law which were instituted to meet and deepen man’s sense of a need they could not satisfy, and which secured at best outward forgiveness only, are for ever done away.

Here ends the threefold central argument of the Epistle, that Christ is a Priest after the order of Melchisedec, not of Aaron, Hebrews 7:1-25; that He is the Mediator of a better covenant, Hebrews 7:26 to Hebrews 9:12; and that His sacrifice is of everlasting efficacy and is fittingly followed by His kingdom, Hebrews 9:13 to Hebrews 10:18 : the first eighteen verses of chapter 10 being devoted to a repetition of the main positions and to the confirmation of them from the Old Testament.


Verses 19-21

Hebrews 10:19-21. Having therefore (on the grounds already named), brethren (again he puts himself in communion with those he addresses as in chapter 3), confidence by the blood of Jesus (see on chap. Hebrews 3:6) in respect to [going] the way into the holiest, a new and living way which he first opened (or inaugurated) for us through the veil, that is to say his flesh, and having a great priest (who is at once Priest and King) over the house of God, let us use the way that is opened in joyous assurance (Hebrews 10:22), let us hold fast our profession (Hebrews 10:23) and complete the graces of our character, faith and hope (Hebrews 10:22-23), by the love which is the crown of all (Hebrews 10:24). Through the perfection of the sacrifice of Christ and His position in heaven, where He has entered for us, we have holy filial confidence in approaching God,—a feeling that contrasts with the fear and bondage of Old Testament worshippers. Christ has preceded us (as forerunner, Hebrews 6:20), we follow along the way He has formed and opened, knowing ourselves to be sanctified by the one oblation of blood which was shed on earth and presented in heaven; and so we have access to the holy place, which is heaven itself (Hebrews 9:24): there is the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16), and there Jesus, the Minister of the holy places (Hebrews 8:2), appears for us. This way is further described as a new and living way,—‘new;’ literally, ‘newly slain;’ but in common Hellenistic usage the meaning is ‘newly made;’ and yet there is probably a reference to the fact that it is made with blood and yet living,—the opposite of what is lifeless and powerless,—the way opened by Christ which leads and carries on all that enter it into the home above. He who is ‘the Way and the Life’ is not dimly described in these half-contradictory words.

Through the veil—that is, his flesh, has been differently interpreted. The thing to note is that ‘through’ does not mark the instrument, but the intervening hindrance that needed to be removed or rent that man might enter—the way was through it unto God, so that the true parallel is Matthew 27:51. Christ came in ‘the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,’ and it is exactly the sin and the sinful flesh His incarnation and dying represent, that come between us and God; and when He died for sin, the veil was rent; and when He ascended and entered heaven for us, it was completely taken away. Thus it is that we are reconciled in the body of his flesh through death (Colossians 1:22).


Verses 19-39

Hebrews 10:19-39. For nearly four chapters the argument has remained unbroken by those exhortations which abound in the earlier parts of the Epistle. From chapter Hebrews 7:1 to Hebrews 10:18 the reasoning is close and continuous; but the one great purpose of the Epistle is never absent from the writer’s mind. Here he resumes the appeals with which the fourth chapter closes, and repeats with characteristic differences, as suggested by the train of the thought, the solemn warnings of chapter Hebrews 6:1-8.


Verse 21

Hebrews 10:21. A great priest—not high priest chiefly, for which the word high priest is always used in this Epistle, but a priest who is enthroned at God’s right hand—over the house of God—not a servant like Moses in the house (Hebrews 3:5-6), but over it, i.e over the universal Church, including both the heaven of glory (John 14:2) and the Church on earth. We are under Christ in our earthly pilgrimage, as we shall be in the home above; and indeed we have both privileges, for we reach the inmost recesses of the very sanctuary of God even now by faith and prayer (Hebrews 10:22).


Verse 22

Hebrews 10:22. Let us draw near—every hindrance created by God’s holiness and our own sin is removed—the way is opened—let us come to God in loving trust and holy service; and so worshippers are called ‘comers’ (unto God), Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 10:1, Hebrews 11:6with a true heart—free from hypocrisy and double-mindedness and in harmony with the realities of the Gospel (John 1:9), being what we seem and seeming what we ought to be, ‘the perfect heart’ of Isaiah 38:3in full assurance of faith, i.e without any diffidence as to our right of approach or our acceptance through the entrance and presence of our priest Hope and love come afterwards (Hebrews 10:23-24), ‘these three,’ the usual Pauline triad (1 Corinthians 13:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:8; Colossians 1:4). The three assurances of Scripture, of understanding (Colossians 2:2), of faith, and of hope, are great blessings which all Christians should try and perfect. All the errors and doubts, the discomforts and fears, of Christian men are traceable to the defectiveness of these graces. Israel’s right of access is not comparable to ours. They were sprinkled with blood at Sinai (chap. Hebrews 9:19); the priests washed hands and feet before every sacrificial service (Exodus 30:29), and the high priest washed his body twice on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16); but these were external sprinklings of blood and external washings, while ours are operations of grace. We are sprinkled as to our hearts, so as to be cleansed from an evil conscience—an inward justifying through sprinkling of the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:2) which was shed for this very purpose, and is therefore called the blood of sprinkling (chap. Hebrews 9:14): and our bodies washed with pure water, with reference still to the divers washings of the Law (see chap. Hebrews 9:10), whereby both people and priests were purified for approaching to God, but with deeper significance. The blood under the Law typified the cleansing of priest and people from the guilt of sin, and the washing typified the cleansing of them from the pollution and defilement of it; so our justification through the blood of Christ is inseparable from that inward renewal which we call a new and regenerate nature. The faith that justifies is always the beginning of a holy character: both are essential to acceptable service and to acceptable fellowship with God (for the need of this double work, see Titus 2:14; Titus 3:5). Some commentators understand by the washing of the body the rite of baptism (Delitzsch, Alford, etc.), and it is not improbable that this may have been in the writer’s mind; but it is not consistent with sound interpretation to make one rite the antitype of another. Antitypes are spiritual realities, and if baptism is implied at all it must be baptism in closest connection with the grace it symbolizes; in short, it must be the spiritual significance of the ordinance rather than the mere ordinance itself.


Verse 23

Hebrews 10:23. Thus forgiven and renewed and sprinkled with blood, washed as with water, heaven is ours, though only in hope (Romans 8:24), and what remains is that we hold fast the profession of our hope (the undoubted reading) without wavering. Those who refer the previous clause to baptism find here an argument for that view: ‘hold fast’ the hope which you expressed when you confessed Christ in baptism, became conformed to Him in His death, and vowed to walk henceforth in newness of life (Romans 6:3-15; Colossians 2:12; Galatians 3:27)—a good sense; and yet confession is generally used in this Epistle without specific reference to baptism (chap. Hebrews 4:14, Hebrews 3:1), and the change of reading from ‘faith’ to ‘hope’ points rather to the view that it is not chiefly the baptismal answer they are to remember, but the general hope in Christ which their daily life and speech have avowed to the world. Their hope is not to ‘waver,’ but is to be stedfast (chap. Hebrews 3:14), neither allured by worldly pleasures nor frightened by persecutions, doubting neither the greatness nor the certainty of the reward.

For faithful is he that promised—a common Pauline formula (1 Thessalonians 5:24; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 10:13, etc.). A lying god, a perjured god (chap. Hebrews 6:18), is not the God of the covenant or of the Bible.


Verse 24

Hebrews 10:24. And let us (who have the same right of approach, the same interest in one another’s holiness, the same common relation to one Lord—all still depending on Hebrews 10:19) well consider (the weakness, the capabilities, the dangers, the preciousness of the graces of one another) to provoke unto love, etc. (in the old sense of calling forth—literally, ‘to the sharpening or quickening of love,’ etc.), and kind beneficent works which are its appropriate fruit. Such provocation is the only provocation the Gospel recognises, and it must be carried on from proper principles and with Gospel motives so as to confirm our faith and hope. A loving Christian community striving for the faith of the Gospel is sure to be stedfast (Philippians 1:27-28)—a loving temper is a wonderful aid to faith. The connection between states of heart and belief is far closer than most suppose (Hebrews 10:25), as also is the connection between faith and the maintenance of fellowship with Christians.


Verse 25

Hebrews 10:25. Not forsaking (the original is stronger—not deserting, not leaving in the lurch) the assembling of yourselves together—a phrase found only here and in 2 Thessalonians 2:1, ‘Our gathering together unto Christ.’ The reference is not chiefly to the meetings of the Church as a Church, but to all the meetings of Christian brethren whereby brotherly love and kindly .service are promoted—as the manner of some is—an expression which shows that it is not of apostasy as yet the writer is speaking, but only of the indifference which comes perilously near it and is often its forerunner—but exhorting one another—comforting, strengthening, entreating, is the meaning of the term, both by word and by example. This is part of the pastor’s work (Romans 12:8; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:9), but not exclusively. All who have knowledge are to admonish one another (Romans 15:14). The same precept has been given before (Hebrews 3:12-13), and now it is enforced by the fact that ‘the day’ was seen to be approaching, the briefest description of Christ’s coming to judgment, found only here and in 1 Corinthians 3:13 : the day of days, the last of time, the first of eternity. And yet, as this day was seen to be approaching, the immediate reference is probably to the destruction of Jerusalem, of which there were signs already in the earth and the sky—the day so long foretold (Luke 21:22, and with its signs, Hebrews 8:12); the day which was to end the Jewish Church and State, and to punish that people for their rejection of the Messiah and their persecution of His followers; though perseverance unto the end (Matthew 24:13) was the only way of escaping the calamities that were coming upon their nation, and the still more dreadful calamities which await those who, having been once enlightened, apostatize from the Christian faith. ‘The day of the Lord’ is at once the day of complete salvation and the day of final judgment; and the expression may be used in a lower sense—it is the day of great delivering mercy, and it is the day of decisive judgment, and the day of our death.


Verse 26

Hebrews 10:26. For if we sin wilfully; rather, are wilfully continuing in sin. It is a word which needs to be noted. First of all there is no ‘if’ in the passage; it is stated as an actual case, not a supposed one. Then the emphasis is on ‘wilfully ‘and on continuance in sin. In a sense all sin implies the consent of the will for a time; and yet there is a distinction. Paul was a blasphemer and a persecutor; but he did it ignorantly in unbelief. Peter was a true disciple, and nevertheless he denied Christ with curses and oaths; but not wilfully, rather apparently through passing fear (Matthew 26:74-75). The expression seems taken from Numbers 15:30-31, where sinning wilfully is described as doing something presumptuously, with a high hand, and by one who despises the Word of the Lord. The willing sinner is one who will sin. Nor is it a single act that is denounced, but a permanent state (not an aorist, but the present), continuance in a sinful course, and such continuance as implies apostasy. Moreover, it is the state of one who has received the knowledge of the truth, and who knows it to be truth (not as in Paul’s case, and not as in the case of the murderers who crucified Christ ignorantly, and some of whom became obedient to the faith). They were enlightened; they received the word with joy; for a while they believed (Luke 8:13). And this ‘knowledge of the truth,’ it may be added, is found only here in this Epistle, though common in Paul’s writings. Such was their character; and yet they gave up the Gospel, trod under foot the Son of God, counted His blood an unholy, a common, even a profane thing, offered insult to the Spirit of grace. They rejected that one sacrifice which completed and ended the sacrifices of the ancient Law, against their better knowledge, and resolved to return to their former sinful life; and for them there is no longer remaining any sacrifice for sin.


Verse 27

Hebrews 10:27. The only thing left is a fearful award, an awful reservation, of judgment and fiery indignation (fervour of fire—flaming fire, 2 Thessalonians 1:8; the heat of the consuming fire of God Himself, chap. Hebrews 12:29), which shall devour those that oppose. The word ‘reservation,’ ‘award,’ is found only here in the New Testament, though the verb is not infrequent. It always means in common Greek reservation (in a literal or a figurative sense), and this is probably its meaning here. It describes not what is expected, but what will certainly be, and in truth what is already in reserve—‘a reception of judgment.’


Verse 28

Hebrews 10:28. This awful destiny which awaits wilful apostates, judgment without mercy, is now illustrated and enforced from the law.

He that hath despised (literally, any one having despised) Moses’ law dieth without mercy upon the testimony of (before) two or three witnesses—not in every case; it is simply a general principle. Moses’ Law attached to certain violations of it the doom of death. Some eleven kinds of sin were thus punished:—wilful murder, obstinate disobedience to parents, blasphemy, idolatry, etc. (Deuteronomy 17:2-7). The phrases of this verse are taken from this last instance, and, as the sentence of death is said in that case to be carried out with unusual severity, ‘without mercy’ no doubt refers to it. Idolatry was treason against Jehovah, and the idolater was an apostate from God. Apostasy from Christ answers to the wilful, deliberate idolatry of the Law, and is the sin condemned here with a condemnation proportioned to the fuller light and the greater privileges of the Gospel.


Verse 29

Hebrews 10:29. Of how much sorer punishment (a word used only here, and meaning punishment in vindication of the honour of a broken law; compare Acts 22:5). The phrases that follow describe the acts of the apostate Christian.

He tramples under foot (an expression of ruthless contempt) the Son of God—Him who has been proved to be above the mediator of the old covenant, and above angels and prophets. He treats the sacrifice of blood under the covenant as a common thing, nay, as a profane thing—as the blood of one who claimed to be what the apostate now denies Him to be, and who is, therefore, guilty of blasphemy—the blood, moreover, wherewith (or rather in which, i.e sprinkled with which) he was sanctified (Leviticus 16:19). What is this but the profanation of what he himself admitted to be most sacred. Who ‘was sanctified’? Christ, who did ‘sanctify Himself’? Hardly; for He is never said to sanctify Himself with his own blood; and, moreover, the word ‘sanctify’ is always used elsewhere in this Epistle in the sense of cleansing from the guilt of sin by the blood of sacrifice (chap. Hebrews 2:11, Hebrews 9:13, Hebrews 13:12). The person, therefore, said to be sanctified is the apostate himself. But in what sense? Not in the sense of the Divine purpose or will (Stier—see chap. Hebrews 10:10), not in the sense that he tramples upon blood wherewith we believers are sanctified (Calvin); but in the sense that he himself, the apostate, had claimed and had professed to be sanctified by it. So all the members of the first churches are addressed as saints elect, sanctified (1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Peter 1:2), for this was their professed character. Similarly Peter speaks of the fruitless professor as having been cleansed from his old sins (2 Peter 1:9), and of false teachers, who denied the Lord that bought them (2 Peter 2:1). What men seem to be, what men claim to be, what men are commonly recognised as being, is fairly quoted as an aggravation of their guilt.

They have done despite to (have insulted) the Spirit of grace—the Holy Spirit, the Giver of grace. To contemn mercy and holiness, to return insult to Him who gives them grace, is the sin of sins, for which, as the man has gone back to his old state, and continues in it, there can be no forgiveness; as in a previous passage we have learned that neither is there renewal (cp. Hebrews 6:6).


Verse 30

Hebrews 10:30. For. This punishment is certain, and is fulfilled and executed by God Himself. The first quotation in this verse follows neither the Hebrew nor the Greek text, but is the exact rendering adopted by Paul in Romans 12:19. The second is taken from Deuteronomy 32:36, and from the Psalms. The Hebrew of the word ‘judge’ has two meanings—to exercise judgment in punishing others, and to exercise judgment on behalf of others. The second sense may be seen in Psalms 82:3-4 (compare margin), Psalms 43:1, 1 Samuel 24:12; 1 Samuel 24:15, and is appropriate to the passage in Deuteronomy 32:35-36, as well as here. He will execute judgment on behalf of His people, and against those who become traitors and blasphemers. God is Judge, is the first truth; and His judgment will be executed, is the second.


Verse 31

Hebrews 10:31. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. His hands represent His power for work, whether in love or in wrath. To fall into His hands in faith is to have peace; but to fall into His hands in punishment is dreadful.


Verse 32

Hebrews 10:32. Call to remembrance (rather, call up and keep in remembrance) those former days in which, when first enlightened (as in chap. Hebrews 6:4), ye endured, without losing heart or hope (so the word implies), a great fight (a manifest struggle) of suffering, i.e consisting in suffering, not with suffering as your foe (Hebrews 10:34, where it is said that they suffered with those that were bound).


Verses 32-39

Hebrews 10:32-39. The argument now takes a turn, as in chap. Hebrews 6:9. The writer hopes better things. He bids them to remember again and again their earlier struggles and their hope of a blessed reward (Hebrews 10:32-34). He exhorts them not to give up their confidence (Hebrews 10:35), which needs patient waiting for God (Hebrews 10:36); the time required for it, indeed, is short (Hebrews 10:37), though it requires faith and stedfastness (Hebrews 10:38). To those who owe their all to faith, and who mean, God helping them, still to believe, and so to secure their souls from the ruin that will otherwise overtake them, he affirms they belong (Hebrews 10:39).


Verse 33

Hebrews 10:33. Partly in that ye became a spectacle of shame—‘a theatrical spectacle’—a term taken from those who were exposed in the theatre to shameful punishment (1 Corinthians 4:11)—in the scornful taunts (you suffered) and in active persecution, and partly in that ye became partakers (partners) with those who were living and suffering in this way. The word ‘living’ is not passive, but is repeatedly found in the Epistles to describe the actual condition of a man’s life (chap. Hebrews 13:18; 2 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Timothy 3:15). Such ‘reproach and affliction’ is recorded in Acts 5:18; Acts 5:40; Acts 8:3; Acts 11:19; Acts 22:19; Acts 26:10-11, and in the history of Paul himself (Acts 21:27). All those instances must have been familiar to Hebrew believers.


Verse 34

Hebrews 10:34. For ye had compassion upon those who were in bonds, and ye also took joyfully the spoiling (the plundering) of your goods, knowing that ye have yourselves—or for yourselves—the alternate reading (‘in yourselves’) is certainly wrong, and ‘in heaven’ is probably wrong, though it makes a good sense, and is implied in the shorter reading a better and an abiding substance (possession. Compare Acts 4:32; Luke 12:15, where a form of the same word is used).


Verse 35

Hebrews 10:35. Cast not away, therefore, your confidence (the faith and hope and boldness with which you confessed Christ, and) which hath (hath this quality—is among the things that have) a great recompense of reward.


Verse 36

Hebrews 10:36. For ye have need of patience—an emphatic word; when used in relation to suffering, it describes the patient endurance which bears all with stedfastness and hope; when used in relation to active work, it describes the ‘patient continuance in well-doing’ (Romans 2:7) which endures (a form of the same word) to the end; the former is the commoner meaning, and both seem to be combined in this passage—that ye may do the will of God and receive the promise. The doing and the receiving are not separated in time; the one crowns the other. ‘The promise’ means the promised reward, which in a sense is already yours; but the full possession is still future, and the present enjoyment broken and imperfect. Hence the need of patience and kith, as is shown by Old Testament teaching.


Verse 37

Hebrews 10:37. For yet a very little while—a phrase that is taken from the Greek of Isaiah 26:20, where it is translated, in E. V., ‘for a little moment’ (literally, for a little time, how little).

He that cometh—‘He that is to come’—‘the coming One’—the name of Christ under both economies—He was called ‘the coming One,’ and He is so still. The prophecy is taken from Habakkuk, where it refers to the vision of the fell of the Chaldean monarchy, a type for the time of a great persecuting power, and of the setting up in immediate sequence (as is common in prophecy) of the Divine kingdom.

Will come—though it tarry, wait for it. The Greek of the Septuagint makes the object of the vision a person, and the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews makes the person the Messiah. The day of Jehovah in the one covenant becomes the day of the Lord in the other.


Verse 38

Hebrews 10:38. But (or now) my righteous one (he who belongs to God’s people) by faith shall live. As it is by faith he first gets life (as is told us in Romans 1:16-17, and Galatians 3:11), so it is by faith that life is preserved in the midst of judgments and of delays that are incident to them.

But if he (A. V. ‘any man’)—Owen and Gill, Winer and De Wette, prefer ‘he,’ which is simpler and in harmony with the context; the same person is described in the two clauses—draw back—the rendering of the Septuagint adopts apparently a different reading of the Hebrew text, as it does to a small extent in the following clause. The reference of those two clauses to the same person need create no difficulty. The apostasy of a professed Christian is always possible, or warnings would be needless: not necessarily the apostasy of a true Christian. The perseverance of the elect is one thing; the perseverance of a particular person is to us another.


Verse 39

Hebrews 10:39. But we are not of them that draw back unto perdition (destruction, Romans 9:22; Philippians 1:28; Philippians 3:19, etc.), but of them that believe. ‘We’—the writer again includes himself with them as true believers, though subject to the same law as here is applied to his own case (‘I keep my body under, lest, having preached the Gospel to others, I should be myself rejected’). ‘That draw back’—‘that believe’—each expression describes a quality or character which originates in apostasy or faith respectively. We are not of the character that drawing back produces; we are of the character that faith produces.—Unto the saving of the soul. This last phrase is very striking—the gaining of possession of the soul. As the backslider loses his soul,—gets, instead of eternal life, never-ending death, which yet is not annihilation,—so the man of faith wins back his soul from impending perdition, gains a possession that is truly his. The man who is not God’s is not even his own; his entire personality is the slave and the property of another.

 


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Bibliography Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Hebrews 10:4". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/hebrews-10.html. 1879-90.

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