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Nave's Topical Bible - Apostasy; Backsliders; Faith; Thompson Chain Reference - Perdition; Seven; Stability; Steadfastness; Steadfastness-Instability; Torrey's Topical Textbook - Apostates;
Verse Hebrews 10:39. But we are not of them who draw back — Ουκ εσμεν ὑποστολης - , αλλα πιστεως· "We are not the cowards, but the courageous." I have no doubt of this being the meaning of the apostle, and the form of speech requires such a translation; it occurs more than once in the New Testament. So, Galatians 3:7: οι εκ πιστεως, they who are of the faith, rather the faithful, the believers; Romans 3:26: ο εκ πιστεως, the believer; Romans 2:8: οι εξ επιθειας, the contentious; in all which places the learned reader will find that the form of speech is the same. We are not cowards who slink away, and notwithstanding meet destruction; but we are faithful, and have our souls saved alive. The words περιποιησις ψυχης signify the preservation of the life. See the note, "Ephesians 1:14". He intimates that, notwithstanding the persecution was hot, yet they should escape with their lives.
1. IT is very remarkable, and I have more than once called the reader's attention to it, that not one Christian life was lost in the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. Every Jew perished, or was taken captive; all those who had apostatized, and slunk away from Christianity, perished with them: all the genuine Christians escaped with their lives. This very important information, which casts light on many passages in the New Testament, and manifests the grace and providence of God in a very conspicuous way, is given both by Eusebius and Epiphanius. I shall adduce their words: "When the whole congregation of the Church in Jerusalem, according to an oracle given by revelation to the approved persons among them before the war, κατα τινα χρησμον τοις αυτοθι δοκιμοις δι' αποκαλυψεως δοθεντα προ του πολεμου, μεταναστηναι της πολεως, και τινα της περαιας πολιν οικειν κεκελευσμενου, Πελλαν αυτην ονομαζουσιν, were commanded to depart from the city, and inhabit a certain city which they call Pella, beyond Jordan, to which, when all those who believed in Christ had removed from Jerusalem, and when the saints had totally abandoned the royal city which is the metropolis of the Jews; then the Divine vengeance seized them who had dealt so wickedly with Christ and his apostles, and utterly destroyed that wicked and abominable generation." EUSEB. Hist. Eccles, l. iii. c. v. vol. i. p. 93. Edit. a Reading.
St. Epiphanius, in Haeres. Nazaren, c. 7, says: "The Christians who dwelt in Jerusalem, being forewarned by Christ of the approaching siege, removed to Pella."
The same, in his book De Ponderibus et Mensuris, says: "The disciples of Christ being warned by an angel, removed to Pella; and afterwards, when Adrian rebuilt Jerusalem, and called it after his own name, AElia Colonia, they returned thither." As those places in Epiphanius are of considerable importance, I shall subjoin the original: Εκειθεν γαρ ἡ αρχη γεγονε μετα την απο των Ἱεροσολυμων μεταστασιν, παντων των μαθητων των εν Πελλῃ ῳκηκοτων, Χριστου φησαντος καταλειψαι τα Ἱεροσολυμα, και αναχωρησαι, επειδη ημελλε πασχειν πολιορκιαν. EPIPH. adver. Haeres., l. i. c. 7, vol. i. p. 123. Edit. Par. 1622. The other place is as follows: Ἡνικα γαρ εμελλεν ἡ πολις ἁλισκεσθαι ὑπο των Ῥωμαιων, προεχρηματισθησαν ὑπο Αγγελου παντες οἱ μαθηται μεταστηναι απο της πολεως, μελλουσης αρδην απολλυσθαι. Οἱ τινες και μετανασται γενομενοι ῳκησαν εν Πελλῃ - περαν του Ιορδανου, ἡ τις εκ Δεκαπολεως λεγεται ειναι. Ibid. De Pon. et Mens., vol. ii. p. 171.
These are remarkable testimonies, and should be carefully preserved. Pella, it appears, was a city of Coelesyria, beyond Jordan, in the district of Decapolis. Thus it is evident that these Christians held fast their faith, preserved their shields, and continued to believe to the saving of their lives as well as to the saving of their souls. As the apostle gives several hints of the approaching destruction of Jerusalem, it is likely that this is the true sense in which the words above are to be understood.
2. I have already said a little, from Hebrews 10:25, on the importance of social worship. PUBLIC worship is not of less consequence. Were it not for public, private worship would soon be at an end. To this, under God, the Church of Christ owes its being and its continuance. Where there is no public worship there is no religion. It is by this that God is acknowledged; and he is the universal Being; and by his bounty and providence all live; consequently, it is the duty of every intelligent creature publicly to acknowledge him, and offer him that worship which himself has prescribed in his word. The ancient Jews have some good maxims on this subject which may be seen in Schoettgen. I shall quote a few.
In Berachoth, fol. 8, it is written: "Rabbi Levi said, He who has a synagogue in his city, and does not go thither to pray, shall be esteemed a bad citizen," or a bad neighbour. And to this they apply the words of the prophet, Jeremiah 12:14: Thus saith the Lord against all my evil neighbours-behold, I will pluck them out of their land.
In Mechilta, fol. 48: "Rabbi Eliezer, the son of Jacob, said," speaking as from God, "If thou wilt come to my house, I will go to thy house; but if thou wilt not come to my house, I will not enter thy house. The place that my heart loveth, to that shall my feet go." We may safely add, that those who do not frequent the house of God can never expect his presence or blessing in their own.
In Taanith, fol. 11, it is said that "to him who separates himself from the congregation shall two angels come, and lay their hands upon his head and say, This man, who separates himself from the congregation, shall not see the comfort which God grants to his afflicted Church." The wisest and best of men have always felt it their duty and their interest to worship God in public. As there is nothing more necessary, so there is nothing more reasonable; he who acknowledges God in all his ways may expect all his steps to be directed. The public worship of God is one grand line of distinction between the atheist and the believer. He who uses not public worship has either no God, or has no right notion of his being; and such a person, according to the rabbins, is a bad neighbour; it is dangerous to live near him, for neither he nor his can be under the protection of God. No man should be forced to attend a particular place of worship, but every man should be obliged to attend some place; and he who has any fear of God will not find it difficult to get a place to his mind.
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Hebrews 10:39". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/hebrews-10.html. 1832.
Warning against turning back (10:26-39)
Those who are tempted to go back to Judaism are reminded that apart from Christ’s work there is no way of salvation. If they reject him, they can expect only judgment (26-27). Even under the old covenant rebellion met with death. How much worse will be the punishment of those who have experienced the grace of God through Christ, yet deliberately reject and disown it (28-31).
The writer encourages his readers not to forsake Christ, by reminding them of what they have suffered for his sake. They have persevered through insults, violence, imprisonments and robberies, because of their confidence of a lasting reward (32-35). Endurance is essential, since there must always be some waiting time before a promise can be fulfilled. For Christians the promised reward will be at Christ’s return, when he judges between those who persevere in faith and those who turn back (36-39).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Hebrews 10:39". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/hebrews-10.html. 2005.
But we are not of them ... - We who are true Christians do not belong to such a class. In this the apostle expresses the fullest conviction that none of those to whom he wrote would apostatize. The case which he had been describing was only a supposable case, not one which he believed would occur. He had only been stating what “must” happen if a sincere Christian should apostatize. But he did not mean to say that this “would” occur in regard to them. or in any case. He made a statement of a general principle under the divine administration, and he designed that this should be a means of keeping them in the path to life. What could be a more effectual means than the assurance that if a Christian should apostatize “he must inevitably perish forever?” See the sentiment in this verse illustrated at length in the notes on Hebrews 6:4-10.
(1) It is a subject of rejoicing that we are brought under a more perfect system than the ancient people of God were. We have not merely a rude outline - a dim and shadowy sketch of religion, as they had. We are not now required to go before a bloody altar every day, and lead up a victim to be slain. We may come to the altar of God feeling that the great sacrifice has been made, and that the last drop of blood to make atonement has been shed. A pure, glorious, holy body was prepared for the Great Victim, and in that body he did the will of God and died for our sins; Hebrews 10:1-10.
(2) Like that Great Redeemer, let us do the will of God. It may lead us through sufferings, and we may he called to meet trials strongly resembling his. But the will of God is to be done alike in bearing trials, and in prayer and praise. “Obedience” is the great thing which he demands; which he has always sought. When his ancient people led up in faith, a lamb to the altar, still he preferred obedience to sacrifice; and when his Son came into the world to teach us how to live, and how to die, still the great thing was obedience. He came to illustrate the nature of perfect conformity to the will of God, and he did that by a most holy life, and by the most patient submission to all the trials appointed him in his purpose to make atonement for the sins of the world. Our model, alike in holy living and holy dying, is to be the Saviour; and like him we are required to exercise simple submission to the will of God; Hebrews 10:1-10.
(3) The Redeemer looks calmly forward to the time when all his foes will be brought in submission to his feet; Hebrews 10:12, Hebrews 10:13. He is at the right hand of God. His great work on earth is done. He is to suffer no more. He is exalted beyond the possibility of pain and sorrow, and he is seated now on high looking to the period when all his foes shall be subdued and he will be acknowledged as universal Lord.
(4) The Christian has exalted advantages. He has access to the mercy-seat of God. He may enter by faith into the “Holiest” - the very heavens where God dwells. Christ, his great High Priest, has entered there; has sprinkled over the mercy-seat with his blood, and ever lives there to plead his cause. There is no privilege granted to people like that of a near and constant access to the mercy-seat. This is the privilege not of a few; and not to be enjoyed but once in a year, or at distant intervals, but which the most humble Christian possesses, and which may be enjoyed at all times, and in all places. There is not a Christian so obscure, so poor, so ignorant that he may not come and speak to God; and there is not a situation of poverty, want, or wo, where he may not make his wants known with the assurance that his prayers will be heard through faith in the great Redeemer; Hebrews 10:19-20.
(5) When we come before God, let our hearts be pure; Hebrews 10:22. The body has been washed with pure water in baptism, emblematic of the purifying influences of the Holy Spirit. Let the conscience be also pure. Let us lay aside every unholy thought. Our worship will not be acceptable; our prayers will not be heard, if it is not so. “If we regard iniquity in our hearts the Lord will not hear us.” No matter though there be a great High Priest; no matter though he have offered a perfect sacrifice for sin, and no matter though the throne of God be accessible to people, yet if there is in the heart the love of sin; if the conscience is not pure, our prayers will not be heard. Is this not one great reason why our worship is so barren and unprofitable?
(6) It is the duty of Christians to exhort one another to mutual fidelity; Hebrews 10:24. We should so far regard the interests of each other, as to strive to promote our mutual advance in piety. The church is one. All true Christians are brethren. Each one has an interest in the spiritual welfare of every one who loves the Lord Jesus, and should strive to increase his spiritual joy and usefulness. A Christian brother often goes astray and needs kind admonition to reclaim him; or he becomes disheartened and needs encouragement to cheer him or his Christian way.
(7) Christians should not neglect to assemble together for the worship of God; Hebrews 10:25. It is a duty which they owe to God to acknowledge him publicly, and their own growth in piety is essentially connected with public worship. It is impossible for a man to secure the advancement of religion in his soul who habitually neglects public worship, and religion will not flourish in any community where this duty is not performed. There are great benefits growing out of the worship of God, which can be secured in no other way. God has made us social beings, and he intends that the social principle shall be called into exercise in religion, as well as in other things. We have common wants, and it is proper to present them together before the mercy-seat. We have received common blessings in our creation, in the providence of God, and in redemption, and it is proper that we should assemble together and render united praise to our Maker for his goodness.
Besides, in any community, the public worship of God does more to promote intelligence, order, peace, harmony, friendship, neatness of apparel, and purity and propriety of contact between neighbors, than anything else can, and for which nothing else can be a compensation. Every Christian, and every other man, therefore, is bound to lend his influence in thus keeping up the worship of God, and should always be in his place in the sanctuary. The particular thing in the exhortation of the apostle is, that this should be done “even in the face of persecution.” The early Christians felt so much the importance of this, that we are told they were accustomed to assemble at night. Forbidden to meet in public houses of worship, they met in caves, and even when threatened with death they continued to maintain the worship of God. It may be added, that so important is this, that it should be preserved even when the preaching of the gospel is not enjoyed. Let Christians assemble together. Let them pray and offer praise. Let them read the Word of God, and an appropriate sermon. Even this will exert an influence on them and on the community of incalculable importance, and will serve to keep the flame of piety burning on the altar of their own hearts, and in the community around them.
(8) We may see the danger of indulging in any sin; Hebrews 10:26-27. None can tell to what it may lead. No matter how small and unimportant it may appear at the time, yet if indulged in it will prove that there is no true religion, and will lead on to those greater offences which make shipwreck of the Christian name, and ruin the soul. He that “wilfully” and deliberately sins “after he professes to have received the knowledge of the truth,” shows that his religion is but a name, and that he has never known any thing of its power.
(9) We should guard with sacred vigilance against everything which might lead to apostasy; Hebrews 10:26-29. If a sincere Christian “should” apostatize from God, he could never be renewed and saved. There would remain no more sacrifice for sins; there is no other Saviour to be provided; there is no other Holy Spirit to be sent down to recover the apostate. Since, therefore; so fearful a punishment would follow apostasy from the true religion, we may see the guilt of everything which has a “tendency” to it. That guilt is to be measured by the fearful consequences which would ensue if it were followed out; and the Christian should, therefore, tremble when he is on the verge of committing any sin whose legitimate tendency would be such a result.
(10) we may learn from the views presented in this chapter Hebrews 10:26, Hebrews 10:29, the error of those who suppose that a true Christian may fall away and be renewed again and saved. If there is any principle clearly settled in the New Testament, it is, that if a sincere Christian should apostatize, “he must perish.” There would be no possibility of renewing him. He would have tried the only religion which saves people, and it would in his case have failed; he would have applied to the only blood which purifies the soul, and it would have been found inefficacious; he would have been brought under the only influence which renews the soul, and that would not have been sufficient to save him. What hope could there be? What would then save him if these would not? To what would he apply to what Saviour, to what blood of atonement, to what renewing and sanctifying agent, if the gospel, and the Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit had all been tried in vain? There are few errors in the community more directly at variance with the express teachings of the Bible than the belief that a Christian may fall away and he again renewed.
(11) Christians, in their conflicts, their trials, and their temptations, should be strengthened by what is past; Hebrews 10:32-35. They should remember the days when they were afflicted and God sustained them, when they were persecuted and he brought them relief. It is proper also to remember for their own encouragement; now, the spirit of patience and submission which they were enabled to manifest in those times of trial, and the sacrifices which they were enabled to make. They may find in such things evidence that they are the children of God; and they should find in their past experience proof that he who has borne them through past trials, is able to keep them unto his everlasting kingdom.
(12) we need patience - but it is only for a little time; Hebrews 10:36-39. Soon all our conflicts will be over. “He that shall come will come and will not tarry.” He will come to deliver his suffering people from all their trials. He will come to rescue the persecuted from the persecutor; the oppressed from the oppressor; the down-trodden from the tyrant; and the sorrowful and sad from their woes. The coming of the Saviour to each one of the afflicted is the signal of release from sorrow, and his advent at the end of the world will be proof that all the trials of the bleeding and persecuted church are at an end. The time too is short before he will appear. In each individual case it is to be but a brief period before he will come to relieve the sufferer from his woes, and in the case of the church at large the time is not far remote when the Great Deliverer shall appear to receive “the bride,” the church redeemed, to the “mansions” which he has gone to prepare.
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Hebrews 10:39". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/hebrews-10.html. 1870.
39. But we are not of them which draw back, etc. The Apostle made a free use of the Greek version, which was most suitable to the doctrine which he was discussing; and he now wisely applies it. He had before warned them, lest by forsaking the Church they should alienate themselves from the faith and the grace of Christ; he now teaches them that they had been called for this end, that they might not draw back. And he again sets faith and drawing back in opposition the one to the other, and also the preservation of the soul to its perdition.
Now let it be noticed that this truth belongs also to us, for we, whom God has favored with the light of the Gospel, ought to acknowledge that we have been called in order that we may advance more and more in our obedience to God, and strive constantly to draw nearer to him. This is the real preservation of the soul, for by so doing we shall escape eternal perdition.
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 10:39". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/hebrews-10.html. 1840-57.
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very substance of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect ( Hebrews 10:1 ).
Now notice the law was only a shadow of the good things to come. The value of the studying of Leviticus and the studying of the law, to the Christian, is that it foreshadows the work of Jesus Christ, the offering of Jesus Christ, and the high priestly nature of Jesus Christ. The shadow, it's not the substance. Paul tells us this in Colossians, chapter 2, where Christ through His death blotted out the handwriting and the ordinances that were against us, nailing them to His cross and triumphing over them in it. Therefore, don't let any man judge you in respect of meat, or drink, or new moons, or holy days or Sabbath days, for these were all a shadow of things to come, but the substance is Christ.
So Christ standing here in this point in history. His shadow was cast over the past history. The shadow of Christ is there in the law and in the sacrifices. You can see that they foreshadow Him, but they were only the shadow. Jesus is the substance that casts the shadow. And so there is a real substance in Jesus. These things were only foreshadowing His coming. Once He came they were no longer necessary, no longer necessary to have the shadows, for we now have the substance in Jesus.
For if they could have been perfect sacrifices that had put away the sins then would they not have ceased to be offered? ( Hebrews 10:2 ).
In other words, they would have done it once in Moses' day and that would have been it. They wouldn't have to offer animals every day. They wouldn't have to offer animals once a year in the Holy of Holies. It would have been sufficient had they been able to perfect man.
"Then would they not have ceased to be offered?"
Because the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins ( Hebrews 10:2 ).
Now this was under the old covenant, and had it been effective, once being cleansed, they should have no more conscience of sins. Showing that it did not bring that to them under the old covenant, however, the glorious thing is that in this new covenant through Jesus Christ, once being purged, we really should not have any more consciousness of sins. There is this purging. It's complete, the cleansing in the blood of Jesus Christ is complete, and the blood of Jesus Christ God's Son cleanses. In the Greek, it is present perfect tense. It is continually cleansing us from all sins. What a glorious thing, that continual cleansing by Jesus Christ.
But in those sacrifices there was a reminder again made for sins every year ( Hebrews 10:3 ).
Every year when the priest would go in, you'd be reminded again of your guilt and of your sin.
For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins ( Hebrews 10:4 ).
It is impossible that they could actually take away your sins. They made what they called the kophar for sins. In the Hebrew, kophar, which is translated atonement. It is probably a bad translation. It should be translated covered. It made a covering for their sins, but it did not put their sins away. It only covered their sins.
Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me ( Hebrews 10:5 ):
Now this is a quotation from Psalm 46 . However, the latter part of the quotation, "a body thou hast prepared me," is not as your King James reads, but this was translated from the Septuagint version.
The Septuagint version of the scriptures was a Hebrew to Greek translation of the Old Testament that was made by seventy scholars two hundred years before the birth of Christ. After the Babylonian captivity, the Hebrew language was almost dead. It was only known by the biblical scholars. They were the only ones that used the Hebrew language. The Jews, themselves, usually spoke the Koine or they spoke Greek, but Hebrew was only for biblical scholars. They felt that the people should have the Bible in a language they could understand, and so they translated the Old Testament scriptures into Greek. It is called the Septuagint. So whenever you read of the Septuagint version, that is what it is, a translation by seventy scholars of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek two hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ.
This quotation, as do others in the New Testament, come from the Septuagint version, and interestingly enough, "Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not," or you don't care for, "but you have prepared a body for me."
That is, Jesus, when He came into the world, God prepared a body for Him. In order that in this body, He might become the perfect, complete sacrifice for man.
In burnt offerings [the Lord said in Psalms] and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God ( Hebrews 10:6-7 ).
So, this is declared of Jesus Christ. He declared, "I have come. In the volume of the book it is written of Me." The Old Testament is all about Jesus Christ. He is all the way through, interwoven in all of the types, in all of the shadows, in all of the books. It is one continuous story in the preparing of the hearts of man for the coming of the Messiah. The prophecies, the hopes, all prefigured there in the Old Testament.
He speaks here of the burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin. There were five offerings that were made in the Old Testament. They were necessary to bring man into fellowship with God. It is the purpose of God that man should fellowship with Him. God's purpose is that man should know Him, that he should fellowship with Him and that he might cooperate with God in the accomplishing of God's purposes here on the earth.
Now sin creates a breach between man and God. Sin separates man from God. Sinful man cannot be one with a holy God.
Paul, writing to the Corinthians, who lived in that city that was so debauched, that the word Corinthian became a synonym for a totally debauched person. Every night a thousand priestesses would come into the city of Corinth from the Acropolis above Corinth, the temple there of Aphrodite. These priestesses in the temple of Aphrodite were prostitutes. And a thousand of them, a thousand streetwalkers in the city every night. And so Paul warned the Corinthian believers concerning having a relations with a harlot. He said, "Don't you realize that if you have relationships with a harlot you become one with her? And if you are one with Christ then you are making Christ a partaker and bringing Him as one with a harlot." He said, "You can't do that. What fellowship hath light with darkness? Christ with Belial and all." He is warning against these things. You are to be one with God and if you then go out and sin you are making God a partner in your sin. That can't be. Sinful man cannot have fellowship with a holy God. So before fellowship can be experienced, sin has to be put away.
In the first covenant there were two of the offerings that dealt with sin. The first was the sin offering, which is sins general. The second was the trespass offering where I had deliberately trespassed against the law of God. That took a different type of a sacrifice. But they had to be taken care of before I could have fellowship with God. But once I had made the sin and trespass offerings, then I could bring the burnt offerings.
You notice the burnt offering here, and then the sin offerings. The burnt offerings were offerings of consecration where I would consecrate my life to God. This was the burnt offering, and it was symbolic of just consecrating my life to God. Then there was the meal offering, which was the consecration of my service to God as I brought the grain that I had cultivated and grown. And they baked it into bread and offered it unto God.
Finally, I could offer the peace offering, which was communion. I could now be made one with God. My sins have been put away. My trespasses have been put away. I've consecrated my life and my service to God, and now I come into oneness with God and I offer the peace offering. And I sit down and eat with God the peace offering. I give Him His portion to eat, the best part of it, being a gracious host, and I then partake of the rest and we eat together. And as we are both nourished by the same lamb, then I become a part of God and God becomes a part of me, and I have this fellowship.
So God was tired. He would not accept anymore of these sacrifices.
Offering and burnt offerings and the offering for sin thou wouldst not, neither did you have pleasure therein; those things that were offered by the law. Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he might establish the second ( Hebrews 10:8-9 ).
The first covenant that God established with man is over. You cannot come to God by the first covenant.
There are always those who want to come to God on their terms. Hey, you're not calling the shots! You're in no position to call the shots. "God, I'll do this for You if You'll do this, this and this." You're trying to bargain with God or come to God on your terms, and it can't be done. The only way you can come to God is as a guilty sinner and cast yourself upon His mercy and grace and just ask for mercy and grace. You've got to come on His terms, and His terms are that you come through Jesus Christ.
The Old Covenant is disannulled; it's passed away. It is no longer effective. In establishing of the new covenant, He has put away the first. So, taketh away the first that He might establish the second
By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all ( Hebrews 10:10 ).
So, we have been sanctified through the body of Jesus Christ. I am made righteous through Jesus Christ. I am accepted in Jesus Christ. All that I have in my relationship with God today must and does come through Jesus Christ. He is my peace. He is my righteousness. He is my sin offering. He is my sin offerer. He is everything. He is my mediator. Jesus is everything to me. Without Him I have nothing. I have no access to God. I am alienated from God. I am hopelessly and helplessly lost apart from Jesus Christ.
Every priest stands daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins ( Hebrews 10:11 ):
So they're busy. They are kept busy all day long offering one sin offering after another; one meal offering after another as the various people came in. But it is . . . he's pointing out these offerings cannot take away sins.
But this man [Jesus Christ], after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God ( Hebrews 10:12 );
It's complete. He doesn't have to do it every day. He doesn't have to be crucified over and over. The death of Christ is sufficient once and for all.
From henceforth [or from now on] just waiting until his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he has perfected for ever them that are sanctified ( Hebrews 10:13-14 ).
Isn't that glorious? By His one offering we have been perfected forever. Thank God!
Whereof the Holy Ghost also is witness to us: for after he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their hearts, and their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more ( Hebrews 10:15-17 ).
David cried out, "Oh how happy is the man whose transgressions are forgiven. Oh how happy is the man whose sins are covered. Oh how happy is the man to whom God does not impute iniquity." All I can say to that is, "Amen!" How happy is the man whose sins and iniquities, God said, I will remember no more.
Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin ( Hebrews 10:18 ).
Where you've already had the remission once and for all, perfected in Christ, there is no need for any further offering for sin.
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus ( Hebrews 10:19 ),
I can enter in where He entered in, right in to the presence of the Father. Coming to the Father through the blood of Jesus Christ, I can enter into the Holy of Holies. I can come into the presence of God through Him. The door is open. Jesus Christ has made the way whereby we can come into the presence of God and fellowship with Him.
And so, "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,"
By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having a high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart full of assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised ( Hebrews 10:20-23 );
Notice now this new covenant: hold fast, hang on, don't worry, because God is faithful who made the promises. This new covenant is predicated upon the promises of God, and God is faithful who has made these promises to you. So hold fast this profession of faith. We have a great high priest.
The danger was these Jews who had received Jesus, returning back to Judaism, taking a lamb, dragging a lamb to the priest again to make a sin offering for them. That was their danger.
Don't underestimate how deeply rooted traditions are, especially among the Jewish people, and even to the present day. Even non-believing Jews keep Sabbath; eat kosher. It is so deeply a part of their tradition that they guard it fiercely. And I know many, many Jews that would become Christians, but they are afraid they would no longer be a Jew. They don't understand that to become a Christian is to become a completed Jew. For Jesus was the Messiah that God had promised in their scriptures. And they need not fear to cease being a Jew by becoming a Christian. In fact, they'd probably become a better Jew than they ever were. And yet, their rabbis have determined that to be a Jew and a Christian are mutually exclusive; you cannot be both. But they are trying to protect their national identity and they fight fiercely. For it is deeply, deeply ingrained.
So the time of the writing of the Hebrews, those who had made a profession of Christ, some of them sort going back. So the encouragement is to hold fast the profession; don't waiver. And again, pointing not to our faithfulness, but the faithfulness of God. He who has promised is faithful.
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works ( Hebrews 10:24 ):
And so that's as we're together exhorting each other for a greater love and good works.
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching ( Hebrews 10:25 ).
Consider each other to provoke each other to love, to good works, and then not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, in order that we might receive exhortation. Actually, he is saying we should gather together all the more as we see the day of the Lord approaching. So I don't know how we can do any more than we are every night of the week around here and during the day, but anyhow . . . That's the purpose of gathering and assembling ourselves together is for mutual encouragement, the strengthening of each other, the exhorting of each other.
For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins ( Hebrews 10:26 ),
This is talking to the Jew who is wavering in his faith in Jesus Christ and who is seeking to go back to the priest with a sin offering. There is no further sacrifice. The lamb will do nothing. For the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is complete. It is once and for all. And there is no further sacrifice that can be offered, of a goat or a lamb or a calf or anything else. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is complete. There remains no other sacrifice for your sins. You can't go back to the old system.
[All that remains is] the certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries ( Hebrews 10:27 ).
Now, this judgment and fiery indignation is going to take place, much of it, during the Great Tribulation. Notice it is going to devour God's adversaries.
He that despised Moses' law [that is, the first covenant that has been set aside] died without mercy under two or three witnesses ( Hebrews 10:28 ):
Very severe punishment, capital punishment for those who despised the first covenant that God established through Moses.
Of how much worse punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant [this new covenant], wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite to the Spirit of grace? ( Hebrews 10:29 )
So the three things: he's trodden under foot the Son of God, counted the blood of Christ as nothing, and has done despite to the Spirit of grace.
For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will repay, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall in the hands of the living God ( Hebrews 10:30-31 ).
Now two things can be done concerning your sins. One, by your coming to Jesus Christ, they can be totally and completely washed away. Totally forgiven through Him, accepting this new covenant that God has established, your sins are completely put away. If that does not take place, then the second thing that will happen concerning your sins is that you will stand before God and be judged, and your sins will condemn you.
Years ago, I was told the story of a wonderful prince, the heir to the kingdom, who had married a wife who proved to be undeserving of him and of his love. During a time of rebellion, she went out and lived in open adultery with the leader of the rebellion. When the rebellion was subdued, the princess was brought to justice and the court decreed that she should die in the tiger's pit. Outside of the city, in a clearing in the forest, a pit had been dug. In the pit was a post, and those victims, who were so executed, were tied to the post. And during the night the tigers, drawn by the scent of human flesh, would come and devour the victims. The day of execution came and she was led into the woods and tied securely to the post there in the bottom of the pit and was left to her fate.
As it grew darker, she heard the crunching of gravel above her head. Looking up, she saw silhouetted in the evening sky not the form of a tiger, but of a man, who vaulted down into the pit. She recognized him to be the prince, her husband that she had betrayed. She turned on him in anger saying, "What have you done? Have you come to mock me because of the fate that I have?" He said, "No, I have come to prove to you how much I've always loved you. You've never understood that." With that, he waited silently in the pit until again there was crunching at the top of the pit. And now a tiger, drawn by the scent of human flesh, circling the pit, and then the fast footsteps as it approached and leaped into the pit. But instead of leaping upon the princess, it met the unsheathed sword of the prince. There in the darkness a fierce battle ensued, until finally the princess could hear the death throes as the last bit of life was leaving, and then just the dripping of blood.
As it became daylight, the men from the city came to take the remains of the princess and bury them. To their astonishment, they found that the princess was in good shape, still tied in the center of the pit. But over in the corner, and almost drowned in his own blood, was their beloved prince, and next to him a tiger that had been killed.
They lifted him out of the pit and carried him back to town and called the best physicians in the kingdom. For three days he hovered between life and death. Every hour a bulletin went out throughout the kingdom telling of the condition of the prince as he fought the battle for life. Finally, on the third day the news went out that the prince has passed the crisis and would live. All within the kingdom rejoiced.
In the meantime, the princess had again been incarcerated because the court's judgment had not been executed. Again, she was brought to trial and now the verdict was to be given. All the people of the kingdom gathered in the great arena to hear the verdict against the princess. As the crier stepped forth, he said, "Hear ye, hear ye, the decision of the supreme council." Then turning to the princess he said, "Over on your right there is a door, and behind that door there stands your husband, the prince, the one that you betrayed. Over on your left is another door, behind which are several tigers. If by five o'clock this evening you do not go to the door on your right and enter that door declaring to all within the kingdom that from now on you will be a faithful and devoted wife, then the door on your left will be opened and the death which he almost died to save you from will come upon you, and this time without any hope of escape. And the story ended, which door?
But as you see the story, you realize that we are the guilty princess, and that we rebelled against the Lord, who loved us so much that He came to prove His love by dying in our place. Now there are two doors, two things that can be done for your sins. Totally forgiven by your commitment of your life to Jesus Christ, or if you fail, then the death from which He died to save you will come and there will be no hope of any escape. "For how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?" So really, you have to put the ending on the story yourself. Which door? You are the one that puts the ending on the story.
"It's a fearful thing to fall in the hands of a living God."
But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions ( Hebrews 10:32 );
Remember what you went through in the beginning of your faith.
Partly, while you were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, while you became companions of them that were so used ( Hebrews 10:33 ).
"Your identification with Christianity really cost you a lot," and it did. It cost many of them their families. They were completely ostracized. Actually, the families would hold funerals for them. They were dead. They would not even recognize them on the street as existing. "Remember the things that you endured because of your faith in Jesus Christ."
For you had compassion of me and in my bonds, and you took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that you have in heaven a better and an enduring substance ( Hebrews 10:34 ).
A lot of them had their possessions taken away, but they didn't care. They knew they had possessions that no man could take away, the enduring substance in heaven.
Cast not away therefore your confidence, which has great recompence of reward. For you have need of patience, and after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry ( Hebrews 10:35-37 ).
So again, as so often in the New Testament, the exhortation of patience as we wait for the coming of Jesus Christ. James has said, "Have patience brethren; establish your souls for the Lord is waiting for the complete fruit of harvest" ( James 5:7 ). Have patience; He has a few more yet to save. Give them a chance too. Establish yourselves, for the Lord is waiting for the full fruit of harvest. Peter said, "God is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness. He is faithful to us-ward, he is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" ( 2 Peter 3:9 ).
So the reason why God is waiting and delaying the coming of Jesus Christ is to give opportunity for others to come on into the kingdom. But He that shall come will come and will not tarry. The day of the Lord will come. The Lord has waited, but the days of waiting are almost over. But have patience brethren, that after you've done the will of God you might receive the promise. The Lord is going to come again.
Now the just shall live by faith: and if any man draw back, [God said] my soul shall have no pleasure in them. But we are not of those who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul ( Hebrews 10:38-39 ).
The writer here declares his confidence in them. We are not those that draw back. We are those that believe to the salvation of our souls.
Now the just shall live by faith, and as we go into chapter 11, we're going to get the hallmark of faith, the hall of fame for those who believe. And that is the hall of fame that I want to appear in. You can have Cooper's Town and everything else. I want to be listed in that hall of fame, those who believe in the promises God. And we'll get an interesting listing of these men of faith as we move on into chapter 11, the glorious chapter on faith.
And now may the Lord be with you, watch over and keep you in His love as you walk in faith in Him. May you be blessed of the Lord and strengthened in every good work for the glory of Jesus Christ. God bless you. In Jesus' name. "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Hebrews 10:39". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/hebrews-10.html. 2014.
D. The Danger of Willful Sinning (The Fourth Warning) 10:19-39
From this point on in the epistle the writer made application from the great truths concerning Jesus Christ that he had now finished explaining. He followed his exposition of Jesus Christ’s superior high priestly ministry (Hebrews 6:13 to Hebrews 10:18) with exhortation, another stern warning against apostatizing, and an encouragement to remain faithful to the Lord (Hebrews 10:19-39). (Even though chapter 11 is primarily exposition, it is full of application.) The Greek word parresia, which appears in Hebrews 10:19 ("confidence") and in Hebrews 10:35 ("confidence"), frames the section and forms an inclusio tying the thought together.
"With Hebrews 10:19-39 the great central division of the sermon (Hebrews 5:11 to Hebrews 10:39) is drawn to a conclusion. Viewed from the perspective of the homiletical and literary structure of Hebrews, this concluding exhortation is symmetrical with the preliminary exhortation found in Hebrews 5:11 to Hebrews 6:20 . . . . The great exposition of Christ as priest and sacrifice is thus framed by parallel parenetic units . . ." [Note: Lane, Hebrews 9-13, p. 279.]
This warning passage is in a sense central to all the hortatory passages in Hebrews. Lane entitled this warning passage "The Peril of Disloyalty to Christ." [Note: Ibid., p. 271.] It echoes former warnings (cf. Hebrews 2:1-4 and Hebrews 10:28-31; and Hebrews 6:4-8 and Hebrews 10:26-31) and repeats characteristic expressions (cf. Hebrews 3:6 b and Hebrews 10:23; and Hebrews 3:17 and Hebrews 10:26). Yet it also anticipates what is to come by introducing the triad of Christian virtues, which the writer developed in chapters 11-13 (cf. Hebrews 6:10-12). He spoke of faith in Hebrews 10:22 and developed it in chapter 11, hope in Hebrews 10:23 and developed it in Hebrews 12:1-13, and love in Hebrews 10:24 and developed it in Hebrews 12:14 to Hebrews 13:21.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Hebrews 10:39". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/hebrews-10.html. 2012.
3. The encouragement to persevere 10:32-39
The writer concluded his warning by reminding his readers of their former faithfulness when tempted to encourage them to endure their present and future tests (cf. Hebrews 4:12-16; Hebrews 6:9-20).
"The juxtaposition of Hebrews 10:26-35 suggests that it may have been the experience of suffering, abuse, and loss in the world that motivated the desertion of the community acknowledged in Hebrews 10:25 and a general tendency to avoid contact with outsiders observed elsewhere in Hebrews (see . . . Hebrews 5:11-14)." [Note: Lane, Hebrews 9-13, p. 297.]
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Hebrews 10:39". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/hebrews-10.html. 2012.
The writer assumed hopefully that his readers, along with himself, would not apostatize. "Destruction" (or ruin) could refer either to eternal damnation in hell or to temporal punishment. In view of what has preceded, the latter alternative is probably in view (cf. Matthew 26:8; Mark 14:4; Acts 25:16). The writer did not want his readers to be the objects of God’s discipline. [Note: See Dillow, pp. 336-37.]
"I personally believe that ’waste’ is the best translation for this word ["destruction"] in Hebrews 10:39. A believer who does not walk by faith goes back into the old ways and wastes his life." [Note: Wiersbe, 2:317.]
Likewise the positive alternative set forth at the end of this verse is not a reference to conversion. It refers to the preservation of the faithful believer until he receives his full reward (cf. 1 Peter 2:9). The "preserving of the soul" is equivalent to "saving the life" (cf. James 5:20). [Note: Moffatt, p. 158.]
"This meaning agrees well with the exposition of Hebrews 10:32-39. The readers were to live by faith in the midst of difficult times. The result of obedience to the Word of God would be a life-preserving walk instead of temporal discipline, the loss of physical life." [Note: Oberholtzer, 145:418.]
This is the most direct and severe of all the warnings in Hebrews. In view of the Son’s priestly ministry (Hebrews 5:1 to Hebrews 10:18), apostasy is a sin that will draw terrible consequences for the believer. It will not result in the loss of eternal salvation but the loss of some eternal reward.
"The nature of the writer’s response to the men and women he addressed confirms the specifically pastoral character of the parenesis, in which he closely identifies himself with his audience. The severity with which he writes of apostasy and of the destructive lifestyle of those who have deserted the house church expresses anguish and compassionate concern that Christians should not be subverted by a form of worldliness that would separate them from the life and truth they have received from Christ and from one another." [Note: Lane, Hebrews 9-13, p. 311.]
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Hebrews 10:39". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/hebrews-10.html. 2012.
But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition,.... There is a drawing back which is not unto perdition; persons may be attended with much unbelief, may be very cold and indifferent to Gospel ordinances, may fall into great sins, and may greatly backslide, and yet be recovered, as David, Peter, and others: and there is a drawing back to perdition; when Christ is rejected as the alone Saviour; when he is not held to as the head; when false doctrines and damnable heresies are given into; and when men draw back, and never return, nor are they, nor can they be returned, and their apostasy is total, and final: but true believers do not, and cannot draw back in this sense; because they are held fast in the arms, and with the cords of everlasting love, are chosen of God unto salvation, are given unto Christ, and secured in him; they are redeemed and purchased by him; they are united to him, and built upon him; they are interested in his prayers and preparations, and are his jewels, and his portion; they are regenerated, sanctified, inhabited, and sealed by the Spirit of God, and have the promises and power of God, on their side.
But of them that believe to the saving of the soul; or "of faith, to the salvation of the soul"; not of faith of miracles, nor of an historical faith; but of that faith, which is the faith of God's elect, is the gift of God, and the operation of his Spirit; by which a soul sees Christ, goes to him, lays holds on him, commits all to him, and expects all from him: this stands opposed to drawing back; for by faith a man lives, walks, and stands; and with this is connected the salvation of the soul, as opposed to perdition; not as though it is a cause of salvation, but as a means of God's appointing to receive the blessings of salvation, and which is entirely consistent with the grace of God; and since salvation and faith are inseparably connected together, so that he that has the one shall have the other, it follows, that true believers can never perish. The nature and excellency of this grace is largely treated of in the following chapter.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 10:39". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/hebrews-10.html. 1999.
|The Consecrated Way; Cautions against Apostasy; Perseverance Inculcated.||A. D. 62.|
19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 And having a high priest over the house of God; 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. 26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; 33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. 34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. 35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. 36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. 37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
I. Here the apostle sets forth the dignities of the gospel state. It is fit that believers should know the honours and privileges that Christ has procured for them, that, while they take the comfort, they may give him the glory of all. The privileges are, 1. Boldness to enter into the holiest. They have access to God, light to direct them, liberty of spirit and of speech to conform to the direction; they have a right to the privilege and a readiness for it, assistance to use and improve it and assurance of acceptance and advantage. They may enter into the gracious presence of God in his holy oracles, ordinances, providences, and covenant, and so into communion with God, where they receive communications from him, till they are prepared to enter into his glorious presence in heaven. 2. A high priest over the house of God, even this blessed Jesus, who presides over the church militant, and every member thereof on earth, and over the church triumphant in heaven. God is willing to dwell with men on earth, and to have them dwell with him in heaven; but fallen man cannot dwell with God without a high priest, who is the Mediator of reconciliation here and of fruition hereafter.
II. The apostle tells us the way and means by which Christians enjoy such privileges, and, in general, declares it to be by the blood of Jesus, by the merit of that blood which he offered up to God as an atoning sacrifice: he has purchased for all who believe in him free access to God in the ordinances of his grace here and in the kingdom of his glory. This blood, being sprinkled on the conscience, chases away slavish fear, and gives the believer assurance both of his safety and his welcome into the divine presence. Now the apostle, having given this general account of the way by which we have access to God, enters further into the particulars of it, Hebrews 10:20; Hebrews 10:20. As, 1. It is the only way; there is no way left but this. The first way to the tree of life is, and has been, long shut up. 2. It is a new way, both in opposition to the covenant of works and to the antiquated dispensation of the Old Testament; it is via novissima--the last way that will ever be opened to men. Those who will not enter in this way exclude themselves for ever. It is a way that will always be effectual. 3. It is a living way. It would be death to attempt to come to God in the way of the covenant of works; but this way we may come to God, and live. It is by a living Saviour, who, though he was dead, is alive; and it is a way that gives life and lively hope to those who enter into it. 4. It is a way that Christ has consecrated for us through the veil, that is, his flesh. The veil in the tabernacle and temple signified the body of Christ; when he died, the veil of the temple was rent in sunder, and this was at the time of the evening sacrifice, and gave the people a surprising view into the holy of holies, which they never had before. Our way to heaven is by a crucified Saviour; his death is to us the way of life. To those who believe this he will be precious.
III. He proceeds to show the Hebrews the duties binding upon them on account of these privileges, which were conferred in such an extraordinary way, Hebrews 10:22; Hebrews 10:23, c.
1. They must draw near to God, and that in a right manner. They must draw near to God. Since such a way of access and return to God is opened, it would be the greatest ingratitude and contempt of God and Christ still to keep at a distance from him. They must draw near by conversion, and by taking hold of his covenant. They must draw near in all holy conversation, like Enoch walking with God. They must draw near in humble adorations, worshipping at his footstool. They must draw near in holy dependence, and in a strict observance of the divine conduct towards them. They must draw near in conformity to God, and communion with him, living under his blessed influence, still endeavouring to get nearer and nearer, till they come to dwell in his presence but they must see to it that they make their approach to God after a right manner. (1.) With a true heart, without any allowed guile or hypocrisy. God is the searcher of hearts, and he requires truth in the inward parts. Sincerity is our gospel perfection, though not our justifying righteousness. (2.) In full assurance of faith, with a faith grown up to a full persuasion that when we come to God by Christ we shall have audience and acceptance. We should lay aside all sinful distrust. Without faith it is impossible to please God; and the stronger our faith is the more glory we give to God. And, (3.) Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, by a believing application of the blood of Christ to our souls. They may be cleansed from guilt, from filth, from sinful fear and torment, from all aversion to God and duty, from ignorance, and error, and superstition, and whatever evils the consciences of men are subject to by reason of sin. (4.) Our bodies washed with pure water, that is, with the water of baptism (by which we are recorded among the disciples of Christ, members of his mystical body), or with the sanctifying virtue of the Holy Spirit, reforming and regulating our outward conversation as well as our inward frame, cleansing from the filthiness of the flesh as well as of the spirit. The priests under the law were to wash, before they went into the presence of the Lord to offer before him. There must be a due preparation for making our approaches to God.
2. The apostle exhorts believers to hold fast the profession of their faith, Hebrews 10:23; Hebrews 10:23. Here observe, (1.) The duty itself--to hold fast the profession of our faith, to embrace all the truths and ways of the gospel, to get fast hold of them, and to keep that hold against all temptation and opposition. Our spiritual enemies will do what they can to wrest our faith, and hope, and holiness, and comfort, out of our hands, but we must hold fast our religion as our best treasure. (2.) The manner in which we must do this--without wavering, without doubting, without disputing, without dallying with temptation to apostasy. Having once settled these great things between God and our souls, we must be stedfast and immovable. Those who begin to waver in matters of Christian faith and practice are in danger of falling away. (3.) The motive or reason enforcing this duty: He is faithful that hath promised. God has made great and precious promises to believers, and he is a faithful God, true to his word; there is no falseness nor fickleness with him, and there should be none with us. His faithfulness should excite and encourage us to be faithful, and we must depend more upon his promises to us than upon our promises to him, and we must plead with him the promise of grace sufficient.
IV. We have the means prescribed for preventing our apostasy, and promoting our fidelity and perseverance, Hebrews 10:24; Hebrews 10:25, c. He mentions several as, 1. That we should consider one another, to provoke to love and to good works. Christians ought to have a tender consideration and concern for one another; they should affectionately consider what their several wants, weaknesses, and temptations are; and they should do this, not to reproach one another, to provoke one another not to anger, but to love and good works, calling upon themselves and one another to love God and Christ more, to love duty and holiness more, to love their brethren in Christ more, and to do all the good offices of Christian affection both to the bodies and the souls of each other. A good example given to others is the best and most effectual provocation to love and good works. 2. Not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together,Hebrews 10:25; Hebrews 10:25. It is the will of Christ that his disciples should assemble together, sometimes more privately for conference and prayer, and in public for hearing and joining in all the ordinances of gospel worship. There were in the apostles' times, and should be in every age, Christian assemblies for the worship of God, and for mutual edification. And it seems even in those times there were some who forsook these assemblies, and so began to apostatize from religion itself. The communion of saints is a great help and privilege, and a good means of steadiness and perseverance; hereby their hearts and hands are mutually strengthened. 3. To exhort one another, to exhort ourselves and each other, to warn ourselves and one another of the sin and danger of backsliding, to put ourselves and our fellow-christians in mind of our duty, of our failures and corruptions, to watch over one another, and be jealous of ourselves and one another with a godly jealousy. This, managed with a true gospel spirit, would be the best and most cordial friendship. 4. That we should observe the approaching of times of trial, and be thereby quickened to greater diligence: So much the more, as you see the day approaching. Christians ought to observe the signs of the times, such as God has foretold. There was a day approaching, a terrible day to the Jewish nation, when their city should be destroyed, and the body of the people rejected of God for rejecting Christ. This would be a day of dispersion and temptation to the chosen remnant. Now the apostle puts them upon observing what signs there were of the approach of such a terrible day, and upon being the more constant in meeting together and exhorting one another, that they might be the better prepared for such a day. There is a trying day coming on us all, the day of our death, and we should observe all the signs of its approaching, and improve them to greater watchfulness and diligence in duty.
V. Having mentioned these means of establishment, the apostle proceeds, in the close of the chapter, to enforce his exhortations to perseverance, and against apostasy, by many very weighty considerations, Hebrews 10:26; Hebrews 10:27, c.
1. From the description he gives of the sin of apostasy. It is sinning wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, sinning wilfully against that truth of which we have had convincing evidence. This text has been the occasion of great distress to some gracious souls they have been ready to conclude that every wilful sin, after conviction and against knowledge, is the unpardonable sin: but this has been their infirmity and error. The sin here mentioned is a total and final apostasy, when men with a full and fixed will and resolution despise and reject Christ, the only Saviour,--despise and resist the Spirit, the only sanctifier,--and despise and renounce the gospel, the only way of salvation, and the words of eternal life; and all this after they have known, owned, and professed, the Christian religion, and continue to do so obstinately and maliciously. This is the great transgression: the apostle seems to refer to the law concerning presumptuous sinners, Numbers 15:30; Numbers 15:31. They were to be cut off.
2. From the dreadful doom of such apostates. (1.) There remains no more sacrifice for such sins, no other Christ to come to save such sinners; they sin against the last resort and remedy. There were some sins under the law for which no sacrifices were provided; but yet if those who committed them did truly repent, though they might not escape temporal death, they might escape eternal destruction; for Christ would come, and make atonement. But now those under the gospel who will not accept of Christ, that they may be saved by him, have no other refuge left them. (2.) There remains for them only a certain fearful looking for of judgment, Hebrews 10:27; Hebrews 10:27. Some think this refers to the dreadful destruction of the Jewish church and state; but certainly it refers also to the utter destruction that awaits all obstinate apostates at death and judgment, when the Judge will discover a fiery indignation against them, which will devour the adversaries; they will be consigned to the devouring fire and to everlasting burnings. Of this destruction God gives some notorious sinners, while on earth, a fearful foreboding in their own consciences, a dreadful looking for it, with a despair of ever being able either to endure or escape it.
3. From the methods of divine justice with those who despised Moses's law, that is, sinned presumptuously, despising his authority, his threatenings and his power. These, when convicted by two or three witnesses, were put to death; they died without mercy, a temporal death. Observe, Wise governors should be careful to keep up the credit of their government and the authority of the laws, by punishing presumptuous offenders; but then in such cases there should be good evidence of the fact. Thus God ordained in Moses's law; and hence the apostle infers the heavy doom that will fall upon those that apostatize from Christ. Here he refers to their own consciences, to judge how much sorer punishment the despisers of Christ (after they have professed to know him) are likely to undergo; and they may judge of the greatness of the punishment by the greatness of the sin. (1.) They have trodden under foot the Son of God. To trample upon an ordinary person shows intolerable insolence; to treat a person of honour in that vile manner is insufferable; but to deal thus with the Son of God, who himself is God, must be the highest provocation--to trample upon his person, denying him to be the Messiah--to trample upon his authority, and undermine his kingdom--to trample upon his members as the offscouring of all things, and not fit to live in the world; what punishment can be too great for such men? (2.) They have counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing; that is, the blood of Christ, with which the covenant was purchased and sealed, and wherewith Christ himself was consecrated, or wherewith the apostate was sanctified, that is, baptized, visibly initiated into the new covenant by baptism, and admitted to the Lord's supper. Observe, There is a kind of sanctification which persons may partake of and yet fall away: they may be distinguished by common gifts and graces, by an outward profession, by a form of godliness, a course of duties, and a set of privileges, and yet fall away finally. Men who have seemed before to have the blood of Christ in high esteem may come to account it an unholy thing, no better than the blood of a malefactor, though it was the world's ransom, and every drop of it of infinite value. (3.) Those have done despite unto the Spirit of grace, the Spirit that is graciously given to men, and that works grace wherever it is,--the Spirit of grace, that should be regarded and attended to with the greatest care,--this Spirit they have grieved, resisted, quenched, yea, done despite to him, which is the highest act of wickedness, and makes the case of the sinner desperate, refusing to have the gospel salvation applied to him. Now he leaves it to the consciences of all, appeals to universal reason and equity, whether such aggravated crimes ought not to receive a suitable punishment, a sorer punishment than those who had died without mercy? But what punishment can be sorer than to die without mercy? I answer, To die by mercy, by the mercy and grace which they have despised. How dreadful is the case when not only the justice of God, but his abused grace and mercy call for vengeance!
4. From the description we have in the scripture of the nature of God's vindictive justice, Hebrews 10:30; Hebrews 10:30. We know that he has said, Vengeance is mine. This is taken out of Psalms 94:1, Vengeance belongs unto me. The terrors of the Lord are known both by revelation and reason. Vindictive justice is a glorious, though terrible attribute of God; it belongs to him, and he will use and execute it upon the heads of such sinners as despise his grace; he will avenge himself, and his Son, and Spirit, and covenant, upon apostates. And how dreadful then will their case be! The other quotation is from Deuteronomy 32:36, The Lord will judge his people; he will search and try his visible church, and will discover and detect those who say they are Jews, and are not, but are of the synagogue of Satan; and he will separate the precious from the vile, and will punish the sinners in Zion with the greatest severity. Now those who know him who hath said, Vengeance belongeth to me, I will recompense, must needs conclude, as the apostle does (Hebrews 10:31; Hebrews 10:31): It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Those who know the joy that results from the favour of God can thereby judge of the power and dread of his vindictive wrath. Observe here, What will be the eternal misery of impenitent sinners and apostates: they shall fall into the hands of the living God; their punishment shall come from God's own hand. He takes them into the hand of his justice; he will deal with them himself; their greatest misery will be the immediate impressions of divine wrath on the soul. When he punishes them by creatures, the instrument abates something of the force of the blow; but, when he does it by his own hand, it is infinite misery. This they shall have at God's hand, they shall lie down in sorrow; their destruction shall come from his glorious powerful presence; when they make their woeful bed in hell, they will find that God is there, and his presence will be their greatest terror and torment. And he is a living God; he lives for ever, and will punish for ever.
5. He presses them to perseverance by putting them in mind of their former sufferings for Christ: But call to mind the former days, in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great fight of afflictions,Hebrews 10:32; Hebrews 10:32. In the early days of the gospel there was a very hot persecution raised up against the professors of the Christian religion, and the believing Hebrews had their share of it: he would have them to remember,
(1.) When they had suffered: In former days, after they were illuminated; that is, as soon as God had breathed life into their souls, and caused divine light to spring up in their minds, and taken them into his favour and covenant; then earth and hell combined all their force against them. Here observe, A natural state is a dark state, and those who continue in that state meet with no disturbance from Satan and the world; but a state of grace is a state of light, and therefore the powers of darkness will violently oppose it. Those who will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution.
(2.) What they suffered: they endured a great fight of afflictions, many and various afflictions united together against them, and they had a great conflict with them. Many are the troubles of the righteous. [1.] They were afflicted in themselves. In their own persons; they were made gazing-stocks, spectacles to the world, angels, and men, 1 Corinthians 4:9. In their names and reputations (Hebrews 10:33; Hebrews 10:33), by many reproaches. Christians ought to value their reputation; and they do so especially because the reputation of religion is concerned: this makes reproach a great affliction. They were afflicted in their estates, by the spoiling of their goods, by fines and forfeitures. [2.] They were afflicted in the afflictions of their brethren: Partly while you became companions of those that were so used. The Christian spirit is a sympathizing spirit, not a selfish spirit, but a compassionate spirit; it makes every Christian's suffering our own, puts us upon pitying others, visiting them, helping them, and pleading for them. Christians are one body, are animated by one spirit, have embarked in one common cause and interest, and are the children of that God who is afflicted in all the afflictions of his people. If one member of the body suffers, all the rest suffer with it. The apostle takes particular notice how they had sympathized with him (Hebrews 10:34; Hebrews 10:34): You had compassion on me in my bonds. We must thankfully acknowledge the compassions our Christian friends have shown for us under our afflictions.
(3.) How they had suffered. They had been mightily supported under their former sufferings; they took their sufferings patiently, and not only so, but joyfully received it from God as a favour and honour conferred upon them that they should be thought worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Christ. God can strengthen his suffering people with all might in the inner man, to all patience and long-suffering, and that with joyfulness, Colossians 1:11.
(4.) What it was that enabled them thus to bear up under their sufferings. They knew in themselves that they had in heaven a better and a more enduring substance. Observe, [1.] The happiness of the saints in heaven is substance, something of real weight and worth. All things here are but shadows. [2.] It is a better substance than any thing they can have or lose here. [3.] It is an enduring substance, it will out-live time and run parallel with eternity; they can never spend it; their enemies can never take it from them, as they did their earthly goods. [4.] This will make a rich amends for all they can lose and suffer here. In heaven they shall have a better life, a better estate, better liberty, better society, better hearts, better work, every thing better. [5.] Christians should know this in themselves, they should get the assurance of it in themselves (the Spirit of God witnessing with their spirits), for the assured knowledge of this will help them to endure any fight of afflictions they may be encountered with in this world.
6. He presses them to persevere, from that recompense of reward that waited for all faithful Christians (Hebrews 10:35; Hebrews 10:35): Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. Here, (1.) He exhorts them not to cast away their confidence, that is, their holy courage and boldness, but to hold fast that profession for which they had suffered so much before, and borne those sufferings so well. (2.) He encourages them to this by assuring them that the reward of their holy confidence would be very great. It carries a present reward in it, in holy peace and joy, and much of God's presence and his power resting upon them; and it shall have a great recompense of reward hereafter. (3.) He shows them how necessary a grace the grace of patience is in our present state (Hebrews 10:36; Hebrews 10:36): You have need of patience, that after you have done the will of God you might receive the promise; that is, this promised reward. Observe, The greatest part of the saints' happiness is in promise. They must first do the will of God before they receive the promise; and, after they have done the will of God, they have need of patience to wait for the time when the promise shall be fulfilled; they have need of patience to live till God calls them away. It is a trial of the patience of Christians, to be content to live after their work is done, and to stay for the reward till God's time to give it them is come. We must be God's waiting servants when we can be no longer his working servants. Those who have had and exercised much patience already must have and exercise more till they die. (4.) To help their patience, he assures them of the near approach of Christ's coming to deliver and to reward them (Hebrews 10:37; Hebrews 10:37): For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. He will soon come to them at death, and put an end to all their sufferings, and give them a crown of life. He will soon come to judgment, and put an end to the sufferings of the whole church (all his mystical body), and give them an ample and glorious reward in the most public manner. There is an appointed time for both, and beyond that time he will not tarry, Habakkuk 2:3. The Christian's present conflict may be sharp, but it will be soon over.
7. He presses them to perseverance, by telling them that this is their distinguishing character and will be their happiness; whereas apostasy is the reproach, and will be the ruin, of all who are guilty of it (Hebrews 10:38; Hebrews 10:39): Now the just shall live by faith, c. (1.) It is the honourable character of just men that in times of the greatest affliction they can live by faith they can live upon the assured persuasion they have of the truth of God's promises. Faith puts life and vigour into them. They can trust God, and live upon him, and wait his time: and, as their faith maintains their spiritual life now, it shall be crowned with eternal life hereafter. (2.) Apostasy is the mark and the brand of those in whom God takes no pleasure; and it is a cause of God's severe displeasure and anger. God never was pleased with the formal profession and external duties and services of such as do not persevere. He saw the hypocrisy of their hearts then; and he is greatly provoked when their formality in religion ends in an open apostasy from religion. He beholds them with great displeasure; they are an offence to him. (3.) The apostle concludes with declaring his good hope concerning himself and these Hebrews, that they should not forfeit the character and happiness of the just, and fall under the brand and misery of the wicked (Hebrews 10:39; Hebrews 10:39): But we are not, c. as if he had said, "I hope we are not of those who draw back. I hope that you and I, who have met with great trials already, and have been supported under them by the grace of God strengthening our faith, shall not be at any time left to ourselves to draw back to perdition; but that God will still keep us by his mighty power through faith unto salvation." Observe, [1.] Professors may go a great way, and after all draw back; and this drawing back from God is drawing on to perdition: the further we depart from God the nearer we approach to ruin. [2.] Those who have been kept faithful in great trials for the time past have reason to hope that the same grace will be sufficient to help them still to live by faith, till they receive the end of their faith and patience, even the salvation of their souls. If we live by faith, and die in faith, our souls will be safe for ever.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Hebrews 10:39". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/hebrews-10.html. 1706.
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17