Main point summary
Because of Christ's perfect bodily sacrifice that perfects his people, let us draw near to God, hold fast to our faith and think about provoking one another to love and good works, knowing that there are consequences if we don't persevere.
For since the law has but v a shadow w of the good things to come
instead of the true form of these realities,
x it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year,
[it can never make] perfect those who draw near.
Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered,
since the worshipers, having once been cleansed,
would no longer have any consciousness of sins?
But y in these sacrifices z there is a reminder of sins every year.
For a it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats
to take away sins.
Consequently, b when Christ 1 came into the world,
c “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said,
‘Behold, I have come to do your will , O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”
When he said above,
“You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in c sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings”
(these are offered according to the law),
then he added,
d “Behold, I have come to do your will.”
He does away with the first
in order to establish the second.
And by that will e we have been sanctified
through the offering of f the body of Jesus Christ g once for all.
And every priest stands h daily at his service,
i offering repeatedly the same sacrifices,
j which can never take away sins.
But when Christ 1 had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins,
he k sat down at the right hand of God,
waiting from that time
l until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.
For by a single offering
m he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us;
for after saying,
n “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
then he adds,
o “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Where there is forgiveness of these,
there is no longer any offering for sin.
p Therefore, brothers, 1 since we have confidence
to enter q the holy places
by the blood of Jesus,
by r the new and living way that he opened for us through s the curtain,
that is, through his flesh,
and since we have t a great priest over the house of God,
let us (1) draw near
with a true heart
in full assurance of faith,
with our hearts u sprinkled clean v from an evil conscience
and our bodies w washed with pure water.
x Let us (2) hold fast the confession of our hope
for y he who promised is faithful.
And z let us (3) consider how to stir up one another
to love and good works,
a not neglecting to meet together,
as is the habit of some,
but encouraging one another,
and b all the more
as you see c the Day drawing near.
For d if we go on sinning deliberately
e after receiving the knowledge of the truth,
f there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
g but a fearful expectation of judgment,
and h a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.
i Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses
dies without mercy
j on the evidence of two or three witnesses.
How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one
k who has trampled underfoot the Son of God,
and has profaned l the blood of the covenant
m by which he was sanctified,
and has n outraged the Spirit of grace?
For we know him who said,
o “Vengeance is mine;
I will repay.”
And again, p “The Lord will judge his people.”
q It is a fearful thing
to fall into the hands of the living God.
As opposed to Heb 8:12, where God remembers their sin no more.
Is 1:11–17 Jer 7:21–23 Hos 6:6 Am 5:21–27 Mic 6:6–8; cf. also 1 Sam 15:22; Ps 51:16–17 In other words, only mere ceremonial approach to God really doesn't bring one to God. Obedience is necessary. The readers must see the sacrifices as a means of furthering God’s larger purposes in that covenant, not as producing effects on their own.
Literally, the Masoretic text reads, “ears you have dug for me” (Ps. 40:7–9 MT). The Hebrew metaphor has been understood by the Septuagint translators and by the writer of Hebrews to indicate the physical creation of a person’s body, though it could, as a result, also refer to one's ability to hear and obey.
As it is written for me in the scroll of the law. In the Psalm, the next line reads, "your law is in my heart." Or, As it is written of me to do... In short, I have come to do your will, according to what is written in the law.
Repeated to highlight their repetitiveness and multiplicity
ἀναιρέω an-ahee-reh'-o /anairéō/ Verb strongs : G337 source : from ἀνά and (the active of) αἱρέομαι ; I take up, abolish , murder
This is not merely about sacrifices, but as indicated by the parantheses, these sacrifices were part of the law that God himself had given. Again, this is highlighting the main point of the old covenant being done away with.
By the same will of God that declared his law, the incarnate body of Jesus Christ was offered ( Cf. Gal 3:13) , not repeatedly, but once for all. The result? We have been made holy.
cf. 4:16, 7:11,19,25, 9:9
The bold rhetorical question “Would they not have stopped being offered?” is the most telling pointer yet to the date when the letter was written; after AD 70 they had “stopped being offered,” and the question would have been pointless Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 127). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
Note the similarity with consciousness and reminder in ver 2-3. A once-for-all sacrifice deals with the guilt of sin, and so there is no need for perpetual reminders (because there is nothing to be reminded of) and thus no consciousness of sin.
“For all time” (the same phrase will recur in v.14) repeats the characterization of Melchizedek’s priesthood as “forever” in 7:3; see note on 10:1 for its use in a rather different way. The remainder of vv.12–13 is a close paraphrase of Psalm 110:1. The invitation there issued by “the Lord” to “my lord” is now realized, and our high priest, his earthly work complete (so that he no longer needs to “stand” as earthly priests must, v.11), has already taken his seat beside the throne of God (cf. 1:3, where this sitting is similarly said to follow his “providing purification for sins”). This is the place of supreme authority, and yet the victory is still not complete, for the psalm speaks of a period of waiting “until.” So our author must picture the heavenly priest as still “waiting” for the final subjugation of his enemies. Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 131). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
provoke “Spur on” translates the vivid noun paroxysmos (GK 4237), used of the “sharp disagreement” that separated Barnabas from Paul in Acts 15:39; here it has a more positive connotation, but it certainly shows that the author expected the “encouragement” to be bracing and even confrontational rather than merely comforting. Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 137). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
Cf. 4:16; see also Hebrews 3:6,14,10:35
Cf. 9:12, 25 The real Holy of Holies, i.e. the very presence of the living God.
Note all that the writer has said about the better blood of Jesus. Cf. 9:12
= inaugurated Cf. 9:18
Cf. ver 10. While his body was torn, so was the curtain. Cf. Mrk 15:38; Heb 9:8
While the body & blood of Jesus tells us of his death, behold, there he is -alive indterceding for us, as our great high priest.
over it, not merely inside it. Cf. 3:5-6
Cf. 3:3-6 The author seems to be talking of both the place & people of God, but with the people, i.e. household of God in primary focus. Till now, for the idea of place, he has referred to it as 'place', 'sanctuary' or 'tabernacle', not house.
It is not merely a renewal, but a new way. It is also a living way, as opposed to the way of "dead works" (cf. 6:1, 9:14)
Cf. 4:16, 7:19,25, 10:1, keeping in mind the service of God Heb 9:14-15. This is the whole point and goal of new covenant salvation.
Is the author alluding to Ezekiel 36:25? Or perhaps baptism? Or perhaps and inward purification resulting in an outworking in the body? I'm not sure, although I cautiously favour the idea of baptism. Cf. 1 Peter 3:20-21
Cf. 3:6, 4:14, 6:11-12 See also the harsh warnings that accompany these: 2:1-4 3:6-4:13 6:4-11 And 10:26-31
Cf. 6:12-18. The hopes is rooted in the powerful promises of God in the covenants, sealed with an oath. This is not wishful thinking, but certainty. Keep this in mind as we tackle the next harsh warning.
How can we waver when the confession of our hope is rooted in the faithfulness of God?
Note the tight connection between individual holding onto faith and corporate holding onto faith. See also Heb 3:12-13, 4:1,11, 6:11
Cf. Num 15:30; Heb 5:2, 9:7
as opposed to Heb 9:28
A passion of fire. Cf. Is 26:11, Zeph 1:18
Cf. Deut 17:6
Cf. Mrk 3:29
Heb=vindicate (here and in Ps. 135:14) LXX=judge Either the author is taking the normal sense of the word, which is 'to judge' or he is basing the meaning on God's progression from judgement to compassion upon his people in Deut 32:35-36
The point of the dual quotation, as our author understands it, is summed up in a pithy and startling epigram. Elsewhere in Hebrews, “the living God” is one to be served with joyful confidence (9:14; 12:22). But to “turn away from the living God” (3:12) is to make a dangerous enemy (cf. the equally threatening uses of the phrase in 1Sa 17:26, 36; 2Ki 19:4, 16; Jer 10:10; cf. also Dt 5:26). Precisely because he is “living,” he is not to be trifled with. For “fall into the hands of,” contrast 2 Samuel 24:14, where David preferred to fall into God’s hands than into human hands, “for his mercy is great”; for Hebrews there is a limit to that mercy. The same God who is a loving Father is also a “consuming fire” (12:29). Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 141). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
The author, having insisted that there is a new and better covenant in chapter 8, explains how it is new and better in Hebrews 9:1-10:18. In chapter 9, we see the sharp contrast between the 'shadow-worship' and the real, better worship, enabled by the better offering of Jesus' blood and now characterised by a better place, a better approach and an incredibly better result - our eternal salvation. This salvation is characterised by the eternal glorifying of God and our eternal joy in his presence. In chapter 9, the author focussed on the Better Worship in the Better Place, because of Christ's Better Offering, specifically his blood . In chapter 10, the author builds on his earlier argument, focussing on the Better Approach and Christ's Better Offering, here specifically, his body , thus completing the new covenant symbolism at the Lord's Table - his body broken and his blood spilt for our sake. THE OLD SHADOWS (10:1-4) Imperfection and Continual Reminders (10:1-4) The law (old-covenant) was a shadow of the good things to come, not the realities themselves, characterised by repeated, continual, sameness of sacrifices ( 10:1a-c ) Therefore, it could never enable worshipers to draw near to God which was possible only through 'perfection', i.e. the cleansing of consciences (10:1d, cf. 7:11,19,25,9:9)\ If the old-covenant sacrifices could make worshipers perfect, they would not have to be repeated. Why redo a surgery, if the first surgery was successful? Why repeat sacrifices if the worshipers are cleansed to the point of no guilt (i.e. no reminder/consciousness of sins)? (10:2) Instead, the repetition of sacrifices every year serves as a reminder of their guilt and sin against God (10:3) Why the continual imperfection and continual reminder of guilt? Because it is impossible for mere animal sacrifices to truly deal with the guilt of sin (10:4) 1. Why is sin such a horror to God, that it does not allow us to 'draw near'? How horrible to me is my sin against God? THE BETTER, FINAL OFFERING ( 10:5-14) The obedience of the Christ (10:5-7) The author appeals to the messianic Psalm 40:6-8 to further prove his case: David, in the old testament, declares the old-covenant sacrifices as not what God wants! (10:5a) Instead of sacrifices and offerings, God has "dug ears" (prepared a body) for David (and later, the Christ). This implies that instead of sacrifices, God wants ears that listen and a body that obeys. Mere animal rituals alone aren't going to please God (10:5-6). To borrow new testament language, we ought to present our bodies to God as a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1). Since God desires open ears and a willing body, the Psalmist proclaims his purpose: "to do your will, O God" by obeying what is required of him in God's law which is in his heart. Note the new covenant allusion! (10:7; cf. Ps 40:8). These words were ultimately fulfilled in the person and life of the Christ, who lived in perfect obedience to the will of God, literally fulfilling the purpose declared in the Psalm: "I have come to do your will". The perfection of his people (10:8-10) The author explains the quotation simply. In countering the repeated sacrifices and offerings with the doing of God's will, it is clear that David (and later, the Christ) abolishes the former in favour of the latter, i.e. God finds no pleasure in old-covenant sacrifices, but does find pleasure in a whole-person obedience to his will; therefore, don't do what God finds no pleasure in! (10:8-9) The result of this replacement is fulfilled in, not only Christ's obedient life, but the 'offering' of his prepared 'body' in obedience to the 'will' of God. And it is in union with and through this Jesus Christ - his bodily life and bodily death - that we have been sanctified. He is sanctified, we are sanctified. Once-and-for-all. No repetition. (10:10) 1. What does my being permanently and once-for-all set apart before God, in Christ, imply for my life? 2. How does his obedience in life and death, allow me to live before God? How do I live, in reality? The Once-for-all obedience of the Christ ( 10:11-13 ) The author again compares the Great High Priest with the Levitical Priests in how they approach God. The latter has to approach God: a. daily b. repeatedly offering the same animal sacrifices c. standing and never completing his service d. all of which could never take away sins! (10:11) The Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, on the other hand: a. approached God once-for-all b. with a single sacrifice of himself c. and then sat down at God's right hand, finishing his work d. for sins e. and more than that, waiting till all his enemies are conquered, indicating that the victory was won and guaranteed to be completed in time (10:12-13) In these verses, the author concludes the usage of the priesthood after the order of Melchizedek, from Ps 110, with language that is all too similar to be ignored. The Once-for-all perfection of his people (10:14) The result of the better sacrifice (his blood and body offered once and for all) by this better priest, once-for-all is the 'perfection' of his people achieved, not merely once, but for all time. Who are his people? Those who are being sanctified. This is very similar to Heb 3:6,14. So we, in Christ, are sanctified already (ver 10) and we are also being sanctified thanks to his offering, and it is the latter that is the most tangible evidence of our relationship before God. It is this perfection, the purification of the conscience, the permanent getting rid of sin that enables us to draw near to God. 1. What does sanctification look like in my life, based on this study of Hebrews? How has my love for Jesus increased over the last few months, while studying the book? 2. What implication does the permanent taking away of my sin affect my worship and sanctification? NEW REALITIES ( 10:15-18) Perfection and No more reminders (10:15-18) The author quotes Jeremiah 31:33-34 in an abbreviated manner to conclude his argument. This time, he attributes Jeremiah's words to the person of the Holy Spirit and reminds us of the key thrust of that passage: the inward transformation of God's people and (enabled by) the forgiveness of sins forever (the remembrance of sin no-more). The person is not merely purified outwardly, but transformed inwardly (10:15-17) And thus, if sins and lawless deeds are remembered no more, forever forgiven, there is no longer any need for an offering for sin. Christ did and offered what the old-covenant priests could not, thus bringing into fulfilment the new covenant prophesied by Jeremiah (10:18) 1. In what ways do I repeat a sacrifice that has already been finished (cf. 6:4-8)? How do I remember all of this? In the repetition of my acts of daily cleansing - bathing/brushing, I have a chance of reminding myself of the completion of my cleansing and the everyday progressive sanctification. THEREFORE APPROACH AND APPLY (10:19-25) The three-point sermon (10:19-25) The author summarises his argument using language he has already used before: a. We have confidence to enter the real Holy of Holies by the new and living, flesh and blood death of Jesus. b. We have this great (high) priest, not dead but alive and not merely in the house-sanctuary of God, but over the household of God. Remember the servant and the son in Heb 3:5-6 (10:19-21) Therefore (based on Hebrews 1:1-10:18), we have a three-fold application: a. The Upward Application: Let us draw near (10:22) How? In sincerity and faith. This drawing near is the ultimate goal of our salvation! Why? Because we can! We have been cleansed in heart and body. This is the approach that was achieved by all that is better, therefore approach! b. The Inward Application: Let us hold fast to our confession of hope (10:23) How? Without wavering, because we have no reason to. Why? Because of the faithful promise-keeping God, upon whom our hope is built. c. The Outward Application: Let us fix our eyes on how to provoke one another (10:24-25) How? By encouraging one another more and more, instead of trying to isolate oneself. To what purpose? To love and good works. Why? Because the Day of the Lord is drawing near, cf. 10:26-31 1. Meditate on what God achieved for us in Jesus. Do we have joyous confidence to come to him? Do we want to worship and serve him forever? 2. The blood has been spilt, the body has been broken, the veil is torn. What keeps us from coming? 3. Who is God to us? Why do we waver? How can we not waver? In other words, how do we hold fast to our confession of hope? 4. How do we think about our local churches? What do we think of this group? Are we just a bunch of selfish, pretentious people so focussed on ourselves, that fixing our eyes on others is unappealing; that provoking them to love and good works (and a consequent lack of approval) is not worth it? 5. Do we like our "me time" and our isolation? Do we find a hundred better priorities that surpass fellowship? 6. How can we provoke one another in this group? How can we extend our provocative, loving behaviour to our churches? THE FOURTH WARNING (10:26-31) The consequences of not approaching and applying (10:26-31) This is a frightening reason to persevere - that of consequences if we don't. If we reject the approach offered and the applications of that which is better, despite knowing the truths of it, there is no longer a sacrifice available for sins. Instead, there is furious judgement in store, meant for the enemies of God. (10:26-27) The author compares, like in 2:2-4, the old covenant with the new, arguing from the lesser to the greater. If the old covenant (a mere shadow), carried the justice of death for high-handedness, then how much more will the consequences be for high-handedness against new, reality-based covenant! (10:28-29a) This is what we do when we "deliberately sin" in high-handed unbelief (10:29): a. We trample the Christ, the very Son of God under our feet, like pigs upon pearls in Mt 7:6 b. We regard the blood of Christ (the covenant), the very means by which we have been set apart to be clean, as 'unclean'. We see it as profane and filthy. c. In our contempt, we make a mockery of the Spirit of grace. This is similar to the 'unforgivable sin' in Mrk 3:29 Having "knowledge of the truth", we know the God of Deut 32:35-36. A God who, while being slow to anger, does display just wrath against those who are his enemies - those who treat him with utter contempt. It is fearful indeed to fall into his hands (10:30-31) 1. Am I content with knowing the truth (or being enlightened), and not too interested in persevering? 2. Am I more interested in intellectually understanding the warning? Or recognising that I might be the person being addressed? 3. Am I led to sorrow and repentance and then dependence and joy? 4. How seriously do I regard my sin, how seriously do I look at God in all three persons and their work? 5. Am I tempted to camp in the warning? Or move to live out the exhortations, thanks to my great high priest? 6. Who is Jesus to me? How do I remember all of this? Remember the inright-outright-upright and downright happy song. NOTES: There are three major interpretations of the fourth warning. But before we look at them, we need to recognise that the warning is not the thrust of the text, but the great call to draw near to God, along with its supplementary applications. This is the ground. We also need to recognise that hard texts like these need humility and trust in God. We may not be able to accurately understand what the author was intending in these verses, as much as we might want to. We also need to understand what "sinning deliberately" refers to. First, it is very similar to the high-handedness in view under the old covenant - an utter disregard and contempt for God. Second, in the light of the ver 21-25, we also need to recognise that a failure to approach God and apply the exhortations in ver 21-25, we are displaying the fruit of contempt, rather than that of faith. We truly need to examine ourselves and repent. Now, to the warning. The three major ideas are: 1. That we lose our salvation . This is not tenable because of the immediate context, like ver 23 which calls upon a God faithful to his promises. The wider context of Hebrews also pushes for an idea of true faith persevering to the end (cf. 3:6.14), so a "falling away" cannot mean a falling away from salvation, but a falling away from the profession. Of course, in the light of all Scripture, we see a persistent idea of God keeping his flock to the end, with not a single one given to Christ being lost. 2. That this is hypothetical. This too stands on rather shaky ground, because it makes the whole point of the letter rather pointless. These were real people with the real danger of falling away. The author is at pains for them to see their danger. Hypothetical warnings are no real warnings at all. 3. That these people that do, in fact, fall away, proves that they were never Christians in the first place. Nonetheless, they had truly seen and experienced the grace that God offers his visible church through the Spirit in preaching, fellowship and other experiences. These were people that were set apart, in a sense (like the nation of Israel, with people of faith within a visible community of mixed-faith). They probably even enjoyed partaking of the Lord's supper. But the fact that they fall away, reminds us of Heb 3:6,14 above, which tells us that we belong to God's family only if we persevere. If we don't, we never really belonged. This seems most probable but is most likely not precise in terms of what the author meant. Nonetheless, this strongly alludes to the sad reality seen in the parable of the soils (Mrk 4:1-29), where there is, in some instances, immediate growth, but ultimate death. This warning ought to be the means by which sincere believers introspect, recognise their "drifting away" and repent, by "drawing near" to God with full confidence. There are a few positions held by some minorities that also must be mentioned: 1. One minority position switches the subject in ver 29 from the apostate to Christ. They explain the 'he' in the proposition "by which he was sanctified" to mean Christ. This is tempting, but it becomes hard to hold because the subject consistently is the apostate and it would be rather odd to have subjects switching within a proposition. 2. A second minority position would be to consider the apostate to be a believer, but the judgement in this case merely refers to the loss of rewards. This does not correspond to the sheer seriousness of the judgement here, in the text - "fury of fire", "consume the adversaries" and "worse punishment" all because of the sheer heinousness of the act, which also is not easy to attribute to a believer.