Hebrews 10:1-39 . CONCLUSION OF THE FOREGOING ARGUMENT. THE YEARLY RECURRING LAW SACRIFICES CANNOT PERFECT THE WORSHIPPER, BUT CHRIST'S ONCE-FOR-ALL OFFERING CAN.
21. high priest--As a different Greek term (archiereus) is used always elsewhere in this Epistle for "high priest," translate as Greek here, "A Great Priest"; one who is at once King and "Priest on His throne" ( Zechariah 6:13 ); a royal Priest, and a priestly King.
house of God--the spiritual house, the Church, made up of believers, whose home is heaven, where Jesus now is ( Hebrews 12:22 Hebrews 12:23 ). Thus, by "the house of God," over which Jesus is, heaven is included in meaning, as well as the Church, whose home it is.
22. ( Hebrews 4:16 , 7:19 .)
with a true heart--without hypocrisy; "in truth, and with a perfect heart"; a heart thoroughly imbued with "the truth" ( Hebrews 10:26 ).
full assurance--( Hebrews 6:11 ); with no doubt as to our acceptance when coming to God by the blood of Christ. As "faith" occurs here, so "hope," and "love," Hebrews 10:23 Hebrews 10:24 .
sprinkled from--that is, sprinkled so as to be cleansed from.
evil conscience--a consciousness of guilt unatoned for, and uncleansed away ( Hebrews 10:2 , Hebrews 9:9 ). Both the hearts and the bodies are cleansed. The legal purifications were with blood of animal victims and with water, and could only cleanse the flesh ( Hebrews 9:13 Hebrews 9:21 ). Christ's blood purifies the heart and conscience. The Aaronic priest, in entering the holy place, washed with water ( Hebrews 9:19 ) in the brazen laver. Believers, as priests to God, are once for all washed in BODY (as distinguished from "hearts") at baptism. As we have an immaterial, and a material nature, the cleansing of both is expressed by "hearts" and "body," the inner and the outer man; so the whole man, material and immaterial. The baptism of the body, however, is not the mere putting away of material filth, nor an act operating by intrinsic efficacy, but the sacramental seal, applied to the outer man, of a spiritual washing ( 1 Peter 3:21 ). "Body" (not merely "flesh," the carnal part, as 2 Corinthians 7:1 ) includes the whole material man, which needs cleansing, as being redeemed, as well as the soul. The body, once polluted with sin, is washed, so as to be fitted like Christ's holy body, and by His body, to be spiritually a pure and living offering. On the "pure water," the symbol of consecration and sanctification, compare John 19:34 , 1 Corinthians 6:11 , 1 John 5:6 , Ezekiel 36:25 . The perfects "having . . . hearts sprinkled . . . body (the Greek is singular) washed," imply a continuing state produced by a once-for-all accomplished act, namely, our justification by faith through Christ's blood, and consecration to God, sealed sacramentally by the baptism of our body.
23. ( Hebrews 3:6 Hebrews 3:14 , 4:14 .)
our faith--rather as Greek, "our hope"; which is indeed faith exercised as to the future inheritance. Hope rests on faith, and at the same time quickens faith, and is the ground of our bold confession ( 1 Peter 3:15 ). Hope is similarly ( Hebrews 10:22 ) connected with purification ( 1 John 3:3 ).
without wavering--without declension ( Hebrews 3:14 ), "steadfast unto the end."
he--God is faithful to His promises ( Hebrews 6:17 Hebrews 6:18 , 11:11 , Hebrews 12:26 Hebrews 12:28 , 1 Corinthians 1:9 , 10:13 , 1 Thessalonians 5:24 , 2 Thessalonians 3:3 ; see also Christ's promise, John 12:26 ); but man is too often unfaithful to his duties.
24. Here, as elsewhere, hope and love follow faith; the Pauline triad of Christian graces.
consider--with the mind attentively fixed on "one another" the characters and wants of our brethren, so as to render mutual help and counsel. Compare "consider," Psalms 41:1 , and Hebrews 12:15 , "(All) looking diligently lest any fail of the grace of God."
to provoke--Greek, "with a view to provoking unto love," instead of provoking to hatred, as is too often the case.
25. assembling of ourselves together--The Greek, "episunagoge," is only found here and 2 Thessalonians 2:1 (the gathering together of the elect to Christ at His coming, Matthew 24:31 ). The assembling or gathering of ourselves for Christian communion in private and public, is an earnest of our being gathered together to Him at His appearing. Union is strength; continual assemblings together beget and foster love, and give good opportunities for "provoking to good works," by "exhorting one another" ( Hebrews 3:13 ). IGNATIUS says, "When ye frequently, and in numbers meet together, the powers of Satan are overthrown, and his mischief is neutralized by your likemindedness in the faith." To neglect such assemblings together might end in apostasy at last. He avoids the Greek term "sunagoge," as suggesting the Jewish synagogue meetings (compare Revelation 2:9 ).
as the manner of some is--"manner," that is, habit, custom. This gentle expression proves he is not here as yet speaking of apostasy.
the day approaching--This, the shortest designation of the day of the Lord's coming, occurs elsewhere only in 1 Corinthians 3:13 ; a confirmation of the Pauline authorship of this Epistle. The Church being in all ages kept uncertain how soon Christ is coming, the day is, and has been, in each age, practically always near; whence, believers have been called on always to be watching for it as nigh at hand. The Hebrews were now living close upon One of those great types and foretastes of it, the destruction of Jerusalem ( Matthew 24:1 Matthew 24:2 ), "the bloody and fiery dawn of the great day; that day is the day of days, the ending day of all days, the settling day of all days, the day of the promotion of time into eternity, the day which, for the Church, breaks through and breaks off the night of the present world" [DELITZSCH in ALFORD].
26. Compare on this and following verses, Hebrews 6:4 , &c. There the warning was that if there be not diligence in progressing, a falling off will take place, and apostasy may ensue: here it is, that if there be lukewarmness in Christian communion, apostasy may ensue. if
we sin--Greek present participle: if we be found sinning, that is, not isolated acts, but a state of sin [ALFORD]. A violation not only of the law, but of the whole economy of the New Testament ( Hebrews 10:28 Hebrews 10:29 ).
wilfully--presumptuously, Greek "willingly." After receiving "full knowledge (so the Greek, compare 1 Timothy 2:4 ) of the truth," by having been "enlightened," and by having "tasted" a certain measure even of grace of "the Holy Ghost" (the Spirit of truth, John 14:17 ; and "the Spirit of grace," Hebrews 10:29 ): to fall away (as "sin" here means, Hebrews 3:12 Hebrews 3:17 ; compare Hebrews 6:6 ) and apostatize ( Hebrews 3:12 ) to Judaism or infidelity, is not a sin of ignorance, or error ("out of the way," the result) of infirmity, but a deliberate sinning against the Spirit ( Hebrews 10:29 , Hebrews 5:2 ): such sinning, where a consciousness of Gospel obligations not only was, but is present: a sinning presumptuously and preseveringly against Christ's redemption for us, and the Spirit of grace in us. "He only who stands high can fall low. A lively reference in the soul to what is good is necessary in order to be thoroughly wicked; hence, man can be more reprobate than the beasts, and the apostate angels than apostate man" [THOLUCK].
remaineth no more sacrifice--For there is but ONE Sacrifice that can atone for sin; they, after having fully known that sacrifice, deliberately reject it.
27. a certain--an extraordinary and indescribable. The indefiniteness, as of something peculiar of its kind, makes the description the more terrible (compare Greek, James 1:18 ).
looking for--"expectation": a later sense of the Greek. ALFORD strangely translates, as the Greek usually means elsewhere, "reception." The transition is easy from "giving a reception to" something or someone, to "looking for." Contrast the "expecting" (the very same Greek as here), Hebrews 10:13 , which refutes ALFORD.
fiery indignation--literally, "zeal of fire." Fire is personified: glow or ardor of fire, that is, of Him who is "a consuming fire."
28. Compare Hebrews 2:2 Hebrews 2:3 , 12:25 .
despised--"set at naught" [ALFORD]: utterly and heinously violated, not merely some minor detail, but the whole law and covenant; for example, by idolatry ( Deuteronomy 17:2-7 ). So here apostasy answers to such an utter violation of the old covenant.
died--Greek, "dies": the normal punishment of such transgression, then still in force.
without mercy--literally, "mercies": removal out of the pale of mitigation, or a respite of his doom.
under--on the evidence of.
29. sorer--Greek, "worse," namely, "punishment" (literally, "vengeance") than any mere temporal punishment of the body.
suppose ye--an appeal to the Hebrews' reason and conscience.
thought worthy--by God at the judgment.
trodden under foot the Son of God--by "wilful" apostasy. So he treads under foot God Himself who "glorified His Son as an high priest" ( Hebrews 5:5 , 6:6 ).
an unholy thing--literally, "common," as opposed to "sanctified." No better than the blood of a common man, thus involving the consequence that Christ, in claiming to be God, was guilty of blasphemy. and so deserved to die!
wherewith he was sanctified--for Christ died even for him. "Sanctified," in the fullest sense, belongs only to the saved elect. But in some sense it belongs also to those who have gone a far way in Christian experience, and yet fall away at last. The higher such a one's past Christian experiences, the deeper his fall.
done despite unto--by repelling in fact: as "blasphemy" is despite in words ( Mark 3:29 ). "Of the Jews who became Christians and relapsed to Judaism, we find from the history of Uriel Acosta, that they required a blasphemy against Christ. 'They applied to Him epithets used against Molech the adulterous branch,' &c." [THOLUCK].
the Spirit of grace--the Spirit that confers grace. "He who does not accept the benefit, insults Him who confers it. He hath made thee a son: wilt thou become a slave? He has come to take up His abode with thee; but thou art introducing evil into thyself" [CHRYSOSTOM]. "It is the curse of evil eternally to propagate evil: so, for him who profanes the Christ without him, and blasphemes the Christ within him, there is subjectively no renewal of a change of mind ( Hebrews 6:6 ), and objectively no new sacrifice for sins" ( Hebrews 10:26 ) [THOLUCK].
30. him--God, who enters no empty threats.
Vengeance belongeth unto me--Greek, "To Me belongeth vengeance": exactly according with Paul's quotation, Romans 12:19 , of the same text.
Lord shall judge his people--in grace, or else anger, according as each deserves: here, "judge," so as to punish the reprobate apostate; there, "judge," so as to interpose in behalf of, and save His people ( Deuteronomy 32:36 ).
31. fearful . . . to fall into the hands--It is good like David to fall into the hands of God, rather than man, when one does so with filial faith in his father's love, though God chastises him. "It is fearful" to fall into His hands as a reprobate and presumptuous sinner doomed to His just vengeance as Judge ( Hebrews 10:27 ).
living God--therefore able to punish for ever ( Matthew 10:28 ).
32. As previously he has warned them by the awful end of apostates, so here he stirs them up by the remembrance of their own former faith, patience, and self-sacrificing love. So Revelation 2:3 Revelation 2:4 .
call to remembrance--habitually: so the present tense means.
illuminated--"enlightened": come to "the knowledge of the truth" ( Hebrews 10:26 ) in connection with baptism Light," is put on. "On the one hand, we are not to sever the sign and the grace signified where the sacrifice truly answers its designs; on the other, the glass is not to be mistaken for the liquor, nor the sheath for the sword" [BENGEL].
fight of--that is, consisting of afflictions.
33. The persecutions here referred to seem to have been endured by the Hebrew Christians at their first conversion, not only in Palestine, but also in Rome and elsewhere, the Jews in every city inciting the populace and the Roman authorities against Christians.
gazing-stock--as in a theater (so the Greek): often used as the place of punishment in the presence of the assembled multitudes. Acts 19:29 , 1 Corinthians 4:9 , "Made a theatrical spectacle to the world."
ye became--of your own accord: attesting your Christian sympathy with your suffering brethren.
companions of--sharers in affliction with.
34. ye had compassion on me in my bonds--The oldest manuscripts and versions omit "me," and read, "Ye both sympathized with those in bonds (answering to the last clause of Hebrews 10:33 ; compare Hebrews 13:3 Hebrews 13:23 , 6:10 ), and accepted (so the Greek is translated in Hebrews 11:35 ) with joy ( James 1:2 ; joy in tribulations, as exercising faith and other graces, Romans 5:3 ; and the pledge of the coming glory, Matthew 5:12 ) the plundering of your (own) goods (answering to the first clause of Hebrews 10:33 )."
in yourselves--The oldest manuscripts omit "in": translate, "knowing that ye have for (or 'to') yourselves."
better--a heavenly ( Hebrews 11:16 ).
enduring--not liable to spoiling.
substance--possession: peculiarly our own, if we will not cast away our birthright.
35-37. Consequent exhortation to confidence and endurance, as Christ is soon coming.
Cast not away--implying that they now have "confidence," and that it will not withdraw of itself, unless they "cast it away" wilfully (compare Hebrews 3:14 ).
which--Greek, "the which": inasmuch as being such as.
hath--present tense: it is as certain as if you had it in your hand ( Hebrews 10:37 ). It hath in reversion.
recompense of reward--of grace not of debt: a reward of a kind which no mercenary self-seeker would seek: holiness will be its own reward; self-devoting unselfishness for Christ's sake will be its own rich recompense
36. patience--Greek, "waiting endurance," or "enduring perseverance": the kindred Greek verb in the Septuagint, Habakkuk 2:3 , is translated, "wait for it" (compare James 5:7 ).
after ye have done the will of God--"that whereas ye have done the will of God" hitherto ( Hebrews 10:32-35 ), ye may now show also patient, persevering endurance, and so "receive the promise," that is, the promised reward: eternal life and bliss commensurate with our work of faith and love ( Hebrews 6:10-12 ). We must not only do, but also suffer ( 1 Peter 4:19 ). God first uses the active talents of His servants; then polishes the other side of the stone, making the passive graces shine, patience, meekness, &c. It may be also translated, "That ye may do the will of God, and receive," &c. [ALFORD]: "patience" itself is a further and a persevering doing of "God's will"; otherwise it would be profitless and no real grace ( Matthew 7:21 ). We should look, not merely for individual bliss now and at death, but for the great and general consummation of bliss of all saints, both in body and soul.
37, 38. Encouragement to patient endurance by consideration of the shortness of the time till Christ shall come, and God's rejection of him that draws back, taken from Habakkuk 2:3 Habakkuk 2:4 .
a little while--( John 16:16 ).
he that shall come--literally, "the Comer." In Habakkuk, it is the vision that is said to be about to come. Christ, being the grand and ultimate subject of all prophetical vision, is here made by Paul, under inspiration, the subject of the Spirit's prophecy by Habakkuk, in its final and exhaustive fulfilment.
38. just--The oldest manuscripts and Vulgate read, "my just man." God is the speaker: "He who is just in My sight." BENGEL translates, "The just shall live by my faith": answering to the Hebrew, Habakkuk 2:4 ; literally, "the just shall live by the faith of Him," namely, Christ, the final subject of "the vision," who "will not lie," that is, disappoint. Here not merely the first beginning, as in Galatians 3:11 , but the continuance, of the spiritual life of the justified man is referred to, as opposed to declension and apostasy. As the justified man receives his first spiritual life by faith, so it is by faith that he shall continue to live ( Luke 4:4 ). The faith meant here is that fully developed living trust in the unseen ( Hebrews 11:1 ) Saviour, which can keep men steadfast amidst persecutions and temptations ( Hebrews 10:34-36 ).
if any man draw back--So the Greek admits: though it might also be translated, as ALFORD approves, "if he (the just man) draw back." Even so, it would not disprove the final perseverance of saints. For "the just man" in this latter clause would mean one seemingly, and in part really, though not savingly, "just" or justified: as in Ezekiel 18:24 Ezekiel 18:26 . In the Hebrew, this latter half of the verse stands first, and is, "Behold, his soul which is lifted up, is not upright in him." Habakkuk states the cause of drawing back: a soul lifted up, and in self-inflated unbelief setting itself up against God. Paul, by the Spirit, states the effect, it draws back. Also, what in Habakkuk is, "His soul is not upright in him," is in Paul, "My soul shall have no pleasure in him." Habakkuk states the cause, Paul the effect: He who is not right in his own soul, does not stand right with God; God has no pleasure in him. BENGEL translates Habakkuk, "His soul is not upright in respect to him," namely, Christ, the subject of "the vision," that is, Christ has no pleasure in him (compare Hebrews 12:25 ). Every flower in spring is not a fruit in autumn.
39. A Pauline elegant turning-off from denunciatory warnings to charitable hopes of his readers ( Romans 8:12 ).
saving of the soul--literally, "acquisition (or obtaining) of the soul." The kindred Greek verb is applied to Christ's acquiring the Church as the purchase of His blood ( Acts 20:28 ). If we acquire or obtain our soul's salvation, it is through Him who has obtained it for us by His bloodshedding. "The unbelieving man loses his soul: for not being God's, neither is he his own [compare Matthew 16:26 with Luke 9:25 ]: faith saves the soul by linking it to God" [DELITZSCH in ALFORD].