Heb. 10:1 ¶ For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
Heb. 10:2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
Again, the chapter break is not well placed; this chapter continues right on in the same vein as the last.
The law is synonymous with the old covenant and the temple sacrificial system. That whole system was a shadow that gave but a semblance of the real thing. The blessings associated with the original things in heaven that it represents are far superior to the blessings associated with obedience to the law connected with the shadow system around which the old covenant revolves.
The sacrifices that were continually made year by year (day by day and week by week) were not able to effect a change in those offering the sacrifices that would result in moral perfection. If that had been possible, the sacrifices would have become unnecessary. A person who has been cleansed to the point of moral perfection would be free from the guilt of sin in his/her life, would no longer struggle with the flesh.
Based on preceding chapters, the obvious inference is that the new covenant established by Jesus will be able to do what the old covenant could not.
Heb. 10:3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.
Heb. 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
Under the sacrificial system of the old covenant a person was required to confront the issue of his sins every year. Why? Because the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin.
In contrast, we learn from scripture that one who places faith in Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior is actually imputed the very righteousness of Christ.
2Cor. 5:18 & 21 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation….For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
These sacrifices were a continual reminder of one’s sin. Such a system, however, can soon become a ritual that one does without truly thinking about that truth. Ritual focuses on the action rather than the reason for the action—the need to maintain a right relationship with the LORD.
I remember in my study of Romans coming across a Messianic Jewish website that took great offense at the thought that God never forgave sins through the old covenant sacrifices; He just covered them (as I have been taught most of my life). I think a quote from that study is worth repeating here.
In checking the Hebrew I found that the word atonement was defined as to “cover, appease, pardon, purge.” Leviticus 16:30 in reference to the Day of Atonement states:
For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.
The Hebrew for clean indicates to be “pure, innocent.” So, I would conclude that the people of Israel were “forgiven” on a yearly basis as they evidenced their faith in God through obedience to His instructions. Other sacrifices were established for the individual to maintain a right relationship with God throughout the year. It is significant to note, however, that until the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, a person could not be imputed the righteousness of God that comes with permanent redemption through salvation by faith.
Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross…allowed for the righteousness of Jesus to be imputed to the sinner--not just those who have believed after the cross, but for those who exhibited their faith in God before the cross. The people of faith temporarily satisfied God through obedience in following the sacrificial system until the time that Jesus came as the only acceptable sacrifice for accomplishing permanent propitiation or redemption.
Heb. 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Heb. 9:15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
Heb. 10:5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:
Heb. 10:6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.
This begins a section of verses quoting from Psalm 40.
Psa. 40:6-10 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.
These are very hard and precious truths to embrace. God established the sacrificial system to provide for men of faith to maintain spiritual fellowship with Him until the time was right for His Son Jesus Christ to become the perfect Lamb of God as the only acceptable sacrifice through which the sinner can be made righteous. God was pleased when men were obedient to His commands, but He never took pleasure in the actual burnt offerings and sacrifices. They were simply placeholders and teaching tools that pointed to the coming Savior. It was man that brought sin into the world, and only a perfect man could qualify as the sacrifice that could atone for the sin of mankind. It was for that reason that Jesus came to earth in the body of a man.
Heb. 10:7 ¶ Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.
When I looked at the Greek for then, it stated “the when, i.e. at the time that (of the past or future, also in consecution):—that time.”
The psalmist was mirroring the thoughts of the Savior in response to wanting to please God. He goes on to declare that he knows that it is our desire to do His will in response to the law of God written in one’s heart along with the boldness to declare the message of God’s faithfulness and His salvation that brings God pleasure.
Jesus Christ came for that very purpose. From the time the sacrificial system was established, no, even before creation, God’s plan of redemption was in place with the full accord of His Son. Jesus states over and over again that He has come to do the will of His Father.
Matt. 26:39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
John 4:34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
John 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
From the book of Genesis through the book of Revelation, the coming of Christ as Savior and King is declared.
Gen. 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
Rev. 22:20 ¶ He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
Heb. 10:8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;
Heb. 10:9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.
The writer seems to be saying that these words as applied to Jesus Christ are His declaration to the fact that He is purposely establishing a new covenant and eliminating the old covenant through His willing sacrifice of Himself. We know that the writer’s application is correct since all scripture is given through inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
2Tim. 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Heb. 10:10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
The writer makes clear that only through the willing sacrifice of the man Jesus Christ on the cross is the repentant sinner sanctified or declared holy and righteous.
Heb. 10:11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
Heb. 10:12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
Heb. 10:13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.
We need to continue to remind ourselves that the writer has directed his letter to Jewish believers. These are the early days of the church and the sacrificial system is still prevalent and very much ingrained into their national identity. He is taking great pains to point out that the priests who minister in the temple are continually offering sacrifices that are powerless to purify the sinner and take away his sins.
He now draws direct contrast to these priests and the man Jesus Christ. This man offered Himself as the perfect Lamb of God in sacrifice for the sins of mankind and sat down at the right hand of God. This emphasizes three very important things.
Š His one sacrifice accomplished what the continual sacrifices made by the temple priests could not.
Š His position at the right hand of God declared His sacrifice to be pleasing to God.
Š He is positioned to be honored by the Father when He assumes the throne of His eternal kingdom and all His enemies have been conquered and are no longer a threat to His people.
Heb. 10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
“one offering” – the willing sacrifice of Jesus on the cross
“hath perfected” – made morally complete, declared righteous
“for ever” – perpetually, time without end
“them that are sanctified” – those who have been imputed the righteousness of Jesus by grace through faith. (7/09) This includes all men of faith from all times.
The writer seems to be deliberate in emphasizing that salvation is a done deal at the point of faith by using the past tense. It is the work of God in a person’s life. What God begins, He finishes.
Phil. 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
Heb. 10:15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,
Heb. 10:16 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 in their minds will I write them;
Heb. 10:17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
The writer is referencing the new covenant as prophesied by Jeremiah through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Jer. 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Jer. 31:34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
As we look at Jeremiah’s complete statement, it is clear that the reference is to a new covenant that effects moral completeness and righteousness in the life of the individual believer.
“after those days” – after the days during which the old covenant was in effect (implying the establishment of a new covenant)
“their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” – This phrase gives emphasis to the truth that the sacrifice of Jesus was sufficient for all time. No other sin sacrifices will be necessary.
Heb. 10:18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
My paraphrase—When one has been delivered from sin, there is no need for further sacrifice.
Heb. 10:19 ¶ Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
Heb. 10:20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
The high priest (and only the high priest) could only gain access to the Holy of Holies, the place of God’s presence, through the veil. Under the new covenant the individual believer has access to God’s presence through his position “in Christ Jesus.”
Rom. 8:1 ¶ There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
1Cor. 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
2Cor. 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Gal. 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Philem. 6 That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.
The man of faith can now enter God’s presence boldly because of the shed blood of Jesus. The veil through which the high priest entered the Holy of Holies was a man-made inanimate object. It tore from top to bottom when Jesus died on the cross, giving testimony to the fact that it was no longer needed.
Matthew 27:50-51 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent….
The flesh of Jesus that opens the door of access to the Father for the man of faith is the body of the living Son of God. It does away with the old covenant and establishes the new.
“consecrated for us” – The Greek declares this to emphasize that Jesus inaugurated or established a new covenant for men/women of faith.
Heb. 10:21 And having an high priest over the house of God;
Heb. 10:22 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.
“an high priest over the house of God” = Jesus Christ the Son of God
“draw near” – Fruchtenbaum: Greek imperative tense – It means to continue drawing near.
A “true heart” speaks of transparency, concealing nothing. To be “sprinkled” references cleansing, being purified.
Because Jesus is our High Priest we can personally draw near to God in sincerity and faith because our hearts (referencing our conscience, thoughts, feelings) and bodies have been made clean. Our hearts because we have been imputed the righteousness of God in Jesus, and our bodies through the washing of the water of the Word. How does the Word make our bodies clean? By directing us into obedience to the will of God as revealed in His Word. When we respond in obedience to His Word, we are using our bodies as vessels of honor and glory to God.
2Cor. 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Eph. 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
I almost left out the phrase “in full assurance of faith.” This is a statement of complete confidence in God—confidence based on the character of God and not based on our understanding the hows and whys that are natural questions when confronted by tough times of testing and/or “bad” things that happen to us on our pilgrimage in this life.
Heb. 10:23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
Heb. 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
These verses continue to emphasize the faithfulness/trustworthiness of God. We are to hold fast to our profession/confession of faith without wavering. “Hold fast” makes reference to seizing and hanging on. “Without wavering” made two interesting references--to reclining and not turning to flight. In other words, the person of faith should be resting in the faithfulness of God; he/she should not be worrying about “if” or “when” God is going to answer his prayer or meet his need. He/she should never give thought to running away from God based on his lack of understanding of His ways.
The believer has much better ways to use his energy. We should be actively engaged in taking stock of other believers in our circle and encouraging them accordingly to minister to one another with acts of love and service. The Greek for the word provoke states to incite to good from a root that states to exasperate or stir. In other words, it’s a reference to actions that are stronger than just words. For example, I get a picture of planning outreach to someone in need and engaging a fellow believer who is not prone to taking the initiative to go and serve with you.
Heb. 10:25 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.
In this verse the writer is actually giving support for the previous verse. When Christians are meeting together and spending time with one another in worship, they are more likely to spur one another on to acts of love and good works.
It is interesting that this day and age more than ever makes it easier for one to enjoy church in the privacy of one’s own home through TV and the internet. This option has often been a blessing to me in our particular circumstances. It is important, however, for the body of believers to meet together to make the best use of spiritual gifts on behalf of the body. It is when the body is functioning as a unit that it is more likely to grow healthier, stronger and more effective. It’s much harder to stay self-motivated to stay active in works of love and service; it’s much easier to be part of a group that encourages one in such endeavors.
I thought the last half of the verse was especially interesting. The writer seems to be saying that the more we see the signs from scripture that point to the Lord’s return, the more we should be disciplined to maintain corporate fellowship in local churches and encourage one another through prayer (from the Greek for exhorting). The Spirit is inspiring the writer’s message through His foreknowledge of those times just preceding the Lord’s return. That time is now. The intensity of the enemy’s attack on God’s word and the “church” is increasing at warp speed. Many are falling for deception and are failing to exercise discernment as self-declared prophets and selfishly-motivated leaders in the religious establishment twist the truth of God’s word towards their own agendas. Scripture is clear that iron sharpens iron, and that there is strength in unity of spirit. We can fight the enemy much more effectively as a unified team than as individuals. Satan knows his time is short; he knows the word of God better than most who call themselves Christian.
“as ye see…” - I think it is worth repeating that the writer expects the believer to recognize the signs of the times.
Heb. 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
Heb. 10:27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
These verses tend to turn the focus to the judgment of God at the return of the Messiah. Though the great white throne judgment will not take place until after the millennial kingdom, judgment for those living at that time will be just as sure. Those who are judged to be goats will not be allowed to enter the kingdom and have only the expectation of formal eternal condemnation.
Again, I liked the CJB translation of these verses:
For if we deliberately continue to sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but only the terrifying prospect of Judgment, of raging fire that will consume the enemies.
It is clear to me that this verse is describing someone who has rejected the gospel message and has purposed to continue a life of sin rather than repent and be saved. There is no other sacrifice than that of Jesus on the cross that can redeem you from sin. If you reject the gift of salvation as provided for by the sacrifice of Jesus, you will face the judgment of the fires of hell, as will all those who have positioned themselves as enemies of God by rejecting His Son. Jesus is THE way, THE truth, and THE life….there is salvation in no other.
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Acts 4:10 & 12 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole….Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
I had to remind myself that the purpose of this letter was to warn those who had heard and understood the gospel message not to choose to abandon the truth and go back to participating in the temple sacrifices. No matter how you try to justify it, there is no justification for such action; and there is no middle ground. Either you accept the sacrifice of Jesus as sufficient for your redemption or you don’t.
Heb. 10:28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
Under the old covenant laws recorded by Moses, a person could be put to death for certain transgressions of the law at the mouth of two or three witnesses.
Deut. 17:6 At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.
If the transgression called for death, there was no avenue for an appeal of mercy.
Heb. 10:29 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?
The writer seems to be saying that if transgression of the law requiring a death sentence was carried out without mercy, how much more certain is the punishment of one who rejects the Savior. To reject the Savior is declaring Jesus’ death on the cross as a worthless sacrifice; it’s an insult to the grace of God ministered through the Holy Spirit.
I’ve always loved the definition of grace that declares it to be “the divine influence upon the heart.” It is the mission of the Spirit to speak to the heart of the sinner to bring him/her to repentance. To reject the wooing of the Spirit in light of the beautiful gospel message He ministers declares the recipient as totally insulting and full of contempt for the message and the Messenger.
I thought it was interesting to see that “vindication” was included in the Greek for punishment. God’s punishment is an act of vindication, a declaration of His truth and authority. The Greek for “trodden under foot” states “to reject with disdain,” contempt or scorn. The word “counted” indicates that the person has made the decision to reject God’s Son after thoughtful consideration.
“the blood of the covenant” – This brought to mind how God sealed His covenant with Abraham with the blood of animals and with no strings attached and nothing further required from Abraham than to follow Him in faith. The new covenant God has established for people of faith is sealed with the precious blood of His Son with no further requirement than to accept it by faith.
I wish I knew Greek because I think the wording is confusing in the last half of the verse. The phrase “wherewith he was sanctified” seems to be referencing the person who has rejected Jesus. I had to remind myself that the writer is addressing people who have “professed” Jesus as Savior. It has been quite clear, however, throughout the letter that those who would turn back to Judaism and the sacrificial system are just “professors” and not “possessors” of salvation.
Heb. 10:30 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.
These quotes are from Deuteronomy:
Deut. 32:35 To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence….
Deut. 32:36 For the LORD shall judge his people….
It is obvious that the One speaking is God Himself. He is the only authority with the right to seek vengeance and retaliation against the wicked. He is only authority with the right and ability to determine right judgment of a person’s actions.
Heb. 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
The previous verse sets the context for this verse as one of judgment to condemnation, and it is terrifying for one who has rejected the Son of God to face judgment at the authoritative hand of God.
Heb. 10:32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;
Heb. 10:33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.
And the understanding gets more complex. These “professors” of the faith had exhibited evidence of accepting the precious gift of God in His Son to the point that they had endured persecution and shame with other people of faith because they were publicly identified as part of the “church.”
I couldn’t help but think back to the writer’s words in chapter 6.
Heb. 6:9-10 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
It’s like he is encouraging them to remember how they had treasured the gospel message they had received and to realize that they needed to stand firm in their faith and not fall for the deception of those who would draw them back to a system of works.
Heb. 10:34 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.
The writer goes on to remind these Hebrews of their ministry to him while he was in prison. It even sounds as if they had suffered maltreatment because of their support for him.
None of the other translations support a personal application to the writer, but whether their compassion and persecution was in connection with him or others of the faith, they responded to their loss with the realization that their true treasure was eternal treasure in heaven.
Heb. 10:35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
The writer is basically encouraging this body of believers to stand firm in their faith. After enduring so much, why would they even consider throwing away such a blessed eternal future!
Heb. 10:36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
In looking up some references on patience, I was reminded of the words of Paul in Romans.
Rom. 5:3-4 …but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
This body of believers had been enduring tribulation, and the Holy Spirit uses those experiences to produce patience in the lives of believers. It’s only in the flesh that we become impatient regarding the work of God in our lives. Obedience to God’s will results in receiving the promise of salvation and all the blessings that accompany it. This has been the thrust of the writer’s message throughout. Obedience declares belief; obedience proves faith.
Heb. 10:37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
“he that shall come” – In context, this applies to Jesus
In looking at the Greek for “tarry,” there is implication to a specific time that will happen on schedule; it is already designated on God’s calendar. When the Lord returns, He will be right on schedule. It’s the phrase “a little while” that causes misunderstanding because we are so quick to read things from our perspective without considering God’s perspective. What to God is a very little while can be a very long time from human perspective. Scripture tells us more than once that there is a great difference in looking at time from heaven’s perspective as compared to earth’s.
Psa. 90:4 For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
2Pet. 3:8 ¶ But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
Heb. 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
This is a quote from the prophet Habakkuk.
Hab. 2:3-4 though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry….the just shall live by his faith.
Faith carries one forward and not backward. Faith moves one to persevere and not quit. Faith confronts deception with the truth. Faith makes one strong and not weak. Faith leads one to obedience, not disobedience. Faith acts in confident expectation and not fear. In short, faith leads one to accept God’s gift of salvation, not reject it. One who rejects God’s gift gives God no pleasure, and they will in fact suffer His great displeasure.
Heb. 10:39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
As in verses 32-33 above, my thoughts are drawn back to the message of chapter 6. The writer is expressing his confidence that those in this body of believers “professing” faith indeed “possess” saving faith. In reference to the quote from Habakkuk in the previous verse, he identifies this body of believers with those who will “tarry and wait for” the return of the Lord--not among those who have chosen to reject the gift of salvation in Jesus to their eternal condemnation.