Hebrews 10






1 “For the Law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very

image of the things, can never with the same sacrifices year by year, which they

offer continually, make the comers thereunto perfect.”  The Law is said here to

exhibit a shadow (σκιὰν skian - shadow) of the good things to come (τῶν μελλόντων

ἀγαθῶν, - ton mellonton agathon -the good things to come), viz. of the “good

things” of which Christ is come as “High Priest” (ch. 9:11), belonging to the

μέλλοντος αἰῶνος mellontos aionosworld to come (ch.6:5),  οἰκουµένην τὴν

µέλλουσανoikoumenaen taen mellousanthe world to come (ch.2:5), which

is still, in its full realization, future to us, though already inaugurated by Christ,  

and though we have already tasted the powers of it (ch.6:5). Similarly (ch. 8:5)

the priests under the Law are said to have served a copy and shadow of the

heavenly things; i.e. of the heavenly realities to be revealed in the “coming

age.” To “shadow” is opposed “very image” (εἰκόνα eikona - image), which

means, not a representation apart from the things (as a statue or portrait may be

called an image), but (as emphasized by αὐτὴν autaen - same) the actual

presentment of the things themselves; which were, in fact, archetypal and

prior to the shadows of the Law, though their manifestation was reserved to

the future age.  Such is the sense of εἰκόνα in Colossians 3:10, κατεἰκόνα

τοῦ κτίσαντος αὐτόν - kateikona tou ktisantos autonafter the image of

Him that created him - and Romans 8:29, συµµόρφους τῆς εἰκόνος τοῦ υἱοῦ -

 summorphous taes eikonos tou huiou conformed to the image of the Son –

 (compare Colossians 1:15, where Christ is called εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου

eikon tou Theou tou aoratouimage of the invisible God - compare also Ibid.

ch.2:17, where σκιὰ  - skiashadow is opposed to σῶµα – soma - body.) In the

latter part of the verse, “they,” who “offer,” are the priests of the Law; “the comers

thereunto” (τοὺς προσερχομένους tous proserchoumenousthe ones comine) are

the people who resort to the rites. “Make perfect”  (τελειῶσαι teleiosaimake

perfect; to mature) means full accomplishment for them of what is aimed at; in

this case, remission of sin, and acceptance after complete atonement. The

verb τελειῶσῦν teleiosun -   though variously applied, signifies always full

completion of the purpose in view (compare ch. 7:19, οὐδὲν γὰρ ἐτελείωσεν

νόμος ouden gar eteleiosen ho nomosfor the law made nothing perfect).

 (For its application to Christ Himself, see under ch. 2:10; 5:9.)



The Law, its Service and its Limits (v. 1)


  • THE AIM OF GOD. To make men perfect. All God’s revelations and

the powers belonging to them have this for their end, to take imperfect men

(men in whom there are all sorts of imperfections, physical, intellectual,

spiritual, men who have mixed with their nature a corrupt and debasing

element) and make them perfect. And this is to be done according to a

Divine standard of perfection, not a human one. Indeed, that human

excellence should attain a Divine standard is as necessary for the

satisfaction of man as it is for the glory of God. All that is instrumental and

ministerial about human life is to be measured as it serves towards the

perfecting of the individual man in true godliness and Christian character.

And we must ever remember this in the midst of all the infirmities and

lapses of our present life. We are, indeed, strangely blind to the marvelous

possibilities that lie hid in every human being. We often have to say of men

that their purposes are broken off, but forget all the time that God’s

purposes for men may all be fulfilled if only they are willing to be

co-workers together with Him.  (I Corinthians 3:9)


  • THE SERVICE OF THE LAW. The Law, taken in its most

comprehensive sense, including commandments as to conduct on the one

hand, and ceremonies on the other, was of immediate service in two ways.

It made men:


o       dissatisfied with their present selves, and

o       intensely anxious to be better.


If it did not give a standard of life positively, it was something

that it gave one negatively. One of the great merits of Psalm 119 is in

showing what the Law could do by way of stirring up spiritual

aspirations, and filling men with a sublime discontent. (Bro. Larry

Purcell, a former pastor, suggested to read one verse a day from Psalm

119 and meditate on it.  One would go through it twice in a year. 

CY – 2014)  For what the writer of this psalm expresses, thousands

must have felt. Like Paul, they wanted to do good, yet evil was present

with them. (see Romans ch. 7:15-25)  And always, to many, the Law must

have been indeed a shadow of good things to come, a proof that there was

abiding substance which would ONE DAY BE MANIFESTED!


  • THE LIMITS OF THE LAW. The Law was good as indicating where

perfection lay; but there was in it nothing dynamic, nothing to advance men

one stage nearer perfection. Indeed, the Law, apart from its proper sequel

in Christ, would have done harm rather than good, inasmuch as it would

have driven men to despair. Perfection would have been seen across an

impassable abyss. It has always been a curse of fallen human nature that

what God gives for one purpose man uses for another. In the course of

ages the Jew had reduced a Law meant to rouse the heart, a Law that in

the very essence of it was spiritual, to a mere collection of external

ceremonies. The Law was reckoned as something that could be obeyed

with the hands and lips. And because men had lost the main part of the

Law, the Law itself must have fallen into disrepute with many. Outwardly

they saw a profession of religion; inwardly they saw a sordid and

uncharitable life. And even the gospel may be misused as much as the Law.

There may be an outward semblance of connection with Christ, while He

has no power over the heart. Men did come to the Law seeking perfection;

all Pharisees were not bad men at heart; their consciences were misled by

traditional teaching as to the importance of ceremonies. In their own

strength they did their very best to obey. What is wanted is that we should

really come to Christ, that our hearts should be brought fully under the

regenerating power of His Spirit. Then shall we know something of steady

and joyous approach ‘to perfection; for while perfection itself may only

come by slow degrees, yet Christ surely means us to have the satisfaction

of knowing constantly that we are in THE RIGHT WAY!


2 “For then (i.e. had it been so able) would they (the

sacrifices) not have ceased to be offered, because that the worshippers,

(having been) once purged, should have had no more conscience of

sins?   3  But (on the contrary) in those sacrifices there is a remembrance

again made of sins every year.”  The very annual repetition of the same

expiatory rites on the Day of Atonement expressed in itself the idea, not of

the putting away (ἀθέτησιν athetaesinput away; repudiation - ch. 9:26) or

oblivion, (ch.10:17) of sin, but a recalling to mind of its continual presence. In

the following verse the reason of this is found in the nature of the sacrifices

themselves; it being impossible for the blood of irrational animals to

cleanse moral guilt: it could only avail for the “passing over” (πάρεσιν

paresinremission; passing over - Romans 3:25) of sins, as symbolizing an

effectual atonement to come in the spiritual sphere of things.



Reminding Men of Sins (v. 3)


  • THE NEED OF SUCH A REMINDER. Men need to be impressed with

the fact that sin is sin, something special, something done in defiance of

God’s Law. If we do hurt to a fellow-man, even if he condone and excuse,

that does not put things as they were before. God would have us to

consider what a serious and terrible thing it is that we should do wrong at

all. Then also we need to be reminded because of our liability to forget.

LIFE IS ONE LONG SIN (I remember studying the book of Judges and

left with the idea that it is good that life is so short because we are prone

to do evil!  - CY – 2014)  made up of daily omissions and commissions in

what are called little things. We see well enough as each day is passing over

our heads what wrong words we have spoken, what evil thoughts we have

had in our hearts; some days we feel deeply enough the sin of the day; but

soon the impression is gone. The total of LIFE’S SIN STILL REMAINS,

and it is above all things needful THAT WE SHOULD NOT FORGET IT!

Then most important of all, perhaps, is it that we should be reminded how

much of the trouble and misery of life comes from our ignorance. Sins of

ignorance were specially provided for in the Mosaic economy. A man can

hardly be blamed for what he does in ignorance, and certainly he is in a very

different position from one who lets lust and pride lead him against TRUTH

and LIGHT!   But the evil done in ignorance is evil none the less, and men

need to be wakened up to consider how much truth and righteousness they

are still ignorant of. The past is not done with because it is past. (“God

requireth that which is past.”  - Ecclesiastes 3:15;  “He hath appointed

a day, in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man

whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto ALL

MEN, in that He hath RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD!  - Acts 17:31)

The future has its roots in the past, and this yearly reminder of sin among

God’s people of old (The Day of Atonement) should teach us to desire

reminders of the sin of life, not merely at particular seasons, but as often

as possible.


  • WE HAVE OUR REMINDERS OF SIN. Bodily reminders in the

shape of disease and weakness consequent on evil courses of life.

Reminders in the feelings of the heart consequent on disappointment and

failure from selfish courses of action. Especially the Christian, the devout

Christian, has his reminders at the Lord’s Supper. Jesus himself spoke of

this institution as an ἀνάμνησις anamnaesisremembrance – (Luke 22:19).

It was to remind His people of Himself, but this very reminding included

many things beside. Jesus must be remembered with certain surroundings,

and no sinner can remember Him rightly without remembering his own

sins at the same time.


4 “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats

(specified as being the offerings of the Day of Atonement) should take

away sins.” The principle of the insufficiency of animal sacrifices having

been thus expressed, confirmation of it is now further adduced from the

Old Testament itself, together with a prophetic anticipation of the great

self-oblation which was to take their place.


5 “Wherefore, when He cometh into the world, He saith,

Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou

prepared me: 6  In burnt offering and sacrifices for sin thou hast

had no pleasure:  7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume (i.e. roll) of the

book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God.”  The quotation is from

Psalm 40:6-8. It is entitled “a psalm of David,” nor is there anything

in the psalm itself incompatible with his authorship. The question of

authorship is, however, unimportant; all that is required for the purpose of

the quotation being that it should have been the utterance of an inspired

psalmist. The primary import of the passage quoted is that the psalmist,

after deliverance from great affliction, for which he gives thanks, expresses

his desire to act on the lesson learnt in his trouble by giving himself entirely

to God’s service. And the service in which God delights he declares to be,

not sacrifices of slain beasts, but the doing of his will, the ears being

opened to His Word, and His Law being within the heart. Now, bearing in

mind what was said under ch.1:5, of the principle on which

words used in the Old Testament with a primary human reference are

applied in the New Testament directly to Christ, we shall have no difficulty

in understanding such application here. The psalmist, it may be allowed,

spoke in his own person, and as expressing his own feelings and desires;

but, writing under inspiration, he aspired to an ideal beyond his own

attainment, the true ideal for humanity, to be REALIZED ONLY IN

CHRIST!   The ideal is such perfect self-oblation of the human will to

God’s will as to supersede and render needless the existing sacrifices, which

are acknowledged to be, in their own nature, valueless. That the psalmist did

not really contemplate the fulfillment of this ideal in himself is evident from

the penitential confessions of the latter verses of the psalm. It is but the

yearning of inspired humanity for what was really needed for reconciliation

with God, such yearning being in itself a prophecy. Hence what was thus

spoken in the Spirit is adduced as expressing the mind and work of Him

who fulfilled all those prophetic yearnings, and effected, as Man and for

man, what the holy men of old longed to do but could not. The expression,

“when He cometh into the world,” reminds us of ch.1:6. The word

εἰσερχόμενος eiserchomenosentering; I am arriving; He cometh -  here used,

is connected in thought with the ἥκω heko I am come – (v. 7) in the quotation.

Idle are the inquiries of some commentators as to the precise time, either before or

after the Incarnation, at which our Lord is to be conceived as so speaking. Enough

to say that His purpose in coming into the world is in these significant words

expressed. It is noteworthy, in regard to the attribution of this utterance to Him,

how frequently He is recorded to have spoken of having come into the world for

the accomplishment of a purpose.  (See Matthew 5:17; 10:34-35; 18:11; 20:28;

Mark 1:38; Luke 9:56; John 9:39; 10:10; and especially for close agreement with

the language of the passage before us, John 6:38, “I came down from heaven,

not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me;” and John 12:46,

“I am come a light into the world.) The psalm is quoted from the Septuagint,

with slight variation, not worth considering, as it does not affect the sense of

the passage. But the variation of the Septuagint from the Hebrew text requires



(1) Instead of (σῶμα δὲ μοι - soma de kataertiso moia body has thou

prepared me) of the Septuagint and the quotation from it, the Hebrew has “mine

ears hast thou opened;” literally, “ears hast thou dug for me,” meaning probably,

“formed the cavity of my ears through which thy Word may penetrate,”

equivalent to “given me ears to hear,” with reference, of course, to spiritual

auscultation. If to the Hebrew verb hr"k; be assigned here the sense of

piercing, rather than hollowing out, implying an entrance affected through

the ears already formed, the general sense remains the same. In either case

the word κατηρτίσω may be accounted for, as being a free rendering,

intended to give the meaning of the figure. But the substitution of “body”

for “ears” is not so easily accounted for. One conjecture is that some

transcriber of the Alexandrian translation of the Hebrew had inadvertently

joined the last letter of the preceding word ἠθέλησας haethelaesas

thou wouldest; you will , to the following word, ωτὶα otiaear -  and that

the TI of CWTIA was then changed into the M of   OWMA, so as to make

sense of the word thus formed. But this is only conjecture. That some copies

of the Septuagint had ὼτὶα appears from the fact that the Vulgate, translated

from the Septuagint, reads aures perfecisti mihi, and that some manuscripts

of the  still have ωτὶα, or ὧτα.   Thus there can be little doubt that σῶμα was a

wrong rendering of the Hebrew, however originating, which the writer of the

Epistle found in the copies of the Septuagint which he used. For that he himself

altered the word to suit his purpose, and that the alteration got into copies of

the Septuagint from the Epistle, is highly improbable, considering the general

accuracy of his quotations, and his purpose of proving his positions from the

sacred documents to which his readers could refer. As to the unimportance of

any such variations from the original Hebrew in the quotations of the Epistle

from the Septuagint, as long as the argument is not affected, see what is said

under ch. 1:7 with respect to the quotation from Psalm 104. In

this case the variation certainly does not affect the argument. For though

the word σῶμα is certainly taken up again in v. 10 as applicable to

Christ, yet the argument of the passage by no means rests on this word, but

on θελήματι thelaemati - will. This is indeed a passage (as was observed under

ch. 9:14) notable for the very fact that the essence of the atonement is in it

represented as consisting, not so much in its physical accompaniments as in

its being a spiritual act of perfect self-oblation.


(2) The more probable meaning of the phrase translated in the Septuagint. and

the quotation, γέγραπται περὶ μοῦ - gegraptai peri emou - it is written of me) is

in the Hebrew,” it is prescribed unto me,” i.e. “laid on me as a duty;” this being

also the sense in which the same words occur in II Kings 22:13, “Great

is the wrath of the Lord... because our fathers have not hearkened unto the

words of this book, to do according unto all that which is prescribed to

us;” where the Septuagint translates,  τα γεγραμμένα καθἡμῶν

ta gegrammena kathhaemonthat which is written concerning us.

The most obvious reference of the Hebrew psalm is to the Book of the Law

generally, in which the duty of fulfilling the Divine will is enjoined, rather

than to any prophecy, applied by the writer to himself individually. If so, it

is not necessary to inquire what prophecy about himself David might have

had in view; whether e.g. Genesis 49:10; Numbers 24:17; or

Deuteronomy 17:14, et seq. But the phrase, περὶ μοῦ (of me), does certainly

rather suggest a prophecy, and such suggestion is peculiarly appropriate in

the application to Christ. Well, then, if here again there is some variation

from the original Hebrew text, it is still such as to leave the general

argument intact.


8 “Above when He said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and

offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein;

(such as are offered according to the Law); which are offered by the law; 

9 Then said He, Lo, I come to do thy will,  O God. He taketh away the

first, that he may establish the second.  10 By the which will we are

sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

The purpose of thus putting it is to show the connection between the two

assertions; that fulfillment of God’s will is spoken of as a substitute for

sacrifices, whose inutility in themselves had been declared. Yes; he taketh

away the first, that he may establish the second. In the which will (the Divine

will, willing our redemption through Christ, and perfectly fulfilled by Him)

we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once

for all. For the sense to be attached to the verb ἁγιάζων hagiazonone

hallowing; one sanctifying - see under ch.2:11.  It is not our progressive

sanctification by the Holy Ghost that is intended, but the hallowing effected

for us once for all, as denoted by the perfect participle ἡγιασμένοι

haegiasmenoihaving been hallowed; having been sanctified. The remainder

of this concluding summary (vs. 11-19) serves to weave together the various

threads of the foregoing argument and emphasize the result.




The Imperfect Sacrifices and the Perfect Sacrifice (vs. 5-10)


  • THE IMPERFECT SACRIFICES. The imperfection of the legal

sacrifices has been exhibited already with considerable fullness. In the

preceding verses of this chapter it is pointed out that they were mere

shadows of the true Sacrifice; they could not cleanse the offerers, or take

away their sins. Another aspect of this imperfection is brought into view in

our text. These sacrifices are spoken of as unacceptable to God. “Sacrifice

and offering thou wouldest not... sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt

offerings and sacrifices for sins thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure

therein; the which are offered according to the Law.” How are we to

understand this? Were not these sacrifices and offerings instituted by Him?

When the Divine intention in them was realized, and they were offered in

the true spirit, they were, undoubtedly, acceptable to Him. When the sin

offering was the manifestation of the offerer’s penitence for sin and desire

for forgiveness; when the burnt offering symbolized the self-consecration

of the offerer to God, and the meat offering was the spontaneous tribute of

a thankful heart to the Giver of all good, then they were well pleasing to

God. But when they were offered as though the offering of them were

meritorious on the part of the offerers, or as substitutes for personal

obedience and service, they were not acceptable unto God. This is the

aspect in which they are introduced in our text — the offering of sacrifices

as contrasted with the rendering of willing obedience to the will of God.

He has explicitly and repeatedly declared in the Scriptures that such

sacrifices He will not accept (compare I Samuel 15:22; Psalm 50:8-14;

51:16-19; Proverbs 21:3; Isaiah 1:11-17; Jeremiah 7:21-23; Hosea 6:6;

Micah 6:6-8; Matthew 9:13; Mark 12:33). The principle is applicable still.

God will not accept our professions, praises, prayers, or gifts as substitutes

for faith, love, obedience, and self-consecration.


  • HE PERFECT SACRIFICE.Wherefore when He cometh into the

world, he saith,” etc. The perfection of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is here

seen in several particulars.


Ø      It originated with God the Father. Sacrifice and offering thou

wouldest not, but a body didst thou prepare for me He taketh

away the first, that He may establish the second.” Not only the

sacrifice of the Christ, but His whole mission, was the outworking

of the counsel and plan of God. The Savior Himself was the great

Gift of the heavenly Father to our lost world.  All our blessings

flow from the throne of God.


Ø      It expresses the most perfect obedience.


o       Obedience in the highest spirit. With perfect voluntariness

our Lord did the will of God the Father. Freely He entered

upon and fulfilled His great redemptive mission. “Then said I,

Lo, I am come to do thy will, O God.”  More forcibly is this

aspect of Christ’s work expressed in the psalm from which

our text is quoted: “I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea,

thy Law is within my heart.”  (Psalm 40:8)  “Jesus saith,

 My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish

His work.” (John 4:34)  “I came down from heaven, not to

do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me.”  (Ibid.

ch. 6:38)  He found deepest and purest joy in doing the holy

will of God. His own will, His entire being, was in beautiful

and blessed accord with the will of His Father. His obedience

was not in word and action only, but in thought, feeling, and

volition. In the sight of God the obedience of a moral being is

never true except it be voluntary.


o       Obedience in the fullest extent. Our Lord “fulfilled all

righteousness.”  (Matthew 3:15)  But did His obedience

include suffering and sacrifice? Our text returns a

decisive reply. “A body didst thou prepare for me. I am

come to do thy will, O God. In which wilt we have been

sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ

once for all.” The will of the Father included the suffering

and death of the Son as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.

On this point the testimony of the sacred Scriptures is clear

and conclusive.  “The Son of man came to give his life a

Ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28; see also Ibid. ch.26:39, 42;

Luke 24:26-27, 44-47). He was “obedient even unto death,

yea, the death of the cross.”  (Philippians 2:8)  But even here

it was not the intensity of the sufferings which made the

sacrifice acceptable unto God, but the piety of the spirit in

which they were endured. The sacrifice was perfect because

it was offered in the fulfillment of the will of the Father.  It is

monstrous to suppose that the Deity could be pleased with mere

suffering. It is the spiritual essence in the atonement that makes it

to be what it is to us. It may be accepted as certain, that in the

gift of the Son of God we have the brightest manifestation of the

love of the Father; and that in the willing humiliation and grief

of the Redeemer we have the tenderest revelation of pity towards

the evil and unthankful, and at the same time the noblest act

of worship ever rendered to the good and the holy. In this sense

it is truly by the sorrows, the death, the cross of Christ, that we

have salvation. It has been His will to become thus acquainted

with grief, and to die — to die the death of the cross — that we

might be saved.” The perfection of the Savior’s sacrifice was in




o       It accomplishes its Divine design. In the which will we have

been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus

Christ once for all.”  Ebrard interprets sanctification here as

involving “both justification and sanctification.” But the use of

the perfect participle, “we have been sanctified,” “expresses

not our subjective sanctification, but our objective reception

into true relationship to God, and into the actual fellowship of

the members of the people of God as ‘the saints’ (ch.6:10).

By His one great offering of Himself our Lord has provided

all that man needs for the forgiveness of his sins, for his

acceptance with God, and for the purifying and perfecting of


PERFECT!   To it nothing can be added; in it no

improvement can be made.  Man’s great business in relation

to it is to accept of it, and become perfected (v.14) through it.

                                    (Reader, are you saved?  If not, see How to be Saved –

                                    #5 – this website – CY – 2014) 


11 “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes

the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:  12 But this man,

after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right

hand of God; 13 From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His


FOR EVER AVAILING SACRIFICE  is brought into connection, as

its result, the fulfillment in Christ for man of the ideal of Psalm 8:6

(which was set forth in ch. 2:5-10; see the remarks there made),

and also of the Son’s exaltation to the right hand of God, declared in Psalm

110. (referred to in ch. 1:13, and brought fully into view in ch.8:1, after the

chapter about Melchizedek). Be it observed that the priesthood “after the

order of Melchizedek” in itself implied this exaltation, which was in fact

inferred from it. For the priesthood after this order, having been shown

to be eternal and unchangeable, was further seen, from Psalm 110., to be

conjoined to the eternal royalty at God’s right hand.



The Sacrifice and Sovereignty of Christ (vs. 12-13)




Ø      Self-sacrifice. The Jewish priests offered goats, lambs, etc. But

Jesus Christ gave Himself.” The whole of His life upon earth

was a sacrifice. The sufferings of the closing scenes were sacrificial.

His death was sacrificial. In all He acted with entire spontaneity

(John 10:17-18). All was the outcome of the infinite love wherewith

He loved us. It is of the very nature of love to sacrifice self for the

beloved. No sacrifice is so Divine as that of self. “Greater love hath

no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” 

(John 15:13).


Ø      Self-sacrifice for sin. The death of Jesus was neither:


o       a mere martyrdom; nor

o       an offering to pacify the wrath of God; but

o       it was a “sacrifice for sins.” “He appeared to put away sin by

the sacrifice of Himself.”  (ch. 9:26)  “Christ also suffered for

sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous,” (I Peter 3:18)


Ø      Self-sacrifice for sin of perpetual efficacy. “He offered one sacrifice for

sins for ever.” (v. 12)  Christ’s sacrifice was offered once for all.  It needs

no repetition. It is completely efficacious for all sins of all men for ever

(ch. 9:25-28). It seems to us that to speak of “offering Christ upon

the altar” in the Lord’s Supper is utterly unscriptural, and a reflection on

the sufficiency of the “one sacrifice for sins forever” which our Lord



  • THE POSITION OCCUPIED BY CHRIST. “Sat down on the right

hand of God.” This position is suggestive of:


Ø      Rest. The sitting down is opposed to the standing of the preceding

verse.  Christ’s sacrificial work is completed. The sufferings of His

earthly life are over forever. The toil and conflict are all past. He has

finished the work that was given Him to do (compare ch.1:3).


Ø      Honor. The right hand” is the position of honor. He is “crowned with

glory and honor” (ch.2:9; compare Philippians 2:6-11). The glory

of redemption is His.


Ø      His exaltation is a guarantee that all who are one with Him in

sacrifice shall be one with him in sovereignty. There is a cross for

each of His disciples; there is also a crown for every one who

faithfully bears that cross (compare Matthew 16:24; John 12:26;

Romans 8:17; Revelation 3:21).



henceforth expecting till His enemies be made the footstool of His feet.”

The foes of our Lord are rebellious angels and rebellious men. All persons

and all things which are opposed to His character and sovereignty are His

enemies. Ignorance, the darkness of the mind, is opposed to Him as “the

Light” and “the Truth.” Tyranny is opposed to Him as the great

Emancipator. He proclaimed the universal brotherhood of men. Sin is

opposed to Him as the Savior and the Sovereign of men. Death is opposed

to Him as the Life and the Lifegiver. All these He will completely and for

ever vanquish. “He must reign till He hath put all his enemies under His

feet.”  (I Corinthians 15:25)  Let us endeavor to realize the certainty of this.


Ø      History points to it. During nearly twenty centuries the spirit and the

principles of Christ have been advancing and gaining strength in the

world.  Tyrannical despotisms passing away; free governments spreading;

slavery losing its place and power; liberty and the recognition of human

brotherhood constantly growing; cruelties and oppressions ever

decreasing; Christian charities and generosities ever increasing; the night

of ignorance receding; the day of intelligence advancing and brightening.

The past is prophetic of the complete triumph of Christ.  (Parable of the

mustard seed – (Matthew 13:31-32)


Ø      The spirit of the age points to it. There is much of evil in the age; but

there are also many good and hope-inspiring things. The age is one of

broadening freedom, earnest inquiry, growing intelligence, and many and

ever-increasing charities. All these are in harmony with Christianity,

results of Christianity; and as men advance in them they will be the

more fitted and disposed to embrace Christianity.


Ø      Gods Word assures it. (See Psalm 2:8; 72:8-17; Daniel 7:13-14.)


Ø      Christ is waiting for it. From henceforth expecting— implying

His undoubted assurance of it. He cannot be disappointed.


14 “For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”

The tense of the participle ἁγιαζομένους hagiazomenousthem that are sanctified;

ones being hallowed - , instead of as v. 10 ἡγιασμένοι (having been sancitified), in 10,

does not involve a different sense of the verb, viz. the ordinary one associated with

the word “sanctify.” When it was necessary to express by the word itself the

accomplishment of sanctification in the sense intended, the perfect participle was

used; here the subjects of the same sanctification are denoted, the accomplishment

being expressed by τετελείωκεν teteleiokenHe hath perfected -  (compare  

οἱ ἁγιαζόµενοι – hoi hagiazomenoithey who are sanctified; the ones being

hallowed -  ch. 2:11). The meaning of τετελείωκε (hath perfected) may be taken

as ruled by τοὺς ἁγιαζομένους  - tous hagiazomenousthem that are sanctified;

the ones being hallowed - hath perfected them as ἁγίοι hagioiholy; the

sanctified; saints -  done all that was required for their being such, without

any need of any further offering (compare v. 1).


15 “Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that He had

said before,  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;  17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember  no more. 

18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”

Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. The apodosis

to “after that He hath said,”  not distinctly marked in the Greek or in the

Authorized Version is denoted in the above rendering by then saith He

before v. 17. Another view is that it begins earlier in the sentence, being

introduced by saith the Lord,” which occurs in the quotation from

Jeremiah. But this is improbable, since


(1) words in the quotation itself could not well be intended to be

understood as the quoter’s own;


(2) the quotation down to v. 17 is continuous, whereas the citation of

v. 17 is in the original passage of Jeremiah separated from the preceding one;


(3) the logical conclusion intended to be drawn requires v. 17 to be the

apodosis. For the writer’s purpose in referring once more to Jeremiah’s

prediction of the “new covenant” is to show from it the completeness and

finality of Christ’s atonement; and this, he argues, follows from this

characteristic of the “new covenant” being added to the previous

description of it — “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”



Close of the Argument (vs. 1-18)


This concluding passage presents little more than a restatement of some

points which have been already marked in the discussion which occupies

the three preceding chapters. The kernel-thought of the paragraph is

expressed in v. 9: “He taketh away the first” (the Jewish sacrifices), “that

He may establish the second” (redemption by the sacrifice of Himself).



SACRIFICES, (v. 1-4.) Although these availed to remove ceremonial

uncleanness, and were the appointed types of the offering of Christ, they

were literally useless in relation to the highest ends of sacrifice. The

apostle notes three points.


The Levitical offerings were inadequate even as representations of THE

TRUE SACRIFICE!  (v. 1.) The entire Jewish ceremonial-tabernacle,

priest, victim — was “a shadow” of the coming blessings of the gospel

dispensation. But it was “not the very image of the things;” it presented

only a rude and incomplete sketch of the great facts and doctrines of

Christianity. Take one point as an example. The victims under the Law

were dragged unwillingly to the altar; — how inaccurate this feature as

compared with the loving obedience and the voluntary self-sacrifice of

the Lord Jesus!  (“He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He

opened not His mouth:  He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter,

and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not

His mouth!”  (Isaiah 53:7)


Ø      They were of no use whatever for the removal of guilt. The necessity

constantly to repeat them showed this (vs. 1-2). And so did the nature of

the sacrifices themselves. Our reason readily assents to the declaration

(v. 4) that the blood of beasts can NEVER EXPIATE THE SINS OF

MEN!   Brute nature is incapable of spiritual suffering. Animal

sacrifices could not adequately reflect God’s hatred of sin. They could

not vindicate His justice, or recompense His Law. Such blood has no

virtue to pacify the conscience, or to purify the soul.


Ø      Their influence went to perpetuate the remembrance of sins. (v. 3.)

The divinely appointed repetition of the Levitical sacrifices showed

that God could not accept them as a real atonement, and therefore

could not forget the offences of the worshippers. It was intended

also to press home upon the consciences of the people the thought

of the accumulated arrears of unexpiated sin.



(vs. 5-18.) Throughout these verses two passages are cited from the Old

Testament, to illustrate the contrast between the legal offerings and the

atonement of the Lord Jesus. The infinite merit of His sacrifice is

conspicuous, whatever the aspect in which it is viewed.


Ø      Christs satisfaction has shown that obedience is the true sacrifice.

(vs. 5-9.) To illustrate this point the writer quotes from a Messianic

psalm (Psalm 40:6-8). God “delights not in the blood of bullocks, or of

lambs, or of he-goats.” The legal sacrifices were useful only as types

of THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST, and His blood is the symbol of

His own perfect obedience as our Substitute. His sacrifice of Himself

was the offering of an obedient will. He was obedient unto death.”

(Philippians 2:8)  The “ears” which God had pierced for Him

(Psalm 40:6) were ever swift to hear the Divine commands, and the

“body” which He had prepared for Him (ch.10:5) readily submitted

itself to the Divine will. In coming to the world, and in dying for

man’s redemption, Jesus was “doing the will” of His Father. His

voluntary “obedience unto death” has swept away for ever the

Levitical sin offerings, and His people can now serve God

acceptably only by sprinkling themselves with His blood, and

then “presenting their bodies a living sacrifice.”  (Romans 12:1-2)


Ø      Christs satisfaction has accomplished the removal of guilt. (vs.10-14.)

His people are “sanctified,” i.e. cleansed from guilt, through the

offering of His body once for all.” (v. 10)  The Aaronical priests always

stood at their work; they never sat down in the tabernacle. Indeed, no

seats were provided for them there. Their constant standing was

suggestive of the fact that the ever-repeated sacrifices WERE OF

NO AVAIL for the pardon of transgression. But our high Priest,

after His one offering of Himself as a sacrificial Victim, sat down

in the most honorable place of the heavenly holy of holies, and

STILL CONTINUES TO SIT THERE!   His very attitude shows

that He has fully accomplished the end contemplated by His sacrifice.

His completed atonement, besides being the purchase of His

mediatorial royalty and the pledge of His final victory over His

enemies, has also “perfected” His people “forever” as regards

their justification.


Ø      Christs satisfaction takes away the remembrance of sin. (vs. 15-18.)

The Prophet Jeremiah, in his oracle about the new covenant, had

predicted this (Jeremiah 31:34). After the sacrifice of Calvary,

there would be no more need for the annual expiatory rite on the

Day of Atonement a ceremony which, in fact, had only served

to bring sins to remembrance.  Now that the great redemption

has been accomplished, the iniquities of the believer are really

swept away and put an end to.  GOD BLOTS THEM OUT! 

He casts them behind His back. (Isaiah 38:17)  He makes them

as though they had never been.  And this obliteration evinces


OF JESUS CHRIST  and certifies the abolition of the Hebrew




Complete Forgiveness through the Perfect Sacrifice (v. 18)


“Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” Our

text authorizes three observations.



is implied in the text. It is stated more than once in the preceding argument.

To prove it was one of the great objects of the doctrinal portion of this

letter. It has already come under our notice in several of our homilies (see

on ch. 7:26-28; 9:11-12; 9:13-14; here vs.5-10).



SACRIFICE IS COMPLETE. This completeness is exhibited by the writer:


Ø      By comparing it with the partial putting away of sins obtained through

the legal sacrifices. “Sacrifices which can never take away sins” (v. 11).

The word employed here signifies “to take clean away (compare Acts

27:20), i.e. to put off like the garment which clings to the person, or the

ring on the finger; as, for instance, the besetting sin of ch. 12:1, or the

besetting infirmity of v. 3. The sacred writer does not mean to say that

sins were not forgiven to sacrificial worshippers under the Law; but that

the legal sacrifices had no inward spiritual power to give peace to the

conscience, or any assured sense of pardon, purity to the heart, or any

really new beginning of spiritual life (ch.9:9). With these in their subject

matter and their inadequacy, ever similar and oft-repeated sacrifices, he

contrasts (v. 12) the one sacrifice for sins of Jesus Christ, which is no

other than Himself.  The (egal sacrifice might bring sense of partial

forgiveness; but it could never denude the offerer of sinfulness —

strip off and take away his guilt. But through the sacrifice of

the Christ sin is really taken away. He who heartily believes in Him is

reconciled unto God, receives absolute and full forgiveness of sins,

and is inspired by a new and holy affection, even supreme love to God.

And this affection is the mightiest antagonist of sin. He who is inspired

by it is not overcome of evil, but overcomes evil with good.


Ø      By the expressions which are used to set it forth. “Their sins and their

iniquities will I remember no more” (see our remarks on ch.8:12).

Here is the greatest encouragement to sinners to seek forgiveness

from God. “There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared..

…with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption.”

(Psalm 130; 4,7) “Let the wicked forsake his way,” etc. (Isaiah 55:7).



“Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”

Being perfect in itself and in its efficacy, His sacrifice needs no

repetition (see remarks on this in our homilies on ch. 7:26-28;

9:27-28; 10:5-10). Learn the folly of looking for other and more effective

means of salvation. The grandest and most convincing proof of the love

that God hath to us has been given in THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST!

No greater sacrifice, no more constraining influence, IS POSSIBLE!

Let us accept the perfect Sacrifice, and the all-sufficient Savior.



CH. 10:19 - CH. 13:25



The great doctrine of Christ’s eternal priesthood having been led up to,

established by argument, and at length fully expounded, it remains only to

press the practical result of a belief in it in alternate tones of encouragement and

of warning.  We have seen that, even in the earlier chapters, hortatory passages

were frequently interposed, showing the purpose all along in the writer’s mind.

In the central and deepest part of the argument (ch. 7:1-10:19)

there were none, close and uninterrupted attention to the course of thought

being then demanded. But now, the argument being completed, the

previous exhortations are taken up again, and enforced in consequently

fuller and deeper tones. The connection of thought between these final

admonitions and those previously interposed is evident when we compare

the very expressions – here vs.19-23 with those in ch. 4:14-16, and the

warnings of v.26, etc., with those of ch. 6:4, etc. Thus appears, as in other

ways also, the carefully arranged plan of the Epistle, different in this respect

from the undoubted Epistles of Paul, in which the thoughts generally follow

each other without great regard to artistic arrangement. This, however, is in

itself by no means conclusive against Paul’s authorship, since there would be

likely to be just this difference between a set treatise composed for a purpose,

and a letter written currente calamo (with running pen) by the same author.

It does, however, mark a different class of composition, and is suggestive,

as far as it goes, of a different writer.


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 an high priest

over the house of God;”  Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter (literally,

for the entrance) into the holiest (literally, the holies, i.e. the holy place, as

τὰ ἅγια is translated in ch. 9:25, but meaning, there as here,

the holy of holies) by the blood of Jesus, which (entrance) He

consecrated (or, dedicated, as the same verb ἐγκεκαίζω is translated,

ch. 9:18, with reference to the Mosaic tabernacle) for us, a

new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and

having a great Priest (ἱερέα μέγαν hierea megangreat  priest –

 not ἀρχιερέα, - archierea -  high priest; but a priest of higher order than

any earthly priest; compare ch.5:1-4, ἀρχιερέα μέγαν archierea megan

high priest; great priest) over the house of God. The epithet πρόσφατον

prosphatonnew; recent slain - applied to the “way” dedicated for us by

Christ, though meaning originally, according to its etymology, “newly slain,”

is commonly used to express “recent” only. And so here. It is a new way in

relation to the old one of the high priest through the veil — a way untrodden

by man till opened and dedicated by “THE GREAT HIGH PRIEST!” The

epithet ζῶσαν  - zosan - living) applied to the way distinguishes it, as a spiritual

mode of approach, from the old one. (See John 14:6). But what is

the meaning of the veil (καταπετάσματος katapetasmatosveil - the word

always used of the veil in the tabernacle or temple) being said to be “His flesh “?

The idea cannot be simply that He passed through the human nature assumed at

His incarnation to the heavenly throne; for the intended counterpart to the high

priest’s passing through the veil must have been after the completed sacrifice. It is

rather that, at the moment of death, when, after saying, “It is finished,” He “gave

up the ghost”  (John 20:30), the human flesh (which had through all

the ages been as a veil hiding “the unseen” from man, and behind which

Christ Himself had tabernacled during His human life) was, as it were,

rent asunder and the new way opened. And that this was so was signified

by the rending in twain of the veil of the temple from the top to the bottom,

mentioned by Matthew (Matthew 26:51), at the very moment of the

death upon the cross. This incident may have suggested to the writer the

expression used - τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ - taes sarkos autou -  His flesh; of the

flesh of Him.  “The house of God” in v. 21 is a resumption of the thought of

ch. 3:1-7, where Christ was shown to be greater than Moses, as being the SON

over the house of God, having (be it observed) been called ἀρχιερέα (High Priest)

in Ibid. v. 1. (For the comprehensive meaning of the expression, not limited either

to the Mosaic dispensation or the visible Church, see what was said under ch.3:4.)

On the now firmly grounded doctrinal bases of


o       open access through Christ to the mercy-seat,

o       His ever-availing intercession, are built the exhortations

§         to confidence,

§         to persistence in faith and corresponding conduct.


22 “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our

hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our body washed with pure water.

“Let us draw near” (προσερχώμεθα proserchomethalet us draw near; we may

be approaching) is a liturgical phrase, denoting the approach of the people, after

ceremonial atonement, to the earthly sanctuary (compare v. 1, τοὺς προσερχομένους

tous proserchomenousthe comers; the ones approaching).   We may now draw

near to the very heavenly mercy-seat, without any sense of a bar to our doing so on

the ground of consciousness of sin. In Christ we are to see accomplished all that is

needed for atonement. But there are conditions also required in ourselves, expressed

first by the “true heart,” and the “fullness of faith,” and then by the clauses that

follow. These clauses, like προσερχώμεθα (let us draw near) have a liturgical basis —

that of the blood-sprinkling (e.g. of the people with the blood of the covenant

under Mount Sinai, ch. 9:19, and of the priests on their consecration, Leviticus

8:23) and of the ablutions before sacrificial service (Ibid. ch.8:6; 16:4, 24).

Hence these two participial clauses are not to be separated from each other, and

seem best to be both taken in connection with the preceding προσερχώμεθα.

“Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience” means our having

the inward consciousness of debarring sin removed through the blood of

Christ; the “full assurance of faith” in the completed atonement, and the

“true heart,” being presupposed. The conjoined clause, καὶ λελουσμένοι

kai lelousmenoiand washed; and having been bathed, is capable also of

being figuratively interpreted, in the sense that “our sinful bodies” have been

“made clean,” so as to be offered through life acceptably as “a living sacrifice,”

as well as “our souls washed through His most precious blood.” And this may

be taken as implied. But the terms body and water after hearts and blood certainly

suggest a direct reference to baptism. And such definite allusion is in keeping with

references elsewhere to the beginning of the Christian life (see Acts 2:38; 22:16;

Romans 6:3-4; I Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12; I Peter 3:21).

The passage last referred to is apposite to that before us in that with an undoubted

mention of baptism is conjoined “the answer of a good conscience toward God.”




The Christian’s Access to the Holy Place (vs. 19-22)


“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus!”

Here the sacred writer enters upon the last great division of the Epistle. Having closed

the argumentative portion, he opens the hortatory and admonitory part of his

work. Our text is an exhortation to avail ourselves of the great privilege of

access to the presence of God through THE BLOOD OF JESUS!  We have:



is in itself. It is twofold.


Ø      The right of approach unto the presence of God. We may “enter into

the holy place.” There is a reference here to the entrance of the high priest

into the holy of holies under the Mosaic economy. The holy place in the

text is the Divine sanctuary, “the place of God’s essential presence.” We

have the privilege of access into His presence. We have this at present in

prayer. Even now in prayer, and spiritually, we may “reach the inmost

recesses of the Divine sanctuary, the very heart of God.” And we may do

this without the intervention of’ any human priesthood, or the presentation

of any material sacrifice. Hereafter we may enter into His presence in

person. Already our Lord is there. And He prayed for His disciples, “Father,

I will that where I am, they also may be with me.” Admission into the

manifested presence of God is the exalted privilege awaiting every true

Christian in the future. “We shall see him even as He is.” (I John 3:2)

“I will behold thy face in righteousness:  I shall be satisfied when I

awake, with thy likeness.”  (Psalm 17:15)  “In thy presence is fullness

of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”  (Ibid. ch.



Ø      Confidence in approaching the presence of God. We have “boldness to

enter into the holy place.” This boldness is not rashness, or irreverence, or

unreverence. It is rather a holy freedom of access to God because of our

assurance that we shall be graciously received by Him. See this in the

exercise of prayer. We may freely express our wants and wishes to our

heavenly Father; for, being our Father, He will not resent our filial

confidence, but will welcome us the more because of it.


The privilege has been obtained for us “By the blood of Jesus.” It

is by the sacrifice of Christ that we have the right of access to the presence

of God. And it is by the infinite love of God manifested in that sacrifice

that we have confidence in availing ourselves of this right. In a word, this

great privilege has been obtained for us through the mediation of our Lord

and Savior. This is here represented as a way: “By the way which He

dedicated for us, a new and living way,” etc. The description is instructive.


Ø      The characteristics of the way. It is a new way; i.e. newly made,

recent, or newly opened. No believer under the Old Testament dared or

could, though under a dispensation of preparatory grace, approach God so

freely and openly, so fearlessly and joyfully, so closely and intimately,

as we now, who come to the Father BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS

CHRIST, His Son!  It is a living way. The way into the sanctuary

of the Old Testament was simply a lifeless pavement trodden by the high

priest, and by him alone; the way opened by Jesus Christ is one that really

leads and carries all who enter it into the heavenly rest, being, in fact, the

reconciliation of mankind with God, once and for ever effected by Him

through His ascension to the Father — ‘a living way,’ because one with the

living person and abiding work of Jesus Christ!  “Jesus saith, I

am the Way, the truth and the life.  No man cometh unto the Father

but by me. (John 14:6).


Ø      The inauguration of this way. “Which he dedicated for us, through the

veil, that is to say, His flesh.” There is a comparison between the flesh of

our Savior and the veil which separated the most holy from the holy place.

While he was with us here below, the weak, limit-bound, and mortal flesh,

which He had assumed for our sakes, hung like a curtain between Him and

the Divine sanctuary into which He would enter; and in order to such

entrance, this curtain had to be withdrawn by death, even as the high priest

had to draw aside the temple veil in order to make his entry to the holy of

 holies.  In His death our Lord put off the weak, mortal flesh;

and at His death “the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to

the bottom”  (Matthew 27:51), laying open the holy of holies. Dying, our

Lord laid aside those conditions of body which could not be taken into

heaven itself, and removed the barriers which kept us from God

(Colossians 1:21-22).


Ø      The encouragement to tread this way. “And having a great Priest over

the house of God.” The description is suggestive. “A great Priest.” One

who is both Priest and King; “a royal Priest and priestly King.” He is “over

the house of God,” i.e. the Church; the one great communion of saints

both in heaven and upon earth; the Church triumphant above and the

Church militant below. Here is encouragement to tread the new and living

way. Our great Priest has trod the way before us. He has entered the

heavenly sanctuary, and abides in the glorious and blessed Presence. He is

there on our behalf; as our Representative, as our Forerunner, and as an

attraction to draw His people thither also.



PRIVILEGE, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of

faith,” etc. Consider how we are to avail ourselves of this privilege.


Ø      With perfect sincerity. “With a true heart.” A heart free from

hypocrisy and from self-deception. “God is a Spirit: and they

that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”

(John 4:24)


Ø      With assured confidence. “In full assurance of faith.” Not questioning

our right of access, or the certainty of our gracious acceptance, through

Christ. Not with divided confidence, but “in fullness of faith” in Christ.

The full undivided faith is required, not a faith such as the readers of the

Epistle to the Hebrews had, who to the questions, ‘Is Jesus the Messiah?

Is He the Son of God?’ replied in the affirmative indeed with

head and mouth, but yet were not satisfied with the sacrifice of Christ, but

thought it necessary still to lean on the crutches of the Levitical sacrifices,

and on these crutches would limp into heaven. We fear that there is much

of this divided faith at present, or at least a great lack of “fullness of

faith” in the Savior. The faith of some is divided between the Christ

and the Church, or some human priesthood; others, between the Christ

and the sanctions of reason or philosophy; and others, between the

Christ and what they conceive to be their own personal merits. If we

would draw near to God acceptably, we must do so in full assurance

of faith” in our great Priest as THE ONLY AND ALL-SUFFICIENT



Ø      With purity of heart and life. “Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil

conscience, and our body washed with pure water.” There is a reference

here to the Levitical purifications (compare Exodus 29:21; Leviticus 8:30;

16:4, 24; here ch.9:13-14, 21-22; I Peter. 1:2). And in the last clause

of the text there is probably a reference to Christian baptism, which is

symbolic of spiritual cleansing (compare Acts 22:16). The idea seems

to be that to approach God acceptably we must be morally pure in heart

and in action. But “who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am

pure from my sin?” (Proverbs 20:9)  And so we draw near to God at

present trusting in the Christ for pardon and for purity. Through Him

we are justified before God by faith, and have daily cleansing for daily

impurities. And hereafter we shall draw near to His blessed presence

“having washed our robes and made them white in the blood of the

Lamb,” (Revelation 7:14) and shall appear before Him as members of

“a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing,

 but holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:27)


How great are our privileges of present access to God in prayer, and hope of future

approach to Him in person!



Approaching God (vs. 19-22)

  • WHY THE APPROACH IS TO BE MADE. There needed the

statement of no reason here; the necessity of approach is assumed. The

great thing required was to substitute a new ground and a new mode of

approach for a ground and a mode which had become useless, nay, even

harmful. The Israelite had always acknowledged that he must approach

Deity in some way or other. If God had not appointed a certain way of

access in the Levitical ordinances, the Israelite would have taken his own

way. Indeed, it is lamentably plain that too much he did take his own way.

He had to be turned from the golden calf by the sharpest of chastisements,

and many a century elapsed before image-worship and debasing rites lost

their hold upon him. Moses and the prophets, say all the representatives of

Jehovah under the first covenant, had quite as hard work to turn away their

fellow-countrymen from image-worship as the writer of this Epistle

afterwards had to turn them away from types to antitypes, from shadow to

substance, and from a temporary discipline to its abiding result in the

Christ. The approach to God may be looked at as either a need or a duty,

and whichever aspect be considered, it is evident that a loving, foreseeing

God will provide the way. He provides the right way to the right end. Let

us try to imagine Him leaving Israel to its own devices when it escaped

from Egypt. The people would still have built altars, slain sacrifices, and

appointed priests. What God does is to deliver the conscience from the

tyranny of every idolatry and bring it under reasonable government and

guidance. He frees human religious customs from cruelty, lust, superstition,

and makes them typical and instructive. And now we come to the means of

a full approach to God in Christ, is it not plain that all this is to supply a

corresponding need and give scope for a corresponding duty? Jesus tells us

there is a true Vine; so there is a true altar, a true sacrifice, a true Priest.

The image-worshipper, whose darkened heart is filled with falsehood

about the nature and the service of God, is yet faithful to what he thinks to

be right. Shall we be less faithful, who have opportunities for such service

and such blessing.


  • THE GROUND OF APPROACH. The spirit of man has to find its

entrance into the holy place, and has to give its reason for confidence in

expecting admission — a reason which every man must apply to his own

understanding, so as to make his approach as practical, as persevering, as

possible. It is not expected of us, who have no experience of the details of

Mosaic sacrificial institutions, to appreciate all the details here. We have

not to be won away from sacrifices of beasts and dependence on an earthly

priest. But, nevertheless, we must apprehend that the only ground of

satisfactory approach to God is IN CHRIST!   There is no way to reach

harmony with that great Being in whom is light and no darkness at all, and

who cannot be tempted with evil (James 1:13), save through Christ. In Christ

there is hope for the sinner, something to draw him, something to lift him

above useless resolutions and vain struggles. JESUS CHRIST IS THE WAY!

“You have come to Mount Zion,” says the writer in ch.12:22.  To the real Zion,

which is part of the city of the living God. But we are brought there that

we may be safely and permanently introduced into the true holy of holies,

and into that communion with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus

Christ, which gives purity and blessedness.


  • THE MODE OF APPROACH. The whole man must be united in a

true approach to God. It is now that we have to approach, and there can be

no separation between the inward and the outward man. The heart must be

right and the body must be right. Mere bodily approach could never have

profited at any time, save to the extent that it freed the worshipper from

the penalties of complete disobedience. But still bodily approach has its

place. With the body we have to serve God; and cleanliness is not only a

wholesome and a comfortable thing — it is also sacred. People have

sometimes been exposed to ridicule by quoting the common saying,

“Cleanliness is next to godliness,” as being from the Scriptures. They are

not so far wrong, for that is what this passage virtually says. Then with a

true heart, and a vigorous, prosperous faith bearing us onwards, we shall

make a real and secure progress towards possession of the mysteries of



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.”  Let us hold fast the confession

(μολογίαν homologianprofession; confession; avowal -  see ch.3:1, and

reference; also ch.4:14) of our hope without wavering (ἀκλινῆ - aklinae

without wavering, agreeing with “confession”); The readers, having been

exhorted to confidence towards God, are further warned against remissness in

confession before men, or in their duties within the Church towards each

other. They had once, at their baptism, (τὴν καλὴν μολογίαν taen kalaen

omologian -  a good profession; the ideal avowal -   I Timothy 6:12). Let not the

recurrence of Jewish prejudices, or either influence or persecution from their

Jewish compatriots, or any delay of the Parousia, induce them to waver in

maintaining it. Some among them did, it could not be denied, show signs of

such wavering, notably in their remiss attendance at Christian worship; let

the faithful give heed to keeping faith alive in themselves and others, and

especially through the means of the regular Church assemblies. That by τὴν

ἐπισυναγωγὴν ἑαυτῶν  - taen episunagogaen heautonthe assembling of

ourselves - is meant definitely the actual assembling together of Christians

for reading, exhortation, and worship (such as is referred to in I Corinthians 11;

James 2:2, etc.,; and described by Justin Martyr, ‘Apol., c. 87), we hold confidently

with the majority of commentators and with Chrysostom. The word ἐπισυναγωγὴν

(assembling) occurs in the New Testament only here and II Thessalonians 2:1,

where it denotes the gathering together at the Parousia. In II Maccabees 2:7,

where alone it occurs in the Septuagint, it expresses the actual assembling of

people together, as does the verb ἐπισυνἀγω episunagoto gather together,

both in the Septuagint and the New Testament (compare  Matthew 23:37-39;

24:31;  Mark 1:33; 13:27; Luke 12:1). Hence, and in regard to the context as well

as the etymology of the word, we may reject the less definite meaning, by some

here assigned to it, of Christian communion (conjugatio fidelium., The seen

approach of the second advent (τὴν μέραν taen haemeranthe day: compare

I Corinthians 3:13) is adduced as an additional argument against remissness.

The word βλέπετε blepete -  ye see; ye are observing - seems to imply more than

the general belief in its imminence, founded on the language of Christ. It would

seem as if the signs of the times were interpreted as denoting its approach

(compare I John 2:18). And it may be that they were rightly so interpreted in

reference to the primary fulfillment of our Savior’s words, though to that

only, as the event proved. The blending together in the discourses of

Matthew 24., Mark 13., Luke 17. and 21., of the times of the fall of

Jerusalem and of the final day, would naturally lead Christians to regard the

signs of the first event as denoting the other also. And indeed the

imminence of the first, of which the signs were really apparent, was in itself

a peculiar reason why the Hebrew Christians should stick resolutely to

Christianity, for its own sake and apart from Judaism. Else might their

whole hold on Christ be loosened in the temple’s fall Thus, though the

writer might share in the mistaken view then prevalent of the imminence of

the final day, his warning, founded on the supposed signs of it, hits well the

peculiar needs of his readers.



Christian Fidelity (v. 23)


“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith.”



the confession of our hope, that it waver not.”


Ø      The object of our hope. That in Christ we have at present forgiveness of

our sins, the right of approach unto God, sanctifying influences, etc. That

through Christ we shall attain unto the future and perfect rest — the

sabbath-keeping which remains for the people of God. Or in brief, that

Jesus is the Christ of God, and that in Him we have salvation in its

beginnings here and now, and shall have it in perfection hereafter.


Ø      The compression of our hope.


o       The confession made. The Christian baptism of these Hebrew

Christians was a confession of their faith in Christ. When the

hope is clear and assured, it cannot remain dumb; it must speak,

 and give a reason of its own existence. It utters itself in a frank

confession, which we are to hold fast. (“We cannot but speak

the things which we have seen and heard.”  - Acts 4:20)

This confession is obligatory upon believers in Christ Jesus

(compare Matthew 10:32-33; Luke 12:8-9; Romans 10:9-10;

I John 4:15).


o       The confession maintained. “Let us hold fast the confession

of our hope, that it waver not.” It is implied that there was

a danger of their relinquishing it. They were in danger by

reason of persecution (compare John 9:22); and by reason

of the ritualistic and other attractions of Judaism, and

the simplicity and spirituality of Christianity. And a clear,

consistent, and steadfast confession of our Christian hope is

imperiled today by not a few influences. There is danger from:

§         Satanic solicitation,

§         worldly suggestion and example, and

§         the inclinations and disinclinations of

our lower nature.

Visible and material interests would draw us away from

the claims of the invisible and spiritual. Having so much to

do with seen and temporal things, there is danger lest we

relax the firmness of our grasp on the unseen and eternal

verities. There is danger, too, of attempting to base our hope

upon Christ and something else, rather than upon CHRIST

AND CHRIST ALONE!   “Let us hold fast the confession,”

etc. Let there be no uncertainty, no timidity, no wavering,

in our acknowledgment of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.

§         Our own true interests enforce the exhortation of the text.

§         The great company of the glorified call upon us to

“hold fast the confession of our hope,” etc. (compare

ch.  6:11-12).

§         God Himself summons us to fidelity and perseverance.

“Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the

crown of life.”  (Revelation 2:10)  “Hold fast that which

thou hast, that no one take thy crown.” (Ibid. ch. 3:11)



faithful that promised.” Many are the promises which God has made to His

people. Promises to:

o       the penitent,

o       the tempted,

o       the afflicted,

o       the mourner,

o       the weak,

o       the perplexed, etc.

Now, all these promises are perfectly reliable.  Of this we have many guarantees;



Ø      His infinite intelligence.  When He promises anything, He sees

everything which may hinder, and everything which may promote the

execution of it, so that He cannot discover anything afterwards that may

move Him to take up after-thoughts!


Ø      His almighty power. He is able to perform all and everything that He

has promised. (Romans 4:20-22)  “Trust ye in the Lord for ever;

for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.”  (Isaiah 26:4)


Ø      His perfect faithfulness. “It is impossible for God to lie” (ch. 6:18;

Titus 1:2). “God is not a man, that He should lie,” etc. (Numbers 23:19;

I Samuel 15:29). With Him can be no variation, neither shadow that is

cast by turning” (James 1:17). “How many soever be the promises of

 God, in Jesus Christ is the yea,” etc. (II Corinthians 1:20). THE


our fidelity in the  confession of OUR HOPE IN THE LORD JESUS




The Duty and Design of Mutual Consideration (v.24)


“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love,” etc. Ther is an interesting

connection of our text with the preceding verses of this paragraph.  How beautifully

is the exhortation here disposed in conformity with the Pauline triad of Christian

graces (I Corinthians 13:13; I Thessalonians 1:3; 5:8; Colossians 1:4-5)! First, the

injunction to approach in the full assurance of faith; then that to hold fast

the confession of our hope; and now a third, to godly rivalry in the

manifestation of Christian love.


  • THE DUTY OF MUTUAL CONSIDERATION. “Let us consider one

another.” This exhortation does not warrant any impertinent interference in

the concerns of others, or sanction the conduct of busybodies and gossips.

It calls upon us to cherish a mutual regard, and to exercise a kind

consideration one for another. We should consider the wants, weaknesses,

temptations, trials, successes, failures, and varying experiences of each

other. With a brother in his shortcomings and sins we should be patient and

forbearing, slow to condemn, but quick to raise and restore. “Brethren,

even if a man be overtaken in any trespass,” etc. (Galatians 6:1-2).

With each other we should sympathize in our respective joys and sorrows.

Our religious duties, motives, aims, trials, joys, and hopes are very similar

in their character; therefore “let us consider one another,” sympathize with

one another, and strengthen one another.



love and good works.” “To provoke” is here used in a good sense — to

excite, or to call into activity for a worthy purpose. “Consider one another”

in order to produce in each other a generous rivalry in love and good

works. Mark the importance of these two things.


Ø      Love. It is the supreme grace of Christian character (I Corinthians

13:13). It is the most Christ-like. It is the most God-like. “God is love.”

(I John 4:8)  It is that which most truly represents our Savior to the

world.  It is that which is most extolled in the sacred Scriptures. The

Bible abounds in exhortations to love one another and to love God

(Leviticus 19:18, 34; Deuteronomy 6:5; 10:19; Matthew 22:36-40;

Mark 12:29-31;  John 15:12; I Corinthians 13.; Colossians 3:14;

I Timothy 1:5; I Peter 4:8; I John 3:11-24; 4:7-21). On earth and

in time love exalts and imparts an attractive luster and beauty to

the character. And it qualifies for the glories of heaven and eternity.


Ø      Good works; beautiful actions. Love is the fountain of all beautiful

deeds. Our works are beautiful in proportion as love is our motive and

inspiration in them. That which is done selfishly, grudgingly, or in the

spirit of a hireling, has no goodness or beauty. Love is the purest and

mightest inspiration. No difficulties deter love; no dangers appall it;

no toils are too arduous or prolonged to be accomplished by it.

The venturing and enduring power of love is wonderful. And, thank

God! Illustrations of it are not scarce. See it in the unwearying vigil

and the unfailing ministry of the mother, night and day, day and night,

by the couch where her sick child lies; or the wife by the bed of her

afflicted husband, etc. Love delights in self-sacrificing service for the

beloved. “Provoke unto love and good works.” To teach a class well

in the Sunday or the Ragged school; to visit the neglected, the sick,

and the dying; to comfort some troubled heart or cheer some depressed

spirit; to perform common duties with diligence and fidelity, or irksome

duties with cheerfulness; to bear physical pain or social trial patiently;

to suffer long by reason of the faults of others, and still be kind to them; —

these are “good works,” beautiful works. It is to love and

good works that we are to provoke one another, and for this purpose we

have to kindly consider each other. Put no obstacle in the path of any

true worker, but cheer him, strengthen him. Perhaps the best way to

stimulate others to love and good works is to set a good example in

respect of these things. Learn here the most effective method of

preventing strife and securing unity amongst Christian brethren.

Kindly mutual consideration, love, and good works preclude

disagreement, and unite hearts in sacred and blessed fellowship.



Warning against the Neglect of Social Worship (v. 25)


“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the custom of some is; but

exhorting one another.” This exhortation is not a positive command, but arises out

of the nature of things, and the need of man as a spiritual being. Social worship does

not become obligatory because it is commanded in the Scriptures; but we are exhorted

not to neglect it because it is needful for us. The obligation springs not from the

exhortation, but from the necessities of our being. Let us consider:




Ø      Man needs worship. A god is a necessity of man’s being. He must have

something to worship, even if it be only a fetish. This arises from the

presence and influence of the religious and devotional elements and

faculties in human nature. As these are refined and educated, so man

is able to receive pure and exalted ideas of God. One of the bitterest

of human wails is, “Ye have taken away my gods, and the priest;

and what have I more?” (Judges 18:24)  The loss of even a false god

is deemed ruinous by those who confided in it. The cry of the man

whose religious nature has been enlightened by Divine revelation is,

“My heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.”  (Psalm 84:2)

The body needs the exercise of manual labor, or of athletics, or

gymnastics, or it becomes weak and incapable. The mind must

be employed in the acquisition of truth, in reflection upon truth and

life, or its powers must be called forth in some other way, or it will

sink into a condition of feebleness and decay. (Both mind and body

can atrophy! – CY – 2014)  And the principle is equally applicable to

the religions soul. If its powers be not employed in the worship of the

Divine Being and in the effort to live usefully and holily, those powers

will perish; the eyes of the soul will become blind, its ears deaf, its

aspirations extinct. Man needs worship for the life and growth of his

own religious nature.


Ø      Man needs social worship. He is a social being. His heart craves

friendship. In sorrow and joy, in labor and rest, we long for

companionship and sympathy. We are formed for fellowship and

for mutual help. Hence, social worship is a necessity of our being.

This need was divinely recognized in Judaism, and provision was

made for it in the temple, in the great religious festivals, etc. Our Lord

recognized this need in various ways (Matthew 18:17-20; Luke 4:16).

So also did the apostles. Even in the darkest seasons in the history of

the Church of God, devout souls have felt this need and have sought

satisfaction for it. “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one

to another,” Malachi 3:16; (compare Ibid. vs.13-17).


Ø      Social worship is often very beneficial and blessed. Our Lord has

promised that the unanimous prayers of such worshippers shall be

answered, and that He Himself will meet with them (Matthew 18:19-20).

In such assemblies of believers devotion and holy feeling pass from

heart to heart until all hearts are aglow. Mutual prayer strengthens the

weak disciple. One man is cast down and almost faithless, but his faith

is invigorated and his soul encouraged by the influence of another who

is believing and hopeful. Nor is worship the only engagement of these

assemblies. Our text speaks of mutual exhortation. “Exhorting one

another.” Brotherly counsel and encouragement and admonition are

profitable to:

o       strengthen faith,

o       incite to diligence,

o       guard against declension, and

o       promote the progress of the soul.


·         MAN’S NEGLECT OF SOCIAL WORSHIP. “Not forsaking the

assembling of ourselves together, as the custom of some is.” Notice:


Ø      The causes of this neglect. As our Epistle does not speak of the

neglect of worship by the irreligious, but of the desertion of the

Christian assemblies by those who themselves were avowedly

Christians, we shall confine our attention to the causes of the

neglect of social worship by those who manifest some respect

for religion.


o       The necessity of social worship is not recognized, or inadequately

recognized. The neglecter says, “There is no need for my frequent

attendance at church; I can read the Bible or a sermon by my own

fireside; and as for worship, we have that in the family.” But

reading a sermon is not attendance upon the divinely instituted

 preaching of the gospel. And family worship is not enough

for man as a social being. Religion itself is social. As we need

friends beyond our own domestic relations, so we need

in religious exercises a wider circle than the home one.


o       Absorption in temporal and worldly affairs is another cause of the

neglect of the Christian assemblies. The interests and occupations

of this world and time fill the whole being; spiritual and eternal

interests ARE DISREGARDED;  the soul and its needs are

neglected; thus men are unjust to their own higher nature.


o       Decline in the spiritual life is another cause of this neglect.


Ø      The danger of this neglect. They whose custom it was to forsake the

assemblies of Christians were not yet apostates from the Christian

faith and confession. But the admonition and exhortation of the

text suggest that they were in danger of apostasy. And the awful

warnings which immediately follow more plainly indicate the dread

peril. He who neglects the Christian assemblies is likely ere long:


o       to forsake the Christian Church,

o       to renounce the Christian faith, and

o       may even go on to tread underfoot the Son of God,

and do despite unto the Spirit of grace.



The Great Admonition (vs. 19-25)


Having completed his elaborate argument, and concluded the doctrinal part

of the treatise, the author warmly exhorts the Hebrews to maintain their

Christian steadfastness. The appeal contained in these verses collects into a

focus of intense light and heat the main teaching of this weighty book. The

paragraph before us may be regarded as the center of gravity of the Epistle.

It is also the key-note of the impressive representations and the loving

counsels which occupy the remaining pages.


  • THE BELIEVER’S PRIVILEGES. (vs. 19-21.) The word

therefore” introduces a brief summary of what precedes in the long

section devoted to the priesthood of Christ (ch. 4:14-10:18). The

grand substantive blessing of the gospel is that of access to God; and

this has been secured in connection with:


Ø      An accepted Sacrifice. (v. 19.)  Vs. 1-18 treats of this. Jesus has

gone into heaven with His own blood, and has been allowed to

sprinkle it upon the mercy-seat. His blood has expiated the sins

which debarred men from standing in the Divine presence. Washed

in it, the penitent sinner may draw near to God with confidence.

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we

may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”  ch. 4:16)


Ø      An opened sanctuary. (vs. 19-20.) Ch. 9. discusses this branch of the

subject. Christians are admitted into a far nobler holy of holies than that

from which ancient Israel were excluded. “A new and living way” to

the Father has been opened up by Jesus; and it shall always be “new,”

because, in fact, the “living” Savior is Himself the Way. The breaking

of His body upon the cross was like the rending of “the veil,” for it

opened up the mercy-seat to man.


Ø      A glorious Intercessor. (v. 21.) Ch. 7. treats of the might and majesty

of this “great Priest.” Through the merit of Christ’s blood the believer

takes his place immediately in front of the throne; and then, through

the mediation of the Savior, who stands by his side, he is graciously

maintained in this position.


“Holiness on the bead,

Light and perfections on the breast,

Harmonious bells below, raising the dead

To lead them unto life and rest:

Thus are true Aarons drest.


“Christ is my only Head,

My alone only Heart and Breast,

My only Music, striking me ev’n dead;

That to the old man I may rest.

And be in Him new drest.”

(George Herbert.)



22-25.) These are three in number, each being introduced with the words,

“Let us.” They deal with our conduct towards God, towards the world, and

towards the Church. Observance of them calls into exercise respectively

the three great graces of the Pauline theology, the duties being those of

faith toward God, hope exhibited before the world, and love to our



Ø      The duty of Divine worship. (v. 22.) Worship is the movement of the

soul towards God. To draw near includes every form which it is

possible for acceptable religious service to assume. The apostle, taking

for granted that his readers appreciate the inestimable value of

communion with God, indicates briefly the qualifications and features

of acceptable worship.


o       Sincerity. “With a true heart.” Our devotion must not be feigned.

We must not be hypocrites, or formalists, or sacramentarians. We

 “must worship in spirit and in truth.”  (John 4:24)


o       Confidence. “In fullness of faith.” Our faith in the way of access

must be entire and absolute. The apostle does not speak here of

assurance of one’s own personal salvation. What he insists upon is,

that true faith cannot admit of any doubt as to its object — that

object being the atonement of Christ, and His priestly work

within the opened sanctuary of heaven.


o       A pacified conscience. “Having our hearts sprinkled from an

evil conscience.” When the Aaronical priests were installed

their garments were sprinkled with blood, in token of their

acceptance as ministers of the sanctuary; so the blood of Christ,

while it satisfies Divine justice, satisfies also the conscience to

which it is applied, delivers the soul from the sting of sin, and

qualifies for the service of God.


o       A purified heart. “And our body washed with pure water.”

A brazen vessel, called the laver, which was used for the

ablutions of the priests, stood in the outer court between the

altar and the door of the tabernacle.  So, hard by the entrance

of life, stands the baptismal font; and the beginning of the

Christian career is for the soul to be washed in the laver of

regeneration. It is the “pure in heart” who “shall see God.”


Ø      The duty of public confession. (v. 23.) It is not enough that we

cherish deep religious convictions, and that we maintain a constant

commerce with God in acts of secret prayer. We must acknowledge

our Christian hope before men — with our lips and by our lives, and

in the observance of the public ordinances of grace. We must not be

ashamed to manifest profound spiritual earnestness, even in the

presence of a persecuting world. To confess our hope will strengthen it.

To refuse to acknowledge Christ is to deny Him. And our confession

ought to be a consistent “Yea.” We are unfaithful if we allow it to

sway to and fro, even although it should expose us to obloquy and

danger. Seeing that our hope is grounded upon the sure promises of

our Father God, why should not our acknowledgment of the truth

be always explicit and consistent?


Ø      The duty of Christian fellowship. (vs. 24-25.) Brotherly love should

prevail among believers as brethren in Christ. Especially should those

who are connected with the same congregation cherish a kindly and

affectionate interest in one another Our Church-membership is not

maintained merely for one’s own personal edification. We should

“consider one another” in the spirit of brotherly love, and so that

we may be mutually helpful to each other in the Divine life. We are

to take kindly thought of each other’s excellences and defects, needs

and dangers, trials and temptations, and to minister aid to one another

accordingly. And in so far as we realize the bonds of love and sympathy

which unite us to our Christian brethren, will we prize such opportunities

of fellowship with them as the meetings of the Church afford. One great

purpose of our “assembling of ourselves together” is to provide occasions

for Christian conference and mutual exhortation. It was peculiarly

necessary just now that the Hebrew believers should incite one another

“unto love and good works,” for “the day” of the destruction of

Jerusalem and the final collapse of the Levitical system was

fast drawing nigh.” That event is now past, but another and more

tremendous “Day of the Lord” is still to come. We ought as Christians

to “consider” and “exhort” one another in view of “that great and

notable day” on which Christ shall come to be our Judge, and to

describe with His scepter the eternal boundaries of BEING and



Solemn warning as to the fearful consequences of apostasy (vs. 26-32)


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  (ἐκδοχὴ - ekdochaelooking for; expectation), used here

only; but ἐκδέχομαι edechomaiexpect - is frequent in the New Testament.

Hence there seems no good ground for disputing, with  “expectation”)

of judgment and fiery indignation (πυρὸς ζῆλος puros zaelosfiery

indignation; jealousy),, which shall devour the adversaries.” The

warning passage thus begun closely resembles the former interposed one,

ch. 6:4-9 (see notes). Both have been similarly misapplied; but both have

the same real meaning, which is further confirmed by comparing them together.

The purport of both is the hopelessness of a state of apostasy from the faith

after full knowledge and full enjoyment of privilege; both are led up to by

cautions against remissness, of which the final issue might be such apostasy;

both are followed by the expression of a confident hope, founded on past

faithfulness, that no such apostasy will really follow. The state

contemplated is here expressed by Ἑκουσίως  ἁμαρτανόντων hekousios

hamartanontonvoluntarily sinning; sinning wilfully , a phrase

which in itself might at first sight seem to support one of the erroneous

views of the drift of the passage, viz. that all willful sin after baptism or

grace received is unpardonable. But it is first to be observed that the

participle ἁμαρτανόντων (sinning) is not aorist, but present, expressing a

persistent habit; also that the whole context is sufficient to denote the kind

of sin intended. For


(1) the preceding verses have pointed to laxity of allegiance to Christ,

which might have further consequences;


(2) the illustration of what is meant, adduced in v. 28 from the Mosaic

Law, is (as will appear under that verse) a case of entire apostasy — a sin

not to be atoned for by any sacrifice, but visited by “cutting off;”


(3) the description in v. 29 of the sin intended implies total repudiation of

Christ. Observe, on ἑκουσίως (wilfully), the contrast to ἀκουσίως ἁμαρτἀνειν

akousios hamartaneinsin unintentionally; unwittingly - (Leviticus 4:2, 27; 5:15, al.),

expressive of sins of ignorance or infirmity. Not such sins, but deliberate sin with a

high hand, is here intended; and further, for the reasons above given, one of this

nature so heinous as to be beyond the reach of sacrifice. From all such

considerations it appears that ἑκουσίως  ἁμαρτανόντων  (sinning willfully)

here expresses the same idea as παραπεσόντας parapesontasfall away, (ch.6:6)

and ἀποστῆναι ἀπὸ θεοῦ ζῶντος apostaenai apo Theou zontos -  departing from

the living God (3:12), viz. final obdurate defection from the faith. Further,

the previous conditions for the possibility of arriving at such a hopeless

state, set forth more at length in ch. 6:4-5 , are here shortly expressed by

μετὰ τὸ λαβεῖν τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν τῆς ἀληθείας – meta to labein taen epignosin

taes alaetheiasafter that we have received the knowledge of the truth, which

is to be interpreted in the light of the other passage (see note thereon). The

consequences of such falling away are differently stated in the two

passages. In Hebrews 6, it was the impossibility of renewal unto

repentance; here it is the absence of any further atoning sacrifice; and this

in keeping with what has been now proved of the sacrifice of Christ having

superseded all others and been “ONCE FOR ALL.” The drift is that, if this is

deliberately rejected after full knowledge of it, no other is left to have

recourse to. Then the immediate mention of “judgment” is in keeping also

with the conclusion of Hebrews 9. (see note on ch. 9:27), and is immediately

suggested here by τὴν μέραν (the Day) of v. 25. The fire in which

that day is to be revealed is a prominent figure both in the Old Testament

and the New; regarded as both an assaying and a consuming fire (compare

especially I Corinthians 3:13-16). The expression, πυρὸς ζῆλος (zeal, or

indignation, of fire”), not only expresses the vehemence of the flame,

but also implies the idea of the fire itself being instinct with the Divine

wrath or jealousy (as ζῆλος, equivalent to ha;g]qi, is usually translated

when attributed to God), of which it is the symbol (compare Psalm 79:5,

ἐκκαυθήσεται ως πυρζῆλοςekkauthaesetai o spur ho zaeloswill

your jealousy burn like fire? - Ezekiel 38:19, ζῆλος, μου εν πυρι της ὀργῆς

μου – ho zaelos mou en puri taes orgaes mouin my jealousy and the fire

of my wrath -  Zephaniah 1:18, ἐν πυρι ζῆλου αυτου – en puri zaelou autou

by the fire of His jealousy - and ch.12:29, “Our God is a consuming fire”). (For

ἐσθίειν μέλλοντος τοὺς ὑπεναντίους esthiein mellontos tous hupenantious

shall devour the adversaries - compare Isaiah 26:11, ζῆλος ληψεται λαον

ἀπαίδευτον καί νῦν πῦρ τους ὑπεναντίους ἔδεται zaelos laepsetai laon

apaideuton kai nun pur tous hupenantious edetaizeal for the people and

be disappointed.  Yes fire shall consume your adversaries).


28 “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or

three witnesses:” The reference is to Deuteronomy 17:2-7, as shown by the

mention of the “two or three witnesses” (v. 6). The sin there spoken of is that

of one who “hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD, in

transgressing His covenant, and hath gone and served other gods, and

worshipped them, either the sun, or the moon, or any of the host of heaven.”

The significance of this in its bearing on the meaning of ἁμαρτανόντων

(sinning) in v. 26 has been already noted.


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.”  Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he

be thought worthy, who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God, and

hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified,

an unholy thing (κοινὸν koinoncommon; contaminating - a word

commonly denoting things unclean; compare Mark 7:2; Acts 10:14, 28;

11:8; Romans 14:14; and here ch.9:13; and so probably here, meaning

more than common, i.e. ordinary human blood. If vilified by denial of its

atoning efficacy, it was relegated into the class of unclean things themselves

requiring purification. The word is used in opposition to ἡγιάσθη haegiasthae

He was sanctified; He was hallowed), and hath done despite unto the Spirit of

grace? It has been already remarked how these very strong expressions (answering

to those in ch.6:6) further denote the kind of sin intended by ἁμαρτανόντων in v. 26.

Three characteristics of it are given:

§         contumelious repudiation of Christ;

§         vilification of His atonement;

§         despite to the Holy Spirit that has been

given and enjoyed.

Citations from the Old Testament follow, according to the general plan of

the Epistle, to show that there is a terrible as well as a gracious side of the

revelation of the God of Israel, and especially (as intimated by the second

quotation) that His own people may be the objects of His vengeance. For

we know Him that said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will

recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge His

people. Both citations are from Deuteronomy 32:35-36, the second

being introduced also into Psalm 135:14. The first is remarkable as a

combination of the texts of the Hebrew and the Septuagint, neither being

exactly followed. The Hebrew has (Authorized Version), “To me belongeth

vengeance and recompense;” the Septuagint, ἐν ἡμέρα ἐκδίκησεως ἀνταποδώσω

en hamera ekdikaeseos antapodosoin the Day vengeance is mine and recompense.

And in the same form as in the text the passage is cited Romans 12:19. It

may be, in this and some other cases of variation from the Septuagint, that a

text different from ours was used by the New Testament writers. The

difference here is quite immaterial with regard to the drift of the quotation.



The Darkest Sin and the Most Dreadful Doom (vs. 26-29)


“For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth,

there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.” These solemn words set before us:


  • A SIN OF THE GREATEST ENORMITY. TO obtain a correct view of

the dark sin which is here depicted, let us notice:


Ø      The spiritual experience which preceded the sin. Two clauses of our

text set forth a personal experience of genuine religion. “After that we

havereceived the knowledge of the truth.” The word which is translated

“knowledge”ἐπίγνωσιν  - epignosin - cannot mean an unreal or false

knowledge, but a genuine and intelligent apprehension of the truth.

The sacred writer, therefore, clearly intimates by the very choice

of the word that it is not a mere outward and historical knowledge of

which he is here speaking, but an inward, quickening, believing

apprehension of revealed truth (ch. 6:4-8). “The blood…

wherewith he was sanctified.” In the case supposed the man had

advanced so far in the reality of the spiritual life, that this blood had

been really applied to his heart by faith, and its hallowing and purifying,

effects were visible in his life.


Ø      The character of the sin itself. The sin is apostasy from Christianity,

after having personally experienced its power and preciousness. But

see how it is here sketched.


o       Contemptuous rejection of the Divine Redeemer. “Hath trodden

underfoot the Son of God.” The expression does not simply

mean to cast a thing away as useless, which is afterwards

carelessly trampled on by men (Matthew 5:13); but a deliberate,

scornful, bitter treading down of a thing. So terribly wicked

is the rejection of the Son of God which our text

sets forth.


o       Profanation of the sacrificial blood of the Savior. “Hath counted

theblood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy

 thing.” The blood of sacrifices offered under the Law was

regarded as sacred, and as having cleansing power (Leviticus

16:19).  How much more really and more intensely holy must

the blood of Christ be (ch. 9:13-14)!  To regard this blood as

common, or as the blood of an ordinary man, was not only a

degradation of the most sacred thing, but also an admission

that Jesus was deservedly put to death; for if His was the

common blood of a mere man, He was a blasphemer, and

according to the Jewish Law deserved death.


o       Insultation of the Holy Spirit. “And hath done despite unto

 the Spirit of grace;” or, “insulted the Spirit of grace.” The

expression designates the Holy Spirit as the Source of grace,

and leads us to think of Him as a living and loving Person.

To contemn or do despite to this Holy Spirit is to

blaspheme the whole work of grace of which one has once

been the subject, and to exhibit it as a deception and a lie.

It is profanely to contradict the very truth of God, and draw

down a vengeance which cannot fail.


Ø      The aggravations of the sin. The preceding experience of the blessings

of Christianity sorely aggravates so bitter an apostasy from it. But the

sin is further aggravated by the willfulness, deliberateness, and

continuousness with which it is committed. The sin here spoken of

is not a momentary or short-lived aberration, from which the infirm but

sincere believer is speedily recalled by the convictions of the Spirit, but

one willfully persisted in. “If we sin willfully.” Moreover, it is not an act

or acts of willful sin committed once, or more than once, and then

repented of, which is here set forth; but a continuous condition of sin.

The use of the present participle — ἁμαρτανόντων  (sinning wilfully)

— indicates perseverance and continuance in apostasy.  It is not a

case of ordinary religious backsliding or declension from Christ;

for then there would be some hope of repentance and encouragement to

repent (Jeremiah 3:14; Hosea 14:4). It is a case of willful, deliberate,

contemptuous, persistent rejection of Christ and of Christianity,

after having known His truth and experienced His grace.




Ø      The utter loss of the hope of spiritual reformation. “There

remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins.” The sacrifices of Judaism

to which, in the case supposed, the apostate returns have no power

to take away sins. The efficacy of the sacrifice of the Savior has not

been exhausted by him, but he has deliberately and scornfully

rejected it, so that for him it has no longer any atoning or saving

power. And no other exists for him, or will be provided for him.

When a man willfully, contemptuously, and persistently

rejects THE ONLY SACRIFICE  through which salvation

may be attained,  what hope can there be for him of

forgiveness and spiritual renewal?


Ø      The dreadful anticipation of an awful judgment. “There remaineth a

certain fearful expectation of judgment.” The apostate looks forward

with dismay, and even with terror at times, to the approaching

judgment and the righteous retributions which will follow. His

punishment is already begun in his alarming anticipations of the

dread penalties awaiting him hereafter.


Ø      The infliction of a punishment worse than death. A fierceness of fire

which shall devour the adversaries. A man that hath set at naught Moses’

Law dieth without compassion,” etc. If an Israelite apostatized from

Jehovah to idolatry, when “two witnesses or three witnesses” testified

against him, he was to be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 17:2-7). If

one sought to seduce another to idolatry, the person so tempted was to

take the lead in stoning the tempter to death, even though the tempter

was the nearest and dearest relative, or a friend beloved as his own soul

(Ibid. ch. 13:1-11). But for the apostate from Christ there is a

“much sorer punishment” than the death of the body by stoning. The

severity of the punishment will be in proportion to the clearness of the

light and the richness of the grace and the preciousness of the privileges

rejected by the apostate. The wrath of God burns as hotly as His love,

and strikes no less surely than justly. Yet it seems to us that nothing in

the punishment of the apostate can be darker or more terrible than this,

that for him “there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins.” (v. 26)

Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”

                        (I Corinthians 10:12)


31 “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

David, when the option was given him, preferred falling into the hand of

the LORD to falling into the hand of man (II Samuel 24:14), trusting in

the greatness of His mercies. But the case contemplated here is that of its

being “too late to cry for mercy, when it is the time of justice.” Fearful (the

writer would say) is the thought of being exposed, without possibility of

escape or of atonement, to the wrath of the Eternal Righteousness. The

inspired author of this Epistle had evidently an awful sense of the Divine

wrath against sin, and of man’s liability to it without atonement. He felt

deeply the contradiction between humanity as it is and its ideal of

perfection; and hence the wrath attributed to God in Holy Writ would

appear to him as inseparable from a just conception of Divine holiness. For

the more ardent the love in the human heart of moral good, by so much the

keener is the indignation against moral evil, and the sense of the

righteousness of retribution. The existence of such evil at all in the good

God’s universe is indeed a mystery; but, as long as it is there, we cannot

but conceive the face of the holy God as set utterly against it; and so any

revelation to us of the Divine nature would be imperfect did it not include

the idea which is humanly expressed by such terms as “zeal,” “jealousy,”

“wrath,” “vengeance.” Hence came the long-felt need of some atonement,

to reconcile sinful man to the eternal holiness. This need was expressed of

old by the institution of sacrifice, which, however — as is so clearly

perceived in this Epistle — could never itself be really efficacious in the

spiritual sphere of things. In the atonement of Christ (if rightly

apprehended) is found at last a true satisfaction of this spiritual need. But,

man’s concurrence being still required, the idea of Divine wrath remains

notwithstanding, as operative against such as, in deliberate perversity of

free-will, after full knowledge, refuse to be thus reconciled. Hence the

awful anticipations of future judgment on some, contained in this Epistle.

The nature and duration of the doom to come, on such as remain subject to

it, are in these passages left in obscurity. They speak only of φοβερὰ δέ τις

ἐκδοχὴ - phobera de tis ekdochaebut a fearful waiting (v. 27), an undefined

expectation of something terrible. It may be observed, however, that, whatever

be the force of other Scriptures in which the fire of that day is described as

eternal and unquenchable, here at least the figure of a zeal of fire to devour

 the adversaries seems in itself to suggest rather utter destruction than

perpetual pain.




The Guilt and Doom of Apostasy (vs. 26-31)


This is a terrible passage even to read. It is fitted to fill with alarm the

hearts of those who refuse to “draw near” to God, or confess his Name, or

hold communion with His people. It is introduced here, like the similar

warning in ch. 6:4-8, as a motive to Christian steadfastness.


  • THE GUILT OF APOSTASY. This tremendous sin is described:


Ø      Generally. (v. 26.) The context shows that to sin willfully refers

neither to any isolated act of apostasy, nor to any other peculiarly

heinous transgression, but to the specific sin of finally abandoning

Christianity. The question here is not about the destiny of the millions

of heathendom, who have never heard the gospel. The Bible does

not encourage curiosity regarding them. The sin spoken of is that of

the man who had received the knowledge of the truth,” and who

has rejected the gospel after having perceived its beauty, realized

 its suitableness, and in some degree experienced its power.


Ø      More particularly. (v. 29.) Saving knowledge centers in the

revelation of the three Persons of the Godhead, who are seen in

the gospel working together to accomplish our redemption. So

the apostate is described by his conduct towards each.


o       Towards the Father. He “hath trodden underfoot the Son

of God.” We can know and approach the Father ONLY

THROUGH THE SON and, therefore, “whosoever

denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father” (I John



o       Towards the Savior. The apostate tramples upon Him, and

“counts His blood an unholy thing.” The blood of Jesus

must be either on the heart or under the heel. But the

apostate persistently despises the new covenant. He

treats its Divine Mediator as if He were a malefactor.

He treads underfoot the precious cleansing blood, as

if it were worthless and unclean.


o       Towards the Spirit. He “hath done despite unto the Spirit

of grace.” To act thus is to deny to the Holy Ghost the

reverence and adoration which are His due. It is

obstinately and maliciously to reject Him. It is to treat

Him with contempt, and thereby “grieve” Him away

for ever from the soul.  Persistently to despise the Spirit

of God is to commit THE UNPARDONABLE SIN!


  • THE DOOM OF APOSTASY. An awful punishment shall descend

upon those who sin away their souls, after rejoicing for a season in the light

and love of Christ. The fearful penalty of their guilt is represented here in

different aspects.


Ø      Negatively. (v. 26.) “There remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins.”

Those Hebrews, in professing Christianity, had renounced the

Levitical sacrifices. But, should they now reject the propitiation of

Christ — the only possible means by which God’s justice can be

satisfied and man’s guilt cancelled — what would such rejection

entail?  It would follow, first of all, that the guilt of their ordinary

sins against the Divine Law would remain unpardoned, and that

even on that ground they must certainly perish.


Ø      Positively. (v. 27.) It would also follow that the guilt of their special

sin of apostasy would bring upon them a heavier penalty than that

which shall overtake the other “adversaries” of God. This tremendous

sin may fill the soul even here with A HORROR OF GREAT

DARKNESS!   It may destroy happiness by causing scorpion stings

of conscience. It may cover the horizon of life with vague anticipations

of A TERRIBLE ETERNITY!   And, whether such anticipations be

present or not, there remains the devouring “fierceness of fire” itself.

Not elemental fire, indeed; but:

o       spiritual loss,

o       final reprobation, and


The apostate shall be SHUT OUT FOR EVER FROM THE

PRESENCE OF GOD and such exclusion is itself the hell of hell.


Ø      Comparatively. (vs. 28-29.) Under the Mosaic Law any Jew who

lapsed into idolatry was to be stoned to death, for “transgressing God’s

covenant;” and this stern doom was admitted to be just (Deuteronomy

17:2-7). But, asks the apostle, are not apostates from Christianity guilty

of a vastly greater sin? and shall they not receive a much more dreadful

punishment. He refers the matter to the judgment and conscience of his

readers. To reject the gospel is a more heinous crime than to set at


SON OF GOD involves more aggravated guilt than to turn away

from Moses, who was a merely human messenger. So if the sentence

of death for rejecting the old covenant was a righteous arrangement,

it is evident that the Divine justice must demand a retribution still

more awful for the more terrible SIN OF APOSTASY from the

new covenant.



30-31.) “We know Him.” The gospel itself has revealed to us:

o       His infinite power,

o       His inflexible justice,

o       His spotless holiness,  and

o       His absolute faithfulness.

We know that He has said, “Vengeance belongeth unto me,” and “The

Lord shall judge His people” (Deuteronomy 32:35-36). We know His

prerogative as the Governor of the universe. We know that the principle of

retribution belongs to His moral nature. And we know that Hhe defends and.

saves His people by punishing their enemies. Our twenty-first century, no

less than the first century, stands greatly in need of faithful teaching on the

subject of retribution, both as a principle of moral law and as a doctrine of

Christianity. For:


Ø      The spirit of the time tempts everywhere to a life of self-indulgence,

rather than to the Christian life of self-denial. And habits of

self-pleasing tend to bring a man to the edge of the inclined plane

which slopes towards the abyss of apostasy. “He that soweth unto

his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption.”  (Galatians 6:8)


Ø      The spirit of the time tempts even true believers to misconceive the

nature of the Christian life. Many speak as if after their conv

ersion they should have no experience whatever of spiritual unrest.

They forget that it is not “the primrose way” that leads to glory; and

that, while the new life begins with an Eden and ends with heaven,

“the great tribulation” comes between. The passage before us, in

warning of the apostate’s sin and doom, reminds us of the difficulties

of the Christian life.


Ø      The spirit of the time labors to thrust into the background the doctrine

of retributive justice. But this great principle is found everywhere: in

nature, in providence, in history, in systems of civil government, in the

human mind and conscience, in the spiritual experience of believers,

and in the inspired Word of God. The justice of the Almighty is

asserted here, as elsewhere in the New Testament, with peculiar

emphasis. Those religious teachers, therefore, incur a terrible

responsibility who try to persuade their fellow-sinners that it is by

no means such “a fearful thing” after all “to fall into the hands

of the living God.”  (ch. 12:29)  The Lord Jesus Christ has not sent

any such message. Rather, He has solemnly warned us to “fear Him”

(Luke 12:5). And, if men do not fear the living God, whom will

they fear?




Falling into the Hands of God (v. 31)


“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” “Let me fall

now into the hand of the Lord” (I Chronicles 21:13). State briefly what

led to this utterance of David. The taking of the census, etc. Wherein was

the sin of numbering the people? Not in the mere act; for Israel had been

numbered thrice before by the command of the Lord. But David took this



o       without Divine authority or sanction; and

o       from motives of pride and ostentation.


Perhaps he was contemplating schemes of foreign conquest. Certainly the

motive was a sinful one, and therefore the act was sinful. God was

displeased thereby, and He determined to punish the king and his people for

this and previous sins, e.g. the rebellions in which the people had joined.

He, however, sent Gad the seer unto David to give him the choice of one

out of three punishments (Ibid. vs. 11-14). With becoming

humility and piety, the king left the judgment in the hand of God. He

prayed that he might “not fall into the hand of man,” and his people be

destroyed three months before their foes; but whether the punishment

should be “three years’ famine, or three days the sword of the Lord, even

the pestilence, in the land,” he left to the decision of the merciful God.

“David said unto Gad,” etc.  (Ibid. v.13). After these words

the text from our Epistle has a strange sound: “It is a fearful thing to fall

into the hands of the living God.” The sacred writer has been treating of a

sin of extraordinary wickedness — apostasy from Christ; and apostasy

characterized, not by ignorance, but by despite of the clearest knowledge;

not by weakness, but by willfulness; not by transitoriness, but by

persistence. It is of the punishment of such an apostate that it is said, “It is

a fearful thing,” etc. “The hands of God are His almighty operations,

whether in love or wrath.” He is “the living God” because He is self-existent;


So “the hands of the living God” present the ideas of His almightiness and

eternity. How fearful to fall into the punitive hands of such a Being! Man

may be angry with me, but his power is limited, and he dies, and then he

can injure me no longer (Luke 12:4-5; but it is a fearful thing to fall into

the avenging hands of Him whose power is UNLIMITED and whose

existence is ENDLESS — the hands of THE ALMIGHTY and THE




OTHER, COMPULSORILY. David deliberately and freely elected to leave

himself in the hands of the Lord; that was his choice. But the willfully and

persistently wicked wilt fall into His hands as the guilty culprit falls into the

hands of the officers of the law. The strong hand of Divine justice will seize

the hardened rebel against God, and from that grip there will be no escape.

Of our own free will let us now fall into His almighty and loving hands.




and deeply repentant of his sin (I Chronicles 21:8, 17). But in the case

supposed in our Epistle the sinner willfully and defiantly persists in known

and terrible sin, and is arrested by the Omnipotent hands as a daring rebel.

And we have sinned and deserved God’s wrath. How shall we meet Him? in

penitence, or in presumption? “He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength,”

(Job 9:4). “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry with thee,” etc. (Psalm 2:12).




“David said… for very great are His mercies.” He could and did confide in

the love of God even in His judgments. But when the desperately wicked

fall into God’s hands it will be in abject terror (compare v. 27). Again let us

imitate David, and trust God’s mercy, not man’s.


Ø      “If you are accused, it is better to trust God for justice than to trust men;

Ø      if you are guilty, it is better to trust Him for mercy than to trust men;

Ø      if you are miserable, it is better to trust Him for deliverance than men.”



INTO HIS AVENGING HAND. David and his people were to be

punished, but the punishment was paternal chastisement for their profit.


But very different is the punishment of the willful and persistent sinner

(see vs. 26-27, 30-31). What is our relation to God?


Ø      Penitence, or persistence in sin?

Ø      Humble trust, or abject terror?


We must fall into his hands somehow. How shall it be? Hast thou an

arm like God?”  (Job 40:9)  Let it be thus:


“A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,

    On thy kind arms I fall;

Be thou my Strength and Righteousness,

   My Savior, and my All.”




Falling into the Hands of the Living God (v. 31)


  • AS ILLUSTRATED IN HISTORY. The whole passage, vs. 26-31, is

a very serious one to read, insisting as it does on the reality of Divine

retribution upon those guilty of neglect and disobedience. It was evidently

necessary, however, to deal with this point and thus make the comparison

between the old and the new covenant complete. How will God deal with

those who willfully neglect the ample and gracious provisions of the new

covenant? The first element in the answer is given by inquiring how He

dealt with despisers of the old covenant — despisers of Moses as

Jehovah’s deputy and messenger. A great deal hangs on the word willfully.

Jehovah has always been long-suffering with ignorance and

thoughtlessness. But when men rise like Korah, Dathan, and Abiram

(Numbers 16:1-35), with the purposes of rebellion and self-assertion strong

in their heart, knowing what they are doing, and doing it deliberately and

defiantly, then God has to be equally assertive of His rightful authority and

the rightful authority of whomsoever He makes His representative. The Jew

did not question that it was a right thing that the despiser of Moses’ Law

should die without fail under two or three witnesses. Of course we must

guard against arguing back from great catastrophes to great sins. What we

are bound to do is to recognize the plain asserted connection between some

great sins and the consequences that followed. And in every case, to every

individual, the consequences are real; only in some cases the consequences

have been made terribly conspicuous by way of warning.



INTO WHICH WE MAY FALL. Jehovah, the living God, is here

contrasted with lifeless idols. Jehovah, the God who makes unfailing,

righteous, potent judgments, as contrasted with idolatrous priests who

have no power except by working on the superstitious fears of men.

Attachment to Mosaic institutions had hardened into something little better

than idolatry. The living God had become a mere name, the center of a

mechanical ritual. Men stood in terror of their own traditional delusions.

Or they stood in terror of one another like those parents of the blind man,

who feared they would be put out of the synagogue if they acknowledged

Jesus as the Christ (John 9:22).   It is right that men should be afraid, but how

often are they afraid of the wrong things!  (see Luke 12;4-5)  To fall into the

hands of men must have a dreadful look at first, but when the position is fully

estimated it is a mere trifle. The really fearful thing is to fall into the hands

of the living God. He is something very different from an empty superstition

or a living man.



REJECTING JESUS. The writer allows us to be under no mistake as to

what he means. Whosoever can truly say that he does not trample

underfoot the Son of God, does not reckon the blood of the covenant an

unholy thing, does not do despite to the Spirit of grace, — such a one is

free. In the first days of breaking away from Judaism, when all the

malevolence and bitterness of the worst sort of Jews came into play, there

would be more occasion of warning of this sort than now. And even with

regard to such men there is another side to be considered. Paul was once

bitter and malevolent enough, but he put in the plea that what he did he did

ignorantly, in unbelief. God only can judge the heart of a man enough to

say how far his rejection is really deliberate, in the face of light and



Vs. 32-39  - As at ch. 6:9, the tones of solemn warning, founded on a real sense of

the possibility of apostasy in some, are now relieved by a better hope. There the

writer expressed his own confidence in his readers on the ground of their conduct

in the past; here he reminds them of their conduct by way of confirming their own

steadfastness, and this with judgment as well as delicacy; for, nothing so excites to

zeal as the remembrance of one’s own right doings.


32 “But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were

illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;”  - rather, conflict of

sufferings. On φωτισθέντες photisthentesenlightened; ye were illuminated –

compare ch. 6:4, and what was said there as to the meaning of the word. Here

certainly the context seems naturally to suggest a definite reference to baptism,

as marking the date of the commencement of exposure to persecution. But if

so, not, of course, so as to exclude the idea of inward spiritual enlightenment.


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.”  On θεατριζόμενοι theatrizomenoi - made a gazing-stock,

compare I Corinthians 4:9, θέατρον ἐγενήθημεν τῳ κόσμῳ καί ἀγγέλοις καί

ἀνθρώποις theatron egenaethaemen to kosmo kai aggelois kai anthropois

a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men.  The figure is drawn from

the Roman amphitheatres, where persons doomed to death were exposed to

the gaze and the contumely of crowds; and the expression may not be wholly

figurative, but denote the actual treatment of Christians, as expressed by the

 common cry, Christianos ad leones!”  ([throw the] Christians to the lions).

The phrase, τῶν οὕτως ἀναστρεφομένων – ton outos anastrephomenon

them that were so used -  might be more correctly rendered (as ἀναστρεφεσθαι

anastrephesthai -  them that so had their conversation, i.e. manner of life. For

the word is not used in a passive sense, but as equivalent to versari; compare

II Corinthians 1:12; Ephesians 2:3; 4:22, etc ch.13:18; also Galatians 1:13.

(ἀναστροφῆς anastrophaes - behavior). The Vulgate has  taliter conversantium;

Wickliffe, “men living so;” Tyndale and Cranmer, “them who so passed their time.”

But the Authorized Version may give the meaning  with sufficient correctness,

the main thought being probably the experience of the persons referred to rather

than their demeanor under it.


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.” For τοῖς δεσμίοιςtois

desmioisthe bonds -  the Textus Receptus has τοῖς δεσμοῖς μου -  which the

Authorized Version, so as to avoid the impropriety of expressing sympathy with

the bonds themselves, renders “me in my bonds.” Even apart from manuscript

authority, δεσμίοις is evidently to be preferred, both as suiting the verb

συνεπαθήσατε   sunepathaesate - ye had compassion; ye sympathize - and as

being more likely to have been altered to the common Pauline expression,

δεσμοῖς μου (my bonds), than vice versa, especially on the supposition of the

writer being Paul himself. Thus no evidence as to the authorship of the Epistle

is hence deducible. The allusion is to persecutions of Christians, under

which the Hebrews addressed had been plundered, and had succored others

who were prisoners for the faith, as is intimated also in ch.6:10.

More than one such persecution might be in the writer’s view, including,

perhaps, that after the stoning of Stephen (Acts 8:1; 11:19); that

instituted by Herod Agrippa, under which James the elder suffered (Acts

12.); that which led to the martyrdom of James the Just (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’

20:9. 1) and others.



The Right Estimate of Temporal Possessions (v. 34)


  • THE RIGHT ESTIMATE ITSELF. This is a mean between extremes.

To despise worldly possessions, to speak of them as if they were to be

trampled underfoot as always worthless, is not a Christian state of mind.

The worldly man overvalues and the ascetic undervalues. The Christian,

taught by his Master, learns to use the world as not abusing. It is not well

in ordinary circumstances to make comparisons; a wise and devout man

will use everything for God according to its nature and its scope. But there

may come a time when the man has to make his election between the

temporal and the eternal, between what the world has to give and what

Christ has to give. Then it will be seen where the affections are. A treasure

is not a treasure in itself; it is a treasure relatively to its possessor. Where

the heart is, there the treasure is. (Matthew 6:21)  One may see the pearl of

great price where another sees a trifle, as it were a mere nothing.  (Ibid. ch.

13:45-46)  No one estimates temporal possessions rightly unless he is willing

to sacrifice them for eternal interests. There is only one answer to the question,

“What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

(Mark 8:36)  A man will surrender all his wealth to keep his life. (Job 2:4)

How much more, then, should he be willing to surrender his wealth to keep

his spiritual hope, his vital connection with the boundless spiritual wealth

resident in Christ? This is not a question for the few rich men only; it is for

every one who has possessions to lose. They may not have to be given up

outright; they may not be in danger of loss through persecution; but they

may have to be risked through adopting truly Christian principles of life.



the estimate, everything depends on the life and character of him who has

to make it. The estimate is made, if one may say so, in an unconscious kind

of way. It is a personal, practical decision, not a mere speculative one with

little or no influence on the life. The decision is made, and some of the

consequences of it attained, before the critical character of those

consequences is discerned. In great moments of life we may have to decide

on the spur of the moment; and the only man who can decide rightly is the

spiritual man — he whose inner eye is open to see things as they really are.

The pearl of great price is to be seen intuitively or not at all. There must be

a firm resolution fixed in the heart to gain and to keep this pearl at

whatever cost. “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed:  I will sing

and give praise.”  (Psalm 57:7)  Once we have got into right relations with

Christ, comparisons between His claims and the claims of other beings are

not hard to make. In making comparisons between one temporal possession

and another, the character of those who make the comparison may or may not

be a matter of importance. But in distinguishing between the temporal and

the eternal, character is everything. We must have the Spirit of Christ

working in us most energetically if we would be lifted above all danger of

sacrificing THE ETERNAL to the TEMPORAL. 


35 “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great

recompence of reward.  36 For ye have need of patience (or, endurance),

that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”

or, doing the will of God, ye may receive, etc. The aorist participle ποιήσαντες

poiaesantesdoing - does not of necessity express priority to the

receiving (compare ch. 6:15, μακροθυμήσας ἐπέτυχεν makrothumaesas

epetuchenbeing patient he obtained). The meaning is that by endurance in

doing the will they would receive. The full and final enjoyment of what is

promised is still future and conditioned by perseverance. Observe the difference

between the words κομίζεσθαί komizesthai  ye might receive; ye should be

being requited, here used, and ἐπέτυχεν (obtained) , used in ch.6:15. The former

ch.11:19, 39; also II Corinthians 5:10; Ephesians 6:8; Colossians 3:25; and

I Peter 1:9) means the actual reception of what is denoted, equivalent to

sibi acquirere; the latter (see 6:15; 11:33; also Romans 11:7; James 4:2)

means only “to attain to,” without involving full possession. It is not said

of Abraham (ch. 6:15) that he ἐκομίσατο ekomisato -  he received; he

recovers only that he ἐπέτυχε(he happened on; obtained).  So also of

all the faithful of old described in the following chapter (ch. 11:39).

And even to believing Christians, as this verse shows, the κομίζεσθαί

is still future and contingent.



            Something to Do and Something to Wait For (v. 36)


  • SOMETHING IN THE PAST. “Having done the will of God.” The

writer did not hereby mean that his readers had done all the will of God; he

simply recognized the fact that they had complied with the will of God in

Christ Jesus as far as that will had been made known in distinct words and

could be complied with in distinct acts. Jesus had been proclaimed to them

as the Christ; they had accepted Him as such fully and practically; they had

welcomed Him as the Fulfiller of the Law and the prophets. They had

received His Holy Spirit. They had renounced all faith in Judaism as

necessary to acceptable service of God. Their position might be expressed

thus: “We have done the will of God as far as it has been made known to

us; if there be anything more for us to do on earth let us know, and we will

do it.” Now, the question for us is — Have we got as far as these people?

They were standing on the fact that what they knew of God’s will they had

done. Have we done what we know of God’s will? Or, to go further back

still — Have we knowledge of what it is that God wills us to do? We all

have to wait, but what is our standing-place as we wait? That will make all

the difference. Have we done the whole of what can be done any day?

“Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.” The five wise

virgins trimmed their lamps and filled their oil-vessels, and then they could

wait with composure and confidence. (Matthew 25:1-11)  Long as Christ’s

coming seems to the truly faithful, it will come all too soon for some.

(“The Day of the Lord will come!” – II Peter 3:10)


  • SOMETHING IS THE PRESENT. The spirit of patient waiting. It

must have been very hard to wait among persecutors and unjust spoliators.

The second coming of the Master seemed the only effectual way of

deliverance. But this second coming was a thing to be waited for, until it

came in the fullness of time. God has to think of all individuals and all

generations. God has to make all things work together for good to every

man. (Romans 8:28)  We have to wait for others, as others have had to wait

for us. The principle is laid down at the end of ch 11, v. 40 – “…that they

without us should not be made perfect.”   Meanwhile waiting is not

altogether waiting. Something is given by the way. Even as Jesus had

ineffable joys and satisfactions in the days of His flesh, there are like

experiences for us. Patience is only truly patience when it is combined

with hope, and true hope built on faith must be a gladness to the heart.


  • SOMETHING IN THE FUTURE. Something perfectly definite and

certain; We know not how long we may have to wait, but at the end of the

waiting there is something worth waiting for. Long did Israel wait in

Egyptian bondage, but liberty came at last. Long did Israel wander in a

comparatively little tract of land, but the settled life of Canaan came at last.

Many generations lived and died with nothing save gracious prophecies to

solace them, but the Christ came at last. AND SO WILL CHRIST COME

AGAIN (unto them that look for Him) WITHOUT SIN UNTO

SALVATION!  (ch. 9:28)


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.” In these verses, after the manner of the

Epistle, what is being urged is supported by an Old Testament quotation

(Habakkuk 2:3-4), its drift being:


  • the certainty, notwithstanding delay, of the fulfillment of the Divine promise;
  • the necessity meanwhile of continuance in faith and perseverance.


The quotation serves also as a step of transition (this, too, after the Epistle’s

manner) to the disquisition on faith, which forms the subject of the

following chapter. For the prophet speaks of faith as what the righteous

one is to live by until the Lord come. It was faith — a fuller faith — that

the Hebrew Christians wanted to preserve them from the faltering of which

they showed some signs; and the requirement of faith was no new thing —

it had been the essential principle of all true religious life from the

beginning, and thus is led up to the review which follows of the Old

Testament history, showing that this had always been so. The quotation, as

usual, is from the Septuagint, which, in this case as in some others, differs from

the Hebrew. But here, as in v. 29, supra, the Septuagint is not exactly

followed. The writer cites freely, so as to apply the essential meaning of the

passage to his purpose. The Prophet Habakkuk (writing probably during

the long evil days of Manasseh) had in his immediate view the trials of faith

peculiar to his own time — violence and iniquity in Israel, and imminence

of judgment at the hands of Chaldean conquerors, under which he had

cried, “O Lord, how long?” But he stands upon his watch and sits upon his

tower, to look out what the LORD will say to him in answer to his

difficulties. And the LORD answered him, and said, Write the vision, and

make it plain upon the tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision

is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie

[rather, ‘but it hasteth to the end, and doth not lie’]: though it tarry, wait

for it; because it will surely come, and not tarry [or, ‘be behindhand’].

Behold, his soul that is lifted up is not upright in him [or, ‘behold, his soul

is lifted up, it is not upright in him’]; but the just shall live by his faith.” The

drift of this Divine answer, which inspired the song of joyful confidence

with which the Book of Habakkuk so beautifully concludes, is, as

aforesaid, that, in spite of all appearances, the prophetic vision will ere long

be realized (“the day of the Lord will come” – II Peter 3:10);  God’s promises

to the righteous will certainly be fulfilled; and that faith meanwhile must be their

sustaining principle. The variations of the Septuagint from the Hebrew are:


(1) ἐρχόμενος ἥξει - erchomenos haexei -  will come; one coming shall be arriving

      instead of “It (i.e. the vision) shall come;”


(2) ἐὰν ὑποστειληται οὐκ εὐδοκεῖψυχή μου ἐν αὐτό - ean huposteilaetai ouk

     eudokei hae psuchae mou en auto – but if [any man] draw back, my soul

     shall have no pleasure in him (v. 38); behold, his soul is puffed up.  It is not

     upright in him.  (Habakkuk 2:4)


 (3) δὲ δίκαιός μου ἐκ πίστεως μου ζήσεται – ho de dikaios mou ek pisteos mou

      zaesetaibut the righteous shall live by his faith.  (Ibid.)


(A), or δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως μου ζήσεταιnow the just shall live by

       faith (v. 38)

(B), instead of “The just shall live by his faith.”  (Habakkuk 2:4)  The

       variations in the Epistle from the Septuagint are:


(1) ἔτι μικρὸν ὅσον ὅσον eti micron hoson hosonyet a little while – (v. 37)

      (etc.Isaiah 26:20), interpolated at the beginning of the quotation;


(2) ἐρχόμενος (the One coming – v. 37) for ἐρχόμενος (coming – Habakkuk

      2:3) so as to denote more distinctly the Messiah who was to come (compare

      John 6:14); here, of course, with a view to His second advent;


(3) the reversal of the order of the two concluding clauses, ἐὰν ὑποστείληται

(if [any man] draw back) and δὲ δίκαιος (now the just [one]):


(4) in the Textus Receptus the omission of μου (my) after either δίκαιος

(just; righteous [one]) or πίστεως (faith) as the same text is cited by Paul, in

Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11). There is, however, good authority for reading

it here after δίκαιος (equivalent to “my Righteous One”). None of these

variations from the Septuagint affect the meaning of the passage, being only

such as to point more clearly the intended application. One of the

variations of the Septuagint from the Hebrew (ἐὰν ὑποστείληται, etc.) does

alter the meaning of that particular clause, though not the general purport

of the whole passage. The adoption here of the Septuagint reading, and still

more the fact that the following verse depends upon this reading, is among

the strong evidences of the Epistle having been originally written, not in

Hebrew, but in Greek.




Christian Fidelity and its Reward (vs. 35-37)


“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.”

We have in our text:


  • A GREAT REWARD PROMISED. “Great recompense of reward.... Ye

might receive the promise.” By “the promise” is meant here, not the

promise itself, but the blessings promised; not the word of promise, for this

they had already, but the good things which that word assured unto them.

By the recompense of reward and the promised blessings we understand

one and the same thing; i.e. “the promise of the eternal inheritance”

(ch.9:15), “the better and enduring substance” (v. 34). It is the

promise of eternal life in Jesus Christ. The life is characterized by;


Ø      purity;

Ø      progress;

Ø      blessedness;

Ø      perpetuity.


“A perpetuity of bliss is bliss.” This life is promised to every believer in

our Lord and Savior. “Whosoever believeth on Him shall have eternal

life.” (John 3:16)  This life the Christian believer has now in its imperfect

and early stages; he will have it hereafter in its fullness and perfection.

“Your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our Life,” etc.

(Colossians 3:3-4).


  • A GREAT DUTY MENTIONED. To do the will of God. This must

precede the reception of the promised blessings. “Having done the will of

God, ye may receive the promise.” If we combine the interpretation of

several expositors, we obtain what we regard as the true interpretation of

“the will of God” here. To do the will of God is to obey the requirement,

to believe and trust in Christ” (compare John 6:40).  By the will of God,

in this context, is to be understood His will that we should confess Christ’s

Name before men.  The will of God is our steadfast perseverance in faith

and hope.” It seems to us that the doing the will of God includes each and

all of these things:


Ø      faith in Christ,

Ø      confession of Christ, and

Ø      continuance in Christ.


Moreover, the Christian accepts the will of God as the authoritative and

supreme rule of his life. This will is sovereign, gracious, and universally

binding. Let us endeavor to do it willingly, patiently, and cheerfully; for

in so doing it our duty will become our freedom, dignity, and delight.

We must do this will if we would receive the recompense of reward.

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the

kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which

is in heaven.”  (Matthew 7:21)


  • A GREAT NEED EXPERIENCED. “Cast not away therefore your

confidence.... For ye have need of patience,” or endurance. The confidence

which is not to be cast away and the endurance which we need are, not

identical, closely related. The confidence is perhaps the root, and patience

the fruit, the endurance growing out of the confidence. The confidence is the

joyous assurance “of faith and hope, and boldness in confessing Christ.”

(Philippians 1:20)  We must not cast this away, as a dismayed

soldier casts away his weapons; for we shall need it in the conflicts which

yet await us. And the patience is that unshaken, unyielding, patient

endurance under the pressure of trial and persecution, that steadfastness of

faith, apprehending present blessings, and of hope, with heaven-directed

eye anticipating the glorious future, which obtains what it waits for. Now

we need both these things, the confidence and the patience, the boldness

and the endurance; for:


Ø      Our spiritual battles are not all fought yet. We still have foes to

encounter; therefore we shall need our confidence and courage,

our faith and hope.


Ø      Our various trials are not all passed through yet. We shall have to

meet with losses and sorrows, to suffer afflictions, to be beset with

difficulties, to bear disappointments; hence we “have need of



Ø      Our possession of the promised inheritance is not attained yet.

Perfect purity and peace, progress and blessedness, are not ours

as yet. There are times when the recompense of reward seems long

delayed, and our spiritual advancement towards it seems slow; and

we have need of patience to wait and hope, and to work while

we wait.


  • A GREAT ENCOURAGEMENT PRESENTED. “For yet a very little

while, and he that cometh shall come, and will not tarry.” The end of our

trials is very near. The inheritance of the promised blessing will speedily be

ours. “The recompense of the reward comes as certainly as the Lord

Himself, who is already on the way.” “Be patient therefore, brethren,… for

the coming of the Lord is at hand?  (James 5:7)


“Stand up! stand up for Jesus!

The strife will not be long;

This day the noise of battle,

The next the victor’s song.”




Life by Faith (v. 38)


“Now the just shall live by faith.” In this place our text means that by

persevering faith the righteous man would be saved fully and to the end.

He who continued in the exercise of faith would be kept safely amidst all

dangers and all temptations to apostasy, and inherit the recompense of

reward, But we propose to regard the text as the statement of a general truth

of the Christian life, as Paul uses it in Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11. Thus

viewed, it presents to our notice:


  • THE CHARACTER SPECIFIED. This is marked by two leading



Ø      Righteousness. “The just,” or righteous. The righteousness of the

Christian is


o       in character. He possesses the forgiveness of sins, and is

accepted by God through Jesus Christ. The apostle of the

Gentiles sets forth this righteousness: “That I may gain

Christ, and be found in him, not having a righteousness

of mine own,” etc. (Philippians 3:9). The righteousness

of the Christian is:


o       in conduct. “He that doeth righteousness, is righteous”

(I John 3:7,10).


Ø      Religiousness. The Revised Version gives our text thus: “But my

righteous one shall live by faith.” This we regard as the correct text.

It sets before us one who is godly as well as just, whose righteousness

is joined with reverence, and is exalted by the union. A man cannot

be righteous towards God without being religious. Unless we worship

and love and obey Him, we do Him injustice. In the Christian character

piety and principle, righteousness and reverence, must go hand in hand.


  • THE LIFE MENTIONED. We are not acquainted with a satisfactory

definition of life. The things of deepest significance and greatest

importance defy our powers of definition. So we cannot set forth

adequately in a sentence the life spoken of in the text. It is far more than

physical and intellectual existence and activity. Knowledge, truth, love,

beauty, goodness, faith, alone can give vitality to the mechanism of

existence. The life of true personal religion is that which our text speaks

of. It is the life of supreme love to God, the life of Christ in man. Christ

is the quickening Spirit of Christian humanity; He lives in Christians; He

thinks in Christians; He acts through Christians and with Christians; He is

indissolubly associated with every movement of the Christian’s deepest life.

‘I live,’ exclaims the apostle; ‘yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.’  (Galatians

2:20)  This felt presence of Christ it is which gives both its form and its force

to the sincere Christian life. That life is a loyal homage of the intellect, of the

heart, and of the will, to a Divine King, with whom will, heart, and intellect

are in close and constant communion, and from whom there flows forth,

through the Spirit and the sacraments, that supply of light, of love, and of

resolve which enriches and ennobles the Christian soul.”


  • THE MEANS OF THIS LIFE. “Shall live by faith.” Brief

consideration of two points is essential.


Ø      The nature of this faith. It is far more than the assent of the reason, or

apprehension by the reason. It is a moral rather than an intellectual act.

“With the heart man believeth unto righteousness.”  (Romans 10:10)

When the soul in very truth responds to the message of God, the

complete responsive act of faith is threefold. This act proceeds

simultaneously from:


o       the intelligence,

o       the heart, and 

o       the will of the believer.


His intelligence recognizes the unseen object as a fact. His heart

embraces the object thus present to his understanding; his heart

opens instinctively and unhesitatingly to receive a ray of heavenly

light. And his will too resigns itself to the truth before it; it

places the soul at the disposal of the object which thus rivets its eye

and conquers its affections.


Ø      The Object of this faith. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the grand

Object of the faith of the Christian. We accept Him in the three great

relationships which He sustains to His true disciples. As our Prophet we

exercise faith in Him. He claimed to be “the Truth.”  (John 14:6)  On all

questions of morality and religion, of sin and salvation, of life and death,

we bow to Him as our infallible Teacher, and unhesitatingly accept His

Word. We believe in Him as our Priest. He has made full atonement for

sins; He is our perfect Representative with the Father; He is our tender,

compassionate Savior. To Him the heart turns in its sins for forgiveness,

in its sorrows for consolation.  We loyally accept Him also as our King.

He is the Sovereign of our will and the Lord of our life. We believe in

Him as our moral Master, whose authority is supreme. Thus CHRIST


the soul is to be moving ever towards Christ, resting ever upon Christ,

living ever in Christ. Christ is to be the end, the support, the very

atmosphere of its life. He who thus believes in Him shall have

ETERNAL LIFE!  (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8).


39 “But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but

of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”   literally, not of the

drawing back untobut of faith unto, etc. Thus, once more before

proceeding to the subject now before him, the writer is careful to disclaim

any real expectation of defection in his readers, and with delicacy he

includes himself with them by his use of the nominative plural.



Persuasives to Steadfastness (vs. 32-39)


The latter part of this chapter, beginning with v. 26, is written in the same strain as

ch.6:4-20. In both passages a strong denunciatory warning is followed by a tender

exhortation, expressive of the writer’s fond hope that the Hebrew Christians will

“stand fast in the Lord.”  (I Thessalonians 3:8)  The pathetic appeal contained in

the verses before us is based upon three grounds, belonging respectively to:

o       the past,

o       the future, and

o       the present.



apostle would have his readers remember their first love, in the days when

they became “light in the Lord.” They had at that time endured persecution

bravely. After the death of Stephen (Acts 8:1), in the time of Herod

Agrippa (Acts 12:1-19), at Thessalonica (I Thessalonians 2:14), at

Rome (Romans 12:12, 14), and elsewhere, the Hebrew believers had

encountered the fierce opposition of their unbelieving countrymen and of

the Roman authorities. Their calamities had been such as to make them a

public spectacle. They had suffered:


Ø      In their character, which was assailed with malignant scorn.

Ø      In their persons, for they were subjected to bodily torture.

Ø      In their property. They were unjustly deprived of their possessions.

Yet they bore the loss cheerfully, being persuaded that their true

and permanent treasure was in heaven.

Ø      By reason of their practical sympathy with one another. They had

brought to their persecuted and imprisoned brethren both sympathetic

condolence and practical help. Now, the apostle reminds the Hebrews

of these courageous endurances, in order to stimulate them still to

sustain their Christian valor. They had not allowed their early conflicts

to dim their spiritual joy. They had run well hitherto; what should

hinder them now from persevering to the end? Why allow all their

past toils and trials to count for nothing?


  • AN APPEAL TO CHRISTIAN HOPE. (vs. 35-37.) This hope is

presented in a twofold aspect.


Ø      The hope of the promised reward. (vs. 35-36.) There is a Christian

                        doctrine of recompense.  (By faith Moses, when he was come to

                        years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;

                       Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than

                       to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;  Esteeming the reproach

                       of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had

                       respect unto the recompence of the reward.”  (ch. 11:24-26)

                        All the apostles speak of it in their Epistles under one form or another.

                       No Christian, of course, can claim any reward of legal right. It is the

                        gracious gift of the God of grace. But every steadfast believer obtains

                        it even here on earth; for holiness is its own immediate recompense.

                        And he shall receive it in eternal reversion hereafter; for his

shall be the inconceivable peace and purity, and the inexhaustible

joy and glory, of heaven.


Ø      The hope of Christs second coming. (v. 37.) The apostle here

employs as the vehicle of his thoughts the words given to Habakkuk by

which a former generation of Hebrews had been encouraged to wait

for the humiliation of their Chaldean oppressors (Habakkuk 2:3). But

the scope of the passage requires that we refer the “coming” here

spoken of to our Lord’s second advent. As compared with the endless

ages of eternity, during which His people are to enjoy the “great

 recompense of reward,” the interval which must elapse before His

personal return to the world may well be described as “a very little

while.” The apostles always exhibit the second coming of Christ as

AN IMPENDING EVENT, for which the believer is to yearn

and to make ready. Death is only a parenthesis. Our duty is not so

much to prepare to die, as to cherish the blessed hope.” From the

watch-tower of prayer let us look out for the signs of His appearing;

and thus we shall forget our trials, and maintain our steadfastness.


“Beyond the smiling and the weeping,

Beyond the waking and the sleeping,

Beyond the sowing and the reaping,

Love, rest, and home!

   Sweet hope!

      Lord, tarry not, but come I”



apostle, in concluding with an expression of confidence in his readers,

continues to borrow the words of Habakkuk (Habakkuk 2:4). He thus

reminds them that under every dispensation faith has been the instrument

of salvation. This great saying, “The just shall live by faith,” has become

historical. In the time of Habakkuk it marked off the worship of Jehovah

from heathenism; in the apostolic age (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11)

it distinguished the pure gospel from legalism; at the Reformation it

served to divide scriptural Christianity from Romanism. These six words

were to Martin Luther the golden text of the Bible. They sounded within

his soul, first, as he sat in his quiet cell at Wittenberg; a second time during

his illness at Bologna; and again at Rome, when he was climbing up

Pilate’s staircase upon his knees. It was in connection with Luther’s

perception of the meaning of this text that the great idea of the

Reformation began to possess his soul. What, then, is the force of this

saying of Habakkuk? Clearly it is not to be restricted to the first act of

faith; the statement refers to the entire life of the believer. Although

justified by faith at the beginning, his justification is continued by means of

his perseverance in living faith to the end of his earthly course. The whole

list of godly achievements referred to in ch. 11 illustrates how faith

is the foundation of a life of holy obedience and of spiritual triumph. The

apostle, therefore, reminds his readers that they must persistently “do the

will of God” if they would keep themselves from backsliding unto

perdition. Only a life of continued faith will secure the saving of the soul.”

Union to Christ, justification, participation in Christ’s life, peace of

conscience, sanctification, the certainty of final redemption from all evil, —

these, and every other Christian experience, are the effect of sustained and

habitual faith. It is faith alone which brings us to the Fountain of life, and

keeps us there.



The Just Man, His Character and Safety (vs. 38-39)


  • THE CHARACTER OF THE JUST MAN. It was inevitable, in an

Epistle to Jewish Christians, that there should be some reference to that

Pharisaic righteousness which consisted in a conformity to certain ritual

regulations. There was the man just after the Pharisee fashion, because of

his scrupulosity in ceremonial observances; and there was the man just in

the sight of God, because he believed in God and showed his faith by his

works. These Jewish Christians were righteous men because they were

believers. They had been brought fully to comprehend that while God

cared nothing for a round of ceremonies, He valued in the highest a spirit of

trust in Him — a spirit able to break away from the common reliance of

men upon seen things, and to live as seeing Him that is invisible. This is the

only sort of righteousness that changes the whole of character; for if a man

really trusts God, then men will be able to trust him and get real advantage

out of him.


  • THE SAFETY OF THE JUST MAN. The just man shall live. By his

faith he becomes just in the sight of God, and that faith, continuing and

strengthening, preserves him. What can a round of ceremonies do for a

man? The moment they lose their typical character, the moment they cease

to be symbolic of spiritual realities, that same moment they bring the heart

more than ever in bondage to the senses. The path of safety has always

been the path entered on in response to the voice from on high. To the eye

of sense it may have seemed a needless path, or a foolish path, or a perilous

path. There may have been many to criticize and abuse. The only stay of

the heart has been the deep conviction that the way was God’s way, and

that in the end it would approve itself such. This truth, that the way of faith

in God is the way of safety, is amply illustrated in the following chapter.

Whatever the believer may lose, he keeps THE CHIEF TREASURE!



perseverance in the way of faith. There must be a readiness to wait on

God’s time. Therefore it is that we are warned on trying to enter the life of

faith. Can we go on believing even though our present life be full of

adversity? Our faith must continue against the persuasions of worldly

success and through the pains of all suffering to the flesh. It is to the

prophet Habakkuk the writer refers in reminding us how the just by faith

lives; and that just man of the prophet keeps his faith even though the fig

tree do not blossom, nor fruit be in the vines; though the labor of the olive

fail, and the fields yield no meat; though the flock is cut off from the fold,

and there is no herd in the stalls YET I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD,


IS MY STRENGTH!  (Habakkuk 3:17-19)


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