Hebrews Chapter 10

Originally Published 7/18/2010.

Heb 10:1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

Now we come to the finale of what Paul1 started when he spoke of Melchisedec in Chapter 7. There he began to teach about salvation and the law. It may seem like Paul has hammered it home because he seems to have repeated this truism several times. Yet this is not repetition at all, but a kind of summation. Here the Apostle brings all the threads together to drive his point home.

The law is a shadow, or type,  of the coming benefit, i.e. the mercy and grace of God through His Son, because it is not the true image of those good things. A type is when a person or an event in the Old Testament foreshadows a person or an event in the New Testament. In this case, the Law foreshadows Christ, Who fulfilled the Law. The law points to Christ and to the Gospel, yet it is verily neither Christ nor His Gospel. Christ provides our complete atonement, once for all, and by His sacrifice and our trust in it, we are perfected and His righteousness is imputed (credited) to us ( Romans 4:24 ). But the sacrifices required by the law for the atonement of sins must have been repeated annually and they could never lead to perfection.

Heb 10:2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.

If they were able to provide complete atonement and if they could have led to perfection, then would the people not have stopped offering them? If they did lead to perfection and did purge sins completely, then what would have been the point of repeating them annually? If the sacrifices were able to truly atone for sins, then those accordingly purged would have no longer been conscious of the sins. Now, I will say that when I am forgiven of a sin, it is perfect forgiveness and the Lord no longer sees it. It is purged and gone forever. And I am able to forget about it. I no longer have to worry about that sin for I know the blood of Christ forgives it completely and eternally.

Heb 10:3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.

Under the sacrifices of the law the elect (e.g. Israelites) still had to worry about their sins because, again, the law was only a shadow of the true salvation that came at the advent of Christ. And their awareness of this incomplete atonement, that is, their conscience, compelled them to sacrifice repeatedly.

Heb 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

How is it possible for the blood of bulls and goats to expunge sins in the light to this passage: Genesis 9:5-6: “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. {6} Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” If God requires the blood of man if a man takes the life of another man, then the blood of bulls and goats could never take the place of the blood of man. Since the wages of sin is death, then sin kills a man. If God requires the blood of man for man in the case of murder, then it stands to reason that the blood of bulls and goats cannot atone for sin, which takes the life of men. In answer, it is not possible.

Heb 10:5-7 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 offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. (7) Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.

This is a direct quote from the Septuagint of Psalm 40:6-8 (LXX 39:6-8): “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not; but a body hast thou prepared me: whole-burnt-offering and sacrifice for sin thou didst not require. (7) Then I said, Behold, I come: in the volume of the book it is written concerning me, (8) I desired to do thy will, O my God, and thy law in the midst of mine heart.” (Brenton Translation)

As for the controversy that this quote from the LXX differs from the Masoretic text of the KJV, I will remain silent, for I do not yet understand it myself. There are several commentators you may wish to consult. I suggest John Calvin, Albert Barnes, Adam Clark, and John Brown. All have some interesting points to make. However none satisfy me. I must await the timing of the Lord for my own understanding; I have placed it in His hands. Take a look at Robertson’s Word Pictures as well.

Yet I do have one gleam of light here. In Psalm 40:6 (above), the KJV says “mine ears hast thou opened”. The Hebrew (of the Masoretic Text) literally states ” mine ear thou hast dug (or bored)”. This is a possible reference to Exodus 21:6 where a servant’s ear is bored through with an awl if the servant who has completed his obligation to his master wishes to remain with his master forever. The boring of David’s ear may have meant that David was God’s servant forever. Of course if one is a servant or slave, his master owns his body. So in boring the ear the servant’s body is prepared for his master forever. If one looks at it this way, there is no discrepancy in thought or meaning but only in syntax. Christ became a servant to His Father, giving over His own body for death, just as David did.

God did not desire sacrifice and offering, but the obedience of His people. In order for them to obey, their hearts had to belong to God. It took the sacrifice of Christ to turn the hearts of the people toward God ( Jeremiah 24:7 , Joel 2:12-13 ).

To come in the volume of the book (literally the roll of the scroll) is to be written of or about in a volume of a book or part of a scroll somewhere. The Geneva Bible margin note says this: “When you had opened my ears and heart, I was ready to obey you, being assured that I was written in the book of your elect for this end.” That is an interesting take since David is not written in any volume of any extant book prior to his meeting with Samuel as a boy. And when David wrote this Psalm, the only scripture available to Him was the Pentateuch containing only Genesis – Deuteronomy. David is neither mentioned nor alluded to there. But the Pentateuch did mention the king (though not a specific king); see Deuteronomy 17:14-20 .

Let me quote Keil & Delitzsch, who did a better job of explaining this point than I could:

Because Jahve before all else requires obedience to His will, David comes with the document of this will, the Tôra, which prescribes to him, as a man, and more especially as the king, the right course of conduct. Thus presenting himself to the God of revelation, he can say in Psalm 40:9, that willing obedience to God’s Law is his delight, as he then knows that the written Law is written even in his heart, or, as the still stronger expression used here is, in his bowels.

Just as David desired to do the will of his Heavenly Father, so did Christ, who obediently went and took the cup His Father had prepared for him. That cup was to take all of the sins of the entire world throughout its entire history and future, even until the end of the age, and to make atonement for them. His sacrifice at Calvary accomplished just this.

Because of Christ the prophecy in Jeremiah 31 was fulfilled: Jeremiah 31:31-34, “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: {32} Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: {33} But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. {34} And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Indeed He has put his law in our hearts and we are His people and He is our God.

Heb 10:8-9 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; (9) Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.

When Christ did the will of God, that is when he allowed Himself to be crucified for the sins of the world, He established that new covenant mentioned in Jeremiah 31. When he established the new covenant, He first did away with the old:

Hebrews 10:10-12 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (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 forever, sat down on the right hand of God;

When Christ made His sacrifice and completed the work that His Father sent Him to do, He atoned for our sins one time for all of them. His sacrifice was perfect and acceptable to God as propitiation (the turning away of God’s wrath by an offering) for all the sins of the world, if only those committing the sins would believe. But the priest who sacrificed daily, making the same sacrifices repeatedly, was not effective in the permanent removal of sins.

Jesus made one sacrifice that was effective eternally; it provides full forgiveness of our sins. He now sits at the right had of the Father much like Joseph sat at the right hand of Pharaoh, to whom all things were given excepting only the throne, where He (Christ) makes intercession for our sins. His enemies have become His footstool (Psalm 110:1 , quoted in Matthew 22:44, Mark 12:36, Hebrews 1:13, 10:13). He will defeat them all with the sword of His mouth (Revelation 19:21).

Jesus’ one sacrifice is effective for all of our sins. No other sacrifice need be made, nor will God accept any other, to make atonement for any and all of our sins, no matter how heinous. The blood of Jesus covers them all. Our sanctification, meaning the setting apart of each of us from sin and a sinful life, is made possible through the one sacrifice that Jesus made for all our sins.

Heb 10:13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

This is a quote of Psalm 110:1. A footstool is where you rest your feet. The depiction of the neck of the vanquished at the feet of a conqueror is indicated here. There is a life sized releif of Darius I standing over the body of a vanquished king (Gaumata) with his foot upon the king’s chest. Darius had it inscribed upon a mountainside known as the Behistun (or Bisutun, or Bisistun) Rock. This is a depiction of an enemy being made someone’s footstool. When enemies become a footstool that means they are vanquished. The enemies of Christ are Satan, those wicked men who reject Christ, and the flesh. Each of them is either vanquished already or will be when Jesus returns. Of course those wicked men who believe on Him are not vanquished, for they are no longer enemies of Christ. The flesh is vanquished within the lives of believers. Satan will be vanquished in the next age. Since the time of Christ’s sacrifice until the end of the age, it has been and will be expected that He will defeat His enemies. Below is a picture of the Behistun Rock in Iran, depicting Darius 1 The Great (second figure from the left—the largest man on the frieze) with his right foot on the neck of a vanquished king.

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Heb 10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.

Jesus was the sinless Son of God, a man, whose offering of Himself, the perfect, sinless sacrifice without any blemish, is perfect, effective, and eternal. God Almighty ordained it. Because it was ordained of God and because it was perfect in every way, and because it was free of sin makes it the only acceptable sacrifice before God for the complete and eternal redemption of sins. Perfected means cleansed of sin and it means that the cleansing is eternal; it need not be repeated like the sacrifices of the Aaronic priesthood. We are forever forgiven our sins, and our sins are remembered no more.

Hebrews 10:15-17 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.

See Jeremiah 31:33-34 . This is the new covenant, the covenant of grace enabled by the shed Blood of Christ. Indeed His laws are in our hearts, written in our minds, and truly the Father no longer remembers our sins because of the act of Christ.

Heb 10:18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

When there is remission of their sins and iniquities (verse 17) there is no further need for any offering. Once an offering has been made and accepted by God as the true remission from sins, no other offering need be made. Jesus Christ is just such offering. There is no other offering acceptable to God the Father. In fact further offering would be like crucifying Christ afresh resulting in putting Jesus to shame. This cannot nor will it happen. Christ will not be put to shame again. The shame He suffered at Calvary was the shame each of us should have suffered but Christ did so in our place. That is why it is called vicarious atonement, which means a substitute. Christ substituted Himself on the cross in our place. He died for us in our place. We owed a debt we could not pay and He paid that debt, which He did not owe. Christ died one time for all our sins, past, present, and future ( Hebrews 10:14 ). There will never be the need for further sacrifice.

This verse finishes the proving that Christ is the Messiah and that He is the one time complete, perfect, effective, and eternal sacrifice. His sacrifice was far greater that the sacrifices made by the Aaronic priesthood. The old sacrifices were repeated over and over but Christ’s sacrifice was once for all. Now we enter into the exhortation of Paul to follow Christ. This exhortation continues to the end of the epistle.

Heb 10:19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

One of the major benefits of the New Covenant of the Blood of Christ, is the ability to come boldly into the inner sanctum, the holy of holies, the most holy place, the holiest of all, which is the presence of God. We may come directly into God’s presence through prayer. Under the old covenant, only the high priest was able to enter into His presence and under only the most special conditions. The priest could only enter into that place one time per year. He had to follow every law and ordinance completely and exactly or he was in peril of death. But now, through the shed blood of Christ all believers may enter into that place with all the righteousness of Christ imputed to them, which is their surety of acceptance. We may enter boldly and without fear because of the blood of Christ and the righteousness He has imputed to us. We will be accepted and allowed in.

Heb 10:20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

It was new because it was unknown under the old covenant. It is a living way because Christ, who shed His own blood, is alive and sitting at the right hand of the Father. The bulls and goats were not alive because they had to be killed for their blood. If the blood was warm and fresh it was acceptable for sacrifice. After it got old and cold, it coagulated making it unusable. It is consecrated because Christ set Himself apart by leaving His abode in Heaven and coming to earth for the express purpose of shedding His blood and dying for our sins.

When Jesus died upon the cross, the veil before the most holy place in the Temple was rent in two, opening the way for all to come boldly into the holiest place. It was opened by the sacrifice of Christ’s flesh upon the cross.

Heb 10:21-22 And having a high priest over the house of God; (22) Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Jesus is the High Priest over God’s house, which consists of the heavenly hosts and God’s people. The Levitical priest washed himself ritually in a large basin of water. He then donned the garb that the law required he wear into the most holy place. After entering that place, he sprinkled the blood of a goat on the mercy seat. That sprinkling is what temporarily cleansed their hearts of sin. The blood of Christ was shed for us and sprinkled on the mercy seat in Heaven and was also symbolically sprinkled on our hearts as atonement from sin. His blood is eternally effective.

The washing of the body, which was the precursor to baptism, ceremonially cleansed the sin and uncleanness from our bodies. If a thing was unclean it must be outside the camp. Uncleanness was often treated with water. Touching the carcass of an unclean animal required that the clothing of the person that touched the unclean carcass be washed in water (Leviticus 11:25). Anyone who touched a man with a bodily discharge, such as lymphatic fluid, semen, blood or any other bodily drainage was required to wash himself and his clothes in water and be unclean until evening (Leviticus 15:7). Touching certain creatures, like creeping things, and touching dead bodies made a person unclean. That person had to bathe with water and be unclean until evening. Animal sacrifices had to be washed specifically according to the procedure prescribed in the law (Exodus 29:17 , Leviticus 1:9 & 13 , Leviticus 8:21, Leviticus 9:14). These things were examples for us. No uncleanness may come into the presence of a Holy God. Uncleanness in the Old Testament symbolized sin and sin must be washed away by the blood of Christ for forgiveness to occur. The blood of Christ is what actually washes our sins away. The Old Testament washings looked forward to the blood of Christ.

Is the Apostle speaking of necessary ablutions for Christians? No, he was relating that the washings of people, clothing, and animal sacrifices looked forward to the cleansing blood of Christ. Just as washing with soap and water washes dirt from out bodies, so the Blood of Christ washes sin from our souls.

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

The Apostle uses this term “hold fast” several times in this epistle. I have endeavored to explain it in several ways. Let me recount them here.

  • “We believers are the house of God because we depend on or hold fast the confidence that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was raised on the third day and now sits at the right hand of the Father making intercession for our sins. That is our hope. It is not a wishful hope but is guaranteed. That is why we rejoice in it.” (From Hebrews 3:6 )
  • “To me it says that the proof of our salvation is that we hold fast our faith until the end of our lives…we have become sharers of Christ, that is, we share in His inheritance because we are saved, if we truly maintain our faith until the end. This is not the same as “if we truly maintain our faith until the end we will be saved,” which is the way some explain it. This means that our salvation is only received by holding fast our faith and, being work, it is wrong. Our salvation requires no work. (from Hebrews 3:14 )
  • “Hold fast” is the present active volitive subjunctive with genitive [in Hebrews 4:14]. That means we are to take hold of our confession or profession and keep hold of it. We are to tenaciously keep holding on to it. What is our profession or confession? It is the Gospel and our witness thereof. We are continually confessing or professing Christ. (from Hebrews 4:14)
  • “We are to have a faith that does not waver. When we hold that faith fast, we hold it steady and do not let it go. That is a very difficult thing to do when there are no other Christians around you. Without a local church, you are isolated from other believers and then it is much easier for your faith to waver. In fact, you will find that as you remain isolated from person-to-person contact with other Christians, you gradually become more worldly. Eventually, you become like many back-sliding Christians who have succumbed to the world’s ways and forgotten the ways of God. This is the price of not following God’s command to assemble together in person with other Christians. Another thing, the longer you remain away from fellowship with other believers, the harder it becomes to get yourself back into fellowship.” (from “How to Find a Church”)

Let us not waver in our faith, but keep it strong, for Christ is unwavering and faithful as he promised.

Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

We are to observe each other and help each other to love each other and to accomplish good works. Such works may only be done in Christ for without him all our works are as filthy rags. They are vanity (empty and meaningless) as Solomon put it in Ecclesiastes.

From “How to Find a Church”:

“We must observe each other (the Greek word for “consider” literally means to fully observe) so that we may urge them to love each other and to perform good works. We cannot observe one another if we do not assemble together. You cannot observe one another if one of you is on a TV screen nor can you urge one another to love and good works in such a case.

And how are we to do all of these things, that is, draw near to Christ, have a full assurance of faith and a clear conscience, hold fast to our faith without wavering, and observe and provoke each other to love and good works? The next verse tells us:”

Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

This is the best-known Bible admonition to attend church regularly. In order to accomplish the two verses preceding this one, we must come together regularly and edify one another. We must do so face to face for that is how can keep our unwavering faith, and provoke each other to love and good works. It is only by meeting regularly with other Christians that we keep the world at bay. Without regular meetings with committed Christians we will become more and more worldly. Its as if we have some of the dirt (sin) from the world washed from us when we assemble together.

From “How to Find a Church”:

” The word rendered assembling is episunagoge. It is the combination of epi, meaning above, super, upon, with, together, and sunagoge, which literally means assembly. Of course it is also the word synagogue and it is sometimes rendered church. Episunagoge literally means gathering together of people, in person, in a local synagogue or a church, that is, in a local assembly of believers. Folks do not go to synagogue or church to watch an evangelist on TV. They go to be together in person with other believers.

Beloved, you need to be in church. If you are not in church, that is, in a local church, regularly assembling with other Christians IN PERSON, you are not in obedience to the Word of God. That means you are sinning. I am sorry to be so blunt; no I am not sorry; if my bluntness offends you, the perhaps you needed to be offended. Sin is sin. Disobedience of God is sin. Disobeying His Word is sin. Repent of your sin and find a local church to get involved with so you can exercise your spiritual gifts and do God’s work. And what is His work? Planting seeds and introducing people to Christ. To accomplish that work, worship, prayer, praise, preaching, teaching, and many other jobs are necessary. The only place to be able to do those things is in a local body of believers”

The approaching day is, of course, the terrible Day of the wrath of God. That is the day in which our Savior will return and gather us unto Himself to be with Him forever. Since we know that day approaches, we must remain prepared for it. Assembling ourselves together regularly will accomplish the task.

Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

Let us begin by understandings the word, “willfully”. It is εκουσιως (hekousios, 1596). Its meaning is ” voluntarily, willingly, of one’s own accord”. The idea of the sin here is apostasy. Sinning does not cause us to lose our salvation. Our sins are forgiven when we are saved. Make no mistake about it, Paul is talking about real salvation. Once we receive, that is take upon ourselves or believe, the knowledge of truth, which is the Gospel, we are truly saved.

Once a person is truly saved, if he willingly, voluntarily, and of his own accord, apostatizes, or rejects his salvation he can no longer be forgiven of his sins. He is doomed to eternal punishment.

Paul is not telling us that this has ever happened. He is telling us that if it were possible to reject your salvation, there would be no way to reclaim it because it would be crucifying Jesus afresh, putting Him to open shame. He tells us this by way of admonishing us to assemble together regularly. He is not teaching that we can lose our salvation. Far from it for if the grace of God gave salvation to me, can my works take it away? No, God gave it and only He could take it away. But we know He won’t:

Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, {39} Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Hebrews 10:27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

For those who willingly apostatize (if that were possible) there is only the expectation of judgment and fiery heat that was made to burn up the adversaries of God. Indignation is the Greek word ζηλος, (zelos, 2205), which is usually rendered zeal, comes from ζέω, (zeo, 2204), which means heat. Zeal could be described as hot blood or hot temper or that a person is “on fire” for a cause. The fiery zeal in the Lake of Fire is heat and plenty of it.

Hebrews 10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Not only would fiery indignation be his future, but his punishment would be much worse because he has trampled upon his Christ and disdained the blood that saved him. That would make the blood of Christ just plain blood, profane and worldly and not effective to forgive sin. That would insult the Holy Spirit.

What is blasphemy? It is, according the 1828 Webster Dictionary,

An indignity offered to God by words or writing; reproachful, contemptuous or irreverent words uttered impiously against Jehovah.

Blasphemy is an injury offered to God, by denying that which is due and belonging to him, or attributing to him that which is not agreeable to his nature.

So would you not say that trampling the blood of Jesus underfoot is denying that which is due and belonging to God and is therefore equivalent to blasphemy? I would. And since it is an insult to the Holy Spirit, then it would be blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Is this unpardonable? Yes, according to Jesus:

Mark 3:28-29 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: {29} But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:

Now, having stated these things, let me state again, that since we are saved by grace, then how could we lose our salvation by works? I do believe that Paul is pointing out that these would be the consequences IF someone could renounce their salvation, and not that he knew anyone who had actually done so. I find it very difficult to believe that anyone who is once saved would ever want to willfully give up their salvation. In my opinion, a person that would seemingly apostatize from their salvation, was not really saved to begin with.

Hebrews 10:30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.

These two statements are quotes of Deuteronomy 32:35-36 (LXX) .

What is vengeance? Webster (1828) says:

“The infliction of pain on another, in return for an injury or offense. Such infliction, when it proceeds from malice or more resentment, and is not necessary for the purposes of justice, is revenge, and a most heinous crime. When such infliction proceeds from a mere love of justice, and the necessity of punishing offenders for the support of the laws, it is vengeance, and is warrantable and just. In this case, vengeance is a just retribution, recompense or punishment. In this latter sense the word is used in Scripture, and frequently applied to the punishments inflicted by God on sinners.”

(An aside: I use the Webster 1828 dictionary from time to time because it gives us a look at words before meanings have been shaded by modern syntax, especially is this day of political correctness and enmity toward all things of Christ. The meanings from the 1828 dictionary have not been filtered through the lens of modern political correctness. An example of this PC intrusion into the language is the very program that I am using to write this study. It is Microsoft Word 2000 (which I do not use to convert text to html because it adds too many unnecessary lines of code). When I write the word ‘mankind’ the grammar checker of Word underlines the word in a wavy green line indicating a grammatical error. When I view the suggestion of the grammar checker, it always suggests I replace ‘mankind’ with ‘humankind’. I have noticed that in many documents written by Christians concerning Christian suggestions, the word ‘humankind’ is included where ‘mankind’ would do better. I immediately know that the writer has accepted the suggestion of a grammar checker. Humankind is genderless while mankind seems to be masculine. The PC thing to do in today’s Western society is to be as inoffensive as possible to certain protected groups. One such group is politically left-leaning women. Although ‘mankind’ is genderless, it has the appearance of being masculine and so it offends the political left. This is pure political correctness and nothing else. You won’t find such mindlessness in the 1828 dictionary.)

The Greek word rendered ‘vengeance’ is εκδικησις ekdikesis, 1557. According to Thayer is means “a revenging, vengeance, punishment “. It comes from the word εκδικεω, ekdiseo, 1557, meaning “to vindicate one’s right, do one justice”. The Hebrew word in Deuteronomy is נקם naqam, 5358. It means to avenge.

The verse is telling us that when we are offended or attacked in some way, we are not to seek revenge. That is God’s job. He is all knowing, and in the end, He will judge. This is what Christ is telling us when He says to turn the other cheek. God will repay all evil deeds. But let us be correct on this subject. Christ died for our sins. All sins. If we have Him as Savior, all of our sins are forgiven. We are chaste before God. Therefore, if someone offends or attacks you and you take revenge, you are taking away the chance for God to forgive that person through Jesus Christ. If your revenge results in the death of the other, then you have possibly taken away the possibility of salvation for that individual.

However, this does not preclude the government from punishing violations of the law. Speeders may be fined, thieves may be jailed, and murderers may be put to death. Why? Because the government is God’s agent to enforce the law.

Romans 13:1-2, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. (2) Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”

So when someone offends or harms you in any way, revenge should not be on your mind. Though the flesh yearns for revenge, we are to conquer the flesh (Romans 8:13 , Galatians 5:24). When conquered, the flesh no longer controls us. Even the secular world understands this about revenge. If someone harms you and you yearn for revenge, that bitterness and yearning will eventually overcome you psychologically. Modern psychology, with all its weakness, still asserts that we should not harbor revenge in our hearts. Modern psychology is correct about this. It is God’s principle. We are not to take revenge for that is God’s job. He will provide justice for He is the Judge. God forgives those who offend us, if they are saved, and therefore we should forgive them. Those unsaved who offend us will suffer the wrath of God, which is a far greater reward for their misdeeds than we could ever render. So leave the revenge to God.

Hebrews 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

We will all fall into the hands of the One True Living God. Whether we fall into His hands to live with Him eternally or whether we fall into His hands for punishment depends on whether or not His Son is our Savior. The fear of the Lord can be a good thing and a bad thing. Those who belong to Him, that is, those who are saved by the blood of Christ, know and understand that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Nevertheless, for those who fall into His hands without Christ there is only everlasting punishment.

Hebrews 10:32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;

This is, of course, directed to those early converts who, being mostly Jews and a few Gentiles, when they were first converted, suffered great persecution because of this conversion. The Jewish society ostracized the Jewish converts from society while the pagan society ridiculed the Gentile converts for their beliefs. This is still done today. I personally know a man  that was a Jew when he was saved. Because of his faith in Christ, he was shunned by his family.

So things have not changed much today. Here in the USA, there is relatively little persecution for new converts, although there is some. Many times the new convert will be said to have “gotten religion”. That is my own experience. When I was saved my old acquaintances said that I had gotten religion. But beyond that, here in the Bible Belt there has been very little persecution. In some circles, however, persecution may be more intense. Some new converts are ostracized from their societal group. Others are laughed at, and still others have been attacked and physically abused. In America (and probably Europe) that is the exception. But there are areas in this world that are downright dangerous for Christians. In some places Christians are being told at gunpoint to convert to another religion or die. Some are sold into slavery, some are arrested, spending long years imprisoned, and some are physically abused or killed. These very things are going on in the world today.

Hebrews 10:33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.

The persecuted endured these afflictions in public while the world watched. Converts gathered together with other persecuted converts. They became compatriots in their afflictions. This very thing happens today exactly as in Paul’s day.

The word rendered gazingstock is θεατριζομενοι, theatridzomenoi, from θεατριζω, theatridzo, 2301. It means to either bring one out upon a stage, which is acceptable for performance arts, or to make a public spectacle for the purpose of ridicule, humiliation, etc. This is not an acceptable circumstance. It is meant purely for contempt. So those new converts were exposed to nothing but contempt from their former peers.

I say former, for the unsaved are not peers with the saints. Again, we must be in the physical world, but we are not to partake of its sins. We should not be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers (the world). It is certainly Christian to love our neighbors, be their friends, treat them with kindness, and help them when they need it. So we should still interact with the world, but yoked with the world pertains to being so involved with the world that we lust after its supposed delights and become more like it.

When those converts were made a “gazingstock”, a word similar to laughingstock, they were held in contempt by the world, ridiculed by it, and more than likely laughed at because of their beliefs. Some were arrested, some cruelly used, and some killed. The verse seems to indicate that the converts united with each other because of the ridicule they received from the world. This is of course true, but the verse really refers to the fact that other Christians, when they observed the ill treatment of the new converts, came to their aid. When they did so, they confessed themselves Christians and shared in the persecutions. The next verse refers to this as well.

Heb 10:34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.

Paul (or, if you prefer, the writer of Hebrews) was one of those companions that was persecuted. Other Christians had compassion on him, and because of their support of him, they lost some or all of their possessions. They endured it joyfully because they knew that, in the words of J.R. Baxter Jr.,

“This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue”

Heb 10:35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.

Because of these things, and because your treasures are laid up in heaven, never lose your confidence in your salvation. Do not give up the hope you have in Christ: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12, See also Luke 6:22-23 )

Heb 10:36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

Be patient in trials and suffering. Be patient under persecution. Be patient in all things that happen to you in the world. The will of God is that you bear such sufferings in the hope of better things and remain faithful.

Heb 10:37-38 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.

This is a quote of Habakkuk 2:3-4, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. (4) Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.” This is the Masoretic text; Paul quoted the Septuagint.

Habakkuk was conversing with the LORD about the prideful in Israel. His complaint was, “the upright man is circled round by evil-doers; because of which right is twisted.” (Habakkuk 1:4) It seemed to him that God’s people were always loosing and that the evil men were always ahead of the game. Things have not changed much in 2600 years have they? Today things are the same: right is twisted; evil is in and righteousness is out. God told Habakkuk that the Messiah will come. Even though He seems to tarry and the time seems to go slowly, He will come, and nothing will stop Him. God told Habakkuk to wait patiently for it.

When Messiah comes, he will set all things aright. He will curse the prideful man, in whom He has no pleasure: Habakkuk 2:5-6 “Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people: (6) Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay!” Woe unto the man whose soul is lifted up, to the prideful man. But the just will live forever because of his faith in Christ.

Contrary to what many commentators say, Paul quoted Habakkuk here. They claim that Paul was not referring to Habakkuk, but to the fall of Jerusalem. Perhaps. But in context we see that Paul discussed the afflictions that Christians suffered in his day and how it seemed like that world was winning, while in reality, Christ was winning. He then quoted Habakkuk who had the same complaint about God’s people suffering persecution. God told Habakkuk to, in essence, “hang in there” for Messiah would come and set things right. This is exactly the thought of Paul in these last verses of chapter 10. Exactly.

Even though things seem to be going wrong, even though the world seems to wax worse and worse, and even though it seems that morality is ever lessening, Jesus is coming back and will rid the world of evil. He will destroy this old world with fire and create a new world where all things are righteous. He will judge the prideful, those that draw back, and he will reward the righteous. We must wait patiently for that return.

I feel I must discuss the difference between Paul’s quote of the Septuagint versus what the Masoretic text states. The Masoretic text states in Habakkuk 2:4, “his soul which is lifted up“, while the LXX (Brenton’s English Translation of the LXX) states, “If he should draw back“.

The KJV adds, in italics, “any man” (if any man draw back). Those words are not in the original. Brenton, in his translation of the LXX, does not add those words. In context, without the italicized words, if a man draws back from being just, he has lifted up his soul in pride against God. So the Septuagint does not contradict the Masoretic. It just says the same thing in different ways. The just will live forever because of his faith, but the prideful man, whose soul is lifted up, has nothing to look forward to but woe.

Hebrews 10:39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

Christians do not lift up their pride against God. This verse tells us that we Christians cannot draw back and lose or give up our salvation. It supports what I said about sinning willing after receiving the knowledge of truth in verse 26. I said that Paul did not say that anyone could do that. He was telling us that if it were possible to reject your salvation, there would be no way to reclaim it because it would be crucifying Jesus afresh, putting Him to open shame. This verse explicitly states that we Christians are not of them that draw back from salvation. Therefore, that means that we cannot willingly apostatize.

We are not of the prideful but we are those that live by faith. Our souls are saved. We will spend eternity with Christ while the prideful have an appointment with the Lake of Fire.

  1. The reason I use “Paul” instead of “the writer of Hebrews” is explained in the preface to Chapter 1. If you disagree that Paul is the writer, please continue to read for I have no argument with you. As a scholar once said, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, diversity; in all things, love” (attributed to Augustine).
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