For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.
(a) The Law refers to the Law of Moses (Jos. 8:31, John 1:17). See entry for The Law.
(b) The good things to come which were foreshadowed in the Law refers to Jesus himself and the new covenant forged in his blood (Matt. 7:11, Rom. 10:15, Phm. 1:6). “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” asked Nathanael (John 1:46). Jesus is the Good Thing who satisfies the hungry (Luke 1:53).
Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, “SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME;
(a) When He comes into the world. On numerous occasions, Jesus told his disciples that he was not from earth but had come or been sent from heaven. “I have come down from heaven” (John 6:38). Because of Adam, humanity was on death row. (Romans 6 calls it living under the condemnation of sin and death.) But Jesus was not from Adam’s fallen line. Jesus was born outside the prison. Only a free man can ransom a slave.
(b) A body. The word for body (soma) means a whole body. The Holy Spirit did not prepare half of a body, but a whole one. In the Passion Translation of this verse, Christ says “You have clothed me with a body.” One day, Mary was not pregnant; the next, “she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:18, ESV). There is much mystery in this. How did the miracle of the Virgin Birth take place? We don’t know the how, but we know the Who. How did the Word become flesh? The Holy Spirit is the answer.
For most of us, life begins in the womb, but Jesus had no beginning. The Word who became flesh was with God when creation began (John 1:1). Jesus did not need a sperm donor or an egg donor. He needed a body, and that’s what the Holy Spirit provided.
Jesus is the eternal God, the Creator of all including Joseph and Mary (John 1:1, Col 1:15–16). Just as Joseph contributed no DNA to Jesus, neither did Mary. How could she, since she was just as much a part of Adam’s enslaved family as Joseph. Mary provided a womb, but no egg.
See entry for Virgin Birth.
By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
(a) By this will we have been sanctified. It was God’s decision to sanctify you.
(b) Through the offering of the body. We have been sanctified through the sacrifice of Jesus (Heb. 10:14).
Perhaps you have heard you need to show resolve and discipline your body to make yourself holy. This is not what the Bible says. It is God’s will and Jesus’ body that sanctifies you once and for all time. Your part is to believe that Jesus has done it all (Acts 26:18).
(c) Once for all. For the third time the “once for all” phrase appears emphasizing that Christ’s sacrifice was a perfect sacrifice that needs no sequel (Heb. 7:27, 9:12). Anything we might add to his finished work only detracts from its sublime perfection.
waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.
Waiting. At present, Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father waiting. But when the Father gives the word, he will return speedily to earth in glory (see Heb. 10:37).
For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
(a) Perfected for all time. Sanctification is not an ongoing process requiring years of laborious self-improvement. Just as you are either married or unmarried, you are either holy or unholy, and in Christ, you are 100% holy. You will never be more holy than the day you were placed into the Holy One. You are the holy temple of the Holy Spirit.
(b) Those who are sanctified. Throughout scripture, Christians are consistently referred to sanctified saints. See entry for Acts 26:18.
In all history only one person ever succeeded in sanctifying himself, and he did it on your behalf. “I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified” (John 17:19).
“THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM
AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD:
I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART,
AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM,”
He then says,
I will put my laws upon their heart. The law that God writes on our hearts and minds is not to the knowledge of right and wrong, nor is it the law of Moses. The only laws that God writes on our hearts are his royal laws of love and faith (John 10:34, Rom. 3:27). God pours out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). He teaches us to trust him and he empowers us to love others (1 John 4:19).
Yet there is an even deeper meaning to these laws that God writes on our hearts. Jeremiah the prophet said that those who had the new law written on their hearts would know the Lord and would no longer need others to teach them (Jer. 31:33-34). He was referring to the indwelling Spirit (a.k.a. the law of the Spirit of life) and the believer’s union with Christ. One with the Lord you have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16), and his indwelling Spirit teaches you all things (John 14:26). The law of the Lord written into your members is your Father’s spiritual DNA. It is the seed of God birthed in you by the Holy Spirit. It is Jesus himself. Jesus is the new law written, by God, in your heart and mind.
Further reading: “What is the law written on our hearts?”
“AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS
I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE.”
I will remember no more. If the old covenant was characterized by the marking of sins (Jer. 14:10, Hos. 7:2, 8:13, 9:9), the new covenant is characterized by the remission or dismissal of sins. Unconditional love implies unconditional forgiveness. Because of his great love for us, God remembers our sins no more, just as the prophets foretold (Is. 43:25, Jer. 31:34).
Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.
(a) Forgiveness. Because of his great love, God chooses to remember your sins no more (Heb. 8:12, 10:17), and he is no longer holding your sins and trespasses against you (2 Cor. 5:19).
The original word for forgiveness (aphesis) is sometimes translated as remission. It means a letting go or dismissal. On the night he rose from the dead, Jesus told the disciples to preach the remission of sins or the good news of unconditional forgiveness (see entry for Luke 24:47).
(b) No longer any offering for sin. As far as God is concerned, there is nothing you need to do to deal with your sins. You don’t need to review them, confess them, or atone for them, because all your sins – past, present and future – were dealt with once and for all at the cross (Heb. 9:26). Sin surely has destructive consequences, but your sin cannot keep you from God’s throne of grace.
let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Full assurance of faith. You can be fully convinced that your Father loves you and wants you to draw near.
You can be weak in faith (Rom. 14:1) or you can be strengthened in the faith (Acts 16:5, 1 Th. 3:2) and grow strong in faith (Rom. 4:20). You can waver in unbelief or you can be established and standing firm in your faith (1 Cor. 16:13). You can be lacking in faith (1 Th. 3:10) or you can build yourself up in the most holy faith (Jude 1:20) until you are rich in faith (Jas. 2:5) and full of faith (Acts 11:24). One of the ways we strengthen our faith is by growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus (2 Pet. 3:18). As our understanding of God’s love deepens, our trust in him is strengthened.
(b) Our hearts sprinkled clean. Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse an evil conscience.
(c) Evil conscience. Some Bibles wrongly translate this as a guilty conscience. Guilt is a common symptom of a life lived under law, but the word hardly appears in the New Testament. In Christ we are righteous, justified, and 100 percent not guilty. But if your conscience condemns you as guilty, perhaps because you heard a graceless message, then your conscience has become an accusing, hurtful and evil conscience. Sometimes we battle condemnation in the form of self-criticism or self-doubt. When that happens, we need to remind ourselves that “God is greater than our heart and knows all things” (1 John 3:20). Our heavenly Father knows every dumb thing you’ve done and every dumb thing you’re going to do, and knowing all this he still loves you and calls you “Beloved” (1 John 2:7). There is nothing you can do to make the Father love you any more, and nothing you can do to make him love you any less. Knowing this fills you with confidence (1 John 3:21) and helps to silence the inner critic.
not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
The day drawing near. Judgment Day (see Heb. 9:27–28).
For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
(a) For if we go on sinning wilfully. In other words, if we continue to rely on our own remedies for sin.
Some use this passage to keep Christians in line. “If you sin on purpose, you’re out of the kingdom.” But that is not remotely Biblical. When you stumble in sin, Jesus speaks in your defence; he doesn’t condemn you (see entry for 1 John 2:1). The author is not talking about Christians who sin, but those who refuse to recognize Jesus as the once and for all solution to their sin.
The Jews had a sophisticated sin-management program. When you sinned, you relied on the blood of bulls and goats to atone for your sin. Although this system did not actually remove your sin (Heb. 10:4), it kept you going until the final solution for sin was revealed, namely Jesus, the Lamb of God who carried the sin of the whole world.
When Jesus appeared to do away with sin once and for all (Heb. 10:12), that old system of bulls and goats was rendered obsolete. Yet some Jews, refusing to recognize the Lamb of God, continued relying on the old system of animal sacrifice. They preferred the altar to the cross. An example comes from those in Nazareth who heard Jesus preach the good news of grace yet rejected the message and tried to kill the Messenger. See entry for Luke 4:28.
(b) After receiving the knowledge of the truth. The only way to deal with our sin is to rely on the once and for all sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.
(c) There no longer remains a sacrifice for sins. If you reject the finished work of Christ, there is nothing you can do to deal with your sins. A lifetime of good works and sacrificial service cannot clear the slate. Only the Son of God can save us from our sins.
A preference for the altar over the cross persists whenever we think we have to bring sacrifices to get God to forgive us. This reliance on the altar comes straight out of the old covenant. The new covenant reveals a better way. See the cross; your sins are there.
but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES.
(a) A terrifying expectation of judgment. Those who reject the Son make themselves enemies of the Father. Those who think they can save themselves only condemn themselves.
(b) The fury of a fire. Our God is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29, see also Is. 26:11).
The ungodly and all those things that are opposed to God’s goodwill will be destroyed by fire (2 Pet. 2:6, 3:7).
On several occasions, the Lord spoke of fire in connection with Judgment Day (Matt. 5:22, 13:42, 50, 18:9, 25:41, Mark 9:43, Luke 17:29–30, John 15:6). He did not dread this fire but he looked forward to it knowing that it would spell the end of sin and usher in eternity (see entry for Luke 12:49).
Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
(a) The Law of Moses refers to the commandments, ordinances, punishments, and ceremonial observances given to the nation of Israel through Moses (Jos. 8:31). This law is sometimes referred to as the law of commandments (Eph. 2:15) or the law of the Jews (Acts 25:8). See entry for The Law.
(b) Dies without mercy. The consequence for rejecting the Law of Moses was death (see Deu.17:2-6; Heb. 2:2).
How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?
(a) How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve. If rejecting the Law of Moses was serious, you can be sure that rejecting God’s Son is far worse (see Heb. 10:31).
(b) Trampled under foot. In the new covenant, faith is described as a rest (Rom. 4:5, Heb. 4:3), while unbelief is described as in terms of action words like trampling and hardening your heart. See entry for Heb. 3:8.
(c) The Son of God. In rejecting Jesus, the religious leaders thought they had rejected a false messiah. In reality, they had rejected the only begotten Son of God. God himself will have something to say about that (Heb. 10:31).
(d) Has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant. To continue trusting in the blood of bulls and goats is to dismiss the superior sacrifice of God’s Son as unclean or worthless.
(e) By which he was sanctified. The blood of Jesus not only deals with our sins once and for all (Heb. 10:12), but it sanctifies us (Heb. 10:10).
Some say this passage is referring to sanctified Christians, but the context indicates it is referring to unbelievers who insult the Spirit of grace by rejecting Christ’s sacrifice (Heb. 10:26). Yet even the worst unbeliever is precious to God. God does not look at anyone as an unholy sinner. Instead, he sees lost people who are worth dying for. Jesus died for everyone and that makes everyone valuable to God.
When Moses sprinkled the blood of the bulls to confirm the old covenant (Ex. 24:6-8) he did it on behalf of the whole camp including those who would reject the covenant and be cut off. Similarly, when Jesus made a covenant with the Father, he did it on behalf of the whole world including those who would reject the covenant through unbelief.
Jesus is like the faithful husband who sanctifies the unbelieving wife (1 Cor. 7:14). We all need to receive by faith the sanctification that Christ has provided (Acts 26:18). But it is Jesus, not our faith, that makes us holy.
(f) Insulted the Spirit of grace. We insult the Spirit of grace by refusing to believe what he says about Jesus and by trusting in our own works and sacrifices. We may call it “proving our salvation” or “appropriating what God has given,” but it is really unbelief. It is like saying, “Forget the cross, I’m clinging to the altar of my sacrifices.”
(g) The Spirit of grace. The Holy Spirit will always point you to the One who is full of grace; he will never point you to the law or condemn you as a law-breaker. See entry for John 16:10.
For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.” And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.”
(a) Vengeance is mine. The writer quotes a pair of promises from the Song of Moses (Deut. 32:35-36). The vengeance-is-mine promise is directed towards God’s enemies, while the Lord-will-judge-his-people promise is for the church.
(b) The Lord will judge his people with compassion, not punishment. “For the Lord will vindicate his people, and will have compassion on his servants” (Deut. 32:36; see also Ps. 135:14).
On Judgment Day, the Lord will separate the wheat from the chaff (Matt. 13:30). Those who trust in the Lord will be vindicated and not put to shame.
It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
(a) It is a terrifying thing. Since those in Christ has nothing to fear from Judgment Day (1 John 4:17), this passage is referring to those who have hardened their hearts to the grace of God.
(b) To fall into the hands of the living God. In the parable of the vineyard workers, the rejection and murder of the son aroused the wrath of the father. “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end” (Matt. 21:41). Similarly, those who trample underfoot the Son of God will reap the wrath of God the Father.
Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.
(a) Do not throw away your confidence. The default setting of the children of God is one of confidence and boldness (Heb. 4:16). Those who have been justified by God, are eternally unpunishable and cannot be condemned (Rom. 8:33). They can look forward to the Lord’s return with confidence (1 John 2:28).
However, if you buy into a message of guilt and condemnation and begin to doubt the goodness of God, you will throw away your confidence and fall from grace (1 John 3:21). This is why we need to reassure our hearts that God’s grace is greater than our sin and his best is better than our worst.
(b) A great reward. The reward of our faith is God himself and knowing that he is with us as we go through the trials of life.
God is always with us – he promised to never leave us – but you will not be confident of his presence if your conscience condemns you. If you think you need to earn God’s favor or that your sins drive him away, you will have thrown away your confidence and will no longer be enjoying your great reward.
FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE,
HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY.
No one apart from the Father knows the hour or day of the Lord’s return (Mark 13:32). Jesus does not know when he will return but he knows how he will return. “I will come quickly. When my Father gives the word, I will come without delay” (see entry for Rev. 3:11).
But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.
(a) Shrink back. Some people hear the good news of God’s grace and draw back thinking, “It’s too good to be true. I’d better take out a little works insurance.” They insult the Spirit of grace by trying to pay for what God has freely provided.
(b) Those who have faith. In the end there are two kinds of people; those who don’t enter God’s rest because of their unbelief and those who believe and are saved. The distinguishing characteristic is not sin, which has been done away with, but faith. It is faith which enables us to draw near to God and receive the grace that preserves or saves the soul.
The Grace Commentary is a work in progress with new content added regularly. Sign up for occasional updates below. Got something to say? Please use the Feedback page. To report typos or broken links on this page, please use the comment form below.
- Hebrews 10:1
- Hebrews 10:5
- Hebrews 10:10
- Hebrews 10:13
- Hebrews 10:14
- Hebrews 10:16
- Hebrews 10:17
- Hebrews 10:18
- Hebrews 10:22
- Hebrews 10:25
- Hebrews 10:26
- Hebrews 10:27
- Hebrews 10:28
- Hebrews 10:29
- Hebrews 10:30
- Hebrews 10:31
- Hebrews 10:35
- Hebrews 10:37
- Hebrews 10:39