Lecture 19: Hebrews 10:1-18
Lecture: Hebrews 10:1-18
1 For the law possesses a shadow of the good things to come but not the reality itself, and is therefore completely unable, by the same sacrifices offered continually, year after year, to perfect those who come to worship. 1 2 For otherwise would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers would have been purified once for all and so have 2 no further consciousness of sin? 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year after year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 So when he came into the world, he said, “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me. 6 “Whole burnt offerings and sin-offerings you took no delight in. 7 “Then I said, ‘Here I am: I have come – it is written of me in the scroll of the book – to do your will, O God.’” 8 When he says above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sin-offerings you did not desire nor did you take delight in them” (which are offered according to the law), 9 then he says, “Here I am: I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first to establish the second. 10 By his will we have been made holy through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands day after day 10 serving and offering the same sacrifices again and again – sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 where he is now waiting 13 until his enemies are made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy. 15 And the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us, for after saying, 16 “This is the covenant that I will establish with them after those days, says the Lord. I will put my laws on their hearts and I will inscribe them on their minds,” 17 then he says, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no longer.” 18 Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. 19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the fresh and living way that he inaugurated for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings, because we have had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. 23 And let us hold unwaveringly to the hope that we confess, for the one who made the promise is trustworthy. 24 And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, 25 not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near.
I. Purpose and Process
At the end of chapter 9, we saw the nature of Christ’s sacrifice was such that he just died one time which completely eradicated sin. Christ died once in relation to sin in terms of his first coming. But he is coming again to bring to those who are expecting him. He is going to bring salvation on his second coming. You have this inaugurated eschatology and thus this tension that Christ has already dealt with our sin by his sacrifice on the Cross in his first coming. He has thus prepared the way for salvation to be brought at his second coming for those who are a part of the new covenant.
We will see in 10:1-18 a number of dynamics. In terms of the purpose the author emphasizes the decisiveness of Christ’s sacrifice. It is something that is final and decisive. It never needs to be repeated again. So the purpose is to communicate the decisive nature of Jesus’ sacrifice. It was made once for all
time and it doesn’t have to be repeated. The process by which he does this is by the in cooperation of several Old Testament passages. We will look at Psalm 40:6-8 and the author is going to allude again to Psalm 110:1 in chapter 10:12. Then he is going to bring back in part of the quotation of Jeramiah 1 in order to reiterate the idea that our sins have been completely dealt with. Normally, we wait and go through the passage and then talk about some of the practical implications of this. However, today I want to fore shallow a little what we are going to see in the passage. As we go through it, the passage will reinforce this main idea. This is important in terms of practical church life today and how we deal and talk to people about the nature of sin and guilt. People will stand up in church and pray that God will forgive them of their many sins. From a theological standpoint in terms of where Hebrews is coming from at this point, he has already forgiven us. He has already decisively paid for our sins. But how do we live in light of this theological truth? If Christ has paid for our sins once for all time, this means that all of the sins that I will ever commit have already been decisively dealt with by Christ. If I am a part of the new covenant, part of that nature is that he will no longer remember their sins. So, how clearly do you grasp the decisiveness with which your sins have already been paid for?
A. The Decisiveness of How Our Sins Have Been Dealt with:
Now, what are the objections to this? We have in 1st John 1:9, if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. What is the context of 1st John 1? What is he dealing with here in this chapter? In part, he is dealing with heresy. They thought that they didn’t have sin. It is possible to interpret this passage not in light of ongoing Christian life, but in light of the heresy he is addressing. Of main emphasis in 1st John, if you love the brothers and sisters, then you are walking in light. If you create factions in the church, then your spiritual condition is called into question. You probably don’t even know Christ if you are causing relationships to break down. So, in terms of the big picture, even the way he places those exhortations doesn’t deal so much with daily discipleship and growth as they are in terms of one’s relationship with God. Another argument, if Christ’s death forgave our sins two thousand years ago, there would never be any reason to confess your sins in your life. It would need to be recognized in how it was applied to you. From a theological standpoint, we can say that Jesus’ death in some ways has implications that are above time. The implications of his death reach back to the beginning of history and all the way forward to the end of time. However, we live in a linear time being linear beings; so we have to appropriate that forgiveness. What about the Lord’s Prayer in regards to forgive us of our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us? The Lord’s Prayer is a model prayer with a historical context of teaching people who perhaps are not Christians. Christ hasn’t died and been resurrected yet. However, it is still applicable to us.
When Jesus was teaching, you had the old covenant era overlapping with the new. You have the Kingdom of God coming in but we need to let Jesus speak to that time. That is the reason you have Jesus speaking about things and the way Paul speaks about things. This is because you are dealing with
two different time frames. I am trying to get you to think about this; if you look in the New Testament, actually, the place where there is emphasis on confession is more person to person in the church. I come to you and confess that I hurt you and wronged you in some way and I ask for your forgiveness. That is the emphasis. So, we need to think a little more clearly about the theological implication of what Hebrews is saying. I want to take the historical context of the teaching very seriously. If we simply go in and take all the teachings of Jesus as just Christian teachings, post-resurrection type teachings, some of those teachings don’t sound much like Pauline theology. Did the church appropriate those teachings as Christian teachings because they were teachings of Christ; yes, they did. But they need to be within their historical context. That is why you have the rich young ruler coming and asking what must he do to be saved. Jesus dealt with him as one in covenant with God and confronting him on that basis rather than what we would expect to hear in Romans. We have the Gospels in all the teachings of Jesus as material for the church. To understand it well, you have to let it speak within its historical context.
B. I Still Sin and Must Appropriate God's Forgiveness.
I have two points in terms of how we appropriate this. First, I think it is very encouraging to grasp how decisively my sins have been dealt with by the sacrifice of Christ. If I am a person of the new covenant, I am not guilty before God. If I commit sin and feel guilty in terms of guilt and my relationship with God being damaged in the relationship as part of my ability to come into the presence of God, it is a lie that says that I am not worthy to come into the presence of God. My ability to come into the presence of God is based on my High Priest and his work on my behalf. That work could not be more decisive. As a person of the new covenant; when I sin, I have a basis for confessing that I am indeed in a right relationship with God on the basis of what Jesus has done. Secondly, however, in terms of the practical implications of this, I do still sin and as Glen (a student) pointed out, because I live in a linear time, I do still have to appropriate God’s forgiveness. So, if I sin, I agree with God that it was sin, but I also agree with God that this sin has already been dealt with by Christ. I don’t beg God for forgiveness; I already have the forgiveness that is provided. The idea here is when I sin I agree with God about that sin, but it isn’t like I have to beg God for the forgiveness of it. What I have found is the realization of how decisively Christ has dealt with my sin and that is actually served as a strengthening for me standing against sin. When I understand the extent which God went to eradicate my sin, it is absurd for me to willfully sin. I want to stand against that and stand with Christ and this is exactly what Paul says in Romans 6. Should we kind of arrogantly sin whereby grace might abound? No, of course not! This is not a Catholic idea where I have to go to Mass every week making sure my sins are dealt with. I believe that there is a dynamic where our sin grieves the Spirit of God. There is a relational dynamic, not the established relationship, the covenant relationship that is not affected. My fellowship with God is affected because the Spirit in me is grieved by sin. When I confess and am reconciled to God in terms of the fellowship. This isn’t the same as being reconciled in terms of covenant relationship.
We have seen in Hebrews, if a person sins willfully and uses this as a basis for sin, it is probably an indicator that they really don’t know Christ. In this now and not yet tension in terms of salvation, if a person can walk away from Christ and sin again God and not be bothers by it, we have no right to say that they don’t know Christ, but have no right to give them assurance that they do. Their lives may be manifesting that they don’t know Christ.
A. Hebrews 10:1-4:
1 σκιάν (5 a shadow) γαρ (For) έχων (having) ο (the) νόμος (law) των (of the) μελλόντων (about to be) αγαθών (good things) ουκ (is not) αυτήν (itself) την (the) εικόνα (very image) των (of the) πραγμάτων (things,) κατ΄ ενιαυτόν (yearly) ταις (with the) αυταίς (same) θυσίαις (sacrifices) ας (which) προσφέρουσιν (they offer) εις το διηνεκές (in perpetuity,) ουδέποτε (and at no time) δύναται (is able) τους (2 the ones) προσερχομένους (coming forward) τελειώσαι (to perfect.)
2 επεί (Since) ουκ αν (would not) επαύσαντο (they have ceased) προσφερόμεναι (to be offered.) διά (On account of) το μηδεμίαν (would not) έχειν (have) έτι (any longer) συνείδησιν (conscience) αμαρτιών (of sins) τους (the ones) λατρεύοντας (serving) άπαξ (once) κεκαθαρμένους (being cleansed;)
3 αλλ΄ (but) εν (in) αυταίς (these) ανάμνησις (there is a remembrance) αμαρτιών (of sins) κατ΄ ενιαυτόν (yearly.)
4 αδύνατον γαρ (For it is impossible) αίμα (for the blood) ταύρων (of bulls) και (and) τράγων (of he-goats) αφαιρείν (to remove) αμαρτίας (sins.)
Verse 1: For the law having a shadow of the coming good things, not the very image of the things; the law is like the Tabernacle and its different vessels; these were a shadow of what is in heaven. Now, he is saying the law itself in terms of the sacrifices was a shadow of the coming good things and not the very image of the things. In other words, when you looked at the Law, you didn’t see the greater reality of what God wanted to do. It was just enough of the sketch to point you to that greater reality. Those sacrifices were offered yearly, year after year. They were never able to perfect the ones drawing near. He is playing off of the Day of Atonement imagery, the entering into the Holy Place and ultimately the Holy of Holies. When you look at that system, those sacrifices that were offered under the law were offered over and over again because they were not able to prefect those who were drawing near to God. So, this idea of shadow is simply a sketch of the great realities. It was something like a faint outline. It was pointing to something that was greater. In terms of background; you have Plato’s allegory of the cave where he contrasts the shadow from the images casting the shadows. Cicero used the imagery to contrast natural and civil law, suggesting that humans didn’t process a firm and clear model of true law and real justice but rather utilized a shadow of the real thing. So, this language of shadows was used in the broader educational system of the day. Herald Abridge (a NT Scholar) notes that Hebrews uses these Platonic terms in the framework of Jewish apocalyptic. He isn’t just talking about the earthly over the heavenly here; he is talking about the past era over against the new covenant era. That temporal framework is more in line with the Jewish apocalyptic. Paul uses this in Colossians 2:16-17 where he says not to let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink or with regard to religious festivals, new moon celebrations or the Sabbath Day, these are a shadow of the things that are to come but the reality is found in Christ.
Verses 2 to 4: Here, he is asking a rhetorical question saying, they would have ceased offering because the ones worshiping no longer would have had a consciousness of sins. In essence you can tell that the sacrificial system according to the Law wasn’t able to deal decisively with sin because, if that had been the case, they would have ceased to be offered because of the worshipers having been cleansed; a perfect passive participle here; once would not have had a consciousness of sins. Then he goes on in verse 3 to point out that in them, the sacrifices, there is a reminder of sins on an annual basis. So the
earthly sacrificial system, instead of being able to eradicate a consciousness of sin; the idea that sins cuts me off in relationship with God, they actually stimulated by consciousness of sin. Every year, the fact that sacrifices needed to be made, this meant that I am a sinner and thus not worthy to go into the presence of God. So, he is looking at the earthly sacrificial system where sins had to be dealt with year after year and saying that the very nature of these sacrifices shows that sin is still a problem. It stops me from going into the presence of God. Would they have not ceased from offering because the ones who are worshipping, having been cleansed once, would no longer have a consciousness of sins. In verse 4, he re-iterates something that he has already made a point of; the blood of bulls and goats is unable or impossible to take away sins. So, you have a reminder of sins in the sacrificial system; the author epitomizes it in the Day of Atonement sacrifices and says that the whole systems was set up to say that our sinfulness before God is perpetual, something that is constantly having to be dealt with.
You have that passage that says that if I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me. I think that context of that passage under the old covenant is very important. Even in relationship with God under the new covenant; if I am rebelling against God, there is a question as to whether I can expect an answer to my prayers which is what he is talking about here. God doesn’t hear with the intention of answering. God does deal with us as children even now. The way that we wouldn’t want to hear that passage is that if I’m sinning, God doesn’t have the ability to hear me. With any Scripture, you have to ask what it means in the original context, how you talk about it in terms of the principles that are there. I think we can say that God doesn’t bless rebellion. Grace is not only forgiving, it is forming. Sometimes the most gracious thing that God can do is to give us the implications of the situation that we are in.
The sacrificial system was brilliant in that God made a decisive statement about how bad sin is in keeping people out of his presence. He also had the system set up where people could maintain a relationship with him. So, you have this tension under the old system between being kept out and being invited in. But still, by its nature, it involved that fact that we were perpetually kept out of the presence of God and perpetually needing to enter into the presence of God through sacrifices. The sacrificial system in its nature was inadequate. Just like with the priests themselves, something about their nature, their mortality made them inadequate for the greater things that God was wanted to accomplish.
B. Hebrews 10:5-10:
5 διό (Therefore) εισερχόμενος (entering) εις (into) τον (the) κόσμον (world,) λέγει (he says,) θυσίαν (Sacrifice) και (and) προσφοράν (offering) ουκ (you did not)
ηθέλησας (want,) σώμα δε (but a body) κατηρτίσω (you readied) μοι (for me.)
6 ολοκαυτώματα (Whole burnt-offerings) και (and) περί (sacrifices for) αμαρτίας (sin) ουκ (you did not) ευδόκησας (think well of.)
7 τότε (Then) είπον (I said,) ιδού (Behold,) ήκω (I come) εν (in) κεφαλίδι (the roll) βιβλίου (of the scroll) γέγραπται (it has been written) περί (concerning) εμού (me) του ποιήσαι (to do,) ο (O) θεός (God,) το θέλημά σου (your will.)
8 ανώτερον (By earlier) λέγων (saying) ότι (that,) θυσίαν (Sacrifice) και (and) προσφοράν (offering) και (and) ολοκαυτώματα (whole burnt-offerings) και (and)
περί (for) αμαρτίας (sin offerings) ουκ (you did not) ηθέλησας (want,) ουδέ (nor) ευδόκησας (think well of) αίτινες (which) κατά (according to) τον (the) νόμον (law) προσφέρονται (are offered)
9 τότε (then) είρηκεν (he said,) ιδού (Behold,) ήκω (I come) του ποιήσαι (to do,) ο (O) θεός (God,) το θέλημά σου (your will.) αναιρεί (In this he does away with) το (the) πρώτον (first,) ίνα (that) το (the) δεύτερον (second) στήση (should be established.)
10 εν (By) ω (which) θελήματι (will) ηγιασμένοι εσμέν (we are sanctified) διά (through) της (the) προσφοράς (offering) του (of the) σώματος (body) του Ιησού (of Jesus) χριστού (Christ) εφάπαξ (once for all.)
Therefore, coming into the world, he says; where have we seen something like this before? In Hebrews 2:5, we have the idea of the coming world, but before that in Hebrews 1, he sends the firstborn into the world. This is probably referring to the heavenly world, it isn’t the birth of Jesus but it is when he is exalted to the right hand of God that all the angels of God worship him. He uses Cosmon here; so when he sends him into the world, this is speaking about the incarnation. It is specifically referring to the body of Christ. The logic of this passage is important for the author of Hebrews. He says that sacrifice and offerings, you haven’t desired sacrifice and offering, but a body you have prepared for me. One of the changes in the text here is a change from the idea of ears to the preparation of a body. You prepared a body for me. Next, he mentioned another type of offering, translated whole burnt-offerings. Also concerning sin, you have no pleasure in this and those concerning sin. So the first part of the passage, the author says that God wasn’t into sacrifices as an end in themselves. You see this even in the Old Testament from the quote here and other places; it starts to come out in Judaism that the sacrificial system, apart from a heart that is seeking God in a right way, isn’t working. It isn’t something that is working the way that it is supposed to work. Notice that in verse 7, then I said; there is a kind of temporal progression in the passage; God wasn’t pleased with these things, but then he says, ‘behold, I come.’ In the role of the book; this is about a scroll form here. It was written concerning me to do your will oh God. So, the author is taking this as significant that the Old Testament text (referring to the Greek above) moves from that God didn’t have pleasure in the sacrifices but then the person speaking on this text that he is coming and the scroll talks about him coming to do God’s will. The first thing, sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt-offerings and those concerning sins, you didn’t desire nor take pleasure in them which was offered according to the Law at the end of verse 8.
He said, behold, I come to do your will. He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will, we are, having been sanctified. Here there is a specific Greek construction; you have the idea pulled together. His idea is that, it is by this will as spoken in the passage; it is by God’s will we are having been sacrificed through the offering of the body, ‘Greek word, somatash,’ of Jesus Christ once for all time. Notice how he is doing an exegesis of this Old Testament passage. The author is dealing with the details of the text here, even to the point of saying that you have a temporal progression from one part of the passage and moving to the second part. God eradicates the offerings in order to establish what he was doing in Christ through Christ presenting his body as a sacrifice. For the author, this logic built into the passage is very significant. In regards to the context of this passage in terms of the Old Testament and then I want to point out a couple of interesting things in terms of the form of the text. You have a slight adjustment to the text seeming to be made by the author.
1. Old Testament Context:
The Old Testament context concerns Psalm 40 which has two distinct movements. In the Masoretic text; it is Psalm 39 in the Septuagint. The first ten verses of the passage is a thanksgiving Psalm and then verses 11-17, it becomes a Psalm of lament. It seems to have been widely circulated and part of it is also repeated in Psalm 70 which means it was probably very popular circulating fairly widely in the worship context of the day. The quote that we have from Psalm 40 comes from the thanksgiving portion of the Psalm in verses 1-10. In the first part of that thanksgiving, you have the author thanking God for deliverance in the first three verses. God heard his cry and raised him from the pit and his feet on a firm place. We don’t know exactly how his life was in danger but he is thanking God for delivering him. The Psalm continues with an affirmation of blessing for the person who places their trust in the Lord because he is a God of wonders and great plans for those who follow him. In the verse that is quoted seems to refer to the king’s submission to the Lord God as part of his royal duties. It recalls Samuel’s pronouncement upon Saul’s grant failure. The appropriate performance of God’s worship must be grounded in his faithful service in his role as the king. The offering of sacrifices in and of itself was not the most basics of God’s requirement. This is a Psalm in which the king is coming and submitting himself before the Lord. If you look at the original form of this, having to do with the drilling of the ears as it is translated; that idea has to do with submission. You have made me where I hear your commands and I submit to you. So, the basic thing that God wants wasn’t offerings, but a commitment to the will of God.
The author of Hebrews appropriates this passage as Christological. It makes perfect sense in terms of Christology of the New Testament. A large part of what you have in the New Testament, you have the royal imagery concerning Christ as Messiah. So, as the Davidic King, this would be applicable to Jesus,
but also in relation to Jesus’ sufferings, think about how many passage emphasize his submission to the Father as he goes through his passion and then the result is exhortation. Think of those passages like Psalm 2 and Psalms 5-11 and the emphasis in the Gospels themselves and Gethsemane experience.
You have this great emphasis in the Christology of the New Testament that Jesus was submitted; so completely obedient to the Father all the way to the point of death on the Cross. This is what the author is tying it into here. The sacrifice, the death of Christ is the grand expression of his obedience. So, this Old Testament passage is appropriated in that way.
2. Textual Background:
Okay, in regards to the textual background, Hebrews obvious quotes a Greek version of the Old Testament. This seems to cover four variations from what we have in our old Greek text, specifically the Septuagint. We use the term Septuagint and sometimes you will see the designation ‘OG’ used of the old Greek. With the Pentateuch, you had that as the initial part of the Old Testament that was translated into Greek. But the other parts of the Old Testament seemed to have been translated later over a period of time and in various contexts and with various styles of translation. So, some people will refer to the whole of the Greek Old Testament as the Septuagint, but in more technical discussions, you will see this designation ‘OG’ which means those parts especially outside the Pentateuch which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Normally it is the same thing in our text of the Septuagint, but it is pointing out that the Septuagint isn’t just a unified whole in terms of the way it was produced.
The parts that are different in the quotation, form the Greek text of the Old Testament. You have ‘soma’ in 5c rather than ‘opia’ which means ears. So, you actually have witnesses BS which is Codex Sinaiticus which was found in the Sinai. And then you have Codex Alexandrinus, the second great Greek manuscript. These two read ‘soma’. These probably should be read as corrections by scribes who were trying to bring those later manuscripts in line with quotations from Hebrews. So you have ‘soma’ instead of ‘opia’. The singular of the word that we translate as whole burnt offerings is there. Instead of the plural that we have in our text, the ‘hal kye tomaka’ and you have the active indicative form of ‘itao’, to ask for which has been changed to ‘udokyo’ in our text (Please refer to the original Greek Bible with English parallel translation for the correct spelling and meaning of these Greek words. This is provided in the Word© software program freely downloadable). God has not asked for these whole burnt offerings rather than he hasn’t had pleasure in them. Then the ‘ta selima sue’ and the ‘ha sayhas’ of the Greek Old Testament have been transposed. They have been switched around in verse 7c and the remainder of the verse has been omitted. So, our text is a translation that kind of truncates the end of the quote and focuses on the person speaking who is doing the will of God. Karen Jobs (a Christian scholar) has written an article on this passage entitled Paronomasia. This is what Job suggests; what the author does is that he makes these adjustments which don’t change the meaning of the passage. He does this for stylistic reasons. The changes achieve what is called phonetic assonance between the variants and another word in the quotation. So, the quotation roles off the tongue and you have the same sounds at the end of different lines. So, it is a stylistic device that makes the reading flow and sound very pleasing to the ear. For instance, ‘so madey’ has phonetic assonance with the final three syllables of ‘halla kal tomake’. These changes bring about this kind of pleasing balance to the text. The same can be said for the relationship between the ‘uk aselaysash and uk udockaysash.’
So, her idea is that there are these similar sounds on the ends of the words to achieve this effect. You do see this in a lot of the rhetorical handbooks of the day. This is one of the things that the writer can do. I would draw a parallel to our preaching at times in which I may slightly paraphrase the passage that I am quoting from the Bible that I’m using. This is to rhetorically make it role off the tongue and have a little more punch. This is not disrespecting the text; the author doesn’t change the meaning, but there is a slight change in order to achieve this kind of pleasing type of quotation which was valued in the rhetoric of the day. If you are studying this and read the Old Testament text, you will wonder what the problem is. There could be a number of points associated with this; the Hebrew text perhaps isn’t the original form of the text or the text of the Septuagint text, the Greek text is different than the Septuagint text the author was using. It seems that these stylistic changes are the motivating factor. The word ‘soma’ which is one of the changes is an important word for him; he seems to be interpreting the original reading of the text as communicating the idea of submission of the king. The author is reading it as ultimately referring to Christ and submission in death as a sacrifice for sin. Even though a bit technical, this sort of thing seems to happen in places in the Book of Hebrews. His scheme all the way from chapter 9 to 10:18. One of the main points he wants to make is that Christ’s sacrifice was made only once for all time.
C. Hebrews 10:11-18
11 και (And) πας μεν (indeed every) ιερεύς (priest) έστηκε (stands) καθ΄ ημέραν (daily) λειτουργών (officiating,) και (and) τας (the) αυτάς (3 same) πολλάκις (often) προσφέρων (offering) θυσίας (sacrifices,) αίτινες (which) ουδέποτε (at no time) δύνανται (are able) περιελείν (to remove) αμαρτίας (sins.)
12 αυτός δε (But he) μίαν (one) υπέρ (for) αμαρτιών (sins) προσενέγκας (1 having offered) θυσίαν (sacrifice,) εις το διηνεκές (in perpetuity) εκάθισεν (sat) εν (at) δεξιά (the right) του θεού (of God;)
13 το (for the) λοιπόν (remaining time) εκδεχόμενος (looking out) έως (until) τεθώσιν (2 be placed) οι εχθροί αυτού (1 his enemies) υποπόδιον (as a footstool) των ποδών αυτού (of his feet.)
14 μία γαρ (For by one) προσφορά (offering) τετελείωκεν (he has perfected) εις το διηνεκές (in perpetuity) τους (the ones) αγιαζομένους (having been sanctified.)
15 μαρτυρεί (bears witness) δε (And) ημίν (to us) και (also) το (the) πνεύμα (4 spirit) το άγιον (holy;) μετά γαρ (for after) το προειρηκέναι (he describes beforehand,)
16 αύτη (This is) η (the) διαθήκη (covenant) ην (which) διαθήσομαι (I will ordain) προς (with) αυτούς (them) μετά (after) τας ημέρας εκείνας (those days,) λέγει (says) κύριος (the Lord,) διδούς (putting) νόμους μου (my laws) επί (upon) καρδίας αυτών (their hearts;) και (and) επί (upon) των διανοιών αυτών (their thoughts) επιγράψω (I will inscribe) αυτούς (them;)
17 και (and) των αμαρτιών αυτών (their sins) και (and) των ανομιών αυτών (their lawless deeds) ου μη (in no way) μνησθώ (shall I remember) έτι (any longer.)
18 όπου δε (But where) άφεσις (there is a release) τούτων (of these,) ουκέτι (there is no longer) προσφορά (an offering) περί (for) αμαρτίας (sin.)
So, the author moves to the climax here in verses 11-18. He is going to focus on the idea of the sacrifice of Jesus being once; it’s done and it doesn’t have to be made over and over again. He says that every high priest stands day by day ministering his offering, the same sacrifices repeatedly. So every priest is
standing day by day offering the same sacrifices over and over again which aren’t able to take away sins except for this one, speaking of Jesus. Then he refers to the old covenant sacrifices are offered continually and yet they are not able to prefect consciousness. He says that this one having offered his sacrifice, he sat down at the right hand of God. The idea here is that having made one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right hand of God. The contrast, whereas the other priests have to stand continually to offer their sacrifices, Jesus now sits down from now on at the right hand of God. The
allusion to Psalm 110:1 is being used to show that when he sits down at the right hand of God, he is in contrast to those who are standing constantly offering sacrifices for sins. So the sitting down is used as an image of finality. This is finished out in verse 13, waiting for the rest until his enemies are placed under his feet. So, this is a concise finality that Christ’s work is finished. Now Christ is waiting until his enemies are placed under his feet. You have an explanation of this in verse 14; for by one offering he has perfected ‘for all time’ a particular phrase used in Greek, the ones being sanctified. The concept of sanctification here; we have already seen the image of perfection. He has perfected for all time; in other words, he has brought to where we need to be. The idea is that he has gotten us into the presence of God. This idea of perfection is going all the way to the place where you need to be. Note that sanctification in Hebrews doesn’t mean an ongoing process to maturity in the faith. The ones being sanctified is being cleansed from their sin and put in a right relationship with God.
He uses the present tense and passive. How would it be interpreted as a progressive present? It isn’t something that was done one point in time. The present tense is often used for an ongoing incomplete action. So, the fact that people are constantly being called into the new covenant over time would be the reason to use the present tense. You have something that is duration; this is something that is spread out over time. It happens here and here and here with different individuals being addressed. There is timelessness to it. What is important here, the author is using this idea of perfection which has been accomplished. He has perfected for all time those who have come into new covenant; the idea of being sanctified is more realizing that is done as people come into the new covenant over time. The author does have a concern of ongoing growth in the Christian life. Remember, we are here at the climax on this section of the sacrifice of Christ, putting us into a right relationship with God. Notice what the author does next in verse 15; he says, for the Holy Spirit bears witness to us for after he says. He goes into his quote here that reiterates Jeramiah 31; he is doing the same thing that he did with the Psalm 40 passage. He is breaking down the last part of the Jeramiah 31 passage. Remember that this whole section on offering began with the quote of Jeramiah. We have a brief introduction in 8:3-6 but then the foundation argument for the superiority of the new covenant is this quote of Jeramiah 31:29. Now at the end of this section on offerings, he is now focusing on one specific part of the quotation from Jeramiah 31. He says that this is the covenant which I will establish with them after those days, says the Lord. I will give my laws on their hearts and I will write them on their minds and their sins and their lawlessness, I will no longer remember. The reason why he introduces like this; after he says that I will make a new covenant with them and put my laws upon their hearts; he then says the will no longer remember their sins and lawlessness. This idea is inferred in verse 17. Remember in 4:14-16 he said, let us hold fast our confession and let us draw near and then in 19-25 he says let us draw near and hold fast; he inverts them. This inversion might be done to frame off the area. He is kind of paraphrasing with using parts of the passage which he wants to emphasize.
Verse 17 leaves out this little phrase. There are some manuscripts that include this. It is kind of inferred in the text here. So, his point is, he wraps up this whole section on the superiority of the offering of Jesus with part of this quote about the new covenant having to do with the decisively nature of God dealing with sins. After he says that he is going to make a covenant with them which I place my laws on their hearts and writing them on their minds. Then he says that he will not remember their sins and lawlessness any longer. The author finishes this whole section emphasizing that sins will be done away with. Then the final comment in verse 18, where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer offerings for sin. If you remember in chapter 6:4-8, we talked about the inability to repent because I said if you turn away from Jesus, there is nowhere else to go for repentance. Part of what it means to be a new covenant person is to understand that God has decisively dealt with sins by a final sacrifice which is not repeated. That sacrifice did away with the old sacrificial system. Where can you go for forgiveness and for repentance except Christ? That is why in 1-:26, the author is going to say that if we continue to deliberately sin after coming to knowledge of the truth, there is no longer a sacrifice for sin. There is no longer a place to have your sins forgiven because Christ has done away with all of that.
You may think that this is a creative exegesis here in terms of dealing with the Old Testament priests and the fact that Psalm 110; he has now sat down now waiting. This shows that his action is complete. At every point, he is drawing from the Old Testament text itself. He isn’t just pulling this stuff out of the air; he is dealing with aspects and details of the meaning of the Old Testament texts. Of course, now the Jewish people don’t have any king of sacrificial system. They have a rough concept of dealing with sin; they see themselves as falling short.
C. Hebrews 10:19-25
19 έχοντες (Having) ούν (then,) αδελφοί (brethren,) παρρησίαν (confidence) εις (for) την (the) είσοδον (entrance into) των (the) αγίων (holies) εν (by) τω (the) αίματι (blood) του Ιησού (of Jesus,)
20 ην (which) ενεκαίνισεν (he dedicated) ημίν (to us) οδόν (a way) πρόσφατον (newly made) και (and) ζώσαν (living,) διά (through) του (the) καταπετάσματος (veil,) τουτ΄ έστι (that is to say) της σαρκός αυτού (his flesh;)
21 και (and having) ιερέα (priest) μέγαν (a great) επί (over) τον (the) οίκον (house) του θεού (of God,)
22 προσερχώμεθα (let us draw near) μετά (with) αληθινής (a true) καρδίας (heart,) εν (in) πληροφορία (full assurance) πίστεως (of belief,) ερραντισμένοι (being sprinkled) τας (with) καρδίας (hearts) από (from) συνειδήσεως (conscience) πονηράς (a wicked,) και (and) λελουμένοι (being bathed) το (the) σώμα (body) ύδατι (water) καθάρω (with clean.)
23 κατέχωμεν (Let us hold fast) την (the) ομολογίαν (confession) της (of the) ελπίδος (hope) ακλινή (unwavering!) πιστός γαρ (for trustworthy) ο (is the one)
24 και (And) κατανοώμεν (let us mind) αλλήλους (one another) εις (for) παροξυσμόν (stimulating) αγάπης (love) και (and) καλών (good) έργων (works!)
25 μη (not) εγκαταλείποντες (abandoning) την (the) επισυναγωγήν (assembling) εαυτών (of ourselves,) καθώς (as) έθος (the custom) τισίν (with some,) αλλά (but) παρακαλούντες (encouraging one another,) και (and) τοσούτω (by so much) μάλλον (more) όσω (as much as) βλέπετε (you see) εγγίζουσαν (approaching) την (the) ημέραν (day.)
In going through 10:19-25, I want us to look at the structure of it. First, the purpose and process includes the climax of the Christology of the Book. It is the combining passage that joins a lot of strings in regards to the author’s argument about the superiority of Jesus and his ministry. The process that the author uses has to do with the closing of the grand inclusio. You have elements at the beginning of a unit that are repeated at the end of the unit or section that parallel one another in order to bracket or mark something off as a dedicated section. So, what the author does in terms of process, he closes off the grand inclusio that was opened with chapter 4:14-16. You have eight verbal parallels here in this structure between these two passages. You also have the material on the superiority ministry of Jesus; it is kind of taken up into the passage. In 4:14-16, you have Jesus passing through the heavens and then in 6:19-20, you have Jesus going in behind the curtain and it is as if we are right outside the curtain. He goes in before us and then in 7:1-10:18, you have all the developmental material on the superior high priesthood of Jesus. So now in 10:19-20, we have confidence to enter in. There is a progression here. So 4:14, Jesus enters in to the heavenly tabernacle and then 6:19-20, Jesus goes in before us and we have confidence to enter in 10:19-20 to the holy place on the basis on what Jesus has done on our behalf.
As you look at this passage from a structural standpoint, what are the main verbs that will give the main clauses for this passage? We will have ‘let us draw near’, ‘let us hold fast’, and ‘let us consider.’ I want to see how these supporting clauses work with this. This is a powerful passage to preach on. Interestingly, I can say that this passage contains somewhat of a summary of Hebrews packed tightly together. It is on the basis of Christ’s high priesthood that we have the ability to do these things.
In verse 19 talks about confidence, the confidence to enter; so we have confidence to go in to the Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus. For verse 20, there is a newly made dedicated way for us. There is the idea of Jesus establishing something for us. The way is new and living through the veil or curtain. The
explanation that follows in his flesh; he’s giving further explanation of what he means by the veil. An interesting theological question; what does he mean when he says that Jesus new and living way and describes his body as the veil. The new and living way that he has established for us; he is obviously
playing of imagery of the high priest entering into the holiest place; going in through that curtain. The way is new in that it was previously unavailable. It is living; for the sacrifices before had to do with death. You didn’t go in without the blood sacrifice. Now, it is a living way because we enter into the presence of God by our association with the living God, Jesus. In saying that the veil was his flesh, he is referring to entering into the presence of God. I think drawing near is synonymous with entering into the presence of God. So, his emphasis is going into the very presence of God. That curtain that kept us out of the holiness place; it’s not the curtain that keeps us out of the tabernacle. To get into the presence of God, you have to go through Jesus. The veil here in a spiritual sense is Jesus; you have to go through his sacrifice in order to enter into the very presence of God. You have the holy place and then the holy of hollies referring to the inner room. In 9:8, this is obviously referring to the holy of hollies or holiest place. The plural here refers to the Holy of Holies.
Structurally, if we put our subordinate clauses here and move them in on these main clause ideas, then what we have is, having confidence, and you have the description of the confidence to enter into the holiest place. It is confidence to enter by the blood of Jesus and we have a description of the way. It is a
way which he inaugurates, a way that is new and living; this is through the veil of his flesh. Coming to verse 21, we have confidence and we have a great priest. We have confidence and we have a great priest; then, let us draw near with a true heart in the full assurance of faith. Some people try to draw the idea of baptism from this imagery but that really doesn’t work. He is drawing on the imagery from the Old Testament context. We have our heart sprinkled clean from an evil conscious with our bodies washed with clean water. The imagery goes back to the Old Testament system where you had all of these washings, and so he is using the imagery to talk about have our hearts cleansed and making us where we are in a right relationship with God. We draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith and then having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscious seems to be the basis of us drawing near. The idea of cleansing runs parallel to the idea of having confidence because of our great priest. Coming with a true heart with full assurance of the faith perhaps parallels the idea of the great priest is what has to do with the cleansing.