Lecture 20: Hebrews 10:19-25
Lecture: Hebrews 10:19-25
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.
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)
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.
2. Continued From Previous Lecture
What I would like to do if we have time, is to set up what is going on chapter 11. There are a number of introductory points that we need to talk through. For example, the use of what is called an example list in the ancient world. There is a specific pattern that is used by the author in chapter 11. Then we have a very harsh warning in verses 26-31 and after that there is again mitigation in the latter part of chapter 10. So, we see a similar pattern to that of chapter 6. What we have seen so far in 10:19-25; the passage is structured around three exhortations: let us draw near, let us hold fast and let us consider something. This passage is like a net. If I were to describe this section, the author is drawing a net from all of the material that has been with us since chapter 3. The author then brings it down to a point in these seven verses here. I recently did a paper on rest in Hebrews 3 and 4 and I said that there were twenty-vie different parallels between chapters 3 and 4 of Hebrews in these seven verses. We also have other material that isn’t found here but instead focused in the material of chapter 9 especially and in the beginning of chapter 10 on the sacrifices. So, the language of sprinkling, cleansing and these kinds of images are drawn from chapters 9 and 10. Know also that chapter 10:19-25 is an over-lapping transition with an exhortation form; so, it is also beginning to move into the final flow of exhortation.
The way that we use the categories to describe these points; it is somewhat of an in-exact science. The semantic dynamics even overlap with each other. If you talk about something being circumstantial; that may overlap with a causal idea; it is the manner in which we draw near. It is also on the basis of what
Christ has done that we are able to draw near. In that sense, it is causal. In regards to meaningful relationship between these different parts, language becomes very complex. I think there is an over-riding causal element in what is going on. The sacrifice of Christ is the basis by which we are able to come into the presence of God.
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.)
Let’s look at the translation of verse 24 and 25. We have the Greek word, παροξυσμόν which was used in the ancient world negatively sometimes to stir someone up. So, some would translate it more positively as to stimulate, to stir up. So, let us consider with reference to one another; we could insert how to stimulate love and good deeds. Resulting in stimulation is the idea that is being communicated; or a stimulation of love and good works. What is the syntax of the αγάπης (love) and έργων (works)? It actually reads, unto a stimulation of love and good works. The Greek εις carried the idea of results. We
are considering in reference to one-another; the result of stimulation of love and good works. The genitive can function to show an object of a verb. There are various possibilities in terms of how you read this. Is the stimulating flowing out of love and good works or is it to love and good works. Are these terms descriptive, simply describing the type of stimulation? The reason why I am pushing this is because we need to continue to think through the possibilities of the syntax here. It isn’t a certain way simply because that is the way we understand it. The construction can communicate a variety of dynamics. So, I think that the noun really has to do with encouragement in some way; stimulation. Some translations render this: let us consider how to encourage one another. It is the idea of stirring somebody up in such a way that it affects them. I think the author has in mind is encouragement or a stimulation that involves a prompting of good works and love. In that sense, you have somewhat of an objective idea. In application, in the community of faith, you and I are supposed to live in community in such a way that we are stirring one-another up. That which is supposed to be stirred up is love and good works. The end results, people are doing good works in the context of love. You can’t say that it is a love that is defined by good works. This is what we are supposed to be doing in the body of Christ. We need to consider how we should relate to one another in order to live out the dynamics of love and good works in the community.
In considering how that happens; we need to ask whether that is what people is normally being stirred up to do. In some church contexts, people are being stirred up negatively. Instead, we are to relate to one another in things that are biblical values and concepts. For example, service to others is what drives certain people. Often we are more self-centered in the way we think, but this isn’t a biblical way of thinking. Often, we over extend ourselves and become so busy that we become self-centered in that what we do is more important than what others are doing. We need to be service-oriented in our relationship to others doing good works that are an expression of love toward others. We need to establish close relationships with people that can hold us accountable to God. This stimulates us to live more effectively for Christ. All this involves being part of a church community; this is why the author goes on in the next verse to tell us what we should do in how to encourage one another. In verse 25, it says, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves; we don’t forsake this with ourselves but instead, we encourage one another. We do this until the ‘Day of Lord’. The backdrop of this phrase in regards to Old Testament theology, we have the Days of Judgement, Days of Vindication or redemption for God’s people. You see this in Amos 8:9-11; Isaiah 2 and Joel 1-3. You have the Day of the Lord in an Old Testament context. This is very popular in apocalyptic literature. In some second temple Jewish literature, it’s called the Day of Judgement. It was taken up into the New Testament by the early Christians in passages like 1st Corinthians 5:5, 1st Thessalonians 5:2, and 2nd Peter 3:10. It is ultimately related to day of Christ’s return. So, the author is saying that we should consider how to inspire one-another on to love and good deeds. We need to do this by doing something and by not doing something such as forsaking the assemblies of ourselves together but instead by encouraging one-another.
You can’t provide encouragement or stimulation for somebody else if you are not relating to them. Living in community means that we need to live relationally with others in the body of Christ in such a way that we are able to have an effect on each other. This requires an involvement in certain things within the church, not everything but nevertheless an active involvement. You need to understand how intertwined the Book of Hebrews is in this exhortation here. You have the high priestly Christology impacting the way we as believers draw near to God, holding fast our confession and standing with the body of Christ in this world and then we encourage and stimulate one-another in the body. You have my relationship to God and my relationship to the world in the body of Christ as I hold fast my confession and within the church in community. This really gives a clear picture of what Hebrews is trying to get at. As I draw near to God on the basis of what Christ has done as my high priest. I am also holding fast my confession because of its superiority as I stand with the community of faith over against the world. I am not getting sucked into the world and abandoning the church by going over into the world. I am standing with the body of Christ holding fast my confession in a firm way. As I relate to those in the body of Christ, in the community of faith, the body of Christ is built up. At this point, Hebrews captures these intertwining contexts of those relationships. Hebrews is a very relational book. You cannot do theology adequately apart from community and you can’t do community, apart from theology. You have to have both and it is in the intersection of sound community and sound theology that you are able to persevere, to hold fast your confession. In thinking about persevering in the faith; this is in direct proportion to the clarity which we see Jesus and what he has accomplished on our behalf. This is foundational to Hebrews. I would go on to say that your perseverance is going to be the clarity in which you see Jesus and what he has done for us as we live in Christian community. Both are christologically affected, being all intertwined. We need to have an ear with people in terms of helping each other to grow theologically. You become involved in those peoples’ lives and serve them.
There is a price to be paid to love people and meet their needs in community; it is then that they will listen to you. We need to provide teddy bear services. This passage, in some ways is the most important passage in Hebrews. We are going to see another climax in 12:18 and following. The general structure of this passage is built around these hortatory verbs: let us draw near, let us hold fast, and let us consider are the main thoughts. These semantic categories are not hard and fast where you have the basis for the exhortations: therefore brothers since we have confidence. The second basis for the exhortation, since we have a great high priest and then you have the first exhortation: let us draw near to God. You have the manner: with a sincere heart and full assurance of faith and then you have the means: having our hearts sprinkles clean from a guilty conscience. The second means is having our bodies washed with pure water; these are parallel concepts. Then we have: let us hold fast the confession and the basis for this the one having promised is faithful. Then, you have this third exhortation; you have: let us hold fast and you have a manner: without wavering. You have a basis: because God is faithful and you have this third exhortation: to let us consider perhaps in reference to one another how to stimulate love and good works. So, there is this idea of stirring up and you have the manner in which you do that as not forsaking but encouraging. They are contrasting between what not to do this and what to do. These principles are often lived out in home groups or smaller communities within larger churches. We are a fragmented society within our own culture. You just don’t drop by to see people; instead you make an appointment. Interestingly, within the New Testament you see a plurality of leadership; there are no CEO approaches to leadership in the New Testament like there is in modern churches today, but in such CEO contexts, biblical principles can be lived out, but often they are not. I think it is dangerous to give the leadership of a church to one person. However, it is actually more difficult to work within a multiplicity of leadership but it actually guards the church for you have multiple perspectives coming into play. There is a shared type of ministry where one person isn’t getting burned out.