Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
CONCLUSION OF THE
Instead of the daily ministry of the Levitical priests, Christ's service
is perfected by the one sacrifice, whence He now sits on the right hand
of God as a Priest-King, until all His foes shall be subdued unto Him.
Thus the new covenant
is inaugurated, whereby the law is written on the heart, so that an
offering for sin is needed no more. Wherefore we ought to draw near
the Holiest in firm faith and love; fearful of the awful results of
apostasy; looking for the recompense to be given at Christ's
1. Previously the oneness of Christ's offering was shown;
now is shown its perfection as contrasted with the law sacrifices.
having--inasmuch as it has but "the shadow, not the very image,"
that is, not the exact likeness, reality, and full revelation, such as
the Gospel has. The "image" here means the archetype (compare
the original, solid image [BENGEL] realizing to us
those heavenly verities, of which the law furnished but a shadowy
outline before. Compare
2Co 3:13, 14, 18;
the Gospel is the very setting forth by the Word and Spirit of the
heavenly realities themselves, out of which it (the Gospel) is
constructed. So ALFORD. As Christ is "the
express image (Greek, 'impress') of the Father's person"
so the Gospel is the heavenly verities themselves manifested by
revelation--the heavenly very archetype, of which the law
was drawn as a sketch, or outline copy
The law was a continual process of acted prophecy, proving the divine
design that its counterparts should come; and proving the truth of
those counterparts when they came. Thus the imperfect and continued
expiatory sacrifices before Christ foretend, and now prove, the reality
of, Christ's one perfect antitypical expiation.
good things to come--
belonging to "the world (age) to come." Good things in part made
present by faith to the believer, and to be fully realized hereafter in
actual and perfect enjoyment. Lessing says, "As Christ's Church on
earth is a prediction of the economy of the future life, so the Old
Testament economy is a prediction of the Christian Church." In relation
to the temporal good things of the law, the spiritual and eternal good
things of the Gospel are "good things to come."
calls legal ordinances "the shadow," and Christ "the body."
never--at any time
with those sacrifices--rather, "with the same sacrifices.
year by year--This clause in the Greek refers to the
whole sentence, not merely to the words "which they the priests
offered" (Greek, "offer"). Thus the sense is, not as English
Version, but, the law year by year, by the repetition of the
same sacrifices, testifies its inability to perfect the
worshippers; namely, on the YEARLY day of
atonement. The "daily" sacrifices are referred to,
continually--Greek, "continuously," implying that they
offer a toilsome and ineffectual "continuous" round of
the "same" atonement-sacrifices recurring "year by year."
comers thereunto--those so coming unto God, namely, the
worshippers (the whole people) coming to God in the person of their
representative, the high priest.
perfect--fully meet man's needs as to justification and
sanctification (see on
2. For--if the law could, by its sacrifices, have perfected the
once purged--IF they were once for all
conscience--"consciousness of sin"
3. But--so far from those sacrifices ceasing to be
in, &c.--in the fact of their being offered, and in the course
of their being offered on the day of atonement. Contrast
a remembrance--a recalling to mind by the high priest's
confession, on the day of atonement, of the sins both of each past year
and of all former years, proving that the expiatory sacrifices of
former years were not felt by men's consciences to have fully atoned
for former sins; in fact, the expiation and remission were only legal
(Heb 10:4, 11).
The Gospel remission, on the contrary, is so complete, that sins are
"remembered no more"
by God. It is unbelief to "forget" this once-for-all purgation, and to
fear on account of "former sins"
The believer, once for all bathed, needs only to "wash" his
hands and "feet" of soils, according as he daily contracts them, in
4. For, &c.--reason why, necessarily, there is a continually
recurring "remembrance of sins" in the legal sacrifices
Typically, "the blood of bulls," &c., sacrificed, had power; but
it was only in virtue of the power of the one real antitypical
sacrifice of Christ; they had no power in themselves; they were
not the instrument of perfect vicarious atonement, but an exhibition of
the need of it, suggesting to the faithful Israelite the sure hope of
coming redemption, according to God's promise.
take away--"take off." The Greek,
is stronger, explaining the weaker word here, "take away
utterly." The blood of beasts could not take away the sin of
man. A MAN must do that (see on
5. Christ's voluntary self offering, in contrast to those
inefficient sacrifices, is shown to fulfill perfectly "the will of God"
as to our redemption, by completely atoning "for (our) sins."
Wherefore--seeing that a nobler than animal sacrifices was
needed to "take away sins."
when he cometh--Greek, "coming." The time referred to is
the period before His entrance into the world, when the
inefficiency of animal sacrifices for expiation had been proved [THOLUCK]. Or, the time is that between Jesus' first
dawning of reason as a child, and the beginning of His public ministry,
during which, being ripened in human resolution, He was intently
devoting Himself to the doing of His Father's will [ALFORD]. But the time of "coming" is present; not
"when He had come," but "when coming into the world"; so, in
order to accord with ALFORD'S view, "the world"
must mean His PUBLIC ministry: when coming, or
about to come, into public. The Greek verbs are in the
past: "sacrifice . . . Thou didst not wish, but a body
Thou didst prepare for Me"; and, "Lo, I am come."
Therefore, in order to harmonize these times, the present
coming, or about to come, with the past, "A body Thou
didst prepare for Me," we must either explain as ALFORD, or else, if we take the period to be
before His actual arrival in the world (the earth) or
incarnation, we must explain the past tenses to refer to
God's purpose, which speaks of what He designed from eternity as
though it were already fulfilled. "A body Thou didst prepare in Thy
eternal counsel." This seems to me more likely than explaining "coming
into the world," "coming into public," or entering on His public
ministry. David, in the fortieth Psalm (here quoted), reviews his past
troubles and God's having delivered him from them, and his consequent
desire to render willing obedience to God as more acceptable than
sacrifices; but the Spirit puts into his mouth language finding its
partial application to David, and its full realization only in the
divine Son of David. "The more any son of man approaches the incarnate
Son of God in position, or office, or individual spiritual experience,
the more directly may his holy breathings in the power of Christ's
Spirit be taken as utterances of Christ Himself. Of all men, the
prophet-king of Israel resembled and foreshadowed Him the most" [ALFORD].
a body hast thou prepared me--Greek, "Thou didst
fit for Me a body." "In Thy counsels Thou didst determine to
make for Me a body, to be given up to death as a sacrificial
victim" [WAHL]. In the Hebrew,
it is "mine ears hast thou opened," or "dug." Perhaps this alludes to
the custom of boring the ear of a slave who volunteers to remain
under his master when he might be free. Christ's assuming a human
body, in obedience to the Father's will, in order to die the
death of a slave
was virtually the same act of voluntary submission to service as that
of a slave suffering his ear to be bored by his master. His willing
obedience to the Father's will is what is dwelt on as giving
especial virtue to His sacrifice
(Heb 10:7, 9, 10).
The preparing, or fitting of a body for Him, is not with
a view to His mere incarnation, but to His expiatory sacrifice
as the contrast to "sacrifice and offering" requires; compare
More probably "opened mine ears" means opened mine inward ear,
so as to be attentively obedient to what God wills me to do, namely, to
assume the body He has prepared for me for my sacrifice, so
(doubtless the boring of a slave's "ear" was the symbol of such
"The Lord God hath opened mine ear," that is, made me obediently
attentive as a slave to his master. Others somewhat similarly explain,
"Mine ears hast thou digged," or "fashioned," not with allusion
but to the true office of the ear--a willing, submissive attention to
the voice of God
(Isa 50:4, 5).
The forming of the ear implies the preparation of the body, that is,
the incarnation; this secondary idea, really in the Hebrew,
though less prominent, is the one which Paul uses for his argument. In
either explanation the idea of Christ taking on Him the form, and
becoming obedient as a servant, is implied. As He assumed a body
in which to make His self-sacrifice, so ought we present our
bodies a living sacrifice
6. burnt offerings--Greek, "whole burnt
thou hast had no pleasure--as if these could in themselves atone
for sin: God had pleasure in (Greek, "approved," or "was well
pleased with") them, in so far as they were an act of obedience to
His positive command under the Old Testament, but not as having an
intrinsic efficacy such as Christ's sacrifice had. Contrast
7. I come--rather, "I am come" (see on
"Here we have the creed, as it were, of Jesus: 'I am come to
fulfil the law,'
to call sinners to repentance,
to send a sword and to set men at variance,
Mt 10:34, 35;
I came down from heaven to do the will of Him that sent me,
Joh 6:38, 39
Ps 40:7, 8);
I am sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,
I am come into this world for judgment,
I am come that they might have life, and might have it more abundantly,
to save what had been lost,
to seek and to save that which was lost,
to save men's lives,
to send fire on the earth,
as "the Light,"
to bear witness unto the truth,
See, reader, that thy Saviour obtain what He aimed at in thy case.
Moreover, do thou for thy part say, why thou art come here? Dost thou,
then, also, do the will of God? From what time? and in what way?"
[BENGEL]. When the two goats on the day of
atonement were presented before the Lord, that goat on which the lot of
the Lord should fall was to be offered as a sin offering; and that lot
was lifted up on high in the hand of the high priest, and then laid
upon the head of the goat which was to die; so the hand of God
determined all that was done to Christ. Besides the covenant of
God with man through Christ's blood, there was another covenant made by
the Father with the Son from eternity. The condition was, "If He shall
make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed," &c.
The Son accepted the condition, "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God"
[BISHOP PEARSON]. Oblation,
intercession, and benediction, are His three priestly offices.
in the volume, &c.--literally, "the roll": the parchment
manuscript being wrapped around a cylinder headed with knobs. Here, the
Scripture "volume" meant is the fortieth Psalm. "By this very passage
'written of Me,' I undertake to do Thy will [namely, that I should die
for the sins of the world, in order that all who believe may be saved,
not by animal sacrifices,
but by My death]." This is the written contract of Messiah (compare
whereby He engaged to be our surety. So complete is the inspiration of
all that is written, so great the authority of the Psalms, that what
David says is really what Christ then and there said.
Sacrifice, &c.--The oldest manuscripts read, "Sacrifices
and offerings" (plural). This verse combines the two clauses
previously quoted distinctly,
Heb 10:5, 6,
in contrast to the sacrifice of Christ with which God was well
9. Then said he--"At that time (namely, when speaking by David's
mouth in the fortieth Psalm) He hath said." The rejection of the legal
sacrifices involves, as its concomitant, the voluntary offer of Jesus
to make the self-sacrifice with which God is well pleased (for, indeed,
it was God's own "will" that He came to do in offering it: so
that this sacrifice could not but be well pleasing to God).
I come--"I am come."
taketh away--"sets aside the first," namely, "the legal system
of sacrifices" which God wills not.
the second--"the will of God"
(Heb 10:7, 9)
that Christ should redeem us by His self-sacrifice.
10. By--Greek, "In." So "in," and "through," occur in the
"Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through
the Spirit." Also,
in the Greek. The "in (fulfilment of) which will"
(compare the use of in,
"wherein [in which grace] He hath made us accepted, in the Beloved"),
expresses the originating cause; "THROUGH
the offering . . . of Christ," the instrumental or
mediatory cause. The whole work of redemption flows from "the
will" of God the Father, as the First Cause, who decreed redemption
from before the foundation of the world. The "will" here
(boulema) is His absolute sovereign will. His "good will"
(eudokia) is a particular aspect of it.
are sanctified--once for all, and as our permanent state
(so the Greek). It is the finished work of Christ in having
sanctified us (that is, having translated us from a state of unholy
alienation into a state of consecration to God, having "no more
conscience of sin,"
once for all and permanently, not the process of gradual
sanctification, which is here referred to.
the body--"prepared" for Him by the Father
As the atonement, or reconciliation, is by the blood of Christ
so our sanctification (consecration to God, holiness and eternal
bliss) is by the body of Christ
ALFORD quotes the Book of Common Prayer
Communion Service, "that our sinful bodies may be made clean by
His body, and our souls washed through His most precious blood."
once for all--
9:12, 26, 28; 10:12, 14).
11. And--a new point of contrast; the frequent repetition of the
priest--The oldest manuscripts read, "high priest." Though he
did not in person stand "daily" offering sacrifices, he did so by the
subordinate priests of whom, as well as of all Israel, he was the
representative head. So "daily" is applied to the high priests
standeth--the attitude of one ministering; in contrast to
"sat down on the right hand of God,"
said of Christ; the posture of one being ministered to as a king.
which--Greek, "the which," that is, of such a kind as.
take away--utterly; literally, "strip off all round." Legal
sacrifices might, in part, produce the sense of forgiveness, yet
scarcely even that (see on
but entirely to strip off one's guilt they never could.
12. this man--emphatic
for ever--joined in English Version with "offered one
sacrifice"; offered one sacrifice, the efficacy of which endures for
ever; literally. "continuously," (compare
"The offering of Christ, once for all made, will continue the one and
only oblation for ever; no other will supersede it"
[BENGEL]. The mass, which professes to be the
frequent repetition of one and the same sacrifice of Christ's body, is
hence disproved. For not only is Christ's body one, but also His
offering is one, and that inseparable from His suffering
The mass would be much the same as the Jewish sacrifices which Paul
sets aside as abrogated, for they were anticipations of the one
sacrifice, just as Rome makes masses continuations of it, in opposition
to Paul's argument. A repetition would imply that the former
once-for-all offering of the one sacrifice was imperfect, and so would
be dishonoring to it
(Heb 10:2, 18).
on the contrary, says, "He hath PERFECTED FOR EVER
them that are sanctified." If Christ offered Himself at the last
supper, then He offered Himself again on the cross, and there would be
two offerings; but Paul says there was only one, once for
all. Compare Note, see on
English Version is favored by the usage in this Epistle, of
putting the Greek "for ever" after that which it qualifies.
Also, "one sacrifice for ever," stands in contrast to "the same
1Co 15:25, 28,
Heb 10:12, 13,
taken as English Version, not joining, as
ALFORD does, "for ever" with "sat down," for Jesus
is to give up the mediatorial throne "when all things shall be
subdued unto Him," and not to sit on it for ever.
13. expecting--"waiting." Awaiting the execution of His
Father's will, that all His foes should be subjected to Him. The Son
waits till the Father shall "send Him forth to triumph over all
His foes." He is now sitting at rest
invisibly reigning, and having His foes virtually, by right of His
death, subject to Him. His present sitting on the unseen throne
is a necessary preliminary to His coming forth to subject His foes
openly. He shall then come forth to a visibly manifested kingdom and
conquest over His foes. Thus He fulfils
This agrees with
He is, by His Spirit and His providence, now subjecting His foes to Him
The subjection of His foes fully shall be at His second advent,
and from that time to the general judgment
then comes the subjection of Himself as Head of the Church to the
Father (the mediatorial economy ceasing when its end shall have been
accomplished), that God may be all in all. Eastern conquerors used to
tread on the necks of the vanquished, as Joshua did to the five kings.
So Christ's total and absolute conquest at His coming is symbolized.
be made his footstool--literally, "be placed (rendered)
footstool of His feet."
his enemies--Satan and Death, whose strength consists in "sin";
this being taken away
the power of the foes is taken away, and their destruction necessarily
14. For--The sacrifice being "for ever" in its efficacy
needs no renewal.
them that are sanctified--rather as Greek, "them that
are being sanctified." The sanctification (consecration to God)
of the elect
believers is perfect in Christ once for all (see on
(Contrast the law,
Heb 7:19; 9:9; 10:1).
The development of that sanctification is progressive.
15. The Greek, has "moreover," or "now."
is a witness--of the truth which I am setting forth. The
Father's witness is given
Now is added that of the Holy Spirit, called accordingly "the Spirit of
The testimony of all Three leads to the same conclusion
for after that he had said before--The conclusion to the
sentence is in
"After He had said before, This is the covenant that I will make
with them (with the house of Israel,
here extended to the spiritual Israel) . . . saith the Lord;
I will put (literally, 'giving,' referring to the giving of the
law; not now as then, giving into the hands, but giving)
My laws into their hearts ('mind,'
and in their minds ('hearts,'
I will inscribe (so the Greek) them (here He omits the
addition quoted in
Heb 8:10, 11,
I will be to them a God . . . and they shall not teach
every man his neighbor . . .), and (that is, after He
had said the foregoing, HE THEN ADDS) their
sins . . . will I remember no more." The great object of the
quotation here is to prove that, there being in the Gospel
covenant, "REMISSION of sins"
there is no more need of a sacrifice for sins. The object of the same
is to show that, there being a "NEW covenant," the
old is antiquated.
18. where remission of these is--as there is under the Gospel
"Here ends the finale
of the great tripartite arrangement
(Heb 7:1-25; 7:26-9:12; 9:13-10:18)
of the middle portion of the Epistle. Its great theme was Christ a High
Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. What it is to be a high
priest after the order of Melchisedec is set forth,
as contrasted with the Aaronic order. That Christ, however, as High
Priest, is Aaron's antitype in the true holy place, by virtue of His
self-sacrifice here on earth, and Mediator of a better covenant, whose
essential character the old only typified, we learn,
And that Christ's self-sacrifice, offered through the Eternal Spirit,
is of everlasting power, as contrasted with the unavailing cycle of
legal offerings, is established in the third part,
the first half of this last portion
showing that both our present possession of salvation, and our future
completion of it, are as certain to us as that He is with God, ruling
as a Priest and reigning as a King, once more to appear, no more as a
bearer of our sins, but in glory as a Judge. The second half,
reiterating the main position of the whole, the High Priesthood of
Christ, grounded on His offering of Himself--its kingly character its
eternal accomplishment of its end, confirmed by Psalms 40 and 110 and
Jeremiah 31" [DELITZSCH in ALFORD].
19. Here begins the third and last division of the Epistle;
our duty now while waiting for the Lord's second advent.
Resumption and expansion of the exhortation
Heb 10:22, 23
here) wherewith he closed the first part of the Epistle, preparatory to
his great doctrinal argument, beginning at
boldness--"free confidence," grounded on the consciousness that
our sins have been forgiven.
to enter--literally, "as regards the entering."
by--Greek, "in"; it is in the blood of Jesus that
our boldness to enter is grounded. Compare
"In whom we have boldness and access with confidence." It is His
having once for all entered as our Forerunner
and High Priest
making atonement for us with His blood, which is continually there
before God, that gives us confident access. No priestly caste now
mediates between the sinner and his Judge. We may come boldly
with loving confidence, not with slavish fear, directly through Christ,
the only mediating Priest. The minister is not officially nearer God
than the layman; nor can the latter serve God at a distance or by
deputy, as the natural man would like. Each must come for himself, and
all are accepted when they come by the new and living way opened by
Christ. Thus all Christians are, in respect to access directly to God,
virtually high priests
They draw nigh in and through Christ, the only proper High Priest
20. which, &c.--The antecedent in the Greek is "the
entering"; not as English Version, "way." Translate, "which
(entering) He has consecrated (not as though it were already existing,
but has been the first to open, INAUGURATED
as a new thing; see on
where the Greek is the same) for us (as) a new (Greek, 'recent';
Ro 16:25, 26)
and living way" (not like the lifeless way through the law offering of
the blood of dead victims, but real, vital, and of
perpetual efficacy, because the living and life-giving
Saviour is that way. It is a living hope that we have,
producing not dead, but living, works). Christ, the
first-fruits of our nature, has ascended, and the rest is sanctified
thereby. "Christ's ascension is our promotion; and whither the glory of
the Head hath preceded, thither the hope of the body, too, is called"
the veil--As the veil had to be passed through in
order to enter the holiest place, so the weak, human suffering
of Christ's humanity (which veiled His God head) had to be passed
through by Him in entering the heavenly holiest place for us; in
putting off His rent flesh, the temple veil, its type, was
simultaneously rent from top to bottom
Not His body, but His weak suffering flesh, was the veil;
His body was the temple
21. high priest--As a different Greek term
(archiereus) is used always elsewhere in this Epistle for "high
priest," translate as Greek here, "A Great Priest"; one
who is at once King and "Priest on His throne"
a royal Priest, and a priestly King.
house of God--the spiritual house, the Church, made up of
believers, whose home is heaven, where Jesus now is
(Heb 12:22, 23).
Thus, by "the house of God," over which Jesus is, heaven is
included in meaning, as well as the Church, whose home it
(Heb 4:16; 7:19.)
with a true heart--without hypocrisy; "in truth, and with a
perfect heart"; a heart thoroughly imbued with "the truth"
with no doubt as to our acceptance when coming to God by the blood of
Christ. As "faith" occurs here, so "hope," and "love,"
Heb 10:23, 24.
sprinkled from--that is, sprinkled so as to be cleansed
evil conscience--a consciousness of guilt unatoned for, and
Both the hearts and the bodies are cleansed. The legal
purifications were with blood of animal victims and with water, and
could only cleanse the flesh
(Heb 9:13, 21).
Christ's blood purifies the heart and conscience. The Aaronic
priest, in entering the holy place, washed with water
in the brazen laver. Believers, as priests to God, are once for all
washed in BODY (as distinguished from "hearts") at baptism. As we have
an immaterial, and a material nature, the cleansing of both is
expressed by "hearts" and "body," the inner and the outer man; so the
whole man, material and immaterial. The baptism of the body, however,
is not the mere putting away of material filth, nor an act operating by
intrinsic efficacy, but the sacramental seal, applied to the outer man,
of a spiritual washing
"Body" (not merely "flesh," the carnal part, as
includes the whole material man, which needs cleansing, as being
redeemed, as well as the soul. The body, once polluted with sin, is
washed, so as to be fitted like Christ's holy body, and by His body, to
be spiritually a pure and living offering. On the "pure water," the
symbol of consecration and sanctification, compare
The perfects "having . . . hearts sprinkled
. . . body (the Greek is singular) washed,"
imply a continuing state produced by a once-for-all accomplished act,
namely, our justification by faith through Christ's blood, and
consecration to God, sealed sacramentally by the baptism of our
(Heb 3:6, 14; 4:14.)
our faith--rather as Greek, "our hope"; which is indeed
faith exercised as to the future inheritance. Hope rests
on faith, and at the same time quickens faith, and is the ground
of our bold confession
Hope is similarly
connected with purification
without wavering--without declension
"steadfast unto the end."
he--God is faithful to His promises
(Heb 6:17, 18;
11:11; 12:26, 28;
1Co 1:9; 10:13;
see also Christ's promise,
but man is too often unfaithful to his duties.
24. Here, as elsewhere, hope and love follow
faith; the Pauline triad of Christian graces.
consider--with the mind attentively fixed on "one another"
contemplating with continual consideration the characters and wants of
our brethren, so as to render mutual help and counsel. Compare
and Heb 12:15,
"(All) looking diligently lest any fail of the grace of God."
to provoke--Greek, "with a view to provoking unto
love," instead of provoking to hatred, as is too often the case.
25. assembling of ourselves together--The Greek,
"episunagoge," is only found here and
(the gathering together of the elect to Christ at His coming,
The assembling or gathering of ourselves for Christian communion in
private and public, is an earnest of our being gathered together to Him
at His appearing. Union is strength; continual assemblings together
beget and foster love, and give good opportunities for
"provoking to good works," by "exhorting one another"
IGNATIUS says, "When ye frequently, and in numbers
meet together, the powers of Satan are overthrown, and his mischief is
neutralized by your likemindedness in the faith." To neglect such
assemblings together might end in apostasy at last. He avoids the
Greek term "sunagoge," as suggesting the Jewish
synagogue meetings (compare
as the manner of some is--"manner," that is, habit, custom. This
gentle expression proves he is not here as yet speaking of
the day approaching--This, the shortest designation of the day
of the Lord's coming, occurs elsewhere only in
a confirmation of the Pauline authorship of this Epistle. The Church
being in all ages kept uncertain how soon Christ is coming,
the day is, and has been, in each age, practically always near;
whence, believers have been called on always to be watching for it as
nigh at hand. The Hebrews were now living close upon One of those great
types and foretastes of it, the destruction of Jerusalem
(Mt 24:1, 2),
"the bloody and fiery dawn of the great day; that day is the day of
days, the ending day of all days, the settling day of all days, the day
of the promotion of time into eternity, the day which, for the Church,
breaks through and breaks off the night of the present world" [DELITZSCH in ALFORD].
26. Compare on this and following verses,
&c. There the warning was that if there be not diligence in
progressing, a falling off will take place, and apostasy may ensue:
here it is, that if there be lukewarmness in Christian communion,
apostasy may ensue.
if we sin--Greek present participle: if we be found
sinning, that is, not isolated acts, but a state of sin
[ALFORD]. A violation not only of the law,
but of the whole economy of the New Testament
(Heb 10:28, 29).
wilfully--presumptuously, Greek "willingly." After
receiving "full knowledge (so the Greek, compare
of the truth," by having been "enlightened," and by having "tasted" a
certain measure even of grace of "the Holy Ghost" (the Spirit of truth,
and "the Spirit of grace,"
to fall away (as "sin" here means,
Heb 3:12, 17;
to Judaism or infidelity, is not a sin of ignorance, or error
("out of the way," the result) of infirmity, but a deliberate
sinning against the Spirit
such sinning, where a consciousness of Gospel obligations not
only was, but is present: a sinning presumptuously and preseveringly
against Christ's redemption for us, and the Spirit of grace
in us. "He only who stands high can fall low. A lively reference
in the soul to what is good is necessary in order to be thoroughly
wicked; hence, man can be more reprobate than the beasts, and the
apostate angels than apostate man" [THOLUCK].
remaineth no more sacrifice--For there is but
ONE Sacrifice that can atone for sin; they, after
having fully known that sacrifice, deliberately reject it.
27. a certain--an extraordinary and indescribable. The
indefiniteness, as of something peculiar of its kind, makes the
description the more terrible (compare Greek,
looking for--"expectation": a later sense of the Greek.
ALFORD strangely translates, as the Greek
usually means elsewhere, "reception." The transition is easy from
"giving a reception to" something or someone, to "looking for."
Contrast the "expecting" (the very same Greek as here),
which refutes ALFORD.
fiery indignation--literally, "zeal of fire." Fire is
personified: glow or ardor of fire, that is, of Him who is "a consuming
Heb 2:2, 3; 12:25.
despised--"set at naught" [ALFORD]: utterly
and heinously violated, not merely some minor detail, but the whole
law and covenant; for example, by idolatry
So here apostasy answers to such an utter violation of the old
died--Greek, "dies": the normal punishment of such
transgression, then still in force.
without mercy--literally, "mercies": removal out of the pale of
mitigation, or a respite of his doom.
under--on the evidence of.
29. sorer--Greek, "worse," namely, "punishment"
(literally, "vengeance") than any mere temporal punishment of the body.
suppose ye--an appeal to the Hebrews' reason and conscience.
thought worthy--by God at the judgment.
trodden under foot the Son of God--by "wilful" apostasy. So he
treads under foot God Himself who "glorified His Son as an high
(Heb 5:5; 6:6).
an unholy thing--literally, "common," as opposed to
"sanctified." No better than the blood of a common man, thus involving
the consequence that Christ, in claiming to be God, was guilty of
blasphemy, and so deserved to die!
wherewith he was sanctified--for Christ died even for him.
"Sanctified," in the fullest sense, belongs only to the saved elect.
But in some sense it belongs also to those who have gone a far way in
Christian experience, and yet fall away at last. The higher such a
one's past Christian experiences, the deeper his fall.
done despite unto--by repelling in fact: as "blasphemy"
is despite in words
"Of the Jews who became Christians and relapsed to Judaism, we find
from the history of Uriel Acosta, that they required a blasphemy
against Christ. 'They applied to Him epithets used against Molech the
adulterous branch,' &c." [THOLUCK].
the Spirit of grace--the Spirit that confers grace. "He who does
not accept the benefit, insults Him who confers it. He hath made thee a
son: wilt thou become a slave? He has come to take up His abode with
thee; but thou art introducing evil into thyself" [CHRYSOSTOM]. "It is the curse of evil eternally to
propagate evil: so, for him who profanes the Christ without him,
and blasphemes the Christ within him, there is subjectively no
renewal of a change of mind
and objectively no new sacrifice for sins"
30. him--God, who enters no empty threats.
Vengeance belongeth unto me--Greek, "To Me belongeth
vengeance": exactly according with Paul's quotation,
of the same text.
Lord shall judge his people--in grace, or else anger, according
as each deserves: here, "judge," so as to punish the reprobate
apostate; there, "judge," so as to interpose in behalf of, and save His
31. fearful . . . to fall into the hands--It is good
like David to fall into the hands of God, rather than man, when
one does so with filial faith in his father's love, though God
chastises him. "It is fearful" to fall into His hands as a
reprobate and presumptuous sinner doomed to His just vengeance as Judge
living God--therefore able to punish for ever
32. As previously he has warned them by the awful end of
apostates, so here he stirs them up by the remembrance of their own
former faith, patience, and self-sacrificing love. So
Re 2:3, 4.
call to remembrance--habitually: so the present tense means.
illuminated--"enlightened": come to "the knowledge of the truth"
in connection with baptism (see on
In spiritual baptism, Christ, who is "the Light," is put on. "On the
one hand, we are not to sever the sign and the grace signified where
the sacrifice truly answers its designs; on the other, the glass is not
to be mistaken for the liquor, nor the sheath for the sword" [BENGEL].
fight of--that is, consisting of afflictions.
33. The persecutions here referred to seem to have been endured
by the Hebrew Christians at their first conversion, not only in
Palestine, but also in Rome and elsewhere, the Jews in every city
inciting the populace and the Roman authorities against Christians.
gazing-stock--as in a theater (so the Greek):
often used as the place of punishment in the presence of the assembled
"Made a theatrical spectacle to the world."
ye became--of your own accord: attesting your Christian sympathy
with your suffering brethren.
companions of--sharers in affliction with.
34. ye had compassion on me in my bonds--The oldest manuscripts
and versions omit "me," and read, "Ye both sympathized with those in
bonds (answering to the last clause of
Heb 13:3, 23; 6:10),
and accepted (so the Greek is translated in
joy in tribulations, as exercising faith and other graces,
and the pledge of the coming glory,
the plundering of your (own) goods (answering to the first clause of
in yourselves--The oldest manuscripts omit "in": translate,
"knowing that ye have for (or 'to') yourselves."
enduring--not liable to spoiling.
substance--possession: peculiarly our own, if we will not
cast away our birthright.
35-37. Consequent exhortation to confidence and endurance, as
Christ is soon coming.
Cast not away--implying that they now have "confidence," and
that it will not withdraw of itself, unless they "cast it away"
which--Greek, "the which": inasmuch as being such as.
hath--present tense: it is as certain as if you had it in your
It hath in reversion.
recompense of reward--of grace not of debt: a reward of a kind
which no mercenary self-seeker would seek: holiness will be its own
reward; self-devoting unselfishness for Christ's sake will be its own
rich recompense (see on
36. patience--Greek, "waiting endurance," or "enduring
perseverance": the kindred Greek verb in the Septuagint,
is translated, "wait for it" (compare
after ye have done the will of God--"that whereas ye have done
the will of God" hitherto
ye may now show also patient, persevering endurance, and so
"receive the promise," that is, the promised reward: eternal life and
bliss commensurate with our work of faith and love
We must not only do, but also suffer
God first uses the active talents of His servants; then polishes
the other side of the stone, making the passive graces shine,
patience, meekness, &c. It may be also translated, "That ye may
do the will of God, and receive," &c. [ALFORD]:
"patience" itself is a further and a persevering doing of "God's will";
otherwise it would be profitless and no real grace
We should look, not merely for individual bliss now and at death, but
for the great and general consummation of bliss of all saints, both in
body and soul.
37, 38. Encouragement to patient endurance by consideration of
the shortness of the time till Christ shall come, and God's rejection
of him that draws back, taken from
Hab 2:3, 4.
a little while--
he that shall come--literally, "the Comer." In Habakkuk, it is
the vision that is said to be about to come. Christ,
being the grand and ultimate subject of all prophetical vision, is here
made by Paul, under inspiration, the subject of the Spirit's prophecy
by Habakkuk, in its final and exhaustive fulfilment.
38. just--The oldest manuscripts and Vulgate read,
"my just man." God is the speaker: "He who is just in My sight."
BENGEL translates, "The just shall live by my
faith": answering to the Hebrew,
literally, "the just shall live by the faith of Him," namely,
Christ, the final subject of "the vision," who "will not lie,"
that is, disappoint. Here not merely the first beginning, as in
but the continuance, of the spiritual life of the justified man
is referred to, as opposed to declension and apostasy. As the justified
man receives his first spiritual life by faith, so it is by
faith that he shall continue to live
The faith meant here is that fully developed living trust in the
Saviour, which can keep men steadfast amidst persecutions and
if any man draw back--So the Greek admits: though
it might also be translated, as ALFORD approves,
"if he (the just man) draw back." Even so, it would not disprove
the final perseverance of saints. For "the just man" in this latter
clause would mean one seemingly, and in part really, though not
savingly, "just" or justified: as in
Eze 18:24, 26.
In the Hebrew, this latter half of the verse stands first, and
is, "Behold, his soul which is lifted up, is not upright in him."
Habakkuk states the cause of drawing back: a soul lifted
up, and in self-inflated unbelief setting itself up against God.
Paul, by the Spirit, states the effect, it draws back.
Also, what in Habakkuk is, "His soul is not upright in him," is in
Paul, "My soul shall have no pleasure in him." Habakkuk states the
cause, Paul the effect: He who is not right in his own soul,
does not stand right with God; God has no pleasure in him. BENGEL translates Habakkuk, "His soul is not upright in
respect to him," namely, Christ, the subject of "the vision,"
that is, Christ has no pleasure in him (compare
Every flower in spring is not a fruit in autumn.
39. A Pauline elegant turning-off from denunciatory warnings to
charitable hopes of his readers
saving of the soul--literally, "acquisition (or
obtaining) of the soul." The kindred Greek verb is
applied to Christ's acquiring the Church as the purchase
of His blood
If we acquire or obtain our soul's salvation, it is
through Him who has obtained it for us by His bloodshedding. "The
unbelieving man loses his soul: for not being God's, neither is
he his own [compare
with Lu 9:25]:
faith saves the soul by linking it to God"
[DELITZSCH in ALFORD].