Hebrews 10

CHAPTER X.

The insufficiency of the legal sacrifices to take away sin,

1-4.

The purpose and will of God, as declared by the Psalmist,

relative to the salvation of the world by the incarnation of

Christ; and our sanctification through that will, 5-10.

Comparison between the priesthood of Christ and that of the

Jews, 11-14.

The new covenant which God promised to make, and the blessings

of it, 15-17.

The access which genuine believers have to the holiest by the

blood of Jesus, 18-20.

Having a High Priest over the Church of God, we should have

faith, walk uprightly, hold fast our profession, exhort and help

each other, and maintain Christian communion, 21-25.

The danger and awful consequences of final apostasy, 26-31.

In order to our perseverance, we should often reflect on past

mercies, and the support afforded us in temptations and

afflictions; and not cast away our confidence, for we shall

receive the promise if we patiently fulfil the will of God,

32-37.

The just by faith shall live; but the soul that draws back shall

die, 38.

The apostle's confidence in the believing Hebrews, 39.

NOTES ON CHAP. X.

Verse 1. The law, having a shadow of good things to come] A

shadow, σκια, signifies, 1. Literally, the shade cast from a

body of any kind, interposed between the place on which the shadow

is projected, and the sun or light; the rays of the light not

shining on that place, because intercepted by the opacity of the

body, through which they cannot pass. 2. It signifies,

technically, a sketch, rude plan, or imperfect draught of a

building, landscape, man, beast, &c. 3. It signifies,

metaphorically, any faint adumbration, symbolical expression,

imperfect or obscure image of a thing; and is opposed to σωμα,

body, or the thing intended to be thereby defined. 4. It is used

catachrestically among the Greek writers, as umbra is among the

Latins, to signify any thing vain, empty, light, not solid; thus

Philostratus, Vit. Soph., lib. i. cap. 20: οτισκιακαιονειρατα

αιηδοναιπασαι. All pleasures are but SHADOWS and dreams. And

Cicero, in Pison., cap. 24: Omnes umbras falsae gloriae consectari.

"All pursue the SHADOWS of FALSE GLORY." And again, De Offic.,

lib. iii. cap. 17: Nos veri juris germanaeque justitiae solidam et

expressam effigiem nullam tenemus; umbra et itnaginibus utimur.

"We have no solid and express effigy of true law and genuine

justice, but we employ shadows and images to represent them."

And not the very image] εικων, image, signifies, 1. A simple

representation, from εικω, I am like. 2. The form or

particular fashion of a thing. 3. The model according to which

any thing is formed. 4. The perfect image of a thing as opposed

to a faint representation. 5. Metaphorically, a similitude,

agreement, or conformity.

The law, with all its ceremonies and sacrifices, was only a

shadow of spiritual and eternal good. The Gospel is the image or

thing itself, as including every spiritual and eternal good.

We may note three things here: 1. The shadow or general outline,

limiting the size and proportions of the thing to be represented.

2. The image or likeness completed from this shadow or general

outline, whether represented on paper, canvass, or in statuary, 3.

The person or thing thus represented in its actual, natural state

of existence; or what is called here the very image of the things,

αυτηντηνεικονατωνπραγματων. Such is the Gospel, when compared

with the law; such is Christ, when compared with Aaron; such is

his sacrifice, when compared with the Levitical offerings; such is

the Gospel remission of sins and purification, when compared with

those afforded by the law; such is the Holy Ghost, ministered by

the Gospel, when compared with its types and shadows in the

Levitical service; such the heavenly rest, when compared with the

earthly Canaan. Well, therefore, might the apostle say, The law

was only the shadow of good things to come.

Can never-make the comers thereunto perfect.] Cannot remove

guilt from the conscience, or impurity from the heart. I leave

preachers to improve these points.

Verse 2. Would they not have ceased to be offered?] Had they

made an effectual reconciliation for the sins of the world, and

contained in their once offering a plenitude of permanent merit,

they would have ceased to be offered, at least in reference to any

individual who had once offered them; because, in such a case, his

conscience would be satisfied that its guilt had been taken away.

But no Jew pretended to believe that even the annual atonement

cancelled his sin before God; yet he continued to make his

offerings, the law of God having so enjoined, because these

sacrifices pointed out that which was to come. They were offered,

therefore, not in consideration of their own efficacy, but as

referring to Christ; See on "Heb 9:9".

Verse 4. For it is not possible] Common sense must have taught

them that shedding the blood of bulls and goats could never

satisfy Divine justice, nor take away guilt from the conscience;

and God intended that they should understand the matter so: and

this the following quotation from the Psalmist sufficiently

proves.

Verse 5. When he (the Messiah) cometh into the world] Was

about to be incarnated, He saith to God the Father, Sacrifice and

offering thou wouldest not-it was never thy will and design that

the sacrifices under thy own law should be considered as making

atonement for sin, they were only designed to point out my

incarnation and consequent sacrificial death, and therefore a body

hast thou prepared me, by a miraculous conception in the womb of a

virgin, according to thy word, The seed of the woman shall bruise

the head of the serpent.

A body hast thou prepared me] The quotation in this and the two

following verses is taken from Psalm xl., 6th, 7th, and 8th

verses, as they stand now in the Septuagint, with scarcely any

variety of reading; but, although the general meaning is the same,

they are widely different in verbal expression in the Hebrew.

David's words are, oznayim caritha li, which we

translate, My ears hast thou opened; but they might be more

properly rendered, My ears hast thou bored, that is, thou hast

made me thy servant for ever, to dwell in thine own house; for the

allusion is evidently to the custom mentioned, Ex 21:2, &c.: "If

thou buy a Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve, and in the

seventh he shall go out free; but if the servant shall positively

say, I love my master, &c., I will not go out free, then his

master shall bring him to the door post, and shall bore his ear

through with an awl, and he shall serve him for ever."

But how is it possible that the Septuagint and the apostle

should take a meaning so totally different from the sense of the

Hebrew? Dr. Kennicott has a very ingenious conjecture here: he

supposes that the Septuagint and apostle express the meaning of

the words as they stood in the copy from which the Greek

translation was made; and that the present Hebrew text is

corrupted in the word oznayim, ears, which has been written

through carelessness for az gevah, THEN A BODY. The first

syllable , THEN, is the same in both; and the latter , which

joined to , makes oznayim, might have been easily

mistaken for gevah, BODY; nun, being very like

gimel; yod, like vau; and he, like final

mem; especially if the line on which the letters were written in

the MS. happened to be blacker than ordinary, which has often been

a cause of mistake, it might have been easily taken for the under

stroke of the mem, and thus give rise to a corrupt reading: add to

this the root carah, signifies as well to prepare as to open,

bore, &c. On this supposition the ancient copy, translated by the

Septuagint, and followed by the apostle, must have read the text

thus: az gevah caritha li, σωμαδεκατηρτισωμοι,

then a body thou hast prepared me: thus the Hebrew text, the

version of the Septuagint, and the apostle, will agree in what is

known to be an indisputable fact in Christianity, namely, that

Christ was incarnated for the sin of the world.

The AEthiopic has nearly the same reading; the Arabic has both,

A body hast thou prepared me, and mine ears thou hast opened. But

the Syriac, the Chaldee, and the Vulgate, agree with the present

Hebrew text; and none of the MSS. collated by Kennicott and De

Rossi have any various reading on the disputed words.

It is remarkable that all the offerings and sacrifices which

were considered to be of an atoning or cleansing nature, offered

under the law, are here enumerated by the psalmist and the

apostle, to show that none of them nor all of them could take away

sin, and that the grand sacrifice of Christ was that alone which

could do it.

Four kinds are here specified, both by the psalmist and the

apostle, viz.: SACRIFICE, zebach, θυσια. OFFERING,

minchah, προσφορα. BURNT-OFFERING, olah, ολοκαυτωμα.

SIN-OFFERING, chataah, περιαμαρτιας. Of all these we may

say, with the apostle, it was impossible that the blood of bulls

and goats, &c., should take away sin.

Verse 6. Thou hast had no pleasure.] Thou couldst never be

pleased with the victims under the law; thou couldst never

consider them as atonements for sin; as they could never satisfy

thy justice, nor make thy law honourable.

Verse 7. In the volume of the book] bimgillath

sepher, "in the roll of the book." Anciently, books were written

on skins and rolled up. Among the Romans these were called

volumina, from volvo, I roll; and the Pentateuch, in the Jewish

synagogues, is still written in this way. There are two wooden

rollers; on one they roll on, on the other they roll off, as they

proceed in reading. The book mentioned here must be the

Pentateuch, or five books of Moses; for in David's time no other

part of Divine revelation had been committed to writing. This

whole book speaks about Christ, and his accomplishing the will of

God; not only in, The seed of the woman shall bruise the head of

the serpent, and, In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth

be blessed, but in all the sacrifices and sacrificial rites

mentioned in the law.

To do thy will] God willed not the sacrifices under the law,

but he willed that a human victim of infinite merit should be

offered for the redemption of mankind. That there might be such a

victim, a body was prepared for the eternal Logos; and in that

body he came to do the will of God, that is, to suffer and die for

the sins of the world.

Verse 9. He taketh away the first] The offerings, sacrifices,

burnt-offerings, and sacrifices for sin, which were prescribed by

the law.

That he may establish the second.] The offering of the body of

Jesus once for all. It will make little odds in the meaning if we

say, he taketh away the first covenant, that he may establish the

second covenant; he takes away the first dispensation, that he may

establish the second; he takes away the law, that he may establish

the Gospel. In all these cases the sense is nearly the same: I

prefer the first.

Verse 10. By the which will we are sanctified] Closing in with

this so solemnly declared WILL of God, that there is no name given

under heaven among men, by which we can be saved, but Jesus the

Christ, we believe in him, find redemption in his blood, and are

sanctified unto God through the sacrificial offering of his body.

1. Hence we see that the sovereign WILL of God is, that Jesus

should be incarnated; that he should suffer and die, or, in the

apostle's words, taste death for every man; that all should

believe on him, and be saved from their sins: for this is the WILL

of God, our sanctification.

2. And as the apostle grounds this on the words of the psalm, we

see that it is the WILL of God that that system shall end; for as

the essence of it is contained in its sacrifices, and God says he

will not have these, and has prepared the Messiah to do his will,

i.e. to die for men, hence it necessarily follows, from the

psalmist himself, that the introduction of the Messiah into the

world is the abolition of the law, and that his sacrifice is that

which shall last for ever.

Verse 11. Every priest standeth] The office of the Jewish

priest is here compared with the office of our High Priest. The

Jewish priest stands daily at the altar, like a servant

ministering, repeating the same sacrifices; our High Priest

offered himself once for all, and sat down at the right hand of

God, as the only-begotten Son and Heir of all things, Heb 10:12.

This continual offering argued the imperfection of the sacrifices.

Our Lord's once offering, proves his was complete.

Verse 13. Till his enemies be made his footstool.] Till all

that oppose his high priesthood and sacrificial offering shall be

defeated, routed, and confounded; and acknowledge, in their

punishment, the supremacy of his power as universal and eternal

King, who refused to receive him as their atoning and sanctifying

Priest. There is also an oblique reference here to the

destruction of the Jews, which was then at hand; for Christ was

about to take away the second with an overwhelming flood of

desolations.

Verse 14. For by one offering] His death upon the cross.

He hath perfected for ever.] He has procured remission of sins

and holiness; fur it is well observed here, and in several parts

of this epistle, that τελειοω, to make perfect, is the same as

αφεσιναμαρτιωνποιεω, to procure remission of sins.

Them that are sanctified.] τουςαγιαζομενους. Them that have

received the sprinkling of the blood of this offering. These,

therefore, receiving redemption through that blood, have no need

of any other offering; as this was a complete atonement,

purification, and title to eternal glory.

Verse 15. The Holy Ghost-is a witness to us] The words are

quoted from Jer 31:33, 34, and here we are assured that Jeremiah

spoke by the inspiration of the Spirit of God.

Had said before] See Heb 8:10, 12, and the notes there.

Verse 18. Now where remission of these is] In any case, where

sin is once pardoned, there is no farther need of a sin-offering;

but every believer on Christ has his sin blotted out, and

therefore needs no other offering for that sin.

"If," says Dr. Macknight, "after remission is granted to the

sinner, there is no need of any more sacrifice for sin; and if

Christ, by offering himself once, has perfected for ever the

sanctified, Heb 10:14,

the sacrifice of the mass, as it is called, about which the Romish

clergy employ themselves so incessantly, and to which the papists

trust for the pardon of their sins, has no foundation in

Scripture. Nay, it is an evident impiety, as it proceeds upon the

supposition that the offering of the body of Christ once is not

sufficient to procure the pardon of sin, but must be frequently

repeated. If they reply that their mass is only the

representation and commemoration of the sacrifice of Christ, they

give up the cause, and renounce an article of their faith,

established by the council of Trent, which, in session xxii. can.

1, 3, declared the sacrifice of the mass to be a true and

propitiatory sacrifice for sin. I say, give up the cause; for the

representation and commemoration of a sacrifice is not a

sacrifice. Farther, it cannot be affirmed that the body of Christ

is offered in the mass, unless it can be said that, as often as it

is offered, Christ has suffered death; for the apostle says

expressly, Heb 9:25, 26, that if Christ offered himself often,

he must often have suffered since the foundation of the world."

Let him disprove this who can.

Verse 19. Having therefore, brethren, boldness] The apostle,

having now finished the doctrinal part of his epistle, and fully

shown the superiority of Christ to all men and angels, and the

superiority of his priesthood to that of Aaron and his successors,

the absolute inefficacy of the Jewish sacrifices to make atonement

for sin, and the absolute efficacy of that of Christ to make

reconciliation of man to God, proceeds now to show what influence

these doctrines should have on the hearts and lives of those who

believe in his merits and death.

Boldness to enter] παρρησιανειςτηνεισοδον. Liberty, full

access to the entrance of the holy place, τωναγιων. This is an

allusion to the case of the high priest going into the holy of

holies. He went with fear and trembling, because, if he had

neglected the smallest item prescribed by the law, he could expect

nothing but death. Genuine believers can come even to the throne

of God with confidence, as they carry into the Divine presence the

infinitely meritorious blood of the great atonement; and, being

justified through that blood, they have a right to all the

blessings of the eternal kingdom.

Verse 20. By a new and living way] It is a new way; no human

being had ever before entered into the heaven of heavens; Jesus in

human nature was the first, and thus he has opened the way to

heaven to mankind, his own resurrection and ascension to glory

being the proof and pledge of ours.

The way is called οδονπροσφατονκαιζωσαν, new or fresh, and

living. This is evidently an allusion to the blood of the victim

newly shed, uncoagulated, and consequently proper to be used for

sprinkling. The blood of the Jewish victims was fit for

sacrificial purposes only so long as it was warm and fluid, and

might be considered as yet possessing its vitality; but when it

grew cold, it coagulated, lost its vitality, and was no longer

proper to be used sacrificially. Christ is here, in the allusion,

represented as newly slain, and yet living; the blood ever

considered as flowing and giving life to the world. The way by

the old covenant neither gave life, nor removed the liability to

death. The way to peace and reconciliation, under the old

covenant, was through the dead bodies of the animals slain; but

Christ is living, and ever liveth, to make intercession for us;

therefore he is a new and living way.

In the Choephorae of AEschylus, ver. 801, there is an

expression like this of the apostle:-

αγετετωνπαλαιπεπραγμενων

λυσασθαιμαπροσφατοιςδικαις.

Agite, olim venditorum

Solvite sanguinem recenti vindicta.

This way, says Dr. Owen, is new, 1. Because it was but newly

made and prepared. 2. Because it belongs unto the new covenant.

3. Because it admits of no decays, but is always new, as to its

efficacy and use, as in the day of its first preparation. 4. The

way of the tabernacle waxed old, and so was prepared for a

removal; but the Gospel way of salvation shall never be altered,

nor changed, nor decay; it is always new, and remains for ever.

It is also called ζωσαν, living, 1. In opposition to the way

into the holiest under the tabernacle, which was by death; nothing

could be done in it without the blood of a victim. 2. It was the

cause of death to any who might use it, except the high priest

himself; and he could have access to it only one day in the year.

3. It is called living, because it has a spiritual vital efficacy

in our access to God. 4. It is living as to its effects; it leads

to life, and infallibly brings those who walk in it unto life

eternal.

Through the veil] As the high priest lifted up or drew aside

the veil that separated the holy from the most holy place, in

order that he might have access to the Divine Majesty; and as the

veil of the temple was rent from the top to the bottom at the

crucifixion of Christ, to show that the way to the holiest was

then laid open; so we must approach the throne through the

mediation of Christ, and through his sacrificial death. His

pierced side is the way to the holiest. Here the veil-his

humanity, is rent, and the kingdom of heaven opened to all

believers.

Verse 21. A high priest over the house of God] The house or

family of God is the Christian Church, or all true believers in

the Lord Jesus. Over this Church, house, or family, Christ is the

High Priest-in their behalf he offers his own blood, and their

prayers and praises; and as the high priest had the ordering of

all things that appertained to the house and worship of God, so

has Christ in the government of his Church. This government he

never gave into other hands. As none can govern and preserve the

world but God, so none can govern and save the Church but the Lord

Jesus: He is over the house; He is its President; he instructs,

protects, guides, feeds, defends, and saves the flock. Those who

have such a President may well have confidence; for with him is

the fountain of life, and he has all power in the heavens and in

the earth.

Verse 22. Let us draw near] Let us come with the blood of our

sacrifice to the throne of God: the expression is sacrificial.

With a true heart] Deeply convinced of our need of help, and

truly in earnest to obtain it.

In full assurance of faith] Being fully persuaded that God will

accept us for the sake of his Son, and that the sacrificial death

of Christ gives us full authority to expect every blessing we

need.

Having our hearts sprinkled] Not our bodies, as was the case

among the Hebrews, when they had contracted any pollution, for

they were to be sprinkled with the water of separation, see

Nu 19:2-10;

but our hearts, sprinkled by the cleansing efficacy of the blood

of Christ, without which we cannot draw nigh to God.

From an evil conscience] Having that deep sense of guilt which

our conscience felt taken all away, and the peace and love of God

shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given unto us.

Our bodies washed with pure water.] The high priest, before he

entered into the inner tabernacle, or put on his holy garments,

was to wash his flesh in water, Le 16:4, and the Levites were to

be cleansed the same way, Nu 8:7. The apostle probably alludes

to this in what he says here, though it appears that he refers

principally to baptisms, the washing by which was an emblem of the

purification of the soul by the grace and Spirit of Christ; but it

is most likely that it is to the Jewish baptisms, and not the

Christian, that the apostle alludes.

Verse 23. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith] The

word ομολογια, from ομου, together, and λογος, a word,

implies that general consent that was among Christians on all the

important articles of their faith and practice; particularly their

acknowledgment of the truth of the Gospel, and of Jesus Christ, as

the only victim for sin, and the only Saviour from it. If the

word washed above refer to Christian baptism in the case of

adults, then the profession is that which the baptized then made

of their faith in the Gospel; and of their determination to live

and die in that faith.

The various readings on this clause are many in the MSS., &c.

τηςελπιδοςτηνομολογιαν, the confession of our HOPE; D*, two of

the Itala, Vulgate, Erpen's Arabic, and the AEthiopic.

ομολογιαντηςπιστεως, the confession of FAITH; one of the

Barberini MSS. and two others. This is the reading which our

translators have followed; but it is of very little authority.

τηνεπαγγελιαντηςελπιδος, the promise of HOPE; St.

Chrysostom. τηνελπιδατηςομολογιας, the HOPE of our

PROFESSION; one of Petavius's MSS. But among all these, the

confession or profession of HOPE is undoubtedly the genuine

reading. Now, among the primitive Christians, the hope which they

professed was the resurrection of the body, and everlasting life;

every thing among these Christians was done and believed in

reference to a future state; and for the joy that this set before

them, they, like their Master, endured every cross, and despised

all shame: they expected to be with God, through Christ; this hope

they professed to have; and they confessed boldly and publicly the

faith on which this hope was built. The apostle exhorts them to

hold fast this confession without wavering-never to doubt the

declarations made to them by their Redeemer, but having the full

assurance of faith that their hearts were sprinkled from an evil

conscience, that they had found redemption in the blood of the

lamb, they might expect to be glorified with their living Head in

the kingdom of their Father.

He is faithful that promised] The eternal life, which is the

object of your hope, is promised to you by him who cannot lie; as

he then is faithful who has given you this promise, hold fast the

profession of your hope.

Verse 24. And let us consider one another] κατανοωμεν. Let us

diligently and attentively consider each other's trials,

difficulties, and weaknesses; feel for each other, and excite each

other to an increase of love to God and man; and, as the proof of

it, to be fruitful in good works. The words ειςπαροξυσμον, to

the provocation, are often taken in a good sense, and signify

excitement, stirring up, to do any thing laudable, useful,

honourable, or necessary. Xenophon, Cyrop., lib. vi., page 108,

speaking of the conduct of Cyrus towards his officers, says: και

τουτουςεπαινωντεπαρωξυνεκαιχαριζομενοςαυτοιςοτιδυναιτο.

"He by praises and gifts excited them as much as possible."

See the note on "Ac 15:39", where the subject is farther considered.

Verse 25. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves]

επισυναγωγηνεαυτων. Whether this means public or private

worship is hard to say; but as the word is but once more used in

the New Testament, (2Th 2:1,)

and there means the gathering together of the redeemed of the Lord

at the day of judgment, it is as likely that it means here private

religious meetings, for the purpose of mutual exhortation: and

this sense appears the more natural here, because it is evident

that the Church was now in a state of persecution, and therefore

their meetings were most probably held in private. For fear of

persecution, it seems as if some had deserted these meetings,

καθωςεθοςτισιν, as the custom of certain persons is. They had

given up these strengthening and instructive means, and the others

were in danger of following their example.

The day approaching.] θηνημεραν. That day-the time in which

God would come and pour out his judgments on the Jewish nation.

We may also apply it to the day of death and the day of judgment.

Both of these are approaching to every human being. He who wishes

to be found ready will carefully use every means of grace, and

particularly the communion of saints, if there be even but two or

three in the place where he lives, who statedly meet together in

the name of Christ. Those who relinquish Christian communion are

in a backsliding state; those who backslide are in danger of

apostasy. To prevent this latter, the apostle speaks the awful

words following. See at the end of this chapter. See "Heb 10:39"

Verse 26. For if we sin wilfully] If we deliberately, for fear

of persecution or from any other motive, renounce the profession

of the Gospel and the Author of that Gospel, after having received

the knowledge of the truth so as to be convinced that Jesus is the

promised Messiah, and that he had sprinkled our hearts from an

evil conscience; for such there remaineth no sacrifice for sins;

for as the Jewish sacrifices are abolished, as appears by the

declaration of God himself in the fortieth Psalm, and Jesus being

now the only sacrifice which God will accept, those who reject him

have none other; therefore their case must be utterly without

remedy. This is the meaning of the apostle, and the case is that

of a deliberate apostate-one who has utterly rejected Jesus Christ

and his atonement, and renounced the whole Gospel system. It has

nothing to do with backsliders in our common use of that term. A

man may be overtaken in a fault, or he may deliberately go into

sin, and yet neither renounce the Gospel, nor deny the Lord that

bought him. His case is dreary and dangerous, but it is not

hopeless; no case is hopeless but that of the deliberate apostate,

who rejects the whole Gospel system, after having been saved by

grace, or convinced of the truth of the Gospel. To him there

remaineth no more sacrifice for sin; for there was but the ONE,

Jesus, and this he has utterly rejected.

Verse 27. A certain fearful looking for of judgment] From this

it is evident that God will pardon no man without a sacrifice for

sin; for otherwise, as Dr. Macknight argues, it would not follow,

from there remaining to apostates no more sacrifice for sin, that

there must remain to them a dreadful expectation of judgment.

And fiery indignation] καιπυροςζηλος. A zeal, or fervour

of fire; something similar to the fire that came down from heaven

and destroyed Korah and his company; Nu 16:35.

Probably the apostle here refers to the case of the unbelieving

Jews in general, as in chap. 6: to the dreadful judgment that was

coming upon them, and the burning up their temple and city with

fire. These people had, by the preaching of Christ and his

apostles, received the knowledge of the truth. It was impossible

that they could have witnessed his miracles and heard his doctrine

without being convinced that he was the Messiah, and that their

own system was at an end; but they rejected this only sacrifice at

a time when God abolished their own: to that nation, therefore,

there remained no other sacrifice for sin; therefore the dreadful

judgment came, the fiery indignation was poured out, and they, as

adversaries, were devoured by it.

Verse 28. He that despised Moses' law] αθετησας. He that

rejected it, threw it aside, and denied its Divine authority by

presumptuous sinning, died without mercy-without any extenuation

or mitigation of punishment; Nu 15:30.

Under two or three witnesses] That is, when convicted by the

testimony of two or three respectable witnesses. See De 17:6.

Verse 29. Of how much sorer punishment] Such offences were

trifling in comparison of this, and in justice the punishment

should be proportioned to the offence.

Trodden under foot the Son of God] Treated him with the utmost

contempt and blasphemy.

The blood of the covenant-an unholy thing] The blood of the

covenant means here the sacrificial death of Christ, by which the

new covenant between God and man was ratified, sealed, and

confirmed. And counting this unholy, or common, κοινον, intimates

that they expected nothing from it in a sacrificial or atoning

way. How near to those persons, and how near to their

destruction, do they come in the present day who reject the

atoning blood, and say, "that they expect no more benefit from the

blood of Christ than they do from that of a cow or a sheep!" Is

not this precisely the crime of which the apostle speaks here, and

to which he tells us God would show no mercy?

Despite unto the Spirit of grace?] Hath insulted the Spirit of

grace. The apostle means the Holy Spirit, whose gifts were

bestowed in the first age on believers for the confirmation of the

Gospel. See Heb 6:4-6. Wherefore, if one apostatized in the

first age, after having been witness to these miraculous gifts,

much more after having possessed them himself, he must, like the

scribes and Pharisees, have ascribed them to evil spirits; than

which a greater indignity could not be done to the Spirit of God.

Macknight. This is properly the sin against the Holy Ghost, which

has no forgiveness.

Verse 30. Vengeance belongeth unto me] This is the saying of

God, De 32:35, in reference to the idolatrous Gentiles, who were

the enemies of his people; and is here with propriety applied to

the above apostates, who, being enemies to God's ordinances, and

Christ's ministry and merits, must also be enemies to Christ's

people; and labour for the destruction of them, and the cause in

which they are engaged.

The Lord shall judge his people.] That is, he shall execute

judgment for them; for this is evidently the sense in which the

word is used in the place from which the apostle quotes, De 32:36:

For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his

servants, when he seeth that their power is gone. So God will

avenge and vindicate the cause of Christianity by destroying its

enemies, as he did in the case of the Jewish people, whom he

destroyed from being a nation, and made them a proverb of reproach

and monuments of his wrathful indignation to the present day.

Verse 31. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the

living God.] To fall into the hands of God is to fall under his

displeasure; and he who lives for ever can punish for ever. How

dreadful to have the displeasure of an eternal, almighty Being to

rest on the soul for ever! Apostates, and all the persecutors and

enemies of God's cause and people, may expect the heaviest

judgments of an incensed Deity: and these, not for a time, but

through eternity.

Verse 32. But call to remembrance] It appears from this, and

indeed from some parts of the Gospel history, that the first

believers in Judea were greatly persecuted; our Lord's

crucifixion, Stephen's martyrdom, the persecution that arose after

the death of Stephen, Ac 8:1, Herod's persecution, Ac 12:1, in

which James was killed, and the various persecutions of St. Paul,

sufficiently show that this disposition was predominant among that

bad people.

A great fight of afflictions] πολληναθλησινπαθηματων. A

great combat or contention of sufferings. Here we have an

allusion to the combats at the Grecian games, or to exhibitions of

gladiators at the public spectacles; and an intimation how

honourable it was to contend for the faith once delivered to the

saints, and to overcome through the blood of the Lamb, and their

own testimony.

Verse 33. Ye were made a gazing-stock] θεατριζομενοι. Ye were

exhibited as wild beasts and other shows at the theatres. See the

note on 1Co 4:9, where all this is illustrated.

Companions of them that were so used.] It appears, from

1Th 2:14,15, that the Churches of God in Judea were greatly

persecuted, and that they believed with courage and constancy in

their persecutions. When any victim of persecuting rage was

marked out, the rest were prompt to take his part, and acknowledge

themselves believers in the same doctrine for which he suffered.

This was a noble spirit; many would have slunk into a corner, and

put off the marks of Christ, that they might not be exposed to

affliction on this account.

Verse 34. Ye had compassion of me in my bonds] συνεπαθησατε.

Ye suffered with me, ye sympathized with me, when bound for the

testimony of Jesus. This probably refers to the sympathy they

showed towards him, and the help they afforded him, during his

long imprisonment in Caesarea and Jerusalem. But instead of τοις

δεσμοιςμου, my bonds, τοιςδεσμιοις, the prisoners, is the

reading of AD, and several others, both the Syriac, the Arabic of

Erpen, the Coptic, Armenian, Vulgate, some of the Itala, and

several of the Greek fathers. This reading appears to be so well

supported, that Griesbach has admitted it into the text. If it be

genuine, it shows that there had been, and perhaps were then,

several bound for the testimony of Jesus, and that the Church in

Judea had shown its attachment to Christ by openly acknowledging

these prisoners, and ministering to them.

Took joyfully the spoiling of your goods] They were deprived of

their inheritances, turned out of their houses, and plundered of

their goods; they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins,

being destitute, afflicted, tormented. To suffer such persecution

patiently was great; to endure it without a murmur was greater; to

rejoice in it was greatest of all. But how could they do all

this? The next clause informs us.

Knowing in yourselves] They had the fullest evidence that they

were the children of God, the Spirit itself bearing this witness

to their spirits; and if children than heirs, heirs of God and

joint heirs with Christ. They knew that heaven was their portion,

and that to it they had a sure right and indefeasible title by

Christ Jesus. This accounts, and this alone can account, for

their taking joyfully the spoiling of their goods: they had Christ

in their hearts; they knew that they were his children, and that

they had a kingdom, but that kingdom was not of this world. They

had the support they needed, and they had it in the time in which

they needed it most.

Verse 35. Cast not away therefore your confidence] την

παρρησιανυμων. Your liberty of access to God; your title and

right to approach his throne; your birthright as his sons and

daughters; and the clear evidence you have of his favour, which,

if you be not steady and faithful, you must lose. Do not throw it

away, μηαποβαλητε. neither men nor devils can take it from you,

and God will never deprive you of it if you continue faithful.

There is a reference here to cowardly soldiers, who throw away

their shields, and run away from the battle. This is your shield,

your faith in Christ, which gives you the knowledge of salvation;

keep it, and it will keep you.

The Lacedemonian women, when they presented the shields to their

sons going to battle, were accustomed to say: ητανηεπιτας.

"Either bring this back, or be brought back upon it;" alluding to

the custom of bringing back a slain soldier on his own shield, a

proof that he had preserved it to the last, and had been faithful

to his country. They were accustomed also to excite their courage

by delivering to them their fathers' shields with the following

short address. ταυρηνοπατηρσοιαειεσωζε. καισυουνταυταν

σωζεημηεσο. "This shield thy father always preserved; do thou

preserve it also, or perish;" Lacaenarum Apophthegmata, PLUT.

OPERA, a Wittenbach, vol. i. p. 682. Thus spake the Lacedemonian

mothers to their sons; and what say the oracles of God to us? μη

αποβαλητετηνπαρρησιανυμων. Cast not away your confession of

faith. This is your shield; keep it, and it will ever be your

sure defence; for by it you will quench every fiery dart of the

wicked one. The Church of Christ speaks this to all her sons, and

especially to those employed in the work of the ministry. Of this

shield, of this glorious system of salvation by Jesus Christ,

illustrated and defended in this work, I say to each of my

children: ταυτηνοπατηρσοιαειεσωζε. καισυουνταυτανσωζεη

μηεσο. This faith, thy father, by the grace of God, hath always

kept; keep thou it also, or thou must expect to perish! May this

be received both as a warning and encouragement!

Great recompense of reward.] No less than God's continual

approbation; the peace that passeth all understanding ruling the

heart here; and the glories of heaven as an eternal portion.

Conscientiously keep the shield, and all these shall be thine.

This will be thy reward; but remember that it is the mercy of God

that gives it.

Verse 36. Ye have need of patience] Having so great a fight of

sufferings to pass through, and they of so long continuance. God

furnishes the grace; you must exercise it. The grace or principle

of patience comes from God; the use and exercise of that grace is

of yourselves. Here ye must be workers together with God.

Patience and perseverance are nearly the same.

Have done the will of God] By keeping the faith, and patiently

suffering for it.

Verse 37. For yet a little while] επιγαρμικρονοσον. For

yet a very little time. In a very short space of time the Messiah

will come, and execute judgment upon your rebellious country.

This is determined, because they have filled up the measure of

their iniquity, and their destruction slumbereth not. The apostle

seems to refer to Hab 2:3, 4, and accommodates the words to his

own purpose.

Verse 38. Now the just shall live by faith] οδεδικαιοςεκ

πιστεωςζησεται. But the just by faith, i.e. he who is justified

by faith, shall live-shall be preserved when this overflowing

scourge shall come. See this meaning of the phrase vindicated,

Ro 1:17. And it is evident, both from this text, and Ga 3:11,

that it is in this sense that the apostle uses it.

But if any man draw back] καιεανυποστειληται. But if he

draw back; he, the man who is justified by faith; for it is of

him, and none other, that the text speaks. The insertion of the

words any man, if done to serve the purpose of a particular creed,

is a wicked perversion of the words of God. They were evidently

intended to turn away the relative from the antecedent, in order

to save the doctrine of final and unconditional perseverance;

which doctrine this text destroys.

My soul shall have no pleasure in him.] My very heart shall be

opposed to him who makes shipwreck of faith and a good conscience.

The word υποστελλειν signifies, not only to draw back, but to

slink away and hide through fear. In this sense it is used by the

very best Greek writers, as well as by Josephus and Philo. As

dastards and cowards are hated by all men, so those that slink

away from Christ and his cause, for fear of persecution or secular

loss, God must despise; in them he cannot delight; and his Spirit,

grieved with their conduct, must desert their hearts, and lead

them to darkness and hardness.

Verse 39. But we are not of them who draw back] ουκεσμεν

υποστοληςαλλαπιστεως. "We are not the cowards, but the

courageous." I have no doubt of this being the meaning of the

apostle, and the form of speech requires such a translation; it

occurs more than once in the New Testament. So, Ga 3:7: οιεκ

πιστεως, they who are of the faith, rather the faithful, the

believers; Ro 3:26:

οεκπιστεως, the believer; Ro 2:8:

οιεξεπιθειας, the contentious; in all which places the learned

reader will find that the form of speech is the same. We are not

cowards who slink away, and notwithstanding meet destruction; but

we are faithful, and have our souls saved alive. The words

περιποιησιςψυχης signify the preservation of the life.

See the note, "Eph 1:14". He intimates that, notwithstanding the

persecution was hot, yet they should escape with their lives.

1. IT is very remarkable, and I have more than once called the

reader's attention to it, that not one Christian life was lost in

the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. Every Jew perished, or

was taken captive; all those who had apostatized, and slunk away

from Christianity, perished with them: all the genuine Christians

escaped with their lives. This very important information, which

casts light on many passages in the New Testament, and manifests

the grace and providence of God in a very conspicuous way, is

given both by Eusebius and Epiphanius. I shall adduce their

words: "When the whole congregation of the Church in Jerusalem,

according to an oracle given by revelation to the approved persons

among them before the war, κατατιναχρησμοντοιςαυτοθιδοκιμοις

διαποκαλυψεωςδοθενταπροτουπολεμουμεταναστηναιτηςπολεως

καιτινατηςπεραιαςπολινοικεινκεκελευσμενουπελλαναυτην

ονομαζουσιν, were commanded to depart from the city, and inhabit a

certain city which they call Pella, beyond Jordan, to which, when

all those who believed in Christ had removed from Jerusalem, and

when the saints had totally abandoned the royal city which is the

metropolis of the Jews; then the Divine vengeance seized them who

had dealt so wickedly with Christ and his apostles, and utterly

destroyed that wicked and abominable generation." EUSEB. Hist.

Eccles, l. iii. c. v. vol. i. p. 93. Edit. a Reading.

St. Epiphanius, in Haeres. Nazaren, c. 7, says: "The Christians

who dwelt in Jerusalem, being forewarned by Christ of the

approaching siege, removed to Pella."

The same, in his book De Ponderibus et Mensuris, says: "The

disciples of Christ being warned by an angel, removed to Pella;

and afterwards, when Adrian rebuilt Jerusalem, and called it after

his own name, AElia Colonia, they returned thither." As those

places in Epiphanius are of considerable importance, I shall

subjoin the original: εκειθενγαρηαρχηγεγονεμετατηναποτων

ιεροσολυμωνμεταστασινπαντωντωνμαθητωντωνενπελληωκηκοτων

χριστουφησαντοςκαταλειψαιταιεροσολυμακαιαναχωρησαιεπειδη

ημελλεπασχεινπολιορκιαν. EPIPH. adver. Haeres., l. i. c. 7,

vol. i. p. 123. Edit. Par. 1622. The other place is as follows:

ηνικαγαρεμελλενηπολιςαλισκεσθαιυποτωνρωμαιων

προεχρηματισθησανυποαγγελουπαντεςοιμαθηταιμεταστηναιαποτης

πολεωςμελλουσηςαρδηναπολλυσθαιοιτινεςκαιμετανασται

γενομενοιωκησανενπελληπεραντουιορδανουητιςεκδεκαπολεως

λεγεταιειναι. Ibid. De Pon. et Mens., vol. ii. p. 171.

These are remarkable testimonies, and should be carefully

preserved. Pella, it appears, was a city of Coelesyria, beyond

Jordan, in the district of Decapolis. Thus it is evident that

these Christians held fast their faith, preserved their shields,

and continued to believe to the saving of their lives as well as

to the saving of their souls. As the apostle gives several hints

of the approaching destruction of Jerusalem, it is likely that

this is the true sense in which the words above are to be

understood.

2. I have already said a little, from Heb 10:25, on the

importance of social worship. PUBLIC worship is not of less

consequence. Were it not for public, private worship would soon

be at an end. To this, under God, the Church of Christ owes its

being and its continuance. Where there is no public worship

there is no religion. It is by this that God is acknowledged;

and he is the universal Being; and by his bounty and providence

all live; consequently, it is the duty of every intelligent

creature publicly to acknowledge him, and offer him that worship

which himself has prescribed in his word. The ancient Jews have

some good maxims on this subject which may be seen in Schoettgen.

I shall quote a few.

In Berachoth, fol. 8, it is written: "Rabbi Levi said, He who

has a synagogue in his city, and does not go thither to pray,

shall be esteemed a bad citizen," or a bad neighbour. And to this

they apply the words of the prophet, Jer 12:14:

Thus saith the Lord against all my evil neighbours-behold, I will

pluck them out of their land.

In Mechilta, fol. 48: "Rabbi Eliezer, the son of Jacob, said,"

speaking as from God, "If thou wilt come to my house, I will go to

thy house; but if thou wilt not come to my house, I will not enter

thy house. The place that my heart loveth, to that shall my feet

go." We may safely add, that those who do not frequent the house

of God can never expect his presence or blessing in their own.

In Taanith, fol. 11, it is said that "to him who separates

himself from the congregation shall two angels come, and lay their

hands upon his head and say, This man, who separates himself from

the congregation, shall not see the comfort which God grants to

his afflicted Church." The wisest and best of men have always

felt it their duty and their interest to worship God in public.

As there is nothing more necessary, so there is nothing more

reasonable; he who acknowledges God in all his ways may expect all

his steps to be directed. The public worship of God is one grand

line of distinction between the atheist and the believer. He who

uses not public worship has either no God, or has no right notion

of his being; and such a person, according to the rabbins, is a

bad neighbour; it is dangerous to live near him, for neither he

nor his can be under the protection of God. No man should be

forced to attend a particular place of worship, but every man

should be obliged to attend some place; and he who has any fear of

God will not find it difficult to get a place to his mind.

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