Hebrews 10
Matthew Poole's Commentary
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
Hebrews 10:1-4 The sacrifices of the law, being often repeated,

could not take away sins.

Hebrews 10:5-9 The abolition of them, and substitution of Christ’s

body in their stead, foretold by the psalmist,

Hebrews 10:10-18 by the offering of which body once for all we obtain

perfect remission.

Hebrews 10:19-25 An exhortation to steadfastness in the faith, and to

love and good works.

Hebrews 10:26-31 The danger of a wilful relapse after having received

the knowledge of the truth,

Hebrews 10:32-39 and of forfeiting the reward of a good beginning for

want of perseverance.

For: this for is connecting this to the foregoing discourse, and is a further improvement of the argument laid down, Hebrews 9, proving the necessity and excellency of the one sacrifice offered by Christ for sinners unto God, from the weakness of all the legal ones. For if all the multitude of them were not able to take away sins, and Christ’s one offering is mighty to abolish them, and to perfect all who use it, then not these legal ones, but his is necessary to be valued by the Hebrews, and preferred to that end; the demonstration of which takes up from Hebrews 10:1-18 of this chapter.

The law; the whole Mosaical economy given from God to Israel by him in the wilderness of Sinai; priesthood, covenant, sacrifices, and services, which that did contain.

Having a shadow of good things to come: see Hebrews 8:5. A shadow is lower than an image, and of another kind from the reality or substance; a dark, obscure representation sentation of what was to fulfil them, viz. of Christ, with all his ministry and privileges attending his covenant, both for time and eternity; this the Mosaical law-real comprehended, but all in shadow-work.

And not the very image of the things; they are not the very essence and substance themselves of these things, the pattern, or real sampler, but a shadowy representation; they lead their users to Christ and his matters, which they represented, but were not the substantial good things themselves. So image is read, 1 Corinthians 15:49, we have borne the image of the earthy Adam, that is, his nature.

Can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect: the legal sacrifices are not only impotent in respect of their constitution, but of their very nature, being only shadows, so as they cannot render a soul complete, either in respect of justification or sanctification; they could not free any either from the guilt or punishment of sin at present, much less eternally: with all the renovation of them either on the day of atonement yearly, or those daily offered by them, though they should continue to be offered for ever, yet could they not perfect either the priests ministering, or those for whom they ministered, who were externally humbling themselves on the expiation day; they being designed only to point the people to this better sacrifice of Christ, which was to perfect them, that work being so noble, and above, the power of shadows to perform.

For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
For then would they not have ceased to be offered? for proves the weakness of that shadowy service under the law, because it never ceased, which it would if it had perfected its users; and having reached its end, and done that work, have ceased; for these sacrifices would not of right have been repeated, neither needed they, if they could have justified and sanctified souls for ever.

Because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins: for then this effect would have followed, the worshippers who were to be atoned for or expiated by these sacrifices, if they had perfected them, i.e. pardoned, justified, and acquitted them from guilt of sin and punishment, there would have nothing remained to have troubled, vexed, or tormented their souls, they being no further accused or condemned by their conscience about sin, God having justified and sanctified them, Hebrews 9:14,26,28; compare Romans 5:1,2,11.

But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.
If the legal sacrifices could have perfected their offerers, there would have been no remembrance of sins; but there is a remembrance of sins yearly, therefore they are weak and cannot perfect. These shadowy-sacrifices yearly reiterated, still left sins in their guilt and killing power, loading and grinding the conscience by accusation and condemnation for them, as well as setting them in the light of God’s countenance. For in the expiation day Aaron was to remember and to confess over the head of the scape-goat, laying his hands on it, all the church’s sins of the past year and life, notwithstanding former expiatory sacrifices offered for them, Leviticus 16:22. For as soon as that was done, their expiating virtue vanished, and so they renewed sacrifices without any spiritual profit by them, the guilt of past and present sins remaining still: whereas Christians now renewing sin, do renew their faith and repentance, but not their sacrifice for it; the virtue of which, in a full and final absolution, applied to them by the Spirit, makes them to have, upon their final accounts, no conscience of sin for ever.

For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
For gives a reason of the precedent proof, that the legal sacrifices did keep sins in remembrance; for they were of such matter as could not have any causal power to take them away.

It is not possible: this is equivalent to a universal negative, the impossibility being absolute as to the things themselves in their very nature; they being corporeal, can have no influence upon a spiritual evil in the soul, Micah 6:6,7; and by God’s constitution they were to lead them to better things, God being not pleased with flesh and blood, Psalm 50:13 Isaiah 1:11.

That the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins; the blood of these were only carried into the holy of holiest on the atonement day, yearly, Leviticus 16:1-34, to which this is chiefly applied; nor could the blood of all the other sacrifices by expiation pardon their offerers, nor by sanctification cleanse them, nor by removing the sense of them comfort the soul; they could neither pacify God, nor the sinner’s conscience, having no virtue or power to satisfy God’s justice, or merit his grace, only it had by his constitution a power to typify that blood which could do both.

Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:
Wherefore, Dio, introduceth the proof of the invalidity of legal sacrifices, and the efficacy of the one sacrifice of Christ, from Divine testimony about both of them.

He saith; God the Son, who existed before his incarnation, bespeaketh God the Father, when he was coming into this world, to become a part of it, by uniting a holy human nature to the Divine, as David voucheth by the Spirit of God, Psalm 40:6.

Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not: the bloody atoning sacrifices of bulls and goats, the peace-offerings, and thank-offerings, Leviticus 7:16, and offerings of every sort without blood, required by the law of Moses, God did neither desire, require, nor delight in as in themselves propitiatory; for he never intended them to take away sins, or perfect the worshippers: see 1 Samuel 15:22 Isaiah 1:11-15 Jeremiah 6:20 Amos 5:21,22.

But a body hast thou prepared me: but, the Hebrew text reads, the ears hast thou bored for me. The apostle makes use here of the Greek paraphrase, a body hast thou fitted me; as giving in proper terms the sense of the former figurative expression, discovering thereby Christ’s enitre willingness to become God’s servant for ever, Exodus 21:6; and that he might be so, which he could not as God the Son, simply, the Father by his Spirit did articulate him, and formed him joint by joint a body; that is, furnished him with a human nature, so as that he might perform that piece of service which God required, offering up himself a bloody sacrifice for sin, to which he was obedient, Philippians 2:8. Thus were his ears bored, which could not be if he had not been clothed with a body.

In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.
Two other sorts of sacrifices are added to the former, as whole burnt-offerings, which were all devoured by fire on God’s altar, and no part of them came to the priests, Leviticus 1:3,9,10,13,14,17; and peace-offerings, which were not totally consumed, but part of them was the priests’ portion, Exodus 29:27,28. These four sorts of sacrifices comprehend all the Aaronical offerings for expiation. God did not require or desire any of these for themselves, or for the perfecting of sinners; he did not as to such an end approve them, or take any pleasure in them.

Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.
Then said I, Lo, I come: when the Father declared the sacrifices of beasts and birds would not please him, nor be accepted for expiating sins, then I said, I appeared in person, and declared, Lo, I come with a fit and proper sacrifice; I approach myself with my human nature, fully resolved to offer that to thee as a propitiatory sacrifice, John 12:27; compare Psalm 40:7.

In the volume of the book it is written of me: kefaliv, the head; our translators keep to the Hebrew, rpo tlumb the volume of the book, Psalm 40:7. Books, with the Hebrews, were rolls of parchment stitched at the top, and so rolled up. In this book was Christ every where written and spoken of, as he testifieth himself before his death, John 5:39, after his resurrection, Luke 24:44-46. The Septuagint render it, the head, as beiag in the top and beginning of the whole roll to wit, in the books of Moses; compare Luke 24:27. And in the entrance of them the Spirit testifieth of his Deity, and of his union to the humanity, being to be conceived and born of a virgin, and offering himself a sacrifice to expiate sin, and reconcile sinners, Genesis 3:15; compare John 5:46,47.

To do thy will, O God; to obey his Father’s command, of dying an expiatory sacrifice for sinners. It was his Father’s will that he should so offer himself for satisfying his justice, making way for his mercy, and so redeeming and recovering lost souls. This will of God was in his heart, he delighted to obey it, Psalm 40:8; and his own natural will that would regret it, he would deny, and would not use his Divine power to deliver himself from it, Matthew 26:39,46 Joh 18:11.

Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;
In this verse the apostle repeats the whole testimony, produced out of the Psalm, only with a specification in a parenthesis,

which are offered by the law, viz. such sacrifices, against which the apostle argueth, which could not purge away sin, nor procure righteousness, nor make no more conscience of sins. He observes from the Psalm, that the will of God was plainly signified by his Spirit to David under the law, about the nature, state, and design of his institution of sacrifices, that they were typical of, and leading to, a better sacrifice than themselves; and that for their own sake only they were no way acceptable to God, and so rejected by him.

Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.
In this verse the apostle collects the psalmist’s assertion of God the Father’s accepting his sacrifice, the offering whereof was so exactly agreeable to his will, when he was displeased with the legal ones; and this revealed to David when he was punctually using them according to the law.

He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second: God therefore abolished all the legal sacrifices, which he commanded to be used as types of the better sacrifice he had provided, because of their insufficiency and weakness as to expiate sin, or pacify conscience, that he might establish that sacrifice of the body of Christ for abolishing sin, and bringing in everlasting righteousness, which was effectual, and an actual obedience agreeable to his will and command, Philippians 2:7,8. This being thus proved, he concludes from it... (See Poole on "Hebrews 10:10").

By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
By the which will; that spoken of Psalm 40:8, that will and command of God given to Christ, God-man, that he should once offer up his body a sacrifice for sin, which he willingly and heartily obeyed, Philippians 2:8.

We are sanctified: sanctified is to be taken largely, for a communication to us of all the benefits of redemption, as pardon, reconciliation, absolution from punishment, renovation of God’s image, and such a discharge of sin at last, as never to be guilty of it more, perfection of grace in glory.

Through the offering; the volutarily and heartily yielding it up, and presenting the blood of it to the Father within the veil in heaven to atone him, according to his own command and will, without which it would not have been accepted by him, Luke 23:46; compare John 20:15,17,18 19:28,30.

Of the body of Jesus once for all: it was that part of Christ’s person that was to die a sacrifice, and the blood of it that was to be shed for purchasing the remission of sins, as appears in the memorial of it, Luke 22:19,20; the very body of God-man, Acts 20:28. The once offering of which was eternally available to take away sin from sinners, and perfect them to glory. So that God’s end being once reached in it, it is of perpetual virtue to apply its fruits to believing penitents, and needs not any repetition.

And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
Having proved, that not the yearly repeated legal sacrifices could perfect a sinner, but only the sacrifice of Christ, the Spirit proceeds to prove, that the daily legal sacrifices can do as little for this work as the annual; and therefore these Hebrews ought to desert all these, and depend only upon Christ’s, Hebrews 10:11-18.

And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices: every priest in Aaron’s family in his course daily ministering, stood at the altar, and performed the service appointed him by God, offering often the same bloody sacrifices to God, of bulls, goats, sheep, fowl, many times in one day, and for many days together, Hebrews 7:27.

Which can never take away sins; these were not available either to the priests offering, or those who brought them to be offered, for the spiritual and eternal expiation of their sins, as to their guilt, stain, power, or punishment, not any, nor all of these, none could do it at any time: see Hebrews 10:4.

But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins: opposed to the legal priests is this Priest, God-man, an almighty Minister, having once offered, and no more, one sacrifice of his body for the sins of others, (he had none of his own, as every other priest had), that they might be pardoned and remembered no more, it being of eternal virtue and efficacy.

For ever must be joined to the sacrifice to complete the opposition, Hebrews 10:11. The legal one could never take away sins, but his one sacrifice could take them away for ever.

Sat down on the right hand of God; he ceased from sacrificing any more, and ascended up to heaven, and there he sat himself down (having abolished sin, and finished his work as a servant for ever) in the highest place of dominion and power at God’s right hand, while the Aaronites stood trembling and waiting at God’s foot-stool: and thence he powerfully and efficaciously commands the blotting out of sins, applieth his merits, and dispenseth to his servants the covenant mercies which he purchased by his own blood for them, Hebrews 1:3 2:9 8:2.

From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.
That which remaineth he expecteth, even the fulfilling of his Father’s promise to him, Psalm 110:1, patiently waiting, earnestly looking, for what is most certain, and wherein he cannot be disappointed; for in respect of himself. His enemies cannot infest him more, being entirely vanquished already; but in respect of his administration, he waits till all that oppose his royal priesthood, as the devil and his angels, sin, the curse, death, and the world, with which he conflicts as a Priest to destroy them with his own blood, as his members do by it, Revelation 12:11. Having given them their death’s wound by his own death, he sits down, and waits in the successive ages of his church, until upon his elect it be made good, putting all under his own and church’s feet, so to overcome and trample on them, as men on their footstools: see Hebrews 2:8 1 Corinthians 15:26.

For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
For by one offering: for here gives the reason of the precedent effect, and it is opposed to the reason of the legal offerings’ defect; their sacrifices multiplied could not perfect sinners, but this one doth it fully.

He hath perfected for ever: Christ, God-man, the gospel High Priest, by the one offering of himself a sacrifice for sin to God his Father, and once performed by him, hath secured perfection of justification, sanctification, and blessedness, perpetually to be continued, whereby the persons interested in it are qualified and consecrated to be priests to God and his Father, (as the Aaronical priests were by the sacrifice of the ram of consecration, Exodus 29:22,24), to serve in their proportion here, but especially after the completion of it by their resurrection, they shall perfectly serve him before his throne in the holy of holiest for ever, 1 Peter 2:9 Revelation 1:6 5:10 20:6.

Them that are sanctified; the renewed souls by the Holy Ghost, such whose consciences he hath sprinkled with the blood of Jesus, and by it freed them from the guilt of sin and its punishment, and whose natures he regenerates and sanctifieth, freeing them from their evil habits, and making them inherently holiness unto the Lord, Psalm 110:3 1 Corinthians 6:11.

Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,
The assumption cleared before, the apostle now proceedeth to prove out of the Old Testament, viz. that God’s purpose was, by Christ’s one sacrifice to take away all sins for ever; therefore there was no need of the repetition of the legal sacrifices.

Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: the authority avouched, is the testimony of the Holy Spirit of truth, that cannot deceive nor be deceived in what it witnesseth, but confirms the truth beyond all just ground of doubting, by his amanuensis the prophet Jeremiah, Jeremiah 31:31,33,34; where the person that the prophet styleth Jehovah, is by the apostle declared to be the Holy Ghost; and by it is proved to be the eternal God. He testifieth

to us, the church of God, in the prophet’s time, and to us all called to be members of it to this day.

For after that he had said before: this contains the preface of the Spirit’s testimony, that which he spake before, the covenant, which is his evidence; and this preface is laid down, Jeremiah 31:31. Here they are all the apostle’s words.

This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
God promiseth his true Israel his entering with them into a new testamental covenant; after the days that the covenant administration at Sinai was expired, then the Lord saith, Jeremiah 31:33, that he will renew minds and hearts by his Spirit, and contorm them to his will, that they shall be living, walking exemplars of his law; of both which see Hebrews 8:10. This work of sanctification of souls is properly inferred here, to prove that such as enjoy it are perfected by Christ, because the promise of holiness is joined with that of perfect righteousness. Formerly it was urged from the text to another purpose, to prove God’s will of changing the Aaronical administration of the covenant, because this was better. Here it is urged to prove the perfect effect of the sacrifice of Christ once offered to God, without which these promises of the covenant of justifying and sanctifying sinners had neither been made nor effected.

And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
God covenanteth to give not only sanctification, but justification to his believing Israel, so as their sins shall be remitted, and God will solemnly absolve them from the punishment they merit; see Hebrews 8:12; promised, Jeremiah 31:34. In which proof, though there be no express mention of the sacrifice of Christ, yet is it implied, for it is urged by the Spirit to that purpose; and in other scriptures, speaking of the same thing here promised, it is expressed, as hath been shown, Hebrews 8:6, {compare Isaiah 53:1-12} that the death of Christ confirms this covenant, of which he is Mediator, and secures remission of sin for ever to the duly qualified subject for it.

Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
The Spirit having cleared his assumption before, now concludes; Whereas perfect forgiveness of sins is from God’s grace, by the one sacrifice of his Son once offered, acquired and effected for penitent believers for ever, as the promise voucheth, Jeremiah 31:34: For he will in no wise remember their sins, but will forgive them for ever; therefore there needs no repetition of that sacrifice again, or of any other for sin. But the Hebrews had the highest reason now to desert the legal sacrifices, and to rest upon and to cleave to his alone, any being, use, or consistency of such, after the effect of Christ’s one sacrifice, being vain; for all being completed in his, it is but just theirs should cease from them.

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
At this verse the Spirit applieth and maketh use of the doctrine of the great gospel High Priest, and his one all-sufficient sacrifice, and continueth it through part of Hebrews 13:1-25. The transition to it is made by the particle oun, therefore, which refers to the whole of his doctrinal discourse before of the excellency of the gospel High Priest, for his person, as to both his natures, being God-man, and his sacrifice, with its effects. Seeing these things are so,

therefore, brethren; see Hebrews 3:1,12; inviting them with this endearing term of relation, to receive what his brotherly love imparted to them for their salvation.

Boldness to enter into the holiest; freedom granted us of God for this motion, and confidence and freeness of Spirit in ourselves to move, so as not only to look into the holy of holiest, but of spiritual and real access for supplication and conversation, while we are personally upon earth; and others are denied such an entrance and approach to him on his throne of grace there, while they have their petitions received, Ephesians 3:12, and thence their persons blessed, Hebrews 4:16.

By the blood of Jesus: and this only vouchsafed them by the blood of Jesus, which atoned him, who sits on the throne, for us, and made it accessible to us. How much greater is this gospel privilege than that under the law! Aaron alone, and not the Israelites, could enter into the holy of holiest, and that but once a year, and then with the blood of beasts sacrificed for himself and them; whereas every penitent believing sinner can now by faith in Christ’s blood and prayer, enter into the holiest of all in heaven, and there converse with God every day, while sin hath made him inaccessible to others.

By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
By a new and living way; which way is figuratively setting out the means of entering into the holiest in heaven by the blood of Christ. By way is understood that by which approach to God in heaven is made, and wherein we must have our access to him, even Christ himself, John 14:6: prosfaton, a way newly made manifest by Christ’s sacrifice newly slain and offered, rending the veal that hid heaven from them, so as they could not so clearly discern the throne of grace then, as now; and the way is not only new, but zwsan, a quickening way, giving life and ability for motion and refreshment to those who walk in it, John 14:6, such as is everlasting, and is opened, not as the legal way, only to the high priest, but to all true Israelites to enter into it, and that not once a year, but continually. This is the way of life permanent and safe, Isaiah 35:8-10.

Which he hath consecrated for us; this way Christ himself hath newly made, finished and opened unto them that they might walk therein, and reach home to God; nothing could obstruct or hinder them in it, he having perfected it unto this end.

Through the veil, that is to say, his flesh: the inner veil, that separated the holiest of all from the holy place, was a type of the flesh of Christ, veiling his Deity; through the breaking and rending of which by death, he opens the way to the throne of grace in the holy of holiest in heaven, and so made God accessible to believers there, Hebrews 9:12; compare Matthew 27:51.

And having an high priest over the house of God;
Christians have not only a liberty of coming, but a way wherein, and a help whereby, to reach home to God; which help is a surpassing Priest to all others, the great and eminent one for real worth and dignity, Christ himself, God-man, exalted to the right hand of the Majesty on high, after he had fulfilled his work here; where he was invested with all authority and power, and set over the church of the living God, consisting both of Hebrew and Gentile Israelites, Hebrews 3:6 Acts 20:28; whose sacrifices of praise and prayer offered up to God, he presenteth, perfumed with the incense of his own merits, before the throne, representing their persons, pleading their cause, and continually interceding for their good, making all they are and perform acceptable to his Father by his own blood, Hebrews 8:2.

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
Let us draw near; this contains the duty grounded on, and enconraged to, by the former privileges, viz. the spiritual motion of his church, using Christ for their coming home to God, in prayer, and all parts of worship and conversation: see Hebrews 4:16 7:25.

With a true heart; with sincerity and integrity of heart, both as it is the subject of actions, and exercising them as such in all acts of worship and service unto God, when the mind and heart is fixed to perform all strictly, according to God’s will, for matter and manner, so as to reach him glory, and to obtain from him a blessing, Psalm 37:31.

In full assurance of faith; believing in, and being fully assured and confident of, Christ’s merits and God’s promise, which is trne, faithful, and immutable, to all who perform the duty required by it, Hebrews 6:11 Colossians 2:2 Jam 1:5-7.

Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience; having the soul in all its rational faculties, the inward man, the prime efficient of all actions, and here under bond to the law of God, purged and cleansed; alluding to the Aaronical rite of purifying by sprinkling of blood, as souls are to be now by the blood of Christ when they are justified, Romans 3:23-26, that God may admit them into his presence, hear them when they worship him, Hebrews 10:19,20; so as they may be free from an accusing or, condemning conscience, on the acconnt of the guilt of sin gnawing them, and making them obnoxious to punishment; as also of the stain and pollution of sin, making them unfit for any communion with God, Hebrews 9:14.

And our bodies washed with pure water; the body (as the priests were under the law washed before their service) is the outward man, which is, as well as the soul, to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and cleansd from all filthiness of flesh: these corrupt members of the old man must be put off, and mortified by the Spirit of God, before they can be fit to approach to worship him, Ezekiel 36:25 1 Corinthians 6:11,19,20 2 Corinthians 7:1 1Jo 3:3.

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
Let us hold fast; this duty is inferred from the doctrine of the gospel High Priest, and the perfect work he wrought in taking away sin, and bringing in everlasting righteousness: let us herefore persevere in the faith and hope of him, really, actually, stedfastly, retaining it with all our might and power; whatsoever insinuations may be used to entice us, or violence by persecutions to force us, from it, retaining it still in mind, will, affection, and operation.

The profession of our faith; an outward exhibition to the world both in word and deed, as we have it sincerely in our hearts, solemnly owning it in the ordinances of God in his church, of the hope we have in Christ our High Priest, and of all that he hath purchased for us, and promised to perform in us and to us, Hebrews 3:1,6 4:14 6:11 Romans 10:9,10 1 Peter 1:3,21.

Without wavering; aklinh, without any declining from it, either to the right or left, from the first and due state of it; not warping or wavering from the revelation of God about it, when others weakly made a defection from it, Hebrews 6:6,9. And good reason for this unbiassed retention of it, while others declined.

For he is faithful that promised; for God, who covenanted with them what he will be to and do for them, is only primitively, eminently, and reciprocally faithful and unchangeable for his person and purpose; all is sure on God’s side, Numbers 23:19, and his power is irresistible. He hath promised to reward those who persevere and continue to the end true to the Redeemer, and to give them grace and assistance that they may so continue, so as they need not fear the power of their enemies, nor their own weakness, for he will enable them to perform the duty, endure the afflictions for it, and then to reach the blessing, 1 Corinthians 10:13 1 Thessalonians 5:23,24 2 Thessalonians 3:3.

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Having urged from the gospel doctrine of our High Priest our duty to God, the Spirit proceeds to show what influence it should have on Christians for performing their duty one to another, in their inspection and observation of the whole body of Christ, consisting of Jew and Gentile, who have equally shared in Christ’s sacrifice, and are interested in and related to is his person; and by the apprehensive and judicial faculty so to discern the spiritual state and condition of each other, and the whole, as every particular member of it may be capable to animadvert, exhort, reprove, counsel, or comfort, and act suitably and seasonably in the discharge of their mutual duty, Hebrews 3:13 Romans 14:19 15:7,14 Col 3:16 1 Thessalonians 5:11,15.

To provoke unto love; eiv parozusmon it is a word borrowed from physicians, who use it to set out the violent incursion of a fever, when the fit is so strong as to make the body tremble and bed shake with the horror and rigour of it. In this place it is used to set out the vehemency of affection to which the sacrifice of Christ obligeth Christians, as those who had their whole persons acted by love to each other, with all vehemency, to the highest and fullest pitch of it; as who should exceed in benevolence, beneficence, and complacency in each other, such as is conscientious, pure, and extensive to the very end, Hebrews 13:1 Romans 12:9,20 1 Thessalonians 4:9 1 Peter 1:22; and manifesting itself in good works to them, especially merciful ones, pitying, counselling, succouring, supplying, and comforting them, Jam 2:13,15,16 1Jo 3:14,16-18 and this freely, cheerfully, and constantly, Ephesians 2:10 4:32 1 Timothy 6:18.

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Helps to the performance of both the former duties, to God and fellow Christians, with their respective motives, are laid down in the following part of the chapter. The first is couched in this verse; neither slighting in thought, nor vilifying in word, nor separating, nor leaving by dissociation.

Not forsaking: egkataleipontev imports such a desertion, as leaves destitute in deep trouble or distress, when they should be helping.

The assembling of ourselves together: episunagwghn strictly notes an addition to this synagogue of the Jews; an accession of new members to the former church assembly, even the Gentiles, becoming Abraham’s seed by their conversion to, and confession of, the faith of Christ. This some of the Jews, from the self-conceit of their being the only people of God, disdained, and continued in a separation from them, and all communion with them. This the Spirit reproves, and adviseth not to leave the assembly thus augmented, lest in doing it they forsook God and Christ, as well as ordinances of worship and duties attending such church meetings, and promoting their salvation.

As the manner of some is; such desertion of those assemblies in the worshipping and serving of God, was the common custom among some of these Hebrews; a usual, frequent mode of them to do it; some idolizing their own nation; others, their own selves, thinking them holier than others, Galatians 2:12-14; others, that valued honours, riches, and ease more than Christ or their souls; some for fear of persecution, as foretold, Luke 8:13,14, fulfilled, Galatians 6:12.

But exhorting one another; parakalountev supposeth assembling, in opposition to the former desertion, and the duty of the assembled; and signifieth, counselling, reproving, encouraging, and comforting one another, so as they might persevere in performing the duties for which they assembled, according to Christ’s mind and will; so as to strengthen each other’s hearts and hands in the faith, and in the other duties instanced in before.

And so much the more, as ye see the day approaching; they have so much the more reason to do it, and intend the work, as they did not conjecture, but certainly know, that the day of their own death, and particular account to be given of themselves to God; the day of God’s executing his judgments on Jerusalem, as Christ foretold, Matthew 24:1-28, prophesied by Daniel before, Daniel 9:26,27, when the temple should be burnt, the city destroyed, and the people dispersed through the world; or, the day of the general judgment, testified by the gospel to the world, Acts 17:31: all these were every day nearer to them than other, and they believed them to approach; therefore ought they to be more exercised in denying evil and doing good, not forsaking church communion, but keeping close to Christ and his assemblies, that they might better stand together in that day.

For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
If we sin wilfully: the severe exaction which God will take upon such as apostatize from him, is further enforcing the former duty, and is introduced by the particle for, to that end; if we by a free and spontaneous desertion of Christ, and his ordinances, without a coercion by threats and persecutions; and this after we had professedly in our judgments, wills, and affections, with faith and reverence, acknowledged a love and subjection to the true gospel doctrine of the way of bringing sinners to God by Christ our great High Priest, John 8:31 14:6, which was made known to them by Christ and his apostles, and confirmed by miracles and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, so as to profess a full conviction of this truth, so as to assent and consent to it.

After that we have received the knowledge of the truth; after all this, to renounce the profession of it, and to forsake the assemblies where it is held forth; this is the spontaneous and wilful sinning: see Hebrews 6:6.

There remaineth no more sacrifice for sins: this is unpardonable by the just constitution of God in the gospel, because no sacrifice can atone God for them, without which they cannot be pardoned; and the sacrifice of Christ, which only could do it, they renounce and desert; and so this, nor any other they can bring, can procure pardon for them, so that their sins remain in guilt and power on them, and between them and God’s wrath are they like irrecoverably to be ground to perdition.

But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
But a certain fearful looking for of judgment: But, is introducing the terrible evil asserted to be expected when sacrifice cannot hetp such sinners, especial and certain, terrible and dreadful (such as fills the soul with fears and horrors) expectation of judgment by their awakened consciences, not knowing how soon it may come; as a malefactor under sentence, in daily expectation of execution, how doth he suffer it over and over! So will this worm gnaw them: to which is synonymous, Mark 9:44. How must the execution of the sentence of the just Judge terrify them!

And fiery indignation; when it must be by burning, or heat of fire; wrath of fire proceeding from an injured and wronged God, Ezekiel 36:5 38:19 Zephaniah 1:18 3:8. As in execution of just vengeance, which like fire devours and eateth them up, not putting an end to their being by consumption, but perpetual piercing, searching, torturing, and this for eternity.

Which shall devour the adversaries; these underhand adversaries, utenantiouv, who are the most bitter enemies of Christ and his church, because secret ones, and seem to be by profession otherwise, Matthew 25:41 Mark 9:43,44 2 Thessalonians 1:8,9.

He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
The punishment threatened on such sinners is illustrated by an instance proper to the Hebrews; For if the lesser sin against Moses’s law was punished by death, the greater sin against the gospel of Christ shall be more punished.

He that despised Moses’s law; any person, whoever he were, none excepted, cantemning, rejecting, nullifying, or making to have noplace or force, (suitable to forsaking, before prohibited), the law of God, given by the mediation of Moses, so as to have no power on the conscience by apostacy from it, and to do it openly, proudly, and presumptuously, in the face of the church, Numbers 15:30,31.

Died without mercy under two or three witnesses; was to be sentenced to death without any compassion or mercy, and indispensably executed without any pity, by stoning of the offender by two or three witnessess, which did evidence the fact, and convict him of it, according to the law, as Deu 13:6-11 17:2-7.

Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
Of how much sorer punishment: the expostulation aggravates both the sin and the punishment in the consequent on the former assertion; a punishment heavier, bitterer, sorer, more grievous, and unexpressibly greater, than death.

Suppose ye; you yourselves being judges, to whom I appeal about it; what can you suppose, think, or determine of it?

Shall he be thought worthy; doth he fully deserve, and is liable to, by the judgment of man, but much more by the righteous and inexorable judgment of God?

Who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God; who sinneth at a higher rate than a Jew against Moses’s law, being an apostate from the gospel, a revolter from and a rebel against it, discovering it by as much as in him lieth, tearing from his throne God the Son incarnate, and treading him under his feet, wickedly undervaluing and horribly vilifying him, treating him with the greatest contempt that can be expressed by such an action, as if he were the vilest malefactor. A person so much greater and more excellent than Moses, to be so used; so as, if he were here on earth, he would tread him (who is higher than the heavens, and had done and suffered so much for him) as the dust and dirt under his feet; and this by a contemptuous forsaking his church assemblies, wherein he was set out in all his excellencies.

And hath counted the blood of the covenant an unholy thing; accounting and so deserting the blood of Christ, (which ratified the everlasting covenant of grace, by whose virtue was made unalterable, firm, and effectual in all the promises of it of pardon, righteousness, holiness, grace, and glory, unto penitent believing sinners), as either the common blood of men, or the blood of a malefactor, to have not so much excellency in it as the blood of bulls, or goats, or rams, or birds, under the law; as not sanctifying souls, but polluted.

Wherewith he was sanctified; en w hgiasyh, in or by which he was sanctified, is by most interpreters referred to the apostate, as aggravating his sin, to despise that blood by which he thought he was so, and boasted of it, and was so reputed by the church upon his baptism and profession of his faith, and, as a member of the church, had a visible relation to it, partaking of those ordinances wherein its fruits were conveyed, and enjoying the external privileges purchased by it. Others refer it unto Christ himself, the blood whereby he was consecrated to God as a holy sacrifice, John 17:19. All this was discovered by his forsaking the church assembly, wherein this was declared to be the only way and means to justification of life and salvation.

And hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace; injuring, wronging, despising, greatly grieving, not a creature, but God the Spirit, the quickening Spirit of dead sinners, who fits them for union to God, and in order to it, uniteth him to Christ and his God, animateth it; who graciously communicated to these apostates the knowledge natural and supernatural which they had and abused, Hebrews 6:5, by the desertion of the assemblies, where he manifested his gifts and graces. They reject him with them, and treat his gifts and motions as if they were the delusions and impostures of an evil spirit; and this wilfully done out of malice to Christ, and abhorrence of his church and religion. A sin like the devil’s, for them to forsake God loving, Christ redeeming, his blood justifying, his Spirit renewing, and so wilfully refuse to be saved, and expose themselves to the severest punishment God can inflict on such sinners, and they do deserve.

For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
For we know him that hath said: For brings in the proof of the soreness of God’s punishment to be inflicted on apostates, from God’s own testimony about it; which we, who are conversant with the Scriptures, are well acquainted with; we know what God hath spoken, and by whom he hath spoken it, John 9:29. Their knowledge of it was clear and certain, it being spoken to them by Moses, and written for them, Deu 32:35,36.

Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense; to me is vengeance and recompence; which are the words of the Hebrew text. To me, the sovereign Being, the supreme and universal Lawgiver and Judge, doth belong the universal right and power of vindictive justice. It is his propriety, as he will avenge all injuries against his people, he will much more avenge the sins and injuries against his Son; and will actually return to evil-doers, as a recompence for their sins, the evil of punishment. He is not only just and powerful, but actually manifesting both in his retribution on them, Deu 32:41,43 Psa 94:1 Romans 12:19 2 Thessalonians 1:8.

Saith the Lord; Jehovah saith it, who is faithful and true, powerful, and constant to his threatenings, as well as his promises. This he saith to, and threatens apostate Jeshurun with, who revolted from God, and served idols, Deu 32:15-17.

And again, The Lord shall judge his people: a further testimony is urged from God’s vindication of his people, when he hath punished apostates, taken from Deu 32:6, and Psalm 135:14. The sovereign Being of righteousness, the same Jehovah as before, will rule, justify, save, deliver, and vindicate his covenant people from the contempt and vilifying of his Son and them, by punishing severely such who, by their apostacy from him and them, are guilty of it. He will certainly take vengeance on them, and thereby clear the innocency, truth, and goodness of his, who are trampled on by them.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
The punishment of these apostates is further aggravated from the inflicter of it, the knowledge of which should make them tremble; the thoughts of it might affect them, as the hand-writing on the wall did Belshazzar, Daniel 5:6. It should strike horror into their heart, trembling into their persons, Deu 28:65,66, by apostacy from him as a Father, to be subjected to him as a Judge, and as obnoxious to his severest judgment. Him in whose hand is power inexpressible, 1 Chronicles 29:12, to avenge himself on his enemies, Psalm 90:11, who have renounced him as their God, and provoked him to fury by it. A God that will not repent of vengeance, and who liveth ever to inflict it; who lifts up his hand to heaven, and saith, I live for ever, Deu 32:39,40; to punish with everlasting burning, and a devouring fire, such traitors to himself. So is he described, Isaiah 33:14 Matthew 10:28. His vengeance on these apostates is like himself, everlasting.

But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;
But call to remembrance the former days: But is not so much adversative as copulative, adding another direction for their persevering in Christianity, even the revolving in their minds, and bringing again to thought, what was past, carrying in it both the act and the end of it. It is a practical remembrance which bettereth them, while recollecting their own days, and the time that was past.

In which, after ye were illuminated; in which they were convinced of the truth of the gospel, and received it in the love of it, and externally professed it, by being baptized into Christ, and by it made members of his church, Hebrews 6:4, and testified the truth of their being Christ’s.

Ye endured a great fight of afflictions; by their sufferings for him with patience and divine fortitude, willingly, cheerfully, valiantly: Ye have borne, and overcome by bearing, preserving your integrity, so as your faith was immovable, and strengthened you to endure the many and most violent assaults of the devil and his instruments, both within and without the church; who thought to force them from the faith, by the many evils which they inflicted. If they were patient in the enduring these at the first, how much more now, after so long a continuance in it Romans 8:18 2 Corinthians 1:6-8 2 Timothy 1:8 1 Peter 5:9.

Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.
Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; their sufferings personal in this famous instance, yeatrizomenoi. They were so publicly exposed as on a stage or theatre, so as multitudes might sport themselves with them, 1 Corinthians 4:9; as many were exposed to be devoured by beasts in their public shows, 1 Corinthians 15:32. Or, to destroy them, exposed in their public courts of justice, and there taunted and reviled, as Christ foretold them, Matthew 10:17,18. They were suffering reproaches and afflictions publicly both in word and deed. What nick-names imposed on them, what crimes imputed to them which they abhorred, what buffeting, scourging, tormenting, shackling, imprisoning, banishing, were they not exercised with, as their fellow Christians are to this day?

And partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used; their sufferings by participation, in presence and sympathy with their fellow Christians. This is another kind of it; they were consorts and sharers of all those members of Christ, who were so abused by the devil and his instruments, and they bore their burdens with them, were inwardly grieved for them, publicly owned and comforted them, supplied and supported them as they could, as Hebrews 10:34 2 Corinthians 11:25,26.

For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.
For ye had compassion of me in my bonds; for ye sympathized in my bonds, &c., is a proof of both kinds of their sufferings forementioned. As to their suffering with others, he instanceth in himself, as a witness of it; for when he was in bonds for preaching the gospel, both at Jerusalem, Acts 21:33,37 22:24,25, at Cesarea, Acts 23:1-24:27, at Rome, Acts 28:1-31, they forewarned him of his danger, bore his burden with him, supplied, relieved him, and endeavoured, what in them lay, his release.

And took joyfully the spoiling of your goods; and in their own sufferings, by being rifled for the gospel; their goods, estates, and means of subsistence, were either by fines, confiscations, or violence, ravished from them; their enemies, like so many harpies, preying on them, 1 Thessalonians 2:14. So as these Christian Hebrews at this time had their respective properties, and all was not levelled among them. Though they were so impoverished to make them comply with the Gentile superstition and idolatry, yet they cheerfully bore it, esteeming it their honour and privilege thus to suffer for Christ, and herein obeyed him, as Matthew 5:11,12, and as the apostles did before them, in Acts 5:41.

Knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance; they were fully assured of this by faith in God’s promise, and by God’s work on their own hearts, qualifying and fitting them for it, Romans 8:15-17. That they have by promise given them as theirs, as fitted for them, a spiritual substance, an estate beyond what this world could afford them; riches, honours, and pleasures, better for their quality than all terrene ones; spiritual ones, proper for their souls, 1 Peter 1:3,4. The sum of which is God in Christ, their exceeding great reward, Genesis 15:1, and all he can be to or do for them. He is their portion and their inheritance, the most excellent in itself, and the most enduring, out of the reach of men or devils, who can neither take it from them, nor them from it, it is safe enough in the heavens, Matthew 6:19,20 19:28,29 Psa 16:5 2 Corinthians 5:1 2 Thessalonians 1:4,5.

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
Cast not away therefore your confidence: this introduceth the last direction for helping on their perseverance in Christianity. Mh apoballhte denieth all degrees of apostacy, from secret undervaluing to an utter renouncing, not to slight, despise, or reject; they had endured already so much as might steel and fortify them against what remained, and implieth the bold, resolute, and courageous retention, Ephesians 6:10,16, of the boldness of their confession of the Christian faith. It is an ingenuous, free, bold, and daring profession of it, which no brow beating nor violence can dash out of countenance, the fruit of a mighty, invincible faith, and hope of eternal life. This makes them persevere courageously in their religion, notwithstanding their being laden with reproaches and sufferings for it, as Christ himself gave them a pattern, Mark 8:31,32 Ac 4:13,29,31.

Which hath great recompence of reward: what greater encouragement can there be to the retaining this confidence, than the great remuneration secured in the New Testament to them: God himself, in all his fulness, to be their exceeding great reward, seen and enjoyed by them; and which for quality and quantity is inexpressible, Genesis 15:1 Matthew 5:12 10:32.

For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
For ye have need of patience: for shows this to be an enforcement of the former direction: Cast not away your confidence, for you have need of grace, which that must maintain in order to carry back your reward. It is therefore absolutely necessary, as well as useful to you, for the bearing of your burdens, persevering in all duty, and waiting for your reward, notwithstanding your reproaches, afflictions, and fiery trials, that you preserve your confidence in maintaining this patience, Hebrews 6:12 Romans 2:7 Jam 1:4.

That, after ye have done the will of God; that having believed God’s promises, obeyed his precepts, endured his trials, and persevered in all, according to the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God; and so exercised our patience, and evidenced our confidence, and finished our work;

ye might receive the promise; you may carry back, as your full prize, after your race. It is a necessary and true reportation from God, after his will is done, 1 Peter 1:9 5:4; the reward promised metonymically expressed by the promise, Hebrews 6:15 Hebrews 9:15; all that life and glorious inheritance in the reality and fulness of it, called a crown of glory that fadeth not away, 1 Timothy 4:8 2 Timothy 1:1.

For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
The reason of their retaining their confidence to the end, is the shortness of his coming, who will reward them for it, proved out of God’s promise written to and for the church, by Habakkuk, Habakkuk 2:3. A truth sufficiently known to these Hebrews, as brought them by their own prophet; and though spoken for the comfort of the captives in Babylon then, yet it is extended to the suffering church in all ages, and so to these Hebrews, and to us also, upon whom the ends of the world are come, 1 Corinthians 10:11. And though the prophet speaks it of a vision of grace, in promise to be despatched, yet the Septuagint refers it to a person; and in this the apostle follows them, because the promise cannot be made good without the coming of its Author to fulfil it.

For yet a little while; in which promise there is the celerity or speed of it; as little, little as it may be, as is fit for Christ and them. How little is this time! A very short moment, as he speaks himself, Revelation 22:7,12,20.

And he that shall come will come; he that hath promised to come and save you, and reckon with your persecutors, he will certainly come, he and his promise together, will despatch and put an end to the suffering of his, and put on their crowns. Metonymically, his coming is his saving, full refreshing, and rewarding his believing and patient sufferers.

And will not tarry; he will not spin out time to delay deliverance, beyond the set point; he will not come behind the last moment, the hour fixed and appointed, which is pitched in infinite wisdom and goodness, for the best comfort of Christ’s suffering members, Isaiah 46:13.

Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
These are, as the former, the words of the Prophet Habakkuk, Habakkuk 2:4, enforcing the former duty pressed from the gain of perseverance, and the loss by withdrawing, when Christ shall come. They are used by this apostle Paul to several purposes, as to prove, that righteousness is only obtained by faith from God, and not by man’s own works, Romans 1:17 Galatians 3:11; that whoever is righteous by faith, shall live for ever, by holding that righteousness in faith, as here.

Now the just shall live by faith; the justified, according to the terms of the new covenant, who hath obtained the righteousness of God in Christ by believing, and is renewed and sanctified by the Spirit, shall really, spiritually, happily, eternally live; and no end shall be to that life of his, till it be perfected by Christ in glory. And this he shall live by a real and spiritual assent to the gospel, and reliance on God’s promises in it, especially by an affiance to Christ, God-man, as the Lord their Righteousness, by which we have him ours, and so we live. This faith increased, continued in, and held fast amidst all reproaches, sufferings, and persecutions; by this only is the life, due to righteousness, made sure to sinners, drawing from Christ daily, and making real and present the fulness of it promised to and hoped for by it, Mark 13:13 John 6:47 Galatians 2:20 Colossians 3:4.

But if any man draw back: see Habakkuk 2:4, where hlme translated here uposteilhtai, is variously rendered, as, elated like a bubble, lifted up; making pride and unbelief to be the sins threatened there; and the proper sense of the word here used, is, for fear, or sloth, to withdraw, or leave their understanding: so that the meaning in both amounts to this: If any, out of the pride of their heart, will not depend on Christ’s righteousness, as the Jews would not, or, out of fear and sluggishness, will not hold out, but withdraw themselves, in time of persecution, from their faith and confidence in Christ, professed; shrinking through fear, or losing it through sloth, or forsaking it by treachery, either gradually or totally, confiding in themselves, and so despising God; reject him, and draw away from him.

My soul shall have no pleasure in him; God himself will be so far from taking any pleasure or delight in such a soul, or vouchsafe it any joy or life, that his very soul abhors it, is highly displeased with its sin, and abominates its person. In his displeasure is misery, death, and eternal perdition: see Deu 32:15,18-21.

But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
The conclusion is a hopeful assertion of their condition, or a sweet intimation of what they ought to be, even like himself; and so the apostle removes all jealousy of his reflecting on them, as Hebrews 6:9.

But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; the adversative, but, is an exception of them to whom he writes from the apostate state, and so joins himself with them, hoping they were such de facto as he was, and as they ought to be de jure; and so intimates their duty, and that of all Christians: We are not sons of defection, persons withdrawing and backsliding from Christ, his gospel, or duties; apostates from the truth, whose end is destruction, an utter separation from all good, life, and glory, and full subjection of body and soul to eternal torments in hell, by the righteous sentence of God, Matthew 10:28: who are sons of defection, are sons of perdition, John 17:12 2 Thessalonians 2:3.

But of them that believe to the saving of the soul; sons of faith, true and sincere believers, cleaving to Christ and his body, rooted in his faith, and persevering in it to the end, Ephesians 3:17 Colossians 2:7: which faith acquiring, purchasing, or obtaining, according to the gospel covenant, the soul for salvation, and glory for the soul, John 3:15,16,36 5:40 2 Thessalonians 2:14. Faith realizing, applying, and keeping fast the price which Christ himself paid to God for the purchasing of these for them on their souls.

Matthew Poole's Commentary

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