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Hebrews chapter 10

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19Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21And having an high priest over the house of God; 22Let 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. 23Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25Not 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. 26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29Of 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? 30For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 32But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; 33Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. 34For 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. 35Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. 36For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. 37For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. 38Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

What does Hebrews chapter 10 mean?

Hebrews chapter 10 marks the end of the writer's primary argument and begins a transition into practical applications. For several chapters, the book of Hebrews has provided evidence that the new covenant, in Jesus Christ, is superior to the old covenant of animal sacrifices. The writer has also carefully pointed out that God always intended to replace the temple sacrifices. Those were meant to be symbolic of the "true" solution for our sins, which is Jesus.

The first half of chapter 10 completes this long and intricate argument (Hebrews 10:1–18). The writer offers a final point of logic, as well as another reference to the Old Testament. The quotation, Psalm 40:6–8, is from the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament completed about 200 years before the birth of Christ. The book of Hebrews uses this passage to show that God's intent was for His will to be completed through a "body," specifically in contrast to doing so through sacrifices.

Logically, the writer also reminds us that repeating a sacrifice is evidence that the ritual could not take away sins. If the offerings of the old covenant could actually remove the penalty of our sin, there would be no need to offer them again and again. Instead, they had to be repeated. According to the writer of Hebrews, this points us to the real purpose of the Old Covenant: a reminder of sin, not a removal of it. God's intent in setting up the old covenant was to symbolize the upcoming new covenant.

This also supports the fact that Jesus' sacrifice was a perfect, once for all event. Once the ultimate solution has been offered, there is no reason to bring that same sacrifice over again.

The second half of the chapter, beginning in verse 19, transitions into application (Hebrews 10:19–39). The overall theme of this letter is confidence in our faith leading us to "hold fast" in the face of adversity. This shift in topic, however, comes with the most strongly-worded warning given in the book of Hebrews.

Earlier, the writer warned about the dangers of careless faith (Hebrews 2:1–4), fearful disobedience (Hebrews 3:12–19), and drifting from the truth due to spiritual apathy (Hebrews 6:1–8). Here, the danger is presented in graphic, dire terms. The phrasing of this section lends itself to two possible interpretations, both of which are consistent with the rest of the book of Hebrews and the New Testament. This is either a caution given to saved Christians about the consequences of their sin, or a warning to those who are "almost" saved, but choose to reject Christ in favor of their life of sin. The context of this chapter, and the book of Hebrews, makes the former interpretation far more likely.

Sin has consequences, whether it is deliberate or not (Hebrews 2:2). However, those who should "know better" are held more accountable by God (John 9:41). This means that those who are saved—those who know first-hand what it means to be forgiven—who choose to sin can expect a far harsher punishment as a result. Since deliberate sin against the old covenant was punishable by death (Numbers 15:27–31), it's reasonable to assume that those who "profane" a greater covenant are subject to a greater consequence.

At the same time, the writer seeks to encourage his readers. These persecuted Jewish Christians have survived hardship and trials in the past; they can do so again (Hebrews 10:32–39).

The following chapters will continue to explore the implications of our confident faith in the new covenant.
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