What does Hebrews 10:32 mean?
ESV: But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings,
NIV: Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering.
NASB: But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings,
CSB: Remember the earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings.
NLT: Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering.
KJV: But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;
Verse Commentary:
The last several verses constitute the harshest warning given in the book of Hebrews. In other passages, the writer pointed out how Israel suffered punishment for her faithless disobedience (Hebrews 3:12–19). This was applied to the life of the Christian as advice not to risk the wrath of God as a result of similar failure (Hebrews 6:1–6). That caution also included a reference to fire, often used as a symbol of God's judgment (Hebrews 6:7–8). In more recent verses, the writer strongly warned against "willful" sin in the life of a Christian, since those with greater spiritual knowledge would be held all the more accountable by God (Hebrews 10:26–29).

Here, however, the tone shifts towards something more encouraging. A major theme of this letter has been the need to "hold fast" during struggles and hardships. The original audience of this work was the large number of persecuted Jewish Christians of the early church. Most of them, if not all of them, had already experienced some level of hardship for the sake of their faith. The writer is encouraging them to look back on their prior victories, where they were able to "hold fast," as motivation that they can continue to do so. This follows in the same sense as the writer's earlier words of support and praise (Hebrews 6:9–12).
Verse Context:
Hebrews 10:26–39 contains the letter's most dire warning against apostasy. This passage should be understood in the same context as earlier references to Israel's punishment in the wilderness (Hebrews 3:12–19) and the dangers of a shallow faith (Hebrews 6:1–8). The concern here is not a loss of salvation, but of God's punishment on those who willingly rebel against His will. Since the new covenant is superior to the old covenant, we can expect those who ''profane'' the new covenant to suffer greater consequences for disobedience. This is followed by a word of encouragement and reassurance to those who have already survived hardship and persecution.
Chapter Summary:
God's own words, found in the Old Testament Scriptures, declare His intention to replace the old covenant with a new covenant. Jesus fulfills all of these prophecies, and all of the symbolism found in the system of priests, the tabernacle, and animal sacrifices. Knowing that Jesus Christ is, undoubtedly, God's remedy for our sin, we should be encouraged in holding on to our faith in the face of persecution. However, that same confidence means dire spiritual consequences for those who know Christ's salvation, but choose to act in defiance of His will.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 10 completes the long, detailed explanation of why the new covenant is superior to the old covenant. Starting in chapter 7, the writer gave various arguments and Scriptures to support this idea. The theme of these points is that God had always intended to send Jesus, as the real fulfillment of the old covenant's symbolism. The second half of this chapter transitions into more practical ideas, including an extremely dire warning about the dangers of apostasy.
Book Summary:
The book of Hebrews is meant to challenge, encourage, and empower Christian believers. According to this letter, Jesus Christ is superior to all other prophets and all other claims to truth. Since God has given us Christ, we ought to listen to what He says and not move backwards. The consequences of ignoring God are dire. Hebrews is important for drawing on many portions of the Old Testament in making a case that Christ is the ultimate and perfect expression of God's plan for mankind. This book presents some tough ideas about the Christian faith, a fact the author makes specific note of.
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