Hebrews Bible Study Week 11: Chapter 10

By | January 24, 2021
This entry is part 11 of 16 in the series Hebrews Bible Study

{Updated to add: This post and many of the following posts were part of an online Bible study over the book of Hebrews that I hosted in the past on my previous blog. I am reposting here to make the resource available to anyone interested.}

Chapter 10 is another long chapter, but it is going to be another good one. It continues the contrast between the Levitical priesthood and the continual animal sacrifices of the old covenant with Jesus’ priesthood and his once-for-all sacrifice of himself. It might be helpful to read chapters 8-10 altogether once before digging in to chapter 10 just to help you keep the context in mind.

As you read and study, I hope you see the value, beauty, and practicality of studying the rich, deep doctrines of Scripture. This study into the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ and the new covenant compared to the Levitical priesthood has not been a walk in the park. I’ve had to work hard to try to understand some of these things, and I’ve got some unanswered questions ahead for this chapter. BUT, this chapter and the following make abundantly clear that there is a connection between our theology and our walk. We hope, struggle, and endure because of what we know and believe to be true about God. Our response to what we know is vital.

This is exactly the method the author of Hebrews has used with his audience. He starts out in the introduction in chapter 1 summarizing who Jesus Christ is and then sets out to “prove” this throughout the book. Scattered throughout are his warnings and encouragements. He expected his audience be warned and encouraged based on what they were taught or reminded about concerning Christ. May we also continue to be taught, warned, and encouraged as we continue our study!

Here are my questions for Hebrews 10, and here is the pdf: Hebrews 10 Questions

Hebrews 10 Questions

1. What can the law never do by its same, yearly, continual sacrifices? Why?

2. If the law could make its worshipers perfect, what would the worshipers have done? Because they would have been what?

3. What did these yearly sacrifices remind the worshipers?

4. The yearly sacrifices were necessary because what is impossible?

5. “Consequently” (because animals’ blood cannot take away sins), when Christ came to earth, he said what? (Summarize vv 5-7 in your own words; also note the source of the quotation.)

6. Verses 8-10 go on to explain verses 5-7. What are offered according to the law?

7. Christ’s statement about his coming to do God’s will does what, according to v9?

8. What was God’s will for which Jesus Christ came? What did it accomplish?

9. What does “every priest” daily do, and what does it (not) accomplish?

10. BUT WHEN CHRIST had offered what? What did he do after that? (cf. 1:3b)

11. What is Christ waiting for at the right hand of God? (cf. 1:13; 2:7-8)

12. What had Christ done by offering himself (cf. v10) as a single offering? (Note the tenses of the verbs in v14.)

13. The author again quotes God’s promise of the new covenant. It seems like the truth he wants to emphasize this time is what he “adds” in v17. What truth is that?

14. The author brings to a conclusion the argument he began in v1 with the priests’ continual offering of animals’ blood not bringing final forgiveness of sins. What does he conclude in v18?

{I marked every reference to what the sacrifices could/could not (in the case of the animal sacrifices) do in vv 1-18. All of these terms describe the work of salvation in different ways.}

15. “Since we have” what 2 things in vv 19-21?

16. What are the “holy places” that we can enter? (You’ll have to check cross-references and draw a conclusion.)

{Remember the context of this statement about entering holy places. Chapter 9 had just talked about how only the high priest could go into the Most Holy Place once a year, following all the proper procedures. If you didn’t read about the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16, make sure you read it now to understand the gravity of this.}

17. By what do we have confidence to enter the holy places (vv 19-20)?

18. What is the curtain in v 20?

19. What is the new and living way opened for us through Jesus’ death, do you think?

20. Since we have confidence to enter the holy places and since we have a great high priest, what should we do (“Let us. . .” vv 22, 23, 24)?

21. How should we draw near? What is the condition of our hearts (and bodies?)?

22. To what should we hold fast? How? Why?

23. We should consider how to do what?

24. In doing the above, what should we not neglect (although some make this a habit)?

25. In not neglecting the above, what should we be doing, especially as we see the “Day drawing near”?

26. What do you think the “Day” is that is drawing near?

27. Immediately following this encouragement to not neglect to meet together and rather to encourage each other in light of the Day drawing near is a section connected to it by the word “For. . .” For if we what?

28. If we sin deliberately after receiving the truth, what no longer remains?

29. Rather, what can these people expect?

30. Again, we have another comparison in vv 28-29. What is being compared?

31. When one deliberately sins after receiving the truth, what has he done in the terms of v29?

32. What truths does the author remind us of about God that make it a “fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” for one such as this (vv 30-31)?

33. In contrast, the author asks them to remember what time?

34. After these believers had been “enlightened,” what sufferings did they endure? How did they respond?

35. Why did they respond the way they did?

36. “Therefore” what should they not now do? Why?

37. What do they need? Why?

38. What passage is quoted that backs up the guarantee that they will receive what is promised?

39. How would this passage encourage them to endure?

40. In contrast to one who “shrinks back,” how does the author view himself and his hearers? Not as. . . but as. . . ?

{Try to tie these sections together in your mind. There is a connection between the author’s theological “sermons” about the superiority of Christ/his sacrifice and the practical warnings/encouragement. Jesus’ better sacrifice enables our confident entrance into fellowship with God. We hold fast to what we believe about God and we obey from a heart that has been changed by him. One of the specific applications of obedience is mentioned in the middle of the passage—regularly meeting together with believers for encouragement, followed immediately by a warning that disobedience makes light of Jesus’ sacrifice. This is immediately followed by a reminder of how they had proven faithful and obedient in the midst of suffering in the past and an encouragement to continue to do so. What do you think the current situation may have been and what do you think some were doing/tempted to do? Also, take a look at chapter 11 to see the author’s continued appeal to them by way of listing OT examples of faith in the midst of struggles and sufferings.}

“But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Heb 10:12-14 ESV).

 

4.11.20 Updated to Add: Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t completed this week’s study on your own, wait to read my notes until you’ve done so.

10:1-18. The Benefits of the New Covenant

10:1-2. The Law is just a shadow of the good things to come; Jesus is the reality to which the shadow pointed (cf. 9:11) It can’t make perfect those who draw near (cf. 7:11, 19; 9:9). If it could have, worshipers would no longer have been conscious of their sins and would have stopped sacrificing.

10:3-4. So, if the animal sacrifices could not take away sins, what was their purpose? They were a continual reminder of their sins.

“Although the Day of Atonement ritual assured Israel that the Lord could forgive sins, the ceremony had to be repeated year after year. . . . Sin was not dealt with decisively until Jesus died on the cross, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. God required animal sacrifices to teach Israel to look to him for cleansing and to show the need for a penalty to be paid for sin (cf. Lv. 17:11). But it was the destiny of the Messiah to pay that penalty by means of his death and so provide salvation, even for those who sinned in OT times (cf. 9:15).”[1]

10:5-10. Psalm 40:6-8 is here quoted and applied to Christ when he came into the world (at his incarnation; cf 1:6). Vv 8-10 explain the application. God’s ultimate pleasure and desire were not in the sacrifices and offering of the Old Covenant/Law. Instead, God sent Jesus to accomplish God’s will of sanctifying believers (the work done in the hearts of believers as promised in the new covenant—cf. v16) through the offering of Jesus Christ once for all. By this act, God put away the first covenant and established the second.

“The words of Ps. 40:6–8 are attributed to Christ when he came into the world because they find absolute fulfilment in his life. David the psalmist went further than many other OT writers in emphasizing the powerlessness of sacrifices in themselves to please God. . . . The whole system was designed to encourage and make possible the willing self-offering of the people to God, as indicated by the words I have come to do your will, O God. In the body that was prepared for the Son of God, he lived a life of perfect obedience to the Father, culminating in his death as an unblemished sacrifice (cf. 9:14). He came to set aside the ancient sacrificial system and bring about the obedience to God which was always the intention behind the rituals. He found the Father’s will expressed in Scripture.”[2]

10:11-14. When Old Testament priests offered daily sacrifices that could never take away sins, Christ offered FOR ALL TIME a single sacrifice by which he could actually perfect (past tense) FOR ALL TIME those who are being sanctified/made holy (present progressive). The nature of Christ’s single sacrifice as priest being completed is seen in his then sitting down at the right hand of God (cf. 1:3b, 13; 2:7-8; 8:1), waiting to make his enemies his footstool—to fully reveal his role as King (2:5-8).

10:15-18. Again the author quotes part of the New Covenant promise (with the guarantee of the Holy Spirit) that God’s laws are written on the hearts and minds of believers with special emphasis it seems on the aspect of God’s choosing to remember our sins no more. Whereas the purpose of OT sacrifices was to remind Israel of their sins (and thus keep the remembrance of sins continually before God with continual sacrifices), Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice allows for God to not remember our sins any more, bringing full forgiveness and eliminating the need for any more offerings.

Before moving on the next section, here is another chart comparing the Old Covenant/Law with the New Covenant/Jesus.

Old Covenant/Law New Covenant/Jesus
Shadow of good things to come (8:5) Reality of the good things (9:11)
Repeated animal sacrifices yearly Jesus offered himself once for all
Sacrifices can never perfect those who draw near, but only remind of sin Jesus’ sacrifice can perfect, cleanse, sanctify, take away sins, and God will forgive/remember sins no more
Cannot perfect the conscience (9:9) Perfects/cleanses conscience (v22; 9:14)
Worshipers draw somewhat near with fear (12:11, 21) Worshipers draw near with confidence and full assurance of faith
Death for those who set the law aside Much worse judgment for ignoring/profaning Jesus

10:19-39. A Call to Hold Fast

10:19-21. Remember way back in chapter 5 that the author introduced Jesus as a high priest, then stated that he had much to say about it (which he did!), but then said it was too hard for them? Well, he pushed them toward maturity and explained it all in chapters 7-10, and he here summarizes these truths for them: We have confidence to enter the holy places because we have a great priest in Jesus who offered his own blood for us.

Chapter 6:19-20 had spoken of our hope that “enters into the inner place behind the curtain. . . where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf.” After Jesus’ sacrifice of himself for our sins and his resurrection, Jesus was exalted into heaven to stand in the presence of God (“the inner place behind the curtain”), offering his blood to God on behalf of our sins. Our hope and our confidence is in Jesus’ blood. We can follow Jesus into God’s presence with confidence. Just as the curtain was what the OT priests went through to enter into God’s presence in the Most Holy Place, Jesus’ death is how we enter into God’s presence.

10:22-25. Our entrance into God’s presence is with confidence, with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience, with an unwavering hope in the faithful God who promises these things. Our bodies being washed with pure water is perhaps language that shows (in terms of OT cleansing rituals) the completeness and effectiveness of God’s saving work (and perhaps points to baptism as an outward symbol of this heart cleansing? Cf. 1 Pet 3:21).

The author asks for three responses (“Let us. . .”) to the saving, interceding work of Jesus:

1. Draw near (to God) with our now-clean hearts by Jesus’ blood with confidence and faith.

2. Hold fast without wavering to our confession of hope, because God is faithful.

3. Consider how to stir up other believers to love and good works by. . .

a. Not neglecting to meet together with each other (as some were). “The writer uses a term for their meeting (Gk. episynagōgē, ‘assembly’) that is parallel in sense to ‘church’ and suggests a formal gathering of some kind. A few of their number are in the habit of neglecting this responsibility. The warning about apostasy that follows (26–39) implies that people who deliberately and persistently abandon the fellowship of Christian believers are in danger of abandoning the Lord himself!”[3]

b. Encouraging one another, especially in light of the Day (of judgment; cf. vv 27-31; 1 Cor 3:13) coming near. “As in 3:13, such encouragement is best understood as involving a form of exhortation based on Scripture, following the writer’s own example in his ‘word of exhortation’ (13:22). The urgency of this is underlined by an allusion to the nearness of Christ’s return and the final judgment (and all the more as you see the Day approaching).”[4]

10:26-28. “For” in v26 seems to connect this deliberate sinning after having received truth (cf. 6:4; 2 Pet 2:20-21) to the specific sin of habitually not meeting with God’s people.

“It would be a mistake to think that this merely referred to the sinful behaviour which is sadly evident in all of our lives. The context and the parallel with previous passages indicate that the writer has on view the specific sin of apostasy or continuing rejection of Christ. If, through the gospel, people have received the knowledge of the truth and then turn their backs on that truth, no sacrifice for sins is left. There is no alternative way of forgiveness and acceptance with God apart from the death of his Son. To abandon that once-for-all sacrifice for sins is to abandon all hope of salvation.”[5]

The result of this refusal to obey:

1. There is no sacrifice/forgiveness of sins for them (cf. 6:6)

2. Rather, they should expect judgment (2:3; 12:25) and fury of fire (cf. Isa 26:11; Zeph 1:18; 3:8; 2 Thess 1:8) to consume the adversaries. Their punishment if that of God’s enemies.

3. If even under the OT law, those who willfully disobeyed were killed (cf. Deut 17:2-6), how much worse will be those who spurn Christ?

10:29-31. There is much worse punishment for those who claimed to be sanctified by the blood of Christ and have then rejected him, because their rejection actually tramples underfoot the Son of God (cf. 6:6—crucifying him again and holding him up to contempt), profanes the blood of the covenant, and outrages the Spirit of grace. The author quotes Deut 32:35-36, which says that God is the one who takes vengeance and will judge. He concludes that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

10:32-34. The author uses this fear of judgment for those who don’t persevere as well as remembering their past perseverance during suffering to encourage them on to continued obedience in the midst of difficulty. He tells them to remember the time after they first became believers, when they endured through suffering—public exposure to reproach and afflictions themselves or just being partnered with those being treated that way. Their response during that suffering marked their obedience and their confident hope and faith. Their responses included compassion on those in imprisoned and joyful acceptance of the plundering of their property. Why did they do this? They knew that they had a better, abiding possession waiting for them (cf. 1 Pet 1:4).

“They knew that Jesus had made it possible for them to inherit better and lasting possessions (cf. 13:14) and this controlled their thinking about the present and its values.”[6]

10:35-36. So now, they should continue to hang tight on to their confidence which has great reward (that future, abiding, better possession). Just as they endured then, they should now endure (perhaps that meant in part meeting together despite religious persecution? Cf v25). Persevering endurance brings reward (while quitting in disobedience brings judgment).

10:37-39. The author quotes from Hab 2:3-4 (and perhaps some of Isa 26:20) to speak of one coming in a little while—the implication is that Christ will come to judge (cf. vv 25, 30-31). If one “shrinks back” from his profession of faith, God has no pleasure in him. Those who shrink back and with whom God has no pleasure are destroyed. Yet, the author is confident that he and his readers are not those who shrink back, but rather are those who have faith and preserve their souls.

Note also the “hook word” faith, introducing the next section on faith.

[1] Peterson, D. G. (1994). Hebrews. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 1343). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid., 1345.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

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