Good theology is more than learning some truths about God, rather good theology always has practical application. In other words, good theology teaches “since this is true about God, this is what we should do in response.” The author of Hebrews had been reminding his audience of some important theological truths: the failure of the Levitical system to make perfect, the superiority of Jesus’ priesthood and offering, the taking away of the old covenant and the bringing in of the new, etc. But what did these theological truths mean for the author’s audience… what do these truths mean for us? How can this good theology be put into practice?
“Since we…” (Hebrews 10.19-21)
Before moving to the practical application of the theological truths presented, the author summarizes two blessings at the heart of these truths, each introduced with the phrase, “since we…”. The first blessing is the confidence we have to enter the holy place (vss.19-20).
- The holy place is where Jesus now is, ministering on our behalf (Hebrews 6.19-20; 8.1-2; 9.11-12,24).
- Our entrance is provided “by the blood of Jesus”. Remember, it was His blood that can completely cleanse our conscience (Hebrews 9.14) and is what perfects and sanctifies us (Hebrews 10.14).
- Our entrance is “by a new and living way”. Remember, the former way was only a “shadow” or “copy” (Hebrews 10.1). This new way has replaced the old and actually leads to life (Hebrews 8.13; 9.9).
- Our entrance has been “inaugurated” by Jesus who serves as the forerunner into the presence of God (see Hebrews 6.19-20).
- He inaugurated the entrance “through His flesh” (ESV and NASB2020). The offering of His body is what has made our access possible (see Hebrews 10.10).
The second blessing is the fact that “we have a great priest over the house of God” (vs. 21). The subject of Jesus’ priesthood has been at the heart of the author’s message (see Hebrews 8.1), but now we are reminded again that Jesus is over God’s house… a reminder of Jesus’ greatness compared to Moses (see Hebrews 3.1-6).
“… let us” (Hebrews 10.22-25)
Having summarized the blessings that spring from the theological truths established, the author moves on to three calls to action, each introduced by the phrase, “let us”. Significantly, the calls to action are formed around “faith… hope… love” the three great spiritual gifts (see 1Corinthians 13.13). “Since we… let us”
Let us draw near in faith (vs. 22). Drawing near was an impossibility under the old covenant because the offerings and sacrifices of that covenant could not make perfect (see Hebrews 10.1). But since Jesus has inaugurated the way for us, we can draw near… but we must do so in faith!
- Recall that faith was where Israel stumbled (see Hebrews 4.2).
- The author also stresses the need for sincerity of heart… the same kind of heart possessed by Jesus who committed Himself to doing the will of God (see Hebrews 10.5-9). Furthermore, our hearts have been freed from an evil conscience (see Hebrews 9.9,14).
- And our bodies have been washed. The author may be drawing on the imagery of the priests who were sprinkled with blood and their bodies washed with water (Exodus 29.4,21; Leviticus 8.6,30). Without question, baptism is in view (cf. 1Peter 3.21).
Let us hold fast in hope (vs. 23). Recall the author’s words in Hebrews 6.17-18: “In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.” We have every reason to hold fast our hope because of the proven trustworthiness of God. But, it remains up to us to hold fast to that hope… or abandon it.
Let us practice love toward each other (vss. 24-25). “the picture here is like that in Ephesians 4.16, of a church made up of interconnected members who support each other and in so doing build each other up in love. Cf. also 1Thess 5.11; Col. 3.14. When some become weak in faith and cease to contribute to the well-being of the group, the entire group suffers. It therefore behooves every member to show love to the rest, and to encourage others to continue in the good works that reflect our faith. With each one contributing to the support of the others, the Lord’s church can remain strong even in times of persecution.” (David McClister).
In vs. 25 the author stresses the importance of the assembly. “It stands to reason that no provocation to love is possible unless suitable opportunities occur for the stirring process to take effect.” (Donald Guthrie, Tyndale Bible Commentary). Significantly, the word translated as “assembly” is found in only one other passage in the NT, 2Thessalonians 2.1. “Hebrews 10:25 refers to the assembling of Christians in worship. II Thessalonians 2:1 describes the second coming of Christ. Putting these two texts together, our assembling of ourselves to worship here and now helps prepare us for the great assembling of all Christ’s people at the end of time. Also, every time we assemble to worship God, it is a foreshadowing of a greater assembling to come.” (Tommy Peeler)
Call To Continue In Faith (Hebrews 10.26-39)
Having exhorted his audience to put good theology into practice, the author warns them against continuing in willfully sinning (vss. 26-31). However, the author is confident that his audience will have the proper response given their past actions (vss. 32-36). Thus, he ends this chapter with a note of confidence: “But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” Note the following from the passage:
- Sinning willfully (vs. 26): “The concept of deliberate sin derives from Num 15:22–31, where a distinction is made between those who unintentionally transgress God’s commandments (vv 22–29) and the person who sins “defiantly,” who must be “cut off from his people” because he has despised the Lord (vv 30–31).” (William Lane, Word Biblical Commentary)
- Dies without mercy (vs. 28): see Deuteronomy 17.2-7; 13.8.
- Trampled under foot” (vs. 29): “to thoroughly despise someone or something” (Louw Nida).
- When you have done the will of God (vs. 36): Jesus came to do the Father’s will (Hebrews 10.7,9) and so it is expected that His followers will do the same.
- Of those who have faith… (vs. 39): a topic the author will explore in depth in chapter 11.
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