Pristine Grace

Heb 10:1-10, (GILL)
1  INTRODUCTION TO HEBREWS 10

In this chapter the apostle pursues his argument, showing the weakness and imperfection of the Levitical priesthood, and the superior excellency of Christ's, which he closes with suitable exhortations to faith on Christ, as the alone high priest, and to a constant profession of him. The imperfection of the Levitical priesthood is proved, from the law by which it was established, being only a shadow of good things to come; from the insufficiency of annual sacrifices to perfect the comers to them, or to purge the consciences of the worshippers from sin; and from the non-cessation of these sacrifices which would have been, if the above ends could have been answered by them, Heb 10:1, but on the contrary, by the annual return of these sacrifices, sins are afresh remembered, and very good reason there is for it, since it is an impossible thing that the blood of slain beasts should take away sin, Heb 10:3 moreover, the apostle proves the insufficiency of such sacrifices, by a divine testimony, out of Ps 40:6 by which it appears, that they are not agreeable to the will of God, and are rejected by him as useless, Heb 10:5 and this leads the apostle to discourse of the excellency of Christ's sacrifice above them; that they are taken away, and his is substituted in their room; that as they are not agreeable to the will of God, his is a fulfilment of it; that though they could not expiate sin, yet by the offering up of the body of Christ, once for all, his people are sanctified, or their sins are expiated, Heb 10:9 and this is further illustrated by a comparison between the priests under the law, and Christ; they were many, he but one; they daily offered the same sacrifices, he offered but one sacrifice; theirs could not take away sin, by his offering he has perfectly expiated the sins of his people; they stood daily ministering, their work being never at an end; he is set down at the right hand of God, expecting his enemies to be made his footstool, having done his work to perfection, Heb 10:11 and that legal sacrifices are ceased, and no more to be used, is proved by a testimony of the Holy Ghost, out of Jer 31:33 relating to the covenant of grace, among the promises of which stands that of the forgiveness of sin; from whence the apostle justly concludes, that where remission of sin is, there is, and there needs no more offering for it, Heb 10:15 and from hence, the apostle passes to exhortations to the exercise of grace, and discharge of duty, which he strongly urges from the consideration of Christ's priesthood, and the efficacy of it: and first, he presses them to the duty of prayer, to draw nigh to God to the throne of his grace. The manner in which he would have them approach to God, is in the sincerity of their hearts, in a plerophory of faith, an high and full exercise of it, and impurity of soul and body: the motives or encouragements to it are taken from their having boldness and liberty to enter by faith into heaven itself with their prayers, through the blood of Jesus; from there being a new and living way opened for them through, the flesh of Christ; and from their having such an high priest over the house of God as he is, Heb 10:19, and next he exhorts them to a constant and steadfast profession of their faith, to which he animates them by the faithfulness of a promising God, who will never leave nor forsake his people, Heb 10:23 and then to consider one another in their church relation, and to stir up one another to the exercise of the grace of love, and to the performance of good works, Heb 10:24, and also not to forsake their public assemblies, as was the custom of some, but to exhort each other to greater diligence in attending there, especially since they might observe that a time of great tribulation was at hand, Heb 10:25 and in order to deter from apostasy, which is expressed by a sinning wilfully, after a man has received and professed the knowledge of the truth, the apostle observes that the destruction of such is inevitable; since there never will be another propitiatory sacrifice offered up, and therefore there can be no other than a dreadful expectation of an awful judgment, and of the wrath of God, which, like a consuming fire, will destroy such adversaries of Christ, Heb 10:26 the justice of which is argued from the less to the greater; that if the transgressors of the law of Moses had no mercy shown them, but died when there were proper and sufficient witnesses of their crimes, then such must be deserving of a far greater punishment, who treat with the greatest rudeness the person of the Son of God, and his precious blood, and with the greatest contempt the person and grace of the Holy Spirit, Heb 10:28, and such persons have reason to expect the vengeance of God will fall on them, since it is threatened them in the word of God, De 32:35 and a dreadful thing it is to fall into his hands, Heb 10:30. But in order to encourage these believing Hebrews to hold on and out unto the end, the apostle puts them in mind of their good beginning, how well they set out, and how bravely they behaved, by bearing afflictions and reproaches themselves; by being the companions of those that were afflicted and reproached; by having compassion on the apostle when in bonds; and by cheerfully suffering the loss of their goods upon this consideration, that they had in heaven a better and a more enduring substance, Heb 10:32 wherefore it would be exceeding wrong and very unbecoming, after all this, to drop their faith and a profession of it, which otherwise would issue in the enjoyment of the great recompense of reward, Heb 10:35 and as patience is necessary, it is right to exercise it under sufferings for Christ's sake, partly because it is doing the will of God, and partly because that after that is done, such shall receive the promised happiness; and what may serve the more to engage to the exercise of it is, it is but a little while and Christ will come and put an end to all the sufferings of his people, Heb 10:36 and that faith should be in exercise, is proved from a divine testimony, Hab 2:4 and so must be pleasing to God, when the contrary is highly resented by him, Heb 10:38 and now, lest the believing Hebrews should conclude from all this that the apostle suspected them as going into apostasy, he declares his belief, that he and they were not in the number of apostates, but of believers, whose souls would be saved, Heb 10:39

For the law having a shadow of good things to come,.... By which is meant not the moral law, for that is not a shadow of future blessings, but a system of precepts; the things it commands are not figuratively, but really good and honest; and are not obscure, but plain and easy to be understood; nor are they fleeting and passing away, as a shadow, but lasting and durable: but the ceremonial law is intended; this was a "shadow", a figure, a representation of something true, real, and substantial; was dark and obscure, yet had in it, and gave, some glimmering light; and was like a shadow, fleeting and transitory: and it was a shadow of good things; of Christ himself, who is the body, the sum and substance of it, and of the good things to come by him; as the expiation of sin, peace and reconciliation, a justifying righteousness, pardon of sin, and eternal life; these are said to be "to come", as they were under the former dispensation, while the ceremonial law was in force, and that shadow was in being, and the substance not as yet.

And not the very image of the things; as it had not neither the things themselves, nor Christ, the substance of them, so it did not give a clear revelation of them, as is made in the Gospel, nor exhibit a distinct delineation of them, such as an image expresses; it only gave some short and dark hints of future good things, but did not exactly describe them: and therefore

can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually: namely, the sacrifices of bullocks and goats, which were offered on the day of atonement, year after year, in successive generations, from the first appointment of that day, to the writing of this epistle: sacrifices of such a kind, and so often repeated, could never

make the comers thereunto perfect; either the people that came to the temple, and brought them to the priests to offer them for them, or the priests that offered them; so the Syriac and Ethiopic versions render it, "perfect them that offer"; and if not one, then not the other: legal sacrifices could not make perfect expiation of sin; there is no proportion between them and sin: nor did they extend to all sin, and at most only typically expiated; nor could they justify and cleanse from sin. Contrary to this, the Jews [p] say,

"when Israel was in the holy land, there was no iniquity found in them, for the sacrifices which they offered every day stoned for them;''

but spiritual sacrificers and worshippers were expiated, justified, and cleansed another way, even by the blood of Christ, slain from the foundation of the world in purpose, promise, and type, and to which their faith had respect in every sacrifice.

[p] Zohar in Gen. fol. 107. 1.

2  For then would they not have ceased to be offered,.... The Complutensian edition, and the Syriac and Vulgate Latin versions, leave out the word "not"; and the sense requires it should be omitted, for the meaning is, that if perfection had been by the legal sacrifices, they would have ceased to have been offered; for if the former ones had made perfect, there would have been no need of others, or of the repetition of the same; but because they did not make perfect, therefore they were yearly renewed; unless the words are read with an interrogation, as they are in the Arabic version, "for then would they not have ceased to be offered?" yes, they would; they are indeed ceased now, but this is owing to Christ and his sacrifice, and not to the efficacy of these sacrifices; for yearly sacrifices were offered for former sins, as well as for fresh ones, as appears from the following verse.

Because the worshippers, once purged, would have had no more conscience of sins; there are external and internal worshippers; the latter are such who worship God in Spirit and in truth: but here ceremonial worshippers are meant, who, if they had been really purged from sin by legal sacrifices, and purifications, would have had no more conscience of sins, and so have had no need to have repeated them; as such spiritual worshippers, who are once purged from sin by the blood and sacrifice of Christ; not that they have no sin, or no sense of sin, or that their consciences are seared, or that they never accuse for sin, or that they are to make no confession and acknowledgment of sin; but that they are discharged from the guilt of sin, and are not liable to condemnation for it; and through the application of the blood of Christ to them, have peace with God, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

3  But in those sacrifices,.... The Arabic version reads, "but in it"; that is, in the law; but the Syriac version reads, and supplies, as we do, Nwhb axbdb, "in those sacrifices", which were offered every year on the day of atonement:

there is a remembrance of sins made again every year; of all the sins that were committed the year past, and even of those that were expiated typically by the daily sacrifice, and others that had been offered; which proves the imperfection and insufficiency of such sacrifices: there was a remembrance of sins by God, before whom the goats were presented, their blood was sprinkled, and the people cleansed, Le 16:7 and there was a remembrance of them by the people, who, on that day, afflicted their souls for them, Le 16:29 and there was a remembrance of them by the high priest, who confessed them over, and put them upon the head of the goat, Le 16:21 by which it was owned, that these sins were committed; that they deserved death, the curse of the law; that the expiation of them was undertook by another, typified by the goat; that this was not yet done, and therefore there was no remission, but a typical one, by these sacrifices; but that sins remained, and required a more perfect sacrifice, which was yet to be offered up. Legal sacrifices were so far from inducing an oblivion of sins, that they themselves brought them to remembrance, and were so many acknowledgments of them. Though Philo the Jew thinks the contrary, and gives this as a reason why the heart and brain were not offered in sacrifice, because

"it would be foolish, that the sacrifices should cause, not a forgetfulness of sins, but a remembrance of them [q].''

[q] De Victimis, p. 841.

4  For it is not possible,.... There is a necessity of sin being taken away, otherwise it will be remembered; and there will be a conscience of it, and it must be answered for, or it will remain marked, and the curse and penalty of the law must take place: but it is impossible

that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins; which was shed on the day of atonement: sin is a breach of the moral law, but these sacrifices belong to, the ceremonial law, which are less acceptable to God than moral duties; sin is committed against God, and has an objective infiniteness in it, and therefore can never be atoned for by the blood of such creatures; it leaves a stain on the mind and conscience, which this blood cannot reach; besides, this is not the same blood, nor of the same kind with the person that has sinned; yea, if this could take away sin, it would do more than the blood of the man himself could do; such blood shed can never answer the penalty of the law, satisfy divine justice, or secure the honour of divine holiness: but what the blood of these creatures could not do, the blood of Christ has done, and does: that takes away sin from the sight of justice, and from the consciences of the saints. Compare with this the Septuagint version of Jer 11:15.

"what, has the beloved committed abomination in my house? shall prayers, and the holy flesh take away thy wickednesses from thee, or by these shall thou escape?''

5  Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith,.... In Ps 40:7. This was said by David, not of himself, and his own times, for sacrifice and offering were desired and required in his times; nor was he able to do the will of God; so as to fulfil the law, and make void legal sacrifices; nor did he engage as a surety to do this; nor was it written of him in the volume of the book that he should: besides, he speaks of one that was not yet come, though ready to come, when the fulness of time should be up; and who is here spoken of as coming into the world, and who is no other than Jesus Christ; and this is to be understood, not of his coming into Judea, or the temple at Jerusalem; or out of a private, into a public life; nor of his entrance into the world to come, into heaven, into life eternal, as the Targum on Ps 40:7 paraphrases it, after he had done his work on earth, for the other world is never expressed by the world only; nor did Christ go into that to do the will of God, but to sit down there, after he had done it; besides, Christ's entrance into heaven was a going out of the world, and not into it. To which may be added, that this phrase always signifies coming into this terrene world, and intends men's coming into it at their birth; See Gill on "Joh 1:9" and must be understood of Christ's incarnation, which was an instance of great love, condescension, and grace; and the, reason of it was to do what the law, and the blood of bulls and goats, could not do. For it follows,

sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not; or didst not desire and delight in, as the word Upx, used in Ps 40:6 signifies; meaning not the sacrifices of wicked men, or such as were offered up without faith in Christ; but the ceremonial sacrifices God himself had instituted, and which were offered in the best manner; and that not merely in a comparative sense, as in Ho 6:6 but the meaning is, that God would not have these continue any longer, they being only imposed for a time, and this time being come; nor would he accept of them, as terms, conditions, and causes of righteousness, pardon, peace, and reconciliation; but he willed that his Son should offer himself an offering, and a sacrifice for a sweet smelting savour to him.

[But a] body hast thou prepared me; or "fitted for me"; a real natural body, which stands for the whole human nature; and is carefully expressed, to show that the human nature is not a person. This was prepared, in the book of God's purposes and decrees, and in the council and covenant of grace; and was curiously formed by the Holy Ghost in time, for the second Person, the Son of God, to clothe himself with, as the Syriac version renders it, "thou hast clothed me with a body"; and that he might dwell in, and in it do the will of God, and perform the work of man's redemption: in Ps 40:6 it is, "mine ears thou hast opened"; digged or bored, the ear being put for the whole body; for if he had not had a body prepared, he could not have had ears opened: besides; the phrase is expressive of Christ's assuming the form of a servant, which was done by his being found in fashion as a man, Php 2:7 and of his being a voluntary servant, and of his cheerful obedience as such, the opening, or boring of the ear, was a sign, Ex 21:5. And thus by having a true body prepared for him, and a willing mind to offer it up, he became fit for sacrifice.

6  In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin,.... Which were the principal kinds of offerings under the law:

thou hast had no pleasure; not only in comparison of moral duties, or spiritual sacrifices, such as those of praise and thanksgiving, Ps 69:30 but so as to accept of the offerers for the sake of them, and smell a sweet savour in them; for these could not satisfy his justice, appease his anger, or expiate sin; and when they were in full force, and offered in the most agreeable manner, they were no otherwise well pleasing to God, than as they were types of, and had respect unto the sacrifice of his Son. In the Hebrew text it is, "thou didst not require, or ask for"; for them, when the time was up that Christ should come into the world.

7  Then said I, lo, I come,.... Christ observing that legal sacrifices were not acceptable to God; that there was a body prepared for him; and that it was written of him in the book of God, that he should come; and the time being now come, with a note of attention and admiration, the matter being of great moment and concern, he cheerfully expresses his readiness to come, immediately, without any compulsion, even he himself, and not another.

In the volume of the book it is written of me; in the book of the law, as the, Targum and Kimchi on Ps 40:7 interpret it; and which may design the Bible in general, the whole book of the Scriptures of the Old Testament: so rpo, "the book", is used for the whole Bible [r], and it is said [s], all the whole law, that is, all Scripture, is called hlygm, "a volume"; accordingly there are things written of Christ in all the writings of the Old Testament, in the law, and in the prophets, and in the psalms. Jarchi interprets it of the law of Moses, and so it may design the pentateuch, or the five books of Moses; and there are several places therein, in which it is written of Christ, and particularly in Genesis, the first of these books, and in the head, the beginning, the frontal piece, the first part of that book; namely, Ge 3:15 which may be principally designed. Books were formerly written in rolls of parchment, and hence called volumes; See Gill on "Lu 4:17",See Gill on "Lu 4:20". The end of his coming is next expressed by him,

to do thy will, O God; which, when he came, he set about with the utmost delight, diligence, and faithfulness, in preaching the Gospel, performing miracles, doing good to the bodies and souls of men, and in finishing the great work of man's redemption, which was the main part of his Father's will he came to do; and which he did, by fulfilling the law in its precept and penalty; by offering himself a sacrifice to God; by suffering death, the death of the cross; by destroying all his and our enemies, and so working out everlasting salvation.

[r] T. Hieros, Megilla, fol. 73. 4. [s] T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 60. 1.

8  Above when he said, .... In the afore cited place, Ps 40:7

Sacrifice and offering, and burnt offerings, and offering for sin thou wouldst not, neither hadst pleasure therein; this is a recapitulation of what is before said; and all kind of sacrifices are mentioned, to show that they are all imperfect, and insufficient, and are abolished; and the abrogation of them is expressed in the strongest terms, as that God would not have them, and that he took no pleasure in them:

which are offered by the law; according as that directs and enjoins: this clause is added, to distinguish these sacrifices from spiritual ones, under the Gospel dispensation, and which are well pleasing to God; and to prevent an objection against the abolition of them, taken from hence, that they are according to the law; and yet, notwithstanding this, God will not have them, nor accept of them.

9  Then said he, [lo], I come to do thy will, O God,....See Gill on "Heb 10:7"

he taketh away the first, that he may establish the second; the sense is, either that God has taken away, and abolished the law, that he might establish the Gospel; or he has caused the first covenant to vanish away, that place might be found for the second, or new covenant; or he has changed and abrogated the priesthood of Aaron, that he might confirm the unchangeable priesthood of Christ; or rather he has taken away that which was first spoken of in the above citation, namely, sacrifice, offering, burnt offerings, and sin offerings; these he has removed and rejected as insignificant and useless, that he might establish what is mentioned in the second place; namely, the will of God, which is no other than the sacrifice of Christ, offered up according to the will of God, and by which his will is done.

10  By the which will we are sanctified,.... That is, by the sacrifice of Christ, which was willingly offered up by himself, and was according to the will of God; it was his will of purpose that Christ should be crucified and slain; and it was his will of command, that he should lay down his life for his people; and it was grateful and well pleasing to him, that his soul should be made an offering for sin; and that for this reason, because hereby the people of God are sanctified, their sins are perfectly expiated, the full pardon of them is procured, their persons are completely justified from sin, and their consciences purged from it: even

through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all; this is said, not to the exclusion of his soul; it designs his whole human nature, and that as in union with his divine person; and is particularly mentioned, in allusion to the legal sacrifices, the bodies of slain beasts, which were types of him, and with a reference to his Father's preparation of a body for him, for this purpose, Heb 10:5. Moreover, his obedience to his Father's will was chiefly seen in his body; this was offered upon the cross; and his blood, which atones for sin, and cleanses from it, was shed out of it: and this oblation was "once for all"; which gives it the preference to Levitical sacrifices; destroys the Socinian notion of Christ's continual offering himself in heaven; and confutes the error of the Popish mass, or of the offering of Christ's body in it.

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