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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE HEBREWS - Chapter 10 - Verse 29
Verse 29. Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy. That is, he who renounces Christianity ought to be regarded as deserving a much severer punishment than the man who apostatized from the Jewish religion, and if he ought to be so regarded he will be—for God will treat every man as he ought to be treated. This must refer to future punishment, for the severest punishment was inflicted on the apostate from the Jewish religion which can be in this world—death; and yet the apostle here says that a severer punishment than that would be deserved by him who should apostatize from the Christian faith. The reasons why so much severer punishment would be deserved are such as these: The Author of the Christian system was far more exalted than Moses, the founder of the Jewish system; he had revealed more important truths; he had increased and confirmed the motives to holiness; he had furnished more means for leading a holy life; he had given himself as a sacrifice to redeem the soul from death; and he had revealed with far greater clearness the truth that there is a heaven of glory and of holiness. He who should apostatize from the Christian faith, the apostle goes on to say, would also be guilty of the most aggravated crime of which man could be guilty —the crime of trampling under foot the Son of God, of showing contempt for his holy blood, and despising the Spirit of grace.
Who hath trodden under foot the Son of God. This language is taken either from the custom of ancient conquerors who were accustomed to tread on the necks of their enemies in token of their being subdued, or from the fact that men tread on that which they despise and contemn. The idea is, that he who should apostatize from the Christian faith would act as if he should indignantly and contemptuously trample on God's only Son. What crime could be more aggravated than this?
Wherewith he was sanctified. Made holy, or set apart to the service of God. The word sanctify is used in both these senses. Prof. Stuart renders it, "by which expiation is made;" and many others, in accordance with this view, have supposed that it refers to the Lord Jesus. But it seems to me that it refers to the person who is here supposed to renounce the Christian religion, or to apostatize from it. The reasons for this are such as these.
(1.) It is the natural and proper meaning of the word here rendered sanctified. This word is commonly applied to Christians in the sense that they are made holy. See Ac 20:32; 26:18; 1 Co 1:2; Jude 1:1.
(2.) It is unusual to apply this word to the Saviour. It is true, indeed, that he says, (Joh 17:19,) "for their sakes I sanctify myself," but there is no instance in which he says that he was sanctified by his own blood. And where is there an instance in which the word is used as meaning "to make expiation?"
(3.) The supposition that it refers to one who is here spoken of as in danger of apostasy, and not of the Lord Jesus, agrees with the scope of the argument. The apostle is showing the great guilt, and the certain destruction, of one who should apostatize from the Christian religion. In doing this, it was natural to speak of the dishonour which would thus be done to the means which had been used for his sanctification—the blood of the Redeemer. It would be treating it as if it were a common thing, or as if it might be disregarded, like anything else which was of no value.
An unholy thing. Gr. common; often used in the sense of unholy. The word is so used because that which was holy was separated from a common to a sacred use. What was not thus consecrated was free to all, or was for common use, and hence also the word is used to denote that which is unholy.
And hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace. The Holy Spirit, called the "Spirit of grace," because he confers favour or grace on men. The meaning of the phrase "done despite unto"— enubrisav —is, "having reproached, or treated with malignity or contempt?" The idea is, that if they were thus to apostatize, they would by such an act treat the Spirit of God with disdain and contempt. It was by him that they had been renewed; by him that they had been brought to embrace the Saviour, and to love God; by him that they had any holy feelings or pure desires; and if they now apostatized from religion, such an act would be, in fact, treating the Holy Spirit with the highest indignity. It would be saying that all his influences were valueless, and that they needed no help from him. From such considerations, the apostle shows that if a true Christian were to apostatize nothing would remain for him but the terrific prospect of eternal condemnation. He would have rejected the only Saviour; he would have, in fact, treated him with the highest indignity; he would have considered his sacred blood, shed to sanctify men, as a common thing, and would have shown the highest disregard for the only agent who can save the soul—the Spirit of God. How could such an one afterwards be saved? The apostle does not indeed say that any one ever would thus apostatize from the true religion, nor is there any reason to believe that such a case ever has occurred; but if it should occur the doom would be inevitable. How dangerous, then, is every step which would lead to such a precipice! And how strange and unscriptural the opinion held by so many that sincere Christians may "fall away," and be renewed again and again!
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