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A Call to Persevere

19 Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

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19. Here begins the third and last division of the Epistle; our duty now while waiting for the Lord's second advent. Resumption and expansion of the exhortation (Heb 4:14-16; compare Heb 10:22, 23 here) wherewith he closed the first part of the Epistle, preparatory to his great doctrinal argument, beginning at Heb 7:1.

boldness—"free confidence," grounded on the consciousness that our sins have been forgiven.

to enter—literally, "as regards the entering."

byGreek, "in"; it is in the blood of Jesus that our boldness to enter is grounded. Compare Eph 3:12, "In whom we have boldness and access with confidence." It is His having once for all entered as our Forerunner (Heb 6:20) and High Priest (Heb 10:21), making atonement for us with His blood, which is continually there (Heb 12:24) before God, that gives us confident access. No priestly caste now mediates between the sinner and his Judge. We may come boldly with loving confidence, not with slavish fear, directly through Christ, the only mediating Priest. The minister is not officially nearer God than the layman; nor can the latter serve God at a distance or by deputy, as the natural man would like. Each must come for himself, and all are accepted when they come by the new and living way opened by Christ. Thus all Christians are, in respect to access directly to God, virtually high priests (Re 1:6). They draw nigh in and through Christ, the only proper High Priest (Heb 7:25).

20. which, &c.—The antecedent in the Greek is "the entering"; not as English Version, "way." Translate, "which (entering) He has consecrated (not as though it were already existing, but has been the first to open, INAUGURATED as a new thing; see on Heb 9:18, where the Greek is the same) for us (as) a new (Greek, 'recent'; recently opened, Ro 16:25, 26) and living way" (not like the lifeless way through the law offering of the blood of dead victims, but real, vital, and of perpetual efficacy, because the living and life-giving Saviour is that way. It is a living hope that we have, producing not dead, but living, works). Christ, the first-fruits of our nature, has ascended, and the rest is sanctified thereby. "Christ's ascension is our promotion; and whither the glory of the Head hath preceded, thither the hope of the body, too, is called" [Leo].

the veil—As the veil had to be passed through in order to enter the holiest place, so the weak, human suffering flesh (Heb 5:7) of Christ's humanity (which veiled His God head) had to be passed through by Him in entering the heavenly holiest place for us; in putting off His rent flesh, the temple veil, its type, was simultaneously rent from top to bottom (Mt 27:51). Not His body, but His weak suffering flesh, was the veil; His body was the temple (Joh 2:19).

21. high priest—As a different Greek term (archiereus) is used always elsewhere in this Epistle for "high priest," translate as Greek here, "A Great Priest"; one who is at once King and "Priest on His throne" (Zec 6:13); a royal Priest, and a priestly King.

house of God—the spiritual house, the Church, made up of believers, whose home is heaven, where Jesus now is (Heb 12:22, 23). Thus, by "the house of God," over which Jesus is, heaven is included in meaning, as well as the Church, whose home it is.

22. (Heb 4:16; 7:19.)

with a true heart—without hypocrisy; "in truth, and with a perfect heart"; a heart thoroughly imbued with "the truth" (Heb 10:26).

full assurance—(Heb 6:11); with no doubt as to our acceptance when coming to God by the blood of Christ. As "faith" occurs here, so "hope," and "love," Heb 10:23, 24.

sprinkled from—that is, sprinkled so as to be cleansed from.

evil conscience—a consciousness of guilt unatoned for, and uncleansed away (Heb 10:2; Heb 9:9). Both the hearts and the bodies are cleansed. The legal purifications were with blood of animal victims and with water, and could only cleanse the flesh (Heb 9:13, 21). Christ's blood purifies the heart and conscience. The Aaronic priest, in entering the holy place, washed with water (Heb 9:19) in the brazen laver. Believers, as priests to God, are once for all washed in BODY (as distinguished from "hearts") at baptism. As we have an immaterial, and a material nature, the cleansing of both is expressed by "hearts" and "body," the inner and the outer man; so the whole man, material and immaterial. The baptism of the body, however, is not the mere putting away of material filth, nor an act operating by intrinsic efficacy, but the sacramental seal, applied to the outer man, of a spiritual washing (1Pe 3:21). "Body" (not merely "flesh," the carnal part, as 2Co 7:1) includes the whole material man, which needs cleansing, as being redeemed, as well as the soul. The body, once polluted with sin, is washed, so as to be fitted like Christ's holy body, and by His body, to be spiritually a pure and living offering. On the "pure water," the symbol of consecration and sanctification, compare Joh 19:34; 1Co 6:11; 1Jo 5:6; Eze 36:25. The perfects "having … hearts sprinkled … body (the Greek is singular) washed," imply a continuing state produced by a once-for-all accomplished act, namely, our justification by faith through Christ's blood, and consecration to God, sealed sacramentally by the baptism of our body.