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THE general subject of this chapter is the sacrifice which Christ has made for sin, and the consequences which flow from the fact that he has made a sufficient atonement. In chapter 9 the apostle had shown that the Jewish rites were designed to be temporary and typical, and that the offerings which were made under that dispensation could never remove sin. In this chapter he shows that the true sacrifice had been made by which sin could be pardoned, and that certain very important consequences followed from that fact. The subject of sacrifice was the most important part of the Jewish economy, and was also the essential thing in the Christian dispensation; and hence it is that the apostle dwells upon it at so great length. The chapter embraces the following topics.

I. The apostle repeats what he had said before about the inefficacy of the sacrifices made under the law, Heb 10:1-4. The law was a mere shadow of good things to come, and the sacrifices which were made under it could never render those who offered them perfect. This was conclusively proved by the fact that they continued constantly to be offered.

II. Since this was the fact in regard to those sacrifices, a better offering had been provided in the gospel by the Redeemer, Heb 10:5-10. A body had been prepared him for this work; and when God had said that he had no pleasure in the offerings under the law, Christ had come and offered his body once for all in order that an effectual atonement might be made for sin.

III. This sentiment the apostle further illustrates by showing how this one great Offering was connected with the forgiveness of sins, Heb 10:11-18. Under the Jewish dispensation sacrifices were repeated every day; but under the Christian economy, when the sacrifice was once made, he who had offered it sat down for ever on the right hand of God—for his great work was done. Having done this, he looked forward to the time when his work would have full effect, and when his enemies would be made his footstool. That this was to be the effect of the offering made by the Messiah the apostle then shows from the Scriptures themselves, where it is said, (Jer 31:33,34,) that under the gospel the laws of God would be written on the heart, and sin would be remembered no more. There must then be, the apostle inferred, some way by which this was to be secured, and this was by the great Sacrifice on the cross, which had the effect of perfecting for ever those who were sanctified.

IV. Since it was a fact that such an atonement had been made —that one great offering for sin had been presented to God, which was never to be repeated—there were certain consequences which followed from that, which the apostle proceeds to state, Heb 10:19-25. They were these:

(a.) the privilege of drawing near to God with full assurance of faith, Heb 10:22;

(b.) the duty of holding fast the profession of faith without wavering, Heb 10:23;

(c.) the duty of exhorting one another to fidelity and to good works, Heb 10:24;

(d.) the duty of assembling for public worship, since they had a High Priest in heaven, and might now draw near to God, Heb 10:25.

V. As a reason for fidelity in the divine life, and for embracing the offer of mercy now made through the one Sacrifice on the cross, the apostle urges the consequence which must follow from the rejection of that atonement, and especially after having been made acquainted with the truth, Heb 10:26-31. The result, he says, must be certain destruction. If that was rejected, there could remain nothing but a fearful looking for of judgment, for there was no other way of salvation. In support of this, the apostle refers to what was the effect, under the law of Moses, of disobedience, and says that under the greater light of the gospel much more fearful results must follow.

VI. The chapter closes (Heb 10:32-39) with an exhortation to fidelity and perseverance. The apostle reminds those to whom he wrote of what they had already endured; encourages them by the commendation of what they had already done, and especially by the kindness which they had shown to him; says that they had need only of patience, and that the time of their deliverance from all trial was not far off, for that he who was to come would come; says that it was their duty to live by faith, but that if any one drew back, God could have no pleasure in him. Having thus, in the close of the chapter alluded to the subject of faith, he proceeds in the following chapter to illustrate its value at length. The object of the whole is to encourage Christians to make strenuous efforts for salvation; to guard them against the danger of apostasy; and to exhort them to bear their trials with patience and with submission to the will of God.

Verse 1. For the law, having a shadow. That is, the whole of the Mosaic economy was a shadow; for so the word law is often used. The word shadow here refers to a rough outline of anything, a mere sketch, such as a carpenter draws with a piece of chalk, or such as an artist delineates when he is about to make a picture. He sketches an outline of the object which he designs to draw, which has some resemblance to it, but is not "the very image;" for it is not yet complete. The words rendered "the very image" refer to a painting or statue which is finished, where every part is an exact copy of the original. The "good things to come" here refer to the future blessings which would be conferred on man by the gospel. The idea is, that under the ancient sacrifices there was an imperfect representation; a dim outline of the blessings which the gospel would impart to men. They were a typical representation; they were not such that it could be pretended that they would answer the purpose of the things themselves Which they were to represent, and would make those who offered them perfect. Such a rude outline —such a mere sketch, or imperfect delineation—could no more answer the purpose of saving the soul than the rough sketch which an architect makes would answer the purpose of a house, or than the first outline which a painter draws would answer the purpose of a perfect and finished portrait. All that could be done by either would be to convey some distant and obscure idea of what the house or the picture might be, and this was all that was done by the law of Moses.

Can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually. The sacrifices here particularly referred to were those which were offered on the great day of atonement. These were regarded as the most sacred and efficacious of all; and yet the apostle says that the very fact that they were offered every year showed that there must be some deficiency about them, or they would have ceased to be offered.

Make the comers there unto perfect. They could not free them from the stains of guilt; they could not give ease to a troubled conscience; there was in them no efficacy by which sin could be put away. Comp. See Barnes "Heb 7:11,

See Barnes "9:9".


{a} "shadow" Col 2:17 {*} "image" "reality" chap. vii. 11; ix. 9.

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