Hebrews 10:1-2 Commentary

Hebrews 10:1 For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: Skian gar echon (PAPMSN) o nomos ton mellonton (PAPNPG) agathon, ouk auten ten eikona ton pragmaton, kat' eniauton tais autais thusiais as prospherousin (3PPAI) eis to dienekes oudepote dunatai (3SPPI) tous proserchomenous (PMPMPA) teleiosai; (AAN)

Amplified: FOR SINCE the Law has merely a rude outline (foreshadowing) of the good things to come—instead of fully expressing those things—it can never by offering the same sacrifices continually year after year make perfect those who approach [its altars].

Barclay: Because the law is only a pale shadow of the blessing which are to come and not a real image of these things, it can never really fit for the fellowship of God those who seek to draw near to his presence with the sacrifices which have to be brought year by year and which go on for ever (Westminster Press)

NLT: The old system in the law of Moses was only a shadow of the things to come, not the reality of the good things Christ has done for us. The sacrifices under the old system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: The Law possessed only a dim outline of the benefits Christ would bring and did not actually reproduce them. Consequently it was incapable of perfecting the souls of those who offered their regular annual sacrifices. (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest: For the law having a shadow of the good things about to be, and not the image itself of the actual things, is never able by means of the same sacrifices which they are offering year after year, continually to make those who come to it complete. (Eerdmans)

Young's Literal: For the law having a shadow of the coming good things -- not the very image of the matters, every year, by the same sacrifices that they offer continually, is never able to make perfect those coming near,

FOR THE LAW, SINCE IT HAS ONLY A SHADOW OF THE GOOD THINGS TO COME AND NOT THE VERY FORM: Skian gar echon (PAPMSN) o nomos ton mellonton (PAPNPG) agathon ouk auten ten eikona ton pragmaton: (He 8:5; 9:9,11,23; Col 2:17)

For - Introduces an explanation (always seek to discover "What is the author explaining?) Here the for connects chapter 10 to the end of chap 9 (NIV does not render the for). The writer is offering a further explanation of "the finality of Messiah’s one sacrifice and thus of its superiority to the sacrifices of the law." (Wuest - Hebrews Commentary online)

Law (3551) (nomos from nemo = to parcel out, divide among, allot) is first of all something parceled out or allotted and so what one has in possession. The primary meaning relates to that which is conceived as a standard or refers to generally recognized rules of civilized conduct especially as sanctioned by tradition. In addition to rules that take hold through tradition, the state or other legislating body may enact ordinances that are recognized by all concerned and in turn become legal tradition. The law is thus a plumbline as used to determine straightness. But just as plumblines cannot straighten the building but only determine how crooked it is and where change is needed, so too the law acts as a plumbline to show us where we fall short and to tutor us and lead us to faith in the gospel through which one can meet God's righteous standard.

Spurgeon - This refers to the old ceremonial law, under which the Jews lived so long. They always had to go on, year after year, offering the same kind of sacrifices, because the work of atonement was never done perfectly. Men were not cleansed or saved by it, so the process had to be constantly repeated.

Shadow (4639) (skia [word study]) describes that pattern which is thrown by an object when light falls upon the original object. A shadow is thus an image cast by an object representing the form of that object. It can refer to a foreshadowing, a faint outline or an imperfect portrayal or representation of a thing or in the present context the substance, the reality, the Person of Christ.

A T Robertson - The contrast here between skia (shadow, shade caused by interruption of light as by trees, Mk 4:32) and eikon (image or picture) is striking. In Col 2:17-note Paul draws a distinction between skia for the Jewish rites and ceremonies and soma for the reality in Christ. Children are fond of shadow pictures. The law gives only a dim outline of the good things to come (He 9:11-note).

Vincent - The emphasis is on this thought (Ed: Skia is first word in Greek sentence for emphasis). The legal system was a shadow. Skia is a rude outline, an adumbration, contrasted with eikon, the archetypal or ideal pattern. Skia does not accurately exhibit the figure itself. Compare He 8:5-note.

Wuest - Expositor’s says in this connection: “The explanation consists in this that the law had only ‘a shadow of the good things that were to be, not the very image of the things.’ Skian (shadow) is in the emphatic place, as that characteristic of the law which determines its inadequacy. ‘A shadow’ suggests indefiniteness and unsubstantiality; a mere indication that a reality exists. (Hebrews Commentary online)

Skia - 7x in 7v - Mt 4:16; Mk 4:32; Lk 1:79; Acts 5:15; Col 2:17; He 8:5; He 10:1

(Earthly high priests - He 8:3, 4) who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “See,” He says, “that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.” (He 8:5-note)

Skia is actually a pale shadow contrasted with a sharp, distinct one. The law and the Levitical ceremonies and rituals were only a pale shadow of the things Christ would bring. They were form without substance portraying something real, but not themselves real. A shadow has no substance in itself. It has no independent existence. It merely is proof of the fact that there is a reality back of it. It is not itself solid or real.

Ray Stedman has an interesting introduction to this chapter…

It would be foolish indeed to prefer reading a cookbook to eating a good meal when one is hungry. Not that there is anything wrong with reading a cookbook—it can be very enlightening—but it is not very nourishing! Yet some of the original readers of Hebrews were doing something very much like that. They preferred to content themselves with the externals of faith—such as the law, the Aaronic priesthood and animal offerings—and to ignore the fulfillment of these things in the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. They wanted the cookbook rather than the meal!

As we have seen, the tabernacle in the wilderness, with its regulations and sacrifices, was an accurate and divinely drawn picture of the sacrifice of Jesus and the new arrangement for living which would be available to believers in Christ. But it could only describe these realities up to a point. It was both a comparison and a contrast.

I carry a picture of my wife in my wallet and, when I am away from home, I find it comforting to look at it. But it is quite inadequate, for it is not my wife, only a picture of her. I can look at it, but I cannot have a conversation with it. I cannot laugh together with it, and I cannot persuade it to cook any meals! It is an accurate representation of the real thing, but also a far cry from it. So the law and the tabernacle could never do for believers of any age what the living Christ can do. This is the continuing argument of the writer in chapter 10. (Hebrews 10:1-39 Let Us Go On!)

Spurgeon - Ceremonies under the old dispensation were precious because they set forth the realities yet to be revealed, but in Christ Jesus we deal with the realities themselves. This is a happy circumstance for us, for both our sins and our sorrows are real, and only substantial mercies can counteract them. In Jesus, we have the substance of all that the symbols set forth. He is our sacrifice, our altar, our priest, our incense, our tabernacle, our all in all. The law had “the shadow of good things to come,” but in Christ we have “the form of things itself.”

Max Alderman - From time to time, I will pull out a certain old video which was made over twenty years ago. When I do, it brings me joy to watch and hear my parents, who are deceased, once again speak. The image is of them and the voice is theirs, but it is only a shadow of what was. The “law having a shadow of good things to come” is only a shadow of Him who is. In regards to my parent’s shadow, if I could I would trade the shadow for them. The shadow follows them. In regards to Him, I will not trade Him for the shadow. In His case the shadow came first. The law is that shadow. With Him being the substance which the shadow represented, we now have a better offering. (Ref)

Marcus Dods in the Expositor's Greek Testament writes - The explanation consists in this that the law had only ‘a shadow of the good things that were to be, not the very image of the things.’ Skian (shadow) is in the emphatic place, as that characteristic of the law which determines its inadequacy. ‘A shadow’ suggests indefiniteness and unsubstantiality; a mere indication that a reality exists. Eikon (image) suggests what is in itself substantial and also gives a true representation of that which it images. The eikon (image) brings before us under the conditions of space, as we can understand it, that which is spiritual’ (Westcott)…The contrast is between a bare intimation that good things were to be given, and an actual presentation of these good things in an apprehensible form. It is implied that this latter is given in Christ; but what is asserted is, that the law did not present the coming realities in a form which brought them within the comprehension of the people.” (The Expositor's Greek Testament)

Good things (18) (agathos [word study]) (click discussion of good deeds) means profitable, benefiting others, whereas the related word kalos means constitutionally good, but not necessarily benefiting others.

Saints are made adequate and equipped for these "agathos" works by God's Word for

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good (agathos) work. (2Ti 3:16, 17-note).

Consider the fruit tree. It is not "conscious" of the bearing process. We are to be like the fruit tree for it is God Who is causing fruit be borne in good works which blossom and ripen as we are walk obedient to His revealed will.

Come (3195) (mello) means to to occur at a point of time in the future which is subsequent to another event and closely related to it.

Form (1504) (eikon [word study]) is an artistic representation, as one might see on a coin or statue (an image or a likeness, as in Mt 22.20). Eikon as in the present verse can refer to a visible manifestation of an invisible and heavenly reality form.

Eikon is the basis for such English terms as icon ( a conventional religious image typically painted or engraved on a small wooden panel and venerated in Eastern Orthodox Churches), "iconography" (the illustration of a subject by drawing), or "iconoclast" (the medieval zealots who broke up religious statues and then anyone who attacks cherished beliefs or practices).

Eikon - 23x in 20v - Matt 22:20; Mark 12:16; Luke 20:24; Rom 1:23; 8:29; 1 Cor 11:7; 15:49; 2 Cor 3:18; 4:4; Col 1:15; 3:10; Heb 10:1; Rev 13:14f; 14:9, 11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4. NAS = form(1), image(19), likeness(3).

Children are fond of shadow pictures. Painters, before they introduce the living colors by the pencil, are wont to mark out the outlines of what their intend to represent. This indistinct representation is called by the Greeks skiagraphia. God the consummate "Painter" of beauty has penciled in the outlines that point to the Better Sacrifice for all to see. It's like looking a a cookbook with pictures of beautiful, sumptuous meals and saying "Boy that really satisfies my hunger." That would be ridiculous… by the same token how silly reach out to grasp the shadow when you can lay hold of the "very form of things".

Wuest - Eikon (image) suggests what is in itself substantial and also gives a true representation of that which it images. The eikon (image) brings before us under the conditions of space, as we can understand it, that which is spiritual’ (Westcott) … The contrast is between a bare intimation that good things were to be given, and an actual presentation of these good things in an apprehensible form. It is implied that this latter is given in Christ; but what is asserted is, that the law did not present the coming realities in a form which brought them within the comprehension of the people.” The fact that the sacrifices were constantly renewed, shows that the law possessed no more than a mere shadow of the coming good which was exhibited in those sacrifices. Expositor’s quotes Davidson as saying in this connection; “No repetition of the shadow can amount to the substance.” (Hebrews Commentary online)

The “good things” in context probably refer back to the “salvation” of He 9:28 (Ro 10:15-note).

Stedman - In Heb 10:1-4, the author builds on a point he has made earlier---that the annual repetition of sacrifices in the old order indicated their inability to actually remove sins. Once again he uses a logical-deduction argument. Had they truly cleansed the conscience, there would have been no need to repeat them for the offerers; they would have seen themselves as cleansed from sin's defilement forever. But these sacrifices could not remove sin because they were based only on the death of animals.

The annual repetition did remind offerers that they were still very much sinners and still very much in need of an adequate substitute if their sin was ever to be removed. The sacrifices were but a shadow of the good things that are coming---not the realities themselves. A shadow indicates a reality, but has no substance in itself. I waited on a downtown street comer one day for a friend who always wore a Western hat. Suddenly I saw his distinctive shadow on the sidewalk and knew that he was standing just around the comer. I could not actually see him, but I knew he was there. So the offerings witnessed to the person of Christ and his sacrifice, though they were not that reality themselves. They were but his shadow that indicated he was soon to appear. (ibid)

CAN NEVER BY THE SAME SACRIFICES YEAR BY YEAR WHICH THEY OFFER CONTINUALLY MAKE PERFECT THOSE WHO DRAW NEAR: tais autais thusiais as prospherousin (3PPAI) eis to dienekes oudepote dunatai (3SPPI) tous proserchomenous (PMPMPA) teleiosai (AAN): (Heb 10:3,4,11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18; 7:18,19; 9:8,9,25)

“No repetition of the shadow can amount to the substance.” (Davidson)

Can (1410) (dunamai [word study] - see study of related word dunamis) means to be able, to have power especially achieving power. It refers to intrinsic power or inherent ability, the power or ability to carry out some function, the potential for functioning in some way (power, might, strength, ability, capability), the power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature. In this case the nature of the yearly sacrifices is such that they lack the power to perfect the sinner.

Never (3763) (oudepote from oude = not even, and poté = ever) mean absolutely not ever at any time! Never at all, neither at any time, nothing at any time.

Sacrifices (2378)(thúo = to sacrifice) that which is offered as a sacrifice or the act of sacrificing or offering.

Year (1763) (eniautos) a year or any definite time.

Offer (4374) (prosphero from prós = to, toward + phéro = bring) means to carry or bring something into the presence of someone usually implying a transfer of something to that person carry to. It refers to an offering, whether of gifts, prayers, or sacrifices.

Continually (1336) (dienekes) means uninterruptedly, perpetually, continuously. This is really an idiom, eis to dienekes - continually, perpetually.

If something is effective in accomplishing its intended purpose, it does not need to be done again. The need for the repetition of the OT sacrifices is the final proof that they were never capable of purifying men's souls and giving full access to God.

Wuest on Can never make perfect - The idea here is that the ceremonial law could not actually save the believer. Its work was always short of completeness. (Hebrews Commentary online)

Make perfect (5048) (teleioo [word study] related to teleios [word study] from telos = an end, a purpose, an aim, a goal) means to be complete, mature, fully developed, full grown, brought to its end, finished, wanting nothing necessary to completeness or in good working order. It means not merely to terminate a thing but to carry out a thing to the full. Teleioo signifies the attainment of consummate soundness and includes the idea of being whole. Interestingly the Gnostics used teleios of the one fully initiated into their mysteries and that may have been why Paul used teleios in this epistle.

Teleioo signifies the attainment of consummate soundness and includes the idea of being made whole. Interestingly the Gnostics used teleios of one fully initiated into their mysteries and that may have been why Paul used teleios in this epistle.

In Hebrews 12:2 (see note) Jesus is designated as the Author and Perfecter of faith where perfecter is teleiotes, the Completer, the One Who reached the goal (which the law could never attain) so as to win the prize so to speak.

Wuest has this note on the NT word group (telos, teleioo, teleios, teleiosis, teleiotes) - Teleios the adjective, and teleioo the verb. The adjective is used in the papyri, of heirs being of age, of women who have attained maturity, of full-grown cocks, of acacia trees in good condition, of a complete lampstand, of something in good working order or condition. To summarize; the meaning of the adjective includes the ideas of full-growth, maturity, workability, soundness, and completeness. The verb refers to the act of bringing the person or thing to any one of the aforementioned conditions. When applied to a Christian, the word refers to one that is spiritually mature, complete, well-rounded in his Christian character. (Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans)

Richards commenting on the word group (telos, teleioo, teleios, teleiosis, teleiotes) writes that - These words emphasize wholeness and completeness. In the biological sense they mean "mature," or "full grown": the person, animal, or plant achieved the potential inherent in its nature. The perfect is the thing or person that is complete, in which nothing that belongs to its essence has been left out. It is perfect because every potential it possesses has been realized. (Richards, L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency)

Stedman - To make perfect a sinner before God would be to have sin and its effects totally removed. These include not only the effects on the spirit and soul but the body also—regeneration, full sanctification and resurrection. Though resurrection awaits the final coming of Christ, nevertheless, full and continuing access to God, “without the constant necessity of removing the barrier of freshly accumulated sin” (F F Bruce 1964:227), was available by faith to every believer in Jesus throughout the believer’s lifetime (Ro 5:1, 2). (Hebrews Commentary)

Teleioo is used 19 times of 24 total NT uses in Hebrews, often in the sense of to make perfect or fully cleanse from sin in contrast to ceremonial (Levitical) cleansing. The writer is emphasizing the importance of perfection… (which should cause any Jew who is contemplating the worth of Christ and the New Covenant to realize his utter hopelessness to every attain perfection under the Old Covenant).

Hebrews 2:10 (note) For it was fitting for Him, for Whom are all things, and through Whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.

Comment: This does not imply any moral imperfection in the Lord Jesus, but speaks of the consummation of the human experience of suffering the death of the Cross, through which He must pass if He is to become the Author or Captain of our salvation.

Hebrews 5:9 (note) And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,

Hebrews 7:19 (note) (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

Comment: This means to carry through completely, to make complete, to finish, bring to an end. The old covenant could bring nothing to conclusion. The Mosaic economy could reveal sin but it could never remove sin, and so it had to be removed. It gave no security. It gave no peace. A man never had a clean conscience.

Hebrews 7:28 (note) For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.

Hebrews 9:9 (note) which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience,

Hebrews 10:1 (note) For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never by the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near.

Comment: Contrast with Jesus in Hebrews 5:9 above. The idea in Hebrews 10:1 is that the law could not actually save the believer, because its work was always short of completeness.

Hebrews 10:14 (note) For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

Comment: Wuest writes "Here, the completeness of the state of salvation of the believer is in view. Everything essential to the salvation of the individual is included in the gift of salvation which the sinner receives by faith in Messiah’s sacrifice. The words “for ever” here are to be construed with “perfected.” It is a permanent state of completeness in salvation to which reference is made. The words “them that are sanctified” are descriptive of the believer. He is one set apart for God) (ibid)

Hebrews 11:40 (note) because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Hebrews 12:23 (note) (But you have come… ) 23 to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect,

In sum the fundamental idea of telioo is the bringing of a person or thing to the goal fixed by God.

It is interesting and doubtless no mere coincidence that in the Septuagint (LXX) teleioo is translated numerous times as consecrated or consecration, especially speaking of consecration of the priests (cf Jesus our "great High Priest") (Ex 29:9, 29, 33, 35 Lv 4:5; 8:33; 16:32; 21:10; Nu 3:3). The LXX translators gave the verb teleioo a special sense of consecration to priestly service and this official concept stands behind the writer's use in this passage in Hebrews 5:9 (note). It signifies that Jesus has been fully equipped to come before God in priestly action.

Spurgeon - Those that were sprinkled with the blood of the Old Testament sacrifices did not feel that their sin was forever put away. They went back, after the victim had been offered, with a certain measure of rest and relief, but not with that perfect rest which is the accompaniment of the pardon that Jesus gives to those who come unto God through Him.

Draw near (4334) (proserchomai from prós = facing + érchomai = come) means literally to come facing toward and so to approach or come near. To come to visit or associate with. It describes the approach to or entry into a deity’s presence. In the Septuagint (LXX) proserchomai was the verb used to describe the approach of the priests to Jehovah for worship and to perform of their priestly (Levitical) functions. But here in Hebrews, under the New covenant, all seven uses of proserchomai refer to believers possessing the privilege of access to God the Father through Christ the Great High Priest.

Here are the seven uses of this proserchomai in Hebrews…

Hebrews 4:16 (note) Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need. (Comment: "Let us… " emphasizes that this privilege is always available to those under the New Covenant. Do we really comprehend and avail ourselves of the profundity of this privilege?)

Hebrews 7:25 (note) Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near (present tense = emphasizes continual activity) to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

Hebrews 10:1 (note) For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never by the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near.

Hebrews 10:22 (note) let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 11:6 (note) And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes (drawn near) to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Hebrews 12:18 (note) For you have not come (drawn near) to a mountain that may be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind,

Hebrews 12:22 (note) But you have come (drawn near) to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels

The Law made nothing perfect. In context (He 10:2) the Law can never give the worshiper a clear conscience, that sense that he is not guilty and conversely the sense that he has been pleasing to God. Why not? because animal blood can not take away sins (and the associated guilty conscience).

Max Alderman - Everything which lies underneath the curse will be insufficient in meeting God’s holy requirements. God’s standard is way above man’s and any offering that he is capable of offering apart from that of faith and obedience will only be a “Cain-like” offering in which God will have no respect (Genesis 4:5). The entire creation is underneath the sin curse and thus is so affected that nothing eternally satisfying can be extracted as an offering from it. Though the offering made according to the law was inefficient and insufficient in and of itself, the Lord honored it, because when it was being offered, the person offering it demonstrated a faithful obedience to the Lord. They were exercising a faith that was anticipating the better offering of Christ, Himself. They in doing so may not have understood all of the theology that was involved, but they obeyed anyway while making their offerings unto the Lord. The Lord was not saying that the offering was sufficient at this

time, only the exercising of faith was sufficient in anticipation of the Offering that was perfect. (Ref)

As much as those living under the law desired to approach God, the Levitical system provided no way to enter His holy presence (cf. Ps 15:1; 16:11)

There is a story of an English village whose chapel had an arch on which was written:

“We Preach Christ Crucified.”

For years godly men preached there and they presented a crucified Savior as the only means of salvation. But as the generation of godly preachers passed, a generation arose that considered the blood of Christ & the Cross and its message antiquated and repulsive. They began to preach salvation by Christ’s example rather than by His blood. They did not see the necessity of His sacrifice. After a while, ivy crept up the side of the arch and covered the word “Crucified,” and only “We Preach Christ” was visible.

Then the church decided that its message need not even be confined to Christ and the Bible. So the preachers began to give discourses on social issues, politics, philosophy, moral rearmament, and whatever else happened to spark interest. The ivy on the arch continued to grow until it covered the third word. Then it simply read, “We Preach.” (From MacArthur, John: Hebrews. Moody Press or or Wordsearch)

In 1873, Philip P. Bliss caught a vision of the believers’ exalted position through Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice on their behalf:


Click to play

Free from the law, O happy condition,
Jesus hath bled, and there is remission;
Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,
Grace hath redeemed us once for all.

Now are we free—there’s no condemnation,
Jesus provides a perfect salvation;
“Come unto Me,” O hear His sweet call,
Come, and He saves us once for all.

“Children of God,” O glorious calling,
Surely His grace will keep us from falling;
Passing from death to life at His call,
Blessed salvation once for all.

Once for all, O sinner, receive it;
Once for all, O brother, believe it;
Cling to the cross, the burden will fall,
Christ hath redeemed us once for all.


Today in the Word - U.S. critic and lecturer John Mason Brown was giving a lecture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when he noticed in the light of the slide projector that someone in the audience was mimicking his every move. Brown, annoyed, invited the person to leave. No one moved, and he continued his lecture. The mimicking shadow appeared. It took the nervous Brown another ten minutes to realize that he was seeing his own shadow.

That story illustrates the problem with focusing on a shadow. Since it's not the real thing, you can get distracted from the business at hand. The writer of Hebrews called the Law of Moses a shadow--not the reality. That was not a negative statement toward God's holy Law, but simply a statement of the old covenant's built-in temporary nature. The system of sacrifices instituted under Moses was designed by God to foreshadow the coming of Christ and His once-for-all sacrifice. But by the time Christ came, many in Israel did not recognize Him. They were so caught up in the rituals of Judaism that what was intended to be a shadow had become a thick cloud, obscuring the very Person the Law was meant to foreshadow.

Somewhere in all of this were the people we know as the Hebrews, apparently feeling intense pressure to step back into the shadows of the old system. But in chapter 10, the writer of this book continued his eloquent plea for them to come back to the light of Jesus Christ.

As we have seen time and time again, there was really nothing for them to go back to. Since Christ had rendered the Law obsolete by His atoning death, God was not pleased by the continual offering of sacrifices (He 10:8). The priests may stand and offer their sacrifices day after day, but the fact has already been established that those sacrifices can never take away sins (He 10:11).

Since atonement for sin could never be achieved through the bodies of sacrificial animals, God prepared a body for His Son. It was in that body that Jesus offered Himself on the Cross as the final sacrifice. The Hebrews, and all believers before and since, were the beneficiaries of Jesus' death. (MBI - Today in the Word)

Hebrews 10:2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: epei ouk an epausanto (3PAMI) prospheromenai, (PPPFPN) dia to medemian echein (PAPMPA) eti suneidesin amartion tous latreuontas (PAPMPA) apac kekatharismenous? (RPPMPA)

Amplified: For if it were otherwise, would [these sacrifices] not have stopped being offered? Since the worshipers had once for all been cleansed, they would no longer have any guilt or consciousness of sin. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

Barclay: For if these sacrifices could achieve that, would they not have stopped being brought because the worshipper had been once and for all brought into a state of purity and no longer had any consciousness of sin? (Westminster Press)

NLT: If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: For if it had, surely the sacrifices would have been discontinued - on the grounds that the worshippers, having been really cleansed, would have had no further consciousness of sin. (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest: since then would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshippers once cleansed would not be having any longer even one compunction of conscience with respect to sins? (Eerdmans)

Young's Literal: since, would they not have ceased to be offered, because of those serving having no more conscience of sins, having once been purified?

OTHERWISE, WOULD THEY NOT HAVE CEASED TO BE OFFERED: epei ouk an epausanto (3PAMI) prospheromenai (PPPFPN): (He 10:17; 9:13,14; Psalms 103:12; Isaiah 43:25; 44:22; Micah 7:19)

Otherwise (1893) is a conjunction which means in other respects or under different conditions.

Cease (3973) (pauo [word study]) means to cease from an activity in which one is engaged. This verse implies that the Temple sacrifices were still being carried out, which would date the writing of Hebrews prior to 70AD, the date of the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem by the Roman general Titus (who later became Emperor).

Offered (4374) (prosphero from prós = to, toward + phéro = bring) means to carry or bring something into the presence of someone usually implying a transfer of something to that person carry to. It refers to an offering, whether of gifts, prayers, or sacrifices.

Vincent… The present participle brings out more forcibly the continuous repetition: “Ceased being offered.”

Spurgeon - Why offer any more, if you are a perfect man? Now mark: the Jewish sacrifice was never intended to make the Jews’ moral character any better, and it did not. It had no effect upon what we call his sanctification; all the sacrifice dealt with was his justification. Now that is the meaning of the word “perfect” here. It does not mean that the sacrifice did not make the man perfectly holy, and perfectly moral, and so forth. The sacrifice had no tendency to do that; it was quite another matter. It means that it did not perfectly make him justified in his own conscience and in the sight of God, because he had to come and offer again. Now, here comes a man who is troubled in his conscience. He comes sighing up the temple, and he must speak to the priest. He says to the priest, “I have committed such-and-such a sin.” “Ah,” says the priest, “You will never have any ease to your conscience unless you bring a sin offering.” He brings a sin offering, and it is offered, and the man sees it burn and goes away. He has got faith—faith in the great sin offering that is to come—and his conscience is easy. A day or two after, the same feelings arise; and what does he do? He goes to the priest again. “Ah!” says the priest, “you must bring another offering; you must bring a trespass offering.” He does that, and his conscience grows easier for a time. But the more his conscience gets quickened, the more he sees the unsatisfactory character of the offering he brings. God well knew that the sacrifices were themselves imperfect, only a shadow of the great substance, and that His people would need to have the service renewed, not only every year, but every day; not only every day, but every morning and every evening.

To be offered (prosphero)

Wuest - Concerning this verse, Expositor’s has a helpful note: “The constant renewal of the yearly round sacrifices proves that they were inefficacious, for had the worshippers once been cleansed they would have had no longer any consciousness of sins and would, therefore, have sought no renewal of sacrifice … So far from these Old Testament sacrifices once for all cleansing the conscience and thus perfecting the worshippers, ‘by and in them there is a yearly remembrance of sins,’ that is, of sins not yet sufficiently atoned for by any past sacrifice … The remembrance was not of sins previously atoned for but of sins committed since the previous sacrifice.” While this was the viewpoint of the Old Testament worshipper, yet actually, the Jew who would come to the tabernacle, present his animal for sacrifice, look ahead in faith to the God appointed Lamb who would some day bear his sins, was saved in Jesus’ precious blood and saved forever. This, of course is from God’s viewpoint. The blood of Jesus was just as powerful to save and keep saved for time and eternity before the Cross as since the Cross, for we have a God who takes things that are not in existence to bring to naught the things that are. (Hebrews Commentary online)

BECAUSE THE WORSHIPERS HAVING ONCE BEEN CLEANSED WOULD NO LONGER HAVE HAD CONSCIOUSNESS OF SINS: dia to medemian echein (PAN) eti suneidesin hamartion tous latreuontas (PAPMPA) hapax kekatharismenous (RPPMPA):

The worshipers (3000) (latreuo [word study] from latris = one hired or latron = reward, wages) means to work for reward, for hire or for pay, to be in servitude, render cultic service. Latreuo was used literally for bodily service (e.g., workers on the land, or slaves), and figuratively for “to cherish.” In the NT the idea is to render service to God, to worship, to perform sacred services or to minister to God in a spirit of worship.

John MacArthur explains that latreuo "might best be translated “to render respectful spiritual service.” True worship goes beyond praising God, singing hymns, or participating in a worship service. The essence of worship is living a life of obedient service to God. “Do not neglect doing good and sharing,” exhorts the writer of Hebrews, “for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Hebrews 13:16-note). True worship involves every aspect of life." (MacArthur, J. Philippians. Chicago: Moody Press)

Latreuo can therefore convey either the idea of "worship" or "service" and frequently appears to mean both which suggests that "service" cannot be separated from "worship."

Many Christians desire to "worship" the Lord on Sunday but are too busy to "serve" Him at other times. The New Testament knows nothing of this dichotomy. On the other hand notice that the order in Scripture is first “worship” and then “serve”. Acknowledgment of God Himself must have precedence over activity in His service. Service to God derives its effectiveness from engagement of the heart with God. Any true worshipper of God is also a servant, ready to do his Master's bidding, discharging his or her priestly duties.

Anna the prophetess exemplifies latreuo in action for even thought she was "a widow … age of eighty-four… she never left the temple, serving (latreuo) night and day with fastings and prayers." (Lk 2:37)

How did she "serve"? "Fastings and prayers"! From Anna's example, one can see how the serving aspect of latreuo overlaps with the idea of worship.

Once (530) (hapax) means once for all. The idea is that which is done has perpetual validity and never needs repetition. The animal sacrifices could not effect such a "cure".

Once in Hebrews - Heb 6:4 Heb 7:27 Heb 9:7, 12, 26, 27, 28 Heb 10:2, 10 Heb 12:26, 27

F B Meyer on the word "once"…


Hebrews 9:26, 27, 28, 10:2-10

THERE is a word here which recurs, like a note on an organ beneath the tumult of majestic sound. Five times, at least, it rolls forth its thunder, pealing through all ages, echoing through all worlds, announcing the finality of an accomplished redemption to the whole universe of God "ONCE!" And there is another phrase which we must couple with it, spoken by the parched lips of the dying Saviour, yet with a loud voice, as though it were the cry of a conqueror: "When Jesus, therefore, had received the vinegar, he said, 'It is finished'; and he bowed his head and gave up the ghost." It is very seldom that man can look back on a finished life-work. The chisel drops from the paralyzed hand ere the statue is complete; the chilling fingers refuse to guide the pen along another line, though the book is so nearly done; the statesman must leave his plans and far-reaching schemes to be completed by another, perhaps his rival. But as from his cross Jesus Christ our Lord looked upon the work of redemption which he had undertaken, and in connection with which he had suffered even to the hiding of his Father's face, he could not discover one stitch, or stone, or particle deficient. For untold myriads for thee and me and all there was done that which never needed to be done again, but stood as an accomplished fact forevermore.


(Heb. 9:26). In these words there is a sigh of relief. A thought had for a moment flashed across the sunlit page of Scripture, which had suggested an infinite horror. In pursuing the parallels between the incidents of the great day of atonement and the great day when Jesus died, we had been suddenly reminded of the fact that the solemn spectacle was witnessed once a year " The high-priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others" (Heb. 9:25). Every year the same rites performed, the same blood shed, the same propitiation made. Suppose that, after the same analogy, Jesus had suffered every year! Every year the agony of the shadowed garden! Every year the bitter anguish of the cross! Every year the burial in the garden tomb! Then earth would have been overcast with midnight, and life would have been agony! Who could bear to see him suffer often! But there was no necessity for him to suffer more than once; because repetition means imperfection, of which, in his work, there is no sign or trace. There petition of the sacrifices of the Jewish law meant that they could not take away sin, or make the comers thereunto perfect. Again and again the crowd of pious Jews gathered, driven to seek deliverance from the conscience of sins, which brooded deeply and darkly over their souls. Perhaps they would receive momentary respite as they saw the elaborate ceremonial, and felt that they were included in the high-priest's confession and benediction. And so they wended their way homeward; but ere long a weary sense of dissatisfaction would again betake them: they would reflect on the inadequacy of the atonement which stood only in the offering of the life of slain beasts. Sins were remembered, but not put away; it was impossible that the blood of bulls and goats could do that (Heb. 10:4). And so, doubtless, in the more thoughtful, hearts must have failed, and consciences moaned out their weary plaint unsatisfied. Therefore the sacrifices had to be presented continually. On the other hand, Christ's work needs no repetition. It is final because it is perfect. Its perfection is attested, because it has never been repeated. "In that he died, he died unto sin once." Our Saviour set his hand to save us: he did not mean to faith he came into our world with this distinct purpose; he died to do it; and, having done it, he went home to God. But if from the vantage-ground of the throne, reviewing his work, he had discerned any deficiency or flaw, he would have come back to make it good; and, inasmuch as he has not done so, we may be sure that the death of the cross is perfectly satisfactory. "Now once, in the end of the ages, hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." Oh, ponder these wondrous words! Once. He liveth forevermore; and shall never again pass for a moment under the dark shadow of death.

He hath appeared (or been manifested). What then? He must have existed previously. The incarnation was but the embodiment in visible form of One who existed before all worlds; and the death of the cross was the unfolding in a single act of eternal facts in the nature of God. As the great sun-disk may be mirrored in a tiny mountain tarn, so in the one day of crucifixion, there were set forth to men, angels, and devils, love, sacrifice, and redeeming mercy, which are part of the very essence of God. Marvelous, indeed, the rending of the veil, by which such marvels are revealed.

In the end of the world (or of the ages). God is called the King of Ages. Time is probably as much a creation as space or distance or matter. It is an accommodation to finite thought; a parenthesis in eternity; a rainbow flung across the mighty age of deity. We break time into hours; God breaks it into ages. There are ages behind us, and ages before. We stand on a narrow neck of land between two seas. The first age of which we know anything is that of creation. The second, of Paradise. The third, of the world before the flood. The fourth, of the Patriarchs. The fifth, of Moses, ending with the fall of Jerusalem, and the death of the Messiah. The sixth, of the Gentiles, in which we live. And before us, we can dimly descry the forms of the Age of Millennium; the Age of Regeneration and Restitution; the Age of Judgment; and the Age in which the kingdom shall be delivered to the Father. There is thus a complete analogy between the creation of the material world, and the creation of the new heavens and earth. Geologists love to enumerate the strata of the earth's formation through which the processes of world -building were carried; and we shall probably discover some day that God has been building up the new creation through successive ages of history and development. Christ's death is here said to have happened at the end of the ages; and we should at once see the force of this, even though there may remain several great ages to be fulfilled, ere time run out its course, if only we knew how many ages have preceded. Compared to the number that have been, this is the end, the climax, the ridge of the weary climb; what lies beyond are the miles of level surface, to the sudden dip down of the cliffs in face of the ocean of eternity.

He hath put away sin. Oh, marvelous word! It might be rendered to annihilate, to make as if it had never been. The wreath of cloud may disappear, but the separated drops still float through space. The bubble may break on the foam-tipped wave, but the film of water has gone to add its attenuated addition to the ocean depth. But Jesus has put sin away as when a debt is paid, an obligation is canceled, or a sin-laden victim was slain, burned, and buried in the old days of Moses. All sin, the sin of the world, the accumulated sin of mankind was made to meet in Jesus. He was made sin. He stood before the universe as though he had drawn upon himself all the human sin which has ever rent the air or befouled the earth, or put the stars of night to the blush; and, bearing the shame, the horror, the penalty during those dread hours which rung from him the cry of desolate forsakenness, he put it away, and wiped it out forever; and, in doing this, he has put away the penal results of Adam's fall. The inherited tendencies to evil remain in all the race; but the spiritual penalty which Adam incurred for himself and all of us, as our representative and head, has been canceled by the sufferings and death of our glorious representative and head, the Second Adam, the Lord from heaven. Men will still have to suffer the penalty of sins which they voluntarily commit, and for which they do not seek forgiveness and cleansing through the blood; but men will not have to suffer the penalty which otherwise must have accrued to them, as members of a fallen race-fallen with their first parents and father, because Jesus put away that when he died. And thus it is that the multitudes of sweet babes, idiots, and others who belong to Adam's race, but have had no opportunity of personal transgression, are able to enter without let or hindrance into the land where there entereth nothing which defileth.

By the sacrifice of himself. Not by his example, fair and lovely though it was. Not by his teaching, though the food of the world. Not by his works, the source and fountain-head of modern philanthropy. But by his death, and by his death as a sacrifice. If you want to understand a writer, you must know the sense in which he uses his characteristic words, and you must carefully study the definitions which he gives of them. And if you would understand the meaning of Christ's death, you must go back to the definitions, given in minute detail in Leviticus, of the meaning of sacrifice, atonement, and propitiation, by which that death is afterward described; and Only so much you dare to interpret. Whatever sacrifice meant in Leviticus, it means when applied to the death of the cross. And surely there can be no controversy that of old it stood for the substitution of the innocent for the guilty; the canceling of deserved penalty because it had been borne by another; the wiping out of sin by the shedding of blood. All this it must mean when applied to the death of Christ, with this difference, that of old the suffering was borne and death endured involuntarily; but in the case of our blessed Redeemer, God in him took home to himself, voluntarily and freely, the accumulated results of a world's sin, and suffered them, and made them as if they had never been. "He put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." What was the death of Christ? "A martyrdom," cries modern thought. "A mischance in an unenlightened age," replies the reviewer. "An outcome of all such efforts to battle with evil," says the broad-church teacher.


Thunders this Book. A voluntary sacrifice! A voluntary sacrifice by which sin has been borne and put away. Here we rest, content to abide, in a world of mystery, at the foot of one mystery more, which, despite all its mystery, answers the cry of a convicted conscience, and sheds the peace of heaven through our hearts.


(Heb. 9:27). With a few exceptions mentioned on the page of Scripture, where miracles of raising are recounted, men die but once. For those there was one cradle, two coffins; one birth, two burials. But for most it is mercifully arranged that the agony and pain of dissolution should be experienced only once. And this, which is the ordinary lot of humanity, also befell Jesus Christ. He could not die often, because he was literally man, and it would have been inconsistent to violate in his case the universal law. He must become man, because only through the portal of birth could he reach the bourne of death; but, having been born, and assumed our nature, he must obey the laws of that nature, and die but once.


(Heb. 9:28). There must have been something more than mortal in him, who in his one death could bear away the sins of many. Good and great men have died, who would have done anything to cancel or atone for the sins of their nation, their family, and their beloved; but in vain. How marvelous then must be his worth, whose sufferings and death will counterveil for a world's sin! And we can see the imperious necessity that our Saviour should be God manifest in the flesh; and that he who became obedient to the death of the cross should be also he who was in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be God's equal. If it be true that his death "once" has put away sin, then, bring hither your songs of worship, your wreaths of empire, your ascriptions of lowliest adoration; for he must be God. No being of inferior make could do for man what, in that brief but dreadful darkness, he has done once for all, and forever.


(Heb. 10:2). We are not in the position of the Jews, needing to repeat their sacrifices year by year, in sad monotony; our sacrifice has been offered once for all. Therefore, we have not, like them, the perpetual conscience of sins. Our hearts are, once and forever, sprinkled from an evil conscience (Heb. 9:22). There is no necessity to ask repeatedly for forgiveness for the sins that have been once confessed and forgiven. God does not accuse us of them; we need not accuse ourselves. God does not remember them; we may well forget them, save as incentives to gratitude and humility. There is daily need for fresh confession of recent sin; but when once the soul realizes the completeness of Christ's work on its behalf, it cries with great joy: "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us."


(Heb. 10:10). Space forbids our lingering longer. In our next chapter we may show how completely the purpose of God has been realized in Jesus, and, therefore, that there is no necessity for a repetition of his sacrificial work. The will or purpose of God for man's redemption asks for nothing more than that which is given it in the life and death of our Saviour. Nothing more is required for the glory of God, for the accomplishment of the divine counsels, or for the perfect deliverance and sanctification of those who believe.

"Once for all, O sinner, receive it!
Once for all, O brother, believe it!
Cling to the cross, the burden will fall;
Christ has redeemed us, once for all"

F. B. Meyer. The Way Into the Holiest

Cleansed (2511) (katharizo from katharos = pure, clean, without stain or spot; English words - catharsis = emotional or physical purging, cathartic = substance used to induce a purging, Cathar = member of a medieval sect which sought the purging of evil from its members) means to make clean by taking away an undesirable part. To cleanse from filth or impurity. Click here (and here) for more background on the important Biblical concept of clean and cleansing.

Figuratively katharizo referred to cleansing from ritual contamination or impurity as in (Acts 10:15). In a similar sense katharizo is used of cleansing lepers from ceremonial uncleanness (Mt 8:2-3, et al)

Another figurative use in 1John 1:9 (cf James 4:8, Hebrews 10:2) describes the purifying or cleansing from sin and a guilty conscience thus making one acceptable to God and reestablishing fellowship.

To cause to become clean as from physical stains and dirt (Mt 23:25).

This word group conveys the idea of physical, religious, and moral cleanness or purity in such senses as clean, free from stains or shame, and free from adulteration.

In secular Greek katharizo occurs in inscriptions for ceremonial cleansing.

There are 31 uses of katharizo in the NT…

Matthew 8:2 And behold, a leper (see Lev 13) came to Him, and bowed down to Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." 3 And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. (Comment: cleansing leprosy had religious, physical, and cultural implications because it was regarded as a defilement and hence made the leper ritually unclean and entailed in the lepers segregation from everyday society. The cleansing of leprosy had religious implications and thus the healing had to be verified by priests before the person was sanctioned as ritually cleansed).

Matthew 10:8 "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; freely you received, freely give.

Matthew 11:5 the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

Matthew 23:25 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish (Mark 7:4), but inside they are full of robbery (Luke 16:14, 20:47) and self-indulgence. 26 "You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. (see parallel verse Luke 11:39)

Mark 1:40 And a leper came to Him, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying to Him, "If You are willing, You can make me clean." 41 And moved with compassion, He stretched out His hand, and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed." 42 And immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

Mark 7:19 because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?" (Thus He declared all foods clean.)

Luke 4:27 "And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet (2Ki 7:3); and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian (2Ki 5:1-14)."

Luke 5:12 And it came about that while He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man full of leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." 13 And He stretched out His hand, and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately the leprosy left him.

Luke 7:22 And He answered and said to them, "Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them.

Luke 11:39 But the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness.

Luke 17:14 And when He saw them, He said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And it came about that as they were going, they were cleansed… 17 And Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine-- where are they?

Acts 10:15 And again a voice came to him a second time, "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy." (see cross references - Romans 14:2, 14, 20; 1 Tim. 4:4; Titus 1:15; Matthew 15:11; Mark 7:15)

Acts 11:9 "But a voice from heaven answered a second time, 'What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.'

Acts 15:9 and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.

2 Corinthians 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Ephesians 5:26 (note) that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

Titus 2:14 (note) who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

Hebrews 9:14 (note) how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Hebrews 9:22 (note) And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. 23 Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. (Comment: consecrate by cleansing or purifying)

Hebrews 10:2 (note) Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins?

James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

1 John 1:7 but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Katharizo is used 93 times in the Septuagint (LXX) (Note the predominance of uses in Leviticus) (Gen. 35:2; Exod. 20:7; 29:36f; 30:10; 34:7; Lev. 8:15; 12:7f; 13:6f, 13, 17, 23, 28, 34f, 37, 59; 14:2, 4, 7f, 11, 14, 17ff, 23, 25, 28f, 31, 48, 57; 15:13, 28; 16:19f, 30; 22:4; Num. 6:9; 8:15; 12:15; 14:18; 30:5, 8, 12; 31:23f; Deut. 5:11; 19:13; Jos. 22:17; 1 Sam. 20:26; 2 Ki. 5:10, 12ff; 2 Chr. 29:15; 34:3, 5, 8; Ezra 6:20; Neh. 12:30; 13:9, 22, 30; Job 1:5; Ps. 12:6; 19:12f; 51:2, 7; Prov. 25:4; Isa. 53:10; 57:14; 66:17; Jer. 13:27; 25:29; 33:8; Ezek. 24:13; 36:25, 33; 37:23; 39:12, 14, 16; 43:26; 44:26; Dan. 8:14; 11:35; Hos. 8:5; Mal. 3:3).

Here are a few representative uses…

Genesis 35:2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, "Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify (Lxx = katharizo) yourselves, and change your garments

Psalm 12:6 The words of the LORD are pure words; As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined (Lxx = katharizo = purified with the perfect tense = describing the persistent state of purification of God's Word) seven times.

Psalm 19:13 Also keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be acquitted (Lxx = katharizo = cleansed of) of great transgression.

Psalm 51:2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse (Lxx = katharizo) me from my sin.

Psalm 51:7 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean (Lxx = katharizo); Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Malachi 3:3 "And He (Messiah) will sit as a smelter and purifier (Lxx = katharizo) of silver, and He will purify (Lxx = katharizo) the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness.

John Donne spoke of spiritual cleansing…

Sleep with clean hands, either kept clean all day by integrity or washed clean at night by repentance.

Roy Hession (The Calvary Road) noted that one of the dominant themes of the great awakening in East Africa was a constant cleansing from sin which prompted him to write

We do not lose peace with God over another person's sin, but only over our own. Only when we are willing to be cleansed, will we have His peace.

No (3367) (medeis from medé = and not, also not + heís = one) means not even one.

Longer (2089) (eti) refers to extension of time up to and beyond an expected point.

Spurgeon - There would have been no need to bring another lamb to be offered if the one which was presented had put away sin; there would have been no need of another day of atonement if the sacrifice on the one day had really made atonement for sin.

Consciousness (4893) (suneidesis [word study] from sun = with + eido = know) literally means a "knowing with", a co-knowledge with oneself or a being of one's own witness in the sense that one's own conscience "takes the stand" as the chief witness, testifying either to one's innocence or guilt. It describes the witness borne to one's conduct by that faculty by which we apprehend the will of God.

Suneidesis - 30x in 29v - Acts 23:1; 24:16; Rom 2:15; 9:1; 13:5; 1 Cor 8:7, 10, 12; 10:25, 27ff; 2 Cor 1:12; 4:2; 5:11; 1 Tim 1:5, 19; 3:9; 4:2; 2 Tim 1:3; Titus 1:15; Heb 9:9, 14; 10:2, 22; 13:18; 1 Pet 2:19; 3:16, 21. NAS = conscience(24), conscience'(4), consciences(1), consciousness(1).

Webster defines "conscience" as the sense or consciousness of the moral goodness or blameworthiness of one’s own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good.

The Greek noun suneidesis is the exact counterpart of the Latin con-science, “a knowing with,” a shared or joint knowledge. It is our awareness of ourselves in all the relationships of life, especially ethical relationships. We have ideas of right and wrong; and when we perceive their truth and claims on us, and will not obey, our souls are at war with themselves and with the law of God

Suneidesis is that process of thought which distinguishes what it considers morally good or bad, commending the good, condemning the bad, and so prompting to do the former and avoid the latter.

To have a "clear conscience" does not mean that we have never sinned or do not commit acts of sin. Rather, it means that the underlying direction and motive of life is to obey and please God, so that acts of sin are habitually recognized as such and faced before God (1Jn 1:9)

A "clear conscience" consists in being able to say that there is no one (God or man) whom I have knowingly offended and not tried to make it right (either by asking forgiveness or restoration or both). Paul wanted Timothy to have no doubt that he endured his present physical afflictions, as he had countless others, because of his unswerving faithfulness to the Lord, not as a consequence of unfaithful, ungodly living. So as Paul neared his death, he could testify that his conscience did not accuse or condemn him. His guilt was forgiven, and his devotion was undivided. To continually reject God’s truth causes the conscience to become progressively less sensitive to sin, as if covered with layers of unspiritual scar tissue. Paul’s conscience was clear, sensitive, & responsive to its convicting voice. Click on the books below to study the NT picture of conscience.

NIV = and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.

The continued consciousness of sins despite offering sacrifices for sins sums up the the problem with the Old Covenant which could not cleanse the heart and mind of guilt (He 9:9, 9:14-see notes Heb 9:9, 9:14). In marked contrast, the new covenant in Christ provides a clean conscience and access to God to Whom worshipers can now draw near with boldness.


TODAY IN THE WORD - “Climax” is a narrative term meaning a very important or exciting moment--a moment at which the main character’s fate is decided, or at which the audience discovers what the story is about or if the story has a happy or sad ending. At least one “climax” is required in any form of story, whether a novel, television drama, or classical opera. This might take the form of a confrontation, a conversation or speech, a revealed secret or sudden insight, a fight or battle, an escape, a choice, or any event to which a storyteller or character gives great weight or emphasis.

In the story of salvation, Jesus Christ is the “climax” of the Old Testament sacrificial system. His actions determined the outcome of the story, which is already guaranteed by God (cf. Eph. 1:4-10).

Why was Christ the climax or fulfillment of the old system? First, His sacrifice was the reality, of which the preceding sacrifices had been only shadows or forerunners (He 10:1; cf. Col 2:17). Second, His sacrifice was powerful and effective, while the sacrifices that had gone before were powerless to take away sin (He 10:3, 4, 10-14). His sacrifice actually did all that the Law had only shadowed.

When Ro 10:4 calls Christ’s sacrifice the “end” of the Law, the Greek word used is “telos.” “Telos” can mean a

stopping or cessation; or a goal, culmination, or fulfillment; and in this case it probably suggests both. Christ’s sacrifice put a stop to the old system, because the goal had been reached. The price for sin had been paid.

A whole “new” system is now established. Instead of worshipers making burnt offerings and sin offerings, we see the total submission and obedience of our Savior (Heb. 10:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). His once-for-all sacrifice is the basis for faith and worship. It has already made us perfect forever, yet paradoxically is still working to make us holy (He 10:14). (MBI - Today in the Word)


Andrew Murray


Hebrews 10:1-4.

WE have now seen the Priest for ever, able to save completely (Hebrews 7.); the true sanctuary in which He ministers (Hebrews 8.); and the blood through which the sanctuary was opened, and we are cleansed to enter in (Hebrews 9.). There is still a fourth truth of which mention has been made in passing, but which has not yet been expounded, What is the way into the Holiest, by which Christ entered in? What is the path in which He walked when He went to shed His blood and pass through the veil to enter in and appear before God? In other words, what was it that gave His sacrifice its worth, and what the disposition, the inner essential nature of that mediation that secured His acceptance as our High Priest. The answer to be given in the first eighteen verses of this chapter will form the conclusion of the doctrinal half of the Epistle, and especially of the higher teaching it has for the perfect.

To prepare the way for the answer, the chapter begins with once again reminding us of the impotence of the law. The law having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things. The law had only the shadow, not the substance. The gospel gives us the very image. The image of God in which man was created was an actual spiritual reality. The Son Himself, as the image of the Father, was His true likeness---ever in possession of His Father's life and glory.

When man makes an image, it is but a dead thing. When God gives an image it is a living reality, sharing in the life and the attributes of the original. And so the gospel brings us not a shadow, a picture, a mental conception, but the very image of the heavenly things, so that we know and have them, really taste and possess them.

A shadow is first of all a picture, an external figure, giving a dim apprehension of good things to come. Then, as the external passes away, and sight is changed into faith, there comes a clearer conception of divine and heavenly blessings. And then faith is changed into possession and experience, and the Holy Spirit makes the power of Christ's redemption and the heavenly life a reality within us. Some Christians never get beyond the figures and shadows; some advance to faith in the spiritual good set forth; blessed they who go on to full possession of what faith had embraced.

In expounding what the law is not able to do, the writer uses four remarkable expressions which, while they speak of the weakness of the law with its shadows, indicate at the same time what the good things to come are, of which Christ is to bring us the very image, the divine experience.

The priests can never make perfect them that draw nigh. This is what Christ can do. He makes the conscience perfect. He hath perfected us for ever. These words suggest the infinite difference between what the law could do, and Christ has truly brought. What they mean in the mind of God, and what Christ our High Priest in the power of an endless life can make them to be to us, this the Holy Spirit will reveal. Let us be content with no easy human exposition, by which we are content to count the ordinary low experience of the slothful Christian--the hope of being pardoned, as an adequate fulfilment of what God means by the promises of the perfect conscience. Let us seek to know the blessing in its heavenly power.

The worshippers once cleansed would have had no more conscience of sins. This is the perfect conscience--when there is no more conscience of sins--a conscience that, once cleansed in the same power in which the blood was once shed, knows how completely sin has been put away out of that sphere of spiritual fellowship with God to which it has found access.

In those sacrifices there is a remembrance made of sins year by year. The cleansing of the heavens and the putting away of sin is so complete that with God our sins are no more remembered. And it is meant that the soul that enters fully into the Holiest of All, and is kept there by the power of the eternal High Priest, should have such an experience of His eternal, always lasting, always acting redemption, that there shall be no remembrance of aught but of what He is and does and will do. As we live in the heavenly places, in the Holiest of All, we live where there is no more remembrance of sins.

It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. What is impossible for the law is what Christ has done. He takes away not only guilt but sins, and that in such power of the endless life that those that draw nigh are made perfect, that there is no more conscience of sins, that there be no more remembrance of sins.

To how many Christians the cross and the death of Christ are nothing so much as a remembrance of sins. Let us believe that by God's power, through the Holy Spirit, revealing to us the way into the Holiest, it may become the power of a life, with no more conscience of sins, and a walk with a perfect conscience before God.

1. Here we have again the contrast between the two systems. In the one God spake by the prophets, giving thoughts and conceptions--shadows of the good things to come. But now He speaks to us in His Son, the likeness of God, who gives us his very image, the actual likeness, in our experience of the heavenly things. It is the deep contrast between the outward and the inward--the created and the divine.

2. A perfect conscience. No more conscience of sin. Let me not fear and say, Yes, this is the conscience Christ gives, but it is impossible for me to keep it or enjoy its blessing permanently. Let me believe in Him who is my Priest, after the power of an endless life, who ever lives to pray, and is able to save completely, because every moment His blood and love and power are in full operation,--the perfect conscience in me, because He is for me in heaven a Priest perfected for evermore.

Andrew Murray. The Holiest of All