Hebrews 10:1-2 Commentary


CONSIDER JESUS OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST
Click chart to enlarge
Chart from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission

The Epistle
to the Hebrews

INSTRUCTION
Hebrews 1-10:18
EXHORTATION
Hebrews 10:19-13
Superior Person
of Christ

Hebrews 1:1-4:13
Superior Priest
in Christ

Hebrews 4:14-10:18
Superior Life
In Christ

Hebrews 10:19-13
MAJESTY
OF
CHRIST
MINISTRY
OF
CHRIST
MINISTERS
FOR
CHRIST
"Much better than"
Hebrews 1:4
"Better"
Hebrews 7:19
"Let us"
Hebrews 12:1
BETTER
PERSON

Hebrews 1:1-4:13
BETTER
PRIESTHOOD

Heb 4:14-7:28
BETTER
COVENANT

Heb 8:1-13
BETTER
SACRIFICE

Heb 9:1-10:18
BETTER
LIFE
Jesus Christ:
Superior to:

Prophets
Angels
Moses
The Sabbath
Other Priests
Jesus Christ:
Superior as Our Priest

Better than:
Earthly Priesthood
Old Covenant
Animal Sacrifices
Daily Offerings
Jesus Christ:
Superior for Life

Let us have
Faith to Believe
Hope to Endure Trials
Love to Encourage others

DOCTRINE

DUTY

KEY VERSE:
Hebrews 4:14

THEME:
The Absolute Superiority of Jesus Christ

DATE WRITTEN:
circa 64-68 AD

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. 

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:

NET  Hebrews 10:1 For the law possesses a shadow of the good things to come but not the reality itself, and is therefore completely unable, by the same sacrifices offered continually, year after year, to perfect those who come to worship. (Heb 10:1 NET)

NLT  Hebrews 10:1 The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. 

THE PALE SHADOW OF THE LAW
POINTED TO THE POWERFUL LIGHT OF CHRIST

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.
- Phillip Bliss

Recite those words before you begin to preach on this text (or better yet project them and have everyone read them together). 

Put yourself in the position of a Jewish person who had been raised to read the Torah, pray the Torah, go to the Temple (which was very likely still standing or the writer would have made allusion to the destruction in 70AD), and at the Temple they would offer sacrifices, and in addition they would weekly celebrate the Sabbath, and seven times a year they would celebrate the prescribed feasts like Passover and Pentecost (etc), and yearly they would celebrate the Day of Atonement, which our Jewish friends today refer to as Yom Kippur. This is the way they had been taught all of their life. They had memorized the Torah but sadly most of the Jews century after century had failed to see the true significance of the Old Testament system. Somewhere in all of this those Jews who had now heard the Gospel and were attracted by it and beginning to respond to it, were at the same time 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 take the final step of faith out of the shadows and into the light of Jesus Christ Who Himself declared "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life." (Jn 8:12). As we the writer of Hebrews has been showing them over and over, there was really nothing for them to go back to. He is arguing why go back to a shadow with the Substance has come? (Col 2:17) Since Christ had rendered the Law obsolete by His atoning death, God was not pleased by the continual offering of sacrifices (Heb 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 (Heb 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. But that good thing, that benefit could only be grasp by grace through faith.

THOUGHT - Have you taken that step of faith, taking hold by faith of the Light of the world? Or are you still living in the shadows, not really sure that Jesus is the only way, the only truth and the only life and that no soul will ever come to God the Father but through God the Son, Jesus, the "Mediator" or "go between" of the New Covenant (Jn 14:6, Heb 9:15)? Dear reader, "behold now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Cor 6:2) Don't put off today, what you may not be able to do tomorrow, for as James says "you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." (James 4:14) God is saying to you today "Look unto me, and be ye saved." (Isaiah 45:22KJV) 

For - Term of explanation - always pause and ponder these "hinge" word as it will open a door and give understanding to the passages in context. 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)

S Lewis Johnson on "for" - Notice the first word of chapter 10, “For.” Now, this makes the connection, carrying on from verse 26 of chapter 9, where he said, “He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world, but now once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, for” to further explain, “the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.” In other words, the Old Testament presents us with an in-efficacious system of salvation. Now, one might ask, “Since he has just said in verse 26, ‘That He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, once at the end of the ages,’ why does the author go over this?” And say the same thing in chapter 10, verse 1 through verse 4, essentially, that what he seems to be saying. Well, I could take my place behind that and say the author is repeating his message, and so I’m repeating my message to you tonight, but that isn’t precisely the sense. If you’ll notice carefully, chapter 9, and we don’t have time to do it, and you don’t have time to study it either while I’m speaking because I want you to pay attention to what I’m saying now, but, anyway, you’ll note in chapter 9, when he talks about the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, he talks about the objective benefits of the Cross of Christ, primarily. But, in chapter 10, now, verse 1 through verse 18, he emphasizes the subjective effects of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Like verse 10, “By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Verse 14, “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” In other words, the stress in chapter 10, is on the benefits that are ours whereas in chapter 9, the stress is on the objective benefits of what Christ has done. But the insufficiency of the Mosaic sacrifices is stated first of all. “The law having a shadow of good things to come.” Coming events cast their shadow before them, is one of our modern sayings and here we have an illustration of it, because in the Old Testament Law and the types of the Old Testament are designed to cast their shadow before them so that we would see the Lord Jesus Christ when he did come and recognize him. (The Shadow and the Reality)

Brian Bell - Here in Hebrews 10:1-4 the writer wraps up this contrast between the earthly lambs/daily sacrifices and The Heavenly Lamb/Jesus.

Earthly lambs - Frequency (again & again) & Failure (never to take sin away).

The sacrifices under the Old Covenant brought a reminder of sin, not a remission of sin.

Heavenly Lamb - Frequency (just once for all) & Fulfillment (for by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified).

So, Jesus had Mastery/Superiority over this old system, old covenant, shadow, copy. (Sermon)

Stedman - In verses 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.

Morris - “The law” means strictly the law of Moses, but here it stands for the whole OT, with particular reference to the sacrificial system." (EBC)

Spurgeon says the law here "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."

Law ("The Old System under the law of Moses" NLT)(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.

One might ask at this point that if the law was only a shadow and all the Jews in the OT had was the Law, how could they ever be saved? Good question. Many believers are confused on this point. How are we saved? By grace through faith in Jesus Christ, the once for all time sacrifice! And indeed that is the only way any man is saved. Forgiveness was not extended to the Israelites based on the animal sacrifices the priest offered on their behalf, but was based on the future fulfilment of what those sacrifices represented. It was never God’s intention for the Mosaic Covenant to solve the problem of sin but always to point a "divine finger" to the Sin Bearer, the perfect sacrificial offering of the Lamb of God Who alone takes away the sins of the world. 

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....A man could go to the Levitical sacrifices twenty years running, and yet be no forwarder. He must go again and again as long as he lived. They were only figures and shadows and types; the real sacrifice is Christ.

Read Colossians 2:16-17+ which is a commentary on Hebrews 10:1...

Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day– things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

ILLUSTRATIONS - 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 (so to speak) penciled in the outlines in the OT sacrifices 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".

Rich Cathers - The Law was just a model of what was coming. A model airplane can give you an idea of what an airplane is like, but it’s not going to take you anywhere. The Law was not intended to make anyone “perfect”. (Sermon)

J Vernon McGee notes that "the nation of Israel had the Old Testament, which was (and still is) a picture book, a book of ABCs. That is the reason so many folk miss its meaning. When theologians come to it, they have to find something profound in it. But it is a simple picture book in which God is trying to tell all of us little children down here that He died for us. It is just as simple as that, my friend. (Thru the Bible)

R Kent Hughes - Soon after I began to date my future wife, Barbara, I obtained her picture—a beautiful black-and-white 8 x 10 photograph taken the year before we met—and it immediately became an item of pre-nuptial “worship.” It was one of those bare-shouldered, sorority-style pictures so popular at the time. She looked like an angel floating in the clouds. It became my portable hope, most often sitting on my desk, sometimes in my car, at other times propped in front of my plate and my love-struck eyes. However, the day came when we stood before God and our families and friends and pledged our lives to each other as she became mine. Suddenly I had gone from the possession of a one-dimensional portrait to the possession of the real thing, who smiled, talked, and laughed—a real, three-dimensional wife—a living, life-loving soul! And the picture? It remained just as beautiful, but from then on it received relatively scant attention. But imagine that one day I appear before my wife holding the black-and-white photograph, and I say, “My dear, I’ve missed your picture, and I’m going back to it. I really am attached to the silhouette and the monochrome shading and the matte finish.” Then I passionately kiss the glass protecting the photograph, clutch it to my chest, and exit mumbling my devotion to the picture—“I love you, O photograph of my wife. You’re everything to me.” People’s suspicions that pastors are weird would be confirmed. Time to call for the men in the white jackets! How absurd for anyone, once having the substance, to go back to the shadow. Yet, some in the early church were forsaking the Covenant of Grace for the Old Covenant of the Law. And this is what the author of Hebrews wants to steel his people against as he concludes his comparison of the Old and New Covenants in 10:1–18. (Preaching the Word - Hebrews)

Barclay - To the writer to the Hebrews the whole business of sacrifice was only a pale copy of what real worship ought to be. The business of religion was to bring a man into a close relationship with God and that is what these sacrifices could never do. The best that they could do was to give him a distant and spasmodic contact with God. (Hebrews)

Stedman illustrates a shadow - 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.

 "A shadow indicates a reality,
but has no substance in itself."

Shadow (4639) (skia) describes that pattern which is thrown by an object when light falls upon the original object. It means a nebulous reflection, a mere silhouette, a form without reality. 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.

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)

The adjective pale when referring to light means lacking in intensity or brightness, dim or feeble, and also conveys the meaning of that which lacks vitality or effectiveness

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 ritual 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.

The pale shadow of the Law pointed to the Powerful Savior Who kept the Law.

S Lewis Johnson - The expression shadow means the outline, the silhouette, the law having the outline of the good things to come, the silhouette of the good things to come. We read the Old Testament in that way. We read through the Old Testament and we, on the authority of the New Testament, we look for the things that remind us of the things that we know have come to pass and further explain it. That’s one of the great benefits of reading the Bible. (The Shadow and the Reality)

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.”

Charles Pfeiffer -  As a shadow the Law served to prepare men’s hearts for the reality, but after Jesus came the shadows would no longer be meaningful. The annual repetition of the Levitical offerings was itself evidence that there was nothing final about them. (The Epistle of the Hebrews)

Ray Stedman has an interesting illustration 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!)

These animal deaths were unwilling, even unconscious, sacrifices of a lower and quite different nature and therefore inadequate substitutes for humans made in the image of God. It is impossible, says the author, for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin. Isaiah had quoted God long before saying, "I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats" (Is 1:11). Nevertheless, despite this limitation, through the deaths of many animals, one unchanging message was being pounded out. Every sacrifice declared it and every offering told the same story. It was burned in blood and smoke into every listening heart. The essential point for a God-approved dealing with sin in one's life was that a life be laid down. Every dying animal meant a life brought to an end. Sin was serious; it forfeited life. Unless the sin could actually be removed, the sinner must die. To save the sinner from such a fate, an equal and willing substitute must be found. Such a substitute the author now finds described in the words of Psalm 40. (Hebrews Commentary)

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)

Morris - The good things that are coming are not defined, but the general term is sufficient to show that the law pointed forward to something well worthwhile. (EBC)

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.

A T Robertson makes an excellent point that "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)."

Morris "The 'shadow' [Gr. skia] then is the preliminary outline that an artist may make before he gets to his colors, and the eikon [lit. image, "form"] is the finished portrait. The author is saying that the law is no more than a preliminary sketch. It shows the shape of things to come, but the solid reality is not there."

Barclay says form (eikon) "means a complete representation, a detailed reproduction. It actually does mean a portrait, and would mean a photograph, if there had been such a thing in those days. In effect he is saying: "Without Christ you cannot get beyond the shadows of God."

Form (1504) (eikon) is an artistic representation, as one might see on a coin or statue (an image or a likeness, as in Mt 22.20). It is a mirror-like representation, referring to what is very close in resemblance (like a "high-definition" projection, as defined by the context). Eikon as in the present verse can refer to a visible manifestation of an invisible and heavenly reality form.  Image exactly reflects its source or what it directly corresponds to. In the present passage to whom does the image refer? Let's look at a parallel use of this same Greek word for image...

And even if our Gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the image (eikon) of God. (2 Cor 4:3-4+, cf Heb 1:3+)

THOUGHT - What is exciting is that once a Jew (or any lost person) stepped by faith from the shadow of the law into the light of Christ, they immediately began to enjoy some of the good things that resulted from God's gracious gift of His Son, and one of those incredible blessings uses the very same Greek word for "form." Paul explains this good thing writing "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image (eikon) from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.." (2 Cor 3:18+) And what is the image into which the Holy Spirit is transforming us from one degree of glory to another? It is none other than the image of Christ Himself.

Paul echoes this truth in Ro 8:29+ " those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son." So this is ongoing transformation into Christlikeness. But it gets even better for John writes "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is." (1 Jn 3:2+) WE SHALL BE LIKE CHRIST SOME DAY SOON (all time relative to eternity is "soon" whether you are 7 or 70 years of age!) This is the believer's blessed hope, not a worldly hope which is a "hope so," but it is a heavenly hope which is a "hope sure." And John does not stop by giving us that glorious hope, but he makes that truth practical by calling for application to our day to day lives writing that "everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." (1 Jn 3:3+) In Or as John Piper says in “You can’t put your hope in all that God promises to be for us in Christ and live like everyone else who depends on money, security, and prestige for contentment.” Piper adds that "A person who hopes intensely in Jesus Christ, who longs to see Him and be with Him, will inevitably start to think and feel and act like Jesus." Or to say it another way "What we are looking for, will radically affect what we are living for." If we we are looking for Jesus to return every morning, you are more likely to be daily living for His Return. And so to come back full circle to the "good things" - one of those good things of the Gospel is motivation to live a holy life Coram Deo (before the face of God). 

The form or image to which the writer is directing his Jewish readers is to Yeshua, to the Masyiach, to Jesus their long expected Messiah. He has come. He is the very "Image (eikon) of God" and they need to stop holding onto shadows by their works by which they sought to attain righteousness but take hold of Christ by faith Who thereby becomes their perfect righteousness, a righteousness that they could never obtain by dead works (cf Isaiah 64:6, Heb 6:1). 

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 - NAS = form(1), image(19), likeness(3).

Matt 22:20; Mark 12:16; Luke 20:24; Rom 1:23; 8:29; 1 Cor 11:7; 15:49; 2 Cor 3:18; 2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15; 3:10; Heb 10:1; Rev 13:14f; 14:9, 11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4.

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) and all of the "good things" associated with salvation - accepted in the Beloved, fellow heirs with Christ, recipients of the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the list goes on and on. 

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)

Kent Hughes - Imperfect Cleansing

Of course, the author of Hebrews was not the first to understand that animal blood would not atone for sins. Scriptural writers had been alert to this for hundreds of years. David’s repentant words head the list: “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:16, 17). Consider also Samuel’s words to King Saul: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22). And Isaiah said:

“The multitude of your sacrifices—what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings!” (Isaiah 1:11–13a)

Later Isaiah expressed God’s displeasure at offerings when one’s heart is not right:

But whoever sacrifices a bull is like one who kills a man, and whoever offers a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck; whoever makes a grain offering is like one who presents pig’s blood, and whoever burns memorial incense, like one who worships an idol. They have chosen their own ways.… For when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, no one listened. (66:3, 4)

Similarly, Jeremiah inveighed against sacrifices presented without an obedient heart:

“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go ahead, add your burnt offerings to your other sacrifices and eat the meat yourselves! For when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people.” (Jeremiah 7:21–23)

God said through Hosea, “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6). And Amos shared God’s thoughts about wrong-hearted sacrifices:

“I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:21–24)

Lastly, we include the famous words of Micah:

With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:6–8) (Preaching the Word - Hebrews II)

ILLUSTRATION of knowing the word in the OT but missing the Living Word to Whom the entire OT pointed! - While studying in the Holy Lands, a seminary professor of mine met a man who claimed to have memorized the Old Testament--in Hebrew! Needless to say, the astonished professor asked for a demonstration. A few days late they sat together in the man's home. "Where shall we begin?" asked the man. "Psalm 1," replied my professor, who was an avid student of the psalms. Beginning with Psalm 1:1, the man began to recite from memory, while my professor followed along in his Hebrew Bible. For two hours the man continued word for word without a mistake as the professor sat in stunned silence. When the demonstration was over, my professor discovered something even more astonishing about the man--he was an atheist! Here was someone who knew the Scriptures better than most Christians ever will, and yet he didn't even believe in God. (Jack Kuhatschek, Taking The Guesswork Out of Applying The Bible, IVP, 1991, p. 16.) And of course the devil has memorized Scripture (which he used on Jesus in the wilderness temptation) but it has no impact on him!impact on him!

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
  • Hebrews 10 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

NLT  Hebrews 10:1 The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. 

Phillips: Consequently it was incapable of perfecting the souls of those who offered their regular annual sacrifices.

OT SACRIFICES NEVER
MAKE "PERFECT"

Can (1410) (dunamai - see dunamis) means the OT sacrificial system absolutely never had the power, the achieving power, the intrinsic power to cleanse the heart of a sinner from sin. In short, the yearly sacrifices lacked 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. The phrase year by year points to the yearly sacrifices associated with the annual Day of Atonement ceremonies. 

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. Notice the writer's simple logical argument. 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)

Spurgeon on make perfect - 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.

In fact the true is no law of any genre can actually save a believer! And so Ray Stedman says that "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)

This same verb make perfect is used in Hebrews 10:14 to explains that "by one offering He (JESUS) has perfected (teleioo) for all time those who are (continually being) sanctified (speaks of ongoing or progressive sanctification)." 

Rich Cathers - This is a word we’ve seen several times through Hebrews, and it not only carries the idea of “perfect”, but even “mature”. You are not going to be a mature Christian if you are clinging to the Law. (Sermon)

Spurgeon - There is the word perfect, which is implied in the verse that follows: “For then [if they had been perfect] would they not have ceased to be offered?” (Heb 10:2). Why offer any more, if you are already a perfect man? Because, if the sacrifice is perfect, “the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins” (v. 2).

Make perfect (5048) (teleioo related to teleios from telos = 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 and in the present context clearly speaks of salvation. One could illustrate the reaching of the end or aim by comparing it to an old pirate's telescope, which unfolds or extends out one stage at a time until it is fully extended and thereby able to function at full-capacity. The sacrifices were like the first column of the telescope and could go no farther than point to the object which in this case was the Cross of Christ, which was the goal of the sacrifices. Stated another way the sacrifices could only point to fact that shedding of blood was necessary to remove sins, but the sacrifices could not remove the sins. Only the blood of Christ can wash away my sins. Only the blood of Christ can make a soul perfect.  

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my cleansing this I see—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
For my pardon this my plea—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

Nothing can my sin erase
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
Naught of works, ’tis all of grace—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

This is all my hope and peace—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
This is all my righteousness—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

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. 

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)

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 and 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)

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

FREE FROM THE LAW
Click to play (or here)

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.

BACKGROUND ON THE HYMN BY PHILIP BLISS - Just be­fore Christ­mas, 1871, Mrs. Bliss asked a friend, What shall I get for my hus­band as a Christ­mas pre­sent and, at the sug­gest­ion of this friend, pur­chased and pre­sent­ed him with the bound vol­ume of a month­ly Eng­lish per­i­od­ic­al called Things New and Old. Ma­ny things in these books of in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Script­ure and il­lus­tra­tions of Gospel truth were blessed to him, and from the read­ing of some­thing in one of these books…sug­gest­ed this glor­i­ous Gos­pel song.  (Memoirs of Phillip Bliss by D W Whittle)

"It was while singing from this scrap book, 'Jesus of Nazareth Passeth By,' 'Prodigal Child, Come Home,' and Mr. Bliss's 'Hold the Fort,' 'Jesus Loves Even Me,' and 'Free from the Law,' in the old cathedral city of York, and in Sunderland, England, that we began fully to realize the wonderful power there was in these Gospel songs. (DID YOU HEAR THAT WORD - THESE OLD, OLD HYMNS HAD "POWER!" WHY HAVE WE CEASED TO PLAY THEM IN OUR CHURCHES? SO SAD AND SUCH A LOSS OF POTENTIAL POWER!) (P. P. Bliss, His Life & Life Works)

Related Resources:


Today in the Word - ILLUSTRATION OF SHADOW - 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. (EDITORIAL COMMENT - SUGGESTION FOR ILLUSTRATING THE BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATION! HAVE THE LIGHTS IN SANCTUARY DIMMED. THEN GET A BRIGHT FLASHLIGHT AND MAKE A RABBIT WITH YOUR HAND. ASK EVERYONE WHAT THEY SEE AND MOST WILL HOPEFULLY SAY A RABBIT. YOU CAN THEN EXPLAIN THE ANALOGY THAT THE LAW WAS ONLY A SHADOW POINTING TO THE REALITY THAT MADE THE SHADOW, IN THE CASE OF THE BIBLE, NOT A MAN'S HAND BUT THE MAN CHRIST JESUS. A VARIATION COULD BE TO MAKE A SIMPLE WOODEN CROSS AND SHINE THE FLASHLIGHT ON THE CROSS TO MAKE THE POINT THAT THE SHADOW WAS NOT THE CROSS BUT THAT THE CROSS AS THE REALITY BEHIND THE SHADOW AND THUS THE OLD TESTAMENT AND THE SACRIFICIAL SYSTEM WAS A DIVINELY ORDAINED SHADOW THAT POINTED TO THE CROSS OF CHRIST)

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?

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 BECAUSE THE WORSHIPERS HAVING ONCE BEEN CLEANSED WOULD NO LONGER HAVE HAD CONSCIOUSNESS OF SINS: epei ouk an epausanto (3PAMI) prospheromenai (PPPFPN) dia to medemian echein (PAN) eti suneidesin hamartion tous latreuontas (PAPMPA) hapax kekatharismenous (RPPMPA)::

  • He 10:17; 9:13,14; Psalms 103:12; Isaiah 43:25; 44:22; Micah 7:19
  • Hebrews 10 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

SACRIFICES DID NOT CEASE BECAUSE
THEY DID CLEANSE THE CONSCIENCE

Otherwise (1893) is a conjunction which means in other respects or under different conditions. The KJV has "For then" the point being that if they had been effectual, would not they have ceased? And the answer is of course they would have ceased. But they did not cease, so the writer's logic is that they were not effective. The New Living Translation helps understand "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."

Barclay reasons that 'Year by year the sacrifices of the Tabernacle and especially of the Day of Atonement go on. An effective thing does not need to be done again; the very fact of the repetition of these sacrifices is the final proof that they are not purifying men's souls and not giving full and uninterrupted access to God." (Ibid)

David Gooding on the phrase "Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered" : “At no point did they feel that the price of sin had finally been paid completely. If they had, they would not have offered another sacrifice ever. After all, you don’t keep on paying monthly installments when the mortgage on your house has been completely paid off.” (An Unshakeable Kingdom: The Letter to the Hebrews for Today)

Spurgeon rightly asks "Why offer any more, if you are already a perfect man? Because, if the sacrifice is perfect, “the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins”. 

Cease (3973) (pauo) 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).

To be 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.

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)

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The worshipers (3000) (latreuo 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"…

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.

I. THE "ONCE" OF A COMPLETED WORK

(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.

II. "A SACRIFICE!"

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.

III. THE "ONCE" OF MORTALITY

(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.

IV. THE "ONCE" OF DEITY

(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.

V. THE "ONCE" OF A PURGED CONSCIENCE

(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."

VI. THE "ONCE" OF A FULFILLED PURPOSE

(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.

ILLUSTRATION of the consciousness of sins in our conscience! - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes detective novels, was a practical joker. One time he sent a telegram to twelve famous people in London whom he knew. It read: “Flee at once. All is discovered.” Although all twelve were upright citizens, they all quickly left the country. That story may be fictitious, but it illustrates the fact that a guilty conscience is a common thing. Even in the church many are uncertain about their standing before God because of past sins. These ghosts from the past stay out of sight for a while, but then they come out of nowhere to haunt them. They wonder if anyone else knows what they have done. They’re fearful that the truth may leak out. But even more seriously, they wonder if God has truly forgiven them. They’re not sure how it will go when they stand before Him someday. Will God punish them in this life or in eternity for the terrible things that they have done? Such people need the assurance that our text hammers home (really in Hebrews 10:1-18) (Steven Cole)

Pfeiffer - The worshiper who brought his sacrifice to the Tabernacle or the Temple did not leave with the thought that his problems were solved. He had performed the prescribed rite, but he carried with him a continuing consciousness of sin. He knew it would be necessary to return again and again. The guilt of sin lay heavy on the sinner. (Ibid)

Consciousness (conscience)(4893) (suneidesis from sun = with + eido = know) literally means a "knowing with", a "joint-knowing," 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 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.

Suneidesis - 30x in 29v - NAS = conscience(24), conscience'(4), consciences(1), consciousness(1).

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.

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. 

Marvin Vincent on conscience - In Scripture we are to view conscience, as Dr. Ellicott remarks, not in its abstract nature, but in its practical manifestations. The conscience may be weak (1 Cor 8:7,12) – even "evil or defiled" (Heb 10:22; Tit 1:15). It may be "seared" (1 Tim 4:2) becoming hardened and insensible to good. "On the other hand, it may be 'pure' (2 Tim 1:3) unveiled, and giving honest and clear moral testimony. It may be 'void of offence' (Ac 24:16) unconscious of evil intent or act; 'good,' or 'honorable' (Heb 13:18)"

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)

THE SACRIFICES OF THE LAW
CANNOT MAKE PERFECT
Hebrews 10:1-4.
Andrew Murray

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

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