Hebrews 10:11-18


Hebrews 10:11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.

"And," not translated from the Greek by NIV, introduces the final elaboration. Here we reach the climax of Hebrews. Note the beautiful comparison in verses 11-12: many priests and many sacrifices compared to one priest and one sacrifice.

Kistemaker: The quotation from Psalm 40:6-8 included the work of the high priest on the Day of Atonement and the daily duties of every priest.
Lenski: This is the climax. This is the heart of all Scripture.

Hebrews 10:12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.

Note the vicarious usage of "for all." In verse 11 the two participles were present tense, denoting constant action. Here it is aorist, denoting completed action. Furthermore, in verse 11 the priest "stands." Here, Christ "sits." 

Kistemaker: He entered a period of rest after accomplishing his work of creation.

If that is so, both Genesis 2:2 and our verse point us to everlasting life. A sermon idea perhaps. Note that Psalm 110:1 is again alluded to. Psalm 110:1 is quoted sixteen times in the New Testament.

At this point we are reminded that Reformed and Lutheran doctrine differ decidedly concerning the communication of attributes in Christ, here particularly the genus majestaticum. 

Hebrews 10:13 Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool,

Verses 11-13 are a compound-complex sentence. In verse 11 we have the first main clause followed by a subordinate adjectival clause. In verse 12 we have another main clause preceded by a subordinate adverbial clause. Verse 13 amounts to an adverbial clause modifying "when." 

The only indefinite item is the time. All else is certain. Jesus' enemies are all those angels and human beings who resist the Holy Spirit and the Gospel. Jesus' enemies will be placed under His feet at the time of the final judgment. TEV wrongly makes this verse locative: "There he now waits, etc." 

Hebrews 10:14 because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

An explanation. This verse is saying: "Let the sanctified (those who have been called to faith and are living a Godly life) comfort themselves with the fact that Christ completed all long ago for all." On the nexus between justification and sanctification here, look at 1 John 1:7b. The tense of "has made perfect" denotes a state. Wherein does the "perfection" of this verse consist? On "perfect" look at 2:10; 5:9; 7:19,28; 10:40; 12:23, and on the same word form see 6:1; 7:11; 12:2. Hebrews is the Epistle of "the perfection." John 19:30 keeps ringing in our ears.

Hebrews 10:15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:

The Holy Spirit testifies to Christ in both Testaments. Verses 15-17 says: "The greatest gift, forgiveness of sin, has been accomplished." 

Rienecker: The testimony of Scripture is the testimony of God.

Hebrews 10:16  "This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." 

The use of the passage from Jeremiah 31 differs here from its application at 8:8ff. There we are told that a new covenant replaces the old. Here we are told that its main purpose is the message of the forgiveness of sins.

There is a difference of opinion on the construction of verses 16-17. Nestle, Lenski and NASB take it thus: "For after having said: This is the testament which I will draw up after those days -- the Lord says: I will give my laws upon their hearts, and on their minds will I inscribe them; and their sins and their lawlessnesses I will not remember any longer." 

But Westcott, Bruce, Kistemaker, LB, RSV, NIV, NEB, TEV, AAT and NKJV read thus: "For after that He hath said, this is the covenant that I will covenant with them after those days, saith the Lord, even putting my laws upon their hearts, and upon their mind will I write them:  then saith He and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." 

Perhaps the KJV is ambiguous here. The variant readings for verse 17 are not well attested, but they do show how some ancients understood this passage. The conclusion, verse 18, argues for the latter reading.

Kretzmann thinks that "law" here indicates the Gospel proclamation. Lenski disagrees. Note the parallelism in lines 3-4 and verse 16.

Hebrews 10:17 Then he adds: "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." 

Sermon idea: remember -- not remember, 10:3 and 17.

The author uses two nouns for "sins" to make sure that the readers understand clearly the universal atonement.

Does this verse mean:

  1. All Jewish and Gentile Christians only? or

  2.  All Jews and all Gentiles? or

  3. All Jewish and Gentile Christians are assured of what Christ did for all.

Could this verse be used as a proof that the guilt of all sin is erased? Of course. This is mentioned here because some say that the Bible does not say in ipsissimis verbis that the guilt of sin is removed in Christ. But this truth is implicit in hundreds of passages.

Hebrews 10:18 And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.

This verse is saying that forgiveness of sins is an accomplished fact for all people because there is no further sacrifice for sin. This brings the doctrinal part of the letter to a close.


Adapted for Buls' Notes on the Web, from Exegetical Notes Epistle Texts, Series B, Sundays After Pentecost By Harold H. Buls, PageS 96-97

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