Hebrews 10:5-10


Hebrews chapters 4-10 contains some of the richest Christology in the New Testament.   Hebrews 4:14 to 5:10 tells us about Jesus the great High Priest. Psalm 110:4 is the writer's text.  5:11 to 6:8 warns us of spiritual ignorance and stagnation, forgetting what Christ really means for us.    6:9-20 tells us that, like Abraham, we should persevere, for God has promised and sworn to deliver us.  At 7:1-10 we read of Melchizedek the great Old Testament type of Jesus, the High Priest.  At 7:11-28 the writer tells us of the change from the Old Covenant to the New and the superiority of the latter.   At 8:1-13 we read of the New Covenant, beautifully foretold by Jeremiah in 31:31-34.   9:1-10 tells us of the Old Covenant sanctuary and 9:11-22 informs us of Christ and the New Sanctuary.   At 9:23-28 we read of the perfect sacrifice of Christ.   And at 10:1-10, we read of the Old and the New order.

The Highpriesthood of Jesus Christ pervades chapters 4 to 10. At 10:11-18 this section reaches its climax. Chapter 10 is the grand finale to the Christological section of this book.  Verses 1-5 show us that the Mosaic Law, with emphasis on the Ceremonial Law, simply cannot bring the sinner to God. The constant repetition of the Old Testament sacrifices cause consciousness of sin but not deliverance therefrom.

Verse 4 reads: "For it is impossible for the blood of bullocks and goats to remove sin."

Verses 5 through 10, our text for today, inform us that Christ came to do that which the Ceremonial Law could not perform. This text is likely chosen for Advent IV because Jesus initiated the new order. But John the Baptist and Jesus came preaching:  "Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is now here."

Hebrews 10:5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:  "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me;

"Therefore," or consequently. This word points back to verses 1-4 which dwell on the inadequacy of the Old Testament sacrifices to help sinful man.

Rienecker: The words are considered prophetic, depicting beforehand the mind of Christ regarding Old Testament sacrifice, and His own mission.
The participle denotes the motto and mind of Christ since birth. Look at John 1:9; 6:14; 11:27; Luke 2:49-51. It is plain from this text in Hebrews that Psalm 40, in its entirety, is Messianic. The preacher ought to read the entire Psalm before he proceeds any further.

Luther's exegesis of Galatians 3:13 is superb. If the preacher wants to know what Paul meant when he said: "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law" let him read Luther. Where Luther is treating Galatians 3:13, Psalm 40:12 is cited. It reads: "For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see."

Luther: In these Psalms (he cites two others) the Holy Spirit is speaking in the Person of Christ and testifying in clear words that He has sinned or has sins. These testimonies of the psalms are not the words of an innocent one; they are the words of the suffering Christ, who undertook to bear the person of all sinners and therefore was made guilty of the sins of the entire world.

Luther's comments give added meaning to our text in Hebrews 10. Psalm 40:6-8 reads:  " Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced ; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. 7 Then I said, 'Here I am, I have come -- it is written about me in the scroll. 8 I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.'"

In what sense does Christ in prophecy mean:  "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire?"  God did not desire them when they became a mere empty ritual, no longer a shadow of things to come. Furthermore, it is clear from the context of this passage that Christ Himself will be the sacrifice. The writer of Hebrews had just said:  "It is impossible for the blood of bullocks and goats to remove sin." These animal sacrifices were not an end in themselves. They pointed to the Christ Who was to come.

"But a body you prepared for me."  According to the Massoretic text this line reads:  "but my ears you have pierced."

Rienecker: The words 'a body you have prepared for me' were evidently taken from the LXX and are an interpretative paraphrase of the Hebrews text. it could have been that the Greek translators regarded the Hebrews words as an instance of 'a part of the whole,' i.e., the 'digging' or hollowing out of the ears is part of the total work of fashioning a body. It may also have been that the 'ears' were taken as a symbol of obedience in that they were the organ of reception of the divine will and the body was considered the organ of the fulfillment of the divine will.

In any case, the Holy Spirit saw fit to permit the change from the Massoretic text. Very likely in the Psalm David is pictured as an obedient type of Christ. Christ, the antitype, says of Himself  "a body you prepared for me." The change which the Holy Spirit permitted to be made here is a fortunate one because Christ used the body which God had prepared for Him as a sacrifice for sin.

Hebrews 10:6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.

The thought in this verse is similar to the parallel line in the previous verse. Old Testament sacrifices and offerings were not able to remove sins. That does not mean that these sacrifices and offerings were optional. But they pointed forward to Christ, the perfect sacrifice, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

By the way, the contrast in verses 5-7 does not lie between sacrifice and obedience, but between the involuntary animal sacrifice and the obedience of Christ and His sacrifice. That becomes clear in the next verse.

Hebrews 10:7 Then I said, 'Here I am -- it is written about me in the scroll -- I have come to do your will, O God.'"

Some translations omit the word in Greek here that means  "Look!"  in the sense of  "Note this!"

"Here I am" denotes a willingness on the part of the speaker.

Beginning with "It is written" we have a parenthetical thought.

"Scroll" containing the books of Moses in which the will of God and the way of obedience were written

"Written," the verb which is often used in the New Testament for the inerrant, recorded Word of God.

An interesting English translation has  "just as I was commanded in the scroll of the book."  This bring out the thought which pervades the text: the total obedience of Christ.

Though Jesus is true God, here, as a true human being He addresses God. Not the deep humiliation of our Lord not only in this verse but also in the other. The incarnate Christ had but one objective: to do the will of His Father. That thought pervades Messianic prophecy, the Gospels and the Epistles.

Hebrews 10:8 First he said,  "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them"  (although the law required them to be made).

"First He said."  "In the former part of the quotation," or  "After saying the above." Note that the quotation is a conflation of the first three lines of the quotation in the Greek text, but that the second line is omitted. This is what is called the concessive use of the relative pronoun. The writer inserts this thought lest we downgrade the Law, and secondly, to set the obedient willingness of Christ in bold relief.

Hebrews 10:9 Then he said,  "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second.

"Then He said," is "Then He added." 

What does the text mean when it says: "He takes away the first in order to establish the second"? The meaning is very simple: The Old Testament ceremonies and figures (such as the sacrifices and Melchizedek as a type) were abrogated and fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The entire Scriptures and the two covenants pivot on Jesus Christ. The fourth Sunday in Advent comes just before Christ burst upon the scene.

Hebrews 10:10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

In verse 9 we read of the will of the God who sent Christ into the world to atone for man's sin. In this verse we are speaking about the will of the incarnate Christ. He came to do the will of the Father. And by Christ's will we are sanctified.

In verses 9 and 10 we are told that God willed that the Messiah, without being ordered, acted on His own volition. Look at John 10:17-18. Total willing obedience in man is what God desires. Look at 1 Samuel 15:22. The will mentioned in verse 10 is the will of God fulfilled in and by Christ.

But its uses synonyms for this verb. It uses made holyto cleanseto perfect, to bring to the goal. In other words, in Hebrews to sanctify includes justification. "To cleanse" means to cleanse of sin.  Each of these powerful verbs should be studied.

"Once for all" means we have been permanently sanctified, or we have been permanently saved. How? One translation says:  "By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all."

The context clearly shows that we are speaking about the atonement. Verses 11-18 which follow our text, have been called the climax of this Epistle. These verses clearly show the universal nature of the offering of Christ for all people.

The Apology  refers to this passage twice.

There are two, and only two, basic types of sacrifice in the Old Testament. One is the propitiatory sacrifice; this is a work of satisfaction for guilt and punishment that reconciles God or placates his wrath or merits the forgiveness of sins for others. The other type is the eucharistic sacrifice; this does not merit the forgiveness of sins or reconciliation, but by it those who have been reconciled give thanks or show their gratitude for the forgiveness of sins and other blessings received.     In this controversy as well as in many others, we must never lose sight of these two types of sacrifices and be very careful not to confuse them. If the limits of this book permitted, we would enumerate the many proofs for this distinction found in the Epistle to the Hebrews and elsewhere. Art. XXIV, 19-20 (Tappert p. 252)

Tappert notes Hebrews 10:5-16 in a footnote as an example of what the Apology means. The propitiatory sacrifices and the thank-offerings were typical of justification and sanctification. In Christ both types were united into one. He is our justification and sanctification.

The other reference in the Apology is found on the next page in Tappert, paragraph 22:

There has really been only one propitiatory sacrifice in the world, the death of Christ, as the Epistle to the Hebrews teaches in 10:4.

A little later it says about the will of Christ, verse 10:  "By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ one for all."


Adapted from Exegetical Notes, Series C Epistle Texts, Festival Season Sundays, by Harold H. Buls, Concordia Theological Seminary Press: Ft Wayne IN, 1985, pp. 11-14. Used with permission.

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