Hebrews Chapter 10:1-4
1. For the law having a shadow of good things to come, [and] not
the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they
offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
1. Umbram enim habens lex futurorum bonorum, non ipsam vivam imaginem
rerum, sacrificiis quae quotannis eadem continenter offeruntur nunquam
potest eos qui accedunt perficere (vel, sanctificare.)
2. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that
the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
2. Alioqui annon desiisent offeri? propterea quod nullam amplius
conscientiam peccatorum haberent cultores semel purgati.
3. But in those [sacrifices there is] a remembrance again [made]
of sins every year.
3. Atqui in his fit quotannis commemoratio peccatorum.
4. For [it is] not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats
should take away sins.
4. Impossible enim est ut sanguis taurorum tollat peccata.
1. For the Law having a shadow, etc. He has borrowed this similitude
from the pictorial art; for a shadow here is in a sense different from
what it has in Colossians 2:17; where he calls the ancient rites or ceremonies
shadows, because they did not possess the real substance of what they represented.
But he now says that they were like rude lineaments, which shadow forth
the perfect picture; for 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 skiagrafi>a,
which you might call in Latin, “umbratilem”, shadowy. The Greeks had also
the eijkw<n, the full likeness. Hence also “eiconia” are called images
(imagines) in Latin, which represent to the life the form of men or of
animals or of places.
The difference then which the Apostle makes between the Law and the
Gospel is this, — that under the Law was shadowed forth only in rude and
imperfect lines what is under the Gospel set forth in living colors and
graphically distinct. He thus confirms again what he had previously said,
that the Law was not useless, nor its ceremonies unprofitable. For though
there was not in them the image of heavenly things, finished, as their
say, by the last touch of the artist; yet the representation, such as it
was, was of no small benefit to the fathers; but still our condition is
much more favorable. We must however observe, that the things which were
shown to them at a distance are the same with those which are now set before
our eyes. Hence to both the same Christ is exhibited, the same righteousness,
sanctification, and salvation; and the difference only is in the manner
of painting or setting them forth.
Of good things to come, etc. These, I think, are eternal things.
I indeed allow that the kingdom of Christ, which is now present with us,
was formerly announced as future; but the Apostle’s words mean that we
have a lively image of future blessings. He then understands that spiritual
pattern, the full fruition of which is deferred to the resurrection and
the future world. At the same time I confess again that these good things
began to be revealed at the beginning of the kingdom of Christ; but what
he now treats of is this, that they are not only future blessings as to
the Old Testament, but also with respect to us, who still hope for them.
Which they offered year by year, etc. He speaks especially of
the yearly sacrifice, mentioned in Leviticus 17, though all the sacrifices
are here included under one kind. Now he reasons thus: When there is no
longer any consciousness of sin, there is then no need of sacrifice; but
under the Law the offering of the same sacrifice was often repeated; then
no satisfaction was given to God, nor was guilt removed nor were consciences
appeased; were it otherwise there would have been made an end of sacrificing.
We must further carefully observe, that he calls those the same sacrifices
which were appointed for a similar purpose; for a better notion may be
formed of them by the design for which God instituted them, than by the
different beasts which were offered.
And this one thing is abundantly sufficient to confute and expose the
subtlety of the Papists, by which they seem to themselves ingeniously to
evade an absurdity in defending the sacrifice of the mass; for when it
is objected to them that the repetition of the sacrifice is superfluous,
since the virtue of that sacrifice which Christ offered is perpetual, they
immediately reply that the sacrifice in the mass is not different but the
same. This is their answer. But what, on the contrary, does the Apostle
say? He expressly denies that the sacrifice which is repeatedly offered,
though the same, is efficacious or capable of making an atonement. Now,
though the Papists should cry out a thousand times that the sacrifice which
Christ once offered is the same with, and not different from what they
make daily, I shall still always contend, according to the express words
of the Apostle, that since the offerings of Christ availed to pacify God,
not only an end was put to former sacrifices, but that it is also impious
to repeat the sacrifice. It is hence quite evident that the offering of
Christ in the mass is sacrilegious.
3. A remembrance again, etc. Though the Gospel is a message of
reconciliation with God, yet it is necessary that we should daily remember
our sins; but what the Apostle means is, that sins were brought to remembrance
that guilt might be removed by the means of the sacrifice then offered.
It is not, then, any kind of remembrance that is here meant, but that which
might lead to such a confession of guilt before God, as rendered a sacrifice
necessary for its removal.
Such is the sacrifice of the mass with the Papists; for they pretend
that by it the grace of God is applied to us in order that sins may be
blotted out. But since the Apostle concludes that the sacrifices of the
Law were weak, because they were every year repeated in order to obtain
pardon, for the very same reason it may be concluded that the sacrifice
of Christ was weak, if it must be daily offered, in order that its virtue
may be applied to us. With whatever masks, then, they may cover their mass,
they can never escape the charge of an atrocious blasphemy against Christ.
4. For it is not possible, etc. He confirms the former sentiment
with the same reason which he had adduced before, that the blood of beasts
could not cleanse souls from sin. The Jews, indeed, had in this a symbol
and a pledge of the real cleansing; but it was with reference to another,
even as the blood of the calf represented the blood of Christ. But the
Apostle is speaking here of the efficacy of the blood of beasts in itself.
He therefore justly takes away from it the power of cleansing. There is
also to be understood a contrast which is not expressed, as though he had
said, “It is no wonder that the ancient sacrifices were insufficient, so
that they were to be offered continually, for they had nothing in them
but the blood of beasts, which could not reach the conscience; but far
otherwise is the power of Christ’s blood: It is not then right to measure
the offering which he has made by the former sacrifices.”
Hebrews Chapter 10:5-10
5. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice
and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:
5. Quapropter egrediens in mundum dicit, Sacrificium et oblationem
noluisti, corpus autem aptasti mihi;
6. In burnt offerings and [sacrifices] for sin thou hast had no
6. Holocausta et victimas pro peccato non probasti;
7. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written
of me,) to do thy will, O God.
7. Tunc dixi, Ecce adsum; in capite libri scriptum est de me, ut
faciam, O Deus, voluntatem tuam.
8. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings
and [offering] for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure [therein];
which are offered by the law;
8. Quum prius dixesset, sacrificium et oblationem, holocausta et
victimas pro peccato noluisti, neque comprobasti quae secundum legem offeruntur;
9. Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away
the first, that he may establish the second.
9. Tunc dixit, Ecce adsum ut faciam, O Deus, voluntatem tuam, tollit
prius ut secundum statuat:
10. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of
the body of Jesus Christ once [for all].
10. In qua voluntate sanctificati sumus per oblationem corporis
Iesu Christi semel.
5. Wherefore, when he cometh, etc. This entering into the world
was the manifestation of Christ in the flesh; for when he put on man’s
nature that he might be a Redeemer to the world and appeared to men, he
is said to have then come into the world, as elsewhere he is said to have
descended from heaven. (John 6:41.) And yet the fortieth Psalm, which he
quotes, seems to be improperly applied to Christ, for what is found there
by no means suits his character, such as, “My iniquities have laid hold
on me,” except we consider that Christ willingly took on himself the sins
of his members. The whole of what is said, no doubt, rightly accords with
David; but as it is well known that David was a type of Christ, there is
nothing unreasonable in transferring to Christ what David declared respecting
himself, and especially when mention is made of abolishing the ceremonies
of the Law, as the case is in this passage. Yet all do not consider that
the words have this meaning, for they think that sacrifices are not here
expressly repudiated, but that the superstitious notion which had generally
prevailed, that the whole worship of God consisted in them, is what is
condemned; and if it be so, it may be said that this testimony has little
to do with the present question. It behaves us, then, to examine this passage
more minutely, that it may appear evident whether the apostle has fitly
Everywhere in the Prophets sentences of this kind occur, that sacrifices
do not please God, that they are not required by him, that he sets no value
on them; nay, on the contrary, that they are an abomination to him. But
then the blame was not in the sacrifices themselves, but what was adventitious
to them was referred to; for as hypocrites, while obstinate in their impiety,
still sought to pacify God with sacrifices, they were in this manner reproved.
The Prophets, then, rejected sacrifices, not as they were instituted by
God, but as they were vitiated by wicked men, and profaned through unclean
consciences. But here the reason is different, for he is not condemning
sacrifices offered in hypocrisy, or otherwise not rightly performed through
the depravity and wickedness of men; but he denies that they are required
of the faithful and sincere worshippers of God; for he speaks of himself
who offered them with a clean heart and pure hands, and yet he says that
they did not please God.
Were any one to except and say that they were not accepted on their
own account or for their own worthiness, but for the sake of something
else, I should still say that unsuitable to this place is an argument of
this kind; for then would men be called back to spiritual worship, when
ascribing too much to external ceremonies; then the Holy Spirit would be
considered as declaring that ceremonies are nothing with God, when by men’s
error they are too highly exalted.
David, being under the Law, ought not surely to have neglected the rite
of sacrificing. He ought, I allow, to have worshipped God with sincerity
of heart; but it was not lawful for him to omit what God had commanded,
and he had the command to sacrifice in common with all the rest. We hence
conclude that he looked farther than to his own age, when he said, Sacrifice
thou wouldest not. It was, indeed, in some respects true, even in David’s
time, that God regarded not sacrifices; but as they were yet all held under
the yoke of the schoolmaster, David could not perform the worship of God
in a complete manner, unless when clothed, so to speak, in a form of this
kind. We must, then, necessarily come to the kingdom of Christ, in order
that the truth of God’s unwillingness to receive sacrifice may fully appear.
There is a similar passage in Psalm 16:10, “Thou wilt not suffer thine
holy one to see corruption;” for though God delivered David for a time
from corruption, yet this was not fully accomplished except in Christ.
There is no small importance in this, that when he professes that he
would do the will of God, he assigns no place to sacrifices; for we hence
conclude that without them there may be a perfect obedience to God, which
could not be true were not the Law annulled. I do not, however, deny but
that David in this place, as well as in Psalm 51:16, so extenuated external
sacrifices as to prefer to them that which is the main thing; but there
is no doubt but that in both places he cast his eyes on the kingdom of
Christ. And thus the Apostle is a witness, that Christ is justly introduced
as the speaker in this Psalm, in which not even the lowest place among
God’s commandments is allowed to sacrifices, which God had yet strictly
required under the Law.
But a body hast thou prepared me, etc. The words of David are
different, “An ear hast thou bored for me,” a phrase which some think has
been borrowed from an ancient rite or custom of the Law, (Exodus 21:6;)
for if any one set no value on the liberty granted at the jubilee, and
wished to be under perpetual servitude, his ear was bored with an awl.
The meaning, as they thinks was this, “Thou shalt have me, O Lord, as a
servant forever.” I, however, take another view, regarding it as intimating
docility and obedience; for we are deaf until God opens our ears, that
is, until he corrects the stubbornness that cleaves to us. There is at
the same time an implied contrast between the promiscuous and vulgar mass,
(to whom the sacrifices were like phantoms without any power,) and David,
to whom God had discovered their spiritual and legitimate use and application.
But the Apostle followed the Greek translators when he said, “A body
hast thou prepared;” for in quoting these words the Apostles were not so
scrupulous, provided they perverted not Scripture to their own purpose.
We must always have a regard to the end for which they quote passages,
for they are very careful as to the main object, so as not to turn Scripture
to another meaning; but as to words and other things, which bear not on
the subject in hand, they use great freedom.
7. In the volume or chapter of the book, etc. Volume is properly
the meaning of the Hebrew word; for we know that books were formerly rolled
up in the form of a cylinder. There is also nothing unreasonable in understanding
book as meaning the Law, which prescribes to all God’s children the rule
of a holy life; though it seems to me a more suitable view to consider
him as saying, that he deemed himself to be in the catalogue of those who
render themselves obedient to God. The Law, indeed, bids us all to obey
God; but David means, that he was numbered among those who are called to
obey God; and then he testifies that he obeyed his vocation, by adding,
I come to do thy will; and this peculiarly belongs to Christ. For though
all the saints aspire after the righteousness of God, yet it is Christ
alone who was fully competent to do God’s will.
This passage, however, ought to stimulate us all to render prompt obedience
to God; for Christ is a pattern of perfect obedience for this end, that
all who are his may contend with one another in imitating him, that they
may together respond to the call of God, and that their life may exemplify
this saying, Lo, I come. To the same purpose is what follows, It is written,
that is, that we should do the will of God, according to what is said elsewhere,
that the end of our election is, to be holy and unblamable in his sight.
9. He taketh away, etc. See now why and for what purpose this
passage was quoted, even that we may know that the full and perfect righteousness
under the kingdom of Christ stands in no need of the sacrifices of the
Law; for when they are removed, the will of God is set up as a perfect
rule. It hence follows, that the sacrifices of beasts were to be removed
by the priesthood of Christ, as they had nothing in common with it. For
there was no reason, as we have said, for him to reject the sacrifices
on account of an accidental blame; for he is not dealing with hypocrites,
nor does he condemn the superstition of perverted worship; but he denies
that the usual sacrifices are required of a pious man rightly instructed,
and he testifies that without sacrifices God is fully and perfectly obeyed.
10. By the which will, etc. After having accommodated to his
subject David’s testimony, he now takes the occasion to turn some of the
words to his own purpose, but more for the sake of ornament than of explanation.
David professed, not so much in his own person as in that of Christ, that
he was ready to do the will of God. This is to be extended to all the members
of Christ; for Paul’s doctrine is general, when he says, “This is the will
of God, even your sanctification, that every one of you abstain from uncleanness”.
(1 Thessalonians 4:3.) But as it was a supereminent example of obedience
in Christ to offer himself to the death of the cross, and as it was for
this especially that he put on the form of a servant, the Apostle says,
that Christ by offering himself fulfilled the command of his Father, and
that we have been thus sanctified. When he adds, through the offering of
the body, etc., he alludes to that part of the Psalm, where he says, “A
body hast thou prepared for me,” at least as it is found in Greek. He thus
intimates that Christ found in himself what could appease God, so that
he had no need of external aids. For if the Levitical priests had a fit
body, the sacrifices of beasts would have been superfluous. But Christ
alone was sufficient, and was by himself capable of performing whatever
Hebrews Chapter 10:11-18
11. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes
the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
11. Et omnis quidem sacerdos quotidie ad ministrandum adstat, et
easdem saepius offerendum victimas, quae nunquam possunt tollere peccata:
12. But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for
ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
12. Ipse autem una pro peccatis oblata victima, perpetuo sedet in
13. From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.
13. Quod reliquum est expectans donec ponantur inimici sui scabellum
14. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are
14. Una enim oblatione consecravit (vel, perfecit) in perpetuum
eos qui sanctificantur.
15. [Whereof] the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after
that he had said before,
15. Testimonium autem reddit nobis etiam Spiritus Sanctus; nam postquam
16. This [is] the covenant that I will make with them after those
days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their
minds will I write them;
16. Hoc esse testamentum quod statuam cum ipsis post dies illos,
dicit Dominus, ut ponam leges meas in corda illorum, et in mentibus eorum
17. And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
17. Et peccatorum et iniquitatum eorum non recordabor amplius.
18. Now where remission of these [is, there is] no more offering
18. Porro ubi fit horum remissio, non est amplius oblatio pro peccato.
11. And every priest, etc. Here is the conclusion of the whole
argument, — that the practice of daily sacrificing is inconsistent with
and wholly foreign to the priesthood of Christ; and that hence after his
coming the Levitical priests whose custom and settled practice was daily
to offer, were deposed from their office; for the character of things which
are contrary is, that when one thing is set up, the other falls to the
ground. He has hitherto labored enough, and more than enough, in defending
the priesthood of Christ; the conclusion then is, that the ancient priesthood,
which is inconsistent with this, has ceased; for all the saints find a
full consecration in the one offering of Christ. At the same time the word
tetelei>wken, which I render “has consecrated,” may yet be rendered “has
perfected;” but I prefer the former meaning, because he treats here of
By saying, them who are sanctified, he includes all the children of
God; and he reminds us that the grace of sanctification is sought elsewhere
But lest men should imagine that Christ is now idle in heaven, he repeats
again that he sat down at God’s right hand; by which phrase is denoted,
as we have seen elsewhere, his dominion and power. There is therefore no
reason for us to fear, that he will suffer the efficacy of his death to
be destroyed or to lie buried; for he lives for this end, that by his power
he may fill heaven and earth. He then reminds us in the words of the Psalm
how long this state of things is to be, even until Christ shall lay prostrate
all his enemies. If then our faith seeks Christ sitting on God’s right
hand, and recumbs quietly on him as there sitting, we shall at length enjoy
the fruit of his victory; yea, when our foes, Satan, sin, death, and the
whole world are vanquished, and when corruption of our flesh is cast off,
we shall triumph for ever together with our head.
15. The Holy Ghost also is a witness, etc. This testimony from
Jeremiah is not adduced the second time without reason or superfluously.
He quoted it before for a different purpose, even to show that it was necessary
for the Old Testament to be abrogated, because another, a new one, had
been promised, and for this end, to amend the weakness of the old. But
he has now another thing in view; for he takes his stand on these words
alone, Their iniquities will I remember no more; and hence he concludes,
that there is no more need of a sacrifice since sins are blotted out.
This inference may indeed seem not to be well founded; for though formerly
there were innumerable promises as to the remission of sins under the Law
and in the prophets, yet the Church ceased not to offer sacrifices; hence
remission of sins does not exclude sacrifices. But if you consider each
particular more closely, you will find that the fathers also had the same
promises as to the remission of sins, under the Law, as we have at this
day; relying on them, they called on God, and rejoiced in the pardon they
obtained. And yet the Prophet, as though he had adduced something new and
unheard of before, promises that there would be no remembrance of sins
before God under the new covenant. Hence we may conclude, that sins are
now remitted in a way different from what they were formerly; but this
difference is not in the promise, nor in faith, but in the very price by
which remissions is procured. God then does not now remember sins, because
an expiation has been made once for all; otherwise what is said by the
Prophet would have been to no purpose, that the benefit of the New Testament
was to be this — that God would no more remember sins.
Now, since we have come to the close of the discussion respecting the
priesthood of Christ, readers must be brief reminded, that the sacrifices
of the Law are not more effectually proved here to have been abolished,
than the sacrifice of the mass practiced by the Papists is proved to be
a vain fiction.
They maintain that their mass is a sacrifice for expiating the sins
of the living and of the dead; but the Apostle denies that there is now
any place for a sacrifice, even since the time in which the prophecy of
Jeremiah has been fulfilled.
They try to make an evasion by saying, that it is not a new sacrifice,
or different from that of Christ, but the same; on the contrary, the Apostle
contends that the same sacrifice ought not to be repeated, and declares
that Christ’s sacrifice is only one, and that it was offered for all; and,
further, he often claims for Christ alone the honor of being a priest,
so that no one was fit to offer him but himself alone.
The Papists have another evasion, and call their sacrifice bloodless;
but the Apostle affirms it as a truth without exception, that death is
necessary in order to make a sacrifice.
The Papists attempt to evade again by saying, that the mass is the application
of the one sacrifice which Christ has made; but the Apostle teaches us
on the contrary, that the sacrifices of the Law were abolished by Christ’s
death for this reason, because in them a remembrance of sins was made;
it hence appears evident, that this kind of application which they have
devised has ceased.
In short, let the Papists twist themselves into any forms they please,
they can never escape from the plain arguments of the Apostle, by which
it appears clear that their mass abounds in impieties; for first, according
to the Apostle’s testimony, Christ alone was fit to offer himself; in the
mass he is offered by other hands; — secondly, the Apostle asserts that
Christ’s sacrifice was not only one, but was also once offered, so that
it is impious to repeat it; but in the mass, however they may prate about
the sacrifice, yet it is evidently made every day, and they themselves
confess it; — thirdly, the Apostle acknowledges no sacrifice without blood
and death; they then chatter in vain, that the sacrifice they offer is
bloodless; — fourthly, the Apostle in speaking of obtaining pardon for
sins, bids us to flee to that one sacrifice which Christ offered on the
cross, and makes this distinction between us and the fathers, that the
rite of continually sacrificing was done away by the coming of Christ;
but the Papists, in order to make the death of Christ efficacious, require
daily applications by means of a sacrifice; so that they calling themselves
Christians, differ nothing from the Jews except in the external symbol.
Hebrews Chapter 10:19-23
19. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest
by the blood of Jesus,
19. Habentes itaque, fratres, fiduciam ingrediendi in sancta per
20. By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through
the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
20. Via quam dedicavit nobis recentem ac vivam per velum, hoc est
21. And [having] an high priest over the house of God;
21. Et sacerdotem magnum super domum Dei,
22. Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,
having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed
with pure water.
22. Accedamus cum sincero corde in certitudine fidei, aspersi cordibus
a conscientia mala, et abluti corpore aqua munda;
23. Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering;
(for he [is] faithful that promised;)
23. Teneamus confessionem spei inflexibilem, fidelis enim qui promisit.
19. Having therefore, brethren, etc. He states the conclusion
or the sum of his previous doctrine, to which he then fitly subjoins a
serious exhortation, and denounces a severe threatening on those who had
renounced the grace of Christ. Now, the sum of what he had said is, that
all the ceremonies by which an access under the Law was open to the sanctuary,
have their real fulfillment in Christ, so that to him who has Christ, the
use of them is superfluous and useless To set this forth more fully, he
allegorically describes the access which Christ has opened to us; for he
compares heaven to the old sanctuary, and sets forth the things which have
been spiritually accomplished in Christ in typical expressions. Allegories
do indeed sometimes obscure rather than illustrate a subject; but when
the Apostle transfers to Christ the ancient figures of the Law, there is
no small elegance in what he says, and no small light is attained; and
he did this, that we may recognize as now really exhibited in him whatever
the Law shadowed forth. But as there is great weight almost in every word,
so we must remember that there is here to be understood a contrast, — the
truth or reality as seen in Christ, and the abolition of the ancient types.
He says first, that we have boldness to enter into the holiest. This
privilege was never granted to the fathers under the Law, for the people
were forbidden to enter the visible sanctuary, though the high priest bore
the names of the tribes on his shoulders, and twelve stones as a memorial
of them on his breast. But now the case is very different, for not only
symbolically, but in reality an entrance into heaven is made open to us
through the favor of Christ, for he has made us a royal priesthood.
He adds, by the blood of Jesus, because the door of the sanctuary was
not opened for the periodical entrance of the high priest, except through
the intervention of blood. But he afterwards marks the difference between
this blood and that of beasts; for the blood of beasts, as it soon turns
to corruption, could not long retain its efficacy; but the blood of Christ,
which is subject to no corruption, but flows ever as a pure stream, is
sufficient for us even to the end of the world. It is no wonder that beasts
slain in sacrifice had no power to quicken, as they were dead; but Christ
who arose from the dead to bestow life on us, communicates his own life
to us. It is a perpetual consecration of the way, because the blood of
Christ is always in a manner distilling before the presence of the Father,
in order to irrigate heaven and earth.
20. Through the veil, etc. As the veil covered the recesses of
the sanctuary and yet afforded entrance there, so the divinity, though
hid in the flesh of Christ, yet leads us even into heaven; nor can any
one find God except he to whom the man Christ becomes the door and the
way. Thus we are reminded, that Christ’s glory is not to be estimated according
to the external appearance of his flesh; nor is his flesh to be despised,
because it conceals as a veil the majesty of God, while it is also that
which conducts us to the enjoyment of all the good things of God.
21. And having a high priest, etc. Whatever he has previously
said of the abrogation of the ancient priesthood, it behaves us now to
bear in mind, for Christ could not be a priest without having the former
priests divested of their office, as it was another order. He then intimates
that all those things which Christ had changed at his coming ought to be
relinquished; and God has set him over his whole house for this end, —
that every one who seeks a place in the Church, may submit to Christ and
choose him, and no other, as his leader and ruler.
22. Let us draw near with a true heart, etc. As he shows that
in Christ and his sacrifice there is nothing but what is spiritual or heavenly,
so he would have what we bring on our part to correspond. The Jews formerly
cleansed themselves by various washings to prepare themselves for the service
of God. It is no wonder that the rites for cleansing were carnal, since
the worship of God itself, involved in shadows, as yet partook in a manner
of what was carnal. For the priest, being a mortal, was chosen from among
sinners to perform for a time sacred things; he was, indeed, adorned with
precious vestments, but yet they were those of this world, that he might
stand in the presence of God; he only came near the work of the covenant;
and to sanctify his entrance, he borrowed for a sacrifice a brute animal
either from herd or the flock. But in Christ all these things are far superior;
He himself is not only pure and innocent, but is also the fountain of all
holiness and righteousness, and was constituted a priest by a heavenly
oracle, not for the short period of a mortal life, but perpetually. To
sanction his appointment an oath was interposed. He came forth adorned
with all the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the highest perfection; he propitiated
God by his own blood, and reconciled him to men; he ascended up above all
the heavens to appear before God as our Mediator.
Now, on our part, nothing is to be brought but what corresponds with
all this, as there ought to be a mutual agreement or concord between the
priest and the people. Away then with all the external washings of the
flesh, and cease let the whole apparatus of ceremonies; for the Apostle
sets a true heart, and the certainty of faith, and a cleansing from all
vices, in opposition to these external rites. And hence we learn what must
be the frame of our minds in order that we may enjoy the benefits conferred
by Christ; for there is no coming to hire without an upright or a true
heart, and a sure faith, and a pure conscience.
Now, a true or sincere heart is opposed to a heart that is hypocritical
and deceitful. By the term full assurance, plhrofori>a the Apostle points
out the nature of faith, and at the same time reminds us, that the grace
of Christ cannot be received except by those who possess a fixed and unhesitating
conviction. The sprinkling of the heart from an evil conscience takes place,
either when we are, by obtaining pardon, deemed pure before God, or when
the heart, cleansed from all corrupt affections, is not stimulated by the
goads of the flesh. I am disposed to include both these things. What follows,
our bodies washed with pure water, is generally understood of baptism;
but it seems to me more probable that the Apostle alludes to the ancient
ceremonies of the Law; and so by water he designates the Spirit of God,
according to what is said by Ezekiel, “I will sprinkle clean water upon
you.” (Ezekiel 36:25.) The meaning is, that we are made partakers of Christ,
if we come to him, sanctified in body and soul; and yet that this sanctification
is not what consists in a visible parade of ceremonies, but that it is
from faith, pure conscience, and that cleanness of soul and body which
flows from, and is effected by, the Spirit of God. So Paul exhorts the
faithful to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit,
since they had been adopted by God as his children. (2 Corinthians 7:1.)
23. Let us hold fast, etc. As he exhorts here the Jews to persevere,
he mentions hope rather than faith; for as hope is born of faith, so it
is fed and sustained by it to the last. He requires also profession” or
confession, for it is not true faith except it shows itself before men.
And he seems indirectly to touch the dissimulation of those who paid too
much attention, in order to please their own nation, to the ceremonies
of the Law. He therefore bids them not only to believe with the heart,
but also to show and to profess how much they honored Christ.
But we ought carefully to notice the reason which he subjoins, for he
is faithful that promised. For we hence first learn, that our faith rests
on this foundation, that God is true, that is, true to his promise, which
his word contains; for that we may believe, the voice or word of God must
precede; but it is not every kind of word that is capable of producing
faith; a promise alone is that on which faith recumbs. And so from this
passage we may learn the mutual relation between the faith of men and the
promise of God; for except God promises, no one can believe.
Hebrews Chapter 10:24-27
24. And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to
24. Et consideremus nos mutuo in aemulationem charitatis et bonorum
25. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner
of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye
see the day approaching.
25. Neque deseramus aggregationem nostri, quemadmodum mos est quibusdam;
sed exhortemur, idque eo magis, quia videtis approppinquantem diem.
24. And let us consider one another, etc. I doubt not but that
he addresses the Jews especially in this exhortation. It is well?known
how great was the arrogance of that nation; being the posterity of Abraham,
they boasted that they alone, to the exclusion of all others, had been
chosen by the Lord to inherit the covenant of eternal life. Inflated by
such a privilege, they despised other nations, and wished to be thought
as being alone in the Church of God; nay, they superciliously arrogated
to themselves the name of being The Church. It was necessary for the Apostles
to labor much to correct this pride; and this, in my judgment, is what
the Apostle is doing here, in order that the Jews might not bear it ill
that the Gentiles were associated with them and united as one body in the
And first, indeed, he says, Let us consider one another; for God was
then gathering a Church both from the Jews and from the Gentiles, between
whom there had always been a great discord, so that their union was like
the combination of fire and water. Hence the Jews recoiled from this, for
they thought it a great indignity that the Gentiles, should be made equal
with them. To this goad of wicked emulation which pricked them, the Apostle
sets up another in opposition to it, even that of love; or the word paroxusmo<v,
which he uses, signifies the ardor of contention. Then that the Jews might
not be inflamed with envy, and be led into contention, the Apostle exhorts
them to a godly emulation, even to stimulate one another to love.
25. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, etc. This
confirms the view that has been given. The composition of the Greek word
ought to be noticed; for ejpi<signifies an addition; then ejpisunagwgh<,
assembling together, means a congregation increased by additions. The wall
of partition having been pulled down, God was then gathering those as his
children who had been aliens from the Church; so the Gentiles were a new
and unwonted sedition to the Church. This the Jews regarded as a reproach
to them, so that many made a secession from the Church, thinking that such
a mixture afforded them a just excuse; nor could they be easily induced
to surrender their own right; and further, they considered the right of
adoption as peculiar, and as belonging exclusively to themselves. The Apostle,
therefore, warns them, lest this equality should provoke them to forsake
the Church; and that he might not seem to warn them for no reason, he mentions
that this neglect was common to many.
We now understand the design of the apostle, and what was the necessity
that constrained him to give this exhortation. We may at the same time
gather from this passage a general doctrine:
It is an evil which prevails everywhere among mankind, that every one
sets himself above others, and especially that those who seem in anything
to excel cannot well endure their inferiors to be on an equality with themselves.
And then there is so much morosity almost in all, that individuals would
gladly make churches for themselves if they could; for they find it so
difficult to accommodate themselves to the ways and habits of others. The
rich envy one another; and hardly one in a hundred can be found among the
rich, who allows to the poor the name and rank of brethren. Unless similarity
of habits or some allurements or advantages draw us together, it is very
difficult even to maintain a continual concord among ourselves. Extremely
needed, therefore, by us all is the admonition to be stimulated to love
and not to envy, and not to separate from those whom God has joined to
us, but to embrace with brotherly kindness all those who are united to
us in faith. And surely it behaves us the more earnestly to cultivate unity,
as the more eagerly watchful Satan is, either to tear us by any means from
the Church, or stealthily to seduce us from it. And such would be the happy
effect, were no one to please himself too much, and were all of us to preserve
this one object, mutually to provoke one another to love, and to allow
no emulation among ourselves, but that of doing “good works”. For doubtless
the contempt of the brethren, moroseness, envy, immoderate estimate of
ourselves, and other sinful impulses, clearly show that our love is either
very cold, or does not at all exist.
Having said, “Not forsaking the assembling together,” he adds, But exhorting
one another; by which he intimates that all the godly ought by all means
possible to exert themselves in the work of gathering together the Church
on every side; for we are called by the Lord on this condition, that every
one should afterwards strive to lead others to the truth, to restore the
wandering to the right way, to extend a helping hand to the fallen, to
win over those who are without. But if we ought to bestow so much labor
on those who are yet aliens to the flock of Christ, how much more diligence
is required in exhorting the brethren whom God has already joined to us?
As the manner of some is, etc. It hence appears that the origin of all
schisms was, that proud men, despising others, pleased themselves too much.
But when we hear that there were faithless men even in the age of the Apostles,
who departed from the Church, we ought to be less shocked and disturbed
by similar instances of defection which we may see in the present day.
It is indeed no light offense when men who had given some evidence of piety
and professed the same faith with us, fall away from the living God; but
as it is no new thing, we ought, as I have already said, to be less disturbed
by such an event. But the Apostle introduced this clause to show that he
did not speak without a cause, but in order to apply a remedy to a disease
that was making progress.
And so much the more, etc. Some think this passage to be of the same
import with that of Paul,
“It is time to awake out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than
when we believed.” (Romans 13:11.)
But I rather think that reference is here made to the last coming of
Christ, the expectation of which ought especially to rouse us to the practice
of a holy life as well as to careful and diligent efforts in the work of
gathering together the Church. For to what end did Christ come except to
collect us all into one body from that dispersion in which we are now wandering?
Therefore, the nearer his coming is, the more we ought to labor that the
scattered may be assembled and united together, that there may be one fold
and one shepherd (John 10:16.)
Were any one to ask, how could the Apostle say that those who were as
yet afar off from the manifestation of Christ, saw the day near and just
at hand? I would answer, that from the beginning of the kingdom of Christ
the Church was so constituted that the faithful ought to have considered
the Judge as coming soon; nor were they indeed deceived by a false notion,
when they were prepared to receive Christ almost every moment; for such
was the condition of the Church from the time the Gospel was promulgated,
that the whole of that period might truly and properly be called the last.
They then who have been dead many ages ago lived in the last days no less
than we. Laughed at is our simplicity in this respect by the worldly-wise
and scoffers, who deem as fabulous all that we believe respecting the resurrection
of the flesh and the last judgment; but that our faith may not fail through
their mockery, the Holy Spirit reminds us that a thousand years are before
God as one day, (2 Peter 3:8;) so that whenever we think of the eternity
of the celestial kingdom no time ought to appear long to us. And further,
since Christ, after having completed all things necessary for our salvation,
has ascended into heaven, it is but reasonable that we who are continually
looking for his second manifestation should regard every day as though
it were the last.