Hebrews 10:26… “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins…”
For the fourth time the author warns of apostasy in 10:26 (cf. 2:1-4; 3:6b-4:13; 5:11-6:8; 10:26-31) – the deliberate falling away from Christ. Unbelievers have all rejected Christ, but not all are apostates. Apostates are those who, after being enlightened as to the truth of Jesus Christ, subsequently reject that truth. They willfully do so “after receiving the knowledge of the truth.” Sadly, for apostates “there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” Once rejected, always rejected.
There are a number of examples in Scripture of those who were apostate. Deuteronomy 13:13 says, “Some worthless men have gone out from among you and have seduced the inhabitants of their city, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ whom you have not known.” These men were among the Israelites who saw God’s glory but who later rejected it. First Samuel 15:11 says of God: “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not carried out My commands.” Saul was once a man who pledged his allegiance to God, but he rebelled against Him causing Samuel to “cry out to the Lord all night.”
King Amaziah was another apostate in the Bible. Second Chronicles 25:14-15 says, “Now after Amaziah came from slaughtering the Edomites, he brought the gods of the sons of Seir, set them up as his gods, bowed down before them and burned incense to them. Then the anger of the Lord burned against Amaziah, and He sent him a prophet who said to him, ‘Why have you sought the gods of the people who have not delivered their own people from your hand?’” After this conspirators arose against Amaziah, and they killed him (v. 27).
Apostasy is a serious matter when it comes to forsaking Jesus Christ, but it is a fact of life that has and will rear its ugliness. Consider 2 Thessalonians 2:3: “Let no one in any way deceive you, for [the end] will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.” Jesus spoke of this time in Matthew 24:10: “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.” And Paul explained to Timothy, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron” (1 Tim. 4:1-2).
Now some would propose that these passages promote the loss of salvation for true Christians, but the Apostle John clarifies that true salvation cannot be lost: “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out so that it would be shown that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19). Clearly, those who fall away were never truly saved, and this truth is reinforced in Jesus’ parable of the soils (Matt. 13:1-9, 18-23). True believers don’t fall away; only pretenders do.
Food for Thought
Evaluate your faith today to determine if you are indeed a Christian (cf. 2 Cor. 13:5). Pretenders of the faith fall away from Christ by neglecting to commit to Him after hearing the word of truth (Heb. 2:3). They forsake the assembling together for worship (Heb. 10:25), and persecution drives them away (Matt. 24:9-10). They tolerate false teachers (Matt. 24:11) and are overcome by worldly treasures and ambitions (Luke 8:13). Christians, however, bow before Christ and worship Him in Bible-believing grace churches. They invite persecution and demand biblical preaching, being more concerned with spiritual things than worldly treasures. One other thing sets them apart from pretenders: they loathe sin. It sickens them to the point of repentance.
Hebrews 10:26-31… For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and “the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.” 28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the witness of two or three witnesses. 29 How much severer penalty do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
An apostate is one who has heard the Gospel truth and received it, yet they later reject it. So, apostasy has two characteristics: knowledge of the truth and willful rejection of it. The Pharisees, though as a group they never embraced Jesus as the Christ, did indeed see and hear his power and his words. But they rejected him with full knowledge of who he was, and in so doing they blasphemed the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:22-32). On the other hand, there was Judas. He was part of the Twelve and was able to cast out demons and heal the sick (Matt. 10). Clearly he knew Christ and was even his disciple. But he departed and betrayed Jesus. He was an apostate. Both the Pharisees and Judas had full knowledge, but they “willfully” and deliberately rejected Jesus.
Verse 26 says that apostates no longer have a sacrifice for their sins. Jesus’ once for all sacrifice was completed one time for all peoples. He is not coming back to die again (9:28), so no one can willfully scorn his sacrifice after receiving it then later claim it again. In so doing they kill him again! These are left with the sin that leads to death (1 John 5:16) and “a terrifying expectation of judgment…” (v. 27). Then the author then quotes Isaiah 26:11 which speaks of God’s fury entailing a fire that will absolutely consume (literally “to eat”) His enemies. As fire consumes that which it engulfs, so too will the fire of God’s wrath “eat” completely those who sin willfully and rebelliously against the Son of God. The Son himself is prophesied to be “revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in a flaming fire” when he appears at his second coming (2 Thess. 2:7), so His fiery return is the fearful expectation of those who apostatize.
Now in speaking of God’s enemies it becomes painfully obvious that Christ’s death on the cross, in and of itself, did not bring salvation to every person who ever lived. For then God would have no enemies. No, Christ’s death opened the door for God to save those who would believe in Him alone for salvation, specifically His elect and chosen children. Though sinful, those children (the wheat of Matthew 13:38) receive salvation through the cross of Christ.
Beginning in v. 28 the author begins to compare what happened to willful sinners during the days of Moses under the old covenant. Those who had charges brought against them by two or three witnesses were given no mercy for blatant sin, and capital punishment was their fate – by stoning. So if the Law of Moses condemned willful sinners to death, then those who “trample under foot the Son of God” and regard his blood as unclean – the very blood that makes holy – and in so doing actually insults the Holy Spirit, how much worse will their fate be! Their rejection of Christ is actually so offensive to the Almighty that He is said to bring vengeance upon them (quoting from Deut. 32:36). Truly a dreadful fate awaits those who reject Christ.
Food for Thought
Only a God of love would warn His true children to remain true to ensure their salvation. He would continually explain His superiority over others so that they would be fully informed and not miss the mark. Yes, God’s Word to us is a love letter – a warning of love, but truly love.
Hebrews 10:32-39… But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, 33 partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. 34 For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. 35 Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. 37 “For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. 38 But My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.
Following one of the most sobering warnings about the consequences of apostasy, the author encourages faithful service to Christ instead of falling back into the rituals of Judaism. In order to move them forward he tells them two things: remember the past and look to the future.
The Jewish audience, upon professing their allegiance to Christ for salvation, had clearly endured great persecution, but that did not mean they were saved per se. The author doesn’t say, “Remember when you were saved” – but references the day they were “enlightened” (v. 32). He wasn’t sure they were saved, but he knew they had been enlightened. If he was convinced of their salvation he likely would not have warned them about apostasy in 6:4-8 and 10:26-27.
These “enlightened” people underwent “great conflict” which pictures an athlete straining for victory. They had been made a “public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations” (v. 33). So these would-be believers had been exposed to ridicule and disgrace by their fellow Jews. Now some of these Jews were clearly true believers while others merely “shared” in the trials of the true believers by aiding them in their struggles. They were all sympathetic to other Christian converts who had been imprisoned for their faith as the Apostle Paul had been. Also, these had endured the seizure of their own property without fighting back. At least they knew at one time that their eternal reward and dwelling place was far greater than earthly possessions (v. 34).
So in v. 35 the author encourages the audience not to throw away their confidence in what they once held so dearly. After all, it holds “great reward.” Abandoning the Truth at that point would have been so tragic, for they were closer than ever to their reward in Christ. They just needed “endurance” (another word for “patience”) so as to make it to the end of their trial so that they could receive what God had promised them, namely, salvation which leads to eternal life with Christ. They just needed, like so many today, exhortation to remain strong and secure.
In vv. 37-38 the author gives a paraphrased translation of Habakkuk 2:3-4 in order to remind his audience of God’s promise to come soon and without delay. Those who exercise their endurance waiting for God are the “righteous… who live by faith.” God is pleased with faithful men, for apart from faith no one can please Him (Heb. 11:6). Those who “shrink back” – who retreat – find no favor with God. Furthermore, they “fall into destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul” (v. 39). The exhortation is to remain strong without shrinking.
Food for Thought
God gives all of us trials to mold us. Many profess Christ, but after a trial they curse Him. True Christians in the midst of trials should remember God’s past mercies and look to the future with full assurance that what God has promised will indeed come to pass. Our time on earth is only a “little while,” and we must live by faith until our little while is up. Be patient. Endure!
Warning passages in Hebrews against apostasy:
- Hebrews 2:1-4
- Hebrews 3:6b-4:13
- Hebrews 5:11-6:8
- Hebrews 10:26-31
· Two groups: Backslidden Christians and those who had not yet professed faith. For the former, this teaching was designed to encourage them to strengthen their faith. To the latter this teaching was designed to spur them to commitment. They had all the info they needed.
· The issue here is ongoing and willful sin. The key word is willingly. Most who are part of this group are not saved. But for those who call themselves believers this warning is grave.
· Many are not true Christians, but for those who are – who have received the knowledge of the Truth – if they continue in willful sins, then there no longer remains a payment for sin.
· What is evident is that willful sinners can expect a fiery judgment of eternal hell. And there is nothing about it that’s appealing. It is terrifying, for it involves judgment and fury.
· It’s one thing to ignore the Law of Moses (which brought quick death); it’s another thing to reject Christ after being presented the clear truth (which brings eternal judgment).
· To reject Christ is to call his shed blood “unclean.” To reject Christ is to insult the HS “of grace.” Imagine insulting grace? So the fury of the fire comes from God’s vengeance. No one can escape the Father’s judgment whose son’s blood has been rejected.
· So to reject the Son is to insult the Spirit which ultimately rejects God the Father. This is the blasphemy of the HS, the sin that leads to death.
· One cannot love God but reject His Son.
· God will judge “HIS” people, meaning Israel. His people will in fact fall into His hands in judgment. His people are not the elect, but Israel.
Reasons for apostasy:
- Neglect (Heb. 2:3)
- Forsaking Christian fellowship (10:25)
- Persecution (Matt. 24:9-10)
- False teachers (Matt. 24:11)
- Temptation (Luke 8:13 – “rocky soil”)
- Clinging to the old
1. Remember the Past: (32-35)
2. Look to the Future: (36-39)
· Endurance & Perseverance: (Rev. 2:7; 2:10; 2:17; 2:26; 3:5; 3:10, 12; 3:21)
· Hebrews 3:6 but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.
· Hebrews 6:11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end,
· Hebrews 6:18 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.
· Hebrews 6:19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil,
· Hebrews 7:19 (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.
· Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;
· Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
· Hebrews 4:16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
· Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,
· Hebrews 10:35 Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.
· Hebrews 13:6 so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”
· Hebrews 7:25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
· 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.
· Hebrews 10:22 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 10:25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
26 Ἑκουσίως γὰρ ἁμαρτανόντων ἡμῶν μετὰ τὸ λαβεῖν τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν
Willingly for sinning (PAPtcp) of us after the receive (AAIn) the full knowledge
τῆς ἀληθείας, οὐκέτι περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν ἀπολείπεται θυσία, 27 φοβερὰ δέ τις
of the truth, no longer about sins there is left off (PPI) a sacrifice, fearful but some
ἐκδοχὴ κρίσεως καὶ πυρὸς ζῆλος ἐσθίειν μέλλοντος τοὺς ὑπεναντίους.
awaiting of judgment and of fire jealousy to eat (PAIn) being about to (PAPtcp) the over against.
28 ἀθετήσας τις νόμον Μωϋσέως
having set aside (AAPtcp) someone law of Moses
χωρὶς οἰκτιρμῶν ἐπὶ δυσὶν ἢ τρισὶν μάρτυσιν ἀποθνῄσκει· 29 πόσῳ δοκεῖτε
without compassions on two or three witnesses dies (PAI). In how much you think (PAI)
χείρονος ἀξιωθήσεται τιμωρίας ὁ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ καταπατήσας καὶ
worse will be worthy (FPI) punishment the the Son of God having walked over (AAPtcp) also
τὸ αἷμα τῆς διαθήκης κοινὸν ἡγησάμενος, ἐν ᾧ ἡγιάσθη, καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα
the blood of the covenant common having considered (AMPtcp), in which he was made holy (API) and the spirit
τῆς χάριτος ἐνυβρίσας; 30 οἴδαμεν γὰρ τὸν εἰπόντα· ἐμοὶ ἐκδίκησις, ἐγὼ
of the grace having abused (AAPtcp)? For we know (RAI) the one having said (AAPtcp), “To me revenge. I
ἀνταποδώσω. καὶ πάλιν· κρινεῖ κύριος τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ. 31 φοβερὸν τὸ
I will repay (FAI). And again, “The Lord will judge (FAI) his people.” Fearful the
ἐμπεσεῖν εἰς χεῖρας θεοῦ ζῶντος. 32 Ἀναμιμνῄσκεσθε δὲ τὰς πρότερον
to fall (AAIn) into hands of the living God. But Remember (PPM) the former
ἡμέρας, ἐν αἷς φωτισθέντες πολλὴν ἄθλησιν ὑπεμείνατε παθημάτων,
days, in which having been enlightened (APPtcp) much wrestling you endured (AAI) sufferings.
33 τοῦτο μὲν ὀνειδισμοῖς τε καὶ θλίψεσιν θεατριζόμενοι, τοῦτο δὲ
This indeed revilings both and afflictions being stared at (PPPtcp), this but
κοινωνοὶ τῶν οὕτως ἀναστρεφομένων γενηθέντες. 34 καὶ γὰρ τοῖς
partakers of the thusly behaving (PPPtcp) having become (APPtcp). And for to the
δεσμίοις συνεπαθήσατε καὶ τὴν ἁρπαγὴν τῶν ὑπαρχόντων ὑμῶν μετὰ
prisoners you suffered with (AAI) and the seizure of the possessions (PAPtcp) your with
χαρᾶς προσεδέξασθε γινώσκοντες ἔχειν ἑαυτοὺς κρείττονα ὕπαρξιν καὶ
joy you awaited (AMI) knowing (PAPtcp) to have (PAIn) yourselves better possession and
μένουσαν. 35 Μὴ ἀποβάλητε οὖν τὴν παρρησίαν ὑμῶν, ἥτις ἔχει
staying (PAPtcp). Not you might throw off (AAS) therefore your confidence, which has (PAI)
μεγάλην μισθαποδοσίαν. 36 ὑπομονῆς γὰρ ἔχετε χρείαν ἵνα τὸ θέλημα
great wage give back. Endurance for you have (PAI) need that the will
τοῦ θεοῦ ποιήσαντες κομίσησθε τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν. 37 ἔτι γὰρ μικρὸν ὅσον
of God having done (AAPtcp) you might obtain (AMS) the promise. For in yet a little so
ὅσον, ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἥξει καὶ οὐ χρονίσει· 38 ὁ δὲ δίκαιός μου ἐκ πίστεως
so, the one coming (PMPtcp) will come (FAI) and not he will spend time (FAI). But the right of me from faith
ζήσεται, καὶ ἐὰν ὑποστείληται, οὐκ εὐδοκεῖ ἡ ψυχή μου ἐν αὐτῷ. 39 ἡμεῖς δὲ
will live (FMI), and if he shrinks back (AMS), no pleasure (PAI) my soul in him. But we
οὐκ ἐσμὲν ὑποστολῆς εἰς ἀπώλειαν ἀλλὰ πίστεως εἰς περιποίησιν
are not (PAI) of shrink back into destruction but of faith into possession
ψυχῆς. (of soul).