Studies in the Book of Hebrews—Chapter 10:1-22

“A New and Living Way”

THIS CHAPTER CONTINUES the discussion of chapter 9, carrying the thought forward to show still more completely how the voluntary offering of Jesus’ human life was a complete sacrifice, which not only atones for sin, but by so doing prepares the way for the sinner to be fully reconciled to God.


VERSE 1  “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.”

Here, as in chapter 8:5, is brought out the thought of a shadow cast by a substance. Typical Israel could not discern the significance of these shadows. Indeed, they did not recognize them as such, but considered them to be the reality. Nor would it be possible for us to see them as shadows but for the fact that the sunlight of the Gospel reveals them as such. Standing in the light of the Gospel, we see in the shadow of those typical ceremonies the images of the realities which we, as spiritual Israelites, are now privileged to enjoy.

VERSES 2-4  “Then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”

Paul’s argument is simple, yet conclusive: had those typical sacrifices been effective in taking away sin, there would have been no more remembrance of sin on the part of the sinner—he would have enjoyed genuine and lasting peace. But this was not the case, hence the necessity of repeating the sacrifices ‘year by year continually,’ and even this failed to ‘make the comers thereunto perfect.’

The conclusion is, not that the typical priests failed to offer those sacrifices in the proper manner, or that those seeking atonement were not sincere, but rather that under no circumstances could the blood of bulls and goats take away sins. God did not intend that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. Those sacrifices were merely shadows, to be looked back upon from this age, patterns pointing forward to the blood of Christ, the real medium of atonement.

VERSE 5  “When he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me.”

The Apostle Paul in this verse, speaking of Jesus, quotes the Septuagint Version of Psalm 40:6 in the Old Testament. The Logos, in all the glory he had with the Father in his prehuman existence, could not have offered a sacrifice which would have been efficacious to take away human sin. A corresponding price was necessary, so it was necessary that the Logos be “made flesh,” (John 1:14) that a human body be especially ‘prepared,’ and it was his flesh that he gave for the life of the world. The Heavenly Father prepared this body by choosing a mother that was pure of heart and full of faith, and transferring a vigorous, perfect spark of life from the spiritual realm to her womb, that it might be “found in fashion as a man.”—Phil. 2:8

VERSE 6  “In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.”

This does not mean that God was not pleased with the efforts of his typical people who in sincerity brought their animal sacrifices to him in keeping with the prescribed arrangements of the Law. True, there was often a lack of genuine sincerity in their offerings, and ultimately those typical ceremonies deteriorated into mere formalism, and oftentimes hypocritical formalism. With this Jehovah was greatly displeased. But even at the best, he received ‘no pleasure’ in the sense that he realized, even though the people did not, that those animal sacrifices could not take away sins, hence could not open the way for members of the sin-cursed and dying race to return to him and enjoy his fellowship and blessing. In contrast to this we think of the prophet’s statement concerning Jesus that “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.”—Isa. 53:11

VERSE 7  “Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.”

Again Paul quotes from Psalm 40:7,8, and applies the prophecy to Jesus. It expresses the sentiments of Jesus’ heart as he presented himself in full consecration to do his Father’s will. None of the Gospel writers indicate that Jesus ever quoted this prophecy, but it surely must have been in his mind when he presented himself to God at the time of his baptism. Luke 3:21 records that Jesus did offer prayer at the time of his baptism; and it is reasonable to conclude that it was here that he made the words of the prophecy his own, saying to his Father, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.”

The will of the Heavenly Father for Jesus was not an indefinite matter, for it all had been minutely recorded in the ‘volume of the book,’ that is, in the Old Testament Scriptures, and Jesus agreed to be guided by its every detail. Paul’s reference to these terms of the Master’s consecration, associating them with the Tabernacle types, suggests that in addition to the written words of instruction, the types and shadows of the Tabernacle and its services were intended also to be an expression of the Father’s will for his beloved Son, to guide him in his course of sacrifice as he was led like a lamb to the slaughter.

VERSES 8,9  “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; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.”

In these verses Paul expounds somewhat the meaning of the prophecy concerning Jesus which he had quoted ‘above,’ repeating a part of the prophecy for emphasis. In the type, there was a dedication of the Tabernacle and of the priesthood which were to serve under the terms of the Law Covenant. That was the ‘first’ arrangement by which the sins of the people were expiated, and sinners reconciled to God. But it was merely a typical arrangement. It did not actually take away sin. It merely called attention to the need for sin atonement and pointed forward to the real sacrifice which would make this possible, and to a New Covenant under which sinners redeemed by the blood of Christ would be restored to at-one-ment with God.

Jesus’ consecration, as foretold in the prophecy, was the beginning of the establishment of the ‘second.’ In order to have this whole picture clearly in mind, however, it is essential to see that the consecration of the typical priesthood, and the dedication of the Tabernacle did not constitute the complete making of that old Law Covenant. These ceremonies were merely a means to an end, and the end was the reconciliation of the nation to God under the terms of the Law Covenant.

So far as God was concerned, that typical covenant, and all the sacrifices associated with it, came to an end when Jesus began his ministry, for there the New Covenant arrangements began to be set up. First, as the Head of the great antitypical priesthood, Jesus consecrated himself to God and to his service, and this work of consecrating the priesthood has continued throughout the entire age, and is still going on. This is not the work of the New Covenant, but the preparation for it.

The establishment of the second, or New Covenant, is in two phases, even as was that of the typical covenant. First there is the consecration of the priesthood and the provision of the blood. This is the work of the Gospel Age. Then there is the reconciliation of the people made possible by the blood and through the services of the priesthood. This will be the work of the Millennial Age. Not until the close of the millennium will the work of the New Covenant be fully completed. Its establishment began with the consecration of Jesus, who dedicated himself at Jordan to be the Head of the great antitypical priesthood.

VERSE 10  “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

‘By the which will.’—This is the same ‘will’ of God mentioned in the prophecy, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.” In this will of God for Jesus there was a provision for him to have a church, who would be at one with him, sanctified by the Spirit of the Truth, even as he was sanctified by his obedience to the word of Truth. But our full sanctification would not be possible apart from the merit of his blood, provided through the sacrifice of the perfect human body provided for him.

But again let us emphasize that this sanctification of Christ’s body members is but a preparatory step in the establishment of the New Covenant—that covenant under the terms of which the world will have an opportunity to believe and be reconciled to God. On behalf of his body members Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth,” and then added, “For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” Again, “The glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”— John 17:17,19,22-23

Note the great objective of the sanctification of Christ and his church—‘that the world may know’ that God sent Christ to be the Redeemer and Savior. The purpose of this is that the world may have an opportunity to believe, for “how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” (Rom. 10:14) It will be under the terms of the New Covenant, during the millennium, that the world will be given this opportunity for belief and reconciliation. Then Christ and his church will be reigning as “kings and priests,” (Rev. 5:10) the members of the church having been made acceptable through the blood of Christ, shed once for all. It is the blood of the New Covenant because it is the blood which makes possible the sanctification of the priesthood of that covenant, and through the service of that priesthood the same blood will be the basis for the reconciliation to God of all who accept the invitation, “Come. … take the water of life freely.”—Rev. 22:17

VERSES 11-14  “Every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”

There is a seeming contrast in these verses between the typical high priest’s standing to offer sacrifice and the antitypical high priest, Jesus, being seated at the right hand of God after he had offered his perfect sacrifice once for all. In the type, the priest was obliged to continue ‘day by day’ offering sacrifices, and even then no genuine cleansing from sin was accomplished. But in the antitype, following the ‘once for all’ sacrifice, results were expected, and Jesus, exalted at the right hand of God, waits for those results.—vs. 10

The fact that the church participates with Jesus in the sacrificial work of the Gospel Age does not mean that his shed blood was not efficacious to expiate the sins of both the church and the world. The once for all feature of the atoning work refers only to the provision of the ransom. The church’s share in the work of reconciliation has to do merely with the manner in which the merit of the ransom is made available for the reconciliation of the world. A part of that arrangement is that the blood first of all forms a basis for the sanctification of the church that she might share with Jesus in the mediatorial work of the next age as “ministers of a new covenant.”—II Cor. 3:6, New International Version

VERSES 15-18  “The Holy Spirit also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 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; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”

This is a wonderful use of a proof text! Paul had just said that the sacrifice of Jesus had ‘perfected for ever them that are sanctified.’ To prove that this could be possible, he cites the promise of the New Covenant, the promise in which the Lord declares concerning those reconciled to him during the age to come, that ‘their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.’ In the case of the ineffectual typical sacrifice, which could not make the comers thereto perfect, there was a ‘remembrance’ of sins, and new sacrifices had to be made. But this is not the case with the sacrifice of Jesus. The very fact that God had promised, on behalf of the restored world, that he would remember their sins no more, is proof that the sacrifice which made possible their reconciliation was fully and forever efficacious. Since it is so on behalf of those who will be restored to actual perfection in the next age, it is also true on behalf of those who, upon the basis of the same sacrifice, are now justified by faith and thus reckoned perfect in the sight of God.

VERSES 19-22  “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; 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.”

As is so often the case, we find that here again, beginning with verse 16, Paul sets forth the hope of both the church and the world. The hope of the world is that of being reconciled to God under the terms of the New Covenant. This is restitution hope, made sure by the blood of Christ. It is cited by the apostle to prove that the merit of the blood guarantees absolute perfection to those who later will accept it under the terms of the New Covenant.

But now, having assured us that the blood does provide the possibility of human perfection, he tells us that upon the basis of sacrifice made acceptable by the blood—as acceptable as though we were perfect human beings like Jesus—we have ‘boldness to enter into the holiest,’ the antitypical holiest, that is, even heaven itself. No Israelite in the camp of Israel was ever offered the opportunity of entering into the typical Most Holy. Only the high priest had that privilege, and he had it only because he carried with him the blood, first of the bullock, and then of the goat, offered on the Day of Atonement.

It would be boldness akin to presumption for us to attempt to enter into the antitypical Most Holy were it not that the Scriptures make it so abundantly plain that we are invited to this High Calling. Paul’s argument literally places the consecrated followers of the Master in the position, antitypically, as foreshadowed by the typical high priest. But he tells us that we have a right to aspire to this high position because the blood of Christ gives us a reckoned standing of perfection before the Lord. Our hearts, he says, are ‘sprinkled from an evil conscience,’ and ‘our bodies washed with pure water’—the water of the Word.

Click here to go to Chapter 10:23-39
Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |