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Bible: What Does Hebrews 10:26-39 Teach Us About Apostasy?

Updated on September 15, 2016

The Law of God

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Hebrews 10: 26-39: The Outcome of Apostasy

Apostates Choose to Go Their Own Way

Now the writer returns to a discussion of the consequences of repudiating the sacrifice of Christ and reverting to old ways (vv. 26-39).

“Sinning willfully” points to a rejection of the Lordship of Christ over their lives; in such a case, they know the truths of the gospel, but choose to go their own way (that is, become apostates).

No longer having available to them the only true way to God, they can expect to experience nothing but the wrath of God that will devour them (vv. 26-27).

In Moses’ day, the author states, the Israelites mercilessly executed those disobedient to God’s law after they gave the sinners their due process (v. 28).

The Cross of Christ

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Three Offenses

Arguing rhetorically, the author seeks to convince his readers that people who transgress against Christ deserve far worse punishment.

He delineates three specific offenses that such apostates commit:

(1) They trample the Son of God underfoot;

(2) they count the blood of the covenant by which they were set apart to God a common thing; and

(3) they insult the Spirit of grace (v. 29).

[Those who walk on Christ treat Him as someone unworthy of any regard.

Those who consider Christ’s blood as common (“unclean,” NASB) show disdain for His sacrifice for them.

(This sin seems especially heinous, because these people apparently participated in the Lord’s Table where they partook of the elements.)

That they were actually believers (“by which he was sanctified”) is not an acceptable interpretation, unless the punishment mentioned here is temporal.

Those who insult the Holy Spirit who graciously reached out to save them demonstrate hatred for Him and contempt for His gift.]

Heaven and Hell

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God Will Punish the Wicked

As support for his view that God will surely punish the wicked, the author cites two OT verses that highlight God’s vengeance and judgment upon His people (v. 30; cf. Deut. 32:35-36).

He stresses how horrible it would be to experience the Lord’s powerful wrath (“fall into the hands of the living God”) [v. 31].

The writer asks his readers to reflect upon their early Christian experience (“after you were illuminated”) when they suffered persecution for the faith (v. 32; cf. 6:4).

Sometimes unbelievers hurled insults at them and caused them to endure hardship; at other times, the world merely abused Hebrew Christians for siding with those whom they were persecuting (v. 33).

Regarding this latter case, the author recalls how they cared for him while he was in prison, and experienced the State’s confiscation of their property in return (v. 34a).

Yet he adds that they exhibited a godly attitude (“joyfully accepted”) and employed an eternal perspective toward their plight (v. 34b).

Do Not Discard Your Reward

The author exhorts them to take their past faithfulness into consideration at the present time, and not throw away the reward God would give them for standing firm in their faith (v. 35).

He sees a need for them to persevere to the end, so that they might receive what God promised to give them (v. 36).

Quoting Habakkuk 2:3-4 as support, the author contends that his readers must learn to live by faith and wait for God to rescue them (vv. 37-38a).

[Ryrie includes a helpful discussion of the Scripture writers’ varying usage of this OT passage (New Testament Study Bible, 412).]

Those who fail to persevere God does not approve (v. 38b).

The author asserts that he (and they) (“we”) will surely persevere in belief, and God will “save” them; others who shrink back in fear and unbelief will experience God’s chastening hand (“perdition,” NKJV; “destruction,” NASB).

© 2013 glynch1

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