Hebrews chapter 10 is filled with rich insights into the supremacy of Christ, the New Covenant, and the Christian faith. Let’s dive into these scriptures, breaking them down into different sections to gain a deeper understanding of their message.
While walking through this chapter, I encourage you to look for the many ways that Christ is superior. Remember, who the author is speaking to. These were Hebrew Christians. Many of them had deep roots planted in the Levitical Law. Turning away from these traditions and regulations took a giant leap of faith. The author wanted his readers to understand how all these things that they had once held so dear we all designed to point to Jesus.
Hold these ideas in the front of your mind as you continue to look at Hebrews 10.
This post contains affiliate links. See my full disclosure for more details.
What is the Meaning of Hebrews Chapter 10?
Before we dig into Hebrews chapter 10, let’s take a look at what we have seen in the book of Hebrews up to this point.
Outline of Hebrews Chapters 1-9
- Christ’s Superiority to Angels (Hebrews Chapters 1 and 2)
- Christ as the Son of God
- Angels and their role
- Warning against neglecting salvation
- Christ’s humanity and suffering
- Christ’s Superiority to Moses and the Law (Hebrews Chapters 3 and 4)
- Comparison between Moses and Christ
- Warning against unbelief
- The rest that comes through faith in Christ
- The high priestly role of Jesus
- The High Priesthood of Christ (Hebrews Chapters 5-7)
- Qualifications of a High Priest
- Jesus as the perfect High Priest
- Melchizedek as a type of Christ
- Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice
- The Superiority of the New Covenant (Hebrews Chapters 8-9)
- The new covenant and its promises
- The earthly and heavenly tabernacles
Now, in Hebrews chapter 10 we will see how Christ is a better mediator of a better covenant. The author also gives his readers encouragement to persevere in faith. Let’s take a look at Hebrews chapter 10 verse by verse.
The Insufficiency of Animal Sacrifices (Hebrews 10:1-4 NASB)
For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
This chapter begins by referring to the law as a shadow. A shadow gives a glimpse of the outline and form of something else. We learned back in Hebrews 8:5 that the earthly Tabernacle was merely a shadow of the heavenly one. A shadow itself is not a substance. The law was meant to point God’s people towards the coming Messiah. (Galatians 3:24) Jesus Himself is the substance.
The author contrasts the annual animal sacrifices, which could not cleanse the conscience of worshipers permanently, with the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The need for continued sacrifices, year after year, points to its insufficiency. The shedding of animal blood could not take away sins, serving only as a reminder of the need for a perfect sacrifice.
Christ’s Perfect Sacrifice (Verses 5-10)
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”
When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
The first thing I noticed in the passage was that sacrifice and offerings were not pleasing to God. The word for desire in v. 5 could also be “pleased”. We see throughout the Old Testament that God preferred obedience to sacrifice. However, because the Israelites failed to obey His law, the sacrifices for sin had to continue.
What pleased God was the prepared body of Jesus. In the incarnation, Jesus was perfectly prepared and suited to live as fully man and fully God. In Matthew 3:16-17 we see that God was fully pleased with His Son.
The author quotes Psalm 40:6-8 to highlight how Christ willingly offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice to fulfill God’s will. Jesus’ obedience contrasts with the inefficacy of the Old Covenant sacrifices, which were unable to remove sin.
Christ’s sacrifice, however, accomplished what the old system could not—eternal redemption for believers.
What are we placing our faith in? We may not rely on animal sacrifice like these Hebrews did, but we definitely fall prey to relying on our own strength. Our own strength is not sufficient to save us. It takes faith in the work of Christ on the cross. It’s by grace through faith we have been saved.
The New Covenant (Verses 11-18)
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
“This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
I love the contrast of the postures of the priests. The priest of the Old Covenant levitical law had to stand daily, signifying the need for continued work. Sacrifices had to continue because the blood of animals could not permanently take away sin.
After offering Himself, Jesus sat down.
Christ’s sacrifice was once and for all, providing forgiveness and the promise of God writing His laws on the hearts of believers. The New Covenant removed the need for ongoing sacrifices, offering a permanent solution for sin.
The Call to Perseverance (Verses 19-25)
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
When Christ died on the cross, the veil in the temple was torn in two. This meant that the way into the presence of God was no longer just reserved for the High Priest once a year. Anyone was free to enter the Holy Place through the body and blood of Jesus.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6
We have been invited to draw near to God with confidence, knowing that Christ’s sacrifice has provided access to the Father. We see that this is a practice that can be done by each individual, but also must be done together as a community of believers. The author commands us to assemble together for the purpose of stirring each other up towards love and good deeds. We do this as we enter God’s presence together.
The Consequences of Apostasy (Hebrews 10:26-31)
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged 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 fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
The exhortation against deliberate sin (v.26) refers to an attitude that leads to repeated disobedience, not merely to one act of sin. The old covenant had no sacrifices for deliberate and willful sins (Ex. 21:12–14; Num. 15:27–31 Numbers 15:27-31 ESV “If one person sins unintentionally, he shall offer a female goat a year old for a sin offering….). Presumptuous sinners who despised Moses’ law and broke it would be executed (Deut. 17:1–7). A person with this attitude tramples Jesus Christ underfoot, cheapens the precious blood that saved him, and insults the Holy Spirit. – Warren Weirsbe
In a sense, every sin is a “willful sin.” But here, the writer to the Hebrews spoke of something much more severe and relevant to these discouraged Jewish Christians who contemplated a retreat from a distinctive Christianity and a return to Judaism with its sacrificial system. This is turning your back on Jesus. – David Guzik
The author provides a stern warning against willful sinning, highlighting the severe consequences for those who reject Christ’s sacrifice after having received knowledge of the truth. Such individuals can expect a fearful judgment from God.
The Call to Endurance (Verses 32-39)
But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding 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 is promised.
37 For, “Yet a little while,
and the coming one will come and will not delay;
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 and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.
The chapter concludes with an exhortation to recall the believers’ past endurance and perseverance in the face of trials.
In the event that any reader should misinterpret his warning, the writer follows it with words of encouragement and confirmation. The Hebrews had been given every evidence that they were true Christians.
The author encourages them not to shrink back but to have faith, which will lead to the preservation of their souls.
The promise of Christ’s return is a source of hope and motivation for enduring faith.
Hebrews Chapter 10 is a pivotal passage in the book, emphasizing the supremacy of Christ’s sacrifice and the superiority of the New Covenant over the Old.
It calls believers to persevere in faith, hold fast to hope, and encourage one another as they await the glorious return of Christ.
Related Posts and Resources: