HEBREWS 10:26-39

IF WE KEEP ON SINNING... NO SACRIFICE FOR SINS IS LEFT

I) INTRODUCTION

Verses 1-25 of chapter 10 declare the absolute superiority of the once for all time sacrifice of Christ for sins over the sacrificial practices of the Mosaic Law which were just the shadow, not the reality, of our Lord's true and effective sacrifice for sins. The only action that is effective toward atonement for any sin. The passage then encourages the Hebrew believers to "hold unswervingly to [this sure] hope [of their salvation which] we [Hebrew believers] profess..." [and not go back to the Mosaic Law practices]

A) [Compare Heb 10:1]:

"The Law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming - not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship."

Then verse 26 begins the warning of severe consequences if a Hebrew believer, (or any believer), deliberately rejects what he has already accepted - the once for all time sacrifice of Christ that saved him in favor of reverting to the practice of the Mosaic Law sacrifices, (or any kind of works for that matter), in order to secure eternal life. This is viewed by the writer of the Book of Hebrews, (and the God Who inspired that writer), as practicing a specific, deliberate and willful sin as verse 26 indicates within the context. This view is especially presented in the light of the believers' stated position with God of having already accepted the once for all time sacrifice of Jesus Christ for their sins where "no more sacrifice for sins is left", i.e., nothing else is required to permanently receive eternal life.

B) [Compare Heb 9:28]:

"So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him."

II) [Heb 10:26 NAS]:

(v. 26 NAS) "If we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth [of the gospel of salvation through faith alone in the once for all time sacrifice of Christ for sins, (v. 10)], there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins."

A) BELIEVERS ARE IN VIEW IN THIS PASSAGE

The "we" in this verse applies to believers: those who have trusted alone in Christ's once for all time sacrifice for sins alone. The Book of Hebrews speaks especially to individual Jews, (v. 1:1 + pervading context of Hebrew Old Testament Scripture to which the author refers to as part of the background of his readers). The author further writes to fellow Jews who "have received the knowledge of the truth" of salvation through faith in the one time sacrifice of Christ Jesus but "willfully keep on sinning" by continually offering up a "sacrifice for sins" through their wrongful reliance on following the Mosaic Law as a way to heaven in spite of their evident faith alone in Christ's once for all time sacrifice alone for sins unto eternal life, (vv. 10-15). Notice that the text here in Heb 10:26 says that the Jews received a knowledge of the truth of salvation. Although it does not say that they believed in it, the overall context of the passage is clear that they did believe in it when other verses are taken into consideration:

1) [Compare Heb 10:10]:

"And by that will [of Christ Who chose to sacrifice Himself for the sins of the whole world, (v. 9)], we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

So those addressed in Hebrews chapter 10 have been "made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." = i.e., they have been saved and are believers.

["Dr. Robert Wilkin states, (Grace in Focus website, Grace Evangelical Society, Irving, Tx, "Hebrews 10:26-=31, 'A Punishment Worse Than Death' ": http://155.229.51.114/Grace/news/y1992/92sep3.html]

"Genuine Believers Are In View....

The Book of Hebrews in general is addressed to genuine believers. See, for example, 3:1, "Therefore, holy brethren partakers of the heavenly calling. . ." See also 6:4-6.

The larger context of chapter 10 also strongly asserts that genuine believers are being addressed. In vv 1-18 the author speaks of the forgiveness of sins. In vv 19-20 he calls the readers "brethren," people who have "boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus" and who have Jesus Christ as their High Priest.

The immediate context of this passage says that those being addressed have already been sanctified (v 29)! Only believers have been sanctified (cf. 10:10, 14). In addition, they are called "His people" (v 30) -- something only true of believers."

II cont.) [Heb 10:26 cont.]:

(v. 26 NAS) If we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth [of the gospel of salvation through faith alone in the once for all time sacrifice of Christ for sins], there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.

B) LOSS OF SALVATION CANNOT BE IN VIEW SINCE OTHER CLEAR PASSAGES IN THE BIBLE INDICATE THAT ONE'S SALVATION IS ETERNALLY SECURE AND CANNOT BE LOST

At first glance without consideration of the context or other passages in the bible, verse 26 could mean that a believer can lose his salvation because of willful sinning; but other clear passages indicate that since a believer's salvation is completely and exclusively the doing of God Almighty - Father, Son and Holy Spirit and NOTHING ELSE, (Eph 1:3-14), then a Christian's eternal destiny rests exclusively with God and NOT with man. Not even the believer can change his eternal destiny relative to heaven or hell. There are numerous passages in the bible from Genesis to Revelation which establish the eternal security of the believer, not the least of which are these key passages which are examined in the ETERNAL SECURITY STUDY linked here:

and three eternal security passages which follow:

1) [Compare Eph 1:13-14]:

(v. 13) "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believe, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,

(v. 14) Who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession - to the praise of His glory."

2) [Compare Ro 8:35-39]:

(v. 35) "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

(v. 36) As it is written:

'For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.'

(v. 37) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us.

(v. 38) For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,

(v. 39) neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, [including that of the individual believer] will be able to separate us [believers] from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

And that means no condemnation once an individual has become "in Christ Jesus", i.e., a believer, (cp Eph 1:13; Ro 6:1-3).

Finally, compare an important passage in the book of Romans in order to clarify the believer's position in Christ relative to whether or not he obeys Christ's commandments:

2) [Ro 8:1-4]:

(v. 1) "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

[All those who are "in Christ", i.e., those who have become believers, have by definition a permanent position as described in the Bible, (Ro 6:3; 2 Cor 5:17), and are therefore defined, being "in Christ", as eternally secure from going to hell whether they continue to obey Christ or not. Compare 1 Jn 5:9-13, 1 Cor 3:11-15, 2 Tim 2:11-13).

Note that some translations have the phrase "who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit". This phrase is omitted here from the end of verse one above because it was discovered that it was erroneously copied from verse 4. Earlier, more reliable manuscripts do not have this phrase here in v.1. Its placement here in verse one by someone who was transcribing manuscripts contradicts many other passages which teach God's exclusive and sovereign role in preserving the eternal security of the believer, Ref: Ro 8:38-39; Jn 10:28; Eph 1:13-14, 2:8-9, 4:30 & Ro 11:29. How the believer lives his life does not effect his eternal destiny. Whom he has placed his faith in does!]

(v. 2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

["The Law of the Spirit of life" = The law of perfect Christian freedom which is energized by living by faith in Jesus Christ and His Word - energized by the love of Him, cp Gal 5:1-6, 1-13; I Cor 8:9; which law makes provision through the blood of Christ for eradicating the effects of the believer's daily sins, (I Jn 1:1-9), thus preserving his eternal destiny in heaven.

Once a person has expressed his faith alone in Christ alone as Savior he is now subject to a new law: the law of the Spirit of Life which is administered by God the holy Spirit indwelling in him. This new law he can obey and walk in the Spirit by faith; or not obey and walk in carnality by the world and be under God's discipline. Either way he walks, this new law of the Spirit of life that he is under has permanently and eternally set him free from the law of sin and death. He is eternally secure from condemnation under the law of sin and death because he has trusted alone in Christ alone. The law of sin and death is that law which keeps an individual who is subject to it under the slavery of sin, (Ro 6:17a; 20), and then under eternal condemnation when he dies. An unbeliever has no choice under this law but to sin in everything he does. Even the good that he does, not being directed by God the Holy Spirit, is contaminated by his evil nature in some way, (Isa 64:6; Jer 17:9; Ro 6:20; Lk 18:19). The unbeliever is truly a hopeless slave to the law of sin and eternal death]

2 cont.) [Ro 8:1-4 cont.]:

(v. 3 NAS) For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,

(v. 3 NIV) "For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man,

["His own Son in the likeness of sinful man: = God the Son became flesh - became in the likeness of man without a sin nature, yet He remained fully God at the same time, (cp II Cor 5:21; Phil 2:6-8; Col 1:15-16); and He came to earth as a Man "to be a sin offering"= to die for the sins of the whole world, (cp 1 Jn 2:2).

"And so He [the Lord Jesus Christ] condemned sin in sinful man.." =

"condemned" = "katekrinen" = passed a judicial sentence upon sin. In other words the Lord Jesus Christ died for the judgment due for our sin and thus paid the penalty that our own sins required us to pay, I Jn 2:2.

2 cont.) [Ro 8:1-4 cont.]:

(v. 3c cont) "And so He condemned sin in sinful man,

(v. 4) in order that the [perfect & righteous] requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

[And so our Lord took care of the sin problem in our lives in one way such that when a believer walks according to the Spirit Who now indwells him..................

(this indwelling being a result of what our Lord did for mankind on the cross)

..............the believer can now truly fulfill the righteous requirement of the Law. As he willingly follows the leading of the Spirit Who indwells him, he will be righteous. But if he chooses to follow his own way he will be unrighteous, cp 1 Jn 1:8, 10; Eph 5:1-18]

a) [Eph 5:15-18]:

(v. 15) "Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise,

(v. 16) making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

(v. 17) Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.

(v. 18) Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled [controlled] with the Spirit."

2 cont.) [Ro 8:1-4 cont.]:

[The Amplified bible has a translation which reflects the meaning of Ro 8:4 very well]:

(v. 8) "So that the righteous and just requirement of the Law might....."

[Notice: "might" = aorist tense, passive voice, subjunctive mood = so that a condition of possibility but not certainty is established - maybe you will act righteously and maybe you won't - but now at least you can fulfill the righteous requirement of the Law. Before you could not at all]

(v. 4 cont. Amplified) "So that the righteous and just requirement of the Law might be fully met in us, who live and move not in the ways of the flesh but in the ways of the Spirit - our lives governed not by the standards and according to the dictates of the flesh, but controlled by the (Holy) Spirit.

[So Jesus Christ "condemned sin in sinful man" in order that the perfect standard of the Mosaic Law might be fulfilled on a moment to moment basis in the lives of those believers who for those moments are walking according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. Therefore believers at times do choose NOT to live according to the Spirit and at those times are NOT meeting the righteous requirements of the Law. They are then out of fellowship with God but not out of salvation, (Ro 8:1). Their position in Christ relative to eternal life remains sovereignly intact. The out-of-fellowship problem is then resolved by confession and by obeying the Word again, (1 Jn 1:5-10, Jn 14:15)]

II cont.) [Heb 10:26 cont.]:

(v. 26 NAS) If we go on sinning willfully after receving the knowledge of the truth [of the gospel of salvation through faith alone in the once for all time sacrifice of Christ for sins], there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.

C) HAVING TRUSTED ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE AS SAVIOR, NO MORE SACRIFICE FOR SINS IS REQUIRED, SO CONTINUING TO PERFORM SACRIFICES UNDER THE MOSAIC LAW AMOUNTS TO INSULTING GOD WITH WILLFULL SIN BY DENYING CHRIST'S ALL SUFFICIENT SACRIFICE

"If we go on sinning willfully" = The context of chapter 10 establishes that this phrase has a very specific connotation of sinning: that of Jewish believers continuing to follow the sacrificial system of the Mosaic Law in order to be saved when they had already accepted by faith the once for all time, never to be repeated, sacrifice of their Messiah Jesus Christ for their sins. This is especially confirmed by the last phrase of this verse: "no more sacrifice for sins is left."

Furthermore, other verses in chapter 10 are clear on this matter:

a) [Heb 10:1-4, 10-14, 18]:

(v. 1) "The Law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming - not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.

(v. 2) If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.

(v. 3) But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins,

(v. 4) because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

(v. 10) And by that will [of God that His Son be sacrificed to atone for the sins of the whole world, (vv. 8-9], we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

(v. 11) Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.

(v. 12) But when this Priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.

(v. 13) Since that time He waits for His enemies to be made His footstool,

(v. 14) because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

(v. 18) And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin."

Finally, this is a recurrent theme in the Book of Hebrews: Exhorting the Hebrew believers not to go back to the Mosaic Law system in order to secure their salvation because they have already been permanently saved:

b) [Compare Heb 6:6]:

"If they [Hebrew believers] fall away [from the gospel of salvation] to be brought back to repentance [coming back to trusting alone in Christ alone], because [by practicing the Mosaic Law] to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace."

Zane C. Hodges states [The Bible Knowledge Commentary, NT, Walvoord & Zuck, Editors, Victor Books, USA, 1988, p. 805]:

'''The author [of Hebrews] was concerned here, as throughout the epistle, with the danger of defection from the faith. Most sin is "deliberate", [i.e., willful, v. 26], but the writer was here influenced by the Old Testament's teaching about sins of presumption (cf. Num 15:29-31) which lay outside the sacrificial provisions of the Law. Apostasy from the faith would be such a 'willful' act and for those who commit it 'no sacrifice for sins is left' (cf. Heb 10:18). If the efficacious sacrifice of Christ should be renounced, there remained no other available sacrifice which could shield an apostate from God's judgment... A Christian who abandons 'the confidence [he] had at first' (3:14) puts himself on the side of God's enemies and, as the writer had already said, is in effect 'crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace' (6:6). Such reprehensible conduct can scarcely be worthy of anything but God's flaming indignation and retribution. This, however.... is not a reference to hell."

So the Book of Hebrews repeats over and over the futile effort of trying to keep the Law unto eternal salvation, (cp Heb 7:18), rather than to simply trust alone in Christ's once for all time sacrifice for sins, (cp Heb 7:27). By continually relying on the Mosaic Law sacrificial system for eternal life instead of Christ's one time once for all time sacrifice, the author of the Book of Hebrews teaches that "no sacrifice for sins is left" for one who does this to be saved, "but a fearful certain expectation of judgment and fiery fervour [= fiery indignation by God] which shall devour the adversaries".

III) [Heb 10:26-27]:

(v. 26 NAS) If we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth [of the gospel of salvation through faith alone in the once for all time sacrifice of Christ for sins, (v. 10)], there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.

(v. 27) But a fearful certain expectation of judgment and fiery fervour [= fiery indignation by God] which shall devour the adversaries [Isa 26:11]

"phiobera.de ..tis .......ekdoche .......kriseos .......kai .puros zelos ..............

"but a fearful certain expectation of judgment and fiery fervour (zeal)

esthieln ...mellontos tous upenantious"

to devour about .......the .adversaries"

A) CONDEMNATION UNTO THE LAKE OF FIRE IS NOT IN VIEW BUT TEMPORAL JUDGMENT OF THE DELIBERATELY SINNING BELIEVER WHO ATTEMPTS TO KEEP HIS SALVATION SECURE VIA WORKS IS

1) FIERY TEMPORAL JUDGMENT HAS BEEN DESCRIBED THIS WAY ELSEWHERE IN SCRIPTURE:

a) THE LORD'S FIERY TEMPORAL JUDGMENT PREDICTED UPON THE ISRAELITES

i) [Dt 32:15-25]:

(v. 15) "Jeshurun [= the upright one = Israel] grew fat and kicked; filled with food, he became heavy and sleek.

He abandoned the God Who made him and rejected the Rock His Savior.

(v. 16) They made Him jealous with their foreign gods and angered Him with their detestable idols.

(v. 17) They sacrificed to demons, which are not God - gods they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your fathers did not fear.

(v. 18) You deserted the Rock, Who fathered you; you forgot the God Who gave you birth.

(v. 19) The LORD saw this and rejected them because he was angered by his sons and daughters.

(v. 20) I will hide my face from them,' he said, 'and see what their end will be; for they are a perverse generation, children who unfaithful.

(v. 21) They made me jealous by what is no God and angered Me with their worthless idols. I will make them envious by those who are not a people; I will make them angry by a nation that has no understanding.

(v. 22) For a fire has been kindled by my wrath, one that burns to the realm of death below [sheol]. It will devour the earth and its harvests and set afire the foundations of the mountains.

(v. 23) I will heap calamities upon them and spend my arrows against them.

(v. 24) I will send wasting famine against them, consuming pestilence and deadly plague; I will send against them the fangs of wild beasts, the venom of vipers that glide in the dust.

(v. 25) In the street the sword will make them childless; in their homes terror will reign. Young men and young women will perish, infants and gray-haired men."

b) THE LORD'S FIERY TEMPORAL JUDGMENT UPON THE ASSYRIANS

i) [Isa 30:27-33]:

(v. 27) "See, the Name of the LORD comes from afar, with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; His lips are full of wrath, and His tongue is a consuming fire

(v. 28) His breath is like a rushing torrent rising up to the neck, He shakes the nations in the sieve of destruction; He places in the jaws of the peoples a bit that leads them astray."

c) GOD'S REFINING OF THE LEVITES

i) [Mal 1:1-3]:

(v. 1) " 'See I will send My messenger [John the Baptist], Who will prepare the way before Me. Then suddenly the LORD you are seeking will come to His temple; the Messenger of the covenant, Whom you desire will come', says the LORD Almighty.

(v. 2) But who can endure the day of His [2nd] coming? Who can stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap.

(v. 3) He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offering sin righteousness,

(v. 4) and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years.' "

d) THE BURNING UP OF THE BELIEVERS WORKS BUT NOT THE UNFAITHFUL BELIEVER HIMSELF AT THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST

i) [1 Cor 3:12-15]:

(v. 12) "If any man builds on this foundation [of salvation through Christ alone, (v. 11)] using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw

(v. 13) his work will be shown [i.e., judged by our Lord, (2 Cor 5:10)] for what it is, because the Day [of judgment] will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work.

(v. 14) If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.

(v. 15) If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames."

2) WORDS FOR HELL ARE NOT MENTIONED IN THE PASSAGE

[Dr. Wilkin states, (op. cit.)]:

'''There is no reference here to "the lake of fire," "Gehenna," "hell," "unquenchable fire," "eternal torment," or any terms commonly associated with eternal condemnation. Take a moment and reread the passage and you will see what I mean.

Some might wonder about "fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries" (v27) and "worse punishment" (v29). The latter expression is discussed below. The former merely refers to God's zeal in judging those who oppose Him (which can certainly include believers). We might translate the phrase in question, "the fire of zeal which will devour the adversaries." Fire is a common biblical metaphor for temporal judgment. Only when the context clearly specifies eternal burning does fire in Scripture refer to hell. There is no such indication here."

3) TEMPORAL JUDGMENT IS BEING THREATENED NOT ETERNAL CONDEMNATION

'''There are two lines of evidence which show that temporal judgment is in view:

a) GENUINE BELIEVERS ARE IN VIEW

As shown above, genuine believers are in view and believers cannot experience eternal condemnation. Thus, whatever the judgment is, it must either refer to the Judgment Seat of Christ, which this passage clearly does not, or to some judgment here and now.

b) MANY TEMPORAL JUDGMENTS ARE WORSE THAN DEATH

Verse 29 speaks of a punishment worse than the death penalty which was given under the Law of Moses (v 28). There are many temporal judgments worse than immediate death. Lingering emotional, spiritual, and physical pain (which may well culminate in premature death) can be much worse than immediate death.

The point of comparison is with temporal, not eternal, judgment. Even believers were subject to the death penalty under the Law of Moses. For example, but for God's grace, David would have been stoned for committing adultery with Bathsheeba and for having her husband killed (2 Sam 12:13). If the thing used for comparison is temporal in nature, we would expect that the punishment to which it is compared would be as well.'''

c) THE PASSAGE EXHORTS THE BELIEVER WHO HAS TRUSTED IN THE ONCE FOR ALL TIME SACRIFICE FOR SINS OF CHRIST TO NOT WILLFULLY KEEP ON SINNING BY OFFERING UP HIS OWN SACRIFICES FOR SINS - A SERIOUS DOCTRINAL ERROR: OTHERWISE THERE WILL BE SEVERE CONSEQUENCES

[Dr. Wilkin, Ibid.]:

'''This passage does not deal with moral failure. Rather it deals with doctrinal defection and its terrible temporal consequences. Those who apostasize, who willfully turn their back on Christ and deny the atoning power of His blood, will experience punishment worse than death.

Doctrinal defection is something which terrifies me. I take great care to guard against it. May we all remember the words of the author of the Book of Hebrews concerning apostasy:

"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." ''' [Heb 10:31]

IV) [Heb 10:28-29]:

(v. 28) Anyone who [was a Jew who] rejected the Law of Moses died [physically, i.e., was executed by stoning] without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. [Dt 17:2-6]

A) TEMPORAL JUDGMENT NOT ETERNAL CONDEMNATION IS IN VIEW

[Notice that temporal judgment not eternal condemnation is in view here and this theme continues into the next verse

As Dr. Wilkin stated earlier, "If the thing used for comparison is temporal in nature, we would expect that the punishment to which it is compared would be as well"]:

(v. 29) How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?"

[Joseph Dillow, ThD, The Reign of the Servant Kings, Schoettle Publishing, Hayesville, NC, 1992, pp. 216-7]:

"Sanctification in Hebrews looks at the imputation of the justifying righteousness of Christ from the vantage point of being qualified to enter the presence of God to worship and seek help in time of need (Heb 10:10, 14, 19). It is possible for men who have been the recipients of this sanctification to trample under foot the Son of God and insult the Spirit of grace.

Does the writer of this epistle doubt their salvation? No! What he worries about is their loss of reward."

1) [Compare Heb 10:35]:

"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised."

[Dillow, cont.]:

"That he does not consider them mere professors in Christ is proven by the six things he says are true of them...

First, they have 'received the light', (Heb 10:32). To be 'enlightened' (photizomai) means to be born again and to have truly and inwardly experienced the heavenly gift and the personal ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Second, they 'stood [their] ground in a great contest in the face of suffering' (10:32). These people had not only responded to the gospel, they had suffered for it and persevered in their suffering for Christ's sake.

Third, they 'were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; and at other times stood side by side with those who were so treated' (10:33). The public nature of their confession of Christ resulted in public ridicule and persecution. But far from backing away, they pressed on and joined with others who were similarly treated.

Fourth, they sympathized with those in prison (10:34). Risking danger to their own lives, they visited persecuted brothers and sisters in prison, thereby publicly identifying themselves to hostile authoritiesas Christian sympathizers.

Fifth, they 'joyfully accepted the confiscation of [their] property' (10:34). Furthermore, they accepted this confiscation for the right motives, 'because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.' They were focused on the eternal inheritance which the faithful will acquire.

Finally, he specifically says [in Heb 10:29] they have been 'sanctified':

(v. 29) "How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified Him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?"...

In addition, one does not consider them mere professing Christians about the loss of reward but about their eternal destiny in hell. One does not tell non-Christians to persevere in the faith so that they will receive a reward. Instead, he tells them to believe the gospel."

[Zane Hodges states (op. cit., pp. 805-806)]:

"Under the Old Covenant if an Israelite spurned the Mosaic Law and at least 'two or three witnesses' verified his actions, he was put to death. This being true, the author then argued from the lesser to the greater. If defiance of an inferior covenant could bring such retribution, what about defiance of the New Covenant which, as he had made clear, is far superior? The answer can only be that the punishment would be substantially greater in such a case.

In order to show that this is so, the writer then placed defection from the faith in the harshest possible light. An apostate from the New Covenant 'has trampled the Son of God underfoot' and 'has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him.' ... To treat 'the blood of the covenant (which actually sanctifies believers) as though it were an 'unholy' (koinon, 'common') thing and to renounce its efficacy, is to commit a sin so heinous as to dwarf the fatal infractions of the Old Covenant. To this, an apostate adds the offense of insulting 'the Spirit of grace' Who originally wooed him to faith in Christ. This kind of spiritual rebellion clearly calls for a much worse punishment than the capital penalty that was inflicted under the Mosaic setup.

But again the writer was not thinking of hell. Many forms of divine retribution can fall on a human life which are worse than immediate death. In fact, Jeremiah made just such a complaint about the punishment inflicted on Jersusalem....

2) [Lam 4:6, 9, 11]:999

(v. 6) "The punishment of my people [temporal, not eternal is in view] is greater than that of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment without a hand turned to help her.

(v. 9) Those killed by the sword are better off than those who die of famine; racked with hunger, they waste away for lack of food from the field.

(v. 10) With their own hands compassionate women have cooked their own children, who became their food when my people were destroyed.

(v. 11) The LORD has given full vent to His wrath;

He has poured out His fierce anger.

He kindled a fire in Zion that consumed her foundations."

...One might think also of King Saul, whose last days were burdened with such mental and emotional turmoil that death itself was a kind of release. [1 Sam 28:15-25]"

V) [Heb 10:30-31]:

(v. 30) "For we know Him Who said, 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' and again, 'The Lord wll judge His people.'

(v. 31) It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

Zane Hodges states, (op. cit., p. 806):

"No one should regard such a warning as an idle threat. God Himself has claimed the right to take vengeance and to 'judge His people.' In saying this, the author quoted twice from Deuteronomy (32:35-36), a chapter which most vividly evokes the picture of God's people suffering His [temporal] retributive judgments (cf. esp. Deut. 32:19-27. Those familiar with this text, as well as other descriptions of God's wrath against 'His People,' agree: 'it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.' "

VI) [Heb 10:32-34]:

(v. 32) "Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering.

(v. 33) Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated.

(v. 34) You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.

[These next three verses refer to suffering and persecution that the early church received because of their faith in Christ and not to persecutions and difficulties which the nation Israel received hundred's of years earlier. Scripture and history do not support that Old Testament Israel underwent the specific type of experiences that verses 32-34 describe. Most early Christians were Jews and received suffering and persecution from both the Jewish and the Pagan world]:

(v. 32) Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, [the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ], when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering.

(v. 33) Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated.

(v. 34) You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possesssions.

These verses describe the very type of persecution Christians, especially Jewish Christians received, usually at the hand of unbelieving Jews. This does not describe the typical kind of hardship of a Jew of the nation Israel: "after you received the light" = refers to the light of the gospel of salvation. There was no event of persecution or suffering of the Jew directly as a result of receiving and believing truth from God's Word.

"publicly exposed to insult and persecution" = this was most typical of Christians

"stood side by side with those who were so treated." = speaks of the days when Christians stood side by side with one another through the most horrible of suffering and persecutions.

VII) [Heb 10:34]:

(v. 34) "You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possesssions."

"You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted confiscation of your property" = This describes what happened to Christians not to the nation Israel. Notice: "JOYFULLY accepted confiscation of your property". The nation Israel was under God's judgment for unfaithfulness and did not receive confiscation of their property, captivity or persecution with joy.

"You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted confiscation of your property because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions." = Refers to the joy of knowing that one has eternal life and will receive eternal rewards in heaven for their sufferings and persecutions. Christians all knew that they had eternal life and were to receive rewards for faithful service, (v. 35). Jews of Old Testament times did not all have or even knew, for the most part, that they were destined for the kingdom of heaven with the option of receiving rewards for faithful service.

So this passage in Hebrews is referring to the faith of Christianity for which one suffered persecution not Judaism. The Roman empire did not usually operate that way toward Jews. Except in times of uprisings and conquest did the Jew receive persecution from the Romans. Therefore these verses further affirm that the writer of 'Hebrews' is addressing professing Hebrew Christians for the most part with a few passages aimed at false professors of true faith in Christ.

VIII) [Heb 10:35-36]:

(v. 35) So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

[Zane Hodges states, op. cit. p. 806]:

"This was no time for them then, to throw away their confidence (parresia, cf. 3:6;; 4:16; 10:19). As the author's exposition of the eternal inheritance - the glory of the many sons - had sought to show, that confidence, if retained, will be richly rewarded."

(v. 36) You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

["persevere" = refers to walking by faith under trials, suffering and persecution so that one will "receive what he has promised" - not eternal life, for that is by a one time expression of faith alone in Christ alone and not by perseverance, (Jn 3:16, Eph 2:8-9; 1 Jn 5:9-13); but for eternal rewards in heaven, (2 Tim 4:7-8; Rev 2:26-27; Rev 4-6; Lk 19:12-27)]

[Zane Hodges, cont.]:

"What the readers needed, therefore, was just what the writer had often said and implied: to persevere (lit., 'you had need of perseverance,' hypomones echete chreian) so that by thus doing God's will (cf. v. 9) they would receive what God had promised. As much as anything these words express the central exhortation of the Book of Hebrews."]

IX) [Heb 10:37-39]:

(v. 37) "For in just a very little while, He Who is coming will come and will not delay.

[Zane Hodges, op. cit., p. 806]:

"If their concern [due to the persecution, (v. 33)] was about the delay of the Second Advent, they should rest assured that in just a very little while, He Who is coming will come and will not delay. These words and those that follow were adapted by the author from the Septuagint of Isaiah 26:21 and Habakkuk 2:3-4. But they were used freely and were not intended as a precise quotation, since no words such as 'He says' introduced them ...]

(v. 38) But My righteous one will live by faith.

And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.

["But My righteous one will live by faith" = refers to a believer = one who has been declared righteous unto eternal life, having placed his faith alone in God's plan of salvation: thru His Son Jesus Christ alone, (Ro 3:21-24; 4:1-5), a individual is then declared righteous by God - the only way one can get to be righteous. So Heb 10:38 states: [the one who is declared] righteous... will live [eternally] by faith

"And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with Him" = the righteous one who will live eternally by faith has the possibility in this temporal life of shrinking back from 'the will of God', (v. 36) in the face of persecution, (v. 33) at which time the Lord indicates His displeasure, (notice that loss of salvation is not in view).

But, if he shrinks back, that is, if the 'rightous one' commits apostasy, denouncing his Christian profession, God's favor cannot rest on his life. By understating the serious consequences, the writer softened his words so that he would not distract from his predominant note of encouragement."]

(v. 39) But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved."

[Zane Hodges, Ibid]:

"Here the original text has an emphatic 'we,' which the writer might have intended as an 'editorial we,' of which he was quite fond (cf. 2:5; 5:11; 8:1; etc.). Then he would mean: 'As far as I am concerned, I am determined not to shrink back and experience the ruin which divine retribution would bring.' The words 'are destroyed' reflect the Greek apoleia, which can refer either to temporal or eternal ruin. In this contest the former is correct. Instead of the ruin which an apostate invites, the writer intended to be among those who believe and are saved. The NIV rendering should not be misread as a reference to conversion [to eternal life]. Though the author's own normal word for salvation does not occur here, the expression 'and are saved' somewhat freely translates eis peripoiesin psyches. A viable rendering of the last half of verse 39 would be: 'but [we are] of faith leading to the preservation of the soul'... But 'soul' here should be understood in the Hebraic sense of the person himself, or his life, and refers in this context to the way in which persistence in the faith preserves an individual from the calamities that overtake those who 'shrink back.' Even if the writer was speaking primarily of his own purpose of heart, he clearly intended that to be shared by his readers. Thus the concluding statement of his warning passage (10:19-39) amounts to a call for determination and perseverance."

The book of James chapter 2 distinguishes between the doctrines of eternal life and eternal rewards: