By now, we have reached the climax in the doctrinal section of Hebrews. The author has taught that Jesus has entered the true, heavenly tabernacle to minister before God. He has also shown how Christ has a more excellent priestly ministry by means of His death. The personal sacrifice of Christ has decisively removed the problem of sin once for all. The passage of this lesson will continue to focus on the offering of Jesus Christ and show why it has finally replaced the sacrificial system under the Old Testament.
Did You Know...?
1. “A body You have prepared for Me” (10:5): “The author takes the quotation from the LXX (Septuagint—A Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures). But the original psalm in Hebrews reads, “My ears You have opened” (Ps 40:6). The reason for this discrepancy is probably that the translators of the LXX was giving a free interpretive translation. As Morris points out, ‘They may wish to express the view that the body is the instrument through which the divine command, received by the ear, is carried out’” [ref]
What is the author’s main point in this passage?Hide Answer
The sacrifices under the old covenant, being only a shadow, was ineffective. Now that Christ has come and offered the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins, the new covenant of God has been put into effect and it has permanently replaced the old covenant.
Identify the main subject and verb of verse 1.Hide Answer
The law can never make perfect.
The sacrifices under the law were offered continually year after year. How does this fact point out the inherent weakness of the sacrifices?Hide Answer
Verse 2 points out that if the sacrifices could purify the conscience from sin, then there would be no need to offer them again and again because sin would have been removed once for all. The fact that these sacrifices were repeated shows that they were ineffective.
If the sacrifices could not make the worshippers perfect, then why did God still command them in the law? What is the role of the law in relation to Christ?Hide Answer
1. It served as a shadow of the good things to come (1). The sacrifices prefigured the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
2. It served as a reminder of sins (3). By making the people aware of their sins and their need for atonement, the sacrifices directed the worshippers’ hope to the Savior (cf. Gal 3:21-25).
Who is the “He” in verse 5?Hide Answer
What practical lesson can we learn from the passage in Psalms?Hide Answer
God does not take delight in superficial worship. What He looks for is our submission to His will (1Sam 15:22; Isa 58:2-14; Mt 7:21-23; Rom 2:28-29). Our offerings and service would mean nothing to Him if we do not obey Him from our hearts. Therefore, we need to first learn to offer our bodies as living sacrifices and live righteous lives in accord with the Lord’s commands. We need to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, making God the first priority in all our choices rather than follow our own desires.
How does the author apply the passage specifically to Christ?Hide Answer
God was not pleased with sacrifices and offerings because they were not able to atone for sins. But He prepared a body for Jesus Christ, who came to do the Father’s will. Jesus’ sacrifice in the body was what truly pleased God because it was able to remove sins once for all. God’s will was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, not in the sacrifices and offerings.
“I have come…to do Your will, O God.” What is the will of God in the context of this paragraph?Hide Answer
Sanctification through the forgiveness of sins (10).
What is the function of the parenthetical statement in 8b? (“which are offered according to the law”)?Hide Answer
The author points out that the law in the OT was not the ultimate will of God. Even though God commanded sacrifices and offerings in the law, God did not desire or had pleasure in them because God had intended these to be only a shadow of the things to come.
Who is verse 9b talking about, and what does it mean? (“He takes away the first that He may establish the second”).Hide Answer
“He” refers to Christ. “The first” refers to what is stated in verse 8, and “the second” to what is in verse 9. Christ has removed sacrifices and offerings once for all through the offering of His body.
What contrasts are made between the priests and Christ? Explain the significance of these contrasts.Hide Answer
1. The priests ministered daily and offered repeatedly the same sacrifices (11), but Christ offered one sacrifice.
2. Every priest stands (11), but Christ sat down at the right hand of God (12).
The significance of these contrasts is that while the priests had to continually minister with many sacrifices that were ineffective, Christ accomplished the work of salvation once for all. Furthermore, Christ has received the highest honor and authority because He is now seated at the right hand of God, but the priests were only servants who had to stand to minister.
Explain the meaning of verse 13.Hide Answer
The enemies of Christ are “the principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this age, and the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12;
1Cor 15:24-25). They are also the ungodly forces of this world that oppose the rule of Christ (cf. Acts 4:25-27; Rev 19:19, 20:7–8). The final enemy is death (1Cor 15:26).
What does the word “waiting” imply?Hide Answer
The word “waiting” is significant. It shows that Christ has already won the battle. He is not fighting until the enemies are made His footstool, but He is waiting. Victory is certain. In due time, all of Christ’s enemies will be destroyed.
Look at the tenses in verse 14. What has God done? What is He still doing?Hide Answer
Christ has perfected the believers forever. In other words, Christ has become the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him (5:9). He has opened the way to God for us through His atoning sacrifice (10:19 20). But while we have been justified freely by faith, we are continually being sanctified in this life through the work of the Holy Spirit (2Thess 2:13). God will keep working in our lives to accomplish His purpose (Php 2:12-13).
Paul’s words in Romans share the same thought: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Rom 8:1). There is no condemnation because Christ has perfected us forever. But in order to be in Christ, we need to walk according to the Spirit. Justification takes place at one time, but sanctification continues throughout our lives.
Another way to understand the phrase “those who are being sanctified” is that God’s work of sanctification continues to the present. As more believers put their faith in Christ through the ages, they are added to the number of the sanctified.
Who is speaking in 15-17? Who is being spoken to?Hide Answer
The Holy Spirit witnesses to us.
One of the functions of the Holy Spirit is witnessing with our spirit. He lives in our hearts to enlighten our hearts concerning the Scriptures and to guide us into all truth (Jn 16:13). In the context of this passage, the Holy Spirit confirms with our hearts that God’s promise in the new covenant, as prophesied in the Scriptures, has come true in Christ.
What is the meaning of having God’s laws written in our hearts? How are God’s laws in your heart and on your mind?Hide Answer
Having God’s laws written in our hearts means believing God in our hearts and obeying Him from our hearts instead of merely performing the external requirements of the law. This process involves the transforming power of God’s Spirit (Ezek 36:26-27;
2Cor 3:17). Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we can become a new creation in Christ. Consequently, obedience does not remain on the external, but our hearts and our minds also conform to God’s will.
How do verses 16 and 17 explain the words “perfected forever” in 14?
How does verse 18 sum up the entire passage?Hide Answer
The whole passage deals with the removal of the old and ushering in of the new (cf. 9). Now that there is remission of sins in Christ, the old covenant, along with its sacrifices and offerings, is no longer necessary.