|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
10:32-39 Many and various afflictions united against the early Christians, and they had a great conflict. The Christian spirit is not a selfish spirit; it puts us upon pitying others, visiting them, helping them, and pleading for them. All things here are but shadows. The happiness of the saints in heaven will last for ever; enemies can never take it away as earthly goods. This will make rich amends for all we may lose and suffer here. The greatest part of the saints' happiness, as yet, is in promise. It is a trial of the patience of Christians, to be content to live after their work is done, and to stay for their reward till God's time to give it is come. He will soon come to them at death, to end all their sufferings, and to give them a crown of life. The Christian's present conflict may be sharp, but will be soon over. God never is pleased with the formal profession and outward duties and services of such as do not persevere; but he beholds them with great displeasure. And those who have been kept faithful in great trails for the time past, have reason to hope for the same grace to help them still to live by faith, till they receive the end of their faith and patience, even the salvation of their souls. Living by faith, and dying in faith, our souls are safe for ever.
Verses 32-39. - As at Hebrews 6:9, the tones of solemn warning, founded on a real sense of the possibility of apostasy in some, are now relieved by a better hope. In Hebrews 6:9, et seq., the writer expressed his own confidence in his readers on the ground of their conduct in the past; here he reminds them of their conduct by way of confirming their own steadfastness, and this with judgment as well as delicacy; for, as Theodoret remarks on this passage, "nothing so excites to zeal as the remembrance of one's own right doings." Verse 32. - But call to mind the former days, in which, after ye were enlightened, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; rather, conflict of sufferings. On φωτισθέντες ("enlightened"), cf. Hebrews 6:4, and what was said there as to the meaning of the word. Here certainly the context seems naturally to suggest a definite reference to baptism, as marking the date of the commencement of exposure to persecution. But if so, not, of course, so as to exclude the idea of inward spiritual enlightenment. "Hie primus erat ingressus ad Christianismum; baptismus apud idoneos salutare medium. Existimo haec instituta divina etiam in theoria non tanti aestimari quanti decebat. Apud ipsum baptismum Christi sancta ejus humanitas magnifice illuminata fuit" (Bengel).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But call to remembrance the former days,.... The words may be considered either as a declaration of what they had done, and be read, "but ye do call to remembrance", &c. or as an exhortation to remember the days of their espousals, the times of their first conversion: and the apostle's design in this is, to mitigate the terror the preceding words might strike them with; and to aggravate the disgrace of turning back, when they had behaved so bravely in former times; and to encourage their faith and trust in God:
in which after ye were illuminated, by the Spirit of God, to see their impurity, impotence, and unrighteousness, and their lost and miserable state by nature; and to behold Christ and salvation by him; and to have some light into the doctrines of the Gospel; and some glimmering of the glories of another world. The Syriac and Ethiopic versions render it "baptized"; now such as are converted, and are brought to make a public profession of their faith, and submit to the ordinances of Christ, are, in common, immediately called to suffer reproach and persecution of one kind or another; so Christ, after his baptism, was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil: Satan is spiteful and malicious, and God suffers afflictions to befall his people to try their graces, and to inure them to troubles early, as follows;
ye endured a great fight of afflictions; meaning some violent persecution from their own countrymen, either at the death of Stephen, in which the apostle, being then unconverted; was concerned himself; or rather some other time of trouble, after the apostle was converted, to which he seems to have respect in 1 Thessalonians 2:14, these Hebrews, being enlisted as soldiers under Christ, the Captain of their salvation, were quickly engaged in a warfare, and were called forth to fight a fight of afflictions, and a very great one; and which they endured with patience, courage, and intrepidity.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
32. As previously he has warned them by the awful end of apostates, so here he stirs them up by the remembrance of their own former faith, patience, and self-sacrificing love. So Re 2:3, 4.
call to remembrance—habitually: so the present tense means.
illuminated—"enlightened": come to "the knowledge of the truth" (Heb 10:26) in connection with baptism (see on Heb 6:4). In spiritual baptism, Christ, who is "the Light," is put on. "On the one hand, we are not to sever the sign and the grace signified where the sacrifice truly answers its designs; on the other, the glass is not to be mistaken for the liquor, nor the sheath for the sword" [Bengel].
fight of—that is, consisting of afflictions.
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