Hebrews 10:26
For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
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(26) For.—The connecting links are the thought of the consequences to which such sinful neglect (Hebrews 10:25) may lead, and the awful revelation of judgment which the final day will bring. Even more clearly than in Hebrews 6:4-6 the state described is one of wilful and continued sin, which is the result and the expression of apostasy from Christ. It is not, “If we fall under temptation and commit sin;” but, “If we are sinning wilfully.” The descriptive words are few as compared with those of the former passage, but they teach the same lesson. Not merely the “knowledge” but the “full knowledge” (Romans 1:28) of the truth has been received by those to whom the writer here makes reference; they have been “sanctified in the blood of the covenant” (Hebrews 10:29). For such “there remaineth no longer a sacrifice for sins:” that offering of Jesus which they deliberately reject has abolished all the earlier sacrifices. The observances and ceremonies of Judaism, which had been full of meaning whilst they pointed to Him that was to come, have lost all their virtue through His coming. Nay more: for such sin as this, the sin of knowing and wilful rejection of the only Sin offering, God has provided no other sacrifice. In its general significance this passage does not differ from Hebrews 6:4-6. (See the Notes.)

Hebrews 10:26-27. For, &c. — As if he had said, It concerns us to use all means to ensure our perseverance, because apostacy is so dangerous; if we — Any of us Christians; sin wilfully — By total apostacy from God; (see on Hebrews 6:4;) after we have received the knowledge of the truth — As it is in Jesus, namely, an experimental and practical knowledge thereof, so as to have been made free thereby from the guilt and power of sin; there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins — None but that which we obstinately reject. “As the apostle, in the former part of the epistle, had proved that the sacrifices of the law were all abolished, and that the only sacrifice for sin remaining was the sacrifice of Christ, it followed that apostates, who wilfully renounced the benefit of that sacrifice, had no sacrifice for sin whatever remaining to them.” But a certain fearful looking for Φοβερα δε τις εκδοχη, a kind of fearful expectation: intimating something inexpressible, such as no heart could conceive or tongue describe. Thus St. Peter, 1 Epist. 1 Peter 4:17-18, What shall be the end of them who obey not the gospel? Where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Of judgment and fiery indignation. The apostle refers both to the final judgment of the great day, when apostates from the religion of Jesus, as well as those who obstinately rejected it, shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, &c., 2 Thessalonians 1:9; and also to the dreadful and fiery indignation which God was about to bring on the unbelieving and obstinate Jews, in the total destruction of their city and temple by sword and fire, devouring them, as adversaries to God and his Christ, of all others the most inexcusable. The reader should observe that the apostle lays it down here as certain, that God will not pardon sinners without some sacrifice or satisfaction. For otherwise it would not follow, from there remaining to apostates no more sacrifice for sin, that there must remain to them a dreadful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation. In these last words, the conflagration of the heaven and the earth at the day of judgment seems especially to be referred to.

10:26-31 The exhortations against apostacy and to perseverance, are urged by many strong reasons. The sin here mentioned is a total and final falling away, when men, with a full and fixed will and resolution, despise and reject Christ, the only Saviour; despise and resist the Spirit, the only Sanctifier; and despise and renounce the gospel, the only way of salvation, and the words of eternal life. Of this destruction God gives some notorious sinners, while on earth, a fearful foreboding in their consciences, with despair of being able to endure or to escape it. But what punishment can be sorer than to die without mercy? We answer, to die by mercy, by the mercy and grace which they have despised. How dreadful is the case, when not only the justice of God, but his abused grace and mercy call for vengeance! All this does not in the least mean that any souls who sorrow for sin will be shut out from mercy, or that any will be refused the benefit of Christ's sacrifice, who are willing to accept these blessings. Him that cometh unto Christ, he will in no wise cast out.For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth - If after we are converted and become true Christians we should apostatize, it would be impossible to be recovered again, for there would be no other sacrifice for sin; no way by which we could be saved. This passage, however, like Hebrews 6:4-6, has given rise to much difference of opinion. But that the above is the correct interpretation, seems evident to me from the following considerations:

(1) It is the natural and obvious interpretation, such as would occur probably to ninety-nine readers in a hundred, if there were no theory to support, and no fear that it would conflict with some other doctrine.

(2) it accords with the scope of the Epistle, which is, to keep those whom the apostle addressed from returning again to the Jewish religion, under the trials to which they were subjected.

(3) it is in accordance with the fair meaning of the language - the words "after that we have received the knowledge of the truth," referring more naturally to true conversion than to any other state of mind.

(4) the sentiment would not be correct if it referred to any but real Christians. It would not be true that one who had been somewhat enlightened, and who then sinned "wilfully," must look on fearfully to the judgment without a possibility of being saved. There are multitudes of cases where such persons are saved. They "wilfully" resist the Holy Spirit; they strive against him; they for a long time refuse to yield, but they are brought again to reflection, and are led to give their hearts to God.

(5) it is true, and always will be true, that if a sincere Christian should apostatize he could never be converted again; see the notes on Hebrews 6:4-6. The reasons are obvious. He would have tried the only plan of salvation, and it would have failed. He would have embraced the Saviour, and there would not have been efficacy enough in his blood to keep him, and there would be no more powerful Saviour and no more efficacious blood of atonement. He would have renounced the Holy Spirit, and would have shown that his influences were not effectual to keep him, and there would be no other agent of greater power to renew and save him after he had apostatized. For these reasons it seems clear to me that this passage refers to true Christians, and that the doctrine here taught is, that if such an one should apostatize, he must look forward only to the terrors of the judgment, and to final condemnation.

Whether this in fact ever occurs, is quite another question. In regard to that inquiry, see the notes on Hebrews 6:4-6. If this view be correct, we may add, that the passage should not be regarded as applying to what is commonly known as the "sin against the Holy Spirit," or "the unpardonable sin." The word rendered "wilfully" - ἑκουσίως hekousiōs - occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, except in 1 Peter 5:2, where it is rendered "willingly" - "taking the oversight thereof (of the church) not by constraint, but willingly." It properly means, "willingly, voluntarily, of our own accord," and applies to cases where no constraint is used. It is not to be construed here strictly, or metaphysically, for all sin is voluntary, or is committed willingly, but must refer to a deliberate act, where a man means to abandon his religion, and to turn away from God. If it were to be taken with metaphysical exactness, it would demonstrate that every Christian who ever does anything wrong, no matter how small, would be lost.

But this cannot, from the nature of the case, be the meaning. The apostle well knew that Christians do commit such sins (see the notes on Romans 7), and his object here is not to set forth the danger of such sins, but to guard Christians against apostasy from their religion. In the Jewish Law, as is indeed the case everywhere, a distinction is made between sins of oversight, inadvertence, or ignorance, (Leviticus 4:2, Leviticus 4:13, Leviticus 4:22, Leviticus 4:27; Leviticus 5:15; Numbers 15:24, Numbers 15:27-29; compare Acts 3:17; Acts 17:30), and sins of presumption; sins that are deliberately and intentionally committed; see Exodus 21:14; Numbers 15:30; Deuteronomy 17:12; Psalm 19:13. The apostle here has reference, evidently, to such a distinction, and means to speak of a decided and deliberate purpose to break away from the restraints and obligations of the Christian religion.

There remaineth no more sacrifice for sins - Should a man do this, there is no sacrifice for sins which could save him. He would have rejected deliberately the only atonement made for sin, and there will be no other made. It is as if a man should reject the only medicine that could heal him, or push away the only boat that could save him when shipwrecked; see notes, Hebrews 6:6. The sacrifice made for sin by the Redeemer is never to be repeated, and if that is deliberately rejected, the soul must be lost.

26. Compare on this and following verses, Heb 6:4, &c. There the warning was that if there be not diligence in progressing, a falling off will take place, and apostasy may ensue: here it is, that if there be lukewarmness in Christian communion, apostasy may ensue.

if we sin—Greek present participle: if we be found sinning, that is, not isolated acts, but a state of sin [Alford]. A violation not only of the law, but of the whole economy of the New Testament (Heb 10:28, 29).

wilfully—presumptuously, Greek "willingly." After receiving "full knowledge (so the Greek, compare 1Ti 2:4) of the truth," by having been "enlightened," and by having "tasted" a certain measure even of grace of "the Holy Ghost" (the Spirit of truth, Joh 14:17; and "the Spirit of grace," Heb 10:29): to fall away (as "sin" here means, Heb 3:12, 17; compare Heb 6:6) and apostatize (Heb 3:12) to Judaism or infidelity, is not a sin of ignorance, or error ("out of the way," the result) of infirmity, but a deliberate sinning against the Spirit (Heb 10:29; Heb 5:2): such sinning, where a consciousness of Gospel obligations not only was, but is present: a sinning presumptuously and preseveringly against Christ's redemption for us, and the Spirit of grace in us. "He only who stands high can fall low. A lively reference in the soul to what is good is necessary in order to be thoroughly wicked; hence, man can be more reprobate than the beasts, and the apostate angels than apostate man" [Tholuck].

remaineth no more sacrifice—For there is but ONE Sacrifice that can atone for sin; they, after having fully known that sacrifice, deliberately reject it.

If we sin wilfully: the severe exaction which God will take upon such as apostatize from him, is further enforcing the former duty, and is introduced by the particle for, to that end; if we by a free and spontaneous desertion of Christ, and his ordinances, without a coercion by threats and persecutions; and this after we had professedly in our judgments, wills, and affections, with faith and reverence, acknowledged a love and subjection to the true gospel doctrine of the way of bringing sinners to God by Christ our great High Priest, John 8:31 14:6, which was made known to them by Christ and his apostles, and confirmed by miracles and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, so as to profess a full conviction of this truth, so as to assent and consent to it.

After that we have received the knowledge of the truth; after all this, to renounce the profession of it, and to forsake the assemblies where it is held forth; this is the spontaneous and wilful sinning: see Hebrews 6:6.

There remaineth no more sacrifice for sins: this is unpardonable by the just constitution of God in the gospel, because no sacrifice can atone God for them, without which they cannot be pardoned; and the sacrifice of Christ, which only could do it, they renounce and desert; and so this, nor any other they can bring, can procure pardon for them, so that their sins remain in guilt and power on them, and between them and God’s wrath are they like irrecoverably to be ground to perdition.

For if we sin wilfully,.... Which is not to be understood of a single act of sin, but rather of a course of sinning; nor of sins of infirmity through temptation, or even of grosser acts of sin, but of voluntary ones; and not of all voluntary ones, or in which the will is engaged and concerned, but of such which are done on set purpose, resolutely and obstinately; and not of immoral practices, but of corrupt principles, and acting according to them; it intends a total apostasy from the truth, against light and evidence, joined with obstinacy.

After that we have received the knowledge of the truth; either of Jesus Christ, or of the Scriptures, or of the Gospel, or of some particular doctrine, especially the principal one, salvation by Christ; of which there may be a notional knowledge, when there is no experimental knowledge; and which is received not into the heart, but into the head: and whereas the apostle speaks in the first person plural, we, this is used not so much with regard to himself, but others; that so what he delivered might come with greater weight upon them, and be more readily received by them; when they observed he entertained no hard thoughts or jealousies of them, which would greatly distress the minds of those that were truly gracious. Moreover, the apostles use this way of speaking, when they do not design themselves at all, but others, under the same visible profession of religion, and who belonged to the same community of believers; see 1 Peter 4:3 compared with Acts 22:3. Besides, these words are only hypothetical, and do not prove that true believers could, or should, or do sin in this manner: to which may be added, that true believers are manifestly distinguished from these persons, Hebrews 10:38,

there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins; meaning, not typical sacrifice; for though the daily sacrifice ought to have ceased at the death of Christ, yet it did not in fact until the destruction of Jerusalem; but the sacrifice of Christ, which will never be repeated; Christ will die no more; his blood will not be shed again, nor his sacrifice reiterated; nor will any other sacrifice be offered; there will be no other Saviour; there is no salvation in any other, nor any other name whereby we must be saved. These words have been wrongly made use of to prove that persons sinning after baptism are not to be restored to communion again upon repentance; and being understood of immoral actions wilfully committed, have given great distress to consciences burdened with the guilt of sin, committed after a profession of religion; but the true sense of the whole is this, that after men have embraced and professed the truths of the Gospel, and particularly this great truth of it, that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour of men by his blood and sacrifice; and yet after this, against all evidence, all the light and convictions of their own consciences, they wilfully deny this truth, and obstinately persist in the denial of it; seeing there is no more, no other sacrifice for sin, no other Saviour, nor any salvation in any other way, the case of these men must be desperate; there is no help for them, nor hope of them; for by this their sin they shut up against themselves, in principle and practice, the way of salvation, as follows.

For if we sin {m} wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

(m) Without any cause or occasion, or show of occasion.

Hebrews 10:26. Ἑκουσίως γὰρ ἁμαρτανόντων ἡμῶν μετὰ τὸ λαβεῖν τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν τῆς ἀληθείας] For if we sin wilfully (i.e. against our better knowledge and conscience) after having received the certain knowledge of the truth; so that we become recreant to Christianity (comp. Hebrews 10:29), to which the ἐγκαταλείπειν τὴν ἐπισυναγωγὴν ἑαυτῶν forms the dangerous preliminary step. The ἑκουσίως ἁμαρτάνοντες are the opposite of the ἀγνοοῦντες καὶ πλανώμενοι, Hebrews 5:2,[103] and the participle present indicates the continuous or habitual character of the action.

ἡ ἀλήθεια is the truth absolutely, as this has been revealed by Christianity. The ἐπίγνωσις of this absolute truth, however, embraces, along with the recognition thereof by the understanding, also the having become conscious of its bliss-giving effects in one’s own experience. Comp. Hebrews 6:4-5.

οὐκέτι περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν ἀπολείπεται θυσία] there remains in relation to sins, i.e. for the expiation thereof, no more sacrifice; inasmuch, namely, as the sin-cancelling sacrifice of Christ, the communion of which we then renounce, is a sacrifice which takes place only once, is not further repeated, while at the same time the Levitical sacrifices are unable to effect the cancelling of sins. Bengel: Fructus ex sacrificio Christi semper patet non repudiantibus; qui autem repudiant, non aliud habent.

[103] The assertion of Kurtz, that, if this remark were true, the author would be expressing “a dogma in its consequences truly subversive, and destructive of the whole Christian soteriology,” inasmuch as it would “imperatively follow therefrom, that even under the New Covenant only those who transgressed from ignorance and error could find forgiveness with God for Christ’s sake, while all who had been guilty of a conscious and intentional sin must beyond hope of deliverance fall victims to the judgment of everlasting damnation,” is a precipitate one, since the special limitation within which the expression ἑκουσίως ἁμαρτάνειν was used was naturally afforded to the reader, quite apart from the investigation already preceding at Hebrews 6:4 ff., even from our section itself.

Hebrews 10:26-31. In the ἐγκαταλείπειν τὴν ἐπισυναγωγὴν ἑαυτῶν, Hebrews 10:25, there was manifested a lukewarmness in Christianity, which might lead to apostasy therefrom. In warning notes, therefore, the author points out that the man who knowingly slights recognised Christian truth, and sins against it, will infallibly be overtaken by the punitive judgment of God. To be compared Hebrews 6:4-8.

Hebrews 10:26-39. Dreadful result of falling from faith.

26–31. A solemn Warning of the Peril of Wilful Apostasy

26. For if we sin wilfully) The word “wilfully” stands in contrast with sins of weakness, ignorance and error in Hebrews 5:2. If the writer meant to say that, after the commission of wilful and heinous sins, “there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,” this would not only be the most terrible passage in Scripture, but would do away with the very object of Redemption, and the possibility of any Forgiveness of Sins. It would, as Kurz says, “be in its consequences truly subversive and destructive of the whole Christian soteriology.” But the meaning rather is “If we are willing sinners,” “if we are in a state of deliberate and voluntary defiance to the will of God.” He is alluding not only to those sins which the Jews described as being committed presumptuously “with uplifted hand” (Numbers 15:30; Psalm 19:13; see. Hebrews 6:4-8, Hebrews 12:16-17), but to the deliberate continuity of such sins as a self-chosen law of life; as for instance when a man has closed against himself the door of repentance and said “Evil be thou my good.” Such a state is glanced at in 2 Peter 2:20-21; Matthew 12:43-45.

after that we have received the knowledge of the truth] Rather, “the full knowledge of the truth.” Something more is meant than mere historical knowledge. He is contemplating Christians who have made some real advance, and then have relapsed into “desperation or the wretchlessness of unclean living.”

there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins] Lit., “no sacrifice for sins is any longer left for them.” They have rejected the work of Christ, and it cannot be done for them over again. There is one atoning sacrifice and that they have repudiated. He does not say that they have exhausted the infinite mercy of God, nor can we justly assert that he held such a conclusion; he only says that they have, so long as they continue in such a state, put themselves out of God’s covenant, and that there are no other covenanted means of grace. For they have trampled under foot the offer of mercy in Christ and there is no salvation in any other (Acts 4:12).

Hebrews 10:26. Ἑκουσίως, wilfully) For after the truth has been acknowledged, the excuse of ignorance is taken away.—ἁμαρτανόντων, if we sin) To sin here means entire revolt or apostasy from GOD, Hebrews 10:29, ch. Hebrews 3:12, 2 Kings 21:16; and the violation, not of the law, Hebrews 10:28, but of the whole economy of the New Testament, Hebrews 10:29. Comp. ἀθετήσας, rejected, despised, Hebrews 10:28, note.—μετὰ τὸ λαβεῖν, after we have received) This does not so much refer to individuals as to the state of believers of the New Testament: whence, however, the conclusion holds good to individuals, Hebrews 10:29.—τῆς ἀληθείας, of the truth) The truth, here, and grace, Hebrews 10:29, are expressions applied to the New Testament. The Spirit of grace, ibid., is called the Spirit of truth in John 14:17.—οὐκέτι, no more) The fruit of the sacrifice of Christ is always evident to them who do not reject it, but those who reject it have nothing else.—περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν, for sins) refers to ἁμαρτανόντων, if we sin.

Verses 26-32. - Solemn warning as to the fearful consequences of apostasy. Verses 26, 27. - For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for (ἐκδοχὴ, used here only; but ἐκδέχομαι is frequent in the New Testament in sense of "expect;" e.g. supra, ver. 13. Hence there seems no good ground for disputing, with Afford, the usual rendering, "expectation") of judgment, and fiery indignation (πυρός ζῆλος), which shall devour the adversaries. The warning passage thus begun closely resembles the former interposed one, Hebrews 6:4-9. Both have been similarly misapplied (see notes on Hebrews 6:4-9); but both have the same real meaning, which is further confirmed by comparing them together. The purport of both is the hopelessness of a state of apostasy from the faith after full knowledge and full enjoyment of privilege; both are led up to by cautions against remissness, of which the final issue might be such apostasy; both are followed by the expression of a confident hope, founded on past faithfulness, that no such apostasy will really follow. The state contemplated is here expressed by ἐκουσίως ἁμαρτανόντων, a phrase which in itself might at first sight seem to support one of the erroneous views of the drift of the passage, viz. that all willful sin after baptism or grace received is unpardonable. But it is first to be observed that the participle ἁμαρτανόντων is not aorist, but present, expressing a persistent habit; also that the whole context is sufficient to denote the kind of sin intended. For

(1) the preceding verses have pointed to laxity of allegiance to Christ, which might have further consequences;

(2) the illustration of what is meant, adduced in ver. 28 from the Mosaic Law, is (as will appear under that verse) a case of entire apostasy - a sin not to be atoned for by any sacrifice, but visited by "cutting off;"

(3) the description in ver. 29 of the sin intended implies total repudiation of Christ. Observe, on ἀκουσίως σίως, the contrast to ἁμαρτάνειν (Leviticus 4:2, 27; Leviticus 5:15, al.), expressive of sins of ignorance or infirmity. Not such sins, but deliberate sin with a high hand, is here intended; and further, for the reasons above given, one of this nature so heinous as to be beyond the reach of sacrifice. From all such considerations it appears that ἐκουσίως ἁμαρτανόντων here expresses the same idea as παραπεσόντας (Hebrews 6:6) and ἀποστῆναι ἀπὸ Θεοῦ ζῶντος (Hebrews 3:12), viz. final obdurate defection from the faith. Further, the previous conditions for the possibility of arriving at such a hopeless state, set forth more at length in vers. 4, 5 of Hebrews 6, are here shortly expressed by μετὰ τὸ μαβεῖν τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν τῆς ἀληθείας, which is to be interpreted in the light of the other passage (see note thereon). The consequences of such falling away are differently stated in the two passages. In Hebrews 6, it was the impossibility of renewal unto repentance; here it is the absence of any further atoning sacrifice; and this in keeping with what has been now proved of the sacrifice of Christ having superseded all others and been "once for all." The drift is that, if this is deliberately rejected after full knowledge of it, no ether is left to have recourse to. Then the immediate mention of "judgment" is in keeping also with the conclusion of Hebrews 9. (see note on Hebrews 9:27), and is immediately suggested here by τὴν ἡμέραν of ver. 25. The fire in which that day is to be revealed is a prominent figure both in the Old Testament and the New; regarded as both an assaying and a consuming fire (cf. especially 1 Corinthians 3:13-16). The expression, πυρὸς ζῆλος ("zeal, or indignation, of fire"), not only expresses the vehemence of the flame, but also implies the idea of the fire itself being instinct with the Divine wrath or jealousy (as ζῆλος, equivalent to קִגְאָה, is usually translated when attributed to God), of which it is the symbol (cf. Psalm 79:5, Ἐκκαυθήσεται ὡς πῦρ ὁ ζῆλος μου: Ezekiel 38:19, Ὁ ζῆλος μου ἐν πυρὶ τῆς ὀργῆς μου: Zephaniah 1:18, Ἐν πυρὶ ζῆλου αὐτοῦ: and infra, Hebrews 12:29, "Our God is a consuming fire"). (For ἐσθίειν μέλλοντος τοὺς ὑπεναντίους, cf. Isaiah 26:11, Ζῆλος λήψεται  λαὸν ἀπαίδευτον καὶ νῦν πῦρ τοὺς ὑπεναντίους ἔδεται). Hebrews 10:26We sin willfully (ἑκουσίως ἁμαρτανόντων ἡμῶν)

Ἑκουσίως willfully, only here and 1 Peter 5:2. Comp. Plm 1:14, κατ' ἑκούσιον of free will. See lxx, Numbers 15:3. The willful sin is the abandonment of Christianity for Judaism.

The knowledge (ἐπίγνωσιν)

Only here in Hebrews. Very common in Paul. For the word, and the phrase knowledge of the truth, see on 1 Timothy 2:4. The truth is the revelation through Christ.

There remaineth no more sacrifice for sins (οὐκέτι περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν ἀπολείπεται θυσία)

Of course not. For the Levitical sacrifices are abolished. It is Christ's sacrifice or none.

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