Hebrews 10:28
He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
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(28) He that despised Moses’ law.—Rather, A man that hath set at nought a law of Moses dieth without pity before two or three witnesses. The reference is to Deuteronomy 17:2-7, the last words being a direct quotation from Hebrews 10:6 in that section. There the subject is apostasy from Jehovah to the worship of idols. That sin which, by the acknowledgment of all, had in ancient time robbed Israel of the name of God’s people is tacitly placed by the side of the sin of those who for sake Christ. It will be seen how impressively the thought of the last verse is maintained in this.

Hebrews 10:28-29. He that — In capital cases, such as by the sins of sabbath- breaking, disobedience to parents, blasphemy, adultery, murder; despised — Presumptuously transgressed; Moses’s law, died — Was put to death; without mercy — Without any delay or mitigation of his punishment, if convicted by two or three witnesses — See the margin. Of how much sorer punishment — Than that of the death of the body; shall he be thought worthy, who — By wilful, total apostacy; (to which only it appears that this passage refers;) hath, as it were, trodden underfoot the Son of God — A lawgiver far more honourable than Moses, and the true Messiah, the only Saviour of the world; him whom God hath exalted above principalities and powers, and whom therefore all mankind ought to exalt and adore in their souls; but who now, by this sort of persons, was esteemed an evil-doer, a seducer; one not in any sense sent of God, but a malefactor, justly condemned and executed for his crimes: herein they trod under foot the Son of God with all contempt and scorn. And hath counted the blood of the covenant — That is, the blood of Christ, whereby the new covenant was confirmed; wherewith he was sanctified — Dedicated to God, and taken into covenant with him, and even inwardly renewed in the spirit of his mind; an unholy Κοινον, a common thing, of no value or virtue; a worthless thing; not even of so much use to the glory of God as the blood of beasts in legal sacrifices. Observe, reader, those by whom the efficacy of Christ’s blood, for the expiation of sin, is denied, may be truly said to make it a common thing; and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace Ενυβρισας, having treated with contumely or reproach that Holy Spirit which the grace of God confers upon his people, and which is the author of saving grace to them. Macknight renders it, Hath insulted the Spirit of grace; observing, “the apostle means the Holy Spirit, whose gifts were bestowed in the first age on believers, for the confirmation of the gospel. Wherefore if one apostatized in the first age, after having been a witness to the miraculous gifts, much more, after having possessed them himself, he must, like the scribes and Pharisees, have ascribed them to evil spirits; than which a greater indignity could not be done to the Spirit of God.”

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.He that despised Moses' law - That is, the apostate from the religion of Moses. It does not mean that in all cases the offender against the Law of Moses died without mercy, but only where offences were punishable with death, and probably the apostle had in his eye particularly the case of apostasy from the Jewish religion. The subject of apostasy from the Christian religion is particularly under discussion here, and it was natural to illustrate this by a reference to a similar case under the Law of Moses. The Law in regard to apostates from the Jewish religion was positive. There was no reprieve; Deuteronomy 13:6-10.

Died without mercy - That is, there was no provision for pardon.

Under two or three witnesses - It was the settled law among the Hebrews that in all cases involving capital punishment, two or three witnesses should be necessary. That is, no one was to be executed unless two persons certainly bore testimony, and it was regarded as important, if possible, that three witnesses should concur in the statement. The object was the security of the accused person if innocent. The "principle" in the Law was, that it was to be presumed that two or three persons would be much less likely to conspire to render a false testimony than one would be, and that two or three would not be likely to be deceived in regard to a fact which they had observed.

28. Compare Heb 2:2, 3; 12:25.

despised—"set at naught" [Alford]: utterly and heinously violated, not merely some minor detail, but the whole law and covenant; for example, by idolatry (De 17:2-7). So here apostasy answers to such an utter violation of the old covenant.

died—Greek, "dies": the normal punishment of such transgression, then still in force.

without mercy—literally, "mercies": removal out of the pale of mitigation, or a respite of his doom.

under—on the evidence of.

The punishment threatened on such sinners is illustrated by an instance proper to the Hebrews; For if the lesser sin against Moses’s law was punished by death, the greater sin against the gospel of Christ shall be more punished.

He that despised Moses’s law; any person, whoever he were, none excepted, cantemning, rejecting, nullifying, or making to have noplace or force, (suitable to forsaking, before prohibited), the law of God, given by the mediation of Moses, so as to have no power on the conscience by apostacy from it, and to do it openly, proudly, and presumptuously, in the face of the church, Numbers 15:30,31.

Died without mercy under two or three witnesses; was to be sentenced to death without any compassion or mercy, and indispensably executed without any pity, by stoning of the offender by two or three witnessess, which did evidence the fact, and convict him of it, according to the law, as Deu 13:6-11 17:2-7.

He that despised Moses' law,.... By breaking it wilfully, and presumptuously, for which there was no sacrifice; meaning the law which Moses was the minister of not the author; and it respects the whole body of laws given by him, from God; and is instanced in for the sake of the comparison between him and Christ, and between the law and the Gospel, and for the illustration of the case in hand. Now one that transgressed that law, either in whole, or in part, by denying it entirely, or by breaking any particular precept of it presumptuously,

died without mercy; a corporeal death; there was no atonement nor sacrifice for him, nor pity to be shown him, Deuteronomy 13:8.

Under two or three witnesses; who "stood by", or were present, as the Arabic version renders it, when the transgression was committed; or that "accused him", as the Ethiopic version; that were witnesses against him, and plainly and fully proved the fact, Deuteronomy 17:6.

{9} He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

(9) If the breach of the law of Moses was punished by death, how much more worthy of death is it to fall away from Christ?

Hebrews 10:28-29. That in reality the consequences of an ἑκουσίως ἁμαρτάνειν μετὰ τὸ λαβεῖν τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν τῆς ἀληθείας are so terrible as was asserted at Hebrews 10:27, the author renders evident by a conclusion a minora ad majus. Apostasy from the Mosaic law itself is punishable with death; how much greater thus must be the punishment of him who, by apostasy from Christ, has treated with contumely the Son of God, of whose redeeming benefits he has already had experience! With the conclusion in Hebrews 10:28-29 we may compare, as regards the thoughts, Hebrews 2:2-3, Hebrews 12:25; as regards the form, however, the utterances just noticed differ from that before us, in the respect that there the first member of the comparison appears as a hypothetical premiss, here as an independent statement. ἀθετήσας τις νόμον Μωϋσέως κ.τ.λ.] He who has set at nought the Mosaic law, has in opposition to his better knowledge and conscience violated or broken it, dies, without any one compassionating him, upon the deposition of two or three witnesses. Although death was imposed as the punishment for many single transgressions of the Mosaic law (Exodus 21:15 ff; Exodus 31:14; Leviticus 17:14; Deuteronomy 22:22 ff., al.), yet the author certainly has reference, as is evident from the addition: ἐπὶ δυσὶν ἢ τρισὶν μάρτυσιν, and as is required also by the parallel relation to Hebrews 10:29, quite specially to the ordinance, Deuteronomy 17:2-7 [cf. also Numbers 15:30-31], in conformity with which the punishment of death was inflicted upon the man who, by idolatry, apostatized from Jehovah. Comp. l.c. Hebrews 10:6, LXX.: ἐπὶ δυσὶ μάρτυσιν ἢ ἐπὶ τρισὶ μάρτυσιν ἀποθανεῖται.

ἐπί] as Hebrews 9:17 : upon condition that two or three witnesses depose against him.

Hebrews 10:28. ἀθετήσας τις νόμον.… “Any one who has set aside Moses’ law dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses,” in accordance with the law laid down in Deuteronomy 17:6 regarding apostasy; although capital punishment was not restricted to this sin. For ἀθετεῖν cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:8; and Isaiah 24:16, οὐαὶ τοῖς ἀθετοῦσιν, οἱ ἀθετοῦντες τὸν νόμον, also Ezekiel 22:26. ἀθέτησις is used absolutely in 1 Samuel 24:12. ἐπὶμάρτυσιν, cf. Hebrews 9:17; ἀποθνήσκαι, perhaps the tense does not carry with it the inference that the law was still being enforced. It may only mean “he dies” according to the law as it stands. χωρὶς οἰκτιρμῶν, to emphasise the inexorablenesa of the law and the inevitable character of the doom. Cf. Josephus, c. Apion, ii. 30, ὁ νόμος ἀπαραίτητος and Ignatius, ad Eph. c. 16.

28. He that despised Moses’ law] Especially by being guilty of the sin of idolatry (Deuteronomy 17:2-7). Literally, it is “any one, on setting at nought Moses’ law.”

died] Lit., “dies.” Here is another of the favourite Jewish exegetical arguments a minori ad majus.

without mercy] The Mosaic law pronounced on offenders an inexorable doom. “The letter killeth” (2 Corinthians 3:6).

under two or three witnesses] i.e. by the testimony of at least two (John 8:17; 2 Corinthians 13:1).

Hebrews 10:28. Ἀθετήσας, he that despised) not by any slight error, but by an enormous violation, in opposition to the whole law—a delinquency to be punished with death. Few so violated the law, as to be capitally punished.—χωρὶς οἰκτιρμῶν, without mercy) without any mitigation or delay of the prescribed punishment.

Verse 28. - One that hath despised (rather, set at naught) Moses' Law dieth without mercy under (i.e. at the word of) two or three witnesses. The reference is to Deuteronomy 17:2-7, as shown by the mention of the "two or three witnesses" (ver. 6). The sin there spoken of is that of one who "hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD, in transgressing his covenant, and hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or the moon, or any of the host of heaven." The significance of this in its bearing on the meaning of ἁμαρτανόντων in ver. 26 has been already noted. Hebrews 10:28He that despised (ἀφετήσας τις)

Lit. one that despised; any transgressor. The verb only here in Hebrews. The kindred noun ἀθέτησις only in Hebrews. See Hebrews 7:18; Hebrews 9:26.

Died (ἀποθνήσκει)

Lit. dieth. According to the ordinance as it now stands in the law.

Without mercy (χωρὶς οἰκτιρμῶν)

The phrase N.T.o. For the noun see on 2 Corinthians 1:3.

Under two or three witnesses (ἐπὶ δυσὶν ἢ τρισὶν μάρτυσιν)

As in lxx, Deuteronomy 17:6. Ἐπὶ with dative signifying on condition of two or three witnesses testifying. Comp. 1 Timothy 5:17, where the same phrase occurs with the genitive, before, in the presence of. Comp. also Deuteronomy 19:15.

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