Hebrews 10:32
But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great fight of afflictions;
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(32) In the last six verses the writer has enforced his exhortation by an appeal to the danger of falling away and the fearful consequences of unfaithfulness. From warning he now turns to encouragement, as in Hebrews 6; and here, as there, he thankfully recalls the earlier proofs which his readers had given of their Christian constancy and love. Let them call to mind and ever keep in remembrance what the grace of God had already enabled them to endure. (Comp. 2John 1:8). As Theophylact has said, he bids them imitate, not others, but themselves.

Illuminated.—Better, enlightened. It is important to keep the word used in the parallel verse, Hebrews 6:4 (see Note).

Fight of afflictions.—Rather, conflict of sufferings; for the last word has in this Epistle (Hebrews 2:9-10) associations too sacred to be lost. The former word (akin to that used by St. Paul in 2Timothy 2:5 of the contests in the public games) recalls the intense struggles of the contending athletes; it occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Comp. Philippians 1:27; Philippians 4:3; (Philippians 1:30; Colossians 1:29; Colossians 2:1; 1Timothy 6:12; Hebrews 12:1.) This struggle they had manfully endured.

Hebrews 10:32-34. But — As if he had said, I trust you will be preserved from so terrible a ruin; and in order that you may, I exhort you to call to remembrance the former days — To look back upon past events, which, if duly considered, may be very instructive, and may prove the means of establishing you in your resolution of adhering to the gospel. In particular, reflect on what you have suffered, and how you have been supported and delivered, that you may not despond upon the approach of similar evils, but may still trust in God and persevere in his service; in which, after you were enlightened — With the knowledge of God and of his truth; ye endured — Courageously sustained, through God’s help; a great fight of afflictions — A grievous persecution from your unbelieving brethren, and great and various troubles and distresses, on account of your faith in, and profession of, the gospel; and therefore you should not fall off now at last, lest you lose the fruit of all these sufferings. There were various persecutions of the Christians in Judea, particularly the great persecution after the death of Stephen, Acts 8:1, and Herod’s persecution, Acts 12:1. But perhaps the apostle here refers to the persecution in Judea, mentioned 1 Thessalonians 2:14, in which the believing Hebrews showed great love to their suffering brethren, Hebrews 6:10. Their enduring this persecution with fortitude and patience, the apostle calls here πολλην αθλησιν, a great combat, in allusion to the combats in the Grecian games. Partly, &c. — Both in respect of your own sufferings and of your sympathy with others in theirs; while ye were made a gazing-stock Θεατριζομενοι, made a public spectacle, or openly exposed, as in a theatre. See on 1 Corinthians 4:9. By reproaches — Cast on you as atheists, or enemies to the true God, for deserting the institutions of Moses; and afflictions — Which befel you on that and other accounts; and partly while ye became companions of them that were so used — In pitying, owning, visiting, and relieving them who were treated in the same cruel manner. For ye had compassion on me — Ye sympathized with all your suffering brethren, and with me in particular; in my bonds — Both at Jerusalem and at Cesarea; and ye took joyfully — For the sake of him who died for you; the spoiling of your goods — The loss of your property; knowing in yourselves — Or, rather, knowing that you have for yourselves; in heaven — Laid up for you there; a better, than any which you lose, and an enduring substance — Even unspeakable and eternal riches, glory, and felicity, when all the possessions of earth have perished, and all its sorrows have come to a perpetual period.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.But call to remembrance the former days - It would seem from this, that at the time when the apostle wrote this Epistle they were suffering some severe trials, in which they were in great danger of apostatizing from their religion. It is also manifest that they had on some former occasion endured a similar trial, and had been enabled to bear it with a Christian spirit, and with resignation. The object of the apostle now is to remind them that they were sustained under those trials, and he would encourage them now to similar patience by the recollection of the grace then conferred on them. What was the nature of their former trials, or of what they were then experiencing, is not certainly known. It would seem probable, however, that the reference in both instances is to some form of persecution by their own countrymen. The meaning is, "that when we have been enabled to pass through trials once, we are to make the remembrance of the grace then bestowed on us a means of supporting and encouraging us in future trials."

After ye were illuminated - After you became Christians, or were enlightened to see the truth. This phrase, referring here undoubtedly to the fact that they were Christians, may serve to explain the disputed phrase in Hebrews 6:4; see notes on that passage.

A great fight of afflictions - The language here seems to be taken from the Grecian games. The word "fight" means properly contention, combat, such as occurred in the public games. Here the idea is, that in the trials referred to, they had a great struggle; that is, a struggle to maintain their faith without wavering, or against those who would have led them to apostatize from their religion. Some of the circumstances attending this conflict are alluded to in the following verses.

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 [2581]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.

But call to remembrance the former days: But is not so much adversative as copulative, adding another direction for their persevering in Christianity, even the revolving in their minds, and bringing again to thought, what was past, carrying in it both the act and the end of it. It is a practical remembrance which bettereth them, while recollecting their own days, and the time that was past.

In which, after ye were illuminated; in which they were convinced of the truth of the gospel, and received it in the love of it, and externally professed it, by being baptized into Christ, and by it made members of his church, Hebrews 6:4, and testified the truth of their being Christ’s.

Ye endured a great fight of afflictions; by their sufferings for him with patience and divine fortitude, willingly, cheerfully, valiantly: Ye have borne, and overcome by bearing, preserving your integrity, so as your faith was immovable, and strengthened you to endure the many and most violent assaults of the devil and his instruments, both within and without the church; who thought to force them from the faith, by the many evils which they inflicted. If they were patient in the enduring these at the first, how much more now, after so long a continuance in it Romans 8:18 2 Corinthians 1:6-8 2 Timothy 1:8 1 Peter 5:9. 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.

{11} But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;

(11) As he terrified the fallers away from God, so does he now comfort them that are constant and stand firm, setting before them the success of their former fights, so stirring them up to a sure hope of a full and ready victory.

Hebrews 10:32. Φωτισθέντες] after ye were illumined, i.e. after ye had recognised Christ as the Saviour of men, and ranked yourselves among His confessors. Comp. Hebrews 6:4.

ἄθλησιν] a word of the later Greek style, in the N. T., however, a ἅπαξ λεγόμενον, combines with παθημάτων into a single idea: contest of sufferings. Chrysostom: οὐχ ἁπλῶς εἶπεν ἄθλησιν ὑπεμείνατε, ἀλλὰ μετὰ προσθήκης τοῦ πολλήν. Καὶ οὐκ εἶπε πειρασμούς, ἀλλὰ ἄθλησιν, ὅπερ ἐστὶν ἐγκωμίου ὄνομα καὶ ἐπαίνων μεγίστων.

ὑπομένειν] to sustain, here with the subsidiary notion of stedfastness and unweariedness.

Hebrews 10:32-39. There follows after the warning an arousing. Mindful of the Christian manliness which the readers had displayed in former days, they are not to lose Christian joyfulness, but rather with patience to persevere in the Christian life; for only quite a short time will now elapse before the return of Christ and the coming in of the promised fulness of blessing. Comp. Hebrews 6:9 ff.

Theodoret: Ἐπειδὴ δὲ ταῦτα ἱκανὰ ἦν αὐτοὺς ἀνιᾶσαι, ὀλιγωρίαν αἰνιττόμενα καὶ τῶν θείων ἀμέλειαν, κεράννυσι τῶν εἰρημένων τὸ αὐστηρὸν τῇ μνήνῃ τῶν ἤδη κατορθωμένων. Οὐδὲν γὰρ οὕτως εἰς προθυμίαν διεγείρει, ὡς τῶν οἰκείων κατορθωμάτων μνήμη.

Of the facts themselves, of which mention is made Hebrews 10:32-34, nothing further is known from other sources. That the author, as Bleek, II. 2, p. 707, thinks possible, had before his mind “the whole first period of the Christian church at Jerusalem, in which the church still held firmly together, and particularly the persecutions which preceded and followed the martyrdom of Stephen,” is hardly to be supposed. For only in a very indirect way could praise be bestowed upon the recipients of the Epistle to the Hebrews for their behaviour under these afflictions, seeing they formed a second generation of the Palestinian Christians, who, according to Hebrews 12:4, had as yet been spared persecutions having a bloody termination.Hebrews 10:32. As in the parallel passage in chap. 6, the writer at Hebrews 10:9 suddenly turns from the presentation of the terrifying aspect of apostasy to make appeal to more generous motives, so here he now encourages them to perseverance by reminding them of their praiseworthy past. As Vaughan remarks, the thought is that of Galatians 3:3. ἀναμιμνήσκεσθε δὲ τὰς πρότερον ἡμέρας.… “But recall the former days, in which after being enlightened ye endured much wrestling with sufferings”. ἀναμιμ, “remind yourselves,” as in 2 Corinthians 7:15. See Wetstein’s examples, where the genitive not the accusative follows the verb, and M. Aurelius, Hebrews 10:31. τὰς πρότερον ἡμ. [as in Thucyd., vi. 9 ἐν τῷ πρότερον χρόνῳ.] days separated from the present by some considerable interval, as is implied in Hebrews 5:12. They are further described as ἐν αἷς φωτισθέντες as in Hebrews 6:4; equivalent to “receiving the knowledge of the truth,” Hebrews 10:26. It was the new light in Christ, shed upon their relation to God and on their prospects, which enabled them to endure much wrestling or conflict with sufferings. ἄθλησις in the next generation came to mean “martyrdom,” as in Mart. of S. Ignatius, chap. 4. [For the genitive cf. “certamina divitiarum,” Hor. Epp., i. 5 8.] What these sufferings were is described in two clauses, they were partly in their own persons, partly in their sympathy and voluntary sharing in the suffering of others, τοῦτο μὲνθεατριζόμενοι, τοῦτο δὲ κοινωνοὶ … For the distributive formula, “partly,” … “partly,” see abundant examples from the classics in Wetstein. See also Plutarch’s Them., Hebrews 10:4. It may be rendered “as well by,” “as by”. θεατριζόμενοι, “made a spectacle,” [ὥσπερ ἐπὶ θεάτρου παραδειγματιζόμενοι, Theophyl., cf. 1 Corinthians 4:9], literally true of the Christians who were expose to wild beasts in the amphitheatre. See Renan’s L’Antéchrist, pp. 162 ff., “A la barbarie des supplices on ajouta la dérision”. But here it was not by lions and leopards and wild bulls they were attacked, but ὀνειδισμοῖς τε καὶ θλίψεσιν, “reproaches and distresses,” “opprobriis et tribulationibus” (Vulg.). ὀνειδισμός is frequent in LXX, and several times in the phrase λόγοι ὀνειδ. In this Epistle it occurs again in Hebrews 11:26 and Hebrews 13:13, and cf. 1 Peter 4:14. Some who have not directly suffered persecution in these forms suffered by sympathy and by identifying themselves with those who were experiencing such usage, τῶν οὕτως ἀναστρεφομένων. Cf. Php 4:14. Farrar renders well, “who lived in this condition of things”. In what sense they became κοινωνοί is immediately explained; they sympathised with those who were imprisoned and welcomed the violent seizure of their possessions. καὶ γὰρ, as always, must here be rendered “For indeed,” “for in point of fact,” proving by more definite instances that they had become partakers with the persecuted. They had felt for the imprisoned, as was possibly alluded to in Hebrews 6:10, and as they are in Hebrews 13:3 exhorted still to do. Cf. Matthew 25:36, which probably formed a large factor in the production of that care for the persecuted which characterised the early Church. They had also suffered the loss of their goods. ἁρπαγὴν, the violent and unjust seizure, as in Matthew 23:25, Luke 11:39. ἁρπαγὴ ὑπαρχόντων occurs in Lucian and Artemidorus. See Stephanus. That which enables them to take joyfully the loss of their possessions is their consciousness that they have a possession which is better and which cannot be taken away. γινώσκοντες ἔχειν ἑαυτοὺς [for ὑμᾶς αὐτοὺς]. If the true reading is ἑαυτοῖς then the meaning is easy “knowing that you have for yourselves”. If we read ἑαυτοὺς, this may mean, as Davidson, Westcott and others suppose, “knowing that you have yourselves a better possession”. But this seems not very congruous with the writer’s usual style. It is more likely that the writer uses the emphatic “you yourselves” in contrast to those who had robbed them and now possessed their goods. So von Soden. Or it may mean “ye yourselves” in contrast to the possession itself of which they have been deprived, ye yourselves however stripped of all earthly goods.32–39. Words of appeal and encouragement

32. But call to remembrance the former days] Rather, “keep in remembrance.” Here, as in Hebrews 6:9-12, he mingles appeal and encouragement with the sternest warnings. The “former days” are those in which they were in the first glow of their conversion.

after ye were illuminated] The word photizein “to enlighten” only became a synonym for ‘to baptise’ at a later period. Naturally however in the early converts baptism was synchronous with the reception of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (see Hebrews 6:4). For the metaphor—that “God hath shined in our hearts”—see 2 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Peter 2:9.

ye endured a great fight of afflictions] Rather, “much wrestling of sufferings.” These were doubtless due to the uncompromising hostility of the Jewish community (see 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16), which generally led to persecutions from the Gentiles also. To the early Christians it was given “not only to believe on Christ, but also to suffer for His sake” (Php 1:29).Hebrews 10:32. Ἀναμιμνήσκεσθε, remember) The Imperative. He subjoins consolation.—φωτισθέντες, being enlightened) i.e. immediately after φωτισμὸν, i.e. Christian baptism, ch. Hebrews 6:4. In baptism, Christ is put on: Christ is the light; therefore the light is put on in baptism. Enlightening denotes that further accession to the force and power of the Spirit, pre-existing for us from the Old Testament, which is gained from the vigour of the New, in the case of those who were baptized. This was the first entrance into Christianity: baptism was the means of salvation in the case of those who were properly fitted for it. I am of opinion, that these divine ordinances, even in theory, are not so highly esteemed as they ought to be. In the very baptism of Christ, His holy human nature was magnificently enlightened. He was previously the Son of God; and yet the power of the Divine testimony to His Sonship, at His baptism, long affected Him in a lively manner. But, as man consists of body and soul, so divine ordinances have this double relation. We must, therefore, make no separation [between the ordinances and the grace], nor [on the other hand] is the glass to be taken for the liquor which it contains, nor should the sheath be grasped instead of the sword.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). After ye were illuminated (φωτισθέντες)

See on Hebrews 6:4.

A great fight (πολλὴν ἄθλησιν)

Ἄθλησις N.T.o, olxx. See on ἀλθῆ strive, 2 Timothy 2:5. See Introduction, on the allusions in the epistle to persecution.

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