But we are not of them who draw back to perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Of them who draw back.—Literally, But we are not of drawing (or shrinking) back unto perdition, but of faith unto the gaining of the soul. On the last words (which are nearly identical with those of Luke 17:33, though deeper in meaning) see the Note on Hebrews 10:34. The exhortation thus closes with words of encouragement and hope.Hebrews 6:4-10.
(1) It is a subject of rejoicing that we are brought under a more perfect system than the ancient people of God were. We have not merely a rude outline - a dim and shadowy sketch of religion, as they had. We are not now required to go before a bloody altar every day, and lead up a victim to be slain. We may come to the altar of God feeling that the great sacrifice has been made, and that the last drop of blood to make atonement has been shed. A pure, glorious, holy body was prepared for the Great Victim, and in that body he did the will of God and died for our sins; Hebrews 10:1-10.
(2) like that Great Redeemer, let us do the will of God. It may lead us through sufferings, and we may he called to meet trials strongly resembling his. But the will of God is to be done alike in bearing trials, and in prayer and praise. "Obedience" is the great thing which he demands; which he has always sought. When his ancient people led up in faith, a lamb to the altar, still he preferred obedience to sacrifice; and when his Son came into the world to teach us how to live, and how to die, still the great thing was obedience. He came to illustrate the nature of perfect conformity to the will of God, and he did that by a most holy life, and by the most patient submission to all the trials appointed him in his purpose to make atonement for the sins of the world. Our model, alike in holy living and holy dying, is to be the Saviour; and like him we are required to exercise simple submission to the will of God; Hebrews 10:1-10.
(3) the Redeemer looks calmly forward to the time when all his foes will be brought in submission to his feet; Hebrews 10:12, Hebrews 10:13. He is at the right hand of God. His great work on earth is done. He is to suffer no more. He is exalted beyond the possibility of pain and sorrow, and he is seated now on high looking to the period when all his foes shall be subdued and he will be acknowledged as universal Lord.
(4) the Christian has exalted advantages. He has access to the mercy-seat of God. He may enter by faith into the "Holiest" - the very heavens where God dwells. Christ, his great High Priest, has entered there; has sprinkled over the mercy-seat with his blood, and ever lives there to plead his cause. There is no privilege granted to people like that of a near and constant access to the mercy-seat. This is the privilege not of a few; and not to be enjoyed but once in a year, or at distant intervals, but which the most humble Christian possesses, and which may be enjoyed at all times, and in all places. There is not a Christian so obscure, so poor, so ignorant that he may not come and speak to God; and there is not a situation of poverty, want, or wo, where he may not make his wants known with the assurance that his prayers will be heard through faith in the great Redeemer; Hebrews 10:19-20.
(5) when we come before God, let our hearts be pure; Hebrews 10:22. The body has been washed with pure water in baptism, emblematic of the purifying influences of the Holy Spirit. Let the conscience be also pure. Let us lay aside every unholy thought. Our worship will not be acceptable; our prayers will not be heard, if it is not so. "If we regard iniquity in our hearts the Lord will not hear us." No matter though there be a great High Priest; no matter though he have offered a perfect sacrifice for sin, and no matter though the throne of God be accessible to people, yet if there is in the heart the love of sin; if the conscience is not pure, our prayers will not be heard. Is this not one great reason why our worship is so barren and unprofitable?
(6) it is the duty of Christians to exhort one another to mutual fidelity; Hebrews 10:24. We should so far regard the interests of each other, as to strive to promote our mutual advance in piety. The church is one. All true Christians are brethren. Each one has an interest in the spiritual welfare of every one who loves the Lord Jesus, and should strive to increase his spiritual joy and usefulness. A Christian brother often goes astray and needs kind admonition to reclaim him; or he becomes disheartened and needs encouragement to cheer him or his Christian way.
(7) Christians should not neglect to assemble together for the worship of God; Hebrews 10:25. It is a duty which they owe to God to acknowledge him publicly, and their own growth in piety is essentially connected with public worship. It is impossible for a man to secure the advancement of religion in his soul who habitually neglects public worship, and religion will not flourish in any community where this duty is not performed. There are great benefits growing out of the worship of God, which can be secured in no other way. God has made us social beings, and he intends that the social principle shall be called into exercise in religion, as well as in other things. We have common wants, and it is proper to present them together before the mercy-seat. We have received common blessings in our creation, in the providence of God, and in redemption, and it is proper that we should assemble together and render united praise to our Maker for his goodness.
Besides, in any community, the public worship of God does more to promote intelligence, order, peace, harmony, friendship, neatness of apparel, and purity and propriety of contact between neighbors, than anything else can, and for which nothing else can be a compensation. Every Christian, and every other man, therefore, is bound to lend his influence in thus keeping up the worship of God, and should always be in his place in the sanctuary. The particular thing in the exhortation of the apostle is, that this should be done "even in the face of persecution." The early Christians felt so much the importance of this, that we are told they were accustomed to assemble at night. Forbidden to meet in public houses of worship, they met in caves, and even when threatened with death they continued to maintain the worship of God. It may be added, that so important is this, that it should be preserved even when the preaching of the gospel is not enjoyed. Let Christians assemble together. Let them pray and offer praise. Let them read the Word of God, and an appropriate sermon. Even this will exert an influence on them and on the community of incalculable importance, and will serve to keep the flame of piety burning on the altar of their own hearts, and in the community around them.
(8) we may see the danger of indulging in any sin; Hebrews 10:26-27. None can tell to what it may lead. No matter how small and unimportant it may appear at the time, yet if indulged in it will prove that there is no true religion, and will lead on to those greater offences which make shipwreck of the Christian name, and ruin the soul. He that "wilfully" and deliberately sins "after he professes to have received the knowledge of the truth," shows that his religion is but a name, and that he has never known any thing of its power.
(9) we should guard with sacred vigilance against everything which might lead to apostasy; Hebrews 10:26-29. If a sincere Christian "should" apostatize from God, he could never be renewed and saved. There would remain no more sacrifice for sins; there is no other Saviour to be provided; there is no other Holy Spirit to be sent down to recover the apostate. Since, therefore; so fearful a punishment would follow apostasy from the true religion, we may see the guilt of everything which has a "tendency" to it. That guilt is to be measured by the fearful consequences which would ensue if it were followed out; and the Christian should, therefore, tremble when he is on the verge of committing any sin whose legitimate tendency would be such a result.
(10) we may learn from the views presented in this chapter Hebrews 10:26, Hebrews 10:29, the error of those who suppose that a true Christian may fall away and be renewed again and saved. If there is any principle clearly settled in the New Testament, it is, that if a sincere Christian should apostatize, "he must perish." There would be no possibility of renewing him. He would have tried the only religion which saves people, and it would in his case have failed; he would have applied to the only blood which purifies the soul, and it would have been found inefficacious; he would have been brought under the only influence which renews the soul, and that would not have been sufficient to save him. What hope could there be? What would then save him if these would not? To what would he apply to what Saviour, to what blood of atonement, to what renewing and sanctifying agent, if the gospel, and the Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit had all been tried in vain? There are few errors in the community more directly at variance with the express teachings of the Bible than the belief that a Christian may fall away and he again renewed.
(11) Christians, in their conflicts, their trials, and their temptations, should be strengthened by what is past; Hebrews 10:32-35. They should remember the days when they were afflicted and God sustained them, when they were persecuted and he brought them relief. It is proper also to remember for their own encouragement; now, the spirit of patience and submission which they were enabled to manifest in those times of trial, and the sacrifices which they were enabled to make. They may find in such things evidence that they are the children of God; and they should find in their past experience proof that he who has borne them through past trials, is able to keep them unto his everlasting kingdom.
saving of the soul—literally, "acquisition (or obtaining) of the soul." The kindred Greek verb is applied to Christ's acquiring the Church as the purchase of His blood (Ac 20:28). If we acquire or obtain our soul's salvation, it is through Him who has obtained it for us by His bloodshedding. "The unbelieving man loses his soul: for not being God's, neither is he his own [compare Mt 16:26, with Lu 9:25]: faith saves the soul by linking it to God" [Delitzsch in Alford].Hebrews 6:9.
But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; the adversative, but, is an exception of them to whom he writes from the apostate state, and so joins himself with them, hoping they were such de facto as he was, and as they ought to be de jure; and so intimates their duty, and that of all Christians: We are not sons of defection, persons withdrawing and backsliding from Christ, his gospel, or duties; apostates from the truth, whose end is destruction, an utter separation from all good, life, and glory, and full subjection of body and soul to eternal torments in hell, by the righteous sentence of God, Matthew 10:28: who are sons of defection, are sons of perdition, John 17:12 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
But of them that believe to the saving of the soul; sons of faith, true and sincere believers, cleaving to Christ and his body, rooted in his faith, and persevering in it to the end, Ephesians 3:17 Colossians 2:7: which faith acquiring, purchasing, or obtaining, according to the gospel covenant, the soul for salvation, and glory for the soul, John 3:15,16,36 5:40 2 Thessalonians 2:14. Faith realizing, applying, and keeping fast the price which Christ himself paid to God for the purchasing of these for them on their souls.
But of them that believe to the saving of the soul; or "of faith, to the salvation of the soul"; not of faith of miracles, nor of an historical faith; but of that faith, which is the faith of God's elect, is the gift of God, and the operation of his Spirit; by which a soul sees Christ, goes to him, lays holds on him, commits all to him, and expects all from him: this stands opposed to drawing back; for by faith a man lives, walks, and stands; and with this is connected the salvation of the soul, as opposed to perdition; not as though it is a cause of salvation, but as a means of God's appointing to receive the blessings of salvation, and which is entirely consistent with the grace of God; and since salvation and faith are inseparably connected together, so that he that has the one shall have the other, it follows, that true believers can never perish. The nature and excellency of this grace is largely treated of in the following chapter.But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Hebrews 10:39. The author expresses his confidence that the readers and himself belong not to the class of men who, because they draw back from Christianity out of cowardly misgiving, fall a prey to destruction, but rather to the class of those who do not grow weary in the Christian faith, and therefore attain to life. This expression of confidence is in its essence an admonition, and indeed a more urgent one than though the direct form of exhortation had been chosen.
To ἐσμέν Grotius, Wolf, Carpzov, Heinrichs, and many others erroneously supplement τέκνα or υἱοί. For εἶναι, with the mere genitive, is a well-known genuinely Greek manner of expressing a relation of pertaining to a thing. See Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 165; Kühner, II. p. 167.
εἰς ἀπώλειαν … εἰς περιποίησιν ζωῆς] Corroborative allusion to the result of the two opposite lines of action.
ἀπώλεια is everlasting perdition, and περιποίησις ψυχῆς (comp. 1 Thessalonians 5:9 : εἰς περιποίησιν σωτηρίας) gaining of the soul, i.e. everlasting life and everlasting blessedness. Wrongly Ebrard: of the bodily deliverance from the judgment impending over Jerusalem, is the discourse to be understood.
Ψυχῆς, moreover, belongs simply to περιποίησιν, not already, as Böhme and Hofmann will have it, to ἀπώλειαν, since only περιποί., not also ἀπώλ., stood in need of an addition.39. But we are not of them who draw back] More tersely in the original, “But we are not of defection unto perdition, but of faith unto gaining of the soul.” “Faith,” says Delitzsch, “saves the soul by linking it to God … The unbelieving man loses his soul; for not being God’s neither is he his own.” He does not possess himself. The word for “gaining” is found also in Ephesians 1:14. In these words the writer shews that in his awful warnings against apostasy he is only putting a hypothetical case. “His readers,” he says, “though some of them may have gone towards the verge, have not yet passed over the fatal line.” The word Faith is here introduced with the writer’s usual skill to prepare for the next great section of the Epistle.Hebrews 10:39. Οὐκ ἐσμὲν, we are not) A polite expression, according to the style of Paul, Romans 8:12, note.—ὑποστολῆς) corresponds to ὑποστείληται, Hebrews 10:38.—εἰς ἀπώλειαν, unto destruction) They perish, who do not approve their souls unto GOD.—εἰς περιποίησιν ψυχῆς, unto the saving of the soul) It corresponds to, shall live, Hebrews 10:38.
—————Verse 39. - But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe unto the saving of the soul; literally, not of the drawing back unto... but of faith unto, etc. Thus, once more before proceeding to the subject now before him, the writer is careful to disclaim any real expectation of defection in his readers, and with delicacy he includes himself with them by his use of the nominative plural.
Lit. we are not of shrinking back. Ὑποστολὴ N.T.o, olxx, oClass. Ἒιναι with genitive marks the quality or peculiarity of a person or thing. Comp. Hebrews 12:11 χαρᾶς εἶναι to be of joy, joyful. We do not partake of drawing back, which is characteristic of recreants.
Unto perdition (εἰς ἀπώλειαν)
Or destruction. Drawing back makes for and terminates in (εἰς) destruction.
Of them that believe (πίστεως)
Rend. of faith. The phrase εἶναι πίστεως to be of faith, N.T.o.
See on 1 Thessalonians 5:9.
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