Hebrews 10:32-39 – The Just Shall Live by Faith

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Study Type - Adult Lesson

Fellowship - Acorns to Oaks

Series - Hebrews 2018-19

Book - Hebrews

Habakkuk 2:3-4, Hebrews 10:32-39, just shall live by faith

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Last time, recall that we continued our examination of the Hebrews writer’s exhortation to believers concerning how we should live now that we have been justified by faith in Jesus’ Gospel alone apart from our own works, and are being sanctified by His Spirit until the day we are fully perfected when He calls us to Him, or returns to gather the elect.

Hebrews 10:32-39 – The Just Shall Live by Faith

The writer now concludes that exhortation, as he prepares us for his exposition of the history of faith in the Hebrew nation – the so-called Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11.

32But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: 33partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; 34for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. 35Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:

37“For yet a little while,
And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
38Now the just shall live by faith;[Habakkuk 2:3-4]

But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.”

39But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.

Hebrews 10:32-39 – NKJV

Before we take up this passage, it might be helpful to note that it begins with “But…”  It is unfortunate that time constraints prevented us from continuing our previous study to take up this passage beginning with Hebrews 10:32, because it is a logical continuation of the exhortation that began with Hebrews 10:19. Recall from our previous studies that the writer began this exhortation by encouraging believers to stand fast in our faith, and then warned those who fall away from the faith of the fearful judgment which all people will one day face. Finally, in Hebrews 10:30-31, he reminded us that we shouldn’t feel sorry for ourselves nor try to avenge ourselves on those who persecute us, because we know that our God is a righteous judge who will repay His enemies in His good time. The writer now continues by contrasting those who remain steadfast in faith with those who allow suffering to turn them aside.

32But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: 33partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated;

Hebrews 10:32-33

One of the compelling characteristics of God’s Word that testifies of its divine authority is that it doesn’t gloss over unpleasantness. Most of the people we read of in the Bible are deeply flawed. In fact the overarching theme of God’s Word is the rebellion of mankind against God – particularly God’s chosen people, Israel – and God’s plan to redeem us from our rebellion by taking our rightful punishment upon Himself at the cross. If the Bible were merely a collection of books by human authors, we would expect the people who wrote them to cast themselves in a more favorable light. For example, we wouldn’t expect Moses to have given us the story of his disobedience and unbelief at Meribah (Numbers 20) for which God punished him by not allowing him to enter the land of promise. We would expect that the authors of the history books would have kept quiet the story of the beloved King David’s adultery, and the subsequent cowardly murder by proxy of his lover’s husband (2 Samuel 11). Nor would we expect to find David himself confessing these gross sins for all to read as he does in Psalm 51. We would not expect the apostle Paul who gave us a quarter of the New Testament, to refer to himself as the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).

Likewise, if the New Testament were just a fairy tale invented by men to promote a new religion, we would expect it to paint a very different picture of the Christian life than it does. We would expect it to be more like the utterances of modern prosperity gospel authors and preachers, promising “your best life now” to all who would believe and obey (and most importantly donate money). Indeed, Jesus does say (John 10:10), that He has come that His sheep “…may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” But, we also find the promise of Jesus that those who would choose to follow Him would be called to endure suffering. Speaking to His disciples as He was preparing to send them out as His witnesses, He told them…

16“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 17But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. 18You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. 21“Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. 23When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
24A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!

Matthew 10:16-25 – NKJV

At the Passover meal on the night of His betrayal, Jesus once more reminded His disciples of the coming persecution, and then made the magnificent promise of the coming of His Spirit to carry them through the suffering they would face.

1“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. 2They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. 3And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. 4But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. “And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.
5“But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
12I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

John 16:1-15 – NKJV

Almost as soon as the Spirit of God descended onto the disciples on the day of Pentecost a few days after Jesus ascended to His Father (Acts 2), the persecution of the newborn church began. The apostles who were healing people in Jesus Name, and proclaiming His Gospel in the courts of the temple were imprisoned and beaten as punishment for violating the directive of the high priest and the Jewish leadership council – the Sanhedrin – not to heal and preach in the Name of Jesus (Acts 4-6). Shortly thereafter, Stephen, became the first Christian martyr when he was falsely accused of blasphemy, and stoned to death (Acts 7). The Hebrew congregation(s) to whom Hebrews was written had most certainly been among those who suffered these persecutions as the writer reminds them here in Hebrews 10:32-33.

34for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.

Hebrews 10:34 – NKJV

Those who stoned Stephen placed their outer garments in the charge of a young pharisee, who may not have actually cast any of the stones that killed Stephen, but was witness to the stoning and at least tacitly assented to it (Acts 7:58). This young pharisee – Saul of Tarsus – became one of the chief perpetrators of harassment and persecution of the early church until he himself had a life-changing encounter with the risen LORD Jesus as he was journeying to Damascus with arrest warrants for church members there (Acts 9). This is significant, of course, because following his conversion, Saul of Tarsus became Paul the Apostle, who spent the remainder of his life as a missionary throughout the Mediterranean basin, and was the author of more than a quarter of the New Testament scriptures. Indeed, Paul was also the likely author of this letter to the Hebrews that we are studying, so when he writes here in Hebrews 10:32-34 of sharing in the persecution of the Hebrew congregations to whom the letter was written, he does so as one who has shared in that suffering both as a victim and a perpetrator. In Hebrews 10:34 we find a compelling argument for Paul being the writer of Hebrews when he refers to himself, “in my chains.”  We find the phrase “my chains” nineteen times in the New Testament – all of them in the Pauline epistles except this one in Hebrews. Indeed, Paul had suffered greatly for his Gospel testimony as he wrote in his second letter to the church in Corinth.

24From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 28besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.

2 Corinthians 11:24-28 – NKJV

As he points out in Hebrews 10:34, the Jewish congregations to whom the letter is written had suffered not only imprisonment, and torture for their Gospel testimonies, but had been deprived of their livelihoods and their material possessions. Indeed, one of the missions that Paul undertook on his journeys was the gathering of offerings from the churches around the northern Mediterranean region in support of the Messianic congregations in Jerusalem that had been made destitute by their own Jewish brethren. Paul wrote of this in his first letter to the church at Corinth.

1Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 2On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. 3And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. 4But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me.

1 Corinthians 16:1-4 – NKJV

Indeed Paul did return to Jerusalem with this gift, and there he was arrested under false charges of blasphemy and insurrection, and held until he exercised his right as a Roman citizen to appeal his case to Caesar (Acts 20-25). Like Paul, every one of Jesus’ inner circle of twelve disciples suffered greatly for their Gospel testimonies except for Judas Iscariot who betrayed Him into the hands of those who crucified Him, and then took his own life.

Aside – The excerpt from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs that was handed out at our Acorns-to-Oaks gathering, and is also published on the web at https://huppbrian.us//notes/extras/martyrdom-of-the-apostles/ details the persecution and deaths of these disciples and a few other early Christian martyrs. Note that apart from the stories of the martyrdom of Stephen taken from Acts 7, and of James from Acts 12, the sources for the accounts given in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs are non-scriptural. Although, we know from Acts of Paul’s imprisonment, we have no Biblical record of his death. Indeed, the fact that Acts doesn’t record the martyrdom of Paul or the other disciples gives us a strong indication that Acts and the gospel of Luke were written no later than around the mid-60s AD.

For me personally, one of the compelling arguments for the truth of the Gospel is the fact that so many – beginning with Stephen and the apostles themselves – have been willing to die for their Gospel testimonies rather than renouncing them. When Peter and John were arrested in Acts 5 for violating the command of the Jewish leadership that they refrain from preaching the Gospel and from healing in Jesus’ Name, the great Jewish teacher Gamaliel, at whose feet Paul himself had been trained as a Pharisee, wisely counseled the Sanhedrin not to pursue their charges against Peter and John, saying…

38And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; 39but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God.”

Acts 5:38-39 – NKJV

The prophet Zechariah wrote of the killing of the Messiah, and the subsequent persecution of His followers.

“Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd,
Against the Man who is My Companion,”
Says the LORD of hosts.
“Strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep will be scattered;
Then I will turn My hand against the little ones.

Zechariah 13:7 – NKJV

Jesus quoted this prophecy in His admonishment to His disciples as they were approaching the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal.

31Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written:

I will strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

32But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”

Matthew 26:31-32 – NKJV

Indeed, all of the disciples did scatter after Jesus had been led away to trial and ultimately His crucifixion the following day. Only John was present at the cross, although perhaps some of the others were watching from a distance. Peter famously denied three times that night that he even knew Jesus just as Jesus had foretold. All of these men were paralyzed with fear as Jesus lay in the grave. Yet after His resurrection, they were emboldened, and spent the remainder of their lives in steadfast adherence to their Gospel testimonies just as Zechariah had gone on to predict in his prophecy.

8And it shall come to pass in all the land,”
Says the LORD,
That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die,
one-third shall be left in it:
9I will bring the one-third through the fire,
Will refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them.
I will say, ‘This 
is My people’;
And each one will say, ‘The LORD 
is my God.'”

Zechariah 13:8-9 – NKJV

If the Gospel of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension weren’t true, why would these men who had proven themselves cowards on the night of his betrayal, have courageously proclaimed the Gospel message throughout the remainder of their lives following Jesus’ ascension? Why were all of them willing to go to their deaths for proclaiming this testimony? The Gospel couldn’t have been an invention of men or it would have faded out long ago just as Gamaliel predicted. Of course, the fact that the Gospel continues to be boldly proclaimed even today in the face of horrendous persecution isn’t absolute proof that it is indeed a work of God just as Gamaliel said, but the fact that it has not been abandoned by believers in the face of persecution is certainly strong testimony of its trustworthiness.

35Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.

Hebrews 10:35 – NKJV

This seems to be a fairly odd thing to say, having reminded the readers that they had suffered many things since becoming Christ followers, the writer now says that “Therefore” they (we) should continue in the life of faith that brought about the suffering. In order to understand what the writer means by this, we need to examine other passages concerning suffering for our Gospel testimonies – particularly what Jesus Himself said about it. We have already seen that Jesus foretold that His followers would suffer persecution. The question then becomes, how should the faithful Christ follower respond to persecution, knowing that persecution for the sake of our faith is certain to come? Jesus proclaimed that suffering for His Name’s sake is actually a blessing.

10Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:10-12 – NKJV

Having listened to this teaching, Peter also made a similar comment in his first epistle.

12Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
17For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?

1 Peter 4:12-17 – NKJV

James also exhorted us to take joy in our suffering for the sake of our testimony of Jesus’ Gospel.

2My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

James 1:2-4 – NKJV

As Paul points out in his letter to the Roman church, the manner in which we handle suffering for Christ’s sake is not only for our benefit in terms of our Heavenly rewards, but also a powerful testimony to those around us – both believers and non-believers.

16The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.19For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.

Romans 8:16-19 – NKJV

But these men didn’t just talk about being joyful in the face of suffering. They lived out their faith joyfully even in the midst of persecution. After having been arrested and scourged for their Gospel testimony and for healing in the Name of Jesus, Peter and John were released by the Sanhedrin on the advice of Gamaliel which we looked at earlier.

40And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

Acts 5:40-42 – NKJV

Paul and Silas were beaten and imprisoned at Philippi after having cast out a spirit of divination from a slave girl. Their example of joy and faith in the face of suffering proved such a powerful testimony to their fellow prisoners and to the keeper of the prison that the jailer and his entire household became Christ followers themselves.

23And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. 24Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. 27And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. 28But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”
29Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.

Acts 16:23-34 – NKJV

Aside – Acts 16:31 is one of the most frequently abused scriptures in all of God’s Word. Taken in its proper context, we see that this verse is clearly a promise given at a specific time to a specific man – the jailer at Philippi – and to his family. Yet over the years, it has been preached as a general promise to all new believers that their own unsaved families will be saved. Shame on those who would promulgate such a patently false and hurtful perversion of God’s holy Word.

36For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:

37“For yet a little while,
And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
38Now the just shall live by faith;
[Habakkuk 2:3-4]
But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.”

Hebrews 10:36-38 – NKJV

The Hebrews writer now comes to the crux of his exhortation to believers. Jesus calls upon us to not only believe in His Gospel, by which we are fully justified in the hour we first believe, but to persevere in our faith as He sanctifies us by the power of His Spirit dwelling within our hearts. Why does Jesus place this call upon us? – So that by our testimonies, and the example of our enduring faithfulness, we might bear fruit for His Kingdom by helping others to hear His call to them for salvation in His Name.

4Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

John 15:4-5 – NKJV

Abiding in Christ as He commands us requires endurance. Jesus spoke of the need for endurance in His well-known response when His disciples asked Him what would be the signs of the end of the age.

4And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

Matthew 24:4-14 – NKJV

As the Hebrews writer points out here in Hebrews 10:36-38, believers, find the endurance we need by faith in the power of God’s Spirit dwelling within us and leading us in the way of His will so that we may obtain the promise from Habakkuk. The context of this prophecy is God’s answer to the prophet’s cry to God against the wickedness of his own people. Habakkuk was quite taken aback when God responded that He was about to raise up the Chaldeans (Babylonians) – an even more corrupt nation in Habakkuk’s eyes – as His tools to chastise Israel for their idolatry. Habakkuk was repelled by this revelation, but nevertheless proclaimed that he would watch and wait. This was the LORD’s response to that.

2Then the LORD answered me and said:

“Write the vision
And make 
it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
3For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.

4“Behold the proud,
His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith.

Habakkuk 2:2-4 – NKJV

When we read of “the just” here in these verses, English speakers naturally think that they refer to those who are righteous in rendering judgment. This is possibly what the Hebrews writer intended, but I believe the “just” character referred to here has much more to do with the righteousness of God imputed to us in the moment we first believed the Gospel of Jesus, and confessed with mouths the LORD Jesus – that is our so-called “justification.” As we saw in our previous study, in that moment, Jesus places His Spirit within our hearts, and gives us His own righteousness, having redeemed us from the rightful punishment for our sins – death – by the washing of His own blood. This justification in the moment we first believe is the beginning of the process of sanctification – that is separating us from the sinful world and our lives in the flesh in preparation for our eternal life in His Spirit. Our salvation in Christ consists of our initial instantaneous justification followed by the continual process of sanctification until we are finally perfected into the very image of Jesus – fully prepared for our eternal life in His glorious presence. I believe that this concept of salvation is what the writer is referring to here. We – the just(ified) are being sanctified by our faith in His power to perfect us.

The Hebrew word translated as “the just” in Habakkuk 2:4 is צַדִּיק tsaddiyq meaning just or righteous. It is closely related to the Hebrew word צָדַק tsadaq which also means to be just or be righteous, but can also mean to be put or made right or to be justified, and is translated as “justified” elsewhere in the Old Testament. Similarly, the Greek word δίκαιος dikaios we find translated as “the just” in Hebrews 10:38 means upright, righteous, virtuous, keeping the commands of God, but can also mean innocent, faultless, guiltless, or approved of or acceptable of God. It is very similar to the Greek word δικαιόω dikaioō that we looked at in our previous study, which is often translated “justfified,” and means to render righteous or to declare or pronounce, one to be just, righteous, or such as he ought to be.

Aside – It might seem from the placement of the quotation marks, and the italics at the end of Hebrews 10:38 that this is a continuation of the quote from Habakkuk. It is not. It is uncertain from where in the Old Testament the Hebrews writer is quoting, if indeed he is quoting scripture here.

39But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.

Hebrews 10:39 – NKJV

In the latter part of Hebrews 10:38 the writer mentioned that the LORD takes no pleasure in those who draw back from continuing in steadfast faith. This is reminiscent of Jesus’ response to the man who said he would follow Jesus, but first wanted to bid farewell to his family.

61And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.”
62But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:61-62 – NKJV

Our commitment to following and obeying Jesus must be complete and steadfast. Here in Hebrews 10:39 the writer hopefully affirms that we are not indeed among those who would turn back. Once more, here in Hebrews we find a difficult verse to come to grips with for those of us who do not believe it is possible for true Christ followers to lose our salvation. At first blush, Hebrews 10:38b-39 might seem to refer to believers who turn away. But like the man who wanted to say goodbye to his family first, I think this passage is speaking of those who believe the Gospel, but haven’t yet chosen to commit their lives to Him. We have spoken of the two-fold nature of our salvation being our initial justification through faith, followed by our sanctification by the power of God’s Spirit working within our hearts. But our own part in salvation is also two-fold. We must not only believe in our hearts that Jesus is risen from the dead, we must also confess with our mouths the LORD Jesus (Romans 10:8). That is we must believe, and having believed we must make a commitment to follow. In my own life, the separation between the two parts of this acceptance of God’s freely offered salvation were separated by nearly a quarter century! I believe that Hebrews 10:38b-39 and Luke 9:61-62 refer to people like I once was who have believed, but not chosen to follow. Instead, they have drawn back. Those of us who have truly been born again though, are not “of those” as the writer says in Hebrews 39.

Aside – The English word “perdition” we find in the KJV and NKJV translations of Hebrews 10:39 is not a word in common modern English usage. It means destruction or eternal damnation, and is also used to refer to Hell itself. Indeed many of the modern English translations of Hebrews 10:39 render the word as “destruction” or refer to those who are “being destroyed.” The Greek word here is ἀπώλεια apōleia. It means destruction, perishing, ruin, or eternal suffering in Hell. The word is found twenty times in the New Testament. Jesus referred to Judas Iscariot as the “son of perdition” (John 17:12). The Greek word is often translated as “destruction,” for example when Jesus spoke in Matthew 7:13 of the wide gate and broad way that lead to destruction. Notably, ἀπώλεια apōleia is given in Revelation 17:8 and 17:11 as the place to which the Beast is going. One of the four named angels in the Word of God is called in Greek Ἀπολλύων Apollyōn the angel of the bottomless pit whose name is given in Revelation 9:10 as the king of the demonic locusts that will be released from the pit at the sounding of the fifth trumpet.

Looking Ahead

Now having completed our examination of the Hebrews writer’s exhortation for believers who have been justified by Christ’s blood shed for our redemption on the cross to continue in faith through the process of our sanctification in Him, we are now ready to look into the writer’s wonderful synopsis of the history of Israel known as the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11.

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