The Arguments Proper, 2:10-12:29

2. Christ's high priestly sacrifice enables us to approach God, 7:1-10:25

Summary: Access to God through Christ's sacrifice


In this transitional passage our author reminds his readers of the present benefits of Christ's royal priestly sacrifice and of a believer's proper response of faith, hope and love.


i] Context: See 7:1-10.


ii] Background: A general introduction; See 1:1-4.


iii] Structure: This passage, Access to God through Christ's sacrifice, presents as follows:

The benefits of Christ's priestly sacrifice, v19-21:

Assurance, v19-20:

"we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place";

Grace, v21:

"we have a great priest over the house of God."

Our response to Christ's priestly service, v22-25:

Faith, v22:

"let us draw near to God .... with the full assurance that faith brings."

Hope, v23:

"let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess."

Love, v24:

"let us ..... spur one another on toward love and good deeds."


iv] Interpretation:

Our author has argued for the promise of a better covenant that rests on better promises and this because of Christ's once and for all complete and effective sacrifice as our great high priest. The argument was brought to a close in 10:11-18, and now we come to a concluding summary, similar in content to 4:14-16. This summary serves to lead into the exhortations found in 5:11-6:20.

In rhetorical terms, this summary is a peroratio, a conclusion to a speech which serves to encourage and exhort the audience. As we began the second main argument we were told that Christ has pioneered a way through the sanctuary curtains into the Holy of Holies, and into the presence of God, 6:19-20. So now we are again reminded that Christ has parted the curtains, entered "the Most Holy Place", and this through his blood, his sacrifice, his cross. Since we have confidence in Christ to enter into the Holy of Holies and come into the presence of God, and since have a great high priest reigning over us and acting on our behalf, let us confidently approach our God with full assurance of his love, let us support each other in this endeavor, encouraging each other as we see the Great Day of the Lord drawing near.


Greek Text: This passage forms one sentence in the Greek: two indicatives ("we have confidence to enter" + "we have a great priest") are followed by three imperatives ("let us draw near / hold fast / consider").


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 10:19

Access to God through Christ's sacrifice, v19-25. i] The benefits of Christ's priestly service, v19-21: a) The ground of our confidence / Assurance - access to the living God in Jesus Christ, v19-20. As noted above, our author now summarizes his argument so far and draws out a number of exhortations. The "therefore" is somewhat out of place. The argument is more like: "since we have confidence ..... and since we have a great high priest .... therefore let us draw near ....." The central point our author makes in the preceding section, and which he summarizes in v19-21, is that a believer has free access into the throne-room of the living God through the sacrificial death of Jesus. We can confidently come into God's presence, free of condemnation, and this because of God's mercy in Christ. Jesus has provided a new way into God's presence, a new way to find life everlasting. The great curtain that hung before the Holy of Holies in the temple was a reminder that access into God's throne-room was all but impossible. Jesus ripped this curtain apart, providing free access into the presence of God. He did this by allowing his own life to be ripped from him; he gave his life for us that we might live to God.

oun "therefore" - therefore, thus. Drawing a conclusion from the preceding argument which is summarized in v19-21. Best placed at the beginning of v22, "Therefore, let us ...."

econteV (ecw) pres. part. "since we have" - having. The participle is adverbial, possibly causal, "since / because", as NIV, Williams... The present tense indicating present continued action; "Jesus gives us, now and always, free access". "Since" we have this access, therefore let us use it, v22.

parrhsian (a) "confidence" - boldness, confidence, assurance. The "confidence" here is for a person's free access into the presence of God; "we brothers have complete freedom to enter the Holy of Holies", Barclay.

eiV + acc. "to enter" - into [the entrance]. Spacial. The act of entering is possible, but purpose / objective is surely being expressed, "for", giving the sense of a dependent statement of perception expressing the content of the "confidence"; "we are confident that ...... we can enter the sanctuary", Cassirer. "To go" is implied, so Ellingworth; "we are confident to go into / that we can go into ...."

twn aJgiwn adj. "the Most Holy place" - of holy. "Most" may be implied, ie "the holy of holies", although the genitive is likely to be adjectival, possessive; "the entrance way of (which belongs to) the sanctuary", or more specifically "the curtain of the inner sactuary", ie. the curtain of the innermost sanctuary through which the priest passes to come into the presence of God; "the curtain of God's heavenly throne-room."

en + dat. "by" - Probably instrumental, expressing means, as NIV, although possibly expressing association, "in connection with."

tw/ aiJmati (a atoV) "the blood" - Referring to Jesus' sacrificial death; "the blood of Jesus gives us courage to enter the most holy place", CEV.


"by" - The NIV picks up on the instrumental en in v19, although Barclay better handles the Gk., "(v19) Through the sacrificial death of Jesus we, brothers, have complete freedom to enter the Holy of Holies by and new and living way, (v20) which he inaugurated for us."

prosfaton adj. "a new [.. way]". As of freshly slaughtered meat, fresh, not aged. "Fresh", Moffatt, although "new / recent" is better. A new means of access into the presence of God.

zwsan (zaw) pres. part. "living [way]" - living. The participle is functioning as an adjective, limiting "way", "by a new way that leads to life", CEV, or more properly, "a way newly made and living", Lenski.

hJmin dat. pro. "for us" - Dative of interest, advantage.

hJn "-" - which [he opened for us]. Relative pronoun referring to the entrance into the Holy Place.

enekainisen (egkainizw) aor. "opened" - consecrated, inaugurated, dedicated. Liturgical language, dedicated to a special usage, the usage here being access, therefore, "which he has opened up for us", Phillips. Possibly even reflecting the inauguration of the covenant, so Christ inaugurates the way / entrance; "which he inaugurated for us", Barclay, cf. 9:18.

dia + gen. "through [the curtain]" - Possibly with an instrumental sense, "by means of", by means of the curtain, that is, Christ's sacrificial death, but this seems unlikely. The curtain before the Holy of Holies is a barrier, separating the sinner from God. Jesus, through his sacrificial death, rents the curtain and provides us access. Therefore, "through", as in passing through. "He has opened for us a living opening through the curtain", NJB.

tout estin "that is" - which is to say. Explanatory = ie.

thV sarkoV autou gen. "his body" - of the flesh of him. ie. Christ's sacrifice. It is likely that the preposition dia + gen., "through", repeats for this clause giving the sense, "through his body" (ie. a brachylogy, brevity in writing). Probably this second "through" is instrumental unlike the first. "Christ tore open a way through the separating barrier between us and God, and this by means of his sacrifice on our behalf"; "his body rent for us", Barclay.


b) Grace, v21: As well as Jesus' priestly offering of himself as a sacrifice for sin, we also benefit from his priestly reign over us, particularly his intercession for the believing community and his guidance as the great shepherd of the sheep.

kai "and since we have" - and. Clearly this conjunction is linking back to the participle econteV, "having", taken as causal, "since we have"; "since we have confidence ...... and since we have a great priest ....., let us ....." Ellingworth classifies this construction as a Zeugma (two nouns joined by a verb [here a participle] that suits only one of them), although nearly a Zeugma is closer to the mark.

megan adj. "great [priest]" - A short-hand version of "Great High Priest" as distinct from the Jewish high priest who, like the people he represented, was a sinner.

epi + acc. "over" - Spacial. The idea of the priestly Christ is associated with his heavenly reign "over" us as the great shepherd of the sheep, 13:20.

ton oikon tou qeou "the house of God" - Possibly a reference to the temple, but more likely the worshippers and therefore, God's people, so, "the elect believing community of God's people."


ii] The right response for all that is ours in Jesus our royal priest, v22-25: a) Faith, v22. Because of Christ's priestly offering and reign, "let us ...." Our writer's first exhortation is that we put our faith in the promise of free access into the presence of the living God. Using sacrificial images from the Old Testament, we are given the image of Jesus sprinkling us with the blood of his perfect sacrifice and washing us clean with pure water. Seeing that we are now free from guilt, nothing more is required of us than to firmly rest in faith on this his mercy.

oun "therefore" - v19. Grammatically applies here. "So let us come near", TEV.

prosercwmeqa (prosercomai) aor. subj. "let us draw near" - let us approach, come to, draw near. Hortatory subjunctive. Given all that Christ has done for us, let us avail ourselves of the free access into God's presence that he has provided; "let us make our approach (to God) in sincerity of heart", REB.

meta + gen. "with" - Expressing association.

alhqinhV adj. "a sincere [heart]" - true, genuine. Describing an approach to God which is genuine, a "complete sincerity of heart", Barclay, of commitment toward God, something similar to "a steady faith."

en + dat. "in / with" - Possibly expressing association, "with ... a sure faith", TEV, or better, "filled with faith", NJB, = "trusting / believing"; "an abundance of faith", Attridge. This serves as the second subjective requirement of drawing near to God, namely, "sincerity of heart" and "conviction of faith", although as noted above, both phrases mean much the same.

pistewV (iV ewV) gen. "[the full assurance] of faith / that faith brings" - of faith. The TNIV ("that faith brings") has taken the genitive as verbal, subjective, such that the "confidence, assurance, certainty, ..." is produced by "faith", but there remains the possibility that the genitive is adjectival, attributed (a widely unrecognized clarification), so "a sure faith", aligning nicely with "a true heart."

rJerantismenoi (rJantizw) perf. pas. part. "having [our hearts] sprinkled to cleanse us" - having been sprinkled. The participle is functioning as an adjective, attributive, limiting "hearts"; "hearts which are sprinkled ..." Alluding to the cleansing by blood sacrifice, which blood is sprinkled on the worshippers for their inclusion in the redemptive consequences of the sacrifice, cf. Day of Atonement. The passive is probably divine/theological, God/Christ does the sprinkling, while the perfect tense indicates completed action with ongoing consequences, ie. of Christ's sacrifice. "Having been purified by the sprinkling of his blood", Phillips.

apo + gen. "from" - Expressing separation; "away from."

ponhraV adj. "[a] guilty [conscience]" - [a conscience] of evil. The adjective limits "conscience". Freedom from guilt is the consequence of the redemptive sprinkling of Christ's blood, so "let us then come ..... with our hearts so sprinkled with the blood of his sacrifice that we no longer have a guilty conscience", Barclay.

lelousmenoi (leuw) perf. pas. part. "having [our bodies] washed" - having been washed. The participle functions as an adjective, attributive, limiting "bodies"; "bodies which are washed ...." Alluding to ritual cleansing within a sacrificial context, possibly also alluding to Ezk.36:25-26. We would be wise to follow Calvin here who saw no reference to Christian baptism in this verse. We are able to approach God's throne because Christ has washed us clean of sin.

uJdati (wr atoV) dat. "with [pure] water" - Instrumental dative, as NIV, although possibly local, "washed in pure water", Cassirer.


b) Hope, v23. The second exhortation is that we continue in our confession of hope. The Christian confession is summed up in the gospel as our eternal hope, and it is this we must continue to hold firmly. We worship a reliable God, so we can depend on his promises; our hope is not in vain.

katecwmen (katecw) pres. subj. "let us hold" - let us hold firmly, fast, hold down. Hortatory subjunctive. Hold onto, don't let go, so "let us continue to hold firmly."

aklinh/ adj. "unswervingly" - without wavering, without bending, not leaning, stable, fixed. This adjective agrees with "profess" and so it is the profession that must not be pushed out of shape, diluted, rather than our commitment to it, none-the-less an unwavering commitment to the profession is implied by "hold fast firmly." Although in the predicate position, it seems best to treat is if attributive; "let us hold firmly the unbending / true confession."

thV elpidoV (iV ewV) "to the hope [we profess]" - [the confession / profession / agreement] of the hope. The use of two definite articles in this genitive clause follows grammatical form (Canon of Apollonius) rather than an expectation that both should be translated; it is "the confession of hope", not "the confession of the hope." Although two nouns, translators, as NIV, often treat "the confession" as if it were a verb expressing the act of confessing, probably best in the present tense, so "let us hold inflexibly to the hope we tell the world we possess", Barclay. Yet, the confession / profession is most likely creedal, which in its simplest form is the gospel, so "the confession of hope" may well be something like "the gospel of hope." The genitive, "of hope", would then be adjectival, attributive, where hope limits the content of the confession, although possibly epexegetic, limiting by defining, "that which we hope for", or even appositional where both the content of the hope and the confession are the same, "namely, what we hope for", ie. the promises of the gospel.

gar "for" - Expressing cause/reason, introducing a causal clause explaining why we should hold firm to a true expressing of that which we profess, namely, the hope / gospel.

o epaggeilamenoV (epaggellomai) aor. mid. part. "he who promised" - the one having promised. Substantive participle. Maintaining a confession of hope rests on the knowledge that our God is reliable.


c) Love, v24-25. The third exhortation is that we be concerned for each other, encouraging each other toward brotherly love and "lovely living." One practical aspect of brotherly love is our regular participation in the worship of the Christian community. Our presence serves as an encouragement to one another as we pass through the shadows of an age fast passing away. So, in this passage we are reminded again of the three pillars of the Christian way: faith, hope and love.

katanowmen (katanoew) pres. subj. "let us consider" - let us consider, pay attention to, understand, reason thoughtfully, think. Hortatory subjunctive. In the context of love, "keep on caring for one another", Lane; "let us be concerned for each other", RJB.

eiV + acc. "how we may" - for, to [stirring up one another]. Here expressing purpose, aim/objective.

paroxusmon (oV) "spur [one another] on" - encouragement, stimulation ...... sharp contention, inciting. If "encouragement" is intended, in the sense of stirring up our brothers for good, rather than "anger / bitterness / sharp contention", then "help one another to show love and to do good", TEV.

agaphV (h) gen. "toward love" - of love. Possibly an objective genitive, but an adjectival/limiting sense is possibly all that is intended, the love kind of encouragement. "Brotherly love / compassion" is obviously intended.

kalwn ergwn (on) gen. "good deeds" - good works. Again, possibly an objective genitive, but again a limiting sense may be intended, a good works kind of encouragement. "We must think how to stimulate each other to love and to lovely living", Barclay.


mh egkataleiponteV (egkataleipw) pres. part. "let us not give up" - not abandoning, leaving in the lurch, forsaking. The present tense is probably iterative (although such distinctions are often not possible when dealing with participles) underlining the important habit of regular attendance, rather than the habit of irregularity. The participle is possibly imperatival (attendant on the hortatory subjunctive katanowmen "let us consider"), as NIV etc., possibly modal expressing manner, given that v25 seems to express an aspect of "love"; "not neglecting to (regularly) meet together", NRSV.

thn episunagwghn "meeting together" - the gathering together, assembly [of ourselves]. This noun is used of the eschatological gathering of God's people in the last day and is applied to the local gathering of believers; "the habit of meeting together for worship", CEV. The genitive reflective pronoun eJautwn, "of ourselves", is adjectival, attributive, limiting "assembly"; "fail to be present at the gatherings which are held by us", Cassirer.

kaqwV "as" - as, like. Comparative.

tisin pro. dat. "some" - [as habit] some, certain. The dative is probably possessive in that this custom / habit is owned by some, but instrumental is possible, "as is the habit by some."

alla "but" - Adversative, contrastive.

parakalounteV (parakalew) pres. part. "let us encourage" - encouraging, urgent insisting. The participle as for egkataleiponteV above. The encouraging may be a product of the meeting, the gathering is encouraged and exhorted, but possibly the encouraging is to attend; "do not stay away from the meetings of the community, as some do, but encourage each other to go", JB.

tosoutw/ mallon "all the more" - so much more. "Especially", CEV.

o{sw/ dat. "as" - Ascensive (climactic), rather than comparative, the dative probably being instrumental, so "by so much more."

thn hJmeran "the Day" - Obviously "the Day of the Lord"; "the final day", Phillips; "the day of the Lord's coming", CEV.

eggizousan (eggizw) pres. part. "approaching" - drawing near, coming near. The participle forms a dependent statement of perception, "see that the day draws near"; "especially as we see that the day of judgment is pressing in on us."


Hebrews Introduction.



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