24/12/16 Hebrews 10:28-39 “Don’t tread the Son of God under foot!”


Hebrews 10:28-2928 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?


despise – to disregard; make void, frustrate; to reject; to refuse; to slight. That is, to make light of Moses’ law.


The context is not just a little issue of disobedience, but of gross rebellion against God by worshipping (including sacrificing to) other gods, thus breaking God’s covenant with them (that is, God’s people). If two or more witnesses spoke against someone for doing such, then the penalty was death by stoning. It is significant that this wickedness was carried out within the gates (Deuteronomy 17:2), that is, the property or land that God had given them. There were other evils that carried the death penalty, such as smiting parents, breaking the Sabbath, blasphemy, adultery, murder, but the sin of worshipping other gods is especially relevant here.

Note that the witnesses had to cast the first stones! Also, note that there was no leeway for mercy of any sort. If found to be true, then the penalty was carried out.


Deuteronomy 17:2-72 If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the Lord thy God, in transgressing his covenant, 3 And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; 4 And it be told thee, and thou hast heard [of it], and enquired diligently, and, behold, [it be] true, [and] the thing certain, [that] such abomination is wrought in Israel: 5 Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, [even] that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die. 6 At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; [but] at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death. 7 The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.


sorer – worse

thought worthy – to be judged worthy or deserving of such.

trodden under foot  to tread down; to trample under foot; to trample on; metaphorically: to treat with rudeness and insult; to spurn; to treat with insulting neglect. That is, to treat something or someone as dirt (or even worse).


If a person who despised Moses’ law by worshipping other gods, (that is, acted with contempt for the sacrifices of the covenant law) could be sentenced to death, without mercy, on the word of just two or three witnesses, then how much worse would it be to sin against the sacrifice of the Son of God? Not only to merely sin against the Son of God but to treat Him with rudeness and insult, to treat Him with insulting neglect!


sanctifiedhagiazo (verb) (make holy, consecrate, sanctify; to dedicate, separate, set apart for God) Note the connection of this word to hagion (adjective) (sanctuary; holy place; most holy place)


And, by treading underfoot the Son of God, they have counted (considered; thought) the blood of the covenant (which has made them holy; set them apart for God) an unholy (common; unclean; defiled) thing, and by doing so has treated the Spirit of grace (the Holy Spirit) with insult, scorn and mockery.

Because “unholy” can mean “common” (and is translated as such 7 out of 12 times), Vs 29 could be saying that some might make the blood of the new covenant worth no more than the common blood of common man.


It is impossible to not get the full message of Vs 29. Deuteronomy 17:3 says that the death penalty was for the worship of false gods (sacrifice has to be included here) by people within their community (within any of the gates …). It wasn’t therefore for outsiders, or other nations, but for those with whom God had made His covenant, that is, Israel. The parallelism is also very clear here: the wickedness committed against the Son of God is also by insiders, those with whom God has made a covenant, but in this case they are the Church, sealed, not under the old covenant but under the new covenant. These are of the household of God, Christians.


These people cannot be just adherents, either, for they not only treat the Son of God (and, by the context, including His blood sacrifice on the cross) with insulting rudeness, but they have treated the blood of the covenant with which they were sanctified (made holy; set apart for God) an unholy (or common) thing and so have insulted and scorned (belittled the work of) the Holy Spirit who works the divine grace in us. Only born-again Christians are sanctified as such (1 Corinthians 6:10-11).


Some (calvinists included) say that “wherewith he was sanctified” applies to Jesus, and not people. By this they hope to avoid the inconsistency of one who is saved also treating the blood of the covenant an unclean thing. So how is the word “sanctified” used? It is used three times in Hebrews 10:

Hebrews 10:10By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once [for all].

Hebrews 10:14For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

and here in Vs 29.

In general, with few exceptions, the use of this word is demonstrated in

Hebrews 2:11For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified [are] all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,


Thus, without context to say otherwise, the use of “sanctified” in Vs 29 has to be for the person and not for Jesus. The use of the pronoun “he” in Vs 29 (twice) also has to mean the same person each time unless qualified otherwise. Therefore, it has to be considered unreasonable to mean anything else other than a person who has been sanctified by the blood of Jesus who has also spurned that blood sacrifice, that is, someone who has rejected the sacrifice that has already purchased his redemption and been applied to his life. That is, this person can only be a Christian who has neglected his so great salvation (Hebrews 2:3). Add to this the context of following on from Hebrews 10:26 (just 3 verses earlier) – For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,


It is impossible to ignore the implications of this: that a born-again Christian can tread underfoot the Saviour by insulting His blood sacrifice and salvation. And the consequences are clearly a fate worse than just mere physical death!


Hebrews 10:30For we know him that hath said, Vengeance [belongeth] unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.


Deuteronomy 32:35-36a35 To me [belongeth] vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in [due] time: for the day of their calamity [is] at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste. 36 For the Lord shall judge his people …


God is certainly a God of grace, but He is also a God who will exact terrible vengeance upon those who scorn or spurn His grace. Some try to limit a “God who is love” to never sending anyone to hell, but God’s love is supported by all of God’s attributes, not only grace and mercy, but also justice and righteousness.

We are commanded to not seek vengeance from those who harm us, but rather to allow God to be our avenger (on our behalf). As our avenger, God is going to be sure and certain. Justice will be carried out, without a single error.

Romans 12:19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.


Those who oppose God’s people have brought God’s vengeance upon them.


Zechariah 2:8For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.

Matthew 18:6But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and [that] he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

In particular, anyone who is a covenanted member of God’s family will be treated far more severely because he knows what is right yet still does wrong (wilfully!).

2 Peter 2:21For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known [it], to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

This vengeance of God is all the more serious because “The Lord shall judge his people.” Not just any people, but His people! That these are God’s people who have trodden the Son of God underfoot is shown again here; they are “his people”.


Hebrews 10:31[It is] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.


fall – fall into one’s power.

It is a fearful (terrible; full of terror) thing to fall into the power (of the hands) of the living God, particularly if you have partaken of the cleansing of the blood of the new covenant, been sanctified (made holy; set apart for God), yet then declared it a common (or unclean) thing, thus scorning or insulting the Holy Spirit by whose grace you are saved. 


If we continue further in Deuteronomy 32 (see above), we see that God declares Himself to be alive, that is, a living God.

Deuteronomy 32:40-4140 For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever.  41 If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me.

Also see 2 Timothy 2:12If we suffer, we shall also reign with [him]: if we deny [him], he also will deny us:


Hebrews 10:32But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;


call to remembrance – Remember those days when you first called upon the name of the Lord and were saved. Remember how your understanding changed after that. Remember how this caused so much conflict among your family, friends and others.

This passage continues to demonstrate that we’re talking about people who have left the old life behind, have been born again and have (hopefully) taken up their crosses to follow Jesus. They have turned their backs on the world which they enjoyed in their former days, and, because they had been changed (become new creatures in Christ), were now in conflict with the world they had left behind. For many this meant persecution and even martyrdom. It wasn’t easy to be a Christian in the Roman world of their day.


afflictions – sufferings

1 Timothy 3:12 was a reality to them – Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. – in a way that we in Australia can never know while we have so much reliance upon the world of today.


illuminatedphotizo (to be spiritually enlightened) Also used in Hebrews 6:4.

Hebrews 6:4-64 For [it is] impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put [him] to an open shame.


By so doing, the writer has emphasised the Christian status of those who were enlightened in Hebrews 6:4. This same consistency of Scripture (that such people are indeed born-again Christians and not just adherents) can be seen here:

Ephesians 1:18The eyes of your understanding being enlightened (photizo); that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

Also compare with 2 Peter 2:20For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.


Hebrews 10:33Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.


made a gazingstock theatrizo (to bring upon the stage; to set forth as a spectacle; expose to contempt)

reproaches – reproaches such as Christ suffered, for the cause of God, from his enemies.

afflictions – tribulations, persecutions. Stronger meaning than “afflictions” in Vs 32.


The afflictions and sufferings (Vs 32) came partly through being put on show with reproach and persecution (such as martyrs in the Coliseum and elsewhere) and also through being associated (partakers) with them who were suffering reproach and persecution.

The writer continues to remind them of what it had cost them (and continued to cost them) to be Christians. What he is really saying is that it has cost you so much already; why throw all that away? What was the point of so much suffering if you count it all as nothing now, that is, if you fall away again (apostatise)?


Hebrews 10:34For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.


For you have done so much good as fellow Christians. You had compassion (sympathy) on the writer when he was in prison. You accepted with rejoicing the plundering of your possessions (property) because you were Christians. You had an understanding that you had a better and more lasting substance (possessions; goods; wealth; property) in heaven.

Matthew 6:19-2119 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.


Hebrews 10:35Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.


confidence – free and fearless confidence; cheerful courage; boldness; assurance.

Translated as “boldness” in Vs 19.

You have started well (as Paul said in Galatians 5:7Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? so why lose what you may be assured of (be confident of), both now, but especially of your rewards built up in heaven?

Cast not away your confidence – opposite of “hold fast the confidence” (Hebrews 3:6)


Hebrews 10:36For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.


You need to be more patient; suffering may well endure for a season but just hang in there – it will all be worth it in the end. God’s promise of an eternal Sabbath-rest (Hebrews Ch.4) will be for those who endure faithfully to the end.

1 Corinthians 15:58Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Psalm 30:5For his anger [endureth but] a moment; in his favour [is] life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy [cometh] in the morning.

Romans 8:18For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us.


Hebrews 10:37-3837 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if [any man] draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.


This is quoted from

Habakkuk 2:3-43 For the vision [is] yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. 4 Behold, his soul [which] is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

but the Septuagint once again is closer to that in Hebrews.

Habakkuk 2:4If he should draw back, my soul has no pleasure in him: but the just shall live by my faith (LXX)


Vs 37 is clearly discussing the second coming of Christ (as Messiah). Note the following concerning the timing of the second coming.

2 Peter 3:8-108 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day [is] with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.


the just shall live by faith – see 2 Corinthians 5:7(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

just – righteous ones. This is yet another proof that we are talking about born-again Christians, because being righteous isn’t something that can ever apply to those who have not been saved through godly sorrow and repentance for their sins.


In other words, the end of your sufferings will come. Righteous (just) ones should live by faith rather than trying to make spiritual sense of the visible world. You might be worse off than those of the world but it is only for a season; joy comes in the morning. However, if anyone draw back (be afraid to declare openly what they believe; compare with “fall away” or “apostatise”) then God will have no pleasure in them (will not be favourably inclined toward them).


Hebrews 10:39But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.


perdition – utter destruction; the destruction which consists of eternal misery in hell.

But (says the writer, apparently in encouragement for them to continue), we are not of them that will be destroyed in hell, but are of them that have faith (pistis – faith) that results in the saving of the soul.


Two things emerge from this verse. One is that there are apparently two groups: one which will draw back into perdition, and the other which will believe to the saving of the soul (that is, they have salvation). The second point is that both groups appear to belong to the Church; one group will persevere to the saving of their souls while the other will fall away, draw back unto perdition.

Luke 17:33Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.


As Christians, we have a challenge here: when tough and difficult times come, where will we stand? It is true that times of persecution cause many to fall away; for those people it was alright in the good times but not acceptable in the bad times. While the Church might lose numbers, it will also be purged of those who were only in it for the good times, fair-weather Christians who, when tribulations come, go away again.


What the Church needs today is Christians who will deny themselves, take up their crosses daily and follow Jesus.

Luke 9:23-2623 And he said to [them] all, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? 26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and [in his] Father’s, and of the holy angels.


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