John Brown.

An exposition of the epistle of the apostle Paul to the Hebrews, Volume 1 online

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Sect. 1. General Exhortation and Warning, x. 19-xii. 29, . .1

„ 2. Particular Exhortations, xiii. 1-19, . . .219

CONCLUSION, xiii. 20, 21, 261

POSTSCRIPT, xiii. 22-25, . . . . . .272

The Christianas Privilege and Duty.— Heb. iv. 14-16, . . 279


Christ, the Author o( Eternal Salvation, made perfect by Suffering.
— Heb. V. 7-9, 808

Christ's Character and Ministry as a High Priest. — ^Heb. ix. 11, 12, . 823

The Superior Efficacy of Christ's Sacrifice.— Heb. ix. 13, 14, . . 837

Christ the Mediator of the New Covenant. — Heb. ix. 15, . . 853

Entrance into the Holiest by the Blood of Christ.— Heb. x. 19-22, . 369


The joint Perfection of Old and New Testament Saints in Heaven. —
Heb. xL 39, 40, 883

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The Ghrigtian Altar. — Heb. xiii. 10, « . . » . 897

The Great-Shepherd of the Sheep.—Heb. xiii. 20, 21, . .409

1. Principal Matters, . . . . . , 481

2. Greek Words and Phrases remarked on, . . . . 484

3. Authors referred to, ..... . 437

4. Texts of Scripture, . . , . .489

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PART 11.


§ 1. General Exhortaition to P^rseveremoey and Warning etgainst
Apostasy. Ohap. x. 19-xii. 29.

The preceding part oi this Epistle has been chiefly occnpied with
jBtatingy proving, and iUoatrating some of the grand peenliarities
o£ Christian doctrine ; and the i^maining part of it is entir^
devoted to an injnnotion and enforcement of those duties whidi
naturally result from the foregoing statements. The paragraph,
vers. 19-23, obviously ccxMists of two parts: — a statement of
principles, which are taken for granted as having been fuDy
pvoved ; and an injunction of duties, grounded on the admission
of these principles. ^^ Having therefore, brethren, boldness
to eater into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and
living way, which He hath consecrated for us through the vail,
that is to say, EUs flesh ; and having an Hi^ Priest over the
house of God ; let us draw near witih a true heart, in full assur-
ance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil con-
science, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold
fast the profession of fiof &ith without wavering (for He is
VOL. n. A

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faithful that promised)." The principles stated are these: —
First, ^^ We have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood
of Jesus ;" and secondly, We have a great " High Priest over
the house of God." The duties enjoined are,—" drawing near,"
and " holding fast the profession of our faith," or rather, hope.

The first principle which the Apostle takes for granted as
having been sufficiently proved, is thus expressed in our version :
— " Haying therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the
holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He
hath consecrated for us through the vail, that is to say, His flesh."

It is not often that there is reason to complain of our trans-
lation, that it is not sufficiently literal. It is often so literal as
to be obscure, if not unintelligible. But in the passage before
us there is ground for such a charge. The words, literally ren-
dered, run dius : — " Having therefore, brethren, boldness, or
confidence, in reference to the entrance into the holiest, by the
blood of Jesus — or by blood, of Jesus, — ^by which entrance^ He
has opened, or consecrated, for us a new and living way, —
through the vail, that is, of His flesh."*

The first question which here suggests itself is. What are
we to understand by the entrance of the holiest ? whose en-
trance is it that is referred to? and what is the nature of this
entrance? It has been common to consider the entrance into
the holiest here as the entrance of believers ; and that entrance
has been explained of the thoughts, affections, and devotions of
Christians being fixed on and addressed to a reconciled Divinity,
by which they have all that intercourse of mind with God which
is compatible with a state in which the capacities of the soul are
confined by its union to an earthly body. But to this mode of
interpretation there are very strong objections. Throughout
the whole of this Epistle, the true holy of holies is heaven ; and
to enter into this true holy of holies, is just to go to heaven.
Besides, it is plain that the principle which the Apostle states
here is one which he had already illustijited. Now, what the

^ ii» may be ^ ku^ Sf.

' Most justly has Valcknaer remarked, ^' Hie locus paucis videtur Intel-
lectus." Eig is expreedve of a direction of mind towards an object ; «-«/-
fnvi» «/f, ' boldness in reference to :' Matt. xxvi. 10 ; Acts ii. 25 ; Rom. iv.
20, zyi. 19, etc., etc. Huff no fa and ^uffnom^teSut are generally con-
strued with the same prepositions as x/fr/f and vimvu*.

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Apostle has been illustrating, is neither that Christians have a
present spiritual access to God in heaven, nor that they shall
have a future real, bodily entrance into heaven ; but that Christ,
as our High Priest, has really and bodily gone into heaven, the
antitype of the holy of holies.^ I cannot doubt, then, that the
entrance here mentioned is the entrance of Jesus Christ, and
that the true meaning of the whole phrase is, ^ the entrance of
Jesus into the holiest by His own blood.'

A few additional remarks on the construction of the passage
are necessary, to open the way to our distinct and satisfactory
apprehension of its meaning. The words, " by a new and
living way, which He hath opened for us," are, literally, " by
which entrance He has opened, or consecrated, for us a new
and living way,** — and are, I apprehend, parenthetical. The
phrase, " through the vail," connects with " the entrance into
the holiest through the blood of Jesus ;" — it is a further de-
scription of this entrance. The entrance of Jesus by His own
blood into the holiest through the vail, is just what is described,
chap. ix. 11, 12.

The concluding explicatory clause, " that is, His flesh," has
commonly been suppose<l to refer to the words which imme-
diately precede it — " the vail ;" and has been considered as
teaching that Christ's body was the antitype of the vail which
divided the holy from the most holy place, and that the rend-
ing of that vail was emblematical of EUs death. To this mode
of interpretation there are, however, great objections. Through-
out this Epistle, as the holy of holies is evidently the heaven of
heavens, so the holy place — ^the tabernacle and its vails — seems
as plainly to be the visible heavens, through which our High
Priest entered into the heaven of heavens. Besides, though the
rending of the vail, taken by itself, and its consequence, the
laying open of the holy of holies, may be considered as a fit em-
blem of the death of Christ, yet the figure does not hold in the
point referred to : the high priest left the vail behind when he
entered^ — Christ carried " His flesh," BKs human nature, along
vrith Him to heaven.

I i^n disposed to consider the words, " that is, of His flesh,"

^ The ot/y refers back to what immediately precedes, but especially to
chap, ix., where it was shown that Christ has entered into the true holy of
holies.— Tholuci^

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AS referring to the enlarance of our Lord into the holy place,-^
the word ' entrance' being understood^ thns : ^ that ra, the en-
trance of His flesh ;" just as the word ^ tabernacle' is understood
in the parallel passage, — '^ a greater and more perfect tabernacle^
that i% not the tabernacle of this building*" The passage witfa^
out the parendiesis would read thus t — ^^ Having then, brethren,
boldness in reference to the entrance of Jesus by His own blood
into the holiest of all^ through the vail, that is, the entrance of
His flesh.-

Having thus endeavoured to ascertain the true construction
of this somewhat involved and difficult passage^ let us shortly
illustrate the glorious truths which it unfolds : — Jesus Christ,
our great High Priest, has entered into the holiest ; He has
done so by His own blood ; He has done so through the vail ;
He has done so bodily ; and He has consecrated this entrance
for us, a new and a living way. You will observe that these
are just the great truths whidi the Apostle had been stating
and illustrating in the preceding section.

Jesus has " entered into the holiest," t.e., into heaven. He
is ^^ a great High Priest passed into tibe heavens," — a ^^ High
Priest set on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens,"-^-**
*' He is entered in into the holy place," — ^^ not the holy places
made with hands, but into heaven itself »"^

He has entered in " with blood," with His own blood ; f.e.,
His entrance into heaven as our High Priest is the result of the
all-perfect expiation of our sins, which He effected by the shed-
ding of His own blood. " When He had by Himself purged
our sins. He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on
high." " For the suffering of death. He was crowned with
glory and honour." " As the Captain of salvation. He was
made perfect through suffering." " Having been made perfect
through the things which He suffered, He is become the Author
of eternal salvation to all who obey Him." ^^ He is entered in,
not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood."
*^ After He had offered one sacrifice for sins, He for ever sat
down on the right hand of God."*

He has entered ^* through the vail ;" that is, through the

visible heavens, of which the tabernacle and its vails, as con-

t)ealing the holy of holies from general inspection, as necessaiy

> Heb. iy. 14, viii. 1, ix 12, 24. » Heb. L 3, ii. 9, 10, v. «, ix. 12, 4. W.

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to be gone through in order to enter it, were «nbleinatical«
Our " great High Priest is passed through the heavens.^ " H©
is entered into the holj place, through a greater and more perfect
tabernacle than the tabernacle of this building."^

He has entered bodilj into heaven. His entrance is the
entrance of His '^ flesh," or body, %.e.y of Him as embodied ; }ust
as to ^^ present our bodies living sacrifices,'^ means, ^ present our«
selves as embodied beings.' Our Lord's entrance is not a meta^-
phoricai entrance ; it is as real as that of the high priest, which
was its emblem. The same God-man Jesus who died on the
cross, ascended up through these heavens, far above them, into
the heaven of heavens; and there, in human nature, as the
representative of His people. He appears in the immediate pre-
sence of God.

The only other principle contained in these words is that
expressed in the parenthetical clause. This bodily entrance
into the holiest by His own blood, through the visible heavens,
^ He has conseorated for us, a new and living way." The word
" consecrate" literally means, ^ opened up ;' and it matters very
little whether you understand it in its primary or secondary
sense. The idea which the Apostle here expresses is the same
as that brought forward in the 20th verse of the 6th chapter,
where Jesus is represented as entering as our " Forerunner"*
within the vaiL The general meaning is plainly this : — ^ By
His bodily entrance through these visible heavens into the
heaven of heavens, on the ground of His atoning sacrifice. He
has secured that in due time all of us who are His people shall
also, through that blood, bodily pass through these heavens into
the heaven of heavens.' When He went away He said to His
disciples, ^ In My Fath^s house are many mansions : if it were
not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and
receive you unto Myself ; that where I am, there ye may be
also."' He is gone to f^orj through His own blood, that
through that blood He may bring the whole company of the
^ many sons to glory •^' Through the power of His atonement
it is secured that they shall all, like Him, be raised from the
dead, and, like Him, be tak^i up to heaven. These ^ vile
bodies" being changed, " and made like unto His glorious body,"
» Heb. iv. 14, ix. 11, 12. « ^fiJV>A*o^ * Job" »▼• 2, «.

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thej ^^ shall be caught up to meet Him in the air/' and go with
Him to the heai^en of heavens.

This mode of entering heaven^ which Christ has opened for
us, is " a new and a living way." His entrance to heaven is
our way of entering it ; and it is a new way — ^a way totally dif-
ferent from that in which innocent man would have entered
heaven — a way belonging to the New Covenant, in which all
things are new — a way which man could never have opened
up, and newly proclaimed in the doctrine of Christianity. " A
living way" seems equivalent to ^ a life-giving way — ^the way of
life to life,' in all the extent of meaning which belongs to
that peculiarly emphatic term. To have followed the Jewish
high priest intathe holy place would have been death.

Now, concerning this " entrance of our Lord Jesus into the
holiest," we have " boldness." This is the same word which in
chap. iii. 6 is termed "confidence," and chap. iv. 16, "bold-
ness." It properly signifies ^ freedom of speech,' but often is
used for that state of firm belief and assured confidence which
leads to freedom of speech and determination of action.^ Here
it is, I apprehend, expressive of that state of mental confidence
which naturally springs from the knowledge and faith of the
truths here referred to. * Having confidence of mind in refer-
ence to our spiritual interests ; knowing and being sure, as we
are, that Christ as our High Priest has gone bodily to heaven,
and that in due time, through His death and exaltation, we
shall be taken bodily to heaven also.' This, then, is the first
principle which the Apostle takes for granted as having been
already abundantly established.

The second is, that "we have a great Priest over the house
of God." The word "having" is very properly repeated here
to make out the sense. Perhaps the whole phrase, " having
boldness," or confidence, should have been repeated. "The
house of God " may signify either the family of God, or the
temple of God. It is plainly used in the first sense in the
beginning of the 3d chapter. Though I cannot speak with
perfect conviction on the subject, I think it probable that it
here means the temple of God — the celestial temple.* We

* Eph. iii. 12; Heb. iii. 6, iv. 16; 1 John ii. 28^ iii. 21, iy. 17,
y. 14.

> Gomp. X. 19, viii. 1, 2, ix. 24, yii. 25, iv. 16. M used as ch. iii. 6.

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know that our Lord Jesus, as our High Priest, is gone to
heaven ; and we know also, that there He is over the temple of
Grod — ^that everything with respect to the acceptable mode of
worship is committed to Him*

The truth here stated, like those formerly referred to, is
spoken of as one already established. The greatness of Christ
Jesus as a Priest is the grand subject of the third and principal
section of the Epistle ; and that He is over the celestial temple,
is distinctly asserted in the 1st verse of the 8th chapter.

On the foundation of these principles, the Apostle proceeds
to exhort the Hebrews to ^^ draw near with a true heart, in full
assurance of faith," and to ^^ hold fast the profession of their
faith without wavering ; for He is faithful that promised."

Since these things are so, and since we have abundant evi-
dence that they are so, "let us," sap the Apostle, "draw near
with a true heart, in the full assurance of faith, having our
hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and having our bodies
washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our
faith without wavering ; for He is faithful who hath promised."

To "draw near" is the same as to "come to God" — to
"come to the throne of grace;" and is expressive of worship-
ping Gdd as a reconciled Divinity. The language in which this
idea is expressed is borrowed from the Jewish ritual. In all their
religious exercises they looked towards, and in many of them
they approached towards, the emblem of Jehovah's favourable
presence in the holy of holies. " Let us draw near " is just
equivalent to — ' let us worship God as the God of peace — ^let us
draw near to Him as propitious to us.'

And let us do so " with a true heart." This phrase seems
to me very nearly synonymous with our Lord's description of
acceptable worship, John iv. 24: " Li spirit and in truth."*
" Let us draw near to Gt)d " — ^not by mere bodily service, but by
the exercise of the mind and heart — not figuratively, but really
— "with a true heart," — ^with the mind enlightened with the
truth, and with the heart made true^ sounds uprighty through the
influence of this truth; not under the influence of the "evil

1 It is the Heb. th\^ 3^3, rendered dT^nitrvi Kupl/a by the LXX., Isa.
xxxYiii. 8, and xap^iu rfXf/«,*l Kings Tiii. 61, xi. 4, xv. 8. Theophylact thus
explains it: dl6\9Vy dwTroKplrov xpogroif dli>.^vf^ dhttorufcrw^ fAil^iv dfi(Pf

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er BPttTCB TO tHE HSBBBWm [CHAP. X. 19-Xa !•.

h€ftart of enor and unbelief/' which leads men away from God,
bat tmder the influence of the heait of tmlh and faitii, whieh,
by uniting the mind and heart of matt to the mind and heart of
God, gives real fellowship with Him.

Christians are exhorted thus to draw near to GKxl, ^^ in the
fuU assurance of faith." ^' The full assurance of faith" is just
equivalent to— ^ the fullest and most assured belief.' The ques^
tion naturally occurs, The full and most assured bdief of what?
And the answer is easy : The full and assured belief of that re-
specting which we have confidence-^that Christ as our High
Priest has bodily passed through these heavens into the heaven of
heavens by His own bloody thereby proving the perfection of
His atoning sacrifice, and tiie efficacrp* of his intercession ; and
thus securing that in due time we Asll also enter in a similar
way into the heavens; and that in heaven, whither He has
entered as our Forerunner, He is a great High Priest over
the celestial temple, having everything connected with the ac-
cqytable worship of GxkI committed to EKs management. We
ought to draw near to God with this full assurance, because
we have the most abundant evidence that these things are true,
and because it is tiie assurance of these things which enables us'
to draw near. It is the faith of the truth respecting the reality
and efficacy of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the hope that
rises out of that faith, that enable us t6 draw near to J?tm,
from whom, but for this faith and hope, had we just views of
His holiness and justice and power, we would seek shelter, if
possible, under rocks and mountains.

It is a just and important remark of Dr Owen, respecting
tlie meaning of t^e phtuse, << assurance of faith," — ^^The full
assurance of faith h^:e respects not the assurance that any have
of thdr own salvation, nor any degree of such assurance ; it is
only the full satisfaction of our souls and consciences of the
redity and efficacy of Christ's p*iesthood to give us acceptance
with God, in oppontion to all other ways and means thereof,
that is hitended." ^Let us draw near in the full assurance of
faith," is just — < Let us wc^faip God in the firm faith of these
* truths.'

The two following clauses have, in later times, very generally
been ccmsid^red as both referring to the exhortation, ^ let us draw
near/' and as descr^ve of ikm qualsficalkms of an acceptabk

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^oitehipper. ^Having tlie heart sprinkled from an evil con-
science, and the body washed with pure water," has been con-
sidered as JQst equivalent to such phrases as — ^^being purified
from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit," — ^^ being sanc-
tified in the whole man, soul, body, and spirit ;" and the Apostle
has been supposed to teach the important truth, that the worship
of men living habitually in the indulgence either of internal or ex-
ternal sin cannot be acceptable. I cannot but take a somewhat
different view of the matter. This is no doubt an important
truth, but it has no particular bearing on the Apostle's argument.
The ccmstmction of the original text induces me, along with
many of the most learned both of ancient and modem expositors,
to connect the phrase, ^^ and having our bodies washed with pure
water," not wirii the exhortation, ^ let us draw near," but with

Online LibraryJohn BrownAn exposition of the epistle of the apostle Paul to the Hebrews, Volume 1 → online text (page 1 of 44)