A. Access to God Through the Sacrifice of Christ (10:19–25)
19 So, my brothers, we have freedom of access into the holy place by Jesus’ blood,
20 along the new 77 and living way which he has dedicated for us through the curtain, that is to say, his flesh;
21 and we have a great priest over God’s house.
22 Let us therefore approach God 78 with a true heart, in faith’s full assurance, since our hearts have been sprinkled clean from an evil conscience 79 and our bodies have been washed with pure water.
23 Let us maintain without wavering the confession of our 80 hope, for he who has given us his promises is trustworthy.
24 Let us at the same time cultivate mutual consideration, stimulating one another 81 to love and good works.
25 Let us not abandon our meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing; let us rather encourage one another, and all the more so, as you see the Day approaching.
The practical implications of the foregoing argument are now summed up in this sustained exhortation (one sentence in Greek), which might well have formed the conclusion of the homily, had not our author judged it wise to expand and apply in greater detail the points made here, for the further encouragement and strengthening of his readers. In view of all that has been accomplished for us by Christ, he says, let us confidently approach God in worship, let us maintain our Christian confession and hope, let us help one another by meeting together regularly for mutual encouragement, because the day which we await will soon be here.
19 The “boldness” which believers in Christ have to enter the heavenly sanctuary through him is set in contrast with the restrictions which hedged about the privilege of symbolic entry into the presence of God in Israel’s earthly sanctuary. In it not all the people could exercise this privilege, but the high priest only, as their representative; and even he could not exercise the privilege any time he chose, but at fixed times and under fixed conditions. But those who have been cleansed within, consecrated and made perfect by the sacrifice of Christ, have received a free right of access into the holy presence; and our author urges his readers to avail themselves fully of this free right. As regularly in the New Testament, the parrhēsia enjoyed by Christians is “based on the revelation of God in Jesus Christ who restored the relation betweeen God and man.” 82 The invitation to “approach the throne of grace with confidence” has already been issued in this epistle (4:16); on that occasion the invitation was based on the assurance that the high priest who has passed through the heavens is one whose own experiences of temptation enable him to sympathize with his people in their trials. Now a further assurance is given: the way by which this high priest has entered into the presence of God is a way which remains open for his people to follow him there.
The AV/KJV describes this free right of access as “boldness to enter into the holiest 83 by the blood of Jesus.” The Greek text, indeed, does not use the superlative expression here which distinguishes the holy of holies from the holy place; but in 9:8 we have already seen the more general term “the holy place” used with reference to the earthly sanctuary where the inner compartment was actually meant. So here, as is indicated by the words “through the curtain,” it is to the very throne of God that believers in Christ have free entry—not to the material symbol of his throne where, as in the preexilic holy of holies, his invisible presence was upborne by the cherubim; but to his true and spiritual dwelling. Believers have no need to ask “Who shall ascend into heaven?” when it is a question of their approaching God; here upon earth they may enter his heavenly abode and know direct communion with him “by Jesus’ blood.” 84 He who, “by virtue of his own blood, entered the holy place once for all” (9:12) has procured for his people equal right of entry there by means of that same blood—that is, on the ground of his accepted sacrifice.
20 The way by which they enter the presence of God is a new way, which did not exist until he opened it up 85 and entered thereby himself. It is thus a new way; it is also a “living way.” For in effect the ever-living Christ himself, as his people’s sacrifice and priest, is the way to God; the present passage is our author’s counterpart to the affirmation of John 14:6: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” 86 It is a way which (to continue the symbolism of the tabernacle and temple) leads “through the curtain” into the holy of holies.
It can scarcely be doubted that the “curtain” or “veil” of which our author is thinking is the inner veil which separated the holy place from the holy of holies, the “second curtain” of 9:3, 87 through the heavenly archetype of which Jesus has already passed as his people’s forerunner (6:19f.). Here it is natural to ask whether these words contain an implicit allusion to the rending of the temple veil from top to bottom at the moment of Jesus’ death (Mark 15:38; cf. Matt. 27:51; Luke 23:45). For the veil which was then rent in two was also probably the inner veil, 88 and its rending is recorded not as a natural portent 89 but as an event of theological significance: in the death of Jesus, we are to understand, God himself is unveiled to us and the way of access to him is thrown wide open. The teaching of the Synoptic passion narratives is thus to the same effect as that of our epistle; in both instances the teaching is given a cultic form, which is expressed realistically in the Gospels and symbolically by our author. 90 If our author knew about the rent veil, its significance was patent to him. But even if he did not know about it, his language here drives home the same lesson as the rending of the veil did.
A still more important question is raised by the following clause, “that is to say, his flesh.” 91 Do these words qualify “the curtain” or the “new and living way”? 92 The Greek affords no more help in answering this question than the English does. The ERV/ARV render the passage in such a way as to preserve the ambiguity; the AV/KJV probably, and the RSV certainly (“through the curtain, that is, through his flesh”), identify “his flesh” with “the veil” (“the curtain”); the NEB comes down unambiguously on the side of the other alternative—“the new, living way which he has opened for us through the curtain, the way of his flesh” (the variant rendering, “through the curtain of his flesh,” is relegated to a footnote).
In favor of taking “that is to say, his flesh” as epexegetic of “the veil” is, first, the word order; it is rather awkward to relate the clause closely to the words “new and living way” in view of the intervention of the phrase “through the veil.” Nor is there any difficulty in supposing that our author could explain the veil as being our Lord’s “flesh”; like “the body of Jesus Christ” in v. 10 and “the blood of Jesus” in v. 19, “his flesh” here could mean his human life, offered up in sacrifice to God. It is by his sacrifice that the way of approach to God has been opened up. 93 The veil which, from one point of view, kept God and mankind apart, can be thought of, from another point of view, as bringing them together; for it was one and the same veil which on one side was in contact with the glory of God and on the other side with the need of men and women. So in our Lord Godhead and manhood were brought together; he is the true “daysman” or umpire who can lay his hand upon both because he shares the nature of both. And by his death, it could be added, the “veil” of his flesh was rent asunder and the new way consecrated through it by which human beings may come to God. “This beautiful allegorizing of the veil cannot, of course, be made part of a consistent and complete typology. It is not meant for this. But as the veil stood locally before the holiest in the Mosaic Tabernacle, the way into which lay through it, so Christ’s life in the flesh stood between Him and His entrance before God, and His flesh had to be rent ere He could enter. This is the fact and the history which suggest the figure. But under this fact lie principles in the mind of God, and in the public law of the universe, and in the heart and mind of man, the object to be awakened and touched, which give to through a deeper sense, and in this sense for us also the way lies through His flesh” (A. B. Davidson). 94
The protagonist for the interpretation “the way of his flesh” is B. F. Westcott. He found the equation of “veil” with “flesh” unsatisfactory because one would not expect to find the “flesh” of Christ “treated in any way as a veil, an obstacle, to the vision of God in a place where stress is laid on His humanity” and because one would expect a complete parallelism to be preserved “between the description of the approach of Christ to God and the approach of the believer to God.” 95 On the former score, it should suffice to remember, in J. Moffatt’s words, that the expression here “is a daring, poetical touch, and the parallelism is not to be prosaically pressed into any suggestion that the human nature in Jesus hid God from men ‘in the days of his flesh,’ or that he ceased to be truly human when he sacrificed himself.” 96 On the latter score, if our Lord’s “flesh” and his “blood” alike denote his human life offered up in sacrifice, then he who entered into the heavenly sanctuary “by virtue of his own blood” (9:12) may equally well be thought of as entering there through his “flesh.” Since Westcott’s objections to the usual rendering and interpretation do not appear to carry as much weight as he assigned to them, it is better on the whole to take the line more naturally suggested by the word-order and conclude that our author looked upon the veil as symbolizing our Lord’s human life, presented to God when he “suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18).
21 Their confidence in entering the presence of God should be enhanced by the fact that there Jesus fulfils his ministry as “a great priest over God’s house.” The expression “great priest” is the literal rendering of the most common Hebrew title for the high priest; “great” has here comparative or superlative force, denoting “the priest that is great above [i.e., greater than] his brethren” (according to the more literal rendering of Lev. 21:10). 97 “God’s house” over which he exercises his high priesthood is, of course, the community of God’s people (cf. Heb. 3:6). 98
22 “Let us draw near,” our author repeats 99 —near to God, that is. No longer is the privilege of access to him carefully fenced about by conditions like those laid down for the high priest when he made his annual entrance into the holy of holies on the Day of Atonement; the “better hope” of 7:19, “through which we draw near 100 to God,” has now been realized. Naturally such an approach can be made only with sincerity of heart—it is the pure in heart who will see God—and the “full assurance” 101 which faith in God’s word begets. It is of faith like this that our author speaks a little later when he says that “one who approaches God must believe that he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him out” (11:6). But those who have experienced the inward cleansing that Christ’s self-offering has effected may well be marked by sincerity of heart and “faith’s full assurance”; this is what our author means when he speaks of himself and his readers as “having had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” The punctuation of the TR and the ARV, which makes a heavy stop between these two participial phrases, attaching the sprinkling of the heart closely to the preceding exhortation “let us approach” and the washing of the body closely to the following exhortation “let us maintain …,” 102 may be due to the feeling that there is something incongruous in correlating the figurative sprinkling of the heart and the literal washing of the body. The same sense of incongruity has led some expositors to maintain that the washing of the body is as figurative as the sprinkling of the heart, and to deny that it refers to baptism. 103
That the sprinkling of the heart denotes an inward and spiritual cleansing is obvious; it is equally obvious that our author has in mind the counterpart under the new order of the old ritual cleansing with the “water for impurity,” the water prepared with the ashes of the red heifer. 104 He has made this plain by his rhetorical question in 9:13f.: “… the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who have been defiled have sanctifying power as far as bodily cleansing is concerned, how much more will the blood of Christ, who … offered himself to God as an unblemished sacrifice, cleanse our conscience from dead works so as to worship the living God?” Those who make bold to enter the heavenly sanctuary by the blood of Jesus are by that same blood purified and made fit for the divine presence; the cleansing of the conscience removes the barrier which prevented their free access. It is not so clear that the washing of the body with pure water is thought of as having a similar analogue in the Old Testament ceremonial, simply because our author does not stress an analogue to this as he does stress the ritual of the red heifer. He may, however, have thought of the requirement that the priest on the Day of Atonement should “bathe his body in water” (Lev. 16:4) before putting on the linen vestments in which he was to approach God in the holy of holies. 105 But the present reality which he has in mind is most probably Christian baptism—consisting, of course, not merely in the outward application of water, but in the outward application of water as the visible sign of the inward and spiritual cleansing wrought by God in those who come to him through Christ. As we are told again in 1 Pet. 3:21, the baptismal water is not intended to remove bodily impurity but to express “a pledge to God proceeding from a clear conscience.” 106
There is no impossible incongruity here in the collocation of the cleansing which is inward and spiritual (“since our hearts have been sprinkled clean from an evil conscience”) with its outward and visible sign (“since our bodies have been washed with pure water”). 107 A similar collocation of the outward and inward cleansing may be recognized in the Qumran texts. The Qumran community attached great importance to ritual bathing, and there are recurring references in their literature to the “water for impurity.” 108 But a merely external sprinkling or cleansing with water will do a person no good if he cherishes an impenitent and apostate heart. Such a person “cannot be purified by atonement or cleansed with water for impurity. He cannot be sanctified in seas or rivers, or cleansed with any lustral water … It is through an upright and humble spirit that a man’s sin will be expiated, and through his self-submission to all God’s ordinances that his flesh will be cleansed, so that he may have water for impurity sprinkled on him and be sanctified by means of cleansing water.” 109 Behind this passage from the Qumran Rule of the Community, as indeed behind the thought of the writer to the Hebrews and other New Testament writers, we may discern such an Old Testament prophecy as that of Ezek. 36:25f., where the terminology of the ancient ritual ablutions is used to describe God’s inward cleansing of his people in the age of restoration: “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean … A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you.” 110 Those who have received this inward cleansing from God may well enjoy that spiritual nearness to him which is impossible for a polluted conscience.
23 The exhortation is threefold: “let us approach … let us maintain … let us cultivate mutual consideration.” The importance of holding fast the Christian confession has already been emphasized: it is only “if we maintain our confidence and the hope in which we boast” that we are the house of God (3:6); it is only “if we maintain the beginning of our steadfastness firm to the end” that we are partakers or companions of Christ (3:14). The powerful incentive which the knowledge of Christ’s high priesthood provides for firmly maintaining the confession of him has also been stressed (4:14); 111 here it is repeated together with the other incentives which are bound up with his high priesthood, including above all the faithfulness of God whose promises, embodied and fulfilled in Christ, are set forth in the gospel for the encouragement and support of his people. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope,” say ERV/ARV, “that it waver not”—doing justice to the Greek construction in which the adjective “unwavering” agrees with “confession”; 112 but if the confession wavers it is because the confessors waver, and this is brought out by the RSV (“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering”) and the NEB (“Let us be firm and unswerving in the confession of our hope”). Our hope is based on the unfailing promise of God; why should we not cherish it confidently and confess it boldly?
24 The readers will be the more apt to confess their hope courageously and unhesitatingly if they encourage one another. Christian faith and witness will flourish the more vigorously in an atmosphere of Christian fellowship. “We ought to see how each of us may best arouse others to love and active goodness” (NEB). The word “stimulate” (AV/KJV, ERV/ARV “provoke”; RSV “stir up”; NEB “arouse”) is a strong one; 113 it appears in one other place in the New Testament, and there in a very different way, of the “sharp contention” that broke out between Paul and Barnabas when they could not agree on taking Mark with them on a second apostolic visit to Cyprus and South Galatia (Acts 15:39). Perhaps this Greek word paroxysmos, like our English “provocation,” is more commonly used in the unfavorable sense of irritation than in the more pleasant sense used here by our author. It is the former sense that Paul has in mind in 1 Cor. 13:5 when, using the cognate verb paroxynō, he says that love “is not provoked.” 114 But here love is provoked in the sense of being stimulated in the lives of Christians by the considerateness and example of other members of their fellowship.
25 This will never happen, however, if they keep one another at a distance. Therefore, every opportunity of coming together and enjoying their fellowship in faith and hope must be welcomed and used for mutual encouragement. Our author exhorts his readers to continue meeting together the more earnestly because he knows of some who were withdrawing from the Christian fellowship. Paul had urged the Roman Christians to welcome one another for God’s glory, as Christ had welcomed them (Rom. 15:7). But toward the end of the apostolic age we are made aware of a tendency in some quarters to withdraw from the Christian fellowship. “At first and indeed always,” says Harnack, “there were naturally some people who imagined that one could secure the holy contents and blessings of Christianity as one did those of Isis and the Magna Mater, and then withdraw. Or, in cases where people were not so short-sighted, levity, laziness, or weariness were often enough to detach a person from the society. A vainglorious sense of superiority, and of being able to dispense with the spiritual aid of the society, was also the means of inducing many to withdraw from fellowship and from the common worship. Many, too, were actuated by fear of the authorities; they shunned attendance at public worship, to avoid being recognized as Christians.” 115 What appears to have underlain the withdrawal which our author here describes as “the custom of some”?
We may find a clue in the word translated “meeting together.” Basically this is the word which we know in its English form “synagogue,” but here it carries the prefix epi, which in this place may conceivably have the force “in addition,” as though the word were to be translated “episynagogue.” 116 If this meaning were accepted, then we might think of a group of Jewish believers in Jesus who had not yet severed their connection with the synagogue in which they had been brought up, but who in addition to their synagogue services had special meetings of their own in a “Christian appendage to the Jewish synagogue,” as William Manson puts it. 117 In that case, our author fears that the discontinuance of their special Christian meetings will mean their complete merging in the life of the larger Jewish community with the loss of their distinctive Christian faith and outlook. What he would really like to see would be their decisive separation from the synagogue—this is what he means by “let us go out” or “let us come out” in 13:13—but if they are not ready for that, let them, as they value their lives, maintain their common meetings as believers in Jesus and so encourage one another in their common hope.
It may be pointed out, however, that there is no evidence elsewhere for the use of “episynagogue” in a different sense from “synagogue” or “meeting”; 118 and our author may simply be urging his readers not to give up attending the general meeting of the church, as some were doing. 119 Under the various pressures which were being brought to bear upon them, to withdraw from the society of their fellow-believers was to court spiritual defeat; only by remaining united could they preserve their faith and witness.
Instead of growing slack in the practice of their Christian fellowship, they are bidden to encourage one another—“and all the more so, as you see the Day approaching.” It is plain from the closing verses of this chapter that the apparent postponement of the parousia was having its effect on their minds; at least the sense of tension created by the knowledge that they were living in the end-time was weakening. 120 Not only for them, but for their fellow-Christians in many other places, the necessity of coming to terms with the church’s continued existence in history as a community completely separated from Judaism involved an “agonizing reappraisal.” The first generation of believers was passing away; a new generation was growing up. At this point in time other shocks were in store for them: the rather sudden hostility of the imperial power 121 (with which the church had henceforth to live for two and a half centuries) and the destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem.
Before A.D. 70 those Christians who remembered and took seriously Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of the temple were scarcely in a position to keep it distinct in their minds from the final coming of the Son of Man and the ingathering of his elect, which he also foretold. Only after the events of A.D. 70 was it possible to appreciate clearly that two separate epochs were involved in the twofold question of the disciples in the form given to it in Matt. 24:3: “(a) When will this [the destruction of the temple] be? (b) and what will be the sign of your parousia, and of the consummation of the age?” It may be that our author, writing (as we think) before A.D. 70, had the impending fall of Jerusalem and dissolution of the old order in mind when he spoke of “the Day” as approaching. 122 The words “you see the Day approaching” suggest that signs of the impending catastrophe in Judaea were already visible to men and women of discernment; and the fulfilment of that phase of Jesus’ prediction pointed on to the fulfilment of the final phase. Yet for our author, as for the other New Testament writers, “the Day” is primarily the final phase, the day of Christ’s parousia. Whatever was implied by the church’s adaptation in her thought and life to the conditions of a second and further generations of Christian existence in the world, her teachers continued, long after A.D. 70, to emphasize the certainty, and indeed the nearness, of the parousia. The period between the first advent of Christ and his parousia is the end-time, the “last days.” Whatever the duration of the period may be, for faith “the time is near” (Rev. 1:3). Each successive Christian generation is called upon to live as the generation of the end-time, if it is to live as a Christian generation. This being so, “the question is: How can the tension between the eschatological and historical existence of faith be retained over a period of time?” 123 The most satisfactory answer is the Pauline answer which, while given in the first Christian generation, is equally applicable to every Christian generation: “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25)—for the Spirit is the pledge and the firstfruits of the heritage of glory to be entered by believers at the parousia of Christ (cf. Rom. 8:23; Eph. 1:13f.). In keeping with this answer, our author insists that since Christ appeared once for all, “at the end of the ages,” to offer himself to God as the perfect sacrifice for his people’s sin, those who acknowledge him as apostle and high priest have already experienced “mighty works of the coming age” and receive the “kingdom which is unshakable” (Heb. 6:5; 12:27f.). Thus they anticipate here and now the consummation for which they hope; let them hold this hope fast by unswerving loyalty to Christ.
77 Gk. πρόσφατς, etymologically meaning “freshly killed”; the second element in the compound became otiose at an early stage, and the word simply means “new,” “fresh,” “recent” (cf. such LXX occurrences as Eccl. 1:9; Ps. 80:9 [Eng. 81:9]; and the adverb προσφάτως [“lately”] in Acts 18:2).
79 The ARV, following the punctuation of the TR, puts a heavy stop after “evil conscience,” so that the participial construction “having had our hearts sprinkled clean (ρἑραντισμένοι) …” is attached to what precedes; it should be construed closely with the λελουσμένοι clause which follows, both clauses being subordinate to “let us approach” (so the AV/KJV, the ERV, the RSV, and the NEB). The participles are in the middle voice, as is appropriate for initiatory cleansing; cf. βάπτισαι … ἀπόλουσαι in Acts 22:16 and ἀπελούσασθε in 1 Cor. 6:11.
83 Gk. παρρησίαν εἰς τὴν εἴσοδον τῶν ἁγίων (with the expression cf. 9:8, τὴν τῶν ἁγίων ὁδόν).
85 Gk. ἐνεκαίνισεν, “he consecrated or dedicated.” See J. Behm, TDNT, III, p. 454 (s.v. ἐγκαινίζω); also W. Michaelis, TDNT, V, pp. 75–78 (s.v. ὁδός). “The death of Christ is seen as the new Encaenia or Dedication,” says J. A. T. Robinson, adding that two ideas appear to be combined here, the Cross marking the dedication both of the new covenant—for “even the first covenant has not been dedicated (ἐνκεκαίνισται) without blood” (9:18)—and of the new temple (cf. the technical term ἐνκαίνια in John 10:22); “the whole argument of chapters 9 and 10 leads to the climax that Jesus has now ‘opened’ the new sanctuary in the temple of his body” (Twelve New Testament Studies [London, 1962], p. 172). See also O. Hofius, “Inkarnation und Opfertod Jesu nach Hebr 10, 19f.,” in Der Ruf Jesu und die Antwort der Gemeinde (J. Jeremias FS), ed. E. Lohse (Göttingen, 1970), pp. 132–41.
87 With διὰ τοῦ καταπετάσματς here cf. τὸ δεύτερον καταπέτασμα in 9:3 (and the earlier instance of καταπέτασμα in the same sense in 6:19). In the LXX καταπέτασμα is sometimes used for the outer screen (Ex. 26:37; 38:18; Num. 3:26), but regularly for the inner curtain or pārōkeṯ—“the inmost curtain” (τὸ ἐσωτάτω καταπέτασμα), as Philo calls it (Giants 53). See p. 199, n. 14.
88 This is the majority view; however, it has been identified with the outer veil by Jerome and Thomas Aquinas and also by G. Dalman, E. Klostermann, A. H. McNeile, B. T. D. Smith, E. Lohmeyer, etc. (see the list in V. Taylor, The Gospel according to St. Mark [London, 1952], p. 596).
89 Other portents associated with the temple are recorded for A.D. 30 and other occasions in the forty years preceding its destruction in A.D. 70 in Josephus (War 6.288–309), Tacitus (Hist. 5.13), The Gospel according to the Hebrews (quoted by Jerome, Epistle 120.8.1) and the Jerusalem Talmud (Yoma 6.5.3); it does not appear that the rending of the veil can be identified with any of these. But see H. W. Montefiore, “Josephus and the New Testament,” NovT 4 (1960), pp. 139–60, 307–18 (esp. pp. 148–54). The rending of the veil has nothing to do with the legend that the veil bled when Titus slashed it with his sword (TB Giṭṭin 56b).
90 Cf. C. H. Dodd, The Apostolic Preaching and its Developments (London, 1944), p. 51; G. Lindeskog, Coniectanea Neotestamentica 11 (1947), pp. 132ff.; R. H. Lightfoot, The Gospel Message of St. Mark (Oxford, 1950), pp. 55f.
92 If they qualify “the veil,” the genitive τῆς σαρκός in τοῦτʼ ἒστιν τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ may be taken either as genitive in apposition with τοῦ καταπετάσματς (“the veil, that is, his flesh”) or as genitive in dependence on τοῦ καταπετάσματς (“the veil, that is, [the veil] of his flesh”). If they qualify “new and living way,” τῆς σαρκός can only be taken as genitive in dependence on ὁδόν (“new and living way, that is, [the way] of his flesh”).
93 So J. Moffatt (ICC, ad loc.): “He allegorizes the veil here as the flesh of Christ; this had to be rent before the blood could be shed, which enabled him to enter and open God’s presence for the people.” Similarly N. H. Young, “Τοῦτʼ ἒστιν τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ (Heb. 10:20): Apposition, Dependent or Explicative?” NTS 20 (1973–74), pp. 100–104: “the grammatical grounds for taking τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ as an appositional explicative to καταπέτασμα are coercive”; if some balk at this conclusion, it is mainly because of the “daring, poetical touch” (J. Moffatt), but “provided one is sober in one’s exegesis the ‘poetic touch’ makes a sublime addition.”
95 The Epistle to the Hebrews, p. 322. A. Nairne finds that Westcott’s interpretation “does make the whole sentence consistent and is probably right” (The Epistle of Priesthood [Edinburgh, 1913], p. 381). Cf. also H. W. Montefiore, HNTC, ad loc. Westcott indicates that the construction favored by him is that followed by Tyndale (“by the newe and livynge waye, which he hath prepared for vs, through the vayle, that is to saye by his flesshe”) and other earlier English versions (cf. Coverdale, Great Bible, Geneva Bible). But their use of “by” before “his flesh” may perhaps not be resumptive of “by” before “the new and living way” but intended rather to indicate that the preposition διά has a different sense in the phrase “through (or by) his flesh” from that which it has in “through the veil”; cf. A. B. Davidson’s remark in the quotation above on the deepening of the meaning of “through.”
97 RSV “the priest who is chief among his brethren”; LXX ὁ ιἑρεὺς ὁ μέγας ἀπὸ τῶν ἀδελφῶν αὐτοῦ. In Num. 35:25, 28, we have the simple phrase hakkōhēn haggāḏōl, LXX ὁ ιἑρεὺς ὁ μέγας, lit. “the great priest,” ARV “the high priest,” as also in Zech. 3:1, 9; 6:11, where Joshua (LXX Jesus) is so designated (cf. p. 109, n. 28; p. 116, n. 68).
99 From 4:16.
100 In 7:19 the verb is ἐγγίζω; here and elsewhere in the epistle προσέρχομαι is the verb used for approaching God.
101 So the AV/KJV, the RSV, and the NEB rightly render πληροφορία here (the πληροφορία of faith here differs but little, if at all, from the πληροφορία of hope in 6:11).
104 Cf. also the “water of expiation” (Heb. mê ḥaṭṭāʾṯ) sprinkled on the Levites in Num. 8:7.
105 Cf. also Ex. 29:4 (cf. 40:12), where the priests at their hallowing are washed at the door of the tent of meeting; Num. 19:7f., where the priest who supervises the burning of the red heifer and the man who burns her must wash their bodies and their clothes. With the wording of this clause (“having had our bodies washed with pure water”) A. Nairne (Epistle of Priesthood, p. 381) compares Aeschylus, fragment 32: καλοῖσι λουτροῖς ἐκλελουμένος δέμας / εἰς ὑψίκρημνον Ἰμέραν ἀφικόμην.
107 The purificatory “sprinkling” of the heart and conscience “is put first, though the body had also its place and part in the cleansing experience. The καρδία and the σῶμα are a full, plastic expression for the entire personality, as the ancients conceived it” (J. Moffatt, ad loc.). The sprinkling (by the blood of Christ, according to 9:14; cf. 12:24) and the washing are both denoted here by means of perfect participles; they are once-for-all and unrepeatable acts with abiding effects.
110 In the LXX the “clean water” of Ezek. 36:25 is καθαρὸν ὕδωρ, as here. Cf. also John 3:5, where the new birth ἐξ ὕδατος καὶ πνεύματς probably alludes to the water of Ezek. 36:25 and the spirit (wind or breath) of Ezek. 36:26f.; 37:9f. In Mark 1:8 the two are divided: John the Baptist applies the water; the Coming One will baptize with the Holy Spirit.
114 “Love … is not irritable” (RSV). There is one further NT instance of παροξύνω in Acts 17:16, where Paul’s “spirit was provoked within him” (NEB “exasperated”) at the spectacle of so many “idols” in Athens.
115 A. Harnack, Mission and Expansion of Christianity, E.T. (London, 1908), I, pp. 434f. On his last point he quotes in a footnote Tertullian, On Flight in Persecution 3; on the general necessity of Christians’ coming together and seeking one another’s society he refers to Clement of Rome, Epistle 48:1ff.; Didachē 4:2; Hermas, Similitude 9.20, 26; Ep.-Barn. 4:10; Ignatius, Ephesians 13:1, Polycarp 4:2, Magnesians 4; Justin, First Apology 67. Cf. Didascalia 13: “When you teach, command and remind the people to be constant in the assembly of the church.” M. Dibelius (“Der himmlische Kultus nach dem Hebräerbrief,” Theologische Blätter 21 , pp. 2f.) assigns the falling off in attendance at the church’s meetings to a waning of early enthusiasm; similarly H. Köster, P. Vielhauer, and W. Marxsen, as cited by H. Feld, Der Hebräerbrief (Darmstadt, 1985), p. 9. In the NT the tendency to withdrawal is especially manifest on the part of those who embraced forms of teaching deviating from what had been taught from the beginning (cf. 1 John 2:19, 24). Cf. Heb. 3:13 (pp. 100f.).
116 Gk. ἐπισυναγωγή, appearing once elsewhere in the NT—“our gathering together to him” (2 Thess. 2:1), where, however, the prefix ἐπι- may have directive force, anticipating πρὸς αὐτόν.
119 W. Manson suggests that the ERV reading of 4:2, “they were not united by faith with them that heard” (see p. 103, n. 4) implies that “the Christian group at Rome whom the author addresses was separating itself off in the matter of ‘faith’ from the true believing body of the Church” (Hebrews, p. 58). This reading of 4:2 might indeed be applicable to the people who are being addressed, but it would scarcely be applicable to Israel in the wilderness, of whom the words are explicitly spoken. Quite apart from that vexed textual crux, we could well visualize the community here addressed as members of a “house church” in Rome which tended to detach itself from the wider fellowship of the city church.
120 Cf. L. Goppelt, “The Existence of the Church in History according to Apostolic and Early Catholic Thought,” Current Issues in New Testament Interpretation: Essays in Honor of Otto A. Piper, ed. W. Klassen and G. F. Snyder (New York, 1962), pp. 193–209.
121 How sudden the overt hostility of the imperial power was may be gathered from the language of 1 Peter: in 1 Pet. 3:13 “who is he that will harm you if you be zealous of that which is good?” implies that the situation of Rom. 13:3f., several years earlier, still continues; in 1 Pet. 3:14 suffering for righteousness’ sake is a remote possibility, as the use of the optative mood shows (“even if you were to suffer …”); but in 1 Pet. 4:12–19 the fiery trial is imminent, and suffering as a Christian, enduring reproach for the name of Christ, is no longer a remote possibility but a matter of present and certain expectation.