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July 23, 2014
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July 23, 2014
Verses Which On The Surface Seem To Not Support Once Saved Always Saved Doctrine, Hebrews 10:26-27, A Marvellous Book, The Old Testament Priesthood And Rituals Were Symbolic Of What Jesus Would Accomplish During The First Century, Jesus Is Our High Priest Intercessor And Mediator, Jesus Is The Final Sacrifice Who Was Offered Up One Time For All Sins, Holy Of Holies And Related Phrases, Authorship Of Epistles To Romans And Hebrews, Facts Which Point Towards Paul Being Author Of The Epistle To The Hebrews, Timothy's Involvement, Paul's Background As A Pharisee And A Hebrew, Travels Of The Patriarch Abraham, History And Genealogy of Hebrew Nation, To Whom Is The Epistle To The Hebrews Directed?, The Misguided Practice Of A Redirected Audience, Hebrews Israelites Jews, A Vision For The People Of Our Own Time, Paul's Audience Was Actually The Unbelieving Jews In The Epistle To The Hebrews, Paul's Passion For His Hebrew Brethren, Paul Establishes A Connection Between Jewish Priesthood And Christ's Sacrifice Paul Endeavors To Take Away The Veil From Blind Jews' Eyes
Because they reject the Scriptures which clearly point to the fact that our Salvation cannot be lost once we obtain it through our faith in the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the fact that Believers in Christ are sealed by the Spirit until the Day of Redemption, the people who embrace this misguided mentality, and who thus reject the "Once Saved, Always Saved" doctrine, find themselves in a predicament. As a result, they are forced to pick and choose certain verses from the Bible, which on the surface seem to support their wayward position. In their endeavor to defend and sustain their belief, one set of verses which are often mentioned by such Christians are the following:
"For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."
Hebrews 10:26-27, KJV
Let me begin by saying that the Epistle to the Hebrews is a marvellous work. It is a very in-depth and scholarly letter which clearly reveals the author's profound understanding of the symbolism which was hidden in the various rituals which were performed under the Covenant of the Old Testament, and how it all relates to everything which was accomplished by Jesus Christ under the Covenant of the New Testament.
I will readily admit that when I first became aware of those two verses a number of years ago, I did find them troubling. In fact, because I did not properly understand them at that particular time, they did cast a degree of doubt in my mind regarding the sustainability of the "Once Saved Always Saved" doctrine. However, God and His Holy Spirit are faithful; and as I continued to delve into the Scriptures, and asked the Lord for understanding, I came to see how those two verses -- as well as a number of others -- have been misunderstood by many modern Christians.
If you are familiar with the contents of the Epistle to the Hebrews, you will know that one of its main themes is that the Old Testament priesthood -- and all of the services and sacrifices that were associated with it -- was a physical reflection of what Jesus would come to do during the First Century. In other words, as I point out in articles such as "Is Jesus the Only Begotten Son of God?", Jesus became the Final Sacrifice for sin, as well as our High Priest and Intercessor before God the Father. Following are a group of verses which support the latter two points:
"For verily he [Jesus] took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people."
Hebrews 2:16-17, KJV
"Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;"
Hebrews 3:1, KJV
"Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
Hebrews 4:14-15, KJV
"Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."
Hebrews 6:20, KJV
"Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;"
Hebrews 8:1, KJV
"But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;"
Hebrews 9:11, KJV
"Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."
Romans 8:34, KJV
"Wherefore he [Jesus] is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."
Hebrews 7:25, KJV
As I amply explain in the aforementioned series, while the Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament era had to enter the Holy of Holies -- that is, the inner part of the Temple that was located behind the veil -- once a year in order to atone for the sins of the people, as we learn in Hebrews, as well as from a few other verses that are found in the New Testament, Jesus died one time for the sins of the entire world. As I said a minute ago, He became the Final Sacrifice for sin, as well as our Mediator. Consider these verses:
"Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin ONCE: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God."
Romans 6:9-10, KJV
"For such an high priest [meaning Jesus] became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did ONCE, when he offered up himself."
Hebrews 7:26-27, KJV
"But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in ONCE into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us . . . For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now ONCE in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself . . . So Christ was ONCE offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Hebrews 9:11-12, 24-26, 28,KJV
"By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE for all."
Hebrews 10:10, KJV
"For Christ also hath ONCE suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:"
1 Peter 3:18, KJV
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;"
1 Timothy 2:5, KJV
"But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises."
Hebrews 8:6, KJV
"And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance."
Hebrews 9:15, KJV
"And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel."
Hebrews 12:24, KJV
On a side note, it may interest you to know that the actual phrase "Holy of Holies" is not found anywhere in the King James Version of the Bible. This term was apparently adopted later on in history. In the Scriptures, the actual phrases which were used to describe the innermost sanctuary of the Tabernacle where the Ark of the Covenant was located -- and later the same place in the Temple as well -- include "the most holy place", "the holy place within the vail", "the oracle", "the inner house", "the most holy house" and "the holy place".
At this point, you may possibly be wondering how all of this information relates to Hebrews 10:26-27, and why it is even important to our current discussion. Well, quite frankly, it is very important; because if we do not properly understand all of this background information concerning the amazing symbolic connection between the rituals of the Old Testament priesthood, and what Jesus accomplished in the New Testament, neither will we understand what is being said in those two verses. It seems to me that this is precisely the problem with those Christians who believe that Hebrews 10:26-27 is saying that we can lose our Salvation after coming to know Jesus Christ. Let me refresh your memory by quoting those two verses again:
"For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."
Hebrews 10:26-27, KJV
The first key to unraveling the true meaning of these verses is in understanding who the "we" is in the first verse, and also to whom this Epistle is directed. As I have mentioned before, while there is some debate regarding the authorship of this letter -- ancient scholarship became convinced that it was written by Paul, while modern scholarship has moved away from that position and says that the authorship is not knowable -- personally, I lean towards the belief that the Epistle to the Hebrews was written by the Apostle Paul. In my opinion, this Epistle has the same scholarly tone as the Epistle to the Romans, which is likewise a magnificent work.
It is evident that the Epistle to the Romans was obviously addressed to the brethren in Rome, and that it was dictated by the Apostle Paul in Corinth to a Disciple named Tertius, and was then delivered to the brethren in Rome by a sister named Phebe, who was a member of the Church that had been established at Cenchrea. According to Thayer's Greek English Lexicon, Cenchrea was the eastern harbor of Corinth. All of these points can be easily proven by the following verses:
"Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ"
Romans 1:1-7, KJV
"I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord."
Romans 16:22, KJV
To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen. [Written to the Romans from Corinthus, and sent by Phebe servant of the church at Cenchrea.]"
Romans 16:27, KJV
I admire the Epistle to the Romans just as much as I enjoy the Epistle to the Hebrews. They are both masterful works. In Romans, the Apostle Paul launches into various powerful discourses which cover such themes as the nature of the true Jew, our battles against the sinful flesh and the old man, the bondage of the Law and works versus the Grace of God through Jesus Christ, and the Salvation of Israel. It may be considered heavy reading by certain people, but it is very thought-provoking, and it clearly reveals that as a former Pharisee, the Apostle Paul was strongly grounded in the Scriptures, and he certainly knew what he was talking about.
As I mentioned earlier, the authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews is more ambiguous. In fact, it has been debated for literally centuries. Unlike the introductory verses which can be found at the beginning of the Epistle to the Romans where Paul clearly identifies himself as the author, we don't find any such verses in the introduction to the Epistle to the Hebrews. Neither do we find Paul's name mentioned anywhere else in this Epistle. The only identifiable information that we do have which may possibly help to point us to the author of this Epistle is the following, which can be found in the final verses of chapter thirteen:
"Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you. Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you. Grace be with you all. Amen. [Written to the Hebrews from Italy, by Timothy.]"
Hebrews 13:23-25, KJV
In reading the previous verses, we need to realize that they are not saying that Timothy is the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Just as Tertius wrote the Epistle to the Romans for the Apostle Paul, the previous verses are also stating that Timothy wrote the Epistle as it was dictated to him by someone else. It is that someone else who says "I will see you". It is also that someone else who writes in the third person when he addresses Timothy as "our brother". As I said earlier, given the high level of scholarship and the in-depth knowledge that is revealed in the Epistle to the Hebrews, I lean towards the belief that it was authored by the Apostle Paul, who dictated it to Timothy. If you wish to disagree, that is fine, because the identity of the author has little bearing on the main points that I wish to make here.
Another point to consider is the fact that this Epistle was written to the Hebrews from somewhere in Italy. This point is revealing, because not only was Paul in Rome on several occasions, but we also know that Timothy -- or Timotheus -- was a close and constant traveling companion of the Apostle Paul. Furthermore, Paul considered him a very dear son in the faith. Finally, as I have mentioned before, Timothy in fact became the first bishop of Ephesus, as we see here:
"The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen. [The second epistle unto Timotheus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Ephesians, was written from Rome, when Paul was brought before Nero the second time.]"
2 Timothy 4:22, KJV
So what we see then is that the Epistle to the Romans was written by Paul -- via Tertius -- from Corinth, while the Epistle to the Hebrews was possibly written by Paul -- via Timothy -- from somewhere in Italy, possibly meaning Rome. Please note, however, that Rome is never mentioned anywhere in the Epistle to the Hebrews, so it is a guess on my part. Both Epistles are very scholarly, and delve into issues which would require a person with a deep understanding of the history, laws, beliefs and rituals of the Jewish nation. In other words, the author would more than likely have to have been a Jew himself. The Apostle Paul would have met this criteria, being as he was a former Pharisee who had been instructed under Gamaliel, as we see by these verses:
"I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day."
Acts 22:3, KJV
"But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question."
Acts 23:6, KJV
"Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee."
Acts 26:5, KJV
"Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless."
Philippians 3:4-6, KJV
Please note that in the last set of verses, the Apostle Paul refers to himself as "an Hebrew of the Hebrews". Naturally, because Paul was a Hebrew, he spoke and wrote fluent Hebrew. Furthermore, when Jesus spoke to Paul as he traveled on the road to Damascus, He communicated with him in Hebrew. These points are again verified by the following set of verses:
"And when he had given him [Paul] licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,"
Acts 21:40, KJV
"(And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)"
Acts 22:2, KJV
"And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks."
Acts 26:14, KJV
Thus we see additional circumstantial evidence which strongly supports my view that Paul may very well be the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews.
Now it's time to get down to the meat of the matter regarding Hebrews 10:26-27. Paul has just spent ten chapters explaining in considerable detail the amazing and symbolic relationship between the Old Testament Levitical priesthood, and the life, work and mission of Jesus Christ during the First Century AD. Just as he did in his Epistle to the Romans, Paul has gone to great lengths to convince his audience of his views. Why has he done this, and exactly who is Paul's audience? Who is the "we" in the phrase "For if we sin wilfully"? Obviously, it is none other than Paul's very own biological brethren, the seed of Abraham, who were also known as the Hebrews. After all, is that not the name which has been assigned to this Epistle?
You see, as I point out in the article entitled "One From Beyond: Hebrew of Hebrews", the word "Hebrew" signifies "one from beyond". It is in fact derived from the Old Testament name Eber -- also spelled "Heber" -- who was an ancestor of Abraham. "Eber" means "the region beyond". Furthermore, Abram is the first person in the Old Testament of the KJV Bible who is referred to as a Hebrew. Not only was Abraham descended from Heber, but as you may recall, Abraham and his family did in fact come to Canaan from the region beyond. They came from Ur of the Chaldees -- which today is a part of southern Iraq -- traveled up to Haran -- now a part of Turkey -- and then Abraham continued on with his wife Sarah and his nephew, Lot, to the land of Canaan. Consider this verse where Abraham is first called a Hebrew:
"And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram."
Genesis 14:13, KJV
For those of you who may possibly be interested in this kind of information, following is the genealogical record from Noah to Jacob, the latter of whom became the father of the Twelve Tribes of Israel:
Abram (later known as Abraham)
Jacob (later known as Israel)
While the Epistle to the Hebrews does not say exactly where these Hebrews were located to whom Paul was addressing his letter, it is my impression that this Epistle may possibly have been a general communication to the entire nation of Israel of the First Century. Some sources state that it may have been specifically directed to the Jewish Christians who were living in Jerusalem. I have some doubts regarding this possibility, which I will explain momentarily. The key point I would like for you to consider here is that, in my opinion, when Paul says "For if we sin wilfully", he is not talking to us Christians two thousand years in his far future.
As I mention in articles such as "Psalm 83 War False Doctrine Exposed!", that is one of the problems with certain people who teach the Scriptures today. They take certain prophecies, events and words that are directed to and concern people who lived two thousand years ago or longer, and they perform this "magical act" so that said verses are suddenly interpreted as being directed to and talking about us today, when sometimes that is not the case whatsoever. In many cases, if we want to know who a certain Book, Epistle or Prophecy is directed to, all we have to do is look at its name, or read some of its opening verses, in order to find the answer. If we took the time to follow this practice, we would soon discover that many of the things which we have been told apply to us today, really do not apply to us at all, or at least very little.
At any rate, as I have already made clear to you, all of the evidence suggests that the Epistle to the Hebrews was written by someone who was very Jewish, and that it was addressed to people who would fully understand the historical events which are described in the letter; meaning the Hebrews -- or Jews -- themselves. Now, if we wish to adopt a rigid and technical position, we must recognize that the Jews were those people who were only descended from the tribe of Judah, who along with the tribe of Benjamin, received the area around the city of Jerusalem in central Israel as their part of the promised inheritance.
In short, we can say that all Twelve Tribes were Hebrews and Israelites -- being descended from Heber, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or Israel -- but not all tribes were Jews in a very technical sense. However, as I have mentioned before, with the passage of time, the term "Jew" came to be applied to all of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who lived in Israel, or elsewhere, and who likewise practiced the Jewish faith.
But to reiterate my earlier point, it appears to me that the Apostle Paul was not directing his words in Hebrews 10:26-27 beginning with "For if we sin wilfully" to modern Christians who live two thousand years in his far future, as certain preachers and Bible teachers have proposed. Let me ask you a question. Have you thought about, or are you seriously concerned about people who may live two thousand years in our own future? Probably not. Your primary concern is with the people who live in the here and now. You want to reach them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, correct? So would the Apostle Paul have felt any differently in his own time? Yes, he clearly had a vision for people who would be saved in the future; but his immediate concern was with the people of his own time, and in particular, with his own Hebrew brethren. After all, this is in fact the Epistle to the Hebrews we are discussing here.
Furthermore, as I will now explain, I am not convinced that the author of Hebrews was directing his words to the saved Christians of the First Century either. After all, having already embraced Christ, they were more than likely already aware of the things which were being taught in the Epistle to the Hebrews. They already recognized Jesus as the Final Atonement for sin. They knew that Jesus was their one and only Mediator, Intercessor and High Priest. They understood how Jesus was the final fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament. They did not need these things explained to them in such detail; but there was someone else who most certainly did.
Based on these points, I believe that in the aforementioned verses, the Apostle Paul was making a general statement, and in fact issuing a stern warning, regarding unsaved Hebrews -- or Jews -- who lived during that era; because they were the ones who did not yet understand the things which we have just discussed. Earlier in this series, I asked you why Paul was going into such detail regarding the customs of the Old Testament Jewish priesthood, followed by explaining how it all relates to Christ's mission on Earth. Why was he making such a great effort to reach his audience, and trying so hard to convince them at that particular point in his life?
As we have already seen, the Apostle Paul was very zealous regarding his newfound faith. Furthermore, despite their own stubbornness and hard-heartedness, Paul possessed a passion for reaching his Hebrew brethren with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Just as the Epistle to the Romans is an excellent discourse regarding the penalty of sin, and demonstrates the sharp contrast between Law and Grace, and flesh and Spirit, as we have already discussed, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, Paul spends ten chapters trying to help his Hebrew brethren to understand the clear connection between the practices of the Levitical priesthood, and the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. He is endeavoring to tear down the veil which still covers many of their eyes, which he even mentions in these verses:
"Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away."
2 Corinthians 3:12-16, KJV
"For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in."
Romans 11:25, KJV
Please go to part three for the conclusion of this series.
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