PARTLY, BY BEING MADE A PUBLIC SPECTACLE THROUGH REPROACHES AND
TRIBULATIONS: touto men oneidismois te kai thlipsesin theatrizomenoi (PPPMPN):
(He 11:36; Ps 71:7; Nah 3:6; Zech 3:8; 1Co 4:9) (He 11:26; 13:13; Ps
69:9; 74:22; 79:12; 89:51; Is 51:7; 2Co 12:10)
Partly - He is beginning to
explain some of the great conflict of sufferings they had
endured. Do we all not derive some comfort from knowing that
others understand the difficulties we have (or are) experiencing.
Being made a public spectacle
from theatron; our English word "theater") means to bring upon the stage, to set forth as a
spectacle, and in this context to expose to contempt or derision. It is notable
that common criminals were sometimes exposed and punished in the theater.
Similar action was literally carried out in the case of Christians who
exposed to wild beasts in the Roman coliseum. On the other hand Jewish
believers were not so much exposed to lions (some may have been
exposed in Rome) but to reproaches and tribulations.
means to hold
up to derision as if being placed on a stage in the theater to be put to
shame and humiliated in front of others. Perhaps this has happened to
you as non-believing workers or relatives came to realize you shared a
radically different worldview from theirs. When we are treated is this
manner, is when we need to take up the shield of faith to fend off
these hurtful words and actions of unbelievers. This is when we need
to walk by faith not sight, in order that we might envision our
promised future reward and might recall to our mind that Jesus is coming soon and that His reward is with Him (Rev 22:12-note).
We need to recall that
that those who endure reproach for His name down here will be abundantly recompensed
by Him up there (Mt 5:10,11,12-note). So the writer cheers them
on by recalling to their
mind specific afflictions they have suffered in their stand for Christ.
is related to theatron which described the place where drama and
other public spectacles were exhibited and where the people convened
to hear debates or hold public consultations
theatron in describing treatment he endured for the sake of the
Name of Christ...
For, I think, God has exhibited us
apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have
become a spectacle (theatron) to the world, both to angels and
to men. (1Co 4:9)
This section reminds one of Peter's
words describing the path on which believers are to walk...
For you have been called for this
purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example (hupogrammos)
for you to follow in His steps, 22 WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR
WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; (Now Peter describes that "path")
23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while
suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him
who judges righteously (1Pe 2:21, 22, 23-note)
when someone from a strong Jewish
family embraces Jesus as the Messiah, he often is made a
spectacle-ridiculed and rejected by all of his friends and
family...These new believers (Referring to the first century Jews who
received Jesus as Messiah) suffered “by being made a public
spectacle through reproaches.” Why put up with that? Why not just
blend in with the crowd? Why not laugh at the same dirty jokes? Why
not be one of the guys? Because their new focus was not on pleasing
people, but God, who examines the heart (1Th 2:4-note;
He 10:38, “no pleasure”). Worldly people live for the acclaim of
others. They want people to like them, and so their focus is on making
a good impression. But those who have been rescued from sin by the
crucified and risen Savior live to please Him.
= to defame, find fault in a way that demeans another [used in Mt 5:11-note]
in turn derived
from oneidos = disgrace, insult, [used in Lk 1:25]) is a noun which is an expression of rebuke or disapproval
and means to
insult, abuse or disgrace. The idea in the present passage is that the insult or reviling represents unjustifiable
verbal abuse inflicted on the readers because of their choice of Jesus
(the Gospel of grace) over Moses (the works of the Law). Unjust
The suffering the readers are enduring places them in good company,
for the writer uses oneidismos later in his description of
Moses who considered...
reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for
he was looking to the reward. (He 11:26-note)
Comment: Don't miss the fact that Moses earthly choices were
motivated by "heavenly vision".
Lord, give us all a "Moses like" vision of Thy coming Kingdom that
we might be enabled to endure for Thy Name's sake. Amen
In his closing words the writer used oneidismos of
Jesus in the form of an "invitation" or exhortation...
us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. (He
Comment: Clearly here oneidismos describes the “disgrace”
which Jesus bore at His is crucifixion.
of these believers in Hebrews 10 is in a sense a fulfillment of
Jesus' "prophetic" warning to His disciples (this includes you and me
If the world hates you, you know
that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the
world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the
world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates
you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater
than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you;
if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things
they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the
One who sent Me. (Jn 15:18, 19, 20, 21)
Comment: No one enjoys being
"hated" but Jesus clearly states that is the lot of all true
believers! Forewarned is forearmed!
- 5x in 5v - Ro 15:3-note;
1 Ti 3:7; Heb 10:33-note;
is used much more in the OT (49x in the non-apocryphal
Septuagint). You might take a moment and observe a few of these
interesting OT uses. Josh 5:9; 1Sa 25:39; Neh 1:3; 4:4; 5:9; Ps
15:3; 69:7, 9f, 19f; 74:22; 79:12; 89:50; 119:39; Isa 4:1; 37:3;
43:28; 47:3; 51:7; Jer 6:10; 12:13; 15:15; 20:8; 23:40; 24:9; 25:9;
31:19; 42:18; 44:8, 12; 49:13; 51:51; Lam 3:30, 61; 5:1; Ezek 21:28;
34:29; 36:6, 15, 30; Dan 9:2, 16; 11:18; 12:2; Hos 12:14; Joel 2:19;
Zeph 2:8; 3:18
THE early Christians had to suffer
for their faith. They were exposed to great ridicule and enmity: they
were, indeed, the by-word, the laughing-stock, and the derision of all
mankind. There are still to be seen in Rome, in the praetorian
guard-room, caricatures of Christians and of their Lord. I dare not
mention what they are, but they are so insulting to everything which
we hold dear that they remain as lasting evidence that Christians were
counted as the off scouring of all things for the sake of Jesus their
crucified Savior. Nor did it end in ridicule: they were deprived of
their goods. Ruinous fines were exacted from them. They were driven
from city to city, and not thought worthy to dwell among the sons of
men. They were made a spectacle to all men, both in their lives and
deaths. Very frequently they were not put to death as other condemned
persons were, but their execution was attended with circumstances of
cruelty and scorn, which made it still harder to bear: they were
daubed with pitch, and set up in the gardens of Nero to be burned
alive to light that tyrant’s debaucheries, or taken to the
amphitheater, there to fight with beasts, and to be torn in pieces.
Everything that could be invented that was at once degrading and cruel
their persecutors devised for them: malice exhausted its ingenuity
upon believers in Christ. Yet there was never a braver race of
men. “Men,” did I say? Why, the women were as brave as their
brethren. The name of such women as Blandina will remain in
everlasting recollection. Set in a hot iron chair, tormented with
whips, or tossed upon the horns of bulls, such heroines showed no
cowardice. The tenderness of their sex only increased the glory of the
courage with which they adhered to their Master under torments
unutterable. The despised sect wearied out a long succession of Roman
emperors. Those despots passed edict upon edict, each one more
ferocious than its predecessor, in order to exterminate the followers
of the Nazarene; but the more they persecuted them the more they
multiplied, and instead of hiding themselves they came boldly to the
courts of the magistrates, confessing Christ, and defying death.
Never was the victory of patience
more complete than in the early church. The anvil broke the hammer by
bearing all the blows that the hammer could place upon it. The
patience of the saints was stronger than the cruelty of tyrants.
Christ them, the immortal Christ, was stronger than all the pangs of
death, and they triumphed though they were slain. Truly did the
apostle say, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through
him that loved us.” The secret reason for the triumph of Christians
in those circumstances was their confidence in Christ. Brethren and
sisters, we are not subjected to the like persecution, and it will not
do for us to wrap ourselves about with the garments of our ancestors
and to say that Christians are this and that, as though we were to be
honored without enduring trial. Yet, remember, there are still
conflicts for you. If you be real Christians you will have to endure
the trial of cruel mockings. In some cases family ties are the source
of far greater sorrow than comfort: truly is it written, “A man’s
foes shall be they of his own household.” The coming of the gospel
into a man’s heart has often rendered him the object of hatred to
those who loved him before. In his own house, and in society abroad,
the Christian working man has at this day to run the gauntlet much
more severely than some suppose; and in almost every sphere of life
the genuine Christian meets with the “cold shoulder” and the sneer,
and sometimes with cruel misrepresentation and slander; for, until the
hearts of men are changed, persecution in some form or other will
continue. Those that are bow after the flesh will always persecute
those that are born after the Spirit.
For us, then, our only defense is
holy confidence — the confidence which sustained the martyrs, and to
us Paul speaks as well as unto them. “Cast not away therefore your
confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.” (Hebrews 10:35 Hold Fast Your Shield
[word study] from thlibo
= to crush, press together, squash, hem in, compress, squeeze in turn
derived from thláo = to break) originally expressed sheer,
physical pressure on a man. Thlipsis is a strong term which does not
refer to minor inconveniences, but to real hardships.
was used of the pulse (pressure). It also described a pressing
together as one would do with a bunch of grapes. Thlipsis conveys the
idea of being squeezed or placed under pressure or crushed beneath a
weight. When, according to the ancient law of England, those who
willfully refused to plead guilty, had heavy weights placed on their
breasts, and were pressed and crushed to death, this was literally
thlipsis. The iron cage was stenochoria (see below).
Thlipsis thus refers
not to mild discomfort but to great difficulty.
Morris rightly notes that...
No one likes troubles of this kind,
but they may be seen as difficulties to be overcome, as ways of
opening up new possibilities. One who sees them in this light glories
in them. (Ed: Methinks glorying in troubles requires the
enablement of the Holy Spirit!)
Whatever virtues tribulation finds
us in, it develops more fully. If anyone is carnal, weak, blind,
wicked, irascible, haughty, and so forth, tribulation will make him
more carnal, weak, blind, wicked and irritable. On the other hand, if
one is spiritual, strong, wise, pious, gentle and humble, he will
become more spiritual, powerful, wise, pious, gentle and humble.
believers need to read God's OT word of encouragement...
Listen to Me, you who know
righteousness, a people in whose heart is My law (An unequivocal
description of a believer in the New Covenant -Ps 37:31 40:8 Jer
31:33,34 2Co 3:3 He10:16-note
cp Ro 6:17-note).
Do not fear the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their
revilings. (Isaiah 51:7) (Why
not fear? Read the
explanation in context = Isa 51:8, cp Ro 12:19-note)
We would all do
well to emulate/imitate the approach of Paul who said...
Therefore (because of the truth of
I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with
distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties,
for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2Co12:10-note)
The truth be
known, tribulations have the effect of demonstrating what is really on the
inside of one's heart. For example in Matthew 13:21, Jesus said that when "pressing
circumstances" come because of the Word and there is no root (in
Christ), that person will immediately (not a slow process) fall away
(literally "be scandalized").
warning coupled with an encouragement Jesus declared...
These things I have spoken to you,
so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation,
but take courage; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
“Through many tribulations we must
enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22b)
In Romans Paul
gives this encouragement regarding tribulations...
And not only this, but we also
exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about
and perseverance, proven character (dokime);
and proven character, hope (elpis);
Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all
day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Ro 8:36-note
F. F. Bruce draws from the ancient Roman writer Tacitus’ Annals
to describe the public persecutions which were on the horizon...
Their death … was made a matter of sport: they were covered in wild beasts’
skins and torn to pieces by dogs; or were fastened to crosses and set on
fire in order to serve as torches by night when daylight failed (Tacitus,
AND PARTLY BY BECOMING SHARERS WITH THOSE WHO WERE SO TREATED: touto de
koinonoi ton houtos anastrephomenon (PPPMPG) genethentes:
(Philippians 1:7; 4:14; 1Th 2:14; 2Timothy 1:8,2Ti 1:16,
- As Paul Harvey used to say "And now for the rest of the story".
When our brethren suffer, we suffer for we all belong to the same
body. (cp 1Co 12:14, 26).
sharers - In other words one aspect of the conflict they were
experiencing was related to the truth that they were in fellowship
with others who were similarly treated.
these Jews were not persecuted only
because they had renounced Judaism and embraced the New Testament, but
because they became companions of their fellow-Jews who were being
persecuted...These became co-sharers with other persecuted Jews in the
sense of He 6:10-note,
where the writer is speaking of the saved among his readers who
ministered to the saints. That is, they helped others in a financial
way when they lost their earthly belongings by reason of persecution.
The writer exhorts to the same thing in He 13:3-note.
For this they were persecuted, for sympathizing with others who were
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans
from koinos = common,
shared by all. See also
koinonia [word study]) describes
those who participates with others in some enterprise or matter of
joint concern, in this case the "joint enterprise" of suffering! The
readers in this group (in contrast to those who fell away) experienced
fellowship with their suffering brethren. They were "partners" in the
suffering. In a sense they took part in their suffering.
above, suffering should not surprise believers but should be expected!
Obviously, this is not most of us want to hear and thus it is not
popular fodder for pulpit platitudes. And so it is little wonder that
so many believers are caught off guard when they encounter various
trials. Does the NT speak of suffering as a believer's "destiny" in
this life? Clearly it is a frequent topic of discussion - see Php 1:29-note,1Th 2:14-note 2Ti 1:8-note,
2Ti 1:16, 17, 18-note
Here their "spiritual athleticism"
is manifest in the readers, for in sharing in the suffering, they transcend the
normal human tendency to be passive and avoid .
What gallantry and honor! “I stand with my brothers and sisters here. If you
insult them, you insult me!” Side-by-side, with arms locked, they chose to
face persecution together.
In the NT, there are examples of those who willingly exposed themselves to
possible arrest and harassment because they sought to help those who were
persecuted for their faith. Among genuine believers who might be given as
examples of helping the persecuted, there was Onesiphorus (2Ti1:16, 17, 18-note).
from aná = again, back + strepho = turn)
literally means to turn down or back, to wheel about and hence, to
move about in a place or to sojourn. Figuratively anastrepho means to
conduct or behave (as in the conduct of one's life). In the present
context the literal text reads something like "to live in such a way
(with reproach and affliction) and in this context means to be treated
in such a way.
Hugh Latimer, the great English Reformer.
On one notable occasion Latimer preached before Henry VIII and offended
Henry with his boldness. So Latimer was commanded to preach the following
weekend and make an apology. On that following Sunday, after reading the
text, he addressed himself as he began to preach:
Hugh Latimer, dost thou know before whom thou art this day to speak? To the
high and mighty monarch, the king’s most excellent majesty, who can take
away thy life if thou offendest; therefore, take heed that thou speakest not
a word that may displease; but then consider well, Hugh, dost thou not know
from whence thou comest; upon whose message thou art sent? Even by the great
and mighty God! who is all-present, and who beholdeth all thy ways, and who
is able to cast thy soul into hell! Therefore, take care that thou
deliverest thy message faithfully.
He then gave
Henry the same sermon he had preached the week before—only with more
Steven Cole's sermon...
Our text exhorts us to have
enduring faith in times of persecution. It is a difficult topic to
speak about because probably none of us have ever experienced what
could legitimately be called “persecution” for our faith. Sure, most
of us have faced instances of reproach or rejection when people
discovered that we believe in Christ. I’ve had people say false things
about me and slander me. Occasionally, people have tried to get me
removed from my position as pastor.
But I’ve never been beaten, tortured, or thrown in prison be-cause of
my faith. I’ve never had my property confiscated or my family torn
away from me because I confess Christ as Lord. That probably is true
of most of you, too. A who had suffered real persecution could deliver
a more credible message than I can.
Another reason that it’s difficult to speak on this text is that
American Christians for many years have bought into a false view of
the Christian life that emphasizes the benefits of the faith in this
life. We’re told,
“God offers an abundant plan for
your life. Trust in Jesus and He will help you overcome all of your
problems and enjoy life to the fullest!”
Jesus is marketed as the solution
to every-thing from weight loss to success in business to having a
happy marriage. The sales pitch is that receiving Christ will bring
you the greatest happiness in this life.
Somehow, getting persecuted and losing your material possessions and
maybe your life don’t harmonize with that message! Most of us signed
up for the prosperity plan, not for the persecution plan!
If we encounter difficult trials, we get angry at God and maybe even
“If that’s the way He’s going to
treat me, I’m not going to follow Him! Hardship, persecution, and
suffering aren’t in the deal that I signed up for!”
How could we have strayed so far
the biblical picture of the Christian life?
It is often referred to as a fight
or war (Ep 6:10-20-note;
neither of which are pleasant. Many passages tell us to expect trials
and hardship (Jn 16:33; 2Ti 1:8-note;
The abundant life that Jesus promised has nothing to do with a
trouble-free life, but rather with having His joy in the midst of
tribulation. He stated plainly the requirements for following Him:
Deny yourself and take up your cross daily (Lk 9:23). A cross was not
a slightly irritating circumstance; it was an instrument of slow,
Our text comes on the heels of the strong warning against apostasy (He
10:26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31). Following the same pattern as in the
strong warning of He 6:4, 5, 6, 7, 8, the author assumes the best
about his readers. He encourages them by saying that he knows they are
not going to turn away from Christ, but rather that they will endure
in faith, in spite of whatever hardships they may suffer. The author
shows how to have a faith that endures any kind of trial, but
especially, persecution. If you’re going to make it as a Christian,
you must learn to apply what he says here about enduring faith:
To have faith that endures
remember how God worked in the past,
focus on doing His will in the present,
and look to His promises in the future.
Before we work through the text,
one other word of introduction may be helpful.
Jesus’ parable of the sower
Jesus’ parable of the sower (Mt
13:3-23; Mark 4:3-20; Luke 8:5-15) serves as a useful backdrop to our
text. Jesus described the seed of the Word as sown on four types of
(Soil #1) Some fell beside the
road, where the birds ate it, so that it never took root and sprouted.
This represents unbelievers who hear the gospel, but do not understand
or believe it.
(Soil #2) Other seed fell on the
rocky ground, where there was no depth of soil. It quickly sprang up,
but it had no roots, and so it withered. This represents those who
hear the Word and immediately receive it with joy. But when affliction
or persecution arises, they quickly fall away.
(Soil #3) The third soil is infested with thorns. The seed sprouts,
but the thorns, representing worries, riches, and pleasures of this
life (Lk 8:14), choke out the word so that it does not bring forth any
(Soil #4) The fourth type is good
soil, representing those who hear, understand, and accept the Word,
and bear fruit with perseverance (Lk 8:15).
In my understanding, only the fourth type of soil represents true
believers who “have faith to the preserving of the soul” (He 10:39).
The rocky soil and the thorny soil both make a profession of
faith for a while but eventually, they “shrink back to destruction.”
In other words,
Genuine saving faith
endures trials and bears fruit.
The amount of fruit will vary
(“some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty,” Mt 13:23), but
there will be observable evidence of a transformed heart. True
believers may fail under pressure, as Peter did when he denied Jesus.
Every believer struggles daily against sin, not always victoriously.
But if God has changed the heart and if His saving life is “in the
vine,” the person will repent, endure in faith, and bear fruit unto
1. To have enduring faith in trials, remember how God worked in the
past (He 10:32, 33, 34).
“The former days” refers to the time just after these Hebrew
Christians had been saved. The author draws their minds back to how
God had worked in their lives during that time, in spite of some very
difficult circumstances. His point is, “You did well then, so you can
hang in there now and in the future if persecution hits.”
He reminds them of three things
that were true of them as new converts, which also are true of all
A. Remember how God enlightened you with a new, godly understanding
Unbelievers are described in Scripture as being spiritually blind,
unable to “see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” Only
God can command the light to shine out of darkness. He “shone in our
hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the
face of Christ” (2Co 4:4, 6). Before God opened our eyes, we did not
even see our need for the Savior. We mistakenly thought that we were
good enough to get into heaven by our own righteousness. We had no
idea of how terrible our sins were or of how holy God is. We did not
appreciate the fact that the Son of God gave Himself on the cross to
pay our debt of sin. But then, while we were yet in such darkness, God
graciously opened our eyes. With the converted slave trader, John
Newton, we could sing, “I once was blind, but now I see!”
I remind you, however, that the apostates had experienced some degree
of enlightenment, and yet they were not truly saved (He 6:4-note).
It is possible to have a fair amount of theological under-standing,
and yet be lost! Some men have devoted their lives to studying the
Bible and writing scholarly books. But these scholars have never
repented of their sins and put their trust in Christ as Savior. They
are “enlightened,” but headed for eternal destruction.
B. Remember your newfound joy in the faith, no matter what your
Coming to Christ is like falling in
love. The Lord rebukes the church at Ephesus for losing their first
love. He tells them to remember from where they had fallen and repent
These Hebrew Christians had known the same exuberance when they had
first come to faith in Christ.
Not long into the process, they encountered some difficult trials. The
author calls it “a great conflict of sufferings.” Our word
“athletic” comes from the Greek word translated “conflict.” It
was like a hard-fought athletic contest, with Satan vying for their
souls. Some of them were “made a public spectacle through
reproaches and tribulations.” We get our word “theater” from the
Greek word for “public spectacle.” As you know, when someone
from a strong Jewish family embraces Jesus as the Messiah, he often is
made a spectacle-ridiculed and rejected by all of his friends and
Some of these Hebrew Christians had been imprisoned. Those who
remained free showed sympathy to the prisoners and publicly identified
themselves in solidarity with them. They probably visited them and
brought them food and clothing, since the jails in that time did not
supply such things. Some of them lost their property, either by
corrupt officials taking it or by mobs stealing everything of value
and then destroying their houses.
But the significant word in He 10:34 is joyfully! They didn’t
just grimly endure the loss of their property; they accepted it
joyfully! Many modern Christians would rage at such unfair treatment
and file a lawsuit to recover what they lost, plus damages for
emotional suffering! But these new believers had such profound joy in
knowing Christ that they sang the doxology as the mob hauled off their
belongings and leveled their houses. They were not rocky-ground or
C. Remember how your values and focus in life radically shifted.
These verses reveal four ways that these new believers had experienced
a radical shift in their values and focus. If you think back to your
conversion, you should be able to identify with them.
1) There was a change in your priorities and values from the
temporal to the eternal.
The only way that they could joyfully accept the seizure of
their property was, they knew that they had “a better possession
and a lasting one.” They had
“treasures in heaven, where neither
moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal”
They knew that Jesus had gone to
prepare a place for them to dwell with Him forever and that He was
coming again to take them to be with Him there (John 14:2, 3). So
while, no doubt, it was hard to lose their earthly possessions, their
focus had shifted from the temporal to the eternal.
In 1986, I was preaching through 1 Corinthians and came to 1Co 15:19,
where Paul caps his argument for the resurrection with these startling
“If we have hoped in Christ in this
life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.”
That verse jarred me. I asked
myself, “Can I really say that?” Being a Christian provides me with a
good life. I have a wonderful wife and children. I get paid to study
and teach God’s Word. I have brothers and sisters worldwide. I know
that my sins are forgiven. And, heaven is thrown in as a bonus after
this life is over! Such a deal!”
But Paul says, “If there is no heaven, if this life is all there is,
being a Christian is ludicrous!” Why suffer ridicule? Why give your
money away? Why spend this short life serving the Lord? Why deny
yourself the pleasures of sin? Why bother living for anyone other than
yourself? Better to eat and drink today, for tomorrow you may die.
But, a Christian knows that this life is not all there is. Christians
have shifted their priorities and values from the temporal to the
2) There was a change from valuing what others think of you to
valuing more what God thinks of you.
These new believers suffered “by being made a public spectacle
through reproaches.” Why put up with that? Why not just blend in
with the crowd? Why not laugh at the same dirty jokes? Why not be one
of the guys? Because their new focus was not on pleasing people, but
God, who examines the heart (1Th 2:4-note;
He 10:38, “no pleasure”). Worldly people live for the acclaim of
others. They want people to like them, and so their focus is on making
a good impression. But those who have been rescued from sin by the
crucified and risen Savior live to please Him.
3) There was a change from putting self first to putting God and
others ahead of self.
Every unbeliever lives for himself or herself. We are innately
self-centered. If helping someone will get us some advantage, we’ll do
it. But our overall aim in life is to be happy and get ahead, even if
it means stepping on others at times.
But a Christian focuses on loving God and others (the two great
commandments). Christians take their focus off of self and consider
the needs of others (the Golden Rule). So these Hebrew believers had
showed sympathy for the prisoners. They were willing to share in the
sufferings of those who were mistreated.
4) There was a change from demanding that God be “fair” to
submitting to His sovereign will.
Unbelievers want God to treat them “fairly,” as they think they
deserve to be treated. They don’t understand that if God gave them
what they deserve, they would go straight to hell! When a tragedy
strikes them, they rail against God and complain, “This isn’t fair! I
don’t deserve to be treated in this way!”
Notice that some of the new Hebrew believers were thrown in prison,
but some were not. God has different purposes for His people with
regard to persecution and suffering. We have no right to question His
wisdom or justice if He chooses to send trials our way, while other
believers escape such trials. If we are the ones who are not in the
hospital or in prison for our faith, then we ought to visit those who
are there and show them compassion (He 13:3-note).
If trials come our way, we should submit to God’s dealings, trusting
Him to work all things together for our good.
So the first way to have enduring faith in times of trial is, remember
how God worked in your life in the past. Remember how He saved you and
opened your eyes to the truth. Remember your new joy in knowing
Christ. Remember how faithful He was to bring you through trials.
Remember how He turned your life around. Remembering these things will
help you endure by faith in the present time of trials.
2. To have enduring faith in trials, focus on confidently doing
God’s will in the present (He 10:35, 36).
The author gives two aspects of this:
A. To do God’s will in the present, don’t throw away your
confidence in Christ (He 10:35).
He is not talking about confidence in yourself, but confidence in
Christ. I have heard many Christians say, “You’ve got to believe in
yourself!” That is a worldly idea, but not a biblical one! Our
confidence is in God (2Co 3:5). This is the fourth (and last) time
that the author uses this word. In He 3:6-note,
he exhorted us to “hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope
firm until the end.” In He 4:16-note,
he encouraged us to “draw near with confidence to the throne of
grace.” In He 10:19-note
he reminds us again that “we have confidence to enter the holy place
by the blood of Jesus.” Clearly, our confidence is in Jesus Christ and
His shed blood, not in anything in us. It refers to maintaining and
testifying to a settled assurance of the truth of the gospel in the
face of persecution or trials.
Such confidence is at the core of saving faith, and thus it has a
great reward, namely, heaven and eternal glory with Christ. The “great
reward” of He 10:35 is synonymous with “the promise” of He 10:36. Both
refer to God’s promise of eternal life.
B. To do God’s will in the present, persevere in obedience,
especially when you are tempted to compromise under pressure (He
The author further explains, “For you have need of endurance, so that
when you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.”
God’s will refers to His moral commandments and priorities as revealed
in His Word. Under the pressure of trials, it is easy to justify moral
compromise. In He 10:7, 8, 9-note,
the author cited Psalm 40 to show that Jesus came to do the Father’s
will, namely, the cross. It was not easy! Satan tempted Jesus to dodge
it: “Just worship me and I’ll give you all the kingdoms of this world”
(Mt 4:8, 9; see also Mt 16:21, 22, 23). “No need to suffer and die as
the sin-bearer!” But Jesus resisted all compromise and steadfastly
obeyed God’s will, even when it meant a horrible death. We should also
endure in obeying God, even if it means suffering or persecution.
After you have suffered, you will receive God’s promise of salvation.
This last phrase of He 10:36 points toward the future:
3. To have enduring faith in trials, look to God’s promises for the
future (He10:37, 38, 39).
The author combines a quote from Isaiah 26:20, 21 with an-other from
the LXX of Habakkuk 2:4, inverting the order of the Habakkuk quote to
suit his purpose here. The Hebrew of this verse is translated,
“Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but
the righteous will live by his faith.” The difference between the
Hebrew and the Greek may be due to a now unknown Hebrew variant, or
the Greek translators may have rendered an interpretive paraphrase.
Philip Hughes explains,
“The discrepancy between ‘he
shrinks back’ here and ‘he is puffed up’ in the Hebrew of Habakkuk 2:4
is not fundamental, for the man who shrinks back is precisely the man
who is puffed up with self-sufficiency and is therefore blind to the
need of trustful and patient endurance” (A Commentary on the Epistle
to the Hebrews [Eerdmans], p. 436).
The author is repeating here for
emphasis the same concepts that he has already stated or implied.
A. Get God’s perspective on time and eternity (He 10:37).
“For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and
will not delay.” The “very little while” is from God’s
perspective of time, not from our perspective! The original quote in
Isaiah was written to the people of Judah who were being threatened by
hostile enemies. God is encouraging them to hold on for a little
while, until He delivers them and judges their enemy. The point is,
this present life is “a very little while” in comparison with the
eternal joys of heaven. That is why Paul could call his many trials
“momentary, light affliction” which was producing “an eternal weight
of glory far beyond all comparison” (2Cor. 4:17). To have enduring
faith in trials now, get God’s eternal perspective.
B. Live by faith every day (He 10:38).
The Christian life is not a 100-yard dash; it’s a marathon. God’s
righteous ones (the ones He declares righteous through faith in
Christ; Ro 1:17-note;
Gal. 3:11) live by faith. Saving faith is not a one-time action, but
an ongoing, daily matter of trusting in God’s promise of salvation in
Christ. (Ed: Do not misunderstand. Saving faith brings about
our one time justification but then faith is necessary for our daily
sanctification - we walk by faith not by sight!) Peter reminded
suffering Christians of their inheritance,
“reserved in heaven for you, who
are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready
to be revealed in the last time” (1Pe 1:4, 5-note).
I meet many Christians who live by
their feelings, not by faith in Christ. We are to walk with Christ
just as we received Him, by grace through faith (Col 1:6-note;
Ep 2:8, 9-note).
Our aim should be to please Him, as the author will go on to say:
“Without faith it is impossible to please God” (He 11:6-note).
Not to trust God is to call Him a liar and to question His integrity.
Genuine faith perseveres through difficult trials. False believers
shrink back to destruction.
C. Let eternal reality govern your present way of life (He 10:39).
The author expresses his confidence that his readers, with him, “are
not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have
faith to the preserving [lit., obtaining] of the soul.” He is saying,
“Let God’s threat of eternal damnation and your faith in His promise
of eternal life govern the way you live.” We should live in such a
manner that if God’s promises about heaven are not true, we are fools
to live as we do. Paul said,
“For I consider that the sufferings
of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that
is to be revealed to us” (Ro 8:18-note).
If we have hoped in Christ in this
life only, pity us! But if there is a heaven and a hell, living by
faith in God’s promises is the only way to go.
Spend your time, your money, and your very life as if God’s promises
in the gospel are true. Remember how God worked in your life in the
past, when you first came to faith in Christ. Live in that same way
now, because you know that in Christ you have a better and lasting
possession than you ever had on earth. Focus on doing God’s will in
the present, especially when trials tempt you to compromise. Look to
God’s promises for the future. Live with enduring faith in God and He
will sustain you through every trial.
Some Christians did not have a dramatic conversion experience. How can
they apply the first point?
Has the American church put too much emphasis on the present benefits
of the gospel and not enough on the eternal benefits? How does this
affect our view of suffering?
Some counselors advise Christians to express their anger at God when
they think He has treated them unfairly. Is this wise counsel? Why/why
How would your life be different if you lived with an eternal focus?
What needs to be changed in light
of the reality of heaven?
(Hebrews 10:32-39 Enduring Faith)
- Hebrews 10:33, 34
THE solemn warning now, just as was
the case in Hebrews 6:9, turns to encouragement and exhortation. As
there, the Hebrews are reminded of the former days, when they were
first enlightened--the time of their first love. But, in the previous
instance, they were told that God was not unrighteous to forget their
work and love; here they are urged themselves not to forget what had
Call to remembrance the former days.
The retrospect would
call up the joy with which they once had sacrificed all for the name
of Jesus, would humble them in view of past backsliding and present
Beloved do either of these descriptions "stab" at your heart?) would stir within the desire and the hope of regaining the
place they once had occupied (cp Rev 2:4, 5).
Call to remembrance, he says, the
former days, in which ye endured a great conflict of sufferings, in
not only bearing reproaches and taking joyfully the spoiling of your
possessions, but also in compassion towards and being partakers with
others who were in bonds.
It is a sad thought that a community that had so remarkably proved its
faithfulness to the Lord, in the midst of persecution and suffering,
should in a few years have gone so far back as to need the warnings
that have just been given. And yet it has often been so. In some cases
it happened that the persecution ceased, and the spirit of case and of
sloth, or of worldly prosperity, obtained the mastery. In others, the
persecution lasted too long, and those who had appeared to forsake
all, succumbed to the severity and length of the trial. The Hebrews
were not only an instance of such defection, but of so many other
cases, in which Christians, after having begun well, wax weary,
fainting in their souls.
They stand out as beacons to
warn us of the danger the Epistle so strongly urges--that the best
beginning will not avail unless we endure to the end (Hebrews
3:14; 6:11; 12:3).
They call us to remember that we
need a faith and a religion that stands fast and lasts; because it
has its steadfastness, as the Epistle teaches, in the promise and the
oath of God; in the hope within the veil; in Him the surety of the
covenant, who is seated on the right hand of God, the Priest after the
power of an endless life, the surety of an everlasting covenant.
In reminding them of the past a very remarkable expression is used to
indicate what the power was that enabled them at first to endure so
Ye took joyfully the spoiling of
knowing that ye yourselves have a better and abiding possession.
The Christian stands between two
worlds; each offers him its goods as possessions. In unceasing
conflict the two compete for mastery. The one has the advantage of
being infinitely more worthy than the other, giving infinite
satisfaction, and lasting for ever. The other is in no wise to be
compared with it--it cannot satisfy, and it does not last.
But, in the conflict, it has two
immense, two terrible advantages. The one is, it is nearer; it is
visible; it has access to us by every sense; its influence on us is
natural and easy and unceasing. The other, that our heart is
prepossessed; the spirit of the world is in it. And so it comes that
the possessions of this world with the most actually win the day, even
against the better and abiding possession.
Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your possessions, knowing that ye
have a better and abiding possession.
What is this better and abiding
possession? It is the love and grace of God. It is the eternal
life within. It is Christ as our heart's treasure. It is a life and a
character in the likeness of Christ. The old heathen moralists teach
us most striking lessons as to the nobility of a man who knows that
all earthly possessions are as nothing compared with the being master
of himself. How much more reason the Christian has to rejoice in the
good things, in the eternal realities which Christ bestows, both in
the heaven above and the heart within. The world may rob you of
personal liberty or earthly goods; it cannot compel you to commit sin
or separate you from the living God in Christ Jesus. Heaven and its
blessing in your heart can fill you with a joy that counts every
sacrifice a privilege, that makes every loss a gain, and that turns
all suffering into an exceeding weight of glory.
Alas that the Hebrews, after knowing this better and abiding
possession, and having, for its sake, joyfully taken the spoiling of
their possessions, should yet, many of them, have waxed weary, and
fainted and turned back! Alas for the terrible possibility of making
sacrifices, and enduring reproach for Christ, and then falling away!
No wonder that our author at once follows up his appeal to the former
days with the exhortation: Cast not away your boldness--ye have need
Let us learn the solemn lesson: the lawful possessions and pleasures
and occupations of this world, its literature and its culture, are
unceasingly and most insidiously seeking to undermine the influence of
the better and abiding possession. This influence is greater than we
know, because they are seen and near and ever active. Nothing can
secure us against their power but a life of faith, a life in the
Holiest, a life in the power of Christ, the Priest for ever, who works
all in the power of the endless life. Alone through Him who abideth
continually can we abide continually too, can we endure unto the end.
1. If there be any reader who has to look back with shame and regret
on his first love, and his leaving it, let him listen to the call:
Remember the former days. Think of them. Face the fact of your having
gone back. Confess it to God. And take courage in the assurance, there
is restoration and deliverance. Trust Jesus.
2. A better and abiding possession. A rich man counts his money. He
spends time and thought on preserving it safe, and making it more. Our
power to resist the world, so that its possessions shall not tempt us,
nor its threats terrify us, lies in the full consciousness and
enjoyment of our heavenly treasures. Take time to know your
possessions, draw out am inventory of what you have and what you
expect, and all the world offers will have no power.
Andrew Murray. The Holiest of All