Hebrews 10:1-18



Shadow” here refers to the priesthood and sacrifices

Paul also calls the legal restrictions of the old covenant a “shadow” in Colossians 2:17 (in reference to food and holidays)


Paul says the shadows are of “things to come”
Hebrews writer says “the good things to come.”

In 9:11 “Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here.”


σκιά     γάρ      ἔχω              νόμος             μέλλω         ἀγαθός       οὐ          αὐτός

shadow   for       having     the       law          the    coming         good things     not          itself


       εἰκών           πρᾶγμα      κατά       ἐνιαυτός             αὐτός       θυσία    ὅς    προσφέρω

the     image     the      matters          every           year           the     same         sacrifices          offer


εἰς            διηνεκής       οὐδέποτε       δύναμαι             προσέρχομαι         τελειόω

           continually              never                can              the       approaching                perfect


The old covenant could never bring people to a state of perfection or completeness since they had to continue to renew their standing by repeating the sacrifice.



If the old order had obtain perfection or if it were complete itself would they not have stopped the ritual and moved on to what they had achieved?  Instead, they simply went back and did it again.


There was forgiveness as in Leviticus 4:20, 26, 31, 35 but not complete cleansing


Here we see that the new covenant inward cleansing is complete and perfection has been obtained.  It is different than the OT in that the NT salvation/sacrifice can never be repeated.  Once a person is cleansed in their conscience they need not and can not repeat it.


cleansed once for all” is in the perfect tense. 


This is the sense of Jesus words to Peter in John 13:10,

A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean.” 


The Greek says

The one having been bathed has not need except the feet to wash, but is clean wholly.”

  • “bathed” or “leloumenoV” is perfect passive which indicates a past action with continuing results.  It is emphasizing the state and character of the one who has been bathed.
  • In Acts 15:9 Peter tells the Jerusalem council that the Holy Spirit had cleansed their hearts by faith.


επει      ουκ      αν        επαυσαντο       προσφερομεναι      δια      το        μηδεμιαν

since      not   whatsoever   have ceased       being offered           because   the        no one


εχειν    ετι      συνειδησιν      αμαρτιων     τους    λατρευοντας    απαξ   κεκαθαρμενους

to have  still      conscience           of sin                the       serving               once   having been cleansed


The phrase “felt guilt” in the NIV or “conscience” from “suneidhsin” in the Greek is used to express the Hebrew sense of burden or a smitten heart which was experienced and demonstrated on the Day of Atonement each year.


απαξ   κεκαθαρμενους which is translated “once    having been cleansed” is in the NIV “would have been cleansed once for all.”  The word “kekaqarmenouV” is in the perfect indicating again a completed state.  The adverb “once” or απαξ reinforces the concept of completeness that does not need to be repeated.



The Old Testament rituals were a “reminder” of the sins that would need to be dealt with some time in the future.


The OT rituals clearly was not God reflecting to his people that he “would remember their sins no more” since he reminded them of them annually, if not daily.  The new covenant says he will remember them no more in Jer. 31:31-35.


It is important that the church does not allow this concept of remembering sins to replace the purpose of the Lord’s Supper which is to remember Jesus death.



A quote from Psalm 40:6-8 from the Septuagint.


Psalm 40:6 “but my ears you have pierced”  is in the Masoretic text

  1. “pierced” is literally “digged” indicating the servants ears have been opened to hear the word and will of the Lord.
  2. “pierced” may also refer to a servant having a hole placed in their ear as a sign of committed service.  Exodus 21:5-6.
  3. The Septuagint is quoted by the writer of Hebrews “but a body you have prepared for me.”
    1. The Latin Vulgate from 405 AD has “ears” not “body”
    2. The practice of piercing an ear in Exodus 21 was not the piercing of “ears” plural which makes this reference possibly wrong.
    3. The use of “ears” and “digging” or “opening” might have been picked up by the Greek scholars in 200 BC and understood that God was preparing the “ears” or the very “body” of the servant to do his will.


It is interesting to notice that even in the Psalms the David wrote the concept of the unfinished effect of the sacrifices is there and the need for the servant of God to replace them is clear.  Similar to Isaiah 53.



“have been made holy” is in the perfect tense again as a settled state.



he has made perfect” is perfect tense indicating:


1. a past action with continuing results,

2. a settled state, 

3. a past action with continuing results.


“are being made holy” is present tense indicating:

1.  a continuous action that happens over and over