Sacrifice No Longer Remains: Hebrews 10:26-27 -- By: John Niemelä

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 26:51 (Autumn 2013)
Article: Sacrifice No Longer Remains: Hebrews 10:26-27
Author: John Niemelä

Sacrifice No Longer Remains:
Hebrews 10:26-271

John H. Niemelä

Professor of New Testament

Rocky Mountain Bible College and Seminary
Englewood, CO

For if we sin willfully after we have received knowledge of the truth, sacrifice for sins no longer remains, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation which is about to consume the adversaries (Hebrews 10:26-27).2

I. Introduction

Hebrews 10:26b is routinely construed as threatening punishment for willful sin.3 The theory seems to be that Christ withholds His sacrifice (as a penalty)4 from those who “sin with a high-hand”, i.e., willfully sin. This

article rejects such an interpretation. Hebrews 10:26-27 occurs within a warning passage, so bad news is clearly present. This does not preclude these two verses from containing anything positive. This article takes a different approach: Hebrews 10:27 is the penalty for willful sin, but v 26b is good news in the midst of a warning. Believers, even willfully sinning ones, should thank God that “sacrifice no longer remains” (10:26b).

II. Preliminary Issues

Before starting our analysis, some background issues need clarification. Given the widespread confusion about Hebrews as a whole, we should first define who the readers are and clarify the message of the book before expositing the target passage. To that end, Heb 13:22 defines the book as a brief exhortation to brethren: “And I exhort you, brethren, endure the word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.”5 Note three key terms that we must analyze: namely, the author’s definition of brethren, the implications of word of exhortation, and to determine the nuances of the word briefly.

A. Brethren Are Believers

Hebrews 2:11 says: “For both the Sanctifier [ho hagiazōn, from hagiazō] and the sanctified-ones [hoi hagiazomenoi, from hagi...

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