Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy - That is, he who renounces Christianity ought to be regarded as deserving a much severer punishment than the man who apostatized from the Jewish religion, and if he ought to be so regarded he will be - for God will treat every man as he ought to be treated. This must refer to future punishment, for the severest punishment was inflicted on the apostate from the Jewish religion which can be in this world - death; and yet the apostle here says that a severer punishment than that would be deserved by him who should apostatize from the Christian faith. The reasons why so much severer punishment would be deserved, are such as these - the Author of the Christian system was far more exalted than Moses, the founder of the Jewish system; he had revealed more important truths; he had increased and confirmed the motives to holiness; he had furnished more means for leading a holy life; he had given himself as a sacrifice to redeem the soul from death, and he had revealed with far greater clearness the truth that there is a heaven of glory and of holiness. He who should apostatize from the Christian faith, the apostle goes on to say, would also be guilty of the most aggravated crime of which man could be guilty - the crime of trampling under foot the Son of God, of showing contempt for his holy blood. and despising the Spirit of grace.
Who hath trodden under foot the Son of God - This language is taken either from the custom of ancient conquerors who were accustomed to tread on the necks of their enemies in token of their being subdued, or from the fact that people tread on what they despise and contemn. The idea is, that he who should apostatize from the Christian faith would act as if he should indignantly and contemptuously trample on God‘s only Son. What crime could be more aggravated than this?
Wherewith he was sanctified - Made holy, or set apart to the service of God. The word “sanctify” is used in both these senses. Prof. Stuart renders it, “by which expiation is made;” and many others, in accordance with this view, have supposed that it refers to the Lord Jesus. But it seems to me that it refers to the person who is here supposed to renounce the Christian religion, or to apostatize from it. The reasons for this are such as these:
(1)it is the natural and proper meaning of the word rendered here “sanctified.” This word is commonly applied to Christians in the sense that they are made holy; see Acts 20:32; Acts 26:18; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Jude 1:1; compare John 10:36; John 17:17.
(2)it is unusual to apply this word to the Saviour. It is true, indeed, that he says John 17:19, “for their sakes I sanctify myself,” but there is no instance in which he says that he was sanctified by his own blood. And where is there an instance in which the word is used as meaning “to make expiations?”
(3)the supposition that it refers to one who is here spoken of as in danger of apostasy, and not of the Lord Jesus, agrees with the scope of the argument. The apostle is showing the great guilt, and the certain destruction, of one who should apostatize from the Christian religion. In doing this it was natural to speak of the dishonor which would thus be done to the means which had been used for his sanctification - the blood of the Redeemer. It would be treating it as if it were a common thing, or as if it might be disregarded like anything else which was of no value.
An unholy thing - Greek common; often used in the sense of unholy. The word is so used because what was holy was separated from a common to a sacred use. What was not thus consecrated was free to all, or was for common use, and hence, also the word is used to denote what is unholy.
And hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace - The Holy Spirit, called “the Spirit of grace,” because he confers favor (grace) upon people. The meaning of the phrase “done despite unto” - ἐνυβρίσας enubrisas- is, “having reproached, or treated with malignity, or contempt.” The idea is, that if they were thus to apostatize, they would by such an act treat the Spirit of God with disdain and contempt. It was by him that they had been renewed; by him that they had been brought to embrace the Saviour and to love God; by him that they had any holy feelings or pure desires; and if they now apostatized from religion, such an act would be in fact treating the Holy Spirit with the highest indignity. It would be saying that all his influences were valueless, and that they needed no help from him. From such considerations, the apostle shows that if a true Christian were to apostatize, nothing would remain for him but the terrific prospect of eternal condemnation. He would have rejected the only Saviour; he would have in fact treated him with the highest indignity; he would have considered his sacred blood, shed to sanctify people, as a common thing, and would have shown the highest disregard for the only agent who can save the soul - the Spirit of God. How could such an one afterward be saved? The apostle does not indeed say that anyone ever would thus apostatize from the true religion, nor is there any reason to believe that such a case ever has occurred, but if it should occur the doom would be inevitable. How dangerous then is every step which would lead to such a precipice! And how strange and unscriptural the opinion held by so many that sincere Christians may “fall away” and be renewed, again and again!
(See the supplementary note on Hebrews 6:6. where certain principles are laid down, for the interpretation of this and similar passages, in consistency with the doctrine of the saints‘ perseverance. If that doctrine be maintained, and our author‘s view of the passage at the same be correct, then plainly it contains an impossible case. It is descriptive of real Christians, yet they never can fall away. The utility of the warning, in this case, may indeed successfully be vindicated, on the ground that it is the means of preventing apostasy in the saints, the means by which the decree of God in reference to their stability is effected. Most, however, will incline to the view which regards this case, as something more than imaginary, as possible, as real. The warning is addressed to professors generally, without any attempt of distinguishing or separating into true or false. Doubtless there might be some even of the latter class in the churches whose members the apostles, presuming on their professed character, addressed as “saints, “elect,” and “faithful,” without distinction.
Of course, in consistency with the doctrine of perseverance only the “false,” in whom the “root of the matter” had never existed, could apostatize; yet at the same time, when no distinction was made, when the apostle made none, but addressed all in the language of charity, when Christians themselves might find it difficult at all times to affirm decidedly on their own case, universal vigilance was secured, or at all events designed. But is not the party whose apostasy is here supposed, described by two attributes which belong to none but genuine Christians, namely, the “reception of the knowledge of the truth,” and “sanctification through the blood of the covenant?” The answer which has been given to this question is generally, that neither of these things necessarily involves more than external dedication to God. The first is parallel to the “once enlightened” of Hebrews 6:4, and of course admits of the same explanation; see supplementary note there.
The second thing, namely, the sanctification of the party “is not real or internal sanctification, and all the disputes concerning the total and final apostasy from the faith of them who have been really and internally sanctified from this place, are altogether vain. As at the giving of the Law, the people being sprinkled with blood, were sanctified or dedicated to God in a special manner, so those who, by baptism and confession of faith in the church of Christ, were separated from all others were especially dedicated to God thereby.” - “Owen.” Yet, this eminent writer is rather disposed to adopt the opinion of those who construe, ἐν ᾡ ἡγιασθη en hō hēgiasthēwith the immediate antecedent, τον Υἱον του Θεου ton Huion tou Theouthus referring the sanctification to Christ, and not to the apostate; see John 17:19. Whichever of these views we receive, the great doctrine of perseverance is, of course, unaffected. In reference to an objection which the author has urged that “the sentiment (in the Hebrews 10:26 and Hebrews 10:27 verses) would not be correct, if it referred to any but true Christians,” let it be noticed that while many may be saved, who have long resisted the Spirit, yet the assertion must appear hazardous in the extreme, that any can be saved, who do all that the apostate in this passage is alleged to do. The sin described seems to be that of a determined, insulting, final rejection of the only remedy for sin.)
Of how much sorer punishment - Such offenses were trifling in comparison of this, and in justice the punishment should be proportioned to the offense.
Trodden under foot the Son of God - Treated him with the utmost contempt and blasphemy.
The blood of the covenant - an unholy thing - The blood of the covenant means here the sacrificial death of Christ, by which the new covenant between God and man was ratified, sealed, and confirmed. And counting this unholy, or common, κοινον, intimates that they expected nothing from it in a sacrificial or atoning way. How near to those persons, and how near to their destruction, do they come in the present day who reject the atoning blood, and say, "that they expect no more benefit from the blood of Christ than they do from that of a cow or a sheep!" Is not this precisely the crime of which the apostle speaks here, and to which he tells us God would show no mercy?
Despite unto the Spirit of grace? - Hath insulted the Spirit of grace. The apostle means the Holy Spirit, whose gifts were bestowed in the first age on believers for the confirmation of the Gospel. See Hebrews 6:4-6. Wherefore, if one apostatized in the first age, after having been witness to these miraculous gifts, much more after having possessed them himself, he must, like the scribes and Pharisees, have ascribed them to evil spirits; than which a greater indignity could not be done to the Spirit of God. Macknight. This is properly the sin against the Holy Ghost, which has no forgiveness.
When the soul surrenders itself to Christ, a new power takes possession of the new heart. A change is wrought which man can never accomplish for himself. It is a supernatural work, bringing a supernatural element into human nature. The soul that is yielded to Christ becomes His own fortress, which He holds in a revolted world, and He intends that no authority shall be known in it but His own. A soul thus kept in possession by the heavenly agencies is impregnable to the assaults of Satan. But unless we do yield ourselves to the control of Christ, we shall be dominated by the wicked one. We must inevitably be under the control of the one or the other of the two great powers that are contending for the supremacy of the world. It is not necessary for us deliberately to choose the service of the kingdom of darkness in order to come under its dominion. We have only to neglect to ally ourselves with the kingdom of light. If we do not co-operate with the heavenly agencies, Satan will take possession of the heart, and will make it his abiding place. The only defense against evil is the indwelling of Christ in the heart through faith in His righteousness. Unless we become vitally connected with God, we can never resist the unhallowed effects of self-love, self-indulgence, and temptation to sin. We may leave off many bad habits, for the time we may part company with Satan; but without a vital connection with God, through the surrender of ourselves to Him moment by moment, we shall be overcome. Without a personal acquaintance with Christ, and a continual communion, we are at the mercy of the enemy, and shall do his bidding in the end. DA 324.1
“The last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so,” said Jesus, “shall it be also unto this wicked generation.” There are none so hardened as those who have slighted the invitation of mercy, and done despite to the Spirit of grace. The most common manifestation of the sin against the Holy Spirit is in persistently slighting Heaven's invitation to repent. Every step in the rejection of Christ is a step toward the rejection of salvation, and toward the sin against the Holy Spirit. DA 324.2
In rejecting Christ the Jewish people committed the unpardonable sin; and by refusing the invitation of mercy, we may commit the same error. We offer insult to the Prince of life, and put Him to shame before the synagogue of Satan and before the heavenly universe when we refuse to listen to His delegated messengers, and instead listen to the agents of Satan, who would draw the soul away from Christ. So long as one does this, he can find no hope or pardon, and he will finally lose all desire to be reconciled to God. DA 324.3Read in context »
The Lord has a controversy with all men who by their unbelief and doubt have been saying that He delays His coming, and who have been smiting their fellow servants, and eating and drinking with (working from the very same principle as) the drunken; they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. Satan has controlled their reason, and they know not at what they stumble. TM 78.1
Just as soon as a man separates from God so that his heart is not under the subduing power of the Holy Spirit, the attributes of Satan will be revealed, and he will begin to oppress his fellowmen. An influence goes forth from him that is contrary to truth and justice and righteousness. This disposition is manifested in our institutions, not only in the relation of the workers to one another, but in the desire shown by one institution to control all others. [See Appendix.] Men who are entrusted with weighty responsibilities, but who have no living connection with God, have been and are doing despite to His Holy Spirit. They are indulging the very same spirit as did Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and as did the Jews in the days of Christ. (See Matthew 12:22-29, 31-37.) Warnings have come from God again and again for these men, but they have cast them aside and ventured on in the same course. TM 78.2Read in context »
We are living in the most solemn period of this world's history. The destiny of earth's teeming multitudes is about to be decided. Our own future well-being and also the salvation of other souls depend upon the course which we now pursue. We need to be guided by the Spirit of truth. Every follower of Christ should earnestly inquire: “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” We need to humble ourselves before the Lord, with fasting and prayer, and to meditate much upon His word, especially upon the scenes of the judgment. We should now seek a deep and living experience in the things of God. We have not a moment to lose. Events of vital importance are taking place around us; we are on Satan's enchanted ground. Sleep not, sentinels of God; the foe is lurking near, ready at any moment, should you become lax and drowsy, to spring upon you and make you his prey. GC 601.1
Many are deceived as to their true condition before God. They congratulate themselves upon the wrong acts which they do not commit, and forget to enumerate the good and noble deeds which God requires of them, but which they have neglected to perform. It is not enough that they are trees in the garden of God. They are to answer His expectation by bearing fruit. He holds them accountable for their failure to accomplish all the good which they could have done, through His grace strengthening them. In the books of heaven they are registered as cumberers of the ground. Yet the case of even this class is not utterly hopeless. With those who have slighted God's mercy and abused His grace, the heart of long-suffering love yet pleads. “Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, ... redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:14-16. GC 601.2
When the testing time shall come, those who have made God's word their rule of life will be revealed. In summer there is no noticeable difference between evergreens and other trees; but when the blasts of winter come, the evergreens remain unchanged, while other trees are stripped of their foliage. So the falsehearted professor may not now be distinguished from the real Christian, but the time is just upon us when the difference will be apparent. Let opposition arise, let bigotry and intolerance again bear sway, let persecution be kindled, and the halfhearted and hypocritical will waver and yield the faith; but the true Christian will stand firm as a rock, his faith stronger, his hope brighter, than in days of prosperity. GC 602.1Read in context »
I saw that we are now in the shaking time. Satan is working with all his power to wrest souls from the hand of Christ and cause them to trample underfoot the Son of God. An angel slowly and emphatically repeated these words: “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” Character is being developed. Angels of God are weighing moral worth. God is testing and proving His people. These words were presented to me by the angel: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.” God is displeased that any of His people who have known the power of His grace should talk their doubts, and by thus doing make themselves a channel for Satan to transmit his suggestions to other minds. A seed of unbelief and evil sown is not readily rooted up. Satan nourishes it every hour, and it flourishes and becomes strong. A good seed sown needs to be nourished, watered, and tenderly cared for; because every poisonous influence is thrown about it to hinder its growth and cause it to die. 1T 429.1Read in context »