Hebrews 10:32-39

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, January 10, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
For, ‘In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.’
And, ‘But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.’
But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”
-Hebrews 10:32-39

In the previous section, the author of Hebrews gave stern warnings to those who continually choose to disobey God. Interestingly, the NIV text (quoted above) omitted a very important word at the beginning of this passage: the conjunction “but.” The conjunction is present in the Greek text, and I believe it’s very important for the author is distinguishing between those who have chosen to fall away from the faith and the believers whom he is addressing in this passage.

Those in the audience of this letter are the ones who “received the light” (verse 32). This verb sometimes refers to baptism, but that is not necessarily the case here. What’s important here is to note that these are believers in Jesus Christ who have been enlightened to faith by the gospel message.

The next phrase refers to enduring a “conflict full of suffering.” The Greek word translated here as conflict has the idea of athletic competitions to it. This word was often used for early Christians, comparing them to spiritual athletes. In those early days, the Christian life was a strenuous one where they encountered much suffering.

Verses 33-34 explain this suffering in greater detail. There are two groups of believers referred to here – those who were actively persecuted, and those who suffered because of their association with the first group. Those in this first group were insulted and persecuted in a public manner; this wasn’t just persecution occurring in their homes or churches, but they were made a spectacle of in public areas.

The second group is guilty by association so to speak. They were present when others were publicly persecuted. They sympathized with prisoners. They allowed their personal property to be taken away from them, knowing that material things were not what was important in life.

Prisoners were not treated well back in those days. Today, while prison is not considered a great life, prisoners do have their basic needs taken care of – food, shelter, etc. In those days, that was not the case. Prisoners would be dependent on their friends or family to bring them food to keep them alive and for any other items they needed. While this is something that Jesus commanded His followers to do (see Matthew 25:34-36), it was risky for those visiting prisoners. They would be associated with the prisoners they visited, and they could potentially be accused of the same crimes.

These believers “joyfully” allowed their possessions to be taken away. The text is unclear as to whether this confiscation happened by the authorities or by violent mobs, but regardless, they did not remain attached to material possessions. They knew that the message of the gospel was much more important than owning possessions. They knew that the hope they have in Jesus Christ could not be taken away from them.

In verse 35, the author gives some encouragement to those who had endured all this. They had placed their confidence right where it belongs – in Jesus Christ – and he encourages them to keep it there. While they may not be rewarded with a comfortable life on earth, they could be certain that they would be richly rewarded in their eternal life with Christ.

The author encourages them to persevere through whatever may come in verse 36. The verb used here is hupomone, which has the meaning of actively or positively enduring something and being steadfast in that. They would need to continue to endure whatever persecution came their way; Christianity is a way of life, not just a momentary thing. When they continue to do the will of God, they will receive the fulfillment of the promises that God has given them.

As is typical for the author of Hebrews, he then gives them some Old Testament Scripture verses for encouragement in verses 37-38. He quotes from Habakkuk 2:3-4. (For more on the context of that passage from Habakkuk, check out this post.) The author reminds the early Christians that Jesus will come back for them, and until that happens, they need to continue to live by faith.

He further explains this point in verse 39 by emphasizing that the believers are those who have faith and are saved, they are not the ones who shrink back from the difficulties that this life may present. The author has confidence that he and his readers will be among those who continue on in their faith. With this verse, he sets up what is to come in the next chapter – a further discussion on faith and those who have gone before and have lived it out.

Are you among those who have been enlightened by faith in Jesus Christ? If so, be encouraged to keep living out that faith! Today in America, we are not (yet) facing the public persecution that the early church faced. If they could continue to live out their faith in spite of those difficult circumstances, so can we! We are to be encouraged just as they were, to continue to persevere in our faith no matter what this world throw at us.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.