STUDY Hebrews 10:1-18 (click here for notes)

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming-not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.

Then I said, "Here I am-it is written about me in the scroll-I have come to do your will, O God.' "

First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:

"This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds."

Then he adds:

"Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more."

And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. (NIV)


Shadow and Reality

According to William Barclay, the Greek work for "shadow" in v. 1 is skia, and it means "a nebulous reflection, a mere silhouette, a form without reality". The Greek work for "realities" is eikon, and it means "a complete representation, a detailed reproduction", a portrait.

1. What office was intimately connected to the law? (see Hebrews 7:11-12)


2. Of what were it and the priesthood mere shadows? (see Col. 2:17; Heb. 8:5; 9:23-28)


3. How does the fact of the law's being a shadow make it ineffective to "make perfect those who draw near to worship"? (v. 4; Romans 3:20; Gal. 3: 23-25; Col 3:19; 23-24)


4. Why do people "draw near to worship"? (Hebrews 4:16; 7:19, 25; 10:22; James 4:8)


5. What was the real purpose of the law and the sacrifices? (v.3; Romans 3:20; 5:20; 7:7-11; Gal. 3:19)


Burnt Offerings vs. a Body

Verses 5-7 quote the Septuagint's translation of Psalm 40:6-8. According to Barclay, it is unlikely that the writer of Hebrews was proficient in Hebrew. He probably studied the Old Testament from the Greek translation known as the Septuagint. This verse is a quote from the Septuagint, not from the original Hebrew. This verse refers to four of the five Old Covenant offerings outlined in the law.

6. What were the five offerings required of the Israelites? (see Leviticus 1; 2; 3; 4:1-5; 13; 5:14-6:7; 6:8-13; 14-23; 24-30; 7:11-34)


7. The writer puts the words of Psalm 40:6-8 into Jesus' mouth. The Hebrew version of this text says, "but my ears you have pierced" (or opened) instead of "but a body you prepared for me". The meanings are similar; the Hebrew passage implies that the speaker's ears are opened to hear the word of God; the Septuagint version suggests that the speaker has a body to obey God. What does this passage mean when it is applied to Christ? (see Hebrews 2:14; 1 Peter 2:24)


8. If God required the sacrifices and offerings from Israel, why would the psalmist or Jesus say that God did not desire them nor was he pleased with them? (see Mark 12:33; 1 Samuel 15:22; Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8)


9. Jesus, in a human body, said he had come to do God's will. What was God's will which Jesus came to do? (see Luke 22:42; John 4:34; Matthew 26:39-46)


The Priest Sits Down

10. By doing God's will, Jesus "sets aside the first to establish the second." What does he set aside and establish?


11. "And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." By whose will have we been made holy?


12. What does it mean to be "made holy"? (see v. 14; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 5:25-27)


13. How are we "made holy"? (see Hebrews 2:14; 1 Peter 2:24)


14. What is significant about the fact that the Israelite priests stood day after day to perform their duties, but Jesus "sat down at the right hand of God"? (v. 14)


15. What is significant about one's enemies being made a footstool? (see Joshua 10:24)


16. When will Jesus' enemies be made his footstool? (see Revelation 20)


New Covenant Recap

The author reviews Jeremiah 31:33-34 which gives the new covenant promise: God will put his law in our hearts and minds.

1. How can a person who is "being made holy" already be considered "perfect forever" 9 (v.14)? (see Romans 7:4-6; 8:10-11, 16)


2. How do God's laws become written on our hearts? (see Gal. 5:16-18, 25; Colossians 1:7-9; Romans 8:6-9; 26-27)



1. Are you living in the new covenant, or do you see the law defining your sin when you "come near" to worship God?


2. Do you "sacrifice" to God, donating time, money, and energy in an attempt to please him or to gain his forgiveness?


3. Do you consider yourself a saint, perfect forever, or do you consider yourself a sinner?


4. Has your life become different as a result of God's laws being written on your heart? If so, how?



1. What persistent struggle defines your spiritual life and keeps you from seeing yourself as a saint?


2. For what in your life do you need the eternal atonement of Jesus, your high priest who has sat down at the right hand of God?


3. About what area of your life do you feel defensive, guarding your control of it?


4. Ask Jesus to soften your heart and to help you know the truth about the things in your life that make you tense and protective. Let him take responsibility for what you fear, and learn to trust him to hold you in his love as he brings change and healing into your life.


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