Question and Answer

Hebrews 10:29 and the Blood of the Covenant

Question:

In the English Standard Version, Hebrews 10:29 reads, "How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?" My question is, in this verse, who is it that is "sanctified" by the "blood of the covenant?" Is it the apostate or is it Christ?

Answer:

Grammatically, "by which he was sanctified" can refer either to the apostate or to Christ.

If the reference is to Christ, it is Christ who is sanctified, set apart as our great high priest by the sacrificial shedding of his own blood. The apostate has spurned Christ and, specifically, his entire priestly office.

If the reference is to the apostate, then the apostate has acted hypocritically. He professed that it is by Christ's blood that forgiveness is effected, and membership in the covenant community secured. The benefits the apostate claimed as a member of God's visible covenant people are forfeited for he partook of them impenitently and in unbelief.

I am inclined toward the second interpretation. The apostate gathered with the sanctified, but in unbelief. He renounced the very blood of the covenant by which he once obtained access to this privileged position. Only fearful judgment awaits him.


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