What does Heb 10:26-27 mean?


#1

“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” -Heb 10:26-27

Does it mean , if you sin even if you know you are sinning, it’s unforgiveable and your going to hell?


#2

This scripture has in the past also caused me to wonder about my salvation. But the Church
teaches that sincere contrition is what is needed for forgiveness, sacramental confession if you can. “A contrite heart you will not spurn”.


#3

I think it is referring to the sin of apostasy.


#4

It’s most helpful to read the line within the context of all Hebrews 10. Paul seems to be reminding his audience of how intense the faith had been in them soon after Jesus resurrection and he’s saying let us continue to draw close to God with sincere hearts and faith in Jesus.

See the curtain has now been torn away and we can all meet within the sanctuary that Christs sacrifice reveals. Paul is saying, continue to meet in faith at this place, unlike others who’ve fallen away from this practice. He’s saying that where we used to offer animal sacrifice continually in atonement for mans sins, now with Jesus death, a sacrifice once and for all time, our newly acquired faith behooves us to gather 'round this memorial of Christs life, death and resurrection as a staple of faith.

He’s saying, now that there is no need for continual animal sacrifices and there is no need for anyone to ever sacrifice himself in the way of Jesus’s ‘once and for all time’ sacrifice… how will we satisfy our inbuilt need to atone for our sins before our God, if we don’t continue to personally participate in Christs sacrifice, day after day? He’s saying we would just be living in a primitive ever present fear of the great unknowable God off in the distance.

So it’s not saying that if we sin after coming to know the truth, we’ll go to hell. He’s saying that we have to continue to participate fully in Christs sacrifice in order to satisfy our own need to atone for sin that is inbuilt into the human DNA.

That’s why Catholic Eucharist is so very important for the world. We don’t just gather to recall Jesus sacrifice, we are there participating in the ‘once and for all time’ event that satisfies mans need and duty to atone for our sins.


#5

Jim Blackburn
Catholic Answers Apologist

Re: Does Hebrews 10:26-27 speak of another unforgivable sin?

The only sin that is unforgivable is that which is never repented of – that which one never sincerely seeks forgiveness for. This passage in Hebrews defines mortal sin which, if left un-repented, results in the loss of salvation.

Mortal sin requires grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent (cf. Catechism, 1857). Notice that the author of Hebrews speaks of sinning willfully (deliberate consent) after receiving knowledge of the truth. He goes on (v. 29) to describe the grave matter of which he is writing: spurning the Son of God, profaning the blood of the covenant, and outraging the Spirit of grace. These sins committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent are mortal sins and they will result in the loss of salvation if left un-repented.

Church Father s. John Chrysostom writes in Homily 20 on Hebrews:

Hebrews 10:26-27

  1. Trees which have been planted, and have had the advantage of all other care, and the hands and the labors of the cultivator, and yet yield no return for the labors, are pulled up by the roots, and handed over to the fire. So somewhat of this kind takes place also in the case of our Illumination. For when Christ has planted us, and we have enjoyed the watering of the Spirit, and then show no fruit; fire, even that of Hell, awaits us, and flame unquenchable.

Paul therefore having exhorted them to love and to bringing forth the fruit of good works, and having urged them from the kindlier [considerations] (What are these? That we have an entrance into the holy of holies, “the new way which He has inaugurated for us.” Hebrews 10:20), does the same again from the more gloomy ones, speaking thus. For having said, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more, as you see the day approaching” Hebrews 10:25, this being sufficient for consolation, he added, “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth.” There is need, he means, of good works, yea, very great need, “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins.” You were cleansed; you were set free from the charges against you, you have become a son. If then thou return to your former vomit, there awaits you on the other hand excommunication and fire and whatever such things there are. For there is no second sacrifice.

  1. At this place we are again assailed by those who take away repentance, and by those who delay to come to baptism. The one saying, that it is not safe for them to come to baptism, since there is no second remission: And the other asserting that it is not safe to impart the mysteries to those who have sinned, if there is no second remission.

What shall we say then to them both? That he does not take away repentance, nor the propitiation through repentance, nor does he thrust away and cast down with despair the fallen. He is not thus an enemy of our salvation; but what? He takes away the second Washing. For he did not say, no more is there repentance, or no more is there remission, but “no more” is there a “sacrifice,” that is, there is no more a second Cross. For this is what he means by sacrifice. “For by one sacrifice,” he says, “He has perfected forever them that are sanctified” Hebrews 10:14; not like the Jewish [rites.]. For this reason he has treated so much throughout concerning the Sacrifice, that it is one, even one; not wishing to show this only, that herein it differed from the Jewish [rites], but also to make [men] more steadfast, so that they might no longer expect another sacrifice according to the Jewish law.

“For,” says he, “if we sin willfully.” See how he is disposed to pardon. He says, “if we sin willfully,” so that there is pardon for those [who sin] not willfully. “After the knowledge of the truth”: He either means, of Christ, or of all doctrines. “There remains no more sacrifice for sins,” but what? “A certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries.” By “Adversaries” he means not the unbelievers, but those also who do what is against virtue; or [else he means] that the same fire shall receive them of the household also, which [receives] “the adversaries.” Then expressing its devouring nature, he says, as if giving it life, “fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries.” For as a wild beast when irritated and very fierce and savage, would not rest till it could lay hold on some one and eat him up; so also that fire, like one goaded by indignation, whatever it can lay hold of does not let go, but devours and tears it to pieces.

  1. Next he adds also the reason of the threat, that it is on good grounds, that it is just; for this contributes to confidence, when we show that it is just.

#6

From the Haydock Commentary:

Ver. 25. Not forsaking our assembly.[6] St. Chrysostom understands the assemblies of Christians, where they met to celebrate the divine mysteries. Others expound it of not leaving the faith and communion of the Catholic Church by turning apostates: this is confirmed by the following words: for if we sin wilfully,...there is now left no sacrifice for sins. The Novatian heretics understood no pardon for sins after baptism. St. Chrysostom and others understood no second baptism, wherewith to be cleansed in the same manner as before; but the most probable interpretation, and most agreeable to the text and doctrine of St. Paul, seems to be, that now remained no sacrifice for sins, i.e. no other sacrifice but that of Christ, which the apostate renouncing, by quitting and abandoning his faith, thereby cuts himself off from the very groundwork and foundation of salvation, as long as he continues in his apostacy. So that nothing remains for him but a dreadful expectation[7] of God's just and severe judgments. (Witham)

Ver. 26. If we sin wilfully. He speaks of the sin of wilful apostacy from the known truth; after which, as we cannot be baptized again, we cannot expect to have that abundant remission of sins, which Christ purchased by his death, applied to our souls in that ample manner as it is in baptism; but we have rather all manner of reason to look for a dreadful judgment; the more, because apostates from the know truth seldom or never have the grace to return to it. (Challoner)

And from the RSV-CE (note the heading)

A Call to Persevere

19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

26 For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries. 28 A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.


#7

In seeking to understand Hebrews 10:26–27 is important to pay attention to two words that occur at and near the beginning of verse 26: Ἑκουσίως … ἁμαρτανόντων.

When I hear a speaker say “in the Greek it says …” I discover that the speaker almost always does not really understand Greek. Further, the main point I am going to assert here is something that first year students of koine (New Testament) Greek generally know, I do not want to be dismissed as one of those pseudo-know it all’s I beginning my comments with in the Greek it says! Participles at times have noticeably varying kinds of meanings depending on the word and the context, however there is nothing wrong with at least beginning with the standard, upfront meaning of a word or participle.

Ἑκουσίως describes something as being willful, deliberate, or voluntary. This should be fairly clear, noncontroversial, and a ready part of most interpretations.

However, ἁμαρτανόντων is a present active participle, and as such its standard, upfront meaning includes at least the concept, if not the actual meaning of, “while.” This is not some goofy obscure meaning I am imposing on the situation and there are other possible constructions, nevertheless the concept of something happening while the main verb is happening is the expected translation/interpretation of a present active participle. Further, that expected translation/interpretation in this case just happens to be consistent with what we have read elsewhere in Scripture, have been taught, and basically believe.

Here then is my take on this potentially thorny and often scary passage (essentially the RSV–CE):
“26 For while we [yes, we] sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer [no further, no more, sometimes translated no future] remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries.”

In other words, if we are sufficiently mature and taught regarding the faith but still reject the Lord and sin (in additional ways), then WHILE we are rejecting Christ and sinning against God, there is no future, plan B, additional sacrifice / atonement for sins. We must go back and get ourselves right with Christ because there is no other way to avoid the fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire.

Check out the earlier verses in this chapter in the RSV–CE has previously quoted by po18guy.


#8

Here is what the Douay-Rheims Study Bible says in the footnotes…

26. If we sin willingly. As the Calvinists abuse other like places against the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, so they abuse this as the Novatians did before them, to prove that a heretic, apostate, or any that willfully forsakes the truth, can never be forgiven. Which (as is before declared in the 6th chapter) is most wicked blasphemy; the meaning of this being, as is there said, only to terrify the Hebrews, that, falling from Christ, they cannot so easily have the host of Christ’s death applied to them because they cannot be baptized any more, but must pass by sacramental penance, and satisfaction, and other hard remedies which Christ has prescribed after Baptism in the Church’s discipline. Therefore St. Cyril said, (li. 5. in Jo. c. 17) “Penance is not excluded by these words of Paul, but the renewing by the laver of regeneration. He does not here take away the second or third remission of sins (for he is not such an enemy to our salvation) but the host, which is Christ, he denies that it is to be offered again upon the cross.” So said this holy Doctor. And by this place and the like you see, how perilous a thing it is for heretics and ignorant persons to read the Scriptures. Which, by following their own fancy, they pervert to their damnation.


#9

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