The Enigmatic Book of Hebrews (Part 4)


Read the series.

A Premillennial Reading of Hebrews (3)

Christ’s Body a Covenant Sacrifice

The author of Hebrews chose as his go-to text the “Old Greek” of the OT, but not exactly what scholars mean when they say “LXX.”1 His singular use of Psalm 40:6-8, especially its translation of Psalm 40:6 as “a body you have prepared for me.” As Thomas Constable notes,

Psalm 40:6 reads: “You have opened [i.e., cleaned out] my ears,” whereas Hebrews 10:5 says: “You have prepared a body me.” The idea is the same, the former expression being a figurative allusion (Exod. 21:6; cf. Isa. 50:4-5), and the latter a literal description. God had prepared His servant to hear His Word so that he would obey it.2

After speaking of Christ’s self-sacrifice, the author now turns to the physical body which God preordained for the Son of God to be incarnated in. I think that if we bring this passage into conversation with Genesis 1:26-27 we may say that the image of God, which I hold to be mainly spiritual, might include our physicality if we can say that the body of Jesus is the prototypical body after which Adam’s body was fashioned. Be that as it may, in Hebrews 10 the source of our sanctification is by means of that body (Heb. 10:10). But this opens up a consideration when reading the words of institution of the Lord’s Supper in Luke 22:19-20 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. It appears that not only the blood of Jesus is a New covenant offering but the body of Jesus was too. Therefore, when Christians partake of the elements of the Lord’s Table both symbols, the bread and the juice, signify our New covenant credentials, which is why Paul warns unworthy persons against taking both the elements (1 Cor. 11:27-29).


He is now described as “waiting.” But what is He waiting for? Once more the eschatological bent of the book kicks in. He is,

waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. – Hebrews 10:13.

We recognize this as a reference to Psalm 110:1c. Those interpreters opposed to premillennialism want to assign this passage to the present reign of Jesus from heaven, but that is not what the writer of Hebrews is doing here. The inspired author is telling us that the fulfillment of Psalm 110:1-2 (Christ’s enemies becoming His footstool and Him ruling from Zion) lies in the future. This statement may create some confusion in some readers, for, they might ask, how can Jesus be serving as High Priest of the New covenant if He is not yet reining in the New covenant Kingdom?

The answer is that the day of Christ’s power (Psa. 110:3) has not yet arrived, but having risen and ascended, nothing is stopping Him from exercising His priestly office. The two roles, High Priest and King, are not said to be coterminous. If this simple explanation is not sufficient for some then I respectfully leave them to face Hebrews 10:13 in their quandary. The “Day” however, is approaching (Heb. 10:25).

A Stern Warning Against Turning Away

Having clarified the divine intent in sending the incarnate Son into the world to remit sin through the New covenant (Heb. 10:5-18), there follows a verbal blast that unsettles all who read it.3 The reader is warned that to go back on their profession is to tread on Christ (who has just been described as making His enemies His footstool), and treating as common “the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified.” (Heb. 10:29). The blood of the New covenant has set this person apart, so it must have been applied. Yet the person is told “ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). Here, as in Hebrews 6:5-6, there is no chance of repentance. (See also the example of Esau who “found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears,” Heb. 12:16-17).

To whom is this aimed? The two quotations from Deuteronomy 32:35 and 36 in Hebrews 10:30 aim it squarely at Jews. The quotation from Habakkuk 2:3 calls to mind the second advent (Heb. 10:37), whereas the Habakkuk 2:4 quotation (Heb. 10:38) exhorts the reader to keep going and not turn back into perdition.

I will not tarry now to speak of Hebrews 11—only to say that the impression left on the reader is of the ongoing sojourn of the faithful and it’s carrying forward the story of Israel into the future.4 The insertion of a short exposition of the faith of Abraham in Hebrews 11:17-19 is particularly poignant as the writer highlights the hermeneutical aspects of true faith.5

The eschatological note is struck again in Hebrews 12:25-28, where the reader is reminded that they are “receiving a kingdom” (Heb. 12:28). Indeed, in the final chapter we are encouraged to “go outside the camp” (Heb. 13:13) and view ourselves as having here “no continuing city,” but seeking “the one to come” (Heb. 13:14). This world is not our home, but it will be.


1 William L. Lane, Hebrews 1 – 8, cxviii.

2 Thomas L. Constable, Notes on Hebrews (2023 edition), ad loc:

3 See below.

4 Richard B. Hays, Reading with the Grain of Scripture, 314-315.

5 See “The Hermeneutical Importance of Abraham’s Faith” below.


"how can Jesus be serving as High Priest of the New covenant if He is not yet reining in the New covenant Kingdom?"

Does not Revelation 3:21 say that He is presently seated on His Throne? Does not only a king sit on a throne designated for himself? Verse 21 says the He has already conquered (not as priest, but as a king). And does it not say that this throne that he is presently sitting on, bestowed to Him by His Father? The throne was given to Him by His Father, because He has now conquered.

The verse says "I will" (future) as with Rev. 3:5 & 12. Christ is not sitting on His throne but the Father's. Ergo, He is not reigning now. The High Priestly work of Christ is not dependent upon His Kingly reign. It is a different office.

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.