Hebrews 10

The Lasting Sacrifice

Insufficient Sacrifices

For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (Hebrews 10:4).

Under the Mosaic law, sacrifice was required regularly to deal with sin. The people of Rome also sacrificed often in order to appease their gods. The author of Hebrews argues that peace with God does not come through animal sacrifices but through the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus. This Roman relief depicts a man leading a bull, probably to sacrifice at a pagan temple. It was photographed at the Vatican Museums.

Temple Offerings

In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure (Hebrews 10:6).

This model shows the stone sacrificial altar in the Second Temple. There was a ramp leading up to the main platform, where the sacrifices were burned on woodpiles, using coals from the fire which burned continuously in the center. A stone ledge surrounded the altar halfway up, allowing the priests to walk around the outside of the platform. This model of the temple is located on the roof of the Aish HaTorah building in Jerusalem and overlooks the Temple Mount.


We have been sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Hebrews 10:10).

The verb “sanctify” (Gk. hagiazō) means to set something aside for a special purpose, usually in a cultic sense. Something that has been sanctified is “holy” (Gk. hagios). In the Torah, the language of sanctification/consecration is used widely for whatever is set apart for God, such as the seventh day of the week (Gen 2:3; Exod 20:8), firstborn sons (Exod 13:2), the people at Sinai (Exod 19:14), and offerings (Exod 28:38). This pot from Beersheba was apparently used as a collection pot for things that were contributed to a cultic center, perhaps even to be taken to the temple in Jerusalem. The word “holy” (Heb. qodesh) is scratched on the outside of the pot. It dates to the 8th century BC.


Waiting from that time until His enemies should be made a footstool for His feet (Hebrews 10:13).

A footstool was often used by those of high rank in the Greco-Roman world. It allowed them to sit on an elevated seat without their feet dangling. Although it is commonly seen in use by emperors, the footstool was also used by others in the aristocracy. This fresco comes from bedroom B of Villa Farnesina in Rome. It portrays a woman, probably intended to represent the goddess Aphrodite, sitting on a throne, with her feet on a footstool.

Ritual Washing

Having our bodies washed with pure water (Hebrews 10:22).

In Christianity, baptism is a ritual symbolizing spiritual cleansing by physically washing the body with water. Originally, baptism seems to have taken place primarily in naturally occurring bodies of water (e.g., John 3:23; Acts 8:36; Acts 16:13-15), but with the legalization of Christianity and the construction of church buildings in the 4th century AD, purpose-built baptismals began to appear. This photo shows a baptismal in the Octagon Church of Paul in Philippi.

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