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Hebrews 10:20

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

By a new and living way - It is a new way; no human being had ever before entered into the heaven of heavens; Jesus in human nature was the first, and thus he has opened the way to heaven to mankind, his own resurrection and ascension to glory being the proof and pledge of ours.

The way is called ὁδον προσφατον και ζωσαν, new or fresh, and living. This is evidently an allusion to the blood of the victim newly shed, uncoagulated, and consequently proper to be used for sprinkling. The blood of the Jewish victims was fit for sacrificial purposes only so long as it was warm and fluid, and might be considered as yet possessing its vitality; but when it grew cold, it coagulated, lost its vitality, and was no longer proper to be used sacrificially. Christ is here, in the allusion, represented as newly slain, and yet living; the blood ever considered as flowing and giving life to the world. The way by the old covenant neither gave life, nor removed the liability to death. The way to peace and reconciliation, under the old covenant, was through the dead bodies of the animals slain; but Christ is living, and ever liveth, to make intercession for us; therefore he is a new and living way.

In the Choephorae of Aeschylus, ver. 801, there is an expression like this of the apostle: -

Αγετε, των παλαι πεπραγμενων

Αυσασθ ' ἁιμα προσφατοις δικαις .

Agite, olim venditorum

Solvite sanguinem recenti vindicta.

This way, says Dr. Owen, is new,

  1. Because it was but newly made and prepared.
  • Because it belongs unto the new covenant.
  • Because it admits of no decays, but is always new, as to its efficacy and use, as in the day of its first preparation.
  • The way of the tabernacle waxed old, and so was prepared for a removal; but the Gospel way of salvation shall never be altered, nor changed, nor decay; it is always new, and remains for ever.
  • It is also called ζωσαν, living,

    1. In opposition to the way into the holiest under the tabernacle, which was by death; nothing could be done in it without the blood of a victim.
  • It was the cause of death to any who might use it, except the high priest himself; and he could have access to it only one day in the year.
  • It is called living, because it has a spiritual vital efficacy in our access to God.
  • It is living as to its effects; it leads to life, and infallibly brings those who walk in it unto life eternal.
  • Through the veil -

    As the high priest lifted up or drew aside the veil that separated the holy from the most holy place, in order that he might have access to the Divine Majesty; and as the veil of the temple was rent from the top to the bottom at the crucifixion of Christ, to show that the way to the holiest was then laid open; so we must approach the throne through the mediation of Christ, and through his sacrificial death. His pierced side is the way to the holiest. Here the veil - his humanity, is rent, and the kingdom of heaven opened to all believers.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    By a new and living way - By a new method or manner. It was a mode of access that was till then unknown. No doubt many were saved before the Redeemer came, but the method by which they approached God was imperfect and difficult. The word which is rendered here “new” - πρόσφατον prosphaton- occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means “slain, or killed thereto;” that is, “newly killed, just dead; and then fresh, recent.” Passow. It does not so much convey the idea that it is new in the sense that it had never existed before, as new in the sense that it is recent, or fresh. It was a way which was recently disclosed, and which had all the freshness of novelty. It is called a “living way,” because it is a method that imparts life, or because it leads to life and happiness. Doddridge renders it “ever-living way,” and supposes, in accordance with the opinion of Dr. Owen, that the allusion is to the fact that under the old dispensation the blood was to be offered as soon as it was shed, and that it could not be offered when it was cold and coagulated. The way by Christ was, however, always open. His blood was, as it were, always warm, and as if it had been recently shed. This interpretation seems to derive some support from the word which is rendered “new.” See above. The word “living,” also, has often the sense of perennial, or perpetual, as when applied to a fountain always running, in opposition to a pool that dries up (see the notes on John 4:10), and the new way to heaven may be called living - in all these respects. It is away that conducts to life. It is ever-living as if the blood which was shed always retained the freshness of what is flowing from the vein. And it is “perpetual” and “constant” like a fountain that always flows - for it is by a sacrifice whose power is perpetual and unchanging.

    Which he hath consecrated for us - Margin, “or new made.” The word here used means properly to renew, and then to initiate, to consecrate, to sanction. The idea is, that he has dedicated this way for our use; as if a temple or house were set apart for our service. It is a part consecrated by him for the service and salvation of man; a way of access to the eternal sanctuary for the sinner which has been set apart by the Redeemer for this service alone.

    Through the veil, that is to say, his flesh - The Jewish high priest entered into the most holy place through the veil that divided the holy from the most holy place. That entrance was made by his drawing the veil aside, and thus the interior sanctuary was laid open. But there has been much difficulty felt in regard to the sense of the expression used here. The plain meaning of the expression is, that the way to heaven was opened by means, or through the medium of the flesh of Jesus; that is, of his body sacrificed for sin, as the most holy place in the temple was entered by means or through the medium of the veil. We are not to suppose, however, that the apostle meant to say that there was in all respects a resemblance between the veil and the flesh of Jesus, nor that the veil was in any manner typical of his body, but there was a resemblance in the respect under consideration - to wit, in the fact that the holy place was rendered accessible by withdrawing the veil, and that heaven was rendered accessible through the slain body of Jesus. The idea is, that there is by means both of the veil of the temple, and of the body of Jesus, a medium of access to God. God dwelt in the most holy place in the temple behind the veil by visible symbols, and was to be approached by removing the veil; and God dwells in heaven, in the most holy place there, and is to be approached only through the offering of the body of Christ. Prof. Stuart supposes that the point of the comparison may be, that the veil of the temple operated as a screen to hide the visible symbol of the presence of God from human view, and that in like manner the body of Jesus might be regarded as a “kind of temporary tabernacle, or veil of the divine nature which dwelt within him.” and that “as the veil of the tabernacle concealed the glory of Yahweh in the holy of holies, from the view of people, so Christ‘s flesh or body screened or concealed the higher nature from our view, which dwelt within this veil, as God did of old within the veil of the temple.”

    See this and other views explained at length in the larger commentaries. It does not seem to me to be necessary to attempt to carry out the point of the comparison in all respects. The simple idea which seems to have been in the mind of the apostle was, that the veil of the temple and the body of Jesus were alike in this respect, that they were the medium of access to God. It is by the offering of the body of Jesus; by the fact that he was clothed with flesh, and that in his body he made an atonement for sin, and that with his body raised up from the dead he has ascended to heaven, that we have access now to the throne of mercy.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    The apostle having closed the first part of the epistle, the doctrine is applied to practical purposes. As believers had an open way to the presence of God, it became them to use this privilege. The way and means by which Christians enjoy such privileges, is by the blood of Jesus, by the merit of that blood which he offered up as an atoning sacrifice. The agreement of infinite holiness with pardoning mercy, was not clearly understood till the human nature of Christ, the Son of God, was wounded and bruised for our sins. Our way to heaven is by a crucified Saviour; his death is to us the way of life, and to those who believe this, he will be precious. They must draw near to God; it would be contempt of Christ, still to keep at a distance. Their bodies were to be washed with pure water, alluding to the cleansings directed under the law: thus the use of water in baptism, was to remind Christians that their conduct should be pure and holy. While they derived comfort and grace from their reconciled Father to their own souls, they would adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour in all things. Believers are to consider how they can be of service to each other, especially stirring up each other to the more vigorous and abundant exercise of love, and the practice of good works. The communion of saints is a great help and privilege, and a means of stedfastness and perseverance. We should observe the coming of times of trial, and be thereby quickened to greater diligence. There is a trying day coming on all men, the day of our death.
    Ellen G. White
    The Upward Look, 320.4

    We cannot please our Saviour more than by having faith in His promises. His mercies can come to you, and your prayers can come to Him. Nothing can break this line of communication. We must learn to bring all perplexities to Jesus Christ, for He will help us. He will listen to our requests. We may come to Him in full assurance of faith, nothing doubting, for He is the living Way.... UL 320.4

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    Ellen G. White
    This Day With God, 104.3

    As Christians we want a new and living experience every day. We want to learn how to trust Jesus, to believe in Him and confide everything to Him. Jacob was raised from a man of feebleness and defects, through faith in God in prayer, to be a prince with God. He prevailed through faith. God is omnipotent. Man is finite. In converse with God, we may lay the most secret thing of the soul open to Him—for He knows it all—but not to man.... TDG 104.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Lift Him Up, 176.2

    Here is the process, the refining, purifying process, to be carried on by the Lord of hosts. The work is most trying to the soul, but it is only through this process that the rubbish and defiling impurities can be removed. Our trials are all necessary to bring us close to our heavenly Father, in obedience to His will, that we may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness. God has given each of us capabilities, talents to improve. We need a new and living experience in the divine life, in order to do the will of God. No amount of past experience will suffice for the present, or will strengthen us to overcome the difficulties in our path. We must have new grace and fresh strength daily in order to be victorious. LHU 176.2

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    Ellen G. White
    The Upward Look, 233.4

    “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:19-25). UL 233.4

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