Monday, 18 February 2019
But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: Hebrews 10:32
The author now changes from words of warning to words of encouragement. This is something he has done before. He tells of the perils associated with the issue at hand, and then he encourages his audience concerning it. His warnings went from verse 10:26 – 10:31. The words of encouragement now go until the end of the chapter.
And so, to encourage them, he gives a contrasting “But.” It is to remind them that though the things he warned against are possible, they have already proven that, as a group, it is unlikely that it will come about. In this, he asks them to “recall the former days.” It is obvious that they had been tested in the past, and they had prevailed in remaining strong. In recalling the past, he is asking them to continue in that same strength they once relied upon.
He then says that those former days of trial were, “after you were illuminated.” Here, the translators chose to translate the Greek as “illuminated.” However, the same word, using the same context and parsing, was translated as “enlightened” in verse 6:4. In order to maintain consistency of thought, it should be translated as such here as well. He is making a statement concerning his thoughts there which now require encouragement.
From there he notes that after their enlightenment, “you endured a great struggle.” The word is athlésis, and it is a noun found only here. One can see the root of our modern word “athlete” in it. Paul had used the verb form of the word when writing to Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:5. He is saying that they had endured this great contest at some time in the past, and it was “with sufferings.”
Here again, he uses a word that was previously used when speaking of Christ Jesus. In verses 2:9 and 2:10, he wrote of Christ’s sufferings. It is likely that he is noting that just as Christ suffered, so did his readers. Christ prevailed over them, and so did they. He is encouraging them to continue on in that same way now. Again, Paul used this same word twice in 2 Corinthians 1 (and elsewhere) –
“For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. 6 Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.” 2 Corinthians 1:5, 6
The consistency of terminology between Paul’s letters and those of Hebrews continues to give a strong indication that Hebrews was, in fact, penned by Paul.
Life application: The author is reminding his audience of the trials that these people had shouldered. In remembering, he asks them to stand now just as “you stood your ground.” Certainly, this is applicable to us today. Some of us came to Christ at church, via a radio program, or maybe a knock on the door. For many, there were tears of release from bondage, tears of anguish over past sins, and maybe tears of joy at the promise of eternal life in the presence of this wonderful Lord. At the same time, some may have felt the stress of giving up an old style of life which was incompatible with the life Christ expects. Some may have faced criticism from family, friends, or coworkers. Whatever trials – be they small or great – that arose, there was a willingness to face them because of the precious faith found in Christ. Has that faith diminished? Has that faith gotten cold or been altogether abandoned? The Bible asks you to look to the former days and remember your willingness to endure. The promise in Christ is sure and your faith will be rewarded.
O Lord, we look to You in anticipation of the glory ahead, but we need You to be with us now during our great trials of faith and testing as well. Thank You for the promise that You will never leave us nor forsake us. Glory, honor, and majesty…they belong to You alone! Amen.