Friday, 1 February 2019
But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, Hebrews 10:15
The author has already cited that the Holy Spirit has spoken out utterances concerning Christ, such as in verse 3:11 and in verse 9:8. In stating that the Holy Spirit has spoken, and then in citing verses from the Old Testament, the author is showing his complete conviction that he believes that Scripture is inspired by God through the Holy Spirit. This is exactly what Jesus also stated, and it is repeated by Paul and by Peter.
In the case of this verse, the author again brings in this truth by saying, “But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us.” He is making the adamant statement that what he will say is from God as revealed through the third Person of the Godhead. He then says, “for after He had said before.” It is a rather perplexing phrase, which scholars have struggled to explain, but it simply needs to be kept in the context of the passage.
In verse 10:8, he said, “Previously.” This was quoting the psalm which was being applied to Christ Jesus. In verse 10:9, he said, “then He said.” This was again applying words of the psalm to Christ Jesus. Now, we have this verse, once again given by the Holy Spirit, which will cite Jeremiah 31 (which has already been cited in Chapter 8), and which is once again being applied to Christ Jesus.
What is happening is exactly what Jesus said in John 5:39 –
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”
It is a thought again expressed by Jesus in John 15:26, 27 –
“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.”
The author is showing that the things written before by the prophets, and the things which will be written after by the apostles, are inspired of God through the Holy Spirit in order to testify to the Person of Jesus Christ. With this understanding, the author will next again cite the words of Jeremiah 31 to now more fully explain what he had previously introduced. In his citation, he will follow the train of thought in Jeremiah 31 demonstrating an “after,” meaning a conclusion, from what he said “before,” meaning within the citation itself. In other words, the author is saying –
1) I cited Jeremiah 31 already (before).
2) In that citation I said, “X.”
3) And then in that citation (after X), I said “Y.”
The contents of this thought will be revealed in the coming two verses.
Life application: In this verse, the author uses the truth that all Scripture was given by the Holy Spirit to point to Christ. He pens with the certain conviction that what was said in the past via the prophets, and under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, verifies his claims about the supremacy of Christ’s work. It also verifies to the recipients (the Hebrew people) that the Old Testament itself claims that the Old Covenant would be superseded. This is a wonderful point to start with when witnessing to Jewish people.
To make claims about Christ, or the superiority of the New Testament, from the New Testament, is called “circular reasoning.” It is the same as making claims for the validity of the Bible from the Bible. Using a source to justify itself may rightly lead to rejection, unless something external confirms what is being said. In the case of the New Testament, an argument for it can be made from the Old. This is what the author has been doing and will continue to do. When you witness to others about Jesus, unless you have external information to validate what you say, they have every right to reject you. What externals are acceptable? What issues should we bring up? Some are 1) the nature of man, including sin, responsibility, etc; and 2) the composition of nature which demonstrates an intelligent Being. Further, we should also pray for 3) the participation of the Holy Spirit. (Do you pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide your witness?)
These and other external verifications of the content of the Bible keep you from using circular reasoning and looking impotent. Paul used all of these when He spoke to those in the Aeropagus in Acts 17 – and so should we. His speech led to conversions and he only brought in a biblical point (the resurrection) at the very end of his speech.
Lord, you’ve given us abundant evidence for the truth of the Bible. Help us to use these evidences to support what the Bible claims. How wonderful it is to read Your word and then to see how it is supported by what we see around us! Give us wisdom to use these tools effectively in bringing many to a saving knowledge of You! Amen.