Hebrews 10:32-39

 |  November 28, 2016

  1. Locate the passage.

The final paragraph in the section begun at 10:18 and before the new sub-section on faith beginning at 11:1.

  1. Genre

Hortatory. Note the imperative in v. 32.

  1. Determine the structure of the text

A new paragraph begins with v. 32 and continues to the end of the chapter. The paragraph contains two sub-paragraphs: 10:32–34 and 10:35–39. Westfall observed the formal shift that takes place between 10:26–31 and 32–39 in terms of “person, tense, temporal reference and [sic] well as a semantic shift from warning to confidence. While vv. 26–31 are characterized by the third person present indicative and temporal reference to the present, vv. 32–39 are characterized by second person plural aorist imperative and temporal references to the past.[1]Westfall, Discourse Analysis, 247.

  1. Exegete the passage

Verse 32 begins with de “but” which also signals a shift by contrast with the previous paragraph. In contrast to the warning of the previous paragraph, the author now utters words of encouragement to his readers.

Verses 33 and 34 highlight the readers’ public exposure to insult and persecution, their solidarity with others who were so persecuted, their concern for those in prison (presumably who were there as a result of their Christian faith), and their own experience of having their property confiscated by the authorities. The historical setting behind these details is not given by the author and remains elusive.

Verses 10:35–39 function as a sub-paragraph and is introduced by the Greek inferential conjunction oun, “therefore,” signaling the author is drawing a conclusion from 10:32–34. Given all that the readers had endured in the past, the author challenges them not to “throw away” their “confidence.” The author makes use of litotes, a negative which implies a strong positive statement: “by all means hold fast your assurance no matter what comes!”

Verse 36 is subordinated to v. 35 by the use of gar,[2]gar is inferential here rather than causal. which provides the grounds for the preceding exhortation, and does so in counterpart fashion by pitting “endurance” against “throwing away.”

In vv. 37–38, the author injects a very important quotation of Hab 2:3–4. The author’s choice of this quotation is significant. He uses this quotation to launch the lengthy discourse on faith in Heb 11 and the theme of this text actually governs the rest of the epistle.

Verses 37–38 are introduced by the Greek subordinating conjunction gar which serves to provide the reason for the previous verse: Christians are to endure because they have not yet received God’s promise.

The author concludes with a balanced contrastive comment in v. 39 concerning two classes of people.

See Neva Miller, The Epistle to the Hebrews: An Analytical and Exegetical Handbook, 316-25; J. Harold Greenlee, Hebrews: An Exegetical Summary, 412-27; and David L. Allen, Hebrews, 527-35, for more detailed exegetical and semantic analysis of the text.

  1. Let the structure of the text drive the structure of the sermon.

10:32-34 (most important information is found in vv. 32-22, with v. 34 functioning as grounds for the exhortation in v. 32.)

10:35-39 (This sub-paragraph functions as the result of what is a preceding inference in vv. 32-34. This sub-paragraph is the most dominant of the two sub-paragraphs.)

A. 10:32-34

I. 10:35-39

References   [ + ]

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