on Hebrews 10 :1
The law, having a shadow of good things to come - A shadow, σκια, signifies,
1. Literally, the shade cast from a body of any kind, interposed between the place on which the shadow is projected, and the sun or light; the rays of the light not shining on that place, because intercepted by the opacity of the body, through which they cannot pass.
2. It signifies, technically, a sketch, rude plan, or imperfect draught of a building, landscape, man, beast, etc.
3. It signifies, metaphorically, any faint adumbration, symbolical expression, imperfect or obscure image of a thing; and is opposed to σωμα, body, or the thing intended to be thereby defined.
4. It is used catachrestically among the Greek writers, as umbra is among the Latins, to signify any thing vain, empty, light, not solid; thus Philostratus, Vit. Soph., lib. i. cap. 20: Ὁτι σκια και ονειρατα αἱ ἡδοναι πασαι· All pleasures are but Shadows and dreams. And Cicero, in Pison., cap. 24: Omnes umbras falsae gloriae consectari. "All pursue the Shadows of False Glory." And again, De Offic., lib. iii. cap. 17: Nos veri juris germanaeque justitiae solidam et expressam effigiem nullam tenemus; umbra et itnaginibus utimur. "We have no solid and express effigy of true law and genuine justice, but we employ shadows and images to represent them."
And not the very image - Εικων, image, signifies,
1. A simple representation, from εικω, I am like.
2. The form or particular fashion of a thing.
3. The model according to which any thing is formed.
4. The perfect image of a thing as opposed to a faint representation.
5. Metaphorically, a similitude, agreement, or conformity.
The law, with all its ceremonies and sacrifices, was only a shadow of spiritual and eternal good. The Gospel is the image or thing itself, as including every spiritual and eternal good.
We may note three things here:
1. The shadow or general outline, limiting the size and proportions of the thing to be represented.
on Hebrews 10 :1
For the law having a shadow - That is, the whole of the Mosaic economy was a shadow; for so the word "Law" is often used. The word "shadow" here refers to a rough outline of anything, a mere sketch, such as a carpenter draws with a piece of chalk, or such as an artist delineates when he is about to make a picture. He sketches an outline of the object which he designs to draw, which has "some" resemblance to it, but is not the "very image;" for it is not yet complete. The words rendered "the very image" refer to a painting or statue which is finished, where every part is an exact copy of the original. The "good things to come" here refer to the future blessings which would be conferred on man by the gospel. The idea is, that under the ancient sacrifices there was an imperfect representation; a dim outline of the blessings which the gospel would impart to people. They were a typical representation; they were not such that it could be pretended that they would answer the purpose of the things themselves which they were to represent, and would make those who offered them perfect. Such a rude outline; such a mere sketch, or imperfect delineation, could no more answer the purpose of saving the soul than the rough sketch which an architect makes would answer the purpose of a house, or than the first outline which a painter draws would answer the purpose of a perfect and finished portrait. All that could be done by either would be to convey some distant and obscure idea of what the house or the picture might be, and this was all that was done by the Law of Moses.
Can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually - The sacrifices here particularly referred to were those which were offered on the great day of atonement. These were regarded as the most sacred and efficacious of all, and yet the apostle says that the very fact that they were offered every year showed that there must be some deficiency about them, or they would have ceased to be offered.
Make the comers thereunto perfect - They could not free them from the stains of guilt; they could not give ease to a troubled conscience; there was in them no efficacy by which sin could be put away; compare the notes on Hebrews 7:11; Hebrews 9:9.
on Hebrews 10 :1
10:1 From all that has been said it appears, that the law, the Mosaic dispensation, being a bare, unsubstantial shadow of good things to come, of the gospel blessings, and not the substantial, solid image of them, can never with the same kind of sacrifices, though continually repeated, make the comers thereunto perfect, either as to justification or sanctification. How is it possible, that any who consider this should suppose the attainments of David, or any who were under that dispensation, to be the proper measure of gospel holiness; and that Christian experience is to rise no higher than Jewish?