on Hebrews 10 :38
Now the just shall live by faith - Ὁ δε δικαιος εκ πιστεως ζησεται· But the just by faith, i.e. he who is justified by faith, shall live - shall be preserved when this overflowing scourge shall come. See this meaning of the phrase vindicated, Romans 1:17. And it is evident, both from this text, and Galatians 3:11, that it is in this sense that the apostle uses it.
But if any man draw back - Και εαν ὑποστειληται· But if he draw back; he, the man who is justified by faith; for it is of him, and none other, that the text speaks. The insertion of the words any man, if done to serve the purpose of a particular creed, is a wicked perversion of the words of God. They were evidently intended to turn away the relative from the antecedent, in order to save the doctrine of final and unconditional perseverance; which doctrine this text destroys.
My soul shall have no pleasure in him - My very heart shall be opposed to him who makes shipwreck of faith and a good conscience. The word ὑποστελλειν signifies, not only to draw back, but to slink away and hide through fear. In this sense it is used by the very best Greek writers, as well as by Josephus and Philo. As dastards and cowards are hated by all men, so those that slink away from Christ and his cause, for fear of persecution or secular loss, God must despise; in them he cannot delight; and his Spirit, grieved with their conduct, must desert their hearts, and lead them to darkness and hardness.
on Hebrews 10 :38
Now the just shall live by faith - This is a part of the quotation from Habakkuk Hab 2:3-4, which was probably commenced in the previous verse; see the passage fully explained in the notes on Romans 1:17. The meaning in the connection in which it stands here, in accordance with the sense in which it was used by Habakkuk, is, that the righteous should live by "continued confidence" in God. They should pass their lives not in doubt, and fear, and trembling apprehension, but in the exercise of a calm trust in God. In this sense it accords with the scope of what the apostle is here saying. He is exhorting the Christians whom he addressed, to perseverance in their religion even in the midst of many persecutions. To encourage this he says, that it was a great principle that the just, that is, all the pious, ought to live in the constant exercise of "faith in God." They should not confide in their own merits, works, or strength. They should exercise constant reliance on their Maker, and he would keep them even unto eternal life. The sense is, that a persevering confidence or belief in the Lord will preserve us amidst all the trials and calamities to which we are exposed.
But if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him - This also is a quotation from Habakkuk 2:4, but from the Septuagint, not from the Hebrew. "Why" the authors of the Septuagint thus translated the passage, it is impossible now to say. The Hebrew is rendered in the common version, "Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him;" or more literally, "Behold the scornful; his mind shall not be happy" (Stuart); or as Gesenius renders it, "See, he whose soul is unbelieving shall, on this account, be unhappy." The sentiment there is, that the scorner or unbeliever in that day would be unhappy, or would not prosper - לה ישרה lo' yaasharaah. The apostle has retained the general sense of the passage, and the idea which he expresses is, that the unbeliever, or he who renounces his religion, will incur the divine displeasure. He will be a man exposed to the divine wrath; a man on whom God cannot look but with disapprobation. By this solemn consideration, therefore, the apostle urges on them the importance of perseverance, and the guilt and danger of apostasy from the Christian faith. If such a case should occur, no matter what might have been the former condition, and no matter what love or zeal might have been evinced, yet such an apostasy would expose the individual to the certain wrath of God. His former love could not save him, any more than the former obedience of the angels saved them from the horrors of eternal chains and darkness, or than the holiness in which Adam was created saved him and his posterity from the calamities which his apostasy incurred.
on Hebrews 10 :38