How can sinners draw near to the living and true God? How can those who have dirty hands and hearts enter into his presence? The author of Hebrews asserts that not only can sinners draw near to God, but they must do so if they are to avoid God’s judgment. Let’s see how the author of Hebrews unpacks how sinners can draw near to God through the sufficient work of Jesus with these comments from the ESV John MacArthur Study Bible.

Drawing Near in Full Assurance

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:19-25

Drawing Near with Confidence

10:19 As on the earlier occasion, the writer addresses his Jewish brethren with an invitation to leave behind the Levitical system and to appropriate the benefits of the new covenant in Christ. Confidence is an important emphasis in the epistle. Because of the high-priestly ministry of Christ and his finished sacrifice, the Hebrews can enter boldly into the presence of God.

Drawing Near through the Death of Jesus

10:20 In Greek, the word “new” originally meant “newly slain,” but was understood as “recent” when the epistle was written. The way is new because the covenant is new. It is not a way provided by the Levitical system.

Though it is the path of eternal life, it was not opened by Christ’s sinless life—it required his death. The Hebrews were invited to embark on this way, which is characterized by the eternal life of the Son of God who loved them and gave himself for them (cf. John 14:6; Gal. 2:20). The Christian faith was known as “the Way” among the Jews of Jerusalem (Acts 9:2) as well as among the Gentiles (Acts 19:23). Those receiving this epistle understood quite clearly that the writer was inviting them to become Christians—to join those who had been persecuted for their faith. True believers in their midst were even then suffering persecution, and those who had not committed themselves to the Way were asked to become targets of the same persecution.

When Jesus’ flesh was torn at his crucifixion, so was the temple curtain that symbolically separated people from God’s presence (Matt. 27:51). When the high priest on the Day of Atonement entered the Most Holy Place, the people waited outside for him to return. When Christ entered the heavenly temple, he did not return. Instead, he opened the curtain and exposed the Most Holy Place so that we could follow him. Here “flesh” is used as was “body” (Heb. 10:10) and “blood” (9:7, 12, 14, 18, 22) to refer to the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus.

Drawing Near in Sincerity, Security, Salvation, and Sanctification

10:22 Based on what had been written, this was the heart of the invitation to those in the assembly who had not come to Christ. The same invitation is found in the first NT book to be written (James 4:8), where James reveals the corollary of drawing near to God: God will draw near to you. Asaph taught that it is a good thing to draw near to God (Ps. 73:28). The full restoration of Israel to God’s blessing is dependent upon them drawing near to him (Jer. 30:18–22). In other words, it is an eschatological invitation coming to them in “these last days” (Heb. 1:2). This verse describes the prerequisites for entering the presence of God (cf. Ps. 15): sincerity, security, salvation, and sanctification.


The Greek term behind “true” carries the ideas of being sincere, genuine, and without ulterior motive (cf. Jer. 24:7; Matt. 15:8). This one thing these particular Hebrews lacked: genuine commitment to Christ.


Utter confidence in the promises of God is intended by the phrase “full assurance of faith.” Such confidence will result in heartfelt assurance or security, which will allow them to persevere through the coming trials. This is the first of a familiar triad: faith, hope (10:23), and love (v. 24).

Salvation and Sanctification

The imagery in this verse is taken from the sacrificial ceremonies of the old covenant, where blood was sprinkled as a sign of cleansing, and the priests were continually washing themselves and the sacred vessels in basins of clear water. Being “washed with pure water” does not refer to Christian baptism, but to the Holy Spirit’s purifying one’s life by means of the word of God (cf. Eph. 5:25–26; Titus 3:5). This is purely a new covenant picture (Jer. 31:33; Ezek. 36:25–26).

Drawing Near and Not Letting Go

10:23 Holding on, or the perseverance of the saints, is the human side of eternal security. It is not something done to maintain salvation, but is rather an evidence of salvation. The confession of our hope is an affirmation of salvation. The idea is not to follow any inclination that leads back to the old covenant. In other ancient literature, the same Greek term is used of enduring torture. Persecution will come (2 Tim. 3:12), but God is faithful. Temptations will abound, but God is faithful to provide an escape (cf. 1 Cor. 10:13). God’s promises are reliable (1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Thess. 5:24; Jude 24–25). With that confidence, the believer can persevere.

10:24 The invitation must be responded to individually, but the response also has a corporate side. They are members of a community of Hebrews whose initial attraction to Christ is in danger of eroding. They have been considering a return to the Levitical system of Judaism to avoid the persecution (cf. John 12:42–43). Mutual encouragement to make full commitment is crucial. The English word “paroxysm” is derived from the Greek term used here (“stir up”). The meaning in this context is that of stimulating or inciting someone to do something. In this case, it is love and good works (cf. 2 Cor. 8:1–7).

10:25 Collective and corporate worship is a vital part of spiritual life. The warning here is against apostasy in an eschatological context (cf. 2 Thess. 2:1). The reference is to the approaching “day” (the second coming of Christ; cf. Rom. 13:12; 1 Cor. 3:13; 1 Thess. 5:4). Encouraging takes the form of comfort, warning, or strengthening. There is an eschatological urgency to the encouraging that requires an increased activity as the coming of Christ approaches (cf. Heb. 3:13; 1 Thess. 4:18).

Keep Drawing Near with the ESV MacArthur Study Bible

The ESV MacArthur Study Bible combines the living and active word of God with study notes from the faithful teaching of John MacArthur. These notes help unpack the meaning of Scripture so that you can grasp the truth of God’s word and draw near to him through faith. Visit our store to purchase today (also available with the NASB, NKJV, or NIV)!

Write A Comment