Hebrews 10:19-24 – LOGIC & SCRIPTURE


19 Therefore, brothers, since we* have confidence for the entrance into the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus,
20 by the new and living way which he inaugurated for us through the curtain, that is, his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
22 let us approach with a true heart in the full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for the one who promised is faithful.
24 And let us think about how to stir one another up to love and good works,

The preacher in this passage creates a set of 3 syllogisms or arguments. The syllogisms are enthymemes or partially constructed arguments.

The arrangement is a little different compared to a more common example found in this letter to the Hebrews or other New Testament letters. The “Therefore,” indicates a possible argument in verse 19, which it in fact does. The arrangement of terms is not in the usual order. That is, the conclusion statement is not immediately after the therefore. Symbolically after a therefore of a common syllogism with a middle term (B) stated somewhere, it would be, “Therefore, all A is C.”  However, the remainder of verse 19 is not a conclusion, which follows the, “therefore.” Rather, the rest of 19 is the middle term (B)—in categorical logic, or if constructed as a hypothetical syllogism it would be the predicate of the Antecedent.

The conclusions (Thus, A is C.) is repeated 3 different times in verses 22, 23, and 24. Each has the same subject (A), which is the church audience, “us” both directly and in a broader sense to the entire elect church; however, each conclusion brings a new Major or (C) term.

What makes these sets of three different Major terms work is that they are all ethical conclusions.  The subject is the audience; namely, the subject—broadly speaking—is the universal Christian church which is used like a place holder (x) in Predicate Logic, so that Johnny who is a Christian is able to say, “Johnny (x), being a Christian, is surround by a great cloud of witnesses.  Also, the middle term is laden with Christian ontology and theology, which then the preacher demonstrates gives a necessary connection to 3 different Christian “oughts,” or “religion,” or in philosophy “axiology/ethics.”  Dealing with the broad scope of the B term, which is about God’s elect children having Bold Access to the throne of God, then it is obvious there will be more than one connection for how Christians “ought” to live in such a reality.

Seeing that, the focus is about the middle term’s (B) “necessary connection” to three religious ethics (C), then the syllogisms we will make will be hypothetical rather than a categorical one, for the hypothetical syllogism naturally focus on this aspect better.


The First ought. The order of these arguments is similar to the order of the First and Second greatest commandments. Our first ought in light of a bold access to God’s inner throne room or inner sanctuary is not “love your neighbor,”; rather, it is loving God, which is stated as drawing near to God with a clear conscience that no longer remembers our sin. However, it is more than that, for in context of this preacher’s sermon is his emphases of drawing near to a sympathetic God who will answer your prayers for help; that is, drawing near to God is not only understanding His transcendence but His immanence:

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.[1]

Drawing near to God and obtaining His promises of salvation, help, healing and miracles is a gospel commanded and not merely a suggestion; it is the first Christian ethic in light of Jesus’ blood that established bold access to the presence of God.  The emphasis of the first application for God’s good news, is to use this bold access. We are commanded to use the reconciliation given to us. We are to stand at those ancient doors, which lead to God’s holy and glorious throne room, and open them up as if we belong there, because we do. What Jesus has done for us is truly awesome! Like a prince, we are to march in as a child of God—with all eyes watching us. We are to make our request known to a Father, as if He wants us to, because He does. It is defective to apply other aspects of Christian ethics if this first one is left out, for without it the others do not even begin. You are a child of God. Act like it. Even if the heavenly hosts are watching, march in the throne room with the bold access God gave you and find help in your time of need!

The second ought.  This second precept is to continue on the same path of faith in God without getting discouraged. To paraphrase: Jack, “Ok God, I have been using my direct access to you, by you Son. Now, what is the second most important thing I should do?” God, “repeat number one. Do not deviate from it.” .

As an example, consider Joshua after Moses died. Moses is dead. Moses is gone; however, God is still here, and His Word is still here. Thus, Joshua was not given a new book of Exodus and a new revised book Numbers; rather, because God’s revelation is truth. It is an intellectual public system. Joshua was commanded to follow the same Word—not truing to the left or right. Any pathway other than this one would be an intellectual inferior and morally defective path. Vincent has taught well on this topic,

We are stuck on wisdom and truth, and held captive by reason. Unlike the non-Christians, we begin with knowledge, and what we believe will not be revised again and again, even to its opposite, then to something else entirely new, and then to its opposite again.

Therefore, progress means something very different to us. We are not searching for the truth, and we are not constantly revising our theories. We are already set on the path of absolute and undeniable truth. Thus to make progress is to continue further down this same path in knowledge and obedience. We must not turn to the left or to the right, because we are already on the perfect path, so that to turn anywhere is to turn to falsehood. We look straight ahead, because to look anywhere else is to behold something foolish and inferior. Through Jesus Christ, we move from faith to faith, and from glory to glory.

How do we make progress in God and in the knowledge of the truth? How do we improve as individuals and as a community? There is a concrete prescription. Moses is dead, and instead of telling him to innovate, God commands Joshua to continue on the same path that has been established. Therefore, we take what God has revealed and we study it, think about it, live with it, and achieve with it. Move forward with the dogma of Jesus Christ “that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3) – it is perfect and complete. “For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8, ESV).[2]

However, for the unbeliever who does not have the truth to begin with, they must disguise that their view of the world is false, by constantly reinventing themselves and progressing—which is simply a game of childish pretending.

Without the right starting place (i.e. epistemology) then they cannot know how off the mark they are, for such requires the truth to begin with. Modern man naïvely tries to solve this by calling his philosophy progressivism: they will keep progressing until they get to the better future they desire. However, if one must keep changing, then it is an admittance that one is wrong to begin with. If one is right from the start, then why change? If 2 + 2 = 4 is correct from the start, then it does not need to progress to 2 + 2 = 6 in the future. If one is wrong from the foundation of their worldview thinking, then how do they know if they are truly progressing? To know such again requires the truth, which they do not have. How can one approximate to a point, without knowing where that point is? Also, if progress is the standard, then even progress itself must progress, so that progress as the standard no longer means to progress. That is, if it is true, then it is also false. Without knowing truth to begin with then such concepts as “approximations,” and “probable,” are unintelligible.

The conclusion for having face to face access to the Creator of the universe by faith, is to keep this faith and not waver in it.

Also, this second syllogism (v.23) has another potential argument with two different middle terms, as if to drive the point home of the importance of keeping an unwavering faith considering Jesus’ salvation. This second middle term is “those whom Jesus has made steadfast promises too.” One could make a separate argument with this; however, this term is more properly seen as supporting the original middle term. That is, our “bold access to God” is given to us by “the steadfast promises of Jesus.”

The third ought. This ought, deals with the Second greatest commandment; love your neighbor as oneself. In context of our bold access to God’s inner throne we are commended to help others to faithfully follow God. That is, we firstly fulfill the second greatest command by helping others fulfill the first and greatest commandment. When we find discouragement and unbelief and lack of good-works, then we are to rebuke it and then to correct and improve it with a constant faith towards God, whom we have bold access with.

This last ought is predicated/defined with the context of the sermon.  In chapter 6 we are told the good works of faithful believers is not forgotten by God; they will be rewarded.  Chapter 4 tells us those who believe will be rewarded with God’s Rest!  Lastly, we are told in Ch. 11 that those who please God must believe He rewards whose who seek Him. We ought to think about other believes and help them be faithful in believing in God; that is, help them do good works (works done out of faith in God) so that they will have a reward from God that cannot be taken from them. We are not only, to think about our bold access to God and our reward from Him, but are to think about others. We are to seek out ways to help other Christians to store up a reward that God will give them.

The Arguments.

FIRST.  ver.22

(P)If you have been granted bold access to God, (Q) then you ought to draw near to God. [B is C]

(P) You have been granted bold access to God.  [A is B]

(Q) Therefore, you ought to draw near to God. [Thus, A is C]


SECOND. ver.23

(P)If you have been granted bold access to God by His promises, (Q) then you ought to keep an unmovable faith in His promises.  [B is C]

(P) You have been granted bold access to God by His promises.  [A is B]

(Q) Therefore, you ought to keep an unmovable faith in His promises.  [Thus, A is C]


THIRD. ver.24

(P)If you have been granted bold access to God, (Q) then you ought to stir up good works in those who also have been granted bold access to God.  [B is C]

(P) You have been granted bold access to God. [A is B]

(Q) Therefore, you ought to stir up good works in those who also have been granted bold access to God.  [Thus, A is C]



————-End notes————-

[1] The New King James Version. (1982). (Heb 4:14–16). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] Vincent Cheung. Sermonettes Vol. 7 pg. 14-15. Chapter 6, “Progress in Faith.” See also, first 5 chapters about this same general topic. For the apologetic aspect see his book,  Ultimate Questions.