Hebrews 10:34 closes by explaining why believers can endure hardships. The reason you endured past trials he says, was because “…you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” In his commentary on this phrase, Homer Kent argues that the possession you have is “yourselves.” He says, “The reading preferred by most textual experts has ‘yourselves’ as the direct object of the verb ‘have’ (echein heautous). The sense is that by becoming Christians, though they may lose the whole world, they have gained their souls.”[1]  In Luke 9:25 Jesus asks a most profound question. He asks, “What does it profit a person to gain the whole world and yet lose himself?”  In Matthew 8:36-37 he asks a similar question but refers to the “self” as the soul. It says, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?” Hebrews 10:39 supports this idea when it says, “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”

This verse begins with the clear statements that those who trust in Jesus’ full sufficiency are not among those who “shrink back.” Looking back to Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 we’re reminded of the writer’s referring to the Israelites who “shrunk back” at Kadesh Barnea and were not allowed to enter into the promised land, “God’s Rest.” They did not trust God’s promises to give them the land. Instead they looked at themselves, the giants that inhabited the land and compared the two. “We are like grasshoppers to them” they said. Their current circumstances led them to doubt the goodness of God and His promises. Their destiny therefore was to wander in a wasteland till death.  When trials and struggles and hardships come my way, I find myself drifting into the wasteland of doubt also.  I don’t need to be encouraged that I’m big enough to whip the giants in the land or than I’m much bigger than a grasshopper. I need to be reminded that my champion has already defeated my enemies for me. Jesus’ grace has always been sufficient in the past and is sufficient now and will be sufficient in the future. There’s rest!

“Shrinking back” is not in the experience for those who hold to the full sufficiency of Jesus. That’s why the author finishes chapter ten with verse 39 saying, “we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” This last verse of Chapter 10, according to Guzik “…is a confident conclusion. We will be those who endure on and gain the promise of God. We will not draw back into old traditions or into an Old Covenant relationship with God—or any other replacement for Jesus.”[2]

[1] Homer A. Kent Jr., The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary (Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 1983), 211.

[2] David Guzik, Hebrews, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible (Santa Barbara, CA: David Guzik, 2013), Heb 10:35–39.