The subject of the verb αγιάζω in Hebrews 10:29 could be either "the covenant" or "one [...] who has trampled the Son of God underfoot" so:
1. What was sanctified by the blood?
2. Why do most translations choose to go with the latter?

For example would Pascal Denault (contrary to most translations) go with the former and suggests the following translation on page 148 in his book The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology:

How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant, by which it was sanctified, and who has insulted the Spirit of Grace

Also Paul Ellingsworth confirms this on p. 541 in The Epistle to the Hebrews, NIGTC, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1993:

Grammatically, the subject could be the covenant

4 Answers 4


The τῆς διαθήκης can be classified as a descriptive genitive, i.e., according to Mathewson & Emig (2016):

We will consider descriptive genitives to those (N + Ngen) that restrict the head noun as an adjective ("a thing of beauty,", i.e., a beautiful thing) or another noun ("ant farm") might. (p. 12)

Therefore, in the phrase τὸ αἷμα τῆς διαθήκης, διαθήκης restricts the "blood" to the blood associated with the covenant. Now, since διαθήκης is restricting αἷμα, this cannot be the subject of the verb ἡγιάσθη. In fact, both nouns form a nominal phrase. One syntactic representation in a tree could be:

καὶ                     # conjunction
 κοινὸν                 # adjectival phrase 
 ἡγησάμενος             # verbal phrase
 τὸ αἷμα τῆς διαθήκης   # nominal phrase
 ἐν ᾧ                   # prepositional phrase
 ἡγιάσθη                # verbal phrase

On the other hand, the subject of ἡγιάσθη is the participle ὁ καταπατήσας, "the one who has trampled underfoot" (ESV), which functions as subject:

This is the independent use of the adjectival participle (i.e., not related to a noun). It functions in the place of a substantive. As such, it can function in virtually any capacity that a noun can, such as subject, direct object, indirect object, apposition, etc. (Wallace, 1996, p. 619).


  • Mathewson, D. & Emig, E. (2016). Intermediate Greek grammar: syntax for students of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
  • Bamman, D. & Crane, G. (2008). Guidelines for the Syntactic Annotation of the Ancient Greek Dependency Treebank (1.1). Retrieved from http://nlp.perseus.tufts.edu/syntax/treebank/agdt/1.7/docs/guidelines.pdf
  • Wallace, D. B. (1996). Greek grammar beyond the basics: An exegetical syntax of the New Testament.

αγιάζω is in the passive not active voice here (ἡγιάσθη). The literal Greek is:

τὸ αἷμα τῆς διαθήκης ... ἐν ᾧ ἡγιάσθη

  • τὸ αἷμα - the blood

  • τῆς διαθήκης - of the covenant

  • ἐν ᾧ - by which

  • ἡγιάσθη - [he] was sanctified

The second word in ἐν ᾧ is the neuter dative form of the relative singular pronoun ὅς. Given its gender, it has to relate to αἷμα (which is neuter) rather than διαθήκη (which is feminine).


Hebrews 10:28-30

28 ἀθετήσας τις νόμον Μωϋσέως χωρὶς οἰκτιρμῶν ἐπὶ δυσὶν ἢ τρισὶν μάρτυσιν ἀποθνήσκει

29 πόσῳ δοκεῖτε χείρονος ἀξιωθήσεται τιμωρίας τὸν Υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ καταπατήσας καὶ τὸ αἷμα τῆς διαθήκης κοινὸν ἡγησάμενος ἐν ἡγιάσθη καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμα τῆς χάριτος ἐνυβρίσας

30 οἴδαμεν γὰρ τὸν εἰπόντα Ἐμοὶ ἐκδίκησις [...]

28 Anyone who contravened the law of Moses died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

29 How much more severe a punishment do you think he deserves who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and esteemed profane the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and offered insult to the Spirit of grace?

30 For we know He who said, Revenge is Mine [...]

Since in the Greek the "which" (—relative dative neuter singular) can only refer to the last neuter noun, the "blood" (αἷμα), and not the word for covenant, which is feminine (διαθήκη); and "the blood" is the thing doing the sanctifying ("αἷμα...ἐν [ᾧ]"), then:

The "was sanctified" (ἡγιάσθη) refers to the "he...who" ( —masculine) has trampled under foot the Son of God.

  • Perhaps a tangent but "the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified" would only refer to a Jew since the new covenant, like the Sinai covenant was only relevant to the houses of Israel and Judah (Hebrews 8:10).
    – Ruminator
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 23:56
  • Heb 8:10 is certainly not exclusive to Jews, and besides this, not all who are physically of Israel are Israelites, but Gentiles can be also, Rom 11:19, since it isn't genetics or race, but a spiritual descent. Rom 9:6. Just as God explicitly pomised Elijah—who turned out to be one "in the spirit and power of Elijah." Not literally, artificially, Elijah for a second time. Mt 28:26 and the new cov. doesn't only apply to Jews as we see from, among other things, the universal observance of the Eucharist, e.g. St. Paul's reiteration of its institution to the church at Corinth. cf. Gal 3:21-22a. Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 0:10
  • "because nowhere in all of the scriptures, including the non-canonical ones of the time is there an assertion that "God is a Trinity"" ergo the Trinity isn't in Scripture anywhere taught is ridiculous. You realize that, right? Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 0:42
  • Not the place for this debate.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 1:15

No need to move away from the simple context; "he" is sanctified by the blood.

The context of Hebrews 10 will tell you this is true. That section of Hebrews 10 deals with "drawing near" or "drawing back".

Verse 22 says, "let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith..." Verse 23 further encourages us to "hold fast" of our profession of faith without wavering.

Then at the end of the chapter, we are told not to cast away our confidence of faith and "draw back" for God has no pleasure to those who do. The "draw back" is a reference to those people who waver and leave faith and go back to their own works, ie leaving the covenant of grace and going back to the covenant of the law.

So, verses 28-30 are just dealing with someone who does that. The idea here is that if you leave the covering of the blood of Christ (leave the covenant of the promise) then there is nowhere to go for your salvation. Just look at the references to the law in those verses.

Verses 28-30 deal with the idea that if God dealt severely with those who violated the Law of Moses, then how do you think He would feel about those who purposely leave the blood of the new covenant?

The idea of someone leaving grace to "draw back" to the Law is seen in Galatians chapter 4 where Paul deals with people influenced by the Judiazers who wanted to move people back to the law. Paul says why would you want to go back to the weak and beggerly elements (reference to the law) and desire to go back to bondage. This same concept is highlighted in Hebrews chapter 6, verses 4-6. The writer says that if you leave repentance (ie, leaving your self righteous ways of approaching God and turning to His way through faith/grace of Christ) then there remains no more solution for your sin. If you leave Christ you're on your own and by the way you tread on His sacrifice and put Him to open shame.

So, it makes perfect contextual sense that in Hebrews 10:29, the reference to the gift of sanctification would be linked to a person (ie, "he") and not to anything else. Since the immediate context deals with "how much SORER punishment" will God deal out to the person who treated his Son's sacrifice this way. If God dealt severely with someone who despised Moses' law (verse 28) then how do you suppose God will deal with someone who despised the blood of Christ with which "he" was sanctified? Peace, al

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