NOTE: I understand that people have asked about Hebrews 10:26 on this forum. My question is very specific and to my knowledge has not been addressed. Please don't refer me to others who are not asking the same question as me. Thanks!

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left (Hebrews 10:26 NIV)

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:26 NKJV)

A common interpretation of this passage is that this is referring to the sin of apostasy and is addressing Christians who have apostated from the faith.

For if we sin wilfully — If we deliberately, for fear of persecution or from any other motive, renounce the profession of the Gospel and the Author of that Gospel, after having received the knowledge of the truth (Adam Clarke)

My question is how can this text be referring to sin or sinning in general, not committing a particular type of sin like apostasy, since the text does not say "for if we commit the sin of apostasy" or "if we apostatize" but says "if we sin willfully." Thanks!

  • 1
    How could disciples be exhorted by the Lord to pardon one another's 'trespasses' if every single sinful act resulted in unavoidable damnation ? Down-voted -1.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 11, 2022 at 8:57
  • 1
    Related (possible duplicate) : Forgiveness-yes-or-no>
    – Nigel J
    Dec 11, 2022 at 9:05
  • 1
    @bob - please take more care to show kindness and respect in your communication. You actually asked this question on a different SE site and it was migrated here, so it's perfectly valid to re-check whether other Questions already have an answer. Nigel tagged the question so it shows as 'related' on the right hand side, and did not vote to Close your question as a duplicate. Other users are free to critique, upvote and downvote as they find appropriate - it's great when people actually leave feedback to explain why they've done things like that.
    – Steve can help
    Dec 13, 2022 at 9:32
  • As I mentioned, your Question was originally asked on a different stack entirely, so it would be perfectly reasonable to assume that you didn't search through everything here on BH.SE before posting. Next time you could show that diligence by actively linking other questions yourself - you could say "[this linked Question] asks something similar, but doesn't address X", or otherwise explain what you see the difference to be.
    – Steve can help
    Dec 13, 2022 at 21:06
  • @Stevecanhelp The question Nigel linked did NOT address what I asked, neither on the other SE or on here. You continue to criticize me, but not Nigel who falsely accused me of claiming that the Bible teaches that every "every single sinful act resulted in unavoidable damnation" and then hastily downvoted my post for something I never claimed!
    – Bob
    Dec 14, 2022 at 5:29

10 Answers 10


It would appear that it is not referring to full unbelief in the initial stage of sinning.

This seems to be a continuous action of sin, as though there is no consequence for it.

go on sinning ἁμαρτανόντων (hamartanontōn) Verb - Present Participle Active - Genitive Masculine Plural Strong's 264: Perhaps from a and the base of meros; properly, to miss the mark, i.e. to err, especially to sin.

Notice in Greek its present participle active, examples: “walking, fighting, eating”.

Hebrews 10:26 is about setting one’s heart and mind on sinning without restrain. Think of it like a riot of sinning, only no building need to be caught in an act of arson here.

A sin here or there, or a season of sin by which a Christian struggles with sin is not in view in Hebrews 10:26.

It would appear the author makes it clear that the person doesn’t care about trampling underfoot the “Son of God” or doing despite the “the spirit of Grace”.

For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10‬:‭26‬-‭31‬ ‭

We know that the “initial stage” is not one of unbelief in terms of apostasy in Hebrews 10:26-31 because of what the author of Hebrews says elsewhere about faith, and what happens to those who draw back to perdition:

But My righteous one shall live by faith; And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10‬:‭38‬ ‭

Wether or not this happens is hotly disputed in Christian circles.

The next verse should give us pause before assuming that this happens at all:

“But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10‬:‭39

‬Any Christian who is worried about committing this particular sin should be aware that those who are born again don’t practice sin:

No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭3‬:‭9‬

Hebrews 10:26 would imply an apostasy of sinning first and foremost.

  • But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10‬:‭39 is obviously not a Fact but a speech in hope. Dec 13, 2022 at 7:43
  • @FaithMendel Sounds like an “argument from silence” on your part.
    – Cork88
    Dec 13, 2022 at 16:42

We need also to pay attention to the opening word, "For".

"For" means that this statement is explaining the previous statement.

The previous statement begins with an injunction to to "hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering" (Hebrews ch10 v23, RSV), with the immediate explanation "for he who promised is faithful". The second part of the sentence gives examples of "holding fast"; stirring up one another to love, encouraging one another, not neglecting to meet together. This injunction is addressed to multiple people, requiring group activity.

The word "For" at the beginning of v26 indicates that v26 is giving the reason for the necessity of vv23-25. In other words, the context of v26 is a concern about the possibility of apostacy, making "apostacy" the most likely focus of the verse. On that assumption, "If we sin" would refer to the danger that they might abandon Christ and return to the "state of sin" which preceded conversion.


In this passage, Hebrews is not speaking of a particular sin such as apostasy, although much of the letter/sermon is indeed concerned with that topic. Moreover, even if it were speaking of apostasy only, the problem is not resolved, unless were are to believe that fallen-away Christians cannot return to grace. This view was rejected as heretical in the Novatianist controversy.

The issue of post-baptismal sins was important in the early church. The teaching found in Hebrews is one of the reasons, but so are Jesus' own admonitions such as "if you right hand offends you, cut it off" (Matthew 5:30) "be thou perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect," (Matthew 5:48) or "if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:15). For most Christians today the issue is clear: Jesus' sacrifice covers both pre-baptismal sins and post-baptismal sins. But in the early church this issue was not nearly so clear.

A good example of early Christian concern with post-baptismal sin is the teaching of Hermas in his famous work, The Shepherd, which is today included among the Apostolic Fathers. A leader in the late-first century Roman church, Hermas reported a vision in which Christ appeared to him as a shepherd. In this vision Christ warned that serious post-baptismal sins may be forgiven once, but not not more than once:

And therefore I say to you if anyone, after that great and holy calling, will be tempted by the devil and sin, he has one repentance. But if he will often sin and repent, it will not profit him, for he will hardly ever live to God. (Command 4)

Ultimately, the Church determined that such a teaching was unacceptable, because Christians, like all humans, continue to sin; and a single chance at repentance after baptism is insufficient. However the idea keeps cropping up in church history, from the Montanists in the the second century to the Novatianists in the third century, the Donatists of Augustine's time, the Cathars of the middle ages and Christian perfectionists of more modern times.

Rather than attempting to interpret Hebrews as saying something other than the plain sense of the text suggests, we may consider that it represents a perfectionist strain that appears in several other New Testament passages and continues to find a home in the hearts of some believers. Most of us, however, will recognize that "all men sin and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) applies as much to Christians as to non-believers.


Let us ask a question: can a Christian commit a sin willfully? Yes, of course. I am a Christian myself and I daily commit sins, willfully or not willfully: recently my tennis partner’s ball hit my line, but I wanted so much that point, that I shouted “out”, - it was a willful sin, and does the Hebrews’ passage mean that I will go to hell for it is already impossible, even if I repent, for me to be saved, for I have sinned as a Christian and this willfully. This is a plain stupidity, of course. Then what does it mean?

This must be the answer: if I, being a Christian, do not fight my sinfulness, thinking that something more will be given from God than what already has been given, then this thought will make me totally incorrigible, for nothing greater can come to humans after the Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Word of God. This is enough for salvation, and if I return to my old ways after this salvific gift of God is available, then nothing can help me any more.

Like, to give an analogy, if I have an infection and only an antibiotic can save me from it, but I do not use it, then I willfully deprive myself of cure for the antibiotic has no alternative.

Thus the passage is not about apostasy at all (for any apostate the gravest among them, can repent and God’s very profession is to forgive a sincere repenter, as Heinrich Heine said), but about any sinner who thinks that salvation is possible by some automatically working grace that does not require his willful collaboration. Such guys are indeed incorrigible even for God, unless they repent, of course.


thanks for raising this important question. It's a critical one to study and I pray that we take an hour or two to clear the potential confusion.

First of all let me put your question on the top of this thread:

My question is how can this text be referring to sin or sinning in general, not committing a particular type of sin like apostasy, since the text does not say "for if we commit the sin of apostasy" or "if we apostatize" but says "if we sin willfully." Thanks!


  • You are right on the FACT that apostasy is not mentioned explicitly here.
  • You are not necessarily right on the CONCLUSION that this is about all sins.

Let's read further.

Before we go through the scripture to seek for an answer, let's take a minute or two to pray for understanding and prepare ourselves with those context:

  • The Book of Hebrews are for Jewish audiences
  • The readers of Hebrews are accustomed to the Law of Moses and the Sacrificial System
  • Close your eyes, imagine for a minute, that we are the first century Jewish people, our parents and ancestors, even ourselves, are familiar with the 613 laws, travel to Jerusalem few times a year and make animal sacrifices throughout our lives, those are a part of our life and are shaping our Jewish identity.
  • We have a strong community watching and encouraging each other to abide to the Law of Moses.
  • We're in first century. Hebrews is written on a scroll. There's no chapter and verse for The scroll of Hebrews, it's meant to be read from the beginning to the end.
  • Now once we're in their shoes let's start reading the Hebrews.

chapter content
  • The Son is superior to angles.
  • How shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.
  • For surely it is not angels He (Jesus) helps, but Abraham’s descendants (Jewish people, the readers).
03 (read the chapter)
  • Jesus is superior to Moses.
  • See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. (Sin of apostasy)
  • But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (Communion together, help each other)
  • We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. (Keep ourselves in faith)
  • Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.
  • So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. (Sin of apostasy)
  • For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.(Sin of apostasy). Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”
  • Explaining the salvation from Jesus
  • Milk / Solid food
  • Certainty of God's promise
  • Priesthood of Jesus
  • New covenant
  • Tabernacle
  • Blood of Jesus

Now, we know that the target audience of Hebrews wouldn't have the text split into chapters and verses. After reading all the text before v10:26, we can conclude the following:

  1. The letter up until this point is not mainly about the consequence of behavioural sins, not even close.
  2. The focus is NOT on the Jewish readers, the focus is undoubtedly on Jesus and His atoning sacrifice.
  3. Now the knowledge of the truth (Jesus) is revealed, Jewish people need to believe in the salvation from Jesus, there's no excuse.
  4. The only sin mentioned prior to 10:26 was the sin of apostasy.
  5. The Sacrifice System (that we've been relying on since Leviticus) is a foreshadowing system that points to Jesus, the true salvation.

Now let's look at Chapter 10:

23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. 26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 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 that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

Then try read Chapter 3, compare those 2 Chapters.

Please remember, the Book of Hebrews were originally intended to be read together, without chapters and verses.

Lastly, let's look at the Lord's prayer:

  • Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
    • Is it God's will to eternally condemn all wilful sinners?
  • Forgive our debts
    • But only for accidental sins?
  • Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from the evil one
    • Don't be deceived by lies that the sacrifice of Jesus is not enough for wilful sins

Jesus is our Lord and Saviour, His perfect sacrifice is enough and abundant for all our sins (mostly wilful if we are honest to ourselves and to God), purification is a lifelong process, but justification is achieved by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. We are declared righteous because Jesus is righteous, not because we did not wilfully sin.

Hope that provides some food for thoughts.

God bless you!

From a brother in Christ


Apostasy is not a special sin

It is very easy. Nothing suggests from the context that a particular special sin is implicit in the verse. The context clearly states that the general sinning is the topic. The reference to the sacrificial system makes it even more certain that the sin is general sinning, and not some special sin, let alone apostasy.

[Heb 10:26-29 NHEB21] For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who disregards the Law of Moses dies without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will he be judged worthy of, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?

The passage says: if you continue to sin after receiving forgiveness, we are forfeiting the sacrifices, but a punishment of judgment awaits. We know that judgment or wrath is not given for one or two special sins alone, but for any sin. Every man will be judged according to his works (not by faith alone), for we shall reap what we sow. See Matt 5:20 Matt 5:46-48 Matt 6:33 Matt 7:21 Matt 16:27 Matt 18:3 Acts 10:34-36 Rom 2:6-16 Rom 6:16 1Cor 7:19 2Cor 5:10 1Pet 1:15-17 Rev 20:12 Rev 22:11-12 Gen 4:7


This passage (Hebrews 10:26) appears to be directed towards the sin of unbelief, not apostasy.

26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:26-29)

All Christians while still in their flesh; that flesh will commit sins. Our Brother Paul tells us this in Romans:

22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:22-25)

Considering our fleshly sins have been propitiated fully by Christ (the knowledge of the truth), there is no more sacrifice for sins. Therefore fleshly sins are not in view in this Hebrews passage.

The writer goes on to contrast the covenants of Law and Grace, which is key.

We receive salvation upon belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Our fleshly sins are now buried; as is our fleshly body considered to be 'dead'. No works of righteousness are required for salvation.

The Law required continual sacrifice; Christ sacrificed once for all.

For the believer as well as the unbeliever, 'there remains no more sacrifice for sins.'

For the unbeliever, only fearfulness of judgment and fiery indignation await, as they are called 'adversaries.'

Since all sin stems from unbelief, simply apply the sin of unbelief to this passage.

For example, let's say it is 50 A.D. and I meet you heading somewhere with your sheep in tow:

I ask you, "Where you going?"
You say, "To the Temple."
I ask, "What for?"
You say, "To get my sins forgiven."
I say, "But just last week you said that you believed Jesus took away all your sins."
You say, "Yes, I believe Jesus took away all my sins."
I say, "So why the sheep?"
You say, "To the Temple to get my sins forgiven."

Do you see the problem here? It is an issue of unbelief. Belief should change you and what you do.

Since there is no more sacrifice for sins, we can conclude that Christ took them all.

God has promised to forgive our sins and remember them no more before us. However, the sin of unbelief is the only sin attributable to man. Therefore unbelief is the sin referenced in these passages.

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    – Community Bot
    Dec 27, 2022 at 19:17

"For we -- willfully sinning after the receiving the full knowledge of the truth -- no more for sins doth there remain a sacrifice," (YLT)

It does not concern only the sin of apostasy, or rejection of Christ's sacrifice. Both of those may be forgiven if repented of and returning to Christ. The construction of the sentence is a little awkward in the English translations. Try thinking of it as no other sacrifice remains.

The subject of Heb. chap. 10 is of the ONE sacrifice Christ made for all time, and that He took the place of the many animal sacrifices required by the law. Under the law they had to always offer many sacrifices every time they committed a sin, and those sins were willfully done, just as ours are today when we give into temptations.

But, under the gospel of Christ, under the new covenant, Christ does not have to continually be crucified for our our sins. The one time is sufficient for all times. Meyer's commentary is clearer.

"there remains in relation to sins, i.e. for the expiation thereof, no more sacrifice; inasmuch, namely, as the sin-cancelling sacrifice of Christ, the communion of which we then renounce, is a sacrifice which takes place only once, is not further repeated, while at the same time the Levitical sacrifices are unable to effect the cancelling of sins." Source: Biblehub

So, it does not mean that you cannot repent and ask for forgiveness even if you have for a period of time turned away from God. It means that the ONLY sacrifice that will work now is Christ's sacrifice.


It's important to see that this letter to the Hebrews is written to a nation, a people, a race who had a history all the way back to Abraham.

There were many promises to them to be a nation, to be a light to the Gentiles, be kings and priests - and many more promises that were given to this nation.

They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. (Romans 9:4)

This letter is not for believers today under the gospel of grace as the Apostle Paul teaches. The sonship and the glory are ours only in spirit, not in the flesh.

Even Hebrews 6:4 talks about those who were once enlightened and they tasted the heavenly gift.

For it is impossible for those once having been enlightened, and having tasted of the heavenly gift, and having become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and having tasted the goodness of God’s word and the power of the coming age— and then having fallen away—to restore them again to repentance, crucifying in themselves the Son of God and subjecting Him to open shame.

This description applies only to those who participated in the Pentecostal blessings. They were enlightened, they tasted the celestial gratuity, they became partakers of Holy Spirit, and God's declaration, and they only experience the powers of the kingdom eon, and many of them fell aside. These blessings were based on their repentance, or change of mind, which was induced largely by the miracles which they saw. When the kingdom failed to appear, and its powers vanished, their repentance went also. Hence the impossibility of renewing it, for the means which produced it were no longer in evidence. Such a course is not possible in a day of grace, such as we live in. In place of repentance and pardon we have faith and justification, which know no falling away, being entirely of grace from first to last.-- Concord commentary

It's very important to see who this verse is referring to.

The book of Hebrews was addressed to the Israelites, "whose are the fathers" Ro. 9:5

The Son is the speaker to whom the Hebrews are directed.

1 in many parts, and many ways, God of old having spoken to the fathers in the prophets, 2 in these last days did speak to us in a Son, (Hebrews 1:1-2)

The voluntary sin here referred to is doubtless the repudiation of the truth and apostasy from the faith. The faith of the Hebrews, having been founded on the powers and signs which were given as a token of the near approach of the Kingdom, was sorely tried when the signs ceased and the kingdom did not come. But those who drew back could not do so without reproaching God and trampling on the Son of God and inviting the fiery jealousy of Jehovah. For such there is no sin offering, since they refuse the only Sacrifice that is of any avail. They are calling down the vengeance of God. – Commentary commentary

OP's question,

My question is how can this text be referring to sin or sinning in general, not committing a particular type of sin like apostasy, since the text does not say "for if we commit the sin of apostasy" or "if we apostatize" but says "if we sin willfully."

The letter to the Hebrews is all about what Jesus has done for His people. If they refuse His sacrifice on their behalf then there is no further sacrifice provided to take away their sin.

Just look back at what happened to the people under Moses's law who sinned. Now they have Christ taking away their sin and if they refuse His sacrifice, trample on the Son of God.

If we deliberately go on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no further sacrifice for sins remains, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume all adversaries. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think one deserves to be punished who has trampled on the Son of God, profaned the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, ”and again, “The Lord will judge His people.” (Hebrews 10:26-31)

So it is once again important to distinguish that this letter is written for the Israelites and if they refuse to recognize the truth, especially after seeing all the signs and wonders, then nothing remains to take away their sin.

  • Sherrie - the book of Hebrews is written to those who have "crossed over" - all who are in Christ have crossed over. The original use of the word Hebrew was a nickname or epithet of Abraham who was a foreigner in the land having crossed over the river Phrat long before there ever was a nation of Israel. See my post "Crossing Over" here: shreddingtheveil.org/2019/05/25/crossing-over
    – Gina
    Dec 13, 2022 at 13:35
  • @Gina, thanks for your comments. It made me wonder why the letter was addressed to Hebrews instead of Israelites. You inspired me to discover that the word Hebrew means one who crosses or passes over something. Often there is suffering leaving things , others behind and going somewhere else. Those who had believed God's word, believed that Jesus was his Son, had seen and experienced signs and wonders and were filled with great joy. To continue this as a whole the nation of Israel was to repent and believe as well.
    – Sherrie
    Dec 14, 2022 at 15:01
  • The nation of Israel rejected their savior, and the kingdom that had been offered to them. The powers ceased as the kingdom is now being put on hold. Discouraged Israelites must remember they are now like Abraham, their father the Hebrew. Jesus had fulfilled the law and everything that went with it. But now they too would have to suffer and wait with others. They too now had to walk by faith in the promises of God like their father Abraham the Hebrew did.
    – Sherrie
    Dec 14, 2022 at 15:02
  • Being as a Hebrew meant they also endured suffering as they waited in hope, faith and endurance perhaps remembering Abraham who looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. This would be God's dwelling place on Earth.
    – Sherrie
    Dec 14, 2022 at 15:02
  • Abraham being a Hebrew, one who crossed over is an example of one who had faith in God along with all the suffering he endured, he still believed God's word.
    – Sherrie
    Dec 14, 2022 at 15:15

You are correct that this does not refer only to the sin of apostasy. People may insert their own idea of what it means because they are hard-pressed to explain it.

The truth is, the sacrificial system never provided for any other than for a sin of ignorance. There was never a sacrifice for a willful sin.

Sins of Ignorance

Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and shall do against any of them: . . . (Leviticus 4:2, KJV)

And if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which should not be done, and are guilty; . . . (Leviticus 4:13, KJV)

When a ruler hath sinned, and done somewhat through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD his God concerning things which should not be done, and is guilty; . . . (Leviticus 4:22, KJV)

And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty; . . . (Leviticus 4:27, KJV)

. . . And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of the peace offerings; and the priest shall burn them upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the LORD: and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him. (Leviticus 4:35, KJV)

The "sin through ignorance" is repeated again and again. God was making a clear statement that the sacrifices were only for sins of ignorance. There was never established any ritual, any ceremony, any fine or penance, nor any sacrifice or offering for a willful sin. Only sins of ignorance were included in the sacrificial type.

Jesus' Sacrifice

Jesus, the ultimate Sacrifice for our sins, reinforced the fact that he was dying for sins of ignorance.

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. . . . (Luke 23:34, KJV)

Many see this as asking for forgiveness for the soldiers who were driving the nails. But this applied to every one of us.

Does this mean my sins will not be forgiven which I have sinned knowing that it was a sin?

This is the crucial question. How does God regard our sins which we have knowingly committed?

Even when we think we know that what we are doing is wrong, we are still quite ignorant. If we truly understood how much our sin would hurt God; how much it would injure our friends, family, and others; and how much it would hurt ourselves--we would not choose to do it.

The point at which we decide, however, to no longer listen to God's voice calling us to repentance, is the point where we are deliberately choosing our own wrong course. There is no forgiveness now, in part because none is asked. But furthermore, one of the most important lessons of this verse is that sins which are not forsaken will not be forgiven. When we know that something is a sin, yet we continue to commit that sin, it will eventually separate us from God.

Consider the Greek

For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, (Hebrews 10:26, KJV)

The word "sin" in the Greek (ἁμαρτανόντων/hamartanontōn) is a verb in the "present participle active" voice. This indicates that it is addressing an ongoing sin, not merely a one-time sin. The translators likely did not wish to add a word to the English translation that was not in the Greek, so they avoided inserting something like "continue to" before "sin." They could have said, perhaps, "are sinning," but that is not idiomatic in English--a bit like saying "I am having a master's degree" or "I am knowing about this." Some verbs in English seldom get used in the present participle form. But in Greek, this verb "sin" addressing a continuing action.


The text does not specify a particular category of sin, and may be seen to apply to any category of sin. However, it does imply an ongoing sin--continuing to sin after one has learned that it is a sin.

One sin, persistently cherished, will eventually neutralize all the power of the Gospel.

It is a fearful thing to knowingly and deliberately continue in a wrong course.

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    If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie unto his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or hath deceived his neighbour . . . . . there is a sacrifice provided. Leviticus 6:1-7. You are not correct in saying the only sacrifices were for 'ignorance'. I have heard this said a number of times and it is not true.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 11, 2022 at 9:02
  • @NigelJ In that example, one might wish to note two points: 1) No mention is made of the sin having been willful (leaving this ambiguous); and 2) before sacrifice is permitted to atone for this sin, restitution must first be made--and then some. Perhaps it is a separate category of sin when it can be corrected in measure. Making restitution would certainly be an act of repentance, and repentance itself implies that one has reached a point of knowledge as to the sinfulness of something done in the past which, evidently at that time, one did not perceive as so sinful.
    – Biblasia
    Dec 11, 2022 at 9:10
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    'Taking away by violence' or 'deceiving his neighbour' is certainly wilful (not 'ambiguous') and restitution is not an act of 'repentance' if it is legislated for by authority and not a spontaneous act. I disagree profoundly.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 11, 2022 at 9:15
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    But then Esau commited a 'one time' sin for a bowl of soup and 'found no place of repentance' so that is not the criterion. It is an intellectual rejection of the gospel that is the 'wilful sin' in this passage.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 11, 2022 at 9:46
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    Scripture says 'he found no place of repentance'. I do not understand your objections. Let's comment no further, we are back to where we started.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 11, 2022 at 10:15

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