As a faithful pastor should, the author of Hebrews balances words of admonition with words of comfort. It is evident from his letter that he has concerns that at least some in his audience might fall away, so he offers many exhortations to hold on to Christ (e.g., 3:7–4:13; 10:23). Yet, he does not want his readers to despair, thinking that they are far off from faith. When he sees evidence that they have believed and just need to continue in that faith, he is not afraid to point that out either. In fact, that approach of comfort is evident in today’s passage.
Hebrews 10:32–34 calls the original audience of this epistle to think back on their immediate postconversion experience. The author notes that the readers did not fear the reproach and suffering brought on by the name of Christ, but they willingly embraced it, sometimes suffering loss themselves and sometimes standing in solidarity with others who had suffered loss. This, the author tells us, proves that they understood their being united to Christ by faith was far better than any earthly possession. All of this, of course, was outward evidence that they were inwardly persuaded of the truth of Christ. When this audience first read this letter, they were entertaining thoughts of falling away because they dreaded the reproach that the world offers for following Jesus. The author wanted them to change that course of thinking, inspiring them to do so by having them reflect on how they were once unafraid of bearing the shame that the world associates with the cross of Christ.
The original audience was acting in a way not uncommon to those who profess the name of Jesus. Many people experience an initial period of great zeal after their conversion to Christ. In the early days of obeying the Lord, we can find it easy to tell everyone we meet about Him and to not be ashamed of being a Christian. Over time, however, that zeal can fade. We can find ourselves tempted to be silent when we should speak about Jesus, to be less willing to bear the reproach of Christ. At such times, remembering our initial fervor can help us stand strong for Jesus. It can assist us in living for Jesus openly in the way that we know we should.
Pursuing a zealous, well-informed trust in Jesus is one of the secrets to finding endurance. The Holy Spirit can work through this pursuit to renew our confidence, leading to our endurance and our persevering into glory (vv. 35–36).