What does, “through the veil, that is to say His flesh” in Hebrews 10:20 mean? In what sense was Christ a veil that was rent?
Several things must be borne in mind when approaching this Scripture. We have heard men speak reverently about the Lord’s body being rent on the cross and an entrance into the Holiest being secured for us. Many expositional works on Hebrews would concur with this view. While the sentiment may be sincere, and all must agree that His work on the cross was necessary for us to enter into God’s presence at any time, that is not the meaning of this verse.
The Lord’s flesh was never a “veil” hiding anything. He came to reveal, not hide. We never read elsewhere of His body being rent. Also, the expression, “that is to say” always refers back to the main subject of the sentence wherever it occurs in the epistle (see 2:14; 7:6; 9:11; 11:16; 13:15) – the “new and living way” in this verse.
Hebrews 10:20 is the climax of the epistle. The Spirit of God has been showing them that the service, sacrifices, and sanctuary could never bring to “perfection” the Israelite of old. What Christ accomplished by His once-for-all sacrifice has “perfected forever them that are sanctified.”
Verse 20 is telling us that we can have total confidence in drawing near to God. That confidence is based on two things: His blood and His flesh. This is one of the three mentions of His “flesh” in the epistle; all are worthy of note and comparison. His blood was shed on earth. Our “boldness” for this entrance into the sanctuary above is based on His blood which was shed for us. In His ascension, He has inaugurated a new and living way through the veil. He has consecrated or inaugurated this way by taking a body of flesh into heaven, there to appear as our High Priest (Heb 9:24). As a result of His flesh taken into the sanctuary, we can have “full assurance of faith.” His blood removed the barrier of sin; His flesh gives us confidence for admission.
A real man represents us in heaven. He has led the way, and now we are to have total confidence that as we come, we are at home in the sanctuary of God with nothing to hinder. Our consciences have been purged (what the OT sacrifices could never do) and our bodies washed.
While perhaps no epistle in our NT so emphasizes the value of our Lord’s sufferings and death as does Hebrews, there is no epistle which so declares the value of His intercession at God’s right hand. A living Man there is our Surety (7:22), our Succorer, Sympathizer, and Savior in trial (ch 2, 4, 7), our Supreme example in the race (ch 12:1, 2), our Shepherd (13:20), and our Secured Entrance into the sanctuary (10:19).