The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Hebrews 9

Heb 9:1

Vv 1-10: Examples from the tabernacle. Starting in this section the author draws out parallels and contrasts between the old Levitical ritual and the priestly work of Christ in considerable detail.

Vv 1-5: The physical setting of the tabernacle.

Why the tabernacle and not the temple? Prob because it had precedence.

NOW THE FIRST COVENANT HAD REGULATIONS FOR WORSHIP AND ALSO AN EARTHLY SANCTUARY: In order to comprehend the significance of the work of Christ, it is essential to understand that which pointed to him. "Earthly" is in contrast to "heavenly" (Heb 8:5; cp Heb 9:11,24).

Heb 9:2

V 2: The author's "guided tour" begins with the Holy Place, where the menorah. the table, and "the bread of the Presence" were located. Directions for the construction of the tabernacle are given in Exo 26. For the table and the lampstand, see Exo 25:23-40.

Heb 9:3

BEHIND THE SECOND CURTAIN WAS A ROOM CALLED THE MOST HOLY PLACE: More space is given by our author to describing the "Holy of Holies" (translated the "Most Holy Place" by NIV) because of its importance as the place of atonement. It lay behind the second curtain (Exo 26:33), a curtain meant to restrict access to the innermost chamber that could be entered only once a year (see v 7).

Heb 9:4

WHICH HAD THE GOLDEN ALTAR OF INCENSE: But according to the account in Exo 30:1-6 (cp Exo 40:26,27) this altar was placed "before" or "in front of" (so NIV) the curtain, and thus it was located in the Holy Place, not the Most Holy Place. Yet so vital was the burning of incense on the Day of Atonement (vv 6-10; cp "so that he will not die," Lev 16:13; cp Num 16:40) that the author automatically associates the altar of incense with the Holy of Holies.

Furthermore, both the altar and the ark were sprinkled with the blood on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:14-16). Note the same connection with the temple (1Ki 6:22 RV) (BS 13:49).

THE GOLD–COVERED ARK OF THE COVENANT: See Exo 25:10-16,21. In this container were three special objects that recalled the experience of Israel at Sinai in the wilderness -- which are listed...


AARON'S STAFF THAT HAD BUDDED: See Num 17:8-10. The budding staff demonstrated the sole legitimacy of Aaron and the tribe of Levi in priestly service at the altar (cp Num 18:7). But that uniqueness has now been displaced -- indeed, canceled -- by the high priest of the order of Melchizedek.


Heb 9:5

ABOVE THE ARK WERE THE CHERUBIM OF THE GLORY, OVERSHADOWING THE ATONEMENT COVER: The Glory almost certainly refers to the "shekinah" (ie, "dwelling") glory that hovered over the ark of the covenant (cp Lev 16:2; Exo 40:34-38) symbolizing the presence of God (Exo 25:18-22). Although of course we cannot know what these cherubim looked like, it is well to speak of winged "beings" or "creatures" so as not to exclude the possibility of a human likeness, as ascribed to the cherubim in the rabbinic tradition, for example.

OVERSHADOWING THE ATONEMENT COVER: See Exo 25:18-20. This is NIV's appropriate translation of a single technical term
("hilasterion") indicating the lid of the ark (as it does regularly in the LXX). This cover to the ark was the place where the high priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrificed bull and then of the goat on the Day of Atonement (see Lev 16:14-17). In this way the word came to signify the taking away of sin (ie, "to cover," or "to wipe away") and hence came to be translated "mercy seat" (Exo 26:34, RSV). In Rom 3:25, the only other occurrence of this noun in the NT, Jesus is described as an "expiation" (RSV) or "propitiation" (KJV, NASB) for our sins, or as NIV puts it, "a sacrifice of atonement."

BUT WE CANNOT DISCUSS THESE THINGS IN DETAIL NOW: "These things" refer to all the furniture in the tabernacle. There is simply not enough time to speak of the symbolism in detail; other matters are of greater importance.

Heb 9:6

Vv 6-10: The sacrificial ritual of the tabernacle.

WHEN EVERYTHING HAD BEEN ARRANGED LIKE THIS: That is, it is in that setting that the priests do their work.

THE PRIESTS ENTERED REGULARLY INTO THE OUTER ROOM TO CARRY ON THEIR MINISTRY: The daily duties of ordinary priests are first in view. They "enter" (present tenses are consistently used in these verses) regularly into the "first tent" (but NEVER into the "second tent" -- the Most Holy Place) in order to accomplish their priestly duties (see Num 18:2-6). These involved the burning of incense, morning and evening; the maintenance of the lamps of the menorah; and the removal of the old and placement of the new loaves upon the table every Sabbath.

Heb 9:7

BUT ONLY THE HIGH PRIEST ENTERED THE INNER ROOM, AND THAT ONLY ONCE A YEAR: The contrasting clause contains three major points of difference: (1) only the high priest can perform the vital work of atonement; (2) he does so by entering the inner room (lit, "the second tent"), and (3) he does so only once a year, on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:2-15; Exo 30:10).

AND NEVER WITHOUT BLOOD, WHICH HE OFFERED FOR HIMSELF: The high priest offered for his own sins (cp Heb 5:3; 7:27).

Of course, there is both a contrast, and a comparison, here -- between the ordinary Levitical high priests and the Lord Jesus Christ: (a) contrast, in that Jesus never committed sins to be offered for, but (b) comparison, in that his sacrifice was, in some measure, because of his own sinful nature.

This is the first of many references to the blood of sacrifices in this and the remaining chapters of the book. The sanctity of life, and hence of blood, together with the necessity of sacrifice, indicates the costliness of atonement (cp Heb 9:22; Lev 17:11). The mention of blood in the context of offering for atonement always presupposes the death of the sacrificial victim. The central importance of the blood of Christ first comes into view in vv 12,14 below (although it is implied in Heb 2:9,14,17).

AND FOR THE SINS THE PEOPLE HAD COMMITTED IN IGNORANCE: He offered as well for the sins of those people whom he represented. The technical phrase "sins of ignorance" alludes to the fact that only unintentional sinning could be atoned for (see Lev 4:1,13,22,27; 5:15,17-19), not that done presumptuously, or "with a high hand" (see Num 15:30; Deu 17:12).

Heb 9:8

THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS SHOWING BY THIS THAT THE WAY INTO THE MOST HOLY PLACE HAD NOT YET BEEN DISCLOSED AS LONG AS THE FIRST TABERNACLE WAS STILL STANDING: That is, the situation under the old covenant, with its elaborate protection of the Holy of Holies, is admittedly one that excludes the people of God from his presence, and hence the fulfillment of God's promises remains to be experienced. The continued existence, therefore, of the first tabernacle, which together with the curtain before the Holy of Holies barred the way to the very presence of God, showed the futility of the old covenant and at the same time pointed inescapably to the future -- when the way into the presence of God might be opened up (see Heb 10:19,20; cp Mat 27:51).

Heb 9:9

THIS IS AN ILLUSTRATION FOR THE PRESENT TIME: "Illustration" = "parabole" -- a parable. By this the author means, as he will begin to show, beginning in v 11, that the significance of Christ's work, as now known and proclaimed, is that the way has been made clear for us to draw near to God (cp Heb 10:19–22). Just as light is shed upon the work of Christ by its anticipation in the old covenant, so a knowledge of the fulfillment brought by Christ illuminates the significance of the tabernacle and the Levitical sacrifices. By its very nature the old covenant points to what can now be seen to be its fulfillment. According to the old situation, the "regulations for worship" (mentioned in Heb 9:1) required various sacrificial offerings that were by their nature unable to bring the worshiper to the intended goal of full salvation.

THE GIFTS AND SACRIFICES BEING OFFERED WERE NOT ABLE TO CLEAR THE CONSCIENCE OF THE WORSHIPER: That is, they were unable to bring the true, inner person to the intended goal of full salvation. The nagging, unconvinced conscience of the worshiper in this circumstance is evidence of this failure of the old system (ct Acts 24:16).


Heb 9:10

THEY ARE ONLY A MATTER OF FOOD AND DRINK AND VARIOUS CEREMONIAL WASHINGS -- EXTERNAL REGULATIONS APPLYING UNTIL THE TIME OF THE NEW ORDER: And this "new order" already exists: the time of fulfillment has already come in and through the work of Christ (Heb 1:2). If this is true, then the whole Levitical system and the Mosaic legislation upon which it rests has come to an end. This conclusion is indeed inescapable given the conclusions drawn in Heb 8:13. The author's argument here is reminiscent of Paul's perspective in Col 2:16-17: "Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ." The old covenant requirements and restrictions are displaced when the new covenant with its new order comes into existence.

EXTERNAL REGULATIONS: "Carnal ordinances" (AV), "righteousness of flesh" (Diag mg), "regulations for the body" (Weym, Moffatt). These could make ceremonially "clean", but not morally clean. They removed only the symbolic taints -- which were prescribed by the Law in the first place!

APPLYING: "Imposed on them" (AV): sig "to rest, or lay upon". The Law was a "burden" (Acts 15:10; Gal 5:1).

NEW ORDER: Gr "diorthosis" -- only here in NT. Sig a rectifying, or setting in order. Christ's sacrifice set in order all previous ordinances of the Law of Moses, by bringing -- finally -- their true and intended meaning into view.

Heb 9:11

Vv 11-14: The definitive nature of Christ's work. Here is the first such statement -- although this argument will be restated several times in this section (Heb 9:1 -- 10:18). The work of Christ corresponds in considerable detail to that of the Levitical priesthood, but it also stands in contrast to that system as its ultimate counterpart -- it is the reality as contrasted with its shadow, the prototype as contrasted with its copy. The work of Christ is final, absolute, definitive, complete, and perfect.

WHEN CHRIST CAME AS HIGH PRIEST OF THE GOOD THINGS THAT ARE ALREADY HERE, HE WENT THROUGH THE GREATER AND MORE PERFECT TABERNACLE THAT IS NOT MAN-MADE, THAT IS TO SAY, NOT A PART OF THIS CREATION: The orientation of the writer is clearly toward the present experience of the good things made possible -- in the "here and now", not just prospectively in the future -- through Christ's work as high priest.

THE GOOD THINGS THAT ARE ALREADY HERE: "Some mss, however, read 'the good things to come,' thereby orienting the verse to the future rather than to present fulfillment [this is followed by the KJV]. On the basis of both antiquity and diversity of witnesses, the reading of NIV's text is to be preferred. The reading 'the good things to come' is probably caused by the influence of the same words in Heb 10:1" (NIBC).

Heb 9:12

HE DID NOT ENTER BY MEANS OF THE BLOOD OF GOATS AND CALVES; BUT HE ENTERED THE MOST HOLY PLACE ONCE FOR ALL BY HIS OWN BLOOD, HAVING OBTAINED ETERNAL REDEMPTION: The necessity for the offering of blood is underlined in vv 18,22. Christ's offering of his own blood is equivalent to the offering of himself (Heb 7:27), or his body (Heb 10:10). So superior is the offering of his own blood (or self -- v 14, or body) that it procured "eternal" redemption, in distinct contrast to the provisional character of what was accomplished by the offering of the blood of animals. Stress on the salvation accomplished by Christ as eternal is also found in Heb 5:9 (cp Heb 13:20).

GOATS AND CALVES: Suggesting the Day of Atonement: Lev 16:9,14.

HE ENTERED THE MOST HOLY PLACE: This explains the antitype of Christ's passing the "veil" (Heb 10:20, and also his ascending into heaven. His one offering for sins was not complete until he appeared in the presence of God in heaven (not necessarily at the end of the 40 days, but much earlier -- in fact, probably immediately after his resurrection: see John 20:17n).

ONCE FOR ALL: See Heb 7:27.

HAVING OBTAINED ETERNAL REDEMPTION: "He [Christ] did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption" (Heb 9:12).

The AV adds, in italics, "for us", at the end of this verse -- as if to say that there was no salvation required for Christ at all.

This is manifestly untrue. Christ obtained redemption for himself, as well as for others -- for us! Our redemption is bound up in his. "[Christ] obtained eternal redemption" (the words "for us" -- italicized in the AV -- are omitted in various other versions, including RV, RSV, and NIV; Jesus obtained redemption FOR HIMSELF AND for others). See Lesson, Redemption.

"He [Jesus] was a sufferer from the hereditary effects of sin; for these effects are physical effects. Death is a physical law in our members implanted there through sin ages ago, and handed down from generation to generation. Consequently, partaking of our physical nature, he partook of this, and his own deliverance (as 'Christ the first fruits') was as necessary as that of his brethren. In fact, if Christ had not first been saved from death (Heb 5:7), if he had not first obtained eternal redemption (Heb 9:12), there would have been no hope for us, for we obtain salvation only through what he has accomplished in himself..." (RR). Notice also, that it was by his own "blood" (or life, or death, or body) that Jesus -- being an integral part of the "heavenly things" -- PURIFIED himself (v 23)! Cp also Rom 3:24; Phi 2:8.

Heb 9:13

Vv 13,14 form one long sentence in the Greek text, with v 13 providing an "if" clause, and v 14 a "then how much more" clause.

THE BLOOD OF GOATS AND BULLS AND THE ASHES OF A HEIFER SPRINKLED ON THOSE WHO ARE CEREMONIALLY UNCLEAN SANCTIFY THEM SO THAT THEY ARE OUTWARDLY CLEAN: The OT rituals, involving the blood of goats and bulls (cp Lev 16:15,16) and the sprinkling of the transgressors with the ashes of a heifer -- which were mixed with water to make "the water of cleansing... for purification from sin" (Num 19:9,17-19) -- cleansed the Israelites at only the external level -- so that they were "OUTWARDLY clean" (lit, "the purifying of the flesh"). These ceremonies, therefore, were really effective only for one kind of cleansing, that is, from ceremonial contamination.

THE ASHES OF A HEIFER SPRINKLED: To remove the "uncleanness" of death (Num 19). According to Edersheim, the HiPr was thus sprinkled twice during the week before the Day of Atonement (Temple 307).

CEREMONIALLY UNCLEAN: Sw Mark 7:15-23; Acts 10:15; 11:9; 15:11-20; 21:28. Uncleanness of "flesh", but not necessarily uncleanness of conscience (cp v 9)!

Heb 9:14

THE ETERNAL SPIRIT: "AN eternal spirit": Christ partook of the eternal wisdom of God, by which he was able to overcome.

"An age-abiding spirit", or character: a morality related to eternal things, a God-like character and frame of mind. Nothing more nor less than the perfectly holy life of the Son of God.

CLEANSE OUR CONSCIENCES FROM ACTS THAT LEAD TO DEATH: The new kind of cleansing made possible by this offering of Christ is described as the purifying of our consciences (cp Psa 51:7; Isa 1:18). That is, this cleansing penetrates to the inner recesses of our personhood and so involves far more than the cleansing of the flesh from ceremonial defilement.

"The probation which leads to purity is part of the evangel [good news] of the cross. 'Dead works' is a reference to the defilement which follows upon contact with the dead under the old law: not by human endeavour, nor by human cleverness is the defilement purged but alone by the mystery of the shed blood. The search for purity is not optional, it is an essential part of the process of redemption" (GD).

SO THAT WE MAY SERVE THE LIVING GOD: Those who have experienced this new cleansing -- the cleansing of the conscience -- are now able truly to serve the living God. The word "serve" here ("latreuo") is the sw earlier used for specifically priestly service (eg, Heb 8:5; 9:9). Only with the fulfillment brought by Christ's "once for all" sacrifice is it possible to arrive at the goal of serving God. The language of the tabernacle or temple service has been spiritualized here, as it is elsewhere in the NT (eg, Rom 12:1; 1Pe 2:5).

Heb 9:15

Vv 15-22: Christ's sacrifice: the ratifying of the new covenant. The existence of the latter, and the experience of it by Christians, depends squarely upon the former. The shedding of blood is thus essential to both old and new covenants.

FOR THIS REASON: That is, because of his death, AND because of moral purity (v 14).

CHRIST IS THE MEDIATOR OF A NEW COVENANT: It is clear that the author has in mind the new covenant spoken of by Jeremiah (Jer 31:31-34; Heb 8:8–112; 10:16,17).

See Lesson, Mediatorship of Christ.

THAT THOSE WHO ARE CALLED MAY RECEIVE THE PROMISED ETERNAL INHERITANCE: The author has already spoken of a special calling received by Christians through the preaching of the gospel in Heb 3:1. It is significant that he uses particularly Jewish concepts of "promise" and "inheritance" here (cp Heb 6:17). Cp also Rom 8:17, and the extended promises to Abraham -- involving an eternal inheritance of the land of promise -- in Gen 12:1-3; 13:15-18; etc. (The "eternal inheritance" -- promised to Abraham and his "seed" -- is in contrast to the temporal one, achieved under Joshua: Heb 4:3,4.)

NOW THAT HE HAS DIED AS A RANSOM TO SET THEM FREE FROM THE SINS COMMITTED UNDER THE FIRST COVENANT: The basis of this new situation is that Christ has died, which has as its result that it sets people free (cp the reference to "an eternal redemption" in v 12). It redeems them from the sins (lit, "transgressions") committed under the first covenant. The real answer to sins against the commandments of the Mosaic law is found not in the sacrifice of animals, but in the sacrifice of Christ. The new covenant thus contains within it the answer to the failure to abide by the requirements of the old covenant (cp Heb 8:12; 10:17,18). And, forgiveness experienced during the OT period depended finally upon an event that was to take place in the future. The sacrifice of Christ is the answer to sin in every era, past and present (Rom 3:25), since it alone is the means of forgiveness. Cp esp Rom 3:25: "God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had LEFT THE SINS COMMITTED BEFOREHAND UNPUNISHED."

RANSOM: "Apolutrosis" = to be bought away from. See Lesson, Redemption.

THE FIRST COVENANT: The Mosaic covenant (Gal 3:16,17).

Heb 9:16

Vv 16,17: The whole of this translation, not that much different from the KJV and various other versions, presumes the Greek word "diatheke" to be a will, or testament, which is only in force after the death of the testator. But the primary meaning of this word is 'covenant', not 'will' or 'testament'. This is a very secondary and specialized meaning of the word. In short, every will is a covenant, but not every covenant is a will!

However, some translations (notably the Emphatic Diaglott) seem to have gotten it right, assuming the more general meaning of "covenant". And thus we might translate vv 16,17:

"For where a covenant is made, there must of necessity be the death of the covenant-victim. For a covenant is only in force over a dead body [this is Jer 34:18-20!], because it is not binding as long as the covenant-victim lives."

Weymouth's translation has this footnote: "It is possible that the real meaning is, 'For where a covenant is made, there must be evidence of the death of the covenant-victim...' " With this Bullinger is in general agreement, and Rotherham has an interesting note on the word "covenant": "The NT word 'diatheke' signifies 'covenant' because it is the LXX rendering of the Hebrew 'berith' which everywhere in the OT means covenant and covenant only... It is a word in common use to denote all sorts of covenants between all sorts of persons." Rotherham then goes out to trace the obvious connections with "berith" (covenant) in Exodus 24 and "diatheke" (covenant) in Mat 26:27,28 -- as a guide to its meaning in the Letter to the Hebrews.

The point is obvious: If Christ were making a "last will and testament", then it could only have effect if he remained dead. But he has been raised from the dead, to share in the benefits of the "diatheke", indeed, to receive the benefits of the "diatheke" first of all for himself, before it could be for others. And so -- since Christ is not dead, but gloriously and eternally alive -- the whole idea of a testament and a testator breaks down totally when applied to him and the saints. (There is also this point: to introduce what is essentially a Gentile concept into what is an otherwise wholly Jewish, and Mosaic-oriented, letter would be an incongruity of significant magnitude.)

Christ therefore is being described here as the "covenant-victim" (cp Gen 15:17; Jer 34:18,19): his death -- in addition to being a sacrifice for sins -- was also the antitype of the death of the special animal called the "covenant-victim" (see Lesson, Covenant-victim, the). It was thru this death that the new covenant was ratified (cp generally Luk 1:72,73; Rom 15:8; Acts 3:25,26).

Heb 9:18

THIS IS WHY EVEN THE FIRST COVENANT WAS NOT PUT INTO EFFECT WITHOUT BLOOD: The writer now backs up, and in vv 19,20 analyzes the ratification of the old covenant -- thus explaining the pattern by which the new covenant was also to be ratified.

Heb 9:19

Vv 19,20: The author first shows the close connection between the giving of the law by Moses and the actual sealing of the covenant through the sprinkling of blood (Exo 24:3-8) -- whilst bringing together material from other OT passages as well (eg, Num 19:18,19; Exo 12:22; Lev 8:15,19; 14:4). An argument in favor of the latter suggestion is the association of Exodus 24 and Leviticus 19 in the synagogue lectionary.

The point of all this is clear: the sacrifice of animals and the ritualistic sprinkling of special objects with blood were important in the establishment of the covenant between God and Israel. This is made explicit through the citation of Exo 24:8 in v 20.

"The blood of the covenant" indeed serves a ratifying function whereby both parties obligate themselves to be faithful to the terms of the covenant. In the NT the shed blood of Jesus is explicitly associated with the new covenant (Luke 22:20; 1Co 11:25; cp Mat 26:28; Mark 14:24). (Even the ritual of the sprinkling of blood can be alluded to in reference to Christ's blood in 1Pe 1:2.) Any unfaithful party was subject to the fate of the sacrificial animal. Thus the blood of the covenant confirmed the reality of the covenant and emphasized the importance of faithfulness to it. (See Lesson, Covenant-victim, the.)

CALVES: "Bullocks" (Diag). The AV adds, "and of goats" -- ie, from burnt offering and peace offering (Exo 24:5; cp Lev 1:10).

WATER: Probably added to the blood to increase the quantity and to prevent coagulation, but the water in view may be that mixed with the ashes of a heifer and used for purification according to Num 19:17,18.

SCARLET WOOL AND BRANCHES OF HYSSOP: The wool was apparently used to fasten the hyssop sprig to a stick of cedar wood, thus making a utensil for ritual cleansing (cp Lev 14:4-7; Num 19:6).

Heb 9:20

THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT: "There is a strange power about the very name of blood, and the sight of it is always affecting. A kind heart cannot bear to see a sparrow bleed, and unless familiarized by use, turns away with horror at the slaughter of a beast. As to the blood of men, it is a consecrated thing: it is murder to shed it in wrath, it is a dreadful crime to squander it in war... the blood is the life, and the pouring of it forth the token of death... When we rise to contemplate the blood of the Son of God, our awe is yet more increased, and we shudder as we think of the guilt of sin, and the terrible penalty which the Sin-bearer endured. Blood, always precious, is priceless when it streams from Immanuel's side. The blood of Jesus seals the covenant of grace, and makes it for ever sure. Covenants of old were made by sacrifice, and the everlasting covenant was ratified in the same manner. Oh, the delight of being saved upon the sure foundation of divine engagements which cannot be dishonoured! Salvation by the works of the law is a frail and broken vessel whose shipwreck is sure; but the covenant vessel fears no storms, for the blood ensures the whole. The blood of Jesus made God's covenant valid" (CHS).

Heb 9:21


Heb 9:22

WITHOUT THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD THERE IS NO FORGIVENESS: The central importance of blood to the forgiveness of sins is stressed in Lev 17:11: "The life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life."

Heb 9:23

Vv 23-28: Christ and his work: the final answer to sin. This section summarizes the argument of the preceding sections: the repetition of the main points is deliberate (cp v 24 with v 11, and vv 25,26 with v 12). The stress is on what Christ has already done, once–and–for–all, rather than on what remains to occur.

IT WAS NECESSARY, THEN, FOR THE COPIES OF THE HEAVENLY THINGS TO BE PURIFIED WITH THESE SACRIFICES, BUT THE HEAVENLY THINGS THEMSELVES WITH BETTER SACRIFICES THAN THESE: "These sacrifices" were described in the preceding section (vv 19–22; cp v 13). This was God's will for the Mosaic dispensation. And it was also His intention that the Levitical sacrifices foreshadow the sacrifice of Christ -- which was the "better sacrifice" than these are necessary.

Why is "better sacrifices" plural, since there is really only one, "for-all-time" sacrifice (Heb 10:10,12)? Linguistically, because "the plural sacrifices here is caused by the generic contrast with the sacrifices of the old covenant" (NIBC). Figuratively, because -- perhaps -- the one sacrifice of Christ is mirrored in the many "sacrifices" of those in him, whose baptism and way of life replicate the "once, for-all" sacrifice of their Savior.

COPIES: Gr "hupodeigmata": sw Heb 4:11; 8:5.

The "copies" or patterns "of things in the heavens": refs to several Rev visions...

HEAVENLY THINGS THEMSELVES: The heavenly "tabernacle" = Christ and the saints -- God's tabernacle (see Heb 8:2n). Even Christ himself must purify himself from the taint of death (ie Gal 4:4), and from the curse of hanging on the tree (Gal 3:13; Deu 21:22).

Heb 9:24

FOR CHRIST DID NOT ENTER A MAN-MADE SANCTUARY THAT WAS ONLY A COPY OF THE TRUE ONE; HE ENTERED HEAVEN ITSELF, NOW TO APPEAR FOR US IN GOD'S PRESENCE: Christ himself is the reality to which the copies pointed. His sacrificial work thus was presented, so to speak, in heaven itself, and there he now continues in his high priestly ministry of intercession in God's presence (cp Heb 6:20; 7:25; Rom 8:34).

In a sense, the "heavenly" place is not so much a location, as a relationship with God: in like manner, the saints are made to sit in heavenly places in Christ (Eph 1:20; 2:6) -- altho not literally in heaven itself.

Heb 9:25

NOR DID HE ENTER HEAVEN TO OFFER HIMSELF AGAIN AND AGAIN, THE WAY THE HIGH PRIEST ENTERS THE MOST HOLY PLACE EVERY YEAR: By its very nature the work of the high priest involved the annually repeated (on the Day of Atonement) sacrifice and entry into the Holy of Holies.

WITH BLOOD THAT IS NOT HIS OWN: Each year, of course, there had to be new blood, blood of "another" sacrifice, and another, and another, ad infinitum.

Heb 9:26

THEN CHRIST WOULD HAVE HAD TO SUFFER MANY TIMES SINCE THE CREATION OF THE WORLD: But since in the supreme act of atonement Jesus took his own blood, and not that "of another," it is impossible for him to repeat the act of atonement, since this would entail his repeated dying, even from the beginning of time.

BUT NOW HE HAS APPEARED ONCE FOR ALL AT THE END OF THE AGES TO DO AWAY WITH SIN BY THE SACRIFICE OF HIMSELF: It is precisely here that the contrast between Christ's high priestly work and that of the Levitical high priest is most startling and revealing. It is important to note the close connection that exists between the once–and–for–all character of Christ's sacrifice and the fact that Christ's sacrificial work depends upon his own blood (cp Heb 7:27; 9:12). Where sin has been definitively canceled, as it has in Christ, the ages of the world have reached a turning point (cp Heb 1:2; 1Co 10:11).

TO DO AWAY WITH SIN: To "annul" or "cancel" sin. "Athetesis" is the same word used in Heb 7:18 (NIV "set aside"). Christ did away with sin, first of all, in living a life of perfect obedience (Rom 3:22n), and THEN he did away with his sinful nature on the cross (Rom 7:18; Job 14:4; 25:4; 2Co 5:21; Rom 8:3). Thus he destroyed the "devil" (Heb 2:14,15).

And finally, by his once-and-for-all sacrifice, Christ put away all OTHER offerings for sin!

BY THE SACRIFICE OF HIMSELF: See Lesson, Jesus destroys the devil.

Heb 9:27

Vv 27,28: The author here draws a parallel between the experience of man (ie, humankind) and that of Christ. In both instances, death can occur only once (Gen 3:19) but is not the end of the story. After death human beings face judgment; after his death, Christ will return to bring salvation, ie, to deliver his people from judgment. Whereas on the one hand judgment is a threat facing mankind, on the other, those who depend upon Christ's atoning work receive deliverance from judgment with the result that salvation is finally and fully experienced by those who are waiting for him (cp Phi 3:20; 2Ti 4:8). Thus, in keeping with the finality of Christ's sacrifice, the possibility of eternal salvation depends squarely upon the reality of Christ's atonement for sin.

Heb 9:28

SO CHRIST WAS SACRIFICED ONCE TO TAKE AWAY THE SINS OF MANY PEOPLE: The type is the HiPr going into the Most Holy, with the emblems of the 12 tribes on his garments, representing as he does the whole of the nation. And the antitype is Christ going to the cross and to heaven. "For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors" (Isa 53:12; cp 1Pe 2:24).

AND HE WILL APPEAR A SECOND TIME, NOT TO BEAR SIN, BUT TO BRING SALVATION TO THOSE WHO ARE WAITING FOR HIM: "The idea of appearing a second time, after the accomplishment of atonement in the presence of God, is reminiscent of the reappearance of the high priest after he had accomplished his task in the Holy of Holies. The apprehensiveness of the crowd while the high priest was out of sight, [is] followed by their great joy at his reappearance..." (NIBC).

NOT TO BEAR SIN: The AV "without sin" is better. Here, Jesus is spoken of -- not as a bearing, or carrying away, sin -- but much more as one who had possessed "sin" (in the flesh) before, but does so no longer.

John Carter's exposition of this passage is clear, unambiguous and correct: "As the high priest came out of the tabernacle to bless a waiting, expectant Israel, so Christ will appear a second time. He will come 'apart from sin' himself, for the old nature, sin nature that he bore, has been changed to 'a body of glory'. The past years were 'the days of his flesh' when he 'was made sin', though he knew no sin'. He will come for the salvation of those who wait for him, to change their bodies and make them like unto the body of his glory" (CHeb 109). He clearly has no qualms about attaching the word 'sin' to Jesus.

THOSE WHO ARE WAITING FOR HIM: So don't be among the throng of Jews, who every year return to the Temple to await the return of the High Priest from the Most Holy Place, for the "forgiveness" he brings is only temporary and ineffective. Instead, remain with the congregation of believers in Christ, and await the return of the true High Priest from heaven, for he will bring an eternal, once-and-for-all absolution and cleansing of ALL sins!

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