CONSIDER JESUS OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST
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Charts from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission
Amplified: Nor did He [enter into the heavenly sanctuary to] offer Himself regularly again and again, as the high priest enters the [Holy of] Holies every year with blood not his own. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: It is not that he has to offer himself repeatedly, as the High Priest year by year enters into the Holy Place with a blood that is not his own. (Westminster Press)
NLT: Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the earthly high priest who enters the Most Holy Place year after year to offer the blood of an animal. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: There is no intention that he should offer himself regularly, like the High Priest entering the holy of holies every year with the blood of another creature. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Nor yet [did He enter] in order that He might be offering himself often, even as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood belonging to another,
Young's Literal: nor that he may many times offer himself, even as the chief priest doth enter into the holy places every year with blood of others;
NOR WAS IT THAT HE SHOULD OFFER HIMSELF OFTEN: oud hina pollakis prosphere (3SPAS) heauton:
- Heb 9:7,14,26; 10:10
- Hebrews 9 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
Offer (4374) (prosphero from prós = toward + phéro = bring) literally means to bring toward and so refers to an offering, whether of gifts, prayers, or sacrifices. The Septuagint (LXX) uses this word 124 times and often in the context of a sacrificial offering (more than 50 times in Leviticus alone!). The picture conveyed by prosphero is to carry or bring something into the presence of someone usually implying that what is brought is then transferred to the one to whom it is brought.
Prosphero - 47x in 45v - Matt 2:11; 4:24; 5:23f; 8:4, 16; 9:2, 32; 12:22; 14:35; 17:16; 18:24; 19:13; 22:19; 25:20; Mark 1:44; 2:4; 10:13; Luke 5:14; 18:15; 23:14, 36; John 16:2; 19:29; Acts 7:42; 8:18; 21:26; Heb 5:1, 3, 7; 8:3f; 9:7, 9, 14, 25, 28; 10:1f, 8, 11f; 11:4, 17; 12:7. NAS = bringing(2), brought(12), deals(1), get(1), make an offering(1), offer(8), offered(12), offering(4), offers(1), present(2), presented(1), presenting(1).
Offer Himself often - The idea is "again and again", "over and over". The author is addressing the idea that Christ might have made an offering over and over like the Levitical high priests.
Wuest - The word “offer” does not refer here to Messiah offering Himself on the Cross, but to His entrance into the Holy of Holies. Vincent says: “The point is that, being once in the heavenly sanctuary, Christ was not compelled to renew often His presentation of Himself there, since, in that case, it would be necessary for Him to suffer often. Each separate offering would necessitate a corresponding suffering.” His was a once-for-all entrance, based upon and given efficacy and merit by virtue of His precious blood, as against the annual entrance of the high priest in Israel who came into the earthly tabernacle by virtue of the blood of sacrificial animals. (Hebrews Commentary)
Spurgeon - No, there is not a repeated offering of Christ to God, nor a repeated taking possession of heaven on our behalf. “Once for all” (Heb 10:10) the work is done. Jude 3 tells us that “once and for all” the faith was delivered to the saints: it is a final act, which is so complete that it needs no repeating. The entrance of our Lord once for all into the holy place has secured the entrance of His people. It was once, and it cannot be twice, because it was so effectual. This is set forth by the Evangelists, for when our Lord entered the holy place, the veil was rent. The holy of holies was laid open: its enclosure was thrown down. If any of His work were left undone, He would return to the earth that He might finish it, for He never did leave a work incomplete, and He never will. Christ effected the redemption of His people by one stroke: coming here, and living, and dying. He put away sin; He did not merely try to do it, but He actually accomplished the stupendous work for which He left His glory-throne above.
Often (4178) (pollakis from from polus = many + suffix -kis = numerical term denoting frequency) means many times or frequently. The Levitical priests in contrast to the Great High Priest's once for all time offering were in and out of the holy place (outer) daily and the Holy of holies every year.
Pollakis - 18x in 16v - Matt 17:15; Mark 5:4; 9:22; John 18:2; Acts 26:11; Rom 1:13; 2 Cor 8:22; 11:23, 26f; Phil 3:18; 2 Tim 1:16; Heb 6:7; 9:25f; 10:11. NAS = frequent(1), many(1), often(15), time after time(1).
Barnes - The Jewish high priest entered the most holy place with blood once every year. In this respect the offering made by Christ, and the work which he performed, differed from that of the Jewish high priest. It was not needful that he should enter the holy place but once. Having entered there, he permanently remains there. (Barnes Notes)
Vincent - His offering did not need repetition like the Levitical sacrifices. Offer Himself refers rather to Christ’s entrance into the heavenly sanctuary and presentation of himself before God, than to his offering on the cross (Ed: this is a possible interpretation but see other comments below). See on He 9:14. The sacrifice on the cross is described by pathen suffer, He 9:26, and is introduced as a distinct thought. The point is that, being once in the heavenly sanctuary, Christ was not compelled to renew often his presentation of Himself there, since, in that case, it would be necessary for Him to suffer often. Each separate offering would necessitate a corresponding suffering. (Vincent's Word Studies)
Poole - The excellency of Christ’s sacrifice beyond the Aaronical is argued here from its singularity; it needs no repetition, as their multiplied sacrifices did. (Matthew Poole Commentary)
Adam Clarke - The sacrifice of Christ is not like that of the Jewish high priest; his must be offered every year, Christ has offered himself once for all: and this sacrificial act has ever the same efficacy, his crucified body being still a powerful and infinitely meritorious sacrifice before the throne.
Leon Morris - Two things call for comment. The first is the clear implication that only Christ's offering can put away sin. The sins of those who lived in old times were dealt with by Christ's one offering. The reasoning is that if that offering had not been sufficient, Christ would have had to offer himself "again and again." That is to say, no other offering is in view when it is a matter of really putting sin away. The other point is that when the high priest entered the Most Holy Place he did so "with blood that is not his own." The superiority of Christ's offering is seen in that he does not press into service some external means, like the blood of some noncooperating, non-comprehending animal. He uses his own blood and with it makes the one sufficient offering. (Gaebelein, F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary 6-Volume New Testament. Zondervan Publishing)
Our Daily Bread Devotionals Related to Hebrews 9 - These make excellent sermon illustrations…
- Hebrews 9:11-22 There When You Need It
- Hebrews 9:11-28 "Blood Red"
- Hebrews 9:12 "Tired Blood"
- Hebrews 9:16 His Will Is Valid
- Hebrews 9:16 A Good Will
- Hebrews 9:16 No Lost Legacy
- Hebrews 9:22: There When You Need It
- Hebrews 9:22: House Of Symbols
- Hebrews 9:24-28 Winchester’s Widow
- Hebrews 9:24-28 Dead Is Dead
- Hebrews 9:23-28 Love Gives Value
- Hebrews 9:27 Taking Risks
- Hebrews 9:27 Never Wait for the Storm
- Hebrews 9:27: Consider The Landing
- Hebrews 9:27: An Inevitable Appointment
- Hebrews 9:27: On The Edge Of Eternity
- Hebrews 9:27: Final Appointment
- Hebrews 9:27: A Sure Thing
- Hebrews 9:27: An Eternal Future
- Hebrews 9:27: Are You Ready?
- Hebrews 9:27: 'Looking For Loopholes'
- Hebrews 9:27: 'Life's Final Deadline
- Hebrews 9:27-10:18 The Ultimate Tragedy
- Hebrews 9:28: The Perfect Sacrifice
- Hebrews 9:28: Finished!
AS THE HIGH PRIEST ENTERS THE HOLY PLACE YEAR BY YEAR WITH BLOOD NOT HIS OWN: hosper o archiereus eiserchetai (3SPMI) eis ta hagia kat eniauton en haimati allotrio:
- Heb 9:12; Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 16:2-34
- Hebrews 9 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
Spurgeon - What Aaron could not do by entering into the holy place year after year, Christ has done by entering into heaven once. There is no more need of a sacrifice for sin, and they are grossly guilty who pretend to offer Christ over again. The great work of redemption is finished; sin is put away, and there is no more remembrance of it. In the sight of God, Christ’s one sacrifice has completed the expiation of sin; glory be to His holy name!
High Priest (dictionary article) (749) (archiereus from archi- = denoting rank or degree + hiereus = priest) was the principal member among the chief priests. The irony is that the high priest Caiaphas was residing over the Sanhedrin during trial of Jesus, the trial which would lead to His death and pave the way for His eternal High Priesthood!
Holy Place (40) (hagios = set apart, separated, sanctified) in context refers to the holy place set apart (sanctified) for God's special purpose, especially to picture a way back to God. But it was only a shadow of which the Holy One Himself, the Messiah, was the substance.
Year by year - Speaking of the once per year Day of Atonement (Lev 16:1-34). Over and over. This emphasizes the inadequacy of the ritual observances under the Old Covenant.
Year (1763) (eniautos) can mean one year or any indefinite time (an era or an epoch).
Blood not his own - Another striking contrast with our Great High Priest Who entered with His own blood, not that of bulls and goats! His is clearly a better priesthood and a better sacrifice.
Blood (129) (haima) speaks of the substance which is the basis of life and by which atonement is made for sin (Lev 17:11)
- Articles on the Day of Atonement celebrated today by Jews as "Yom Kippur"
- What is the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)?
- For OT background be sure to take time to read the great chapter - Leviticus 16:1-34+
Hebrews 9:26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (NASB: Lockman)
Amplified: For then would He often have had to suffer [over and over again] since the foundation of the world. But as it now is, He has once for all at the consummation and close of the ages appeared to put away and abolish sin by His sacrifice [of Himself]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: Were that so he would have had to suffer again and again since the world was founded. But now, as things are, once and for all, at the end of the ages, he has appeared with his sacrifice of himself so that our sins should be cancelled. (Westminster Press)
NLT: If that had been necessary, he would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But no! He came once for all time, at the end of the age, to remove the power of sin forever by his sacrificial death for us. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: For that would mean that he would have to suffer death every time he entered Heaven from the beginning of the world! No, the fact is that now, at this point in time, the end of the present age, he has appeared once and for all to abolish sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: since then it would have been a necessity in the nature of the case for Him to suffer often since the foundation of the universe. But now at this very time, once in the consummation of the ages, for the putting away of sin through His sacrifice has He been manifested.
Young's Literal: since it had behoved him many times to suffer from the foundation of the world, but now once, at the full end of the ages, for putting away of sin through his sacrifice, he hath been manifested;
OTHERWISE, HE WOULD HAVE NEEDED TO SUFFER OFTEN SINCE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD: epei edei (3SIAI) auton pollakis pathein (AAN) apo kataboles kosmou:
- Matthew 25:34; John 17:24; 1Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8; 17:8
- Hebrews 9 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
Otherwise (1893) (epei) in this context means "inasmuch as".
Spurgeon - For Christ once to die a shameful death upon the cross on Calvary has made an indelible mark upon our heart, as though it had been burned with a hot iron. I have sometimes half said to myself, “God forbid that His dear Son should ever have died!” The price seemed too great even for our redemption. Should He die, the Holy One and the Just, the glorious, and blessed Son of God? The answer to that question is that he has died. Thank God, he can never die again! It would be horrible to us to think that it should be possible that He should ever be called upon to bear our sins a second time. Every man’s death day is his doomsday; all is settled then. So Jesus, when He died, finished His atoning work, and nothing remains for Him but to come a second time, no more to die, to take His great reward.
Marcus Dods writes that "If Christ’s one offering of Himself were not eternally efficacious, if it required periodical renewal, then this demanded periodical sacrifice. It was ‘not without blood’ that the entrance was made, and if the entrance required repetition, so must the sacrifice be repeated. If His offering of Himself were not independent of time and valid as a single act, if it were valid only for the generation for whom it was immediately made, then in order to benefit men in the past, He must have suffered often, indeed in each generation of the past." (The Expositor's Greek Testament )
He would have needed (1163)(dei [word study] from deo = to bind or tie objects together, put in prison and also root of doulos, bond-servant) refers to what is not optional but needful (binding) out of intrinsic necessity or inevitability. Dei refers to inward constraint which is why it is often translated "must". Dei describes that which is under the necessity of happening or which must necessarily take place, often with the implication of inevitability.
Suffer (3958) (pascho) means to experience a sensation or feeling which comes from outside of one's self and which has to be suffered. It means to undergo an experience, usually difficult, normally with implication of physical or psychological suffering.
Often (4178) (pollakis from from polus = many + suffix -kis = numerical term denoting frequency) means many times or frequently.
Foundation (2602) (katabole from kataballo = to throw down from kata = down + ballo = throw, cast) is literally a casting down or laying down. The original idea was the laying down of the foundation of a house.
Katabole was a technical term for putting seed into the ground, it is also used of the role of the male in impregnating the female and there is one such use in He 11:11-note, referring to the casting in or sowing of seed, conveying the idea of begetting.
TDNT adds that katabole meant "“laying down,” is used for, e.g., the casting of seed, human begetting, the sowing of war, and the establishment of government.
Ten of the 11 NT uses of katabole (there are no uses in the LXX) are in the phrase "foundation of the world". Here are the uses in Hebrews…
Hebrews 4:3 (note) For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, "As I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest," although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.
Hebrews 9:26 (note) Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
Hebrews 11:11 (note) By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised;
Vincent - For, from the foundation of the world, sin required atonement by sacrifice; and, therefore, if Christ had been a victim like others, which must be offered repeatedly, he would have had to suffer repeatedly from the foundation of the world. If his sacrifice, like the animal atonements, had availed for a time only, he would have been obliged to repeat his offering whenever that time expired; and, since his atonement was designed to be universal, it would have been necessary for him to appear repeatedly upon earth, and to die repeatedly from the foundation of the world. Comp. 1 Peter 1:20 (note); Revelation 13:8 (note). (Ibid)
BUT NOW ONCE AT THE CONSUMMATION OF THE AGES: nuni de hapax epi sunteleia ton aionon:
- Heb 1:2; Isaiah 2:2; Daniel 10:14; Micah 4:1; 1Corinthians 10:11; Galatians 4:1; Ephesians 1:10; 1Peter 1:20
- Hebrews 9 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
But now once - One of the essential features of the OT sacrifices was the fact that they were never finished but needed to be offered year after year (He 10:1-note) and thereby served as a continual (and necessary) reminder of man’s sin day after day, month after month, year after year (Heb 10:3-note).
Spurgeon - Who is this that has appeared to put away sin? I will not delay for a moment, but tell you at once that He that appeared was very God of very God. He against whom sin had been committed, He who will judge the quick and the dead—He it was who appeared to put away sin. Who is it that appeared? It is He, the commissioned of the Father. Christ did not come as an amateur Saviour, trying an experiment on His own account. He came as the chosen Mediator, ordained of God for this tremendous task. “He appeared,” He who was pledged in covenant to do it—for, of old, before the world was, He became the Surety of the covenant on behalf of His people. He undertook to redeem them. His Father gave Him a people to be His own, and He declared that He would do the Father’s will and perfect those whom the Father had given Him.
Now (3570)(nun) is an word which is used as a direct antithesis to something done in past.
Once (530) (hapax) once for all time.
Hapax - 14x in 14v (Note concentration in Hebrews) - 2Cor 11:25; Phil 4:16; 1Th 2:18; Heb 6:4; 9:7, 26, 27 18; 10:2; 12:26, 27; 1 Pet 3:18; Jude 1:3, 5. NAS = once(9), once for all(3), once more(2).
Steven Cole writes that Christ's…
one sacrifice at the consummation of the ages put away our sin (He 9:26-note). “The consummation of the ages” is similar to Paul’s phrase in Gal 4:4, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son….” It implies the preexistence of Christ before His birth. It also means that the cross represents the apex or consummation of God’s purpose of the ages, to glorify Himself.
At the cross, God’s perfect justice was displayed. If He had simply forgiven our sins without the payment of the penalty, He would not have been just. The death of the infinite, holy Son of God satisfied God’s wrath by paying the penalty we deserved. The cross also magnified God’s amazing love and grace. Any system of salvation that magnifies human merit or minimizes the cross is not from God.
At the cross, Christ “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (He 9:26). The Greek word for “put away” is used only in He 7:18, where it refers to the “setting aside” of the Law that established the Levitical priesthood in deference to the greater Melchizedek priest-hood of Jesus. “Put away” “is used in a technical, juristic sense,” “meaning ‘to annul’ or ‘cancel’” (Morris, p. 93). Philip Hughes (A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews [Eerdmans], p. 385) states, “This nullification, moreover, is comprehensive: it covers sin in its totality, without qualification, in every form and degree and also in every age of human history, retrospectively as well as prospectively.” This means that when Christ died, He paid the penalty for the sins of all of His elect both before and after the cross.
Consummation (4930) (sunteleia from sun = together or an intensifier + teleo = to finish) describes the bringing of something to a successful finish. In a word the noun sunteleia means completion, conclusion, close, end, consummation. It is used 5 times by Jesus Himself in the phrase the "end of the age."
Sunteleia is used much more frequently in the Lxx than in NT. Study especially the uses (see Lxx uses below) in the apocalyptic or prophetic portions of Daniel (Da 8:19-note, Da 9:25-note, Da 9:26-note, Da 9:27-note, Da 12:4, 6, 7, 13-note). Sunteleia is clearly an "eschatologically rich" term both the Old and the New Testaments apply to the end of the age.
Sunteleia - 6x in 6v - Usage: consummation(1), end(5).
Matthew 13:39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.
40 "So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age.
49 "So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous,
Matthew 24:3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"
Matthew 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Comment: His presence, the indwelling Spirit of Christ, is also His power to perform.
Hebrews 9:26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
Sunteleia - 56 verses in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - Ex 23:16; Deut 11:12; Josh 4:8; Jdg 20:40; 1 Sam 8:3; 20:41; 1 Kgs 6:22, 25; 2 Kgs 13:17, 19; 2 Chr 24:23; Ezra 9:14; Neh 9:31; Esth 4:17; Job 26:10; 30:2; Ps 59:12f; 119:96; Jer 4:27; 5:10, 18; 46:28; Ezek 11:13; 13:13; 20:17; 21:28; 22:12; Dan 4:28, 31, 34; 8:19; Da 9:25-27; 11:6, 13, 27, 35f, 40, 45; 12:4, 6f, 13; Amos 1:14; 8:8; 9:5; Nah 1:3, 8f; Hab 1:9, 15; 3:19; Zeph 1:18
Dan 9:27 “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction (Lxx = at the end of time an end shall be put to the desolation), one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”
The word hapax with the meaning of once and for all is stressed in Heb 9:26 in regard to the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ as contrasted by the appearance of the high priest every year in the Holy of Holies (Heb 9:25). Hapax in this sense means that this was the first and last time that Christ’s offering was made, and it was made for the once–and–for–all removal of sin.
The idea of the perpetual offering of Christ is a heretical doctrine that for many centuries has contradicted this and the many other clear biblical teachings about the finished work of Christ. It maintains that, inasmuch as the priesthood of Christ is perpetual and sacrifice is an essential part of priesthood, therefore the sacrificial offering of Christ must also be perpetual.
Spurgeon - Our Lord has once for all made an atonement, and all attempts to tamper with His finished work is treason such as shall be answered for in the court of heaven. Terrible shall be the doom of those who have dishonored Christ in the point where He is most jealous of his honor. Christ’s being in heaven today is a proof that there is nothing to divide a sinner from God on God’s part.
Ages (165) (aion) is here plural to imply that the course of history is regarded as a succession of various periods, of which the appearance of Christ forms the conclusion. The phrase the end of the ages designates the present age as the last of a series. It marks the end of human history as we now know it and will terminate in the events which Jesus foretold would occur “at the end of the age” (Mt 24,25).
His one sacrifice of Himself was made at the consummation of the ages. The epistles confirm this.
“Children, it is the last hour” (1Jn 2:18)
“For the coming of the Lord is at hand” (Jas 5:8)
“The end of all things is at hand” (1Peter 4:7-note).
Consummation of the ages - Vincent explains that "The true sense is the consummation of the ages: that is to say, Christ appeared when the former ages had reached their moral consummation under the old Levitical economy."
The consummation of the ages was manifest by Christ's fully satisfactory sacrifice at Calvary and thus it is little wonder that the the apostles and first century church expected Jesus to return at any moment and set up His kingdom to establish the messianic age (see Millennium), “the age to come” (Mt 12:32). Until that age, His promise is "Lo I am with you always even to the end of the age". (Mt 28:20). The crucifixion of Christ marked the consummation of the ages because of His once and for all sacrifice. The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world, did not simply "cover" sin like the OT sacrifices but He actually put away or removed sin.
All the eras and ages came together and were consummated in the coming of the Messiah. The eschatological era was inaugurated and thus Paul wrote…
But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law (Gal. 4:4).
Vine - Taking the order of the words in the original, the clause “at the end of the ages” is to be connected with “to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” Christ was manifested in incarnation for the purpose of putting away sin. It was at the consummation of the ages that He offered Himself in sacrifice at Calvary. All ages prior to that event looked on to it; all succeeding ages will look back to it. The Cross was ever in view in the eternal counsels of God in the past, it ever is before Him, and always will be, in the ages to come. The dispensational and providential dealings of God with men in the past ages were preparatory to this great act of redeeming grace and mercy. And from it has come, and will come, every blessing that God has for any of His creatures. The work of the Cross thus forms the pivot of all God’s counsels and acts in regard to man and to creation at large. (Collected writings of W. E. Vine)
Spurgeon writes that…
THE TWO GREAT links between earth and heaven are the two advents of our Lord: or, rather, he is the great bond of union, by these two appearings. When the world had revolted, and God had been defied by his own creatures, a great gulf was opened between God and man. The first coming of Christ was like a bridge which crossed the chasm and made a way of access from God to man, and then from man to God. Our Lord's second advent will make that bridge far broader, until heaven shall come down to earth, and ultimately earth shall go up to heaven. At these two points a sinful world is drawn into closest contact with a gracious God. Jesus herein is seen as opening the door which none can shut, by means of which the Lord is beheld as truly Emmanuel, God with us.
Here, too, is the place for us to build a grand suspension bridge, by which, through faith, we ourselves may cross from this side to the other of the stormy river of time. The cross, at whose feet we stand, is the massive column which supports the structure on this side; and as we look forward to the glory, the second advent of our Lord is the solid support on the other side of the deep gulf of time. By faith we first look to Jesus, and then for Jesus; and herein is the life of our spirits. Christ on the cross of shame, and Christ on the throne of glory, we dwell between these two boundaries: these are our Dan and Beersheba, and all between is holy ground. As for our Lord's first coming, there lies our rest: the once-offered Sacrifice hath put away our sin, and made our peace with God. As for his second coming, there lies our hope, our joy; for we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. The glories of his sacred royalty shall be repeated in all the saints; for he hath made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign with him for ever and ever. At his first advent we adore him with gratitude rejoicing in "God with us", as making himself to be our near kinsman. We gather with grateful boldness around the infant in the manger, and behold our God. But in the second advent we are struck with a solemn reverence, a trembling awe. We are not less grateful, but we are more prostrate as we bow before the majesty of the triumphant Christ. Jesus in his glory is an overpowering vision. John, the beloved disciple, writes, "When I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead." We could have kissed his feet till he quitted us on Olivet; but at the sight of the returning Lord, when heaven and earth shall flee away, we bow in lowliest adoration. His first appearing has given us that life and holy confidence with which we press forward to his glorious appearing, which is the crown of all.
I want, at this time, to bring before you those two appearings of our Lord. The text says, "He hath appeared"; and again, "He shall appear." The twenty-sixth verse speaks of his unique manifestation already accomplished, and the twenty-eighth verse promises the glorious second outshining, as it promises, "He shall appear." Between these two lights-"he hath appeared" and "he shall appear"-we shall sail safely, if the Holy Spirit will direct our way.
My first head is this, once, and no second; and my other division of discourse will make a kind of paradox, but not a contradiction-yet a second.
I. Our first theme is, ONCE, AND NO SECOND.
Now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."
This he has done once, and he will never repeat it. Let us dwell on the subject in detail.
Our Lord Jesus Christ has once appeared, and though he will appear again, it will not be for the same purpose. On his first appearing fix your thoughts; for the like of it will never be seen again. In the bosom of the Father he lay concealed as God; as the second person of the divine Trinity in Unity he could not be seen, for "no man hath seen God at any time." It is true that "without him was not anything made that was made"; and thus his hand was seen in his works; but as to himself, he was still hidden; revealed in type and prophecy, but yet in fact concealed. Jesus was not manifest to the sons of men, until one midnight an angel hastened from the skies, and bade the shepherds know that unto them was born in Bethlehem a Saviour, that is Christ the Lord. Then the rest of the angelic host, discovering that one of their number had gone before them on so wonderful an errand, were swift to overtake him; and in one mass of glittering glory they filled the midnight skies with heavenly harmony as they sang, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Well might they sing; for the Son of God now appeared. In the manger he might be seen with the eyes, and looked upon, and handled; for there the Word was made flesh, and God was incarnate. He whom the ages could not contain, the glorious One who dwelt with the Father for ever unseen, now appeared within the bounds of time and space, and humble shepherds saw him, and adored. By Gentiles he was seen; for wise men from the East beheld and worshipped him whose star had led them. As he grew up, the children of Nazareth beheld him as a child obedient to his parents; and by-and-by he was made manifest to men by the witness of John and the descent of the Holy Ghost upon him at his baptism. God bore him witness as he went up and down the hills of Palestine preaching the kingdom and proclaiming salvation to the sons of men. Men saw him; for he spake among them openly, and walked in their midst. His was not the seclusion of dignity, but the manifestation of sympathy. "He went about doing good." He was seen of angels, for they came and ministered unto him; and he was seen of devils, for they trembled at his word. He dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory: he was the revelation of God to men, so that he could say, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." He was made still more manifest by his death; for in his crucifixion he was lifted up from the earth, that all might behold him. He was exalted upon the cross, even as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, on purpose that whosoever looked to him might live. There and then he opened those four conspicuous founts of cleansing blood which were made to flow by the nails. See how it flows from hands and feet! There, too, he laid bare his side, and set his heart abroach for dying men, and forthwith there flowed forth blood and water. Thus we may look into his inmost heart. High on the cross the Saviour hung, without veil or curtain to conceal him. "Once in the end of the world hath he appeared." I know of no appearance that could have been more complete, more unreserved. He moved in the midst of crowds, he spake to men and women one by one. He was on the mountain, and by the sea; he was in the desert, and by the river; he was both in house and in temple; he was everywhere accessible; in the fullest sense "once in the end of the world hath he appeared." Oh, the glory of this gracious epiphany! This is the greatest event in history: the invisible God has appeared in human form.
TO PUT AWAY SIN
The text tells us very precisely that in this first coming of our Lord he appeared to put away sin. Notice that fact. By his coming and sacrifice he accomplished many things; but his first end and object was "to put away sin." You know what the modern babblers say: they declare that he appeared to reveal to us the goodness and love of God. This is true; but it is only the fringe of the whole truth. The fact is, that he revealed God's love in the provision of a sacrifice to put away sin. Then, they say that he appeared to exhibit perfect manhood, and to let us see what our nature ought to be. Here also is a truth; but it is only part of the sacred design. He appeared, say they, to manifest self-sacrifice, and to set us an example of love to others. By his self-denial he trampled on the selfish passions of man. We deny none of these things; and yet we are indignant at the way in which the less is made to hide the greater. To put the secondary ends into the place of the grand object is to turn the truth of God into a lie. It is easy to distort truth, by exaggerating one portion of it and diminishing another; just as the drawing of the most beautiful face may soon be made a caricature rather than a portrait by neglect of proportion. You must observe proportion if you would take a truthful view of things; and in reference to the appearing of our Lord, his first and chiefest purpose is "to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." The great object of our Lord's coming here was not to live, but to die. He hath appeared, not so much to subdue sin by his teaching, as to put it away by the sacrifice of himself. The master purpose which dominated all that our Lord did, was not to manifest goodness, nor to perfect an example, but to put away sin by sacrifice. That which the moderns would thrust into the background, our Lord placed in the forefront. He came to take away our sins, even as the scapegoat typically carried away the sin of Israel into the wilderness that the people might be clean before the living God. The Lord Jesus has come hither as a priest to remove sin from his people: "Ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins." Do not let us think of Jesus without remembering the design of his coming. I pray you, brethren, know not Christ without his cross, as some pretend to know him. We preach Christ; so do a great many more: but, "we preach Christ crucified"; so do not so many more. We preach concerning our Lord, his cross, his blood, his death; and upon the blood of his cross we lay great stress, extolling much "the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." We know no past appearing of God in human flesh except that appearing which ended with a sacrifice to put away sin. For this our Saviour came, even to save sinners by putting away their sin. We will not deny, nor conceal, nor depreciate his master purpose, lest we be found guilty of trampling upon his blood, and treating it as an unholy thing. The putting away of sin was a Godlike purpose; and it is a wellspring of hope to us, that for this reason Jesus appeared among men.
Let us go a step further with our text: once only does the Lord appear for purpose of putting away sin. He came once to do it, and he has done it so well that there is no need for him to offer any further sacrifice.
"This man, after that he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down."
He will never appear a second time for the putting away of sin. It was his purpose once; but he has so fulfilled it that it will never be his purpose again. The high priest, as you know, came every year with blood for the putting away of sin. He has slain the victim this year, but next year he must come in the same manner, and the next, and the next, and the next; because the sacrifice had not really removed the guilt; but our Lord has come once for this divine purpose; and he has so achieved that purpose that he could truly cry, "It is finished"; for the work is done once for all. He has so perfectly put away sin by the sacrifice of himself that he will never need to offer a second sacrifice. That our Lord should ever come a second time as he came the first time is inconceivable by those who love him. He will come a second time, but in a very different style, and for a very different purpose; not as a sacrifice for sins, but as King and Judge.
And here learn yet further, that once only is sin put away. Jesus died to finish transgression and make an end of sin. Our Lord made atonement for sin when he died the just for the unjust: he made peace for us when the chastisement of our peace was upon him. When the Lord had laid upon him the iniquity of us all, divine wrath fell upon him on account of our sins, until he cried, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me." Then sin was put away. There, but never anywhere else, was full atonement presented, and iniquity was blotted out. There is no other place of expiation for sin but the place of our Lord's sacrifice of himself. Believing in him that died on the cross, our sins are put away; but without faith in him there is no remission of sin. Beyond our Lord's, other sacrifice there is none; other sacrifice there will never be. If any of you here are entertaining some "larger hope", I would say to you-Hope what you please; but remember, that hope without truth at the bottom of it, is an anchor without a holdfast. A groundless hope is a mere delusion. Wish what you will; but wishes without promises from God to back them, are vain imaginings. Why should you imagine or wish for another method of salvation? Rest you assured that the Lord God thinks so highly of the one sacrifice for sin, that for you to desire another is evil in his sight. If you reject the one sacrifice of the Son of God, there remains no hope for you; nor ought there to be. Our Lord's way of putting away sin is so just to God, so honoring to the law, and so safe for you, that if you reject it your blood must be on your own head. By once offering up himself to God, our Lord has done what myriads of years of repentance and suffering could never have done. Blessed be the name of the Lord, the sin of the world, which kept God from dealing with men at all, was put away by our Lord's death! John the Baptist said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." God has been able to deal with the world of sinners in a way of grace, because Jesus died. I thank our Lord even more, because the actual sins of his own chosen-even of all those who believe on him in every age-have been put away. These sins were laid on him; and in him God visited man for them. "He his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree"; and so put them away for ever, and they are cast into the depths of the sea. The putting away of my guilt as a believer was really, effectually, and eternally accomplished by the death of thy great Substitute upon the bloody tree. This is the ground of our everlasting consolation and good hope through grace. Jesus did it alone; he did not only seem to do it, but he actually achieved the putting away of sin. He blotted out the handwriting that was against us. He finished transgression and made an end of sin; and brought in everlasting righteousness when once for all he died upon the cross.
Beloved, there is a further note here: observe that once only hath he made a sacrifice of himself. "Now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." The very best way to describe the death of our Lord is to call it "the sacrifice of himself." It may be well rightly to divide the sacrifice, as the priest cut up the bullock or the ram. You may speak of our Lord's bodily sufferings, his mental griefs, and his spiritual anguish; but for the most part we are not able to go far in this detailed appreciation of the wondrous sacrifice. We are such poor folk in spiritual things, that instead of bringing a bullock which could be anatomized and its vital organs all laid bare, we are content to bring a pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons; and these were not carefully divided asunder, but burned upon the altar. The most of us have to take our Lord Jesus Christ as a whole; since, from want of understanding, we cannot go into detail. What did he offer to God? He made a sacrifice of himself. Truly he sacrificed his crown, his rest, his honor, his reputation, and his life; but the essence of the sacrifice was himself: Himself took our iniquity, and bare our sorrows. "He his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree." Thy sacrifice, O Christ, is not to be measured unless we could compute the infinity of thy Godhead. It was not only thy labor, thy pain, thy shame, thy death; thy sacrifice was thyself; what more couldest even thou offer? There, on the altar, the Son of God did place himself, and there he bled and died that he might be the victim of punitive justice, the substitute for guilty men. There was he unto God a sweet-smelling savor, because he vindicated the law, and made it possible for the Lawgiver to be justly merciful. This, according to our text, was done once, and only once, and it never will be repeated; so that the whole business of our Lord's appearing to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, is confined to one appearing and one offering. I want that word "ONE" to ring in your ears. "By one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." I would have the adverb "once" go through every ear, and abide in every heart. "By his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." Peter says, "Christ also hath once suffered for sins." (Hebrews 9:26-28 Between the Two Appearings)
Finished! - Outside Madrid stands an ancient monastery where the kings of Spain have been buried. The architect designed an elongated arch so flat that the reigning monarch insisted it could not hold the structure above it.
Against the architect's protest, the king ordered that a column be placed underneath the arch as a safety precaution. After the king died, the architect revealed that he had deliberately made the column a quarter of an inch too short--and the arch had never sagged!
Nothing need be, or can be, added to the finished work of Christ on Calvary to sustain the weight of the world's salvation. Our Savior's cry from the cross, "It is finished!" (Jn. 19:30), is a translation of a single Greek word (Ed: tetelestai) which more literally could be rendered as "Ended!" "Completed!" or "Accomplished!" (Ed: Or "Paid in Full"! "The debt is cancelled completely"))
That one word tells of the greatest miracle our Lord performed, the work of redeeming a lost world. Because our redemption was perfectly finished, it is impossible for us to add even one submicroscopic work of our own to what was already done on the cross.
With utter assurance, then, we can rest our eternal hope on that one all-important word, "Finished!" —Vernon C Grounds (Our Daily Bread)
Once for all, O sinner, receive it!
Once for all, O brother, believe it!
Cling to the cross, the burden will fall.
Christ has redeemed us once for all. --Bliss
(Play Free From the Law)
We are saved not by what we do but by what Christ has done
HE HAS BEEN MANIFESTED TO PUT AWAY SIN BY THE SACRIFICE OF HIMSELF: eis athetesin (tes) hamartias dia tes thusias autou pephanerotai (3SRPI):
- Heb 9:12; 7:27; 10:4,10; Lev 16:21,22; 2Sa 12:13; 24:10; Job 7:21; Da 9:24; Jn 1:29; 1Pe 2:24; 3:18; 1Jn 3:5) (He 9:14; 10:12,26; Ep 5:2; Titus 2:14
- Hebrews 9 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
Spurgeon - He could not sit in heaven and do this great work. With all reverence to the blessed Son of God, we can truly say that He could not have saved us if He had kept His throne, and not left the courts of glory; but he appeared.
He has been manifested (5319) (phaneroo [word study] from phanerós = manifest, visible, conspicuous in turn from phaino = give light; become visible in turn from phos = light) is literally "to bring to light" and primarily means "to make visible" or to cause to become visible. It indicates an external manifestation to the senses which is thus open to all. It means to make visible that which has been hidden. The primary reference is to what is visible to sensory perception and thus which is made to appear, caused to be seen or uncovered, laid bare or revealed.
To be manifested, in the Scriptural sense is more than just to appear. For example, a person may appear in a false guise or without a disclosure of what he truly is. Thus in this context, phaneroo conveys the sense of to be manifested or to be revealed in one's true character (this is meaning in Jn 3:21, 1Cor 4:5, 2Cor 5:10,11, Eph 5:13-note)
Phaneroo - 49x in 44v - NAS = appear(1), appeared(6), appears(3), become visible(1), becomes visible(1), disclose(1), disclosed(1), displayed(1), made… evident(2), made known(1), made manifest(2), make… clear(1), manifested(18), manifests(1), revealed(7), show(1), shown(1). Mk 4:22; 16:12, 14; John 1:31; 2:11; 3:21; 7:4; 9:3; 17:6; 21:1, 14; Rom 1:19; 3:21; 16:26; 1 Cor 4:5; 2 Cor 2:14; 3:3; 4:10f; 5:10f; 7:12; 11:6; Eph 5:13f; Col 1:26; 3:4; 4:4; 1 Tim 3:16; 2 Tim 1:10; Titus 1:3; Heb 9:8, 26; 1 Pet 1:20; 5:4; 1 John 1:2; 2:19, 28; 3:2, 5, 8; 4:9; Rev 3:18; 15:4.
Clearly phaneroo refers to His manifestation in the flesh, His incarnation The perfect tense points out that He appeared at a specific point in time (fulness of time Gal 4:4) which is a past completed action (His first advent) with continuing on-going results and benefits (E.g., He is now interceding as the High Priest).
Phaneroo also describes Christ's first appearance in 2Timothy…
but now has been revealed (phaneroo in the aorist tense = past completed action - a historical event) by the appearing (epiphaneias - English "epiphany") of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2Ti 1:10-note)
OF CHRIST IN
It has been pointed out that we have three appearances of Christ in He 9:24, 28 summarized as follows:
He 9:26: He has appeared. His First Advent when He came to earth to save us from the penalty of sin (past tense salvation = justification - see Three Tenses of Salvation).
He 9:24: He now appears. His present ministry in the presence of God to save us from the power of sin (present tense salvation = sanctification).
He 9:28: He will appear. His imminent Return when He will save us from the presence of sin (future tense of salvation = glorification).
To put away (115) (athetesis from atheteo = to annul, declare invalid, not recognize, make ineffective, inoperative or nonexistent) describes the doing away of something established (in context, the removal of sin! Christ paid the penalty and thus in a sense "annuls" the effect of sin its ability to bring eternal death to the one who commits sin. See below for His "annulling" of sin's power over believers.). To set aside. To disannul. It was used of annulling a treaty, a promise, a law, a regulation. It was also used of removing a man’s name from a document. To make as of no value = putting away and "annulling" the former commandment [Gal 3:15] It means to refuse to recognize the validity of something and so to reject it or regard it as invalid (an annulment). It can describe the process of causing something not to continue. It can mean to act towards anything as though it were annulled. Atheteo was used commonly in the Greek papyri in a legal sense of making void.
In He 7:18-note (the only other NT use, once in Lxx = 1Sa 24:12) athetesis refers to the fact that at the Cross, the whole paraphernalia of the sacrificial system, the whole ceremonial system, was canceled, annulled, done away with entirely. God assured its end in 70AD, when He allowed the Temple to be destroyed.
For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (note Hebrews 7:18)
This is a great word of encouragement for saints surrounded by and frequently defiled by sin because it states clearly that sin has been "annulled", deprived of its force and power. This annulment is valid only as believers "walk in the light" allowing the blood of Jesus to continually cleanse us from all the defiling effects of sin. (1Jn 1:7-note) This is cause for great rejoicing. Don't go back under the old system of dead works in trying to please God or cleanse yourself by praying more prayers, giving more money, serving on more committees, etc. Instead, put yourself continually under the cleansing blood of Christ.
Brown writes that "In other words, by Christ’s death it is not only that the devil is deposed and the power of death overcome, but also that sin is vanquished. Jesus came to rob sin of its tyranny and its suffocating stranglehold on man. Obviously, sin is still at large in the world, just as death and the devil are still active, but all three have been robbed of their former hold on man. In Christ we are free from their enslaving power (Ed: Compare Ro 6:16, 17-note, Ro 6:18-note). (Christ Above All. The Bible Speaks Today. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., U.S.A.: Inter-Varsity Press)
Sin (266) (hamartia) originally conveyed the idea of missing the mark as when hunting with a bow and arrow and then came to mean missing or falling short of any goal, standard, or purpose. In Scripture sin often describes our thoughts, words and deeds that miss the ultimate purpose God has for each individual, these thoughts, words and deeds falling short of God’s perfect standard of holiness. In this verse Sin speaks of the principle or propensity inherited from Adam which causes us to commit sins (plural).
W. H. Auden, a well- known twentieth century poet, has said "All sin tends to be addictive and the terminal point of addiction is what is called damnation (Ed: cp He 9:27).
Vincent calls us to "Note the singular number, sin. The sacrifice of Christ dealt with Sin as a principle: the Levitical sacrifices with individual transgressions (Ed: But still did not remove them completely!). (Ibid)
Spurgeon - Sin.” It is a very little word, but it contains an awful abyss of meaning. “Sin” is transgression against God, rebellion against the King of kings, violation of the law of right, commission of all manner of wrong. Sin is in every one of us. We have all committed it; we have all been defiled with it. Christ came to put away sin. You see, the evil is put in one word, as if wrongdoing was made into one lump, all heaped together, and called, not “sins,” but “sin.” Can you catch the idea? All the sinfulness, all the omissions, all the commissions, and all the tendencies to rebel that ever were in the world are all piled together, hill upon hill, mountain upon mountain, and then called by this one name, “sin.” Christ was revealed to put away sin. He did not come into the world to palliate it merely, or to cover it up, but He came to put it away. Observe, He not only came to put away some of the attributes of sin, such as the filth of it, the guilt of it, the penalty of it, the degradation of it; He came to put away sin itself. For sin, you see, is the fountain of all the mischief. He did not come to empty out the streams, but to clear away the fatal source of the pollution. He appeared to put away sin itself, sin in its essence and being.
Sacrifice (2378) (thusia from thuo = to sacrifice or kill a sacrificial victim) (see below for all 15 uses of thusia in Hebrews) means that which is offered as a sacrifice. Webster's defines it as act of offering to a deity something precious! Here thusia is used metaphorically to describe their volitional offering of their words.
Thusia - 28x in 28v - Matt 9:13; 12:7; Mark 12:33; Luke 2:24; 13:1; Acts 7:41, 42; Rom 12:1; 1 Cor 10:18; Eph 5:2; Phil 2:17; 4:18; Heb 5:1; 7:27; 8:3; 9:9, 23, 26; 10:1, 5, 8, 11, 12, 26; 11:4; 13:15, 16; 1Pet 2:5
William MacDonald eloquently summarizes the truth in this passage explaining that…
Under the New Covenant, there is:
1. Positive finality—He has appeared once for all. The work never needs to be repeated.
2. A propitious time—He appeared at the end of the ages, that is, after the Old Covenant had conclusively demonstrated man’s failure and powerlessness.
3. A perfect work—He appeared, to put away sin. The emphasis is on the words put away. It was no longer a matter of annual atonement. Now it was eternal forgiveness.
4. A personal sacrifice—He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. In His own body He bore the punishment which our sins deserved. (Believer's Bible Commentary)
Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood;
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!
—Philip P. Bliss
F B Meyer in Way into the Holiest writes…
THERE is a word here which recurs, like a note on an organ beneath the tumult of majestic sound. Five times, at least, it rolls forth its thunder, pealing through all ages, echoing through all worlds, announcing the finality of an accomplished redemption to the whole universe of God "ONCE!"
And there is another phrase which we must couple with it, spoken by the parched lips of the dying Saviour, yet with a loud voice, as though it were the cry of a conqueror:
"When Jesus, therefore, had received the vinegar, he said, 'It is finished'; and he bowed his head and gave up the ghost."
It is very seldom that man can look back on a finished life-work. The chisel drops from the paralyzed hand ere the statue is complete; the chilling fingers refuse to guide the pen along another line, though the book is so nearly done; the statesman must leave his plans and far-reaching schemes to be completed by another, perhaps his rival. But as from his cross Jesus Christ our Lord looked upon the work of redemption which he had undertaken, and in connection with which he had suffered even to the hiding of his Father's face, he could not discover one stitch, or stone, or particle deficient. For untold myriads for thee and me and all there was done that which never needed to be done again, but stood as an accomplished fact forevermore.
THE "ONCE" OF A COMPLETED WORK
In these words there is a sigh of relief. A thought had for a moment flashed across the sunlit page of Scripture, which had suggested an infinite horror. In pursuing the parallels between the incidents of the great day of atonement and the great day when Jesus died, we had been suddenly reminded of the fact that the solemn spectacle was witnessed once a year " The high-priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others" (Hebrews 9:25). Every year the same rites performed, the same blood shed, the same propitiation made. Suppose that, after the same analogy, Jesus had suffered every year! Every year the agony of the shadowed garden! Every year the bitter anguish of the cross! Every year the burial in the garden tomb! Then earth would have been overcast with midnight, and life would have been agony! Who could bear to see him suffer often!
But there was no necessity for him to suffer more than once; because repetition means imperfection, of which, in his work, there is no sign or trace. There petition of the sacrifices of the Jewish law meant that they could not take away sin, or make the comers thereunto perfect. Again and again the crowd of pious Jews gathered, driven to seek deliverance from the conscience of sins, which brooded deeply and darkly over their souls. Perhaps they would receive momentary respite as they saw the elaborate ceremonial, and felt that they were included in the high-priest's confession and benediction. And so they wended their way homeward; but ere long a weary sense of dissatisfaction would again betake them: they would reflect on the inadequacy of the atonement which stood only in the offering of the life of slain beasts. Sins were remembered, but not put away; it was impossible that the blood of bulls and goats could do that (x. 4). And so, doubtless, in the more thoughtful, hearts must have failed, and consciences moaned out their weary plaint unsatisfied. Therefore the sacrifices had to be presented continually.
On the other hand, Christ's work needs no repetition. It is final because it is perfect. Its perfection is attested, because it has never been repeated. "In that he died, he died unto sin once." Our Saviour set his hand to save us: he did not mean to faith he came into our world with this distinct purpose; he died to do it; and, having done it, he went home to God. But if from the vantage-ground of the throne, reviewing his work, he had discerned any deficiency or flaw, he would have come back to make it good; and, inasmuch as he has not done so, we may be sure that the death of the cross is perfectly satisfactory. "Now once, in the end of the ages, hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." Oh, ponder these wondrous words! Once. He liveth forevermore; and shall never again pass for a moment under the dark shadow of death.
He hath appeared (or been manifested).
What then? He must have existed previously. The incarnation was but the embodiment in visible form of One who existed before all worlds; and the death of the cross was the unfolding in a single act of eternal facts in the nature of God. As the great sun-disk may be mirrored in a tiny mountain tarn, so in the one day of crucifixion, there were set forth to men, angels, and devils, love, sacrifice, and redeeming mercy, which are part of the very essence of God. Marvelous, indeed, the rending of the veil, by which such marvels are revealed.
In the end of the world (or of the ages).
God is called the King of Ages. Time is probably as much a creation as space or distance or matter. It is an accommodation to finite thought; a parenthesis in eternity; a rainbow flung across the mighty age of deity. We break time into hours; God breaks it into ages. There are ages behind us, and ages before. We stand on a narrow neck of land between two seas. The first age of which we know anything is that of creation. The second, of Paradise. The third, of the world before the flood. The fourth, of the Patriarchs. The fifth, of Moses, ending with the fall of Jerusalem, and the death of the Messiah. The sixth, of the Gentiles, in which we live. And before us, we can dimly descry the forms of the Age of Millennium; the Age of Regeneration and Restitution; the Age of Judgment; and the Age in which the kingdom shall be delivered to the Father. There is thus a complete analogy between the creation of the material world, and the creation of the new heavens and earth.
Geologists love to enumerate the strata of the earth's formation through which the processes of world -building were carried; and we shall probably discover some day that God has been building up the new creation through successive ages of history and development. Christ's death is here said to have happened at the end of the ages; and we should at once see the force of this, even though there may remain several great ages to be fulfilled, ere time run out its course, if only we knew how many ages have preceded. Compared to the number that have been, this is the end, the climax, the ridge of the weary climb; what lies beyond are the miles of level surface, to the sudden dip down of the cliffs in face of the ocean of eternity.
He hath put away sin.
Oh, marvelous word! It might be rendered to annihilate, to make as if it had never been. The wreath of cloud may disappear, but the separated drops still float through space. The bubble may break on the foam-tipped wave, but the film of water has gone to add its attenuated addition to the ocean depth. But Jesus has put sin away as when a debt is paid, an obligation is canceled, or a sin-laden victim was slain, burned, and buried in the old days of Moses. All sin, the sin of the world, the accumulated sin of mankind was made to meet in Jesus. He was made sin. He stood before the universe as though he had drawn upon himself all the human sin which has ever rent the air or befouled the earth, or put the stars of night to the blush; and, bearing the shame, the horror, the penalty during those dread hours which rung from him the cry of desolate forsakenness, he put it away, and wiped it out forever; and, in doing this, he has put away the penal results of Adam's fall.
The inherited tendencies to evil remain in all the race; but the spiritual penalty which Adam incurred for himself and all of us, as our representative and head, has been canceled by the sufferings and death of our glorious representative and head, the Second Adam, the Lord from heaven. Men will still have to suffer the penalty of sins which they voluntarily commit, and for which they do not seek forgiveness and cleansing through the blood; but men will not have to suffer the penalty which otherwise must have accrued to them, as members of a fallen race-fallen with their first parents and father, because Jesus put away that when he died. And thus it is that the multitudes of sweet babes, idiots, and others who belong to Adam's race, but have had no opportunity of personal transgression, are able to enter without let or hindrance into the land where there entereth nothing which defileth.
By the sacrifice of Himself.
Not by His example, fair and lovely though it was. Not by His teaching, though the food of the world. Not by His works, the source and fountain-head of modern philanthropy. But by His death, and by His death as a sacrifice.
If you want to understand a writer, you must know the sense in which he uses his characteristic words, and you must carefully study the definitions which he gives of them. And if you would understand the meaning of Christ's death, you must go back to the definitions, given in minute detail in Leviticus, of the meaning of sacrifice, atonement, and propitiation, by which that death is afterward described; and only so much you dare to interpret. Whatever sacrifice meant in Leviticus, it means when applied to the death of the cross. And surely there can be no controversy that of old it stood for the substitution of the innocent for the guilty; the canceling of deserved penalty because it had been borne by another; the wiping out of sin by the shedding of blood. All this it must mean when applied to the death of Christ, with this difference, that of old the suffering was borne and death endured involuntarily; but in the case of our blessed Redeemer, God in Him took home to Himself, voluntarily and freely, the accumulated results of a world's sin, and suffered them, and made them as if they had never been. "He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself."
What was the death of Christ?
"A martyrdom," cries modern thought. "A mischance in an unenlightened age," replies the reviewer.
"An outcome of all such efforts to battle with evil," says the broad-church teacher.
"A SACRIFICE!" thunders this Book. A voluntary sacrifice! A voluntary sacrifice by which sin has been borne and put away. Here we rest, content to abide, in a world of mystery, at the foot of one mystery more, which, despite all its mystery, answers the cry of a convicted conscience, and sheds the peace of heaven through our hearts. (Praise the Lord. Amen!)
THE "ONCE" OF MORTALITY
With a few exceptions mentioned on the page of Scripture, where miracles of raising are recounted, men die but once. For those there was one cradle, two coffins; one birth, two burials. But for most it is mercifully arranged that the agony and pain of dissolution should be experienced only once. And this, which is the ordinary lot of humanity, also befell Jesus Christ. He could not die often, because he was literally man, and it would have been inconsistent to violate in his case the universal law. He must become man, because only through the portal of birth could he reach the bourne of death; but, having been born, and assumed our nature, he must obey the laws of that nature, and die but once.
THE "ONCE" OF DEITY
There must have been something more than mortal in him, who in his one death could bear away the sins of many. Good and great men have died, who would have done anything to cancel or atone for the sins of their nation, their family, and their beloved; but in vain. How marvelous then must be his worth, whose sufferings and death will counterveil for a world's sin!
And we can see the imperious necessity that our Saviour should be God manifest in the flesh; and that he who became obedient to the death of the cross should be also he who was in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be God's equal. If it be true that his death "once" has put away sin, then, bring hither your songs of worship, your wreaths of empire, your ascriptions of lowliest adoration; for he must be God. No being of inferior make could do for man what, in that brief but dreadful darkness, he has done once for all, and forever.
THE "ONCE" OF A PURGED CONSCIENCE
We are not in the position of the Jews, needing to repeat their sacrifices year by year, in sad monotony; our sacrifice has been offered once for all. Therefore, we have not, like them, the perpetual conscience of sins. Our hearts are, once and forever, sprinkled from an evil conscience (Hebrews 10:22).
There is no necessity to ask repeatedly for forgiveness for the sins that have been once confessed and forgiven. God does not accuse us of them; we need not accuse ourselves. God does not remember them; we may well forget them, save as incentives to gratitude and humility. There is daily need for fresh confession of recent sin; but when once the soul realizes the completeness of Christ's work on its behalf, it cries with great joy: "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us."
THE "ONCE" OF A FULFILLED PURPOSE
Space forbids our lingering longer. In our next chapter we may show how completely the purpose of God has been realized in Jesus, and, therefore, that there is no necessity for a repetition of his sacrificial work. The will or purpose of God for man's redemption asks for nothing more than that which is given it in the life and death of our Saviour. Nothing more is required for the glory of God, for the accomplishment of the divine counsels, or for the perfect deliverance and sanctification of those who believe.
"Once for all, sinner, receive it!
Once for all, hrother, believe it!
Cling to the cross, the burden will fall;
Christ has redeemed us, once for all""