The Arguments Proper, 2:10-12:29

2. Christ's high priestly sacrifice enables us to approach God, 7:1-10:25

ix] The perfect sacrifice


Our author now makes a similar point to that of 9:11-14, except that here the emphasis is not on the worth of Christ's sacrifice, but on the uniqueness of his priestly offering - Christ needed to offer the sacrifice once only.


i] Context: See 7:1-10.


ii] Background: A general introduction; See 1:1-4.


iii] Structure: This passage, Christ's perfect sacrifice, presents as follows:

A heavenly purification needs a better priestly sacrifice, v23:

The sanctuary that Christ enters is the heavenly reality, v24;

Christ "entered heaven itself"

Christ's sacrifice is a once-only perfect sacrifice, v25-26;

Christ "appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself"

Christ's sacrifice brings salvation, v27-28.

"to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him."


iv] Interpretation:

In his second series of arguments, 7:1-10:25, "Jesus' suffering is the sacrifice that enables others to approach God", Koester, our author advances his argument with particular reference to Jeremiah 31:31-34 - the promise of a better covenant that rests on better promises, 8:7-13. In this ninth sub point, the subject matter is similar to 9:11-14, except that here the emphasis is not on the worth of Christ's sacrifice, but on the definitive nature of his priestly service, as compared with what is but a copy of heavenly things (ie. the sacrificial system of the Aaronic priesthood). In v23 our author makes the point that the sacrificial system operative in old Israel was a necessary model for the time, but it was nothing more than an image of a heavenly reality that required a far more effective sacrifice, namely, the one performed by Christ. A better sacrifice was required for "the heavenly things." The following points are made of the "better sacrifices": First, The sanctuary that Christ enters is the true one found in heaven and exists in God's presence, v24; Second, Christ's sacrifice is superior in that it is a once-only sacrifice, v25-26; Third, Christ's sacrifice brings salvation rather than judgment, v27-28.


What are the ta epourania, "the heavenly things", which require cleansing? The tabernacle ("man-made sanctuary", v24, cf.8:5), God's earthly dwelling place, is an earthly copy of the "heavenly things" - this spiritual reality. God's spiritual dwelling place is best understood as the body of Christ, the people of God. This people assembles both here on earth as the church, and in heaven as the great crowd beyond numbering, gathered with Christ before the throne of God. The people of God is the dwelling place of God, and we are the ones who must be cleansed. Our cleansing for eternal habitation requires, not an outward washing away of cultic impurity, but an inward spiritual cleansing of the soul. Such a cleansing will require a superior sacrifice to achieve our purification. As the tabernacle needed to be cleansed so that God could manifest himself and dwell among his people, so too must the people of God today (the spiritual tabernacle) be cleansed in order to become "a habitation of God in the Spirit", Eph.2:22. So, for the body of Christ to know and serve the living God, 1Pet,2:5, it must be cleansed by the perfect sacrifice of Christ, 1Pet.1:2, 19, 22. Our writer here is not speaking of some ongoing cleansing for our day to day sins; this is a once and for all cleansing of all those who come to Christ.

It is possible that heaven is in mind, although what needs cleansing in heaven? Morris suggests the "spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms, Eph.6:12, cf., Col.1:20. Interesting!


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 9:23

The definitive nature of Christ's priestly service, v23-28. A heavenly purification needs a better priestly sacrifice, v23: Ritual purification, via a blood sacrifice, was performed to cleanse the material tabernacle and its accessories from defilement, and so enable the high priest to enter into the sanctuary and represent the people before the Lord of the universe. Yet, as this sanctuary is only a copy of the spiritual reality, then obviously a far better sacrifice is necessary to effect purification in the spiritual realm.

anagkh (h) "it was necessary" - necessary, a binding obligation. Normally dei would be used to express "it is necessary", but this noun is used for emphasis and is emphatic by position.

oun "then" - therefore. Probably not inferential here, but rather transitional. Our author has just spoken about the Aaronic sacrificial system and of the shedding of blood for forgiveness. Going on, he now makes the point that "it was necessary, (men) on the one hand, for these copies of the heavenly things to be cleansed, (de) but on the other hand, the heavenly things need greater sacrifices than these."

men ...... de ".... but .." - Comparative construction, see above. The construction as a whole serves as the subject of "is necessay."

twn gen. "[the copies] of the [heavenly] things" - [the examples, copies, patterns, sketches] of the things [in the heavens]. The genitive article with its limiting prepositional phrase "in the heavens", is adjectival, attributive, limiting "sketches", "heavenly sketches", which in the comparative construction contrasts the "heavenly originals."

kaqarizesqai (kaqarizw) pres. pas. inf. "to be purified" - The infinitive forms an infinitival substantive construction that serves as the subject of the verbal noun "necessary"; "the paterns of the things in heavens to be purified with these things is necessary."

toutoiV dat. pro. "with these sacrifices" - with these things. The dative is obviously instrumental. The "these things" refers back to the sacrificial elements listed in v19 and here referred to by the NIV. "These things / the sacrifices" served to purify "the sketches of the heavenly things", NRSV, ie. the tabernacle, the law, the holy vessels, the people, "almost everything".


i] The sanctuary that Christ enters is the heavenly reality, v24. The earthly sanctuary (tabernacle) is but a model of the spiritual sanctuary. Christ didn't enter the earthly model, but rather, he entered the spiritual reality. Jesus entered the very throne-room of the living God to speak on our behalf. He did this having first made a perfect sacrifice cleansing us from the pollution and defilement of sin. He could not have stood in the heavenly sanctuary on our behalf if he had not first made a sacrifice which was perfect.

gar "for" - Cause/reason seems somewhat astray here. Probably in the sense of introducing a qualification; "after all, the sanctuary into which Christ made his entry .....", Cassirer.

aJgia adj. "sanctuary" - holies. Here the inner sanctuary of the tabernacle is intended, the holy of holies. The imagery is somewhat confusing. Our writer is using the imagery of the tent of meeting, or tabernacle, which was constructed by the people of Israel at Mt. Sinai. It was where God was pleased to dwell with his people. It was believed that God actually sat upon the Ark in the Holy of Holies (a small closed-off section in the tent). Once a year, on the day of Atonement, the high priest was able to enter the Holy of Holies, having first offered sacrifices to cleanse all the fabric of the tabernacle, himself and the people. The imagery in this passage is of the high priest cleansing the tabernacle and then entering the Holy of Holies to seek the forgiveness of the people on the basis of the Day of Atonement offering. There are two elements in the imagery: i] We are the "sanctuary", which Christ, our high priest, cleanses. ii] The "sanctuary" is in "heaven itself", before the throne of God. Christ, as the high priest, enters the Holy of Holies (God's throne room), having offered the perfect and complete sacrifice of himself.

twn alhqinwn adj. "[a copy] of the true one" - [copies] of the true, genuine. The adjective serves as a substantive, while the genitive is also adjectival, partitive.

all (alla) "-" - but. Adversative.

emfanisqhnai (emfanizw) aor. pas. inf. + dat. "appear" - to appear before. The infinitive is verbal, forming a purpose clause, "in order to appear." The aorist, being perfective, expresses the idea that "Christ appearance is once for all and has lasting significance", Kistemaker. Of an appearance before God, in the sense of accessing his presence. Meanings such as "make clear" or "indicate" are not appropriate, although such meanings could indicate why Jesus comes into God's presence "for us". The writer does not explain here why Christ appears for us, although he makes it clear that it is not to perform further sacrifices.

uJper + gen. "for [us]" - on behalf of us. Expressing advantage / benification; "for our sake."

tw/ proswpw/ (on) dat. "in [God's] presence" - the face [of God]. Dative of direct object / complement after the infinitive "to appear before."


ii] Christ's sacrifice is a once-only perfect sacrifice, v25-26. The offering of the atonement sacrifice by the high priest, for the purification of the people of Israel, is but a model of a superior spiritual sacrifice for purification. Christ's sacrifice is the real one, not a token one which has to be offered year after year. Christ's sacrifice was a once-only offering of himself. If the eternal sacrifice for purification were to be repeatedly offered, it would be necessary for Christ to continually die. Yet, Christ's offering was a once-and-for-all offering of himself, complete and eternal in its effects. He appeared once at the end of the age to cancel and eliminate the effects of sin by the sacrifice of himself (the shedding of his own blood, unlike Aaron who shed the blood of animals) - a perfect sacrifice indeed.

oud "nor did he enter heaven" - nor did he enter. Ref. v24, added to make sense of the sentence. "The Jewish High Priest goes into the Most Holy Place every year with the blood of an animal. But Christ did not go in to offer himself many times", TEV.

iJna + subj. "to [offer]" - that [he may offer]. Forming a purpose clause, "in order to offer ....".

pollakiV adv. "again and again" - often.

w{sper "the way" - as, like, just as. Comparative.

kat eniauton "every year" - year by year. Taking the same sense as kaq hJmeran with the preposition taking a distributive sense.

en "with [blood]" - in/on [blood to another (not his own = of an animal)]. Expressing association, "with" as of a thing possessed.


epei "then / otherwise" - else. Forming a condensed elliptical protasis introducing the apodosis of a causal conditional clause, the protasis being the substance of the argument in v25. The conditional clause is possibly 2nd class, with an assumed, which is why edei "it was necessary" is imperf. ind. cf. Zerwick, but a real condition is more likely; "he did not enter heaven ........ since then it would have been necessary for him to suffer ......"

paqein (pascw) aor. inf. "to suffer" - The infinitive functions as the subject of edei "it was necessary", "since then, to suffer would be necessary for him." Variant "to die".

apo + "since" - from. Expressing separation.

kosmou (oV) gen. "[the creation] of the world" - [creation] of world. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, but possibly objective, where the genitive receives the action of the verbal noun "creation".

de "but" - and, but [now]. Here adversative, as NIV.

peqanerwtai (fanerow) perf. pas. "he has appeared" - The perfect passive serves to express the thought that Christ was "previously hidden from view in heaven but after his incarnation [was] made visible on earth as a man among men", Thayer.

a{pax adv. "once for all" - Key point of these verses.

epi + dat. "at [the end / the culmination]" - at [end]. Temporal use of the preposition.

twn aiwnwn (wn wnoV) gen. "of the ages" - The genitive is adjectival, partitive. The phrase is similar to terms such as the "consummation of the age", "end of the times", "last days". We are presently in the end time. Christ has acted to deal with our state of rebellion and now stands with God the Father bringing all things into subjection to himself. The times have come to an end; the kingdom age has begun.

eiV + acc. "[to do away]" - to, toward [removal]. Expressing purpose.

thV aJmartiaV (a) gen. "with sin" - of the sins. Genitive after aqethsiV, "removal, annulment of sin"; "in order to wipe out sin", Barclay.

dia + gen. "by [the sacrifice]" - through, by means of. Instrumental, agency; "through offering himself up in sacrifice", Cassirer.

aujtou gen. pro. "of himself" - Often translated as if a reflective, auJtou, "himself", but better "his sacrifice", possessive personal pronoun.


iii] Christ's sacrifice brings salvation, v27-28. The human condition is such that we all die once and then comes the judgment. Christ died once, but his death was a sacrifice for sin and so it brought with it salvation for humanity, rather than judgment. We all die and face judgement, yet Christ died and faced our judgement and therefore gained us life. He bore the sins (judgement) of the many, Isa.53. So, Christ's perfect high-priestly sacrifice of his own life has purified the people of God. Like the times of old when the people of God waited expectantly for the high priest to come out from the sanctuary and so confirm their right-standing in the sight of God, so too we wait expectantly for Jesus to reappear and so confirm to his people the salvation he has gained for us. In that day he will come, not to deal again with sin, but to bring the long-awaited blessings of eternal salvation.

kai "-" - and. Here epexegetic.

kaq o{son "just as" - Usually with a causal sense, "in so much as", but here comparative, as NIV.

toiV anqrwpoiV (oV) dat. "man" - [it is destined] for man. Dative of interest.

apokeitai (apokeimai) pres. "is destined" - it is stored away. "It is ordained."

apoqanein (apoqnhskw) aor. inf. "to die" - The infinitive can function as the subject of "is destined", "to die once is destined", but it can also be treated as epexegetic explaining what is destined; "it is destined that a person die once and then ...."

meta + acc. "after that [to face judgment]" - after [and/but this judgment]. Temporal. What is this judgment that follows death? The judgment following the resurrection of the dead is most likely intended, although Attridge suggests the writer is alluding to the Greek notion of the soul's judgment immediately following death. The judgment is inevitable, either acquittal or condemnation.


ouJtwV adv. "so" - thus, so. Drawing a logical conclusion.

oJ CristoV (oV) "Christ" - the Christ, messiah. The article emphasizes the designation of Jesus, "the Messiah".

prosenecqeiV (prosferw) aor. pas. part. "was sacrificed" - having been offered up. The participle is possibly adjectival, "thus Christ, who was offered up ....", but also possibly adverbial, temporal, "so Christ, after being once sacrificed", Moffatt. The passive may be treated as a theological passive, ie. God is the agent, but it can also be treated reflectively, "Christ offered himself up."

eiV to ... anenegkein (anaferw) aor. inf. "to take away" - to bear, carry. This construction serves to form a purpose clause, "in order to bear the sins of many."

ofqhsetai (oJraw) fut. pas. "he will appear" - he shall be seen. Note passive.

ek deuterou "a second time" - from a second time. A common construction expressing "for (idiomatic) a second time."

cwriV + gen. "not [to bear sin]" - without, apart from [sin]. Not referring to Christ's sinlessness, but rather that his return will not have an atoning purpose; "he will appear a second time, this time not to deal with sin", Barclay.

eiV "but to bring [salvation]" - to [salvation]. Here expressing purpose; "in order to bring salvation."

toiV ... apekdecomenoiV (apekdecomai) pres. part. "to those who are waiting" - to the ones awaiting. The participle functions as a substantive, while the dative is instrumental, agency; "will be seen ............ by those who are expecting him to bring salvation."


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