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

xi] Christ's single offering


"The perfection of Christ's obedience in death makes further sacrifices for sins unnecessary: it is final for all time", Davies.


i] Context: See 7:1-10.


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


iii] Structure: This passage, The single offering of Christ our high priest, presents as follows:

Christ is enthroned, having completed his sacrifice, v11-14:

The sacrificial offerings of the Aaronic priesthood were ineffective, v11;

Christ's sacrifice effectively leads to his enthronement, v12-13;

Christ's sacrifice is effective; it purifies, v14;

Forgiven sin is forgiven, v15-18:

Jeremiah 31:33-34, v15-17;

The old sacrificial system is no longer needed, v18.


The passage 10:1-18 presents with a ABBA chiastic structure:,

A1. The repeated sacrifices of the Aaronic priesthood are a reminder of sin, v1-4;

B1. The repeated sacrifices of the Aaronic priesthood have been replaced by Christ's once-only sacrifice which was performed in obedience to the Father's will, v5-10;

B2. The Aaronic priesthood has been replaced by Christ the high priest who is seated at the right hand of God, 11-14;

A2. Given Christ's singular and perfect sacrifice, God no longer remembers sin, v15-18.


iv] Interpretation:

Our writer's second series of arguments, which began at 7:1, sought to establish that Christ's once and for all, complete and effective sacrifice as our great high priest, assures our right of approach to God and thus guarantees our perseverance in the faith. The passage before us serves as a climactic conclusion: Christ, enthroned in power and glory, guarantees our sonship through his atoning sacrifice. The next passage, 10:19-25, serves as a summary of the argument so far, and leads to two exhortations, 10:26-39.


The sacrifice of Christ, our royal high priest, makes "perfect those who are being made holy", v14. Perfection is that state whereby a person is regarded by God as being without sin and therefore a faithful child in a relationship with him. Christ's sacrifice achieves this end, an end which the law and its sacrificial system was unable to achieve. This perfection is obviously one of status, rather than state, although for those in Christ, what God declares so is so. Christ's cleansing of sin is effective in washing away its stain in God's sight, rather than creating a state of sinless perfection. Yet, in eternal terms, a believer in Christ is indeed perfect because Christ is perfect.

Those made perfect in Christ are "being made holy", or better, "are sanctified." In 10:10 a perfect tense is used, but here a present tense is used. Rather than expressing continuous action, the present tense may be a timeless present, so Bruce. "He made the sanctified perfect", Moffatt. This phrase details one of the practical results of Christ's perfect sacrifice; "He has achieved the eternal perfection of all who are sanctified", NJB.

Christ's sacrifice achieves three immediate results: First, we are freed from guilt. Christ takes our judgement upon himself and thus, we are no longer guilty in the sight of God; Second, we have access into the presence of God. We now stand before him accounted righteous in his sight and therefore in an enduring relationship with him; Third, we are now treated as an obedient son, a holy son, sanctified in his sight. Through the outpouring of his Spirit we are led to be the person we are in Christ, a holy person (although always imperfectly while in our body of sin).


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

Text - 10:11

Christ's single offering, v11-18: i] Christ, having completed his sacrifice, now sits reigning at the right hand of God, "having made the sanctified perfect", v11-14. a). The levitical priests stand busying themselves performing sacrifices over and over again, sacrifices that are unable to achieve their intended end, v11. Our author again makes the point that the sacrificial offerings of the Aaronic Priesthood were not completely effective. Those priests had to repeatedly offer sacrifices for themselves and the people, and that repetition showed that the effectiveness of the sacrifices was limited.

kai "-" - and. Here epexegetic, introducing a summary of the argument so far.

men ....... de "-" - Establishing a comparative construction covering v11 and 12; "on the one hand ...... but on the other ...."

kaq hJmeran "day after day" - daily. Again, our writer uses the idea of "day by day" with regard to the Aaronic sacrifices. In 10:1 he spoke of them as "year by year", obviously referring to the necessity of repeating the Day of Atonement sacrifice. Here, as in 7:27, he is probably thinking of the necessary daily repetition of sacrifices for the inadvertent sins of the priesthood in general, including the high priest and the people. The point he is making is that repetition implies ineffectiveness.

paV "every" - all, every. It is now "every priest", not just the high priest, thus the writer sets out to underline the ineffectiveness of the Levitical priesthood as a whole. A variant "high priest" does exist. "Every Jewish priest", TEV.

eJsthken (iJsthmi) perf. "stands" - has stood. The perfect is dramatic and so translated as a present tense. The posture of the priest probably serves to further the image of a constant working at their religious duties, as compared to Christ's once only work and his present posture of sitting, having completed his work.

leitourgwn (leitourgew) pres. part. "performs his religious duties" - serving, ministering. As with prosferwn, "offering", this participle is adverbial, possibly modal, expressing the manner of the priest's priestly activity; "he takes his stand daily, serving ...... offering ...." Note the used of the durative present with both participles. The word primarily means "service", and definitely not "worship", although when used of the cult, as here, it would be reasonable to say, "carrying out the ritual of worship", Barclay.

pollakiV adv. "again and again" - often, frequently, time after time. "They keep on offering sacrifices that can never take away sin", CEV.

ai{tineV pro. "which" - Qualitative relative, "such are unable ....", but possibly giving a concessive sense, "although they can never take sins away."

oudepote "[can] never" - Strong negation, cf. 10:1.

perielein (periairew) aor. inf. "take away" - [are able] to take away. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "are able". The aorist tense indicating a singular action, here the inability of the sacrificial system to utterly remove sin, ie. perfective, "take away altogether."


b) Christ's sacrifice effectively leads to his enthronement, v12-13. Christ, on the other hand, offered one sacrifice, once-and-for-all, and having done this sat down in the sanctuary. The Aaronic priests could not sit down after completing their sacrifice, for it would have to be repeated again. Yet, Christ could sit down, for his sacrifice need never be repeated again; it was permanent in effect. The idea of kingly authority, alluded to in Psalm 110:1, is further expanded in v13. Here our author refers to the kingly role of Christ who is the priestly king after the order of Melchizedek. He does not develop the idea of Melchizedek's kingship, as it is outside his thesis, rather he outlines the priestly role of Christ the royal king. Paul develops this idea further in 1Cor.15:24-28.

de "but" - Adversative. "However", TEV.

prosenegkaV (prosferw) aor. part. "when ..... had offered" - having offered. The participle probably forms a temporal clause, as NIV.

ouJtoV "this priest" - this one. "But Christ offered himself as a sacrifice", CEV.

mian "one [sacrifice]" - one. Identifying the one unique sacrifice, namely that of Christ himself. "After offering for sins a single sacrifice of perpetual efficacy", Weymouth.

uJper + gen. "for [sins]" - on behalf of [sins]. Expressing representation / benefaction; "our sins", Berkeley.

eiV to dihnekeV "for all time" - to the continuation, forever, in perpetuity. Adverbial phrase, cf. 7:3, 10:1. Either referring back to Christ's offering, and thus the ongoing effects of that offering, or referring forward to the reign of Christ, and thus it's eternal nature, v13ff. Most English translations follow the first option, so NIV, but the second option is possible, "He, on the other hand, has offered one single sacrifice for sins, and then taken his seat for ever, at the right hand of God", NJB.

en dexia/ "at the right hand" - in/at right. The writer's use of the image of Christ sitting in the sanctuary comes from Psalm 110. In this Psalm we see Melchizedek, the priestly king, being invited to sit at the right hand of God. Christ is of the order of Melchizedek and brings to fulfillment this prophetic invitation. Sitting at the right hand of God, of course, implies more than just completion. It implies the bestowal of great dignity and authority; Christ sits in the highest glory. Therefore, we may be sure of his ability to deal with our needs.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "of God" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive; "God's right hand."


to loipon "since that time" - from this time forward, henceforth. A temporal adverbial phrase, often without the article.

ekdecomenoV (ekdecomai) "he waits" - waiting, waiting for. The participle is adverbial, probably modal, expressing the manner of his sitting, v12, "sat down .... waiting", or attendant circumstance, "sat down .... and waited ...". The prefix ek "from", gives a perfective sense to the verb, ie. the action of waiting begins at the point of Christ's sacrifice and is completed in the final defeat of his enemies. Christ need only "wait" since the perfect sacrifice, of itself, progresses the defeat of the enemy under God.

e{wV + subj. "-" - This construction forms an indefinite temporal clause; "until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet", ESV.

teqwsin (tiqhmi) aor. pas. subj. "to be made" - [the enemies of him] are put, placed. The unstated agent of the action is obviously God; "Until his enemies are put under his power", CEV.

twn podwn (ouV odoV) gen. "[his footstool]" - [a footstool] of the feet [of him]. The genitive is adjectival, limiting "footstool", a footstool upon which the feet of Christ rest. The image is of Christ's enemies lying powerless at/under his feet.


c) Christ's sacrifice purifies, v14. Our author goes on to detail the effective results of Christ's once-and-for-all sacrifice. The sacrifice of Christ has purified his people from the moral defilement of sin and has assured them of an enduring right-relationship with God.

gar "for" - Expressing cause/reason, introducing a causal clause explaining how it is that Christ's enemies are subdued, namely, "because by means of a single offering ..."

mia/ prosfora/ "by one sacrifice" - Instrumental dative; "by means of." Again, the decisive nature of Christ's sacrifice is underlined; "by virtue of that one offering", Phillips.

teteleiwken (teleiow) perf. "he has made perfect" - he has perfected. The perfect tense expresses a past completed action with ongoing effects.

to dihnekeV "forever" - with perpetual effect. "Valid for ever", Barclay.

touV aJgiazomenouV pres. pas. part. "those who are being made holy" - the ones being sanctified. The participle functions as a substantive. The passive implies divine agency. Rather than "being sanctified", the present tense is probably timeless, so Bruce; "He has achieved the eternal perfection of all who are sanctified", NJB.


ii] Our author now "summarizes the scriptural teachings of Jeremiah 31:33-34, quoted in chapter 8, and draws the conclusion that forgiven sin is forgiven", Kistemaker, thus removing the need for Israel's sacrificial system, v15-18. a) Jeremiah 31:33-34 is now quoted in support of the idea that Christ's sacrifice is final and effective. The first quotation supports the contention that the covenantal promise (that Israel will be made an acceptable people through their obedience) has been fulfilled in the obedience of Christ. Obedience to God's law, together with a desire to carry it out, is ours through our identification with Christ. The second quotation outlines the consequence of such obedience, namely that the guilt of God's people has been completely blotted out.

marturei (marturew) pres. "testifies" - bears witness. Here, the Holy Spirit is identified as the author of scripture speaking through Jeremiah.

hJmin dat. pro. "to us" - for us. Dative of interest, advantage; "We have the declaration of the Holy Spirit that is true", Barclay.

meta "first" - after. "For after [saying]", Moffatt.

to eirhkenai (eipon) perf. inf. "he says" - after he has said. The articular infinitive functioning as a citation formula, ie. introducing a dependent statement of saying, "he says that ....", "the Holy Spirit, bearing witness through the prophet Jeremiah, said."


hJ diaqhkh (h) "the covenant" - the agreement. Probably the "first covenant", cf. 10:1ff, but possibly the agreement to write the law upon our hearts for the forgiveness of sins. "When the time comes I will make an agreement with them", CEV.

proV + acc. "with [them]" - Expressing association; "with, in company with." Replaces "with the house of Israel" found in the original text. The writer is again editorializing the text to make his point. Here, the new covenant applies not just to Israel.

meta + acc. "after [that time]" - after [those days]. Temporal use of the preposition; "in the days to come", TEV.

didouV (didwmi) pres. part. "I will put [my laws]" - putting. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "I will write", "I will put .... and I will write. The whole clause is in apposition with "this", "the covenant I will make ... is this, namely that I will put ...." "I will set my laws upon their hearts", Moffatt.

nomouV (oV) "laws" - Although a contentious issue, it is possible that the law written on the heart is the obedience of Christ, which obedience enables "their sins and lawless acts" to be "remembered no more." Along with our vicarious participation in the faithfulness of Christ, that faithfulness, in the power of the indwelling Spirit, serves to shape obedience in the believer. "Jeremiah's prophecy, not only involved the implanting of God's laws, together with the will and power to carry them out, in the hearts of His people; it also conveyed the assurance that their past sins and iniquities would be eternally blotted out from God's record, never to be brought up in evidence against them", Bruce. Certainly for Hebrews, the blessing of v17 is achieved by means of Christ's fulfillment of the law, which fulfilment Christ writes within our being to cover sin.


kai "Then he adds" - and. Adjunctive, "also"; "and then he goes on to say", Barclay.

twn anomiwn (a) "lawless acts" - iniquities. Emphasizing what God will remember no more.

mnhsqhsomai (mimnhskomai) fut. pas. "I will remember" - The LXX uses a subj., but Hebrews opts for the future tense to underline the sense of "will never ever remember."

ou mh + fut. "no more" - An emphatic negation using the volitive future instead of the subjunctive mnhsqw; "I will never ever remember."


b) Since Christ has achieved a once-and-for-all perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins, there remains no useful function for the old Jewish cultic system, v18.

de "and" - but, and. Transitional, but more particularly epexegetic introducing an explanation of the extent of "remember no more", v17; "that is / for, where these sins are remitted ..."

o{pou "where" - Here introducing a local conditional adverbial clause, although the verb must be assumed and the expected ekei, "there" is missing; "where sins are remitted then there is no longer an offering for sin", ie. where sins are forgiven sacrifices are unnecessary.

toutwn gen. pro. "these [have been forgiven]" - [forgiveness, remission] of these things. The genitive is verbal, objective. The "things" are the "sins and lawless acts" which are forgiven, and this through Christ's perfect sacrifice. "Where sins are remitted."

ouketi adv. "there is no longer" - no longer. Emphasizing the point that Christ's sacrifice has displaced the old cultic system. "Where God grants remission of sin there can be no question of making further atonement", Phillips.

peri + gen. "for [sin]" - Possibly reference, "with reference to, concerning", but more likely instead of uJper, advantage / representation, "on behalf of, for." "There is no longer any room for a sin offering", Cassirer.


Hebrews Introduction



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