The Arguments, 2:10-12:29
2. Christ's high priestly sacrifice enables us to approach God, 7:1-10:25
vii] Christ's eternal redemptionArgument
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 the sixth step in his argument, 9:1-10, he outlines the limitations of Israel's earthly tabernacle and now, in v11-14, he speaks of the heavenly tabernacle where Christ enters with his perfect sacrifice for the cleansing of "our consciences", for the gift of "eternal redemption" and for our renewed service to "the living God."
i] Context: See 7:1-10.
ii] Background: A general introduction; See 1:1-4.
iii] Structure: This passage, Christ's eternal redemption, presents as follows:
Christ's entry into the greater and more perfect tabernacle, v11-12;
Christ "went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle";
"by his own blood";
"thus obtaining eternal redemption."
The effectiveness of Christ's sacrifice, v13-14:
ei, "if the blood of goats ....... sanctify for the purification of the flesh";
posw/ mallon, "how much more will the blood of Christ purify our conscience ......"
In 9:1-10 our author describes the earthly sanctuary, the tabernacle and its furnishings, and this along with the function of the high priest. He then makes note of its limitations - "the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper", v9. Still, it remained in service "until the time of the new order", v10. Now, in v11-14, our author describes the new order, he describes the perfection of "the greater and more perfect tabernacle" and of the "eternal redemption" made possibly through the sacrifice of Christ.
What we have in Christ is not a fallible high priest, able to do little more than ritually cleanse the sinner (ritually cleanse the outward body for fellowship with Israel's cult, but do nothing for the stains of sin within for fellowship with the living God), but a high priest who is able to obtain on our behalf a cleansing in his blood from the sins that lead to death, and thus eternal redemption.
Christ secured "eternal redemption" "through / by means of (dia + gen.) his own blood", v12. Our author continues to draw on the Day of Atonement rituals of old Israel, referring to the blood of sacrificed animals sprinkled on the Mercy-seat in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle, a rite undertaken to atone for the sins of the high priest and the people. Jesus enters the heavenly tabernacle by his own blood (not with his own blood). Yet, what function is our author attributing to the blood. The more conservative commentators take the imagery of blood as a reference to Christ's "sacrificial death", Bruce, with the sense that "Christ's death on the cross is the final sacrifice that puts away sin", Morris. So, this reference to blood is forensic in nature, a payment for sin, the offering of a substitute, an act of propitiation in the sense of making amends (rather than mollifying), an act of redemption in the sense of the payment of a price for release / freedom, and it was performed "once for all", never to be repeated. This theological perspective of the cross is counted by those who argue that blood is used here in the sense of an image of life, the life-giving that Christ offers to lost humanity, or simply reconciliation, the restoration of a life-giving relationship with God, an act that effects an at-one-ment. Others have even argued that "blood" is simply being used here as an image of death.
Greek text: The passage consists of two Gk. sentences, v11-12, and v13-14.
v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.
Text - 9:11
The perfection of the heavenly sanctuary, v11-14: i] Christ's entry into the the greater and more perfect tabernacle, v11-12. In Leviticus chapter 16 we are told of how, on the day of atonement, the high priest, after performing complicated sacrificial rites, moved through the tabernacle to arrive in the Holy of Holies before the presence of the Lord. The writer of Hebrews takes up this image and points out that Christ, as a high priest who has saved his people through his own perfect sacrifice, has similarly arrived in the presence of the "Living God", having passed through the divine canopy, a heavenly tent not made with hands. Israel's high priest offered a series of animal sacrifices before entering the tabernacle's inner sanctuary and passing through to the Holy of Holies. Jesus, on the other hand, has offered his own blood-sacrifice; he gave himself up to the cross. Unlike the sacrifices of Israel's high priest, Jesus' sacrifice achieves an eternal salvation and so he has entered the Holy of Holies without the need to move out again and repeat the sacrifice. Jesus' high priestly sacrificial work is complete and so he now dwells permanently in God's presence.
The main verb of the Gk. sentence is eishlqen, "he entered", v12; "Christ, having become ........ entered only once into the [holy of] holies." Christ's high-priestly act was a once only affair in that it perfectly, once-and-for-all, obtained eternal redemption for God's covenant people.
de "but" - but, and. Adversative; "but now the time of reformation has arrived; what use to be the good things to come, ARV, are now the good thing that have come, RSV", Bruce.
paragenomenoV (paraginomai) aor. part. "when [Christ] came" - came, appear. The participle is adverbial, temporal. When Christ arrived on the scene, the heavenly scene that is, not the earthly or historical scene, although Kistemaker disagrees arguing that the reference is to Christ's entire earthly ministry.
twn ... agaqwn adj. "of the good things" - The genitive is possibly verbal, objective / ablative, source/agent; "concerned with the implementation of the good things." A simple adjectival classification is always possible where the genitive limits the noun "high priest" by describing or defining. Christ's high priestly role certainly ushers in "good things", namely, the promised blessings of the covenant achieved for us by Christ's priestly sacrifice; "of the bliss that was to be", Moffatt.
genomenwn (ginomai) aor. part. "[the good things] that are already here" - of the [good things] having come about. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "the good things." The time frame is unclear,given the presence of a textual variant; is it now, as NIV, or not yet, "the good things which are to come", Barclay? Note NEB, "already in being", or footnote, "which were/are to be."
dia + gen. "went through" - With the genitive this preposition may be taken either as the means or agent by which something is done (the tabernacle is the instrument by which Christ entered the heavenlies), or it can be taken as an extension by which something or someone passes through an area or object (Christ arrived in the heavenlies by passing through the tabernacle). The second meaning is best.
ou ceiropoihtou adj. "[tabernacle] that is not man-made / that is not made with human hands" - [tent/tabernacle] not made with hands, hand-made. The meaning of the tabernacle is often spiritualized to mean Christ's body, the church etc. Yet this tabernacle, "not made with hands", is the spiritual reality of the earthly tent, within which space the priests performed Israel's cultic rites. As the high priest passed through this space to come into the holy of holies, so Christ has passed through the heavenly reality into the presence of the "Living God. So the imagery employed is of a heavenly tent, a divine canopy under which God dwells.
tout estin "that is to say" - that is. Explanatory.
ou tauthV thV ktisewV gen. "is not a part of this creation" - not of this creation. The genitive is adjectival, partitive; "not a part of."
eishlqen (eisercomai) aor. "he did [not] enter" - he entered. "When Christ went through the heavenly tabernacle, he did not enter ..."
di (dia) + gen. "by means of [the blood of goats and calves]" - Instrumental, expressing means. Christ did not pass through the tent having offered an inferior blood-sacrifice. The writer generalizes the atonement blood-sacrifice which consisted of one bull, two rams and one he-goat.
de "but" - but, and. Here adversative, "but".
efapax "once for all" - emphatic adverb used to emphasize the once only nature of Christ's sacrifice.
dia + gen. "by" - through, by means of. Again instrumental, "by means of", but possibly agency, "with".
tou idiou gen. "his own [blood]" - [the blood] of one's own. The genitive is adjectival, possessive. Again, the imagery is of the high priestly sacrificial offerings which enable him to move into the tabernacle's inner sanctuary. Christ's move is sanctioned by offering a sacrifice which is "his own."
euJramenoV (euJriskw) mid. part. "having obtained" - having secured. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the main verb "entered"; "he entered ... and secured ...". "Obtain" in the middle is common in classical use. Christ's sacrifice obtains for us ....
aiwnian lutrwsin "eternal redemption" - Christ's sacrifice obtains an eternal purchase out of slavery, unlike that of the earthly atonement sacrifice which achieves only limited results and must be repeated. "He took his own blood and obtained eternal salvation for us", TEV.
ii] The effectiveness of Christ's sacrifice as compared to the limitations of the sacrifices offered by the earthly high priests, v13-14. The old sacrificial system, with its shedding of blood, ashing, sprinkling of blood, or sprinkling of the water of purification, had only a limited effect. The sacrificial system could only deal with cultic impurity caused by the inadvertent breaking of the law. Ritual cleansing (the writer uses the word "sanctify", but only in a limited sense), for example, could purify a person where they had come into contact with a corpse. So, the system could make a person "outwardly clean", but was quite unable to deal with the stain of sin willfully committed. In v14 our author goes on to underline the superior nature of Christ's sacrifice. Christ's blood-sacrifice involved, not just the shedding of his physical blood, but the giving up of his whole spiritual being. The NIV capitalizes "Spirit" here in the sense of involving the Holy Spirit in Christ's sacrifice, but the writer is most likely speaking about Christ's eternal spiritual self. Yet, not only did Christ's sacrifice involve the offering of his eternal self, his offering was a morally blameless, perfect sacrifice. The consequence of Christ's sacrifice for those in a relationship with him, involves spiritual cleansing, an inward cleansing of the soul, a washing away of the stain of sin, not just a washing away of outward ritual impurity. As a result of this cleansing, believers begin to live in a Christlike way.
gar "-" - for. More explanatory than causal; introducing an expansion of v11-12. "For if the blood of goats and bulls ....", Moffatt.
ei "-" - if. Conditional clause 1st. class where the condition is assumed a reality, "if, as is the case, ..... [how much more] then .." The apodosis is found in v14.
damalewV (iV ewV) gen. "[the ashes] of a heifer" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive. Referring to the sin offering where the sacrifice of a red heifer's ashes are sprinkled on the outside of the tabernacle and added to the water of ritual purification, Num.19:4ff. This was possibly a high priestly duty, although not part of the day of atonement rituals. Probably the writer assumes the ritual is a high priestly duty and therefore includes it.
rJantizousa (rJantizw) pres. part. "sprinkled" - The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "ashes", or "blood", or both; "which sprinkles", but it can be treated adverbially, temporal, "but if ....., as it sprinkles those who are stained, does render them holy, so far as physical purity is concerned, how much more ....", Berkeley. Of course, the writer may have in mind the sprinkling of the water of purification. For the writer, the details are unimportant since the effectiveness of the ritual is limited.
touV kekoinwmenouV (koinow) perf. part. "those who are ceremonially unclean" - the ones having been common, unclean. The participle serves as a substantive; "those who have suffered defilement", Cassirer.
aJgiazei (aJgiazw) "sanctify" - sanctifies, makes holy. The sanctification here is in the sense of the removal of cultic impurity. It is limited in that it is a "cleansing of the flesh" eg. the removal of cultic impurity caused by contact with a corpse, Num.19:11-23. The sanctification provided by Christ is of a totally different order in that it is of the inward being. "So physically purifies those who have become ritually unclean that they are rendered fit to enter God's presence in worship", Barclay.
proV + acc. "so that" - to. Here expressing purpose / end view; "for the purification of the flesh", ESV.
thV sarkoV (x koV) gen. "[they are] outwardly [clean]" - [the purification] of the flesh. The genitive may be treated as verbal, objective, but adjectival, attributive, limiting "purification", as NIV, seems better; "so that they are physically purified" = limited to being "considered clean" for the "worship of God", CEV.
posw/ dat. pro. "how much [more]" - Dative of degree or difference.
"then" - Introducing the apodosis of the conditional clause commenced in v13 - here the positive side of the comparison.
tou Cristou (oV) gen. "[the blood] of Christ" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive, "belonging to", although given the underlying sense "the sacrifice of Christ", it may be treated adverbially, agency, "the sacrifice enacted by Christ."
dia "through" - through, by means of. Instrumental / agency.
pneumatoV (a atoV) "the [eternal] Spirit" - through eternal spirit. The NIV opts for the involvement of the Holy Spirit in Christ's sacrifice by capitalizing the word "Spirit". This trinitarian understanding (ie., the involvement of the Holy Spirit, along with the Father, in Christ's sacrifice) of the passage has strong support, cf. Morris, Koester, Ellingworth, ... On the other hand, it is possible that our author is making the point that Jesus sacrifice was not, in substance, just fleshly, as was the sacrifice of the animals. Christ's eternal spiritual being, his whole spiritual self, was sacrificed on the cross, not just his fleshly body. In this sense, his sacrifice was superior, cf., Attridge, .... It is worth noting that the term "eternal" is never used of the Holy Spirit, although that doesn't mean it is an improper descriptor to apply to the Spirit.
eJauton "himself" - Unlike the cultic sacrifices, Jesus the high priest doesn't offer animal sacrifices; he offers himself.
amwmon (oV) "unblemished" - spotless, blameless. The reference is clearly to the sacrificial animal being without physical blemish. In Christ's case, "unblemished" doesn't quite fit. Christ is morally "blameless" and the word is usually given this meaning when referring to Christ in the New Testament, eg. Eph.1:4, 5:27... "He offered himself as the perfect sacrifice", Phillips.
tw/ qew/ (oV) dat. "to God" - Dative of indirect object / interest.
kaqariei (kaqarizw) fut. "will .... cleanse [our conscience]" - will cleanse [our conscience]. "The future tense expresses certainty because its fulfillment is expected", Kistemaker. Is the writer here suggesting that as well as cleansing us from sin, Christ's sacrifice cleanses the conscience, cleanses the inner voice, cleanses the facility to distinguish between right and wrong? It is true that those who walk by the Spirit put to death the misdeeds of the flesh (although imperfectly). Believers are strengthened by the Spirit in their Christian walk. With Christ beside us we see sin for what it is and are better able to stand against temptation. Yet, our author is more likely focusing on the inward and spiritual purification that comes through Christ's sacrifice, as compared to the mere outward purification rendered by cultic animal sacrifices. So, the writer probably has in mind the inward cleansing from sin.
hJmwn "our [conscience]" - of us. Variant "your".
apo + gen. "from" - Expressing separation; "away from."
nekrwn gen. adj. "[acts] that lead to death" - dead [works]. These are the works which separate us from God, works which cause inward spiritual defilement.
eiV to + inf. "so that [we may serve]" - for [to serve]. This construction usually forms a purpose clause, "in order that", which can be expressed as a hypothetical result, "so that", as NIV. The word "serve" is, at times, used of performing cultic rituals, eg. 8:5, yet not in the sense of adoration, but in the sense of doing, serving, performing religious duties. So, a meaning like "worship" is inappropriate. Those who are freed from the curse of death find themselves freed to be compassionate as He is compassionate. "So that we turn our backs on actions without any life in them and instead give ourselves up to the service of God", Cassirer.