Hebrews 9:23-10:18 - Outline of Hebrews (MENU page)
9:23 [It was] therefore necessary
that the patterns
{8:4-6} of things in the heavens should be purified with these {9:19};
but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
Blood sacrifice in the OT (animal sacrifices)-
  • provided "atonement" (ie., a temporary covering for sin), Lev 17:11
    The OT word for atonement {HB= kaphar} means 'to cover over.'
  • required continual repetition.
    (v.23, above, is lit., "should be purified continually...")
  • were a token of the real, final & complete cleansing, yet to come.
Blood sacrifice in the NT (Christ died for our sins)-
Christ took upon Himself: our flesh, our sin, our death. cp. Joh 1:14,29; 1Pet 3:18
His one "better sacrifice" is referred to here in 'the plural of majesty,' because the innumerable sacrifices of the OT cannot begin to equal the value of His one sacrifice.
necessary- Was Christ's sacrifice really necessary?
It was the One, whom the Father always hears (Joh 11:41,42), who prayed in agony:
"O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me..." (Mat 26:39)
If it had been possible, the Father would have spared His beloved Son.
There was no other way.
heavenly things- Why should heavenly things need cleansing?
Some suggest that Heaven was somehow tainted by Satan's fall.
... But where the Holy God dwells, there can be no trace of impurity. (eg. 1Joh 1:5)
"Heavenly things" may refer to saints, made holy for the Father's House.
cp. Joh 14:2,3; 1Cor 15:48,49; Eph 1:3,20; 2:6; Heb 3:1; 12:22-24
Was His sacrifice effective to purify us and suit us for the Presence of God in Heaven?
The "Three Appearings of Christ" (in vs. 24-28) say: "Yes, Yes, Yes!"
9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands,
[which are] the figures of the true;
but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
Christ appears-(1) (present tense) --
  • now- It is not that someday, we hope, He will win redemption & access before God.
    Rather, His access is present reality.
  • in the presence of God (lit., before the face of God).
  • for us (in our behalf). Christ is our--
    • Representative- As the OT High Priest bore the names of Israel's tribes on his shoulders into the Holy of Holies, so Christ is identified with His own. As He is accepted, so we are accepted. As He is Holy, so we are Holy & without blame... Eph 1:4,6
    • Intercessor- As the OT High Priest carried the censer of incense into the Holy of Holies, Christ brings our prayers before the very throne of God (10:19). He Himself pleads our case before the Father (Rom 8:34).
    • Advocate- He knows our need. He responds to our heart cry. 1Joh 2:1
9:25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often,
as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world:
but now once in the end of the world
{ie., ages} hath he appeared {lit., he hath been manifested}
to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Christ appeared-(2) (past tense; at a specific point in history) --
  • once (an event that will never be repeated or duplicated)...
  • ...to put away sin {lit., for the annulling of sin}.
    "So completely does His sacrifice blot sin out of the heavens and the earth, that it will be as if sin never had existed." [GWms] Psa 103:12; Heb 8:12
9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
  • once...
  • ...to die- Christ identified with man & bore man's penalty and judgment for sin.
    Note: As the penalty is not suffering, but death (Rom 6:23),
    so, justification is not by Christ's suffering, but by His death (Rom 3:23-25).
9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many;
and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time
without sin unto salvation.
  • once...
    Note the emphatic use of this word "once" (vs.12,26,27,28; 10:10,12,14,18).
    Christ's one sacrifice stands in contrast to the continual sacrifices of the OT (10:1-4) and also of the Roman Catholic Church, which regards its mass as a continual sacrifice of Christ, the perpetual victim.
  • ...was offered (at a specific time, as a unique sacrifice). 1Pet 2:24; Isa 53:12
    - to bear the sins of many- ie., not of all men, but of all those who qualify (Isa 53:11):
    - - - those who are called, Joh 6:37-39,44; Heb 9:15
    - - - as many as received Him, Joh 1:12; Rom 10:9-11
Christ shall appear-(3) (future tense, cp. Acts 1:10,11) --
  • the second time (ie., He will be manifested the second time, in the sight of men)...
  • ...to them that look for Him:
    -- Israel, when their eyes are opened, Rom 11:25-27; Zech 12:10; 13:1
    -- true believers of every race, Titus 2:13,14; 1Joh 3:2
    Compare the expectation of the OT worshipers who waited for the priest to return to them from before the Lord. Our High Priest is presently within the veil (ie., in the heavenly Holy of Holies). (cp. 6:19,20 with Luke 1:21)
  • ...without sin, unto salvation...
    - - for Israel- That future day, when their Messiah establishes His kingdom
    of everlasting righteousness, will be possible only because He came once, in the historic past, to put away sin by His blood. At His first coming, He was ''cut off, but not for Himself'' because He bore the sins of His people. Dan 9:24,26a; Isa 53:12
    At His second coming, sin having already been dealt with, He will restore all that had been lost as a consequence of sin. Psa 69:4; Acts 3:18-21
    - - for all believers- He will bring to completion that aspect of our salvation which is yet future.
    1Cor 15:49; 1Joh 3:2
Hebrews 10:1-18
10:1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, {cp. 8:5; 9:11}
[and] not the very image of the things,
can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually
make the comers thereunto perfect.
the law...can never...make...perfect--
Those who come to the law discover themselves to be condemned sinners.
-- They are in need of sacrifice to deal with their condition. Rom 3:20
But the OT sacrifices could not do what was needed, though they were offered-
-- year by year (ie., at the Day of Atonement), and
-- continually (in unceasing continuance, ie., as the daily sacrifices).
a shadow... not the very image {ie., not the likeness itself} -
''You can't live in the shadow of a house. You need a house.'' [JVMcGee]
"The OT is a 'picture book' in which God is simply trying to show His little children their need & His provision, their sin & His Savior." [JVMcGee]
10:2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered?
because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
conscience- GK=suneidesis, lit. ''with-knowing,'' a sense of guilt before God. [WEVine]
The law & its sacrifices could not purge away sin.
It could not remove sin (or guilt) from the heart.
10:3 But in those [sacrifices there is] a remembrance again [made] of sins every year.
The law & its sacrifices continually reminded men of their sinful condition.
But it could only anticipate the remedy.
David's prayer of confession could not be fully answered in his lifetime. Psa 51:1-10
Illustration [from HAIronside]:
The law remembers sin as a financial promissory note acknowledges debt, but cannot equip the debtor to remove his indebtedness. Year by year, in the OT sacrifices the people declared, 'We are guilty. The wages of sin is death. But we cannot pay.' There was no remedy, until the 'co-signer' appeared to satisfy the debt with His own blood.
10:4 For [it is] not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
10:5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith,
''He''= Christ (9:26-28).
10:5-7 quote from Psa 40:6-8, with some variations.
(The NT text follows the LXX translation.)
(See the Book Notes study on the Psalms of Messiah for Psalm 40.)

NT reading (Heb 10)
OT reading (Psalm 40)
Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, | Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire,
but a body hast thou prepared me: | mine ears hast thou opened:
10:6 In burnt offerings and [sacrifices] | burnt offering and sin offering
for sin thou hast had no pleasure. | hast thou not required.
10:7 Then said I, Lo, I come | Then said I, Lo, I come:
(in the volume of the book it is written of me) | in the volume of the book it is written of me,
to do thy will, O God. | I delight to do thy will, O my God.
| Yea, thy law is within my heart.
Now the writer of Hebrews will make two points from Psalm 40:
10:8 Above when he said,
Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and [offering] for sin
thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure [therein]; which are offered by the law;
10:9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.
He taketh away the first,
that he may establish the second.
1. Christ has done away with the need for sacrifice, by His one sacrifice. (cp. vs.5,6)
Sacrifice was not required or requested by God. It did not bring God pleasure.
Sacrifice became necessary due to sin.
What the Lord desired was holy hearts to obey Him. 1Sam 15:22; Isa 1:10-15; Hos 6:6
2. Christ establishes, within us, His delight in the Father's will, by means of His obedience.
-Christ was obedient to God. This is the meaning of:
  1. "...mine ears hast thou opened" (Psa 40:6) -ie., to hear & to delight to do God's will.
    cp. Ex 21:5,6; Isa 50:4-6; Joh 4:34; 5:30
  2. "...a body hast thou prepared me" (v. 5) - This textual variation (as rendered by the Greek LXX) amplifies the sense of the original Hebrew text (in 'a.' above). So perfect was Christ's obedience that His whole body could be viewed as an ear: totally open to God's Word, totally given to God's will.
-Christ was obedient "unto death" (Php 2:8).
  Through His total obedience to His Father's will, we are brought into His likeness, as sons joyfully surrendered to the Father's will. cp. Rom 8:3-4,14-15
10:10 By the which will we are sanctified {ie., made holy}
through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once [for all].
His "once for all" sacrifice is the basis of our being set apart unto God,
(not our promises, feelings, or personal righteousnesses). Isa 53:10; Jer 31:33
10:11 And every priest standeth daily ministering
and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
10:12 But this man
{ie., Christ}, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever,
sat down on the right hand of God;
Christ's one sacrifice is enough.
  • The OT priest "stands daily ministering."- Their work was never done.
    There was no place for the priest to rest; there was no chair included in the furniture of the tabernacle.
  • Christ "sat down"- His sacrificial work is finished. Joh 19:30
  • Christ sat down "at the right hand of God"- His one sacrifice is accepted & sufficient. Heb 1:3; Psa 110:1
10:13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.
from henceforth- ie., from the point of His sitting down.
Christ awaits the consummation of His Kingdom.
We, who belong to Him, also wait. (9:28)
10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
By one offering...
  • He...- (It is totally His doing. cp. Titus 3:5,6)
  • has perfected...- (cp. Heb 7:11,19,25)
  • forever- This word may be applied as: "by one offering forever..."
    or, "...He has perfected forever."
    (In either case, the effect is the same.)
10:15 [Whereof] the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: {as the Author of Scripture, 2Pet 1:21}
for after that he had said before, {in Jer 31:33-34 quoted at 8:7-13}
The Holy Spirit had previously revealed God's purpose, now fulfilled by Christ.
The 2 points made from Psa 40 (see notes at v.9 above) are echoed in Jer 31.
These points are reviewed in reverse order, in the next few verses.
10:16 This [is] the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord,
I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
The new covenant (in Christ's blood)-
2. Establishes God's will in the hearts of His people.
(By means of the new birth by which we become God's sons. cp. vs. 7; Rom 8:14-16,29)
Thereby, displacing the old system of legal constraints.
(cp. "He took away the first to establish the second." v. 9; 8:7,13)
10:17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
1. Dismisses the guilt of His people. Rom 8:33
Thereby, doing away with the need for sacrifice:
10:18 Now where remission {ie., 'sending away', 9:22} of these [is, there is] no more offering for sin.
When sin & guilt are removed from the heart of a man, he has no more need for sacrifice.
Corollary: If a man refuses Christ's sacrifice, he has no other offering for sin available (cp. v.26-29).

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