So Christ was once offered - He shall die no more; he has borne away the sins of many, and what he has done once shall stand good for ever. Yet he will appear a second time without sin, ̔ , without a sin-offering; That he has already made.
Unto salvation - To deliver the bodies of believers from the empire of death, to reunite them to their purified souls, and bring both into his eternal glory. This is salvation, and the very highest of which the human being is capable. Amen! Even so, come Lord Jesus! Hallelujah!
1. In the preceding notes I have given my reasons for dissenting from our translation of the 15th, 16th, and 17th verses. Many learned men are of the same opinion; but I have not met with one who appears to have treated the whole in a more satisfactory manner than Dr. Macknight, and for the edification of my readers I shall here subjoin the substance of what he has written on this point.
" Hebrews 9:15. Mediator of the new covenant. See Hebrews 8:7. The word , here translated covenant, answers to the Hebrew word berith , which all the translators of the Jewish Scriptures have understood to signify a covenant. The same signification our translators have affixed to the word , as often as it occurs in the writings of the evangelists and apostles, except in the history of the institution of the supper, and in II Corinthians 3:6 : and Hebrews 7:22, and in the passage under consideration; in which places, copying the Vulgate version, they have rendered by the word testament. Beza, following the Syriac Version, translates everywhere by the words foedas, pactum , except in the 16th, 17th, and 20th verses of this chapter, where likewise following the Syriac version, he has testamentum . Now if , the new testament, in the passages above mentioned, means the Gospel covenant, as all interpreters acknowledge, , the old testament, II Corinthians 3:14, and , the first testament, Hebrews 9:15, must certainly be the Sinaitic covenant or law of Moses, as is evident also from Hebrews 9:20. On this supposition it may be asked,
1.In what sense the Sinaitic covenant or law of Moses, which required perfect obedience to all its precepts under penalty of death, and allowed no mercy to any sinner, however penitent, can be called a testament, which is a deed conferring something valuable on a person who may accept or refuse it, as he thinks fit? Besides, the transaction at Sinai, in which God promised to continue the Israelites in Canaan, on condition they refrained from the wicked practices of the Canaanites, and observed his statutes, Lev. 18, can in no sense be called a testament.
2.If the law of Moses be a testament, and if, to render that testament valid, the death of the testator be necessary, as the English translators have taught us, Hebrews 9:16, I ask who it was that made the testament of the law? Was it God or Moses? And did either of them die to render it valid?
3.I observe that even the Gospel covenant is improperly called a testament, because, notwithstanding all its blessings were procured by the death of Christ, and are most freely bestowed, it lost any validity which, as a testament, it is thought to have received by the death of Christ, when he revived again on the third day.
4.The things affirmed in the common translation of Hebrews 9:15, concerning the new testament, namely, that it has a Mediator; that that Mediator is the Testator himself; that there were transgressions of a former testament, for the redemption of which the Mediator of the new testament died; and, Hebrews 9:19, that the first testament was made by sprinkling the people in whose favor it was made with blood; are all things quite foreign to a testament. For was it ever known in any nation that a testament needed a mediator? Or that the testator was the mediator of his own testament? Or that it was necessary the testator of a new testament should die to redeem the transgressions of a former testament? Or that any testament was ever made by sprinkling the legatees with blood? These things however were usual in covenants. They had mediators who assisted at the making of them, and were sureties for the performance of them. They were commonly ratified by sacrifices, the blood of which was sprinkled on the parties; withal, if any former covenant was infringed by the parties, satisfaction was given at the making of a second covenant.
5.By calling Christ the Mediator of the new testament our thoughts are turned away entirely from the view which the Scriptures give us of his death as a sacrifice for sin; whereas, if he is called the Mediator of the new covenant, which is the true translation of , that appellation directly suggests to us that the new covenant was procured and ratified by his death as a sacrifice for sin. Accordingly Jesus, on account of his being made a priest by the oath of God, is said to be the Priest or Mediator of a better covenant than that of which the Levitical priests were the mediators. I acknowledge that in classical Greek , commonly signifies a testament. Yet, since the Seventy have uniformly translated the Hebrew word berith , which properly signifies a covenant, by the word , in writing Greek the Jews naturally used for as our translators have acknowledged by their version of Hebrews 10:16. To conclude: Seeing in the verses under consideration may be translated a covenant; and seeing, when so translated, these verses make a better sense, and agree better with the scope of the apostle' s reasoning than if it were translated a testament; we can be at no loss to know which translation of in these verses ought to be preferred. Nevertheless, the absurdity of a phraseology to which readers have been long accustomed, without attending distinctly to its meaning, does not soon appear.
" He is the Mediator. Here it is remarkable that Jesus is not called , the Testator, but , the Mediator, of the new covenant; first, because he procured the new covenant for mankind, in which the pardon of sin is promised; for, as the apostle tells us, his death, as a sacrifice for sin, is the consideration on account of which the pardon of the transgressions of the first covenant is granted. Secondly, because the new covenant having been ratified as well as procured by the death of Christ, he is fitly called the Mediator of that covenant in the same sense that God' s oath is called, Hebrews 6:17, the mediator, or confirmor, of his promise. Thirdly, Jesus, who died to procure the new covenant, being appointed by God the high priest thereof, to dispense his blessings, he is on that account also called, Hebrews 8:6, the mediator of that better covenant.
Hebrews 9:16. For where a covenant (is made by sacrifice), there is a necessity that the death of the appointed sacrifice be produced. This elliptical expression must be completed, if, as is probable, the apostle had now in his eye the covenant which God made with Noah and Abraham. His covenant is recorded, Genesis 8:20, where we are told, that on coming out of the ark Noah offered a burnt-offering of every clean beast and fowl. And the Lord smelled a sweet savor. And the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground, neither will I again smite any more every living thing as I have done. This promise or declaration God called his covenant with men, and with every living creature. Genesis 9:9, Genesis 9:10. In like manner God made a covenant with Abraham by sacrifice, Genesis 15:9, Genesis 15:18, and with the Israelites at Sinai, Exodus 24:8. See also Psalms 50:5. By making his covenants with men in this manner, God taught them that his intercourses with them were all founded on an expiation afterwards to be made for their sins by the sacrifice of the seed of the woman, the bruising of whose heel, or death, was foretold at the fall. On the authority of these examples, the practice of making covenants by sacrifice prevailed among the Jews; Jeremiah 34:18; Zechariah 9:11; and even among the heathens; for they had the knowledge of these examples by tradition. Stabant et caesa jungebant foedera porca ; Virgil, Aeneid, viii. 611. Hence the phrases, foedus ferire and percutere, to strike or kill the covenant.
" There is a necessity that the death , of the appointed. Here we may supply either the word , sacrifice, or , animal, which might be either a calf, a goat, a bull, or any other animal which the parties making the covenant chose. is the participle of the second aorist of the middle voice of the verb , constituo , I appoint. Wherefore its primary and literal signification is, of the appointed. Our translators have given the word this sense, Luke 22:29; ̔, ̔ , . And I appoint to you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed to me a kingdom.
" Be brought in ; , Elsner, vol. ii., p. 381, has shown that the word is sometimes used in a forensic sense for what is produced, or proved, or made apparent in a court of judicature. Wherefore the apostle' s meaning is, that it is necessary the death of the appointed sacrifice be brought in, or produced, at the making of the covenant. In the margin of our Bibles this clause is rightly translated, be brought in. See Acts 25:7, where is used in the forensic sense.
Hebrews 9:17. A covenant is firm over dead sacrifices; . being an adjective, it must have a substantive agreeing with it, either expressed or understood. The substantive understood in this place, I think, is , sacrifices; for which reason I have supplied it in the translation. Perhaps the word , animals, may be equally proper; especially as, in the following clause, is in the gender of the animals appointed for the sacrifice. Our translators have supplied the word , men, and have translated , after men are dead, contrary to the propriety of the phrase.
" It never hath force whilst the appointed liveth; ̔ ͅ ̔ . Supply , or , or · whilst the calf, or goat, or bull, appointed for the sacrifice of ratification, liveth. The apostle having, in Hebrews 9:15, showed that Christ' s death was necessary as ̔ , the Mediator, that is, the procurer, and ratifier of the new covenant, he in the 16th and 17th verses observes that, since God' s covenants with men were all ratified by sacrifice to show that his intercourses with men are founded on the sacrifice of his Son, it was necessary that the new covenant itself should be ratified by his Son' s actually dying as a sacrifice.
1."The faultiness of the common translation of the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and 20th verses of this chapter having been already shown in the notes, nothing needs be added here, except to call the reader' s attention to the propriety and strength of the apostle' s reasoning, as it appears in the translation of these verses which I have given, compared with his reasoning as represented in the common version."
2.It is supposed that in Hebrews 9:28, the apostle, in speaking about Christ' s bearing the sins of many, alludes to the ceremony of the scape goat. This mysterious sacrifice was to be presented to God, Leviticus 16:7, and the sins of the people were to be confessed over the head of it, Leviticus 16:21, and after this the goat was dismissed into a land uninhabited, laden, as the institution implied, with the sins of the people; and this the word , to bear or carry away, seems to imply. So truly as the goat did metaphorically bear away the sins of the many, so truly did Christ literally bear the punishment due to our sins; and in reference to every believer, has so borne them away that they shall never more rise in judgment against him.
3.In Christ' s coming, or appearing the second time, it is very probable, as Dr. Doddridge and others have conjectured, that there is an allusion to the return of the high priest from the inner tabernacle; for, after appearing there in the presence of God, and making atonement for the people in the plain dress of an ordinary priest, Leviticus 16:23, Leviticus 16:24, he came out arrayed in his magnificent robes, to bless the people, who waited for him in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation. "But there will be this difference," says Dr. Macknight, "between the return of Christ to bless his people, and the return of the high priest to bless the congregation. The latter, after coming out of the most holy place, made a new atonement in his pontifical robes for himself and for the people, Leviticus 16:24, which showed that the former atonement was not real but typical. Whereas Jesus, after having made atonement, (and presented himself in heaven, before God), will not return to the earth for the purpose of making himself a sacrifice the second time; but having procured an eternal redemption for us, by the sacrifice of himself once offered, he will return for the purpose of declaring to them who wait for him that they are accepted, and of bestowing on them the great blessing of eternal life. This reward he, being surrounded with the glory of the Father, Matthew 16:27, will give them in the presence of an assembled universe, both as their King and their Priest. This is the great salvation which Christ came to preach, and which was confirmed to the world by them who heard him: Hebrews 2:3." Reader, lay this sincerely to heart!
4.The form in which the high priest and the ordinary priests were to bless the people, after burning the incense in the tabernacle, is prescribed, Numbers 6:23-26. Literally translated from the Hebrew it is as follows, and consists of three parts or benedictions: -
1.May Jehovah bless thee, and preserve thee!
2.May Jehovah cause his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee!
3.May Jehovah lift up his faces upon thee, and may he put prosperity unto thee! (See my notes on the place, Numbers 6:23-26.)
We may therefore say that Christ, our High Priest, came to bless each of us, by turning us away from our iniquity. And let no one ever expect to see him at his second coming with joy, unless he have, in this life, been turned away from his iniquity, and obtained remission of all his sins, and that holiness without which none can see God. Reader, the time of his reappearing is, to thee, at hand! Prepare to meet thy God!
On the word conscience, which occurs so often in this chapter, and in other parts of this epistle, see the observations at the end of chap. 13.
Other Adam Clarke entries containing Hebrews 9:28:
1 Peter 3:18
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