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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE HEBREWS - Chapter 9 - Verse 28
Verse 28. So Christ was once offered. As men are to die but once, and as all beyond the grave is fixed by the judgment, so that his death there would make no change in the destiny, there was a propriety that he should die but once for sin. The argument is, there is one probation only, and therefore there was need of but one sacrifice, or of his dying but once. If death were to occur frequently in the existence of each individual, and if each intermediate period were a state of probation, then there might be a propriety that an atonement should be made with reference to each state. Or if beyond the grave there were a state of probation still, then also there might be a propriety that an atoning sacrifice should be offered there. But since neither of these things is true, there was a fitness that the great Victim should die but once.
The phrase does not mean
(1.) that Christ was a sinner—for that was in no sense true. See Heb 7:26. Nor
(2.) that he literally bore the penalty due to transgression—for that is equally untrue. The penalty of the law for sin is all which the law when executed inflicts on the offender for his transgress loud and includes, in fact, remorse of conscience, overwhelming despair, and eternal punishment. But Christ did not suffer for ever, nor did he experience remorse of conscience, nor did he endure utter despair. Nor
(3.) does it mean that he was literally punished for our sins. Punishment pertains only to the guilty. An innocent being may suffer for what another does, but there is no propriety in saying that he is punished for it. A father suffers much from the misconduct of a son, but we do not say that he is punished for it; a child suffers much from the intemperance of a parent, but no one would say that it was a punishment on the child. Men always connect the idea of criminality with punishment; and when we say that a man is punished, we suppose at once that there is guilt. The phrase here means simply, that Christ endured sufferings in his own person which, if they had been inflicted on us, would have been the proper punishment of sin. He who was innocent interposed, and received on himself what was descending to meet us, and consented to be treated as he would have deserved if he had been a sinner. Thus he bore what was due to us; and this in Scripture phrase is what is meant by bearing our iniquities. See Barnes "Isa 53:4".
They fully believe that he will come. They earnestly desire that he will come, 2 Ti 4:8; Re 22:20. They are waiting for his appearing, 1 Th 1:10. He left the world and ascended to heaven, but he will again return to the earth, and his people are looking for that time as the period when they shall be raised up from their graves; when they shall be publicly acknowledged to be his, and when they shall be admitted to heaven. See Barnes "Joh 14:3".
Shall he appear the second time. He first appeared as the Man of sorrows to make atonement for sin. His second appearance will be as the Lord of his people, and the Judge of the quick and the dead, Mt 25:31; see See Barnes "Ac 1:11".
The apostle does not say when this would be, nor is any intimation given in the Scriptures when it will occur. It is, on the contrary, everywhere declared that this is concealed from men, (Ac 1:7; Mt 24:36;) and all that is known respecting the time is, that it will be suddenly, and at an unexpected moment, Mt 24:42,44,50.
Without sin. That is, when he comes again he will not make himself a sin-offering; or will not come in order to make atonement for sin. It is not implied that when he came the first time he was in any sense a sinner, but that he came then with reference to sin, or that the main object of his incarnation was to "put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" When he comes the second time, it will be with reference to another object.
Unto salvation. That is, to receive his friends and followers to eternal salvation. He will come to save them from all their sins and temptation; to raise them from their graves; to place them at his right hand in glory, and to confirm them in the everlasting inheritance which he has promised to all who truly love him, and who wait for his appearing.
In view of this anticipated return of the Redeemer, we may remark—-
(1.) There is a propriety that the Lord Jesus should thus return. He came once to be humbled, despised, and put to death; and there is a fitness that he should come to be honoured in his own world.
(2.) Every person on earth is interested in the fact that he will return, for "every eye shall see him," Re 1:7. All who are now in their graves, and all who now live, and all who will hereafter live, will behold the Redeemer in his glory.
(3.) It will not be merely to gaze upon him, and to admire his magnificence that they will see him. It will be for greater and more momentous purposes—with reference to an eternal doom.
(4.) The great mass of men are not prepared to meet him. They do not believe that he will return; they do not desire that he should appear; they are not ready for the solemn interview which they will have with him. His appearing now would overwhelm them with surprise and horror. There is nothing in the future which they less expect and desire than the second coming of the Son of God; and in the present state of the world his appearance would produce almost universal consternation and despair. It would be like the coming of the flood of waters on the old world; like the sheets of fire on the cities of the plain, or as death now comes to the great mass of those who die.
(5.) Christians are prepared for his coming. They believe in it; they desire it; they are expecting it. In this they are distinguished from all the world besides; and they would be ready to hail his coming as that of a friend, and to rejoice in his appearance as that of their Saviour.
(6.) Let us, then, live in habitual preparation for his advent. To each one of us he will come soon; to all he will come suddenly. Whether he come to remove us by death, or whether in the clouds of heaven to judge the world, the period is not far distant when we shall see him. Yes, our eyes shall behold the Son of God in his glory! That which we have long desired—a sight of our Saviour, who died for us—shall soon, very soon, be granted unto us. No Christian begins a week or a day in which there is not a possibility that before its close he may have seen the Son of God in his glory; none lies down upon his bed at night who may not, when the morning dawns upon this world, be gazing with infinite delight on the glories of the great Redeemer in the heavens.
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