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10. Christ's Sacrifice Once for All
1For the law having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things, can never with the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect them that draw nigh. 2Else would they not have ceased to be offered? because the worshippers, having been once cleansed, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance made of sins year by year. 4For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. 5Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith,
Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not,
But a body didst thou prepare for me;
6In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hadst no pleasure:
7Then said I, Lo, I am come (In the roll of the book it is written of me)
To do thy will, O God.
8Saying above, Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein (the which are offered according to the law), 9then hath he said, Lo, I am come to do thy will. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11And every priest indeed standeth day by day ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, the which can never take away sins: 12but he, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13henceforth expecting till his enemies be made the footstool of his feet. 14For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 15And the Holy Spirit also beareth witness to us; for after he hath said,
16This is the covenant that I will make with them
After those days, saith the Lord:
I will put my laws on their heart,
And upon their mind also will I write them;
then saith he,
17And their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
18Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 19Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21and having a great priest over the house of God; 22let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience: and having our body washed with pure water, 23let us hold fast the confession of our hope that it waver not; for he is faithful that promised: 24and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; 25not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh. 26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins, 27but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which shall devour the adversaries. 28A man that hath set at nought Moses law dieth without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses: 29of how much sorer punishment, think ye, shall he be judged worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him that said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 32But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were enlightened, ye endured a great conflict of sufferings; 33partly, being made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, becoming partakers with them that were so used. 34For ye both had compassion on them that were in bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of you possessions, knowing that ye have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one. 35Cast not away therefore your boldness, which hath great recompense of reward. 36For ye have need of patience, that, having done the will of God, ye may receive the promise.
37For yet a very little while,
He that cometh shall come, and shall not tarry.
38But my righteous one shall live by faith:
And if he shrink back, my soul hath no pleasure in him.
39But we are not of them that shrink back unto perdition; but of them that have faith unto the saving of the soul.
15. The Holy Ghost also is a witness, etc. 168168 “Now testify to us does also the Holy Spirit;” such may be the rendering of the words. The δὲ is translated “And,” by Macknight, and “Morever,” by Stuart, but “Now” seems the most suitable. — Ed This testimony from Jeremiah is not adduced the second time without reason or superfluously. He quoted it before for a different purpose, even to show that it was necessary for the Old Testament to be abrogated, because another, a new one, had been promised, and for this end, to amend the weakness of the old. 169169 The quotation as made here affords a remarkable instance of what Calvin has previously said, that the Apostles were not very scrupulous in the use of words, but attended to the meaning. The words have been before quoted in chapter 8:10-12. There we have “into their mind — καρδίας,” here, “into their minds — διανοιῶν;” and in the 12th verse in chapter 8, and the 17th in this chapter, are in words wholly different, though in meaning essentially the same. We need not wonder then that there is sometimes a variety in quotations made from the Old Testament, since the Apostle varies in a quotation when given the second time by himself. — Ed But he has now another thing in view; for he takes his stand on these words alone, Their iniquities will I remember no more; and hence he concludes, that there is no more need of a sacrifice since sins are blotted out. 170170 This quotation clearly shows the meaning of the word “sanctified.” The sanctified, or those atoned for, or expiated, were made perfect by having their sins perfectly and completely forgiven them. The sufficiently of Christ’s sacrifice for taking away sins, for a full and complete remission, is the subject throughout, and not the effect of that sacrifice in the work of sanctification. The chapter begins with sins as to the conscience; and here the words of Jeremiah are referred to, not for the purpose of showing that the new covenant provides for the renovation of the heart, (though it includes that too.) but of proving that it secures the free and full remission of sins, procured, as stated before, by the one sacrifice of Christ, once offered and perpetually efficacious. — Ed.
This inference may indeed seem not to be well founded; for though formerly there were innumerable promises as to the remission of sins under the Law and in the prophets, yet the Church ceased not to offer sacrifices; hence remission of sins does not exclude sacrifices. But if you consider each particular more closely, you will find that the fathers also had the same promises as to the remission of sins, under the Law, as we have at this day; relying on them, they called on God, and rejoiced in the pardon they obtained. And yet the Prophet, as though he had adduced something new and unheard of before, promises that there would be no remembrance of sins before God under the new covenant. Hence we may conclude, that sins are now remitted in a way different from what they were formerly; but this difference is not in the promise, nor in faith, but in the very price by which remissions is procured. God then does not now remember sins, because an expiation has been made once for all; otherwise what is said by the Prophet would have been to no purpose, that the benefit of the New Testament was to be this — that God would no more remember sins.
Now, since we have come to the close of the discussion respecting the priesthood of Christ, readers must be brief reminded, that the sacrifices of the Law are not more effectually proved here to have been abolished, than the sacrifice of the mass practiced by the Papists is proved to be a vain fiction.
They maintain that their mass is a sacrifice for expiating the sins of the living and of the dead; but the Apostle denies that there is now any place for a sacrifice, even since the time in which the prophecy of Jeremiah has been fulfilled.
They try to make an evasion by saying, that it is not a new sacrifice, or different from that of Christ, but the same; on the contrary, the Apostle contends that the same sacrifice ought not to be repeated, and declares that Christ’s sacrifice is only one, and that it was offered for all; and, further, he often claims for Christ alone the honor of being a priest, so that no one was fit to offer him but himself alone.
The Papists have another evasion, and call their sacrifice bloodless; but the Apostle affirms it as a truth without exception, that death is necessary in order to make a sacrifice.
The Papists attempt to evade again by saying, that the mass is the application of the one sacrifice which Christ has made; but the Apostle teaches us on the contrary, that the sacrifices of the Law were abolished by Christ’s death for this reason, because in them a remembrance of sins was made; it hence appears evident, that this kind of application which they have devised has ceased.
In short, let the Papists twist themselves into any forms they please, they can never escape from the plain arguments of the Apostle, by which it appears clear that their mass abounds in impieties; for first, according to the Apostle’s testimony, Christ alone was fit to offer himself; in the mass he is offered by other hands; — secondly, the Apostle asserts that Christ’s sacrifice was not only one, but was also once offered, so that it is impious to repeat it; but in the mass, however they may prate about the sacrifice, yet it is evidently made every day, and they themselves confess it; — thirdly, the Apostle acknowledges no sacrifice without blood and death; they then chatter in vain, that the sacrifice they offer is bloodless; — fourthly, the Apostle in speaking of obtaining pardon for sins, bids us to flee to that one sacrifice which Christ offered on the cross, and makes this distinction between us and the fathers, that the rite of continually sacrificing was done away by the coming of Christ; but the Papists, in order to make the death of Christ efficacious, require daily applications by means of a sacrifice; so that they calling themselves Christians, differ nothing from the Jews except in the external symbol.