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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.
22. Let us draw near with a true heart, etc. As he shows that in Christ and his sacrifice there is nothing but what is spiritual or heavenly, so he would have what we bring on our part to correspond. The Jews formerly cleansed themselves by various washings to prepare themselves for the service of God. It is no wonder that the rites for cleansing were carnal, since the worship of God itself, involved in shadows, as yet partook in a manner of what was carnal. For the priest, being a mortal, was chosen from among sinners to perform for a time sacred things; he was, indeed, adorned with precious vestments, but yet they were those of this world, that he might stand in the presence of God; he only came near the work of the covenant; and to sanctify his entrance, he borrowed for a sacrifice a brute animal either from herd or the flock. But in Christ all these things are far superior; He himself is not only pure and innocent, but is also the fountain of all holiness and righteousness, and was constituted a priest by a heavenly oracle, not for the short period of a mortal life, but perpetually. To sanction his appointment an oath was interposed. He came forth adorned with all the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the highest perfection; he propitiated God by his own blood, and reconciled him to men; he ascended up above all the heavens to appear before God as our Mediator.
Now, on our part, nothing is to be brought but what corresponds with all this, as there ought to be a mutual agreement or concord between the priest and the people. Away then with all the external washings of the flesh, and cease let the whole apparatus of ceremonies; for the Apostle sets a true heart, and the certainty of faith, and a cleansing from all vices, in opposition to these external rites. And hence we learn what must be the frame of our minds in order that we may enjoy the benefits conferred by Christ; for there is no coming to him without an upright or a true heart, and a sure faith, and a pure conscience.
Now, a true or sincere heart is opposed to a heart that is hypocritical and deceitful.
This true, sincere, or upright heart, freed from vice and pollution, was symbolized by the washing at the end of the verse. Without washing the priests were not allowed to minister, and were threatened with death, Exodus 30:19-21; and when any of them touched an unclean thing, he was not allowed to eat of holy things until he washed himself, see
12:6 [sic]. Washing the body was a most important thing, as it symbolized the inward washing of the heart, which alone makes us true, or sincere, or faithful to God.
We have here two things — a sincere heart, and assurance of faith: the last is then set forth by sprinkling, a word borrowed for Levitical rites; and the first by the washing of the body as under the law. — Ed. By the term full assurance, πληροφορία the Apostle points out the nature of faith, and at the same time reminds us, that the grace of Christ cannot be received except by those who possess a fixed and unhesitating conviction. The sprinkling of the heart from an evil conscience takes place, either when we are, by obtaining pardon, deemed pure before God, or when the heart, cleansed from all corrupt affections, is not stimulated by the goads of the flesh. I am disposed to include both these things. 174174 Πονηρὸς means רע in Hebrew, the evil of sin wicked, and also the effect of sin, miserable It seems to be in the latter sense here; a miserable conscience is one oppressed with guilt. So Grotius and Stuart regard the meaning. It is the same as “consciousness of sin” in verse 2. What seems to be meant is an accusing or guilty conscience, laboring under the pressure of conscious sin. But Doddridge and Scott, like Calvin, combine the two ideas of guilt and pollution; though washing, afterwards mentioned, appears more appropriately to refer to the latter; and forgiveness is what is most commonly connected with the blood of Christ. — Ed What follows, our bodies washed with pure water, is generally understood of baptism; but it seems to me more probable that the Apostle alludes to the ancient ceremonies of the Law; and so by water he designates the Spirit of God, according to what is said by Ezekiel, “I will sprinkle clean water upon you.” (Ezekiel 36:25.) The meaning is, that we are made partakers of Christ, if we come to him, sanctified in body and soul; and yet that this sanctification is not what consists in a visible parade of ceremonies, but that it is from faith, pure conscience, and that cleanness of soul and body which flows from, and is effected by, the Spirit of God. So Paul exhorts the faithful to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, since they had been adopted by God as his children. 175175 See Appendix M 2. (2 Corinthians 7:1.)