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10. Christ's Sacrifice Once for All

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, 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. 2For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 5Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. 8Above 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; 9Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16This 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; 17And their sins and 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 holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21And having an high priest over the house of God; 22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. 26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought 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 hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31 It 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 illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; 33Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. 34For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. 35Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. 36For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. 37For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. 38Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

1. For the Law having a shadow, etc. He has borrowed this similitude from the pictorial art; for a shadow here is in a sense different from what it has in Colossians 2:17; where he calls the ancient rites or ceremonies shadows, because they did not possess the real substance of what they represented. But he now says that they were like rude lineaments, which shadow forth the perfect picture; for painters, before they introduce the living colors by the pencil, are wont to mark out the outlines of what they intend to represent. This indistinct representation is called by the Greeks σκιαγραφία, which you might call in Latin, “umbratilem“, shadowy. The Greeks had also the εἰκὼν, the full likeness. Hence also “eiconia” are called images (imagines) in Latin, which represent to the life the form of men or of animals or of places.

The difference then which the Apostle makes between the Law and the Gospel is this, — that under the Law was shadowed forth only in rude and imperfect lines what is under the Gospel set forth in living colors and graphically distinct. He thus confirms again what he had previously said, that the Law was not useless, nor its ceremonies unprofitable. For though there was not in them the image of heavenly things, finished, as they say, by the last touch of the artist; yet the representation, such as it was, was of no small benefit to the fathers; but still our condition is much more favorable. We must however observe, that the things which were shown to them at a distance are the same with those which are now set before our eyes. Hence to both the same Christ is exhibited, the same righteousness, sanctification, and salvation; and the difference only is in the manner of painting or setting them forth.

Of good things to come, etc. These, I think, are eternal things. I indeed allow that the kingdom of Christ, which is now present with us, was formerly announced as future; but the Apostle’s words mean that we have a lively image of future blessings. He then understands that spiritual pattern, the full fruition of which is deferred to the resurrection and the future world. At the same time I confess again that these good things began to be revealed at the beginning of the kingdom of Christ; but what he now treats of is this, that they are not only future blessings as to the Old Testament, but also with respect to us, who still hope for them.

Which they offered year by year, etc. He speaks especially of the yearly sacrifice, mentioned in Leviticus 16, though all the sacrifices are here included under one kind. Now he reasons thus: When there is no longer any consciousness of sin, there is then no need of sacrifice; but under the Law the offering of the same sacrifice was often repeated; then no satisfaction was given to God, nor was guilt removed nor were consciences appeased; were it otherwise there would have been made an end of sacrificing. We must further carefully observe, that he calls those the same sacrifices which were appointed for a similar purpose; for a better notion may be formed of them by the design for which God instituted them, than by the different beasts which were offered.

And this one thing is abundantly sufficient to confute and expose the subtlety of the Papists, by which they seem to themselves ingeniously to evade an absurdity in defending the sacrifice of the mass; for when it is objected to them that the repetition of the sacrifice is superfluous, since the virtue of that sacrifice which Christ offered is perpetual, they immediately reply that the sacrifice in the mass is not different but the same. This is their answer. But what, on the contrary, does the Apostle say? He expressly denies that the sacrifice which is repeatedly offered, though the same, is efficacious or capable of making an atonement. Now, though the Papists should cry out a thousand times that the sacrifice which Christ once offered is the same with, and not different from what they make daily, I shall still always contend, according to the express words of the Apostle, that since the offerings of Christ availed to pacify God, not only an end was put to former sacrifices, but that it is also impious to repeat the sacrifice. It is hence quite evident that the offering of Christ in the mass is sacrilegious. 164164     No remark is made on the second verse. Doddridge and Beza read the first clause without negative οὐκ and not as a question, according to the Vulg. And the Syr. Versions, “Otherwise they would have ceased to be offered.” Most MSS. favor our present reading. There is no real difference in the meaning.
   The words, “no more conscience of sins,” are rendered by Beza, “no more conscious of sins;” by Doddridge, “no more consciousness of sins;” and by Stuart, “no longer conscious of sins.” The true meaning is no doubt thus conveyed. We meet with two other instances of conscience, συνειδήσης, being followed by what may be called the genitive case of the object, “conscience of the idol,” i.e., as to the idol, 1 Corinthians 8:7, — “conscience of God,” i.e., as to God, or towards God, 1 Peter 2:19. And here, “conscience of sins,” must mean conscience with reference to sins, i.e., conviction of sins, a conscience apprehensive of what sins deserve. It is a word, says Parkhurst, which “is rarely found in the ancient heathen writers;” but it occurs often in the New Testament, though not but once in the Sept., Ecclesiastes 10:20. Its common meaning is conscience, and not consciousness, though it may be so rendered here, consistently with the real meaning of the passage. Michaelis in his Introduction to the New Testament, is referred to by Parkhurst, as having produced two instances, one from Philo, and the other from Diod. Siculus, in which it means “consciousness.” — Ed

3. A remembrance again, etc. Though the Gospel is a message of reconciliation with God, yet it is necessary that we should daily remember our sins; but what the Apostle means is, that sins were brought to remembrance that guilt might be removed by the means of the sacrifice then offered. It is not, then, any kind of remembrance that is here meant, but that which might lead to such a confession of guilt before God, as rendered a sacrifice necessary for its removal.

Such is the sacrifice of the mass with the Papists; for they pretend that by it the grace of God is applied to us in order that sins may be blotted out. But since the Apostle concludes that the sacrifices of the Law were weak, because they were every year repeated in order to obtain pardon, for the very same reason it may be concluded that the sacrifice of Christ was weak, if it must be daily offered, in order that its virtue may be applied to us. With whatever masks, then, they may cover their mass, they can never escape the charge of an atrocious blasphemy against Christ.


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