Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and a bullock for the sin offering, and two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread;
~ Leviticus 8:2
And he brought the people’s offering, and took the goat, which was the sin offering for the people, and slew it, and offered it for sin, as the first.
~ Leviticus 9:15
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
~ Hebrews 1:3
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
~ Acts 20:28
But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:
~ Hebrews 9:7
For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
~ Hebrews 9:26
By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
~ Hebrews 10:10
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
~ Hebrews 5:9
And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
~ 1 Thessalonians 1:10
A Commentary of Hebrews 9:12, by John Owen. The following contains an except from his work.
From the comparison between the tabernacle of old and that of the high priest of the new covenant, there is a procedure in this verse unto another, between his sacerdotal actings and those of the high priest under the ,law. And whereas, in the description of the tabernacle and its especial services, the apostle had insisted in a peculiar manner on the entrance of the high priest every year into the most holy place, which was the most solemn and most mystical part of the tabernacle service, in the first place he gives an account of what answered thereunto in the sacerdotal administrations of Christ; and how much on all accounts, both of the sacrifice in the virtue whereof he entered into the most holy place, and of the place itself whereinto he entered, and of the time when, it did in glory and efficacy excel that service of the high priest under the law.
Hebrews 9:12 . Οὐδὲ δι᾿ αἵματος τράγων καὶ μόσχων , διὰ δὲ τοῦ ἰδίου αἵματος εἰσῆλθεν ἐφάπαξ εἰς τὰ ἅγια , αἰωνίαν λύτρωσιν εὐράμενος .
Διὰ δὲ τοῦ ἰδίου αἵματος . Syr., בַּדְמָא דְּנַפְשֵׁהּ , “by the blood of his own soul” or “life.” He made his soul an offering for sin, Isaiah 53:10. Blood is the life of the sacrifice. ᾿Εφάπαξ . Syr., חֲדָא זְבַן , “one time;” not many times, not once every year, as they did under the law. Εἰς τὰ ἅγια .
Syr., . לְבֵית מַקְדְשָׁה , “into the house of the sanctuary;” less properly, for by that expression’the old tabernacle is intended, but the apostle respects heaven itself. “In sancta,” “sancta sanctorum,’ “sacrarium;” that which answers unto the most holy place in the tabernacle, where was the throne of God, the ark and mercy-seat. Αἰωνίαν . Vulg., “aeterna redemptione inventa;” “aeternam redemptionem nactus;” “aeterna redemptione acquisita;” most properly, and according unto the use of the word in all good authors.
Hebrews 9:12 . Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the ( most ) holy place, having obtained eternal redemption.
In this verse there is a direct entrance into the great mystery of the sacerdotal actings of Christ, especially as unto the sacrifice he offered to make atonement tot sin. But the method which the apostle proceedeth in is what he was led unto by the proposal he had made of the types of it under the law; wherefore he begins with the complement or consequent of it, in answer unto that act or duty of the high priest wherein the glory of his office was most conspicuous, which he had newly mentioned.
And here, because part of our design in the exposition of this whole epistle is to free and vindicate the sense of it from the corrupt glosses which the Socinians, and some that follow them, have cast upon it, I shall on this great head of the sacrifice of Christ particularly insist on the removal of them. And indeed the substance of all that is scattered up and down their writings against the proper sacrifice of Christ, and the true nature of his sacerdotal office, is comprised in the comment on this epistle composed by Crellius and Schlichtingius I shall therefore first examine their corrupt wrestings of the words and false interpretations of them, before. I proceed unto their exposition.
They begin, “Nunc etiam opponit sacrificium ipsius Christi, sacrificio pontificis antiqui.” This is the πρῶτον ψεῦδος , of their interpretation of this and the following verses. If this be not so, all that they afterwards assert, or infer from it, falls of itself. But this is most false. There is not any thing directly either of the sacrifice of Christ or of the high priest, but only what was consequent unto the one and the other; yea, there is that which excludes them from being intended. The entrance of the high priest into the holy place was not his sacrifice. For it supposed his sacrifice to be offered before, in the virtue whereof, and with the memorial of it, he so entered; that is, with “the blood of goats and calves.” For all sacrifices were offered at the brazen altar; and that of the high priest on the day of expiation is expressly declared so to have been, Leviticus 16:0. And the entrance of Christ into heaven was not his sacrifice, nor the oblation of himself. For he offered himself unto God with strong cries and supplications; but his entrance into heaven was triumphant. So he entered into heaven by virtue of his sacrifice, as we shall see; but his entrance into heaven was not the sacrifice of himself.
They add in explication hereof:
“Pontifex antiquus per sanguinem hircorum et vitulorum ingrediebatur in sancta, Christus vero non per sanguinem tam vilem, seal pretiosissimum; quod alius esse non potuit quam ipsius proprius. Nam sanguis quidem humanus sanguine brutorum, sed sanguis Christi, sanguine caeterorum omnium hominum longe est pretiosior; cum ipse quoque caeteris hominibus omnibus imo omnibus creaturis longe sit praestantior, Deoque charior et proprior, utpote unigenitus eius Filius.”
What they say of the “preciousness of the blood of Christ” above that of brute creatures, is true; but they give two reasons for it, which comprise not the true reason of its excellency as unto the ends of his sacrifice:
1. They say, it was “the blood of a man.”
2. That “this man was more dear to God than all other creatures, as his only-begotten Son.” Take these last words in the sense of the Scripture, and the true reason of the preciousness and efficacy of the blood of Christ in his sacrifice is assigned; take them in their sense, and it is excluded. The Scripture by them intends his eternal generation, as the Son of the Father; they, only his nativity of the blessed Virgin, with his exaltation after his resurrection. But the true excellency and efficacy of the blood of Christ in his sacrifice was from his divine person, whereby “God purchased his church with his own blood,” Acts 20:28.
Nor do I know of what consideration the “preciousness” of the blood of Christ can be with them in this matter; for it belonged not unto his sacrifice, or the oblation of himself, as they pretend. For they would have the offering of himself to consist only in his entrance into heaven, and appearing in the presence of God, when, as they also imagine, he had neither flesh nor blood.
They proceed unto a speculation about the use and signification of the preposition per, by, or διά :
“Notandum est auctorem, ut ele-gantiae istius comparationis consuleret, usum esse in priori membro voce, ‘per;’licet pontifex legalis non tantum per sanguinem hircorum et vitulorum, hoc est, fuso prius sanguine istorum animalium, seu interveniente sanguinis eorum fusione, sed etism cum ipsorum sanguine in sancta fuerit ingressus, Hebrews 9:7. Verum quia in Christi sacrificio similitudo eousque extendi non potuit, cum Christus non alienum sed suum sanguinem fuderit, nec sanguinem suum post mortem, sed seipsum, et quidem jam immortalem, depositis carnis et sanguinis exuviis, quippe quae regnum Dei possidere nequeant, in coelesti illo tabernaculo obtulerit; proindeque non cum sanguine, sed tantum fuso prius sanguine, seu interveniente sanguinis sui fusione in sancta fuerit ingressus; idcirco auctor minus de legali pontifice dixit quam res erat; vel potius ambiguitate particulae, ‘per,’quae etiam idem quod ‘cum,’in sacris literis significare solet, comparationis concinnitati consulere voluit.”
The design of this whole discourse is to overthrow the nature of the sacrifice of Christ, and to destroy all the real similitude between it and the sacrifice of the high priest; the whole of its sophistry being animated by a fancied signification of the preposition “per,” or falsely-pretended reason of the use of it by the apostle. For,
1. The high priest did indeed carry of the blood of the sacrifice into the holy place, and so may be said to enter into it with blood; as it is said he did it “not without blood,” Hebrews 9:7: yet is it not that which the apostle hath here respect unto; but it is the sacrifice at the altar, where the blood of it was shed and offered, which he intends, as we shall see immediately.
2. There is therefore nothing less ascribed unto the high priest herein than belonged unto him; for all that is intended is, that he entered into the holy place by virtue of the blood of goats and calves which was offered at the altar. Less than his due is not ascribed unto him, to make the comparison fit and meet, as is boldly pretended. Yea,
3. The nature of the comparison used by the apostle is destroyed by this artifice; especially if it be considered as a mere comparison, and not as the relation that was between the type and the antitype; for that is the nature of the comparison that the apostle makes between the entrance of the high priest into the holy place and the entrance of Christ into heaven. That there may be such a comparison, that there may be such a relation between these things, it is needful that they should really agree in that wherein they are compared, and not by force or artifice be fitted to make some kind of resemblance the one of the other. For it is to no purpose to compare things together which disagree in all things; much less can such things be the types one of another. Wherefore the apostle declares and allows a treble dissimilitude in the comparates, or between the type and the antitype: for Christ entered by his own blood, the high priest by the blood of goats and calves; Christ only once, the high priest every year; Christ into heaven, the high priest into the tabernacle made with hands. But in other things he confirms a similitude between them; namely, in the entrance of the high priest into the holy place by the blood of his sacrifice, or with it. But by these men this is taken away, and so no ground of any comparison left; only the apostle makes use of an ambiguous word, to frame an appearance of some similitude in the things compared, whereas indeed there is none at all! For unto these ends he says, “by the blood,” whereas he ought to have said, “with the blood.” But if he had said so, there would have been no appearance of any similitude between the things compared. For they allow not Christ to enter into the holy place by or with his own blood in any sense; not by virtue of it as offered in sacrifice for us, nor to make application of it unto us in the fruits of his oblation for us. And what similitude is there between the high priest entering into the holy place by the blood of the sacrifice that he had offered, and the Lord Christ entering into heaven without his own blood, or any respect unto the virtue of it as offered in sacrifice?
4. This notion of the sacrifice or oblation of Christ to consist only in his appearance in heaven without flesh or blood, as they speak, overthrows all the relation of types or representations between it and the sacrifices of old. Nay, on that supposition, they were suited rather to deceive the church than instruct it in the nature of the great expiatory sacrifice that was to be made by Christ. For the universal testimony of them all was, that atonement and expiation of sin was to be made by blood, and no otherwise; but according unto these men, Christ offered not himself unto God for the expiation of our sins until he had neither flesh nor blood.
5. They say, it is true, he offered himself in heaven, “fuse prius sanguine.” But it is an order of time, and not of causality, which they intend. His blood was shed before, but therein, they say, was no part of his offering or sacrifice. But herein they expressly contradict the Scripture and themselves. It is by the offering of Christ that our sins are expiated, and redemption obtained. This the Scripture doth so expressly declare as that they cannot directly deny it. But these things are constantly ascribed unto the blood of Christ, and the shedding of it; and yet they would have it that Christ offered himself then only, when he had neither flesh nor blood.
They increase this confusion in their ensuing discourse:
“Aliter enim ex parte Christi res sese habuit, quam in illo antique. In antique illo, ut in aliis quae pro peccato lege divina constituta erant, non offerebatur ipsum animal mactatum, hoc est, nec in odorem suavitatis, ut Scriptura loquitur, adolebatur, sod renes ejus et adeps tantum; nec inferebatur in sancta, sed illius sanguis tantum. In Christi autem sacrificio, non sanguis ipsius quem mactatus effudit, sod ipse offerri, et in illa sancta coelestia ingredi debuit. Idcirco infra Hebrews 9:14, dicitur, seipsum, non vero sanguinem suum Deo obtulisse; licet alias comparatio cum sacrificiis expiatoriis postulare videretur, ut hoc posterius potius doceretur.”
1. Here they fully declare, that, according to their notion, there was indeed no manner of similitude between the things compared, but that, as to what they are compared in, they were opposite, and had no agreement at all. The ground of the comparison in the apostle is, that they were both by blood, and this alone. For herein he allows a dissimilitude, in that Christ’s was “by his own blood, ” that of the high priest “by the blood of goats and calves. ” But according unto the sense of these men, herein consists the difference between them, that the one was with blood, and the other without it; which is expressly contradictory to the apostle.
2. What they observe of the sacrifices of old, that not the bodies of them, but only the kidneys and fat were burned, and the blood only carried into the holy place, is neither true nor any thing to their purpose. For,
(1.) The whole bodies of the expiatory sacrifices were burnt and consumed with fire; and this was done without the camp, Leviticus 16:27, to signify the suffering of Christ, and therein the offering of his body without the city, as the apostle observes, Hebrews 13:11-12
(2.) They allow of no use of the blood in sacrifices, but only as to the carrying of it into the holy place: which is expressly contradictory unto the main end of the institution of expiatory sacrifices; for it was that by their blood atonement should he made on the altar, Leviticus 17:11. Wherefore there is no relation of type and antitype, no similitude for a ground of comparison between the sacrifice of Christ and that of the high priest, if it was not made by his blood.
(3.) Their observation, that in verse 14 the Lord Christ is said to offer himself, and not to offer his blood, is of no value. For in the offering of his blood Christ offered himself, or he offered himself by the offering of his blood; his person giving the efficacy of a sacrifice unto what he offered. And this is undeniably asserted in that very verse. For the “purging of our consciences from dead works,” is the expiation of sin; but Christ, even according to the Socinians, procured the expiation of sin by the offering of himself; yet is this here expressly assigned unto his blood, “How much more shall the blood of Christ purge your conscience from dead works?” Wherefore in the offering of himself he offered his blood.
They add, as the exposition of these words, “He entered into the holiest;”
“Ingressus in sancta, necessario ad sacrificium istud requiritur. Nec anteoblatio, in qua sacrificii ratio potissimum consistit, peragi potuit, cum ea in sanctis ipsis fieri debuerit. Hinc manifestum est pontificis nostri oblationem et sacrificium non in truce, sed in coelis peractam esse, et adhuc peragi.”
Ans. 1. What they say at first is true; but what they intend and infer from thence is false. It is true that the entrance into the holy place, and carrying of the blood in thither, did belong unto the anniversary sacrifice intended; for God had prescribed that order unto its consummation and complement. But that the sacrifice or oblation did consist therein is false; for it is directly affirmed that both the bullock and goat for the sin-offering were offered before it, at the altar, Leviticus 16:6; Leviticus 16:9.
2. It doth not therefore hence follow, as is pretended, that the Lord Christ offered not himself a sacrifice unto God on the earth, but did so in heaven only; but the direct contrary doth follow. For the blood of the sin-offering was offered on the altar, before it was carried into the holy place; which was the type of Christ’s entrance into heaven.
3. What they say, that the sacrifice of Christ was performed or offered in heaven, and is yet so offered, utterly overthrows the whole nature of his sacrifice. For the apostle everywhere represents that to consist absolutely in one offering, once offered, not repeated or continued. Herein lies the foundation of all his arguments for its excellency and efficacy. Hereof the making of it to be nothing but a continued act of power in heaven, as is done by them, is utterly destructive.
What they add in the same place about the nature of redemption, will be removed in the consideration of it immediately. In the close of the whole they affirm, that the obtaining of everlasting salvation by Christ was not an act antecedent unto his entering into heaven, as the word seems to import, εὐράμενος , “having obtained;” but it was done by his entrance itself into that holy place; whence they would rather read the word εὐράμενος in the present tense, “obtaining.” But whereas our redemption is everywhere constantly in the Scripture assigned unto the blood of Christ, and that alone, Ephesians 1:7; Col 1:14 ; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Revelation 5:9, “Hast redeemed us unto God by thy blood,” it is too great a confidence, to confine this work unto his entrance into heaven, without any offering of his blood, and when he had no blood to offer. And in this place, the “redemption obtained” is the same upon the matter with the “purging of our consciences from dead works,” Hebrews 9:14, which is ascribed directly unto his blood.
These glosses being removed, I shall proceed unto the exposition of the words.
The apostle hath a double design in this verse and those two that follow:
1. To declare the dignity of the person of Christ in the discharge of his priestly office above the high priest of old. And this he doth,
(1.) From the excellency of his sacrifice, which was his own blood;
(2.) The holy place whereinto he entered by virtue of it, which was heaven itself; and,
(3.) The effect of it, in that by it be procured eternal redemption:
which he doth in this verse.
2. To prefer the efficacy of this sacrifice of Christ for the purging of sin, or the purification of sinners, above all the sacrifices and ordinances of the law, Hebrews 9:13-14.
In this verse, with respect unto the end mentioned, the entrance of Christ into the holy place, in answer unto that of the legal high priest, described Hebrews 9:7, is declared. And it is so,
1. As unto the way or means of it;
2. As unto its season
3. As unto its effect: in all which respects Christ was manifested in and by it to be fax more excellent than the legal high priest.
1. The manner and way of it is expressed,
(1.) Negatively; it was “not by the blood of goats and calves.”
(2.) Positively; it was “by his own blood.”
2. For the time of it, it was “once,” and but once.
3. The effect of that blood of his, as offered in sacrifice, was, that he “obtained” thereby “eternal redemption.”
The thing asserted is the entrance of Christ, the high priest, into the holy place. That he should do so was necessary, both to answer the type and for the rendering his sacrifice effectual in the application of the benefits of it unto the church, as it is afterwards declared at large. And I shall open the words, not in the order wherein they lie in the text, but in the natural order of the things themselves. And we must show,
1. What is the holy place whereinto Christ entered.
2. What was that entrance.
3. How he did it once; whereon will follow,
4. The consideration of the means whereby he did it,
5. With the effect of that means:
1. For the place whereinto he entered, it is said he did so εἰς τὰ ἅγια , “into the holies.” It is the same word whereby he expresseth the “sanctuary,” the second part of the tabernacle, whereinto the high priest entered once a-year. But in the application of it unto Christ, the signification of it is changed. He had nothing to do with, he had no right to enter into that holy place, as the apostle affirms, Hebrews 8:4. That, therefore, he intends which was signified thereby; that is, heaven itself, as he explains it in Hebrews 9:24. The heaven of heavens, the place of the glorious residence of the presence or majesty of God, is that whereinto he entered.
2. His entrance itself into this place is asserted: “He entered.” This entrance of Christ into heaven upon his ascension may be considered two ways:
(1.) As it was regal, glorious and triumphant; so it belonged properly unto his kingly office, as that wherein he triumphed over all the enemies of the church. See it described, Ephesians 4:8-10, from Psalms 68:18. Satan, the world, death, and hell, being conquered, and all power committed unto him, he entered triumphantly into heaven. So it was regal
(2.) As it was sacerdotal. Peace and reconciliation being made by the blood of the cross, the covenant being confirmed, eternal redemption obtained, he entered as our high priest into the holy place, the temple of God above, to make his sacrifice effectual unto the church, and to apply the benefits of it thereunto.
3. This he did “once” only, “once for all.” In the foregoing description of the service of the high priest, he shows how he went into the holy place “once every year;” that is, on one day, wherein he went to offer. And the repetition of this service every year proved its imperfection, seeing it could never accomplish perfectly that whereunto it was designed, as he argues in the next chapter. In opposition hereunto, our high priest entered once only into the holy place; a full demonstration that his one sacrifice had fully expiated the sins of the church.
4. Of this entrance of Christ it is said,
(1.) Negatively, that he did not do it “by the blood of goats and calves.” And this is introduced with the disjunctive negative, οὐδέ , “neither;” which refers unto what was before denied of him, as unto his entrance into the tabernacle made with hands. ‘He did not do so, neither did he make his entrance by the blood of goats and calves’A difference from and opposition unto the entrance of the high priest annually into the holy place is intended. It must therefore be considered how he so entered.
This entrance is at large described, Leviticus 16:0. And,
(1.) It was by the blood of a bullock and a goat, which the apostle here renders in the plural number, “goats and calves,” because of the annual repetition of the same sacrifice.
(2.) The order of the institution was, that first the bullock or calf was offered, then the goat; the one for the priest, the other for the people. This order belonging not at all unto the purpose of the apostle, he expresseth it otherwise, “goats and calves.”
Τράγος is a “goat;” a word that expresseth “totum genus caprinum,” that whole kind of creature, be it young or old. So the goats of his offering were שְׂעִירֵי , “kids,” Hebrews 9:5; that is, young he-goats, for the precise time of their age is not determined. So the bullock the priest offered for himself was פַר , “juvencus ex genere bovino;” which is μόσχος , for it expresseth “genus vitulinum,” all young cattle. Concerning these it is intimated, in this negative as unto Christ, that the high priest entered into the holy place δι᾿ αἵματος , “by their blood;” which we must inquire into.
Two things belonged unto the office of the high priest, with respect unto this blood. For,
(1.) He was to offer the blood both of the bullock and the goat at the altar for a sin-offering, Leviticus 16:9; Leviticus 16:11. For it was the blood wherewith alone atonement was to be made for sin, and that at the altar, Leviticus 17:11; so far is it from truth that expiation for sin was made only in the holy place, and that it is so by Christ without blood, as the Socinians imagine.
(2.) He was to carry some of the blood of the sacrifice into the sanctuary, to sprinkle it there, to make atonement for the holy place, in the sense before declared. And the inquiry is, which of these the apostle hath respect unto.
Some say it is the latter; and that δυά here is put for σύν , “ by” for “with.” He entered with the blood of goats and calves; namely, that which he carried with him into the holy place. So plead the Socinians and those that follow them, with design to overthrow the sacrifice which Christ offered in his death and bloodshedding, confining the whole expiation of sin, in their sense of it, unto what is done in heaven. But I have before disproved this surmise. And the apostle is so far from using the particle
διά improperly for σὺν , so to frame a comparison between things wherein indeed there was no similitude, as they dream, that he useth it on purpose to exclude the sense which σὺν , “with,” would intimate: for he doth not declare with what the high priest entered into the holy place, for he entered with incense as well as with blood; but what it was by virtue whereof he so entered as to be accepted with God. So it is expressly directed, Leviticus 16:2-3,
“Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place…. With a young bullock for a sin-offering, and a ram for a burnt-offering, shall he come.”
Aaron was not to bring the bullock into the holy place, but he had right to enter into it by the sacrifice of it at the altar. Thus, therefore, the high priest entered into the holy place by the blood of goats and calves; namely, by virtue of the sacrifice of their blood which he had offered without at the altar. And so all things do exactly correspond between the type and the antitype. For,
(2.) It is affirmed positively of him that “he entered by his own blood,” and that in opposition unto the other way; διὰ δὲ τοῦ ἰδίου αἵματος ( δέ for ἀλλά ), “ but by his own blood.”
It is a vain speculation, contrary to the analogy of faith, and destructive or the true nature of the oblation of Christ, and inconsistent with the dignity of his person, that he should carry with him into heaven a part of that material blood which was shed for us on the earth. This some have invented, to maintain a comparison in that wherein is none intended. The design of the apostle is only to declare by virtue of what he entered as a priest into the holy place. And this was by virtue of his own blood when it was shed, when he offered himself unto God. This was that which laid the foundation of, and gave him right unto the administration of his priestly office in heaven. And hereby were all those good things procured which he effectually communicates unto us in and by that administration.
This exposition is the center of all gospel mysteries, the object of the admiration of angels and men unto all eternity. What heart can conceive, what tongue can express, the wisdom, grace, and love, that are contained therein? This alone is the stable foundation of faith in our access unto God. Two things present themselves unto us:
(1.) The unspeakable love of Christ in offering himself and his own blood for us. See Galatians 2:20; Revelation 1:5; 1 John 3:16; Ephesians 5:25-27. There being no other way whereby our sins might be purged and expiated, Hebrews 10:5-7, out of his infinite love and grace he condescended unto this way, whereby God might be glorified, and his church sanctified and saved. It were well if we did always consider aright what love, what thankfulness, what obedience, are due unto him on the account hereof.
(2.) The excellency and efficacy of his sacrifice is hereby demonstrated, that through him our faith and hope may be in God. He who offered this sacrifice was “the only-begotten of the Father,” the eternal Son of God. That which he offered was “his own blood.” “God purchased his church with his own blood,” Acts 20:28. How unquestionable, how perfect must the atonement be that was thus made! how glorious the redemption that was procured thereby
5. This is that which the apostle mentions in the close of this verse as the effect of his blood-shedding, “Having obtained eternal redemption.” The word εὐράμενος is variously rendered, as we have seen. The Vulgar Latin reads, “redemptione aeterna inventa.” And those that follow it do say that things rare, and so sought after, are said to be found. And Chrysostom inclines unto that notion of the word. But εὐρίσκω is used in all good authors, for not only “to find,” but “to obtain” by our endeavors. So do we it, and so we ought to do, Romans 4:1; Hebrews 4:16. He obtained effectually eternal redemption by the price of his blood. And it is mentioned in a tense denoting the time past, to signify that he had thus obtained eternal redemption before he entered into the holy place. How he obtained it we shall see in the consideration of the nature of the thing itself that was obtained.
Three things must be inquired into, with what brevity we can, for the explication of these words:
(1.) What is “ redemption; ”
(2.) Why is this redemption called “eternal;”
(3.) How Christ” obtained ” it.
(1.) All redemption respects a state of bondage and captivity, with all the events that do attend it. The object of it, or those to be redeemed, are only persons in that estate. There is mention, verse 15, of “the redemption of transgressions,” but it is by a metonymy of the cause for the effect. It is transgression which cast men into that state from whence they are to be redeemed. But both in the Scripture and in the common notion of the word, “redemption” is the deliverance of persons from a state of bondage. And this may be done two ways:
(1.) By power;
(2.) By payment of a price.
That which is in the former way is only improperly and metaphorically so called. For it is in its own nature a bare deliverance, and is termed “redemption” only with respect to the state of captivity from whence it is a deliverance. It is a vindication into liberty by any means. So the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, though wrought merely by acts of power, is called their redemption. And Moses, from his ministry in that work, is called λυτρωτής , a “redeemer,” Acts 7:35. But this redemption is only metaphorically so called, with respect unto the state of bondage wherein the people were. That which is properly so is by a price paid, as a valuable consideration. Λύτρον is a “ransom,” a price of redemption. Thence are λύτρωσις , ἀπολύτρωσις , λυτρωτής , “redemption” and a “redeemer.” So the redemption that is by Christ is everywhere said to be a “price,” a “ ransom. ” See Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; 1Co 6:20 ; 1 Timothy 2:6; 1 Peter 1:18-19. It is the deliverance of persons out of a state of captivity and bondage, by the payment of a valuable price or ransom. And the Socinians offer violence not only to the Scripture, but to common sense itself, when they contend that the redemption which is constantly affirmed to be by a price is metaphorical, and that only proper which is by power.
The price or ransom in this redemption is two ways expressed:
(1.) By that which gave it its worth and value, that it might be a sufficient ransom for all;
(2.) By its especial nature.
The first is the person of Christ himself: “He gave himself for us,”
Galatians 2:20; “He gave himself a ransom for all,” 1 Timothy 2:6; “He offered himself to God,” Hebrews 9:14; Ephesians 5:2. This was that which made the ransom of an infinite value, meet to redeem the whole church. “God purchased the church with his own blood,” Acts 20:28. The especial nature of it is, that it was by blood, “by his own blood.” See Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:18-19. And this blood of Christ was a ransom, or price of redemption, partly from the invaluableness of that obedience which he yielded unto God in the shedding of it; and partly because this ransom was also to be an atonement, as it was offered unto God in sacrifice. For it is by blood, and no otherwise, that atonement is made, Leviticus 17:11. Wherefore he is “set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood,” Romans 3:24-25.
That the Lord Jesus Christ did give himself a ransom for sin; that he did it in the shedding of his blood for us, wherein he made his soul an offering for sin; that herein and hereby he made atonement, and expiated our sins; and that all these things belong unto our redemption, is the substance of the gospel. That this redemption is nothing but the expiation of sin, and that expiation of sin nothing but an act of power and authority in Christ now in heaven, as the Socinians dream, is to reject the whole gospel
Though the nature of this redemption be usually spoken unto, yet we must not here wholly put it by. And the nature of it will appear in the consideration of the state from whence we are redeemed, with the causes of it:
(1.) The meritorious cause of it was sin, or our original apostasy from God. Hereby we lost our primitive liberty, with all the rights and privileges thereunto belonging.
(2.) The supreme efficient cause is God himself. As the ruler and judge of all, he cast all apostates into a state of captivity and bondage; for liberty is nothing but peace with him. But he did it with this difference: sinning angels he designed to leave irrecoverably under this condition; for mankind he would find a ransom.
(3.) The instrumental cause of it was the curse of the law. This falling on men brings them into a state of bondage. For it separates as to all relation of love and peace between God and them, and gives life unto all the actings of sin and death; wherein the misery of that state consists. To be separate from God, to be under the power of sin and death, is to be in bondage.
(4.) The external cause, by the application of all other causes unto the souls and consciences of men, is Satan. His was the power of darkness, his the power of death over men in that state and condition; that is, to make application of the terror of it unto their souls, as threatened in the curse, Hebrews 2:14-15. Hence he appears as the head of this state of bondage, and men are in captivity unto him. He is not so in himself, but as the external application of the causes of bondage is committed unto him.
From hence it is evident that four things are required unto that redemption which is a deliverance by price or ransom from this state. For,
(1.) It must be by such a ransom as whereby the guilt of sin is expiated; which was the meritorious cause of our captivity. Hence it is called “the redemption of transgressions,” verse 15; that is, of persons from that state and condition whereinto they were cast by sin or transgression.
(2.) Such as wherewith in respect of God atonement must be made, and satisfaction unto his justice, as the supreme ruler and judge of all. (3.) Such as whereby the curse of the law might be removed; which could not be without undergoing of it.
(4.) Such as whereby the power of Satan might be destroyed. How all this was done by the blood of Christ, I have at large declared elsewhere.
(2.) This redemption is said to be “eternal.” And it is so on many accounts:
(1.) Of the subject-matter of it, which are things eternal; none of them are carnal or temporal. The state of bondage from which we are delivered by it in all its causes was spiritual, not temporal; and the effects of it, in liberty, grace, and glory, are eternal.
(2.) Of its duration. It was not for a season, like that of the people out of Egypt, or the deliverances which they had afterwards under the judges, and on other occasions. They endured in their effects only for a season, and afterwards new troubles of the same kind overtook them. But this was eternal in all the effects of it; none that are partakers of it do ever return into a state of bondage. So,
(3.) It endures in those effects unto all eternity in heaven itself.
(3.) This redemption Christ obtained by “his blood.” Having done all in the sacrifice of himself that was, in the justice, holiness, and wisdom of God, required thereunto, it was wholly in his power to confer all the benefits and effects of it on the church, on them that do believe. And sundry things we may observe from this verse.
Obs. 1. The entrance of our Lord Jesus Christ as our high priest into heaven, to appear in the presence of God for us, and to save us thereby unto the uttermost, was a thing so great and glorious as could not be accomplished but by his own blood. No other sacrifice was sufficient unto this end: “Not by the blood of bulls and goats.” The reason hereof the apostle declares at large, Hebrews 10:4-10. Men seldom rise in their thoughts unto the greatness of this mystery; yea, with the most, this “blood of the covenant,” wherewith he was sanctified unto the remainder of his work, is a common thing. The rain of Christian religion lies in the slight thoughts of men about the blood of Christ; and pernicious errors do abound in opposition unto the true nature of the sacrifice which he made thereby. Even the faith of the best is weak and imperfect as to the comprehension of the glory of it. Our relief is, that the uninterrupted contemplation of it will be a part of our blessedness unto eternity. But yet whilst we are here, we can neither understand how great is the salvation which is tendered unto us thereby, nor be thankful for it, without a due consideration of the way whereby the Lord Christ entered into the holy place. And he will be the most humble and most fruitful Christian whose faith is most exercised, most conversant about it.
Obs. 2. Whatever difficulties lay in the way of Christ, as unto the accomplishment and perfection of the work of our redemption, he would not decline them, nor desist from his undertaking, whatever it cost him. “Sacrifice and burnt-offering thou wouldest not have; then said I, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.” He made his way into the holy place by his own blood. What was required of him for us, that we might be saved, he would not decline, though never so great and dreadful; and surely we ought not to decline what he requires of us, that he may be honored.
Obs. 3. There was a holy place meet to receive the Lord Christ after the sacrifice of himself, and a suitable reception for such a person, after so glorious a performance. It was a place of great glory and beauty whereinto the high priest of old entered by the blood of calves and goats; the visible pledges of the presence of God were in it, whereunto no other person might approach. But our high priest was not to enter into any holy place made with hands, unto outward, visible pledges of the presence of God, but into the heaven of heavens, the place of the glorious residence of the majesty of God itself.
Obs. 4. If the Lord Christ entered not into the holy place until he had finished his work, we may not expect an entrance thereinto until we have finished ours. He fainted not, nor waxed weary, until all was finished; and it is our duty to arm ourselves with the same mind.
Obs. 5. It must be a glorious effect which had so glorious a cause; and so it was, even “eternal redemption.”
Obs. 6. The nature of our redemption, the way of its procurement, with the duties required of us with respect thereunto, are greatly to be considered by us.