Category: Hebrews

The Blood of Jesus and Towards a Recovery of the High Priestly Ministry of Jesus

Explanation of Hebrews 9:24-26              The cleaning of heaven by the blood of Jesus is the turning point of human history. This is what Hebrews 9:26 means when it says that Christ “appeared once for all at the end of the ages.” That expression marks this as the decisive point of history, when God’s redemptive plan comes into full focus as the climax of all history. Before Christ went into the heavens, having died on the cross and been raised from the dead, there was no way for sinners to have fellowship with the holy God. It had promised and symbolized, that is true. That is what the Old Testament Israel was all about, but when the great High Priest entered into heaven with his own saving blood, everything changed forever for those who come to God through Him. His appearing there for His people is the definitive act of history so far as the salvation of sinners is concerned. A right view of history is important to the writer of Hebrews, and to make things perfectly clear, he relates the history of God’s redemptive work on the person history of every person born on earth: “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to...

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The Sufficiency and Superiority of Christ’s High Priestly Ministry

Explanation of Hebrews 8:1-2             The writer of Hebrews focuses not on any earthly ministry— not on believers and not on an earthly priest, but on Jesus Christ in heaven. It is His person and work that the author of Hebrews has been expounding on since the beginning of chapter 7. It was Christ who draws the attention of the reader to verse 1, “The point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest.” The final section of Hebrews 7 served as the climax of a crescendo that had been building throughout the chapter. Now, at the beginning of chapter 8, the author regroups and prepares the reader for the next climb up to a high level still. The chief point the author wants the reader to grasp before moving onward is the superiority of Christ’s priestly ministry in heaven. Chapter seven concludes by saying that Christ “has been made perfect” (v.28). Now Hebrews 8 beings by saying, “We have such a high priest,” that is a perfect one. Whereas the earthly priests of Israel were imperfect Christ is perfect. This speaks both to His sinless person and to His work on earth that accomplished all that was needed for him to be a high priest forever. Jesus was perfect in His person from the start to the finish in his earthly life, but...

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Perseverance and the High Priestly Ministry of Jesus

Explanation of Hebrews 6:20             Jesus has entered the heavenly sanctuary on our behalf. He has gone there as forerunner, a designation found only here in the New Testament but which appears in a variety of athletic and military contexts of the Hellenistic world. In Hebrews, where the term is employed figuratively, the notion of precedence prevails over that of speed. As forerunner Jesus did not simply ‘run on ahead’. Rather he is the ‘precursor’ of believers, the first in a series that follows after him. He has opened up the way behind the curtain (10:19-22) which had been in place until the present time (9:9). He entered the heavenly sanctuary to obtain cleansing for His people (9:12) to represent them in the presence of God (9:24), and to enable them to enter into heaven (10:19-22). Like the earlier title ‘pioneer’, forerunner evokes the image of the movement on the path to heavenly glory (2:10) that believers are called upon to tread following in Christ’s footsteps. Accordingly, this statement in 6:20 explains why hope is able to enter the heavenly sanctuary. Further, Jesus’ entry into the heavenly sanctuary is as His people’s eternal high priest in the order of Melchizedek, an expression that provides a further basis for the assurance of hope mentioned in v.19. Accordingly, Christians can approach God with confidence since Jesus the heavenly high priest has...

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Assurance, Perseverance and the High Priestly Ministry of Jesus

Jesus Christ meets the qualifications to be mediator and high priest to His people. Someone may be qualified for a position without actually having the authority to hold it. Qualification is a prerequisite, but there must be an appointment to the office if the work is to be acceptable and binding. Hebrews 5:4-6 teaches that Jesus is not only qualified to be high priest but that God has also appointed Him to this office. This matter of appointment is important for two reasons: the first is that it determines the way the office is carried out. Verses 4 and 5 make this point, “And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you” A true priest is not one who has acted to elevate himself in the eyes of men or God. A true priest is motivated solely by a desire to honor God and serve men, without concern for personal advancement. Jesus did not come to earth seeking glory for himself but to do the will of his Father in heaven. “If I glorify myself,” he said, “my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me” (John 8:54). Philip Hughes observes....

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Confidence, Perseverance, and the High Priestly Ministry of Jesus

In Hebrews 2:14 the writer says it is “our confession” that Christians must hold fast to. The early church employed theological formulas to express the faithful’s confession, like the Apostle’s Creed. These confessions remind believers that there is true content to their profession of faith. Some people say they are against creeds, but creeds are simply summaries of biblical teaching. The Latin word credo means, “I believe.” It matters what Christians believe– there is content they cannot let go of without letting go of salvation in Christ: things like who Jesus is and what He has done to save His people from their sins. J.C. Ryle explains:  A Religion without doctrine or dogma is a thing which many are fond of talking of in the present day. It sounds very fine at first. It looks very pretty at a distance. But the moment we sit down to examine and consider it, we shall find it a simple impossibility. We might as well talk of a body without bones and sinews. No man will ever be anything or do anything in religion, unless he believes something. No one ever fights earnestly against the world, the flesh and the devil, unless he has engraven on his heart certain great principles which he believes.[1] The writer of Hebrews goes on to give God’s people a doctrinal reason why they are to persevere....

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