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Bible: What Does Hebrews 10:1-25 Teach Us About Christ's Once-For-All Sacrifice?

Updated on August 21, 2016

The Tabernacle

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Hebrews 10--Christ's Once-For-All Sacrifice; The Call to Persevere; The Outcome of Apostasy

The Temporary Nature of OT Sacrifices

Having spoken of “the copies of the things in the heavens,” the author now mentions that the law has “a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things” (v. 1a; cf. 8:5; 9:23).

This “shadow”—the yearly OT sacrifices—can never make worshipers perfect (v. 1b; cf. 9:9).

He argues that if these sacrifices could cleanse worshipers from their sin-consciousness, then obedient believers would no longer need to offer them.

Instead of removing the consciousness of sin, however, the yearly sacrifices remind the worshiper of his sinful condition (vv. 2-3).

The author concludes that animal sacrifices can never take away sins (v. 4).

The Finished Work of the Cross

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Messiah Offered His Body as a Sacrifice for Sin

Transitioning now from the substance of this latter fact (namely, that animal sacrifices cannot remove sins) to Jesus’ part in the scenario, the writer reports that during His first advent Christ cited a prayer from one of David’s Messianic psalms.

In this particular psalm, the Lord acknowledged that Yahweh neither wanted nor accepted “burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin”; nevertheless, He points out that God would regard the sacrifice He had prepared for Him: His body (vv. 5-6; cf. Ps. 40:6-8).

Then the Lord announced what “the volume of the book” had prophesied of Him.

The Messiah had come to do God’s will; that is, offer His body as a sacrifice for sin (v. 7).

[This passage surfaces a few important points and two questions:

(1) Although the gospel writers do not record Jesus ever citing this part of David’s psalm while He was on earth, that fact does not mean that He did not say it.

(2) God took no pleasure in animal sacrifices, yet He did command that the Israelites make them daily and from year to year.

(3) To what roll is Jesus referring which spoke of His submission to do God’s will?

(4) Was David merely prophesying what the Messiah would say about ordinary sacrifices as well as His own, or did what he wrote also hold some historical relevance for him?]

Jesus, the High Priest

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The Sacrifice of the Mass

Do you think the sacrifice of the Mass accomplishes anything toward salvation?

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Jesus' Obedience/His Finished Work of Redemption Provides Total Forgiveness

Next, the author takes time to explain the implication of this passage.

In essence, he avers that Jesus, by first noting the Father’s rejection of animal sacrifices and then submitting Himself to a sacrificial death, discards the old way so that He may institute the new (vv. 8-9).

Jesus’ obedience to the Father’s will in offering His body as a once-for-all sacrifice has enabled the Holy Spirit to set apart believers to God (v. 10).

The writer contrasts the repetitive, daily priestly ministrations that always failed to remove sins with the sacrificial work of Christ that forever washed them away and gained the Son the place of highest honor alongside the Father, where He will wait until all His enemies are made subservient to Him (vv. 11-13).

Christ’s single sacrifice has made the saints eternally complete (“perfect”) [v. 14].

[Jesus has not merely made possible the saints’ redemption through His death; He has fully accomplished and completed it].

Besides the Son, the Holy Spirit also testifies to the total forgiveness of sins.

The author credits Him with revealing the future new covenant through Jeremiah—a covenant which includes God’s promise to impress His laws upon the hearts and minds of believers as well as never to remind His saints of their past sins (vv. 15-17; cf. 8: 10-12; Jer. 31:33-34).

Total forgiveness signifies no need for any more sin offerings (v. 18).

Redemptive Work of Christ Completed?

Has Christ's death merely made salvation possible, or did it forever accomplish redemption?

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Exhortations to Come to Jesus, the Great High Priest

Addressing his audience as “brethren,” the author draws his conclusions from the preceding discussion and exhorts them accordingly.

That is to say, since believers can now confidently approach God by “a new and living way” (the sacrificial offering of Jesus’ body for their sin), and since they now possess a great High Priest presiding over the Church, they should all

(1) come to Him with a true inner life controlled by faith in God, a conscience cleansed from defiling thoughts, and a body dedicated to His service (“washed with pure water”) [v. 22];

(2) maintain a firm understanding of what their faithful God has promised them and hold to it with conviction (v. 23); and

(3) think seriously about how they can stir up one another to demonstrate God’s love through doing good deeds (v. 24).

As local churches, they should not neglect to spend time encouraging one another more and more, especially as they see the Rapture (“the Day”) approaching (v. 25).

© 2013 glynch1

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