24. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
24. Neque enim in manufacta sancta ingressus est Christus, exempla verorum; sed in ipsum coelum, ut nunc appareat coram facie Dei pro nobis:
25. Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
25. Neque ut saepe offerat seipsum, quemadmodum pontifex ingeditur in sancta quotannis cum sanguine aliena;
26. 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.
26. (Quando quidem oportuisset illum saepius pati a creatione mundi:) nunc autem in consummatione seculorum, semel in destructionem peccati per victimam sui ipsius apparuit.
27. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
27. Et quatenus constitutum est hominibus semel mori, post hoc vero judicium;
28. So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
28. Ita et Christus semel oblatus, ut multorum anferret peccata: secundo absque peccato conspicietur iis qui eum expectant in salutem.
24. For Christ is not entered, etc. This is a confirmation of the former verse. He had spoken of the true sanctuary, even the heavenly; he now adds that Christ entered there. It hence follows that a suitable confirmation is required. The holy places he takes for the sanctuary; he says that it is not made with hands, because it ought not to be classed with the created things which are subject to decay; for he does not mean here the heaven we see, and in which the stars shine, but the glorious kingdom of God which is above all the heavens. He calls the old sanctuary the antitupon, the antitype of the true, that is, of the spiritual; for all the external figures represented as in a mirror what would have otherwise been above our corporeal senses. Greek writers sometimes use the same word in speaking of our sacraments, and wisely too and suitably, for every sacrament is a visible image of what is invisible.
Now to appear, etc. So formerly the Levitical priest stood before God in the name of the people, but typically; for in Christ is found the reality and the full accomplishment of what was typified. The ark was indeed a symbol of the divine presence; But it is Christ who really presents himself before God, and stands there to obtain favor for us, so that now there is no reason why we should flee from God's tribunal, since we have so kind an advocate, through whose faithfulness and protection we are made secure and safe. Christ was indeed our advocate when he was on earth; but it was a further concession made to our infirmity that he ascended into heaven to undertake there the office of an advocate. So that whenever mention is made of his ascension into heaven, this benefit ought ever to come to our minds, that he appears there before God to defend us by his advocacy. Foolishly, then, and unreasonably the question is asked by some, has he not always appeared there? For the Apostle speaks here only of his intercession, for the sake of which he entered the heavenly sanctuary.
25. Nor yet that he should offer himself often, etc. How, then, is he a priest, one may say, if he offers no sacrifices? To this I reply that it is not requited of a priest that he should be continually sacrificing; for even under the Law there were days appointed for the chief sacrifices every year; they had also their hours daily morning and evening. But as that only true sacrifice which Christ offered once for all is ever efficacious, and thus perpetual in its effects, it is no wonder that on its virtue, which never fails, Christ's eternal priesthood should be sustained. And here again he shows how and in what things Christ differs from the Levitical priest. Of the sanctuary he had spoken before; but he notices one difference as to the kind of sacrifice, for Christ offered himself and not an animal; and he adds another; that he repeated not his sacrifice, as under the Law, for the repetition there was frequent and even incessant.
26. For then must he often have suffered, etc. He shows how great an absurdity follows, if we do not count it enough that an expiation has been made by the one sacrifice of Christ. For he hence concludes that he must have died often; for death is connected with sacrifices. How this latter supposition is most unreasonable; it then follows that the virtue of the one sacrifice is eternal and extends to all ages. And he says since the foundation of the world, or from the beginning of the world for in all ages from the beginning there were sins which needed expiation. Except then the sacrifice of Christ was efficacious, no one of the fathers would have obtained salvation; for as they were exposed to God's wrath, a remedy for deliverance would have failed them, had not Christ by suffering once suffered so much as was necessary to reconcile men to God from the beginning of the world even to the end. Except then we look for many deaths, we must be satisfied with the one true sacrifice.
And hence it is evident how frivolous is the distinction, in the acuteness of which the Papists take so much delight; for they say that the sacrifice of Christ on the cross was bloody, but that the sacrifice of the mass which they pretend to offer daily to God, is unbloody. Were this subtle evasion adopted, then the Spirit of God would be accused of inadvertence, having not thought of such a thing; for the Apostle assumes it here as an admitted truth, that there is no sacrifice without death. I care nothing that ancient writers have spoken thus; for it is not in the power of men to invent sacrifices as they please. Here stands a truth declared by the Holy Spirit, that sins are not expiated by a sacrifice except blood be shed. Therefore the notion, that Christ is often offered, is a device of the devil.
But now once in the end of the world, etc. He calls that the end of the world or the consummation of the ages, which Paul calls |the fullness of time,| (Galatians 4:4;) for it was the maturity of that time which God had determined in his eternal purpose; and thus cut off is every occasion for men's curiosity, that they may not dare to inquire why it was no sooner, or why in that age rather than in another. For it behooves us to acquiesce in God's secret purpose, the reason for which appears clear to him, though it may not be evident to us. In short, the Apostle intimates that Christ's death was in due time, as he was sent into the world for this end by the Father, in whose power is the lawful right to regulate all things as well as time, and who ordains their succession with consummate wisdom, though often hid from us
This consummation is also set in opposition to the imperfection of past time; for God so held his ancient people in suspense, that it might have been easily concluded that things had not yet reached a fixed state. Hence Paul declares that the end of the ages had come upon us, (1 Corinthians 10:11;) by which he means that the kingdom of Christ contained the accomplishment of all things. But since it was the fullness of time when Christ appeared to expiate sins, they are guilty of offering him an atrocious insult, who seek to renew his sacrifice, as though all things were not completed by his death. He then appeared once for all; for had he done so once or twice, there must have been something defective in the first oblation; but this is inconsistent with fullness.
To put away, or to destroy sin, etc. This agrees with Daniel's prophecy, in which the sealing up and the abolition of sins are promised, and in which it is also declared that there would be an end to sacrifices, (Daniel 9:24-27;) for to what purpose are expiations when sins are destroyed? But this destruction is then only effected, when sins are not imputed to those who flee to the sacrifice of Christ; for though pardon is to be sought daily, as we daily provoke God's wrath; yet as we are reconciled to God in no other way than by the one death of Christ, sin is rightly said to be put away or destroyed by it.
27. And as it is appointed, etc. The meaning is this: since we patiently wait after death for the day of judgment, it being the common lot of nature which it is not right to struggle against; why should there be less patience in waiting for the second coming of Christ? For if a long interval of time does not diminish, as to men, the hope of a happy resurrection, how unreasonable would it be to render less honor to Christ? But less would it be, were we to call upon him to undergo a second death, when he had once died. Were any one to object and say, that some had died twice, such as Lazarus, and not once; the answer would be this, -- that the Apostle speaks here of the ordinary lot of men; but they are to be excepted from this condition, who shall by an instantaneous change put off corruption, (1 Corinthians 15:51;) for he includes none but those who wait for a long time in the dust for the redemption of their bodies.
28. The second time without sin, etc. The Apostle urges this one thing, -- that we ought not to be disquieted by vain and impure longings for new kinds of expiations, for the death of Christ is abundantly sufficient for us. Hence he says, that he once appeared and made a sacrifice to abolish sins, and that at his second coming he will make openly manifest the efficacy of his death, so that sin will have no more power to hurt us.
To bear, or, take away sins, is to free from guilt by his satisfaction those who have sinned. He says the sins of many, that is, of all, as in Romans 5:15. It is yet certain that all receive no benefit from the death of Christ; but this happens, because their unbelief prevents them. At the same time this question is not to be discussed here, for the Apostle is not speaking of the few or of the many to whom the death of Christ may be available; but he simply means that he died for others and not for himself; and therefore he opposes many to one.
But what does he mean by saying that Christ will appear without sin? Some say, without a propitiation or an expiatory sacrifice for sin, as the word sin is taken in Romans 8:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21; and in many places in the writings of Moses; but in my judgment he intended to express something more suitable to his present purpose, namely, that Christ at his coming will make it known how truly and really he had taken away sins, so that there would be no need of any other sacrifice to pacify God; as though he had said, |When we come to the tribunal of Christ, we shall find that there was nothing wanting in his death.|
And to the same effect is what he immediately adds, unto salvation to them who look, or wait for him. Others render the sentence differently, |To them who look for him unto salvation;| But the other meaning is the most appropriate; for he means that those shall find complete salvation who recumb with quiet minds on the death of Christ; for this looking for or wanting has a reference to the subject discussed. The Scripture indeed does elsewhere ascribe this in common to believers, that they look for the coming of the Lord, in order to distinguish them from the ungodly, by whom his coming is dreaded, (1 Thessalonians 1:10;) but as the Apostle now contends that we ought to acquiesce in the one true sacrifice of Christ, he calls it the looking for Christ, when we are satisfied with his redemption alone, and seek no other remedies or helps.