A Study of Hebrews Chapter 1: Part 9

leave a comment »

When He had by Himself purged our sins

Those familiar with the OT sacrifices will see much thrust to the terminology used by the writer in this instance. The sacrifice of animals were at the heart of Judean thought and appreciation since this was the means by which they were forgiven of their sin for a period of time. Even though the language is similar to that of the things of old there was one issue of dissimilarity that must have gotten the reader to consider. That in this instance it was the actual high priest who was the sacrifice rather than the priest conducting the sacrifice of another. We have seen thus far some very familiar themes that will echo through the rest of the epistle, mainly the prophet and kingship of Christ. We now enter into the most precious of the writer’s arguments in the powerful work of the Great High Priest.

Firstly, from a translation perspective, the New King James Version and the King James Version differ slightly from some of the more “modern” translations. The NASB reads: “When He had made purification of sins” which is in accordance with the NIV, ESV, Segond and the J.N. Darby translation would agree with the modern translations in that he places the “by himself” in brackets and omits the word “our”[i]. The expression “to purge” is in the aorist tense hence would refer back to something. It would be referring to “having purged” sins rather than giving the idea that it of something unaccomplished. The purging is fundamentally the same idea as being “washed” (1 Corinthians 6:11) or making their robes white (Revelation 7:14) which is of highest necessity in order to enter the midst of Jehovah (Isaiah 6:7). This is the founding work of Christ to which makes Him superior to anyone or anything in the Old Testament Judaism because His sacrifice was an act of self-denial and finally accomplished an actual purging from sin. He is deserving of all glory and worship for He accomplished His goal. 

“Had purged” is borrowed from the sacrificial language used later in the letter. We read that how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14) as well as And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. (Hebrews 9:22) The question that might render some reflection to us today is whether or not this purging is active or potential?[ii] Christ did not slay bulls or goats but offered up to the Father, as our High Priest, the sacrifice of Himself! He has cleansed us from our unrighteousness and we are the people who are the recipients of a true purging that leaves nothing to further do to accomplish salvation. Later on in the letter, the writer expands on this paradigm with these beautiful words.

By so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant. Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. (Hebrews 7:22-27)


[i] Darby does add the footnote to state as followed: The form (middle) of the verb here, has a peculiar reflexive force, “having done it for himself.

[ii] If Christ purged our sins and He accomplished this then there is no reason for anyone to receive a guilty verdict from the Father since He has taken away each and every sin. The question then must be asked if He had the intention of purging the sins of all men? We believe that Christ accomplished this for His elect and since He is a perfect savior who accomplishes perfectly what He intended to do at the cross of Calvary. Christ Jesus saves people and does not merely make men savable!


Written by shawnkjmcgrath

July 31, 2009 at 8:26 am

Posted in Hebrews Ch.1

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: