What does Hebrews 9:12 mean?
ESV: he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
NIV: He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.
NASB: and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all time, having obtained eternal redemption.
CSB: he entered the most holy place once for all time, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.
NLT: With his own blood — not the blood of goats and calves — he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.
KJV: Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
Earlier, the writer of Hebrews compared the continual sacrifice of the temple priests with the offering a true, heavenly high priest would offer (Hebrews 7:22–28). In doing so, two separate Greek words were used. The term referring to the priests implied a present, ongoing action. The term referring to Jesus used a completed, once-for-all action. Here, that same idea is once again attached to Jesus' sacrifice. The phrases used in this verse echo the same points made earlier in Hebrews about Jesus.
The earthly high priests of the old covenant offered sacrifices on a yearly basis (Hebrews 9:7), taken from mere animals, in a temporary sacrifice, including atonement for their own sins (Hebrews 7:27), which only served to assuage external factors, and could not change the hearts of men (Hebrews 9:9–10).
The heavenly high priest of the new covenant—Jesus Christ—offered a single sacrifice, once and for all, taken from His own perfect and sinless life (Hebrews 4:15), completely saving mankind from their sins (Hebrews 7:25), changing them from the inside out (Hebrews 8:10).
Another point being made here is that animal blood can never fully atone for human sin—only the blood of a man can do that, and this is exactly what Jesus provides.
The next verses will emphasize and expand on the difference between the sacrificial blood of animals and that of Jesus. Prior emphasis was on the limitation of those animal sacrifices; as this passage continues, the emphasis will be on how Christ's blood possesses far greater power than that of any animal.
Hebrews 9:11–28 continues to explain how the new covenant in Jesus Christ is superior to the old covenant. This passage focuses on two main advantages of this arrangement: that Christ serves in a better temple, and that Christ offers a superior sacrifice. The physical temple, and its implements, were meant to be symbols of Christ's ''true'' place of service in heaven. Unlike limited sacrifices of animals, Jesus' single death was able to completely save us from sin.
Hebrews chapter 9 explains how the old covenant included various physical locations and physical rituals. These, according to the writer of Hebrews, were always intended as symbols. Their details, and the drawbacks which they suffered from, were meant to point towards the ''true'' means of our redemption, which is Christ. Unlike animal sacrifices, which must be repeated, and which cannot change man on the inside, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is a once for all, permanent, and completely effective solution to sin. The fact that Christ died for sin only once also means that His next arrival, in the future, will not be as a sacrifice, but as the final fulfillment of God's plan.
Chapter 9 continues the writer's explanation of the superiority of Christ. In chapter 8, this focused on the idea that God had promised a new covenant, even as the old covenant was still in effect. This not only means that the new covenant must be different, but that the old covenant must be flawed. Here in chapter 9, the writer focuses on the fact that the old covenant featured aspects which were meant only as symbols of the ''true'' high priesthood of Christ. Since Christ's sacrifice is more powerful, and performed in a better place, it is more effective in securing our salvation than the sacrifices of animals. Chapter 10 will continue this discussion by wrapping up these various ideas about the superiority of the new covenant.
The book of Hebrews is meant to challenge, encourage, and empower Christian believers. According to this letter, Jesus Christ is superior to all other prophets and all other claims to truth. Since God has given us Christ, we ought to listen to what He says and not move backwards. The consequences of ignoring God are dire. Hebrews is important for drawing on many portions of the Old Testament in making a case that Christ is the ultimate and perfect expression of God's plan for mankind. This book presents some tough ideas about the Christian faith, a fact the author makes specific note of.
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