What does Hebrews 9:25 mean?
ESV: Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own,
NIV: Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.
NASB: nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year by year with blood that is not his own.
CSB: He did not do this to offer himself many times, as the high priest enters the sanctuary yearly with the blood of another.
NLT: And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal.
KJV: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
Under the old covenant, God instructed Moses to build two rooms inside the tabernacle—a tent used as a movable temple by the people of Israel. The first was called the Holy Place, and inside it was the second: the Most Holy Place. These areas were restricted to only certain priests at certain times; this was meant to symbolize the separation between God and men. These areas were also used as the location for animal sacrifices, which were necessary for the forgiveness of the sins of the people of Israel. Unfortunately, those sacrifices could not change the people from the inside, and could only offer a temporary reprieve.
As the last verse indicated, Christ's service as our high priest occurs in a better place. In fact, it occurs in the "true" holy places, which the earthly ones were only meant to symbolize. Here, the writer of Hebrews points out that Christ's sacrifice is superior to that offered by the earthly priests. Instead of coming over and over, sacrificing Himself again and again, Christ is able to offer a single, perfect, permanent shedding of blood in order to cover human sin. This point is continued in the next verse.
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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