What does Hebrews 9:26 mean?
ESV: for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
NIV: Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.
NASB: Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been revealed to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
CSB: Otherwise, he would have had to suffer many times since the foundation of the world. But now he has appeared one time, at the end of the ages, for the removal of sin by the sacrifice of himself.
NLT: If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.
KJV: 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.
Verse Commentary:
A major drawback of the old covenant was the need for constant sacrifice. The blood of animals was only enough to give a temporary, imperfect atonement for the sins of the people. In addition, animal sacrifice could not change a person from the inside; it could only provide relief from feelings of guilt and ceremonial purity (Hebrews 9:8–10). This arrangement was part of God's plan, however, in the way it pointed to the new covenant of Jesus Christ. The physical location of those animal sacrifices was a symbol of the "true" holy places where Jesus acts as high priest on our behalf. As the prior verse pointed out, this sacrifice by Christ does not need to be repeated over and over, as the animal sacrifices did.

Here, in verse 26, the writer of Hebrews explains that a limited sacrifice would require Jesus to die over and over. However, since His sacrifice was perfect (Hebrews 7:27–28), and human (Hebrews 2:17–18), it can completely accomplish our salvation. As such, Jesus offered a single, "once for all" sacrifice to totally overcome the power and penalty of sin.

The reference to the "end of the ages" here can be confusing. In the next few words, the writer of Hebrews will make a reference to the Second Coming of Christ, which is often seen as part of the future "end of the age." In this context, however, the "end of the age" seems to be a mention of how Jesus arrived for the purposes of His sacrifice, heralding the end of the age of the old covenant.
Verse Context:
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.
Chapter Summary:
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 Context:
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.
Book Summary:
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.
Accessed 3/1/2024 10:47:26 PM
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