What does Hebrews 9:27 mean?
ESV: And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
NIV: Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,
NASB: And just as it is destined for people to die once, and after this comes judgment,
CSB: And just as it is appointed for people to die once--and after this, judgment--
NLT: And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment,
KJV: And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
This verse represents a key component of Christian theology. In contrast to religious systems which teach that man is constantly re-born, or vanishes into nothingness, the Bible is very clear that all men experience a single permanent death. Once this happens, each person is accountable for their actions in life. This verse also, indirectly, reminds the reader that the real judgment for sin comes after death. God can, and does, use earthly circumstances in order to prove His will. Sometimes, that means negative consequences for sin. For the most part, however, God's real work of judgment on sin happens after this life is over; at that point, each person is held accountable for their own life.
In the context of this passage, the writer is also making a point about the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. As recently mentioned, the sacrifice offered by Jesus is not like that of the old covenant. Animal sacrifices had to be offered repeatedly, since they could not perfectly atone for sin. Christ was able to offer a single, "once for all" sacrifice which absolutely covered the payment required for humanity's salvation.
Between verses 27 and 28, the point is that Christ's first appearance, leading to His death, was for the purpose of judgment of sin. Sin was judged on the cross, by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. When Christ comes again, in the future, His arrival will not be for the purpose of atoning for sin. Instead, it will be to apply what has already been accomplished, and to usher in the final judgment (Titus 2:13). Just as man's one death leads to judgment, so too does Christ's one death lead to judgment—but for men, rather than for Jesus.
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.
Accessed 11/30/2023 5:40:00 AM
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