Tuesday, 29 January 2019
But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, Hebrews 10:12
This verse repeats thoughts seen already in several verses, including 1:3, 7:27, 8:1, and 9:26 (and others possibly as well) –
“…who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (1:3)
“…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.” (7:27)
“Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,” (8:1)
“He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” (9:26)
The repetition is a valuable tool to call to remembrance, and thus to solidify in the mind of the reader, these important doctrinal truths. Further, the repetition supports each step of the logical case the author makes concerning the supremacy of the work of Christ, under the New Covenant, over that of the Law of Moses. With this understanding, it now says in this verse, “But this Man.” It is speaking of Christ Jesus. That thought is given in contrast to what was just stated in the previous verse which spoke of the sacrifices of the Old Covenant. From there, in this contrasting thought, he says, “after He had offered one sacrifice for sins.” This is contrasted to the word “repeatedly.”
There were many sacrifices for sins under the Old Covenant; there is one Sacrifice of Christ under the New. Those in the Old were a different category than man, being animals; that under the New is in the same, being a Man. Those under the Old were offered by another, but which included sins even for himself; those under the New were offered by Himself – and in His sinless perfection – on behalf of others.
From there, the author adds in the word “forever.” It is a word, diénekés, found only in verses 7:3, 10:1, 10:12, and 10:14. It signifies to “bear all the way across, in an unbroken (non-stop) fashion; to persist all the way, to the (intended) end, i.e. ‘unbroken, continuous . . . perpetually, forever’ (Abbott-Smith).” (HELPS Word Studies). The meaning of the word is not in dispute, but the placement of it is. The Greek can read one of two ways –
1) But this man offering one sacrifice for sins, for ever sitteth on the right hand of God, Douay-Rheims Bible
2) But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, NKJV
Despite the possibility of being tied to either “sacrifice,” or “sat down,” in the Greek, the context clearly provides the correct meaning. It is connected to “sacrifice.” The repeated sacrifices which could never take away sin (10:4) are contrasted to the one Sacrifice that is sufficient “forever.” Further, if “forever” was tied to “sat down,” then there would be a contradiction in the Bible. The intended meaning of “sat down” is to convey the thought of accomplished work which is not to be repeated, but there are results of that work for which Christ rises from His position of sitting. One is found in Acts 7 –
“But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, 56 and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’” Acts 7:55, 56
The work of Christ on behalf of His people means that they shall be welcomed into God’s presence because of it. As what can only be considered as the greatest of honor, Christ stood to receive His first recorded martyr, Stephen. Though His work is completed, He uses His position at the right hand of God to rise in acknowledgment of the results of that work at His will. It is a demonstration of the absolute greatness of the King of kings that He would do such for those He first died for.
Only after His one-time and for all-time Sacrifice, does the author say that Christ “sat down at the right hand of God.” It is there that He rules with all power and authority in heaven and on earth at His command.
Life application: If you struggle with the doctrine of eternal salvation, consider this verse and be at peace. Jesus went to the cross, paid the price for your sin debt, and then He sat down. What He did is:
2) Never to be repeated, and
3) Eternal in significance
And Jesus didn’t just sit down on a lounge chair at the beach. Instead, He sat down “at the right hand of God.” All power, all authority, and all control belongs to Jesus. How could the Lord of all creation save you and then allow you to be lost again? It is impossible! If you have called on Jesus, you are free from all condemnation. Now go forth and live in His grace, grateful for His forever finished work.
Lord Jesus, never allow us to falter in the confident knowledge that you have eternally saved us from our sins. Help us to never fall back into sin, but if we do, strengthen us and return us to the right path. Keep our hearts, our minds, and our lives on that path which is directed to You. Glory, honor, and majesty belong to You alone! Amen.