Monday, 11 July 2016

Hebrews 9:8-14 - Reopening the way to heaven

The next section of Hebrews 9 takes us to the nature and effect of Christ's sacrifice on the cross.

Hebrews 9:8-10
The Holy Ghost signifying this, that the way into the holies was not yet made manifest, whilst the former tabernacle was yet standing. Which is a parable of the time present: according to which gifts and sacrifices are offered, which can not, as to the conscience, make him perfect that serveth, only in meats and in drinks, And divers washings, and justices of the flesh laid on them until the time of correction.
 8 hoc significante Spiritu Sancto, nondum propalatam esse sanctorum viam, adhuc priore tabernaculo habente statum: quæ parabola est temporis instantis: juxta quam munera, et hostiæ offeruntur, quæ non possunt juxta conscientiam perfectum facere servientem, solummodo in cibis, et in potibus,  et variis baptismatibus, et justitiis carnis usque ad tempus correctionis impositis.
Aquinas:

Before Christ: ...For as long as the Old Testament endured, the way into the holies, namely, Christ, Who says: ‘I am the way’ had not yet come; for He is the door by which one enters into the holies: ‘I am the door’. But He was not yet made manifest, because He was still hiding under the shadows of the figures of the letter: ‘For the law having a shadow of the good things to come’, which is symbolic for the present age, or leading us to the things which occur at the present time.

Why the holy of holies was closed under the Old Law: ...For no one enters into it, unless he is perfect: ‘It shall be called the holy way: the unclean shall not pass over it’. Hence, where there was no cleansing and no perfection, there was no entrance into it. But the Old Testament was unable to make perfect those who served it, because the sacrifice had not yet been offered that would satisfy for the sin of the whole human race...gifts of all things and offerings of animals were not offered in the holy of holies, but in the holies or in the court of the tabernacle.

True cleansing: But they were unable to cleanse, because they cannot perfect the conscience of the worshipper that serves with the service of latria, which pertains to divine worship. I say, perfect the conscience. For cleansing is of two kinds: one from the stain of sin and debt of punishment as to the conscience. The Law cannot do this...The other cleansing was in regard to divine service, in order that one might lawfully minister at such sacrifices; and thus it cleansed.

Saints of the Old Testament: But were many perfect in the Old Law? It seems so; for it was said to Abraham: ‘Walk before me and be perfect’. Furthermore, Moses and many others were very saintly and perfect. I answer that although there were many holy and perfect persons then, it was not from the works of the Law...but this was by faith in Christ: ‘Abraham believed God and it was reputed to him unto justice’.

Regulations for the body: And in various ablutions, because as it says in Mk, the Jews observed the washing of cups and of pots, and when they returned from the market, they did not eat until they were washed. Against this the Lord says : ‘Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees: because you make clean the outside of the cup and dish, but within you are full of rapine and uncleanness.’ Yet the Apostle is not speaking here about the superstitions of the Pharisees. Therefore, we must go to the other washings commanded in the Law, such as the water in which the priests washed, and the water of purification in the cleansing of leprosy or defilement...He calls those ceremonies regulations for the body, i.e., fleshly, because they pertained only to bodily cleanness, and there was no spiritual power in them.

Hebrews 9:11-12
But Christ, being come an high priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hand, that is, not of this creation: Neither by the blood of goats, or of calves, but by his own blood, entered once into the holies, having obtained eternal redemption. 
Christus autem assistens pontifex futurorum bonorum, per amplius et perfectius tabernaculum, non manufactum, id est, non hujus creationis: neque per sanguinem hircorum aut vitulorum, sed per proprium sanguinem introivit semel in Sancta, æterna redemptione inventa. 
Who enters: For the high priest is the prince among the priests. But Christ was such: ‘And when the prince of pastors shall appear, you shall receive a never fading crown of glory’; ‘Having therefore a great high priest that has passed into the heavens’...Christ is the high priest of heavenly goods...He is a high priest of the good things to come...He assists the Father by interceding for us...

The dignity of the inner tabernacle: ...it is unmovable: ‘Your eyes shall see Jerusalem, a rich habitation, a tabernacle that cannot be removed’...is the tabernacle of heavenly glory: ‘Lord, who shall dwell in your tabernacle?’...is called a tabernacle, because it is the habitation of pilgrims. For it is not due to us by reason of the condition of our nature, but only through grace... It was more perfect, because all imperfection ceased there: ‘When that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away’. Furthermore, it is of a different condition, because the Old was made by human hands, but this by the hand of God...Or, by the tabernacle can be understood Christ’s body, in which He fought against the devil...

He entered not without blood:. not with another’s blood: taking not the blood of goats or of calves but his own blood, which He offered on the cross for our salvation: ‘This is my blood of the New Testament, which shall be shed for you and for many unto the remission of sins’.

Christ entered not once a year, but once for all time: ...But Christ throughout all of time, which is as a year, entered once for all into the holies and poured out His blood once: ‘Christ died once for our sins’; ‘for in that he died for sin, he died once'. Furthermore, He entered once; for from the fact that He entered heaven, He is there always. Hence, he says, he entered once for all into the holies.

He entered to expiate our sins: Why He entered, namely, to make an offering for the ignorance of the people, not for His own, because He had none. For the blood of Christ is more powerful, because by it he secured an eternal redemption. As if to say: we are redeemed by that blood; and this forever, because His power is infinite...He wrought eternal redemption by His own blood, in which His greatest efficacy appears.

Hebrews 9: 13-14
For if the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of an heifer being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh:  How much more shall the blood of Christ, who by the Holy Ghost offered himself unspotted unto God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God?
 Si enim sanguis hircorum et taurorum, et cinis vitulæ aspersus inquinatos sanctificat ad emundationem carnis: quanto magis sanguis Christi, qui per Spiritum Sanctum semetipsum obtulit immaculatum Deo, emundabit conscientiam nostram ab operibus mortuis, ad serviendum Deo viventi?
The two cleansings of the old law: In regard to the first it should be noted that there were two cleansings in the Old Law: one took place on the day of atonement, as already stated, and seemed to be directly ordained to cleansing from sin.

The other was against legal irregularity, as mentioned in Numbers (19:2), where the Lord commanded Eleazar to take from Moses a red cow without blemish, of full age and which has not carried the yoke, and bring her forth without the camp and immolate her in the sight of all. Then dipping his finger in her blood, he should sprinkle it over against the door of the tabernacle seven times; and then burn her flesh entirely, i.e., her flesh, hide and even her dung. Then the priest was to take cedar wood and hyssop and scarlet twice dyed.

After this was done, a man that was clean was to gather up the ashes of the cow and pour them forth in a clean place outside the camp. Some of these ashes were to be put in water with which an unclean person, who touched the corpse of a man, was to be sprinkled on the third day, and on the seventh with hyssop. In this way and in no other way could he be cleansed. That is the opinion of the Apostle. Therefore in regard to the first he says, If the blood of goats and oxen; but as to the second he says, and the ashes of a heifer being sprinkled sanctify such as are defiles, not by conferring grace, but to the cleansing of the flesh, i.e., from an irregularity carnally hindering them, as though unclean, from divine worship. But they did not take away sins, because, as Augustine says, sometimes by virtue of that sprinkling they were cleansed from bodily leprosy; hence, he says, to the cleansing of the flesh.

The blood of Christ cleanses our conscience: As if to say: If blood and ashes can do this, what could Christ’s blood do? Certainly much more...it should be noted that the blood of those animals merely cleansed from outward stain, namely, from contact with the dead; but the blood of Christ cleanses the conscience inwardly, which is accomplished by faith: ‘Purifying their hearts by faith’, inasmuch as it makes one believe that all who adhere to Christ are cleansed by His blood. Therefore, He cleanses the conscience.

Cleanses us from dead works: It also cleanses them from contact with a corpse; but He from dead works, namely, sins, which take God from the soul, whose life consists in union by charity.

Cleansing to enable ministry: It also cleansed them in order that they might come to the figurative ministry; but the blood of Christ to the spiritual service of God: ‘The man that walked in the perfect way, he served me’. Therefore, he says, to serve the living God. Furthermore, God is life: ‘I am the life’; ‘I live forever’. Therefore, it is fitting that one who serves Him be alive: hence, he says, living God: ‘For as the judge of the people is himself, so also are his ministers’. Therefore, he that would serve God worthily, should be living, as He is.


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