The “Second Coming” of Hebrews Nine
Some time ago I forwarded a copy of an informative book on the Scriptures to a close Christian friend. A short time later I received a communication back from that person who took strong exception to a statement the book author had made concerning Hebrews 9:28.
1. Hebrews 9:28
The part of the verse above that my Christian friend took strong exception to was the part that states, “and unto them that look for him [Christ] shall he [Christ] appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
The book author had stated that the appearing of Christ had already taken place circa AD 70, therefore this statement had already taken place. My Christian friend took exception to this understanding stating it was clear that the event alluded to in this verse had not yet taken place. Let us spend some time investigating the meaning of this verse.
The first fact I notice is that although the majority of translators include the word “time” in the verse, no such word exists in the original Greek text. The word “time” has been added by the translators to help us, in their opinion, to understand what the writer of Hebrews is saying. This is not a terrible thing to do if the added word helps us to gain such understanding as long as the added word does not change the original meaning. In this case I believe that no harm is done by adding the word.
A key word in the verse is the Greek word “deuteros” which has been translated “second.” This Greek word has the meanings of “a numerical word,” “of a series” or “of place.” With these possibilities, it would appear that “second” is not a bad translation. We do need to discover what these two appearances are and when they were to take place? Before exploring those questions let us work on establishing the context of the verse.
2. Hebrews 9:1
Although the word “covenant” does not appear in the Greek text of this verse, it is not misleading to add that word. The word translated as “testament” in verses 15, 16, 17, 18 and 20 should, and is in many other translations, translated as “covenant.” If we read the entire chapter we are able to establish the context of the chapter.
3. From your reading of Hebrews chapter nine, what do you think is the overall context?
4. Hebrews 9:2
Although Hebrews 9:2 does not identify it clearly by name, what is being described is the Mosaic Tabernacle that Moses was instructed by God to build in Exodus Chapter 25 through Chapter 31. A basic line drawing of the Mosaic Tabernacle appears in Figure 49.
This arrangement was used by the Children of Israel during their desert wanderings, being a portable tent-like structure with certain articles of furniture. It consisted of three major areas.
Area 1 was known as the Outer Court and was a place of common access to the people and the priesthood. Here the priests performed animal sacrifices on the Altar of Burnt Offerings for the sins of the people. A Laver was also present for cleansing with water.
Area 2 was known as the Holy Place and only the priests were permitted to enter. This compartment contained a lighted Golden Candlestick, an Altar of Incense, and a table on which loaves of bread were placed. This compartment is also called “The First Tabernacle” on the drawing and also the “Holy Place.”
Area 3 was known as the Holy of Holies or the Most Holy Place and is also referred to as The Second Tabernacle on the drawing. Only the high priest was allowed into this compartment once each year on the Day of Atonement to atone for the sins of the people and the high priest himself. To enter the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place the high priest had to pass through a veil or curtain. In the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant inside of which was a pot of manna from Israel’s desert wanderings, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the two tablets of stone upon which God had given the Ten Commandments (See Hebrews 9:4). Every aspect and article of furniture in the Mosaic Tabernacle was a type of Jesus Christ! (See Learning Activity #66 on Types, Shadows and Signs).
4. Hebrews 9:7
5. What is the name for the second tabernacle mentioned in the verse above?
6. Who went into this area of the tabernacle once each year?
7. What did the high priest take with him when he entered this area of the tabernacle?
8. Why did this event take place?
The verse above is describing the actions that the high priest took once each year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). The observance of this day was established in Leviticus 23:26–28. The high priest entered the Holy of Holies of the Mosaic Tabernacle to offer ceremonial activities for the forgiveness of the sins of the people and himself. This Old Testament activity was a type of Jesus Christ, our high priest, who also had to take His blood sacrifice (in the fourth dimensional spirit realm) into the heavenly Holy of Holies after His ascension. More about this later.
9. Hebrews 9:11
10. What does the first phrase in the verse above tell us about Jesus Christ?
11. Hebrews 9:12
12. What activity does the verse above describe as having been accomplished by Christ?
NOTE: As you read this section of scripture remember that the word translated “testament” in verses 15, 16, 17, and 20 should properly be translated “covenant” in the King James Bible as I have previously mentioned. Additionally, where the word “testament” appears in verse 18, there is no such word in the Greek text at all.
13. Hebrews 9:22
14. What great understanding about salvation is seen in the verse above?
15. Hebrews 9:23
16. Rewrite the verse above in your own words.
17. Hebrews 9:24
18. What do you see as the main point the writer of Hebrews makes in the verse above?
The above establishes the context for verse 28 of Hebrews 9. A contrast is being made between the high priestly activities in the Mosaic Tabernacle (the type) and the high priestly work of Jesus Christ (the antitype). Once the context for verse 28 has been established its meaning becomes irrefutably clear. The second appearing of Christ in verse 28 is the antitype of the Old Testament high priest (the type) when he came out of the Holy of Holies of the Mosaic Tabernacle. The Old Testament high priest entered into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement. This would coincide with Jesus entering into the heavenly Holy of Holies after His resurrection with His blood to complete the salvation of mankind (the antitype).
With reference to the phrase “and unto them that look for him” in verse 28, this can only be understood as meaning that anyone who believed in Christ, and continued to trust in Him alone, (“that look to him”) would not be disappointed in their salvation.
You may have noticed that I have changed the word “for” to “to” in the phrase “that look to him” above. I cite The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament from the Nestle Greek Text, Zondervan, 1976, as a highly reliable support document for my changing of this word.
The salvation being written of would take place in finality at the Parousia of Christ circa AD 70. Christ appeared the first time as Jesus of Nazareth the Messiah who had come for the Jewish nation. After His death and resurrection He ascended into the heavenly Holy of Holies with His blood of atonement. Later, circa AD 70, He appeared a second time completing the once and for all salvation of all who believe. This entire episode directly parallels the activities of the Old Covenant high priest who performed this activity each year on the Day of Atonement by going into the earthly Holy of Holies. Christ, who is the anti-type is the fulfillment of this Old Covenant type and has only to do this once and for all!
“…but now once in the end of the world [age – Old Covenant] hast he [Christ] appeared, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26).
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