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Christ will appear a second time

Comments

Re: A second coming to earth in Heb.9:28?

Andrew wrote:

I think this is mistaken. Hebrews 9:23-28 describes what Christ, the great high priest, does in the heavenly sanctuary when he ‘appears in the presence of God on our behalf’. This metaphor controls the whole paragraph. His first appearance in the sanctuary was to offer himself as a sacrifice to put away sin (9:26; cf. 9:11-12). The writer to the Hebrews, fearing that his readers may be in danger of losing faith (cf. 6:11-12; 10:32-39), urges them to be patient because Christ will enter the sanctuary a second time, will appear in the presence of God a second time - ‘not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him’ (9:28). This is not a second coming to earth - it is much more like the coming of the Son of man to the throne of the Ancient of Days to receive a kingdom on behalf of the suffering saints of the Most High.

While I somewhat agree with your conclusion that "This is not a second coming to earth - it is much more like the coming of the Son of man to the throne of the Ancient of Days to receive a kingdom on behalf of the suffering saints of the Most High" I find the path you took to get there somewhat convoluted.

The Material in Hebrews explaining His high priestly role is based on the atonement in Leviticus 16.

While it is true that the high priest had to appear twice in the holy of holies (before the mercy seat), it is also true that he had to appear twice before the people.  Thus, for Jesus to adequately fulfill the typology it was necessary that as high priest He must take His blood into the holy of holies (first appearance) and sprinkle His blood upon the mercy seat.  That being done, He must appear before the people (first appearance) to declare sins forgiven.  That being done, He must then take the kid that was selected "for the LORD," sacrifice it and take its blood into the holy of holies (second appearance) and sprinkle its blood on the mercy seat.  That being done He must then appear before the people again (second appearance).

Now, ostensibly this is the way that all those things actually worked out to fulfill the type in the first century.  Jesus, the Prince and Savior (Acts 3:14, 5:31) sacrificed Himself on the cross and was resurrected to become the high priest - as the high priest He then ascended to the Father and took His blood into the holy of holies and sprinkled it on the mercy seat (first appearance, John 20:17ff).  This being done He came out of the holy of holies an appeared before the people (first appearance, John 17:19ff) and identified the "kid" "chosen for the LORD" ("those looking for Him") and returned to the Father (second appearance, ascension, Acts 1:9-11) and functioning as the high priest; presided over the sacrifice of the "kid chosen for the LORD" (Rev 6:9-11).  When the sacrifice was completed by the killing of those "that should be killed…"  Jesus took the blood of the sacrifice into the holy of holies and sprinkled it on the mercy seat (second appearance) and appeared the second time before those who were "looking for Him" (Col 3:4; 1Tim 6:14; 2Tim 1:10, 4:1,8; 1Pet 1:7, 5:4; 1John 2:28, 3:2; et al.) This final event is the Parousia.  It is the coming of the resurrected Son of man and the resurrected "kid" sacrifice (the first century martyrs, cf. Rev 20:4) coming into the kingdom of heaven.  Upon the Parousia (both second appearances as one) the scapegoat was sent into the wilderness  (Rev 17:3) where it was destroyed (Rev 17:16-18).  Ostensibly, the metaphor used within the NT to represent the "two kids" of Leviticus 16:5, 7-10, et al. is the two sons of the two women of Galatians 4:22 or something like that.

Perhaps, the following verses (emphasis added) best explain the finale presented above:

When Christ our life appears (in glory), then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:4 NKJV)

I charge [you] therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: (2 Timothy 4:1 NKJV)

Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8 NKJV)

And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His Parousia. (1 John 2:28)

that the genuineness of your faith, much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, (1 Peter 1:7 NKJV)

when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. (1 Peter 5:4 NKJV)

Too many comings and goings

And you think my reading was convoluted!

I don’t see the subsequent appearance before the people in Hebrews, and you don’t provide any evidence. Isn’t it rather odd that this aspect of the high priestly role doesn’t show up in the most elaborate development of the motif that we have in the New Testament? Or am I missing something? It is never a good idea to read into figurative language (metaphor, analogy, typology) more than is clearly indicated or required by the argument. The fact that you have to conflate the two second appearances (boy, this is confusing) into one does not inspire confidence in your argument.

The language of ‘appearing’ that we have in Hebrews doesn’t seem to belong to the OT narratives - it suggests a visionary appearing. There is also no reason to interpret the ‘appearing’ of the parousia texts that you list as an allusion to the activity of the high priest, whereas in several of them there is explicit reference to the ‘kingdom/judgment’ idea that we have the Son of man motif.

There is nothing in John 20:17-23 to suggest that John is thinking in terms of a high priestly typology. There are certainly some oddities here, but there is insufficient reason to think that they are to be explained in this way.

There is nothing to identify the souls under the altar in Revelation 6:9-11 with the goat that is killed on the day of atonement, though I agree that there are sacrificial overtones here.

There is no allusion to the scapegoat in Revelation 17:3. There are all sorts of problems, not the least being that the scapegoat bears the sins of others, ‘Babylon the great’ (which I think must be a pagan power) is destroyed because of her own sins.

In other words, I don’t think the NT uses the high priest typology as a controlling metaphor in the way that, or to the extent that, you think it does.

Re: A second coming to earth in Heb.9:28?

So Jesus ‘appears’ before God’s throne twice: once in the offering of Himself, and a second time in His ‘receiving’ the kingdom?  What then of the imagery throughout Hebrews where He sits at the right hand of God continually?  This seems incoherent.

But more importantly, you are confusing the language of Hebrews 9:24ff.  He ‘appeared’ in God’s presence for us by ‘entering’ heaven itself, to thus stand before God as our high priest on the basis of the sacrifice of himself, once and for all offered in His death on the cross (9:26, 23, 11-14; cf. 10:12; 2:14).  Thus He was ‘offered’ once (note the passive usage here, with Christ as the ‘sacrifical victim’, to be contrasted with the active voice in v.25, where Christ is acting as high priest in ‘offering’ the sacrifice, His own blood, in the heavenly temple) to take away sin (9:28).  How is sin taken away?  Not by the blood of bulls and goats, but the blood shed by Christ on the cross, of course.  Where was Christ ‘offered’ a sacrifice for sins?  Heaven?  No, of course not.  He was sacrificed on the cross, which He endured, ‘scorning its shame.’  Hence, v.26 clearly speaks of His first advent, which was ‘with respect to sin’ (v.28a), meaning He ‘put away sin’ through the ‘sacrifice of Himself’ (v.26b).  The idea that Jesus sacrificed or sacrifices Himself in heaven is utterly foreign to the author of Hebrews, and such an interpretation can only be the result of confusing his metaphor(s) of the priestly service at the altar.  

So, v.26 and v.28 make clear that His first ‘appearing’ was for the sacrifice of sins, after which He entered the temple of heaven to ‘appear’ before God on our behalf (v.24).  But He will (lit.) ‘be seen’ (cf. the similar verb used in v.26, ‘be revealed, made known’) again, a second time, not with reference to sin (i.e., ‘to put away sin’), but in order to bring salvation to those who await Him (v.28).     

You’re right, however, to tie this to the coming of the Son of Man.  He will come to vindicate His suffering saints, and establish His rule ‘on earth as it is in heaven’.  Every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father! 

Re: A second coming to earth in Heb.9:28?

Follow the argument carefully in Hebrews.

According to the elaborate analogy that is being developed Jesus becomes a high priest at the resurrection. This is apparent from 5:5-10; 6:20; 7:15-16, 20-21, and the allusions to Psalms 2 and 110. He is therefore not a high priest when he is killed - he is made a high priest forever because of the obedience that led him to suffer (5:8-10).

As the resurrected one he is seated at the right hand of God; as high priest he is a ‘minister in the sanctuary’. The writer to the Hebrews fuses these two motifs (8:1-2) and presumably did not regard the fusion as incoherent.

When the high priest enters the inner tent he brings an offering - the blood of an animal previously killed - for his own sins and for the sins of the people (8:3). This is where the confusion arises in your argument: the animal is first killed (corresponding to Jesus’ death: cf. Hebrews 10:14) and then subsequently its blood is offered by the high priest in the sanctuary. So when Jesus first enters the sanctuary, when he first appears in the presence of God (not the throne language here), he brings as an offering ‘his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption’ (9:11-12).

So the order of events is as follows: Jesus died, he rose from the dead, was exalted to the right hand of God, was appointed as a high priest forever in the heavenly sanctuary, and entered into the inner tent with the offering of his own blood for others, as the ‘mediator of a new covenant’ (9:15). This is Jesus’ first appearance in the sanctuary, in the presence of God; it served to ratify, in effect, this new covenant for the forgiveness of sins and opened up a way for believers to enter into the presence of God (cf. 10:19-22).

But the writer then says that there will be a second appearance in the sanctuary, not to deal with sin but ‘for those awaiting him for salvation’. This is clearly a salvation that those waiting do not yet have: an ending to their suffering and uncertainty. But as an appearance in the sanctuary it is like the first appearance in the sanctuary: both are events that take place entirely in heaven, neither involves a coming to earth. The passive ophthÄ“setai describes a heavenly vision, much like the passive ōphthÄ“ in Revelation 11:19.

This second entry into the sanctuary corresponds to the coming of the Son of man to receive a kingdom, to the vindication of the suffering saints. It emphatically does not refer to a second coming of Christ to earth. That completely misconstrues how the writer uses the high priest typology.

Re: A second coming to earth in Heb.9:28?

Hi Andrew,

I have just been reading, with great interest, your discussion with KJ1.  If I may be so bold as to make a suggestion:  It appears to me that you should think more in terms of "covenant" rather than "historical" and your adversary should think more in terms of "audience relevance," i.e. every Scripture which he is quoting from was written in the first century and was relevant to them and them alone as far as eschatology goes.

KJ is exactly right when he (muted sarcasm) states, "(as the church apparently completely failed to realize that “the days of the Son of Man,” which they’ve been longing to see for at least 1500 years, had already arrived)."  For whatever the reason, that is exactly what happened.

Your statement, "There is no reason to expect the vindication of the martyrs to have been a visible event. In the ‘first resurrection’ those who die because of their testimony to Jesus simply come to life and reign with Christ for a thousand years (Rev. 20:4); they will accompany him at his ‘coming’, but this is not a coming to earth, it is a coming to the throne of God to receive a kingdom."  really got my attention.

The reason that it "really got my attention" is because it is so very close to my own understanding of these things.  I would urge you to drop the use of the word "coming" and in its place insert "presence" which is what "parousia" really means - then your argument takes on even more weight.  I. e. It is Jesus Christ’s resurrected "presence" on the throne of His glory (i.e. the throne of David) where He was joined by the resurrected of 1Cor 15:23 (cf. Rev 4; 1Thess 4:16-17; 1Cor 15:51-53) in His heavenly kingdom. 

Thus, your statement quoted above would now read:  The resurrected ones will accompany him at his ‘presence’, but this is not a coming to earth, it is a presence in the throne of His glory (Matt 25:31, David’s throne) to receive his heavenly kingdom (Dan 7:14, cf. 2Tim 4:18, et al.) which shall reign over the earth (Rev  5:10) from the "thrones" (Rev 20:4) within His heavenly kingdom.

[KJ]Or do you believe that the millennial reign of Rev.20 fills the gap between “His coming” and “the end” in 15:23?

[A] Yes, I think so, though it’s a tricky case to make exegetically.

Maybe not so "tricky" as you may suppose.  If you are willing, I would like to show you what I have written on that subject.

KJ1 wrote, "Its funny, it would seem you and I agree on a lot of how the prophecies of the OT relate to Revelation and the kingdom coming - we just disagree over the little issue of whether it has happened.  That and I am still baffled by your doctrine of secret resurrection."

KJ1 would understand what you are saying if he would only apply the concept of "audience relevance" to his reading of Scripture.  You and I agree that "it has happened" because we see those Scriptures as being "audience relevant" to that first century generation.

Your last post (8 Feb ‘06 11:17am) dealing with Hebrews was right on.  It could (should) be said that Hebrews is the unveiling/revealing of Jesus as "High Priest" and that Revelation is the unveiling/revealing of Jesus as "King of kings and Lord of lords."

In the your discussion with KJ1, you wrote, "According to the elaborate analogy that is being developed Jesus becomes a high priest at the resurrection…As the resurrected one he is seated at the right hand of God;"

While you ostensibly did not, many have taken this "at the right hand of God" motif to be "reganal language" that means that Jesus is reigning as King from the ascension onward.  However, just the opposite is true.  Everyone in the UK should easily understand that if a prince or priest is seated at the right hand of the king, it is the king who is reigning not the prince in waiting or the priest at his right hand.  Thus, the statement "at the right hand of God" clearly states that God is still reigning and Jesus, the High Priest (also Prince in waiting, Acts 3:15, 5:31, cf. Heb 2:10,12:2 ;  Rev 1:5), seated at God’s right hand is not yet reigning.

Jesus does not begin to reign until His Parousia in the throne of His glory (Matt 25:31).  At that same time "those that are Christ’s" at His Parousia are resurrected (1Cor 15:23; cf. 1Cor 15:51-51; 1Thess 4:16-17, and Rev 20:4 ) and as you have stated, "they will accompany him at his ‘coming’, but this is not a coming to earth, it is a coming to the throne of God to receive a kingdom."

Now for a few comments about the High Priest’s work.  You wrote:

"This second entry into the sanctuary corresponds to the coming of the Son of man to receive a kingdom, to the vindication of the suffering saints. It emphatically does not refer to a second coming of Christ to earth. That completely misconstrues how the writer uses the high priest typology."

While I agree with what you are saying above, there is more to it than that.  The high priest typology that the writer of Hebrews is using comes from Lev 16.  There the high priest was to sacrifice a bullock for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering (16:3).  The bullock was to be offered as an atonement for the high priest and for his house (16:6). Thus Jesus offered the bullock (Himself) for the high priest (Himself) and His house (the house of Judah).

Next the high priest was to set aside two lambs - cast lots on the lambs -one for the LORD and one for the scapegoat (16:8; this we find Jesus doing in Matt 25:33)

Then the high priest was to take the lamb designated by lot "for the LORD" and offer "him for a sin offering" but the lamb, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD to make   an atonement with him and let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.

After the bullock the high priest was to take the blood of the sacrifice into the holy of holies and "sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat…seven times."  When this was accomplished the high priest left the holy of holies and appeared before the people.  Jesus did this between the events we find recorded in John 20:17-19.  After Jesus appear to Mary and ordered her not to touch Him, he then ascended into the holy of holies before the father in heaven and placed the blood "upon the mercy seat" then in verse 19 he reappeared to the waiting disciples and allowed them to touch Him because He had now "ascended to the Father."

After the high priest reappeared the first time to the waiting people, he then took the lamb that had earlier been selected "for the LORD"  and offered it as a sin offering for the people.  He then took the blood of the sin offering into the holy of holies and "sprinkled it upon the mercy seat as well 16:15-19).

When everything in 16:15-19 was accomplished the high reappear again from the holy of holies to the waiting people, then he took the lamb that had been selected as the scapegoat; "placed both of his hands on his head and confessed over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel."  We find Jesus doing this in Matt 23 and Matt 25:41-46a.

I trust that by now you are seeing the picture.  In the first century, all of this typology was being fulfilled.  Jesus became the High Priest by His suffering and resurrection.  He was the fulfillment of the "bullock offering" for Himself and his house - the Jews, and the role of the High Priest.  However, contrary to Christian tradition, it appears to me, that He was not the "sin offering" or the "scape goat" of the Levitical typology of sacrifice for atonement

The Jews and the Christian martyrs fulfilled these roles by being the selected lambs (i.e. sheep and goats).  They were selected by the High Priest (Jesus) and the martyrs were offered as the "sin offering" and the apostate Jews became the scapegoat and were cast into the wilderness/darkness were there is gnashing of teeth (Matt 25:30) . 

Ostensibly this suffering of the martyrs is what Paul referenced in Col 1:24 and Peter in 1Peter 4:13, 5:10 (cf. Romans 8:17; 2Cor 1:7; 2Thess 1:5; 2Tim 2:12, 3:12; 1Pet 2:21, 3:14; et al.)  as "filling up" the sufferings of  Christ for the congregation.

In the NT, especially in Hebrews and Revelation we see this typology being fulfilled.  In Rev 6:11 and Rev 20:4 we see the martyrs at the altar and in victory upon the resurrection.  All this typology has been fulfilled.

Enough for now.

Re: A second coming to earth in Heb.9:28?

The goings-on that are being proposed on this thread for the period between the ascension and AD 70 (and the so far unspecified date of a fall of Rome) are becoming an esoteric farrago eclipsing anything in The Da Vinci Code - and it’s all unseen! Just like the Mormons in their assertions that Christ went into the heavenly sanctuary on a genealogical field trip - if it can’t be seen, and has no bearing whatsoever on our lives as lived now, anyone can bring their own theories about the NT data, the capacity of which to be manipulated to fit the text is just about limitless. Well, not limitless - because a much simpler interpretation of the data is at hand, making better sense of all the key events, and having a far greater and more practical bearing on our lives as lived now - and on lives as they were lived by 1st century believers.

The ‘reign’ of Jesus, in the sense that it means anything at all, began at his ascension. As danutz has rightly been saying of different ways of describing God in different contexts, ‘at God’s right hand’ is a metaphor - not a literal statement. (It’s one of the few things I can agree with him about). The metaphor means the rule of Jesus.The phrase ‘at God’s right hand’ signifies authority and power - it’s not a distinction between God’s reign and Jesus’s reign. Jesus received that authority well in advance of AD 70, and delegated it to his disciples well before the fall of Jerusalem, when he said: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" and commanded them to go and make disciples of all nations. The substance of the metaphor, and the content of the command were illustrated and brought powerfully into effect at Pentecost and in the ensuing narrative. 

Again, I proffer a simple alternative to an increasingly esoteric eschatology: the reign of Jesus began at his ascension. It was in the first place not a worldly reign, but signified his victory over sin and death - and new life through the outpoured Spirit. This was not a metaphor, pace danutz. It was the renewing life of God made available to all who believe. It was a real enough reign to bring the early church into conflict with Rome - and gloriously to survive the fiercest of persecutions over a period of 300 years.

The outpoured Spirit was the guarantee not just of the church’s survival, but its amazing growth throughout the known world (and beyond - Thomas being reputed to have taken the gospel to India, and other apostles to equally far-flung places). There didn’t need to be a separate eschatological event focusing on the fall of Jerusalem. That was simply the fulfilment of Jesus’s prophetic warnings about armed resistance to Rome, and the rather muted response to its occurrence in history by the church suggests that was the case. The outpoured Spirit was the guarantee and evidence of Jesus’s victory - achieved primarily through the cross - and availing for the whole world, in fulfilment of the whole thrust of the OT narrative as well as specific prophetic predictions, and as understood, with a few false starts, and help from the Holy Spirit with a few supernatural events, by the early disciples in Acts.

If there must be an eschatological significance attached to the fall of Jerusalem to make sense of the few otherwise contradictory statements in the gospels, and the primary significance (but not the exclusive significance) of Matthew 24 and its parallels, so be it. But that event is the tail-end charlie of the immediate NT story (albeit ‘the end of the world’ to the Jews: metaphor again!) - not the inauguration of a brave new world. That had taken place some 40 years before.

The ascension and outpoured Spirit, as part of a nexus including the death and resurrection of Jesus, to which they attested, introduced a kingdom which is with us today - making the kingdom parables as relevant to us as they were to the 1st century believers. The Spirit expresses the reality of this kingdom by being a ‘deposit’ of a payment-in-full which is yet to come - and will remain yet to come until Jesus’s return - in whatever way that is to be expressed.

There needs to be a distinction between the ‘reign’ of worldly empires which had been seen in the pagan nations which oppressed Israel, and which were aped in the misguided imitation kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and the ‘reign’ of Jesus expressed through the powerful and diverse workings of the Holy Spirit - which is how it works to this day. In this sense the expressions of the Spirit in and through us, described as the ‘new creation’ and ‘the kingdom’, are one and the same. This is how it has been throughout church history - despite the distracting power struggles which have hi-jacked and dominated the history books to the exclusion of the real story, which was quietly taking place in the background all the time.

For sure, the time will come when ‘the reign’ of Jesus is fully expressed across the earth - when the kingdom is handed over to the Father (metaphor again), and God will be all in all, an occurrence not taking place before the return of Jesus. But that kingdom will look quite different from any of the worldly variants - whose character Jesus decisively rejected in the wilderness temptations, and when he began to model in his earthly ministry.

So is Hebrews 9:28 a second coming of Jesus to earth? The logic of Andrew’s, and apparently Lloyd’s interpretation (and some of the rather more extreme preterists) says no. Based on a simpler and rather traditional interpretation of all the key events of Jesus’s history, with a sprinkling of preterism thrown in for good measure, it is.

Re: A second coming to earth in Heb.9:28?

I wasn’t going to get into this thread, but you pulled me in Peter. LOL

I think you are all proving the metaphorical nature of biblical prophecies and you are proving that many conclusions can be drawn from metaphors.   You use the term "reign" and then claim that you are not using a metaphor.  Is Jesus literally a "king".  I think not, but it is a metaphor that 1st century people could relate to.  Just because biblical authors use the metaphor of king and kingdom to describe God and Jesus doesn’t mean that every nuance of kings and kingdoms can apply or that we need to keep God in that box.  You can’t go back and forth between metaphor and literal without confusing your listener and making your theology even more problematic.  You’ve just replaced one metaphpor "at God’s right hand" with another metaphor "Jesus’ reign as king".  Can you dig deeper to describe what is physically beneath these metaphors?

Read back through your post and count the metaphors.  I think you make take the bible more metaphorically than me.  :)

Jesus as king

Ah, Danutz, it’s so good to hear from you! A different perspective at last. I was getting really bored with myself.

The significance of calling Jesus ‘king’ lies in the fact i) that there is a core motif of the struggle for YHWH to be ‘king’ in the Old Testament; and ii) that other literal kings claimed sovereignty over Israel - Herod, for example, or Caesar. These seem to be more significant issues than whether the language is literal or metaphorical. How does Jesus redefine the kingdom of God? How does our confession of Christ as ‘king’ affect our other allegiances?

Re: Jesus as king

I agree Andrew.  For me the central theme of the NT is Jesus’ definition of the KOG as his vision for social and economic justice.  Declaring Jesus as "king" means accepting his message as our rule.  When we do this we declare a rebellion against the oppresive domination systems in power.  That message is the reason those systems killed him.  It means pledging allegiance to the spirit of compassion over the spirit of patriotism, the spirit of justice over the spirit of competition, the spirit of non-violence over violence, the spirit of generosity over the spirit of commercialism.

As far as the second coming, I don’t really get as excited about this as Andrew.  I see it simply as a description of what happens to Empires that are out of control.  I believe it acurately describes what happend in AD70 and it also describes what has happened to countless empires in our history since then. It will continue to happen to empires in our future.  They always grow too big, powerful, and corrupt then they tumble. The point underneath these metaphors is that we need to find our place both spiritually and politically in the process of helping empires tumble.  The most difficult task for us is that we must recognize when our own community has become a dangerous empire.

 

Re: A second coming to earth in Heb.9:28?

Just like the Mormons in their assertions that Christ went into the heavenly sanctuary on a genealogical field trip - if it can’t be seen, and has no bearing whatsoever on our lives as lived now, anyone can bring their own theories about the NT data, the capacity of which to be manipulated to fit the text is just about limitless.

This is very true. But a large part of the letter to the Hebrews describes things that are unseen - things that take place in a heavenly sanctuary. Your simpler (simplistic?) alternative can’t begin to explain these passages. The fact that all sorts of eccentric interpretations abound (perhaps my own included) is not a particularly good reason for not attempting to do serious exegesis.

So is Hebrews 9:28 a second coming of Jesus to earth? The logic of Andrew’s, and apparently Lloyd’s interpretation (and some of the rather more extreme preterists) says no. Based on a simpler and rather traditional interpretation of all the key events of Jesus’s history, with a sprinkling of preterism thrown in for good measure, it is.

The reading I gave seems to me coherent and appropriate. Your appeal to a simpler traditional interpretation strikes me as a rather lame response. Surely you can do better than that!

Re: A second coming to earth in Heb.9:28?

Peter wrote, "The metaphor means the rule of Jesus.The phrase ‘at God’s right hand’ signifies authority and power - it’s not a distinction between God’s reign and Jesus’s reign. Jesus received that authority well in advance of AD 70, and delegated it to his disciples well before the fall of Jerusalem, when he said: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" and commanded them to go and make disciples of all nations. The substance of the metaphor, and the content of the command were illustrated and brought powerfully into effect at Pentecost and in the ensuing narrative."

In the above paragraph Peter restates some traditional christian mythological assertions, but I see nary a single piece of biblical evidence to support those assertions.

If the Bible makes no distinction between "God’s reign" and "Christ’s reign," then we must ask ourselves what in the world Paul is writing about in 1Cor 15:23ff.  In verse 25 Paul writes that Jesus "must reign until…"  In that context, it seems clear to this writer at least, that the "reign" of which Paul writes begins at the "Parousia" of Christ (v23) and eventually ends when "He has subdued all things unto Himself; at which time He will "deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father…subject Himself and the kingdom unto the Father, that God may be all in all."

The biblical sequence is: God is the King of Israel (Isa 44:6), God establishes a kingdom for His son (Dan 2:44), Jesus recieves that kingdom (Dan 7:14) at His Parousia (1Cor 15:23; Rev 11:15; et al.), the resurrected saints join Him in that new "heavenly" (2Tim 4:18) kingdom (Dan 7:18, 22, 27; cf. Matt 19:28, 25:31; Rev 7:9-14, 10:7, 14:13, 15:8, 19:7-9, 20:4, 21:1-22:6; et al.), the new Israel of God (Col 6:16), Jesus reigns until He has subdued all things (1Cor15:28) at which time He delivers up the Heavenly kingdom to the Father (1Cor 15:24) that God may be all in all (1Cor 15:28c).

Peter further asserts, "The ‘reign’ of Jesus, in the sense that it means anything at all, began at his ascension…Jesus received that authority well in advance of AD 70, and delegated it to his disciples well before the fall of Jerusalem, when he said: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" and commanded them to go and make disciples of all nations."  But again, he offers no evidence for that assertion.  Therefore, it is simply an unsubstantiated opinion.

His claim that "Jesus received that authority well in advance of AD 70" is based, in my opinion, on a faulty translation or interpretation of Matt 28:18.  The Greek verb in that statement is in the aorist tense and should not be translated "has been given," but "is given" (as a certain and sure thing, as the Greek aorist indicates, but not necessary given at the time of the statement).  Therefore, contrary to Peter assertion, this verse does not contradict that which is presented above.  Jesus recieved His heavenly kingdom at His Parousia when He took His rightful seat in the throne of His glory" (Matt 25:31b).

Re: A second coming to earth in Heb.9:28?

If I could reply briefly to danutz and Lloyd - since the substance of their comments overlaps somewhat.

I was being very careful (I thought) in my discussion on metaphor and the ‘reign of Jesus’. The kind of power and authority which this reign exemplifies was seen in the actual (non-metaphorical) outpouring of the Spirit - the Spirit of life, which fulfilled OT prophecy, and signified Jesus’s victory over the central, underlying and rumbling concern of the OT - sin and death. And I’m in agreement with danutz on another point: the way that life is intended to be expressed now is through community in which practical justice and equality are demonstrated. It is indeed a social agenda as much as a spiritual one - but you cannot have the former without the latter.

I may be misunderstanding Lloyd’s comment - but for me Matthew 28:18 is expressed, again, in the outpouring of the Spirit, which indicated exactly wherein Jesus’s authority (and power) now lay - the same as described in the previous paragraph. The ‘until’ of 1 Corinthians 15, and the handing over of the kingdom to the Father, both refer to the return of Jesus to this earth (as described in Hebrews 9:28). I don’t read a premillennial significance into ‘until’. Again, we are in the realm of metaphor - Jesus reigns continually, but on earth incompletely, until, at his return, the reality of God becomes all-encompassing - the earth shall be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea. The prophetic thrust is that we participate in that spreading glory now - in the certain hope of its eventual complete fulfilment.

Yes, it is a conservative and old-fashioned interpretation - but the best of the lot, as far as I am concerned. And it incorporates much of Lloyd’s, Andrew’s and danutz’s concerns and schemes. It is a radical interpretation - as it calls for action which unites spiritual realities (non-metaphorical) with social action and justice agendas. It’s the only one that does not fragment and divide the agendas. It has been the true agenda of the church throughout the ages - and has always been expressed by the church in one place or another.

Re: A second coming to earth in Heb.9:28?

Peter, can you speak for a minute about what this reign literally means?  I don’t seem to see how your argument ever leaves the metaphorical and moves into the literal.  What literally has happend with the outpouring of the spirit? Or what literally would you expect to happen in a "return". 

Re: A second coming to earth in Heb.9:28?

Danutz - in a nutshell - with the coming of the Spirit, believers are literally enabled to enter into personal communion with God, through the Spirit, in a way that had not been possible before. The Spirit has this vertical emphasis, as well as a horizontal emphasis, in being the means of drawing together the people of God in a true unity that is not possible through any other means, and an outward emphasis - in being the channel through which God dispenses his life in a variety of forms, ways and expressions today (I have in mind the love, healing, creativity, and actions which are motivated and energised by the Spirit). The Spirit is the means whereby we experience personally the intimate love of God, and intimacy of true community with each other.

The ‘reign’ of Jesus is a metaphor which draws together Jesus’s role and actions in making the gift of the Spirit possible. The Spirit provides the assurance of Jesus’s victory over our primary enemies: sin and death. The gift of the Spirit is so important because it is the means and content of God’s working in the world today. I do not deny that there are many actions and expressions which convey something of God’s intent and character in perhaps parallel ways. I am asserting that through the Spirit, God’s specific plans and purposes are brought into being for the world.

I do question the citing of Gandhi as an example of someone who promoted the purposes of Jesus without being specifically a Christian believer, and without entertaining the kinds of things I am asserting, because I don’t think that Gandhi brought about a state of affairs that Jesus would have put his name to (especially in the light of recent historical discoveries). In the end, he wanted independence for India, not the kingdom of God. I also question the citing of Tolstoy as an example of someone who practised the sermon on the mount in a similar way. He may have had high ideals, which may have influenced Gandhi, but his personal life and treatment of his own family totally contradicted his ideals. But I certainly don’t discount God using people who do not know him, sometimes maybe despite themselves, to achieve his purposes. That would be true before the coming of Jesus as much as afterwards.

Given that all language is metaphorical to some degree, this description is not non-metaphorical, but it is as free of deliberate metaphor as I can make it. In other words, I have not used language which self-consciously sets out to describe one thing explicitly in terms of another, although I think metaphor opens the window into seeing and understanding realities which God wants to make known to us. I just believe that there are realities behind the metaphor.

Re: A second coming to earth in Heb.9:28?

I agree that there are realities behind the metaphors but I’ve not yet heard you speak about them.  Spirit, vertical, horizontal, outward, channel…. these are all metaphors.  Where is the literal explanation?

I think that the closer you get to explaning these metaphors in real literal ways the closer you will get to understanding that those literal ways are found as strong or stronger in other types of faith. Only the language and particular metaphors are unique to one faith or another. The underlying principles, emotions, truths, and God are the same.

…don’t think that Gandhi brought about a state of affairs that Jesus would have put his name to (especially in the light of recent historical discoveries). In the end, he wanted independence for India, not the kingdom of God…

I’m not sure why you have a problem with Gandhi or Tolstoy other than your more narrow understanding of them and your more narrow understanding of God. Gandhi’s work was NOT limited to India his training began in South Africa and his social efforts were intrumental there as well. The kingdom of God as taught by Jesus was the centerpiece of his work. He stated that plainly many times. Tolstoy was a Christian, so I’m not sure why you have such a hard time with him. Maybe you are a card carrying republican and you fear a reference that is wrong shade of "red"? This is really the wrong topic for his discussion. We are on a serious rabbit trail. To get back on topic, I think I would ask you what exactly is the "reign" of Jeusus? What does that metaphor mean literally and how would that effect a return to power?

Re: A second coming to earth in Heb.9:28?

Danutz - I’m assuming you are now engaging in what we Brits call a wind-up. Most people with an elementary understanding of English would understand perfectly what I have been saying. If you want anything else, be more specific - and look carefully, at what I’ve been saying in all the comments about Gandhi and Tolstoy please. Could you say a little more about yourself and your own religious, political and social background please?

Re: A second coming to earth in Heb.9:28?

We probably should continue this offline since we are off-topic. I’ll send you a private message.

Re: A second coming to earth in Heb.9:28?

Lloyd, I don’t understand what you are saying about using ‘covenant’ rather than ‘historical’. Both thoughts are relevant, but they mean different things.

The word parousia signifies, or at least strongly suggests, a bit more than just ‘presence’. I think it is reasonable to hear in the use of the word biblically the idea of ‘presence as a consequence of a recent coming’ - it records the impact of the new or unexpected presence of a significant figure. To what extent this nuance is meant to capture the ‘coming’ (erchomenon) of Jesus’ recollection of Daniel 7:13 I’m not sure. But the significance of the Son of man vision suggests that movement plays some part in the overall conception - it is just not a movement to earth. You also have the question of whether the thought of the parousia of a ruler to a town has any bearing on Paul’s conception of Christ’s parousia. Here again you have the connotation of coming in order to be present, of a recent arrival. Finally there is the Old Testament motif of YHWH coming from Mount Zion either to judge his people or to rescue them from their enemies - I’m quite sure that this also plays into the overall apocalyptic narrative in the New Testament. This is a hastily thrown together assortment of ideas, but while I agree with the in general terms about the meaning of parousia, I would suggest that the whole notion is a bit more complex than you suggest.

The suggestion that Jesus ‘ascended to the Father’ between the appearance to Mary and the appearance to the disciples in John 20:17-19 seems rather too fanciful, and in any case not easily squared with the narrative in Hebrews 9. I suppose one could just about imagine that John thought that Jesus ascended immediately after the meeting with Mary and then came back again, but to superimpose on this the high priest typology is too speculative for my liking.

I don’t find the argument about the scapegoat very convincing, particularly in relation to Matthew 25:31-46. i) There is no apparent allusion to the scapegoat narrative in this passage - and there are too many goats. ii) It is the nations who are separated, not faithful from apostate Israel. iii) There are three, not two groups involved: the sheep who treat the disciples well, the goats who mistreat them, and the disciples themselves who will suffer hardship and who, I would have thought, correspond most closely to the ‘martyrs’. The sheep are rewarded not for dying but for taking care of the disciples.

I agree with your basic argument about the suffering of the martyrs, but I am also very wary of over-interpreting scripture. We have a bad habit of reading arguments - even good biblical arguments - back into texts where they don’t belong. I’m sure I am guilty of this myself, but I think that the emerging church has a particular aversion to over-enthusiastic theologizing - there is a need, therefore, for restraint, relevance, and realism in our approach to the reading of scripture.
 

Re: A second coming to earth in Heb.9:28?

[Andrew wrote]

Lloyd, I don’t understand what you are saying about using ‘covenant’ rather than ‘historical’. Both thoughts are relevant, but they mean different things.

I did not actually say ‘covenant rather than ‘historical.’  In my understanding the Bible is essentially a book of "covenantal establishment, covenantal history, covenantal prophecy/promise, and covenantal prophecy/promise fulfilled.  I fully agree with you that both historical and covenantal aspects are "relevant."  Therefore, when we study the Bible it is essential to keep all these things in proper perspective.  As I read your work, it seems to me (I could be wrong) that you have more emphasis on the  "historical" than the "covenantal" aspects thus a lack of balance.  In my opinion, it is impossible to understand the NT properly without a proper understanding of "covenantal history" and "covenantal promise" because the NT is primarily and essentially a book of "covenantal fulfillment."  Any attempt to study the NT apart from this is doomed to failure.

I have no particular problem with your statement that, "The word parousia signifies, or at least strongly suggests, a bit more than just ‘presence’. I think it is reasonable to hear in the use of the word biblically the idea of ‘presence as a consequence of a recent coming’ - it records the impact of the new or unexpected presence of a significant figure"  especially when seen in the light of your understanding of the coming into the kingdom.  However, I would have preference for the edited version below:

The word parousia signifies, or at least strongly suggests, a bit more than just ‘presence’. I think it is reasonable to hear -  in the biblical use of the word -  the idea of ‘presence as a consequence of a recent coming’ - it records the presence and continuing impact of the new significant figure, whether expected or unexpected.

Whatever our preference for the above statement, when it is all said and done the emphasis on the word Parousia should be on the presence (present and continuing impact) of the significant figure - in this case Jesus Christ - not the "coming" as has been done by most translators.  That has opened the door  to all sorts of error.

I am sorry that you got the "notion" that the whole idea of the Parousia is a bit more complex than I suggest" because I was trying to convey the idea that the Parousia was more complex than has been ostensibly suggested by most commentators, especially futurists.

In the Bible, the word "parousia" is used several times apart from any reference to Jesus.  A thorough study of the usage of that word in the NT sheds a great deal of light on what Paul and the others understood about the Parousia of Jesus Christ and their understanding certainly was not the same as that of the modern futurist church. 

I am sorry that:

"The suggestion that Jesus ‘ascended to the Father’ between the appearance to Mary and the appearance to the disciples in John 20:17-19 seems rather too fanciful, and in any case not easily squared with the narrative in Hebrews 9. I suppose one could just about imagine that John thought that Jesus ascended immediately after the meeting with Mary and then came back again, but to superimpose on this the high priest typology is too speculative for my liking."

Okay, so let’s leave out the superimposition of the typology for the present and take a careful look at that passage:

Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and [to] My God and your God.’" (John 20:17 NKJV)

How else can one understand the words of Jesus to Mary as recorded here by John?  In context, Jesus precisely and specifically ordered Mary to not touch or cling to Him and the reason that Jesus gave for that order was that He "had not yet ascended to My Father."  Then Jesus precisely and specifically told Mary, "go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father…"  If I was in Mary’s place, there at the tomb in the first century, I am sure that I would have understood Jesus to have said that He was immediately going to ascend to the Father; especially in light of the fact that Jesus specifically ordered Mary not to touch or cling to Him and later He specifically instructed Thomas to "put your finger/hand here (touch me) and believe."

What took place between - the time when Jesus ordered Mary to not touch Him because He had not ascended to the Father - and - the time when he instructed Thomas to touch Him and believe.  According to Jesus’ own words He ascended to His Father, placed the blood on the mercy seat and returned! 

Now He could allow the disciples to touch Him because the purity of the sacrifice was no longer in danger of contamination.  I fail to understand how something so clearly stated can be represented as "rather too fanciful."

The reference to "the narrative in Hebrews 9" is rather broad so I can only assume that you are referring, at least in part to 9:11-12:  "..Christ, becoming (by His resurrection) a high priest…by His own blood…entered once into the holy place…(where the mercy seat was)."   Nothing is this narrative disagrees in any way with the narrative in John 20 discussed above.  When Jesus ascended to the father (i.e. John 20:7)…He entered once into the holy place and thus "obtained eternal redemption."  No second entry was needed.  It appears to me that John 20 as discussed above is in complete harmony with Hebrews 9:11-12.

And, the above is in harmony with Hebrews 9:24 as well.  Here the author of Hebrews is not making reference to Christ’s enter into the "holy place" (i.e. the mercy seat) as he did in 11-1, but is instead referring to Christ’s ascension into "heaven" where He awaits, in the "presence of God," for His Parousia; because He has already appeared  in the "holy place…to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself."  So this "Christ was once offered (John 20:17; Heb 9:11-12) to bear the sin of many; and unto them that look for Him He shall appear the second time (i.e. the Parousia) without sin unto salvation."  I submit, for your consideration, that the narrative in John 20:17 & 27 is "easily squared with the narrative in Hebrews 9;" so easily, in fact, that the narrative in Hebrews 9 makes little sense without it.

I did not say that my idea about the "scapegoat" was perfected (fully worked out), nor did I mean to imply that it was.  However, I do think that it is a start in the right direction and your thoughts on Matthew 25:31-46 simply add impetus to the eventual full and proper understanding of the scapegoat typology.

Re: A second coming to earth in Heb.9:28?

Finally there is the Old Testament motif of YHWH coming from Mount Zion
either to judge his people or to rescue them from their enemies - I’m
quite sure that this also plays into the overall apocalyptic narrative
in the New Testament. This is a hastily thrown together assortment of
ideas, but while I agree with the in general terms about the meaning of
parousia, I would suggest that the whole notion is a bit more complex than you suggest.

Andrew if I may point out just a couple of things in regard to your observation about Zion.  As of late I have been putting serious effort into understanding the Hebrew foundation of the New Testament (and I believe there is one).  Your observation that God comes from Zion to judge or rescue his people is crucial in this discussion.  It seems that in Hebrew, the word "salvation" is rarely used.  Rather "righteousness" is being used as a synonym to salvation.

For example, in Isaiah 51:5 we read in the typical poetic and repetitive Hebrew way:

my righteousness is near

my salvation is gone forth

In this case salvation and righteousness are one and the same thing. In Isaiah 1:26 we read that "Zion is the the city of righteousness" and in Jeremiah 23 and 33 we read that "The Lord is our righteousness."

Perhaps we should reconsider the paradigm that paints Zion and God as two separate entities.  What if Zion, Righteousness, Judgment, God, Jerusalem, New Jerusalem, the Parousia, etc are all the very same thing?  Afterall David’s strange request for the punishment of his enemies is "Don’t let them come into your righteousness" and Jesus encourages the disciples to "seek the kingdom and HIS righteousness" not ITS righteousness. 

So it seems that perhaps Christ is all those things we are all trying so hard to define: in Christ (in Zion, in New Jerusalem, in his Parousia, in his Righteousness) is salvation, be it salvation from the destruction of A.D. 70, salvation from the Lake of Fire (whatever that may be), salvaltion from societal and personal struggles, etc.

Re: A second coming to earth in Heb.9:28?

Brother Andrew,

Indeed, let us follow the book of Hebrews carefully (said in deep, affected, pastoral tones).

"According to the elaborate analogy that is being developed Jesus becomes a high priest at the resurrection. This is apparent from 5:5-10; 6:20; 7:15-16, 20-21, and the allusions to Psalms 2 and 110."

Andrew, you cannot force a wedge here, arguing that he only becomes a high priest (and thus enacts the ministry of a priest) at the resurrection, as though the cross that precedes it has little or nothing to do with his priestly ministry, where the author of Hebrews sees a seamless continuity.  Rather, from his incarnation, the author of Hebrews argues, through what he suffered on earth, and, culminating in his death on the cross, he became the perfect source of salvation for all who believe on him (5:9; cf. 10:14).  Because of his temptations on earth, for example, he is a sympathetic high priest who understands our weaknesses (He.2:10-18).  And through the obedience learned in what he suffered he is made perfect as a priest who atones and intercedes efficaciously for his people.

You are correct in noting that psalm 2 and 110 are messianic enthronement psalms, and speak of his ‘coronation’, if you will (cf. He.2:9).  He is certainly crowned as the conquering one, the victorious Messiah who has been ‘installed on Zion’, and concerning his priesthood (of the order of Melchizedek), it speaks of his having finished the work of atonement. Thus, "when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God," He.10:27.  Note, he was a priest when he offered his sacrifice for sins, which was clearly his death on the cross (1:3).  For "He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself," 7:27.  

So let’s follow this carefully: He sacrificed for sins WHEN He offered Himself.  When did He do this? When did He ‘put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself’?  When did he execute the ‘sacrifice of Himself’?  When did he offer up himself (note again the passive or reflexive voice here) for sins?  On what basis did he enter the holy place, but by his own blood (He.9:12; cf.9:14; 13:12)?  And where was His blood shed? 

Thus 9:26 speaks not of His entering the heavenly tabernacle, as you say, but His sacrifice on Calvary, on the basis of which He enters the true temple of heaven.  Sacrifice is done outside the camp, and the blood then brought inside the Most Holy Place (as you note, and see 13:12-13).  "He appeared once for all to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself."  This ‘sacrifice of Himself’ clearly took place on earth, "outside the campe". Hence, otherwise "he would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world", v.26b, a suffering that clearly was/would be ‘terrestrial’.  

Nevertheless v.28 is clear: Christ ‘was sacrificed’ (NIV), or "having been offered" (NAS) - note again that this is NOT the act of the priest entering the tabernacle, it is rather acted upon the victim which is being sacrificed outside the Most Holy Place! - once "to take away the sins of the people." 

It seems you’re mixing your metaphors, my friend.  A priest does not enter the Most Holy Place to be offered (passive) for sins; rather he offers (active) blood not his own (9:25).  Jesus is presented in Hebrews though as both high priest and sacrifice.  You are only factoring his active priestly role into his royal priesthood, when in fact this priest passively/reflexively offered up himself on the altar as it were, a death that took place outside the camp (where in laying down his life, he was simultanously acting as priest and [acted upon as] victim).

Offering, btw, speaks not just of the act of bringing the sacrificial blood into the tabernacle but also the act of sacrifice itself (e.g., as in the case of Abraham ‘offering up’ Isaac on the altar). 

His appearance at the ‘end of the age’ then clearly speaks of His earthly ‘humiliation’.  Thus He.1:1-2 says: "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son," and so on. His appearance in the last days (in the fullness of time) speaks of his ‘manifestation’ on earth in the first advent. 

Your demand that his priesthood was limited to His post-resurrection existence is too artificial and rigid for the robust, living theology of the NT, where, despite the clear link of resurrection to Ps.2 and 110 in Acts 13:33 and elsewhere, Jesus is nevertheless rightly called ‘Lord’ before His ascension (even before His birth, Lk.1:43), He is still identified as the Messiah before His resurrection from the dead (Mt.16:16), and declared by the heavenly Majesty to be ‘My Son’ before He sat down at the right hand as King (Mt.3:17; 17:5), indeed His ‘only-begotten’ glory was revealed throughout His earthly ministry (Jn.1:14).  

Jesus’ resurrection did not constitue His messianic identity, it did not even ‘anoint’ Him for His messianic ministry (Lk.3:21-22; 4:14-21; the performance of which revealed His identity, for those with eyes to see Lk.7:20-23), but declared Him to be the Son of God, the Messiah in power (in contrast to the so-called messianic secret of his earlier career, e.g., Mt.16:20). 

It is not without good reason then that tradition has titled John 17 as the high priestly prayer, where Jesus acts as intercessor, even sancitfying himself (no doubt for the impending events) for the sake of his disciples.  Jesus’ whole ministry, from one perspective, was a priestly ministry, a ‘making perfect’ of his high priestly role as atonement and intercessor for men and women. 

"But the writer then says that there will be a second appearance in the sanctuary,"

It is clear from the grammar and context that the second appearance is not in the sanctuary of heaven.  If you’re going to continue to insist on this interpretation, you still must explain how it is that Jesus sacrifices himself in heaven (not merely offers his blood, which is an active work of the priestly service), per your reading of Heb.9.

"This is clearly a salvation that those waiting do not yet have: an ending to their suffering and uncertainty."

And the receiving of an eternal kingdom that transcends the created order, a kingdom revealed in the cataclysmic ‘shaking of heaven and earth’ (He.12:26-28; cf. 1:11-12), and the world to come subjected to a redeemed humanity (He.2:5-9).  "Has this happened yet?", asks Captain Obvious.  Or do you limit the ‘people of God’ for whom the Sabbath-rest is yet future (at that point anyway) to the martyrs of the faith (He.4:9)?

   

Jesus as high priest

Sorry, I still think the writer portrays Jesus as a high priest from the resurrection/ascension onwards.

1. The typology requires this in that he is specifically a heavenly high priest corresponding to the earthly high priest: he plays the role only in heaven. This seems to be made perfectly clear in Hebrew 8:4: ‘if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all….’ He is a priest only insofar as he has ‘obtained’ or been appointed to a heavenly ministry.

2. Hebrews 5:5 suggests that at some point Jesus was not high priest; it was a status that lay in the future to which he would be appointed. He did not exalt himself to be made high priest any more than he exalted himself to be equal to God (Phil.2:6); it was at the resurrection that he was exalted to the right hand of God, and at the resurrection that he was given the status of high priest which he did not demand when he was alive.

This is reinforced by 6:19-20: having become a high priest because of his suffering he enters into the inner shrine. In this he is a ‘forerunner’. The suffering believers are expected to do the same thing: suffer and then attain the same hope. Similarly 7:28: Jesus is appointed as high priest because he was the Son who has been made perfect through suffering (cf. 5:8-9).

3. There is a seamless continuity: it was because of his prayers, his godly fear, his obedience that he was ‘made perfect’, ‘became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him’, and was ‘called by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek’ (5:7-10). This is a natural progression: the high priest is appointed because of the qualities that he exhibits. So he is a sympathetic high priest because he suffered on earth - he understands the persecutions that the church is going through. But this does not mean that he must have been a high priest when he was suffering: rather it was the suffering that qualified him to become a heavenly high priest.

4. What Hebrews 7:27 refers to is not the death but the offering of what has been killed to God: he offered up himself as one who had been killed. In the Old Testament the offering is, for example, the burning of part of the animal on the altar, because the smell of the burning is the means by which it reaches the Lord (cf. Lev. 3:16; 4:31; 7:5; 8:16). When the sacrifice is offered, it is already dead (this is very clear in Lev. 17:5 where the animal is killed in the field and then brought to the tabernacle to be offered). This is fully consistent with Hebrews 9:25 and 28: the high priest offers the blood of the dead animal in the Holy Place; Jesus offers his own blood, shed at his earlier crucifixion, not repeatedly but just once, once and for all, on this first entry into the inner tent. In the terms of the analogy it is not his death which is once and for all but the subsequent offering of his blood in the heavenly sanctuary.

The ‘sacrifice’ of Isaac is not an exception to this. Abraham is told to take his son and ‘offer him… as a burnt offering’: it is the burning of the victim that constitutes the offering, not the killing - that is merely presupposed. Later Abraham took the ram, killed it, and then offered it as a burnt offering to God.

So again, I disagree that 9:26 refers to the crucifixion. The crucifixion corresponds to the killing of the animal; what is depicted here is the offering of that sacrifice by the high priest in the Holy Place in the presence of God. Jesus has become that high priest because he was made perfect, was qualified for the role, through obedience and suffering. He does not act as high priest in allowing himself to be sacrificed - because the earthly/heavenly typology would fall apart at that point. And there is far too much in the letter that makes his appointment as high priest dependent upon and subsequent to his suffering and death.

If you’re going to continue to insist on this interpretation, you still must explain how it is that Jesus sacrifices himself in heaven (not merely offers his blood, which is an active work of the priestly service), per your reading of Heb.9.

Jesus does not sacrifice himself in heaven; high priests don’t sacrifice themselves. There is nothing to explain. On earth he was the sacrificial victim; in the heavenly sanctuary, having been made high priest on account of his obedience, he offers his death, his blood, as the basis for redemption.

And again, therefore, I will repeat the point: 9:28 does not describe a second coming of Christ to earth but a second appearance in the heavenly sanctuary to save the suffering (and impatient!) church to which the letter is written. This is the point at which all this abstruse theologizing acquires real spiritual relevance: it speaks to the actual, concrete circumstances of the letter’s readership.

Re: Jesus as high priest

Andrew,

You still want your cake and eat it too.  You want a high priest in heaven (which we have), having entered heaven itself to present His blood as the cleasning for sins (which He did), while denying that this priest suffered (in his priestly capacity) as the sacrificial victim ‘outside the camp.’  Do you really think it coherent to isolate His heavenly priestly ministry from the earthly offering up of Himself as sacral victim on calvary?  When He offered up His life on the cross as the victim (laying down his life, as John’s gospel puts it), you’re saying, he was NOT acting in his priestly office as the Messiah of Ps.110?  Sorry, man, this is just too artificial and contrived.  He obviously was functioning in his preistly capacities on earth, just as he exercised messianic authority prior to his ascension and ‘coronation’.

You rightly note that priests do not offer up themselves in the Most Holy Place.  That is precisely the glory of His priesthood - He enters the heavenly tabernacle through His own blood!  Blood shed not in isolation of his priestly ministry, but as part and parcel of it (just as slaying the animal was part and parcel of the priestly service in the Levitical economy).  It is the basis of His continuing intercessory ministry.  How can you deny this?  (Perhaps because your prior eschatological commitments forbid you from seeing it otherwise?)   

"In the terms of the analogy it is not his death which is once and for all but the subsequent offering of his blood in the heavenly sanctuary."

As in Leviticus, this is all of a piece.  Read again Leviticus 1:2ff.  The offering up of the animal to the Lord INCLUDES the slaughter of that animal.  And so with Abraham’s offering up of Isaac.

Regarding this, you write "Abraham is told to take his son and ‘offer him… as a burnt offering’: it is the burning of the victim that constitutes the offering, not the killing". 

But once again you are carving up what was seen as a single ‘complex’ of events into artificial compartments (‘offering’ Isaac refers only to the burning of the corpse, not the plunging of the blade into his chest?  This is absurd).

So Jesus offered up himself once and for all on the cross, and entered the heavenlies, cleansing for sin once and for all. This is not either/or, as you’re suggesting.  Hence, to repeat myself, otherwise he "would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world," 9:26.

And again, you fail to explain the significance of the passive verb, where in Jesus is not acting as priest, speaking precisely, but being acted upon as victim, as in 9:28 and elsewhere.  Your continued insistence that it refers to the priestly task of offering blood in the Most Holy Place is just skirting the issue, and apparently missing the point.

Re: Jesus as high priest

I have greatly enjoyed this exchange, but I think we probably need to start winding it up and agree to disagree. I don’t think I can make it any clearer without simply repeating myself.

The passive in 9:28 makes no difference: this is the form that the analogy imposes upon it. The argument carries forward into 10:1-4 where the passive is used for the repeated offering of the blood of bulls and goats. The ‘having been offered once’ contrasts with the ‘are continually offered year after year’. Again, the presentation of what has been sacrificed is at the forefront here, not the killing.

Of course, in most cases the ‘offering’ of the animal implicitly includes the killing of the animal. But this does not alter the fact that strictly the ‘offering’ is the act of presenting what has been sacrificed to God. In order to maintain the structure of the earthly-heavenly typology the writer to the Hebrews separates out the earthly event of Christ’s death from the ministry of the high priest in the temple. Remember, when an animal is killed, it doesn’t usually rise again from the dead and ascend into heaven. We are not in normal sacrificial territory here. We are in an analogy constructed for the benefit of first century Jews. It’s not surprising it sounds contrived. Analogies are contrived - they are not descriptive but exploratory, heuristic; they carry argumentation.

You have also consistently avoided what I consider to be a crucial point - the repeated and clear emphasis on Christ becoming or being appointed high priest because of his suffering, subsequent to his death - being qualified for the role of high priest by his obedience.

Jesus as victim and priest

Andrew,

Funny, you seem quite eager to delve into the details of the analogy drawn in Hebrews until those analogical details cast doubt upon your reading. However, you cannot reduce the significance of the passive verb to merely an aspect of the analogy without either failing to understand the analogy or obscuring its meaning in the interest of avoiding snags in your interpretation.  Jesus was offered in his first advent as a sacrifice for sins, in his death (note also the parallel drawn to death in v.27).  It is possible to understand the passive as either reflexive (though there is no reflexive pronoun here), in which case Christ was acting simultaneously as high priest and victim, or as a divine passive in which God was offering up Christ (perhaps under the influence of Isa.53:10 LXX).  The former is to be preferred in this context (v.26, he does away with sin "by the sacrifice of Himself").  Though Hebrews see this as a single act (contra your confinement of Christ’s priesthood, and apparently, therefore, His messianic office per Ps.110, to his heavenly session) or a single complex of events, nevertheless in that "Christ was sacrificed" (was offered) it is clear that this is distinct from His approaching the heavenly temple with His shed blood, as in He.9:23-25 and elsewhere.  This follows the analogy of the Levitical sacrificial rite: the blood of the victim is shed (i.e., the victim is sacrificed), then the the blood is brought into the Most Holy Place (i.e, the priest offers the blood up in the Temple).  You however are arguing that Christ’s being sacrificed (His blood shed) is identical with His ‘sprinkling blood’ in the Most Holy Place, thus confusing not only the sequence of events from ‘the cross to the sky’ but also the sequence of events in the sacrificial cultus, upon which the analogy is based. You are ironically mixing up the details of the analogy you are so wanting to press, as you must in (strangely) denying that his priestly service included the sacrifice of calvary. 

Your reference to 10:1-4 only argues against your case, as the passive in v.2 refers to the things sacrificed (whether to their slaughter/bloodshed or their blood being offered - but again, I  think these things were seen as a whole), NOT to the act of the priests in offering them w/in the temple.  Again my point stands.  Jesus is victim as well as high priest as the Messiah.  Your reconstruction of the analogy simply breaks down against the grammar here.  And you still have no answer for it. 

Moreover, your interpretation seems out of sync with the rest of the NT.  Hebrews 9:28 says "so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him."  As I’ve argued, it is clear (see, for example, the careful argument of Paul Ellingworth in his NIGTC commentary, just for a fresh voice) that the passive verb signifies the death of Christ.  The connection of His death, in the first coming, to ‘bear sin’ is repeated in 1Peter 2:24, where bearing sin (same verb and voice) is in "his body on the tree."  What do you say, Andrew?  Was he not a priest in bearing our sins away?  The very question underlines the absurdity of your scheme.

Secondly, the ‘appearing’ of Christ here (another passive verb with idea of being revealed, unveiled, made to appear or be seen) is an interesting word.  It appears in its identical form in numerous places in the LXX, where it speaks of the visible revelation of God’s glory or to the unveiling of something, such that it is seen or exposed (e.g., Ps.101:17; Is.40:5; 60:2; Jer.13:26; etc.).  The similar concept of Christ’s ‘appearing’ in the NT consistently speaks of either His second coming (parousia) or His first advent (as in 2Ti.1:10).  The coming into the Father’s presence during the ascension/session of Christ is never witnessed nor discussed in such terms.  I think the idea of Christ appearing once in the Father’s presence and then to appear again (as though He isn’t continually before the face of God, 9:24) would have been incoherent to the NT audience, who clearly understood that the Lord sat at the right hand of Majesty (emphasis on ‘sat’ as in, there He stayed as victor on His throne).   

 "You have also consistently avoided what I consider to be a crucial point - the repeated and clear emphasis on Christ becoming or being appointed high priest because of his suffering, subsequent to his death - being qualified for the role of high priest by his obedience."

I do not see any contradiction here to His priestly office pertaining to such obedience learned and prayers and groanings offered and heard because of his piety, etc.  He is appointed in the sense that the atonement for sin (or purification, 1:3) accomplished at Calvary is the culmination of an intercessory office inaugurated in his incarnation (which Hebrews refers to twice in this connection), in which the efficacy of his priesthood is established/announced.  In a sense, then, his appointment in the resurrection/ascension/session is the announcment of His having conquered sins, atoned for His people, and thereby perfected them ALREADY as priest (10:12-14).  His priestly work of offering sacrifices on behalf of His people is finished (before his office even began, according to your interpretation).  He now sits on the throne as the victor priest-king according to the precedent of Melchizedek (see also Zechariah 6).  He now intercedes for His people on the basis of blood already shed, having already cleansed ‘the most holy place’, on which basis we boldly now approach the divine throne.  This priest has no more sacrifices to offer, thereby underlining the efficacy of his priesthood (as the the repeated offerings of the levitical order demonstrate their ineffectiveness).  

Re: Jesus as victim and priest

I thought I had little more to add to this discussion, but having summarized the main part of the argument again (as much for my benefit as for yours), I think I need to take a different approach to Hebrews 9:28. I hope you won’t find the main part of the summary too depressing - if you look carefully, you will see some adjustments and shifts of emphasis in response to your feedback.

So, first of all, the summary. The language of ‘offering’ does not refer to the killing of the animal, rather it has in view the presentation of the blood of the animal in the Holy Place - the act of offering what has been killed to God. Like the Greek the Hebrew (qrb) has the connotation of ‘bringing near, presenting’ before the Lord. Because under normal circumstances the killing and the offering go hand in hand, ‘offering’ will often refer to the whole event. But these are not normal circumstances. Between Christ’s death and the presentation of his blood in the Holy Place there intervenes the resurrection and ascension - and, I would argue, his appointment to the position of high priest. So when ‘offering’ is used in Hebrews in the context of Christ’s entry into the presence of God as the great high priest, the focus is not on his death but on the presentation of his blood. 

The offering of himself in 9:25 is not a reference to his death: it corresponds to what the high priest does when he enters the Holy Place ‘with blood not his own’. The passive offering of Christ himself has the same meaning. The offering of Christ is the offering of his blood in the sanctuary. This, according to the analogy, is the act which secures an ‘eternal redemption’ (Heb. 9:12; cf. 9:28). The distinction between offering and suffering is also evident in 9:25-26: in order to offer himself repeatedly, as the earthly high priest offers blood repeatedly, he would have to suffer repeatedly because a high priest can only offer what has been killed. The argument here requires that these should be two separate events.

This, then, is Christ’s first appearance in the heavenly sanctuary: he offers his blood, or himself, in the Holy Place in order to deal with sin. It does not correspond to some event on earth, rather it is subsequent to his death. It is the act of a heavenly high priest in a heavenly sanctuary (9:23-24).

The statement in 9:26 that ‘he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself’ does not contradict this. This appearing (pephanerōtai) is the same as the appearing (emphanisthÄ“nai) ‘in the presence of God on our behalf’ (9:24) - it is something done by a high priest in the Holy Place the presence of God, it cannot refer to the death. The death or ‘sacrifice’ that provided the blood which he brought with him took place in the past. This simple observation - that the offering is a consequence of something that happened earlier - makes your argument from 10:1-4 irrelevant: of course it is the blood of things sacrificed that is offered, but that does not mean that ‘offered’ refers to the act of killing.

We now come to 9:28, and my change of direction (your perseverence has paid off at least to some degree!). I started out by assuming that the second appearance would also take place in the heavenly temple. Now I’m not so sure. There is no temple language here - what we have is judgment and salvation, which doesn’t really fit the typology. What I suspect is that we shift here to parousia imagery.

Nevertheless, in the context of the argument in 9:23-28 this second appearance must still in some way be like the first appearance in the presence of God in the Holy Place. If the first appearance constitutes a transaction in heaven, as I stubbornly maintain, then I think it likely that a comparable event in heaven is envisaged here. This could be something like the Old Testament visions of God descending to save his people and judge their enemies - only this time it is a vision of Christ acting through historical events and not YHWH. Or the allusion may be to the appearance of the Son of man before the ancient of days, which entails judgment upon the enemies of God’s people and the salvation of those who suffer. I find the latter attractive because it presents a second appearance in the presence of God that makes better sense of the ‘first… second…’ in Hebrews 9:26-28 - first in the temple to deal with sin, secondly at the throne of God’s judgment on Israel’s enemies.

One small and incidental piece of evidence in support of the Son of man reading is found in the Theodotion translation of Daniel 7:13 (I can hear Peter cringing, assuming that he’s waded through all these minutiai; but there are good reasons for thinking that the Theodotion translation of Daniel is especially relevant for the New Testament), which reads as follows:

I was seeing in a vision of the night and, behold, with the clouds of heaven one like a son of man was coming, and to the ancient of days was manifested (ephthasen) and before him was presented (prosēnechthē).

The verb for ‘presented’ is the same as the word used for ‘offered’ in Hebrews 9:25, 28, so there is an ‘offering’ of Christ himself before the throne of the ancient of days just as there was an offering of his blood before the mercy seat.

As I say, this reading doesn’t support a literal second coming to earth interpretation of Heb. 9:28, but if this is parousia terminology, we would also have to take into account other parousia texts.

A couple of further comments…

Moreover, your interpretation seems out of sync with the rest of the NT. Hebrews 9:28 says “so Christ was sacrificed….”

This is a mistranslation: it should be ‘offered’ not ‘sacrificed’. It makes all the difference. 1 Peter 2:24 doesn’t help us because Peter is not using the high priest analogy. Presumably for reasons of typological consistency, the argument in Hebrews has the redemptive emphasis on the offering of the blood rather than on the death.

Your tortuous attempt to explain how someone who is already high priest can still somehow be appointed as high priest simply does not make sense of the relevant passages. Hebrews 5:5 cannot possibly mean only the culmination of a high priestly ministry: ‘Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said…’. Jesus became a priest ‘by the power of an indestructible life’ (7:16), a clear reference to the resurrection. There was nothing ‘indestructible’ about Jesus’ earthly life. And I mentioned 8:4: ‘if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all’. To claim that Jesus was acting as high priest when he died makes nonsense of these statements.

Re: Jesus as victim and priest and offering the blood of the mar

I have just finished reading Andrew’s most recent post relative to Hebrews 9.  It is an extremely well reasoned presentation and I agree with everything which he has written here with the exception of one point which we will get to in a moment.

Andrew wrote:

"If the first appearance constitutes a transaction in heaven, as I stubbornly maintain…"

In my opinion, The first appearance does in fact refer to the transaction in heaven where and when Christ, as the high priest - the office to which He was appointed by virtue of His resurrection, sprinkled (offered) His blood on the mercy seat.  Thus, you should "stubbornly maintain" that point.

Unfortunately Andrew also wrote:

Between Christ’s death and the presentation of his blood in the Holy Place there intervenes the resurrection and ascension - and, I would argue, his appointment to the position of high priest.

It is here that I cannot agree with Andrew.  According to Andrew - Christ carried His blood around with Him on earth for several days exposing it to contamination, pollution, and decay, then He finally ascended to heaven to offer that old, decaying, contaminated blood on the mercy seat.  This just cannot be.

In Leviticus 16, the high priest took the fresh, clean, uncontaminated blood of the freshly killed sacrifice into the Holy of holies and sprinkled (offered) it on the mercy seat.  Thus, Jesus can do no less.  He also, as the newly appointed high priest, must take fresh, clean, uncontaminated blood of the recently killed sacrifice into the Holy of holies and sprinkle it on the mercy seat in heaven.

This is were John 20:17 comes into the picture for without this biblical account of Christ’s first ascension to the Father we would have no record of the time period in which He; as the newly appointed high priest actually offered (sprinkled) the new, fresh, uncontaminated blood on the mercy seat in heaven and, as high priest, appeared for the first time to the disciples/martyrs who were awaiting His appearance to them (John 20:17-23; et al.  cf 20:26-31; et al.)

When Christ ascended to the Father from the mount as recorded in Act 1, it was not for the purpose of offering His old, decaying, contaminated blood on the mercy seat in heaven, but it was for the purpose of intercession (Heb 7:25; cf. Rom 8:27, 34; 11:2) for the saints who were being sacrificed (martyred) and for the mediation of the new covenant (Heb 7:6) with whom the new covenant was being established as a result of their sacrifice.

In other words; Christ, as high Priest, was now in heaven presiding over the sacrifice that was being offered during His term as high priest, i. e. the transition period (ca. 30 - 70 AD) between the two covenants (Heb 8, the passing of the old and the establishment of the new).  As soon as that sacrifice was completed (Rev 6:9-11); He, as high priest,  would "appear" before the mercy seat and offer the blood of that sacrifice on the mercy seat and then immediately "appear" to those that are "looking for His appearance to them" as a result of His having appeared before the mercy seat to offer the blood of their sacrifice for "they overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, because they loved not their lives unto the death (of sacrifice, i. e. martyrdom)." (Rev 12:11) 

Guys, Andrew is right and KJ1 is not completely wrong.  They are simply looking at the same events from two different perspectives (i.e. the heavenly and the earthly), and of course KJ1 is wrong on his timing of the events because he does not see the audience relevance to that first century generation.  Please factor what I have given you into your discussion and you will see what I am referring to.

Andrew wrote:

The statement in 9:26 that ‘he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself’ does not contradict this.

And from his "heavenly side" view of the offering and the appearance, he is exactly right, but (and here is what Andrew is missing [see below]) neither does it "contradict" the "earthly side" view of these things which I have presented (and which KJ1 is attempting to present) in juxtaposition to his "heavenly" view. 

Andrew has properly understood and presented "the once offered" issue, but he has (until recently, see below) ignored the "unto them who are looking for Him, He shall appear the second time…" which is where nearly all of KJ1’s focus exists. 

Andrew is right in stating that this "doesn’t support a literal second coming to earth interpretation of Heb. 9:28", but it does, in fact, very strongly support a Parousia interpretation which Andrew is just beginning to see (see below).  This Parousia support is what KJ1 has been trying to get Andrew to see and understand all along because it is that part of the whole that he sees so clearly.  However, Andrew could not see that because KJ1 improperly diffused his argument through the wrong time lense because he improperly thinks that the Parousia is still future to the year 2006.

Of this Andrew wrote:

If the first appearance constitutes a transaction in heaven, as I stubbornly maintain, then I think it likely that a comparable event in heaven is envisaged here. This could be something like the Old Testament visions of God descending to save his people and judge their enemies - only this time it is a vision of Christ acting through historical events and not YHWH. Or the allusion may be to the appearance of the Son of man before the ancient of days, which entails judgment upon the enemies of God’s people and the salvation of those who suffer

Properly understood, the Parousia occurred in the first century (Ca. 70 AD) and it included "a descending of God (Jesus Christ) to save His people and judge their enemies."  The "judgment and destruction of His and their enemies" occurred in the destruction of Jerusalem and "the saving of His people" occurred in their resurrection and/or rapture to join Him in the "heavenly kingdom" which was now fully established as a product of the Parousia

It is now becoming apparent that Andrew is beginning to recognize this great truth as he continued:

but if this is parousia terminology, we would also have to take into account other parousia texts.

Now we are getting some where.  This has been where KJ1 has been coming from all along.  Unfortunately, for both him and Andrew, his take on the "high priest" is wrong and his timing for all the events in question is wrong because he does not accept the fact that the NT "end times" was relevant to that first century generation - not his.

Now that we have solved the situation of Hebrews 9 and brought the reconciliation (in theory at least) of Andrew and KJ1, it is time to move on to the "Parousia texts" and a proper understanding of them.

As a start, I offer the following (which I have offered twice before):

Perhaps, the following verses (emphasis added) best explain the finale presented above:

When Christ our life appears (in glory), then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:4 NKJV)

I charge [you] therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: (2 Timothy 4:1 NKJV)

Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8 NKJV)

And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His Parousia. (1 John 2:28)

that the genuineness of your faith, much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, (1 Peter 1:7 NKJV)

when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. (1 Peter 5:4 NKJV)

These verses and many more are "Parousia" texts.  The above verses clearly identify the time, location and people who the author of Hebrews identifies as those who "look for Him…who has "offered" the blood of their sacrifice (Rev 6:9-11, as this passage demonstrates, this sacrifice was not yet complete and thus is only alluded to in Heb 9:28) on the mercy seat and will appear a second time to them even as He had just before appeared a second time (the first time being ca. John 20:17) in the Holy of holies to offer the blood of their sacrifice; thus finishing His role as high priest. 

However, as Andrew correctly insists, this second appearance to the martyred saints did not take place on earth - indeed, it could not take place on earth for they had been KILLED and were dead; thus His appearance to them could only be in the resurrection, as described in 1Cor 15:23; cf 15:51-53 & 1Thess 2:16-17, at his Parousia; thus, they joined Him in the Holy place, the very thing that an earthly high priest could never accomplish!  The goal of the eschaton had been accomplished - man was now with God and God  was dwelling with man (Rev 21:3-5) in the new covenant "heaven" i.e. within the "new Jerusalem."

Ascending to the Father in John 20:17

Lloyd, I would really encourage you to look again at this argument about a first ascension in John 20:17-18.

The high priest typology in Hebrews sets its own parameters for interpretation. It simply doesn’t require the reader to extract from the analogy the level of detailed correspondence that you are finding - you are reading too much into it. Admittedly there is a prior question of how we read typological patterns here, but I think we risk getting ourselves into a real mess if start asking about the significance of details in the type (the Old Testament account of the atonement ritual) that are not explicitly required by the antitype (the figure of Christ as high priest as it is developed only in Hebrews). I don’t see any basis in Hebrews for your anxiety about what happened to Christ’s blood between his death and the offering of that ‘blood’ in the heavenly sanctuary.

John 20:17 is intriguing but it is not in any sense an ‘account of Christ’s first ascension to the Father’. There is clearly some sort of narrative lacuna here, which makes it difficult to rule out categorically the possibility that Jesus speaks of an immediate ascension to God and that this would explain why he prevents Mary from touching him but allows Thomas (eight days later) to place his finger in the wounds. But it goes way beyond the evidence to interpret this through reference to the high priest typology. This is the sort of thing that gets New Testament exegesis a bad name - and I accept that I can be accused of the same thing. I have said elsewhere, context not only suggests meaning, it also constrains meaning.

I would suggest that the proper interpretive context for these words about ascending is to be found in these verses:

No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man. (John 3:13)

Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? (John 6:62)

The main thing to note in relation to your argument is that this clearly connects the ascension terminology (anabainō) with the Son of man motif, which is quite different from the high priest typology. Both of these earlier statements occur in contexts that have to do with vindication, which makes the Son of man language especially pertinent. What that means for the interpretation of John 20:17, I don’t know - but it certainly doesn’t support your argument that Jesus is speaking of an ascension to present his blood in the heavenly sanctuary.

Re: Ascending to the Father in John 20:17

Andrew, while I am looking "again at this argument about a first ascension in John 20:17-18," please permit me to ask you some questions.

In part, Hebrews 9:28 reads: "…unto them (or those) who look for Him…"  According to your understanding, who are "them" in this phrase?

Also, in part, Hebrews 9:28 reads: "…He shall appear the second time…unto them…"  When did the high priest (Jesus) appear the first time "unto them"?

Where did that first appearance "unto them" occur? When did it occur? How did it occur?

Re: Ascending to the Father in John 20:17

1. I would interpret ‘to those waiting for him for salvation’ in the framework of the main practical purpose of the letter, which is to encourage the recipients to perservere in their faith. Although these readers had earlier experienced severe persecution (10:32-33), it appears now that the problem is something more like apathy, disillusionment or a failure of holiness (6:11-12). Whatever the exact circumstances, these Jewish believers had taken the risky step of associating themselves with this highly controversial messiah (controversial not least because he was dead) and were eagerly awaiting some sort of vindication. The writer urges them to keep their faith intact in all respects so that when Christ is publicly vindicated (in Paul’s terms in 1 Cor.1:7 the ‘revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ’), they will be vindicated with him (cf. 10:35-39).

2. There is no reason to assume that the first appearing was to the same group of people, though given the strong Jewish orientation of the argument, you could perhaps argue that the first appearing in the heavenly sanctuary as high priest was specifically for the benefit of Jews. I’m not sure I would go this far, though: the question of who saw this first vision is probably outside the scope of the writer’s argument.

3. As I say, I don’t think the argument in Hebrews 9 requires us to specify an ‘unto them’ for this first appearing: it is simply an appearing ‘in the presence of God’ (9:24). So your where, when, how questions probably can’t be answered. In fact, in view of this, we might question whether we are right to read ophthÄ“setai tois… in 9:28 as ‘shall appear to those…’. The meaning could be ‘shall appear (before the throne of God) for the benefit of those awaiting him…’. The ESV has ‘will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him’ - in effect, not an ‘appearing to’ but an ‘appearing for’. Or less paraphrastically: ‘a second time… he will appear for those waiting eagerly for him for salvation’.

Re: Ascending to the Father in John 20:17

Andrew wrote:

"The writer (of Hebrews) urges them to keep their faith intact in all respects so that when Christ is publicly vindicated (in Paul’s terms in 1 Cor.1:7 the ‘revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ’), they will be vindicated with him (cf. 10:35-39)."

Andrew, according to your understanding of Scripture when did/does this public vindication of Christ occur?  

Or to put it another way when was/is Jesus Christ revealed to Paul and the others?

Or to put it another way when were Paul, the Hebrews, and the Corinthians "vindicated with Him?"

How did/does this occur?

Where did/does it occur?

Andrew wrote:

2. There is no reason to assume that the first appearing was to the same group of people…’a second time…he will appear for those waiting eagerly for him for salvation’. 

Andrew, how could it be termed a "first appearing" and a "second appearing" if it was not to the same group?

"…’a second time…He will appear for those waiting eagerly for him for salvation".(Heb 9:28)

Andrew according to your understanding, in the first century context of Hebrews, who were "those" people that were "waiting eagerly for Him for salvation"?

How was this "salvation" to occur?

Did it occur or are those first century Christians still waiting for the occurrence of that "salvation?"

Re: Ascending to the Father in John 20:17

1. In my view, vindication comes about through a sequence of historical events beginning, say, with the destruction of Jerusalem and ending with the eventual collapse of a Roman imperialism. For those who died during this period - as martyrs, perhaps also simply as members of a faithful church - vindication comes in the form of resurrection to the right hand of God.

2. “This was the second time that the Rolling Stones had appeared at the Fenway Park baseball stadium in Boston.” Does that mean they had to appear to the same group of people each time? Or what if it was the second time that they had appeared in Boston? Would that mean that they had to appear at the same venue? Jesus ‘appeared’ (in some sort of visionary sense) twice in heaven in the presence of God.

3. Sorry to be rather brief here. The salvation of the readers of Hebrews would be encompassed within the process outlined in 1 above. Individuals found their ‘salvation’ in the deliverance of the community from oppression and from the uncertainty engendered by the long wait for vindication.

Re: Jesus as victim and priest

Andrew,

I still don’t understand how you argue that the killing of the animal and the presenting of the blood in the temple are separate events (which is a point I’ve been trying to make repeatedly) and then fail to see how this applies to Jesus’ priestly ministry.  Obviously to be offered is not to offer.  I don’t know how to say it any other way.

Your argument is circular.  You assert that (in Hebrews, at least) to ‘offer’ does NOT involve the bloodshed of the victim but only the presenting of the blood of victim in the Most Holy Place - a presupposition that is unwarranted.  On this basis you so interpret 9:24ff., concluding that the events described (including the passive usage, inexplicably) refer not to the sacrifice of Christ but to the presentation of his blood before God.  Behind this constriction we see a rather wooden interpretation of the significance of Ps.110 in Hebrews and Christ’s appointment to His priesthood, which I will have to address in a later post.  Suffice it to say, by way of analogy, that Ps.2 does not mean that Jesus is not God’s Son prior to the resurrection.  It is a declaration, rather, of an (historically) accomplished redemption in the enthronement of the messianic king - the source of eternal redemption for all who obey him.  Yet the blood He shed in history was ‘foreordained’ before creation, was retroactive in history (how was the conscience of David cleansed? Not by the blood of bulls and goats) as the ‘eternal blood of the covenant" (He.13:20). 

Let me then more carefully challenge your unsubstantiated presupposition about the meaning of ‘offering’.  I of course agree that it does refer to the act of presenting the blood or burnt portions before the Lord in His tabernacle.  However, it seems clear from Lev.1:3ff.; 2:1ff.; 3:6ff.; etc., that the act of offering entails the entire sacrificial ritual, including the slaughter of the animal.  So whatever might be argued about its usage, lexically it certainly entails the sacrificial death of the victim(s) who/which are offered to the Lord (where such applies).  To be specific, let me state again that the slaughter of the animal is part and parcel of the offering ritual.  Such was not the exception, as you suggest, but the rule.

Leviticus 27:9, 11 and Ex.36:3 LXX contain this verb in the passive voice, where it refers either to the animals being offered in the ritual (participle) or the ‘experience’ of being offering.  Hence, when He.9:28 refers to Christ who "was offered" it speaks of His ‘role’ as victim, the animal offered, according to the analogy. 

This is clear not only from the lexical data, but also the context of Hebrews.  Thus 13:11-13 refers to the suffering of Christ outside the ‘gate’ (on the analogy that it was outside the camp where the bodies of the victims were burned after they had been ‘bled’), for the purpose of or result that we might be made holy ‘through his blood’.  And if you insist that blood be linked to the metaphorical cleansing of the heavenly temple rather than to his death, 10:10 says, "By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."  When was his body offered ‘once and for all’?  Surely, then this speaks of his death.

So again, 9:28 is a distinct act (where he ‘suffers’ offering), according to the grammar and analogy, from 9:23-24 (where he ‘enacts’ offering).  BTW, I agree with your assessment of 9:25.  No argument there.  Yet 9:26 clearly connects that offering to his passion, whereas you are seeking to sever that connection.

That the author of Hebrews sees these two things (the bloodshed and the presentation of the blood in the Most Holy Place) as part and parcel of the single act of Christ’s ‘offering’ for purification from sins is clear from chapter 9, where ‘offering’ (prospherow) speaks of both aspects. 

V.12 "and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption."

How did He obtain eternal redemption?  Through His bloodshed on the cross, that is, His death.  If there is any question about this, one only has to read what the author says in v.15:

"And for this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance."

So, Christ’s death secured the redemption from sins ‘unto’ an eternal inheritance, and this, according to the grammar, before He entered the true tabernacle in heaven.  Interesting to note, btw, that Hebrews argues that the law was enacted on the basis of the Levitical priesthood, and yet it is also apparent that it is in the law of Moses that the Levitical priesthood is declared ‘set apart’ for their sacred ministry - i.e., appointed.

So, not missing the forest for the trees, we summarize that it is in Christ’s death that the redemption from sins committed under the old covenant, that the forgiveness of sins of the new, is secured.  To then suggest that it is only in his offering his blood in the Temple that we have ‘been perfected’ and ‘made holy’ according to his heavenly, priestly ministry is therefore completely out of sync with the whole book.  It is to ‘rent asunder’ what the author sees as an organic whole.          

Read further vv.13-14:

"For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"

So here we read that Christ, through the eternal Spirit offered himself (active voice with reflexive pronoun indicating both his role as victim ‘offered’ and priest ‘offering’) without blemish.  The important modifier ‘without blemish’ appears all over the place in the OT, refering of course to the state of the animal prior to being slaughtered, speaking to the quality and value of the offering being sacrificed (e.g., Ez.43:23-24 LXX; cf. Dt.17:1).  This concept of ‘without blemish" with reference to Christ reminds us again of 1Peter: "but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect" - the precious blood by which we have been redeemed. 

But that Christ’s offering of himself for sin speaks of his sacrificial death (ala Isa.53 LXX) together with His ascension and entrance into the celestial Temple with His own blood - which is seen as one act in Hebrews, compare such summaries as 1:3; 10:12; 12:2 - is also apparent in 7:27.  The first half of the verse tells us by way of contrast that the hight priest must offer sacrifices (thusias anapherein), where ‘sacrifices’ again entails the act of slaughter whenever a victim is involved (thuo, for instance, has the basic meaning of ‘slaughter’ or ‘to kill’).  The second half tells us that Christ did this (i.e., offered sacrifice for sin) once for all ‘when he offered himself’, which speaks of his exalted heavenly ministry (7:26) as well as his death.  For you would be hard pressed to argue against the lexical evidence that ‘offer a sacrifice’ did not involve the slaughter of the victim offered, whether in the context of Hebrews (where Jesus’ death looms large), or in the author’s canonical context of the entire Pentateuch. 

 The similar phrase of ‘having offered a sacrfice for sins’ (huper hamarteon, cf. Isa.53:10 LXX) appears in 10:12, where in v.14 it goes on to say that through "one sacrifice" (prosphorow) he has perfected forever those who are being sanctified — clearly referring to his bodily sacrifice by which we were made holy (10:10; cf. 13:12).   So again, the offering of himself entailed his death on earth.  

But returning now to 9:14, it would seem clear that the act of Christ offering himself "through the eternal Spirit" (which would be an odd way of speaking about Christ’s offering within the heavenly tabernacle, ‘in  the face of God’, 9:24) refers to his sacrifice on the cross, where he was led as a lamb without blemish, slaughtered, with his carcas put ‘outside the camp’ (to follow the analogy), and yet endured this shame for the joy set before him - to sit at the right hand of God as the royal high priest on his throne, having secured the forgiveness of sins, our redemption by His death, and having entered into God’s presence with his own blood (shed on earth) on our behalf.     

So the rendering of ‘offering’ as given above not only makes sense in the entire context and analogical basis of Hebrews, but also coheres better with the rest of our Old and New Testaments.  It is to be preferred, as nearly every commentator throughout church history has affirmed.

Stalemate?

I’m going to have to leave this discussion, at least for a while. I am getting tired of repeating myself; you keep ignoring what I think are crucial aspects of the argument; and I’m beginning to think that I need a bit of distance from this to hear clearly the constructive points that you are making.

At first sight nothing in what you have written here makes me think that it is a mistake to interpret the first appearance of Christ in the sanctuary as a heavenly event, which is how Hebrews describes it, explicitly distinct from earthly events, suggesting that the second appearance in 9:28 (perhaps not as a high priest in the sanctuary but before the throne of God as Son of man) is also a heavenly, visionary event. But you have taken a lot of trouble over refuting this interpretation and I don’t feel I can do it justice at the moment. Sorry, but I think it’s better to let this one rest for a while as a testimony to our inability as flawed, blinkered human beings to reach agreement. It might be worthwhile, at a later stage, going through this conversation again and trying to identify some of the subtle presuppositional and methodological differences that have made it so hard to read the same texts in the same way.