Hebrews 9:24-28 – The foundation of the world
Updated: Oct 1, 2021
Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
This is the Epistle selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. In the numbering system that lists each Sunday in an ordinal fashion, this Sunday is referred to as Proper 27. It will next be read aloud in an Episcopal church by a reader on Sunday November 11, 2018. It is important because Paul gave further details about each true Christian sacrificing their own self-ego to be reborn as Jesus Christ.
[Omitted text that no longer applies here.]
Speaking of long-winded explanations of holy text, the Epistles (especially those of Paul) require many words that point out the nuances of God’s Word. It is purposefully written so that the whole truth is not readily seen. In the Gospels the whole truth is hidden under the cloak of parables and symbolic stories, which makes them seem easily understandable, but question, “What was the point?” Paul’s letters were almost like in a code that only Apostles could grasp. Breaking codes become more complex.
Here is this week’s breakdown of five verses from the ninth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Hebrew-speaking Jews [Christians] of Rome. There are fifteen word segments that are marked off by punctuation marks. There are five capitalized words, with God found once, Christ found twice and then “Otherwise” and “Namely” requiring insight as to why they are important.
The hard work has been done, by looking at the literal Greek [the ordering of each word being maintained] and looking up each Greek word for viable translation possibilities. By my having restated this reading in the following format, it should be just a matter of slowly reading my words of translation and letting a flow of thought [from reflection, meditation, and comparison to the read aloud translation] to see for oneself where that train of thought leads. Keep in mind how my translations are limiting many words from representing the fullness of translation viability.
Here is Hebrews 9:24-28 restated, from the Bible Hub Interlinear:
24. not then into artificial [made by human hands] has come in sacred ones Christ , corresponding to those sincere ones [genuine ones] , except towards self together heaven , immediately to be made appear those the face followers of God on behalf of ourselves .
25. nothing so that many times he should make an offering oneself ¸ just as the high priest enters into those sacred places according to cycle of time when blood belonging to another .
26. Otherwise it was necessary for him many times to have suffered from laying down inhabitants of the world . at this instant then once for all on the basis of joint action followers of the present age , towards setting aside followers sin , through those sacrifice self he has been made known .
27. Namely according to how much he has appointed followers to mankind once more to die , beyond on top of this his divine judgment .
28. in this manner namely followers Christ , once more having been offered in sacrifice to those who many to offer up as sacrifices for sins , from out of subsequently separately from sin , will appear before him awaiting for salvation .
Now, let’s look at what each verse says, realizing that each verse is actually like a separate paragraph of text, with a central statement that then presents statements in support of that theme.
Verse 24 begins by saying the central idea is relative to what is “not” to be assumed. As the first word stated, it must be understood that “not” is a transitional word that is based on that stated prior, in verse twenty-three. The segment of words leading up to verse twenty-four spoke of “heavenly sacrifices” or “spiritual offerings.” As such, verse twenty-four can be seen as explaining what “not” to assume about that statement.
By following “not” with the words that state “artificial” or “made by human hands,” this can be visualized as an altar on which slaughtered animals would be burned as burnt offerings. When the inverse of “not then into artificial” is seen as the positive (rather than the negative), Paul was stating “then into one made from God’s hand.” This should be read as implying a human soul, within a human body of flesh.
Still, recalling that this verse was written as an address to “sacrifices” and “offerings,” that which is the soul of a human being, Paul then wrote that this soul sacrifice “has come in” spiritually. It has not been summoned through the slaughter of flesh and the transformation of meat into smoke and ash (all physical changes). Instead, it “has come in” by the hand of God, from above. That presence has then created “sacred ones,” which is translated from the Greek word “hagia,” as the plural number of those who have been “set apart by (or for) God, holy, sacred.” Rather than assume the plural of “sacred” means places [that “made by human hands”], the deduction should be to “those spiritually made holy.”
The last word of this central idea is then “Christ,” which means the “Anointed one.” Therefore, the “offerings” stated in verse twenty-three are now said to be human beings, presumably those who believed Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah [disciples], sacrifice their souls to God [self-ego slaughtered and transformed], which in return makes them Saints [“holy ones”] in the name of Jesus “Christ.”
The first supporting statement to this central idea begins by stating “antitypa,” which is Greek [in the plural number] for “copies” or “images” that are “corresponding to” the “Christ.” This means those “Saints,” in whom “has come in” the “Christ” spirit, are “patterned” or “representative of” Jesus of Nazareth.
Those representations of the “Christ” are then said to be “sincere ones,” which means they are not pretending to be Christ-like. They are “genuine” in this reproduction, as the Greek word “alēthinōn” states. They are “real” resurrection of Jesus Christ, not fake fans in a “We Love Jesus” club. They are “true” or “made of truth,” which is an inner [heart-driven] motivation, not a head-driven calculation.
The next supporting segment of words begins with “alla,” which states what is “to the contrary” of this recreation of “truth.” This “exception” is relative to the “self,” where “auton” emphatically refers to the “self,” in the sense that “oneself” then identified “the same” as a “condition” of or having joined “together” with “heaven,” the “spiritual” place of God.
Once the “self” has changed spiritually, there is an “immediate” change in the “self.” While still wearing the flesh that is identifiable as one’s own, a glow [invisible to human eyes] emits from “the face.” This is expressed in the “followers” of Jesus of Nazareth, so they too wear “the face of God.” This “face” becomes the “countenance” of a “presence” within; but it is not for the glorification of “self.” Instead, it is a “presence” that comes “on behalf of others.” This means Saints are made by the hand of God [resurrections of the Son of Man] for the purpose of ministry, just as was that recorded of Jesus of Nazareth.
Verse 25 then begins a subsequent paragraph that follows this line of thought. It begins with the Greek word “oude,” which is a negative word that is relative to those who are reborn as Jesus Christ and wear the face of God. The word means, “neither, nor, not even, and not,” such that it is a conjunction that says “nothing.” This should be read as a statement that God has the power to reproduce His Son in those who devote themselves to God – totally and completely – such that such an act is “not even” unfathomable. This negative word is then a balance to the negative word that began verse twenty-four, such that the inverse reading says “everything” is possible of God. This repetition is an example of symmetrical applications of God’s Word.
This is then a statement “so that” wearing the face of God is possible “many times.” This not only states that being reborn as Jesus Christ – as a Saint – has occurred “so that many time” one should find “nothing” that keeps one from also “make an offering of oneself.” Paul was writing this letter to the Saints reborn as Jesus Christ in Rome, who were many and growing in number. Paul was therefore encouraging them to lead more to God and have more wear the face of God. There were “no” limits, as long as one offered oneself to God.
Paul then supported that idea by saying a cycle of change is no different than a “cycle of time,” as one “year” follows with another “year,” so the same cycle of change is always taking place. He compared this to the cyclic entrance of the high priest into the Temple area for sacrifices, as commanded yearly. Just as a man wearing ceremonial robes enters into sacred places according to cycles of time, so too does God’s Holy Spirit enter into human temples that have accordingly been prepared for a ritual sacrifice. The presence of Jesus Christ is the pleasing smoke that rises from a self that has been given fully unto the Lord. The blood of the old has been transformed by the blood of Christ.
Verse 26 then begins with the capitalized Greek word “Epei,” which is elevated in importance. The word commonly translates as “of time: when, after; of cause: since, because; otherwise: else.” The word is said to imply: “properly, aptly if, introducing something assumed to be factual and fitting, i.e. as appropriate to what is assumed.” [HELPS Word-studies] It then becomes an important statement of what would be “Otherwise,” if one did not become filled with the spiritual blood of Jesus Christ. This assumption of fact then says that failure of others to become the resurrection of God’s Son would mean (as translated in the reading in church), “for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world.”
The Greek word translated as “foundation” is “katabolé.” Rather than seeing this as a statement of God’s worldly Creation, the cornerstone should be recalled as Jesus Christ. Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christians, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” (Ephesians 2:19-20)
As such, “katabolé” should be realized as a word of “conception,” dating back to the sewing of priests into the world [Adam and sons], the conception of holy lineage promised to Abraham, and the laying down of holy seed into the womb of a holy land [Israel]. The purpose of that “foundation” having been “laid down” means Jesus Christ would fulfill that promise. “Otherwise,” Jesus of Nazareth would have to continually rise from his tomb in human form, only to go through the same suffering and the same end, countless times … all for the sins of others that could not be stopped. Only with Jesus Christ reborn within one [a priest of Yahweh] can sin be stopped.
From that talk of the “foundation of the world.” which would be Christianity, Paul then supported that central idea by beginning, “at this time.” He was talking to Saints who presently were that “foundation” intended by God. Jesus Christ was the cornerstone on which was sacrificed “once for all,” as the “basis of joint action.” Apostles were “joined” with that cornerstone as the “followers” Jesus of Nazareth called for when he lived. Then was realized by Paul and his fellow Saints “at that present time.” The intent had become a living reality.
They had been laid down “towards setting aside sin.” Their sins had been washed clean by their baptisms by the Holy Spirit. That is the only way to set aside sin. For them to go forth [“towards”] others with that promise, they had to be sacred, holy, and righteous, as was Jesus of Nazareth. They had to promote sin-free existence by demonstrating that in themselves [not a “do as I say, not as I do” scenario].
That step could only be possible by “the sacrifice of self.” Those who knew the Apostles prior to their transformations would be most able to see marked changes in personality. Their known “self” would be “made known” as changed. Instead of the persons they used to be, “he has been made known” instead. That was by them wearing the face of God; and that was the “tag, you’re it” immediate transformation that made Christianity grow exponentially in the beginning. Jesus was known to have been reborn in Saints, which then “laid down” more Saints.
Saint Denis was beheaded and then walked seven miles home, holding his head, which preached a sermon all the way, to many witnesses. What is a more apt symbol of sacrificing self-ego than being beheaded and still being able to be God’s voice?
Verse 27 begins with the capitalized Greek word “Kai,” which we saw in the past Sunday’s translation of Paul’s letters to the Hebrews of Rome. As was found there, the same applies here. The importance of capitalization has less impact as the common conjunction “And,” as it does when translated as “Namely” (a viable translation). Seen as an adverb that indicates the importance of “Specifically,” from which a name acts to identify “he who has been made known,” the importance “That is to say” is God and Christ.
Christ is known “according to how much he has appointed followers.” God is the source of the Christ Spirit, which filled His Son on earth, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Man. God has appointed Christ as the “Anointed One,” the “Messiah.” The repetition of Jesus is then his being sent again into “mankind once more,” in each Apostle that has “to die” in his place to receive that Holy Spirit.
Going beyond this inheritance from self-sacrifice is the promise of eternal life. This is God’s “divine judgment” to give and it is the righteousness of the Christ presence that assures one’s soul will end his or her physical life [“to die”] without further sins.
Verse 28 Paul again used “kai” (in the lower-case), where it is again translated as “namely,” with “Christ” following as the importance of specificity. This naming of the “Christ” Spirit as the means to facing God’s “judgment” successfully, Paul returned to the central idea of “sacrifice,” where “Christ” is the high priest that makes “sin offering” unto God. The Christ Spirit within the flesh of a human tabernacle the self will die to please God.
This means the cleansing of past sins, “from out of subsequently” the followers of Jesus of Nazareth will be delivered. Their past histories [as Saul transformed into Paul] then have their souls “separately” divided “from sin.” What was once will be no more. The sinful soul will die with the sacrifice of the self-ego it was led to sin by.
The remaining soul, which will have been cleansed of sin by the Holy Spirit, will be the one that “will appear before him” – the Lord. God will be “awaiting” the return of a lost soul to His realm. This return will be ‘for salvation.” The presence of Jesus Christ in the flesh, replacing the previous ego, then makes Christ the Savior.
When this translation is deeply compared to the translation that will be read aloud in church, one can see how the public reading says nothing that can lead one to anything more than belief. That belief is not sound and capable of withstanding the temptations of Satan. The alternate translation I offer makes it possible to see that faith can only come by being Jesus Christ reborn. Paul was an example of that transformation, as were all the early Saints upon whose works Christianity was built as a “foundation in the world.” The call is for the “followers” to sacrifice, as did Jesus of Nazareth, due to a deep love of God.
As the Epistle reading selection for the twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s own personal ministry for the LORD should be underway – one should have died of self and been reborn as Jesus Christ – the message here is to see the sincerity that is required to sacrifice self and be joined with God and His Christ Spirit. This is basically the same thing Paul says [over and over] in all of his letters. Again and again, the Apostles to whom he wrote understood what he was saying.
The confusing nature of Scripture is designed by God. Being His Son is not meant to be accomplished by wishful thinking, with zero work required. One has to actually want to do as I have done here – as tedious as it is to write down what I see – to prove to God that one is refusing to read the Holy Book upon which the final exam will be written. Reading what I write and what others write is like buying the Cliff Notes of divine meaning.
There are no such cheat sheets available. If you do not read the assigned material and come to your own deeply reached conclusions, you will forget what you studied and be left with no retention of meaning. Making a C on a religious studies test means one cannot only not save oneself, it means one cannot save anyone else. It means the sins of laziness will always be knocking on one’s door and one will always be yelling from the sofa, “Come in! The door is open!”