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Hebrews 9:6-8 by Robert Dean
Series:Hebrews (2005)
Duration:59 mins 22 secs

Hebrews Lesson 143  December 18, 2008

 

NKJ Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

 

Open your Bibles to Hebrews 9. We have looked at the Tabernacle and the furniture in the Tabernacle and now what we're looking at the application of all of this to the basic message of the writer of the Hebrews which remember is to challenge these believers. Remember they are Jewish background believers (probably priests) who are on the verge or at least tempted to bail out of Christianity and go back into Judaism. So the writer is challenging them to stay the course, persevere in their obedience to the Lord in making doctrine first and applying the Word because the long term results are such that God is using this time to prepare us to serve as the unique royal priests of the millennial era (the Millennial Kingdom) as we rule and reign with the Lord Jesus Christ. So those who falter in their spiritual growth, spiritual life today run risks of losing rewards, run risks of losing out on certain positions, privileges, and responsibilities in the Millennial Kingdom. 

 

So the centerpiece of Hebrews begins at the end of chapter 6 and goes through the end of chapter 10. This is focusing on recognizing who Jesus Christ is as our High Priest and what significance that has for us. 

 

So we went through chapter 7 dealing with the Melchizedekean priesthood. We went through chapter 8 dealing with the change in covenant to the New Covenant. Chapter 9 focuses on the atonement. It's a logical progression here: the kind of priesthood Christ had, the covenant that is associated with His death on the cross, the covenant that is ratified by His death on the cross. It's not inaugurated. It doesn't begin. It's not partially in effect today. 

 

This is one of the things that I think confuses believers more than anything else is. What in the world is our relationship to the New Covenant? We get back to it again in this particular chapter as well as in chapter 10. All that happened on the cross is the New Covenant is ratified. It doesn't begin. It isn't initiated. What happens in Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost is not related to the New Covenant because the New Covenant as we've studied is between God as party of the first part and the House of Israel and the House of Judah as the party of the second part. We went through all of those passages last winter and early spring from the prophets (from Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel) all dealing with New Covenant issues recognizing that when the New Covenant goes into effect there is a Davidic king on the throne. Israel is regenerate and they're living in the land. It doesn't happen until the Second Coming. 

 

So whatever we have as Church Age believers is not the New Covenant. It may be an application or byproduct, but it is not the New Covenant. The New Covenant does not go into effect until that future time. Our priesthood (as I have gone back and thought through this and had questions and interacted with some other pastors on this) is related to Jesus Christ's high priesthood. His high priesthood is not based on His lineage from Aaron; it's based on a Gentile royal priest, Melchizedek. Our priesthood derives from His high priesthood. So that means it's not related to the Jewish priesthood at all and in terms of the two parties to the covenant (the New Covenant), you have Jesus on one hand (the Lord on the one hand), the House of Israel and the house of Judah on the other hand. We participate by virtue of our position in Christ, not on the other side. 

 

Now I've believed at times that it's an application. I've taught that in the past: an application on the analogy of the blessing to the Gentiles based on the Abrahamic Covenant. But when we went through this last time, it became clear to me that our priesthood is not simply an application of blessing to the Gentiles; but it is related to our position in Christ. So, all of that sort of comes together. So we see these different aspects. Chapter 9 relates the ritual of the Old Testament in terms of the Day of Atonement to Christ's high priestly ministry. Where he will go with that then has to do with the challenge to us to stay the course and to mature as believers. 

 

As part of this we have to understand the implications of that shadow image that they had in the Old Testament in the Tabernacle because as we look at the shadow, we look at its fulfillment on the cross then between a comparison of the two we get a sharper understanding, we fine tune our understanding of all that happens on the cross. That's what's happening in chapter 9 between verse 6 (which is where I'm going to start tonight) and verse 27.

 

Now what we did last time and the time before was to go to the atonement, the Day of Atonement in the Old Testament and to look at what that means – look at what that word means. 

 

That is so important to come to grasp the meaning of this Hebrew word kaphar, which is translated atonement. We've all heard the meaning of kaphar as covering. Now I was reading today in a commentary by a familiar voice whose name I won't mention. He made a typical classic argument that we see in chapters 9 and 10. That is that the Old Testament sacrifices didn't deal with sin because they were temporary. They covered it. They didn't deal with it.  They didn't solve it. That's really a poor – even using the cover thing – that's really not a good way of even explaining it because there was genuine, real forgiveness in the Old Testament. It wasn't just make-believe. It was real. It was just provisional because Jesus hadn't actually paid the price yet. We looked at the reality of that when we first started the Tabernacle and we'll come back to that a little more.

 

The point I'm making now is that we have to understand the word atonement. What I pointed out last time is that atonement is really a multifaceted concept that relates to all of these different doctrines. It's not just atonement. That English word atonement comes from at-one-ment where you get that picture of reconciliation: bringing two groups of people or two people together who are at enmity or at hostility with one another. So the English word was coined at-one-ment, bringing them together. Of course that brings out the idea of reconciliation – to reconcile opposing parties. 

 

But when we look at the different aspects of the Day of Atonement, there is the sacrifice (the blood sacrifice) of the sin offering, the sacrifice of the burnt offering, the sacrifice of the bull for Aaron and his family – and goats. And the application of the blood has to do with redemption. Redemption is then related to forgiveness. There is genuine forgiveness there pictured by the scapegoat. The scapegoat is taken off into the wilderness. The one goat receives the imputation of sins through the laying on of hands - the sacrifice. The other goat, which also received the imputation of sins, is taken out into the wilderness by a trusted man who you know he is really going to get that goat good and lost. He's not going to be able to find his way back because the point is that once these sins are paid for objectively by the sacrifice, God doesn't bring them up again. He doesn't bring them back. 

 

NKJ Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

 

… because of the objective payment.  I related that to Colossians 1:14.

 

NKJ Colossians 1:14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

 

That is an appositional phrase where the term forgiveness of sins explains the term redemption so that forgiveness and redemption are seen as synonymous.  But redemption means to pay a price. The way most of us hear the word forgiveness … (I know I am going over this again. I feel like I'm going over it again and again and again because on Thursday mornings I have a group of pastors that meet up here and we hammer through all kinds of these issues – not just related to what I'm teaching, but usually what others are going through as well. But it just so happens that this was part of what we were working through today and talking about. So I feel like I'm talking about this all the time) …We look at forgiveness from a subjective viewpoint. What I mean by subjective is in terms of our own experience so that we think of forgiveness in terms of lack of anger or hatred or "I'm not going to be angry with you." We look at it in terms of our own sins or lack of sin, mental attitude sins, or reaction to somebody for something that they've done toward us. But that word forgiveness has another realm of nuance, which is an economic term. We could say a legal economic term related to contracts. 

 

For example if you enter into a state of indebtedness when you sign a contract to get a credit card and you borrow money on that credit card, there is a contractual foundation for that. Now there is a debt. It is a legal debt. If somebody pays that debt or you are forgiven that debt; that is a legal, contractual concept there. It is not a subjective emotional or personal concept. It is a legal/economic concept. That's very important to understand.

 

Then we looked at Colossians 2:13 and 14. We saw that forgiveness is further defined as taking that certificate of debt that was against us and it is nailed to the cross so that the forgiveness that occurs, according to Colossians 1:14, and redemption occurs at the cross when Christ died and the Father imputed the sins to Jesus, not when we trust Christ in terms of our own experience. There is not a lot of vocabulary used to develop this so I am sort of feeling my way along here.

 

Last time I put this little chart up here. We talked about the fact that the word atonement really has all these different nuances to it. It's a word that multitasks. We see the idea of redemption, expiation (which is related to forgiveness or the canceling of a debt), propitiation (that's the picture of the mercy seat), and reconciliation. Depending on the context…see you can have a context that moves you (if you can see the arrow) up this way so it would have more of a redemption nuance. But another context may move you more over into this direction so it would have more of a propitiatory nuance. Or the context may be closer to this side of that pentagon so it relates more to the forgiveness idea. So context really determines how you're going to understand this word. You can't have a one size fits all definitions that you're going to use everywhere. 

 

Then I also pointed out that in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament that the rabbis made in the 2nd century BC)… had them translate the wordkaphar many, many times with the Greek word katharizo, which means to cleanse or to purify, not to cover. So these are different ideas.  So that idea of cleansing which is related to forgiveness or purification or wiping out, canceling something; it seems to be the core idea of atonement. But in order for that debt to be wiped out, what has to happen? It has to be paid. That's the redemption idea. Redemption always means to pay the price.  Propitiation means that the price that's paid has to satisfy someone. In salvation the justice of God has to be satisfied by the payment and the payment price. When that debt is cancelled, then reconciliation is possible.

 

Let me put up some of these verses I've just alluded to now and I want to point something else out. I want you to notice what the price is that we have here. 

 

One other thing before we get into the verse. I got an email on this from someone in the congregation this week. They put two and two together from last week and came up with four, which I didn't mention. The "four" is what Jesus said at the end on the cross. He said tetelestai, which means "it's finished."  That is how we normally heard it translated. It was an economic term that was stamped as it were at the bottom of a bill that had been paid. So it literally meant "paid in full." It's completely paid. Now when you put that together with the redemption concept of the payment of a price and you put that together with the forgiveness/canceling of a debt terminology we have in Colossians 1 and Colossians 2, what Jesus is saying at the end of His time on the cross isn't simply debt. It's completed although that's part of the meaning there. What He is saying is the debt is cancelled. The debt's been paid. It's paid in full.  Nothing else can be added to that. 

 

Now what paid that price? This is what we see in these verses. In Colossians 1:14 we read:

 

NKJ Colossians 1:14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

 

Then in Colossians 1:19-20 we read:

 

NKJ Colossians 1:19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell,

 

NKJ Colossians 1:20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

 

See that's a past concept there. So the peace there is accomplished at the cross. But what accomplishes it? It is through the blood of His cross - again that terminology for blood.

 

In Colossians 1:22 we read:

 

NKJ Colossians 1:22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight --

 

 Now, two observations there. First of all we see that "through death" as a phrase here is parallel to what we've seen in the previous verses to "through His blood." So blood and death are viewed as synonymous. That's going to be important in understanding what that term "blood" means. 

 

The second thing that we see once again is that is the payment price. It is through His death. 

 

Now we go from there to looking at a couple of other passages broadening things out from Colossians 1 to a couple of passages in Romans – Romans 3:25 and Romans 5:9.

 

Romans 3:25 says that Jesus Christ…

 

NKJ Romans 3:25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,

 

Now that brings up the problem. We've seen it before. It's that translators are not consistent in how they have handled certain prepositions, especially this preposition en in the Greek. We note that it's the same phrase in Romans 3:25 and Romans 5:9, except one time it's translated "in His blood" and another time it's translated "by His blood." Now "in His blood" almost pictures an immersion. See that's where you get that old hymn, "There's a fountain filled with blood" or "we're washed by the blood" or those kinds of things. In His blood is not an accurate way of representing that Greek phrase. It is a means. It is the means by which something is accomplished. So propitiation is through His blood. Redemption is through His blood. Peace is accomplished through His blood. Forgiveness is through His blood. So all of a sudden we're seeing that that phrase "in His blood" is extremely important phrase.

 

Romans 5:9 says:

 

NKJ Romans 5:9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

 

So the blood of Christ (that phrase) takes care of justification. It's the means of reconciliation. It is the means of peace. It's the means of redemption. It is the means of forgiveness. All of that is done through His blood or by His blood. Both of those terms indicate that "means" idea.

 

Now we come to a couple of references to the "blood of Christ" in 1 Peter. In 1 Peter 1:2 we're told that we're saved…

 

NKJ 1 Peter 1:2 elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.

 

There's that blood imagery again. What does that mean "sprinkled with His blood?" Does that mean there is a physical action there? Now there is a physical action of being sprinkled by the blood in the Tabernacle. We're going to see that talked about in this chapter in Hebrews 9 referencing back to the fact that Aaron went through and he sanctified everything by splattering blood on it. All that beautiful veil and all of the furniture and everything had to have blood splattered on it to set it apart. 

 

Then we read in I Peter 1:18:

 

NKJ 1 Peter 1:18 knowing

 

That's a causal adverbial participle there. 

 

that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,

 

NKJ 1 Peter 1:19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

 

So that redemption is done through the blood of Christ. Now this is an interesting thing. We've talked about the blood of Christ before and I need to spend time on it here – just exactly what that means. Is it literal or is it figurative? But this becomes very important for understanding our passage in Hebrews 9 and 10 because the word blood is used 15 times in these two chapters. So it is a central concept here. When I went back and I was talking about the idea of forgiveness as contractual and legal. What's interesting is that as we go through Hebrews 9, starting in verse 15 we read:

 

NKJ Hebrews 9:15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant,

 

Let's translate it "the new contract."

 

by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

 

Then we skip down a few verses and we see a quote from the Old Testament.

 

NKJ Hebrews 9:20 saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you."

 

Then we have a couple of other statements later on as we go down through the chapter and into the next chapter that connect the payment price of the blood to this contract. So this is all legal metaphor, legal imagery that's used here because that's the essential problem that man has with God. We broke that initial creation covenant not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

 

So we have to address this issue: what does blood mean? 

 

Just a couple of observations that we have seen already that throughout all these passages…

 

  1. Throughout all these passages blood is the price of redemption, the price of reconciliation, the price of forgiveness, the price of justification, and the price of peace with God. All of these are paid for by blood.
  2. Second observation is that blood can be understood literally or figuratively. If literal, then these describe a literal hemoglobin, plasma, and corpuscles in Christ. And there's something about physical blood. 

 

What's interesting these are the chapters – it's the imagery in Hebrews 9 and 10 that gave birth in the Middle Ages to a Roman Catholic heresy that the angels gathered up the literal blood of Jesus from the cross and carried it to the heavenly altar and applied it there. That's where that idea sort of developed in the Middle Ages. And then as that sort of filtered down in and out of Protestant circles you see people who took this phrase "the blood of Christ" as something very literal. That's exemplified in some of the hymns. 

 

Now I've seen people react to this in going too far the other way. You see any hymn that mentions the blood of Christ got X'd out. That isn't right either.  The Holy Spirit thought that the phrase "blood of Christ" was a completely appropriate figure of speech to use. Just because people misuse it, doesn't mean it shouldn't be used. People misuse the Bible all the time and we don't throw the Bible out. So it's thoroughly legitimate to sing hymns that talk about and use the phrase "the blood of Christ." What's inappropriate is to sing hymns that use that in a literal fashion as opposed to being understood as a figure or speech. 

 

Now we've seen various passages in the past that indicate that the term "shedding of blood" must be understood as an image, in some sort of figurative sense. Genesis 9:6, which lays down the foundation for capital punishment states:

 

NKJ Genesis 9:6 "Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.

 

That is understood and interpreted to mean whoever commits murder should be executed via capital punishment because he's created in the image of God.  I made the point before: it's not preventative; it's not retribution; it's not vengeance. It's justice; it is surgical. A person who is so deteriorated to lack respect for human life to the degree that he takes is should be surgically excised from the body of the human race just like we would remove cancer.  That's the idea there. But the imagery is what we're talking about here. And, it's not just talking about murdering somebody in a way that causes bleeding.  It's not talking about cutting their throat or eviscerating them with a sword or decapitating them with a sword or any other form of violence that would cause bleeding – exsanguinations. What it's talking about is any kind of murder. So it would include poison or strangling or any of these other things. Obviously this is understood as a figure of speech. 

 

NKJ Genesis 42:22 And Reuben answered them, saying, " Did I not speak to you, saying,

 

This is in the context of their having taken Joseph and putting him in the pit and sold him to the Midianites. They told Jacob that he had been killed by varmints.

 

'Do not sin against the boy'; and you would not listen? Therefore behold, his blood is now required of us."

 

Is he saying his physical blood is on us? That somehow we've all got physical blood splattered on us? Well no, I mean Joseph didn't even bleed. He didn't get killed. He is still alive; he is now a slave. It is using the phrase "his blood" to refer to his life and the guilt of taking his life. At this point he thought he was probably dead so it's used as a substitute for a related concept, which is his life.

 

Another two key passages we have to keep in mind are Genesis 9:4 and Leviticus 17:11, which tell us the significance of blood. 

 

Genesis 9:4 says:

 

NKJ Genesis 9:4 "But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.

 

Here we see this connection. Blood represents life. Shedding blood therefore represents shedding life or causing death. That's where we see this connection.

 

Again, Leviticus 17:11:

 

NKJ Leviticus 17:11 'For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.'

 

But the principle life of the flesh is in the blood so blood equals life, and shedding blood equals taking life. That gives us a good starting point.

 

Now let's look at Hebrews 9:6 to pick up the context. There's a lot about blood all through this passage so I'm going to spend some time talking about how to understand that figure because every time we hit it we have to talk about it so I've got to lay that foundation.

 

Hebrews 9:6 says:

 

NAS Hebrews 9:6 Now when these things have been thus prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle, performing the divine worship,

 

NKJ Hebrews 9:6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services.

 

Verse 7 says;

 

NAS Hebrews 9:7 but into the second only the high priest enters, once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance.

 

NKJ Hebrews 9:7 But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people's sins committed in ignorance;

 

Now I'm reading from the New American Standard. If you look at the New American Standard 9:6 ends with a comma and 9:7 doesn't begin a new sentence. 

 

It's the continuation of 9:6. The sentence ends at the end of verse 7. That's how it should be punctuated. The King James and New King James Versions end verse 6 with a period and make verse 7 an independent clause ending with a semicolon which separating it from verse 8 as another independent clause.  Now the reason all that grammar is important is because 6 and 7 are indeed one sentence. In order to understand it we have to keep those compressed. One of the idiosyncrasies of the King James and New King James translations is that the translators tried to make each verse an independent clause. Sometimes that really does violence to the thought that the author (meaning the Holy Spirit) is presenting there. It fragments it. 

 

So Hebrews 9:6 begins by saying:

 

NKJ Hebrews 9:6 Now when these things had been thus prepared,

 

The participle there related to the translation of "prepared" is a perfect passive participle. The perfect tense indicates completed action, but in the case of a participle it's indicating completed action that precedes the action of the main verb. The main verb in Hebrews 9:6 and 9:7 (because it's picked up and borrowed by 9:7) is the word "entering". In your translation in the New American Standard it says:

 

NAS Hebrews 9:6 Now when these things have been thus prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle, performing the divine worship,

 

In the New King James it translates it:

 

the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services.

 

Both of them have that idea "always" or "continuous." That idea is not inherent in the Greek. It is interpretively added to the Greek. The Greek simply states that the priests are entering or the priests enter the outer Tabernacle. The verb there is a participle that we have to begin with is kataskeuazo, which means to make ready, prepare, build, construct, erect, equip, furnish. It's the idea used in 9:2 where a tabernacle was prepared. It's just the construction of something. So once all this is constructed, (That's what the writer is saying) completed and built. 

 

Then the next statement, the primary clause is the priests enter. It's stated as a normative condition. It's what grammarians call a gnomic statement. That means it's just stating what normally, typically went on. It's not emphasizing the sense of continuity, which would be another nuance of the present tense.  It's indicating what the normative pattern was. The priests entered the outer Tabernacle; but the contrast is that the High Priest enters the holy place. The other priests could only go into the outer Tabernacle, which was referred to as the holy place. 

 

They entered into the holy place to perform. It's another participle, but it's an adverbial participle of purpose. They entered to perform the divine worship.  Again, this phrase "divine" is added. That is again an interpretive addition put in there by the translator. The word is latreia which is where we get out English word liturgical. They're related. It simply means a religious service. We were to understand this to relate to our service the way the priests served God in terms of the ritual and ceremony in the Temple. This is the same word that is used in Romans 12:1 where Paul says: 

 

NKJ Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

 

…it's your latreia, translated spiritual service of worship. But in the Greek it's "that's your latreia." The use of latreia there in Romans 12:1 enforces the idea of our individual priestly ministry is to serve God. That's how we function today in serving God. I mean that's how we function today as priests is in serving God with our lives: learning the Word of God, letting it transform our lives and letting that work out its natural results in terms of Christian service which is whatever your area spiritual gift or whatever the responsible needs are around a congregation or in terms of the body of Christ whether you are specifically spiritually gifted in that area or not. We are here on this earth to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. So that's what Hebrews 9 is reinforcing here through the use of this particular word. Just as the Old Testament priests served God in the Tabernacle, so Church Age believers in terms of Church Age priesthood serve God with their lives. 

 

So the priest entered into the outer tabernacle, the holy place to perform service. The implication is service related to God. 

 

Then we come to 9:7 and we have the contrast. In contrast to what the everyday priests did (all the other priests), the High Priest entered once a year, not without taking of blood. In the English that's a double negative. Actually it's a negative plus the preposition in the Greek, but it's stated in an awkward way to slow us down a little bit and let us pay attention to what this is saying. Instead of saying "but into the second one, only the High Priest enters with blood," it says "not without taking of blood" emphasizing the importance that he has to enter with blood on this particular day which is the Day of Atonement. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 9:7 But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people's sins committed in ignorance;

 

Now the way I've corrected the translation here to get the sense is to read it…

 

But into the second, only the High Priest enters once a year.

 

…because the context of Hebrews 9 is talking about what happens on the Day of Atonement, not what happens the rest of the year. And we have to understand the whole phrase. Only the High Priest enters once a year with the blood. That's the point. The Day of Atonement only happened once a year.

 

Now I'm fully aware of the fact that there are people who take the position based on Leviticus 16:1 and this verse that what this means is the High Priest only went in once a year. That was it. He didn't go into the Holy of Holies at any other time. That of course relates back to the problem location of altar of incense. And so you either end up saying he made a mistake back there and the altar of incense really wasn't inside the Holy of Holies (It's outside) or you end up having to understand this having to refer to only the context, which is the Day of Atonement. 

 

Other times he might not even have to go into the Holy of Holies in order change the censer on the altar of incense. If it's just on the other side of the veil he could open the curtain, place the censer there and leave without ever entering into the Holy of Holies. So there are other ways to possibly explain that. But as I pointed out this is a problem and I think the best solution is to move the altar of incense inside the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and not necessarily in the Second Temple because we know it was different then. But we've covered that in detail. 

 

So he goes in and here is our first mention of the fact that it's not without blood. Just the way it's emphasized there it really puts the stress on the fact that the blood has to be there. That is what allows him to enter into the presence of God is the bearing of that blood from the sin offering. So we have to ask the question: why the blood and what is going on here, what exactly does this mean and how are we supposed to understand it?

 

This is where we get off into something that you probably never learned any time in undergraduate school or high school or junior high in terms of figures of speech. But it helps us to understand many things in the Scripture. We have this figure of speech. Sometimes you've heard it simplified as simply a metaphor or this is a representative analogy. Those are extremely broad, vague terms. There are all kinds of figures of speech that could be classified as metaphors, but you can break them do into truly dozens of different kinds of figures of speech. How you understand those subcategories is important to getting a better handle on the kind of figure of speech and what it means. 

 

There are two that are important in understanding the blood of Christ. One is called a metonymy and one is called a synechdoche. And, I'll tell you what the end result is. The reason it is important is in Bullinger's book Figures of Speech of the Bible. He concludes that what we have in the phrase "the blood of Christ" is that it's called a metalepsis. I'll spell that for you before we're done. And metalepsis is a compound of a metonymy and a synechdoche. It's one of both. So that's why we have to look at both of these. He understands and I think he's right. You have to understand how these two things fit together.

 

So I'll give you the definitions. 

 

A metonymy is a figure of speech by which one name or noun is used in place of another name or noun to which it stands in a certain relation.

 

Now that's a key word there. It stands in a certain relation to another noun.

 

In a synechdoche (I'm going to go back and forth so I don't want you to get confused.), the difference between a metonymy and a synechdoche is the synechdoche is the exchange of one idea for an associated idea. That's going to be the difference. One is one noun for a related noun – like blood for blood guiltiness. A synechdoche connects one idea with an associated idea – like blood for death. See they're related ideas, not associated nouns. 

 

So back to metonymy…

 

A metonymy is a figure of speech by which one name or noun is used instead of another name or noun to which it stands in a certain relation. The changes in the noun only in a verb as connected with the action proceeding from it.

 

So it primarily relates to a noun. That's all it's saying there. So it's a noun that has a certain relation to another noun.

 

Synechdoche is associated ideas. That's the main thing you need to remember from this. But what Bullinger says is that this is a figure by which one word receives something from another which is internally associated with it by the connection to two ideas. It's when a part of a thing is put by a kind of metonymy for the whole of it. 

 

Now see these two things (a metonymy and synechdoche) are close together and he is splitting the hairs kind of thin here. It's when a part of a thing is put by a kind of metonymy for whole of it or the whole for a part. The difference between metonymy and synecdoche lies in this: that in metonymy the exchange is made between two related nouns while in synechdoche the exchange is made between two associated ideas.

 

Now that seems all abstract. Let's look at some biblical examples. You know, it's funny how many figures of speech we use. You look at that chair. You say that chair is sitting on four legs. Those aren't legs. You've got legs. That chair doesn't have legs. You are so used to saying it that way you don't realize that at one point in the development of the language that was an analogy of the four things going down from a table or a chair were compared to the legs a person had. But now we just call them the legs of a chair or the legs of a table. But that's really a figure of speech, a comparison. And there are many other things like that we use in language. We're so used to what they mean in terms of their interpretive significance that we don't stop and analyze what their literal meaning is. Language is that way and that's what makes the study of language kind of fun. 

 

NKJ Genesis 6:12 So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.

 

Wow! That's interesting phraseology there. The word flesh there is a figure of speech. Is it all flesh? There's animal flesh. There's human flesh. There's bird flesh and fish flesh. Flesh is used to refer to only a specific kind and that is human flesh, humanity. So the word flesh relates to humanity.

 

So it is a synechdoche where you have one idea that's associated with another idea. So the idea is flesh, which is associated with mankind. But it's not the only kind of flesh that there is.

 

Another example would be using the same imagery is Psalms 145:21.

 

NKJ Psalm 145:21 My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD, And all flesh shall bless His holy name Forever and ever.

 

See the "all" here is also part of the figure of speech because it's not all flesh. There's fish flesh and bird flesh and pig flesh and cow flesh and deer flesh and all kinds of flesh. We're talking about humanity so flesh is put for a related idea of the human race. So that is typical with a synechdoche – one idea is associated with another idea and is substituted for it.

 

Another passage would be Isaiah 40:5. 

 

NKJ Isaiah 40:5 The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

 

So again here we see that all flesh here relates to all people, all mankind. It's the same imagery. 

 

Another example of synechdoche is what's called synechdoche of the species where a smaller category is put for a larger category. 

 

In Psalm 44:6 David writes:

 

NKJ Psalm 44:6 For I will not trust in my bow, Nor shall my sword save me.

What about Uzis? What about AK-47's? See, there are other kinds of weapons. But these are the kinds of weapons he had. So he picks two examples of weapons. But what he's talking about is human weapons of war. That's the broader category and he's using two small examples, smaller categories to represent that larger category. What he is saying is we can't trust in human implements of war and protection to save us. Our protection and security come from God. So it is s synechdoche where one idea is substituted for another related idea. 

 

So we have another example of that in Psalm 46:9 – the same kind of category.

 

NKJ Psalm 46:9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire.

 

Well, what about the sword? See what he is saying? He's using two examples of weapons, but what he's talking about is the broad category of weapons.  This would include tanks and helicopters and bombers, everything else. It's a figure of speech: a synechdoche where you have one idea that's closely associated with another idea. 

 

Deuteronomy 19:12 brings up a category related to the use of the word blood as a synechdoche. Here blood (in the Hebrew it is actually a plural – bloods) is put for murder. So it's an associated idea.

 

NKJ Deuteronomy 19:12 "then the elders of his city shall send and bring him from there, and deliver him over to the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die.

 

This is related to the law. This is related to the cities of refuge. So the one that's guilty can be turned over to the one who is the avenger of the murder victim. He is bringing justice to the murder victim. Blood stands for murder in this particular case. You have other examples of that.

 

NKJ Psalm 9:12 When He avenges blood, He remembers them; He does not forget the cry of the humble.

 

See "blood" is put for life. God requires a life when someone has committed a capital crime. So blood is put for life. It's an associated idea. So we go from blood to life.

 

Let's see.  What other examples do I have?

 

NKJ Leviticus 20:9 'For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother. His blood shall be upon him.

 

Here blood is put for guilt. So we have all kinds of figures of speech. When you read that - you are so familiar with the English language and you've heard this before - you automatically interpret that. You go from the literal to the figurative and understand it without breaking down all of the steps in between. 

 

Deuteronomy 19:10 is another example. Psalm 29:1 – these are examples of metonymy.

Now what is a metonymy? Let's go back to our definition.

 

A metonymy is a figure by which one name or noun is used instead of another name or noun. It's not an associated idea; it's one noun replacing another noun in terms of which it has a certain relation.

 

See it's already translated this way for you. It was hard to find this in some of the more modern translations like New King James or New American Standard because they already brought over the imagery. So you have to look at the Hebrew to see the figure of speech. 

 

Psalm 29:1 in the New King James or probably the New American Standard says:

 

NKJ Psalm 29:1 A Psalm of David. Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones, Give unto the LORD glory and strength.

 

But literally it reads, "Give to the Lord glory and strength." Well, how can we give to the Lord glory and strength. He is omnipotent; I can't give Him any more strength. I can't give Him any more glory. He already has that. So it's used as a metonymy where we can praise God for these attributes, but we can't give them. So they are put by metonymy or noun substitution for praise. See the translator already does that for you. He brought that over. He understood the imagery and he translates it in light of the figure of speech. 

 

Proverbs 1:10-11 does a similar thing. In this it's using the word blood again. Blood is put for shedding blood or committing murder. So here it's used as a metonymy of word substitution as opposed to synechdoche. Just because it's blood doesn't mean it's always one category. 

 

NKJ Proverbs 1:10 My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent.

 

NKJ Proverbs 1:11 If they say, "Come with us, Let us lie in wait to shed blood;

 

That is, in order to shed blood.  One noun is put for a related blood, shedding blood.

 

Let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause;

 

Sometimes you can have what's called a metonymy of cause where the cause of something is put for its effect. For example the tongue is put for its effect such as slander or gossip or something of that nature – what the mouth produces. 

 

Deuteronomy 17:6 is translated as an idiom.

 

NKJ Deuteronomy 17:6 "Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses;

 

Literally what it says is "on the mouth of two witnesses." But see mouth is put for what is produced from the mouth – the testimony.

 

he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness.

 

NKJ Genesis 45:21 Then the sons of Israel did so; and Joseph gave them carts, according to the command [mouth] of Pharaoh, and he gave them provisions for the journey. So this is a metonymy. 

 

We see the same kind of thing for example in Exodus 5:3. At the end there the Lord says: 

 

NKJ Exodus 5:3 So they said, "The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please, let us go three days' journey into the desert and sacrifice to the LORD our God, lest He fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword."

 

The imagery there with the sword, the sword is put for slaughter or massacre.

 

You get the idea so I'm just going to skip down to Isaiah 33:15. Here's where we get an Old Testament example of a metalepsis. A metalepsis is sometimes called a double metonymy. It's actually a metonymy and a synechdoche both. 

 

NKJ Isaiah 33:15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, He who despises the gain of oppressions, Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, And shuts his eyes from seeing evil:

 

What he is really saying is hearing about bloodshed or the one who committed the bloodshed. So you see it's hearing about bloodshed that's one part of a figure of speech. Then it's talking about not just the bloodshed but the committing of the bloodshed. It's a two-step imagery. That's why it's a metalepsis.  A metalepsis has a double figure. So it's talking about he doesn't want to hear about the murder or doesn't want to deal with justice at all. So blood is put for blood shedding, and then blood shedding stands again for the murderers who shed it.

 

Now regarding this metalepsis Bullinger writes:

 

In the New Testament the expression the blood of Christ is the figure of  metalepsis because first the blood is put by synechdoche for blood shedding, i.e. the death of Christ. So you have the phrase the blood of Christ stands for his physical death by synechdoche as death as opposed to life. Then His death is put for the perfect satisfaction. 

 

What I would say His physical death is then put by metonymy for His spiritual death. 

 

That's what Bullinger is saying in essence is slightly different words. 

 

His physical death is put for the perfect satisfaction made by it for all the merits of the atonement affected by it, i.e. it means not merely the actual blood corpuscles Neither does it mean His death as an act, but the merits of the atonement affected by and associated with it. 

 

He goes on to say:

 

So here in Revelation 1:5 it must not be rendered "in His blood" which is not only contrary to Old Testament type where nothing was ever washed in blood which would have defiled it and made it unclean instead of cleansing, but is contrary to the letter as well as the spirit of the Word.  Revelation 1:5 means washed us or loosed us – that is the idea of cleansing us purification from sins…(skipping down) so that such expressions are to be avoided as washed in the blood of the lamb and the sentiment contained in the verse –"there is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel's veins and sinners plunged beneath that blood loose all their guilty stains."

 

He concludes by saying:

 

All such expressions are contrary to physiology and common sense. We lose nothing of the facts but gain immensely as to their meaning when we understand metalepsis blood is put for death and death for the atonement made by it. That is, the spiritual death made by it and its infinite merit. 

 

We'll just stop there. The point is that once we understand this then when we start looking at what the writer of Hebrews is saying with all the discussion about the blood of the sacrifices in verse 12, verse 13, and verse 14 he's got the phrase blood of Christ. The blood of Christ is the basis for His being the medium of the covenant verse 15 and on and on and on through the rest of the chapter. 

 

If you don't understand this figure to begin with then you get lost. But when you understand the figure, all of a sudden it begins to open up all these different dimensions and facets to what's going on with what the Savior did on the cross. It's the paying of the price of redemption, justification, forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace. All of these are by His blood which is in other words by His spiritual death on the cross. When you go through Scripture, what's to motivate us to live the spiritual life? The more we understand the cross, the more we should be motivated to serve the Lord.

 

Illustrations