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Hebrews 10:11-12 (KJV) 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

I am aware that this word ordering and punctuation is consistent throughout almost all of the English translations. The comma after 'for ever' is the key. However there are some translations in different languages which have got a somewhat different word ordering and punctuation, thus making the 'for ever' a description of how He sat down.

The whole point is that He did NOT sit down forever but rather offer one sacrifice forever, and I believe this is a doctrinal truth.

So my question is: Mainly to those who are more familiar with how the Greek grammar works. Is the original text of Hebrews 10:12 clear of how the passage is meant to be understood? Also, if a brief explanation is possible that would be great.

  • I am not familiar with the Greek here, but other NT passages make this clear. Compare 1 Cor 15. Also Acts 2 and Heb 10(?). 'Sit at my right hand until l make your enemies my footstool'. 1C15 makes it clear that Christ will sit until this time, at which point, He will hand the Kingdom back over to the Father. He must sit until, so this passage agrees. The forever musy be with the sacrifices. – user6152 Nov 24 '14 at 18:21
  • Yes, I agree with that and it is confirmed by many places in Scripture, some of which you mentioned. However, I wanted to see why the mistake arises in some translations... (just want to get my facts straight as I am writing an article about it...) – G.Rassovsky Nov 24 '14 at 18:28
  • As also pointed out by fdb, using texts by other NT authors to deduce the meaning of this text is methodologically dubious. You can do it here, but you'll need to show work for doing so and support the connections. This is not a religious website - we don't take it as a given that these texts are 'Scripture' nor that they are harmonious. You may, but state this as a presupposition (i.e. define your hermeneutic biases and approach). – Dan Nov 24 '14 at 19:42
  • My assumptions have nothing to do with my question. – G.Rassovsky Nov 24 '14 at 19:46
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The free-download Interlinear Scripture Analyzer allows users to search clauses in the Greek New Testament in various ways. For example, please click here.

We see that there are nine instances in the Textus Receptus version of the Greek New Testament, where the Greek words occur together in the phrase with some [Prep] (Preposition) + some [t_Acc] (Article in Accusative Case) + some [a_Acc] (Substantival Adjective in Accusative Case) + some [vi] Verb -- that is, where any kind of verb immediately follows the prepositional phrase. In six instances, the phrase occurs at the beginning or end of the verse, and in these instances there is little to no ambiguity of meaning in the text; however, in three verses the phrase appears in the middle of the sentence where grammatical ambiguity may occur with the verb preceding or with the verb following the prepositional phrase: Mark 14:60; Luke 4:35; and Heb 10:12.

In each of these three instances, the prepositional phrase appears to modify the verb preceding the prepositional phrase. Thus in Mark 14:60 the High Priest came forward; that is, he did not "question forward"; in Luke 4:35, the demon threw the child in the midst of the people; that is, the demon "did not come out of the midst of the body" of the child; and of course in Heb 10:12 Jesus forever offered one sacrifice for sins; that is, he did not "sit down forever" as the following verse would indicate.

Acts 7:55-56 (NASB)
55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, he [Stephen] gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; 56 and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

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I hope you realise that ancient Greek manuscripts did not usually have punctuation. The comma was added by modern translators to clarify what they took to be the correct interpretation.

The original in Hebrews 10:12 reads: οὗτος δὲ μίαν ὑπὲρ ἁμαρτιῶν προσενέγκας θυσίαν εἰς τὸ διηνεκὲς ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ θεοῦ.

From a grammatical point of view εἰς τὸ διηνεκὲς can go either with what precedes it (one sacrifice for sins) or with what follows it (he sat down at the right hand of God). Both interpretations are grammatically correct. I personally think it is methodologically dubious to use texts by other New Testament authors to deduce the meaning intended by the author of Hebrews.

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