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I'm curious about the Greek (χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας) which NASB translates as "without reference to sin" here:

so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him. (Hebrews 9:28 NASB)

οὕτως ὁ Χριστός ἅπαξ προσενεχθεὶς εἰς τὸ πολλῶν ἀνενεγκεῖν ἁμαρτίας ἐκ δευτέρου χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας ὀφθήσεται τοῖς αὐτὸν ἀπεκδεχομένοις εἰς σωτηρίαν

What does this expression mean?

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χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας means without or apart from [χωρὶς] sin [ἁμαρτίας]. The same phrase is found earlier:

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without (χωρὶς) sin (ἁμαρτίας). (Hebrews 4:15 NASB)

Some recent translations may express the idea in 9:28 better:

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. (ESV)

so also, after Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many, to those who eagerly await him he will appear a second time, not to bear sin but to bring salvation. (NET)

The previous verse puts the meaning of this into context:

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment (NASB)

Christ, as the Holy One of Israel, having entered into the Most Holy Place and been offered once to bear sins will appear a second time (without sin) to bring salvation to those who eagerly await Him and judgment to those who deny Him.

  • How, pray tell, do you get from without χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας to "not to bear sin"?! – user10231 Apr 29 '16 at 13:51
  • The verse in question is about the Second Coming, not the sacrifice of the Day of Atonement, or the sacrifices required in the intervening period. (Hebrews 10:11 is about the priest’s daily duties which also included sacrifices for sin. Those too were done away with.) Death is not permanent it is temporary. His resurrection is proof sinners have been declared to be righteous: “who was delivered up because of our offences, and was raised up because of our being declared righteous.” Romans 4:25 – Revelation Lad Apr 29 '16 at 19:54
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    Sorry, but that reading of Romans 4:25 is not going to work, unless you think that you were declared righteous in the first century. The effect of death on Jesus is permanent in that he was forever made free from sin and death. Unlike the blood of bulls and goats that did not perfect the priests. That is the point of the passage! – user10231 Apr 29 '16 at 20:07
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    His death was his preparation to serve as high priest. It had the effect of freeing him forever from sin and death. That is the point made in the passage of Hebrews we are considering. It makes no claim that it justified you. What justifies is God counting faith as righteousness, not sacrifice. – user10231 Apr 29 '16 at 20:39
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    I should mention that in this area of Hebrews it also discusses the new covenant with the Jews that has a completely different bunch of features but that only applies to the Jews. – user10231 Apr 29 '16 at 21:01
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It is not an exaggeration to say that in order to understand this section of To the Hebrews it is imperative that one first understand the rituals of Yom Kippur (aka "The Day of Atonement"). These rituals are described in Leviticus 16. If you are not familiar with this passage I urge you to close up To the Hebrews and take the time to ponder that chapter. Far too many people cite snippets from To the Hebrews to "prove" things without understanding to what they actually refer. Here's a synopsis: http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/15117-yom-kippur

Hebrews 9 relates to the first ritual of this holy day, the day that the Israelites obtained forgiveness of sins. I say "obtained" because since the destruction of the temple in 70 CE these rituals are no longer observed. In this ritual the high priest (Aaron, a Levite) was to offer a bull (a male ox) by shedding his blood and sprinkling it before the lord as an atonement for himself, to express his remorse for his sins and for the sins of the people and to seek permission to proceed into the holy place and perform his priestly duty. This had to be done every year because rain or shine, every single year the priest had been beset with moral failings and was unfit to serve.

Heb 9:7 But only the high priest went into the second part, and then only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins committed by the people in ignorance.

So since Jesus is now the high priest, does he also need to perform this preparatory ritual each year? Does he have to offer a bull to apologize for sinning that year? No. Because Jesus did not approach God on the basis of the blood of a bull or goat but on the basis of his own blood being shed. In dying he became free from sin and death once and for all:

Heb 10:11 Day after day [annually] every [high] priest stands and repeatedly offers the same sacrifices that can never take away [his] sins [from his life]. Heb 10:12 But when this [high] priest [Jesus] had offered for all time one sacrifice for [his sins and the people's] sins, "he sat down at the right hand of God."

By dying to sin Jesus became forever free from sin and death and could serve perpetually, unlike the Aaronic priests:

Rom 6:7 For the person who has died has been freed from sin. Rom 6:8 Now if we have died with the Messiah, we believe that we will also live with him, Rom 6:9 for we know that the Messiah, who was raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has mastery over him. Rom 6:10 For when he [Jesus] died, he died once and for all to sin. But now that he is alive, he lives for God.

So, unlike Aaron and his sons, this high priest only had to die a single time because "death is permanent":

Heb 9:25 Nor did he go into heaven to sacrifice himself again and again, the way the high priest goes into the Holy Place every year on the basis of blood that is not his own. Heb 9:26 Then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the creation of the world. But now, at the end of the ages, he has appeared once for all to remove sin by his sacrifice. Heb 9:27 Indeed, just as people are destined to die once and after that to be judged, Heb 9:28 so the Messiah presented himself once [to serve God as chief priest] to carry away the sins of many people. And he will appear a second time, not to deal with [his own] sin, but to bring salvation to those who eagerly wait for him.

So in summary, unlike the offerings of the Aaronic priests which were required annually because of their sins, Jesus actually died to sin and since death is permanent so his freedeom from sin, and from death is permanent. So he's alive forever, free from sin and carrying away people's sins like the goat that carried off the sins of the Jews into the wilderness:

Lev_16:21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:

Heb 7:23 There have been many priests, since each one of them had to stop serving in office when he died. Heb 7:24 But because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Heb 7:25 Therefore, because he always lives to intercede for them, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him. Heb 7:26 We need such a high priest—one who is holy, innocent, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Heb 7:27 He has no need to offer sacrifices every [yearly] day [of atonement] like high priests do, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he sacrificed himself. Heb 7:28 For the Law appoints as high priests men who are weak, but the promised oath, which came after the Law, results in a Son who is eternally perfect.

  • @RevelationLad The first goat is not to remove sin but rather to make atonement. An atonement is an expression of contrition and an appeal for forgiveness. The scapegoat is the one that carries away the sins of the people as a figure of forgiveness. The goats and the first goat are preparatory, the living goat the symbol of forgiveness. Yes, Jesus' blood was shed to prepare the priest as I showed above. – user10231 Apr 29 '16 at 15:26
  • @RevelationLad I think you may have meant to mention the first goat in your comment; did you? – user10231 Apr 29 '16 at 16:00
  • @RevelationLad Okay, we could be in violent agreement here. The priests returned each year with sin because their atonement did not make them perfect. But Jesus appeared only once to die to sin because it made him perfect. His date made him forever free of sin and death. So he has gone a single time into the true temple to present himself with an unending, sinless life to act as priest. As a priest he "takes away" the sins of the people like the scapegoat did. When he does come back he'll have no sin and won't have to die all over. "without sin" refers to his own sinless state, not sacrifice. – user10231 Apr 29 '16 at 17:18

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