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In Heb. 9:11, the Greek text states,

ΙΑʹ Χριστὸς δὲ παραγενόμενος ἀρχιερεὺς τῶν μελλόντων ἀγαθῶν διὰ τῆς μείζονος καὶ τελειοτέρας σκηνῆς οὐ χειροποιήτου τουτέστιν οὐ ταύτης τῆς κτίσεως TR, 1550

which may be translated as,

11 But after Christ appeared as a high priest of the good, coming things, by means of a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is, not of this creation

According to Thayer,1 the Greek verb «παραγίνομαι», from which «παραγενόμενος» is conjugated, can refer to one making an appearance.

Thayer, p. 480, παραγίνομαι

Likewise, Franz Delitzsch wrote,2

Delitzsch, p. 75

Question: When did the Lord Jesus Christ appear as a high priest? Is the author of the epistle to the Hebrews referring to the incarnation on earth or the ascension into heaven of the Lord Jesus Christ?3


Footnotes

1 p. 480

2 p. 75

3 The impetus for the question is Franz Delitzsch’s remarks on Heb. 9:11 on p. 75 of his commentary on Hebrews.

References

Delitzsch, Franz. Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews. Trans. Kingsbury, Thomas L. Vol. 2. Edinburgh: Clark, 1872.

Thayer, Joseph Henry. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Being Grimm Wilke’s Clavis Novi Testamenti. Rev. ed. New York: American Book, 1889.

1

παραγενόμενος ἀρχιερεὺς refers to the fact that Christ had come to Earth having already been High Priest.

Consider the interpretation of John Chrysostom - a Byzantine Greek commenting in Greek - of this particular verse:

“But Christ” (he says) “being come an High Priest”: he did not say, “become,” but “being come,” that is, having come for this very purpose, not having been successor to another. He did not come first and then become [High Priest], but came and became at the same time. And he did not say “being come an High Priest” of things which are sacrificed, but “of good things that are come,” as if his discourse had not power to put the whole before us.

Χριστὸς δὲ, φησὶ, παραγενόμενος ἀρχιερεύς. Οὐκ εἶπε, Γενόμενος, ἀλλὰ, Παραγενόμενος, τουτέστιν, εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο ἐλθὼν, οὐχ ἕτερον διαδεξάμενος· οὐ πρότερον παρεγένετο, καὶ τότε ἐγένετο, ἀλλ' ἅμα ἦλθε. Καὶ οὐκ εἶπε, Παραγενόμενος ἀρχιερεὺς τῶν θυομένων, ἀλλὰ, Τῶν μελλόντων ἀγαθῶν· ὡς οὐκ ἰσχύοντος τοῦ λόγου παραστῆσαι τὸ πᾶν. (Homilies on the Epistle to the Hebrews, Homily XV)

  • So, in your opinion, it does not refer to the ascension post-crucifixion, but rather, to his incarnation? – user862 Jun 28 '16 at 21:32
  • Correct. I believe this is consistent with the Greek itself as well as the Patristic commentary we have on this verse. – user15733 Jun 28 '16 at 23:58
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I'm of the opinion that "To the Hebrews" would benefit from a warning/disclaimer in the preface that says something to the effect of:

NOTICE: In order to understand this essay it is necessary to have a firm grasp of the rituals of Yom Kippur found in Leviticus 16.

This is, I think subtly suggested in the title (which is found since the oldest manuscripts) of "To the Hebrews". All throughout the book the author is alluding to the Torah, comparing and contrasting:

  • the Melchizedechian priesthood of Jesus with the Aaronic priesthood
  • Jesus as chief priest vs the Aaronic priests
  • the preparations made on Yom Kippur vs the preparation of Jesus
  • the earthly temple vs the sky temple
  • the sacrifices of Aaron vs the sacrifice of Jesus
  • the Sinai covenant vs the new testament

And more.

I strongly urge anyone hoping to understand this essay to first memorize the rituals of Leviticus 16.

Notice how Hebrews 9 sets up a contrast of the covenants and temples:

Heb 9:1 Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness.

He describes the earthly temple and its furnishings:

Heb 9:2 For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. Heb 9:3 Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, Heb 9:4 having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron's staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. Heb 9:5 Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

He describes the first ritual of Yom Kippur that the priest performs which is make an atonement (an expression of remorse and appeal for forgiveness) in order to establish a basis for proceeding into the holy place:

Heb 9:6 These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, Heb 9:7 but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people.

He interprets the presence of the outer court as a barrier to the holy places!:

Heb 9:8 By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing Heb 9:9 (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, Heb 9:10 but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.

He says that the sacrificial apparatus indicated that the path to God's presence was blocked off by the outer court and that as long as the outer court remained in place there could be no public access to God. The ritual of the preparation of the priest would repeat year after year, never perfecting the priest or cleansing the conscience of the worshiper.

Now the author compares and contrasts that arrangement with the access to God that Jesus provided, both for himself and for the people:

YLT Heb 9:11 And Christ being come, chief priest of the coming good things, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands--that is, not of this creation-- Heb 9:12 neither through blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, did enter in once into the holy places, age-during redemption having obtained;

In the Jesus scenario Jesus did not approach God on the basis of the blood of animals but instead his own blood was shed to ratify the new testament and in so doing establish a new and living approach to God because he himself was forever released from sin and death. He "obtained everlasting freedom".

Heb 9:13 for if the blood of bulls, and goats, and ashes of an heifer, sprinkling those defiled [Levitic purification], doth sanctify to the purifying of the flesh, Heb 9:14 how much more shall the blood of the Christ (who through the age-during Spirit [breath, as synecdoche of "life"] did offer [present for priestly service] himself unblemished to God) purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

So Jesus "takes away the first" (the Levitic system which required sacrifices) to establish the second (Melchizedecian system which was based on an endless life) by becoming the "death introduced" to ratify the new testament:

Heb 9:15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. Heb 9:16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. Heb 9:17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. Heb 9:18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. Heb 9:19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, Heb 9:20 saying, "This is the blood of [that ratifies] the covenant that God commanded for you." Heb 9:21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Heb 9:22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Heb 9:23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. Heb 9:24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Heb 9:25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, Heb 9:26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin [offerings] by the sacrifice of himself. Heb 9:27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, Heb 9:28 so Christ, having been offered [to God for priestly service] once to bear the sins of many [like the scapegoat], will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

So in summary, Christ appeared before God in the sky temple, never into the Aaronic system (since he was not a Levite).

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