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Hebrews 9:28, DRB:

So also Christ was offered once to exhaust the sins of many; the second time he shall appear without sin to them that expect him unto salvation.

The phrase he shall appear without sin is ambiguous somehow. Did he appear in the first time with sin?

This phrase appears in some versions clear, but I am not sure if it was a literal translation.

For example:

  • he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. NIV.
  • He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him. NLT.
  • will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. ESV.

And many other translations of clear meaning.

But KJV, ASV and DRB and many other translations who are faithful to the original Greek Text, appear ambiguous somehow.

So what is the most accurate translation?, Could you interpret it to me?

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The author is alluding to the two comings (advents) of the Messiah. During the first advent, he came as “the lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world.”1 The Lord Jesus Christ was not “without sin” (i.e., he was with sin) during his first advent, although that sin was not his own. Rather, “he bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors.”2 Elsewhere, the apostle Paul wrote,3

21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

For this reason, the author states in the same verse,

28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

During his second advent, he will not come to bear sin. Rather, he will come to “judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom,”4 in fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy.5 Hence, the author states that Christ will appear a second time «χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας», “without sin,” that is, not being associated with it (by bearing it).

On the Greek word χωρίς, Thayer wrote,6

Thayer, p. 675, χωρίς, 2


Footnotes

1 John 1:29; cf. 1 Pet. 1:19; Isa. 53
2 Isa. 53:12
3 2 Cor. 5:21
4 2 Tim. 4:1
5 Dan. 7:13–14
6 p. 675

References

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

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  • do you mean by(Christ was not “without sin” during his first advent) that Jesus in first advent was with sin, i.e: was not "without sin"=was with sin?!
    – salah
    May 11 '20 at 22:00
  • @DerÜbermensch - Excellent answer. You might also quote 2 Cor 5:21 about the "great divine trade", where Paul says, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (+1)
    – Dottard
    May 11 '20 at 22:21
  • @DerÜbermensch thank you for answer and for your comments.
    – salah
    May 11 '20 at 22:42
  • @Dottard—How could I forget? Yes, will do. May 11 '20 at 22:56
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Sorting through various translations is a starting point in our endeavors to unfold the accurate interpretation of Hebrews 9:28. Another key we can apply is to consider the harmony of this verse with scriptures relating to the same subject.

According to I Corinthians 5:7 Christ our passover is sacrificed for us. His sacrifice was the complete and final sacrifice for all sin. I Peter 1:19 says he was as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He had to be without sin in order for his sacrifice to atone for the sins of mankind. This agrees with Hebrews 4:15 which states he: was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

In the "Lamsa Bible" Dr. George M. Lamsa, the Aramaic scholar, whose native tongue was Aramaic, translated Hebrews 9:28 from Aramaic Manuscripts:

28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; so that at his second coming he shall appear without our sins for the salvation of those who look for him.

The Holy Bible from Ancient Eastern Manuscripts (Nashville, Tenn.: A.J. Holman, 1957)

When God raised Jesus Christ from the corruption of the grave, his sacrifice for the sins of mankind was complete, and he was given a new spiritual body. At his second coming, he will appear in this new body for the gathering together and the first resurrection of mankind. At this time, those who have accepted him will receive deliverance from the corruption of the grave (the "salvation" spoken of in vs 28) and a new body like unto his:

...it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. I John 3:2

Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. Philippians 3:21

Another verse in the immediate context fits perfectly with the verses we have just covered ...he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Hebrews 9:26 This understanding fits harmoniously with verse 28 and with the many verses regarding Jesus' sacrifice and victory over sin and death and reminds us we have a glorious future to look forward to.

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