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Hebrews 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 by the sacrifice of himself.

Is it apparent that whoever wrote Hebrews was quite sure that Jesus was not involved in some previous time? The "appearing" is tied to the "at the end of the ages" so it removes any doubt as to when Jesus first appeared.

This apparent timeline is affirmed earlier.

Hebrews 1:2

(God) in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the ages

Does the Hebrews verse/s establish when Jesus first appeared?

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    I don't think we can have the conclusion Hebrews 9:26 affirm Jesus' first appearance for "he has appeared once" has the designate purpose to "put away sin". Jesus could have appeared before for other purposes. Sep 17, 2023 at 14:00
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    I do not like these barbed and loaded questions pushing the Arian theology. All that Heb 9:26 says is that Christ appeared once to take away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. That says nothing about how many other times Christ appeared in Christophanies (eg to Abraham in Gen 18) because none of those were to take away sin.
    – Dottard
    Sep 17, 2023 at 21:14
  • @Dottard. Ask questions about what you call Christophanies then. Sep 17, 2023 at 23:47
  • @Steve. You say, "when Jesus first appeared." By this do you mean "Jesus" as a name, or the person? People can exist before they are known by a particular name. eg babies appear before they are given a name and "that which is conceived in her" was already there before "you shall call his name Jesus",
    – C. Stroud
    Sep 19, 2023 at 12:39

6 Answers 6

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It is significant that the word 'Jesus' does not appear even once in that entire 9th chapter of Hebrews. It is the word 'Christ' that is repeated throughout.

Also in Hebrews chapter 1 the word 'Jesus' does not appear even once, but several times it speaks of the Son of God.

Not until Hebrews chapter 2 verse 9 do we get the first occurrence of the name 'Jesus'. And it links this name with the event of this one coming into the world, as it says:

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death..." Hebrews 2:6 A.V.

That is clearly linked with chapter 1, about the Son of God speaking to us "in these last days". The mainstream Christian view is that those "last days" began with the appearing of Jesus, on Earth, as the one born to the virgin Mary, and they will not end until the resurrected, glorified Christ suddenly returns to usher in the Day of Resurrection and Judgment.

This preamble sets the scene for examining the text in question. It needs to be clear from the outset that there was no Jesus until the virgin miraculously conceived, and brought to birth her first son, who was named 'Jesus'. What Hebrews 9:26 then indicates is that the one who "put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" was the mature man, Jesus, who died to put sin 'away' by that sacrifice of himself. The verse shows that he is also called 'Christ'. He was offered once, at a particular time, and when he appears a second time, it will not be to deal with sin, but for those who look to his appearing to be vindicated as free from sin. This points to other scriptures that will not be gone into here.

When the man, Jesus, first appeared on Earth, that marked the commencement of the 'last days' or, 'the end of the ages'. The preceding verses identify Christ as also being called the Son of God, and the verse in question now shows that Jesus first appeared on Earth at that time - the time for the commencement of the 'last days'. When the Son of God, the Christ, returns to Earth, he will be known as the Son of Man, for again he will be dealing with Earth and its inhabitants. That is why Revelation speaks of one "like unto the Son of Man" (14:14) at that future time.

However this says nothing of any previous occasions when the Son of God appeared mysteriously on Earth in what are called "Christophanies". Just bear in mind that whatever is said about that by anyone, the name "Jesus" cannot apply, because there was no Jesus until the Son of God lowered himself to become Mary's child.

Christians constantly speak of 'Jesus' prior to the incarnation of the Son of God, the Word, but technically, they should not. Just as it is technically incorrect to speak of Abraham and Sarah prior to God changing their names from Abram and Sara. Despite their name-changes, they remained the same people. However, mainstream Christians know that whether called Jesus, the Word of God, the Christ, the Messiah, the Lamb of God, the Saviour etc, this is the only-begotten Son of God we mean. But Heb 9:26 clearly says Jesus first appeared when born on Earth.

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    +1 - excellent answer.
    – Dottard
    Sep 17, 2023 at 21:07
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    While I unreservedly agree with you answer, one can also say, that even if one proleptically calls the person of the OT Christophanies "Jesus", the text of Heb 9:26 still says that this "Jesus" appeared once to take away sin. That says nothing about any previous appearance because such previous appearances were not to take away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
    – Dottard
    Sep 17, 2023 at 21:11
  • @Dottard - Just my point! Heb 9:26 is about his human ministry on Earth when he was (only) then known as the man, Jesus. That was his first coming to Earth as Jesus, his return as the Son of Man still to happen at the very close of 'the last days'. Christians constantly speak of 'Jesus' prior to his incarnation, but technically, they should not. However, mainstream Christians know that whether called Jesus, the Word of God, the Christ, the Messiah, the Lamb of God, the Saviour etc, this is the only-begotten Son of God we mean. But Heb 9:26 clearly says Jesus first appeared when born on Earth.
    – Anne
    Sep 18, 2023 at 10:07
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The verse is correct in its context, the end of age has been considered to be from the time the Roman Empire took control of the world. Right now we are living in the end of age. The spirit who inspired Paul to write this letter considers the time since the Roman Empire took control of the world to be the end of the age as the Bible describes it as the last of the empires, we are currently living in a divided world which is the foot of the statue Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream.

Daniel 7:7

After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.

Exactly after Daniel sees this vision of the Roman Empire as a beast then he sees the vision of the son of man appearing in the clouds of heaven

Daniel 7:13

I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion.

Jesus second coming vision comes exactly after the prophecy about the fourth beast which is the Roman empire and that's why the end of the age started when the Roman Empire started its dominion.

Jesus appeared once when he was born when the Roman Empire was at the height of its power and that's why the Paul says be already appeared once at the end of age.

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  • Hello, Dong Li. Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – agarza
    Sep 17, 2023 at 16:26
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Yes, Heb. 9:26 is one of the time texts of the Bible that define the "end of the ages" as that time when Christ was made manifest on earth, which happened about 2,000 years ago during what we know as the 1st century AD.

since it had behoved him many times to suffer from the foundation of the world, but now once, at the full end of the ages, for putting away of sin through his sacrifice, he hath been manifested; (YLT)

God's word defines His terms and phrases. The problem accepting God's word for what He says is that God's word is bumping against the taught belief systems so many people have learned from their institutional churches which have been teaching false dogma for centuries.

Others have rationalized the pronoun "him" away from the obvious, saying that "Christ" does not mean Jesus in His first appearance, and try to define a new incarnation for a physical return to earth to match their expectations. That is very clearly shown to be false speculation by other Bible verses which are confirming time texts for His appearance in the last days.

In many parts, and many ways, God of old having spoken to the fathers in the prophets, 2 in these last days did speak to us in a Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He did make the ages; (YLT)

Careful analysis shows that Heb. 1:2 says Jesus, God's son - the same Jesus also called Christ throughout the New Testament scriptures - spoke to them in the last days. He did not speak to us in the last days as we were not there. The author of Hebrews was writing to those people living about 65-66 AD when that book was written. Reading ourselves into this text is anachronistic.

Jesus spoke to the people in person during the 1st century AD, and the scriptures says that He spoke "in the last days", therefore the last days are defined by the scripture as having happened in the 1st century AD.

who being the brightness of the glory, and the impress of His subsistence, bearing up also the all things by the saying of his might -- through himself having made a cleansing of our sins, sat down at the right hand of the greatness in the highest, (Heb 1:3, YLT)

When did Jesus (Christ) sit down at the right hand of the Father? Acts 1:9 says that He ascended after His resurrection, and a few days before the day of Pentecost. So, Jesus ascended to the Father during the 1st century AD, during those same last days in which He spoke directly to His disciples.

19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and unspotted -- Christ's --

20 foreknown, indeed, before the foundation of the world, and manifested in the last times because of you, (1 Pet. 1:19-20, YLT)

We know that Christ was manifested on earth during the days of the old Roman empire in Judea of the 1st century AD. And, in his letter to "sojourners of the dispersion of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia" (1 Pet. 1:1), those people living in Asia Minor during the 1st century AD that Christ was manifested in the "last times."

Therefore God's word defines the "last times" as the time when Christ was manifested on earth! That means that the phrase "the last times" and "the end of the ages" and "last days" were never speaking about the end of the physical world, because 2,000 years have passed and the physical cosmos is still here.

These phrases have been taken out of time and place by most Christian doctrines and misused for fortune telling futurist belief systems. God's word defined the last days as the last days of the tribes of Israel (Gen. 49:1-27, the last of which was Judah (Gen. 49:10) where the transfer of the lawgiver was to pass to Christ, the Seed, or Shiloh.

Jesus Christ became the High Priest, the law giver, upon His immersion in the river Jordan by His cousin John in the 1st century AD, a transfer of office from the grandson of the true last Zadok High Priest, anointed from the womb (Luke 1:11-17, 76) to clear the path for the Messenger of the covenant (law) (Mal. 3:1).

The last days were the last days of the Mosaic covenant which is one of the topics of the book of Hebrews, the annulling of the old covenant (Heb. 7:18), the passing away of the old covenant (Heb. 8:13) to make way for the new covenant of Christ, which was called "the new heavens and the new earth."

When the book of Hebrews was written that old animal sacrificial temple in Jerusalem was still operating under the Mosaic covenant. Christ's return was His return in glory (Matt. 25:31) to destroy that temple (Matt. 24:2-3), and to fully establish the new covenant under His gospel, His everlasting kingdom.

The disciples knew that the destruction of that temple was a prophesied judgment from God, and called it "the full end of the age" (Matt. 24:3). Most English translations have read their belief system into the scriptures and mistranslated "aion" (age) as "world." Those are incorrect translations. Matt. 24:3 defined the "end of the age" as the time of the destruction of that temple in Jerusalem which happened in AD 70.

All of the books of the New Testament including Revelation were written before that temple was destroyed, so all of the future tense verbs of those books were still looking forward in time to AD 70. We are reading those scriptures long after those prophesies were fulfilled, and must not apply those prophesies to some future day ahead of us. The end of the age, the last days, these last times were all happening to them in their lifetime of their generation during the 1st century AD.

And, that is why Jesus told His disciples in Matt. 10:23,

...for verily I say to you, ye may not have completed the cities of Israel till the Son of Man may come. (YLT)

Jesus was giving specific instructions to specific people, and told them that they would not finish going through those cities that they knew were still paying tribute to the temple in Jerusalem in the 1st century AD before He returned to them in the 1st century AD>

And, that is why Jesus told His disciples in Matt. 16:28,

Verily I say to you, there are certain of those standing here who shall not taste of death till they may see the Son of Man coming in his reign.' (YLT)

These words were specifically spoken to specific people who were alive and were standing before Jesus when He said them in the 1st century AD. Jesus clearly said He would return in His reign, His kingdom while some of them would still be living.

If you are to maintain that Jesus has not yet returned, then you must also believe that some of those living in the 1st century AD are yet still alive today as we read these scriptures about 2,000 years later.

Hermeneutics means we examine the scriptures for their true meaning, and not read into the text belief systems that have overlaid the scriptures by the teachings and doctrines of men. Hermeneutics requires analysis from within the scriptures, and when the scriptures contradict our beliefs, then our beliefs are wrong and must be discarded.

Heb. 9:26 clearly means that Jesus Christ's manifestation / appearance on earth was during the last days of the old Mosaic covenant, which covenant was fully removed with the destruction of that temple in AD 70.

Further reading:

Did Christ Lie to His Disciples

The Zionist Lie of "These Last Days"...

...We Are Not Living in The Last Days

...The Time of His Coming

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  • Thx for your contribution. Your 'last days' concept seems to disregard verses like, 'I will raise them up at the last day'. This has not happened, so no one has yet seen the last days. There is considerable time between Jesus' return to earth and the new heavens etc. The "1000 years" is mentioned 6 times in 7 verses! This is not a figurative expression meant to be interpreted away. Most of humanity is yet to make their choice regarding salvation as they have not had opportunity to make it yet.
    – Steve
    Sep 19, 2023 at 11:14
  • Steve, the last day is a reference to the Feast of Trumpets, and the last trump on the 1st of Tishri. Unless you know the Hebrew feast days & how they pointed to Christ you will miss the connection. The raising up from the grave was not visible to the mortal eye. Jesus did this in the spiritual realm. The 1,000 yrs is absolutely figurative & means God's perfect complete appointed time. It is not literal. Since AD 70 every one who dies in the Lord is resurrected at their bodily death & passing from this realm (Rev. 14:13). Every one who does not die in the Lord is judged & cast out. ..
    – Gina
    Sep 19, 2023 at 13:51
  • ...We do not see that judgment in the physical realm. Jesus is our High Priest at the right hand of the Father in heaven, & His judgment of each soul takes place in the spiritual realm. We see "natural" catastrophes, & wars, some of which may be judgments from on high, but the mortal eye does not see the spiritual events (2 Kings 6:17). Your belief that the last days has not happened yet is b/c you r not letting God's word rule. Pls read some of the posts at my site as I cannot list all of the OT scriptures that prove it here in one answer.
    – Gina
    Sep 19, 2023 at 13:56
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Jewish Background A study of New Testament background reveals the Rabbinical teaching of the Former Days and the Latter Days. That is the belief that the Former days referred to the Israelite history before the exile, and the Latter days afterward, which would be highlighted by (a) the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2), and (b) the Coming of Messiah, which would be introduced by the appearance of Elijah and by Birth pangs (troublous times).

The writer of Hebrews concurred: Jesus (the Messiah, Heb. the Christ, Gk.) did appear in "these Last (latter) days (Hebrews 9:26). And that He "has spoken" at the "end (climax) of all the ages" that have gone on before. (The Patriarch age, the age of Judges, the Mosaic age, the Israel kingdom age, the Maccabean age, the Second Temple age).

This Age of Messiah is the End-time of human history, the climax of Redemptive history which was marked by the Death, Resurrection, Ascension, and Coronation of Christ. According to the writer of Hebrew, this final age will be consummated (synteleos, Gk.) by the Second Coming of Christ! With the ultimate in salvation: Eternal Life.

Yes, considering the rabbinical teaching as the background for the Early Church understanding of the times they were in, there was no doubt that the Messiah's appearance was in the first century... and that the Messiah was indeed introduced by Elijah...that the crucifixion brought salvation by His sacrifice...and that this was in the final stage of redemptive history---the End (teleology) of all that the previous ages (and prophets) pointed forward to. (1 Peter 1)

{See Alfred Eddersheim,Life and Times of the Messiah, J.J. Stott, Jr., Jewish Backgrounds to the New Testament.}

Time Frame But, having dealt with the timing of Messiah, it must be noted that that was not the main topic of this verse in Hebrews 9:26! The topic is the efficiency of the Sacrifice of Jesus as the Lamb of God. Jesus only needed to be sacrificed "once."

The following verse underscores this, as does the chapter context. While the Jewish priests had to offer the Passover Lamb sacrifice over and over again (year after year) for the sins of Israel, Jesus the Lamb of God (John 1:29) only had to be sacrificed once to accomplish salvation for all the sins of the world.

Jesus was offered once to bear the sins of the many. (9:28).

Then said He, 'Lo I come to do thy will,o God'. He taketh away the first that He may establish the second. By which we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (9:9-10)

For by one offering he hath perfected forever them who are sanctified. (9:14)

Greek Word The Greek word used for "once" is 'apadz, and it means once, one time. (See 2 Cor. 11:25, Heb. 9:26, 1 Peter 3:20)

It is used of what's so done as to be perpetual validity and never need repetition...once for all (Hebrews 10:2, 1 Peter 3:18; Thayer's Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 54)

It is this finality that was stated in 9:26 and not a statement of timing concerning the Incarnation of Jesus. Neither this chapter nor this verse, in particular, has the objective of laying out a "timeline." The Greek word has nothing to do with "first" as in a timeline. Rather the word, 'apadz, dealt with punctuality, one act, one redemptive deed.

Christophany Therefore, this passage in Hebrews cannot be used to teach the "first appearance" of Jesus. This verse does not rule out the several Christophanies in the Old Testament. (Angel of the Lord, Genesis 18:1, Judges 6:12,22-23, etc.) And it cannot ever be used to deny the pre-existence of Christ (to deny His divinity).

Jesus's own statement was Before Abraham was, I am! And John revealed that it was Jesus (the Word) who created the world! (John 1:1-4, Colossians 1:14-17). Also, the book of Revelation recorded, the phrase, I am the Alpha and Omega. Jesus did not say, I am the omichron and Omega.He did not begin His Providence halfway through the history of the world but was Sovereign from the very beginning, sustaining it throughout time after He created it.

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Does Hebrews 9:26 indicate when Jesus first appeared?

YES - beyond any doubt.

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 by the sacrifice of himself.

On its own, this verse pokes a hole in the pre-existence theories of Jesus who is the word become flesh, born of Mary ~2000 years ago. On its own v26 isn't conclusive. However, the next verse makes the hole a lot bigger!

Heb 9:27 and just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 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.

Jesus appeared once and then a "second time".

While the referenced 'first time' might seem ambiguous, the clarity of the 'second time' removes all ambiguity.

As another answer accepts, Jesus is not mentioned until the Gospels - neither is the son of God who would take away the sins of the world. He is certainly prophesied to come from Genesis 3 but did not actually exist until his conception and birth through Mary and the end of the ages as noted.

A "second time" completes and sets the "first time" in concrete. There are no other times possible before the 'first and once' mentioned and affirmed by the NT. Any other imagined incidents must not contradict these simple facts.

There is no other son mentioned, certainly not a God the Son, who is an entirely invented character. We should stick to the plain and consistent Biblical revelation and avoid injecting theology into the word of God. Such theories depend not on specific verse, but on conjecture and the isolation of various proof-texts that may seem to provide support.

Heb 1:1-2 1 God, having spoken long ago to our fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His son...

Clearly, God did not speak through a pre-existent son in ages past. Of course, this aligns perfectly with the other Hebrews truths, and the Gospels, which note Jesus, OR the Christ, OR the son has only recently appeared in the last 2 millennia for the purposes explained.

Any constructs that place Jesus or the son or some other imagined entity before the stated events fails to have any solid Biblical support and creates numerous contradictions - especially with this Hebrews passage.

Conclusion:

Yes, Hebrews affirms the Gospels and the Apostles which speak of the conception and timely birth of the son of God who would sacrifice himself for the sin of the world. Not merely by a reference to him appearing once, but by an affirmation noting a second time he would appear. This passage conclusively eliminates any other time previously that Jesus or some other form of God's son is involved in the affairs of humanity.


A Comment to the Question is noted. "That says nothing about any previous appearance because such previous appearances were not to take away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." (Dottard)

By allowing the whole passage and related verses to inform us of the truth regarding Jesus, the son of God and the Christ, we allow the text to speak in as intended instead of making careless assumptions with only fragments of the story.

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Please notice that the very first word at Hebrews 1:1 is "God." So "God" after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many ways, vs2, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He/the Son made the world."

So how did God speak in the Old Testament? Well, through visions, dreams, through angels and physical appearances. In a dream, Genesis 20:3, a vision at Genesis 15:1, and angels at Hebrews 1:14. Physical appearance at Genesis 17:1-2.

Regarding physical appearances of God begs the question? God the Father did not make these physical appearances because the Father cannot be seen even according to Jesus Christ Himself. John 5:37, John 6:46.

Getting back to your question from Hebrews 9:16 please notice vs28, "so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation/deliverance without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him."

This does not preclude the Son from appearing in the Old Testament as the angel of the Lord, who is the preincarnate Jesus Christ. And "no" Jesus Christ is not an actual angel. This is brought out at Hebrews 2:16, "For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant/seed of Abraham."

He was the Lord God Almighty who physically appeared to Abraham at Genesis 17. He is also the one who swore the oath to Abraham at Genesis 22:11-18. Verses 15-17, "Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, vs16, "and said, By Myself I have sworn declares the Lord because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son from Me, vs17, indeed I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies."

Hebrews 6:13-17 references Genesis 22. "For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, HE SWORE BY HIMSELF, VS14, saying, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply you." You can read the rest of the verse yourself.

So, here's the point? God spoke in two phases, one before the actual coming or incarnation into the world and one through the Son's coming at His incarnation. The second coming of Jesus Christ at the end of the age/world according to Hebrews 9:28 will be for His bride, the Church.

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