Bible Think Tank

This site is designed to help you interact with others about God's Word. I further some thoughts we developed during morning and evening gatherings at church. I have my NT translations from the original Greek to English. Also, I have book reviews and other current events.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Holy Spirit's Role in Jesus' Sacrifice

The Text

Hebrews 9:13-14 "For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"

A Brief Explanation

Our discussion this past Sunday night (3/16/2008), was on the role of the Holy Spirit in Jesus' sacrifice of Himself on the cross for our sins. Specifically in this verse, what does it mean that Jesus offered Himself "through the eternal Spirit"? What is that Spirit? Is the the Holy Spirit? Is it Jesus' soul/spirit? If it is the Holy Spirit, then what role did the Holy Spirit have in Jesus' death? The Notes are available here and the sermon audio is available here.

Barne's Notes

“Who through the eternal Spirit” —This expression is very difficult, and has given rise to a great variety of interpretation.—Some mss. instead of “eternal” here, read “holy,” making it refer directly to the Holy Spirit; see “Wetstein.” These various readings, however, are not regarded as of sufficient authority to lead to a change in the text, and are of importance only as showing that it was an early opinion that the Holy Spirit is here referred to. The principal opinions which have been entertained of the meaning of this phrase, are the following.
(1) that which regards it as referring to the holy spirit, the third person of the trinity. This was the opinion of owen, doddridge, and archbishop tillotson.
(2) that which refers it to the “divine nature” of christ. Among those who have maintained this opinion, are beza, ernesti, wolf, vitringa, storr, and the late dr. John p. Wilson. Mss. Notes.
(3) others, as grotius, rosenmüller, koppe, understand it as meaning “endless” or “immortal life,” in contradistinction from the jewish sacrifices which were of a perishable nature, and which needed so often to be repeated.
(4) others regard it as referring to the glorified person of the saviour, meaning that in his exalted, or spiritual station in heaven, he presents the efficacy of his blood.
(5) others suppose that it means “divine influence,” and that the idea is, that christ was actuated and filled with a divine influence when he offered up himself as a sacrifice; an influence which was not of a temporal and fleeting nature, but which was eternal in its efficacy. This is the interpretation preferred by prof. Stuart.
For an examination of these various opinions, see his “Excursus, xviii.” on this Epistle. It is difficult, if not impossible, to decide what is the true meaning of the passage amidst this diversity of opinion; but there are some reasons which seem to me to make it probable that the Holy Spirit is intended, and that the idea is, that Christ made his great sacrifice under “the extraordinary influences of that Eternal Spirit.” The reasons which lead me to this opinion, are the following:
(1) It is what would occur to the great mass of the readers of the New Testament. It is presumed that the great body of sober, plain, and intelligent readers of the Bible, on perusing the passage, suppose that it refers to the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. There are few better and safer rules for the interpretation of a volume designed like the Bible for the mass of mankind, than to abide by the sense in which they understand it.
(2) this interpretation is one which is most naturally conveyed by the language of the original. The phrase “the spirit”—τὸ πνέυμα to pneuma—has so far a technical and established meaning in the New Testament as to denote the Holy Spirit, unless there is something in the connection which renders such an application improper. In this case there is nothing certainly which “necessarily” forbids such an application. The high names and Classical authority of those who have held this opinion, are a sufficient guarantee of this.
(3) this interpretation accords with the fact that the Lord Jesus is represented as having been eminently endowed with the influences of the Holy Spirit; compare notes on John 3:34. Though he was divine, yet he was also a man, and as such was under influences similar to those of other pious people. The Holy Spirit is the source and sustainer of all piety in the soul, and it is not improper to suppose that the man Christ Jesus was in a remarkable manner influenced by the Holy Spirit in his readiness to obey God and to suffer according to his will.
(4) if there was ever any occasion on which we may suppose he was influenced by the Holy Spirit, that of his sufferings and death here referred to may be supposed eminently to have been such an one. It was expressive of the highest state of piety—of the purest love to God and man—which has ever existed in the human bosom; it was the most trying time of his own life; it was the period when there would be the most strong temptation to abandon his work; and as the redemption of the whole world was dependent on that act, it is reasonable to suppose that the richest heavenly grace would be there imparted to him, and that he would then be eminently under the influence of that Spirit which was granted not “by measure unto him.” notes, John 3:34.
(5) this representation is not inconsistent with the belief that the sufferings and death of the Redeemer were “voluntary,” and had all the merit which belongs to a voluntary transaction. Piety in the heart of a Christian now is not less voluntary because it is produced and cherished by the Holy Spirit, nor is there less excellence in it because the Holy Spirit imparts strong faith in the time of temptation and trial. It seems to me, therefore, that the meaning of this expression is, that the Lord Jesus was led by the strong influences of the Spirit of God to devote himself as a sacrifice for sin. It was not by any temporary influence; not by mere excitement; it was by the influence of the “Eternal” Spirit of God, and the sacrifice thus offered could, therefore, accomplish effects which would be eternal in their character. It was not like the offering made by the Jewish high priest which was necessarily renewed every year, but it was under the influence of one who was “eternal,” and the effects of whose influence might be everlasting. It may be added, that if this is a correct exposition, it follows that the Holy Spirit is eternal, and must, therefore, be divine.

Hope that helps you in your study of the Holy Spirit!

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home