Justification in Hebrews – an Excerpt from Justification and the Gospel

Cover ArtThe following is an excerpt from Justification and the Gospel, by R. Michael Allen.

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Hebrews describes the life of the incarnate Son. God has spoken in many and various ways, but now he has done so in a Son (Heb. 1:1–2). This Son assumed genuine human form. “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (2:17).

Not only a sacrifice but also glory is given: “For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering” (2:10).  Athanasius highlights the double purpose of the incarnation: “The Word became flesh in order both to offer this sacrifice and that we, participating in His Spirit, might be deified.”

Hebrews fixes upon the death of Jesus. As it compares Jesus and the priests who came before, in the Old Testament era, it informs us that “the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places” (Heb. 8:1–2).

Like other priests, this one offers gifts and sacrifices. In this case, “he offered himself without blemish to God” (9:14; see also 8:3; 9:12–14)….In all these ways, the Epistle to the Hebrews sketches the shape of Christ’s sacrificial offering. In his incarnate life, his substitutionary death, and his atoning offering before God—upon the hilasterion—he offers himself not only as the great high priest but also as the final sacrifice. Thus, the people of God can have solid assurance that they, united to him by faith, will be kept by him.

©2013 by R. Michael Allen. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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