Hebrews 9:27
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
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(27) And as it is appointed . . .—More literally, And as there is laid up for men once to die, and after this judgment. Man’s life and works on earth end with death: what remains is the result of this life and these works, as determined by God’s “judgment.” Man does not return to die a second time. That some few have twice passed through death does not affect the general law. The emphatic word “once” and the special design of the verse are explained by the words which follow.

Hebrews 9:27-28. And as it is appointed, &c. — Inasmuch as this is the constitution of God, that sinful men shall die once, and but once; (see the margin;) and after this the judgment — Of the great day, between which and death nothing shall interpose to make any alteration in the state or condition of any one, for at death every man’s final state is determined; but we do not find a word in the Scriptures of any particular judgment taking place immediately after death. So Christ, &c. — In correspondence to that state of things, and for a remedy against it; and the relief (O wonderful effect of infinite wisdom!) is eminently proportionate to the evil, the remedy to the disease. Christ was once offered to bear the sins, Matthew 26:28; 1 Peter 2:24; 2 Corinthians 5:21; the guilt and punishment due to them; of many — Even of as many as are born into the world; or the expression, ανενεγκειν αμαρτιας, may be rendered, to carry away sins; in allusion, perhaps, to the scapegoat, which bare all the iniquities of the congregation into a land not inhabited. The meaning, however, if the word be so rendered, will be the same in effect, namely, that Christ was once offered to make atonement for the sins of many. And unto them that look for him — Which all true believers do; see Romans 8:23; 2 Corinthians 5:2; 2 Timothy 4:8; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 3:12. Shall he appear the second time Οφθησεται, he shall be seen, by every eye, Revelation 1:7; there shall be a public sight of him in the heavens, when he comes to raise the dead and judge mankind; without sin — Not bearing men’s sins as formerly, or without any thing that wears the marks of humiliation and abasement, or resembles the form in which he came to make an atonement for sin; unto salvation — To bestow complete happiness of soul and body upon us. Thus Archbishop Tillotson; “What is the meaning of this opposition, that at his first coming he bare our sins, but at his second coming he shall appear without sin unto salvation? These words can have no other imaginable sense but this, that at his first coming he sustained the person of a sinner, and suffered instead of us, but his second coming shall be on another account, and he shall appear, not as a Sacrifice, but as a Judge.” Thus the Jewish high-priest, after entering into the holy of holies in the plain dress of an ordinary priest, in linen garments, making atonement for the people, came out thence arrayed in his magnificent robes to bless the people, who waited for him in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation. To this transaction, as Limborch and many others have supposed, there evidently seems to be an allusion here. And as the trumpet of jubilee, each fiftieth year, sounded at that time to proclaim the commencement of that happy period, there is not, says Doddridge, perhaps, an image that can enter into the mind of man more suitable to express the grand idea which the apostle intended to convey, than this would be to a Jew, who well knew the grand solemnity to which it referred. “But there will be this difference between the return of Christ to bless his people, and the return of the high-priest to bless the congregation. The latter, after coming out of the most holy place, made a new atonement in his pontifical robes for himself and for the people, Leviticus 16:24; which showed that the former atonement was not real, but only typical. Whereas Jesus, after having made atonement, with his own blood, will not return to the earth for the purpose of making himself a sacrifice a second time; but having procured an eternal redemption for his people by the sacrifice of himself once offered, he will return for the purpose of publicly absolving them, and bestowing on them the great blessing of eternal life, which absolution and reward he, being surrounded with the glory of his Father, Matthew 16:27, will give them in the presence of the assembled universe, both as their king and their priest. And this is the great salvation which Christ himself began to preach, and which was confirmed to the world by them who heard him, Hebrews 2:3.” — Macknight.

9:23-28 It is evident that the sacrifices of Christ are infinitely better than those of the law, which could neither procure pardon for sin, nor impart power against it. Sin would still have been upon us, and have had dominion over us; but Jesus Christ, by one sacrifice, has destroyed the works of the devil, that believers may be made righteous, holy, and happy. As no wisdom, learning, virtue, wealth, or power, can keep one of the human race from death, so nothing can deliver a sinner from being condemned at the day of judgment, except the atoning sacrifice of Christ; nor will one be saved from eternal punishment who despises or neglects this great salvation. The believer knows that his Redeemer liveth, and that he shall see him. Here is the faith and patience of the church, of all sincere believers. Hence is their continual prayer as the fruit and expression of their faith, Even so come, Lord Jesus.And as it is appointed unto men once to die - Or, "since it is appointed unto men to die once only." The object of this is to illustrate the fact that Christ died but once for sin, and that is done by showing that the most important events pertaining to man occur but once. Thus, it is with "death." That does not, and cannot occur many times. It is the great law of our being that people die only once, and hence, the same thing was to be expected to occur in regard to him who made the atonement. It could not be supposed that this great law pertaining to man would be departed from in the case of him who died to make the atonement, and that he would repeatedly undergo the pains of death. The same thing was true in regard to the "judgment." Man is to he judged once, and but once. The decision is to be final, and is not to be repeated. In like manner there was a fitness that the great Redeemer should die "but once," and that his death should, without being repeated, determine the destiny of man. There was a remarkable "oneness" in the great events which most affected people; and neither death, the judgment, nor the atonement could be repeated. In regard to the declaration here that "it is appointed unto men once to die," we may observe:

(1) that death is the result of "appointment;" Genesis 3:19. It is not the effect of chance, or haphazard. It is not a "debt of nature." It is not the condition to which man was subject by the laws of his creation. It is not to be accounted for by the mere principles of physiology. God could as well have made the heart to play forever as for 50 years. Death is no more the regular result of physical laws than the guillotine and the gallows are. It is in all cases the result of "intelligent appointment," and for "an adequate cause."

(2) that cause, or the reason of that appointment, is sin; notes, Romans 6:23. This is the adequate cause; this explains the whole of it. Holy beings do not die. There is not the slightest proof that an angel in heaven has died, or that any perfectly holy being has ever died except the Lord Jesus. In every death, then, we have a demonstration that the race is guilty; in each case of mortality we have an affecting memento that we are individually transgressors.

(3) death occurs but "once" in this world. It cannot be repeated if we should desire to have it repeated. Whatever truths or facts then pertain to death; whatever lessons it is calculated to convey, pertain to it as an event which is not to occur again. That which is to occur but once in an eternity of existence acquires, from that very fact, if there were no other circumstances, an immense importance. What is to be done but, "once," we should wish to be done well. We should make all proper preparation for it; we should regard it with singular interest. If preparation is to be made for it, we should make all which we expect "ever" to make. A man who is to cross the ocean but "once;" to go away from his home never to return, should make the right kind of preparation. He cannot come back to take what he has forgotten; to arrange what he has neglected; to give counsel which he has failed to do; to ask forgiveness for offences for which he has neglected to seek pardon. And so of death. A man who dies, dies but once. He cannot come back again to make preparation if he has neglected it; to repair the evils which he has caused by a wicked life; or to implore pardon for sins for which he had failed to ask forgiveness. Whatever is "to be done" with reference to death, is to be done "once for all" before he dies.

(4) death occurs to all. "It is appointed unto men" - to the race. It is not an appointment for one, but for all. No one is appointed by name to die; and not an individual is designated as one who shall escape. No exception is made in favour of youth, beauty, or blood; no rank or station is exempt; no merit, no virtue, no patriotism, no talent, can purchase freedom from it. In every other sentence which goes out against people there may be "some" hope of reprieve. Here there is none. We cannot meet an individual who is not "under sentence of death." It is not only the poor wretch in the dungeon doomed to the gallows who is to die, it is the rich man in his palace; the frivolous trifler in the assembly room; the friend that we embrace and love; and she whom we meet in the crowded saloon of fashion with all the graces of accomplishment and adorning. Each one of these is just as much under sentence of death as the poor wretch in the cell, and the execution on any one of them may occur before his. It is too for substantially the same cause, and is as really deserved. It is for "sin" that all are doomed to death, and the "fact" that we must die should be a constant remembrancer of our guilt.

(5) as death is to occur to us but once, there is a cheering interest in the reflection that when it is passed it is passed "forever." The dying pang, the chill, the cold sweat, are not to be repeated. Death is not to approach us often - he is to be allowed to come to us but once. When we have once passed through the dark valley, we shall have the assurance that we shall never tread its gloomy way again. Once, then, let us be willing to die - since we can die "but" once; and let us rejoice in the assurance which the gospel furnishes, that they who die in the Lord leave the world to go where death in any form is unknown.

But after this the judgment - The apostle does not say "how long" after death this will be, nor is it possible for us to know; Acts 1:7; compare Matthew 24:36. We may suppose, however. that there will be two periods in which there will be an act of judgment passed on those who die.

(1) immediately after death when they pass into the eternal world, when their destiny will be made known to them. This seems to be necessarily implied in the supposition that they will continue to live, and to be happy or miserable after death. This act of judgment may not be formal or public, but it will be such as to show them what must be the issues of the final day, and as the result of that interview with God, they will be made happy or miserable until the final doom shall be pronounced.

(2) the more public and formal act of judgment, when the whole world will be assembled at the bar of Christ; Matthew 25. The decision of that day will not change or reverse the former; but the trial will be of such a nature as to bring out all the deeds done on earth, and the sentence which will be pronounced will be in view of the universe, and will fix the everlasting doom. Then the body will have been raised; the affairs of the world will be wound up; the elect will all be gathered in, and the state of retribution will commence, to continue forever. The main thought of the apostle here may be, that after death will commence a state of "retribution" which can never change. Hence, there was a propriety that Christ should die but once. In that future world he would not die to make atonement, for there all will be fixed and final. If people, therefore, neglect to avail themselves of the benefits of the atonement here, the opportunity will be lost forever. In that changeless state which constitutes the eternal judgment no sacrifice will be again offered for sin; there will be no opportunity to embrace that Saviour who was rejected here on earth.

27. as—inasmuch as.

it is appointed—Greek, "it is laid up (as our appointed lot)," Col 1:5. The word "appointed" (so Hebrew "seth" means) in the case of man, answers to "anointed" in the case of Jesus; therefore "the Christ," that is, the anointed, is the title here given designedly. He is the representative man; and there is a strict correspondence between the history of man and that of the Son of man. The two most solemn facts of our being are here connected with the two most gracious truths of our dispensation, our death and judgment answering in parallelism to Christ's first coming to die for us, and His second coming to consummate our salvation.

once—and no more.

after this the judgment—namely, at Christ's appearing, to which, in Heb 9:28, "judgment" in this verse is parallel. Not, "after this comes the heavenly glory." The intermediate state is a state of joyous, or else agonizing and fearful, expectation of "judgment"; after the judgment comes the full and final state of joy, or else woe.

And as it is appointed unto men once to die: the proof of the necessity of Christ’s suffering death but once, is introduced in this verse by the conjunction And. It was according to God’s decreed and published statute of men’s but once dying; for God the Supreme Lord, Governor, and Judge of them, set, constituted, and appointed by an unalterable and irrevocable decree, as Lawgiver, and sentence, as Judge, to all of the sinful human race, the corrupt seed of apostate Adam, their grand representative, whom God threatened with this penalty upon his sinning and transgressing his law, Genesis 2:17; which sentence was denounced upon him, Genesis 3:19; compare Romans 5:12,14 Ro 6:23. This sentence was but

once to be undergone by himself and all his sinful offspring, and by their Surety, and no more; so that the Second Adam needed but once to die by this statute. No man can keep himself from this, it being the general rule of God’s proceeding with all persons. The Supreme Legislator may make what exceptions and provisos to his law he pleaseth. Those that were translated by him, did suffer a change proportionable to death, as Enoch, Hebrews 11:5 Genesis 5:24, and Elijah, 2 Kings 2:11,12; and those that shall be changed at Christ’s coming must undergo the like, as 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Those that were raised from death by Christ, Peter and Paul, &c., God might glorify his name by reiterating it; but whether they did die again, is not certain. This is to be the general settled law and rule of God.

But after this the judgment: in order, after souls by death are separated from their bodies, they come to judgment: and thus every particular one is handed over by death to the bar of God, the great Judge, and so is despatched by his sentence to its particular state and place with its respective people, Romans 14:12. At the great and general assize, the day of judgment, shall the general and universal one take place, Acts 17:31, when all sinners in their entire persons, bodies and souls united, shall be adjudged to their final, unalterable, and eternal state, Romans 14:10 2 Corinthians 5:10 Judges 1:6 Revelation 20:11-15.

And as it is appointed unto men once to die,.... Not a moral, or what is commonly called a spiritual death, nor an eternal one, but a corporeal one; which does not arise from the constitution of nature, but from the sin of man, and God's decree on account of it; by which it is fixed that men shall die, and how long they shall live, and when they shall die; so that they cannot die sooner nor later; all things antecedent to death, which lead on to it, and issue in it, are appointed by God, and so is death itself, with all its circumstances; men's days can neither be lengthened nor shortened, either by Christ himself, or others: and this statute and appointment of God concerns men, not angels, and reaches to all men, wicked and righteous; and though there have been some exceptions, as Enoch and Elijah; and all will not sleep, or die, some will be found alive at Christ's appearing; yet such will undergo a change which is equivalent to death, as Enoch and Elijah have done: and generally speaking men die but once; it is not usual for men to die, and live again, and then die again; there have been some extraordinary instances of this kind, but they are rare; it is the statute law of heaven in common for men to die and that but once; so Cicero (o) the Heathen says, "omnibus definitam esse mortem": Christ died once, he will die no more; and it is the comfort of the saints, that though they die the first death, they shall not be hurt of the second death; and the consideration of this decree should excite to diligence and industry: death is certain to God, but uncertain to us, as to the time, nor should we curiously inquire into it, but patiently wait for it, and quietly submit unto it:

but after this the judgment; the last and general judgment, which will reach to all men, quick and dead, righteous and wicked, and in which Christ will be Judge. There is a particular judgment which is immediately after death; by virtue of which, the souls of men are condemned to their proper state of happiness or woe; and there is an universal judgment, which will be after the resurrection of the dead, and is called eternal judgment, and to come; this is appointed by God, though the time when is unknown to men; yet nothing is more certain, and it will be a righteous one.

(o) Pro Sextio.

And as it is appointed unto men {r} once to die, but after this the judgment:

(r) He speaks of the natural state and condition of man: For though Lazarus and certain others died twice, that was no usual thing, but extraordinary: and as for them that shall be changed, their changing is a kind of death. See Geneva 1Co 15:51

Hebrews 9:27-28. Further (καί) enforcement of the ἅπαξ, Hebrews 9:26, by means of an analogy. As death is appointed to men once for all, they, after having once suffered death, do not need to die again, but after death nothing more follows for them but the judgment; so also Christ has once for all offered up Himself for the cancelling of sin; at His return He will not again have to offer Himself for the cancelling of sin, but He will return once again, only to put the believers in possession of the everlasting salvation.

καθ ̓ ὅσον] inasmuch as [cf. Hebrews 7:20], is not entirely synonymous with καθώς, which one might have expected on account of the following οὕτως, and which Grotius and Braun conjecture to have been the original reading; for, whereas καθώς would express the bare notion of comparison, this contains at the same time an indication of cause. The indication of cause, however, has reference merely to ἅπαξ ἀποθανεῖν, to which then the ἅπαξ προσενεχθείς, Hebrews 9:28, corresponds; but not likewise, as Kurtz maintains,[95] to the addition μετὰ δὲ τοῦτο κρίσις, since to this an element of dissimilarity is opposed at Hebrews 9:28. The sense is: inasmuch as men, regarded generally, have only once to undergo death, so also Christ, since He was herein entirely like unto His brethren, could not die more than once.

ἀπόκειται] is appointed (in the decree of God). Comp. Colossians 1:5; 2 Timothy 4:8. The verb originally of that which has been laid aside, and so lies ready for future use.

ἅπαξ ἀποθανεῖν] to die a single time, or once for all. Comp. Sophocles in Stobaeus, ii. 120: θανεῖν γὰρ οὐκ ἔξεστι τοῖς αὐτοῖσι δίς.

Calvin: Si quis objiciat, bis quosdam esse mortuos, ut Lazarum et similes (comp. Hebrews 11:35), expedita est solutio, apostolum hic de ordinaria hominum conditione disputare: quin etiam ab hoc ordine eximuntur, quos subita commutatio corruptione exuet (comp. Hebrews 11:5).

μετὰ δὲ τοῦτο κρίσις] sc. ἀπόκειται, not ἐστίν or ἔσται. Whether, for the rest, the κρίσις is thought of by the author as ensuing immediately after the death of each individual (Jac. Cappellus, Kurtz, al.), or as a later act coinciding only with the general resurrection of the dead (Bengel, Bleek, Tholuck, Bisping, Delitzsch, Maier, al.), the elastic μετὰ τοῦτο affords us no intimation.

κρίσις] judgment, is to be taken quite generally. Wrongly is it understood by Schulz (and so also Böhme) specially of the judgment unto punishment or unto condemnation, in that he supposes—erroneously, because at variance with the absolute τοῖς ἀνθρώποις—two different classes of men (those to be punished and those to be blessed) to be opposed to each other in Hebrews 9:27-28. [Yet comp. John 5:24.]

[95] According to Kurtz, the resurrection and ascension of Christ is then to be thought of as the result of the κρίσις on Christ’s part. But where is ever in the N. T. the resurrection and ascension of Christ presented from the point of view of a judgment exercised on Him? And how could it be expected of the reader, without further indication, that he should derive so strange a conception from the words of vv. 27, 28?

Hebrews 9:27. καὶ καθʼ ὅσον … “And inasmuch as it is reserved for men once to die and, after this, judgment, so, also, Christ, etc.” To confirm his statement that Christ’s sacrifice was “once for all,” he appeals to the normal conditions of human death. To men generally, τοῖς ἀνθρώποις, it is appointed once to die, men are not permitted to return to earth to compensate for neglect or failure, but immediately succeeding upon death, if not in time, yet in consequence, follows judgment. The results of life are entered upon. So Christ died but once and the results will be apparent in His appearing the second time without sin unto salvation. ἀπόκειται “is reserved” as in Longinus’ De Subl. ix. 7, ἡμῖν δυσδαιμονοῦσιν ἀπόκειται λιμὴν κακῶν ὁ θάνατος, cf. iii. 5; also Dion. Hal. Hebrews 9:8, ὅσα τοῖς κακούργοις ἀπόκειται παθεῖς, and especially 2 Timothy 4:8. What is destined for all men is not simply death, but ἅπαξ ἀποθ. once to die. Cf. the fragment of Sophocles θανεῖν γὰρ οὐκ ἔξεστι τοῖς αὐτοῖσι δίς. μετὰ δὲ τοῦτο κρίσις “after this,” but how long, the author does not say. “Man dies once, and the next thing before him is judgment. So Christ died once and the next thing before Him is the Advent” (Vaughan).

27. as] “Inasmuch as.”

it is appointed] Rather, “it is reserved;” lit., “it is laid up for.”

the judgment] Rather, “a judgment.” By this apparently is not meant “a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness” (Acts 17:31), but a judgment which follows immediately after death.

Hebrews 9:27. Καθʼ ὅσον, inasmuch as) This expression has the force of comparison; and of giving intensity to the Apodosis.—ἀπόκειται, it is appointed, it is reserved) by Divine sanction,—ἅπαξ, once) The once in the following verse is to be referred to this.—ἀποθανεῖν, to die) The verb for the noun; death and its condition.—μετὰ δὲ τοῦτο, and after this) Death and judgment are immediately conjoined, because the intermediate state of man is uniform.[55]—κρίσις, judgment) at the time when Christ shall be seen (appear); and comp. with this the same ver. (28), and also Matthew 7:22, note.

[55] Beng. probably does not mean to deny a difference in the intermediate state of bad and good: see Gnomon on Luke 16:23 : but only that the term ᾅδης is applied to all alike in that state. The definite separation to heaven and hell (Gehenna) is not till after the judgment.—ED.

Verses 27, 28. - And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this judgment: so the Christ also, once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time, without sin, to them that look for him, unto salvation. The Divine ordinance concerning mankind in general has its analogy in the truth concerning Christ, who was made like unto us in all things, and who represents humanity. As human life, with all its works, comes to an end in death, and only judgment fellows, so Christ's death once for all completed his ministerial work, and nothing remains for him to do but to return as Judge in glory - he judicaturus, men judicandi. "To bear the sins of many" is taken from Isaiah 53:12. For similar use of the word ἀναφέρειν, el. Numbers 14:33, LXX.; and especially 1 Peter 2:24, Τὰς ἁμαρτίᾶς ἡμῶν αὐτὸς ἀνήνεγκεν ἐν τῷ σώματι αὑτοῦ ἐπὶ τὸ ξύλον, which expresses the idea of Christ's taking our sins upon himself and bearing them up to the cross, and so removing them. The ideas of bearing and of taking away may thus be both implied. In contrast with this is the χωρίς ἁμαρτίας ("without, or apart from, sin") when he shall appear again. For then he will have been, as he is now, removed from it altogether - from its burden and its surroundings; it is in glory only that he will then appear. And so also "to them that look for him" his appearing will be "unto salvation" only. They, too, will have done with sin. The insertion of the words, "to them that look for him," precludes the conclusion that it will be so to all. The many passages that express the doom of those who shall be set on the left hand, whatever they imply, retain their awful meaning (cf. especially infra, Hebrews 10:27).

Hebrews 9:27That there is no place for a repeated offering of Christ is further shown by reference to the lot of men in general. The very idea is absurd; for men die once, and judgment follows. Christ was man, and Christ died. He will not come to earth to live and die again. Christ died, but judgment did not follow in his case. On the contrary, he became judge of all.

It is appointed (ἀπόκειται)

Lit. is laid by in store. Comp. Luke 19:20; Colossians 1:5 (see note); 2 Timothy 4:8.

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