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Can you please comment on the term "the eternal Spirit" in Hebrews 9.14? What does this mean in the context? Does it refer to the Holy Spirit?

The phrase "the eternal Spirit" is part of a great verse touching the death of Christ. In Hebrews 9.14 the writer presents the highest aspect in the New Testament of the death of Christ. He emphasizes the supreme value and virtue of the sacrifice of Christ. We notice the majestic language used by the writer concerning Christ's sacrifice in contrast to the Jewish ritualistic sacrifices of the old economy: "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God…". The contrast in the passage is obvious. It is the great difference between the accomplishment of the sacrifice of Christ and the offerings presented on Jewish altars. Notice the great teaching here. Christ's sacrifice was pre-eminent in its value, permanent in its character, personal in its achievement, perfect in its offering, and practical in its results. What gems of precious truth!

It is good to see the mention of the Holy Spirit in the light of the whole verse. I take it that the description "the eternal Spirit" refers not to Christ's own spirit, but to the Holy Spirit of God. The Spirit is seen working in the incarnation of Christ (Lk 1.35), the public ministry of Christ (Acts 10.38), and in the resurrection of Christ (Rom 8.11). In this verse we see the Holy Spirit in connection with the death of Christ. It is the only time the Spirit is described in this manner and is, I believe, most suited to the context. It may well be that there is a play on the words, "eternal" and "Spirit". The word "eternal" would be a great contrast to the temporary nature of the offerings on the Day of Atonement. The word "Spirit" would be a great contrast to the ritualistic and legalistic sacrifices of the dispensation of the law.

John J Stubbs

In John 1.14 we read, "we beheld his glory". Was this the glory that was seen on the Mount of Transfiguration, or was it glory manifest in a different way? If so, how and when was this manifest?

The word "glory" is difficult to define; however, it has been described as "the shining forth of all that God is". The present writer believes that when John wrote, "we beheld his glory", he was writing representatively on behalf of himself and his fellow apostles, Peter and James. Although these disciples witnessed the moral glory of the Lord Jesus Christ during the course of His public ministry, John here had in view primarily their experience on the Mount of Transfiguration.

Peter makes mention of the same event. In 2 Peter 1.16-18 we learn that the truth is attested by apostolic eyewitnesses. So Peter writes that they were "eyewitnesses", associating with him James and John; thus there was adequate testimony, for "at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established" (Deut 19.15). Peter earlier speaks of himself as "a witness of the sufferings of Christ" (1 Pet 5.1), but here he says "we…were eyewitnesses of his majesty", a word meaning greatness - it tells of the splendour, the magnificence of Christ's Person. He adds, "when there came such a voice to him from (better, "by") the excellent glory", a Hebraism meaning God Himself. Thus Peter turns from the vision to the voice, from the visible to the audible.

To some, Christ was "Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph" (Jn 1.45), or "the carpenter's son" (Mt 13.55). However, the Father gives His true identity in the statement, "This is my beloved Son", and with this communication came His unreserved commendation, "in whom I am well pleased". "This voice…we heard" - the voice came to Him, but "we heard" it, says Peter, and it "came from heaven".

Isaiah had a glimpse of the Son's pre-incarnate glory in the past (Is 6.1-4), "These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him" (Jn 12.41); the Lord Jesus Himself prayed the Father that "they...whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory" (Jn 17.24); but these three disciples were privileged to behold the outshining of all God's splendour in a Man when they "were with him in the holy mount".

David E West


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