Written by Vladimir Moss



     Contemporary Orthodox modernists who follow the teaching of the heretic Fr. John Romanides like to attack the central dogma of the Christian faith, the dogma of our redemption through the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, on the grounds that all talk of “sacrifice” and “satisfying the justice of God” is Roman Catholic. Very many passages from Holy Scripture and the Holy Fathers refute this modernist idea. One of the clearest is the following from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, which is quoted here together with the commentary on it by St. Theophan the Recluse:-

9.22-23. According to the law, almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things with better sacrifices than these.

In general, he says in the Old Testament almost all cleansings according to the law required sacrifices. Consequently, by the shedding of blood, which was a necessary condition for the forgiveness of acts committed. And so, the forefigures of the heavenly tabernacle had to be cleansed by the blood of animals, while in the heavenly tabernacle – that is, the Church of Christ – people have to be cleansed through better sacrifices than these. By which sacrifices? By the Blood of the Intercessor of the New Testament, Jesus Christ.

9.24-25. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. Not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters holy of holies every year with the blood of another.

The hierarchs of the Old Testament entered the holy of holies made with hand, which was a forefigure of the true, heavenly holy place, but Christ entered the Heaven itself, so as to intercede for us ‘in the presence of God’. He entered with His own Blood, by which He propitiated God the Father and reconciled us with Him, and also with the angels, for they also were hostile to us as enemies of the Lord. But He did not ascend into Heaven so as to enter a second time, offering Himself, as the high priests used to do it, entering the holy of holies every year (on the day of atonement) with the blood of another – that is, of animals. The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, as completely satisfying the justice of God, has no need to be repeated, as the death of man takes place only once.

9.26. Otherwise He would have had to suffer often since the beginning of the world. But now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared in order to put away sin by the Sacrifice of Himself.

If Jesus Christ had been an ordinary high priest, entering the holy of holies with His own sacrifice, then He, as the eternal High Priest, would have had to suffer and die constantly ‘since the beginning of the world’ – since the fall of the first parents, which is impossible for a man. Therefore He suffered and died once to annihilate the sin of men, that is, in order to ‘overthrow and weaken the sin precisely of those who, having committed it, were forgiven without punishment, while the strength of sin consists in drawing down punishment on the sinner’ (Theophylact). “He died once for all men. But do not people continue to die up to now? They die, but they do not remain in death. The power of death and true death is when he who has died has no possibility of returning to life, and moreover a better life, that is, a falling asleep” (St. Chrysostom). But why did He offer Himself as a Sacrifice for the sins of men ‘at the end of the ages’, and not immediately after the fall of the first parents? Because at the beginning sin was not so widespread and evident to the consciousness as it became at the end of the ages (Romans 5.20); therefore the first men would not have believed in Him and His Sacrifice would have turned out to be useless. But He did not have to die a second time (St. Chrysostom).

9.27-28. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgement, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, not for cleansing from sin, but for salvation. 

For it has been determined by God that man should die once. Therefore Jesus Christ, as a true man, died ‘once’, offering Himself as a Sacrifice, ‘to bear the sins of many’ – He took away the sins from mane and brought them in His own Person to God, so that He should forgive them for the sake of His Sacrifice. But why then did he speak, not of all, but ‘of many’? Because not all have believed. His death corresponded to the destruction of all, and, insofar as it depended on Him, He died for all. But He did not raise the sins of all because they themselves did not want it (St. Chrysostom). Then after death ‘judgement’ is decreed for man.  In the same way Jesus Christ will appear a second time on earth, ‘not for cleansing from sin’ by His death, as it was at His first appearance on earth, but ‘for judgement, for the salvation of those who wait for Him’ – that is, for the gift of the promised blessedness to those who believe in Him and wait for His Coming to judgement. St. Paul is silent about His punishment of sinner at the judgement, but it will take place without fail.

10.1-2. For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshippers, once purified, would have had not more consciousness of sins.

That the Old Testament sacrifices of the law had no independent significance in themselves, and served only as a shadow of good things to come – that is, the Sacrifice to come, which gives to men the promised good things of redemption – the forgiveness of sins and the pacification of the conscience – is evident from the fact that the people offered a multitude of the sacrifices indicated in the law every year, and the high priest entered with the blood of these sacrifices every year into the Holy of Holies for the purification of the people. Therefore the sacrifices themselves did not have in themselves the powerto make perfect and sinless those for whom they were offered, because if they had cleansed the conscience from evil deeds, then those who had offered one purifying sacrifice would not have needed to offer the same sacrifices another time. But the sacrifices not only did not purify the conscience of the sins committed, but even reminded them more of them.

10.3-4. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could destroy sins.

The Old Testament sacrifices produce nothing except a remembrance of sins, that is, a rebuke. They do not provide the forgiveness of sin, but to those who always offer them they demonstrate that the sins of the people remain unremitted. For every year, it is said, the blood of bulls is offered for the people, by which it is indicated that the sins were the same, just as one and the same medicine, if it is always used, shows that one and the same illness if tormenting the sick person (Theophylact). Moreover, it goes without saying that the blood of goats and bulls cannot ‘destroy’ the sins committed – that is, remove them from the consciousness and conscience. This inadequacy of the sacrifices to pacify the conscience was known (and portrayed) by the best people of the Old Testament – the prophets. In addition, they forefigured a better life  that was pleasing to God and able to pacify the conscience. Thus in Psalm 39 (vv. 7-9) the Prophet David represented the inadequacy of the Old Testament sacrifices and the fittingness of submitting one’s own will to the will of the Lord, which fulfillment was accomplished completely only by Jesus Christ.

10.5-7. Therefore when He came into the world He said: ‘Sacrifice and offering Thou hast not desired, but a body has Thou perfected for me. Whole-burnt offering and oblations for sin hast Thou not demanded. Then I said: Behold, I am come (in the heading of the book it is written concerning me) to do Thy will, O my God.

Since fallen man was not able to submit his will to the will of God, and, besides, the sacrifices of animals did not reconcile him with God, Jesus Christ, entering the world in the flesh, says through the lips of David: Thou, O Lord, was not pleased by the sacrifices and offerings of the law for the sins of men. Therefore Thou hast decreed that My body should become an all-perfect Sacrifice (Theophylact). Thou wast not pleased by all the sacrifices of the law, so I, as it is written ‘in the heading’ of the book of Genesis (Genesis 3.16) concerning Me, that ‘the seed of the woman shall crush the head of the serpent’, I am ready to carry out Thy will and completely submit My will to Thine, and by My Blood save the men who have been condemned to death for their disobedience (John 4.4, 6.38). From the prophecy of David St. Paul draws the following conclusion:  

10.8-9. Previously saying, ‘Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings and offerings for sin, Thou hast not desired, nor had pleasure in them’ (which are offered according to the law), then He said, ‘Behold, I am come to do Thy will, O God’. He takes away the first, that He may establish the second.

The sacrifices of the Old Testament were also established in accordance with the will of God, but not as having in themselves the power to cleanse sins, but only as forefigures of the future, true and perfect Sacrifice. But when the Hebrew people began to attribute to the sacrifices themselves a redemptive significance, then God through the Prophet David declared that He did not want these sacrifices, they were not pleasing to Him, and contradicted His will, He then revealed that the Coming One (Jesus Christ) is the true redemptive Sacrifice, that fulfills His will. From this it clearly follows that God removes the first, that is, the sacrifices of the law, and establishes the second, that is, the will of the Father – the offering on the cross of the body of Christ. It is by this Sacrifice that Christians are sanctified 

10.10.  By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all 

In accordance with the will of the Father, we, the Christians, have been sanctified, our sins have been forgiven, and we have become sinless – saints. By what have we been sanctified? By the death on the cross, as the one-time Sacrifice offered for us to God the Father by Jesus Christ in the body. That is why the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, although offered once for us to God the Father, but united with complete devotion to His will, was more pleasing to God than a multitude of priestly sacrifices and exalted Him Who had offered it and sanctified those for whom it was offered.

10.11-14. And every priest standeth ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, since He had offered one Sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever  those who are being sanctified.

Although the Old Testament priests stand every day around the altar and offer the sacrifices established by the law, they are completely powerless: their sacrifices will never be able to destroy sins and sanctify men. But Jesus Christ offered one Sacrifice for the sins of all men, and God has raised Him higher than all creation, seated Him on the throne next to Himself and given Him Divine power over all things as the God-Man, and submits beneath His feet all His enemies – those who do not believe in Him and the evil spirits, while those who believe in Him He has made perfect and saints forever by the one offering of Himself in sacrifice. The Holy Spirit witnessed to this through the lips of the Prophet Jeremiah:

10.15-17. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us: for after He had said before, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them, then He adds, ‘Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more’.

The Holy Spirit witnesses to this Sacrifice of the New Testament, which completely reconciles us with God and completely regenerates us to a new and spiritual life, revealing the mysteries of the economy of God to men through the lips of the Prophet Jeremiah: behold, he says, the New Testament that the Lord will conclude with men after the days of the Old Testament: He will place His laws in their hearts cleansed from sin and He will write them in their thoughts, so that they will not carry out the will of God because of external pressure, but rationally  - in accordance with their own thoughts and the attraction of their own heart and conscience. And the sins they have committed will be forgiven them by the Lord. They will no longer darken their minds and hearts with impurity. Hence it evidently follows:

10.18. Now where there is remission of sins, there is no longer an offering for sin.

If remission of sins has been given for one Sacrifice, then what need is there after this for a second sacrifice? Thus the Jewish sacrifices are no longer necessary in the New Testament.

‹‹ Back to All Articles
Site Created by The Marvellous Media Company