Made Perfect Forever
“The word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever” (Heb. 7:28).- Hebrews 7:27–28
Over and over again, the author of Hebrews tells his audience that it would be foolish for them to return to the old covenant. This is largely due to the nature of the old covenant priesthood. The old covenant priesthood was never able to perfect anyone (Heb. 7:1). Consequently, a better hope is introduced through Christ, the High Priest from the order of Melchizedek confirmed by the very oath of God (vv. 19–22). Jesus offers a better hope because He lives forever (vv. 23–24) and is able to save us to the “uttermost” (v. 25). For He is a holy, innocent, and unstained High Priest, and He fulfills our need for righteousness (v. 26).
We have already seen how the power of Christ’s “indestructible life” (v. 16) makes Him a greater priest than any under the old covenant. But this is not all that ensures His greater office. What was only implicit in the opening section of this chapter is now made explicit in its concluding verses. The Levitical priests had to offer sacrifices on a daily basis for themselves and for the people of Israel. This is not so with Christ who offered up Himself once-for-all (v. 27).
At first glance this verse seems problematic because the Law did not require the priest to offer a daily sacrifice for both his sin and the sins of others. However, at the time Hebrews was written, the Jews had come to view the daily cereal offerings as atonement for sin, and this is what our author is probably addressing. Also, in these verses, the author of Hebrews is beginning to move from describing how Christ supersedes the general requirements of the Levitical priesthood to how Christ fulfills and supersedes the particulars of the entire old covenant sacrificial system. This system was symbolized most prominently by the annual Day of Atonement, which pointed forward to the ultimate atonement for sin. Just as Christ supersedes the Levitical priesthood, so too does He supersede the sacrificial system. Unlike the repeated sacrifices on the Day of Atonement that covered only a year’s worth of sins, His perfect sacrifice was done once and is for all time.
Not only did Christ not have to offer sacrifices daily, He also never had to offer sacrifices for Himself. The Levitical priests had to sacrifice for themselves because they were weakened by their sin. The Law made them priests in their weakness, but the oath that came later replaced them with Jesus, the High Priest who is made perfect forever (v. 28).
The Protestant Reformers rightly called the Roman Catholic Mass an abomination because in it Christ is sacrificed again. But, as we have seen, the apostolic witness is that Christ died once-for-all. There is nothing left to be done. The full penalty for all your sins has been paid. Rejoice that Christ has made full satisfaction for your sin.
Passages for Further Study
1 John 4:10