N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 21 (Jesus, the Mercy Seat, Part 2)


N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Rom 3:24-25

(Rom. 3:24-25 NET)  24 But they are justified [declared faithful to God’s covenants with the Jews] freely by his grace through the redemption [freedom from slavery] that is in Christ [King/Messiah] Jesus.  25 God publicly displayed him at his death as the mercy seat [place of forgiveness in the Holy of Holies, God’s throne on earth] accessible through faith [faithfulness/trust]. This was to demonstrate his righteousness [faithfulness to the covenant], because God in his forbearance [tolerant patience] had passed over the sins previously committed [by whom?]. 

Wright on “mercy seat”

Obviously, the translations that prefer “propitiation” to “mercy seat” have their reasons. And in terms of atonement theory — that is, how Jesus’ death brings about our salvation — the difference is huge. “Propitiation” means to offer something to a divinity to avoid his anger: “If you’ll forgive me, I’ll give you this goat.” Among the pagans, even repentance was not required. Just payment. The Greco-Roman concept was that the gods require and are sustained by sacrifice, and so a sacrifice effectively buys goodwill. The Greco-Roman gods were not moral beings and cared nothing about having a personal relationship with their worshipers. But they demanded sacrifice and loyalty because they needed these things. Think of the gods as the Godfather — I’ll do you this favor, but you’ll owe me big time. But the God of Israel acts unilaterally, out of love, for the good of the person loved. There is no comparison.

Now, if you were raised in a church that teaches that the sacrifice of Jesus satisfies God’s demand for blood as a condition to forgiveness, “propitiation” seems a perfectly obvious and natural translation. But in the other 29 uses of the word in the LXX and NT, it’s always translated “mercy seat” — which should be enough to put us on notice that just maybe we’ve missed something important.

Therefore, understandably, Wright wishes to avoid a Romans Road understanding of the One True God.

[T]he usual reading assumes that the problem Paul is facing [in Romans] is divine wrath and that in 3: 24– 26, and in particular with the key term hilastērion, he is explaining how this wrath is somehow dealt with. This is lexically possible, but there are four problems with it.

First, … the word in context is far more likely to refer to the “mercy seat,” the place in the tabernacle or Temple where God promises, as the focus of his covenant, to meet with his people and to that end provides cleansing for both the people and the sanctuary so that the meeting can take place. 

Second, it is simply a mistake to assume, as the “usual” reading has done, that a reference to the Bible’s sacrificial system indicates that a sacrificial animal is being killed in the place of the worshipper. [See our earlier discussion of the Levitical sacrificial system.]

Third, when Paul sums up the effect of the present passage in 5:9, he says that if we have been “justified by his blood,” we shall be saved from the future wrath. He cannot therefore intend the phrase “justified by his blood”— the summary of 3: 24– 26— to mean “being saved from wrath,” or 5: 9 would be a tautology (“being saved from wrath, we shall be saved from wrath”).

Fourth, at the heart of this passage Paul says that God has passed over former sins in his forbearance. This is the very opposite of “punishment.” It could be of course (and many have suggested this) that God had previously “passed over” sins in order to save up the punishment until it could be vented on Jesus. But there is no indication that this is what Paul has in mind. [Hence, Wright rejects the “rolling forward” of sins theory that is so commonly taught. There is no such text in Hebrews or the rest of the Bible.]

Wright, N. T.. The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion (Kindle Locations 4850-4861). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Paul is not saying, “God will justify sinners by faith so that they can go to heaven, and Abraham is an advance example of this.” He is saying, “God covenanted with Abraham to give him a worldwide family of forgiven sinners turned faithful worshippers, and the death of Jesus is the means by which this happens.” This joins up with the clear implication of 2: 17– 20: God called Israel to be the light of the world, the answer to the problem of human idolatry and sin.

The usual [Romans Road] reading of Romans 3: 21– 26 is therefore outflanked. It is a shallow reduction of what Paul is actually saying. Sin and God’s dealing with sin in the death of Jesus are undoubtedly central, but these are set within the larger questions of both idolatry (and therefore of true worship) and God’s commitment to rescue the world through Abraham’s family, Israel. Neither Romans 1: 18– 3: 20 nor Romans 4 is simply concerned with “sin” and “justification,” as in the normal reading. They are indeed concerned with both, but they frame both within the question of cult [Temple ritual] and the question of covenant. If there are signs that Romans 3: 21– 26 is also about cult and covenant, we should assume that this is what Paul thinks he is talking about.

We can come even closer. Romans 3: 27– 31, the bridge between our key passage and chapter 4, is all about the coming together of Jew and Gentile, circumcised and uncircumcised, on the basis of pistis, “faith”— which looks like an additional fulfillment of the hints Paul dropped in 2: 25– 29. And the heart of Romans 3: 27– 31 is the firm declaration that the God in whom both Jew and Gentile must believe is the One God of Israel: Jewish-style monotheism is at the heart of the justification by which Gentile and Jew alike are declared to be within the sin-forgiven family. The whole passage, from 2: 17 to 4: 25, is all about God’s covenant with Israel and through Israel for the world and about the true worship at the heart of this covenant, the worship of the one true God, which replaces the idolatry of 1: 18– 23 and thus undoes the sin of 1: 24– 32.

Wright, N. T.. The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion (Kindle Locations 5044-5060). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. (Italics in original).

Likewise, when we note that the central statement of the passage, that God “put forth Jesus as the place of mercy,” uses the word hilastērion, which in the scriptures refers to the covering of the “ark of the covenant,” the place where God cleanses Israel from sins so that he and his people can meet, we ought to assume that he is speaking of the way in which true worship is being restored in place of idolatry. Paul is not simply invoking a “cultic metaphor” [mercy seat] alongside a “law court” metaphor [“justified”], on the one hand, and a “slave market” metaphor [“redemption”], on the other. He is thinking of the restoration of true cult, true worship: the one God cleansing people from defilement so that the true meeting, the heart of the covenant, may take place at last.

Wright, N. T.. The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion (Kindle Locations 5070-5075). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Jay’s reflections

[JFG] In the ancient world, blood cleansed people so that they could approach the presence of God. Just so, there is the thought that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross cleansed those with faith in/faithfulness to/trust in Jesus to allow them to approach God — and to allow God to come dwell within them through the Spirit.

[JFG] Jesus said in John 7:37-39 that the Spirit had not yet been sent because Jesus had not yet been glorified. If the crucifixion served to remove the separation between believers and God, then this makes just all kinds of sense — at least to the minds of Second Temple period Jews.

(Jn. 7:37-39 NET) 37 On the last day of the feast, the greatest day, Jesus stood up and shouted out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and  38 let the one who believes in me drink. Just as the scripture says, ‘From within him will flow rivers of living water.'”  39 (Now he said this about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were going to receive, for the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.) 

[JFG] Or to look at it another way, the sins of Israel had stained not only the literal Holy of Holies, but God himself. After all, God had covenanted to fulfill Abraham’s side of the covenant in the blood oath ritual. And God no longer dwelled in the Holy of Holies — since the time of Exile began. Rather, God lived in  heaven and not where heaven and earth meet in the Temple — not any more. And so the sins of Israel stained heaven — the location of the true Temple, the New Jerusalem, and the actual throne of God.

[JFG] To cleanse the stain of Israel’s Sin required blood, and so God the Son provided the price (the ransom, meaning “price”) for restoring right relationship and allowing Exile to end, forgiveness of sins to be once again provided, and to end the curses of the Law.

[JFG] But as Paul finally gets to in Rom 8, it’s not just the covenant curses that are ended. Jesus’ death ends all barriers between God and man, even the original curse on Creation going back to Gen 3. And this opens the covenant to Gentiles, who are freed from all curses and stains that separate them from God just as are the Jews. They now also have the opportunity to repent and gain forgiveness of sins in the Kingdom.

(Acts 17:30-31 ESV)  30 “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,  31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness [according to his covenants] by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” 

[JFG] That my theory, any way. And it reconciles Paul with Hebrews, in which Jesus is pictured as bringing his blood into heaven at the heavenly Temple that exists in the New Jerusalem.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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47 Responses to N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 21 (Jesus, the Mercy Seat, Part 2)

  1. Larry Cheek says:

    Within these brackets I conclude that, you are telling what Mr Wright rejects, the “rolling forward” of sins. But, is it his concept that there is, “no such text in Hebrews or the rest of the Bible”, or yours?
    [Hence, Wright rejects the “rolling forward” of sins theory that is so commonly taught. There is no such text in Hebrews or the rest of the Bible.]
    I believe that Heb chapters 9 & 10 and many others totally supports the concept that Mr Wright rejects. There are so many messages in scripture OT and NT that display the concept of Christ bearing our sins on the cross and that without the shedding of blood there cannot be forgiveness of sins that I thought it to be beyond the necessity to identify all of the locations.

  2. Larry Cheek says:

    Mr. Wright seems to in opposition to many offering a different rendering of this passage.
    Notice the NT section of this following message.

    Do I get the impression that some think that God does not have “wrath” to place upon those who do not obey him? As I perform a word search on the word “wrath” in NT it seem obvious that most all occurrences depict it as God’s wrath, and is being directed by God to the disobedient. Correct me if it is not true.

  3. Dwight says:

    I too have often wondered about the concept of “rolling forward”, I mean where is that term used, how is it “rolled” forward?
    “Fourth, at the heart of this passage Paul says that God has passed over former sins in his forbearance. This is the very opposite of “punishment.” It could be of course (and many have suggested this) that God had previously “passed over” sins in order to save up the punishment until it could be vented on Jesus. But there is no indication that this is what Paul has in mind. [Hence, Wright rejects the “rolling forward” of sins theory that is so commonly taught. There is no such text in Hebrews or the rest of the Bible.]”

    N.T. Wright’s suggestion makes sense to me.
    After all in Egypt we often think they killed the lambs so that they could place blood on the doorsteps, which is true, but this was called a sacrifice and this sacrifice was to be repeated in the Passover. The shedding of the blood allowed the angel of death to Passover and spare the Israelites.
    So it makes sense that the Jews were required to make offerings/sacrifices in order to have the judgment that should have been placed on them hidden from God. They didn’t roll the sins forward, but appeased the judgment of God’s wrath….temporarily. After all they had to do it every year.
    In reality it wasn’t the sacrifices that were looked at, but the faith of the sacrificers that were in sight. The perfection of Jesus sacrifice delivered those who were faithful to God.

    Thus the NT covenant over the OT covenant is like formatting Windows 10 on top Windows 7. Widows 10 didn’t erase Windows 7, but greatly supplemented it and advanced it to the point that Windows 7 cannot be gone back to. But Windows 10 also takes into account all of the programs of Windows 7 and their worth. Going back to Windows 7 undoes all of the work that went into Windows 10 by the creator.
    I know if you have Win 10 and loved Win 7 this might be a bad analogy, but then again many of the Jews thought that the better system of Christ was not as good as their system, but this wasn’t God’s plan. God made the Law of Christ to be easier for the people to attain and to sustain. The blood of Christ was vastly superior to the blood on an animal.

    While the sprinkling of blood might have cleansed the people, the people also had to be clean before they approached God, through the cleansing process of washing, so were they cleansed twice or did the sprinkling of blood cover them so as to hide their sins?

    This is just a thought.
    In I John 1:7-9 we read “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
    We are told the blood of Christ cleanses us from sin, but then we are told that we sin, but then we are told to ask for forgiveness, so it appears that the blood is in the forgiveness of sins when we apply it to the sins we have and do. The concept of walking in the light isn’t sinlessness here, but recognizing our sins and seeking God’s mercy. The concept of forgiveness is of the one who forgives or forsakes or sends the sin away or bears with. We could even apply the term “overlook here so at to not see it”. When we sin it just doesn’t disappear, but we must appeal to God to disregard it. And when God disregards it, then it is no longer there.

  4. Dwight says:

    Another question and thought:
    When David and others in the OT asked for forgiveness were they forgiven or were they just put off by God?
    Our reading of Hebrews seems to indicate that they were not really forgiven, but that it was put into an account to where they were forgiven when Jesus came.
    But did they really understand this to be the case? Did they understand that God wasn’t going to forgive them then and could they take comfort in this? David sinned and implored God’s mercy and grace, did God not immediately give it to Him or was this delayed and did David understand that it would be delayed?
    But then maybe would should ask, was the sin offerings for the forgiveness of sin or because they sinned or in response to sin, making them remember that they sinned?
    There is a difference.
    But then again we read in Lev.4:26 “And he shall burn all its fat on the altar, like the fat of the sacrifice of the peace offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.”
    So perhaps the sin offering was tied to a sin and not sinfulness in general.
    Growing up I have always heard about the concept of Jewish guilt, in that guilt was kind of a constant pressure on the Jew. Guilt is due to the presence of sin. So even despite the sacrifices, guilt was there. It appears that Jesus death was to clear not only sin, but the guilt of sin and once you clear guilt, you have truly cleared the stain of sin.
    Perhaps there is difference between the sin and the stain of sin. You might can be cleansed of sin, while the stain or reminder remains and thus the guilt of it, thus it is not all gone until something more powerful than an animal sacrifice appears.
    When we ask for forgiveness we often ask for forgiveness of one sin, but the fact is we sin beyond that so the forgiveness we need to ask for is for our sinfulness, our weakness. Although David prayed to God for certain infractions, he also made it clear that it was his sinfulness that was in question, not just his sinful action. Ironically his pleadings was to God, despite the fact that he would have also been engaged with the sin sacrifices. He knew the sacrifices could not clear his guilt without God being a part of it.
    These are ponderings mind you as I am still thinking these things out.

  5. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:


    Wright most certainly teaches the wrath of God. The question is whether the best understanding of atonement is that Jesus himself took upon himself the wrath of God, so that he suffered the punishment that we deserve. More especially, how do we avoid seeing Jesus and God appearing to be at cross purposes if God’s desire is to vent his wrath against human sinners and Jesus takes on that punishment for us? Does that mean that God is vengeful whereas Jesus is sacrificial? And in what sense of “just” is it just for Jesus to bear our punishments for us? The Reformation argument is that God’s justice must be satisfied and it was satisfied by dumping our punishment on Jesus. But that would be the very definition of injustice — punishing the innocent for the sins of the guilty. So our atonement theory doesn’t quite work.

    Obviously enough, there is much about it that is right. I mean, Isaiah wrote,

    (Isa. 53:6-8 ESV) 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned– every one– to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?

    So it’s not a question of whether God has wrath or Jesus suffered for the sins of the people. Rather, it’s an effort to understand this better. And to help us understand the atonement better, Wright exegetes much of Romans. I feel compelled to test his theories of exegesis. And the way I do that is I see whether his explanations work when we consider the full context. Hence, I’m trying to exegete chapters of Romans to see how well Wright’s theories fit.

    Frankly, most people would have trouble reading Wright’s book because he assumes the reader has a very intimate knowledge of Romans. I struggle because he covers so much and yet leaves so much out. Hence, you get my mongrel commentary — to see if Wright’s explanations really fit. And so far, they do very nicely and much better than the traditional Reformation explanations.

    Now, the Reformation could have reached sound conclusions despite bad exegesis. We may not read the text very well and yet intuitive know what Paul is saying to our day and our age. It happens. But the right and disciplined approach is to go back to First Century questions and answers — and to THEN apply to today’s questions — which Paul is not obligated to answer but just might.

  6. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:


    I don’t see what you see in chapters 9 and 10. I don’t think Wright does either. How about pointing out exactly where you find the “rolling forward” concept?

    (Heb. 9:22 ESV) 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

    Notice the modifier “under the law,” meaning “under the Torah.” We sometimes read this as saying there was no forgiveness without the shedding of blood EVER. But the contrast is Torah vs. gospel. And under the Torah, blood sacrifice was part of the atonement process.

    But is the author saying that this is a law binding on God for all time? It seems unlikely. God has forgiven many people, many times, without blood sacrifice. I mean, if Moses and Elijah weren’t forgiven until the cross, then how did they appear in a glorified state with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration? How did Samuel appear to the witch at Endor? How were Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob “living” while not yet forgiven? How were the faithful of Israel gathered to their fathers if they were all unforgiven?

    When Jesus said to someone, “Your sins are forgiven,” did he really mean “Your sins will be forgiven when I’m crucified”? Twice we’re told that John baptized “for (eis) the forgiveness of sin.” Does that mean “looking forward to a future forgiveness”? It’s the same Greek as in Acts 2:38, which was surely speaking of a present forgiveness.

    On the other hand, if we recognize that God exists outside of time as we experience time, that time is a created thing and a part of this universe, and that forgiveness occurs in the heart of God — which is outside of time — then the timing issues go away without the need for a “rolling forward” concept that is never expressly stated.

    PS — The “rolling forward” concept seems to mainly live in the Churches of Christ. I googled the term and nearly all the hits were Church of Christ websites — most conservative and most critical of the theory for many of the same reasons I question the theory (as does Wright).

  7. Dwight says:

    I personally think the “rolling forward” was created by people from Alabama.
    Yes, in my ponderings I have a hard time with the concept that people did not expect forgiveness at the time they were asking for it and somehow they thought that it wasn’t in their lifetime.
    I have been looking at Acts 2:38 and it occurs to me that we don’t understand it near as well as we should given that we use it all of the time.
    It appears we may be guilty of laying salvation on faith and baptism in the same way the Jews were laying it at the feet of works. We often turn remission to mean saved, as if repentance and baptism save and yet as Jay points out remission doesn’t mean save as an immediate route and even if the word saved was used it still implies a savior to be involved to do the saving.
    But remission of sins carries with it the thought of forgiveness of sins, which means one to forgive, which means that baptism doesn’t do the forgiving, but brings us clean before the forgiver. The Jews surely understood this concept as they were familiar with the concept that one had to be clean before going into the Temple or before approaching God.
    Would you say this sounds right Jay?
    But then again on the other hand we have people like David who asked for forgiveness outside of the Temple and the sacrifice for sins and was surely allotted forgiveness? This was faith in God’s mercy and grace over sacrifice…sounds familiar. David sought and appealed to God through faith and not works, even though he surely did the works as well.

  8. Larry Cheek says:

    It appears that one of my posts on the 9th, three from Dwight, and two of yours missed being recorded in the recent comments. I am preparing a response to show you where the Hebrews identifies this concept for me.

  9. Larry Cheek says:

    I guess they were waiting on me to post something then they all showed up, kinda funny.

  10. Monty says:

    Jay said,

    “And God no longer dwelled in the Holy of Holies — since the time of Exile began. Rather, God lived in  heaven and not where heaven and earth meet in the Temple — not any more. ”

    Jay, are you saying that God did not dwell in the Temple when Jesus purged the money changers?

  11. Dwight says:

    Even Solomon remarked, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!”
    Solomon understood that God didn’t really dwell in the Temple.
    But it appears that the Temple was a place where man could approach God in the Holiest of Holies where the Ark was located. The Ark represented God and His glory and His Holy presence.
    God dwelt in the Temple probably in the sense of us dwelling in a hotel room. We are there, but not mostly, but when we need rest, so God dwelt in the Temple during the times of sacrifice, worship, etc. But is this to be any different than us who are priest and a Temple and are continually supposed to be offering ourselves as a sacrifice?

    Monty, Jesus purged the Temple of money changers because the Temple was dedicated to worship to God, His Father. It is interesting that although Jesus did go to the Temple, He didn’t go to the Temple to access His Father, instead we find Him praying in many places. Even His model prayer begins, “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name…”

  12. Larry Cheek says:

    I have never had an occasion to communicate with anyone who did not understand that the sins during the OT time frame were never forgiven in the time prior to Christ as they are now. While in preparation for presenting this affirmation, I have been contemplating this message.
    “On the other hand, if we recognize that God exists outside of time as we experience time, that time is a created thing and a part of this universe, and that forgiveness occurs in the heart of God — which is outside of time — then the timing issues go away without the need for a “rolling forward” concept that is never expressly stated.” It appears to me to be claiming that all those who had been sacrificing according to the Torah and received forgiveness, that would be the High Priest, and all the servants who had to be cleansed (forgiven), and of course all the individual Israelites who brought the sacrifice to the Levites, all the Prophets, all the Hero’s that we read about who served God would have not been in need of Christ taking away their sins as has been prophesied. Many statements in scripture state that Christ would take away the sins of the world. Would the world in this context mean only those who were not already forgiven?
    Does the Word declare these individuals were already (forgiven) or saved, because they were forgiven and had no sins? Paul said, (1Ti 1:15 ESV) The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
    If any here were not sinners what value would Christ be to them?
    It has been my understanding that Christ was sent to the world, to save the world by taking away the believers sins. Would we attest that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were sinless. Christ was the only human on earth who lived the Torah perfectly, therefore even Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were subject to him. The forgiveness which was given them was not with the same fullness of the forgiveness which he brings to the world. If the forgiveness that they had been given was of the same power, then they would have not been benefited by Christ’s sacrifice.
    (Joh 1:29 ESV) The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
    (Joh 3:17 ESV) For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
    (Joh 12:47 ESV) If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.

    Of course this is not the complete answers that you are expecting, this is to better help me to understand the implications of the concept that you are presenting.

  13. Dwight says:

    Larry, The scriptures are good, but they don’t indicate that the world is any other time than the present in which Jesus lived and then afterwards, in other words 1 Tim.1:15 doesn’t indicate a backwards forgiving of sins. Now it is possible that when the scriptures say, “God so love the world that He gave His only begotten son”, he means the world in the past, present and future, but that isn’t implicit in the message. Now while I am not arguing for the sins being rolled forward as we don’t have that language it is possible that Jesus sacrifice was to cover all sins at all times for all times. This possibly makes more sense in a way.
    But then again what do we make of people like Enoch who was so Godly that God took Him or Elijah who was taken by God or Abraham who was justified by faith and then there were those places like Nineveh that God initially condemned, preached to and then relented and seemingly forgave them of their destruction. One of the universal concepts about God is mercy and grace.
    It seems almost a cruel joke if God did not consider the pleas of the people, like he seems to, at the time of the asking for forgiveness. Now one thing to consider is that forgiveness of sins might not mean salvation, but rather a spot on approach of grace and mercy. And yet there is Enoch and those that showed up on the mountain to talk to Jesus. I guess it is possible that Jesus forgave them as He is God and was in heaven during their lifetime and when they died, which is what he did with the thief on the cross.
    Maybe we just shouldn’t worry about who God forgives and who got it in the past and be more concerned with our forgiveness?

  14. Dwight says:

    Sorry to interrupt this thread, but I ran across an interesting scripture while doing research on church that deals with a past thread which I could not find. Rom.16:4 “who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.”
    And I know I am jumping ahead in Romans as well.
    The notable thing is that while Paul is writing to Romans he makes it clear that he is writing to them in Rome, who are most likely largely Jews, but he also says, “also all the churches of the Gentiles”, which makes it seem as though there were Jewish Christian churches and Gentile Christian churches, meaning that although they were unified in Christ they were not unified culturally. IT might be that the Jews spoke Hebrew and the Gentiles spoke Greek, but Paul doesn’t seem to condemn them for this cultural divide, even while he has condemned others for dividing over names, gifts, etc. You might want to start a different thread for this Jay or I guess we can wait until you get there.

  15. Monty says:


    I guess my point was that if God didn’t in any way inhabit the Temple in Jerusalem then why Jesus’ outburst of anger? It would just have been a spectacular building with only sentimental value. While it is true Jesus didn’t need the Temple, he is essence was one, his human body was inhabited by God, the same is not true for the rest of the Jewish nation. The disciples still worshiped in the Temple after Pentecost as Jay has said many times. Just before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 many signs and wonders took place in or around Jerusalem as written about by the historian Josephus. In one such event the priest who were going up to the temple to minister and this is what happened : “Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the] temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, “Let us remove hence” (Jewish Wars, VI-V-3).

  16. Dwight says:

    Monty, The money changers showed a blatant disrespect for God’s house and thus God Himself. The Jews still came to the Temple to worship God and in God’s house only certain things could be done at certain times, money changing wasn’t one of them. They were not priest doing priestly things. Again it is probably about disrespect and honoring God, not to mention sinful. Considering they had God in their presence in the form of Jesus and Jesus Himself didn’t spend much time in the Temple, it is hard to argue that God lived in the Temple.

  17. Monty says:


    I think we are talking past each other. It’s either God’s house(present tense) or it’s no longer God’s house(used to be). If God no longer resides there, then worship is just going through the motions. I agree that Solomon never felt like God was confined to the temple he built for God, but that’s a far cry from saying that God’s presence was no longer there to any degree whatsoever, which is what I hear you saying, but I don’t (think) that’s what you are saying. If God left the temple at the Exile and never returned at it’s rebuilding under Nehemiah or under Herod I don’t think they understood it that way. A temple by it’s very definition is a house where God dwells.

  18. Alabama John says:

    Monty, same for us today, God dwells between our temples!!!

  19. Dwight says:

    I agree with the concept of Temple, but just because they built a Temple didn’t mean that God came and dwelt in it. Remember the one thing which reflected God’s glory, the Ark of the covenant, was no longer in the Temple. Now the Jews might have seen the Temple as the epitome of worship to God despite God being there. In fact Jesus reflects this in John 4:21 “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. ” so I am not even sure they understood God to be there, but they did connect the Temple with worship to God after all sacrifices and tithings were still done. The Temple was holy to the Jews. Put it this way, there was a temple built to Zeus, but Zeus, not being real, didn’t live there even though they thought he did. Now God did approve of the Temple being built, but still the Ark and the mercy seat was long gone.

  20. Larry Cheek says:

    I am listening, but what you are saying brings on more questions. If it is true that as far as the view of the world as suggested in, “God so love the world that He gave His only begotten son” only applied to those who were alive when Christ came to earth, then none of those who died prior to that time, except possibly the 144,000 spoken of in Revelation and the 24 Elders who we are not able to fully identify, will have access to the NHNE or to Heaven which ever one believes is correct for the future. The promises to Abraham were already fulfilled in accordance to the promised land long before Christ, and the promise to him as being a blessing to all nations is totally fulfilled in Christ. Those identified above from the time prior to Christ are the only people of that time period that are given an identity in the vision in Revelation. All the vast multitude were those who had washed their garments in the blood of the lamb (Christ). There are no references to those who lived righteously who had died prior to Christ who had washed their garments in that blood. It would have been impossible for sinners who were then dead to be washed in that fashion. Those who died who were righteous would not have been sinners who need to be washed by the blood, and of course there is no mentioning of them being added to the Kingdom of Christ. But, if their sins were remembered each year and needed a sacrifice to forgive them again for the next year then those sins would have been still un-forgiven when Christ was on the cross and the message that he would take away the sins of the world by the shedding of his blood would make sense. Christ stated that, Mar 16:15-16 ESV And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. (16) Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
    The Apostles could not preach to them and they could not respond to Christs instructions. Yes, I believe that they had faith in the messages they had received, but can anyone find documentation that these dead individuals were placed into Christ’s Kingdom with us who obeyed the Gospel? This is part of the reason why I believe that Christ in the spirit preached to all the spirits of the dead from the creation of man up to the living, so that every soul who was created or born would have a opportunity to live with Christ and God for eternity. The fact that they had already died should not influence their decision, remember that those of us who are born again are not born again physically, and when born again we do not fear death. Those who are already dead would not fear death either, therefore death could not be used as a scare tactics to avoid the last opportunity to obey. In other words, if their spirits obeyed it would be authentic from belief and faith.
    This would allow the words to be true that Christ is savior of the world (all mankind).

  21. Dwight says:

    I think forgiveness and salvation might be to different things or at least you can be forgiven and not be saved, but you cannot be saved without being forgiven, simply because salvation is an end game realization. If I sin I can ask God for forgiveness for a sin and will expect to be forgiven, but that doesn’t mean that I am saved, as I will sin again and sometimes will sin without knowing it. And even asking for forgiveness doesn’t mean I will be forgiven if I ask in a demanding way and especially if I ask and don’t forgive others.
    “Christ Kingdom”, no, but at least Enoch and Elijah were received up to heaven without dying and presumably Abraham as well. Christ Kingdom was because God gave the keys over to His son and it didn’t mean that a kingdom didn’t exist before that. We enter into Christ Kingdom, because He is King. But we are also told that Jesus will turn the Kingdom back to His father, in which case it will be His kingdom again. The differences between the Kingdom before and the Kingdom now is Jesus who is a mediator and a better sacrifice and was like us, etc.

  22. Larry Cheek says:

    Would we assume then that these men from the OT would have had an access to God apart from the mediator, the savior who was promised to the Jews. The Jesus who was part of the creation and who made this statement? (Joh 14:6 ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

  23. Dwight says:

    Larry, we are told in Hebrews/scriptures that Jesus replaced a lot of things..the sacrificial lamb, He is the High Priest, His flesh was torn as a veil, He is Temple and mostly He stands before God between man and God. But up until this point this was the job of the Temple. But having said that we must realize that god often had direct relations with man either personally or through angels or both, God spoke to His prophets and the prophets spoke back. Other wise most had to go through the Temple to reach God or through a prophet.
    In regards to Jesus claim, it is sure, but I can’t argue that this was meant for all those who lived before Jesus, after all He did bring in a New Testament and therefore a New Covenant.
    Again it really doesn’t matter to me if those who were faithful were saved while they lived or when Jesus came, because I live under the Perfect Law of Liberty in Jesus. My hope is built in Jesus. I expect God to be just and merciful as He said He is.
    The point of the scriptures from beginning to end is live by faith and do His will.
    Or “Fear God and keep His commandment”
    But one thing is sure and this is my favorite prayer in Jonah 2
    “When my soul fainted within me,
    I remembered the Lord;
    And my prayer went up to You,
    Into Your holy temple.
    “Those who regard worthless idols
    Forsake their own Mercy.
    But I will sacrifice to You
    With the voice of thanksgiving;
    I will pay what I have vowed.
    Salvation is of the Lord.”
    The Holy Temple surely references heaven and Salvation is of the Lord is timeless.

  24. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:


    I agree that David is an excellent example of someone forgiven 1,000 years before the crucifixion. He was immediately forgiven, according to the prophet Nathan —

    (2 Sam. 12:13-14 ESV) 13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child who is born to you shall die.”

    See also —

    (Ps. 32:1-5 ESV) Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah 5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

    Hence, no rolling forward. But the immediate forgiveness David received may well have been in light of Jesus’ future sacrifice, since God sees the future and exists outside of time. But I see no way to reconcile the plain statements that David was already forgiven with the theory that no forgiveness could occur until Jesus was crucified.

    And there are countless other examples of people being forgiven pre-crucifixion.

  25. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Monty asked,

    Jay, are you saying that God did not dwell in the Temple when Jesus purged the money changers?

    Of course, there’s a sense in which God is omnipresent and so he certainly present in the Temple at that time. But there was no special presence of God in the Holy of Holies after the Babylonian Captivity began. The Ark of the Covenant had been lost when the Jews fled Jerusalem as the Babylonian army marched on Jerusalem. Hence, no mercy seat. And so the Holy of Holies in the Nehemiah’s and Herod’s temple was empty.

    After the Jews rebuilt the Temple, there is no indication that God’s presence ever dwelt there as it had in the Tabernacle or Solomon’s Temple. God’s presence would eventually come to the Second Temple (see below), but in a form which the Jews would fail to recognize (John 1:14).

    Since these verses [Eze. 43:1-7] on the return and restoration of God’s glory to the new Temple are one of the strongest evidences for the eschatological interpretation of chapters Eze. 40:1-Eze. 48:1, it is important to give closer attention to this event. Nowhere in Scripture nor in extrabiblical Jewish literature is it stated that the divine presence filled the Second Temple as it did the Tabernacle (Ex. 40:34-35) and the First Temple (1K. 8:10-11; 2Chr. 5:13-14; 2Chr. 7:13). Rather, Jewish sources made a point of its absence (see Tosefta Yom Tov) and relegated such a hope to the eschatological period known as ‘the period of the restoration of all things’ (Acts 3:21).


    According to the Babylonian Talmud (Yoma 22b),[2] however, the Temple lacked the Shekinah, the dwelling or settling divine presence of God, and the Ruach HaKodesh, the Spirit of Holiness, present in the first.


    So was the Temple the Temple if God did not have a special presence there? Well, yes and no. The Jews remained in Exile, needing forgiveness of sins to be restored to right relationship with God. But they were still God’s people — despite being under a damning curse. Just so, the Temple was rejected by God in the sense that he could not dwell among his chosen people while they remained under the curses of the Law for disobedience. But the Temple was still a place of prayer and worship of God, and where the Levitical sacrifices were made.

    God was forbearing — patiently giving the Jews time to repent before he allowed the Romans to destroy the Temple utterly. Therefore, the Temple was a place built for God’s presence to dwell, and so it was a holy site because of its purpose and the faith of the faithful Jews who worshiped there. But it was symbolic both of the Jews’ commitment to God and the continuing Exile and God’s refusal to return.

    So does that mean God rejected the sacrifices made there? I think so — except for those Jews who were faithful, a remnant, a distinct minority. But as to his relationship with the nation as a whole, the Temple symbolized the alienation of the Jews from God. Why else did John the Baptist urge repentance? Why else would God allow the Romans to overthrow his Temple? The Exile was ongoing and the Jews stood under a curse that separated them from right relationship with God — awaiting forgiveness of sins.

    So why did Jesus “cleanse” the Temple? Two reasons I know of. One is that the Temple remained a place of prayer — and many genuinely penitent, faithful prayers were surely offered there.

    (Isa. 56:6-7 ESV) 6 “And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant– 7 these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

    Ray Vander Laan points out that the “house of prayer” passage also prophesies the inclusion of the Gentiles into the covenant community — and yet the selling and trading evidently took place in the court of the Gentiles — an insult to the Gentile pilgrims who came to Jerusalem to worship God and a barrier to their worship. Who could pray in the middle of stockyard filled with sheep and bulls for sale, together with the haggling over prices and money exchange rates?

    And, of course, Jesus referred to the temple authorities as “robbers” because of their overcharging of pilgrims. The NET Bible translator notes say,

    The meaning of Jesus’ statement about making the temple courts a den of robbers probably operates here at two levels. Not only were the religious leaders robbing the people financially, but because of this they had also robbed them spiritually by stealing from them the opportunity to come to know God genuinely. It is possible that these merchants had recently been moved to this location for convenience.

    There was no sin in selling animals for sacrifice, as a pilgrim from, say, Rome could hardly be expected to bring a lamb on the boat ride with him. Just so, exchanging Roman money for Jewish coinage that did not contain blasphemous words was no sin. The sin was in grossly overcharging for these things and, likely, from doing so in a court set aside for Gentile prayer to God.

  26. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry asked,

    Many statements in scripture state that Christ would take away the sins of the world. Would the world in this context mean only those who were not already forgiven?

    (Jn. 1:29 ESV) 29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

    Is John the Baptist saying that not a single sin had been forgiven up to that point in time? I mean, one reasonable interpretation would be that Jesus’ sacrifice would open up forgiveness to the Gentiles along with the Jews, that he’d transform the Kingdom from almost entirely Jews to the entire world.

    Or it could be that Jesus’ sacrifice would empower forgiveness that had occurred in the Jewish past, going back to Noah and Abel.

    But the passage hardly means that no forgiveness would be possible until the crucifixion. JTB himself baptized “for (into) the remission of sins” (identical to Acts 2:38 in the Greek) (Mark 1:4; Luk 3:3) years before the crucifixion. There is just too much evidence that God forgave sins pre-crucifixion to claim otherwise.

    No one has argued that there were people (other than Jesus) who were not sinners.

    So either the scriptures speak truth when they speak of forgiveness pre-crucifixion or they don’t.

    Well, go back to John 1:29. “Takes away the sins of the world” could mean “changes the world so that Sin no longer in control” as in Rom 5. Or it could mean “will send his Spirit so that people will be obedient,” per Jer 31:31 ff and the “Comforter” passages in John. Or it could refer to the next age when there will be no sin at all. But it doesn’t literally mean that all sin in the world, past, present, and future, are to be forgiven. There will be people who suffer in gehenna. Not everyone will be saved. So Jesus doesn’t take away every sin in the world present much less every sin in the world past.

    I guess the point is that proof texting is dangerous and uncertain. You have to read in the fuller context — and that’s just a whole lot of work.

    In 1:29 Jesus is the one who takes away the sin of ‘the world’. There are a couple of other places in the Fourth Gospel where Jesus’ significance for ‘the world’ is implied. In 3:16–17 God’s love leads him to give his only Son for ‘the world’ so that those who believe might have eternal life, and in 4:42 the Samaritans come to recognize that Jesus really is ‘the Saviour of the world’, not just of the Jewish people.

    Colin G. Kruse, John: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale NTC 4; IVP/Accordance electronic ed. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 81.

    And I’m inclined toward Kruse’s reading. The crucifixion accomplished many things. One of those is opening the gospel to the Gentiles — and this is likely JTB’s primary reference. The “world” means that the crucifixion will complete God’s promise to bless all nations through Abraham by means of Jesus’ crucifixion. But John is notoriously filled with double and triple meanings — and so I wouldn’t insist on any interpretation as uniquely correct.

    But stick with the context —

    (Jn. 1:9-13 NET) 9 The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was created by him, but the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to what was his own, but his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who have received him– those who believe in his name– he has given the right to become God’s children 13 – children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God.

    Notice that John says the Jews did not recognize Jesus but he gave to right to become a child of God to “those who believe in his name,” that is, not just the Jews. He “gives light to everyone.” So the idea of the gospel being extended beyond the Jews is very present in John 1.

    Does that mean that Abraham wasn’t forgiven by the power of the crucifixion? No. It just means that John 1:29 doesn’t say that. It speaks to a different question. I see nothing in John 1 that speaks of how atonement occurred under the Law.

    On the other hand, I do think that the “once for all” passages in Paul and in Heb speak to the retroactive forgiveness empowered by the crucifixion.

    (Rom. 6:10 NET) For the death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God.

    (Heb. 7:27 NET) He has no need to do every day what those priests do, to offer sacrifices first for their own sins and then for the sins of the people, since he did this in offering himself once for all.

    (Heb. 9:12 NET) and he entered once for all into the most holy place not by the blood of goats and calves but by his own blood, and so he himself secured eternal redemption.

    (Heb. 9:26 NET) for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the consummation of the ages to put away sin by his sacrifice.

    (Heb. 10:2 NET) For otherwise would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers would have been purified once for all and so have no further consciousness of sin?

    (Heb. 10:10 NET) By his will we have been made holy through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

    But none of these passages speak of a rolling forward. Rather, a singular event in human history empowered forgiveness backwards and forwards in time. Note esp. —

    (Heb. 10:8-14 NET) 8 When he says above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sin-offerings you did not desire nor did you take delight in them” (which are offered according to the law), 9 then he says, “Here I am: I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first to establish the second. 10 By his will we have been made holy through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands day after day serving and offering the same sacrifices again and again – sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 where he is now waiting until his enemies are made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy.

    So if we disagree, it would seem that you are arguing the sins of the world piled up until the crucifixion, when God could then and only then forgive them — despite countless statements to the effect that people had already been forgiven. They weren’t forgiven thanks to the blood of bulls and goats, and so they required the sacrifice of Jesus, but time is a barrier that God cannot overcome.

    That doesn’t work for me. Rather, it seems to me that the Hebrews author is saying that the power of the cross reaches backwards through time to empower prior forgivenesses. I cover this in my book The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace, which is free download at the top of the page.

  27. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:


    Thanks. I agree. Except I can’t help but want to understand salvation history because it enlightens our present salvation — and more importantly, tells us about the nature of God. But it’s not a major theme of the NT and hardly the sort of thing that should divide us.

  28. Alabama John says:

    REV. 5:9-10
    by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.

  29. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Dwight asked about Rom 16:4 —

    (Rom. 16:3-5 NET) 3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their own necks for my life. Not only I, but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. 5 Also greet the church in their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.

    “All the churches of the Gentiles” is not a reference to churches in Rome. Paul had never been to Rome (yet). This is surely a reference to mission churches that Paul had planted or visited in his journeys.

    “The church in their house” is more interesting. The literal Greek is “and the according to house their church greeting.” So much for trying to translate literally! “According to” is kat’ in the Greek and not translated in most English versions. The argument made is that “according to” means something like “the part of the church assigned” to their house.

    The use of the kat or kata preposition is discussed in some detail at http://oneinjesus.info/2015/12/church-2-0-part-10-4-ekklesia-in-the-nt-part-4-autonomy-part-1/ and materials linked there. More recently, see Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church, at 312 ff and footnotes therein. https://books.google.com/books?id=_XGrI1wO9asC&pg=PA312&lpg=PA312&dq=Bruce+Button+and+Fika+Van+Rensburg&source=bl&ots=IBtJHs0kWD&sig=UKbh9747vhlrOHcAD5HW0uRECzc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjMza3DzsTRAhUKPiYKHZz_CwwQ6AEIJDAD#v=onepage&q=Bruce%20Button%20and%20Fika%20Van%20Rensburg&f=false

    Available through Amazon at http://amzn.to/2jMKl5p

  30. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:


    I may refuse to live in my house because it’s too filthy from smoke damage or because I don’t think the walls will support the roof. It’s still my house, and I’ll still take offense if squatters move in and begin feloniously defrauding others out of my own house.

  31. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:


    Thanks. I wish I’d thought of that verse myself.

  32. Dwight says:

    Jay, “All the churches of the Gentiles” my point wasn’t that this argued for these churches in Rome, but rather that Paul makes a statement that implies there were churches of Jews and churches of Gentiles and yet they were still all on in Christ. It shows that some divisions do not equal a division in unity of belief. Or just because they are over there and we are over here we can still be in Christ as long as we don’t divide ourselves from one another in an ungodly way based on pride, hate, etc. This should make us realize that God’s kingdom is bigger than we can see and bigger than that which is right in front of us and not with us.

  33. Alabama John says:

    having been around folks in prison and those that are Native Americans that question always comes up about those ignorant of the law now and in the past being given the opportunity to be saved as God is love. Both are always concerned for the welfare of their ancestors way back and loved ones they have known and love even if they have passed.
    Another verse that is used many ways is 1 Peter 4:6 where even those already dead and now spirits that died in the wrong worship ways or simply ignorant, were given the opportunity.
    God wishes ALL would be saved and the devil get no one.

  34. Larry Cheek says:

    I really believe that we are saying exactly the same thing but applying different terms. I see no difference between these two phrases. You provided this statement.

    “But none of these passages speak of a rolling forward. Rather, a singular event in human history empowered forgiveness backwards and forwards in time.”
    I am a little concerned with the use of the words (empowered forgiveness), a much more suitable concept would be, (completed forgiveness). The reason being, forgiveness does not contain power, the power is invested in the one offering the forgiveness, in this case Christ.

    A singular event in human history empowered forgiveness backwards and forwards in time. The singular event is Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, the shedding of his blood. Once for all time, refers to never happened before and will never be repeated. This is in opposition to this message in Hebrews.
    Heb 10:1-4 ESV For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. (2) Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? (3) But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. (4) For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

    The fact is well substantiated in scripture that, (it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins). The text says, But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year, each and every year this is only a reminder of something that has not been taken away. Yet, notice the wording of the instructions which were given, it is not just forgiven, it is shall be forgiven. It is a projection into the future and it would be an assumption as to the exact time. There is no directive that it is immediately upon the completed action. This allows that it could be extended until the Cross.

    (Lev 4:20 ESV) Thus shall he do with the bull. As he did with the bull of the sin offering, so shall he do with this. And the priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven.

    (Lev 4:26 ESV) And all its fat he shall burn on the altar, like the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings. So the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin, and he shall be forgiven.

    (Lev 4:31 ESV) And all its fat he shall remove, as the fat is removed from the peace offerings, and the priest shall burn it on the altar for a pleasing aroma to the LORD. And the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven.

    (Lev 4:35 ESV) And all its fat he shall remove as the fat of the lamb is removed from the sacrifice of peace offerings, and the priest shall burn it on the altar, on top of the LORD’s food offerings. And the priest shall make atonement for him for the sin which he has committed, and he shall be forgiven.

    (Lev 5:10 ESV) Then he shall offer the second for a burnt offering according to the rule. And the priest shall make atonement for him for the sin that he has committed, and he shall be forgiven.

    (Lev 5:13 ESV) Thus the priest shall make atonement for him for the sin which he has committed in any one of these things, and he shall be forgiven. And the remainder shall be for the priest, as in the grain offering.”

    (Lev 5:16 ESV) He shall also make restitution for what he has done amiss in the holy thing and shall add a fifth to it and give it to the priest. And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and he shall be forgiven.

    (Lev 5:18 ESV) He shall bring to the priest a ram without blemish out of the flock, or its equivalent for a guilt offering, and the priest shall make atonement for him for the mistake that he made unintentionally, and he shall be forgiven.

    (Lev 6:7 ESV) And the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD, and he shall be forgiven for any of the things that one may do and thereby become guilty.”

    (Lev 19:22 ESV) And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering before the LORD for his sin that he has committed, and he shall be forgiven for the sin that he has committed.

    (Num 14:19 ESV) Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now.”

    (Num 15:25 ESV) And the priest shall make atonement for all the congregation of the people of Israel, and they shall be forgiven, because it was a mistake, and they have brought their offering, a food offering to the LORD, and their sin offering before the LORD for their mistake.

    (Num 15:26 ESV) And all the congregation of the people of Israel shall be forgiven, and the stranger who sojourns among them, because the whole population was involved in the mistake.

    (Num 15:28 ESV) And the priest shall make atonement before the LORD for the person who makes a mistake, when he sins unintentionally, to make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven.

    (Psa 32:1 ESV) A Maskil of David. Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

    (Isa 33:24 ESV) And no inhabitant will say, “I am sick”; the people who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity.

    (Lam 3:42 ESV) “We have transgressed and rebelled, and you have not forgiven.

    Should we assume that when God stated that sins would be forgiven by offering a peculiar sacrifice that they would be forgiven forever? No, the text states in Hebrews 10:1-4 that the same ones are remembered each year, (rolling forward, or if you prefer carried forward, or just remembered) but the event is the same sins that the sacrifices could not forgive. I believe that we agree that when Christ shed his blood on the cross the blood flowed both backwards and forwards to cover sins of all mankind who were obedient to the instructions that God had given to them in their time setting. Better known as identified by this scripture.
    Rom 4:16-17 ESV That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, (17) as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

    You stated, “They weren’t forgiven thanks to the blood of bulls and goats, and so they required the sacrifice of Jesus, but time is a barrier that God cannot overcome.” I am assuming that you meant the last part of this sentence to be a question.

    You stated, “That doesn’t work for me. Rather, it seems to me that the Hebrews author is saying that the power of the cross reaches backwards through time to empower prior forgivenesses.”

    Could it be than that God just froze these forgiveness in time awaiting Christ’s blood to flow backwards to them to activate them?
    We are positive that Christ took sins to the cross, not his but ours. Only some of them?
    Heb 9:28 ESV so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

    Out of 31 occurrences of the word (forgive) in OT these are the only ones which are presenting that The Lord will (forgive). The others are asking the Lord to (forgive).
    (Num 30:5 ESV) But if her father opposes her on the day that he hears of it, no vow of hers, no pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. And the LORD will forgive her, because her father opposed her.
    (Num 30:8 ESV) But if, on the day that her husband comes to hear of it, he opposes her, then he makes void her vow that was on her, and the thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she bound herself. And the LORD will forgive her.
    (Num 30:12 ESV) But if her husband makes them null and void on the day that he hears them, then whatever proceeds out of her lips concerning her vows or concerning her pledge of herself shall not stand. Her husband has made them void, and the LORD will forgive her.
    (2Ch 7:14 ESV) if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

    These found in OT are projecting into a time in the future, which we connect with the NT.
    (Jer 31:34 ESV) And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will (forgive) their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
    (Jer 33:8 ESV) I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will (forgive) all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me.
    (Jer 36:3 ESV) It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the disaster that I intend to do to them, so that every one may turn from his evil way, and that I may (forgive) their iniquity and their sin.”

    When we look for David receiving forgiveness this is the only reference I have found. David is obviously believing that God has forgiven him (past tense). But, can we deny that Christ was not the completion of that forgiveness?
    Psa 32:5 ESV I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

    Whether the wording is (rolling the sins forward, or a backwards movement of his atonement for sins) the same action is performed, Christ was the power involved in removing the sins of the world.

  35. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:


    Thanks for the clarification. I imagine that the Jewish Diaspora was not present in all cities. That is, Paul may well have preached in many cities with no synagogues and very few if any Jews, resulting in Gentile churches.

    I’m not suggesting that you are arguing for this, but I do want to be clear that it’s very unlikely that Paul tolerated Jews and Gentiles in the same city separating from each other for ethnic reasons. He would have seen that as very anti-gospel.

  36. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:


    One of these days I’m going to address 1 Pet 4:6, but that day is not today. I have to understand it a whole lot better than I do now. For whatever it may be worth, the NET Bible translator notes explain,

    In context the phrase those who are dead refers to those now dead who had accepted the gospel while they were still living and had suffered persecution for their faith. Though they “suffered judgment” in this earthly life (i.e., they died, in the midst of physical abuse from the ungodly), they will enjoy life from God in the spiritual, heavenly realm because of the gospel (v. 1Pe 4:6). It clearly does not assume a second chance for conversion offered to unbelievers who had died; why would Peter urge people to suffer in this life for the sake of the gospel if he believed that mercy would be extended to all the dead in the hereafter (cf. 1Pe 2:7-8; 1Pe 4:1-5, 1Pe 4:12-19)?

  37. Dwight says:

    Jay, you said, “but I do want to be clear that it’s very unlikely that Paul tolerated Jews and Gentiles in the same city separating from each other for ethnic reasons. He would have seen that as very anti-gospel.” and don’t believe this as well.
    But being separate according to an ethnicity is different than dividing up along the lines of an ethnicity, meaning that they might and probably didn’t think of themselves as divided in the gospel, even though in different ethnic groups. I know of a congregation that just started by a fellow I used to work with who is starting a congregation that is oriented towards Hispanics…as they largely speak Spanish. While it might seem like an ethnic division it really isn’t as there is language and culture that is to be considered.
    It is probably likely that Rome had congregations that were largely Jewish and others that were largely Gentile, but this didn’t mean that they were divided against each other, but rather gathering with those they felt more comfortable and who spoke their basic language.
    And if our understanding of churches is that many if not most met in their homes, then you had people gather with those they understood in small settings. So in reference to the Gentile churches this could mean those gentiles who meet in their homes with other gentiles, but it could also possibly mean those churches in the homes of gentiles who had others such as Jews in them.
    We have to be careful when imprinting our assembly/church format onto their assembly/church format as this can lead to imagining things that sound fishy but wasn’t.

  38. Alabama John says:


    I believe it ties right in with Rev. 5:9-10.

    No one can believe or have faith in what they have not heard.

    Believe me throughout the ages a lot, most actually, had not heard before they died. God gives those an opportunity to hear and upon hearing believing and having faith in what they hear.

    To be lost one has to reject and you cannot reject what you never had.

  39. Eric Thomas says:

    Okay this may be way off base but I’ll put it out there. Philosophically speaking I can’t help but see that forgiveness requires the one forgiving to die to their self. In other words. They except the offense or injury they received and they don’t require reparations. Also they don’t hold a grudge. In fact they instead rejoin the relationship. So we sin against God. He says if you repent, I’ll forgive you and you will be my child once again. So I see the cross as God displaying what it looks like when He forgives us. He takes away our sins. Amen. It’s not a small thing for our perfect God to forgive us.

  40. Larry Cheek says:

    Alabama John,
    I have read a post earlier that Jay had posted upon this subject. I have also read from more commentaries about this subject than most other subjects. Most all of these are written by men who do not place much credence in the spirit world. I for one can easily believe that Christ died physically on the cross, (his physical body) but he is alive in the Spirit just as God is (God is a Spirit) his Son is in the same image as the Father. Therefore, anything that is possible for God to do His Son can do also. I do not believe this passage has anything to do with any of mankind who have had the Gospel preached to them, But the concept would be very understandable if it was intended to be delivered to all mankind who had been disobedient prior to being able to hear the Gospel preached while they were alive in the physical body. The physical body is not what either obeys or disobeys it is the intellect or (Spirit, Soul), the body is only the temporary abode of the the (Spirit, Soul). I was taught that it would have been impossible for any spirit whose body had died whose spirit is (actually in a prison of spirits) to have received the Gospel which another Spirit, (Christ in the Spirit) would have preached to them to be obedient and be saved through the Gospel. Of course, it is easy to explain why, because that spirit could not live out a life of obedience in the physical world (you know fruits of the spirit). But, it really causes me to wonder how people who believe that works do not save and that we are saved by faith and belief, could not believe that a spirit that previously had lived in a human body could not have faith and belief (thus salvation). But, that seems to me to be the only concept to disqualify the validity of this message. But, if the message is true, than all mankind will stand before the judgement with the same opportunity to have obeyed the Gospel. Should that be something that we should feel is unjust? This appears to me to be the only concept that could fulfill verse 6 below, it really is not tied to those of the time of Noah.
    1Pe 3:18-20 ESV For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, (19) in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, (20) because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.
    1Pe 4:5-6 ESV but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (6) For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

    I know this is ahead of Jay’s intended post but, who knows that we will have tomorrow?

  41. Alabama John says:

    I agree.
    We don’t teach or preach enough about the Spirit that is really who we are. There are a lot there we ignore that has been relevant throughout history and is relevant today and tomorrow.
    When the Native Americans worshiped the Great Spirit that was their God in the heavens they were closer to the truth than we realize. It is no wonder when the Pilgrims came and started to teach them from the bible about God in the heavens above they answered they were already believing and doing that and thought everyone was. One proof the Pilgrims were surprised to discover was the carvings and drawings on walls of the Spirit world.
    In fact, that has been true worldwide.
    More to come, looking forward to it from you and Jay.

  42. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:


    I agree with much of what you say. I start to get uncomfortable when we see the cross as merely a demonstration of how much God loves us. Buddy Jones first made the point in a sermon that we need to avoid the theory “I love you so much I’ll commit suicide for you.” It’s like Van Gogh cutting off his ear to show his commitment to a woman — kind of crazy. Wright makes the same argument in the book. It’s true that the cross shows the depth of God’s love, but only because it was necessary. If he did it just to show his love, it’s weird and revolting. If I drown myself to show my love, I’m a nut. If I suffer drowning to rescue a boat filled with desperate people, I have great love.

    So that begs the question of why the death on the cross was necessary? One answer that Paul offers is that Jesus was a sin offering (Rom 8:3), and then there’s the blood oath from Gen 15. Both required a sacrificial death. But there’s also the Passover story — that the blood of the Passover Lamb marks the covenant people and protects them from death. And there’s the “condemnation of sin” (Rom 8:3 again) argument that Jesus, as Israel representative, too their Exile punishment for them but did so by condemning Sin. And there’s Christus Victor, that Jesus took the worst his enemies could dish out and overcame them — Sin and Death and all the powers and principalities arrayed against him. And I think it’s all true and works best as the convergence of multiple narratives. And they all make the best sense as part of a narrative rather than a theology divorced from history. But now I’m WAY ahead of myself.

    I could add that under the Law Jesus’ blood was needed to cleanse Israel so God’s people could receive his Presence in the form of the Spirit — just as the Holy of Holies had to be “cleansed” with blood so that God’s presence could exist there. Perfect cleansing makes possible God’s perfect Presence.

  43. Monty says:

    And also, the veil was torn that separated God and man in the Holy of Holies. Whatever that means, Jesus death and his blood accomplished it.

  44. Dwight says:

    Jay, that is what I think baptism is for. If we go back and read the account in Acts 2 we read, “What must we do?” a general question for people who realize that they have rejected Jesus and thus God and then Peter responds with “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
    The term “remission’ doesn’t mean that sin will withdraw, like we think of cancer, but is “aphesis” or “release from bondage or pardon or forgiveness” so it seems as though the washing allows us to stand before God and be forgiven. This correlates with the OT where one had to be clean before entering the Temple.
    So baptism doesn’t remit sins, but allows us to come before the one who offers forgiveness. The faith in Christ allows this to happen and be empowered as we stand before God.

  45. Eric Thomas says:

    Hey Jay,
    Great point I should have thought and worded that differently. Maybe it would be better to say that the cross is what it looks like when our perfect God forgives us. That also got me to thinking about how sin and death entered creation through Adam who was told he would surely die. He was kicked out of eden and kept from the tree of the fruit of eternal life and lost the intimate relationship he had enjoyed with God up until that point. The spiritual death took place when Adam lost the relationship. The physical death came later. When Christ died on the cross the curtain was torn and access to God returned and with the resurrection we were promised eternal life both body and spirit. I should qualify all this by admitting that I’m thinking out loud and have not completely thought all this out. Thanks again for giving me more to think on.

  46. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:


    In chapter 5, Paul delves into Adam and the Garden — and I think you’ve pretty much nailed it. “Surely die” means “lose immortality” means “lose access to the Tree of Life.” We are in Rev that the Tree of Life (and hence immortality) will be found in the New Heavens and New Earth — which becomes something of the Garden of Eden made new and improved — because it’s also the new Jerusalem — the two places where God had a special dwelling among his people.

    The tearing of the veil of the Temple could mean that people were allowed to enter (not just the high priest) to be with God. But my view is more that God has left the building. The Holy of Holies was revealed to be empty — no ark of the covenant, no mercy seat, and God was hanging on a cross outside the temple courts, even outside the city (the camp, in Exodus terms).

    Therefore, the true Temple would be Jesus (the tabernacle was also outside the camp) and his followers.

    (Heb. 13:12-14 ESV) 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.

    God is found in the place of shame and dishonor — the place of lepers and sinners — outside the camp, because he bore the accursedness of Israel and the rest of the world. God rejected the old Holy of Holies to take up residence inside of the followers of Jesus — through his Spirit. We, the church and as individual Christians, as well, are the temple and so the new Holy of Holies, where God is found, God speaks, and God forgives. We are how God dwells among his people until Jesus returns. And so we are told live outside the camp in the place of shame. Hence, God had to reveal the emptiness of the Holy of Holies.

    Ray Vander Laan sees the tearing of the curtain as God mourning in the Jewish way, tearing his garments in agony at his death. I would not disagree. It’s a poignant image. But God hadn’t been in the Holy of Holies since the Exile began. Ezekiel is quite clear on the point, as is Jewish history. And so I’m more inclined to believe that God was actually demonstrating that he had returned to Zion, but not as a glorious presence in the HoH. It was in the place of shame.

    (Zech. 8:3 ESV) 3 Thus says the LORD: I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the LORD of hosts, the holy mountain.

    When did this happen? I think it happened at Pentecost when the church was founded in Jerusalem, in the Temple courts, and God the Spirit descended to dwell among God’s people on his holy mountain. Thus, to show that God had returned, he had to show that he had left and not returned to the HoH but to the followers of Jesus. And this would also parallel Ezekiel’s account of God leaving the Temple before it was destroyed. By God revealing the emptiness of the HoH, he demonstrated that the Temple was no longer under his Divine protection.

    Can’t prove any of this because the Gospels don’t really explain the tearing of the curtain. But it’s my best guess.

  47. Eric Thomas says:


    Thanks again. It’s pure joy to dig in and think on these matters. This is a wonderful book and your post keep me thinking and hopefully growing.

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