29 Koester, Hebrews, 123.

Through his suffering, death, and glorification, Jesus has been perfected in his priesthood and its exercise. His death on the cross and glorious resurrection was not only the highest exercise of his priesthood but also brought it to fulfilment—in his definitive life with God. Eternally interceding now for those still to be brought to completion through the fulfilment of the divine promises, Christ the High Priest presents forever on their behalf to the Father his sacrificial self-offering (see e.g. the French School and Torrance). The ‘pioneer/ leader’ in the project of salvation, Christ ‘sanctifies’ others, as God the Father ‘brings them to glory’ (Heb. 2: 10–11). The faithful can see in the suffering and exaltation of their High Priest how God’s purposes for them will be realized (Heb. 12: 2).


The priestly work of Christ brought redemption in three forms: deliverance from evil, purification from the defilement of sin, and loving communion with God in the new covenant. (1) To have communion with God, human beings must be delivered from the power of death and the devil. Hebrews first speaks briefly of Christ destroying ‘the one who has the power of death: that is, the devil’ (Heb. 2: 14). In pictorial detail, the letter spells out what this deliverance from evil and sharing in Christ’s glory (2: 10) entails. Through being brought to everlasting life in God’s presence, those redeemed by Christ will ‘enter God’s rest’ (4: 9–10), join the company of angels (12: 23), and take part in the festal gathering in the heavenly Jerusalem (12: 22). The deliverance from evil means deliverance for eternal salvation. (2) Christ’s priestly sacrifice was also expiatory and proved itself so in a unique way. The one priestly sacrifice of Christ did something the Levitical priests could not achieve by their repeated sacrifices: it ‘cleansed consciences’ from sin (Heb. 9: 14; 10: 14, 22). Where the language of deliverance seems less controversial,30 talk of ‘expiation’ can encounter difficulty and be misunderstood, above all by being taken as equivalent to ‘propitiation’.