Literal Blood of Christ: A Historical Survey

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The Literal Blood of Christ

Among evangelical believers in some quarters, two erroneous ideas sometimes emerge. One is that the blood of Christ was divine, the other is that the literal blood of Christ was physically transported to Heaven after His death (by an angel or some other means). The first of these leads, albeit unwittingly, to a heretical view of the person of Christ. The second is an unscriptural superstition, due to a misapplication of Old Testament ceremonial type. These abberations from Biblical teaching are unnecessary to uphold the full deity of the Lord Jesus Christ and the all-sufficiency of his atoning sufferings and death.

(Updated, December 2017)

Hypostatic Union

"The Son of God, the second person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance, and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon him man's nature, with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin; being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man." (Westminster Confession of Faith VIII/II)

QUOTATIONS REFERRING TO THE "LITERAL" BLOOD OF CHRIST.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564). Commentary on Romans (on 3:25), Grand Rapids, 1948. page 143.

"A propitiatory through faith in his blood, &c. I prefer thus literally to retain the language of Paul; for it seems indeed to me that he intended, by one single sentence, to declare that God is propitious to us as soon as we have our trust resting on the blood of Christ; for by faith we come to the possession of this benefit. But by mentioning blood only, he did not mean to exclude other things connected with redemption, but, on the contrary, to include the whole under one word: and he mentioned "blood," because by it we are cleansed. Thus, by taking a part for the whole, he points out the whole work of expiation. "

THEODORE BEZA. Annotations on Romans 3:25, 1683.

"This name of blood, calleth us back to the figure of the old sacrifices; the truth and substance of which sacrifice is in Christ. "

RICHARD ALLEINE (Brother of the well-known Joseph Alleine) Instructions About Heartwork, Soli Deo Gloria, 2003. page 86

"this blood is purging and cleansing blood, (Hebrews 9:14; 1 John 1:7). Therefore he is said to wash us in his blood. By the blood of Christ is meant the same as the death of Christ."

SAMUEL RUTHERFORD. (1600-1661). The Covenant of Life Opened, Puritan Publications, 2005, page 286

"Revelation 1:5. My blood, saith he, Matthew 26:28 he gave his life a ransom, Matthew 20:28 he gave himself a ransom, 1 Timothy 2:6 by himself he purged our sins, Hebrews 1:3. Gave himself for his Church, Ephesians 5:25. Offered himself. Hebrews 9:14. And therefore the satisfaction that he made was properly his own. Its true the life, flesh and blood which he offered to God, as common to the three Persons, was equally the life, flesh, blood of God by way of Creation and efficiency: For God as God created His Manhood, and gave him a body, but that Manhood, in abstracto, was not the offering, but all these, in concreto, and the self, including the value and the dignity, was not the Father's not the Sprit's, but most properly his own, and the Son's only by way of personal termination and subsistence. 1] There are contradictory terms affirmed of this holy self the Son, and of the Spirit and the Father. The Son was God incarnate. 2] The son offered himself, his own life, his own blood to God for our sins. Neither the Father nor the Spirit at all is God incarnate, neither Father nor Spirit offered his own life, his own blood to God; Neither the Father nor the Spirit hath (to speak so) a personal or terminative dominion over the flesh and blood of Christ."

JOHN OWEN. D.D. (1616-1683). Independent. Works, Johnstone and Hunter, 1855. Volume 23, (vol. 6 of his work on Hebrews), page 280.

"It is a vain speculation, contrary to the analogy of faith, and destructive of the true nature of the oblation of Christ, and inconsistent with the dignity of his person, that he should carry with him into heaven a part of that material blood which was shed for us on earth. This some have invented, to maintain a comparison in that wherein none is intended. The design of the apostle is only to declare by virtue of what he entered as a priest into the holy place. And this was by virtue of his own blood when it was shed, when he offered himself unto God. This was that which laid the foundation of, and gave him right unto the administration of his priestly office in heaven. And hereby were all these good things procured which he effectually communicates unto us in and by that administration."

JOHN OWEN. ibid. page 296 

"First, It is not only that material blood which he shed, absolutely considered, that is here and elsewhere called "the blood of Christ," when the work of our redemption is ascribed unto it, that is intended; but there is a double consideration of it, with respect unto its efficacy unto this end: 1. That it was the pledge and the sign of ail the internal obedience and sufferings of the soul of Christ, of his person. "He became obedient unto death, the death of the cross," whereon his blood was shed. This was the great instance of his obedience and of his sufferings, whereby he made reconciliation and atonement for sin. Hence the effects of all his sufferings, and of all obedience in his sufferings, are ascribed unto his blood. 2. Respect is had unto the sacrifice and offering of blood under the law. The reason why God gave the people the blood to make atonement on the altar, was because "the life of the flesh was in it," Lev.xvii. 11,14. So was the life of Christ in his blood, by the shedding thereof he laid it down. And by his death it is, as he was the Son of God, that we are redeemed. Herein he made his soul an offering for sin, Isa. liii. 10. Wherefore this expression, "the blood of Christ," in order unto our redemption, or the expiation of sin, is comprehensive of all that he did and suffered for those ends, inasmuch as the shedding of it was the way and means whereby he offered it, or himself (in and by it), unto God."

JOHN OWEN. ibid. page 298.

"All these principles I have at large refuted in the exercitations about the priesthood of Christ, and shall not here again insist in their examination. This is plain and evident in the words, unless violence be offered unto them, namely, that: the blood of Christ," -that is, his suffering in soul and body, and his obedience therein, testified and expressed in the shedding of his blood,- was the procuring cause of the expiation of our sins, "the purging of our consciences from dead works," our justification, sanctification, and acceptance with God thereon."

DAVID CLARKSON (1622-1686), The Woks of, Volume 3. Sermons p 146

"(3.) He presents his death as suffered in our stead, his blood as shed for us. The high priest (as was said) when he was to mediate for the people in the most holy place, was to bring the blood of the sacrifice and present it there; he was not to enter without it, there was no interceding but by virtue of it, Heb. ix. 7; so Christ by his own blood entered into heaven, ver. 12, thereby to make intercession for transgressors. Indeed, his inter-cession is but the continued virtue of his blood, and therefore is described by his presenting it, as the high priest did that of other sacrifices. Not that Christ in heaven presents his blood out of his veins, but his soul and body which was sacrificed; that body which was scourged, wounded, pierced through with nails, and made full of bloody furrows, remains in the presence and at the right hand of God, and will remain there for an eternal memorial of his sufferings. Not that the Lord needs any memorial, and wants any helps to continue things in remembrance, or less regards, or is less mindful of things long since past; for things past, how long since soever, are as full in his all-seeing eye as if they were present; and so are things future too, at what distance soever. Hence Christ is said to be the lamb sacrificed, &c., Rom. xiii. 8. That sacrifice of Christ was present to him, so as to procure all the advantages of it for believers under the Old Testament, many ages before it was actually offered ; and so it is as present to him still, though it be many hundred years since it was offered.

"But such expressions, when we say Christ presents his blood, they help our weaknesses; and signify to us that the death and sufferings of Christ have the same influence with God now, as if he were still suffering, as if he were but just now crucified. That the virtue of his blood is still as fresh and efficacious as if it were but just now shed ; as if the wounds were still open, and the blood now streaming out in the presence and at the right hand of God. This blood, thus presented, is said to ' speak better things than the blood of Abel,' Hob. xii. 24, Gen. iv. 10; it cries for mercy as much as the blood of Abel cried for vengeance ; it pleads powerfully, and has as much the virtue of interceding as if it had an articulate voice."

MATTHEW POOL, Annotations on the whole bible, Vol. 3, James Nisbet, 1855, page 489

""Through faith in his blood". he goes on to show the instrumental cause of justification, to wit, faith; i.e. the close adherence and most submissive dependence of the sinner; together with the peculiarity of the object of faith, viz. the blood, i.e. the death and sacrifice of Christ. "

PHILIP HENRY (1631-1696). Christ All In All, Virginia, 1976, page 290.

"He hath brought us out of the hands of divine justice, by laying down a ransom for us. 
If you ask what that was? I answer, that sometimes it is said to be his life, Matt. xx. 28, sometimes himself, 1 Tim. ii. 6, and sometimes his blood, 1 Pet. i. 18, 19. These three come to the same. We are redeemed by Christ dying for us, shedding his blood, laying down his life, offering up himself. This fully satisfied the demands of God's justice. Let me have this, saith he, and I have enough. I expect no more by way of satisfaction for the sin of man. I am well pleased, atoned, reconciled, made friends. To this purpose we are told of a covenant of redemption which was transacted from all eternity between the Father and the Son, the terms whereof were - That if the Son would come and be a man and die, that dying of his should be accepted as the price or ransom of all the elect, how many soever there were."

ROBERT TRAILL (1641-1716). Covenanter Minister. The Works of, Banner of Truth 1975. Volume 1, page 106. line 8.

"2dly, Christ's intercession stands in this, That he, in our nature, and in our name, presents continually the savor of His sacrifice: Heb. ix. 12. He went into the Holy place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption for us. Aaron and his successors in the office of high priest, were appointed to offer the great sacrifice of yearly atonement at the altar, and with the blood thereof to enter into the holy of holies, and to sprinkle the mercy-seat (their throne of grace) with that blood, Lev. xvi. 14. Our Lord Jesus the antitype, offered the sacrifice of himself in his death; and, in and with the virtue of that sacrifice, he entered heaven, to sprinkle the highest altar therewith. It is but a fond Popish fancy to think, that there do remain visible marks and signatures of his humbled state, on the glorified body of our Lord Jesus. This is indeed to know Christ after the flesh, in a bad sense, 2 Cor. v. 16. But His entering in with His own blood is spiritually to be understood; that Christ's appearance in heaven, is to bring up a memorial continually before God, of the virtue and savour of that sacrifice he offered without the gates of Jerusalem: Eph. v. 2. Christ hath loved us, and given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. This savour never spends or wears out. The blood of Jesus, in the virtue of it, is as fresh this day, as in the day it was shed on the cross."

ROBERT TRAILL. Ibid. Volume 4 page 34, line 11.

"1st The blood of Jesus Christ is the life-blood of that man Jesus Christ the Son of God (which he assumed into personal union with himself) : they are but ridiculous and Popish notions that many people have of the blood of Christ. This blood was shed in many ways; it was shed in circumcision; it was shed in the garden when he was in an agony; it was shed by scourging, and shed by the crown of thorns on his head. But the blood that we mean here was the life-blood of the man Christ Jesus; that blood which is called by our apostle, 1 Pet. i 19. The precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish, and without spot. The same blood is called the blood of God. Acts xx. 28. Feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. And therefore whosoever they are that do deny or doubt that Jesus Christ is a true man, or deny that Jesus Christ is true God, they are not to be called Christians; call them what you will, Christians they are not; call them Pagans, Heathens, Mahometans, give them what name you will, they are no Christians that do not believe Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, and that he was God before he came into flesh, that he was truly God in the flesh, and that the Godhead remained united with the flesh as our great Emmanuel."

ROBERT TRAILL. Ibid. page 36 commencing, '3dly,'

"What is the sprinkling of this blood of Christ thus shed? You understand what the sprinkling the typical blood of the sacrifices was; it was the natural blood of a poor beast that was sacrificed, sprinkled by the hands of the priest on the altar and on the mercy-seat: But what is the sprinkling of this blood of Jesus? The sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ is nothing else but this, the spiritual application of its power and virtue. It is an old doting dream of the Antichristian party, to make a great deal of noise about the material blood of Christ; it is probable that the natural blood of Christ sprinkled the garments of many of his murderers, who were never a whit the better for it; and that the earth drank it in, like the blood of another man; but the spiritual heavenly virtue of it is quite another thing. This what we are to speak to, what the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ is? that is, wherein was this virtuous blood applied. 1st, This blood of Jesus Christ sprinkled the alter of justice, at which it was shed for atonement and propitiation. I say, the blood of Jesus Christ sprinkled the altar of justice; that is, the power and virtue of it made satisfaction to the justice of God for sin: it was a satisfaction to justice and the law, for an atonement for all his people. The law and justice of God shed this blood, and the virtue of it satisfied both."

THOMAS WATSON (c.1620-1686). The Mischief of Sin (the appendix on the Lord's Supper), Soli Deo Gloria 1994, Page 127 commencing '7.' Christ's blood etc.

"7. Christ's blood procures heaven. Israel passed through the Red Sea to Canaan. So, through the red sea of Christ's blood, we enter into the heavenly Canaan, "having boldness therefore to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus," Hebrews 10:19. Our sins shut heaven; Christ's blood is the key which opens the gate of paradise for us. Hence it is that Theodoret calls the cross the tree of salvation because that blood which trickled down the cross distils salvation. Well, then, may we prize the blood of Christ and, with Paul, determine to know nothing but Christ crucified, 1 Corinthians 2: 2"

EBENEEZER ERSKINE (1680-1754). The Beauties of Ebeneezer Erskine, Reformation Heritage Books, 2001. Page 317

"3. Faith lives in the wilderness, not only on the flesh of Christ, or the mysteries of his incarnation, but upon the blood of Christ; by which I understand his satisfaction, which is frequently in Scripture expressed by his blood: "Behold the blood of the covenant;" that is, the satisfaction or death of Christ, that whereby the covenant is confirmed. This is drink indeed to the believer, in passing through the wilderness; let the believer get a draught of this red wine of the blood of the slain Lamb of God, he is able to go forth like a giant, or a strong man to encounter all the powers of hell. Rev. xii. 11. It is said of the saints in their wars with the devil, that "they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb," that is, by faith's improvement of the death and satisfaction of Christ. Let faith be but set a-work upon the death and blood of Christ, it can look God himself in the face with an undaunted boldness, without fear of danger, or without fear of being rejected: "Having, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, let us draw near," &c. "

EBENEEZER ERSKINE. Ibid. Page 335

"How Christ the Son of God destroys the works of the devil.
1. Christ destroys the works of the devil by the virtue of his blood. Now, when I speak of the blood or death of Christ, I understand the whole of his satisfaction, including his perfect active obedience unto the mandatory part of the law, as well as his suffering the minatory part of it in his death. Now, I say, by the death of Christ, in this extensive view, Satan and his works are destroyed."

RALPH ERSKINE (1685-1752). Works, Free Presbyterian Press, 1991, Vol.4. Pages 134 & 135

"V. The fifth general head proposed, was the application. Is it so, that the blood of Christ is clean water, which God, by the hand of the Spirit, applies for the cleansing of the unclean? Then, 
1. Hence learn the great need of spiritual discerning for taking up spiritual things under outward signs; and spiritual mysteries, under common metaphors: for, here the clean water represents, as in baptism, the pure and precious blood of Christ; and the blood of Christ is not to be considered materially, but morally: even so the sprinkling here, is a spiritual sprinkling; and the cleansing a spiritual and moral cleansing. The blood of Christ, materially considered, as it ran from the veins of his body, though Papists pretend to have enough of it in reserve, this is a vain, vile, useless, and imaginary conception of it; this corporal and carnal consideration of it, is of no more avail than the corporal and carnal application of it; for, as Christ says, "The flesh profiteth nothing;" so, in this sense, the blood profiteth nothing. The proper use of blood is not to cleanse; for it defiles and bespots anything whereon it is dropt; but morally considered, as the shedding of blood implies loss of life and punishment for a crime; so blood is the expiation of a crime, and a satisfaction to the law for the offence committed against it. As the shedding of innocent blood does morally pollute a land; so the shedding the blood of a malefactor or murderer, doth morally cleanse a land. It is said, Num. xxxv. 33, "Blood defileth the land; and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it." Without the shedding of the blood of Christ, there would have been no remission of our sins; but "The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin." There is a cleansing from guilt, and a cleansing from filth; both are the fruits of this blood: the guilt is cleansed by justification, the filth by sanctification; the former by the merits of Christ, the latter by his Spirit; but the proper intention of the blood of Christ was, to take off the curse of the law, and free us from our guilt. When we consider the blood of Christ, we consider Christ as a sacrifice; and sacrifices were called purifications, not in regard of washing away the filth, but expatiating the guilt of sin; but yet the justifying virtue of this blood is never exerted without the sanctifying virtue accompanying it. When this blood is sprinkled in the conscience, it purges from dead works. We need then the spiritual discerning of these things."

RALPH ERSKINE. Ibid. Page 140

"This pure water of the blood of Christ runs in his veins; it is not physically or corporally applied to us, but in a judicial or juridical way "

ROBERT HALDANE (1764-1842). Exposition of Romans, Edinburgh 1859, Page 286

"Through faith in His blood. - This propitiation was made by blood, by which is to be understood all the sufferings of Christ, and above all His death, by which they were consummated. And this becomes a propitiation to us through faith in His blood, - that is, when we believe that His death is a sacrifice which makes atonement for us, and when we rest on it as a sufficient answer to all acusations against us of the law of God, which in the punishment of death it demanded for sin, for "without shedding of blood is no remission." The expression, "through faith in His blood," limits to believers the effect of this propitiation. "

ALEXANDER STEWART (1794-1847). The Mosaic Sacrifices Edinburgh 1883, page 275, to 277.

"That no one may misunderstand what is meant by this expression, "the blood of Christ," we may ask, "what does it signify?" We trust none are so ignorant as to imagine that it means literally the red fluid that flowed in the Saviour's veins - that this is the blood of Christ which can cleanse the conscience. God would not mock us by telling us of a way of cleansing beyond our reach. And if in this literal sense, the blood of the holy Son of God is of no avail to cleanse the conscience, what a conclusive argument is it against all Popish relics, of what ever character! None of them can possibly be so holy a relic as this: and if this be unavailing of what value are they? It is cleansing from dead works we seek, and mere dead things cannot effect this. The blood of Jesus Christ is a nobler and more accessible source of purity."

"The Jewish ritual again serves as a commentary to explain the meaning of the expression, "the blood of Christ," that which can reach the conscience to the effect of its cleansing. The virtue of the sacrifice was in the blood; but we are not to suppose that any blood was sufficient or effectual to cleanse from pollution. It required to be the blood of a proper victim, offered to God, slain and disposed of according to the appointed manner: the blood was preserved, the virtue of the sacrifice was concentrated in the blood. It was by the blood, the natural and legal symbol of life, that propitiation was made, and that man was cleansed. How was the blood, then, to be applied? How was the end to be effected for which the sacrifice was offered. This brings us to see the true meaning of the language of the Bible as regards the blood of sprinkling. It implies that as a sacrifice Christ died; and hence his death is spoken of in sacrificial language. The Terms in which His death is spoken of in the Bible clearly point to the nature of the death as a satisfaction to justice, and also to the office which the Divine Saviour undertook as our ever-living Priest and advocate with God the Father. He offered himself to God, the Lawgiver and the Judge of heaven and earth, as a sacrifice to propitiate His justice, and also to cleanse the sinner. "His blood cleanseth from all sin."

WILLIAM SYMINGTON (1795-1862). The Atonement and Intercession of Christ, Edinburgh 1834, Page 361

"By his blood and sacrifice, represented in these passages as carried by him into heaven, it is almost unnecessary to remark, we are not to understand the material blood which flowed in the garden and on the cross, but the merit of his suffering and death; the virtue of his atonement, the substance of his sacrifice, the whole essence of his passion. The intercession is founded on the oblation."

CHARLES HODGE (1797-1878). Commentary on Romans (3:25), New York, 1900, page 146.

"The construction first mentioned, and sanctioned by the translators of the English Bible, gives a perfectly good sense, and is most agreable to the collocation of the words. The blood of Christ is an expression used in obvious reference to the sacrificial character of his death. It was not his death as a witness or as an example, but as a sacrifice, that expiates sin. And by his blood, is not to be understood simply his death, but his whole work for our redemption, especially all his expiatory sufferings from the beginning to the end of his life. "

CHARLES HODGE. Commentary on Ephesians (2:18), Banner of Truth, 1991, page 98.

"Secondly, This access is through Christ. This means, 1. as explained in the context, by his blood, his flesh, his cross; that is, it is by his vicarious death. It is by his dying, the just for the unjust, that he brings us near to God. "

PATRICK FAIRBAIRN (1805-1874). The Interpretation Of Prophecy, Banner of Truth 1964, page 167.

"In a similar manner, the death of Christ is often spoken of under the old sacrificial form of the shedding of the blood, the inward application of His atonement to the soul is termed the sprinkling of his blood upon the conscience, and baptism is designated His circumcision; and never, scarcely, is a prayer offered or a Christian discourse heard, without the free use in it of the words that belong to the old covenant - such as altar, priest, sacrifices, Zion, Jerusalem, Canaan."

ROBERT S. CANDLISH (1806 - 1873). Free Church of Scotland, Commentary on 1 John, Geneva Series, Banner of Truth, 1993, page 463.

"But how may it be asked, can water and blood be brought forward as witnesses now? The might bear silent testimony at the time when they flowed from the smitten side of Jesus on the cross, and they to whom the Spirit was then bearing witness might see, through his teaching, as the dying thief did, in the pure water and the precious blood, a confirmation of the truth concerning Christ, that in him there is not only renewal of nature, but redemption also, and remission of sins. But the water and the blood are not accessible to us now. The water was spilt on the ground; and the earth opened her mouth to receive the blood. We would seek in vain, where the cross stood, for any traces of the drops that then fell beside it; and even if some of these drops had been preserved and handed down to us, they would have been but dead relics, such as superstition loves to dote upon, not living witnesses, such as the living Spirit may associate in witness- bearing with himself. The water then and the blood are removed out of the way; we have them no more within our reach. We have indeed sacramental signs and seals of them, in the water of baptism and the wine of communion. But these elements are really as dead as are the water and the blood which they represent. There cannot be more life in the water of baptism, than there is now in the water that came from the Saviour's side; nor in the wine of communion than in the blood. But the water and the blood are, as to the matter of them, irrecoverably lost. Still therefore the question remains, How do they give present living evidence along with the Spirit?

"The real explanation is to be found in this consideration, that though the event itself, the flowing of the water and the blood from the pierced side, was of brief duration and soon passed away, the relation in which it stands to heave and earth is permanent and perpetual, etc, etc."

J.A. ALEXANDER (1809 - 1860). The Prophecies of Isaiah, Zondervan, 1978, Volume 2 page 303 (on Isaiah 53:10)

"As the blood of Christ is said to cleanse from all sin (1 John i. 7), meaning that Christ cleanses by his blood, i.e. his expiatory death."

ANDREW BONAR (1810-1892). Commentary on Leviticus, Banner of Truth 1978, page 169

"Thus the whole altar is completely washed in blood, and thereby is "purified" and "sanctified," i.e., set apart for these ends. Perhaps in this typical action we are to see the shadowing forth of the truth, that the person of the Son of man (who was the altar) was set apart for the purposes of the Lord's will … 

But why "purify" the altar? In order to bring to view another truth. The sin laid on the altar would have polluted that altar itself, steeping it, in a manner, in the filth of these sins, had not this blood been previously laid on it to preclude this danger. So, the Son of man was prepared by the depth and intensity of His purity - by the abundant indwelling of the Holy Ghost - for bearing the sin laid upon Him without being thereby polluted at all. He was so set apart and purified beforehand, in the body prepared for Him, that the sins of a world lying upon His person communicated no stain whatever to Him. "

ANDREW BONAR. Ibid, page 325

"The grand reason for this jealousy in regard to the use of the blood is, "The blood is the life." When poured out, it shews atonement; for it expresses the life taken: "Thou shalt die." To you, sinner, what should be more tremendous than the sign of your own life taken? And to your God, O sinner, nothing is more solemnly glorious than the blood of His own Son. Earth and heaven stand still when blood is poured out. "By the life is the atonement made."

When the spear reached the heart of Jesus, the blood was poured out from the very seat of life. The heart and the pericardium were both pierced, and, therefore, the blood that then gushed forth with the liquid fluid of the pericardium was blood from the warm seat of vitality (see John xix. 34). And as such was the type, so the reality. Jesus did then pour forth His whole soul; affections, feelings, faculties, and every power of His soul, all were laid down in suffering obedience to His Father. The heat of wrath melted all: and all thus melted flowed forth in that wondrous stream. The law took its penalty out from the very source of life. "

JAMES HENLEY THORNWELL (1812 - 1862). The Validity of the Baptism of the Church of Rome, Focus Christian Ministries Trust, 1991, pages 54-55.

"The Water and the Blood I take to be emblematical expressions of the two great divisions of the work which the Redeemer came to accomplish. They define the nature and specify the elements of that salvation which He dispenses to His disciples. A change of state and a change of character, justification and sanctification, both equally indispensable, are the immediate benefits of the covenant of grace. The change of state is fitly represented by the Blood, an emblem of that death which consummated obedience to a broken law, satisfied its awful curse, brought in an everlasting righteousness, and reconciled the pardon and acceptance of sinners with the justice of God. The change of character is with equal fitness represented by the Water, the scriptural symbol of purity and holiness, the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. When, therefore, it is said that the Redeemer came by Water and by Blood, not by Water only, but by Water and by Blood, the meaning is that He came to justify and sanctify; not simply to restore to men the lost image of God by the infusion of grace, but, as the foundation of every other blessing, to restore them to the lost favour of God by the merit of His death. The Apostle guards us against the defective view of His work which overlooks the Blood, which confounds pardon and holiness, righteousness infused and righteousness imputed. "

GEORGE SMEATON (1814-1889). The Apostles' Doctrine of the Atonement, Banner of Truth, 1961, pages 47-52

"As the expiation of wrath was the negative side, so the sinless obedience is the positive. They are two aspects of one great deed, by which sin was expiated and divine favour won; incomplete when separate, all-sufficient when combined. The blood-sprinkling refers to vicarious suffering; the burning, with its sweet-smelling savour, refers to the vicarious fulfilling of the law...

"When did the true High Priest enter within the veil? Was it at His death? or was it, as is commonly thought, when He ascended and sat down on the right hand of God? This is a most important question; and it is the more necessary to settle it, because, as we shall find in the Epistle to the Hebrews, one of the subtlest modes of evading the vicarious satisfaction is to transfer the atoning element to heaven, and to withdraw it from the finished work on the cross: and many, swayed by exegetical reasons, think that countenance is given to that opinion by the allusions in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb. ix. 24-26). The prevalent notion, that the entrance of the high priest into the holy of holies found its truth in Christ's triumphal entrance into heaven, may have some show of probability, but it is burdened by insuperable difficulties. To suppose, as we must do in that case, that Christ's priestly action began in heaven, - that is, that He sprinkled the mercy-seat, and completed the atonement only when He entered on the mediatorial exaltation or reward, - seems to confound everything. It does violence, we think, to all analogy between type and antitype … A few words will suffice to prove that He entered within the veil and sprinkled the mercy-seat at the moment when He commended His spirit into His Father's hand…

"And as we know from the apostle that that typical action coincided with Christ's sacrifice without the gates of Jerusalem (Heb. xiii. 11), it would reverse the entire sacrificial system to interpret the sprinkling of the mercy-seat of what was done by Him forty days after His resurrection, when He ascended to heaven. Not only so: the apostle argues, too, in a way that excludes such a comment, saying, "Nor yet that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; for then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world" (Heb. ix. 25, 26). On the supposition that Christ went into the holy of holies at the triumphant ascension to heaven, the apostle would not have so reasoned; for the statement is, that if Christ had often entered, He must have often suffered, - a consequence that would not follow on the supposition we impugn … But it follows on the supposition that our High Priest entered at the moment He poured out His blood upon the cross… and our great High Priest entered when He died, claiming the opening of heaven for Himself and all His seed, for He still acted as the High Priest when soul and body were separated…

"The other ceremonies of the day of atonement all point in the same direction. Thus, when the high priest entered into the holiest of all, the atonement was not yet completed, for this was procured or won by the sprinkling of blood on the propitatory or mercy-seat. This far more naturally figures forth Christ's violent death, or the separation of His soul and body than His triumphal entry into heaven.

"Only when the defilement was removed by the blood of sacrifice, or by a sprinkling with the water of separation, which presupposed a sacrifice (Num. xix. 13)..."

GEORGE SMEATON. ibid. pages 339-341 

"But this leads me to ask, When did Christ, our High Priest, enter with His own blood? It may, we think, be convincingly proved that the entrance of our High Priest to sprinkle the mercy-seat took place at the moment of His death; that no moment of time intervened; and that the rending of the veil indicated His entry. In pouring out His blood on the cross, and surrendering His spirit into the Father's hands, the Lord must be considered as sprinkling the mercy-seat and expiating sin. While His lifeless body was hanging on the cross, the mercy-seat was sprinkled; for He was still acting as a high priest, even when the lifeless, inanimate body was on the cross and in the tomb. Even then the personal union was not dissolved. If the question were, whether Christ could be regarded as sprinkling the mercy-seat before He bowed His head and gave up the ghost, we should certainly deny it. But as the inquiry is, When did the true High Priest sprinkle the mercy-seat? - which was a propitiatory act in the course of averting wrath - we must emphatically answer, At the moment of death…

"It is incongruous and absurd to hold, then, that the sprinkling of the mercy-seat and the purifying of the heavenly things (ver. 23) took place only after His ascension. "

GEORGE SMEATON. ibid. pages 381 

"The figure therefore corresponds with the Lord's entrance into heaven immediately after His death, when soul and body were sundered, and not with the idea of a triumphant entrance into heaven, as it took place at His ascension, with all the jubilee belonging to a coronation day. In the type, everything assumes that the whole was completed on the atonement day. And Christ's resurrection on the third day, equivalent and parallel to the return of the high priest from the holy of holies, was a proof that He had entered with His own blood, and been accepted. The confusion which has arisen on this subject is owing to the fact that writers have not duly distinguished between the Aaronic priesthood and the Melchizedek priesthood

When we look at the passage before us, other indications incline the balance in the same direction. Thus, the words, "He entered by His own blood" plainly speak of a separation between soul and body. They cannot naturally be expounded in any other way. "

ROBERT LEWIS DABNEY (1820-1898), Systematic Theology, Banner of Truth 1985, page 759.

"Now, the main idea of baptism is purification: and the element applied, the detergent element of nature, symbolizes the two-fold application of Christ's satisfaction (called His blood) ... "

C.H. SPURGEON (1834-1892). Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 1886, Volume 32, page 123.

"I. FIRST, WHAT IS IT? What is this "blood of sprinkling"? In a few words, "the blood of sprinkling" represents the pains, the sufferings, the humiliation, and the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, which he endured on the behalf of guilty man. When we speak of the blood, we wish not to be understood as referring solely or mainly to the literal material blood which flowed from the wounds of Jesus. We believe in the literal fact of his shedding his blood; but when we speak of his cross and blood we mean those sufferings and that death of our Lord Jesus Christ by which he magnified the law of God; we mean what Isaiah intended when he said, "He shall make his soul an offering for sin"; we mean all the griefs which Jesus vicariously endured on our behalf at Gethsemane, and Gabbatha, and Golgotha, and specially his yielding up his life upon the tree of scorn and doom. "The chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed." "Without shedding of blood there is no remission"; and the shedding of blood intended is the death of Jesus, the son of God.

Remember that his sufferings and death were not apparent only, but true and real; and that they involved an incalculable degree of pain and anguish. To redeem our souls cost our Lord an exceeding sorrowfulness "even unto death"; it cost him the bloody sweat, the heart broken with reproach, and specially the agony of being forsaken of his Father, till he cried, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Our Mediator endured death under the worst possible aspects, bereft of those supports which are in all other cases of godly men afforded by the goodness and faithfulness of God. His was not merely a natural death, but a death aggravated by supernatural circumstance, which infinitely intensified its woe. This is what we mean by the blood of Christ, his sufferings, and his death."

JOHN MACLEOD (1872-1948). Scottish Theology, Banner of Truth 1974, page 184

"It has often been said that there is such merit in the blood of the Cross that one drop is enough to redeem a sinner. This hyperbolical mode of speech leaves out of account that the one drop which in that case will save must be the last drop that the Lord shed in giving His life as a ransom for many."

LORAINE BOETTNER, The Millennium, Presbyterian and Reformed, 1972, page 85

"The word "blood" is used repeatedly in a figurative sense with reference to the suffering and death of Christ through which salvation was purchased on Calvary, e.g., "... in whom we have our redemption through his blood" (Eph. 1:7); "... the blood of an eternal covenant" (Heb. 13.20); "... and they washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rev. 7:14; etc.)."

JOHN MURRAY (1898-1975). Redemption Accomplished and Applied, Eerdmans 1955, page 53

"In connection with redemption from the guilt of sin the blood of Christ as substitutionary ransom and as the ransom price of our release is brought distinctly into view. The ransom utterances of our Lord (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45) show beyond question that he interpreted the purpose of his coming into the world in terms of substitutionary ransom and that this ransom was nothing less than the giving of his life. And, in the usage of the New Testament, the giving of his life is the same as the shedding of his blood. Redemption, therefore, in our Lord's view consisted in substitutionary blood-shedding or blood-shedding in the room and stead of many with the end in view of thereby purchasing to himself the many on whose behalf he gave his life a ransom. It is this same notion that is reproduced in the apostolic teaching. Although the terminology is not precisely that of redemption, we cannot mistake the redemptive import of Paul's statement in his charge to the elders of Ephesus when he refers "to the church of God, which he hath purchased through his own blood" (Acts 20:28). "

JOHN MURRAY. Ibid, page 56

"It was with depth of meaning that the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews wrote that Jesus partook of flesh and blood "that through death he might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is the devil, and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb. 2:14, 15). "

JOHN MURRAY. Commentary on Romans, Eerdmans 1977, Volume 1 page 174 (on Romans 5:9&10)

"The death of Christ is synonymous with the blood of Christ" "

KENNETH SMITH 'The Blood of the Everlasting Covenant' in Free Church Witness, March 2005, page 4

"He must also pay for their sins by suffering and dying in their place. His blood must be shed to redeem them. 

The Blood

When we speak of the blood of Christ, we refer to His offering the sacrifice of Himself to satisfy divine justice on our behalf. Personally innocent, He would take the sinner's place, answer for the sins of His people, and be counted as guilty before God's justice. It is more that the literal piercing of His side by the Roman soldier. They did indeed pierce His side and blood and water flowed out, as was foretold in Scripture. The shedding of blood indicates the taking of a life. This is shown early in the Scriptures where God said to Cain concerning his murdered brother, 'the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground'. Concerning the Levitical sacrifices the Lord said, 'The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul'. When the paschal lamb was slain the blood had to be shed and sprinkled. Those offerings never made 'the comers thereunto perfect'; they had no saving efficacy in them. However, they foreshadowed the only blood that could bring salvation.

Amazing Condescension

The blood of the 'everlasting covenant', is the blood of the 'Man' Christ Jesus."

Rev. Andrew A. Bonar, Commentary on the book of Leviticus, London 1846.

(1)  Page 7.  The blood was then “sprinkled round about upon the altar.”  The life taken away, the sinner’s naked soul is exhibited!  He deserves this stroke of death - death in the Lord’s presence - as a satisfaction to his holiness!  Just as the blood that covered the door on the night of the Passover represented the inmates’ life as already taken, so the blood on the altar and its sides signified that the offerer’s life was forfeited and taken.  It was thus that Jesus “poured out his soul unto death” for us.

(2)  Page 127.  Because the blood was set apart to represent life poured out as an atonement.  How often was the stream of Calvary thus made to flow within their view! 

(3)  Page 304.  The grand reason for this jealousy over the use of the blood is, “the blood is the life.”  It shews atonement when poured out, for it expresses the life taken; “Thou  shalt die.”  To you, sinner, what should be more tremendous than the sign of your own life taken?   And to your God, O sinner, nothing is more solemnly glorious than the blood of his own Son.  Earth and heaven stand still when blood is poured out. 

(4)  Page 432 - 433.  Our Saviour needed to be our “kinsman” in order to possess a right to offer the price of redemption.  Hence, he took our very nature, and was “bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh.”  (Ephesians, 5-30.)  Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same.”  (Heb. 2-14.)...........He loved “the children;” and since they had flesh and blood, lo! therefore, he must out of love  insist on taking the same!  And it is done.  He is born of Mary’s substance, yet continuing holy, harmless, undefiled.

Abraham Kyper, Pulpit Legends, Page 453.

The blood of atonement means, not those particular drops which flowed from the cross, and were lost in the inhospitable ground of Calvary, but a treasure in the living Christ     unceasingly at work in heaven by which he enriches his children on earth, the glorious power of Christ they know and experience by the work of the Holy Spirit.

 

Rev. Thomas Houston, Knockbracken, Reformed Oresbyterian Church. The Dominion and Glory of Christ, Edinburgh, 1880.       

(1)  Page 58-59.  “Again, redemption complete by His blood is His wonderful work.  This is the effect and application of the death of the Redeemer. How amazingly pregnant and expressive is the ascription--- “Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.”  With swelling hearts and loud voice the ransomed exclaim, “We have reason above all others to praise Thee for Thy atoning death, for by it we, who were lost in sin and sold into captivity, are redeemed to God, and made heirs of salvation.”

(2) Page 261. “This washing from sin in Christ’s blood implies, First, That the blood was shed as an atoning sacrifice, Vicarious suffering is the central idea of sacrifice. The sin if the offerer is regarded as transferred to the substitutionary victim; and hence is accounted guilty and punished as such.  The Saviour died not merely nor chiefly as an example, but in our room and stead, ”the Just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” “The Lord caused to meet upon Him the iniquity of us all”.

(3) Page 262.   “When the Spirit applies the blood of atonement, the righteousness of Christ is imputed, guilt is cancelled, and sin, in its demerit and penal consequences, is forever put away. There is “no condemnation” nor ever will be for them that are in Christ Jesus.  The pardon obtained through His blood is full, free, and everlasting. In the death of the Redeemer avenging justice has obtained all its due, and, in consequence, the guilty go free.  Sin, as to its guilt, is completely cancelled, so that it can never rise again in the judgement.”

Rev. David Armstrong, 1790 - 1838, Hamilton Street Reformed Presbyterian Church, Glasgow.  Sermons Doctrinal and Practical, Edinburgh 1838.

(1) Page 40. “Here the price was truly precious. “For as much as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by vain tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 1 Peter 1:18-19.  The blood of Christ is an expression which frequently occurs in Scripture, and by an attentive reader, can scarcely be misunderstood.  It denotes here, the death and sufferings of Christ, considered as an atonement for the souls of sinners.  Of that blood it was said, that it was the life; and Christ gave his life for his people.  By that blood, atonement was made for the soul, and Jesus made atonement by His death.” (2) Page 46. “Who his own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 1 Peter 2:24.  “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” 1 Peter 3:18. These passages represent the nature of those sufferings which he endured, and what constituted the price, and what is here included in the blood, were all that he suffered while here below-- all the obedience which he gave to the law--all that he endured in his soul-- all his agonies unto death. These are represented by the blood; and which as a price he presented unto God.” (3) Page 65.  “Christ Jesus, by the sacrifice of himself, opened a new and living way, and as the High Priest, entered by the blood of calves and goats - not merely with them, but by them, or in virtue of them; so Christ opened up a way by his own blood, by the shedding of it, as stated in Hebrews 9:11+12.  By his own blood, on the footing of it he entered; this opened a way -- by his blood, that is, his life; for the blood is the life -- blood, his atonement; for the blood was appointed to make atonement; -- blood, his righteousness; for he became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.”

Loraine Boettner, TH,M, D.D. Studies in Theology, Wm B Erdmans, 1953.

(1) Page 279.  “The term “blood” as used in theological language is, of course, to be understood as a figure of speech. It is used as a synonym for Christ’s atoning death, and it designates the price which He paid for the redemption of His people.” (2) Page 281.  “So let none take offense at the term “blood.” Since salvation was purchased for us by the vicarious suffering and death of Christ, and since that suffering and death is symbolized by the blood, it is but natural that both the Old and New Testament should mention the blood repeatedly.” 

 

William Taylor, Gracehill, Co. Antrim.  The Glorification on the Cross, Moravian Publication Office, 1897.

(1) Page 56.  “Hebrews 11:14, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same (both flesh and blood);  in order that through the death (therein involved) he might destroy him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil”  Here it is emphatically declared that the blood, of which the Son of God became partaker in His human nature, was human, mortal, and therefore corruptible, as being the blood of Jesus.”

Robert Chalmers, Minister of the Gospel at Haddington, Sermons by, 1798

(1) Page 363.  “We are not to conceive he, (the Lord Jesus Christ), carried material blood into heaven, in the same way that the typical high priest brought the blood of slain beasts into the most holy place.  But by his own blood, we are, chiefly, to understand the whole mediatory service and sufferings of his humbled state, which were finished in his death.  His entering by his own blood, means his appearing in heaven with all the value, worth, and efficacy of the atoning sacrifice that he offered upon earth.  He entered the holiest of all, not with the blood of others, but in virtue of his own precious blood.”