As those high priests.--The high priest's offering up sacrifices first for himself and then for the people constituted a chief part of his duty upon the Day of Atonement. (See Hebrews 5:3.) The annual recurrence of that day is distinctly referred to more than once in this Epistle (see Hebrews 9:25; Hebrews 10:1; Hebrews 10:3): hence the words now before us, which seem to imply daily sacrifices thus offered by the high priests, have given rise to much discussion. Neither the morning and evening sacrifices nor the daily meat-offering of the high priest could have been spoken of in the terms here used, which in their natural meaning suit the ritual of the Day of Atonement, and that alone. It is true--and passages of Philo and the Talmud are appositely quoted to illustrate the fact--that, as the high priest was represented by all other priests, their actions were counted as his; but it seems impossible to think that the words have no more significance than this. Either we must take "daily" as equivalent to "day by day" (as the Jews were accustomed to speak of the Day of Atonement as "the day"),--which will give us the meaning, "on each recurrence of this sacred day;" or we must connect the word, not with the Jewish high priests, but with Jesus alone. The order of the Greek would of itself suggest this latter arrangement of the words. If it is correct, the choice of the word "daily" presents but little difficulty. There could be no question of years in regard to the ministration of the Lord Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary; and "daily" was perhaps the most natural word in such a case, when the frequently stated repetition of a sacrifice was the thought to be expressed.
For this he did once.--Rather, once for all. These words and those that follow, "when He offered up Himself," are best understood as a parenthesis. The truth stated in the former part of the verse, that Jesus needeth not, like the high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then "for those of the people," finds its explanation in Hebrews 7:28, "For the Law," &c. But, having introduced the thought of a sacrifice for the sins of the people--a thought not yet expressly mentioned in any part of the Epistle in connection with Jesus, though virtually presented, as we have seen, in many earlier words--the writer will not pass on without the most emphatic statement that such a sacrifice was offered, once for all, in the sacrifice of Himself.
to offer up sacrifice first for his own sins and then for the people's; as they did on the day of atonement; see Leviticus 16:6 upon which place the Jews (c) make the same remark the apostle does here;
"he (the high priest, they say) offers sacrifices for the sins of the people, for his own "first", "and afterwards for the sins of the people":''
which was one reason of the imperfection and insufficiency of their sacrifices; but Christ needed not to offer for his own, nor could he, for he had none of his own; what he had was by imputation; wherefore he only needed to offer, and he only did offer, for the sins of the people; not of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles also, even of all God's covenant people; nor did he need to do this daily, as they did; they offered sacrifice daily, the common priests every day, morning and evening, and the high priest on a stated day once a year, on the day of atonement:
for this he did once, when he offered up himself; and in this also he differed from them; they offered not themselves, but what was inferior to themselves, and what could not take away sin, and, therefore, was repeated; but Christ offered himself, his whole human nature, soul and body, and both as in union with his divine nature; and this being offered to God freely and voluntarily, in the room and stead of his people, was acceptable to God: hereby justice was satisfied; the law fulfilled; sin taken away, and complete salvation obtained; so that there never was since any need of his offering again, nor never will be; which shows the perfection and fulness of his priesthood, and the preference of it to the Levitical one.
(c) Zohar in Lev. fol. 26. 4.