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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Saturday Evening, July 16, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling” (Hebrews 12:24).

John Bengel was born in Germany in 1687. He graduated from the University of Tubingen and entered the Lutheran ministry in 1707, after which he became a professor at Denkendorf, a position he held from 1713 to 1741. He continued teaching in two other German schools until his retirement in 1749. He died in 1752.

Bengel’s most important contributions were in New Testament criticism and the exposition of Scripture. He is considered the “father of textual criticism.” Much evil has flowed out of this field over the years since his death, but Bengel was far more conservative in his approach than those who followed him. By far, his most important evangelical work was in his exposition and explanation of the Scriptures.

Bengel’s exegetical commentary on the New Testament, in two volumes, is considered his greatest work. That commentary, written in the last ten years of his life (1742-1752) has had considerable influence on Biblical studies in Germany, and was favored by John Wesley and other leading preachers in the First Great Awakening. “It is still valuable to scholars even today” (H. H. House, in Who’s Who in Christian History, J. D. Douglas, editor, Tyndale, 1992, p. 77).

The point in John Bengel’s commentary which is under fire today concerns his comments on the Blood of Christ, primarily given in his section on “the blood of sprinkling” in Hebrews 12:24. I consider this verse to be the clearest statement of Christ’s Blood existing in Heaven which is given in the New Testament. The last thing that is listed in Hebrews 12:24 is

“the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:24).

In Hebrews 12:18-21 we are given a list of things on Mount Sinai, which the writer of Hebrews says we “are not come unto” (Hebrews 12:18). We are then presented with a list of things that we “are come unto” in Mount Sion. These two lists show the difference between the seven things that are “come to” on Mount Sinai, which all pertain to law, and the seven things on Mount Sion. In verses 22-24, we are told to “come unto mount Sion.” Seven things are listed there.

1. The city of the living God.

2. An innumerable company of angels.

3. The general assembly of the firstborn, which are written in heaven.

4. God the judge of all.

5. The spirits of just men made perfect.

6. Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.

7. The blood of sprinkling.

The first of this list of things in Mount Sion is “the city of the living God.” No one has argued that the next five things are not there, in “the city of the living God.” The argument of John MacArthur and others, who in a general way follow him, is that number 7 alone does not appear in the “city of the living God,” in Heaven.

In his commentary on Hebrews, Dr. MacArthur admits that “The Mountain of the New Covenant is Mount Zion, representing the heavenly Jerusalem” (John MacArthur, D.D., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary on Hebrews, Moody Press, 1983, p. 413). He thus admits that the seven things listed in verses 22-24 are in Heaven. But when he comes to the last one, “the blood of sprinkling,” he fails to mention that this, also, is in Heaven. After he lists several verses, he ends by simply saying, “Jesus’ blood, however, was sufficient.” His choice of the word “was” is significant in the light of many other statements he has made, such as,

Nothing is said which would indicate that Christ carried His actual physical blood with him into the heavenly sanctuary (John MacArthur, D.D., The MacArthur Study Bible, Word Bibles, 1997, note on Hebrews 9:12, p. 1910).

This is where the controversy begins, for Dr. MacArthur admits that the six other elements are indeed in the Heavenly place. It is only the last element, “the blood of sprinkling,” that he excludes from Heaven by saying

Nothing is said which would indicate that Christ carried His actual physical blood with him into the heavenly sanctuary (ibid.).

While that may or may not be true to the Scriptures, the fact remains that the Bible plainly tells us that “the blood of sprinkling” is there (Hebrews 12:24). We are not told how it got there, in this verse. We are only told that it is there. Dr. MacArthur dodges the issue, for he has not told us how he thinks the Blood got there!

An open-minded man must be forced by the plain words of Scripture to believe that the Blood is there, based on the words of Hebrews 12:24. How it got there is not explained in this verse, but there it is, nonetheless. “The blood of sprinkling” is clearly listed as the seventh thing that is in Heaven. That point is settled by Hebrews 12:24. When the Word of God speaks so plainly, it is dangerous to reject it.

Which brings us back to Bengel. John Bengel was a great scholar. His commentary on Hebrews “is still valuable to us today” (ibid.). And it was Bengel, back in the 1740’s, who delved deeply into how “the blood of sprinkling” made its way into “The city of the living God…unto Mount Sion.”

Some of Dr. MacArthur’s students and associates have rather bitterly attacked Bengel on this point. They call him a “German.” But what does his nationality have to do with his exegesis of the Bible? They call him “a Bible critic.” But what does his work in the field of early Biblical criticism have to do with the writing in his commentary on Hebrews? I do not see that this has any influence in this area, for he treats the Scriptures in Hebrews with great respect, and deals with them in a strictly literal sense, something that Dr. MacArthur often fails to do on the subject of the Blood.

Bengel is an honest man, trying to get at the root of this question: how did “the blood of sprinkling” find its way into “Mount Sion, the city of the living God”? (Hebrews 12:22-24). Nor will I accept MacArthur and his associates’ slur that Bengel was a Lutheran. Are we to believe that he is disqualified from sound exegesis of the Bible simply because he belonged to another denomination? This hardly seems to be a fair way to deal with the man’s comments on this vital subject.

Now we come directly to what Bengel said. And I will quote him freely, with one comment at the end. Bengel argued at length that Christ’s Blood is actually preserved in Heaven. I am condensing his discussion, retaining its essential features.

1.  The blood of Jesus Christ was freely shed in His passion and after His death. In the Old Testament sacrifice, the shedding of blood was required. This was accomplished also in the one offering of the New Testament - the body of Jesus. His most precious blood was shed in every way: in the garden, by sweat; in the palace, by scourging; on the cross, by nails; and after death, by the spear. Thus Christ was manifestly put to death in the flesh, I Peter 3:18…As His whole body was delivered up, so His whole blood was shed: Matthew 26:28.

2.  The state of shed blood followed the actual shedding of that blood. By the state of shed blood we mean the whole period, short or long, of its continuance out of the Lord’s body.

3.  That blood, even in its shed state, was free from all
corruption. We “were not redeemed with corruptible things…but with the precious blood of Christ,” I Peter 1:18-19. The preciousness of that blood excludes all corruption.

4.  The shed blood was not again put into the veins of our Lord’s body. Scripture gives no direct intimation of such an act; nor is it to be deduced from Scripture by fair inference.

5.  At the Ascension, the blood was carried into heaven, apart from the body. The Ascension was the entrance of the Priest of the New Testament into the true sanctuary…Moreover, Christ entered into the sanctuary by his own blood; not merely by the force of its shedding, nor with the blood taken back into the body, but BY the blood: therefore this Priest Himself carried into the sanctuary His own blood separately from His body; and at the very time of His entrance or ascension Christ had His blood apart from His body. In the body it would not have agreed with the type of the priest under the Old Testament, who bore into the sanctuary the blood of animals. See Hebrews 9:7, 25, and especially verse 12.

6.  The blood of Jesus Christ remains shed blood forever…The sacred writings present the body and blood as divided, not only in the sufferings and death of our Lord, but also in the Lord’s Supper. Examine…I Corinthians 11:24-25. And they are considered as distinct, because there is an actual distinction or separation in their existence. Therefore the blood, as shed, is still in heaven before the eyes of God; it still speaks to us; it is still the blood of sprinkling: I Peter 1:2. Hence too, here the blood of sprinkling is named apart from Jesus Himself…

7.  This fact was recognized by the ancient Teachers of the Church. The fathers generally agreed that the body of the Lord is now bloodless…

8.  The personal union and the state of shed blood harmonize.

9.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ, and His life in glory, do not set aside the state of the shed blood…

10. This doctrine of the shed blood very strongly confirms communion in both kinds. The relation of the body and the blood of the Lord in the sacred Supper are most distinct. First, He says, This is my body: next, This is my blood… (I Corinthians 11:24-25). [The Lord’s Supper clearly shows that the Blood of Christ and the Body of Christ are two distinct entities. Thus, the two distinct elements of the Lord’s Supper show that Dr. MacArthur is wrong when he says, “Blood is used as a substitute for death,” The MacArthur Study Bible, note on Hebrews 9:14. Again, Dr. MacArthur said, “I believe that to speak of Christ’s blood, as it was shed on the cross, is the same as referring to His death. They aren’t two separate elements,” Closing Statement, June, 1988. But the Lord’s Supper shows that Dr. MacArthur is wrong. They are two separate elements!].

I have condensed Bengel’s comments and added this closing note. Bengel ends this section on Hebrews 12:24 with these words,

I shall indeed rejoice, if what I have said occasion any increase of the love and knowledge of our Redeemer, who has paid the price of His blood for us… (John Albert Bengel, Bengel’s New Testament Commentary, Kregel Publications, 1981 reprint, volume 2, pp. 678-679).

Let us stand and read I Corinthians 11:24-25 aloud.

“And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me” 
      (I Corinthians 11:24-25).

You may be seated.

Dr. MacArthur said, “To speak of Christ’s blood…is the same as referring to His death. They aren’t two separate elements.” I’m sorry, but each time we take the Lord’s Supper we show that he is wrong. They are two separate elements!

And when we get to Heaven, we will see all seven things listed in
 Hebrews 12:22-24:

1. The city of the living God.

2. An innumerable company of angels.

3. The general assembly of the firstborn.

4. God the judge of all.

5. The spirits of just men made perfect.

6. Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.

7. And the blood of sprinkling!


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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling” (Hebrews 12:24).

(Hebrews 12:18-21, 22-24; I Peter 3:18; Matthew 26:28; I Peter 1:18-19;
Hebrews 9:7, 25, 12; I Corinthians 11:24-25; I Peter 1:2)