The New Testament Doctrine Of The Relation Of Christ’s Death To The Old Testament Sacrificial System -- By: William Hayes Ward

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 051:202 (Apr 1894)
Article: The New Testament Doctrine Of The Relation Of Christ’s Death To The Old Testament Sacrificial System
Author: William Hayes Ward


The New Testament Doctrine Of The Relation Of Christ’s Death To The Old Testament Sacrificial System

Rev. William Hayes Ward

The present paper is not a study in constructive theology. Its sole and simple purpose is to collect and report, with not the least theological design, the evidence which shall give the view of the New Testament writers as to the relation of Jesus Christ to the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. I have tried, so far as I could, in reading the New Testament over and over again while studying the subject, to put aside all prepossession derived from any system of theology, and ask simply, What does the New Testament say on this subject? The question is not as to Christ as a Saviour, or as a suffering Saviour, or as one who saved us by his blood and death, nor is it any question about Christ’s sacrifice in any tropical or figurative sense of the word, meaning simply his self-denial or suffering or death. On that there can be no question—it is only the question what the New Testament teaches about the relation of Christ’s life or death to the Old Testament sacrificial system, and what was the thought of those writers as to Christ’s having or not having, as antitype, fulfilled a type found in the Jewish sacrifices, and provided and ordained to foreshadow the true and sufficient sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The New Testament writers believed that Christ suffered and died that men might be saved. Did his death have anything to do with the old sacrifices, and if so, what?

It is necessary, by way of introduction, to recall what are the Old Testament ordinances of sacrifice. We must remember that there were a number of different kinds of sacrifice, having different meanings. The following may be mentioned: —

1. The covenant sacrifice. This is not provided for in the Jewish ritual. The illustration of it is the sacrifice at the time of the covenant of God with Abraham, when God passed between the severed parts of the she-goat, the ram, the turtledove, and the pigeon. Its purpose was to add solemnity and sanction to the immutable promise made in the covenant between the parties.

2. The peace offering. This was a sort of thank offering, an expression of gratitude to God, and thousands of animals were offered on special occasions, such as the dedication of the temple. It was the kind of offering made on festal occasions; and accordingly the household which offered it ate it before the Lord, the Lord being conceived as partaking of it and pleased with its sweet odor, while a portion, the breast and right shoulder, was given to the priest. The sentiment, or purpose, connected with this sacrifice was grateful acknowledgment and joy.

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