The Jewish tabernacle and its utensils. (1-5) Their use and meaning. (6-10) These fulfilled in Christ. (11-22) The necessity, superior dignity, and power of his priesthood and sacrifice. (23-28)
Verses 1-5 The apostle shows to the Hebrews the typical reference of their ceremonies to Christ. The tabernacle was a movable temple, shadowing forth the unsettled state of the church upon earth, and the human nature of the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom the fulness of the Godhead dwelt bodily. The typical meaning of these things has been shown in former remarks, and the ordinances and articles of the Mosaic covenant point out Christ as our Light, and as the Bread of life to our souls; and remind us of his Divine Person, his holy priesthood, perfect righteousness, and all-prevailing intercession. Thus was the Lord Jesus Christ, all and in all, from the beginning. And as interpreted by the gospel, these things are a glorious representation of the wisdom of God, and confirm faith in Him who was prefigured by them.
Verses 6-10 The apostle goes on to speak of the Old Testament services. Christ, having undertaken to be our High Priest, could not enter into heaven till he had shed his blood for us; and none of us can enter, either into God's gracious presence here, or his glorious presence hereafter, but by the blood of Jesus. Sins are errors, great errors, both in judgment and practice; and who can understand all his errors? They leave guilt upon the conscience, not to be washed away but by the blood of Christ. We must plead this blood on earth, while he is pleading it for us in heaven. A few believers, under the Divine teaching, saw something of the way of access to God, of communion with him, and of admission into heaven through the promised Redeemer, but the Israelites in general looked no further than the outward forms. These could not take away the defilement or dominion of sin. They could neither discharge the debts, nor resolve the doubts, of him who did the service. Gospel times are, and should be, times of reformation, of clearer light as to all things needful to be known, and of greater love, causing us to bear ill-will to none, but good-will to all. We have greater freedom, both of spirit and speech, in the gospel, and greater obligations to a more holy living.
Verses 11-14 All good things past, present, and to come, were and are founded upon the priestly office of Christ, and come to us from thence. Our High Priest entered into heaven once for all, and has obtained eternal redemption. The Holy Ghost further signified and showed that the Old Testament sacrifices only freed the outward man from ceremonial uncleanness, and fitted him for some outward privileges. What gave such power to the blood of Christ? It was Christ's offering himself without any sinful stain in his nature or life. This cleanses the most guilty conscience from dead, or deadly, works to serve the living God; from sinful works, such as pollute the soul, as dead bodies did the persons of the Jews who touched them; while the grace that seals pardon, new-creates the polluted soul. Nothing more destroys the faith of the gospel, than by any means to weaken the direct power of the blood of Christ. The depth of the mystery of the sacrifice of Christ, we cannot dive into, the height we cannot comprehend. We cannot search out the greatness of it, or the wisdom, the love, the grace that is in it. But in considering the sacrifice of Christ, faith finds life, food, and refreshment.
Verses 15-22 The solemn transactions between God and man, are sometimes called a covenant, here a testament, which is a willing deed of a person, bestowing legacies on such persons as are described, and it only takes effect upon his death. Thus Christ died, not only to obtain the blessings of salvation for us, but to give power to the disposal of them. All, by sin, were become guilty before God, had forfeited every thing that is good; but God, willing to show the greatness of his mercy, proclaimed a covenant of grace. Nothing could be clean to a sinner, not even his religious duties; except as his guilt was done away by the death of a sacrifice, of value sufficient for that end, and unless he continually depended upon it. May we ascribe all real good works to the same all-procuring cause, and offer our spiritual sacrifices as sprinkled with Christ's blood, and so purified from their defilement.
Verses 23-28 It is evident that the sacrifices of Christ are infinitely better than those of the law, which could neither procure pardon for sin, nor impart power against it. Sin would still have been upon us, and have had dominion over us; but Jesus Christ, by one sacrifice, has destroyed the works of the devil, that believers may be made righteous, holy, and happy. As no wisdom, learning, virtue, wealth, or power, can keep one of the human race from death, so nothing can deliver a sinner from being condemned at the day of judgment, except the atoning sacrifice of Christ; nor will one be saved from eternal punishment who despises or neglects this great salvation. The believer knows that his Redeemer liveth, and that he shall see him. Here is the faith and patience of the church, of all sincere believers. Hence is their continual prayer as the fruit and expression of their faith, Even so come, Lord Jesus.
Hebrews 9:1-28 . INFERIORITY OF THE OLD TO THE NEW COVENANT IN THE MEANS OF ACCESS TO GOD: THE BLOOD OF BULLS AND GOATS OF NO REAL AVAIL: THE BLOOD OF CHRIST ALL-SUFFICIENT TO PURGE AWAY SIN, WHENCE FLOWS OUR HOPE OF HIS APPEARING AGAIN FOR OUR PERFECT SALVATION.
1. Then verily--Greek, "Accordingly then." Resuming the subject from Hebrews 8:5 . In accordance with the command given to Moses, "the first covenant had," &c.
had--not "has," for as a covenant it no longer existed, though its rites were observed till the destruction of Jerusalem.
ordinances--of divine right and institution.
a worldly sanctuary--Greek, "its (literally, 'the') sanctuary worldly," mundane; consisting of the elements of the visible world. Contrasted with the heavenly sanctuary. Compare Hebrews 9:11 Hebrews 9:12 , "not of this building," Hebrews 9:24 . Material, outward, perishing (however precious its materials were), and also defective religiously. In Hebrews 9:2-5 , "the worldly sanctuary" is discussed; in Hebrews 9:6 , &c., the "ordinances of worship." The outer tabernacle the Jews believed, signified this world; the Holy of Holies, heaven. JOSEPHUS calls the outer, divided into two parts, "a secular and common place," answering to "the earth and sea"; and the inner holiest place, the third part, appropriated to God and not accessible to men.
2. Defining "the worldly tabernacle."
a tabernacle--"the tabernacle."
made--built and furnished.
the first--the anterior tabernacle.
candlestick . . . table--typifying light and life ( Exodus 25:31-39 ). The candlestick consisted of a shaft and six branches of gold, seven in all, the bowls made like almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch. It was carried in Vespasian's triumph, and the figure is to be seen on Titus' arch at Rome. The table of shittim wood, covered with gold, was for the showbread ( Exodus 25:23-30 ).
showbread--literally, "the setting forth of the loaves," that is, the loaves set forth: "the show of the bread" [ALFORD]. In the outer holy place: so the Eucharist continues until our entrance into the heavenly Holy of Holies ( 1 Corinthians 11:26 ).
which, &c.--"which (tabernacle) is called the holy place," as distinguished from "the Holy of Holies."
3. And--Greek, "But."
second veil--There were two veils or curtains, one before the Holy of Holies (catapetasma), here alluded to, the other before the tabernacle door (calumma).
called--as opposed to "the true."
4. golden censer--The Greek, must not be translated "altar of incense," for it was not in "the holiest" place "after the second veil," but in "the holy place"; but as in 2 Chronicles 26:19 , and Ezekiel 8:11 , "censer": so Vulgate and Syriac. This GOLDEN censer was only used on the day of atonement (other kinds of censers on other days), and is therefore associated with the holiest place, as being taken into it on that anniversary by the high priest. The expression "which had," does not mean that the golden censer was deposited there, for in that case the high priest would have had to go in and bring it out before burning incense in it; but that the golden censer was one of the articles belonging to, and used for, the yearly service in the holiest place. He virtually supposes (without specifying) the existence of the "altar of incense" in the anterior holy place, by mentioning the golden censer filled with incense from it: the incense answers to the prayers of the saints; and the altar though outside the holiest place, is connected with it (standing close by the second veil, directly before the ark of the covenant), even as we find an antitypical altar in heaven. The rending of the veil by Christ has brought the antitypes to the altar, candlestick, and showbread of the anterior holy place into the holiest place, heaven. In 1 Kings 6:22 , Hebrew, "the altar" is said to belong to the oracle, or holiest place (compare Exodus 30:6 ).
ark--of shittim wood, that is, acacia. Not in the second temple, but in its stead was a stone basement (called "the stone of foundation"), three fingers high.
pot--"golden," added in the Septuagint, and sanctioned by Paul.
manna--an omer, each man's daily portion. In 1 Kings 8:9 , 2 Chronicles 5:10 , it is said there was nothing in the ark of Solomon's temple save the two stone tables of the law put in by Moses. But the expression that there was nothing THEN therein save the two tables, leaves the inference to be drawn that formerly there were the other things mentioned by the Rabbis and by Paul here, the pot of manna (the memorial of God's providential care of Israel) and the rod of Aaron, the memorial of the lawful priesthood ( Numbers 17:3 Numbers 17:5 Numbers 17:7 Numbers 17:10 ). The expressions "before the Lord" ( Exodus 16:32 ), and "before the testimony" ( Numbers 17:10 ) thus mean, "IN the ark." "In," however, may be used here (as the corresponding Hebrew word) as to things attached to the ark as appendages, as the book of the law was put "in the side of the ark," and so the golden jewels offered by the Philistines ( 1 Samuel 6:8 ).
tables of the covenant--( Deuteronomy 9:9 , 10:2 ).
5. over it--over "the ark of the covenant."
cherubim--representing the ruling powers by which God acts in the moral and natural world. ministering angels; but mostly to the elect redeemed, by whom God shall hereafter rule the world and set forth His manifold wisdom: redeemed humanity, combining in, and with itself, the highest forms of subordinate creaturely life; not angels. They stand on the mercy seat, and on that ground become the habitation of God, from which His glory is to shine upon the world. They expressly say, Revelation 5:8-10 , "Thou hast redeemed us." They are there distinguished from the angels, and associated with the elders. They were of one piece with the mercy seat, even as the Church is one with Christ: their sole standing is on the blood-sprinkled mercy seat; they gaze down at it as the redeemed shall for ever; they are "the habitation of God through the Spirit."
of glory--The cherubim were bearers of the divine glory, whence, perhaps, they derive their name. The Shekinah, or cloud of glory, in which Jehovah appeared between the cherubim over the mercy seat, the lid of the ark, is doubtless the reference. THOLUCK thinks the twelve loaves of the showbread represent the twelve tribes of the nation, presented as a community before God consecrated to Him (just as in the Lord's Supper believers, the spiritual Israel, all partaking of the one bread, and becoming one bread and one body, present themselves before the Lord as consecrated to Him, 1 Corinthians 10:16 1 Corinthians 10:17 ); the oil and light, the pure knowledge of the Lord, in which the covenant people are to shine (the seven (lights), implying perfection); the ark of the covenant, the symbol of God's kingdom in the old covenant, and representing God dwelling among His own; the ten commandments in the ark, the law as the basis of union between God and man; the mercy seat covering the law and sprinkled with the blood of atonement for the collective sin of the people, God's mercy [in Christ] stronger than the law; the cherubim, the personified [redeemed] creation, looking down on the mercy seat, where God's mercy, and God's law, are set forth as the basis of creation.
mercy seat--Greek, "the propitiatory": the golden cover of the ark, on which was sprinkled the blood of the propitiatory sacrifice on the day of atonement; the footstool of Jehovah, the meeting place of Him and His people.
we cannot--conveniently: besides what met the eye in the sanctuary, there were spiritual realities symbolized which it would take too long to discuss in detail, our chief subject at present being the priesthood and the sacrifices. "Which" refers not merely to the cherubim, but to all the contents of the sanctuary enumerated in Hebrews 9:2-5 .
6. The use made of the sanctuary so furnished by the high priest on the anniversary of atonement.
always--twice at the least every day, for the morning and evening care of the lamps, and offering of incense ( Exodus 30:7 Exodus 30:8 ).
went--Greek, "enter": present tense.
7. once every year--the tenth day of the seventh month. He entered within the veil on that day twice at least. Thus "once" means here on the one occasion only. The two, or possibly more, entrances on that one day were regarded as parts of the one whole.
not without blood--( Hebrews 8:3 ).
errors--Greek, "ignorances": "inadvertent errors." They might have known, as the law was clearly promulged, and they were bound to study it; so that their ignorance was culpable (compare Acts 3:17 , Ephesians 4:18 , 1 Peter 1:14 ). Though one's ignorance may mitigate one's punishment ( Luke 12:48 ), it does not wholly exempt from punishment.
8. The Holy Ghost--Moses himself did not comprehend the typical meaning ( 1 Peter 1:11 1 Peter 1:12 ).
signifying--by the typical exclusion of all from the holiest, save the high priest once a year.
the holiest of all--heaven, the antitype.
the first tabernacle--the anterior tabernacle, representative of the whole Levitical system. While it (the first tabernacle, and that which represents the Levitical system) as yet "has a standing" (so the Greek, that is, "has continuance": "lasts"), the way to heaven (the antitypical "holiest place") is not yet made manifest (compare Hebrews 10:19 Hebrews 10:20 ). The Old Testament economy is represented by the holy place, the New Testament economy by the Holy of Holies. Redemption, by Christ, has opened the Holy of Holies (access to heaven by faith now, Hebrews 4:16 , Hebrews 7:19 Hebrews 7:25 , Hebrews 10:19 Hebrews 10:22 ; by sight hereafter, Isaiah 33:24 , Revelation 11:19 , Revelation 21:2 Revelation 21:3 ) to all mankind. The Greek for "not yet" (me po) refers to the mind of the Spirit: the Spirit intimating that men should not think the way was yet opened [TITTMANN]. The Greek negative, "ou po," would deny the fact objectively; "me po" denies the thing subjectively.
9. Which--"The which," namely, anterior tabernacle: "as being that which was" [ALFORD].
figure--Greek, "parable": a parabolic setting forth of the character of the Old Testament.
for--"in reference to the existing time." The time of the temple-worship really belonged to the Old Testament, but continued still in Paul's time and that of his Hebrew readers. "The time of reformation" ( Hebrews 9:10 ) stands in contrast to this, "the existing time"; though, in reality, "the time of reformation," the New Testament time, was now present and existing. So "the age to come," is the phrase applied to the Gospel, because it was present only to believers, and its fulness even to them is still to come. Compare Hebrews 9:11 , "good things to come."
in which--tabernacle, not time, according to the reading of the oldest manuscripts. Or translate, "according to which" parabolic representation, or figure.
could not--Greek, "cannot": are not able.
him that did the service--any worshipper. The Greek is "latreuein," serve God, which is all men's duty; not "leitourgein," to serve in a ministerial office.
make . . . perfect--perfectly remove the sense of guilt, and sanctify inwardly through love.
as pertaining to the conscience--"in respect to the (moral-religious) consciousness." They can only reach as far as the outward flesh (compare "carnal ordinances," Hebrews 9:10 Hebrews 9:13 Hebrews 9:14 ).
stood--consisted in [ALFORD]; or, "have attached to them" only things which appertain to the use of foods, &c. The rites of meats, &c., go side by side with the sacrifices [THOLUCK and WAHL]; compare Colossians 2:16 .
drinks--( Leviticus 10:9 , 11:4 ). Usage subsequently to the law added many observances as to meats and drinks.
washings--( Exodus 29:4 ).
and carnal ordinances--One oldest manuscript, Syriac and Coptic, omit "and." "Carnal ordinances" stand in apposition to "sacrifices" ( Hebrews 9:9 ). Carnal (outward, affecting only the flesh) is opposed to spiritual. Contrast "flesh" with "conscience" ( Hebrews 9:13 Hebrews 9:14 ).
imposed--as a burden ( Acts 15:10 Acts 15:28 ) continually pressing heavy.
until the time of reformation--Greek, "the season of rectification," when the reality should supersede the type ( Hebrews 8:8-12 ). Compare "better," Hebrews 9:23 .
11. But--in contrast to "could not make . . . perfect" ( Hebrews 9:9 ).
Christ--The Messiah, of whom all the prophets foretold; not "Jesus" here. From whom the "reformation" ( Hebrews 9:10 ), or rectification, emanates, which frees from the yoke of carnal ordinances, and which is being realized gradually now, and shall be perfectly in the consummation of "the age (world) to come." "Christ . . . High Priest," exactly answers to Leviticus 4:5 , "the priest that is anointed."
being come an, &c.--rather, "having come forward (compare Hebrews 10:7 , a different Greek word, picturesquely presenting Him before us) as High Priest." The Levitical priests must therefore retire. Just as on the day of atonement, no work was done, no sacrifice was offered, or priest was allowed to be in the tabernacle while the high priest went into the holiest place to make atonement ( Leviticus 16:17 Leviticus 16:29 ). So not our righteousness, nor any other priest's sacrifice, but Christ alone atones; and as the high priest before offering incense had on common garments of a priest, but after it wore his holy garments of "glory and beauty" ( Exodus 28:2 Exodus 28:40 ) in entering the holiest, so Christ entered the heavenly holiest in His glorified body.
good things to come--Greek, "the good things to come," Hebrews 10:1 ; "better promises," ( Hebrews 8:6 ; the "eternal inheritance," Hebrews 9:15 , 1 Peter 1:4 ; the "things hoped for," Hebrews 11:1 ).
by a . . . tabernacle--joined with "He entered." Translate, "Through the . . . tabernacle" (of which we know) [ALFORD]. As the Jewish high priest passed through the anterior tabernacle into the holiest place, so Christ passed through heaven into the inner abode of the unseen and unapproachable God. Thus, "the tabernacle" here is the heavens through which He passed "the tabernacle" is also the glorified body of Christ of this building" (not of the mere natural "creation, but of the spiritual and heavenly, the new creation"), the Head of the mystical body, the Church. Through this glorified body He passes into the heavenly holiest place ( Hebrews 9:24 ), the immaterial, unapproachable presence of God, where He intercedes for us. His glorified body, as the meeting place of God and all Christ's redeemed, and the angels, answers to the heavens through which He passed, and passes. His body is opposed to the tabernacle, as His blood to the blood of goats, &c.
greater--as contrasted with the small dimensions of the earthly anterior tabernacle.
more perfect--effective in giving pardon, peace, sanctification, and access to closest communion with God (compare Hebrews 9:9 , Hebrews 10:1 ).
not made with hands--but by the Lord Himself ( Hebrews 8:2 ).
12. Neither--"Nor yet."
by--"through"; as the means of His approach.
goats . . . calves--not a bullock, such as the Levitical high priest offered for himself, and a goat for the people, on the day of atonement ( Leviticus 16:6 Leviticus 16:15 ), year by year, whence the plural is used, goats . . . calves. Besides the goat offered for the people the blood of which was sprinkled before the mercy seat, the high priest led forth a second goat, namely, the scapegoat; over it he confessed the people's sins, putting them on the head of the goat, which was sent as the sin-bearer into the wilderness out of sight, implying that the atonement effected by the goat sin offering (of which the ceremony of the scapegoat is a part, and not distinct from the sin offering) consisted in the transfer of the people's sins on the goat, and their consequent removal out of sight. The translation of sins on the victim usual in other expiatory sacrifices being omitted in the case of the slain goat, but employed in the case of the goat sent away, proved the two goats were regarded as one offering [ARCHBISHOP MAGEE]. Christ's death is symbolized by the slain goat; His resurrection to life by the living goat sent away. Modern Jews substitute in some places a cock for the goat as an expiation, the sins of the offerers being transferred to the entrails, and exposed on the housetop for the birds to carry out of sight, as the scapegoat did; the Hebrew for "man" and "cock" being similar, gebher [BUXTORF].
by--"through," as the means of His entrance; the key unlocking the heavenly Holy of Holies to Him. The Greek is forcible, "through THE blood of His own" (compare Hebrews 9:23 ).
once--"once for all."
having obtained--having thereby obtained; literally, "found for Himself," as a thing of insuperable difficulty to all save Divine Omnipotence, self-devoting zeal, and love, to find. The access of Christ to the Father was arduous ( Hebrews 5:7 ). None before had trodden the path.
eternal--The entrance of our Redeemer, once for all, into the heavenly holiest place, secures eternal redemption to us; whereas the Jewish high priest's entrance was repeated year by year, and the effect temporary and partial, "On redemption," compare Matthew 20:28 , Ephesians 1:7 , Colossians 1:14 , 1 Timothy 2:5 , Titus 2:14 , 1 Peter 1:19 .
Hebrews 9:13-28 . PROOF OF AND ENLARGEMENT ON, THE "ETERNAL REDEMPTION" MENTIONED IN Hebrews 9:12 .
For His blood, offered by Himself, purifies not only outwardly, as the Levitical sacrifices on the day of atonement, but inwardly unto the service of the living God ( Hebrews 9:13 Hebrews 9:14 ). His death is the inaugurating act of the new covenant, and of the heavenly sanctuary ( Hebrews 9:15-23 ). His entrance into the true Holy of Holies is the consummation of His once-for-all-offered sacrifice of atonement ( Hebrews 9:24 Hebrews 9:26 ); henceforth, His reappearance alone remains to complete our redemption ( Hebrews 9:27 Hebrews 9:28 ).
13. if--as we know is the case; so the Greek indicative means. Argument from the less to the greater. If the blood of mere brutes could purify in any, however small a degree, how much more shall inward purification, and complete and eternal salvation, be wrought by the blood of Christ, in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead?
ashes of an heifer--( Numbers 19:16-18 ). The type is full of comfort for us. The water of separation, made of the ashes of the red heifer, was the provision for removing ceremonial defilement whenever incurred by contact with the dead. As she was slain without the camp, so Christ (compare Hebrews 13:11 , Numbers 19:3 Numbers 19:4 ). The ashes were laid by for constant use; so the continually cleansing effects of Christ's blood, once for all shed. In our wilderness journey we are continually contracting defilement by contact with the spiritually dead, and with dead works, and need therefore continual application to the antitypical life-giving cleansing blood of Christ, whereby we are afresh restored to peace and living communion with God in the heavenly holy place.
the unclean--Greek, "those defiled" on any particular occasion.
the flesh--Their effect in themselves extended no further. The law had a carnal and a spiritual aspect; carnal, as an instrument of the Hebrew polity, God, their King, accepting, in minor offenses, expiatory victims instead of the sinner, otherwise doomed to death; spiritual, as the shadow of good things to come ( Hebrews 10:1 ). The spiritual Israelite derived, in partaking of these legal rights, spiritual blessings not flowing from them, but from the great antitype. Ceremonial sacrifices released from temporal penalties and ceremonial disqualifications; Christ's sacrifice releases from everlasting penalties ( Hebrews 9:12 ), and moral impurities on the conscience disqualifying from access to God ( Hebrews 9:14 ). The purification of the flesh (the mere outward man) was by "sprinkling"; the washing followed by inseparable connection ( Numbers 19:19 ). So justification is followed by renewing.
14. offered himself--The voluntary nature of the offering gives it especial efficacy. He "through the eternal Spirit," that is, His divine Spirit ( Romans 1:4 , in contrast to His "flesh," Hebrews 9:3 ; His Godhead, 1 Timothy 3:16 , 1 Peter 3:18 ), "His inner personality" [ALFORD], which gave a free consent to the act, offered Himself. The animals offered had no spirit or will to consent in the act of sacrifice; they were offered according to the law; they had a life neither enduring, nor of any intrinsic efficacy. But He from eternity, with His divine and everlasting Spirit, concurred with the Father's will of redemption by Him. His offering began on the altar of the cross, and was completed in His entering the holiest place with His blood. The eternity and infinitude of His divine Spirit (compare Hebrews 7:16 ) gives eternal ("eternal redemption," Hebrews 9:12 , also compare Hebrews 9:15 ) and infinite merit to His offering, so that not even the infinite justice of God has any exception to take against it. It was "through His most burning love, flowing from His eternal Spirit," that He offered Himself [OECOLAMPADIUS].
without spot--The animal victims had to be without outward blemish; Christ on the cross was a victim inwardly and essentially stainless ( 1 Peter 1:19 ).
purge--purify from fear, guilt, alienation from Him, and selfishness, the source of dead works ( Hebrews 9:22 Hebrews 9:23 ).
your--The oldest manuscripts read "our." The Vulgate, however, supports English Version reading.
conscience--moral religious consciousness.
dead works--All works done in the natural state, which is a state of sin, are dead; for they come not from living faith in, and love to, "the living God" ( Hebrews 11:6 ). As contact with a dead body defiled ceremonially (compare the allusion, "ashes of an heifer," Hebrews 9:13 ), so dead works defile the inner consciousness spiritually.
to serve--so as to serve. The ceremonially unclean could not serve God in the outward communion of His people; so the unrenewed cannot serve God in spiritual communion. Man's works before justification, however lifelike they look, are dead, and cannot therefore be accepted before the living God. To have offered a dead animal to God would have been an insult (compare Malachi 1:8 ); much more for a man not justified by Christ's blood to offer dead works. But those purified by Christ's blood in living faith do serve ( Romans 12:1 ), and shall more fully serve God ( Revelation 22:3 ).
living God--therefore requiring living spiritual service ( John 4:24 ).
15. for this cause--Because of the all-cleansing power of His blood, this fits Him to be Mediator ( Hebrews 8:6 , ensuring to both parties, God and us, the ratification) of the new covenant, which secures both forgiveness for the sins not covered by the former imperfect covenant or testament, and also an eternal inheritance to the called.
by means of death--rather, as Greek, "death having taken place." At the moment that His death took place, the necessary effect is, "the called receive the (fulfilment of the) promise" (so Luke 24:49 uses "promise"; Hebrews 6:15 , Acts 1:4 ); that moment divides the Old from the New Testament. The "called" are the elect "heirs," "partakers of the heavenly calling" ( Hebrews 3:1 ).
redemption of . . . transgressions . . . under . . . first testament--the transgressions of all men from Adam to Christ, first against the primitive revelation, then against the revelations to the patriarchs, then against the law given to Israel, the representative people of the world. The "first testament" thus includes the whole period from Adam to Christ, and not merely that of the covenant with Israel, which was a concentrated representation of the covenant made with (or the first testament given to) mankind by sacrifice, down from the fall to redemption. Before the inheritance by the New Testament (for here the idea of the "INHERITANCE," following as the result of Christ's "death," being introduced, requires the Greek to be translated "testament," as it was before covenant) could come in, there must be redemption of (that is, deliverance from the penalties incurred by) the transgressions committed under the first testament, for the propitiatory sacrifices under the first testament reached only as far as removing outward ceremonial defilement. But in order to obtain the inheritance which is a reality, there must be a real propitiation, since God could not enter into covenant relation with us so long as past sins were unexpiated; Romans 3:24 Romans 3:25 , "a propitiation . . . His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past."
might--Greek, "may receive," which previously they could not ( Hebrews 11:39 Hebrews 11:40 ).
the promise--to Abraham.
16. A general axiomatic truth; it is "a testament"; not the testament. The testator must die before his testament takes effect ( Hebrews 9:17 ). This is a common meaning of the Greek noun diathece. So in Luke 22:29 , "I appoint (by testamentary disposition; the cognate Greek verb diatithemai) unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me." The need of death before the testamentary appointment takes effect, holds good in Christ's relation as MAN to us; Of course not in God's relation to Christ.
be--literally, be borne": "be involved in the case"; be inferred; or else, "be brought forward in court," so as to give effect to the will. This sense (testament) of the Greek "diathece" here does not exclude its other secondary senses in the other passages of the New Testament: (1) a covenant between two parties; (2) an arrangement, or disposition, made by God alone in relation to us. Thus, Matthew 26:28 may be translated, "Blood of the covenant"; for a testament does not require blood shedding. Compare Exodus 24:8 (covenant), which Christ quotes, though it is probable He included in a sense "testament" also under the Greek word diathece (comprehending both meanings, "covenant" and "testament"), as this designation strictly and properly applies to the new dispensation, and is rightly applicable to the old also, not in itself, but when viewed as typifying the new, which is properly a testament. Moses ( Exodus 24:8 ) speaks of the same thing as [Christ and] Paul. Moses, by the term "covenant," does not mean aught save one concerning giving the heavenly inheritance typified by Canaan after the death of the Testator, which he represented by the sprinkling of blood. And Paul, by the term "testament," does not mean aught save one having conditions attached to it, one which is at the same time a covenant [POLI, Synopsis]; the conditions are fulfilled by Christ, not by us, except that we must believe, but even this God works in His people. THOLUCK explains, as elsewhere, "covenant . . . covenant . . . mediating victim"; the masculine is used of the victim personified, and regarded as mediator of the covenant; especially as in the new covenant a MAN (Christ) took the place of the victim. The covenanting parties used to pass between the divided parts of the sacrificed animals; but, without reference to this rite, the need of a sacrifice for establishing a covenant sufficiently explains this verse. Others, also, explaining the Greek as "covenant," consider that the death of the sacrificial victim represented in all covenants the death of both parties as unalterably bound to the covenant. So in the redemption-covenant, the death of Jesus symbolized the death of God (?) in the person of the mediating victim, and the death of man in the same. But the expression is not "there must be the death of both parties making the covenant," but singular, "of Him who made (aorist, past time; not 'of Him making') the testament." Also, it is "death," not "sacrifice" or "slaying." Plainly, the death is supposed to be past (aorist, "made"); and the fact of the death is brought (Greek) before court to give effect to the will. These requisites of a will, or testament. concur here: (1) a testator; (2) heirs; (3) goods; (4) the death of the testator; (5) the fact of the death brought forward in court. In Matthew 26:28 two other requisites appear: witnesses, the disciples; and a seal, the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the sign of His blood wherewith the testament is primarily sealed. It is true the heir is ordinarily the successor of him who dies and so ceases to have the possession. But in this case Christ comes to life again, and is Himself (including all that He hath), in the power of His now endless life, His people's inheritance; in His being Heir ( Hebrews 1:2 ), they are heirs.
17. after--literally, "over," as we say "upon the death of the testators"; not as THOLUCK, "on the condition that slain sacrifices be there," which the Greek hardly sanctions.
otherwise--"seeing that it is never availing" [ALFORD]. BENGEL and LACHMANN read with an interrogation, "Since, is it ever in force (surely not) while the testator liveth?"
18. Whereupon--rather, "Whence."
dedicated--"inaugurated." The Old Testament strictly and formally began on that day of inauguration. "Where the disposition, or arrangement, is ratified by the blood of another, namely, of animals, which cannot make a covenant, much less make a testament, it is not strictly a testament, where it is ratified by the death of him that makes the arrangement, it is strictly, Greek 'diathece,' Hebrew 'berith,' taken in a wider sense, a testament" [BENGEL]; thus, in Hebrews 9:18 , referring to the old dispensation, we may translate, "the first (covenant)": or better, retain "the first (testament)," not that the old dispensation, regarded by itself, is a testament, but it is so when regarded as the typical representative of the new, which is strictly a Testament.
19. For--confirming the general truth, Hebrews 9:16 .
spoken . . . according to the law--strictly adhering to every direction of "the law of commandments contained in ordinances" ( Ephesians 2:15 ). Compare Exodus 24:3 , "Moses told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments; and all the people answered with one voice," &c.
the blood of calves--Greek, "the calves," namely, those sacrificed by the "young men" whom he sent to do so ( Exodus 24:5 ). The "peace offerings" there mentioned were "of oxen" (Septuagint, "little calves"), and the "burnt offerings" were probably (though this is not specified), as on the day of atonement, goats. The law in Exodus sanctioned formally many sacrificial practices in use by tradition, from the primitive revelation long before.
with water--prescribed, though not in the twenty-fourth chapter of Exodus, yet in other purifications; for example, of the leper, and the water of separation which contained the ashes of the red heifer.
scarlet wool, and hyssop--ordinarily used for purification. Scarlet or crimson, resembling blood: it was thought to be a peculiarly deep, fast dye, whence it typified sin Jesus wore a scarlet robe, the emblem of the deep-dyed sins He bore on Him, though He had none in Him. Wool was used as imbibing and retaining water; the hyssop, as a bushy, tufty plant (wrapt round with the scarlet wool), was used for sprinkling it. The wool was also a symbol of purity ( Isaiah 1:18 ). The Hyssopus officinalis grows on walls, with small lancet-formed woolly leaves, an inch long, with blue and white flowers, and a knotty stalk about a foot high.
sprinkled . . . the book--namely, out of which he had read "every precept": the book of the testament or covenant. This sprinkling of the book is not mentioned in the twenty-fourth chapter of Exodus. Hence BENGEL translates, "And (having taken) the book itself (so Exodus 24:7 ), he both sprinkled all the people, and ( Hebrews 9:21 ) moreover sprinkled the tabernacle." But the Greek supports English Version. Paul, by inspiration, supplies the particular specified here, not in Exodus 24:7 . The sprinkling of the roll (so the Greek for "book") of the covenant, or testament, as well as of the people, implies that neither can the law be fulfilled, nor the people be purged from their sins, save by the sprinkling of the blood of Christ ( 1 Peter 1:2 ). Compare Hebrews 9:23 , which shows that there is something antitypical to the Bible in heaven itself (compare Revelation 20:12 ). The Greek, "itself," distinguishes the book itself from the "precepts" in it which he "spake."
20. Exodus 24:8 , "Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you concerning all these words." The change is here made to accord with Christ's inauguration of the new testament, or covenant, as recorded in Luke 22:20 , "This cup (is) the new Testament in My blood, which is shed for you": the only Gospel in which the "is" has to be supplied. Luke was Paul's companion, which accounts for the correspondence, as here too "is" has to be supplied. The Greek "diathece" means both "testament" and "covenant": the term "covenant" better suits the old dispensation, though the idea testament is included, for the old was one in its typical relation to the new dispensation, to which the term "testament" is better suited. Christ has sealed the testament with His blood, of which the Lord's Supper is the sacramental sign. The testator was represented by the animals slain in the old dispensation. In both dispensations the inheritance was bequeathed: in the new by One who has come in person and died; in the old by the same one, only typically and ceremonially present. See ALFORD'S excellent Note.
enjoined unto you--commissioned me to ratify in relation to you. In the old dispensation the condition to be fulfilled on the people's part is implied in the words, Exodus 24:8 , "(Lord made with you) concerning all these words." But here Paul omits this clause, as he includes the fulfilment of this condition of obedience to "all these words" in the new covenant, as part of God's promise, in Hebrews 8:8 Hebrews 8:10 Hebrews 8:12 , whereby Christ fulfils all for our justification, and will enable us by putting His Spirit in us to fulfil all in our now progressive, and finally complete, sanctification.
21. Greek, "And, moreover, in like manner." The sprinkling of the tabernacle with blood is added by inspiration here to the account in Exodus 30:25-30 , Exodus 40:9 Exodus 40:10 , which mentions only Moses' anointing the tabernacle and its vessels. In Leviticus 8:10 Leviticus 8:15 Leviticus 8:30 , the sprinkling of blood upon Aaron and his garments. and upon his sons, and upon the altar, is mentioned as well as the anointing, so that we might naturally infer, as JOSEPHUS has distinctly stated, that the tabernacle and its vessels were sprinkled with blood as well as being anointed: Leviticus 16:16 Leviticus 16:20 Leviticus 16:33 , virtually sanctions this inference. The tabernacle and its contents needed purification ( 2 Chronicles 29:21 ).
22. almost--to be joined with "all things," namely almost all things under the old dispensation. The exceptions to all things being purified by blood are, Exodus 19:10 , Leviticus 15:5 , &c., Leviticus 16:26 Leviticus 16:28 , 22:6 , Numbers 31:22-24 .
without--Greek, "apart from."
shedding of blood--shed in the slaughter of the victim, and poured out at the altar subsequently. The pouring out of the blood on the altar is the main part of the sacrifice ( Leviticus 17:11 ), and it could not have place apart from the previous shedding of the blood in the slaying. Paul has, perhaps, in mind here, Luke 22:20 , "This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you."
is--Greek, "takes place": comes to pass.
remission--of sins: a favorite expression of Luke, Paul's companion. Properly used of remitting a debt ( Matthew 6:12 , Matthew 18:27 Matthew 18:32 ); our sins are debts. On the truth here, compare Leviticus 5:11-13 , an exception because of poverty, confirming the general rule.
23. patterns--"the suggestive representations"; the typical copies
things in the heavens--the heavenly tabernacle and the things therein.
purified with these--with the blood of bulls and goats.
heavenly things themselves--the archetypes. Man's sin had introduced an element of disorder into the relations of God and His holy angels in respect to man. The purification removes this element of disorder and changes God's wrath against man in heaven (designed to be the place of God's revealing His grace to men and angels) into a smile of reconciliation. Compare "peace in heaven" ( Luke 19:38 ). "The uncreated heaven of God, though in itself Untroubled light, yet needed a purification in so far as the light of love was obscured by the fire of wrath against sinful man" [DELITZSCH in ALFORD]. Contrast Revelation 12:7-10 . Christ's atonement had the effect also of casting Satan out of heaven ( Luke 10:18 , John 12:31 , compare Hebrews 2:14 ). Christ's body, the true tabernacle ( 2 Corinthians 5:21 ). was consecrated ( John 17:17 John 17:19 ) and purified by the shedding of His blood to be the meeting place of God and man.
sacrifices--The plural is used in expressing the general proposition, though strictly referring to the one sacrifice of Christ once for all. Paul implies that His one sacrifice, by its matchless excellency, is equivalent to the Levitical many sacrifices. It, though but one, is manifold in its effects and applicability to many.
24. Resumption more fully of the thought, "He entered in once into the holy place," Hebrews 9:12 . He has in Hebrews 9:13 Hebrews 9:14 , expanded the words "by his own blood," Hebrews 9:12 ; and in Hebrews 9:15-23 , he has enlarged on "an High Priest of good things to come."
not . . . into . . . holy places made with hands--as was the Holy of Holies in the earthly tabernacle
figures--copies "of the true" holiest place, heaven, the original archetype ( Hebrews 8:5 ).
into heaven itself--the immediate presence of the invisible God beyond all the created heavens, through which latter Jesus passed
now--ever since His ascension in the present economy (compare Hebrews 9:26 ).
to appear--To PRESENT HIMSELF; Greek, "to be made to appear." Mere man may have a vision through a medium, or veil, as Moses had ( Exodus 33:18 Exodus 33:20-23 ). Christ alone beholds the Father without a veil, and is His perfect image. Through seeing HIM only can we see the Father.
in the presence of God--Greek, "to the face of God." The saints shall hereafter see God's face in Christ ( Revelation 22:4 ): the earnest of which is now given ( 2 Corinthians 3:18 ). Aaron, the Levitical high priest for the people, stood before the ark and only saw the cloud, the symbol of God's glory ( Exodus 28:30 ).
for us--in our behalf as our Advocate and Intercessor ( Hebrews 7:25 , Romans 8:34 , 1 John 2:1 ). "It is enough that Jesus should show Himself for us to the Father: the sight of Jesus satisfied God in our behalf. He brings before the face of God no offering which has exhausted itself, and, as only sufficing for a time, needs renewal; but He himself is in person, by virtue of the eternal Spirit, that is, the imperishable life of His person, now and for ever freed from death, our eternally present offering before God" [DELITZSCH in ALFORD].
25. As in Hebrews 9:24 , Paul said, it was not into the typical, but the true sanctuary, that Christ is entered; so now he says, that His sacrifice needs not, as the Levitical sacrifices did, to be repeated. Construe, "Nor yet did He enter for this purpose that He may offer Himself often," that is, "present Himself in the presence of God, as the high priest does (Paul uses the present tense, as the legal service was then existing), year by year, on the day of atonement, entering the Holy of Holies.
blood of others--not his own, as Christ did.
26. then--in that case.
must . . . have suffered--rather as Greek, "It would have been necessary for Him often to suffer." In order to "offer" ( Hebrews 9:25 ), or present Himself often before God in the heavenly holiest place, like the legal high priests making fresh renewals of this high priestly function. He would have had, and would have often to suffer. His oblation of Himself before God was once for all (that is, the bringing in of His blood into the heavenly Holy of Holies), and therefore the preliminary suffering was once for all.
since the foundation of the world--The continued sins of men, from their first creation, would entail a continual suffering on earth, and consequent oblation of His blood in the heavenly holiest place, since the foundation of the world, if the one oblation "in the fulness of time" were not sufficient. PHILO [The Creation of the World, p. 637], shows that the high priest of the Hebrews offered sacrifices for the whole human race. "If there had been greater efficacy in the repetition of the oblation, Christ necessarily would not have been so long promised, but would have been sent immediately after the foundation of the world to suffer, and offer Himself at successive periods" [GROTIUS].
now--as the case is,
once--for all; without need of renewal. Rome's fiction of an UNBLOODY sacrifice in the mass, contradicts her assertion that the blood of Christ is present in the wine; and also confutes her assertion that the mass is propitiatory; for, if unbloody, it cannot be propitiatory; for without shedding of blood there is no remission ( Hebrews 9:22 ). Moreover, the expression "once" for all here, and in Hebrews 9:28 , and Hebrews 10:10 Hebrews 10:12 , proves the falsity of her view that there is a continually repeated offering of Christ in the Eucharist or mass. The offering of Christ was a thing once done that it might be thought of for ever (compare Note,
in the end of the world--Greek, "at the consummation of the ages"; the winding up of all the previous ages from the foundation of the world; to be followed by a new age ( Hebrews 1:1 Hebrews 1:2 ). The last age, beyond which no further age is to be expected before Christ's speedy second coming, which is the complement of the first coming; literally, "the ends of the ages"; Matthew 28:20 is literally, "the consummation of the age," or world (singular; not as here, plural, ages). Compare "the fulness of times," Ephesians 1:10 .
appeared--Greek, "been manifested" on earth ( 1 Timothy 3:16 , 1 Peter 1:20 ). English Version has confounded three distinct Greek verbs, by translating all alike, Hebrews 9:24 Hebrews 9:26 Hebrews 9:28 , "appear." But, in Hebrews 9:24 , it is "to present Himself," namely, before God in the heavenly sanctuary; in Hebrews 9:26 , "been manifested" on earth. in Hebrews 9:28 , "shall be seen" by all, and especially believers.
put away--abolish; doing away sin's power as well by delivering men from its guilt and penalty, so that it should be powerless to condemn men, as also from its yoke, so that they shall at last sin no more.
sin--singular number; all the sins of men of every age are regarded as one mass laid on Christ. He hath not only droned for all actual sins, but destroyed sin itself. John 1:29 , "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin (not merely the sins: singular, not plural) of the world."
by the sacrifice of himself--Greek, "by (through) His own sacrifice"; not by "blood of others" ( Hebrews 9:25 ). ALFORD loses this contrast in translating, "by His sacrifice."
27. as--inasmuch as.
it is appointed--Greek, "it is laid up (as our appointed lot)," Colossians 1:5 . The word "appointed" (so Hebrew "seth" means) in the case of man, answers to "anointed" in the case of Jesus; therefore "the Christ," that is, the anointed, is the title here given designedly. He is the representative man; and there is a strict correspondence between the history of man and that of the Son of man. The two most solemn facts of our being are here connected with the two most gracious truths of our dispensation, our death and judgment answering in parallelism to Christ's first coming to die for us, and His second coming to consummate our salvation.
once--and no more.
after this the judgment--namely, at Christ's appearing, to which, in Hebrews 9:28 , "judgment" in this verse is parallel. Not, "after this comes the heavenly glory." The intermediate state is a state of joyous, or else agonizing and fearful, expectation of "judgment"; after the judgment comes the full and final state of joy, or else woe.
28. Christ--Greek, "THE Christ"; the representative MAN; representing all men, as the first Adam did.
once offered--not "often," Hebrews 9:25 ; just as "men," of whom He is the representative Head, are appointed by God once to die. He did not need to die again and again for each individual, or each successive generation of men, for He represents all men of every age, and therefore needed to die but once for all, so as to exhaust the penalty of death incurred by all. He was offered by the Father, His own "eternal Spirit" ( Hebrews 9:14 ) concurring; as Abraham spared not Isaac, but offered him, the son himself unresistingly submitting to the father's will ( Genesis 22:1-24 ).
to bear the sins--referring to Isaiah 53:12 , "He bare the sins of many," namely, on Himself; so "bear" means, Leviticus 24:15 , Numbers 5:31 , 14:34 . The Greek is literally "to bear up" ( 1 Peter 2:24 ). "Our sins were laid on Him. When, therefore, He was lifted up on the cross, He bare up our sins along with Him" [BENGEL].
many--not opposed to all, but to few. He, the One, was offered for many; and that once for all (compare Matthew 20:28 ).
look for him--with waiting expectation even unto the end (so the Greek). It is translated "wait for" in Romans 8:19 Romans 8:23 , 1 Corinthians 1:7 , which see.
appear--rather, as Greek, "be seen." No longer in the alien "form of a servant," but in His own proper glory.
without sin--apart from, separate from, sin. Not bearing the sin of many on Him as at His first coming (even then there was no sin in Him). That sin has been at His first coming once for all taken away, so as to need no repetition of His sin offering of Himself ( Hebrews 9:26 ). At His second coming He shall have no more to do with sin.
unto salvation--to bring in completed salvation; redeeming then the body which is as yet subject to the bondage of corruption. Hence, in Philippians 3:20 he says, "we look for THE SAVIOUR." Note, Christ's prophetical office, as the divine Teacher, was especially exercised during His earthly ministry; His priestly is now from His first to His second coming; His kingly office shall be fully manifested at, and after, His second coming.