Hebrews 8:3-5

3 For 1every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus 2it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer.
4 Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law.
5 They serve 3a copy and 4shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, 5"See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain."

Hebrews 8:3-5 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO HEBREWS 8

The apostle observing that the priesthood of Christ is the sum of what he had treated of in the preceding chapter, proceeds to show the superior excellency of it in other instances, particularly in the place where Christ now officiates, which is in heaven; he being set down at the right hand of God there, and so was a minister of the sanctuary, and true tabernacle pitched by God, and not man; whereas the priests of Aaron's line only ministered on earth, and in the typical sanctuary and tabernacle, Heb 8:1,2 and after he had observed that Christ must have something to offer, meaning his body, to answer to the gifts and sacrifices priests were ordained to offer, Heb 8:3 he proves the necessity of his ministering in heaven, because if he was on earth he would not be a priest, a complete one, and would have been useless and needless, Heb 8:4 and besides, it was proper that he should go up to heaven, and minister there, as the antitype of the priests, who, to the example and shadow of heavenly things, served in the tabernacle which was made by Moses, by the order of God, and according to the pattern showed him in the Mount, Heb 8:5 and that the ministry of Christ in the true sanctuary is much more excellent than the ministry of the priests in the shadowy one, is evident from his being the Mediator of a better covenant, Heb 8:6 and that the covenant he is the Mediator of is the better covenant, appears froth the better promises of which it consists, and from the faultiness of the former covenant, Heb 8:6,7 and that that was faulty, and succeeded by another, he proves from a passage in Jer 31:31-34 in which mention is made of a new covenant, and as distinct from that made with the Jewish fathers, and violated by them; and several of the promises of this new and second covenant are rehearsed, and which manifestly appear to be better than what were in the former, Heb 8:8-12 from all which the apostle concludes, that a new covenant being made, the old one must be antiquated; and that whereas it was decaying and waxing old, it was just ready to vanish away, Heb 8:13.

Hebrews 8:3-5 In-Context

1 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,
2 a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.
3 For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer.
4 Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law.
5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, "See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain."
6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.

Cross References 5

  • 1. See Hebrews 5:1
  • 2. Hebrews 9:12-14; Hebrews 10:9-12; Ephesians 5:2
  • 3. Hebrews 9:23
  • 4. Hebrews 10:1; Colossians 2:17
  • 5. Cited from Exodus 25:40
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.