Vv 1-10: Examples from the tabernacle. Starting in this
section the author draws out parallels and contrasts between the old Levitical
ritual and the priestly work of Christ in considerable detail.
Vv 1-5: The physical setting of the tabernacle.
Why the tabernacle and not the temple? Prob because it had
NOW THE FIRST COVENANT HAD REGULATIONS FOR WORSHIP AND ALSO
AN EARTHLY SANCTUARY: In order to comprehend the significance of the work of
Christ, it is essential to understand that which pointed to him. "Earthly" is in
contrast to "heavenly" (Heb 8:5; cp Heb 9:11,24).
V 2: The author's "guided tour" begins with the Holy
Place, where the menorah. the table, and "the bread of the Presence" were
located. Directions for the construction of the tabernacle are given in Exo 26.
For the table and the lampstand, see Exo 25:23-40.
BEHIND THE SECOND CURTAIN WAS A ROOM CALLED THE MOST HOLY
PLACE: More space is given by our author to describing the "Holy of Holies"
(translated the "Most Holy Place" by NIV) because of its importance as the place
of atonement. It lay behind the second curtain (Exo 26:33), a curtain meant to
restrict access to the innermost chamber that could be entered only once a year
(see v 7).
WHICH HAD THE GOLDEN ALTAR OF INCENSE: But according to
the account in Exo 30:1-6 (cp Exo 40:26,27) this altar was placed "before" or
"in front of" (so NIV) the curtain, and thus it was located in the Holy Place,
not the Most Holy Place. Yet so vital was the burning of incense on the Day of
Atonement (vv 6-10; cp "so that he will not die," Lev 16:13; cp Num 16:40) that
the author automatically associates the altar of incense with the Holy of
Furthermore, both the altar and the ark were sprinkled with
the blood on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:14-16). Note the same connection with
the temple (1Ki 6:22 RV) (BS 13:49).
THE GOLD–COVERED ARK OF THE COVENANT: See Exo
25:10-16,21. In this container were three special objects that recalled the
experience of Israel at Sinai in the wilderness -- which are listed...
THIS ARK CONTAINED THE GOLD JAR OF MANNA: See Exo
AARON'S STAFF THAT HAD BUDDED: See Num 17:8-10. The
budding staff demonstrated the sole legitimacy of Aaron and the tribe of Levi in
priestly service at the altar (cp Num 18:7). But that uniqueness has now been
displaced -- indeed, canceled -- by the high priest of the order of
AND THE STONE TABLETS OF THE COVENANT: See Deu 10:3-5;
ABOVE THE ARK WERE THE CHERUBIM OF THE GLORY, OVERSHADOWING
THE ATONEMENT COVER: The Glory almost certainly refers to the "shekinah"
(ie, "dwelling") glory that hovered over the ark of the covenant (cp Lev 16:2;
Exo 40:34-38) symbolizing the presence of God (Exo 25:18-22). Although of course
we cannot know what these cherubim looked like, it is well to speak of winged
"beings" or "creatures" so as not to exclude the possibility of a human
likeness, as ascribed to the cherubim in the rabbinic tradition, for example.
OVERSHADOWING THE ATONEMENT COVER: See Exo 25:18-20.
This is NIV's appropriate translation of a single technical term
("hilasterion") indicating the lid of the ark (as it does
regularly in the LXX). This cover to the ark was the place where the high priest
sprinkled the blood of the sacrificed bull and then of the goat on the Day of
Atonement (see Lev 16:14-17). In this way the word came to signify the taking
away of sin (ie, "to cover," or "to wipe away") and hence came to be translated
"mercy seat" (Exo 26:34, RSV). In Rom 3:25, the only other occurrence of this
noun in the NT, Jesus is described as an "expiation" (RSV) or "propitiation"
(KJV, NASB) for our sins, or as NIV puts it, "a sacrifice of
BUT WE CANNOT DISCUSS THESE THINGS IN DETAIL NOW:
"These things" refer to all the furniture in the tabernacle. There is simply not
enough time to speak of the symbolism in detail; other matters are of greater
Vv 6-10: The sacrificial ritual of the tabernacle.
WHEN EVERYTHING HAD BEEN ARRANGED LIKE THIS: That is,
it is in that setting that the priests do their work.
THE PRIESTS ENTERED REGULARLY INTO THE OUTER ROOM TO CARRY
ON THEIR MINISTRY: The daily duties of ordinary priests are first in view.
They "enter" (present tenses are consistently used in these verses) regularly
into the "first tent" (but NEVER into the "second tent" -- the Most Holy Place)
in order to accomplish their priestly duties (see Num 18:2-6). These involved
the burning of incense, morning and evening; the maintenance of the lamps of the
menorah; and the removal of the old and placement of the new loaves upon the
table every Sabbath.
BUT ONLY THE HIGH PRIEST ENTERED THE INNER ROOM, AND THAT
ONLY ONCE A YEAR: The contrasting clause contains three major points of
difference: (1) only the high priest can perform the vital work of atonement;
(2) he does so by entering the inner room (lit, "the second tent"), and (3) he
does so only once a year, on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:2-15; Exo 30:10).
AND NEVER WITHOUT BLOOD, WHICH HE OFFERED FOR HIMSELF:
The high priest offered for his own sins (cp Heb 5:3; 7:27).
Of course, there is both a contrast, and a comparison, here --
between the ordinary Levitical high priests and the Lord Jesus Christ: (a)
contrast, in that Jesus never committed sins to be offered for, but (b)
comparison, in that his sacrifice was, in some measure, because of his own
This is the first of many references to the blood of
sacrifices in this and the remaining chapters of the book. The sanctity of life,
and hence of blood, together with the necessity of sacrifice, indicates the
costliness of atonement (cp Heb 9:22; Lev 17:11). The mention of blood in the
context of offering for atonement always presupposes the death of the
sacrificial victim. The central importance of the blood of Christ first comes
into view in vv 12,14 below (although it is implied in Heb 2:9,14,17).
AND FOR THE SINS THE PEOPLE HAD COMMITTED IN IGNORANCE:
He offered as well for the sins of those people whom he represented. The
technical phrase "sins of ignorance" alludes to the fact that only unintentional
sinning could be atoned for (see Lev 4:1,13,22,27; 5:15,17-19), not that done
presumptuously, or "with a high hand" (see Num 15:30; Deu 17:12).
THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS SHOWING BY THIS THAT THE WAY INTO THE
MOST HOLY PLACE HAD NOT YET BEEN DISCLOSED AS LONG AS THE FIRST TABERNACLE WAS
STILL STANDING: That is, the situation under the old covenant, with its
elaborate protection of the Holy of Holies, is admittedly one that excludes the
people of God from his presence, and hence the fulfillment of God's promises
remains to be experienced. The continued existence, therefore, of the first
tabernacle, which together with the curtain before the Holy of Holies barred the
way to the very presence of God, showed the futility of the old covenant and at
the same time pointed inescapably to the future -- when the way into the
presence of God might be opened up (see Heb 10:19,20; cp Mat 27:51).
THIS IS AN ILLUSTRATION FOR THE PRESENT TIME:
"Illustration" = "parabole" -- a parable. By this the author means, as he will
begin to show, beginning in v 11, that the significance of Christ's work, as now
known and proclaimed, is that the way has been made clear for us to draw near to
God (cp Heb 10:19–22). Just as light is shed upon the work of Christ by
its anticipation in the old covenant, so a knowledge of the fulfillment brought
by Christ illuminates the significance of the tabernacle and the Levitical
sacrifices. By its very nature the old covenant points to what can now be seen
to be its fulfillment. According to the old situation, the "regulations for
worship" (mentioned in Heb 9:1) required various sacrificial offerings that were
by their nature unable to bring the worshiper to the intended goal of full
THE GIFTS AND SACRIFICES BEING OFFERED WERE NOT ABLE TO
CLEAR THE CONSCIENCE OF THE WORSHIPER: That is, they were unable to bring
the true, inner person to the intended goal of full salvation. The nagging,
unconvinced conscience of the worshiper in this circumstance is evidence of this
failure of the old system (ct Acts 24:16).
GIFTS AND SACRIFICES: See Heb 8:3n.
THEY ARE ONLY A MATTER OF FOOD AND DRINK AND VARIOUS
CEREMONIAL WASHINGS -- EXTERNAL REGULATIONS APPLYING UNTIL THE TIME OF THE NEW
ORDER: And this "new order" already exists: the time of fulfillment has
already come in and through the work of Christ (Heb 1:2). If this is true, then
the whole Levitical system and the Mosaic legislation upon which it rests has
come to an end. This conclusion is indeed inescapable given the conclusions
drawn in Heb 8:13. The author's argument here is reminiscent of Paul's
perspective in Col 2:16-17: "Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you
eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or
a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality,
however, is found in Christ." The old covenant requirements and restrictions are
displaced when the new covenant with its new order comes into existence.
EXTERNAL REGULATIONS: "Carnal ordinances" (AV),
"righteousness of flesh" (Diag mg), "regulations for the body" (Weym, Moffatt).
These could make ceremonially "clean", but not morally clean. They removed only
the symbolic taints -- which were prescribed by the Law in the first
APPLYING: "Imposed on them" (AV): sig "to rest, or lay
upon". The Law was a "burden" (Acts 15:10; Gal 5:1).
NEW ORDER: Gr "diorthosis" -- only here in NT. Sig a
rectifying, or setting in order. Christ's sacrifice set in order all previous
ordinances of the Law of Moses, by bringing -- finally -- their true and
intended meaning into view.
Vv 11-14: The definitive nature of Christ's work. Here is the
first such statement -- although this argument will be restated several times in
this section (Heb 9:1 -- 10:18). The work of Christ corresponds in considerable
detail to that of the Levitical priesthood, but it also stands in contrast to
that system as its ultimate counterpart -- it is the reality as contrasted with
its shadow, the prototype as contrasted with its copy. The work of Christ is
final, absolute, definitive, complete, and perfect.
WHEN CHRIST CAME AS HIGH PRIEST OF THE GOOD THINGS THAT ARE
ALREADY HERE, HE WENT THROUGH THE GREATER AND MORE PERFECT TABERNACLE THAT IS
NOT MAN-MADE, THAT IS TO SAY, NOT A PART OF THIS CREATION: The orientation
of the writer is clearly toward the present experience of the good things made
possible -- in the "here and now", not just prospectively in the future --
through Christ's work as high priest.
THE GOOD THINGS THAT ARE ALREADY HERE: "Some mss,
however, read 'the good things to come,' thereby orienting the verse to the
future rather than to present fulfillment [this is followed by the KJV]. On the
basis of both antiquity and diversity of witnesses, the reading of NIV's text is
to be preferred. The reading 'the good things to come' is probably caused by the
influence of the same words in Heb 10:1" (NIBC).
HE DID NOT ENTER BY MEANS OF THE BLOOD OF GOATS AND CALVES;
BUT HE ENTERED THE MOST HOLY PLACE ONCE FOR ALL BY HIS OWN BLOOD, HAVING
OBTAINED ETERNAL REDEMPTION: The necessity for the offering of blood is
underlined in vv 18,22. Christ's offering of his own blood is equivalent to the
offering of himself (Heb 7:27), or his body (Heb 10:10). So superior is the
offering of his own blood (or self -- v 14, or body) that it procured "eternal"
redemption, in distinct contrast to the provisional character of what was
accomplished by the offering of the blood of animals. Stress on the salvation
accomplished by Christ as eternal is also found in Heb 5:9 (cp Heb
GOATS AND CALVES: Suggesting the Day of Atonement: Lev
HE ENTERED THE MOST HOLY PLACE: This explains the
antitype of Christ's passing the "veil" (Heb 10:20, and also his ascending into
heaven. His one offering for sins was not complete until he appeared in the
presence of God in heaven (not necessarily at the end of the 40 days, but much
earlier -- in fact, probably immediately after his resurrection: see John
ONCE FOR ALL: See Heb 7:27.
HAVING OBTAINED ETERNAL REDEMPTION: "He [Christ] did
not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most
Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption"
The AV adds, in italics, "for us", at the end of this verse --
as if to say that there was no salvation required for Christ at all.
This is manifestly untrue. Christ obtained redemption for
himself, as well as for others -- for us! Our redemption is bound up in his.
"[Christ] obtained eternal redemption" (the words "for us" -- italicized in the
AV -- are omitted in various other versions, including RV, RSV, and NIV; Jesus
obtained redemption FOR HIMSELF AND for others). See Lesson, Redemption.
"He [Jesus] was a sufferer from the hereditary effects of sin;
for these effects are physical effects. Death is a physical law in our members
implanted there through sin ages ago, and handed down from generation to
generation. Consequently, partaking of our physical nature, he partook of this,
and his own deliverance (as 'Christ the first fruits') was as necessary as that
of his brethren. In fact, if Christ had not first been saved from death (Heb
5:7), if he had not first obtained eternal redemption (Heb 9:12), there would
have been no hope for us, for we obtain salvation only through what he has
accomplished in himself..." (RR). Notice also, that it was by his own "blood"
(or life, or death, or body) that Jesus -- being an integral part of the
"heavenly things" -- PURIFIED himself (v 23)! Cp also Rom 3:24; Phi
Vv 13,14 form one long sentence in the Greek text, with v 13
providing an "if" clause, and v 14 a "then how much more" clause.
THE BLOOD OF GOATS AND BULLS AND THE ASHES OF A HEIFER
SPRINKLED ON THOSE WHO ARE CEREMONIALLY UNCLEAN SANCTIFY THEM SO THAT THEY ARE
OUTWARDLY CLEAN: The OT rituals, involving the blood of goats and bulls (cp
Lev 16:15,16) and the sprinkling of the transgressors with the ashes of a heifer
-- which were mixed with water to make "the water of cleansing... for
purification from sin" (Num 19:9,17-19) -- cleansed the Israelites at only the
external level -- so that they were "OUTWARDLY clean" (lit, "the purifying of
the flesh"). These ceremonies, therefore, were really effective only for one
kind of cleansing, that is, from ceremonial contamination.
THE ASHES OF A HEIFER SPRINKLED: To remove the
"uncleanness" of death (Num 19). According to Edersheim, the HiPr was thus
sprinkled twice during the week before the Day of Atonement (Temple
CEREMONIALLY UNCLEAN: Sw Mark 7:15-23; Acts 10:15;
11:9; 15:11-20; 21:28. Uncleanness of "flesh", but not necessarily uncleanness
of conscience (cp v 9)!
THE ETERNAL SPIRIT: "AN eternal spirit": Christ partook
of the eternal wisdom of God, by which he was able to overcome.
"An age-abiding spirit", or character: a morality related to
eternal things, a God-like character and frame of mind. Nothing more nor less
than the perfectly holy life of the Son of God.
CLEANSE OUR CONSCIENCES FROM ACTS THAT LEAD TO DEATH:
The new kind of cleansing made possible by this offering of Christ is described
as the purifying of our consciences (cp Psa 51:7; Isa 1:18). That is, this
cleansing penetrates to the inner recesses of our personhood and so involves far
more than the cleansing of the flesh from ceremonial defilement.
"The probation which leads to purity is part of the evangel
[good news] of the cross. 'Dead works' is a reference to the defilement which
follows upon contact with the dead under the old law: not by human endeavour,
nor by human cleverness is the defilement purged but alone by the mystery of the
shed blood. The search for purity is not optional, it is an essential part of
the process of redemption" (GD).
SO THAT WE MAY SERVE THE LIVING GOD: Those who have
experienced this new cleansing -- the cleansing of the conscience -- are now
able truly to serve the living God. The word "serve" here ("latreuo") is the sw
earlier used for specifically priestly service (eg, Heb 8:5; 9:9). Only with the
fulfillment brought by Christ's "once for all" sacrifice is it possible to
arrive at the goal of serving God. The language of the tabernacle or temple
service has been spiritualized here, as it is elsewhere in the NT (eg, Rom 12:1;
Vv 15-22: Christ's sacrifice: the ratifying of the new
covenant. The existence of the latter, and the experience of it by Christians,
depends squarely upon the former. The shedding of blood is thus essential to
both old and new covenants.
FOR THIS REASON: That is, because of his death, AND
because of moral purity (v 14).
CHRIST IS THE MEDIATOR OF A NEW COVENANT: It is clear
that the author has in mind the new covenant spoken of by Jeremiah (Jer
31:31-34; Heb 8:8–112; 10:16,17).
THAT THOSE WHO ARE CALLED MAY RECEIVE THE PROMISED ETERNAL
INHERITANCE: The author has already spoken of a special calling received by
Christians through the preaching of the gospel in Heb 3:1. It is significant
that he uses particularly Jewish concepts of "promise" and "inheritance" here
(cp Heb 6:17). Cp also Rom 8:17, and the extended promises to Abraham --
involving an eternal inheritance of the land of promise -- in Gen 12:1-3;
13:15-18; etc. (The "eternal inheritance" -- promised to Abraham and his "seed"
-- is in contrast to the temporal one, achieved under Joshua: Heb
NOW THAT HE HAS DIED AS A RANSOM TO SET THEM FREE FROM THE
SINS COMMITTED UNDER THE FIRST COVENANT: The basis of this new situation is
that Christ has died, which has as its result that it sets people free (cp the
reference to "an eternal redemption" in v 12). It redeems them from the sins
(lit, "transgressions") committed under the first covenant. The real answer to
sins against the commandments of the Mosaic law is found not in the sacrifice of
animals, but in the sacrifice of Christ. The new covenant thus contains within
it the answer to the failure to abide by the requirements of the old covenant
(cp Heb 8:12; 10:17,18). And, forgiveness experienced during the OT period
depended finally upon an event that was to take place in the future. The
sacrifice of Christ is the answer to sin in every era, past and present (Rom
3:25), since it alone is the means of forgiveness. Cp esp Rom 3:25: "God
presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did
this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had LEFT THE SINS
COMMITTED BEFOREHAND UNPUNISHED."
RANSOM: "Apolutrosis" = to be bought away from. See
THE FIRST COVENANT: The Mosaic covenant (Gal
Vv 16,17: The whole of this translation, not that much
different from the KJV and various other versions, presumes the Greek word
"diatheke" to be a will, or testament, which is only in force after the death of
the testator. But the primary meaning of this word is 'covenant', not 'will' or
'testament'. This is a very secondary and specialized meaning of the word. In
short, every will is a covenant, but not every covenant is a will!
However, some translations (notably the Emphatic Diaglott)
seem to have gotten it right, assuming the more general meaning of "covenant".
And thus we might translate vv 16,17:
"For where a covenant is made, there must of necessity be the
death of the covenant-victim. For a covenant is only in force over a dead body
[this is Jer 34:18-20!], because it is not binding as long as the
Weymouth's translation has this footnote: "It is possible that
the real meaning is, 'For where a covenant is made, there must be evidence of
the death of the covenant-victim...' " With this Bullinger is in general
agreement, and Rotherham has an interesting note on the word "covenant": "The NT
word 'diatheke' signifies 'covenant' because it is the LXX rendering of the
Hebrew 'berith' which everywhere in the OT means covenant and covenant only...
It is a word in common use to denote all sorts of covenants between all sorts of
persons." Rotherham then goes out to trace the obvious connections with "berith"
(covenant) in Exodus 24 and "diatheke" (covenant) in Mat 26:27,28 -- as a guide
to its meaning in the Letter to the Hebrews.
The point is obvious: If Christ were making a "last will and
testament", then it could only have effect if he remained dead. But he has been
raised from the dead, to share in the benefits of the "diatheke", indeed, to
receive the benefits of the "diatheke" first of all for himself, before it could
be for others. And so -- since Christ is not dead, but gloriously and eternally
alive -- the whole idea of a testament and a testator breaks down totally when
applied to him and the saints. (There is also this point: to introduce what is
essentially a Gentile concept into what is an otherwise wholly Jewish, and
Mosaic-oriented, letter would be an incongruity of significant
Christ therefore is being described here as the
"covenant-victim" (cp Gen 15:17; Jer 34:18,19): his death -- in addition to
being a sacrifice for sins -- was also the antitype of the death of the special
animal called the "covenant-victim" (see Lesson, Covenant-victim, the). It was thru
this death that the new covenant was ratified (cp generally Luk 1:72,73; Rom
15:8; Acts 3:25,26).
THIS IS WHY EVEN THE FIRST COVENANT WAS NOT PUT INTO EFFECT
WITHOUT BLOOD: The writer now backs up, and in vv 19,20 analyzes the
ratification of the old covenant -- thus explaining the pattern by which the new
covenant was also to be ratified.
Vv 19,20: The author first shows the close connection between
the giving of the law by Moses and the actual sealing of the covenant through
the sprinkling of blood (Exo 24:3-8) -- whilst bringing together material from
other OT passages as well (eg, Num 19:18,19; Exo 12:22; Lev 8:15,19; 14:4). An
argument in favor of the latter suggestion is the association of Exodus 24 and
Leviticus 19 in the synagogue lectionary.
The point of all this is clear: the sacrifice of animals and
the ritualistic sprinkling of special objects with blood were important in the
establishment of the covenant between God and Israel. This is made explicit
through the citation of Exo 24:8 in v 20.
"The blood of the covenant" indeed serves a ratifying function
whereby both parties obligate themselves to be faithful to the terms of the
covenant. In the NT the shed blood of Jesus is explicitly associated with the
new covenant (Luke 22:20; 1Co 11:25; cp Mat 26:28; Mark 14:24). (Even the ritual
of the sprinkling of blood can be alluded to in reference to Christ's blood in
1Pe 1:2.) Any unfaithful party was subject to the fate of the sacrificial
animal. Thus the blood of the covenant confirmed the reality of the covenant and
emphasized the importance of faithfulness to it. (See Lesson,
CALVES: "Bullocks" (Diag). The AV adds, "and of goats"
-- ie, from burnt offering and peace offering (Exo 24:5; cp Lev 1:10).
WATER: Probably added to the blood to increase the
quantity and to prevent coagulation, but the water in view may be that mixed
with the ashes of a heifer and used for purification according to Num
SCARLET WOOL AND BRANCHES OF HYSSOP: The wool was
apparently used to fasten the hyssop sprig to a stick of cedar wood, thus making
a utensil for ritual cleansing (cp Lev 14:4-7; Num 19:6).
THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT: "There is a strange power
about the very name of blood, and the sight of it is always affecting. A kind
heart cannot bear to see a sparrow bleed, and unless familiarized by use, turns
away with horror at the slaughter of a beast. As to the blood of men, it is a
consecrated thing: it is murder to shed it in wrath, it is a dreadful crime to
squander it in war... the blood is the life, and the pouring of it forth the
token of death... When we rise to contemplate the blood of the Son of God, our
awe is yet more increased, and we shudder as we think of the guilt of sin, and
the terrible penalty which the Sin-bearer endured. Blood, always precious, is
priceless when it streams from Immanuel's side. The blood of Jesus seals the
covenant of grace, and makes it for ever sure. Covenants of old were made by
sacrifice, and the everlasting covenant was ratified in the same manner. Oh, the
delight of being saved upon the sure foundation of divine engagements which
cannot be dishonoured! Salvation by the works of the law is a frail and broken
vessel whose shipwreck is sure; but the covenant vessel fears no storms, for the
blood ensures the whole. The blood of Jesus made God's covenant valid"
IN THE SAME WAY, HE SPRINKLED WITH THE BLOOD BOTH THE
TABERNACLE AND EVERYTHING USED IN ITS CEREMONIES: Cp Exo 29:12,20,36; Lev
8:15,19; 9:8,9,18; 16:14-19.
WITHOUT THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD THERE IS NO FORGIVENESS:
The central importance of blood to the forgiveness of sins is stressed in Lev
17:11: "The life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to
make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement
for one's life."
Vv 23-28: Christ and his work: the final answer to sin. This
section summarizes the argument of the preceding sections: the repetition of the
main points is deliberate (cp v 24 with v 11, and vv 25,26 with v 12). The
stress is on what Christ has already done, once–and–for–all,
rather than on what remains to occur.
IT WAS NECESSARY, THEN, FOR THE COPIES OF THE HEAVENLY
THINGS TO BE PURIFIED WITH THESE SACRIFICES, BUT THE HEAVENLY THINGS THEMSELVES
WITH BETTER SACRIFICES THAN THESE: "These sacrifices" were described in the
preceding section (vv 19–22; cp v 13). This was God's will for the Mosaic
dispensation. And it was also His intention that the Levitical sacrifices
foreshadow the sacrifice of Christ -- which was the "better sacrifice" than
these are necessary.
Why is "better sacrifices" plural, since there is really only
one, "for-all-time" sacrifice (Heb 10:10,12)? Linguistically, because "the
plural sacrifices here is caused by the generic contrast with the sacrifices of
the old covenant" (NIBC). Figuratively, because -- perhaps -- the one sacrifice
of Christ is mirrored in the many "sacrifices" of those in him, whose baptism
and way of life replicate the "once, for-all" sacrifice of their
COPIES: Gr "hupodeigmata": sw Heb 4:11; 8:5.
The "copies" or patterns "of things in the heavens": refs to
several Rev visions...
HEAVENLY THINGS THEMSELVES: The heavenly "tabernacle" =
Christ and the saints -- God's tabernacle (see Heb 8:2n). Even Christ himself
must purify himself from the taint of death (ie Gal 4:4), and from the curse of
hanging on the tree (Gal 3:13; Deu 21:22).
FOR CHRIST DID NOT ENTER A MAN-MADE SANCTUARY THAT WAS ONLY
A COPY OF THE TRUE ONE; HE ENTERED HEAVEN ITSELF, NOW TO APPEAR FOR US IN GOD'S
PRESENCE: Christ himself is the reality to which the copies pointed. His
sacrificial work thus was presented, so to speak, in heaven itself, and there he
now continues in his high priestly ministry of intercession in God's presence
(cp Heb 6:20; 7:25; Rom 8:34).
In a sense, the "heavenly" place is not so much a location, as
a relationship with God: in like manner, the saints are made to sit in heavenly
places in Christ (Eph 1:20; 2:6) -- altho not literally in heaven
NOR DID HE ENTER HEAVEN TO OFFER HIMSELF AGAIN AND AGAIN,
THE WAY THE HIGH PRIEST ENTERS THE MOST HOLY PLACE EVERY YEAR: By its very
nature the work of the high priest involved the annually repeated (on the Day of
Atonement) sacrifice and entry into the Holy of Holies.
WITH BLOOD THAT IS NOT HIS OWN: Each year, of course,
there had to be new blood, blood of "another" sacrifice, and another, and
another, ad infinitum.
THEN CHRIST WOULD HAVE HAD TO SUFFER MANY TIMES SINCE THE
CREATION OF THE WORLD: But since in the supreme act of atonement Jesus took
his own blood, and not that "of another," it is impossible for him to repeat the
act of atonement, since this would entail his repeated dying, even from the
beginning of time.
BUT NOW HE HAS APPEARED ONCE FOR ALL AT THE END OF THE AGES
TO DO AWAY WITH SIN BY THE SACRIFICE OF HIMSELF: It is precisely here that
the contrast between Christ's high priestly work and that of the Levitical high
priest is most startling and revealing. It is important to note the close
connection that exists between the once–and–for–all character
of Christ's sacrifice and the fact that Christ's sacrificial work depends upon
his own blood (cp Heb 7:27; 9:12). Where sin has been definitively canceled, as
it has in Christ, the ages of the world have reached a turning point (cp Heb
1:2; 1Co 10:11).
TO DO AWAY WITH SIN: To "annul" or "cancel" sin.
"Athetesis" is the same word used in Heb 7:18 (NIV "set aside"). Christ did away
with sin, first of all, in living a life of perfect obedience (Rom 3:22n), and
THEN he did away with his sinful nature on the cross (Rom 7:18; Job 14:4; 25:4;
2Co 5:21; Rom 8:3). Thus he destroyed the "devil" (Heb 2:14,15).
And finally, by his once-and-for-all sacrifice, Christ put
away all OTHER offerings for sin!
Vv 27,28: The author here draws a parallel between the
experience of man (ie, humankind) and that of Christ. In both instances, death
can occur only once (Gen 3:19) but is not the end of the story. After death
human beings face judgment; after his death, Christ will return to bring
salvation, ie, to deliver his people from judgment. Whereas on the one hand
judgment is a threat facing mankind, on the other, those who depend upon
Christ's atoning work receive deliverance from judgment with the result that
salvation is finally and fully experienced by those who are waiting for him (cp
Phi 3:20; 2Ti 4:8). Thus, in keeping with the finality of Christ's sacrifice,
the possibility of eternal salvation depends squarely upon the reality of
Christ's atonement for sin.
SO CHRIST WAS SACRIFICED ONCE TO TAKE AWAY THE SINS OF MANY
PEOPLE: The type is the HiPr going into the Most Holy, with the emblems of
the 12 tribes on his garments, representing as he does the whole of the nation.
And the antitype is Christ going to the cross and to heaven. "For he bore the
sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors" (Isa 53:12; cp 1Pe
AND HE WILL APPEAR A SECOND TIME, NOT TO BEAR SIN, BUT TO
BRING SALVATION TO THOSE WHO ARE WAITING FOR HIM: "The idea of appearing a
second time, after the accomplishment of atonement in the presence of God, is
reminiscent of the reappearance of the high priest after he had accomplished his
task in the Holy of Holies. The apprehensiveness of the crowd while the high
priest was out of sight, [is] followed by their great joy at his
NOT TO BEAR SIN: The AV "without sin" is better. Here,
Jesus is spoken of -- not as a bearing, or carrying away, sin -- but much more
as one who had possessed "sin" (in the flesh) before, but does so no longer.
John Carter's exposition of this passage is clear, unambiguous
and correct: "As the high priest came out of the tabernacle to bless a waiting,
expectant Israel, so Christ will appear a second time. He will come 'apart from
sin' himself, for the old nature, sin nature that he bore, has been changed to
'a body of glory'. The past years were 'the days of his flesh' when he 'was made
sin', though he knew no sin'. He will come for the salvation of those who wait
for him, to change their bodies and make them like unto the body of his glory"
(CHeb 109). He clearly has no qualms about attaching the word 'sin' to
THOSE WHO ARE WAITING FOR HIM: So don't be among the
throng of Jews, who every year return to the Temple to await the return of the
High Priest from the Most Holy Place, for the "forgiveness" he brings is only
temporary and ineffective. Instead, remain with the congregation of believers in
Christ, and await the return of the true High Priest from heaven, for he will
bring an eternal, once-and-for-all absolution and cleansing of ALL