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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

Hebrews 8

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

1.] Now the principal matter ( κεφάλαιον most usually has this meaning. So Thuc. iv. 50, ἐν αἷς ( ἐπιστολαῖς) πολλῶν ἄλλων γεγραμμένων, κεφάλαιον ἦν κ. τ. λ.: Plato, Gorg. p. 453 A, ἡ πραγματεία αὐτῆς ( τῆς ῥητορικῆς) ἅπασα κ. τὸ κεφάλαιον εἰς τοῦτο τελευτᾷ: Demosth. p. 815. 6, καὶ τὸ μὲν κεφάλαιον ἀδικημάτων, ὡς ἂν συντομώτατʼ εἴποι τις, τοῦτʼ ἐστίν: and see many more examples in Bl. and Wetst., as in Thl., τὸ μέγιστον καὶ συνεκτικώτερον. The other meaning, sum total, would be apposite enough here, were the sense of κεφ. confined to Hebrews 8:1, which has been treated of before: but Hebrews 8:2 contains new particulars, which cannot be said to be the sum of any things hitherto said. Besides, even were that condition fulfilled, this sense would require not the present participle λεγομένοις, but the past, λεχθεῖσιν, or εἰρημένοις, and the participle itself would more probably be in the genitive, as in Isocr. Nicocl. p. 90, κεφάλαιον τῶν εἰρημένων: Themist. de Pace, p. 230, κεφάλαιον τοῦ παρόντος λόγου.

κεφάλαιον is not, “a principal matter,” as Lünem.:—words thus thrown forward do not require the article to make them definite: cf. the examples given above) in the things which we are saying ( ἐπί, ‘upon:’ lying as it were, by, and among. This seems best; we might render it, as in Luke 16:26, ‘besides,’ but the present part. seems to forbid rendering “the things already said,” as most Commentators and E. V. Hofmann, Schriftb. ii. 1, p. 287 f., adopts a curious arrangement: taking κεφάλαιον δέ by itself, he understands ἀρχιερεῦσιν after λεγομένοις, and renders, “besides these, who are called high priests, we have,” &c. This is far-fetched and unnatural: for had λεγομένοις borne any such meaning, we should certainly have had the predicate, which would thus be emphasized, expressed, and not understood: as in 1 Corinthians 8:5-6, εἴπερ εἰσὶν λεγόμενοι θεοὶ κ. τ. λ., ἀλλʼ ἡμῖν εἷς θεὸς κ. τ. λ.): we have such an High Priest (emphasis on τοιοῦτον, which refers, not to what preceded, but to what is to follow, viz. ὃς ἐκάθισεν κ. τ. λ.) who sat down (“In ch. Hebrews 1:3, the sitting at the right hand of God was mentioned as a pre-eminence of the Son above the angels, who stand as ministering spirits before the presence of God: here, where the same is said of Christ as High Priest, Schlichting, Limborch, Klee, al. rightly remark that there is again a pre-eminence in καθίσαι over the Jewish high priests: for these, even when they entered the holiest place, did not sit down by the throne of God, but only stood before it for a moment: cf. ch. Hebrews 10:11-12, καὶ πᾶς μὲν ἀρχιερεὺς ἕστηκεν καθʼ ἡμέραν λειτουργῶν.… οὗτος δὲ.… εἰς τὸ διηνεκὲς ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ θεοῦ.” Bleek. Lünem. calls this fanciful: but such distinctions are not surely to be overlooked altogether) on the right hand of the throne of majesty in the heavens (better thus, than “of the majesty in the heavens,” τῆς μεγ τῆς ἐν τοῖς οὐρ. The last words, ἐν τοῖς οὐρ., may belong not merely to τῆς μεγαλως., but to the whole preceding, ἐκάθ. ἐν δεξ. τοῦ θρ. τῆς μεγ. But see on ch. Hebrews 1:3, where we have the very similar expression, ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τῆς μεγαλωσύνης ἐν ὑψηλοῖς: and where it seems simpler to join ἐν ὑψ. with τῆς μεγαλωσύνης. If taken as above, it will be best for this reason also to drop the English definite art. before ‘majesty,’ and regard τῆς μεγ. as abstract. Hofmann (Schriftb. ii. 1. 289, and Weissagung u. Erfüllung, ii. 190) strangely joins ἐν τοῖς οὐρ. with what follows, an order which hardly could be imagined in this Epistle, and wholly unnecessary for the sense, in which, Christ having been once asserted to have sat down in the heavens, it necessarily follows that the ἅγια afterwards spoken of are ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς. On the expression ὁ θρόν. τῆς μεγ. Thl. remarks, τὸν πατρικόν φησι, ἢ ὅτι καὶ ὁ πατὴρ λεχθείη ἂν αὐτῷ μεγαλωσύνη, ἢ ὅτι ἁπλῶς οὕτω θρόνος μεγαλωσύνης ὁ μέγιστος θρόνος. The former and not the latter is evidently the sense here. All such mere periphrases of the adjectival predicate would be unworthy of the solemnity and dignity of the subject and style),


Verses 1-13

1–13.] Not only is Christ personally, as a High Priest, above the sons of Aaron, but the service and ordinances of the covenant to which his High Priesthood belongs are better than those of that to which they belong.


Verse 2

2.] minister ( λεῖτον ἐκάλουν οἱ παλαιοὶ τὸ δημόσιον, ὅθεν λειτουργεῖν τὸ εἰς τὸ δημόσιον ἐργάζεσθαι ἔλεγον. Schol. in Demosth. Lept. The LXX use the verb and subst. to express the Heb. שֵׁרֵת and מְשָׁרֵת, in reference to the sacerdotal service in the sanctuary: see, for the verb, Exodus 28:31; Exodus 28:39 (Exodus 28:35; Exo_28:43); Exodus 29:30; Exodus 35:18; Deuteronomy 17:12; Deuteronomy 3 Kings 8:11; 1 Chronicles 6:32; 2 Chronicles 13:10; Ezekiel 44:27, where we have λειτουργεῖν ἐν τῷ ἁγίῳ: Ezekiel 45:4 al.: and for the subst., Nehemiah 10:39; Isaiah 61:6; Sirach 7:30) of the holy places ( τῶν ἁγίων is taken as mase by τινες in Thl., and by Œc., τῶν ἡγιασμένων παρʼ αὐτοῦ ἀνθρώπων· ἡμῶν γάρ ἐστιν ἀρχιερεύς. But ἡμῶν ἀρχιερεύς and ἡμῶν λειτουργός are very different things. The λειτουργός is subordinate to those whose minister he is, as in Joshua 1:1 λ, τῷ ἰησοῦτῷ λειτουργῷ ΄ωυσῆ: see also 2 Kings 13:18; 2 Kings 3 Kings 10:5; 4 Kings 4:43; Hebrews 6:15; 2 Chronicles 9:4. See also Numbers 3:6; Numbers 18:2. It is taken by Luther (und ist ein pfleger der heiligen Guter) as importing holy things, as it seems to be in Philo, Leg. Alleg. iii. 46, vol. i. p. 114, τοιοῦτος δὲ ὁ θεραπευτὴς κ. λειτουργὸς τῶν ἁγίων, and De Profug. 17, p. 560, ἡ λευϊτικὴ φυλὴ νεωκόρων κ. ἱερέων ἐστίν, οἷς ἡ τῶν ἁγίων ἀνάκειται λειτουργία. But this does not seem to answer to the usage of τὰ ἅγια in our Epistle. Cf. reff., in which τὰ ἅγια imports the holy place, i. e. the holy of holies. It does not seem necessary to supply any thing after τῶν ἁγίων, as τῶν ἁληθινῶν, or τῶν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς: this distinction is brought out by what follows. As yet Christ is spoken of as being in common with the Levitical priests τῶν ἁγίων λειτουργός. See below), and of the true (archetypal, only true, as so often in St. John, and in one passage of St. Luke, Luke 16:11; see reff. The difference between ἀληθινός and ἀληθής is well sketched by Kahnis, Abendmahl, p. 119, cited in Delitzsch: “ ἀληθής excludes the untrue and unreal, ἀληθινός that which does not fulfil its idea. The measure of ἀληθής is reality, that of ἀληθινός ideality. In ἀληθής, the idea corresponds to the thing, in ἀληθινός, the thing to the idea”) tabernacle, which the Lord (here evidently the Father: see note on ch. Hebrews 12:14) pitched (the usual LXX word of fixing the tabernacle, or a tent: see reff. And so m the classics: e. g. Herod. vi. 12, and many examples in Bleek and Wetst. It is used similarly of the heaven in Isaiah 42:5, ὁ ποιήσας τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ πήξας αὐτόν), not (any) man (not οὐχ ὁ ἄνθρωπος, which would be the literal way of expressing ‘not man,’ generically: because by the indefinite ἄνθρωπος, anarthrons, every individual man is excluded. It is an important question, symbolically considered, whether any and what distinction is intended by the Writer, between τῶν ἁγίων and τῆς σκηνῆς. Delitzsch, in loc., has gone into it at length, and Hofmann has treated of it in two places especially, Weiss. u. Erf. ii. 188 ff. and Schriftb. ii. 1. 405 f. Both are agreed that τὰ ἅγια betokens the immediate, immaterial presence of God, the veritable Holy of Holies, beyond, and approached through, the heavens, ch. Hebrews 4:14. But as regards σκηνή, they differ. Hofmann maintains it to be the glorified body of Christ, and argues that it alone will satisfy such expressions as that in ch. Hebrews 9:11, οὐ ταύτης τῆς κτίσεως: in order to satisfying which, this σκηνή must belong to the new creation, the παλιγγενεσία, which commences with the glorification of Christ. This glorified body of His is the new and abiding temple of God, in which He dwells and meets with us who are united to and have put on that glorified body, our house, eternal in the heavens: for so Hofmann interprets 2 Corinthians 5:1 ff. On the other hand, Delitzsch controverts this view as inconsistent with the symbolism in ch. Hebrews 9:11-12, where Christ διὰ τῆς μείζονος κ. τελειοτέρας σκηνῆςεἰσῆλθενεἰς τὰ ἅγια, taking this connexion of the words: and also with our Hebrews 8:5, where the Mosaic tabernacle is set forth as the representation and shadow of the heavenly. Accordingly, he believes the σκηνή, here to be the heavenly Jerusalem, the worship-place (Anbetungsstätte) of blessed spirits (Psalms 29:9) and of those men who have been rapt in vision thither (Isaiah 6),—the ναὸς τῆς σκηνῆς τοῦ μαρτυρίου of Revelation 15:5,—the place where God’s visible presence (in contradistinction to His personal and invisible presence in the ἅγια) is manifested to His creatures angelic and human. See much more, well worth studying, in his note here.

In weighing these two opinions, I own they seem to me to run into one, and of that one by far the larger component is on Hofmann’s side. For what is the heavenly Jerusalem? What, but the aggregate, in their persons and their glorious abiding-place, of the triumphant saints and servants of God? And what is this aggregate, but the mystical body, of which Christ is the Head and they are the members, in its fulfilment and perfection? That glorified body of His, in which they are accepted before God, and in which as a heavenly temple, they serve God, and God dwells, He has passed through, not by passing out of it, but by finally establishing it as an accomplished thing in God’s sight, and in and as proceeding forth from it carrying on his intercession and λειτουργία τῆς σκηνῆς τῆς ἀληθινῆς in the ἅγια itself. See more on this subject, ch. Hebrews 9:11; and the views of Bleek, Tholuck, al.: also a sermon of Schleiermacher’s on the text, vol. ii. of his Predigten, p. 504. The idea of the σκηνή being the body of Christ is found in Joh. Philoponus (Cent. vii.) on Genesis 1 (in Bleek): τὸ δὲ τοῦ ἀποστόλου, “ καὶ τῆς σκηνῆς.… ἄνθρωπος,” οὐχ οὕτω περὶ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ λελέχθαι μοι δοκεῖ, καθά τινες ἔφρασαν, ὡς περὶ τοῦ κυριακοῦ σώματος, εἰ ἐπιστήσει τις ἀκριβῶν τῷ τόπῳ, κατὰ τὸ εἰρημένον,— καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο, καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν. It is also the view of Beza, Gerhard, Owen, Bengel, al.).


Verse 3

3.] For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices (see the very similar passage, ch. Hebrews 5:1, and note there): whence it is necessary that this (High Priest) also have somewhat which he may offer (there is here considerable difficulty. For the Writer is evidently, from what follows, laying the stress on the heavenly λειτουργία of Christ: and this ὃ προσενέγκῃ applies therefore to His work not on earth, but in heaven. If so, how comes it to be said that He has somewhat to offer in heaven, seeing that His offering, of Himself, was made once for all, in contradistinction to those of the Levitical priests which were being constantly offered? See especially ch. Hebrews 10:11-12, which, on this view, brings the Writer here into direct contradiction to himself. In order to avoid this, Lünemann and Hofmann (Schriftb. ii. 1. 288) attempt to make the aor. προσενέγκῃ retrospective: “it is necessary for Him to have (there, in heaven) somewhat (viz. His body) which he may have offered.” But surely this is a view of the aorist which cannot be admitted. In such sentences, the uses of the aor. and pres. seem to regard not the time, objectively, of the act expressed, but its nature, subjectively, as an act rapidly passing in each case, or enduring. The straightforward construction of our sentence makes it necessary that προσενέγκῃ should refer to an act done in the state pointed out by the ἔχειν, however the nature of that act may be, in each case of its being done, such as to be accomplished at the moment, and not enduring onwards: which latter, expressed by ὃ προσφέρῃ, would certainly involve the contradiction above spoken of. Thus regarded then, what is it which our High Priest in heaven has to offer? In ch. Hebrews 5:7, He is described as προσενέγκας prayers and supplications in the days of His flesh: and it might be thought that His ἐντυγχάνειν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, ch. Hebrews 7:25, might be here meant, the offering being those intercessions. But this would hardly satisfactorily give the τι, which as Delitzsch remarks, is too concrete for such an interpretation. It must be something with which and by virtue of which, and as offering and applying which, our High Priest enters and ministers in the Holy of Holies above. Now if we look to the analogy of ch. Hebrews 9:7; Hebrews 9:12, we see, 1. that the high priest entered the holy place οὺ χωρὶς αἵματος, ὃ προσφέρει ὑπὲρ ἑαυτοῦ κ. τῶν τοῦ λαοῦ ἀγνοημάτων,—2. that Christ is entered into the ἅγια of heaven οὐ διʼ αἵματος τράγων καὶ μόσχων, διὰ δὲ τοῦ ἰδίου αἵματος: see also ib. Hebrews 9:25. This BLOOD of the one offering, Christ is represented as bearing into the Holy Place, and its application is ever set forth to us as a continuing and constantly repeated one. Thus this blood of sprinkling is regarded as being in heaven, ch. Hebrews 12:24; as being sprinkled on the believer as the end of his election, 1 Peter 1:2; as cleansing us from all sin, 1 John 1:7; as that wherein the saints wash their robes and make them white, Revelation 7:14. Still, as Delitzsch also remarks, this is not the place to enlarge on this matter, seeing that it is merely incidentally introduced here, the present object being to shew that it is in heaven, and not on earth, that our High Priest ministers. The Roman Catholic interpretation of this place, as represented by Corn. a-Lapide, is worth noticing, if only to remark how absolutely inconsistent it is with the argument of the Epistle: “Ergo Christus in cœlo suas hostias et munera offert, scilicet suum in cruce sacrificium, quod olim in monte Calvariæ obtulit, nunc quoque id ipsum per continuam commemorationem Patri in cœlo offert. Secundo, et proprie, Christus in cœlo offert sacrificia missæ, quæ toto orbe quotidie celebrantur; in his enim primus et primarius sacerdos qui consecrat, offert, et transubstantiationem peragit, est Christus.” Estius, more cautiously, “Probabile est apostolum loqui de ea oblatione qua se ipsum quondam in cruce passum et oblatum, continuo nunc repræsentat Patri in cœlis. Nam de altera (Christum, etsi in cœlo regnantem, offerre quotidie se ipsum adhuc in terris per ministros et vicarios suos sacerdotes) apostolus prorsus tacet, quia mysterium est, quod intelligendum relinquit fidelibus mysteriorum consciis.” This last would make a curious canon of interpretation).


Verses 3-6

3–6.] This heavenly office and work our High Priest must have, if He be veritably a High Priest.


Verse 4

4.] Yea, if (or as rec., “For if …,” which follows more smoothly and naturally on the position of Hebrews 8:2, and on that very account is probably a correction. Hofmann, as above, laying all the stress on the aor. προσενέγκῃ, takes the γάρ as justifying that aorist: Er muss ein nicht erst darzubringendes, sondern, dargebrachtes Opfer haben:—denn wäre er auf Erden … But see on this above. The connexion is obvious: ‘our High Priest must have somewhat to offer. But on earth this could not be: for’ &c.) he were (not, “had been,” though grammatically it might be so: the pres. part. ὄντων, which follows, and λατρεύουσι, continuing it, shew that this ἧν is spoken of a continuing, not of a past hypothesis) on earth (some, as Grot., Wolf, al., supply μόνον after γῆς—and something in the same view Œc., τοῦτο δὲ ἦν εἰ μὴ ἐτεθνήκει, μηδὲ ἐγερθεὶς ἀνελήφη: and Thdrt., περιττὸν ἦν αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ γῇ διαιτώμενον ἱερέα καλεῖν: others, as Gerhard, Heinrichs, al., supply ἀρχιερεύς or ἱερεύς: but this it seems to me would stultify the argument. There is no need of any thing supplied) He would not even be a priest (observe the emphasis: which is not, as Bleek, He would not even be a priest, much less a High Priest ( οὐδʼ ἱερεὺς ἂν ἦν), but the stress is on the verb ἦν, and it is taken ex concesso that the ἀρχιερεύς belonged to the genus ἱερεύς: ‘He would not even belong to the category of priests.’ In the background lies, ‘and if not so, certainly could not be a High Priest:’ but it is not brought forward, nor does it belong to the argument, which continues ὄντ ων, not ὄντος), since there are ( ὄντων, emphatic: ‘there are already:’ not, “were” (as Grot.: “erant, nempe quum Psalmus iste scriberetur”), as is shewn by λατρεύουσιν below. The time indicated is that of writing the Epistle) those who offer the gifts according to (the) law (the law, equally, with or without the article; not only because but one law can be meant, but because the art. is so constantly omitted after a preposition even when required in translation),


Verse 5

5.] men who ( ἱερεῖς τῶν ἰουδαίων φησί, Œc. By οἵτινες is pointed out the class, or official description: mean those who’) serve ( λατρεύειν occurs eight times in St. Luke, four times in St. Paul, and six times in this Epistle, It has more the general sense of ‘serving,’ either God, as almost always, or some especial portion of divine service or sacred things, as here and ch. Hebrews 13:10. λειτουργεῖν is the more proper word for priestly ministration. On the construction, see below) the delineation ( ὑπόδειγμα cannot as in ch. Hebrews 4:11 mean, a pattern, or example: but must be taken, less usually but more strictly as answering to ὑποδεικνύναι, ‘oculis subjicere,’ here and in ch. Hebrews 9:23, as meaning a suggestive representation, or sketch. So Thl., ὑποδείγματα, τουτέστιν ἀμυδρὰ δείγματα καὶ οἷον σκιαγραφήματα τὰ ἐν τῇ παλαιᾷ ὑποδειχθέντα τῷ ΄ωυσεῖ. It corresponds to δειχθέντα σοι in the following citation) and shadow (‘adumbration,’ σκιαγράφημα. See on ch. Hebrews 10:1, where σκιά and εἰκών are contrasted. As regards the construction: Calvin, Bengel, al. take λατρεύουσιν absolutely, and ὑποδείγματι κ. τ. λ. ablatively: “who serve (God) in a delineation and shadow” &c. But this is far-fetched, and unnecessary, especially in the presence of ch. Hebrews 13:10, where it is hardly possible to regard τῇ σκηνῇ otherwise than as the objective dative to λατρεύοντες) of the heavenly things (i. e. the things in heaven, in the heavenly sanctuary: correspondent to τὸν τύπον τὸν δειχθέντα σοι ἐν τῷ ὄρει: see also ch. Hebrews 9:23-24. Chrys. understands it of spiritual things: τίνα λέγει ἐνταῦθα τὰ ἐπουράνια; τὰ πνευματικά· εἰ γὰρ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς τελεῖται, ἀλλʼ ὅμως τῶν οὐρανῶν εἰσιν ἄξια,—and then goes on to instance the work of the Spirit in baptism, the power of the keys, the utterance of Christian praise, &c. And Luther renders, der himmlischen Guter. But the context clearly requires the other view): even as Moses was commanded (“admonished of God,” E. V., an excellent rendering. χρηματίζω is used in the later classics, but as early as Demosthenes, for to give a decisive answer, “responsum ex deliberatione reddere,” as Reiske. Hence it came afterwards to be appropriated mainly to responses, warnings, commands, given from the Deity: so Diod. Sic. iii. 6, τοὺς γὰρ θεοὺς αὐτοῖς ταῦτα κεχρηματικέναι; xv. 10, περὶ δὲ τῶν χρησμῶν ἔφησε, μὴ χρηματίζειν τὸν θεὸν καθόλου περὶ θανάτου. And so constantly in the Scriptures both LXX and N. T. reff. and Jeremiah 32:30 (25:30); Jeremiah 37:2 (30:2); Luke 2:26. The earlier classical verb is χράω of the deity giving the oracle, χράομαι of the person consulting it. Observe the perfect, not the aor., giving a fine distinction not reproducible in English: viz. that these figures of the heavenly things were still subsisting as ordained to Moses, when the Epistle was written) when about to complete (not in distinction from beginning, as if he were about to put the finishing stroke to the work already nearly ended: but involving the whole work: ‘to take in hand and carry on to completion’) the tabernacle: for ( γάρ justifies the assertion by the following citation) Take heed, He says (supply ὁ θεός; there can be no doubt of this here, where the words following are God’s own), that thou makest ( ποιήσῃς and ποιήσεις give a like sense, and in English must be expressed by the same. The former is better Greek; the latter according to the LXX: manuscript authority must prevail) all things ( πάντα is not in the LXX, nor in the Heb., but is supplied also by Philo, Legg. Allegor. iii. 33, vol. i. p. 108, κατὰ τὸ παράδειγμα τὸ δεδειγμένον σοι ἐν τῷ ὄρει πάντα ποιήσεις) according to the pattern which was shewn (LXX, δεδειγμένον) thee in the mount. If now we ask what this τύπος was, we are met with various replies. Faber Stapulensis says, “Arbitror id insinuare, non nudam veritatem in monte Mosi fuisse ostentatam, sed veritatis adumbrationem et remotam quandam ideam. Et quomodo etiam vidisset veritatem, nisi per speciem nude et revelate divina conspexisset, quod viatorum et adhuc in vita mortali peregrinantium non est. Typus igitur erat quod videbat, nondum ipsa veritas et archetypus.” And so Schlichting, concluding, “adeo ut tabernaculum antiquum exemplar tantum fuerit exemplaris, et umbra umbræ.” This view, which is that also of Bleek and Storr, is strongly controverted by Delitzsch, who takes the τύπος to be the veritable heavenly things themselves, not seen however by Moses directly and naturally, which would be impossible, but made visible to him in a vision. I do not see that there is much to choose between the two views. If the latter be taken, then surely the vision thus vouchsafed to Moses was itself only an intermediate representation, and so this view comes much to the same as the other.


Verse 6

6.] But now (the logical, not the temporal νυνί, as in ch. Hebrews 9:26; Hebrews 11:16 ( νῦν), and frequently in St. Paul: ‘ut res se habet:’ νυνὶ δέ φησιν, ἐπειδὴ μὴ ἔστιν ἐν τῇ γῇ, ἀλλʼ ἐν τῷ οὐρανᾷ, βελτίονος ἐπέτυχε λειτουργίας, τουτέστιν ἐπὶ βελτίονα λειτουργίαν ἐστὶν ἀρχιερεύς Œc.) He hath obtained ( τέτευχα (rec.) is properly the Ionic form of the perfect, but occurs in Aristotle and later writers: but τέτυχα is also found in later writers, as Plutarch and Diod. Sic. The other reading here, τετύχηκεν, is the true Attic form) a more excellent ministry (than that of any earthly priests), in proportion as (there is an ellipsis in the earlier clause of τοσούτῳ, which now lurks under the comparative: so in ch. Hebrews 3:3) He is also ( καί, introducing a special reference to an already acknowledged fact, as in ch. Hebrews 6:7, where see note) mediator (see reff. The meaning of μεσίτης, a later Greek word, is not far from that of ἔγγυος,—one who becomes a goer between two persons, assuring to each the consent of the other to some point agreed on in common. The Atticists give us the Attic Greek for it, μεσέγγυος. Philo uses the title of Moses, οἷα μεσίτης κ. διαλλακτὴςτὰς ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἔθνους ἐποιεῖτο. And so St. Paul, in ref. Gal. The genitive after μεσίτης may either be of the persons between whom, as in ref. 1 Tim., εἷς καὶ μεσίτης θεοῦ κ. ἀνθρώπων: or of one of the parties concerned, as in Jos. Antt. xvi. 2. 2, τῶν παρʼ ἀγρίππα τινῶν ἐπιζητουμένων μεσίτης ἦν: or of the object of the mediation, the agreement or covenant, as Diod. Sic. iv. 54, μεσίτην γεγονότα τῶν ὁμολογιῶν ἐν κόλχοις: Jos. Antt. iv. 6. 7, ταῦτα ὀμνύοντες ἔλεγον καὶ θεὸν μεσίτην ὧν ὑπισχνοῦντο ποιούμενοι. And in this last sense is the gen. here. Jesus is the mediator, between God and us) of a better covenant, of one which ( ἥτις, ‘quippe quæ,’ as always. This specific relative brings the thing referred to into its category, not only identifying it as would do, but classing it, and educing its property as belonging to the matter in hand: and thus having a ratiocinative force) has been laid down (see on ref. The word νόμος is also used of the new covenant by St. James, James 1:25; James 2:12; see also James 4:12, and St. Paul, Romans 3:27; Romans 8:2; Romans 9:31) upon (on the condition of …: so Xen. Hell. ii. 2. 20, ἐποιοῦντο εἰρήνην, ἐφʼ ᾧ τά τε μακρὰ τείχηκαθελόντας κ. τ. λ.) better promises (viz. those which are about to be particularized in the following citation. Theodoret says, ἡ μὲν γὰρ παλαιὰ διαθήκη σωματικὰς ἐπαγγελίας εἶχε συνεζευγμένας, γῆν ῥέουσαν γάλα κ. μέλικαὶ παίδων πλῆθος, κ. τὰ τούτοις προσόμοια· ἡ δὲ καινὴ ζωὴν αἰώνιον κ. οὐρανῶν βασιλείαν. And so Œc., Thl., Primas., Bengel, al. But as Bleek objects, it would be very improbable that the Writer should intend to refer the promises, on which the old covenant was based, to mere earthly blessings, in the face of such a designation of the hope of Abraham and the patriarchs as we find in ch. Hebrews 11:10-19).


Verse 7

7.] Argumentation, exactly as in ch. Hebrews 7:11, from sayings of God, to shew the imperfection of the former covenant. So Chrys.: ὥσπερ γὰρ λέγει ὅτι εἰ ἡ τελείωσις κ. τ. λ. (Hebrews 7:11), οὕτω καὶ ἐνταῦθα τῷ αὐτῷ συλλογισμῷ κέχρηται. For if that first (covenant) were (or, had been. We are never sure of ἦν in such sentences, seeing that it is both imperfect and aorist. I prefer here the imperfect, seeing that the first covenant, in its ceremonial part, was yet observed. Bleek, after the vulg. (“si … culpa vacasset, non … locus inquireretur”), prefers the aorist) blameless ( τὸ ἄμεμπτος ἀντὶ τοῦ τελεία τέθεικε, τουτέστιν ἀποχρῶσα πρὸς τελειότητα, ἀμέμπτους τοὺς ἐργαζομένους ἐργαζομένη. Thdrt. It is the contrary of ἀσθενὲς κ. ἀνωφελές, ch. Hebrews 7:18), a place would not be sought (i. e. space opened, viz. in the words of the following prophecy, which indicate the substitution of such a covenant for the old one. Bleek gives a rather far-fetched interpretation,—that the τόπος is the place in men’s hearts, as distinguished from the tables of stone on which the first covenant was written; referring to 2 Corinthians 3:3 for a similar distinction. But it is far better to understand it of a place in history, and regard the expression as τόπον εὑρίσκειν and τόπον λαμβάνειν in reff., see also τόπον διδόναι, Romans 12:19. ἐζητεῖτο must not be rendered pluperfect, as in E. V., al., but, as in vulg. above, imperf.) for a second (the emphasis is on δευτέρας).


Verse 8

8.] For (there is an ellipsis of ζητεῖται δέ, and the γάρ introduces the substantiation of the assertion) blaming them (so ref. 2 Macc., μεμψάμενος αὐτοῖς εἶπεν. The dative after μέμφομαι is common in Greek: see Herod. iii. 4; iv. 180: Xen. Cyr. i. 4. 6, and many other examples in Bleek. But seeing that it appears difficult, after the word ἄμεμπτος has been used of the covenant, to apply the blame in μεμφόμενος to any object but the covenant, many Commentators have taken the participle absolutely, and joined αὐτοῖς with λέγει. So Faber Stapulensis, Piscator, Schlichting, Grot., Limborch, Peirce, Michaelis, Storr, Kuinoel, Bleek, De Wette, Lünem., al. But I cannot believe that the objective pronoun would be so loosely and ambiguously put, were it meant to be joined to λέγει. It surely must have been λέγει αὐτοῖς. And there is a propriety, which the ancients have not failed to observe, in αὐτοῖς, instead of αὐτῇ or αὐτήν. So Chrys., having explained εἰ.… ἦν ἄμεμπτος, by εἰ ἀμέμπτους ἐποίει, proceeds, ὅτι γὰρ περὶ τούταυ φησίν, ἄκουε τὰ ἑξῆς· … οὐκ εἶπε μεμφόμενος δὲ αὐτῇ, ἀλλά, μ. δὲ αὐτοῖς. And so Syr., vulg., Œc., Thl., Luther, Calv., Beza, Bengel, Wolf, al.) He saith (the following citation is the great prophetic passage Jeremiah 31:31-34, see also Ezekiel 36:25-27. “After the sack of Jerusalem, Jeremiah with the other captives was brought in chains to Rama, where Nebuzaradan had his head quarters. There took place, at God’s special command, his prophecies of the future entire restoration of Israel, of another David, of Rachel’s wailing over her children at Rama, and their future return, of the new covenant resting on absolute and veritable forgiveness of sins which Jehovah would make with his people, these prophecies forming the third part of the third trilogy of the three great trilogies into which the prophecies of Jeremiah may be divided: ch. 21–25, the book against the shepherds of the people; ch. 26–29, the book of Jeremiah’s conflict against the false prophets; ch. Jer 30:31, the book of restoration.” Delitzsch. “The question which has before now been abundantly handled, whether the saying refers to the return of the exiles, or to the covenant of which Christ is the mediator, or to the future general conversion of the Jews, or whether some things in it to one of these, some to another, or whether the whole in its lower literal sense to the return of the exiles and in its higher spiritual sense to Christ and His kingdom, must be answered by the considerations before adduced on ch. Hebrews 1:5. It belongs throughout to the cycle of Messianic prophecies, and is one of the most beautiful and sublime of them; and its true fulfilment can only be sought in the covenant brought in by the Saviour, and in the salvation through Him imparted to mankind, and ever more and more unfolded and completed. This is the case, however this salvation, in the perception and declaration of the Prophet, is bound up with the restoration of the ancient covenant people and their reunion in the land of their home.” Bleek), Behold, the days come, saith the Lord ( φησι κύριος LXX-B, but λέγει (39) (40). “The prophecy, taken from this rich cycle of eschatologic prophecies, whose clear Messianic sense allows of no evasion, begins with Jeremiah’s constant formula, ἰδοὺ ἡμέραι ἔρχονται.” Delitzsch), and ( καί explicative, answering to the Heb. ו־ in an apodosis), I will accomplish upon (LXX, διαθήσομαι τῷ οἴκῳ κ. τ. λ. The difference is beyond doubt intentional, to set forth the completeness of the new covenant. Twice in this same book (reff.), the LXX have rendered this same Heb. expression, כָּרַת בְּרִית by συντελεῖν διαθήκην. Augustine urges the word “consummabo,” De Spir. et Lit. c. 19 (34), vol. x. pt. i, “Quid est consummabo, nisi implebo?” ἐπί, with the accusative of motion, the covenant being brought upon them) the house of Israel and upon the house of Judah (both these, Israel first and Judah afterwards, were sent into captivity for their sins: and both are specified severally in God’s promise of grace and restoration) a new covenant (on διαθήκη see on ch. Hebrews 7:22),


Verses 8-12

8–12.] Proof, that a place for a second is contemplated, by citation from Jeremiah.


Verse 9

9.] (this covenant is first specified negatively: it is not to be like that first one) not according to the covenant ( לֹא כַבְּרִית, different in quality from, not after the measure of) which I made (LXX again, διεθέμην: see reff.) to (not “with:” it is a pure dative, and betokens mere agency on the part of the subject, God: the people of Israel, the objects, being only recipients, not co-agents) their fathers, in the day of my taking hold of their hand (the idiom is Hebraistic: בְּיוֹם הֶחֱזִיקִי בְיָדָם . Justin M. Dial. c. Tryph. c. 11, p. 112, cites it ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ᾗ ἐπελαβόμην. This expression would shew beyond a doubt, being one which the Writer of our Epistle would never have adopted in a translation of his own, that he is quoting the LXX) to bring them out of the land of Egypt: because they abode not in my covenant, and I disregarded them (thus, making ὅτι render a reason for the foregoing, and attaching it to the whole following sentence, most of the moderns: and this is apparently most agreeable to the Heb., אֲשֶׁר־הֵמָּה הֵפֵרוּ אֶת־בְּרִיתִי, where, says Bleek, the אֲשֶׁר is only a particle of relation or connexion with the preceding, either for the subject, “quippe illi,” or for the object, “quod fœdus meum:” and either way it = “for (or because) they broke my covenant.” But many take the sentence beginning with ὅτι as an independent one—“because they abode not in my covenant, I also disregarded them.” So Chrys. ( αὐτὴν τὴν αἰτίαν δεικνύς, διʼ ἣν καταλιμπάνει αὐτούς), Thl., Böhme, Kuinoel, Klee, al.), saith ( φησί, LXX) the Lord.

On the fact, οὐκ ἐνέμειναν, Delitzsch gives a striking quotation from Schelling, Offenbarungsphilosophie,—“The Law appears to be the mere ideal of a religious constitution, as it has never existed in fact: in practice, the Jews were almost throughout polytheists. The substance of their national feeling was formed by heathendom: the accidents only, by revelation. From the queen of heaven down to the abominations of the Phœnicians, and even to Cybele, the Jews passed through every grade of paganism.” “In fact,” adds Delitzsch, “there is no period of the history of Israel before the captivity, in which more or less idolatry was not united with the worship of Jehovah, except the time of David and the first years of Solomon, during which the influence of Samuel still continued to be felt. And when by the captivity Idol-worship was completely eradicated from the people, as far at least as regards that part of it which returned, it is well known that a hypocritical letter-worship got the mastery over them, which was morally very little better.” See note on Matthew 12:43.


Verse 10

10.] For ( כִּי : ‘because’ is too strong: the only reason rendered is for the expression καινήν above: ‘new, I say: for …’) this (predicate, explained in what follows) is the covenant which I will establish to the house (cf. Aristoph. Av. 438, ἢν μὴ διάθωνταί γʼ οἵδε διαθήκην ἐμοί) of Israel (Israel here in its wider sense, comprehending both Israel proper and Judah: because then all Israel shall be again united), after those days (Œc. understands τὰς τῆς ἐξόδου, ἐν αἷς ἔλαβον τὸν νόμον: Thl. says, ἐμοὶ δοκεῖ περὶ ἐκείνων τῶν ἡμερῶν λέγειν, περὶ ὧν ἀνωτέρω εἶπεν, ἰδοὺ ἡμέραι ἔρχονται. μεθʼ ὃ οὖν διέλθωσιν αἱ ἡμέραι ἐκεῖναι, τοιαύτην διαθήκην διαθήσομαι, οἵαν ἑξῆς ἀκούσῃ. But the ἐκείνας seems to point immediately to the time indicated by the aorist ἠμέλησα: and thus μετὰ τὰς ἡμ. ἐκ. will be, after the end of that dispensation, when those days of disregard are over), saith ( φησί LXX) the Lord; giving (the LXX-(41) (42) have διδοὺς δώσω: the Heb. נָתַתִּי . But A agrees with the text: and by the Writer repeating the same in ch. Hebrews 10:16, it is probable that he had this reading in his copy of the LXX. The participle, as it stands, is best joined, as Œc., with διαθήσομαι, and καὶἐπιγράψω taken as a fresh and independent clause. This is the first of the κρείττονες ἐπαγγελίαι on which the new covenant is established) my laws into their mind ( διάνοια, their inward parts, their spiritual man, as distinguished from the mere sensorium which receives impressions from without: Heb. קֶרֶב ), and on their heart (LXX-A, καὶ ἐπιγρ. αὐτοὺς ἐπὶ τὰς κ. αὐτῶν. Either gen., dat. (as B), or accus. is suitable: if accus., the act of transference by inscription, rather than the fact of being inscribed, is in view: if gen. sing., which from the analogy of διάνοιαν, and of Proverbs 7:3 [Alex.] Ald. [so Tromm.: not Holmes] ( ἐπίγραψον ἐπὶ πλακὸς τῆς καρδίας σου), our καρδίας most likely is, then the fact of their superimposition and covering of the heart: if the dat., then that of their situation upon its tablet. See instances of the gen. and accus. in reff.) will I inscribe ( γράψω LXX-B) them (contrast to the inscription of the old law, which was on tables of stone: see 2 Corinthians 3:3): and I will be to them for ( εἶναι εἰς, הָיָה לְ, as ch. Hebrews 1:5, which see) a God, and they shall be to me for a people .


Verse 11

11.] Second of the κρείττονες ἐπαγγελίαι—universal spread of the knowledge of God: following on the other, that God would put His laws in their minds and write them in their hearts. And they shall not have to teach (see var. readd., which give the later usage of οὐ μή with the indic. fut.) every man his (fellow-) citizen ( אֶת רֵעֵהוּ . LXX-A ἀδελφόν: (43) (44), as text. The LXX have several times rendered רֵעֵהוּ by πολίτης, see reff.), and every man his brother (LXX-A πλησίον), saying Know (Heb. דְּעוּ, plural: “Know ye”) the Lord: because all shall know ( εἰδήσω is properly an Ionic future of εἴδω, but used, at least in its aoristic form εἴδησα, by the Attics also, e. g. Aristot. de Anima i. 2 (so Lobeck: but I cannot find it). See Lobeck, Phryn. p. 743, where more examples are given, but none of the Attic use of εἰδήσω: nor does this fut. seem to occur elsewhere either in the LXX or N. T.) me, from the small (one) (the Heb. bears out the rec. here (which agrees with LXX-(45) (46)) in expressing the αὐτῶν: לְמִקְּטַנָּם וְעַד־נְּדוֹלָם . The formula is found generally without the pronoun, as in reff. and Genesis 19:11; 1 Kings 5:9; 30:2, 19; 4 Kings 23:2; 25:26, &c.: but with it in Jeremiah 6:13; Jonah 3:5) even to the great (one) of them (that is, “they shall be all taught of God,” as cited by our Lord in John 6:45, from Isaiah 54:13, as written ἐν τοῖς προφήταις, alluding to such passages as this and Joel 2:28-29. See also 1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27, and notes there. Under the old covenant, the priests’ lips were to keep knowledge, and they were to teach the people God’s ways: under the New, there is no more need for the believer to have recourse to man for teaching in the knowledge of God, for the Holy Spirit, which is given to all that ask, reveals the things of Christ to each, according to the measure of his spiritual attainment and strength of faith. And the inner reason of this now follows, making, formally, the third of these better promises, but in fact bound up with, and the condition of, the last mentioned):


Verse 12

12.] because (not, as Michaelis on Peirce, “shall know me, that:” but ὅτι is the causal particle: see above, and cf. the conclusion, Isaiah 33:24. “By God passing by the former guilt of His sinful people, and beginning a new relation of grace with them, is this blessed change made possible.” De Wette. Bleek and Delitzsch have good notes here) I will be merciful ( אֶסְלַח . “In other places also is the verb סָלַח given in the LXX by the formula ἵλεώς εἰμι: always of God only, in reference to men; sometimes absolutely, 3 Kings 8:30, 39; 2 Chronicles 6:21; Amos 7:2; but generally with a dative, either of the person whom God forgives, Numbers 14:20; Jeremiah 5:1; Jeremiah 5:7; Jeremiah 27:20 (50:20), or the sins which are forgiven, 1 (3) Kings 8:34, 36, 50; Jeremiah 43:3 (Jeremiah 36:3).” Bleek) to their iniquities (plur. in N. T. here only, but frequently in LXX, e. g. 1 Kings 3:13; Jeremiah 2:22; Jeremiah 18:23; Ezekiel 12:2; Hosea 10:13 &c.), and of their sins (see var. readd.) will I make mention no more.


Verse 13

13.] Transition to the antithetical parallel which he is about to draw between the former, earthly and ceremonial, and the latter, heavenly and actual tabernacle: see summary at ch. Hebrews 9:1. In saying (cf. reff. Here, as in each of those, the subject is God, belonging here to the following verb πεπαλαίωκεν: ‘when God saith’), “a new (covenant),” He hath made old ( παλαιόω, a word peculiar to biblical usage, and in the N. T. to Heb. and St. Luke. The LXX have it a few times, in this same meaning: e. g. Lamentations 3:4, ἐπαλαίωσεν σάρκα μου καὶ δέρμα μου: Job 9:5, ὁ παλαιῶν ὅρη. Cf. also Job 32:15; Isaiah 65:22; Daniel 7:25 Theod. Made old, viz. by speaking of,—and where God is the speaker, actually in decree establishing, seeing that all God’s sayings are realities,—a new one. Some have taken the word as signifying “hath set aside, abrogated,” “antiquavit,” as Erasmus. But this, besides being unexampled, and not answering to the technical meaning of ‘antiquare,’ does not tally with the present participle of the same verb below, which cannot be rendered ‘is being abrogated:’ see below. Far better is the rendering, of somewhat questionable Latinity, but very expressive, “veteravit,” of the ital. and vulg.: see again below) the first (covenant). Now (transition, by δέ, from a particular assertion, to an axiomatic general truth: as in Romans 14:23) that which is being made old (the saying of God πεπαλαίωκεν that first covenant: the state of παλαίωσις thereby induced, continues, as the perfect (not aor., ἐπαλαίωσε, because the act was not a passing one, contemporaneous with the saying) shews,—and hence the covenant παλαιοῦται continually. The vulg., which had “veteravit” before, here adopts “antiquatur” for the old ital. “veteratur,” which, as above shewn, was far better) and getting into old age (see reff.: and cf. Xen. Vectig. i. 4, of fruits of the earth,— τοῖς ἐπʼ ἐνιαυτὸν θάλλουσί τε καὶ γηράσκουσι: id. Ages. ii. 14, ἡ μὲν τοῦ σώματος ἰσχὺς γηράσκει, ἡ δὲ τῆς ψυχῆς ῥώμηἀγήρατός ἐστιν: Herodian iii. 2. 15, τὰ ἐκείνων γηράσαντα καὶ παρʼ ἀλλήλοις συντριβέντα ΄ακεδόσιν εὐάλωτα καὶ ῥωμαίοις δοῦλα γεγένηται), is nigh unto (see ref. and note) vanishing away ( εἰς ἀφανισμὸν εἶναι or γενέσθαι is a common phrase with the LXX. See reff., and 3 Kings 9:7; 4 Kings 22:19 &c., in Trommius. The Writer uses the expression of the whole time subsequent to the utterance of the prophecy. At that time the παλαίωσις began, by the mention of a new covenant: and from that time the first covenant might be regarded as ever dwindling away, so to speak, and near its end, which God might bring on at any time. It is far better to regard the ἐγγὺς ἀφανισμοῦ thus, than, with some, to place it at the time of the Writer, when in fact it had already taken place).

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Hebrews 8:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/hebrews-8.html. 1863-1878.


Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, July 23rd, 2017
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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