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Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 9

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

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Verses 1-28

The New Covenant and the Sacrifice of Christ

Hebrews 9:1 to Hebrews 10:39. The writer now proceeds to elaborate in greater detail the contrast between the old covenant and the new. The old covenant had its tabernacle with furniture and elaborate ceremonial and continual series of sacrifices, culminating in the annual visit of the high priest to the inner chamber of the tabernacle with sacrificial blood. But these very ceremonies implied the impossibility of communion with God, and were unable to make the worshipper ’perfect,’ i.e. fit to participate in the mysteries (Hebrews 9:1-10). But now, what these mere animal sacrifices, the ineffectiveness of which was signified by the necessity of their repetition, failed to do, Jesus accomplished when He entered the heavenly tabernacle with His own blood, i.e. when He presented Himself in the presence of God after His crucifixion, having obtained eternal redemption. As Mediator of a new covenant He does this by His death. For a covenant, or will, only comes into effect through the death of the testator. Similarly, the new covenant becomes valid through the death of Christ, which, being a voluntary surrender of His life, as a free act of His Spirit, is of real value in the sight of God (Hebrews 9:11-22). It is enough for such a sacrifice to be offered once for all (Hebrews 9:23-28). Thus over against the failure of the old, proved by the necessity of repetition, is the success of the new. This is illustrated by a passage from Psalms 40, which shows that the essence of sacrifice is obedience to the will of God (Hebrews 10:1-18). On the ground of the cleansing thus accomplished by Christ follow exhortations (Hebrews 10:19-25), admonitions (Hebrews 10:26-31), and encouragements (Hebrews 10:32-39).

1-10. The Tabernacle Ministry.

1. A worldly sanctuary] RV ’its sanctuary, a sanctuary of this world,’ and therefore inferior to the ’true’ tabernacle in the heavens (Hebrews 8:2), of which it was but a copy.

2. A tabernacle] This term is applied to each of the two chambers into which the whole tent was divided; the outer chamber being the Holy Place, the inner being the Holy of Holies: see Exodus 26. Candlestick] or lampstand: see Exodus 25:31-40. The table] see Exodus 25:23-30. The shewbread] see Exodus 25:30; Leviticus 24:5-9.

3. The second veil] so called because a veil hung also before the Holy Place, Elsewhere the second veil is called simply ’the veil’: see Hebrews 10:20, and cp. Exodus 26:31-33. Holiest of all] i.e. according to a Hebrew idiom, the Most Holy Place.

4. Censer] The word may mean ’altar of incense’ (Exodus 30:1-10). This, however, stood in the Holy Place, though the writer did not mention it among the furniture in Hebrews 9:2. But as the Most Holy Place was never entered without incense (Leviticus 16:12) it might be described as ’having the altar of incense.’ Ark of the covenant] the chest containing the tables of the Law: Exodus 25:10-22. Pot.. manna] see Exodus 16:32-34. On Aaron’s rod, see Numbers 17:1-10.

5. Cherubims] RV ’cherubim,’ the Heb. plural of ’cherub’: see Exodus 25:17-22; Exodus 37:6-9. The mercyseat, or propitiatory, was the golden lid of the ark (Exodus 25:17, Exodus 25:21) on which the blood was sprinkled on the Day of Atonement: Leviticus 16:14, Leviticus 16:15. Particularly] RV ’severally.’

7, 8. The point is, that entrance into the presence of God was restricted to the high priest alone, and that only once a year, and that it was altogether denied to the people and even to the ordinary priests. The argument of this whole section is that the Levitical system did not and could not provide real access to God. Holiest of all] RV ’the holy place,’ meaning here, probably, the real presence of God, the heavenly sanctuary, as in Hebrews 9:12.

9. Which (i.e. the Holy Place) was a figure for the time then present] meaning that it pointed the worshippers of that time forward to the dawning of a better time to come.

Figure] RV ’parable.’ In which] RV ’According to which,’ sc. parable. Him that did the service] RV ’the worshipper.’

11-14. The superiority of Christ’s Ministry, which does cleanse the conscience, being discharged in a heavenly tabernacle (Hebrews 9:11) and mediated through the sacrifice of Himself (Hebrews 9:12-14).

11. Not of this building] RV ’not of this creation,’ i.e. of this material creation, but a heavenly sanctuary.

12. Once] i.e. once for all, unlike the high priest in the earthly tabernacle who entered once a year (Hebrews 9:7). Repetition is unnecessary, seeing the redemption he obtained is an ’eternal redemption,’ being effectual for ever. The word obtained implies the expenditure of effort.

13. Bulls and goats] refer to the sacrifices offered on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16), heifer to the ceremonial described in Numbers 19.

Purifying of the flesh] i.e. the removal of ceremonial defilement, so as to permit the worshipper to take part again in the services of the tabernacle. It is admitted that a limited efficacy is possessed by the Levitical sacrifices, and therefore Christ’s offering, being immeasurably nobler and being voluntary, has immeasurably greater efficacy.

14. Through the eternal Spirit] So AV and RV, suggesting that the Third Person of the Trinity is referred to. In the original the article is wanting, which emphasises the operation rather than the personal being of the Spirit. The spirit is Christ’s own spirit, or the Holy Spirit in Christ, and the closest parallels to the expression used here are in Hebrews 7:16 and 1 Peter 4:6; (see note there). The word ’spirit’ is employed to contrast the nature and sphere of the operation of Christ’s offering with those of the Levitical sacrifices. The latter operate in the region of the flesh (cp. Hebrews 9:13), and are temporary in their effect (see on Hebrews 9:12); the former belongs to the sphere of the spirit and will, effects an inner cleansing of the conscience, and is eternal. Offered himself] ’Himself’ is emphatic, being one of the points of contrast. What He offered was His own body on the Cross: see on Hebrews 10:10. Dead works] see on Hebrews 6:1. To cleanse from dead works is to cleanse from the defilement (and the consequences of it) caused by such works, and so to enable the sinner to engage in the service of God.

15. ’By offering Himself Christ has become the Mediator of a new covenant, in order that those who have been called may receive the eternal inheritance that is promised, and the necessary condition of this was the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant by means of a death.’ Christ’s sacrifice is here represented as having a retrospective efficacy, operating not merely on the past sins of the Hebrew Christians, but on the sins of the OT. saints who lived under the first covenant, and who could not inherit the promises because the first covenant could not remove their transgressions.

16. Testament] The Gk. word (diathekç) means either covenant or testament (i.e. will), and in this v. the writer passes from the former to the latter sense. For the operation of the terms of a testament the death of the testator is undoubtedly necessary. Is it also necessary in the case of a covenant? So the writer asserts in Hebrews 9:18-20, where he reverts to the former sense of diathekç as covenant. He says that any diathekç involves death, and cites the Mosaic covenant as an instance. This must be on the supposition that the covenanter is represented by the victim which died in the sacrifice which usually accompanied any serious covenant. The death of the victim represented the inability of the covenanter to retract. It was the solemn ratification of the terms of the covenant.

17. After men are dead] RV ’where there hath been a death.’ The Gk. is lit. ’over dead.’

18. Whereupon] RV ’wherefore.’ Neither the first] RV ’even the first.. not,’ imperfect and temporary though it was.

19, 20. See Exodus 24:3-8.

20. Testament] RV ’covenant’: see on Exodus 24:16.

21. This is not recorded m Exodus, but is mentioned by Josephus. It rested probably on some Jewish tradition.

23. Patterns] RV ’copies,’ i.e. the earthly things which were made according to the pattern of the heavenly: see Hebrews 8:5. In the view of the writer, the heavenly original needed purifying just as the earthly copies, only with better sacrifices. It is not necessary to supply a different predicate in the second clause, such as ’should be dedicated.’ To enable men to draw near to God, however imperfectly, on earth, it was necessary that both they and the tabernacle be sprinkled with the blood of sacrifice; and the inference is that in order to enable men perfectly to hold communion with God above, both they and the heavenly places must in like manner be sprinkled with the blood of a better sacrifice, viz. that of Christ.

24. To appear] lit. ’to be manifested before the face of God,’ i.e. to show Himself to God: cp. Hebrews 7:25. The earthly ’copy’ of this act is that of the high priest who once a year presented himself before God in the Holy of Holies on behalf of the people. In the OT. to ’appear before God’ means to go into the Temple to worship Him: cp. Exodus 23:17; Psalms 42:2; Psalms 84:7.

26. End of the world] The Second Coming is regarded as imminent: cp. Hebrews 10:37. Appeared] lit. ’been manifested,’ i.e. in the flesh to men: cp. Hebrews 10:24, where the verb, though different, is from the same root.

27. In the case of men, death is a single event, the definite close of a stage in their career. So Christ’s death is one final achievement. And as in the former case death is followed by judgment, so Christ’s death is followed by His reappearing for the salvation of His people. Moreover, as death and judgment are connected as cause and effect, so Christ’s death and His people’s salvation are similarly connected: cp. Romans 5:18

28. Apart from sin] So RV. His First Coming was in connexion with sin; He came because of sin, and bearing sin to put it away (Hebrews 9:26); but His Second Coming will be ’apart from sin,’ since in dying He did put away sin, actually for Himself, for men by anticipation in faith.

Them that look for him] RV ’that wait for him.’ The reappearing of the high priest from out the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement would be waited for with anxious expectancy by the people as the sign that all that was needful for their reconciliation with God had been done, and that the offering had been accepted by Him: cp. Luke 1:21, and see Romans 8:19, Romans 8:23; 1 Corinthians 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 2 Timothy 4:8.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 9". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/hebrews-9.html. 1909.
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