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Tuesday, May 28th, 2024
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
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Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 8

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Verse 1

Hebrews 8:1 . κεφάλαιον ἐπὶ τοῖς λεγομένοις , not, as A.V., “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum” ( cf. Grotius “post tot dicta haec esto summa”), but with Field “Now to crown our present discourse” or with Rendall “Now to crown what we are saying”. κεφάλαιον is used to denote either the sum , as of numbers added up from below to the head of the column where the result is set down, and in this sense it is here understood by Erasmus, Calvin and A.V.; or, the chief point as of a cope-stone or capital of a pillar, as in Thucyd., Hebrews 6:6 . λέγοντες ἄλλα τε πολλὰ καὶ κεφάλαιον , οἱ Συρακόσιοι , κ . τ . λ . Other examples in Field’s O.N., to which add Plutarch, De Educ. Puer. , 8, ἓν πρῶτον καὶ μέσον καὶ τελευταῖον ἐν τούτοις κεφάλαιον ἀγωγὴ σπουδαία . This latter sense alone satisfies the present passage, and also agrees better with ἐπὶ τοῖς λεγομένοις for ἐπὶ must here be taken in a quasi-local sense, as Vaughan paraphrases “as a capital upon the things which are being said as a thought (or fact) forming the headstone of the argument we add this”. Cf. Luke 16:26 καὶ ἐπὶ πᾶσι τούτοις . That λεγομένοις is in the present is manifestly no objection to this rendering. The absence of the article before κεφάλ . does not involve, as Lünemann supposes, that the writer means “ a main point” among others, for such words do not in similar situations require the article, cf. Demosth., p. 924, τεκμήριον δὲ τούτου . κεφάλαιον is most easily construed as a nominative absolute ( cf. Buttmann, p. 381) not, as Bruce, “an accusative in apposition with the following sentence”. τοιοῦτον ἔχομεν ἀρχιερέα … “so great a High Priest have we as took His seat (or, is set down) on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens”. τοιοῦτον , not, as Farrar and Rendall, “retrospective,” although as contrasted with τοιόσδε this is its proper meaning; but here, as frequently in classics [Soph., Antig. , 691, λόγοις τοιούτοις οἷς σὺ μὴ τέρψει κλύων , and Demosth., p. 743, followed also by ὥστε ] it finds its explanation in ὃς ἐκάθισεν [ τοιοῦτον weist naturlich nicht rückwǎrts sondern vorwärts auf den dasselbe erläuternden Relativsatz. Weiss.] The greatness of the High Priest is manifested by the place where He ministers. His greatness is revealed in his sitting down at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens. Westcott thinks that the thought of a High Priest who … “is King as well as priest is clearly the prominent thought of the sentence”. And Moulton on Hebrews 10:12 says: “The words ‘sat down’ (Psalms 110:1 ), add to the priestly imagery that of kingly state”. But undoubtedly Weiss is right in saying “Durch den Relativsatz soll nicht auf die königliche Herrlichkeit Christi hingewiesen werden”. The writer means to magnify Christ’s priesthood by reminding his readers that it is exercised “in the heavens”; as he says in Hebrews 9:24 he has passed εἰς αὐτὸν τὸν οὐρανόν into heaven itself, the very presence of God and eternal reality, the ultimate, highest possible. On the words cf. note on Hebrews 1:3 . ἐκάθισεν is considered by Buttmann to be one of those aorists which stand for the perfect (see his instructive remarks on the aversion to the perfect, Gram. , p. 198); but this may be doubted, as the sitting is not mentioned as the permanent attitude, but merely as suggesting the exaltation of the High Priest, and the finality of His purification of sins, as in Hebrews 1:3 . Augustine, De Fide et symbolo , 7, warns against the suggested anthropomorphism of the words “sitteth at the right hand” and says “ ad dextram intelligendum est dictum esse, in summa beatitudine, ubi justitia et pax et gaudium est”. Here, however, it is rather Christ’s majesty that is suggested, and as Pearson on this clause of the Creed says, “The belief of Christ’s glorious session is most necessary in respect of the immediate consequence which is his most gracious intercession,” rather his availing intercession. Cf. Hooker, Book V., chap. 55.

Verses 1-6

Hebrews 8:1-6 . The idea of Christ’s priesthood, merely suggested in Hebrews 1:3 , expressly affirmed in Hebrews 2:17 , has been from Hebrews 4:14 onwards enlarged upon and illustrated. It has been shown that Christ is a priest, called by God to this office and proclaimed by God as High Priest. The superiority of His orders as belonging not to the hereditary Aaronic line, but as being “after the order of Melchisedek,” has also been exhibited. Passing now from the person and qualifications of the Priest, the author proceeds in chap. 8 to illustrate his greatness from a consideration of the place of His ministry. It is in heaven He is seated, a minister of the real tabernacle, not of that which had been pitched by Moses as an image and symbol of it. The priesthood to which God called Him must be a heavenly ministry, for were He on earth He would not even be a priest, not to say a High Priest. His ministry, therefore, being in the heaven of eternal realities, is a “better ministry,” in accordance with the fact that he is mediating a “better covenant”.

Verse 2

Hebrews 8:2 . τῶν ἁγίων λειτουργὸς … “a minister of the [true] holy place and of the true abernacle which the Lord pitched, not man”. τῶν ἁγίων not = τῶν ἡγιασμένων as Œcumenius translates, but as in Hebrews 9:8 ; Hebrews 9:12 ; Hebrews 9:25 ; Hebrews 10:19 ; Hebrews 13:11 = ἅγια ἁγίων of Hebrews 9:3 . In Hebrews 9:2-3 , the outer part of the tabernacle is called ἅγια , the inner ἅγια ἁγίων , but Hebrews 8:8 is conclusive proof that ἅγια without addition was used for the holiest place. λειτουργὸς cf. note on Hebrews 1:14 . καὶ τῆς σκηνῆς τῆς ἀληθινῆς , the ideal, antitypal tabernacle; ἀληθ . used as in the fourth gospel in contrast not to what is false, but to what is symbolical. It is to be taken with ἁγίων as well as with σκηνῆς . Cf. Bleek; and see Hebrews 9:11 , τῆς μείζονος καὶ τελειοτέρας σκηνῆς οὐ χειροποιήτου , which is the equivalent of the clause added here, ἣν ἔπηξεν ὁ Κύριος , οὐκ ἄνθρωπος . See also Mark 14:58 and the striking words of Wis 9:8 . In a different sense in Numbers 24:6 , ὡσεὶ σκηναὶ ἃς ἔπηξε Κύριος . According to the fifth verse, man pitched a tabernacle which was a shadow of the true, and the very words in which was uttered the command so to do, might have reminded the people that there was a symbolic and a true tabernacle.

Verse 3

Hebrews 8:3 . πᾶς γὰρ ἀρχιερεὺς .… “For every High Priest is appointed for the offering of gifts and sacrifices, and therefore it was necessary that this man also have something to offer”. That Christ is in heaven as a λειτουργός , as an active minister in holy things, is proved by the universal law, that every High Priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices. Christ is not idle in heaven, but being there as High Priest He must be offering something; what that is, He has told us in Hebrews 7:27 , but here no emphasis is on the what , but merely on the fact that He must be offering something, must be actively ministering in heaven as a λειτουργός . [Bruce therefore overlooks Hebrews 7:27 in his interpretation: “He is content for the present to throw out the remark: ‘This man must have something to offer,’ and to leave his readers for a while to puzzle over the question, What is it?”] With ἀναγκαῖον some have understood ἦν rather than ἐστὶ “necesse fuit habere quod offerret” (Beza) followed by Westcott, etc., on the ground that the reference is to our Lord’s presentation to the Father of His finished sacrifice. But it is better to give the word a merely logical and subjective force; it is a necessary inference that this man, etc. Behind and beyond this lies no doubt the reference to Christ’s sacrifice. As the High Priest could not enter into the Holiest without the blood of the victim (Hebrews 9:7 ), so must Jesus accomplish His priestly office by offering His own blood (Hebrews 9:12 ). For the words of the former part of the verse see note on Hebrews 6:1 .

Verse 4

Hebrews 8:4 . εἰ μὲν οὖν ἐπὶ γῆς … “And indeed if He were on earth He would not even be a priest, since there are those who according to law offer the gifts”. μὲν οὖν = et quidem (Devarius, p. 125) or, it might be rendered “If however,” see Hermann’s Viger , p. 442. Vaughan says: “The οὖν is (as usual) in accordance with the above statement ; here, namely, that He must have something to offer ”. The apodosis in Hebrews 8:6 . νυνι δε . The argument is, given or assumed as already proved that Christ is our High Priest, it must be in Heaven He exercises His ministry, for if He were on earth, He would not even be a priest, not to say, a High Priest. [As Bleek has it, “er würde nicht einmal Priester sein, geschweige denn Hohe priester”.] He could not be a priest, because the priestly office on earth is already filled. The law [ κατὰ νόμον ], which can not be interfered with, regulates all that concerns the earthly priesthood (Hebrews 7:12 ), and by this law He is excluded from priestly office, not being of the tribe of Levi (Hebrews 7:14 ). τὰ δῶρα “the gifts” further emphasises the rigorous prescriptions of the law. The absence of the article before νόμον does not necessitate though it suggests the translation “according to law”.

Verse 5

Hebrews 8:5 . οἵτινες ὑποδείγματι … “priests who serve a suggestion and shadow of the heavenly things even as Moses when about to make the tabernacle was admonished, for ‘See,’ He says, ‘that thou make all things after the pattern shown thee in the Mount’ ”. οἵτινες with its usual classifying and characterising reference, priests distinguished by the fact that they serve a shadow. λατρεύουσιν , originally to work for hire, from λάτρις , a hired servant (Soph., Trach. , 70, etc.), but used especially in classics, LXX, and N.T. of service of God. It is followed by the dative of the person served (see reff.) Hebrews 9:14 ; Hebrews 12:28 ; Hebrews 13:10 as here οἱ τῇ σκηνῇ λατρεύοντες . ὑποδείγματι , Phrynichus notes. ὑπόδειγμα · οὐδὲ τοῦτο ὀρθῶς λέγεται · παράδειγμα λέγε . To which Rutherford adds, “In Attic ὑποδείκνυμι was never used except in its natural sense of show by implication ; but in Herodotus and Xenophon it signifies to mark out, set a pattern ”. The meaning of ὑπόδειγμα accordingly is “a sign suggestive of anything,” “a delineation,” “outline,” perhaps “suggestion” would satisfy the present passage. σκιᾷ , “an adumbration of a reality which it does not embody” (Vaughan). A shadow has no substance in itself, no independent existence. It merely gives assurance that there is a reality to cast it, but itself is nothing solid or real. So the tabernacle gave assurance of the existence of a real dwelling of God which itself was not. Cf. Hebrews 10:1 , and Colossians 2:17 . τῶν ἐπουρανίων , as in Hebrews 9:23 τὰ ὑποδείγματα τῶν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς … αὐτὰ δὲ τὰ ἐπουράνια , heavenly things, in a comprehensive sense. καθὼς κεχρημάτισται … καθὼς , i.e. the description of the Mosaic tabernacle as a shadow of the heavenly accords with the directions given to Moses in its erection. κεχρημάτισται , χρηματίζω (from χρῆμα ) originally means “to transact business,” “to advise” or “give answer to those asking advice”; hence “to give a response to those who consult an oracle”; then, dropping all reference to a foregoing consultation, it means “to give a divine command” and in passive to be commanded; see Thayer. The perfect tense is explained by Delitzsch thus: “as thou Moses hast received (in our Scriptures) the divine injunction (which we still read there)”. But cf. Burton, M. and T. , 82. ἐπιτελεῖν , not, to complete what was already begun; but to realise what was determined by God; cf. Numbers 23:23 , and Hebrews 9:6 ; so that it might be rendered “to bring into being”. Ὅρα γάρ φησιν … He now cites the authoritative injunction referred to and which determines that the earthly tabernacle was but a copy of the heavenly. γάρ of course belongs to the writer, not to the quotation, and φησιν has for its nominative the Θεός implied in κεχρημάτισται . ποιήσεις .… The words are quoted from Exodus 25:40 (adding πάντα and substituting δειχθέντα for δεδειγμένον ) and are a literal rendering of the Hebrew, so that nothing can be gathered from them regarding N.T. usage. The future indicative being regularly used as a legal imperative (an unclassic usage) it naturally occurs here. κατὰ τὸν τύπον , a stamp or impression ( τύπτειν ) struck from a die or seal; hence, a figure, draft, sketch, or pattern. How or in what form this was communicated to the mind of Moses we do not know. “In the Mount,” i.e. , in Sinai where Moses retired for communion with God, he probably pondered the needs of the people to such good purpose that from suggestions received in Egypt, together with his own divinely guided conceptions, he was able to contrive the tabernacle and its ordinances of worship. It is his spiritual insight and his anticipation of his people’s wants which give him his unique place in history. And it is both to trifle and to detract from his greatness to say with some of the Rabbis ( vide Schoettgen) that models of the Ark and the candlestick and the other equipment descended from heaven, and that Gabriel in a workman’s apron showed him how to reproduce the articles shown.

Verse 6

Hebrews 8:6 . νυνὶ δὲ … “But, as it is, He hath obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much He is also mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted upon better promises.” νυνὶ δὲ , i.e. , He not being on earth, the δὲ pointing back to μὲν in Hebrews 8:4 . For νυνὶ δὲ in its logical significance, cf. Hebrews 9:26 ; Hebrews 11:16 ; 1 Corinthians 14:20 ; Arist. Ethics , I. iv. 4. διαφορωτέρας λειτουργίας , more excellent, as what is heavenly or real is more excellent than what is earthly and symbolic. ὅσῳ καὶ κρείττονός ἐστιν διαθήκης μεσίτης , the ministry being a part of the work of mediating the better covenant, it must participate in the superior excellence of that covenant. And the superiority of the covenant consists in this, that it has been legally based on better promises. Had Paul so connected the law and the promises, a quip might have been supposed; but this writer uses νενομ . in its ordinary sense without any allusion to its etymology. What these “better promises” are he shows in Hebrews 8:8-12 . ἥτις introduces the explanation of the κρείττονος , almost equivalent to “inasmuch as it has been, etc.” The μεσίτης ( cf. Hebrews 12:24 ) is more comprehensive than the ἔγγυος of Hebrews 7:22 , although μεσίτης is Hellenistic for the Attic μεσέγγυος , and in Diod. Sic . iv. 54 μεσίτης has exactly the sense of ἔγγυος . The full title in 1 Timothy 2:5 μεσίτης θεοῦ καὶ ἀνθρώπων presents the mediator as one who negotiates for both parties, and is something more than a guarantor. Moses was μεσίτης of the first covenant (Galatians 3:19 ; Exodus 20:19 ); so that as already intimated in Hebrews 3:1 , Christ absorbed in His ministry the work of both Moses and Aaron.

Verse 7

Hebrews 8:7 . εἰ γὰρ ἡ πρώτη … “For if that first had been faultless, no place would have been sought for a second.” ἡ πρώτη sc. διαθήκη . πρώτη for προτέρα as in Acts 1:1 ; 1 Corinthians 15:47 , and this epistle passim . The covenant did not accomplish the purpose for which it was enacted; it did not bring men into spiritual and permanent fellowship with God. Cf. Hebrews 7:11 ; Hebrews 7:19 ; Galatians 3:20 . οὐκ ἂν δευτέρας ἐζητεῖτο τόπος . “There would not have been as we know there was any demand for a second” (Farrar). Probably, however, ἐζητεῖτο refers to God’s purpose, [“Inquisivit Deus locum et tempus opportunum” (Herveius)] not to man’s craving; although necessarily the two must concur. τόπος is frequently used in the sense of “room” “opportunity” in later Greek, Romans 15:23 ; Luke 14:19 ; and cf. especially Revelation 20:11 . τόπος οὐχ εὑρέθη αὐτοῖς . μεμφόμενος γὰρ … “For finding fault with them He says, Behold, there come days, etc.” The γὰρ obviously refers to ἄμεμπτος and justifies it, “For it is with fault finding, etc.” But now the object of the blame is slightly changed. “There is a subtle delicacy of language in the insensible shifting of the blame from the covenant to the people. The covenant itself could hardly be said to be faultless, seeing that it failed to bind Israel to their God; but the true cause of failure lay in the character of the people, not in the law, which was holy, righteous and good” (Rendall). This is the simplest construction and agrees with the ascription of blame in Hebrews 8:9 . Thayer says “it is more correct to supply αὐτήν , i.e. , διαθήκην , which the writer wishes to prove was not faultless, and to join αὐτοῖς with λέγει ”. No doubt this would be more logically consistent, but the question is, What did the writer say? He seems not to distinguish between the covenant and the people who lived under it. The old covenant was faulty because it did not provide for enabling the people to live up to the terms or conditions of it. It was faulty inasmuch as it did not sufficiently provide against their faultiness. Ἰδοὺ , κ . τ . λ . The quotation which here occupies five verses is taken from Jeremiah 38:31 34 in LXX, Jeremiah 31:31-34 A.V. ἡμέραι ἔρχονται is a frequent formula in Jeremiah. καὶ “The ubiquitous Hebrew and , serving here the purpose of the ὅτε which might have been expected” (Vaughan). συντελέσω , the LXX has διαθήσομαι , and Augustine ( De Spir. et Lit . xix.) thinks this word (consummabo) is chosen for the sake of emphasising the sufficiency of the New Covenant. So Delitzsch: “Our author seems here to have purposely selected the συντελέσω to express more clearly the conclusive perfecting power of the new covenant of the gospel.” So, too, Weiss, who also calls attention to the fact that it is followed by ἐπὶ as in the expression συντελ . τ . ὀργὴν ἐπὶ … But in the face of the occurrence in Jeremiah 34:8 , (LXX, Jeremiah 41:8 ) of the expression συντελέσαι διαθήκην πρὸς …, it is precarious to maintain that our author in selecting this word meant more than “complete a covenant”. ἐπὶ τὸν οἶκον Ἰσραὴλ καὶ …, comprehensive of the whole people of God. Their blameworthy rupture had not severed them from God’s grace and faithfulness. διαθήκην καινήν , the expression first occurs in our Lord’s institution of the sacrament, τοῦτο τὸ ποτήριον ἡ καινὴ διαθήκη ἐν τ . αἵματί μου , repeated in 1 Corinthians 11:25 . In 2 Corinthians 3:6 , the καινὴ διαθ . is contrasted with τ . παλαιᾶς διαθ . of 2 Corinthians 3:4 . The new covenant is also called νέα in Hebrews 12:24 ; καινή properly meaning new in character, νέα young or new in date. As in Hebrews 8:7 the condemnation of the old implied a promise of the new; so in Hebrews 8:13 , the promise of the new is considered as involving the condemnation of the old.

Verses 7-13

Hebrews 8:7-13 . A justification of the establishment of a better covenant, on the grounds (1) that the first covenant was not faultless; (2) that Jeremiah had predicted the introduction of a new covenant ( a ) not like the old, but ( b ) based upon better promises; and (3) that even in Jeremiah’s days the first covenant was antiquated by the very title “new” ascribed to that which was then promised.

Verse 9

Hebrews 8:9 . οὐ κατὰ τὴν διαθήκην … “Not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers.” These words express negatively wherein the καινότης of the covenant consists. It was not to be a repetition of that which had failed. It was to be framed with a view to avoiding the defects of the old. It must not be such a covenant as dealt in symbols and externals. That former covenant is further defined in the words ἣν ἐποίησα …, a clause which is intended to remind the readers that it was through no lack of power or grace on God’s part that the covenant had failed. His intention and power to fulfil His part was put beyond doubt by the deliverance from Egypt. ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ἐπιλαβομένου μου τ . χειρὸς αὐτῶν … “sicut nutrix apprehendit manum parvuli, vel qui de fovea per manum attrahit aliquem sive secum ducit” (Herveius). The construction determined by the Hebrew, which, however, has the infinitive not the participle, is, according to Winer (710) “perhaps unusual, but not incorrect.” Buttmann, however, (316) condemns it as “a perfectly un-Greek construction” and “nothing more than a thoughtless imitation of the original Hebrew, of which no other similar example is to be found in the N.T.” Cf. Bar 2:28 ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ἐντειλαμένου σου , κ . τ . λ . Cf. Viteau, Gram . p. 209 10. On ἐπιλαβ . see Hebrews 2:16 . ὅτι αὐτοὶ οὐκ ἐνέμειναν “because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord”. Both parties abandoned the covenant and so it became null. Bengel’s note on this clause is this: “Correlata, uti Hebrews 8:10 , ex opposito: Ero eis in Deum, et illi erunt mihi in populum ; sed ratione inversa: populus fecerat initium tollendi foederis prius: in novo omnia et incipit et perficit Deus”. The pronouns are emphatic in both clauses κἀγὼ ἠμέλησα αὐτῶν representing וְאָנֹכַי בָּעַלְתִי בָּם which in A.V. is rendered “although I was an husband to them.” Grotius suggests a variant in the Hebrew as giving rise to the translation ἠμέλησα but it seems to be justified by an analogous Arabic expression (see Moses Stuart in loc . and Bleek).

Verse 10

Hebrews 8:10 . ὅτι αὕτη ἡ διαθήκη ἣν διαθήσομαι … “For this is the covenant which I will covenant with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord.” The ὅτι justifies the differentiation of this covenant from the Sinaitic, and the ascription to it of the term “new”. It also introduces the positive aspect of the newness of the covenant. This consists in three particulars. It is inward or spiritual; it is individual and therefore universal; it is gracious and provides forgiveness. μετὰ τὰς ἡμέρας ἐκείνας , i.e. , after the days, spoken of Hebrews 8:8 , have arrived. διδοὺς f1νόμους μου … The LXX (vat.) has διδοὺς δώσω , but this writer omits δώσω in Hebrews 10:16 as well as here. The participle cannot be attached either to διαθήσομαι or to ἐπιγράψω without intolerable harshness. We must, therefore, suppose that the writer was simply quoting from the Alexandrian text which omits δώσω (so also Q = Codex Marchalianus), and does not concern himself about the elegance or even correct grammar of the words. See Buttmann, p. 291. νόμους μου . “The plural occurs again in the same quotation, Hebrews 10:16 , but not elsewhere in the N.T.; nor does the plural appear to be found in any other place of the LXX as a translation of תּוֹרָה ” Westcott. εἰς τὴν διάνοιαν . “In Aristotle διάνοια includes all intellect, theoretical and practical, intuitive and discursive” (Burnet’s Nic. Eth. , p. 276). Plato defines it in Soph . 263 [33] thus: ὁ μὲν ἐντὸς τῆς ψυχῆς πρὸς αὑτὴν διάλογος ἄνευ φωνῆς γιγνόμενος . In N.T. it is sometimes used for the “mind,” as in Ephesians 4:18 , 1Pe 1:13 , 2 Peter 3:1 ; sometimes for the thoughts produced in the mind, Ephesians 2:3 ; sometimes for the inner man generally, as in Luke 1:51 , Colossians 1:21 . And in this sense here. καὶ ἐπὶ καρδίας αὐτῶν “and on their heart”. καρδίας may be either genitive singular, or accusative plural, both constructions being found after γράφειν ἐπὶ . The meaning is that God’s law, instead of being written on tables of stone, should under the new covenant be written on the spirit and desires of man. “Unde significavit eos non forinsecus habere, sed ipsam legis justitiam dilecturos” (Atto). This “better promise” involves a new spirit, effecting that man’s own will shall concur with the divine. Cf. 2 Corinthians 3:3 . καὶ ἔσομαι αὐτοῖς … “and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people”. For the distinction between the Hebraistic construction ἔσομαι εἰς and the legitimate Greek εἶναι or γένεσθαι εἰς see Buttmann, p. 150. This of course was the aim of the old covenant as well, and is expressed in the original promise, Exodus 6:7 : “I will take you to myself as my people, and I shall be to you a God”. See also Jeremiah 7:23 ; Jeremiah 11:4 . This is the ultimate statement of the end or aim of all religion.

[33] Codex Sangermanensis (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., now at St. Petersburg, formerly belonging to the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Its text is largely dependent upon that of D.

Hebrews 8:11 . καὶ οὐ μὴ διδάξωσιν .… “And they shall not teach, each man his fellow-citizen and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know me from small to great among them”. This second “better” promise follows on the first as its natural consequence. The inward acceptance of God’s will involves the knowledge of God. In the new covenant all were to be “taught of God” (Isaiah 54:13 , John 6:45 ) and independent of the instruction of a privileged class. Under the old covenant, none but the educated scribe could understand the minutiæ of the law with which religion was identified. The elaborate ritual made it impossible for the private individual to know whether a ram or a pigeon was the appropriate sacrifice for his sin, or whether his sin was mortal or venial. A priest had to be consulted. Under the new covenant intermediates were to be abolished. The knowledge of God was to lie in the heart alongside of the love of parent or friend, and would demand for its expression no more external instruction than those primal, instinctive and home-grown affections. οὐ μὴ διδάξωσιν , “The intensive οὐ μὴ (of that which in no wise will or shall happen) is sometimes indeed most commonly joined with the conjunctive aorist, sometimes with the conjunctive present, sometimes also with the indicative future”. Winer, p. 634, who also discusses Hermann’s canon and Dawes’ regarding this form. εἰδήσουσιν , for this form of the future Veitch (p. 216) quotes Homer, Theognis, Herodotus, Isocrates. ἀπὸ μικροῦ ἕως μεγάλου , an expression commonly used in LXX to denote universality, Genesis 19:11 , where possibly it is equivalent to ἀπὸ νεανίσκου ἕως πρεσβυτέρου of Hebrews 8:4 ; 1 Samuel 30:19 , where it is used of spoils of war. Gesenius (117, 2) understands the adjectives as superlatives.

Verse 12

Hebrews 8:12 . ὅτι ἵλεως ἔσομαι ταῖς ἀδικίαις αὐτῶν … “For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and their sins will I remember no more.” This third better promise is united to the former by ὅτι , showing that the forgiveness of sins or God’s grace is fundamental to any possible renewal and maintenance of covenant.

Verse 13

Hebrews 8:13 . ἐν τῷ λέγειν Καινήν . “In saying ‘New,’ He hath antiquated the first; and that which is antiquated and growing old is near extinction [lit. disappearance].” That is to say, by speaking in the passage quoted, Hebrews 8:8 , of a new covenant, God brands the former as old. Thus even in Jeremiah’s time the Mosaic covenant was disparaged. The fact that a new was required showed that it was insufficient. It was condemned as antiquated. And that which is antiquated and aged has not much longer to live. πεπαλαίωκεν , the active is found in LXX, Job 9:5 ; Job 32:15 , etc.; the mid is common, in Plato and elsewhere in the sense of “growing old”. ἐγγὺς ἀφανισμοῦ , cf. ἐγγὺς κατάρας , Hebrews 6:8 . ἀφανισμός , is suggestive of utter destruction, abolition; thus in Polyb . Hebrews 8:11 ; Hebrews 8:5 it is joined with ἀπώλεια . Cf. Diod. Sic . ver. 8:32, ἀποκτείνουσιν , ἢ κατακαίουσιν , ἤ τισιν ἄλλαις τιμωρίαις ἀφανίζουσι .

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Hebrews 8". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/egt/hebrews-8.html. 1897-1910.
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