Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Hebrews 9

Verse 1

Hebrews 9:1. ’ “Even the first covenant, however, had ordinances of worship and the holy place suitable to this world,” i.e., as hinted in Hebrews 8:2, a tent pitched by man, constructed with earthly materials, “of this creation,” Hebrews 9:11, and thus appealing to sense. Farrar renders “and its sanctuary—a material one”. is continuative, and might almost be rendered “to resume”. find its correlative in Hebrews 9:6; the first covenant had, indeed, a sanctuary with elaborate arrangements, but after all it was only a symbol. That , not , is to be understood after , is demanded by the context and is now universally recognised. So Chrysostom, , ; . Of the reading Calvin says, “nec dubito, quin aliquis indoctus lector, pro sua inscitia ’ perperam addiderit.” at first sight seems to require us to date the epistle after the destruction of Jerusalem, but it is quite possible that, as Delitzsch says, the writer is looking back upon the old from the platform of the new covenant. “The author in saying had merely looks back from his own historical position to the Mosaic tabernacle and its ordinances, which are everywhere assumed as the standard of the O.T. things; the past ‘had’ no more implies that the O.T. ministry had passed away in fact or even in principle, than the present ‘go in’ (Hebrews 9:6) implies the reverse” (Davidson.) . is used, because the writer wishes to draw attention to the fact that the ritual of the first covenant was divinely appointed. He does this because he means to point out (Hebrews 9:8-9) that the Holy Spirit intended these arrangements to be a parable of their own incompetence and transitory nature. is best illustrated in Rendel Harris’ Teaching of the Apostles, p. 71 ff. He has collected a number of passages from early Christian writers which show that a “cosmic” mystery or symbol was “a symbol or action wrought upon the stage of this world to illustrate what was doing or to be done on a higher plane”. His quotation from Athanasius is especially convincing , . , , . This significant word standing at the close of the sentence sufficiently indicates the incompetence of the whole. The first covenant had its holy place but it was . For the same reason he goes on to enumerate the articles contained in the . He wishes to bring before us the care with which all its arrangements were made: nothing was haphazard and meaningless. The succeeding verses are indeed the resumption of Hebrews 8:5, “See that you make all things according to the type shown thee in the mount”.

Hebrews 9:2. ’ “For a tent was constructed, the fore-tent, in which were” its appropriate contents. , a tent. “Observandum est in primis hanc descriptionem non ad templum sed ad tabernaculum accommodari; quia nimirum noster hic scriptor ea proprie quae Moses secundum exemplar ipsi in monte propositum fabricavit, cum rebus ipsis coelestibus comparat” (Beza). On the construction in which the noun is first conceived indefinitely and is then more clearly defined by the attributive, whose import thus receives special prominence, see Winer, p. 174. , the outer, that into which anyone first entered, twice the size of the inner and entered from the east (see Macgregor on Exodus, and appendix by Gillies on construction of tabernacle). Large tents were usually divided into an outer and an inner, a first and a second. And a tent being windowless, was a necessary article of furniture; the lamp-stand, or “candlestick” reminding men that the light of day, the light common to all, was not sufficient to guide to God. Cf.Exodus 25:31-39; and Zech., c. 4. for the making of the table instructions are recorded in Exodus 25:23-30, concluding with the injunction “Thou shalt set upon the table showbread before me alway.” In Leviticus 24:6 it is called “the pure table,” because made of “pure” gold. “and the setting forth of the loaves” called in Exodus 40:23 (P.) “loaves of the setting forth”. In Exodus 25:30 the command is given . , the loaves here being called bread of the face or presence. In Leviticus 24:5-9 minute instructions for their composition are given and for their “setting forth,” and it is added . . In 1 Chron. the loaves are called . translating bread of the row. On the meaning of the “show bread” see Robertson Smith’s Religion of the Semites, 207 ff. “The table of show bread has its closest parallel in the lectisternia of ancient heathenism, when a table laden with meats was spread beside the idol.” “But the idea that the gods actually consume the solid food that is deposited at their shrines is too crude to subsist without modification beyond the savage state of society; the ritual may survive, but the sacrificial gifts ’ will come to be the perquisite of the priests”. Cf. Warde Fowler’s Roman Festivals, 215–20. . “The qualitative relative directs attention to the features of the place which determine its name as ‘Holy’ ” (Westcott). is neuter plural, as in Hebrews 9:3. So Theodoret rejecting the reading . For this name see Leviticus 10:4; Numbers 3:22; but in LXX always with the article, here omitted, possibly, to bring out more prominently the holy character of the place.

 

 

Verses 1-14

Hebrews 9:1-14. The insufficiency of the first covenant is further illustrated from the character of its ordinances. For it was not devoid of elaborate and impressive appointments and regulations for worship, but these only pictured their own inefficiency. Especially did the exclusion from the holiest place of all but the High Priest, who himself could only enter once a year and with blood, signify that so long as these ordinances remained there could be no perfect approach of the worshipper to God. But this approach was achieved by Christ who ministered in the tabernacle not made with hands, and by His own blood cleansed the conscience and thus brought men into true fellowship with God.

 

 

Verse 3

Hebrews 9:3. .“And after the second veil the tent which is called ‘Holy of Holies,’ ” not, as Westcott, “a tent [was prepared] which is called,” for “when attributives are placed after with the article, the article before the substantive is dropped” (Buttmann, p. 92). The participle with the article as usual takes the place of a relative clause. in a local sense [non-classical, Blass, p. 133], which is here closely akin to the temporal = after the entrant has passed the second veil. The second veil separated the Holy place from the Holy of Holies, and as being the significant veil was sometimes spoken of without , simply as , see chap. Hebrews 6:19; Matthew 27:51, etc. Instructions for making and hanging it are given in Exodus 26:31-35; and in Exodus 26:36 the outer veil is described. The outer veil is sometimes called but more commonly , Exodus 26:36; Exodus 35:15 etc. The inner tent was called the , translating which in Hebrew idiom is equivalent to a superlative.

 

 

Verse 4

Hebrews 9:4. .’ The inner tent is characterised by its furnishings, a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant. is rendered both in A.V. and R.V. by “censer” following the Vulgate, “aureum habens thuribulum;” Grotius “ : hic non est mensa, sed impositum mensae batillum;” and others. In doing so the usage of the LXX is followed, for in 2 Chronicles 26:19, Ezekiel 8:11, 4 Maccabees 7:11—the only instances of its occurrence—it renders = censer; while “altar of incense” is rendered by , see Leviticus 4:7, 1 Chronicles 7:4-9, etc. But Philo (p. 512 A, 668, C), Josephus Ant., iii. 6, 8, and the versions of Symmachus and Theodotion in Exodus 31 use for “altar of incense”. Besides, the form of the word indicates that it could be used of anything on which incense is offered. It was, therefore, understood of the “altar” by Clement Alex. and other fathers; by Calvin, who says, “quo nomine altare suffitus vel thymiamatis potius intelligo quam thuribulum;” and by most modern scholars. As has frequently been urged it is incredible that in describing the furniture of the tabernacle there should be no mention of the altar of incense. Difficulty has been felt regarding the position here assigned to it, for in fact it stood outside the veil; and the author has been charged with error. But the change from of Hebrews 9:2 to is significant, and indicates that it was not precisely its local relations he had in view, but rather its ritual associations, “its close connection with the ministry of the Holy of Holies on the day of atonement, of which he is speaking” (Davidson). The altar was indeed so strictly connected with the Sancta Sanctorum that in the directions originally given for its construction this was brought out (Exodus 30:1-6). “Thou shalt set it before the veil ( . ) that is over the ark of the testimony,” and in Hebrews 9:10, “it is most holy ( ) to the Lord”. In 1 Kings 6:20 it is also said of Solomon that he made the altar of incense “in front of the oracle,” which brings it into direct connection with the ark Cf. also 1 Kings 9:25. , although made of shittim wood it was overlaid with gold and is often called “golden”. Here emphasis is laid upon its golden appearance as being worthy of its use. ’ “and the ark of the covenant covered all over with gold”. , a box or chest (in Aristoph. Wasps, 1056, wardrobe) or ark (a word still used in Scotland, where the meal-chest is known as the meal-ark). In LXX and N.T. appropriated to the chest in the Holy of Holies or to the ark in which Noah was rescued. For its construction see Exodus 25:10. . representing “inside and outside” of Exodus 25:11. Here called because in it were kept . “the tables of the covenant” on which were written the ten commandments, the sum of the terms to which the people swore on entering the covenant. Therefore called in Exodus 31:18 . These tables were, in LXX, first spoken of as ( , Exodus 24:12). They are called in Exodus 31:18. Paul also uses this word in contrasting the stone tables of the Law with the of the heart. In 1 Kings 8:9 it is stated that when Solomon’s Temple was dedicated these tables were the sole contents of the ark. In the tabernacle, however, as here described the ark also contained “a golden jar containing manna,” as directed in Exodus 16:33-34, Moses said to Aaron , where it is masculine; in Aristoph. Plut. 545, feminine (see Stephanus, s.v.). Usually it was of earthenware and used for holding wine, honey, etc. in Exod. is the form used; in the other books . , as related in Numbers 17:1-10, when the rods of the tribes were laid up before the Lord to determine who were the legitimate priests, . Chrysostom remarks that the contents of the ark were venerable and significant memorials of Israel’s rebellion; the tables of the covenant for the first were broken on account of their sin; the manna reminding them of their murmuring; the rod that budded of their jealousy of Aaron.

’ “And over it [the ark] Cherubim of glory, overshadowing the mercyseat” [“obumbrantia propitiatorium” (Vulg.)]. According to Exodus 25:18-22, the Cherubim were to be two in number, made of gold, one at each end of the ark, looking towards one another, and overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings [ ]. The Cherubim seem to have symbolised, in the manner of the Assyrians and Egyptians, the creatures of God, all that is best in creation, by a combination of excellences found in no single creature. In Ezekiel 1:10 they have four faces, of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle, representing respectively intelligence, strength, steadfastness, rapidity. But cf. Davidson, p. 173 and Cheyne’s art. in Encycl. Bibl. , the Cherubim are here called “of glory,” probably because closely attached to and, as it were, attendant upon, the place of the manifestation of the divine glory. [“Als Träger der Herrlichkeit, in welcher die göttliche Gnadengegenwart sich kund that” (Weiss).] . In Exodus 25:17 Moses is instructed to make a golden cover [ ] to be laid upon the lid of the ark, and this instruction the LXX renders by the words . The word alone, without any qualifying adjective, would have been an adequate translation of , for both words mean “a cover”. But is nowhere else used in the LXX to translate , which is regularly translated by , although this word does not express the idea of a material covering. [Philo more than once remarks upon this. In De Profug., 19, in speaking of symbols, he says , . And in Vit. Mos. iii. 68, .] The reason of this usage is to be found in the fact that this “cover” was sprinkled with blood on the day of atonement, and came, therefore, to be associated with the covering of sin. Indeed, the Hebrew word which denotes the material covering is that which is regularly used to express the covering of sin. The original thus became a and finally . (See Deissmann, Bibelstud. p. 121–132.) “of which we cannot now speak in detail”. , as commonly in classical Greek = . = one by one. Examples in Wetstein and Bleek (see especially Plato, Theaet. 157B, where it is opposed to ).

 

 

Verse 6

Hebrews 9:6. ’ “And after these things had been thus furnished, into the fore-tent, indeed, the priests enter continually in the performance of their services, but into the inner the High Priest alone once a year not without blood.” This is the particular . (Hebrews 9:1) to which he wishes to direct attention, the inaccessible sacredness of the inner chamber, as revealed in the constant openness of the outer-tent, the mysterious closeness of the inner. perfect; the arrangements were made with a view to the abiding service of the first covenant. , continuously, opposed to . Hebrews 9:7. present tense, as in Homer, Aristoph., Plato, Xenophon. It is not easy to determine whether this present implies the contemporaneous continuance of the services referred to. Tholuck thinks Bleek very “unreasonable” in concluding that it involves that the ark and the services connected with it were extant; but Bleek after reconsideration, finds himself unable to yield the point to “Freund Tholuck”. Davidson says, “The present ‘go in’ does not imply that the Levitical service still continued when this was written; the present is that of the record in Scripture.” The Vulgate shows its preference by tendering “introibant”. The truth seems to be that although the temple services were yet upheld, the use of the present tense here and in Hebrews 9:7; Hebrews 9:11, etc., does not involve that. , not, as Vulg., “sacrificiorum officia consummantes,” for these rather belonged to the court of the priests; but “performing their services” of trimming the lamp and offering incense; see Edersheim, The Temple; Its ministry, etc., p. 130–140. is used in Herod. and in Diod. Sic., and in Philo, for the accomplishing of religious services but it is not so used in the LXX.

 

 

Verses 6-10

Hebrews 9:6-10. Significance of these arrangements.

 

 

Verse 7

Hebrews 9:7. ’ The law is given in Leviticus 16, both negatively and positively; negatively in Leviticus 16:2 . —promiscuous or continuous, daily entrance was forbidden; and positively, in Leviticus 16:34 , i.e., one day each year, viz., on the day of Atonement, the tenth of the seventh month the High Priest is to enter. On that day the High Priest was to enter the Holiest at least thrice, first with the incense, then with the blood of the bullock which atoned for his own sins and those of his house, and finally with the blood of the goat for the sins of the people. in contrast with of Hebrews 9:6. This point is also emphasised by Philo, De Mon., p. 821 E., where he says that the things inside the veil were hidden from everyone , and by Josephus (Bell. Jud. ver. 5; ver. 7) . See also Leviticus 16:17. The law was emphasised by the destruction of Nadab and Abhu, Leviticus 10:1. The Holiness of the Presence and the difficulty of access was further illustrated and enforced by the demand that sacrifice should open the way . This blood was offered, i.e., sprinkled with the finger on the , first, the blood of the calf to cleanse from his own sins, and then, the blood of the goat to atone for the people’s sins. [ is manifestly under the direct government of and does not follow . This word does not occur in Leviticus 16; on the contrary the strongest words are used, , , , but cf.Hebrews 5:2.] These three points, then, bring out the impossibility of free access to the Presence; not but . ; not promiscuously, but ; not freely, but . This was the which could not be neglected under pain of death. What did it signify? . ’ “this the Holy Spirit signifying, that the way into the Holy of Holies has not yet been made manifest, while the fore-tent has still a place”. , the Holy Spirit is viewed as the author of the ritual and as meaning to teach by every part of it. Vaughan compares 1 Peter 1:11 and adds, “As there O.T. prophecy, so here O.T. ritual, is ascribed to the Holy Spirit.” . “the way into the Holiest” as in Hebrews 8:2. Access to the Holy of Holies being thus barred was an intimation that the true access to God had not yet been furnished and that therefore worship and fellowship with God (that is, religion) were not yet perfect. [Cf. Theoph. . , . . Weiss, “der Weg zum himmlischen Heiligthum”.] So long as the fore-tent ( ) has an appointed place as part of the Divine arrangements for worship ( as in Polyb. Hebrews 9:5; Hebrews 9:3) this signifies that the very Presence of God is inaccessible. The very object of the division of the Tabernacle into two rooms, an outer and an inner, was to impress men with the fact that the way of access had not actually been disclosed ( ). Hence the appropriateness of the rending of the veil as the Symbol that by the perfected work and sacrifice of Christ the new and living way (Hebrews 10:20) was opened.

 

 

Verse 9

Hebrews 9:9. ’ “for this is a parable for the time [then] present,” for the contemporary period. has for its antecedent . This is the simplest construction (Cf. Winer, p. 207). That suggested by Primasius and Vaughan—“Which thing (the fact of there being a separate from the Holy of Holies) was a parable”—is grammatically admissible. . , “for the time being”. In the usual division of time into past, present and future, the present was termed . But present to whom? Several interpreters reply, To those living under the Christian dispensation. So especially Delitzsch and Alford. But N.T. usage, and especially the usage of this Epistle which speaks of the Christian dispensation as “the coming age” (Hebrews 6:5), “the future world” (Hebrews 2:5), indicates that “the present time” must refer to the O.T. period. Besides, the opposition to points in the same direction; as also does the clause under . is here “with reference to”. And the meaning is, that the outer tent which did not itself contain God’s presence, but rather stood barring access to it, was a parable of the entire dispensation. In other words, this Tabernacle arrangement was a striking symbol of the Mosaic economy which could not of itself effect spiritual approach and abiding fellowship with God. The Levitical themselves, on the ground of which all these arrangements proceed, emphatically declared their own inadequacy. Wrapped up in them was the truth that they could not bring the worshipper into God’s presence. ’ “in accordance with which [parable] are offered both gifts and sacrifices that cannot perfect him that doth the service as regards conscience, being only ordinances of the flesh resting upon meats and drinks and divers washings, imposed until a time of rectification”. - referring to ; it is in accordance with the parabolic significance of the Tabernacle and its arrangements, that gifts and sacrifices were offered which could only purge the flesh, not the conscience. , Winer’s note (p. 608) is misleading. Cf. Jebb’s Appendix to Vincent and Dickson’s Modern Greek, p. 340. “In later Greek, tended to usurp the place of ,” especially with participles. Cf. Blass, 255. means, to give to the worshipper the consciousness that he is inwardly cleansed from defilement and is truly in communion with God; to bring conscience finally into peace.

 

 

Verse 10

Hebrews 9:10. evidently introduces the positive aspect of the virtue of the “gifts and sacrifices,” thus more closely defining ’ the gifts and sacrifices are not able to bring the worshipper into a final rest as regards conscience, only having effect so far as regards meats and drinks and divers washings—ordinances of the flesh, not of the conscience, imposed until a time of rectification. The change of preposition from to need excite no surprise (cf. Aristotle’s frequent change of preposition, e.g., Eth. Nic., iv. 3, 26); and here there is a slight distinction in the reference. has frequently the meaning “in connection with,” “with regard to” as in Luke 12:52; John 12:16; Acts 21:24 [see especially Donaldson’s excellent treatment of this preposition (Greek Gram., p. 518) showing that with the dative it signifies absolute superposition, i.e., rest upon, or close to, hence addition, subsequence and succession, then “that which is close by us as a suggesting cause, accompaniment, motive, or condition”. . , “we are cheerful on account of the prosperity of our friends”. “but were to give all these things names from in accordance with) the opinions of the great monster” (Plato, Rep. 493, c).] The meaning then is that the virtue ( ) of the gifts and sacrifices is only in relation to defilements occasioned by eating and drinking or neglecting the enjoined purifications. may either be construed as a contemptuous exclamation appended, or it may be softened by “which are”. “usque ad tempus correctionis”. is a making straight or right; used by Hippocrates of reducing a fracture, by Aristotle of repairing roads and houses, by Polybius of paying debts, of education, etc. It means, putting things right, bringing matters into a satisfactory state, and is thus used of the introduction of the new covenant, in confirmation of Hebrews 8:8. No term could better express this writer’s view of the characteristic of Messianic times.

 

 

Verse 11

Hebrews 9:11. ’ “But Christ having arrived a High Priest of the good things that were to be, He, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, nor yet through blood of he-goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered once for all into the Holy of Holies, and obtained eternal redemption.” The main thought of the verse is that Christ has obtained eternal redemption; the , therefore, which introduces it, refers to the inability of the Levitical gifts and sacrifices to perfect the worshipper. The greater efficiency of Christ’s ministry results from its being exercised in a more perfect tabernacle and with a truer sacrifice. , scarcely, as Vulg. “assistens” rather “having arrived,” as in Matthew 2:1; Matthew 3:1; Matthew 3:13; and frequently in Luke and Acts. Cf.Isaiah 62:11. ’ Here it is in fulfilment of the expectation aroused by . . “The genitive gives the subject of the high priestly action. High Priest, concerned about, ministering in, securing and applying by His ministry . . The genitive here is nearly equivalent to the accusative in Hebrews 2:17” (Vaughan). The good things that were to be under the new covenant are specified in Hebrews 8:10-12; they surpassed all expectation, however. “The High Priest” of the good things coming, is a notable title. Possibly it is only equivalent to “High Priest of the new covenant,” the contents being used to stand for the whole dispensation, but more probably the writer has in view the slender benefits obtained by the Levitical High Priest, and contrasts them with the illimitable good mediated by Christ. . The meaning of in Hebrews 9:11 favours the understanding of it here not in a local (Weiss, etc.) but an instrumental sense, “by means of”. It was because He was High Priest not in the earthly but the heavenly tabernacle that He was able to secure these great results. No doubt in a similar connection in Hebrews 4:14 and Hebrews 10:20 is used locally. But this sense is not so applicable here. Christ is represented here as the High Priest ministering in the tabernacle, not passing through it (Cf. Davidson and Westcott). . , the tabernacle greater and more perfect than that which has been described in the preceding verses, and which has itself been mentioned as the scene of Christ’s ministry, Hebrews 8:2. This tabernacle is “not made with hands” , as in Hebrews 9:24; equivalent to , Hebrews 8:2. Our Lord characterised the temple as , Mark 14:58. Being of human manufacture, Hebrews 8:2, it could be only a symbolic dwelling for God and a symbolic worship was appropriate. The words are added in explanation, although, as Bleek remarks, they are certainly no clearer than the words they are meant to explain. They are, however, more significant; for they point out that the tabernacle in which Christ ministers does not belong to this world at all, has no place among created things and is thus in striking contrast to the of Hebrews 9:1. It must, however, be acknowledged that Field (Otium Norv., p. 229) has shown reason for believing that we should translate “not of ordinary erection”. “By I understand vulgaris, quae vulgo dicitur”; and he sees no occasion to take in any other sense than that in which is commonly applied to a city (3 Esd. 4:53) or to the tabernacle itself (Leviticus 16:16). This meaning of , though warranted by the LXX cited by Field is, however, rare; and the sense is a little flat, whereas the other interpretation is full of significance.

 

 

Verse 12

Hebrews 9:12. ’ Not only was the place of ministry different, the sacrifice offered also was different. “Not without blood,” could the High Priest make his annual entry (Hebrews 9:7), but it was with the blood of a calf for himself and of a he-goat for the people. In LXX of Leviticus 16 the is uniformly called but in Aquila’s version is used in Hebrews 9:8 and in Symmachus in Hebrews 9:8; Hebrews 9:10. , “So only could He enter for us. As the Eternal Son He has a right there; as the High Priest of man, He enters in virtue of the sacrifice of Himself” (Vaughan). , as in Hebrews 7:27, in contrast to the ever-recurring annual entrance; and preparing the way for the statement of the last clause, . Rutherford (New Phryn., p. 215) says for represents a common corruption of late Greek, but Veitch seems to think instances of its occurrence in Attic have been tampered with. See Tholuck in loc.; and Blass, G.G., p. 45. Probably the aorist participle here expresses the result of the action of the main verb, . “But it is possible that is used to describe the whole High Priestly act, including both the entrance into the holy place and the subsequent offering of the blood, and that is thus a participle of identical action. In either case it should be translated not having obtained as in R.V. but obtaining or and obtained” (Burton M. & T., 66). [Weiss accurately “Der nachgestellte Participialsatz drückt aus, was in und mit diesem Eingehen geschah”.] On the use of the Mid. in N.T. see Thayer, s.v. Here it can only mean that Christ obtained salvation by offering Himself. must, in consistency with the passage, be understood of the deliverance from guilt which enabled the worshipper to enter God’s presence. From this flow all other spiritual blessings. It is here termed in contrast to the deliverance achieved by the Levitical High Priest, which had to be repeated year by year. Christ obtained a redemption which was absolute and for ever valid.

 

 

Verse 13

Hebrews 9:13. ’ “For if the blood of goats and bulls and an heifer’s ashes sprinkling the unclean purify as regards the cleanness of the flesh, how much rather shall the blood of the Christ, who through eternal spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” The writer thus justifies the affirmation of Hebrews 9:12 that by offering His own blood Christ obtained eternal redemption. , the law of purification with the ashes of the is given in Numbers 19, where we find the characteristic words of this verse, , , , , , but (not used in LXX) is replaced by . , “made common,” i.e., profane, ceremonially unclean. Defilement was contracted by touching a dead body, or entering into a house in which a corpse was lying, or touching a bone or a tomb; and to enter the Tabernacle while thus defiled was to incur the penalty of being cut off from Israel. The water in which lay the ashes of the burned heifer was therefore provided for purification ( ) and by using it the worshipper was again rendered fit for entrance to the worship of God. governs . and is not to be translated as if it were a passive; so Vulg., “aspersus inquinatos sanctificat” (cf. Calvin and Bengel). , the meaning is determined by its use in Numbers 19, where it signifies the removal of ceremonial defilement: the taking away of that which rendered the person “common” or “profane,” and the qualifying him for again worshipping God. This extended , “in the direction of” (Hebrews 6:11) or “in relation to” (Hebrews 2:17, Hebrews 5:1) (cf. Weiss). The flesh is here opposed to “the conscience” of Hebrews 9:14. It was only the flesh that was defiled by attending to the dead; and only the flesh that was cleansed by the prescribed sprinkling. Defilement and cleansing were alike symbolic. It was within a well-defined ceremonial limit these sacrifices and washings availed. What kind of water, no matter how mixed with heifer’s ashes, could reach and wash the soul?

 

 

Verse 14

Hebrews 9:14. .’ The Levitical sacrifices had their congruous effect, the sacrifice of Christ must also have its appropriate result. The blood offered was not of bulls and goats but of “the Christ;” it was not with another’s blood (vicarious, Hebrews 9:25) but with His own He entered God’s presence. His was not a bodily sacrifice but . . This clause is inserted to justify the efficacy of the blood of Christ in cleansing the conscience. It had virtue to cleanse the conscience because it was the blood of one “who through eternal spirit offered Himself blameless to God”. How are we to understand . ? Riehm considers it a parellel expression to that of Hebrews 7:16, , and that it is here used to bring out the idea that Christ having an eternal spirit was thereby able to perform the whole work of atonement, not merely dying on the cross but passing through that death to present Himself before God. So too Davidson, Weiss and others. This involves that refers not to the cross but to the appearance before God, subsequently to the death. And it does not account for the absence of the article. It seems more relevant to the passage and more consistent with the purpose of the clause (to show the ground of the efficacy of the blood of Christ) to understand the words as expressing the spiritual nature of the sacrifice which gave it eternal validity. It had superior efficacy to the blood of bulls and goats because it was not of the flesh merely, but was expressive of the spirit. It is the spirit prompting the sacrifice and giving it efficacy, which the writer seeks to indicate. Over against the “ordinances of the flesh” which made the slaughter of animals compulsory and a mere matter of letting material blood, he sets this wholly different sacrifice which was prompted and inspired by spirit and belonged wholly to the sphere of spiritual and eternal things. [Spiritus opponitur conditioni animantum ratione carentium (Hebrews 9:13, Bengel); “bezeichnet das Lebensprinzip, in dessen Kraft, von dem beseelt und angetrieben Christus sich opferte” (Kübel)]. It was the spirit underlying and expressed in the sacrifice which gave it all its potency. Spirit is eternal and can alone be efficacious in eternal things. . The Levitical High Priest, as stated in Hebrews 9:25, entered the holy place , but Christ . Also goats and calves were of no great value, but what Christ offered was of infinite value. Two points are brought out by . (1) He offered not a vicarious victim; but, as Priest, offered the only true sacrifice, Himself. Therefore His blood had cleansing efficacy. (2) He offered not a cheap animal, but the most precious of sacrifices. , i.e., on the cross; for the clause is an explanation of the value of the blood. Cf.Hebrews 9:28. without blemish, perfect, as required in the Levitical sacrifices, but now with an ethical significance, and therefore possessing an ethical validity. This explains how the blood of Christ should not merely furnish ceremonial cleanness but , a characterisation of sins suggested by the context. Works that defile; as the touching of a dead body defiled the worshipper. Works from which a man must be cleansed before he can enter God’s presence. A pause might be made before , from dead—(not bodies but) works. [ , Hellenistic; see Anz. Subsidia, 374. In class. is used, as in Herod. i, 44, , and Æsch. Choeph. 72.] This cleansing is preparatory to the worship of the living God . The living God, who is all life, can suffer no taint of death in His worshippers. Death moral and physical cannot exist in His presence. , “ad serviendum, in perpetuum, modo beatissimo et vere sacerdotali” (Bengel).

 

 

Verse 15

Hebrews 9:15. , “And on this account,” that is to say, because, as stated in Hebrews 9:14, Christ’s blood cleanses the conscience from dead works and thus fits men to draw near to God, , “He is mediator of a new covenant”. The old covenant with sacrifices which could only cleanse the flesh allowed sins to accumulate. But Christ, as above stated, obtained cleansing from sins, and so laid the essential foundation of a new covenant, Hebrews 8:12. ’ “that a death having taken place for deliverance from the transgressions [committed] under the first covenant, those who have been called might receive the promised eternal inheritance”. Even under the old covenant this inheritance had been promised. A gospel had been preached to them, and they had been invited, Hebrews 4:2. God being during that period the covenant God of the people, this involved eternal good. But until their transgressions were atoned for they could not receive the inheritance. The sacrifices under the old covenant could not atone for sin, therefore a new covenant with a death which could atone was necessary; in order that such a death having taken place and their sins being removed they might receive fulfilment of the promise. The retrospective reference of the death of Christ is here affirmed; as in Hebrews 11:40 it is stated that without us, i.e., without the Christian dispensation, the O.T. believers could not be perfected, The words , therefore, include not only the Hebrews addressed but all who had lived under the O.T. dispensation. , the genitive is of the object from which redemption is achieved, and is scarcely “against” as in Vaughan, but rather “in the time of,” as in Hebrews 9:26, Philippians 1:3.

 

 

Verse 16

Hebrews 9:16. ’ The meaning of these words is doubtful. In the LXX occurs about 280 times and in all but four instances translates , covenant. In classical and Hellenistic Greek, however, it is the common word for “will” or “testament” (see especially The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, Grenfell and Hunt, Part I., 105, etc., where the normal meaning of the word appears also from the use of for “intestate” and for “to alter a will”). Accordingly it has been supposed by several interpreters that the writer, taking advantage of the double meaning of , at this point introduces an argument which applies to it in the sense of “will” or “testament,” but not in the sense of “covenant”; as if he said, “where a testamentary disposition of property is made, this comes into force only on the decease of the testator”. “it is necessary that the death of him who made the disposition be adduced”. On the very common omission of the copula in the third singular indicative see Buttmann, p. 136. , “necesse est afferri testimonia de morte testatoris” (Wetstein). For passages establishing its use as a term of the courts for the production of evidence, etc., see Field in loc. and especially Appian, De Bell. Civil. ii. 143, . (See also Eisner in loc.) is apparently even used for “to register” in the Oxy. Papyri, Part II., 244. The reason of this necessity is given in Hebrews 9:17. ’ “for a testament is of force with reference to dead people, since it is never of any force when the testator is alive”. On this interpretation the words mean that before the inheritance, alluded to in Hebrews 9:15, could become the possession of those to whom it had been promised, Christ must die. He is thus represented as a testator. The illustration from the general law relating to wills or testaments extends only to the one point that Christ’s people could inherit only on condition of Christ’s death. The reason of Christ’s death receives no illustration. He did not die merely to make room for the heir. The objections to this interpretation are (1) the constant Biblical usage by which, with one doubtful exception in Galatians 3, stands for “covenant,” not for “will”. On this point see the strong statement of Hatch, Essays in Bibl. Greek, p. 48. “There can be little doubt that the word must be invariably taken in this sense of “covenant” in the N.T., and especially in a book which is so impregnated with the language of the LXX as the epistle to the Hebrews”. (2) His argument regarding covenants receives no help from usages which obtain in connection with testaments which are not covenants. The fact that both could be spoken of under the same name shows that they were related in some way; but presumably the writer had in view things and not merely words. To adduce the fact that in the case of wills the death of the testator is the condition of validity, is, of course, no proof at all that a death is necessary to make a covenant valid. (3) The argument of Hebrews 9:18 is destroyed if we understand Hebrews 9:16-17 of wills; for in this verse it is the first covenant that is referred to.

But is it possible to retain the meaning “covenant”? Westcott, Rendall, Hatch, Moulton and others think it is possible. To support his argument, proving the necessity of Christ’s death, the writer adduces the general law that he who makes a covenant does so at the expense of life. What is meant becomes plain in the 18th verse, for in the covenant there alluded to, the covenanting people were received into covenant through death. That covenant only became valid over the dead bodies of the victims slain as representing the people. Whatever this substitutionary death may have meant, it was necessary to the ratification of the covenant. The sacrifices may have been expiatory, indicating that all old debts and obligations were cancelled and that the covenanters entered into this covenant as clean and new men; or they may have meant that the terms of the covenant were immutable; or that the people died to the past and became wholly the people of God. In any case the dead victims were necessary, and without them, , the covenant was not inaugurated or ratified. Great light has been thrown on this passage by Dr. Trumbull in his Blood Covenant, in which he shows the universality of that form of compact and the significance of the blood. The rite of interchanging blood or tasting one another’s blood, indicates that the two are bound in one life and must be all in all to one another. On the whole, this interpretation is to be preferred. Certainly it connects much better with what follows. For having shown that by dead victims all covenants are ratified, the writer proceeds , “wherefore not even the first,”—although imperfect and temporary—“was inaugurated without blood,” i.e., without death. [The perfect here as elsewhere in Hebrews is scarcely distinguishable from the aorist.] Proof that this statement regarding the first covenant is correct he forthwith gives in Hebrews 9:19-20.

Hebrews 9:19. .’ “For when Moses had spoken to the people every commandment of the law,” this being the needful preliminary, that the people might clearly understand the obligations they assumed on entering the covenant, he then took the blood of the calves and the goats, etc. In Exodus 24:3 ff., an account is given of the inauguration of the first covenant. To that narrative certain additions of no importance are here made. In Exodus no mention is made of goats, only of . (See Westcott on this discrepancy.) Probably this addition is due to an echo of Hebrews 9:12-13. Water, which was added to the blood to prevent coagulation or possibly as a symbol of cleansing; (cf.John 19:34; 1 John 5:6) scarlet wool, , so called from “the grain or berry of the ilex coccifera” used in dyeing (cf.Leviticus 14:4) and the hyssop or wild marjoram on which the wool was tied, are all added as associated with sacrifice in general, and all connected with the blood and the sprinkling. here takes the place of the of Exodus and the action is not confined to the people as in the original narrative but includes , the book itself, that is, even the book in which Moses had written the words of the Lord, the terms of the covenant. Everything connected with the covenant bore the mark of blood, of death. Again, in Hebrews 9:20, instead of the of the LXX, which literally renders the Hebrew we have . . ., a possible echo of our Lord’s words in instituting the new covenant, and instead of of Exodus 24:8 we have corresponding with the of Hebrews 9:19.

 

 

Verse 21

Hebrews 9:21. .’ “And he also in like manner sprinkled with the blood the tabernacle and all the instruments of the service”. The tabernacle, however, was not yet erected when the covenant was instituted. Delitzsch supposes that a subsequent though kindred transaction is referred to; and colour is given to this supposition by the separation of this verse from Hebrews 9:19. But against it is the article in , “the blood,” apparently the blood defined in Hebrews 9:19-20; although it is just possible the writer may have meant “the blood” which formed part of the means of service. Neither was it by Moses but by Aaron the tabernacle and the altar were sprinkled with blood and so cleansed on the day of Atonement. When first erected were anointed with oil (Exodus 40:9) but Josephus records a tradition that it was consecrated not only with oil but also with blood (Ant. iii. 8, 6). It seems that the author adopts this tradition, and ascribes to Moses at the original consecration of the tabernacle the cleansing rites which afterwards were annually performed by Aaron on the day of Atonement.

 

 

Verse 22

Hebrews 9:22. ’ “And one may almost say that according to the law all things are cleansed with blood, and without blood-shedding is no remission”. qualifies the whole clause and not only . Whether it qualifies both clauses, as Bleek, Weiss and others suppose, is more doubtful. Westcott and Delitzsch confine its reference to the first clause. “with blood” the usual instrumental . , all things, especially, of course, those that were used in God’s worship or brought into His tabernacle. Water was used for cleansing from certain pollutions. , it was not only a contrivance of man but the law of God which enacted that cleansing must be by blood. , “without blood-shedding,” a word which occurs only here in Bibl. Greek. See Stephanus s.v. In all the instances cited in Stephanus it means the shedding of blood. Rendall, then, is quite wrong in maintaining (after Tholuck and De Wette) that it means, not the shedding but the outpouring of the blood at the foot of the altar. “The essential idea attached to the one act was destruction of life, of the other devotion of the same life to God. Hence the typical significance of the two acts was also quite distinct; outpouring of blood typified in fact, not physical death, but spiritual martyrdom by the surrender of a living will to God in perfect obedience even unto death”. Weiss is strictly accurate in his remark, “ . kann ohne eine lokale Näherbestimmung nicht die Ausgiessung des Blutes am Altare bezeichnen”. The evidence is furnished by Bleek. The words, if not suggested by, inevitably recall our Lord’s words (Matthew 26:28) . Cleansing was required of everything connected with God’s worship, because it was stained through contact with men. And that this stain was guilt is implied in the use of . It is by remission of sin the stain is removed. And according to the great law of Leviticus 17:11, this remission was attained by the shedding of blood . is used absolutely only here and in Mark 3:29; elsewhere it is used with or . In Luke 4:18 it signifies “release”.

 

 

Verse 23

Hebrews 9:23. ’ “It was necessary, therefore, that the copies indeed of the heavenly things be cleansed with these, but the heavenlies themselves with better sacrifices than these.” , the carries to its consequence Hebrews 9:22; and the necessity arises from the injunction of the law there mentioned. . the show that the second clause is that to which attention is to be given, the first clause introducing it. The statement is almost equivalent to “As it was necessary ’ so it was necessary” ’ The . are the tabernacle and its furnishings, in accordance with Hebrews 8:5; which see. , viz., the things mentioned in Hebrews 9:19. . If the copies were cleansed by material rites, realities being spiritual and eternal can only be cleansed by what is spiritual and eternal, cf.Hebrews 9:14. , the plural is suggested by , and states an abstract inference. But do the “heavenlies” need cleansing? Bruce says, “I prefer to make no attempt to assign a theological meaning to the words. I would rather make them intelligible to my mind by thinking of the glory and honour accruing even to heaven by the entrance there of ‘the Lamb of God’. I believe there is more of poetry than of theology in the words. For the writer is a poet as well as a theologian, and on this account, theological pedants, however learned, can never succeed in interpreting satisfactorily this epistle”. But it is scarcely permissible to exclude at this point of the author’s argument the theological inference that in some sense and in some relation the heavenlies need cleansing. The earthly tabernacle, as God’s dwelling, might have been supposed to be hallowed by His presence and to need no cleansing, but being also His meeting-place with men it required to be cleansed. And so our heavenly relations with God, and all wherewith we seek to approach Him, need cleansing. In themselves things heavenly need no cleansing, but as entered upon by sinful men they need it. Our eternal relations with God require purification.

 

 

Verses 23-28

Hebrews 9:23-28. The necessity of cleansing the heavenly sanctuary and the efficiency and finality of Christ’s one sacrifice.

 

 

Verse 24

Hebrews 9:24. .’ The connection, indicated by , is “I say , for it is not into a holy place constructed by man that Christ has entered, but into heaven itself”. Others prefer to connect this verse with . “Better sacrifices” were needed, for not into, etc. The humanly constructed tabernacle, being made after the divine pattern, Hebrews 8:5, is here called . According to Hebrews 8:5 a of the heavenly realities was shown to Moses, and what he constructed from that model was an , answering to the type. But as here used with ., (in agreement with ) must mean what we usually speak of as a type, that which corresponds to and prefigures. In the only other instance of its occurrence, 1 Peter 3:21, it has the converse meaning, the reality of baptism which corresponds to or is the antitype of the deluge. The are contrasted with , heaven itself [ in contrast to the mere likeness or copy] the ultimate reality, the presence of spiritual and eternal things. “Coelum in quod Christus ingressus est, non est ipsum coelum creatum quodcunque fuerit, sed est coelum in quo Deus est etiam quando coelum creatum nullum est, ipsa gloria divina” (Seb. Schmidt in Delitzsch). ’ “now to appear openly before the face of God in our behalf”, “now,” after His completed work on earth, and as his present continuous function; in contrast both to the past ministries, in which face to face communion was impossible, and to Christ’s reappearance to men, Hebrews 9:28. . . . The meaning of is most clearly seen from such passages as Exodus 33:18, John 14:21. In the passive it means “to be manifest,” “to appear openly” or “clearly,” “to show one’s self,” as in Matthew 27:53 of the bodies of the saints, . The infinitive is the infinitive of designed result common in N.T., as in classics, especially after verbs of motion, cf.Matthew 2:2; Matthew 11:8, etc. The aorist may here be used to denote that “the manifestation of Christ, in whom humanity is shown in its perfect ideal before the face of God is ‘one act at once’ ”; but this is doubtful. The force of . is strengthened still more by the emphatic . . . In the earthly sanctuary the law was (Exodus 33:23) but . (Leviticus 16:2). In Psalms 42:2 we find indeed . . ; but this is the non-literal expression of a poet. In the present passage the words are not the loose expression of the ordinary worshipper but are meant to be taken literally. And the intentionally emphatic character of the whole phrase is best accounted for by the fact that the darkness and clouds of incense in the old sanctuary were meant as much to veil the unworthiness of the priest from God as the glory of God from the priest. Now Christ appears before God face to face with no intervening cloud. Perfect fellowship is attained by His perfect and stainless offering of Himself. All is clear between God and man. For it is “for us” He enters this presence and fellowship; not that He alone may enjoy it, but that we may enter into the rest and blessedness that He has won for us.

 

 

Verse 25

Hebrews 9:25. ’ “Nor yet [did He enter in] in order to offer Himself repeatedly,” that is, He did not enter in for a brief stay from which He was to return to renew His sacrifice. Westcott holds that the “offering” corresponds with the offering of the victim upon the altar, not with the bringing of the blood into the Holy of Holies. He refers to Hebrews 9:14 , to Hebrews 9:28, and also to Hebrews 10:10. Similarly Weiss and others. But in Hebrews 9:7 distinctly refers to the bringing in and application of the blood in the Holy of Holies, and the context of the present passage seems decidedly to make for the same interpretation. The sequence of the clause after ; the analogy presented in the clause under ; and the consequence stated under (Hebrews 9:26) all combine in favouring this meaning. The High Priest enters the Holiest annually, but Christ’s entering in was of another kind, not requiring repetition. The reason for the reiterated entering in of the High Priest, as well as the possibility of it, is given in the words . : “The High Priest was, as it were, surrounded, enveloped, in the life sacrificed and symbolically communicated” (Westcott). It is safer to take in its common instrumental sense: the blood was the instrument which enabled the High Priest to enter. The reason why the entrance had to be annually renewed is given in Hebrews 10:4. The same contrast between and is found in Hebrews 9:12. A sacrifice of blood not one’s own is necessarily imperfect, Christ’s entrance to God being and had eternal efficacy.

 

 

Verse 26

Hebrews 9:26. ’ “Since in that case he must often have suffered since the creation.” If Christ’s one offering of Himself were not eternally efficacious, if it required periodical renewal, then this demanded periodical sacrifice. It was “not without blood” the entrance was made, and if the entrance required repetition, so must the sacrifice be repeated. And as sin prevailed , the must also date from the first. The contrast is with the one offering . . . “If his offering of Himself were not independent of time and valid as a single act, if it were valid only for the generation for whom it is immediately made, then in order to benefit men in the past, He must have suffered often, indeed in each generation of the past” (Davidson). ’ “But now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested for sin’s abolition by His sacrifice”, , “as things are,” in contrast to the case supposed in Hebrews 9:25, the possibility of His repeated entrance and sacrifice. For the word, see Hebrews 8:6. not , Hebrews 9:25-26; and this, [for in this use see Winer, p. 489] at that period of history in which all that has happened since the foundation of the world ( ) finds its interpretation and adjustment. If there was to be one sacrifice for all generations, the occurrence of that sacrifice itself marked the period as the consummation. It closes the periods of symbolism, expectation and doubt, suggesting, perhaps, the word for Christ’s appearance, as that which was dimly foreshadowed, blindly longed for. , The object of Christ’s appearance, the abolition of sin, made the repetition of His sacrifice unnecessary. In Hebrews 7:18 is used of permanent displacement, removal, or setting aside, that is, abolition, of sin, in its most general and comprehensive sense, all sin. This was the great object of Christ’s manifestation, the annulling of sin, its total destruction, the counteraction of all its effects. This was to be accomplished “through His sacrifice,” the simple subjective genitive. The sentence draws attention not to the nature of the sacrifice, but to its three characteristics, that it was made once for tall, in the consummation, for sin’s abolition.

 

 

Verse 27

Hebrews 9:27. ’ “And inasmuch as it is reserved for men once to die and, after this, judgment, so, also, Christ, etc.” To confirm his statement that Christ’s sacrifice was “once for all,” he appeals to the normal conditions of human death. To men generally, , it is appointed once to die, men are not permitted to return to earth to compensate for neglect or failure, but immediately succeeding upon death, if not in time, yet in consequence, follows judgment. The results of life are entered upon. So Christ died but once and the results will be apparent in His appearing the second time without sin unto salvation. “is reserved” as in Longinus’ De Subl. ix. 7, , cf. iii. 5; also Dion. Hal. Hebrews 9:8, , and especially 2 Timothy 4:8. What is destined for all men is not simply death, but . once to die. Cf. the fragment of Sophocles . “after this,” but how long, the author does not say. “Man dies once, and the next thing before him is judgment. So Christ died once and the next thing before Him is the Advent” (Vaughan).

 

 

Verse 28

Hebrews 9:28. . The comparison extends to both terms, the once dying and the judgment. [Cf. Kübel, “die Korrespondenz ist nicht bloss die der gleichen Menschennatur, sondern das, dass mit dem Tod das, was das Leben bedeutet, abgeschlossen, fertigist”]. The results of the life are settled. And in Christ’s case the result is that He appears the second time without sin unto salvation, the sin having been destroyed by His death, corresponds to of Hebrews 9:27. The passive is used to be more in keeping with the universal law expressed in of Hebrews 9:27. Though the “offering” as we have seen includes both the death and the entrance into the Holiest with the blood, it is the death which is here prominent. , “to bear the sins of many”. Westcott says, “the burden which Christ took upon Him and bore to the cross was ‘the sins of many’ not, primarily, or separately from the sins, the punishment of sins.” But in what intelligible sense can sins be borne but by bearing their punishment? In Numbers 14:33, e.g., it is said “your sins shall be fed in the wilderness forty years , where the same verb is used as here to express the idea of suffering punishment for the sins of others, , although it was the death of but one, cf.Romans 5:12-21, but probably only a reminiscence of Isaiah 58:12. . ’ a second time He shall appear, , visible to the eye. The word is probably used because appropriate to the appearances after the resurrection, cf.Luke 24:34, Acts 9:17; Acts 13:31, 1 Corinthians 5, 6, 7, 8 where is regularly used. But on this “second” appearance His object is different. He will come not . . , but . irrespective of sin, not to be a sin offering but to make those who wait for Him partakers of the great salvation, Hebrews 2:3, cf.Hebrews 10:37-39; and Hebrews 9:12. “There may be an illusion to the reappearance of the High Priest after the solemn ceremonial in the Holy of Holies on the day of atonement to the anxiously waiting people” (Vaughan). Cf.Luke 1:21. The word is used in 1 Corinthians 1:7 and Philippians 3:20 of the expectation of the second advent, and in 2 Timothy 4:8 is varied by the beautiful expression “they that have loved His appearing”.

 

 

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Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Hebrews 9". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/egt/hebrews-9.html. 1897-1910.