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Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 9

Godbey's Commentary on the New TestamentGodbey's NT Commentary

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Verses 1-12



Apollos had been gloriously converted under the preaching of John the Baptist and powerfully sanctified through the ministry of Priscilla and Aquila. Having been educated at Alexandria, Egypt, the greatest literary emporium in the world, he was thoroughly versed in all Judaic institutions. Hence he takes up every ramification of the Mosaic religion and uses it as a substratum on which to build the triumphant doctrine of Christian perfection, which constitutes the crowning glory of the Gospel dispensation. He here builds a majestic and irrefragable argument on the great, notable and prominent institution of the Jewish tabernacle and temple.

1. “The first tabernacle has ordinances of worship and a worldly sanctuary.” Before the Jew could enter the sanctuary, he must offer a burnt offering on the brazen altar, which stood without. This emblematized his justification from the guilt of his actual sins. Then he must go to the laver and receive a watery ablution, typifying the regeneration of his heart by the Holy Ghost. Having passed the altar and the laver, he enters the sanctuary of the Lord, which emblematizes the kingdom of grace. This is called a worldly sanctuary, because worldly elements could get into it. The Greek ecclesia, church, means the called out of the world. Hagiazo, sanctify, means to take the world out of you. This is precisely corroborated by the two temples. The outer is called a worldly sanctuary because the regenerated people who enter it still have worldly elements in their hearts. The world could not enter the sanctum sanctorum, into which the high priest alone went once a yea. Hence you see the perfect synonymy of the two temples with the two experiences. The first was called worldly because the elements of the world were in it. The second was called the holy of holies because none but the high priest, who emblematized Christ, and the wholly sanctified could enter it. While regeneration brings us out of the world, we carry much of the world with us in our hearts into the kingdom of grace. Sanctify means to take the world out of you, and thus bring you into the holy of holies.

2. The first sanctuary had to be lighted by human agency, like the churches of the present day. It also contained the shew bread for the past to eat, which must be frequently renewed or it will get stale and mold. How strikingly all this illustrates the unsanctified experience! Though you have the candlestick, i.e., your experience of conversion, yet much of the time you are under a cloud, walking in darkness, hoping some man of God or sanctified woman will come along and light your lamp again. Though you generally have some bread on the table, frequently it is so old and hard that you can’t chew it and so moldy as to nauseate you. How you wish for some holiness crank to come along and bring you a fresh loaf!

3-5. While the first temple has the brazen altar, the second has the golden. Justification is an inferior state, represented by brass, which also vividly emblematizes the egotism and pomposity always characterizing carnality. Meanwhile the golden altar of the sanctum sanctorum emblematizes the pure and undefiled religion of the sanctified experience, the most valuable possession this side of heaven, fitly illustrated by the gold in contradistinction to the brass. Not only is the altar gold, but the ark of the covenant is covered with gold and the manna pot is pure gold. Hence we see entire sanctification is significantly and pre-eminently a pure gold experience. The sanctum sanctorum was lined internally with coal black badger skins throughout, having neither doors nor windows. Hence every ray of solar light was excluded, so midday was as dark as midnight. Neither were they permitted ever to introduce an artificial light. Hence the sanctum sanctorum was dependent entirely upon the light of the shekinah, which was the ineffable glory of the divine presence. While the outer temple is dependent on human agency to come and light the candles to drive away the darkness, the inner court is not only independent of all human agency, but independent of the sun, moon and stars. Pursuant to this forcible analogy, the justified Christian is dependent on his pastor to come round and give him light, while the sanctified are independent, not only of all human agency but of all natural resources. He has the glorious Sun of Righteousness shining in his soul night and day. He is no longer dependent on the nightly fall of manna in the wilderness which bred worms in twenty-four hours, so he could not eat it; but he has an ample supply in the golden pot, always sweet, delicious and pre-eminently nutritious, just ready ad libitum to take a mess. Besides, Aaron’s rod, evergreen, flourishing, budding, blooming and laden with fruits, growing, mature, delicious and fragrant, is constantly before his eyes, inviting him to eat and be filled. Reader, are you in the sanctum sanctorum, illuminated by the glorious heavenly light of the shekinah, giving you perennial noonday in your soul, feasting on the delicious manna in the golden pot, always sweet and fresh, eating the luscious, ripe fruits and beholding the blooming flowers of Aaron ‘ budding rod, cheered by the angelic presence of the glorified cherubim and blessed with the perpetual presence of the mercy- seat? If you lived in the former dispensation, encumbered by the Levitical law, you might apologize. But since God, with His own hand, rent the vail from top to bottom when its great Antitype was lacerated by the Roman spear, so you have nothing to do but shove it aside with the hand of faith, walk in, and forever abide amid the unearthly glories of the sanctum sanctorum, you certainly are left without excuse.

6, 7. The Greek says the high priest offered sacrifice for the sins of ignorance, i. e., the infirmities of the people. There are three kinds of sins, i.e. actual, original and sins of ignorance, or in Wesleyan theology infirmities. Justification saves us from actual sins; sanctification, from original sins, and glorification, from infirmities or sins of ignorance. When our Savior was interviewed in reference to the woman who survived her seventh husband, as to whose wife she should be in the resurrection, he responded: “In the resurrection there is neither marrying nor giving in marriage, but all are as the angels of God.” The Greek is isoi anggeloi, i. e., like the angels, or equal to the angels. Hence we have from this utterance of the Savior the clear revelation that glorification confers angelic perfection. Sanctification imparts Christian perfection, which is the normal status of Gospel salvation. The man who does not enjoy Christian perfection in his own experience is still under the law, living in the dispensation of Moses. Christian perfection, i. e., entire sanctification, prepares us to live a holy life, glorify God in the salvation of others, and enjoy a heavenly prelibation in this world. Glorification which the Holy Ghost confers the moment the soul evacuates the body, sweeps away all the infirmities incident to the soul through the media of the mortal body and fallen mind, conferring on us angelic perfection, with which we leave this world and enter heaven, to live among the angels, like them forever free from the mistakes, blunders, infirmities and failures incident to probation.

8-10. In these verses Apollos certifies the typical character of these Judaic institutions and their consequent incompetency “to make the worshiper perfect as to his conscience.” We are all ready to bear witness to the testimony of Apollos and the Holy Ghost here given. I preached fifteen years in the typical dispensation, all the time striving and aspiring to perfection of conscience, but never reaching it. I exhausted the types, shadows, ordinances, humanisms and legalisms, finally to give up in utter desperation. When, twenty-eight years ago, I bade adieu to all human, ritualistic and legislative agencies, and turned over the momentous problem of perfection of conscience to the Omnipotent Savior, victory came to stay. Early in this legalistic period of my Christian experience, I came to the conclusion that baby sprinkling was not water enough. Consequently I prevailed on a Methodist preacher, who has long been playing on his golden harp, to immerse me deep in Pitman’s Creek. I did not receive it for the remission of sins, for I had been gloriously converted and at that time enjoyed the witness of the Spirit to my acceptance with God. I was in a terrible conflict with inbred sin, on which, in the silence of the pulpit, I was groping in darkness. Hence I ignorantly received immersion as a sanctifier. To my unutterable disappointment I found the change only physical, i. e., from dry to wet. I found the devil amphibious, like his symbol the snake, competent to live in water as well as on the land. So I am a living witness, along with Apollos, to the utter incompetency of all humanism and all legalism “to make perfect the worshiper as to his conscience.” Millions of people are wearing themselves out in church work of all sorts, vainly aspiring to a perfect conscience, which they will never receive on that line, as Paul well says, “Though I give all my goods to feed the poor, and give my body to be burned, without perfect love I am nothing.” It is lamentable to contemplate the wholesale delusion this day enslaving the popular churches with the vain aspiration, by good works, noble enterprises, fine church edifices, big organs and eloquent sermons, “to make the worshiper perfect as to his conscience.” It is nonsense in the extreme. Perfection can not possibly come in that way. It is the work of the Omnipotent Perfector, through faith. “Washings,” in the tenth verse, is baptisms in the Greek. Amid the multitudinous typical institutions of the Levitical economy, the watery ablutions and bloody sacrifices stood pre-eminent, the former representing the Holy Ghost and the latter the Christ, and both almost infinitesimal in quantity and quality. In ways innumerable the Jews contracted ceremonial defilement incidentally, accidentally and necessarily, which could only be removed by the application of the catharistic ablutions, which were prepared by dropping the blood of the red heifer into water, or more generally as a matter of convenience some of the ashes of the red heifer which had been slaughtered, burned and carefully kept convenient for all demands. “Ordinance of the flesh appointed till the time of restitution.” These innumerable watery catharisms expurgatory of ceremonial defilement, along with the innumerable bloody sacrifices being fulfilled on the cross of Calvary and in the upper room on Mt. Zion, forever became effete, the simple institution of Christian baptism surviving the one, and the eucharist the other, neither of which is essential to salvation, from the simple fact that they are both carnal ordinances, whereas we are living in the spiritual dispensation.

11, 12. Whereas the high priest under the symbolic dispensation must enter the sanctum sanctorum every year, repeating the atonement over and over, because his work at best was only typical and transitory, Christ, our great and infallible High Priest, having offered His own body on the cross, the great Antitype, adumbrated by all the bleeding birds and beasts slain during the annals of four thousand years, ascended into the heavenly sanctuary, “having found eternal redemption.” Euramenos is the aorist participle from euriskoo. Hence it means that our Savior instantaneously found this eternal redemption when he expired on the cross. So complete and perfect is that redemption, as forever to preclude the slightest necessity for any human soul to be lost. Hence the wretched millions in hell have gone hither gratuitously, without the most remote legal necessity, the sad reminiscence of which will doubtless prove the blackest ghost to haunt and torment them through all eternity.

Verses 13-17



13, 14. The old dispensation gave prominence to materialities and the new to spiritualities. Under the former ceremonial, defilement must be sanctified from the body before they were allowed to enter the sanctuary and enjoy its privileges. We see in the thirteenth verse that the water of purification was sprinkled on the subject of ceremonial defilement. It is called the sanctifying of the flesh, and typifies the sprinkling of the blood upon the polluted conscience by the Holy Ghost. The effect of the blood of Christ sprinkled on the polluted conscience by the Holy Ghost is to sanctify it from dead works to serve the living God. The phrase “dead works” has a double meaning in the Scriptures. When it applies to sinners, it means wicked works producing spiritual death. When it applies to Christians, as in this passage, it simply means our religious works devoid of the Holy Ghost, the only vitalizer. The great trouble of unsanctified Christians is that they are forever doing dead works which do not know the Holy Ghost. They are frequently indefatigable church workers, e.g., in Sunday-school, prayer-meeting, and the innumerable ecclesiastical societies and institutions. But the great trouble with them is that all their works are dead. They sing dead songs, pray dead prayers, deliver dead testimonies and exhortations, preach dead sermons and conduct dead protracted meetings, thus losing their time and labor, as the people are not profited, neither is God glorified by all their arduous labors. The sanctification of their hearts by the precious blood of Jesus at once takes the graveyard wail out of their voices and floods them with hallelujahs, makes life a constant sunshine, and all duty transcendently delectable.

15-17. In these verses we have the words “testament” and “ testator.” The Greek is the same word, diatheekee, covenant. It means the covenant of the world’s redemption through Christ. Since it is the most prominent institution in the Bible, it has given name to that wonderful book, Old and New Testament, or, as it should read, Old and New Covenant. Really there is but one covenant involving the world’s redemption, and that was inaugurated by the Son of God when He espoused the cause of lost humanity about the time of the fall. The old covenant was superadded in the days of Moses for didactic purposes. It is called old because it is reminiscent of the probationary covenant forfeited in Eden. A prominent and peculiar phase of the great redemptive scheme is involved in these verses, and that is the will peculiarity of the covenant. A will is neither irrevocable nor finally valid till after the death of the testator, from the simple fact that it is optionary with the testator during his life to revoke or cancel it ad libitum. Now, let us see the application of this fact to the covenant of redemption. While the Father gave the wondrous plan, the Son freely volunteered in its vicarious execution. He said, “No man taketh my life from me, but I lay down my life for the sheep.” Hence it was perfectly optionary with Jesus till the very arrival of Calvary’s bloody tragedy. Of course. in case that He had declined to lay down His life for the world the plan of salvation must have hopelessly collapsed. Hence in the very nature of the transaction the covenant was not finally and irrevocably valid till sealed by the blood of the covenant. Hence the plan of salvation under the old dispensation was essentially initial and incomplete, issuing bills of pardon, redeemable by the blood of the great Archetype, typified by millions of dying animals. This explains the pertinency of the Intermediate Paradise, Abraham’s bosom the receptacle of the Old Testament saints till the redemption of Calvary. See 1 Peter 3:18.

Verses 19-23



19-22. Here we learn that Moses sprinkled the tabernacle, the Pentateuch, and all the people assembled at the tabernacle door, with water tinged with blood, upon the ratification of the Sinai covenant and the dedication of the tabernacle in the wilderness. Washings in Hebrews 9:10 is baptisms in the Greek. In Hebrews 9:13 it is said they were performed by sprinkling the bloody water on the bodies of the people for the sanctification of their flesh from ceremonial pollution. In Hebrews 9:19 the Holy Spirit says Moses sprinkled all the people, i. e., three millions, at the tabernacle door in the use of hyssop and scarlet wool, by which he sprinkled the bloody water on the people and the tabernacle. If you want a case of Scriptural baptism by sprinkling you have it here on a grand scale. When Moses sprinkled three millions of people at the tabernacle door, the Holy Spirit says he baptized them (Hebrews 9:10). I am no stickler on water baptism. I care nothing about modes. However, it is absolutely certain that they baptized by sprinkling in the days of Moses and the prophets. Water baptism in our day is an eliminated survivor of the copious catharisms peculiar to Judaism, and has nothing whatever to do with salvation. It merely typifies the baptism with the Spirit.

23. “Therefore truly it is necessary that the patterns of things in these heavens be purified, but the heavenlies themselves by greater sacrifices than these.” We have here the Greek epourania, the heavenlies, rendered emphatic by the specific pronoun auta. Now, what are these heavenlies which must be purified by greater sacrifices than the constituencies of the material kingdom, i. e., the tabernacle and the physical bodies of the people? The literal meaning of epourania is the heavenlies, and simply means our immortal spirits, which become heavenly by virtue of this wonderful purification, and are destined to live in heaven forever, associated eternally with celestial entities. Now you are prepared to appreciate this beautiful argument given by the inspired Apollos. Just as it was absolutely necessary under the Mosaic law that the bodies of the people should be sprinkled, i. e., baptized with water and animal blood before they were allowed to enter the visible tabernacle and enjoy its privileges, even so is it pre-eminently essential that our immortal spirits shall be baptized, i. e., sanctified by the Holy Ghost, typified by the water which Moses sprinkled on the people, and the blood of Jesus symbolized by the animal blood, with which Moses sprinkled the people. Here you see the beautiful and powerful analogy between the type and the antitype, the physical and the spiritual, the earthly and the heavenly, Moses and Christ, the water and the Holy Ghost, the blood of bulls and goats and the blood of Jesus. We are fortunate to live in the spiritual dispensation, after the evanescence of all the types and shadows, and the glorious sunburst of the long anticipated Antitype on the world.

Verses 24-28



24-26. These verses vividly recapitulate the wonderful work of Christ contrastively with the Aaronic high priest, who was under the necessity of annual repetition while the Son of God by one offering at the end of the ages has manifested Himself to the world and all other worlds in the complete expiation of sin out of the universe, by the sacrifice of Himself. This argument stands purely on the human hemisphere of the Christhood. The whole Bible is simply the biography of Christ; the Old Testament that of Christ excarnate, and the New Testament that of Christ incarnate. The entire Apostolic Church, without a dissenting voice, remained orthodox in the Cliristhood, constantly anticipating His personal return and millennial kingdom, down to the Constantinian apostasy; after which heresy and defection, relative to the coming kingdom, began to creep in. The theological world at present exhibits a medley of irreconcilable contradict ions relative to the Christhood, sweeping throughout the entire arc, from the radical heresy of the soul-sleeper on the one side, repudiating all spirituality, to the ultimathule or Swedenborgianism on the other side, ignoring utterly the literal Christhood, even to the repudiation of physical resurrection. We have need to come back to first principles, taking the Bible as it is, losing sight of creeds and accepting the magnificent globe of perfect, consistent, revealed truth, delineating and expounding the Christhood, in His unutterable grandeur and glory, both human and divine. Of course the divine Christ has never left this world, but in His condescending mercy has stayed with us, pursuant to the promise He made to His faithful disciples while preaching the Gospel to all nations: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the age.” But the glorified Man-Christ ascended up from Mt. Olivet and sat on the mediatorial throne at God’s right hand. He will certainly, pursuant to His promise, ride down on the throne of His glory, set up His kingdom on the earth and reign a thousand years. The statement, “end of the world,” in Hebrews 9:26, should read “end of the ages.” The Edenic, antediluvian, patriarchal, Mosaic and Judaic ages had come and gone and the Gentile age, the last of all to precede the millennial kingdom, had culminated when Jesus came on the earth; Augustus Caesar, a Gentile monarch, sitting on the throne of the world, his crown radiant with the rays of an unsetting sun, and his scepter sweeping the circumference of the earth. Matthew 24:3. “End of the world,” and other similar statements, which should read “end of the age,” have given prominence to the popular dogma that this world is going to be blotted out of existence. It will certainly at the end of time be sanctified by fire, but not exterminated. On the contrary, having been thoroughly sanctified by the crematory fires, Omnipotence will resume the work of creation, make it new, transform it into a heaven and add it back to the celestial empire, to which it belonged before Satan broke it loose in view of adding it to hell. The last two chapters of the Bible describe this world after its glorious sanctification, re-creation, celestialization and re- occupancy by glorified saints and angels, here shine and shout forever, hoary Time having his ourney now superseded by the roll of eternal ages.

27, 28. “It is appointed unto men once to die.” Dying once here is antithetical to the dying of Christ on the cross, alluded to in the same sentence. Hence the emphasis is on the death of sin which must take place when Adam the first in our hearts is nailed to he cross, like Adam the Second when He bled and died for a guilty world. Just as the death of Christ on the cross gave Him the victor’s wreath and the monarch’s crown, and seated Him on the throne of His glory to reign forever, so the death of Adam the first in the human heart, which consummates entire sanctification, gives us the victory over the world, the flesh and the devil, and crowns us king in Zion forever. In regeneration, Christ comes into the heart the first time homogeneously with his first advent into the world. In sanctification, He comes into the heart the second tune homogeneously with His coming into the world the second time to sit on the throne of His glory and reign forever. He came the first time to suffer and to die for the sins of the world. He will come the second time to conquer and to reign forever. All the truly sanctified who have received His second coming in their experiences are ready, watching and waiting for Him to come on the earth the second time. The great reason why the preachers and church members are not looking for Jesus to come the second time is because they are not ready to receive Him, neither will they ever be ready till they receive Him into their hearts as their Sanctifier in a second work of grace. There is perfect harmony between the two hemispheres of the Christhood, i. e., the spiritual and the literal. The coming of the spiritual Christ into the heart is necessary to prepare us for the reception of the glorified Man Jesus. Nothing but entire sanctification, which is wrought by the spiritual Christ in His second coming into the heart, can prepare us to meet our glorious coming King. The unsanctified preachers are not preaching on the Lord’s second coming from the simple fact that they are not ready for Him. For this reason the Church gave up the expectancy of her coming Lord and His glorious earthly kingdom, when she apostatized from the glorious doctrine and triumphant experience of entire sanctification.

Bibliographical Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Hebrews 9". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ges/hebrews-9.html.
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