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Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 9

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


The first covenant. To show that it was both right and proper that the Law or Moses and the Jewish priesthood were terminated and superseded, a contrast is made between the worship of the old and new covenants. The rules for worship were a copy or imitation of Christ’s work in heaven. The man-made place for worship was a shadow or silhouette of the true place for worship. Nothing in the Jewish worship was haphazard or meaningless. God had carefully patterned this to prefigure or show beforehand, the true worship of the Good News. Compare Hebrews 8:5 and note.

Verse 2


A tent. The original setting up of the tent and the beginning of the Jewish worship which was to continue some 1,700 years (Exodus 40:0) is used for this contrast (rather than the temple worship). The outside one. The Holy Place, where the priests served daily. The lamp. This lamp had seven arms or branches which had cups for holding oil at their ends. Wicks were floated in the oil, and lighted. Here there is one lamp with seven lamps. In Revelation 1:12 there are seven lamp-stands. The table, on which were kept twelve loaves of bread offered to God, each loaf of which contained two-fifths of a bushel of flour. See Exodus 24:3-5.

Verse 3


Behind the second curtain. The Holy Place was separated from the Most Holy Place by this second curtain. Compare Hebrews 10:20. Both of these were built and furnished exactly like the pattern which God showed to Moses. No one was permitted to enter the Most Holy Place, except the High Priest, and then only on the Day of Atonement.

Verse 4


The gold altar. Much time has been spent trying to understand why this altar is mentioned as being in the Most Holy Place. Perhaps there were two??? Certainly the Jews to whom this Letter was written understood. Incense. See Revelation 8:3-4 and notes. The box of the covenant. [Ark is an old word meaning box.] See Exodus 25:10-22. The gold Jar. Exodus 16:32-34. Aaron’s rod. Numbers 17:1-11. The two stone tablets. Deuteronomy 10:1-5. Only the two stone tablets seemed to still be in the box of the covenant when Solomon’s temple was dedicated (1 Kings 8:9). The box of the covenant disappeared when Solomon’s temple was destroyed (2 Kings 25:9).

Verse 5


Above the box. A cover over the box of the covenant, called the HILASTERION (place where sins are forgiven), was made out of one solid piece of gold and included two winged figures as part of it, facing each other over the area where the blood was sprinkled each Day of Atonement.

Verse 6


This is how. There was constant activity in the outside tent. The ordinary priests came in and out as they burned incense at the morning and evening sacrifices, in keeping the lamp in working order, in replacing the bread offered to God (the bread of the Presence). All this was still being done in Jerusalem in the temple, as this Letter was being written.

Verse 7


But only the High Priest. He alone was permitted to enter the inside tent; only once each year (Day of Atonement); with blood. He takes blood. The Expositor’s Greek Testament says: “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 [family], and finally with the blood of the goat for the sins of the people.” See Leviticus 16:11-34; Exodus 30:10-25.

Verse 8


The Holy Spirit dearly teaches. The Spirit is the author of the ritual used in the tent, and of the teaching inherent in every part of the ritual, furniture, etc. Compare 1 Peter 1:11-12. Has not yet been opened. This limited access to the Most Holy Place in the tent, showed that worship and fellowship with God were not yet open to men. While the outside tent (symbolic of the ritual and worship that was the basis of The Law) still stood as part of God’s pattern for worship, this showed that the very Presence of God was out of reach for mankind. This proves that the Law had to be superseded by something better!

Verse 9


This is a figure. To the Jewish mind, the present time meant the Age of Moses. See notes on Hebrews 2:5; Hebrews 6:5. This means that the arrangement with the outside tent blocking the way into the inside tent, was proof that the Mosaic worship could not produce union and fellowship with God. Cannot make. These things could not remove guilt from the conscience. See Acts 13:38-39.

Verse 10


They have to do only with. The ritual worship which formed the basis of the Law was only concerned with outward rules. These things apply only until the time when the New Covenant is put into effect. Remember, these Jews still thought in terms of the Law. Compare Colossians 2:20-23 and notes. When God will reform = time of the new order = the Age of Christ, which began at the Cross. See notes on Matthew 19:28; Hebrews 2:5; Hebrews 6:5.

Verse 11


But Christ has already come. “The time when God will reform all things is here already! Christ has already come! He is the High Priest of the good things (which the Law could not supply) that are already here!” This is the climax. The historical Christ is the whole turning point in God’s Plan! The tent in which he serves. See Hebrews 9:24. It is not a copy, but the real thing!!!

Verse 12


When Christ. The Aaronic high priest went through the outside tent into the Most Holy Place, taking the blood of goats and calves, and made atonement for one more year. Jesus went into the Most Holy Place once and for all, with his own blood, and eternal salvation is the result! He does not need to offer himself a second time!

Verse 13


The blood. This is the way people were made clean by the Aaronic priesthood. Continual sacrifices were offered to God by his direction in the Law. These came to a climax in the Day of Atonement. Blood, symbolic of both death and life (Leviticus 17:11), was very important in the ritual of the Law (Hebrews 9:22).

Verse 14


By the blood of Christ! “If the blood of animals takes away ritual impurity, how much more will be accomplished by the blood of God’s Son!!!” Through the eternal Spirit. MacKnight says: “Christ is said to have offered himself through the eternal Spirit, because he was raised from the dead by the Spirit, 1 Peter 3:18; consequently he was enabled by the Spirit to offer himself to God; that is, to present his crucified body before the throne of God in heaven.” See note on Hebrews 7:25. Our consciences clean. “Those under the Law could not lose their sense of guilt and their fear of punishment. But the blood of Christ will take away guilt and fear, so that we may be free to serve the living God!”

Verse 15


For this reason. “Because the blood of Christ is so much greater than the blood of animals.” Christ is the one. “He is the High Priest who hands out the blessings of the New Covenant; and the sacrifice who makes the New Covenant possible by his bloody death!” See Hebrews 8:6-8 and notes. May receive. Does this mean that Abraham, Isaac, etc., were still under the sentence of “sin and death” until God acted in Christ??? No, but their forgiveness was based upon what Christ would do. God’s mercy, all the way from extending the life of guilty Adam, to the end of time itself, is based upon the ONE ACT in Christ!!! A death which sets men free. “All the animals who died on Jewish altars could not set men free. The death of God’s Son does set men free!!!” Compare Hebrews 11:39-40.

Verse 16


Where there is a will. The same Greek word means both covenant and will. Now the explanation shifts to the probation of a will. “To show why Christ had to die to make the New Covenant possible, I remind you that a will does not go into effect until the man who made it dies.”

Verse 17


For a will means nothing. “During a man’s lifetime, he may do as he pleases with his will, because it is not valid. His death is necessary for it to go into effect, just as an animal must die on the altar to become a sacrifice to God.”

Verse 18


Was made good only. “From the beginning, God made good his covenant by the death of a sacrifice. Blood, of course, is a symbol of death.”

Verse 19


First, Moses. This explains how the first covenant was made good with blood. Moses read the commandments (Exodus 24:3-8), and used scarlet wool tied on branches of hyssop to sprinkle the mixture of blood and water on the book of the Law and all the people.

Verse 20


This is the blood. The blood ratified the covenant. Note that this covenant contained the Ten Commandments, and was the old covenant which was superseded by the New Covenant of Christ. [The tent for worship was not completed until about a year later.]

Verse 21


In the same way. These things also were ratified and dedicated to God by the use of blood.

Verse 22


Almost everything. A few things were made clean by water, a few by fire, and a few with the ashes of the burnt calf (red heifer). But in general, it was blood which was used. And sins are forgiven. Jews understood this. The animal dying on the altar represented forgiveness which was imputed to the one for whom the sacrifice was offered.

Verse 23


These things. The tent, all the things used in worship, and all the priests themselves. But the heavenly things. Animal sacrifices are not good enough to make clean the heavenly things. This means that God would not admit sinners into the heavenly world by anything less than the blood of his Son!!!

Verse 24


For Christ. Christ did not offer his crucified body in the holy place of human construction. He went into heaven itself. There in the presence of God himself, Jesus pleads for us! The High Priest does this in the earthly tent, but only in imitation of what Jesus alone can do in heaven.

Verse 25


The Jewish High Priest. He must go in each year with the blood of an animal. But Christ. Though it was necessary for Christ to open heaven to us by the sacrifice of himself, he did not need to offer himself many times.

Verse 26


For then. He would have had to die many times since the beginning of creation. Instead. Rather than dying many times, he appeared once and for all! There is no need to go back to the many sacrifices of the Law!!! What Jesus did is complete and has no need to be repeated again and again!!! When all ages of time. This means that Christ’s sacrifice is independent of time and valid as a single act!!! If there was to be ONE sacrifice for all ages of time, then the ages end at that event. This is the completion of God’s Plan to put men right with himself.

Verse 27


Everyone must die once. Man dies only once, and the next thing for him is the judgment. [This makes the idea of reincarnation impossible.] Christ dies only once, and the next thing for him is the Second Coming.

Verse 28


Once to take away. He died only ONCE to buy men for God (Revelation 5:9). But to save those. See Philippians 3:20-21; 1 John 3:1-3; 2 Timothy 4:8.

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Hebrews 9". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/hebrews-9.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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