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Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 8

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

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Verse 1

Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;

The sum, [ kefalaion (G2774)] - 'the principal point;' the participle is present, not past, which would be required for the English version. 'The chief point in ("in the case of" [ epi (G1909)]: so Hebrews 9:10; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 9:17) the things which are being spoken.

Such - so transcendently pre-eminent; namely, in that "He is set on the right hand of," etc. Infinitely above all other priests in this one grand respect, He exercises His priesthood IN HEAVEN, not in the earthly 'holiest place.' The Levitical high priests, even when they entered the holiest once a year, only STOOD for a brief space before the symbol of God's throne; but Jesus SITS on the throne of the Divine Majesty in the heaven itself, and this forever (Hebrews 10:11-12).

Verse 2

A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

Minister, [ leitourgos (G3011)] - implies priestly ministry in the temple; the sanctuary, [ ton (G3588) hagion (G39)] - 'the holy places:' the heavenly Holy of holies.

The true - the archetypal and antitypical contrasted with the typical and symbolical (Hebrews 9:24). [ Aleethinos (G228) is opposed to that which does not fulfill its idea; for instance, a type; alethes, to that which is untrue, as a lie. The measure of aleethees (G227) is reality; that of aleethinos (G228), ideality. In aleethees (G227) the idea corresponds to the thing; in aleethinos (G228), the thing to the idea (Kahnis in Alford).]

Tabernacle (Hebrews 9:11). Through His glorified body as the "tabernacle," Christ passes into the heavenly "Holy of holies," the immediate presence of God, where He intercedes for us. This tabernacle in which God dwells is where God in Christ meets us who are "members of His body." This tabernacle answers to the heavenly Jerusalem, where God's visible presence is to be manifested to His perfected saints and angels, united in Christ the Head; in contradistinction to His invisible presence in the Holy of holies, unapproachable except to Christ. John 1:14, "Word ... dwelt among us" [eskeenosen]: 'tabernacled.'

Pitched, [ epeexen (G4078)] - 'fixed' firmly.

Not man - as Moses (Hebrews 8:5).

Verse 3

For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.

For - Reason for calling Him "minister of the sanctuary" (Hebrews 8:2).

Somewhat. He does not offer again His once for all completed sacrifice. But as the high priest did not enter the holy place without blood, so Christ has entered the heavenly Holy place with His own blood, as the oblation which He has to offer before God. That "blood of sprinkling" is in heaven; and is thence made effectual to sprinkle believers as the end of their election (1 Peter 1:2). 'Consecrate' as a priest, is literally to fill the hand, implying that an offering is given into the priest's hands, which he is to present to God.

Verse 4

For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:

Christ's priestly office is exercised in heaven, not earth; in the power of His resurrection life, not His earthly life.

For. 'Aleph (') A B Delta read [ men (G3303) oun (G3767)] 'accordingly then.'

If ... - `if He were on earth He would not even [ oude (G3761)] be a priest' (cf. Hebrews 7:13-14); therefore, certainly, could not exercise the high priest's function in the earthly Holy of holies.

Seeing that there are - now (the temple service not yet being set aside, as it was on the destruction of Jerusalem) 'those ('Aleph (') A B Delta, Vulgate, omit "priests") who offer the (appointed) gifts [ ta (G3588) doora (G1435)] according to the law.' Therefore, His sacerdotal 'ministry' must be "in the heavens," not on earth (Hebrews 8:1). I conceive that the denial of Christ's priesthood on earth does not extend to the sacrifice on the cross, which He offered as a priest on earth; but only to the crowning work of His priesthood-the bringing of the blood into the Holy of holies, which He could not have done in the earthly Holy of holies, not being an Aaronic priest. The place (the heavenly Holy of holies) was as essential to the atonement as the oblation (the blood). The body was burnt without the gate; but the sanctification was effected by the high priest presenting the blood within the sanctuary. If on earth He would not be a priest in the sense of the law of Moses ("according to the law").

Verse 5

Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.

Who, [ hoitines (G3748)] - Being persons who.

Serve unto the example - not 'after the example,' as Bengel; but as Hebrews 13:10, 'serve (the tabernacle, which is but) the outline and shadow.' [ Hupodeigmati (G5262), "example," is the sketch or suggestive representation of the heavenly sanctuary-the antitypical reality and primary archetype.] "The mount" answers to heaven, Hebrews 12:22.

Admonished, [ kechreematistai (G5537)] - expresses divine responses and commands.

To make, [ epitelein (G2005)] - perfectly. See - Accurately observe, that thou mayest make, etc.

Saith he - God.

The pattern, [ tupon (G5179)] - An accurate representation, in vision to Moses, of the heavenly sanctuary. The earthly tabernacle was copy of a copy, which accurately represented the grand archetypal original in heaven (Exodus 25:40).

Verse 6

But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

Now - not time; 'as it is.'

More excellent ministry - than any earthly.

By how much, [ hosoo (G3745)] - in proportion as.

Mediator - coming between us and God, to carry into effect God's covenant with us. "The messenger (angel) of the covenant."

Which, [ heetis (G3748)] - as being one which, etc.

Established, [ nenomotheteetai (G3549)] - 'has been enacted as a law.' So Romans 3:27; Romans 8:2; Romans 9:31, apply "law" to the Gospel covenant. For the Gospel is founded on the law, in spirit and essence.

Upon - resting upon.

Better promises (Hebrews 8:10-11). The Old Testament promises were mainly of earthly, the New Testament of heavenly blessings: the exact fulfillment of the earthly was a pledge of the fulfillment of the heavenly. 'Like a physician who prescribes a certain diet, and then, when the patient is beginning to recover, changes it, permitting what he before forbade; or as a teacher gives his pupil an elementary lesson, preparatory to leading him to a higher stage:' so Rabbi Albo, in 'Ikkarim.' Jeremiah 7:21-22 shows that God's design in the old covenant ritual was that it should be pedagogical, as a schoolmaster preparing for Christ.

Verse 7

For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.

Same reasonings as in Hebrews 7:11.

Faultless - perfect in its parts, so as not to be found fault with as wanting anything which ought to be there: answering all purposes of a law. The law in its morality was blameless [ amoomos (G299)]; but in saving us defective, and so not faultless [ amemptos (G273)].

Should no place have been sought - as it has to be now, and as it is in the prophecy, Hebrews 8:8-11. The old covenant would have anticipated all man's wants, so as to give no occasion for seeking something more perfectly adequate. Compare on "place ... sought," Hebrews 12:17,

Verse 8

For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

Finding fault with them - the people of the old covenant not made "faultless" by it (Hebrews 8:7); whose disregard of God's covenant made Him to 'regard them not' (Hebrews 8:9). The law is not in itself blamed, but the people who observed it not.

He saith (Jeremiah 31:31-34: cf. Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:25-27). At Rama, the headquarters of Nebuzaradan, where the captives of Jerusalem had been led, Jeremiah uttered this prophecy of Israel's restoration under another David, whereby Rachel, wailing for her lost children, shall be comforted: in part fulfilled at the restoration under Zerubbabel: more fully to be hereafter at Israel's return to their own land; spiritually fulfilled in the Gospel, whereby God forgives absolutely His people's sins and writes His law, by His Spirit, on the hearts of believers-the true Israel. 'This prophecy forms the third part of the third trilogy of the three great trilogies into which Jeremiah's prophecies may be divided: Jeremiah 21:1-14; Jeremiah 22:1-30; Jeremiah 23:1-40; Jeremiah 24:1-10; Jeremiah 25:1-38, against the shepherds of the people; Jeremiah 26:1-24; Jeremiah 27:1-22; Jeremiah 28:1-17; Jeremiah 29:1-32, against the false prophets; Jeremiah 30:1-24; Jeremiah 31:1-40, the book of restoration' (Delitzsch in Alford).

Behold, the days come - the formula introducing a Messianic prophecy.

Make, [ suntelesoo (G4931)] - 'perfect,' 'consummate.' Appropriate to the new covenant which perfected what the old could not (cf. end of Hebrews 8:9 with end of Hebrews 8:10).

Israel ... Judah - therefore, the ten tribes, as well as Judah, share in the new covenant. As both shared the exile, so both shall share the literal and spiritual restoration.

Verse 9

Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

Not according to - Very different from, and far superior to, the old covenant, which only 'worked wrath' (Romans 4:15) through man's 'not regarding' it. The new covenant enables us to obey, by the Spirit's impulse producing love because of the forgiveness of our sins.

Made with - Greek, 'to:' the Israelites being only recipients, not co-agents (Alford) with God. [ Diatheekee (G1242) does not, like 'covenant,' suntheekee (G4936), imply reciprocity: but a legal disposition, dispensation, the gift of God to man; not a compact between God and man.]

I took them by the hand - as a father takes his child to support and guide his steps. 'There are three periods:

(1) That of the promise;

(2) Of pedagogical instruction;

(3) Of fulfillment' (Bengel).

The second, the pedagogical pupilage, began at the exodus.

I regarded them not. The English version (Jeremiah 31:32) translates, "although I was an husband into them." Paul's translation here is supported by the Septuagint, Syriac, and Gesenius, and accords with the kindred Arabic. The Hebrews regarded not God: so God, in righteous retribution, regarded them not. Schelling observes-The law was in fact the mere ideal of a religious constitution: in practice the Jews were throughout, before the captivity, more or less polytheists, except under David, and the first years of Solomon (the type of Messiah's reign). After the return from Babylon to idolatry there succeeded what was not much better, formalism and hypocrisy (Matthew 12:43). The law was --

(1) A typical picture, tracing out the features of the glorious Gospel to be revealed;

(2) It had a delegated virtue from the Gospel, which ceased when, the Gospel came.

Verse 10

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

Make with - `make unto.' Israel - comprising the before disunited (Hebrews 8:8) ten-tribes kingdom and that of Judah. They are united in the spiritual Israel, the elect Church now: they shall be so in the literal restored kingdom of Israel to come.

I will put, [ didous (G1325)] - '(I) giving.' This is the first of the "better promises" (Hebrews 8:6).

Mind - their, intelligent faculty.

In, [ epi (G1909)] - 'ON their hearts.' Not on tables of atone, as the law (2 Corinthians 3:3).

Write, [ epigrapsoo (G1924)] - 'inscribe.'

I will be to them [ eis (G1519 ) Theon (G2316 ), Hebrews 1:5 : for] a God, ... Fulfilled first in the outward kingdom (Leviticus 26:12); next, in the inward Gospel kingdom (2 Corinthians 6:16); thirdly, in the kingdom at once outward and inward, the spiritual being manifested outwardly (Revelation 21:3). Compare a similar progression as to the priesthood:

(1) Exodus 19:6;

(2) 1 Peter 2:5;

(3) Isaiah 61:6; Revelation 1:6.

This progressive advance in the significance of the Old Testament institutions, etc. (Tholuck), shows the transparency and prophetic character throughout the whole.

Verse 11

And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

Second, of the "better promises" (Hebrews 8:6).

They shall not - `have to teach.'

His neighbour. So Vulgate [ pleesion (G4139)]. But 'Aleph (') A B Delta f [ politeen (G4177)], 'his (fellow) citizen.'

Brother - a closer and more endearing relation than fellow-citizen.

From the least to the greatest - Greek, 'from the little one to the great one' (Zechariah 12:8). Under the old covenant, the priest's lips were to keep knowledge; at his mouth the people were to seek the law; under the new, the Holy Spirit teaches every believer. Not that the mutual teaching of brethren is excluded while the covenant is being promulgated; but when once the Holy Spirit shall have imparted remission of their sins and inward sanctification, there shall be no further need of man teaching his fellowman. Compare 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:1: an earnest of that perfect state. On the way to it every man should teach his neighbour. 'The teaching is not hard, because grace renders all teachable; for it is not the ministry of the letter, but of the spirit (2 Corinthians 3:6). The believer's stedfastness does not depend on authority of human teachers. God Himself teaches' (Bengel), The New Testament is shorter than the Old, because, instead of letter details, it gives the all-embracing principles of the spiritual law written on the conscience, leading to instinctive obedience in outward details. None except the Lord can teach effectually. "Know the Lord."

Verse 12

For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

For ... - The third of "the better promises" (Hebrews 8:6). Forgiveness of sins is the root of this new state of inward knowledge of the Lord. Sin being abolished, sinners obtain grace.

I will be merciful, [ hileoos (G2436)] - propitious; the Hebrew caalach (H5545) is always used to God only in relation to men.

And their iniquities. So A Delta f. Not in B 'Aleph ('), Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic (perhaps from Hebrews 10:17).

Remember no more - contrast the law (Hebrews 10:3).

Verse 13

In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

He - God.

Made the first old (at the time of speaking the prophecy) - 'antiquated the first covenant.' From the time of God's mention of a NEW covenant (since God's words are all realities) the first covenant was ever dwindling away, until its complete abolition on the introduction of the Gospel. Both cannot exist side by side. Verbal inspiration is proved in Paul's argument turning wholly on the one word "NEW," which occurs but once in the Old Testament.

That which decayeth, [ to (G3588) palaioumenon (G3822)] - 'that which is being antiquated:' growing out of date (at the time when Jeremiah spake). Waxeth old, [ geeraskon (G1095)] - with senile decrepitude. For in Paul's time the new had set aside the old covenant. [ Kainee (G2537)] New (Testament) implies that it is of a different kind, and supersedes the old: not merely recent [nea] (cf. Hosea 3:4-5).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Hebrews 8". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/hebrews-8.html. 1871-8.
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