Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 8

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

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Verses 1-13

Hebrews 8:1-6 . Of the things which we have spoken, this is the sum. Paul here recapitulates, for so the grandeur of his arguments required, and he does not do it in a dry and barren manner, but with rich illustrations. As this is a good way of concluding sermons full of doctrine, preachers may here take the hint from Paul. The heads are, the installation of Christ into the mediatorial throne in heaven. He is minister now of the true tabernacle, the church which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. The tabernacle of Moses was not the folly of some ingenious architect, but was made after the pattern shown him in the mount. It had three grand divisions; the outward court for all nations, the inner court for the circumcised, and the holy of holies, a figure of heaven. It had also the laver, the altar, the table of incense, the holy fire, and the shewbread; figures highly expressive of better things, as stated in the next chapter.

Had the Redeemer been on earth, he could not have officiated in the temple, not being of Aaron’s race. Therefore his temple is in the heavens, the equal, the catholic temple of all nations; judaism now exists no more. The Messiah creates new heavens, and a new earth. He creates Jerusalem a joy of many generations. The prophet, full of the gospel glory, cries, Zion, arise and shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. The multitude of the gentile host shall come to thee, and the sons of strangers shall build thy walls.

Paul demonstrates the certainty of those things, because by Moses they are given under the form of a covenant, the circumcision of the heart; and a new covenant, full of grace and full of glory. See more on Jeremiah 31:0. and Deuteronomy 28:29.

Hebrews 8:8-10 . I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and Judah I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts. The apostle quotes this passage from Jeremiah 31:33, to show that the jewish dispensation was waxen old, was intended to be superseded by the gospel, and that therefore the disposition of the believing jews to relapse into judaism was highly unreasonable, and altogether inconsistent with the language of their own prophets. The covenant made at Sinai they had broken, as was obscurely intimated by Moses’s breaking the tables of the law at the foot of the mount; they had wholly violated that covenant by the introduction of idolatry, first into the kingdom of Israel, and afterwards of Judah, and the Lord regarded them not, but sent them into captivity in Assyria and in Babylon. Now he will make a new covenant with his believing people, whether jews or gentiles, rounded on better promises, confirmed with an oath, and in the hands of an alsufficient Mediator, who ever lives to see it carried into full effect.

The former covenant was written on tables of stone, which were put into the ark of the testimony; now saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts. Not any new law, to supersede or abrogate the old, for that can never be made void, but the same law as was at first impressed upon the heart of man, when created in righteousness and true holiness, a re├»mpression of that which is a transcript of the divine perfections, or the restoration of man to the moral likeness of God. This image was defaced by sin, and another law entered into the members, warring against the law of the mind, which is become carnal, and wholly at enmity with God. Romans 8:7. Regeneration consists in restoring this image, and re├źngraving this law upon the heart.

The effect of this gracious change is a knowledge of God’s righteousness, of the equity of his requirements, and a desire to do his will. Isaiah 51:7. The heart becomes the ark in which the tables of the law are deposited; there is now a conviction of its purity, extent, and spirituality, and a delighting in it after the inner man. Obedience is not rendered merely on the ground of its authority, but also from a perception of the excellency of its requirements, its congeniality with the predominant feelings of the mind, and the happiness found in a conformity to its precepts. To be like God is now the ruling passion, and an entire exemption from sin the ultimate object of the believer’s hope.


The new covenant, being the grand charter of the christian hope, and the inventory of our privileges, merits a serious revision, because it is a covenant on which providence has acted in regard to the jews, and a covenant realized to the christian church in the first planting of the gospel. These are facts which confirm our confidence and our hope.

This new covenant has a Mediator, and a Priest far superior to the leviticum of the jews, which demonstrate that the covenant of Sinai is disannulled and abrogated. It is a new testament, put in full force by the death of the Testator. It is a covenant of peace, which shall subsist when the mountains and the hills are removed. Isaiah 54:10. it is a covenant of righteousness and life, eclipsing the glory of the old dispensation, as much as the light of the sun eclipses the dawning of the day. In a word, it is a covenant of perfection, giving a consummation to the successive covenants renewed with Noah, with Abraham, and with the Hebrews.

This covenant is equally the magna charta of the jewish nation and the gentile world. The Father says, I will give thee for a covenant to the people and nations that know thee not shall run unto thee; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. It removes the stony heart, and leaves the law of love inscribed on the inward parts. It gives adoption and glory, and makes us heirs of an eternal inheritance.

If such be the glory of the covenant, is it not lamentable, that our church dignitaries and our presbyterians should contend, that neither pardon nor eternal life were clearly promised under the law? And that the author of the divine legation of Moses should make those points his favourite theme; and that Moses, when he said of the precepts, “he that doeth them shall live in them,” Leviticus 18:5, promised no more to man, and the best of men, than he did to the beasts? If so, the prophet was not wise to turn and repeat this promise to the jews, saying that the Lord gave them his statutes, which if a man did he should even live in them. Ezekiel 20:11. If so, our Saviour also was doubly in error to promise life to obedience, both to the young ruler, and likewise to the lawyer. “This do, and thou shalt live.” To whom, Lord, shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Hebrews 8". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.