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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Hebrews 8

Verse 1

In the things which we are saying (επ τοις λεγομενοις). Locative case of the articular present passive participle of λεγω after επ as in Luke 5:5; Hebrews 11:4, "in the matter of the things being discussed."

The chief point (κεφαλαιον). Neuter singular of the adjective κεφαλαιος (from κεφαλη, head), belonging to the head. Vulgate capitulum, nominative absolute in old and common sense, the main matter (even so without the article as in Thucydides), "the pith" (Coverdale), common in the papyri as in Greek literature. The word also occurs in the sense of the sum total or a sum of money (Acts 22:28) as in Plutarch, Josephus, and also in the papyri (Moulton and Milligan's Vocabulary).

Such an high priest (τοιουτον αρχιερεα). As the one described in chapters Hebrews 4:16-58.4.7 and in particular Hebrews 7:26 (τοιουτος) Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 7:28. But the discussion of the priestly work of Jesus continues through Hebrews 12:3. Τοιουτος is both retrospective and prospective. Here we have a summary of the five points of superiority of Jesus as high priest (Hebrews 8:1-58.8.6). He is himself a better priest than Aaron (τοιουτος in Hebrews 8:1 such as shown in Hebrews 4:16-58.4.7); he works in a better sanctuary (Hebrews 8:2; Hebrews 8:5); he offers a better sacrifice (Hebrews 8:3); he is mediator of a better covenant (Hebrews 8:6); his work rests on better promises (Hebrews 8:6); hence he has obtained a better ministry as a whole (Hebrews 8:6). In this resume (κεφελαιον) the author gives the pith (κεφαλαιον) of his argument, curiously enough with both senses of κεφαλαιον (pith, summary) pertinent. He will discuss the four points remaining thus: (1) the better covenant, Hebrews 8:7-58.8.13. (2) The better sanctuary, Hebrews 9:1-58.9.12. (3) The better sacrifice, Hebrews 9:13-58.9.10. (4) The better promises, Hebrews 10:19-58.10.12. One point (the better high priest, like Melchizedek) has already been discussed (Hebrews 4:16-58.4.7).

Sat down (εκαθισεν). Repetition of Hebrews 1:3 with του θρονου (the throne) added. This phrase prepares the way for the next point.

Verse 2

Minister (λειτουργος). See on Romans 13:6; Philippians 2:25.

Of the sanctuary (των αγιων). "Of the holy places" (τα αγια), without any distinction (like Hebrews 9:8; Hebrews 10:19; Hebrews 13:11) between the holy place and the most holy place as in Hebrews 9:2.

Of the true tabernacle (της σκηνης της αληθινης). By way of explanation of των αγιων. For σκηνη see Matthew 17:4 and σκηνος (2 Corinthians 5:1), old word used here for the antitype or archetype of the tabernacle in the wilderness in which Aaron served, the ideal tabernacle in heaven of which the earthly tabernacle was a symbol and reproduced in the temple which merely copied the tabernacle. Hence it is the "genuine" tabernacle and see John 1:9 for αληθινος.

Pitched (επηξεν). First aorist active indicative of πηγνυμ, old verb to fasten as the pegs of a tent, here only in the N.T. Cf. Numbers 24:6.

Verse 3

Is appointed (καθιστατα). As in Hebrews 5:1.

To offer (εις το προσφερειν). Articular infinitive accusative case with εις as is common while ινα προσφερη (ινα with present active subjunctive) for purpose in Hebrews 5:1, with δωρα τε κα θυσιας as there.

It is necessary (αναγκαιον). A moral and logical necessity (from αναγκη necessity) as seen in Acts 13:46; Philippians 1:24.

This high priest also (κα τουτον). "This one also," no word for high priest, accusative of general reference with the infinitive εχειν (have).

Somewhat to offer (τ ω προσενεγκη). Second aorist active subjunctive of προσφερω (verse Hebrews 8:3). Vulgate aliquid quod offerat. The use of the subjunctive in this relative clause is probably volitive as in Acts 21:16; Hebrews 12:28 (possibly here merely futuristic), but note ο προσφερε (present indicative) in Hebrews 9:7. See Robertson, Grammar, p. 955.

Verse 4

On earth (επ γης). As opposed to εν τοις ουρανοις (verse Hebrews 8:1). Condition of second class, determined as unfulfilled.

He would not be a priest at all (ουδ' αν ην ιερευς). "Not even would he be a priest." Conclusion of second class condition with αν and imperfect indicative (ην).

Seeing there are those (οντων των). Genitive absolute with οντων (from ειμ) and the articular present active participle of προσφερω (verse Hebrews 8:3). Jesus was not of the tribe of Levi and so could not serve here.

Verse 5

Serve (λατρευουσιν). Present active indicative of λατρευω for which verb see on Matthew 4:10.

A copy (υποδειγματ). Dative case after λατρευουσιν. See already on John 13:15; Hebrews 4:11 for this interesting word.

Shadow (σκια). Dative case. Old word for which see already Matthew 4:16; Mark 4:32; Colossians 2:17. See same idea in Hebrews 9:23. For difference between σκια and εικων see Hebrews 10:1. Here "copy and shadow" form a practical hendiadys for "a shadowy out- line" (Moffatt).

Is warned of God (κεχρηματιστα). Perfect passive indicative of χρηματιζω, old verb (from χρημα, business) for which see on Matthew 2:12; Matthew 2:22; Luke 2:26. The word "God" is not used, but it is implied as in Acts 10:22; Hebrews 12:25. So in LXX, Josephus, and the papyri.

For saith he (γαρ φησ). Argument from God's command (Exodus 25:40).

See that thou make (Hορα ποιησεις). Common Greek idiom with present active imperative of οραω and the volitive future of ποιεω without ινα (asyndeton, Robertson, Grammar, p. 949).

The pattern (τον τυπον). The very word used in Exodus 25:40 and quoted also by Stephen in Acts 7:44. For τυπος see already John 20:25; Romans 6:17, etc. The tabernacle was to be patterned after the heavenly model.

Verse 6

But now (νυν δε). Logical use of νυν, as the case now stands, with Jesus as high priest in heaven.

Hath he obtained (τετυχεν). Perfect active indicative of τυγχανω with the genitive, a rare and late form for τετευχεν (also τετευχηκεν), old verb to hit the mark, to attain.

A ministry the more excellent (διαφορωτερας λειτουργιας). "A more excellent ministry." For the comparative of διαφορος see Hebrews 1:4. This remark applies to all the five points of superiority over the Levitical priesthood.

By how much (οσω). Instrumental case of the relative οσος between two comparative adjectives as in Hebrews 1:4.

The mediator (μεσιτης). Late word from μεσος (amid) and so a middle man (arbitrator). Already in Galatians 3:19 and see 1 Timothy 2:5. See Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 12:24 for further use with διαθηκη.

Of a better covenant (κρειττονος διαθηκης). Called "new" (καινησ, νεας in Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 12:24). For διαθηκη see Matthew 26:28; Luke 1:72; Galatians 3:17, etc. This idea he will discuss in Hebrews 8:7-58.8.13.

Hath been enacted (νενομοθετητα). Perfect passive indicative of νομοθετεω as in Hebrews 7:11 which see.

Upon better promises (επ κρειττοσιν επαγγελιαις). Upon the basis of (επ). But how "better" if the earlier were also from God? This idea, alluded to in Hebrews 6:12-58.6.17, Will be developed in Hebrews 10:19-58.10.12 with great passion and power. Thus it is seen that "better" (κρεισσων) is the keynote of the Epistle. At every point Christianity is better than Judaism.

Verse 7

That first covenant (η πρωτη εκεινη). The word διαθηκη (covenant) is not expressed, but clearly meant by the feminine gender πρωτη.

Faultless (αμεμπτος). Old compound adjective for which see Luke 1:6; Philippians 2:15. The condition is second class and assumes that the old covenant was not "blameless," apparently a serious charge which he hastens to explain.

For a second (δευτερας). Objective genitive with διαθηκης understood. The conclusion with αν and the imperfect passive indicative (εζητειτο) is clearly a second-class condition. See a like argument in Hebrews 7:11.

Verse 8

Finding fault with them (μεμφομενος αυτους). Present middle participle of μεμφομα (cf. αμεμπτος), old verb, in N.T. only here and Romans 9:19. The covenant was all right, but the Jews failed to keep it. Hence God made a new one of grace in place of law. Why do marriage covenants so often fail to hold? The author quotes in verses Hebrews 8:8-58.8.12; Jeremiah 38:31-24.38.34 (in LXX Hebrews 31:31-58.31.34) in full which calls for little explanation or application to prove his point (verse Hebrews 8:13).

I will make (συντελεσω). Future active of συντελεω, old compound verb to accomplish as in Mark 13:4; Romans 9:28.

A new covenant (διαθηκην καινην). In Hebrews 12:24 we have διαθηκης νεας, but καινης in 1 Corinthians 11:25. Καινος is fresh, on new lines as opposed to the old (παλαιος) as in 2 Corinthians 3:6; 2 Corinthians 3:14; νεος is young or not yet old.

Verse 9

In the day that I took them (εν ημερα επιλαβομενου μου). Genitive absolute (μου and second aorist middle participle of επιλαμβανω), "a Hellenistic innovation" (Moffatt) in imitation of the Hebrew after ημερα in place of εν η επελαβομεν, occurring also in Barn. 2:28.

By the hand (της χειρος). Technical use of the genitive of the part affected.

To lead them forth (εξαγαγειν αυτους). Second aorist active infinitive of εξαγω to denote purpose.

For they continued not (οτ αυτο ουκ ενεμειναν). First aorist active indicative of εμμενω, old verb to remain in (Acts 14:22). The Israelites broke the covenant. Then God annulled it.

I regarded not (ημελησα). "I neglected" as in Hebrews 2:3. The covenant was void when they broke it.

Verse 10

This (αυτη). The "new" one of verse Hebrews 8:8.

That I will make (ην διαθησομα). Future middle of διατιθημ, "that I will covenant," cognate accusative (ην), using the same root in the verb as in διαθηκη.

I will put (διδους). "Giving," present active participle of διδωμ, to give.

Into their mind (εις την διανοιαν αυτων). Their intellect, their moral understanding, all the intellect as in Aristotle (Colossians 1:21; Ephesians 4:18).

On their heart (επ καρδιας αυτων). Either genitive singular or accusative plural. Καρδια is the seat of man's personal life (Westcott), the two terms covering the whole of man's inward nature.

A god (εις θεον). Note the Hebraistic use of εις in the predicate instead of the usual nominative θεος as in "a people" (εις λαον). This was the ideal of the old covenant (Exodus 6:7), now at last to be a fact.

Verse 11

They shall not teach (ου μη διδαξωσιν). Strong double negative (ου μη) with the first aorist active (futuristic) subjunctive of διδασκω.

His fellow-citizen (τον πολιτην αυτου). See Luke 15:15; Luke 19:14.

Know the Lord (Γνωθ τον κυριον). Second aorist active imperative of γινωσκω. In the new covenant all will be taught of God (Isaiah 54:13; John 6:45), whereas under the old only the educated scribe could understand the minutiae of the law (Dods). See Paul's comparison in 2 Corinthians 3:7-47.3.18.

Shall know (ειδησουσιν). Future perfect active, old form of οιδα (note γινωσκω just before of recognizing God), one of the rare future perfects (cf. Hebrews 2:13, εσομα πεποιθως).

Verse 12

Merciful (ιλεως). Old Attic adjective for ιλαος, common in the LXX, only here in N.T., from which ιλασκομα comes (Luke 18:13).

Will I remember no more (ου μη μνησθω ετ). Double negative ου μη with first aorist passive subjunctive (volitive) of μιμνησκω, to recall.

Verse 13

In that he saith (εν τω λεγειν). Locative case of the articular present active infinitive of λεγω, "in the saying as to him."

He hath made the first old (πεπαλαιωκεν την πρωτην). Perfect active indicative of παλαιοω, old verb from παλαιος (in contrast with καινος, fresh, new), to treat as old and out of date. The conclusion is to the point.

That which is becoming old and waxeth aged (το παλαιουμενον κα γηρασκον). Γηρασκω is old verb from γηρας (age) like γερων (old man) and refers to the decay of old age so that both ideas appear here in opposition to καινος (παλαιος) and νεος (γεραιος).

Is nigh unto vanishing away (εγγυς αφανισμου). Genitive case with εγγυς and late word for disappearance (from αφανιζω, Matthew 6:19), here only in the N.T. The author writes as if the Old Testament legal and ceremonial system were about to vanish before the new covenant of grace. If he wrote after A.D. 70, would he not have written "has vanished away"?

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Hebrews 8". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/hebrews-8.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.