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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Hebrews 8



Other Authors
Verse 1

In the things which we are saying (επι τοις λεγομενοιςepi tois legomenois). Locative case of the articular present passive participle of λεγωlegō after επιepi as in Luke 5:5; Hebrews 11:4, “in the matter of the things being discussed.”

The chief point (κεπαλαιονkephalaion). Neuter singular of the adjective κεπαλαιοςkephalaios (from κεπαληkephalē 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 αρχιερεαtoiouton archierea). As the one described in chapters 4:16-7:28 and in particular Hebrews 7:26 (τοιουτοςtoioutos) Hebrews 7:27, Hebrews 7:28. But the discussion of the priestly work of Jesus continues through Hebrews 12:3. ΤοιουτοςToioutos is both retrospective and prospective. Here we have a summary of the five points of superiority of Jesus as high priest (Hebrews 8:1-6). He is himself a better priest than Aaron (τοιουτοςtoioutos in Hebrews 8:1 such as shown in 4:16-7:28); 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 resumé (κεπελαιονkephelaion) the author gives the pith (κεπαλαιονkephalaion) of his argument, curiously enough with both senses of κεπαλαιονkephalaion (pith, summary) pertinent. He will discuss the four points remaining thus:

(1) The better covenant, Hebrews 8:7-13.

(2) The better sanctuary, Hebrews 9:1-12.

(3) The better sacrifice, 9:13-10:18.

(4) The better promises, 10:19-12:3.

One point (the better high priest, like Melchizedek) has already been discussed (4:16-7:28).

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

Verse 2

Minister (λειτουργοςleitourgos). See note on Romans 13:6 and note on Philemon 2:25.

Of the sanctuary (των αγιωνtōn hagiōn). “Of the holy places” (τα αγιαta hagia), 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 αλητινηςtēs skēnēs tēs alēthinēs). By way of explanation of των αγιωνtōn hagiōn For σκηνηskēnē see Matthew 17:4 and σκηνοςskēnos (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 αλητινοςalēthinos

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

Verse 3

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

To offer (εις το προσπερεινeis to prospherein). Articular infinitive accusative case with ειςeis as is common while ινα προσπερηιhina prospherēi (ιναhina with present active subjunctive) for purpose in Hebrews 5:1, with δωρα τε και τυσιαςdōra te kai thusias as there.

It is necessary
(αναγκαιονanagkaion). A moral and logical necessity (from αναγκηanagkē necessity) as seen in Acts 13:46; Philemon 1:24.

This high priest also
(και τουτονkai touton). “This one also,” no word for high priest, accusative of general reference with the infinitive εχεινechein (have).

Somewhat to offer
(τι ω προσενεγκηιti hō prosenegkēi). Second aorist active subjunctive of προσπερωprospherō (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 προσπερειho prospherei (present indicative) in Hebrews 9:7. See Robertson, Grammar, p. 955.

Verse 4

On earth (επι γηςepi gēs). As opposed to εν τοις ουρανοιςen tois ouranois (Hebrews 8:1). Condition of second class, determined as unfulfilled.

He would not be a priest at all (ουδ αν ην ιερευςoud' an ēn hiereus). “Not even would he be a priest.” Conclusion of second class condition with ανan and imperfect indicative (ηνēn).

Seeing there are those
(οντων τωνontōn tōn). Genitive absolute with οντωνontōn (from ειμιeimi) and the articular present active participle of προσπερωprospherō (Hebrews 8:3). Jesus was not of the tribe of Levi and so could not serve here.

Verse 5

Serve (λατρευουσινlatreuousin). Present active indicative of λατρευωlatreuō for which verb see note on Matthew 4:10.

A copy (υποδειγματιhupodeigmati). Dative case after λατρευουσινlatreuousin See note on John 13:15 and note on Hebrews 4:11 for this interesting word.

(σκιαιskiāi). Dative case. Old word for which see note on Matthew 4:16; note on Mark 4:32; and note on Colossians 2:17. See same idea in Hebrews 9:23. For difference between σκιαskia and εικωνeikōn see Hebrews 10:1. Here “copy and shadow” form a practical hendiadys for “a shadowy outline” (Moffatt).

Is warned of God
(κεχρηματισταιkechrēmatistai). Perfect passive indicative of χρηματιζωchrēmatizō old verb (from χρημαchrēma business) for which see note on Matthew 2:12, note on Matthew 2:22, and note on 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 πησιgar phēsi). Argument from God‘s command (Exodus 25:40).

See that thou make
(ορα ποιησειςHorā poiēseis). Common Greek idiom with present active imperative of οραωhoraō and the volitive future of ποιεωpoieō without ιναhina (asyndeton, Robertson, Grammar, p. 949).

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

Verse 6

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

Hath he obtained (τετυχενtetuchen). Perfect active indicative of τυγχανωtugchanō with the genitive, a rare and late form for τετευχενteteuchen (also τετευχηκενteteuchēken), old verb to hit the mark, to attain.

A ministry the more excellent
(διαπορωτερας λειτουργιαςdiaphorōteras leitourgias). “A more excellent ministry.” For the comparative of διαποροςdiaphoros see Hebrews 1:4. This remark applies to all the five points of superiority over the Levitical priesthood.

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

The mediator
(μεσιτηςmesitēs). Late word from μεσοςmesos (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 διατηκηdiathēkē

Of a better covenant
(κρειττονος διατηκηςkreittonos diathēkēs). Called “new” (καινησ νεαςkainēs class="normal greek">διατηκη — neas in Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 12:24). For νενομοτετηταιdiathēkē see Matthew 26:28; Luke 1:72; Galatians 3:17, etc. This idea he will discuss in Hebrews 8:7-13.

Hath been enacted
(νομοτετεωnenomothetētai). Perfect passive indicative of επι κρειττοσιν επαγγελιαιςnomotheteō as in Hebrews 7:11 which see.

Upon better promises
(επιepi kreittosin epaggeliais). Upon the basis of (κρεισσωνepi). But how “better” if the earlier were also from God? This idea, alluded to in Hebrews 6:12-17, Will be developed in 10:19-12:3 with great passion and power. Thus it is seen that “better” (kreissōn) is the keynote of the Epistle. At every point Christianity is better than Judaism.

Verse 7

That first covenant (η πρωτη εκεινηhē prōtē ekeinē). The word διατηκηdiathēkē (covenant) is not expressed, but clearly meant by the feminine gender πρωτηprōtē

Faultless (αμεμπτοςamemptos). Old compound adjective for which see Luke 1:6; Philemon 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
(δευτεραςdeuteras). Objective genitive with διατηκηςdiathēkēs understood. The conclusion with ανan and the imperfect passive indicative (εζητειτοezēteito) is clearly a second-class condition. See a like argument in Hebrews 7:11.

Verse 8

Finding fault with them (μεμπομενος αυτουςmemphomenos autous). Present middle participle of μεμπομαιmemphomai (cf. αμεμπτοςamemptos), 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 Hebrews 8:8-12; Jeremiah 31:31-34 (in lxx 38:31-34) in full which calls for little explanation or application to prove his point (Hebrews 8:13).

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

A new covenant
(διατηκην καινηνdiathēkēn kainēn). In Hebrews 12:24 we have διατηκης νεαςdiathēkēs neas but καινηςkainēs in 1 Corinthians 11:25. ΚαινοςKainos is fresh, on new lines as opposed to the old (παλαιοςpalaios) as in 2 Corinthians 3:6, 2 Corinthians 3:14; νεοςneos is young or not yet old.

Verse 9

In the day that I took them (εν ημεραι επιλαβομενου μουen hēmerāi epilabomenou mou). Genitive absolute (μουmou and second aorist middle participle of επιλαμβανωepilambanō), “a Hellenistic innovation” (Moffatt) in imitation of the Hebrew after ημεραιhēmerāi in place of εν ηι επελαβομενen hēi epelabomen occurring also in Barn. 2:28.

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

To lead them forth
(εχαγαγειν αυτουςexagagein autous). Second aorist active infinitive of εχαγωexagō to denote purpose.

For they continued not
(οτι αυτοι ουκ ενεμεινανhoti autoi ouk enemeinan). First aorist active indicative of εμμενωemmenō old verb to remain in (Acts 14:22). The Israelites broke the covenant. Then God annulled it.

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

Verse 10

This (αυτηhautē). The “new” one of Hebrews 8:8.

That I will make (ην διατησομαιhēn diathēsomai). Future middle of διατιτημιdiatithēmi “that I will covenant,” cognate accusative (ηνhēn), using the same root in the verb as in διατηκηdiathēkē

I will put
(διδουςdidous). “Giving,” present active participle of διδωμιdidōmi to give.

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

On their heart
(επι καρδιας αυτωνepi kardias autōn). Either genitive singular or accusative plural. ΚαρδιαKardia is the seat of man‘s personal life (Westcott), the two terms covering the whole of man‘s inward nature.

A god
(εις τεονeis theon). Note the Hebraistic use of ειςeis in the predicate instead of the usual nominative τεοςtheos as in “a people” (εις λαονeis laon). 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 διδαχωσινou mē didaxōsin). Strong double negative (ου μηou mē) with the first aorist active (futuristic) subjunctive of διδασκωdidaskō

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

Know the Lord
(Γνωτι τον κυριονGnōthi ton kurion). Second aorist active imperative of γινωσκωginōskō 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 3:7-18.

Shall know
(ειδησουσινeidēsousin). Future perfect active, old form of οιδαoida (note γινωσκωginōskō just before of recognizing God), one of the rare future perfects (cf. Hebrews 2:13, εσομαι πεποιτωςesomai pepoithōs).

Verse 12

Merciful (ιλεωςhileōs). Old Attic adjective for ιλαοςhilaos common in the lxx, only here in N.T., from which ιλασκομαιhilaskomai comes (Luke 18:13).

Will I remember no more (ου μη μνηστω ετιou mē mnēsthō eti). Double negative ου μηou mē with first aorist passive subjunctive (volitive) of μιμνησκωmimnēskō to recall.

Verse 13

In that he saith (εν τωι λεγεινen tōi legein). Locative case of the articular present active infinitive of λεγωlegō “in the saying as to him.”

He hath made the first old (πεπαλαιωκεν την πρωτηνpepalaiōken tēn prōtēn). Perfect active indicative of παλαιοωpalaioō old verb from παλαιοςpalaios (in contrast with καινοςkainos 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 και γηρασκονto palaioumenon kai gēraskon). ΓηρασκωGēraskō is old verb from γηραςgēras (age) like γερωνgerōn (old man) and refers to the decay of old age so that both ideas appear here in opposition to καινοςkainos (παλαιοςpalaios) and νεοςneos (γεραιοςgeraios).

Is nigh unto vanishing away
(εγγυς απανισμουeggus aphanismou). Genitive case with εγγυςeggus and late word for disappearance (from απανιζωaphanizō 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)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Hebrews 8:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 25th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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