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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies
Hebrews 8



Other Authors
Verse 1

Of the things which we have spoken ( ἐπὶ τοῖς λεγομένοις )

The A.V. is wrong. Ἐπὶ is in the case of, or in the consideration of: not of, nor in addition to. Τοῖς λεγομένοις “the things which are being spoken”: the matters now under discussion.

The sum ( κεφάλαιον )

Rend. the chief point. It is not the sum of what precedes, but the main point of the present discussion. This point is that Christ is the minister of a better sanctuary, connected with a better covenant.

Such an high priest ( τοιοῦτον )

Taken up from Hebrews 7:26.

Is set ( ἐκάθισεν )

Repeating Hebrews 1:3. Rend. sat down.

The throne of the majesty ( τοῦ θρόνου τῆς μεγαλωσύνης )

See on Hebrews 1:3. The phrase N.T.oIn the heavens ( ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς )

Const. with sat down, not with majesty, which is complete in itself and needs no qualifying epithet.

Verse 2

A minister ( λειτουργὸς )

Sat down as a minister. From an old adjective λεῖτος or λέΐτος (found only in this compound), belonging to the people, and ἔργον workHence, originally, the service of the state in a public office. In lxx and N.T. λειτουργὸς minister λειτουργεῖν tominister, and λειτουργία ministryare used both of priestly service to God and of service to men. Λειτουργία in lxx rarely of the service of the priests, often of the Levites. See 1 Kings 1:4; 1 Kings 19:21; 2 Kings 4:43; 2 Kings 6:15. Λειτουργοὺς Hebrews 1:7, in the general sense of servants of God.

Of the sanctuary ( τῶν ἁγίων )

The heavenly sanctuary. Τὰ ἅγια themost holy place, Hebrews 9:8, Hebrews 9:12, Hebrews 9:25; Hebrews 10:19; Hebrews 13:11. Comp. ἅγια ἀγίων holyof holies, Hebrews 9:3. Ἅγια holyplaces generally, but with special reference to the innermost sanctuary, Hebrews 9:24.

The true tabernacle ( τῆς σκηνῆς τῆς ἀλυθινῆς )

Explanatory of τῶν ἁγίων . The form of expression is emphatic: the tabernacle, the genuine one, as compared with the tabernacle in the wilderness. For ἀλιθινός realgenuine, see on John 1:9. Σκηνή atent. For different shades of meaning, comp. Matthew 17:4; Luke 16:9; Acts 7:43. In this epistle always of the tabernacle in the wilderness.

Verse 3

d A priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices. Therefore Christ, a high priest, must have gifts and sacrifices to offer, and a sanctuary in which to offer them.

Wherefore it is of necessity ( ὅεν ἀναγκαῖον )

Rend. wherefore it is necessary.

Somewhat to offer ( ὃ προσενέγκῃ )

Lit. what he may offer. The construction is unusual. Comp. Acts 21:16. The statement is a truism, unless it be assumed that the Hebrew Christians were ignorant of the doctrine of Christ's priesthood.

Verse 4

d Rend. “Now if he were on earth he would not be a priest at all, seeing that there are those who offer the gifts according to the law.” Christ could not be a priest on earth, because there is an order of priests already established by law; and as Christ was not of the tribe of Levi (Hebrews 7:13, Hebrews 7:14) he could have nothing in common with them.

Verse 5

Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things ( οἵτινες ὑποδείγματι καί σκιᾷ λατρεύουσιν τῶν ἐπουρανίων )

The connection is, “there are those who offer the gifts according to the law, such as ( οἵτινες ) serve,” etc. For λατρεύουσιν servesee on 2 Timothy 1:3. Omit unto. Rend. serve the copy and shadow, etc., or, as Rev., that which is a copy and shadow. For ὑπόδειγμα copysee on 1 Peter 5:3; see on 2 Peter 2:6. Comp. Hebrews 9:23. Τῶν ἐπουρανίων “of heavenly things.” Τὰ ἐπουράνια in N.T. usually “heavenly places.” See Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:6; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 6:12: “heavenly things,” John 3:12; Philemon 2:10; Hebrews 9:23.

As Moses was admonished ( καθὼς κεχρημάτισται Μωυσῆς )

By God. This, and the remainder of the verse, explain the words copy and shadow. For χρηματίζειν see on Matthew 2:12; see on Luke 2:26; see on Acts 11:26. Comp. χρηματισμός answer(of God), Romans 11:4. In Exodus 40:1, where Moses is commanded to make the tabernacle, God is expressly named.

To make ( ἐπιτελεῖν )

The margin of Rev. complete may easily convey a wrong idea. The sense is to carry out or execute the plan given to him.

For, See ( ὅρα γάρ )

Γάρ foris not a part of the quotation, but is argumentative. Moses was admonished, for God said “See,” etc.

That thou make ( ποιήσεις )

A direct command. “See, thou shalt make.”

Pattern ( τύπον )

See on 1 Peter 5:3. The meaning is that, in all essential features, the Levitical system of worship was a copy of a heavenly reality. This was pressed into an absurd literalism by the Rabbins, who held that there were in heaven original models of the tabernacle and of all its appurtenances, and that these were shown to Moses in the Mount. The writer draws out of this vulgar conception the thought that the material tabernacle was an emblem of a spiritual, heavenly sanctuary. The Levitical priests, therefore, serve only a copy and shadow.

Verse 6

But now ( νῦν δὲ )

Νῦν is logical: as the case now stands. The statement of Hebrews 8:4is taken up. “If he were on earth he could not be a priest,” etc., but now, since Christ is a priest, and must have a sanctuary and an offering, he has a more excellent ministry.

He hath obtained a more excellent ministry ( διαφορωτέρας τέτυχεν λειτουργίας )

The ministry of the heavenly sanctuary.

He is the mediator of a better covenant ( κρείττονός ἐστιν διαθήκης μεσίτης )

For μεσίτης mediatorsee on Galatians 3:19. Both here and in the following chapter, the ideas of the sanctuary and the covenant are closely united. God's covenant was embodied in the sanctuary. The ark was “the ark of the covenant”; the tables of the law were “the tables of the covenant.” The essence of a covenant is the establishment of a relationship. The sanctuary was the meeting-place of God and man. The ritual of sacrifice adjusted the sinner's relation to a holy God. All the furniture and all the ordinances of the tabernacle assumed the covenant between God and his people. Thus the two ideas belong together. The minister of the Levitical sanctuary was the mediator of the old covenant. A new covenant implies a new ministry, a better covenant implies a better ministry. Christ's priesthood implies a sanctuary. The new sanctuary implies a new covenant. This covenant is a better covenant because it

Was established upon better promises ( ἐπὶ κρείττοσιν ἐπαγγελίαις νενομοθέτηται )

For established rend. enacted. Νομοθετεῖν toenact a law, only here and Hebrews 7:11. A few times in lxxclass="greek normal"> Νομοθεσία enactingonly Romans 9:4 νομοθέτης lawgiveronly James 4:12. The better covenant was enacted as truly as was the law. See Hebrews 8:10. The new covenant was a new law - the perfect law, the law of liberty, James 1:25.

Verse 7

d The statement that a better covenant was enacted upon better promises is justified by the very existence of that second covenant. “If that first covenant had been faultless, there would no place have been sought for a second.” The argument is like that in Hebrews 7:11(see note). Notice the imperfect tense ἐξητείτο , lit. would have been being sought. A search would not have been going on. This implies a sense of dissatisfaction while the old covenant was still in force, and a looking about for something better. This hint is now expanded. It is to be shown that the Levitical system answered to a covenant which was recognized as imperfect and transitory by an O.T. prophet, since he spoke of a divine purpose to establish a new covenant.

Verse 8

For finding fault with them ( μεμφόμενος αὐτοὺς )

Them signifies the possessors of the first covenant. The prophet says what follows by way of blame. The passage cited is Jeremiah href="/desk/?q=jer+31:31-34&sr=1">Jeremiah 31:31-34). The writer assumes that Jeremiah's new covenant means the Christian covenant.

I will make ( συντελέσω )

Rend. I will conclude or consummate. See on Luke 4:13. Only here in Hebrews, and once in Paul, Romans 9:28, a citation.

With the house ( ἐπὶ )

The preposition marking direction toward.

A new covenant ( διαθήκην καινήν )

Always καινὴ in the phrase new covenant, except Hebrews 12:24, where we have νέα . For the distinction see note there, and see on Matthew 26:29.

Verse 9

In the day when I took ( ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ἐπιλαβομένου μου )

An unusual construction. Lit. in the day of me having taken hold. Comp. John 4:39.

Verse 10

The covenant which I will make ( ἡ διαθήκη ἣν δοαθήσομαι )

The noun and the verb are cognate - the arrangement which I will arrange. A covenant ( διαθήκη ) is something arranged ( διατίθεσθαι ) between two parties. See the same combination, Acts 3:25.

I will put my laws ( διδοὺς νόμους μου )

Lit. giving my laws: const. with I will make: “the covenant which I will make by giving my laws.”

Mind ( διάνοιαν )

The moral understanding. See on Mark 12:30; see on Luke 1:51. Hearts, καρδίας , see on Romans 1:21; see on Romans 10:10.

A God - a people ( εἰς θεόν - εἰς λαόν )

Lit. unto a God, etc. A Hebraistic form of expression, εἰς signifying the destination of the substantive verb. The sense is, I will be to them to serve as a God; or my being as related to them will amount to my being a God to them. Comp. Matthew 19:5; 2 Corinthians 6:18; Hebrews 1:5.

Verse 11

His neighbor ( τὸν πολίτην )

Lit. his citizen: his fellow-citizen.

Know the Lord ( γνῶθι τὸν κύριον )

As if commending God to the knowledge of one who is ignorant of him.

All shall know ( πάντες εἰδήσουσιν )

Observe the two words for know: γνῶθι of the recognition of a stranger; εἰδήσουσιν of an absolute acquaintance as of one born under God's covenant.

From the least to the greatest ( ἀπὸ μικροῦ ἕως μεγάλου αὐτῶν ).

Lit. from the little unto the great of them. This knowledge of God will be without distinction of age or station.

Verse 12

Merciful ( ἵλεως )

Only here and Matthew 16:22, see note.

Unrighteousness ( ἀδικίαις )

Unrighteousnesses. The only occurrence of the word in the plural. For ἀδικία see on 2 Peter 2:13.

Their sins and their iniquities ( τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν )

Omit and their iniquities. For ἁμαρτία sinsee on Matthew 1:21; and for both ἀδικία and ἁμαρτία , see on 1 John 1:9. Comp. 1 John 5:17.

Will I remember no more ( οὐ μὴ μνησθῷ ἔτι )

Lit. I will by no means remember any more.

Verse 13

In that he saith a new covenant ( ἐν τῷ λέγειν καινήν )

Lit. “in his saying new.”

He hath made the first old ( πεπαλαίωκεν τὴν πρώτην )

Παλαιοῦν tomake old, only in Hebrews and Luke 12:33. Comp. Hebrews 1:11.

Now that which decayeth and waxeth old ( τὸ δὲ παλαιούμενου καὶ γηράσκον )

Rend. but that which is becoming old and waxing aged. Γηράσκειν (only here and John 21:18) adds the idea of infirmity to that of age.

Is ready to vanish away ( ἐγγύς ἀφανισμοῦ )

Lit. is nigh unto vanishing. Ἀφανισμός vanishingN.T.oOften in lxx. Class. rare and late. The whole statement indicates that the writer regarded the Sinaitic covenant, even in Jeremiah's time, as obsolete, and that Jeremiah himself so regarded it. When God announced a new covenant he proclaimed the insufficiency of the old, and the promise of a new covenant carried with it the promise of the abrogation of the old. The new covenant is so shaped as to avoid the defects of the old one, and some one has remarked that, in one aspect, it is a criticism of the Sinaitic covenant. The following are its provisions: (1) The law will no more be merely external, but a law written in the heart. Comp. 2 Corinthians 3:8. (2) The people will be on intimate and affectionate terms with God, so that the knowledge of God will be general. (3) Sin will be dealt with more radically and effectively.


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Hebrews 8:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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