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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Hebrews 9:16

For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it.

Adam Clarke Commentary

For where a testament is - A learned and judicious friend furnishes me with the following translation of this and the 17th verse: -

"For where there is a covenant, it is necessary that the death of the appointed victim should be exhibited, because a covenant is confirmed over dead victims, since it is not at all valid while the appointed victim is alive."

He observes, "There is no word signifying testator, or men, in the original. Διαθεμενος is not a substantive, but a participle, or a participial adjective, derived from the same root as διατηκη, and must have a substantive understood. I therefore render it the disposed or appointed victim, alluding to the manner of disposing or setting apart the pieces of the victim, when they were going to ratify a covenant; and you know well the old custom of ratifying a covenant, to which the apostle alludes. I refer to your own notes on Genesis 6:18; (note), and Genesis 15:10; (note). - J. C."

Mr. Wakefield has translated the passage nearly in the same way.

"For where a covenant is, there must be necessarily introduced the death of that which establisheth the covenant; because a covenant is confirmed over dead things, and is of no force at all whilst that which establisheth the covenant is alive." This is undoubtedly the meaning of this passage; and we should endeavor to forget that testament and testator were ever introduced, as they totally change the apostle's meaning. See the observations at the end of this chapter.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/hebrews-9.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

For where a testament is - This is the same word - διαθήκη diathēkē- which in Hebrews 8:6, is rendered “covenant.” For the general signification of the word, see note on that verse. There is so much depending, however, on the meaning of the word, not only in the interpretation of this passage, but also of other parts of the Bible, that it may be proper to explain it here more at length. The word - διαθήκη diathēkē- occurs in the New Testament thirty-three times. It is translated “covenant” in the common version, in Luke 1:72; Acts 3:25; Acts 7:8; Romans 9:4; Romans 11:27; Galatians 3:15, Galatians 3:17; Galatians 4:24; Ephesians 2:12; Hebrews 8:6, Hebrews 8:9, “twice,” Hebrews 8:10; Hebrews 9:4, “twice,” Hebrews 10:16; Hebrews 12:24; Hebrews 13:20. In the remaining places it is rendered “testament;” Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:6, 2 Corinthians 3:14; Hebrews 7:22; Hebrews 9:15-17, Hebrews 9:20; Revelation 11:19. In four of those instances (Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20, and 1 Corinthians 11:25), it is used with reference to the institution or celebration of the Lord‘s Supper. In the Septuagint it occurs not far from 300 times, in considerably more than 200 times of which it is the translation of the Hebrew word בּרית beriytone instance Zechariah 11:14 it is the translation of the word “brotherhood;” once Deuteronomy 9:5, of דּבר daabaar- “word;” once Jeremiah 11:2, of “words of the covenant;” once Leviticus 26:11), of “tabernacle;” once Exodus 31:7, of “testimony;” it occurs once Ezekiel 20:37, where the reading of the Greek and Hebrew text is doubtful; and it occurs three times 1 Samuel 11:2; 1 Samuel 20:8; 1 Kings 8:9, where there is no corresponding word in the Hebrew text. From this use of the word by the authors of the Septuagint, it is evident that they regarded it as the proper translation of the Hebrew - בּרית beriytand as conveying the same sense which that word does. It cannot be reasonably doubted that the writers of the New Testament were led to the use of the word, in part, at least, by the fact that they found it occurring so frequently in the version in common use, but it cannot be doubted also that they regarded it as fairly conveying the sense of the word בּרית beriytOn no principle can it be supposed that inspired and honest people would use a word in referring to transactions in the Old Testament which did not “fairly” convey the idea which the writers of the Old Testament meant to express. The use being thus regarded as settled, there are some “facts” in reference to it which are of great importance in interpreting the New Testament, and in understanding the nature of the “covenant” which God makes with man. These facts are the following:

(1) The word διαθήκη diathēkē- “diatheke” - is not what properly denotes “compact, agreement,” or “covenant.” That word is συνθήκη sunthēkē- “syntheke” or in other forms σύνθεσις sunthesisand συνθεσίας sunthesiasor if the word “diatheke” is used in that signification it is only remotely, and as a secondary meaning; see “Passow;” compare the Septuagint in Isaiah 28:15; Isaiah 30:1; Daniel 11:6, and Wisdom Daniel 1:16; Isaiah 28:15; Isaiah 30:1; Daniel 11:6. This remarkable fact that the authors of that version never use the word to denote any transaction between God and man, shows that there must have been some reason for it which acted on their minds with entire uniformity.

(4) it is no less remarkable that neither in the Septuagint nor the New Testament is the word διαθήκη diathēkē- “diatheke” - “ever” used in the sense of “will” or “testament,” unless it be in the case before us. This is conceded on all hands, and is expressly admitted by Prof. Stuart; (Com. on Heb. p. 439), though he defends this use of the word in this passage. - A very important inquiry presents itself here, which has never received a solution generally regarded as satisfactory. It is, why the word διαθήκη diathēkē- “diatheke” - was selected by the writers of the New Testament to express the nature of the transaction between God and man in the plan of salvation. It might be said indeed that they found this word uniformly used in the Septuagint, and that they employed it as expressing the idea which they wished to convey, with sufficient accuracy. But this is only removing the difficulty one step further back.

Why did the Septuagint adopt this word? Why did they not rather use the common and appropriate Greek word to express the notion of a covenant? A suggestion on this subject has already been made in the notes on Hebrews 8:6; compare Bib. Repository vol. xx. p. 55. Another reason may, however, be suggested for this remarkable fact which is liable to no objection. It is, that in the apprehension of the authors of the Septuagint, and of the writers of the New Testament, the word διαθήκη diathēkē- “diatheke” - in its original and proper signification “fairly” conveyed the sense of the Hebrew word בּרית beriytand that the word συνθήκη sunthēkē- or “compact, agreement,” would “not” express that; and “that they never meant to be understood as conveying the idea either that God entered into a compact or covenant with man, or that he made a will.” They meant to represent; him as making “an arrangement, a disposition, an ordering” of things, by which his service might be kept up among his people, and by which people might be saved; but they were equally remote from representing him as making a “compact,” or a “will.” In support of this there may be alleged.

(1) the remarkable uniformity in which the word διαθήκη diathēkē- “diatheke” - is used, showing that there was some “settled principle” from which they never departed; and,

(2) it is used mainly as the meaning of the word itself. Prof. Stuart has, undoubtedly, given the accurate original sense of the word. “The real, genuine, and original meaning of διαθήκη diathēkē(diatheke) is, “arrangement, disposition,” or “disposal” of a thing.” P. 440. The word from which it is derived - διατίθημι diatithēmi- means to place apart or asunder; and then to set, arrange, dispose in a certain order. “Passow.” From this original signification is derived the use which the word has with singular uniformity in the Scriptures. It denotes the “arrangment, disposition,” or “ordering” of things which God made in relation to mankind, by which he designed to keep up his worship on earth, and to save the soul. It means neither covenant nor will; neither compact nor legacy; neither agreement nor testament. It is an “arrangement” of an entirely different order from either of them, and the sacred writers with an uniformity which could have been secured only by the presiding influence of the One Eternal Spirit, have avoided the suggestion that God made with man either a “compact” or a “will.”

We have no word which precisely expresses this idea, and hence, our conceptions are constantly floating between a “compact” and a “will,” and the views which we have are as unsettled as they are. unscriptural. The simple idea is, that God has made an “arrangement” by which his worship may be celebrated and souls saved. Under the Jewish economy this arrangement assumed one form; under the Christian another. In neither was it a compact or covenant between two parties in such a sense that one party would be at liberty to reject the terms proposed; in neither was it a testament or will, as if God had left a legacy to man, but in both there were some things in regard to the arrangement such as are found in a covenant or compact. One of those things - equally appropriate to a compact between man and man and to this arrangement, the apostle refers to here - that it implied in all cases the death of the victim.

If these remarks are well-founded, they should be allowed materially to shape our views in the interpretation of the Bible. Whole treatises of divinity have been written on a mistaken view of the meaning of this word - understood as meaning “covenant.” Volumes of angry controversy have been published on the nature of the “covenant” with Adam, and on its influence on his posterity. The only literal “covenant” which can he supposed in the plan of redemption is that between the Father and the Son - though even the existence of such a covenant is rather the result of devout and learned imagining than of any distinct statement in the volume of inspiration. The simple statement there is, that God has made an arrangement for salvation, the execution of which he has entrusted to his Son, and has proposed it to man to be accepted as the only arrangement by which man can be saved, and which he is not at liberty to disregard.

There has been much difference of opinion in reference to the meaning of the passage here, and to the design of the illustration introduced. If the word used - διαθήκη diathēkē- means “testament,” in the sense of a “will,” then the sense of that passage is that “a will is of force only when he who made it dies, for it relates to a disposition of his property after his death.” The force of the remark of the apostle then would be, that the fact that the Lord Jesus made or expressed his “will” to mankind, implied that he would die to confirm it; or that since in the ordinary mode of making a will, it was of force only when he who made it was dead, therefore it was necessary that the Redeemer should die, in order to confirm and ratify what he made. But the objections to this, which appears to have been the view of our translators, seem to me to be insuperable. They are these:

(1)the word διαθήκη diathēkē- “diatheke” - is not used in this sense in the New Testament elsewhere; see the remarks above.

(2)the Lord Jesus made no such will. He had no property, and the commandments and instructions which he gave to his disciples were not of the nature of a will or testament.

(3)such an illustration would not be pertinent to the design of the apostle, or in keeping with his argument.

He is comparing the Jewish and Christian dispensations, and the point of comparison in this chapter relates to the question about the efficacy of sacrifice in the two arrangements. He showed that the arrangement for blood-shedding by sacrifice entered into both; that the high priest of both offered blood as an expiation; that the holy place was entered with blood, and that consequently there was death in both the arrangements, or dispensations. The former arrangement or dispensation was ratified with blood, and it was equally proper that the new arrangement should be also. The point of comparison is not that Moses made a will or testament which could be of force only when he died, and that the same thing was required in the new dispensation, but it is that the former covenant was “ratified by blood,” or “by the death of a victim,” and that it might be expected that the new dispensation would be confirmed, and that it was in fact confirmed in the same manner. In this view of the argument, what pertinency would there be in introducing an illustration respecting a will, and the manner in which it became efficient; compare notes on Hebrews 9:18. It seems clear, therefore, to me, that the word rendered “testament” here is to be taken in the sense in which it is ordinarily used in the New Testament. The opinion that the word here means such a divine arrangement as is commonly denoted a “covenant,” and not testament, is sanctioned by not a few names of eminence in criticism, such as Pierce, Doddridge, Michaelis, Steudel, and the late Dr. John P. Wilson. Bloomfield says that the connection here demands this. The principal objections to this view are:

(1)that it is not proved that no covenants or compacts were valid except such as were made by the intervention of sacrifices.

(2)that the word rendered “testator” - διαθεμενος diathemenos- cannot refer to the death of an animal slain for the purpose of ratifying a covenant, but must mean either a “testator,” or a “contractor,” that is, one of two contracting parties.

(3)that the word rendered “dead” Hebrews 9:17 - νεκροῖς nekrois- means only “dead men,” and never is applied to the dead bodies of animals; (see Stuart on the Hebrew, p. 442.)

These objections to the supposition that the passage refers to a covenant or compact, Prof. Stuart says are in his view insuperable, and they are certainly entitled to grave consideration. Whether the view above presented is one which can be sustained, we may be better able to determine after an examination of the words and phrases which the apostle uses. Those objections which depend wholly on the “philological” argument derived from the words used, will be considered of course in such an examination. It is to be remembered at the outset:

(1)that the word διαθήκη diathēkē- “diatheke” - is never used in the New Testament in the sense of “testament,” or “will,” unless in this place;

(2)that it is never used in this sense in the Septuagint; and,

(3)that the Hebrew word בּרית beriyt- “never” has this signification. This is admitted; see Stuart on the Heb. pp. 439,440. It must require very strong reasons to prove that it has this meaning here, and that Paul has employed the word in a sense differing from its uniform signification elsewhere in the Bible; compare, however, the remarks of Prof. Stuart in Bib. Repos. vol. xx. p. 364.

There must also of necessity be - ἀνάγκη anagkē- That is, it is necessary in order to confirm the covenant, or it would not be binding in cases where this did not occur. The “necessity” in the case is simply to make it valid or obligatory. So we say now there must “necessarily” be a “seal,” or a deed would not be valid. The fair interpretation of this is, that this was the common and established custom in making a “covenant” with God, or confirming the arrangement with him in regard to salvation. To this it is objected (see the first objection above), that “it is yet to be made out that no covenants were valid execpt those by the intervention of sacrifices.” In reply to this, we may observe:

(1) that the point to be made out is not that this was a custom in compacts between “man and man,” but between “man and his Maker.” There is no evidence, as it seems to me, that the apostle alludes to a compact between man and man. The mistake on this subject has arisen partly from the use of the word “testament” by our translators, in the sense of “will” - supposing that it must refer to some transaction relating to man only; and partly from the insertion of the word “men” in Hebrews 9:17, in the translation of the phrase - ἐπὶ νεκροῖς epi nekrois- “upon the dead,” or” over the dead.” But it is not necessary to suppose that there is a reference here to any transaction between man and man at all, as the whole force of the illustration introduced by the apostle will be retained if we suppose him speaking “only” of a covenant between man and God. Then his assertion will be simply that in the arrangement between God and man there was a “necessity” of the death of something, or of the shedding of blood in order to ratify it. This view will save the necessity of proof that the custom of ratifying compacts between man and man by sacrifice prevailed. Whether that can be made out or not, the assertion of the apostle may be true, that in the arrangement which God makes with man, sacrifice was necessary in order to confirm or ratify it.

(2) the point to be made out is, not that such a custom is or was universal among all nations, but that it was the known and regular opinion among the Hebrews that a sacrifice was necessary in a “covenant” with God, in the same way as if we should say that a deed was not valid without a seal, it would not be necessary to show this in regard to all nations, but only that it is the law or the custom in the nation where the writer lived, and at the time when he lived. Other nations may have very different modes of confirming or ratifying a deed, and the same nation may have different methods at various times. The fact or custom to which I suppose there is allusion here, is that of sacrificing an animal to ratify the arrangement between man and his Maker, commonly called a “covenant.” In regard to the existence of such a custom, particularly among the Hebrews, we may make the following observations.

It was the common mode of ratifying the “covenant” between God and man. That was done over a sacrifice, or by the shedding of blood. So the covenant with Abraham was ratified by slaying an heifer, a she-goat, a ram, a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon. The animals were divided and a burning lamp passed between them; Genesis 15:9, Genesis 15:18. So the covenant made with the Hebrews in the wilderness was ratified in the same manner; Exodus 24:6, seq. Thus, in Jeremiah 34:18, God speaks of the “men that had transgressed his covenant which they had made before him when they cut the calf in twain, and passed between the parts thereof;” see also Zechariah 9:11. Indeed all the Jewish sacrifices were regarded as a ratification of the covenant. It was never supposed that it was ratified or confirmed in a proper manner without such a sacrifice. Instances occur, indeed, in which there was no sacrifice offered when a covenant was made between man and man (see Genesis 23:16; Genesis 24:9; Deuteronomy 25:7, Deuteronomy 25:9; Rth 4:7 ), but these cases do not establish the point that the custom did not prevail of ratifying a covenant with God by the blood of sacrifice.

Further; the terms used in the Hebrew in regard to making a covenant with God, prove that it was understood to be ratified by sacrifice, or that the death of a victim was necessary כּרת ברית kaarat beriyt“to cut a covenant” - the word כרת kaaratmeaning “to cut; to cut off; to cut down,” and the allusion being to the victims offered in sacrifice, and “cut in pieces” on occasion of entering into a covenant; see Genesis 15:10; Jeremiah 34:18-19. The same idea is expressed in the Greek phrases ὅρκια τέμνειν , τέμνειν σπονδάς horkia temneintemnein spondasand in the Latin “icere foedus;” compare Virgil, Aeneid viii. 941.

Et caesa jungebant foedera porca.

These considerations show that it was the common sentiment, alike among the Hebrews and the pagan, that a covenant with God was to be ratified or sanctioned by sacrifice; and the statement of Paul here is, that the death of a sacrificial victim was needful to confirm or ratify such a covenant with God. It was not secure, or confirmed, until blood was thus shed. This was well understood among the Hebrews, that all their covenant transactions with God were to be ratified by a sacrifice; and Paul says that the same principle must apply to any arrangement between God and human beings. Hence, he goes on to show that it was “necessary” that a sacrificial victim should die in the new covenant which God established by man through the Mediator; see Hebrews 9:23. This I understand to be the sum of the argument here. It is not that every contract made between man and man was to be ratified or confirmed by a sacrifice - for the apostle is not discussing that point; but it is that every similar transaction with God must be based on such a sacrifice, and that no covenant with him could be complete without such a sacrifice. This was provided for in the ancient dispensation by the sacrifices which were constantly offered in their worship; in the new, by the one great sacrifice offered on the cross. Hence, all our approaches to God are based on the supposition of such a sacrifice, and are, as it were, ratified over it. We ratify or confirm such a covenant arrangement, not by offering the sacrifice anew, but by recalling it in a proper manner when we celebrate the death of Christ, and when in view of his cross we solemnly pledge ourselves to be the Lord‘s.

The death of the testator - According to our common version, “the death of him who makes a will.” But if the views above expressed are correct, this should be rendered the “covenanter,” or “the victim set apart to be slain.” The Greek will admit of the translation of the word διαθέμενος diathemenos“diathemenos,” by the word “covenanter,” if the word διαθήκη diathēkē- “diatheke” - is rendered “covenant.” To such a translation here as would make the word refer “to a victim slain in order to ratify a covenant,” it is objected that the “word has no such meaning anywhere else. It must either mean a “testator,” or a “contractor,” that is, one of two covenanting parties. But where is the death of a person covenanting made necessary in order to confirm the covenant?” Prof. Stuart, in loc. To this objection I remark respectfully:

(1) that the word is never used in the sense of “testator” either in the New Testament or the Old, unless it be here. It is admitted of the word διαθήκη diathēkē- by Prof. Stuart himself, that it never means “will,” or “testament,” unless it be here, and it is equally true of the word used here that it never means one “who makes a will.” If, therefore, it should be that a meaning quite uncommon, or wholly unknown in the usage of the Scriptures, is to be assigned to the use of the word here, why should it be “assumed” that that unusual meaning should be that of “making a will,” and not that of confirming a covenant?

(2) if the apostle used the word διαθήκη diathēkē- “diatheke” - in the sense of “a covenant” in this passage, nothing is more natural than that he should use the corresponding word διαθέμενος diathemenos- “diathemenos” - in the sense of that by which a covenant was ratified. He wished to express the idea that the covenant was always ratified by the death of a victim - a sacrifice of an animal under the Law, and the sacrifice of the Redeemer under the gospel - and no word would so naturally convey that idea as the one from which the word “covenant” was derived. It is to be remembered also that there was no word to express that thought. Neither the Hebrew nor the Greek furnished such a word; nor have we now any word to express that thought, but are obliged to use circumlocution to convey the idea. The word “covenanter” would not do it; nor the words “victim,” or “sacrifice.” We can express the idea only by some phrase like this - “the victim set apart to be slain to ratify the covenant.” But it was not an unusual thing for the apostle Paul to make use of a word in a sense quite unique to himself; compare 2 Corinthians 4:17.

(3) the word διατίθημι diatithēmi- properly means, “to place apart, to set in order, to arrange.” It is rendered “appoint” in Luke 22:29; “made,” and “make,” with reference to a covenant, Acts 3:25; Hebrews 8:10; Hebrews 10:16. It occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, except in the passage before us. The idea of “placing, laying, disposing, arranging,” etc., enters into the word - as to place wares or merchandise for sale, to arrange a contract, &c; see “Passow.” The fair meaning of the word here may be, whatever goes to arrange, dispose, or settle the covenant, or to make the covenant secure and firm. If the reference be to a compact, it cannot relate to one of the contracting parties, because the death of neither is necessary to confirm it. But it may refer to that which was well-known as an established opinion, that a covenant with God was ratified only by a sacrifice. Still, it must be admitted that this use of the word is not found elsewhere, and the only material question is, whether it is to be presumed that the apostle would employ a word in a single instance in a special signification, where the connection would not render it difficult to be understood. This must be admitted, that he might, whichever view is taken of the meaning of this passage, for on the supposition that he refers here to a will, it is conceded that he uses the word in a sense which does not once occur elsewhere either in the Old Testament or the New. It seems to me, therefore, that the word here may, without impropriety, be regarded as referring to “the victim that was slain in order to ratify a covenant with God,” and that the meaning is, that such a covenant was not regarded as confirmed until the victim was slain. It may be added that the authority of Michaelis, Macknight, Doddridge, Bloomfield, and Dr. JohnP. Wilson, is a proof that such an interpretation cannot be a very serious departure from the proper use of a Greek word.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/hebrews-9.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

For where a testament is, there must of necessity be the death of him that made it. For a testament is of force where there hath been death: for it doth never avail while he that made it liveth.

THE TESTAMENT (WILL) OF CHRIST

The word "testament" in these two verses comes from the same word translated "covenant" everywhere else in Hebrews; and since there are some facts related to wills that do not relate to covenants, the commentators have generally been at a loss to know how to treat this interjection of a drastically new thought. Of course, the Greek word from which both of these renditions comes means either; and the author of Hebrews is well within his rights to make a digression of the kind noted here. His doing so strongly reminds one of Paul and his custom of seizing upon a word or a phrase for a parenthetical development of it apart from his main line of thought. This appears to be exactly the case here. The parenthetical thought that flashed upon the author's mind came as a result of that other meaning of the word for "covenant" which he had been using; and it was suggested by the mention of a death that had "taken place" for the redemption of the sins under the law. Then, departing for the moment from his main argument, and seizing upon the alternate meaning of the word, which is "testament," he made an independent argument for the absolute necessity of Christ's death within the framework of the alternate meaning.

Since Christ is the heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2), people may inherit, therefore, only if Christ died; but he did die. And think of the benefits that accrue to people in this. Lenski has a perceptive paragraph on this subject, as follows:

It becomes still clearer here why Christ is called the mediator of a testament. God made him the Heir, and thus through him alone who owns everything, through him and through his death as the testator, do we inherit as heirs. Although all comes from God, none of it reaches us save through Christ as the medium (Mediator), the middle link, the testator for us, whose death gives to us, his heirs, the great eternal inheritance ... It is misleading to press these human terms, which convey the divine facts, so that these facts become blurred and distorted. The human testator dies and remains dead, his property is conveyed to heirs who in turn die; successive generations of heirs step into the shoes of their predecessors. Our Mediator-Testator died and thereby made us joint-heirs with him, heirs who never die so that their inheritance might be lost to them. The word "eternal" which is used in verses Hebrews 9:2,4 and Hebrews 9:15 is not repeated and emphasized for naught.[14]

The use of the word "testament" in these verses is the source of an incidental revelation for which people may be truly thankful. It furnishes an independent view of the entire concept of eternal life in Christ, a view which makes the eternal inheritance to be, in a sense, on a parity with receiving a bequest from some person who has left it in his will for another. Such is the import of the word "testament" as used here. The terms of any will become binding only upon the death of the person making it; and they do not limit or impede in any way the free use of the testator's property BEFORE his death. This sublime fact is precisely the reason why no person may claim forgiveness of his sins through a mere act of faith, as did a certain woman (Luke 7:50), or like the thief on the cross, for example. The testator had not then died; and the conditions under which it was prescribed how all people might inherit were not announced as yet. The value of this in understanding the preconditions of salvation is past all calculation. If people would inherit through Christ, who is the heir of all things, let them discover what his plenary representatives, the apostles of Christ, announced after his death as the binding terms of the testament, and obey them, meet those conditions; nor should they rely upon isolated and individual instances of Christ's redemptive favor in which, prior to his death, salvation was conferred upon persons such as the thief on the cross and the certain woman already mentioned. To make such prior examples (prior to his death) any solid basis for determining how people are saved now, after Christ's death, is a very hurtful error.

ENDNOTE:

[14] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Epistle of James (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1938), p. 207.


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/hebrews-9.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

For where a testament is,.... The covenant of grace, as administered under the Gospel dispensation, is a testament or will. The Jews have adopted the Greek word, here used, into their language, and pronounce it דייתיקי, and by it understand a dying man's last will and testamentF4T. Hieros. Peah, fol. 17. 4. & T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 152. 2. . Some of them make it to be of Hebrew derivation; as if it was said, דא תהי למיקם, "this shall be to confirm"F5T. Bab. Bava Metzia, fol. 19. 1. Maimon & Bartenora in Misn. Moed Katon, c. 3. sect. 3. & in Bava Metzia, c. 1. sect. 7. & in Bava Bathra, c. 8. sect. 6. , or this shall be stable and firm; though others own it to be the same with this Greek word διαθηκηF6Cohen de Lara Ir David, p. 30. . The covenant of grace, is properly a covenant to Christ, and a testament or will to his people: it is his and their Father's will, concerning giving them both grace and glory; it consists of many gifts and legacies; in it Christ is made heir of all things, and his people are made joint heirs with him; they are given to him as his portion; and they have all things pertaining to life and godliness bequeathed to them, even all spiritual blessings; the witnesses of it are Father, Son, and Spirit; and the seals of it are the blood of Christ, and the grace of the Spirit; and this is registered in the Scriptures by holy men as notaries; and is unalterable and immutable: and this being made,

there must also of necessity be the death of the testator; who is Christ; he has various parts in this will or testament; he is the surety and Mediator of it; and he is the executor of it; what is given in it, is first given to him, in order to be given to others; all things are put into his hands, and he has a power to give them to as many as the Father has given him; and here he is called the "testator": Christ, as God, has an equal right to dispose of the inheritance, both of grace and glory; and as Mediator, nothing is given without his consent; and whatever is given, is given with a view to his "death", and comes through it, and by virtue of it: hence there is a "necessity" of that, and that on the account of the divine perfections; particularly for the declaration of God's righteousness, or by reason of his justice; and also because of his purposes and decrees, which have fixed it, and of his promises, which are yea and amen in Christ, and are ratified by his blood, called therefore the blood of the covenant; and likewise on account of the engagements of Christ to suffer and die; as well as for the accomplishment of Scripture prophecies concerning it; and moreover, on account of the blessings which were to come to the saints through it, as a justifying righteousness, pardon of sin, peace and reconciliation, adoption and eternal life.


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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/hebrews-9.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

11 For where a testament [is], there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.

(11) A reason why the testament must be established by the death of the Mediator, because this testament has the condition of a testament or gift, which is made effective by death, and therefore that it might be effective, it must be that he that made the Testament, should die.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/hebrews-9.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

A general axiomatic truth; it is “a testament”; not the testament. The testator must die before his testament takes effect (Hebrews 9:17). This is a common meaning of the Greek noun {(diathece}. So in Luke 22:29, “I appoint (by testamentary disposition; the cognate Greek verb {(diatithemai}) unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me.” The need of death before the testamentary appointment takes effect, holds good in Christ‘s relation as MAN to us; Of course not in God‘s relation to Christ.

be — literally, “be borne”: “be involved in the case”; be inferred; or else, “be brought forward in court,” so as to give effect to the will. This sense (testament) of the Greek “{(diathece}” here does not exclude its other secondary senses in the other passages of the New Testament: (1) a covenant between two parties; (2) an arrangement, or disposition, made by God alone in relation to us. Thus, Matthew 26:28 may be translated, “Blood of the covenant”; for a testament does not require blood shedding. Compare Exodus 24:8 (covenant), which Christ quotes, though it is probable He included in a sense “testament” also under the Greek word diathece (comprehending both meanings, “covenant” and “testament”), as this designation strictly and properly applies to the new dispensation, and is rightly applicable to the old also, not in itself, but when viewed as typifying the new, which is properly a testament. Moses (Exodus 24:8) speaks of the same thing as [Christ and] Paul. Moses, by the term “covenant,” does not mean aught save one concerning giving the heavenly inheritance typified by Canaan after the death of the Testator, which he represented by the sprinkling of blood. And Paul, by the term “testament,” does not mean aught save one having conditions attached to it, one which is at the same time a covenant [Poli, Synopsis]; the conditions are fulfilled by Christ, not by us, except that we must believe, but even this God works in His people. Tholuck explains, as elsewhere, “covenant … covenant … mediating victim”; the masculine is used of the victim personified, and regarded as mediator of the covenant; especially as in the new covenant a MAN (Christ) took the place of the victim. The covenanting parties used to pass between the divided parts of the sacrificed animals; but, without reference to this rite, the need of a sacrifice for establishing a covenant sufficiently explains this verse. Others, also, explaining the Greek as “covenant,” consider that the death of the sacrificial victim represented in all covenants the death of both parties as unalterably bound to the covenant. So in the redemption-covenant, the death of Jesus symbolized the death of God (?) in the person of the mediating victim, and the death of man in the same. But the expression is not “there must be the death of both parties making the covenant,” but singular, “of Him who made (aorist, past time; not ‹of Him making‘) the testament.” Also, it is “death,” not “sacrifice” or “slaying.” Plainly, the death is supposed to be) past (aorist, “made”); and the fact of the death is brought (Greek) before court to give effect to the will. These requisites of a will, or testament, concur here: (1) a testator; (2) heirs; (3) goods; (4) the death of the testator; (5) the fact of the death brought forward in court. In Matthew 26:28 two other requisites appear: witnesses, the disciples; and a seal, the sacrament of the Lord‘s Supper, the sign of His blood wherewith the testament is pri)marily sealed. It is true the heir is ordinarily the successor of him who dies and so ceases to have the possession. B)ut in this case Christ comes to life again, and is Himself (including all that He hath), in the power of His now endless life, His people‘s inheritance; in His being Heir (Hebrews 1:2), they are heirs.


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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/hebrews-9.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

A testament (διατηκηdiathēkē). The same word occurs for covenant (Hebrews 9:15) and will (Hebrews 9:16). This double sense of the word is played upon also by Paul in Galatians 3:15. We say today “The New Testament” (Novum Testamentum) rather than “ The New Covenant.” Both terms are pertinent.

That made it (του διατεμενουtou diathemenou). Genitive of the articular second aorist middle participle of διατιτημιdiatithēmi from which διατηκηdiathēkē comes. The notion of will here falls in with κληρονομιαklēronomia (inheritance, 1 Peter 1:4) as well as with τανατοςthanatos (death).

Of force
(βεβαιαbebaia). Stable, firm as in Hebrews 3:6, Hebrews 3:14.

Where there hath been death
(επι νεκροιςepi nekrois). “In the case of dead people.” A will is only operative then.

For doth it ever avail while he that made it liveth?
(επει μη ποτε ισχυει οτε ζηι ο διατεμενοσepei mē pote ischuei hote zēi ho diathemenos). This is a possible punctuation with μη ποτεmē pote in a question (John 7:26). Without the question mark, it is a positive statement of fact. Aleph and D read τοτεtote (then) instead of ποτεpote The use of μηmē in a causal sentence is allowable (John 3:18, οτι μηhoti mē).


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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
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/hebrews-9.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

For where a testament is ( ὅπου γὰρ διαθήκη )

“The English Version has involved this passage in hopeless obscurity by introducing the idea of a testament and a testator.” This statement of Rendall (Epistle to the Hebrews, p. 159) is none too strong. That interpretation, however, is maintained by a very strong array of modern expositors. It is based upon κληρονομία inheritanceit being claimed that this word changes the whole current of thought. Hence it is said that the new covenant established by Christ is here represented as a testamentary disposition on his part, which could become operative in putting the heirs in possession of the inheritance only through the death of Christ. See Additional Note at the end of this chapter.

There must also of necessity be the death of the testator ( θάνατου ἀνάγκη φέρεσθαι τοῦ διαθεμένου )

Rend. it is necessary that the death of the institutor (of the covenant ) should be borne. With the rendering testament, φέρεσθαι is well-nigh inexplicable. If covenant the meaning is not difficult. If he had meant to say it is necessary that the institutor die, he might better have used γένεσθαι : “it is necessary that the death of the institutor take place ”; but he meant to say that it was necessary that the institutor die representatively; that death should be borne for him by an animal victim. If we render testament, it follows that the death of the testator himself is referred to, for which θάνατου φέρεσθαι is a very unusual and awkward expression.

Additional Note on Hebrews 9:16

Against the rendering testament for διαθήκη , and in favor of retaining covenant, are the following considerations:

(a) The abruptness of the change, and its interruption of the line of reasoning. It is introduced into the middle of a continuous argument, in which the new covenant is compared and contrasted with the Mosaic covenant (8:6-10:18).

(b) The turning-point, both of the analogy and of the contrast, is that both covenants were inaugurated and ratified by death: not ordinary, natural death, but sacrificial, violent death, accompanied with bloodshedding as an essential feature. Such a death is plainly indicated in Hebrews 9:15. If διαθήκη signifies testament, θάνατον deathin Hebrews 9:16must mean natural death without bloodshed.

(c) The figure of a testament would not appeal to Hebrews in connection with an inheritance. On the contrary, the idea of the κληρονομία was always associated in the Hebrew mind with the inheritance of Canaan, and that inheritance with the idea of a covenant. See Deuteronomy 4:20-23; 1 Chronicles 16:15-18; Psalm 105:8-11.

(d) In lxx, from which our writer habitually quotes, διαθήκη has universally the meaning of covenant. It occurs about 350 times, mostly representing בְּרִית, covenant. In the Apocryphal books it has the same sense, except in Exodus href="/desk/?q=ex+30:26&sr=1">Exodus 30:26; Numbers 14:44; 2 Kings 6:15; Jeremiah 3:16; Malachi 3:1; Luke 1:72, Acts 3:25; Acts 7:8. Also in N.T. quotations from the O.T., where, in its translation of the O.T., it uses foedus. See Jeremiah 31:31, cit. Hebrews 8:8. For διατιθέσθαι of making a covenant, see Hebrews 8:10; Acts 3:25; Hebrews 10:16.

(e) The ratification of a covenant by the sacrifice of a victim is attested by Genesis 15:10; Psalm 1:5; Jeremiah 34:18. This is suggested also by the phrase כָּרַֽת בְּרִֽת, to cut a covenant, which finds abundant analogy in both Greek and Latin. Thus we have ὅρκια τάμνειν tocut oaths, that is, to sacrifice a victim in attestation (Hom. Il. ii. 124; Od. xxiv. 483: Hdt. vii. 132). Similarly, σπονδὰς letus cut (make ) a league (Eurip. Hel. 1235): φίλια τέμνεσθαι tocement friendship by sacrificing a victim; lit. to cut friendship (Eurip. Suppl. 375). In Latin, foedus ferire to strike a league foedus ictum a ratified league, ratified by a blow (ictus ).

(f) If testament is the correct translation in Hebrews 9:16, Hebrews 9:17, the writer is fairly chargeable with a rhetorical blunder; for Hebrews 9:18ff. is plainly intended as a historical illustration of the propositions in Hebrews 9:16, Hebrews 9:17, and the illustration turns on a point entirely different from the matter illustrated. The writer is made to say, “A will is of no force until after the testator's death; therefore the first covenant was ratified with the blood of victims.

sa180


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Bibliography
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/hebrews-9.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.

I say by means of death; for where such a covenant is, there must be the death of him by whom it is confirmed - Seeing it is by his death that the benefits of it are purchased. It seems beneath the dignity of the apostle to play upon the ambiguity of the Greek word, as the common translation supposes him to do.


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Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/hebrews-9.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

A will, however fully executed, does not take effect until the death of the testator. The apostle takes occasion from this circumstance to represent the gospel as a will, made effective by the death of Christ, inasmuch as it was by his death that the blessings of salvation were sealed and secured.


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Bibliography
Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/hebrews-9.html. 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

16.For where a testament is, etc. Even this one passage is a sufficient proof, that this Epistle was not written in Hebrew; for ברית means in Hebrew a covenant, but not a testament; but in Greek , διαθήκη, includes both ideas; and the Apostle, alluding to its secondary meaning, holds that the promises should not have been otherwise ratified and valid, had they not been sealed by the death of Christ. And this he proves by referring to what is usually the case as to wills or testaments, the effect of which is suspended until the death of those whose wills they are.

The Apostle may yet seem to rest on too weak an argument, so that what he says may be easily disproved. For it may be said, that God made no testament or will under the Law; but it was a covenant that he made with the ancient people. Thus, neither from the fact nor from the name, can it be concluded that Christ’s death was necessary. For if he infers from the fact, that Christ ought to have died, because a testament is not ratified except by the death of the testator, the answer may be this, that |berit|, the word ever used by Moses, is a covenant made between those who are alive, and we cannot think otherwise of the fact itself. Now, as to the word used, he simply alluded, as I have already said, to the two meanings it has in Greek; he therefore dwells chiefly on the thing in itself. Nor is it any objection to say, that it was a covenant that God made with his people; for that very covenant bore some likeness to a testament, for it was ratified by blood. (152)

We must ever hold this truth, that no symbols have ever been adopted by God unnecessarily or unsuitably. And God in establishing the covenant of the law made use of blood. Then it was not such a contract, as they say, between the living, as did not require death. Besides, what rightly belongs to a testament is, that it begins to take effect after death. If we consider that the Apostle reasons from the thing itself, and not from the word, and if we bear in mind that he avowedly takes as granted what I have already stated, that nothing has been instituted in vain by God, there will be no great difficulty.

If anyone objects and says, that the heathens ratified covenants according to the other meaning by sacrifices; this indeed I admit to be true; but God did not borrow the rite of sacrificing from the practice of the heathens; on the contrary, all the heathen sacrifices were corruptions, which had derived their origin from the institutions of God. We must then return to the same point, that the covenant of God which was made with blood, may be fitly compared to a testament, as it is of the same kind and character.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/hebrews-9.html. 1840-57.

William Newell's Commentary on Romans and Revelation

For where (there is a) covenant, there must of necessity be brought the death of the one covenanting, vs. 17. (OT, death proceeding from one covenanting--genitive of definition.--Winer, Ed. vi, p198.) For a covenant has force over dead (persons or things), since it in no way has power when he is living who covenanted. The opening word, "For," of verse 16 must be governed, we see at once, by the "death" spoken of in verse 15: A death having taken place. Any reader of this page who is familiar with the King James, or Authorized Version of the New Testament, has also noticed that we are translating the Greek word diatheke, covenant, and not "testament" as does the Authorized Version. This we shall now explain and consider.

Two facts must be borne in mind in our examination of this word diatheke, covenant.

  1. The word "covenant" is confined, as are all other quotations and references in the book of Hebrews, to the definition and use already made of them by God in the Word of God. Therefore arguments concerning the use of diatheke in Greek or Roman literature have no bearing whatever.
  2. The word "covenant," or diatheke in Chapter 9:15-17 is evidently spoken of those covenants that have to do with relationships, communication, and dealings with the holy God, which of course are confirmed by shed blood: and therefore is the use of blood emphasized.

We are persuaded, therefore, that the change in translation of the Greek word diatheke from "covenant" (vss. 15, 20) to "testament" (vss. 16, 17), in the Authorized Version, is both incorrect and confusing. For the expression the first (covenant) of verse 18 simply continues the argument (the first covenant) of verse 15. We would commend to the student the unanswerable comment by Westcott (Hebrews, p. 298 ff.) We quote from this in the footnote below:

* "The Biblical evidence then, so far as it is clear, is wholly in favor of the sense of 'covenant,' with the necessary limitation of the sense of the word in connection with a Divine covenant ... The mention of the 'Inheritance' in vs. 15 does not appear to furnish any adequate explanation of a transition from the idea of 'Covenant' to that of 'Testament.' It is true that Christ has obtained an inheritance (1:4); and it is also true that He entered on the possession of it through death. But it cannot be said that He 'bequeathed' it to His people ... By union with Him they enjoy together with Him what is His. But He does not give them anything apart from Himself, It is also important in this respect to notice that the thought of the bequeathal of an inheritance by Christ to His people is not supported by any other passage of Scripture (not by Lk. 22:20) ... The conceptions of Christ as the 'Mediator of a Covenant,' and as a 'Testator,' the 'framer of a will,' are essentially distinct. A covenant is the disposition of things determined by God for man and brought about through Christ; a Testament would be the expression of Christ's own will as to what should be after His death. The thoughts are wholly different; and the idea of death is unable in itself to combine them.--Westcott in loc.

Nor am I at all persuaded that verses 16-17 constitute a parenthesis, as some say. For,

  1. The argument of verses 15 to 20 is continuous: the word diatheke being translated "covenant" in vs. 15, is called "the first" (covenant understood), in verse 18; and verse 18 begins with the word "Wherefore," or "Whence," and the word diatheke is translated "covenant" consequently in verse 20.
    Note that "For" in both verses 16 and 17, like "Wherefore" in Verse 18 and "For" in verse 19, closely connect the argument of the whole paragraph about a covenant. These verses cannot be set asunder.
  2. It is inconceivable that only the Epistle to the Hebrews should depart from the Old Testament use and meaning of the word "covenant" (used 17 times in Hebrews and 17 times in the rest of the New Testament), to a new and entirely different meaning of the word--a Graeco-Roman use, not a Biblical!
  3. Moreover, it is a "Mediator of a new covenant" the passage has been speaking of, and a "testament" (vs. 17) or "will" does not need a "mediator." A covenant in Scripture has a mediator, as Moses, the mediator of "the first" (vs. 18); and Christ, the Mediator of a new covenant.* A man who makes a will does not perforce execute its provisions!

The great Bible illustration of the word "covenant" is given in Exodus 24.

"(Moses) sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt-offerings and sacrificed peace-offerings of oxen unto Jehovah. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that Jehovah hath spoken will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold, the blood of the covenant, which Jehovah hath made with you concerning all these words" (Ex. 24:5-8).

* "With the utmost decision must we continue to protest against the introduction of 'testament' as the meaning of diatheko in verses 16, 17. It is needless, and it does violence to the continuity of our Author's argument. It is needless, as a patient consideration of Gen. 15:7,21, and Jer. 34:18-19, might have shown, where both parties to the Covenant are represented as dead to all change of mind; and it does violence to the argument of the present passage as the sudden jerk back to the covenant idea, which in that case is felt in vs. 18, all sufficiently shows: Whence not even the first apart from blood hath been consecrated. The first--what? 'Testament'? Nay! the first (that at Sinai) was not a testament but a covenant. Besides, as well said by the 'Speaker's Commentary' on Ch. 7:22, 'A testament no more requires a surety than it does a mediator' and on Ch. 9:15, 'The use of the term 'Mediator' shows that we have here to do with the Hebrew idea of a covenant, not with a Roman idea of a 'testament.' A mediator is the proper guardian of a covenant (see Gal. 3:15-20), but has no place in regard to a testament. Neither, again, does the death of a testator possess any of the sacrificial character which is referred to in vss. 15-22."--Rotherham, pp138-9.

"There is not a trace of the meaning testament in the Greek O.T."--Vincent.

See also the able and searching rejection of the word "testament" in Kendrick's edition of Olshausen, pp512-17.

This, mark, is the example of the inauguration of a Biblical covenant, and it is a Biblical covenant only which is before Us throughout Hebrews 9 and 10.

*A covenant is between two or more parties.

A covenant states the conditions of relationship or action.

The Old Covenant made Divine blessing dependent upon human obedience. The New Covenant proceeds wholly from God, and is based entirely upon Christ's work.

Note. "the blood of the covenant ... Heb. 9:20; and "The Lord Jesus ... said, This cup is the new covenant in My blood" (1 Cor. 11:23-25).

Note that it was the blood, not of the Israelites, who were entering into the covenant; nor of Moses, a Mediator of that covenant, but of appointed animals, that was shed: death proceeding from the covenanting one. The one great point is that a covenant with Jehovah could not be dedicated or inaugurated apart from bloodshedding.


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Bibliography
Newell, William. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". William Newell's Commentary on Romans, Hebrews and Revelation. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wnc/hebrews-9.html. 1938.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.

Ver. 16. For where a testament is] {See Trapp "Hebrews 8:6"} Here the testator is Christ, heirs the saints, legacies the gifts of the Spirit, executor the Holy Ghost, witnesses apostles, martyrs, &c.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/hebrews-9.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Hebrews 9:16. For where a testament is, &c.— "For where a covenant is engaged in, answerable to that which typified this of which I now speak,—to make it firm and binding, there must be necessarily something done, which implies the death of the covenanting party." Nothing can be more foreign to the apostle's subject than to speak of testaments and testators, as he is made to do in this and the next verse, and then to return again, Hebrews 9:18 to the subject of covenants, upon which he had been treating. But let us consider what was the fact, that we may understand, or at least get some light into, this very difficult portion of scripture. A covenant is proposed by God the Father to mankind by a Mediator, Jesus Christ, his own eternal Son; wherein a promise of an eternal inheritance is made to man, provided he is ready and willing to comply with the conditions laid before him: there had been a covenant made by God to the Jewish nation, which engaged to them a present temporal happiness in the land of Canaan, provided they observed the law given to them. Here then a second covenant is proposed by God, not offering a present, but a future good; not a temporal, but an eternal happiness: it is a covenant offered by God,—a Being omnipotent, immortal, uncontrolable,—to a series of beings weak, frail, infirm, but capable of subsisting after death. Christ, as the eternal Word of God made flesh, assuming human nature and uniting it to his Godhead, is not the party that enters into covenant, but he is the Mediator between the parties covenanting. God the Father is the party on one side, and he offers peace through the blood of his Son: man is ο διαθεμενος, the party with whom the covenant is made; who is through grace to accept and fulfil the conditions, namely, to believe in, love, and obey Christ through the Spirit of God. Christ is the Person who acts between God the Father and offending man, and brings the conditions of our salvation; but offers themto us through the infinite merit of his death and intercession, and with the promise of his Spirit, without whom we could not in the least degree comply with the conditions, or be in the least degree sanctified and prepared for glory.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/hebrews-9.html. 1801-1803.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

16.] For (justification of θανάτου γενομένου, by an appeal to common usage) where a testament is (it is quite in vain to attempt to deny the testamentary sense of διαθήκη in this verse. Many have made the attempt: e. g. Codurcus, in a long excursus, which may be seen in Critici Sacri, vol. vii. part 2, fol. 1067 ff.: Whitby in loc., Seb. Schmidt, Michaelis, al., and recently Ebrard and Hofmann. As these recent expositors have written with the others before them, it may be well to give an account of their views of the passage. Ebrard understands it thus: “Wherever sinful man will enter into a covenant with the holy God, the man must first die,—must first atone for his guilt by death (or must put in a substitute for himself).” This he gives as the summary of his argumentation. But, as Hofmann asks, where does he find one word of this in the general assertion of the Writer? The text speaks axiomatically of something which every one knows in common life. Ebrard interprets theologically: by a declaration which it requires a theologian to accept. The Writer speaks in the abstract—of all διαθῆκαι whatever: Ebrard interprets in the concrete—of one particular set of διαθῆκαι. It is true, Eb. attempts to anticipate this objection, by saying that from the context, every one would know what sort of διαθήκη was meant. But this does not meet it in the least degree. Our verse is a perfectly general axiom, extending over all διαθῆκαι, in whatsoever sense the word be taken. Hofmann on the other hand rejects (Schriftb. ii. 1. 302 ff.) both meanings, testament and covenant, and maintains that of ordinance, disposition, understanding that disposition to extend to the whole property. Then, he says (see also Weissagung u. Erfüllung, ii. 165), “This idea of necessity implies that he must die who makes such a disposition of his whole property: because, as long as he lives, he can be always adding to his property, so that this disposition ( διαθήκη) cannot be meant to be used of the time while the disposer is alive.” But this, though approaching nearer the true meaning, is just as futile as the other. Why may not a man yet living make such a disposition? And if it cannot be made till death, wherein does it in reality differ from a testament? It would be quite impossible to follow out the various argumentations by which the testamentary sense has been sought to be evaded. It will be far more profitable for us to endeavour to substantiate that which I believe to be the only admissible acceptation. And this I will do by starting from the word itself about which all the question is raised. διαθήκη, from διατιθέναι, ‘disponere,’ διατίθεσθαι, ‘disponere sibi,’ regards, in ordinary Greek usage, that disposition of a man’s property which he makes in prospect of his death, and signifies, 1. a will or testament. So in Plato, Legg. xi. p. 926 B, ὃς ἂν διαθήκην γράφῃ τὰ αὐτοῦ διατιθέμενος, and in reff.: in Demosth. 1136. 12, τὴν διαθήκην, ἣν ἂν γνησίων ὄντων παίδων ὁ πατὴρ διάθηται, ἐᾶν ἀποθάνωσιν οἱ παῖδες πρὶν ἡβῆσαι, κυρίαν εἶναι, and al. On the other hand, the word is by no means tied to this its more usual meaning. The general one, of a disposition of any kind, is sometimes found applied to other circumstances than those at the close of life. So Aristoph. Av. 439, where Peisthetærus says, μὰ τὸν ἀπόλλω ʼ γὼ μὲν οὔ, ἣν μὴ διαθῶνταί γʼ οἵδε διαθήκην ἐμοί, … μήτε δάκνειν τούτους ἐμὲ κ. τ. λ.: where it evidently means a covenant, an agreement. And in this sense, either where there are two distinct parties, or where one only arranges or ordains a ‘dispositio,’ do we find the word most often used in the LXX and N. T. In the former sense, 2. of a covenant, with two agreeing parties, it is not so frequent as in the latter: but we find it Genesis 21:27; Genesis 21:32, διέθεντο ἀμφότεροι διαθήκην: in Job 40:23 (Job 41:4) of Leviathan, θήσεται δὲ μετὰ σοῦ διαθήκην: 2 Kings 3:12; Joshua 9:6; Joshua 9:11 al. fr. The other sense, 3. that of a disposition or ordinance made by God πρός τινα, or μετά τινος, is the most ordinary one in the LXX. To it may be referred almost all the passages where in a loose sense of the word we in English render ‘covenant:’ e. g. Genesis 6:18; Genesis 9:9 &c.; Genesis 15:18; and a hundred other places. In this latter sense it is that the word has come to be used absolutely and technically as in ἡ κιβωτὸς τῆς διαθήκης, ἡ διαθήκη κυρίου, &c.: and in the quotation in our ch. Hebrews 8:8 ff.

Now, having these there leading senses of the word before us, we are to enquire, which of them our Writer is likely to have intended when he wrote as a general axiom, ὅπου διαθήκη, θάνατον ἀνάγκη φέρεσθαι τοῦ διαθεμένου. It is obvious that in no general axiomatic sense can it be predicated of a covenant, or of an ordinance. There may be particular instances where a death (setting aside for a moment τοῦ διαθεμένου) might have been the requisite ratification of a covenant, or result of an ordinance: but such particular cases are clearly not here in question. Only when we recur to sense (1), that of a testament, can it be true, that where a διαθήκη is, there must of necessity be death, and that, the death τοῦ διαθεμένου, of him who has made the testament. And if it be objected to this, that a testament may exist many years before the death of the testator, the answer is easy, that the Writer here detines his own meaning of ὅπου διαθήκη, when he says διαθήκη γὰρ ἐπὶ νεκροῖς βεβαία: viz. that the document in question does not in reality become a διαθήκη, a disposition, till it is of force, till things are disposed by it. I believe then it will be found that we must at all hazards accept the meaning testament here, as being the only one which will in any way meet the plain requirements of the verse) there is necessity that the death ( θάνατον is prefixed before ἀνάγκη, as carrying the whole weight of emphasis, and is for this reason also anarthrous) of him who made it (the testator, as E. V., but it is important to mark that it is διαθεμένου, not διατιθεμένου, as it ought to be on the interpretation of Ebr. al. In the meaning, Christ is the διαθέμενος: and this agrees wonderfully with St. Luke’s manner of speaking in that text which is in fact the key-text to this: κἀγὼ διατίθεμαι ὑμῖν καθὼς διέθετό μοι ὁ πατήρ μου βασιλείαν, Luke 22:29. There the great and primary διαθέμενος is the Father, who is not here in question, as neither is His διαθήκη with His Son: but as regards us, the διαθέμενος is Christ; to whom alone, as human, the axiom, spoken of human relations, is applicable, and not to the divine Father. And when Ebrard insists on the former of these facts, and altogether omits noticing the second, saying that according to our interpretation God Himself must have died, we can only marvel at this fresh instance of the inconceivable rashness and carelessness which unfortunately characterize his spirited and clever commentary) be implied (it is not easy to express the exact sense of φέρεσθαι here. For we must remember, 1. that we have had θανάτου γενομένου in Hebrews 9:15, quite far enough off to prevent it being probable that φέρεσθαι is a mere rhetorical elegance to avoid repeating γενέσθαι, and inducing us to think that some meaning different from γενέσθαι is here intended: even could it be shewn that φέρεσθαι could bear to be rendered = γενέσθαι, which I am not aware that it has been: 2. that in looking for a sense for φέρεσθαι, we must be careful not to give too pregnant or emphatic an one, seeing that it holds a very insignificant and unemphatic place in the sentence. This being premised, I believe the most suitable sense will be found in such phrases as πάσας αἰτίας φέρειν, to allege all grounds, Demosth. p. 1328. 22; παραδείγματα φέρειν, to produce examples, Polyb. xvii. 13. 7; φέρειν τινὶ τοὺς ἀπολογισμούς, to make one’s apologies to, id. i. 32. 4. And of these I would take ‘alleged,’ ‘carried in to the matter,’ in fact, ‘implied,’ which seems the best word: he who speaks of διαθήκη, ( ἅμα) φέρει, carries in to, involves in, that assertion, the death of the διαθέμενος. On the logical connexion, see below):


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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/hebrews-9.html. 1863-1878.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Hebrews 9:16. διαθήκη) testament. This is the peculiar force of the Greek word, as compared with (above, præ) the Hebrew ברית . The article omitted agrees with the general sentiment expressed, as in Galatians 3:15.— φέρεσθαι) be shown, or made good, fulfilled (præstari). The Greek words, φέρεσθαι, προσφέρεσθαι, Hebrews 9:14, allude to each other.— τοῦ διαθεμένου, of the testator) Christ is the testator in respect of us. This agrees with the words of the Lord before His death; Luke 22:29.


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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/hebrews-9.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

For where a testament is: for gives the reason of the Mediator’s death, even the putting the called into the possession of the bequeathed inheritance, demonstrated by a common, natural law in all nations of the testament’s effect on the testator’s death; a testament being a disposition by will nuncupative, or written, of either goods or lands, which are the person’s own, to be the right and possession of others after his death, whom he nominateth in it: such in proportion is the new covenant, where God gives freely all spiritual good things with a heavenly inheritance, as legacies to all his called ones in Christ, by this last and best will and testament of his, written in his Scripture instrument, witnessed by the prophets and apostles, sealed by the two sacraments, especially the Lord’s supper, Luke 22:20.

There must also of necessity be the death of the testator; he who maketh a testament by the law of nature, as of nations, must die before the legatees have any profit by the will; the son and heir inherits not but on the father’s death; then is the testament firm and valid, the time being come for the heir’s inheriting, and for the will’s execution, it being now unalterable; the necessity of which is cleared, Hebrews 9:17.


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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/hebrews-9.html. 1685.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

16. ὅπου γὰρ διαθήκη. In these two verses (16, 17), and these only, διαθήκη is used in its Greek and Roman sense of “a will,” and not in its Hebrew sense of “a covenant.” The sudden and momentary change in the significance of the word explains itself, for he has just spoken of an inheritance, and of the necessity for a death. It was therefore quite natural that he should be reminded of the fact that just as the Old Covenant (διαθήκη) required the constant infliction of death upon the sacrificed victims, and therefore (by analogy) necessitated the death of Christ under the New, so the word διαθήκη in its other sense of “Will” or “Testament” (which was by this epoch familiar also to the Jews) involved the necessity of death, because a will assigns the inheritance of a man who is dead. This may be called “a mere play on words”; but such a play on words is perfectly admissible in itself; just as we might speak of the “New Testament” (meaning the Book) as “a testament” (meaning “a will”) sealed by a Redeemer’s blood. An illustration of this kind was peculiarly consonant with the deep mystic significance attached by the Alexandrian thinkers to the sounds and the significance of words. Philo also avails himself of both meanings of διαθήκη (De Nom. Mutat. § 6; De Sacr. Abel, Opp. I. 586, 172). The passing illustration which thus occurs to the writer does not indeed explain or attempt to explain the eternal necessity why Christ must die; he leaves that in all its awful mystery, and merely gives prominence to the fact that the death was necessary, by saying that since under the Old Covenant death was required, so the New Covenant was inaugurated by a better death; and since a “Will” supposes that some one has died, so this “Will,” by which we inherit, involves the necessity that Christ must die. The Old Covenant could not be called “a Will” in any ordinary sense; but the New Covenant was, by no remote analogy, the Will and Bequest of Christ.

φέρεσθαι. Wherever there is a will the supposition that the maker of the will has died is implied, or legally involved (φέρεσθαι, constare).


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"Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/hebrews-9.html. 1896.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

16. For—Assuming this beautiful view of the covenant as a testament, or bequest by will, the death of the testator is required, as by Jesus fulfilled.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/hebrews-9.html. 1874-1909.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Hebrews 9:16. And it is a covenant—with all the requisite validity. For where a covenant is, there must also be (brought in—or, there is necessarily implied) the death of the covenanting victim.


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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/hebrews-9.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Hebrews 9:16. ὅπου γὰρ διαθήκη … The meaning of these words is doubtful. In the LXX διαθήκη occurs about 280 times and in all but four instances translates בְרִית, covenant. In classical and Hellenistic Greek, however, it is the common word for “will” or “testament” (see especially The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, Grenfell and Hunt, Part I., 105, etc., where the normal meaning of the word appears also from the use of ἀδιάθετος for “intestate” and μεταδιατίθεσθαι for “to alter a will”). Accordingly it has been supposed by several interpreters that the writer, taking advantage of the double meaning of διαθήκη, at this point introduces an argument which applies to it in the sense of “will” or “testament,” but not in the sense of “covenant”; as if he said, “where a testamentary disposition of property is made, this comes into force only on the decease of the testator”. θάνατον ἀνάγκη φέρεσθαι τοῦ διαθεμένου “it is necessary that the death of him who made the disposition be adduced”. On the very common omission of the copula in the third singular indicative see Buttmann, p. 136. φέρεσθαι, “necesse est afferri testimonia de morte testatoris” (Wetstein). For passages establishing its use as a term of the courts for the production of evidence, etc., see Field in loc. and especially Appian, De Bell. Civil. ii. 143, διαθῆκαι f1δὲ τοῦ καίσαρος ὤφθησαν φερόμεναι. (See also Eisner in loc.) φέρειν is apparently even used for “to register” in the Oxy. Papyri, Part II., 244. The reason of this necessity is given in Hebrews 9:17. διαθήκη γὰρ ἐπὶ νεκ ροῖς βεβαία … “for a testament is of force with reference to dead people, since it is never of any force when the testator is alive”. On this interpretation the words mean that before the inheritance, alluded to in Hebrews 9:15, could become the possession of those to whom it had been promised, Christ must die. He is thus represented as a testator. The illustration from the general law relating to wills or testaments extends only to the one point that Christ’s people could inherit only on condition of Christ’s death. The reason of Christ’s death receives no illustration. He did not die merely to make room for the heir. The objections to this interpretation are (1) the constant Biblical usage by which, with one doubtful exception in Galatians 3, διαθήκη stands for “covenant,” not for “will”. On this point see the strong statement of Hatch, Essays in Bibl. Greek, p. 48. “There can be little doubt that the word must be invariably taken in this sense of “covenant” in the N.T., and especially in a book which is so impregnated with the language of the LXX as the epistle to the Hebrews”. (2) His argument regarding covenants receives no help from usages which obtain in connection with testaments which are not covenants. The fact that both could be spoken of under the same name shows that they were related in some way; but presumably the writer had in view things and not merely words. To adduce the fact that in the case of wills the death of the testator is the condition of validity, is, of course, no proof at all that a death is necessary to make a covenant valid. (3) The argument of Hebrews 9:18 is destroyed if we understand Hebrews 9:16-17 of wills; for in this verse it is the first covenant that is referred to.

But is it possible to retain the meaning “covenant”? Westcott, Rendall, Hatch, Moulton and others think it is possible. To support his argument, proving the necessity of Christ’s death, the writer adduces the general law that he who makes a covenant does so at the expense of life. What is meant becomes plain in the 18th verse, for in the covenant there alluded to, the covenanting people were received into covenant through death. That covenant only became valid ἐπὶ νεκροῖς over the dead bodies of the victims slain as representing the people. Whatever this substitutionary death may have meant, it was necessary to the ratification of the covenant. The sacrifices may have been expiatory, indicating that all old debts and obligations were cancelled and that the covenanters entered into this covenant as clean and new men; or they may have meant that the terms of the covenant were immutable; or that the people died to the past and became wholly the people of God. In any case the dead victims were necessary, and without them, χωρὶς αἵματος, the covenant was not inaugurated or ratified. Great light has been thrown on this passage by Dr. Trumbull in his Blood Covenant, in which he shows the universality of that form of compact and the significance of the blood. The rite of interchanging blood or tasting one another’s blood, indicates that the two are bound in one life and must be all in all to one another. On the whole, this interpretation is to be preferred. Certainly it connects much better with what follows. For having shown that by dead victims all covenants are ratified, the writer proceeds ὅθεν οὐδʼ πρώτη χωρὶς ἅματος ἐνκεκαίνισται, “wherefore not even the first,”—although imperfect and temporary—“was inaugurated without blood,” i.e., without death. [The perfect here as elsewhere in Hebrews is scarcely distinguishable from the aorist.] Proof that this statement regarding the first covenant is correct he forthwith gives in Hebrews 9:19-20.

Hebrews 9:19. λαληθείσης γὰρ πάσης ἐντολῆς.… “For when Moses had spoken to the people every commandment of the law,” this being the needful preliminary, that the people might clearly understand the obligations they assumed on entering the covenant, he then took the blood of the calves and the goats, etc. In Exodus 24:3 ff., an account is given of the inauguration of the first covenant. To that narrative certain additions of no importance are here made. In Exodus no mention is made of goats, only of μοσχάρια. (See Westcott on this discrepancy.) Probably this addition is due to an echo of Hebrews 9:12-13. Water, which was added to the blood to prevent coagulation or possibly as a symbol of cleansing; (cf. John 19:34; 1 John 5:6) scarlet wool, κόκκινος, so called from κόκκος “the grain or berry of the ilex coccifera” used in dyeing (cf. Leviticus 14:4) and the hyssop or wild marjoram on which the wool was tied, are all added as associated with sacrifice in general, and all connected with the blood and the sprinkling. ἐράντισεν here takes the place of the κατεσκέδασε of Exodus and the action is not confined to the people as in the original narrative but includes αὐτὸ τὸ βιβλίον, the book itself, that is, even the book in which Moses had written the words of the Lord, the terms of the covenant. Everything connected with the covenant bore the mark of blood, of death. Again, in Hebrews 9:20, instead of the ἰδοὺ of the LXX, which literally renders the Hebrew we have τοῦτο τὸ αἶμα κ. τ. λ., a possible echo of our Lord’s words in instituting the new covenant, and instead of διέθετο of Exodus 24:8 we have ἐνετείλατο corresponding with the ἐντολή of Hebrews 9:19.


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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/hebrews-9.html. 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

For where there is a testament, the death of the testator, &c. The same Greek word, corresponding to the Hebrew word Berith, is often used both in the books of the old and new Scriptures. The ancient Latin interpreter puts for it testamentum, a testament: but others would rather have the Hebrew and Greek word to signify any agreement, bargain, alliance, or covenant, which last word is generally put in the English Protestant translations, followed also by Mr. N. We do not deny but the Hebrew and Greek word have this signification, but not exclusively: this place of St. Paul shews evidently that they also signify what both in Latin and English is called a testament or last will, which is only of force by the death of the testator. The Protestants, therefore, here find themselves obliged to translate testament, contrary to their custom, and to apply this word not only to the promises and blessings God made to Christians, of which Christ is the mediator, and which were confirmed by his blood and by his death, but also to the former alliance and promises or blessings God made to the Israelites, when he chose them to be his elect people, and gave them his law and his commandments under Moses. It is true God is immortal in his own nature, cannot die, and therefore cannot make a testament that shall be confirmed by his own death. But as for the new alliance, or New Testament, as here it must be called, it was confirmed by the death of the Son of God; that is, of God made man, by which it is true to say that God died for us, though he did not die, nor could die, as God. And as for the former alliance, or first testament, as it is called here, (ver. 18.) that, says St. Paul, (which was only a figure of the second or new testament) was not made nor ratified without the blood of so many victims as used to be offered and sacrificed. (Witham)


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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/hebrews-9.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

there must, &c. = it is necessary that the death . . . be brought in.

testator = appointed (victim). Greek. diatithemi. See Hebrews 8:10.


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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/hebrews-9.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.

An axiomatic truth; "a (not 'the') testament." The testator must die before his testament takes effect (Hebrews 9:17) [a common meaning of diatheekee (Greek #1242)]. So Luke 22:29, "I appoint [by testamentary disposition: the cognate diatitheemai] unto you a kingdom," etc. The need of death before the testamentary appointment takes effect holds good only in Christ's relation as MAN to us.

Be , [ feresthai (Greek #5342)] - 'be borne;' 'be involved in the case;' or else 'be brought forward in court,' to give effect to the will. [This sense (testament) here does not exclude other secondary senses of diathece in the New Testament:

(1) A covenant between two parties;

(2) An arrangement made by God alone in relation to us.

Thus, Matthew 26:28, "blood of the covenant:" for a testament does not require blood shedding. Compare Exodus 24:8, covenant which Christ quotes, though probably He included "testament" also under diathece, as this designation strictly applies to the new dispensation, and is applicable to the old also, not in itself, but viewed as typifying the new.] Moses speaks of the same thing as Paul. Moses, by "covenant," means one giving the heavenly inheritance (typified by Canaan) after the testator's death, which he represented by the sprinkling of blood Paul, by "testament," means one having conditions, and so being a covenant (Poli, 'Synopsis'): the conditions are fulfilled by Christ, not by us; we must indeed believe; but even this God works in His people. Tholuck, 'covenant ... covenant ... mediating victim:' the masculine used of the victim regarded as mediator of the covenant: especially as in the new covenant a MAN (Christ) was the victim. The covenanting parties used to pass between the divided parts of the sacrificed animal; but, without reference to this, the need of a sacrifice for establishing a covenant suffices. Others consider that the death of the victim represented the death of both parties as unalterably bound to the covenant. So in the redemption covenant, Jesus' death symbolized the death of God (?) in the person of the mediating victim, and also the death of man. But it is not, 'there must be the death of both parties making the covenant,' but singular, 'of Him who made [aorist, diathemenou (Greek #1303): not "of Him making"] the testament.' Also, it is "death," not 'sacrifice' or 'slaying' The death is supposed past: the fact of the death is brought forward to give effect to the will. These requisites of a testament concur:

(1) A testator;

(2) Heir;

(3) Goods;

(4) The testator's death;

(5) The fact of the death brought forward.

In Matthew 26:28, two other requisites appear: witnesses, the disciples; a seal, the sacrament of the Lord's supper, the sign of His blood wherewith the testament is sealed. The heir is ordinarily the successor of him who dies, and so ceases to have possession. But Christ comes to life again, and is Himself (including all that He had), in the power of His now endless life, His peoples inheritance; in His being Heir (Hebrews 1:2), they are heirs.


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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/hebrews-9.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers


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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/hebrews-9.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
be
or, be brought in.

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/hebrews-9.html.

The Bible Study New Testament

Where there is a will. The same Greek word means both covenant and will. Now the explanation shifts to the probation of a will. "To show why Christ had to die to make the New Covenant possible, I remind you that a will does not go into effect until the man who made it dies."


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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". "The Bible Study New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/hebrews-9.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans

For where a testament Isaiah , there must also of necessity he the death of the testator.

Where a testament Isaiah , there is of necessity the death of the testator. It is true that a testament, or last will, is liable to be altered so long as the testator liveth; but there may be a valid testament executed and in force for years while the testator survives. But we have already seen, and shall find further proof, that the Apostle's reasoning does not apply to a testament. The word rendered in our version testator is a participle of the verb which signifies to appoint. It may be rendered the appointed (victim or sacrifice), or that by which the covenant is confirmed, which is the same.

That the Apostle is speaking of a covenant is certain, both from what goes before and what follows. We find instances in which a covenant was made without any sacrifice; on the other hand, sacrifices were frequently offered. Thus we find the covenant made with Abraham. Genesis 15 : By the Divine commandment, Abraham took an heifer, a goat, a ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon, dividing them in the midst with the exception of the birds, and when it was dark a smoking furnace and a burning lamp, the emblem of the Divine presence, Hebrews 12:29, passed between the pieces. Thus God made a covenant with Abraham, to give his posterity the land of Canaan. The heifer, goat, &c, were the appointed victims, whose death was essential to the ratification of the covenant. It was confirmed by their death.

We have another striking instance in Jeremiah 34 : During the siege of Jerusalem the Jews made a covenant to let their servants go free, a calf was the appointed victim or sacrifice; it was slain, and those who made the covenant passed between the pieces. When they considered the danger to be passed they again brought the servants into bondage, and for this wickedness God denounces his judgments upon them; they are described as having "passed between the parts of the calf," thus confirming the covenant. These instances fully explain the language of the Apostle.


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Bibliography
Haldane, Robert. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:16". "Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans and Hebrews". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hal/hebrews-9.html. 1835.


Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 17th, 2018
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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