Hebrews 9:1-22 - Outline of Hebrews (MENU page)
9:1 Then verily the first [covenant] had also ordinances of divine service,
and a worldly
{ie., earthly} sanctuary.
the old covenant- has been superseded by the new covenant (8:5,6).
Yet, the old covenant was given by God. The OT priests were obedient to God's...
ordinances- GK=diakaioma, expressions of righteousness in keeping with God's revealed will.
the earthly sanctuary (v.1-5) - provides a pattern, framework, or setting for Christ's heavenly ministry.
the divine service (of earthly priests, v.6-10) - shows the significance of His ministry.
9:2 For there was a tabernacle made;
the first, wherein [was] the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread;
which is called the sanctuary.
tabernacle- lit., a tent.
Often the word refers to the complete curtained courtyard which Moses built, according to God's detailed instructions, to be the focal point of Israel's worship. (eg. 8:5; Ex 25:1-40)
Here, the word refers to the tent which was inside the courtyard.
This tent was divided into two sections (or, rooms):
the first- section was entered by the priests through a veil (curtain) on one end of the tent.
The first section was called the Holy Place.
The tabernacle & its furnishings are rich with types of Christ's Person & Work.
But the writer has a specific point in mind, and avoids a detailed study here. (v. 5)
However, such a study would be very worthwhile, and is highly recommended.
(See the separate Book Notes on Exodus, and the study on Christ in the Tabernacle.)
9:3 And after the second veil,
the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;
the second veil- divided the first section of the tent from the second section,
called the Holy of Holies. The first veil provided access into the Holy Place.
The second veil (always closed) restricted access into the Holy of Holies (v.7).
9:4 Which had the golden censer,
and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold,
wherein [was] the golden pot that had manna,
and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;
the golden censer- GK= thumiasterion, the golden altar.
Some have imagined an error here, because v.4 appears to place this item inside, rather than outside, the veil (cp. Ex 30:6; 40:5). See the Book Notes at Heb 10:19-20 for the explanation.
the ark of the covenant- in OT times, was the only furnishing within the Holy of Holies.
It represented God's presence with His people, and His dealing with them either in judgment or in mercy, in accordance with the (old) covenant.
Ex 25:10-22; Num 10:33; Deu 31:26
The ark's lid became the Mercy Seat when sacrificial blood was sprinkled upon it, on the annual Day of Atonement (covering), thereby covering the sins of the people.
The ark's contents were-
-- evidences of man's rebellion (sin),
-- reminders of God's work on their behalf, and
-- previews of Christ's coming.
9:5 And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat;
of which we cannot now speak particularly.
cannot now speak particularly -(ie., in detail, separately one by one)
It is not that the writer was limited in his understanding of the things within the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. Rather, he does not wish to digress from his focus which is the approach of the High Priest into the Presence of God (vs.6-10).
The tabernacle & its order of service was designed to show-
-- that sin has excluded us from the presence of the Holy God.
-- that God has provided a specific Way of access.
9:6 Now when these things were thus ordained,
the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service [of God].
the priests went always (ie., continually) into the Holy Place.
The work of worship was never done. Daily, they trimmed the lamps & refreshed the bread. Ex 30:7,8; Lev 24:1-8
Yet, for all their service, they and the people they represented were still excluded from God's Presence.
9:7 But into the second [went] the high priest alone once every year,
not without blood, which he offered for himself, and [for] the errors of the people:
Access into the Holy of Holies was limited to the High Priest, who must approach...
  • alone,
  • once per year (on the Day of Atonement, Lev 16:1-34),
  • only with blood of the prescribed sacrifice(s),
    which covered his sin & the errors (lit., ignorances) of the people. cp. Heb 5:2,3; 7:27
Through this ritual...
9:8 The Holy Ghost thus signifying {ie., showing, indicating},
that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest {or, made actual},
while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:
yet standing- ie., yet had standing.
While the old covenant & tabernacle stood as institutions of righteousness before God, access into God's immediate presence (in the true heavenly Holiest Place, cp. 8:2; 9:24) was not yet made actual. The ritual would only picture God's purpose to provide access, until Christ fulfilled that purpose and the veil was torn from top to bottom. Mat 27:50,51
9:9 Which [was] a figure for the time then present,
in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices,
that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
a figure- GK=parabole, a parable, an illustration of a greater truth.
the sacrifices- were also parabolic (ie., designed to teach).
They had no power to make men inwardly pure. Heb 7:11; 10:1-4; Gal 3:21-24; Titus 1:15-16
9:10 [Which stood] only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances,
imposed [on them] until the time of reformation.
The rituals of the tabernacle service were-
  • prescribed by God - ordinances {GK=diakaioma} were expressions of righteousness
    in keeping with God's revealed will (v. 1).
  • external-
    -- carnal- ie., relating to the flesh.
    -- imposed- GK=epikeimai, lit., "placed upon" (as external restrictions). Acts 15:10
    Rituals relating to food, drink & ceremonial washings- are all external and cannot cleanse the heart. Mat 15:17-20; Luk 11:39
  • temporary- "until the time of reformation"
    reformation- GK=diorthesis (dia= through, orthos= straight), a making straight, a right ordering.
    ie., "The time when the imperfect and inadequate would be superseded by a better order." [WEVine] (ie., the time when the new covenant comes into effect. cp. 8:7-12)
The earthly sanctuary & service of the old covenant provided -
-- no access into God's presence (v. 8).
-- incomplete & external righteousness (v. 9,10).
-- temporary covering for sin (v. 10).
9:11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come,
by a greater and more perfect tabernacle,
not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;
Our High Priest -
-- fulfills the promises previously only foreshadowed (ie., "the good things to come," 10:1).
-- has entered into the most Holy Place (ie., the heavenly Holy of Holies, v. 12). . .
A. by {through, by means of} a... tabernacle -
This ''tabernacle'' corresponds with the "first tabernacle," vs. 1-5 (ie., the Holy Place).
As the OT high priest approached the Holy of Holies through the Holy Place, so did Christ.
He approached via a ''greater and more perfect tabernacle'' which is the human nature of our Lord. [CJEllicott]
cp. Joh 1:14 (where 'dwelt' is lit., 'tented' or 'tabernacled'); 2:19-21; 14:10; Col 2:9; Heb 10:5,20; Rev 21:3
9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves,
but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place,
having obtained eternal redemption [for us].
B. by (through, by means of) His own blood -
(This corresponds to the OT priest's service. vs. 6-10)
As the OT high priest could enter only with the blood of sacrifice, so, Christ entered.
Christ has obtained what the OT priest could not obtain (cf. note at v.10):
Redemption which --
1. is Permanent: eternal- ie., everlasting, without beginning or end.
2. is Complete- He entered once- GK=ephapax, once for all (not repetitiously as the OT priests).
3. Perfects (provides inner cleansing, v.14).
4. Provides actual access into God's presence (10:19-25).
9:13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer
sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
the blood of bulls & goats- ie., the atonement upon the Mercy Seat, for sin.
the ashes of an heifer- ie., ceremonial cleansing of a ceremonially defiled man.
cp. Numb 19:17-19
These rituals made men externally & ceremonially clean for earthly service (v.9,10).
9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ,
who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God,
purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
How much more- if temporary, imperfect human ritual could provide ceremonial cleansing,
consider the effectiveness of Christ's eternal & perfect sacrifice...
through the {an} eternal Spirit...- (the definite article is not in the original)
  • This may speak of the involvement of the three Persons of the Godhead in Redemption: Christ offered Himself, by the Holy Spirit, unto God the Father. [JVMcGee]
  • This may speak of Christ's "indissoluble life" which sets Him apart from temporal earthly priests & sacrifices. cp. Heb 7:16,18,19,28; 1Tim 3:16
{The ultimate sacrifice of the ultimate Priest is able to} purge your conscience from dead works...-
This is not superficial, ceremonial, or skin deep cleansing,
but true Inner cleansing (point # 3 in vs. 12 note above; cp. 1Joh 1:7,9; 1Pet 1:18,19)--
  • from dead works -- we were dead in our sins,
    -- we were dead in our religion (Eph 2:1)
  • to serve the living God - a perfected conscience is required
    in order to worship God in spirit & in truth.
    ("An innocent conscience is unaware of either evil or God's holiness. A perfected conscience knows God, dwells in His presence, is ever conscious of the precious blood of Christ that cleanses from all sin." [GWms] )
9:15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament,
that by means of death,
for the redemption of the transgressions [that were] under the first testament,
they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
The cleansing afforded by this new covenant -
  • is retroactive, applying fully to those-
    1. whose sins {transgressions= infringements of the law} were temporarily covered under the old covenant system (Rom 3:25). cp. Heb 9:8; Rom 3:19-26
    2. who are called (cp. 1Cor 1:23,24; Heb 2:10; 3:1).
  • is by means of death:
    By His death, Christ mediated (ie., intervened to make effective) the New Covenant.
9:16 For where a testament [is],
there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
of necessity- It is evident that Jesus' life and teaching did not bring redemption.
The new covenant could not be established without the Mediator's death.
By His death we are saved. By His blood we overcome. 1Cor 11:25; Rev 12:11
By what mechanism, does His death mediate the covenant?
(The word "testament" is GK=diatheke, "covenant.")
  • The KJV rendering "testament," suggests a "last will & testament," v.16,17.
    This meaning would serve to illustrate that the eternal inheritance (v.15) could not be ours without the death of Christ. [JVMcGee]
  • However, this meaning is foreign both to Jewish usage & to NT usage elsewhere.
    Consider again, the ancient custom of cutting a covenant, whereby the covenanting parties mediated the covenant with a blood sacrifice (cp. note at 8:6). In Jewish thinking, the death of the sacrificial animal did not symbolize the punishment due to one who broke a covenant. But rather, it represented the death of the "covenantors" to past enmity & to future violations of the compact. [summarized from CJEllicott]
9:17 For a testament [is] of force after men are dead:
otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.
Christ is not said to be the "grantor" of redemption (as in a "last will"),
but rather, the "mediator" of the covenant.
A covenant is valid only when the covenantors are dead to that which once divided them...
-- after "men" (plural) are dead.
-- not while the "covenantor" (singular) lives.
In Christ's death, I also have died, and am therefore party to the covenant.
Psa 50:5; Rom 6:1-6; Gal 2:20
9:18 Whereupon {ie., wherefore} neither the first [testament] was dedicated without blood.
The first covenant was also a blood covenant ("blood" occurs 6x in vs. 18-22).
dedicated- GK=enkainos, made new, initiated.
9:19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law,
he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop,
and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,
The blood was sprinkled -
-- on the book (of the Law), representing God's part in the covenant.
-- on the people, representing their part in the covenant. Ex 24:3-8
9:20 Saying, {quoting Ex 24:8} This [is] the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.
which God has 'enjoined'- Observe the variations of this word in quotations of this verse:
-- GK= commanded (the word used here in Heb 9:20).
-- GK= covenanted (the word used in the LXX text of Ex 24:8).
-- HB= cut with you (the word used in the HB text of Ex 24:8).
9:21 Moreover {ie., likewise} he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle,
and all the vessels of the ministry.
eg., Ex 29:12,21,36; Lev 8:14-24; Lev 16:15-20
9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood;
and without shedding of blood is no remission.
almost... - ie., 'one can almost generalize that, under the law,
all things are purged with blood...' [v.22a, paraphrased]
Blood- represents the life of the flesh. (Lev 17:11,14)
The life of the flesh is corrupt due to sin. Gen 6:12; 1Cor 15:50; Psa 51:5
Blood- on the altar symbolically represented the death of sinful flesh,
and was essential for atonement, cleansing, and forgiveness.
cp. Lev 17:11,14; Lev 16:19,30; Lev 4:16-20; Psa 51:7
without shedding of blood, there is no remission {of sin, of fleshly corruption}-
remission- GK=aphesis, dismissal, release, sending away.
The holy God cannot ignore sin. If guilt is to be forgiven (dismissed), sin must be purged away.
Without the removal of sin (ie., the corrupt sinful nature), no man is acceptable before Him.
But, the Old Covenant sacrifices provided only temporary covering of sin, which they could not remove.
Under the New Covenant, men are brought into unending fellowship with God, who remembers their sin no more (8:10-12; Jer 31:33,34). Therefore, it was necessary that the Mediator of this covenant actually ''take away'' sin. This He accomplished by shedding His own blood. v.13,14; Joh 1:29; Luk 22:20

Christ's sacrifice and its effectiveness is the subject of the remainder of ch. 9 and ch. 10.

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