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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE HEBREWS - Chapter 8 - Verse 1

 

CHAPTER VIII.

 

ANALYSIS OF THE CHAPTER.

THIS chapter is a continuation of the argument which has been prosecuted in the previous chapters respecting the priesthood of Christ. The apostle had demonstrated that he was to be a priest, and that he was to be not of the Levitical order, but of the order of Melchizedek. As a consequence, he had proved that this involved a change of the law appointing a priesthood, and that, in respect to permanency, and happy moral influence, the priesthood of Christ far surpassed the Jewish. This thought he pursues in this chapter, and shows particularly that it involved a change in the nature of the covenant between God and his people. In the prosecution of this, he

(1.) states the sum or principal point of the whole matter under discussion—that the priesthood of Christ was real and permanent, while that of the Hebrew economy was typical, and was destined in its own nature to be temporary, Heb 8:1-3.

(2.) There was a fitness and propriety in his being removed to heaven to perform the functions of his office there—since if he had remained on earth he could not have officiated as priest, that duty being by the law of Moses entrusted to others pertaining to another tribe, Heb 8:4,5.

(3.) Christ had obtained a more exalted ministry than the Jewish priests held, because he was the Mediator in a better covenant—a covenant that related rather to the heart than to external observances, Heb 8:6-13. That new covenant excelled the old in the following respects:

(a) it was established on better promises, Heb 8:6.

(b) It was not a covenant requiring mainly external observances, but pertained to the soul, and the law of that covenant was written there, Heb 8:7-10.

(c) It was connected with the diffusion of the knowledge of the Lord among all classes, from the highest to the lowest, Heb 8:11.

(d) The evidence of forgiveness might be made more clear than it was under the old dispensation, and the way in which sins are pardoned be much better understood, Heb 8:12. These considerations involved the consequence also which is stated in Heb 8:13, that the old covenant was of necessity about to vanish away.

Verse 1. Now of the things which we have spoken. Or, "of the things of which we are speaking," (Stuart;) or, as we should say, of what is said. The Greek does not necessarily mean things that had been spoken, but may refer to all that he was saying, taking the whole subject into consideration.

This is the sum. Or, this is the principal thing; referring to what he was about to say, not what he had said. Our translators seem to have understood this as referring to a summing up, or recapitulation of what he had said—and there can be no doubt that the Greek would bear this interpretation. But another exposition has been proposed, adopted by Bloomfield, Stuart, Michaelis, and Storr, among the moderns, and found also in Sindas, Theodoret, Theophylact, and others, among the ancients. It is that which regards the word rendered sum kefalaion as meaning the principal thing; the chief matter; the most important point. The reason for this interpretation is, that the apostle in fact goes into no recapitulation of what he had said, but enters on a new topic relating to the priesthood of Christ. Instead of going over what he had demonstrated, he enters on a more important point, that the priesthood of Christ is performed in heaven, and that he has entered into the true tabernacle there. All which preceded was type and shadow, this was that which the former economy had adumbrated. In the previous chapters the apostle had shown that he who sustained this office was superior in rank to the Jewish priests; that they were frail and dying, and that the office in their hands was changing from one to another, but that that of Christ was permanent and abiding. He now comes to consider the real nature of the office itself; the sacrifice which was offered; the substance of which all in the former dispensation was the type. This was the principle thing kefalaion the head, the most important matter; and the consideration of this is pursued through chapters 8-10.

We have such an High Priest. That is settled; proved; indisputable. The Christian system is not destitute of that which was regarded as so essential to the old dispensation—the office of a high priest.

Who is set on the right hand of a throne, etc. He is exalted to honour and glory before God. The right hand was regarded as the place of principle honour; and when it is said that Christ is at the right hand of God, the meaning is, that he is exalted to the highest honour in the universe. See Barnes "Mr 16:19".

Of course the language is figurative—as God has no hands literally—but the language conveys an important meaning, that he is near to God, is high in his affection and love, and is raised to the most elevated situation in heaven. See Php 2:9; See Barnes "Eph 1:21, See Barnes "Eph 1:22".

 

{a} "who is set" Eph 1:20

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