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Chapter 13:9. For it is a good thing, etc There seems to be some obscurity in the latter part of this verse, and in the following verses. There appears, however, to be an intimation of what the Apostle means in the term “strange” or new, as applied to the doctrines here referred to. There was probably an attempt made to unite some parts of the ceremonial law, especially the feasts, with the Gospel. The distinction of meats was not new, but this kind of mixture might have been so termed, that is, a participation in those sacrifices, part of which was allowed to be eaten by those who presented them, Leviticus 7:11-21. This was probably one of the strange or new doctrines. Such a compliance must have been made for the sake of avoiding reproach and persecution.
The Apostle says in verse 10, that those who did eat of the sacrifices could not be partakers of what Christians feed on. Then in verse 11, he mentions the sacrifice made annually by the high priest, no part of which was eaten, but the whole was burnt without the camp, (referring to the state of things when the tabernacle was erected in the wilderness,) intimating that the chief sacrifice was not partaken of either by the priests or by the people. Taking this fact as an intimation, and a symbol of what was to be, he says that Christ had offered the great and the real sacrifice without the gate, (alluding now to the temple at Jerusalem,) where we are to follow him, bearing the reproach to which he was subjected; and we are not to return as it were to the tabernacle, and to partake of such sacrifices as were there eaten.
As an inducement to bear reproach, he reminds them that life is but short, and that Christians expect their home in another country; and at last he states what sacrifices they were still to offer to God, not the sacrifices of peaceofferings, but those of praise and thanksgiving, and also of good works.
The “meats” according to this view, mentioned in verse 9, must have been the meats eaten when freewillofferings were presented. Admitting that the great sacrifice for sin had been offered by Christ, some might have still supposed and taught that such offerings as these were still allowed; and to eat of such offerings might have been thought a very profitable thing, calculated to produce a great benefit. In opposition to such a sentiment, the Apostle may be supposed to have said, that it was good that the heart should be strengthened by grace, not by meats, which did not prove profitable to those who usually partook of them.
The “altar” is to be taken for the sacrifices offered on it. He declares that it was not possible to partake of the Christian’s food, and of the offerings made on the altar. The literal rendering of the 11th and 12th verses is as follows, —
11. “Moreover, of the animals whose blood for sin is brought into the holiest by the high priest, the bodies of these are
12. burnt without the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that he might make expiation for the people by his own blood, suffered without the gate.”
The purpose for which these words seem to have been added, was to shew that no eating, no meats, were connected with the sacrifice for sin; and by saying in the following verse that we are to follow Christ without the camp, bearing his reproach, the Apostle intimates that this reproach ought not to be avoided by joining those in the tabernacle, engaged in offering peaceofferings on which they feasted.
The import of the whole passage, 9-16, may be thus stated: — “Be not led away by various kinds of doctrines, and such as are new; grace, and not eating of offerings, strengthens the heart to enable it to maintain the faith and to endure trials; and this grace, the meat that belongs to our altar, cannot be partaken of by those who are still wedded to the altar of the earthly tabernacle. And as to the annual sacrifice for sin, it is not eaten, but all burnt, not in the tabernacle, but without the camp, — an intimation of what Christ did when he suffered without the gate. Thither we must follow him, and not return again to the tabernacle in order to avoid reproach; and this reproach will not be long, for we are hastening to another world; and instead of presenting freewill offerings and eating of them, what we are to offer now are the sacrifices of praise, of thanksgiving, and of good works.”
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