Christ, the High Priest in the True
Sanctuary, Superseding the Levitical
Priesthood; the New Renders Obsolete the Old Covenant.
1. the sum—rather, "the principal
point"; for the participle is present, not past, which would be
required if the meaning were "the sum." "The chief point in (or, 'in
the case'; so the Greek, Heb 9:10, 15, 17) the things which we are speaking,"
literally, "which are being spoken."
such—so transcendently pre-eminent,
namely in this respect, that "He is set on the right hand of," &c.
Infinitely above all other priests in this one grand respect, He
exercises His priesthood IN HEAVEN, not
in the earthly "holiest place" (Heb 10:12). The Levitical high priests, even when
they entered the Holiest Place once a year, only STOOD for a brief space before the symbol of
God's throne; but Jesus SITS on the
throne of the Divine Majesty in the heaven itself, and this for
ever (Heb 10:11, 12).
2. minister—The Greek term
implies priestly ministry in the temple.
the sanctuary—Greek, "the holy
places"; the Holy of Holies. Here the heavenly sanctuary is meant.
the true—the archetypal and
antitypical, as contrasted with the typical and symbolical (Heb 9:24). Greek "alethinos"
(used here) is opposed to that which does not fulfil its idea, as for
instance, a type; "alethes," to that which is untrue and
unreal, as a lie. The measure of alethes is reality; that of
alethinos, ideality. In alethes the idea corresponds to
the thing; in alethinos, the thing to the idea [Kalmis in Alford].
tabernacle—(Heb 9:11). His body. Through His glorified
body as the tabernacle, Christ passes into the heavenly "Holy of
Holies," the immediate immaterial presence of God, where He intercedes
for us. This tabernacle in which God dwells, is where God in Christ
meets us who are "members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones."
This tabernacle answers to the heavenly Jerusalem, where God's
visible presence is to be manifested to His perfected saints and
angels, who are united in Christ the Head; in contradistinction to His
personal invisible presence in the Holy of Holies unapproachable
save to Christ. Joh 1:14,
"Word … dwelt among us," Greek, "tabernacled."
not man—as Moses (Heb 8:5).
3. For—assigning his reason for calling
him "minister of the sanctuary" (Heb 8:2).
somewhat—He does not offer again His
once for all completed sacrifice. But as the high priest did
not enter the Holy Place without blood, so Christ has
entered the heavenly Holy Place with His own blood. That "blood
of sprinkling" is in heaven. And is thence made effectual to sprinkle
believers as the end of their election (1Pe 1:2). The term "consecrate" as a priest, is
literally, to fill the hand, implying that an offering is given
into the hands of the priest, which it is his duty to present to God.
If a man be a priest, he must have some gift in his hands to offer.
Therefore, Christ, as a priest, has His blood as His oblation to offer
4. Implying that Christ's priestly office is
exercised in heaven, not in earth; in the power of His resurrection
life, not of His earthly life.
For—The oldest manuscripts read,
if, &c.—"if He were on earth, He
would not even (so the Greek) be a priest" (compare Heb 7:13,
14); therefore, certainly, He
could not exercise the high priestly function in the earthly Holy of
seeing that, &c.—"since there are"
already, and exist now (the temple service not yet being set aside, as
it was on the destruction of Jerusalem), "those (the oldest manuscripts
omit 'priests') who offer the (appointed) gifts according to
(the) law." Therefore, His sacerdotal "ministry" must
be "in the heavens," not on earth (Heb 8:1). "If His priesthood terminated on the
earth, He would not even be a priest at all" [Bengel]. I conceive that the denial here of Christ's
priesthood on earth does not extend to the sacrifice on the
cross which He offered as a priest on earth; but applies only to
the crowning work of His priesthood, the bringing of the blood into
the Holy of Holies, which He could not have done in the
earthly Holy of Holies, as not being an Aaronic priest. The
place (the heavenly Holy of Holies) was as essential to the
atonement being made as the oblation (the blood). The body was
burnt without the gate; but the sanctification was effected by the
presentation of the blood within the sanctuary by the high priest. If
on earth, He would not be a priest in the sense of the law of
Moses ("according to the law" is emphatic).
5. Who—namely, the priests.
serve unto the example—not
"after the example," as Bengel
explains. But as in Heb 13:10,
"serve the tabernacle," that is, do it service: so "serve (the
tabernacle which is but) the outline and shadow." The
Greek for "example" is here taken for the sketch, copy,
or suggestive representation of the heavenly sanctuary, which is
the antitypical reality and primary archetype. "The mount" answers to
heaven, Heb 12:22.
admonished—The Greek especially
applies to divine responses and commands.
to make—"perfectly": so the
See—Take heed, accurately observing
the pattern, that so thou mayest make, &c.
the pattern—an accurate
representation, presented in vision to Moses, of the heavenly real
sanctuary. Thus the earthly tabernacle was copy of a copy; but the
latter accurately representing the grand archetypical original in
6. now—not time; but "as it
more excellent ministry—than any
by how much—in proportion as.
mediator—coming between us and God, to
carry into effect God's covenant with us. "The messenger (angel) of the
which—Greek, "one which" [Alford]: inasmuch as being one
established—Greek, "enacted as
a law." So Ro 3:27, "law
of faith"; and Ro 8:2; 9:31, apply "law" to the Gospel covenant. It
is implied hereby, the Gospel is founded on the law, in the spirit and
essence of the latter.
better promises—enumerated Heb 8:10,
11. The Old Testament
promises were mainly of earthly, the New Testament promises, of
heavenly blessings: the exact fulfilment of the earthly promises was a
pledge of the fulfilment of the heavenly. "Like a physician who
prescribes a certain diet to a patient, and then when the patient is
beginning to recover, changes the diet, permitting what he had before
forbidden; or as a teacher gives his pupil an elementary lesson at
first; preparatory to leading him to a higher stage": so Rabbi Albo in
his Ikkarim. Compare Jer 7:21, 22, which shows that God's original design
in the old covenant ritual system was, that it should be pedagogical,
as a schoolmaster leading and preparing men for Christ.
7. Same reasoning as in Heb 7:11.
faultless—perfect in all its parts, so
as not to be found fault with as wanting anything which ought to
be there: answering all the purposes of a law. The law in its
morality was blameless (Greek, "amomos");
but in saving us it was defective, and so not faultless
should no place have been sought—as it
has to be now; and as it is sought in the prophecy (Heb 8:8-11). The old covenant would have
anticipated all man's wants, so as to give no occasion for
seeking something more perfectly adequate. Compare on the phrase
"place … sought," Heb 12:17.
8. finding fault with them—the people of
the old covenant, who were not made "faultless" by it (Heb 8:7); and whose disregard of God's
covenant made Him to "regard them not" (Heb 8:9). The law is not in itself
blamed, but the people who had not observed it.
he saith—(Jer 31:31-34; compare Eze 11:19;
36:25-27). At Rama, the
headquarters of Nebuzar-adan, whither the captives of Jerusalem had
been led, Jeremiah uttered this prophecy of Israel's restoration under
another David, whereby Rachel, wailing for her lost children, shall be
comforted; literally in part fulfilled at the restoration under
Zerubbabel, and more fully to be hereafter at Israel's return to their
own land; spiritually fulfilled in the Gospel covenant, whereby God
forgives absolutely His people's sins, and writes His law by His Spirit
on the hearts of believers, the true Israel. "This prophecy forms the
third part of the third trilogy of the three great trilogies into which
Jeremiah's prophecies may be divided: Jeremiah 21-25, against the
shepherds of the people; Jeremiah 26-29, against the false prophets;
Jeremiah 30 and 31, the book of restoration" [Delitzsch in Alford].
Behold, the days come—the frequent
formula introducing a Messianic prophecy.
"consummate." A suitable expression as to the new covenant, which
perfected what the old could not (compare end of Heb 8:9, with end of Heb 8:10).
Israel … Judah—Therefore, the
ten tribes, as well as Judah, share in the new covenant. As both shared
the exile, so both shall share the literal and spiritual
9. Not according to, &c.—very
different from, and far superior to, the old covenant, which only
"worked wrath" (Ro 4:15)
through man's "not regarding" it. The new covenant enables us to obey
by the Spirit's inward impulse producing love because of the
forgiveness of our sins.
made with—rather as Greek,
"made to": the Israelites being only recipients, not coagents [Alford] with God.
I took them by the hand—as a father
takes his child by the hand to support and guide his steps. "There are
three periods: (1) that of the promise; (2) that of the pedagogical
instruction; (3) that of fulfilment" [Bengel]. The second, that of the pedagogical
pupilage, began at the exodus from Egypt.
I regarded them not—English
Version, Jer 31:32,
translates, "Although I was an husband unto them." Paul's
translation here is supported by the Septuagint, Syriac, and
Gesenius, and accords with the kindred
Arabic. The Hebrews regarded not God, so God, in
righteous retribution, regarded them not. On "continued
not in my covenant," Schelling observes: The law was in fact the mere
ideal of a religious constitution: in practice, the Jews
were throughout, before the captivity, more or less polytheists, except
in the time of David, and the first years of Solomon (the type of
Messiah's reign). Even after the return from Babylon, idolatry was
succeeded by what was not much better, formalism and hypocrisy (Mt 12:43). The law was (1) a typical
picture, tracing out the features of the glorious Gospel to be
revealed; (2) it had a delegated virtue from the Gospel, which ceased,
therefore, when the Gospel came.
10. make with—Greek, "make
Israel—comprising the before disunited
8:8) ten tribes' kingdom, and
that of Judah. They are united in the spiritual Israel, the elect
Church, now: they shall be so in the literal restored kingdom of Israel
I will put—literally, "(I) giving."
This is the first of the "better promises" (Heb 8:6).
mind—their intelligent faculty.
in, &c.—rather, " ON their hearts." Not on tables of stone as the law
and I will be to them a God,
&c.—fulfilled first in the outward kingdom of God. Next, in
the inward Gospel kingdom. Thirdly, in the kingdom at once outward and
inward, the spiritual being manifested outwardly (Re 21:3). Compare a similar progression as to
the priesthood (1) Ex 19:6; (2)
1Pe 2:5; (3) Isa 61:6; Re
1:6. This progressive advance
of the significance of the Old Testament institutions, &c., says
Tholuck, shows the transparency
and prophetic character which runs throughout the whole.
11. Second of the "better promises" (Heb 8:6).
they shall not—"they shall not have to
his neighbour—So Vulgate reads;
but the oldest manuscripts have "his (fellow) citizen."
brother—a closer and more endearing
relation than fellow citizen.
from the least to the
greatest—Greek, "from the little one to the great
12:8, "He that is feeble
among them shall be as David." Under the old covenant, the priest's
lips were to keep knowledge, and at his mouth the people were to seek
the law: under the new covenant, the Holy Spirit teaches every
believer. Not that the mutual teaching of brethren is excluded while
the covenant is being promulgated; but when once the Holy Spirit shall
have fully taught all the remission of their sins and inward
sanctification, then there shall be no further' need of man teaching
his fellow man. Compare 1Th 4:9; 5:1, an earnest of that perfect state to
come. On the way to that perfect state every man should teach his
neighbor. "The teaching is not hard and forced, because grace renders
all teachable; for it is not the ministry of the letter, but of the
3:6). The believer's firmness
does not depend on the authority of human teachers. God Himself
teaches" [Bengel]. The New Testament is
shorter than the Old Testament, because, instead of the details
of an outward letter law, it gives the all-embracing principles
of the spiritual law written on the conscience, leading one to
spontaneous instinctive obedience in outward details. None save the
Lord can teach effectually, "know the Lord."
12. For, &c.—the third of
"the better promises" (Heb 8:6). The
forgiveness of sins is, and will be, the root of this new state
of inward grace and knowledge of the Lord. Sin being abolished, sinners
I will be merciful—Greek,
"propitious"; the Hebrew, "salach," is always used of God
only in relation to men.
and their iniquities—not found in
Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, and one oldest Greek manuscript;
but most oldest manuscripts have the words (compare Heb 10:17).
remember no more—Contrast the law,
made … old—"hath (at the time of
speaking the prophecy) antiquated the first covenant." From the time of
God's mention of a NEW covenant (since
God's words are all realities) the first covenant might be regarded as
ever dwindling away, until its complete abolition on the actual
introduction of the Gospel. Both covenants cannot exist side by side.
Mark how verbal inspiration is proved in Paul's argument turning wholly
on the one word "NEW" (covenant),
occurring but once in the Old Testament.
that which decayeth—Greek,
"that which is being antiquated," namely, at the time when Jeremiah
spake. For in Paul's time, according to his view, the new had
absolutely set aside the old covenant. The Greek for
(Kaine) New (Testament) implies that it is of a
different kind and supersedes the old: not merely
recent (Greek, "nea"). Compare Ho 3:4, 5.