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20. Saying, This is the blood of the testament, 154154 Both Calvin and our verse retain the word “testament” as derived from verse 17; but as that verse and the preceding are to be viewed as parenthetic, the word “covenant” is the term used by Moses. The latter is the word adopted by Beza, Doddridge, Macknight, and Stuart, “This is the blood of the covenant,” etc. — Ed. etc. If that was the blood of the testament, then neither the testament was without blood ratified, nor the blood without the testament available for expiation. It is hence necessary that both should be united; and we see that before the explanation of the Law, no symbol was added, for what would a sacrament be except the word preceded it? Hence a symbol is a kind of appendage to the word. And mark, this word was not whispered like a magic incantation, but pronounced with a clear voice, as it was destined for the people, according to what the words of the covenant express, which God hath enjoined unto you. 155155 The Apostle here follows neither the Hebrew nor the Septuagint. The Hebrew is “which the Lord (Jehovah) hath made with you;” and the Septuagint, “Which the Lord hath covenanted (διέθετο) with you.” And instead of “Behold the blood of the covenant,” (the same in both) we have here, “This is the blood of the covenant.” But though the words are different, yet the meaning is essentially the same, — the main things regarded by the Apostles in their quotations. — Ed Perverted, then, are the sacraments, and it is a wicked corruption when there is no explanation of the commandment given, which is as it were the very soul of the sacrament. Hence the Papists, who take away the true understanding of things from signs, retain only dead elements.
This passage reminds us that the promises of God are then only profitable to us when they are confirmed by the blood of Christ. For what Paul testifies in 2 Corinthians 1:20, that all God’s promises are yea and amen in Christ — this happens when his blood like a seal is engraven on our hearts, or when we not only hear God speaking, but also see Christ offering himself as a pledge for those things which are spoken. If this thought only came to our minds, that what we read is not written so much with ink as with the blood of Christ, that when the Gospel is preached, his sacred blood distills together with the voice, there would be far greater attention as well as reverence on our part. A symbol of this was the sprinkling mentioned by Moses!
At the same time there is more stated here than what is expressed by Moses; for he does not mention that the book and the people were sprinkled, nor does he name the goats, nor the scarlet wool, nor the hyssop. As to the book, that it was sprinkled cannot be clearly shown, yet the probability is that it was, for Moses is said to have produced it after he had sacrificed; and he did this when he bound the people to God by a solemn compact. With regard to the rest, the Apostle seems to have blended together various kinds of expiations, the reason for which was the same. Nor indeed was there anything unsuitable in this, since he was speaking of the general subject Or purgation under the Old Testament, which was done by means of blood. Now as to the sprinkling made by hyssop and scarlet wool, it is evident that it represented the mystical sprinkling made by the Spirit. We know that the hyssop possesses a singular power to cleanse and to purify; so Christ employs his Spirit to sprinkle us in order to wash us by his own blood when he leads us to true repentance, when he purifies us from the depraved lusts of our flesh, when he imbues us with the precious gift of his own righteousness. For it was not in vain that God had instituted this rite. David also alluded to this when he said,
“Thou wilt sprinkle me, O Lord, with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed.” (Psalm 51:7.)
These remarks will be sufficient for those who wish to be soberminded in their speculations.