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Mediator of a Better Covenant


Now the main point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent that the Lord, and not any mortal, has set up. 3For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. 4Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. 5They offer worship in a sanctuary that is a sketch and shadow of the heavenly one; for Moses, when he was about to erect the tent, was warned, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” 6But Jesus has now obtained a more excellent ministry, and to that degree he is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted through better promises. 7For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need to look for a second one.

8 God finds fault with them when he says:

“The days are surely coming, says the Lord,

when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel

and with the house of Judah;


not like the covenant that I made with their ancestors,

on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt;

for they did not continue in my covenant,

and so I had no concern for them, says the Lord.


This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel

after those days, says the Lord:

I will put my laws in their minds,

and write them on their hearts,

and I will be their God,

and they shall be my people.


And they shall not teach one another

or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord,’

for they shall all know me,

from the least of them to the greatest.


For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,

and I will remember their sins no more.”

13 In speaking of “a new covenant,” he has made the first one obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old will soon disappear.

1. Now of the things, etc. That readers might know the subject he handles, he reminds them that his object is to prove that Christ’s priesthood, by which that of the law had been abolished, is spiritual. He, indeed, proceeds with the same argument; but as he contends with various reasonings, he introduced this admonition, that he might keep his readers attentive to what he had in view.

He has already shown that Christ is a high priest; he now contends that his priesthood is celestial. It hence follows, that by his coming the priesthood established by Moses under the law was made void, for it was earthly. and as Christ suffered in the humble condition of his flesh, and having taken the form of a servant, made himself of no reputation in the world, (Philippians 2:7;) the Apostle reminds us of his ascension, by which was removed not only the reproach of the cross, but also of that abject and mean condition which he had assumed together with our flesh; for it is by the power of the Spirit which gloriously appeared in the resurrection and the ascension of Christ, that the dignity of his priesthood is to be estimated. He then reasons thus — “Since Christ has ascended to the right hand of God, that he might reign gloriously in heaven, he is not the minister of the earthly but of the heavenly sanctuary. 127127     See Appendix D 2.

2. Of the sanctuary, or, literally, of holy things, etc. The word is to be taken, as being in the neuter gender; and the Apostle explains himself by saying, of the true tabernacle. 128128     It is better to take “holy things” as designating the holy duties of the priest, afterwards specified when the offering of gifts and sacrifices is mentioned, than as signifying “the sanctuary.” Christ is a priest and a minister in sacred things, and a minister in the true tabernacle. He has holy things to do, and he does them, not in the shadowy and typical tabernacle, but in that which is real and celestial.
   We find, that the word in the next chapter means the holiest place, accompanied as here with the article, chapter 9: 8-12, and without the article, the holy place or the sanctuary, chapter 9:2. So then if this meaning be taken, the rendering here ought to be, “the minister of the holiest;” and then “tabernacle” is used as including the whole building, as in chapter 9:2. But the context here seems to favor the former meaning. The version of Doddridge is, “A minister of holy things.” — Ed.

But it may be asked, whether the tabernacle built by Moses was a false one, and presumptuously constructed, for there is an implied contrast in the words? To this I answer, that to us mentioned here is not set in opposition to what is false, but only to what is typical; as we find in John 1:17, “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Then the old tabernacle was not the empty inventions of man, but the effigy of the heavenly tabernacle. As, however, a shadow differs from the substance, and the sign from the thing signified, the Apostle denies it to have been the true tabernacle, as though he had said, that it was only a shadow.

Which the Lord pitched, or, fixed, etc. What does the Apostle mean by locating Christ’s priesthood in heaven? For doubtless he suffered on earth, and by an earthly blood he atoned for our sins, for he derived his origin from the seed of Abraham; the sacrifice of his death was visible; and lastly, that he might offer himself to the Father, it was necessary for him to descend from heaven to the earth, and as man to become exposed to the sorrows of this mortal life, and at length to death itself. To all this I reply, that whatever of an earthly kind appears at first sight to be in Christ, it is to be viewed spiritually by the eye of faith. Thus his flesh, which proceeded from the seed of Abraham, since it was the temple of God, possessed a vivifying power; yea, the death of Christ became the life of the world, which is certainly above nature. The Apostle therefore does not refer to what belongs peculiarly to human nature, but to the hidden power of the Spirit; and hence it is, that the death of Christ has nothing earthly in it. When therefore we speak of Christ, let us learn to raise up all our thoughts to the kingdom of God, so that no doubt may remain in us.

Nearly to the same purpose is the language of Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:1; he calls God the builder of this tabernacle, in order to set forth its stability and perpetuity; for, on the other hand, what is built by men’s hands, is unstable, and at last sure to perish. But he says this, because redemption was truly a divine work, attained by the death of Christ; and in this the power of Christ manifested itself in a wonderful manner.

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