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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 And what is obsolete and growing old will soon disappear.

11. And they shall not teach, etc. We have said that the third point is as it were a part of the second, included in these words, I will put my laws in their mind; for it is the work of the Spirit of God to illuminate our minds, so that we may know what the will of God is, and also to bend our hearts to obedience. For the right knowledge of God is a wisdom which far surpasses the comprehension of man’s understanding; therefore, to attain it no one is able except through the secret revelation of the Spirit. Hence Isaiah, in speaking of the restoration of the Church, says, that all God’s children would be his disciples or scholars. (Isaiah 28:16.) The meaning of our Prophet is the same when he introduces God as saying, They shall know me. For God does not promise what is in our own power, but what he alone can perform for us. In short, these words of the Prophet are the same as though he had said, that our minds are blind and destitute of all right understanding until they are illuminated by the Spirit of God. Thus God is rightly known by those alone to whom he has been pleased by a special favor to reveal himself.

By saying, From the least to the greatest, he first intimates that God’s grace would be poured on all ranks of men, so that no class would be without it. He, secondly, reminds us that no rude and ignorant men are precluded from this heavenly wisdom, and that the great and the noble cannot attain it by their own acuteness or by the help of learning. Thus God connects the meanest and the lowest with the highest, so that their ignorance is no impediment to the one, nor can the other ascend so high by their own acumen; but the one Spirit is equally the teacher of them all.

Fanatical men take hence the occasion to do away with public preaching, as though it were of no use in Christ’s kingdom; but their madness may be easily exposed. Their objection is this: “After the coming of Christ every one is to teach his neighbor; away then with the external ministry, that a place may be given to the internal inspiration of God.” But they pass by this, that the Prophet does not wholly deny that they would teach one another, but his words are these, They shall not teach, saying, Know the Lord; as though he had said, “Ignorance shall not as heretofore so possess the minds of men as not to know who God is.” But we know that the use of teaching is twofold; first, that they who are wholly ignorant may learn the first elements; and secondly, that those who are initiated may make progress. As then Christians, as long as they live, ought to make progress, it cannot surely be said, that any one is so wise that he needs not to be taught; so that no small part of our wisdom is a teachable spirit. And what is the way of making progress if we desire to be the disciples of Christ? This is shown to us by Paul when he says, that Christ gave pastors and teachers. (Ephesians 4:11.) It hence appears that nothing less was thought of by the Prophet than to rob the Church of such a benefit. 135135     It is a sufficient answer to the fanatics here alluded to, that their conclusion from his text militates against the practice of the apostolic Church as established by Christ himself, he having sent apostles, evangelists, pastors and teachers. — Ed. His only object was to show that God would make himself known to small and great, according to what was also predicted by Joel 2:28. It ought also in passing to be noticed, that this light of sacred knowledge is promised peculiarly to the Church; hence this passage belongs to none but to the household of faith. 136136     The 12th verse is passed over. It differs in words, though not in substance, both from the Hebrew and the Sept. It is indeed the latter version with the addition of these words, “and their iniquities.” The nouns are in the singular number in Hebrew, “unrighteousness” and “sin.” When the Apostle quotes again the passage in chapter 10:17, he leaves out “unrighteousness,” and mentions only “sins and iniquities.” There is also a shade of difference as to the first verb. In Hebrew remission or forgiveness is its meaning, but here the idea is mercy. The Apostle no doubt considered that the truth was essentially conveyed in the Greek version. — Ed.

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