Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 29 August 2022; Revised 2 November 2022
Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. All other Scripture quotations are from the NASB Updated Edition (1995, NASU), unless otherwise indicated. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important early Jewish sources include the following:
● DSS: the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last three centuries B.C. and the first century A.D. Online DSS Bible.
● LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. Online.
● Josephus: The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.), Jewish historian, trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
● Philo: Works by Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, the Jewish philosopher (20 B.C.─A.D. 50), consisting of 45 monographs. Online.
● MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began under Rabbi Akiva (2nd c. A.D.), but completed by scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from the 9th century. Online.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Hebrew and Jewish nature of the entire Bible I use the terms Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), Torah (Pentateuch, Law), ADONAI (for the sacred name in Tanakh verses), and Besekh (New Testament).
Please see the Introduction for background information on the letter. This commentary assumes that Paul the apostle wrote the letter in the Hebrew language and Luke translated it into Jewish Greek.
In this chapter Paul continues his theme from the previous chapter of comparing Messiah's priesthood with the Levitical priesthood. In doing so he demonstrates how the priestly ministry of Yeshua and the New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah are connected, how the former made the latter possible. To provide a foundation Paul first reviews the original divine instructions for the design of the tabernacle and its furnishings, as well as the special ministry of the High Priest. Paul then reiterates the priestly ministry of Messiah Yeshua, whose perfect sacrificial death provides eternal redemption and spiritual cleansing.
Paul next confronts a hindrance to Jewish acceptance of Yeshua. Why did the Messiah and mediator of the New Covenant have to die? He draws on covenantal practice in Genesis to illustrate that death of sacrificial animals was an integral part of covenant-making. He reminds his readers of the sprinkling of blood at Sinai conducted to inaugurate the covenant with Israel and the Levitical priesthood to emphasize the necessity of blood being shed to receive divine forgiveness. Indeed, the Sinai sacrifices foreshadowed the better atoning sacrifice of the Messiah.
The chapter closes by lauding the mediatorial ministry of Yeshua, conceived before the foundation of the world and fulfilled at the consummation of the ages. Yeshua's finished atonement also implies a warning. Since all men must die once and then face divine judgment, so also Yeshua who was offered once for the sins of the world will return to provide salvation for those eagerly awaiting him.
Preparation of the Mishkan, 9:1-5
Priestly Ministry at the Mishkan, 9:6-10
Priestly Ministry of the Messiah, 9:11-14
Death of the Mediator, 9:15-17
Blood of the Covenant, 9:18-22
Better Sacrifice of the Messiah, 9:23-28
Preparation of the Mishkan, 9:1-5
1 So indeed the first priesthood also had regulations of worship; and an earthly sanctuary.
So: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which is used here to indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, "so, therefore, consequently, then." The conjunction serves as a bridge with the last verse of the previous chapter. indeed: Grk. mén, conj., a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. Many versions don't translate the conjunction.
the first priesthood: Grk. ho prōtos, adj., first, foremost, most important, principal. In the LXX prōtos occurs initially in Genesis to translate Heb. echad (SH-259), one, first, with a temporal meaning (Gen 8:5), but then primarily to translate Heb. rishon (SH-7223), "first, former, chief" (BDB 911), which may convey (1) a temporal sense (Gen 8:15), (2) sequence or succession (Gen 32:17), (3) a spatial sense (Num 2:3), or (4) a description of rank or worth (1Sam 15:21) (DNTT 1:665). The second and fourth meanings have application here. The adjective occurs six times in this chapter with at least three different applications.
Leon Morris admits that there is no noun associated with the adjective "first," but the great majority of versions insert "covenant" in the verse. The idea in Christian scholarship that "first" in this verse refers to the "Sinai covenant" is as old as Chrysostom in the 4th century (Homily XV). The insertion of "covenant" seems required by the fact of the lengthy quotation from Jeremiah regarding the New Covenant in the previous chapter and the explicit words "first [prōtos] covenant" in verse 15 below, used as a contrast to the New Covenant.
However, the solitary use of "first" repeats exactly the usage in 8:7 and 8:13. (See my comments on those verses.) Relevant is the fact that in the LXX prōtos is used to translate Heb. rosh (SH-7218), "chief, foremost, head," to describe the High Priest (2Kgs 25:18; 2Chr 26:20; Ezra 7:5; Jer 52:24), and is used without Hebrew equivalent in reference to the high priest (1Kgs 2:35). Of interest is that the MJLT inserts Heb. K'hunah after "first." K'hunah (SH-3550) is a feminine noun meaning "priesthood." Tim Hegg comments:
"The repetition of the word 'first' in this opening verse not only links it to the final verse of the previous chapter, but also helps bolster the interpretation I've suggested, namely, that the subject at hand is the priesthood—Messiah’s priesthood after the order of Melchizedek contrasted with the Levitical priesthood. It is the priesthood which takes possession of the divine service and the sanctuary, for it is their responsibility to carry out the necessary details outlined by God."
also: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition, here with a continuative use. had: Grk. echō, impf., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. ordinances: pl. of Grk. dikaiōma, a declaration with binding force, an act God approves, focusing on its "result" (Zodhiates); a concrete expression of righteousness (HELPS); decree, ordinance, precept, requirement. In the LXX dikaiōma is frequently found in the context of law, meaning an ordinance or a statute that sets forth a standard of righteousness (DNTT 3:354).
The term occurs 70 times to translate Heb. chuqqah (SH-2708) or its masculine root, Heb. choq (SH-2706), something prescribed, an enactment, an ordinance, a statute (BDB 349f), first used of divine ordinances that Abraham knew and obeyed (Gen 26:5). Choq-chuqqah often refers to regulations and statutes given to Israel for governing a wide variety of civil and religious matters (Ex 15:25; Num 30:16; 31:21).
These Hebrew terms translated with dikaiōma especially pertain to the rules that relate to being a covenant people and must be obeyed to enjoy the kind of life God promised (Deut 4:1; 6:2; 8:11; 10:13; 11:1; 17:19; 26:16; 27:10; 28:45; 30:10, 16). In this context dikaiōma is used in reference to a particular aspect of community life.
of worship: Grk. latreia (from latreuō, "render sacred service") religious service or worship (BAG). In the LXX latreia translates Heb. avodah (SH-5656), labor, service, first in Exodus 12:25. The term is generally used of religious observance and presentation of offerings at the tabernacle or temple. Josephus also uses the term for the divine service at the temple (Wars, II, 17:2). Ordinances pertaining to worship (normally Heb. chuggah) are found in the instructions for observing God's appointed times (e.g., Ex 12:14, 17, 43; 13:10; 27:21; Lev 25:18) and conducting sacrificial ministry (Lev 3:17; 10:19; 16:29, 31, 34; 23:14).
and: Grk. te, conj. used to denote both connection and addition, as well as connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; and, also, both. an earthly: Grk. kosmikos, adj., limited to the world; earthly, worldly. The adjective focuses on the physical design. sanctuary: Grk. ho hagion, neut. of the adjective hagios, set apart for dedication to the interests of deity, and used as a descriptor of places and structures set apart to God (Zodhiates). In the LXX hagion translates Heb. qodesh (SH-6944), apartness, sacredness, first in Exodus 3:5 of the holy ground where Moses encountered the burning bush.
Here the term denotes the place where God chose to dwell among His people Israel (Ex 25:8) and where religious ceremonies were to occur. The location of the sanctuary in the center of the encampment surrounded by the twelve tribes (Num 2:2) was a vivid reminder that God desires to be the center of our lives.
2 For a tabernacle was prepared, the first room, which is called the Holy Place, in which were both the menorah and the table, and the bread of the Presence.
Reference: Exodus 25:23-40; 26:1-30.
For: Grk. gar, conj., a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that; for." The conjunction is used to express cause, explanation, inference or continuation; here explanation. a tabernacle: Grk. skēnē, a tent, booth, lodging, or dwelling. In the LXX skēnē translates three Hebrew words: (1) ohel (SH-168), a pointed tent used for personal dwelling (Gen 4:20); (2) sukkah (SH-5521), a matted booth, shed or hut (Gen 33:17); and (3) mishkan (SH-4908), a sacred sanctuary designed for conducting worship rituals; generally for the tabernacle (Ex 25:9), but also the temple (2Chr 29:6) (DNTT 3:811).
Moses erected a Tent (Heb. ohel; Grk. skēnē) of Meeting outside the camp where people could seek ADONAI and Moses would intercede for them (Ex 33:7-11; Acts 7:44). However, considering the description in this verse the Hebrew term mishkan is in view here. was prepared: Grk. kataskeuazō, aor. pass., prepare skillfully or make exactly ready, using implements according to a tooled-design; build, erect, prepare (HELPS). This simple retrospective statement alludes to God's decree to Moses:
"Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst; 9 according to all that I show you, the model of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings and just so you shall make it." (Ex 25:8-9 BR)
Instructions for building, furnishing and operating the portable sanctuary span Exodus chapters 25 through 40, which is eloquent testimony to the importance of the sacred sanctuary. The fabrication of all the component parts of the mishkan and its furnishings shown to Moses on the mountain (Ex 25:40) could have taken several months to complete. Moses superintended the assembly and erection of the completed mishkan on the first day of the second year, c. 1447 B.C. (Ex 40:1, 17).
God directed that the mishkan have three parts: the main court, the holy place and the holy of holies (Ex 26:33-34; 27:9-19). The complete footprint of the mishkan including the outer court measured 100 cubits by 50 cubits or 150 ft. by 75 ft., surrounded by a fence 5 cubits high (7.5 ft., Ex 27:18; 38:11-13, 18). The dimensions of the tent with its two rooms measured 30 cubits long by 10 cubits wide, which is deduced from the dimensions given for the components of the tent (Ex 26:15-25). See a diagram of the mishkan here.
The mishkan as the dwelling place of ADONAI was a visible revelation of God's desire to live among His people (Ex 29:45) and for the people to experience His abiding presence. The mishkan would be a place where the people could draw near with confidence to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb 4:16). This nearness demonstrated accessibility and Moses and the priests served as mediators to represent the Israelites before God and to represent God before the Israelite people. The mishkan remained in use for over 400 years (cf. 2Sam 7:6; 1Kgs 6:1).
the first room: Grk. ho prōtos, adj. See the previous verse. The adjective is used a second time but with a different application, here referring to the first room encountered upon entering the tabernacle. which: Grk. hētis (fem. of hostis), relative pronoun used as a generalizing reference to the subject of a verb or a preceding entity; who, which. is called: Grk. legō, pres. pass., to make a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing, lit. "is spoken of as," and translated "is called" in reference to identifying by name. The present tense is used to give vividness to a historical event.
the Holy Place: neut. pl. of Grk. hagios, adj. See the previous verse. The neuter plural of the Greek term is frequently used in the LXX of something considered to be "most holy" (e.g., Ex 28:38; 29:33; 31:15; 35:2; 40:9; Lev 2:10; 6:17, 25, 29; 7:1, 6; 10:12, 17; 14:13; 16:4; 19:8; 21:22; 22:3, 10, 14, 16; 23:2, 3, 7, 8, 20, 21, 24, 27, 35, 36; 27:10). The first mention of this first room of the mishkan or "Holy Place" is in Exodus 26:33. The Holy Place comprised two-thirds of the area of the tent with the dimensions deduced as 20 cubits long by 10 cubits wide by 10 cubits high or 30 ft. by 15 ft by 15 ft.
in: Grk. en, prep. used to mark position, here in relation to a specific location (DM 114). which: Grk. hē (fem. of hos), relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information in the verse; who, which, what, that. were both: Grk. te, conj. See the previous verse. the menorah: Grk. hē luchnia refers to the stand upon which a luchnos, or lamp, was placed or hung. The translation of "candlestick" in some versions (ASV, BRG, DRA, KJV, TLB, MEV, NMB, RGT) may be misleading to modern readers. Candlesticks hold candles and the molded candle did not exist prior to 500 B.C. (The tabernacle was built in 1447 B.C.)
In regular Greek usage the word for lampstand refers mainly to the common single-branch stand found in ancient homes and buildings to set a lamp on (e.g., Luke 8:16; 11:33). In this context the LXX luchnia translates menorah, which referred to the seven-branched golden lampstand made of gold used in the tabernacle (Ex 25:31-39; 26:35). Most Christian versions translate the term as "lampstand," but Messianic Jewish versions have "menorah." The menorah burned olive oil for fuel to light the room (Ex 27:20). Philo offered the following symbolic meaning of the menorah.
"The candlestick was placed on the southern side of the tabernacle, since by it the maker intimates, in a figurative manner, the motions of the stars which give light; for the sun, and the moon, and the rest of the stars, being all at a great distance from the northern parts of the universe, make all their revolutions in the south. And from this candlestick there proceeded six branches, three on each side, projecting from the candlestick in the centre, so as altogether to complete the number of seven; (103) and in all the seven there were seven candles and seven lights, being symbols of those seven stars which are called planets by those men who are versed in natural philosophy; for the sun, like the candlestick, being placed in the middle of the other six, in the fourth rank, gives light to the three planets which are above him, and to those of equal number which are below him, adapting to circumstances the musical and truly divine instrument." Life of Moses II, 102-103)
and: Grk. kai, conj. the table: Grk. hē (fem. of ho) trapeza, a surface on which something can be placed. In the LXX trapeza translates Heb. shulchan (SH-7979), table (BDB 1020), generally a surface on which food is placed for eating and used here of a special table in the Holy Place. The table was made of acacia wood, three feet long, eighteen inches wide and eighteen inches high (Ex 25:23) and covered with a blue cloth (Num 4:7)).
and: Grk. kai. the bread: Grk. ho artos, a baked product produced from cereal grain and also used of food or nourishment in general. In this context the LXX uses artos to translate Heb. lechem (SH-3899), bread or food. of the Presence: Grk. hē prothesis (from pro, "before," and tithēmi, "to put or set"), a setting forth for a purpose, used here of bread placed on the table in the Holy Place; presentation. In this context the LXX uses prothesis to translate Heb. panim (SH-6440), face, faces or presence (BDB 815), used of the special bread in the Holy Place (Ex 35:13).
Twelve cakes baked of fine flour (Heb. soleth) were ranged in two rows on the table in the Holy Place and replaced each Sabbath (Lev 24:5-9). The bread of the Presence (or "showbread") being considered "most holy" was made without leaven (cf. Lev 2:10-11;6:16-17; 8:2, 26; 24:5). Both Philo (On the Special Laws 2.161) and Josephus (Ant. III, 6:6) affirm this was the practice in the first century. The Torah did not specify the grain to be used, but in the wilderness barley was most likely used due to its availability.
Taken together the menorah and bread seem to have typified the light and life which are more largely dispensed under the good news by Him who is the Light of the world, and the Bread of life (Wesley).
3 And behind the second curtain a room, being called the Holy of Holies,
Reference: Exodus 26:31-33.
And: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The third meaning applies here. behind: Grk. meta, prep. with a root meaning of "in the midst of" (DM 107), may be used (1) as a marker of association; with, among; or (2) as a sequential marker; after, behind. The second usage is intended here. the second: Grk. deuteros, adj., second, the other of two.
curtain: Grk. ho katapetasma, that which is spread out downwards, that which hangs down, a curtain, use here of the inner veil of the mishkan. In the LXX katapetasma translates two Heb. terms: (1) paroket (SH-6532), the partition between the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place (Ex 26:31, 33); (2) masak (SH-4539), a covering, screen, used of the curtain that screened the outside entrance or doorway to the Holy Place (Ex 40:5).
Both curtains in the mishkan were made of "blue and purple and scarlet material, and fine twisted linen" (Ex 26:31, 36). The paroket was adorned with figures of cherubim woven into it (Ex 26:31). Bruce notes that Philo also distinguishes the two curtains by using katapetasma for the inner veil and calling the outer entrance curtain kalumma (Life of Moses II, §101).
a room: Grk. skēnē. See the previous verse. In Greek literature the term was used for a room within a larger structure (LSJ). Most versions translate the term here as "tabernacle" or "tent," which can be misleading. Paul is describing two rooms within a single tent. Some versions translate the term here as "room" (EHV, ERV, EXB, ICB, TLB, MRINT, NCV, NIV, NLT). being called: Grk. legō, pres. pass. part. See verse 2 above. the Holy: neut. pl. of Grk. ho hagios. See verse 1 above.
of Holies: neut. pl. of Grk. ho hagios. The Greek phrase translates Heb. qodesh ha-qodashim (Ex 26:33). The neuter plural of the Greek term is used in the LXX of the "Holy of Holies." The Holy of Holies comprised one-third of the area of the tent with the dimensions deduced as a perfect cube of 10 cubits (15 ft.) in every direction (Ex 26:31-33).
4 having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant, having been covered in every part with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and the staff of Aaron the one having budded, and the tablets of the covenant.
Reference: Exodus 16:33; 25:10-16; 30:1-6; Numbers 17:8-10; Deuteronomy 10:3-5.
Paul now lists some important items, first one near the Holy of Holies and the rest inside the Holy of Holies. having: Grk. echō, pres. part. See verse 1 above. Here the verb emphasizes proximity. the golden: Grk. chrusous, adj., made of or adorned with gold; golden. Gold was the metal of choice in sacred vessels and adornments. altar of incense: Grk. thumiatērion may mean a censer or an altar of burning incense, here the latter. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The noun is rare in Greek literature in which it referred to a censer or vessel for fumigation (LSJ).
In the LXX thumiatērion occurs only twice in the Tanakh (2Chr 26:19; Ezek 8:11) and translates Heb. miqtereth (SH-4730), a censer. The Greek term also occurs in 4Maccabees 7:11 of a censer carried by Aaron to stop a plague as reported in Numbers 16:47. McKee argues for the translation of "censer" found in some versions (DRA, KJV, NKJV, NMB, YLT). A censer was a vessel used for offering incense, and it probably was also used for carrying live coals (HBD). However, there is no mention of a golden censer being used inside the tabernacle.
Messianic Jewish versions (CJB, MW, OJB, and TLV), as well as the great majority of Christian versions, translate the Greek term here as "altar of incense." The Hebrew name for the altar of incense is mizbah ("altar") ha-qetoreth ("incense, odor of burning, smoke") found in Exodus 30:27. The instructions for constructing this altar is found in Exodus 30:1-6. The altar was positioned in the Holy Place "before" the inner veil that screened the Holy of Holies (Ex 30:6; cf. 40:5). Aaron and his successors were charged with burning incense every morning and evening (Ex 30:7-8).
Bruce notes that the Greek term thumiatērion is used in other Jewish literature of the incense altar: (1) Philo, Who is Heir of Divine Things? §226f; Life of Moses II, §94, 101; (2) Josephus, Ant. III, 6:8; 8:3; Wars V, 5:5. Fruchtenbaum points out that although the altar of incense was located in the first room, its purpose and ministry were for the second room, the Holy of Holies. Paul is not emphasizing the place where it stood but its liturgical function. As the smoke from the incense went up, it went through the veil into the Holy of Holies and God's presence. In the book of Revelation incense released from golden bowls represents the prayers of God's people (5:8; 8:3-4).
Hegg comments that "our author carefully reproduces the language of 1Kings 6:22 (MT/LXX) by writing: '…the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense.'" In verse 2 above, the preposition en ("in") is used to note the location of the menorah and the table of the sacred bread in the first room. But in regard to the altar of incense, the verb "to have" is employed to emphasize both the proximity and the association of the golden altar with the ark of the covenant. Hegg concludes,
"By doing so, he conveyed the language of the Tanakh which consistently connects the altar of incense with the ark of the covenant: thus the altar of incense belonged to the Most Holy Place."
Gruber comments that in Jewish tradition there was a disagreement over the exact location of the incense altar in the tabernacle. Some Sages said there were two curtains, one cubit apart, between the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place, and that the incense altar was located between the two curtains.
"MISHNA: The High Priest would then walk west through the Sanctuary until he reaches the area between the two curtains that separated the Sanctuary and the Holy of Holies, and the space between them was one cubit. Rabbi Yosei says: There was only one curtain there, as it is stated: "And the curtain shall divide for you between the Sanctuary and the Holy of Holies"" (Exodus 26:33). (Yoma 5:1)
In the Gemara R. Nathan said: "With regard to the one-cubit partition, the Sages did not determine its status, whether it was part of the inside of the Holy of Holies or part of the outside area of the Sanctuary." (Yoma 52a)
and: Grk. kai, conj. the ark: Grk. ho kibōtos (for Heb. aron), a wooden box or chest. of the covenant: Grk. ho diathēkē (from diatithēmi, "to set out in order"), a formal agreement having complete terms determined by the initiating party, which also are fully affirmed by the one entering the agreement (HELPS). In Classical Greek literature the term diathēkē had a variety of meanings: disposition of property by will, a mystical oracle, the name of an eye salve and a compact or covenant (LSJ). The noun occurs 33 times in the Besekh, over half (17) in Hebrews, which makes it an important theme.
In the LXX diathēkē occurs 270 times and almost always translates Heb. b'rit (SH-1285), pact, compact, or covenant (BDB 136), used first in Genesis 6:18 of God's covenant with Noah and subsequently in the Tanakh of God's covenants with Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Israel, Aaron, and David. See my article The Everlasting Covenants. Hughes points out that the decision to use diathēkē relied on three points of criteria (30f). First, the Greek term had to have an almost exclusive legal usage since b'rit was founded upon legal precepts. Second, the term had to designate a relationship inaugurated, defined and controlled by one party.
Third, the term had to designate a unilaterally enacted relation defined by certain laws and which may result in certain benefits for the inferior party. The Jewish translators of the LXX might have used sunthēkē, which only means an agreement, but as Hughes notes, sunthēkē did not define a relationship in which a superior party exercised control over the welfare of an inferior party. Zodhiates also says that diathēkē was chosen because there was no better word available to express the Hebrew idea of a irrevocable disposition made by God of His own gracious choice to secure a religious inheritance to His chosen people.
Each of the divine covenants also set forth specific expectations, duration and a sign or perpetual reminder of the covenant. Thus, b'rit refers to a declaration of God's will, not the result of an agreement between two parties. The divine covenant was "with" a beneficiary only in the sense of their being chosen by God. The participation of the "one chosen" was to accept it or reject it and then upon acceptance to obey its expectations.
Instructions for making the "ark of the covenant" are given in Exodus 25:10-15, and it was constructed by the craftsman Bezalel (Ex 37:1). The sacred chest was initially called the "ark of the testimony" (Heb. eduth), because it served as a testimony of God's commandments and His faithfulness to His covenant promises. The full term "ark of the covenant" first appears in Numbers 10:33. The ark was rectangular in dimensions, about four feet long, two and a half feet wide, and two and a half feet deep. The ark was designed for mobility with permanent poles used to lift and carry the ark, and only priestly (Levitical) personnel were allowed to transport the ark (HBD).
having been covered: Grk. perikaluptō, perf. pass. part. in every part: Grk. pantothen, adv. with gold: Grk. chrusion, the precious metal known as gold, used here of gold plating. In the LXX of the Torah instructions (Ex 25:11) chrusion translates Heb. zahab (SH-2091), gold. Gold was required in the fabrication of many components and furnishings of the mishkan.
A very ancient poem, the "Song of the Ark" in Numbers 10:35-36, sheds some light on the function of the ark in the wanderings in the wilderness. When the Israelites journeyed from an encampment site the ark of the covenant led the procession (cf. Num 10:33; Josh 3:3). The ark was the symbol of God's presence to guide the nation, as well as to lead them in battle (cf. Josh 6:6-8). During the period of the judges the ark was kept at Bethel (Jdg 20:27) and then Shiloh (1Sam 4:4). After David was made king he had the ark brought into Jerusalem (2Sam 6:12, 17).
With the building of the first temple the ark of the covenant moved into the inner sanctuary (1Kgs 8:6) and there it remained for over three hundred years. When the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem they carried off everything in the temple (2Kgs 25:13-20; 2Chr 36:18). But, the ark was not on the list of things taken by the Babylonians or returned by Cyrus when the temple vessels were restored (Ezra 1:1-11). There is a Jewish tradition that Jeremiah secretly removed the ark when he was allowed to leave and then hid it in a cave (2Macc 2:4-8). The Sages also said the ark was hidden (Yoma 54a), but gave no credence to the Maccabean report. However, we should consider that the ark is in heaven (Rev 11:19).
in: Grk. en, prep. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. was a golden: Grk. chrusous, adj., made of or adorned with gold. jar: Grk. stamnos (from histēmi, conveying a standing item), an earthen jar, pot or vase. In the LXX of the Torah instructions (Ex 16:33) stamnos translates Heb. tsintseneth (SH-6803), a jar or like receptacle. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. Curious is the fact that the description of the jar being golden is not found in the DSS (4Q22), the Targum Jonathan or the MT, but it is in the LXX. The Jewish translators of the LXX obviously had access to a Hebrew text with the description. Philo also mentions that the jar was made of gold (On Mating with the Preliminary Studies §100).
holding: Grk. echō, pres. part. See verse 1 above. the manna: Grk. ho manna (which transliterates Heb. man, SH-4478), a special food associated with Israel's experience in the wilderness. The meaning of Heb. man may have come from the question the Israelites asked when they first saw the food: "What is it (Heb. man hu)?" (Ex 16:15). Another suggestion is that the word derives from an Egyptian word meaning "gift" or "coming from the sky every day" (Feinberg 75). Manna came with the dew in the night (Num 11:9) and the people found it around their camp in the morning (Ex 16:13-14).
The color of manna is described as white (Ex 16:31). There is no evidence that manna contained leaven or yeast, because it would melt with the heat of the day (Ex 16:21). Remarkable is that this divinely provided food provided sustenance for the Israelites in the wilderness for forty years, but then ceased when they entered the Land of Canaan (Josh 5:12). God directed that a jar of manna be kept in the Ark of the Testimony as a constant reminder of His sovereign provision (Ex 16:32-34).
and: Grk. kai. the staff: Grk. ho rhabdos (for Heb. matteh, SH-4294), a staff or rod. of Aaron: Grk. Aarōn, which transliterates Heb. Aharôn, the elder brother of Moses (by three years, Ex 7:7). With his wife Elisheba, Aaron had four sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar (Ex 6:23). Aaron's life during the 40-year exile of Moses in Midian is unknown, but he maintained the faith, kept contact with Israel's leaders, and did not forget his brother (Ex 4:27-31). Aaron had a major role in presenting God's demands to Pharaoh and directly involved in imposing four of the ten judgment plagues on Egypt (blood, frogs, lice, and boils).
During the wilderness years Aaron's life was one of highs and lows. En route to Sinai Aaron distinguished himself by assisting in holding up the arms of Moses as he interceded for victory against the Amalekites (Ex 17:10-12). At Mt. Sinai Aaron was privileged to be one of the Israelite leaders who joined Moses on the mountain where they saw the God of Israel and ate and drank in His presence (Ex 24:9-11). Aaron was Israel's first high priest chosen by God (Ex 28:1; 40:12-15), and although marred by the golden calf failure Aaron was generally faithful to his priestly office. He is presented in a favorable light in several passages (Ex 16:2; Num 1:3, 17; 14:2; 16:3, 41, 46-48; 17:1; 18:19-20; 20:2)
the one: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having budded: Grk. blastanō, aor. part., to cause to come out a growth, produce or, to come out as something growing, sprout. The clause alludes to the narrative of Numbers 17:8-10. In response to the rebellion of Korah ADONAI demanded that each of the tribal leaders provide a rod. God explained that He would choose the rod that sprouted to settle the matter of which family was chosen to occupy the office of high priest. Overnight Aaron's rod sprouted and produced blossoms, and bore ripe almonds (Num 17:8). As a result Aaron's rod was to be kept as a sign against any future rebellion on the matter of priesthood.
and: Grk. kai. the tablets: pl. of Grk. ho plax, surface used for inscribing, here of a stone tablet. In the LXX plax translates Heb. luach (SH-3871), a tablet, board or plank, a plate, first in Exodus 31:18. of the covenant: Grk. ho diathēkē. Just as the ark of the covenant was known as the ark of the testimony, so the tablets on which God had inscribed the Ten Commandments was called the "tablets of the testimony" (Ex 31:18). Such description makes "covenant" a functional synonym of "testimony." The description "tablets of the covenant" also occurs a few times in the Torah (Deut 9:9, 11, 15). Moses twice explained this terminology, first at Sinai when he prepared the replacement tablets,
27 And ADONAI said to Moses, "Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel." 28 So he was there with ADONAI forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments." (Ex 34:27-28 BR).
Moses repeated this explanation to Israel in Moab, but refers to the first set of tablets inscribed by the finger of God,
"So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and ADONAI wrote them on two tablets of stone" (Deut 4:13 BR).
The association of the tablets containing the Ten Commandments with the covenant God made with Israel implies a powerful rebuttal to replacement theology and the idea that God canceled the Torah. Yeshua and the apostle Paul strongly affirmed the authority of the Ten Commandments (Matt 19:17-19; Rom 13:8-9; 1Cor 7:19). If the Ten Commandments are still in force, so is the covenant God made with Israel.
5 And above it were cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat, concerning which it is not now the time to speak in detail.
Reference: Exodus 25:18-22.
And: Grk. de, conj. above: Grk. huperanō, adv., above, used here in a spatial sense. it: Grk. autos, an intensive personal pronoun, often used to distinguish a person or thing in contrast to another, or to give him (it) prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here. The pronoun refers back to the ark of the covenant mentioned in the previous verse. were cherubim: neut. pl. of Grk. cheroubin ("kher-oo-beem"), a heavenly being that serves God. The noun cheroubin occurs only here in the Besekh. The Greek letter ki (χ) is meant to be pronounced like the "ch" in Bach.
The term is given here in the neuter form, but in the LXX the masculine cheroubim is used to transliterate the Heb. kerubim (pl. of kerub, SH-3742), first in Genesis 3:24 where they were appointed as guardians to prevent reentry into the Garden. Instructions for making the figures of the cherubim that adorned the cover of the ark are found in Exodus 25:18-20. The cherubim were made of gold, depicted with two wings and situated facing each other. Most scholars suggest the cherubim had a human form (cf. Ezek 1:5-11; 10:8).
of glory: Grk. doxa literally means "what evokes good opinion, i.e. that something has inherent, intrinsic worth" (Thayer). In biblical usage doxa serves as a translation in the LXX of the Hebrew kabôd (SH-3519), splendor or brightness, which conveys the majesty of that which belongs to God, to the Messiah or to angels (DNTT 2:45). Kabôd (pronounced "kah-vohd") is particularly used to refer to the luminous manifestation of God's person, His glorious revelation of Himself (Ex 24:16-17). Here doxa may substitute for "heaven" since the cherubim were made to represent actual cherubim in heaven.
Kerubim are mentioned 91 times in the Tanakh (e.g., 2Sam 22:11; Ps 18:10; Ezek 10:1; 11:1). Satan himself was originally a kerub (Ezek 28:14, 16). ADONAI is spoken of as enthroned above the cherubim (2Sam 6:2; 2Kgs 19:15; 1Chr 13:6; Ps 80:1; 99:1; Isa 37:16). We should note that the cherubim are not strictly speaking "angels," since the term "angel" is never applied in Scripture to this special class of heavenly beings. For a complete discussion of all the heavenly beings that serve God see my article The Host of Heaven.
No reason is given for the construction of the golden cherubim and it may seem a conundrum considering the prohibition of making an image of anything in heaven (Ex 20:4). However, God did not violate His own law because what the second commandment prohibited was the worship of God under a material form. The presence of the cherubim as guardians emphasized the holiness of the ark and served as a visual warning against mishandling the sacred chest (cf. 2Sam 6:6-7).
overshadowing: Grk. kataskiazō, pl. pres. part., to overshadow, cover with shade. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. The outstretched wings of the kerubim gave the appearance of a protective covering. the mercy seat: Grk. hilastērion (from hilaskomai, "to propitiate"), the lid or cover of the golden ark of the covenant. This was where the blood of a lamb was sprinkled on the Day of Atonement to accomplish atonement, thus "place of propitiation."
concerning: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; in behalf of, about, concerning. which: pl. of Grk. hos, relative pronoun. The plural pronoun alludes to all the aspects of the structure of the mishkan and its furnishings described to this point. it is: Grk. eimi, pres., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not.
now the time: Grk. nun, adv., marker of time in the present; now or just now. to speak: Grk. legō, pres. inf. See verse 2 above. in: Grk. kata, prep., generally used to signify (1) direction, 'against, down;' (2) position, 'down, upon, in;' or (3) relation, 'according to, in reference to.' The third usage is intended here. detail: Grk. meros, a part, portion or share, used here to mean in a point by point manner. Gill points out that to speak in detail of the mishkan, which the book of Exodus spends several chapters on, would require more time than the apostle had, and exceed the bounds of this letter.
Priestly Ministry of the Mishkan, 9:6-10
6 Now these things thus having been prepared, indeed the priests continually entering into the first room, accomplishing the sacred services.
Reference: Numbers 18:2-6.
In this section of the chapter Paul transitions from a description of the mishkan to summarizing the priestly ministry that took place there and in so doing he points out five serious deficiencies of that ministry. These defiencies serve to contrast with the superior priestly ministry of Yeshua.
Now: Grk. de, conj. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. The pronoun refers back to the description of the mishkan and its contents in the previous five verses. thus: Grk. houtōs, adv. used to introduce the manner or way in which something has been done or to be done; thus, in this manner, in this way or like this. having been prepared: Grk. kataskeuazō, perf. pass. part. See verse 2 above. Chrysostom observed that even though these things were there, the Jews did not enjoy them, because they never saw them (cf. Heb 8:5).
indeed: Grk. mén, conj. See verse 1 above. the priests: pl. of Grk. hiereus (from hieros, "sacred"), person who offers sacrifice to a deity at a place of worship and in general is occupied with sacred rites; priest. In the LXX hiereus translates Heb. kohen (SH-3548), priest, first in Genesis 14:18 in reference to Melchizedek. Here hiereus denotes an ordinary priest in contrast to the high priest. continually entering: Grk. eiseimi, pres., 3p-pl., enter an area, go in or into. The present tense denotes continuous action, in fact twice every day of the year. The point of origin is outside the mishkan.
into: Grk. eis, prep., with the root meaning of "in, within," indicating the point reached or entered, here expressing direction; into (DM 114). the first room: Grk. prōtos, adj. See verse 2 above. This is the third use of the adjective in the chapter and with the same application as in verse 3 above, i.e., the Holy Place, due to the mention of the Holy of Holies in the next verse. accomplishing: Grk. epiteleō, pl. pres. part., to finish what has begun; accomplish, complete, perfect. the sacred services: pl. of Grk. ho latreia. See verse 1 above. Stern notes that the elements mentioned in verses 2 and 4 already call to mind the duties of the priests in the outer part of the mishkan (the Holy Place).
Paul alludes to the summary description of Levitical ministry in connection with the mishkan found in Numbers 18:2-6. The daily ministry included keeping the menorah continually lit (Ex 27:20-22, Lev 24:1-4), and burning incense on the incense altar (Ex 30:7–9). Luke recorded Zechariah the father of Yochanan the Immerser performing this ministry (Luke 1:9-11). On the Sabbath the priests would place fresh loaves of bread on the table (Lev 24:5–9).
The continual priestly ministry in the tabernacle imitated the constant worship in heaven as recorded by John in Revelation. For example the four living creatures declare the holiness of God Almighty day and night (Rev 4:8). Then the humans that have ascended to heaven after death likewise spend their time serving God day and night (Rev 7:15). Since there is no night in heaven (Rev 21:25) the temporal reference means that while day and night pass on earth the worship of praise continues in heaven.
7 but into the second room only the high priest once a year, not without blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of ignorance of the people.
Reference: Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 16:2, 15, 34; Numbers 15:24-27, 30-31; Deuteronomy 17:12-13
but: Grk. de, conj. into: Grk. eis, prep. the second room: Grk. deuteros, adj. See verse 3 above where "second" refers to the Holy of Holies. only: Grk. monos, adj., signifying the exclusion of any other entity; alone, only. the high priest: Grk. ho archiereus (from archē, "chief" and hiereus, "a priest"), a high or chief priest, i.e., a leader among priests.
In the LXX archiereus occurs only two times in the canonical books (Lev 4:3; Josh 24:33), but 41 times in the Apocrypha (DNTT 3:35). See my comment on the high priest at 5:1. The Jewish high priest had three significant responsibilities: (1) he was the chief executive officer over all the priests; (2) he acted as mediator between Israel and God; and (3) he served as the Chief Judge of the nation. In the context of the Torah the instructions pertain to Aaron, the brother of Moses, as well as his successors. God specified that only Aaron or his successor could enter the Holy of Holies (Lev 16:2, 17, 33). All other priests were forbidden to enter the sacred room.
once: Grk. hapax, adv., a unique and decisive occurrence; once. a year: Grk. ho eniautos, a cycle of time, used for a period of twelve lunar months, a year. The temporal reference is to Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), which occurred on the tenth day of the seventh month called Tishri (September-October). Paul alludes to the Torah instruction of Exodus 30:10 and Leviticus 16:34. The high priest could only enter the Holy of Holies once a year. If he entered any other time he would die. The first implied deficiency is that the national atonement was never "one and done."
not: Grk. ou, adv. without: Grk. chōris, prep., in a condition or circumstance not including; apart from, lacking, separate from, without. blood: Grk. haima, the fluid that circulates in the principal vascular system of human beings and vertebrate animals, blood. The term has several figurative uses. In the LXX haima translates Heb. dam (SH-1818), blood of humans or animals with the same range of meaning, first in Genesis 4:10. The term is used here of the blood of sacrificial animals. This act was part of his mediatorial responsibility.
which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. he offers: Grk. prospherō (from pros, "toward" and pherō, "to bear"), pres., to cause movement of something or someone to a person or place, and used to express (1) to bring near or to; (2) to offer or present, especially of offerings to God or (3) to bear oneself towards (Zodhiates). The second usage is intended here. In the LXX prospherō translates Heb. qarab (SH-7126), "to come or draw near" or "approach," used in the sense of bringing and offering a sacrifice to ADONAI (Ex 29:3; Lev 1:2; 2:1, 8).
The majority of versions translate the verb as present tense, and the annual atonement was still occurring. Yet, the verbal clause pertains to the ministry of the tabernacle, so many versions treat the verb as a "historical present" and translate as "he offered" (ICB, ISV, KJV, NIV, NKJV, NLT).
for: Grk. huper, prep., lit. "over, above," used to express a stance of concern or interest relating to someone or something. With the genitive case of the pronoun following the preposition emphasizes a supportive aspect; for the advantage of, in behalf of, in the interest of. himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun of the third person to denote that the agent and the person acted on are the same. The second implied deficiency is that the high priest was a sinner and as such his sin must be atoned before atonement could be provided to the nation (Lev 9:7; 16:6). Westcott observed that "he entered only in the power of another life" (251).
and: Grk. kai, conj. for the unintentional sins: pl. of Grk. ho agnoēma, inadvertent violations of Torah commandments. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The Torah recognizes that transgressions could be unintentional, a sin of error, inadvertent or from negligence (Lev 4:1-3, 27-28; 5:18; Num 15:22-29; Deut 19:4-6). Many versions translate the term as "sins of ignorance," but the Israelites could never claim ignorance since the commandments were publicly proclaimed to them. Some versions have "unintentional sins" (ESV, GW, MW, NOG, NRSV, TLV).
The term contrasts with transgressions deemed intentional, deliberate or "with a high hand" and for which no atonement was provided (Num 15:30-31). In fact, there were thirty-six specific transgressions for which the Torah specifies the punishment of karet, that is, being "cut off" from Israel without atonement, usually by death (cf. Ex 30:33; 31:14; Lev 7:25-27). The capital offenses are listed in the Mishnah (K'ritot 1:1). The transgressions meriting karet included the most serious crimes of murder (Ex 21:14; Lev 17:4), prohibited sexual unions (Lev 18), blasphemy (Num 15:30), idolatry (Ex 32:7-10; Deut 13), and necromancy (Lev 20:6).
There were also violations of covenantal obligations that merited the same punishment: refusing circumcision (Gen 17:14), profaning Shabbat (Ex 31:14), certain violations of purity laws (Lev 7:20-21, 25; Num 19:13), eating leavened food during Pesach (Ex 12:15), not "humbling" oneself on Yom Kippur (Lev 23:29), anointing a layman with priestly oil (Ex 30:30), duplicating priestly perfume (Ex 30:38), and eating blood (Lev 17:14).
of the people: Grk. ho laos (for Heb. am, "people, kinsman"), a group of humans, understood geographically or ethnically, and often in the Besekh the descendants of Jacob associated with the God of Israel. While individuals in Bible times had direct access to God as evidenced in the many prayers recorded in the Tanakh, God intended that His atonement for sin be mediated through the priestly ministry of offering sacrifices. Sin offerings actually occurred throughout the year, but those were for individuals. On Yom Kippur the entire nation received the benefit of atonement and God's mercy. The third implied deficiency was the limited scope of that atonement.
8 By this the Holy Spirit is showing that the way into the most holy place was not yet made known as long as the first room was existing,
By this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. The pronoun refers back to the priestly ministry described in the previous verse. the Holy: Grk. ho Hagios, adj., consecrated, set apart or sanctified by or for God and therefore different; holy, hallowed and when used of God worthy of reverence. In the LXX hagios translates Heb. qadosh (SH-6918), which means separate, sacred, holy. Qadosh is first used of God in Leviticus 11:44.
Spirit: Grk. ho Pneuma (for Heb. ruach, Resh-Vav-Chet), wind, breath or spirit; here referring to the Holy Spirit. In Scripture "holy" is only used as an adjective of "spirit" to refer to the Holy Spirit. "Holy Spirit" is not the title of a separate being, because God is Spirit (John 4:24). The specific name "Holy Spirit" occurs only three times in the Tanakh (Ps 51:11; Isa 63:10, 11). The Holy Spirit is identified by three other forms in the Tanakh (Ruach Elohim, Gen 1:2; Ruach YHVH, Jdg 3:10; and Ruach Adonai YHVH, Isa 61:1).
is showing: Grk. dēloō (from dēlos, "clear, plain"), pres. part., to make evident or clear, especially "the inner sense" or character of something with its viable inferences (Thayer); disclose, explain, indicate, make plain, reveal, show. The verb treats the narrative of verse 7 as an acted out parable. Hegg notes that this verbal clause also emphasizes the agent by Whom the Scriptures were inspired (cf. Acts 4:25; Heb. 3:7; 10:15; 2Pet 1:21).
that the way: Grk. ho hodos, with the focus on the concept of going the word typically has the sense of a route for traveling, hence a way, a road or a highway. Then, hodos is used fig. of the way or expectation of God defining manner of life or how something is to be done (Matt 22:16; Acts 13:10; 18:25). In the LXX hodos occurs frequently and is used to translate 18 different Hebrew words, but mostly Heb. derek (SH-1070), a way, road, or journey (Ps 1:6) (DNTT 3:937). The mention of "the way" could well allude to the assertion of Yeshua, "I am the way" (John 14:6).
into the most holy place: pl. of Grk. ho hagion, lit. "the holies." See verse 1 above. The term probably alludes to the holy place of heaven (cf. Heb 8:1-2). was not yet: Grk. mēpō (from mē, "not," and pō, "up to this time"), adv., thus not yet. made known: Grk. phaneroō, perf. pass. inf., cause to be in a state or condition that makes observation possible; make known, show, disclose, manifest, reveal. as long as: Grk. eti, adv. expressing continuance of an action or circumstance or expressing addition, whether of time or degree; still, yet. the first: Grk. ho prōtos, adj. See verse 1 above.
mishkan: Grk. skēnē. See verse 2 and 3 above. A few versions interpret skēnē here as referring to the first room in the mishkan (EHV, ERV, TLB), but the great majority of versions translate the noun as "tabernacle" or "tent." Mention of "the first mishkan" implies a second and the term was applied to Solomon's temple (2Chr 29:6). However, God established the priestly ministry with its ordinances in conjunction with the first mishkan, so the contrast is between that earthly sanctuary and the heavenly sanctuary.
was: Grk. echō, pres. part. See verse 1 above. Here the verb has sense of being in a physical state. existing: Grk. stasis, existence in a place; existing, place, position, standing. Its use in reference to the tent signifies dignity (Mounce). The fourth implied deficiency in the tabernacle system is that access to God was limited. Indeed the architectural design of the mishkan emphasized exclusion (Fruchtenbaum). The outer court separated Gentiles from Jews. The inner court separated non-Levites from Levites. The Holy Place separated non-priest from priest, and the Holy of Holies separated the High Priest from common priests.
9 which is an illustration for the present time, according to which both gift-offerings and sacrifices are presented, not being able to perfect the one worshiping in reference to the conscience,
which is: Grk. hostis, relative pronoun. See verse 2 above. an illustration: Grk. parabolē, something serving through comparison or analogy to encourage a new perspective; parable, proverb, figure, illustration. In the LXX parabolē translates Heb. mashal (SH-4912), oracle, parable, proverb, first in Numbers 23:7. Many versions translate the term as "symbol," but a few have "illustration" (ISV, MRINT, NIV, NLT). The detailed instruction God gave to Moses regarding the construction of the mishkan and the sacred services to be conducted therein, serve as a dramatic revelation of the means by which eternal redemption would be secured through the work of Yeshua at the appointed time (Hegg).
for: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." the present: Grk. ho enistēmi, perf. part., be present or be here. time: Grk. ho kairos, time, which may refer to (1) a definite segment of time; (2) an opportune time; (3) the right time; or (4) a limited period of time. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX kairos translates at least three different Heb. words with the same range of meaning (DNTT 3:835). There is a certain ambiguity in the temporal reference (Bruce). Is it the time then present (BRG, KJV, NET, NMB) or the time now present (AMPC, CJB, ESV, NTE, RSV)?
Some scholars interpret the "time" as the period of the tabernacle's existence (Barnes, Meyer, Nicoll). Other scholars interpret the phrase to mean Paul's generation, the New Covenant having been inaugurated (Faussett, Fruchtenbaum, Gill). Farrar explains that the Greek phrase interprets the Hebrew expression olam hazeh, "the present age." Yeshua and Paul sometimes referred to the Hebrew concept of ages, the present age (Matt 28:20; Mark 10:30; 1Cor 1:20; 2:6, 8; 3:18; Gal 1:4; Eph 1:21; Titus 2:12) and the age to come (Heb. olam haba; Matt 12:32; Mark 10:30; Eph 1:21; Heb 6:5). The present age ends when Yeshua returns (Matt 13:39-40, 49; 24:3).
Guthrie notes that the symbolic purpose of the tabernacle is limited to the present age, which seems to contrast with the future age. Stern comments that "the present age refers to the period after Yeshua’s first coming, yet before the Mosaic Covenant's system of priesthood and sacrifice has altogether disappeared (cf. Heb 8:13)." However, in the context of thought in this chapter the olam hazeh with its prophetic anticipation of the Messiah began with the inauguration of the mishkan ministry. Farrar presents the interesting analogy that followers of Yeshua are living already in the olam haba (cf. Heb 6:5), but the unbelieving Jew is still in the olam hazeh.
according to: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 5 above. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. both: Grk. te, conj. gift-offerings: pl. of Grk. dōron, a gift in general or a sacrificial donation or offering. The great majority of versions translate the term as "gifts." Here the term refers to prescribed sacrifices offered at the Temple (cf. Matt 5:23; 8:4; 15:5; 23:18; Mark 7:11; Heb 5:1). In the LXX dōron most frequently translates Heb. qorban (SH-7133), offering, oblation (Lev 1:2-3, 10, 14; 2:1, 4-6; Num 5:15; 6:14), but also Heb. minchah (SH-4503), an offering made to God of any kind, whether of the flock or the field (Gen 4:4-5) (DNTT 2:41).
and: Grk. kai, conj. sacrifices: pl. of Grk. thusia, an official sacrifice prescribed by ADONAI, part of which was burned on the altar and part given to the priests and the persons offering the sacrifice (cf. Ex 34:15; Lev 8:31; Deut 12:27; 1Cor 10:18) (Zodhiates). Thus, thusia is distinguished from the burnt offering, which is totally consumed by fire (Ex 10:25; 18:12; Deut 12:6; cf. Mark 12:33). In the LXX thusia generally translates two Hebrew terms for sacrificial offerings: minchah (SH-4503) and zebach (SH-2077). The minchah was an offering made to God of any kind, whether of grain or animals.
However, in Torah sacrifice instructions minchah is used especially of the grain offering (Lev 2:1). The grain offering was a voluntary act of worship as recognition of God's goodness and provisions or an expression of devotion to God. The offering might be raw, roasted, ground to flour, or prepared as bread or cakes, but no yeast or honey. The grain offering accompanied burnt offerings, sin offerings and peace offerings (along with a drink offering). The zebach was an animal sacrifice of which the flesh is eaten, especially of the peace offering, often at a pilgrim festival (e.g., Ex 12:27; 34:25).
The peace offering was a voluntary act of worship to express thanksgiving and fellowship. The offering had to be any animal without defect from herd or flock and a variety of breads. Unlike most sacrificial offerings, a peace or fellowship offering was eaten in part by the worshipper and his family, as if God had invited them to dinner at his table and his family. The peace offering is a celebration of shalom between all the participants. Thusia was also used of thank or praise offerings of the lips (Ps 27:6; 50:14; 107:22; 116:17; Heb 13:15).
are presented: Grk. prospherō, pres. pass. See verse 7 above. While the temporal reference "present time" finds its antecedent in the tabernacle ministry of verses 6-8, the present tense of the verb here would certainly apply to the contemporary services at the Jerusalem temple. As long as the national sanctuary was in operation the same sacrifices prescribed in the Torah were continually offered. Paul himself participated in presenting sacrificial offerings at the Temple (Acts 21:26; 24:17).
The following clause is actually a parenthetical thought that interrupts the flow of the description that continues into the next verse. not: Grk. mē, adv., a particle of qualified negation related to the exercise of the will. being able: Grk. dunamai, pl. pres. pass. part., to be capable of doing or achieving; be able.
to perfect: Grk. teleioō, aor. inf., bring to a point at which nothing is missing, and the focus may be (1) carrying out a task or responsibility; complete; (2) bringing something to a designed conclusion; complete; or (3) bringing to the ultimate point of maturation; complete, to perfect. The third focus is in view here. In the LXX teleioō occurs 25 times with the same range of meaning (DNTT 2:60). In this context the verb is a functional synonym of "cleanse" in verse 14 below and implies a spiritual renewal of the inner self.
the one: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. worshiping: Grk. latreuō, pres. part., to minister or serve God, often in the context of religious activity at the sanctuary. The present tense corresponds to the temporal reference "present time." in reference to: Grk. kata. the conscience: Grk. suneidēsis (from sũn, "with" and eidō, "to know, to see"), sensitivity to moral or ethical expectations; properly, joint-knowing, i.e. conscience which joins moral and spiritual consciousness as part of being created in the divine image (HELPS).
In the LXX suneidēsis occurs twice, first in Ecclesiastes 10:20 where it translates Heb. madda (SH-4093), knowledge, thought; and then in the Apocrypha (Wisdom 17:11). This term occurs 30 times in the Besekh and outside of Hebrews the term occurs only in Paul's speeches (Acts 23:1; 24:16), and in his letters. The conscience only functions best as an internal awareness of right and wrong when guided by knowledge of God's commandments (Rom 2:15; cf. 1Cor 8:7; Heb 10:2). Violating God's commandments leaves a stain of guilt on the conscience.
The stated deficiency is that the sacrificial system since its inauguration had never succeeded in changing the individual Israelite's heart attitudes. Their values were still too much influenced by pagan culture. The sacrifices may have satisfied God's justice to prevent destroying the nation (cf. Ex 32:9-10, 32-35), but because there was no resulting spiritual regeneration there was no motivation to stop sinning. The assertion was especially true for Paul's "present time" because before he met Yeshua he was part of an adulterous and sinful generation (Matt 12:39; Mark 8:38; Luke 11:50-51; Acts 2:40; cf. Rom 7:7-11).
The Christian reader might wonder why Paul would involve himself in presenting sacrificial offerings at the Temple when the perfect sin offering had already been made (Rom 6:10; Heb 7:26-27) and his offering provided no internal purification. Colin Brown suggests that Paul was being consistent with his stated principle of remaining a Torah observant Pharisee in order to win his fellow Jews (1Cor 9:20-21) (DNTT 3:431). The temple ministry had yet to fade away (Heb 8:13) and while that ministry continued he could not in good conscience fail to obey God's requirements of Jews.
10 being only (in addition to food and drink and various washings) ordinances of the flesh, being imposed until a time of reformation.
The syntax of this verse may seem strange, but it is intended to have an explanatory function, supplementing the clause in the previous verse "gift-offerings and sacrifices are presented."
being: A present tense verb seems implied here as complementary to the present tense verb in the last clause; "being" (ASV, DLNT, WEB); "consisting" (ABP, BHIB, BLB, Darby). only: Grk. monon, adv., neuter of monos ("alone, only"), marking a narrow limitation; alone, merely, just, only. in addition to: Grk. epi, prep., with the root meaning of "upon," used primarily as a marker of position or location; and in composition may be translated 'at, against, by, near, on, upon, or over.' With the dative case of the three nouns following the preposition marks an addition to something already mentioned or implied as in 8:1 (Zodhiates 619). This was a common usage in classical Greek (DM 107).
food: pl. Grk. brōma, that which is prepared for eating and consumed at a meal, food. and: Grk. kai, conj. drink: pl. of Grk. poma (from pinō, "to drink"), a beverage prepared for drinking. Bruce, like other Christian commentators, interprets "food and drink" as referring to the kosher food laws in Leviticus 11. However, the ministry and obligations of the Levitical priesthood are in view in this chapter. On the matter of food the priests were allowed to eat portions of the animal and grain sacrifices they offered (Lev 6:14-16, 24-26; 7:1-6; 8:31; 10:12). Conversely, as with all Israelites the priests were forbidden to eat fat, blood or anything deemed unclean (Lev 3:17; 7:23-26; 11:4-11).
In the matter of drink McKee points out this obviously cannot be connected to the kosher laws, because the Torah's dietary instructions do not prohibit the consumption of alcohol. Indeed wine was one of the first fruits Israelites were to give to the Levites as part of their tithe (Num 18:12, 30-31). Drink offerings were prescribed to accompany various sacrifices (Ex 25:29; 29:40-41; 37:16; Lev 23:13, 18, 27; Num 6:15; 15:5), but priests were prohibited from consuming wine or strong drink while on duty in the tabernacle (Lev 10:9).
and: Grk. kai. various: pl. of Grk. diaphoros, adj., varying in kind, different or dissimilar. The adjective does not denote difference in manner of execution but difference in purpose. washings: pl. of Grk. baptismos (from baptizō, "to wash or plunge into a liquid"), thorough immersion in liquid, used here of washing for a religious purpose. Priests were required to bathe or immerse in water for various occasions: (1) as preparatory to ordination (Ex 29:4); (2) as preparatory to and following the offering of the Yom Kippur sacrifice (Num 16:4, 24); and (3) in supervising ritual washing in order to complete the cleansing of a person, garment or house diagnosed with a physical contamination (Lev 13:6, 34, 47, 53-58; 14:34, 52).
The clause "in addition to food and drink and various washings" is a parenthetical comment, as I have indicated by the use of parentheses, that depicts religious obligations in addition to the sacrifices mentioned in the previous verse. A few versions also set off the clause in a similar manner (ASV, DLNT, WEB). These obligations just as the sacrifices are likewise unable to cleanse the conscience.
ordinances: pl. of Grk. dikaiōma. See verse 1 above. As there the term refers to regulations that God decreed to govern priestly ministry. See the Textual Note below. for the body: Grk. sarx, "flesh," has a variety of literal and figurative uses in Scripture. Here the term refers to the whole physical human body as it relates to participation in the food, drink and washings just mentioned. All of the ordinances were intended for the benefit of the priests and Israel and the mention of them here presumes no criticism. Indeed, these regulations were intended to preserve the holiness of the priesthood. Yet, the benefit of the regulations was external, not internal.
being imposed: Grk. epikeimai (from epi, "upon," and keimai, "to lie on"), pres. pass. part., to lie in a superimposed position, used here in a metaphoric sense meaning to be laid upon, imposed upon, with the focus on necessity determined by law (Zodhiates). The verb emphasizes that all the requirements placed on the Levitical priests pertaining to sacrificial offerings and various complementary ordinances were not voluntary. Indeed, failure to follow God's instructions could (and did) result in severe judgment. Bruce notes that for Paul these religious requirements foreshadowed things to come (cf. Col 2:16-17).
until: Grk. mechri, adv. expressing a limit, here temporal; as far as, until, even to. a time: Grk. kairos. See the previous verse. of reformation: Grk. diorthōsis (from diorthoō, "to set right"), to make straight something that has shifted from its true position (Hegg); amendment, correction, reformation. LSJ says the term was used in Greek literature by Hippocrates for the setting of a limb (De officina medici, Part 16). The term occurs one other time in the Besekh, in Acts 24:2, in which opponents of Paul compliment Felix, the governor of Judaea, for having made "reforms" in the province that contributed to law and order.
In this context the correction of the priesthood, like the original Torah statutes governing the priesthood, is not voluntary. Taking verse 9 and 10 together Paul argues that the requirements for sacrificial offerings along with the ordinances serve as a symbol of the ministry of the Messiah and they would continue until the time when God would replace the Levitical high priest with the Melchizedekian high priest. That time, according to the next verse, has come.
Bruce, Farrar and Meyer liken the "time of reformation" to the epoch of the New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah and inaugurated by Yeshua. Barnes, Guthrie and McKee see a parallel between the term diorthōsis and the term apokatastasis ("restoration") used by Peter to describe what Yeshua would accomplish (Acts 3:21). The beginning point of the time of reformation and restoration coincides with the accession of Yeshua to the office of high priest. Stern comments,
"The author expresses the view that sacrifice and priesthood are indeed necessary, that the Mosaic [sic] system was imposed until the time for God to reshape the whole structure, literally, 'until a time of re-formation,' and thus prefigured the system established by Yeshua the Messiah."
NOTE: I think use of the adjective "Mosaic" to describe the Torah or any of its contents should be avoided since it allows Christians to denigrate both Moses and the Torah and treat the Torah as annulled. Moses did not invent any of the Torah laws, so why call the religious system "Mosaic?" The commands, ordinances and statutes set forth in the Torah were decreed by God.
The "re-formed" priestly ministry of Yeshua is set forth in verses 11-14 below. McKee comments that this "setting things right" relates firstly "to the coming of Yeshua into the lives of men and women who desperately need spiritual renewal and restoration with God. The "time of reformation" did not mean a rejection of God's covenant people or rescinding of requirements (such as circumcision and kosher food laws) that mark Israel as the chosen people. Also, the reformation did not imply an end of the obligation of Jews to observe God's appointed times, as reflected in the actions and writings of the apostles.
In fact, the apostles continued to observe the "Jewish" calendar (cf. Acts 2:1; 3:1; 12:3-4; 13:14, 42, 44; 15:21; 16:13; 17:2, 26; 18:4; 19:8; 20:6, 16; 21:24; 27:9; 1Cor 5:7-8; 7:19; 16:8; Col 2:16). There is no instruction anywhere in the apostolic canon to discard the calendar decreed by God in favor of a calendar invented by man, as the church fathers did in the various church councils of the fourth through eighth centuries. See my article God's Appointed Times.
Secondly, at the time of this letter the Sadducean priesthood was desperately corrupt and could only be corrected by Yeshua's priesthood definitively coming on the scene. Malachi had prophesied that the Lord would "purify the sons of Levi, refining them like gold and silver, so that they can bring offerings to ADONAI uprightly" (Mal 3:3 CJB). This prophecy became a reality after Pentecost when a great number of priests became obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7). Of course, the leaders of the Temple were not changed and they suffered the judgment Yeshua prophesied against them in A.D. 70.
Some versions insert kai ("and") before dikaiōma (BRG, JUB, KJV, MEV, NKJV, RGT) to make the phrase "ordinances for the body" a separate category of law after the listing of food and drink and various washings. The insertion of the conjunction is found in the TR supported by a number of late manuscripts (GNT 763). Metzger notes that the lack of the conjunction is the reading of the earliest and best manuscripts, including p46 dated A.D. 200.
11 But Messiah having appeared as high priest of the good things having come, through the great and perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation,
In the rest of this chapter and to verse 18 of the next chapter Paul offers a series of contrasts between the priestly ministry of Yeshua and the Levitical priesthood to demonstrate the superiority of Yeshua's priesthood. In this section Paul identifies seven features of Yeshua's ministry that provide a remedy to the deficiencies of the Levitical priesthood.
But: Grk. de, conj. Messiah: Grk. Christos (from chriō, "to anoint with olive oil"), the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Anointed One or Messiah. Christos is a royal title, not a last name. This is the fifth mention of "Messiah" in this letter. Jewish translators of the LXX chose Christos to translate Heb. Mashiach (SH-4899), "Anointed One," and in the Tanakh Mashiach is used for the Messiah (Ps 2:2; Dan 9:25-26). Jewish anticipation of the Messiah was grounded in the future hope expressed by the Hebrew prophets of one who would come to deliver and rule as God's anointed.
The Messiah would fulfill the promises made to the patriarchs and to Israel. Those promises included redemption for Israel, destruction of the enemies of Israel, the restoration of Israel to sovereign rule in its land and establishment of the Davidic monarchy over Israel and the nations (Luke 1:32, 68-74; Acts 13:32-34). What the Jews did not expect was that in order to have a victorious Messiah, they would have first a suffering Messiah, one who would be an atoning sacrifice (John 1:29). For more discussion of the Jewish hope and expectation of the Messiah see my article The Messiah.
having appeared as: Grk. paraginomai, aor. part., to make one's way so as to be present, make a public appearance; appear, arrive, come, be present. In the LXX paraginomai translates Heb. bo (SH-935), to come in, come, go in, go; first in Genesis 14:13, and especially in Hebrew constructions of signs, wonders, predictions, etc., coming to pass (Josh 21:45; 23:14; 1Sam 9:6; Isa 42:9; Jer 28:9). Thus, the verb emphasizes an action that fulfilled prophecy, previously mentioned in Hebrews (5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:17).
high priest: Grk. archiereus. See verse 7 above. More specifically Yeshua appeared as a royal high priest according to the order of Melchizedek as prophesied by David (Ps 11:4). While Yeshua's mediatorial ministry is mentioned elsewhere (Rom 8:34; 1Tim 2:5), only in Hebrews is Yeshua called "high priest" (2:17; 3:1; 4:14, 15; 5:5, 10; 6:20; 7:26; 8:1). of the good things: n. pl. of Grk. agathos, adj., achieving a high standard of excellence in meeting a need or interest, beneficial, useful, helpful or good.
In the LXX agathos translates Heb. tob ("tov," SH-2896), pleasant, agreeable, good, often used as the regular designation of God's character or actions (DNTT 2:98). The noun tov is sometimes used in a collective sense to mean the blessing of good things that come from God (Deut 28:12; Job 22:18; Ps 21:3; 103:5; 104:28; 107:9; Prov 24:25; Isa 55:2) (BDB 275). Cassirer translated agathos here as "blessings." Paul, quoting Isaiah 52:7, characterizes the content of the good news as "good things" (Rom 10:15).
having come: Grk. ginomai, aor. part., to become, and here equivalent to 'come to pass' or 'happen,' used of the fulfillment of prophesied events. See the Textual Note below. In the LXX ginomai translates Heb. hayah (SH-1961), to happen, to come into being, become, come to pass, to be, first in Genesis 1:3, and often in the Hebrew construction of something that "came to pass" (e.g. Gen 4:3, 8; 5:5; 6:1; 7:10), especially the divine answer to prayer or fulfillment of prophecy (Gen 17:19; 24:15) (DNTT 1:181). The good things that have come to pass with the Messiah are the opposite of the five deficiencies and limitations of the Levitical priesthood and explained in verses 12-15 and 24-28 below.
The phrase "good things having come" also hearkens back to 6:5 where Paul says his readers have "have experienced the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come." In his letter to the Ephesus congregation Paul gives a b'rakhah to God for the spiritual blessings that have been bestowed on Messiah's followers (Eph 1:3). In a broad sense the good things that had come would include experiencing signs and wonders, receiving the spiritual experiences of forgiveness and sanctification, empowerment by the Holy Spirit, and spiritual gifts.
The Messianic Jews receiving this letter needed to be reminded that the priestly service of Yeshua provided many good blessings that must not be ignored, especially since some of them were at the point of denying the Lord. The consequences of turning away from these blessings for the temporary benefit of social acceptance would be grievous to spiritual life and divine favor. Moreover, there are many more blessings to come in the future, as Paul testifies in verse 28 below, in 10:1, 37 and in 13:4.
through: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) instrumentality; through, by means of; or (2) causality; on account of, because of. The first usage applies here. the great: Grk. ho megas, adj., large or great in extent and is used of used of size, measure, quantity, time, age, rank or influence. In the LXX megas translates Heb. gadol (SH-1419), "great," which may denote magnitude and extent, number, intensity, volume of sound, age, or importance (BDB 152f).
and: Grk. kai, conj. perfect: Grk. teleios, adj., free from any deficiency or corruption, to be complete or perfect. The term teleios can mean fully developed, whether in a maturity sense or an ethical sense, here the former. In the LXX teleios occurs 20 times; seven times for tamim (SH-8549), complete, sound, having integrity, innocent, perfect (Gen 6:9; Deut 18:13); and seven times for Heb. shalem (SH-8003), blameless, complete, full of peace, perfect, sound (1Kgs 8:61; 11:4).
tabernacle: Grk. skēnē. See verse 2 above. Guthrie notes that patristic writers interpreted the mention of "tabernacle" as Yeshua himself, since in him the fullness of God dwelled (cf. Col 2:9), but the attributes "great" and "perfect" and the rest of the description of his verse must point to the heavenly sanctuary where Yeshua serves as high priest (see verse 24 below). Heaven is perfect because of the absence of any sin or evil (Ps 24:3-4; Matt 7:21-23; 1Cor 2:9; 6:9-10; Eph 5:5; Rev 21:10, 27; 22:14-15). Leman points out that the mishkan was constantly defiled and polluted by the sinning of the Israelite people (Lev 15:31; 20:3; Num 5:3; 19:13, 20; Jer 23:11; Ezek 5:11; 23:38) (19).
not: Grk. ou, adv. made with hands: Grk. cheiropoiētos, done or made with hands, i.e., the skill of man. that: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 6 above. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 5 above. not: Grk. ou. of this: Grk. houtos. creation: Grk. ho ktisis may refer to the act of bringing into existence, or the product of a creative act, here the latter; creation. The term properly means "creation which is founded from nothing or creation out of nothing (Latin ex nihilo)" (HELPS). The reference "this creation" is of the earth, so the point is that the perfect tabernacle in which Yeshua serves is not presently on the earth.
Bruce notes that the words "made with hands" are put into Yeshua's mouth by false witnesses at his hearing before Caiaphas (Mark 14:58). The false testimony that Yeshua would destroy the temple and then rebuild it misrepresented what he actually said (cf. John 2:19-21). Yeshua prophesied to the Samaritan woman (John 4:21) and his apostles (Matt 24:1-2; Luke 19:41-44) that the time would come when the Jerusalem temple would cease to exist, and worship would be directed to heaven (cf. John 4:23; Php 3:3). McKee comments,
"Yeshua entering into the Tabernacle in Heaven is an important facet of Apostolic teaching. The martyr Stephen proclaimed, "the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands" (Acts 7:48). The Apostle Paul told the Athenians, "The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands" (Acts 17:24). Our author's point in v. 11, more than anything else, is to get His audience to see that the important business of redemption is not consummated in some dwelling on Earth, but is ultimately consummated in Heaven with Yeshua’s priestly work."
Manuscripts are divided in the verb used in reference to the appearance of good things. The majority of manuscripts (the Majority Text) and the Textus Receptus have mellontōn, the present participle of mellō, which gives the sense of awaiting the arrival of the good things (GNT 763). Many versions accept the reading of mellontōn (ASV, AMP, BRG, DARBY, DRA, EHV, JUB, KJV, LEB, LSV, MEV, MW, NASU, NET, NJB, NKJV, NMB, RGT, VOICE, WEB, YLT).
Many manuscripts have ginomenōn, the aorist participle of ginomai, which gives the sense of having arrived. The reading of ginomenōn is supported by the earliest manuscript, p46 (200 A.D.), as well as the notable Vaticanus (4th c.), along with three Syriac versions (3rd-5th c.), Origen (254), Cyril of Jerusalem (386) and Chrysostom (407). This reading was adopted by the Westcott-Hort, Nestle-Aland and United Bible Society Greek New Testaments. Bruce says "the combination of the oldest Greek and Latin with the Syriac evidence is in itself almost irresistible in support of ginomenōn" (f68, 198).
Metzger says the presence of mellontōn in manuscripts seems to have been influenced by its presence in 10:1, where the text is firm. The UBS committee gave the reading of ginomenōn a "B" rating, indicating that the text is almost certain. The majority of versions accept the reading of ginomenōn (BSB, CEB, CEV, CJB, CSB, ERV, ESV, GNB, GNC, GW, ICB, ISV, LAMSA, TLB, MJLT, MRINT, NABRE, NASB-2020, NCB, NCV, NEB, NIV, NLT, NOG, NRSV, RSV, TLV).
12 not by the blood of goats and bulls, but through his own blood, he entered once for all into the Holy of Holies, having obtained eternal redemption.
In this verse Paul refers his readers back to the required sacrifices of Yom Kippur mentioned in verse 7 above. not: Grk. oude, a negative marker, here linking a negative statement to a preceding statement in terms of explanation; not, not even, nor. by: Grk. dia, prep. See the previous verse. The preposition expresses instrumentality here. the blood: Grk. ho haima. See verse 7 above. of goats: pl. of Grk. tragos, a male goat, a cloven-hoofed ruminant mammal. The goat is closely related to sheep.
In the LXX tragos translates two Hebrew terms: (1) tayish (SH-8495), a male goat, which occurs only four times in the Tanakh (Gen 30:35; 32:14; 2Chr 17:11; Prov 30:31); and (2) attud (SH-6260), a male goat (Gen 31:10). Of the two terms only attud is used of a sacrificial animal for a sin offering or a peace offering (Num 7:17 +25 times).
The ordinance for Yom Kippur required the high priest to take two male goats (Heb. sa'iyr; LXX ximaros) for a sin offering and a ram (Heb. ayil; LXX krios) for a burnt offering (Lev 16:5). One of the goats was sacrificed and the other goat was sent away into the wilderness as the scapegoat, bearing the sins of the people. Luke's use of tragos instead of ximaros probably represents a purposeful choice, being a more common term in Greek literature (LSJ).
and: Grk. kai, conj. bulls: pl. of Grk. moschos, a young bovine offspring, young bull or calf. In the LXX moschos translates two Hebrew words for a bull or calf: (1) baqar (SH-1241), bull, calf, cattle, herd, or an ox (Gen 12:16). The term baqar is used of the prescribed sacrifice for a peace offering (Ex 20:24), a burnt offering (Lev 1:5), an ordination offering (Ex 29:1, 10-12), and a sin offering (Lev 4:3). (2) par (SH-6499), young bull, steer, first as a sin offering (Ex 29:14, 36; Lev 4:4) and then as a burnt offering (Lev 23:18; Jdg 6:25) (BDB 830). For Yom Kippur the first sacrifice to be offered was a bull (Heb. par; LXX moschos) (Lev 16:11).
The high priest slaughtered the bull as a sin offering for himself and his household. Then he was to take a firepan full of coals of fire from upon the altar of incense and two handfuls of finely ground sweet incense, and bring it inside the veil. He was to put the incense on the fire so that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat to prevent his death. Finally he was to take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side and on the front side seven times.
Of special interest is the term par appears in the legislation for the festival of Sukkot during which seventy bulls were to be sacrificed (Num 29:12–34). The festival of Sukkot is prophetically connected with the future of the nations in the age to come, after the second coming of Yeshua the Messiah (Zech 14:16-19). The Sages of the Talmud recognized the connection of this festival with the Gentiles. Speaking of the seventy bulls to be sacrificed during the seven days of Sukkot, Rabbi Eleazar said, "To what do these seventy bulls correspond? To the seventy nations" (Sukkah 55b). In rabbinic tradition, the traditional number of Gentile nations is seventy; the seventy bulls made atonement for them.
R. Johanan added this insightful observation, "Woe to the idolaters [the Romans], for they had a loss and do not know what they have lost. When the Temple was in existence the altar atoned for them, but now who shall atone for them?" The answer is in Hebrews. The blood of Yeshua provides continuing atonement, not only for his covenant people, but also for the nations of the world.
but: Grk. de, conj. through: Grk. dia. his own: Grk. ho idios, adj., belonging to oneself, one's own. blood: Grk. haima. The mention of "his own blood" alludes to the horror of Yeshua being impaled on a Roman execution stake on Golgotha, and then finally stabbed in the side of his body by a Roman spear from which poured water and blood (John 19:34). Prior to this point in the letter Paul focused on Yeshua's role as High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. Now he introduces the shocking truth of the fulfillment of the prophecy of Yochanan the Immerser that Yeshua was the Lamb of God sent to take away sin (John 1:29, 36).
This is the first mention of the shed blood of Yeshua in Hebrews. Paul had not mentioned the blood of Messiah in his previous speeches recorded in Acts, but he did 8 times in previous letters, half of which assert the atoning power of the shed blood (Rom 3:25; 5:9; Eph 1:7; Col 1:20). In contrast to the animal sacrifices that occurred in the seventh month on Yom Kippur (Tishri 10), Yeshua provided his sacrifice in the first month on Pesach (Nisan 15). The divine choice of Passover as the time for Messiah to suffer is more significant than Yom Kippur as Paul will explain.
he entered: Grk. eiserchomai, aor., to go or enter into a geographical area, manufactured structure or other place defined in the context. In the LXX eiserchomai translates Heb. bo (SH-935), to come in, come, go in, go. once for all: Grk. ephapax, adv., once, once for all, opposite of repeatedly. McKee says the adverb applies to something "taking place once and to the exclusion of any further occurrence." Just as the sacrifice of the Levitical high priest was for the entire nation, so also the same is true of Yeshua's sacrifice.
into: Grk. eis, prep. the Holy of Holies: pl. Grk. ho hagia, neut. of the adjective hagios. See verse 1 above. This is the same term used in 8:2 of the heavenly sanctuary, which most versions translate there as "sanctuary." Here most versions translate the plural term as "holy place" or "Most Holy Place." The neuter plural of the Greek term is frequently used in the LXX of the "Holy of Holies" (e.g., Ex 26:33). Thus, the Holy of Holies in the mishkan served as a type of the heavenly sanctuary. Paul may be saying that in a mystical sense Yeshua entered the Holy of Holies of the mishkan. However, the reality is that he entered the heavenly sanctuary after ascending.
having obtained: Grk. heuriskō, aor. mid. part., to come upon, used often of finding after seeking, but the middle voice indicates the sense of acquiring, gaining or obtaining. eternal: Grk. aiōnios, adj., can mean (1) relating to a period of time extending far into the past; long ages ago; (2) relating to time without boundaries or interruption; eternal; or (3) relating to a period of unending duration; permanent, lasting. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX aiōnios occurs about 150 times to translate Heb. olam, "a long duration, antiquity or futurity" (BDB 761), which is also used as an adverb meaning "for ever, for all time," the first being in Genesis 9:12. The term olam also encompasses existence after death and into eternity (Ps 90:2; Isa 45:17; Dan 12:2–3) (DNTT 3:827).
redemption: Grk. lutrōsis (from lutroō, "to release on receipt of a ransom"), the act of freeing or releasing, deliverance (Zodhiates). Here the term is used of redemption from guilt and punishment of sin brought about by Yeshua's atonement. In the LXX lutrōsis translates Heb. geullah (SH-1353), redemption in the context of a kinsman redeeming property (Lev 25:48); and Heb. peduth (SH-6304), ransom, used in the context of redemption from iniquity (Ps 111:9; 130:7). The benefit of the Yom Kippur sacrifice was temporary, whereas the redemption through Yeshua's blood has an everlasting benefit.
The term "redemption" suggests a reason why God chose Pesach rather than Yom Kippur for Yeshua to die as an atoning sacrifice. Yeshua's death on Passover, just as in the original Exodus setting, accomplished deliverance from bondage and death. This deliverance was permanent, since Israel never again suffered enslavement in Egypt. The blood of the lambs applied to the entrances of Israelite houses served as the type of the Lamb of God whose blood would provide a permanent solution to the bondage of sin. The benefit of the Yom Kippur sacrifice was temporary, but the redemption through Yeshua's blood on Pesach accomplished an everlasting benefit. See the Additional Note below.
Additional Note: Timeline for Atonement
Bruce discusses an interpretation of various expositors (e.g., Vincent) that it was not until Yeshua bodily ascended from earth that he made atonement for us in the heavenly holy of holies. But he maintains that this is pressing the analogy of the Day of Atonement too far. When upon the cross Yeshua offered up his life to God as a sacrifice for his people's sins, he accomplished in reality what Aaron and his successors performed in type by the twofold act of slaying the victim and presenting its blood in the holy of holies.
Poole also asserts that the expiation of sin was not deferred by Yeshua to his ascension, forty-five days after his death, but was immediately on his giving up life; and in this he fulfilled all righteousness (Matt 3:15). Commentators could have considered another factor. When Yeshua was on the cross he anticipated entering heaven that day (Luke 23:43) and in his last breath he said to the Father, "into your hands I commit my spirit" (Luke 23:46). Coincidental with the death of Yeshua the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom (Matt 27:51; Mark 15:38). With the atoning sacrifice completed Yeshua's blood was simultaneously applied in the temple Holy of Holies and the heavenly sanctuary when he entered into the presence of God.
13 For if the blood of goats, and bulls, and sprinkling ashes of a heifer, sanctify those having been defiled for the purification of the flesh,
Reference: Leviticus 16:3, 14-15; Numbers 19:9, 17-19.
This verse introduces the premise of a logical argument that will be concluded in the next verse. For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 2 above. Here the conjunction expresses inference. if: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker that introduces a current real condition, or an assumption for the sake of argument; here the latter. the blood: Grk. ho haima. See verse 7 above. of goats: pl. of Grk. tragos. See the previous verse. and: Grk. kai, conj. bulls: pl. of Grk. tauros, a bull or ox.
In the LXX tauros translates three Hebrew words for a bovine animal: (1) par (SH-6499), a young bull or steer (Gen 31:15); (2) shor (SH-7794), bullock, ox (Ex 21:28); and (3) baqar, bull, calf, ox (Deut 32:14). The use of tauros as a sacrificial animal only occurs in later literature (Ps 50:13; Isa 1:11), although Zodhiates notes that tauros is a synonym of moschos (1368). The choice of tauros indicates that the setting for this logical argument has moved away from the sacrifices of Yom Kippur to include those accomplished on other occasions.
Both goats and bulls were sacrificed as burnt offerings (Lev 1:5, 10) and sin offerings (Lev 4:3, 23; 16:15). A sin offering was required along with washing to restore an unclean person to clean status (Lev 12:8; 14:19-20, 31) or to transfer a Levite from common status to holy status for sacred service at the mishkan (Num 8:8).
and: Grk. kai. sprinkling: Grk. rhantizō, pres. part., sprinkle. In the LXX rhantizō translates Heb. nazah (SH-5137), to spurt, spatter, sprinkle, first in Leviticus 6:27. ashes: Grk. spodos, the remains of something after burning, ashes. In the LXX spodos translates Heb. epher (SH-665), ashes, first in Genesis 18:27 as fig. of human decomposition, but then the term is used in reference to the ashes of a heifer, but primarily in passages as a sign of grief or humiliation.
of a heifer: Grk. damalis, a young cow, heifer. A heifer is old enough to be tamed to the yoke (Zodhiates). Damalis is a synonym of moschos and tauros (Zodhiates 1368). In the LXX damalis translates three Hebrew words: (1) eglah (SH-5697), heifer (Gen 15:9); (2) baqar (SH-1341), cattle, ox, oxen (Num 7:17); and (3) parah (SH-6510), a cow or heifer (Num 19:2). Here the phrase "ashes of a heifer" alludes to the legislation of Numbers 19.
sanctify: Grk. hagiazō (derived from hagios, "holy"), pres., to set apart into the realm of the sacred with focus on elimination of that which jeopardizes access to God; consecrate, make holy, purify. In the LXX the hagiazō translates Heb. qadash (SH-6942), to be set apart or consecrated. The legislation of Numbers 19:12 uses the verb hagnizō, to cleanse away or purify. In the context of Numbers 19 hagiazō emphasizes restoration to a "holy status" for the sake of fellowship and worship.
those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having been defiled: Grk. koinoō (from koinos, "common"), aor. part., cause to be common, here with the sense of causing impurity or defilement that precluded participation in corporate worship. The verb is rare in Jewish literature, only appearing in 4Maccabees 7:6 with the meaning of defiling in a religious sense (BAG). The category of "common" (chôl SH-2455), which occurs in the Torah only in Leviticus 10:10, included both the clean and the unclean. Chôl in a concrete sense was opposite of holy, but not necessarily evil (BDB 323).
The Hebrew verb derived from chôl meaning "to defile" is chalal (SH-2490), which is used of both moral and religious defilement, and of the latter it is used of being defiled by contact with the dead (Lev 21:4). However, chalal is translated in the LXX by bebēloō ("profane, pollute, violate"), most often with a moral meaning. Luke may have chosen to translate Paul's use of chalal with koinoō because it is used in Greek literature (LSJ) and the Besekh to refer to religious defilement (cf. Acts 10:15; 11:9).
for: Grk. pros, prep., to, toward, used here to expressed an intended purpose. the purification: Grk. ho katharotēs (from katharos, "clean"), purification, referring to the result of ritual cleansing. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. This is a rare word in Greek and Jewish literature. The LXX actually uses hagnismos ("purification") (Num 19:17). of the flesh: Grk. ho sarx. See verse 10 above. The cleansing described here means that the blood of animals could not provide internal redemption, but were limited to only providing external redemption (McKee). Cassirer translates this phrase as "outward purity."
Paul refers to the process by which a person transfers from a common-unclean status, in which a person is segregated from the congregation, to a holy status and illustrated in this chart by Gordon Wenham (19):
The last clause of this verse alludes to the ritual to restore to fellowship with the congregation a person made unclean by contact with a corpse or human remains (Num 19:11-19). An unblemished red heifer was slaughtered outside the camp and its blood sprinkled toward the mishkan. Then the carcass was completely burnt, with cedar-wood and hyssop and scarlet being cast into the midst of the burning carcass. The ashes were gathered and kept in a clean place outside the camp.
The ashes were added to clean water in a vessel and kept to serve as water for purification from sin. The cleansing ritual involved sprinkling the unclean person with hyssop dipped in the ash-water. Bruce notes that the ritual of the red heifer is mentioned here because, like the sacrifices on the Day of Atonement, it is a "sin-offering" (Num 19:9).
14 how much more the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, will cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve the living God!
how much: Grk. posos, correlative pronoun with a focus on degree, how much. more: Grk. mallon, adv., used of increase or additive in some aspect of activity, all the more, still more. These opening words of the verse signal a Jewish argument called kal v'chomer, "light and heavy," (a fortiori in logic). If "A" is true then how much more is "B" true (a fortiori). This form of argument occurs in other letters of Paul (Rom 5:9-10; 11:12, 24; 1Cor 6:3; 2Cor 3:9, 11; Phm 1:16). the blood: Grk. ho haima. See verse 6 above. of the Messiah: Grk. ho Christos. See verse 11 above. The reference in verse 12 to the blood of Messiah poured out on Golgotha is repeated.
who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. through: Grk. dia, prep. the eternal: Grk. aiōnios. See verse 12 above. Spirit: Grk. Pneuma. See verse 8 above. Paul stresses that the Holy Spirit, first mentioned in Genesis 1:2 (Ruach Elohim), is eternal because He is a "face" or Person of the triune God. offered: Grk. prospherō, aor. See verse 7 above. The verb is used in the Hebrew sense of offering a sacrifice to God. himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun. In other words, Yeshua voluntarily offered himself as an atoning sacrifice (cf. John 10:18; 19:11; Eph 5:2).
unblemished: Grk. amomos, adj., blameless, without blemish, unblemished, faultless. In the LXX amomos translates Heb. tamim (SH-8549), complete, sound, unblemished, and used of the physical requirement of animals selected for sacrifice (Lev 1:3; 3:1; 4:3; 5:15). The adjective would apply to Yeshua in both the physical sense (as high priest) and the moral sense (as an atoning sacrifice).
to God: Grk. ho theos, properly, God, the Creator and owner of all things (John 1:1-3). In the LXX the singular theos translates Hebrew words for God, El (SH-410, over 200 times), Eloah (SH-433, 55 times) and Elohim (SH-430, over 2500 times), as well as the sacred name YHVH (SH-3068, over 300 times) and its abbreviation Yah (SH-3050, over 40 times) (DNTT 2:67-70). The name Elohim primarily refers to the one only and true God of Israel (BDB 42). In Hebrew thought the plural form of Elohim represents fullness, which excludes the possible existence of any other deity (Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9).
Elohim translated by Theos also represents the full triunity of God (Father + Son + Spirit). God is a Person, not a philosophical construct for monotheism. He is particularly the God of the Hebrew patriarchs and Israel (Matt 22:32; Luke 1:68). This God may be the God of the Gentiles (Rom 3:29), but only if they accept the revelation that He is the God of Israel and join themselves to Israel. Only the God of Israel saves (Jer 16:19-20).
Sacrifices at the mishkan were offered to God and in like manner Yeshua "offered himself unblemished to God." This clause signifies Yeshua's complete submission to the Father's plan made before creation (cf. Luke 22:42; John 17:5, 24; Heb 4:3; 1Pet 1:20; Rev 13:8 CJB, NIV, NKJV).
will cleanse: Grk. katharizō (from katharos, adj., "clean"), fut., to clean or cleanse, and is used of (1) physical removal of stains and dirt (Matt 23:25); (2) physical healing of skin disease that enabled communal restoration (Luke 17:14-17); (3) pronounce clean in a Levitical sense (Acts 10:15; 11:9); and (4) removal of the guilt or defilement of sin (2Cor 7:1; Eph 5:26). The fourth meaning applies here. The verb is a word picture of removing all admixture or intermingling (HELPS). Some versions translate the verb as "purify," which may be a distinction without a difference.
In the LXX katharizō primarily translates Heb. taher (SH-2891), to cleanse or purify, first in Genesis 35:2 and about 40 times in Leviticus. The verb has wide application and is normally associated with removal of uncleanness, whether in a ceremonial, moral, physical, or spiritual sense that will enable a person to have contact with God and/or other people (DNTT 3:104). Here the verbal action has a spiritual sense and is performed by the Holy Spirit to enable the blood of Yeshua to have a cleansing effect (cf. 1Jn 1:7).
our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. The plural pronoun links Paul and Luke with his Jewish audience. conscience: Grk. suneidēsis. See verse 9 above. In this context the conscience as the object of cleansing is a practical synonym of "heart" (cf. Jas 4:8; 1Pet 1:22). Since cleansing has to do with removing uncleanness then the promise here recognizes that the conscience or heart can become defiled by manifesting the values of the surrounding culture (cf. Rom 1:21, 24; 2:22; 12:2; 1Cor 8:7; 10:7, 21; 2Cor 6:14; Titus 1:15).
God had promised in the context of the New Covenant that He would cleanse the heart of His people through the Spirit (cf. Jer 33:8; Ezek 36:25, 27; Acts 15:8-9; Rom 2:29; 15:16; 2Th 2:13; Heb 8:10). Cleansing the conscience or heart is not just removing the guilt of sin, but changing double-mindedness into single-minded devotion to God (Matt 5:8; Jas 4:8). Conscience-cleansing equals heart-circumcision (cf. Deut 10:16; 30:6; Jer 4:4; Rom 2:29).
from: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of separation. dead: pl. of Grk. nekros may be used as (1) a noun, corpse or (2) adj., without life in the physical sense, being dead; here as an adjective used in a fig. sense. In the LXX nekros occurs about 60 times, mostly as a noun, but also as an adjective, and primarily translates Heb. participle mêt (SH-4191), to die, used of persons, first in Genesis 23:3 (DNTT 1:444). works: pl. of Grk. ergon, generally means a tangible deed, action or accomplishment that may be observed, whether of men or God.
"Dead works" are works devoid of that life which has its source in God, works which at the last judgment will fail of the approval of God and of all reward (Thayer). "The wages of sin is death" (Rom 6:23). Bruce suggests that "dead works" are those that produce inward and spiritual defilement and belong to the way of death (cf. Ps 1:6; Prov 14:12; 16:25; Jer 21:8; Mark 7:15, 21, 23).
We might also consider that dead works could be a synonym of "works of legalism" (Rom 3:20, 28; Gal 2:16; 3:2, 5, 10), which are opposite the good works of Torah "that God prepared beforehand so that we should walk in them" (Eph 2:10). Hegg observes that "those who believe that their good deeds, or even their attention to religious duties and rituals, will gain them favor with God or in some way 'offset' their sins will finally discover that all they had done leads only to death, not to life, as Yeshua clearly states in Matthew 7:22–23."
to serve: Grk. latreuō, pres. inf. See verse 9 above. The verb implies "serve with living works," i.e., works that do good for the lives of others (e.g., Isa 58:5-10; Matt 5:16; 11:2-5; John 9:4; Eph 2:10; 1Tim 5:9-10; 6:18). the living: Grk. zaō, pres. part., be in the state of being physically alive. God: Grk. theos. The description of the God of Israel as the "living God" occurs frequently in Scripture, which stands in contrast to the fact that pagan deities have no existence and therefore no life (e.g., Deut 5:26; Josh 3:10; Ps 42:2; 84:2; Matt 16:16; Acts 14:15; 2Cor 6:16).
Death of the Mediator, 9:15-17
15 And because of this he is the mediator of a new covenant, death having occurred for redemption of transgressions during the first covenant, so that those called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
Having mentioned the shedding of Yeshua's blood in verses 12 and 14 above Paul now addresses the proverbial elephant in the room. Why did the Messiah and mediator of the New Covenant have to die? Jews generally believed that the Messiah would destroy the enemies of Israel, restore Israel to sovereign rule in its land, and establish the Davidic monarchy over Israel and the nations (cf. Matt 2:2; Luke 1:68-74; John 1:49; Acts 1:6). The Sages referred to him as Mashiach ben Ananim, "son of the clouds" (Sanh. 96b), the heavenly Messiah (Dan 7:13-14) and Mashiach ben David (Sanh. 97a), the victorious Messiah who would reign as God's regent on earth.
The announcement of the birth of Yeshua (Luke 1:32) seemed to provide assurance of fulfillment of the Davidic Messiah prophecy and Paul reiterated this point to Jews in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:32-34). What the Jews did not expect was that in order to have a victorious Messiah, they would first receive a suffering Messiah. In Hebrews to this point Paul has focused on Yeshua as the better High Priest, but now in verses 15−22 he continues the theme begun in verse 12 above and draws on covenantal practice in the Tanakh to illustrate the necessity of Yeshua's death.
And: Grk. kai, conj. because of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 11 above. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. The pronoun alludes to the kal v'chomer argument in verses 13-14. Hughes adds that the phrase "and because of this" signals a strong inferential/causal relation between verses 15-22 and verses 11-14 (33). he is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 5 above. the mediator: Grk. mesitēs (from mesos, middle), one who intervenes between two, and may be one who (1) guarantees the performance of all the terms stipulated in a covenant or (2) intervenes to restore peace between two parties, especially as it fulfills a compact or ratifies a covenant (HELPS).
In the LXX mesitēs occurs only in Job 9:33 for the Hiphil participle of yakach (SH-3198), to decide, adjudge, prove. Job, who lived before the patriarchs, had no knowledge of a mediator between himself and God. In the Tanakh, patriarchs, priests and prophets served as mediators between conflicting parties and between God and His people. A related idea is that of the peacemaker (cf. Matt 5:9), such as Abraham who settled a conflict between his shepherds and his nephew Lot's shepherds by giving Lot his choice of land (Gen 13), and the priest Phinehas who resolved an alleged sin by the eastern tribes, which really amounted to misunderstandings about their intentions in erecting a memorial (Josh 22:10-34).
The best representative of a mediator in the Tanakh is Moses of whom Philo used the term mesitēs (On the Life of Moses II, §166). Moses mediated salvation at the Red Sea (Ex 14:15-18), he mediated the covenant at Sinai (Ex 24:4-8) and he interceded with ADONAI at various times when Israelites displeased God and sinned (e.g., Ex 32:30; Num 12:3; 16:8). And, Yeshua is a mediator like Moses (cf. Deut 18:15; Acts 3:22). In the book of Isaiah the concept of mediator is seen as the awaited servant of ADONAI. He is the bearer of God's revelation (Isa 42:1-4) and the bearer of salvation to the nations (Isa 49:1-6). He takes the guilt of men upon himself and blots it out by his suffering (Isa 52:13−53:12).
The term mesitēs occurs six times in the Besekh, and outside of Hebrews only in Paul's letters (Gal 3:19-20; 1Tim 2:5). The translation of "mediator" can be misleading. In modern law a mediator is a neutral conciliator or peacemaker who helps parties arrive at a voluntary settlement of disputed issues. A mediator has no power to enforce the agreed settlement. Yeshua is not a neutral mediator, but he acts as the believer's representative before God and God's representative before the believer. Through Yeshua we can have shalom with God (Acts 10:36; Rom 5:1, 11).
of a New: Grk. kainos, adj., new, has three applications in the Besekh: (1) of recent origin or unused; (2) different and superior in quality relative to something old with no criticism of the old; or (3) different in reaction generated for something not previously present. The second meaning is intended here. In the LXX of this verse kainos translates the Heb. adjective chadashah (SH-2319), "new." The use of kainos instead of neos is purposeful, with the latter meaning "in existence for a relatively short time" (Danker). Kainos also has the meaning of something not previously present (BAG).
Covenant: Grk. diathēkē. See verse 4 above. The content of the New Covenant was quoted in 8:8-12 from Jeremiah 31:31-34. The New Covenant, made with Israel, did not replace the Sinai Covenant, but offered five transformative promises. The house of Israel and the house of Judah will be empowered to keep God's commandments; they will acknowledge the Creator God as their only God; they will be preserved as God's chosen people; they will experience a personal intimate relationship with God; and they will experience full atonement for sins not previously forgiven.
Of course, God's plan of salvation included the nations (Isa 42:6; 49:6; 51:4; 60:3; Amos 9:11-12; Mic 4:2-3; cf. Acts 13:46-48; 15:14-18). Gentiles enter the New Covenant by being "grafted in" to the Olive Tree of Israel (Rom 11:17–24) and being granted citizenship in the Commonwealth of Israel (Eph 2:11–16), which itself is based on the promise given to Jacob (Gen 35:11).
death: Grk. thanatos, death, which may be used of (1) natural death; (2) death as a penalty; (3) the manner of death; (4) fig. of death as a personification; (4) fig. of spiritual death; and (5) fig. of eternal death (BAG). In the LXX thanatos translates Heb. maveth (SH-4194), death, which has the same range of meaning (first in Gen 21:16). The term is used here of death deliberately caused as a penalty, and specifically the death of Yeshua on the cross as an atoning sacrifice. having occurred: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. part. See verse 11 above.
for: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." redemption: Grk. apolutrōsis, freedom or liberation from an oppressive circumstance; deliverance, release, redemption. Most versions translate the noun as "redemption." The term originally meant buying back a slave or captive, making him free by payment of a ransom (BAG). Apolutrōsis is rare in Greek literature, but is does occur in Josephus and Philo. Apolutrōsis occurs only once in the LXX, Daniel 4:34, for which there is no corresponding word in the Hebrew text. The noun is used there of the freeing of Nebuchadnezzar from his madness (DNTT 3:193). Apolutrōsis occurs ten times in the Besekh, first on the lips of Yeshua (Luke 21:28) and then by Paul (Rom 3:24; 8:23; 1Cor 1:30; Eph 1:7, 14; 4:30; Col 1:14).
of transgressions: pl. of Grk. ho parabasis, diversion from a path, a stepping beside; lawbreaking, transgression, violation, wrongdoing. The noun refers to an action that violates the expressed will of God (Rom 4:15), regardless of intention. The term is especially used of the sin of Adam (Rom 5:14; 1Tim 2:14). In the LXX parabasis occurs only in Psalm 101:3 to translate the participle of Heb. sut (SH-7750), to swerve or fall away. In that context the noun refers to someone who performs wicked acts. The "redemption of transgressions" refers to the present freedom from the guilt, slavery and consequences of sin (Rom 3:24; 1Cor 1:30; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14).
during: Grk. epi, prep., lit. "upon," used primarily as a marker of position or location; and in composition may be translated 'at, by, near, on, upon, or over.' The great majority of versions translate the preposition as "under," which is an unusual choice. Marshall has a footnote to his interlinear translation, "It may seem strange to translate a preposition which means 'on' or 'over' by 'under;' but epi has the meaning of 'during the time of' (cf. Matt 1:11; Mark 2:26; Luke 3:2; Acts 11:28; 1Tim 6:13)." Lane concurs that the preposition could have a temporal meaning, "at the time of," "in the age of," "in the days of" (62). One version has "during" (LEB).
the first: Grk. ho prōtos, adj. See verse 1 above. covenant: Grk. diathēkē. See verse 4 above. The term "first covenant" refers to the covenant God made with Israel at Sinai and then renewed at Moab, since it is the first covenant made with Israel as a nation. In this regard it might also be called the "foremost covenant." The Sinai covenant was also the first covenant to be concerned with redemption of acts considered to be transgressions. So then the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua is the basis of the salvation of all who are saved before the Cross and since (Robertson).
so that: Grk. hopōs, adv. used as a conjunction to indicate purpose, objective or an end in view; in order that, so that. The adverb introduces the benefit God intended by enacting the New Covenant. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. called: Grk. kaleō, perf. pass. part., to call, and may mean (1) to express something aloud; (2) to invite or summon; (3) to solicit participation; or (4) to identify by name. The third meaning applies here. In the LXX kaleō translates Heb. qara (SH-7121), to call, with the same range of meaning (Gen 1:5; 3:9; 17:19).
Generally in the Besekh the participle of kaleō is used to identify a person or place by a name. The perfect participle occurs ten other times in the Besekh, all in the context of those invited to a feast (Matt 22:3-4, 8; Luke 14:7-8, 10, 12, 17, 24; Rev 19:9). In this verse the participle refers to the named beneficiaries of the New Covenant, Israel and Judah, or the Israelites (Jer 31:31, 33; Heb 8:7, 10).
Paul identifies "the called" as traditional Jews and Hellenistic Jews (1Cor 1:24). In Qumran literature the expression "the called of God" is found a number of times and is used as an equivalent of "the elect of Israel" (DNTT 1:273). The descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were the ones God "foreknew," then "predestined" (chose) and then "called" into covenant relationship (Rom 8:29-30).
Guthrie notes that the participle extends the named beneficiary of the New Covenant (Israel) to include the nations (cf. Isa 42:6; Matt 22:9; Acts 2:39; 15:17; Rom 1:5-6; 9:24-25; Heb 3:1). The "called" are entitled on the basis of repentance and trust in the Lord Yeshua to the blessed benefits promised in the good news (Rom 10:12-13; 1Cor 1:9; 2Th 2:12, 14; 1Tim 6:12).
may receive: Grk. lambanō, aor. pass. subj., 3p-pl, actively lay hold of to take or receive. In the LXX lambanō translates chiefly Heb. laqach (3947), to take, generally in the active sense, first in Genesis 2:7 (DNTT 3:747). The passive form is much rarer in the Tanakh. the promise: Grk. epaggelia, promise, especially associated with God's covenantal promises to the patriarchs and Israel. A promise from God is a guaranteed assurance. of eternal: Grk. aiōnios, adj. See verse 12 above. Since God is eternal, so are His promises.
inheritance: Grk. klēronomia, inheritance, may mean (1) a share in what is passed on by a testator in a legal sense; or (2) participation in a share with focus on divine conferral of promised benefits. The second meaning is intended here. In the LXX klēronomia translates Heb. nachalah (SH-5159), possession, property, inheritance, first in Genesis 31:14 (DNTT 2:298). Stern says that the Tanakh uses nachalah to mean simply "that which is to be received" and knows nothing of wills. In the Torah the term "inheritance" has three primary uses. First, inheritance is personal property taken possession of by an heir upon the death of the owner (Gen 31:14; Num 27:6-11).
Second, inheritance was God's covenantal promise to give the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, making God the testator (Ex 32:13; Deut 4:38). As an exception the tribe of Levi was denied any inheritance of the land, but ADONAI and the tithe was to be their inheritance (Num 18:20-24; Deut 10:9; 12:12; 18:2). Third, inheritance is used figuratively for the concept of the covenant people being a personal possession or inheritance for God Himself (Ex 15:17; Deut 4:20; 9:26; 32:9).
However, here the concept of "eternal inheritance" incorporates all the promised blessings associated with the Messianic Kingdom to be experienced in the present age and the age to come (Matt 19:29; Eph 1:11; 5:5; Col 1:12; 3:24; Heb 1:14; 6:12; 9:14; 10:1; 1Pet 1:4). The inheritance properly belongs to those who are sanctified (Acts 20:32; 26:18). Stern says "Those who accept Yeshua's once-for-all dealing with sin, as explained in these chapters, may receive the promised eternal inheritance."
Interim Note: Covenant vs. Testament, verses 16-17
The great majority of Bible versions and many Bible scholars focus on the mention of "inheritance" at the end of the previous verse to treat verses 16 and 17 as using an analogy of a last will and testament to illustrate the necessity of a death in inaugurating the New Covenant. The legal scenario is chosen in part because of the assumption that a literal translation implies the death of the covenanting party, as presented in the NASU:
"16 For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. 17 For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives."
This translation presents an inaccurate statement. In the divine initiated covenants God, the offeror, certainly could not die and those who accepted the covenants did not die to make the covenant a reality. In the human covenants between two parties described in Scripture (alliances, compacts, contracts, treaties), neither party died to enact the agreement. In reality a word for word translation as I present below is important for understanding the significance of Paul's assertion.
Against the 'testament' interpretation a number of scholars assert that verses 16-17 instead describe the ancient practice of covenant-making and not testament-making (e.g., Adam Clarke, Thomas Coke, Tim Hegg, John Hughes, William Lane, John McKee, Gilbert Wakefield, and B.F. Westcott). John Wesley expressed skepticism of the 'testament' translation of the KJV saying, "It seems beneath the dignity of the apostle to play upon the ambiguity of the Greek word, as the common translation supposes him to do."
Even Stern while accepting the legal scenario acknowledges that in God's covenants sacrifices stood for the death of the ones offering them (696). Hughes has observed,
"the focus is upon death as it leads to priestly mediatorship of the new covenant, not death as it leads to inheritance. The writer is primarily concerned with Christology, not with the soteriological blessings of inheritance" (38–39).
Clarke comments: "A learned and judicious friend furnishes me with the following translation of this and the 17th verse:
"For where there is a covenant, it is necessary that the death of the appointed victim should be exhibited, because a covenant is confirmed over dead victims, since it is not at all valid while the appointed victim is alive."
Wakefield (1756-1801) translated the passage nearly in the same way:
"For where a covenant is, there must be necessarily introduced the death of that which establisheth the covenant; because a covenant is confirmed over dead things, and is of no force at all whilst that which establisheth the covenant is alive." (Translation of the New Testament, with Notes, 1791; cited by Clarke)
Clarke adds, "This is undoubtedly the meaning of this passage; and we should endeavor to forget that testament and testator were ever introduced, as they totally change the apostle's meaning." He then concludes at the end of his chapter commentary:
"The apostle having, in Heb 9:15, showed that Christ's death was necessary as ὁ Μεσιτης, the Mediator, that is, the procurer, and ratifier of the new covenant, he in the 16th and 17th verses observes that, since God's covenants with men were all ratified by sacrifice to show that his intercourses with men are founded on the sacrifice of his Son, it was necessary that the new covenant itself should be ratified by his Son's actually dying as a sacrifice."
16 For where covenant is, death is necessary to be offered of the ratifier.
The syntax of this verse and the next is challenging, but these verses are introduced to explain why Yeshua had to die to be the mediator of the New Covenant (Hughes 33). The word order in Greek in this verse is "Hopou gar diathēkē thanaton anagkē pheresthai tou diathemenou" (BHIB). Marshall's interlinear offers a similar translation: "For where there is a covenant the death there is necessity to be offered of the one making covenant."
For: Grk. gar, conj. where: Grk. hopou (from hos, "which, that" and pou, "somewhere, where"), adv. of place or circumstance; in which place, where. The adverb is generally used in the Besekh in reference to a physical location (e.g., Matt 6:19-20; John 4:20, 46; Heb 6:20), but the adverb is also used in reference to a situation or circumstance (Col 3:11; Heb 10:18; Jas 3:4; 2Pet 2:11). In this instance the adverb likely intends a usage similar to pou to cite a location in the Tanakh (Heb 2:6; 4:4). So, "where the following subject occurs in Scripture…."
covenant is: Grk. diathēkē. See verse 4 above. Most versions translate the noun as "testament" or "will." See the Additional Note below. Only a few versions have "covenant" (MW, NASU, NTE, REV, TLV, YLT). There are four good reasons why diathēkē should be translated as 'covenant' and not 'will' or 'testament.' First, the thesis of authorship of Hebrews is that Paul wrote or dictated the letter in Hebrew and Luke translated it into Greek. (See my Introduction to the letter.) Paul would have wrote b'rit, which is not used biblical or Talmudic Hebrew for a last will and testament. The Hebrew translation of Delitzsch of this verse uses b'rit.
Second, an important principle of biblical hermeneutics is that Greek words in the Besekh carry the same meaning as in the LXX. As David Hill of The University of Sheffield affirms,
"Not only word-meanings in the New Testament, but also the structure and syntax of New Testament language bear the impress of a special Hebraic influence channeled, for the most part, through the Septuagint" (14).
In the LXX diathēkē translates Heb. b'rit, which is never used of a last will and testament. In the Besekh diathēkē occurs 33 times: 6 times in the apostolic narratives, 9 times in the "canonical" letters of Paul (all written before Hebrews), 1 time in Revelation, and 9 times in Hebrews before this verse and in every instance the term means a covenant and not a testament. Therefore, it makes no sense that Paul would suddenly change the basic meaning of diathēkē. Paul builds on the meaning of "covenant" in the previous verse to remind his readers of an essential fact about covenant-making.
Third, contrary to Roman custom Jews normally did not make wills since according to the Torah property was automatically inherited by the sons, the firstborn receiving a double portion (Deut 21:15-17; cf. Luke 12:13). The Torah also provides a line of succession if there were no sons to inherit (Num 27:8-11). The Talmud indicates that only if a Jew desired his property to be disbursed in a different manner could he then prepare a formal testamentary disposition (Baba Bathra 106b, 130, 133b; 143b; 151a; Gittin 13a; Kiddushin 53a).
Fourth, the Torah and later Jewish law forbade transferring property to a non-relative. If the testament scenario is supposed to serve as an analogy of the New Covenant, then it utterly fails since the New Covenant included the nations as well as Israel in its benefits. See the articles in the Jewish Encyclopedia, Bequest and Inheritance.
death: Grk. thanatos. See the previous verse. Death of sacrificial animals was an integral part of covenant-making. is necessary: Grk. anagke, a constraining or compelling force, the primary idea being inevitability as an inherent component of human experience and indicating that over which one has no control. Most Bible scholars treat the phrase "death is necessary" as pertaining to a scenario in which a testator has to die for his will to be enforced and the death must be confirmed. This scenario is viewed as an analogy to the necessity of a death in inaugurating the New Covenant.
There are two problems with the testamentary interpretation. First, contrary to the rendering of thanatos in some versions with "death of the testator" (BRG, KJ21, DARBY, DRA, JUB, KJV, MEV, NABRE, NEB, NJB, NKJV), Paul does not use the Greek syntax to convey the idea of a testator commonly found in Greek literature (see examples here). Specifically the Greek word for "testator" (diathētēs) does not appear in the Greek text of this verse at all, nor anywhere in Scripture or ancient Jewish literature. The mention of "testator" is interpretation, not translation.
Second, there is no evidence from first century legal customs that a testator had to die for an inheritance to be passed to heirs. Lane comments,
"A recent review of this argument has demonstrated that it is impossible to translate [diathēkē] in vv 16-17 as 'will' or 'testament' and to harmonize the writer's statements with any known form of Hellenistic, Egyptian, or Roman legal practice. There is no evidence in classical or papyriological sources to substantiate that a will or testament was legally valid only when its testator died. A will became operative as soon as it was properly drafted, witnessed, and notarized."(63)
NOTE: For a detailed explanation of will-making under Roman law see Testamentum in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1875).
Hegg points out a perfect illustration in Yeshua's parable of the prodigal son (58):
11 And He said, "A man had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.' So he divided his wealth between them." (Luke 15:11-12 NASU)
The parable would not have had the impact Yeshua intended if distribution of inheritance could only legally take place after the death of the father. Thus, had Paul insisted that a last will and testament could only be valid and activated following the death of the testator, his argument would have been judged invalid on the basis of inheritance law of his time.
Since verses 18-22 concern the Sinai covenant, then the focus of verses 16 and 17 probably looks back at God's covenants with Adam, Noah and Abraham. Adam was informed that disobedience of God's instruction would result in the necessity of death (Gen 2:17). When Adam and Chavah sinned God informed them that they would eventually return to dust (Gen 3:19) and God chose to "cover" their sin by an animal sacrifice (Gen 3:21).
Thereafter, death of a sacrificial animal became an essential element in worship associated with the covenant relationship with God (Gen 4:4; 8:20; 12:7-8; 13:3-4, 18; 15:7-10, 17-18; 22:2, 9, 13; 26:25; 31:54; 33:20; 35:1, 3, 7; cf. Jer 34:18). As children of Adam bearing the curse of death the early Hebrew personalities needed the substitutionary aspect of animal sacrifices to maintain a right relationship with God.
Yeshua asserted repeatedly during his earthly ministry that he "must suffer" and "be killed" (Matt 16:21; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22; 17:25; John 3:14; 12:32-33). The necessity of Messiah's death was then a key element in the proclamation of the good news by the apostles (Acts 2:23; 3:18; 8:30-35; 13:23, 28-29; 17:3; 26:22-23; 28:23). The apostles in their letters also reminded disciples that Yeshua's meritorious death fulfilled prophecy and in that light was certainly necessary. See the list of predictions in the Tanakh of Messiah's sufferings and their mention in the Besekh here. Messiah died as the sacrificial victim, in fact a sin offering, and thus gave absolute validity to the covenant which he mediated.
to be offered: Grk. pherō, pres. mid. inf., to move from one position to another; to bear, carry (bring) along, especially to a definite or prescribed conclusion (HELPS). Zodhiates gives the meaning as particularly to bear a burden, to endure. An infinitive may express purpose, result, time (as a temporal expression), cause or command. Here the infinitive represents an expectation. Some versions, adopting the testament scenario, translate the verb as "must be established," referring to a legal confirmation of death (CSB, ESV, ISV, NRSV, NTE, RSV, TLV).
However, consider that in the LXX pherō translates two verbs: (1) Heb. bo (SH-935), to come, go, come with something, bring, carry, first in Genesis 4:3; (2) Heb. nasa (SH-5375), to lift, carry or take (Gen 36:7; Deut 1:12; Isa 30:6). Hegg explains the significance of this verb saying, "The Greek does not say that the one making the covenant must die, but rather that 'death must be borne' by the one who ratifies the covenant." Hughes clarifies that in light of covenant practice recorded in the Tanakh that the slaughtering of the animals served as a self-imposed curse to pledge death if the ratifier should disobey the terms of the covenant (41).
Lane says the choice of the verb pherō was probably influenced by the cultic use of pherō in the LXX, where it is associated with the representative act of offering a sacrifice (e.g., Gen 4:3-4; Ex 35:5, 21; Lev 2:2; 4:28; 5:6-8; 6:5; 7:29). The offerer is represented in and by the sacrifice he brings. In terms of covenant procedure, the death of sacrificial animals was brought forward on behalf of the one ratifying the covenant. McKee translates the verb as "to be offered" and Hegg prefers "be borne," but the Revised English Version has "be represented."
The verb pherō and its derivative anapherō are used in association with Yeshua's crucifixion in which he freely offered himself and bore the cross to Golgotha (Mark 15:22; Luke 23:26; Heb 7:27; 1Pet 2:24; cf. John 10:18; Eph 5:2).
of the ratifier: Grk. tou diathemenou, aor. mid. part. of ho diatithēmi (from dia, "through" and tithēmi, "to put, place, lay, set, enact, ordain"). Important to remember is that a participle is considered a verbal adjective. In other words it can be used as an adjective or substitute as a noun, which is the intent here, and in so doing describes something about the subject of the action.
According to etymology the preposition dia intensifies the meaning of the verb tithēmi to denote an arranging which effectively accomplishes the objective at hand (HELPS); appoint, arrange, make. In Greek literature the verb meant to arrange something, distribute something or dispose of something, such as property or merchandise, with wide application, as well as to compose or make something, including a covenant or last will and testament (LSJ). Standard lexicons (BAG, Danker, Thayer) assign the meaning of making a will to the verb.
In the LXX diatithēmi occurs 80 times, first in Genesis 9:17 to translate Heb qum (6965), to arise or stand, where it means to establish or ratify a covenant (BDB 877). Then diatithēmi occurs 74 times to translate Heb. karath (SH-3772; BDB 503), to cut or make a covenant, because of the cutting up and distribution of sacrificial animals in a ritual of establishing a covenant with God (Gen 15:18; Ex 24:8; Deut 4:23; 5:2; 9:9; 29:1; Ps 50:5; Jer 31:31; 34:18). Hughes notes that just as the Hebrew text used the standard technical legal phrase karath b'rit, so in the LXX diatithēmi diathēkē was its equivalent (39).
In the Besekh the verb is first used of appointing the apostles as judges over the twelve tribes (Luke 22:29). Then, the verb is used of the covenant God made with the patriarchs (Acts 3:25) and in Hebrews of enacting the New Covenant (8:10; 10:16). Since diatithemenou functions here as a legal term Hughes (40) and Lane (63) translate the participle as "the one who ratifies" or "the ratifier." Hegg also adopts the interpretation of "ratifier" noting that Psalm 50:5 (LXX) uses the same wording as this verse: "Gathered to Him are His holy ones, the ones ratifying (diatithemenous) His covenant (diathēkē) upon sacrifices" (BR).
An alternative rendering of the participle is provided by Robert Young as "covenant-victim" (Young's Literal Translation, 1898). Indeed, verse 15 refers to the death of the covenant-victim (Yeshua) whose blood sealed and ratified the covenant (Lane 75). Adam Clarke also approved of translating the participle as "appointed victim." He said: "A learned and judicious friend furnishes me with the following translation of this and the 17th verse:
"For where there is a covenant, it is necessary that the death of the appointed victim should be exhibited, because a covenant is confirmed over dead victims, since it is not at all valid while the appointed victim is alive."
The teaching of this verse could well allude to Isaiah 53:12, "He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore (Heb. nasa; Grk. anapherō) the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors" (NASU). Considering the etymology of the verb diatithēmai it could mean that the covenant was implemented "through an act of laying down," as Yeshua said,
"17 For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down (Grk. tithēmi) my life that I may receive it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down (Grk. tithēmi) by myself. I have authority to lay it down (Grk. tithēmi), and I have authority to receive it again." (John 10:18 BR)
Additional Note: Covenant vs Testament
Daniel Gruber argues at length in his book, The Separation of Church and Faith (2005), that Scripture never speaks of a testament, but only of a covenant (38-51). His basic argument is that (1) a testament is a solitary declaration and cannot be "with," as the expression "covenant with" occurs over 70 times in the Tanakh; (2) a covenant may have a mediator (Heb 9:15), but a testament does not; and (3) a testament does not involve sacrifices, whereas a divine covenant does. Stern in his commentary concurs with Gruber's basic premise and adds that b'rit can never be translated as "will" and that a will is one-sided, but a covenant is two-sided (696).
Yet, some parallels can be shown between a divine covenant and a man's last will and testament.
· Like a testament God made His covenants unilaterally and God alone set the terms.
· Like a testament God's covenant with Israel is the expression of His will concerning His property (His people). After all, the concept of being "holy to ADONAI" (Ex 19:6) means to be His property.
· Like a testament God's covenant provides an inheritance for His people and instructions for distribution of that inheritance. (Historic Christianity has wrongly asserted that God canceled the promised inheritance to Israel.)
· Like a testament which requires a judicial act to enforce its terms, God acts as judge to enforce the terms of His covenants.
If verses 16 and 17 were meant to cite the practice of men making wills as an analogy of the New Covenant, then the analogy fails completely, because Paul makes none of these points. The primary issue in this chapter is redemption, which the death of a testator could never accomplish.
17 For covenant on the basis of sacrificial victims is steadfast, since never is it in force when the ratifier is living.
Marshall: "For a covenant over dead bodies is firm, since never has it strength when the one making covenant lives."
Thomas Coke offered this paraphrase, "For you know that sacrificial rites have ever attended the most celebrated covenants which God hath made with man; so that I may say, a covenant is confirmed over the dead; so that it does not avail, nor has any force at all, while he, by whom it is confirmed, liveth."
In this verse Paul explains why it is necessary to bring forward or represent the death of the covenant-ratifier (Hughes 43). For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 2 above. The conjunction continues the thought of the previous verse and introduces a further essential point concerning covenant enactment and the necessity of death. covenant: Grk. diathēkē. See verse 4 above and the previous verse. The term is used of the subject of divine-initiated covenants that has implications for the New Covenant. As in the previous verse most versions translate the noun as "will" but a few have "covenant" (NASU, NTE, TLV, YLT).
on the basis of: Grk. epi, prep. See verse 10 above. The preposition with the dative case of the noun following denotes that upon which an action, effect, or condition, rests as a basis or support; properly, "on the basis of," "upon the ground of." Lane says that alternatively, epi may be understood in a temporal sense, "in the days of," "at the time of" (62).
sacrificial victims: neut. pl. of Grk. nekros. See verse 14 above. Of interest is that in the LXX while nekros translates primarily the participle mêt ("dead"), nekros also translates Heb. chalal (SH-2491), pierced, slain (Num 19:16; Ps 88:5, 10; Isa 22:2; 34:3; Ezek 9:7; 11:6, 7) (DNTT 1:444). The plural noun would be lit. "corpses" or "dead bodies." As in the previous verse this first clause alludes to the procedure of covenant making in the Tanakh, not the executing of a last will and testament (cf. Gen 15:10-11; Ex 34:15; Jer 34:18). Thus, TLV translates nekrois here as "dead bodies," and YLT has "dead victims."
However, the translation of "dead bodies" is too neutral, since the noun is not used here of a natural death. Hughes affirms that the plural term refers to the representative animals slaughtered in the covenant ratification ritual (43). He further suggests that the singular diathēkē and plural nekrois is strong evidence for dismissing the testament interpretation. Why use the plural nekrois if the death of a testator is intended? Thus, Clarke suggests the translation of "dead victims," Lane suggests "sacrificial victims" and the Revised English Version has "sacrificial deaths."
Relevant also is that the plural nekrois is a synonym of sōmata (pl. of sōma, "body") (LSJ) and in the covenant-making described in Genesis 15:11 sōmata translates the plural of Heb. peger, "corpse" or "carcass." Many versions translate the plural noun as singular "dead" or "death," some as part of a verbal phrase "when men are dead" (NASU) or as a verb "when somebody has died" (NIV). However, the terminology "men are dead" or "when people die" does not appear in the Greek text.
As McKee points out, any term relating to "men" (Grk. anēr or anthrōpos) does not appear. He says further that the Greek syntax of the verse,
"may be regarded as something definitively rooted within Ancient Near Eastern covenanting procedures, where there would be animals slaughtered to give some kind of surety to the covenant. This frequently involved those making the agreement saying that they would become as such dead animals if they did not live up to it. A covenant, when violated, does often seek the death of the violator."
There is one more consideration. Paul could have used the Heb. noun chalal, and thus Luke's translation of nekrois could mean "piercings" and be a graphic illustration of the crucifixion. The piercing of Messiah's body is predicted in Psalm 22:16, Isaiah 53:5 and Zechariah 12:10. Yeshua's body was pierced in five places (hands, feet and side). is steadfast: Grk. bebaios (from bainō, "to walk where it is solid"), adj., with focus on stability linked with continuity; certain, firm, steadfast, enduring, secure. The adjective is used here in a legal sense to denote the covenant being confirmed or in effect. The New Covenant was made effective on the basis of the piercings of Yeshua.
since: Grk. epei, conj., used to assume what precedes is true, and understands what follows to be true as well; since, inasmuch, otherwise (HELPS). never: Grk. mēpote (from mē, "not" and pote, "ever"), adv., negative particle, never, not ever, on no account. is it in force: Grk. ischuō, pres., to have the capacity for accomplishing, either to cope with a situation or to achieve an objective; have power or strength, be able, here with a legal connotation, "be in force." when: Grk. hote, temporal adv., when, at which time.
the ratifier: Grk. ho diatithēmi, aor. mid. part. See the previous verse. As there the verb signifies the Hebrew construction of "having cut a covenant," so the participle denotes the one who enacted or ratified the covenant. is living: Grk. zaō, pres. See verse 14 above. Lane explains this last clause as meaning "The formulation accurately reflects the legal situation that a covenant is never secured until the ratifier has bound himself to his oath by means of a representative death" (75).
The incarnation and earthly ministry of Yeshua did not enact or ratify the New Covenant. At the Last Supper Yeshua graphically illustrated that the terms of the New Covenant would be enacted on the basis of his shed blood (Luke 22:20). Yeshua had to die for the New Covenant to become a reality.
Blood of the Covenant, 9:18-22
18 Wherefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood.
Hughes observes that in light of verses 15-17 verses 18-22 form a natural inference to demonstrate by means of contrast and comparison the superiority of the new covenant order over the old (46). This verse continues the argument of the previous section by summarizing covenantal practice at Mt. Sinai and serving as a preface to a repetition of specific actions recorded in the Torah.
Wherefore: Grk. hothen, adv., marker of derivation, used here of a logical result based on the preceding three verses; consequently, wherefore. not even: Grk. oude (from ou, "not" and de, "moreover"), conj., properly, moreover not, neither indeed, not even, nor even (HELPS). the first covenant: Grk. ho prōtos, adj. See verse 1 above. While the word "covenant" is not in the Greek text, it is used in the previous three verses and the "first covenant" is specifically mentioned in verse 15 above.
was inaugurated: Grk. egkainizō (from en, "in" and kainizō, "make fresh, new"), perf. pass., focus on the opening of a new way; consecrate, dedicate, inaugurate, initiate, institute. In the LXX egkainizō translates Heb. chanak (SH-2596), to dedicate in regarding to a formal opening (Deut 20:5; 1Sam 11:14; 1Kgs 8:53) (Zodhiates). without: Grk. chōris, adv., in a condition or circumstance not including; without, separate from, apart from. blood: Grk. haima. See verse 7 above. The noun refers to the shedding of blood in the slaughter of animals for sacrifice. The simple point is that inaugurating the New Covenant with blood had a precedent in the Sinai covenant.
19 For every commandment according to the Torah having been declared by Moses to all the people, having taken the blood of calves with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, he sprinkled both the book itself, and all the people,
Reference: Exodus 24:3, 6-8.
For: Grk. gar, conj. every: Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every, the whole. commandment: Grk. entolē, a directive for action, command, order or instruction. The noun refers to instruction that is obligatory and not merely informative. In the LXX entolē generally translates Heb. mitsvah (SH-4687), 'commandment' (e.g., Ex 20:6; Ps 119:6). A mitsvah may be a human command, but is mostly divine instruction intended for obedience. according to: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 5 above. The preposition has the sense of "in reference to," so many versions translate the word as "of."
the Torah: Grk. ho nomos may mean either (1) a principle or standard relating to behavior or (2) codified legislation, i.e. law. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX nomos primarily translates Heb. torah (SH-8451), which means "direction," "instruction" or "law" (BDB 435f), first in Exodus 12:49. Originally Torah meant an instruction from God, a command for a given situation (DNTT 2:440). The term is used here to refer to the Ten Commandments and other ordinances recorded in Exodus chapters 20−23, and summarized in Exodus 24:3.
having been declared: Grk. laleō, aor. pass. part., to make an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter. In the LXX laleō translates Heb. dabar (SH-1696), to speak, often used of verbal communication from God, first in Genesis 12:4. by: Grk. hupo, prep., may be used as (1) a marker of agent or cause; by; or (2) as a marker of a position that is relatively lower; below, under. The first meaning applies here and stresses "under the authority of."
Moses: Grk. Mōusēs transliterates Heb. Mosheh (Ex 2:10). Born into the tribe of Levi about 1525 BC in Egypt there is no greater figure in the Tanakh than Moses. The story of Moses is found in the extensive narratives from Exodus 1:1 through Deuteronomy 34:1. His life can be easily divided into three 40-year periods, the first being his birth and early life in Egypt (Acts 7:23), the second his years in Midian (Acts 7:30), and the third from the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt through the years spent in the wilderness until his death (Ex 7:7; 16:35; Num 14:33; Deut 2:7; Josh 5:6; Acts 7:36). He had two wives and two sons (Ex 18:2-4; Num 12:1).
During the last third of his life Moses served Israel as deliverer, judge, mediator, lawgiver, priest, elder, prophet and scribe. Moses was privileged to speak with ADONAI "face to face" (Ex 33:11). He was noted for his humility (Num 12:3) and his faithfulness to God (Heb 11:23-29), and being anointed of the Spirit (Num 11:17). He died at the age of 120 in the land of Moab (Deut 34:1-7). Moses left Israel and the Body of Messiah with the rich legacy of the first five books of the Bible (Ex 24:4). Moses was a giant of a man. For a summary of his life and deeds see my article Moses, Servant of God.
to all: Grk. pas. the people: Grk. ho laos (for Heb. am, "people, kinsman"), a group of humans, understood geographically or ethnically, and here referring to members of the nation of Israel gathered at Mt. Sinai. The first clause of the verse alludes to communicating God's commandments before the cleansing and consecrating ritual now mentioned. having taken: Grk. lambanō, aor. part. See verse 15 above. The verb introduces an action reported in Exodus 24:6-7.
the blood: Grk. ho haima. See verse 7 above. of calves: pl. of Grk. ho moschos. See verse 12 above. The Hebrew term "oxen" (Heb. parim) in Exodus 24:5 is applicable to bovine animals of any age (Rienecker). Many versions add "and goats," but the words are omitted in a few versions (CJB, EXB, ICB, LEB, NCV, NIV). See the Textual Note below. In that circumstance certain "young men of the sons of Israel" had sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings, since the Aaronic priesthood had yet to be installed. Then Moses, acting as high priest, took the blood and put it into basins to perform the following ritual.
with: Grk. meta, prep. water: Grk. hudōr (Heb. mayim), the physical element of water. The mixture of blood and water symbolically prefigures the report of blood and water coming from Yeshua's side (John 19:34). and: Grk. kai. scarlet: Grk. kokkinos, adj., having a shade of red; crimson, scarlet. wool: Grk. erion, the fine, soft, curly hair that forms the fleece or wool of sheep and the fabric made of such wool. and: Grk. kai. hyssop: Grk. hussōpos, an herb, specifically the small bush known as hyssop with aromatic leaves. The term here is of a hyssop that grew into stalks, like canes or reeds.
The implements of wool and hyssop are not mentioned in the Exodus narrative, but other Torah passages record their use in this particular rite (Lev 14:4–7, 51–52; Num 19:6). and: Grk. kai. he sprinkled: Grk. rhantizō, aor. See verse 13 above. With the hyssop wrapped in wool the blood could be shaken or splattered. both: Grk. te, conj. the book: Grk. ho biblion, a book, a scroll or a document. The noun is the diminutive form of biblos, derived from an older form bublos, which originally meant the papyrus plant, or its fibrous stem, that was exported to Greece through the port of Byblos in Syria where the plant was prepared.
In the LXX of Exodus 24:7 biblion translates Heb. sēpher, which was used for anything that has been written, such as a scroll, book, writing, letter, diary, or a legal document. Here the term biblion is used of the first recording in writing by Moses of God's revealed instructions. The expression "Moses wrote" (Ex 24:4; Deut 31:9; Josh 8:32) reflects traditional Jewish belief in verbal (or dictation) inspiration of the Torah ("God spoke and Moses wrote").
itself: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. See verse 5 above. The syntax of this clause indicates that the Book of the Covenant was sprinkled with blood, which does not correspond to the narrative of Exodus 24. According to Jewish tradition the book was placed on the altar (Farrar). The altar was in fact sprinkled, which is not mentioned here, so "book" stands in for "altar." and: Grk. kai. all: Grk. pas. the people: Grk. ho laos. After the Book of the Covenant was read and affirmed by the people, Moses then sprinkled blood on the people (Ex 24:8). Lane comments that the act of sprinkling the blood sealed the ratification of the covenant, while the peace offerings attested to the fellowship between the covenant partners (77).
The phrase "and goats" (pl. of Grk. tragos.) is found in many versions due to its presence in the Majority Text and TR. However, the mention of goats is not found in the Hebrew text or the LXX of the referenced Torah passage, nor in the earliest Greek manuscript of Hebrews (p46, A.D. 200). Why the term should be added is inexplicable and thus the UBS committee gave the reading a "C" rating, meaning that there is considerable doubt whether "and goats" should be adopted. Metzger suggests the shorter reading may have been expanded by copyists in imitation of verse 12 above. Rienecker concurs with Bruce that the omission is the best reading.
20 saying, "This is the blood of the covenant of which God commanded unto you."
Reference: Exodus 24:8.
saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 2 above. Paul now quotes from Exodus 24:8. The MT/DSS reads "Behold the blood of the covenant which ADONAI has made [cut] with you according to all these words." The following syntax does not conform exactly to the LXX, and so represents Luke's own translation. This is: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. Luke uses the pronoun to translate the Heb. interjection hinneh ("behold, look"). Some commentators suggest the use of the pronoun is a veiled allusion to the institution of the Lord's Supper (Guthrie, Faussett, Gill; cf. Matt 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20).
Farrar demurs from this view, saying that if such a reference had been at all present to his mind, he would hardly have been likely to pass it over in complete silence. Lane thinks the change in wording was simply made to support the writer‘s carefully structured argument. In addition, such an allusion would surely have included the verb eimi ("is") found in the cited texts of the Last Supper.
the blood: Grk. ho haima (Heb. dam). See verse 7 above. of the covenant: Grk. ho diathēkē (Heb. ha-b'rit). See verse 4 above. of which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. God: Grk. ho theos (Heb. YHVH). See verse 14 above. commanded: Grk. entellō, aor. mid., to give instruction with magisterial claim; instruct, command, order. The verb refers to the content of the covenant, not the blood. The Hebrew text has karat ("to cut, make") and the LXX has diatithēmi ("made, ratified"). unto: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 13 above. Here the preposition emphasizes "being made known unto." you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person, here a reference to the Israelite people.
The sprinkled blood accomplished a different task than the blood on the doorposts in Egypt where the blood saved from death. Lane comments that the comparison of the blood by which the old covenant of Sinai was ratified with that of Messiah clearly presupposes that the blood sprinkled by Moses had expiatory value (77). Targum Jonathan (Ex 24:8) says, "And Mosheh took half of the blood which was in the basins, and sprinkled upon the altar, to expiate the people." Targum Onkelos repeated the same report. In other words the blood of the covenant both cleansed from sin and ratified the covenant. It is appropriate that David would later write, "Purify me with hyssop and I shall be clean" (Ps 51:7).
In this passage the "blood of the covenant" is juxtaposed with a covenant supper in the presence of God on the mountain, during which God revealed His glory:
"9 And Moses went up, and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10 and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet a work of paved sapphire stone, and it was like the heavens in its purity. 11 But He did not send His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank." (Ex 24:9-11 BR)
This extraordinary event serves as the type of the meal of the New Covenant celebrated by Yeshua and his disciples.
21 And indeed he likewise sprinkled blood on the tabernacle and all the vessels of priestly ministry.
Reference: Exodus 40:9-10, 16; Leviticus 8:10-11.
And: Grk. kai, conj. indeed: Grk. de, conj. he likewise: Grk. homoiōs, adv., in like manner, similarly, in the same way, equally. sprinkled: Grk. rhantizō, aor. See verse 13 above. the blood: Grk. ho haima. See verse 6 above. The definite article emphasizes that the blood was of a sacrificial animal. on the tabernacle: Grk. skēnē. See verse 2 above. and: Grk. kai. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 19 above. the vessels: pl. of Grk. ho skeuos, something serviceable in carrying out a function, particularly a hollow vessel for containing things. The term is used here of accessories, implements and furnishings used in the tabernacle.
of priestly ministry: Grk. ho leitourgia (from leitourgos, "servant priest," verse 2 above), religious service offered by a duly authorized minister, and in particular ministry of Jewish priests relative to the prayers and sacrifices offered to God (Thayer). In the LXX leitourgia translates Heb. abodah (SH-5656), labor, service, used of service devoted to God, especially of priests and Levites (Ex 38:21; Num 4:24, 27; 8:22; 2Chr 8:14).
According to the Torah narrative Moses was instructed by ADONAI to put anointing oil not only upon Aaron and his sons, their garments, and the altar, but also upon the Tabernacle and its vessels (Ex 40:9-15), which Moses duly carried out (Lev 8:10-11). The narrative of the consecration of the tabernacle does not specifically mention sprinkling with blood. Lane comments that this report apparently draws upon an independent Jewish tradition. Josephus speaks of the use of both oil and blood in consecrating the tabernacle (Ant. III, 8:6).
22 And according to the Torah almost all things are cleansed with blood, and without blood-shedding no forgiveness occurs.
Reference: Leviticus 17:11.
And: Grk. kai, conj. according to: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 5 above. the Torah: Grk. ho nomos. See verse 19 above. The noun refers to the body of commandments and statutes given at Sinai. Paul emphasizes the authority for this axiomatic assertion is God's instruction. almost: Grk. schedon, adv., short of the extreme end on a scale of extent; almost, nearly. Use of the adverb may be hyperbolic. all things: neut. pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 19 above. are cleansed: Grk. katharizō, pres. pass. See verse 14 above. The verb has an expiating or atoning emphasis here.
with: Grk. en, prep. blood: Grk. haima. See verse 7 above. In the Sinai covenant there was a provision for cleansing without blood. Cleansing of uncleanness was usually accomplished with water (Lev 15:5-7; 16:26, 28; 22:6). However, for a required guilt offering of two doves or two pigeons a poor person could substitute an offering of flour (Lev 5:11-13).
but: Grk. kai. The conjunction has an adversative function here to assert the essential purpose of the sin offering. without: Grk. chōris, prep. See verse 7 above. blood-shedding: Grk. haimatekchusia (from haima, "blood" and ekchunnō, "to pour out"), cause to come out in a stream, used here of shedding blood as a result of sacrifice. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. Lane says this term is unknown prior to this reference, so it may have been coined by Luke. The use of the compound in a sacrificial context is consistent with the LXX which uses the verb ekchunnō and haima to denote the pouring out of blood as a sin offering upon the base of the altar (Ex 29:12; Lev 4:7, 18, 25, 30, 34; 8:15; 9:9).
no: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 5 above. forgiveness: Grk. aphesis (from aphíēmi, "send away, forgive"), a letting go, a sending away, release, pardon, forgiveness. Here the noun is used of the remission of the penalty for sin (e.g., Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38; 10:43; 13:38). In the LXX aphesis occurs at least 50 times and translates six different words (DNTT 1:698). Of these 22 times aphesis translates Heb. yobel (SH-3104), year of jubilee in Leviticus 25 and 27, as well as in Numbers 36:4. The occurrence of aphesis indicates that the term is not used chiefly in the LXX to convey the concept of forgiveness.
Rather the Torah speaks more about cleansing accomplished by sacrifices. Only once does aphesis appear in the sense of forgiveness (Lev 16:26) and there without Hebrew equivalent. In that passage the releasing of the scapegoat into the wilderness on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), is an acted out parable of sins being sent away from the people, thus releasing them from the penalty that sinning deserves (cf. Gen 50:17; Ex 10:17; 32:32; 34:7; Num 14:19; Josh 24:19; 1Sam 25:28). Some versions translate aphesis as "forgiveness of sins," but the word for sin (hamartia) does not occur in the Greek text.
occurs: Grk. ginomai, pres. pass. See verse 11 above. Almost all versions translate the verb as "is." However, ginomai is not a verb of being (eimi), but of action. Forgiveness cannot come to pass without blood being shed. Paul's axiomatic statement is based on a principle of Torah:
"For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for yourselves; for it is the blood that makes atonement because of the life." (Lev 17:11 CJB)
Stern affirms that it is not supposed that a magical power resides in blood. Rather, the Torah demonstrates the direct connection (cause and effect) between sin and death (Gen 2:17–21; cf. Rom 5:12-21). Animal sacrifice, which occurred as early as Genesis 3:11, is a reminder of the seriousness of sin and at the same time a demonstration of God's mercy toward sinners.
Unfortunately this basic principle is minimized or overlooked entirely in modern non-Messianic Judaism. In the wake of the destruction of the temple Rabbinic Judaism sought to define a relationship with God that minimized the role of blood sacrifice. Thus, traditional Jews have substituted repentance, prayer and charity for the necessity of sacrifice for sin.
Better Sacrifice of the Messiah, 9:23-28
23 Therefore it was necessary indeed for the copies of the things in Heaven, these to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
In the concluding section (verses 23-28), Paul elaborates upon the triumphant announcement of verses 11-12. His concern is to specify some of the objective benefits of Messiah's blood by reference to the heavenly sanctuary and priesthood and to the consummation of redemptive history (Lane).
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. See verse 1 above. The conjunction presupposes the argument in verses 15-22. it was necessary: Grk. anagke. See verse 16 above. The noun emphasizes the correspondence between the earthly and the heavenly described in this verse. indeed: Grk. mén, conj. See verse 1 above. Most versions do not translate the conjunction. for the copies: pl. of Grk. hupodeigma, something that serves as an indicator or model for something coming later in a different context; a symbolic expression, copy, model, replica. The noun alludes to the mishkan and its contents (verses 2-5 above), which were made according to a model shown to Moses (Ex 25:8-9, 40; Num 8:4).
of the things: neut. pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. in: Grk. en, prep., "within." Heaven: pl. of Grk. ho ouranos, lit. "the heavens," refers to the area above the earth that encompasses the atmosphere, interstellar space and the transcendent dwelling-place of God. In the LXX ouranos translates the Heb. hashamayim (lit. "the heavens"), which even in its plural form may refer to a single location (DNTT 2:191).
The Hebrew and Greek words for "heaven" are used in Scripture to refer to three different places (Ps 148:1-4). In terms of direction from the ground level of the earth the first heaven is the planetary atmosphere in which birds fly and elements of weather are produced (Gen 1:20; Matt 6:26; 16:2; Rev 19:17). The second heaven is interstellar space with its host of planetary bodies and stars (Gen 1:1, 14-15; Matt 24:29; Acts 7:42). The third heaven is the location of the throne of God and the home of angels (1Kgs 8:30; Matt 6:9; 2Cor 12:2).
In Jewish tradition there are seven heavens (Hagigah 12b; Test. Levi 3:2-3). While Scripture does not specifically mention seven heavens there are references to the "highest heavens" above God's dwelling place (Deut 10:14; 2Chr 2:6; Ps 68:33; 148:4; cf. Ezek 1:22-28). The plural form of ouranos is used here of the heavenly sanctuary, anticipating the plural hagia in the next verse for the holy of holies. Thus, the reference "things in Heaven" refers to specific created items in the heavenly sanctuary that served as the pattern for what was fabricated and placed in the mishkan.
to be cleansed: Grk. katharizō, pres. pass. inf. See verse 14 above and the previous verse. The verb alludes to the cleansing reported in verses 18 to 21 above. Lane comments that the verb shows that the emphasis is placed upon the removal of impurity. Blood provides access to God by the removal of defilement. Clarke points out that purification implies, not only cleansing from defilement, but also dedication or consecration.
Thayer concurs that given the dative case of the pronoun "these" (the dative of instrumentality) the verb is equivalent to consecrate or dedicate. All the utensils employed in the tabernacle service were thus purified though incapable of any moral pollution. Moreover, the sprinkling of blood performed on the occasion of the inauguration of the Sinai covenant was primarily for the purpose of consecration, not removal of defilement.
with these: neut. pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 6 above. The plural pronoun alludes to the blood of goats, bulls and calves mentioned in verses 12-13 and 19 above. Thus, just as the earthly replica (the mishkan) had to be consecrated with cleansing blood, so too there must be a similar cleansing of things in the heavenly tabernacle. See the Additional Note below.
but: Grk. de, conj. The conjunction is used here to emphasize contrast. the heavenly things: neut. pl. of Grk. ho epouranios, adj., may refer to existing in heaven or of heavenly origin and nature, here the former; heavenly, celestial. Thayer clarifies the meaning as "the heavenly sanctuary or temple." themselves: neut. pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. See verse 5 above. The syntax implies repetition of the verb "cleansed." with better: Grk. kreittōn, adj. (the comparative form of kratos, "dominion"), having a degree of advantage, used here to denote status or rank; better, more excellent, superior.
sacrifices: pl. of Grk. thusia, an official sacrifice prescribed by ADONAI (cf. Ex 34:15; Lev 8:31; Deut 12:27; 1Cor 10:18) (Zodhiates). In the LXX thusia generally translates two Hebrew terms for sacrificial offerings: zebach (SH-2077) and minchah (SH-4503). The zebach was an animal sacrifice of which the flesh is eaten, of which there were several kinds: (1) a covenant sacrifice (Gen 31:54); (2) a sacrifice of personal devotion (Gen 46:1); (3) a sacrifice of worship (Ex 10:25); (4) a festival sacrifice (Ex 12:27); (5) an ordination sacrifice (Ex 29:28). However, eating the blood of slaughtered animals was absolutely forbidden (Gen 9:4; Lev 3:17).
The minchah was an offering made to God of any kind, whether of field or flock, but especially of an offering of an agricultural crop (Gen 4:3, 5; Lev 2:1). The mention of "better sacrifices" may seem strange to the Christian reader, since the singular sacrifice of Yeshua was entirely adequate for atonement. The plural form is used in the sense of being a fulfillment of all the different sacrifices in the first covenant (Guthrie).
than: Grk. para, prep., with the root meaning of beside (DM 108), is extended in a figurative sense as equivalent to "contrary to," "different from," or "other than." these: pl. of Grk. houtos. The plural pronoun refers to the sacrifice of animals. Thus, similar to the cleansing of consecration performed at Sinai, Yeshua put the New Covenant into effect by shedding his blood.
Additional Note: Cleansing of Heaven
Paul's analysis poses a serious conundrum, as Hegg has expressed, "How could the very place where the express, eternal presence of God dwells be in need of cleansing?" Taking Paul literally Lane points out that the earthly tabernacle was defiled by the sin of the Israelites without their ever having entered it (cf. Lev 15:31; 20:3; 21:12, 23; Num 19:13, 20) and the sacrifices cleansed that defilement (Lev 16:16-19, 30). Thus, the effects of sin also extended to the heavenly world.
Fruchtenbaum suggests that Satan brought defilement into heaven by virtue of his sinful rebellion (Isa 14:12-14; Ezek 28:11-19). The passage in Ezekiel specifically says that the sin of Satan profaned his sanctuary (v. 18). Job's tactless friend Eliphaz asserted that because of their sin the angels were not pure and neither was Heaven (Job 4:18; 15:15; 25:5). Even in his sinful state Satan was still allowed access to the very presence of God (Job 1:6-9; cf. Rev 12:3-4, 9).
The victory of Yeshua over the grave destroyed the power of the demonic forces that reign in heavenly places (cf. John 12:31; Col 2:15; Eph 6:12) and caused Satan to be expelled from God's presence (Luke 10:18; Rev 12:7-9). While Paul does not offer this explanation of why the things of heaven needed cleansing the historical background certainly seems relevant.
Conversely, Guthrie says that "it is clear from the fact that he equates the antitype of the sanctuary with heaven itself (verse 24) that he is not thinking in literal terms." Really? Bruce, as a number of commentators, prefers a metaphorical interpretation since it is people that need cleansing, just as Peter described his Messianic Jewish audience as having been "sprinkled by the blood of Yeshua" (1Pet 1:2) and consecrated as a "spiritual house for a royal priesthood" (1Pet 2:5).
Ellicott insists: "The 'heavenly things' are not defiled by sin; but the true heavenly sanctuary cannot be entered by man, the new fellowship between God and man 'in heavenly places' cannot be inaugurated, till the heavenly things themselves have been brought into association with the One atoning sacrifice for man." Hegg similarly says, "In like manner, the 'purification' of the heavenly tabernacle may well be viewed as 'consecration' or 'inauguration,' that is, a preparing of the heavenly tabernacle through the sprinkling of Yeshua's blood, a metaphor for the application of His death to the elect through His ever living to make intercession for them."
N.T. Wright offers this analysis concerning the conundrum of purifying of the heavenly sanctuary:
"The answer it seems, is that there wasn't anything wrong with the heavenly sanctuary itself, but that it needed to be made ready for the arrival of people with whom there had been a very great deal wrong - namely, sinful human beings. How could we possibly come into the very presence of the holy God? We couldn't, of course. But, since that's what we are promised will happen, and since Jesus' sacrifice is the way by which it happens, the writer can speak with perfect sense of Jesus purifying the heavenly sanctuary itself, so that when other human beings are welcomed into it they will find, as the Israelites found in the earthly sanctuary, that everything there, too, bears the mark of God's self-giving love." (102)
Clarke concludes his analysis of this verse by saying that as the entrance to the mishkan holy of holies was made by the sprinkling of the blood of the sacrifice, and as the mishkan represented Heaven, then there could be no entrance to that holiest place but through Yeshua's blood. Thus, the heaven of heavens into which Yeshua entered, and where he will bring all his faithful followers, "must be propitiated, consecrated, and entered, by the infinitely better sacrifice of his own body and blood."
Finally we should consider that Paul introduced this truth about the impact of Yeshua's shed blood when he wrote in his letter to the congregation in Colossae:
"18 And he is the head of the body, the congregation: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; so that he might become in all things holding first place. 19 because in him God was pleased all the fullness to dwell; 20 and through him to reconcile all things to himself, having made peace through the blood of his cross; through him, whether the things upon the earth, or the things in Heaven." (Col 1:18-20 BR)
24 For Messiah has entered, not into the holy of holies made by hands, copies of the true things, but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on behalf of us.
For: Grk. gar, conj. Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 11 above. has entered: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. Paul repeats the affirmation in verse 12 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. into: Grk. eis, prep. the holy of holies: neut. pl. of Grk. hagios, adj. See verse 12 above. made by hands: Grk. cheiropoiētos, adj. See verse 11 above. The adjective alludes to the mishkan constructed in the wilderness, but since he speaks of Yeshua then the description refers more directly to the Herodian temple, which was built by the priests. See the report of Josephus of its construction (Ant. XV, 11:1-7).
copies: pl. of Grk. antitupos, a thing formed after some pattern; representation, copy. The term originated from the 'impression' made by a stamping devise such as a seal (Danker). Again Paul alludes the fabrication of the mishkan and its furnishings according to a model shown to Moses (Ex 25:8-9, 40; Num 8:4). of the true things: pl. of Grk. alēthinos, adj., in accord with what is true; (1) true, in the sense of reliable or dependable; (2) opposite of superficial, real, genuine, authentic; or (3) in accord with fact or circumstance, accurate. The second meaning is intended here. The pattern for the "copies" is in Heaven.
but: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. into: Grk. eis, prep. Heaven: Grk. ho ouranos. See the previous verse. Lane notes that Paul makes use of the singular to denote the highest heaven in which the true sanctuary as the dwelling place of God is located. itself: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The singular form of the pronoun emphasizes that that the highest heaven is intended. now: Grk. nun, adv. See verse 5 above. The adverb alludes to the present age in contrast to the former age of the mishkan.
to appear: Grk. emphanizō, aor. pass. inf., may mean (1) exhibit to view, make visible; appear; or (2) provide information; disclose, inform, make known, report. The first meaning is intended here. The infinitive expresses purpose. In the LXX emphanizō translates three different Hebrew verbs with varying meanings of declaring something or making something known or exhibiting something to be seen (Ex 33:13; Esth 2:22; Isa 3:9) (DNTT 2:488f).
in the presence: Grk. ho prosōpon, is used to mean (1) the face, by which someone is identified; (2) the countenance or visage projected by someone; and (3) a personal presence or the act of appearing before someone. The third meaning is intended here. In the LXX prosōpon translates Heb. paneh/panim (SH-6440) face, faces, used with the same range of meaning (DNTT 1:585). The descriptor is frequently used of the face or presence of God (Gen 16:13; 32:30; Ex 24:9-11; 33:20; Num 6:25f; Deut 4:12; Jdg 6:22-23; Ps 13:2; 104:29).
of God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 14 above. Yeshua literally appeared before God's face (Wright). on behalf of: Grk. huper, prep. us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. The plural pronoun refers to the covenant people of which Paul and his readers are members. The appearance of Yeshua in the presence of God on behalf of the covenant people, "provides assurance that his saving action possesses eternal validity and will secure for his people unhindered access to God as well" (Lane).
Commentators generally interpret the last clause as a reference to the ascension, but Paul offers no corroborative narrative as in Acts 1. Yeshua actually entered Heaven the same day he died. See the Additional Note on verse 12 above.
25 Nor that he should offer himself repeatedly, just as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own,
Nor: Grk. oude, conj. See verse 12 above. that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed; in order that, so that, that. he should offer: Grk. prospherō, pres. subj. See verse 7 above. himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun. repeatedly: Grk. pollakis, adv., frequently, often, many times. The first clause states the obvious based on the example of the lamb presented as a sin offering and yet the clause alludes to the execution of the office of high priest.
just as: Grk. hōsper, adv., an emphatic adverb intensifying hōs, "as;" just as, as, even as (HELPS). the high priest: Grk. ho archiereus. See verse 7 above. enters: Grk. eiserchomai, pres. mid. See verse 12 above. the holy of holies: neut. pl. of Grk. ho hagios. See verse 1 and 12 above. every: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 5 above. The preposition is used here in a distributive sense, indicating orderly and repetitively succession. year: Grk. eniautos. See verse 7 above.
with: Grk. en, prep. blood: Grk. haima. See verse 7 above. not his own: Grk. allotrios, adj., belonging to another, not one's own. The second clause affirms the common knowledge of Jews that the sacrifice of Yom Kippur in which the high priest brought the blood of the sacrificial animal into the holy of holies occurred once a year every year.
26 otherwise it was necessary for him to have suffered repeatedly from the foundation of the world. But now, he has been revealed once at the consummation of the ages for the removal of sin through his sacrifice.
otherwise: Grk. epei, conj. See verse 17 above. it was necessary for: Grk. dei, impf., impersonal verb from deō ('lack, stand in need of') and thus conveys the idea of necessity or an expected outcome, something that must happen or something one is obligated to do, which may arise in a variety of circumstances; must, necessary, behooves. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. to have suffered: Grk. paschō, aor. inf., to experience something, but often with a negative connotation in association with physical pain or ill treatment; suffer. The verb is often used of the sufferings of Yeshua, which encompassed a wide range of negative treatment.
Properly speaking Yeshua's sufferings included the following:
● Attempted murder: Luke 4:29; 13:31; John 5:18; 8:59; 11:8; 10:31.
● False accusation of being a sinner: John 9:15, 24.
● Hated without a cause: John 15:24–25.
● Rejected by Jewish leadership: Matt 21:42, John 7:48.
● Rejected by his own people: Mark 6:3; Luke 9:58; John 1:11; 7:3-5.
● Betrayed by a friend: Matt 26:21–25, 47–50; John 13:18–19.
● Forsaken by his disciples: Matt 26:31–56.
● Denied his legal rights: Mark 14:43-48, 53-57.
● Spat on, struck on the cheek, mocked and beaten: Matt 26:67–68; 27:26, 30-31, 39–44.
● Executed by having hands and feet pierced contrary to Jewish law: Matt 27:35; Luke 24:39; John 19:18, 34-37; 20:20-28.
All of his sufferings were prophesied in the Tanakh. For a complete list of the prophesied sufferings of the Messiah see my comment on Acts 3:18. As used here the verb "suffered" refers primarily to Yeshua's execution on the cross (cf. Luke 22:15; 24:46; Acts 1:3; 3:18; 17:3; 26:23; Heb 2:9; 13:12).
repeatedly: Grk. pollakis, adv. See the previous verse. from: Grk. apo, prep. the foundation: Grk. katabolē, a founding or laying down a foundation. In Greek culture the noun referred to a foundation, cast according to a blueprint consisting of the substructure and the foundation-plan, upon which the entire super-structure is built (HELPS). The noun occurs 11 times in the Besekh, ten of which denote something that took place in relation to creation, whether before or after (Matt 25:34; Eph 1:4; Heb 9:26; 1Pet 1:26; Rev 13:8; 17:8). Some versions have "creation" (CEV, EHV, EXB, GNB, ISV, NCB, NIV).
of the world: Grk. kosmos, world, has a variety of uses in the Besekh, including (1) the entire cosmic universe including the earth; (2) the earth as the abode of mankind; or (3) the present world, the present order of things in contrast to the Kingdom of God (Zodhiates). In ancient Greek kosmos originally meant an harmonious arrangement and then ornament, decoration, and adornment. To Greek philosophers the term meant the sum total of everything in existence here and now, the orderly universe. Pythagoras (570-495 BC) is credited as the first to use the word in this sense (Thayer).
The LXX of the Tanakh uses kosmos five times for Heb. tsaba, (SH-6635), host, in reference to the arrangement of the stars, 'the heavenly hosts,' as the ornament of the heavens (Gen 2:1; Deut 4:19). The meaning of kosmos as the 'orderly universe' is found especially in the Apocrypha (2Macc. 7:23; 8:18; 4Macc. 5:25; Sir. 6:30; 21:21; Wis. 7:17; 9:3; 11:18). However, combined with the word "foundation" kosmos most likely means "world" and Scripture affirms that the earth was created with an orderly physical structure (Ps 104:5; Prov 8:29; Isa 40:21; 51:13; Jer 31:37; Zech 12:1). Also, the "suffering" mentioned occurred in the world.
Yeshua declared that his kingdom was established in the foundation of the world (Matt 25:34), and the apostles affirmed the entire plan of salvation, including the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, was conceived and planned before creation (cf. Eph 1:4; Col 1:18; 2Th 2:13; 1Pet 1:20; Rev 13:8).
But: Grk. de, conj. now: Grk. nuni, temporal adv., an intensified form of nun ("now), "precisely now" (HELPS), which means "Now as it was definitely not like this before, or after" (Thayer). he has been revealed: Grk. phaneroō, perf. pass. See verse 8 above. once: Grk. hapax. See verse 7 above. Some versions add "for all" (ESV, NET, NIV, NLT, NRSV, RSV). at: Grk. epi, prep. the consummation: Grk. sunteleia (from sũn, "with" and teleō, "to complete"), culmination or completion, i.e. when the parts come together into a whole, "consummation" (HELPS). The term always has an eschatological meaning in the Besekh.
of the ages: pl. of Grk. ho aiōn, properly, an age or era ("time-span"), characterized by a specific quality or type of existence (HELPS). In the LXX aiōn translates Heb. ōlam (SH-5769), "long duration, antiquity or futurity" (BDB 761), first in Genesis 3:22. Olam is also used adverbially to mean "forever, for all time" (Gen 9:12), as well as ancient time (Gen 6:4; 49:26), and indefinite futurity (Deut 15:17). In the Besekh Yeshua and the apostles generally speak of two specific ages – the present age (Heb. olam hazeh; Matt 28:20) and the age to come (Heb. olam haba; Matt 12:32), which follows the Second Coming. The reference "consummation of the ages" implies ages that preceded the present age, such as the primeval age, and the patriarchal age.
for: Grk. eis, prep. the removal: Grk. athetēsis, a setting aside; a legal term for abolition, abrogation, annulment, cancellation, nullification, or removal. of sin: Grk. ho hamartia may refer to (1) a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness; (2) the result of sinning or the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. Hamartia is the dominant word for sin in the Besekh.
In the LXX hamartia translates several Hebrew words for guilt and sin. The Tanakh has no main general word for sin like is found in the Besekh (DNTT 3:577). In the Torah hamartia primarily translates Heb. chatta'ah (SH-2403; BDB 308), which is used for sin against man or God, guilt of sin, punishment for sin or a sin offering (Gen 18:20; 50:17; Ex 10:17; 29:14). Throughout Scripture sin as a behavior is a violation of God's written commandments (Rom 3:20; 5:13; 7:7). The degree of intentionality is not a factor in defining sinful behavior.
through: Grk. dia, prep. his: Grk. autos. sacrifice: Grk. ho thusia. See verse 23 above. The purpose-plan of God to bring forth the sacrificial Seed of the Woman (Gen 3:15) to provide deliverance from sin was carried out in those former ages and finally accomplished in the present age.
27 And accordingly as much as it is appointed to men to die once; then after this judgment,
Reference: Genesis 3:19.
And: Grk. kai, conj. accordingly: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 5 above. The preposition here emphasizes conformity to a standard. as much as: Grk. hosos, relative pronoun used to signify maximum inclusion; as much as, in so far as. it is appointed: Grk. apokeimai, pres. pass., to be laid away, used here of an event that is certain and not subject to change; appointed, determined, reserved. The verb alludes to a divine decree. The present tense is used to give vividness to the past event.
to men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos, human, man or mankind; i.e., one of the human race. In the LXX anthrōpos translates three Hebrew words: (1) adam (Gen 1:26-27); (2) ish (Gen 2:23-24) and (3) enosh (Ps 8:4-5), which are generally used for a human male, husband, or mankind (DNTT 2:564). The plural noun is used here of mankind, i.e., all human descendants of Adam. Of importance is that according to Scripture there is only one race, the human race, and the divine appointment has universal application.
to die: Grk. apothnēskō, aor. inf., to cease to live, generally used of physical death, whether natural or violent. once: Grk. hapax, adv. See verse 7 above. Paul affirms the common experience that everyone dies because of God's curse on Adam (Gen 3:19; Rom 5:12; 1Cor 15:22). The clause does not specifically say that the specific day of death is appointed, although it would be foreknown by God (cf. Gen 47:29; Deut 31:14; 1Kgs 2:1; Ps 139:16; Eccl 3:2).
This axiom does not contradict the fact that various men in Scripture died twice, that is, they died and then were restored to life and later died a final time. Examples include the Shunammite's son (2Kgs 4:34-36), the man thrown into Elisha's grave (2Kgs 13:20-21), the son of the widow from Nain (Luke 7:14-15), Lazarus (John 11:43-44), the dead at the crucifixion of Yeshua (Matt. 27:52-53), and Dorcas (Acts 9:40). Hebrews 11:35 suggests there was more than one woman during Old Covenant days that received family members back from the dead.
Hegg notes that some might argue that it is not a universal axiom, since Enoch did not die (Gen 5:24; Heb 11:5); and Elijah was taken up alive into heaven (2Kgs 2:11). Likewise, Paul speaks of those who have not died and will meet the Lord in the air at His coming (1Th 4:15ff). Then, John was informed of a "second death" (Rev 2:11; 20:6, 14f; 21:8). But these examples do not prove that Paul is wrong, but rather the exceptions prove the rule. For in all of the generations of mankind, the examples of Enoch and Elijah prove that God, in His omnipotence, has the power of life as well as power over death (Deut 32:39; 1Sam 2:6; Rev 1:18).
Paul's assertion concerning the inevitability and unrepeatable nature of death entirely destroys any notion of reincarnation, a belief prevalent in ancient pagan culture. The Greek philosophers did believe in the immortality of the soul. The Greeks believed that when a person died he went to Hades, the general place of the dead, located in the lower parts of the earth and consisting of various regions. If the person had been especially good he would go to a paradise region called Elysium and enjoy eternal blessedness. If he had been wicked he would go to Tartarus where he is tortured for eternity.
However, various Greek philosophers, especially Pythagoras (5th/4th c. BC) and Plato (4th/3rd c. BC), advocated the idea of metempsychosis, that is, the transmigration of the soul, especially its reincarnation after death. So, after a period of purification in Hades the soul migrated back to earth to find its way into human or animal bodies (Plato, Republic, Book X, 611, 620). Some scholars suggest that this idea was brought back from India after the conquest of Alexander the Great, but the seeds of the belief had been present in the Orphic religion, which appeared in Greece c. 6th cent. BC. Pythagoras himself had studied in India. (See Bulfinch's Mythology, Chap. XXXIV, Pythagoras.)
Paul was all too aware that Jews in the Diaspora were surrounded by pagan influences and temptations. Many Jews had embraced religious syncretism in various forms to get along. The apostles offered strong exhortations to their fellow Jews to avoid cultural entanglements (2Cor 6:14-16; Eph 6:12; Col 2:8; Jas 1:27; 4:4; 2Pet 2:1-3). This axiomatic assertion about death is a strong warning that the brevity of life necessitates the fear of God (cf. 1Cor 7:1; Rev 14:7).
then: Grk. de, conj. See verse 3 above. after: Grk. meta, prep. See verse 3 above. The preposition here emphasizes sequence. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 6 above. The preposition refers to the certainty of death. judgment: Grk. krisis (from krinō, to separate, judge") is used primarily to mean scrutiny of conduct, either evaluation or procedure, mostly in a legal sense; judgment. The word krisis refers to the overall administration of jurisprudence, from which may come a positive verdict that vindicates the innocent, or more commonly, a negative verdict that condemns the guilty.
In the LXX krisis translates primarily Heb. mishpat (SH-4941), judgment or justice (e.g., Gen 18:19, 25; Ex 15:25; Lev 19:15; Num 35:12; Deut 1:17; Isa 5:7; 56:1; 59:8; Jer 17:11), which most often refers to the act of deciding a case, the decision itself, or the execution of the judgment, and in doing so providing justice to victims. See my article Biblical Justice for the principles that God intended to guide jurisprudence. In this context krisis refers to the scrutiny of conduct by God that all must face after death (cf. Rom 14:10).
Lane comments that the fact that death will be followed by divine judgment was commonly stressed in the teaching of the old synagogue. A record of the popular form this teaching is preserved in the Targum Neofiti (1st cent. A.D.) where Cain, the prototype of the godless person, argues that there is no judgment, and there is no judge, and there is no other world, and there is no giving of a good reward to the just, and there is no retribution exacted from the wicked, while Abel, the prototype of the godly person, takes the contrary point of view (Tg. Neof. Gen 4:8).
Scripture records that there are in fact three judgment events. The first judgment occurs immediately after death which determines an intermediate place of punishment (Hades) or blessedness (Paradise), as reported in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:22-26). Yeshua while on the cross informed one of the thieves that he would be in Paradise that very day (Luke 23:43) and later John saw the souls of martyrs in heaven (Rev 6:9). Hades should not be confused with Hell, as illustrated in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Hades is always described as being down, thus it is in a subterranean region of the earth (cf. Deut 32:22; Ezek 26:20; Matt 11:23; Luke 10:15; Rev 9:1-2).
Since the Bible does not admit to any belief in Purgatory, Hades is not a temporary abode where one's guilt is purged in order to qualify for the blessing of heaven. Instead Hades is a place where the unredeemed dead are kept in anticipation of the final judgment. The reference to "judgment" might also extend to the judgment conducted by Yeshua, the Messiah, following the resurrection and Second Coming (Matt 25:31-33; John 5:22; 2Cor 5:10). The final judgment will be performed by God after the millennium (Rom 14:10; Rev 20:5, 11-15; 21:8).
28 thus also the Messiah, having been offered once to bear the sins of the many, will be seen for a second time, without being a sin offering, to those waiting in expectation for salvation.
Reference: Isaiah 53:12.
Paul repeats the affirmation from 7:27. thus: Grk. houtōs, adv. used to introduce the manner or way in which something has been done or to be done; thus, in this manner, in this way or like this. also: Grk. kai, conj. the Messiah: Grk. ho Christos. See verse 11 above. having been offered: Grk. prospherō, aor. pass. part. See verse 7 above. In 7:27 the participle is active voice, describing Yeshua as performing the action, whereas here the passive voice is used to emphasize submitting to the Father's will to be offered as the Lamb of God. once: Grk. hapax, adv. See verse 7 above. Paul then quotes a clause from Isaiah 53:12.
to bear: Grk. anapherō (from ana, "up" and pherō, "bear, bring"), aor. inf., to bring up, to carry up, to lead up or to offer up to God as a sacrifice, a technical religious term involving perception of an elevated site for the offering. This verb is used elsewhere to affirm that Yeshua freely offered himself and bore our sins on the cross (Heb 7:27; 1Pet 2:24). the sins: pl. of Grk. hamartia. See verse 26 above. of the many: pl. of Grk. ho polus, adj., extensive in scope, indicating a high degree of amount or quality; great, much. The plural form with the definite article stands for "the common people" or a great multitude (Zodhiates).
In the LXX polus translates Heb. rab (SH-7227), much, many, great, and occurs in the idiomatic use of "the many" for whom the Servant will provide atonement (Isa 53:11) and "the many" who will be led to righteousness (Dan 12:3). The broad application of the idiom can be seen in Paul's letter to the Roman congregation,
"For if by the trespass of the one the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace that is of the one man, Yeshua the Messiah, abound to the many" (Rom 5:15 BR), and
"For as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous" (Rom 5:19 BR).
will be seen: Grk. horaō, fut. pass., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience something or to have extraordinary mental or inward perception; see, perceive, experience. The great majority of versions translate the verb as future active voice ("will appear"), but the verb is passive voice signifying "be seen." The point is that Yeshua will be seen. If Paul had meant "appear" he would have used phainō (e.g., Matt 24:30). for: Grk. ek, prep., lit. "out from," but used here to signify a particular starting point in time.
a second time: Grk. deuteros, adj., the second, used here in a temporal sense. without: Grk. chōris, adv. See verse 7 above. being a sin offering: Grk. hamartia. See verse 26 above. The translation of "apart from/without sin" in some versions (ASV, BRG, DRA, JUB, KJV, NKJV, NMB, RGT, TLV, WEB) seems a non sequitur, since Yeshua has never been sinful. Important to understanding Paul's meaning here is that in the LXX hamartia translates three Hebrew terms that mean "sin offering:" (1) chatta'ah in Exodus 29:14 (and frequently in Leviticus and Numbers), (2) chataah (SH-2401) in Psalm 40:6; and (3) chattaah (SH-2402) in Ezra 6:17.
Speaking or writing in Hebrew Paul likely used chatta'ah and Luke appropriately translated the noun as hamartia. Paul used hamartia for "sin offering" a few times elsewhere (Rom 6:10; 8:3; 2Cor 5:21). Many versions convey the idea of sin offering by affirming that the second time Yeshua will not "deal with sin" or words to that effect (CEB, CEV, CJB, CSB, ESV, GNB, GNC, GW, ISV, NOG, NABRE, NCB, NCV, NET, NIV, NLT, NRSV, RSV, TLB, WE). The MJLT and YLT translate hamartia with "sin-offering. The point is that in his first advent Yeshua served as a sin offering and provided atonement for the world. With that mission accomplished the second advent will bring a different victory.
to those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. waiting in expectation: Grk. apekdechomai, pres. mid. part., remain in a state of waiting for an expected event to take place; await eagerly, expect eagerly, look for. The prefix (apo, "from") intensifies the root (dechomai, "welcome") to emphasize the idea of separation, that is looking completely away from this world, and anticipating the coming redemption (HELPS).
for: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." salvation: Grk. sōtēria means rescue, deliverance or salvation, whether from physical harm (Acts 7:25; 27:34), from the penalty of sin (Luke 1:77; Rom 10:10), or from God's wrath (Rom 5:9; 1Cor 5:5). In the LXX sōtēria translates Heb. shalom (SH-7965), peace (Gen 26:31; 28:31; 44:17), but primarily nouns derived from the verb yasha, to deliver (DNTT 3:206). These nouns include yeshu'ah (Gen 49:18; Ex 14:13; 15:2; 1Sam 2:1), teshu'ah (Jdg 15:18; 1Sam 11:9, 13), and yesha (2Sam 22:3; Ps 18:2), each of which can mean deliverance, salvation or victory.
In Scripture "salvation" often refers to physical deliverance or rescue from the oppression of enemies (Ex 14:13; Luke 1:71), whether personal or national, often through human agency. Here sōtēria is used of future salvation, the sum of benefits and blessings which followers of Yeshua, redeemed from all earthly ills, will enjoy after the visible return of Yeshua from heaven in the consummated and eternal kingdom of God (cf. Rom 13:11; 1Th 5:9; 1Pet 1:5, 10; Rev 7:1; 12:10; 19:1) (Thayer).
The chapter thus closes with strong assertion of the final victory of the one who sacrificed his life to atone for sin and to enact the New Covenant with its blessed promises for the covenant people.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Barnes: Albert Barnes (1798-1870), Notes on the Whole Bible (1834). Baker Book House, 1949. Online.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.
Bruce: F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1964. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
BSB: The Berean Study Bible. BibleHub, 2016, 2020. Online.
Cassirer: Heinz Walter Cassirer (1903-1979), God's New Covenant: A New Testament Translation. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1989.
Chrysostom: John Chrysostom (347-407), Homilies on the Epistle to the Hebrews. Oxford Edition. ed. Philip Schaff; trans. J. Walker, et. al. (Online)
Clarke: Adam Clarke (1762–1832), Commentary on the Holy Bible. 6 vols. Online.
Coke: Thomas Coke (1747-1814), Commentary on the Holy Bible. 6 vols. Online.
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
Delitzsch: Franz Delitzsch (1813-1890), Hebrew New Testament. Leipzig, 1877. Online. (Translation of the Greek New Testament into biblical Hebrew.)
DNTT: Colin Brown, ed., Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 Vols. Zondervan Pub. House, 1975.
Ellicott: Charles John Ellicott (1819–1905), Commentary for English Readers (1878). Online.
Farrar: Frederic W. Farrar (1831-1903), Hebrews, The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Cambridge University Press, 1891. Online.
Faussett: A.R. Faussett, The Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1871) by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown. Online.
Feinberg: Jeffrey Enoch Feinberg, Walk Exodus. Messianic Jewish Publishers, 2000.
Fruchtenbaum: Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, "Hebrews," Ariel's Bible Commentary: The Messianic Jewish Epistles. Ariel Ministries, 2005.
GNT: The Greek New Testament, eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Bruce M. Metzger, & Allen Wiegren. American Bible Society, 1966. [NA25]
Gruber: Daniel Gruber, The Messianic Writings. Elijah Publishing, 2011. [Translation of the New Testament Majority Text and annotations by the author.]
Guthrie: Donald Guthrie, Hebrews. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1983. [Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Vol. 15].
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
Hegg: Tim Hegg, A Commentary on the Book of Hebrews. Vol. 2. TorahResource, 2016.
Hill: David Hill, Greek Words and Hebrew Meanings: Studies in the Semantics of Soteriological Terms. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2000.
Hughes: John J. Hughes, "Hebrews IX 15ff. and Galatians III 15ff.: A Study in Covenant Practice and Procedure," Novum Testamentum, Vol. 21, Fasc. 1. Brill, January, 1979; pp. 27-96. Online.
Lane: William L. Lane, Word Biblical Commentary: Hebrews 9-13. Word Books, 1991. Online.
Leman: Derek Leman, A New Look at the Old Testament. Mt. Olive Press, 2006.
LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon (1889). rev. by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online
Marshall: Alfred Marshall, NASB-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English with Interlinear Translation. Zondervan, 1986.
McKee: John Kimball McKee, Hebrews for the Practical Messianic. Messianic Apologetics, 2012.
Meyer: Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer (1800-1873), Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (1859). 21 vols. T&T Clark, 1880. Online.
Morris: Leon Morris, Hebrews. Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 12. Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.
Poole: Matthew Poole (1624–1679), A Commentary on the Holy Bible. Hendrickson Publishers, 1985. Online.
REV: Revised English Version. Spirit and Truth Fellowship International, 2013. Online.
Robertson: Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 6 Vols. Broadman Press, 1933. (Parsons CD-ROM Version 2.0, 1997) Online.
SBD: William Smith (1813-1893), A Dictionary of the Bible (1884). 3 vols. Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer (1828-1901), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Harper Brothers, 1889). Hendrickson Publishers, 2003. Online.
TLV: Tree of Life Version, Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society, 2014. Online.
Vincent: Marvin R. Vincent (1834-1922), The Word Studies in the New Testament. 4 vols. Hendrickson Pub., 1886. Online.
Wenham: Gordon J. Wenham, The Book of Leviticus. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1979.
Wesley: John Wesley (1703-1791), Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament: The Epistle to the Hebrews. William Bowyer, 1755. Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Online.
Westcott: B.F. Westcott (1825-1901), The Epistle to the Hebrews. 2nd ed. Macmillan and Co., 1892. Online.
Wright: N.T. Wright, Hebrews for Everyone. (The New Testament for Everyone). Westminster John Knox Press, 2004.
Zodhiates: Spiros Zodhiates (1922-2009), ed. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. AMG Publishers, 1992, 1993.
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