Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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HEBREWS - Chapter 9

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Hebrews 9

Supplemental Commentary:


4.  A Superior Sacrifice  9, 1 -- 10, 18

9, 1-28:  A comparison is made between the earthly sanctuary where the Jewish priests functioned, and the heavenly sanctuary in which Christ has entered to make intercession for us (1-14).  The sacrificial value of Christ's death is then explained (15-28).

9, 1-5:  The Earthly Sanctuary.    2.  Tabernacle: i.e., tent.  The large tent set up by Moses for religious worship consisted of two compartments, each of which is here referred to as a tabernacle.  The outer tabernacle was known as the Holy Place; the inner one, as the Holy of Holies.  There was a veil before each compartment.    4.  Golden censer: the Holy of Holies was never entered without incense (Lev. 16, 12).  Some believe that the golden altar of incense is meant, but that stood in the Holy Place, immediately in front of the veil, but not in the Holy of Holies.  Ark of the covenant: the sacred box in which originally were kept the two tablets of stone on which the ten commandments were engraved (Ex. 25, 10-22).  Golden pot containing the manna: see Ex. 16, 32-34.  Rod of Aaron: see Num. 17, 1-10.    5.  Cherubim: see Ex. 25, 17-22; 37, 6-9.  Mercy-seat: the golden lid of the ark, which was sprinkled with sacrificial blood by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16, 14 f).  The presence of God rested above the mercy-seat (Ex. 25, 22; Num. 7, 89).

9, 6-10:  A Type of the Heavenly Sanctuary.  The Holy of Holies is a type of heaven: the Holy Place (first tabernacle) of the Old Testament.  Heaven was not opened until the death of Christ when the veil of the temple was rent (Matt. 27, 51).

9, 11-14:  Christ the High Priest and Victim.    11.  Tabernacle not made by hands: namely, heaven.  Some interpret it of Christ's body.  Entered once for all . . . into the Holies: into the sanctuary of heaven.  Since His blood was of infinite value, there was no need to repeat the sacrifice.    13.  Cleansing of the flesh: the Jewish sacrifices removed ceremonial uncleanness, but could not remove sin.    14.  Dead works: sins.

9, 15-17:  Redemption through Christ.  The Greek word for "covenant," also means "testament" in the sense of a last will.  The covenant which Christ came to establish was also His testament or will, and hence His death was necessary before the will could be effective.  The death of Christ was an essential condition for the establishment of the New Covenant which brought about man's salvation.

9, 23-28:  The Blood of Christ.    23.  Copies of the heavenly realities: the Mosaic tabernacle had been made after a pattern shown to Moses on the Mount (Ex. 25, 9).  It was but a type of the heavenly sanctuary.  The heavenly sanctuary could not be cleansed like the earthly, but sins could be removed through the sacrificial blood of Christ, and man enabled to enter.    25.  The sacrifice of Christ was complete, and did not need repeating.    26.  At the end of the ages: in the Messianic times.    27.  The judgment:  most probably the Last Judgment is meant, rather than the particular judgment immediately after death.    28.  The sins of many: see Isa. 53, 12.  Christ died for all, but all do not avail themselves of salvation.  With no part in sin: our Lord's first coming was in connection with sin; His Second Coming will be in glory.  The allusion is to the re-appearance of the High Priest from the Holy of Holies.

Confraternity Bible:

The Earthly Sanctuary  1 The first covenant also had ritual ordinances and a sanctuary, though an earthly one.  2 For there was set up a tabernacle in the outer part of which were the lamp-stand and the table and the showbread, and this is called the Holy Place; 3 but beyond the second veil was the tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, 4 having a golden censer and the ark of the covenant, overlaid on every side with gold.  In the ark was a golden pot containing the manna and the rod of Aaron which had budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy-seat.  But of all these we cannot now speak in detail.

A Type of the Heavenly Sanctuary  6 Such then being the arrangements, the priests always used to enter into the first tabernacle to perform the sacred rites; 7 but into the second tabernacle the high priest alone entered once a year, not without blood, which he offered for his own and the people's sins of ignorance.  8 The Holy Spirit signified by this that the way into the Holies was not yet thrown open while the first tabernacle was still standing.  9 The first tabernacle is a figure of the present time, inasmuch as gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the worshipper in conscience, since they refer only to food and drink 10 and various ablutions and bodily regulations imposed until a time of reformation.

Christ the High Priest and Victim  11 But when Christ appeared as high priest of the good things to come, he entered once for all through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made by hands (that is, not of this creation), 12 nor again by virtue of blood of goats and calves, but by virtue of his own blood, into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption.  13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkled ashes of a heifer sanctify the unclean unto the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the Holy Spirit offered himself unblemished unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Redemption through Christ  15 And this is why he is mediator of a new covenant, that whereas a death has taken place for redemption from the transgressions committed under the former covenant, they who have been called may receive eternal inheritance according to the promise.  16 For where there is a testament, the death of the testator must intervene; 17 for a testament is valid only when men are dead, otherwise it has as yet no force as long as the testator is alive.

The Blood of Victims  18 Hence not even the first has been inaugurated without blood; 19 for when every commandment of the Law had been read by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of the calves and of the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20* saying, 
"This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded for you." 
21 The tabernacle also and all the vessels of the ministry he sprinkled likewise with blood; 22* and with blood almost everything is cleansed according to the Law, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

The Blood of Christ  23 It was necessary, therefore, that the copies of the heavenly realities should be cleansed by these things; but the heavenly realities themselves require better sacrifices than these.  24 For Jesus has not entered into a Holies made by hands, a mere copy of the true, but into heaven itself, to appear now before the face of God on our behalf; 25 nor yet has he entered to offer himself often, as the high priest enters into the Holies year after year with blood not his own; 26 for in that case he must have suffered often since the beginning of the world.  But as it is, once for all at the end of the ages, he has appeared for the destruction of sin by the sacrifice of himself.  27 And just as it is appointed unto men to die once and after this comes the judgment, 28* so also was Christ offered once to take away the sins of many; the second time with no part in sin he will appear unto the salvation of those who await him.


20: Ex. 24, 8.

22: Forgiveness: legal pardon.

28: Sins of many: "His death was offered to prevent the ruin of all, but He did not take away the sins of all, because they themselves were unwilling" (St. John Chrysostom).