Hebrews 9


Of the first covenant, and its ordinances, 1.

The tabernacle, candlestick, table, show-bread, veil, holy of

holies, censer, ark, pot of manna, Aaron's rod, tables of the

covenant, cherubim of glory, and mercy seat, 2-5.

How the priests served, 6, 7.

What was signified by the service, 8-10.

The superior excellency of Christ's ministry and sacrifice, and

the efficacy of his blood, 11-26.

As men must once die and be judged, so Christ was once offered

to bear the sins of many, and shall come without a

sin-offering, a second time, to them that expect him, 27, 28.


Verse 1. The first covenant had also ordinances] Our

translators have introduced the word covenant, as if διαθηκη had

been, if not originally in the text, yet in the apostle's mind.

Several MSS., but not of good note, as well as printed editions,

with the Coptic version, have σκηνη tabernacle; but this is

omitted by ABDE, several others, both the Syriac, AEthiopic,

Armenian, Vulgate, some copies of the Itala, and several of the

Greek fathers; it is in all probability a spurious reading, the

whole context showing that covenant is that to which the apostle

refers, as that was the subject in the preceding chapter, and this

is a continuation of the same discourse.

Ordinances] δικαιωματα. Rites and ceremonies.

A worldly sanctuary.] αγιονκοσμικον. It is supposed that the

term worldly, here, is opposed to the term heavenly, Heb 8:5;

and that the whole should be referred to the carnality or secular

nature of the tabernacle service. But I think there is nothing

plainer than that the apostle is speaking here in praise of this

sublimely emblematic service, and hence he proceeds to enumerate

the various things contained in the first tabernacle, which added

vastly to its splendour and importance; such as the table of the

show-bread, the golden candlestick, the golden censer, the ark of

the covenant overlaid round about with gold, in which was the

golden pot that had the manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the

two tables which God had written with his own finger: hence I am

led to believe that κοσμικος is here taken in its proper, natural

meaning, and signifies adorned, embellished, splendid; and hence

κοσμος, the world: Tota hujus universi machina, coelum et terram

complectens et quicquid utroque contineter, κοσμος dicitur, quod

nihil ea est mundius, pulchrius, et ornatius. "The whole machine

of this universe, comprehending the heavens and the earth, and

whatsoever is contained in both, is called κοσμος, because nothing

is more beautiful, more fair, and more elegant." So Pliny, Hist.

Nat., l. ii. c. 5: Nam quem κοσμον Graeci nomine ornamenti

appellaverunt, eum nos a perfecta absolutaque elegantia, MUNDUM.

"That which the Greeks call κοσμος, ornament, we, (the Latins,)

from its perfect and absolute elegance call mundum, world."

See on "Ge 2:1".

The Jews believe that the tabernacle was an epitome of the

world; and it is remarkable, when speaking of their city, that

they express this sentiment by the same Greek word, in Hebrew

letters, which the apostle uses here: so in Bereshith Rabba, s.

19, fol. 19: col kozmikon (κοσμικον)

shelo sham hu. "All his world is placed there." Philo says much

to the same purpose.

If my exposition be not admitted, the next most likely is, that

God has a worldly tabernacle as well as a heavenly one; that he as

truly dwelt in the Jewish tabernacle as he did in the heaven of

heavens; the one being his worldly house, the other his heavenly


Verse 2. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein]

The sense is here very obscure, and the construction involved:

leaving out all punctuation, which is the case with all the very

ancient MSS., the verse stands thus: σκηνηγαρκατεσκευασθηη

πρωτηενηητελυχνιακτλ which I suppose an indifferent

person, who understood the language, would without hesitation

render, For, there was the first tabernacle constructed, in which

were the candlestick, &c. And this tabernacle or dwelling may be

called the first dwelling place which God had among men, to

distinguish it from the second dwelling place, the temple built by

Solomon; for tabernacle here is to be considered in its general

sense, as implying a dwelling.

To have a proper understanding of what the apostle relates here,

we should endeavour to take a concise view of the tabernacle

erected by Moses in the wilderness. This tabernacle was the

epitome of the Jewish temple; or rather, according to this as a

model was the Jewish temple built. It comprised, 1. The court

where the people might enter. 2. In this was contained the altar

of burnt-offerings, on which were offered the sacrifices in

general, besides offerings of bread, wine, and other things.

3. At the bottom or lower end of this court was the tent of the

covenant; the two principal parts of the tabernacle were, the holy

place and the holy of holies. In the temple built by Solomon

there was a court for the Levites, different from that of the

people; and, at the entrance of the holy place, a vestibule. But

in the tabernacle built by Moses these parts were not found, nor

does the apostle mention them here.

In the holy place, as the apostle observes, there were,

1. The golden candlestick of seven branches, on the south.

2. The golden altar, or altar of incense, on the north.

3. The altar, or table of the show-bread; or where the twelve

loaves, representing the twelve tribes, were laid before the Lord.

1. In each branch of the golden candlestick was a lamp; these

were lighted every evening, and extinguished every morning. They

were intended to give light by night. 2. The altar of incense was

of gold; and a priest, chosen by lot each week, offered incense

every morning and evening in a golden censer, which he probably

left on the altar after the completion of the offering. 3. The

table of the show-bread was covered with plates of gold; and on

this, every Sabbath, they placed twelve loaves in two piles, six

in each, which continued there all the week till the next Sabbath,

when they were removed, and fresh loaves put in their place. The

whole of this may be seen in all its details in the book of

Exodus, from chap. 35 to 40. See Calmet also.

Which is called the sanctuary.] ητιςλεγεταιαγια. This is

called holy. This clause may apply to any of the nouns in this

verse, in the nominative case, which are all of the feminine

gender; and the adjective αγια, holy, may be considered here as

the nominative singular feminine, agreeing with ητις. Several

editions accent the words in reference to this construction. The

word σκηνη, tabernacle, may be the proper antecedent; and then we

may read αγια, instead of αγια: but these niceties belong chiefly

to grammarians,

Verse 3. And after the second veil] The first veil, of which

the apostle has not yet spoken, was at the entrance of the holy

place, and separated the temple from the court, and prevented the

people, and even the Levites, from seeing what was in the holy


The second veil, of which the apostle speaks here, separated the

holy place from the holy of holies.

The tabernacle, which is called the Holiest of all] That is,

that part of the tabernacle which is called the holy of holies.

Verse 4. Which had the golden censer] It is evident that the

apostle speaks here of the tabernacle built by Moses, and of the

state and contents of that tabernacle as they were during the

lifetime of Moses. For, as Calmet remarks, in the temple which

was afterwards built there were many things added which were not

in the tabernacle, and several things left out. The ark of the

covenant and the two tables of the law were never found after the

return from the Babylonish captivity. We have no proof that, even

in the time of Solomon, the golden pot of manna, or the rod of

Aaron, was either in or near the ark. In Solomon's temple the

holy place was separated from the holy of holies by a solid wall,

instead of a veil, and by strong wooden doors, 1Ki 6:31-33. In

the same temple there was a large vestibule before the holy place;

and round about this and the holy of holies there were many

chambers in three stories, 1Ki 6:5, 6. But there was nothing of

all this in the Mosaic tabernacle; therefore, says Calmet, we need

not trouble ourselves to reconcile the various scriptures which

mention this subject; some of which refer to the tabernacle,

others to Solomon's temple, and others to the temple built by

Zorobabel; which places were very different from each other.

The apostle says that the golden censer was in the holy of

holies; but this is nowhere mentioned by Moses. But he tells us

that the high priest went in, once every year, with the golden

censer to burn incense; and Calmet thinks this censer was left

there all the year, and that its place was supplied by a new one,

brought in by the priest the year following. Others think it was

left just within the veil, so that the priest, by putting his hand

under the curtain, could take it out, and prepare it for his next

entrance into the holiest.

The ark of the covenant] This was a sort of chest overlaid with

plates of gold, in which the two tables of the law, Aaron's rod,

the pot of manna, &c., were deposited. Its top, or lid, was the

propitiatory or mercy-seat.

Verse 5. And over it the cherubims of glory] Cherubim is the

plural of cherub, and it is absurd to add our plural termination

(s) to the plural termination of the Hebrew. The glory here

signifies the shechinah or symbol of the Divine presence.

Shadowing the mercy-seat] One at each end of the ark, with

their faces turned toward each other, but looking down on the

cover or propitiatory, ιλαστηριον, here called the mercy-seat.

Of which we cannot now speak particularly.] The apostle did not

judge any farther account of these to be necessary; and I may be

excused from considering them particularly here, having said so

much on each in the places where they occur in the Pentateuch.

What these point out or signify is thus explained by St. Cyril:

Christus licet unus sit, multifariam tamen a nobis intelligitur:

Ipse est Tabernaculum propter carnis tegumenturn: Ipse est Mensa,

quia noster cibus est et vita: Ipse est Arca habens legem Dei

reconditam, quia est Verbum Patris: Ipse est Candelabrum, quia est

lux spiritualis: Ipse est Altare incensi, quia est odor suavitatis

in sanctificationem: Ipse est Altare holocausti, quia est hostia

pro totius mundi vita in cruce oblata. "Although Christ be but

one, yet he is understood by us under a variety of forms. He is

the Tabernacle, on account of the human body in which he dwelt. He

is the Table, because he is our Bread of life. He is the Ark

which has the law of God enclosed within, because he is the Word

of the Father. He is the Candlestick, because he is our spiritual

light. He is the Altar of incense, because he is the

sweet-smelling odour of sanctification. He is the Altar of

burnt-offering, because he is the victim, by death on the cross,

for the sins of the whole world." This father has said, in a few

words, what others have employed whole volumes on, by refining,

spiritualizing, and allegorizing.

Verse 6. When these thing were thus ordained] When the

tabernacle was made, and its furniture placed in it, according to

the Divine direction.

The priests went always into the first Tabernacle] That is,

into the first part of the tabernacle, or holy place, into which

he went every day twice, accomplishing the services, ταςλατρειας

επιτελουντες, which included his burning the incense at the

morning and evening sacrifice, dressing the lamps, removing the

old show-bread and laying on the new, and sprinkling the blood of

the sin-offerings before the veil Le 4:6: and for these works he

must have constant access to the place.

Verse 7. But into the second] That is, the holy of holies, or

second part of the tabernacle, the high priest alone, once every

year, that is, on one day in the year only, which was the day on

which the general atonement was made. The high priest could enter

into this place only on one day in the year; but on that day he

might enter several times. See Lev. 16.

Not without blood] The day prescribed by the law for this great

solemnity was the tenth of the month Tisri, in which the high

priest brought in the incense or perfumes, which he placed on the

golden censer; he brought also the blood of the bullock; and

sprinkled some portion of it seven times before the ark, and the

veil which separated the holy place from the holy of holies. See

Le 16:14. He then came out, and, taking some of the blood of the

goat which had been sacrificed, he sprinkled it between the veil

and the ark of the covenant, Le 16:15.

Which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people]

υπερτωντουλαουαγνοηματων. For transgressions of which they

were not conscious: there were so many niceties in the ritual

worship of the Jews, and so many ways in which they might offend

against the law and incur guilt, that it was found necessary to

institute sacrifices to atone for these sins of ignorance. And as

the high priest was also clothed with infirmity, he required to

have an interest in the same sacrifice, on the same account. This

was a national sacrifice; and by it the people understood that

they were absolved from all the errors of the past year, and that

they now had a renewed right of access to the mercy-seat.

Verse 8. The Holy Ghost this signifying] These services were

divinely appointed, and by each of them the Holy Spirit of God is

supposed to speak.

The way into the holiest] That full access to God was not the

common privilege of the people, while the Mosaic economy

subsisted. That the apostle means that it is only by Christ that

any man and every man can approach God, is evident from

Heb 10:19-22, and it is about this, and not about the tabernacle

of this world, that he is here discoursing.

I have already observed that the apostle appears to use the word

σκηνη, or tabernacle, in the general sense of a dwelling place;

and therefore applies it to the temple, which was reputed the

house or dwelling place of God, as well as the ancient tabernacle.

Therefore, what he speaks here concerning the first tabernacle,

may be understood as applying with propriety to the then Jewish

temple, as well as to the ancient tabernacle, which, even with all

their sacrifices and ceremonies, could not make the way of

holiness plain, nor the way to God's favour possible.

Verse 9. Which] Tabernacle and its services, was a figure,

παραβολη, a dark enigmatical representation, for the time then

present-for that age and dispensation, and for all those who lived

under it.

In which, καθον, during which, time or dispensation were

offered both gifts and sacrifices-eucharistic offerings and

victims for sin, that could not make him that did the service,

whether the priest who made the offering, or the person who

brought it in the behalf of his soul, perfect as pertaining to the

conscience-could not take away guilt from the mind, nor purify the

conscience from dead works. The whole was a figure, or dark

representation, of a spiritual and more glorious system: and

although a sinner, who made these offerings and sacrifices

according to the law, might be considered as having done his duty,

and thus he would be exempted from many ecclesiastical and legal

disabilities and punishments; yet his conscience would ever tell

him that the guilt of sin was still remaining, and that it was

impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take it away. Thus

even he that did the service best continued to be imperfect-had a

guilty conscience, and an unholy heart.

The words καθον, in which, referred in the above paraphrase to

τονκαιρον, the time, are read καθην by ABD, and several

others, one copy of the Slavonic, the Vulgate, and some of the

fathers, and thus refer to τηνσκηνην, the tabernacle; and this

is the reading which our translators appear to have followed.

Griesbach places it in his margin, as a very probable reading; but

I prefer the other.

Verse 10. In meats and drinks, and divers washings] He had

already mentioned eucharistic and sacrificial offerings, and

nothing properly remained but the different kinds of clean and

unclean animals which were used, or forbidden to be used, as

articles of food; together with the different kinds or drinks,

washings, βαπτισμοις, baptisms, immersions, sprinklings and

washings of the body and the clothes, and carnal ordinances, or

things which had respect merely to the body, and could have no

moral influence upon the soul, unless considered in reference to

that of which they were the similitudes, or figures.

Carnal ordinances] δικαιωματασαρκος. Rites and ceremonies

pertaining merely to the body. The word carnal is not used here,

nor scarcely in any part of the New Testament, in that

catachrestical or degrading sense in which many preachers and

professors of Christianity take the liberty to use it.

Imposed on them until the time of reformation.] These rites and

ceremonies were enacted, by Divine authority, as proper

representations of the Gospel system, which should reform and

rectify all things.

The time of reformation, καιροςδιορθωσεως, the time of

rectifying, signifies the Gospel dispensation, under which every

thing is set straight; every thing referred to its proper purpose

and end; the ceremonial law fulfilled and abrogated; the moral law

exhibited and more strictly enjoined; (see our Lord's sermon upon

the mount;) and the spiritual nature of God's worship taught, and

grace promised to purify the heart: so that, through the power of

the eternal Spirit, all that was wrong in the soul is rectified;

the affections, passions, and appetites purified; the understanding

enlightened; the judgment corrected; the will refined; in a word,

all things made new.

Verse 11. But Christ being come a high priest of good things]

I think this and the succeeding verses not happily translated:

indeed, the division of them has led to a wrong translation;

therefore they must be taken together, thus: But the Christ, the

high priest of those good things (or services) which were to come,

through a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with

hands, that is, not of the same workmanship, entered once for all

into the sanctuary; having obtained eternal redemption for us, not

by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, Heb 9:13.

For if the blood of GOATS, and bulls, and calves, and a heifer's

ashes, sprinkled on the unclean, sanctifieth to the cleansing of

the flesh, (Heb 9:14,)

how much more shall the blood of Christ, who, through the eternal

Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, cleanse your

consciences from dead works, in order to worship

(or that ye may worship) the living God?

In the above translation I have added, in Heb 9:13,

τραγων, of goats, on the authority of ABDE, three others, the

Syriac, the Arabic of Erpen, Coptic, Vulgate, two copies of the

Itala, and Theodoret. And I have rendered ειςτολατρευειν,

(Heb 9:14,)

IN ORDER to worship, or THAT YE MAY worship; for this is the

meaning of these particles ειςτο in many parts of the New

Testament. I shall now make a few observations on some of the

principal expressions.

High priest of good things] Or services, to come, τωνμελλοντων

αγαθων. He is the High Priest of Christianity; he officiates in

the behalf of all mankind; for by him are all the prayers,

praises, and services of mankind offered to God; and he ever

appears in the presence of God for us.

A greater and more perfect tabernacle] This appears to mean our

Lord's human nature. That, in which dwelt all the fulness of the

Godhead bodily, was fitly typified by the tabernacle and temple,

in both of which the majesty of God dwelt.

Not made with hands] Though our Lord's body was a perfect human

body, yet it did not come in the way of natural generation; his

miraculous conception will sufficiently justify the expressions

used here by the apostle.

Verse 12. But by his own blood] Here the redemption of man is

attributed to the blood of Christ; and this blood is stated to be

shed in a sacrificial way, precisely as the blood of bulls, goats

and calves was shed under the law.

Once] Once for all, εφαπαξ, in opposition to the annual

entering of the high priest into the holiest, with the blood of

the annual victim.

The holy place] Or sanctuary, τααγια, signifies heaven,

into which Jesus entered with his own blood, as the high priest

entered into the holy of holies with the blood of the victims

which he had sacrificed.

Eternal redemption] αιωνιανλυτρωσιν. A redemption price which

should stand good for ever, when once offered; and an endless

redemption from sin, in reference to the pardon of which, and

reconciliation to God, there needs no other sacrifice: it is

eternal in its merit and efficacy.

Verse 13. Sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh] Answers

the end proposed by the law; namely, to remove legal disabilities

and punishments, having the body and its interests particularly in

view, though adumbrating or typifying the soul and its concerns.

Verse 14. Who through the eternal Spirit] This expression is

understood two ways: 1. Of the Holy Ghost himself. As Christ's

miraculous conception was by the Holy Spirit, and he wrought all

his miracles by the Spirit of God, so his death or final offering

was made through or by the eternal Spirit; and by that Spirit he

was raised from the dead, 1Pe 3:18. Indeed, through the whole of

his life be was justified by the Spirit; and we find that in this

great work of human redemption, the Father, the Son, and the Holy

Spirit were continually employed: therefore the words may be

understood of the Holy Spirit properly. 2. Of the eternal Logos

or Deity which dwelt in the man Christ Jesus, through the energy

of which the offering of his humanity became an infinitely

meritorious victim; therefore the Deity of Christ is here

intended. But we cannot well consider one of these distinct from

the other; and hence probably arose the various readings in the

MSS. and versions on this article. Instead of διαπνευματος

αιωνιου, by the ETERNAL Spirit, διαπνευματοςαγιου, by

the HOLY Spirit, is the reading of D*, and more than twenty others

of good note, besides the Coptic, Slavonic, Vulgate, two copies of

the Itala, Cyril, Athanasius sometimes, Damascenus, Chrysostom,

and some others. But the common reading is supported by ABD**,

and others, besides the Syriac, all the Arabic, Armenian,

AEthiopic, Athanasius generally, Theodoret, Theophylact, and

Ambrosius. This, therefore, is the reading that should he

preferred, as it is probable that the Holy Ghost, not the Logos,

is what the apostle had more immediately in view. But still we

must say, that the Holy Spirit, with the eternal Logos, and the

almighty Father, equally concurred in offering up the sacrifice of

the human nature of Christ, in order to make atonement for the sin

of the world.

Purge your conscience] καθαριειτηνσυνειδησιν. Purify your

conscience. The term purify should be everywhere, both in the

translation of the Scriptures, and in preaching the Gospel,

preferred to the word purge, which, at present, is scarcely ever

used in the sense in which our translators have employed it.

Dead works] Sin in general, or acts to which the penalty of

death is annexed by the law.

See the phrase explained, "Heb 6:1".

Verse 15. And for this cause] Some translate διατουτο, on

account of this (blood.) Perhaps it means no more than a mere

inference, such as therefore, or wherefore.

He is the Mediator of the new testament] There was no proper

reason why our translators should render διαθηκη by testament

here, when in almost every other case they render it covenant,

which is its proper ecclesiastical meaning, as answering to the

Hebrew berith, which see largely explained, Ge 15:10, and in

other places of the Pentateuch.

Very few persons are satisfied with the translation of the

following verses to the 20th, particularly the 16th and 17th;

at all events the word covenant must be retained. He-Jesus

Christ, is Mediator; the μεσιτης, or mediator, was the person who

witnessed the contract made between the two contracting parties,

slew the victim, and sprinkled each with its blood.

Of the new testament] The new contract betwixt God and the

whole human race, by Christ Jesus the Mediator, distinguished here

from the old covenant between God and the Israelites, in which

Moses was the mediator.

That by means of death] His own death upon the cross.

For the redemption of the transgressions] To make atonement for

the transgressions which were committed under the old covenant,

which the blood of bulls and calves could not do; so the death of

Jesus had respect to all the time antecedent to it, as well as to

all the time afterward till the conclusion of the world.

They which are called] The GENTILES, might receive the

promise-might, by being brought into a covenant with God, have an

equal right with the Jews, not merely to an inheritance such as

the promised land, but to an eternal inheritance, and consequently

infinitely superior to that of the Jews, inasmuch as the new

covenant is superior in every point of view to the old.

How frequently the Gentiles are termed οικλητοι and οι

κεκλημενοι, the called, all St. Paul's writings show. And they

were thus termed because they were called and elected in the place

of the Jews, the ancient called and elect, who were now divorced

and reprobated because of their disobedience.

Verse 16. For where a testament is] 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."

He observes, "There is no word signifying testator, or men, in

the original. διαθεμενος is not a substantive, but a participle,

or a participial adjective, derived from the same root as διατηκη,

and must have a substantive understood. I therefore render it the

disposed or appointed victim, alluding to the manner of disposing

or setting apart the pieces of the victim, when they were going to

ratify a covenant; and you know well the old custom of ratifying a

covenant, to which the apostle alludes. I refer to your own notes

on Ge 6:18, and Ge 15:10.-J. C."

Mr. Wakefield has 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." This is

undoubtedly the meaning of this passage; and we should endeavour

to forget that testament and testator were ever introduced, as

they totally change the apostle's meaning. See the observations

at the end of this chapter.

Verse 18. Whereupon] οθεν. Wherefore, as a victim was

required for the ratification of every covenant, the first

covenant made between God and the Hebrews, by the mediation of

Moses, was not dedicated, εγκεκαινισται, renewed or solemnized,

without blood-without the death of a victim, and the aspersion of

its blood.

Verse 19. When Moses had spoken every precept] The place to

which the apostle alludes is Ex 24:4-8, where the reader is

requested to consult the notes.

And sprinkled both the book] The sprinkling of the book is not

mentioned in the place to which the apostle refers, (see above,)

nor did it in fact take place. The words αυτοτετοβιβλιον, and

the book itself, should be referred to λαβων, having taken, and

not to ερραντισε, he sprinkled; the verse should therefore be read

thus: For after every commandment of the law had been recited by

Moses to all the people, he took the blood of the calves, and of

the goats, with water and scarlet wool, and the book itself, and

sprinkled all the people. The rite was performed thus: Having

received the blood of the calves and goats into basins, and

mingled it with water to prevent it from coagulating, he then took

a bunch of hyssop, and having bound it together with thread made

of scarlet wool, he dipped this in the basin, and sprinkled the

blood and water upon the people who were nearest to him, and who

might be considered on this occasion the representatives of all

the rest; for it is impossible that he should have had blood

enough to have sprinkled the whole of the congregation.

Some think that the blood was actually sprinkled upon the book

itself, which contained the written covenant, to signify that the

covenant itself was ratified by the blood.

Verse 20. This is the blood of the testament] (covenant.)

Our Lord refers to the conduct of Moses here, and partly quotes

his words in the institution of the eucharist: This is my blood of

the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of

sins, Mt 26:28. And by thus using the words and applying

them, he shows that his sacrificial blood was intended by the

blood shed and sprinkled on this occasion, and that by it alone

the remission of sins is obtained.

Verse 21. He sprinkled-with blood-all the vessels of the

ministry.] To intimate that every thing used by sinful man is

polluted, and that nothing can be acceptable in the sight of a

holy God that has not in effect the sprinkling of the atoning


Verse 22. And almost all things are-purged with blood] The

apostle says almost, because in some cases certain vessels were

purified by water, some by fire, Nu 31:23, and some with the

ashes of the red heifer, Nu 19:2-10, but it was always

understood that every thing was at first consecrated by the blood

of the victim.

And without shedding of blood is no remission.] The apostle

shows fully here what is one of his great objects in the whole of

this epistle, viz. that there is no salvation but through the

sacrificial death of Christ, and to prefigure this the law itself

would not grant any remission of sin without the blood of a

victim. This is a maxim even among the Jews themselves,

ein capparah ella bedam, "There is no expiation but by

blood." Yoma, fol. 5, 1; Menachoth, fol. 93, 2. Every sinner has

forfeited his life by his transgressions, and the law of God

requires his death; the blood of the victim, which is its life, is

shed as a substitute for the life of the sinner. By these victims

the sacrifice of Christ was typified. He gave his life for the

life of the world; human life for human life, but a life

infinitely dignified by its union with God.

Verse 23. The patterns of things in the heavens] That is: The

tabernacle and all its utensils, services, &c., must be purified

by these, viz.: The blood of calves and goats, and the sprinkling

of the blood and water with the bunch of hyssop bound about with

scarlet wool. These are called patterns, υποδειγματα,

exemplars, earthly things, which were the representatives of

heavenly things. And there is no doubt that every thing in the

tabernacle, its parts, divisions, utensils, ministry, &c., as

appointed by God, were representations of celestial matters; but

how far and in what way we cannot now see.

Purification implies, not only cleansing from defilement, but

also dedication or consecration. All the utensils employed in the

tabernacle service were thus purified though incapable of any moral


But the heavenly things themselves] Some think this means

heaven itself, which, by receiving the sacrificed body of Christ,

which appears in the presence of God for us, may be said to be

purified, i.e., set apart for the reception of the souls of those

who have found redemption in his blood. 2. Others think the body

of Christ is intended, which is the tabernacle in which his

Divinity dwelt; and that this might be said to be purified by its

own sacrifice, as he is said, Joh 17:19,

to sanctify himself; that is, to consecrate himself unto God as a

sin-offering for the redemption of man. 3. Others suppose the

Church is intended, which he is to present to the Father without

spot or wrinkle or any such thing. 4. As the entrance to the

holy of holies must be made by the sprinkling of the blood of the

sacrifice, and as that holy of holies represented heaven, the

apostle's meaning seems to be that there was and could be no

entrance to the holiest but through his blood; and therefore, when

by a more perfect tabernacle, Heb 9:11, 12, he passed into the

heavens, not with the blood of bulls and goats, but by his own

blood, he thus purified or laid open the entrance to the holiest,

by a more valuable sacrifice than those required to open the

entrance of the holy of holies. It was necessary, therefore, for

God had appointed it so, that the tabernacle and its parts, &c.,

which were patterns of things in the heavens, should be

consecrated and entered with such sacrifices as have already been

mentioned; but the heaven of heavens into which Jesus entered, and

whither he will bring all his faithful followers, must be

propitiated, consecrated, and entered, by the infinitely better

sacrifice of his own body and blood. That this is the meaning

appears from the following verse.

Verse 24. Christ is not entered into the holy places made with

hands] He is not gone into the holy of holies of the tabernacle

or temple, as the Jewish high priest does once in the year with

the blood of the victim, to sprinkle it before the mercy-seat

there; but into heaven itself, which he has thus opened to all

believers, having made the propitiatory offering by which both he

and those whom he represents are entitled to enter and enjoy

eternal blessedness. And hence we may consider that Christ,

appearing in his crucified body before the throne, is a real

offering of himself to the Divine justice in behalf of man; and

that there he continues in the constant act of being offered, so

that every penitent and believer, coming unto God through him,

find him their ever ready and available sacrifice, officiating as

the High Priest of mankind in the presence of God.

Verse 25. Nor yet that he should offer himself often] The

sacrifice of Christ is not like that of the Jewish high priest;

his must be offered every year, Christ has offered himself once

for all: and this sacrificial act has ever the same efficacy, his

crucified body being still a powerful and infinitely meritorious

sacrifice before the throne.

Verse 26. For then must he often have suffered] In the counsel

of God, Christ was considered the Lamb slain from the foundation of

the world, Re 13:8,

so that all believers before his advent were equally interested in

his sacrificial death with those who have lived since his coming.

Humanly speaking, the virtue of the annual atonement could not

last long, and must be repeated; Christ's sacrifice is ever the

same; his life's blood is still considered as in the act of being

continually poured out. See Re 5:6.

The end of the world] The conclusion of the Jewish

dispensation, the Christian dispensation being that which shall

continue till the end of time.

To put away sin] ειςαθετησιναμαρτιας. To abolish the

sin-offerings; i.e. to put an end to the Mosaic economy by his

one offering of himself. It is certain that, after Christ had

offered himself, the typical sin-offerings of the law ceased; and

this was expressly foretold by the Prophet Daniel, Da 9:24. Some

think that the expression should be applied to the putting away

the guilt, power, and being of sin from the souls of believers.

Verse 27. As it is appointed] αποκειται. It is laid before

them by the Divine decree: Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt

return. Unto men generally, during the course of the present

world, not all men as some falsely quote; for Enoch and Elijah

have not died, and those that shall be alive at the day of

judgment shall not die, but be changed.

But after this the judgment] They shall die but once, and be

judged but once, therefore there is no metempsychosis, no

transmigration from body to body; judgment succeeds to dying; and

as they shall be judged but once, they can die but once.

Verse 28. So Christ was once offered] He shall die no more; he

has borne away the sins of many, and what he has done once shall

stand good for ever. Yet he will appear a second time without

sin, χωριςαμαρτιας, without a sin-offering; THAT he has already


Unto salvation.] To deliver the bodies of believers from the

empire of death, to reunite them to their purified souls, and

bring both into his eternal glory. This is salvation, and the

very highest of which the human being is capable. Amen! Even so,

come Lord Jesus! Hallelujah!

1. IN the preceding notes I have given my reasons for dissenting

from our translation of the 15th, 16th, and 17th verses. Many

learned men are of the same opinion; but I have not met with one

who appears to have treated the whole in a more satisfactory

manner than Dr. Macknight, and for the edification of my readers I

shall here subjoin the substance of what he has written on this


"Verse 15. Mediator of the new covenant. See Heb 8:7. The

word διαθηκη, here translated covenant, answers to the Hebrew word

berith, which all the translators of the Jewish Scriptures have

understood to signify a covenant. The same signification our

translators have affixed to the word διαθηκη, as often as it

occurs in the writings of the evangelists and apostles, except in

the history of the institution of the supper, and in 2Co 3:6: and

Heb 7:22, and in the passage under consideration; in which

places, copying the Vulgate version, they have rendered διαθηκη by

the word testament. Beza, following the Syriac Version,

translates διαθηκη everywhere by the words foedas, pactum, except

in the 16th, 17th, and 20th verses of this chapter, where

likewise following the Syriac version, he has testamentum. Now if

καινηδιαθηκη, the new testament, in the passages above

mentioned, means the Gospel covenant, as all interpreters

acknowledge, παλαιαδιαθηκη, the old testament, 2Co 3:14, and

πρωτηδιαθηκη, the first testament, Heb 9:15, must certainly be

the Sinaitic covenant or law of Moses, as is evident also from

Heb 9:20. On this supposition it may be asked, 1. In what sense

the Sinaitic covenant or law of Moses, which required perfect

obedience to all its precepts under penalty of death, and allowed

no mercy to any sinner, however penitent, can be called a

testament, which is a deed conferring something valuable on a

person who may accept or refuse it, as he thinks fit? Besides,

the transaction at Sinai, in which God promised to continue the

Israelites in Canaan, on condition they refrained from the wicked

practices of the Canaanites, and observed his statutes, Lev. 18,

can in no sense be called a testament. 2. If the law of Moses be

a testament, and if, to render that testament valid, the death of

the testator be necessary, as the English translators have taught

us, Heb 9:16, I ask who it was that made the testament of the

law? Was it God or Moses? And did either of them die to render

it valid? 3. I observe that even the Gospel covenant is

improperly called a testament, because, notwithstanding all its

blessings were procured by the death of Christ, and are most

freely bestowed, it lost any validity which, as a testament, it is

thought to have received by the death of Christ, when he revived

again on the third day. 4. The things affirmed in the common

translation of Heb 9:15,

concerning the new testament, namely, that it has a Mediator; that

that Mediator is the Testator himself; that there were

transgressions of a former testament, for the redemption of which

the Mediator of the new testament died; and, Heb 9:19, that the

first testament was made by sprinkling the people in whose favour

it was made with blood; are all things quite foreign to a

testament. For was it ever known in any nation that a testament

needed a mediator? Or that the testator was the mediator of his

own testament? Or that it was necessary the testator of a new

testament should die to redeem the transgressions of a former

testament? Or that any testament was ever made by sprinkling the

legatees with blood? These things however were usual in

covenants. They had mediators who assisted at the making of them,

and were sureties for the performance of them. They were commonly

ratified by sacrifices, the blood of which was sprinkled on the

parties; withal, if any former covenant was infringed by the

parties, satisfaction was given at the making of a second

covenant. 5. By calling Christ the Mediator of the new testament

our thoughts are turned away entirely from the view which the

Scriptures give us of his death as a sacrifice for sin; whereas,

if he is called the Mediator of the new covenant, which is the

true translation of διαθηκηςκαινηςμεσιτης, that appellation

directly suggests to us that the new covenant was procured and

ratified by his death as a sacrifice for sin. Accordingly Jesus,

on account of his being made a priest by the oath of God, is said

to be the Priest or Mediator of a better covenant than that of

which the Levitical priests were the mediators. I acknowledge

that in classical Greek διαθηκη, commonly signifies a testament.

Yet, since the Seventy have uniformly translated the Hebrew word

berith, which properly signifies a covenant, by the word διαθηκη,

in writing Greek the Jews naturally used διαθηκη for σονθηκη as

our translators have acknowledged by their version of Heb 10:16.

To conclude: Seeing in the verses under consideration διαθηκη may

be translated a covenant; and seeing, when so translated, these

verses make a better sense, and agree better with the scope of the

apostle's reasoning than if it were translated a testament; we can

be at no loss to know which translation of διαθηκη in these verses

ought to be preferred. Nevertheless, the absurdity of a

phraseology to which readers have been long accustomed, without

attending distinctly to its meaning, does not soon appear.

"He is the Mediator. Here it is remarkable that Jesus is not

called διαθεμενος, the Testator, but μεσιτης, the Mediator,

of the new covenant; first, because he procured the new covenant

for mankind, in which the pardon of sin is promised; for, as the

apostle tells us, his death, as a sacrifice for sin, is the

consideration on account of which the pardon of the transgressions

of the first covenant is granted. Secondly, because the new

covenant having been ratified as well as procured by the death of

Christ, he is fitly called the Mediator of that covenant in the

same sense that God's oath is called, Heb 6:17,

the mediator, or confirmor, of his promise. Thirdly, Jesus, who

died to procure the new covenant, being appointed by God the high

priest thereof, to dispense his blessings, he is on that account

also called, Heb 8:6,

the mediator of that better covenant.

"Verse 16. For where a covenant [is made by sacrifice,] there

is a necessity that the death of the appointed sacrifice be

produced. This elliptical expression must be completed, if, as is

probable, the apostle had now in his eye the covenant which God

made with Noah and Abraham. His covenant is recorded, Ge 8:20,

where we are told, that on coming out of the ark Noah offered a

burnt-offering of every clean beast and fowl. And the Lord

smelled a sweet savour. And the Lord said in his heart, I will

not again curse the ground, neither will I again smite any more

every living thing as I have done. This promise or declaration

God called his covenant with men, and with every living creature.

Ge 9:9, 10. In like manner God made a covenant with Abraham by

sacrifice, Ge 15:9, 18, and with the Israelites at Sinai,

Ex 24:8. See also Ps 50:5. By making his covenants with men

in this manner, God taught them that his intercourses with them

were all founded on an expiation afterwards to be made for their

sins by the sacrifice of the seed of the woman, the bruising of

whose heel, or death, was foretold at the fall. On the authority

of these examples, the practice of making covenants by sacrifice

prevailed among the Jews; Jer 34:18; Zec 9:11; and even among

the heathens; for they had the knowledge of these examples by

tradition. Stabant et caesa jungebant foedera porca; Virgil,

AEneid, viii. 611. Hence the phrases, foedus ferire and

percutere, to strike or kill the covenant.

"There is a necessity that the death τουδιαθεμενου, of the

appointed. Here we may supply either the word θυματος, sacrifice,

or ζωου, animal, which might be either a calf, a goat, a bull, or

any other animal which the parties making the covenant chose.

διαθεμενου is the participle of the second aorist of the middle

voice of the verb διατιθημι, constituo, I appoint. Wherefore its

primary and literal signification is, of the appointed. Our

translators have given the word this sense, Lu 22:29; καγω

διατιθεμαιυμινκαθωςδιετιθετομοιοπατηρμουβασιλειαν. And

I appoint to you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed to me a


"Be brought in; θανατοναναγκηφερεσθαιτουδιαθεμενου, Elsner,

vol. ii., p. 381, has shown that the word φερεσθαι is sometimes

used in a forensic sense for what is produced, or proved, or made

apparent in a court of judicature. Wherefore the apostle's

meaning is, that it is necessary the death of the appointed

sacrifice be brought in, or produced, at the making of the

covenant. In the margin of our Bibles this clause is rightly

translated, be brought in. See Ac 25:7, where φεροντες is used

in the forensic sense.

"Verse 17. A covenant is firm over dead sacrifices; επινεκοις.

νεκροις being an adjective, it must have a substantive agreeing

with it, either expressed or understood. The substantive

understood in this place, I think, is θυμασι, sacrifices; for

which reason I have supplied it in the translation. Perhaps the

word ζωοις, animals, may be equally proper; especially as, in the

following clause, διαθεμενος is in the gender of the animals

appointed for the sacrifice. Our translators have supplied the

word ανθρωποις, men, and have translated επινεκροις, after men

are dead, contrary to the propriety of the phrase.

"It never hath force whilst the appointed liveth; οτεζηο

διαθεμενος. Supply μοσχος, or τραγος, or ταυρος. whilst

the calf, or goat, or bull, appointed for the sacrifice of

ratification, liveth. The apostle having, in Heb 9:15, showed

that Christ's death was necessary as ομεσιτης, 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.

"The faultiness of the common translation of the 15th, 16th,

17th, 18th, and 20th verses of this chapter having been

already shown in the notes, nothing needs be added here, except to

call the reader's attention to the propriety and strength of the

apostle's reasoning, as it appears in the translation of these

verses which I have given, compared with his reasoning as

represented in the common version."

2. It is supposed that in Heb 9:28, the apostle, in speaking

about Christ's bearing the sins of many, alludes to the ceremony

of the scape goat. This mysterious sacrifice was to be presented

to God, Le 16:7, and the sins of the people were to be confessed

over the head of it, Le 16:21, and after this the goat was

dismissed into a land uninhabited, laden, as the institution

implied, with the sins of the people; and this the word

ανενεγκειν, to bear or carry away, seems to imply. So truly as

the goat did metaphorically bear away the sins of the many, so

truly did Christ literally bear the punishment due to our sins;

and in reference to every believer, has so borne them away that

they shall never more rise in judgment against him.

3. In Christ's coming, or appearing the second time, it is very

probable, as Dr. Doddridge and others have conjectured, that

there is an allusion to the return of the high priest from the

inner tabernacle; for, after appearing there in the presence of

God, and making atonement for the people in the plain dress of an

ordinary priest, Le 16:23, 24, he came out arrayed in his

magnificent robes, to bless the people, who waited for him in the

court of the tabernacle of the congregation. "But there will be

this difference," says Dr. Macknight, "between the return of

Christ to bless his people, and the return of the high priest to

bless the congregation. The latter, after coming out of the most

holy place, made a new atonement in his pontifical robes for

himself and for the people, Le 16:24, which showed that the

former atonement was not real but typical. Whereas Jesus, after

having made atonement, [and presented himself in heaven, before

God,] will not return to the earth for the purpose of making

himself a sacrifice the second time; but having procured an

eternal redemption for us, by the sacrifice of himself once

offered, he will return for the purpose of declaring to them who

wait for him that they are accepted, and of bestowing on them the

great blessing of eternal life. This reward he, being surrounded

with the glory of the Father, Mt 16:27, will give them in the

presence of an assembled universe, both as their King and their

Priest. This is the great salvation which Christ came to preach,

and which was confirmed to the world by them who heard him:

Heb 2:3." Reader, lay this sincerely to heart!

4. The form in which the high priest and the ordinary priests

were to bless the people, after burning the incense in the

tabernacle, is prescribed, Nu 6:23-26. Literally translated from

the Hebrew it is as follows, and consists of three parts or


1. May Jehovah bless thee, and preserve thee!

2. May Jehovah cause his face to shine upon thee, and be

gracious unto thee!

3. May Jehovah lift up his faces upon thee, and may he put

prosperity unto thee! (See my notes on the place.)

We may therefore say that Christ, our High Priest, came to bless

each of us, by turning us away from our iniquity. And let no one

ever expect to see him at his second coming with joy, unless he

have, in this life, been turned away from his iniquity, and

obtained remission of all his sins, and that holiness without

which none can see God. Reader, the time of his reappearing is,

to thee, at hand! Prepare to meet thy God!

On the word conscience, which occurs so often in this chapter,

and in other parts of this epistle, see the observations at the

end of "Heb 13:25".

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