Hebrews 9

The Arrangement and Ritual of the Earthly Sanctuary

Now the first covenant,
Grk “the first” (referring to the covenant described in Heb 8:7, 13). In the translation the referent (covenant) has been specified for clarity.
in fact, had regulations for worship and its earthly sanctuary.
For a tent was prepared, the outer one,
Grk “the first,” in order of approach in the ritual.
which contained
Grk “in which [were].”
the lampstand, the table, and the presentation of the loaves; this
Grk “which,” describing the outer tent.
is called the holy place.
And after the second curtain there was a tent called the holy of holies. It contained the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered entirely with gold. In this ark
Grk “in which”; in the translation the referent (the ark) has been specified for clarity.
were the golden urn containing the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.
And above the ark
Grk “above it”; in the translation the referent (the ark) has been specified for clarity.
were the cherubim
The cherubim (pl.) were an order of angels mentioned repeatedly in the OT but only here in the NT. They were associated with God’s presence, glory, and holiness. Their images that sat on top of the ark of the covenant are described in Exod 25:18–20.
of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Now is not the time to speak of these things in detail.
So with these things prepared like this, the priests enter continually into the outer tent
Grk “the first tent.”
as they perform their duties.
But only the high priest enters once a year into the inner tent,
Grk “the second tent.”
and not without blood that he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance.
Or perhaps “the unintentional sins of the people”; Grk “the ignorances of the people.” Cf. BDAG 13 s.v. ἀγνόημα, “sin committed in ignorance/unintentionally.” This term seems to be simply a synonym for “sins” (cf. Heb 5:2) and does not pick up the distinction made in Num 15:22–31 between unwitting sin and “high-handed” sin. The Day of Atonement ritual in Lev 16 covered all the sins of the people, not just the unwitting ones.
The Holy Spirit is making clear that the way into the holy place had not yet appeared as long as the old tabernacle
Grk “the first tent.” The literal phrase “the first tent” refers to either (1) the outer chamber of the tabernacle in the wilderness (as in vv. 2, 6) or (2) the entire tabernacle as a symbol of the OT system of approaching God. The second is more likely given the contrast that follows in vv. 11–12.
was standing.
This was a symbol for the time then present, when gifts and sacrifices were offered that could not perfect the conscience of the worshiper. 10 They served only for matters of food and drink
Grk “only for foods and drinks.”
and various washings; they are external regulations
Most witnesses (D1 Maj.) have “various washings, and external regulations” (βαπτισμοῖς καὶ δικαιώμασιν, baptismois kai dikaiōmasin), with both nouns in the dative. The translation “washings; they are… regulations” renders βαπτισμοῖς, δικαιώματα (baptismois, dikaiōmata; found in such important mss as Ƥ46 א* A I P 0278 33 1739 1881 al sa) in which case δικαιώματα is taken as the nominative subject of the participle ἐπικείμενα (epikeimena). It seems far more likely that scribes would conform δικαιώματα to the immediately preceding datives and join it to them by καί than they would to the following nominative participle. Both on external and internal evidence the text is thus secure as reading βαπτισμοῖς, δικαιώματα.
imposed until the new order came.
Grk “until the time of setting things right.”

Christ’s Service in the Heavenly Sanctuary

11  But now Christ has come
Grk “But Christ, when he came,” introducing a sentence that includes all of Heb 9:11–12. The main construction is “Christ, having come…, entered…, having secured…,” and everything else describes his entrance.
as the high priest of the good things to come. He passed through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation,
12 and he entered once for all into the most holy place not by the blood of goats and calves but by his own blood, and so he himself secured
This verb occurs in the Greek middle voice, which here intensifies the role of the subject, Christ, in accomplishing the action: “he alone secured”; “he and no other secured.”
eternal redemption.
13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow sprinkled on those who are defiled consecrated them and provided ritual purity,
Grk “for the purifying of the flesh.” The “flesh” here is symbolic of outward or ritual purity in contrast to inner purity, that of the conscience (cf. Heb 9:9).
14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our
The reading adopted by the translation is attested by many authorities (A D* K P 365 1739* al). But many others (א D2 0278 33 1739c 1881 Maj. lat sa) read “your” instead of “our.” The diversity of evidence makes this a difficult case to decide from external evidence alone. The first and second person pronouns differ by only one letter in Greek, as in English, also making this problem difficult to decide based on internal evidence and transcriptional probability. In the context, the author’s description of sacrificial activities seems to invite the reader to compare his own possible participation in OT liturgy as over against the completed work of Christ, so the second person pronoun “your” might make more sense. On the other hand, TCGNT 599 argues that “our” is preferable because the author of Hebrews uses direct address (i.e., the second person) only in the hortatory sections. What is more, the author seems to prefer the first person in explanatory remarks or when giving the logical grounds for an assertion (cf. Heb 4:15; 7:14). It is hard to reach a definitive conclusion in this case, but the data lean slightly in favor of the first person pronoun.
consciences from dead works to worship the living God.

15  And so he is the mediator
The Greek word μεσίτης (mesitēs, “mediator”) in this context does not imply that Jesus was a mediator in the contemporary sense of the word, i.e., he worked for compromise between opposing parties. Here the term describes his function as the one who was used by God to enact a new covenant which established a new relationship between God and his people, but entirely on God’s terms.
of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the eternal inheritance he has promised,
Grk “the promise of the eternal inheritance.”
since he died
Grk “a death having occurred.”
to set them free from the violations committed under the first covenant.
16 For where there is a will, the death of the one who made it must be proven.
Grk “there is a necessity for the death of the one who made it to be proven.”
17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it carries no force while the one who made it is alive. 18 So even the first covenant was inaugurated with blood.
The Greek text reinforces this by negating the opposite (“not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood”), but this double negation is not used in contemporary English.
19 For when Moses had spoken every command to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats with water and scarlet wool and hyssop and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 and said, “ This is the blood of the covenant that God has commanded you to keep .”
Grk “which God commanded for you (or in your case).”
A quotation from Exod 24:8.
21 And both the tabernacle and all the utensils of worship he likewise sprinkled with blood. 22 Indeed according to the law almost everything was purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. 23 So it was necessary for the sketches
Or “prototypes,” “outlines,” referring to the earthly sanctuary. See Heb 8:5 above for the prior use of this term.
of the things in heaven to be purified with these sacrifices,
Grk “with these”; in the translation the referent (sacrifices) has been specified for clarity.
but the heavenly things themselves required
Grk “the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.”
better sacrifices than these.
24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with hands – the representation
Or “prefiguration.”
of the true sanctuary
The word “sanctuary” is not in the Greek text at this point, but has been supplied for clarity.
– but into heaven itself, and he appears now in God’s presence for us.
25 And he did not enter to offer
Grk “and not that he might offer,” continuing the previous construction.
himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the sanctuary year after year with blood that is not his own,
26 for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the consummation of the ages to put away sin by his sacrifice. 27 And just as people
Here ἀνθρώποις (anthrōpois) has been translated as a generic noun (“people”).
are appointed to die once, and then to face judgment,
Grk “and after this - judgment.”
28 so also, after Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many,
An allusion to Isa 53:12.
to those who eagerly await him he will appear a second time, not to bear sin
Grk “without sin,” but in context this does not refer to Christ’s sinlessness (as in Heb 4:15) but to the fact that sin is already dealt with by his first coming.
but to bring salvation.
Grk “for salvation.” This may be construed with the verb “await” (those who wait for him to bring them salvation), but the connection with “appear” (as in the translation) is more likely.

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