INTRODUCTION TO HEBREWS 9
The apostle having, in the former chapter, taken notice of the first covenant, in this proceeds to show what belonged to it, that it had service performed under it, and a place in which it was performed, Hebrews 9:1 and he begins with the latter, which he distinguishes into two parts, and shows what was in each of them; in the first, which was the holy place, were a candlestick, table, and shewbread; in the second, which was the holiest of all, were a golden censer, the ark of the covenant, the golden pot of manna, Aaron's rod, the tables of the covenant, and the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat, Hebrews 9:2. And next he speaks of the service performed in these places; in the first, the holy place, the common priests entered every day, doing service, as offering sacrifice, &c. Hebrews 9:6 and in the second, the holy of holies, only the high priest entered into, and that but once a year, with blood of slain beasts, which he offered for his own sins, and the sins of the people, Hebrews 9:7 and this being shut up, and entered into but once a year, was an indication from the Holy Ghost, that the way into the holiest of all, which this was then a figure of, was not yet made manifest, while the tabernacle or temple was standing, in which sacrifices were offered, which could not perfect the offerer of them, or remove guilt from his conscience, Hebrews 9:8 which shows the imperfection of that priesthood, it consisting of meats, drinks, baptisms, and carnal ordinances imposed on the Jewish nation until the times of the Messiah, Hebrews 9:10 which are now come, and in which there is an accomplishment of all those types and figures; Christ was typified by the high priest; and he is come as such, and the good things, the law was a shadow of, are come by him; who came into the world by the assumption of human nature, a more perfect tabernacle than the type of it was; and now having obtained eternal redemption for his people, he is gone into heaven, the most holy place, not as the high priest, with the blood of slain beasts, but with his own blood, Hebrews 9:11 the efficacy of which blood is argued from the lesser to the greater, that if the blood of beasts, and water of separation, sanctified and purified externally, then much more must the blood of Christ purge the conscience from sin, that it may serve God, since Christ offered himself to God without spot, through the eternal Spirit, Hebrews 9:13. The necessity of Christ's shedding his blood, or of his death, is proved from his being the Mediator of the new covenant, which required the redemption of transgressions under the first testament, that called ones might have the promise of the eternal inheritance, Hebrews 9:15. And this is reasoned from the nature of testaments or wills among men, which make the death of the testator necessary, they being of no force while he lives, only after his death, Hebrews 9:16. And this is further illustrated by the first testament being dedicated by blood, and everything belonging to it purged by it, the book, the people, the tabernacle, and all the vessels of it; nor is there any remission of sin, whether typical or real, without shedding of blood, Hebrews 9:18 wherefore, as it was necessary that the patterns and types of heavenly things should be purified in this manner; it must be more so, that the antitypes should be purified with better sacrifices, even with the sacrifice of Christ, Hebrews 9:23 and accordingly Christ is entered into heaven itself, of which the holy places in the tabernacle were figures, there to present and plead his sacrifice on account of his people, Hebrews 9:24 not that it was necessary that he should offer up himself again, or often, as the high priest, his type, went every year into the holy place with the blood of others; for then he must have often suffered since the world began, of which there was no need, since his appearing once in the end of the world, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, is sufficient, Hebrews 9:25 for as it is the appointment of God, that men should die but once, and then come to judgment, so it was only necessary that Christ should be offered once to bear the sins of all his people, and then appear a second time without any sin at all upon him, to the salvation of those that look for him, Hebrews 9:27.
Then verily the first covenant had ordinances of divine service,.... The design of the apostle in this chapter, as it stands in connection with what goes before, is to show the pre-eminence of Christ, from the tabernacle, and the things in it; as well as from the priesthood and covenant; and as also the abrogation of the Levitical ceremonies in particular, as well as the first covenant in general; and that they were all types and figures of Christ, and had their fulfilment in him: the word "first", here used, designs not the tabernacle, but the covenant; therefore it is rightly thus supplied in our version, as it is in the Arabic and Ethiopic versions: which is said to have "ordinances of divine service"; belonging to the service of God, which was performed both by the priests, and by the people; and these ordinances were no other than the carnal ordinances, or rites of the ceremonial law: the word used signifies "righteousnesses"; and they are so called, because they were appointed by a righteous God; and were imposed on the people of the Jews in a righteous way; and by them men became externally and typically righteous; for they were figures and types of justification by the righteousness of Christ, though no complete, perfect, real righteousness, came by them.
And a worldly sanctuary. Philo the Jew says
For there was a tabernacle made,.... By the direction of Moses, according to the pattern showed him in the Mount:
the first; that is, the first part of the tabernacle, called the holy place, in distinction from the holy of holies, which was the second part of the tabernacle; for otherwise there were not a first and a second tabernacle; there never was but one tabernacle:
wherein was the candlestick; that this was in the tabernacle, and on the south side of it, and without the vail, where the apostle has placed it, is plain from Exodus 26:35. This was wanting in the second temple
And the table and the shewbread; the table, with the shewbread on it, was also in the tabernacle, on the north side of it, and without the vail, Exodus 26:35. This was also wanting in the second temple
Which is called the sanctuary; or "holy"; this refers either to the first part of the tabernacle, which was called the holy place, in which the priests in common ministered; or else to the things which were in it, now mentioned, the candlestick table, and shewbread; to which the Ethiopic version adds, and the golden censer, which it leaves out in the fourth verse; which version renders these words, "and these they call holy"; and so the Arabic version, "which are called holy things", as they were, as well as the place in which they were; so the candlestick is called the holy candlestick in the Apocrypha,
"As the clear light is upon the holy candlestick; so is the beauty of the face in ripe age.' (Sirach 26:17)
and the ark, candlestick, table, censer, and altar, are called σκευη ιερα, "holy vessels", by Philo the Jew
And after the second vail,.... Were there more vails than one? the Scripture speaks but of one, Exodus 26:31 there was indeed an hanging for the door of the tent, but that is not called a vail; nor was there more than one vail in the tabernacle, nor in the temple of Solomon; but in the second temple, under which the apostle lived, there were two vails, which divided between the holy place, and the holy of holies; and the innermost of these the apostle means: and so the Jewish writers
"he walked in the temple till he came between שתי הפרוכות, "the two vails", which divide between the holy, and holy of holies, and there was the space of a cubit between them.'
The reason of these two vails may be seen in the account Maimonides gives of this matter
"in the first temple there was a wall which divided between the holy, and holy of holies, the thickness of a cubit; but when they built the second temple, it was doubted by them, whether the thickness of the wall was of the measure of the holy place, or of the measure of the holy of holies; wherefore they made the holy of holies twenty cubits complete, and the holy place forty cubits complete, and they left the space of a cubit between the holy, and the holy of holies; and they did not build a wall in the second temple, but they made שתי פרוכות, "two vails", one on the side of the holy of holies, and the other on the side of the holy place, and between them a cubit answerable to the thickness of the wall, which was in the first temple; but in the first temple there was but one vail only, as it is said, Exodus 26:33 and the vail shall divide unto you, &c.'
And to this account other Jewish writers
the tabernacle, or that part of it, the second part,
which is called the holiest of all; which was either typical of Christ, who is called the most Holy, Daniel 9:24 he being so in both natures, divine and human; or of heaven, for the holy places, made with hands, were figures of heaven, Hebrews 9:24 for its holiness, it being the habitation of the holy God, holy angels, and spirits of just men made perfect; and for its invisibility, and the unseen things which faith and hope, which enter within the vail, are the evidence of; and for the things that are in it, typified by the following ones.
Which had the golden censer,.... There were various censers used by the priests in the daily service, but this was a peculiar one, which was used by the high priest on the day of atonement; on other days he used a silver censer, but on that day a golden one, and with it he entered into the holy of holies
And the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold; this is called the ark of the covenant, because the tables of the covenant, afterwards mentioned, were put into it; and that it was overlaid with gold round about, is certain from Exodus 25:11 where it is said to be overlaid with pure gold, within and without; and that the ark was within the vail, and in the most holy place, is manifest from Exodus 40:21 that this was wanting in the second temple, is generally agreed
Wherein was the golden pot that had manna; which Aaron filled with manna by the direction of Moses, who gave it at the appointment of God, that it might be preserved to future ages, as a memorial of the goodness, care, and power of God in feeding the Israelites with it in the wilderness, Exodus 16:33. This pot held an omer, which was more than three pints and a half; some say six pints: and though Moses does not call it a golden pot, yet it is so called, not only by the Septuagint in Exodus 16:33 but also by Philo the Jew
"the intention of this is not to deny that there were not the things mentioned in the law, for they were מונחים בו, "left in it", as Aaron's "rod", and "the pot of manna", only to deny, hereby, that there was not anything of the law, save the decalogue.'
And it should be observed, that it is not said of these, that they were put before the ark, but "before the testimony"; that is, before the tables of the covenant, which were within the ark. The "manna", in this pot, was typical of Christ; in the signification of its name, whether it comes from מנה, "manah", which signifies to appoint, prepare, and distribute, Christ being appointed, prepared, and distributed, as food for his people; or from מן הו, "man hu", what is it? the words said by the Israelites, when they first saw it, not knowing what it was; so Christ is unknown to his people until revealed to them, and remains unknown to all natural and unregenerate men: the manna came from heaven, from God, and was a free gift of his, and so Christ: it was round in form, and may be expressive of Christ's perfection, and eternity: it was in colour white, which may signify his purity and innocence; it was sweet in taste, and so is Christ, his fruits, his word and ordinances: it was small in quantity, which may denote the meanness and despicableness of Christ in the eyes of the world: the people went out and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in mortars, and baked it, and ate, which may be typical of the apprehension, sufferings, and death of Christ, in order to be fit food for the faith of believers. The persons that were fed by it were the Israelites, who were brought out of Egypt, and then in the wilderness, a large number, and men of all sorts, rich, and poor, and who had an equal portion, though very undeserving; so those who are fed by Christ, and nourished with him, the bread of life, are the spiritual Israel of God, whom Christ has redeemed from worse than Egyptian bondage and darkness, though they are yet in the wilderness of this world; and they are a large number, the whole family of God, who receive out of Christ's fulness grace for grace; and there is no difference of high and low, rich and poor, bond or free, male or female; they are all one in Christ, and Christ is all in all; and they have all a whole Christ, though they are very undeserving, being by nature children of wrath as others. And as the Israelites had the manna every day, and all the while they were in the wilderness, so Christ is the daily bread of believers; by him, in his word and ordinances, is his church nourished in the wilderness, to whom he gives to eat of the hidden manna, the food of the wilderness. The "pot", in which this manna was kept, was typical of the ordinances of the Gospel; in its matter, being made of gold, denoting the preciousness and duration of them; in the size of it, holding an "omer", showing that these contain plenty of good things to satisfaction; in the situation of it before the ark, signifying the presence of Christ with his ordinances; and in its use to hold manna, and be a memorial of it to ages to come, as the ordinances have in them food for souls, and are the means of remembering Christ in future generations, till his second coming.
And Aaron's rod that budded; and not only budded, but bloomed; blossomed, and yielded almonds, Numbers 17:8. This also was laid before the ark of the testimony, Hebrews 9:10, and may be said to be in it, or with it, in the same sense as the pot of manna was; it was likewise wanting in the second temple
and the tables of the covenant; the same with the testimony which was ordered to be put into the ark, and accordingly was, Exodus 25:16. About this there is no controversy; though it is a matter of dispute with the Jews, whether the book of the law was in the ark or not: some say it was in the side of it, and others within it
And over it the cherubim of glory,.... Or "glorious cherubim", where the Shechinah, or divine glory, dwelt, Psalm 80:1. These were over the ark, and were in number two, as were the cherubim which God placed at the garden of Eden, Genesis 3:24 according to the opinion of the ancient Jews
"what does cherub signify?" says R. Abhu, כרביא, "as a young man", for so in Babylon they call a young man רביא.'
Some think that the word "cherub" is the same with רכוב, "Recub", the letters transposed, which signifies "a chariot", because God is said to ride upon a "cherub" and the angels are called the chariots of the Lord, Psalm 18:10 to which may be added, that Ezekiel's vision of the "cherubim" is frequently, by the Jews
shadowing the mercy seat; that is, with their wings, as in Exodus 25:20 which was typical of Christ; its name agrees with him, a mercy seat; for in him God shows himself merciful to his people; all the stores of mercy are laid up in him; the mission of him into this world is owing to the mercy of God; and the mercy of God was glorified by him in the redemption of his people; and he himself is the way through which they obtain and receive mercy; and he is also a merciful high priest to them: the Hebrew word for the mercy seat, כפורת, signifies "a covering": nor is our English word in sound very different from it; and it was so called, as Kimchi
of which we cannot now speak particularly; not only of the mercy seat, but of all the things before mentioned; for the word "which" is in the plural number, and refers to all the preceding things; to discourse of which, largely and particularly, required more time than the apostle had, and must have exceeded the bounds of an epistle. The Ethiopic version renders it in the singular number; "of this".
Now when these things were thus ordained,.... Or prepared and got ready; that is, when the tabernacle was finished, and set up, and provided with all its vessels and furniture:
the priests went always into the first tabernacle; the first part of the tabernacle, which was called the holy place, Hebrews 9:2 here the common priests went continually every day, morning and evening; the Syriac and Ethiopic versions read, "the outward tabernacle", in distinction from the innermost part of the tabernacle, or the most holy place:
accomplishing the service of God; by offering sacrifices, burning incense, and trimming the lamps, which they did every day: the priests entered into the holy place every day for service; but they might not go in at any other time but the time of service
Though this is not expressed in so many words in Leviticus 16:2 only it is said that "Aaron came not at all times into the holy place within the vail"; yet it is the constant and generally received sense of the Jewish writers, in agreement with the apostle here, that the high priest went into the holy of holies but once a year
not without blood; for he went in with the blood of the bullock and the blood of the goat; which was typical of the blood of Christ, by which he entered in once into the holy place, into heaven, when he had obtained eternal redemption by it, Hebrews 9:12 which he offered for himself and for the errors of the people; the bullock was offered by the high priest for himself and his family; and the goat for the sins of the people of Israel, even all their iniquities, transgressions, and sins, Leviticus 16:11, but Christ the antitype having no sin, had no need to offer for himself, only for the sins of the people; See Gill on Hebrews 7:27.
The Holy Ghost this signifying,.... This shows that the Holy Ghost existed under the Old Testament; that he is a distinct person in the Godhead, a personal act being here ascribed to him; that he is truly and properly God, the God whose service the priests accomplished in the tabernacle; and by whom Moses was admonished to make all things in it according to the pattern, and by whom the high priest was warned not to come at all times within the vail; moreover, that the Levitical ordinances were of God, and that they had a spiritual signification; that the Old Testament saints were not without some knowledge of the spiritual meaning of them; and that the Holy Ghost was the author of that knowledge; particularly by enjoining the high priest to enter within the vail but once a year, he gave a plain and strong intimation,
that the way into the holiest of all was not yet manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing; by which is meant, not only the first part of the tabernacle, as in Hebrews 9:2 but the whole of it; and not only that, but the temple built in its room, and also the whole Levitical service is included; and the sense is, that while the tabernacle and tabernacle worship, the temple and temple service, were in being, "the way into the holiest of all was not yet manifest": the Vulgate Latin and all the Oriental versions render it, "the way of the saints"; of the priests who ministered in holy things, and were holy to the Lord, and of all the saints that lived before Christ; not that they did not go to heaven, but their way to it was not so manifestly known; life and immortality were not so clearly brought to light, as now by the Gospel; though rather it designs holy places, even heaven itself, which was typified by the holy place within the vail; and may be called the holiest of all, it being the residence of the holy God, holy angels, and holy men, and is sanctified by the presence of Christ, for his people, and where perfect holiness will be the glory of it: the way to it is not by works of righteousness done by men, which being imperfect cannot justify, and so not save, though this is the way men naturally seek and take; but Christ is the only way, and he is the plain, pleasant, and safe one: now let it be observed, that heaven was not shut to the Old Testament saints; there was a way into it for them, and they went the same way New Testament saints do; and that way was in some measure known, but it was not fully manifested; it lay hid in obscure prophecies, types, shadows, and sacrifices; hence being more clearly revealed under the Gospel dispensation, in comparison, of its former obscurity, and with respect to the manifestation of it, it is called a "new way".
Which was a figure for the time then present,.... The tabernacle in general was a figure of Christ's human nature, Hebrews 8:2 and the most holy part of it was a figure of heaven itself, Hebrews 9:24 the whole service of it was typical and shadowy; but it was but a temporary figure; it was for that present time only; the things of it were suited to that dispensation, and are now abolished, and ought not to be revived, the ordinances of the Gospel being greatly preferable to them; and while it did continue, it was only a parable, as the word here used signifies; it was like a dark saying; it had much obscurity and darkness in it; or as the Vulgate Latin version renders it, it was a "figure of the present time"; that is, of the Gospel dispensation; it was a shadow of good things to come under that; it prefigured what is now accomplished; or rather it was a "figure unto, or until the present time"; till Christ came, when all figures, types, and shadows fled away, and were of no more real use and service:
in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices; that is, in which tabernacle, or at which then present time, or καθ' ην, "according to which figure or parable", as the Alexandrian copy and Vulgate Latin version read, gifts and sacrifices were offered by the priests; see Hebrews 5:1,
that could not make him that did the service perfect; neither the priest that offered them, nor the people whom he represented, and for whom he did the service; they could not make real and perfect expiation for sin, nor justify from it, nor cleanse and sanctify; the spiritual worshippers had their sins expiated by the sacrifice of Christ; and their persons were justified by his righteousness, and they were cleansed by his blood: the particular instance in which, legal sacrifices did not make perfect is, "pertaining to the conscience"; there is in every man a conscience, and when sin is charged home upon it, that is filled with a sense of divine wrath; nor can it be pacified with anything short of what will answer the law and justice of God, and which is only done by the blood and righteousness of Christ.
Which stood only in meats and drinks,.... That is, along with the gifts and sacrifices offered, there only were meat offerings and drink offerings; things which only respect the body, and cannot therefore make perfect, as to the conscience; to which may be added, that while the tabernacle was standing, and typical service was in being, there was a prohibition of certain meats, as unclean, and an allowance of others, as clean, Leviticus 11:2 and there were certain drinks which were unlawful to certain persons, at certain times, as to the priests and Nazarites, Leviticus 10:9 and which, for the above reason, could make no man perfect:
and divers washings or "baptisms": the doctrine of which, the apostle would not have laid again, Hebrews 6:2 these were the washings of the priests and of the Israelites, and of sacrifices, and of garments, and of vessels and other things; and which, because they were performed by immersion, they are called "baptisms": and now since these only sanctified to the purifying of the flesh, or what was outward, they could not reach the conscience, or make perfect with respect to that: and
carnal ordinances: which belonged to the flesh, and not the spirit or soul, and therefore could not affect that; besides, these were only
imposed on them until the time of reformation; they were enjoined the Jews only, though by God himself; and were put upon them as a burden, or a yoke, and which was on some accounts intolerable, but were not to continue any longer than the time of the Gospel, here called "the time of reformation", or of "correction", and emendation; in which, things that were faulty and deficient are amended and perfected, and in which burdensome rites and ceremonies are removed, and better ordinances introduced: or rather of direction: in which saints are directed to Christ, the sum and substance of all types, shadows, and sacrifices, and in whom alone perfection is.
But Christ being come an high priest,.... Christ is come, as appears from the cessation of civil government among the Jews, which was not to be till Shiloh came; from the destruction of the second temple, into which the Messiah was to come, and did; from the expiration of Daniel's weeks, at which he was to appear, and be cut off; from the coming of John the Baptist, his forerunner, and from the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles, and the calling and conversion of them, and the effusion of the Spirit upon them: and he is come an high priest; he was called to be one, and was constituted as such in the council and covenant of peace; and he agreed to do the work of one; he was typified by the high priest under the law; and he came as such into this world, and has done the work of an high priest, by offering himself a sacrifice for sin, and by his entrance into the holiest of all, with his own blood: and he is come an high priest of good things to come; such as peace, reconciliation, and atonement, a justifying righteousness, pardon of sin, eternal life and salvation, which the law was a shadow and figure of; and which under the former dispensation were to come, as to the actual impetration of them by Christ; who is called the high priest of them, to distinguish him from the high priests under the law, who could not bring in these good things, nor make the comers to them and to their offerings perfect; but Christ is the author and administrator of them; and these things are owing to the performance of his priestly office; and such rob Christ of his glory, as a priest, who ascribe these good things to their own merits, or the merits of others: and the way in which he is come is,
by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; meaning the human body of Christ, which was greater than tabernacle of Moses; not in bulk and quantity, but in value, worth, and dignity; and was more perfect than that, that being only an example, figure, shadow, and type, this being the antitype, the sum and substance of that; and by it things and persons are brought to perfection, which could not be, in and by that; and this is a tabernacle which God pitched, and not man; which was reared up without the help, of man: Christ was not begotten by man, but was conceived in the womb of a virgin, under the power of the Holy Ghost; he came not into the world in the way of ordinary generation, but in a supernatural manner; and so his human body is a tabernacle, not of the common building, or creation, as the word may be rendered, as other human bodies are.
Neither by the blood of goats and calves,.... With which the high priest entered into the holy place, within the vail, on the day of atonement, Leviticus 16:14 for Christ was not an high priest of the order of Aaron, nor could the blood of these creatures take away sin, nor would God accept of such sacrifices any longer:
but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place; which shows the truth of his human nature, and the virtue of its blood, as in union with his divine Person; by which he opened the way into the holiest of all, as the surety of his people, and gives them boldness and liberty to follow him there; he carried his blood not in a basin, as the high priest carried the blood of goats and calves, but in his veins; and by it, having been shed by him, he entered not into the holy place made with hands, but into heaven itself; and that not every year, as the high priest, but "once" for all, having done his work; or as follows,
having obtained eternal redemption; for us, from sin, Satan, the law, and death, to which his people were in bondage, and which he obtained by paying a ransom price for them; which was not corruptible things, as silver and gold but his precious, blood: in the original text it is, "having found eternal redemption"; there seems to be an allusion to Job 33:24. This was what was sought for long ago by the, Old Testament saints, who were wishing, waiting, and longing for this salvation; it is a thing very precious and difficult to find; it is to be had nowhere but in Christ, and when found in him, is matter of great joy to sensible sinners; God found it in him, and found him to be a proper person to effect it; and Christ has found it by being the author of it: this is called an eternal redemption, because it extends to the saints in all ages; backwards and forwards; it includes eternal life and happiness; and such as are sharers in it shall never perish, but shall be saved with an everlasting salvation; it is so called in opposition to the carnal expiations of the high priests, and in distinction from temporal redemptions, deliverances, and salvations. Remarkable is the paraphrase of Jonathan ben Uzziel on Genesis 49:18.
"Jacob said, when he saw Gideon the son of Joash, and Samson the son of Manoah, who should be redeemers; not for the redemption of Gideon am I waiting, nor for the redemption of Samson am I looking, for their redemption is a temporal redemption; but for thy redemption am I waiting and looking, O Lord, because thy redemption is פורקן עלמין, "an everlasting redemption":'
another copy reads, for the redemption of Messiah the son of David; and to the same purpose is the Jerusalem paraphrase on the place; in Talmudic language it would be called פדייה עולמית
For if the blood of bulls and of goats,.... Shed either on the day of atonement, or at any other time: the former of thee, Pausanias
and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean; the apostle refers to the red heifer, Numbers 19:1 which being burnt, its ashes were gathered up and put into a vessel, and water poured upon them, which was sprinkled with a bunch of hyssop on unclean persons; the ashes and the water mixed together made the water of separation, or of sprinkling; for so it is called by the Septuagint, υδωρ ραντισμου, "the water of sprinkling", and in the Targum in a following citation: this was the purification for sin, though it only
sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; the body, or only in an external and typical way, but did not really sanctify the heart, or purify and cleanse the soul from sin. The Jews say, that the waters of purification for sin were not waters of purification for sin, without the ashes
"I will forgive their sins as they are cleansed with the water of sprinkling, and with the ashes of the heifer, which is a purification for sin.'
How much more shall the blood of Christ,.... Which is not the blood of a mere man, but the blood of the Son of God; and the argument is from the lesser to the greater; that if the ashes of the burnt heifer, which was a type of Christ in his sufferings, mixed with water, typically sanctified to the purifying of men externally, in a ceremonial way, then much more virtue must there be in the blood of Christ, to cleanse the soul inwardly:
who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God; Christ is a priest, and the sacrifice he has offend up is "himself"; not his divine nature, but his human nature, soul and body, as in union with his divine person; which gives his sacrifice the preference to all others; and is the reason of its virtue and efficacy, and is expressive of his great love to man: and this sacrifice was offered up "to God", against whom his people had sinned, and whose justice must be satisfied, and which is of a sweet smelling savour to him; besides, he called him to this work, and engaged him in it, and is well pleased with this offering, as he must needs be, since it is offered up "without spot"; which expresses the purity of Christ's nature and sacrifice, and the perfection of it, which is such, that no fault can be found in it by the justice of God; and hence, the saints, for whom it is offered, are unblamable and irreprovable, There is an allusion in the clause, both to the priests and to their sacrifices, which were neither of them to have any spot or blemish on them; and this unblemished sacrifice was offered unto God by Christ,
through the eternal Spirit; not the human soul of Christ; for though that is a spirit, yet not eternal, and besides, was a part of the sacrifice; but rather the divine nature of Christ, which is a spirit, and may be so called in distinction from the flesh, or human nature, as it sometimes is, and this is eternal; it was from everlasting, as well as is to everlasting; and this supported him under all his sufferings, and carried him through them, and put virtue unto them; and Christ was a priest, in the divine, as well as human nature: though by it may be better understood "the Holy Ghost"; and so the Vulgate Latin version reads, and also several copies; since the divine nature rather acts by the human nature, than the human nature by the divine; and Christ is often said to do such and such things by the Holy Spirit; and as the Holy Ghost formed and filled the human nature of Christ, so he assisted and supported it under sufferings. This whole clause is inserted by way of parenthesis, showing the efficacy of Christ's blood, and from whence it is:
to purge your conscience from dead works; that is, "from the works of sin", as the Ethiopic version renders it; which are performed by dead men, separate and alienated from the life of God, are the cause of the death of the soul, and expose to eternal death, and are like dead carcasses, nauseous and infectious; and even duties themselves, performed without faith and love, are dead works; nor can they procure life, and being depended on, issue in death; and even the works of believers themselves are sometimes performed in a very lifeless manner, and are attended with sin and pollution, and need purging: the allusion is to the pollution by the touch of dead bodies; and there may be some respect to the sacrifices of slain beasts, after the sacrifice and death of Christ, by believing Jews, who were sticklers for the ceremonies of the law, and thereby contracted guilt; but immoralities are chiefly designed, and with these the conscience of man is defiled; and nothing short of the blood of Christ can remove the pollution of sin; as that being shed procures atonement, and so purges away the guilt of sin, or makes reconciliation for it, so being sprinkled on the conscience by the Spirit of God, it speaks peace and pardon, and pacifies and purges it, and removes every incumbrance from it: the Alexandrian copy, the Vulgate Latin, and Syriac versions, read, "our conscience". The end and use of such purgation is, "to serve the living God"; so called to distinguish him from the idols of the Gentiles, and in opposition to dead works; and because he has life in himself, essentially and independently, and is the author and giver of life to others; and it is but the reasonable service of his people, to present their souls and bodies as a living sacrifice to him; and who ought to serve him in a lively manner, in faith, and with fervency, and not with a slavish, but a godly filial fear; and one that has his conscience purged by the blood of Christ, and is sensibly impressed with a discovery of pardoning grace, is in the best capacity for such service. The Alexandrian copy reads, "the living and true God".
And for this cause he is the Mediator of the New Testament,.... See Gill on Hebrews 7:22, See Gill on Hebrews 8:6, See Gill on Hebrews 8:8. This may refer both to what goes before, and what follows after; for Christ, that he might offer himself to God, and by his blood purge the consciences of his people from dead works, that so they might serve the living God, became the Mediator of the New Testament, or covenant; and also he took upon him this character and office,
that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance; Christ became the Mediator of the New Testament, and assumed human nature that he might die, and by dying might obtain redemption for his people; not only for those that were then in the world, or should be in it, but also for all those that had been in it. "The first testament" is the first dispensation of the covenant of grace, reaching from the first promulgation of it to Adam after the fall, to the death of Christ; "the transgressions" that were under it are the sins of the saints who lived under that dispensation, froth Adam to Moses, and from Moses to Christ, and takes in all their iniquities of every kind: and the "redemption" of these, or from these, by Christ, at and through his death, does not suppose that there was no remission of sins, or justification from them, under that dispensation; or that the Old Testament saints did not go to heaven, but were detained in a prison, till redeemed by the death of Christ; or that their sins were only redeemed, not their persons; for transgressions may stand for transgressors; and so the Syriac version renders it, "that by his death he might be a redemption for them who transgressed the first testament"; so the Jews say, that the Messiah must die לפדות את אבות "to redeem the fathers"
For where a testament is,.... The covenant of grace, as administered under the Gospel dispensation, is a testament or will. The Jews have adopted the Greek word, here used, into their language, and pronounce it דייתיקי, and by it understand a dying man's last will and testament
there must also of necessity be the death of the testator; who is Christ; he has various parts in this will or testament; he is the surety and Mediator of it; and he is the executor of it; what is given in it, is first given to him, in order to be given to others; all things are put into his hands, and he has a power to give them to as many as the Father has given him; and here he is called the "testator": Christ, as God, has an equal right to dispose of the inheritance, both of grace and glory; and as Mediator, nothing is given without his consent; and whatever is given, is given with a view to his "death", and comes through it, and by virtue of it: hence there is a "necessity" of that, and that on the account of the divine perfections; particularly for the declaration of God's righteousness, or by reason of his justice; and also because of his purposes and decrees, which have fixed it, and of his promises, which are yea and amen in Christ, and are ratified by his blood, called therefore the blood of the covenant; and likewise on account of the engagements of Christ to suffer and die; as well as for the accomplishment of Scripture prophecies concerning it; and moreover, on account of the blessings which were to come to the saints through it, as a justifying righteousness, pardon of sin, peace and reconciliation, adoption and eternal life.
For a testament is of force after men are dead,.... The necessity of Christ's death is here urged, from the nature and force of a testament or will, among men, which does not take place, and cannot be executed, till a man is dead.
Otherwise it is of no strength at all whilst the testator liveth; no claim can be made by the legatees for the part they have in it, nor can any disposition be made by the executor of it; not that hereby is suggested, that the testament or will of God was uncertain and precarious till the death of Christ, and subject to change and alteration as men's wills are till they die; nor that the inheritance could not be enjoyed by the Old Testament saints; for it is certain, it was entered upon by them before the death of Christ; but the sense is, that there was a necessity of it, that the saints right unto it, upon the foot of justice, might be evident by it.
Whereupon neither the first testament,.... Or the first administration of the covenant of grace under the law:
was dedicated without blood; or "confirmed" without it, that dispensation being a typical one; and that blood was typical of the blood of Christ, by which the new covenant or testament is ratified; see Exodus 24:7.
For when Moses had spoken every precept,.... Contained in the decalogue, in the book of the covenant, everyone of the precepts in Exodus 22:1 for this is to be understood of the written law, and not of the oral law the Jews talk of, which they say Moses first delivered by word of mouth to Aaron, then to his two sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, then to the seventy elders of Israel, and then to the whole congregation; so that Aaron heard it four times, his sons thrice, the seventy elders twice, and all Israel once
to all the people according to the law; which God gave him on the Mount: this may instruct persons concerned in the public ministry, to speak out plainly and clearly the whole counsel of God, to all to whom they are sent, according to the word of God, which is the rule of faith and practice:
he took the blood of calves, and of goats; in the relation of this affair in Exodus 24:5 which is referred to, only mention is made of oxen, bullocks, or heifers, here called calves, which were sacrificed for peace offerings, and not of goats; though perhaps they may be intended by the burnt offerings there spoken of, since they were sometimes used for burnt offerings, Leviticus 1:10. The Syriac version only reads, "he took the blood of an heifer"; and the Arabic version, "he took the blood of calves"; but all the copies, and other versions, read both. "With water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop"; neither of these are mentioned in Exodus 24:1, but since sprinkling is there said to be used, and blood and water mixed together, and scarlet and hyssop were used in sprinkling, as in sprinkling the leper, and the unclean house, Leviticus 14:5 the apostle justly concludes the use of them here; the blood, with water, was typical of the blood and water which sprung from the side of Christ pierced on the cross, the one signifying justification by him, the other sanctification; the scarlet wool, which is originally white, but becomes scarlet by being dyed, may denote the native purity of Christ, and his bloody sufferings and death; the hyssop may signify his humility, and the purging virtue of his blood, and the sweet smelling savour of his person, righteousness, and sacrifice. The apostle calls scarlet, scarlet wool; though whenever the word is used in the Jewish laws of the Old Testament, wool is not expressed, but it is always intended; for it is a rule with the Jews
"the blue, which is spoken of in every place, is wool dyed of a sky colour; purple is wool dyed red, and scarlet is wool dyed in scarlet.'
And sprinkled both the book, and all the people. In Exodus 24:8 no mention is made of the sprinkling of the former, only of the latter, which the apostle either concludes from the sprinkling of the blood upon the altar, upon which the book might lie, or from tradition, or from divine revelation: some think it does not necessarily follow from the text, that the book was sprinkled; and repeating the word λαβων, "he took", read the words, "and he took the book and sprinkled all the people"; but this seems not natural, but forced; and besides, all the Oriental versions are express for the sprinkling of the book: the book of the law was sprinkled, not because of any impurity in it, but to show the imperfection of it, and its insufficiency to justify men; or rather the imperfection of man's obedience to it, and to point out what the law requires in case of disobedience, even the blood and life of men; and what it would be, was it not sprinkled with blood, or satisfied by the blood of Christ, namely, an accusing, cursing, and condemning law: the people, all of them, being sprinkled with the blood, were typical of God's peculiar people, even all the elect of God, being sprinkled with the blood of Christ, called the blood of sprinkling, by which they are redeemed, and which speaks peace and pardon to them. Some have thought only the seventy elders were sprinkled, as representing the whole congregation; and others, that the twelve pillars were only sprinkled, as representing the twelve tribes of Israel; but Moses and the apostle agree, that they were the people that were sprinkled.
Saying, this is the blood of the testament,.... The first testament or covenant; this proves what the apostle had asserted in Hebrews 9:18 that it was dedicated with blood, or confirmed by it; compare with this Matthew 26:28
which God hath enjoined unto you; the people of Israel, to observe, and which they promised to do; see Exodus 24:7.
Moreover, he sprinkled likewise both the tabernacle,.... Not at the same time that he sprinkled the book and the people, for then there was no tabernacle; but afterwards, at the time that it was set up, when it was anointed with oil, Exodus 40:9 and though no mention is there made of blood, yet Josephus, in agreement with the apostle, asserts
And all the vessels of the ministry; which were used in the service of the tabernacle these may denote the vessels of grace and mercy, the elect of God, whose hearts are sprinkled by the blood of Christ from an evil conscience, and whose garments are washed in it, and made white by it.
And almost all things are by the law purged with blood,.... All "except a few things", as the Arabic version renders it; for some things were cleansed by water, and others purged by fire, Numbers 31:23. Some join the word almost with the word purged, as if the sense was, that all things were purged by blood, but not perfectly, only almost; but the former sense is best.
And without shedding of blood is no remission; that is, of sin; there was no typical remission without it; and there can be no real remission but by, the blood of Christ; no instance can be given of pardon without it; if it could have been otherwise, the blood of Christ had not been shed; for so it would seem to be shed in vain, and his satisfaction to be unnecessary; nor is it agreeable to the justice of God to forgive sin without satisfaction; nor is it consistent with his veracity, and faithfulness to his word, Genesis 2:17. It is a common saying with the Jews, and often to be met with in their writings, אין כפרה אלא בדם, "there is no atonement but by blood"
It was therefore necessary,.... On account of the divine appointment, and that types and antitypes might correspond; and especially it was necessary with respect to the Messiah, the substance and body of all types. So Jonathan ben Uzziel paraphrases the text in Exodus 40:9,
"and thou shalt take the anointing oil, and thou shalt anoint the tabernacle, and all that is in it; and thou shall sanctify it, מטול, because of the crown of the kingdom of the house of Judah, and the King Messiah, who shall redeem Israel in the latter days.'
Upon his account it was necessary,
that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; that is, that all the people, and the book of the covenant, and the tabernacle, and its vessels, which were types and patterns of persons and things in Gospel churches, should be purified with blood and water, and with scarlet wool and hyssop.
But the heavenly things themselves, with better sacrifices than these; the sum and substance of the above patterns, shadows, and examples, such as heaven itself; which though not impure in itself, yet some think it, may be said to be purified, because saints are made meet for it, by being purged with the blood of Christ; others observe, that sin reaches to heaven, and provokes God that dwells there; hence atonement for it may be called a purification of heaven: but rather this may be said of it, inasmuch as by the blood of Christ an entrance and preparation is made for the saints into it. Likewise, the human nature of Christ is among these heavenly things; not that it is heavenly, as to the matter and substance of it, but may be so called, because of its wonderful formation; and which has been purified, not from any real internal pollution that was in it, but from what was imputed to it, the sin of his people. Also the whole church, triumphant and militant, may be intended by heavenly things: the Old Testament saints went to heaven before Christ came; and though they were not impure, but were the spirits of just men made perfect, yet their iniquities were purged by the blood and sacrifice of Christ, after they were gone to heaven; see Hebrews 9:15. The church militant, or believers on earth, may be said to be heavenly, since they are partakers of an heavenly birth and calling; their head is in heaven, and their conversation is there; and they have a right unto it, and are making meet for it; and they are in themselves defiled with sin, and are purified by the blood of Christ, and sanctified by the offering up of his body once for all: to which may be added, that spiritual blessings are heavenly things; they are from heaven, and saints are blessed with them in heavenly places and these come to them through the blood and sacrifice of Christ; yea, the Gospel, which is from heaven, and the doctrines of it, are sealed and confirmed by the blood of Christ: his sacrifice is expressed in the plural number; not that there has been a repetition of it, for it is but one sacrifice, and but once offered up, and will never be reiterated; but to show the excellency of it, being usual with the Jews to use the plural number of things the most excellent; so Christ is called "Wisdoms", Proverbs 1:20 besides, respect may be had to the many sacrifices under the law, which were types of it, and were answered and fulfilled by it; and to the many persons on whose account it was offered; and to the parts of it, the soul and body of Christ: and this is a better sacrifice than the legal ones, in its own nature and in its use and efficacy to take away sin, and make perfect, which they could not.
For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands,.... The most holy place in the tabernacle of Moses, or in the temple built by Solomon, and rebuilt by Zerubbabel, and repaired by Herod,
which are the figures of the true; that is, the most holy place in the tabernacle and temple, was a figure of the truth of that type; see Hebrews 9:9 as follows. Josephus
But into heaven itself; not the visible heavens, the airy and starry ones, through which he passed, but the third heaven, the habitation of God, angels, and glorified saints: this shows that heaven is a place; that Christ, as man, was out of it when on earth; and that at his ascension he entered into it, having done the work he came about, and that with acceptance: the end of his entrance was
now to appear in the presence of God for us; Christ, as God, was always in his presence, from everlasting; as Mediator, he was with him in the council of peace; while he was here on earth his Father was with him, he was not alone; but now in his human nature he is at his right hand, where he appears before him, as a favourite before his Prince, on the behalf of another, or as an advocate on the behalf of his client: Christ appears in the court of heaven for his elect, by representing their persons; by presenting himself, his blood, sacrifice, and righteousness, before God on their account; by introducing them into the presence of God, and offering up their prayers with the incense of his mediation; by presenting them to himself, and to his Father, and obtaining every blessing for them. And this he does "now", since his entrance; not that he did not appear before God for the saints of the Old Testament, for he was the angel of God's presence then, though he did not appear then in the manner he does now, as the Lamb in the midst of the throne, as if it had been slain; but it denotes the continuance and perpetuity of his appearance for his people; he is ever interceding for them.
Nor yet that he should offer himself often,.... Or at all again; which shows the perfection of his sacrifice, for justice was satisfied, the law fulfilled, sin done away, and complete salvation obtained at once; which lies against the errors of the Socinians, who say he offers himself now in heaven; and of the Papists, who pretend to offer the body of Christ daily in their mass:
as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; not his own, nor other men's, but the blood of goats and calves; but Christ entered into heaven with his own blood, he having been altar, priest, and sacrifice: the high priest went into the most holy place every year, but Christ has entered into heaven once for all, where he sits down and continues, having done his work effectually.
For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world,.... For if it was necessary that he should often offer up himself now, which is the same as to suffer, since the sacrifice of himself, the same was necessary before; seeing sin was in the world from the beginning, and the saints from the foundation of the world had their sins expiated by the sacrifice of Christ; but the truth is, Christ's sufferings were but once, though the virtue of them is always, both before and after; nor can he suffer more, or again, because of his power over death and the grave, and because he has effectually obtained what he suffered for:
but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself; this is to be understood, not of his appearance in heaven, of which mention is made in Hebrews 9:24 but of his incarnation on earth, called an appearance; not as though his human nature was a mere phantom or apparition, for it was a real thing; or as if he was then manifested to be what he really was before; for before his incarnation he was not truly and actually man; but this is said with respect to the manifestation of his invisible deity; or of him as the Son of God in human nature; and in regard to the types of the old law, under which he was hid; and with respect to the prophecies of his coming; and it designs the same thing with his descent from heaven, and coming into this world, in which he appeared in fashion as a man, as a mean man, as an afflicted one; yea, he looked like a sinful man, bearing the infirmities and sins of his people; his appearance was but to a very few, and for a little time; and the time of it was, "in the end of the world"; the same with the last days; the last age of the world; the end of the Jewish economy; at the close of their civil and ecclesiastical state, according to Habakkuk 2:3 & so the Jews expect their Messiah לקץ הימים, "at the end of days"
And as it is appointed unto men once to die,.... Not a moral, or what is commonly called a spiritual death, nor an eternal one, but a corporeal one; which does not arise from the constitution of nature, but from the sin of man, and God's decree on account of it; by which it is fixed that men shall die, and how long they shall live, and when they shall die; so that they cannot die sooner nor later; all things antecedent to death, which lead on to it, and issue in it, are appointed by God, and so is death itself, with all its circumstances; men's days can neither be lengthened nor shortened, either by Christ himself, or others: and this statute and appointment of God concerns men, not angels, and reaches to all men, wicked and righteous; and though there have been some exceptions, as Enoch and Elijah; and all will not sleep, or die, some will be found alive at Christ's appearing; yet such will undergo a change which is equivalent to death, as Enoch and Elijah have done: and generally speaking men die but once; it is not usual for men to die, and live again, and then die again; there have been some extraordinary instances of this kind, but they are rare; it is the statute law of heaven in common for men to die and that but once; so Cicero
but after this the judgment; the last and general judgment, which will reach to all men, quick and dead, righteous and wicked, and in which Christ will be Judge. There is a particular judgment which is immediately after death; by virtue of which, the souls of men are condemned to their proper state of happiness or woe; and there is an universal judgment, which will be after the resurrection of the dead, and is called eternal judgment, and to come; this is appointed by God, though the time when is unknown to men; yet nothing is more certain, and it will be a righteous one.
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many,.... As man dies but once, Christ was offered but once, or he suffered and died but once; and that was not on his own account, or for his own sins, "but to bear the sins of many": not of angels but of men, and these not a few, but "many"; which is said to magnify the grace of God, to exalt the satisfaction and righteousness of Christ, and to encourage souls to hope in him: hence many are brought to believe in him, and many are justified by him, have their sins forgiven them, and are glorified; though Christ bore not the sins of all men; for as all men have not faith, all are not justified, pardoned, and saved: what he bore were "sins"; all kind of sin, every act of sin, and all that belongs to it; its filth, guilt, and punishment, even the iniquity of all his people; which must be a prodigious weight, and than which nothing could be more nauseous: his bearing them supposes they were upon him, though not in him, imputed, though not inherent; that he did not sink under them; that he made an entire satisfaction for them, and bore them wholly away, both from the persons of his people, and from the sight of justice. The way in which he came to bear them was this; he became a surety for all the elect; his Father imputed to him all their sins, and he voluntarily took them upon himself; where justice found them, and demanded satisfaction of him for them, and he gave it; which is an instance both of his great love, and of his great strength:
and unto them that look for him: with affection, faith and patience:
shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation; this is to be understood of Christ's visible and personal appearance on earth, which will be a glorious one; he will appear in his own glory, and in his Father's glory, and in the glory of the holy angels, and in the glory of his power, to the joy of saints, and to the terror of the wicked; for every eye shall see him: and this is said to be "the second time"; that is, that he appears on earth, and personally; for though he often appears to his people, it is in a spiritual way; and though he appeared to Stephen and to Paul, yet not on earth, but in heaven; and this is called the second time, with reference to his first appearance in human nature at his incarnation, and after that he ascended to heaven; and as this will be the second, it will be the last: the manner in which he will appear, will be, "without sin"; without sin itself; without any thing like it: without any infirmities, which though not sinful are the effects of sin; without sin imputed to him, with which he appeared before; without being a sacrifice for sin; and without sin upon his people that come with him, or he shall meet whom he shall raise, or change, and take to himself: and the end of his appearance with respect to them, will be "unto salvation"; the end of his first appearance was to obtain salvation for his people, and he has obtained it, and there is a comfortable application of it made unto them by the Spirit of God; but the full possession of it will be hereafter, and into this will Christ put them, when he shall appear: the Alexandrian copy adds, "by faith", and also some other copies.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 9". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26