Hebrews 9



The sphere of Christ’s “more excellent ministry,” as the “Mediator of a

better covenant,” having been shown to be elsewhere than in the earthly

tabernacle, the ministry itself is now contrasted with that of the superseded

priesthood. With this view the latter is described, and shown to express in

itself its own insufficiency and to point to a more availing one to come.


1 “Then verily (or, now indeed) the first covenant also (or, even

the first covenant) had ordinances of divine service, and a worldly

sanctuary (rather its sanctuary of this world (τό τε ἅγιον κοσμικόν

to te hagion kosmikon – a worldly sanctuary). The definite article points to

the well-known one of the Mosaic dispensation, which, unlike the true one,

was in its bearings, as well as locally and materially, of this world only).

This sanctuary itself is now first described in necessary preparation for an

account of priestly ministrations in it.



The Orderly Arrangements of the New covenant (v.1)


Evidently a double meaning is possible to the adjective κοσμικόν (sanctuary).

The sanctuary sheltered within the tabernacle was a sanctuary of this world;

but is that all the writer means by the word he uses here? Surely we must

remember the antithesis between cosmos and chaos. The furniture of the

sanctuary was not a collection of objects placed anywhere and anyhow.

There was as much symbolism in the order and relation of these objects as

in the objects themselves. All worship and holy service had to be according

to DIVINE REGULATIONS.   And as all was κοσμικόν in the visible,

symbolic, temporary sanctuary, so all must also be κοσμικόν in the sanctuary,

the true tabernacle.



SANCTUARY. The new covenant has its sanctuary, even as the old, and

that sanctuary is to be found wherever Christ is manifesting Himself to take

away sin. It is the presence of Christ that makes the holiest place we know,

and there is no making of a truly holy place without Him. In the old

covenant, everything was gathered round the tables of the Law as a center.

They expressed the will of God. And so now the center of our religious

life, around which all is to be gathered in orderly relations, is to be found in

Christ — at once a High Priest to enter into the true holy of holies, and

One to show the Law of God in actual working, as something not too high

for human attainment. We are to worship and serve God through Christ,

and there is no other way whereby we may become faultless in the

presence of His glory.



SANCTUARY. What are we doing in the way of orderly, well-considered

daily service? Is the lamp of our life shining forth every day? Do we help to

spread a table for the varied necessities of men, remembering that

whatsoever we do for them is done for Christ, and whatsoever is done for

Christ is done for God? There is to be a measure of order in our own

personal religious life — repentance leading to faith, and faith opening up

the way to all that is holy, pure, and Christ-like.


2 “For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the

candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the

sanctuary.  3  And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called

the Holiest of all;  4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the

covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that

had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;

5 And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which

we cannot now speak particularly.”  The tabernacle as a whole is first

spoken of; and then its two divisions, called respectively “the first” and “the

second” tabernacle. The account of them is from the Pentateuch, and

describes them as they originally were. In the then existing temple there

were neither ark, mercy-seat, nor cherubim, though the ceremonies were

continued as though they had been still there. The ark had been removed or

destroyed in the sack by the Chaldeans, and was never replaced (for the

Jewish tradition on the subject, see II Maccabees  2:1-8). Josephus says (‘Bell.

Jud.,’ 5:5. 5) that in the temple of his day there was nothing whatever

behind the veil in the holy of holies; and Tacitus informs us (‘Hist.,’ v 9)

that, when Pompey entered the temple, he found there “vacuam sedem et

inania arcana.” A stone basement is said by the rabbis to have occupied the

ark’s place, called “lapis fundationis.” In the “first tabernacle,” called “the

holy place” the table of shewbread (with its twelve loaves in two rows,

changed weekly) stood on the north side, i.e. the right as one approached

the veil; and opposite to it, on the left, the seven-branched golden

candlestick, or lamp-stand, carrying an oil-lamp on each branch (Exodus

chapters 25., 37., 40.). Between them, close to the veil stood the golden altar of

incense (ibid.); which, nevertheless, is not mentioned here as part of the

furniture of the “first tabernacle,” being associated with the “second,” for

reasons which will be seen. The “second veil” was that between the holy

place and the holy of holies (Ibid. ch.36:35), the curtain at the entrance

of the holy place (Ibid. v. 37) being regarded as the first. The inner

sanctuary behind this second veil is spoken of as having (ἔχουσα – echousa –

having) in the first place “a golden censer,” as the word θυμιατήριον

thumiataerion – incense instrument; censer - is translated in the Authorized

Version (so also in the Vulgate, thuribulum). But it assuredly means the”

golden altar of incense,” though this stood locally outside the veil. For


(1) otherwise there would be no mention at all of this altar, which was so

important in the symbolism of the tabernacle, and so prominent in the

Pentateuch, from which the whole description is taken.


(2) The alternative view of its being a censer reserved for the use of the

high priest, when he entered behind the veil on the Day of Atonement, has

no support from the Pentateuch, in which no such censer is mentioned as

part of the standing furniture of the tabernacle, and none of gold is spoken

of at all; nor, had it been so, would it have been placed, any more than the

altar of incense, within the veil, since the high priest required it before he



(3) Though the word itself, θυμιατήριον, certainly means” censer,” and

not “altar of incense,” in the Septuagint, yet in the Hellenistic writers it is

otherwise. Philo and Josephus, and also Clemens Alexandrinus and Origen,

always call the altar of incense θυμιατήριον χρυσοῦν thumiataerion

chrusoun – golden censer; and the language of the Epistle is Hellenistic.


(4) The wording does not of necessity imply that what is spoken of was

locally within the veil: it is not said (as where the actual contents of the

“first tabernacle” and of the ark are spoken of) wherein (ἐν ᾗ - en hae –

in which), but having (ἔχουσα), which need only mean having as belonging to it,

as connected with its symbolism. It was an appendage to the holy of holies,

though not actually inside it, in the same way (to use a homely illustration)

as the sign-board of a shop belongs to the shop and not to the

street. It is, indeed, so regarded in the Old Testament. See Exodus 40:5,

Thou shalt set the altar of gold for the incense before the ark of the

testimony;” also Ibid. ch.30:6, “Before the mercy-seat that is over the

testimony;” and I Kings 6:22, “The altar which was by the oracle,” or,

belonging to the oracle;” compare  also Isaiah 6:6 and Revelation 8:3,

where, in the visions of the heavenly temple based upon the symbolism of

the earthly, the altar of incense is associated with the Divine throne. And it

was also so associated in the ceremonial of the tabernacle. The smoke of

the incense daily offered on it was supposed to penetrate the veil to the

holy of holies,  and on the Day of Atonement, not only was its incense

taken by the high priest within the veil, but also it, as well as the mercy-seat,

was sprinkled with the atoning blood. Of the rest of the things

described as belonging to the holy of holies, it is to be observed that,

though none of them were in it when the Epistle was written, yet all

(except the pot of manna and Aaron’s rod) were essential to its

significance, as will be seen; and all, with these two exceptions, were in

Solomon’s temple as well as in the original tabernacle. An objection that

has been raised to the accuracy of the description, on the ground that the

pot and the rod are not said in the Pentateuch to have been placed inside

the ark, is groundless. They were to be laid up “before the LORD”

(Exodus 16:33); “before the testimony” (Numbers 17:10); and “the

testimony” elsewhere means the tables of the Law (Exodus 25:16;

31:18; 40:20, etc.), which were within the ark. It was most likely that they

would be kept for safe preservation in the same place with the  “testimony,”

before which they were ever to be.  Further, what is said (I Kings 8:9

and II Chronicles 5:10) of there being nothing in the ark but the two

tables of stone when it was moved into Solomon’s temple, is no proof that

nothing else had been originally there. It seems, indeed, rather to favor the

idea that there had been, as implying that something more might have been

expected to be found there. The mercy-seat, as is well known, was the

cover of the ark, over which the wings of the two cherubim were spread.

The expression, “cherubim of glory,” probably has reference to the

luminous cloud, significant of the Divine presence, which, occasionally at

least (there is no sufficient ground for concluding it to have been a

permanent manifestation), is said to have been seen above them. The

cherubim, whatever their exact significance, are represented as

accompaniments of the Divine glory (compare Isaiah 6 and Ezekiel 1 and 10).



     The Ark of the Covenant, a Symbol of Redemptive Truth (vs. 4-5)


“The ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein… were

the tables of the covenant; and over it the cherubims of glory shadowing

the mercy-seat.” Jewish solemnities were types of Christian truths and

relations. The furniture of their sacred courts possessed symbolical

significance. Their religious institutions were parables of spiritual and

saving truths. Deep significance of this kind attached to the ark of the

covenant. We shall regard it as setting forth certain facts and features of

God’s redemptive relations with men. In it we discover:



RELATIONS WITH MEN. “The ark of the covenant, wherein were the

tables of the covenant.” The two tables containing the ten commandments,

in accordance with Divine directions, were deposited in the ark

(Exodus 25:16, 21; 40:20). Thus Law was recognized and honored there:


Ø      As a sacred thing. The tables were in the most holy place and in the

most venerated receptacle which that place contained. Law is a

benevolent thing, a holy thing. It is at the very center of all things.

In the material universe, in human history, and in Divine redemption,

law is present everywhere, and operative everywhere. It is of a

religions nature, of a Divine nature.


Ø      As a permanent thing. Ceremonial laws pass away; moral laws are

abiding. The “ten words” given on Sinai in their essential characteristics

are as binding now as they were under the earlier dispensation. Our

Lord endorsed and enforced them. He said, “Thou shall love the Lord

 thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy

mind,” (Matthew 22:37-40). The everlasting continuance of law

is essential to the order and well-being of the universe of God. The

redemption which is by Christ Jesus aims at the establishment of the Law

of God in blessed and perpetual supremacy, and the inspiration and

confirmation in man of the spirit and habit of cheerful conformity to that

Law. There is law in heaven. The ark of the covenant is there. “And there

was opened the temple of God that is heaven; and there was seen in his

temple the ark of his covenant” (Revelation 11:19).


Ø      As a witness against man. Man had broken this holy Law. In his fallen

and sinful condition he could not thoroughly keep it. Hence it bore

witness against him. The tables of the covenant were also called “the

two tables of testimony,” and they testified to the transgressions and

failures of men. “By the Law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20)

And in this way the Law witnessed to man’s need of mercy and

forgiveness and spiritual power.



RELATIONS WITH MEN. The ark of the covenant was covered, and the

covering was called “the mercy-seat.” The word which is here rendered

“mercy-seat” is applied to our Savior: “Whom God hath set forth to be a

Propitiation,” etc. (Ibid. v.25). There was a manifestation of grace:


Ø      In the mercy-seat itself. It was the lid of the chest which contained the

tables of the Law. Those tables testified against man, and the mercy-seat

hid, as it were, their testimony from the eyes of the Holy One who dwelt

between the cherubim. The mercy-seat covered and concealed the

accusing tables. Hence arose the poetical view of forgiveness as a

covering of sin. “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,

whose sin is covered.”  (Ibid. ch. 4:7; Psalm 32:1)


Ø      In the symbolical atonement which was made upon the mercy-seat.

The covering of the tables of testimony was not in itself sufficient to

put away the guilt of the people. For this atonement also was necessary.

Hence on the great Day of Atonement the high priest was required to

sprinkle the blood of the sin offerings upon the mercy-seat to “make an

atonement, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and

because of their transgressions in all their sins” (Leviticus 16:11-16).

To the mercy-seat in this aspect there is reference in several verses of

the Scripture, or at least the verb used in these verses (kaphar) suggests

such a reference. “Our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away”

(Psalm 65:3); “He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity”

 (Ibid. ch.78:38); “To make reconciliation for iniquity” (Daniel 9:24).

In this the mercy-seat pointed to the Christ, the great Atonement, the

 true Propitiatory, “whom God set forth to be a Propitiation, through

faith by His blood” (Romans 3:24-26). Thus the manifestation of the

grace of God in His redemptive relations with man was symbolized

in the covering of the ark of the covenant.  Moreover, grace and Law

appear here as connected and harmonious. Rightly understood, Law

itself is an expression of Divine grace, and Divine grace aims to

establish the universal reign of Law, which is but another

word for the reign of God. The mercy-seat was “God’s throne

of GRACE FOUNDED ON LAW!   Here mercy and truth are

met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”

                   (Psalm 85:10)




cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy-seat.” We regard the

cherubim as emblems of angelic powers; and their position here suggests

that they are:


Ø      The solemn guardians of God’s holy Law. They kept constant watch

over the “tables of testimony.” They are deeply interested in the

maintenance of moral law. They “are in Scripture evermore the

attendants, and bearers up, of the throne of God.” When man

rebelled against the authority of that throne, they were appointed

ministers for punishing the transgressors (Genesis 3:24).


Ø      The interested students of God’s redemptive relations with men. The

cherubim were represented as looking intently and constantly upon

the ark of the covenant. “Toward the mercy-seat shall the faces of

the cherubim be,” etc. (Exodus 25:20-21). “Which things the angels

desire to look into” (I Peter 1:12). “Unto the principalities and the

 powers in the heavenly places is made known through the Church

 the manifold wisdom of God” (Ephesians 3:10).


Ø      The willing servants in promoting the successful issue of God’s

redemptive relations with men. “Are they not all ministering spirits,

sent forth to do service for the sake of them that shall inherit

salvation?” (see on ch.1:14).



REDEMPTIVE RELATIONS WITH MEN. “Cherubim of glory.” They

were so called because they appeared to bear up the visible symbol of the

presence of God, which in the Old Testament is sometimes called “the

glory.” God promised to commune with His people “from between the two

cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony” (Exodus 25:22).

“Moses heard the voice of one speaking unto him from between the two

cherubim” (Numbers 7:89). God was said to “dwell between the

cherubim” (I Samuel 4:4; II Samuel 6:2; Psalm 80:1; 99:1). God

sometimes manifested His presence here in a luminous cloud, which the

Jews called the Shechinah, and here He was always thought of as present.

Jesus Christ our Redeemer is the true Shechinah. He is “the Effulgence of

the Father’s glory, and the very Image of His substance.”  (ch. 1:3)  He is

the truest, the highest, the fullest manifestation of God to man. And in

spiritual presence God dwells with His people now. The Holy Spirit is

present with every godly soul. And Christians are inspired by the mighty

and blessed hope that when this life in the body ends, they will follow

their Forerunner within the veil and see God “even as He is.”  (I John 3:2)



Passing Reference to the Symbolism of the Jewish Tabernacle (vs. 1-5)


The importance of the tabernacle is obvious, since thirty-seven chapters in the Old

Testament are devoted to describe it and its services, and seven times it is said to

have been made according to the heavenly pattern; so much so that when the

writer of this Epistle has to refer to what was typical in the old economy,

he does not speak of the temple, but of the original sanctuary. Moreover,

but for the tabernacle and its services, much of what is most important in

the New Testament would be unintelligible — the veil, mercy-seat, priest,

atonement, Lamb of God, etc. The tabernacle standing in its sacred

enclosure in the midst of the vast encampment, with the cloudy pillar

resting upon it, was the dwelling-place of Israel’s King. At Sinai God and

Israel entered into solemn covenant. He was to be their King, and they a

people peculiarly His own, and from that time He made His visible abode

among them. But what was the purpose of the particular form this abode

assumed? They were ignorant of Him, and in so low a condition that

abstract truth was insufficient for their teaching; they needed heavenly

things in pictures. The tabernacle, therefore, was doubtless designed in its

construction to meet this need. It would convey to them very plainly that

God is real, one, theirs, holy, only approachable to man by sacrifice. But

the New Testament throws additional light on this ancient sanctuary, by

which its details are seen to be profoundly symbolic of New Testament

truth, and Christians may better understand, because of it, their position in

Christ. The Jewish tabernacle is the type of the Christian Church

I Corinthians 3:16-17; II Corinthians 6:16;  Ephesians 2:20-22). The

Church, founded on “the atonement money” (Scripture name for the

hundred silver sockets which were the foundation of the tabernacle); the

Church, habitation of God through the Spirit; the Church, witness to the

world of the reality, character, and grace of God.



consisted of two apartments separated by the veil, the inner one called “the

holy of holies.”


Ø      The relation of Jehovah to the Church, as seen in the holy of holies.

Described in vs. 3-5. A symbol of heaven, as in Apocalypse: The city

lieth four square, and the length is as large as the breadth:”

(Revelation 21:16)  - “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of

the moon, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple

of it!”  (Ibid. v. 23)  Most glorious place, seat and throne of the King,

where celestial beings bow in His presence! Most holy place, hidden

from human gaze, inaccessible save through the atonement, inaccessible

yet so near; only a veil between, which a breath might almost waft aside,

and which the incense of prayer can penetrate! Most blessed place, for

there our great High Priest ever carries on His work on our behalf! How

well is the tabernacle a type of this! There was the ark of the covenant,

and nothing more, save that the walls and ceiling were draped with

curtains embroidered with cherubic figures. What did this typify?



o       God’s dealings with His people are based on Law. The tables of

stone, tables of the covenant,” were the essential contents of the

ark (the pot of manna and the rod were not there originally, nor

were they found there when the ark was placed in the temple).

God’s relation to man is that of Sovereign; from His throne issue

the commands concerning what man should be and do; and at

His feet lie ever the requirements He makes of man.


o       Provision has been made for covering over the broken Law from the

sight of the King. The mercy-scat on the ark, the golden slab on which

was sprinkled the sacrificial blood on the Day of Atonement. “Mercy-

seat;” literally, “an expiatory covering.” Looking down on his Law,

the King sees the Sacrifice, and where He used to hear a testimony

of guilt, He now hears a plea for mercy.


o       The result of this provision is the perfection of His people in His

presence. The cherubim bowing before His glory with no fear but

that of reverence. The cherubim set forth the highest creature

perfection — head of man, body of lion, wings of eagle, feet of ox;

representing perfect intelligence, strength, flight, obedience; picture

of man perfected, fallen humanity in its restored condition, eternal

fellowship with God with completed powers. “We have sinned,

and come short of the glory of God;”  (Romans 3:23) - that is the

broken Law.  “Being justified freely by His grace, through the

redemption that is in Christ Jesus;” (Ibid. v. 24) - that is the

mercy-seat.Whom He justified, them He also glorified;”

that is the cherubim.


Ø      The relation of the Church to Jehovah, as seen in the holy place.

(v. 2.) The golden altar, candlestick, shewbread-table, occupied this

apartment. (Note, no mention of the golden altar in the text, but in the

fourth verse the word “censer” signifies anything that holds incense, and

probably should be rendered “altar,” as we read of no censer belonging to

the holy of holies. It is not said in v. 4 that this was within the holy of

holies, but only that it belonged to it; it stood close to the veil, its incense

passed through the veil, its work was within whilst its form was without.)

These are also part of the type of the Church; the Church below, as the

former the Church above. What do they teach about the Church on earth?

Righteous mercy raising us to perfection with Him. That is God’s part of

the covenant. What is ours?


o       The altar, that is, the worship of the Church. Incense in Scripture a

type of prayer. The altar sprinkled with atoning blood before incense

could be offered; the incense rekindled daily by the holy fire; the

fragrant odor passing to the mercy-seat, a sacrifice acceptable. What

a type of prayer smoldering in the heart all through the day, kindled

morning and evening, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.


o       The candlestick, that is, the work of the Church. “Ye are the light of

the world.” It is the world’s night. God lights His lamps, that thereby

the world may see what it would see of spiritual realities if it were

not night. Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord.”  (Isaiah 43:10)


o       The shewbread, that is, the consecration of the Church. Bread

represents life. These twelve loaves, one for each tribe, set forth


PEOPLE!   He redeems us that we may be His. “For to this end

 Christ both died, and rose,”  (Romans 14:9)  “Truly our

fellowship is with the Father”  (I John 1:3); that is the attar.

“Ye were sometime darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord;”

(Ephesians 5:8) that is the candlestick. “I beseech you, brethren,

by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living

sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” (Romans 12:1);  that is

the shewbread.




Ø      That the Church is the dwelling-place of God. The symbolism is

abolished; what is left? The Christian Church, the spiritual temple,

which is to be in the world what the tabernacle was in Israel. As

once God dwelt in a consecrated temple, now He dwells in

consecrated lives; no more worshipped by sacred forms, but by

devout hearts. Symbolism has given place to SPIRITUALITY!


Ø      That the true Church is that which embodies the teaching of the holy

and most holy places. Or, in other words, the true Christian. You

believe in what is done for you within the veil, the God-ward aspect

of Christian life; but to that do you add the man-ward — worship,

service, consecration?


Ø      That the way into the Church is symbolized in the types of the old

sanctuary. Between the entrance to the tabernacle and the gate of the

court, stood the brazen altar on which rite sacrifices were offered, and

the brazen laver. No entrance to the Church BUT BY CHRIST’S




6 “Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always

into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.”

Now these things being thus ordained (Authorized Version, rather,

arranged or constituted; it is the same word (κατεσκευάσθη kateskeuasthae –

is constructed; made) as was used in v. 2, “there was a tabernacle made;” also in

ch. 3:3-4, of God’s “house;” on which see supra), the priests go in continually

into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the services. (Observe that here,

where the ministrations are described, present tenses are used; perhaps

because these ministrations were still going on when the Epistle was

written.) The continual services in the “first tabernacle” were


(1) lighting the lamps every evening, and trimming them every morning

(Exodus 27:21; 30:8; Leviticus 24:3);

(2) renewing the twelve loaves of shewbread every sabbath (Leviticus


(3) burning incense on the golden altar twice daily, when the lamps were

trimmed and lighted (Exodus 30:7-8), at the time of the morning and

evening sacrifice, the people meanwhile praying outside (Luke 1:10).


7 “But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not

without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: 

8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest  of all was not

yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:”

But into the second the high priest alone, once in the

year, not without blood, which he offereth for himself and for the

errors (literally, ignorances; compare v. 2) of the people. For the ceremonies

on the Day of Atonement, see Leviticus 16. They may be summarized, in

their main characteristics, thus:


(1) The high priest brought to the door of the tabernacle a bullock as a sin

offering for himself, and two goats as a sin offering for the people; also a

ram as a burnt offering for himself, and a ram as a burnt offering for the



(2) After washing and arraying himself in white linen garments (not the

ordinary official dress), he cast lots on the two goats which were for the

people’s sin offering — one lot being “for the LORD,” the other “for

Azazel (scapegoat)  - Leviticus 16:8 - that on which the former lot fell

being for sacrifice,  the other to be set free.


(3) He sacrificed his own sin offering, entered the holy place with the blood

thereof, filled a censer with burning coals from the golden altar, went with

it within the veil, sprinkling incense on the coals, “that the cloud of the

incense may cover the mercy-seat, that he die not”  (Ibid. v. 13); took also

the blood within the veil, and sprinkled the mercy-seat therewith.


(4) He returned outside the tabernacle, sacrificed the people’s sin offering,

i.e. the goat that was “for the LORD,” entered the holy place with its

blood, and proceeded as before; sprinkling also the altar of incense, as well

as the mercy-seat, with the blood of both sacrifices, to “hallow it from the

uncleanness of the children of Israel.”  (Ibid. v. 19)


(5) He again returned outside the tabernacle, laid his hands on the head of

the goat “for Azazel,” confessing over him “all the iniquities of the children

of Israel, putting them on the head of the goat,” and sent him away to the

wilderness, where he was to be let go.  (Ibid. v. 21)


(6) He again entered the tabernacle, where he put off his linen garments,

and left them there, and then, after washing again, and putting on his

ordinary official dress, sacrificed his own and the people’s burnt offering.


(7) The bodies of the two sin offerings (the bullock and the slain goat)

were taken outside the camp, and there entirely consumed by fire. The

points in this ceremonial here especially noted are:


a.       That the entrance within the veil was only “once in the year,” i.e. on

one only day in the year; for on that day the high priest entered more

than once. The meaning is that ordinarily, except on that single day,

approach to the innermost shrine was closed to all.


b.      That even on that day the high priest alone entered; neither the

people, nor even the priesthood generally, ever had approach

to the holiest of all.


c.       That even he could not enter “without blood” (v. 7), neither the

daily sacrifices nor all the ordinary ceremonial of the Law availed

for his access:  he must take with him the blood of special sin

offerings, or he still could not enter and live.


d.      This blood he offered “for himself and for the ignorances of the

people”  (Ibid.), for himself, since he too was “compassed with

infirmity,” (ch. 5:2) and required atonement (Ibid.), and also for

the people’s ignorances.  There is a significance in this word. It was

not the sins done with a high hand that had to be atoned for on that

day; these were either visited by “cutting off,”or atoned for in ways

appointed for the purpose: it was the less definite and undetected

sinfulness, infecting the whole community, and remaining after

all ceremonial cleansing, so as to debar them from coming “boldly

to the throne of grace”  (ch. 4:16), that was yearly kept in

remembrance on the Day of Atonement. Hence before even

the high priest could enter and not die, the mercy-seat over

“the testimony” which was within the ark must be enveloped

with the cloud of incense and sprinkled with the blood which

“covereth sin” (the verb translated “make atonement for” means

properly “cover”). The sin was still not taken away, only “covered”

for the time; for the holy of holies after the ceremony remained

closed as before, and the same rites had to be repeated at each

yearly entrance. All that was expressed was an ever-recurring

need of atonement, not yet effected truly, though symbolically



The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all (so the

Authorized Version, giving the idea correctly, though the expression is simply

τῶν ἁγίων – ton hagion – of the holiest, which might denote only the holy

place, as in v. 2, if we there read ἅγια – hagia – holy place and not ἁγία (holy),

but is used for the holy of holies in vs. 24-25, and for its heavenly antitype in

v. 13.  This last, as typified in the earthly sanctuary, is what is intended here)

hath not yet been made manifest, while as the first tabernacle is yet standing

(or rather, has standing (ἐχούσης στάσιν – echousaes stasin – having standing);

has a place in the symbolical representation). The “first tabernacle” here spoken

of certainly does not mean the earthly one as opposed to the heavenly, but what

the expression denotes throughout the chapter, the holy place in distinction from

the holy of holies. How, then, is the continued existence of this a sign that the

way to the heavenly holy of holies has not yet been made manifest? Obviously

because it intervenes between the congregation and the holy of holies of

the earthly tabernacle, debarring all approach to the latter, and even hiding

it from their view. This debarring intervention signifies that there is no

approach for them as yet to what the holy of holies symbolizes. Further,

the ordinary ministry of the priests themselves did not extend beyond this

“first tabernacle:” this alone was the sphere of the services which they

accomplished daily; and so the very fact of its existing for this purpose

expressed that even their mediation was not availing for access to the inner

mercy-seat. And that this was so is intimated with peculiar significance by

the direction that, when the high priest alone entered within the veil, none

even of them should be in the holy place at all, so as to see beyond it: “And

there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth

in to make an atonement in the holy place” (Leviticus 16:17).


9 “Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered

both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect,

as pertaining to the conscience;”  Which (ἥτις – haetis - which, with its usual force)

is a parable for the time present (i.e. present as regarded from the standpoint of the

old dispensation. The Authorized Version, translating “then present,” and using

past tenses throughout, though departing from literalism, still gives, we conceive,

the idea correctly); according to which (referring to “parable,” if we adopt

the best-supported reading, καθ’ ἣν – kath’ haen – in which. The Textus Receptus,

followed by the Authorized Version, has καθ ‘ον – kath hon – according to

which - referring to “the time”) are offered both gifts and sacrifices (compare v.1),

which cannot, as pertaining to the conscience, make him that doth the service

(or, “the worshipper,” the idea not being confined to the officiating priest;

compare ch.10:2, where τοὺς λατρεύοντας  - tous latreuontas - the worshippers;

the ones offering Divine service) perfect. The emphatic expression here is

κατὰ συνείδησιν – kata suneidaesin – according to; pertaining to the conscience.

The gifts and sacrifices of the Law availed in themselves only for external

ceremonial purification; they did not reach, however typical, the sphere of

man’s inner consciousness; they could not bring about that SENSE OF

SPIRITUAL ACCORD WITH GOD which is spoken of in Jeremiah 31

as marking the new covenant (see below, vs. 13-14).



The Parabolic Function of the Tabernacle Services (v. 9)


The tabernacle, with its contents and its institutions, was one great parable

embracing and uniting many subordinate parables. A parable looking

towards the time of the new covenant — the “present time,” as the writer

calls it; or, as we might even more closely render it, the impending season.

For in God’s economy the new state of things is to be ever looked at as

IMPENDING!   So Christ would have us, who rejoice in His first advent, to be

ever making ready for His second one. And in the same way the men of the

old covenant had to be on the lookout for the initiation of the new.

Rejoicing in what Moses had given them, they looked eagerly for what

Messiah had to give; and in the mean time Moses had given them parables

through the eye, even as in after times Christ gave His disciples parables in

words. Such mode was suitable for the time and the purpose. What

parabolic teaching was there, then, in the tabernacle and the things

connected with it?



family had its tent, and Jehovah’s tent was in the midst of all, a center of

unity, protection, and glory. Jehovah was the Companion of His people in

all their pilgrimage and vicissitudes. It is only as we recollect this that we

get at the full significance of John’s expression concerning the Word

becoming flesh and tabernacling among us, full of grace and truth (John

1:14). The glory that belonged to the tabernacle was thus a parable of the

Incarnation glory.



BETWEEN GOD AND MAN. It was dangerous for a man to meddle in

Divine things according to his own inclination and his own wisdom. Yet he

could not stand aside and neglect Divine things altogether. Such a course

was equally dangerous with the other. But if he would only submit to the

way of Jehovah’s appointment, attending to every detail, and striving to

comprehend the undoubted purpose in it, then he-was assuredly in the way

of safety. He was doing what God wanted him to do with the resources

then within his reach. And though an obedience of this kind, an obedience

in certain external rites, could not take away all trouble of conscience, yet

when a man comprehended that Jehovah had even this in view, he would

feel that what he enjoyed not now he would enjoy hereafter. Though the

blood of bulls and goats could not put away sin and wash out the heart’s

deep defilement, yet the blood-shedding was not in vain, if it intimated the

coming of something that would take away sin.


  • THE POSSIBILITY OF REAL SERVICE. In itself, the elaborate

ritual of the tabernacle was nothing. Save as it was parabolic and

provocative of hope and aspiration, it could not be called other than a

waste of time. “What mean ye by this service?” was a question which might

well be put to every Levitical person every day.  But when the service of the

high priest looked forward to the sacrificial cleansing service of Christ in

perpetuity, and when the service of all the subordinate attendants looked

forward to the daily obedience of Christians, faithful in little things, then

assuredly the service of the tabernacle gets lifted above a mechanical

routine. Under the old covenant, a whole tribe, separated for ritual

observance, serving Jehovah in formal religious ordinances, was thereby

serving, not only a nation, but all mankind.  Serving God in appearance,

the Levite served men in reality. Now, under the new covenant, we serve

God in serving men. The Christian, because he is a Christian, has most

power of all men to serve his brother man.


10 “Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and

carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.”

Rendered in Authorized Version,” Which stood only in (μόνον ἐπὶ - monon

epi – only in) meats and drinks and divers washings, and carnal ordinances

[και δικαιωμασιν σαρκος – kai dikaiomasion sarkos – carnal ordinances –

 Textus Receptus], imposed on them (ἐπικείμενα – epikeimena – imposed on

them; placed on; lie on) until the time of reformation.” This is a satisfactory

rendering of the Textus Receptus, ἐπὶ before “meats,” etc., being taken in the

sense of dependence, and ἐπικείμενα necessarily as agreeing with “gifts and

sacrifices” (δῶρά τε καὶ θυσίαι – dora te kai thusiai – both gifts and sacrifices)

in v. 9. But there are other readings, though none, any more than that of the

Textus Receptus, to be decidedly preferred on the mere ground of manuscript

authority. The best sense seems to be given by that of δικαιώματα (ordinances)

instead of και δικαιωμασιν, so that we may render (ἐπὶ being taken in the sense

of addition), Being only (with meats and drinks and divers washings) carnal

ordinances, imposed until the time of reformation. We thus have an obvious

neuter plural (δικαιώματα) for ἐπικείμενα to agree with, and we avoid the

assertion that the “gifts and sacrifices” of the Law “stood only” in “meats,”

etc. This was not so; their essential part was blood-shedding (αἱματεκχυσίας

haimatekchusias – shedding of blood -  v. 22) the other things here mentioned

were but accompaniments and appendages. The “meats and drinks” spoken of

may refer mainly to the distinctions between clean and unclean viands, which

we know were made such a point of by the Jews of the apostolic ago (compare

Colossians 2:16-23; Romans 14.; I Corinthians 8.; also Mark 7:15). The “diverse

washings” (βαπτισμοῖς – baptismois – dippings; washings, baptizings)

may be taken to include both the ablutions of the priests before sacrifice,

and those enjoined on the people in many parts of the Law after ceremonial

defilement, which kind of washings had been further multiplied variously

in the traditional law (compare Mark 7:3-4,8).



Arrangements of the First Covenant (vs. 1-10)


The Epistle to the Hebrews is the New Testament Leviticus. In itself, the

book of the Jewish ritual is rather dry reading. “Nothing can well be duller

or more dingy than the appearance of a stained-glass cathedral window to

one who is looking on it from the outside of the building; but, when you

enter and gaze at it from within, the whole is aglow with beauty” (Dr.

W.M. Taylor). Now, from this Epistle we learn to read Leviticus with the

bright gospel sunlight for a background, and we thus discover how rich

that ancient Scripture is, in instruction regarding the way of access to God,

and the means of fellowship with Him.


  • THE HEBREW SANCTUARY. (vs. 1-5.) The tabernacle was the

Divine palace, the symbol of Jehovah’s residence among His ancient people.

There was a gracious presence of God in Israel which other nations did not

enjoy. Mention is made here of the two chambers of the sacred tent, each

of which had a “veil” covering the entrance, and of the principal articles of

furniture in these two chambers respectively.


Ø      The holy place. (v. 2.) This anterior apartment was oblong in shape,

being thirty feet in length, fifteen in width, and fifteen in height.

Three articles are named as belonging to it.


o       The lamp-stand (candlestick): symbol of the spiritual light

which Christ imparts to His Church.

o       The table, with

o       the shewbread: symbol of the spiritual meat provided by God

to strengthen for His service.


Ø      The holy of holies. (vs. 3-5.) This innermost recess of the sanctuary,

separated from the outer chamber by a richly wrought curtain, was the

dwelling-place of Jehovah. It was a smaller apartment than the other,

measuring fifteen feet in length, breadth, and height, and thus forming

a perfect square. Seven things are named as belonging to it.


o       The golden censer. Whether we understand by this the altar

of incense itself, which stood in the holy place close to

“the second veil,” or the actual censer which was carried from

the altar into the holy of holies on the Day of Atonement —

in either case the symbol is that of the heart’s devotion.


o       The ark. This was the most sacred piece of furniture in the

tabernacle; indeed, the purpose of the whole structure was

just to accommodate the ark, as the central symbol of the

presence and majesty of the covenant God of Israel.


o       The pot of manna: emblem of the true Bread from heaven,


§         feeds the mind with truth,

§         the conscience with righteousness, and

§         the heart with love.


o       Aaron’s staff: a type of the intransferable priesthood of Christ,

and a symbol of the spiritual priesthood of believers.


o       The two tables of the Law: the revelation to the Jews of

righteous will, which should be written on the hearts of men.


o       The cherubim: representing the angels, and surrounding the

luminous cloud of “glory” which appeared above the ark.


o       The mercy-seat: the footstool of God, and the propitiatory

lid of the ark; which, sprinkled with atoning blood, covered

the sins of the people, by concealing from the Divine eye the

Law which they had violated. The Hebrew sanctuary in its

innermost symbolism thus represented the wondrous scheme

of redemption. It shows us God’s throne of grace

standing upon His righteousness (Psalm 85:10).


  • ITS SERVICES. (vs. 6-7.) While the outer court of the tabernacle

was open to the whole congregation of Israel, except to such as might at

any time be ceremonially unclean, only the sons of Aaron were allowed to

minister at the altar, or within the sanctuary proper.


Ø      The holy place was for the daily ministration of the ordinary priests.

(v. 6.) Their duties were such as these: They sprinkled the blood of the

sin offerings before the “second veil;” they lighted and fed and trimmed

the seven lamps of the candelabrum; they offered incense upon the

golden altar; they changed the shewbread every sabbath day.


Ø      The holy of holies was for the annual ministration of the high priest

alone. (v. 7.) None of the ordinary priests ever dared to enter the inner

sanctuary, or even to look into it. And even the high priest could only do

so on one day in the year — on the great annual fast day, the Day of

Atonement. In the course of that day, however, he went into the holy of

holies at least three times:


    • first, with the censer and incense;
    • secondly, with the blood of the bullock, for his own and the priests’

sins; and,

o       thirdly, with the blood of the goat, for the people’s sins.


He went in “not without blood,” the presentation of the blood being

necessary to the completion of the sacrifice.


  • THE SIGNIFICANCE OF BOTH. (vs. 8-10.) These verses remind

us that the institutions of Judaism were established by the Holy Spirit

Himself as a symbol of Old Testament facts, and as a pre-figuration of the

privileges of the new covenant spoken of in ch. 8:8-12. It was not

Moses who ordained the Levitical ceremonial; it was the Holy Ghost. And

by this means the Spirit taught the great truth that on the ground of nature

access to God is barred for all sinful men; and that even under the “first

covenant” of grace this blessing was only most imperfectly realized. The

division of the sacred tent into two apartments, and the exclusion of the

ordinary priests from the holy of holies, illustrated the great defect of the

old covenant. The nature of the services, too, reflected its imperfections.

The rites of Judaism cleansed the body from ceremonial defilement; but

they could not wash the soul from sin. They involved, indeed, a continual

remembrance of sins, rather than a putting away of sins forever. And yet,

notwithstanding this, the tabernacle-worship was a bright promise and

prophecy of the “opening of the kingdom of heaven to all believers” at the

time of rectification foretold by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34).


11 “But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a

greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to

say, not of this building;  12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves,

but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having

obtained eternal redemption for us.”  But Christ having come (παραγενόμενος

paragenomenos – being come; coming along - compare Matthew 3:1; Luke 12:51)

a High Priest (or, as High Priest) of the good things to come, through the greater

and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this

creation (κτίσεως – ktiseos – creation; building), nor yet through the blood of

 goats and calves, but through His own blood, entered in once for all (ἐφάπαξ –

ephapax – once for all) into the holy place, having obtained (εὑράμενος

heuramenos – obtained; finding, not necessarily antecedent to εἰσῆλθεν –

eisaelthen – He entered) eternal redemption. On the futurity expressed (here and

ch. 10:1) by “the good things to come” (the reading μελλόντων – mellonton –

impending – being preferred to γενομένων – genomenon - to come), see under

ch.1:1  (ἐπ. ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡµερῶν τούτων - ep eschatou ton haemeron touton –

in these last days) and ch.2:5 (τὴν οἰκουµένην τὴν µέλλουσαν – taen oikoumenaen 

taen mellousan – literally the inhabited earth the impending). Here, certainly, the

period of the earthly tabernacle having been the temporal standpoint in all the

preceding verses, futurity with regard to it may, without difficulty, be understood;

and hence “the good things” may still be regarded as such as have already come in

Christ. On the other hand, there is no difficulty in regarding them as still future.

For the full and final result of even Christ’s perfected high priesthood is not yet

come. But what is “the greater and more perfect tabernacle,” through

which He entered the heavenly holy of holies? It seems evidently, in the first

place, to be connected with εἰσῆλθεν (He entered), being regarded as the antitype

of that first tabernacle” through which the high priests on earth had passed in

order to enter within the veil; διὰ - dia – through; by -  having here a local, not

an instrumental, sense. The instrumental sense of the same preposition in the next

clause (διὰ δὲ τοῦ ἰδίου αἵµατος – dia de tou idiou haimatos – but by His own blood)

is not against this view. In English, “through His own blood He entered through the

tabernacle” presents no difficulty, though “through” is used in two different senses.

But what is exactly meant by the tabernacle through which Christ has passed?

Bearing in mind what was said under ch.8:2 of the prophetic visions of a heavenly

temple — corresponding to the earthly one — and that the epithet

ἀχειροποίητος – acheiropoiaetos – made without hands -  is applied also (v. 24)

by implication to the counterpart of the holy of holies, and also the expression

(ch.4:14), “having passed through the heavens (διεληλυθότα τοὺς οὐρανούς

dielaeluthota tous ouranous – One having passed through the heavens),” we may

regard it as denoting the heavenly region beyond this visible sphere of

things (οὐ ταύτης τῆς κτίσεως – ou tautaes taes ktiseos – not of this building;

not of this creation), intervening between the latter and the immediate presence,

or “face,” of God. Thus “through the greater and more perfect tabernacle” of this

verse answers to “having passed through the heavens” of ch.4:14; and “entered

once for all into the holy place” of v. 12 to “entered into heaven itself” (the very

heaven) of v. 24. Thus also the symbolical acts of the Day of Atonement are

successively, and in due order, fulfilled. As the high priest first sacrificed

the sin offering outside the tabernacle, and then passed through the holy to

the holy of holies, so Christ first offered Himself in this mundane sphere of

things, and then passed through the heavens to the heaven of heavens.

Thus, the former (τὰ ἅγια – ta hagia – holy place) is that eternal heaven of God

Himself (αὐτὸν τὸν οὐρανόν – auton ton ouranon – the heaven itself) which is

His own self-manifested eternal glory (John 17:5), and existed before all worlds;

the latter (ἡ σκηνὴ - hae skaenae – a tabernacle) is the heaven of the

blessed, in which He shines upon His creatures in ‘the light of love’ — ‘the

temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven’ of Revelation 15:5,

which the apocalyptic seer beheld filled with incense-smoke from ‘the glory

of God, and from His power.’  There are other views of what is meant by

“the greater and more perfect tabernacle.” The most notable, as being that

of Chrysostom and the Fathers generally, is that it means Christ’s human

nature, which He assumed before passing to the throne of the Majesty on

high. This view is suggested by His having Himself spoken of the temple of

His body (John 2:21), and calling it, if the “false witnesses” at his trial

reported him truly, ἀχειροποίητον – acheiropoiaeton – not made by hands -

(Mark 14:58); by the expression (John 1:14), “The Word was made flesh, and

tabernacled (ἐσκνωσεν  – eskaenosen - tabernacled) among us;” by Paul’s

speaking of the human body as a tabernacle (II Corinthians 5:1, 4); and by

ch. 10:19-20, where the “veil” through which we have “a new and living way

into the holy place through the blood of Jesus” is said to be His flesh. There is

thus abundant ground for thinking of Christ’s body as signified by a tabernacle;

and the expression in (Ibid.) goes some way to countenance such an interpretation

here. The objection to it is that it seems neither suggested by the context nor

conformable to the type of the high priest on the Day of Atonement. For, if the

human body of Christ assumed at His birth is meant, He entered into that before,

not after, His atoning sacrifice; and if we think rather of His glorified body, in

what sense in accordance with the type can it be said that He entered

through it? We should rather say that He ascended with it to the right hand

of God. The further points of contrast between Christ’s entrance and that

of the earthly high priests are:

(1) The instrumental medium was not the blood of goats and calves

(specified here as having been the sin offerings on the Day of Atonement),

but His own blood; He was both Priest and Victim.

(2) He entered, not yearly, but ONCE FOR ALL there was no need of

continual repetition. And the conclusion is drawn that the redemption He thus

wrought is consequently COMPLETE and ETERNAL!  The first of these

contrasts is enlarged on from vs. 13-24;  the second denoted by ἐφάπαξ (once

for all) is taken up at v. 25. On the word (λύτρωσιν lutrosin - redemption:

in some other passages apolutrosis – redemption; deliverance)

it is to be observed that it means, according to its etymology, release obtained

by payment of a ransom (λύτρον – lutron - ransom), and thus in

itself involves the doctrine of atonement according to the orthodox view. It

is true that in many Scripture passages it is used (as also λυτροῦσθαι

lutrousthai – he would redeem – Luke 24:21 and λυτρωτὴνς – lutrotaens –

 deliverer  Acts 7:35) in a more general sense to express deliverance only,

but never where the redemption of mankind by Christ is spoken of. In such

cases the λύτρον (ransom) is often distinctly specified, as in Matthew 20:28

and Mark 10:45, “His life;” in I Timothy 2:6 and Titus 2:14, “Himself;” in

Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; I Peter 1:19, “His blood;” compare

also infra, v. 14. As to how the availing power of the atonement is to be

understood, more will be said under the verses that follow.

The Preeminent Priesthood (vs. 11-12)

But Christ being come a High Priest of good things to come,” etc. Our

Lord is here represented as the preeminent High Priest in three respects.

Ø      The temple in which He ministers is itself preeminent. He has

“entered in once for all into the holy place.” He ministers in the

true holy of holies, of which the Jewish one was only a figure.

He is not in the symbolized, but in the veritable and immediate

presence of God. “A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true

tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.”  (ch. 8:2)

Christ entered not into a holy place made with hands, like

in pattern to the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear

before the face of God for us.”  (v. 24)

Ø      The access to this temple is preeminent. The Jewish high priest

entered the holy of holies through the holy place. Our Lord passed

into the true holy of holies “through the greater and more perfect

tabernacle, not made with hands.” It seems to us that “the greater

and more perfect tabernacle”cannot mean either:

o       our Lord’s human body or His human nature; or

o       His holy life, “His perfect inward fulfillment of the Law;” or

o       His glorified body; or

o       the Church on earth.

No interpretation of this part of our text is without its difficulties;

but that which seems to us to be the true one is, that He passed

through the visible heavens as through an outer sanctuary into the

inner sanctuary of “heaven itself.” Our “great High Priest hath

passed through the heavens” (ch.4:14), and “sat down on the right

hand of the Majesty on high.”  (ch. 1:3)  The outer sanctuary of the

Jewish temple was “made with hands,” small and imperfect; but the

heavens which Christ passed through were created by the Divine fiat,



blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered in ONCE

FOR ALL into the holy place.” The entering in through blood refers to the

blood which the high priests took into the holy of holies to “make an

atonement” (compare Leviticus 16:14-16). Christ is represented as entering

the heavenly sanctuary through blood. Not literally, but figuratively, must

we accept this. He complied with the condition of entrance into the perfect

sanctuary as our great High Priest. He made atonement for sin previous to

His appearing before the face of God for us.” But, unlike the Aaronic high

priests, he needed not to make atonement for Himself. For us and for all

men He made the preeminent atonement — the perfect atonement. How?

Ø      By the sacrifice of the highest life. Not animal, but human life. Not a

sinful or imperfect human life, but a pure, holy, perfect one. He gave

His own life — the undefiled, the highest, the sublimest, the

supremely beautiful life — as an ATONEMENT for the sin of the


Ø      By the voluntary sacrifice of the highest life. Christ did not die as an

unwilling Victim. He freely gave Himself for us. “I lay down my life,

that I may take it again. No one taketh it away from me,” etc. (John

10:17-18). “Through His own blood,” which was willingly shed for us,

He effected human redemption, and then ascended to His mediatorial


Ø      He has obtained ETERNAL REDEMPTION for us. Man was in

bondage.  Wicked powers had enslaved him. He was the thrall of

corrupt passions and sinful habits; “sold under sin” (Romans 7:14);

“the slave of sin” (John 8:34; Romans 6:20); the “bond-servant of

corruption.”  (II Peter 2:19)  Christ redeemed man from this bondage.

He paid our ransom price.  “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible

things, with silver or gold; but with precious blood, as of a lamb

without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ.” (I Peter

1:18-19)  He is the great Emancipator. He “proclaims liberty to the

captives, and the opening of the prison to the bound.”  (Luke 4:18)

He delivers from the condemnation, from the guilt, from the defilement,

and from the sovereignty of sin. If the Son shall make you free, ye

shall be free indeed.”  (John 8:36)  And this redemption is ETERNAL!

Its benefits endure forever. It introduces man into everlasting liberty

and light, and starts him upon a career of endless progress and


Ø      He is a High Priest of the good things to come.These good things are

the blessings of the gospel age, the privileges which Christians now enjoy.

Under the former covenant they were in the future; now they are a present

possession. They who lived during that dispensation had the figures of

gospel blessings; we have the very blessings themselves. But there is more

than that here. Christ is a High Priest of good things yet to come. There

are blessings which we hope for in the future, and shall obtain through

His glorious priesthood. We look forward to the time when we shall

enter upon “the inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled,” etc.

(I Peter 1:4-5).  The blessings which flow to man from His priesthood

are INEXHAUSTIBLE and INFINITE. Through Him there will

ever be “good things to come” for those who by faith are interested

in His gracious and blessed mediation.

The Eternal Redemption (v. 12)

One cannot but be struck with the occurrence three times within four

verses of the word “eternal.” There is:

Ø      the eternal redemption,

Ø      the eternal Spirit, and

Ø       the eternal inheritance.

The change from the old covenant to the new was also an escape from the temporary

to the abiding. In the old covenant there had to be a constant succession of things,

each lasting for a little time, and then by the nature of it giving way, and needing

something new to fill its place. “Now,” the writer of this Epistle seems to say, “all

good things have become eternal.” And first there is THE ETERNAL

REDEMPTION.   By contrast, then, we have to think of:

redemption and ransom happily an unfamiliar one to us. But there was a

time when people perfectly comprehended the continual risk to themselves

and their property from the attacks of strong robber-tribes, who would

take a man away and keep him in captivity till his friends provided a

ransom. And that ransom did only for the special occasion; there might

come another captivity which would need its own ransom. So it was with

the services of the old covenant. At no time was Israel allowed to think

that enough of beasts had been slain on the altar. No sooner was one

accumulation of defilement cleansed away than another began to appear.

And thus, also, no sooner did the priest wipe away the blood of one beast

than he began to make ready for shedding the blood of another. The task

was endless, and no satisfaction or peace came out of it, save the

satisfaction of knowing that if this redemption had not been attended to,

things would have been infinitely worse.

all into the holy place, and there He remains in perpetual and profoundly

fruitful mediation between God and man. How different from the Jewish

priest, slaying his victim, and then before long asking for another! The

whole conditions of sacrifice and obedience are altered. Under the old

covenant the people themselves had to provide the sacrifices; but now

Jesus comes, providing the sacrifice Himself, not asking us to do anything

save to accept, humbly and gratefully, THE COMPLETENESS OF

HIS OWN SERVICE!  We cannot provide an eternal redemption for

ourselves. All we can do is to escape for the time, and tomorrow we must

face tomorrow’s dangers.  What a grand thing to understand in our very


not ungrateful for the temporary redemptions of life, and the minor redeemers;

but we must ever take care lest, in our natural solicitude for these matters, we


 If we are safe in vital union with Him, then what are all other captivities and all

other losses?

13 “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer

sprinkling the unclean (κεκοινωµένους – kekoinomenous – ones having  been

contaminated; the unclean compare Matthew 15:11, etc.; Acts 21:28),,

sanctifieth to the purifying (literally, unto the purity, καθαρότητα – katharotaeta –

 purifying; cleanness) of the flesh:”  In addition to the sin offerings of the Day of

Atonement, mention is here made of the red heifer, whose ashes were to be mixed

with water for the purification of such as had been ceremonially defiled by contact

with dead bodies (for account of which see Numbers 19.). They are classed together

because both were general sin offerings for the whole congregation, representing the

idea of continual and unavoidable defilements notwithstanding all the daily

sacrifices; the difference between them being that the ashes were reserved

for use in known cases of constantly recurring defilement, the sin offerings

on the Day of Atonement were for general sin and defilement, known or

unknown. But neither, in themselves, could from their very nature avail for

more than outward ceremonial cleansing — “ the purity of the flesh.” This,

however, they did avail for; and, if so, what must the cleansing power of

Christ’s offering be? Its deeper efficacy shall appear from consideration of

what it was.

14 “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through

the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purify your

conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”  As in vs. 11-12

Christ’s entrance was contrasted with that of the high priest, so here

is the sacrifice itself, in virtue of which He entered, similarly contrasted.

The points of contrast to which attention is drawn are these:

(1) It was the blood, not of beasts that perish, but of Christ Himselfthe

Christ, the Hope of Israel, whose Divine prerogatives have been set forth

in the preceding chapters.

(2) He offered Himself. His offering was a voluntary self-oblation, not the

blood-shedding of passive victims.

(3) His offering was realty “spotless” (ἄµωµον – amomon – without blemish) in the

sense of sinless — the only sense that can satisfy Divine justice — symbolized only

by  the absence of material blemish in the ancient sacrifices.

(4) And this He did “through the eternal Spirit.” This expression, which

comes first in order, has an important bearing on the meaning of the whole

passage, and calls for especial consideration. Be it observed, first, that the

words are “the eternal Spirit,” not “the Holy Spirit.” It is not the usual

designation of the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. (The reading ἅγιου –

hagiou – holy -  for αἰωνίουaioniou – eternal; eonian - has not much authority

in its favor, and is, besides, much more likely to have been substituted than the other.)

What, then, is meant by “the eternal Spirit,” through which Christ offered Himself

spotless? There are three notable texts in which the Spirit in Christ is opposed to the

flesh: Romans 1:3, τοῦ γενομνου ἐκ σπρματος Δαυὶδ κατὰ σρκα τοῦ ὁρισθντος

υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνμει, κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσνης, ἐξ ἀναστσεως νεκρῶν – tou

genomenou ek spermatos David kata sarka tou horisthentos huiou Theou en dunamei

kata pneuma hagiosunaes ex anastaseos nekron – which was made of the seed of

David according to the flesh and declared to be the Son of God with power,

according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.  I Timothy 3:16,

ἐφανερθη ἐν σαρκί, ἐδικαιθη ἐν πνεματι – ephanerothae en sarki, edikaiothae

en pneumati – was manifested in the flesh, was justified in the spirit.  I Peter 3:18,

θανατωθεὶς μὲν σαρκί, ζῳοποιηθεὶς δὲ πνεματι – thanatotheis men sarki,

zoopointheis de pneumati – being put to death in flesh, but quickened by the

spirit.  In all these passages the Spirit is that Divine element of life in Christ,

distinct from the human nature which He assumed of the seed of David, in virtue

of which He rose from the dead. In us men, too, according to Paul, there is the

πνεῦµα – pneuma – spirit - as well as σαρξ sarx – flesh - and ψυχὴ - psuche – soul -  

(sometimes  πνεῦµα and σαρξ alone are spoken of) — the higher principle of life

within us,  in virtue of which we can have communion with God and be influenced

by His Holy Spirit. Any act of acceptable sell oblation that we might be capable of

would be done through the spirit that is in us, to which the flesh is subdued.

Corresponding to this in Christ was “the eternal Spirit” — a truly Divine spiritual

Personality, conjoined with His assumed humanity. Through this He overcame death,

it being impossible that He should be holden of it (Acts 2:24); through this, too He

offered Himself a willing sacrifice, submitting to the full penalty of human sin in

obedience to the Father’s will. Thus is prominently brought to view the

spiritual aspect of the atonement. Its especial virtue is said to lie, not in the

mere suffering or the mere physical blood-shedding and death upon the

cross, but in its being a voluntary act of perfect obedience on the part of

Him who was the Representative of man, and in whom the eternal Spirit”

triumphed over the weakness of humanity. The agony in the garden (see

under v. 7, etc.) is illustrative of this view of the virtue of the atonement.

There we perceive “the eternal Spirit” in the Savior completely victorious

over natural human shrinking. The same view appears in the reference to

Psalm 40 in ch.10., where Lo, I come to do thy will, O God”

expresses the essential principle of the availing sacrifice (see below on

ch. 10:5, etc.). Hence follows what is said next of the effect of

such a sacrifice as this was — to purify, not the flesh, but the conscience

(συνείδησιν – suneidaesin - conscience), meaning “man’s inner consciousness”

with regard to God and our relations to Him. It belonged essentially to the

spiritual sphere of things, and in that sphere (as was not the case with the

old sacrifices) must be, and is felt to be, its availing power. It was, in fact,

just such a sacrifice as man’s conscience, if enlightened, feels to be due to

God. Man, as he is now, cannot make it; but in the “Son of man” he sees it

made, and thus finds at last the idea of a true atonement fulfilled. In the

expression, “dead works,” there may be an intended allusion to the dead

bodies from the pollution of which especially the “ashes of an heifer”

purified; and in “to serve” (εἰς τὸ λατρεύειν – eis to latreuein – into the

to be offering divine service) there is an evident reference to the legal type.

As the legal sin offering purified the flesh from the contamination of

contact with the dead, so that the Israelites, thus cleansed, might offer

acceptable worship, so Christ’s offering of Himself fulfils what was thus

typified; it purifies the “conscience” from the contamination of “dead

works,” so that we may offer our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable

unto God, which is our λογικὴν λατρεαν – logikaen latreian – reasonable;

logical, Divine service - (Romans 12:1). On νεκρῶν ἔργων – nekron ergon –

dead works, see under ch.6:1. Here, the idea of general pollution

pervading the whole congregation having been prominent in what

precedes, we may, perhaps, take the expression as denoting all human

works whatever “done before the grace of Christ and the inspiration of His

Spirit,” all being regarded as tainted with sin, and so dead for the purpose

of justification. The purification from them which is spoken of involves (be

it further observed) both justification through atonement and sanctification

through grace: the first, since, otherwise, the very meaning of the old sin

offerings would not be fulfilled; the second, as denoted by the concluding

clause, “to serve the living God”.  The second is the necessary sequence of the

first.  Believers are not only “cleansed from their former sins,” but also put into

a position for offering an acceptable service. In the life of Christ in whom

they live, and who ever liveth to make intercession for them, they can

henceforth “serve the living God.” There is involved, in fact (to return to

the account of the new covenant in Jeremiah 31.), both:

·         oblivion of past sins and

·         a writing of the Law upon the heart.

Superiority of the New Covenant (vs. 11-14)

The advent of the Messiah has removed the defects suggested by the

Mosaic ritual. He has obtained for the true Israel those great spiritual

blessings which “the first covenant” was powerless to bestow. These verses

indicate various elements of superiority. The new covenant has provided


“Christ,” the Anointed. He has been divinely ordained, equipped, and

accredited. He is a better High Priest than Aaron, because the Minister of a

better dispensation. The “good things” denote the blessings of the new

covenant; and these are described as “to come,” because they had been

always premised and expected in connection with the advent of the

Messiah. How joyful the tidings to our guilty, sin-deflowered, distracted

world, that its true Priest has “come”! He has assumed our nature; He has

lived and died; He has risen and ascended; He has “entered in once for all”

into the true sanctuary.

Hebrews had, doubtless, many excellences. It was a costly erection. Its

arrangements were “a parable” (v. 9) which instructed the Jews in

spiritual truth. The ark was an emblem of the Divine majesty. The cherubic

figures were “cherubim of glory,” for Jehovah dwelt in symbol between

them. Yet, after all, the Jewish tabernacle was only an earthly structure. It

was “made with hands.” But our High Priest ministers in “the greater and

more perfect tabernacle.” The place of His priestly service is the highest

heavens. The true tabernacle is “not of this creation;” it is in the unseen —

in the immediate presence of Jehovah. And the work of Christ there is to

interpose and intercede for His people. Every act of saving power results

directly from the expression of His will, as our Advocate at the bar of God.

result of satisfaction rendered to Divine justice. We are not saved by

receiving Christ’s doctrine, or by observing a Christian ritual, or by

following Christ’s example, or by imbibing moral influence from Him as a

Teacher and Martyr. Christ saves us “by the sacrifice of Himself.” As He

laid down His life for us, and as “the blood is the life  (Deuteronomy

12:23).  He is said to have “entered into the holy place” “through His

own blood.” How much richer and more powerful is this blood than that

which was shed upon the brazen altar of the tabernacle! The latter contained

only the principle of brute life.  But Christ’s is:

Ø      Human blood. Our High Priest is a real man, woman-born — our own

mother’s Son. He is “bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh.” So He

yielded Himself up intelligently and voluntarily as our Sacrifice.

Ø      Holy blood. Jesus “offered Himself without blemish unto God” (v. 14).

His earthly life was absolutely faultless. He is the only perfect specimen

of humanity that has ever lived upon earth — the one “Son of man”

who did not share in HUMAN CORRUPTION and


Ø      Heavenly blood. The Man Christ Jesus had an “eternal Spirit” (v. 14);

i.e. He possessed the Divine nature. He is personally and literally God.

And it is His Deity that gives to His death its marvelous significance.

No creature-blood could atone for our sins; but the sacrifice of Christ

is of infinite value, because there resides in Him “the power of an

endless life.”

concedes that the Levitical sin offerings did purify. One purpose of their

appointment was that they might effect legal or ceremonial cleansing. “The

blood of goats and bulls,” which was presented for the collected guilt of

Israel once a year, consecrated the Jew ceremonially to the worship and

service of Jehovah. In like manner the sprinkling of “the ashes of a red

heifer,” mixed with water, removed legal defilement from the person who

had touched a dead body (Numbers 19:2-9). But the blood of Christ

purifies from a deeper pollution. It cleanses the “conscience.” It is the

God-provided solvent for the stains of sin. It can

“Cleanse the stuff’d bosom of that perilous stuff

Which weighs upon the heart.”

This blood purifies from “dead works” — those deeds which are done by

dead souls, and which, however excellent some of them may appear when

viewed in themselves, are yet of no avail to recommend to the Divine

favor. Under the new covenant the conscience is cleansed so thoroughly

that the service of God becomes a constant joy to the believer’s soul. The

Divine statutes become his “songs,” and he learns to “run in the way of

God’s commandments.”  (Psalm 119:32)

of the Christian salvation are indicated in these verses. Those had not been

“made manifest” under the old covenant.

Ø      Perfect access to God. The subject of access is the nerve-thought of this

whole section of the treatise. The worshipper under the new covenant,

being cleansed through the “one offering” of Christ, is admitted into the

immediate presence of Jehovah. He stands within the “second veil,” that

veil being now “rent in twain” (Matthew 27:51; Romans 5:1-2).

Ø      Full freedom to serve God. (v. 14.) A guilt-stained soul can perform

only “dead works;” but the spirit that is washed in the blood of Christ’s

atonement begins immediately to be of use to its Redeemer. Our High

Priest has shed His blood, not only to render us safe, but to make us holy;

not only to deliver us from God’s wrath, but from our own wickedness.

So soon as Christ destroys “the body of sin” within us, we discover that

it is our “reasonable service” to present our persons “a living sacrifice.”

(Romans 12:1)

Ø      The gift of eternal life. (v. 12.) The gospel salvation redeems both

soul and body, finally and for ever. It saves, not only from the curse

of the Law, but from all evil. “Eternal redemption” expresses the

sum total of the benefits which accrue from Christ’s mediation, and

includes the consummation of the plan of grace in the heavenly

world. It denotes “the salvation which is in Christ Jesus,


Ceremonial and Spiritual Cleansing (vs. 13-14)

teaches the moral defilement of man. Both under the Mosaic and under the

Christian dispensation the impurity was moral. But in the earlier

dispensation the external and ceremonial uncleanness was made most

conspicuous. A very small thing led to this defilement. If a man unwittingly

walked over a grave, or touched a dead human body, he was accounted

unclean seven days (compare Numbers 19:11-22). This was designed as a

parable of spiritual uncleanness. It was intended to lead men to feel the

contamination of sin. So in the Christian economy it is the internal and

moral impurity that is exhibited, and the need of spiritual cleansing that is




us two methods, that of the Mosaic economy and that of the Christian,

the ceremonial and the spiritual.

ü      Both were of Divine origin.

ü      Both involved sacrifice as an essential element.

But in other respects these methods were widely different. Let us notice

the method:

Ø      In the earlier dispensation.

o       The sacrifices were of animal life. “The blood of goats and

of bulls, and the ashes of a heifer.”

o       The application of the sacrifices was external or corporeal.

The use of the blood of goats and bulls was external and

visible (Leviticus 16.). The use of the ashes of the red heifer

was external and corporeal (Numbers 19.). Both the sacrifices

themselves and the application of them came within the region

of the senses.

Ø      In the Christian dispensation.

o       As to the sacrifice.

§         It was the sacrifice of a human life. “The blood of

Christ, who…offered Himself.”

§         It was the sacrifice of a holy human life. “Christ

offered Himself without blemish unto God”

(compare ch.7:26-27; I Peter 1:18-19).

§         It was the sacrifice of the holy human life of a

Divine Person. “The blood of Christ, who through

the eternal Spirit offered Himself without

blemish unto God.” By “the eternal Spirit” we

understand, not the Spirit of the Father dwelling

in Christ, nor the Holy Spirit given without measure

to Christ, but the Divine Spirit of the Godhead

which Christ Himself had, and was in His inner

personality. Our Lord’s Divine nature acquiesced

in the redemptive plan and purpose, and contributed

to its fulfillment. It was the blood of Christ; of the

whole and undivided Christ, who was both God

and man. For though a Divine nature could not

bleed and die, a Divine person could. This distinction

is to be kept in mind: for, the person being one, the

acts and sufferings of each nature are the acts and

sufferings of the same person, and are spoken of

interchangeably.  His blood, though not the

blood of God, yet was the blood of Him that was

God.  The chief value of our Savior’s sacrifice was

not in the physical life which was offered,

although that was perfect, but in the spirit in which

it was offered, He shed His blood for us in the spirit

of uttermost and perfect obedience to the

Divine Father, and of willing sacrifice for the

accomplishment of human salvation. And this spirit of

obedience and self-sacrificing love was eternal;

not a transient mood or a temporary feeling, but His

eternal disposition.  The sacrifice of Christ, could only

be offered in the power of eternal spirit. Only the eternal

spirit of absolute love, holiness, wisdom, and compassion

was capable of enduring that sacrificial death.

o       The application of this sacrifice is spiritual. Its efficacy can

be realized only by faith. The redemptive power of the death

of Christ is a spiritual force, and must be spiritually

appropriated. We realize it by the exercise of

faith in Him (Romans 3:24-26).

Ø      The sacrifices of the Jewish ritual were efficacious in producing

ritualistic purity. Doubtless there were persons who, regarding these

sacrifices as types of a far higher sacrifice, and these cleansings as

figures of a spiritual cleansing, derived spiritual and saving benefits

through them.  To these benefits the text does not refer, but to the

national and ceremonial use of these institutions. They “sanctified

unto the cleanness of the flesh.” (v. 13)  By means of them

ceremonial impurity was removed, the separation consequent

upon  that impurity was brought to an end, and the cleansed

person was restored to the congregation of Israel.

Ø      The sacrifice of Christ is far more efficacious in producing spiritual

purity. “How much more shall the blood of Christ cleanse your

conscience?” etc. By “conscience” in this place we do not

understand any one faculty of our spiritual nature, but our entire

moral consciousness in relation to God, our religious soul.

“Dead works” are those which are regarded as meritorious in

themselves, and apart from the disposition and motive which

prompted them. They do not proceed from a heart alive by

faith and love. No living spiritual sentiment breathes through them.

And their influence on the soul is not inspiring, but depressing.

They have no fitness for quickening spiritual affections and powers,

but for crushing and killing them. They, moreover, tend to defile man’s

religious nature. As the touching of a corpse, or the bone of a dead

body, or treading upon a grave, defiled a man under the Mosaic Law,

so the contact of these dead works with man’s soul contaminates it.

The moral influence of the blood of Christ cleanses away this

contamination (compare I John 1:6-9). The holy and infinite love of

God manifested in the death of Christ for us, when it is realized

by us, burns up base passions and impure human affections and

unholy desires. It acts within us as a fervent and purifying fire.

And it inspires the soul for true spiritual service. It “cleanses the

conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” The word

used to express this service indicates its religiousness. It denotes in

the New Testament the priestly consecration and offering up of the

whole man to the service of God. . . the willing priestly offering of

one’s self to God. It does not signify service which is limited to

religious duties, but the performance of every duty and

all duties in a religious spirit. The whole life is consecrated to the

living God, and all its occupations become exalted into a Divine service

(compare I Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17). “How much more,”

then, “shall the blood of Christ?” etc. In the ceremonial cleansings the

connection between the means and the end was merely symbolical

and arbitrary; but in the redemptive influences of the gospel there is a

beautiful and sublime fitness for the accomplishment of their end.

The infinite righteousness and love manifested in the great self-

sacrifice of the Savior are eminently adapted to redeem and purify

man’s soul  from sin, and to inspire and invigorate him for the

willing service of the living God. Our text corrects two errors

concerning the sacrifice of Christ.

o       It corrects the error of those who make the essence of that

sacrifice to consist in the physical sufferings and death

of our Lord. God has no delight in mere pain, or blood-

shedding, or death. In themselves these things cannot be

pleasing to God. It was the spirit in which Christ suffered

and died that made His death a Divine sacrifice and a

mighty power of spiritual redemption.

o       It corrects the error of those who depreciate the expression

of the Divine spirit of self-sacrifice in the life and death of

our Lord. It was morally necessary that He should give

Himself as a sacrifice for us, in order that the mighty

influence of the Divine righteousness and love might be

brought to bear upon us and redeem us. “Behooved it not

the Christ to suffer these things?” “Thus it behooved the

Christ to suffer,” etc. (Luke 24:26, 46-47).

      Christ a Self-Presented Offering to Purify the Consciences of Men

(vs. 13-14)

reminds his readers of a kind of cleansing already practiced by them, and

believed to be efficacious for its purpose. From their point of view, they

had no difficulty in believing that something was really done when defiled

people were sprinkled with the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a

heifer. Whatever had communicated the defilement was thus removed — in

a mysterious way, it is true, and so that there might be no visible sign; but

still there was the feeling and the faith that things were really made

different. If, then, it was so easy to believe that the sacrifice of brute-life

produced such results, what profound and permanent results might not be

expected to flow from the cleansing application of the blood of Christ? For

in the one, case it was the blood of a brute beast poured out and then done

with for ever, available for only one occasion, and needing for the next

occasion that another beast should be slain. But here is the shedding of the


OF CHRIST’S OWN LIFE BY CHRIST HIMSELF!   Surely the writer here

is thinking of something more than the shedding of the blood of Christ’s

natural life on the cross.  He is thinking of what Christ is doing behind the veil,

on the eternal, invisible scene. The work, whatever it is, is the work done by

Christ through an eternal Spirit. He is continually pouring forth His life to

cleanse the consciences of believers. Christ’s death was a passing into the holy

of holies, to go on with the deep realities of which the holiest offerings of the

old covenant were only feeble symbols. The writer of the Epistle, therefore,

wanted his readers to appropriate the ineffably great results of what Christ

was doing.

by faith. Indeed, all the good that could come through any cleansing

ceremony of the old covenant came by faith — often superstitious enough,

no doubt, and having little or no result in the improvement of character;

but still it was faith. Faith was the element keeping these ceremonials in

existence from generation to generation. If nothing more, there was at least

the faith that something dreadful would happen if the ceremonials were

discontinued. If, then, men will only labor to keep themselves in living

connection with the ever-loving Christ, whose life is all the more fruitful

since He vanished from the eye of sense, what great things they may

expect!  Belief in Christ is Christ’s own instrument for cleansing the heart,

so that there may not any more go out of it the things that defile a man.

What wonder that before he closes his Epistle the writer should be so

copious in extolling the triumphs of faith, and enforcing the need of it

in all the relations of Christian life!

15 “And for this cause He is the Mediator of the new testament, that by means

of death (literally, death having taken place), for the redemption of the

transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called

may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”  Here the view of the gospel

as a new διαθήκης – diathaekaes – covenant - (introduced first in Hebrews 7:22,

nd enlarged on in ch. 8:6-13) is again brought in. For the word is still διαθήκης,

though here, for reasons that will appear, rendered “testament” in the Authorized

Version.  The connecting thought here is — It is because of Christ’s sacrifice having

been such as has been described, that He is the Mediator of that new and better

covenant; it qualified Him for being so. A sacrifice, a death, was required

for giving it validity (vs. 16-23), and the character of His sacrifice implies

a better covenant than the old, even such a one as Jeremiah foretold.

Further, the purpose of His death is said to be “for the redemption of the

transgressions that were under the first covenant.” For in the passage of

Jeremiah the defect of the first covenant was based on the transgression of

its conditions by man, while under the new one, such transgressions were

to be no more remembered. But this could not be without atonement for

them; the whole ceremonial of the Law signified this; and also that such

atonement could not be except by death. The death of Christ satisfied this

requirement; and so the new covenant could come in. So far the course of

thought is clear. Nor is there difficulty in understanding the purport of v. 18, etc.,

taken by itself, where the “blood-shedding” that inaugurated the

first covenant is regarded as typical of that of Christ in the inauguration of

the new one. But there is a difficulty about the intervening verses (vs.16-17),

arising from the apparent use of the word διαθήκη in a new sense, not

otherwise suggested — that of testament rather than covenant. The verses

are, as given in the Authorized Version.

The Eternal Inheritance (v. 15)

which was connected with the old covenant. This land could only be called

an inheritance in a typical sense, for the satisfactions which Israel was

taught to expect did not come in reality. For as the blood of bulls and goats

could not take away sin, so neither could any mere terrestrial possession

ever satisfy a human spirit. This land was but the standing-ground for a

time, the place of discipline and revelation. It is always necessary to show

by a sufficient experience and consideration the inadequacy of earthly

things for those whose proper kinship is with heaven; and the more clearly

this inadequacy appears, the more clearly will it appear that somewhere

there must be something entirely satisfying. The earthly inheritance proved

to Israel a constant scene of struggle, temptation, and loss; and if, by some

happy period of lull, an Israelite had something that might not untruly be

called satisfaction out of his inheritance, yet the day came when he had to

leave it. (“For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can

carry nothing out.”  - I Timothy 6:7)  The inheritance was a more abiding

thing than the possessor.  Thus, in any message of comfort from God to His

people, it could not fail to be pointed out that the best of earthly possessions

fall far short of what a loving God intends for His separated and obedient


inheritance may well be considered in a twofold aspect. It may be

considered as something within us, and also as something without. The

Israelite possession of the land of Canaan would have deserved something

nearer the name of reality if only the Israelite had been first of all in

possession of himself. But he was at the mercy of his lusts and selfish

inclinations. Real self-possession means heart-submission to God. If we

would enter on the real and satisfying inheritance, God must first of all

enter upon His proper inheritance in us. Self-control, which suggests

something like the caging of a wild beast, must be exchanged for self-

surrender.   (Why?  Because we end up like the man in Luke 11:24-25-

“When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through

dry places, seeking rest and finding none,  He saith, I will return

unto my house whence I came out.  And when he cometh, he

findeth it swept and garnished.  Then goeth he and taketh to him

seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in,

and dwell there:  and thee last state of that man is worse than the

first.”  - So much for self-help!  CY – 2014)  But when Christ

redeems and cleanses us effectively,  then are we ready for that eternal

inheritance, which is also external. Christ only can redeem us from present

limitations and corruptions, and how great those limitations and corruptions

are we have as yet no sufficient perception. It is noteworthy how the

λύτρωσις  (redemption) of v. 12 is strengthened into the ἀπολύτρωσις 

(redemption; deliverance ) of v. 15. We shall enter on an eternal inheritance,

suited to the spirit of man — an infinite, inexhaustible possession; where

every one will have exceeding abundance, from which he can never be

parted, and of which he will never grow tired.  In comparison with that

reality, the most real things of this world will thin away into dreams.

In comparison with ITS EVERLASTINGNESS, the everlasting hills

will be as dissolving clouds.

16 “For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be (φέρεσθαι

 pheresthai – to be bringing - a word of which the exact meaning is not clear;

some interpret “be brought in, or proved,” some “be understood, implied )

the death of the testator.  (τοῦ διαθεµένου  - tou diathemenou – of the

testator; of the one being covenanted - equivalent to “him that made it”).

17 For a testament is of force after men are dead (ἐπὶ νεκροῖς – epi

nekrois – on; over dead ones): otherwise it is of no strength at all while

the testator liveth.” (or, for doth it ever avail while he that made it liveth?

, ἐπεὶ µήποτε – epei maepote – since not at any time: compare ch.10:2;

Romans 3:6; I Corinthians 14:16; John 7:26; Luke 3:15). Now, the word

διαθήκη itself undoubtedly may bear the sense of “testament.” Its general

meaning is “ disposition,” or “settlement;” and it may denote either compact

between living persons, or a will to take effect after the testator’s death. In the

verses before us it appears to be used specifically in the latter sense. For they

express general propositions, which are not true of all covenants, but are true

(according to their most obvious sense) of all testaments. Further, this sense is

distinctly applicable to the new διαθήκη regarded as the dying Christ’s bequest

to His Church.  Hence, but for the context, we should naturally so understand it

in these verses. The difficulties attending this sense are:

(1) The word is not used in this specific sense before or afterwards in this

Epistle or in Jeremiah 31., which is the basis of the whole argument, or

elsewhere, apparently, either in the Old Testament or the New.

(2) The sense does not suit the case of the old διαθήκη, which was a

covenant between the living God and His people; and there is no intimation

of two senses being intended in the two cases: indeed, in the passage

before us, the same sense seems to be distinctly implied, since the blood-

shedding which inaugurated the old is at once (in v. 17) spoken of as

answering to the death which inaugurated the new, as though death

inaugurated both in the same sense.

(3) The word, in the sense of covenant (equivalent to the Hebrew berith),

is common in the Septuagint, expressing an idea familiar to Jews and Jewish

Christians, while testamentary dispositions were, as far as we know,

unfamiliar to the Hebrews; and, though the Roman testamentary law may

have come into use when the Epistle was written, it is thought unlikely that

the writer, addressing Hebrews, would have referred to it in illustration of

a Divine dispensation, or, if he had, have used a word so well known to

them in its traditional sense.

(4) Christ is called (as well as in v. 15;  ch.12:24 and 13:20) the Mediator

 (µεσίτης – mesitaes – mediaton) of the new διαθήκη: but a testament does

not require a Mediator, nor, if it has one, can the same person be both

mediator and testator. If, however, the sense of testament should seem

inevitable here, we may explain as follows. Though the word has been used

so far in a general sense, yet the writer, on the suggestion of θανάτου γενοµένου

thanatou genomenou – by  means of death; of death becoming; occujring - in

v. 15, passes in thought at v. 16 to the specific sense of testament, as

suiting the case of Christ, the language he uses being sufficient for carrying

his readers with him in the transition. Further, though the old διαθήκη

was not in itself a testament, yet it was typical of that which was; its whole

ceremonial foreshadowed the future Testator’s death, and so, in a typical

sense, it might also itself be called one. Consequently, in v. 18, the

inaugurating sacrifices of the old dispensation are regarded as representing

the death of the testator; for they prefigured Christ, through whose death

the “eternal inheritance” is bequeathed to man. (In accordance with this

view, the Vulgate renders διαθήκη testamentum throughout the Epistle,

even when the old dispensation is referred to.) As to ὁ διαθέµενος

ho diathemenos - the testator, it is, according to this view, ultimately God the

Father in the new διαθήκη, as well as in the old, though, of course, the

Godhead could not die. But the Father having placed the whole inheritance

destined for mankind in the hands of Christ as Mediator, in His human

death the testator died. And thus one of the difficulties above mentioned

may be met, viz. that of Christ being regarded both as Testator and

Mediator. Christ was, in fact, both — Testator, in that, being one with

God, He bequeathed through His death the kingdom appointed unto Him by

the Father; Mediator, in that it was through His incarnation only that the

“eternal inheritance” willed to us by the Father could be transmitted in the

way of testament. So in effect Chrysostom explains. Apposite to this view

of the subject are his own words (Luke 22:29), “And I appoint

(διατθεμαι – diatithemai – appoint; am covenanting) unto you a kingdom,

as my Father appointed (διθετ - dietheto – appointed; covenanted)       

unto me.” Here we have the same verb (διατθεμαι) as is used in the

Epistle. And though, in the passage from Luke, the idea of a

testamentary appointment is not necessarily implied, yet it is naturally

suggested where Christ is speaking on the eve of, and with reference to, His

death. There is, however, another view according to which the idea of a testament

does not come in at all, the word διαθήκη retaining here, as elsewhere, its usual

sense of covenant. The position is that, though the propositions of vs. 16-17 are

not true of all covenants, yet there is a sense in which they are true of any covenant

between God and man; which is the only kind of covenant that the writer has in

view, or that his readers would be led to think of by the previous reference to

Jeremiah 31., or by the associations of the word διαθήκη as used in the

Old Testament. The sense in which the propositions are true of such a

covenant is thus expressed by Ebrard: “Whenever sinful man will enter into

a covenant with the holy God, the man must first die — must first atone for

his guilt by death (or must put in a substitute for himself).” This principle is

expressed (it is alleged), not only by the sacrifices that inaugurated this

covenant of the Law, but also wherever a covenant between God and man

is spoken of in the Old Testament; e.g. in the covenant with Abraham

(Genesis 15:18, and Genesis 22.). In the case of covenants between

man and man (as between Abraham and Abimelech, and between Jacob

and Laban) there was no need of slain victims, whoso life had to be given

for that of one of the contracting parties; but there is always expressed

such need in the case of a covenant between God and man. Further, the

expression, διαθήκη γὰρ ἐπὶ νεκροῖς βεβαία – diathaekae gar epi nekrois

bebaia – for a testament is of force after men are dead, is, according to this view,                          

illustrated by Psalm 50:5, where the Septuagint has τοὺς διατιθεμνους τὴν

διαθκην αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ θυσαις tous diatithemenous taen diathaekaen autou

epi thusiais – those who have made with me a covenant of sacrifice –

 (in the Vulgate, qui ordinant testamentum ejus super sacrificiis). The same

preposition ἐπὶ is used in both passages, and ἐπὶ θυσαις (of sacrifice) is supposed

to express the same idea as ἐπὶ νεκροῖς (after men are dead). This passage from

the psalm is certainly much to the point in support of the view before us, serving

moreover to meet in some degree one principal objection to it, viz. that it requires

ὁ διαθέµενος (one who makes) to be understood of the human party to the

covenant, and not of its Divine Author. Such is not the most obvious application

of the word, nor the one sanctioned by the quotation from Jeremiah, or by other

references to the Divine covenant (see supra, ch.8:10, and also Genesis 15:18;

Deuteronomy 5:2-3; Luke 12:29; Acts 3:25; as well as Exodus 24:8, quoted

below (v. 20), where διθετ(appointed; covenanted), not ἐνετείλατο – eneteilato –

enjoined; directs, is the word in the Septuagint But such is the application in

Psalm 50:5, and may be considered, therefore, not untenable. The

writer may, indeed, have had the expression in the psalm in his mind when

he wrote the verses before us. It appears from what has been said that

difficulties attend both the views that have been above explained. It is not

here attempted to decide between them.

18 “Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.”

 Here the blood of slain victims, which had been essential for the first inauguration

of the old διαθήκη (covenant), is referred to as expressing the principle of vs. 16-17,

viz. that there must be death for a διαθήκη (in whatever sense the word may be

intended, whether as a testament or as a covenant between God and man) to take

effect. Whichever view we take of the intended import of the word, the

reference is equally apposite in support of the introductory proposition of

v. 15; which is to the effect that Christ’s death (θανάτου γενοµένου),

fulfilling the symbolism of the old inaugurating sacrifices, qualified him as

Mediator of a new διαθήκη.

19 “For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the

people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the

goats, with water anti scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both

the book itself and all the people,   20 Saying, This is the blood of the

covenant (Authorized Version - testament) which God enjoined unto you

(strictly, to you-ward; i.e. enjoined to me for you). The reference is to Exodus

24:3-9, where the account is given of the inauguration of the covenant

between God and the Israelites through Moses. He “came and told the

people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the

people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD

hath said will we do.” And then he wrote all the words of the LORD in a

book, and builded an altar under the mount, and sacrifices were offered,

and half of the blood was sprinkled on the altar, and the words were read

from the book, and again the people undertook to observe them, and the

other half of the blood was sprinkled on the people, and so the covenant

was ratified. The essential part of the whole ceremony being the “blood-

shedding,”  it is of no importance for the general argument that the account

in Exodus is not exactly followed. The variations from it are these:

(1) The mention of goats as well as calves or bullocks — of water — of

the scarlet wool and hyssop — and of the sprinkling of the book, instead of

the altar, as in Exodus.

(2) The words spoken by Moses are differently given, τοῦτο – touto –

this is – being substituted for ἰδοὺ - idou – look,  ὁ θεός – ho Theos – the God –

for KριοςKurios – Lord; Yahweh,  and ἐνετείλατο (enjoined) for διθετ

(has made) as in v. 17.  On these variations we may observe that the mention of

goats may have been suggested to the writer’s mind by the ceremonies of the

Day of Atonement, previously alluded to; and it is not inconsistent with the

account in Exodus, where the victims used for the “burnt offerings” are not

specified, only the bullocks for “peace offerings.” Nor is there

inconsistency in the other additions to the ceremonial. The scarlet wool and

hyssop were the usual instruments of aspersion (a bunch of the latter being

apparently bound by the former to a stick of cedar; compare Exodus 12:22;

Leviticus 14:50; Numbers 19:6, 18). It may have been usual to mix

water with the blood used for aspersion, if only to prevent coagulation (see

Lightfoot on John 19:34), though in some cases certainly also with a

symbolical meaning (compare Leviticus 14:5, 50); and, if the book was, as it

was likely to be, on the altar when the latter was sprinkled (Exodus

24:6-7), it would itself partake of this sprinkling, and, being thus

consecrated, would be then taken from the altar to be read from to the

people and to receive their assent, previously to the sprinkling of

themselves with the moiety of the blood reserved. Probably the whole

account, as here given, was the traditional one at the time of writing (see

below, on v. 21). With regard to the slightly altered form of the words

spoken by Moses, it is an interesting suggestion that the writer may have

had in his mind our Lord’s corresponding words in the institution of the

Eucharist, beginning in all the accounts with τοῦτο, and being thus

worded: in Luke 22:20, Τοῦτο τὸ ποτριον καινὴ διαθκη ἐν τῷ αἵματ

μου, τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ἐκχυνμενον  - Touto to potaerion hae kainae diathaekae

en to haimati mou, to huper humon ekchunomenon – This cup is the new

testament in my blood, which is shed (poured out) for you: and in Matthew

26:28 and Mark 14:24, Τοῦτἐστιν τὸ αἷμμου, τὸ τῆς καινῆς  διαθκης,

τὸ περὶ πολλῶν ἐκχυνμενον Touto estin to haima mou, to taes kainaes

diathaekaes to peri pollon ekchunomenon – This is my blood of the new

testament, which is shed (poured out) for many, Matthew adding εἰς ἄφεσιν

ἁμαρτιῶν eis aphesin hamartion – for the remission of sins.  That Christ in

these words referred to those of Moses is obvious, speaking of His own

outpoured blood as the antitype of that wherewith the old διαθήκη was

dedicated; and it is likely that the writer of the Epistle would have Christ’s

words in his mind.

21 “Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the

vessels of the ministry.”  This refers to a subsequent occasion, the tabernacle

not having been constructed at the time of the inauguration of the covenant, —

probably to the dedication of the tabernacle, enjoined Exodus 40., and described

Leviticus 8. It is true that no sprinkling of the tabernacle or its furniture with

blood is mentioned in the Pentateuch; only the anointing of them with oil

(Leviticus 8:10).  But the garments of Aaron and his sons are said on that

occasion to have been sprinkled with the blood as well as with the anointing oil

(Ibid. v.30), and Josephus (‘Ant.,’ 3:8. 6) says that this blood-sprinkling

was extended also to the tabernacle and its vessels. Here, as well as in v. 19, our                           

writer may be supposed to follow the traditional account, with which there

is still nothing in the Pentateuch inconsistent. Be it observed again that the

force of the argument does not depend on these added details, but on the

general principle, abundantly expressed in the original record, which is

assorted in the following verse.

22 “And almost (rather, we may almost say that) all things are by

(according to) the Law purified with blood; and without shedding of

blood there is no remission.”   The essentiality of blood, which is “the life

of all flesh,” for atonement and consequent remission, is emphatically

asserted in Leviticus 17:11 (“For the life of the flesh is in the blood:  and

I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls:

for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul!”) which expresses

the principle of the whole sacrificial ritual. The idea seems to be that THE


and so blood, representing life, must be offered instead of his life for atonement.

         The Death of Jesus the Seal of the New Covenant (v. 22)

In this passage there is allusion to an ancient, cherished custom of making a

covenant over a slain animal. In the light of this custom probably we must

explain Genesis 15. There Abram is represented as dividing a heifer, a goat,

and a ram, and when darkness came a smoking furnace and a burning lamp

passed between the pieces. Then follows the significant statement that in

the same day Jehovah made a covenant with Abram. The idea in the

English version of a testament and a testator is not so much misleading as

meaningless, for there is no reason at all why a testament should be

referred to, but every reason why the writer should go on expounding and

illustrating the new covenant as compared with the old. To us, of course,

the custom here mentioned is hardly intelligible, but the mention of it

would throw a great deal of light on the subject at the time the reference

was made. The custom may even have been still in vogue, and human

customs have ever been subordinated to Divine ends. Hence we have here

a special aspect of the death of Christ. It is presented as:

MAN, The very existence of Christ is a covenant between the Divine and

the human. The glorious things that were in Christ because of the Divine

Spirit dwelling in Him are promised to us by their very presence in Christ.

All the good things coming to Christ because of His humanity are equally

offered to us because of our humanity; and all that Christ did in His(

humanity makes us responsible for doing the same. The promises of God

are yea and amen in Christ Jesus. We may also add that the obligations of

man are defined and settled in Christ Jesus. Thus there is a covenant, and

we may well look on the death of Christ as giving that covenant shape in a

formal transaction. For there God gave His well-beloved Son to death, THE


surrendered Himself to death, giving the greatest proof of obedience and

devotion which a human being can give. Christ’s death becomes our death,

the pledge of an individual covenant on our part, if only we choose to enter

into it. The death of Christ points out a solemn duty and a large expectation.

And if the death of Christ is a seal of the covenant, how much is the

significance of that seal added to by the resurrection and the ascension

into glory!  (While out of context, I really like the teaching of Acts 17:31 –

(“Because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the

world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained; whereof

He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him

from the dead!”

Ratification by Blood (vs. 15-22)

Here the writer pauses in his argument regarding the superiority of Christ’s

sacrifice to the sacrifices of the Law, and directs attention to an important

point of similarity between the old covenant and the new. This passage is a

serious crux. It has perplexed the most eminent commentators. The great

question is, whether διαθήκη should be translated “covenant” or

“testament:” in vs. 16 -17. For ourselves, we have come to the

conclusion that as this Greek word does not bear the meaning of

“testament” or “will” in any other part of Scripture, and as it is

unquestionably used in the sense of “covenant” in the immediate context

(ch. 8:6-13), as well as in vs. 15, 18-20 of this very passage, we

are compelled, in spite of opposing considerations, to attach to the word

the sense of “covenant” in vs. 16-17 also. Moses did not make a will

at Mount Sinai, the provisions of which could only be carried into effect

after his death. Neither did Christ speak of a will when He instituted the

Lord’s Supper in the upper room — using the words of Moses. The one

reference throughout the paragraph before us is to a covenant, or rather to

the two covenants which are being compared and contrasted in this section

of the treatise. It is most unfortunate that the two great parts into which

Holy Scripture is divided should be designated among the English-speaking

nations by the word “testaments,” which is confessedly a mistranslation.

Rather, the Hebrew oracles ought to have been called “The Book of the

Old Covenant;” and the Christian Scriptures “The Book of the New


DEATH OF VICTIMS. “For where a covenant is, there must of necessity

be the death of the ratifying victim. For a covenant is of force where there

hath been death; for doth it ever avail while the ratifying victim liveth?”

(vs. 16-17). The Hebrew word for a covenant means primarily “a

cutting;” the reference being to a common custom among the ancients of

dividing into two the animals slain for the purpose of ratification, that the

contracting parties might pass between the pieces (Genesis 15:9-10, 17;

Jeremiah 34:18-19). It is certain that in the oldest times of Scripture

history, covenants were sealed by means of sacrifice. God’s

covenant with Noah (Genesis ch.8:20-9:17), and His covenant with

Abraham (Ibid. ch.15:9-21), were thus ratified. And it is probable that

the prevalent custom among both Jews and Gentiles of confirming

contracts in this manner originated in the Divine appointment of animal

sacrifice as a type of the atonement of Christ.

(vs. 18-22.) This old covenant, made at Mount Sinai, comprised the Ten

Commandments and the body of laws contained in Exodus chapters 21- 23.

These laws were called “The Book of the Covenant.” They were the first

rough outline of the Mosaic code which Jehovah gave to His people. In

Exodus 24:3-8 there is a description of the ceremonial which is here

referred to. The awe-stricken people were gathered before an altar erected

at the foot of the mountain. The book of the covenant was read over to

them. Twelve young men, acting as priests, shed the blood of certain

propitiatory victims. Then Moses sprinkled half of the blood upon the altar

and upon the book of the covenant, and the other half upon the assembled

multitude. Some of the circumstances of the ceremonial which are aluded

to in v. 19 are not mentioned in the narrative of Exodus; but the writer of

our Epistle refers to them as matter of well-known and thoroughly

authenticated Hebrew tradition. This solemn ratification of the Sinaitic Law

shows that God and the sinner can only be made “at one” through a

covenant of blood; and thus, the words spoken by Moses when he

sprinkled the blood (v. 20) were adopted by the Savior in instituting the

Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:28), to signify the confirmation of the

“new” and “eternal covenant” through the shedding of His own blood.

But, besides this, the tabernacle and its furniture were dedicated with the

sprinkling of blood; and blood continued to be used in connection with

nearly all the rites of which the tabernacle was the center (vs. 21-22).

The ceremonial Law was, in fact, one vast system of blood-symbols. The

crimson streams never ceased to flow upon the brazen altar; blood was put

upon the altar of incense; the holy of holies itself was sprinkled with it.

There was blood everywhere;no access to God EXCEPT BY BLOOD!

The Jews were thus taught, with solemn and continual iteration, that the

forgiveness of sins can only be obtained by means of A SUBSTITUTIONARY


OF CHRIST. (v. 15.) This death was at once a sacrifice for sin and a

covenant offering. The blood of Jesus has done for the new covenant, in

sealing it, what the blood of the Mosaic sacrifices did for the old. His death

as the ratifying Victim took place “of necessity.” It was necessary, not

certainly because of the ancient custom of sealing covenants by sacrifice;

rather, God had appointed sacrifice, and employed it in His gracious

communications with His ancient people, in order to prefigure thereby the

true meaning and purpose of the death of Christ. The necessity of the

atonement was neither hypothetical, nor governmental, nor a necessity of

expediency. It arose out of the nature of God, as infinitely holy, just, and

righteous. “For this cause” that by His death He has paid A FULL

RANSOM FOR SIN -  “He is the Mediator of a new covenant” — of that

better economy promised long before by Jeremiah (Hebrews 8:8-13). The

sacrifice of Christ is of such transcendent efficacy that it has availed to

wash away the guilt of all God’s people who lived under the former

imperfect covenant; as well as to secure for all saints, whether Jewish or



We should avail ourselves of the benefits of the new covenant and CONSECRATE


Forgiveness through Sacrifice (v. 22)

“Without shedding of blood is no remission.” This is as true in Christianity

as it was in Judaism. The text suggests:

section of the Epistle is the sad fact that men are sinners, needing

forgiveness of sin and cleansing of soul. Men endeavor by various methods

to get rid of this fact of sin. Some attribute what the Bible calls sin to

defective social arrangements. Men, say they, are parts of a very imperfect

and faulty organization, and their errors are to be charged against the

organization, not against the individuals composing it. Others denominate

sin “misdirection” or mistake, thus trying to eliminate the element of will and

moral responsibility. Others speak of it as “imperfect development.” Others

charge all personal wrongdoing upon the force of temptation, or the

pressure of circumstances, ignoring the fact that solicitation is not

compulsion. With these theories, how are we to account for the self-

reproaches which men heap upon themselves after wrong-doing — for the

fact that men do blame themselves for wrong-doing? We feel that we have

sinned, that we are morally free and responsible individually, that we have

broken a holy law, that we deserve punishment. The penitent heart cries,

“Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,” (Psalm 51:4); God be merciful

to me the sinner.”  (Luke 18:13)  It is a terrible fact that sin is in the world,

that we individually are sinners.

is consciously guilty before God; everywhere his heart cries out for

reconciliation with Him, and forgiveness from Him. Altars, sacrifices,

pilgrimages, penances, all witness to this. Evidences of this deep need are

in our personal experience:

Ø      the guilt,

Ø      the consciousness that we have offended God,

Ø      the dread of the stroke of His just wrath,

Ø      the aching want of His forgiveness,

these things we have felt. Who shall roll away the burden of our guilt?

Who will give us peace? (“O wretched man that I am!  Who shall

deliver me from the body of this death?  I thank God through Jesus

Christ our Lord!”  - Romans 7:24-25 – CY – 2014)  Oh, very deep

is this need, and wide as the world!

remission.” Under the Mosaic economy atonement for sin was made and

ceremonial cleansing obtained by the shedding and the sprinkling of blood.

And the text teaches that forgiveness of sin is attainable, but ONLY

THROUGH THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD   What is the reason for this

condition? The sacred Scriptures assert that “the blood is the life”

(Deuteronomy 12:23).  “The life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have

given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls:

for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11).

Now, life is our most precious possession. “All that a man hath will he

give for his life.” (Job 2:4)  Thus the “shedding of blood’ is equivalent to

the giving of the life. And to say that we are “redeemed by the precious

blood of Christ” (I Peter 1:19) is to express the truth that we are redeemed

by the sacrifice of His pure and precious and perfect life. But why should

forgiveness of sin rest upon this condition of sacrifice? How the atonement

of the death of Christ is related to the Divine Being and government we

know not. But in relation to man and the forgiveness of sin we may without

presumption offer one or two observations. Forgiveness cannot be granted

at the sacrifice of LAW AND MORAL ORDER!   “The Law is holy, and

the commandment holy, and just, and good.” (Romans 7:12)  Man must

be brought to recognize this, or to pardon him would be to license wrong-

doing. A forgiveness which did not respect and honor the law and order

of God would sap the foundations of His government, blight His universe,

and prove an injury to man himself. (This is what the Progressive Movement

in the United States is trying to do, for “If the foundations be destroyed,

WHAT CAN THE RIGHTEOUS DO?”  (Psalm 11:3)  It is amazing how

many people today, knowingly, or unwittingly, espouse this! – CY – 2014) 

How shall the Law be maintained and honored and man be forgiven? GOD

HAS SUPPLIED THE ANSWER!   He gave his only begotten Son to shed

His blood and give up His life for us sinners, as a grand declaration that Law

is holy and righteous and good, and must be maintained, and that the

Lawgiver is the righteous and loving Father, who is willing to forgive all

men who turn from sin and trust the Savior. Through the death of Christ

God proclaims the wickedness of sin, the goodness, beauty, and majesty

of Law, and His own infinite righteousness and love. “Apart from shedding

of blood there is no remission.” This is not an arbitrarily imposed condition

of forgiveness of sin. The necessities of the case demand it. It is gracious

on the part of God so clearly to declare it. And He who declares it has Himself

 provided for its fulfillment. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but

that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins!”

(I John 4:9-10); “God commendeth His own love toward us, in that

while we were sinners, CHRIST DIED FOR US! (Romans 5:8).

Forgiveness of sin through the shedding of blood, the salvation of the

sinner through the sacrifice of the Savior, IS THE DIVINE  AND

ONLY TRUE METHOD!   The atonement of the cross is a comprehensive

force in the actual redemption of THE WORLD FROM EVIL!

blood has been shed, Jesus the Christ has offered up His most precious life

as a sacrifice for sin, the Divine condition of forgiveness is fulfilled, and

forgiveness is now WITHIN THE REACH OF EVERY MAN!  . It is freely

offered to all men, and upon conditions which render it AVAILABLE TO

EVERY MAN!. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man

his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy

upon him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon! ” (Isaiah 55:7).

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”  (Acts 16:31)

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,

and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness!” (I John 1:9).

Ø      There is no forgiveness for us apart from Jesus Christ. Our works

cannot merit it. Presumptuous trust in the mercy of God, as though

He were regardless of law and order, will not meet with it. Future

obedience as an atonement for past sins cannot secure it. APART