VINCENT'S WORD STUDIES
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Robertson's Word Pictures in the NT - Greek NT
The new scene and conditions of Christ's high-priestly work - the higher sanctuary and the better covenant (ch. viii. 1-6) - are presented with more detail.
A worldly sanctuary (to agion kosmikon). The A.V. misses the force of the article. Rend. and its sanctuary a sanctuary of this world. To agion in the sense of sanctuary only here. Elsewhere the plural ta agia. of this world in contrast with the heavenly sanctuary to be mentioned later. 207
The first. The first tabernacle, that is, the first division of the tabernacle. He speaks of the two divisions as two tabernacles.
Candlestick (lucnia). Rend. lampstand, See on Matt. v. 15; Apoc. i. 12. Description in Exod. xxv. 31-37. Comp. Zechariah 4. The table and the shewbread (h trapexa kai h proqesiv twn artwn). See Exod. xxv. 23-30; x xxv. 13; 2 Chron. ii. 4; xiii. 11. The table and the loaves are treated as one item. Lit. the table and the setting forth o f the loaves, that is, the table with its loaves set forth. See on Mark ii. 26; Acts xi. 23.
Which is called the sanctuary (htiv-agia). Since it was thus furnished. See on ch. viii. 2.
(a) according to Exodus 31 the incense-altar was in the holy place, not in the holy of holies;
(b) Philo and Josephus use qumiathrion for the altar of incense; 208
(c) there is no mention in O.T. Of a censer set apart for the day of atonement;
(d) the high priest was to enter with incense, so that the ark might be veiled by the smoke (Lev. xvi. 12). Hence the censer could not have been kept in the holy of holies;
(e) the writer clearly speaks of an abiding-place of the qumiathrionin a particular division of the tabernacle.
There is evidently a discrepancy, probably owing to the fact that the writer drew his information from the O.T. by which he might have been led into error. Thus Exod. xxvi. 35, there are mentioned in the holy place without the veil only the candlestick and the table, and not the incense-altar. Again, when the standing-place of the incense altar was mentioned, the expressions were open to misconstruction: see Exodus xxx. 6; xl. 5. On the day of atonement, the incense-altar, like the most holy place, was sprinkled with blood. This might have given rise to the impression that it was in the holy of holies.
With gold (crusiw). Properly, wrought gold.
Wherein (en h). But according to Exod. xvi. 34; Num. xvii. 10, neither the pot of manna nor Aaron's rod was in the ark, but "before the testimony"; while in Exod. xxv. 16, Moses was commanded to put only the tables of the law into the ark; and in 1 Kings viii. 9 it is said of the ark in the temple, "there was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone." The writer follows the rabbinical tradition that the pot of manna and the rod were inside of the ark.
Golden pot (stamov crush). Stamov, N.T.o , a few times in LXX, rare in Class. Golden is an addition of the LXX. Comp. Exod. xvi. 33.
Shadowing the mercy-seat (kataskiazonta to ilasthrion).
Kataskiazein, N.T.o , o LXX, occasionally in Class. Throwing their shadow down upon the mercy-seat. For, iJlasrhrion, see on Romans iii. 25. Used in LXX to translate qophert, the place of covering sin, the throne of mercy above the ark.
Particularly (kata merov). In detail; his main point being the twofold division of the tabernacle. The phrase N.T.o . Note the completeness of the list of articles of furniture in the tabernacle, even to the inclusion of things which had no connection with worship; also the emphasis on the costliness of the articles - gold. The writer will say all that can be said for this transitory, shadowy tabernacle; but all that he can say about the costliness of the apparatus only emphasizes the inferior and unspiritual character of the worship. The vessels are superior to the service. 209
Always (dia pantov). Rend. continually. The phrase is usually found in connection with matters involving relations to God - worship, sacrifice, etc. See Matt. xviii. 10; Luke xxiv. 53; Acts ii. 25; x. 2; 2 Thessalonians iii. 16; Heb. xiii. 5.
Accomplishing (epitelountev). See on ch. viii. 5, and Gal. iii. 3. The verb is used of performing religious services by Herodotus. See i. 167; ii. 63, 122; iv. 186.
The way into the holiest of all (thn twn agiwn odon). Lit. the way of the holies. For the construction comp. odon ejqnwn way of the Gentiles, Mark x. 5. The phrase N.T.o . Twn ajgiwn as in vers. 12, 24, 25; x. 19. While as the first tabernacle was yet standing (eti thv prwthv skhnhv ejcoushv stasin). By the first tabernacle is meant the first division. The point is that the division of the tabernacle showed the limitations of the Levitical system, and kept the people from coming directly to God. Of this limitation the holy place, just outside the second veil, was specially significant; for the holy place barred priests and people alike from the holy of holies. The priests could not pass out of it into the holy of holies; the people could not pass through it to that sanctuary, since they were not allowed in the holy place. The priests in the holy place stood between the people and God as revealed in the shrine. Exoushv stasin, lit. had standing. The phrase N.T.o . Stasiv everywhere in N.T. except here, is used in its secondary sense of faction, sedition, insurrection. Here in its original sense. Note that the sense is not physical and local as the A.V. implies, but remained a recognized institution.
A figure (parabolh). Outside of the Synoptic Gospels, only here and ch. xi. 19. Here of a visible symbol or type. See on Matt. xiii. 3. For the time then present (eikv ton kairon ton enesthkota). Rend. now present, as contrasted with the "time of reformation," ver. 10. See on these last days, ch. i. 2. jEiv for; with reference to; applying to. Kairov season is used instead of aijwn age, because "the time" is conceived by the writer as a critical point, - a turning-point, at which the old system is to take its departure. For ejnesthkota present, see on Gal. i. 4, and comp. Rom. viii. 38; 1 Cor. iii. 22.
In which (kaq hn). The A.V. wrongly assumes a reference to the tabernacle; whereas the reference is to the parable. Rend. according to which.
Were offered - could not (prosferontai mh dunamenai). Rend. "are offered" or "are being offered"; and for "could not," "cannot." Make him that did the service perfect (teleiwsai ton latreuonta). Rend. as Rev. "make the worshipper perfect." See ch. vii. 11.
As pertaining to the conscience (kata suneidhsin). Having shown that the division of the tabernacle proved the imperfection of the worship, the writer will now show that the Levitical ritual did not accomplish the true end of religion. The radical defect of the Levitical system was its inability to deal with the conscience, and thus bring about the "perfection" which is the ideal of true religion. That ideal contemplated the cleansing and renewal of the inner man; not merely the removal of ceremonial uncleanness, or the formal expiation of sins. Comp. Matt. xxiii. 25, 26. For suneidhsiv conscience, see on 1 Pet. iii. 16.
Which stood in (epi). The passage should be read thus: "according to which are offered gifts and sacrifices which cannot perfect the worshipper as touching the conscience, being mere ordinances of the flesh on the ground of (epi resting upon) meats," etc.
Meats and drinks and divers washings (brwmasin kai pomasin kai diaforoiv baptismoiv). Brwmasin, clean and unclean meats. pomasin drinks, concerning which the Levitical law laid down no prescriptions except as to abstinence in the case of a Nazarite vow, and of the priests when they were about to officiate. See Num. vi. 3; Lev. x. 9. For baptismoiv washings see on ch. vi. 2.
And carnal ordinances (dikaiwmata sarkov). Omit and. The phrase is a general description of meats, etc. Lit. ordinances of the flesh. Imposed (epikeimena). Some interpreters find in this the suggestion of a burden, which these ceremonial observances assuredly were. Comp. Acts xv. 10. This, however, is not probable.
Until the time of reformation (mecri kairou diorqwsewv).
Diorqwsiv N.T.o , o LXX, occasionally in Class. Diorqwma correction, amendment, Acts xxiv. 2. Diorqwsiv lit. making straight: used by medical writers of straightening a distorted limb. The verb diorqoun (not in N.T.) in LXX of mending one's ways, Jer. vii. 3, 5; Wisd. ix. 18. Of setting up or establishing, Isa. xvi. 5; xlii. 7. "The time of reformation" is the Christian age, when God made with his people a better covenant. It was inaugurated by the death of Christ. See on ch. i. 2. The gifts and offerings were only provisional, to tide the people over to the better time.
Having come (paragenomenov). Having appeared in the world. Only here in Hebrews, and only once in Paul. 1 Cor. xvi. 3. Most frequent in Luke and Acts.
Of good things to come (twn genomenwn agaqwn). According to this reading the A.V. is wrong. It should be "of the good things realized," or that have come to pass. The A.V. follows the reading mellontwn about to be. So Tischendorf and Rev. T. Weiss with Westcott and Hort read genomenwn. Blessings not merely prophetic or objects of hope, but actually attained; free approach to God, the better covenant, personal communion with God, the purging of the conscience.
Through a greater and more perfect tabernacle (dia). The preposition is instrumental. Comp. ver. 12. Const. with ajrciereuv high priest, and as qualifying it. "A high priest with a greater and more perfect tabernacle." It has been shown that the new high priest must have a sanctuary and an offering (ch. viii. 2-8). Accordingly, as the Levitical priests were attached to (were priests with) an inferior tabernacle, so Christ appears with a greater and more perfect tabernacle. For this use of dia see Rom. ii. 27; xiv. 20; 2 Cor. ii. 4; iii. 11. Note the article with tabernacle, his greater, etc. That is to say not of this building (tout estin ou tauthv thv ktisewv). For building rend. creation. See on Rom. viii. 19; 2 Corinthians v. 17; Col. i. 15. The meaning is, not belonging to this natural creation either in its materials or its maker.
His own blood. The distinction is not between the different bloods, but between the victims. The difference of blood is unimportant. Regarded merely as blood, Christ's offering is not superior to the Levitical sacrifice. If Christianity gives us only the shedding of blood, even Christ's blood, it does not give us a real or an efficient atonement. Whatever significance may attach to the blood is derived from something else. See on ver. 14. Once (efapax). Rend. once for all.
Having obtained eternal redemption (aiwnian lutrwsin euramenov). Having found and won by his act of entrance into the heavenly sanctuary. This is better than to explain "entered the sanctuary after having obtained redemption by his life, death, and resurrection"; for the work of redemption is crowned and completed by Christ's ascension to glory and his ministry in heaven (see Romans 6). Even in the old sanctuary the rite of the Day of Atonement was not complete until the blood had been offered in the sanctuary. Eternal, see or ch. vi. 2. Not mere duration is contemplated, but quality; a redemption answering in its quality to that age when all the conditions of time shall be no more: a redemption not ritual, but profoundly ethical and spiritual. Lutrwsin redemption, only here, Luke i. 68; ii. 38. See on might redeem, Tit. ii. 4.
13-14. Justifying the preceding words, and answering the question, What has Christ to offer?
Sprinkling the unclean (rantizousa touv kekoinwmenouv). For sprinkling see on 1 Pet. i. 2. The verb only in Hebrews, except Mark vii. 4. For the unclean rend. them that have been defiled. The literal rendering of the participle brings out better the incidental or occasional character of the defilement.
Offered himself without spot (eauton proshnegken amwmon). The two other elements which give superior validity to Christ's sacrifice. It was voluntary, a self-offering, unlike that of brute beasts who had no volition and no sense of the reason why they were offered. It was spotless. He was a perfectly righteous, sinless being, perfectly and voluntarily obedient to the Father's will, even unto the suffering of death. The legal victims were only physically unblemished according to ceremonial standards. Amwmov in LXX, technically, of victims, Exod. xxix. 1; Lev. i. 3, 10, etc.
Purge your conscience (kaqariei thn suneidhsin hmwn) For your rend. our. The superior nature of Christ's sacrifice appears in its deeper effect. While the Levitical sacrifice accomplished only formal, ritual expiation, leaving the inner man unaffected, while it wrought externally and dealt with specific sins the effect of Christ's sacrifice goes to the center of the moral and spiritual life, and cleanses the very fountainhead of being, thus doing its work where only an eternal spirit can do it. Kaqarizein to purge is not a classical word. In Class. kaqairein (also in LXX): but kaqarizein appears in inscriptions in a ritual sense, and with ajpo from, as here, 211 thus showing that the word was not confined to biblical and ecclesiastical Greek.
From dead works (apo nekrwn ergwn). The effect of Christ's sacrifice upon the conscience transmits itself to the works, and fills them with the living energy of the eternal spirit. It changes the character of works by purging them of the element of death. This element belongs not only to works which are acknowledged as sinful and are committed by sinful men, but to works which go under the name of religious, yet are performed in a merely legal spirit. None the less, because it is preeminently the religion of faith, does Christianity apply the severest and most radical of tests to works. Professor Bruce truthfully says that "the severest test of Christ's power to redeem is his ability to loose the bonds springing out of a legal religion, by which many are bound who have escaped the dominion of gross, sinful habits."
For this cause (dia touto). Indicating the close relation between the cleansing power of Christ's blood and the new covenant.
Mediator of the new testament (diaqhkhv kainhv mesithv). For the new testament rend. a new covenant. See on next verse. For mesithv mediator, see on Gal. iii. 19, 20.
By means of death (qanatou genomenou). Rend. a death having taken place.
For the redemption of the transgressions (eiv apolutrwsin twn parabasewn). The phrase redemption of transgressions (that is, from transgressions) only here. jApolutrwsiv in N.T. mostly absolutely: the redemption, or your redemption, or simply redemption. Twice with genitive of that which is redeemed, Rom. viii. 23; Eph. i. 14. Only once in LXX, Dan. iv. 32. For parabasiv transgression, see on Romans ii. 23.
Under the first testament (epi). On the basis of: estimated according to the standard of the provisions of the first covenant, and to be atoned for in the way which it prescribed. By this expression he emphasizes the insufficiency of every other atoning provision, selecting the system which represented the most elaborate and complete atonement for sin prior to Christ. The intimation is in the same direction with that of the phrase through an eternal spirit - that the ideal redemption must be eternal. They which are called (oi keklhmenoi). Without regard to nationality. The scope of the new covenant was wider than that of the old. Comp. Acts ii. 39. In ch. iii. 1, the readers are addressed as "partakers of a heavenly calling," which corresponds with "eternal inheritance" here. Those who obtain this inheritance are designated as "called." See Eph. i. 18; 1 Thessalonians ii. 12; v. 24; 1 Pet. iii. 9.
Of eternal inheritance (thv aiwniou klhronomiav). Rend. "the eternal inheritance": something recognized as a fact. For klhronomia inheritance, see on 1 Pet. i. 4, and comp. Eph. i. 14. The whole statement implies that the provisions of the Levitical system were inadequate to procure and insure full salvation.
There must also of necessity be the death of the testator (qanatou anagkh feresqai tou diaqemenou). Rend. it is necessary that the death of the institutor (of the covenant) should be born. With the rendering testament, feresqai is well-nigh inexplicable. If covenant the meaning is not difficult. If he had meant to say it is necessary that the institutor die, he might better have used genesqai: "it is necessary that the death of the institutor take place"; but he meant to say that it was necessary that the institutor die representatively; that death should be born for him by an animal victim. If we render testament, it follows that the death of the testator himself is referred to, for which qanatou feresqai is a very unusual and awkward expression.
Otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth (epei mh tote iscuei ote zh o diaqemenov). Rend. "since it hath not then force when the institutor is alive": until he has been representatively slain.
Neither the first testament was dedicated without blood (oude h prwth cwriv aimatov enkekainistai). Rend. "neither hath the first (covenant) been inaugurated without blood." There is surely no excuse for inserting testament here, as A.V., since the allusion is clearly to the ratification of a covenant with blood. But further, as this and the verses immediately following are intended to furnish a historical illustration of the statements in vers. 16, 17, we seem forced either to render covenant in those verses, or to assume that the transaction here related was the ratification of a will and testament, or to find our writer guilty of using an illustration which turns on a point entirely different from the matter which he is illustrating. Thus: a testament is of force after men are dead. It has no force so long as the testator is alive. Wherefore, the first covenant was ratified by slaying victims and sprinkling their blood. For the incident see Exod. xxiv. 8. jEnkainizein only here and ch. x. 20 LXX, to renew, 1 Samuel xi. 14; 2 Chron. xv. 8; Psalm i. 10: to dedicate, 1 Kings viii. 63; 1 Macc. iv. 86. Comp. ta ejnkainia the feast of dedication, John x. 22. Rend. oujde neither, as A.V., and not not even, in which case the meaning would be, "not even the first covenant, although its ministries did not perfect the worshipper as touching the conscience," a thought which would be foreign to the point, which is merely the analogy in the matter of death.
Of calves and goats (twn moscwn kai twn tragwn). Not mentioned in the O.T. account. The goat was always for a sin-offering, and the sacrifices on this occasion were oxen, and are described as burnt offerings and sacrifices of peace, Exod. xxiv. 5. In the original covenant with Abraham a she-goat and a heifer are specially mentioned, Gen. xv. 9.
Water, scarlet wool, hyssop - sprinkled the book (udatov, ejriou kokkinou, uJsswpou aujto te to biblion ejrantisen). None of these are mentioned in the O.T. account, which the writer appears to have filled up from the details of subsequent usage. Comp. the additions in vers. 5,
Almost all things (scedon-panta). The A.V. is wrong. Sxedon almost or nearly is prefixed to the entire clause, and applies to both its members. Rend. "and I may almost say, it is in blood," etc. Almost provides for such exceptions as Exod. xix. 10; xxxii. 30-32; v. 11-13; Lev. xv. 5; xvi. 26-28; xxii. 6; Num. xvi. 46-48; xxxi. 23, 24; Psalm li. 1-17; xxxii. 1, 2. And without shedding of blood is no remission (kai cwriv aimatekcusiav ou ginetai afesiv). This sentence also is covered by "I may almost say." It does not state that without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins, which "would be in conflict with the history and literature of the Old Testament." 214 See exceptions above. aimatekcusia shedding of blood, N.T.o , o LXX, o Class. Ouj ginetai afesiv, lit. remission does not take place or ensue. For afesiv see on Jas. v. 15; most frequent in Luke and Acts. In Hebrews only here and ch. x. 18. Commonly with a genitive, in the phrase remission of sins: but sometimes absolutely as here, Mark iii. 29; Luke iv. 18.
The patterns of things in the heavens. The earthly tabernacle and its furniture. See on ch. viii. 5.
With these (toutoiv). Things specified in ver. 19.
With better sacrifices (kreittosi qusiaiv). How can it be said that the heavenly things needed cleansing? It is not easy to answer. Various explanations have been proposed, which the student will find collected in Alford's note on this passage. The expression is rhetorical and figurative, and appears to be founded on that feature of the Levitical ritual according to which the high priest was required, on the Great Day of Atonement, to make an atonement for the sanctuary, "because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel." He was to do this also for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the great altar. See Lev. xvi. 16 ff. The rite implied that even the holy of holies had contracted defilement from the people's sin. Similarly, the atoning blood of Christ is conceived as purifying the things of the heavenly sanctuary which had been defiled by the sins of men. "If the heavenly city of God, with its Holy Place, is, conformably with the promise, destined for the covenant-people, that they may there attain to perfect fellowship with God, then their guilt has defiled these holy things as well as the earthly, and they must be purified in the same way as the typical law appointed for the latter, only not by the blood of an imperfect, but of a perfect sacrifice" (Delitzsch). 215
The holy places made with hands (ceiropoihta agia). For holy places rend. a holy place, the plural being used of the sanctuary. Christ is not entered into a hand-made sanctuary.
Figures (antitupa). Or. figure. Only here and 1 Pet. iii. 21, see note. Answering to the patterns in the heavens, ch. viii. 5. Rev. like in pattern. Now to appear (nun emfanisqhnai). Now, not only in contrast with the time of the old, typical economy, but also implying a continually-present manifestation, for us, now, as at his first entrance into the heavenly sanctuary. jEmfanisqhnai, rend. to be manifested. Better than to appear, because it exhibits the manifestation of Christ as something brought about as the result of a new and better economy, and distinctly contemplated in the institution of that economy. Christ is made openly manifest before the face of God. The Levitical priest was compelled to shroud the ark and the shekinah with incense-smoke, that he might not look upon God face to face.
He should offer himself often (pollakiv prosferh eauton). His offering did not need repetition like the Levitical sacrifices. Offer himself refers rather to Christ's entrance into the heavenly sanctuary and presentation of himself before God, than to his offering on the cross. See on ver. 14. The sacrifice on the cross is described by paqein suffer, ver. 26, and is introduced as a distinct thought. The point is that, being once in the heavenly sanctuary, Christ was not compelled to renew often his presentation of himself there, since, in that case, it would be necessary for him to suffer often. Each separate offering would necessitate a corresponding suffering.