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  • VINCENT'S NEW TESTAMENT WORD STUDIES - HEBREWS 8

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    CHAPTER VIII

    Christ's fulfillment of his high-priestly office as related to the Aaronic priesthood. - Christ's ministry is superior to that of the Levitical priests as he himself is superior to them.

    1. Of the things which we have spoken (epi toiv legomenoiv). The A.V. is wrong. jEpi is in the case of, or in the consideration of: not of, nor in addition to. Toiv legomenoiv "the things which are being spoken": the matters now under discussion.

    The sum (kefalaion). Rend. the chief point. It is not the sum of what precedes, but the main point of the present discussion. This point is that Christ is the minister of a better sanctuary, connected with a better covenant.

    Such an high priest (toiouton). Taken up from ch. vii. 26.

    Is set (ekaqisen). Repeating ch. i. 3. Rend. sat down.

    The throne of the majesty (tou qronou thv megalwsunhv). See on ch. i. 3. The phrase N.T.o .

    In the heavens (en toiv ouranoiv). Const. with sat down, not with majesty, which is complete in itself and needs no qualifying epithet.

    2. A minister (leitourgov). Sat down as a minister. From an old adjective leitov or leitov (found only in this compound), belonging to the people, and ergon work. Hence, originally, the service of the state in a public office. In LXX and N.T. leitourgov minister, leitourgein to minister, and leitourgia ministry are used both of priestly service to God and of service to men. Leitourgia in LXX rarely of the service of the priests, often of the Levites. See 1 Kings i. 4; xix. 21; 2 Kings iv. 43; vi. 15. Leitourgouv Heb. i. 7, in the general sense of servants of God. Of the sanctuary (twn agiwn). The heavenly sanctuary. Ta agia the most holy place, Heb. ix. 8, 12, 25; x. 19; xiii. 11. Comp. agia ajgiwn holy of holies, Heb. ix. 3. %Agia holy places generally, but with special reference to the innermost sanctuary, Heb. ix. 24.

    The true tabernacle (thv skhnhv thv aluqinhv). Explanatory oftwn aJgiwn. The form of expression is emphatic: the tabernacle, the genuine one, as compared with the tabernacle in the wilderness. For ajliqinov real, genuine, see on John i. 9. Skhnh a tent. For different shades of meaning, comp. Matt. xvii. 4; Luke xvi. 9; Acts vii. 43. In this epistle always of the tabernacle in the wilderness.

    3. A priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices. Therefore Christ, a high priest, must have gifts and sacrifices to offer, and a sanctuary in which to offer them.

    Wherefore it is of necessity (oen anagkaion). Rend. wherefore it is necessary.

    Somewhat to offer (o prosenegkh). Lit. what he may offer. The construction is unusual. Comp. Acts xxi. 16. The statement is a truism, unless it be assumed that the Hebrew Christians were ignorant of the doctrine of Christ's priesthood.

    4. Rend. "Now if he were on earth he would not be a priest at all, seeing that there are those who offer the gifts according to the law." Christ could not be a priest on earth, because there is an order of priests already established by law; and as Christ was not of the tribe of Levi (ch. vii. 13, 14) he could have nothing in common with them.

    5. Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things (oitinev upodeigmati kai skia latreuousin twn epouraniwn). The connection is, "there are those who offer the gifts according to the law, such as (oitinev) serve," etc. For latreuousin serve, see on 2 Timothy i. 3. Omit unto. Rend. serve the copy and shadow, etc., or, as Rev., that which is a copy and shadow. For uJpodeigma copy, see on 1 Peter v. 3; 2 Pet. ii. 6. Comp. Heb. ix. 23. Twn ejpouraniwn "of heavenly things." Ta ejpourania in N.T. usually "heavenly places." See Eph. i. 3; ii. 6; iii. 10; vi. 12: "heavenly things," John iii. 12; Philippians ii. 10; Heb. ix. 23. 203 As Moses was admonished (kaqwv kecrhmatistai Mwushv). By God. This, and the remainder of the verse, explain the words copy and shadow. For crhmatizein see on Matt. ii. 12; Luke ii. 26; Acts xi. 26. Comp. crhmatismov answer (of God), Rom. xi. 4. In Exod. xl. 1, where Moses is commanded to make the tabernacle, God is expressly named.

    To make (epitelein). The margin of Rev. complete may easily convey a wrong idea. The sense is to carry out or execute the plan given to him. For, See (ora gar). Gar for is not a part of the quotation, but is argumentative. Moses was admonished, for God said "See," etc.

    That thou make (poihseiv). A direct command. "See, thou shalt make." Pattern (tupon). See on 1 Pet. v. 3. The meaning is that, in all essential features, the Levitical system of worship was a copy of a heavenly reality. This was pressed into an absurd literalism by the Rabbins, who held that there were in heaven original models of the tabernacle and of all its appurtenances, and that these were shown to Moses in the Mount. The writer draws out of this vulgar conception the thought that the material tabernacle was an emblem of a spiritual, heavenly sanctuary. The Levitical priests, therefore, serve only a copy and shadow.

    6. But now (nun de). Nunis logical: as the case now stands. The statement of ver. 4 is taken up. "If he were on earth he could not be a priest," etc., but now, since Christ is a priest, and must have a sanctuary and an offering, he has a more excellent ministry.

    He hath obtained a more excellent ministry (diaforwterav tetucen leitourgiav). The ministry of the heavenly sanctuary.

    He is the mediator of a better covenant (kreittonov estin diaqhkhv mesithv). For mesithv mediator, see on Gal. iii. 19. Both here and in the following chapter, the ideas of the sanctuary and the covenant are closely united. God's covenant was embodied in the sanctuary. The ark was "the ark of the covenant"; the tables of the law were "the tables of the covenant." The essence of a covenant is the establishment of a relationship. The sanctuary was the meeting-place of God and man. The ritual of sacrifice adjusted the sinner's relation to a holy God. All the furniture and all the ordinances of the tabernacle assumed the covenant between God and his people. Thus the two ideas belong together. The minister of the Levitical sanctuary was the mediator of the old covenant. A new covenant implies a new ministry, a better covenant implies a better ministry. Christ's priesthood implies a sanctuary. The new sanctuary implies a new covenant. This covenant is a better covenant because it Was established upon better promises (epi kreittosin epaggeliaiv nenomoqethtai). For established rend. enacted. Nomoqetein to enact a law, only here and ch. vii. 11. A few times in LXX: Nomoqesia enacting, only Rom. ix. 4 nomoqethv lawgiver, only Jas. iv. 12. The better covenant was enacted as truly as was the law. See ver. 10. The new covenant was a new law - the perfect law, the law of liberty, Jas. i. 25.

    7. The statement that a better covenant was enacted upon better promises is justified by the very existence of that second covenant. "If that first covenant had been faultless, there would no place have been sought for a second." The argument is like that in ch. vii. 11 (see note). Notice the imperfect tense ejxhteito, lit. would have been being sought. A search would not have been going on. This implies a sense of dissatisfaction while the old covenant was still in force, and a looking about for something better. This hint is now expanded. It is to be shown that the Levitical system answered to a covenant which was recognized as imperfect and transitory by an O.T. prophet, since he spoke of a divine purpose to establish a new covenant.

    8. For finding fault with them (memfomenov autouv). 204 Them signifies the possessors of the first covenant. The prophet says what follows by way of blame. The passage cited is Jeremiah 38, LXX (A.V. 31); 31-34. The writer assumes that Jeremiah's new covenant means the Christian covenant.

    I will make (suntelesw). Rend. I will conclude or consummate. See on Luke iv. 13. Only here in Hebrews, and once in Paul, Rom. ix. 28, a citation.

    With the house (epi). The preposition marking direction toward. A new covenant (diaqhkhn kainhn). Always kainh in the phrase new covenant, except Heb. xii. 24, where we have nea. For the distinction see note there, and on Matt. xxvi. 29.

    9. In the day when I took (en hmera epilabomenou mou). An unusual construction. Lit. in the day of me having taken hold. Comp. John iv. 39.

    10. The covenant which I will make (h diaqhkh hn doaqhsomai). The noun and the verb are cognate - the arrangement which I will arrange. A covenant (diaqhkh) is something arranged (diatiqesqai) between two parties. See the same combination, Acts iii. 25.

    I will put my laws (didouv nomouv mou). Lit. giving my laws: const. with I will make: "the covenant which I will make by giving my laws." Mind (dianoian). The moral understanding. See on Mark xii. 30; Luke i. 51. Hearts, kardiav, see on Rom. i. 21; x. 10.

    A God - a people (eiv qeon-eiv laon). Lit. unto a God, etc. A Hebraistic form of expression, eijv signifying the destination of the substantive verb. The sense is, I will be to them to serve as a God; or my being as related to them will amount to my being a God to them. Comp. Matt. xix. 5; 2 Cor. vi. 18; Heb. i. 5.

    11. His neighbor (ton polithn). Lit. his citizen: his fellow-citizen. 205 Know the Lord (gnwqi ton kurion). As if commending God to the knowledge of one who is ignorant of him.

    All shall know (pantev eidhsousin). Observe the two words for know: gnwqi of the recognition of a stranger; eijdhsousin of an absolute acquaintance as of one born under God's covenant.

    From the least to the greatest (apo mikrou ewv megalou autwn). Lit. from the little unto the great of them. This knowledge of God will be without distinction of age or station.

    12. Merciful (ilewv). Only here and Matt. xvi. 22, see note. Unrighteousness (adikiaiv). Unrighteousnesses. The only occurrence of the word in the plural. For ajdikia see on 2 Pet. ii. 13.

    Their sins and their iniquities (twn amartiwn autwn). Omit and their iniquities. 206 For aJmarta sin, see on Matt. i. 21; and for both ajdikia and aJmartia, on 1 John i. 9. Comp. 1 John v. 17.

    Will I remember no more (ou mh mnhsqw eti). Lit. I will by no means remember any more.

    13. In that he saith a new covenant (en tw legein kainhn). Lit. "in his saying new."

    He hath made the first old (pepalaiwken thn prwthn). Palaioun to make old, only in Hebrews and Luke xii. 33. Comp. Heb. i. 11.

    Now that which decayeth and waxeth old (to de palaioumenou kai ghraskon). Rend. but that which is becoming old and waxing aged. Ghraskein (only here and John xxi. 18) adds the idea of infirmity to that of age.

    Is ready to vanish away (egguv afanismou). Lit. is nigh unto vanishing. Afanismov vanishing, N.T.o . Often in LXX. Class. rare and late. The whole statement indicates that the writer regarded the Sinaitic covenant, even in Jeremiah's time, as obsolete, and that Jeremiah himself so regarded it. When God announced a new covenant he proclaimed the insufficiency of the old, and the promise of a new covenant carried with it the promise of the abrogation of the old. The new covenant is so shaped as to avoid the defects of the old one, and some one has remarked that, in one aspect, it is a criticism of the Sinaitic covenant. The following are its provisions:

    (1) The law will no more be merely external, but a law written in the heart. Comp. 2 Cor. iii. 8.

    (2) The people will be on intimate and affectionate terms with God, so that the knowledge of God will be general.

    (3) Sin will be dealt with more radically and effectively.

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