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Hebrews 9

 

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

UBS4 NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Earthly and the Heavenly Sanctuaries The Earthly Sanctuary The Ministry of the Levitical Priests Earthly and Heavenly Worship Christ Enters the Heavenly Sanctuary
9:1-5 9:1-5 9:1-5 9:1-5 9:1-5
  Limitations of the Earthly Sanctuary      
9:6-10 9:6-10 9:6-10 9:6-10 9:6-10
  The Heavenly Sanctuary Characteristics of the Sacrifice of Christ    
    (9:11-10:18)    
9:11-14 9:11-15 9:11-14 9:11-14 9:11-14
        Christ Seals the New Covenant with His Blood
9:15-22 The Mediator's Death Necessary 9:15-22 9:15 9:15-28
  9:16-22   9:16-22  
Sin Put Away by Christ's Sacrifice Greatness of Christ's Sacrifice   Christ's Sacrifice Takes Away Sin  
(9:23-10:18)     (9:23-10:18)  
9:23-28 9:23-28 9:23-28 9:23-28  

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired but it is the key to following the original author's intent which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 9:1-5
 1Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary. 2For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place. 3Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, 4having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron's rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant; 5and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

9:1 "the first" The regulations for sacrifice and worship connected with the tabernacle are in Leviticus.

▣ "covenant" This is not in the Greek text. Most English translations assume it. However, H. E. Dana, in his Jewish Christianity, p. 255, believes that it should be translated "first ministry" because chapter 9 is presenting another evidence of Christ's superior ministry (cf. 8:6). He also charts the comparison on p. 255.

The First Ministry The Second Ministry
An earthly service—
"of this world."
Human equipment—
"there was a tabernacle constructed."
External effects— 
"cannot as touching the
conscience make the
worshiped perfect."
Temporary in nature—
"carnal regulations set
up pending a time of
construction."
A heavenly service—
"not of this creation."
Divine equipment—
"not made with hands."
Internal effects—
"cleanse your conscience
from dead works to serve
the living God."
Permanent in nature—
"the promise of the eternal
inheritance."

9:2 "a tabernacle" This refers to the portable tabernacle in the wilderness, which is described in detail in Exod.25-27 and built in 36-38,40. The author of Hebrews refers to the inner tent as the first (outer) tabernacle (the holy place) and the second (inner) tabernacle (the Holy of Holies).

"the lampstand" This refers to one lamp with seven containers burning olive oil, located in the holy place. It is referred to in Exod.25:31-40 and Lev. 24:1-4. It was called the Menorah, which is the Hebrew term for "lampstand." Solomon expanded the lamp to ten arms (cf. I Kings 7:49; II Chr. 4:7). It symbolizes the light of truth and revelation.

▣ "table and the sacred bread" This was a table located in the holy place holding twelve large (15 lb.) loaves of bread. They were replaced weekly and became food for the Priests (cf. Exod.25:23-30; 37:10-16; Lev. 24:5-9). They represented God's promised physical provision for the twelve tribes of Jacob.

▣ "the holy place" This is the outer room of the tent in which the priests ministered daily. It measured 20 cubits by 10 cubits (cf. Exod.25-27). The author of Hebrews usually uses this term (hagia) with the article (cf. 9:8,25; 13:11) and uses it for the inner or second part of the sacred tent called the Holy of Holies (cf. v. 3) where the Ark was placed, but in this verse the article is absent and the term refers to the outer two-thirds of the sacred tent, called the holy place.

9:3 "second veil" This divided the tent into two compartments (cf. Exod.26:31-35). The Hebrews had two special names, one for the front curtain, which was usually partly open, and one for the inner curtain, which was never open. Only the high priest entered (twice) on the Day of Atonement (cf. Lev. 16).

▣ "the Holy of Holies" It was a perfect cube of 10 cubits. It contained the ark where YHWH symbolically dwelt between the wings of the cherubim. This ark was the physical symbol of the invisible God (after they entered the Promised Land).

9:4 "golden altar of incense" This was an altar-shaped piece of furniture where incense was placed in large quantities on the Day of Atonement to produce thick smoke which concealed YHWH's presence over the ark. Our author seems to place it inside the Holy of Holies. This has caused commentators to take this phrase to refer to a "censer" because this is how the Septuagint translates this term (cf. Lev. 16:12; II Chr. 26:19; Ezek. 8:11; IV Mac. 7:11). However, Philo and Josephus use the same Greek word for the incense altar. In the OT the altar is closely identified with the Holy of Holies (cf. Exod.30:1-10, 37; but especially I Kgs. 6:22).

Coals were taken from the great sacrificial altar at the door of the tabernacle and placed on this small stand. Incense was then placed on the coals to produce a large amount of smoke. This wonderful smelling smoke obscured the high priest's eyes from seeing YHWH, who dwelt over the ark of the covenant between the wings of the cherubim, in the Holy of Holies.

▣ "the ark of the covenant" The ark is described in Exod.25:10-22 and 37:1-9.

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE ARK OF THE COVENANT

▣ "a golden jar holding manna" The Septuagint and Philo have the adjective "golden," but the Masoretic Hebrew Text does not (cf. Exod. 16:31-36). Josephus says it held 4 pints. It was a miracle that the manna did not rot (cf. Exod. 16:18-21,22-25).

▣ "Aaron's rod which budded" This rod was YHWH's sign of confirming the leadership of Moses and Aaron during Korah's rebellion (cf. Num. 17:1-11; 20:8-11).

▣ "the tables of the covenant" This refers to the two stone tablets with the decalog (ten words) written on them by the finger of God (cf. Exod. 25:16; Deut. 9:9,11,15;10:3-5; 31:18; 32:15). The book of Deuteronomy and Joshua 24 follow the treaty pattern of the Hittites (of the second millennium b.c.). Their covenants always had two copies, one for the vassal king to read yearly and one for the sanctuary of the deity. Therefore, the two stone tablets may have been duplicate copies.

9:5 "the cherubim of glory" This refers to the two angelic creatures on each end of the mercy seat (lid), whose wings overshadowed the ark (cf. Gen. 3:24; Exod.25:18-22; Ezek. 10:14, but note that in Ezek. 41:18 they have two faces, not four). A new possibility from a History Channel video, "Decoding the Exodus" asserts that they were phoenixes. The Bible does not reveal much information about the angelic world. Our curiosity often runs far ahead of revealed truth. For the term "glory" see note at 1:3.

"mercy seat" This refers to the golden lid of the wooden box called "the ark of the covenant." It was a special place for "covering" sins. The symbolism seems to be

1. YHWH dwelt between the wings of the two angelic creatures (the rabbis said this was His footstool)

2. the box contained the "ten words" (decalog)

3. the high priest, on the Day of Atonement (cf. Leviticus 16), went into the Holy of Holies twice to place blood on the mercy seat, once for his own sin and once for the non-premeditated sins of the nations as a whole (cf. v. 7)

The requirements of the Law were covered, obscured from YHWH's eyes by the sacrificial blood of an unblemished animal (life is in the blood; sin requires a life).

▣ "but of these things we cannot now speak in detail" This is a disclaimer. Our author uses details from the ancient tabernacle that are now unknown.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 9:6-10
 6Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship, 7but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. 8The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, 9which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, 10since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.

9:6 "continually entering the outer tabernacle" The priests were to fill the containers on the menorah with oil (cf. Exod.27:20-21), replace the bread weekly (cf. Lev. 24:8-9), and place small amounts of incense on the incense altar (cf. Exod. 30:7-8).

9:7 "the high priest. . .once a year" He entered only on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (cf. Lev. 16). "Kipper" means "to cover"; the Akkadian cognate means "to wipe away." Hebrews 9 focuses on the rituals of the Day of Atonement more than any other chapter in the NT.

"in ignorance" Only sins that were not pre-meditated could be dealt with by the sacrificial system. Intentional sins, or "sins of the high hand" (KJV) could not be atoned for (cf. Lev. 4:2; Num. 15:24,27,30,31; Ps. 51:17). The Day of Atonement primarily dealt with the ceremonial impurity of the nation.

9:8-10 These verses show (1) the preliminary nature of the Mosaic covenant and (2) the superiority of the new covenant. How is the new covenant in Christ better?

1. in the old only the high priest entered the inner shrine once a year for his sins and the unintentional sins of Israel (limited access and limited forgiveness).

2. in the new covenant all believers are brought near to God because of Jesus' sinlessness and the removal of the distinction between intentional and unintentional sins (full access and full forgiveness).

The new covenant (cf. Jer. 31:31-34), based on faith in the finished work of Christ, not meritorial human performance of an external code, has given worshipers confidence (a new heart, a new spirit, cf. Ezek. 36:20-27) to approach a holy God, not through ritual procedures or liturgy (cf. 6:1-2), but through the gospel.

9:8

NASB"the outer tabernacle"
NKJV"the first tabernacle"
NRSV"the first tent"
TEV"the outer tent"
NJB"the old tent"

The author of Hebrews calls the outer part of the tent "the first tabernacle," referring to "the holy place."This would represent Mosaic covenant worship, which did not allow full access to God. The veil of Herod's Temple being torn from top to bottom when Jesus died (cf. Matt. 27:51) symbolized this new access through Christ.

9:9 "which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience" The old covenant was not able to purge the guilt of sin from mankind's conscience (cf. v. 14). The conscience in the NT (not the OT) is a moral guide (cf. I Pet. 3:21). The danger is that it can be culturally conditioned or abused into silence (cf. Matt. 23:25-26). It is the NT counterpoint to the "sound of gentle blowing" or "the still small voice" of I Kgs. 19:12.

A very interesting discussion of this term's use in Hebrews is found in Robert B. Girdlestone's Synonyms of The Old Testament

"The passages in the epistle to the Hebrews in which the word occurs are very interesting and important. From Heb. 9.9, we gather that the offerings under the O.T. could not make man ‘perfect as pertaining to the conscience' i.e., could not take away the sense of sin which hinders man from oneness with God. They did not take away sin, as a matter of fact, and they could not, from the nature of things; for if the effect of the Levitical dispensation had been to make men perfect, i.e., at one with God , the offerings would not have needed repetition. If the worshipers had been purged once for all, they would have had no more consciousness of sins (Heb. 10.2). But ‘the blood of Christ' cleanses a man's consciousness from dead works, and enables him to serve the living God (Heb. 9.14); and the heart is thus ‘sprinkled from an evil conscience' (10.22). In other words, the faithful acceptance of the sacrifice of Christ takes away that sense of sin which had been a bar between man and God, and enables a man to live no longer as a servant, but as a son" (p. 73).

▣ "perfect" See Special Topic at 7:11.

9:10

NASB"a time of reformation"
NKJV"the time of reformation"
NRSV"the time comes to set things right"
TEV"the time when God will establish the new order"
NJB"the time come to set things right"

This refers to the new covenant inaugurated in Jesus. This phrase was used by the rabbis of the last "Jubilee" when the Messiah would come. It is used in the moral sense in Jer. 7:3,5.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 9:11-14
 11But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

9:11 "But when Christ appeared as high priest" When did this occur:

1. before creation (cf. Rev. 13:8) 

2. at Calvary (cf. v. 12)

3. after ascension to the Father's right hand (entered sanctuary in heaven, cf. 9:24-25)

Did Jesus offer Himself twice? If so, why the emphasis on "once for all?" Possibly He offered Himself as sacrifice on Calvary, but acted as high priest after His ascension or it may be simply (1) theological imagery or (2) inspired rabbinical mysticism.

▣ "of the good things to come" The ancient Greek manuscripts vary: (1) "things to come" in א, A (NASB, NKJV, NJB) and (2) "things already here" in P46, B, D* (RSV, NEB, TEV, NIV).

▣ "not made with hands" Some see this as a reference to believers' resurrected physical bodies (cf. II Cor. 5:1) and Jesus' body (cf. Mark 14:58). However, the context seems to refer to the heavenly temple (cf. Heb. 8:2; 9:24).

9:12 "not through the blood of goats and calves" The goats were for the people's sin (cf. Lev. 16:11) and the calves were for the high priests' sin (cf. Lev. 16:11). The sacrificial system of the OT (cf. Lev. 1-7) was God's gracious provision of allowing (as a foreshadowing of Christ's death) an unblemished animal to pay the death penalty for human sin (cf. Lev. 17:11).

"but through His own blood" The Greek preposition "dia" can mean (1)"through" (NASB, NIV) or (2) "with" (NKJV, NRSV, NJB).

▣ "the holy place" Here this implies "the Holy of Holies" of the heavenly tabernacle.

▣ "once for all" This is an often-repeated emphasis (cf. 7:27; 9:28; 10:10). It emphasizes Christ's complete and finished sacrifice. See full note at 7:27.

9:12

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV"having obtained eternal redemption"
TEV"obtained eternal salvation"
NJB"having won an eternal redemption"

This is an aorist middle participle, which denotes a completed act emphasizing the subject's participation and interest. The word "eternal" may relate to (1) its quality, "life of the new age" or (2) its quantity, "life without end." With the warnings in Hebrews so poignant, possibly #1 fits best. See Special Topic: Eternal at 6:2.

▣ "redemption" This word refers to the ransom paid by a close relative for someone's release. This is the OT "go'el" (cf. Ruth 4; Isa. 43:1; 44:22,23; 48:20; 12:9; 63:9; Hos. 13:14).

9:13 "if" This is a first class conditional sentence which is assumed to be true. God accepted the Mosaic sacrificial system as a means of covering sin until Christ!

▣ "ashes of a heifer" The red heifer's ashes were used for ceremonial cleansing (cf. Numbers 19).

▣ "sprinkling" This was part of the Mosaic ritual involving liquids (blood or ashes of the red heifer mixed with water). It was a way of transferring holiness or cleansing power. Robert B. Girdlestone in his Synonyms of The Old Testament has an interesting comment.

"The sprinklings (shantismoi) specially referred to in the Epistle to the Hebrews are of two kinds—that which was performed with the ashes of a red heifer on persons who had contracted certain defilement (Heb. 9.13), and that which was performed with blood on the people and the Book in making the old covenant; also on the tabernacle and various vessels connected with the sacred service (Heb. 9.19,21). The substance of which these are the shadows is the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, which speaketh better things than that of Abel (Heb. 12.24)" (p. 152).

9:14 "how much more" Comparing the covenants is the theme of the book (cf. 2:1-3; 3:3; 8:6; 10:28-29).

▣ "who through the eternal Spirit" This is either Christ's pre-existent spirit or the Holy Spirit.

The United Bible Societies' A Handbook on The Letter to the Hebrews by Ellingworth and Nida, lists several reasons why it probably should be a small "s" when the majority of modern translations (NASB, NKJV, NRSV, TEV, NJB, NIV) have a capital.

1. there is no definite article

2. the author often speaks of "the Holy Spirit" and addresses Him by this full title

3. this phrase may be parallel to "the power of an indestructible life" in 7:16 (p. 196).

In his commentary on Hebrews in the New International Commentary Series, F. F. Bruce makes an interesting comment that the concept of Spirit is an allusion to the sections of Isaiah containing the "servant Songs" (chapters 40-54). In this section, 42:1 says "I have put my Spirit upon him" (p. 205). In a book like Hebrews, which uses the OT so freely, this makes good sense.

▣ "offered Himself" This is Christ's voluntary act (cf. John 10:17-18; II Cor. 5:21; Phil. 2:8, Isa. 52:13-53:12). See SPECIAL TOPIC: JESUS AS HIGH PRIEST at 2:17.

"without blemish" See Special Topic at 7:26.

▣ "from dead works" This same phrase appears in 6:1 as referring to OT rituals and procedures as a means of gaining salvation. The true means is the finished substitutionary atonement of the Lamb of God (cf. John 1:29; I John 3:5). I really appreciate M. R. Vincent's comment in his Word Studies in the New Testament, which relates dead works to self-righteous legalism:

"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 pre-eminently 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'" (pp. 1139-1140).

▣ "to serve the living God" Notice that believers are saved to serve (cf. Romans 6). Salvation is a freedom from the tyranny of sin, to lordship of God! Salvation is not a product (a pre-purchased ticket to heaven or a fire insurance policy), but a relationship of faith, obedience and service. All believers are gifted for ministry (cf. Eph. 4:11-12) and service to the body of Christ (cf. I Cor. 12:7,12).

The adjective "living" is a play on the OT covenant name for deity, YHWH, which is from the root of the verb "to be." YHWH is the ever-living, only-living One!

SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 9:15-22
 15 For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. 17 For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. 18Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. 19For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you." 21And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood. 22And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

9:15 "mediator" See note at 8:6 (cf. 12:24; I Tim. 2:5).

"a new covenant" This term is first used in 8:8,13, but alluded to in 7:22. This shocking term is found in only one OT text (cf. Jer. 31:31-34) and described in Ezek. 36:22-38. Verses 15-18 are a play on the word "covenant," with its two meanings of legal contract or agreement (Hebrew) and last will and testament (Greek and Latin).

"for the redemption of transgression that were committed under the first covenant those who have been called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance" Remember that Hebrews is a comparison of the Old and New Covenants. The Mosaic Covenant became a death sentence (cf. Eph. 2:14-16; Col. 2:14) to God's highest creation (mankind) because after Genesis 3 they were unable to obey and perform God's commands. The first covenant said "do and live," but no one could fully conform to its requirements. The Old Covenant stated "the soul that sins will die" (cf. II Kgs. 14:6; Ezek. 18:4,20). God's answer was a sinless, ideal Israelite who would pay the price for all, for all time (cf. Isa. 52:13-53:12).

The phrase "those who have been called" refers to God's initiating call to know Him (cf. 3:1; John 6:44,65; Rom. 8:28,30; 9:24). See full note at 3:1.

The concept of "inheritance" is linked to the Levites' unique relationship to YHWH. They were His inheritance and He was theirs (not land like the other tribes). The new covenant believers are now like OT priests (cf. II Pet. 3:5,9; Rev. 1:6). Believers have an eternal inheritance, which is provided by Christ, guarded by God (cf. I Pet. 1:3-5).

SPECIAL TOPIC: RANSOM/REDEEM

▣ "inaugurated" See note at 10:20.

9:19 "goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop" The author seems to have combined the cleansing by sprinkling blood on a leper in Lev. 14:6-7 with the consecration of the Tem Commandments at Sinai in Exod. 24:1-9. The tabernacle was not in existence in chapter 24 (cf. Exodus 40). Josephus tells us that sprinkling with blood was part of the ritual of Exodus 40.

This word "goats" is missing in several ancient Greek manuscripts (P46, אc, K, L) as well as the Syriac translation and the Greek text used by Origen. Goats were usually used for sin offerings, not covenant ratifications (although not exclusively, cf. Gen. 15:9). Goats are omitted in the ratification of the "ten words" (Torah) in Exod.24:1-8. Possibly "goats" is another allusion to the Day of Atonement, Leviticus 16, where goats are an integral part of the ritual.

It is difficult from our modern perspective to claim that Acts 7 (Stephen's sermon) and the author of Hebrews (chapter 9's description of the ancient tabernacle) are inaccurate. There is so much that is unknown about the ancient rituals themselves and the ever-changing rabbinical traditions associated with them.

9:20 This is a quote from Exodus 24:8.

9:22 "almost say all things" Some things were cleaned without blood in the OT system: (1) Lev. 5:11; (2) Num. 16:46; (3) Num. 31:22-23; (4) Exod. 19:10; 32:30-32; Lev. 15:5; 16:26,28; 22:6; (5) Psalm 51. See note below.

"without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" In the OT cleansing required (1) fire, (2) water, or (3) blood. This author takes sin seriously. Forgiveness involves a life forfeited (cf. Lev. 17:11,14). The OT sacrificial system (cf. Leviticus 1-7) sets the stage for our understanding of Christ's substitutionary death (cf. Matt. 26:28; Mark 10:45; I Cor. 11:25; II Cor. 5:21).

In the OT there were several ways things/people were cleansed without blood.

1. by fire (cf. Lev. 13:52,55; 16:27; Num. 31:23)

2. water (cf. Exod. 19:30; Lev. 15:5; 16:26,28; 22:6; Num. 31:24)

3. flour sacrifice (cf. Lev. 5:11-13)

4. incense (cf. Num. 16:46-48)

5. intercession (cf. Exod. 32:30-32)

6. prayer of confession and contrition (cf. Ps. 32 and 51)

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 9:23-28
 23Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. 26Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

9:23 "for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed" The concept of things in heaven having been polluted by mankind's sin on earth is unusual, but not unique to this author (cf. Rom. 8:18-22). The Day of Atonement, alluded to so often in this chapter, involves the yearly cleansing of the tabernacle from ceremonial defilement (cf. Exod.30:10; Lev. 16:11-20). Heaven may have been polluted by

1. mankind's fall (cf. Rom. 8:18-22; Col. 1:20)

2. Satan's presence (cf. Job 1-2; Zech. 3)

3. simply a concept in rabbinical tradition

 

9:24 "now to appear in the presence of God for us" Jesus' priestly work was done on two levels: (1) as sacrifice on earth and (2) as priest in heaven. This phrase can be understood in two ways: contextually it refers to His sacrificial death on fallen mankind's behalf, but it could be understood as a reference to His continuing intercessory ministry (cf. 7:25; Rom. 8:34; I John 2:1).

The term "appear" is emphanizō, which means "to manifest" (cf. Matt. 27:53). In v. 26 the word "manifest," phaneroō, (cf. II Cor. 5:10; Col. 3:4; I Pet. 5:4; I John 2:28; 3:2) is used and in v. 28 the word "appear," optomai (cf. Matt. 17:3; Luke 1:11; 9:31; 22:43; 24:34; Acts 2:3; 7:2,30,35; 9:17; 16:9; 26:16).

It is surprising the author uses three synonymous terms.

9:25 This continues the theological emphasis of the book of Hebrews that Jesus gave Himself "once" (cf. 7:27; 9:11,25-28; 10:10) thereby, His priesthood, sacrifice, and sanctuary are superior to their OT counterparts.

9:26

NASB"otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often"
NKJV"He then would have had to suffer often"
NRSV"for then he would have had to suffer again"
TEV"for then he would have had to suffer many times"
NJB"or else he would have had to suffer over and over again"

In his Word Pictures in the New Testament, A. T. Robertson asserts that this is an assumed second class conditional sentence (Vol. V, p. 404), which would imply a false statement resulting in a false conclusion. Jesus suffered only once, not like the regular sacrifices.

NASB"at the consummation of the ages"
NKJV"at the end of the ages"
NRSV"at the end of the age"
TEV"now when all ages of time are nearing the end"
NJB"at the end of the last age"

There are several Greek terms that relate to "time," "eternity," and "age." In chapter 9 three temporal referents are used:.

1. 9:9, "present time," i.e., Old Testament

2. 9:10, "time of reformation," i.e., New Testament (start of the new age,)

3. 9:26, "consummation of the ages," i.e., new age of righteousness (consummation of the new age, cf. Matt. 13:39,40,49; 24:3; 28:20)

The rabbis and the NT authors envisioned two ages (a horizontal dualism): (1) a current evil age characterized by human rebellion and the curse of God and (2) the age to come inaugurated by the Messiah, a day of righteousness.

The OT focuses on the majestic, powerful coming of the Messiah as Judge and Ruler, but as the NT reveals, He will come twice, once as suffering servant, the Lamb of God; and later, just the way the OT predicted. These two distinct comings have caused the overlapping of the two Jewish ages. The Kingdom of God has come with Jesus' birth but will not be consummated until His glorious return. Believers are thus citizens of two realms: the eternal Kingdom and a temporal kingdom.

9:27 This verse surely rejects any notion of the transmigration of souls, the wheel of kharma, or previous lives, which is a horrible doctrine for fallen, sinful humanaity! It is the Christian worldview of "one life, then judgment" that fuels the urgency of evangelism; that destroys the theological concept of universalism (all humans will be saved in the end); that demands the great commission (cf. Matt. 28:19-20) not be turned into a good suggestion or the great option!

9:28 "to bear the sins of many" This may be an allusion to Isa. 53:12 (cf. I Pet. 2:24). The term "many" is not exclusive (some), but parallel to "all" of 53:6 (cf. Rom. 5:18, "all"; 5:19, "many").

The term "bear" may also be an allusion to Isa. 53:4,11,12. The Hebrew verb means "to bear" or "take away" (cf. I Pet. 2:24). "Jesus paid a debt He did not owe; we owed a debt we could not pay."

"will appear a second time" This probably refers to the Second Coming of Christ, a recurrent NT theme (cf. Matt. 24:3,27,30,37,39,42,44; 26:64; Mark 13:20; 14:62; Luke 21:27; John 14:3; Acts 1:11; I Cor. 1:7; 15:23; Phil. 3:20-21; I Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15-16; 5:23; II Thess. 1:7,10; 2:1,8; I Tim. 6:14; II Tim. 4:1,8; Titus 2:13; Heb. 9:28; James 5:7-8; I Pet. 1:7,13; II Pet. 1:16; 3:4,12; I John 2:28). See Special Topic: Greek Verb Tenses Used for Salvation at 1:14.

However, it is possible, contextually, that it refers to Christ leaving the heavenly tabernacle after His great and successful sacrifice (cf. New Testament Transline by Michael Magill, p. 846, #32 and 35). Something analogous to the OT High Priest exiting the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement.

NASB"for salvation without reference to sin"
NKJV"apart from sin, for salvation"
NRSV, TEV"not to deal with sin, but to save"
NJB"sin being no more. . .to bring salvation"

This phrase seems to imply that Christ came the first time to deal with mankind's sin problem, but He will come again to gather to Himself (cf. I Thess. 4:13-18) those who have trusted in Him and long for His return (cf. Rom. 8:19,23; I Cor. 1:7; Phil. 3:20; Titus 2:13).

▣ "to those who eagerly await Him" This may be another allusion to the ceremony of the Day of Atonement, where the Israelites eagerly waited for the High Priest to come out of the Holy of Holies alive, which symbolized YHWH's acceptance of his intercessory ministry.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. Why does the author of Hebrews discuss the ancient tabernacle of the wilderness?

2. Why is 9:9 theologically significant?

3. Is there a real physical tabernacle in Heaven that Christ actually entered and offered a sacrifice?

4. What two connotations of "covenant" does the author use in verses 15-18?