Hebrews 8:1-13 - Outline of Hebrews (MENU page)
8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken [this is] the sum:
We have such an high priest,
who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;
the sum- ie., the chief point, the focal point.
such an high priest- The focus of the book to this juncture has been on the
excellencies and superiorities of the Person of Christ, our High Priest. eg.: Heb 7:25-28
Now the focus shifts to the superiority of His Ministry as High Priest.
is set {ie., is seated}- His sacrificial ministry is completed.
The OT priests had no place to sit in the Holy Place. Their work was never done.
cp. Psa 110:1; Heb 1:3,13; 10:11,12
on...the throne- Remember, our High Priest is also King. Heb 7:2,3; Rev 3:21
8:2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle,
which the Lord pitched, and not man.
a minister- Though seated, from His sacrificial work, our High Priest continues to minister.
eg., as intercessor (Heb 7:25), mediator (8:6)...
the sanctuary- lit., "the holies" (plural), ie., the Holy of Holies.
the tabernacle- tent. In ch. 8-10, Christ's ministry will be compared with the priestly ministry
which centered on the Tabernacle in the wilderness (from which the later Temple ministry was modeled).
the true {ie., real, genuine}...which the Lord pitched-
Christ's ministry takes place in Heaven itself
(from which the earthly Tabernacle was patterned, v. 5).
8:3 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices:
wherefore [it is] of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.
is ordained {is appointed}- The present tense implies that
the Temple in Jerusalem was still in operation at the time of writing.
Central to the ministry of earthly priests was the offering of -
-- gifts- ie., unbloody offerings of thanksgiving & worship.
-- sacrifices- GK=thusia, sacrifices involving death as an expiation for sin.
this man...also- Christ, as our High Priest must also:
offer- GK=prosphero, to bring, to present...
somewhat to offer -
  • Christ's sacrifice- Himself (9:11,12)
    (The superiority of His sacrifice is further explained in 9:11- 10:18.)
  • Christ's offerings- Our prayer & praise (10:19-25) "of which our High Priest removes the fleshly and sinful elements, adds His own perfections, then presents them to the Father." [HAIronside]
8:4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest,
seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:
priests...according to the law- The earthly Aaronic priesthood was
governed by the Law, and passed on by family succession.
Christ did not qualify to be a priest under that system (cp. 7:12-16).
Christ's priestly ministry is entirely heavenly.
8:5 Who {ie., the Aaronic priests} serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things,
as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for,
See, saith he, [that] thou make all things
according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.
example- GK=hupodeigma, lit., the under showings, ie., a figure, a token
(to teach an underlying meaning).
shadow- By observing the shadow, we can learn much about the realities which are beyond our sight.
The Tabernacle "was only a shadow, but it rises above all temples and symbols of man's art and device, as being a shadow of 'heavenly things'." [CJEllicott] The OT Tabernacle & priesthood provide a framework for understanding Christ's priestly ministry (which is the heavenly reality).
the pattern {GK=tupos, type, imprint}...in the mount-
Moses could not know that these things foreshadowed the Person & Work of God's Son. But he was faithful to obey God's detailed instructions. If he had interjected his own ingenuity or imagination, he would have distorted the picture (or, type) of Christ.
In the OT, the Tabernacle & Temple were regarded as God's House in a symbollic sense.
They were to reflect the glory of His true dwelling place in heaven.
Ex 25:40; 1Chr 28:11,12,19; 2Chr 6:18-21
8:6 But now hath he {ie., Christ} obtained a more excellent ministry,
by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant,
which was established upon better promises.
more excellent...by how much- cp. NIV reading:
"The ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant, of which He is mediator, is superior to the old one... and it is founded upon better promises."
mediator- GK=mesites, the arbitrator who formulates or secures a covenant between parties.
Jesus, because He is the God-Man, is uniquely qualified to mediate between God & man. 1Tim 2:5; Heb 7:22
covenant- GK=diatheke, a disposition, a dividing (eg., of an inheritance).
An elaborate ceremony often marked the seriousness of 'cutting' a covenant, in OT times. Animals were slain, their bodies were cut in two, and the mediators of the covenant walked together between the pieces. In effect, they were promising that if they did not keep the covenant provisions, they would suffer the fate of the slain animals. [Additional symbolic significance will be explained in the Book Notes at Heb 9:16,17.]
In the following examples... Who was the mediator of the covenant?
Upon whose performance did the covenant stand or fall?
  • Gen 15:7-18 (The LORD swore by Himself to fulfill His promises to Abraham.)
  • Jer 34:17-20 (The leaders of Judah pledged to obey God. But they failed.)
the mediator of a better covenant - Christ Himself secures the new covenant. Luk 22:19,20
established- GK=nomotheteo, legislated, ordained (ie., not negotiated, but enacted by God).
upon better promises-
  • The old Mosaic covenant was "conditional" depending upon the promises of men.
    God said, "If ye will, I will..." Ex 19:5-8
  • The new covenant is unconditional, resting upon God's promises alone.
    God commits Himself to their fulfillment. He says "I will... I will..." (vs. 8,10,12)
8:7 For if that first [covenant] had been faultless,
then should no place have been sought for the second.
8:8 For finding fault with them, he saith,
{Note that the fault was not in the old covenant, but in the people. (v. 9)}
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
I will make- GK=sunteleo, bring to completion, accomplish.
with Israel... with Judah -
The new covenant - [follow points (1) - (7), in vs.8-13]
(1)- relates to Israel... (as do the other biblical covenants) Rom 9:4
  • ...was foretold to Israel. vs. 8-12 quote Jer 31:31-34
  • ...guarantees that Israel will enter into God's promise. Jer 30:18; 31:8,10,11
  • ...reaffirms the unconditional covenant made to Abraham.
    Although the New Covenant supercedes the Old (Mosaic) Covenant,
    the Abrahamic Covenant remains in effect for Israel (Gal 3:17-29).
8:9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers
in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt;
because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
The old covenant - was given to Moses at Mt. Sinai.
- was ratified by the people, who promised to obey it. (Ex 19:5-8)
- was broken by sinful men:
they continued not...- ie., they did not remain true.
cp. Jer 31:32 "which, my covenant, they brake."
I regarded them not- or, "I turned away from them." [NIV]
cp. Jer 31:32 "...my covenant they brake, though I was an husband unto them."
The old covenant demanded righteousness, but it did not provide the power to obey.
The new covenant, established on "better promises" (v. 6), does what the Law could not do (Rom 8:3,4)
8:10 For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, saith the Lord;
I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts:
and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
{Jer 31:33}
The new covenant-
(2)- secures inward agreement & conformity to God's will.
'my laws into...their mind, and...hearts'.
Deu 30:6; Eze 36:25-28; Titus 2:14
(3)- secures right relationship of God & man.
'I...to them...; they...to me...'
Hos 1:10; 2:23; Zech 13:9; Rom 9:25,26
8:11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother,
saying, Know
{GK=ginosko} the Lord:
for all shall know
{GK=oida} me, from the least to the greatest. {Jer 31:34a}
The new covenant-
(4)- secures intuitive & intimate knowledge of the Lord.
ginosko= to know by acquisition of fact.
oida= to know with understanding, fully & intimately. Compare these words as used in...
  • Joh 8:55 "Yet, ye have not known {ginosko} Him; but I know {oida} Him. And if I should say, I know {oida} Him not, I shall be a liar like unto you; but I know {oida} Him and keep His saying."
  • Joh 14:17 "...the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth {ginosko} Him: but ye know {oida} Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."
  • Also Jer 9:24; 24:7; Hab 2:14; Joh 6:45
8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness,
and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
{Jer 31:34b}
The new covenant-
(5)- provides complete & final disposition of sin.
merciful- GK=hileos, propitious. The propitiation for sin is the blood of Christ.
Rom 3:23-25; Luk 22:19,20
8:13 In that he saith, A new [covenant], {lit., In saying, "New,"}
he hath made the first old.
Now that which decayeth and waxeth old [is] ready to vanish away.
The new covenant-
(6)- replaces the old (Mosaic) covenant.
decayeth- GK=palaios (cp. Eng. ''paleontology''), becoming worn out by time & use.
grows old- GK=gerasko (cp. Eng. ''geriatric''), failing due to age, obsolescent.
ready- ie., near in time...
to vanish- GK=apharizo, to disappear. (cp. Heb 8:8; 7:11,12,18,19)
The Law was "weak through the flesh" (Rom 7:7-25; 8:1-4).
     Illustration [adapted from JVMcGee]: An overdone roast can't be lifted from the pan with a fork. It is weak through the flesh. The fork is strong, but it tears the weak meat. The fork must be set aside. The weakness of our sinful flesh requires the shovel of God's Spirit to lift us, where the Law could not. We need to turn ourselves over to Him.
(7)- is available for 'everyman' (v. 11), even though it was made with Israel (v. 8).
When Israel receives their Messiah, the future age of earthly blessings will come.
But for present day believers (both Jew & Gentile), the same blood of the covenant secures present spiritual blessings. For example, we are seated with Him in the heavenlies (Eph 2:4-6), united to Him by the Spirit (1Cor 12:13), and have access by Him into the Holy of Holies (Heb 10:19-22)...
There is no other "such an High Priest" (v. 1), who can bring you safely into God's presence.
There is no system of religion, education, philosophy, or psychology, which can transform the sinner and make him fit for the Holy Presence of God - except the New Covenant in Christ's blood.


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