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Hebrews 9:1--10:39

Context
The Arrangement and Ritual of the Earthly Sanctuary

9:1 Now the first covenant, 1  in fact, had regulations for worship and its earthly sanctuary. 9:2 For a tent was prepared, the outer one, 2  which contained 3  the lampstand, the table, and the presentation of the loaves; this 4  is called the holy place. 9:3 And after the second curtain there was a tent called the holy of holies. 9:4 It contained the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered entirely with gold. In this ark 5  were the golden urn containing the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. 9:5 And above the ark 6  were the cherubim 7  of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Now is not the time to speak of these things in detail. 9:6 So with these things prepared like this, the priests enter continually into the outer tent 8  as they perform their duties. 9:7 But only the high priest enters once a year into the inner tent, 9  and not without blood that he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. 10  9:8 The Holy Spirit is making clear that the way into the holy place had not yet appeared as long as the old tabernacle 11  was standing. 9:9 This was a symbol for the time then present, when gifts and sacrifices were offered that could not perfect the conscience of the worshiper. 9:10 They served only for matters of food and drink 12  and various washings; they are external regulations 13  imposed until the new order came. 14 

Christ’s Service in the Heavenly Sanctuary

9:11 But now Christ has come 15  as the high priest of the good things to come. He passed through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, 9:12 and he entered once for all into the most holy place not by the blood of goats and calves but by his own blood, and so he himself secured 16  eternal redemption. 9:13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow sprinkled on those who are defiled consecrated them and provided ritual purity, 17  9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our 18  consciences from dead works to worship the living God.

9:15 And so he is the mediator 19  of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the eternal inheritance he has promised, 20  since he died 21  to set them free from the violations committed under the first covenant. 9:16 For where there is a will, the death of the one who made it must be proven. 22  9:17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it carries no force while the one who made it is alive. 9:18 So even the first covenant was inaugurated with blood. 23  9:19 For when Moses had spoken every command to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats with water and scarlet wool and hyssop and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 9:20 and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that God has commanded you to keep.” 24  9:21 And both the tabernacle and all the utensils of worship he likewise sprinkled with blood. 9:22 Indeed according to the law almost everything was purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. 9:23 So it was necessary for the sketches 25  of the things in heaven to be purified with these sacrifices, 26  but the heavenly things themselves required 27  better sacrifices than these. 9:24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with hands – the representation 28  of the true sanctuary 29  – but into heaven itself, and he appears now in God’s presence for us. 9:25 And he did not enter to offer 30  himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the sanctuary year after year with blood that is not his own, 9:26 for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the consummation of the ages to put away sin by his sacrifice. 9:27 And just as people 31  are appointed to die once, and then to face judgment, 32  9:28 so also, after Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many, 33  to those who eagerly await him he will appear a second time, not to bear sin 34  but to bring salvation. 35 

Concluding Exposition: Old and New Sacrifices Contrasted

10:1 For the law possesses a shadow of the good things to come but not the reality itself, and is therefore completely unable, by the same sacrifices offered continually, year after year, to perfect those who come to worship. 36  10:2 For otherwise would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers would have been purified once for all and so have 37  no further consciousness of sin? 10:3 But in those sacrifices 38  there is a reminder of sins year after year. 10:4 For the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins. 39  10:5 So when he came into the world, he said,

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me.

10:6Whole burnt offerings and sin-offerings you took no delight in.

10:7Then I said,Here I am: 40  I have come – it is written of me in the scroll of the book – to do your will, O God.’” 41 

10:8 When he says above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sin-offerings you did not desire nor did you take delight in them” 42  (which are offered according to the law), 10:9 then he says, “Here I am: I have come to do your will.” 43  He does away with 44  the first to establish the second. 10:10 By his will 45  we have been made holy through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 10:11 And every priest stands day after day 46  serving and offering the same sacrifices again and again – sacrifices that can never take away sins. 10:12 But when this priest 47  had offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right hand 48  of God, 10:13 where he is now waiting 49  until his enemies are made a footstool for his feet. 50  10:14 For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy. 10:15 And the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us, for after saying, 51  10:16This is the covenant that I will establish with them after those days, says the Lord. I will put 52  my laws on their hearts and I will inscribe them on their minds,” 53  10:17 then he says, 54 Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no longer.” 55  10:18 Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

Drawing Near to God in Enduring Faith

10:19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, 56  since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 10:20 by the fresh and living way that he inaugurated for us 57  through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 58  10:21 and since we have a great priest 59  over the house of God, 10:22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings, 60  because we have had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience 61  and our bodies washed in pure water. 10:23 And let us hold unwaveringly to the hope that we confess, for the one who made the promise is trustworthy. 10:24 And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, 62  10:25 not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day 63  drawing near. 64 

10:26 For if we deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, no further sacrifice for sins is left for us, 65  10:27 but only a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a fury 66  of fire that will consume God’s enemies. 67  10:28 Someone who rejected the law of Moses was put to death 68  without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 69  10:29 How much greater punishment do you think that person deserves who has contempt for 70  the Son of God, and profanes 71  the blood of the covenant that made him holy, 72  and insults the Spirit of grace? 10:30 For we know the one who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” 73  and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 74  10:31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

10:32 But remember the former days when you endured a harsh conflict of suffering after you were enlightened. 10:33 At times you were publicly exposed to abuse and afflictions, and at other times you came to share with others who were treated in that way. 10:34 For in fact you shared the sufferings of those in prison, 75  and you accepted the confiscation of your belongings with joy, because you knew that you certainly 76  had a better and lasting possession. 10:35 So do not throw away your confidence, because it 77  has great reward. 10:36 For you need endurance in order to do God’s will and so receive what is promised. 78  10:37 For just a little longer 79  and he who is coming will arrive and not delay. 80  10:38 But my righteous one will live by faith, and if he shrinks back, I 81  take no pleasure in him. 82  10:39 But we are not among those who shrink back and thus perish, but are among those who have faith and preserve their souls. 83 

1 tn Grk “the first” (referring to the covenant described in Heb 8:7, 13). In the translation the referent (covenant) has been specified for clarity.

2 tn Grk “the first,” in order of approach in the ritual.

3 tn Grk “in which [were].”

4 tn Grk “which,” describing the outer tent.

5 tn Grk “in which”; in the translation the referent (the ark) has been specified for clarity.

6 tn Grk “above it”; in the translation the referent (the ark) has been specified for clarity.

7 sn The cherubim (pl.) were an order of angels mentioned repeatedly in the OT but only here in the NT. They were associated with God’s presence, glory, and holiness. Their images that sat on top of the ark of the covenant are described in Exod 25:18-20.

8 tn Grk “the first tent.”

9 tn Grk “the second tent.”

10 tn Or perhaps “the unintentional sins of the people”; Grk “the ignorances of the people.” Cf. BDAG 13 s.v. ἀγνόημα, “sin committed in ignorance/unintentionally.” This term seems to be simply a synonym for “sins” (cf. Heb 5:2) and does not pick up the distinction made in Num 15:22-31 between unwitting sin and “high-handed” sin. The Day of Atonement ritual in Lev 16 covered all the sins of the people, not just the unwitting ones.

11 tn Grk “the first tent.” The literal phrase “the first tent” refers to either (1) the outer chamber of the tabernacle in the wilderness (as in vv. 2, 6) or (2) the entire tabernacle as a symbol of the OT system of approaching God. The second is more likely given the contrast that follows in vv. 11-12.

12 tn Grk “only for foods and drinks.”

13 tc Most witnesses (D1 Ï) have “various washings, and external regulations” (βαπτισμοῖς καὶ δικαιώμασιν, baptismoi" kai dikaiwmasin), with both nouns in the dative. The translation “washings; they are… regulations” renders βαπτισμοῖς, δικαιώματα (baptismoi", dikaiwmata; found in such important mss as Ì46 א* A I P 0278 33 1739 1881 al sa) in which case δικαιώματα is taken as the nominative subject of the participle ἐπικείμενα (epikeimena). It seems far more likely that scribes would conform δικαιώματα to the immediately preceding datives and join it to them by καί than they would to the following nominative participle. Both on external and internal evidence the text is thus secure as reading βαπτισμοῖς, δικαιώματα.

14 tn Grk “until the time of setting things right.”

15 tn Grk “But Christ, when he came,” introducing a sentence that includes all of Heb 9:11-12. The main construction is “Christ, having come…, entered…, having secured…,” and everything else describes his entrance.

16 tn This verb occurs in the Greek middle voice, which here intensifies the role of the subject, Christ, in accomplishing the action: “he alone secured”; “he and no other secured.”

17 tn Grk “for the purifying of the flesh.” The “flesh” here is symbolic of outward or ritual purity in contrast to inner purity, that of the conscience (cf. Heb 9:9).

18 tc The reading adopted by the translation is attested by many authorities (A D* K P 365 1739* al). But many others (א D2 0278 33 1739c 1881 Ï lat sa) read “your” instead of “our.” The diversity of evidence makes this a difficult case to decide from external evidence alone. The first and second person pronouns differ by only one letter in Greek, as in English, also making this problem difficult to decide based on internal evidence and transcriptional probability. In the context, the author’s description of sacrificial activities seems to invite the reader to compare his own possible participation in OT liturgy as over against the completed work of Christ, so the second person pronoun “your” might make more sense. On the other hand, TCGNT 599 argues that “our” is preferable because the author of Hebrews uses direct address (i.e., the second person) only in the hortatory sections. What is more, the author seems to prefer the first person in explanatory remarks or when giving the logical grounds for an assertion (cf. Heb 4:15; 7:14). It is hard to reach a definitive conclusion in this case, but the data lean slightly in favor of the first person pronoun.

19 tn The Greek word μεσίτης (mesith", “mediator”) in this context does not imply that Jesus was a mediator in the contemporary sense of the word, i.e., he worked for compromise between opposing parties. Here the term describes his function as the one who was used by God to enact a new covenant which established a new relationship between God and his people, but entirely on God’s terms.

20 tn Grk “the promise of the eternal inheritance.”

21 tn Grk “a death having occurred.”

22 tn Grk “there is a necessity for the death of the one who made it to be proven.”

23 sn The Greek text reinforces this by negating the opposite (“not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood”), but this double negation is not used in contemporary English.

24 tn Grk “which God commanded for you (or in your case).”

sn A quotation from Exod 24:8.

25 tn Or “prototypes,” “outlines,” referring to the earthly sanctuary. See Heb 8:5 above for the prior use of this term.

26 tn Grk “with these”; in the translation the referent (sacrifices) has been specified for clarity.

27 tn Grk “the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.”

28 tn Or “prefiguration.”

29 tn The word “sanctuary” is not in the Greek text at this point, but has been supplied for clarity.

30 tn Grk “and not that he might offer,” continuing the previous construction.

31 tn Here ἀνθρώποις (anqrwpoi") has been translated as a generic noun (“people”).

32 tn Grk “and after this – judgment.”

33 sn An allusion to Isa 53:12.

34 tn Grk “without sin,” but in context this does not refer to Christ’s sinlessness (as in Heb 4:15) but to the fact that sin is already dealt with by his first coming.

35 tn Grk “for salvation.” This may be construed with the verb “await” (those who wait for him to bring them salvation), but the connection with “appear” (as in the translation) is more likely.

36 tn Grk “those who approach.”

37 tn Grk “the worshipers, having been purified once for all, would have.”

38 tn Grk “in them”; the referent (those sacrifices) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

39 tn Grk “for it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”

40 tn Grk “behold,” but this construction often means “here is/there is” (cf. BDAG 468 s.v. ἰδού 2).

41 sn A quotation from Ps 40:6-8 (LXX). The phrase a body you prepared for me (in v. 5) is apparently an interpretive expansion of the HT reading “ears you have dug out for me.”

42 sn Various phrases from the quotation of Ps 40:6 in Heb 10:5-6 are repeated in Heb 10:8.

43 tc The majority of mss, especially the later ones (א2 0278vid 1739 Ï lat), have ὁ θεός (Jo qeo", “God”) at this point, while most of the earliest and best witnesses lack such an explicit addressee (so Ì46 א* A C D K P Ψ 33 1175 1881 2464 al). The longer reading is a palpable corruption, apparently motivated in part by the wording of Ps 40:8 (39:9 LXX) and by the word order of this same verse as quoted in Heb 10:7.

44 tn Or “abolishes.”

45 tn Grk “by which will.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

46 tn Or “daily,” “every day.”

47 tn Grk “this one.” This pronoun refers to Jesus, but “this priest” was used in the translation to make the contrast between the Jewish priests in v. 11 and Jesus as a priest clearer in English.

48 sn An allusion to Ps 110:1.

49 tn Grk “from then on waiting.”

50 sn An allusion to Ps 110:1.

51 tn Grk “after having said,” emphasizing the present impact of this utterance.

52 tn Grk “putting…I will inscribe.”

53 sn A quotation from Jer 31:33.

54 tn Grk “and.”

55 sn A quotation from Jer 31:34.

56 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 2:11.

57 tn Grk “that he inaugurated for us as a fresh and living way,” referring to the entrance mentioned in v. 19.

58 sn Through his flesh. In a bold shift the writer changes from a spatial phrase (Christ opened the way through the curtain into the inner sanctuary) to an instrumental phrase (he did this through [by means of] his flesh in his sacrifice of himself), associating the two in an allusion to the splitting of the curtain in the temple from top to bottom (Matt 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45). Just as the curtain was split, so Christ’s body was broken for us, to give us access into God’s presence.

59 tn Grk “and a great priest,” continuing the construction begun in v. 19.

60 tn Grk “in assurance of faith.”

61 sn The phrase our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience combines the OT imagery of the sprinkling with blood to give ritual purity with the emphasis on the interior cleansing provided by the new covenant: It is the heart that is cleansed and the conscience made perfect (cf. Heb 8:10; 9:9, 14; 10:2, 16).

62 tn Grk “let us consider one another for provoking of love and good deeds.”

63 sn The day refers to that well-known time of Christ’s coming and judgment in the future; see a similar use of “day” in 1 Cor 3:13.

64 tn This paragraph (vv. 19-25) is actually a single, skillfully composed sentence in Greek, but it must be broken into shorter segments for English idiom. It begins with several subordinate phrases (since we have confidence and a great priest), has three parallel exhortations as its main verbs (let us draw near, hold, and take thought), and concludes with several subordinate phrases related to the final exhortation (not abandoning but encouraging).

65 tn Grk “is left,” with “for us” implied by the first half of the verse.

66 tn Grk “zeal,” recalling God’s jealous protection of his holiness and honor (cf. Exod 20:5).

sn An allusion to Zeph 1:18.

67 tn Grk “the enemies.”

sn An allusion to Isa 26:11.

68 tn Grk “dies.”

69 sn An allusion to Deut 17:6.

70 tn Grk “tramples under foot.”

71 tn Grk “regarded as common.”

72 tn Grk “by which he was made holy.”

73 sn A quotation from Deut 32:35.

74 sn A quotation from Deut 32:36.

75 tc Most witnesses, including some important ones (א D2 1881 Ï), read δεσμοῖς μου (desmoi" mou, “my imprisonment”) here, a reading that is probably due to the widespread belief in the early Christian centuries that Paul was the author of Hebrews (cf. Phil 1:7; Col 4:18). It may have been generated by the reading δεσμοῖς without the μου (so Ì46 Ψ 104 pc), the force of which is so ambiguous (lit., “you shared the sufferings with the bonds”) as to be virtually nonsensical. Most likely, δεσμοῖς resulted when a scribe made an error in copying δεσμίοις (desmioi"), a reading which makes excellent sense (“[of] those in prison”) and is strongly supported by early and significant witnesses of the Alexandrian and Western texttypes (A D* H 6 33 81 1739 lat sy co). Thus, δεσμίοις best explains the rise of the other readings on both internal and external grounds and is strongly preferred.

76 tn Grk “you yourselves.”

77 tn Grk “which,” but showing the reason.

78 tn Grk “the promise,” referring to the thing God promised, not to the pledge itself.

79 sn A quotation from Isa 26:20.

80 sn A quotation from Hab 2:3.

81 tn Grk “my soul.”

82 sn A quotation from Hab 2:4.

83 tn Grk “not…of shrinking back to perdition but of faith to the preservation of the soul.”



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