The High Priest of a Better Covenant
1 Now the main point of what we are saying is this:#tn Grk “the main point of the things being said.” We have such a high priest, one who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,#sn An allusion to Ps 110:1; see Heb 1:3, 13. 2 a minister in the sanctuary and the true tabernacle that the Lord, not man, set up. 3 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. So this one too had to have something to offer. 4 Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest, since there are already priests who offer#tn Grk “there are those who offer.” the gifts prescribed by the law. 5 The place where they serve is#tn Grk “who serve in,” referring to the Levitical priests, but focusing on the provisional and typological nature of the tabernacle in which they served. a sketch#tn Or “prototype,” “outline.” The Greek word ὑπόδειγμα (Jupodeigma) does not mean “copy,” as it is often translated; it means “something to be copied,” a basis for imitation. BDAG 1037 s.v. 2 lists both Heb 8:5 and 9:23 under the second category of usage, “an indication of someth. that appears at a subsequent time,” emphasizing the temporal progression between the earthly and heavenly sanctuaries.sn There are two main options for understanding the conceptual background of the heavenly sanctuary imagery. The first is to understand the imagery to be functioning on a vertical plane. This background is Hellenistic, philosophical, and spatial in orientation and sees the earthly sanctuary as a copy of the heavenly reality. The other option is to see the imagery functioning on a horizontal plane. This background is Jewish, eschatological, and temporal and sees the heavenly sanctuary as the fulfillment and true form of the earthly sanctuary which preceded it. The second option is preferred, both for lexical reasons (see tn above) and because it fits the Jewish context of the book (although many scholars prefer to emphasize the relationship the book has to Hellenistic thought). and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary, just as Moses was warned by God as he was about to complete the tabernacle. For he says, “See that you make everything according to the design#tn The word τύπος (tupos) here has the meaning “an archetype serving as a model, type, pattern, model” (BDAG 1020 s.v. 6.a). This is in keeping with the horizontal imagery accepted for this verse (see sn on “sketch” earlier in the verse). Here Moses was shown the future heavenly sanctuary which, though it did not yet exist, became the outline for the earthly sanctuary. shown to you on the mountain.”#sn A quotation from Exod 25:40. 6 But#sn The Greek text indicates a contrast between vv. 4-5 and v. 6 that is difficult to render in English: Jesus’ status in the old order of priests (vv. 4-5) versus his superior ministry (v. 6). now Jesus#tn Grk “he”; in the translation the referent (Jesus) has been specified for clarity. has obtained a superior ministry, since#tn Grk “to the degree that.” the covenant that he mediates is also better and is enacted#tn Grk “which is enacted.” on better promises.#sn This linkage of the change in priesthood with a change in the law or the covenant goes back to Heb 7:12, 22 and is picked up again in Heb 9:6-15 and 10:1-18.
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, no one would have looked for a second one.#tn Grk “no occasion for a second one would have been sought.” 8 But#tn Grk “for,” but providing an explanation of the God-intended limitation of the first covenant from v. 7. showing its fault,#sn The “fault” or limitation in the first covenant was not in its inherent righteousness, but in its design from God himself. It was never intended to be his final revelation or provision for mankind; it was provisional, always pointing toward the fulfillment to come in Christ. God#tn Grk “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity. says to them,#tc ‡ Several witnesses (א* A D* I K P Ψ 33 81 326 365 1505 2464 al latt co Cyr) have αὐτούς (autous) here, “[in finding fault with] them, [he says],” alluding to Israel’s failings mentioned in v. 9b. (The verb μέμφομαι [memfomai, “to find fault with”] can take an accusative or dative direct object.) The reading behind the text above (αὐτοίς, autoi"), supported by Ì46 א2 B D2 0278 1739 1881 Ï, is perhaps a harder reading theologically, and is more ambiguous in meaning. If αὐτοίς goes with μεμφόμενος (memfomeno", here translated “showing its fault”), the clause could be translated “in finding fault with them” or “in showing [its] faults to them.” If αὐτοίς goes with the following λέγει (legei, “he says”), the clause is best translated, “in finding/showing [its] faults, he says to them.” The accusative pronoun suffers no such ambiguity, for it must be the object of μεμφόμενος rather than λέγει. Although a decision is difficult, the dative form of the pronoun best explains the rise of the other reading and is thus more likely to be original.
“Look, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will complete a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.
9 “It will not be like the covenant#tn Grk “not like the covenant,” continuing the description of v. 8b. that I made with their fathers, on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not continue in my covenant and I had no regard for them, says the Lord.
10 “For this is the covenant that I will establish with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will put#tn Grk “putting…I will inscribe.” my laws in their minds#tn Grk “mind.” and I will inscribe them on their hearts. And I will be their God and they will be my people.#tn Grk “I will be to them for a God and they will be to me for a people,” following the Hebrew constructions of Jer 31.
11 “And there will be no need at all#tn Grk “they will not teach, each one his fellow citizen…” The Greek makes this negation emphatic: “they will certainly not teach.” for each one to teach his countryman or each one to teach his brother saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ since they will all know me, from the least to the greatest.#tn Grk “from the small to the great.”
12 “For I will be merciful toward their evil deeds, and their sins I will remember no longer.”#sn A quotation from Jer 31:31-34.
13 When he speaks of a new covenant,#tn Grk “when he says, ‘new,’” (referring to the covenant). he makes the first obsolete. Now what is growing obsolete and aging is about to disappear.#tn Grk “near to disappearing.”