In the Old Covenant, righteousness was based on making religious sacrifices. But in the New Covenant, it is based on the one-time sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
VERSE 1. Now indeed even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and an earthly sanctuary.
earthly. The Greek word is hkosmikon. It means mundane. The author emphasizes that mundane-ness by reviewing the material objects associated with it.
the Holy of Holies. An artist’s conception is shown above.
VERSE 4. having a golden altar of incense, and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which was a golden pot holding the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant;
a golden pot … Aaron’s rod. At the time when Solomon dedicated the temple, the Ark of the Covenant only contained the stone tablets:
2 Chronicles 5:10. There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of Egypt.
Those extra objects mentioned here in the Book of Hebrews may have been added after Solomon. Or perhaps they had been lost by Solomon’s time.
VERSE 5. and above it cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat, of which things we can’t speak now in detail.
VERSE 6. Now these things having been thus prepared, the priests go in continually into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the services,
the first tabernacle. The religious sacrifices were conducted in the outer part of the temple. They did not succeed in bringing the person into the holy of holies.
VERSE 7. but into the second the high priest alone, once in the year, not without blood, which he offers for himself, and for the errors of the people.
the high priest alone. Nobody but the high priest could enter the holy of holies.
VERSE 8. The Holy Spirit is indicating this, that the way into the Holy Place wasn’t yet revealed while the first tabernacle was still standing.
VERSE 9. This is a symbol of the present age, where gifts and sacrifices are offered that are incapable, concerning the conscience, of making the worshiper perfect,
gifts and sacrifices … that are incapable. Religious sacrifices are powerless to change our lives. They cannot make us perfect. They cannot bring us into eternal life.
concerning the conscience. The individual conscience is the focus.
VERSE 10. being only (with meats and drinks and various washings) fleshly ordinances, imposed until a time of reformation.
until a time of reformation. The author sees the sacrifices of the Old Testament era ending with Jesus Christ.
VERSE 11. But Christ having come as a high priest of the coming good things, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation,
Christ having come as a high priest. To be our high priest was part of the plan of Jesus Christ all along.
the greater and more perfect tabernacle. The temples of the Old Testament era were buildings. They were built by human hands. They were creations bound to our limited realm of time and space.
But the new temple is Jesus Christ himself. He is greater than all the previous ones. It exceeds their perfection.
not made with hands. The temple of Jesus Christ is not man-made.
VERSE 12. nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption.
the blood of goats and calves. In the temples of the Old Testament era, sacrifices were made. The most common was animal sacrifice.
An animal was slaughtered, and its blood was offered to God for the forgiveness of sins.
through his own blood. What sacrifice was offered in the temple of Jesus Christ? It was his own blood.
obtained eternal redemption. The once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ won for us our eternal salvation.
VERSE 13. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify to the cleanness of the flesh,
VERSE 14. how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without defect to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Christ … Spirit … God. Where is the Holy Trinity defined or alluded to in the New Testament? Here are the verses we found.
cleanse your conscience. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ cleanses our consciences.
VERSE 15. For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, since a death has occurred for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, that those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
he is the mediator of a new covenant. Jesus Christ brought about the New Covenant. It is mediated through him.
Titus 3:5. not by works of righteousness which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy, he saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,
VERSE 16. For where a last will and testament is, there must of necessity be the death of him who made it.
VERSE 17. For a will is in force where there has been death, for it is never in force while he who made it lives.
a will. That is, a Last Will and Testament.
where there has been death. A Last Will and Testament is not enacted until after the person dies.
VERSE 18. Therefore even the first covenant has not been dedicated without blood.
VERSE 19. For 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,
Exodus 24:7. Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Look, this is the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has made with you concerning all these words.”
VERSE 21. Moreover he sprinkled the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry in the same way with the blood.
VERSE 22. According to the law, nearly everything is cleansed with blood, and apart from shedding of blood there is no remission.
everything is cleansed with blood. Somehow, blood must be shed in order for sins to be forgiven. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
This explains why Jesus Christ shed his blood at Calvary.
apart from shedding of blood. This is a key point for understanding the identity and mission of Jesus Christ
Without it, people are left wondering who he really was and what he was trying to do. Was he a teacher? A good man? A moral leader? An example of civil disobedience?
VERSE 23. It was necessary therefore that the copies of the things in the heavens should be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
heavenly things. This probably symbolize the consciences of believers, as we saw in verse 14 above.
VERSE 24. For Christ hasn’t entered into holy places made with hands, which are representations of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;
VERSE 25. nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest enters into the holy place year by year with blood not his own,
nor … often. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ was done only once, as we see in verse 28 below. His sacrifice is not ongoing. He does not suffer in perpetuity.
VERSE 26. or else he must have suffered often since the foundation of the world. But now once at the end of the ages, he has been revealed to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
KJV translation: And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.
to die once. Christian believe that we live one life on earth, and then we die.
Lots of Christians often cite verse as “proof” that there is no such thing as reincarnation. However, it does not actually prove that point.
In any case, it we can have eternal salvation, why would we want to be reincarnated back on earth, and suffer all over again?
VERSE 28. so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, without sin, to those who are eagerly waiting for him for salvation.
offered once. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ was done only once, as we saw in verse 25 above. His sacrifice is not ongoing. He does not suffer in perpetuity.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.