Hebrews Chapter Eight
I. Content of the Chapter
Christ is the High Priest of a Better Covenant
A. He is the better High Priest (v.1-5);
1. He is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens (v.1).
2. He is a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle (v.2).
3. He offers the true gifts and sacrifices to God (v.3-5).
B. He the Mediator of a better covenant (v.6-13);
1. The covenant is established on better promises (v.6).
2. The covenant replaces the faultless covenant (v.7).
3. The covenant is the new covenant made by God actively (v.8-9).
4. The covenant is that God writes the laws in man’s hearts (v.10-12).
a. Which leads to closer relationship between men and God (v.10);
b. Which makes all know God, from the least of them to the greatest of them (v.11);
c.Which makes all be redeemed (v.12);
5. The covenant is the “new” covenant which never becomes obsolete or old (v.13).
II. Verse by Verse commentary
Heb. 8:1 “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,”
YLT: “And the sum concerning the things spoken of we have such a chief priest, who did sit down at the right hand of the throne of the greatness in the heavens,”
Meaning of Words: “main point”: a principal thing, summary;
Literal Meaning: “now this is the main point of the things we are saying”, “the things we are saying” refer to the priesthood and its relevant commandments (see 7:11-12, 16, 24, 27-28); the Jews pay great attention to the validity of all men or things related to worshiping God, e.g. the holy temple, the priest, the sacrifices, the offering and the law etc. (see v.3-5).
“We have such a High Priest”, “we have”, it means that He is ours. “Such a High Priest”, the High Priest who is totally different from the priests among men.
“Who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens”, “is seated”, it is an established fact. “The Majesty in the heavens”, it is the name that the Jews call God; “At the right hand”, it refers to honor. According to the customs of the synagogue of the Jews, the scribe at the right hand of the president recorded and read the cases of remission. Therefore, the right hand contains a tone of mercy.
This verse is quoted from the Book of Psalm (110:1), which shows that such a High Priest has the majesty and power of a king (see Ps. 110:2-3).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) No matter reading spiritual books or hearing messages, we have to catch the main point instead of focusing on details.
2) That Christ is our High Priest is the main point of this book.
3) The main point to we Christians is to clearly know about the Lord Jesus Christ and what He is and what He does and what He has. He is the foundation of all our spiritual pursuit.
4) No matter what historical character or things the witnesses of Christ have quoted, the main point it always making all know that Christ is above all and chiefly important to all. Those who are with this purpose are witnesses that God pleases.
5) The main point is that we have such a High Priest instead of any good sanctuary or law, and is that we have such a Lord Jesus Christ rather than any good church or doctrine.
6) Christians tend to focus on and argue with the correctness and practicability, but have unconsciously ignored the center of doctrine and practices ---- Jesus Christ, caring for their own feeling instead of His feeling.
7) Such a High Priest ---- the Lord Jesus Christ ---- has already overcome all the earthly entanglements and ascended into the heavens. All the passive things are under His feet. Therefore, He is able to be our seasonable help (Heb. 4:14-16).
8) Such a High Priest has ascended into the heavens. If we hold fast in Him, we will obtain heavenly provision and be enabled to lead the heavenly life on the earth.
9) He is not “standing”, but “is seated”, which shows that His work has already completed. The Lord Jesus on earth has already fulfilled the mission and destroyed the head of the devil on the cross (see Gen. 3:15) and is waiting for God who will put the enemies footstool of His feet (Heb. 1:13). Christ has overcome, and we Christians will overcome with Him together.
10) The High Priest who “is seated” shows that He is the noble High Priest and king, who reigns and is holy, and glorious and merciful, powerful and full of life. Through Him, we are enabled to “be the noble priests” (1Pet. 2:9).
11) He is seated at the right hand of the throne of “the greatness on high”. The fact is our comfort and safeguard. What shall we fear?
12) Since we have such a High Priest, we have the ladder connecting the earth and the heavens (Gen. 28:12-13; John 1:51). All the spiritual blessings in the heavens are ours (Eph. 1:3). We need only to come to Him and enjoy His service with boldness.
Heb. 8:2 “a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.”
YLT: “of the holy places a servant, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord did set up, and not man,”
Meaning of Words: “minister”: servant, provider; “erect”: pitch, fix, set up;
Literal Meaning: “a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle”, “sanctuary”, in the original, it is “holy places” in the tabernacle ---- since the veils in the heavens have been taken away, there is no distinction between the first veil and the second veil (see 9:8; 10:19-20). The whole tabernacle is Holy of holies, which is called “true tabernacle”. It is the true tabernacle, which shows that the tabernacle on the earth is true, not a modified or copied one (see v.5).
Christ in the true tabernacle is in the holy of holies in the heavens and appears before God for us (see 9:24). “Minister”: it indicates that He fulfills the priesthood and saves those who come to God through Him and makes intercessions for them (see 7:24-25).
“Which the Lord erected, and not man”, “the tabernacle”: the true tabernacle in the heavens; “man”: the tent of meeting was erected by Moses and was the shadow of the true tabernacle in the heavens (see v.5).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The world unseen by our physical eyes is a real world, which shall be received by faith (see 6:20; 11:1-2, 17; 12:22).
2) The Lord Jesus is the Minister in the true tabernacle in the heavens. On one hand, He brings us into the heavenly sphere so that we are as in the heavens though we are still on earth. And on the other hand, He provides the heavenly blessing to us so that we are enabled to enjoy heavenly life and power.
3) Christ is the Minister in the true tabernacle, ministering us in the spirits of us. Therefore, we have to touch Him in spirit and truth so as to enjoy His presence and power.
4) All the tabernacles erected by man’s hands are passing and defective. Only that the Lord erects is eternal and complete. The church built by man’s hands cannot please the Lord. Therefore, let us see how we build upon it (1Cor. 3:10-15).
Heb. 8:3 “For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer.”
YLT: “for every chief priest to offer both gifts and sacrifices is appointed, whence necessary for this one to have also something that he may offer;”
Meaning of Words: “appointed”: ordain, set;
Literal Meaning: “for every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices”, “gifts”: meeting offering, which is for the purpose of pleasing God with graciousness; “sacrifices”, sin-offering, which is for the purpose of atonement (see 5:1). The chief ministry of the high Priests is offering sacrifices.
“Is appointed”, it indicates the works of the high priests are different from that of others and the works cannot be done by common people.
“Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer.” “Offer”, it is an offering once for all, not a continual one. Christ as the High Priest needs only to offer Him once (see 7:27; 9:26, 28; 10:12, 14). After that, what He offers is intercessions for believers (7:25) and sacrifice of believers’ praise (13:15).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “It is necessary that this One also have something to offer”, it indicates that the most important works of the High Priest is offering sacrifices. Therefore, we come to God through Him and receive His service (see 7:25).
2) Christ offers Him once through death. All those who follow the High Priest shall also be accepted by God through self-denial and obedience.
Heb. 8:4 “For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law;”
YLT: “for if, indeed, he were upon earth, he would not be a priest -- (there being the priests who are offering according to the law, the gifts,”
Meaning: “for if He were on earth, He would not be a priest”, it indicates that He
fulfills the priesthood in the heavens, not on the earth (see v.1; 9:24). The
Lord Jesus on the earth belonged to the tribe if
“Since there are priests who offer the gifts according to
the law”, “offer”, it is in the present tense in the original.
Therefore, some Bible scholars think there were still priests fulfilling the
priesthood in the holy temple in
Heb. 8:5 “who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, "See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain."”
YLT: “who unto an example and shadow do serve of the heavenly things, as Moses hath been divinely warned, being about to construct the tabernacle, for `See (saith He) thou mayest make all things according to the pattern that was shewn to thee in the mount;') --”
Meaning of Words: “serve”: minister; “copy”: example, pattern; “shadow”: reflection, outline;
Literal Meaning: “who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things”, “serve”: the priests on the earth offered the sacrifices according to the law (see v.4); “the heavenly things”: it means that the Lord Jesus as the High Priest in the true tabernacle in the heavens (see v.2); “copy and shadow”: not real body, but the model reproduced from the real body and the shadow reflected from the real body (see 2Cor. 4:18; Col. 2:17).
Here, it shows that the tabernacle on the earth is the copy and shadow of the true tabernacle in the heavens. The real body in the heavens is in the tabernacle where God is. Our High Priest Christ brings His blood into the holies (see 9:11-12).
“As Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said”, “be divinely instruct”, it is a theological word in the original, especially “the commandment revealed by God” (see Ex. 25:40; Heb. 11:7; 12:25).
“"See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain"”, it is quoted from the Book of Exodus (25:40). It indicates that all things that Moses had made were types of the true tabernacle in the heavens, showing that sinners could draw near to the holy God through the redemption of Jesus Christ.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The church on the earth is merely the copy and shadow of things in the heavens. And the real body is Christ ---- the church is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:23). Therefore, every part of the church should be built according to Christ.
2) The church shall be not built according to man’s mind and will, but according to the pattern shown on the mountain. That is to say, the church shall be built according to the vision from the heavens and by Christ. Otherwise, it shall be demolished and burnt.
Heb. 8:6 “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.”
YLT: “and now he hath obtained a more excellent service, how much also of a better covenant is he mediator, which on better promises hath been sanctioned,”
Meaning of Words: “obtain”: receive, gain; “ministry”: ministration; “more excellent”: surpassing; “covenant”: testimony; “Mediator”: reconciler;
Literal Meaning: “but now He has ordained a more excellent ministry”, “He has ordained … ministry”, it refers to the works that He is doing; “more excellent”, it is surpassing all the works of the high priests among men.
“Inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant”, “covenant”, it
refers to the covenant engaged by two parts in the Old Covenant (Jos. 9:6;
Judge 2:2; 1Sam. 23:18). In the New Covenant, it especially means a kind of
relationship between God and His elect. God gives men the New Covenant by grace
in order to save the world (Acts 3:25; 7:8;
“A better covenant” refers to the New Covenant, which is better than the Old Covenant for the sake of three aspects of reasons: 1) since Christ is the Mediator of the New Covenant, the covenant continues forever (see this verse and 7:22-25); 2) it is appointed by better promises (see the next verse) so that we are enabled to be totally remitted (v.12); 3) it is the spiritual law written on the fleshly tables of heart, not the law of letter on stones (see v.10-11; 2Cor. 3:3, 6).
“Which was established on better promises”, “better promises”, the promise of establishing the other covenant (see v.10-12);
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The ministry of the better High Priest makes us come to God with boldness. The ministry of the better Mediator guarantees the new covenant is sufficient to satisfy the needs of both God and men.
2) The better promises brings better covenant. God is faithful. He shall accomplish all that He has promised. The New Covenant will be fulfilled on us.
Heb. 8:7 “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.”
YLT: “for if that first were faultless, a place would not have been sought for a second.”
Meaning of Words: “faultless”: blameless, irreproachable;
Meaning: “for if that first covenant had been
faultless”, “first covenant”: the old covenant; “faultless”, it is not
faultless of the nature of the covenant, but faultless of the execution of the
covenant, for it is unable to provide the power of keeping the covenant to men
“Then no place would have been sought for a second”, “sought”: it is seeking by all means according to the original; “no place would have been sought”: it is unnecessary to seek … any more; “a second”: it refers to the new covenant.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Though the old covenant is precious, it can do nothing because of the powerlessness of men. Therefore, man is the most important factor in everything.
2) Today, in the times of the New Testament, the factor of man is still rather important. Problems do not lie in the doctrine, but in the men who do the word ---- prejudices or self-wills, e.g. the building of the church ---- problems may often arise in men.
Heb. 8:8 “Because finding fault
with them, He says: "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I
will make a new covenant with the house of
“For finding fault, He saith to them, `Lo, days come, saith the Lord, and I
will complete with the house of
Meaning of Words: “find fault”: blame; “make”: complete; “new”: fresh;
Literal Meaning: “because finding fault with them”, the verse from verse eight to twelve are quoted from the Book of Jeremiah (31:31-34). This paragraph of prophesy is one of the best paragraphs in the old covenant, which influences the new covenant significantly (see Luke 22:20; 1Cor. 11:25; 2Cor. 3:6).
“Them”, it is the masculine gender in the original, because problems are caused by men, not the covenant.
“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new
covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah”, “days”: not a
particular day, but a certain period, namely, the coming age of the new
covenant; “the house of Israel and with the house of Judah”, when God wrote
this prophecy by Jeremiah, the elect of God were divided into the kingdom of
Israel (the ten tribes of the northern countries) and the kingdom of Judah (the
two tribes of the southern country). Therefore, both the house of
Heb. 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
YLT: “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day of My taking by their hand, to bring them out of the land of Egypt -- because they did not remain in My covenant, and I did not regard them, saith the Lord, --”
Meaning of Words: “made”: do; “disregard”: ignore, make light of, be careless of, neglect;
Meaning: “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
“I took them by the hand”, it mentions the ignorant and immature conditions of their fathers, so they could act when their hands were taken. “Took….by the hand”, it means leading externally, which is different from the guidance in the new covenant according to the indwelling Spirit.
“Because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them”, the translation of the LXX is much different from the original of the verse in the old covenant, which gives, “though I am their husband, they go against my covenant” (Jer. 31:32).
According to the original in Greek, “they did not continue in” and “I
disregarded them” are emphatic. They disobeyed the covenant first, and then God
did not regard them and gave them up (see
“Says the LORD”, this is a way of conclusion of the prophets when they quote the words of God (see 1King 14:11; Is. 14:22; Jer. 1:8; Eze. 3:11; Amos 1:5 etc.), which shows that it is indeed the words of God’s revelation between “says the LORD” (see v.8) and the second “says the LORD”. And there is by no means the prophets’ own will therein.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “I took them by the hand to lead them out of”, this is the portrait of the relation between God and men in the Old Testament, which shows that the apparent following is more than internal obedience.
2) When problems arise in man’s “heart”, he will not like to keep the covenant, which causes the response of God’s “heart” ---- disregarding of man.
3) The covenant of God is not supposed to be kept temporally, but kept “by perseverance” continually.
Heb. 8:10 “For this is the covenant
that I will make with the house of
YLT: “because this the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, after those days, saith the Lord, giving My laws into their mind, and upon their hearts I will write them, and I will be to them for a God, and they shall be to Me for a people;”
Meaning of Words: “make”: dispose, appoint; “mind”: understanding, deep thought;
Literal Meaning: “says the LORD”, there is another quotation of the word of God (see Jer. 31:33).
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of
“I will put My laws with the house of
“Mind”: give deep thought or “understanding” to men (see v.11); “Hearts”: the issues of life are out of hearts (Pro. 4:23). “Mind” and “heart” control the whole inner life of a man.
“I will be their God, and they shall be My people”, this verse contains rich meaning: 1) the failure of the old covenant will never be repeated (see v.9); 2) the new relation between God and men is established according to the new law (see 2Cor. 6:16b); 3) the new law is the law of God’s kingdom; 4) God will enable men to fulfill the requirements of the laws by Himself.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The biggest difference between the New Covenant and the Old Covenant is that whether it is in man or outside of man. The external laws can only bind man’s hands and feet but fail to encourage man’s hearts. The internal laws can make a man obey willingly. Otherwise, he will not be glad.
2) The Old Covenant is faultless, for the covenant and men are divided. In the New Covenant, both of them are one. Therefore, the New Covenant never fails.
3) The Spirit of the living God writes the laws in the fleshly tables of man’s heart (see 2Cor. 3:3) so that man pleases to walk according to the will of God, just like the Son of God Jesus (Ps. 40:8).
4) God writes the law on man’s “heart” so that man will be readily to respond to the will of God that He had revealed.
5) The law that God has written on our hearts
is the “law of the Spirit of life” (
6) The will of God is that there is a group of people who are separated from the world and have fellowship with Him and become His people. Therefore, God will be their God and provide them all that they need (2Cor. 6:16-18).
Heb. 8:11 “None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, "Know the LORD,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.”
YLT: “and they shall not teach each his neighbour, and each his brother, saying, Know thou the Lord, because they shall all know Me from the small one of them unto the great one of them,”
Meaning of Words: “neighbor”: fellow; “know (the first one)”: be aware of (the objective knowledge in general); “know (the second one)”: subjective consciousness in oneself;
Literal Meaning: “none of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying”, “teach”, the word in the original refers to the teaching of those who are able to teach after special training.
“Know the LORD”, here it is the apparent and seated knowledge.
“For all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them”, “from the least of them to the greatest of them”, it includes people in different ages, classes, and educational degrees. “Know”: internal and conscious knowledge;
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Today, we do not seek external knowledge about God, but seek the conscious and internal knowledge about God in life. When we believe the Lord Jesus, God has put His Son in us. He that has the Son of God has life (1John 5:12). And the life enables us to know God.
2) Every believer in the New Covenant, without any distinction, is enabled to have personal and direct knowledge of God. And everyone does not need to be taught by others in the things of knowing God.
3) Though all believers know God, the conditions of everyone’s knowing God are different ---- the distinctions among the fathers, the young men and the little children (see 1John 2:13-14). Therefore, we shall not be satisfied with the knowledge that we have obtained, but seek more and deeper knowledge about God with diligence.
4) It is the special sign of the true children of God that they know God directly and are taught by God directly (see Is. 54:13; John 6:45).
5) Knowing God is closely connected with keeping the will of God (see 1Sam. 2:12; Jer. 22:15-16; Hosea 4:1; 1John 2:3). Therefore, if we shall keep the will of God, we have to know God.
6) “No one shall see the Lord without holiness” (Heb. 12:14). “Blessed the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). If we desire to know God more, we have to seek holiness and purify our hearts.
Heb. 8:12 “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."”
YLT: “because I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawlessnesses I will remember no more;' --”
Meaning of Words: “be merciful to”: be it far; “unrighteousness”: injustice, wrongfulness;
Literal Meaning: “for I will be merciful to their unrighteousness”, “unrighteousness”, it is in the plural in the original, which refers to the unrighteous deeds in the sight of God.
“And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more”, “remember”, it contains a meaning of judgment.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Unrighteousness and sins are the most terrible hindrances of the fellowship between God and men. Therefore, if we desire to have fellowship with God, we have to deal with our sins (1John 1:7).
2) Believers’ sins before their being saved
have been remitted when they believe the Lord Jesus (
Heb. 8:13 “In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”
YLT: “in the saying `new,' He hath made the first old, and what doth become obsolete and is old nigh disappearing.”
Meaning of Words: “obsolete”: make… worn out; “growing old”: be senescent; “vanish away”: abrogate, disappear (a legal term);
Literal Meaning: “in that He says, “A new covenant”, He has made the first obsolete”, “the first”: the old covenant (see v.7); “has made … obsolete”, it is in the past perfect tense in the original, showing that it has been over and become an established fact.
“Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away”, “becoming obsolete”, it is replaces by the new one; “growing old”, it means that its function and power is growing weak, just like an aging man, whose physical function grows weak. “Vanish away”, it is disappearing because of the accomplishment of nothing (see 1Cor. 13:8-11).
There are four verbs in this verse to describe that the old covenant is passing:
1) “Made…obsolete” ---- the past perfect tense, which indicates that it had already become the old covenant;
2) “Becoming obsolete” ---- the present passive participle, which indicates that it is in the process of being replaced.
3) “Growing old” ---- the present active participle, which indicates that it is in the process of becoming valid.
4) “Vanish away”, the present tense, it is disappearing soon.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) All that will “become obsolete and grow old” is transient and will vanish away. Let us turn our eyes to the constantly new things rather than linger on old things.
2) If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away. All things have become new (2Cor. 5:17).
3) We should serve in newness of the spirit,
and not in the oldness of the letter (
III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons
A Better Covenant
A. A better ministry
1. He is a minister in the true tabernacle which the Lord erected (v.2).
2. What he has offered is the true sacrifices and the real body in the heavens (v.3, 5).
B. A better Mediator
1. His ministry is more excellent (v
2. The covenant He ensures is better (v.6b):
a. For the first covenant is faultless (v.7);
b. For the covenant is established on better
c. For the old one is becoming obsolete and growing old and is ready to vanish away (v.13).
C. Better promises:
1. The promise of giving the laws in mind (v
2. The promise of having closer relationship (v.10b);
3. The promise that everyone shall have deeper knowledge (v.11);
4. The promise of complete remission (v.12);
We Have Such A High Priest
A. The new tabernacle ---- the sanctuary in the heavens which the Lord erected (v.1-2);
B. The new ministry ---- the ministry is more excellent (v.2, 6);
C. The new sacrifices ---- the real body of the heavenly things is Himself (v.3-5);
D. The new Covenant ---- the laws in mind (v.6, 8, 10, 13);
E. The new effects:
1. Be able to continue …(see v.9);
2. Be able to know God (v.11);
3. Have closer relationship with God (v.10, 12);
The Names of the New Covenant
A. The better covenant (v.6);
B. The second covenant (v.7);
C. The new covenant (v.8);
Reasons for the Establishment of the New Covenant
A. For the first one is faultless (v.7);
B. For God has promised to make a new covenant (v.8), which shows that something cannot be done through the old covenant;
C. For the elect of God do not continue in the covenant of God (v.9);
God says, “I Will” (It Is “If You” in the Old Covenant, and “I Will” in the New Covenant)
A. “I will” make a new covenant (v.7);
B. “I will” put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts (v.10b);
C. “I will” be their God and they shall be My
D. “I will” be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawlessness deeds I will remember no more (v.12);
Blessings that God Has Promised to Give to Believers in the New Covenant
A. “I will” put My laws in their mind and write
them on their hearts (v.10b) ---- obtain the law of the Spirit of life (
B. “I will” be their God and they shall be My
C. “All shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them” (v.11) ---- obtain the teaching of the anointment of God (1John 2:27).
D. “I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their
sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (v.12) ---- obtain the utter remission of God (
The Characteristics of the New Covenant
A. It is inward (v
B. God will teach believers Himself (v.10b-11);
C. Utter remission (v.12);
── Caleb Huang《Christian Digest Bible Commentary Series》
Translated by Mary Zhou