Hebrews 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;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) Now of the things . . .—Better, Now in the things which we are saying (literally, which are being said) this is the chief point. Opinion has been much divided as to the meaning of the first Greek word, whether it should be taken as “summary” or as “chief point,” each of these meanings being well supported by the usage of the language. The words joined with it, “in the things which we are saying,” would lead us to prefer the second rendering; and when the course of the argument is traced we find it difficult to believe that the writer could express a summary of his thought in such words as those which follow.

Who is set.—Better, who sat down. Twice before have the words of Psalm 110:1 been thus referred to Jesus (Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 1:13), but their full significance in regard to the present subject has yet to be brought out. When in Hebrews 7:26 we read, “such an high priest became us,” we must look to what precedes for the explanation—“such a one” as has already been portrayed. Here the case is different, and the meaning of “such” is found in the description which the following words contain. The last verse of Hebrews 7 united the two predictions which pointed to Jesus as Priest and King, and the same thought is contained here, expressed in language which at once recalls Hebrews 1:3. A later passage (Hebrews 10:11-12) will show that the words “sat down” have yet further significance, involving a contrast to the continued and ever incomplete services of those who “stood before God” in His earthly sanctuary. The next verse must be closely joined with this, for the contrast just spoken of does not imply that He no longer “ministers” on behalf of men (see Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 9:24); on the contrary, it is as “a minister” of the sanctuary that He sat down on the right hand of God.

Hebrews

THE ENTHRONED SERVANT CHRIST

Hebrews 8:1-2A LITTLE consideration will show that we have in these words two. strikingly different representations of our Lord’s heavenly state. In the one He is regarded as seated ‘on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty.’ In the other He is regarded as being, notwithstanding that session, a ‘minister of the sanctuary’; performing priestly functions there. This combination of two such opposite ideas is the very emphasis and force of the passage. The writer would have us think of the royal repose of Jesus as full of activity for us; and of His heavenly activity as consistent with deepest repose. Resting He works; working He rests. Reigning He serves; serving He reigns. So my purpose is simply to deal with these two representations, and to seek to draw from them and from their union the lessons that they teach.

I. Note, then, first, the seated Christ.

‘We have a high priest who’ - to translate a little more closely - ‘has taken His seat on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.’ ‘Majesty’ is a singular expression or periphrasis for God. It is used once again in this letter, and seems probably to have been derived by the writer from the Rabbinical usage of his times, when, as we know, a certain misplaced, and yet most natural, reverential or perhaps superstitious awe, made men unwilling to name the mighty name, and inclined rather to fall back upon other forms of speech to express it.

So the writer here, addressing Hebrews, steeped in Rabbinical thought, takes one of their own words and speaks of God as the ‘Majesty in the heavens’; emphasising the idea of sovereignty, power, illimitable magnificence. ‘At the right hand’ of this throned personal abstraction, ‘the Majesty,’ sits the Man Christ Jesus.

Now the teaching, both of this Epistle to the Hebrews and of the whole New Testament, in reference to the state of our exalted Lord, is that His manhood is elevated to this supreme dignity. The Eternal Word who was with the Father in the beginning, before all the worlds, went back to ‘the glory which He had with the Father.’ But the new thing was that there went, too, that human nature which Jesus Christ indissolubly united with divinity in the mystery of the lowliness of His earthly life. An ancient prophet foretold that ‘in the Messianic times there should spring from the cut-down stump of the royal house of Israel a sucker which, feeble at first, and in strange contrast with the venerable ruin from which it arose, should grow so swiftly, so tall and strong, that it should become an ensign for the nations of the world; and then, he adds, ‘and His resting-place shall be glory.’ There was a deeper meaning in the words, I suppose, than the prophet knew, and we shall not be chargeable with forcing New Testament ideas upon Old Testament words which are a world too narrow for them, if we say that there is at least shadowed the great thought that the lowly manhood, sprung from the humbled royal stock, shall grow up as a root out of a dry ground, without form or comeliness, and be lifted to find its rest and dwelling-place in the very central blaze of the divine glory. We have a High Priest who, in His manhood, in which He is knit to us, hath taken His seat on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.

Then, again, remember that whilst in such representations as this we have to do with realities set forth under the symbols of time and place, there is yet a profound sense in which that session of Jesus Christ at the right hand of God proclaims both the localisation of His present corporeal humanity and the ubiquity of His presence. For what is ‘the right hand of God’? What is it but the manifestation of His energies, the forthputting of His power? And where is that but everywhere, where He makes Himself known? Wheresoever divine activity is manifested, there is Jesus Christ. But yet, though this be true, and though it may be difficult for us to hold the balance and mark the dividing line between symbol and reality, we are not to forget that the facts of Christ’s wearing now a real though glorified body, and of His visible corporeal ascension, and the promise of a similar visible corporeal return to earth at the end of the days seem to require the belief that, above all the heavens, and filling all things, as that exalted manhood is, there is yet what we must call a place, wherein that glorified body now abides. And thus both the awful majestic idea of omnipresence, and the no less majestic idea of the present localisation in place of the glorified Christ, are taught us in the text.

And what is the deepest meaning of it all? What means that majestic session at ‘the right hand of the throne’? Before that throne ‘angels veil their faces.’ If in action, they stand; if in adoration, they fall before Him.

Creatures bow prostrate. Who is He that, claiming and exercising a power which in a creature is blasphemy and madness, takes His seat in that awful presence? Other words of Scripture represent the same idea in a still more wonderful form when they speak of ‘the throne of God and of the Lamb,’ and when He Himself speaks from heaven of Himself as ‘set down with My Father on His throne.’

If we translate the symbol into colder words, it means that deep repose, which, like the divine rest after creation, is not for recuperation of exhausted powers, but is the sign of an accomplished purpose and achieved task, a share in the sovereignty of heaven, and the wielding of the energies of deity - rest, royalty, and power belong now to the Man sitting at the right hand of the throne of God.

II. Note, secondly, the servant Christ.

A minister of the sanctuary; says my text. Now the word employed here for ‘minister,’ and which I have ventured variously to translate servant, means one who discharges some public official act of service either to God or man, and it is especially, though by no mean, exclusively, employed in reference to the service of a ministering priest.

The allusion in the second portion of my text is plainly enough to the ritual of the great day of atonement, on which the high priest once a year went into the holy place; and there, in the presence of God throned between the cherubim, made atonement for the sins of the people, by the offering of the blood of the sacrifice. Thus, says our writer, that throned and sovereign Man who, in token of His accomplished work, and in the participation of deity, sits hard by the throne of God, is yet ministering at one and the same time within the veil, and presenting the might of His own sacrifice.

Put away the metaphor and we just come to this, a truth which is far too little dwelt upon in this generation, that the work which Jesus Christ accomplished on the Cross, all sufficient and eternal as it was in the range and duration of its efficacy, is not all His work. The past, glorious as it is, needs to be supplemented by the present, no less wonderful and glorious, in which Jesus Christ within the veil, in manners all unknown to us, by His presence there in the power of the sacrifice that He has made, brings down upon men the blessings that flow from that sacrifice. It is not enough that the offering should be made. The deep teaching, the whole reasonableness of which it does not belong to us here and now to apprehend, but which faith will gladly grasp as a fact, though reason may not be able to answer the question of the why or how, tells us that the interceding Christ must necessarily take up the work of the suffering Christ. Dear brethren, our salvation is not so secured by the death upon the Cross as to make needless the life beside the throne. Jesus that died is the Christ ‘that is risen again, who is even at, the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for

us.’

But, beyond that, may I remind you that my text, though not in its direct bearing, yet in its implication, suggests to us other ways in which the rest of Christ is full of activity. ‘I am among you as He that serveth’ is true for the heavenly glory of the exalted Lord quite as much as for the lowly humiliation of His life upon earth. And no more really did He stoop to serve when, laying aside His garments, He girded Himself with the towel, and wiped the disciples’ feet, than He does to-day when, having resumed the garments of His glorious divinity, and having seated Himself in His place of authority above us, He comes forth, according to the wonderful condescension of His own parable, to serve His servants who have entered into rest, and those also who still toil. The glorified Christ is a ministering Christ. In us, on us, for us He works, in all the activities of His exalted repose, as truly and more mightily than He did when here He helped the weaknesses and healed the sicknesses, and soothed the sorrows and supplied the wants, and washed the feet, of a handful of poor men.

He has gone up on high, hut in His rest He works. He is on the throne, but in His royalty He serves. He is absent from us, but His power is with us. The world’s salvation was accomplished when He cried, ‘It is finished’! But ‘My Father worketh hitherto, and I work,’ and they who saw Him ascend into the heavens, and longingly followed the diminishing form as it moved slowly upward, with hands extended in benediction, as they turned away, when there was nothing more to be seen but the cloud, ‘went everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.’

So then, let us ever hold fast, inextricably braided together, the rest and the activity, the royalty and the service, of the glorified Son of Man.

III. And now, in the last place, let me point to one or two of the practical lessons of such thoughts as these.

They have a bearing on the three categories of past, present, future. For the past a seal, for the present a strength, for the future a prophecy.

For the past a seal. If it be true - and there are few historical facts the evidence for which is more solid or valid - that Jesus Christ really went up into the heavens, and abode there, then that is God’s last and most emphatic declaration, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ The trail of light that He leaves behind Him, as He is borne onwards, falls on the Cross, and tells us that it is the centre of the world’s history. For what can be greater, what can afford a firmer foundation for us sinful men to rest our confidence upon, than the death of which the recompense was that the Man who died sits on the throne of the universe? Brethren! an ascended Christ forces us to believe in an atoning Christ. No words can exaggerate, nor can any faith exalt too highly, or trust too completely, the sacrifice which led straight to that exaltation. Read the Cross by the light of the throne. Let Olivet interpret Calvary, and we shall understand what Calvary means.

Again, this double representation of my text is a strength for the present. I know of nothing that is mighty enough to draw men’s desires and fix solid reasonable thought and love upon that awful future, except the belief that Christ is there. I think that the men who have most deeply realised what a solemn, and yet what a vague and impalpable thing the conception of immortal life beyond the grave is, will be most ready to admit that the thought is cold, cheerless, full of blank misgivings and of waste places, in which the speculative spirit feels itself very much a foreigner. There is but one thought that flashes warmth into the coldness, and turns the awfulness and the terror of the chilling magnificence into attractiveness and homelikeness and sweetness, and that is that Christ is there sitting at the right hand of God. Foreign lands are changed in their aspect to us when we have brothers and sisters there; and our Brother has gone whither we too, when we send our thoughts after Him, can feel that our home is, because there He is. The weariness of existence here is only perpetuated and intensified when we think of it as prolonged for ever. But with Christ in the heavens, the heavens become the home of our hearts.

In like manner, if we only lay upon our spirits as a solid reality, and keep ever clear before us, as a plain fact, the present glory of Jesus Christ and His activity for us, oh! then life becomes a different thing, sorrows lose their poison and their barb, cares become trivial, anxieties less gnawing, the weights of duty or of suffering less burdensome; and all things have a new aspect and a new aim. If you and I, dear friends, can sea the heavens opened, and Jesus on the throne, how petty, how unworthy to fix our desires, or to compel our griefs, will all the things hare below seem. We then have the true standard, and the littlenesses that swell themselves into magnitude when there is nothing to compare them with will shrink into their insignificance. Lift the mists and let the Himalayas shine out; and what then about the little molehills in the foreground, that looked so big whilst the great white mass was invisible? See Christ, and He interprets, dwindles, and yet ennobles the world and life.

Lastly, such a vision gives us a prophecy for the future. There is the measure of the possibilities of human nature. A somewhat arrogant saying affirms, ‘Whatever a man has done, a man can do.’ Whatever that Man is, I may be. It is possible that humanity may be received into the closest union with divinity, and it is certain that if we knit ourselves to Jesus Christ by simple faith and lowly, obedient love, whatever He is He will give to us to share. ‘Even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father on His throne,’ is His own measure of what He will do for the men who are faithful and obedient to Him.

I do not say that there is no other adequate proof of immortality than the facts of the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. I do not know that I should be far wrong if I ventured even on that assertion. But I do say that there is no means by which a poor sinful soul will reach the realisation of the possibilities that open to it, except faith in Jesus Christ. If we love Him, anything unreasonable and impossible is more reasonable and possible than that the Head shall be glorified and the members Left to see corruption. If I am wedded to Jesus Christ, as you all may be if you will trust your souls to Him and love Him, then God will take us and Him as one into the glory of His presence, where we may dwell with and in Christ, in indissoluble union through the ages of eternity.

My text is the answer to all doubts and fears for ourselves. It shows us what the true conception of a perfect heaven is, the perfection of rest and the perfection of service. As Christ’s heaven is the fulness of repose and of activity, so shall that of His servants he. ‘His servants shall serve Him ‘ - there is the activity - ‘and see His face’ - there is the restful contemplation - ‘and His name shall be in their foreheads’ - there is the full participation in His character and glory.

And so, dear brethren, for the world and for ourselves, hope is duty and despair is sin. Here is the answer to the question, Can I ever enter that blessed land? Here is the answer to the question, Is the dream of perfected manhood ever to be more than a dream? ‘We see not yet all things put under Him, but we see Jesus,’ and, seeing Him, no hope is absurd, and anything but hope is falling beneath our privileges. Then, dear friends, let us look unto Him who, ‘for the joy that was set before Him, endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is now set down at the right hand of the Throne of God.’Hebrews 8:1. The apostle having shown that Jesus, as a High-Priest, is superior to all the Levitical high-priests, inasmuch as, like Melchisedec, he is a King, as well as a Priest; nay, a more righteous King than even Melchisedec, being absolutely free from sin, he in this and the following chapter, for the further illustration of the glory of Christ, as a High-Priest, compares his ministrations with those of the Levitical high-priests, both in respect of the place where he officiates, and of the efficacy of his ministrations. Of this chapter there are two general parts. 1st, A further explication of the excellence of the priesthood of Christ, or of Christ himself as vested with that office. 2d, A further confirmation thereof, wherein is introduced the consideration of the two covenants, the old and the new. For to the former was the administration of the Levitical priests confined; of the latter, Christ is our Priest, Mediator, and Surety.

Now of the things which we have spoken — Namely, in the preceding part of this discourse; this is the sum — Or rather, the chief article, as κεφαλαιον is interpreted by Chrysostom and Theophylact, in which sense the Syriac and Vulgate translations understand the expression. He calls Christ’s sitting down at the right hand of God the chief of all the things he had hitherto mentioned, because it implied, 1st, That the sacrifice of himself which he had offered was accepted of God as a sufficient atonement for the sins of the world. 2d, That he possesses all power in heaven and on earth next to the Father; so that he is able to defend the people for whom he officiates from their enemies, and is authorized by God to acquit and reward them at the final judgment. 3d, That he did not, like the Levitical high-priests, depart out of the most holy place after finishing the atonement, but abideth there always as the minister thereof, to open that holy place to the prayers and other acts of worship performed by his people on earth, and to their persons after death and judgment. We have such a High-Priest — One so great and illustrious as hath been described, made after the order, or similitude, of Melchisedec, and by the oath of God himself invested with immortal honours. The expression answers to such a High-Priest became us, (Hebrews 7:26,) and brings to the reader’s recollection the description there given of the High-Priest who could effectually officiate for us. Who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. That is, at the right hand of the visible glory, whereby the divine presence is manifested to the angels in heaven. Of this Stephen had a clear view before he expired; for being full of the Holy Ghost, and looking up steadfastly into heaven, he saw the glory of God, and Jesus at the right hand of God. This sight, it is probable, the apostle himself enjoyed when he was caught up into the third heaven. “That the Deity manifests his presence to his intelligent creatures in a sensible manner, somewhere in the universe, is a notion,” says Macknight, “which has been entertained by all mankind.” Higher expressions cannot be imagined than those here used to lead us into a holy adoration of the tremendous glory intended to be described. And now, what was the glory of the Jewish high-priest, if considered in comparison with that of the Lord Christ, the High-Priest of our profession? The legal priest indeed entered into the holy place made with hands, and presented there the blood of the sacrifices of beasts before the august pledges of the divine presence; but all the while he was there he stood before the typical throne with holy awe and reverence, and immediately on the discharge of his duty was to withdraw, and depart out of the sacred place; but our High-Priest, after he had offered his great sacrifice on the cross, entered with the virtue of his own blood, not into the holy places made with hands, but into heaven itself, not to stand with humble reverence before the throne, but to sit on the throne of God at his right hand, and that for evermore!8:1-6 The substance, or summary, of what had been declared was, that Christians had such a High Priest as they needed. He took upon himself human nature, appeared on earth, and there gave himself as a sacrifice to God for the sins of his people. We must not dare to approach God, or to present any thing to him, but in and through Christ, depending upon his merits and mediation; for we are accepted only in the Beloved. In all obedience and worship, we should keep close to God's word, which is the only and perfect standard. Christ is the substance and end of the law of righteousness. But the covenant here referred to, was that made with Israel as a nation, securing temporal benefits to them. The promises of all spiritual blessings, and of eternal life, revealed in the gospel, and made sure through Christ, are of infinitely greater value. Let us bless God that we have a High Priest that suits our helpless condition.Now of the things which we have spoken - Or, "of the things of which we are speaking" (Stuart); or as we should say, "of what is said." The Greek does not necessarily mean things that "had been" spoken, but may refer to all that he was saying, taking the whole subject into consideration.

This is the sum - Or this is the principal thing; referring to what he was about to say, not what he had said. Our translators seem to have understood this as referring to a "summing up," or recapitulation of what he had said, and there can be no doubt that the Greek would bear this interpretation. But another exposition has been proposed, adopted by Bloomfield, Stuart, Michaelis, and Storr, among the moderns, and found also in Suidas, Theodoret, Theophylact, and others, among the ancients. It is what regards the word rendered "sum" - κεφάλαιον kephalaion - as meaning the "principal thing;" the chief matter; the most important point. The reason for this interpretation is, that the apostle in fact goes into no recapitulation of what he had said, but enters on a new topic relating to the priesthood of Christ. Instead of going over what he had demonstrated, he enters on a more important point, that the priesthood of Christ is performed in heaven, and that he has entered into the true tabernacle there. All which preceded was type and shadow; this was that which the former economy had adumbrated. In the previous chapters the apostle had shown that he who sustained this office was superior in rank to the Jewish priests; that they were frail and dying, and that the office in their hands was changing from one to another, but that that of Christ was permanent and abiding. He now comes to consider the real nature of the office itself; the sacrifice which was offered; the substance of which all in the former dispensation was the type. This was the "principal thing" - κεφάλαιον kephalaion - the "head," the most important matter; and the consideration of this is pursued through theHeb 8:1, Hebrews 9:1, and Hebrews 10:1 chapters Hebrews 8-10.

We have such an high priest - That is settled; proved; indisputable. The Christian system is not destitute of what was regarded as so essential to the old dispensation - the office of a high priest.

Who is set on the right hand of a throne ... - He is exalted to honor and glory before God. The right hand was regarded as the place of principal honor, and when it is said that Christ is at the right hand of God, the meaning is, that he is exalted to the highest honor in the universe; see the note at Mark 16:19. Of course the language is figurative - as God has no hands literally - but the language conveys an important meaning, that he is near to God; is high in his affection and love, and is raised to the most elevated situation in heaven; see Philippians 2:9; notes Ephesians 1:21-22.

CHAPTER 8

Heb 8:1-13. Christ, the High Priest in the True Sanctuary, Superseding the Levitical Priesthood; the New Renders Obsolete the Old Covenant.

1. the sum—rather, "the principal point"; for the participle is present, not past, which would be required if the meaning were "the sum." "The chief point in (or, 'in the case'; so the Greek, Heb 9:10, 15, 17) the things which we are speaking," literally, "which are being spoken."

such—so transcendently pre-eminent, namely in this respect, that "He is set on the right hand of," &c. Infinitely above all other priests in this one grand respect, He exercises His priesthood IN HEAVEN, not in the earthly "holiest place" (Heb 10:12). The Levitical high priests, even when they entered the Holiest Place once a year, only STOOD for a brief space before the symbol of God's throne; but Jesus SITS on the throne of the Divine Majesty in the heaven itself, and this for ever (Heb 10:11, 12).Hebrews 8:1-5 Christ, our great High Priest in the heavens, hath a

more excellent ministry than the priests on earth,

Hebrews 8:6-13 as he is also the Mediator of a better covenant than

that which was given to Moses.

The Spirit having cleared the doctrine of the priesthood of the great gospel Minister, now proceeds to show how he executed that office; and that therein as he far excelled, so he was to be valued and used before, the Aaronical priests. He introduceth it with a reflection on his foregoing discourse.

Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum; the sum then of the things spoken, is kefalaion some read, the head, i.e. the scope in a discourse driven at; others, the chief of all the excellencies of the priesthood hitherto held forth; as if it were palmarium argumentum, the highest and choicest of all that hitherto had been spoken; and it is proportionably true, as will be seen in what followeth: but it must necessarily join the foregoing and following discourse together, and so it notes a sum, contract, or epitome; a breviate of the heads formerly discoursed on and largely, Hebrews 7:1-28; and so shows the dependence of the matter remaining to be handled on what went before, when many things are summed up in a few words; as Christ’s priesthood, largely opened before from Psalm 110:4, is, as to the substance of it, briefly handled in this verse.

We have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; we Paul, and believing Hebrews, opposed to the infidel Jews, have not only a right to, and interest in, but actual possession of, Christ, God-man, as our High Priest, while their infidel brethren had only a sinful man: He who hath eminent power above, and though crucified by men, yet thereby became victorious over sin, death, and hell, and the lord of them the devil, led principalities and powers in triumph, when he passed through their kingdom in the air, Colossians 2:15, entered into the heaven of heavens, and there sat him down and settled himself, as was his right, on the right hand of God, as he sat on his throne, invested with all power and dignity, as God’s royal Priest, near to him, and the great manager of all our concerns with him; while the sinful priest at Jerusalem stood trembling before the shadow of this heavenly temple on earth, Hebrews 1:3.

Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum,.... The scope and drift, the compendium and substance; or the principal of what has been said in or from Psalm 110:4 and has been discoursed of in the three preceding chapters, is the priesthood of Christ:

we have such an high priest; as is described in the foregoing discourse, and in the following words: Christ is a priest, an high priest, and the saints' high priest; they are not without one under the Gospel dispensation; and Christ is he, and always continues, in whose sacrifice and intercession they have a share:

who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; he is "set", whereas the Levitical priests stood; which shows that he has done his work, and that with acceptance; and is in a state of ease and rest; and is possessed of honour, glory, majesty, and authority, and which continue: the place where he is set is, "on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty"; the same with the right hand of God; for by the throne of the Majesty is meant God the Father, in his royal glory and dignity; so Tiphereth, one of the ten numbers in the Jews' Cabalistic tree, whose name is Jehovah, is called , "the throne of glory" (c); so angels are called thrones, Colossians 1:16 but God is a throne of majesty superior to them; and at his right hand sits Christ the great high priest; which is expressive of his high honour, glory, and power, and even of his equality with God: the phrase, "in the heavens", may refer both to God the throne of majesty, who is there, and to Christ the high priest, who is passed into them, and received by them, and sits there.

(c) Lex. Cabal. p. 483.

Now {1} 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;

(1) He briefly repeats that to which all these things are to be referred, that is, that we have another High Priest than those Levitical high priests, even such a one as sits at the right hand of the Most High God in heaven.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Hebrews 8:1-2. Κεφάλαιον δέ] Now a main point is. Κεφάλαιον is not accusative absolute (Bengel), nor yet the ordinary accusative with a λέγω τοῦτο to be supplemented (Ebrard), but nominative, and apposition to the whole ensuing proposition: τοιοῦτονἄνθρωπος, Hebrews 8:2. Comp. Romans 8:3. Just as κεφάλαιον δέ are also the kindred formulas: τὸ δὲ μέγιστον, τὸ δὲ δεινότατον, τὸ ἔσχατον, τὸ τελευταῖον, etc., very frequently prefixed to a whole clause by way of apposition. See Kühner, II. p. 146, Obs. 2. The expression κεφάλαιον itself is here understood by many expositors in the sense of “sum;” according to which the author would express the intention of immediately comprehending or recapitulating the substance of all his previous disquisition in a single statement. So Laurentius Valla (“in summam autem”), Erasmus, Clarius, Vatablus, Zeger, Calvin, H. Stephanus, Grotius (“post tot dicta haec esto summa”), Carpzov (“ut rem summatim et uno verbo complectar”), Stengel, Hofmann (Schriftbew. II. 1, 2 Aufl. p. 405), Conybeare, M‘Caul, etc. This signification, however, although linguistically justified, is here inadmissible, since the author is passing over to something essentially new; a recapitulation of the previous argument accordingly does not take place at all. But neither is the anarthrous κεφάλαιον—although in itself this is not inadmissible—to be taken as equivalent to τὸ κεφάλαιον, as is done by Theophylact (ἵνα εἴπω τὸ μέγιστον καὶ συνεκτικώτερον), Bleek (“the essential thing, to which all else is subordinated”), Ebrard (“the keystone”), Bisping (“the core of all”), Stuart, Delitzsch, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. pp. 464, 481; Alford, Maier, Ewald, and others. For, besides the further main point in the superiority of the N. T. High Priest over the Levitical high priests, here to be mentioned (namely, His ministering in a better sanctuary), the author has yet before his mind the elucidation of a third leading distinction (that of the better sacrifice presented by Christ). Comp. Hebrews 9:9 ff.

ἐπὶ τοῖς λεγομένοις] cannot be referred back specially, as is assumed by Erasmus, Clarius, Zeger, Estius, Jac. Cappellus, Grotius, Hammond, Carpzov, Schulz, Stein, Stengel, Ebrard, Ewald, and many others, to that which has already been said. For therewith the participle present λεγομένοις does not agree; εἰρημένοις must have been put instead of it. Nor, accordingly, can the sense be: “in addition to that already treated of” (Calov, Wolf, Rambach, Peirce, Storr, Ebrard, al.). On the contrary, ἐπί must be taken in the signification: “upon the supposition of,” “in the case of,” as Hebrews 9:17 and frequently, and ἐπὶ τοῖς λεγομένοις has essentially the same meaning as the genitive τῶν λεγομένων. Thus: now a main point in the case of those things we are speaking of (or: in our argument) is the following.

With the utmost violence does Hofmann tear the words asunder (Schriftbew. II. 1, 2 Aufl. p. 406, and so still in his commentary, p. 302 f.), in that he will have κεφάλαιον δέ separated from ἐπὶ τοῖς λεγομένοις, and to the latter would supplement ἀρχιερεῦσιν, and renders: “besides those who are called high priests, we have a High Priest who has sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty.” That, moreover, the thought thus resulting would be a senseless one,—inasmuch as it would then follow that Christians have several sorts of high priests,—has already been pointed out by Nickel (in Reuter’s Repertor. 1858, Feb. p. 110). For how arbitrary it is when Hofmann seeks further to twist the statement, gained with so much toil, in the sense: “that the Christians possess a High Priest, compared with whom those who are so called have for them no significance,” hardly needs to be observed.

τοιοῦτον] is a preparation for the following ὃς ἐκάθισεν κ.τ.λ. Wrongly does Böhme refer it back to τοιοῦτος, Hebrews 7:26, and Carpzov to ὑψηλότερος τῶν οὐρνῶν γενόμενος in the same verse. The latter, moreover, with an erroneous accentuation of the ἔχομεν: “habemus omnino talem pontificem sc. ὑψηλότερον τῶν οὐρανῶν, quippe qui adeo consedit ad dextram Dei ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς,” in connection with which the progress of the discourse is lost sight of, and the fact remains unnoticed that the centre of gravity in the statement, Hebrews 8:1-2, is contained only in Hebrews 8:2.

ὃς ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ θρόνου τῆς μεγαλωσύνης ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς] who has sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven (Psalms 110.). Comp. Hebrews 1:3 : ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τῆς μεγαλωσύνης ἐν ὑψηλοῖς.

The opinion of Schlichting, Grotius, Limborch, Klee, Bleek, and Alford, that the author designed by ἐκάθισεν, too, to indicate a point of superiority in Christ over the Levitical high priests,—inasmuch as the latter, when they entered the Most Holy Place, instead of sitting down were required to stand,—is far-fetched. There is nothing in the context to lead to such supposition. It is otherwise (on account of the express opposition there met with ἕστηκενἐκάθισεν) chap. Hebrews 10:11-12.

ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς] belongs to ἐκάθισεν, not to τῆς μεγαλωσύνης (Böhme), since otherwise the article would have been repeated; still less to the opening words of Hebrews 8:2 (Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 1, 2 Aufl. p. 405 f.), since in that case τῶν ἁγίων τῶν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς λειτουργός would have been the only natural expression, the rhythmical proportion of Hebrews 8:1-2 would have been destroyed, and the ἐν ὑψηλοῖς, Hebrews 1:3, parallel to the ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς in our passage, would have remained unnoticed as regards its coherence with that which precedes.

Hebrews 8:1-13. Not merely, however, as regards His person is Christ highly exalted above the Levitical priests; the sanctuary, too, in which He fulfils the office of High Priest, is highly exalted above the Levitical sanctuary. For Christ sustains His high-priestly office in the heavenly tabernacle, erected by God Himself, of which as the archetype the earthly tabernacle, in which the Levitical priests fulfil their office, is a mere copy. So much the more excellent is the priestly ministry of Christ, in proportion as the Covenant of which He is the Mediator is a better covenant, because resting upon the foundation of better promises. The character of this promised New Covenant is a more inward, spiritual one; and by the promise of a New Covenant the Old is declared to be outworn and no longer serviceable.Hebrews 8:1-6. The idea of Christ’s priesthood, merely suggested in Hebrews 1:3, expressly affirmed in Hebrews 2:17, has been from Hebrews 4:14 onwards enlarged upon and illustrated. It has been shown that Christ is a priest, called by God to this office and proclaimed by God as High Priest. The superiority of His orders as belonging not to the hereditary Aaronic line, but as being “after the order of Melchisedek,” has also been exhibited. Passing now from the person and qualifications of the Priest, the author proceeds in chap. 8 to illustrate his greatness from a consideration of the place of His ministry. It is in heaven He is seated, a minister of the real tabernacle, not of that which had been pitched by Moses as an image and symbol of it. The priesthood to which God called Him must be a heavenly ministry, for were He on earth He would not even be a priest, not to say a High Priest. His ministry, therefore, being in the heaven of eternal realities, is a “better ministry,” in accordance with the fact that he is mediating a “better covenant”.1. of the things which we have spoken this is the sum] Rather, “the chief point in what we are saying is this.” The word rendered “sum” (kephalaion) may mean, in its classical sense, “chief point,” and that must be the meaning here, because these verses are not a summary and they add fresh particulars to what he has been saying. Dr Field renders it “now to crown our present discourse;” Tyndale and Cranmer, “pyth.

is set] Rather, “sat”—a mark of preeminence (Hebrews 10:11-12, Hebrews 12:2).

of the throne] This conception seems to be the origin of the Jewish word Metatron, a sort of Prince of all the Angels, near the throne (meta thronios).

of the Majesty in the heavens] A very Alexandrian expression. See note on Hebrews 1:3.Hebrews 8:1. Κεφάλαιον, the head, the sum) The Accusative absolute, which Paul uses, 1 Timothy 2:6, note. The head, that is, the principal point.—ἐπὶ τοῖς λεγομένοις) while these things are being spoken of, while we are treating of this object, while we are stating all these things concerning our High Priest, the sum of the whole discourse, as the arrangement so requires it, comes now to be mentioned: comp. ἐπὶ, Hebrews 8:6, ch. Hebrews 9:10; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 9:17; Hebrews 10:28. The force of the Greek prepositions ought sometimes to be taken by itself, nor does it admit of an adequate Latin or German periphrasis. See note 3 on Hebrews 9:15, ch. 9. I did not quote that verse at ch. Hebrews 7:11, note 5; wherefore the words of this note 5 are not to be extended to ch. Hebrews 9:15. Ἐπὶ also applies to concomitancy, which is expressed by while.—τοιοῦτον, such) The capital proposition standing out very prominent. For, after having finished the explanation of the type in Melchisedec, he begins simply (without type) to discuss the excellence of the priesthood of Christ above the Levitical priesthood.—ἐκάθισεν, sat down) after having presented His oblation. [This is the very sum of the whole discussion, says the Apostle, that Christ, sitting in heaven, performs His office of priest, ch. Hebrews 10:12.—V. g.]—τῆς μεγαλωσύνης, of the majesty) i.e. τοῦ Θεοῦ, of GOD, ch. Hebrews 12:2, at the end.Verse 1. - Now the chief matter in (or, in regard to) the things which are being said is (or, to sum up what we are saying). The word κεφάλαιον in itself may mean either "summary" or "chief point." It is not "the sum of what we have spoken," as in A.V. "Caput, id est praecipuum .... dum haec omnia de archisacerdote nostro dicimus, caput totius sermonis, ordine ita postulante, commemorandum venit. Conf. ἐπὶ, ver. 6; Hebrews 9:10, 15, 17; Hebrews 10:28" (Bengel). We have such a High Priest (i.e. such as has been described; cf. Hebrews 7:26), who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty (or, of Majesty) in the heavens (cf. Hebrews 1:3, and what was there said). Of the things which we have spoken (ἐπὶ τοῖς λεγομένοις)

The A.V. is wrong. Ἐπὶ is in the case of, or in the consideration of: not of, nor in addition to. Τοῖς λεγομένοις "the things which are being spoken": the matters now under discussion.

The sum (κεφάλαιον)

Rend. the chief point. It is not the sum of what precedes, but the main point of the present discussion. This point is that Christ is the minister of a better sanctuary, connected with a better covenant.

Such an high priest (τοιοῦτον)

Taken up from Hebrews 7:26.

Is set (ἐκάθισεν)

Repeating Hebrews 1:3. Rend. sat down.

The throne of the majesty (τοῦ θρόνου τῆς μεγαλωσύνης)

See on Hebrews 1:3. The phrase N.T.o.

In the heavens (ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς)

Const. with sat down, not with majesty, which is complete in itself and needs no qualifying epithet.

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