|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest,.... The Socinians from hence attempt to prove that Christ was not a priest, and did not offer sacrifice on earth; whereas his coming into the world, and his appearance in human nature, was in the character of a priest, and to qualify himself for one; his death was his sacrifice, which was on earth; and he never offered but one sacrifice; and it was after he had offered himself that he went to heaven; so the sacrifices under the law were first offered, before their blood was carried within: but the meaning is, either if "that" was on earth, namely, what it was necessary he should have to offer; if his human nature had been earthly, had been of men, had come by ordinary generation, he had not been properly, only typically a priest, at most; and had been no better than the typical ones; yea, he would have been needless, nay, might not have offered, not being of Levi's tribe, and could not have existed as a priest with the sons of Aaron; but he had his human nature in another way, through the power of the Holy Ghost from above, and therefore is said to come from above, from heaven, and to be the Lord from heaven: or the sense is, if he was on earth, and had not died, he had not been a priest; and if he had died and remained under the power of death, he had been a priest of no account and use; and had he rose again and remained on earth, without going to heaven, with his blood and sacrifice, he had not been a perfect priest; if Christ had remained on earth, the Levitical priesthood had remained, and so he would have been no priest, since two priesthoods could not have subsisted together. The Levitical priesthood was in force while Christ was on earth; Christ's priesthood was not perfected on earth; the Levitical priesthood remaining while he was on earth, proves he was not then a perfect priest, or had not completed his priesthood; had he been so, that would not have subsisted; it was necessary therefore that Christ should enter into the holy place, to put an end to the Levitical priesthood: moreover, if he had remained on earth, he had been needless;
seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law; there were priests when Christ was upon earth; their work was to offer gifts the people brought, and sacrifices for sin, and that according to the law of Moses, which till the death of Christ was in full force.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. Implying that Christ's priestly office is exercised in heaven, not in earth; in the power of His resurrection life, not of His earthly life.
For—The oldest manuscripts read, "accordingly then."
if, &c.—"if He were on earth, He would not even (so the Greek) be a priest" (compare Heb 7:13, 14); therefore, certainly, He could not exercise the high priestly function in the earthly Holy of Holies.
seeing that, &c.—"since there are" already, and exist now (the temple service not yet being set aside, as it was on the destruction of Jerusalem), "those (the oldest manuscripts omit 'priests') who offer the (appointed) gifts according to (the) law." Therefore, His sacerdotal "ministry" must be "in the heavens," not on earth (Heb 8:1). "If His priesthood terminated on the earth, He would not even be a priest at all" [Bengel]. I conceive that the denial here of Christ's priesthood on earth does not extend to the sacrifice on the cross which He offered as a priest on earth; but applies only to the crowning work of His priesthood, the bringing of the blood into the Holy of Holies, which He could not have done in the earthly Holy of Holies, as not being an Aaronic priest. The place (the heavenly Holy of Holies) was as essential to the atonement being made as the oblation (the blood). The body was burnt without the gate; but the sanctification was effected by the presentation of the blood within the sanctuary by the high priest. If on earth, He would not be a priest in the sense of the law of Moses ("according to the law" is emphatic).
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