Hebrews 10:1
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) A Shadow of good things to come.—These words have already come before us; the “shadow” in Hebrews 8:5, and “the good things to come” in the ordinary reading of Hebrews 9:11.

Not the very image.—The antithesis is hardly what we should have expected. The word “image” is indeed consistent with the very closest and most perfect likeness; but why is the contrast to “shadow” expressed by a word which cannot denote more than likeness, and not by a reference to the things themselves? The answer would seem to be that, from the very nature of the “good things to come,” the law could not be conceived of as having the things themselves; but had it possessed “the very image” of them, a representation so perfect might have been found to bring with it equal efficacy.

Can never with those sacrifices.—It is difficult to ascertain the exact Greek text in the latter half of this verse. With the ordinary reading the general construction of the sentence is that which the Authorised version represents, “For the law . . . can never . . . make perfect.” The better MSS., however, read “they can,” a change which introduces some irregularity of construction: the pronoun “they” must probably in this case be understood of the priests. The order of the Greek is also very peculiar. Two translations of the verse (with the changed reading) may be given: (1) “They can never with the same sacrifices year by year which they offer continually make them that draw nigh perfect.” (2) “They can never year by year, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually, make them that draw nigh perfect.” The difference between the two renderings will be easily seen. The former makes the whole sentence to relate to the annual sacrifice on the Day of Atonement, and gives to “continually” almost the same meaning as “year by year.” The meaning of the latter is that by the annual sacrifices, which are the same as those which the priests are offering for the people day by day (for the sacrifice of the Day of Atonement did not in itself differ from the ordinary sin offering), they cannot make the worshippers perfect. The latter translation agrees best with the original, and conveys a very striking thought. It is open, however, to a very serious objection—that it separates the verse into two incongruous parts. That annual sacrifices not different in kind from the sin offerings which were presented day by day (and which the very institution of the Day of Atonement declared to be imperfect) could not bring to the worshippers what they needed, is an important argument; but it has no connection with the first words of the verse. Hence, though the Greek does not very readily yield the former translation, it is probably to be preferred. With the expression “them that draw nigh” or “approach” (to God) comp. Hebrews 7:26, where the same word is used. On “make perfect” see Hebrews 7:11; Hebrews 9:9.

Hebrews 10:1. The apostle, in order to display Christ’s dignity as a High-Priest, having illustrated what he affirmed, (Hebrews 8:7,) namely, that the Levitical priests worshipped God in the tabernacle with the representations of the services to be performed by Christ in heaven; also having contrasted the ineffectual services performed by these priests in the tabernacle on earth, with the effectual services performed by Christ in heaven; and the covenant of which they were the mediators, with the covenant of which Christ is the Mediator; and the blessings procured by the services of the Levitical priests in the earthly tabernacle, with the blessings procured by the services performed by Christ in heaven; he, in the beginning of this chapter, as the necessary consequence of these things, infers, that since the law contained nothing but a shadow, or emblematical representation, of the blessings to come, through the services of the greater and more perfect heavenly tabernacle, and not these blessings themselves, it never could, with the same emblematical sacrifices which were offered annually by the high-priest on the day of atonement, make those who came to these sacrifices perfect in respect of pardon. Thus, For, &c. — As if he had said, From all that has been advanced, it appears that the law — The Mosaic dispensation; being a bare unsubstantial shadow of good things to come — Of gospel blessings and gospel worship; and not the very image — The substantial, solid representation, or complete delineation; of the things, can never, with the same kind of sacrifices — Though continually repeated; make the comers thereunto perfect. In the terms shadow and image, there seems to be an allusion, as Doddridge observes, “to the different state of a painting, when the first sketch only is drawn, and when the picture is finished; or to the first sketch of a painting, when compared with what is yet more expressive than even the completest picture, and exact image:” or between the shadow of a man, made by his body’s intercepting the sun’s rays, and a good portrait or statue of him, or the reflection of his person in a mirror. The good things of which the law contained only a shadow, were, 1st, The cleansing of the mind of believers from evil dispositions, by the doctrines of the gospel, and by the influences of the Spirit of God. Of this the washings and purifications of the bodies of the Israelites, enjoined in the law, were a shadow. 2d, That real atonement for sin, which was made by the offering of the body of Christ once for all, Hebrews 10:10. Of this the Levitical atonements, made by the offering of beasts, were a shadow. 3d, The eternal pardon of sin, procured for believers by the atonements which Christ made. Of this the political pardon, obtained for the Israelites by the sacrifice of beasts which the priests offered, was a shadow. 4th, Access to worship God on earth through the blood of Christ with the hope of acceptance. Of this the drawing nigh of the Israelites to worship in the court of the tabernacle, through the blood of the Levitical sacrifices, was a shadow. 5th, The eternal possession of heaven, through believing and obeying the gospel. Of this the continued possession of Canaan, secured to the Israelites by their obedience to the law, was a shadow. Now since the good things which Christ hath obtained for believers through his ministrations in the heavenly tabernacle, were not procured, but only typified, by the ministrations of the high-priests in the tabernacle on earth, it was fit that those shadows should be done away after the things of which they were shadows were accomplished.10:1-10 The apostle having shown that the tabernacle, and ordinances of the covenant of Sinai, were only emblems and types of the gospel, concludes that the sacrifices the high priests offered continually, could not make the worshippers perfect, with respect to pardon, and the purifying of their consciences. But when God manifested in the flesh, became the sacrifice, and his death upon the accursed tree the ransom, then the Sufferer being of infinite worth, his free-will sufferings were of infinite value. The atoning sacrifice must be one capable of consenting, and must of his own will place himself in the sinner's stead: Christ did so. The fountain of all that Christ has done for his people, is the sovereign will and grace of God. The righteousness brought in, and the sacrifice once offered by Christ, are of eternal power, and his salvation shall never be done away. They are of power to make all the comers thereunto perfect; they derive from the atoning blood, strength and motives for obedience, and inward comfort.For the law having a shadow - That is, the whole of the Mosaic economy was a shadow; for so the word "Law" is often used. The word "shadow" here refers to a rough outline of anything, a mere sketch, such as a carpenter draws with a piece of chalk, or such as an artist delineates when he is about to make a picture. He sketches an outline of the object which he designs to draw, which has "some" resemblance to it, but is not the "very image;" for it is not yet complete. The words rendered "the very image" refer to a painting or statue which is finished, where every part is an exact copy of the original. The "good things to come" here refer to the future blessings which would be conferred on man by the gospel. The idea is, that under the ancient sacrifices there was an imperfect representation; a dim outline of the blessings which the gospel would impart to people. They were a typical representation; they were not such that it could be pretended that they would answer the purpose of the things themselves which they were to represent, and would make those who offered them perfect. Such a rude outline; such a mere sketch, or imperfect delineation, could no more answer the purpose of saving the soul than the rough sketch which an architect makes would answer the purpose of a house, or than the first outline which a painter draws would answer the purpose of a perfect and finished portrait. All that could be done by either would be to convey some distant and obscure idea of what the house or the picture might be, and this was all that was done by the Law of Moses.

Can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually - The sacrifices here particularly referred to were those which were offered on the great day of atonement. These were regarded as the most sacred and efficacious of all, and yet the apostle says that the very fact that they were offered every year showed that there must be some deficiency about them, or they would have ceased to be offered.

Make the comers thereunto perfect - They could not free them from the stains of guilt; they could not give ease to a troubled conscience; there was in them no efficacy by which sin could be put away; compare the notes on Hebrews 7:11; Hebrews 9:9.

CHAPTER 10

Heb 10:1-39. Conclusion of the Foregoing Argument. The Yearly Recurring Law Sacrifices Cannot Perfect the Worshipper, but Christ's Once-for-all Offering Can.

Instead of the daily ministry of the Levitical priests, Christ's service is perfected by the one sacrifice, whence He now sits on the right hand of God as a Priest-King, until all His foes shall be subdued unto Him. Thus the new covenant (Heb 8:8-12) is inaugurated, whereby the law is written on the heart, so that an offering for sin is needed no more. Wherefore we ought to draw near the Holiest in firm faith and love; fearful of the awful results of apostasy; looking for the recompense to be given at Christ's coming.

1. Previously the oneness of Christ's offering was shown; now is shown its perfection as contrasted with the law sacrifices.

having—inasmuch as it has but "the shadow, not the very image," that is, not the exact likeness, reality, and full revelation, such as the Gospel has. The "image" here means the archetype (compare Heb 9:24), the original, solid image [Bengel] realizing to us those heavenly verities, of which the law furnished but a shadowy outline before. Compare 2Co 3:13, 14, 18; the Gospel is the very setting forth by the Word and Spirit of the heavenly realities themselves, out of which it (the Gospel) is constructed. So Alford. As Christ is "the express image (Greek, 'impress') of the Father's person" (Heb 1:3), so the Gospel is the heavenly verities themselves manifested by revelation—the heavenly very archetype, of which the law was drawn as a sketch, or outline copy (Heb 8:5). The law was a continual process of acted prophecy, proving the divine design that its counterparts should come; and proving the truth of those counterparts when they came. Thus the imperfect and continued expiatory sacrifices before Christ foretend, and now prove, the reality of, Christ's one perfect antitypical expiation.

good things to come—(Heb 9:11); belonging to "the world (age) to come." Good things in part made present by faith to the believer, and to be fully realized hereafter in actual and perfect enjoyment. Lessing says, "As Christ's Church on earth is a prediction of the economy of the future life, so the Old Testament economy is a prediction of the Christian Church." In relation to the temporal good things of the law, the spiritual and eternal good things of the Gospel are "good things to come." Col 2:17 calls legal ordinances "the shadow," and Christ "the body."

never—at any time (Heb 10:11).

with those sacrifices—rather, "with the same sacrifices.

year by year—This clause in the Greek refers to the whole sentence, not merely to the words "which they the priests offered" (Greek, "offer"). Thus the sense is, not as English Version, but, the law year by year, by the repetition of the same sacrifices, testifies its inability to perfect the worshippers; namely, on the YEARLY day of atonement. The "daily" sacrifices are referred to, Heb 10:11.

continually—Greek, "continuously," implying that they offer a toilsome and ineffectual "continuous" round of the "same" atonement-sacrifices recurring "year by year."

comers thereunto—those so coming unto God, namely, the worshippers (the whole people) coming to God in the person of their representative, the high priest.

perfect—fully meet man's needs as to justification and sanctification (see on [2573]Heb 9:9).Hebrews 10:1-4 The sacrifices of the law, being often repeated,

could not take away sins.

Hebrews 10:5-9 The abolition of them, and substitution of Christ’s

body in their stead, foretold by the psalmist,

Hebrews 10:10-18 by the offering of which body once for all we obtain

perfect remission.

Hebrews 10:19-25 An exhortation to steadfastness in the faith, and to

love and good works.

Hebrews 10:26-31 The danger of a wilful relapse after having received

the knowledge of the truth,

Hebrews 10:32-39 and of forfeiting the reward of a good beginning for

want of perseverance.

For: this for is connecting this to the foregoing discourse, and is a further improvement of the argument laid down, Hebrews 9, proving the necessity and excellency of the one sacrifice offered by Christ for sinners unto God, from the weakness of all the legal ones. For if all the multitude of them were not able to take away sins, and Christ’s one offering is mighty to abolish them, and to perfect all who use it, then not these legal ones, but his is necessary to be valued by the Hebrews, and preferred to that end; the demonstration of which takes up from Hebrews 10:1-18 of this chapter.

The law; the whole Mosaical economy given from God to Israel by him in the wilderness of Sinai; priesthood, covenant, sacrifices, and services, which that did contain.

Having a shadow of good things to come: see Hebrews 8:5. A shadow is lower than an image, and of another kind from the reality or substance; a dark, obscure representation sentation of what was to fulfil them, viz. of Christ, with all his ministry and privileges attending his covenant, both for time and eternity; this the Mosaical law-real comprehended, but all in shadow-work.

And not the very image of the things; they are not the very essence and substance themselves of these things, the pattern, or real sampler, but a shadowy representation; they lead their users to Christ and his matters, which they represented, but were not the substantial good things themselves. So image is read, 1 Corinthians 15:49, we have borne the image of the earthy Adam, that is, his nature.

Can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect: the legal sacrifices are not only impotent in respect of their constitution, but of their very nature, being only shadows, so as they cannot render a soul complete, either in respect of justification or sanctification; they could not free any either from the guilt or punishment of sin at present, much less eternally: with all the renovation of them either on the day of atonement yearly, or those daily offered by them, though they should continue to be offered for ever, yet could they not perfect either the priests ministering, or those for whom they ministered, who were externally humbling themselves on the expiation day; they being designed only to point the people to this better sacrifice of Christ, which was to perfect them, that work being so noble, and above, the power of shadows to perform.

For the law having a shadow of good things to come,.... By which is meant not the moral law, for that is not a shadow of future blessings, but a system of precepts; the things it commands are not figuratively, but really good and honest; and are not obscure, but plain and easy to be understood; nor are they fleeting and passing away, as a shadow, but lasting and durable: but the ceremonial law is intended; this was a "shadow", a figure, a representation of something true, real, and substantial; was dark and obscure, yet had in it, and gave, some glimmering light; and was like a shadow, fleeting and transitory: and it was a shadow of good things; of Christ himself, who is the body, the sum and substance of it, and of the good things to come by him; as the expiation of sin, peace and reconciliation, a justifying righteousness, pardon of sin, and eternal life; these are said to be "to come", as they were under the former dispensation, while the ceremonial law was in force, and that shadow was in being, and the substance not as yet.

And not the very image of the things; as it had not neither the things themselves, nor Christ, the substance of them, so it did not give a clear revelation of them, as is made in the Gospel, nor exhibit a distinct delineation of them, such as an image expresses; it only gave some short and dark hints of future good things, but did not exactly describe them: and therefore

can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually: namely, the sacrifices of bullocks and goats, which were offered on the day of atonement, year after year, in successive generations, from the first appointment of that day, to the writing of this epistle: sacrifices of such a kind, and so often repeated, could never

make the comers thereunto perfect; either the people that came to the temple, and brought them to the priests to offer them for them, or the priests that offered them; so the Syriac and Ethiopic versions render it, "perfect them that offer"; and if not one, then not the other: legal sacrifices could not make perfect expiation of sin; there is no proportion between them and sin: nor did they extend to all sin, and at most only typically expiated; nor could they justify and cleanse from sin. Contrary to this, the Jews (p) say,

"when Israel was in the holy land, there was no iniquity found in them, for the sacrifices which they offered every day stoned for them;''

but spiritual sacrificers and worshippers were expiated, justified, and cleansed another way, even by the blood of Christ, slain from the foundation of the world in purpose, promise, and type, and to which their faith had respect in every sacrifice.

(p) Zohar in Gen. fol. 107. 1.

For {1} the law having a shadow of good things to {a} come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

(1) He prevents a private objection. Why then were those sacrifices offered? The apostle answers, first concerning the yearly sacrifice which was the solemnest of all, in which (he says) there was made every year a remembrance again of all former sins. Therefore that sacrifice had no power to sanctify: for to what purpose should those sins which are purged be repeated again, and why should new sins come to be repeated every year, if those sacrifices abolished sin?

(a) Of things which are everlasting, which were promised to the fathers, and exhibited in Christ.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Hebrews 10:1. Establishment of the ἅπαξ προσενεχθεὶς εἰς τὸ πολλῶν ἀνενεγκεῖν ἁμαρτίας, Hebrews 9:28, as being the main thought lying in Hebrews 9:25-28, by making good the opposite state of the case in the province of the O. T. theocracy: “For since the law contains only a shadow of the future good things, not the actual likeness of the things, it is not able by means of the same sacrifices every year, which are unceasingly offered, ever to make perfect them that draw nigh.” The emphasis of the proposition rests partly upon the characterization of the law as σκιὰν ἔχων κ.τ.λ., partly upon κατʼ ἐνιαυτὸν ταῖς αὐταῖς θυσίαις, ἃς προσφέρουσιν εἰς τὸ διηνεκές. The author, however, cannot thereby mean, as the words at first hearing might seem to imply, that the law, in case its contents were no mere σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων ἀγαθῶν, would in reality effect the τελείωσις by means of its ever-repeated expiatory sacrifices. For, as is shown by Hebrews 10:2-3, the author already bases upon the very fact of the yearly repetition of the Mosaic expiatory sacrifices the proof for their inadequacy. We must therefore suppose that two independent particulars of thought have been blended together into a single statement. One can resolve the matter either in such wise that οὐδέποτε δύναται τελειῶσαι is looked upon as the common predicate for both particulars: the law is incapable of leading to τελείωσις, because it contains a mere σκιά κ.τ.λ.; and certainly it is incapable, by means of its ever-repeated sacrifices, of leading to τελείωσις. Or in such wise that the second particular is thought of originally as an inference from the first, from which the οὐδέποτε δύναται κ.τ.λ. is then progressively derived: because the law contains a mere σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων ἀγαθῶν, there is found in its domain an unceasing repetition of the same expiatory sacrifices; by this unceasing repetition, however, it is never able to lead to perfection. The latter analysis is to be preferred, because by means of it the opposition, required by the course of the argument, between the once offered and the ofttimes repeated expiatory sacrifice, comes out clearly and definitely in all its severity; while the characterization of the νόμος, on the other hand, as σκιὰν ἔχων κ.τ.λ., is made only that which here, in harmony with the context, it alone can be, i.e. a mere subsidiary factor in the argument.

σκιάν] a shadow, which is unsubstantiated, melts away into obscurity, and only enables us to recognise the external outlines. Opposite to this is the εἰκών, the image or impress, which sets before us the figure itself, sharply and clearly stamped forth. See on Hebrews 8:5. Freely, but not incorrectly, does Luther translate: “the very substance of the good things.”

τῶν μελλόντων ἀγαθῶν] see at Hebrews 9:11.

τῶν πραγμάτων] different from τῶν μελλόντων ἀγαθῶν only as respects the more general form of expression.

κατʼ ἐνιαυτόν] belongs neither to οὐδέποτε δύναται (Ebrard, Delitzsch, Hofmann, Schrifibew. II. 1, 2 Aufl. p. 446; Alford) nor to ἃς προσφέρουσιν (Calvin, Er. Schmid, Wolf, Heinrichs, Bleek, de Wette, Bloomfield, and others), in which latter case the words would have to be resolved by ταῖς θυσίαις, ἃς κατʼ ἐνιαυτὸν τὰς αὐτὰς προσφέρουσιν, or something similar. But κατʼ ἐνιαυτόν is rather to be taken in intimate combination with ταῖς αὐταῖς: with the same sacrifices every year. The author forebore writing ταῖς αὐταῖς κατʼ ἐνιαυτὸν θυσίαις, in order that he might accentuate each notion equally strongly. As, moreover, with κατʼ ἐνιαυτόν in this place, so also elsewhere with adverbs which in point of meaning may be compared with it, such as ἀεί, πολλάκις, etc., a transposing is nothing rare. Comp. Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 514 f.

ταῖς αὐταῖς θυσίαις] Those meant are, as is required by κατʼ ἐνιαυτόν (comp. also Hebrews 10:4), only the sacrifices on the great day of atonement, not also the daily sacrifices of propitiation (Hebrews 10:11), as Böhme, Stein, and others suppose.

προσφέρουσιν] sc. the Levitical high priests. Wrongly Hofmann (Schriftbew. II. 1, 2 Aufl. p. 446), who in general has entirely failed in his interpretation of the statement:[96] the προσερχόμενοι.

εἰς τὸ διηνεκές] Note of time to προσφέρουσιν. If we should seek, with Paulus, Lachmann, and Hofmann, l.c., to conjoin εἰς τὸ διηνεκές with that which follows, the relative clause ἃς προσφέρουσιν would be deprived of all signification.

τοὺς προσερχομένους] those who approach God through the medium of the Levitical priests, thus identical with τοὺς λατρεύοντας, Hebrews 10:2; Hebrews 9:9.

[96] Namely, in that he brings out as the sense of the same, “the propitiatory sacrifice, which is, as it were, offered by the law itself, because offered at its direction and by the high priest for the congregation,” is here “convinced of its manifest incapacity for effecting real and abiding purity of conscience for the individuals. This conviction is wrought by the fact that, notwithstanding this sacrifice has been offered every year for the whole congregation, the individuals still continue throughout the year to offer sacrifices for themselves”!

Hebrews 10:1-4. Presentation in a clearer light of the necessity for Christ’s offering Himself only once for the expiation of sins (Hebrews 9:25-28), by pointing to the ineffectiveness of the expiatory sacrifices continually repeated within the domain of Judaism. This constant repetition attests that sins are still ever present, as indeed a cancelling of sin by the blood of bullocks and of goats is impossible.Hebrews 10:1-18. Finality of Christ’s one sacrifice. The law merely presents a shadow of the essential spiritual blessings and does not perfect those who seek God through it. Its sacrifices therefore must be continually repeated and the consciousness of sins is annually revived, for animal blood cannot take sins away. Accordingly, when Christ comes into the world He says, “Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldst not, I am come to do Thy will”. He proclaims the uselessness of O.T. sacrifices, that He may clear the ground for “the offering of the body of Christ”. This is the great distinction between Christ and all other priests. They stand daily ministering, He by one offering has perfected those who approach God through Him.1–14. The one Sacrifice and the many Sacrifices

1. of good things to come] Of the good things which Christ had now brought into the world (Hebrews 9:11).

not the very image of the things] “The Law,” says St Ambrose, “had the shadow; the Gospel the image; the Reality itself is in Heaven.” By the word image is meant the true historic form. The Gospel was as much closer a resemblance of the Reality as a statue is a closer resemblance than a pencilled outline.

can never] This may be the right reading, though the plural “they are never able,” is found in some mss. If this latter be the true reading the sentence begins with an unfinished construction (anakoluthon).

with those sacrifices …] Rather, “with the same sacrifices, year by year, which they offer continuously, make perfect them that draw nigh,” i.e. the Priests can never with their sacrifices, which are the same year by year, perfect the worshippers. Some have given a fuller sense to the words “the same,” as though it meant that even the sacrifices of the Day of Atonement cannot make any one perfect, being as they are, after all, the same sacrifices in their inmost nature as those which are offered every morning and evening.Hebrews 10:1. Σκιὰν, shadow) The antithesis is εἰκόνα, image.—αὐτὴν την εἰκόα, the very image) the archetype, the original and solid image, ch. Hebrews 9:24, note. The shadow,[56] although it was the prelude of future events, did not however precede, as in a picture, but followed a little after. See by all means ch. Hebrews 8:5.—κατʼ ἐνιαυτὸν, yearly) This refers to the whole sentence to the end of the verse.—ταῖς αὐταῖς, with the same) the same, not in the number, but in the kind of sacrifices.—ἃς προσφέρουσιν εἰς τὸ διηνεκὲς, which they offer continually) offer, viz. those who offer, who draw near and perform the service. They offer for ever; that is, they do not cease to offer, nor will they cease, unless they be compelled.—οὐδέποτε δύναται, never can) So. Hebrews 10:11.

[56] Used here of the first outline or sketch drawn, preparatory to a painting.—ED.Verses 1-19. - CONCLUDING SUMMARY OF THE ARGUMENT WITH RESPECT TO CHRIST'S ETERNAL PRIESTHOOD. Verse 1. - For the Law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make the comers thereunto perfect. The Law is said here to exhibit a shadow (σκιὰν) of the good things to come (τῶν μελλόντων ἀγαθῶν), viz. of the "good things" of which Christ is come as "High Priest" (Hebrews 9:11), belonging to the μέλλων αἰών (Hebrews 6:5), μέλλουσα οἰκουμένη (Hebrews 2:5), which is still, in its full realization, future to us, though already inaugurated by Christ, and though we have already tasted the powers of it (Hebrews 6:5). Similarly (Hebrews 8:5) the priests under the Law are said to have served a copy and shadow of the heavenly things; i.e. of the heavenly realities to be revealed in the "coming age." To "shadow" is opposed "very image" (εἰκόνα), which means, not a representation apart from the things (as a statue or portrait may be called an image), but (as emphasized by αὐτὴν) the actual presentment of the things themselves; which were, in fact, archetypal and prior to the shadows of the Law, though their manifestation was reserved to the future age. Such is the sense of εἰκὼν in Colossians 3:10, κατ εἰκόνα τοῦ κτίσαντος αὐτόν: and Romans 8:29, συμμόρφους τῆς εἰκόνος τοῦ υἱοῦ. (Cf. Colossians 1:15, where Christ is called εἰκὼν τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου: cf. also Colossians 2:17, where σκιὰ is opposed to σῶμα ( σηαδοω to body.) In the latter part of the verse, "they," who "offer," are the priests of the Law; "the comers thereunto" (οἱ προσερχομένοι) are the people who resort to the rites. "Make perfect" (τελειῶσαι) means full accomplishment for them of what is aimed at; in this case, remission of sin, and acceptance after complete atonement. The verb τελειοῦν, though variously applied, signifies always full completion of the purpose in view (cf. Hebrews 7:19, οὐδεν γὰρ ἐτελείωσεν ὁ νόμος). (For its application to Christ himself, see under Hebrews 2:10; 5:9.) The arrangement of the verse is much disputed. Rend. "The law, with the same sacrifices which they continually renew year by year, can never make the comers thereunto perfect."

A shadow (σκιὰν)

The emphasis is on this thought. The legal system was a shadow. Σκιὰ is a rude outline, an adumbration, contrasted with εἰκὼν, the archetypal or ideal pattern. Σκιὰ does not accurately exhibit the figure itself. Comp. Hebrews 8:5.

Of good things to come (τῶν μελλόντων ἀγαθῶν)

From the point of view of the law.

The very image of the things (αὐτὴν τὴν εἰκόνα τῶν πραγμάτων)

For εἰκὼν image, see on Revelation 13:14; see on Philippians 2:7. Πραγμάτων things expresses a little more distinctly than μελλόντων the idea of facts and realities.

Can (δύναται)

Δύναται might be expected with ὁ νόμος the law as the subject. If δύναται, the plural, is retained, the clause the law - image of the things must be taken absolutely, the construction of the sentence breaking off suddenly, and the subject being changed from the law to the priests: "The priests can never," etc. It is better to read δύναται in the singular, with Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort, and Weiss.

Continually (εἰς τὸ διηνεκὲς)

See on Hebrews 7:3, and comp. Hebrews 10:12, Hebrews 10:14. Const. with offer.

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Hebrews 9:28
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