Hebrews 8:6
But now has he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
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(6) But now.—That is, as the case really is. (See Hebrews 8:3.) We have here another of those proportional statements commented on in Hebrews 1:4; Hebrews 3:3; Hebrews 7:22. The last of these passages is closely akin to this. There we read that by how much the Priest appointed by the divine oath is raised above all other priests, by so much is His covenant better than theirs. Here, that as He is Mediator of a better covenant, in the same proportion does His ministry excel that of priests on earth.

Which was established.—Better, one that hath been ordained. The verb, properly meaning “to legislate,” has already occurred in Hebrews 7:11, “the people hath received the Law” (literally, hath been legislated for). Here, then, a word which properly refers to the passing of a law is applied to a covenant. The explanation must be sought in the special nature of the covenants of God with man (see Hebrews 7:22), which are not compacts between equals, but arrangements offered by the divine goodness, and made dependent upon conditions. Hence such a covenant may be spoken of as ordained, enacted, on the basis of promise. On the promises (see Hebrews 8:8-12) which are given by God is based the “covenant” which becomes the law of His kingdom and the declaration of His procedure. The man who accepts the promises by entering into the conditions laid down is dealt with according to this law. Here, Jesus is the “Mediator,” in Hebrews 7:22 (see Note) the “Surety,” of the better covenant. The idea is expanded below in Hebrews 9:15-18. On the tacit comparison with Moses, as mediator of the first covenant, see Note on Galatians 3:19.

Hebrews 8:6-7. But now, &c. — In this verse begins the second part of the chapter concerning the difference between the two covenants, the old and the new, with the pre-eminence of the latter to the former, and of the ministry of Christ to that of the Jewish high-priests. He hath obtained a more excellent ministry, &c. — His priesthood as much excels theirs as the promises of the gospel, whereof he is a surety, excelled those of the law; or, the excellence of his ministry above that of the Levitical priests is in proportion to the excellence of the covenant, whereof he is the Mediator, above the old covenant wherein they had ministered. With this argument the apostle closes his long discourse respecting the pre-eminence of Christ in his office above the high-priests of old, a subject to which he could not give too much evidence, nor too full a confirmation, considering that it was the very hinge on which his whole controversy with the Jews depended. For if that first covenant had been faultless — If that dispensation had answered all God’s designs and man’s wants, if it had not been weak and unprofitable; then should no place, &c. — “Although the Sinai covenant was well calculated to preserve the Jews from idolatry, and to give them the knowledge of their duty, it was faulty or imperfect in the following respects: 1st, The rites of worship which it enjoined, sanctified only to the purifying of the flesh, but not the consciences of the worshippers. 2d, These rites could be performed nowhere but in the tabernacle, or in the temple, consequently they could not be the religion of mankind. 3d, This covenant had no real sacrifices for sin, consequently it granted no pardon to any sinner. 4th, Its promises were all of a temporal kind. 5th, It required an unsinning obedience, which, in our present state, no one can give; and threatened death for every offence. See Galatians 4:3. No place have been sought for the second — Since the first covenant is that which God made with the Israelites at Sinai by the publication of the law, the second covenant must be that which was made with mankind in general, by the publication of the gospel. Accordingly the publication of the gospel was foretold, (Jeremiah 31:31,) under the idea of making a new covenant with the house of Israel, &c., and the gospel itself is called (Isaiah 2:3,) the law which went forth from Zion. But it is to be observed, that the law of Moses is called the first covenant, not merely because it was prior to the gospel, but also because it was in some respects the same with the first covenant under which Adam was placed in paradise; for, like it, it required perfect obedience (in many cases) under the penalty of death, and allowed no pardon to any sinner, however penitent. It is likewise to be observed, that the gospel is called the second covenant, not merely because it was posterior to the law, but also because it is actually the same with the second covenant under which Adam was placed after the fall; for it requires, not a sinless, but a sincere obedience, and grants pardon to sinners on their repentance, see Galatians 3:10. However, though the rigour of the first covenant, (which, properly speaking, was the law of nature written on Adam’s heart,) was mitigated under the second or gospel covenant, by the abolition of its curse, (Galatians 3:13,) its obligation, as a rule of life, never was, nor ever could be cancelled, but its [moral] precepts have constantly remained in force. Hence all the sins which men commit, and which are pardoned under the second covenant, are very properly called transgressions of the first, Hebrews 9:15.”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.But now hath he obtained - That is, Christ.

A more excellent ministry - A service of a higher order, or of a more exalted nature. It was the real and substantial service of which the other was but the emblem; it pertained to things in heaven, while that was concerned with the earthly tabernacle; it was enduring, while that was to vanish away; see the notes on 2 Corinthians 3:6-9.

By how much - By as much as the new covenant is more important than the old, by so much does his ministry exceed in dignity that under the ancient dispensation.

He is the mediator - see the notes on Galatians 3:19-20, where the word "mediator" is explained. It means here that Christ officiates between God and man according to the arrangements of the new covenant.

Of a better covenant - Margin, "Or testament." This word properly denotes a "disposition, arrangement, or ordering" of things; and in the Scriptures is employed to describe the arrangement which God has made to secure the maintenance of his worship on earth, and the salvation of people. It is uniformly used in the Septuagint and in the New Testament to denote the covenant which God makes with people. The word which "properly" denotes a "covenant or compact" - συνθήκη sunthēkē - "suntheke" is never used. The writers of the New Testament evidently derived its use from the Septuagint, but why the authors of that version employed it as denoting a "will" rather than the proper one denoting a "compact," is unknown. It has been supposed by some, and the conjecture is not wholly improbable, that it was because they were unwilling to represent God as making a "compact" or "agreement" with people, but chose rather to represent him as making a mere "arrangement or ordering of things;" compare the notes on Hebrews 8:8, and Hebrews 9:16-17. This is a better covenant than the old, inasmuch as it relates mainly to the pardon of sin; to a spiritual and holy religion; see Hebrews 8:10. The former related more to external rites and observances, and was destined to vanish away; see Hebrews 8:13.

Which was established upon better promises - The promises in the first covenant pertained mainly to the present life. They were promises of length of days; of increase of numbers; of seed time and harvest; of national privileges, and of extraordinary peace, abunance, and prosperity. That there was also the promise of eternal life, it would be wrong to doubt; but this was not the main thing. In the new covenant, however, the promise of spiritual blessings becomes the principal thing. The mind is directed to heaven; the heart is cheered with the hopes of immortal life, the favor of God and the anticipation of heaven are secured in the most ample and solemn manner.

6. now—not time; but "as it is."

more excellent ministry—than any earthly ministry.

by how much—in proportion as.

mediator—coming between us and God, to carry into effect God's covenant with us. "The messenger (angel) of the covenant."

which—Greek, "one which" [Alford]: inasmuch as being one which.

established—Greek, "enacted as a law." So Ro 3:27, "law of faith"; and Ro 8:2; 9:31, apply "law" to the Gospel covenant. It is implied hereby, the Gospel is founded on the law, in the spirit and essence of the latter.

upon—resting upon.

better promises—enumerated Heb 8:10, 11. The Old Testament promises were mainly of earthly, the New Testament promises, of heavenly blessings: the exact fulfilment of the earthly promises was a pledge of the fulfilment of the heavenly. "Like a physician who prescribes a certain diet to a patient, and then when the patient is beginning to recover, changes the diet, permitting what he had before forbidden; or as a teacher gives his pupil an elementary lesson at first; preparatory to leading him to a higher stage": so Rabbi Albo in his Ikkarim. Compare Jer 7:21, 22, which shows that God's original design in the old covenant ritual system was, that it should be pedagogical, as a schoolmaster leading and preparing men for Christ.

But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry: but is here adversative, setting this High Priest over against and above the Aaronical, on the account both of his ministry and covenant, of which theirs were but types and shadows. The Lord Christ hath now really and fully obtained, and doth possess as the gospel High Priest, a public ministration, which, as to its glorious effects, transcendently excels the Levitical, Hebrews 9:11,12,14 10:12,14,18.

By how much also he is the mediator; by how much he is Mediator of a better covenant, by so much he hath a more excellent ministry, so that this is a proof of the former. Mesithv is a middler, one that interposeth, not only between persons at distance, but at enmity: his parleying between God and sinners could profit little, God being so highly injured by and offended with them; and therefore he mediates here as a Surety, as Hebrews 7:22, and so undertakes for sinners to satisfy God, wronged by them, by sacrificing himself for them, and so secure the performance of his covenant mercy to them. By which sacrifice he purchaseth and merits the Holy Spirit, to enable man to perform the conditions which God requireth from him; to repent, and believe, and obey the Redeemer, and wholly to rely upon his sacrifice for God’s favour; as by his intercession he secures to them all the blessings of God’s covenant for time and eternity, as proved, Hebrews 9:1-28.

Of a better covenant; the gospel covenant, which was a solemn agreement between an offended God and sinners; wherein he binds himself to give forth pardon and life to them upon certain conditions; and they bind themselves to perform, in order to the obtaining these. Which covenant was brought about by the intercession of Christ the Mediator between them, who became a Surety for the performance of it, and solemnly ratified and confirmed it by the sacrifice of himself; as other covenants were by the blood of federal sacrifices, of which we have frequent mention in the Scripture; called better than the Mosaical covenant, not for the matter of it, but for the manner of exhibition, Hebrews 7:22, being comparatively a greater good than that which was less, Galatians 3:17.

Which was established upon better promises; which gospel covenant was nenomoyethtai, as the Mosaical one, confirmed, ratified, and established by the blood of the sacrifice according to the law, Hebrews 9:18-21. This was its sanction, it was by it settled unchangeable, attended with and founded on the best promises, such as were more spiritual, clear, extensive, and universal, than those in the Mosaical covenant were. But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry,.... Christ has a ministry, he is the minister of the sanctuary, Hebrews 8:2 he has "obtained" this ministry of his Father; he was called unto it and engaged in it by him; and he has "now" obtained it; for though he was called to it from eternity, it was in time he came an high priest of good things, to come; and his ministry is

a more excellent one than that of the priests, who offered gifts according to the law and served to the example and shadow of heavenly things; as abundantly appears from the preceding chapter, and from this, as well, as from what follows:

by how much also he is the Mediator of a better covenant; the covenant of grace, as administered under the Gospel dispensation; which is not only better than the covenant of works, that being conditional, this absolute; that stood on the foot of works, this on the foot of grace, and is established in Christ; that being broken and made void, this continues; and not only better than the covenant of the Levitical priesthood, which was but a typical one, and is now ceased, but also than the covenant of grace, as administered under the legal dispensation; being better than that, as to the manner of its manifestation, which is more full and clear; and as to the extent of its administration, reaching to Gentiles as well as Jews; and as to the ratification of it by the blood of Christ, called from thence the blood of the everlasting covenant; and as to the promises of it, here said to be better:

which was established upon better promises; which are not now delivered out as before, under the figure of earthly and temporal things; nor under a condition to be performed nor confined to a particular people and nation; and which are attended with a greater measure of the Spirit, to open and apply them; and are all secured in Christ Jesus, and confirmed by his blood: and now of this covenant Christ is the "Mediator"; a mediator is of more persons than one, and of these at variance; and he is a middle person between both; and his business is to bring both parties together, and make peace between them: the two parties in this case are God and man, set at a distance from each other by the sin of man, whereby man is become enmity to God; Christ is the Mediator between God and man, a middle person between both, being both God and man, the daysman, who lays his hands on both; who brings men to God that were afar off, and makes peace for them by the blood of his cross, and satisfies the justice of God, which he has done by the sacrifice of himself; and now appears in the presence of God for them, and intercedes for them, and applies the blessings of the covenant to them by his Spirit, and keeps and preserves them safe to his everlasting kingdom; and for this office he is every way fit, and in this he excels the Levitical priests, and has a ministry superior to theirs, since he is such a Mediator, and a Mediator of such a covenant,

{6} But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

(6) He enters into the comparison of the old and transitory Testament or covenant, being but for a time, of which the Levitical priests were mediators, with the new, the everlasting Mediator of which is Christ, to show that this is not only better than that in all respects, but also that that was made void by this.

repeats, in the form of an antithesis to Hebrews 8:4-5, the main proposition of the new section, that Christ accomplishes His priestly service in the heavenly sanctuary (Hebrews 8:2); in the progress of the discourse, however, advances an additional argument in favour of this main proposition: in that the naturalness of the fact asserted is evidenced by the superiority of that covenant which has been brought in by Christ

Hebrews 8:6 repeats, in the form of an antithesis to Hebrews 8:4-5, the main proposition of the new section, that Christ accomplishes His priestly service in the heavenly sanctuary (Hebrews 8:2); in the progress of the discourse, however, advances an additional argument in favour of this main proposition: in that the naturalness of the fact asserted is evidenced by the superiority of that covenant which has been brought in by Christ. As, therefore, the author (Hebrews 7:20-22) had deduced from the higher priestly rank of Christ the more excellent nature of the covenant brought in by Him; so here, conversely, from the better nature of the covenant established by Him, is inferred the higher order of His priestly ministry, νυνὶ δέ forms the opposition to εἰ μὲν οὖν, Hebrews 8:4, while διαφορωτέρας points back antithetically to the contents of Hebrews 8:5. Theophylact: Ἐκείνου τοῦ νοήματος ἤρτηται ταῦτα, τοῦ Εἰ μὲν γὰρ ἦν ἐπὶ γῆς, οὐκ ἂν ἦν ἱερεύς· νυνὶ δὲ μὴ ὤν, φησίν, ἐπὶ γῆς, ἀλλὰ τὸν οὐρανὸν ἔχων ἱερατεῖον, διαφορωτέρας ἐπέτυχε λειτουργίας· τουτέστιν, οὐκ ἔστιν αὐτοῦ ἡ λειτουργία τοιαύτη, οἵα ἡ τῶν ἐπὶ γῆς ἀρχιερέων ἀλλʼ οὐράνιος, ἅτε τόπον ἔχουσα τῆς οἰκείας τελετῆς τὸν οὐρανόν.

νυνὶ δέ] not in the temporal, but in the logical sense: but now.

διαφορωτέρας λειτουργίας] inasmuch, namely, as the σκηνή, in which He fulfils His office, is the ἀληθινή, ἣν ἔπηξεν ὁ κύριος, οὐκ ἄνθρωπος (Hebrews 8:2).

On the comparative διαφορωτέρας, see at Hebrews 2:4.

καὶ after ὅσῳ renders distinctly apparent the inner correspondence of the two principal members in the proposition, Hebrews 8:6.

μεσίτης] Mediator (Hebrews 9:15, Hebrews 12:24; Galatians 3:19-20; 1 Timothy 2:5; LXX. Job 9:33), inasmuch as He has proclaimed the New and better Covenant, and has sealed the same by His death on the cross.

ἥτις] which, us such. Introduction of the proof that the covenant of which Christ is made the Mediator is a better one (Hebrews 7:22), i.e. affords full satisfaction to the heart seeking salvation and deliverance, which the Mosaic covenant was incapable of pacifying. The proof for this superiority the author derives from the fact that the New Covenant has been enacted upon the ground of (ἐπί [cf. Hebrews 7:11; Acts 14:3]) better promises, i.e. promises more excellent with regard to their subject-matter. The expression νενομοθέτηται is chosen not in order to denote the similarity of nature in the two covenant-foundings, but, after the analogy of the Pauline mode of expression, Romans 3:27 (Romans 9:31), in order to oppose to the Mosaic law, hitherto in operation, the New Covenant as in some sense a new law (comp. νόμους μου, Hebrews 8:10) now come into force.

μρείττοσιν ἐπαγγελίαις] What is meant is without doubt the several factors in the contents of the passage from Jeremiah cited immediately after—to wit, the promise of the forgiveness of sins (comp. Hebrews 8:12), which the Old Covenant was not able to bring about (Romans 8:3; Galatians 3:10 ff.), in connection with the character of innerness of the New Covenant in general (Hebrews 8:10-11), as opposed to the externalism of the Old.

The explaining of the κρείττονες ἐπαγγελίαι, with Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Primasius, Clarius, Bengel, Carpzov, Whitby, M‘Lean, Bisping, and others, of everlasting blessedness and the other eternal blessings of Christianity, in opposition to the purely terrestrial and temporal promises of Mosaism (the peaceful possession of the land of Canaan, a long life upon earth, etc.), is to be rejected; because—apart from the contradiction in which this interpretation stands with the elucidation given by the author himself by virtue of the ensuing citation from Scripture—it is, as Bleek rightly observes, improbable that the author should have referred the promises deposited in the Mosaic law to merely earthly things, in place of referring them to the object of which he understands the promise already imparted to Abraham—the bringing in of the great salvation for the people of God in the person of Christ.

The view, too, that the ἐπαγγελίαι of the New Covenant are called κερίττονες because they are better guaranteed (Stengel and others), has the context against it.Hebrews 8:6. νυνὶ δὲ … “But, as it is, He hath obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much He is also mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted upon better promises.” νυνὶ δὲ, i.e., He not being on earth, the δὲ pointing back to μὲν in Hebrews 8:4. For νυνὶ δὲ in its logical significance, cf. Hebrews 9:26; Hebrews 11:16; 1 Corinthians 14:20; Arist. Ethics, I. iv. 4. διαφορωτέρας λειτουργίας, more excellent, as what is heavenly or real is more excellent than what is earthly and symbolic. ὅσῳ καὶ κρείττονός ἐστιν διαθήκης μεσίτης, the ministry being a part of the work of mediating the better covenant, it must participate in the superior excellence of that covenant. And the superiority of the covenant consists in this, that it has been legally based on better promises. Had Paul so connected the law and the promises, a quip might have been supposed; but this writer uses νενομ. in its ordinary sense without any allusion to its etymology. What these “better promises” are he shows in Hebrews 8:8-12. ἥτις introduces the explanation of the κρείττονος, almost equivalent to “inasmuch as it has been, etc.” The μεσίτης (cf. Hebrews 12:24) is more comprehensive than the ἔγγυος of Hebrews 7:22, although μεσίτης is Hellenistic for the Attic μεσέγγυος, and in Diod. Sic. iv. 54 μεσίτης has exactly the sense of ἔγγυος. The full title in 1 Timothy 2:5 μεσίτης θεοῦ καὶ ἀνθρώπων presents the mediator as one who negotiates for both parties, and is something more than a guarantor. Moses was μεσίτης of the first covenant (Galatians 3:19; Exodus 20:19); so that as already intimated in Hebrews 3:1, Christ absorbed in His ministry the work of both Moses and Aaron.6. But now] i.e. but, as it is.

a more excellent ministry, by how much also] Rather, “a ministry more excellent in proportion as He is also.” This proportional method of stating results runs throughout the Epistle (see Hebrews 1:4, Hebrews 3:3, Hebrews 7:22). It might be said with truth that the gist of his argument turns on the word “how much more.” He constantly adopts the argumentum a minori ad majus (Hebrews 7:19; Hebrews 7:22, Hebrews 9:11; Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 9:23, Hebrews 10:29). For his object was to shew the Hebrews that the privileges of Judaism to which they were looking back with such longing eyes were but transitory outlines and quivering shadows of the more blessed, and more eternal privileges which they enjoyed as Christians. Judaism was but a shadow of which Christianity was the substance; Judaism was but a copy of which Christianity was the permanent Idea, and heavenly Archetype; it was but a scaffolding within which the genuine Temple had been built; it was but a chrysalis from which the inward winged life had departed.

the mediator] Hebrews 9:15, Hebrews 12:24; 1 Timothy 2:5.

upon better promises] Better, because not physical but spiritual, and not temporal but heavenly and eternal. Bengel notices that the main words in the verse are all Pauline. Romans 9:4; 1 Timothy 2:5.Hebrews 8:6. Νυνὶ, now) This is opposed to the εἰ, if, Hebrews 8:4.—[43] τέτευχε) The same phrase is found, 3Ma 5:32, ΒΟΗΘΕΊΑς ΤΕΤΕΥΧΌΤΕς.—ὍΣῼ, by how much) The character of the duty [of Christ as our mediating Priest] follows the nature of the testament, viz. that the promises, which it contains, may come to their accomplishment.—διαθήκης μεσίτηςἘΠΑΓΓΕΛΊΑΙς ΝΕΝΟΜΟΘΈΤΗΤΑΙ) These are all Paul’s expressions, 1 Timothy 2:5; Romans 9:4.—ἐπαγγελίαις, on promises) which are enumerated, Hebrews 8:10-11. The old promises, considered in precise strictness, referred to the things of this life, and they were exactly fulfilled, so that the people, being satiated with them, might then the more eagerly embrace the heavenly promises.—νενομοθέτηται) By an elegant difference in the words it is said of the Old Testament, Ὁ ΛΑῸς ΝΕΝΟΜΟΘΈΤΗΤΟ, the people was established in the law, ch. Hebrews 7:11; but the New Testament itself νενομοθέτηται, has been established on the law. Man violates it: God keeps it.[44] The Greek word, ΝΕΝΟΜΟΘΈΤΗΤΑΙ, does not admit the particle, as if; and yet the meaning is durch ein Gesetz, or durch Gesetze, Hebrews 8:10, νόμος, a law, a thing established.

[43] Διαφορωτέρας, more excellent) heavenly.—V. g.

[44] This is the reason of the difference in the wording here and ch. Hebrews 7:11.—ED.Verse 6. - But now (νυνὶ in its usual logical, not temporal, sense; cf. Hebrews 11:16; also Hebrews 2:8; 9:26; 12:26) hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the Mediator of a better covenant, which (ἥτις, equivalent to quippequae, as usual) hath been established upon better promises. Here the idea of the new διαθήκη, introduced first in the way of anticipation at Hebrews 7:22, is brought to the front, to be carried out in what follows. There the proved superior greatness of the predicted priest was made the measure of the superior excellence of the covenant of which he has become Surety; here the superior excellence of the new covenant, which is now to be shown from prophecy, is made /he measure of that of Christ's priestly ministry, which has just been proved to be of necessity in the sphere of heavenly realities of which the Mosaic ritual was but a copy and shadow. The word here used is not ἔγγυος ("surety"), as in Hebrews 7:22, but μεσίτης ("mediator"); on which it is to be observed that the mediator of the old covenant was not Aaron, but Moses (see Galatians 3:19): it was he that intervened between God and the congregation in the establishment of the covenant; and thus, in this respect also, the priesthood of the new covenant transcends the old one, in that (as was shown also in the earlier part of the Epistle) the type of Moses, as well as of Aaron, is fulfilled in it. The word νενομοθέτηται ("established" in A.V.; "enacted" in the recent R.V.) expresses the promulgation of a law - appositely in the first place to the Law of Moses, which constituted the conditions of the old covenant; but also to the description of the new covenant, which follows from Jeremiah, according to which the law remains, but to be written on the heart. The gospel is elsewhere regarded under the idea of law, though not a law of bondage, but of liberty - a law, not of the letter, but of the Spirit (see Romans 3:27; Romans 8:2; Romans 9:31; James 1:25). The "better promises" are such as the passage from Jeremiah, quoted below, notably represents. Other passages might be referred to (such as Ezekiel 36:25, etc.; Ezekiel 37:24, etc.), of similar significance, though not with the same marked mention of a new covenant to supersede the old one. This memorable passage (Jeremiah 31:31-35) occurs in a distinct section of Jeremiah's prophecies (30, 31.), delivered after the commencement of the Captivity, and directed to be written in a book. The subject of the whole section is the restoration of Israel, its ultimate Messianic reference being patent to all who acknowledge any such at all in prophecy. In evidence of this there is not only the passage before us, pointing to an entirely new covenant with Israel, and the ideal tone of the whole prophecy, but also, in particular, the view of all the scattered tribes, not Judah only - the whole ideal Israel - being gathered together from all countries to Zion, and of David himself to rule over them as king. The national and local framework, which the picture has in common with other prophetic visions of the coming days, is of course no difficulty to those familiar with the style of the prophetic books. But now (νῦν δὲ)

Νῦνis logical: as the case now stands. The statement of Hebrews 8:4 is taken up. "If he were on earth he could not be a priest," etc., but now, since Christ is a priest, and must have a sanctuary and an offering, he has a more excellent ministry.

He hath obtained a more excellent ministry (διαφορωτέρας τέτυχεν λειτουργίας)

The ministry of the heavenly sanctuary.

He is the mediator of a better covenant (κρείττονός ἐστιν διαθήκης μεσίτης)

For μεσίτης mediator, see on Galatians 3:19. Both here and in the following chapter, the ideas of the sanctuary and the covenant are closely united. God's covenant was embodied in the sanctuary. The ark was "the ark of the covenant"; the tables of the law were "the tables of the covenant." The essence of a covenant is the establishment of a relationship. The sanctuary was the meeting-place of God and man. The ritual of sacrifice adjusted the sinner's relation to a holy God. All the furniture and all the ordinances of the tabernacle assumed the covenant between God and his people. Thus the two ideas belong together. The minister of the Levitical sanctuary was the mediator of the old covenant. A new covenant implies a new ministry, a better covenant implies a better ministry. Christ's priesthood implies a sanctuary. The new sanctuary implies a new covenant. This covenant is a better covenant because it

Was established upon better promises (ἐπὶ κρείττοσιν ἐπαγγελίαις νενομοθέτηται)

For established rend. enacted. Νομοθετεῖν to enact a law, only here and Hebrews 7:11. A few times in lxx: Νομοθεσία enacting, only Romans 9:4 νομοθέτης lawgiver, only James 4:12. The better covenant was enacted as truly as was the law. See Hebrews 8:10. The new covenant was a new law - the perfect law, the law of liberty, James 1:25.

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