Hebrews 9:23
It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
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(23) The patterns of things in the heavens.—Rather, the tokens (Hebrews 8:5) of the things in the heavens. In the first part of the verse a conclusion is drawn from the sacred history, which related the accomplishment of the divine will, and showed therefore what was “necessary.” But the real stress lies on the second part. The whole may be paraphrased thus: “Whilst then it is necessary that what are but tokens of the things in the heavens should be cleansed with these things, it is necessary that the heavenly things themselves should be cleansed with better sacrifices than these.” The meaning of “these things” might perhaps be found in Hebrews 9:19 (the various instruments of purification), or in Hebrews 9:13 (the two sin offerings there spoken of); but, from the prominence given to repetition in the following verses, the plural seems rather to mean with these sacrifices repeated from time to time. The common thought in the two parts of the verse appears to be (as in Hebrews 9:21) that everything relating to the covenant of God with sinful man must be brought under the symbol of expiation, without which he can have no part in that covenant. The “heavenly things” are not defiled by sin; but the true heavenly sanctuary cannot be entered by man, the new fellowship between God and man “in heavenly places” cannot be inaugurated, till the heavenly things themselves have been brought into association with the One atoning sacrifice for man.

Better sacrifices.—Here again the use of the plural is remarkable. It seems to arise from the studious generality in the terms of this verse. To “these things” the natural antithesis is “better sacrifices.” That in the ministry of the true High Priest there was a presentation of but one sacrifice is not assumed here, because it is to be strongly brought out below (Hebrews 9:25-26).

Hebrews 9:23. It was, therefore, &c. — That is, it plainly appears from what has been said, it was necessary — According to the appointment of God; that the patterns of things in the heavens — Termed the figures of the true, (Hebrews 9:24,) namely, the covenant, the book, the tabernacle, with all the vessels of its ministry, which were shadowy representations of heavenly things — That is, of the things of the gospel, whether belonging to the church militant or the church triumphant; should be purified with these — Should be procured for, or opened and sanctified to the enjoyment of the priests and people, by these oblations and sprinklings with blood, and those other things which were appointed by the law to be all used for their purification. He says purified, or cleansed, not because the tabernacle and its utensils, the book of the law, &c., were unclean in themselves, but because through the uncleanness of the people they would have been considered as polluted if not thus purified. But the heavenly things themselves — That is, the things whereof the others were patterns, — the redemption, worship, salvation, and eternal glory of the church; by better sacrifices than these — Namely, by the one sacrifice of Christ, expressed in the plural number, because it included the signification of all other sacrifices, exceeded them indignity, and was of more use and efficacy than they all. For by this alone could spiritual and eternal blessings, the privileges of God’s church on earth and in heaven, be laid open to the enjoyment of guilty and polluted sinners. In other words, and especially as the Jewish tabernacle, including the holy and the most holy place, could not be entered by the priests, and opened to the prayers and other acts of religious worship of them and of the people, nor the utensils and ceremonies of the tabernacle service be sanctified to them, without the sacrifices and atonements appointed in the law; so the heavenly holy places represented by them, could not be opened for the reception of the prayers and praises of God’s people while they are here, nor of their persons hereafter, except through the sacrifice and intercession of Christ. Or, as Mr. Scott paraphrases the passage, “It was then necessary by the appointment of the law for the exemplars or types of heavenly things to be purified by the sacrifice of innocent animals, and by the application of their blood, or they could not be acceptably used in the worship of God; but it was necessary, for more durable and immutable reasons, that the heavenly things themselves should be purified by an atonement of superior excellence, even by the one sacrifice of the death of Christ. In order to his efficaciously interceding for sinners in heaven, and opening for them the way to the mercy-seat, it was necessary that Christ should on earth, in our nature, shed his blood, and die a sacrifice on the cross; that he might have the infinite merit of that sacrifice to plead before the throne, in behalf of all who should come unto God by him; otherwise mercy, shown to sinners, would dishonour the justice and holiness of God, and their admission into heaven would, as it were, defile that holy place.”

9:23-28 It is evident that the sacrifices of Christ are infinitely better than those of the law, which could neither procure pardon for sin, nor impart power against it. Sin would still have been upon us, and have had dominion over us; but Jesus Christ, by one sacrifice, has destroyed the works of the devil, that believers may be made righteous, holy, and happy. As no wisdom, learning, virtue, wealth, or power, can keep one of the human race from death, so nothing can deliver a sinner from being condemned at the day of judgment, except the atoning sacrifice of Christ; nor will one be saved from eternal punishment who despises or neglects this great salvation. The believer knows that his Redeemer liveth, and that he shall see him. Here is the faith and patience of the church, of all sincere believers. Hence is their continual prayer as the fruit and expression of their faith, Even so come, Lord Jesus.The patterns of things in the heavens - The tabernacle and its various utensils; see the notes on Hebrews 8:5.

Be purified with these - With water and blood, and by these ceremonies.

But the heavenly things themselves - The heavenly tabernacle or sanctuary into which Christ has entered, and where he performs the functions of his ministry. The use of the word "purified" here applied to heaven, does not imply that heaven was before "unholy," but it denotes that it is now made accessible to sinners; or that they may come and worship there in an acceptable manner. The ancient tabernacle was purified or consecrated by the blood of the victims slain, so that people might approach with acceptance and worship; the heavens by purer blood are rendered accessible to the guilty. The necessity for "better sacrifices" in regard to the latter was, that it was designed to make the conscience pure, and because the service in heaven is more holy than any rendered on earth.

With better sacrifices than these - To wit, the sacrifice made by the offering of the Lord Jesus on the cross. This infinitely surpassed in value all that had been offered under the Jewish dispensation.

23. patterns—"the suggestive representations"; the typical copies (see on [2566]Heb 8:5).

things in the heavens—the heavenly tabernacle and the things therein.

purified with these—with the blood of bulls and goats.

heavenly things themselves—the archetypes. Man's sin had introduced an element of disorder into the relations of God and His holy angels in respect to man. The purification removes this element of disorder and changes God's wrath against man in heaven (designed to be the place of God's revealing His grace to men and angels) into a smile of reconciliation. Compare "peace in heaven" (Lu 19:38). "The uncreated heaven of God, though in itself untroubled light, yet needed a purification in so far as the light of love was obscured by the fire of wrath against sinful man" [Delitzsch in Alford]. Contrast Re 12:7-10. Christ's atonement had the effect also of casting Satan out of heaven (Lu 10:18; Joh 12:31, compare Heb 2:14). Christ's body, the true tabernacle (see on [2567]Heb 8:2; [2568]Heb 9:11), as bearing our imputed sin (2Co 5:21), was consecrated (Joh 17:17, 19) and purified by the shedding of His blood to be the meeting place of God and man.

sacrifices—The plural is used in expressing the general proposition, though strictly referring to the one sacrifice of Christ once for all. Paul implies that His one sacrifice, by its matchless excellency, is equivalent to the Levitical many sacrifices. It, though but one, is manifold in its effects and applicability to many.

It was therefore necessary: this conclusion the Spirit draweth from the antecedent, Hebrews 9:18, proved in the following verses, therefore is it here rehearsed. The illative particle therefore, is but to sum up the use of blood about the first tabernacle, and that Testament dispensation. It is positively necessary by the will of God, expressively enjoining them, to point out better, and that there might be an agreement of the type with the truth.

That the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these: the tabernacles in all their parts, the book of the covenant, vessels, services, &c., being types, signs, examples, shadows of things in heaven, must be ceremonially purged and separated from common use to Divine, by those external, ritual sprinklings and lustrations, especially with beasts’ blood, mystically representing better blood and purifications of persons and things than these.

But the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these; but things more excellent and glorious than earthly ones, the gospel tabernacle in its parts, testament, and services, about which Christ ministereth, which are heavenly for their descent, agreeableness with, and tendency to it; they are spiritual and incorruptible, Hebrews 9:11,12 Heb 9:8:2 12:22 Galatians 4:26 Revelation 21:1-27; are to be dedicated, set apart, put in force, and sanctified to God by the one sacrifice of Christ, of more value, worth, and virtue than all the legal sacrifices together. It is expressed plurally, to answer the opposite term, and to set out its excellency, being far above all others; the blood of it being that of God by personal union, and which is only efficacious for eternal good, and available with him; so ought it to be esteemed as it was in truth, and not quarrelled with by these Hebrews.

It was therefore necessary,.... On account of the divine appointment, and that types and antitypes might correspond; and especially it was necessary with respect to the Messiah, the substance and body of all types. So Jonathan ben Uzziel paraphrases the text in Exodus 40:9,

"and thou shalt take the anointing oil, and thou shalt anoint the tabernacle, and all that is in it; and thou shall sanctify it, because of the crown of the kingdom of the house of Judah, and the King Messiah, who shall redeem Israel in the latter days.''

Upon his account it was necessary,

that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; that is, that all the people, and the book of the covenant, and the tabernacle, and its vessels, which were types and patterns of persons and things in Gospel churches, should be purified with blood and water, and with scarlet wool and hyssop.

But the heavenly things themselves, with better sacrifices than these; the sum and substance of the above patterns, shadows, and examples, such as heaven itself; which though not impure in itself, yet some think it, may be said to be purified, because saints are made meet for it, by being purged with the blood of Christ; others observe, that sin reaches to heaven, and provokes God that dwells there; hence atonement for it may be called a purification of heaven: but rather this may be said of it, inasmuch as by the blood of Christ an entrance and preparation is made for the saints into it. Likewise, the human nature of Christ is among these heavenly things; not that it is heavenly, as to the matter and substance of it, but may be so called, because of its wonderful formation; and which has been purified, not from any real internal pollution that was in it, but from what was imputed to it, the sin of his people. Also the whole church, triumphant and militant, may be intended by heavenly things: the Old Testament saints went to heaven before Christ came; and though they were not impure, but were the spirits of just men made perfect, yet their iniquities were purged by the blood and sacrifice of Christ, after they were gone to heaven; see Hebrews 9:15. The church militant, or believers on earth, may be said to be heavenly, since they are partakers of an heavenly birth and calling; their head is in heaven, and their conversation is there; and they have a right unto it, and are making meet for it; and they are in themselves defiled with sin, and are purified by the blood of Christ, and sanctified by the offering up of his body once for all: to which may be added, that spiritual blessings are heavenly things; they are from heaven, and saints are blessed with them in heavenly places and these come to them through the blood and sacrifice of Christ; yea, the Gospel, which is from heaven, and the doctrines of it, are sealed and confirmed by the blood of Christ: his sacrifice is expressed in the plural number; not that there has been a repetition of it, for it is but one sacrifice, and but once offered up, and will never be reiterated; but to show the excellency of it, being usual with the Jews to use the plural number of things the most excellent; so Christ is called "Wisdoms", Proverbs 1:20 besides, respect may be had to the many sacrifices under the law, which were types of it, and were answered and fulfilled by it; and to the many persons on whose account it was offered; and to the parts of it, the soul and body of Christ: and this is a better sacrifice than the legal ones, in its own nature and in its use and efficacy to take away sin, and make perfect, which they could not.

It was therefore necessary that the {o} patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

(o) The counterparts of heavenly things were earthly, and therefore they were to be set forth with earthly things, as with the blood of beasts, wool and hyssop. But under Christ all things are heavenly, and therefore they could not be sanctified with the offering of his living blood.

Hebrews 9:23. The first of the two statements dependent on ἀνάγκη οὖν (τὰ μὲνκαθαρίζεσθαι) is deduced as a necessary consequence from Hebrews 9:18-22, while then the second statement (αὐτὰ δὲ κ.τ.λ.) is derived as a necessary postulate from the first, and in such manner a return is effected to the necessity for the death of Christ, already shown at Hebrews 9:16-17, in order to set forth the same on a fresh side. The necessity of the first-mentioned fact of Hebrews 9:23 is evident from the norm instanced, which is of validity in the domain of the Mosaic law; the necessity of that last mentioned, from the difference between the Christian and the Judaic. The main thought, however, lies in the second half of the clause, to which the first forms logically only the bridge.

οὖν] sc. because blood is so necessary a means for expiation and consecration.

ἀνάγκη οὖν] it is then needful. To ἀνάγκη οὖν we have to supplement ἐστίν, not, with Faber Stapulensis, Ebrard, Bloomfield, Delitzsch, Alford, Moll, Kurtz, and others, ἦν. For although the author has only one special fact in mind in connection with both members of the sentence, yet, as is shown by the plural θυσίαις, he expresses himself universally; because he is reasoning from the inner necessity, as this is presupposed by the state of the matter itself.

τὰ μὲν ὑποδείγματα τῶν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς τούτοις καθαρίζεσθαι, αὐτὰ δὲ κ.τ.λ.] that the copy, indeed, of that which is in heaven should be purified with these, but the heavenly place itself with better sacrifices than these, i.e. for the characteristically Judaic the means of expiation and consecration are necessarily determined in accordance with the norm specified in the Mosaic law; but since Judaic and Christian are distinguished from each other as the mere copy of the heavenly place and the heavenly place itself, so of necessity must the means of expiation and consecration in the Christian domain be a more excellent one than in the Judaic.

By τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς and τὰ ἐπουράνια we have to understand neither the heavenly possessions (Seb. Schmidt, Wolf, Rambach, and others), nor yet the Christian Church and its members (Zeger, Estius, Corn. a Lapide, Calov, Böhme, Stengel, al.; comp. also Tholuck). Still less can these expressions denote: “that which, where God is essentially present, brings with it His relation to the Church, i.e. first, His dwelling with it,—namely, in that the glorified human nature of Christ is the dwelling for the whole fulness of the divine nature; secondly, the human nature, in its consecration to God, in which Christ presents and offers it up to the Father; and thirdly, the place where God’s wrath against human sin meets with expiatory satisfaction, by which it is averted,—thus Christ, who, as the propitiation for our sins, stands between the Church and its God “(Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 1, 2 Aufl. p. 436 ff. [comp. also Owen]). Rather is the heavenly sanctuary specially meant thereby, as is evident from Hebrews 9:24. For in Hebrews 9:24 the meaning of ἅγια is supposed to be already known from Hebrews 9:23; inasmuch, namely, as ἅγια is there almost accentless, while all the emphasis is laid upon the adjectives χειροποίητα, etc. In accordance with this, too, is determined the meaning of τὰ ὑποδείγματα τῶν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς as the earthly sanctuary, inasmuch as it was the imperfect imitation or copy of the former, as accordingly already, at Hebrews 8:5, the Levitical sanctuary had been characterized as ὑπόδειγμα καὶ σκιὰ τῶν ἐπουρανίων. The plural τὰ ὑποδείγματα is placed, just because the author has already before his mind, in Hebrews 9:23, the plural τὰ ἅγια, Hebrews 9:24. Thus, then, the first clause of Hebrews 9:23 has respect to the special fact already brought forward at Hebrews 9:21, whereas the second clause receives its elucidation by means of the special fact of which mention is made at Hebrews 9:24.

τούτοις] by such things as these, i.e. by blood of slain animals, and similar means of purifying, which belong to the earthly sanctuary; to which general rubric, also, the ashes of the red heifer mentioned at Hebrews 9:13, but not here coming under consideration, belong. With marvellous inversion of the sense, Paulus: “to be declared pure for these, i.e. the Israelites.”

καθαρίζεσθαι] is passive. Arbitrarily is it taken as a middle by Heinrichs, who will have ἡμᾶς supplemented as object. Against this the tenor of the foregoing verse is in itself decisive. The notion of being purified is not, it is true, applicable to the second clause, αὐτὰ δὲ τὰ ἐπουράνια κ.τ.λ. For the heavenly sanctuary is removed from contact with the sinful world; it has no need, therefore, of an expiation or purification.[94] We are warranted, however, in supplying in thought, without any hesitation, from ΚΑΘΑΡΊΖΕΣΘΑΙ, a kindred verb to the second member of the sentence, by the assuming of a zeugma. But since now, in accordance with that which precedes, the ΚΑΘΑΊΖΕΣΘΑΙ is an idea which entirely subordinates itself to the idea of the ἘΓΚΑΙΝΊΖΕΙΝ, Hebrews 9:18, the former having only the design of the latter, we shall best extract from the notion of being purified, in the first clause, the notion of being consecrated to the service of God, for the second clause, understanding this consecration of the heavenly sanctuary of the opening up of the access to the same, effected through the blood of Christ (comp. Hebrews 10:19-20).

κρείττοσιν θυσίαις] The plural is chosen, although the author is thinking exclusively of the death of Christ, on account of the universal form of discourse, Hebrews 9:23, as a plural of the category (de Wette). False the interpretation of Grotius and Stengel: in addition to the sacrificial death of Christ, the sufferings of believers, together with their prayers and works of love (Hebrews 13:15-16), are thought of; and in like manner Paulus: the sacrifices of Jesus and all Christians for the good which pertains to duty; but false, also, the explanation of Beza: the fact is hinted at that the one sacrifice of Christ is instead of many.

On παρά with the comparative, see at Hebrews 1:4.

[94] Otherwise, indeed, do Delitzsch, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 542 ff.), Alford, Moll, and Kurtz decide. According to Delitzsch, the meaning of the author is: “The supra-terrestrial Holy of Holies, i.e. the uncreated eternal heaven of God, although unsullied light in itself, had need of a καθαρίζεθαι, in so far as the light of love towards mankind had there been, so to speak, out-glowed and eclipsed by the fire of wrath at that which was sinful; and the heavenly tabernacle, i.e. the place of His glorious self-manifestation in love, a self-manifestation for men and angels, had need of a καθαρίζεσθαι, in so far as men had rendered this spot, from the beginning designed for them, too, inaccessible on account of sin, and thus had first to be transformed into the accessible place of manifestation of a God graciously disposed towards men. As well with regard to τὰ ἅγια as with regard to τὴν σκηνήν, thus to τὰ ἐπουράνια. altogether, there was need of a taking away of the action of human sin upon it, and a taking away of the divine reaction against sin, the wrath, or, what is the same thing, a changing of the same into love.” [Similarly also Whitby, M‘Lean, and Stuart.]—Not less far-fetched and forced upon the context is that which Bleek, following the precedent of Akersloot, regards as probable. According to this view, to which Woerner assents, an objective καθαρίζεσθαι of the heavenly sanctuary, after the analogy of the passages Luke 10:18, John 12:31, Acts 12:7-9, was thought of, “in accordance with which Satan with his angels is, after the death and exaltation of the Saviour, cast forth out of heaven, and thus deprived of all influence which he might exert there as accuser of men in the presence of God, or for the destruction of the blessedness of the inhabitants of heaven.”

Hebrews 9:23-28. If the earthly sanctuary needed to be cleansed and consecrated by such things as these, there was required of necessity for the dedication of the heavenly sanctuary a more excellent sacrifice. This Christ has presented in the end of the world by means of His sin-cancelling sacrificial death; and at His return, which is now to be expected for the salvation of those that hope in Him, no repetition of His sacrifice will be required.

Hebrews 9:23-28. The necessity of cleansing the heavenly sanctuary and the efficiency and finality of Christ’s one sacrifice.

23. patterns] Rather, “copies,” or outlines—Abbilden (not Urbilden), Hebrews 4:11, Hebrews 8:5.

the heavenly things themselves] Not “the New Covenant,” or “the Church,” or “ourselves as heirs of heaven,” but apparently the Ideal Tabernacle in the Heavens, which was itself impure before Him to whom “the very heavens are not clean.” If this conception seem remote we must suppose that by the figure called Zeugma the verb “purified” passes into the sense of “handselled,” “dedicated.”

with better sacrifices than these] The plural is here only used generically to express a class. He is alluding to the one transcendent sacrifice.

Hebrews 9:23. Οὖν, therefore) The particle intimates that the execution of those things which were mentioned at Hebrews 9:18 is comprehended in this Passage.—κρείττοσι θυσίαις, with better victims or sacrifices) The plural, corresponding to the Levitical plural, is used for the singular, on account of the excellence of the one sacrifice of Christ, which was perfect in all its parts. If a Jew asks, What are your sacrifices? We answer: Our sacrifices consist in the one matchless sacrifice of Him who was crucified. In this Apodosis, the word καθαρίζεσθαι, to be purified, which is to be supplied, makes a Hypallage;[52] for the heavenly things are pure in themselves, but we needed to be purified in order that we might enjoy them, Hebrews 9:14. So ἁγιάζεται, is sanctified, 1 Timothy 4:5; 1 Timothy 4:4, i.e. the use is rendered holy in respect of us. Comp. Leviticus 16:16; Leviticus 16:19; Numbers 18:1.

[52] See Append. A change, whereby a thing is attributed to one subject which ought to be attributed to another. Here purification is attributed to the heavenly things, which really applies to ourselves.—ED.

Verse 23. - It was therefore necessary (i.e. in accordance with the principle above expressed) that the patterns (rather, copies, see Hebrews 8:5, supra) of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. According to the view taken under Hebrews 8:2 and Hebrews 9:11, "the heavenly things" here must be taken to denote the corresponding realities in the heavenly sphere of things to which Christ has gone. But how can they themselves be said to require purification or cleansing? The mundane tabernacle did, being itself conceived as polluted by human sin; but how so of the unpolluted heavenly tabernacle? The answer may be that the expressions, chosen to suit the case of the earthly type, need not be pressed in all their details as applying to the heavenly sanctuary. With regard to the latter, they may he meant only to express that, though it be itself pure, yet man requires purification for access to it, and that for this purpose "better sacrifices" are required. "In hac apodosi verbum καθαρίζεσθαι, mundari, subauditum, facit hypallagem: nam exleslia per se sunt pura, sed nos purificandi fuimus, ut ilia possemus capessere" (Bengel). The general meaning is obvious enough. Commentators sometimes raise needless difficulties, and may sometimes even miss the essential purport of a passage by the too constant application of the critical microscope. If, however, it be thought necessary to find a sense in which the heavenly sanctuary may be said to need purification, the idea may be the appeasing of Divine wrath which bars the entrance of mankind. Hebrews 9:23The heavenly sanctuary required a better purification than the Levitical.

The patterns of things in the heavens

The earthly tabernacle and its furniture. See on Hebrews 8:5.

With these (τούτοις)

Things specified in Hebrews 9:19.

With better sacrifices (κρείττοσι θυσίαις)

How can it be said that the heavenly things needed cleansing? It is not easy to answer. Various explanations have been proposed, which the student will find collected in Alford's note on this passage. The expression is rhetorical and figurative, and appears to be founded on that feature of the Levitical ritual according to which the high priest was required, on the Great Day of Atonement, to make an atonement for the sanctuary, "because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel." He was to do this also for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the great altar. See Leviticus 16:16 ff. The rite implied that even the holy of holies had contracted defilement from the people's sin. Similarly, the atoning blood of Christ is conceived as purifying the things of the heavenly sanctuary which had been defiled by the sins of men. "If the heavenly city of God, with its Holy Place, is, conformably with the promise, destined for the covenant-people, that they may there attain to perfect fellowship with God, then their guilt has defiled these holy things as well as the earthly, and they must be purified in the same way as the typical law appointed for the latter, only not by the blood of an imperfect, but of a perfect sacrifice" (Delitzsch).

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