Hebrews 9:8
The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:
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(8) That the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest.—Rather, that the way into the sanctuary has not yet been made manifest. By “sanctuary,” or “holy place,” is here meant the Holy of Holies; not, however, as existing upon earth, in type and figure, but in the sense of Hebrews 8:2; Hebrews 9:24. These external arrangements show that the way into the Holy Place (of the Tabernacle) is not open: by this the Holy Spirit, whose word we are reading whenever we trace the injunctions of the Law, teaches this lesson, that the way into God’s immediate presence is not yet manifest.

While as the first tabernacle was yet standing.—Rather, while the first tabernacle yet has place (or, standing), i.e., whilst there exists such a distinction as that between “the first Tabernacle” (Hebrews 9:6), and “the second.” It is impossible to understand “the first Tabernacle” in any other sense than that which it bears in the early part of the sentence—the Holy Place as distinguished from the Holiest of all. This outer Tabernacle, however, may be looked at from different points of view. On the one hand, it was the place from which (as well as from the inner sanctuary) the people generally were excluded; and on the other, it was the place beyond which the ministration of the priests in general might not extend. It is the latter that corresponds to the thought of this verse. The contrast between the body of priests and the people hardly meets us once in the whole Epistle, except in a very small number of general statements (Hebrews 7:14; Hebrews 8:4; Hebrews 9:6); the only contrast is between the one Priest or High Priest and all who approach unto God through Him. Not the Jewish economy, but that to which it pointed, is the subject of the writer’s thoughts: Christ’s people are now the priests, who offer through Him their constant sacrifice. (See Hebrews 12:28; Hebrews 13:10; Hebrews 13:13; Hebrews 13:15.) Those who ministered in “the first Tabernacle” (who are looked upon merely as substitutes for the people, performing the “services” in their place, and as their representatives) were excluded, not from entrance only, but even from sight of the place of God’s presence. What was thereby “signified” we have already seen.

Hebrews 9:8-10. The Holy Ghost — By whom the Mosaic ritual was prescribed; signifying — By this difficulty of entrance, and the necessity of the incense-cloud and the atoning blood; that the way into the holiest of all — Namely, into heaven, the place of God’s immediate presence, represented by the inward tabernacle; was not yet made manifest — Not so clearly and fully revealed; while the first tabernacle, and its service, was yet standing — Retained its station and use: or, in other words, while the Jewish economy lasted. This lasted, according to the mind of God, until the death of Christ, and no longer: until which time both Christ himself, and all his disciples, continued to observe all its services, for he was made under the law of it. So long it continued by divine appointment. Its abolition, however, was, properly speaking, not declared until the day of pentecost, when, by the extraordinary effusion of the Holy Ghost, the foundation of the gospel church, with its state, order, and worship, was solemnly laid; and a new way of worship being established, the abrogation of the old was shown. But through the patience of God, the Jewish worship, though no longer acceptable to him, continued until the destruction of the temple, city, and people, some years after. Which tabernacle, with all its furniture and services, was a figure Παραβολη, a parable, that is, a parabolical or emblematical instruction; for the time then present — During the continuance of that service and way of worship. Or, as the original may be interpreted, Which figure (or parabolical instruction) continues till this present time, namely, in the like service performed in the temple; according to which, namely, time, or during which, gifts and sacrifices, προσφερονται, are offered, μη δυναμεναι, which cannot make him who does the service, τον λατρευοντα, the worshipper, whether the priest, or him who brings the offering, perfect — As to his conscience, so that he should be no longer conscious of being under the guilt or power of sin, or should have a full assurance that his sins are forgiven. Doddridge understands the verse in a rather different sense, thus: “Which, far from being the grand and ultimate scheme, is only a kind of allegorical figure and parable, referring to the glorious displays of the present time: in which, nevertheless, there is hitherto a continuance of the temple-service; so that gifts and sacrifices are still offered, which yet in the nature of things, are not able to make the person who performs the service perfect, with respect to the conscience; as they refer not to the real expiation of guilt, but only to averting some temporal evils which the law denounces on transgressors.” This, he adds, I take to be of the greatest importance for understanding the Mosaic sacrifices, namely, “that they were never intended to expiate offences to such a degree as to deliver the sinner from the final judgment of God in another world; but merely to make his peace with the government under which he then was, and furnish him with a pardon pleadable against any prosecution which might be commenced against him in their courts of justice, or any exclusion from the privilege of drawing near to God, as one eternally at peace with him, in the solemnities of his temple worship.” Which service stood, or consisted, only, or chiefly, in meats and drinks — Or in divers ceremonious observances concerning these things; in the distinction between different kinds of meats, clean or unclean, and drinks, some of which were allowed, and others denied, to priests in some circumstances, and to Nazarites in others; and divers washings — Either of the whole body, or of a part of it, in water, as different occasions demanded; and carnal ordinances — Various injunctions relating to the purification of the flesh, imposed on them as necessary to be observed; until the time of reformation — Namely, of the worship of God by Christ, who was to abolish the Levitical services, and to introduce a worship in spirit and in truth, which might be performed in every place.

9:6-10 The apostle goes on to speak of the Old Testament services. Christ, having undertaken to be our High Priest, could not enter into heaven till he had shed his blood for us; and none of us can enter, either into God's gracious presence here, or his glorious presence hereafter, but by the blood of Jesus. Sins are errors, great errors, both in judgment and practice; and who can understand all his errors? They leave guilt upon the conscience, not to be washed away but by the blood of Christ. We must plead this blood on earth, while he is pleading it for us in heaven. A few believers, under the Divine teaching, saw something of the way of access to God, of communion with him, and of admission into heaven through the promised Redeemer, but the Israelites in general looked no further than the outward forms. These could not take away the defilement or dominion of sin. They could neither discharge the debts, nor resolve the doubts, of him who did the service. Gospel times are, and should be, times of reformation, of clearer light as to all things needful to be known, and of greater love, causing us to bear ill-will to none, but good-will to all. We have greater freedom, both of spirit and speech, in the gospel, and greater obligations to a more holy living.The Holy Ghost - Who appointed all this. The whole arrangement in the service of the tabernacle is represented as having been under the direction of the Holy Spirit, or this was one of his methods of teaching the great truths of religion, and of keeping them before the minds of people. Sometimes that Spirit taught by direct revelation; sometimes by the written word, and sometimes by symbols. The tabernacle, with its different apartments, utensils, and services, was a permanent means of keeping important truths before the minds of the ancient people of God.

This signifying - That is, showing this truth, or making use of this arrangement to impress this truth on the minds of people that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest.

That the way into the holiest of all - Into heaven - of which the Most Holy place in the tabernacle was undoubtedly designed to be an emblem. It was the place where the visible symbol of God - the Shekinah - dwelt; where the blood of propitiation was sprinkled, and was, therefore, an appropriate emblem of that holy heaven where God dwells, and whence pardon is obtained by the blood of the atonement.

Was not yet made manifest - The way to heaven was not opened or fully understood. It was not known how people could appear before God, or how they could come with the hope of pardon. That way has now been opened by the ascension of the Redeemer to heaven, and by the assurance that all who will may come in his name.

While as the first tabernacle was yet standing - As long as it stood, and the appointed services were held in it. The idea is, that until it was superseded by a more perfect system, it was a "proof" that the way to heaven was not yet fully and freely optioned, and that the Holy Spirit "designed" that it should be such a proof. The apostle does not specify in what the proof consisted, but it may have been in something like the following.

(1) it was a mere "symbol," and not the "reality" - showing that the true way was not yet fully understood.

(2) it was entered but once a year - showing that there was not access at all times.

(3) it was entered only by the High Priest - showing that there was not free end full access to all the people.

(4) it was accessible only by Jews - showing that the way in which all men might be saved was not then fully revealed.

The sense is, that it was a system of types and shadows, in which there were many burdensome rites and many things to prevent people from coming before the symbol of the divinity, and was, therefore, an "imperfect system." All these obstructions are now removed; the Saviour - the great High Priest of his people - has entered heaven and "opened it to all true believers," and all of every nation may now have free access to God; see Hebrews 9:12; compare Hebrews 10:19-22.

8. The Holy Ghost—Moses himself did not comprehend the typical meaning (1Pe 1:11, 12).

signifying—by the typical exclusion of all from the holiest, save the high priest once a year.

the holiest of all—heaven, the antitype.

the first tabernacle—the anterior tabernacle, representative of the whole Levitical system. While it (the first tabernacle, and that which represents the Levitical system) as yet "has a standing" (so the Greek, that is, "has continuance": "lasts"), the way to heaven (the antitypical "holiest place") is not yet made manifest (compare Heb 10:19, 20). The Old Testament economy is represented by the holy place, the New Testament economy by the Holy of Holies. Redemption, by Christ, has opened the Holy of Holies (access to heaven by faith now, Heb 4:16; 7:19, 25; 10:19, 22; by sight hereafter, Isa 33:24; Re 11:19; 21:2, 3) to all mankind. The Greek for "not yet" (me po) refers to the mind of the Spirit: the Spirit intimating that men should not think the way was yet opened [Tittmann]. The Greek negative, "ou po," would deny the fact objectively; "me po" denies the thing subjectively.

The Holy Ghost this signifying; God the Spirit himself, the third relation in the Deity, the author of all the Mosaical institutions, who commanded all these ritual, ceremonial services in this tabernacle to be performed, who revealed all this to Moses, and who inspired him with it, Leviticus 16:1,2, the most infallible interpreter of his own institutions, declared by these signals and types, and demonstrated by the frame of ordinances, then given to the church, in these expressions, Exodus 30:10 Leviticus 16:2,12-15,17: the veil ever covering the holy of holiest, but only on the day of expiation, when it was drawn aside, and that laid open.

That the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest; the true and very means to God’s presence in heaven itself, which is only by Christ the great High Priest, through whose blood we can come to the throne of his grace there boldly, Hebrews 10:19-22, and by the perfect work of his Spirit on us, can enter with him into the holy of holiest in heaven; this was not so plainly, clearly, fully, universally known as afterwards by the shedding of Christ’s blood, and the revelation of it in the gospel to all the world. Christ was revealed to the Hebrews, and all these ceremonial ordinances did hold him out, and by him only the saints under that covenant administration got to heaven; yet the manifestation of it was obscure in comparison of what it is since.

While as the first tabernacle was yet standing; while the Mosaical covenant administration was to continue, till the coming of Christ in the flesh, and perfecting the work by his death, for the space of near one thousand five hundred years, was the true, right, and proper way for entering into heaven, darkly, and obscurely, and typically revealed unto the church; when by the death of Christ the veil of the holy of holiest was rent asunder, heaven laid open to be seen, and entered into by all penitent believing sinners through Christ, every day in their duties, and then in their persons, Matthew 27:51.

The Holy Ghost this signifying,.... This shows that the Holy Ghost existed under the Old Testament; that he is a distinct person in the Godhead, a personal act being here ascribed to him; that he is truly and properly God, the God whose service the priests accomplished in the tabernacle; and by whom Moses was admonished to make all things in it according to the pattern, and by whom the high priest was warned not to come at all times within the vail; moreover, that the Levitical ordinances were of God, and that they had a spiritual signification; that the Old Testament saints were not without some knowledge of the spiritual meaning of them; and that the Holy Ghost was the author of that knowledge; particularly by enjoining the high priest to enter within the vail but once a year, he gave a plain and strong intimation,

that the way into the holiest of all was not yet manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing; by which is meant, not only the first part of the tabernacle, as in Hebrews 9:2 but the whole of it; and not only that, but the temple built in its room, and also the whole Levitical service is included; and the sense is, that while the tabernacle and tabernacle worship, the temple and temple service, were in being, "the way into the holiest of all was not yet manifest": the Vulgate Latin and all the Oriental versions render it, "the way of the saints"; of the priests who ministered in holy things, and were holy to the Lord, and of all the saints that lived before Christ; not that they did not go to heaven, but their way to it was not so manifestly known; life and immortality were not so clearly brought to light, as now by the Gospel; though rather it designs holy places, even heaven itself, which was typified by the holy place within the vail; and may be called the holiest of all, it being the residence of the holy God, holy angels, and holy men, and is sanctified by the presence of Christ, for his people, and where perfect holiness will be the glory of it: the way to it is not by works of righteousness done by men, which being imperfect cannot justify, and so not save, though this is the way men naturally seek and take; but Christ is the only way, and he is the plain, pleasant, and safe one: now let it be observed, that heaven was not shut to the Old Testament saints; there was a way into it for them, and they went the same way New Testament saints do; and that way was in some measure known, but it was not fully manifested; it lay hid in obscure prophecies, types, shadows, and sacrifices; hence being more clearly revealed under the Gospel dispensation, in comparison, of its former obscurity, and with respect to the manifestation of it, it is called a "new way".

{3} The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

(3) Of that yearly rite and the ceremony, he gathers that the way into heaven was not opened by such sacrifices, which was shadowed by the Holiest of all. For why did only the high priest enter in, excluding all others, to offer sacrifices there both for himself and for others, and after, shut the Holiest of all again?

Hebrews 9:8. Now follows (apparently as a subordinate thought) the main consideration, with a view to which the author has been led more fully to describe the ἅγιον κοσμικόν and the δικαιώματα λατρείας of Hebrews 9:1.

τοῦτο δηλοῦντος τοῦ πνεύματος ἁγίου] the Holy Ghost indicating this very thing (following).

τοῦτο] has the emphasis, and acquires its development of contents by means of μήπω πεφανερῶσθαιστάσιν.

τοῦ πνεύματος ἁγίου] The arrangement of the sanctuary and priesthood prescribed by God to Moses is thought of by our author as carried into effect by Moses under the assistance and guidance of the Holy Ghost; the idea expressed in that arrangement might therefore very easily be represented as an indication designed by the Holy Ghost.

μήπω πεφανερῶσθαι τὴν τῶν ἁγίων ὁδόν, ἔτι τῆς πρώτης σκηνῆς ἐχούσης στάσιν] that the way of the sanctuary is not yet manifested, so long as the fore-tabernacle still exists.

τῶν ἁγίων] is erroneously apprehended by the Peshito and Schulz (comp. also Zeger) as masculine. It is neuter. Does not, however, as Hebrews 9:2, denote the Holy Place, but, as Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 9:24-25; Hebrews 10:19; Hebrews 13:11 (comp. also τὸ ἅγιον, Leviticus 16:16-17; Leviticus 16:20, al.), the Most Holy Place, and that not the earthly one (Kurtz),—for that would be a trifling statement; whereas surely τοῦτο δηλοῦντος τοῦ πνεύματος ἁγίου prepares the way for a deeper truth, vid. infra,—but the heavenly reality, the throne of the Godhead.

ἡ τῶν ἁγίων ὁδός signifies the way to the Most Holy Place. Comp. Matthew 10:5 : εἰς ὁδὸν ἐθνῶν; Jeremiah 2:18 : τῇ ὁδῷ Αἰγύπτου, al.; Kühner, II. p. 176, Obs. 4; Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 176.

ἔχειν στάσιν further means: to have existence, to exist. We have not, however, with Böhme, to import into it a secondary reference to firmness or legal validity, and ἡ πρώτη σκηνή is not the one first in point of time, i.e. the earthly, Jewish sanctuary in opposition to the heavenly (Hunnius, Seb. Schmidt, Carpzov, Semler, Baumgarten, Bloomfield, al.), still less the tabernacle in opposition to the later temple (Peirce, Sykes), but the fore-tabernacle or Holy Place, in opposition to the interior tabernacle or Most Holy Place. The thought is: by the ordering that the Most Holy Place, the presence-chamber and place of manifestation of God, might not be entered, save on one single day of the year, and by the high priest alone, while the daily Levitical service of the priests is accomplished in the Holy Place, and thus approach to the former debarred and shut off by the latter, the Holy Ghost proclaims that so long as the Levitical priesthood, and consequently the Mosaic law in general, continues, the immediate access to God is not yet permitted; that thus, in order to the bringing about and rendering possible of a full and direct communion with God, the Old Testament covenant-religion must first fall, and the more perfect one brought in by Christ (Hebrews 9:11) must take its place. Comp. Matthew 27:51, as also Josephus, Antiq. iii. 3. 7 : τὴν δὲ τρίτην μοῖραν [τῆς σκηνῆς] μόνῳ περιέγραψε τῷ θεῷ διὰ τὸ καὶ τὸν οὐρανὸν ἀνεπίβατον εἶναι ἀνθρώποις.

8. that the way into the holiest … was not yet made manifest] Entrance into the Holiest symbolised direct access to God, and the “way” into it had not been made evident until He came who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). He is “the new and living way” (Hebrews 10:19-20).

while as the first tabernacle was yet standing] Rather, “while yet the outer Tabernacle is still standing,” i.e. so long as there is (for the Temple, which represented the continuity of the Tabernacle and the Old Covenant, had not sunk in flames, as it did a few years later) an outer Tabernacle, through which not even a Priest was ever allowed to enter into the Holiest. Hence the deep significance of the rending of the veil of the Temple from the top to the bottom at the Crucifixion. (Matthew 27:51).

Hebrews 9:8. Δηλοῦντος, signifying) as it were a thing which would have otherwise remained concealed from us; so δηλοῖ, showeth or signifieth, ch. Hebrews 12:27.—πεφανερῶσθαι, was made manifest) The same word occurs, Hebrews 9:26.—τῶν ἁγίων, the holy place or sanctuary) [viz. the heavenly sanctuary]. The plural in the Greek corresponds to the singular in the Hebrew. As the holy place was to the holy of holies, so the whole Levitical tabernacle was to the heavenly sanctuary; then, as the holy place prevented the people from having access to the holy of holies, so the whole tabernacle prevented an entrance into the heavenly sanctuary. Therefore πρώτης, first, which immediately follows, has a parabolic amphibology: if we understand it of place, it denotes the anterior part of the tabernacle, as opposed to the holy of holies; but if of time, it denotes the whole Levitical tabernacle, as opposed to heaven.—ὁδὸν, the way) much less εἴσοδον, entrance; comp. ch. Hebrews 10:19-20.—ἐχούσης στάσιν, having as yet a standing) A suitable phrase.מעמד, LXX., στάσις. When Paul was writing, the temple, or first tabernacle, was not yet destroyed; but still it had no standing (or status) any longer, from the time that the veil had been rent; and when its standing was broken up, the tabernacle itself soon after was utterly destroyed.

Hebrews 9:8The Holy Ghost

Speaking through the appliances and forms of worship. The intimation is that God intended to emphasize, in the old economy itself, the fact of his inaccessibility, in order to create the desire for full access and to prepare the way for this.

The way into the holiest of all (τὴν τῶν ἁγίων ὁδὸν)

Lit. the way of the holies. For the construction comp. ὸδὸν ἐθνῶν way of the Gentiles, Mark 10:5. The phrase N.T.o. Τῶν ἀγίων as in Hebrews 9:12, Hebrews 9:24, Hebrews 9:25; Hebrews 10:19.

While as the first tabernacle was yet standing (ἔτι τῆς πρώτης σκηνῆς ἐχούσης στάσιν)

By the first tabernacle is meant the first division. The point is that the division of the tabernacle showed the limitations of the Levitical system, and kept the people from coming directly to God. Of this limitation the holy place, just outside the second veil, was specially significant; for the holy place barred priests and people alike from the holy of holies. The priests could not pass out of it into the holy of holies; the people could not pass through it to that sanctuary, since they were not allowed in the holy place. The priests in the holy place stood between the people and God as revealed in the shrine. Εξούσης στάσιν, lit. had standing. The phrase N.T.o. Στάσις everywhere in N.T. except here, is used in its secondary sense of faction, sedition, insurrection. Here in its original sense. Note that the sense is not physical and local as the A.V. implies, but remained a recognized institution.

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