Hebrews 9:9
Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
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(9) Which was a figure . . .—Rather, Which is a parable unto the time present, according to which (parable) are offered both gifts and sacrifices, which cannot perfect, as to the conscience, him that doeth the service. The general meaning may be given thus: this “first Tabernacle” (i.e., the existence of an outer as: distinguished from an inner sanctuary) is a parable for the period connected with it (literally, “for the season that stands near it,” the adjacent period, so to speak); and in full accordance with the parabolic character of the first Tabernacle (see Hebrews 9:8) is the presentation of offerings which have no power to accomplish the perfect end of worship in the case of any worshipper. The priests offered sacrifices to God, but were limited to the outer sanctuary, which was not the place of God’s manifested presence; a fit symbol this of offerings which cannot purify the conscience (see Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:1). The above rendering follows the best reading of the Greek; in the ordinary text the relative “which,” in the second clause, refers to “the time,” not to “the first Tabernacle.”

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.Which was a figure for the time then present - That is, as long as the tabernacle stood. The word rendered "figure" - παραβολὴ parabolē - is not the same as type - τύπος tupos - (Romans 5:14; Acts 7:13, Acts 7:44; John 20:25; 1 Corinthians 10:6, 1 Corinthians 10:11; Philippians 3:17, et al.) - but is the word commonly rendered "parable;" Matthew 13:3, Matthew 13:10, Matthew 13:13, Matthew 13:18, Matthew 13:24, Matthew 13:31, Matthew 13:33-36, Matthew 13:53; Matthew 15:15, "et soepe," and means properly "a placing side by side;" then a "comparison, or similitude." Here it is used in the sense of "image, or symbol" - something to "represent" other things. The idea is, that the arrangements and services of the tabernacle were a representation of important realities, and of things which were more fully to be revealed at a future period. There can be no doubt that Paul meant to say that this service in general was symbolical or typical, though this will not authorize us to attempt to spiritualize every minute arrangement of it. Some of the things in which it was typical are specified by the apostle himself, and wisdom and safety in explaining the arrangements of the tabernacle and its services consist in adhering very closely to the explanations furnished by the inspired writers. An interpreter is on an open sea, to be driven he knows not whither, when he takes leave of these safe pilots.

Both gifts - Thank-offerings.

And sacrifices - Bloody offerings. The idea is, that all kinds of offerings to God were made there.

That could not make him that did the service perfect - That could not take away sin, and remove the stains of guilt on the soul; note, Hebrews 7:11; compare Hebrews 8:7; Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 10:1, Hebrews 10:11.

As pertaining to the conscience - They related mainly to outward and ceremonial rites, and even when offerings were made for sin the conscience was not relieved. They could not expiate guilt; they could not make the soul pure; they could not of themselves impart peace to the soul by reconciling it to God. They could not fully accomplish what the conscience needed to have done in order to give it peace. Nothing will do this but the blood of the Redeemer.

9. Which—"The which," namely, anterior tabernacle: "as being that which was" [Alford].

figure—Greek, "parable": a parabolic setting forth of the character of the Old Testament.

for—"in reference to the existing time." The time of the temple-worship really belonged to the Old Testament, but continued still in Paul's time and that of his Hebrew readers. "The time of reformation" (Heb 9:10) stands in contrast to this, "the existing time"; though, in reality, "the time of reformation," the New Testament time, was now present and existing. So "the age to come," is the phrase applied to the Gospel, because it was present only to believers, and its fulness even to them is still to come. Compare Heb 9:11, "good things to come."

in which—tabernacle, not time, according to the reading of the oldest manuscripts. Or translate, "according to which" parabolic representation, or figure.

were—Greek, "are."

gifts—unbloody oblations.

could not—Greek, "cannot": are not able.

him that did the service—any worshipper. The Greek is "latreuein," serve God, which is all men's duty; not "leitourgein," to serve in a ministerial office.

make … perfect—perfectly remove the sense of guilt, and sanctify inwardly through love.

as pertaining to the conscience—"in respect to the (moral-religious) consciousness." They can only reach as far as the outward flesh (compare "carnal ordinances," Heb 9:10, 13, 14).

Which was a figure for the time then present: the tabernacle in all its parts, and the whole economy of it, was parabolh, which signifieth the translation of a word or thing from its own natural signification to signify another, which thing so signified by it is commonly more excellent than itself, as the substance exceeds the shadow; equivalent it is to those terms of types, examples, figures of things to come: such are the tabernacle and its services, representations of things spiritual and Divine, and very imperfect shadows of them, serving only for that infant state of the church: and when its nonage was to expire by the coming of the truths themselves, then were they to expire too. The only time when the tabernacle administration was present, and no longer.

In which were offered both gifts and sacrifices; in which tabernacle were performed services to the great God, whose tent it was, suitable to his person, and agreeable to his will, even gifts and sacrifices, as before described, Hebrews 5:1 8:3.

That could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; they were all impotent as to the restoring of a sinner to God’s favour by themselves; they could not reconcile him to God, preserve communion with him, nor bring them to happiness in him, Hebrews 10:3,4; no perfect justifying, sanctifying could be had by any of them, though never so often repeated. They might do all to the letter which God required, absolving the worshipper as to the external part, but not at all according to the conscience; or they could not take the guilt of sin from the conscience as to themselves, but it would cry guilty still; neither could they remove the power of it, for it was under bondage to it still; neither could they take away the fears and terrors of it, but left it shaking under them and unquiet still, being abused by them as a veil to keep them from Christ the true Priest and sacrifice, when as types and shadows they should have led these worshippers to him.

Which was a figure for the time then present,.... The tabernacle in general was a figure of Christ's human nature, Hebrews 8:2 and the most holy part of it was a figure of heaven itself, Hebrews 9:24 the whole service of it was typical and shadowy; but it was but a temporary figure; it was for that present time only; the things of it were suited to that dispensation, and are now abolished, and ought not to be revived, the ordinances of the Gospel being greatly preferable to them; and while it did continue, it was only a parable, as the word here used signifies; it was like a dark saying; it had much obscurity and darkness in it; or as the Vulgate Latin version renders it, it was a "figure of the present time"; that is, of the Gospel dispensation; it was a shadow of good things to come under that; it prefigured what is now accomplished; or rather it was a "figure unto, or until the present time"; till Christ came, when all figures, types, and shadows fled away, and were of no more real use and service:

in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices; that is, in which tabernacle, or at which then present time, or , "according to which figure or parable", as the Alexandrian copy and Vulgate Latin version read, gifts and sacrifices were offered by the priests; see Hebrews 5:1,

that could not make him that did the service perfect; neither the priest that offered them, nor the people whom he represented, and for whom he did the service; they could not make real and perfect expiation for sin, nor justify from it, nor cleanse and sanctify; the spiritual worshippers had their sins expiated by the sacrifice of Christ; and their persons were justified by his righteousness, and they were cleansed by his blood: the particular instance in which, legal sacrifices did not make perfect is, "pertaining to the conscience"; there is in every man a conscience, and when sin is charged home upon it, that is filled with a sense of divine wrath; nor can it be pacified with anything short of what will answer the law and justice of God, and which is only done by the blood and righteousness of Christ.

{4} Which was a figure {f} for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;

(4) An objection: If the way to heaven was not opened by those sacrifices (that is to say, if the worshippers were not purged by them) why then were those ceremonies used? That is, that men might be called back to that spiritual example, that is to say, to Christ who would correct all those things at his coming.

(f) For that time that that figure had to last.

Hebrews 9:9. Ἥτις] is not synonymous with . It is employed argumentatively, in that it presents the following declaration as a fact, the truth of which is manifest.

We have not, however, to take ἥτις with παραβολή as a designation of the subject (Calvin, al.: which emblem was only for the present time; Storr, al.: which emblem was to continue only to the present; Zeger, Semler, de Wette, al.: which emblem has reference to the present time). For the verb to be supplemented would not be the mere copula; it would have a peculiar signification, and thus could not be omitted. ἥτις alone is consequently the subject, and παραβολή the predicate. Yet ἥτις is not to be referred back to στάσιν (Chr. Fr. Schmid), for the expression στάσιν does not occupy a sufficiently independent position in the preceding context to justify this; still less—what is thought possible by Cramer—to τὴν τῶν ἁγίων ὁδόν, by which the idea would be rendered unmeaning. Nor have we to assume an attraction to παραβολή, in such wise that ἥτις should stand in the sense of ὅτι (so Bengel, who makes it point back to Hebrews 9:6-8; Maier, who makes it refer to Hebrews 9:7-8; Michaelis, who makes it refer to μήπω πεφανερῶσθαι κ.τ.λ., and others), or, what amounts to the same thing, to supplement to the phrase ἥτις παραβολή, comprehended together as a subject, παραβολή ἐστιν as a predicate: which emblem (described Hebrews 9:6-8) is an emblem for the present time (so Nickel in Reuter’s Repertor. 1858, März, p. 188 f.). for, in the course of Hebrews 9:9-10, respect is had just to the closing words alone of Hebrews 9:8 : ἔτι τῆς πρώτης σκηνῆς ἐχούσης στάσιν. The exclusively right construction, therefore, is the referring back of ἥτις to τῆς πρώτης σκηνῆς, Hebrews 9:8.

παραβολὴ εἰς τὸν καιρὸν τὸν ἐνεστηκότα] sc. ἐστίν. παραβολή in the Gospels very frequently a fictitious historic likeness. Here a likeness by means of a fact, an emblem. Not incorrectly, therefore, is it explained, on the part of Chrysostom, Oecumenius, and Theophylact, by τύπος.

εἰς] in reference to, as regards. Instead of εἰς τὸν καιρὸν τὸν ἐνεστηκότα, consequently, the mere τοῦ καιροῦ τοῦ ἐνεστηκότος might have been written.

ὁ καιρὸς ὁ ἐνεστηκώς] the present time. The opposite thereto is formed by the καιρὸς διορθώσεως, Hebrews 9:10, by which the reader is referred to the Christian epoch of time, the αἰὼν μέλλων (Hebrews 6:5; comp. also Hebrews 2:5). ὁ καιρὸς ὁ ἐνεστηκώς is therefore synonymous with the αἰὼν οὗτος elsewhere, and indicates the pre-Christian period of time still extending onward into the present.[90] The term καιρός, however, is chosen, instead of the more general ΧΡΌΝΟς or ΑἸΏΝ, because it is the thought of the author that this period of time has already reached its turning-point, at which it is to take its departure.

ΚΑΘʼ ἭΝ] conformably to which, or in accordance with which, applies not to παραβολή (Oecumenius, Bleek, Bisping, Delitzsch, Nickel, l.c., Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 495, Obs.; Alford, Woerner, al.), but to τῆς πρώτης σκηνῆς, as the last preceding main notion; stands thus parallel to ἭΤΙς.

] is to be taken in close connection with ΔῶΡΆ ΤΕ ΚΑῚ ΘΥΣΊΑΙ ΠΡΟΣΦΈΡΟΝΤΑΙ (against Böhme, who unwarrantably presses the force of the plural ΔῶΡΆ ΤΕ ΚΑῚ ΘΥΣΊΑΙ).

ΚΑΤᾺ ΣΥΝΕΊΔΗΣΙΝ] as regards the consciousness, or as to the conscience (Theophylact: κατὰ τὸν ἔσω ἄνθρωπον), i.e. so that the reality of being led to perfection is inwardly experienced, and the conscience in connection therewith feels itself satisfied.

τὸν λατρεύοντα] him rendering the service (Hebrews 10:2). Not specially the priest is meant (Estius, Gerhard; comp. also Drusius), but in general, the man doing homage to God by the offering of sacrifice, whether it be a priest who offers for himself, or another who presents this offering through the medium of the priest. [Matthew 4:10; cf. ὁ προσερχόμενος, Hebrews 10:1.]

[90] Quite mistaken (as is already apparent even from the opposition to καιρὸς διορθώσεως, ver. 10) is the opinion of Delitzsch, with whom Alford concurs, that ὁ καιρὸς ὁ ἑνεστηκώς denotes the present begun with the καινὴ διαθήκη, the present of the New Testament time, in which the parable has attained its close. See, on the contrary, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 494, Obs., and specially Reiche, Commentar. Crit. p. 74 sq.—That, for the rest, by ὁ καιρὸς ὁ ἐνεστηκώς only that present in which the author lived and wrote can be meant, needs not another word of explanation. When Kurtz and Hofmann deny this,—and the former will understand only an “imagined present,” into which the author “only transposed himself;” the latter, “that present in which the Holy Ghost prophesied by means of that which was written in the law,”—this is done only in the interest of their wrong interpretations of ver. 6.

Hebrews 9:9-10 are closely, indeed, connected grammatically with that which precedes, but, logically regarded, introduce the third and last main point of the disquisition on the high-priestly superiority of Christ over the Levitical high priests. For after (1) it had been shown that Christ, as regards His person, is exalted above the Levitical high priests (Hebrews 4:14 to Hebrews 7:28), and then afterwards (2) it was proved that likewise the sanctuary in which He ministers surpasses in sublimity the Levitical sanctuary (Hebrews 8:1 to Hebrews 9:8), it is now further stated (3) that the sacrifice also which He has offered is more excellent than the Levitical sacrifices (Hebrews 9:9 to Hebrews 10:18).

Hebrews 9:9. ἥτις παραβολὴ εἰς … “for this is a parable for the time [then] present,” for the contemporary period. ἥτις has for its antecedent σκηνῆς. This is the simplest construction (Cf. Winer, p. 207). That suggested by Primasius and Vaughan—“Which thing (the fact of there being a πρώτη σκηνὴ separate from the Holy of Holies) was a parable”—is grammatically admissible. εἰς τ. καιρὸν τὸν ἐνεστηκότα, “for the time being”. In the usual division of time into past, present and future, the present was termed ὁ ἐνεστώς. But present to whom? Several interpreters reply, To those living under the Christian dispensation. So especially Delitzsch and Alford. But N.T. usage, and especially the usage of this Epistle which speaks of the Christian dispensation as “the coming age” (Hebrews 6:5), “the future world” (Hebrews 2:5), indicates that “the present time” must refer to the O.T. period. Besides, the opposition to καιρὸς διορθώσεως points in the same direction; as also does the clause under καθʼ ἥν. εἰς is here “with reference to”. And the meaning is, that the outer tent which did not itself contain God’s presence, but rather stood barring access to it, was a parable of the entire dispensation. In other words, this Tabernacle arrangement was a striking symbol of the Mosaic economy which could not of itself effect spiritual approach and abiding fellowship with God. The Levitical δικαιώματα themselves, on the ground of which all these arrangements proceed, emphatically declared their own inadequacy. Wrapped up in them was the truth that they could not bring the worshipper into God’s presence. καθʼ ἣν δῶρά τε … “in accordance with which [parable] are offered both gifts and sacrifices that cannot perfect him that doth the service as regards conscience, being only ordinances of the flesh resting upon meats and drinks and divers washings, imposed until a time of rectification”. καθʼ ἣν- referring to παραβολὴ; it is in accordance with the parabolic significance of the Tabernacle and its arrangements, that gifts and sacrifices were offered which could only purge the flesh, not the conscience. μὴ δυνάμεναι, Winer’s note (p. 608) is misleading. Cf. Jebb’s Appendix to Vincent and Dickson’s Modern Greek, p. 340. “In later Greek, μή tended to usurp the place of οὐ,” especially with participles. Cf. Blass, 255. κατὰ συνείδησιν τελειῶσαι means, to give to the worshipper the consciousness that he is inwardly cleansed from defilement and is truly in communion with God; to bring conscience finally into peace.

9. which was a figure for the time then present] i.e. And this outer Tabernacle is a parable for the present time. By “the present time” he means the prae-Christian epoch in which the unconverted Jews were still (practically) living. The full inauguration of the New Covenant of which Christ had prophesied as his Second Coming, began with the final annulment of the Old, which was only completed when the Temple fell, and when the observance of the Levitic system thus became (by the manifest interposition of God in history) a thing simply impossible. A Christian was already living in “the Future Aeon” (Olam habba); a Jew who had not embraced the Gospel still belonged to “the present time” (olam hazzeh ὁ καιρὸς ὁ ἐνεστηκώς). The meaning of the verse is that the very existence of an outer Tabernacle (“the Holy Place”) emphasized the fact that close access to God (of which the entrance of the High Priest into the Holiest was a symbol) was not permitted under the Old Covenant.

in which …”] The true reading is not καθ' ὅν, but καθ' ἥν, so that the “which” refers to the word “parable” or “symbol,” “in accordance with which symbolism of the outer Tabernacle, both gifts and sacrifices are being offered, such as (μὴ) are not able, so far as the conscience is concerned, to perfect the worshipper.” He says “are offered” and “him that does the service,” using the present (not as in the A. V. the past tense), because he is throwing himself into the position of the Jew who still clings to the Old Covenant. The introduction of “a clear conscience” (or moral consciousness) into the question may seem like a new thought, but it is not. The implied argument is this: only the innocent can “ascend the hill of the Lord, and stand in His Holy Place:” the High Priest was regarded as symbolically innocent by virtue of minute precautions against any ceremonial defilement, and because he carried with him the atonement for his own sins and those of the people: he therefore, but he alone, was permitted to approach God by entering the Holiest Place. The worshippers in general were so little regarded as “perfected in conscience” that only the Priests could enter even the outer “Holy” (Hebrews 7:18-19, Hebrews 10:1-4; Hebrews 10:11).

Hebrews 9:9. Ἥτις παραβολὴ, which is a figure) ἥτις for , before the feminine, παραβολὴ. This relative has regard to the three preceding verses.—ἐνεστηκότα) present, in respect of that standing. The standing, emphatically as such, now no longer existed, although ἡ σκηνὴ, the tabernacle, was not yet broken up, was not yet destroyed, was not yet razed to the foundation. The antithesis is, μελλόντων, of things to come, Hebrews 9:11.—δῶρά τε καὶ θυσίαι μὴ δυναμεναι, κ.τ.λ., gifts and sacrifices not able, etc.) The victims (sacrifices) might seem to be more efficacious than the other gifts: therefore with great elegance the efficacy is more expressly withheld from the sacrifices [by δυνάμεναι being made agree with θυσίαι, not δῶρα].—συνείδησιν, conscience) The same word occurs, ch. Hebrews 10:2; Hebrews 10:22. The antithesis is σαρκὸς, of the flesh, Hebrews 9:10, as Hebrews 9:13-14 [1 Peter 3:21].—τὸν λατρεύοντα, him that did the service) the priest, who offered for himself; or the Israelite, for whom the priest offered.

Verse 9. - Which (ἥτις, with its usual force) is a parable for the time present (i.e. present as regarded from the standpoint of the old dispensation. The A.V., translating "then present," and using past tenses throughout, though departing from literalism, still gives, we conceive, the idea correctly); according to which (referring to "parable," if we adopt the best-supported reading, καθ ἥν. The Textus Receptus, followed by the A.V., has καθ ὅν, referring to "the time") are offered both gifts and sacrifices (cf. ver. 1), which cannot, as pertaining to the conscience, make him that doth the service (or, "the worshipper," the idea not being confined to the officiating priest; cf. Hebrews 10:2, where τοὺς λατρεύοντας is translated "the worshippers") perfect. The emphatic expression here is κατὰ συνείδησιν. The gifts and sacrifices of the Law availed in themselves only for external ceremonial purification; they did not reach, however typical, the sphere of man's inner consciousness; they could not bring about that sense of spiritual accord with God which is spoken of in Jeremiah 31. as marking the new covenant (see below, vers. 13, 14). Hebrews 9:9Which (ἥτις)

The first division of the tabernacle. The double relative directs attention to the emphasis which belongs to the first tabernacle. The way into the holiest was not yet manifest while the first tabernacle continued to be a recognized institution, seeing that the first tabernacle was a parable, etc.

A figure (παραβολὴ)

Outside of the Synoptic Gospels, only here and Hebrews 11:19. Here of a visible symbol or type. See on Matthew 13:3.

For the time then present (εικς τὸν καιρὸν τὸν ἐνεστηκότα)

Rend. now present, as contrasted with the "time of reformation," Hebrews 9:10. See on these last days, Hebrews 1:2. Ἐις for; with reference to; applying to. Καιρὸς season is used instead of αἰὼν age, because "the time" is conceived by the writer as a critical point, - a turning-point, at which the old system is to take its departure. For ἐνεστηκότα present, see on Galatians 1:4, and comp. Romans 8:38; 1 Corinthians 3:22.

In which (καθ' ἥν)

The A.V. wrongly assumes a reference to the tabernacle; whereas the reference is to the parable. Rend. according to which.

Were offered - could not (προσφέρονται μὴ δυνάμεναι)

Rend. "are offered" or "are being offered"; and for "could not," "cannot."

Make him that did the service perfect (τελειῶσαι τὸν λατρεύοντα)

Rend. as Rev. "make the worshipper perfect." See Hebrews 7:11.

As pertaining to the conscience (κατὰ συνείδησιν)

Having shown that the division of the tabernacle proved the imperfection of the worship, the writer will now show that the Levitical ritual did not accomplish the true end of religion. The radical defect of the Levitical system was its inability to deal with the conscience, and thus bring about the "perfection" which is the ideal of true religion. That ideal contemplated the cleansing and renewal of the inner man; not merely the removal of ceremonial uncleanness, or the formal expiation of sins. Comp. Matthew 23:25, Matthew 23:26. For συνείδησις conscience, see on 1 Peter 3:16.

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