Matthew Poole's Commentary
Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;Hebrews 8:1-5 Christ, our great High Priest in the heavens, hath a
more excellent ministry than the priests on earth,
Hebrews 8:6-13 as he is also the Mediator of a better covenant than
that which was given to Moses.
The Spirit having cleared the doctrine of the priesthood of the great gospel Minister, now proceeds to show how he executed that office; and that therein as he far excelled, so he was to be valued and used before, the Aaronical priests. He introduceth it with a reflection on his foregoing discourse.
Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum; the sum then of the things spoken, is kefalaion some read, the head, i.e. the scope in a discourse driven at; others, the chief of all the excellencies of the priesthood hitherto held forth; as if it were palmarium argumentum, the highest and choicest of all that hitherto had been spoken; and it is proportionably true, as will be seen in what followeth: but it must necessarily join the foregoing and following discourse together, and so it notes a sum, contract, or epitome; a breviate of the heads formerly discoursed on and largely, Hebrews 7:1-28; and so shows the dependence of the matter remaining to be handled on what went before, when many things are summed up in a few words; as Christ’s priesthood, largely opened before from Psalm 110:4, is, as to the substance of it, briefly handled in this verse.
We have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; we Paul, and believing Hebrews, opposed to the infidel Jews, have not only a right to, and interest in, but actual possession of, Christ, God-man, as our High Priest, while their infidel brethren had only a sinful man: He who hath eminent power above, and though crucified by men, yet thereby became victorious over sin, death, and hell, and the lord of them the devil, led principalities and powers in triumph, when he passed through their kingdom in the air, Colossians 2:15, entered into the heaven of heavens, and there sat him down and settled himself, as was his right, on the right hand of God, as he sat on his throne, invested with all power and dignity, as God’s royal Priest, near to him, and the great manager of all our concerns with him; while the sinful priest at Jerusalem stood trembling before the shadow of this heavenly temple on earth, Hebrews 1:3.
A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.A minister; this is spoken of the High Priest sat down on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, and relates to that work of his whereby he was constituted leitourgov which, according to Suidas, is compounded of two words, para to lhion vel lhiton ergon, public work; so as it might be rendered administrator, and notes any public officer from the highest to the lowest. The Spirit of God in the New Testament hath applied it to the highest and subordinate ministry; in this verse to Christ himself in his exalted state, and so notes a ruler, as he was now God’s published, settled King, the Lord Administrator of all things in his kingdom, agreeably to what he foretold, Psalm 2:6,7 110:1; compare Acts 13:33. And here properly it notes him in all his offices, his royal, sacerdotal, and prophetical ministry in the heavens and earth, administering and governing all things in them.
Of the sanctuary: the things about which his administration is concerned are twn agiwn, of holies. Some refer this to persons, as noting saints, of whom he is the Ruler and Governor, Revelation 15:3; others, to things, graces and endowments bestowed by him upon his: but most properly here, in the neuter gender, it notes the place, the sanctuary in heaven, the holy of holiest, where he is administering and governing all, though it may be applied to all of these. For heaven is the place, the sanctuary, wherein saints the persons for whom, and all holy endowments the matter about which, he administers, do descend. But the holy house, or sanctuary, is the proper import of it; and so, though expressed in the plural number, to all the holy parts of its types, the temple and tabernacle.
And of the true tabernacle: some, because of the connection of this to the former word,
sanctuary, would have it import the same thing, even heaven; but the Spirit distinguisheth these from each other, Hebrews 9:1,2. Some would understand it of the body of Christ, but here not so properly and agreeably to what the Spirit is speaking of. But by tabernacle, here, is meant Christ mystical, the true temple, church, and habitation of God on earth. For as Christ was the body and truth by all the shadows and types of the tabernacle, Colossians 2:17, so not all one way. Some of the types were single, and terminated on his person, as priesthood, sacrifice, altar, shew-bread, incense, ark of the covenant, &c. Other types were aggregate, and compounded of many things, as tent, sanctuary, and tabernacle here; parallel to this, there must be a truth in Christ complex, that is, Christ the church, so framed and pitched a house by God, that he may dwell in it. The apostle so interprets it, 1 Corinthians 3:16,17 2 Corinthians 6:16; compare Ephesians 2:20,21 1 Peter 2:4,5. Christ in person is its foundation; saints are the several living materials, of which the house and tabernacle is made; their dispositions, graces, and endowments, the ornaments of it; the laws, rules, orders, ordinances, are the cement, the cords and stakes that join them together; and the glory of God fills it, as it did the tabernacle and temple, Haggai 2:7,9 Re 21:23. It is styled, the true tabernacle of God, because of it the literal tabernacle was but an imperfect shadow and type; in this God dwells truly and personally, therefore to be entered into by the Hebrews; the old one, the type, being abolished and vanished by the appearance of this the truth. For now was that word fulfilled, Jeremiah 3:16; the days were come that men should mention no more the ark of the covenant of the Lord; so no more the tabernacle of the witness; but the truth of God in Christ should be acknowledged by them. The reason of this interpretation is evident. A tabernacle is God’s habitation; the Christian church is such, it answers in all parts, and bears its proportion to the complex type, and cannot fully be matched by any other things: it is congruous to Christ’s session in glory; for thence he doth, as the honourable and glorious Administrator of God’s church, order and manage all on it according to his will, having settled in his true tabernacle a ministry, Ephesians 4:8-13, covenant, as below, Hebrews 8:6-13, service, Hebrews 8:3,5, and privileges, far exceeding its type: all which this grand officer, as the only royal High Priest and Head of his church, Prophet of his people, orders by his Spirit, the only Vicar he useth in it. Of this true tabernacle, church, or house of God, the sovereign, independent, omnipotent, infinitely wise and holy, the eternal Lord, was the author; and such is his work as no other can question it, can add to or alter it, can reach it, so proportioned is it to its Framer.
Which the Lord pitched; ephzen he framed and prepared every piece that constituteth this tabernacle himself, as the materials of the first were wrought by his pattern and order. He compacted and joined all the parts of it together, to make it his tabernacle; and especially reared, pitched, and firmly constituted this his own habitation. This he doth for ever so pitch, as hell and earth, with all their arts and force, can never remove it. Matthew 16:16,18. It is his rest for ever, here he will dwell, for he hath desired it, and will make it glorious, Hebrews 12:26-28 Psalm 132:14 Isaiah 11:10 Revelation 21:1-27.
And not man; this is denied because man is weak, sinful, and mortal, no such hands intermeddle with the work of God’s tabernacle, for his work would be like him, weak, faulty, and perishing, which could not long survive its author.
For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.For every High Priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: in Christ’s administration for his in heaven, as he is a King, so he is a High Priest; and as such must have service and ministration suitable to himself there, as the Aaronical high priests had on earth; every of which was constituted to stand and minister at God’s altar, and were to offer sacrifices and gifts, as cleared before, Hebrews 5:1.
Wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer; seeing these earthly priests had such service, it would follow thence, if he were earthly and of their order, he should need such too. ’ Anagkaion having no verb expressly joined to it, is variously supplied: some, by
it is; but those who would make the tabernacle his body, do not allow it, that being offered before this, and therefore add, it was, or hath been: but it is best supplied potentially, it would be necessary for this High Priest, if he were so low as those priests, to have something of the like nature or kind of gifts and sacrifices, that he might offer as they did. Now such he needed not, as being utterly inconsistent with his priesthood, as is proved after.
For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest: this gives the reason why the Levitical gifts and offerings were inconsistent with Christ’s priesthood: for if he were earthly for person or office, or was existing on earth, or in an earthly sanctuary or tabernacle proper to the law, he could not by Divine ordination be an offering priest, being not of Aaron’s family, nor of the tribe of Levi, nor such a priest as he was made by God’s oath after Melchisedec’s order, if he were for temper, office, or place of ministry earthly.
Seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: this earthly office, state, and work, was by the law settled on Aaron’s family, and none could legally offer sacrifices or gifts in God’s earthly tabernacle or temple, but his sons alone. Christ, as he was not of that tribe, so he never was either in the court of the priests, or in the holy place in the temple, neither did minister in them as a priest at all; this was proper and peculiar only to his types.
Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things; these Aaronical priests and their service in the literal tabernacle, were only subservient, as the model in the mind, to represent the truth, as the platform of a tabernacle serves toward the making and pitching of it. Upodeigmati is an obscure and underhand resemblance, the first draught, that which is the rough part of what is to be represented, Hebrews 11:23, such as the shadow is to the natural body, a dark resemblance of it: such were these of Christ’s person, ministry, and those heavenly things performed by him; they were leading them to, and instructing them in, Christ and his work, though the veil on their mind and hearts hindered them from discerning it. So true is that, John 1:17. Moses’s law was the shadow, Christ the truth of all; compare Hebrews 9:6,23 10:11. And it is not unlikely, that both the literal tabernacle and temple economy are but grosser and obscurer discoveries of that form and manner of the manifestation of God in glory, and the most excellently regulated service and ministry in the economy there.
As Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle; kecrhmatistai. Moses was in the mount, from God’s own mouth, (the best of oracles), charged and admonished about, and infallibly guided in, his duty, Exodus 25:1-40, confirmed by the Spirit in Acts 7:44: when he had his commission for the work resolved to enter on and perfect it according to God’s charge, then was this oracle given out about the earthly tabernacle, priesthood, and service.
For, See, saith he; look you to it, observe this, take heed and beware, saith he, who is Jehovah, the Sovereign Lord of him and Israel, a Being of power to enjoy, and command, and to require any neglect, Exodus 25:1-40.
That thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount; thou shalt make, frame, and work, by enjoining Israel what they are to make, and perfect what thou art to do, all those things of the vessels, parts, and structure of the tabernacle for officers and service, for conjoining, rearing, and pitching of it, Exodus 25:1-40:38; all after the type, copy, pattern, exemplar, showed thee by me, and seen and viewed by thee, when thou wert with me in the top of the Mount Sinai forty days and forty nights. This tabernacle was framed by its type, and was to be an ordinance resembling, figuring, and typifying a spiritual tabernacle and ministry of Christ that was to succeed and fulfil it, being different in the whole kind from this type; it being spiritual and heavenly, this a gross, material, earthly fabric. Moses was most exact in framing all as God commanded, after his own pattern; he did not add, diminish, nor alter any thing in it, Exodus 40:1-38.
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.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.
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.This proves the gospel covenant better than the Mosaical, for if it had not, there would have been no second.
For if that first covenant had been faultless: that first covenant, of which Moses was the mediator, as to the administration of it, (as to the matter of it, it was the same from Adam throughout all ages), was faulty; not because God made it, though it was a less perfect good than what succeeded it; it was able to save those who would rightly use it, and come unto Christ by it, Galatians 3:24; but accidentally, by reason of the priests’ faults, and people’s sinfulness, it became wholly ineffectual to them for saving them; therefore the blame and fault of it is charged on them, Hebrews 8:8.
Then should no place have been sought for the second: the question here is vehemently assertive; if that covenant in its Mosaical administration had reached effectually its end, brought all that were under it to Christ, to be saved by him, no place nor room was there, that then being so perfect, for another to succeed it, God would have rested there; but his excellent wisdom and counsel determined to put in being the second, and to set it in the place of the first, that was faulty, and which was to be abrogated by it, Galatians 3:21.
For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:This is the proof of the faultiness of the Mosaical covenant, from the right cause of it, those who did abuse it.
For finding fault with them: the Lord, by the prophet Jeremiah, being distasted and offended, accuseth, and with complaints and aggravations chargeth the houses of Israel and Judah, both priests and people, for frustrating God’s covenant with them by their unbelief, mistaking God’s mind in it, and using it to justify them, and not bring them unto Christ, who justifieth the ungodly. That the covenant was not faulty in itself, but only accidentally, is evident; for it was given to change hearts, though its spiritual efficacy was not so fully revealed, Deu 10:16 30:6; for Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, were saved by the right use of it. It did not bind them by works to obtain justification, for it was delivered with blood, which taught them it was to be had only by faith in Christ’s blood. But when they would not be led to Christ by it, they were faulty, and not the covenant, and so they perished in their gainsaying. The administration of this covenant by men being so defective, he finds fault with them, and resolves on the change of the administration.
Behold, the days come: Behold, imports attention to and observation of the rare, excellent, and important thing proposed in the word to the eye and mind of those for whom it was written, and to whom it is sent: so is this here, in Jeremiah 31:31; the days of the Messiah’s coming in the flesh, when a woman shall compass a man, as Jeremiah 31:22; the known times of grace, Jeremiah 23:5,6. A time to come when the prophet wrote it, past when the apostle quotes it here; so ordered by God to teach those there the imperfection of that covenant administration, so as they might make out to Christ by it, and not rest in it, as he had revealed him to them in the prophecy; and to strengthen believers in their faith in Christ when come, and to convince and leave inexcusable such Jews as would not believe in him, and further to confirm his priesthood.
Saith the Lord: this is not an invention of the prophet, but a revelation of the Supreme Lord to him. It is his certain, true, and infallible speech, illuminating his mind by it, and directing him in his words and writings for to convey it to those to whom he sent him; so that the word is firm, and worthy of all acceptation; and the more of the Hebrews, because sent by Jeremiah, a Levitical priest, to them.
I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: I will make perfect and complete. In the prophet it is ytrkw I will strike or cut, because in covenant-making the sacrifices were cut asunder; and thence is it transferred figuratively, to signify covenant-making. A covenant, for form and manner of administration, second, later, better, stronger, and more excellent than the Mosaical; such as should be effectual to God’s saving ends in the ministry of Christ, with the whole seed of Jacob, the visible church of God, when the prophet wrote this, divided into two kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and that of Israel removed afar off by the Assyrian, and seemingly lost, but by this covenant to be made one people again, and to be saved by Christ, David their King, Jeremiah 23:5,6 Eze 37:21-28.
Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.The Spirit proceedeth to show the form of the covenant denied.
Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers; not the same covenant for habit or form, nor any like unto the same for the manner of its administration, as was made by the Lord with the Hebrews their progenitors, when they were strangers in Egypt, and under great bondage there.
In the day when I took them by the hand; the day that I laid my hand on them, and took hold of theirs, even the last day of the four hundred and thirty years foretold to Abraham, Genesis 15:13,16; compare Exodus 12:40,41; as a father takes hold of his child to pluck it out of danger. It is a metaphor setting out God’s special act of providence, in their miraculous deliverance out of Egypt, keeping them in his hand, while he was smiting their enemies; setting them at liberty, and then striking covenant with them, and binding them by it to be his obedient people, as such redemption mercy did deserve. At which time the covenant was unlike the promise or gospel one for external habit and form only, as carried on by a ceremonial law and priesthood, over which Christ’s was to have the pre-eminency for power and efficacy of administration.
Because they continued not in my covenant; these unbelieving Hebrews, under that administration of the covenant, continued not faithful to it, as by their own word and consent they bound themselves to it, but apostatized from God and his truth, Deu 5:27. The word used by the prophet Nrph signifieth the breaking and making void the covenant. The administration of it did not hold them in close to God, but they frustrated all God’s ordinances, turned idolaters, forsook the Lord, and worshipped the gods of the nations round about.
And I regarded them not; hmelhsa, I took no care of them, I did neither esteem nor regard them, but cast them off from being my people for their lewd, treacherous covenant-breaking with me; they would not return unto me, and I rejected them from being my people, or a people as they were before. Who knows where the nine tribes and the half are? And in what a dispersed, shattered condition are the remaining Jews to this day! The apostle in this follows the Septuagint, who read the effect of their sin, their rejection, for what was their sin itself, which by the prophet is expressed yhleb ybzaw should I be a Lord or Husband to them; which is an aggravation of their sin from God’s dominion over them or marriage-relation to them; yet did they break his marriage-covenant with them according to their lewd and whorish heart: see Ezekiel 16:1-63,23:1-49. But in this quotation by the apostle, and translation of the Septuagint, it is a metonymy of the effect for the cause, to reject, cast off, or neglect them for their treachery to him in their marriage covenant, which was the true cause of it. The verb itself leb may signify to neglect or despise; and so Kimchi reads it, Jeremiah 3:1, and is so rendered in this place by other rabbies, and so it signifieth in other languages.
Saith the Lord: this is God’s irrevocable word, used four times by the prophet, Jeremiah 31:31-34, and three times repeated by the apostle here, as proper only to the Lord; none can speak so truly, certainly, infallibly, as he.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:For this is the covenant that I will make: for, showeth it should not be such a covenant-form as was given on Mount Sinai, it being wholly different, and that denied before, being carnal and ceremonious, full of types and shadows, and through their sin ineffectual to them. This is the firm administration of the covenant which I will strike. To which three words answer is in this scripture, I will perfect, make, and dispose; which last is the root from whence the notion of a covenant in the Greek is derived, diayhsomai.
With the house of Israel: Israel is the comprehensive name of all the twelve tribes, as Hebrews 8:8; compare Exodus 16:31 40:38; and is so used by the Lord himself Matthew 10:6, and by Peter, Acts 2:36.
After those days; in the prophet it is, after those days of their delivery from Babylon, Jeremiah 31:1,8,11,16,21, but especially when those days of the first administration of the covenant are accomplished, when the fulness of time for the Messiah’s revelation is come, Galatians 4:4. To this God again puts his seal, he saith it.
I will put my laws into their mind; the great God, the Redeemer himself the infinitely wise, and good, and powerful Spirit, who only can reach the soul, will make impressions, and write clear characters of Divine truth on it, 2 Corinthians 3:3. None can alter, new mould, frame, and temper a spirit, but him, who hath a true original right of all the good he promiseth, which he will freely, graciously dispense from himself, John 4:10,14. All the doctrines of the gospel, which include in them the moral law, as now managed by Christ, all the will of God concerning our salvation, promises, and commands; and these in their spirit and power, which God not only ratified in, but conveyed to the world by, Jesus Christ, and especially into the mind. dianoian renders the Hebrew Mbrqb the inward parts, in the prophet’s text. The mind or understanding being the innermost part of the soul, is capable of receiving impresses of Divine truth, and its characters are by it made legible to the soul; which as promised here, is so prayed for by the apostle, Ephesians 1:17,18.
And write them in their hearts: epigraqw is a metaphor setting out a real, actual, powerful work of the Spirit of Christ, which leaveth the express characters of all God’s saving mind and will upon the heart or soul as plain as writing upon paper, or engraving upon stones; such an operation of the Spirit of Christ on the souls of them, as whereby is conveyed into them a new light, life, power, so that they are made by it partakers of a Divine nature; and though they are not other faculties, yet they are quite other things than they were for qualities and operations, so as they are enabled to know, observe, and keep his laws, which are set up in authority and dominion in their souls, ruling and ordering all there, Ezekiel 11:19,20 36:26,27 2 Corinthians 3:3,8,9,10,18.
And I will be to them a God: as in the former word was the promise of conversion, regeneration, and renovation, so joined with it is the promise of adoption. In which God engageth in Christ to be to penitent believers, Romans 9:6,8, a God, i.e. the cause and author of all good, Genesis 15:1-21,17:1,7; what he is, hath, or can do for them of good, is all theirs, and himself terminating all the knowledge, faith, and worship of them. He will exercise all his wisdom, power, and goodness to deliver them from all evil, and to make them eternally happy and blessed in himself.
And they shall be to me a people; and to him this true Israel shall be a true, spiritual, eternal, adopted seed and people, partakers of all that he hath promised to them or they can desire of him; so as their name is better than the name of sons or daughters, an everlasting one, not to be cut off, Isaiah 56:5. They, as his people, attend on, witness to, and contend for, him and his glory, are always at his beck, being purchased, made, and covenanted so for his use and service, that they are not their own, but wholly at his disposal, Jeremiah 23:7 32:20 Ezekiel 11:20 37:23,27 Zec 8:8 2 Corinthians 6:16.
And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.And they shall not teach: the subject implied in the plural verb, and by a partitive particle expressed, they, and every man, is in Jeremiah’s text vya a man, even every truly covenanted one who hath the knowledge of the Lord.
And they shall teach no more, in Jeremiah 31:34. A double negative supplieth it in this verse, ou mn denying that weak and fruitless kind of teaching which was under the Mosaical covenant administration, whereby souls were not savingly edified in the knowledge of God, there was imperfection both in their knowledge and teaching, which should not be under the gospel.
Every man his neighbour; such as are nearer to each other in society or commerce, a fellow citizen; or are near by relation, by nature or alliance, by consanguinity or affinity, one near at hand, ignorant of the Lord; and that needs instruction, one capable and possible to be taught.
Saying, Know the Lord: this intimates the manner of teaching denied, a formal, customary way of teaching, saying; it was proverbial with them; and so was the matter of it: Know the Lord; as they used to say: The temple of the Lord, Jeremiah 7:4; The burden of the Lord, Jeremiah 23:34: The day of the Lord, Amos 5:18: or otherwise, not to teach them to know the Lord notionally only, without any influence on their heart, without believing, loving, fearing, or obeying him, 1Jo 2:3,4; or to teach them to know the Lord, as redeeming and delivering of them out of Egypt, or out of the land of the north, that is, bringing them back from their captivity in Babylon, as they were taught, Exodus 20:2 Jeremiah 23:7,8; but as delivering them from sin, the curse, wrath, and hell. Or, they shall not teach one another so darkly, slenderly, and imperfectly in the meaning of types, shadows, and ceremonies, that they might know the Lord in truth, and worship him according to his mind; or to take so much pains to instruct them concerning the Lord and his worship, as they took with the Gentiles when they proselyted them.
For all shall know me, from the least to the greatest; for under the gospel administration all the covenanted ones, the infant in the church and the aged, Isaiah 65:20, all ages in Christ, children, fathers, and young men, as 1Jo 2:12-14, young and old, shall have his laws put into their mind’s, and written on their hearts, the true saving knowledge of him in Christ in the fulness of it, as Isaiah 11:9: they shall so perfectly know him, as not to depart from him; he shall be theirs and they his by an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure; by the plentiful effusion of his Spirit in all the gifts and graces of it through his gospel institutions on them; they shall be so enlightened in gospel truths, that they shall know their duties, and perform them, as if they were immediately enlightened from above, rather than by the common methods of teaching by his word; that they shall not need so much cautioning, threatening, correcting as they did under the law; but shall entirely cleave to him, without a disposition to revolt.
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness: this for states the cause of all the former acts promised in the gospel covenant, as regenerating, illuminating, adopting, and God’s gracious removing all sins that might hinder the communication of these and all other good to his covenanted ones; God, in and by the administration of this covenant, ratified by his blood, propitiating him, will of his free mercy pardon, blot out, and take away, Hebrews 2:17, and thereby free them from the guilt, power, and punishment of their original and actual unrighteousness; implying his reconciliation to, and free acceptance of, their persons in Jesus Christ, on whose account it is he dealeth so graciously with them in all things, Isaiah 55:7-9 1Jo 4:9.
And their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more; all the breaches of God’s law by commissions or omissions, whatever they may be for number or for aggravation, he will always through Christ save his covenanted ones from them all, Matthew 1:21 Romans 3:21-26. All of these shall not only be for the present blotted out, but his mercy will be so great and certain through Christ, that he will neither punish them for them, nor charge them to them; he will abundantly pardon, and for ever take them away, so as if they be sought for they shall not be found, Hebrews 10:3,14 Isa 43:25 Micah 7:18,19. And when he forgets their sins, he will have their persons in everlasting remembrance, Psalm 112:6.
In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old: the inference from what was before said, Hebrews 8:8, (in the Lord’s saying this by the prophet Jeremiah, that he would make a new covenant, for form and manner of administration later and better, even the last and best he will make, and in which he will have penitent, believing sinners to acquiesce), is this: That the Mosaical one, though first in respect of the gospel, hath lost its power, strength, and vigour, its binding force; and so, by God’s instituting another, is abrogated, as useless, needless, and imperfect.
Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away; this Mosaical one, thus grown old, weak, and decrepit, and by the institution of the new gospel covenant abrogated, may continue for a while, but in no force; and so gradually moulder and decay by little and little, till it at last vanish and totally cease. It was near to it upon finishing of the ministry of the gospel High Priest on earth, when by his death he fulfilled the truth of this typical one, and so virtually nulled it; and, as to its binding force, vanished, when the gospel was published throughout the world, Romans 10:16-18; compare 2 Corinthians 5:17; as is owned by the apostolical synod, Acts 15:1-41. It was high time for these Hebrews to cease from that vanishing Mosaical one, and effectually to close with the gospel priesthood and covenant, which must remain and continue for ever; see Daniel 9:24,26,27; which if they did not, must end in the total destruction of them, their temple and city, which came to pass not many years after the apostle wrote this Epistle.