Hebrews 8 Commentary

A new priest and a new covenant (8:1-13)

Only once a year could the Levitical high priest enter God’s symbolic dwelling place (the Most Holy Place), but Christ the great high priest lives in the actual presence of God for ever (8:1-2). Levitical


priests offered animal sacrifices, but Christ offered himself. He did not make this offering as a Levitical priest (for he was not of the family of Aaron), but the work of the Levitical priests pictured his work. The sacrifices they offered were a picture of Christ’s sacrifice of himself (3-5).

The old priesthood failed along with the old covenant. Therefore, a new and greater priesthood is necessary for a new and greater covenant. The new priesthood is Christ’s (6-7).

God never intended the old covenant to be permanent. It was given for Israel’s benefit, but it failed to produce the promised blessings, because the people failed to obey its commandments. The new covenant cannot fail, because it depends not on people’s obedience to a set of laws, but on God’s grace in changing people from within. He gives them inner spiritual life that makes them loyal to him and enables them to do his will (8-10). Priests are no longer necessary to mediate between people and God, because all believers know God personally. They have direct fellowship with him, because he has taken away their sins (11-12).

Jeremiah made these statements about the new covenant more than six hundred years before the time of Christ (see Jer 31:31-34). This demonstrates that even in Old Testament times God showed that the old covenant was only temporary (13).

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