Skip to Main Content

Hebrews 9:11-15 NOTES

Heb. 9:11-15 - EXEGESIS (Donovan) 

CONTEXT:  The author identified neither himself nor the people to whom he was writing.  However, the content of the book, including the frequent references to the Hebrew Scriptures, makes it clear that he was writing to Jewish Christians who were sorely tempted to leave the Christian church and revert to Jewish worship.  The author spends the first ten and a half chapters of this thirteen chapter book (1:1 - 10:18) emphasizing the superiority of Christ and the new covenant to Moses and the old covenant.

In Hebrews 4:14 - 5:14, the author emphasized the superiority of Jesus the high priest over the high priests of Aaronic descent.  In 5:5-7, 10, he cited scripture to show that Jesus was God's Son (in a sense that Aaron was not)--and that Jesus belonged, not to the order of Aaron but of Melchizedek--making Jesus "a priest forever" (5:6).  In chapter 6, the author warned of the peril of falling away (6:1-12) and the certainty of God's promise (6:13-20).  In chapter 7, he returned to the theme of the priestly order of Melchizedek--how great Melchizedek was (7:4-10), and the significance of another priest like Melchizedek (Jesus) arising (7:11ff.).

In chapter 8, he emphasized Christ as the mediator of a better covenant.  Now in 9:11-14, he contrasts the limited effects of the Jewish high priest's ministry with the unlimited effects of Christ's high priestly ministry.



11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.


"But Christ having come as a high priest of the coming good things" (v. 11a).  "Having come" is the Greek aorist, showing an accomplished action--Christ has already come as a high priest.

 ▪ Christ comes dispensing "good things," but the author doesn't define those.  Given that the tabernacle was the dwelling place of God and the place where the high priest observed the Day of Atonement, those good things surely include the forgiveness of sins.


"through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, (Greek:  skene) not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation" (v. 11b).  This Greek word, skene, was the word used in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) for the tabernacle (see also Acts 7:44; Hebrews 9:2-3, 21; 13:10).

▪ The tabernacle was a tent that accompanied the Israelites wherever they went in their forty-year trek in the wilderness. The tabernacle was the place where the Israelites made their daily offerings.  They understood the tabernacle (specifically the Holy of Holies) to be the dwelling place of God.  The temple was the successor to the tabernacle once the Israelites established themselves in the Promised Land.

▪ The author of Hebrews has assured us that Jesus is our high priest--and the true tent (skene) "that the Lord, and not any mortal, has set up" (Hebrews 8:2).  He further notes that the tent erected by Moses in the wilderness was but "a sketch and shadow of the heavenly one" (Hebrews 8:5).

▪ Now the author notes that, unlike the tabernacle that accompanied the Israelites in the wilderness, the "more perfect tabernacle" where Christ abides is not made by hands--is "not of this creation"--is not of this world that we currently inhabit.


"nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood" (v. 12a).   Having contrasted the wilderness tabernacle of old with the perfect tabernacle of Christ, the author goes on to contrast "the blood of goats and calves" with Christ's "own blood."

Christ's blood is superior in two ways:

  • First, Christ's blood grants access to the hagios. This term is ambiguous. The tabernacle was composed of two chambers, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies or the Most Holy Place.  The Holy Place was open to the ministry ordinary priests, and was separated by a veil from the Holy of Holies--the dwelling place of God.  Only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies, and only on the Day of Atonement.

When Solomon built the first temple, it replaced the tabernacle as the dwelling place of God.  When Jesus died, the veil of the temple was torn, symbolizing the open access to Christ's people to the presence of God (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38).

In this verse, then, it seems likely that the author means the Holy of Holies when he uses the word hagios.

  • Second, the ministration of the high priest in the earthly tabernacle on the Day of Atonement had to be repeated each year. There was a temporary quality to the high priest's work. That was not true of Christ, who "obtained eternal redemption."

"entered in once for all into the Holy Place, (Greek:  hagios) having obtained eternal redemption" (Greek: lytrosis) (v. 12b).  The Jewish high priest was allowed into the Holy of Holies only once a year, on the Day of Atonement.  His work there was temporal and required renewal annually.  But Christ entered into the Holy of Holies once for all.  His work on the cross needs not be repeated.

▪ Redemption involves bringing liberty to a captive, usually through the payment of a price.  Levitical law required Israelites to buy back (redeem) a family member who had been forced to sell himself into slavery (Leviticus 25:47-49).  It also required them to buy back (redeem) family land that had fallen into other hands due to poverty (Leviticus 25:25, 33).  The New Testament presents Jesus' death on the cross as a redemptive act for humanity--as a "ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).  Paul speaks of "the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:24).  He tells us that "we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace" (Ephesians 1:7)--and that Jesus Christ is the one "in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:14).



13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?


"For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify to the cleanness of the flesh" (v. 13).  This verse sets up another comparison:  The blood of goats and bulls (typical of the tabernacle/temple sacrifices) versus "the blood of Christ" (v. 14).


"how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (v. 14).  The "blood of Christ" is superior to "the blood of goats and bulls," which offered ritual cleansing to those who were defiled.  While the sacrifices of the tabernacle/temple cleansed the guilty party, that cleansing was temporal and limited in its effect.  It had to be repeated regularly, and would not grant access to the Holy of Holies.

▪ Just as sacrificial animals had to be without blemish, so also Jesus was without blemish--without sin.  There were differences.  Jesus offered himself as a voluntary sacrifice--not true of the sacrificial animals.  Also, Jesus' sacrifice cleanses "conscience from dead works," freeing us to serve God without a burdened conscience.


Heb. 9:11-15 - EXEGESIS (Richison)

CONTEXT:  In general, Hebrews chapter 9 explains how the old covenant included various physical locations and physical rituals. These, according to the writer of Hebrews, were always intended as symbols. Their details, and the drawbacks which they suffered from, were meant to point towards the ''true'' means of our redemption, which is Christ. Unlike animal sacrifices, which must be repeated, and which cannot change man on the inside, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is a once for all, permanent, and completely effective solution to sin. The fact that Christ died for sin only once also means that His next arrival, in the future, will not be as a sacrifice, but as the final fulfillment of God's plan.  Hebrews 9:1-10 explains how the rooms and artifacts of the temple were only meant as symbols. In fact, those items were specifically intended to show how the old covenant could not remove the barrier between God and man. The use of external rituals can only assuage feelings of guilt, it cannot actually remove sin or change a person's nature. The existence of the curtains, separating men from the holy places, is also symbolic of how the old covenant leaves us apart from God. This sets up a comparison, in the following passage, showing how Christ's sacrifice fulfills those symbols and achieves a perfection of our relationship with God.  Hebrews 9:11-28 continues to explain how the new covenant in Jesus Christ is superior to the old covenant. This passage focuses on two main advantages of this arrangement: that Christ serves in a better temple, and that Christ offers a superior sacrifice. The physical temple, and its implements, were meant to be symbols of Christ's ''true'' place of service in heaven. Unlike limited sacrifices of animals, Jesus' single death was able to completely save us from sin.

v. 11: But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; - Since the Old Testament anticipated a better or New Covenant (He 8:7--13), we see in verses 11-15 the superiority of Christ, Mediator of the New Covenant, as our High Priest. The sacrificial death of Christ marked the beginning of the New Covenant, of which He is the Mediator.

But - The "but" here makes a contrast to Old Testament rituals that could not make the believer's conscience "perfect" (He 9:9). Christ's finished work on the cross as our High Priest resolved that problem. Now the author deals with what is real rather than what is symbolically anticipated.

Christ [the Messiah] came as High Priest - The name "Christ" is a title for the Messiah. He "came" or arrived in the presence of God to minister as our High Priest. This refers to His ministry in heaven. We now have access to our Priest-King in glory.

of the good things to come,  - T he "good things" refer to the new privileges whereby the believer can relate to God through Jesus' death and resurrection. They are the redemption privileges we have in Christ.

with [in connection with] the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands - This "tabernacle" is heaven itself. It is where Christ went into the presence of God as High Priest. No mere human being could construct a tabernacle like this. God constructed this tabernacle; it was no human building.

that is, not of this creation - Christ's role as High Priest links with the heavenly tabernacle, not the earthly material order. The place where our Lord conducts His work as High Priest shows the nature of His work. He did not function in the type but in the antitype of heaven itself.

PRINCIPLE:  Our perfect High Priest serves in a perfect heaven to make perfect those who believe.

APPLICATION:  Christians today can function within the realm of the new dimension Christ created for us.

We operate in this dimension in the realm of our spirits (Jn 4:24; Eph 2:6; 1 Co 6:17). One day, we will live in a body "not made with human hands" (2 Co 5:1); that is, the resurrection body.  Christ's sacrifice was effective in paying for sins. Israel's sacrifices were only ceremonial; the atonement sacrifice only covered sins and did not remove them like Christ did. Christ's ministry was superior because it was spiritual, not material.

v. 12: and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.  - Verse 12 speaks of Christ's means of entry into the eternal Most Holy Place. The blood of atonement was the difference between life and death when entering God's presence.

Not with the blood of goats and calves, - Sacrifice on the Day of Atonement involved a bull and two goats. One goat was kept alive as the scapegoat.

but with [through, Greek dia, not "with"] His own [unique] blood - The word "with" marks the means whereby Jesus paid for our sins. Blood was not the mode of His entrance into Heaven. The earthly high priest of Israel took blood into the Holy of Holies; Christ, however, entered the Presence of God "through His own blood" (dia) but not with His material blood. Christ's sacrifice was one of blood (He 9:7). He shed that blood at Calvary. He did not take His blood to Heaven. Jesus shed His blood to the point of death. By this blood we have the right to enter Heaven (He 9:14; 10:19, 29; 13:20).

 ▪ Our Lord presented Himself, not His blood, upon entering the presence of God (He 9:24). The word "own" means unique. It goes beyond the idea of ownership and implies personal, private or unique ownership. The Father was the Son's "unique" Father (Jn 5:18); that is, He claimed unique Sonship to the Father. That is why they wanted to kill Him. The efficacy of the Lord's blood was not simply that it was human blood but that it came from a sinless person. That is the only blood that could pay for the sin of the world. He did not take that blood to heaven but, when He went, He represented One who sacrificed Himself for sin; He personally took the penalty of sin on the cross.


He entered the Most Holy Place once for all,  - Christ entered Heaven or the presence of God "once for all." The high priest in the Old Testament went into the Holy of Holies annually, but Our Lord went into God's presence once and never needed to gain that access again. His single sacrifice was enough, so there was no need for any further sacrifice. It was His own blood that made the difference.

▪ The emphasis here is on the words "once for all." The writer uses the word "once" in chapters 9 and 10 to show the finality of Christ's work on the cross. The contrast is between the ongoing, recurring, and symbolic sacrifices of Israel and that of the one final sacrifice of Christ on the cross.


having obtained eternal redemption.  -  Shed blood was necessary before one could enter the Most Holy Place of the Old Testament. Christ obtained "eternal redemption" for the believer, since His sacrifice was once for all. "Eternal redemption" stands in stark contrast to sacrifices of the Old Testament, whether annually on the Day of Atonement or the daily sacrifices. His redemption was "eternal," not temporary like in the OT.

▪ The word "obtained" means to find, come upon, discover. Jesus procured our redemption in fact. He did this by taking our guilt and penalty for sin. God's justice was satisfied by His shed blood.

"Redemption" is the price paid for sin; the word means ransom. It carries the idea of liberation of a captive.

▪ The word "redemption" means to deliver a person from the bondage of the penalty of sin. Jesus paid a price for permanently liberating Christians from their sins. This word was used of ransom money paid to free a slave. Jesus freed the believer from the penalty of sin. He liberated us by a price, by His blood sacrifice. He did this in an "eternal" sense. He paid it once for all, for eternity.

PRINCIPLE:  Christians possess eternal liberation from their sin.

APPLICATION:  Christians are free from the eternal penalty for their sin. Christ's sacrifice for our sin is immeasurable. No animal sacrifice can compare to the sacrifice of Christ for our sin. Jesus paid a perfect ransom price because it was a once-for-all sacrifice. His sacrifice was complete and unrepeatable because it was "eternal." No one needs to pay for sins again (He 7:27; 10:10). He offers eternal redemption for our souls.Our great High Priest takes us right into the Holy of Holies; that is, God's very presence. We are seated with Christ in the heavenlies (Eph 2:4-6). Our citizenship is in heaven (Php 3:20).

v. 13: For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh,   

For - The word "for" gives the grounds for the blood of Christ obtaining eternal redemption.

if (assumed true)  -  The "if" here begins a lesser-to-greater argument. The conclusion is found in the next verse. The contrast is between ceremonial cleansing and the ultimate cleansing by Christ.

the blood of bulls and goats - Thus, the argument here is from the lesser to the greater. If the blood of animal sacrifices can make people ceremonially clean, how much more (He 9:14) did Christ's blood deal with our personal sin?

and the ashes of a heifer - The phrase "ashes of a heifer" refers to the ritual cleansing of those who physically contacted a dead body (Nu 19).

sprinkling the unclean - The "unclean" here are ceremonially unclean Israelites. Ceremonial defilement demanded a ritual that did not cleanse from sin per se but was a type of cleansing from sin. This ceremony was always available and not just on the Day of Atonement. It was a ritual cleansing or ceremonial cleansing from defilement of touching a dead body. Old Testament sacrifices could only ceremonially cleanse people.

sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh - Old Covenant rituals made the individual only ceremonially clean. It was an outward cleansing of the "flesh" or ritual defilement. This had to do with preparation for worship in the nation Israel. The purifying of the flesh here is not the spiritual cleansing of eternal redemption. One is bodily cleansing and the other spiritual and eternal cleansing.

v. 14: how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

how much more shall the blood of Christ - The blood of Christ can do "much more;" it is superior to any other sacrifice. Animal sacrifice could cleanse only ceremonial defilement. There is a contrast here between ceremonial cleansing and the true and eternal cleansing that Christ offered.

who through the eternal Spirit -  The "eternal Spirit" here is the Holy Spirit. All three members of the Trinity are involved in redemption. Christ as a member of the Trinity consented to give His life to redeem those who would believe on Him. This was a decision made in eternity past in God's eternal counsel. It was a decision of eternal nature to die for mankind.

offered Himself  - Animals of Old Testament sacrifice did not offer themselves; they went involuntarily to the sacrifice. Christ's sacrifice was antitypical in the sense that He sacrificed Himself voluntarily. Animals sacrificed had no decision in their sacrifice. They did not concur with the giving up of their lives; there was no consent to their sacrifice. Christ offered Himself; it was a matter of His consent. Jesus said that "no one takes my life from me, I lay it down of myself." His sacrifice was voluntary because He "offered Himself."

without spot [unblemished] to God - Christ's person had no blemish, much more so than the lamb without blemish in the Old Testament (He 4:15; 7:26; 1 Pe 1:19). Jesus' sacrifice was spotless or without sin in His life.

cleanse your conscience - "Conscience" is our ability to distinguish between right and wrong. This word is used five times in Hebrews (He 9:9, 14; 10:2, 22: 13:18). Old Testament believers cleansed only the outward physical or ceremonial aspect of man whereas Christ cleansed the inner man.

from dead works - "Dead works" separate a person from God. These "dead works" are probably Levitical rituals. Rituals can never impart spiritual life (He 6:1). It is completely improper to return to rituals when Christ has once for all paid for sins.

to serve the living God? - A "living God" requires living worship and service (Jn 4:24; Ro 12:1-2). God is "living" because He is eternal.

PRINCIPLE:  Christ's sacrifice should affect the way we serve God.

APPLICATION:  Christ's sacrifice has infinite value because of the unblemished sacrifice of Himself. Levitical sacrifice acted as formal ritualistic expiation, but Christ cleansed the inner person. Dead works of ritual cannot do what our Lord did.  The result of Christ's death in contrast to animal sacrifices was spiritual, not ceremonial. Whatever sacrifices under Israel were, they were temporary. The sacrifice of Christ through the eternal Spirit was permanent.  God is neither unhappy nor angry with us, because Christ offered Himself unblemished to the Father in our place. God's justice makes no further demands on us (Ro 8:1). Christ's sacrifice removed our guilt from sin.

v. 15: For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.  

The death of Christ was the inaugurating act of the New Covenant. His entrance into the presence of God was the consummation of His once-for-all sacrifice to complete our redemption (He 9:24, 27, 28).

The New Covenant provides both redemption and an inheritance for the believer.

And for this reason - "For this reason" expresses a conclusion. There is a link between Christ's ministry and the New Covenant. The New Covenant completes and fills out the Old Covenant. Christ's death is core to its purpose. There is a definite link between the ministry of Christ and His covenant.

 He is the Mediator of the new covenant - Christ is the Mediator of the New Covenant. This New Covenant is that of Jeremiah 31. He can make mediation because He offered Himself as the ultimate sacrifice. A mediator is someone who intervenes between two parties. Here our Lord mediates between God and man (1 Ti 2:5). He is our go-between. He pleads His death on the cross on our behalf. He removed any obstacle between us and God.  The person of Christ gives efficacy to His work ; it gives validity to the New Covenant. His work finds its efficacy in His person.

by means of death - The New Covenant was inaugurated by the death of Christ. A covenant in the Old Testament was normally ratified by animal sacrifice. A dead animal was symbolic of the person who offered the sacrifice not changing its mind; he could never take an action contrary to the agreement.

for the redemption of the transgressions - Christ redeemed all men of all time who would accept His call (Jn 8:36; Ga 3:13). The power of Christ's redemption brought about the New Covenant. The New Covenant makes the Old effective. It has an effect retrospectively. Everyone who came to faith in the Old Testament was saved by the blood of Christ.

 ▪ The work of Christ on the cross was retrospective, covering the sins of Old Testament saints as well as sinners of every generation. Levitical sacrifices were prospective, looking forward to the one who would permanently cleanse sinners from their sin.


under the first covenant - The "first covenant" of Moses is set in contrast to the New Covenant. Christ as Mediator of the New Covenant suggests a present aspect of His covenant. "New" and "better" stresses the superior priestly and sacrificial aspects of Christ's death on the cross (He 10:29; 12:24; 13:20). Christ is the reality that the type represents.

 ▪ Jesus not only inaugurated the New Covenant, but He consummated the Mosaic Covenant. The Old Covenant was based on the death of animals. The Father accepted the death of Christ as substitution for our sin. Although different, the covenant of Moses and that of Christ relate to each other-the old typified the new. Old Testament saints find mercy in Christ's eternal redemption.

that those who are called - The spiritual benefits of the New Covenant are for "those who are called." Those called are believers in Christ.

may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.  -  The Christian operates under the promise of eternal inheritance. The "inheritance" is the content of the promise.

 ▪ There is a retrospective aspect to the work of Christ on the cross-His sacrifice did what the old sacrifices could not do, which was to fully and finally pay for sins of all time. Old Testament saints benefited from our Lord's sacrifice.

PRINCIPLE:  Christ's death quiets the heart before God eternally.

APPLICATION:  Since Christ frees us from the consequence of sin, the believer can relax before God. If people put their faith in what Christ did on the cross, then they can rest their consciences forever.  The death of Christ was both retrospective and prospective; it looked backward as well as forward. Christ paid for the sins of Old Testament saints as well as New Testament saints (Ro 3:25,26). God was satisfied (propitiated) by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.



Heb. 9:11-15 - BibleRef 

v. 11: But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things having come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made by hands, that is, not of this creation; - Prior to this verse, the writer of Hebrews has explained that the old covenant is flawed. Not only that, but it is not God's final plan for mankind's salvation. Instead, as promised in the Scriptures, God has always intended to provide a new covenant, separate from the system of priests and sacrifices. According to the writer of Hebrews, the components of the old covenant were meant to prove their own limitations, and to symbolize the upcoming ministry of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:23-24). ▪ Most recently, the argument has been made that the physical rituals of the temple were flawed; they could only resolve ceremonial purity, and that only temporarily.  ▪ Here, however, Christ's sacrifice is shown to be superior. Jesus has already been referred to as our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16), since He fulfills all of the requirements for that office. In fact, Jesus has been described as part of a superior priesthood: that of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:15-17). Likewise, the place where Christ intercedes for us is said to be superior, since it is eternal and heavenly, instead of earthly and temporary (Hebrews 8:2). In this verse, those ideas are all summarized in the idea of Christ serving as high priest in a "more perfect tent," one in heaven instead of one made by men (Exodus 35:30-35).

v. 12: and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all time, having obtained eternal redemption. - Earlier, the writer of Hebrews compared the continual sacrifice of the temple priests with the offering a true, heavenly high priest would offer (Hebrews 7:22-28). In doing so, two separate Greek words were used. The term referring to the priests implied a present, ongoing action. The term referring to Jesus used a completed, once-for-all action. Here, that same idea is once again attached to Jesus' sacrifice. The phrases used in this verse echo the same points made earlier in Hebrews about Jesus.

▪ The earthly high priests of the old covenant offered sacrifices on a yearly basis (Hebrews 9:7), taken from mere animals, in a temporary sacrifice, including atonement for their own sins (Hebrews 7:27), which only served to assuage external factors, and could not change the hearts of men (Hebrews 9:9-10).

 ▪ The heavenly high priest of the new covenant-Jesus Christ-offered a single sacrifice, once and for all, taken from His own perfect and sinless life (Hebrews 4:15), completely saving mankind from their sins (Hebrews 7:25), changing them from the inside out (Hebrews 8:10).  

▪ Another point being made here is that animal blood can never fully atone for human sin-only the blood of a man can do that, and this is exactly what Jesus provides.  

▪ The next verses will emphasize and expand on the difference between the sacrificial blood of animals and that of Jesus. Prior emphasis was on the limitation of those animal sacrifices; as this passage continues, the emphasis will be on how Christ's blood possesses far greater power than that of any animal. 

v. 13: For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, -  The running theme of the book of Hebrews is that the new covenant, in Jesus Christ, is superior to the old covenant, represented by the priests and sacrifices of the temple. Most recently, the author pointed out how components of the temple sacrifices pointed out their own limitations, and symbolized the future ministry of Jesus. A major aspect of this is the difference between the effectiveness of the sacrifices in each covenant. In the old covenant, priests offered repeated sacrifices for sins, including their own. Christ offered a single, perfect sacrifice, without Himself having any sin to be forgiven of (Hebrews 7:26-28; Hebrews 9:12).  ▪ In verses 13 and 14, the author turns his prior argument a bit upside down. Rather than arguing the faults of old covenant sacrifices, he points out that those sacrifices did have a measure of power. They could provide ritual purity to the physical flesh. If animal blood can provide that kind of benefit to a man, the power of   Christ's blood would be immeasurable. As pointed out earlier, the old covenant could not resolve man's inner sin; the blood of Jesus can do just that.

v. 14: how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? - The old covenant sacrifices were not completely useless. They were flawed, and the writer of Hebrews makes this clear (Hebrews 8:7). However, they did serve a purpose. They served as symbols of the future ministry of Jesus Christ. And, they were able to provide a measure of purity. Of course, that purity was entirely external, ceremonial, and temporary. Animal blood, and sacrifices by sinful priests, could never permanently change the inner nature of a man. In verse 13, the author introduced the point that the blood shed by these animals had some power.

▪ Here, the blood shed by Christ is said to have the kind of power missing from that of animal sacrifices. Interestingly, the writer invokes all three persons of the Trinity when explaining how this sacrifice fulfills the entire purpose of the new covenant. God the Father can receive our service, because God the Son offers Himself as sacrifice, as guided by God the Holy Spirit. Mention is made, once again, that Jesus' life is "without blemish," a reference to His sinless life (Hebrews 4:15).  

▪ The result of the power of Jesus' sacrifice is dramatic. The "dead works" of rituals and laws left something un-resolved in our spirits. Christ's blood cleans us, spiritually, in a way those animal sacrifices never could. This is the same idea echoed in Hebrews 6:1, where attempts to be reconciled to God through deeds and rituals are also described as "dead works."

v. 15: For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the violations that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. - The writer of Hebrews has been very careful to point out that God's plan was always to provide a "new covenant" for His people. Melchizedek's priesthood is one such proof (Hebrews 7:11). God's own decree to Jeremiah is another (Hebrews 8:8-9). The flaws and drawbacks of the old covenant were not an accident; rather, those were meant, by God, to help us understand the need for the new covenant (Hebrews 8:7). In recent verses, the writer has indicated that animal sacrifices have value, but that value is limited. They can provide ritual purity, but cannot change us on the inside. Those sacrifices cannot really remove the penalty of sin. The sacrifice of Christ, on the other hand, can accomplish what those other sacrifices cannot.   

▪ This makes the new covenant the "promised eternal inheritance" which God has always intended for mankind. The original audience of this letter was persecuted Jewish Christians. This reference to inheritance reminds them that following Christ is not an abandonment of their Jewish roots. Instead, it is a fulfillment of that heritage. The sacrifice of Christ, in fact, is the event which actually provides for forgiveness of all sins-including those which occurred during the ages before His birth.   

▪ According to this passage, animal sacrifice cannot fully atone for human sin. This is one reason that the priests of the old covenant had to constantly offer sacrifices. And, a sinful human priest has to offer sacrifice for his own sin. Christ, in contrast, offers a sacrifice which is completely human, completely sinless, and completely effective in what it accomplishes.   

▪ This is one of three places in the book of Hebrews where Jesus is described using the term mediator (Hebrews 8:6; 12:24). A mediator resolves a conflict between two sides.




The superior priestly ministry 9:11-15:  The writer now focused on the issue of sacrifice.  "The argument moves a stage further as the author turns specifically to what Christ has done. The sacrifices of the old covenant were ineffectual. But in strong contrast Christ made an offering that secures a redemption valid for all eternity. In the sacrifices, a good deal pertained to the use of blood. So in accord with this, the author considers the significance of the blood of animals and that of Christ." [Note: Morris, p. 85.]   "Blood" in Scripture is frequently a metonym (a figure of speech in which one thing stands for another) for "death," particularly violent death involving bloodshed. There was nothing magical about Jesus' blood that made it a cleansing agent for sin. It was the death of Christ that saves us, not something special about His blood.  In Hebrews 9:11-14 the writer introduced Christ's high priestly ministry, which climaxes in Hebrews 9:15. Hebrews 9:16-22 are parenthetical explaining Hebrews 9:15. Then Hebrews 9:23-28 resume the discussion of Jesus' priestly ministry in heaven.  "The conception of Christ's death as a liturgical high priestly action is developed as a major argument in Hebrews 9:11-28. Prior to this point in the homily, the high priesthood tended to be linked with Christ's present activity as heavenly intercessor (cf. Hebrews 2:18; Hebrews 4:15-16; Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 8:1-2)." [Note: Lane, Hebrews 9-13, p. 235.]

v. 11: But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; - A better translation might be, "He entered in connection with the greater . . . tabernacle." Jesus Christ did not pass through heaven in the sense of going on to some other place after He arrived there. He is there now.

v. 12: and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. - Blood is also a symbol of life (Leviticus 17:11). The point is that the lives of innocent animal substitutes were sufficient only to atone for sin temporarily. However the life of Jesus Christ, because He was a perfect human substitute, adequately paid for the redemption of all people forever. Having died "once for all" (Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 10:10) He was able to enter God's presence "once for all."

  ▪ There have been expositors who, pressing the analogy of the Day of Atonement beyond the limits observed by our author, have argued that the expiatory work of Christ was not completed on the cross-not completed, indeed, until He ascended from earth and 'made atonement "for us" in the heavenly holy of holies by the presentation of His efficacious blood'.


vv. 13-14:  For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? - Old Covenant sacrifices for sin on the Day of Atonement only provided temporary cleansing, but the sacrifice of Jesus Christ provided permanent cleansing. The reference to "the eternal Spirit" is unique in Scripture. The Holy Spirit had empowered and sustained Jesus in His office.

  ▪ It seems that the writer has chosen this unusual way of referring to the Holy Spirit to bring out the truth that there is an eternal aspect to Christ's saving work." [Note: Morris, p. 87.]

  ▪ All three persons of the Trinity had a part in redemption (Hebrews 9:14). The "dead works" in view are evidently those of the Mosaic Covenant (cf. Hebrews 6:1), though some commentators take them as referring to works that result in spiritual defilement. [Note: E.g., Bruce, The Epistle . . ., pp. 206-7.] They are dead in that they did not impart spiritual life but only removed sin. Thus there is a contrast between ceremonial and conscience cleansing as well as between temporary and permanent cleansing in these verses. We should not feel conscience-bound to follow the Old Covenant in view of Jesus Christ's perfect sacrifice but should serve God under the terms of the New Covenant.

  ▪ For the author of Hebrews syneidesis [conscience] is the internal faculty within man that causes him to be painfully aware of his sinfulness and, as a result, to experience a sense of guilt." [Note: Gary S. Selby, "The Meaning and Function of Syneidesis in Hebrews 9, 10," Restoration Quarterly 28:3 (Third Quarter 1985/86):148.]

  ▪ The sacrifice that inaugurated the new covenant achieved the cleansing of the conscience that all worshipers lacked under the former covenant and that all had sought through prescribed gifts and offerings (Hebrews 10:1-2 . . .). [Note: Lane, Hebrews 9-13, p. 241.]

  ▪ The implication (which underlies all the epistle) is that even in his earthly life Jesus possessed eternal life. Hence what took place in time upon the cross, the writer means, took place really in the eternal, absolute order. Christ sacrificed himself ephapax [once for all], and the single sacrifice needed no repetition, since it possessed absolute, eternal value as the action of One who belonged to the eternal order. He died-he had to die-but only once (915-1018), for his sacrifice, by its eternal significance, accomplished at a stroke what no amount of animal sacrifices could have secured, viz. the forgiveness of sins." [Note: Moffatt, p. 124.]


v. 15: For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. - Since we have obtained "eternal redemption" (Hebrews 9:12) through the death of our Mediator and the "eternal [Holy] Spirit" (Hebrews 9:14), we can have hope in an "eternal inheritance." In contrast, believers under the Old Covenant enjoyed mainly temporary blessings and had comparatively little understanding of eschatological rewards.

  ▪ With a play on the double meaning of diatheke (both 'a covenant' and 'a testament'), the author goes on to bring out the necessity for the death of Christ just as the death of the testator is required if a will is to come into force." [Note: Morris, p. 88.]

  ▪ The readers should not feel guilty about abstaining from the rituals of the Old Covenant. Instead they should appreciate the accomplishments of Jesus Christ's death. [Note: See Rodney J. Decker, "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant," Bibliotheca Sacra 152:607 (July-September 1995):290-305; 608 (October-December 1995):431-56.] They should also turn their attention to obtaining what God had promised them as a future inheritance and continue to follow the Lord faithfully and patiently (Hebrews 6:12).

  ▪ The New Testament revelation concerning the inheritance that believers can merit by faithful perseverance in the faith and good works is extensive. Some passages indicate that it involves participation in the wedding banquet at the beginning of the messianic kingdom (e.g., Matthew 25:1-13; et al.). Others present it as involving an especially honorable resurrection (Luke 20:35). Still other passages speak of it as reigning with Christ (Matthew 19:27-28; Luke 19:17-19; Luke 22:28-30; Romans 8:17-21) or as treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21; Matthew 6:30; Matthew 19:21; Luke 12:32-33; 1 Timothy 6:17-19). It also involves receiving praise and honor from Jesus Christ and the Father (Matthew 6:1; Matthew 6:5; Matthew 6:16; Matthew 25:21; John 12:26; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Peter 1:6-7; 2 Peter 1:10-11). These honors are sometimes spoken of as crowns (Philippians 4:1; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 2 Timothy 4:6-8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Revelation 2:10; Revelation 4:9-10). [Note: See Dillow, pp. 551-83.