Devotional Commentary on Hebrews 9

One of the surprising elements in Hebrews 9 is the anticipation of Christ’s future ministry in the Most Holy that is said in this chapter to be “not yet”. It is revealed in 9:8 by that phrase: μήπω πεφανερῶσθαι τὴν τῶν ἁγίων ὁδὸν ἔτι = “the way to the Holies [synonym for Most Holy because of plural] had not been yet revealed”. Fascinating. The Holy Spirit told Paul writing this Book, that Christ is currently active in the “first tabernacle” but not yet in the “second tabernacle”.

What any reader should clear up reading this chapter is Paul’s terminology regarding the first tabernacle and second tabernacle in particular or in part and the holistic term of the tabernacle referring to the whole structure that Moses had to build. These terms are all used in Hebrews except the outer court that is not called a tabernacle explicitly but that can be inferred as well? One term, four meanings, one a general one and two [Holy and Most Holy] explicitly only a part of the whole and a third [outer court] inferred one also just a part of the whole.  

Paul is explaining the First Covenant spiritual economy of salvation that was replaced by the New Covenant spiritual economy involving the Type that met the Antitype (8:7 and 8:8).

Paul is writing under inspiration this chapter with revelations of understanding by the Spirit of God as he is indicating in 9:8 τοῦτο δηλοῦντος τοῦ πνεύματος τοῦ ἁγίου = “This signifying the Holy Spirit”. Paul is not just calculative. The tabernacle and temple structure is explained to him as Christ functioning in heaven. But a certain part of the tabernacle is not yet functioning: the Most Holy. Why? It is not yet the end of the 2300 years of Daniel 8:14 when the Sanctuary needs to be cleansed. The High Priest, said Paul in this chapter, went into the Most Holy only once a year to collectively solve everyone’s sin-problem. One time, one day, one year in prophetic charts and that year would be a date that started the same year the Catholic Thomas Aquinas calculated for the birth of Christ 487.5 years from 457 BCE when the Ezra decree went out, the same with George Ioue who caused Tyndale’s death with their immortality dispute (Tyndale right with the ‘sleeping soul’ doctrine and Ioue wrong with the Catholic borrowed Platonic view from Republic chapter 12 taken over from Egyptians after his tour to Egypt), Luther’s calculation of Christ birth, Hugo Grotius the same and a host of others. But sadly, they did not use this winning formula identifying the birth, baptism and death of the Messiah for the start of the 2300 years in Daniel 8:14. Thus, it is not yet revealed. It took the Millerite Movement and the subsequent Adventist identification after the errorful misID that morning in 1844 to reveal the Hebrew 9 meaning to them. The Spirit revealed it to them.

Partly described, Paul talks in 9:2 of a tabernacle that was made in which was the candlestick [Franz Delitzsch said in his commentary on Hebrews Volume II, that in Moses and Herod’s temple there was only one but that in Solomon’s temple there were ten]. Also the table for the showbread [again in Moses one, in Solomon ten and in Herod one]. Paul is only describing the first section of the main building. This partly and limited zone described was called a “sanctuary” = ἥτις λέγεται Ἅγια. It is in the singular.

Two veils are in this main building, the first to enter this sanctuary and a second veil that separated the second zone or “second tabernacle” called “Holy of Holies” = ἡ λεγομένη Ἅγια Ἁγίων (9:3).

This is where the ark and table of commandments were, the Cherubim, the mercy seat, the golden pot with manna and the rod of Aaron, all gold (9:4). Delitzsch went into a long discussion to explain the mercy-seat and how the angels stood on each side of the mercy-seat and that the throne of God’s presence was on this seat separating from the tables of the Law beneath which is “justice” so that in the Most Holy cleansing activity once a year the High Priest with the sprinkling of the blood over it resulted in “justice and mercy kissing each other” as the Psalmist said. All this is in Delitzsch, not happy with the explanations of his church and translations of Jerome, Luther, Calvin and others. If he had joined Adventism his headache would have been solved quickly. Uriah Smith, Albion Ballenger, Milian Andreasen did already studied Hebrews by the time Delitzsch wrote his commentary. One should also mention Stephen Haskell. Ballenger’s view was a departure but Smith and Andreasen were coherent.

To summarize: the first tabernacle = Holy/sanctuary. The second tabernacle = Holy of Holies.

It was 9:5 that had scholars in a flat spin. The mercy seat with cherubim “of which we cannot now speak particularly” = περὶ ὧν οὐκ ἔστιν νῦν λέγειν κατὰ μέρος. A literal translation may be: “Concerning which it is not now able to speak according to part”. Why? Delitzsch thought that Paul did not want to elaborate on the theology of the mercy-seat over the law at this point as he [Delitzsch] himself did in his commentary on Hebrews. He compared for example the mercy-seat and throne of God on it with Ezechiel’s vision of the firmament as a wagon top with the throne of God on that. William Shea had a very good description of Ezechiel’s wagon of God sitting on His vehicle on His way to the Investigative Judgment (if you do not have Shea’s works order it from any Adventist Bookstore).

The ordination of the service is in the process of being divided, said Paul in 9:6. Hang-on, that is not what the KJV is reading: “now when these things were thus ordained” = Τούτων δὲ οὕτως κατεσκευασμένων. Stop. Delitzsch already noticed some dilemma here. 9:2 used the same word but as a verb “was made”. Here in verse 6 it is a particle, meaning an ongoing present constructing work (so Delitzsch, Hebrews Volume II page 63). KJV is reading a verb not a participle. Correct thus since the nuance is important. Christ is in process in the Heavenly Sanctuary and the work is not completed. It is ongoing and the function of the Antitype is in process fulfilling the Type of the first covenant. The Book of Hebrews use of “once and for all” does not mean His sanctuary work is “once and for all” punctiliar in 31 CE. His death was once and for all and is not to be repeated. His work for salvation is non-stop 24/7. The earthly one “was made” but the heavenly one “is still in process of functioning/construction”. Said Delitzsch: “the perfect participle certainly implies that this arrangement is contemplated as still continuing. . . .” Why is it still continuing? In 57 CE Christ was still active as priest in the first tabernacle. But was Christ not seen in 34 CE at the end of the 490 years since 457 of Ezra as Daniel 9:24-27 predicted, as sitting on the throne with His father which Delitzsch and above indicated is on the mercy seat in the Most Holy in which He did not enter yet? Is this not a conflict of ideas here? Answer: God’s throne is not static. It moves as Ezechiel supra by Delitzsch and Shea also indicated. The throne on the wagon moved for the judgment to start in 1844 in the Most Holy which is still at distance in 57 CE while Paul is writing this Book and while Christ is still working in the first tabernacle heading for the second tabernacle as High Priest and the throne moving together to the Most Holy.

God willed it that only the priest went in the first tabernacle every day [literal: “throughout entering ones the priests”] but in the second tabernacle only the High Priest went in once a year = εἰς δὲ τὴν δευτέραν ἅπαξ τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ μόνος ὁ ἀρχιερεύς (9:7).

Paul is describing the earthly services here but notice the fluctuation to the heavenly in the participle used in 9:6 as mentioned above and the fluctuation to the Holy Spirit that revealed that the Most Holy service has not started yet in heaven in 9:8 meaning the service mentioned in 9:7 in the Holy of Holies = hinted as εἰς δὲ τὴν δευτέραν = but into the second [tabernacle].

Scholars missed the ramifications of this great doctrine here. Why? It was not yet revealed. Revelation 14:6ff. was the three angels messages to blow in 1844 at the end of the 2300 years of Daniel calculating from 457 BCE following the interpretation methods of Catholic scholars and Reformers and even Jewish Rabbis on the last date and the year-day principle in prophecy. Unfortunately they put the pens of the year-day principle to quickly down and did not carry the task fully in completion to the other time periods in Daniel. “The Holy Spirit this signifying that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest” (9:8).

In verse 9:9 Paul wants to stress that it was just a figure or symbolic of what was purportedly to happen with Christ in heaven as the real eternal lasting action involving all potential humanity. It was just a figure or parable: ἥτις παραβολὴ εἰς τὸν καιρὸν τὸν ἐνεστηκότα = “which [tabernacle was a] parable unto the time that He is standing in”. Although we describe the priest’s work as prefiguring Christ it is just the other way around. Christ’s functions in the Heavenly Sanctuary were prefigured by the actions of the priests in the earthly temple. Scholars may have missed this nuance here. De Wette: “Which parable is for the present time”. Jerome: “a parable of the time just at hand”. Delitzsch: “The which (tabernacle) is a parable for the time now present”. He interpreted it further in his long discussion: “a parable designed to last till the present time, and no longer.”

The word is coming from the verb “stand”. Of course, derivative figurative meanings are pulled out of it like “be present”. The preposition has it literally: “stand in”. Christ our High Priest is standing in the first tabernacle when Paul wrote here and He is referred to by τὸν ἐνεστηκότα. The definite article added made it an object or person or in our case, Person [Christ our High Priest]. Admittedly it can be an adjective added to “period” to make it “present time”. But the verbal root in the nominal use of the perfect here can refer to actions of a person as well. It is in this sense that my translation is reaching out for. One can see it in τὸν λατρεύοντα “him that did the service” in the same verse. There is a correlation here so that τὸν ἐνεστηκότα and τὸν λατρεύοντα should be translated with the same methods: “He that stood in” and “he that did the service”.

The imperfect conscience service is elaborated upon by Paul as consisting in “only upon food and drink and different washings, fleshly ordinances until pressed upon time of reformation/improvement/new order [see Sakae Kubo 227]. = μόνον ἐπὶ βρώμασιν καὶ πόμασιν καὶ διαφόροις βαπτισμοῖς, δικαιώματα σαρκὸς μέχρι καιροῦ διορθώσεως ἐπικείμενα (9:10).

By Luke, the companion author of Paul in Acts 24:2, the same word for “reformation” is used in explaining that worthy deeds came as a result of that ruler. Christ is thus the Worthy One that would change the situation about the imperfect conscience regarding food, drink, washings, fleshly ordinances and services the like.

Christ is this reformation “pressed upon” Who came in time announced by Daniel 9:24-27 calculating from 457 BCE until 490 years later exactly. Χριστὸς δὲ παραγενόμενος ἀρχιερεὺς τῶν γενομένων ἀγαθῶν διὰ τῆς μείζονος καὶ τελειοτέρας σκηνῆς οὐ χειροποιήτου, τοῦτ’ ἔστιν οὐ ταύτης τῆς κτίσεως (9:11).

Herod’s temple was still a great beauty when these words were written thus Paul could say that Christ’s temple is better not compared to “this construction/creation” τοῦτ’ ἔστιν οὐ ταύτης τῆς κτίσεως.

In 9:11 Paul said that “Christ being come an High Priest of good coming things” = Χριστὸς δὲ παραγενόμενος ἀρχιερεὺς τῶν γενομένων ἀγαθῶν is really a reference to both present (31 CE and later) things coming in succession daily but also in future an event. The first reading is that of the Old Latin and Peshitta or Syriac translation as well but the second reading is that of Jerome in his Vulgate using a different Greek word indicating “future good things”. In reality both can be found in the text since 1844 is a good thing to come for the people of God in the Investigative Judgment to commence in that year which the Holy Spirit sees as not yet the time in 9:8.

Christ entered once = ἐφάπαξ into the holy place or εἰς τὰ ἅγια (9:12). Does that mean He will not enter in the second tabernacle? No. He died once = άπαξ on the cross or the altar in the outer court. His blood is shed once = άπαξ. He entered into the Holy or first tabernacle once = ἐφάπαξ and in the future time the Holy Spirit will reveal at the end of the 2300 years period of Daniel 8:14 He was to enter once = ἐφάπαξ again, if one can read into 9:8 these meanings.

By now it is clear that the semantics of άπαξ = “once” used in Hebrews does not all belong to 31 CE. Dying on the cross and entering heaven was separated by a couple of days so that “once” occurred on two different occasions de facto. That is why scholars rebuttal of the Sanctuary Message or Investigative Judgment in 1844 rests on a wrong understanding of the word “once” = άπαξ in the Book of Hebrews besides other preteristic presuppositions in their baggage of hermeneutics.

He obtained eternal redemption before He entered into the tabernacle (9:12) = εἰσῆλθεν ἐφάπαξ εἰς τὰ ἅγια αἰωνίαν λύτρωσιν εὑράμενος.

The excellence of Christ is then presented in a series of descriptions. Christ offered Himself (9:14). He did this through the eternal Spirit = διὰ πνεύματος αἰωνίου. He is sinless/ offered Himself without spot to God = ἑαυτὸν προσήνεγκεν ἄμωμον τῷ θεῷ (9:14). The concept of “through the eternal Spirit” had scholars running. Arminius and similar trends wanted to claim it is the Holy Spirit assisting the believer to great heights as was the case here with Christ. Delitzsch tried to combat this interpretation of contemporaries like De Wette in his own time, by saying it is not the Holy Spirit and His assistance but some kind of innate personality of Christ “this the inward being of Christ is called here eternal Spirit because absolute, divine, and purely self-determined” (Delitzsch page 96). Just as Christ and His Father is one so the Holy Spirit and Christ is one. There may be in each one of them a self-determined spirit that is independent of the Holy Spirit not in function or purpose but in essence but that is speculation that we cannot enter in. They may all be more intertwined than we imagine.

Christ is doing this economy of salvation “they which are called might receive the promise of internal inheritance” = τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν λάβωσιν οἱ κεκλημένοι τῆς αἰωνίου κληρονομίας (9:15). All are called but not all are responding properly. Selective calling is out of the picture here as is the predestination concepts of TULIP of the Calvinistic Orthodoxy of Theodore Bezae et al. Why would Christ asked His disciples to preach the gospel unto the whole world and make disciples when there is a selective calling and saving action?

From verses 16-22 Paul is explaining the role of sprinkling blood as ratification of a testament and how all the furniture and people were also consecrated thus. He wants to get to the concept that Christ did exactly that with His own blood shedding.

The realities on earth was just patterns of realities in Heaven (9:23). Better sacrifices than these on earth is that of Christ.

Christ did not enter into a handmade structure but in heaven itself before the presence of God in the first tabernacle = ἅγια which is the Antitype of the true ones = ἀντίτυπα τῶν ἀληθινῶν (9:24). Looking at the message of Hebrews, Christ as sanctuary in Heaven Priest is the Antitype and Moses’ tabernacle is the Type. Here is the apparent enigma that Christ did not enter the Antitype of the true one in heaven. The problem is solved when one realize that the phrase ἀντίτυπα τῶν ἀληθινῶν belongs to what follows and not what is before. One almost want to argue that Paul should have placed the ἀλλ’ εἰς αὐτὸν τὸν οὐρανόν, before ἀντίτυπα τῶν ἀληθινῶν but that is not necessary for the Greek mind. They understood that one can “scoop-up” prior phrases into the main sentence as accessories explaining or elaborating in the main sentence what “heaven” mean. There is thus no enigma here. Moses’ structure is not a true Antitype. The Antitype is the presence of God or heaven.

The English Dictionaries indicate that Antitype is the original and Type is the copy of the original. Delitzsch has it the other way around. Antitype is the copy and Type is the original. However, his explanation is not totally correct. Moses copied his Type from a pattern that he was shown of the original. The type was not the original. That which stands in the place of the Type is called the Antitype. Thus, the original reality. So terminologically one may row the boat for a while until all understand what they are saying. Fact is, the Tabernacle on earth was a copy of the original in heaven. Paul called in chapter 9 the first tabernacle a parable. There is not much difference between a parable and a Type. A parable is definitely not an antitype. When one says that the Antitype is a copy of the original one means that the reality of the Type as we experience it analogia entis is not really the original reality. It is a copy of what is a reality in heaven or the Antitype. Some got carried away with the reasoning: Antichrist is the fake of the true Christ, thus Antitype is the fake copy of the true original which is the Type.

In 9:24 the heavenly sanctuary is called the Antitype but Delitzsch thought is was referring to Moses’ tabernacle. That is how he interpreted it but I differ here. If something was copied from a pattern of the original in heaven then the heavenly-one is the original and the Type the copy. The Antitype cannot be the copy or the Type. It must be the original again for it reverts back to where it came from.

οὐ γὰρ εἰς χειροποίητα εἰσῆλθεν ἅγια Χριστός, ἀντίτυπα τῶν ἀληθινῶν, ἀλλ’ εἰς αὐτὸν τὸν οὐρανόν, νῦν ἐμφανισθῆναι τῷ προσώπῳ τοῦ θεοῦ ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν (9:24).

The other difference with the earthly sanctuary is that in the heavenly sanctuary Christ offered Himself only once, not daily (9:25).

But Christ did not suffer and died many times since Adam and Eve and the Fall but only once in 31 CE. This once = ἅπαξ is when He suffered and died. The phrase ἐπὶ συντελείᾳ τῶν αἰώνων εἰς ἀθέτησιν [τῆς] ἁμαρτίας διὰ τῆς θυσίας αὐτοῦ πεφανέρωται = “upon the end of the ages had He appeared in order to take away sins through the sacrifice of Himself”. This is how it works. Does it mean that Paul is saying “now [νυνὶ] is “the end of the ages” = ἐπὶ συντελείᾳ τῶν αἰώνων? Christ sacrifice was in 31 CE and Paul is writing [νυνὶ] in 57 CE. Two time zones. Thus the end of the ages is the eschaton appearance of Christ. A third time zone. At that time He will have accomplished the Most Holy task as well and then sin is removed because the High Priestly role of the Day of Atonement is also done and the sanctuary “cleansed” in heaven.

Certain divine appointments were made: that all humans die. Secondly, that all humans must be judged. The faithful first in the Investigative Judgment so that they can get their reward at the Second Coming. καὶ καθ’ ὅσον ἀπόκειται τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ἅπαξ ἀποθανεῖν, μετὰ δὲ τοῦτο κρίσις = and according to this it is appointed to men once to die but after this judgment [Investigative for faithful but Executive later for unfaithful] (9:27).

Christ was offered once bearing the sins of many. Those who choose to look for Him and be worthy of the price He paid for them, He shall appear the second time at the Second Advent “without sin [dealing]” unto salvation [as reward].

οὕτως καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς ἅπαξ προσενεχθεὶς εἰς τὸ πολλῶν ἀνενεγκεῖν ἁμαρτίας ἐκ δευτέρου χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας ὀφθήσεται τοῖς αὐτὸν ἀπεκδεχομένοις εἰς σωτηρίαν (9:28).


Dear God

As Christ our High Priest are now going over the Books of the Faithful in the Investigative Judgment, help us to grow in sanctuary closer to You in character in this last phase of earth’s history. Amen.