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Hebrews 6:13-9:28 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Certainty of God’s Promise

13 When God made a promise to Abraham, because he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and multiply you.” 15 And thus Abraham,[a] having patiently endured, obtained the promise. 16 Human beings, of course, swear by someone greater than themselves, and an oath given as confirmation puts an end to all dispute. 17 In the same way, when God desired to show even more clearly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it by an oath, 18 so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God would prove false, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to seize the hope set before us. 19 We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

The Priestly Order of Melchizedek

This “King Melchizedek of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham as he was returning from defeating the kings and blessed him”; and to him Abraham apportioned “one-tenth of everything.” His name, in the first place, means “king of righteousness”; next he is also king of Salem, that is, “king of peace.” Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.

See how great he is! Even[b] Abraham the patriarch gave him a tenth of the spoils. And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to collect tithes[c] from the people, that is, from their kindred,[d] though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man, who does not belong to their ancestry, collected tithes[e] from Abraham and blessed him who had received the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. In the one case, tithes are received by those who are mortal; in the other, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, 10 for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.

Another Priest, Like Melchizedek

11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the levitical priesthood—for the people received the law under this priesthood—what further need would there have been to speak of another priest arising according to the order of Melchizedek, rather than one according to the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. 13 Now the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

15 It is even more obvious when another priest arises, resembling Melchizedek, 16 one who has become a priest, not through a legal requirement concerning physical descent, but through the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is attested of him,

“You are a priest forever,
    according to the order of Melchizedek.”

18 There is, on the one hand, the abrogation of an earlier commandment because it was weak and ineffectual 19 (for the law made nothing perfect); there is, on the other hand, the introduction of a better hope, through which we approach God.

20 This was confirmed with an oath; for others who became priests took their office without an oath, 21 but this one became a priest with an oath, because of the one who said to him,

“The Lord has sworn
    and will not change his mind,
‘You are a priest forever’”—

22 accordingly Jesus has also become the guarantee of a better covenant.

23 Furthermore, the former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently he is able for all time to save[f] those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

26 For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other[g] high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests those who are subject to weakness, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.

Mediator of a Better Covenant

Now the main point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent[h] that the Lord, and not any mortal, has set up. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They offer worship in a sanctuary that is a sketch and shadow of the heavenly one; for Moses, when he was about to erect the tent,[i] was warned, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” But Jesus[j] has now obtained a more excellent ministry, and to that degree he is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted through better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need to look for a second one.

God[k] finds fault with them when he says:

“The days are surely coming, says the Lord,
    when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
    and with the house of Judah;
not like the covenant that I made with their ancestors,
    on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt;
for they did not continue in my covenant,
    and so I had no concern for them, says the Lord.
10 This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
    after those days, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their minds,
    and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
11 And they shall not teach one another
    or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
    and I will remember their sins no more.”

13 In speaking of “a new covenant,” he has made the first one obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old will soon disappear.

The Earthly and the Heavenly Sanctuaries

Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary. For a tent[l] was constructed, the first one, in which were the lampstand, the table, and the bread of the Presence;[m] this is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a tent[n] called the Holy of Holies. In it stood the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which there were a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat.[o] Of these things we cannot speak now in detail.

Such preparations having been made, the priests go continually into the first tent[p] to carry out their ritual duties; but only the high priest goes into the second, and he but once a year, and not without taking the blood that he offers for himself and for the sins committed unintentionally by the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the sanctuary has not yet been disclosed as long as the first tent[q] is still standing. This is a symbol[r] of the present time, during which gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10 but deal only with food and drink and various baptisms, regulations for the body imposed until the time comes to set things right.

11 But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come,[s] then through the greater and perfect[t] tent[u] (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), 12 he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit[v] offered himself without blemish to God, purify our[w] conscience from dead works to worship the living God!

15 For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.[x] 16 Where a will[y] is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will[z] takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Hence not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment had been told to all the people by Moses in accordance with the law, he took the blood of calves and goats,[aa] with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the scroll itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God has ordained for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent[ab] and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Christ’s Sacrifice Takes Away Sin

23 Thus it was necessary for the sketches of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves need better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; 26 for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Footnotes:

  1. Hebrews 6:15 Gk he
  2. Hebrews 7:4 Other ancient authorities lack Even
  3. Hebrews 7:5 Or a tenth
  4. Hebrews 7:5 Gk brothers
  5. Hebrews 7:6 Or a tenth
  6. Hebrews 7:25 Or able to save completely
  7. Hebrews 7:27 Gk lacks other
  8. Hebrews 8:2 Or tabernacle
  9. Hebrews 8:5 Or tabernacle
  10. Hebrews 8:6 Gk he
  11. Hebrews 8:8 Gk He
  12. Hebrews 9:2 Or tabernacle
  13. Hebrews 9:2 Gk the presentation of the loaves
  14. Hebrews 9:3 Or tabernacle
  15. Hebrews 9:5 Or the place of atonement
  16. Hebrews 9:6 Or tabernacle
  17. Hebrews 9:8 Or tabernacle
  18. Hebrews 9:9 Gk parable
  19. Hebrews 9:11 Other ancient authorities read good things to come
  20. Hebrews 9:11 Gk more perfect
  21. Hebrews 9:11 Or tabernacle
  22. Hebrews 9:14 Other ancient authorities read Holy Spirit
  23. Hebrews 9:14 Other ancient authorities read your
  24. Hebrews 9:15 The Greek word used here means both covenant and will
  25. Hebrews 9:16 The Greek word used here means both covenant and will
  26. Hebrews 9:17 The Greek word used here means both covenant and will
  27. Hebrews 9:19 Other ancient authorities lack and goats
  28. Hebrews 9:21 Or tabernacle
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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