Add parallel Print Page Options

The High Priest of a Better Covenant

Now the main point of what we are saying is this:[a] We have such a high priest, one who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,[b] a minister in the sanctuary and the true tabernacle that the Lord, not man, set up. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. So this one too had to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest, since there are already priests who offer[c] the gifts prescribed by the law. The place where they serve is[d] a sketch[e] and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary, just as Moses was warned by God as he was about to complete the tabernacle. For he says, “See that you make everything according to the design[f] shown to you on the mountain.”[g] But[h] now Jesus[i] has obtained a superior ministry, since[j] the covenant that he mediates is also better and is enacted[k] on better promises.[l]

Read full chapter


  1. Hebrews 8:1 tn Grk “the main point of the things being said.”
  2. Hebrews 8:1 sn An allusion to Ps 110:1; see Heb 1:3, 13.
  3. Hebrews 8:4 tn Grk “there are those who offer.”
  4. Hebrews 8:5 tn Grk “who serve in,” referring to the Levitical priests, but focusing on the provisional and typological nature of the tabernacle in which they served.
  5. Hebrews 8:5 tn Or “prototype,” “outline.” The Greek word ὑπόδειγμα (hupodeigma) does not mean “copy,” as it is often translated; it means “something to be copied,” a basis for imitation. BDAG 1037 s.v. 2 lists both Heb 8:5 and 9:23 under the second category of usage, “an indication of someth. that appears at a subsequent time,” emphasizing the temporal progression between the earthly and heavenly There are two main options for understanding the conceptual background of the heavenly sanctuary imagery. The first is to understand the imagery to be functioning on a vertical plane. This background is Hellenistic, philosophical, and spatial in orientation and sees the earthly sanctuary as a copy of the heavenly reality. The other option is to see the imagery functioning on a horizontal plane. This background is Jewish, eschatological, and temporal and sees the heavenly sanctuary as the fulfillment and true form of the earthly sanctuary which preceded it. The second option is preferred, both for lexical reasons (see tn above) and because it fits the Jewish context of the book (although many scholars prefer to emphasize the relationship the book has to Hellenistic thought).
  6. Hebrews 8:5 tn The word τύπος (tupos) here has the meaning “an archetype serving as a model, type, pattern, model” (BDAG 1020 s.v. 6.a). This is in keeping with the horizontal imagery accepted for this verse (see sn on “sketch” earlier in the verse). Here Moses was shown the future heavenly sanctuary which, though it did not yet exist, became the outline for the earthly sanctuary.
  7. Hebrews 8:5 sn A quotation from Exod 25:40.
  8. Hebrews 8:6 sn The Greek text indicates a contrast between vv. 4-5 and v. 6 that is difficult to render in English: Jesus’ status in the old order of priests (vv. 4-5) versus his superior ministry (v. 6).
  9. Hebrews 8:6 tn Grk “he”; in the translation the referent (Jesus) has been specified for clarity.
  10. Hebrews 8:6 tn Grk “to the degree that.”
  11. Hebrews 8:6 tn Grk “which is enacted.”
  12. Hebrews 8:6 sn This linkage of the change in priesthood with a change in the law or the covenant goes back to Heb 7:12, 22 and is picked up again in Heb 9:6-15 and 10:1-18.