New English Translation
The Arrangement and Ritual of the Earthly Sanctuary
9 Now the first covenant,[a] in fact, had regulations for worship and its earthly sanctuary. 2 For a tent was prepared, the outer one,[b] which contained[c] the lampstand, the table, and the presentation of the loaves; this[d] is called the Holy Place. 3 And after the second curtain there was a tent called the holy of holies. 4 It contained the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered entirely with gold. In this ark[e] were the golden urn containing the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. 5 And above the ark[f] were the cherubim[g] of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Now is not the time to speak of these things in detail. 6 So with these things prepared like this, the priests enter continually into the outer tent[h] as they perform their duties. 7 But only the high priest enters once a year into the inner tent,[i] and not without blood that he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance.[j] 8 The Holy Spirit is making clear that the way into the Holy Place had not yet appeared as long as the old tabernacle[k] was standing. 9 This was a symbol for the time then present, when gifts and sacrifices were offered that could not perfect the conscience of the worshiper. 10 They served only for matters of food and drink[l] and various ritual washings; they are external regulations[m] imposed until the new order came.[n]
Christ’s Service in the Heavenly Sanctuary
11 But now Christ has come[o] as the high priest of the good things to come. He passed through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, 12 and he entered once for all into the Most Holy Place not by the blood of goats and calves but by his own blood, and so he himself secured[p] eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow sprinkled on those who are defiled consecrated them and provided ritual purity,[q] 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our[r] consciences from dead works to worship the living God.
15 And so he is the mediator[s] of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the eternal inheritance he has promised,[t] since he died[u] to set them free from the violations committed under the first covenant. 16 For where there is a will, the death of the one who made it must be proven.[v] 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it carries no force while the one who made it is alive. 18 So even the first covenant was inaugurated with blood.[w] 19 For when Moses had spoken every command to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats with water and scarlet wool and hyssop and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that God has commanded you to keep.”[x] 21 And both the tabernacle and all the utensils of worship he likewise sprinkled with blood. 22 Indeed according to the law almost everything was purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. 23 So it was necessary for the sketches[y] of the things in heaven to be purified with these sacrifices,[z] but the heavenly things themselves required[aa] better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with hands—the representation[ab] of the true sanctuary[ac]—but into heaven itself, and he appears now in God’s presence for us. 25 And he did not enter to offer[ad] himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the sanctuary 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 now he has appeared once for all at the consummation of the ages to put away sin by his sacrifice. 27 And just as people[ae] are appointed to die once, and then to face judgment,[af] 28 so also, after Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many,[ag] to those who eagerly await him he will appear a second time, not to bear sin[ah] but to bring salvation.[ai]
- Hebrews 9:1 tn Grk “the first” (referring to the covenant described in Heb 8:7, 13). In the translation the referent (covenant) has been specified for clarity.
- Hebrews 9:2 tn Grk “the first,” in order of approach in the ritual.
- Hebrews 9:2 tn Grk “in which [were].”
- Hebrews 9:2 tn Grk “which,” describing the outer tent.
- Hebrews 9:4 tn Grk “in which”; in the translation the referent (the ark) has been specified for clarity.
- Hebrews 9:5 tn Grk “above it”; in the translation the referent (the ark) has been specified for clarity.
- Hebrews 9:5 sn The cherubim (pl.) were an order of angels mentioned repeatedly in the OT but only here in the NT. They were associated with God’s presence, glory, and holiness. Their images that sat on top of the ark of the covenant are described in Exod 25:18-20.
- Hebrews 9:6 tn Grk “the first tent.”
- Hebrews 9:7 tn Grk “the second tent.”
- Hebrews 9:7 tn Or perhaps “the unintentional sins of the people”; Grk “the ignorances of the people.” Cf. BDAG 13 s.v. ἀγνόημα, “sin committed in ignorance/unintentionally.” This term seems to be simply a synonym for “sins” (cf. Heb 5:2) and does not pick up the distinction made in Num 15:22-31 between unwitting sin and “high-handed” sin. The Day of Atonement ritual in Lev 16 covered all the sins of the people, not just the unwitting ones.
- Hebrews 9:8 tn Grk “the first tent.” The literal phrase “the first tent” refers to either (1) the outer chamber of the tabernacle in the wilderness (as in vv. 2, 6) or (2) the entire tabernacle as a symbol of the OT system of approaching God. The second is more likely given the contrast that follows in vv. 11-12.
- Hebrews 9:10 tn Grk “only for foods and drinks.”
- Hebrews 9:10 tc Most witnesses (D1 M) have “various washings, and external regulations” (βαπτισμοῖς καὶ δικαιώμασιν, baptismois kai dikaiōmasin), with both nouns in the dative. The translation “washings; they are…regulations” renders βαπτισμοῖς, δικαιώματα (baptismois, dikaiōmata; found in such significant mss as P46 א* A I P 0278 33 1739 1881 al sa) in which case δικαιώματα is taken as the nominative subject of the participle ἐπικείμενα (epikeimena). It seems far more likely that scribes would conform δικαιώματα to the immediately preceding datives and join it to them by καί than they would to the following nominative participle. Both on external and internal evidence the text is thus secure as reading βαπτισμοῖς, δικαιώματα.
- Hebrews 9:10 tn Grk “until the time of setting things right.”
- Hebrews 9:11 tn Grk “But Christ, when he came,” introducing a sentence that includes all of Heb 9:11-12. The main construction is “Christ, having come…, entered…, having secured…,” and everything else describes his entrance.
- Hebrews 9:12 tn This verb occurs in the Greek middle voice, which here intensifies the role of the subject, Christ, in accomplishing the action: “he alone secured”; “he and no other secured.”
- Hebrews 9:13 tn Grk “for the purifying of the flesh.” The “flesh” here is symbolic of outward or ritual purity in contrast to inner purity, that of the conscience (cf. Heb 9:9).
- Hebrews 9:14 tc The reading adopted by the translation is attested by many authorities (A D* K P 365 1739* al). But many others (א D2 0278 33 1739c 1881 M lat sa) read “your” instead of “our.” The diversity of evidence makes this a difficult case to decide from external evidence alone. The first and second person pronouns differ by only one letter in Greek, as in English, also making this problem difficult to decide based on internal evidence and transcriptional probability. In the context, the author’s description of sacrificial activities seems to invite the reader to compare his own possible participation in OT liturgy as over against the completed work of Christ, so the second person pronoun “your” might make more sense. On the other hand, TCGNT 599 argues that “our” is preferable because the author of Hebrews uses direct address (i.e., the second person) only in the hortatory sections. What is more, the author seems to prefer the first person in explanatory remarks or when giving the logical grounds for an assertion (cf. Heb 4:15; 7:14). It is hard to reach a definitive conclusion in this case, but the data lean slightly in favor of the first person pronoun.
- Hebrews 9:15 tn The Greek word μεσίτης (mesitēs, “mediator”) in this context does not imply that Jesus was a mediator in the contemporary sense of the word, i.e., he worked for compromise between opposing parties. Here the term describes his function as the one who was used by God to enact a new covenant which established a new relationship between God and his people, but entirely on God’s terms.
- Hebrews 9:15 tn Grk “the promise of the eternal inheritance.”
- Hebrews 9:15 tn Grk “a death having occurred.”
- Hebrews 9:16 tn Grk “there is a necessity for the death of the one who made it to be proven.”
- Hebrews 9:18 sn The Greek text reinforces this by negating the opposite (“not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood”), but this double negation is not used in contemporary English.
- Hebrews 9:20 tn Grk “which God commanded for you (or in your case).”sn A quotation from Exod 24:8.
- Hebrews 9:23 tn Or “prototypes,” “outlines,” referring to the earthly sanctuary. See Heb 8:5 above for the prior use of this term.
- Hebrews 9:23 tn Grk “with these”; in the translation the referent (sacrifices) has been specified for clarity.
- Hebrews 9:23 tn Grk “the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.”
- Hebrews 9:24 tn Or “prefiguration.”
- Hebrews 9:24 tn The word “sanctuary” is not in the Greek text at this point, but has been supplied for clarity.
- Hebrews 9:25 tn Grk “and not that he might offer,” continuing the previous construction.
- Hebrews 9:27 tn Here ἀνθρώποις (anthrōpois) has been translated as a generic noun (“people”).
- Hebrews 9:27 tn Grk “and after this—judgment.”
- Hebrews 9:28 sn An allusion to Isa 53:12.
- Hebrews 9:28 tn Grk “without sin,” but in context this does not refer to Christ’s sinlessness (as in Heb 4:15) but to the fact that sin is already dealt with by his first coming.
- Hebrews 9:28 tn Grk “for salvation.” This may be construed with the verb “await” (those who wait for him to bring them salvation), but the connection with “appear” (as in the translation) is more likely.