But now has he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant…
I. THE GENERAL NOTION OF A COVENANT OF GOD WITH MAN. By a covenant among men we understand an agreement or compact, by which the parties bind themselves, and each the other, to the fulfilment of certain conditions. Now, when we speak of a covenant of God with men, one important difference is to be observed. In this case there is no natural equality between the parties. God wills, and man must obey. But. this revealed mind and purpose of God is called a covenant, because —
1. As respects God, He who has no rule of action but His own will is pleased hereby to bind Himself, in His dealings with men, to the observance of certain specified terms.
2. As respects men. they are bound to fulfil the conditions herein prescribed to them, under pain of forfeiting the offered benefits, and incurring the attendant penalties. The covenant under which all men are born, as children of Adam, is that of works. It must be evident to every one, that if he be tried according to the letter of this covenant, there remains no hope for him before God, for he is a transgressor of it from the womb. And thus the Scriptures everywhere testify. We are led then to the inquiry: is there any other covenant or dispensation of God for His creatures, whereby (letting go the first, and laying hold on this) we may have that eternal life and blessedness which we have irrecoverably forfeited by the first? Such a covenant there is. The terms of it are fully made known to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ, the "glad tidings of great joy."
II. The particular features of this "BETTER COVENANT, which was established upon better promises."
1. Whereas in the old covenant something is required on the part of man, as a title to its privileges, this contemplates in him nothing but sins and unrighteousness, and lays the basis of all covenant good vouchsafed to him in the sovereign grace of God, a promise as large and unlimited as language can express of the free removal of sins, and that for ever. Herein is summed up all the grace of the covenant, that it supposes guilt of every kind and degree, in the objects of it, and meets them with this cheering assurance, I will be merciful to it, I will remember it no more. But has God, then, deserted His justice, in showing mercy to a sinner, and dishonoured His law by suffering the violation of it with impunity? God forbid! The condition of life under the new covenant is precisely that of the old — perfect obedience. But under the gospel this obedience is rendered for the sinner by his surety, and the life which is its due becomes his, not by working, but by believing. Christ has fulfilled the law for us. Mercy, therefore, to man is the jut reward of merit in Christ.
2. Mark another feature, no less distinguishing the gospel as a "ministration of glory." This is the exceeding fulness of its promised blessings (Romans 15:29).
(1) Divine renewal;
(2) Divine relationship;
(3) Divine illumination.
3. Its security. The effectual provision which God has made in it for the sure enjoyment of its rich benefits.
4. Its everlasting continuance. Hence it is expressly called " the everlasting covenant" (Hebrews 13:20).Lessons:
1. The overwhelming motives afforded us, by this covenant of grace, to walk before God in all holiness and godliness of living.
2. The grievous sin of those who carelessly neglect this covenant of grace, or obstinately refuse to close with it.
3. The abundant encouragement which this covenant holds out to the most guilty and desponding sinner to return to God and be at peace.
4. Lastly, let the established believer recognise in this covenant the charter of all his privileges. Ever rejoice, my Christian brethren, in your entire deliverance from the law of works as a means of obtaining life. Life is yours by free gift, covenant gift of God, through faith in Christ Jesus. Having the Son, you have life. Only abide, then, in Him, your Covenant Head, and walk worthy of your exalted privileges, in all holy and happy obedience.
(Francis Goode, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.