Hebrews 8:1

Does the writer mean, "This is the summing up," or "This is the chief point"? We accept the latter, and that we have here no recapitulation, but an advance, the point to which he has been coming from the first. Christ, High Priest; Christ, High Priest greater than Aaron. So far we have come. Subject - Heaven the place where this great High Priest ministers. From this comes the truth to which he has been looking from the beginning, that in heaven, as the true holy of holies, is fulfilled what was exhibited in type in the tabernacle.

I. THE ASSURANCE THAT CHRIST IS FULFILLING HIS HIGH PRIESTLY WORK IN HEAVEN. "We have a High Priest," etc. Jesus in heaven, acting as our Representative, is the crowning point of what the writer has to say about our Lord. Is not that the crowning point of all that can be said about him? Can we ever know the full blessedness of Jesus till, in our habitual thought of him, he who lived on earth, and died, and rose, is ever seen and felt to be living for us in the heavenly places?

1. The declarations of Scripture give us this assurance. That is intimated in the use made here of Psalm 110., the whole of Hebrews 7. being based on it - the Messiah was to be a Priest at God's right hand. The same word gives us the same assurance; but whereas to the Jew it was prediction, to us it is fulfillment. "He was received up into heaven," declare evangelists and apostles.

2. The discharge of his priestly functions necessitates this. "But [not 'now'] if he were on earth he would not be a priest at all," etc. He could not discharge his priestly duties on earth; the Law would forbid it of one not of the tribe of Levi. If, then, he is Priest, and called to what is priestly, and this cannot be on earth, it must be in heaven, for there is no other place where he could legally minister. But we Christians get the assurance that Christ in heaven is acting as High Priest, in what we find he has actually done and is ever doing. He sends his people what he promised when he should be there. Those gifts and communications come to them from heaven which they know could not come but for his mediatorial work.

3. The fulfillment of sacred types demands this. (Ver. 5.) A very important statement, for it occurs no less than five times in the Pentateuch - proof that the Jewish ritual was but a shadow of certain Divine realities. The ministry of the priests, therefore, must have its celestial counterpart. The high priest, after the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement, entered within the veil to present the atoning blood before the mercy-seat. That is the type; then the fulfillment must be in Christ. In the Book of Revelation the Christian sees this fulfilled in a series of visions: Christ redeeming the world, subduing his foes, completing his Church, and all this through his exaltation to the heavenly throne.

II. THE EXALTED POSITION IN HEAVEN IN WHICH THIS HIGH PRIESTLY WORK IS BEING FULFILLED. The Hebrews regarded the high priestly ministry with awe. How the majestic contrast drawn here must have arrested their attention, and surprised them by its claim: "We have such," etc.!

1. It implies our Lord's equality with the Father. On the supreme throne only Jehovah can sit; he who sits with him as his co-equal must, with him, be one God. He who ascended is he also who descended. The Incarnation was the condescension of God himself. Get high thoughts of Jesus, for it will exalt our hope, and make our salvation more sure to our mind, and reveal fresh depths in the Divine mercy.

2. This also implies his fearlessness in the presence of the Father. The Jewish priest stood and trembled and adored within the veil. Jesus sat down on the throne. Why should he fear? we might ask. Because he went there as man's Representative. The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all, he bowed his head in death under the awful burden, he then ascended into heaven, and sat down on the Father's throne. Then how certainly he had put away sin by the offering of himself!

3. This further implies his possession of the favor of the Father. He sat there - why? Because God said unto him, "Sit thou at my right," etc. The Father's delight must indeed be fixed on him he asks to share his throne. But it is as our Mediator he is exalted thus. Of his own right, by his own Deity, that throne was his; the invitation to ascend it was made to him as our Representative. That gives utmost encouragement to us. The welcome given to Jesus is really a welcome to all prayers for his people.


1. It should lead us to inquire whether we are among God's Israel. "We - whom does that include? The high priest entered the holiest of all for every Israelite; every Israelite could say, He is there for me." Christ, in like manner, appears in heaven for the true [not the typical] Israel, the true seed of Abraham, they who are of faith. Faith admits into God's Israel, and for all these Christ is High Priest. Then, are we of these?

2. It should make us feet the sufficiency of his mediation. We can need no other priest if we have Jesus, and no other sacrifice. What can a man on earth add to that which in him we have in heaven itself!

3. It should assure us of the supply of every necessity. Jesus, who has the Father's ear, is at the Father's right hand; and there for us. Then we have nothing to fear. - C.N.

We have such an High Priest.
You can hardly fail to observe the tone of triumph of St. Paul in giving his summary; in announcing it as an established fact, that we have such an High Priest, a High Priest such as had been described — "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners." He speaks as though nothing more could be needed, nothing more wished. Now then, as a preliminary view of this summary of the apostle, you will all admit that in speaking of our High Priest, St. Paul is evidently to be understood as speaking of a mighty Friend or Supporter. He is manifestly anxious to magnify this High Priest, that he may possess us with an exalted opinion of His greatness and His goodness. Yet we are not for a moment to think it implied that salvation is not a difficult thing, requiring effort, exertion, and sacrifice. In a preceding chapter St. Paul had said: "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession." Though he here describes the same blessed truths, as in the summary of our text, he evidently indicates that we are in danger of letting go our profession through the greatness of the struggle needed for maintaining it. Thus you should set before yourselves the privilege of the Christi, n in treat his cause has been undertaken by a Being " who is able to save to the uttermost": and at the same time the duty of the Christian, in that he must labour with all his might at a task which is both difficult and dangerous. And we are to labour at this difficult and dangerous task on the very account that "we have such an High Priest," that our cause, that is, is in hands which are certain to make it prevail, Without a Mediator, repentance, even if it; might have been genuine, must have been unavailing; whereas, with a Mediator, repentance wrought in us by God's Spirit, may be made the condition of our admission into God's kingdom. Without a Mediator prayer, even if from the heart, could have brought down no blessing from above; whereas with a Mediator prayer has only to be the prayer of faith, and it will prevail with our Father in heaven. Without a Mediator the effort to keep God's commandments, even if made with all diligence and sincerity, could have done nothing towards removing us from under the curse; whereas with a Mediator, our imperfect obedience, though void of any merit what ever, can be graciously accepted as a proof and token of faith, and noted by God, who out of His exuberant mercy designs to "reward every man according to his works." He taut in any measure or sense trusts in his own strength, or leans on his own righteousness, as truly depends on a broken reed, now that Christ hath died ,or him, as though no Mediator had risen to make atonement; but Christ, as we have already said, puts us into a new state or condition, not a state in which we may be saved without labour, but a state in which labour may end in our being saved. He "opened to us the kingdom of heaven," that kingdom which without Him would have remained for ever closed against the fallen and the feeble; but to open the kingdom, is not the same thing as to put us into the kingdom without any effort of our own. It is rather to encourage us to exertion, which, manifestly of no avail while the everlasting doors are firmly barred against us, may be graciously crowned with success when the bars have been removed by the Redeemer. Therefore, the whole power of the gospel, so far as motive is concerned, is against indolence and indifference, and on the side of energy and endeavour. Seeing that Christ hath been crucified, let us crucify ourselves; it would be of no avail striving to mortify the flesh whilst hell yawned for us and could not be escaped. Seeing that Christ hath died for sin, let us labour to die to sin. It is not a useless labour now, but it was till heaven had been opened, for which holiness makes fitness. Seeing that Christ pleads for us, let us be fervent in pleading for ourselves. Prayer can now be heard and answered, though it could not have been except as presented through an all-powerful Intercessor. Now, hitherto we have only treated the apostle's summary as bearing generally on the fact, that the scheme of the gospel is so constructed as to urge us to endeavour, rather than to encourage us in inactivity. We will now, however, take a different view of the case. We will consider it as addressed simply to believers, constructed for the comfort and encouragement of those, who, in the midst of a troubled and sinful world, may be tempted to let go their Christian profession, despairing of being able to persevere to the end. There are two great points, or facts, upon which the apostle fastens as making up the sum of all that he had advanced. First, "we have such an High Priest"; such an one as had been described in the foregoing chapter — "holy, harmless, and undefiled, separate from sinners, who being made perfect, became the Author of eternal salvation to all them that obey." The apostle speaks of Christ as still being a High Priest. He uses the present tense, and thus he reminds us that the priestly office was not completed or laid aside when the Mediator had offered up Himself, but that it still continues to be discharged, and will be so while the church is in any danger of letting go her profession. And this is a truth which is full of comfort to the Christian. There is an unlimited difference to him between" we have had an High Priest," and "we have an High Priest." What more of encouragement can we desire, what more of assurance of final victory, now that we are able to wind up all discussion upon the Christian scheme, in the words of our text — "Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have," not we have had, but we have — we still "have such an High Priest." Now we turn to the second point adduced by the apostle, and this relates to the present residence of the High Priest, who, according to St. Paul, is "set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens." And the tone, as we before said, in which he gives his summary would seem to indicate that the fact of Christ having passed into heaven is one which should fill us with gladness and confidence. If that residence in the heavens prove to me that Christ prevailed in the great work which He undertook, and that because He thus prevailed all power has been given unto Him in heaven and in earth, what better reason can I have for adherence to Christianity? It is no "cunningly devised fable" which I follow, if indeed the Redeemer be thus "on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens." It is on no doubtful aid that I rely, it is no uncertain Advocate with whom I trust my cause, if He who died upon the cross hath been exalted to the throne. What want can there be for which He has not a supply? what sorrow for which He has not a solace? what sin for which He has not an expiation? what temptation which He cannot enable me to resist? or what enemy which He cannot strengthen me to overcome? Shall we, then, let go our profession? Shall we shrink at the approach of danger? Shall we play the coward and the recreant, because of persecution, distress, contumely, and difficulty? Nay, this were to desert a Leader, of whom we have every possible assurance, that no friend can trust Him and not be finally more than a conqueror — no foe resist Him, and not be finally crushed.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

I. THE REALITY OF THE FACT. "We have such an High Priest." It is not a matter of useless desire or of future hope, but of present accomplished possession. The truth exists indeed in the unseen world, and is not at present visible to sight, as it will be hereafter. Hereafter the very eyes shall take cognisance of the fact, when forth from the holy of holies, the immediate presence of God, the great High Priest shall come to be manifested before the eyes of an astonished world. But why is that time delayed? Why lingers the great High Priest within the heavenly sanctuary? The answer is, that He waits till the number of the elect shall be completed, and the intercession which He for ever lives to make for His people shall be no longer necessary, when, His people being gathered safely in the last veil shall be for ever removed from between them end the full sight of God. Our High Priest still ministers for us till then.

II. THE SINGLENESS OF THE PERSON, AND OF THE OFFICE HE FULFILS. "We have such an High Priest" — not many, but one — one, and only one, so absolutely alone, that it is blasphemy to arrogate any part of His work. But will Christ be Priest for ever? This the apostle notices. Yes, for He liveth in "the power of an endless life," and needs no successor.

III. THE PERFECTION OF THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST, AND THE PERFECTION OF HIM WHO FULFILS IT. "We have such an High Priest." Turn back to the preceding chapter, and you will find that the apostle enumerates beauty after beauty in Christ, as if he were gathering together a cluster of jewels to deck His crown of glory. It is singular, when we read the passage carefully, how we find it crowded with insignia of honour. In human priests, if the most extravagant claims were admitted, It would yet be true that the dignity is only in the office, and not in the men. But when we turn to the true High Priest, how different it is! Here is not only the glory of the office, but the glory of the Person, infinitely qualified in His Deity, to stand between the justice of God and the whole human race. He is no mere dying man like an earthly priest, but clothed with "the power of an endless life." He was not made after the law of a carnal commandment, but made after the oath of God Himself, "a High Priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec." He has not entered into the "tabernacle made with hands, with the blood of bulls and goats," but with "His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." He is not one among many, like earthly priests, but is alone in His own single and unequalled majesty, "the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." He does not fill a delegated office, like earthly priests, but fulfils His own office, and that so perfectly that He "is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him." He needs not daily, as earthly priests, to seek forgiveness for His own sins, but is "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners." He does not minister afar off from God, like earthly priests, but is already "made higher than the heavens," and at the right hand of His Father pleads evermore for us. He needs not to repeat His daily offerings, as earthly priests, but has made atonement once, "when He offered up Himself." And, lastly, He has no infirmity, like earthly priests, but is the Son of God, Himself God, blessed for evermore — omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, infinite! Who perfect as He? and what wonder that, thus perfect, He should govern as well as atone?-not only Priest, but King, — nay, bearing on His head the triple crown of glory — Prophet, Priest, King.

(E. Garbett, M. A.)

We have here two strikingly different representations of our Lord's heavenly state. In the one He is regarded as seated "on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty." In the other He is regarded as being, notwithstanding that session, "a minister of the sanctuary"; performing priestly functions there. Reigning He serves; serving He reigns.

I. THE SEATED CHRIST. "We have a High Priest who" — to translate a little more closely — "has taken His seat on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens." If we translate the symbol into colder words, it means that deep repose, which, like the Divine rest after creation, is not for recuperation of exhausted powers, but is the sign of an accomplished purpose and achieved task, a share in the sovereignty of heaven, and the wielding of the energies of Deity — rest, royalty, and power belong now to the Man sitting at the right hand of the throne of God.

II. THE SERVANT CHRIST. "A minister of the sanctuary," says my text. The glorified Christ is a ministering Christ. In us, on us, for us He works, in all the activities of His exalted repose, as truly and more mightily than He did when here lie helped the weaknesses and healed the sicknesses, and soothed the sorrows and supplied the wants, and washed the feet of a handful of poor men. He has gone up on high, but in His rest He works. He is on the throne, but in His royalty He serves.

III. THE PRACTICAL LESSONS OF SUCH THOUGHTS AS THESE. They have a bearing on the three categories of past, present, future.

1. For the past a seal For what can be greater, what can afford a firmer foundation for us sinful men to rest our confidence upon than the death of which the recompense was that the Man who died sits on the throne of the universe?

2. A strength for the present. I know of nothing that is mighty enough to draw men's desires and fix solid reasonable thought and love upon that awful future, except the better that Christ is there. But with Christ in the heavens the heavens become the home of our hearts. See Christ, and He interprets, dwindles, and yet ennobles the world and life.

3. A prophecy for the future. There is the measure of the possibilities of human nature.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The Lord Jesus is our High Priest in heaven. These simple but majestic and weighty words sum up the teaching of the first eight chapters of our epistle. This is the crowning-point of the apostle's profound and massive argument, Jesus, who suffered and died, is consecrated the priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec, after the power of an endless life. He is the minister of the heavenly sanctuary and the true tabernacle In no other portion of the new covenant Scriptures is the High Priesthood of the Lord Jesus explained. Hence in this precious and most essential epistle, more than in any other book, stress is laid upon the ascension rather than the resurrection, and upon the tact that Jesus is in heaven. The object of this epistle was to comfort and also to exhort the Jews, whose faith was sorely tried because they were excluded from the services of the temple in Jerusalem; to confirm unto them the great truth, that they had the reality of those things which were only temporary and signs, and that the real sanctuary was not upon earth but high in the heavens, and that Jesus had gone to be the minister of the holy things, and of the true and substantial tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. It is because the Son of man, who came down from heaven, hath ascended up into heaven, it is because Jesus is at the right band of God, that He is the true and perfect mediator between God and man. From His throne in heaven Be gives repentance and the remission of sins; from thence He gives unto His Church all needful gifts, even as He at first sent forth the Holy Ghost. because He had been exalted by the right hand of God. From heaven He shall descend and gather His saints, changing their vile bodies, that they may be fashioned like unto His glorious body; from heaven He worketh now, and will work, until He hath subdued all things unto Himself. If Christ is in heaven, we must lift up our eyes and hearts to heaven. There are things above. The things above are the spiritual blessings in heavenly places. "Seek those things which are above"; faith and love, hope and patience, meekness, righteousness, and strength. The things above are also the future things for which we wait, seeing that our inheritance is not here upon earth. All that is pertaining unto the inheritance "incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away," belongs unto those things which Christ has now to minister in the tabernacle which God has made. and not man. Our transfigured body, our perfectly enlightened mind, our soul entirely filled with the love of God, all the strength and gifts for government (for we shall be called to reign with Christ upon the ear h), all those powers and blessings which we have now only by faith and in germ, are in the heavenly places with Christ, who shall bring them to us when He comes again at the command of the Father.

(A. Saphir.)

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