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Commentary On Hebrews by Jean Calvin


Chapter 9:9, 10. These two verses have greatly tried the ingenuity of critics, not as to the general meaning, but as to the construction. All agree as to the general import of the passage, and yet they find a difficulty in the syntax. This has arisen from not apprehending the style of the Apostle; he often arranges his sentences according to the practice of the ancient prophets. So he does here. In verse ninth he mentions two things, |gifts| or oblations and |sacrifices;| then he refers first to |sacrifices,| and afterwards to the |gifts.| Of the |sacrifices,| he says, that they could not perfect or justify |the worshipper,| for so latreuonta ought to be rendered here; but of |the gifts,| together with meats, etc., he says, that they were only imposed until the time of reformation. Here syntax is satisfied. The two verses may be thus rendered, --

9. |Which is a type for the present time, while gifts and sacrifices are offered, which (sacrifices) cannot perfect the

10. worshipper as to his conscience, being imposed (gifts) only, together with meats, and drinks, and divers washings, even ordinances of the flesh, until the time of reformation.|

Now, there is here a consistency in every part; dunamenai is in the same gender with thusiai, and what is said is suitable to sacrifices, they being not able to atone for sin; and then epikeimena is of the same gender with dora, and what is said of them is also suitable, that they were imposed or required only, together with meats, etc., which were rituals referring to the flesh or body, and not to the conscience or the soul, until the time of reforming or rectifying all things came.

Doddridge rightly states the efficacy of the Jewish sacrifices when he says, that they averted |temporal evils,| but did expiate offenses in the court above; they removed offenses against the government under which the Jews lived, and restored them to the privileges of eternal communion with the Church; and thus they were types and symbols of the efficacy of the true sacrifices by which we are restored to the favor of God, and to a spiritual communion with him.

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