Hebrews 8 Commentary – New and Better Covenant

Today, we will dive into the profound insights of Hebrews Chapter 8, offering a thoughtful Hebrews 8 commentary that sheds light on the transformative message of “Jesus the New and Better Covenant.” As Christians, we are invited to embrace the fullness of God’s promise through the lens of this pivotal chapter.

Let’s journey together, finding inspiration and hope in the everlasting covenant made possible through our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Before diving into Hebrews 8, it is crucial to comprehend its historical context. The Hebrews, primarily Jewish believers, were accustomed to the Mosaic Law—a covenant established between God and the Israelites through Moses. This Old Covenant involved laws, rituals, and sacrifices, serving as a temporary solution for humanity’s sin problem until the coming of the Messiah.

Hebrews Chapter 7 showed us how Jesus’ priesthood is from a better lineage. The Old Covenant Law appointed priests of the tribe of Levi. Jesus’ priesthood is from the lineage of Melchizedek.

Why is Melchizedek’s lineage better? 

Melchizedek’s family lineage is untraceable, therefore he remains a priest perpetually! Each levitical priest was hindered from continuing because the priesthood would pass down through each generation.

Jesus’ priesthood is superior to the Levitical Priesthood because it enables Him to remain our eternal High Priest!

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What is the Main Message of Hebrews Chapter 8?

This passage of scripture makes two distinct contrasts. First, we see a contrast between two tabernacles, then we see a contrast between two covenants. Let’s take a look at Hebrews Chapter 8 verse by verse.

Hebrews 8:1-5 – The Priest of the True Tabernacle

Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord set up, not man. 3 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices; so it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer. 4 Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; 5 who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “See,” He says, “that you make all things by the pattern which was shown to you on the mountain.”

We see God command Moses to erect a tabernacle in Exodus 25-27. The Tabernacle was the place where God would dwell with His people.

Moses was to construct the Tabernacle according to the pattern which was shown to him on the mountain. This copy was meant to be a shadow of the true Tabernacle. 

The true tabernacle in heaven is far superior to the earthly tabernacle because it was pitched by God, not man. The earthly Tabernacle was established for a set period of time under the Old Covenant Law. The heavenly tabernacle remains!

Levitical Priests had gifts and sacrifices they offered; the blood of animals. Jesus’ sacrifice was not according to Levitical Law. He offered a better sacrifice according to a better lineage. His sacrifice was Himself according to the eternal line of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 8:6-7 – The Mediator of a Better Covenant

hebrews bible study

But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, to the extent that He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been free of fault, no circumstances would have been sought for a second.

This passage goes on to explain that Jesus has become the mediator of a better covenant based on better promises.

Why is it considered better? What does it promise? What is its relationship to the Old Covenant? Let’s see if Scripture answers some of these questions for us!

Let’s begin by exploring the details of the Old Covenant. What was its fault?

We learn in Exodus 5-6 that God gave His people the Old Covenant through Moses. Deuteronomy 28 explains the blessings that would follow obedience to this covenant and the cursing that would follow disobedience.

God, very clearly, laid out His covenant to the people through Moses. 

They did not listen. We see over and over HIs people walking in disobedience. 

We also need to notice the abundance of God’s mercy. God gave His people Judges, Kings, and prophets to all warn and remind them to turn back to Him. Again, they didn’t listen. 

It breaks my heart when I hear people say that they see God in the Old Testament as a harsh, mean God that is just out to get them.

It’s just not true. 

When we consider the full context of the Old Testament, we can’t help but see Him as a kind, loving, compassionate, and merciful God.

So, the Law (Old Covenant) itself was faultless. It is God’s perfect and holy standard.

The problem of the Old Covenant was sin. People couldn’t quit sinning against God. The Law was meant to point people to their need for a different kind of Savior. The Law couldn’t get the job done.

Hebrews 8:9-12 – Jesus, The New Covenant

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Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, When I will bring about a new covenant With the house of Israel and the house of Judah, Not like the covenant which I made with their fathers

on the day I took them by the hand To bring them out of the land of Egypt;

For they did not continue in My covenant and I did not care about them, says the Lord.

For this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts. And I will be their God,

and they shall be My people. And they will not teach, each one his fellow citizen,

and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ For they will all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful toward their wrongdoings, and their sins I will no longer remember.

This passage in Hebrews 8 is quoting from Jeremiah 31:31-34. Jeremiah prophesied before and during the siege of Jerusalem. By the time Jeremiah came on the scene, the nation of Israel had been divided into two kingdoms, the northern kingdom (Israel) and the southern kingdom (Judah). The northern kingdom was taken captive by the nation of Assyria in 722 BC. In 586 BC, Judah was taken by Babylon.

Let’s take a closer look at the details of this New Covenant to see if we can discover why it’s ‘better’ than the first.

  • God is the one who initiates the covenant
  • He will put His law into their minds and hearts
  • He will be their God
  • They will be His people
  • They will all know Him
  • He will be merciful towards their wrongdoings
  • He will remember their sin no more

The curses of breaking God’s covenant that we saw earlier in Deuteronomy 28-30 had come upon God’s people.

At the time that this promise was given, Israel and Judah were suffering the consequences of a broken covenant. They had been taken captive by their enemies.

Can you imagine the hope that this promise must have given them? 

Hebrews chapter 8 meaning

Is New Covenant Only For Israel?

So this passage refers to a new and better covenant given to the nation of Israel. What about the rest of us? How do the Gentiles (non-Jewish folks) fit into this covenant?

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ…

Through the blood of Christ, Gentiles have been invited to share in the promises of Israel.

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. – Ephesians 2:11-16

The Old Covenant is what separated all people into the two groups of Jew and Gentile. Christ’s sacrifice broke down that dividing wall and invited all people, from all nations, to partake in God’s covenant of grace.

We have all gained access to the presence of God through the indwelling Spirit of Christ.

For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. – Ephesians 2:18-19

Old Covenant Made Obsolete

When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is about to disappear. Hebrews 8:13

Obsolete: to make (passively, become) worn out, or declare obsolete:—decay, make (wax) old.

The new covenant rendered the old one ineffective and fading away. The author emphasizes the diminishing significance of the earthly temple and its rituals, signaling a shift to the spiritual and eternal realities found in Christ.

The Old Covenant was designed to point us towards the new covenant and then pass away. The New Covenant in Christ’s blood is unfading and everlasting.

Applying Hebrews Chapter 8

The message of Hebrews Chapter 8 has timeless implications for believers today. As Christians, we are called to embrace the new covenant and the grace it offers. Here are some practical applications we can draw from this chapter:

  • Embrace God’s Grace: The new covenant exemplifies God’s unmerited favor and forgiveness towards humanity. As recipients of this grace, we are called to extend grace to others and practice love and forgiveness.
  • Cultivate Intimacy with God: The internalization of God’s law in our hearts through the Holy Spirit empowers us to cultivate a deeper, personal relationship with God. Regular prayer, Bible study, and meditation enable us to draw closer to Him.
  • Move from Religion to Relationship: The Old Covenant was laden with rituals and ceremonies, but the new covenant emphasizes a relationship with God. Our faith is not about empty religion but about having a living and vibrant connection with our Creator.

Hebrews Chapter 8 serves as a pivotal chapter in God’s grand story, unfolding the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. By understanding the superiority of Christ’s ministry, the prophecy of a new covenant, and the obsolescence of the Old Covenant, believers can gain deeper insights into the significance of God’s grace and His call for an intimate relationship with Him.

More Hebrews 8 Commentary and Resources: