Now the God of peace - We have often seen that peace among the Hebrews signifies prosperity of every kind. The God of peace is the same as the God of all blessedness, who has at his disposal all temporal and eternal good; who loves mankind, and has provided them a complete salvation.
Brought again from the dead our Lord - As our Lord's sacrificial death is considered as an atonement offered to the Divine justice, God's acceptance of it as an atonement is signified by his raising the human nature of Christ from the dead; and hence this raising of Christ is, with the utmost propriety, attributed to God the Father, as this proves his acceptance of the sacrificial offering.
That great Shepherd of the sheep - This is a title of our blessed Lord, given to him by the prophets; so Isaiah 40:11; He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs with his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those which are with young: and Ezekiel 34:23; I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them; even my servant David, (i.e. the beloved, viz. Jesus), and he shall feed them, and be their shepherd: and Zechariah 13:7; Awake, O sword, against my shepherd - smite the shepherd, and the flock shall be scattered. In all these places the term shepherd is allowed to belong to our blessed Lord; and he appropriates it to himself, John 10:11, by calling himself the good Shepherd, who, lays down his life for the sheep.
Through the blood of the everlasting covenant - Some understand this in the following way, that "God brought back our Lord from the dead on account of his having shed his blood to procure the everlasting covenant." Others, that the Lord Jesus became the great Shepherd and Savior of the sheep by shedding his blood to procure and ratify the everlasting covenant." The sense, however, will appear much plainer if we connect this with the following verse: "Now the God of peace, who brought again from the dead, our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, make you, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, perfect in every good work to do his will." The Christian system is termed the everlasting covenant, to distinguish it from the temporary covenant made with the Israelites at Mount Sinai; and to show that it is the last dispensation of grace to the world, and shall endure to the end of time.
Now the God of peace - God who is the Author, or the source of peace; notes, 1 Thessalonians 5:23. The word “peace” in the New Testament is used to denote every kind of blessing or happiness. It is opposed to all that would disturb or trouble the mind, and may refer, therefore, to reconciliation with God; to a quiet conscience; to the evidence of pardoned sin; to health and prosperity, and to the hope of heaven; see the notes on John 14:27.
That brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus - Acts 2:32 note; 1 Corinthians 15:15 note. It is only by the fact of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus that we have peace, for it is only by him that we have the prospect of an admission into heaven.
Through the blood of the everlasting covenant - The blood shed to ratify the everlasting covenant that God makes with his people; notes, Hebrews 9:14-23. This phrase, in the original, is not connected, as it is in our translation, with his being raised from the dead, nor should it be so rendered, for what can be the sense of “raising Christ from the dead by the blood of the covenant?” In the Greek it is, “the God of peace, who brought again from the dead the shepherd of the sheep, great by the blood of the everlasting covenant, our Lord Jesus,” etc. The meaning is, that he was made or constituted the great Shepherd of the sheep - the great Lord and ruler of his people, by that blood. That which makes him so eminently distinguished; that by which he was made superior to all others who ever ruled over the people of God, was the fact that he offered the blood by which the eternal covenant was ratified. It is called everlasting or eternal, because:
(1)it was formed in the councils of eternity, or has been an eternal plan in the divine mind; and,
(2)because it is to continue forever. Through such a covenant God can bestow permanent and solid “peace” on his people, for it lays the foundation of the assurance of eternal happiness.
“I rejoice that in everything I am of good courage concerning you.” “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;” “being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ: even as it is right for me to be thus minded on behalf of you all, because I have you in my heart.” “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.” “Now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.” Verse 16, A.R.V.; Philippians 1:3-5; 1:6, 7, A.R.V.; 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:8. MH 167.1
Paul wrote to these brethren as “saints in Christ Jesus;” but he was not writing to those who were perfect in character. He wrote to them as men and women who were striving against temptation and who were in danger of falling. He pointed them to “the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the sheep.” He assured them that “through the blood of the everlasting covenant” He will “make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ.” Hebrews 13:20, 21. MH 167.2
When one at fault becomes conscious of his error, be careful not to destroy his self-respect. Do not discourage him by indifference or distrust. Do not say, “Before giving him my confidence, I will wait to see whether he will hold out.” Often this very distrust causes the tempted one to stumble. MH 167.3Read in context »
Another compact—called in Scripture the “old” covenant—was formed between God and Israel at Sinai, and was then ratified by the blood of a sacrifice. The Abrahamic covenant was ratified by the blood of Christ, and it is called the “second,” or “new,” covenant, because the blood by which it was sealed was shed after the blood of the first covenant. That the new covenant was valid in the days of Abraham is evident from the fact that it was then confirmed both by the promise and by the oath of God—the “two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie.” Hebrews 6:18. PP 371.1
But if the Abrahamic covenant contained the promise of redemption, why was another covenant formed at Sinai? In their bondage the people had to a great extent lost the knowledge of God and of the principles of the Abrahamic covenant. In delivering them from Egypt, God sought to reveal to them His power and His mercy, that they might be led to love and trust Him. He brought them down to the Red Sea—where, pursued by the Egyptians, escape seemed impossible—that they might realize their utter helplessness, their need of divine aid; and then He wrought deliverance for them. Thus they were filled with love and gratitude to God and with confidence in His power to help them. He had bound them to Himself as their deliverer from temporal bondage. PP 371.2
But there was a still greater truth to be impressed upon their minds. Living in the midst of idolatry and corruption, they had no true conception of the holiness of God, of the exceeding sinfulness of their own hearts, their utter inability, in themselves, to render obedience to God's law, and their need of a Saviour. All this they must be taught. PP 371.3
God brought them to Sinai; He manifested His glory; He gave them His law, with the promise of great blessings on condition of obedience: “If ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ... ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” Exodus 19:5, 6. The people did not realize the sinfulness of their own hearts, and that without Christ it was impossible for them to keep God's law; and they readily entered into covenant with God. Feeling that they were able to establish their own righteousness, they declared, “All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.” Exodus 24:7. They had witnessed the proclamation of the law in awful majesty, and had trembled with terror before the mount; and yet only a few weeks passed before they broke their covenant with God, and bowed down to worship a graven image. They could not hope for the favor of God through a covenant which they had broken; and now, seeing their sinfulness and their need of pardon, they were brought to feel their need of the Saviour revealed in the Abrahamic covenant and shadowed forth in the sacrificial offerings. Now by faith and love they were bound to God as their deliverer from the bondage of sin. Now they were prepared to appreciate the blessings of the new covenant. PP 371.4Read in context »
Christ Himself was the originator of the Jewish system of worship, in which, by types and symbols, were shadowed forth spiritual and heavenly things. Many forgot the true significance of these offerings; and the great truth that through Christ alone there is forgiveness of sin, was lost to them. The multiplying of sacrificial offerings, the blood of bulls and goats, could not take away sin (The Signs of the Times, January 2, 1893). 7BC 933.1
The Lesson of the Animal Sacrifices—A lesson was embodied in every sacrifice, impressed in every ceremony, solemnly preached by the priest in his holy office, and inculcated by God Himself—that through the blood of Christ alone is there forgiveness of sins. How little we as a people feel the force of this great truth! How seldom, by living, acting faith, do we bring into our lives this great truth, that there is forgiveness for the least sin, forgiveness for the greatest sin (The Review and Herald, September 21, 1886)! 7BC 933.2Read in context »