Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Hebrews 9:23

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The patterns of things in the heavens - That is: The tabernacle and all its utensils, services, etc., must be purified by these, viz.: The blood of calves and goats, and the sprinkling of the blood and water with the bunch of hyssop bound about with scarlet wool. These are called patterns, ὑποδειγματα, exemplars, earthly things, which were the representatives of heavenly things. And there is no doubt that every thing in the tabernacle, its parts, divisions, utensils, ministry, etc., as appointed by God, were representations of celestial matters; but how far and in what way we cannot now see.

Purification implies, not only cleansing from defilement, but also dedication or consecration. All the utensils employed in the tabernacle service were thus purified though incapable of any moral pollution.

But the heavenly things themselves -

  1. Some think this means heaven itself, which, by receiving the sacrificed body of Christ, which appears in the presence of God for us, may be said to be purified, i.e., set apart for the reception of the souls of those who have found redemption in his blood.
  • Others think the body of Christ is intended, which is the tabernacle in which his Divinity dwelt; and that this might be said to be purified by its own sacrifice, as he is said, John 17:19, to sanctify himself; that is, to consecrate himself unto God as a sin-offering for the redemption of man.
  • Others suppose the Church is intended, which he is to present to the Father without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.
  • 4. As the entrance to the holy of holies must be made by the sprinkling of the blood of the sacrifice, and as that holy of holies represented heaven, the apostle's meaning seems to be that there was and could be no entrance to the holiest but through his blood; and therefore, when by a more perfect tabernacle, Hebrews 9:11, Hebrews 9:12, he passed into the heavens, not with the blood of bulls and goats, but by his own blood, he thus purified or laid open the entrance to the holiest, by a more valuable sacrifice than those required to open the entrance of the holy of holies. It was necessary, therefore, for God had appointed it so, that the tabernacle and its parts, etc., which were patterns of things in the heavens, should be consecrated and entered with such sacrifices as have already been mentioned; but the heaven of heavens into which Jesus entered, and whither he will bring all his faithful followers, must be propitiated, consecrated, and entered, by the infinitely better sacrifice of his own body and blood. That this is the meaning appears from the following verse.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    The patterns of things in the heavens - The tabernacle and its various utensils; see the notes on Hebrews 8:5.

    Be purified with these - With water and blood, and by these ceremonies.

    But the heavenly things themselves - The heavenly tabernacle or sanctuary into which Christ has entered, and where he performs the functions of his ministry. The use of the word “purified” here applied to heaven, does not imply that heaven was before “unholy,” but it denotes that it is now made accessible to sinners; or that they may come and worship there in an acceptable manner. The ancient tabernacle was purified or consecrated by the blood of the victims slain, so that people might approach with acceptance and worship; the heavens by purer blood are rendered accessible to the guilty. The necessity for “better sacrifices” in regard to the latter was, that it was designed to make the conscience pure, and because the service in heaven is more holy than any rendered on earth.

    With better sacrifices than these - To wit, the sacrifice made by the offering of the Lord Jesus on the cross. This infinitely surpassed in value all that had been offered under the Jewish dispensation.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    It is evident that the sacrifices of Christ are infinitely better than those of the law, which could neither procure pardon for sin, nor impart power against it. Sin would still have been upon us, and have had dominion over us; but Jesus Christ, by one sacrifice, has destroyed the works of the devil, that believers may be made righteous, holy, and happy. As no wisdom, learning, virtue, wealth, or power, can keep one of the human race from death, so nothing can deliver a sinner from being condemned at the day of judgment, except the atoning sacrifice of Christ; nor will one be saved from eternal punishment who despises or neglects this great salvation. The believer knows that his Redeemer liveth, and that he shall see him. Here is the faith and patience of the church, of all sincere believers. Hence is their continual prayer as the fruit and expression of their faith, Even so come, Lord Jesus.
    Ellen G. White
    The Faith I Live By, 206.1

    And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. Hebrews 9:22, 23. FLB 206.1

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    Ellen G. White
    The Great Controversy, 417-9

    The question, What is the sanctuary? is clearly answered in the Scriptures. The term “sanctuary,” as used in the Bible, refers, first, to the tabernacle built by Moses, as a pattern of heavenly things; and, secondly, to the “true tabernacle” in heaven, to which the earthly sanctuary pointed. At the death of Christ the typical service ended. The “true tabernacle” in heaven is the sanctuary of the new covenant. And as the prophecy of Daniel 8:14 is fulfilled in this dispensation, the sanctuary to which it refers must be the sanctuary of the new covenant. At the termination of the 2300 days, in 1844, there had been no sanctuary on earth for many centuries. Thus the prophecy, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed,” unquestionably points to the sanctuary in heaven. GC 417.1

    But the most important question remains to be answered: What is the cleansing of the sanctuary? That there was such a service in connection with the earthly sanctuary is stated in the Old Testament Scriptures. But can there be anything in heaven to be cleansed? In Hebrews 9 the cleansing of both the earthly and the heavenly sanctuary is plainly taught. “Almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these [the blood of animals]; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these” (Hebrews 9:22, 23), even the precious blood of Christ. GC 417.2

    The cleansing, both in the typical and in the real service, must be accomplished with blood: in the former, with the blood of animals; in the latter, with the blood of Christ. Paul states, as the reason why this cleansing must be performed with blood, that without shedding of blood is no remission. Remission, or putting away of sin, is the work to be accomplished. But how could there be sin connected with the sanctuary, either in heaven or upon the earth? This may be learned by reference to the symbolic service; for the priests who officiated on earth, served “unto the example and shadow of heavenly things.” Hebrews 8:5. GC 417.3

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    Ellen G. White
    The Great Controversy, 413

    Turning again to the book of Hebrews, the seekers for truth found that the existence of a second, or new-covenant sanctuary, was implied in the words of Paul already quoted: “Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.” And the use of the word “also” intimates that Paul has before made mention of this sanctuary. Turning back to the beginning of the previous chapter, they read: “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a Minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” Hebrews 8:1, 2. GC 413.1

    Here is revealed the sanctuary of the new covenant. The sanctuary of the first covenant was pitched by man, built by Moses; this is pitched by the Lord, not by man. In that sanctuary the earthly priests performed their service; in this, Christ, our great High Priest, ministers at God's right hand. One sanctuary was on earth, the other is in heaven. GC 413.2

    Further, the tabernacle built by Moses was made after a pattern. The Lord directed him: “According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.” And again the charge was given, “Look that thou make them after their pattern, which was showed thee in the mount.” Exodus 25:9, 40. And Paul says that the first tabernacle “was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices;” that its holy places were “patterns of things in the heavens;” that the priests who offered gifts according to the law served “unto the example and shadow of heavenly things,” and that “Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” Hebrews 9:9, 23; 8:5; 9:24. GC 413.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Prophets and Kings, 685

    From the day the Lord declared to the serpent in Eden, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed” (Genesis 3:15), Satan has known that he can never hold absolute sway over the inhabitants of this world. When Adam and his sons began to offer the ceremonial sacrifices ordained by God as a type of the coming Redeemer, Satan discerned in these a symbol of communion between earth and heaven. During the long centuries that have followed, it has been his constant effort to intercept this communion. Untiringly has he sought to misrepresent God and to misinterpret the rites pointing to the Saviour, and with a great majority of the members of the human family he has been successful. PK 685.1

    While God has desired to teach men that from His own love comes the Gift which reconciles them to Himself, the archenemy of mankind has endeavored to represent God as one who delights in their destruction. Thus the sacrifices and the ordinances designed of Heaven to reveal divine love have been perverted to serve as means whereby sinners have vainly hoped to propitiate, with gifts and good works, the wrath of an offended God. At the same time, Satan has sought to arouse and strengthen the evil passions of men in order that through repeated transgression multitudes might be led on and on, far from God, and hopelessly bound with the fetters of sin. PK 685.2

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