Thursday, 7 July 2016

Hebrews 8:6-13 - The new covenant implanted in our inmost thoughts and written on our hearts

St Thomas Aquinas summarises the next section of Hebrews as follows:
Having proved that Christ is a high priest and, consequently, a minister of holy things, but not according to the Old Law, the Apostle now shows that He is a minister of greater and better things than they had been.
Hebrews 8:6 -7
6 As it is, he has been entrusted with a more honourable ministry, dispenser as he is of a nobler covenant, with nobler promises for its sanction. There would have been no room for this second covenant, if there had been no fault to find with the first. 
6 Nunc autem melius sortitus est ministerium, quanto et melioris testamenti mediator est, quod in melioribus repromissionibus sancitum est. Nam si illud prius culpa vacasset, non utique secundi locus inquireretur. 
The priesthood of Christ is called a ministry: because it does not belong to Him except in the sense that He was a minister as a man: ‘I say that Christ Jesus was minister of the circumcision for the truth of God'.

Mediator of grace: But He is the mediator of a better covenant, namely, of man to God, because by Him we are made partakers of the divine nature...

The Old law vs the new: in the Old Law there were precepts pertaining to the worship of God, namely, the ceremonial precepts, and some that pertained to correct conduct, namely, the moral precepts, which continue; but the others do not. But in the New Law counsels are added to the precepts and they are given to the perfect, who are capable of spiritual things.

The weakness of the old law: is said to have a fault in two ways: first, because it did not confer the power to cleanse one’s sins...Secondly, because it did not give a helping grace to avoid sins, but merely to recognize them...

Hebrews 8:8
But God, you see, does find fault; this is what he tells them: Behold, says the Lord, a time is coming when I will ratify a new covenant with the people of Israel, and with the people of Juda. 
Vituperans enim eos dicit: Ecce dies venient, dicit Dominus: et consummabo super domum Israël, et super domum Juda, testamentum novum, 
 He quotes Jeremiah 31:31 as the authority: ‘Behold the days shall come, says the Lord, and I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant I made with their fathers, in that day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt: the covenant which they made void and I had dominion over them.’

The perfection of the New Covenant:  He says, I will perfect, which implies perfection: ‘Behold I make all things new’ (Rev. 21:5).

But is it given to the Jews alone? No, because ‘all are not Israelites that are of Israel’; furthermore, ‘not they that are the children of the flesh are the children of God, but they that are the children of the promise, are accounted for the seed’. They, therefore, who have obtained God’s grace are Israel by faith and Judah by confession: ‘With the heart we believe unto justice; but with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation’.

The house of Israel and the house of Judah: ...because Christ personally preached to the Jews but not to the Gentiles...because the Gentiles were made partakers of the New Testament as a graft inserted in a good olive tree partakes of its fatness...because in the time of Rehoboam and Jeroboam the kingdom of Judah was divided from the kingdom of the ten tribes which continued in idolatry; but the kingdom of Judah clung more to God, but not altogether.

Hebrews 8:9
9 It will not be like the covenant which I made with their fathers, on the day when I took them by the hand, to rescue them from Egypt; that they should break my covenant, and I (says the Lord) should abandon them. 
9 non secundum testamentum quod feci patribus eorum in die qua apprehendi manum eorum ut educerem illos de terra Ægypti: quoniam ipsi non permanserunt in testamento meo: et ego neglexi eos, dicit Dominus. 
Is the New like the Old? : In this he shows that the Old is not to be observed along with the New...For if something is found in the Old which the Gentiles are supposed to observe, it must be referred to the spiritual meaning, as it says in Is: ‘They shall worship him with sacrifices and offerings,’ all of which is to be understood spiritually.

Law of servile fear: For the Old Testament was delivered to servants and to the infirm: to servants, because they had at one time left their thralldom in Egypt, in regard to which he says, to lead them out of the land of Egypt: ‘The one from Mount Sinai, engendering unto bondage, which is Hagar’ (Gal. 4:24), and because it was a law of servile fear: ‘You have not received the spirit of adoption again in fear’. The slight difference between the Old and New Testaments is fear and love.

Guilt: Then when he says, for they did not continue in my covenant, he shows the failings of the Old Testament as far as guilt was concerned... Hence, right after the Law was given, they made a golden calf: ‘They made also a calf in Horeb, and they adored the graven thing’ I paid no heed to them, for a person is said not to regard something, when he permits it to perish. So he regarded them not, because He permitted them to be destroyed by the destroyer...

Hebrews 8:10
No, this is the covenant I will grant the people of Israel, the Lord says, when that time comes. I will implant my law in their innermost thoughts, engrave it in their hearts;
Quia hoc est testamentum quod disponam domui Israël post dies illos, dicit Dominus: dando leges meas in mentem eorum, et in corde eorum superscribam eas:
The manner in which it was given:  by externals, by proposing words suited to their understanding; by acting inwardly, and this is peculiar to God: ‘the inspiration of the Almighty gives understanding’. This is the way the New Testament was given, because it consists in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Who instructs inwardly.

Enlightening the intellect: But it is not enough to know, for one must act. Therefore, He first enlightens the intellect to understand; hence, he says, I will put my laws into their minds. He uses the plural, because there are various precepts and counsel. This the Holy Spirit does: ‘His unction teaches you’; ‘He will teach you all things.

Written on our hearts: Furthermore, He inclines the will to act well; hence, it is impressed on their heart. In regard to this he says, and write them on their hearts, i.e., I will write charity on their knowledge: ‘Above all things have charity, which is the bond of perfection’; ‘The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us’. This is the epistle of which he says in 2 Cor: ‘Not in ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tablets of stone, but in the fleshly tablets of the heart.’

Hebrews 8:10b-13
I will be their God, and they shall be my people. There will be no need for neighbour to teach neighbour, or brother to teach brother, the knowledge of the Lord; all will know me, from the highest to the lowest. I will pardon their wrong-doing; I will not remember their sins any more. In speaking of a new covenant, he has superannuated the old. And before long the superannuated, the antiquated, must needs disappear.
et ero eis in Deum, et ipsi erunt mihi in populum:  et non docebit unusquisque proximum suum, et unusquisque fratrem suum, dicens: Cognosce Dominum: quoniam omnes scient me a minore usque ad majorem eorum: quia propitius ero iniquitatibus eorum, et peccatorum eorum jam non memorabor.  Dicendo autem novum: veteravit prius. Quod autem antiquatur, et senescit, prope interitum est.
Aquinas: Having mentioned the qualities of the New Testament from the way it was given, the Apostle now describes three of its effects: the first is man’s perfect union with God; the second is perfect knowledge of God; the third is the remission of sins.

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