Which was a figure for the time then present - That is, as long as the tabernacle stood. The word rendered "figure" - ̀ parabolē - is not the same as type - ́ tupos - (Romans 5:14; Acts 7:13, Acts 7:44; John 20:25; I Corinthians 10:6, I Corinthians 10:11; Philippians 3:17, et al.) - but is the word commonly rendered "parable;" Matthew 13:3, Matthew 13:10, Matthew 13:13, Matthew 13:18, Matthew 13:24, Matthew 13:31, Matthew 13:33-36, Matthew 13:53; Matthew 15:15, "et soepe," and means properly "a placing side by side;" then a "comparison, or similitude." Here it is used in the sense of "image, or symbol" - something to "represent" other things. The idea is, that the arrangements and services of the tabernacle were a representation of important realities, and of things which were more fully to be revealed at a future period. There can be no doubt that Paul meant to say that this service in general was symbolical or typical, though this will not authorize us to attempt to spiritualize every minute arrangement of it. Some of the things in which it was typical are specified by the apostle himself, and wisdom and safety in explaining the arrangements of the tabernacle and its services consist in adhering very closely to the explanations furnished by the inspired writers. An interpreter is on an open sea, to be driven he knows not whither, when he takes leave of these safe pilots.
Both gifts - Thank-offerings.
And sacrifices - Bloody offerings. The idea is, that all kinds of offerings to God were made there.
That could not make him that did the service perfect - That could not take away sin, and remove the stains of guilt on the soul; note, Hebrews 7:11; compare Hebrews 8:7; Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 10:1, Hebrews 10:11.
As pertaining to the conscience - They related mainly to outward and ceremonial rites, and even when offerings were made for sin the conscience was not relieved. They could not expiate guilt; they could not make the soul pure; they could not of themselves impart peace to the soul by reconciling it to God. They could not fully accomplish what the conscience needed to have done in order to give it peace. Nothing will do this but the blood of the Redeemer.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing Hebrews 9:9:
2 Thessalonians 2:2
1 Peter 3:21
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