Through Jesus Christ’s mission God enhanced his relationship with his people and the world. Two defining aspects of this new order are God’s new covenant with his own people and the kingdom of God.
As well as having instituted these two things in his mission, Jesus Christ continues to play a key role in both of them. Jesus Christ’s role as high priest is arguably the central aspect of God’s new covenant with his people. Jesus Christ’s reign as Lord of all things involves reigning over the kingdom of God. Additionally, his reign extends to reigning over all things that are as yet to be subjugated to God’s kingdom, which awaits consummation.
- Prelude: The OT Scriptures speak of God instituting a new covenant with his people – through the Messiah
- The first covenant (with its priesthood and law) was inadequate and superseded by the superior new covenant – through Jesus Christ . . .
- . . . Components of the first covenant were merely a shadow of what was to come in the new covenant
- Jesus Christ’s blood ratified the new covenant
- The new covenant is everlasting
- The new covenant is spiritual – of an internal nature and of the Holy Spirit
- Under the new covenant God’s people know him and are forgiven
- Other contrasting aspects of the new covenant with the old
- God’s Covenant with Israel and the Law
- Release from the Law through Jesus Christ
- Jesus Christ as High Priest
For a discussion of the term “covenant”, see the introductory comment on Key Old Testament Covenants. Note that in addition to a number of the following subsections, the superiority of God’s new covenant with his people to that of the old covenant (or first covenant) which God made with Israel, is further illustrated in the following section – Jesus Christ as High Priest. It discusses in detail the advantages of Jesus Christ’s priesthood of the new covenant over the priesthood of the old covenant.
Prelude: The OT Scriptures speak of God instituting a new covenant with his people – through the Messiah
Jer 31:31-34 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” ▤
The Messiah is in view here – and in the following passages – as the one through whom the new covenant would be established.
Isa 49:8b-9a I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages, 9saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’ ▤
This appears to have in view, partly at least, aspects of the Messiah’s work that will be achieved in Jesus Christ’s second coming. Many prophecies concerning the Messiah will not be fulfilled – or consummately fulfilled – until his return.
Mal 3:1 Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. ▤
The “messenger of the covenant” refers to the Messiah as the one who would institute the new covenant.
The first covenant (with its priesthood and law) was inadequate and superseded by the superior new covenant – through Jesus Christ . . .
The covenant which God made with Israel proved inadequate as Israel could not keep the covenant (by obeying its law) and consequently could not be righteous before God. But God has abolished the old covenant and introduced a superior new covenant – through Jesus Christ and his mission. Note that as the first covenant was based on the law, the earlier section Release from the Law through Jesus Christ, also points to the first covenant being abolished.
Heb 7:11-12, 15-22 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? 12For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. ▤ … 15This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17For it is witnessed of him, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” 18For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19(for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. 20And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, 21but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever.’” 22This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. ▤
In Psalm 110 David speaks of God installing a Davidic king as “a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek”, which is referred to here in vv. 11, 17, 21. With Jesus Christ in view, the writer asserts that this psalm indicates that there was need “for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron” (v. 11b). He implies that the fact that this was needed shows that the Levitical priesthood could not bring perfection (cf. Heb 10:1 ⇓) and that consequently the law (and covenant) that came with it (v. 11a) was inadequate and hence set aside (vv. 12, 18-19a). That this change has occurred, the writer points out, becomes more clear with the appearance of a priest of a different order (vv. 15-17). In vv. 20-22 the writer then asserts that because on oath God has made him a priest forever, Jesus Christ is the “guarantor of a better covenant” (v. 22). For discussion on Melchizedek and the superiority of his priesthood, see Jesus Christ was appointed by God as high priest forever, in the superior priestly order of Melchizedek. Note that “a better hope” (v. 19) is referring to the hope generated by either the new covenant in general, or more specifically the priesthood of Jesus Christ.
Heb 8:6-9, 13 But as it is, Christc has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. 7For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. 8For he finds fault with them when he says:d “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 9not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. ▤ … 13In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. ▤
c Greek he
d Some manuscripts For finding fault with it he says to them
The “ministry” (v. 6) Jesus has been given refers is his ministry as high priest, of a new covenant. God found “fault” (v. 8) with the people under the first covenant, because they did not remain faithful to it (v. 9).
Heb 10:8-10 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. ▤
The quotation from Psalm 40:6-8 (in the Septuagint) is here attributed to Jesus Christ, implying it was paralleled and fulfilled in Jesus Christ and his work. Verse 8 reflects the preliminary nature and limited capacity of the first covenant – a system requiring repetitive sacrifices and offerings. Verses 9-10 show that Jesus Christ came to set aside this first system of sacrifices with the new “system” based on his sacrifice, according to God’s will – a sacrifice which sanctifies us, something that the old system could not do.
Note that 9:15 in the following subsection also refers to Jesus Christ as “the mediator of a new covenant” – i.e. the one who brought the new covenant into being, or through whom it was brought into being.
1Pet 1:18-19 … knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. ▤
The phrase “the futile ways” may refer to the Jewish way of life under the old covenant, as being ultimately pointless and futile – useless for gaining salvation. As such these verses would speak of the first covenant being superseded through Jesus Christ. Alternatively the sinful, pointless way of life of non-Jews (cf. v. 14) may be in view.
Heb 10:1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. ▤
Col 2:16-17 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. ▤
The things listed in v. 16 were largely things (or references to things) of the old covenant – only a shadow of what was to be realized with Jesus Christ and the new covenant (v. 17).
Heb 8:1-2, 5 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2a minister in the holy places, in the true tente that the Lord set up, not man. ▤ … 5They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” ▤
e Or tabernacle; also verse 5
The sanctuary in heaven is very much a part of the new covenant, it being where Jesus Christ serves as the high priest of the new covenant (vv. 1-2). The earthly sanctuary of the old covenant – where its priests served – was merely “a copy and shadow” of the heavenly one, based on a “pattern” of it (v. 5).
Heb 9:1-15 Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. 2For a tentf was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence.g It is called the Holy Place. 3Behind the second curtain was a second sectionh called the Most Holy Place, 4having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. 5Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. 6These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, 7but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. 8By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing 9(which is symbolic for the present age).i According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. 11But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come,j then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctifyk for the purification of the flesh, 14how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify ourl conscience from dead works to serve the living God. 15Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.m ▤
f Or tabernacle; also verses 11, 21
g Greek the presentation of the loaves
h Greek tent; also verses 6, 8
i Or which is symbolic for the age then present
j Some manuscripts good things to come
k Or For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies
l Some manuscripts your
m The Greek word means both covenant and will; also verses 16, 17
This passage presents various parallels between the two covenants. It begins by describing important aspects of the first covenant (vv. 1-6). Then those of the new are contrasted directly to the limitations of the corresponding ones of the first (vv. 7-14) – paralleled in such a way that they illustrate how the things of the first covenant were merely a shadow of those of the second. In a sense they foreshadowed what was to come in the new covenant. In v. 11, “the good things that have come” is quite possibly speaking of the good things of the new covenant that had come.
Note that the “first section” (v. 8) was the outer section of the tabernacle, which in part was for a barrier to the second section, the Most Holy Place (vv. 2-7). Here it is used to represent “the entire system” (NLT) of the first covenant, which could not provide unrestricted access to God’s presence.
- What Jesus taught and introduced could not be contained in the religious order of the old covenant:
Matt 9:16-17 No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. 17Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved. ▤
By these illustrations Jesus implied that the things of the new covenant could not be contained nor restricted by the old covenant.
- Heb 9:11-15 ⇑
- Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of himself for us means that our sins can be forgiven . . .
- . . . and that we can therefore be justified and righteous before God
The shedding of Jesus Christ’s blood through his death, made it possible for people’s sins to be forgiven and so opened the way for the new relationship – or covenant – between God and his people. As the new covenant is made possible and instituted through Christ’s death, the shedding of his blood in effect ratified the new covenant – just as the sprinkling of “the blood of the covenant” by Moses ceremonially confirmed the old covenant (cf. Heb 9:16-20 ↓; Ex 24:6-8, in God made a covenant with Israel, based on his law . . .). Hence Jesus Christ’s blood, shed in his death, is described as “the blood of the covenant”.
n Some manuscripts insert new
o Some manuscripts omit, in whole or in part, verses 19b-20 (which is given . . . in my blood)
At the “last supper” Jesus used the cup of wine to symbolize his blood that would be shed (cf. Matt 26:28 ↑) in ratifying the new covenant.
Heb 9:15-20 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.p 16For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” ▤
p The Greek word means both covenant and will; also verses 16, 17
In verses 15-17, the author uses a word play – the same Greek word being used for both “will” and “covenant” (cf. v. 15 text note). He draws a parallel between the necessity of Jesus Christ’s death in order for the new covenant – with its promised eternal inheritance (v. 15) – to come into force, and the death of the maker of a will for the will to come into force. The author then emphasizes this point (vv. 18-20) by saying that there was this same necessity for the shedding of blood for the first covenant to be “inaugurated”. Thus Christ is the mediator of the new covenant because by his own death and blood he has inaugurated and correspondingly, as with a will, made its eternal inheritance now open to those who had been bound by sin under the inadequate first covenant (v. 15).
Heb 10:29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? ▤
The reference is to deliberately keeping on sinning after coming to know the truth (cf. v. 26), a contemptuous treatment of Jesus Christ and “the blood of the covenant” shed in his death.
The “sprinkled blood” is linked with Jesus’ role as mediator of the new covenant, and alludes to the sprinkling of the blood of the old covenant (Ex 24:5-8); thus this verse points to Jesus Christ’s blood being the blood of the new covenant. The latter part of the verse refers to Genesis 4:10, which metaphorically describes Abel’s blood as crying out to God. Christ’s blood “speaks a better word” in that it “speaks” of atonement rather than retribution.
The reference to Christ’s blood here appears to be linked to him being the “great Shepherd of the sheep”, rather than to the preceding clause (cf. NIV). As such, this verse seems to indicate that Jesus Christ is the Shepherd of God’s people through his blood of the covenant (cf. CEV, GNT, NLT) – i.e. by virtue of him sacrificing himself to establish God’s new covenant with his people.
1Pet 1:2 … according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. ▤
The phrase “sprinkling with his blood” may refer primarily to purification by Christ’s blood (cf. GNT, NCV, NLT), a reference to the sprinkling of the blood of animal sacrifices signifying purification. However, particularly with the prior reference to obedience, it may instead allude to Exodus 24:3-8, where the people were sprinkled with blood to signify their agreement to and them being bound to the first covenant with God (cf. Heb 9:18-20 ↑). If so, Peter may be implying here that it is the blood of Jesus Christ that ratifies the new covenant of God with his people (cf. CEV text note), with them in a spiritual sense being sprinkled by his blood, signifying their compliance to the new covenant. (Note that these two interpretations are not unrelated.)
- Just as things used under the first covenant needed to be cleansed with blood, their superior heavenly counterparts required purification with the better sacrifice of Jesus’ blood:
Heb 9:21-24 And in the same way he [Moses] sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. 23Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. ▤
The “heavenly things” (v. 23) appears to refer to elements of God’s heavenly sanctuary. It is not clear in what sense they needed to be purified. One possibility is that Paul is to some degree speaking figuratively, highlighting the need for a greater sacrifice (than those made for the things of the earthly sanctuary) in order to enter God’s most holy presence in heaven, to atone for unholy sins.
The uses of “covenant” in the OT references in this subsection are usually considered to most likely refer to the new covenant. However some of them may also have in view an ultimate fulfillment in a millennium age. Note that a covenant of such a future age may be in view in Ezekiel 34:25 and 37:26, which make reference to an everlasting “covenant of peace” (cf. Israel will have peace – and no fear – forever . . .).
This quite possibly is speaking of the new covenant, while also having in view God’s promise to David of an unending dynasty – a promise linked to Jesus Christ’s accomplishments in his first mission (cf. Acts 13:34) and which will culminate in Jesus Christ’s reign on his return.
q Or robbery with a burnt offering
The eternal nature of the new “everlasting covenant” is reinforced in this verse by it saying that God will not stop doing good to his people and that they will not turn away from him.
This refers to the new covenant (cf. v. 6 ⇓) as permanent.
Under the new covenant God’s people are renewed internally. As such they are able to abide by the new covenant and worship God in their hearts and minds, or spirit. God facilitates all this through his Holy Spirit, who lives and works in his people as they live under the new covenant.
Isa 59:21 “And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore.” ▤
God’s “words” may well refer to – or at least be inclusive of – his laws (cf. AMP, GNT). As such this verse appears to imply that under the new covenant the Holy Spirit “writes the law of God inwardly on the heart” (AMP; cf. Jer 31:33 ↓; Ezek 36:26-27 ↓).
Jer 31:33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. ▤
Under the new covenant God’s laws have become internal principles, not just commands from an external source. Bear in mind that the reference to “the house of Israel” (cf. Heb 8:10 ⇓) is applicable to the new people of God, inclusive of Gentiles.
Ezek 36:26-27 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.r ▤
r Or my just decrees
This is generally understood to be referring to or have a fulfillment in the new covenant, in which God would renew his people internally – including giving them his Holy Spirit – and move them to follow his laws (cf. Jer 31:33 ↑).
John 4:19-24 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” ▤
Under the old covenant the Jews were to carry out worship practices – such as sacrifices and annual feasts – only in Jerusalem, the location of the temple. Jesus’ teaching points to the new covenant, the time when worship would be “in spirit and truth” – internal and not subject to geographical restrictions.
s Greek of the letter
Although not necessarily intended, the terms “the new way” and “the old way” parallel the new covenant and the old covenant. As such this verse at least reflects – and quite possibly teaches – that the new covenant is “of the Spirit” (cf. 2Cor 3:3, 6-8 ↓), as per the theme of this subsection.
2Cor 3:3-8 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.t 4Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God 6who has made us competentu to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? ▤
t Greek fleshly hearts
u Or sufficient
Verse 3 portrays God’s people under the new covenant. The Corinthians’ new spiritual lives were composed not with ink but with God’s Holy Spirit, “not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (v. 3b). This clause alludes to the two covenants. As such it contrasts the old covenant with the new covenant under which the Corinthians’ new spiritual lives were formed – the latter covenant being written with the Spirit internally on human hearts, as reflected in v. 6. Verse 8 further associates the Holy Spirit with the new covenant. Note that “the letter” (v. 6) is a reference to the law – which brings death, in contrast to the Spirit.
Under the new covenant, God’s people know him more intimately and more completely. Also under the new covenant, the forgiveness of God’s people which the old covenant foreshadowed and signified is emphatically and comprehensively accomplished.
Heb 8:10-12 For this is the covenant that 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. 11And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more. ▤
This is a quotation from Jeremiah 31:31-34 (cf. Jer 31:33 ⇑; Heb 10:16-18 ↓). Verses 11-12 show that under God’s new covenant, all God’s people know him and their sins are truly forgiven. Note that v. 10b speaks of the new covenant also fulfilling a primary aim of the old covenant – “I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (cf. Jer 24:7 ↓).
Particularly with the covenantal language of the second clause, this is quite probably looking forward to the new covenant which Jeremiah describes a few chapters later in 31:31-34 (cf. Heb 8:10-12 ↑). In conjunction with knowing him personally, God’s people will know – and not lose sight of – who he is.
Heb 10:16-18 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” 17then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” 18Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. ▤
Under the new covenant the sins of God’s people are totally forgiven (v. 17) and so no further sacrifices are required (v. 18).
The context is the turning to God of Israel as a whole at the end of the age. The new covenant – with its forgiveness for those who turn to God – is generally considered to be in view.
2Cor 3:6-11 … [God] who has made us competentv to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory. ▤
v Or sufficient
In contrast to the old covenant based on the law, the new covenant brings life through the Spirit (v. 6). The new covenant also far exceeds the old covenant in its glory (vv. 7-9). Paul shows the new covenant to be more glorious by pointing out that it is: of the Spirit (v. 8); brings righteousness (v. 9); and is everlasting (v. 11).
Gal 4:22-26, 28-31 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia;w she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. ▤ … 28Now you,x brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. ▤
w Some manuscripts For Sinai is a mountain in Arabia
x Some manuscripts we
Those under the old covenant are like Hagar’s children in that they are: merely “born according to the flesh” (vv. 23, 29); in slavery under the yoke of the law given at Mount Sinai (vv. 24-25), as exemplified by those of “the present Jerusalem” (v. 25); and without a share in the inheritance of God’s people (v. 30). In contrast, those under the new covenant are: born (or reborn spiritually) by the power of the Holy Spirit, as the result of a promise (vv. 23, 28-29); free from the yoke of the law (vv. 26, 31; cf. 5:1), typified by “the Jerusalem above” (cf. Heb 12:22 ↓) which is free (v. 26); and will “inherit with the son of the free woman” (v. 30).
Heb 12:18-24 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” 22But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23and to the assemblyy of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. ▤
y Or church
Verses 18-21 speak of the giving of the law at Mount Sinai, reflecting unappealing aspects of the old covenant such as its less spiritual nature, fearsomeness and severity. The wonderful aspects of the new covenant – to which and to whom believers “have come” – are then stated in contrast (vv. 22-24). The “assembly of the firstborn” (v. 23) likely refers to believers, either: as those who in Christ will share in the blessings that he (the firstborn Son) has won; or simply as those who are of Christ, having followed him.
- Jesus Christ is the high priest of God’s people – representing them before God in the superior heavenly sanctuary
- Jesus Christ was appointed by God as high priest forever, in the superior priestly order of Melchizedek
- Previous sacrifices offered by priests were ultimately ineffective in dealing with sin . . .
- . . . As high priest, Jesus Christ sacrificed for sin once and for all
- As high priest, Jesus Christ continues to intercede for God’s people
- Jesus Christ is a high priest who is perfect – but can still identify with his people’s humanity
As referred to earlier, in the replacement of God’s old covenant with Israel by God’s new covenant with all who are now his people, the Levitical priesthood of the old covenant has been replaced by Jesus Christ’s priesthood of the new covenant. The following subsections highlight the superiority of Jesus Christ’s priesthood to the Levitical priesthood.
Jesus Christ is the high priest of God’s people – representing them before God in the superior heavenly sanctuary
z Or brothers and sisters; also verse 12
In accordance with the faith, believers confess Jesus Christ to be their high priest.
The “house of God” refers to the church (cf. 3:6), the family of believers. Jesus Christ is the high priest of all God’s people.
Heb 6:19-20 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. ▤
In speaking of Jesus Christ ministering before God in his heavenly sanctuary, this refers or alludes to the earthly tabernacle set up in Moses’ time (cf. The ark was kept in the Most Holy Place, shielded by a veil – in the tabernacle and later the temple . . .). This tabernacle was God’s temporary earthly sanctuary and dwelling place with his people. It was there that the priests performed their most sacred duties. The following passages also refer to this tabernacle, which was a tent structure.
Heb 8:1-2, 5 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2a minister in the holy places, in the true tenta that the Lord set up, not man. ▤ … 5They [other high priests] serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” ▤
a Or tabernacle; also verse 5
Verse 5 underlines the superiority of the heavenly sanctuary, of which the earthly one is merely “a copy and shadow”.
Heb 9:11-12, 24 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come,b then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. ▤ … 24For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. ▤
b Some manuscripts good things to come
As indicated by v. 24, “the holy places” is used in v. 12 to refer to the heavenly sanctuary, wherein is the very presence of God – as does the “greater and more perfect tent” (v. 11). In contrast to the earthly high priests who only entered a man-made sanctuary, and that only briefly once a year – Jesus Christ entered into the heavenly sanctuary, “once for all” (v. 12).
- High priests represent people before God:
Jesus Christ was appointed by God as high priest forever, in the superior priestly order of Melchizedek
Genesis 14:18-20 tells of Abraham (then Abram) meeting with Melchizedek, who was king of Salem (which would become Jerusalem). It refers to Melchizedek as “priest of God Most High”, indicating he was a priest and worshipper of the Lord. Aside from Hebrews, the only other time that Melchizedek is mentioned in the Bible is in Psalms 110:4, a messianic verse, quoted below in Hebrews 5:6 and 7:17, 21. The meeting between Abraham and Melchizedek – along with the implications arising out of it – is discussed at the end of this subsection in Hebrews 7:1-10.
Aspects of the superiority of Jesus Christ’s priesthood in the order of Melchizedek (over the Levitical priesthood) are discussed in most of the following passages. Most notable is the fact that Jesus Christ’s priesthood is everlasting.
Heb 5:5-6, 9-10 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; 6as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” ▤ … 9And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. ▤
The first quotation (v. 5b) is from Psalm 2, which was composed for the coronation of kings. It is quite possibly being used here both to reflect the fact that God had appointed Jesus Christ as high priest and to assert the superiority of his priesthood, him being both a king and God’s Son. Along with the second quotation, it shows that like Melchizedek Jesus Christ is both a king and a high priest.
Heb 7:11-17 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? 12For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. 13For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. 14For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17For it is witnessed of him, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” ▤
The Levitical priesthood, with the law, was inadequate and so there was the need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek (v. 11). In vv. 13-14 the writer indicates that this priest is Jesus Christ, from the tribe of Judah rather than the tribe of Levi. “This” (v. 15a) probably refers to the assertion that there has been a change in the priesthood and the law (v. 12; cf. NLT), with the previous ones having been inadequate (v. 11). That this change has occurred becomes clearer with the appearance of a priest of a different order (who is Christ). His appointment has been made (in part at least) on the basis of an indestructible life, and thus he has an everlasting priesthood in the order of Melchizedek (vv. 15-17; cf. v. 24 ↓).
Heb 7:20-25 And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, 21but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever.’” 22This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. 23The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermostc those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. ▤
c That is, completely; or at all times
The fact that God appointed Jesus Christ as a priest forever is affirmed by God having done so with an oath (vv. 20-21). This guarantees that the new order or covenant is a superior one (v. 22), in part at least because as its high priest endures forever it will also. A further advantage of Jesus Christ’s priesthood is that with it being everlasting, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him (v. 25).
d Greek he
The ministry or priesthood Jesus Christ has received from God is as superior to the Levitical high priesthood as the new covenant is to the old covenant.
- Melchizedek’s superiority to Abraham and the Levitical priesthood:
Heb 7:1-10 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. 3He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever. 4See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! 5And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers,e though these also are descended from Abraham. 6But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. 8In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. 9One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, 10for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him. ▤
e Or brothers and sisters
This shows Melchizedek’s spiritual superiority to both Abraham and the Levitical priesthood that came from Abraham, the priests being Abraham’s descendents. Melchizedek’s superiority is evidenced by Abraham giving him “a tenth part of everything” (vv. 2, 4-10) and by him blessing Abraham (vv. 1, 6-7). It is also alluded to by that fact that no account is given of Melchizedek’s ancestry, birth or death – which is interpreted to imply an everlasting priesthood (vv. 3, 8; cf. vv. 15-17 ↑). Additionally, note that the meanings of his name and his kingly title (v. 2) have messianic overtones.
Note that the contrasts made in this and the following subsection between Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and those made by priests, largely refer to the high priest’s sacrifice for the sins of all the people on the annual Day of Atonement – the most significant sacrifice stipulated in the law.
Heb 9:7-10 … but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. 8By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing 9(which is symbolic for the present age).f According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. ▤
f Or which is symbolic for the age then present
Verse 7 reflects how because of their sin people cannot stand in God’s presence. The fact that only the high priest could enter into God’s presence, and only once a year, illustrates the insufficiency of the sacrifices in eradicating sin. (For if the sacrifices had have eradicated sin, then the people themselves could have entered God’s presence on a regular basis.) So the gifts and sacrifices could not clear the conscience of the worshiper (v. 9b). They were merely external procedures (v. 10), never able to cleanse the heart and deal effectively with sin.
Note that v. 10 appears to refer more to regulations regarding ceremonial cleanness than offerings specifically for sin. But with the prior reference to offerings for sin (v. 7) and the subsequent discussion of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of himself (cf. vv. 11-14) what is said in v. 9b regarding the shortcomings of these regulations is likely also referring to or at least applicable to sin offerings. This is further supported by the parallels made between uncleanness and sin in the OT.
Heb 10:1-6 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5Consequently, when Christg came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; 6in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. ▤
g Greek he
Following on from vv. 1-4, vv. 5-6 further emphasize that the sacrifices of the old covenant were ineffective in removing sin.
The second sentence indicates that the sins committed under the old covenant were not satisfactorily punished or dealt with (and because of God’s righteousness could not remain as such). This shows that – in contrast to God’s presentation of Jesus Christ as a “propitiation” – previous sacrifices were ultimately ineffective in dealing with sin.
Heb 9:11-12 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come,h then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. ▤
h Some manuscripts good things to come
Verse 12 refers to the high priest being required to enter the Most Holy Place with the blood of sacrificed animals each time he entered, which was annually on the Day of Atonement. This was to make atonement for the Most Holy Place – because of its defilement by the people’s sins – and as part of the process of making atonement for the people’s sin (cf. Lev 16:11-17). In contrast to the high priests of the old covenant, by the sacrifice of himself Jesus Christ entered into God’s presence once for all, by his own blood – “thus securing an eternal redemption” (v. 12).
Heb 9:24-28 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. ▤
In contrast to the high priest who sacrifices every year with blood that is not his own (v. 25b), Jesus Christ sacrificed for sin once and for all by “the sacrifice of himself” (v. 26) – i.e. with his own blood.
Heb 10:10, 12-18 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. ▤ … 12But when Christi had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. 15And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” 17then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” 18Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. ▤
i Greek this one
j Some manuscripts died
- Jesus Christ is the high priest of God’s people – representing them before God in the superior heavenly sanctuary
Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for sin – to make God’s people holy and reconcile them to God – was itself a form of intercession on their behalf. Further to this, in his ongoing priestly ministry for them, Jesus Christ continues to intercede before God for them, speaking to God on their behalf. This second aspect is in view in this subsection.
Heb 7:23-25 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermostk those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. ▤
k That is, completely; or at all times
l Or Is it Christ Jesus who died . . . for us?
Even “now” Jesus Christ appears for us before God “as our Advocate” (NLT).
Job 16:19-21 Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and he who testifies for me is on high. 20My friends scorn me; my eye pours out tears to God, 21that he would argue the case of a man with God, asm a son of man does with his neighbor. ▤
m Hebrew and
This OT reference is not necessarily pointing directly to Jesus Christ, but is often understood to anticipate his intercessory role. Note that what Job is actually saying or meaning is also debatable, particularly in vv. 20-21.
Rom 5:9-10 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. ▤
The latter parts of each of these two verses may well refer to Jesus Christ’s present life and ministry for believers – largely that pertaining to his role as high priest of God’s people, particularly his intercession for them. However, note that some commentators interpret them instead as referring to believers being saved through sharing in Christ’s resurrected life in their union with him.
- Jesus’ prayer of intercession for his disciples and all believers:
John 17:9, 11, 15, 17, 20-21, 24 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. ▤ … 11And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. ▤ … 15I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. ▤ … 17Sanctify themo in the truth; your word is truth. ▤ … 20“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. ▤ … 24Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. ▤
n Or from evil
o Greek Set them apart (for holy service to God)
Note that Luke 22:32a tells of an instance of Jesus interceding in prayer on behalf of one of his people (Simon Peter): “… but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.”
Jesus Christ is a high priest who is himself perfect. As such Jesus Christ: was able to offer himself as the perfect sacrifice; does not need to sacrifice for himself; and is able to remain always in God’s presence to represent his people. On the other hand, Jesus Christ is also a high priest who can identify with his people’s humanity. As such, being perfect yet empathetic, Jesus Christ is a high priest who will meet his people’s needs (cf. Heb 7:26 ↓; Heb 2:16-18 ↓; Heb 4:15-16 ↓).
Heb 7:26-28 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. 28For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever. ▤
Heb 5:8-10 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. ▤
References to Jesus Christ being made perfect (v. 9; cf. Heb 7:28 ↑; Heb 2:10 ↓) are not indicating that Jesus Christ was ever in any way imperfect. A common view is that they are speaking of him being perfectly molded for his high priestly role – in fully experiencing humanity through his suffering (v. 8 cf. Heb 2:10 ↓; Heb 4:15 ↓). Alternatively the verses may be speaking of Jesus Christ as being perfected in the sense of maturing in his incarnation, through his suffering. When he was very young he was not disobedient, but on the other hand he was still to learn to obey, or to obey in the most trying circumstances.
Heb 2:16-18 For surely it is not angels that he [Christ] helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. ▤
Jesus Christ can identify with his people’s humanity as he was “made like his brothers in every respect” (v. 17) and “he himself has suffered when tempted” (v. 18). And so we have “a merciful and faithful high priest” (v. 17), “able to help those who are being tempted” (v. 18).
Heb 4:15-16 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. ▤
The “help” (v. 16) may be from God rather than Jesus Christ. But even so, these verses indicate that Christ’s identification with his people’s humanity is critical to obtaining such help, with him as high priest representing them before God in their time of need.
- Every high priest is selected from among men:
In saying that every high priest is “chosen from among men”, this points to the need for Jesus Christ to have become like his people in order to represent them before God as their high priest.
- The kingdom of God came in Jesus Christ’s mission
- The kingdom of God will come in all its fullness in the future
- The spiritual nature of the kingdom of God
- The dynamism and power of the kingdom of God
- The great cost of participating in the kingdom of God
- Those who will enter the kingdom of God . . .
- . . . Those to whom the kingdom of God belongs
- Those who will not enter nor inherit the kingdom of God
- Note: The kingdom of God is also the kingdom of Jesus Christ
NT teaching on the kingdom of God (or the kingdom of heaven) follows on from OT teaching on God’s reign or kingship (cf. God Reigns Supreme). It indicates that Jesus Christ’s coming inaugurated a more far-reaching, spiritual dimension of God’s reign. Its domain is in the hearts and minds of those who submit to God. This kingdom of God also has both a present and future dimension – existing now, but only being fully consummated at the end of the age. Then God’s authority will be fully imposed in all spheres of existence – once and for all.
Note that the kingdom of God is often spoken of as Jesus Christ’s kingdom (cf. Note: The kingdom of God is also the kingdom of Jesus Christ).
Mark 1:14-15 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” ▤
With Jesus’ mission, the time had come for the kingdom of God to “come near” (NRSV).
p Or has been coming violently
John the Baptist’s ministry was to prepare the way for Jesus’ ministry, so in it was the beginnings of the coming of the kingdom of God (cf. Luke 16:16 ↓). The verse is speaking of either: hostile forces opposing the kingdom (as per the ESV text); or the kingdom “forcefully advancing” (NIV®; cf. ESV text note), with fervent people pressing their way into it (cf. Luke 16:16 ↓).
q Or everyone is forcefully urged into it
Matt 13:11, 17 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. ▤ … 17For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. ▤
In v. 11, “to them it has not” refers to listeners with calloused hearts. In v. 17, the “prophets and righteous people” were OT prophets and righteous people who lived before Jesus came and had looked forward to the coming of the kingdom – including the things associated with its coming such as referred to in v. 11.
That Jesus “sowed” the people of the kingdom into the world shows that in his mission the kingdom had indeed come.
Luke 17:20-21 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, 21nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”r ▤
r Or within you, or within your grasp
Jesus appears to be saying that the coming of the kingdom of God was not going to be manifested with wondrous signs, but was in fact already in the midst of them – presumably meaning in Jesus himself, along with his work and teaching, and in the lives of his followers. However, note the alternative renderings in the text note.
Generally commentators do not consider that “coming” is here referring to Christ’s second coming. Although many see this verse as alluding to the transfiguration (cf. 17:1-8), it possibly refers instead to Jesus Christ’s resurrection and the ensuing phase of the kingdom.
Rev 12:10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brotherss has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. ▤
s Or brothers and sisters
The things mentioned in the first clause of the quotation were established through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. However it is debatable as to whether this verse is referring to the present forms of these things. If it is, then the verse is pertinent to this subsection; otherwise it would be better placed in the following subsection.
- Rev 12:10 ⇑
- God will impose his absolute rule on all
- The Messiah will have a universal reign of righteousness and peace
t Or Let your name be kept holy, or Let your name be treated with reverence
u Or Let your kingdom come, let your will be done
“Your kingdom come” appears at least primarily to be a request for the full manifestation of the kingdom (cf. CEV, NLT), yet to be realized. Some commentators interpret it to also refer to the furthering of the kingdom in its present form. Possibly both aspects are in view.
The future judgment day is in view, when the righteous will be rewarded with participation in God’s kingdom in its complete form.
Luke 13:28-29 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. 29And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. ▤
This speaks of the future consummation of the kingdom, with the messianic banquet (v. 29; cf. Note: The feast in the kingdom of God).
The phrase “these things” refers to signs of the end of the age.
Luke 22:15-18 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16For I tell you I will not eat itv until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” ▤
v Some manuscripts never eat it again
The Passover, which was celebrated in remembrance of God’s saving the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, will be fulfilled in a more complete sense by the final salvation for God’s people in the future consummation of the kingdom. With this in view, it would appear that Jesus is alluding to the messianic banquet (cf. Luke 13:28-29 ↑) and God’s kingdom in the afterlife. Note, however, that as Jesus’ death with the salvation that it brought is also linked to the Passover (cf. 1Cor 5:7), some commentators think that Jesus may instead be referring to his appearance after his death and resurrection.
This appears to point to Jesus Christ implementing his Kingdom in its final form on his return (cf. CEV, GNT, NLT).
Paul appears to speak of a form of the kingdom that he will not experience until the afterlife.
Rev 11:15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” ▤
The setting is in the end times, when the whole world will be brought under God and Jesus Christ’s rule, becoming theirs. As such it will be integrated into the kingdom of God.
- Some people mistakenly thought that the kingdom was going to appear at once:
Luke 19:11-12 As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. 12He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. ▤
Following on from v. 11, v. 12 suggests that God’s kingdom would come in all its fullness only after Jesus had gone away and then returned – with Jesus quite likely telling the parable (cf. vv. 12-27) partly to correct the people’s mistaken notion (v. 11).
John 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” ▤
The first statement points to the spiritual nature of the kingdom, it not being a physical or material kind as are those in this world. In connection with this, the final statement speaks of the kingdom having an “origin or source” (AMP) from a place other than this world – i.e. heaven, ultimately God (cf. John 3:3 text note ↓). Jesus’ kingdom is a spiritual one, in contrast to the values, aims and methods of this world. As such his servants were not to turn to physical force.
Luke 17:20-21 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, 21nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”w ▤
w Or within you, or within your grasp
The final clause of v. 21 may well indicate that God’s kingdom is within the hearts of its people (cf. ESV text note, CEV text note). As such it is a spiritual kingdom – as opposed to being an observable thing (v. 20). (See also the earlier comment on these verses in The kingdom of God came in Jesus Christ’s mission.)
John 3:3, 5 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born againx he cannot see the kingdom of God.” ▤ … 5Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. ▤
x Or from above; the Greek is purposely ambiguous and can mean both again and from above; also verse 7
The members of God’s kingdom have been spiritually reborn, born of the Spirit (v. 5), born “from above” (v. 3 text note). Being born of the Holy Spirit involves the spiritual renewal produced by the Spirit, which we open ourselves to in humbly turning to God. There are a number of interpretations as to what “water” (v. 5) refers. These include: spiritual cleansing; water baptism, for repentance; the Holy Spirit (cf. John 7:37-39); God’s word (cf. Eph 5:26; 1Pet 1:23); or physical birth. With the last interpretation, “born of water and the Spirit” would then mean that one needs to be born physically and also spiritually.
Being a spiritual domain, godly spiritual traits are of great importance in the kingdom of God (cf. Rom 14:17 ↑). One prominent such trait is humility, which not only enables one to enter the kingdom (cf. v. 3) but is also critical for one’s continuing participation in the kingdom and spiritual growth.
Luke 8:10 … he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ ▤
The kingdom of God holds secrets hidden from the people of “the world”. Such secrets regard spiritual matters, and are given to or discerned by those with spiritual openness and spiritual insight.
- Reversals in the rewards of God’s kingdom:
Jesus said this when speaking of rewards bestowed when the kingdom is consummated (cf. 19:28-20:16). The implication appears to be that rewards in the kingdom will be not as one might expect; in fact they will generally reflect the reverse of worldly values. As such one should be wary of being presumptuous or acquisitive (cf. v. 27) in contemplating one’s reward.
Matt 13:31-33 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” 33He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” ▤
The point of these parables is that despite its small beginnings, the kingdom of heaven will spread throughout the world.
Mark 4:26-29 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” ▤
The phrase “produces by itself” (v. 28) indicates that the growth of the kingdom is not brought about simply by human effort. Rather it is in a way that is in fact beyond human comprehension – “he knows not how” (v. 27). There are a number of differing interpretations of this parable, or at least of aspects of it. The parable may be depicting the growth of the kingdom through the spreading of the gospel (i.e. the scattering of the seed) which produces a harvest of converts. It may instead be illustrating the spiritual growth in believers or members of the kingdom. It could also be referring to the growth and eventual consummation of the kingdom, with the harvest involving judgment. All such interpretations of this parable speak of the remarkable growth of God’s kingdom, pointing to its dynamism and power.
God’s kingdom “consists of and is based on” (AMP) spiritual power – not talk.
Heb 12:27-28 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, … ▤
The power of God’s kingdom is such that it cannot be “destroyed” (NLT) – in contrast to created things (v. 27) – or derailed.
- The greatness of those in the kingdom of God:
There are different interpretations of how “one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than” John. Possibly the most common one is that this is referring to the superior or more privileged position of those who have already entered the kingdom, in contrast to those – such as John – who had lived under the old covenant.
Matt 13:44-46 The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. ▤
Although some commentators have a somewhat different understanding, both these parables seem to be essentially illustrating the absolute cost of the kingdom of God; one must be prepared to forgo everything for it. Note the joy in doing so that is apparent in v. 44.
Luke 9:59-62 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60And Jesusy said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” ▤
y Greek he
This speaks of the cost of serving in the kingdom of God, with it requiring us to make it the main priority and focus of our lives – above everything else. For further comment see Put God and Jesus Christ before everyone else.
Luke 18:22-30 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 23But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. 24Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” 28And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” 29And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothersz or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” ▤
z Or wife or brothers and sisters
Jesus command to sell everything (v. 22) is given here to an extremely rich man whose main spiritual problem was that he loved his riches. The extent that this command is relevant to people generally is debatable. At the very least it suggests that to follow Jesus Christ and enter God’s kingdom one needs to shed all that is not a necessity for living. Verses 28-29 speak of giving up even the dearest of things for the sake of the kingdom of God.
Rev 1:9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. ▤
This associates suffering (along with the need for patient endurance) with participating in God’s kingdom.
Matt 18:1-4 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. ▤
Similar to Matthew 18:1-4 above, this speaks of the humility, trust and receptiveness exemplified in little children (cf. Matt 19:14 ⇓), which are required to enter God’s kingdom.
Matt 21:31-32 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him. ▤
This and Mark 1:14-15 below indicate that those who repent and believe will enter the kingdom of God. Those portrayed as such here are those who recognized themselves to be sinners – the tax collectors and the prostitutes – as opposed to the self-righteous chief priests and elders to whom Jesus was speaking.
Mark 1:14-15 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” ▤
John 3:3, 5 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born againa he cannot see the kingdom of God.” ▤ … 5Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. ▤
a Or from above; the Greek is purposely ambiguous and can mean both again and from above; also verse 7
Mark 12:28-34a And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” ▤
Realizing the utmost importance of love for God and for others – particularly as opposed to external aspects of religion (v. 33) – is critical for drawing near to God’s kingdom. For to participate in God’s kingdom, one’s life must be based on love for God and others.
Note that the future form of the kingdom is in view in this and the remaining verses.
2Pet 1:10-11 Therefore, brothers,b be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. ▤
b Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church
In v. 10 Peter refers to the spiritual qualities listed earlier in vv. 5-7 (i.e. faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love). One needs to nurture and grow in such things, acting accordingly, to ensure one’s entry into God’s kingdom at the end of the age.
Note that those to whom the kingdom of God belongs are the same as those who will enter it.
To be “poor in spirit” (v. 3) means to be aware of one’s spiritual need, with the suggestion of looking to God to fulfill such need.
The kingdom of God will be given to those who produce the spiritual “fruits” that are of the kingdom. These “fruits” involves the spiritual traits and practices that characterize the kingdom and its citizens. Jesus may have primarily in view producing such “fruits” in oneself or in the world – or both.
Matt 25:34-36, 40 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ ▤ … 40And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,c you did it to me.’ ▤
c Or brothers and sisters
For comments on this and the following verse from James, see the comments on Luke 6:20-21 and James 2:5 – under . . . Contrastingly, the poor are given prominence as recipients of the gospel and God’s kingdom.
- God enables people to participate in the kingdom:
Col 1:12-13 … giving thanksd to the Father, who has qualified youe to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, … ▤
d Or patience, with joy giving thanks
e Some manuscripts us
Note that somewhat similarly Revelation 5:10 speaks of Jesus Christ forming his people into a kingdom – akin to enabling them to participate in the kingdom of God. It says: “… and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
Anyone who is like the Pharisees – with their hypocritical and self-righteous ways, and closed mindedness – will not enter God’s kingdom.
Matt 7:21-23 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ ▤
The “workers of lawlessness” (v. 23b) are people who have not done “the will of my Father who is in heaven” (v. 21b). Those who claim to be Christians and to have done such works will not enter God’s kingdom if they have in fact not sought to do the will of God.
Matt 13:41, 47-50 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, ▤ … 47“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ▤
1Cor 6:9-10 Or do you not know that the unrighteousf will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,g 10nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. ▤
f Or wrongdoers
g The two Greek terms translated by this phrase refer to the passive and active partners in consensual homosexual acts
Gal 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21envy,h drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. ▤
h Some manuscripts add murder
Matt 5:19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. ▤
Being “called least in the kingdom of heaven” may be referring to the consummation of the kingdom and its reign enveloping all creation, with such people being deemed as the least of all people – in effect condemned. As such this verse would be applicable to this subsection. However, the phrase “in the kingdom of heaven” suggests that such people may still be accepted into the kingdom rather than necessarily being shut out and in hell. Furthermore, with “these commandments” most likely referring to the OT law, Jesus may be speaking of these commands being incorrectly downplayed by some teachers under the new covenant, in the present form of God’s kingdom that he introduced – rather than them generally flouting Christian teaching.
- It is extremely difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God:
Mark 10:23-25 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it isi to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” ▤
i Some manuscripts add for those who trust in riches
As shown in the following section, Jesus Christ as Lord of All, God has granted authority over all things to Jesus Christ. This includes authority over his kingdom (cf. Luke 2:29 ↓). Thus the kingdom can be referred to as being of God and also as being of Jesus Christ.
This verse and Revelation 11:15 below are instances of the kingdom being referred to as being of both Jesus Christ and God. The subsequent verses are largely examples of it being spoken of as being Jesus Christ’s. (There are of course numerous times where it is spoken of as being God’s kingdom, as seen earlier.)
Rev 11:15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” ▤
John 18:36-37 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” ▤
“My kingdom” (v. 36) can be equated with the kingdom of God. “You say that I am a king” (v. 37) appears to affirm that he is a king (cf. AMP, NIV, NLT). Jesus’ answer in v. 37 seems to associate his bearing witness to the truth with his kingship, perhaps pointing to his authority to propagate truth.
- Jesus Christ’s handing over of the kingdom to God:
1Cor 15:24-28 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For “Godj has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. ▤
j Greek he
Jesus Christ will reign until he has subdued all his enemies (v. 25). Then the end of this age will come when he turns the kingdom over to God (v. 24).
- Following his death and resurrection, God exalted Jesus Christ to his right hand . . .
- . . . and God made Jesus Christ Lord of all
- God has given Jesus Christ authority and power over all things
- God has entrusted everything to Jesus Christ – and made him heir of all things
- Jesus Christ has power over all other powers
- Jesus Christ’s power extends over death
- In the end, all Jesus Christ’s enemies will be made his footstool – totally conquered
- Jesus Christ has mighty, sovereign power
- Note: The kingdom of God is also the kingdom of Jesus Christ
- God has appointed Jesus Christ judge and will judge all people through him
- The Messiah will have a universal reign of righteousness and peace
- Jesus Christ is the church’s Lord and ruler
God has made Jesus Christ Lord of all things, to rule over all creation on God’s behalf.
The NT speaks of Jesus Christ’s lordship as being initiated or affirmed, in him being pronounced Lord of all upon his post-resurrection exaltation to God’s right hand. However, note that some verses suggest that in some sense at least he was Lord of all things prior to this, speaking of his prior power or authority over all things. This point is discussed further in the comments under Luke 2:11 and Colossians 1:15-18 in . . . and God made Jesus Christ Lord of all.
- Acts 5:31 ⇓; Phil 2:9 ⇓
- Jesus was taken up to God in heaven
- Because he had willingly suffered death, God exalted and glorified Jesus Christ
In seating Jesus Christ at his right hand, God exalted Jesus Christ in honor and authority above every other being.
The phrase “seated at the right hand of the power of God” alludes to Psalm 110:1 (cf. Acts 2:34 ↓; Heb 1:13 ↓), which is understood to be messianic. The phrase speaks of being in God’s presence with divine authority. Note that Jesus said this when on trial before the council of the elders, and so some commentators take it to mean that from that point on he was in a sense at God’s right-hand. However it is probably more commonly understood that Jesus was referring to when he would return to heaven.
Acts 2:32-34 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, … ▤
Acts 7:55-56 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” ▤
k Or Is it Christ Jesus who died . . . for us?
Eph 1:19-20 … and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, … ▤
Heb 1:3b-5, 13 After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. 5For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”? ▤ … 13And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? ▤
The first quotation in v. 5 is from Psalms 2:7. Psalm 2 is a coronation psalm, and it appears to be quoted here in reference to Christ’s enthronement at God’s right hand. The second quotation is part of the promise given to David that future kings in his line would have a special relationship with God likened to a father-son relationship. Quoting it here in reference to Christ signifies his enthronement as a Davidic king (at God’s right hand) and to him being God’s son. Verse 13 quotes from Psalm 110:1 (cf. Luke 2:69 ↑).
l Greek this one
This speaks of both Jesus Christ’s role as High Priest – in sacrificing for sins – and his enthronement at the right hand of God. The messianic Psalm 110 (referred to above) also speaks of the Messiah both sitting at God’s right hand and being a priest: ‘The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” … 4The The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”’ As Jesus Christ has both the position of sovereign authority at God’s right hand and the office of high priest (as discussed earlier in this chapter), he fulfills this prophecy from Psalm 110 and also that of Zechariah 6:11-13 (cf. The OT promises that such a one would arise as a great ruler of Israel), which likewise speaks of the Messiah being both high priest and king.
Heb 12:2 … looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. ▤
This reflects the fact that Jesus Christ is seated at God’s right hand. It emphatically highlights Jesus Christ’s position of authority in saying that he sat down “with” God “on his [God’s] throne”.
Preceding this in vv. 24-35, Peter declares that David was prophesying about the Messiah’s resurrection in Psalms 16:10 and the Messiah’s exaltation to the position of supreme authority at God’s right hand in Psalms 110:1 (cf. Acts 2:34 ⇑). In his message Peter implies that God’s raising and exaltation of Jesus (cf. Acts 2:32-33 ⇑) fulfills these prophecies. By so doing, Peter asserts here in v. 36, God has designated Jesus as Lord of all things and to be the promised Messiah or Christ.
The term rendered “Leader” points to Jesus Christ’s lordship.
Phil 2:9-11 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ▤
Commentators differ as to whether “name” (v. 9b) is referring to Jesus Christ’s actual name. If it is, it would probably not be referring to “Jesus”, appearing to have been given after his exaltation (v. 9a). “Lord” would be a more likely candidate (cf. ZBC). Furthermore, being the Greek translation for the Hebrew “Lord”, it well fits the designation of “the name that is above every name” (v. 9). Whether it is or not referring to his actual name, it is clear that Jesus Christ’s rank above all others is reflected – something which will be shown in the future when all will acknowledge and submit to him as Lord (vv. 10-11).
Jude 1:4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. ▤
Although elsewhere Jesus is spoken of as being the “Lord” of individuals (cf. Lk 1:43; 6:46; 11:1), this and Mark 2:28 immediately above are notable examples of him being referred to as Lord in a more general sense prior to his exaltation.
The fact that Jesus Christ is the only Lord reflects the assertion that Jesus Christ is Lord of all.
- Jesus Christ is “the firstborn of all creation”:
Col 1:15-18 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For bym him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. ▤
m That is, by means of; or in
The term “firstborn” (v. 15) points to Christ’s pre-eminence, alluding to the privileged status of a firstborn son in Jewish society. This passage suggests that in some sense at least Jesus Christ has always been Lord of all things. This is pointed to by the description of Jesus Christ as “the firstborn of all creation” (v. 15), along with him being the creator and sustainer of all things (vv. 16, 17b) and the fact that all things were created for him (v. 16b). (Regarding the latter, see the comment on Col 1:16 – under God has entrusted everything to Jesus Christ – and made him heir of all things.) Similarly, some verses in the following two subsections suggest that Jesus had authority over all things in his mission prior to his death – in Matthew 28:18, John 3:35, John 13:3 and John 17:2. See also the cross references in the following subsection. But note that here in v. 18b, Paul appears to indicate that following his resurrection Jesus Christ’s authority had a wider or greater extent.
1Cor 15:27-28 For “Godn has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. ▤
n Greek he
In v. 23, “fills all in all” (cf. Eph 4:10 ↓) appears to speak of Jesus Christ extending and/or manifesting his presence and authority, “as head over all things” (v. 22). Alternatively or additionally, Paul may have in view Christ making all things complete (cf. AMP, GNT).
Jewish thought understood there to be different heavens. Paul asserts that Jesus Christ ascended higher and was supreme over all such heavens. In light of the above comment on 1:23, “fill all things” appears to speak of Jesus Christ being supreme throughout the whole universe.
Phil 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. ▤
Jesus Christ now has the power to bring everything under his control, but these verses appear to suggest that he will not fully do so until his return.
There are different interpretations of this verse. Interpretations of the “world to come” include the millennium, the afterlife and the present age (cf. NCV). The verse probably speaks of the subjection of this “world to come” to Jesus Christ, or possibly to him and his followers.
Rev 2:26-27 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. ▤
This indicates that God has given Jesus Christ authority over the nations.
This verse alludes to Isaiah 22:22, where “the key of the house of David” symbolized authority over David’s royal house. In parallel to this, here Jesus Christ is portrayed as holding “the key of David”, symbolizing his sole authority over entry into the kingdom of God. (cf. NBC) The latter part of the verse appears to further enforce this point – and also illustrates Jesus Christ’s supreme authority.
Rev 12:10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brotherso has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. ▤
o Or brothers and sisters
See the earlier comment on this verse in The kingdom of God came in Jesus Christ’s mission.
Dan 7:14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. ▤
This is a messianic prophecy, which the above NT verses imply has its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.
As is also implied by the previous subsections, God has entrusted all things to Jesus Christ as Lord (cf. Matt 1:27 ↓; John 3:35 ↓) and furthermore has made him the heir of all things (cf. Heb 1:2 ↓; Ps 2:8 ↓). The latter may largely have in view the future consummation of Jesus Christ’s authority, with all things being in complete submission to him.
Matt 11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. ▤
This is quite possibly speaking of God giving Jesus Christ “authority over everything” (NLT) – hence the verse’s inclusion here. But given the context, it may more specifically be speaking of hidden matters of God’s will (cf. vv. 25, 27b) being committed to Jesus.
This is considered to be messianic.
Matt 21:37-38 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ ▤
The son represents Jesus Christ and the “inheritance” would appear to be the vineyard in the parable (cf. v. 33) which represents Israel. As such this portrays Israel – or even God’s kingdom – as Jesus Christ’s inheritance or part thereof.
- All things were created for Jesus Christ:
p That is, by means of; or in
This would at least appear to be implying that all things were made for Jesus Christ and his purposes. Note that some commentators understand the assertion that all things were created “for him” to be more specifically indicating that Jesus Christ is the goal towards which all creation converges or moves. As such, all things were created for being in or of Jesus Christ.
Eph 1:19-21 … and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. ▤
1Pet 3:21-22 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. ▤
This demonstrates that Jesus Christ’s power is superior to Satan’s power.
Rev 17:12-14 And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. 13These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast. 14They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful. ▤
Rev 19:15-16 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. ▤
This is from a description of Jesus Christ’s return, where he crushes the forces of evil (cf. Rev 17:12-14 ↑) and enforces his authority and rule.
As the holder of the keys of death and the place of the dead, Jesus Christ has total authority over their domain – including authority over who goes in and out of them, and when.
This speaks of what Christ accomplished by his resurrection – he “broke the power of death” (NLT, cf. GNT), in a sense nullifying it. The following reference (1Cor 15:26) speaks of Jesus Christ’s final destruction of death at the end of the age, after which it will no longer have any effect on humankind. The nullification of death by Jesus Christ and the fact that he will destroy it completely, both illustrate his power over it.
John 10:17-18 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father. ▤
Even in his incarnation, death’s power over Jesus (cf. Rom 6:9 ↓) was limited (cf. Acts 2:24 ↓). While experiencing death himself, Jesus still had the authority to resume his life again (cf. John 2:19-21 ↓).
John 2:19-21 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21But he was speaking about the temple of his body. ▤
In conjunction with Jesus Christ having power over death, death no longer has any power over him.
- Jesus Christ has the power to give life:
John 5:21, 25-29 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. ▤ … 25“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. ▤
Verses 21, 25-26 may refer primarily to spiritual life (cf. v. 24) – which is eternal – although Jesus Christ’s power to resurrect the dead (vv. 28-29) could well be in view instead or in addition. Verse 26 indicates that Jesus has intrinsic life. The implication in this context is that – like the Father – Jesus is “the source of life” (GNT) with “the power to give life” (CEV).
These verses are messianic, speaking of the Messiah’s enemies being subjugated to him and his rule over them. In speaking of the Messiah’s enemies being made his footstool (v. 1), David portrays them as being conquered and either destroyed or in full submission to the Messiah. As shown below, v. 1 is applied to Jesus Christ in the NT.
Acts 2:33-35 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, 35until I make your enemies your footstool.’ ▤
Peter correlates Jesus being exalted to the right hand of God (v. 33a) with David’s prophetic messianic words (v. 34; cf. Ps 110:1 ↑).
Heb 10:12-13 But when Christq had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. ▤
q Greek this one
1Cor 15:24-25 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. ▤
This and 132:17-18 below are understood as referring to the Messiah and his conquest of his enemies.
Similar to 1 Corinthians 15:24-25 and the verses from Psalms above, this parable extract illustrates that ultimately Jesus Christ’s enemies will be destroyed.
- God will bring all things together in Jesus Christ:
Eph 1:9-10 … making knownr to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. ▤
r Or he lavished upon us in all wisdom and insight, making known . . .
God will bring all things together under the headship of Jesus Christ (cf. AMP, GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT).