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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

Hebrews 8



Other Authors
Verses 7-13



Pursuant to the great double experimental salvation of the gracious economy, everything in the Bible is double. Suntheekee means a covenant of man with man. Diatheekee means a covenant of God with man. This latter word is injudiciously translated testament. Instead of calling God’s book the Old and New Testament, we should say the Old and New Covenant, as that is the correct meaning of both the Hebrew and the Greek. The Mosaic is the old covenant, and being the most conspicuous transaction of the former dispensation, it gave name to God’s book. Hence we call it the Old Testament or, as we should say, the Old Covenant. The covenant of redemption made by the divinity and humanity of Christ is the great transaction of the New Testament. Hence it gives name to that wonderful book which should be called the New Covenant. These two covenants are unanswerable confirmations of the two works of grace wrought in the heart by the Holy Ghost, in the consummation of experimental salvation. Since the new covenant is the plan of salvation, of course it was inaugurated in heaven, about the time of the fall, when the Son of God espoused the lost cause. Abel and all of the antediluvian saints, as well as the postdiluvian patriarchs, were saved under the new covenant. It is called new in contradistinction to the covenant of probation which collapsed in Eden on Satan’s invasion. The adjective “new” has a further and deeper signification in the purely and transcendently gracious character of that covenant. “Old” conveys the idea of decay, dilapidation and evanescence. God, angels and redeemed spirits are eternally new. The grace of God is always new, bright, vital and heavenly. Hence when we receive the glorious experience of Christian perfection, pursuant to the wonderful provisions of the new covenant, our experience is no longer stale and old, but ever fresh, bright and buoyant. It is an effectual fortification against old age. Sanctified old people have the spiritual freshness and vigor of youth. The Mosaic covenant is called old, because it is a reminiscence of the primary probationary covenant, forfeited by Adam and Eve in the fall. Again it is called old because of its destined decay and transiency consequent upon its imperfection. The Edenic covenant once forfeited could never he regained. Under the omnipotent intervention of the new covenant, through the vicarious atonement of the eternal Son, the Edenic state is regained in the human soul in entire sanctification, and in the world in the millennium. Hence, as Paul says, the old covenant, or the law, is a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. The great signification of the law dispensation through its copious bloody rites and ceremonies, is to teach the world the great work of Christ, through the atoning and cleansing blood, and that of the Holy Ghost in regeneration and sanctification, emblematized by water, blood, fire and oil. The old covenant gives great prominence to the material phases of religion, i.e. the robed priest officiating and interceding, and bleeding birds and beasts, purifying ablutions and paying tithes, while the new covenant in its transcendent prominence of spiritualities throws all materialities into eternal eclipse.

7. This verse declares the imperfection of the Mosaic covenant, i.e., the justified experience.

8-10. These verses indisputably settle the question confirming the identity of the old covenant with the Mosaic, and at the same time certifying its insufficiency. Where your English says, “I will make a new covenant,” the Greek says, “I will complete a new covenant.” Hence the idea that the new covenant was a de novo transaction in the days of Christ on the earth, is untrue and untenable. When Christ came He perfected the new covenant of redemption, projected in heaven when He espoused the rescue of this fallen world, the same covenant He sealed with His blood when He died on the cross.

10. “This is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; putting my laws in their mind, truly I will write them on their heart: and I will be unto them a God, and they shall be unto me a people.” Here God clearly defines and lucidly expounds the differentia of the new covenant. It is peculiarized by His putting His laws in our minds, and writing them in our hearts, so we have nothing to do but read them, the Holy Spirit giving us all the help we need to discern and understand them.

11. “And they may not teach each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know ye the Lord because all shall know me from their small even unto the greatest.’” These verses clearly and unequivocally define the character and privilege of the new covenant. When we enter that covenant the Holy Spirit writes the laws of God in our minds, and superscribes them in our hearts, so that all, great and small, have a personal acquaintance with God, so clear, full and satisfactory, as to preclude the necessity of human teaching. The illiterate Hottentot, when fully saved, and filled with the Spirit, knows his duty to God each fleeting moment, and has at his command all the grace requisite to do God’s will. Hence you see the citizens of the new covenant are neither subject to, nor dependent on, human leaders and teachers. The Holy Ghost has become the Teacher and Leader of all, great and small, educated and illiterate. Unconverted people follow Satan only. Unsanctified Christians follow the Lord in a measure, but very largely do they follow human leaders. People who are sanctified wholly follow the Lord alone, enjoying the perfect freedom of God himself, which is full liberty to do everything good and nothing bad. This is the glorious freedom of God, angels and redeemed saints, which makes heaven so sweet. The new covenant was gloriously inaugurated by the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire on the day of Pentecost, consuming all the debris of original sin out of the heart, and sweeping away all the rubbish of Levitical rites and ceremonies. No wonder the carnal clergy in all ages have fought Christian perfection, because it interferes with their plan of ruling the people. Sanctified Moses was delighted when God raised tip seventy elders to share with him the labor and responsibility of leading Israel. When his and-holiness friends interposed and asked him to shut their mouths, lest they supersede him in his official majesty, in the chagrin of his righteous soul he shouted aloud, “Would to God that every man in Israel did prophesy!” Sanctified preachers are delighted with the relief from care and responsibility which legitimately supervenes upon the sanctification of their members. The poor deluded pastors fret and chafe, paralyze their nerves, get old prematurely and die before their time, because the care, labor and responsibility of leading their people is more than they can bear. If they were only sanctified they would let Jesus the Omnipotent Sanctifier bear all their burdens, cares, labors and responsibilities. How sad to see the Gospel Church in all lands toiling and sweating in legal bondage. They have not only resumed the laws of Moses, but they have made a thousand more and added to their burdens, already intolerable. The people work night and day and still fall far short of their duty, incurring the galling yoke of a guilty conscience in addition to insuperable toils of legal bondage. All this was apologetical during the dispensation of Moses. But since the Omnipotent Christ has forever superseded Moses and Aaron, triumphantly fulfilling the law by paying its full penalty, it is lamentable to see the ecclesiastical world again staggering under the law dispensation. This has postponed the millennium eighteen hundred years.

“Truly I say unto you that there are certain ones of those standing here who may not taste death till they may see the Son of man coining in His kingdom.” (Matthew 16:28)

We see clearly from this declaration of the Savior the glorious possibility of getting the world ready for the Lord to ride down on His millennial throne before the death of the Pentecostal generation. The Greek subjunctive shows the human contingency involved, which verily came to pass, i.e., the apostasy from the Pentecostal experience postponed the coming kingdom, by defeating the evangelization of the world. Consequently, the Lord is still waiting for sanctification to furnish a sufficiency of charter members to set up His kingdom. The glory of the millennial reign obtains largely in the fact that every subject, great and small, rich and poor, cultured and ignorant, will have the laws of God written in his heart and superscribed in his understanding. This will be the secret of universal harmony. It is true now with all who are wholly and really sanctified. Regardless of race, color, nationality, country, language, costume, sect or creed, they are a perfect unit and a universal brotherhood. What unutterable relief from the perplexity, ambiguity, incertitude and consummate bewilderment of human creeds, sectarian jargon, and autocratic despotism, to have the laws of God inscribed in our minds and written in our hearts, so we know our duty every moment of our existence, have all the grace we need to perform it, and are so delighted in doing the sweet will of God that we actually enjoy a heaven in which to go to heaven. What delectable relief from legal bondage! No wonder two hundred millions of martyrs died rather than surrender this glorious freedom. Reader, are you in the new covenant of glorious spiritual light and liberty, or plodding along in the old covenant, two thousand years behind the age, your necked galled with the yoke of legal bondage?

12. Truly the glorious liberty of the new covenant settles the sin problem and keeps it settled forever. Omnipotent grace manages that vexed question.

13. We see from this verse that God’s plan was for the old covenant to vanish eternally before the splendors of Pentecostal glory and the triumphs of the millennial reign. Oh, how sad the apostasy of the Apostolic Church back into the law dispensation Humanity has always been a failure. It failed in Eden. It failed in the antediluvian dispensation. It failed in postdiluvian patriarchy. It failed in the Mosaical and prophetical ages. But the saddest failure of all is the collapse from the Pentecostal victories and glories of the new covenant, and the glorious privileges of the Melchisedec priesthood back into the burdensome drudgery of the moonlit dispensation.


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Hebrews 8:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament".

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