(c) "Testament" and Covenant (Heb. ix. 15-M).-This will furnish us with an illustration of what we have already said on this passage above (pages 195--197).
There we have shown how the meaning of certain words in this passage is determined by its Scope. Now we have to show how the scope, and, therefore, the interpretation of the passage is determined by its Structure.
It is more profitable to show this in the case of passages we have already dealt with above, than to seek for other examples which would only divert our thoughts instead of concentrating them on the further elucidation of passages already in our minds.
When we say that Heb. 9: 15-23 forms a distinct member by itself, the burden of proof devolves upon us; for, we may not make this arbitrary statement:
we must show that it is so in fact, and that it has its own separate place in
The Epistle to the Hebrews as a whole.
(Introversion and Simple Alternation.)
A | i., ii. Doctrinal Introduction.
B | 3:1-4. 13. The Mission of Christ.
C | 4: 14-16. General Application. "Having therefore") Boldness.
B | 5:1-10. 18. The Priesthood of Christ.
10:19-12. 29. Particular Application. ( " Having therefore") Boldness.
A | 13. Practical Conclusion.
We are now in a position to see where our particular passage (ch. 9: 15-23) comes in.
It is in the member marked B (ch. 5:1-10. 18) that we find it.
We have to see, next, what particular part of that member it occupies, before we can discover its Scope.
Having thus given the Structure of the Epistle to the Hebrews as a whole, we are now in a position to see where the particular passage which we are considering comes in.
We have before remarked that we cannot be guided in this matter by the chapter-breaks, which are entirely and only of human authority, which is no authority at all.
In the case of an Epistle, we are compelled therefore to begin with the Epistle as a whole before we can discover the position of a particular passage or verse.
The Structure of this member B, is based on the same model on which
the Epistle itself, as a whole, is framed; and it is as follows:
The Priesthood of Christ
(B, Heb. 5:1-10. 18)
(Introversion, combined with Simple Alternation.)
B | a | 5: 1-4. The Nature of Priesthood in General. (pas gar) " for every . . ."
5: 5-10. Christ called by God after the order of Melchisedec.
| 5:11-6: 20. Digression, concerning Melchi sedec as the Type.
b | 7. Christ called by God after the order of
| 8: 1, 2. Summation, concerning Christ as the Antitype.
a | 8:3-10 18. The Efficacy of Christ's Priesthood inparticular. (pas gar) "for every..."
Now we see that the verses we are seeking (Heb. 9: 15-23) farm part of a larger member, viz., Heb.
8: 3-10. 18, and that, in the above expansion, it is the member marked "a," which is the last member of the above Structure; and further, we see that its subject is the Efficacy and Superiority of Christ's Sacrifice as compared with
the Priesthood of Aaron under the Law.
All we have to do now is to get the Scope of this member (a, ch. 8: 3-10. 18) by observing its own special
We have said above that all these larger members have their own peculiar construction; but we must not be tempted nor turned aside from our main purpose; we must confine our attention, in each case, to the particular members involved in our search : and continue this until we narrow the whole question down to the passage we are examining, and are able to locate the
verses (ch. 9: 15-23) and thus discover their scope.
We are now in a position to do this by expanding the member "a." above, which we shall find to be as follows:
The Efficacy and Superiority of Christ's Priesthood.
(a, Heb, viii. 3-x. 18).
a | d | 8: 3-6. Christ's Priesthood. "A more excellent ministry," "a better
covenant" on "better promises."
e | 8: 7-13. The Old and New Covenants compared and contrasted.
| 9: 1-5. The Earthly Sanctuary a copy of the Heavenly Pattern,
g | 9: 6-10. The Offerings.
d | 9: 11-14. Christ's Priesthood. "A greater and more perfect Tabernacle." "His own blood."
e | 9: 15-23. The Old and New Covenants compared and contrasted.
| 9: 24. The Heavenly Sanctuary the pattern of the Earthly Copy.
g | 9:25-10. 18. The Offerings.
Here we see that our special member which we are tracking out is found in that marked "e,"
ch.9: 15-23. Thus, at length, we learn that its subject is The Old and New Covenants Compared and Contrasted.
This settles its Scope for us. All that remains for us to do now is to confirm it by discovering its own Structure and seeing whether this be really the case.
To see the full force of this it will be well to look also at the member with which it stands in Correspondence, viz., "e,"
ch. 8: 7-13, which is an Introversion. It also follows the model of the Epistle as a whole.
The Old and New Covenants Compared and Contrasted.
(e, Heb, viii. 7-13.)
(Introversion and Simple Alternation.)
e | h | 7, 8. The First Covenant Faulty.
i | 9. The New Covenant (Negative). Not the same in the making and material.
| 10. The New Covenant (Positive). Spiritual.
i | 11. The New Covenant (Negative). Not the same in its result and effect.
k | 12. The New Covenant (Positive). Spiritual,
h |13. The First Covenant Evanescent.
Now we are in a position to look at the member with which we are specially concerned, and again we notice that the Structure follows the model of the Epistle as a whole:
The Old and New Covenants Compared and Contrasted,
(e, Heb, ix, 15-23,)
(Introversion and Simple Alternation.)
e | L | 9: 15. The Old Covenant related only to "the promise of the eternal inheritance."
m | 16. Death necessary for its making.
|17. Reason for this necessity.
m | 18. Blood necessary for its consecration.
| 19-23-. Reason for this necessity.
L | 23. The New Covenant related to "the heavenly things themselves."
It is impossible to miss the great subject of these verses It forbids us to ignore its importance, which is so essential to the whole argument.
To arbitrarily change this subject is to entirely miss its scope, and to be driven to force a meaning into the words and expressions which are quite foreign to their Biblical usage.
(d) "Absent from the Body."-2 Cor. 5, will furnish us with another illustration of the importance of the Structure in determining the Scope. And we have seen, under Canon L, the necessity of the Scope to give us the meaning of the word, and to show us how indispensable it is for a right understanding of the whole.
The Structure will show us how much we lose by the break between the fourth and fifth chapters of the second Epistle to the Corinthians. Chapter v. commences as though it began an entirely fresh subject, whereas it begins with the word "FOR," which shows that it is the conclusion of what had been begun towards the end of
ch. 4. That subject is Resurrection as our blessed hope in view of the perishing of our outward man day by day. As a comforting conclusion it is added, "FOR we know that if
our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an horse not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens." This is one of the "things unseen," and which are "eternal"; at which, and for which, we are to "look."
Where the real literary and logical breaks occur can be discovered only from the Structure.
As a matter of fact, 2 Cor. 5. forms part of a member which runs from 2 Cor. 3.
1-6. 10 ; but we must not make such an arbitrary statement without producing the evidence, so that others may judge for themselves as to its accuracy.
To prove this we must first give
The Structure of 2 Cor, as a whole.
A | 1: 1, 2. Salutation.
B | a | 1: 3-11. Thanksgiving.
| 1: 12. Paul's Ministry.
C | 1:13-2: 13. Epistolary.
B | a | 2: 14-17. Thanksgiving.
| 3:1-6. 10. Paul's Ministry.
C | 6:11-13. 10. Epistolary.
A | 8: 11-14. Salutations.
Without going into the exquisite beauties of C and C,' we note that the small portion in which the expression "Absent from the body" occurs is the member marked b
(ch.3:1-6.. 10). We must dissect and expand this member, which will be seen to be as follows
The Character of Paul's Ministry.
(b, 2 Cor. 3: 1-6. 10.)
b | c | 3: 1-3. Commendation (Positive)
d | 3: 4, 5. Trust in God. God's Sufficiency.
| 3:.6-18. The Ministry of the New Covenant.
| 4:1-5. 11. Support under Afflictions.
c | 5: 12, 13. Commendation (Negative)
d | 5: 14-18-. Love of Christ. All of God.
| 5:18-6: 2. The Ministry of Reconciliation.
| 6: 3-10. Approval under Afflictions.
We are thus narrowing down the issue, which is now seen to lie in the member marked "f"
(ch. 4:1-5: 11).
The subject of this member is Support under afflictions; and its Structure is a repeated alternation, as follows:
Support under Afflictions.
(2 Cor. 4:1-5. 11.)
f | g1 | 4:1-6. Confidence (Neg.). " We faint not."
| 4: 7-15. Grounds. "Earthen vessels." The working of death in them (iv. 12), with pledge of Resurrection (iv. 14).
g2 | 4: 16-. Confidence (Neg.). " We faint not."
| 4:16-5: 5. Grounds. "Earthly house." The working of afflictions (4: 17), and the working of God, in Resurrection
g3 | 5:6-11 Confidence (Pos.). " We are confident."
We need not pursue these expansions further, though we might well do so.
We can see very clearly now, that the wonderful ground of support of Paul and Timothy in their afflictions was the consideration of the "unseen" things, as outweighing the " things seen"; so that though the " earthen vessels" of their bodies were dissolved there was the
"excellency of the power" of God which would be put forth in Resurrection.
It is thus seen how the break between chapters iv. and v. destroys the connection: in fact, breaks in two the one member, "ha"
(ch. 4:16 -5: 5), which has only one subject, viz., Resurrection, as the ground of the confidence, and the
reason for not fainting in their labours of ministry.
We might have included this under the head of rightly dividing the Word of truth as to its literary form, as shown by the division into chapters (pages 34, 35). We might also have included it under the heading of the importance of the Scope of a passage (Canon L). We might have included it under the heading of the importance of the Context (see below, Canon III.). It belongs to all three; but considering that the Structure is necessary to the crowning proof, we have given this illustration here.
It is little less than a crime for anyone to pick out certain words and frame them into a sentence, not only disregarding the Scope and the context, but ignoring the other words in the verse, and quote the words "absent from the body present with the Lord" with the view of dispensing with the hope of Resurrection (which is the subject of the whole passage), as though it were unnecessary; and as though "presence with the Lord" is obtainable without it 1
Apart from the doctrine involved, and apart from the teaching of Tradition (true or false), it is a literary fraud thus to treat the words which the Holy Ghost teacheth.
We see therefore, for it must be clear to us, that the Scope of a passage is the key to its words; and that the Structure of a passage is the key to its Scope.
This will show us the importance of our second Canon.
How great must be our loss if we fail to use this key to the wonderful words of God.
Like all His works they bear the minutest searching out.
All the works of God are perfect. And the microscope and telescope can both be used to examine them; though neither of them can ever exhaust the wonders of God's works. In both directions an increase of the power of the lens will reveal new beauties and fresh marvels.
The Word of God, being one of His works, must have the same phenomena: and nothing exhibits these phenomena like the Study of its Literary Structure.
To us, God's Word is the greatest and most important of all His works. If we understand all His other works (which no one does or can) and yet know not His Word, our knowledge will not carry us beyond the grave.
But we must not lose sight of the great underlying lesson, and the great outcome of the whole of this subject, which is this: If the external form be so perfect, what must the inward truth be: if the setting be so valuable, how valuable must be the jewel: if the literary order be Divine, how solemn must be the warnings, how important the truth, how faithful the promises, how sure the words of which the Word is made up.