- Locate the passage.
In Hebrews 8 the author emphasized the discontinuity between the old and new covenants. In Hebrews 9 the author moves to show that there yet remains some continuity between the two covenants, albeit in a typological fashion.
Expository. No command forms occur.
- Determine the structure of the text
The chapter contains two discourse sections: 9:1–14 and 15–28.
9:1-14 contains three paragraphs: 9:1-5, 9:6-10, and 9:11-15.
- Exegete the passage
Hebrews 9:1–5 is a paragraph unit describing the tabernacle and its contents. Verse 1 announces two topics, the earthly sanctuary (9:2–5), and regulations concerning the offering of sacrifices by the high priest (9:6–10).
The author concludes v. 5 with the observation that he does not have the time to go into further detail concerning these things. The meaning is something akin to “this is not the time to go into detail about this.” Semantically, this statement functions to highlight the following paragraph beginning with v. 6.
Verse 6 begins a new discourse paragraph that concludes with v. 10. The paragraph is divided into two sub-paragraphs, each introduced by a genitive absolute at the beginning of vv. 6 and 8 in the Greek text. The topic shifts from the rooms and furniture in the tabernacle to the daily activity of the priests in the Holy Place contrasted with that of the high priest who entered only once a year into the Holy of Holies.
A new subparagraph begins in v. 11 with the use of de, which is often untranslated, contrasting the ineffectiveness of the Levitical system with the finished atoning work of Christ our high priest. Two sentences comprise the paragraph in the Greek text: 9:11–12 speak of Christ’s entry into the heavenly sanctuary, and 9:13–14 shows the superiority of Christ’s sacrifice over the Levitical sacrifices. Verse 14 is more prominent than v. 11 in the discourse.
The sub-paragraph concludes with vv. 13–14. It is introduced with gar in Greek which gives the grounds for the statement in the previous verse that the blood of Christ has obtained eternal redemption. The conditional “if” in v. 13 expresses the grounds for the conclusion in 9:14; the first part of an argument from the lesser to the greater.
The author concludes this entire section, 9:1–14, with an application to his hearers in his reference to cleansing “our” consciences so that “we” may serve God.
In summary, Heb 9:1–14 makes clear the way to God was not open to people under the old covenant (9:1–10), but now Jesus, the eternal high priest, has made atonement, cleansed the inner conscience of believers, and fitted them to serve God as spiritual priests themselves (9:11–14).
See Neva Miller, The Epistle to the Hebrews: An Analytical and Exegetical Handbook, 236–57; J. Harold Greenlee, Hebrews: An Exegetical Summary, 301–33; and David L. Allen, Hebrews, 457–74, for more detailed exegetical and semantic analysis of the text.
- Let the structure of the text drive the structure of the sermon.
The preacher has two options structurally with this text:
Take 9:1-10 as a unit, followed by 9:11-14 as the most dominant information.
In this case the structure of the sermon would be:
Take 9:1-5 and 9:6-10 as two paragraphs (units of meaning), followed by 9:11-14 as the most dominant information.
In this case, the structure of the sermon would be:
Verse 14 contains the most prominent information and should be the focus.