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Jesus, the Messiah, has ushered in a whole new agreement and plan (covenant). It is his gift to us through the sacrifice of his death. The old agreement kept us trying to please God on our own. The challenge was that we couldn’t. We kept missing God’s goal and plan for our life (sin).

That old way is now gone. Jesus did away with it. We have inherited a new life and a new way seeing the world. Jesus did this for us. Jesus brought us together with God and has unified us with him.

Now that is some good news!

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. 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.[1]

Hebrews 9:15-17

The Messiah’s self-offering made him this covenant’s intervener. “The promise of an eternal inheritance” means the promise consisting in an eternal inheritance. To receive the promise, then, is to receive the inheritance; and by intervening a new covenant the Messiah purposed a reception of the inheritance by “those who’ve been called.”

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They will receive the promised inheritance when he’ll “appear a second time with the purpose and result of salvation” (9:28), just as they’ll enter God’s rest at that time. For God’s rest is their inheritance. The inheritance is “eternal” in that it entails “eternal salvation” (5:9), “eternal redemption” (9:12), and an “eternal covenant” (13:20), all of which are related to a “judgment” that’s “eternal” in its consequences for good or il.

“Since a death has taken place” points back to the Messiah’s self-offering as the new covenant’s basis and as the price of redemption in that redemption means liberation from slavery at a cost. “From the transgressions based on the first covenant” personifies those transgressions as the transgressors’ slave masters.

Since transgressions incur the penalty of death, we should compare the “set[ting] free” of “as many as through the fear of death were held in slavery all [their] lifetime” (2:15). So transgressions enslave transgressors through the fear of death. “Based on the first covenant” means that the transgressions are defined as such by the Mosaic covenant. Take the Ten Commandments, for example.

In 9:15 the author stated that “a death has taken place” and mentioned “a new covenant” and “the first covenant.” So now he relates a covenant-maker’s death to a particular kind of covenant, a last will and testament, which as such does not take effect till the testator dies.[2]

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Heb 9:15–17.

[2] Robert H. Gundry, Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2010), 896.