Interest passage in Hebrews

While reading today, caught something I hadn’t seen before.

Hebrews 8:13 When he speaks of a “new” covenant, he declares the first one obsolete. And what has become obsolete and has grown old is close to disappearing. 9:1 Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary.

Notice the wording here. It presupposes there are regulations for worship in the New Covenant. Certainly an issue that should be looked into for those Christian communities with no or little liturgical norms.

This passage is also a refutation of those who hold that the Old Covenant is still salvific.

And further evidence: Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, para. 29: “…the New Testament took the place of the Old Law which had been abolished…but on the gibbet of His death Jesus made void the Law with its decrees fastened the handwriting of the Old Testament to the Cross”

The context of the Hebrews 8 passage is that the first covenant referred to is the Mosaic covenant, a covenant of works. It was ratified by all the people at the foot of Mount Sinai and never kept by them. This older covenant was marked by the rituals and sacrifices briefly described in Hebrews 9 (and extensively in the OT). The author of Hebrews is contrasting this old, works-based covenant with the new covenant ushered in by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the old covenant, the rituals and sacrifices were but a shadow of reality. Hebrews 9:15:

“For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance —now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”

This passage is not an endorsement of liturgy. It delivers, instead, a contrast between the hopeless, works-based covenant where everybody failed and the hope-filled new covenant where Jesus Christ has done the work.

Any open minded individual would take the time to study the early church liturgies of St. James of Jerusalem, St. Mark of Alexandria and St. Clement of Rome, and see if these liturgies do not have at least some semblance of Jewish-Christian origins.

So whether the aforementioned scripture is a proof of the endorsement of liturgy, it is incumbent on us to find out if there are early church liturgies that have some origin or basis that is rooted in early Jewish Christianity.

God’s peace


What does and doesn’t qualify as liturgy and liturgical norms? I can look up the word as easily as anyone else, but I’m more interested in the categories and in-groupings that you have in mind.

The very earliest account of liturgy comes from the writings of Justin Martyr, early 2nd century. After quoting Justin Martyr’s account, this is how New Advent summarizes the liturgy:

**Putting it all together we have this scheme of the service:

  1. Lessons (lxvii, 3).
  2. Sermon by the bishop (lxvii, 4).
  3. Prayers for all people (lxvii, 5; lxv, 1).
  4. Kiss of peace (lxv, 2).
  5. Offertory of bread and wine and water brought up by the deacons (lxvii, 5; lxv, 3).
  6. Thanksgiving-prayer by the bishop (lxvii, 5; lxv, 3).
  7. Consecration by the words of institution (? lxv, 5; lxvi, 2-3).
  8. Intercession for the people (lxvii, 5; lxv, 3).
  9. The people end this prayer with Amen. (lxvii, 5; lxv, 3).
  10. Communion (lxvii, 5; lxv 5).

This is exactly the order of the Liturgy in the “Apostolic Constitutions” (Brightman, “Eastern Liturgies”, 3-4, 9-12, 13, 14-21, 21-3, 25). Moreover, as in the case of I Clement, there are many passages and phrases in Justin that suggest parallel ones in the “Apost. Const.” — not so much in Justin’s account of the Liturgy (though here too Drews sees such parallels, op. cit., 58-9) as in other works in which Justin, like Clement, may be supposed to be echoing well-known liturgical phrases.**

God’s peace


St. Justin the Martyr explains the Mass to the Roman Emperor in 150 AD, representing the basic worship of Christ in the Mass that was practiced throughout the Christian world by 100 AD. His explanation uses the how the Mass was said in Rome and the countryside.

Christianity was essentially an urban phenomenum. After Emperor Constantine, not a baptized Christian until days before his death, signed the Edict…his part only making Sunday a day of rest for all subjects and allowing Christianity to be legal…not the new spin coming out that Constantine started the Roman Catholic Church. After his time, faith began to move into rural areas.

Jesus said that on the third day, the temple would be torn down and a new one built.

Essentially Jesus Christ is the life of the Catholic Church. We receive His life and Spirit in Word and the Eucharist. When we fall into mortal sin, we are not in Jesus Christ or the Church realistically…because our participation is in the concrete reality of Christ found in the sacraments. So if we commit mortal sin, we are outside the life of the Church.

Jesus provided a few apostles, including Peter, at the Transfiguration to foretell His coming Divine ministry…that would come from heaven when He stands before the Heavenly Father at the altar, wounded but glorious and triumphant, His Divine mission now serving us primarily at the Mass, made present to us, and present to the world in the Daily Sacrifice, He Who brings all men up to Himself.

It is the Risen, Glorious Lord we receive at Holy Communion, the fulfillment of the daily sacrifice of the old temple, the Covenant of the Law replaced by the Covenant of the Blood of the Lamb. For the Passover Last Supper, the Lord did not have lamb…because His Memorial – the Mass – would have Him as the glorified Lamb for worship and the atonement of sin of mankind.

Subsequently, the Lord’s life of the Word and sacraments – the Word Made Flesh, bring us into eternal life now.

The passage in Hebrews has nothing to do with early church liturgies. The author specifically refers to Jewish ceremonies connected with the Mosaic covenant and how Christ has done away with them. It is a contrast between sacrifices of man and the sacrifice of the Savior.

One can be open or closed minded all they want, but that doesn’t change the fact that the text in Hebrews is talking about something else. There is nothing open minded about looking for something that isn’t in the text.

I agree that we should never look for something that is not in the text and I find nothing in this text that specifically points to Christian liturgies. So, purely in the context of the thread topic, it seemes one must engage in some degree of speculation in order to arrive at the same conclusion as the OP. It is quite possible that zz912 is correct, but one could not make a definitive statement in that regard based upon the words in that particular passage, in my opinion.

At the same time we cannot then conclude that the early Church was not a liturgical Church. As others have already demonstrated we have evidence of a well defined liturgy in the early Church in 150 AD, so well defined that it is not unreasonable to deduce that Justin Martyr’s account described a liturgical practice that was already relatively old. That same liturgy is used today in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Churches, and other liturgical communities as well, to some extent. In short, it has been used as the center of Christian worship since the beginning of Christianity and the Church has never been without it.

My response was not to defend the interpretation of Hebrew 9:1, it was to be open-minded to the fact that the church has been liturgical from the beginning. This is why I suggested that one should read the liturgies of St.James of Jerusalem, or St. Mark of Alexandria in order to be familiar with early church liturgies.

One thing we overlook, is the fact that the epistle to Hebrews says that the tabernacle of Moses along with the Mosaic liturgies of worship was an earthly representation of the heavenly tabernacle of worship.

Does anyone seriously think that God has done away with the heavenly tabernacle? If the heavenly tabernacle has not disappeared, then I think we might assume that God would desire that the liturgies of worship in the church of the new covenant of our Lord Jesus Christ to be a ** more perfect earthly** representation of the heavenly tabernacle and its worship.

Thus, we get back to the assumption of the OP in Hebrews 9:1: “Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary”.

God’s peace


The veil is torn open and now Jesus is the face of God to us, our nourishment for us…

Yes, I totally agree that the Lord did define in the Old Testament not only the Decalogue, the 10 Commandments for man to follow, but He described how He wanted to be worship and where, and detailed all of it down to the vestments of the priests.

There is no where indicated that the Lord intended to do away with all, rather fulfill all and yes, we have the earthly tabernacle connected with the heavenly tabernacle.

As others have noted, look at the verse and specifically the first few words “Now even the first”. If there were no liturgies for the New Covenant, then it would have been “The first”.

If one does not look back in history, back to the beginning of Christian history, you will see how they believed and worshipped…this coming from the witness of the apostles themselves.

God never intended worship be done away with, and that we spend time of worship reflecting on Scripture passages in book form. Otherwise, people would have had books given them way back then. Of course, this was impossible.

The tradition of faith is passed down orally…where one can follow the Holy Spirit and be led to the right people or not.

Jesus founded the Memorial as the fulfilled form of worship in the words, ‘Do this in memory of Me’, and the practice that followed was the breaking of bread, sacred bread…with wine…no lamb as Jesus now the Lamb of God, people in communion and community with each other, held accountable in hierarchical structure.

There is no place in Scripture that one must look to text form alone. Never. Revelation was revealed to us by God through chosen and acknowledged persons within the context of community, of a consecrated gathering of believers.

You take Scripture out beyond community and the Church, you are reducing it to outside Church that Christ instituted, to personal interpretation that St. Peter condemned in the 2 Epistle 2.

It should be noted that the Book of Hebrews was the only book that was approved later on after 200 years, because the Church was not sure yet if it was intended for the universal church. But as liturgy and the priesthood was gradually revealed by the Holy Spirit, it was then approved. The apostles themselves were not fully aware theologically of how profound the mission they were doing, not only in Word, but in the presence of God remaining among us, the Lord now physically present to us in the tabernacles throughout the world, and the depth of meaning and purpose of the Mass for believers, the times, and witness to history and mankind.

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