The Greek text of Heb. 8:3 according to the Textus Receptus states,

Γʹ πᾶς γὰρ ἀρχιερεὺς εἰς τὸ προσφέρειν δῶρά τε καὶ θυσίας καθίσταται ὅθεν ἀναγκαῖον ἔχειν τι καὶ τοῦτον ὃ προσενέγκῃ TR, 1550


Some English translations and commentators translate the word ἀναγκαῖον as “was necessary,” assuming an implied ἦν (“was”),1 while others translate it as “is necessary,” assuming an implied ἐστίν (“is”).2 Such a distinction was emphasized by Göttlieb Lünemann when he commented,3

Lünemann, p. 588, Heb. 8:3

ὃ προσενέγκῃ

προσενέγκῃ is conjugated in the aorist tense, active voice, and subjunctive mood. It seems to me that some commentaries interpret προσενέγκῃ as though it is referring to an offering that occurred in the past (rather, than say, one that occurs (present tense) in heaven). But, is this a possible translation of the aorist subjunctive?


  1. It is necessary that he has something that he offers (or will offer).
  2. It was necessary that he has (had? to have?) something that he offered.


  1. What are the interpretative implications of each translation? (In other words, how does each translaton affect the interpretation of the verse and the related context?)
  2. What should be the English translation of the Greek text?
  3. Also, to what exactly does «τι» refer (in «ἔχειν τι»)?


1 For example: the NIV; Lünemann, Göttlieb. Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the Epistles to Timothy and Titus, and to the Epistle to the Hebrews. (588); Beza, Theodore. The New Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ. (99); Bengel, Johann Albrecht. Gnomon of the New Testament. Vol. 4. (411); De Wette, Wilhelm Martin Lebrecht. Kurze Erklärung der Briefe an Titus, Timotheus und die Hebräer. (197); Bleek, Friedrich. Der Brief an die Hebräer erläutert durch Einleitung, Ubersetzung, und fortlaufenden Commentar. Vol. 2, Part 2. (428); etc.

2 the Vulgate; Luther (muß); Alford, Henry. The Greek Testament. (Heb. 8:3, 148); Delitzsch, Franz. Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews. Vol. 2. (25-28); etc.

  • If there is a variant in the TR that you want to focus please identify the deviation from the de facto scholarly standard and using standard quotation marks is appreciated as well. (Yes you are free to ignore me).
    – Ruminator
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 2:55

1 Answer 1


You have listed three question but there is actually a fourth as well - textual variation. Let me deal with the textual variation - there is none. TR, the Majority text, the Byzantine text and NA28 and UBS5 all agree on the text as shown in the question.

"Was" vs "is" Necessary

"ἀναγκαῖον" is an adjective in the nominative neuter singular and means "necessary". Thus, because it is an adjective it is not a verb. "was" or "is" preceding it is required to make grammatical sense in English and either is grammatically correct. So which is preferred?

  • "was" necessary is used by many translations because they presumably believe either: the principle here is derived from the OT cultic system and so is now past, or, they believe Jesus as High Priest offered His sacrifice on Golgotha (Himself) which is a completed act. This is confirmed by v6 where past tense verbs are used.
  • "is" necessary is used by some versions because the verb (unconnected grammatically) immediately following, "ἔχειν" is present infinitive active - but this is not necessary because they do not need to agree as they are different parts of speech.

However, either is grammatically correct (in English) but I personally prefer "was" necessary because of the historical nature of the narrative.


As correctly stated in the question, this is a verb - Aorist Subjunctive Active - 3rd Person Singular. As such it should be translated as "he might offer" or similar. This is discussing a principle about the priesthood derived from the paradigm established in the earthly tabernacle/temple. Thus, there is an implied question as to what Jesus, as High Priest was to offer which the following verses heighten with further discussion.


This is simply an Interrogative / Indefinite Pronoun - Accusative Neuter Singular. "Something" is a perfectly accurate translation. In this construction it does not need to have an antecedent.


Most version of this text are quite acceptable. Here is a sample:

NIV: Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer.

ESV: For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer.

NASB: For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices; so it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer.


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