Hebrews 9:8 NASB

8 The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the [i]outer tabernacle is still standing,

Earlier on the author had made reference to the outer tabernacle(Holy Place) describing the vessels inside.

Could he also be referring here to the same place(Holy Place) or he is referring to the whole Mosaic system that had to go before the way into the Holy of Holies had been disclosed.

3 Answers 3


Please see my answer to a related question where I explain why the angel tells John not to measure the outer court of the temple.

Basically the outer court is only relevant to the Sinai covenant and is not a feature of the new temple (made of living stones - people). The earthly temple is destroyed without the outer court being measured because there is no plan to replace it. Access to God's throne is through the forgiveness of sins on the basis of a new covenant and, for the gentiles, faith alone, with no sacrifice:

[Heb 10:17-20 KJV] (17) And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. (18) Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. (19) Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, (20) By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

The destruction of the temple signified the end of the unique relationship that the Jews had for millennia with God.


The Greek text of Heb 9:8 is:

Τοῦτο δηλοῦντος τοῦ Πνεύματος τοῦ Ἁγίου μήπω πεφανερῶσθαι τὴν τῶν ἁγίων ὁδὸν, ἔτι τῆς πρώτης σκηνῆς στάσιν

I would translate this (quite literally) as:

By this the Holy Spirit was signifying [that] the way into the holies [ie, the heavenly sanctuary] was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle [ie, the earthly] was standing.

Thus, the operative word here is "πρώτης" = "first", NOT "outer". [By contrast with Heb 9:8, Rev 11:2 does use the word ἔξωθεν (exōthen) = outer and NOT "first".] The distinction being made is between the first (earthly) and second (heavenly) sanctuary and NOT between the inner and outer parts of the sanctuary. That is, the "first" tabernacle was clearly the OT sanctuary/tabernacle with its ceremonies of sacrifice which was a shadow of the heavenly sanctuary (Heb 8:5).

That is, while the OT ceremonial system which "cannot remove sin" (Heb 10:4-6) was distracting the people, they could not fully comprehend the greater heavenly sanctuary and Jesus' high priestly ministry there of mediation (1 Tim 2:5, Heb 4:15, 16) for sinners.


There were two apartments in the sanctuary: The Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place.

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This is exactly what Paul was previously describing at the opening of the chapter building up to the verse in question:

Hebrews 9:1-5

Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

Hence, Paul is saying that the first apartment ministry, the outer apartment, is symbolic of his day. The second apartment, or inner apartment, is symbolic of the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, which is the day of judgment.

For more on this, I recommend the following resource:

God Drew the Plans - A study on the Hebrew sanctuary and its significance toward the plan of salvation. See the Related Media for video/audio studies over the sanctuary.

The sanctuary is a blueprint for the plan of salvation. Paul illustrates this throughout the book of Hebrews. Just as the Old Covenant had a sanctuary, the New Covenant has a heavenly sanctuary (Hebrews 8:1-12). We also have a High Priest, even Jesus Christ, who ministers not the blood of animals, but His own blood. It is a most wonderful study.

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