Heb 10:19-20 which says in the NIV:

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body…

Or "his flesh" (as the KJV translates it). The sentence structure in English and in the Greek allow for "body" to refer to either the curtain or the new and living way through the curtain.

What is the accurate reference? The veil or the new and living way?

4 Answers 4


In this link three possibilities are laid out for Jesus' flesh to be either;

1) His flesh typifies the veil (traditional view), 2) The new and living way through the veil with the emphasis being on his flesh as the way through (supported by Westcott) 3) Lane suggests that his flesh refers back to the entirety of the preceding statement, i.e. the free access we have through his blood making a new way through the veil.

Drs. Decker and Slusser maintain that option 2 is made impossible by an idiomatic rule of Greek grammer regarding the phrase τοῦτ᾿ ἔστιν:

"whenever there is an explicit antecedent (i.e., there is a specific word that serves as the antecedent; some occurrences of the phrase τοῦτ᾿ ἔστιν have a general antecedent in which some phrase or concept serves as the antecedent rather than a specific word), the word following τοῦτ᾿ ἔστιν always agrees with its antecedent in case and almost always in gender and number.† When the two words are both nouns, agreement in gender is not always possible since nouns have fixed gender; when one of the words is a pronoun, adjective, or participle, they usually agree in gender.§"

They regard the traditional view as most likely because of the proximity of an explicit antecedent agreeing in case, gender, and number but allow that Lanes supposition of a general antecedent is not ruled out and is thematically consistent with the larger context.

  • Interesting. How then would the flesh (veil) become the new and living way? Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 11:10
  • Possibly because, having become sin for us, he condemned sin in the flesh (the separation from God typified by the veil in the temple) and yet had no sin of his own and so is able to pass through? Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 13:04

The OP's question concerns only one of many ways in which the old temple/tabernacle services and ritual typified Christ and His atoning sacrificed and life. Here are a few more.

  • Jesus was the fulfilment of what the sanctuary/temple typified, John 2:19-21, Heb 9:1-28, 10:1-18
  • Jesus represented the foundation of the temple as well, 1 Peter 2:4-8 (Compare Isa 28:16, Ps 118:22)
  • Jesus’ flesh (body) was represented by the curtain in the temple, Heb 10:19, 20.
  • Jesus was the bread of life, John 6:35, 41, 48 (compare the Shew-bread in Ex 25:23-30, Lev 24:8).
  • Jesus was the light of life as typified by the menorah, John 8:12, 9:5 (compare the lampstand Ex 25:31-39, Lev 24:3, 4, Isa 53:11, Ps 56:13, etc)
  • Jesus provides the water of life, John 4:13, 14 (Compare the laver Ex 30:17-21. See also 1 Cor 6:11)
  • Jesus is the promised seed of the woman Gal 3:16 (compare Gen 3:15, and the Abrahamic Covenant)
  • Jesus was the Passover Lamb and thus the promised Messiah, John 1:29, 1 Cor 5:7, 1 Peter 1:19 (compare Ex 12:1-14).
  • Jesus is the High Priest of the New Covenant in fulfilment of the Levitical covenant, Heb 4:14-16, 5:10, 7:23-28, because He was “pure, blameless, set apart” exactly as the Levites were. See also Heb 9:15, 12:24.
  • Jesus provided the blood of the new covenant of which the communion ceremony was to be a memorial, Matt 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20, 1 Cor 11:25, Heb 13:20, 1 Peter 1:19 (compare Ex 24:5, 8).
  • Jesus was the anti-type of the “red heifer” (Num 19:1-10) and its associated ashes that “purify our consciences from works of death”, Heb 9:13, 14.

Thus, every part of the old ceremonial system or "old covenant" pointed to Jesus as the Messiah of the New Covenant.

In the specific case of Heb 10:19, 20, we read:

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holies (= sanctuary) by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way opened for us through the veil that is His flesh

There are several things to note about these verses:

  1. Many versions translate (actually interpret) the phrase τῶν ἁγίων (= holy places) as "Most Holy Place". However, the neuter plural here simply acts as a kind of collective noun for the entirety of the heavenly sanctuary. This is in clear contradistinction to the other phrase denoting the second apartment, namely Ἅγια ἁγίων (= holy of holies), ie, Most Holy Place.
  2. Under the Old ceremonial system, access to God was always via the earthly priest. The whole point of Jesus' Messianic ministry was to provide direct access to God via the sacrifice of Jesus (John 14:6, Rom 3:23, 24, 1 John 2:2, 2 Cor 5:18, Heb 2:7, etc.)
  3. This is called the "new living way" precisely because Jesus rose from the dead "since He always lives to intercede for them" (Heb 7:25).
  4. The "way" into the sanctuary was via the veil. This was only possible in ancient Israel after the lamb had been slaughtered and the priest carried the blood into the sanctuary. This typified Jesus whose blood provided the way. In Heb 10:19, 20, this is demanded by the grammar as well (see my literal translation above).
  5. The word translated "body" or "flesh" is the Greek word σαρκὸς = "flesh". "Body" is somewhat interpretive but understandable.
  • Thanks for answering. I am yet to get a feedback for the last email I sent to you sir Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 15:37
  • @FaithMendel - I sent a response on the 4th of January.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 19:24
  • Oh. I have refreshed my mail box severely. Let me check again. Thanks Commented Jan 17, 2023 at 14:16

Hebrews focuses on the meaning of Salvation to the Hebrews most specifically so there are free references to well known Hebrew concepts. Prototypes of the veil may go all the way back to the covering God provided Adam and Eve after their Nakedness was exposed by acquiring the Knowledge of both GOOD and EVIL...a "forbidden fruit" . Blood had to be shed by GOD as he took the life's blood of an innocent animal to provide those skins or a "veil". We see the veil continue then for some 4000 years until Jesus is given. The writer (perhaps Paul the Apostles to the Gentiles) shows the reader that Jesus is now the "torn Veil" by which we enter into the Holy of Holies.

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    Commented Oct 4, 2021 at 1:13

This a very interesting argument indeed I myself I'm not educated in the Hebrew or Greek language but I will just leave my view here. I was about to side with the idea that Christ's flesh is now the new veil then this thought just passed my mind as if the Holy Spirit since He is the teacher of all truth is teaching. Jesus says I am the Way, The Truth, and the life no one comes to the Father except through me. He describes himself as the way to the Father. The veil was meant to hinder people from the Most Holy place which is where the Presence of God was in the Tabernacle. And this veil was torn when Jesus took His last breath on the cross which was a sign that all had access to the presence of God. So Jesus can not hinder again but He has become the way through offering His flesh and blood as the sacrifice for entry to the Most Holy place, just like how the High Priest had to offer both in the second part of the Tabernacle. I would like to believe Jesus is not the veil but the way that leads beyond the veil which was there... He isn't the veil.

  • This is not clear. Scripture says the veil is Christ's flesh. Are you disagreeing with scripture ?
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 17, 2023 at 9:21

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