Posted On October 14, 2020

Hebrews 9:16–17, “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.”

In order for all of the blessings of the new covenant to begin, the Son of God had to come to earth and carry out the will of His Father. Jesus came and was made perfect for His office as Mediator of the new covenant (Heb. 2:10; 5:9). This Jesus became an efficacious Mediator, not by offering sacrifices that could not perfect the conscience (9:9b–10), but rather by offering a perfect sacrifice that secures our eternal redemption (vv. 11–14).

Verse 15 tells us that Christ became Mediator so that those who are called may receive the inheritance promised to them. Where there is an inheritance, there is also usually a will, and this is an idea that the author of Hebrews picks up in verses 16–17 so that the necessity of the death of Christ may be shown.

An inheritance presupposes the existence of a will, and if there is a will, the inheritance only comes after the death of the one who made the will. Therefore, if the elect are to receive their inheritance, a death is required. There had to be death — the death of Christ — if we were ever going to receive that which was promised to the children of Abraham. We could never inherit the good land (the new earth) and be blessed by being a part of God’s family if Jesus never died.

The likening of the promises of the new covenant with a will is particularly apt. The Greek word used by the New Testament authors for covenant is diatheke. In addition to being a suitable reference to the concept of the covenant, this word is also the word that means “will,” as in “last will and testament.”

Like the divine covenants in the Bible, a will is initiated by a single person. Ideally, a will reflects only the wishes of the person who makes it. It is that single individual who ultimately decides which person gets what. As such, to liken the new covenant promises to a will emphasizes the sovereignty of the one who made it. The concept emphasizes the Lordship of Jesus, the God-man who could die and accomplish His sovereign will because His death would cause the will to take effect (v. 17). On this point, John Owen writes, “It is in the will … and power of the person making the will to assign what possessions should be bequeathed to whom. So, with the Lord Christ, he has determined how the elect should actually possess their legacies.”

Coram Deo

Have you ever received an inheritance through the will of a departed loved one? This poignant analogy describes the deep love that Jesus has for the elect of God. He truly desires them to receive His blessings. Give thanks for such a gracious gift that comes through His established will and His death that brings our inheritance.

The Will Takes Effect, Copyright (2020), Ligonier Ministries.

Related Posts

Faith and the Word of God

Faith and the Word of God

On today’s Warriors of Grace show, Dave continues the Snapshots of Grace series, looking at Hebrews 11:1-3 and why the Christian life is one of faith and the centrality of faith to the Christian life. What you’ll hear in this episode Why the Christian life is one of...

Delighting in Doctrine

Delighting in Doctrine

Shelbi and Kimberly interview special guest Rebecca Stark, longtime blogger and author of the theological book series, The Good Portion. Rebecca shares about her passion for doctrine and talks about the common hurdles that women face when it comes to studying theology.

Why the Reformation Isn’t Over

Why the Reformation Isn’t Over

 Why the Reformation Isn't Over from Crossway on Vimeo. More Than History People might think that the Reformation is irrelevant today—just a feature on the pages of history. And they may not like history so they might not find that at all interesting. People might...

Not Repeatedly

Not Repeatedly

Hebrews 9:25–26, “25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he...

What is the Essential Virtue Pastors Should Model and Teach?

What is the Essential Virtue Pastors Should Model and Teach?

Where a text appears in Scripture is all-important because the location often teaches pastors and their congregations' big lessons. For example, The Sermon on the Mount contains Jesus’ first recorded teaching, and the first sentence in Matthew 5:3 is this simple...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.