Hebrews 9:17 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Hebrews 9:17, NIV: because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living.

Hebrews 9:17, ESV: For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.

Hebrews 9:17, KJV: For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.

Hebrews 9:17, NASB: For a covenant is valid only when people are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives.

Hebrews 9:17, NLT: The will goes into effect only after the person's death. While the person who made it is still alive, the will cannot be put into effect.

Hebrews 9:17, CSB: For a will is valid only when people die, since it is never in effect while the one who made it is living.

What does Hebrews 9:17 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The term will in this verse is from the same Greek term translated as covenant or testament. In context, though, this is something different than the covenants and testaments which the writer has been discussing. The meaning here is much more like a will: a legal document indicating what is to happen upon the death of the will's author. In prior verses, the writer of Hebrews pointed out that animal sacrifice was required by God under the old covenant. This temporarily covered the sins of mankind, but could not remove that sin entirely. The sacrifice of Jesus, on the other hand, can fully cleanse us from sin and do so permanently.

The point of verses 16 and 17 is to lead into the next idea presented: that without bloodshed there can be no forgiveness. The binding agreement between God and man—the new covenant—takes effect only upon the death of Jesus Christ.