What does Hebrews 8:7 mean?
ESV: For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.
NIV: For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.
NASB: For if that first covenant had been free of fault, no circumstances would have been sought for a second.
CSB: For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion for a second one.
NLT: If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it.
KJV: For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
NKJV: For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.
Verse Commentary:
Earlier passages in the book of Hebrews pointed out that God's promises clearly point to something better than the Levitical priesthood. References to passages such as Genesis 14 and Psalm 110 were used to prove that God had a purpose in mind which went beyond the Old Testament law. Those rituals and objects were meant as symbols of the truth, not the truth itself. Here, that same idea is stated in clear language: the old covenant, by itself, is flawed. If that system had been perfect, there would have been no reason for God to promise something better. Therefore, if God Himself made the promise of a "new covenant," we cannot claim that the old covenant is His ultimate plan.

The upcoming quotation is from the prophet Jeremiah, who wrote about the impending defeat and exile of Israel, many centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ. Even then, God was pointing to a relationship with mankind beyond rituals and repetitive sacrifices. The description provided by Jeremiah exactly matches the pattern fulfilled by Jesus, and preached by the apostles who followed Him.
Verse Context:
Hebrews 8:7–13 uses a quotation from Jeremiah to support an important claim. According to the author of Hebrews, God has always intended to replace the old covenant of the Levitical priests with a new covenant, centered on the work of Jesus Christ. Jeremiah's description of a covenant, explicitly different from what Israel was given during the Exodus, describes the personal, internal nature of the Holy Spirit in a saved believer. Jeremiah's words also place great emphasis on ''I will'' statements coming from God.
Chapter Summary:
Hebrews chapter 8 indicates that the temples, rituals, and objects of the old covenant were always meant to be symbolic. They were real, and valuable, but their ultimate worth was in their symbolism. Those were always intended by God to point towards a better covenant. Rather than something repetitive, earthly, and limited, God planned to offer something completed, personal, and eternal through Jesus Christ. As further proof of this, the writer of Hebrews offers yet another quotation from the Jewish Scriptures, this time from the prophet Jeremiah.
Chapter Context:
Hebrews chapter 8 builds on the points made in chapter 7. Jesus' service as High Priest is superior, since He is given a better position and serves in a better location than the priests of the Old Covenant. This chapter sets up the idea of earthly things being shadows of heavenly things, especially when it comes to the temple and sacrifices. This leads into the focus of chapter 9, which is the superiority of Christ's sacrifice compared to those of the Levitical system.
Book Summary:
The book of Hebrews is meant to challenge, encourage, and empower Christian believers. According to this letter, Jesus Christ is superior to all other prophets and all other claims to truth. Since God has given us Christ, we ought to listen to what He says and not move backwards. The consequences of ignoring God are dire. Hebrews is important for drawing on many portions of the Old Testament in making a case that Christ is the ultimate and perfect expression of God's plan for mankind. This book presents some tough ideas about the Christian faith, a fact the author makes specific note of.
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