Verse Hebrews 13:10. We have an altar — The altar is here put for the sacrifice on the altar; the Christian altar is the Christian sacrifice, which is Christ Jesus, with all the benefits of his passion and death. To these privileges they had no right who continued to offer the Levitical sacrifices, and to trust in them for remission of sins.
Verse Hebrews 13:11. For the bodies of those beasts — Though in making covenants, and in some victims offered according to the law, the flesh of the sacrifice was eaten by the offerers; yet the flesh of the sin-offering might no man eat: when the blood was sprinkled before the holy place to make an atonement for their souls, the skins, flesh, entrails, c., were carried without the camp, and there entirely consumed by fire and this entire consumption, according to the opinion of some, was intended to show that sin was not pardoned by such offerings. For, as eating the other sacrifices intimated they were made partakers of the benefits procured by those sacrifices, so, not being permitted to eat of the sin-offering proved that they had no benefit from it, and that they must look to the Christ, whose sacrifice is pointed out, that they might receive that real pardon of sin which the shedding of his blood could alone procure. While, therefore, they continued offering those sacrifices, and refused to acknowledge the Christ, they had no right to any of the blessings procured by him, and it is evident they could have no benefit from their own.
Verse Hebrews 13:12. That he might sanctify the people — That he might consecrate them to God, and make an atonement for their sins, he suffered without the gate at Jerusalem, as the sin-offering was consumed without the camp when the tabernacle abode in the wilderness. Perhaps all this was typical of the abolition of the Jewish sacrifices, and the termination of the whole Levitical system of worship. He left the city, denounced its final destruction, and abandoned it to its fate; and suffered without the gate to bring the Gentiles to God.
Verse Hebrews 13:13. Let us go forth therefore unto him — Let us leave this city and system, devoted to destruction, and take refuge in Jesus alone, bearing his reproach-being willing to be accounted the refuse of all things, and the worst of men, for his sake who bore the contradiction of sinners against himself, and was put to death as a malefactor.
Verse 14. For here have we no continuing city — Here is an elegant and forcible allusion to the approaching destruction of Jerusalem. The Jerusalem that was below was about to be burnt with fire, and erased to the ground; the Jerusalem that was from above was that alone which could be considered to be μενουσαν, permanent. The words seem to say: “Arise, and depart; for this is not your rest: it is polluted:” About seven or eight years after this, Jerusalem was wholly destroyed.
Verse 15. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise — He has now fulfilled all vision and prophecy, has offered the last bloody sacrifice which God will ever accept; and as he is the gift of God’s love to the world, let us through him offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, this being the substitute for all the Levitical sacrifices.
The Jews allowed that, in the time of the Messiah, all sacrifices, except the sacrifice of praise, should cease. To this maxim the apostle appears to allude; and, understood in this way, his words are much more forcible. In Vayikra Rabba, sect. 9, fol. 153, and Rabbi Tanchum, fol. 55: “Rabbi Phineas, Rabbi Levi, and Rabbi Jochanan, from the authority of Rabbi Menachem of Galilee, said, In the time of the Messiah all sacrifice shall cease, except the sacrifice of praise.” This was, in effect, quoting the authority of one of their own maxims, that now was the time of the Messiah; that Jesus was that Messiah; that the Jewish sacrificial system was now abolished; and that no sacrifice would now be accepted of God, except the sacrifice of praise for the gift of his Son.
That is, the fruit of our lips — This expression is probably borrowed from Hosea 14:2, in the version of the Septuagint, καρπον χειλεων which in the Hebrew text is פרים שפתינו parim sephatheinu, “the heifers of our lips.” This may refer primarily to the sacrifices, heifers, calves, c., which they had vowed to God so that the calves of their lips were the sacrifices which they had promised. But how could the Septuagint translate פרים parim, calves, by καρπον, fruit? Very easily, if they had in their copy פרי peri, the mem being omitted; and thus the word would be literally fruit, and not calves. This reading, however, is not found in any of the MSS. hitherto collated.