9:16 testator. The word translated “testator” (Greek diatithemai) means simply “the one who made it (i.e., the covenant).” Not all covenants require the death of one or both of the covenanters, but the particular covenants being discussed in this section of Hebrews do involve death. The men with whom God was making the covenants all were under the judgment of death because of sin, but God Himself covenanted to die in their place, although they may not have understood its full implications at the time. In prophetic symbolism, both man’s merited death and God’s future substitutionary death were pictured by the animal sacrifices of the earlier covenants, then finally fulfilled by the once-for-all death of God in Christ. All of these were sealed, as it were, by the “shedding of blood” (Hebrews 9:22) and their terms appropriated and effectuated by the faith of the men who received them in the covenant promises of God.
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