22 ἀλλὰ προσεληλύθατε Σιὼν ὄρει καὶ πόλει θεοῦ ζῶντος, Ἰερουσαλὴμ ἐπουρανίῳ, καὶ μυριάσιν ἀγγέλων,a πανηγύρειb 23 καὶ ἐκκλησίᾳ πρωτοτόκων ἀπογεγραμμένων ἐν οὐρανοῖς καὶ κριτῇ θεῷ πάντων καὶ πνεύμασιν δικαίων τετελειωμένων 24 καὶ διαθήκης νέας μεσίτῃ Ἰησοῦ καὶ αἵματι ῥαντισμοῦ κρεῖττον λαλοῦντι παρὰ τὸν Ἅβελ.
ⓑ of records kept by God, fig. ext. of a (the Book of Life; cp. En 98:7 and 8; TestAbr A 12 p. 91, 11 [Stone p. 30] al.; ApcPl 10 p. 39f Tdf. πάντα τὰ πραττόμενα παρʼ ὑμῶν καθʼ ἡμέραν ἄγγελοι ἀπογράφονται [=‘write down’] ἐν οὐρανοῖς=daily the angels write down in heaven the things that we do) πρωτότοκοι ἀπογεγραμμένοι ἐν οὐρανοῖς firstborn registered in heaven Hb 12:23. S. ἀπογραφή.—EDNT. M-M s.v. ἀπογράφομαι. New Docs 1, 79f, w. examples of a typical return (BGU 2223) and an extract from a register (BGU 2228), both II A.D..
In the phrase God’s first-born sons, God’s and sons are strongly implied. However, neither the plural nor the metaphor must be pressed too far, as in JB “the whole Church in which everyone is a ‘first-born son.’ ” The meaning is close to Exodus 4:22: “Thus says the LORD, ‘Israel is my first-born son’ ” (RSV), implying special choice and privilege, as in verse 16. Neither sons (implied) nor all mankind (TEV fourth edition) excludes women; here both sons and daughters who are adults are intended.
Since the phrase God’s first-born sons is a figurative reference to the followers of Christ, it may be important to mark this by translating as a simile. Accordingly the first part of verse 23 may be rendered as “You have come to a gathering of those who are, as it were, God’s first-born sons, and they are joyful.” With this rendering it may be necessary to make a separate sentence out of the clause whose names are written in heaven; for example, “These persons have their names written in heaven.” At this point it may be useful to have some note to explain the significance of this figurative statement about names … written in heaven, since this indicates that such persons “are destined to occupy heaven.”
The sixth item is the spirits of good people made perfect. Spirits are human spirits. On made perfect, see 5:14. The good people made perfect no doubt include the Old Testament believers listed in chapter 11, as well as Christians (compare 11:40).
the blood of Old Testament sacrifices was sprinkled in order to make things ritually clean, and Phps makes this clear by “cleansing of blood”; JB “blood for purification.”
In this case the meaning would be that Abel’s blood cried for vengeance, and Christ’s blood speaks of salvation.
since Abel was earlier presented as the first true worshiper, not as the first murder victim (see notes on 11:4). In this case the main reference would be to Abel’s sacrifice, offered in faith, though his murder, considered as a “sacrifice” of himself, would not be excluded.