Hebrews Chapter 5
One of the most prominent themes in the book of Hebrews is “Jesus - the great High Priest”. In New Testament times, no mere man fulfills the role of high priest or even that of priest. The purpose of a high priest in Old Testament times was to show sinful man how he could be reconciled with a holy God.
1. For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:
2. Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.
3. And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.
God could have chosen angels to be high priests in ancient times but he chose to use men because they could relate to the life experiences of others and therefore minister with compassion.
4. And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.
5. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.
6. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
Aaron was the first high priest under the Mosaic law and there was a succession of high priests that followed him. Being a high priest was a great honor. It was not a job that you could apply for – God chose the high priests. In this sense there is a parallel between Christ’s high priesthood and the high priesthood under the law. But there are also differences - one of which is that Christ was a high priest of a different order - one that was older. We will learn more about this later.
7. Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
The high priests who were under the law did not suffer in order to become high priests, but Christ did. This is because previous high priests offered sacrifices – but Christ offered himself as a sacrifice. Not all of Christ’s sufferings took place on the cross. Some took place in the garden of Gethsemene where he begged his Father to take the “cup” of the sin of the whole world from him (but he submitted his will to that of his Father). We do not have the ability to grasp what he endured. There was no suffering like his.
8. Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
9. And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
Christ did not “learn” obedience the way that we do. We come into this world naturally disobedient and have to learn not to disobey. Christ was (and is) God, and angels obey him. He came into this world sinless and in that state experienced what it was like to be under authority.
10. Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.
11. Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
12. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
13. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
14. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
The Greek word translated “dull” in verse 11 above is not a flattering term. It is also translated “slothful”. God is very patient with those who desire to learn but who struggle in the process. Those who don’t grow in Biblical understanding due to their own slothfulness should be ashamed of themselves. They will have trouble telling the difference between good and evil because they have not applied God’s word to their daily lives and so will be of little help to others.