Chapter 5 teaches[ 1 ] that Jesus, the Son of God was made a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. On earth He prayed with tears (Heb 5:7) He learned obedience and became the Author of eternal salvation to those who obey Him. The original readers of the book of Hebrews had grown dull and unable to teach God's Word effectively. They had been feeding on the milk of the Word (see chart HEBREWS 5 OUTLINE).
Chart HEBREWS 5 OUTLINE
1. The Son of God made a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (Heb 5:1-6).
2. His prayer with tears was heard (Heb 5:7).
3. He became the Author of eternal salvation to those who obey Him (Heb 5:8-10).
4. The readers, feeding on the milk of the Word, had grown dull and unable to be teachers
Before beginning an exposition of this chapter, I am compelled to say something
about the priesthood of Christ. It may be that many Gentile converts were not
motivated to appreciate what priesthood means to them. Anyone who really
understands the significance for Christ to be his own High Priest has a deep
emotional appreciation of it. He is stimulated to trust God, serve Him faithfully
and never turn away from Him.
No other system, secular or religious, offers to its members the advantage that
Christians, have of a great, heavenly High Priest. Think of what was involved on
the Divine side to make such a High Priest possible. First, He desired everyone
to be saved.
Consider what Jesus, in his humanity, suffered in order to become our High
Priest. A full knowledge of the priesthood is vital to bring us to maturity as
Christians. Let us give our minds to a study of this topic and gain a clear, correct
and thorough understanding of it (see chart THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST).
Christians are encouraged to make use of the priesthood of Christ. It is designed
for their aid, support, forgiveness, restoration and comfort. The holy purpose of
the discussion of it is fivefold (see chart REASONS FOR DISCUSSING THE
5:1 For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in
things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.
For every high priest [ every high priest].[ 2 ] The Holy Spirit begins to discusses
the high-priesthood in general terms. He does this in order to draw parallels to
the ministry of Jesus who is our High Priest. In Scripture, the high priest is
sometimes called the chief priest. He was over the other priests. Once a year he
alone was allowed to enter the most holy place[ 3 ] (Le 16:3, 15, 17). Aaron was the
first high priest (Ex 28, 29; Le 8). All the Jewish priests were to be descendants
of him (Ex 29:9). The people addressed in Hebrews may have thought of Aaron
as the model high priest. Some of their contemporary high priests were anything
but models of righteousness.
There is absolutely no Bible authority for designating gospel preachers, elders
or deacons as priests in order to distinguish them from other Christians. Neither
is there any justification for "the sacrifice of the mass." There is no validity to the
claim that so-called "priests" offer up the actual body and blood of the Lord.
They have no special sacerdotal functions.[ 4 ] The unscriptural designation of
certain men in the church as priests has given rise to the distinction between clergy
and laity. In Scripture, none of the apostles or early evangelists were even called
clergymen or priests.[ 5 ]
Appointed by people
Taken from among men [being taken from amongst men, chosen from
among men, people].[ 6 ] This points out the requirement that the high priest be
human. Christ fully met this qualification.
Is appointed [is ordained, established].[ 7 ] The OT high priests were always
appointed or set in office. None of them were self-chosen. The elaborate
ordination of Aaron is described in Exodus 29.
For men [in behalf, to act on behalf, of men, of people].[ 8 ] It was not for
God's benefit that the priesthood was established. He does not need the assistance,
aid and comfort provided by such. Because humans are sinful, it is for them. The
function of a high priest was to present offerings for himself and the people. He
represented man before God (see chart FUNCTIONS OF A PRIEST).
In things pertaining to God [in relation to, for the things relating to God].[ 9 ]
The "things pertaining to God" had to do mainly with the problem of sin and its
atonement. The high priest was to make propitiation for the sins of the people (see
note on Ro 3:25). Priests were not allowed to drink wine or strong drink in order
that they might correctly discern between the holy and the profane, and between
the unclean and the clean (Le 10:9, 10). They had to decide perplexing cases such
as the degree of homicide, types of lawsuits and kinds of assaults. They had to
render verdicts in cases too difficult for ordinary judges (De 17:8, 9). They had
to be able to distinguish between types of leprosy and prescribe rules pertaining
to lepers (De 24:8).
That he may offer [to offer].[ 10 ] The high priest brought to the altar sin offerings (Le 4:1-35; 6:24-30), trespass offerings (Le 5:14-6:7) and peace offerings (Lu 3:1-17). Along with the ritual of peace offerings, under the direction of the high priest, were the wave and heave offerings (Le 7:30-34; 10:10-15). In addition, there were meal offerings (Ex 29:41; 30:9; 40:29; Le 2:1-16) and drink offerings (Ex 29:40; 30:9; Nu 15:5; 28:7-31; 29:6-39). In the first century, the high priest probably delegated all priestly duties except entrance into the most holy place once a year on YOM KIPPUR, the Day of Atonement.
Both gifts [gifts].[ 11 ] "Gifts" were to be cheerfully and gratefully given.
Although the term is rather inclusive, "gifts" under the Law are is generally
considered to refer to bloodless, freewill offerings such as thank offerings. I
cannot say the term is always exclusive of bloody sacrifices.
And sacrifices.[ 12 ] Sacrifices were primarily animals slain as offerings for sins.
Perhaps that is the meaning here as well as in Hebrews 8:3; 9:9. However, since
the word "offerings" is general enough to include sacrifices, I doubt any real point
can be made in distinguishing the two in the present context. The two Greek
terms are used interchangeably in Genesis 4:3-5 Septuagint. Gifts and sacrifices
are mentioned together in Hebrews 8:3; 9:9.
For sins.[ 13 ] "For sins" give the purpose of the sacrifices (see note on verse 3).
He can have compassion [who can, He is able to, being able to, bear gently,
exercise forbearance].[ 14 ] OT high priests were subject to stresses, trials and
pressures. This enabled them to better understand sympathize with other sinful
humans. One of their finest works was to "have compassion" or "bear gently"
with sinners, that is, with the ignorant and misguided. The Greek word indicates
that they were not to be completely rigid nor totally intolerant of sin but to have
compassion. They were to be reasonable and kind. They needed to fully
recognize the enormity of sin. Yet, being sinful human beings themselves, they
were to have a degree of mercy for the sinner. They were not to excuse the sin.
On the other hand, they were not to become so enraged by it that they would drive
penitent sinners away from God. They were expected to deal with them gently
and patiently, yet firmly and fairly.
During the last 200 years of the Jewish era, one has to search diligently to find
high priests who filled this qualification. Consider evil Annas and wicked
Caiaphas who officiated at Christ's mock trial. Brutal Theophilus issued letters
to Paul to bind Christians and bring them to Jerusalem to be punished. Then there
was Ananias, the inhuman "whitewashed wall" who commanded Paul to be struck
on the mouth (Ac 23:2)
I am fully aware that gospel preachers are not high priests but compassion needs
to be a characteristic of all of God's servants. They need to have compassion or
bear gently with patience.
On those who are ignorant [with, on, towards, the ignorant].[ 15 ] The OT has
much to say about sins of ignorance.
then it will be, if it is unintentionally committed, without the knowledge of the congregation, that the whole congregation shall offer one young bull as a burnt offering, as a sweet aroma to the LORD, with its grain offering and its drink offering, according to the ordinance, and one kid of the goats as a sin offering. 25 So the priest shall make atonement for the whole congregation of the children of Israel, and it shall be forgiven them, for it was unintentional; they shall bring their offering, an offering made by fire to the LORD, and their sin offering before the LORD, for their unintended sin. 26 It shall be forgiven the whole congregation of the children of Israel and the stranger who sojourns among them, because all the people did it unintentionally. 27 And if a person sins unintentionally, then he shall bring a female goat in its first year as a sin offering. 28 So the priest shall make atonement for the person who sins unintentionally, when he sins unintentionally before the LORD, to make atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him. 29 You shall have one law for him who sins unintentionally, for him who is native-born among the children of Israel and for the stranger who sojourns among them (Nu 15:22-29).
From these verses, one may infer that sins of ignorance were not overlooked.
Offerings had to be made for them. In fact, these sins were the very kind that
could be "rolled forward" or forgiven on a "passing over" basis. The high priest
made atonement for sins once a year.
Atonement was necessary for sins of ignorance. No doubt this helped the Jews
to hone their concept of sin. One might think himself innocent but, with perfect
discernment, God might find him guilty.
Defiant, rebellious and recalcitrant sinners were not forgiven.
Presumptuous sinners were to be put to death (De 17:6). The High Priest had
to decide whether the sin was committed in ignorance or "presumptuously" with
"a high hand." Sometimes this was a very difficult task.
And going astray [and wayward, erring, the erring ones, and on them that
are out of the way].[ 16 ] The prophet spoke of "all we" going astray.
Christians may be overtaken in trespasses.
Saints may wander into sin.
Peter describes sinners "like sheep going astray" (1Pe 2:25). The NT
counterpart to defiant sin is discussed in Hebrews 10:26-29.
Since he himself is also beset by weakness [for that he himself also is
compassed with infirmity, clothed with infirmity].[ 17 ] Aaron and other OT high
priests were not appointed because of their sinless perfection. They were weak
When Aaron was making the golden calf, he must have suffered terrible pangs
of conscience (see Ex 32:1-6). Then, after he was forgiven, he must have felt
great pity toward other sinners. Human priests were weak in that they were
subject to injury, sickness and death. Although not special priests, gospel
preachers are taken from among men and are able to sympathize with the lost and
In this respect, Christ was very different from the human high priests. He is
"holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the
heavens" (Heb 7:26). Though He is without sin, He met the qualification of being
sympathetic to sinners because of the ordeal of His suffering and crucifixion.
5:3 Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to
offer sacrifices for sins.
Because of this [and so, and by reason thereof, hereof, and, on account of
this infirmity]. Because an OT high priest was a sinful human being, he had to
offer sacrifices for his own sins. Regular, daily offerings were made. There were
also special sacrifices for unusual sins (Le 4:3-12). All these involved his own
sins as well as the people's. Then there was the yearly Day of Atonement when
the high priest went into the most holy place to offer for his own sins and then for
those of the people.
He is required [is bound, he ought, to offer sacrifices].[ 18 ] required, If the
OT high priest was to serve faithfully, he was obligated to take care of the offering
for his own sins first and then offer for others. Servants of God today should first
cleanse their own souls through repentance and prayer before trying to correct or
convert others (see Mt 7:5).
As for the people [as well as for those of, not only for, even as for, the
people].[ 19 ] In addition to the sacrifices offered for himself, the OT high priests
offered sacrifices for all of God's people.
So also for himself [for his own, but for himself also].[ 20 ] The OT priests were sinful beings who needed sacrifices to be offered for themselves. This does not apply to Christ because He was totally without sin (see Heb 4:15; 7:26, 27; 9:14).
To offer sacrifices for sins [to offer, to offer sacrifice, for sins].[ 21 ] The
words "for sins" help to define "sacrifices" by giving their purpose (see verse 1).
Sacrifices for sins made by the high priest, whether yearly, monthly or daily, were
offered first for his own sins and then for those of the people (Le 9:7).
And no one takes this honor to himself [no one, and no man, and one does
not, take, taketh, the honor, upon himself]. The sons of Korah tried to officiate
as priests unappointed. The earth opened up and swallowed them (Nu 16:1-33).
The bronze censors of those who perished were hammered out as a plating for the
altar as a memorial that no outsider should ever come in and try to burn incense
at the tabernacle.
Was the reason Paul did not recognize Ananias as "God's high priest" because
he who claimed to be high priest was indeed a usurper (see Ac 23:5)?
But he who is called by God [but when he, but he that, but as, except the one, who is, called of God].[ 22 ] Aaron was appointed by God (Ex 28:1). The same was true of his son Eleazar (Nu 20:24-26) and his son Phinehas (Nu 25:10-13). During the first century, high priests were appointed by Herod the Great, Archelaus, various Roman governors and the family of Herod. The last high priest, Phanni, son of Samuel, was appointed by lot during the war against Rome[ 23 ] [about AD 67].[ 24 ]
On earth, Christ was Prophet. In heaven, he is Priest and King (Zec 6:13).
Through Moses, God's promise to raise up a prophet, according to Peter, applies
to Jesus Christ (Ac 3:22-26). God said:
By an oath, God also made Christ "a priest forever" (Ps 110:4). He reigns upon
the throne of David (Isa 9:6, 7).
The present verse does not describe a "call" of any minister to preach the gospel.
The divine calling in this verse deals with high priests, not preachers. The verse
has nothing to do with the "call" of denominational preachers. Neither does it
have to do with robed priests in the Catholic, Episcopal, Mormon, Methodist or
other churches. Those who claim to be special priests or ministers set apart from
"ordinary" Christians are impostors. Their distinctive dress does not make them
qualified to serve God as priests. The Bible does not authorize a NT office of
robed priests. Neither does it teach that some Christians are ordinary. Ministers
today who claim a miraculous call to preach are either deceived or are themselves
Just as Aaron was [as, even as, was Aaron, Aaron was also]. Although Christ
is High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, in some respects, His Priesthood
bears a likeness to that of Aaron. For example, Aaron was called by God to be
high priest. Along with the instructions about building the tabernacle, God
selected Aaron. To Moses, God said:
Aaron's divine call was confirmed by inspiration long after his death:
5:5 So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was
He who said to Him: "You are My Son, today I have begotten You."
So also Christ did not glorify Himself [so Christ also, thus the Christ,
glorified not, has not glorified, did not exalt, himself].[ 25 ] The position of high
priest was glorious. That glory came from God who called him. Neither did
Christ, who is our High Priest, glorify Himself.
On Pentecost, Peter announced God's exaltation of His Son:
By announcing that Christ was His Begotten Son, God glorified Him (see note
on Ac 13:33; also note below on But He who said to Him).
To become High Priest [to be made a, an, high priest].[ 26 ] Although as the
Son of Man, He had power on earth to forgive sins (Mt 9:2; Mk 2:5, 9, 10; Lu
5:20, 23; 7:48) and was vested with "all authority" (Mt 28:18), Jesus had not
always held the office of High Priest. He became High Priest as well as King
upon His ascension to heaven.
But it was He who said to Him [but he, but the One, that spake, who had
said unto him].[ 27 ] It was God who spoke to Christ to glorify Him as high priest.
This is recorded in Psalm 2:7. In the context of Psalm 2, when God announced,
"You are My Son," it had to do with making Him King. Thus God, who called
Jesus His Son, made Him King. The Hebrew writer associates the same event
with Him being made High Priest. This is understandable because His heavenly
reign as King and Priest are simultaneous (see Zec 6:13).
1. Had to be perfected by suffering
(Heb 2:17, 18; 4:15; 5:8, 9).
2. Had to receive honor or glory from God.
a. This occurred, in part, when Christ was raised from the dead (see note on Heb 1:5).
3. Had to be appointed by God.
a. His appointment occurred after His resurrection (compare Heb 1:5).
4. It did not take place until his ascension into heaven (Heb 8:4).
You are My Son today I have begotten You [Thou art my Son, This day
have I begotten thee, I have to-day begotten thee].[ 28 ] The NIV with "today I
have become your Father" hints that Christ was made high priest when he was
born of Mary. If this implication was intentional, it suggests the translators did
not fully understand the meaning of the verse.
The quotation from Psalm 2:7 is a prophecy (compare Isa 42:1; Mt 3:17; 12:18;
17:5; Mk 9:7; Lu 9:35). It speaks of Christ being God's Son. In the book of
Hebrews, it is shown to have to do with Him being made High Priest. Four
events had to occur prior to His becoming High Priest (see chart
PREREQUISITES FOR CHRIST TO BECOME HIGH PRIEST).
As He also says in another place [said, as he saith, just as He says, also in
another place, passage, even as also in another place he says]. The reference
You are a priest forever [Thou art a priest for ever].[ 30 ] The Aaronic priests
were to serve perpetually (Ex 40:15; compare Nu 25:13). They were bound by
time, by the period of their earthly service.
Levites began service at age 25.[ 31 ] Unless they died first, they were to retire
from service at age fifty (Nu 4:46-49; 8:24, 25). By contrast, Christ continues as
high priest in heaven forever because His tenure is not limited by, nor can it be
cut short by, retirement or death. He lives on and on.
Jesus, because He abides forever, holds His priesthood permanently. There are
no successors to His priesthood. "Forever," in this context, denotes the time-span
of His service. Will He have a need to serve as High Priest after all the redeemed
get to heaven?
According to the order of Melchizedek [after the order, of Melchizedek].[ 32 ]
Although Christ's priesthood is similar to that of Melchizedek, the NIV is
simplistic with the rendering "just like Melchizedek." He is like him but perhaps
not "just" like him. The Greek may mean nothing more than that He was of the
same rank or station as Melchizedek.[ 33 ] Insofar as Scripture informs us,
Melchizedek had no beginning or end. Since he had neither predecessor nor
successor, order does not require a succession of similar priests. Jesus is still
King and Priest. He is a Priest after the order of Melchizedek in that He is like
him, that is, "according to the likeness of Melchizedek" (see Heb 7:15).
Melchizedek is first mentioned in Genesis 14:18. The only other OT reference
to him is Psalm 110:4. The present verse (Heb 5:6) is the first NT passage to
mention him. The writer continues to discuss him in Hebrews 5, 6 and 7. Then
his name is dropped. It does not appear again in all the NT. The last mention of
his name is in Hebrews 7:21.
In the patriarchal age, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and others performed
priestly acts (see Ge 4:4; 8:20; 12:8; 28:23; 26:25; 33:20). Others carried out
priestly duties shortly before the formal ordination of Aaron and his sons (Ex 5:1-3; 19:22). The sons of David were called "chief ministers," literally,
priests[ 34 ] (2Sa 8:18). There were priests in non-Jewish nations as well. Potiphera in Egypt (Gen 41:45); Jethro in Midian east of the Gulf of Aqaba (Ex 2:16).
[5:7] Who.[ 35 ] This personal pronoun, omitted from several modern versions,
is appropriately carried in the NKJV and KJV translations. This reference to
Christ shows that Christ, although not Himself sinful, is able to sympathize with
those for whom He serves as High Priest.
In the days of His flesh.[ 36 ] The "days of His flesh" is another way of saying
His time on earth. Jesus' glorified body is not one of flesh and blood (compare
1Co 15:50; Php 3:21). He was not high priest during the "days of His flesh" (see
note on Heb 8:4) but during his earthly ministry He was preparing for that office.
His agony in the garden of Gethsemane, followed by his mock trial and
crucifixion, perfectly fitted him for the priesthood in that He can sympathize with
human beings in all their temptations and trials. This has already been alluded to
in Hebrews 2:17, 18; 4:14, 15.
When He had offered up prayers [having offered up prayers, he, Jesus, offered both supplications].[ 37 ] Becausthey were themselves sinners, the OT high priests had to first offer for themselves. Jesus was without sin and did not need to do that. Never did He ask forgiveness for anything. Some try to attach a "priestly" meaning to His prayers, such as those in Gethsemane. Also His prayer in John 17 has been erroneously referred to by several as His "high-priestly" prayer. None of His prayers were the deeds of a priest. Other passages plainly teach that He was not a priest while on earth (see note on Heb 8:4).
And supplications [and petitions, and entreaties].[ 38 ] Supplications are prayers
requesting assistance for self or for others. They are usually offered with great
fervor and earnestness.
With vehement cries [with strong crying, with loud cries].[ 39 ] One of the
Messianic Psalms predicted this very point.
By saying "with vehement cries" it may be possible that the Holy Spirit had in
mind some such prayer as when He was in Gethsemane:
If so, we can be sure the Savior prayed, not silently or in a whisper, but very
much aloud. He was in anguish. The tension was unbearable. "He prayed more
earnestly" (Lu 22:44). The volume of his imploring voice could easily have been
heard by the disciples, had they not slept through it. After his Gethsemane prayers
were ended, He still was yet to drink "the cup" (Joh 18:11). The cup of suffering
was primarily His terrible scourging and atrocious death on the cross.
It may be possible that other prayers were in special view here. Some have
pointed out that they had to do with His being saved from death, or, at least, from
being held in hades (see Ac 2:31).[ 40 ]
And tears.[ 41 ] The mention of tears helps to define the strong crying as a prayer
of sorrow and anguish, not simply a loud call to the Father. Jesus was "a Man of
sorrows" (Isa 53:3). At the tomb of Lazarus, He wept (Joh 11:35). He wept over
Jerusalem (Mt 23:37-40; Lu 19:41-44).
To Him who was able to save Him from death [unto him that was able to
save him out of death].[ 42 ] The One able to save Him from death was God.
Jesus prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him (Mk 14:35).
However, His basic request was to "Take this away from Me" (Mk 14:36) or "Let
this cup pass from me" (Mt 26:39; Lu 22:42), apparently that the Father would
save Him from death. "Save" can either mean to keep from dying, or to preserve
from the corruption of death. It may also mean to deliver from the clutches of
it.[ 43 ] If the latter is intended, it was adequately bestowed by His resurrection.
The way He was saved from death was in the sense that He was raised from the
dead.[ 44 ]
And was heard [and having been, and he was, heard].[ 45 ] There is an OT
prediction to the effect that the prayer of Christ would be heard.
Jesus said, "And I know that You always hear Me" (Joh 11:42). One of the
things He prayed for was that the Father's will be done (Mt 26:39, 42). That
request was answered affirmatively. He also was strengthened (Lu 22:43).[ 46 ]
Sometimes faithful Christians pray that some dreaded event may not occur and
still it does. This does not prove that God did not hear. In spite of the fact that
Christ's prayer was heard, He still had to suffer the cruel death of Calvary.
Because of His godly fear [for his godly fear, reverence, piety, in that he
feared]. "His godly fear" no doubt correlates with the sorrowful time when Jesus
prayed with piety, humble and reverent submission, as he wept in the Garden (Mt
26:36-46; Lu 22:39-46). [ 47 ]As man, in Gethsemane, did He fear the ordeal of
death? Was He delivered from the fear of death? Did He fear God in the sense
of awe and reverence? Did He fear that Satan would somehow foil the divinely
determined crucifixion?[ 48 ] The Greek term may signify either (compare reverence
or godly fear in Heb 11:7).
[5:8] Though He was a Son [although he was, were, a Son, he is the Son].[ 49 ]
The fact that Jesus was God's Son might be thought by some to prevent the
necessity for Him to learn obedience.[ 50 ] The Sonship and Priesthood of Christ are
very closely connected. He had to suffer to become a perfect Priest. Being the
Son of God had its advantages, but it did not eliminate the need to suffer. This
was essential to prepare Him for the Priesthood (see note on Heb 4:15).
Yet He learned obedience [yet learned, he learned, yet learned he, obedience,
about obedience].[ 51 ] Jesus always knew the definition of obedience. He did not
need to learn what it was. Did He need to learn to obey? Yes, in spite of the fact
that He always obeyed (Joh 8:29; 14:31; 15:10; Ro 5:19; Heb 10:9). He was
always wise (see Isa 11:2; Mt 13:54; 2Co 1:24; Col 2:3). Yet He increased in
wisdom (Lu 2:52).
In what sense did Christ learn obedience? He certainly did not learn it like we
do by suffering because of His own sins.[ 52 ] When He suffered, what He learned
was how arduous, trying and difficult obedience can sometimes be for human
beings. He learned the limits to which man can go before requiring divine help
(see note on 1Co 10:13). It was the will of God for Him to suffer (Joh 18:11).
His suffering was part of His obedience, as foretold by the prophet.
His literal baptism was "to fulfill all righteousness" (Mt 3:15). So was his
figurative baptism of suffering (see previous footnote).
By the things which He suffered [through what, from the things, he
suffered].[ 53 ] Even though Jesus was the Son of God, He was not exempted from
suffering in the school of obedience. By enduring the test of suffering He became
able to "sympathize with our weaknesses" (Heb 4:15). In general, sons learn
obedience to their human fathers through suffering.
5:9-11 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation
to all who obey Him, 10 called by God as High Priest "according to the order
of Melchizedek," 11 of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since
you have become dull of hearing.
And having been perfected [and having been made perfect, being
perfected].[ 55 ] Christ was made perfect through suffering (see notes on Heb 2:10;
7:28).[ 56 ] By suffering, He finished His earthly mission to become the Savior. He
perfected His preparation for the priesthood. That is, He completed it. Perfect
suffering made Him a perfect High Priest. Consider this from the standpoint of
forgiveness of sins. OT priests did not bring perfection in this respect.
Perfection (that is, complete forgiveness of sins) was not provided under the
Aaronic priesthood. Christ was made perfect in that He accomplished that which
was necessary to take away sins, namely the shedding of His precious blood on
Calvary (see note on Heb 11:40). By His sacrifice on the cross He provided the
complete merit for the salvation of those who obey Him. He was perfected as the
acceptable and perfect sacrifice. When He died on the Cross where He shed His
precious blood for the sins of the world He perfected forever the way to heaven.
There may be an allusion here to the suffering of Christians as they continue to
obey Christ. As Christ "steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem"[ 57 ] to suffer
on Calvary, so Christians dedicate themselves to taking up His cross in obedient
following. The choice is theirs. They can obey even if it means suffering, or they
can camouflage their faith or deny Him and avoid it. The latter alternatives are
included in the expression "draw back to perdition" (Heb 10:39). The destruction
into which they pass is one of greater suffering. The admonition of Christ is to
be faithful unto death[ 58 ] (Re 2:10). The context suggests it is, "unto" death, not
just "until" death. "Unto" implies one is to be faithful even if one suffers death
He became [became].[ 59 ] This alludes to the completion of the process of
suffering by which Christ became Savior in the fullest sense.
To all who obey Him [unto all them that obey him].[ 60 ] Jesus tasted death for
every man (Heb 2:9). But who will enter the kingdom of heaven? Not everyone
(Mt 7:21). Only those who do the will of the Father in heaven. Only those who
obey Him. This clearly states the necessity of obedience to Christ. Stated
conversely, those who do not obey Him are lost (see note on 2Th 1:8). It is
amazing that people read the present verse and still say that obedience has nothing
to do with one's salvation.
1. Whoever hears . . . and does them . . . a wise man (Mt 7:24).
2. For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother (Mt 12:50).
3. If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine (Joh 7:17).
4. If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word
5. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever
The author of eternal salvation [author, the source, of eternal salvation].[ 61 ]
[5:10] Called by God [named of God, being designated by God, addressed
by God].[ 63 ] The Greek word suggests the appointment of Christ to be High
Priest. The Jews understood that Aaron was named of God. Just as surely Christ
was named of God to be the High Priest for Christians. The Jews, as a general
rule, believed Psalm 110 was Messianic, written by David under inspiration of the
Holy Spirit.[ 64 ] This is shown, in part, by a conversation Jesus had with the
Pharisees about this very Psalm. They did not question that Psalm 110 spoke of
the Messiah, nor did they discount its inspiration.
As High Priest [as, a, an, high priest]. Jesus was designated High Priest after
His resurrection and His ascension into heaven.
According to the order of Melchizedek [after the order of Melchizedek].[ 65 ]
The quotation is from Psalm 110:4. In a note above that quotes Matthew 22:43-45, it was shown that this Psalm was attributed to David by inspiration of the Holy
Spirit, and that it referred to the Messiah.[ 66 ] Actually, some of the Jews
misunderstood the prophecies. They supposed there were two Messiahs, one a
suffering, priestly servant and the other a triumphant king. In reality, the priestly
and kingly Messiah were one and the same. Both aspects of the Messiahship were
completely fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He is both King and Priest (see Zec 6:13).[ 67 ]
The Messiah (that is, the Christ) is the One whom David foretold would be a high
priest after the order of Melchizedek. The Aaronic priests were required to be
Levites. Jesus was of the tribe of Judah, not Levi (Mic 5:1; Mt 1:2; Heb 7:14);
Re 5:5).[ 68 ]
It was after Christ was invited to "sit down" in heaven, that is, after He was
made the highest ruler in the universe [except for the Father], He was saluted as
High Priest (see chart EVENTS AS CHRIST BECAME HIGH PRIEST). In
effect, this was the universal acknowledgement by the Father that through His Son
Jesus Christ, forgiveness of sins had become viable (compare Php 2:9, 10). By
this, Jesus became the forerunner for Christians, making it possible for them to
enter heaven also.
This study of the priesthood of Christ should provide encouragement to all
Christians. Through Him they have remission of sins and eternal life. Keep in
mind that salvation is not of humin merit. It is the gift of God (Eph 2:8, 9).
[5:11] Of whom [about, concerning, this, him].[ 69 ] The topic of Melchizedek
will be developed further by the writer in Hebrews 6, 7. The Jews had entered
into a great deal of discussion about Melchizedek. Bruce cites at least ten
references to support this.[ 70 ]
We have much to say [we have many things to say, much to relate].[ 71 ] Much
needed to be written about Melchizedek as well as our High Priest, Christ, who
was like him. More information will be given about this subject in chapter 7.
And hard to explain [which is hard, but difficult, of interpretation, to be
interpreted in speaking of it, to explain, to be uttered].[ 72 ] Some of the things
about Melchizedek are hard to understand as well as to explain (see chart
MELCHIZEDEK, THINGS HARD TO UNDERSTAND). One reason it was hard
to explain was because of dullness of the hearers. The Jewish Christians had not
progressed very far in study of the revealed will of God. Perhaps they had
forgotten some of what they had originally learned.
Since you have become dull of hearing [seeing ye are, ye are become,
because you are, dull in hearing].[ 73 ] The Greek is literally "dull of hearing"
but, by synecdoche, means dull or sluggish in understanding of spiritual ideas.
Notice that they had "become" dull. They had "become" such as had need of
milk. The fact that they had "become" suggests that, in comparison to their
former attainments, they were now in a state of spiritual decline.
This begins the third great exhortation in the book of Hebrews. It continues through the end of chapter 6. The first was to give the more earnest heed (Heb 2:1). The second was not to harde their hearts (Heb 3:7-11). The fourth is in Hebrews 10:19-25 and concerns drawing near, exhorting one another and not forsaking the assembly.
5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to
teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come
to need milk and not solid food.
For though by this time [for when by reason of, for when for, for even
because of, the time].[ 74 ] How long does it take for a person to learn enough to
teach the word of God? How much time is required for one to learn how to
teach? The disciples were with the Lord for about three years but someone says
they were inspired. If one spends two or more years in a school of biblical studies
he may become a pretty good teacher, providing he has diligently applied his
mind. If one spends twenty or more hours per week preparing a lesson, his
instruction should be acceptable.
You ought to be teachers [ye ought to, you who should, be teachers.][ 75 ]
There is great advantage held by those with a good knowledge of the word of God.
Those who do not study cannot be good teachers. One cannot teach what he does
not know. Learners ought to become teachers after a reasonable length of time.
In fact, they are under obligation to do so.[ 76 ] At least, they ought to be able to
receive solid spiritual food. The writer may be using hyperbole. Certainly, every
Christian is not expected to preach publicly. For example, women are not to
become public preachers. However, every one is expected to teach in some
manner, whether by personal evangelism or by counselling someone. A Christian
may simply speak a word in due season to a fellow-worker, student or neighbor.
Every parent and grandparent ought to strive to be a good teacher of children.
You need someone to teach you again [ye have need, have need again, again
need, that one, for someone, again to teach you, should teach you].[ 77 ] The
Hebrew Christians were not the only ones who were naive, slow, undeveloped or,
to say the least, dull of hearing. First principles need to be taught again and
The first principles [the rudiments of, which be, what are, the basic
principles, the elements of the beginning].[ 78 ] I take "first principles" to be the
basic fundamentals of the faith. Perhaps there is an allusion to the OT teachings
that every Jew should have understood. Had the Hebrew Christians become so
satisfied with their elementary knowledge that they, through neglect, were no
longer even sure of that?
Of the oracles of God [of God's word].[ 79 ] Oracles are nothing more than
divine utterances (compare Ac 7:38; Ro 3:2; 1Pe 4:11). Had the Jewish
Christians ignored the basic OT prophecies of Christ? Had they forgotten the
purification from their former sins (compare 2Pe 1:9)? Had they drifted so far that
they could not tell someone how to become a Christian? Did they need instruction
about washings, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead and eternal
judgment (see Heb 6:2)?
And you have come [and are become, you have].[ 80 ] The Hebrew Christians
had changed for the worse. They had retrogressed. For awhile, they had seemed
ready to go on learning. Because of their neglect they had reached the sorry state
of needing to be taught again the very things they had previously learned.
To need milk [such as have need of, you need, that you need, milk].[ 81 ]
"Milk" is a metaphor meaning basic teachint. Peter exhorted his readers to desire
the total revealed word as babies desire milk.
New babies desire pure milk. All Christians should desire the word. However,
the Hebrew writer goes beyond that. He gently suggests the reason his readers
need milk is because they have backslidden, digressed or drifted. Paul's word to
the Corinthians is a near parallel:
And not solid food [not, and not of, solid food, strong meat, strong food].[ 82 ]
The Greek word translated "meat" (ASV, KJV) does not mean flesh but food in
general. Neither does it mean "strong" in seasoning. It means solid, that is, not
liquid or gaseous. Apparently instruction about Melchizedek and the priesthood
of Christ was considered to be more advanced teaching than their sluggish ears
were ready to receive.
5:13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of
righteousness, for he is a babe.
For everyone who partakes only of milk [everyone, that partaketh of, who
lives on, that useth, who uses only, milk].[ 83 ] "Milk" stands for spiritual baby
food. Some scholars understand the Hebrew writer to suggest that some of his
readers were taking the milk of the word only.
Is unskilled [is without experience, is unskillful].[ 84 ] Those who subsist on
baby food are inexperienced. They have no skill to understand deeper meanings
of Scripture. They have little or no proficiency to accomplish anything in the
In the word of righteousness [of the word of righteousness].[ 85 ] The gospel
is the word of righteousness because in it has revealed the righteousness of God
(Ro 1:17). It is the only message that shows sinful man how to become righteous
in God's sight.
1. Way of righteousness (Mt 21:32; 2Pe 2:21).
2. Gift (Ro 5:17).
3. Instruments (Ro 6:13).
4. Slaves (Ro 6:18, 19).
5. Law (Ro 9:31).
6. Ministry (2Co 3:9).
7. Weapons (2Co 6:7).
8. Fruit(s) (2Co 9:10; Php 1:11; Jas 1:20; 3:18).
For he is a babe [for he is a child, an infant].[ 86 ] Jesus commended certain
traits of children such as trust and forgiveness. In the present context, it is not
these characteristics, nor the innocence of children, that the writer has in mind.
It was in a negative aspect that the sacred writer describes the Hebrew Christians
as babes. They were babies in understanding spiritual truths. They were slow in
understanding deeper religious thoughts. Paul called the Galatians children in a
similar sense. Those who understood only the Law of Moses were "children."
In Christ, they were expected to be mature sons (see note on Ga 3:28).
5:14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by
reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
But solid food belongs to those who are of full age [but strong meat is for,
belongeth to, fullgrown men, the mature, the mature people].[ 87 ] Mature, grown
up or fullgrown Christians are "spiritual people" (1Co 3:1). Paul said:
That is, those who by reason of use [who, even those who, because of, use,
for those by practice, on account of habit].[ 88 ] By long use, practice or habit,
by studying and putting into practice Biblical truths, men and women become
mature in the faith. Their senses become trained to discern good and evil.
Apparently, many among the "Christian" masses are unable to discern between the
truth of God and the errors of human creeds. Sadly, they may not really care
whether they follow the will of God or the traditions of men. If true, this is
evidence of a lack of genuine faith.
Have their senses [who have their faculties, perceptions].[ 89 ] Physical senses
may be heightened as witnessed by blind persons who can hear better than seeing
persons. The deaf learn to rely more upon their sharpened sense of feeling. Here,
by analogy, the writer is speaking of the inner senses of the spiritual man. He
speaks of the part of man that perceives, discerns and understands. The same
inner being draws one toward God and away from evil (see Jas 4:8).
Exercised [trained]. [ 90 ] One's senses may be trained in that which is good.
Timothy was admonished, "Exercise yourself toward godliness" (1Ti 4:7). Such
discipline may seem to be a drudgery, but the results are spectacular. Negatively,
the heart may be exercised in evil, for example, "trained in covetous practices"
To discern both good and evil [to distinguish, for distinguishing, good from
evil].[ 91 ] One essential to knowing the truth is a dedication to do God's will (see
note on Joh 7:17). Another is to develop a genuine love for the truth (see note on
2Th 2:10). When Christians become mature in their understanding of the
Scriptures, even the slightest deviation from the right path is perceptible to them.
Some members of the Lord's church seem to be unable to recognize false doctrine
when they see it. This is evidence of lack of knowledge, too little experience or
a weak or powerless faith. Such members become enamored by cute and
interesting speakers whether or not they teach the truth. It is not just the
"religious masses" who are unable to discern good and evil. Members of the
Lord's church are not immune.
Pragmatism[ 92 ] has become the standard by many leaders in His church. If a
certain procedure gives "results" it is adopted, whether or not there is a "Thus
saith the Lord" for it. When a congregation agrees with the premise of
pragmatism it is on its way to departure from the truth.
concerning whom (Marshall 864); concerning which, not Melchizedek, but the topic that Christ is a priest after the order of Melchizedek, a topic to which great importance is attached (Vincent 4.437); about Him [or, about it (this topic)] (Williams); regarding whom (Lenski 169).