Hebrews Chapter 5
: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. 4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.”
This portion of the book of Hebrews sets forth a summary of the purpose, function, and order of the High Priesthood taught in the Old Testament. It sets the groundwork for that which follows concerning the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament Priesthood was given to the children of Israel by God. There are several points that the above scripture teaches us about the Old
Testament high priesthood which served as an example of the greater priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ:
1. “The high priest was taken from among men.” God chose that Aaron of the tribe of Levi would be the first high priest and that his sons and the descendant male children who met the requirements would succeed to the office of high priest after his death.
2. The high priest was “ordained for men in things pertaining to God.” The word, ordained, means appointed. The high priest was not ordained for God, but was ordained for men. This gift was given by God for the benefit and blessing of the children of Israel. The office of the high priest was given for men in things pertaining to God. The high priest was the intermediator between
God and men. The high priest was to offer the gifts of men toward God and the sacrifices for sins on behalf of men to God. These gifts and sacrifices were an integral part of the worship and service of the children of Israel both daily and annually and at the set feast times in things pertaining to God.
3. “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.” Under the Old Testament priesthood, the high priest was often plagued with the same infirmities and circumstances and problems that the people he was representing before God were plagued with. Because of this he
could have compassion with the infirmities, circumstances, and problems of the people. With this compassion he was to intercede on behalf of the people he represented.
4. “And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.” The high priest once a year entered into the holiest of all to make sacrifice first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. The high priest under the order of Aaron were sinners as well as the people, and they had need of saving from their
sins, just as the people had need of saving from their sins.
5. “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” The office of the high priest was a called-out office.
God chose who would serve in this office and called Aaron and his sons to serve in that office. God is a sovereign God and does according to his will. Men did not have a choice in this matter. Further, we see a principle set forth here that applies to the offices of God’s appointment. God appointed men to be prophets in the Old Testament. Those who were prophets did not choose of
themselves to be prophets. God called them to be prophets. Moreover, the office of the gospel minister is established by God. It is not men’s choice to be gospel ministers, but rather it is God who chooses whom he pleases to be gospel ministers and calls those men to serve in that office work. For a man to choose to be a high priest, or a priest, or a prophet, or a gospel minister whom the Lord has not chosen and
called to the office is committing great offense against the very God of heaven.
: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. 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; 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; 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
This passage points out to us that Christ did not make himself to be a high priest. But the Father made him to be a high priest. His high priesthood was not after the order of Aaron, but was after the order of Melchisedec. Paul, as was frequently his custom, used Old Testament verses to prove his point:
1. “Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee” was taken from Ps. 2:7 “I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” Moreover, the following scripture shows us that the meaning of “today have I begotten thee:” Acts 13:33 “God hath fulfilled the same unto us their
children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” The significance of the word “begotten” applies to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
2. “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” was taken from Ps. 110:4 “The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.”
Thus, we see that Christ’s priesthood was given to him by the Father and that it was prophesied in the Old Testament. This was essential for the understanding of the Jews in Paul’s day as the Jews were steeped in the traditions and knowledge of the Old Testament.
In the above and as we go forward in the book of Hebrews, Paul pointed out that, today, in the New Testament Church we have something better than the Old Testament law service. Moreover, he is pointing out that the Old Testament law service was fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ.
“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;” We read in the book of Matthew that this was fulfilled in the garden before Jesus was taken into the custody of men as follows: Matt. 26:38 “Then saith he unto
them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. 39 And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. 40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, that
ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. 42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.”
We are to understand that Jesus was not saved from dying and the text does not indicate that he asked to be saved from “dying,” but he was saved from “death.” Christ suffered death on our behalf and then was delivered from that death from which he had suffered. We know this is true because on the third day he arose from the grave, victorious over death, hell, and the grave.
“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;” As the Son of God he is eternal and has all knowledge and has always had all knowledge. The learning under consideration is not to be understood as increasing in knowledge.
Rather, he “experienced” obedience by the things which he suffered. The obedience was the obedience to the covenant of redemption which he had with the Father before the world begun. The obedience was manifest by the things which Jesus suffered on behalf of his covenant people.
“And being made perfect…” Sinless perfection is not what is under consideration. The Son of God is always and has always been perfect as to sinlessness. The being made perfect has reference to his complete fulfillment of everything necessary to save his people from their sins. As a result of his completing everything necessary to save his people
from their sins, he then became “the author” of eternal salvation to them that obey him. The word author means “causer.” Thus, Jesus is the “causer” of eternal salvation. And since Jesus is the causer, the obedience of those who obey him is not the cause of eternal salvation, because Jesus is the cause of their eternal salvation. There is a sense in which every last one of the elect family of God passively obey
Jesus in the spiritual birth. As Jesus said in John 5:25 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.”
“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.” Once again, Paul tells us that Christ was called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec. He reinforces this in contrast to the priesthood after the order of Aaron. There was a
time and a purpose for the Old Testament priesthood, but now a far greater High Priest and priesthood is present. Moreover, Paul said of this High Priest that “we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. The phrase “hard to be uttered” comes from a Greek word meaning “difficult to explain.” The reason those things were difficult to explain was because of the condition of the
people. The people had become “dull of hearing.” The word dull comes from a Greek word meaning lazy or sluggard. It would appear that the Jewish disciples had become so tied to their traditions that they had become lazy or sluggish in even attempting to understand the things that Paul was trying to teach them.