Hebrews Chapter 5
Heb 5:1 For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in the things pertaining to God, so that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins,
The epistle next develops the priesthood of the Lord Jesus, comparing it with that of Aaron; but, as we shall see, with a view to bring out the difference rather than the resemblance between them, although there is a general analogy, and the one was a shadow of the other.
For every high priest taken from among men] Rather, “being taken,” or “chosen as he is” (comp. Exo_28:1, Lev 21:10). The Apostle now enters on his proof that in order to fit Him for the functions of a High Priest for men it was necessary that Christ should become Man. He has already called attention to the subject in a marked manner in Heb_2:7, Heb_3:1, Heb_4:14-15.
is ordained for men] “Is appointed on men’s behalf.” Is set apart or consecrated for the welfare of people. The Jewish high priest was set apart to his office with great solemnity; see Exo. 29:
in things pertaining to God] Heb_2:17. It is his part to act as man’s representative in the performance of the duties of worship and sacrifice. He was not to be a civil ruler, nor a teacher of science, nor a military leader, but his sole business was to superintend the affairs of religion.
The phrase gifts and sacrifices for sins reminds us that not every sacrifice was a blood atonement for sins. Many of the ritual sacrifices were intended to be simple gifts to God, expressing thanks and desiring fellowship. Many such offerings were made by the Jews under the laws of Moses, and the high priest was the medium by whom they were to be presented to God.
We are called to be priests of God (1 Peter 2:5, 9; Rev. 20:6). We even offer a sacrifice (Rom. 12:1). How much time do we spend in the “duties of worship and sacrifice”?
Heb 5:2 who can have compassion on the ignorant and on those who are out of the way. For he himself also is compassed with weakness.
(Heb_5:1-4) Principles of priesthood under the Law of Moses.
He can have compassion: Ideally, the high priest was more than a “butcher” offering sacrifice. He also had compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, and ministered the atoning sacrifices with a loving heart for the people. In this ideal, the high priest has this compassion because he understands that he himself is also subject to weakness.
ignorant — sins not committed in resistance of light and knowledge, but as Paul’s past sin (1Ti_1:13). No sacrifice was appointed for willful sin committed with a high hand; for such were to be punished with death; all other sins, namely, ignorances and errors, were confessed and expiated with sacrifices by the high priest.
God made specific commands to help insure the high priest would minister with compassion. In the breastplate of the high priest were set twelve stones engraved with the names of the tribes of Israel, and on the shoulder straps were stones engraved with the names of the tribes. In this, the people of Israel were always on the heart and on the shoulders of the high priest (Exo_28:4-30).
As priests in training—are you compassionate?
As this is a job requirement, what can you do to develop more compassion?
Heb 5:3 And because of this he should, as for the people, so also for himself, offer for sins.
God also made specific commands to help insure the high priest would minister with awareness that he was also subject to weakness. On the Day of Atonement, the high priest had to sacrifice for himself first, to remind himself and the nation that he had sin to atone for, just like the rest of the people of Israel (Lev_16:1-6).
And by reason hereof - Because he is a sinner; an imperfect man. “As for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.” To make an expiation for sins. He needs the same atonement; he offers the sacrifice for himself which he does for others; Lev_4:3-12; 9:7. The same thing is true of the ministers of religion now. They come before God feeling that they have need of the benefit of the same atonement which they preach to others; they plead the merits of the same blood for their own salvation which they show to be indispensable for the salvation of others.
Do you think about your sins and the need for repentance?
Does this enter into how you deal with those who irritate or trespass against you?
Heb 5:4 And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called of God, as Aaron was.
Of course, the High Priest was taken from the community of God’s people; but was not chosen by God’s people, but appointed by God for His people. But it was important to state that no man takes this honor to himself. The office of high priest was nothing to aspire to or campaign for. It was given by right of birth, it was chosen by God. It was an honor no man could take to himself.
The true priesthood, and the high priest, came from a specific line of descent. Every priest came from Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, whose name was changed to Israel. Every priest came from Levi, one of Israel’s thirteen sons. God set the tribe of Levi apart as a tribe committed to His service and as representatives of the whole nation (Exo_13:2; Num_3:40-41). Gershon, Kohath and Merari were Levi’s three sons; each of these family lines had their own duties. The family of Gershon had care of the tabernacle’s screen (veil), fence, and curtains (Num_3:25-26). The family of Kohath will this family had care of the tabernacle’s furnishings, such as the lampstand, altar of incense, and the ark of the covenant (Num_3:31-32). The family of Merari had care of the boards and pillars of the tabernacle and the fence (Num_3:36-37). These families were not properly priests, though they were Levites. The priesthood itself came through Aaron, the brother of Moses, of the family of Kohath. Aaron’s family and their descendants made up the priests and the high priest, those able to serve in the tabernacle itself and to offer sacrifice to God. The high priest was generally the eldest son of Aaron, except if they disqualified themselves like Nadab and Abihu (Lev_10:1-3) or according to the regulations of Leviticus 21. In this sense, the priesthood was not popularly elected, but chosen by God, not appointed by man.
There are some dreadful instances where men presumed to act as priests who were not priests, such as Korah (Numbers 16), Saul (1 Samuel 13) and Uzziah (2Ch_26:16).
The same with us as prospective priests: No man takes this step of consecration unless he is called--through the proclamation of the Gospel. "No man can come unto me except the Father which hath sent me draw him." (Joh_6:44)
The begetting of the elect class with their Head, Christ, and the honorable position to which they have been called, is "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (Joh_1:13)
Heb 5:5 So also Christ did not glorify Himself to be made a high priest, but He who said to Him, "You are My Son, today I have begotten You."
Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest: Jesus did not make Himself High Priest. Instead, just as much as Jesus was declared to be the Son (Psa_2:7), He was also declared to be a priest forever (in Psa_110:4).
It was easy to see why the priesthood of Jesus would be difficult for early Jewish Christians to grasp. He was not from the lineage of Aaron. Jesus claimed nor practiced no special ministry in the temple. He confronted the religious structure instead of joining it. In Jesus’ day, the priesthood also become a corrupt institution. The custom had become High Priest in those days through intrigue and politicking among the corrupt priesthood.
Today I have begotten You refers to Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. At that time He fully assumed His role as our great High Priest, having been perfected (Heb_5:9). Jesus’ resurrection demonstrated that He was not a priest like Aaron, who had to atone for his own sin first. The resurrection vindicated Jesus as the Father’s Holy One (Act_2:24; Act_2:27), who bore the wrath sinners deserve, without becoming a sinner Himself.
What thoughts come to your mind when you think of this verse?
Heb 5:6 As He says also in another place, "You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek."
Psalms 110:4 KJV The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
Melchizedek was without beginning of days or end of years in respect to his office; no record was made of when his priesthood began, nor was any provision made for a successor. In these respects he typified Messiah. Christ is not a priest after the order of Aaron, but after the order of Melchizedek, who was a king, and a priest at the same time--not a sacrificing priest, but a reigning priest. Our Lord is the Head of this priesthood, and the gospel Church are his members, his under priesthood.
A priest forever is an important contrast. Jesus’ priesthood (like Melchizedek’s) is unending, but no High Priest descended from Aaron ever had a forever priesthood
Under this priesthood, men will gradually rise up out of sin and death during a period similar in time to the 930 years in which Adam experienced the dying process.
Do we understand and appreciate the invitation we have to be part of Jesus’ body?
We too will be part of this priesthood—how does that affect the way you think?
Heb 5:7 For Jesus, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong cryings and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared,
Our minds instinctively go back to the Master's experiences in Gethsemane--his prayers to God, His tears, His agony, and according to one account, His bloody sweat. The Apostle's thought, his suggestion, is that the Master who had Himself passed through such trying and bitter experiences, and who is now in Heavenly glory and power, will surely sympathize with and succor all of His true followers, even though He may allow them to have Gethsemane experiences and buffetings of the Adversary.
In the Master's case, after He had entered into a Covenant of Sacrifice, it was a matter of either life or death. His obedience to the Covenant of Sacrifice would bring Him the life immortal, Divine. But any failure would cost Him His all; for His all was staked in that Covenant of Sacrifice. Hence in the Garden of Gethsemane His strong crying and tears were not caused by timidity in respect to the impending crucifixion, or by anything that man might do unto Him. They were not caused by doubt respecting the Divine power or the Divine faithfulness. The Master's fear was of death--lest He should have failed to comply fully with all of the Divine requirements, and should thus lose all in death, and not be accounted worthy of a resurrection.
The Apostle says, "He was heard in respect to the thing which He feared." He was delivered from the fear of death. From that moment onward the Master was the calmest of the calm, in all the trials and stress of that night and the following day. We cannot doubt that the Father assured Him that all was well--that thus far He had proven Himself faithful.
The word for supplications is hiketeria. This ancient Greek word essentially means “an olive branch wrapped in wool,” because that is/was someone in Greek culture would hold and wave to express their desperate prayer and desire. Significantly, this supplication of Jesus took place in a garden of olives - and he supplied the “wool,” being the Lamb of God!
The prayers and supplications that Christ offered up were joined with strong cries and tears, herein setting us an example not only to pray, but to be fervent and importunate in prayer. How many dry prayers, how few wet ones, do we offer up to God!
Heb 5:8 though being a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
He learned obedience by the things which He suffered: How could Jesus (if he is God) learn anything? Then again, who was Jesus obedient to?
The sufferings of Jesus, the Apostle points out, came not to Him because He was a sinner, but because He was a Son and because as a Son the Heavenly Father would prove, test, His loyalty unto death, even the death of the cross. Only by such a test of loyalty could He be deemed worthy of the high exaltation designed for Him and promised--glory, honor and immortality, Divine nature. The things which He suffered, the things which He endured, not only were to constitute a sacrifice for human sin and to make possible human restitution through the Messianic Kingdom, but those same trials, difficulties and experiences were necessary to the Master Himself. As the Apostle proceeds to say, He was made perfect through sufferings.
Jesus was not imperfect at any time in the sense of being sinful. He was perfect, undefiled, in His glorious condition as the Logos, before He left the glory which He had with the Father and was made flesh. When born of Mary, the assurance given us is that He was still "holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners." His sufferings, therefore, did not make Him perfect in the sense of making Him sinless. The perfecting was of another kind.
Our Lord had entered into a Covenant of Sacrifice-- to prove Himself loyal to the Father's will, even unto death. He had the promise of perfection on the highest plane--the promise of the Divine nature--as a reward, if He would fulfil His Covenant of Sacrifice faithfully, loyally. The beginning of that new nature was granted to Him at the time of His baptism, when He was begotten of the Holy Spirit. But the new nature begotten there needed development, or perfecting; and it was for this purpose that the trials, difficulties and buffetings were permitted to come to Him. He was made perfect as a New Creature of the Divine order, or nature, by the things which He suffered.
Jesus did not pass from disobedience to obedience. He learned obedience by actually obeying. Jesus did not learn how to obey; He learned what is involved in obedience.
He learned obedience by things which He suffered: Suffering was used to teach Jesus. If suffering was fit to teach the Son of God, we must never despise it as a tool of instruction in our lives.
The Bible never teaches that strong faith will keep a Christian from all suffering. Christians are appointed to affliction (1Th_3:3). It is through many tribulations we enter the kingdom of God (Act_14:22), and our current suffering is the prelude to glorification (Rom_8:17).
What lessons are you learning by the things that you are suffering?
Heb 5:9 And being perfected, He became the Author of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him,
Jesus’ experience of suffering makes Him perfectly suited to be the author (the source, the cause) of our salvation. Some don’t want Jesus to be the author of their salvation. They want to write their own book of salvation. God won’t read it! Only Jesus can author your eternal salvation.
Notice that this salvation is extended to all who obey Him. In this sense, all who obey Him is used synonymously for believing on Him - which simply assumes that believers will obey!
The first salvation which this antitypical Priest after the Order of Melchizedek effects is the salvation of His Church, a Little Flock, a Royal Priesthood, a Holy Nation. These are to be saved to the same glorious station which He Himself has attained. Nor can they reach that station by any other road than that which He traveled. Hence His invitation to them is that they take up their cross and follow Him; that they walk in His footsteps through evil report, through good report, faithful unto death, as He was.
Not that it is possible for any of His followers to overcome in the same absolute sense that He did; for He was perfect in the flesh, and His followers are all imperfect through the fall. What is required of His followers is that they demonstrate the same heart loyalty that He manifested--the same willingness to do the Father's will and to sacrifice every other interest. For these the great High Priest appropriates the merit of His sacrifice, imputing it to His followers as a covering for all their unintentional blemishes and shortcomings. Thus they are assured that they may stand complete in Him in the Father's sight, and by and by in the glorious First Resurrection be made actually perfect by that glorious consummation --"changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye"; for "flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom."
But in order to attain this position, all of the followers of Jesus must obey Him, must follow His directions. Then He will succor them and guide them to the Heavenly Kingdom. "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."
Additionally, He will be the Author of salvation to as many of mankind as will obey Him when He takes over the Kingdom, the dominion of the world, during the thousand years of His Messianic Reign. All who then refuse to obey Him will be destroyed in the Second Death; but all the willing and obedient will ultimately be perfected as human beings, earthly beings--restored to the perfection in which God created Father Adam, plus valuable experience in connection with sin and recovery from it.
Are you obeying Jesus?
Heb 5:10 being called by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek;
called] Lit, “saluted” or “addressed by God as.” This is the only place in the N.T. where the verb occurs.
"Declared by God." (Diaglott)
Called of God - Addressed by him, or greeted by him. The word used here does not mean that he was “appointed” by God, or “called” to the office, in the sense in which we often use the word, but simply that he was “addressed” as such, to wit, in Psa_110:1-7.
A PRIEST, in the only true sense, is a mediator between God and fallen creatures, the object of such mediation being to restore and establish harmony on a legal basis. The office of the priest or mediator between God and man is to restore to perfection and consequent harmony with God a race of human beings condemned to death or already dead or dying. Hence the priest of necessity must be "mighty to save." (Psa. 89:19)
What do you think about this verse? Or what we have studied so far?
Heb 5:11 of whom we have much to say, and hard to be explained since you are dull of hearing.
Since you have become dull of hearing: This explains why the writer doesn’t go into the topic of Melchizedek right away. He wants to address some critical basics before going on to more intricate topics, but their spiritual condition makes it hard to explain.
He fears the discussion of Aaron and Melchizedek and Jesus will sound too academic and theoretical to his readers. At the same time, he recognizes this says more about his dull hearers than the message.
Being dull of hearing is not a problem with the ears, but a problem with the heart - you just aren’t really interested in what God has to say to you. Not wanting to hear the Word of God points to a genuine spiritual problem! Such a condition is a dangerous one, especially in this evil day when the sophistries and snares of the Adversary are more subtle.
These Christians who felt like giving up with Jesus were also dull of hearing. The dullness usually comes first, then the desire to give up. Watch out when the Word of God starts seeming dull to you! They have become dull of hearing (in the KJV). Become is an important word. It indicates that they didn’t start out that dull of hearing, but became that way.
Is God’s Word living and powerful to you or is it boring?
Are you studying the Bible on your own or just getting fed at church one day a week or even two?
If you are not studying the Bible on your own—chances are you might be dull of hearing—what do you think?
Can we be “dull of hearing” when someone is trying to share a Biblical thought that might be from a different perspective than ours and we don’t want to listen?
Heb 5:12 For indeed because of the time, you ought to be teachers, you have need that one teach you again what are the first principles of the oracles of God. And you have become in need of milk, and not of solid food.
Hebrews 5:12 Williams For although you ought to be teachers of others because you have been Christians so long, you actually need someone to teach you over and over again the very elements of the truths that God has given us, and you have gotten into such a state that you are in constant need of milk instead of solid food.
Their failure to mature is exposed.
By this time: According to the time they had been followers of Jesus, they should have been much more mature than they were. It wasn’t that these were unique people who would hold a unique role of teaching. Instead, they ought to be teachers in the sense that all Christians should be teachers. There is an important sense in which every Christian must be a teacher, because we can all help disciple others. We really only master something after we have effectively taught it to someone else. Teaching is the final step of learning.
You need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God: This isn’t to their credit. It isn’t that the first principles are “beneath” the mature Christian. Rather, the sense is that one should be able to teach one’s self, and remind one’s self of these first principles of the oracles of God.
(Heb. 5:12-14) A contrast between milk and solid food.
And you have come to need milk: Milk corresponds to the first principles of Heb_6:12. Solid food is the “meatier” material such as understanding the connection between Jesus and Melchizedek. It isn’t that milk is bad; but these Christians should have added solid food to their diet. Peter reminds us all as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby (1Pet. 2:2).
All the members of the new creation, should become skillful in their Father's Word to the extent that they will be "ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh a reason for the hope that is in them. (1Pet. 3:15)
How long have you been in Christ?
Are you still needing “milk” or can you handle some “meat”?
Heb 5:13 For everyone partaking of milk is unskillful in the Word of Righteousness, for he is an infant.
In the original language, the sense of for he is a babe is for he has become a babe. There is nothing more delightful than a true babe in Jesus. But there is nothing more irritating and depressing than someone who should be mature but who has become a babe!
a. Have you become a babe? Perhaps your Christian life is unstable. Babies are handed from one person to another; babes are tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine (Eph_4:14-16).
b. Have you become a babe? Perhaps you are divisive in your Christian life. Babies each have their own crib that they stick to; babes have their particular denomination or church that they think of as “my church.”
c. Have you become a babe? Perhaps you are star-struck by Christian celebrities of one kind or another. Babies are focused on one particular person (mommy); babes glory in men (I am of Paul, I am of Apollos).
d. Have you become a babe? Perhaps you are spiritually asleep. Babies need a lot of sleep; babes spend much time spiritually asleep.
e. Have you become a babe? Perhaps you are fussy and cranky with others. Babies can be cranky; babes will fuss over any little thing.
Is unskilled in the word of righteousness: Those who have become babes reveal themselves because they are unskilled in the word of righteousness. We don’t expect brand new Christians to be skilled in the word of righteousness, but those who have been Christians for a time should be.
Heb 5:14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, even those who because of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil: Our senses are exercised (trained by practice and habit) to discern both good and evil (doctrinally, not morally). How are our senses exercised? Plainly, by reason of use. When we decide to use discernment, we mature.
a. These Christians demonstrated immaturity by both their lack of discernment between good and evil and in their contemplation of giving up with Jesus. The mature Christian is marked by their discernment and by their unshakable commitment to Jesus Christ.
b. The ability to discern is a critical measure of spiritual maturity. Babies will put anything in their mouths! Babes are weak in discernment, and will accept any kind of spiritual food.
Have their senses exercised: It can be said that all five human senses have their spiritual counterparts.
a. We have a spiritual sense of taste: If indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious (1Pe_2:3). Taste and see that the LORD is good! (Psa_34:8)
b. We have a spiritual sense of hearing: Hear and your soul shall live (Isa_55:3). He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches (Rev_2:7).
c. We have a spiritual sense of sight: Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law (Psa_119:18). The eyes of your understanding (heart) being enlightened (Eph_1:18).
d. We have a spiritual sense of smell: He shall be of quick scent in the fear of the LORD (Isa_11:3, RV margin). I am full, having received from . . . you, a sweet-smelling aroma (Php_4:18).
e. We have a spiritual sense of touch or feeling: Because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the LORD (2Ki_22:19). The hardening of their heart; who being past feeling, have given themselves over to licentiousness (Eph_4:18-19).
The defect lies deeper than intellectual error. The remedy is not mere teaching, but spiritual growth.
Do you have the ability to discern between good and evil?
Quotes taken from John Guzik, Charles Russell, Albert Barnes, E.W. Bullinger, John Gill, Adam Clarke, Cambridge Bible, Expositor’s Bible and more.