Category Archives: HEBREWS 5

Comparisons and contrasts between Aaron and Christ as high priests.

HEBREWS 5

SUMMARY OF THE CHAPTER
The writer has told us in 4:14 that we have not a high priest after a certain sort.  Now he tells who was a high priest after that sort, even Aaron.  The shortcomings of Aaron are spoken of by way of contrast to Christ.  Then Aaron’s certain similarity to Christ in the way he was given the priesthood is set out.  Thirdly, the features that marked Christ when He was here in dependent manhood, which prepared Him for His present ministry.  Having introduced the Melchizedec order of priesthood for the first time in the epistle, the writer rebukes the Hebrews for not being in a mature state, and therefore unable to readily take in the truths they were about to be told.

STRUCTURE OF THE CHAPTER

(a) Verses 1-3 The infirmity of Aaron Christ was not self-condemned.
(b) Verses 4-6 The induction into the priesthood. Christ was not self-appointed.
(c) Verses 7-9 The intensity of Christ’s life-sufferings. Christ was not self-willed.
(d) Verses 10-14 The immaturity of the Hebrews. Christ was not appreciated.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS CHAPTER 5, VERSES 1 TO 3

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:

5:2  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.

5:3  And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.

(a)    Verses 1-3    The infirmity of Aaron.  Christ was not self-condemned.

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:

For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God- we are now given reasons why our high priest is not like other high priests, as 4: 15 with its negative statement had made clear He was not.  The first difference is that Aaron was taken from among men, whereas our high priest, although true man, is one of the persons of the Godhead. 
That he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins- Aaron was appointed to minister to God in the priest’s office, in connection with “everything of the altar, and within the veil”, Numbers 18:7.  Christ on the other hand, began His ministry after the question of sins had been finally dealt with. 

5:2  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.

Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way- The word compassion is “metriopatheo”- “to treat with mildness and moderation, and to bear gently with”.  This is in contrast to the “sumpatheo” of 4:15 that Christ is marked by.  Aaron’s dealings with the Israelites was measured and restricted, for the reason now given.  For that he himself also is compassed with infirmity- Aaron ministered from a position of weakness, and needed to moderate his responses to the people because of his own shortcomings.  They could turn round to him and point to what he did at the foot of Sinai, Exodus 32:1-8, when he made the molten calf, (unfaithfulness); or when his sons failed at their consecration and he had to hold his peace, Leviticus 10:3, (helplessness); or when he and Miriam criticised Moses, Numbers 12:1, (rebellion); or when he and Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it, (disobedience and rash speaking), Numbers 20:10-12.  It is noticeable that these four examples of failure all involved speech or non-speech.  So Aaron announces at Sinai “these be thy gods O Israel, which brought you out of the land of Egypt”.  He had nothing to say when his sons died, but held his peace; he spoke against Moses, and was with Moses when the latter spake inadvisedly with his lips in the matter of water from the rock, Psalm 106:33.  These are examples of Aaron being ignorant and out of the way, showing he was flawed in character, and could not sympathise with the people from a position of moral superiority, as Christ can.  Those who were out of the way, (and therefore in a carnal state of mind), could rebuff him if he tried to remonstrate with them by saying that he himself had made mistakes.  
                                                                                                                                            5:3  And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.

And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins- this shows that infirmities lead to sin on the part of those who are ignorant of God’s ways, and wander away from them.  Aaron shares in this, and hence has to offer for his sins as well as the sins of others.  In fact, the offering for a priest was greater than for one of the people, for his responsibility was greater. 
It is true that Paul gloried in his infirmities, 2 Corinthians 12:5, but only in the sense that he used the weakness they represented as a means of curbing his pride.  We have already noted in connection with 4:15 that our high priest is able to sympathise with us in our infirmities, without having the infirmities Himself.  He feels what we feel, because the pressure that comes to us through infirmities He knew because of His sympathy with the men and women of His day.  Chapter 7:27,28 makes very clear that our high priest did not have to offer for His own sins.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS CHAPTER 5, VERSES 4 TO 6

5:4  And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

5:5  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.

5:6  As He saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

(b)    Verses 4-6    The induction into the priesthood.  Christ was not self-appointed.

5:4  And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron- no man is able to step forward and claim the priesthood as of right.  We remember the judgement which fell upon Uzziah for usurping the position of priest, and in effect, appointing himself, 2 Chronicles 27:16-23.  To be high priest was a great honour for Aaron, but he could not take it to himself on His own initiative.

5:5  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.

So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest- now the word glory can be used, for Christ receives the priesthood in the full glory of His own person.  It is not a case, as it was with Aaron, of an unworthy man being put into a worthy office, and therefore being honoured beyond his deserts, for Christ is worthy of all honour.  Rather, it is an office by which Christ glorifies His Father.  In so doing, He fulfils perfectly the desire of God that there be a priest who would minister unto Him in the priest’s office.  That said, He did not assert Himself so as to be appointed priest, but rather waited the Father’s time.  He was utterly deserving of glory, but nonetheless in humility waited.  Instead of glorifying Himself, He glorified the one who appointed Him, as the next words show. 
But He that said unto Him, Thou art My Son, to day have I begotten Thee- a quotation from Psalm 2:7.  The Father’s time has come, and a particular day dawns during which He will elevate His Son to priesthood.  There is no question of becoming a Son here, because as we have seen from chapter one, Christ’s sonship means He is God, and as such He cannot change.  It is a matter of being instated in a sphere of responsibility as Firstborn Son.  Hebrews 3:6 describes Christ as Son over God’s house, and part of His duty is to act as priest. 
Psalm 2 can be thought of as initially referring to David or Solomon in a limited sense, but only as prefiguring Christ the true Messiah.  The nation of Israel was declared to be the firstborn son of God in Exodus 4:22,23; Hosea 11:1.  So the king, representing as he did the nation, was given the same title.  Hence the promise to Israel’s king in Psalm 89:27, “I will make Him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth”. 
Psalm 2:7 is quoted three times in the New Testament.  In Acts 13:33 the idea is of Him being placed in the position of responsibility as prophet, at His baptism.  In Hebrews 1:5 He is to be king over the earth in the future.  Here, His present ministry in heaven as high priest is in view.

 5:6  As He saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

As He saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec- this is a quotation from Psalm 110.  Because He is risen and ascended, (and Peter interprets Psalm 110 as being about Christ’s ascension, not David’s, in Acts 2:34,35), He is clear of everything and anyone who could possibly prevent Him successfully carrying out His office.  He is therefore priest for ever, and will maintain His people through the whole of eternity.  Because He is priest after Melchizedec’s order, He does not need to sacrifice, for His ministry begins after Calvary is accomplished, and His sacrifice there was once-for-all in character.  We do not read of Melchizedec offering sacrifice, but he did succour and save Abraham when he was about to be tempted by the king of Sodom.  Like Christ, he was able to succour them that are tempted.
Note the “also”, linking Psalm 2 and Psalm 110 together as referring to the same event, namely, Christ’s ascension.  This shows that the linking of “this day have I begotten Thee” to the birth of Christ is incorrect.  After all, we are not begotten on our birthday.  There is clearly a vital link between Christ as Firstborn Son, charged with the responsibility of administering over God’s house, and His present position at the right hand of God which Psalm 110 opens with.  In Psalm 2:7 where the words are originally found, the “I” is emphatic.  In other words, ‘Your father begat you, and as a result you are in the line of succession to the throne, but this begetting is not natural or physical, but Divine, the elevation to a position of responsibility to administer for God’.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS CHAPTER 5, VERSES 7 TO 9

5:7  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;

5:8  Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered;

5:9  And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him;

(c)    Verses 7-9    The intensity of Christ’s life-sufferings.  Christ was not self-willed.

5:7  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;

Who in the days of His flesh- this reversion back to the days of His flesh shows that His priesthood began after He had left this scene.  The Jesus who is in heaven for us is the Jesus who was here in the flesh.  Aaron wore a garment of fine linen, that which had grown up in the earth.  Christ needed no special robe to make Him acceptable, but it is as if every day of His life in the flesh was another thread in Christ’s priestly robe.  There was no more fine and refined person than the Lord Jesus, and He bears that character in heaven.  The writer is now going to show that Christ’s qualifications to minister as our high priest are far superior to Aaron’s.  His flesh is a wider thought than His body.  The life of man is the life of flesh, and although sinless, Christ’s manhood was the same as ours, for He had taken part of the same flesh and blood as us, 2:14.  We are about to be shown the character of the earthly life of Christ, as opposed to the defects in the life of Aaron as high priest. 
When He had offered up prayers- the psalmist related his prayers to the incense and the sacrifices that were offered to God in the temple, Psalm 141:2.  The writer sees this as being true of Christ, that His prayers arose to God with a fragrance and acceptance that was distinctive.  We do not read of Him praying in the temple courts, but wherever He lifted up His heart to God in prayer became a holy place.  Compare Matthew 12:6, where a cornfield becomes a temple if He is there. 
And supplications- these are deeply felt needs, expressed by one who comes to another for help.  When down here in the flesh, Christ was entirely cast upon God for everything. 
With strong crying- the word used here is one that imitates the cry of the raven.  The cry of a raven is instinctive, and cannot really be imitated by another bird, so cannot be forced or faked.  This therefore is the genuine cry of one who is in deep need. 
And tears- when asked who the Jews thought He was, one of the names the disciples mentioned was Jeremiah, who was noted for his weeping.  Although He had a special joy as He pleased His Father, John 15:11, yet nonetheless it is true that He was the Man of Sorrows, meaning He was especially marked out as a sorrowing one, so much so that He personifies sorrow, for it finds its fullest expression in Him. 
Unto Him that was able to save Him from death- so He had taken such a place of dependence and relative weakness, that He had to ask to be saved, not of course from sin, but from death itself.  But even in this He thought of His people, for He desired to issue forth in resurrection so that He might be their priest in heaven.  See Isaiah 49:8, where the day of salvation is the day of His resurrection. 
And was heard in that He feared- not the fear of terror, but godly, reverential fear as expressed by one who is pious.  This fear is the mingling of love and filial fear which ideally expresses piety towards God.  His prayer to be saved from death was answered because of His personal piety.  As the Sin-bearer on the cross, His prayer seemed not to be heard, Psalm 22:2, but that does not mean it would not be answered, and answered it was, for He emerged in resurrection, Psalm 22:21. The most trying experience for Christ was to go into death, for He is the author of life, and death is alien and an enemy.  If He successfully passed through this experience with His piety intact, than we are sure no lesser trial could have spoiled Him.

5:8  Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered;

Though He were a Son- as the Son of God He shared every attribute of God, including the right to command.  Yet He was being fitted for priesthood by His life-experiences down here, and hence has to learn things as a man that He could not learn as the Son of God in heaven.  And learn these things He did, even though He was still the Son of God when upon earth.  In order to have the moral right as a man to command people to obey, He must show He was obedient to His Father when here.  
Yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered- He did not have to be disciplined so as to obey, but He did have to learn what it was to obey.  He now knows what it is to obey, and has responded in obedience to His Father’s every command, and thus has the moral right to expect obedience from His people. He obeyed even though that meant suffering, so we cannot make the excuse that the suffering we pass through exempts us from obedience.  As in all things, He has led the way as our Captain on the path of salvation and glory, 2:10.
He learned what it was to suffer, and to accept those sufferings as from His Father, and to obey Him despite the trials that came His way.  His life-sufferings did not make Him want to rebel, but to obey further.  In all these experiences He displayed the utmost piety, or godly fear. There was no questioning of the ways of God; no resentment; no doubting of God’s goodness. And because of this His prayer was heard, and He issued forth in resurrection to begin a priestly ministry on behalf of His people when they are tried in similar ways.  This is the most difficult way to learn what it is to obey.  To obey the command to not eat of the tree of knowledge involved no suffering for Adam, for there was a plentiful supply of fruit elsewhere in the garden.  To obey the command to speak to the rock involved no suffering for Aaron, but he disobeyed.  Christ however, in the most extreme pressure that suffering brings upon a man, nevertheless obeyed perfectly and willingly.  He did not try to excuse Himself from suffering and obeying on the basis that He was God’s Son.

5:9  And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him;

And being made perfect- We have already seen how that Aaron was not morally superior to the people- Christ is so different.  To be made perfect means here to be perfectly qualified to undertake a task successfully.  We have already learnt that He was made perfect though sufferings, 2:10. 
He became the author of eternal salvation- So it is that the salvation we shall know in eternity, we may know now, in time.  Just as He experienced salvation from the ultimate enemy, and emerged to never die or suffer again, so we shall know a like experience at the resurrection of the saints.  But in the here and now we may know the salvation from lesser troubles that His ministry as priest secures for us.  Unto all them that obey Him- having established the moral right to expect others to obey, and having been given the task of administering as God’s Son over the house of God, He has every right to expect obedience.  We learned in chapters three and four that faith takes the form of obedience, and this becomes a definition of what a Christian is; all who claim to be believers, then, must demonstrate the genuineness of their claim by obeying God’s Son.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS CHAPTER 5, VERSES 10 TO 14

5:10  Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

5:11  Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.

5:12  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.

5:13  For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

5:14  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. 

 (d)  The immaturity of the believers.  Christ was not appreciated.

5:10  Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec- the word for “called ” used here means “to salute, or address”.  As He ascended to God’s presence in heaven, God hailed Him as High Priest, showing that He was worthy of that high office.  This way of putting things shows that He becomes high priest in virtue of past piety shown- He is not high priest on probation, but God can confidently establish Him in the position, knowing beforehand that He will be faithful.  We do not read of other priests associated with Melchizedec, so he is never called high priest.  The Epistle to the Hebrews never calls believers priests, although the activities they are encouraged to engage in are certainly priestly in character.  The purpose of the epistle is to concentrate on the glories of Christ.  Peter’s first epistle is the one to turn to for information about Christian priesthood.
We never read of Melchizedec offering sacrifices, or ministering at an altar, for he is a foreshadowing of the one who entered into His priestly ministry with the work of sacrifice over.  What Melchizedec did do was (i) bless God, (ii) bless Abraham, (iii) receive tithes on God’s behalf, and (iv) offer Abraham succour and encouragement before the king of Sodom came to him with his tempting offer, see Genesis 14:17-20.
The order of Melchizedec has not to do with a line or succession of priests, but with the way the priesthood was arranged or ordered.  It is these features of Melchizedec’s priesthood that make him a fit example of Christ’s ministry.  Note that the word high can legitimately be added to the word priest now, for not only is the Lord Jesus ascended up on high, and high above all others in moral superiority, but He now has others associated with Him, and He is high over them as well.
Like Melchizedek, who met Abraham when he was flushed with success, and before the king of Sodom came with his temptations, Christ gives to those who ask Him that needed strength to overcome temptations.  Melchizedek succoured Abraham with bread and wine, ordinary foodstuffs but with deep significance.  The king of Sodom would have given Abraham a life of luxury, but he learnt to be content with ordinary fare.  Christ, too, brings forth the bread and wine.  The “bread” of His life lived in constant fellowship with the Father, and with constant victory over temptation.  The “wine” of His death, whereby He overcame the most fierce attack of the enemy and secured the salvation of His people.

5:11  Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.

Of whom we have many things to say- which things he does say in chapter seven. 
And hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing- the difficulty lay not in the writer’s ability as a teacher, but rather in the dullness of understanding of the hearers.  This may confirm the idea that the words of this epistle were first given orally.  If they are the words of Apollos, then it is said of him that he was “an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures”, and “mightily convinced the Jews”, Acts 18:24,28.  The apostle Paul complained that he was hindered in his ministry by the immaturity of his readers, and he had to restrict what he said to them, 1 Corinthians 3:1-3.

5:12  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.

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers- it is the duty of those who preach and teach to do so with a view to preparing the next generation to pass on what they have learned.  The apostle Paul’s word to Timothy was, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also”, 2 Timothy 2:2.
Ye have need that one teach you again- they had forgotten what they had learned, and needed to be established in first things again. 
Which be the first principles of the oracles of God- the oracles of God are the teachings from God found in the Old Testament.  The phrase is literally “the elements of the beginning of the oracles of God”.  So it is not even the beginning of the oracles that is in view, but the elements of that beginning.  The word elements was used of the abc, the rudimentary basis of all speech.  The oracles of God continue into the New Testament, the beginning of them was in the Old Testament, and it is the basic, foundational truths of God’s revelation that is in view here.  If the significance of Old Testament things had been more evident to them, perhaps there would not have been those amongst them who were inclined to return to Old Testament rituals.

5:13  For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe- The same sort of figure of speech the apostle Paul used in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 just referred to.  The apostle Peter used this figure of speech in a different sense, for he encourages believers to earnestly desire the milk of the word as new-born babes earnestly desire milk, 1 Peter 2:2.  He is not advocating that we stay immature, but that we remain as those who strongly desire to learn from God.  Because the subject under discussion is Melchisidec, and he was king of righteousness, 7:2, the subject of righteousness will surely come up; but sadly the readers and hearers were immature in this.

5:14  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.

But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age- in contrast to being babes, the writer now speaks of those who have grown up.  For them, strong meat is an appropriate diet.                                     Even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil- he now defines those who are of full age; it is those who by exercise of conscience in the things of righteousness have matured, and are able to discern between good and evil.  For righteousness is the standard by which good and evil is known.  We see how important a knowledge of the things of God is, for it is needful so that we are able to lead moral lives.  It is important that the ministry of the word of God should address matters that are relevant to this great aim of living lives that please God.  Notice it is “by reason of use” that our senses are exercised; we must constantly exercise our spiritual senses, so that we do not get out of practice in the things of righteousness.  “Bodily exercise profiteth (to a) little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come”, 1 Timothy 4:7,8.
The word “discern” has to do with distinguishing.  The words for good “kalon” and “evil”, (kakon), are very similar- great care is needed to distinguish them.