The Author of Eternal Salvation, Heb 5

In Hebrews Chapter 5, Paul continues his discussion about Jesus Christ the high priest which he started in Heb 4:14-15.  See Heb 2:17 and 3:1 for earlier references to him as the high priest.  Paul writes about the high priesthood of Jesus all the way through Heb 10.  In this current chapter, Paul introduces the contrast between Jesus as a high priest from Melchisedec versus the high priests in the Levitical line.  The main difference is that Jesus is the author of eternal salvation.

The High Priests’ Offering for Sins

v.1 every high priest taken from among men.  These priests were descendants of Aaron, who was the first high priest, Ex 28:1.  They are ordained for men in things pertaining to God, Heb 2:17; Ex 29:44; Ex 30:10; etc.  They offer gifts and sacrifices for sins, Leviticus 1-7, for example.

v.2 They can have compassion on the ignorant, Leviticus 4, and on them that are out of the way, Lev 5:14-6:7.  The reason is that he also is compassed with infirmity; the priests weren’t perfect men.  They were sinners, too, Lev 10:1-2.

v.3 for this reason the priest ought to offer for himself as he offers for the people, Lev 9, for example.  Aaron is a perfect example; he sinned and we know it, Ex 32.

The High Priests’ Call

v.4 no man taketh this honour unto himself. God is the one who chose them to minister to him.  Of course, some tried to take this honor to themselves but they met with disastrous results, Num 16; 1 Sam 13:9-14; 1 Ki 12:31, 13:33-34; etc.  The only legitimate priests were the ones called of God.  God chose the tribe of Levi and within this tribe the sons of Aaron, Num 3:10.

Jesus Christ’s Call

v.5 Jesus Christ didn’t take the honour of the priesthood upon himself.  Christ glorified not himself to be a high priest.  He humbled himself as a man and became a servant, Phil 2:6-7.  But he that said unto him, Thou at my Son, Ps 2:7, he put the honour of high priest upon Jesus.  God clearly stated that Jesus Christ would be a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec, Ps 110:4.  So God chose Jesus just like he chose Aaron and his sons.

Jesus Christ’s Offering for Sins

v.7 In the days of his flesh is a reference to the earthly ministry of Jesus.  During his earthly ministry, Jesus offered himself as the sacrifice for all sin.  We’ll study more about this in the next few chapters.  Here, Paul is simply summarizing how Jesus became the author of eternal salvation, v.9.

v.7 He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears, which he did in Gethsemane, Matt 26:39, 42.  He prayed unto him that was able to save him from death.  Jesus died on the cross, but he was saved from death.  Death couldn’t hold him.  Shortly after his resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven, Acts 1:9-11.  All the other high priests succumbed to death.  Whatever they did to sacrifice for sins was only temporary.  Jesus was the victor over death and will eventually destroy death, Rev 21:4, 1 Cor 15:26.

v.7 Jesus was heard in that he feared. Jesus had, among other things, the spirit of the fear of the Lord, Is 11:1-5.  Thus, when he prayed, Lk 22:42, God heard him.  Thus, Jesus did the will of God despite requesting that the cup would pass from him.  

v.8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he (he gained knowledge of something before unknown) obedience by the things which he suffered.  Phil 2:8 says, “he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”.  He had to go through death in order to learn this.

v.9 Being made perfect, he was made “perfect through sufferings”, Heb 2:10.  Being made perfect through suffering is a principle even for us, 1 Pet 5:10.  He became the author of eternal salvation, Heb 12:2.  No high priest before Jesus was ever able to offer eternal salvation.  The best they could offer was atonement from year to year, Lev 16:29-34.  The eternal salvation Jesus offers is granted unto all them that obey him.  He obeyed his Father and they will have to obey him, Rev 14:12.

v.10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.  He’s restating what he said in v.6.

The Hebrews’ Lack of Understanding 

v.11 Paul has many things to say about Jesus the high priest, but they are hard to be uttered because the Hebrews to whom he is writing are dull of hearing.  This is the main problem they have had ever since Is 6:9-10.  Jesus had trouble with them in his ministry, Matt 13:13-16, and so did Paul throughout his ministry, Acts 28:25-27.

v.12-13 ye ought to be teachers, because the oracles of God were committed unto them, Rom 3:1-2.  Instead, Paul wrote, “ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God”.  With them, he has to teach as if they were babies.  They need milk like a nursing baby, 1 Cor 3:1-2.  They can’t handle meat.  They are unskillful in the word of righteousness.  So, he’s going to have to “spoon feed them” the doctrines of Christ that they might understand.

v.14 strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age.  Strong meat is for adults.    Strong meat is for those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.  It’s very hard to teach someone with strong meat if they haven’t been reading their Bible and studying.  They don’t even know the Bible stories and the first principles. So, it would be unreasonable to expect them to understand something like “rightly dividing the word of truth”, 2 Tim 2:15.  

Paul’s challenge in the next few chapters will be to get the point across that Jesus is the Hebrew’s Christ and the author and finisher of their faith, Heb 12:2.

To study the prior lesson, see Labor To Enter The Rest. To study the next lesson, see Hope Unto The End.