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.
1. What was the purpose of the priest and how does that differ from a prophet?
This verse gives us the definition of a priest. He must be taken from among men, which means he must be a man. He must be a representative, you see. He represents man, but he represents man to God. He is ordained for man in things pertaining to God. Because he goes before God, he must be acceptable to God. That is the suggestion in “is ordained for men in things … to God.” In verse 4 we are told specifically that no man takes this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. He must be ordained of God. Therefore a priest is: (1) taken from among men; (2) ordained for men (on behalf of men); and (3) goes to God for men.
We can now draw a distinction between a priest and a prophet. A priest goes from man to God; he represents man before God. A prophet comes from God to man with a message from God. Therefore the Old Testament priest did not tell men what God had to say—that was the ministry of the prophet. The priest’s ministry was to represent man before God. “That he may offer both gifts and sacrifices.” Notice that the priest may offer both gifts and sacrifices. JVM
To qualify for the high priesthood in Israel one had to be a man. He also had to stand between God and people as their representative before Him. His services included presenting gifts (offerings) of worship and sacrifices for sin.
“Although it would be natural to distinguish between dora, ‘gifts’ (i.e., peace and cereal offerings), and thysiai, ‘sacrifices’ (i.e., the sin and trespass offerings), in later statements in the OT all sacrifices pertain to the procuring of atonement and the removal of sin (cf. Ezek 45:15-17). The bloody offerings for the Day of Atonement are in the foreground of the discussion of the sacrificial ministry of the Levitical high priest here and elsewhere in Hebrews. CN
2 He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness. 3 Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins.
2. Why is it vital for the priest to have compassion for and identity with the weaknesses of those he represents before God.
have compassion on This verb occurs only here in the NT. It carries the idea of maintaining a controlled but gentle attitude in the treatment of those who are spiritually ignorant and wayward. Impatience, loathing, and indignation have no part in priestly ministry. Such moderation and gentleness comes from realizing one’s own human frailty. The priest would be reminded of his own sinful humanity every time he offered sacrifices for his own sins (v. 3). MSBN
The word μετριοπαθειν, here used, signifies to feel compassion in proportion to the misery of others. The apostle’s words imply that a high-priest, who is not touched with a feeling of the weaknesses and miseries of others, is unfit to officiate for them, because he will be apt to neglect them in his ministrations, or be thought by the people in danger of so doing. On the ignorant — Who, not being properly instructed in divine things, are involved in error with respect to them; and on them that are out of the way — Of truth and duty, of wisdom, holiness, and happiness; or who, through their ignorance or any other cause, fall into sin: so that all sins and sinners are here comprehended. For that he himself is compassed with infirmity — So that under a consciousness thereof, he will officiate for them with the greater kindness and assiduity, knowing that he needs the compassion which he shows to others. And by reason hereof — Because he himself is a sinner; he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, (see the margin,) to offer for sins — That, being pardoned himself, and in a state of reconciliation and peace with God, he may offer for others with more acceptance. We are not to infer from this that Christ had any sins of his own to offer for, or that he offered any sacrifice for himself, it being repeatedly affirmed by the apostles that he was absolutely free from all sin. BC
4 And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was. 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.”
3. How did one become a High Priest?
Aaron, the first high priest, was called of God to this office. He did not seek it nor did he merit it. He was appointed by God. The fate of those who sought to serve in this office apart from God’s appointing is sufficiently illustrated by Korah WBC
Numbers 16:31-33 (NKJV)
31 Now it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. 33 So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly.
Finally, a man could attain the high priesthood only by divine appointment.
“The essential nature of a high priest is that he should be chosen by God to act for his fellows in offering sacrifices related to the removal of sin.”
Only those whom God chose served in this office. These people were primarily Aaron and his successors. This ceased to be true after Israel lost her sovereignty as a nation, beginning with the Babylonian captivity. Then the high priesthood became a political appointment. However the writer was speaking of Israel as a sovereign nation. Disaster befell those individuals who took it upon themselves to perform high priestly duties without divine authorization (Korah, Num. 16; Saul, 1 Sam. 13:8-14; Uzziah, 2 Chron. 26:16-21). The writer stressed the essential humility of the high priest who stood in his privileged position only by divine appointment. He was not stressing the dignity of his office or the grandeur of his call to his office. CN
And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just 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.
i. 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.
ii. 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).
iii. We can also not take the honor of being our own priest. It is great arrogance to think we can approach God on our own, without a priest; but it is great superstition to think we need any other priest other than Jesus Christ Himself. God has provided a mediator, a priest, and we must avail ourselves of the priest God has provided.
iv. “A sinner can undertake to manage nothing towards God immediately, or by himself, but with a mediating priest, who must know God’s mind and perform it . . . The common sense of mankind about it since the fall doth evidence it; no nation being without a religion, a temple, a place of worship, or a priest.” (Poole) GC
6 As He also says in another place: “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek”; 7 who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, 8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
4. What is the Order of Melchizedek?
Question: Genesis 14: 18-20 talks of “Melchizedek king of Salem – a priest for God most High”. In Hebrews Jesus is called our high priest after the “order of Melchizedek”. But where did Melchizedek come from (other than Salem) and where did he go?
He didn’t come from the priestly tribe of Levi as it did not exist at the time of Abraham.
For some the identity of Melchizedek is fodder for all kinds of speculation and mystery. Was Melchizedek a real flesh and blood historical person, an angelic messenger, a visit from the pre-incarnate Christ (Christophany) (1), or possibly something else. Some have theorized that he was in fact Shem, one of Noah’s 3 sons who lived until the time of Abram. Hebrew tradition tells us it was Shem, Noah’s Son that was still alive at the time of Abraham and would certainly make him be the oldest man alive qualifying him as a candidate for the order of Melchizedek.(2) Rev. Wayne Jackson argues the grammar of the various verses referring to Melchizedek preclude him being the pre-incarnate Christ (3).
The mystery of Melchizedek has been used by cults like the Mormons to justify their strange unbiblical form of priesthood. The Roman Catholics have used poor Melchizedek to justify their office of priest and as foundational to their view of the Eucharist. New age cults and weird groups interested in spiritual growth and enlightenment try to validate themselves by Melchizedek. We have people all over the internet claiming they are reincarnate Melchizedeks or operating within his priesthood.
I think it is important to stick to what the bible actually say about this man and leave the speculation to the people who sit up at night wearing tin foil hats waiting for the next message from extraterrestrial aliens.
Genesis 14:18-20 (KJV) And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
Psalm 110:4 (KJV) The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
Lets look at what some commentators say about Melchizedek
14:18 Melchizedek king of Salem. The lack of biographical and genealogical particulars for this ruler, whose name meant “righteous king” and who was a king-priest over ancient Jerusalem, allowed for later revelation to use him as a type of Christ (cf. Ps 110:4; Heb 7:17, 21). His superior status in Abram’s day is witnessed 1) by the king of Sodom, the first to meet Abram returning in victory, deferring to Melchizedek before continuing with his request (vv. 17, 21) and 2) by Abram, without demur, both accepting a blessing from and also giving a tithe to this priest-king (vv. 19, 20). Cf. Heb 7:1, 2. priest of God Most High. The use of El Elyon (Sovereign Lord) for God’s name indicated that Melchizedek, who used this title two times (vv. 18, 19), worshiped, served, and represented no Canaanite deity, but the same one whom Abram also called Yahweh El Elyon (v. 22). That this was so is confirmed by the added description, “Possessor of heaven and earth,” being used by both Abram and Melchizedek (vv. 19, 22). MacArthur, John: MacArthur Study Bible NASB.
14:18 Melchizedek means “My King Is Righteous.” Melchizedek was a contemporary of Abram who worshiped the living God. king of Salem: Salem is an older, shorter name for Jerusalem. The word is based on the root from which we get the word shalom, “peace.” bread and wine: While these were staples of everyday life in ancient times, their use here had a different purpose—to celebrate God’s deliverance of Abram and his troops. the priest of God Most High: The term for God used here expresses God’s power over the nations. The great surprise about Melchizedek is that he appears from nowhere, without mention of parents or background, without any introduction of ties to the Lord. This mysterious quality of Melchizedek allows the writer of Hebrews to compare him with another priest, the Lord Jesus Christ (see Heb. 5–9; see also Ps. 110:4).
14:19 And he blessed him: Melchizedek is the first to bless Abram; thus he comes under the special provision of God’s promise of blessing (see 12:3). Blessed be Abram: The words of the blessing are in two lines of poetry, making them more memorable as well as adding a sense of power and effectiveness. The phrase, God Most High is used in both lines of the blessing, for special emphasis. Possessor may also mean “Creator” (see Prov. 8:22).
14:20 blessed be God Most High: When we bless God, we acknowledge Him as the source of all our blessings (see Ps. 103:1, 2). Melchizedek declared the true nature of Abram’s victory—God delivered him. Here is the first mention of the tithe in the Bible (see Deut. 14:22). Abram’s gift indicates that he considered Melchizedek a true priest of the living God; in giving this gift Abram was giving to the Lord.
14:21 Abram seems to have ignored the king of Sodom (see v. 17) until he had worshiped with the king of Salem. Now he hears the demands of this king, who asked for his people but not for his goods. Radmacher, Earl D. ; Allen, Ronald Barclay ; House, H. Wayne: The Nelson Study Bible
Melchizedek (which means “king of righteousness”; see Heb. 7:2) generously provides a meal for the returning victors. Salem is possibly a shortened version of “Jerusalem” (see Ps. 76:2) and is related to shalom, the Hebrew word for “peace” (see Heb. 7:2). He was priest of God Most High. Although very little is known about Melchizedek, he provides an interesting example of a priest-king linked to Jerusalem. There appears to have been an expectation that later kings of Jerusalem should resemble him (see Ps. 110:4). The book of Hebrews presents Jesus Christ, from the royal line of David, as belonging to the “order of Melchizedek” and therefore superior to the Levitical priests (Heb. 5:5–10; 6:20–7:17). “God Most High” in Hebrew is ’El ‘Elyon. ’El is the common Semitic term for “God.” To this is added the attribute ‘Elyon, meaning “Most High.” Elsewhere in Genesis other attributes are added to ’El (e.g., in Gen. 16:13 “God of seeing” translates ’El Ro’i; in 17:1 “God Almighty” translates ’El Shadday; in 21:33 “Everlasting God” translates ’El ‘Olam). These different names highlight different aspects of God’s nature.
Gen. 14:19–20 Melchizedek’s blessing attributes Abram’s victory to the power of God. By giving Melchizedek a tenth of everything (i.e., a tithe), Abram affirms the truthfulness of Melchizedek’s words. Possessor of heaven and earth. Although God has created the whole earth to be his temple, Genesis reveals that God’s ownership of the earth is rejected by those who do not obey him. In light of this, Melchizedek’s acknowledgment of God’s authority over the earth is noteworthy.
Gen. 14:21 In marked contrast to Melchizedek’s blessing, the king of Sodom’s remarks are surly and small-minded: he expresses no gratitude. He “dishonors” Abram, and this is ominous in the light of 12:3 (“I will curse”). ESV Study Bible Notes
“Melchizedek” was probably a title rather than a proper name. It means “King of Righteousness.” Compare Adonizedek (“Lord of Righteousness”) in Josh. 10:1, 3. However theophoric names were common in the ancient Near East, so his name may have meant “My king is Sedeq” or “Milku is righteous,” Sedeq and Milku presumably being the names of gods., p. 316.
The names of both the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah (v. 2) are compounds of a Hebrew word translated “evil” (cf. 13:13).
Bread and wine were the royal food and drink of the day. Many writers have commented on their typical significance, though there is no basis for connecting them directly with the elements used in the Lord’s Supper. Many ancient Near Easterners used bread and wine in making covenants. Melchizedek, the first priest mentioned in the Bible, evidently gave a royal banquet in Abram’s honor. In view of their characters and geographical proximity, Abram and Melchizedek may have been friends before this meeting. Melchizedek may have been Abram’s king to whom the patriarch was paying an expected obligation.
14:19 The God Melchizedek worshipped as a priest was the true God known to him as El Elyon, the possessor of heaven and earth. This title reveals the sovereign power of God. Melchizedek and Abram regarded Abram’s recent victory in battle as due to the blessing of El Elyon.
14:20 People practiced tithing as an act of worship commonly in the ancient Near East at this time (cf. 28:22). It was also a common tax. This is still true in some modern countries. For example, in England part of every person’s taxes goes to maintain the Church of England. Some residents regard this part of their tax as their contribution to the church or their tithe. However since Melchizedek gave Abram a priestly blessing, it is likely that Abram reciprocated by giving Melchizedek a gift with priestly connotations. Dr. Thomas L. Constable
So what do we really know about Melchizedek ? I think Rev. James Admiraal summarizes all we know and makes it clear that we must not go further than scriptures allows.
Melchizedek: A Type of Christ
by Rev. James Admiraal
He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
When you scan the world scene, it is interesting to note how different people rise to prominence, make their mark, and then disappear again from view. Some rise to renown gradually, like stars in the evening sky, which grow brighter and brighter as the darkness gradually overtakes the light. However, there are also persons who appear on the scene more like comets, which appear out of nowhere, streak brilliantly through the sky, and then disappear from view, never to be seen again.
There is a biblical person who reminds us of such a comet—suddenly appearing on the scene of the Old Testament world, and just as suddenly disappearing again. His name was Melchizedek, a man who must rank as one of the most mysterious of all Bible characters.
In fact, his life and deeds do not figure much in biblical history. Rather, he is significant for only one main reason: he was a type of another man, who is, without question, the most significant person in the Bible and all history—yes, who is the greatest person in the universe, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Melchizedek and Abram
Melchizedek is mentioned in three places in the Bible—in Genesis 14, Psalm 110, and in Hebrews 5, 6, and 7.
The first reference to Melchizedek, in Genesis 14, is set in the time of Abram. Abram had just rescued his nephew Lot, who had been captured by a coalition army of four kings led by Kedorlaomer, who had invaded Canaan. Lot and his family had moved near the city of Sodom. The foreign coalition had defeated the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah and their allies, and in the process Lot and his family were seized and carried off as captives.
This led Abram to gather a force of his own servants, who chased the army of Kedorlaomer and was able, with the help of God, to rout them and rescue his nephew Lot.
It was on the way back from this victory that Abram was met by two kings. One was the king of Sodom, who was obviously elated that Abram had defeated the army of Kedorlaomer. He wanted to thank Abram by offering him the spoils of Sodom which Abram had recaptured. It is important to note that Abram refused to take (or keep) anything for himself from this evil king. He wanted no one to think that he had gained his riches from the king of Sodom but instead wanted to give all glory to God for his success and riches.
However, at the same time, Abram was met by another king, whose name was Melchizedek.
Genesis 14:18–20 says: “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying: ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.’ Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”
This reference to Melchizedek, though brief, provides some very significant information about him.
One is simply that Melchizedek was an actual, historical person. Because of his uniqueness, and the statement about him in Hebrews 7:3 that he was “without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end life,” some Bible students think that Melchizedek was perhaps an angel appearing in human form. Others have suggested that perhaps he was Christ, in a pre-incarnate human form. But Melchizedek is clearly identified as an earthly king. He is called “king of Salem.” Salem was the original name for the city later called “Jerusalem.” Salem is a name meaning “peace.” Hence, Melchizedek ruled over what later became the capital of Israel and its central place of worship.
Also important to note is the meaning of his name. Melchizedek is a combination of two Hebrew words which together mean: “king of righteousness.”
However, Melchizedek was not only a king, but Genesis 14:18 also states, “He was priest of God Most High.” So, he also held the office of priest. This was not uncommon among kings at this time in history. That he was the priest of “God Most High,” suggests he had some knowledge of the true God, later identified by Abram as “the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth” (vs. 22).
So, who was Melchizedek? He was not a pagan Canaanite king. Neither was he from the godly line of Abraham, who was to be the father of God’s Old Testament people, the Jews. He was indeed a unique individual—a king-priest who suddenly appears on the pages of Scripture, who was used by God to bless Abram, and would serve as a type of the Messianic king-priest to come.
Hence, what is also important to note is what Melchizedek did when he met Abram and how Abram responded to this king. The Genesis account says that Melchizedek blessed Abram, saying: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
And what was Abram’s response? We read: “Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” Abram somehow understood that he owed Melchizedek this gift from the spoils he had taken, an act that was later to have special symbolic significance, according to Hebrews.
From the above, we come to see that even though the reference to Melchizedek in Genesis 14 is very brief, it contains some crucial facts and truths.
Melchizedek in Psalm 110
After Genesis 14, we do not read of Melchizedek again for a thousand years. The next reference to him in Scripture is found in Psalm 110, a Psalm of David. This Psalm is one of the most-quoted Psalms in the New Testament. The reason it is quoted so frequently is because it speaks prophetically of the Messiah to come, Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus Himself quoted this Psalm to show that the Messiah as David’s Son was at the same time David’s Lord, that is, one much greater than David—a divine Messiah.
Psalm 110 speaks clearly of the ascension of Christ, as well as His sitting at God’s right hand and reigning in power over His enemies. The Messiah is the almighty King.
But the Psalm also speaks of Him as a priest. And in doing so, David, inspired by the Spirit, mentions Melchizedek. He writes in Psalm 110:4, “The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a Priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.’”
Suddenly, we have a reference here to an “order of Melchizedek,” that is, a priestly line that is not descended from the tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron. It is the line or order to which the coming Messiah would belong.
Melchizedek as a Type of Christ
The book of Hebrews is the last to refer to Melchizedek. Hebrews is a book that points to Christ as the exalted King-Priest. It shows Him as the one who has fulfilled the priestly functions and the tabernacle and temple ceremonies of the Old Testament.
Therefore, in Hebrews 5, 6, and 7, the author of Hebrews makes a special point of showing how Jesus Christ is the superior High Priest, far greater than all the priests and high-priests of the old dispensation. One way in which these chapters extol Christ is by referring to Melchizedek and what is said about him both in Genesis 14 and Psalm 110. Indeed, in each of these chapters, it is mentioned that Christ, God’s Son, is “a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”
How was Christ like Melchizedek, or how was Melchizedek a type of Christ? Several truths are brought out in Hebrews.
First, Jesus Christ was both a king and a priest—as Melchizedek was. Christ, in fact, even held a third office, that of prophet.
Second, the meaning of the name Melchizedek (king of righteousness) applies perfectly to Christ and to Him alone. Melchizedek as a human being was far from righteous in himself. But as Scripture repeatedly emphasizes, our Savior is the perfectly righteous King who is just and true in all His being and reign.
Third, as king of Salem, Melchizedek bore a title meaning “king of peace.” He pointed ahead to that Prince of Peace, who has brought true and lasting peace on earth—the peace of reconciliation between sinners and God.
Fourth, Melchizedek was a priest of the Most High God. We do not know exactly how he functioned in that capacity. But we do know that the ultimate priest of the Most High God was His own divine Son, whom God sent into the world to offer the final, perfect sacrifice for sin by His death.
Fifth, Christ is an eternal priest who lives forever. Hebrews 7:3 makes the puzzling statement about Melchizedek that he was “without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life.” This must not be understood literally. As noted above, Melchizedek was not an angelic or divine being. He was a human being who had a beginning and ending to his life. What the author of Hebrews means is that there is no record of Melchizedek’s parents or genealogy, or even his birth and death. He appears and disappears like a comet on the pages of Scripture. He seems like an eternal figure.
But Christ, of whose human life we do have a record in Scripture and of whom we know his parents and genealogy and his birth and death, is the truly eternal High Priest. He was from eternity, and He lives forever as our High Priest and Intercessor with the Father.
Sixth, we should also note how Christ as “a priest in the order of Melchizedek” is superior to all the priests who served God’s people in the Old Testament. Those priests all came from the tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron. Before that, they were also descendants of Abraham.
In Hebrews 7, the author makes the argument that, when Abram offered tithes to Melchizedek, he indicated thereby that Melchizedek was greater than he. And so, all the priests of the Old Testament who were descended from Abraham are far lower than He who is the priest “in the order of Melchizedek.”
Christ is the great High Priest. He is the King to whom all must pay tribute. He is the One before whom every knee must bow. He alone is worthy to receive our gifts and our service. Indeed, He owns all of our lives.
And in turn, those who believe in and belong to this King-Priest will receive His blessing. As Melchizedek pronounced blessing on Abram, so all who belong to God’s redeemed, covenant people will receive the blessing of the great King and High Priest, Jesus Christ, of whom Melchizedek was only a type. (4)
5. Vehement cries and tears?
When He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears:
The agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gesthemane (Mat_26:36-39, Luk_22:44) proves He knows what it is like to struggle with the difficulty of obedience, yet He obeyed perfectly.
a. This answers the question, “How can this glorious, enthroned Jesus know what I am going through down here?” He knows; obedience did not always come easy for Jesus.
b. 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!
c. And was heard because of His godly fear: If Jesus asked that the cup be taken away from Him (Luk_22:42), and the cup was not taken away, how can it be said that He was heard? Because His prayer was not to escape His Father’s will, but to accept it – and that prayer was definitely heard.
d. He learned obedience by the things which He suffered: How could Jesus (who never stopped being God) learn anything? Then again, how does God, enthroned in heaven experience obedience, except by casting off the glory of the throne and humbling Himself as Jesus did?
i. 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.
e. 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. GC
9 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.
6. Why was it vital that Jesus live a perfect life?
During his childhood, Jesus was not lacking in any godly character quality, but he was lacking in the full experience of having lived a perfect human life, obeying the Father in everything, without sin. The lifelong perfect obedience of Jesus provides the basis for eternal salvation and for the ultimate “perfection” of those who respond in faith and obedience. order of Melchizedek. ESVN
Christ did not need to suffer in order to conquer or correct any disobedience. In His deity (as the Son of God), He understood obedience completely. As the incarnate Lord, He humbled Himself to learn. He learned obedience for the same reasons He bore temptation: to confirm His humanity and experience its sufferings to the fullest. Christ’s obedience was also necessary so that He could fulfill all righteousness (Mt 3:13-15) and thus prove to be the perfect sacrifice to take the place of sinners (1Pe 3:18). He was the perfectly righteous One, whose righteousness would be imputed to sinners (cf. Ro 3:24–26). MSBN
Matthew 3:13-15 (NKJV)
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” 15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.
1 Peter 3:18 (NKJV)
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,
Romans 3:24-26 (NKJV)
24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
7. Why is there such difficulty explaining the atonement?
The vicarious sacrificial death on the cross to pay the sin debt of all who would believe is so profound and of such depth of consequence that it requires spiritual maturity to even get a glimpse of its magnitude. A lifetime of study, teaching and Christian experience cannot grasp the concept of the Creator God of the Universe becoming a human and allowing himself to be mocked and nailed to a cross by evil men as the propitiation for their sins.
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. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 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.
8. Why such a stern rebuke?
Ear trouble, today, is the big problem of believers. Christ as a priest after the order of Melchizedek is a difficult subject, and the writer is going to deal with it forthrightly. To understand the subject requires sharp spiritual perception. It requires folk to be spiritually alert and to have a knowledge of the Word of God and to be close to it. The Hebrew believers who are being addressed here had a low SQ, not an IQ, but an SQ—spiritual quotient. It was hard to teach them because it was difficult to make them understand. They were babies, as many of the saints are today, and they want baby talk even from the preacher. They don’t want to hear anything that is difficult to understand. This is the reason some preachers are getting by with murder in the pulpit—they murder the Word of God. They absolutely kill it and substitute something from their own viewpoint, and the congregations like that kind of baby talk.
“Ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God.” Some of them want a D.D. degree, but they don’t even know their ABCs. “First principles” is from the Greek word stoicheion (from which we get our English word atom, by the way), meaning “primary elements”—the ABCs of the Christian life. They ought to be teachers and mature saints, but instead they are still little babies needing someone to burp them.
To these Hebrew believers the writer says, “You are such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. You are not of age; you are not full grown; you haven’t reached maturation.” Now a baby cannot eat meat, but an adult can enjoy milk. I will admit that a lot of saints today sit and listen to baby talk from the pulpit. It is tragic indeed that they have to endure this, but they do. JVM
The Hebrews’ spiritual lethargy and slow response to gospel teaching prevented additional teaching at this time. This is a reminder that failure to appropriate the truth of the gospel produces stagnation in spiritual advancement and the inability to understand or assimilate additional teaching (cf. Jn 16:12). Such a situation exists also among the Gentiles who have received revelatory truth (natural or general revelation) from God in the creation (Ro 1:18–20). Rejection of that revelation results in a process of hardening (Ro 1:21–32). The Hebrews had not only received the same general revelation, they had also received special revelation consisting of the OT Scriptures (Ro 9:4), the Messiah Himself (Ro 9:5), and the teaching of the apostles (2:3, 4). Until the Hebrews obeyed the revelation they had received and obtained eternal salvation (v. 8), additional teaching about the Messiah’s Melchizedekan priesthood would be of no profit to them.
9. Yeah but don’t teachers have to go to seminary and be college educated?
Every believer is to be a teacher. If these Hebrews had really obeyed the gospel of Christ, they would have been passing that message on to others. The Jews were instructed in the law and prided themselves because they taught the law, but they had not really understood or appropriated its truths to themselves.
Every Christian becomes capable of instructing others when he or she learns the elementary truths of the faith. This is true whether one has the gift of teaching (i.e., the ability to communicate with unusual clarity and effectiveness) or not. However when we fail to pass on what we know we begin to lose what we know. Eventually we may need to relearn the most basic teachings of Scripture. When we stop growing, we start shrinking. We do not just stay the same.
“Christians who have really progressed in the faith ought to be able to instruct ”CN
You ought to be able to instruct others. He does not mean to say, evidently, that they ought all to become public teachers, or preachers of the gospel, but that they ought to be able to explain to others the truths of the Christian religion. As parents, they ought to be able to explain them to their children; as neighbours, to their neighbours; or as friends, to those who were inquiring the way to life. BN
5:12, 13 milk. Knowledge without obedience does not advance a person. In fact, by rejecting saving faith, the Hebrews were regressing in their understanding concerning the Messiah. They had long enough been exposed to the gospel to be teaching it to others, but were babies, too infantile and unskilled to comprehend, let alone teach, the truth of God. MSBN
A contrast between milk and solid food.
And you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 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.
a. 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 (1Pe_2:2).
b. 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!
i. 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).
ii. 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.”
iii. 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).
iv. Have you become a babe? Perhaps you are spiritually asleep. Babies need a lot of sleep; babes spend much time spiritually asleep.
v. Have you become a babe? Perhaps you are fussy and cranky with others. Babies can be cranky; babes will fuss over any little thing.
c. 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.
d. 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.
i. 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.
ii. 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.
e. Have their senses exercised: It can be said that all five human senses have their spiritual counterparts.
i. 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)
ii. 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).
iii. 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).
iv. 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).
v. 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). GC
ESVN……………..….ESV Study Bible Notes
MSBN……………….MacArthur NASB Study Notes
NIVSN……………….NIV Study Notes.
JVM ………………….J Vernon McGee’s Commentary
WBC………….…….Wycliffe Bible Commentary
CN ……….…………..Constables Notes
NET…………….…….Net Bible Study Notes.
JFB……………………Jamieson Fausset Brown Commentary
VWS………………….Vincent Word Studies
CMM………………..Commentary on Matthew and Mark
BDB……………..….Barclay’s Daily Study Bible (NT)
Darby……………….John Darby’s Synopsis of the OT and NT
Johnson……………Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament
NTCMM…………..The New Testament Commentary: Matthew and Mark.
EHS………………….Expositions of the Holy Scriptures
CPP…………………The Complete Pulpit Commentary
SBC…………………..Sermon Bible Commentary
K&D…………………Keil and Deilitzsch Commentary on the OT
EBC……………….…Expositors Bible Commentary
CBSC……………….Cambridge Bible for Schools and College
NSB …………………The Nelson Study Bible
MHC…………………Matthew Henry Commentary
CSTTB………………….Chuck Smith Through The Bible
LESB……………………Life Essentials Study Bible.
Rev. James Admiral is a retired pastor in the URCNA. He served most recently as pastor of Cornerstone URC in Hudsonville, MI. He also served for several years on the board of Reformed Fellowship
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