Here is a Bible study, commentary, and summary of Hebrews chapter five.
Hebrews 5:1-2 “For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.”
The author of Hebrews makes a great point that the high priest can deal very well and very gently with the “ignorant and wayward,” because he’s got the very same weakness! Who better to know about sin than one who is a sinner? Some sins, even done in ignorance, are not overlooked by God, but at least there is an opportunity for forgiveness. The high priest’s never choose themselves; it was always done “from among men.” A self-proclaimed priest would not be any more authentic than a self-proclaimed prophet would be today because it was God Who always choose His prophets…never was it a choice of man. Most of the prophets in the Old Testament were reluctant or ran away from their calling….never did they run too them.
Why would the author of Hebrews point out the flaws in the priests?
Were these priests better than those they sacrificed for?
Are the men who chose the high priest accountable to God?
Hebrews 5:3-4 “Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.”
Since the high priest is very familiar with the sins of the people, he must realize that he needs to provide a sacrifice for his own sins. No high priest who is not first ceremonially clean can even enter the tabernacle…unless they want to die! That’s why they put the bells on…when the bells stopped, they knew he was dead by doing something wrong, and then dragged him out by the rope that had already tied around his waist (just in case this happened!) . That is too near the Holy of Holies and it’s no place for anything profane. Again, the author says that the priest doesn’t take this honor for himself but is called by God, just like Aaron was. Twice in this short chapter we’ve read about a priest’s being called by others, including God, but never do they take that honor to themselves. It’s not like some today who dub themselves an “Apostle.” Biblical evidence indicates that anyone who’s a self-proclaimed Apostle can’t be that old (read Acts 1:21-22 and you’ll understand).
Could a priest offer sacrifices for others if he had not sacrificed for his own sins?
Why couldn’t a priest appoint himself?
Is the holiness of God taken very seriously by God?
Hebrews 5:5-6 “So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you;’ as he says also in another place ‘You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.’”
There is such humility in these verses. Here is the Son of God Who had every right to be exalted, as He was previously exalted in heaven, but He emptied Himself of His glory, condescending to flesh, to redeem flesh, and now, He is a priest forever; Interceding on behalf of the saints. He is our Mediator Who gives us access to the throne of the Father. What a glorious thing! What a great honor for those who are at best, unworthy. If Jesus didn’t exalt Himself, and He had every right, how can we who have no right, ever exalt ourselves?
How can we exalt ourselves?
How can we exalt Christ?
Is Jesus still the High Priest today?
Hebrews 5:7-8 “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.”
In writing about Jesus earthly ministry (days of his flesh), the author says that it was through His suffer that He was “being made perfect [and] he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek” (Heb 5:9-10). This didn’t mean Jesus learned something but rather that through His suffering, he learned to obey His Father’s will, knowing that it was the Father’s will that needed doing, and not His (Luke 22:42). This is similar to how Paul had to learn to be content in his sufferings. He didn’t need to learn about suffering, he was well acquainted with it (like Jesus!), but he had to learn how to be content and to make that contentment independent of circumstances. It was a choice of the will and he had to learn to choose contentment. Jesus is also very well acquainted with our pain and suffering (Isaiah 53:3) but He still choose to obey, even to the point of death on a cross.
Why did it say Jesus learned obedience through suffering?
What does that mean?
Are obedience and learning closely associated?
Hebrews 5:12-13 “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.”
They point the author of Hebrews is making is that they should have been weaned off the elementary doctrines of faith (the milk) and been eating solid foods by now, but they weren’t even trying to cut their teeth on more of the Word yet. Perhaps they weren’t ready for the solid foods yet since “solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Heb 5:14). They might not have been able to digest it yet. The author tells them that solid food is very important in keeping them out of error. By digging deep into the Word they would receive the “powers of discernment” because of their “constant practice” in study and they’d be better equipped to distinguish between good and evil (or truth and error). A baby can’t recognize a “Dangerous Curve” sign on the highway, but a mature driver is knowledgeable enough to know they need to slow down.
What biblical knowledge would you consider the milk of the Word?
What chapters or books of the Bible would you call “solid foods?”
Should we have both milk (elementary doctrines) and solid foods (going deeper into the Word)?
Hebrews chapter five tells us several things. One thing that was repeated was that self-appointed priests (and I would add, prophets) are qualified in a biblical sense. Neither can they claim to be without sin. Thankfully, Jesus humbled Himself and condescended down to our level, and even “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-8). That should humble every one of us.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.