Expanded Paraphrase of the Book of Hebrews
Hebrews Chapter 5
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Having introduced us to Jesus in His capacity as High priest, and
having made it abundantly clear that Jesus has compassion on the
ignorant, and on those who have strayed from the path, even to the point
that the lowliest of all can
approach Him with utmost confidence, the author now sets out to
prove that Jesus is infinitely greater than any earthly high
In a world where those in
high positions are usually
inaccessible to the average man, we can
appreciate why it is that the author first makes the point that
Jesus is approachable, accessible, and compassionate. Then only does
he speak of the majesty and authority of Jesus.
Over the next few chapters, the author will
prove that while the ministry of the earthly high priests was of
vital importance, they only ever served as a shadow of the great
Substance and that, as such, their ministry only ever pointed forward to Jesus who was and
is . . .
¤ the only true High Priest
¤ the only High Priest who has passed through
the heavens, (Hebrews 4:14)
¤ the only High Priest who is also the Son of
God, (Hebrews 4:14)
¤ the only High Priest
whose ministry is eternal,
¤ the only High Priest
whose ministry will never to be superseded, (Hebrews 9:12)
¤ the only High Priest
who is perfect in every respect, (Hebrews 4:15)
¤ the only High Priest who, being sinless,
never had to offer sacrifice for His own sins, (Hebrews 7:27)
¤ the Only High Priest who was able to offer a
Sacrifice that actually took away sins - Himself, (Hebrews 10:11-12)
"For there is one God and
one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus." (1 Timothy 2:5)
¤ the only High Priest who is
qualified, by reason of His sacrifice, His divinity, and His
humanity, to mediate directly between a perfect God and His
¤ the only High Priest who is also
the Author of salvation. (Hebrews 5:9)
In view of the fact that at
the time of writing the high priestly ministry on earth had become decidedly
corrupt, it was especially important for the author to
make a comparison between the high priestly ministry of
Jesus and that of the earthly high priests.
- For every priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.
We now need to take a little time to examine the office of the earthly
high priest. In all cases,
the high priest was selected from among men,
¤ to represent
to His children - to be the mouthpiece of the Almighty in the world,
¤ and to
His children to God - to serve as the voice of the nation before God.
As one who interceded between a
holy God and an unholy people, one of the high priest's
responsibilities was to offer gifts and sacrifices to God on behalf of the
nation, on behalf of individuals, and on his own behalf. These gifts and
sacrifices did not have any atoning merit in themselves - in other words, they
did not in any way settle the debt for sin, but they did serve a vital function
in that . . .
upon the minds of God's children the heinous nature of sin,
¤ they left
people in no doubt as to the fact that sin leads to death,
¤ they presented them with
the grim assurance that universal justice demands the
of the sinner,
¤ they taught them that
without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness
of sin, (Hebrews 9:22)
¤ they reminded them that
God would send a substitutionary Sacrifice to die
on behalf of all sinners,
¤ they pointed ahead to the
coming Messiah - the sacrificial Lamb of God - He who would provide all of the
atoning merit that would ever be needed to
- 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.
While the high priesthood was most certainly a holy office, one that
carried with it an awesome responsibility - especially in that the high
priest represented Jesus -
the high priest was nothing other than a mere mortal, one who was subject
to the weaknesses of the flesh as were all other men.
This is why the
priest could relate to the frailties of others, and why he would be
expected to show Christlike forbearance and sympathy toward those who had
erred and gone astray.
- Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.
For the reasons given
above, we can understand that the earthly high priest was as
dependant on God's grace as was anyone else in the nation. Because
of his own
to sin, there was never a time when he could afford to be unmindful
of his own desperate need of a Saviour, and of his own need of God's
This being the case,
we can appreciate that whenever the high priest offered gifts and
sacrifices, whenever he saw the blood gushing from the neck of an
he understood that he was doing this, "first for his own sins, and
then for the sins of the people" (Heb 7:27). To the high priest,
every sacrifice was a reminder of his own weaknesses and infirmities
and of how, one day, the innocent Lamb of God would pay the ultimate
price for all sins, for all people, for all time - including the
sins of the earthly high priests.
- And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was.
"No one is good - no one in all the world is
innocent. No one has ever really followed God's paths or even truly wanted to.
Every one has turned away; all have gone wrong. No one anywhere has kept on doing what is right; not one."
(Romans 3:10-12 TLB)
Bearing in mind the utter depravity of man, and considering our
utter dependence on God's mercy, we can appreciate that no-one could
ever appoint himself to the
of high priest. Nor could an earthly high priest, once appointed,
ever consider himself to be even remotely worthy of such a position.
This is why, as
in the case of Aaron - who was the first ever high priest - those
were chosen to serve in this honorable position, and through
this position to teach the nation of the mission, the mercy, and
the character of the Son of God, were only ever appointed by God
AUTHOR'S INTENTION: Having highlighted some of the qualifications,
qualities, and duties of a high priest, the author now sets out to prove that Jesus
not only matched all of these, but that Jesus' high priestly ministry included a number of unique
features - which features qualified Him to serve, not only as an
earthly high priest, but as the eternal, divine High
Priest in heaven.
- 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." As He also says in another place: "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek";
As far as His appointment
was concerned, it was no different with Jesus - even He did not
could not claim for Himself the position of high priest. This most high
honor was bestowed on Him by the Father Himself.
In this light, therefore,
let us take special note that Jesus was as qualified as any to serve as
high priest, for . . .
¤ He too was
and is compassionate,
¤ He too was
(though He was God incarnate), and
¤ He too was
Yet, unlike any other high
priest, Jesus was not merely appointed to the position - He was worthy of the position.
In fact, Jesus was not only worthy to serve as an earthly high priest, but He
was worthy to serve as the very High Priest in
- as the High Priest that all other priests pointed forward to, illustrated, and
drew attention to.
As regards Jesus'
to serve in this position of utmost glory, let us first of all take note
that . . .
Jesus is the only
High Priest who is Divine
¤ Jesus is
the only High Priest who is also the divine
of God, and that . . .
Jesus is the only
High Priest whose ministry is eternal.
¤ Jesus was appointed as
High Priest, not just for a period of time, but for eternity.
Jesus serves, not
only as the eternal High Priest, but also as the universal and eternal
King of the universe.
¤ In a sense, Jesus can be likened
to Melchizedek, for both served concurrently in the offices of high priest and
Unlike Melchizedek, however, who merely served as the king of Salem, Jesus
serves eternally as the King of the Universe and as the eternal, heavenly High
- 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,
Jesus is the only
High priest who offered Himself as a Sacrifice.
He was the Offerer and
He was the Priest and the Victim.
Then we need to record that the most remarkable feature of Jesus'
which made Him uniquely qualified to serve in this position, is
the fact that He was not only worthy to serve as the High Priest
but also as the Sacrifice - as the Sacrifice that all other
sacrifices pointed forward to - as the only Sacrifice that could
and would pay the price for all the sins of a fallen world. Please notice that
was uniquely qualified to serve as the sacrifice in that He was the only one in
all the universe who was fully God and at the same time fully man.
Jesus is the only
High Priest who was both human and divine.
¤ As the
Son of God, He alone could pay a ransom price of
value to settle the debt for the sinfulness of humanity,
Jesus is the only
High Priest who could stand in our place, take our penalty upon Himself,
and thus free us from our guilt.
¤ As the
of man who was also God, He could stand in the place of humanity, live a perfect
life on behalf of humanity, and then bear the full penalty for the sinfulness of
humanity. Let us take careful
therefore, that the humanity of Jesus was central to the plan of salvation.
"For what the law was
powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by
sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering."
"For the law appoints as
high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath,
which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected
forever." (Hebrews 7:28)
Jesus is the only
High Priest who lived a perfectly, sinless life.
¤ Yet Jesus was not merely called upon to live as
a human. As the Sacrifice
by God, as the One appointed to redeem us unto eternal life, Jesus had
to gain the victory where we failed and, as such, He was called upon to
live a perfect life on our behalf. It could not be otherwise for the
simple reason that an imperfect sacrifice could never settle the debt
for all sin for all people for all time.
"You were not redeemed with
corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received
by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of
a lamb without blemish and without spot." (1 Peter 1:18-19)
controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in
the-flesh." (1 Tim. 3:16 KJV)
Jesus is the only
High Priest who offered a perfect sacrifice - Himself
¤ This is why, as
the representative of humanity, and as the One who had no
advantage over us, Jesus was forever fervent in prayer and in
supplication - often praying through the night to His Father.
Jesus understood that in the strength of humanity He could
never endure the weight of trial and suffering that was to be
laid upon Him. Only through unreserved consecration and
dependence on divine power could He be kept from falling and
from failing - and from thus becoming subject Himself unto
eternal death. Being acutely aware of the awesome
responsibility that rested upon Him, and knowing full well
what would be the cost should He succumb to the least of
temptations, Jesus never relaxed His grip on the Father's hand
- not for as much as a moment.
"It was the Lord's will to crush him and [to] cause him to
suffer." (Isaiah 53:10 NIV)
And so it was
prayers were heard, and His humble surrender and His absolute
reliance on the Father were duly rewarded. In answer to His
earnest entreaty in the garden of Gethsemane, His life and
death were altogether the outworking of the Father's will.
- though He was [the] Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
"Here I am - it is
written about me in the scroll - I have come to do your will, O God."
"I have come down from
heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me." (John
"I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting."
Though Jesus was the Son of God, He had been
to serve as a representative of the human race - and thus to save the
human race. As our Saviour, He was called upon to live a perfect life on
behalf of humanity, and to die on behalf of humanity.
It will be understood,
therefore, that Jesus could not appropriate any divine advantage in His
or in His
confrontation with evil. Because He represented humanity, He had to live
as a man among men, and He had to gain the victory over sin as a man
¤ He was
pronounced guilty that we might be
¤ He was stripped naked that we might be clothed in His righteousness,
¤ He was rejected in the person of us that we
might be accepted in the person of Him,
¤ He suffered the agonies of eternal death, that we might
enjoy eternal life.
¤ He, the deserving, became the
undeserving, so that we, the undeserving, could be accounted deserving.
"It was fitting for Him,
for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons
to glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through
sufferings." (Hebrews 2:10)
Thus it was that
Jesus, as a human being, was required to render absolute obedience and loyalty
to God from His first to His last breath. As
is the lot of every child of humanity, He
learnt submission through affliction, and He was taught and tested by suffering and
sorrow. Through observation and experience, through trials and
difficulties, through disappointments and heartaches, He was molded and
trained, and fitted for ministry and for the awesome task that He had accepted - and yet He never faltered for a moment. Even though He had taken
on all the liabilities of humanity, and even though He was
tempted in all points as we are (Heb 4:15), He was obedient - even
"He grew in wisdom and
stature and in favor with God and men." (Luke 2:52)
He "loved righteousness and hated
lawlessness." (Heb 1:8)
"He did no sin," he "knew no sin," "in him" was
"no sin." He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the
heavens." (1 Pet 2:22; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 3:5; Heb
"Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!"
5:9-10 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called by God as High Priest "according to the order of Melchizedek,"
He "made Himself
of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness
of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and
became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross."
On every point,
Jesus met the standard of perfection. Thus it was that He proved that He was
perfectly qualified to serve as our Saviour.
¤ As a
man, He lived a perfect life on our behalf,
¤ As the
"Lamb of God," He died in our place,
¤ As our perfect
substitute, He humiliated himself to the lowest depths of human woe so
that He could share our human experience and rescue us from the
degradation into which sin had plunged us. (Thanks to
and to His experience as a human, He can now
better relate to our situation, and we can better relate to His
experience and example.)
"For we do not
have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we
have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was
without sin." (Hebrews 4:15 NIV)
"Therefore God also has
highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and
of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue
should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the
Father." (Philippians 2:9-11)
"This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well
pleased. Hear Him!" (Matthew 17:5)
"Look to Me, and be saved,
all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other." (Isaiah
"Nor is there salvation in
any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by
which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
Thus it was that
the Son of God Jesus paid the penalty for all sin, and as the Son of Man
He achieved a perfect victory over sin.
And now, thanks to His
substitutionary sacrifice, and thanks to God's unfathomable grace
kindness), . . .
"He has made us accepted in
the Beloved." (Ephesians 1:6)
Now "if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."
(1 John 2:1)
"He ever lives to make
intercession for us." (Hebrews 7:25 NKJV)
"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"
(1 Corinthians. 15:55 KJV)
¤ the Father
Jesus' victory as though it is our victory,
¤ He considers
Jesus' character as if
is our character,
¤ He accepts us
the person of His
¤ and He
us as though we had never sinned (He justifies us).
"Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it
had been slain, standing in the center of the throne - and I heard the voice of
many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and
the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of
thousands, saying with a loud voice: `Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to
receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and
blessing!' " (Revelation 5:6 NIV; Revelation 5:11)
"I pray that you . . . may have power to
wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ . . .
that you may
be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:18,19)
"For the message of the cross [which is the ultimate
evidence of His love] is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us
who are being saved, it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18,19).
"Let us run with endurance
the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and
finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the
cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the
throne of God." (Hebrews12:1-2)
"Keep yourselves in the
love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal
life." (Jude 1:21)
Having emptied heaven for
our sakes, having suffered infinite pain on our behalf, and having died
for us the
we deserve to die, Jesus now invites us to cling to His motivating love and
to bask in the hope that He bought for us at the cost of infinite pain. Now, today,
with the evidence of His obvious and undying love ever before us, He
invites us to enter into a life-changing love relationship with Him . .
¤ a love
relationship that will raise us above selfishness
instill new values into our lives,
¤ a love
relationship that will inspire us to submit every
of our lives to Him,
¤ a love
that will never end,
¤ a love
that will make obeying Him our highest delight (not in the hope that our
works of obedience can save us, but simply because works of obedience
are the natural, spontaneous response of a heart that has been touched
by His unfathomable love).
`Now may our Lord Jesus
Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us
everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and
establish you in every good word and work.' (2 Thessalonians 2:16)
`God . . . gives endurance and encouragement.'
(Romans 15:5 NIV)
Having reached a high point in his presentation, the author now feels inspired
to deal with a few deeper truths, yet his powers of discernment
persuade him that
his audience is not in a fit spiritual state to appreciate such truths.
It is no doubt in a spirit of frustration that the author now digresses
from his theological discussion to lament three closely related problems confronting many of his
readers . . .
¤ The Problem of
Spiritual Apathy (5:11-14)
¤ The Problem of
Spiritual Immaturity (6:1-3)
¤ The Problem of
whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull
If all were written that
could be written about Jesus, and about His life on earth, His
His character, His manner, His wisdom, His dealings with
others, and His love for us, etcetera, "I suppose that even the world itself could not
contain the books that would be written." (John 21:25)
"Oh, there is so much more I want to tell you,
but you can't understand it now." (John 16:12, TLB)
"For the heart of this people has grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed."
(Matthew 13:15 NKJV)
Of all that pertains to
our Lord, however, it is the deeper spiritual truths that I would
particularly love to share with you. Yet, sadly, I perceive that you are
not in a position to appreciate these high points of our faith.
you have not had a relish for the light of the gospel, and because you
have not been enjoying a living experience in the things of God, self is
still the dominant power in your life. Rather than giving your mind to
the study of sound doctrine and its practical application, your
devotions have been formal, hollow and shallow - only ever touching on
surface truths that call for no deep thought or diligent research. As a direct
result, you are still spiritually weak, morally sluggish, and
surprisingly dull of understanding.
5:12 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.
"And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to
spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk
and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it,
and even now you are still not able." (1 Corinthians 3:1-2 NKJV)
Despite your many years
in the faith, and
the many opportunities that have been yours, you show no evidence of
spiritual growth or maturity. By this time you should be engrossed in
helping others, but you yourselves
are still Christians in need of help. As such, nobody could be benefited by your ministry.
By this time you should be teaching others, but you yourselves are still
in need of instruction in the elementary beginnings of God's revelation
to man. Even that which you were taught at first has gone from your
As a suckling child is
unable to assimilate solid food, so you are not able to understand
anything other than the basic principles of divine truth - you are still
in the kindergarten of faith, still needing instruction in the very
ABC's of Christianity.
"Whom shall he teach
knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are
weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts." (Isaiah 28:9 KJV)
For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of
righteousness, for he is a babe.
"Whom will he teach knowledge? and whom will
he make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk?
Those just drawn from the breasts?" (Isaiah 28:9)
thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your
thinking be adults." (1 Corinthians 14:20)
"Then we will no
longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown
here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and
craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming." (Ephesians 4:14)
"When I was a child,
I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child;
but when I became a man, I put away childish things." (1 Corinthians
"The heart of this
people has grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their
eyes they have closed." (Matthew 13:15)
And so, my dear friends, because you
have only been feeding on the rudimentary truths, you have not grown
spiritually. Your minds have become lazy through a lack of strenuous study and
diligent research and, as a result, you are unacquainted with the deeper
doctrinal, ethical and spiritual issues.
Need I remind you that our
spiritual maturity is directly related to our spiritual diet, and that the light
that is in us is directly proportionate to the light that we have assimilated.
You will appreciate, therefore, that it is by your own choice that today you are
still infants in the faith; it is by your own choice that today you are no more
equipped to climb the majestic mountains of faith than is a day-old baby
equipped to stand up and run.
Even though you have long professed to be children of
God, you are still depending on others for your spiritual nourishment - and that
means, in simple terms, that you are still Christian
babies. You have been living on a low level, dwelling on the surface truths
which call for no taxing thought and, as a result, you are unable to sense, to taste, or to digest the goodness,
the sweetness, and
the excellence of the deeper gospel truths, let alone discuss or disseminate these
5:14 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.
"We speak wisdom
among those who are mature." (1 Corinthians 2:6)
For "the natural man does not receive the
things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor
can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1
Corinthians 2:14 NKJV)
That which I am
attempting to share with you is "hard to explain." These deeper truths can only be understood by those who have had a
living experience in the things of God, by those who have hungered and
thirsted after truth, and by those who have exercised their spiritual faculties
through meditation, through prayer, through the diligent searching of God's word,
and through ministry to the needs of others.
Those who are indifferent to
their spiritual needs cannot possibly progress
either doctrinally or experimentally - for their minds will be
spiritually stunted. Sacred truth will be beyond them - they will hardly
be able to discern the difference between good and evil, let alone
appreciate the revelations that lie hidden beneath the surface of God's
"I press toward the goal
for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let
us, as many as are mature, have this mind." (Philippians 3:13-14)
"And this I pray, that your love may abound still
more and more in knowledge and all discernment." (Philippians 1:9 NKJV)
Please accept my sincere
apologies in that I have not yet managed to find the time to complete this project.
It is my sincere prayer, however, that you have been blessed by this humble
offering. Please pray for me that I may some day have the privilege of finishing
this project - to the glory of God.
Your brother in Jesus