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An Expanded Paraphrase of the Book of Hebrews

       

Hebrews Chapter 5

       

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Author's Intention: 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 priest.

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  the only High Priest whose ministry will never to be superseded, (Hebrews 9:12)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 fallen children,

  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.

5:1 - 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 God to His children - to be the mouthpiece of the Almighty in the world,

  and to represent 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 unique 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 . . .

  they impressed upon the minds of God's children the heinous nature of sin,

  they left the 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 death 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 save fallen humanity.

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.

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 high 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.

5:3 - 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 propensity 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 forgiving mercy.

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 innocent sacrificial animal, 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.

5:4 - 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 position 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 who 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 Himself.

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.

5:5-6 - 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 and 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 an earthly high priest, for . . .

  He too was and is compassionate, 

  He too was human (though He was God incarnate), and

  He too was appointed by God.

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 heaven - as the High Priest that all other priests pointed forward to, illustrated, and drew attention to.

As regards Jesus' worthiness 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 Son of God, and that . . .
(Psalm 2:7)

      

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.
(Psalm 110
:4)

      

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 king. 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 Priest.

5:7 - 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,

      

Jesus is the only High priest who offered Himself as a Sacrifice.

He was the Offerer and the Offering.

He was the Priest and the Victim.

 

  Then we need to record that the most remarkable feature of Jesus' ministry, and that 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 Jesus 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 sufficient 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 Son 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 note, 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." (Romans 8:3)

"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 appointed 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)

"Without 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 absolute 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 that Jesus' 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.

5:8 - 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." (Heb 10:6)

"I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me." (John 6:38)

"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." (Isaiah 50:6)

 

Though Jesus was the Son of God, He had been commissioned 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 daily life, 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 among men. 

      

  He was pronounced guilty that we might be pronounced innocent,

  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 unto death.

"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 7:26)

"Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!" (Phil 2:8)

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." (Philippians 2:7-8)

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 perfect man, He lived a perfect life on our behalf,

  As the perfect "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 His "humanness," 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 45:22)

"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 as 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 (undeserved 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 considers Jesus' victory as though it is our victory,

  He considers Jesus' character as if it is our character,

  He accepts us (humanity) in the person of His Son,

  and He treats 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 grasp how 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 death that 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 and instill new values into our lives,

  a love relationship that will inspire us to submit every aspect of our lives to Him,

  a love relationship that will never end,

  a love relationship 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)

Author's Intention: 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 Apostasy (6:4-8)

5:11  of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.

If all were written that could be written about Jesus, and about His life on earth, His divinity, 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. Because 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 despite 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 mind.

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)

5:13  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)

"Brothers, stop 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 13:11)

      

"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 truths.

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 Word.

"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)

Dear Reader.

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

Neville Mandy

 
     

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