Hebrews 5

Hebrews class 7, Hebrews chapter 5, Jesus Christ is our high priest

February 18, 2009

Revised February 23, 2009

Tod Kennedy

Main points to emphasize in Hebrew 5

  1. A high priest is the one who offers sacrifices for people. He must be human and he must be called by God to be a high priest. Aaron was called by God to be a high priest of the Levitical kind.
  2. God the Father appointed Jesus Christ to be priest, not like Aaron, but like Melchizedek. Christ’s priesthood was, in rank and nature, patterned on Melchizedek. This was an entirely different and better priesthood.
  3. Jesus Christ, in his humanity, learned to obey God the Father by going through suffering. In suffering a person must decide how to live and what to do. Will a person make the right choices or the wrong choices? Jesus always made the right choices. He therefore qualified to offer Himself as the sacrifice for sin, and by that provide eternal salvation to everyone who obeys Him—believes Him.
  4. Apathetic believers, “dull of hearing” or lazy learners are stuck in spiritual immaturity. They have a hard time learning more advanced biblical doctrines; they need to be taught again the fundamental doctrines; they have a hard time explaining God’s word to others; and they are unskilled at making biblical choices and applications about what is good and what is evil.


  1. The high priest represents mankind to God and is called by God to this office as was Aaron (5:1-4).
  2. God the Father appointed Christ to be high priest like Melchizedek, not like Aaron (5:5-10).
  3. The Hebrew believers were lazy learners, apathetic toward learning Bible doctrine with the result that they needed to learn the elementary doctrines again (5:11-14).

Hebrews 5 Study

  1. Hebrews 5:1-4. The high priest represents mankind to God and is called by God to this office as was Aaron. The high priest, ἀρχιερεύς, έως, ὁ archiereus S749, was the chief over the priests. God appointed him. His job was to represent mankind to God by his authority over the sacrificial system, by being able to teach and encourage others because he also had human limitations, and to offer sacrifices for himself and the people. God appointed him. The Bible divides the tirbe of Levi into priests and Levites. The priests were from Aaron (Exodus 29:1-9; Numbers 3:10). The Levites were not descended from Aaron. The carried out religious duties not specified to the priests. Leviticus 16 gives the regulations for the day of atonement in which the high priest offers sacrifice for himself, for his family, and for all the people.
    1. Hebrews 5:1. The high priest, ἀρχιερεύς, έως, ὁ archiereus S749. He is a man. He represents man to God. He has authority over the Levitical system. He was the top man in the structure.
    2. Verse 2. He is a man with human weaknesses and so is able to help the instruct and encourage the people.
    3. Verse 3. The priest offers sacrifices for the sins of himself and the people. Before the high priest could perform is duties he had to be cleansed.
    4. Verse 4. Aaron was the first high priest. God called him καλέω kaleo, present passive participle circumstantial of time or condition, to call, to name, to summon, to invite, S2564. No one may take the office and responsibilities by his own initiative. God must appoint him. Only when God appoints him is he a high priest. See Leviticus 8:2.
      1. Korah (Numbers 16), Saul (1 Samuel 13:8-14), and Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:16-21) all blatantly took the ministry of the high priest for themselves and each was punished by God.
      2. Remember that the writer is building the basis for Jesus Christ’s superiority over the OT Aaronic or Levitical priesthood. He does this to bring these Hebrew Christians back to trusting only Jesus Christ for eternal life and entrance into the kingdom.
      3. This now leads to the main point in 5-10 that God appointed or called Christ to become the high priest in the order of or like Melchizeked.
  2. Hebrews 5-10. God the Father appointed Christ to be high priest like Melchizedek, not like Aaron.
    1. Verses 5 and 6 relate that God the Father appointed Jesus Christ to become high priest. Jesus did not take it on his own volition. The two OT quotations (Psalm 2:7 and Psalm 110:4) verify the writer’s statement about Christ and the priesthood.
      1. Begotten γεννάω gennao refers not to physical birth, but to the unique and eternal appointment, then installation of Christ as God the Father’s Savior-King-Priest for Israel and all mankind (Psalm 2.7; Hebrews 1.5-6; 5.5; Acts 13.33).
      2. He is the eternal priest like Melchizedek. He is now pointed out as the king and the priest. Melchizedek was both (Genesis 14:18). Jesus is priest and the king awaiting ruling His kingdom.
    2. Verses 7-8. Jesus was tested through suffering. No one likes to suffer, but suffering demands that we choose between at least to options—the right option or the wrong option. The right option includes trust God’s character, do God’s will, live righteously, and go to the Father in prayer for support. The wrong option includes complaining and criticizing God, rejecting God’s will, not applying God’s word by faith, and in pride and self-help or depression reject prayer.
      1. We learn to obey God by suffering. Through suffering we can learn that the right choices bring blessing while the wrong choices bring more suffering, unhappiness, depression, guilt, and discontent.
      2. Suffering also develops maturity or spiritual wholeness. “Perfect” is τελειόω teleioo, aorist passive participle, to complete, to accomplish, to bring to an end, the perfection of an upright person S5048.
    3. Verses 9-10. Jesus Christ passed all the test, accomplished all character building, and was completely righteous, faithful to the Father, and obedient to the Father. As a result He was qualified to give eternal salvation to all who obey him.
      1. Obey ὑπακούω hupakouo, present active participle, dative plural , dative of advantage. The verb means to follow instructions, to be subject to, to obey. Here it does not refer to works salvation, but to obeying the gospel by believing the gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:8).
      2. Jesus Christ is our high priest in the fashion of Melchizedek, not Aaron.
  3. Hebrews 5:11-14. The Hebrew believers were lazy learners, apathetic toward learning Bible doctrine with the result that they needed to learn the elementary doctrines again Verses 11-14 are somewhat of a practical digression to encourage the Hebrew believers to stop their lazy listening because learning God’s word prepares one for a spiritually active, useful, and satisfying life. Learning the Melchizedek priesthood of Christ is one important level in that learning because for them it will help to free them from the misuse of the temple and the Levitical system. This misunderstanding and misuse is at the heart of their spiritual failure. Chapter 6 will teach that until this is corrected they cannot move forward in the Christian life.
    1. Verse 11 refers to the Melchizedek priesthood of Jesus Christ. The Hebrew believers are limited because they have become “dull of hearing,” νωθροὶ γεγόνατε ταῖς ἀκοαῖ nothroi (lazy) gegonate (have become) tais akoai (of hearing).
      1. “Dull” is the word νωθρός, ά, όν nothros, is an adjective. It has the meanings of lazy or sluggish. It is also found in Hebrews 6:12. The readers are not interested in learning about the Melchizedek priesthood of Christ. They think they have more important things to do. They have misplaced priorities. And the misplaced priorities have caused them to be confused about eternal salvation, security, the completed work of Christ on the cross, and the Levitical system. And practically, they do not understand the Christian life and cannot move forward in the Christian life until their wrong thinking is corrected.
    2. Verse 12. Because of their lack of interest in gaining biblical instruction they are unable to teach others. Every believer can pass on clear biblical doctrine. Every believer does not have to have the gift of teaching to do this.
      1. These believers to whom this book is addressed need a crash course in the elementary principle of biblical theology, including the person and work of Christ. They need milk doctrine first. This need is because they have become lazy learners and have not thought about and practiced what they already had been taught. They regressed in their knowledge and application of God’s word.
      2. Elementary is στοιχεῖον, ου, τό stoicheion, the basic components or elements from which everything in the world is made, and then the things that make up the foundations of learning, the fundamental principles. S4747. They need to have the biblical fundamentals taught again to them. These fundamentals include the nature of God, the person and work of Christ, sin, righteousness, grace, and faith.
      3. The oracles of God are the logion of God. Λόγιον logion S3051 are the sayings, the revelation of God. This makes up Scripture.
    3. Verse 13. This kind of believer is a spiritual infant νήπιος, ία, ιον nepios, a very young child, a minor, and even an infant, S3516.
      1. The “infant” is one who lacks both knowledge and practice. All biblical knowledge must be practiced in order to retain the ability to properly understand it and properly use it.
      2. The word of righteousness is “solid food” (12). This results in righteous living. The specific solid food in the context is the doctrine of the Melchizedek priesthood of Christ.
    4. Verse 14. The mature person is now described. He is different from the small child or infant. Our goal is to become a mature or adult believer. As a mature believer we will be able to differentiate between good and bad choices. We will be able to make choices from a biblical moral base or frame of reference. The right choices will honor God and bless us. The wrong choices will not honor God and can result in difficulties, heartaches, and divine discipline.
      1. Mature is τέλειος, α, ον teleios S5046, meeting the highest standard, complete, expert, full grown, adult, mature. This believer is able to take in more advanced doctrine (solid food).
      2. Practice. The mature person got this way by practice (ἕξις, εως, ἡ exis a condition or state, produced by practice, an acquired habit, here a state of maturity, S1838). The habit of practice resulted in his senses being trained.
      3. Senses (αἰσθητήριον, ου, τό aistheterion, capacity or faculty for discernment S145).
      4. Trained (γυμνάζω gumnazo, to train, to undergo discipline, perfect passive participle used as a predicate adjective to “senses,” meaning “senses were trained,” S1128).
      5. The mature believer has a skillful capacity to tell the difference between good and evil. Good and evil refer to the result of moral choices.
        1. Good is καλός, ή, όν kalos, beautiful, fine quality, honorable, useful, advantageous. S 2570.
        2. Evil is κακός, ή, όν kakos, below standard, bad, inferior, morally bad, ugly, worthless, unskilled, evil. S2556
    5. What is the point?
      1. The ability to deal with life from a biblical basis must be developed by practice. The word of God is what one practices with. Exercise in the word of God—solid food in context—enables the believer to deal with life, the good and the evil. In the context of Hebrews 5 good and evil relate to the viewpoints of these Hebrew believers who have been doubting the person and work of Christ.
      2. When a person is not clear on the doctrines of Christ he lacks the ability to make the right applications in life such as how to gain eternal life, whom to trust in a crisis, how to have spiritual rest, why do believers assemble, what is important in a church service, how to think and act when suffering, what does it mean to serve as part of Christ’s priestly service, and other fundamental questions brought up in Hebrews.

Doctrines in Hebrews 5

  1. Levitical high priest
  2. Levitical sacrifices
  3. Melchizedek priesthood of Christ
  4. Undeserved suffering
  5. Eternal salvation
  6. Spiritual apathy and Lazy learners
  7. Spiritual regression
  8. Spiritual growth
  9. Spiritual maturity
  10. Decision making based upon biblical theology

End of Hebrews 5 study