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1 For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:
Ver. 1. Both gifts ] Of things without life.
And sacrifices ] Of living creatures.
For sins ] Christ, as God, was the priest and altar to offer up and to sanctify the sacrifice; and, as God-man, he was the sacrifice; for the Church was purchased by the blood of God, Acts 20:28 . A bloody spouse she was unto him, as in a sense it may be said.
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.
Ver. 2. Who can have compassion ] μετοιοπαθειν . Or, bear anything with reason, and not be easily angry, but show as much mercy as is meet for his, whether they have ignorantly offended, or upon deliberation. They cannot commit more than he can remit.
He is compassed with infirmity ] Christ was compassed with that which we call miserable, not that we call sinful infirmity.
3 And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.
Ver. 3. He ought as for the people ] A priest is a person by God’s apppointment taken from among men, and for men to offer gifts and sacrifices for sin in their and his own behalf.
4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.
Ver. 4. And no man taketh, &c. ] Or if he do, he shall smoke and smart for it, as did Nadab and Abihu, Uzzah and Uzziah, &c. In physicis aer non facit seipsum ignem, sed fit a superiori, as Aquinas noteth upon ft, is text. No man might come uncalled to the king of Persia upon pain of death. What then shall become of such as come without a call to the King of heaven? Christ would not let the devil preach him,Mark 1:13; Mark 1:13 , quia extra vocationem, as one well notes, because he had no calling to such an office.
5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.
Ver. 5. Glorified not himself ] As the pope doth, who will needs be styled Pontifex maximus, the greatest high priest (whereas Christ is called only the great, and not greatest high priest, Heb 4:14 ). Pope Hildebrand especially, whom when no man would advance to Peter’s chair, he went up himself. Quis enim melius de me iudicare potest quam ego? said he, Who can better judge of me than myself? (Heidfeld.)
But he that said unto him ] He glorified him, or made him high priest.
Today have I begotten thee ] Add the words following, "Ask of me," &c., and the sense is full. For to ask of God those things that pertain to the people’s safety and salvation, is the proper office of a high priest. Christ as he expiated his people’s sins by his own blood, so he made intercession for them, 1. A little before his attachment, John 17:1-2 , &c., 2. In the very time when the sacrifice was hanged, Luke 23:34 . Luke 23:3 . In the heavenly sanctuary, Hebrews 9:24 .
6 As he saith also in another place , Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
Ver. 6. Thou art a high priest, &c. ] The former proof was not so evident; but this puts the matter out of all question. A minister should use sound speech that cannot be contradicted; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having nothing reasonably to oppose, Titus 2:8 . The Jew would object that Christ was not of the tribe of Levi, therefore no priest. The apostle answers; Yes, a priest, but after another order, and proves it. This is συμβιβαζειν , collatis testimoniis demonstrare, as Paul did, Acts 9:22 , to confirm and assert.
7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
Ver. 7. Prayers and supplications ] Gr. ικετηριας , deprecations, and most ardent requests, uttered with deep sighs, hands lifted up, and manifold moans, in a most submissive manner.
With strong crying and tears ] Be our hearts so hard (saith one) that we cannot pray for ourselves or others? cry, Conqueror tibi lachrimis Iesu Christi, I cry to thee with Christ’s tears.
Unto him that was able to save him, &c. ] Neither let any here object that many martyrs suffered with less ado, nay, with great joy and triumph. For, 1. What were all their sufferings to his? 2. He therefore suffered the worst, that they might the better suffer. 3. They were lifted up with the sense of God’s love, which he for present felt not. 4. Their bodily pains were miraculously mitigated; as Rose Allen, being asked by a friend how she could abide the painful burning of her hand held over a candle, so long till the very sinews cracked asunder? She said, at the first it was some grief to her; but afterward, the longer she burned the less she felt, or well near none at all. Sabina, a Roman martyr, crying out in her travail, and being asked by her keeper how she would endure the fire next day; Oh, well enough, said she, for now I suffer in child birth for my sins,Genesis 3:16; Genesis 3:16 , but then Christ shall suffer in me and support me.
And was heard in that he feared ] απο της ευλαβειας , or, He was heard (that is, delivered) from his fear. For no sooner had he prayed, but he met his enemies in the face, and asked them, "Whom seek ye?" I am he.
8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
Ver. 8. Yet learned he obedience ] He came to know by experience what a hard matter it was thus to obey God. Schola crucis, schola lucis. Gideon, by threshing the men of Succoth, taught them, Judges 8:7-16 . God’s chastisements are our advertisements, παθηματα μαθηματα . Nocumenta documenta. See my Treatise on Rev. iii., p. 145.
9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
Ver. 9. And being made perfect ] τελειωθεις . Or, being offered up in sacrifice; or, being completed by this experimental knowledge of passive obedience also.
The author ] And finisher too, Hebrews 12:2 . Gr. αιτιος , The cause, viz. by his merit and efficacy.
10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.
Ver. 10. Called ] Gr. προσαγορευθεις , spoken unto, called by name, or entitled a high priest, &c.; therefore he is truly so. For persons and things are as God calleth them.
11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
Ver. 11. Of whom we have, &c. ] The digression here begun holds on to the end of the next chapter.
Hard to be uttered ] Gr. Hard to be expounded. But difficulty doth not dishearten, but rather whet on heroic spirits to a more serious search: it doth not weaken, but waken their earnestness; not amate, but animate them.
Seeing ye are dull ] Gr. Slow paced and heavy handed, τωθροι , from νε and θεω , curro. Our minds are like narrow mouthed vessels. Our Saviour therefore spake as the people could hear, Mark 4:33 , like as Jacob drave as the little ones could go.
12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
Ver. 12. Ye have need that one ] But people plead their rotten charters of age and marriage against catechism.
13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
Ver. 13. In the word of righteousness ] That is, in the more solid doctrine of the gospel concerning Christ, who is our righteousness.
14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Ver. 14. To them that are of full age ] Or that are perfect, τελειων , comparatively perfect, not only past the spoon, but full grown.
Who by reason of use ] Gr. By reason of habit, got by continual custom and long practice, as in an expert artist.
Have their senses exercised ] αισθητηοια , their inward senses, for the soul also hath her senses, as the body hath. Instead of seeing, faith; of hearing, obedience; of smelling, hope; of tasting, charity; of touching, humility. These are exercised in the saints with such an exercise as wrestlers use, or such as contend for victory, put forth to the utmost, as that which they have been trained up to, and can therefore very well skill of.
To discern good and evil ] "Doth not the ear try words? and the mouth taste his meat?" Job 12:11 . "Eye hath not seen," &c.,1 Corinthians 2:9; 1 Corinthians 2:9 . Where the carcase is the eagles will be. Saints have a spiritual sagacity, and they lay hold on eternal life.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 5". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26