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Bible Commentaries

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Hebrews 5

Verse 1

Heb 5:1. The superiority of the system of Christ over that of Moses continues to be the subject of this book. The discussion is especially formed around the priesthoods, making comparison to show wherein they are alike as well as where they differ. This and a number of verses following will deal (generally) with many of the points in which they are similar. The high priests of the Mosaic system were men--human beings--who were ordained (appointed) to act on behalf of the nation's relation to the things of God. These priests acted in these things by offering the gifts and sacrifices for their sins. The two words are much alike in many respects. The first means the offerings that were made voluntarily, consisting of money or fruits that could be used for the living of the priests or the maintenance of the temple. The second has reference to animals that were to become victims on the altar; the blood of some of these was taken by the high priest into the most holy place.

Verse 2

Heb 5:2. The ignorant means those less informed than the priests who were better aquainted with the matters of the service. (See Lev 10:8-11; Deu 17:8-13; Joh 11:49-52.) Out of the way denotes those who err in their ways on account of their lack of knowledge. Can have compassion means the same as "being touched" as was explained by the comments on chapter 4:15. Compassed with infirmity means those priests had the same fleshly tendencies as others of the nation.

Verse 3

Heb 5:3. This can apply to the high priests under the old law only, since Jesus had no sins to be atoned for.

Verse 4

Heb 5:4. The apostle again takes up the points in which the high priests of both systems were similar. Numbers 16, 18 will clearly show that Aaron did not seek the office of high priest. but that he was called into that service by the Lord.

Verse 5

Heb 5:5. Thou art my Son, etc., was not what made Jesus the High Priest of the Christian Dispensation. It is quoted as an identification of the One who did call Christ into that office. David is the one who wrote the statement by inspiration, and it was written many centuries before Christ was born.

Verse 6

Heb 5:6. This verse cites another passage in David's writings (Psa 110:4) that predicts the priesthood of Jesus, even specifying one of the particulars in which He was to be superior to the Levitical priests (which is another of the points of difference referred to above); being like Melchisedek in that it was not to be changeable as were the Levitical priests. Having been determined upon and predicted of God long before he was born, Jesus could not be accused of usurping the office.

Verse 7

Heb 5:7. Days of his flesh means while Jesus lived on the earth before his crucifixion. He often prayed to his Father, but we are not always told what was the subject of the prayers. The one in the garden (Luk 22:41-44) is an instance of supplications with strong crying and tears. Our present verse indicates one subject of His prayers was to be saved from death. This could not mean that when He prayed in the garden he was asking God to shield him from death on the cross. Peter was rebuked for trying to shield his Master from death (Mat 26:51-54; John:18 10, 11). But the prayer of our verse received a favorable answer, for it says He was heard. Save is from the Greek word sozo which Thayer defines. "To bring safe forth from." Jesus was saved from death in the sense that He was brought "safe forth from" the grave, hence the conclusion is established that He prayed for that favor from his Father, intensifying the prayers with the supplications and tears.

Verse 8

Heb 5:8. Though he were a Son, Jesus was not excused from undergoing the program his Father planned for him. Jesus learned by practical experience what it means to obey his Father, when the trials of His life led up to his suffering and crucifixion.

Verse 9

Heb 5:9. The word perfect means complete and fully qualified or equipped. The experience of suffering is what gave Jesus this completion. Author is from a Greek word that primarily means "cause." Jesus suffered many trials and finally went to His death on the cross. This qualified Him to cause a plan of eternal salvation to be effected for mankind. Eternal is from AIONIOS, which Thayer defines at this passage, "Without end, never to cease, everlasting." The salvation offered by Christ will go on endlessly after the world ceases to be. However, the important condition on which men may obtain this salvation is that they obey Him.

Verse 10

Heb 5:10. Melchisedec had no successor in his priesthood, neither will Jesus have any, for He is now and will continue to be High Priest.

Verse 11

Heb 5:11. Of whom has direct ref-erenec to Melchisdec because he was the last person named. But the apostle concluded his readers were not ready for the fine points in the comparison between this man and Christ. He drops that line of argument for the present, and will take it up again (in chapter 7) after giving them other instructions that may prepare their minds for the further study of types. Hard to be uttered means "difficult of explanation" according to Thayer's lexicon. Dull of hearing denotes a mind that is slow in apprehending what is said.

Verse 12

Heb 5:12. These disciples had been in the church long enough time to have become teachers, but were still in need of being taught by others. There is no criticism to make merely because someone needs to be taught--all people need that. The fault is in being so indifferent as not to advance beyond the "kindergarten grade." The word first means "beginning," and principles denotes "steps or elements." The phrase means the beginning steps of the oracles of God. These steps include the types revealed in the Old Testament, that pointed forward to the institution of Christ. The system of the Levitical priesthood and that of Melchisedec were steps or elements that looked forward to Christ. Being unable to grasp the comparisons, Paul described them as being like babes who can partake of milk only.

Verse 13

Heb 5:13. Unskilful is defined "inexperienced" by Thayer's lexicon. This does not mean that the lack of experience is due to their babyhood, but it is the other way around. They were still babes because they had not launched out after further activities or experiences, such as a normal babe will do.

Verse 14

Heb 5:14. The Englishman's Greek New Testament renders strong meat as "solid food." Of full age means those who are adults instead of babes. By reason of use denotes the experience a Christian has in practicing the things taught in the "oracles of God." Senses is defined "Faculty of the mind" by Thayer, and he explains it further, "For perceiving, understanding, judging." The Bible is like an appliance that has been obtained for the home; it must be used to be understood and appreciated. But in order to make the proper use of it the owner must observe "instructions" that are given by one who furnished him the appliance. Likewise the Lord has provided instructions in the "oracles" for the proper use of the items making up the system of Christian living. By following these instructions the disciples will learn to make correct distinctions between the various situations in life, accepting the right and rejecting the wrong. (See 1Th 5:21.)
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Hebrews 5". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/hebrews-5.html. 1952.