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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Hebrews 5

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 5

Hebrews 5:1. Instead of the Recepta δῶρά τε καὶ θυσίας, Lachm. and Tisch. 1 read merely δῶρα καὶ θυσίας. But the single testimony of B (D**?)—for nothing is here to be inferred from the Latin versions—does not suffice for the condemnation of the particle, τε is protected by A C D*** (D*: τε δῶρα) E K L א, of, as it appears, all the cursives, Epiph. and many others. Cf. also Hebrews 8:3; Hebrews 9:9.

Hebrews 5:3. Elz.: διὰ ταύτην. Lachm. Bleek, de Wette, Tisch. Delitzsch, Alford, al.: διʼ ταὐτήν. To be preferred on account of the better attestation by A B C* D* א, 7, 80, al., Syr. utr. Chrys. ms. Cyril. Theodoret (alic.).

Instead of the Recepta ἑαυτοῦ, there is placed in the text by Lachm., after B D*, αὐτοῦ; by Tisch. 1, αὑτοῦ.

But ἑαυτοῦ is found in A C D*** E K L א, almost all min., and many Fathers, and is on that account to be retained, with Bleek, de Wette, Tisch. 2, 7, and 8, Bloomfield, Delitzsch, Alford, and others.

The preference over the Recepta ὑπὲρ ἁμαρτιῶν (supported by C*** D*** E K L, the majority of the min. Chrys. Theodoret ad loc., al.; defended by Bleek, and more recently by Bloomfield and Reiche) is merited by the reading περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν, already commended to attention by Griesbach; adopted by Lachm. Tisch. and Alford, with the assent of Delitzsch and Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 434), partly on account of the stronger attestation by A B C* D* א, 17, 31, 47, 73, 118, Chrys. codd. Theodoret (semel), partly because περί might easily, on account of the περί placed twice before, be altered into ὑπέρ, in conformity with ὑπὲρ ἁμαρτιῶν, Hebrews 5:1.

Hebrews 5:4. ἀλλὰ καλούμενος] So rightly already the Editt. Complut. and Plantin.; in like manner Bengel, Griesbach, Matthaei, Knapp, Scholz, Lachm. Bleek, de Wette, Tisch. Delitzsch, Alford, after the preponderating authority of A B C* D E K א, 23, 37, 44, al. plur., Chrys. Damasc. Procop. Oecum. The article added in the Recepta: ἀλλὰ καλούμενος, is not only badly attested (C** L, Constitutt. apostoll., Theodoret, Theophylact), but also unsuitable, since not a new subject in opposition to the unemphatic τις is required by the context, but an antithetic nearer defining in opposition to the significant οὐχ ἐαυτῷ.

Instead of the Recepta καθάπερ (C** D*** E K L א*** Theodoret), approved by Griesbach, Matthaei, Knapp, Scholz, Bleek, de Wette, Bloomfield, al., Lachm., after C* (?) Chrys. Procop. reads: καθώς; Tisch., with Alford, after A B D* א* Damasc.: καθώσπερ. The last, in favour of which Delitzsch also declares himself, deserves the preference as the best attested, and as most in keeping with the predilection of the author for harmonious combinations.

The article before ἀαρών in the Recepta was already with justice deleted in the edit. Complut., and later by Bengel, Griesbach, Matthaei, Scholz, Lachm. Bleek, Tisch. Alford, and others. Against it decides the weighty authority of A B C D E K L א, many min. and Fathers.

Hebrews 5:9. Elz. Matthaei, Scholz, Tisch. 2 and 7, Bloomfield: τοῖς ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ πᾶσιν! But preponderating witnesses (A B C D E א, 17, 37, al., Syr. utr. Copt. It. Vulg. Vigil. Cassiod. Chrys. Cyril, Theodoret, Damasc. Theophyl.) require the order: πᾶσιν τοῖς ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ. Already recommended by Griesbach. Adopted by Lachm. Bleek, Tisch. 1 and 8, Alford. Approved also by Delitzsch. The sequence of the words in the Recepta is a later alteration, in order to bring out the more noticeably the paronomasia of τοῖς ὑπακούουσιν with the foregoing τὴν ὑπακοήν.

Hebrews 5:12. καὶ οὐ στερεᾶς τροφῆς] So Elz. Lachm. Bloomfield, Alford, al.; while Tisch. 2, 7, and 8 has, after B** C, 17, א* Copt. Vulg. Orig. (thrice) Cyril, Chrys. ms. Aug. Bede, only οὐ στερεᾶς τροφῆς. But καί is protected by A B* D E K L א*** the majority of the min., many versions, and several Fathers.


Verse 1-2

Hebrews 5:1-2. Justification of the δύνασθαι συμπαθῆσαι ταῖς ἀσθενείαις ἡμῶν, Hebrews 4:15, as a necessary qualification in the case of Christ, since it is an indispensable requirement even in every earthly high priest. γάρ does not glance back to Hebrews 4:16, as is maintained by Hofmann (Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 395) and Delitzsch. for Hebrews 5:1-3 can in point of contents be taken neither as enforcement nor as elucidation of the admonition, Hebrews 4:16. The supposition of Hofmann and Delitzsch, however, that γάρ logically controls the whole section, Hebrews 5:1-10, is arbitrary, inasmuch as Hebrews 5:4 ff. is logically and grammatically bounded off from Hebrews 5:1-3, and the assertion that the aim in the section, Hebrews 5:1-10, is to enforce the exhortation, Hebrews 4:16, by a reminder “of the nature of the high-priesthood of Jesus, how on the one hand it bears resemblance to that of Aaron, and on the other hand to the priesthood of Melchisedec” (Hofmann), or of the “blending of Aaronitic humanity (tenderness) with the Melchisedecian dignity in the person of Jesus” (Delitzsch), is entirely erroneous; because, Hebrews 5:5-10, Aaron and Melchisedec are not yet at all distinguished from each other as the lower and the higher; but, on the contrary, this relation—in which the one stands to the other—is for the present left wholly in abeyance, and all that is insisted on is the fact that Christ, even as Aaron, was called by God to the high-priesthood, and that a high-priesthood after the manner of Melchisedec.

πᾶς] refers, as is evident from ἐξ ἀνθρώπων λαμβανόμενος, and from Hebrews 5:3, to the earthly, i.e. the Levitical, high priest. Wrongly, because going beyond the necessity of the case and the horizon of the epistle, Grotius (comp. also Peirce): Non tantum legem hic respicit, sed et morem ante legem, quum aut primo geniti familiarum aut a populis electi reges inirent sacerdotium. But neither is ἐξ ἀνθρώπων λαμβανόμενος a part of the subject (“every high priest taken from among men, in opposition to the heavenly One;” Luther, Seb. Schmidt, Wittich, Akersloot, Peirce, Wetstein, Chr. Fr. Schmid, Storr, Abresch, Kuinoel, Paulus, Stengel, comp. also Tholuck).—for then the order πᾶς γὰρἐξ ἀνθρώπων λαμβανόμενος ἀρχιερεύς would have been chosen,—nor is it intended “to lay stress upon the phenomenon, in itself remarkable, that the high priest has to represent men, who are thus his equals, in their relation to God” (Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 396, 2 Aufl.),—for thereby a reference altogether foreign to the connection is introduced, and the thought thus presupposed is itself a singular one, because, so far from its being remarkable, it is, on the contrary, natural and appropriate that like should be represented by its like; it would be remarkable and unnatural if, for instance, a man should represent angels,—but it contains a note of cause to ὑπὲρ ἀνθρώπων καθίσταται. The twice occurring ἀνθρώπων stands full of emphasis, and presents a correspondence between the two. By the ἐξ ἀνθρώπων λαμβανόμενος the ὑπὲρ ἀνθρώπων καθίσταται is explained and justified. For the very reason that the high priest is taken from among men, is he also appointed or installed in his office as mediator with God.

καθίσταται] not middle, so that τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεόν were accusative of object thereto (Calvin: Curat pontifex vel ordinat, quae ad Deum pertinent; Kypke), but passive, so that τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεόν, as Hebrews 2:17, is to be taken as an accusative absolute.

ἵνα κ. τ. λ.] epexegetic amplification of ὑπὲρ ἀνθρώπων καθίσταται τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεόν.

δῶρα—[ קָרְבָּן מִנְחָה] and θυσίαι are properly distinguished as gifts and sacrifices of every kind, and bloody sacrifices. The distinction, however, is not always observed. Comp. e.g. LXX. Leviticus 2:1 ff., Numbers 5:15 ff., Genesis 4:3; Genesis 4:5, where θυσία is used of unbloody sacrifices; and Genesis 4:4, Leviticus 1:2-3; Leviticus 1:10, al., where δῶρα is used of bloody sacrifices. In our passage the author has, without doubt, specially the bloody sacrifices in mind; as, accordingly, in the course of the epistle he opposes the sacrifice presented by Christ to the Levitical victims in particular.

ὑπὲρ ἁμαρτιῶν] i.e. for the expiation thereof. It belongs not merely to θυσίας (Grotius, Limborch, Bengel, Dindorf) or to δῶρά τε καὶ θυσίας (Owen, Alford), but to the whole clause of the design.

Hebrews 5:2 is to be coupled with Hebrews 5:1 without the placing of a comma, in such wise that the participial clause: μετριοπαθεῖν δυνάμενος, connects itself immediately with the preceding clause of the design. The purpose of the author is not to mention the bare fact that the high priest presents gifts and sacrifices for the expiation of sins, but to dwell on the fact that he presents them as one who is capable of μετριοπαθεῖν.(71) ΄ετριοπαθεῖν δυνά΄ενος is therefore neither to be resolved into ἵνα δύνηται ΄ετρ. (Heinrichs), nor is it connected, by reason of a negligent participial construction, like λα΄βανό΄ενος with ἀρχιερεύς (Stengel), nor is it added merely “appendicis loco” (Böhme).

΄ετριοπαθεῖν] stands not in opposition to συ΄παθῆσαι, Hebrews 4:15, for the indication of a difference between the human high priest and the divine one (Tholuck); it is not, however, identical in meaning with συ΄παθεῖν (Oecumenius, Calvin, Seb. Schmidt, Baumgarten, Semler, Storr, Abresch, al.), but expresses a kindred notion. It is by virtue of its composition equivalent to μετρίως or κατὰ τὸ ΄έτρον πάσχειν, and is accordingly used of the moderating of one’s passions and feelings, as opposed to an unbridled surrender thereto, but also as opposed to that absolute ἀπάθεια which the Stoics demanded of the sage. Comp. Diogen. Laert. 5:31: ἔφη δέ (sc. Aristotle), τὸν σοφὸν μὴ εἶναι μὲν ἀπαθῆ, μετριοπαθῆ δέ. Further instances in Wetstein and Bleek. Here the moderation or tenderness in the judgment formed upon the errors of one’s neighbour is intended, as this is wont to arise from a sympathy with the unhappiness of the same which is produced by sin. Thus: to be tenderly disposed or equitable.

τοῖς ἀγνοοῦσιν καὶ πλανωμένοις] Dativus commodi: in consideration of the ignorant and erring. Lenient designation of sinners. Perhaps, however, designedly chosen (comp. also Hebrews 9:7 : ὑπὲρ ἑαυτοῦ καὶ τῶν τοῦ λαοῦ ἀγνοημάτων) in order to bring into relief only one species of sins, the sins of precipitancy and without premeditation, inasmuch as according to the Mosaic law the sacrificial expiation extended only to those who had sinned ἀκουσίως; those, on the other hand, who had sinned deliberately and with forethought were to be cut off from the congregation of Jehovah, Numbers 15:22-31; Leviticus 4:13 ff.

ἐπεὶ καὶ αὐτὸς περίκειται ἀσθένειαν] Confirmation of the δυνά΄ενος: since he indeed himself is encircled (as with a garment) by weakness (altogether beset with it). ἀσθένεια is to be understood, as Hebrews 7:28, of the ethical weakness, thus also actual sin, comprehended under this expression; comp Hebrews 5:3.

The construction περίλειμαί τι, which in the N. T. occurs likewise Acts 28:20, is genuine Greek; comp. Theocrit. Idyll. xxiii. 14: ὕβριν τᾶς ὀργᾶς περικείμενος Kühner, Gramm. II. p. 231; Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 215.


Verses 1-3

Hebrews 5:1-3. The first qualification: the capacity, as man, who himself is subject to human weakness, to deal leniently with erring humanity. To what extent and under what modification this characteristic of the earthly high priest is applicable also to Christ, is not discussed by the author in our passage. This might appear remarkable, since with respect to the second necessary qualification of the earthly high priest, further added Hebrews 5:4, the parallel relation in the case of Christ is expounded in detail from Hebrews 5:5 onwards. But yet there was no need of an express application to Christ, of that which was observed Hebrews 5:1-3. What the author had had to say with regard to this was already clear to the readers from the earlier disquisitions of the epistle itself. The element of the homogeneity of Christ with the Jewish high priest, namely, that He, like the Jewish high priest, can have sympathy with sinful man, since He had become in all points like unto men His brethren, had been fully traced out in the second chapter, and attention is called anew to it in Hebrews 4:15 by the δυνάμενον συμπαθῆσαι ταῖς ἀσθενείαις ἡμῶν and πεπειρασμένον κατὰ πάντα καθʼ ὁμοιότητα. The element of the dissimilarity, on the other hand, namely, that while the Jewish high priest had to offer for his own sins, Christ was without sin, is first brought prominently forward in Hebrews 4:15 by means of χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας, and, besides this, followed already from the exalted position the author had, in the opening chapters of the epistle, assigned to Christ as the Son of God.

That, in reality, also the paragraph Hebrews 5:7-10, no less than Hebrews 5:5-6, is subordinate to the second main consideration, expressed Hebrews 5:4, has been denied, it is true, by Beza, Schlichting, Hammond, Limborch, Storr, Delitzsch, Maier, Moll, and others. They are of opinion that from Hebrews 5:5 onwards an application of all the statements, Hebrews 5:1-4, to Christ ensues; that this, however, takes place in inverse order, so that Hebrews 5:5-6 refer back to Hebrews 5:4, Hebrews 5:7-8 to Hebrews 5:2, and finally, Hebrews 5:9-10 to Hebrews 5:1. The untenable character of such opinion is self-evident. For—(1) Hebrews 5:7-8 cannot have the design of applying to Christ that which was observed Hebrews 5:2, because only the parenthetic clause of Hebrews 5:7 ( δεήσειςεὐλαβείας) adapts itself to any extent to the contents of Hebrews 5:2, and this parenthetic clause stands in logical subordination to Hebrews 5:8 as the main point of the argument, consequently just Hebrews 5:8 and Hebrews 5:2 must present a similarity of contents, which is not the case. (2) That Hebrews 5:9-10 should be referred back to Hebrews 5:1 cannot be accepted as correct, because Hebrews 5:1 forms in itself no independent and complete statement, but stands in closest concatenation with Hebrews 5:2, so that only with this verse comes in what is for Hebrews 5:1 the all-essential point of nearer definition.

From the foregoing it results that the harmonizing view of Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 444, 447) is unwarranted. According to this view, Hebrews 5:7-8 are indeed, “in the first place,” or “formally,” a link in the demonstration that Christ did not become high priest by an act of arbitrary self-glorification, but as regards the “contents” or “tenor” form, “at the same time also an indication corresponding to Hebrews 5:1-3, and pointing out that Christ upon His path of suffering has passed through experiences which were adapted not only to make Him acquainted with the human ἀσθένεια, but also to prove in Him the capacity for the μετριοπάθεια.”

With Tholuck, for the rest, to take Hebrews 5:1-3 still in relation to the preceding chapter, as an antithesis to Hebrews 5:14, and to begin a new section with Hebrews 5:4, is not permissible. For a comparison of the main contents of Hebrews 5:1-3 with the main contents of Hebrews 4:15, points to the fact that the author designs to bring out a relation of resemblance and affinity. We cannot possibly, therefore, attach, with Tholuck, to the particle γάρ, Hebrews 5:1, the sense: “the distinction namely arises, that.” The consideration, moreover, presents itself, that Hebrews 5:4 can only appear in relation to Hebrews 5:1-3, alike as regards tenor of contents as with regard to its lax grammatical nexus, as a further co-ordinate link in an enumeration, before begun, of the qualifications essential to the character of every earthly high priest, consequently is not appropriate to the introduction of a section entirely separated from that which precedes.


Verses 1-10

Hebrews 5:1-10. Emphasizing of two main qualifications of the earthly high priest, in which Christ likewise is not wanting.


Verse 3

Hebrews 5:3. Logical consequence from the second half of Hebrews 5:2 The words form a merely incidental observation. They would be on that account better regarded as an independent statement than, with de Wette, Delitzsch, Hofmann (Schriftbew, II. 1, 2 Aufl. p. 397), and Woerner, thought of as still dependent on ἐπεί, Hebrews 5:2.

διʼ αὐτήν] sc. ἀσθένειαν. Quite untrue is the assertion that the feminine is used Hebraistically instead of the neuter, which even Bengel and others, with a mistaken appeal to Matthew 21:42 (see Meyer ad loc.), still hold to be possible.

ὀφείλει] Reference not, as is supposed by Böhme and Hofmann, l.c., to the precept in the law of Moses (Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 9:7; Leviticus 16:6, al.), but, as Hebrews 2:17, to the inner necessity arising from the nature of the case. Non-natural the view of Delitzsch and Moll, that both alike are intended.

προσφέρειν] stands, as Luke 5:14, Numbers 7:18, absolutely. With Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 434), to look upon περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν as definition of object to προσφέρειν is inadmissible, inasmuch as only the singular form περὶ ἁμαρτίας is employed to indicate the notion of “sin-offering” with the LXX., as also in our epistle. Comp. Reiche, Commentarius Criticus ad loc. p. 35.


Verse 4

Hebrews 5:4. The second necessary qualification: to be no usurper of the office, but one called of God to the same.

καί] Progress, not from Hebrews 5:3, nor yet from Hebrews 5:1, in such wise that λαμβάνει, Hebrews 5:4, should form a paronomasia with λαμβανόμενος, Hebrews 5:1 (Böhme, Bleek, Bisping, Alford, Maier), but from Hebrews 5:1-3.

And not to himself does any one take the honour (here under consideration), i.e. not any one appropriates or arrogates to himself the high-priestly dignity on his own authority. Comp. Xiphilinus, Galb. p. 187: νομίζων οὐκ εἰληφέναι τὴν ἀρχήν, ἀλλὰ δεδόσθαι αὐτῷ

ἀλλὰ καλούμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ] sc. λαμβάνει αὐτήν, he receives it. The λαμβάνει here to be supplied has consequently—what is wrongly denied by Delitzsch, Hofmann, and Woerner—another notion than the λαμβάνει before placed. This diversity of notion, nevertheless, comes out more strongly in German, where two different verbs must be chosen to indicate it, than in Greek, where one and the same verb combines both significations in itself.

καθώσπερ καὶ ἀαρών] sc. κληθεὶς ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ αὐτὴν εἴληφεν. These words still belong to that which precedes. They are unnaturally referred by Paulus to the sequel, as its protasis.

Aaron and his descendants were, according to Exodus 28:1; Exodus 29:4 ff., Leviticus 8:1 ff., Numbers 3:10; Numbers 3:16-18, called by God Himself to the high-priesthood. Comp. Bammidbar rabba, sec. 18, fol. 234. 4 (in Schöttgen and Wetstein): Moses ad Corachum ejusque socios dixit: si Aaron frater meus sibimet ipsi sacerdotium sumsit, recte egistis, quod contra ipsum insurrexistis; jam vero Deus id ipsi dedit, cujus est magnitudo et potentia et regnum. Quicumque igitur contra Aaronem surgit, contra ipsum Deum surgit. Not until the time of Herod and the Roman governors were high priests arbitrarily appointed and deposed, without respect to their descent from Aaron. Comp. Josephus, Antiq. xx. 10. 5; Winer, Bibl. Realwörterb. I. p. 591, 2 Aufl. That, however, as Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Abresch, and others conjecture, the author intended by the words of Hebrews 5:4 at the same time to indicate that the high priests of that period were no longer true high priests at all, since they had acquired their office at the hand of men, and in the way of venality, is not very probable, inasmuch as the author would otherwise have expressed himself more clearly with regard thereto.


Verse 5

Hebrews 5:5. In like manner also Christ appointed not Himself to be High Priest, but God the Father has appointed Him. The main emphasis in the verse falls upon οὐχ ἑαυτὸνἀλλʼ λαλήσας. With Hofmann for the rest (Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 398, 2 Aufl.), to take the opening words of the verse: οὕτως καὶ χριστός, separately as an independent clause, is not warranted on any ground. οὐχ ἑαυτὸν ἐδόξασεν γενηθῆναι ἀρχιερέα] He did not glorify (comp. John 8:54) Himself (arbitrarily encircle Himself with honour and glory) in order to be made a high priest.

ἐδόξασεν] is to be taken quite generally, so that it first acquires its nearer definition and completion, under the form of the intention, by means of γενηθῆναι ἀρχιερέα. See Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 298. The referring of the verb, with de Wette, specially to the glorification, mentioned Hebrews 2:9, is forbidden by the parallel relation to Hebrews 5:4, in that οὐχ ἑαντὸν ἐδόξασεν γενηθῆναι ἀρχιερέα manifestly corresponds exactly to the foregoing statement, οὐχ ἑαυτῷ τις λαμβάνει τὴν τιμήν. On account of this parallel relationship in itself, clearly indicated as it is above by the οὕτως καί, is the view of Hofmann too (Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 398 f. 2 Aufl.) entirely erroneous, namely, that οὐχ ἑαυτὸν ἐδόξασεν acquires its nearer defining of signification from Hebrews 5:7-8, in that this relative clause denotes the same thing as that negative clause, and consequently is to be brought into relief; not a path of self-glorification was it, but a path of anguish and suffering, by which Christ attained to glory. The violence done in this explanation is already shown, in the fact that the relative clause, Hebrews 5:7 ff., is logically subordinate to the οὐχ ἑαυτὸν ἐδόξασεν, as a farther demonstration of the truth thereof; and, moreover, in this relative clause the mention of the suffering of Christ forms not the main element, but only a subsidiary member.

ἀλλʼ λαλήσας πρὸς αὐτὸν κ. τ. λ.] sc. αὐτὸν ἐδόξασεν γενηθῆναι ἀρχιερέα. The participle aorist λαλήσας is anterior in point of time to the ἐδόξασεν. Thus λαλήσας: He who had said, sc. before the creation of the world; comp. Hebrews 1:1-3. Inasmuch as the connection with that which precedes, and the opposition οὐχ ἑαυτὸν ἀλλʼ λαλήσας, place it beyond doubt that the author can here only design to mention the person or authority by virtue of which Christ possesses His high-priesthood, it results that in the words υἱός μου εἰ σὺ κ. τ. λ. a proof for the fact that Christ is High Priest is not to be sought. Against Schlichting, Grotius, Hammond, Limborch, Whitby, Peirce, Stengel, Ebrard, Maier, and others. If it were here already a question with the author of adducing a proof, he would have written without an article ἀλλʼ θεὸς λαλήσας (“but God, in saying to Him,” etc.), instead of writing with the article ἀλλʼ λαλήσας. But why does not the author simply say θεός? Why does he employ the periphrasis of the idea of God by means of the words (already cited, Hebrews 1:5) from Psalms 2:7? In order to render already apparent, by this designation of God, how little ground can exist for surprise that He who occupies the rank of the Son of God should, moreover, also of God be appointed High Priest.


Verses 5-10

Hebrews 5:5-10. Demonstration of the presence of the qualification, mentioned Hebrews 5:4, in the case of Christ also.


Verse 6

Hebrews 5:6 now introduces the proof from Scripture that Christ, the Son of God, has also been appointed High Priest.

καθὼς καὶ ἐν ἑτέρῳ λέγει] as He (sc. God) accordingly speaks in another place of Scripture (namely Psalms 110:4; comp. Hebrews 1:13).

καί] belongs not to ἐν ἐτέρῳ, so that we should have to assume that the author has already found in the citation, Hebrews 5:5, a Scripture proof for the high-priesthood of Christ, and now in Hebrews 5:6 is adding thereto a second Scripture proof for the same thing (Schlichting, Ebrard, and others), but it belongs to the whole relative clause καθὼς λέγει, and is just the ordinary καί after a particle of comparison; comp. Hebrews 5:4. By means of this correct apprehension of the force of καί the objection is further set aside, that Hebrews 5:6, if a Scripture proof was first to be given in this place, must have been joined on to that which precedes simply with λέγων, as Hebrews 2:6, Hebrews 4:7, or with μαρτυρεῖ γάρ, as Hebrews 7:17 (Abresch), or with λέγει γάρ, or at least with καθώς without καί (Ebrard).

ἐν ἑτέρῳ] See on ἐν τούτῳ, Hebrews 4:5.

ἱερεύς] for the author equivalent to ἀρχιερεύς; comp. Hebrews 5:10; Hebrews 6:20. This equalization is likewise warranted. For Melchisedec (Genesis 14:18 ff.), with whom the person addressed is compared, was at the same time king and priest; but with the attributes of a king the attributes of an ordinary priest are irreconcilable; the character sustained by a superior or high priest alone comports therewith.

κατὰ τὴν τάξιν ΄ελχισεδέκ] not: in the time of succession (Schulz), but: after the order or manner ( עַל־דִּבְרָתִי) of Melchisedec, in such wise that thou obtainest the same position, the same character, as he possessed. Comp. Hebrews 7:15 : κατὰ τὴν ὁμοιότητα ΄ελχισεδέκ.

εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα] the author combines (contrary to the sense of the original) with ἱερεύς into a single idea, comp. Hebrews 7:3; Hebrews 7:8.


Verse 7

Hebrews 5:7. ὅς] refers back to the last main idea, thus to χριστός, Hebrews 5:5. The tempus finitum belonging thereto is ἔμαθεν, Hebrews 5:8, in that Hebrews 5:7-10 form a single period, resolving itself into two co-ordinate statements ( ὃς ἔμαθενκαὶ ἐγένετο). To connect the ὄς first with ἐγένετο, Hebrews 5:9 (so Abresch, Dindorf, Heinrichs, Stengel, and others), is impossible, since Hebrews 5:8 cannot be taken as a parenthesis.

ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ] in the days of His flesh, i.e. during the time of His earthly life. Theodoret: ἡμέρας δὲ σαρκὸς τὸν τῆς θνητότητος ἔφη καιρόν, τουτέστιν ἡνίκα θνητὸν εἶχε τὸ σῶμα. On the whole expression, comp. Hebrews 2:14; on αἱ ἡμέραι, in the more general sense of χρόνος, Hebrews 10:32, Hebrews 12:10. False, because opposed to the current linguistic use of σάρξ (Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 10:3; Philippians 1:22; Philippians 1:24; 1 Peter 4:2, al.), and because ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ obtains its opposition in τελειωθείς, Hebrews 5:9,—whereby, in general, the period of Christ’s life of humiliation is contrasted with the period of His life of exaltation,

Schlichting: what is specially meant is “tempus infirmitatis Christi, et praesertim illud, quo infirmitas ejus maxime apparuit … dies illi, quibus Christus est passus.” The note of time: ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ, however, is to be construed with the main verb ἔμαθεν, not with the participles προσενέγκας καὶ εἰσακουσθείς, which latter form a simply parenthetic clause.

As the occasion of this parenthetic clause δεήσειςεὐλαβείας,—in connection with which we have neither, with Theophylact, Peirce, Böhme, Bleek, de Wette, Bisping, Maier, Kurtz, and others, to derive the colouring of the linguistic expression from the author’s having respect to certain utterances of the Psalms (as Psalms 22:25 (24), ibid. Psalms 5:3 (2), Psalms 116:1 ff.), nor with Braun, Akersloot, Böhme, al., to suppose a reference to the loud praying of the Jewish high priest on the great day of atonement; neither is there an underlying comparison, as Hofmann (Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 399 f. 2 Aufl.) strangely supposes, of the supplication of Jesus, which He before (!) the learning of obedience offered for Himself as a sacrifice on account of weakness (!), with the sin-offering which, according to Hebrews 5:3, the Levitical high priest had on this day to present for himself before he could yet offer on behalf of the people,—the author has present to his mind, according to the prevailing and, beyond doubt, correct view, the prayer of Christ in Gethsemane, as this was made known to him by oral or written tradition. Comp. Matthew 26:36 ff.; Mark 14:32 ff.; Luke 22:39 ff. It is true we do not read in our Gospels that Christ at that time prayed to God μετὰ δακρύων. But, considering the great emotion of mind on the part of the Saviour, which is also described in the account given by our evangelists (comp. in particular, Matthew 26:37 : ἤρξατο λυπείσθαι καὶ ἀδημονεῖν; Mark 14:33 : ἤρξατο ἐκθαμβεῖσθαι καὶ ἀδημονεῖν; Luke 22:44 : καὶ γενόμενος ἐν ἀγωνίᾳ ἐκτενέστερον προσηύχετο ἐγένετο δὲ ἱδρῶς αὐτοῦ ὡσεὶ θρόμβοι αἵματος καταβαίνοντες ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν), that fact has nothing improbable about it; comp. also Luke 19:41; John 11:35. On account of the addition μετὰ κραυγῆς ἰσχυρᾶς, others will have us understand the loud crying of Christ upon the cross (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34), either, as Calvin, Cornelius a Lapide, Piscator, Owen, Limborch, Schulz, Stein, Stuart, Delitzsch, besides the prayer in Gethsemane, or, as Cajetan, Estius, Calov, Hammond, Kurtz, exclusively, or even, as Klee, the last cry, with which He departed (Matthew 27:50; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46). The supposition of such references we cannot, with de Wette (comp. also Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 70 f. 2 Aufl.), characterize as “entirely-unsuitable.” For de Wette’s objection, that the author “manifestly regarded the prayer as the preparation and condition of the ἔμαθε,” that it must “thus precede the suffering,” does not apply, since προσενέγκας is not to be resolved into “after,” but into “in that,” or “inasmuch as.” Not as “preparation and condition of the ἔμαθε” is the prayer looked upon by the author, but rather is the historic fact of the fervent prayer of Christ mentioned by him as an evidence that Christ in reality submitted Himself to God, even in the severest sufferings. For that which Hofmann (l.c. p. 67) objects hereto, that the author, if he had meant this, would have written: μαθὼν ἀφʼ ὧν ἔπαθεν τὴν ὑπακοὴν δεήσεις τε καὶ ἱκετηρίας προσήνεγκεν, is devoid of sense; because, by means of such a transposition, that which is merely a secondary statement would be made the main statement. Yet the supposing of such references is not necessary, since also the plural δεήσεις τε καὶ ἱκετηρίας, to which appeal has been made, is sufficiently explained by the repetitions of the prayer in the garden of Gethsemane.

To ἱκετηρία, which conjoined with δέησις further occurs LXX. Job 40:22 (27), as also with the classic writers, ἐλαία or ῥάβδος (not κλάδος) is originally to be supplemented, inasmuch as it denotes the olive branch which the supplicant pleading for protection bore in his hand. Later it acquired like signification with ἱκετεία or ἱκεσία. It implies thus the prostrate or urgent entreaty of one seeking refuge. As an intensifying of δέησις it is rightly placed after this.

πρὸς τὸν δυνάμενον σώζειν αὐτὸν ἐκ θανάτου] is most naturally referred to προσενέγκας (so Calvin, Abresch, al.). To the connecting with δεήσεις τε καὶ ἱκετηρίας (Böhme, Bleek, de Wette, Delitzsch, Alford, Maier, Moll) we are forced neither by the position before μετὰ κραυγῆς ἰσχυρᾶς, nor by the fact of the combination of προσφέρειν with the dative being chosen elsewhere in the epistle (Hebrews 9:14, Hebrews 11:4), as it is also the more usual one with classical writers, since likewise the conjoining with πρός is nothing out of the way. Comp. e.g. Polyb. iv. 51. 2 : προσενεγκάμενοι πρὸς τὸν ἀχαιὸν (equivalent to τῷ ἀχαιῷ) τὴν χάριν ταύτην. In the characteristic of God as the One who was able to deliver Christ from death, there lies, at the same time, the indication of that which Christ implored of God. σώζειν ἐκ θανάτου, however, may denote one of two things, either: to save from death, in such wise that it needs not to be undergone, thus to preserve from death, or: to save out of the death to which one is exposed, so that one does not remain the prey of death, but is restored to life. In favour of the former interpretation seems to plead the fact that Christ, according to the account in the Gospels, in reality prayed that He might be spared the suffering of death. Nevertheless what decides against this, and in favour of the second, is the consideration, in the first place, that Christ in reality still suffered death, and then the addition in our verse that the prayer of Christ was answered. And then, finally, we have to take into account the fact that, according to our Gospels also, Christ does not pray absolutely to be preserved from death, but makes this His wish dependent upon the will of the Father, thus entirely subordinates Himself to the Father.

καὶ εἰσακουσθεὶς ἀπὸ τῆς εὐλαβείας] and being heard by reason of His piety, or fear of God. In this sense is εὐλάβεια (cf. Hebrews 12:28) rightly taken by Chrysostom, Photius, Oecumenius, Theophylact, the Vulgate (pro sua reverentia), Vigil. Taps., Primasius, Lyra, Luther, Castellio, Camerarius, Estius, Casaubon, Calov, Seb. Schmidt, Calmet, Rambach; Heinrichs, Schulz, Bleek, Bisping, Delitzsch, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 327), Alford, Reuss, Maier, Moll, Kurtz, and others.(72) ἀπό, as an indication of the occasioning cause, is also of very frequent occurrence elsewhere; cf. Matthew 28:4; Luke 19:3; Luke 24:41; John 21:6; Acts 12:14; Acts 20:9; Acts 22:11; Kühner, Gramm. II. p. 270. Christ, however, was heard in His prayer, inasmuch as He was raised out of death, exalted to the right hand of God, and made partaker of the divine glory. To be rejected is the explanation of the word preferred by Ambrose, Calvin, Beza, Cameron, Scaliger, Schlichting, Grotius, Owen, Hammond, Limborch, “Wolf, Bengel, Wetstein, Whitby, Carpzov, Abresch, Böhme, Kuinoel, Paulus, Klee, Stuart, Stein, Ebrard, Bloomfield, Grimm (Theol. Literaturbl. to the Darmstadt A. K.-Z. 1857, No. 29, p. 665), Hofmann (Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 69, 2 Aufl.), and many others, according to which a pregnancy of meaning is assumed for the same, and εὐλάβεια is interpreted in the sense of “metus:” “heard (and delivered) from the fear.” There is then found expressed in it either the thought (and this is the common acceptation) that Christ was delivered from His agony of soul by the strengthening on the part of the angel, Luke 22:43, or εὐλάβεια is understood by metonymy of the object of the fear, i.e. death, from which Christ was delivered by the resurrection. So, among others, Calvin: “exauditum fuisse Christum ex eo, quod timebat, ne scilicet malis obrutus succumberet, vel morte absorberetur;” and Schlichting: “a metu i. e. ab eo, quod metuebat, nimirum morte.” But against the first modification of this view pleads the fact that the being heard must refer to the same thing as that for which Christ had prayed, but from that which precedes it is evident that Christ had besought God not for deliverance from the agony of soul, but for deliverance from death. Against both modifications pleads the fact that the strong signification of fear is never expressed by εὐλάβεια. Only the mild signification of timidity or awe (whether reverential awe of the Godhead, i.e. piety, or shyness of earthly things), as well as the notion arising from that of timidity, namely heedfulness, discretion, circumspectness in arranging that which is adapted to the bringing about of a definite result, lies in the word; as accordingly also the Greeks themselves, particularly the Stoics, expressly distinguished from each other φόβος and εὐλάβεια, and pronounced φόβος to be worthy of reprobation; εὐλάβεια, on the other hand, to be a duty. See the instances in Bleek. Nor. do the passages anew adduced by Grimm, l.c., Wisdom of Solomon 17:8, 2 Maccabees 8:16, Sirach 41:3, in which the word is supposed to be used in the sense of fear, and the demonstrative force of which is acknowledged by Delitzsch (p. 190, and Observer and Correctt.), Riehm (l.c.), and Moll, prove what they are thought to prove. For in the first-mentioned passage we have to understand by κατεγέλαστος εὐλάβεια the perverted, idolatrous, and therefore ridiculous religious awe of the Egyptian magicians; the second passage is only a dissuasive against standing in any awe of the outward superiority in force of the hostile army; and the third, finally, against feeling any awe of death, since this is the common lot of all men. The notion of mere awe, however, is, on account of the preceding strong expressions, ΄ετὰ κραυγῆς ἰσχυρᾶς καὶ δακρύων, unsuited to our passage.(73) In addition to this, the assumed constructio praegnans in connection with a verb like εἰσακουσθῆναι is, in any case, open to doubt, and is not yet at all justified by the alleged parallels which have been adduced, namely Psalms 22:22 (21) ( וּמִקַּרְנֵי רֵמִים עֲנִיתָנִי, which, however, the LXX. did not understand, and reproduced without pregnancy); LXX. Job 35:12 ( ἐκεῖ κεκράξονται καὶ οὐ μὴ εὐσακούσῃ [ καὶ] ἀπὸ ὕβρεως πονηρῶν, where, however, ἀπὸ κ. τ. λ., as in the Hebrew, refers back to the first verb); Psalms 118:5 ( καὶ ἐπήκουσέ μου εἰς πλατυσμὸν κύριος); Hebrews 10:22 ( ἐῤῥαντισμένοι τὰς καρδίας ἀπὸ συνειδήσεως πονηρᾶς).

The addition καὶ εἰσακουσθεὶς ἀπὸ τῆς εὐλαβείας contains, for the rest, logically regarded, merely a parenthetic remark, called forth only by the contents of the foregoing participial clause.


Verses 7-10

Hebrews 5:7-10. Further proof—accessory to the Scripture testimony, Hebrews 5:6—that Christ did not on His own authority usurp to Himself the high-priesthood, but was invested with the same by God. Far removed from all self-exaltation, He displayed in His earthly life the most perfect obedience towards God. In consequence thereof He became, after His consummation and glorification, the Procurer (Vermittler) of everlasting blessedness for all believers, and was appointed by God High Priest after the manner of Melchisedec.

We have to reject the explanation—mainly called forth by the expression προσενέγκας (compared with Hebrews 5:1; Hebrews 5:3)—of Schlichting, Calov, Seb. Schmidt, Braun, Limborch, Akersloot, Cramer, Baumgarten, Heinrichs, Böhme, Klee, Bloomfield, and others, according to which the design in Hebrews 5:7-10 is to show that Christ already discharged the functions of the high-priestly office during His earthly life, in that He offered prayers as sacrifices to God. For evidently the main gist of Hebrews 5:7-10 lies in the words of Hebrews 5:8 : ἔμαθεν ἀφʼ ὧν ἔπαθεν τὴν ὑπακοήν, to which the statements Hebrews 5:9-10 attach themselves only for the completion of the figure traced out Hebrews 5:7-8, and for leading back to Hebrews 5:6. But by the fact that Christ manifested obedience, it cannot by any means be shown that He was already executing the office of High Priest.

Quite mistaken also is the opinion of Kurtz, that, Hebrews 5:7-10, a “third requirement of the Levitical high-priesthood, namely, obedience to the will of Him that founded it” (?), is shown to be satisfied in Christ. For neither does the form of the grammatical annexing of Hebrews 5:7 to that which precedes point in any way to the conclusion that the author designed to string on to the two necessary qualifications of the earthly high priest yet a third one of equal value; nor, as regards the import, is anything else to be found in Hebrews 5:7-8 than a wider unfolding of the foregoing statement, οὐχ ἑαυτὸν ἀδοξάσεν γενηθῆναι ἀρχιερέα, Hebrews 5:5.


Verse 8

Hebrews 5:8. καίπερ ὢν υἱός] belongs together. With Heinrichs and others, to construe καίπερ with ἔμαθεν, and in this way to enclose Hebrews 5:8 within a parenthesis, is forbidden by the grammar, since καίπερ is never combined with a tempus finitum. καίπερ ὢν υἱός, however, is to be connected neither, by virtue of an hyperbaton, with δεήσειςπροσενέγκας, which Photius (in Oecumenius) and Clarius consider permissible, but which is already shown to be impossible by means of the addition καὶ εἰσακουσθεὶς ἀπὸ τῆς εὐλαβείας, nor yet with καὶ εἰσακουσθεὶς ἀπὸ τῆς εὐλαβείας itself (Chrysostom, Theophylact). For against the latter καίπερ is decisive, according to which the property of Sonship is insisted on as something in consequence of which the main statement might appear strange; it is not, however, strange, but, on the contrary, congruent with nature, if any one is heard by the Father on account of his sonship. καίπερ ὢν υἱός belongs, therefore, to ἔμαθεν ἀφʼ ὧν ἔπαθεν τὴν ὑπακοήν, and serves to bring the same into relief by way of contrast. Notwithstanding the fact that Christ was a Son, He learned from suffering (learned, in that He suffered) obedience, resignation to the will of the Father. Comp. Philippians 2:6-8.

The article before ὑπακοήν marks the definite virtue of obedience. The article here cannot denote, as Hofmann will maintain (Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 72, 2 Aufl.), the obedience “already present,” or the obedience “in which Jesus stood.” For, on the one hand, there must then have been previous mention of the obedience of Jesus, which is not the case; and then, on the other hand, we cannot any longer predicate the learning of a virtue of one in whom this virtue is already present. But altogether, that which Hofmann brings out as the import of Hebrews 5:8 is a wonderful Quid pro quo. Instead of recognising, to wit, in Hebrews 5:7-8 the sharply and clearly defined leading statement: ὃς ἐν ταῖς μέραις τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦἔμαθεντὴν ὑπακοήν in itself, and in its simply confirmatory relation to οὐχ ἑαυτὸν ἐδόξασεν, Hebrews 5:5, Hofmann will have the stress to be laid upon the subsidiary defining note ἀφʼ ὧν ἔπαθεν, and then, moreover, make the whole weight of the words: καίπερ ὢν υἱός, fall upon that same ἀφʼ ὧν ἔπαθεν! In this way the thought expressed in Hebrews 5:8 is, forsooth: that Jesus afterwards (!) suffered that (!) for the averting of which He had made entreaty. The special point is not that He learnt anything as Son, nor that He learnt obedience (?!). He did not learn to obey, but the obedience in which He stood, He now (!) or in a new manner (!) so learnt, as it should there (!) be exercised, where (!) it was a question (!) of suffering. And this is to be taken as the meaning, in spite of the fact—apart from all other arbitrary assumptions—that we have ἀφʼ ὧν ἔπαθεν written, and not even ἐν οἷς ἔπαθεν, which at least must be expected as a support for such an exposition as that?

ἔμαθεν] The disposition of obedience Christ possessed even before the suffering. But this needed, in order to become vouched for, to be tested in action. And this continued development of the disposition of obedience into the act of obedience is nothing else than a practical learning of the virtue of obedience.

ἀπό with μανθάνειν, as Matthew 24:32; Matthew 11:29, denoting the starting-point.

ἀφʼ ὧν ἔπαθεν] well-known attraction in place of ἀπʼ ἐκείνων ἔπαθεν.

The combination ἔμαθενἔπαθεν is also of frequent occurrence with the classic writers and with Philo. Comp. Herod. i. 207: τὰ δέ μοι παθήματα, ἐόντα ἀχάριστα, μαθήματα γέγονεν; Soph. Trach. 142 f.: ὡς δʼ ἐγὼ θυμοφθαρῶ, μήτʼ ἐκμάθοις παθοῦσα; Xenoph. Cyrop. iii. 1. 17: πάθημα ἄρα τῆς ψνχῆς σὺ λέγεις εἶναι τὴν σωφροσύνην, ὥσπερ λύπην, οὐ μάθημα; Philo, de speciall. legg. 6 (with Mangey, II. p. 340): ἵνʼ ἐκ τοῦ παθεῖν μάθῃ. Many other instances in Wetstein.


Verse 9

Hebrews 5:9. καὶ τελειωθείς] and being brought to consummation, i.e. being crowned with glory by His exaltation to heaven (comp. Hebrews 2:9-10), sc. in consequence of the obedience to God proved by His sufferings and death.

ἐγένετο] He became. Author and Mediator of everlasting blessedness for His believers, Christ certainly was even during His earthly life. But in an eminent manner, because formally and manifestly accredited by God as such, He became so first by His resurrection and exaltation.

πᾶσιν] perhaps added in order to indicate the equal claim of the believing Gentiles also, to the salvation in Christ.

τοῖς ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ] The expression attaches itself in point of form to τὴν ὑπακοήν, Hebrews 5:8, with which it forms a paronomasia; in point of subject-matter it is not different from τοῖς πιστεύουσιν (Hebrews 4:3). Comp. Romans 10:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8, al.

The mode of expression: αἴτιόν τινι εἶναι σωτηρίας (comp. τὸν ἀρχηγὸν τῆς σωτηρίας αὐτῶν, Hebrews 2:10), is also often met with in Philo, Josephus, and the classical writers. Instances in Wetstein, Kypke, and Bleek.

The adjective αἰώνιος with σωτηρία in the N. T. only here. Comp., however, LXX. Isaiah 45:17.


Verse 10

Hebrews 5:10 is not to be separated from Hebrews 5:9 by a colon, and to be referred back to all that precedes, from Hebrews 5:7 onwards (Böhme). On the contrary, the statement connects itself closely with Hebrews 5:9, in that it contains an elucidation of the αἴτιος σωτηρίας αἰωνίου there found. Christ became for all believers author of everlasting blessedness, in that He was saluted (or named) of God as High Priest after the manner of Melchisedec. That is to say: In order to become the mediate cause of salvation for others, Christ must be the possessor of high-priestly dignity; but this was ascribed to Him on the part of God in the utterance from the psalm, already cited in Hebrews 5:6. Bengel: προσηγορία, appellatio sacerdotis, non solum secuta est consummationem Jesu, sed antecessit etiam passionem, tempore Psalms 110:4.

To appoint or constitute (Casaubon: constitutus; Schulz: proclaimed, publicly declared or appointed; Stengel: declared, appointed; Bloomfield: being proclaimed and constituted) προσαγορεύειν, a ἅπαξ λεγόμενον in the N. T., never means; but only to address, salute, name.


Verse 11

Hebrews 5:11. περὶ οὗ] sc. χριστοῦ ἀρχιερέως κατὰ τὴν τάξιν ΄ελχισεδέκ. To this total-conception, as is also recognised by Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 780), is περὶ οὗ to be referred back. We have to supplement not merely χριστοῦ (Oecumenius, Primasius, Justinian), because that would be a far too general defining of the object, inasmuch as confessedly the discourse is not first about Christ in the sequel, but everywhere throughout the epistle. But neither is ΄ελχισεδέκ to be supplied to οὗ (Peshito, Calvin [Piscator hesitates between this and the following application], Owen, Schöttgen, Peirce, Semler, Chr. Fr. Schmid, Bleek, de Wette, Tholuck, Alford, Maier, al.). For even though—a fact to which Bleek appeals—the author, after having concluded the digression (Hebrews 7:1 f.), begins by characterizing this same Melchisedec, yet this description is subordinated to a higher aim, that of setting forth the high-priestly dignity of Christ; as surely also the reference of Hebrews 7:1 ff. to the close of the digression (Hebrews 6:20) clearly shows, since the former is represented by γάρ as only the development now begun of the main consideration: ἰησοῦς κατὰ τὴν τάξιν ΄ελχισεδὲκ ἀρχιερεὺς γενόμενος εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, taken up anew, Hebrews 6:20. To take οὗ as a neuter, with Grotius, Cramer, Storr, Abresch, Böhme, Kuinoel, Klee, Stein, Stengel, Bisping, Delitzsch, Kurtz, and others, and to refer it to the high-priesthood of Christ after Melchisedec’s manner,—according to which οὗ would thus have to be resolved into περὶ τοῦ προσαγορευθῆναι αὐτὸν ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ ἀρχιερέα κατὰ τὴν τάξιν ΄ελχισεδέκ,—is possible indeed, but not so natural as when it is taken as a masculine, since the discourse in that which precedes was about the definite person of Christ.

πολὺς ἡμῖν λόγος] sc. ἐστίν. Wrongly, because otherwise ἂμ εἴη must have been added, and because a detailed development of the subject really follows afterwards; Peshito, Erasmus, Luther, and others: concerning which we should have much to speak.

καί] and indeed.

λέγειν] belongs to δυσερμήνευτος. Heinrichs erroneously joins it with ἡμῖν λόγος.

Even on account of the connectedness of the λέγειν with δυσερμήνευτος, but also on account of the preceding ἡμῖν, followed by no ὑμῖν, it is inadmissible, with Jac. Cappellus, Grotius, Peirce, Chr. Fr. Schmid, Valckenaer, Kuinoel, and others, to suppose the difficulty of the exposition or rendering intelligible of the λόγος to exist on the part of the readers, and thus to interpret δυσερμήνευτος in the sense of δυσνόητος, 2 Peter 3:16. On the contrary, as the author has abundant material for discoursing on the subject announced, so is it also difficult for the author to render himself intelligible thereon to the readers. The ground of this difficulty which obtains for him is introduced by the clause with ἐπεί, which on that account is to be referred only to δυσερμήνευτος λέγειν, not at the same time (Hofmann) to πολὺς ἡμῖν λόγος. For the rest, Storr and Bleek have already rightly remarked, that in the connecting of λόγος with the two predicates πολύς and δυσερμήνευτος a sort of zeugma is contained, inasmuch as λόγος is to be taken in relation to the first predicate actively,(74) in relation to the second passively. On the high-priesthood of Christ after the manner of Melchisedec, the author has much to speak; and truly it is difficult for him to make plain to his readers the contents or subject of his discourse.

γεγόνατε] characterizes the spiritual sluggishness or dulness of the readers not as something which was originally inherent in them, but only as something which afterwards manifested itself in connection with them. Chrysostom: τὸ γὰρ εἰπεῖν ἐπεὶ νωθροὶ γεγόνατε ταῖς ἀκοαῖς δηλοῦντος ἦν, ὅτι πάλαι ὑγίαινον καὶ ἦσαν ἰσχυροί, τῇ προθυμίᾳ ζέοντες, καὶ ὕστερον αὐτοὺς τοῦτο παθεῖν μαρτυρεῖ.

νωθρός] in the N. T. only here and Hebrews 6:12.

ταῖς ἀκοαῖς] with regard to the hearing, i.e. the spiritual faculty of comprehension. Comp. Philo, Quis rer. divin. haeres. p. 483 (with Mangey, I. p. 474): ἐν ἀψύχοις ἀνδριάσιν, οἷς ὦτα μέν ἐστιν, ἀκοαὶ δὲ οἰκ ἔνεισιν. The plural is used, inasmuch as the discourse is of a multitude of persons. On the dative, instead of which the accusative might have been placed, comp. Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 202.


Verse 12

Hebrews 5:12. Justification of the reproach: νωθροὶ γεγόνατε ταῖς ἀκοαῖς, Hebrews 5:11.

καὶ γὰρ ὀφείλοντες εἶναι διδάσκαλοι] for when ye ought to have been teachers. καί gives intensity to the ὀφείλοντες εἶναι διδάσκαλοι. Comp. 2 Corinthians 3:10, al. Arbitrarily Bloomfield (ed. 8), according to whom an intermediate link is to be supplied in connection with καὶ γάρ: “[And such ye are,] for though ye ought, according to the time, to be teachers,” etc.

διὰ τὸν χρόνον] by reason of the space of time, i.e. because already so considerable a space of time has passed since ye became Christians. In like manner is διὰ τὸν χρόνον often employed by classical writers. Comp. e.g. Aelian, Var. Hist. iii. 37: οἱ πάνυ παρʼ αὐτοῖς γεγηρακότεςπίνουσι κώνειον, ὅταν ἑαυτοῖς συνειδῶσιν, ὅτι πρὸς τὰ ἔργα τὰ τῇ πατρίδι λυσιτελοῦντα ἄχρηστοί εἰσιν, ὑποληρούσης ἤδη τι αὐτοῖς καὶ τῆς γνώμης διὰ τὸν χρόνον.

As regards that which follows, there is a controversy as to whether we have to accentuate τίνα or τινά. The word is taken as an interrogative particle by the Peshito and Vulgate, Augustine, Tract. 98 in Joh.; Schlichting, Grotius, Owen, Wolf, Bengel, Abresch, Schulz, Kuinoel, Klee, de Wette, Tischendorf, Stengel, Bloomfield, Conybeare, Delitzsch, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 780; Reuss, Maier, Moll, Kurtz, Ewald, Hofmann, and the majority. As an indefinite pronoun, on the other hand, it is taken by Oecumenius, Luther, Calvin, Peirce, Cramer, Heinrichs, Böhme, Lachmann, Stuart, Bleek, Ebrard, Bisping, Alford, Woerner, and others. The latter alone grammatically possible. For in the opposite case, since the subject is a varying one in the tempus finitum ( χρείαν ἔχετε) and the infinitive ( διδάσκειν), either the infinitive passive must be written, τοῦ διδάσκεσθαι ὑμᾶς, or to the infinitive active a special accusative of the subject (perhaps ἐμέ) must be further added. Nor is 1 Thessalonians 4:9 decisive in opposition hereto, since there the reading of Lachmann: οὐ χρείαν ἔχομεν γράφειν ὑμῖν, is the only correct one. See, besides, the remarks in my Commentary on the Thessalonians, ad loc. [E. T. p. 118 f.]. As, moreover, in a grammatical respect, so also in a logical respect is the accentuation τίνα to be rejected. For upon the adopting thereof the thought would arise, that the readers anew required instruction upon the question: which articles are to be reckoned among the στοιχεῖα τῆς ἀρχῆς τῶν λογίων τοῦ θεοῦ, or else: of what nature these are. But manifestly the author is only complaining—as is plain also from the explicative clause: καὶ γεγόνατε κ. τ. λ.—of the fact that the readers, who ought long ago to have been qualified for instructing others, themselves still needed to be instructed in the στοιχεῖα. While, for the rest, de Wette and Riehm erroneously find in the indefinite τινά “too strong a signification,” Delitzsch is equally mistaken in characterizing it as “unmeaning” and “flat.” With justice does Alford remark, in opposition to the last-named: “So far from τινά, some one, being, as Delitzsch most absurdly says, ‘matt und nichtssagend,’ it carries with it the fine keen edge of reproach; q. d. to teach you what all know, and any can teach.”

ὑμᾶς] preposed to the τινά, in order to bring into the more marked relief the antithesis to εἶναι διδάσκαλοι.

The notion of rudimenta already existing in τὰ στοιχεῖα is made yet more definitely prominent by the genitive τῆς ἀρχῆς (Calvin: “quo plus incutiat pudoris”). Thus: the very first primary grounds or elements. Analogous is the use of the Latin prima rudimenta, Justin. vii.5; Liv. Hebrews 1:3; prima elementa, Horace, Serm. i. 1. 26; Quintil. i. 1. 23, 35; Ovid, Fast. iii. 179.

τῶν λογίων τοῦ θεοῦ] of the utterances of God. Comp. Acts 7:38; 1 Peter 4:11; Romans 3:2. What is intended is the saving revelations of Christianity, which God has caused to be proclaimed as His word. To think of the Old Testament prophecies, and their interpretation and reference to the Christian relations (Peirce, Chr. Fr. Schmid, Schulz, Stengel, and others; comp. also Hofmann and Woerner ad loc.), is inadmissible; since the expression τὰ λόγια τοῦ θεοῦ, in consideration of its generality, always acquires its nearer defining of meaning only from the context, while here, that which was, Hebrews 5:12, mentioned as τὰ στοιχεῖα τῆς ἀρχῆς τῶν λογίων τοῦ θεοῦ, is immediately after (Hebrews 6:1) designated τῆς ἀρχῆς τοῦ χριστοῦ λόγος.

γεγόνατε] reminds anew, even as the preceding πάλιν, of the earlier more gladdening spiritual condition of the readers.

γάλακτος καὶ οὐ στερεᾶς τροφῆς] On the figure, comp. 1 Corinthians 3:2 : γάλα ὑμᾶς ἐπότισα, οὐ βρῶμα. Philo, de Agricult. p. 188 (with Mangey, I. p. 301): ἐπεὶ δὲ νηπίοις μέν ἐστι γάλα τροφή, τελείοις δὲ τὰ ἐκ πυρῶν πέμματα, καὶ ψυχῆς γαλακτώδεις μὲν ἂν εἶεν τροφαὶ κατὰ τὴν παιδικὴν ἡλικίαν, τὰ τῆς ἐγκυκλίου μουσικῆς προπαιδεύματα· τέλειαι δὲ καὶ ἀνδράσιν εὐπρεπεῖς αἱ διὰ φρονήσεως καὶ σωφροσύνης καὶ ἁπάσης ἀρετῆς ὑφηγήσεις. Quod omnis probus liber, p. 889 A (II. p. 470), al.

By the milk, the author understands the elementary instruction in Christianity; by the solid food, the more profound disclosures with regard to the essence of Christianity, for the understanding of which a Christian insight already more matured is called for, In connection with the former, he thinks of the doctrinal topics enumerated Hebrews 6:1-2 (not, as Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Primasius, Clarius, and others suppose, of the doctrine of the humanity of Christ in contradistinction from that of His Godhead, which is foreign to the context); in connection with the latter, mainly of the subject, just the treatment of which will pre-eminently occupy him in the sequel,—the high-priesthood of Christ after the manner of Melchisedec.

The statement of Hebrews 5:12 has been urged by Mynster (Theol. Stud. u. Krit. 1829, H. 2, p. 338), Ebrard, and others, in proof that the Epistle to the Hebrews cannot have been addressed to the Palestinean congregations, particularly not to the congregation at Jerusalem. The tenor of the verse might, it is true, appear strange, considering that the congregation at Jerusalem was the parent congregation of all the others, and out of its midst had proceeded the most distinguished teachers of Christianity. Nevertheless this last fact is not at all called in question by the statement of the verse. For the author has present to his mind the condition of the congregation as it was in his own time; he is addressing—in favour of which also διὰ τὸν χρόνον pronounces—a second generation of Palestinean Christianity. The narrow-minded tendency, however, which this second generation had assumed, instead of advancing in its growth to the recognition of the freedom and universality of Christianity as the most perfect religion, might well justify with regard to it the utterance of a reproach such as we here meet with. Only thus much follows from the words,—what is also confirmed by Hebrews 13:7,—that when the author wrote, James the Lord’s brother had already been torn from the congregation at Jerusalem by death, since he would otherwise certainly have written in another tone.


Verse 13-14

Hebrews 5:13-14. Establishing of the γεγόνατε χρείαν ἔχοντες γάλακτος καὶ οὐ στερεᾶς τροφῆς, Hebrews 5:12. Sense: for it is universally characteristic of him who (in a spiritual respect) has need of milk, that he is, because not of ripe age, still inexperienced in the λόγος δικαιοσύνης; and this is just your case. Solid food, on the other hand, is proper only for the τέλειοι; τέλειοι, however, ye are not yet. In connection with this acceptation of the words, there is no occasion for finding anything out of place in the γάρ in relation to that which precedes, and either, with Storr, making it co-ordinate with the γάρ, Hebrews 5:12, and referring it back like this to Hebrews 5:11,—which on account of the figure Hebrews 5:13-14, retained from Hebrews 5:12, is already seen to be inadmissible,—or for saying, with Bleek and Bisping, that the progress of thought would come out more naturally if the author had written: πᾶς γὰρ ἄπειρος λόγου δικαιοσύνης μετέχει γάλακτος· νήπιος γάρ ἐστιν.

μετέχων γάλακτος] he who (in a spiritual respect) partakes of milk, i.e. only in this possesses his nourishment, is not in a position to take in solid food. Bengel: Lacte etiam robusti vescuntur, sed non lacte praecipue, nedum lacte solo. Itaque notantur hoc loco ii, qui nil denique nisi lac aut capiunt aut petunt.

ἄπειρος λόγου δικαιοσύνης] sc. ἐστίν, he is still inexperienced in the word of righteousness. Expositors have almost without exception been guided by the presupposition (as also Bleek, de Wette, Tholuck, Kurtz still are) that λόγος δικαιοσύνης is only a varying form of expression for the same idea as is expressed, Hebrews 5:12; Hebrews 5:14, by στερεὰ τροφή, or, Hebrews 6:1, by τελειότης. λόγος δικαιοσύνης has then either been taken as equivalent to λόγος δίκαιος or τέλειος, and the higher, more perfect type of doctrine found indicated in the expression. So Schlichting (“sermo justitiae videtur positus pro sermone justo, h. e. perfecto ac solido”), Grotius (“Hic δικαιοσύνης dixit pro τελειότητος … et genitivus est pro adjective”), Abresch (“doctrina vel institutio justa, h. e. perfecta, plena, omnia complectens, quae ad perspicuam distinctamque pertineant doctrinae Christianae intelligentiam”), Schulz (“that true [rightly so called] higher doctrine”), Kuinoel, Bisping, Kurtz, and many others. Or δικαιοσύνης has been more correctly regarded as genitive of the object. In the latter case δικαιοσύνη is taken either, as Michaelis, ad Peirc., with an appeal to the Hebrew צְדָקָה, in the sense of ἀλήθεια, δικαιοσύνης is taken to mean: “the faculty of speaking in accordance with righteousness,” i.e. the “discourse on spiritual things which is guided in strict accord with the norm of the true, and harmoniously combines all the factors of the case, proportionately regarded, without leaving one of them out of sight;” and in ver. 13 is supposed to be contained the following “most rigid connection of ideas:” “he who must still receive milk is still ignorant of rightly-constituted, i.e. right-teaching or orthodox, discourse; for he is a child only beginning to lisp, and not yet capable of speech.” This strange view, based upon the incomprehensible grounds, that “since νήπιος (from νη and ἔπος) denotes one incapable of speech, an infant, there is a presumption in favour of λόγος in ἄπειρος λόγου δικαιοσύνης having the signification of faculty of speech,—and this signification is here the more probable in regard to the αἰσθησήρια occurring in the antithetic parallel clause, inasmuch as λόγος, in the sense of language, is met with countless times in Philo along with the αἴσθησις or the πέντε αἰσθήσεις, of which the organs are known as αἰσθητήρια,”—bears its refutation upon the face of it. It is not at all suitable to the connection, as Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 734) and Alford have already observed; since according to this there is no question as to the faculty for speaking on spiritual subjects, but only as to the faculty for understanding the same.—As “discourse” will Hofmann also have λόγος interpreted, in that he fully subtilizes the notion lying in δικαιοσύνη, and finds indicated by the total expression λόγος δικαιοσύνης only “correct discourse.” For, according to him, the words ver. 13 are used in their most literal sense, and allude to the fact that he who is still fed with milk at the maternal breast is as yet no judge of correct discourse!">(75) as the doctrine of the essence of the matter itself, in opposition to the typical figures thereof; or λόγος δικαιοσύνης is understood specially, as by Oecumenius, of the λόγος περὶ τῆς θεότητος τοῦ κυρίου, or, as by Carpzov, of the: “doctrina de sacerdotio Jesu Christi Melchisedeciano, quae dicitur λόγος δικαιοσύνης propterea, quia Melchisedecus, vi nominis, βασιλεὺς δικαιοσύνης vertitur, Hebrews 7:2, eaque appellatio ad Christum sacerdotem applicatur, cujus πρέπον fuit πληρῶσαι πᾶσαν δικαιοσύνην, Matthew 3:15;” or the words are made to refer, as by Primasius, Zeger, Bengel, de Wette, and others, to intellectual and moral perfection in general, as also already Chrysostom, who explains the expression by ἄνω φιλοσοφία (and after him Theophylact), leaves us the choice of understanding the βίος ἄκρος καὶ ἠκριβω΄ένος (according to Matthew 5:20), or τὸν χριστὸν καὶ τὸν ὑψηλὸν περὶ αὐτοῦ λόγον. But the fundamental presupposition, out of which all these interpretations have sprung, is an erroneous one. For the emphasis falls not upon λόγος δικαιοσύνης, but upon the ἄπειρος, on that account preposed. Not for a non-possession of the λόγος δικαιοσύνης, but only for a want of experience in the same, only for an insufficient, schoolboy’s knowledge of it, does the author blame the readers. The λόγος δικαιοσύνης in itself, therefore, stands as indifferently related to the notion of the στερεὰ τροφή or τελειότης as to the notion of the στοιχεῖα, to which Ebrard reckons it. Only by the more or less exhaustive imparting of its subject-matter does it become the one or the other. For the word of righteousness is nothing more than a periphrasis of Christianity or the gospel, inasmuch as just the righteousness availing with God(76) is the central-point of its contents. Quite analogous to this mode of designation is the Pauline characterization of the gospel office of teaching by διακονία τῆς δικαιοσύνης, 2 Corinthians 3:9, and of the teachers of Christianity by διάκονοι δικαιοσύνης, 2 Corinthians 11:15; on which account also it is unnecessary, for the justification of the expression chosen, with Bleek, Bisping, and Maier, to assume an allusion to the exposition of the name Melchisedec, βασιλεὺς δικαιοσύνης, given Hebrews 7:2.

νήπιος γάρ ἐστιν] for he is still a babe, a novice in Christianity. Setting forth of the naturalness of the ἄπειρος λόγου δικαιοσύνης.


Verse 14

Hebrews 5:14. The opposition: for perfect or more matured Christians, on the other hand (and only for them), is the solid food.

τελείων is with emphasis preposed.

τῶν διὰ τὴν ἕξιν κ. τ. λ.] more precise characterizing of the τέλειοι: for those who, etc.

ἕξις] like the following αἰσθητήριον, in the N. T. a ἅπαξ λεγόμενον. It corresponds to the Latin habitus, and is used in particular of the condition produced by use and wont. Here it denotes the capacity or dexterity acquired by practice. Comp. Quintil. Hebrews 10:1. 1 : firma quaedam facilitas, quae apud Graecos ἕξις nominatur.

τὰ αἰσθητήρια] the organs of the senses; transferred to that which is spiritual: the power of apprehension. Comp. LXX. Jeremiah 4:19 : τὰ αἰσθητήρια τῆς ψυχῆς μου.

γεγυμνασμένα] Predicate; literally: as exercised. On the whole turn of discourse, comp. Galen, De dignot. puls. 3 (in Wetstein): ὅς μὲν γὰρτὸ αἰσθητήριον ἔχει γεγυμνασμένον ἱκανῶςοὗτος ἄριστος ἄν εἴν γυώμων.

πρὸς διάκρισιν κ. τ. λ.] for the distinguishing of good and bad. The words may be taken with γεγυμνασμένα, or they may be taken with the whole expression γεγυμνασμένα ἐχόντων. The καλόν τε καὶ κακόν, however, is to be understood of the right and the wrong, or of the wholesome and the pernicious, not, with Stein, of that which is morally good or evil. Chrysostom: νῦν οὐ περὶ βίου αὐτῷ λόγος, ὅταν λέγῃ· πρὸς διάκρισιν καλοῦ καὶ κακοῦ ( τοῦτο γὰρ παντὶ ἀνθρώπῳ δυνατὸν εἰδέναι καὶ εὔκολον) ἀλλὰ περὶ δογμάτων ὑγιῶν καὶ ὑψηλῶν, διεφθαρμένων τε καὶ ταπεινῶν.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Hebrews 5:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/hebrews-5.html. 1832.

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