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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Hebrews 5



Other Authors
Verse 1

In things pertaining to God (τα προς τον τεονta pros ton theon). Accusative of general reference as in Hebrews 2:17 (Romans 15:17). The two essential points about any high priest are human sympathy (Hebrews 5:1-3) and divine appointment (Hebrews 5:4). He is taken from men and appointed in behalf of men.

That he may offer (ινα προσπερηιhina prospherēi). Purpose clause with ιναhina and present active subjunctive of προσπερωprospherō “that he keep on offering (from time to time).”

Both gifts
(δωραdōra) and sacrifices (και τυσιαςkai thusias). General term (δωραdōra) and bloody offerings, but the two together are inclusive of all as in Hebrews 8:3; Hebrews 9:9 (1 Kings 8:64).

For sins
(υπερ αμαρτιωνhuper hamartiōn). His own included (Hebrews 7:27) except in the case of Jesus.

Verse 2

Who can bear gently (μετριοπατειν δυναμενοςmetriopathein dunamenos). Present active infinitive of the late verb μετριοπατεωmetriopatheō (μετριοςmetrios moderate, πατεωpateō to feel or suffer). It is a philosophical term used by Aristotle to oppose the απατειαapatheia (lack of feeling) of the Stoics. Philo ranks it below απατειαapatheia Josephus (Ant. XII. 32) uses it of the moderation of Vespasian and Titus towards the Jews. It occurs here only in the N.T. “If the priest is cordially to plead with God for the sinner, he must bridle his natural disgust at the loathsomeness of sensuality, his impatience at the frequently recurring fall, his hopeless alienation from the hypocrite and the superficial, his indignation at any confession he hears from the penitent” (Dods).

With the ignorant (τοις αγνοουσινtois agnoousin). Dative case of the articular present active participle of αγνοεωagnoeō old verb not to know (Mark 9:32).

And erring
(και πλανωμενοιςkai planōmenois). Present middle participle (dative case) of πλαναωplanaō The one article with both participles probably makes it a hendiadys, sins of ignorance (both accidence and sudden passion) as opposed to high-handed sins of presumption and deliberate purpose. People who sinned “willingly” (εκουσιωςhekousiōs Hebrews 10:26) had no provision in the Levitical system. For deliberate apostasy (Hebrews 3:12; Hebrews 10:26) no pardon is offered.

Is compassed with infirmity
(περικειται αστενειανperikeitai astheneian). Present passive indicative of the old verb περικειμαιperikeimai here used transitively as in Acts 28:20 (αλυσινhalusin chain). The priest himself has weakness lying around him like a chain. Not so Jesus.

Verse 3

For himself (περι εαυτουperi heautou). Note περιperi three times here (περι του λαου περι εαυτου περι αμαρτιωνperi tou laou class="normal greek">υπερ αντρωπων υπερ αμαρτιων — peri heautou class="normal greek">περι peri hamartiōn), but in Hebrews 5:1 υπερhuper anthrōpōn class="translit"> huper hamartiōn In the Koiné this interchange of peri (around) and huper (over) is common (Matthew 26:28).

Verse 4

Taketh the honour unto himself (εαυτωι λαμβανει την τιμηνheautōi lambanei tēn timēn). Dative case of personal interest (εαυτωιheautōi). The priest was called of God. This is the ideal and was true of Aaron. The modern minister is not a priest, but he also should be a God-called man and not one who pushes himself into the ministry or into ecclesiastical office.

Verse 5

So Christ also (ουτως και ο Χριστοςhoutōs kai ho Christos). Just as with Aaron. Jesus had divine appointment as high priest also.

To be made (γενητηναιgenēthēnai). First aorist passive infinitive of γινομαιginomai

High priest
(αρχιερεαarchierea). Predicate accusative agreeing with εαυτονheauton (himself) object of εδοχασενedoxasen

But he that spake unto him
(αλλ ο λαλησας προς αυτονall' ho lalēsas pros auton). Ellipsis of εδοχασενedoxasen to be supplied from preceding clause. God did glorify Jesus in appointing him priest as we see in Psalm 2:7 quoted already as Messianic (Hebrews 1:5). Jesus himself repeatedly claimed that the Father sent him on his mission to the world (John 5:30, John 5:43; John 8:54; John 17:5, etc.). Bruce holds that Christ‘s priesthood is co-eval with his Sonship. Davidson thinks it is merely suitable because he is Son. Clearly the Father nominated (Dods) the Son to the Messianic priesthood (John 3:16).

Verse 6

In another place (εν ετερωιen heterōi). That is Psalm 110:4. It is this crucial passage by which the author will prove the superiority of Jesus to Aaron as high priest. Only the word priest (ιερευςhiereus) occurs here which the author uses as synonymous with high priest (αρχιερευςarchiereus). The point lies in the meaning of the phrase “After the order of Melchizedek” (κατα την ταχιν Μελχισεδεκkata tēn taxin Melchisedek). But at this point the only thing pressed is the fact of the divine appointment of Jesus as priest. He returns to this point (5:10-7:28).

Verse 7

In the days of his flesh (εν ταις ημεραις της σαρκος αυτουen tais hēmerais tēs sarkos autou). Here (Hebrews 5:7-9) the author turns to the other requirement of a high priest (human sympathy). Since Jesus was “without sin” (Hebrews 4:15) he did not have to offer sacrifices “for himself,” yet in all other points he felt the sympathy of the human high priest, even more so by reason of his victory over sin.

Having offered up (προσενεγκαςprosenegkas). Second aorist active (-αa form) participle of προσπερωprospherō (cf. Hebrews 5:3). An allusion to the Agony of Christ in Gethsemane.

(ικετηριαςhiketērias). Socrates, Polybius, Job (Job 40:22) combine this word with δεησειςdeēseis (prayers) as here. The older form was ικεσιαhikesia The word ικετηριοςhiketērios is an adjective from ικετηςhiketēs (a suppliant from ικωhikō to come to one) and suggests one coming with an olive branch (ελαιαelaia). Here only in the N.T.

With strong crying and tears
(μετα κραυγης ισχυρας και δακρυωνmeta kraugēs ischuras kai dakruōn). See Luke 22:44. for a picture of the scene in Gethsemane (anguish and pathos). No doubt the writer has in mind other times when Jesus shed tears (John 11:35; Luke 19:41), but Gethsemane chiefly.

To save him from death
(σωζειν εκ τανατουsōzein ek thanatou). A reference to the cry of Jesus in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39).

Having been heard for his godly fear
(εισακουστεις απο της ευλαβειαςeisakoustheis apo tēs eulabeias). Old word from ευλαβηςeulabēs (taking hold well, Luke 2:25 from ευ λαμβανωeu class="normal greek">ευλαβεομαι — lambanō the verb eulabeomai in N.T. only in Hebrews 11:7), in N.T. only here and Hebrews 12:28. Fine picture of Christ‘s attitude toward the Father in the prayer in Gethsemane and in all his prayers. Jesus in Gethsemane at once surrendered his will to that of the Father who heard his plea and enabled him to acquiesce in the Father‘s will.

Verse 8

Though he was a Son (καιπερ ων υιοςkaiper ōn huios). Concessive participle with καιπερkaiper regular Greek idiom as in Hebrews 7:5; Hebrews 12:17.

Yet learned obedience (εματεν υπακοηνemathen hupakoēn). Second aorist active indicative of μαντανωmanthanō Succinct and crisp statement of the humanity of Jesus in full harmony with Luke 2:40, Luke 2:52 and with Hebrews 2:10.

By the things which he suffered
(απ ων επατενaph' hōn epathen). There is a play on the two verbs (εματενεπατενemathen -πασχωepathen), paronomasia. Second aorist active indicative of paschō He always did his Father‘s will (John 8:29), but he grew in experience as in wisdom and stature and in the power of sympathy with us.

Verse 9

Having been made perfect (τελειωτειςteleiōtheis). First aorist passive participle of τελειοωteleioō the completion of the process of training mentioned by this same verb in Hebrews 2:10 “by means of sufferings” (δια πατηματωνdia pathēmatōn) as stated again here in Hebrews 5:8.

The author of eternal salvation (αιτιος σωτηριας αιωνιουaitios sōtērias aiōniou). Common adjective from αιτιαaitia (cause), causing, often in Greek with σωτηριαςsōtērias (Aeschines, Philo), in N.T. only here, Luke 23:4, Luke 23:14, Luke 23:22; Acts 19:40. See same idea in Hebrews 2:10 (αρχηγονarchēgon). See Isaiah 45:17.

Verse 10

Named of God (προσαγορευτειςprosagoreutheis). First aorist passive participle of προσαγορευωprosagoreuō old verb to salute, to address, only here in N.T. Common in Plutarch.

Verse 11

Of whom (περι ουperi hou). Or “concerning which,” for ουhou can be either masculine or neuter (genitive). It is the likeness of Jesus as high priest to Melchizedek that the author has in mind. He is ready to discuss that but for the fear that the reader may fail to grasp his meaning, for he will run counter to the usual Jewish ideas. Hence he pauses to stir up the interest of the readers (5:11-6:20) before going on with the argument (7:1-28).

Hard of interpretation (δυσερμηνευτοςdusermēneutos). Late and rare verbal compound (δυσ ερμηνευωdus class="normal greek">νωτροι ταις ακοαις — hermēneuō), in Diodorus and Philo, here only in N.T. Hard to explain because of the strange (to Jews) line taken, but still more because of their dulness.

Dull of hearing
(νηnōthroi tais akoais). Old adjective (papyri also), from negative ωτεωnē and νωτροιōtheō to push, no push in the hearing, slow and sluggish in mind as well as in the ears. In N.T. only here and Hebrews 6:12 (slack, sluggish). Plato calls some students nōthroi (stupid).

Verse 12

Teachers (διδασκαλοιdidaskaloi). Predicate nominative after ειναιeinai

By reason of the time (δια τον χρονονdia ton chronon). Alas, what a commentary on modern Christians.

That some one teach you the rudiments
(του διδασκειν υμας τινα τα στοιχειαtou didaskein humas tina ta stoicheia). Neat Greek idiom, genitive case of the articular infinitive (need of the teaching) with two accusatives of the person (υμαςhumas you) and the thing (τα στοιχειαta stoicheia the rudiments) and the accusative of general reference (τιναtina as to some one). For στοιχειαstoicheia see Galatians 4:3, Galatians 4:9; Colossians 2:8.

Of the first principles of the oracles of God
(της αρχης των λογιων του τεουtēs archēs tōn logiōn tou theou). Three genitives linked to each other. ΑρχηςArchēs (beginning) illustrates τα στοιχειαta stoicheia just before, the A B C of Christian teaching like Hebrews 6:1. ΛογιονLogion is a diminutive of logos, divine oracles being usually brief, common in the O.T. and Philo for God‘s words, in N.T. used for the O.T. (Acts 7:38; Romans 3:2), of God‘s word through Christians (1 Peter 4:11), of the substance of Christian teaching (Hebrews 5:12).

Of milk
(γαλακτοςgalaktos). Because still babes (1 Corinthians 3:2) and not able to chew “solid food” (στερεας τροπηςstereās trophēs), without intellectual and spiritual teeth.


Verse 13

Without experience (απειροςapeiros). Old adjective (alpha privative and πειραpeira trial). Inexperienced. The babe (νηπιοςnēpios old word, negative νηnē and εποςepos word like Latin infans, infant, not able to talk), not able to chew if one uses only milk and is without teeth. Perhaps moral truth is meant by “word of righteousness” (cf. Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 2:3 for the word spoken by Christ).

Verse 14

For full-grown men (τελειωνteleiōn). Predicate genitive. The word is for adults, relative perfection (τελειοιteleioi) in contrast with babes as in 1 Corinthians 2:6; 1 Corinthians 3:1; 1 Corinthians 13:11; Philemon 3:15; Ephesians 4:4, not absolute perfection (Matthew 5:48).

Their senses (τα αιστητηριαta aisthētēria). The organs of perception (Stoic term for sense organs) from αιστανομαιaisthanomai (Luke 9:45), in Plato, Galen, Hippocrates, here only in N.T.

(γεγυμνασμεναgegumnasmena). Perfect passive participle of γυμναζωgumnazō to exercise (naked, γυμνοςgumnos). Galen uses αιστητηρια γεγυμνασμεναaisthētēria gegumnasmena together after εχωechō as we have here. For this predicate use of the participle with εχωechō see Luke 13:6; Luke 14:19. “By reason of use” one gains such skill.

To discern
(προς διακρισινpros diakrisin). “For deciding between” (from διακρινωdiakrinō), old word with ablative καλου τε και κακουkalou te kai kakou (between good and evil). See 1 Corinthians 12:1; Romans 14:1.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Hebrews 5:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 28th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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