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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Hebrews 5

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAP. V.

The authority and honour of our Saviour's priesthood: negligence in the knowledge thereof is condemned.

Anno Domini 63.

THE priesthood and sacrifice of the Son of God, and the pardon procured for sinners thereby, together with the many happy effects of the pardon thus procured, being matters of the utmost consequence to mankind, the apostle in this chapter, and what follows to the 19th verse of the tenth chapter, has proposed at great length, the proofs by which they are established. And it was very proper that he should be copious, not only in his proofs of these important subjects, but also in his comparison of the priesthood of Christ with the Levitical priesthood, that while he established the merit of the sacrifice of Christ, he might shew the inefficacy of the Levitical atonements, and of all other sacrifices whatever. For as the unbelieving Jews did not acknowledge his apostleship, St. Paul knew that his affirmation of these matters, though made by infallible inspiration, would not be held as sufficient evidence

His proof of the priesthood of Christ, the apostle begins in this chapter with describing the office of a high-priest. He is one taken from among men, and is appointed to perform for men all the parts of the public worship of God; and in particular he is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifice for sin, Hebrews 5:1.—Next, he is a man clothed with infirmity, that from sympathy he may have a proper measure of compassion for the ignorant and erring, Hebrews 5:2.—And, because he is clothed with infirmity, he must offer propitiatory sacrifice for himself, as well as for the people, (but the difference here between Christ and every other priest is pointed out elsewhere,) Hebrews 5:3.—This account of the designation, character, and office of a high-priest, the apostle applies to Messiah, by observing, that as in the gospel church, no man can take the dignity of a high-priest to himself, but only the person who is called to the office by God, like Aaron in the Jewish church, Hebrews 5:4.—so the Christ did not, by his own authority, assume the office of high-priest in the house of God; but he (God the Father,) bestowed that dignity upon him, who declared him his Son by raising him from the dead, who in the Divinity was eternally such, Hebrews 5:5.—And who, by so doing, confirmed all the doctrines which he taught, and particularly the doctrine of his shedding his blood for the remission of sins.—Farther, that God the Father bestowed on Messiah the office of a high priest, is evident from his saying to him, after he invited him to sit at his right hand, Psalms 110:4. The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a Priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedec, Hebrews 5:6.—These clear testimonies from their own scriptures, left the unbelieving Hebrews noroom to doubt that Jesus of Nazareth, who by his resurrection from the dead was declared to be the Christ the Son of God, was by his Father's appointment a real Priest.

Having thus proved to the unbelieving Hebrews, that Jesus was made of God the Father a High-priest, the apostle shewed in the next place, that notwithstanding he was the Son of God, he possessed the other qualification necessary to a high-priest, mentioned Hebrews 5:2 namely, That he was able to have a right measure of compassion on the ignorant and erring, because he himself also, by living in the flesh subject to the temptations and afflictions incident to men, was surrounded with infirmity. In proof of this proposition, the apostle appealed to two facts well known; the first is, that while he lived on earth in the flesh, he prayed, with strong crying and tears, to him who was able to save him from death. The second is, that he was delivered, in that he feared. These facts the apostle mentioned, because the one was a proof that Jesus experienced the infirmityand temptations incident to men: the other, that he received help from God the Father, Hebrews 5:7.—Wherefore, although he was the Son of God, yet being also the Son of man, he learned how difficult obedience is to men, by the things which he himself suffered in the flesh while he obeyed his heavenly Father: consequently, he is well qualified, as a High-priest, to have a right measure of compassion on the ignorant and erring, Hebrews 5:8.—And being thus made a perfect High-priest, he became, by his dying as a sacrifice for sin, to all them who obey him, the author of eternal salvation, Hebrews 5:9.—as is plain from his being saluted by God the Father, an High-priest after the order of Melchizedec on his return from the earth to heaven, Hebrews 5:10.

By calling the speech of God the Father recorded Psalms 110:4. The Lord hath sworn and will not repent, Thou art a Priest for ever, after the order of Mechizedec, a salutation of Messiah as a High-priest, the apostle has discovered to us a variety of important matters implied in, or connected with that memorable speech: Such as, 1. That being directed to Messiah, it was a declaration on the part of God the Father, that he had made Jesus a High-priest, not simply like Aaron, but with an oath; that is, in the most solemn manner and irrevocably.—2. Inasmuch as Messiah was thus saluted on his sitting down at the right hand of God the Father, in consequence of his being invited to do so, Psalms 110:1 the salutation was given after he had offered the sacrifice of himself, by presenting his crucified body before the presence of his heavenly Father. See Hebrews 8:3.—3. This salutation, on such an occasion, being given to Messiah, in the hearing of the angelic hosts assembled around the throne, to do honour to him on his return from the earth after finishing his ministrations there as a Prophet, and to witness the offering of the sacrifice of himself as a High priest for the sins of the world, it was a declaration from God the Father, that he accepted that sacrifice as a sufficient atonement for all the sins of the faithful; that his intercession for such, founded on the merit of that atonement, would be completely heard; and that his heavenly Father fully approved all his ministrations on earth.—4. Seeing, in the salutation, the Father called Messiah, a Priest after the order of Melchizedec, who was a king as well as a priest, he, by that appellation and by placing him in the human nature at his right hand, declared him to be not only a High-priest, but the Governor and Judge of the world. So that there can be no doubt of his procuring salvation for his obedient subjects, through the merit of his death as an atonement. Wherefore, those passages of scripture in which his death is spoken of as a sacrifice for sin, being all literally meant, should by no means be considered, either as figures of speech, or as accommodations to the prejudices of mankind concerning the efficacy of propitiatory sacrifices. See ch. Hebrews 9:18.—Such are the important meanings comprehended in the expression, saluted of God an High-priest, after the order of Melchizedec; as we learn from the apostle's reasonings in the subsequent parts of this epistle.

Accordingly, that mankind may enjoy all the consolations which flow from the right apprehension and belief of the sacrifice and intercession of Christ, the apostle judged it necessary to search into the deep meaning of the oath by which God the Father constituted Messiah a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedec. And to excite the Hebrews to attend to what he was to write in chap. Hebrews 7:11-28 concerning the import of the oath, he told them he had many things to say concerning Melchizedec, after whose order Messiah was made a Priest, by which Messiah's priesthood would be illustrated and confirmed. But he found it difficult to make them understand these things, because they were of slow apprehension in spiritual matters, Hebrews 5:11.—Wherefore, to make them more diligent than they had hitherto been in gaining religious knowledge, he told them plainly,their ignorance of their own scriptures was such, that notwithstanding they ought to have been teachers of others, they needed to be again taught some of the first principles of the oracles of God; consequently they required to be fed with milk, and not with strong meat, Hebrews 5:12.—This, he told them, was a very imperfect state, because every one who uses milk, that is, who knows nothing but the obvious sense of the ancient revelations, and does not enter into their deep meaning, must be very unskilful in the doctrines of the gospel, and is a mere babe in Christianity, Hebrews 5:13.—Whereas, the doctrines concealed under the types and figures of the ancient revelations, being difficult to be understood, may be likened to strong meat, the food of grown men, because, when rightly apprehended, they greatly strengthen men's faith, by the light which they throw on the doctrines of the gospel, Hebrews 5:14.


Verse 1

Hebrews 5:1. For every high-priest This stands connected with the preceding verse, Let us come boldly to the throne of grace,—for that, or because every high-priest—is ordained, that he may offer, &c. as that last verse of the former chapter is in consequence of what is said Hebrews 5:14.


Verse 2

Hebrews 5:2. Who can have compassion The word ΄ετριοπαθειν signifies "to treat with moderation and gentleness." See the margin. "Who is able to proportion his compassion to those that are ignorant, and wandering from the exact paths of God's commandments, because he himself also is incident to infirmity." The ignorant and erroneous are here put, by a usual figure, for those who wander, or sin, through ignorance; the case, in which priests, appointed by men, were to offer sacrifices for them.


Verse 3

Hebrews 5:3. And by reason hereof "By reason of this infirmity, common to him and all mankind, he is obliged for himself, as well as for the people, to offer sacrifice for sins." Here again is a great dissimilitude of circumstances between the high-priest taken from among men, and our High-priest: for, though they have sins for which they are obliged to offer sacrifice, yet Christ had none: and in this a remarkably superior dignityappears in our Lord, that he was without sin, ch. Hebrews 4:15 and consequently did not, could not, offer for any sins of his own. See Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 16:32; Leviticus 21:10 and Leviticus 7:27.


Verse 4

Hebrews 5:4. But he that is called of God, Called of God means a particular designation or appointment to the dignity of high-priest; such a one as Aaron had, Exodus 30:30. They therefore misapply this text, who would argue from it the necessity of a peculiar appointment made by man to the administration of an office in the Christian church. How right soever such designations may be, this text has no relation to such matters, but is only intended to prove, that Christ was as eminently and as clearly designed and appointed by God to be a high-priest as Aaron was. In this respect, then, an equality of Christ to Aaron is proved: afterwards the infinite superiority of Christ, even in this respect, will be shewn.


Verse 5

Hebrews 5:5. So also Christ glorified not himself So likewise Christ did not take the honour to himself of being an high-priest. "He did not of himself assume that dignity, but was expressly appointed to it by Him, who declared concerning him, that he was his Son."


Verse 6

Hebrews 5:6. As he saith also in another place, The explication of this follows in ch. 7. The apostle had quoted from the second psalm in the preceding verse; when therefore it follows, as he saith also in another (for there is no word in the original for place,) it seems more natural to supply the word psalm, than place.


Verse 7

Hebrews 5:7. In the days of his flesh, During the time he was in the flesh; made lower than the angels, as man, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, ch. Hebrews 2:14. The allusion in the next clause is to the prayers of our Saviour, which he made in the garden to God, to remove that cup from him. See on Matthew 26:39. Luke 22:42. There is no mention any where of our Saviour's tears but in this place, except upon his raising Lazarus from the dead, John 11:35 and on his last view of Jerusalem, Luke 19:41. See also Matthew 27:50. The last clause has been variously interpreted. The words απο της ευλαβειας, mean not in that he feared, but, as it is in the Vulgate, pro reverentia; by reason of that reverence and submission which was paid by the Son to his Father. So our margin has it, for his piety. The sense is, "That Christ, when he prayed to his heavenly Fatherin the manner he did, by reason of that reverential regard he had to his Father in all his conduct, was heard." Thus Sykes, with whom Heylin, Bishop Fell, and many others agree; and I agree with them. See ch. Hebrews 12:28. However, Whitby, whom Doddridge and others follow, understands it, that he was heard in being delivered from that which he particularly feared; and which threw him into such an agony in the garden, that he sweat drops of blood. There is another method of interpreting this, which is that followed by the Syriac version; namely, by joining the words ' απο της ευλαβειας with the 8th verse:—and was heard [so as to have his request granted; Hebrews 5:8 though he was a Son, yet through his piety he learned obedience from what he suffered.


Verse 8

Hebrews 5:8. Though he were a Son, Notwithstanding his being a Son, he learned obedience by that severe discipline which he underwent. The connection of this and the preceding verse seems to stand thus: "Jesus offered up prayers unto him who was able to save him from death; and he was, heard too, by reason of the reverence and regard he shewed to his Father in all things; and he was accordingly rewarded. Yet notwithstanding his beinga Son,—the only-beloved Son,—he learned obedience by going through a state of sufferings." However, I humbly judge, that this obedience of Christ, in which he was improved by his sufferings and trials, must be understood agreeably to the scope of the discourse; wherein the apostle is designing to shew, that Christ acquired a sympathy with us, and so was well qualified to be a high-priest for us. If we look back to ch. Hebrews 4:14-15 we find he there speaks of our High-priest as the Son of God, who could be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, being tried in all things like as we are, yet without sin. This made a vast difference between him and the priests under the law, who might be moved to a compassion towards their brethren, byconsidering their own sinful infirmities; Hebrews 5:2-3. Now Christ not being capable of being moved to compassion by this, (being himself always perfectly free from sin,) the sacred writer seems here to suggest, that he was yet as effectually moved to it another way, even by his own sufferings, in the course of his obedience; and especially when he became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. The sense of the place therefore I take to be this, That by his sufferings he learned how difficult obedience was; and by this means was as effectually engaged to pity and succour us, as the high-priests of old were to pity and act in behalf of the people, from the experience they had of their own strength and infirmity.


Verse 9

Hebrews 5:9. Being made perfect, Being consecrated, (see ch. Hebrews 2:10.) consecrated by sufferings to his office, and fully qualified for the discharge of it. But Archbishop Tillotson would translate it, having attained the end of his race through sufferings, that is, passed through sufferings in his way to consummate glory. Compare John 19:30. Luke 13:32. Hebrews 2:10. See also Parkhurst on the word Τελειοω .


Verse 10

Hebrews 5:10. Called of God, &c.— It is not the word καλουμενος, as Hebrews 5:4 but προσαγορευθεις, having the title of high-priest given him of God the Father. He was not called to his office, as Aaron was, but he was something more; and, which shews an infinitely superior honour in this respect, he was saluted with that title by God the Father himself. Called after the order of Melchisedec means, that Christ was called to be a high-priest after the order of Melchisedech, not by having a series of successors, nor by having his title founded upon any lineal descent; but as acting in his office, without dependence upon, or attachment to any particular family.


Verse 11

Hebrews 5:11. Of whom That is, Melchisedec: "Of whom we have much to say, and hard to be interpreted, so as to make you comprehend it, seeing you are νωθροι, remiss, careless;—have little or no desire to hear, or learn, or to attend to what you hear." See Ecclus. 9:29; Sirach 11:12. Dr. Heylin reads the verse, We have many things to say upon this subject; thing, which it is difficult to render intelligible to you, because you are not in a disposition to apprehend them. The mention made of Christ's being an high-priest after the order of Melchisedec naturally led to the sayingsomewhat concerning that person, and his order of priesthood. This the apostle intended, and accordingly he has done it, ch. 7. But before he comes to that part of his discourse, he makes a large digression, from hence to ch. Hebrews 6:20. At the end of which he brings in again the mention of Christ being made a high-priest after the order of Melchisedec; and thus concludeshis digression, and introduces the account that he gives of Melchisedec in the 7th chapter. The design of this digression seems to be, first, to reprove the Hebrews for their not attending to, and not better understanding, the things spoken of in the Old Testament: his reproof being brought in upon occasion of their not understanding what was spoken concerning Melchisedec, seems to fix this as the ground of the reproof, and so may serve in some measure as a key to a good part of the present discourse. This is very pertinent to the grand aim of the epistle; for a thorough acquaintance with the Old Testament would have been very useful to establish them in their adherence to Christ. Secondly, another design of this digression seems to be, to warn the Hebrews of that to which they were very prone,—to doat upon the legal institutions; by reason whereof they were apt to be indifferent to Christ, and to quit their hope in him, and the profession of his religion: for this cause the sacred writer sets before them their danger in the most lively and moving terms. He however qualifies his reproof by the commendation that he gives of some of them for their past behaviour, for whichhe encourages them to expect a reward from God. But he wishes the same might be made general, and that they would all of them guard against sloth and negligence, and press after perfection; imitating the faith and patience of other good men, and particularly of Abraham; for whom they had the highest veneration, and whose example was therefore likely to have the greatest effect upon them.


Verse 12

Hebrews 5:12. For when for the time, &c.— The doctrines of Christ had been so long taught among the Jews, that they could not but understand the scriptures of the prophets, unless they were extremely obstinate, or careless and negligent. What the first principles, or the very elements of the oracles of God, were, appears from the next chapter, Hebrews 5:1-2 namely the plainest and clearest principles and doctrines contained in the divine revelation. "You have," says the apostle, "need even of those to be laid before you, rather than the deep things of Christ; that is, the doctrines which are suited to those who are mature in grace, or at least pressing after it." See on 1 Corinthians 3:1-2.


Verse 13

Hebrews 5:13. In the word of righteousness: Every one who is unacquainted with the word of righteousness, is here called a babe: the thing intended is, that whosoever is ignorant of the righteousness of God without the law, which is witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God which is by faith in Christ Jesus, unto all and upon all that believe, is only fit to be begun with, and to be taught the first elements of the oracles of God. This is sometimes called the righteousness of God. Romans 3:22 sometimes the righteousness which is of faith, Romans 9:30. The word of righteousness means, the doctrine of our being treated as righteous, in consequence of our faith in Christ. See Romans 3:24. 2 Corinthians 5:19. It is called the righteousness of God, as it is the method that he has taken wherein to treat mankind; and as faith is the thing required as a means of his grace, it is the righteousness of faith, or by faith: and it is called absolutely the word of righteousness, as it is the great principle of the gospel of Christ.


Verse 14

Hebrews 5:14. Them that are of full age, Τε ειων . So we speak wisdom to them that are perfect, τοις τελειοις . See the note on 1 Corinthians 2:6. Those therefore who are here called of full age, are the same as those who by examination or information, are fully and experimentally acquainted with the mysteries of the gospel, or the great design of God in the dispensation of the Messiah; and who have by use and exercise been able to trace out what is good or evil, true or false. The expression of having the senses exercised, &c. seems only to refer to the metaphor which he had used before; and to mean, that they were not still children, who were incapable of doing this. It seems plainly borrowed from the Hebrew manner of describing children. See Deuteronomy 1:39. Isaiah 7:15-16. Jonah 4:11. The sacred writer might perhaps design, by thus enlarging, to keepthem the longer attentive to the censure that he passes upon them. Instead of by reason of use, &c. Heylin reads, by long practice and exercise have their senses improved, for the discernment both of good and evil.

Inferences.—Behold the incomparable excellence and affecting endearments of Christ's priesthood! He, being as truly man, as God, has a more tender and effectual compassion on the ignorant and them that are out of the way, than any of the ancient priests could have, who were beset with the same sinful, as well as natural infirmities with them; and therefore were obliged to offer sacrifices for themselves, as well as for the people: but as our sinless

High-priest suffered in the days of his humiliation, to the greatest extremity, for the sins of the whole world, but especially for those that perseveringly believe, he cannot but sympathize with them. With what fervency did he, in the most religious and submissive manner, apply to his heavenly Father for seasonable relief against those troubles, which could not but be very terrible to human nature; and how fully was he answered, with respect to the grand design of his prayer! As he was perfectly fitted by his sufferings for completing his priestly office, he is become the author of eternal salvation to all that yield themselves up by faith and holy obedience to him. How great is the honour which was put upon him as man; and his own condescension as God, in bearing this important office! He did not thrust himself into it; but it was conferred upon him by the express and immediate call of God his Father, as the Levitical priesthood was upon Aaron; and it is manifest what a divine and glorious High-priest he is, in that his Father said to him, Thou art my Son to-day have I begotten thee; and thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Though he was the eternal Son of God, yet adorable condescension! how freely did he accept the call to office, work, and experimentally learn obedience by his sufferings unto death! But, alas, how often are professing believers themselves too little apprehensive of the glories of Christ, as shadowed out by Melchisedec in various instances! They are apt to be so slothful and inattentive to them, that they cannot take in just sentiments of them; but when for their standing and advantages in the church, they might reasonably be expected to have such a stock of scriptural knowledge, as to be able to instruct others, they themselves need to be taught over again the very first principles of Christianity. But, blessed be God, there are provisions of all sorts in his word for every state and condition: there is milk for babes, and strong meat for those who are arrived at a state of manhood in Christ, and are more skilful in the word of righteousness, as by means of frequent use, and great experience, they are confirmed in habits of knowledge and grace, and have their spiritual senses exercised to discern the difference between what is good and bad, and to relish the one and refuse the other. How should this consideration excite us to the greatest diligence, that we may not always be like children in understanding; but may live upon such sublime truths of the gospel, as are suited to the nourishment of strong men in Christ!

REFLECTIONS.—1st, We have,

1. An account of the sacerdotal office in general. For every high-priest taken from among men, under the legal dispensation, is of the same nature with his brethren, and ordained for men in things pertaining to God, on their behalf to minister in holy things, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins, according to the law, as the type and figure of him, who in his own person, as both High-priest and Sacrifice, should, in the fulness of time, offer the true atonement, and make the perfect reconciliation for sin, causing the persons and prayers of his faithful people to be accepted by the Father: who can bear with, and have compassion on the ignorant, sympathizing with them; and having pity on them that are out of the way; desirous to bring them back again to God, and peace of conscience: for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity, and liable to every affliction under which his brethren groan. And by reason hereof, since he himself is a poor infirm creature and a guilty sinner, as well as others, he ought, as for the people, so also for himself to offer an atoning sacrifice. But herein the surpassing glory of the great High-priest of our profession most eminently appears; for while, as partaker of the human nature, with infinitely greater compassion he feels for the erring and the ignorant, and stands to offer his all-prevailing sacrifice for them, he doth it purely on their account, not on his own, being himself without sin.

2. A divine appointment was necessary for the office of priesthood. And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron, appointed thereto by the Lord's immediate order and authority. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high-priest, not assuming that honour in his human nature without a divine warrant; but he was solemnly called and qualified for this office by him, that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten thee; intimating the dignity of his person who was to be invested with the pontifical office. As he saith also in another place, (Psalms 110:4.) Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec; an order prior and superior to that of Aaron; Christ having an eternal and unchangeable priesthood, ever living, and alone sufficient to manage all the concerns of his faithful people. Note; (1.) Before we presume to minister in holy things, we must produce a divine call, lest, intruding into an office for which we have no commission, we should expose ourselves to shame as intruders, instead of reaping honour by the service. (2.) The High-priest whom God hath himself appointed, we may be assured he will accept; and all our oblations in his hands shall be received as sacrifices of a sweet smell.

3. We are told how he executed his office, and how effectual it was on the behalf of his faithful people. Who in the days of his flesh, when here below, oppressed with manifold and severe sufferings, he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears, especially in his agonizing struggle in the garden, looking up unto him that was able to save him from death, and from those exquisite pains which distressed his innocent soul; and was heard, in the support ministered to him, and in his glorious resurrection from the dead, in that he feared, with holy reverence submitted to his Father's will: Though he were a Son, the eternal Son of the Father, and one with him in nature and perfections; yet, having condescended to take our nature upon him, learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; approving himself cheerfully submissive to his Father's will, and yielding himself up to death, even the death of the cross. And being made perfect, fully accomplishing by his obedience and sufferings the great work of atonement, and thereby being consecrated for the exercise of his priesthood in heaven; he became the author of eternal salvation, purchasing it by his blood, securing it by his advocacy, and applying it by his Spirit to the souls of all his faithful people,—a salvation not only from present guilt and corruption, but including all the blessings of glory everlasting, which are secured unto all them that obey him, and perseveringly follow him as the Captain of their salvation: called of God, and fully qualified for his office, as an high priest after the order of Melchisedec, ever living to make intercession for the faithful, and therefore a Saviour unto them to the uttermost. Note; (1.) God's adopted sons, like their great Head, are to expect sufferings, and under them to learn obedience and submission. (2.) None ever in the human nature endured any thing like what the Son of God hath suffered voluntarily for our sake: how dare we then murmur or complain? (3.) In his agony the Saviour prayed, to teach us whither we should look under all our distresses; and if with faith and fervour, as he did, we cry, we shall as assuredly be heard and delivered. (4.) The salvation which the Son of God hath obtained for his faithful saints, is complete and everlasting. He hath borne the penalty of sin, and fulfilled the righteousness of the law, that they might have all the benefit, and be entitled to the eternal reward of glory. (5.) All who hope to reign with him, desire to be ruled by him; and, cheerfully yielding themselves to his holy will, take up their cross, and follow the Captain of their salvation; and, unless we do this, our hope in him is but delusion.

2nd, The apostle pauses for a moment, and stays the further consideration of the subject which he was upon, to introduce a needful rebuke of their dulness and inattention to the great things of God's word. Having mentioned a second time that remarkable personage Melchisedec, he observes, Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, difficult to be understood in themselves, and the more so to you, seeing ye are dull of learning, slothful and negligent to search into the sacred oracles, that you might become more deeply acquainted with their important contents. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, considering all the means and advantages which you have enjoyed, ye have need, so little progress have you made in the school of Christ, that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God, as the child must learn his letters in order to spell and read; and, rather declining than advancing in knowledge, are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat, as babes at the breast, instead of being in that state of manhood to which you should, ere this, have arrived. For every one that useth milk, and cannot relish or digest any thing beyond the first principles of the doctrine of Christ, is unskilful, and unexperienced in the word of righteousness, in the gospel, where we are taught how to walk and please God; for such a one is a babe in understanding and experience. But strong meat, the sublimer doctrines of truth, belong to them that are of full age, and may be styled perfect men; even those who, by reason of use, being experimentally and deeply acquainted with the blessed gospel, have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil, accurate to discover truth, and detect error, and as eager to embrace and pursue the one, as to detest and avoid the other. Note; (1.) They who have long enjoyed the richest advantages, are expected to shew proportionable improvement in grace and knowledge. (2.) It is a great grief to ministers, and the sin and shame of their people, that, after years of labour, many of them have yet to learn the first principles of gospel truth. (3.) The scripture is suited to every state: there is milk for babes, and strong meat for men; it is the wisdom of a minister to be able to divide to every man his portion in due season.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Hebrews 5:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/hebrews-5.html. 1801-1803.

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