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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE HEBREWS - Chapter 4 - Verse 14
Verse 14. Seeing then that we have a great High Priest. The apostle here resumes the subject which had been slightly hinted at in Heb 2:17; 3:1, and pursues it to the end of chapter 10. The object is to show that Christians have a great High Priest as really as the Jews had; to show wherein he surpassed the Levitical priesthood; to show how all that was said of the Aaronic priesthood, and all the types pertaining to that priesthood, were fulfilled in the Lord Jesus; and to state and illustrate the nature of the consolations which Christians might derive from the fact that they had such an High Priest. One of the things on which the Jews most valued their religion, was the fact that it had such a minister of religion as their high priest—the most elevated functionary of that dispensation. It came, therefore, to be of the utmost importance to show that Christianity was not inferior to the Jewish religion in this respect, and that the High Priest of the Christian profession would not suffer in point of dignity, and in the value of the blood with which he would approach God, and in the efficacy of his intercession, when compared with the Jewish high priest. Moreover, it was a doctrine of Christianity that the Jewish ritual was to pass away; and its temple services cease to be observed. It was, therefore, of vast importance to show why hey passed away, and how they were superseded. To do this, the apostle is led into this long discussion respecting their nature. He shows that they were designed to be typical. He proves that they could not purify the heart, and give peace to the conscience. He proves that they were all intended to point to something future, and to introduce the Messiah to the world; and that when this object was accomplished, their great end was secured, and they were thus all fulfilled. In no part of the Bible can there be found so full an account of the design of the Mosaic institutions as in chapter 5 through 10 of this epistle; and were it not for this, the volume of inspiration would be incomplete. We should be left in the dark on some of the most important subjects in revelation; we should ask questions for which we could find no certain answer. The phrase "great High Priest" here is used with reference to a known usage among the Jews. In the time of the apostle the name high priest pertained not only to him who actually held the office, and who had the right to enter into the holy of holies, but to his deputy, and to those who had held the office, but who had retired from it; and perhaps also the name was given to the head of each one of the twenty-four courses or classes into which the priests were divided. Comp. See Barnes "Lu 1:5"; See Barnes "Mt 26:3".
The name "great high priest" would designate him who actually held the office, and was at the head of all the other priests; and the idea here is, not merely that the Lord Jesus was a Priest, but that he was at the head of all; in the Christian economy he sustained a rank that corresponded with that of the great high priest in the Jewish.
Paul says that the Christian High Priest has gone into heaven. He has gone there also to make intercession, and to sprinkle the blood of the atonement on the mercy-seat. See Barnes "Heb 9:24"; See Barnes "Heb 9:25".
This is the drift and scope of the epistle— to show that Christians should hold fast their profession, and not apostatize. The object of the apostle now is to show why the fact, that we have such a High Priest, is a reason why we should hold fast our professed attachment to him. These reasons—which are drawn out in the succeeding chapters—are such as the following.
(2.) The impossibility of being renewed again if we should fall away from him, since there is but one such High Priest, and since the sacrifice for sin can never be repeated, Heb 6.
(3.) The fact that all the ancient types were fulfilled in him, and that everything which there was in the Jewish dispensation, to keep men from apostasy, exists much more powerfully in the Christian scheme.
(4.) The fact that they who rejected the laws of Moses died without mercy, and much more any one who should reject the Son of God must expect more certain and fearful severity, Heb 10:27-30. By considerations such as these, the apostle aims to show them the danger of apostasy, and to urge them to a faithful adherence to their Christian profession.
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