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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE HEBREWS - Chapter 5 - Verse 4

Verse 4. And no man taketh this honour to himself. No one has a right to enter on this office unless he has the qualifications which God has prescribed. There were fixed and definite laws in regard to the succession in the office of the high priest, and to the qualifications of him who should hold the office.

But he that is called of God, as was Aaron. Aaron was designated by name. It was necessary that his successors should have as clear evidence that they were called of God to the office, as though they had been mentioned by name. The manner in which the high priest was to succeed to the office was designated in the law of Moses, but in the time of Paul these rules were little regarded. The office had become venal, and was conferred at pleasure by the Roman rulers. Still it was true that, according to the law, to which alone Paul here refers, no one might hold this office but he who had the qualifications which Moses prescribed, and which showed that he was called of God. We may remark here,

(1.) that this does not refer so much to an internal as to an external call. He was to have the qualifications prescribed in the law; but it is not specified that he should be conscious of an internal call to the office, or be influenced by the Holy Spirit to it. Such a call was, doubtless, in the highest degree desirable, but it was not prescribed as an essential qualification.

(2.) This has no reference to the call to the work of the Christian ministry, and should not be applied to it. It should not be urged as a proof-text to show that a minister of the gospel should have a "call" directly from God, or that he should be called according to a certain order of succession. The object of Paul is not to state this, whatever may be the truth on this point. His object is to show that the Jewish high priest was called of God to his office in a certain way, showing that he held the appointment from God, and that therefore it was necessary that the great High Priest of the Christian profession should be called in a similar manner. To this alone the comparison should be understood as applicable.

{b} "no man" 2 Ch 26:18 {c} "Aaron" Ex 28:1; Nu 16:40

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