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Hebrews 5


Heb 5:1

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

That he may offer (ινα προσφερη). Purpose clause with ινα and present active subjunctive of προσφερω, "that he keep on offering (from time to time)."

Both gifts (δωρα)

and sacrifices (κα θυσιας). General term (δωρα) and bloody offerings, but the two together are inclusive of all as in 8:3; 9:9 (1Ki 8:64 ).

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


Heb 5:2

Who can bear gently (μετριοπαθειν δυναμενος). Present active infinitive of the late verb μετριοπαθεω (μετριος, moderate, πατεω, to feel or suffer). It is a philosophical term used by Aristotle to oppose the απαθεια (lack of feeling) of the Stoics. Philo ranks it below απαθεια. 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 αγνοουσιν). Dative case of the articular present active participle of αγνοεω, old verb not to know (Mr 9:32 ).

And erring (κα πλανωμενοις). Present middle participle (dative case) of πλαναω. 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" (εκουσιως, 10:26) had no provision in the Levitical system. For deliberate apostasy (3:12; 10:26 ) no pardon is offered.

Is compassed with infirmity (περικειτα ασθενειαν). Present passive indicative of the old verb περικειμα here used transitively as in Ac 28:20 (αλυσιν, chain). The priest himself has weakness lying around him like a chain. Not so Jesus.


Heb 5:3

For himself (περ εαυτου). Note περ three times here (περ του λαου, περ εαυτου, περ αμαρτιων), but in verse 1 υπερ ανθρωπων, υπερ αμαρτιων. In the Koine this interchange of περ (around) and υπερ (over) is common (Mt 26:28 ).


Heb 5:4

Taketh the honour unto himself (εαυτω λαμβανε την τιμην). Dative case of personal interest (εαυτω). 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.


Heb 5:5

So Christ also (ουτως κα ο Χριστος). Just as with Aaron. Jesus had divine appointment as high priest also.

To be made (γενηθηνα). First aorist passive infinitive of γινομα.

High priest (αρχιερεα). Predicate accusative agreeing with εαυτον (himself) object of εδοξασεν.

But he that spake unto him (αλλ' ο λαλησας προς αυτον). Ellipsis of εδοξασεν to be supplied from preceding clause. God did glorify Jesus in appointing him priest as we see in Ps 2:7 quoted already as Messianic (Heb 1:5 ). Jesus himself repeatedly claimed that the Father sent him on his mission to the world (Joh 5:30,43; 8:54; 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 (Joh 3:16 ).


Heb 5:6

In another place (εν ετερω). That is Ps 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 (ιερευς) occurs here which the author uses as synonymous with high priest (αρχιερευς). The point lies in the meaning of the phrase "After the order of Melchizedek" (κατα την ταξιν Μελχισεδεκ). 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).


Heb 5:7

In the days of his flesh (εν ταις ημεραις της σαρκος αυτου). Here (verses 7-9) the author turns to the other requirement of a high priest (human sympathy). Since Jesus was "without sin" ( 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 (προσενεγκας). Second aorist active (-α form) participle of προσφερω (cf. verse 3). An allusion to the Agony of Christ in Gethsemane.

Supplications (ικετηριας). Socrates, Polybius, Job (Job 40:22 ) combine this word with δεησεις (prayers) as here. The older form was ικεσια. The word ικετηριος is an adjective from ικετης (a suppliant from ικω, to come to one) and suggests one coming with an olive-branch (ελαια). Here only in the N.T.

With strong crying and tears (μετα κραυγης ισχυρας κα δακρυων). See Lu 22:44f . for a picture of the scene in Gethsemane (anguish and pathos). No doubt the writer has in mind other times when Jesus shed tears (Joh 11:35; Lu 19:41 ), but Gethsemane chiefly.

To save him from death (σωζειν εκ θανατου). A reference to the cry of Jesus in Gethsemane (Mt 26:39 ).

Having been heard for his godly fear (εισακουσθεις απο της ευλαβειας). Old word from ευλαβης (taking hold well, Lu 2:25 from ευ, λαμβανω, the verb ευλαβεομα in N.T. only in Heb 11:7 ), in N.T. only here and 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.


Heb 5:8

Though he was a Son (καιπερ ων υιος). Concessive participle with καιπερ, regular Greek idiom as in 7:5; 12:17 .

Yet learned obedience (εμαθεν υπακοην). Second aorist active indicative of μανθανω. Succinct and crisp statement of the humanity of Jesus in full harmony with Lu 2:40,52 and with Heb 2:10 .

By the things which he suffered (αφ' ων επαθεν). There is a play on the two verbs (εμαθεν--επαθεν), paronomasia. Second aorist active indicative of πασχω. He always did his Father's will (Joh 8:29 ), but he grew in experience as in wisdom and stature and in the power of sympathy with us.


Heb 5:9

Having been made perfect (τελειωθεις). First aorist passive participle of τελειοω, the completion of the process of training mentioned by this same verb in 2:10 "by means of sufferings" (δια παθηματων) as stated again here in verse 8.

The author of eternal salvation (αιτιος σωτηριας αιωνιου). Common adjective from αιτια (cause), causing, often in Greek with σωτηριας (Aeschines, Philo), in N.T. only here, Lu 23:4,14,22; Ac 19:40 . See same idea in Heb 2:10 (αρχηγον). See Isa 45:17 .


Heb 5:10

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


Heb 5:11

Of whom (περ ου). Or "concerning which," for ου 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 (δυσερμηνευτος). Late and rare verbal compound (δυσ, ερμηνευω), 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 (νωθρο ταις ακοαις). Old adjective (papyri also), from negative νη and ωθεω, to push, no push in the hearing, slow and sluggish in mind as well as in the ears. In N.T. only here and 6:12 (slack, sluggish). Plato calls some students νωθρο (stupid).


Heb 5:12

Teachers (διδασκαλο). Predicate nominative after εινα.

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

That some one teach you the rudiments (του διδασκειν υμας τινα τα στοιχεια). Neat Greek idiom, genitive case of the articular infinitive (need of the teaching) with two accusatives of the person (υμας, you) and the thing (τα στοιχεια, the rudiments) and the accusative of general reference (τινα, as to some one). For στοιχεια see Ga 4:3,9; Col 2:8 .

Of the first principles of the oracles of God (της αρχης των λογιων του θεου). Three genitives linked to each other. Αρχης (beginning) illustrates τα στοιχεια, just before, the A B C of Christian teaching like Heb 6:1f . Λογιον 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. (Ac 7:38; Rom 3:2 ), of God's word through Christians (1Pe 4:11 ), of the substance of Christian teaching (Heb 5:12 ).

Of milk (γαλακτος). Because still babes (1Co 3:2 ) and not able to chew "solid food" (στερεας τροφης), without intellectual and spiritual teeth.


Heb 5:13

Without experience (απειρος). Old adjective (alpha privative and πειρα, trial). Inexperienced. The babe (νηπιος, old word, negative νη and επος, 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. 1:2; 2:3 for the word spoken by Christ).


Heb 5:14

For full-grown men (τελειων). Predicate genitive. The word is for adults, relative perfection (τελειο) in contrast with babes as in 1Co 2:6; 3:1; 13:11; Php 3:15; Eph 4:4 , not absolute perfection (Mt 5:48 ).

Their senses (τα αισθητηρια). The organs of perception (Stoic term for sense organs) from αισθανομα (Lu 9:45 ), in Plato, Galen, Hippocrates, here only in N.T.

Exercised (γεγυμνασμενα). Perfect passive participle of γυμναζω, to exercise (naked, γυμνος). Galen uses αισθητηρια γεγυμνασμενα together after εχω as we have here. For this predicate use of the participle with εχω see Lu 13:6; 14:19f . "By reason of use" one gains such skill.

To discern (προς διακρισιν). "For deciding between" (from διακρινω), old word with ablative καλου τε κα κακου (between good and evil). See 1Co 12:1; Rom 14:1 .

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