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5. Jesus the Great High Priest

1For every high priest, being taken from among men, is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: 2who can bear gently with the ignorant and erring, for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity; 3and by reason thereof is bound, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. 4And no man taketh the honor unto himself, but when he is called of God, even as was Aaron. 5So Christ also glorified not himself to be made a high priest, but he that spake unto him,

Thou art my Son,

This day have I begotten thee:

6as he saith also in another place,

Thou art a priest for ever

After the order of Melchizedek.

7Who in the days of his flesh, having offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and having been heard for his godly fear, 8though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered; 9and having been made perfect, he became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation; 10named of God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. 11Of whom we have many things to say, and hard of interpretation, seeing ye are become dull of hearing. 12For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food. 13For every one that partaketh of milk is without experience of the word of righteousness; for he is a babe. 14But solid food is for fullgrown men, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil.

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12. For when for the time ye ought, etc. This reproof contains in it very sharp goads to rouse the Jews from their sloth. He says that it was unreasonable and disgraceful that they should still continue in the elements, in the first rudiments of knowledge, while they ought to have been teachers. “You ought,” he says, “to have been the instructors of others, but ye are not even disciples capable of comprehending an ordinary truth; for ye do not as yet understand the first rudiments of Christianity.” That he might, however, make them the more ashamed of themselves, he mentions the “first principles,” or the elements of the beginning of God’s words, as though he had said, You do not know the alphabet. We must, indeed, learn through life; for he alone is truly wise who owns that he is very far from perfect knowledge; but we ought still to profit so much by learning as not to continue always in the first principles. Nor are we to act in such a way, that what is said by Isaiah should be verified in us,

“There shall be to you a precept on precept, a precept on precept,” etc. (Isaiah 28:10;)

but we ought, on the contrary, so to exert ourselves, that our progress may correspond to the time allowed us.

Doubtless, not only years, but days also, must be accounted for; so that every one ought to strive to make progress; but few there are who summon themselves to an account as to past time, or who show any concern for the future. We are, therefore, justly punished for our sloth, for most of us remain in elements fitted for children. We are further reminded, that it is the duty of every one to impart the knowledge he has to his brethren; so that no one is to retain what he knows to himself, but to communicate it to the edification of others. 9292     Our version of this clause is very literal and compact, and sufficiently plain, “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers.” Its elegance and conciseness are not retained either by Macknight or by Stuart. What is implied in the words, “for the time,” is sufficiently evident without being expressed. As to the following sentence, “Ye have need,” etc., some difficulty has been found in the construction. I render it as follows, “Ye have again need of this — that some one should teach you the first principles of the oracles of God.” I take τίνα to be accusative before “teach.” The word “oracles” is used by Peter in the same sense, as designating the doctrines of the Gospels, 1 Peter 4:11. — Ed

Such as have need of milk. Paul uses the same metaphor in 1 Corinthians 3:2; and he reproaches the Corinthians with the same fault with what is mentioned here, at least with one that is very similar; for he says, that they were carnal and could not bear solid food. Milk then means an elementary doctrine suitable to the ignorant. Peter takes the word in another sense, when he bids us to desire the milk that is without deceit, (1 Peter 2:2;) for there is a twofold childhood, that is, as to wickedness, and as to understanding; and so Paul tells us, “Be not children in understanding, but in wickedness.” (1 Corinthians 14:20.) They then who are so tender that they cannot receive the higher doctrine, are by way of reproach called children.

For the right application of doctrines is to join us together, so that we may grow to a perfect manhood, to the measure of full age, and that we should not be like children, tossed here and there, and carried about by every wind of doctrine. (Ephesians 4:14.) We must indeed show some indulgence to those who have not yet known much of Christ, if they are not capable as yet of receiving solid food, but he who has had time to grow, if he till continues a child, is not entitled to any excuse. We indeed see that Isaiah brands the reprobate with this mark, that they were like children newly weaned from the breasts. (Isaiah 28:9.) The doctrine of Christ does indeed minister milk to babes as well as strong meat to adults; but as the babe is nourished by the milk of its nurse, not that it may ever depend on the breast, but that it may by degrees grow and take stronger food; so also at first we must suck milk from Scripture, so that we may afterwards feed on its bread. The Apostle yet so distinguishes between milk and strong food, that he still understands sound doctrine by both, but the ignorant begin with the one, and they who are well­taught are strengthened by the other.




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