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17Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. 18Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.


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17. WhereforeGreek, "Whence." Found in Paul's speech, Ac 26:19.

in all things—which are incidental to manhood, the being born, nourished, growing up, suffering. Sin is not, in the original constitution of man, a necessary attendant of manhood, so He had no sin.

it behooved him—by moral necessity, considering what the justice and love of God required of Him as Mediator (compare Heb 5:3), the office which He had voluntarily undertaken in order to "help" man (Heb 2:16).

his brethren—(Heb 2:11); "the seed of Abraham" (Heb 2:16), and so also the spiritual seed, His elect out of all mankind.

be, &c.—rather as Greek, "that He might become High Priest"; He was called so, when He was "made perfect by the things which He suffered" (Heb 2:10; Heb 5:8-10). He was actually made so, when He entered within the veil, from which last flows His ever continuing intercession as Priest for us. The death, as man, must first be, in order that the bringing in of the blood into the heavenly Holy Place might follow, in which consisted the expiation as High Priest.

merciful—to "the people" deserving wrath by "sins." Mercy is a prime requisite in a priest, since his office is to help the wretched and raise the fallen: such mercy is most likely to be found in one who has a fellow-feeling with the afflicted, having been so once Himself (Heb 4:15); not that the Son of God needed to be taught by suffering to be merciful, but that in order to save us He needed to take our manhood with all its sorrows, thereby qualifying Himself, by experimental suffering with us, to be our sympathizing High Priest, and assuring us of His entire fellow-feeling with us in every sorrow. So in the main Calvin remarks here.

faithful—true to God (Heb 3:5, 6) and to man (Heb 10:23) in the mediatorial office which He has undertaken.

high priest—which Moses was not, though "faithful" (Heb 2:1-18). Nowhere, except in Ps 110:4; Zec 6:13, and in this Epistle, is Christ expressly called a priest. In this Epistle alone His priesthood is professedly discussed; whence it is evident how necessary is this book of the New Testament. In Ps 110:1-7, and Zec 6:13, there is added mention of the kingdom of Christ, which elsewhere is spoken of without the priesthood, and that frequently. On the cross, whereon as Priest He offered the sacrifice, He had the title "King" inscribed over Him [Bengel].

to make reconciliation for the sins—rather as Greek, "to propitiate (in respect to) the sins"; "to expiate the sins." Strictly divine justice is "propitiated"; but God's love is as much from everlasting as His justice; therefore, lest Christ's sacrifice, or its typical forerunners, the legal sacrifices, should be thought to be antecedent to God's grace and love, neither are said in the Old or New Testament to have propitiated God; otherwise Christ's sacrifices might have been thought to have first induced God to love and pity man, instead of (as the fact really is) His love having originated Christ's sacrifice, whereby divine justice and divine love are harmonized. The sinner is brought by that sacrifice into God's favor, which by sin he had forfeited; hence his right prayer is, "God be propitiated (so the Greek) to me who am a sinner" (Lu 18:13). Sins bring death and "the fear of death" (Heb 2:15). He had no sin Himself, and "made reconciliation for the iniquity" of all others (Da 9:24).

of the people—"the seed of Abraham" (Heb 2:16); the literal Israel first, and then (in the design of God), through Israel, the believing Gentiles, the spiritual Israel (1Pe 2:10).

18. For—explanation of how His being made like His brethren in all things has made Him a merciful and faithful High Priest for us (Heb 2:17).

in that—rather as Greek, "wherein He suffered Himself; having been tempted, He is able to succor them that are being tempted" in the same temptation; and as "He was tempted (tried and afflicted) in all points," He is able (by the power of sympathy) to succor us in all possible temptations and trials incidental to man (Heb 4:16; 5:2). He is the antitypical Solomon, having for every grain of Abraham's seed (which were to be as the sand for number), "largeness of heart even as the sand that is on the seashore" (1Ki 4:29). "Not only as God He knows our trials, but also as man He knows them by experimental feeling."