when the Scribes and Pharisees tempted him.
Ka3' bfj.owTr)Ta, scil. fyuwv, i. e. who was tempted like us ; 7rapa.Tr\r)(ruoG
yfjiutv, says Theophylact ; o^toiwe fyutv, Origen. This surely does not
imply, that temptations had, in all respects, the same influence upon him
as upon us ; but only, that he was exposed to be attacked by them, in
like manner as we are. He possessed a nature truly human, ch. ii. 14. 17 ;
he was, therefore, susceptible of being excited by the power of tempta-
tions, although he never yielded to them. So the writer :
Xwpte cifjiaprlaQ, without sin ; i. e. although assailed by temptations
of every kind, he never yielded, in any case, to their influence. He
remained sinless. But why is this here asserted ? Principally, I appre-
hend, to guard against any mistake, in respect to what the writer had
just said. To show the Hebrews, that they might depend on the sym-
pathy and compassion of their high priest, (compare ch. ii. 17, 18,) to
help them, in all the trials and difficulties to which an unshaken adhe-
rence to Christianity would subject them, he declares that Jesus was
himself subject to the like trials, in all respects. But when he had so
said, as if fearing they might draw the conclusion, that in in some cas.-s,
at least, he was (like others) overcome by them, the author immediately
adds, ^wplg ajj,apriag. It may be, that the expression implies an exhorta-
tion thus, viz. " Jesus when tried did not sin ; Christian brethren, follow
his example." I prefer, however, the former explanation.
Ver. 16. Let us y then, approach the throne of grace, yuera irappi}ffiu,
with freedom of speech ; i.e. since we have such a sympathizing, com-
passionate high priest, to offer our supplication to God, and to help us,
let us go to God with confidence that we shall receive the aid that we
need. " Ask, and ye shall receive." Ty Spovw rfjg \apiroz has reference
to the mercy-seat, in the temple, on which God is represented as sitting-
enthroned. There he heard the supplications of his people, presented
by the high priest ; there he accepted their oblations ; and from thence
he dispensed to them the blessings which they needed. Christians may
now approach the mercy-seat in heaven, by their high priest, and may
come, fjiera Trappriariag, with confidence.
"Iva Xafiujjitv cXcor, that we may obtain mercy, i. e. that compassion
may be exercised towards Christians, in their afflictions and trials.
Rat \apiv cvpwjuev .... /3o//Semv, and Jind favour in respect to timely
assistance. Xapu' does not differ much here, from tXsov, except that it
358 COMMENTARY ON HEB. V. 1.
is a word of a more generic nature. The sentiment is, be helped oppor-
tunely ; i. e. now, when we are persecuted and sorely pressed by trials,
we may obtain that aid which such seasons require. This is exactly the
idea conveyed, by evKaipov (3ori$uav, auxilium opportunum. Literally
the Greek runs thus, And find grace, with respect to opportune
Ver. 1. 'E avSpwTrwj/ Xaju/3avo/j/o, selected, taken from men. So
v, in Acts xv. 14. In a similar sense, njA is often used in
Hebrew ; and Xa/*/3anu, not unfrequently, in the classics. The meaning
is, that priests, appointed according to the usages of the Levitical law, are
appointed to have the oversight of the religious concerns of the people,
specially to make their oblations and sacrifices.
'YTrep av%o7rwv KraStVarcu ra irpog TOV Qeov, is constituted for the
benefit of men, in relation to their concerns with God. KaStearcu is
often employed to designate an appointment to office of any kind ; e. g.
Matt. xxiv. 45. Luke xii. 14, et al. So, also, it is used by heathen
writers. 'Y^p, for the benefit of, for the sake of, on account of; a
frequent use of the word. To. irpug TOV QEOV, for Kara TO., K. T. X. there
being an ellipsis of the preposition, which is very common in such cases.
The idea is, " In respect to their religious concerns ; in regard to business
which they have to transact with God ;" particularly,
"Iva Trpofftytpy .... ct^uaprtwv, that he may offer [to God] both oblations
and sacrifices for sin. Awpa I take here to mean, the various kinds
of thank-offerings, &c. that were to be presented to God, agreeably to
the ritual established by Moses ; and %ffias, the various sin and tres-
pass offerings, that were made with slain beasts. To the act of slaying
SvcrictQ refers, as it is derived from -Svw, to kill. In all these, and the
like concerns, the high priest was to act the part of an internuntius, a
mediator, between God and men ; i. e. he was to aid men in regard to
their spiritual or religious concerns. It should be remarked, however,
that <5pa sometimes includes the idea of sacrifices, e. g. ch. viii. 4, com-
pare ch. viii. 3. Yet, where both Supa and Svaia are employed, they
are not to be regarded as synonymes. Both are employed to designate
the universality of the idea intended, i. e. (in this case) offerings of
COMMENTARY ON HEB. V. 2. 359
Ver. 2. MfrpioTraSety cWa/xej/oe, one who can exercise gentleness or mo-
deration. This classic or philosophic use of the word /jerpioTraSctj/ may be
briefly explained. The Stoics maintained that a man should be ci7ra$r/,
i. e. not subject to passions, such as anger, fear, hope, joy, &c. The
Platonists, on the other hand, averred, that a wise man should be
perpioiraSrig, moderate in his affections, and not aTraSfe. The leading
sense, then, of the word juerptoTraS-tly, is to be moderate in our feelings or
passions. In our text, the connexion shows us, that this moderation
or gentleness was to be exercised by the high priest, role ayvooixn rat
irXavwfjieroig, toward those who were ignorant and erring. In other
words, he was to be lenient towards offenders, to treat them with gentle-
ness and moderation, with kindness, and not with severity. The com-
parison of Christ as a priest, in respect to this point, is presented in
c h. v . 7 9 ? and ch. vii. 2628.
'Ayvoovo-i feat TrXavwpevoie some have construed as a Hendiadys, and
rendered the phrase thus : those who ignorantly offend, or, who offend
through ignorance. But surely the indulgence of the high priest on
earth was not limited merely to this class of offenders, much less is the
clemency of our great high priest in the heavens so limited. 'Ayyoe'w is
repeatedly used by the LXX. as a translation of the Hebrew PUttf, 1$, Dt#N,
which signify, to err, to commit sin, to render one's self guilty. So Sirac.
ch. v. 18, in a great or little thing, p/ ayvoei, sin not. So Polyb. V. 11.5,
TToXepelv TOI ayvonffaffi, to make war on those who have been faulty.
But if any should think it preferable, in our verse, to retain the common
sense of ignorance, then plainly it must be construed of voluntary
criminal ignorance ; and, in such a case, irXavupevois designates those
who commit offences in consequence of such ignorance. But I prefer
the other rendering, which makes ayroovffi Kal TrXavwptroig to be an accu-
mulation of descriptive words, in order to designate offenders of various
kinds. This comports better too with fact, either in relation to the office
of the Levitical priest in the earthly sanctuary, or to that of Jesus in the
'E?rci icae . . . &*rStvtay, since he himself is compassed wich infirmity,
i. e. he is himself an offender, or, he is exposed by his weaknesses to
commit the like sins with those whose offerings he is called to present
to God. HepiKstrat, in the passive, is construed with an accusative
after it. 'A<7$cVcta means here, moral infirmity, or weakness, not
natural frailty of the physical system. The meaning is, that the high
priest, " baud ignarus mali, miseris succurrere discit."
360 COMMENTARY ON HEB. V. 3, 4, 5, 6.
Ver. 3. Kai c)id ravrnv . . . a/xaprioDv, and on this account, [viz.
because he is himself a sinner,] he must present sin-offerings, as well
for himself as for the people. Upoarfyepelv , i. e. irpovtyopav vel Overlay,
Hebrew i"6ty H/^n. HpovQlpw is the common word employed to
denote the presentation of an offering, gift, or sacrifice to God, and cor-
responds to the Hebrew H^V, or rather, H^TT in Hiphil. See the
superiority of Christ represented, in respect to the point here suggested,
in ch. vii. 2628.
Ver. 4. Kcu OVK lavr . . . 'Aapwi/, moreover, no one can assume the
honour [of the high priesthood] to himself, but he is appointed by God,
even as Aaron was. KaXou/xevoc, i. e. Sei KaXov/uevoe elvcu.
Ver. 5. Ovrw /cat ... ap-%iepa, accordingly, Christ did not claim
for himself the honour of being high priest, or, Christ did not exalt
himself to the honour of being high priest. Aoaeiv, to exalt, to
claim honour for, John viii. 54. Rom. xi. 13.
'AX\' 6 XaXrjarag ... ycytWr/ka at, but he who said to him, Thou
art my son, this day have I begotten thee, ecJo^ao-ev avrov, exalted
him.] So the ellipsis must be supplied. The meaning is, exalted him
to the office of high priest ; i. e. the Father bestowed this honour upon
the Son, see on ch. i. 5 ; or, in other words, he was divinely appointed.
Ver. 6. KaS'wc KOI kv crept? Xf'y i so a ^ so nc declares in another pas-
sage [of scripture.] The declaration is, that the Father constituted
the Son a priest ; for the writer had affirmed, in ver. 4, that a priest
must be divinely constituted. The quotation is from Ps. ex. 4 ; a
Psalm which, as I have before remarked, not only the apostle and most
Christian commentators, but even the Jewish rabbies in general, agree,
has relation to the Messiah.
Sv tgpevc WLeX^KTedeK, thou art a priest for ever, after the
order of Melchisedek. 'lepeve designates here a priest generically con-
sidered. The Psalmist, and after him the apostle, does not say, apx<-
tpevg, because the sequel shows that the personage referred to must be
of the highest order of priests, viz, of the same order with that of Mei-
Kara rrtv TCL^LV, Hebrew ^JTH/T ^, i. e. DIl/I ^7, for ^ is paragogic
here. This Hebrew phrase commonly means, on account of', for the
sake of ; but such a meaning would be wholly inapposite in Ps. ex. 4.
The sense of it, as there employed, plainly is similar to that of HIT 7 !
in Deut. xv. 9; xix. 4. 1 Kings ix. 15, viz. manner, order, arrange-
ment, kind. So the classic sense of rafo is, order, arrangement, place,
COMMENTARY ON HEB. V. 6. 361
office, rank. The simple meaning is, "Thou art a priest, of an order or
rank like that of Melchisedek."
When in ver. 10, the writer repeats the quotation here made, he uses
a-PX i P * instead of teptve, the word employed in his first quotation.
The object of the quotation in ver. 6, is simply to prove, that the office
of high priest was conferred on Christ by Divine appointment ; comp.
ver. 4. and 6. The particulars of the comparison, in respect to the
priesthood of Christ and Melchisedek, are not immediately brought into
view, but suspended until the writer has introduced other considerations
relative to Christ as a priest, ch. v. 7 9. and given vent to his feelings
of concern for those whom he was addressing, by suggesting various
considerations, adapted to reprove, ch. v. 11 14; to warn, ch. vi.
1 9; as well as to excite and animate them, ch. vi. 10 20.
In regard to KO.TO. TOV alwva, it is to be taken in a qualified sense
here, as often elsewhere, e. g. compare Luke i. 33, with 1 Cor. xv.
24 28. The priesthood of Christ will doubtless continue no longer
than his mediatorial reign ; for when his reign as mediator ceases, his
whole work both as mediator and as priest will have been accomplished.
In respect to the application of Ps. ex. to the Messiah, see Matt,
xxii. 41 45. certain it is, from this passage, that Jesus considered
and treated this Psalm as applying to himself.
The three following verses I take to be a comment on ch. v. 2 ; or,
to express my meaning more fully, a comparison of Christ, as a priest,
which the Jewish priests, who being themselves compassed with infirmity,
were taught by experience yuerptoTraS'tTv TOLQ ajvoovai KCU irXav^fjievoiQ.
It is, however, only the infirmities of one exposed to suffering, that are
brought to view here. These Christ possessed in full, so that he could,
like other priests, sympathize with those who are tempted, and tried by
suffering. None of his disciples are tried more severely than he was.
The writer, however, does not complete this topic here. He breaks
off, in order to pursue the course of thought to which the introduction
of Melchisedek's priesthood led him, and for the sake of inserting prac-
tical warning, reproof, and exhortation, ch. v. 11. vii.55; and in ch.
vii.26, he resumes the consideration of the topic thus interrupted, and
shows, that as to sinful infirmities, Christ was not to be compared
with the Jewish priests ; for he had none of them. Thus, while,
like other priests, he was fitted to exercise compassion on those who
are suffering and are tempted, he was altogether superior to them in
the moral perfection of his own character. He needed no sin-offering
362 COMMENTARY ON HEB. V. 7.
for himself, (compare ch. v. 4 ;) but was high priest in a state, where
he was ei rov alwva reTtXeuofjievov, ch. vii. 26 28.
Ver. 7. *Oe h rate rjpepaig rijg ffapKOQ ai/rov, who, during the time oj
his incarnation, 'Hfjiepat, like the Hebrew D* 1 ^, means, time, season,
Trjs crapKoc 1 understand, as designating the condition of the LOGOS
incarnate, or kv <rap/d ; compare John i. 1. 14. 1 Tim. iii. 16. The
whole expression designates the period of the Saviour's humiliation;
when " he was tempted in all points as we are," ch. iv. 15.
A//(7te /ecu iKernpias . . . TrpotreveyKctG, offered up prayers and sup-
plications. These two words are often joined, by profane writers ; e. g.
iKcrnpias TroXXac KOI StiiaeiQ TrowvfjLevot, Isoc. de Pace. Xwpi? fie iKeTrj-
pictQ KUI Sefoews, Philo de Cherub, p. 116. So also Lucian and Plu-
tarch. Some critics have referred f>/0-ie to prayers proceeding from a
sense of need ; and tKernpiag to submissive intercession. But although,
in some cases, the words may be thus employed, they are generally
used as synonymous, or nearly so. The conjunction of both these
synonymes denotes intensive supplication or intercession ; a mode of
expressing intensity, which is very frequent in the sacred writings.
ITpoc TOV ^vvafjiEvov ah&iv O.VTOV e/c SCLVCLTOV, i. e. to the sovereign
Lord of life and death, the " God in whose hands our breath is, and
whose are all our ways :" a periphrasis, in this case, which means, God
who is possessed of supreme power, or, the sovereign Lord of life arid
Mtrct Kpavyrjg tff-^ypag Kai SaKpvwv, voce altd et lacrymis, with loud
cries, and with tears or weeping. See Luke xxii. 41 44. Matt. xxvi.
38, 39 ; xxvii. 46. Mark xv. 3436. Compare Luke xii. 50. John
xii. 27, 28. Kpauyj/c Ifr-^vpd^ denotes the intensity of the voice, as
raised high by agonizing supplication, Luke xxii. 44. The evangelists
do not mention the weeping of the Saviour ; but who can doubt that
he did weep, when he prayed in such an agony, that he sweat as it were
drops of blood? Luke xxii. 14.
Kcu tlcraKovtrSeiQ euro rijg evXafitiaQ, and was heard in respect to that
which he feared, or was delivered from that which he feared. The
classic sense of evXafieia is, fear, dread ; and this is the sense in which
it is commonly employed in the Septuagint. But as the Hebrew words
Hi'VT' and K^V mean, reverence and to revere, as well as fear, and to
fear, or to dread, so the Greek evXafieia, tvXafifo, yXa/3e'w, are some-
times employed to designate the idea of reverence, and consequently
(like rflPP ri^T) of piety, devotion, religion. But the usual classic
COMMENTARY ON HEB. V. 8. 363
sense of the word is to be preferred, in our verse, viz. fear, or object of
dread, like the Hebrew N"T)D. Eio-a/couw and ETCG.KOVU are frequently
employed, in the Septuagint, in order to translate the Hebrew verb HJP ;
and rt}y very often means, to answer a prayer or request. To answer
a request for deliverance, is to deliver or save from. This sense the verb
Jtjy sometimes has ; e. g. Ps. xxii. 22, from the horns of the wild bull
^fpyy deliver me, (the preceding parallelism has '^jPttfiH save me ;)
Job xxxv. 12, from the pride of the wicked PO^ Vfo ? he [God] will
not deliver. So Ps. cxviii. 5 et al. We may render elaaKovtrSelg, then,
was delivered. Still, this is not absolutely necessary, inasmuch as he
was heard in respect to the object of fear, gives the same sense, viz.
from that which he dreaded Christ was delivered, or, his entreaties were
listened to in respect to that which he dreaded. 'ATTO, like the Hebrew
]/3> D is sometimes employed in the sense of, quod attinet ad, so that it
accords with the general meaning of Trepi ; e. g. in Acts xvii. 2. See
Schleusner Lex. axo, No. 18, Gesen. Heb. Lex. |D No. 4. If EiaaKovar-
Sels be translated (as the Hebrew H^ in some cases should be ren-
dered,) was delivered, then the usual sense of cnrb is perfectly appro-
priate ; and, on this account, I have thought such a translation to be
preferable, and made it accordingly. See EXCURSUS XI.
Ver. 8. KcuVfp &v vlog .... viraKoriv, although a Son, yet did he learn
obedience by suffering ; i. e. although he was God's only and well-
beloved Son, a personage of such exalted dignity, yet was he put to the
trial of obedience in the midst of sufferings ; or, he was subjected to
learn experimentally, what it is to obey in the midst of sufferings. So
I interpret this somewhat difficult and much agitated verse. I cannot
suppose the object of the writer to be, an assertion that Christ did not
understand the nature of obedience or recognize the duty of it, before
he suffered ; but that it pleased God to exalt him to glory, in the way
of obedience rendered by suffering as well as by action. Such is the
sentiment in ch. ii. 10. Of such an obedience our epistle speaks, in
ch. x. 7, quoted from Ps. xl. 8, 9 ; and such is that mentioned in Phil,
ii. 8, obedience unto death, even the death of the cross, which, in the
sequel, is asserted to be the special ground of Christ's exaltation to the
throne of the universe. To mention such an obedience here, is altoge-
ther apposite to the apostle's design ; which was, fully to impress on the
Hebrews the sympathizing and compassionate nature of the Saviour, and
his fitness to succour those who were under sufferings and trials ; com-
pare ii. 17, 18 ; iv. 15, 16. The same is implied in ch. v. 1, 2.
364 COMMENTARY ON HEB. V. 9, 10, 11.
Ver. 9. Kut TeXeuiiStig .... aiwviov, then, when exalted to glory, he
became the author of eternal salvation [he procured salvation] for all
those who obey him. For reXeiwSete, see on ch. ii. 10, where is the same
sentiment as here ; and where Christ, who is here said to be a'irtoe o-wr^-
pt'ae, is called TOV apx*?yov T^Q o-wr^pme, which has the same meaning 1 .
As to ch. ii. 10, the whole of the preceding context there, is occupied
with showing the exaltation or kingly dignity of Christ ; and to this state
of exaltation rcXcuo&fc undoubtedly refers here. There is also conveyed,
by ver. 9, an intimation that Christ's very sufferings stand in an intimate
and necessary connexion with his exaltation to the kingly office, so that
he is a kingly priest, as Melchisedek also was. There is evidently no
necessity, however, of including ver. 7 9 in parenthesis, as many com-
mentators have done ; nor of regarding them as an interruption of the
apostle's discourse. The fact is, as we have seen in the illustration
above, that a new topic or head is introduced by them, which is broken
off in the manner of Paul, in ch. v. 11, and resumed in ch. vii. 26.
Ver. 10. npoo-ayopev&tt; .... McX^t^^efc, being called by God, [as I
was saying,] a high priest, after the order of Melchisedek. Upovayopevu
means, to name, to salute by calling a name, to greet. The meaning is,
that Christ is greeted, or saluted, by the name or appellation, ap^iepevc,
]rtb. In the Septuagint, Ps. cix. 4, [ex. 4,] and above, in ver. 6, it
is iepevg. But the Hebrew ]T13 means either ap^tepevg, or lepevQ ; see
Lev. iv. 16, et al. ; so that the apostle might render the original, in
Ps. ex. 4, by either Greek word, as he has done.
Having thus introduced the subject of Christ's exaltation as priest, the
nature of the comparison introduced, viz. the comparison of Christ's
priesthood with that of Melchisedek, occasions the writer to stop short,
in order to comment on this, and also to give utterance, in the first
place, to his emotions of concern for those whom he addressed. The
difficulty and obscurity of the subject which he is about to discuss, are,
in his view, occasioned principally by the low state of religious knowledge
in those whom he addresses. This he tells them very plainly, in order
to reprove them for the little progress they had made in Christian know-
ledge, as well as to guard them against objecting to what he is about
Ver. 11. Htpt ou TroXve TIJJUV oXoyog .... \eytiv, respecting whom we
have much to say. So Lysias in Panoc. TTO\VQ av eir) JJLOI Xoyoe ti}yct<rcu.
Dionys. Harlicar. I. 23. Trept &v rroXve av eirj Xoyog,
Km SvveppirevTog, and difficult of explanation, from cu>g and t
COMMENTARY ON HEB. V. 12. 365
Critics frequently couple the word Xeyeiv, which follows, with
vtvTog ; but the example above, from Lysias, shows that it should be
associated with the former clause of the verse. The grammatical con-
struction, or arrangement, I take to be this : Trepi ov [TO] Xeyeir, TroXve
fjfjiiv, [tin] o \6yog ; the infinitive \tyeiv being used as a noun in the
nominative, or as the subject of the sentence, according to a common
'ETTEI rw^pot yeyovare raig aKocug, since ye are dull of apprehension,
or, slow in understanding. Tcu anodic, lit. in hearing. But dfcouw, to
hear, means often to perceive, to understand, like the Hebrew #D$.
The reason why they are so dull in respect to understanding religious
subjects, is next suggested by the writer ; doubtless with the design
of reproving those whom he addresses, for their neglect to make a
suitable progress in Christian knowledge.
Ver. 12. Kat yap o^dXovTeg .... "^povov,for when ye ought to be even
capable of teaching, as it respects the length of time, viz. since ye made
a profession of the Christian religion. The writer, doubtless, does not
mean to say, that the whole church whom he addressed should actually
be teachers ; but that they ought to have made advances enough in the
knowledge of spiritual subjects, to be able to teach in them; or, in other
words, ought to have made very considerable acquisitions in religious
knowledge, considering the length of time that had elapsed since they
professed to be Christians, Aid, after, so before words signifying time ;
e. g. Matt. xxvi. 61. Mark xiv. 58 ; ii. 1. Acts xxiv. 17. Gal. ii. 1.
IldXiv xpeiai' t'x^e .... rov QEOV, ye have need that one should
again teach you the very rudiments of divine doctrine. Sroi^a, ele-
ments or rudiments of any science. ^Toiyjiia. Trjg apx^/c, the rudiments of
the beginning, is the same as Horace's elementa prima, Serm. I. The
idea is expressed by the phrase, very rudiments or first elements, ele-
menta prima. Twv XoytW rov Qtov, I should refer particularly to those
parts of the Old Testament, which have a respect to the Christian
religion, and especially to the Messiah, were it not that in ch. vi. 13,
the writer has shown that he means the rudiments of Christian doctrine
in its appropriate sense. AoytW Geov then must mean here, doctrines or
communications of God, viz. which God has revealed under the gospel,
i.e. divine doctrine, or doctrines of divine original.
This feeble, imperfect, spiritual condition, the writer now describes
by a very appropriate figure, taken from the aliment and condition of
366 COMMENTARY ON HEB. V. 13, 14.
Kai yeyovctTs xpeiav .... Tpofyrjg, and ye have become [like] those
who need milk, and not solid nourishment; literally, ye have become
those who need, &c. But the particle of similitude is, in such cases,
very often omitted in the Old Testament and in the New. The meaning
is, " Ye have in spiritual things become as children are in regard to
food, i. e. unable to bear or to digest any thing but the most light
and simple nourishment ; ye cannot understand or bear the higher and
more difficult doctrines, ye cannot properly apprehend them when they
are proposed to you." Tpo^, nourishment, any kind of food, not meat
Ver. 13. Ilac yap 6 juerexwv .... vf]7rioG yap earn, now, every one
who partakes of milk, is unskilled in the doctrine of salvation, for he is