THE BOOK OF HEBREWS
James Deering, AncientPath.net
|1.||The Visualized Text|
|2.||Questions to be Explored|
THE VISUALIZED TEXT (NASB) (conjunctions
& prepositions underlined,
words not in original text in italics)
(alternate text in purple)
(Gray horizontal lines are paragraph divisions)
every high priest
taken from among men
on behalf of men
in things pertaining to God,
in order to offer
gifts and sacrifices
can deal gently with the (lit., being able to)
since he himself also
is beset with weakness; (or, subject to weakness)
and because of it
to offer sacrifices for sins,
as for the people,
so also for himself.
no one takes the honor to himself,
but receives it
when he is called by God,
even as Aaron was.
Christ did not glorify Himself
so as to become a high priest,
He who said to Him,
"THOU ART MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN THEE";
He says also in another passage,
"THOU ART A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK." (BibSac Ref 1)
In the days of His flesh,
He offered up both
tears to the One
able to save Him from death (or, out of), and
He was heard because of His piety.
Although He was a Son,
He learned obedience
from the things which He suffered.
having been made perfect,
to all those who obey Him
the source of eternal salvation,
being designated by God
as a high priest
according to the order of Melchizedek.
Concerning him (or, this)
we have much to say,
and it is hard to explain,
since you have become dull of hearing.
though by this time (lit., because of the time)
you ought to be teachers,
you have need again for someone to teach you
the elementary principles (or, elements of the beginning) of the oracles of God, and
you have come to need
not solid food.
everyone who partakes only of milk
is not accustomed to the word of righteousness,
for he is a babe.
solid food is for the mature,
who because of practice
have their senses trained
to discern good and evil.
ABOUT: (Questions to be
explored based on this study's verses)
For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins;
1. What is the significance of the word "For" here?
2. How many is every?
3. What are the differences between an High Priest and a Priest?
4. What is the significance of using the word "taken" here?
5. How did one get to be High Priest?
6. What were the duties of the High Priest?
7. Consider the two expressions 1. "taken from among men" and 2. appointed on behalf of men."
8. What is the significance of the word "appointed" here?
9. Who appoints the High Priest?
10. Why was only one man appointed High Priest?
11. Consider the expression "pertaining to God."
12. What is the significance of the expression "in order to"?
13. Consider the implications of the word "offer."
14. Why was it the High Priest who offered gifts and sacrifices for sins?
15. What were some of the gifts offered to God?
16. What were some of the sacrifices offered to God?
17. What was the sole purpose of these gifts and sacrifices?
he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness;
1. Who can deal gently?
2. With whom does he deal gently?
a. What about those who are not either ignorant or misguided?
b. What about those who sin intentionally, knowing better?
c. What offerings were available for them?
4. What is the significance of the word "since" here?
5. Who is the "he himself" here?
6. What is the significance of the word "also" here?
7. What does "is beset" mean?
8. What kind of weakness (weaknesses)?
and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself.
1. Consider the phrase "and because of it."
2. Because of what?
3. Who is the "he" spoken of here?
4. Consider the term "obligated" here.
5. What is the High Priest obligated to do?
6. (Trick Question) What kinds of sacrifices were acceptable for forgiveness of sins?
7. Rather, What kinds of sacrifices were acceptable for the atonement of sins?
8. What is the difference between forgiveness, and atonement?
9. When does forgiveness become effective?
10. How was that forgiveness attained?
11. Who attained forgiveness for the sins of man?
12. What sacrifice was made for the sins of man?
13. For whom did the High Priest offer sacrifices?
14. Was the High Priest able to forgive sins?
15. Was the High Priest able to forgive "sin"?
16. What is the difference between a person's "sin" and their "sins"?
And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.
1. Who is "no one"?
2. What honor is being spoken of here?
3. How does the High Priest get this honor?
4. Who calls him?
5. How does one get to be a Priest?
6. How does one get to be an High Priest?
7. When did Aaron become High Priest? (BibSac Ref 2)
8. How did Aaron become High Priest?
So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him, "THOU ART MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN THEE";
1. What is the significance of the term "so also" here?
2. What is the significance here of using only the name of the office of Jesus: "Christ"?
3. What did Jesus the Christ NOT do here?
4. Who did glorify Jesus the Christ?
5. What did God the Father say when He glorified the Christ?
6. When did God the Father say this?
just as He says also in another passage, "THOU ART A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK."
1. What is the significance of the term "Just as"?
2. Who said this?
3. Where is that other passage?
4. Read and consider Psalms 110.
5. According to Psalms 110, who is "a priest forever"?
6. According to Psalms 110, to what "order" does Jesus Christ belong as a Priest?
7. Why not a "Priest according to the order of Aaron"?
8. Who was Melchizedek?
9. Was he an Israelite?
10. Was he a man of the One God, our Father?
11. Where did he live?
12. Where is that now?
13. Consider: A non-Israelite, a non-member of the tribe of Levi, a non-member of the "house of Aaron," who lived in Jerusalem, was God's High Priest there, before there was a Nation of Israel, Abraham gave him tithes and offerings, and he was able to bless Abraham, and Melchizedek brought out "Bread and Wine" to Abraham.
In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.
1. In the days of Whose flesh?
2. Consider "days of His flesh."
3. Refer back to 5:5, When was the Christ begotten?
4. Refer back to 5:6, How long is Christ to be a "Priest according to the order of Melchizedek"?
5. Consider "prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears" and then Read and consider Psalms 22
6. Who is the One who could SAVE HIM from death?
7. Consider the meanings of the word death?
8. If Jesus died, did God the Father fail?
9. Since God the Father heard Him, did Jesus really die?
10. Why did God the Father hear Him?
11. Consider the word "piety." (eulabeias - n., "reverent awe")
Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.
1. Consider that Jesus, The Christ, learned human obedience through His sufferings while "in the flesh."
2. Make a list of the sufferings, hurts, trials, testings, pain, and humiliations that Jesus Suffered "in the flesh."
And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,
1. How was God "in the flesh" made perfect?
2. When did He become perfect?
3. When did He become the source of eternal salvation?
4. To whom did He become the source of eternal salvation?
5. Consider "what kind" of obedience one needs to exercise in order to Him to be the source of your salvation?
6. What has God the Father always required of anyone who wanted to belong to Him?
7. If Jesus, The Christ, is the source of eternal salvation, what must you do to be "saved"?
8. Where else can eternal salvation be obtained?
9. Have YOU found your eternal salvation in Jesus Christ?
being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
1. Who was "designated by God as High Priest"?
2. Consider the phrase "being designated by God"
3. Designated as what?
4. Consider the phrase "according to the order of Melchizedek."
5. If you are doing these verses out of order - please see the questions for 5:6-7
6. According to this verse, is Jesus Christ the High Priest of the Israelite only?, Why?
Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.
1. Concerning who?
2. Why is it hard to explain Melchizedek?
a. Melchizedek was not an Israelite.
b. Melchizedek was the Priest of the City of Salem (Jerusalem).
c. God had His Priesthood, and High Priest (among men) before Israel was a nation.
d. God had a sacrificial system (including bread and wine) for men before the LAW created a sacrificial system for the Israelites.
e. Abraham offered tithes and gifts to Melchizedek.
f. At that time, Melchizedek was High Priest to those who belonged to God the Father who were "members of the nations (later referred to as Gentiles)."
4. What kept the Israelites (Jews) from knowing these things?
5. Define "dull of hearing."
6. How had they "become" dull of hearing?
For though by this time you ought to be teachers,
(instead) you have need again for someone to teach you
the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and
(instead) you have come to need milk and not solid food.
1. What is the significance of the phrase "for though by this time"?
2. Who is the "you" here?
3. When is "this time"?
4. Who ought to be teachers?
5. What has happened instead?
6. Taught what?
7. What are the "elementary principles of the oracles of God"?
8. Who needs milk, and not solid food?
9. What does this imply about the church of the Hebrews?
10. Have you become a teacher of the "principles of the oracles of God"?
11. If not, Why not?
For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.
1. What is the significance of the word "For" here?
2. Who is "everyone who.....?
3. Who is "milk" for?
4. What is the definition here of a baby"
5. Consider the phrase "not accustomed to."
6. What is the "Word of Righteousness"?
7. Who is the "Word of Righteousness"?
8. Is it your practice to partake of "Milk" or "Solid Food"?
9. Are you "accustomed to the Word of Righteousness? If NOT, Why not?
10. If not, what does that make you?
But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
1. What is the significance of the word "But" here?
2. Consider the phrase "solid food is for the mature."
3. How does this verse define "mature"?
4. Consider the words "accustomed to" (verse 13) and "because of practice" (verse 14).
5. What are you senses?
6. How many of them are there?
7. Is it your PRACTICE to have them TRAINED to discern Good and Evil?
8. How do you train them to discern Good and Evil?
Hebrews 2:17; 8:3; 9:9; 7:27; 10:11-12
1 Corinthians 15:3
Hebrews 2:18; 4:15; 9:7; 7:28
1 Peter 2:25
Hebrews 7:27; 10:12; 9:7
Leviticus 9:7; 16:6
Numbers 16:40; 18:7
2 Chronicles 26:18
1 Chronicles 23:13
Hebrews 2:17; 5:10: 1:1
Psalms 110:4; Hebrews 7:17; 5:10; 6:20; 7:11, 17
Matthew 26:39, 42, 44
Mark 14:36, 39
Luke 22:41, 44
Matthew 27:46, 50
Mark 15:34, 37
Hebrews 12:28; 11:7
Hebrews 2:17; 5:5; 5:6
1 Corinthians 3:2
1 Peter 2:2
1 Corinthians 3:1; 14:20
1 Peter 2:2
1 Corinthians 2:6
1 Timothy 4:7
|1.||The Visualized Text|
|2.||Questions to be Explored|
1 John F. Walvoord, Dallas Theological Seminary: "Series in Christology — Part 5: The Incarnation of the Son of God" Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 106. Dallas Theological Seminary, 1949; 2002, S. 106:27
The Old Testament priesthoods. In
previous discussion both Aaron and Melchizedek were found to be types of
Christ.2 Both the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods are types of the
priesthood of Christ. The earliest kind of priesthood in the Old Testament
followed the pattern of the patriarchs. In this system the father or head of the
family was also its priest. In a general way even this priesthood anticipated
Christ, but in Aaron and Melchizedek there is a full and detailed revelation.
The argument in the Epistle to the Hebrews in support of the superiority of Christ to the Aaronic priesthood is based on the anticipation in Melchizedek. As to order of priesthood, Melchizedek in type brings out the fact that Christ is supreme over all other priesthoods, introducing a new order entirely; that His priesthood is eternal, i.e., had no successors, no beginning or ending; that the priesthood of Christ is untransmitted and untransmissible (Heb 7:24); and that it is based on resurrection anticipated in the elements of memorial, bread and wine.
The Nature of the High Priesthood of Christ
The essentials of priesthood. In order to understand the nature of priesthood, it is necessary, first of all, to define what is meant by a priest. W. G. Moorehead defines a priest in this way: “One who is duly qualified to minister in sacred things, particularly to offer sacrifices at the altar, and to act as mediator between men and God.” According to Scripture, Christ fulfilled all of the essential qualities of a priest. He ministered in sacred things (Heb 5:1). His life and ministry were concerned with “things pertaining to God.” Christ was made a priest by God Himself (Heb 5:4–10) in contrast to contemporary high priests who were elected under authority of the Roman government in a manner unrecognized by the Scriptures. According to 1 Timothy 2:5, Christ was a true mediator. He offered sacrifice to God (Heb 9:26). On the basis of His sacrifice, Christ offered intercession to God (Heb 7:25). In all of these respects, it is evident that the priesthood of Christ unquestionably is established as valid and fulfilling the full-orbed ministry of a priest.
Christ in His priesthood as the antitype of Melchizedek. According to the Epistle to the Hebrews, Christ fulfilled that which was anticipated in Melchizedek, the priest, to whom Abraham gave tithes. Many similarities can be traced between Melchizedek and Christ, which are brought out in the argument of Hebrews supporting the teaching that Christ is superior to and supplanted the Aaronic priesthood.
1. According to the general argument of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Christ is supreme over all other priesthoods and especially superior in every way to the Aaronic priesthood. The ministry of Christ as priest, both in His person and work, was not an improvement of the Aaronic system, but a new order entirely. Christ in His work as a high priest fulfilled much that was anticipated in the Aaronic priesthood. Christ in His person and order as a priest fulfilled that which was anticipated by Melchizedek. The supremacy of Christ’s priesthood is supported by its principal characteristics, namely, that it is eternal, untransmissible, and based on supernatural resurrection.
2. The eternity of the priesthood of Christ is in contrast to the Aaronic priesthood which had a beginning when God appointed Aaron and his descendants to be priests for Israel.
In the eternal quality of His priesthood, Christ fulfilled that which was anticipated in part in Melchizedek, who according to the Scriptures was “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually” (Heb 7:3). Although some have thought that Melchizedek was actually a theophany, that is, an appearance of Christ in the form of Melchizedek to Abraham, the more probable view is that Hebrews means only that Melchizedek, unlike Aaronic priests, had no recorded genealogy. He was a priest independent of his father or his successor. In other words, he was not dependent on his genealogy, in sharp contrast to the Aaronic priesthood which depended upon it completely. The predecessors and successors of Melchizedek are not mentioned in the Bible, and the validity of the Melchizedek priesthood does not rest upon this background.
Typically, Melchizedek represented an eternal priesthood, such as is fulfilled in Christ, whose priesthood is not dependent upon either predecessors nor successors. The eternal priesthood of Christ in the Melchizedek type is brought out in Hebrews 5:5, 6, 9 which states that Christ fulfilled Psalm 110:4: “Jehovah hath sworn, and will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” It is for this reason that Christ is revealed to be “the author of eternal salvation” (Heb 5:9). According to Hebrews 7:16–17, Christ’s priesthood is “after the power of an endless life.” In like manner, in Hebrews 7:23–26, in contrast to the Aaronic priesthood, Christ is revealed to continue eternally in His office as a priest as well as in His work of intercession. It is for this reason that He needs no successors.
One of the problems which are raised concerning the eternal priesthood of Christ is the question of the point in time when Christ assumed His priestly office. Probably the most common tendency has been to assume that His priestly work began with the cross and the glorification that followed His resurrection. As William Milligan points out: “Such writers as Tholuck, Riehm, Hofmann, Delitzsch, Davidson, and Westcott admit with more or less distinctness that the High-priesthood of our Lord began with His Glorification; but they cannot allow that the death upon the cross was not ‘an essential part of His Highpriest’s work, performed in the outer court, that is, in this world,’ and they are thus driven to the expedient of saying that, Highpriestly as that act was, the Priesthood of Christ only attained its completeness after His resurrection. This distinction, however, between incompleteness and completeness cannot be maintained; and the true solution appears to be suggested by our Lord’s own words. It began upon the cross, and the cross was the beginning of His glory.”
It is clear from Scripture, however, that Christ long before His dying on the cross served as a priest in the sense of interceding for man and acting as mediator. On occasion He prayed all night, and specifically, according to Luke 22:32, Christ declared of Peter, “I made supplication for thee, that thy faith fail not.” Inasmuch as intercession is a priestly function, Christ was doing the work of a priest.
Another suggestion which has been offered is that the baptism of Christ by John the Baptist was His induction into the priestly office, fulfilling that which was represented in the induction to the Aaronic priesthood of the Old Testament where the priest was given a bath. Still others point to the incarnation as the beginning of His priestly work in that the union of God and man was necessary for Christ to be the true mediator. While each of these points of view has some factors to commend it, the solution seems to be that Christ’s priesthood is eternal as to its office, and temporal in its fulfillment as far as ministry is concerned. It is true that the priesthood of Christ depended upon His incarnation, sacrifice, and glorification, all of which was prerequisite to His work as priest at the right hand of the Father. The office of Christ as priest, however, can be considered eternal in the same sense that Christ is the Savior eternally. In support of this point of view, Psalm 110:4 is quoted in Hebrews 7:20–21: “Jehovah hath sworn, and will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” Here the argument is that Christ as a priest was so constituted, not by ordinary appointment in time, but was made a priest by the eternal oath of God. As Psalm 110 was written a thousand years before the birth of Christ, it would seem at that time that Christ was already regarded as a priest and hence, His priesthood did not begin at some later time, such as the time of His incarnation, baptism, or death on the cross. The priesthood of Christ, then, instead of resting on an earthly lineage, historic beginning, ordinances, or sacrifice, instead, originated in the eternal oath of God.
3. Not only was Christ’s priesthood eternal, but it also was untransmissible. In other words, it was not passed on to another as was characteristic of the Aaronic priesthood. An eternal priesthood is by nature based on the eternal oath of God, a priesthood which cannot and is not passed to a successor. This is the thought of Hebrews 7:24, “But he, because he abideth for ever, hath his priesthood unchangeable.” The argument, however, hinges in part on the word unchangeable (aparabaton). Westcott insists, however, that the word does not mean untransmissible, but only inviolable, and he would translate the passage, “He, because He abideth for ever, hath His priesthood inviolable.”3 Thayer, however, while admitting the force of the argument of Westcott believes the context indicates that the word here is used in the sense of being “unchangeable and therefore not liable to pass to a successor.”4 Even Westcott agrees that Christ’s priesthood is, as a matter of fact, not transmitted and only argues that the verse itself does not say this in so many words. The discussion which immediately follows in Hebrews 7:25 states the fact that the resurrection of Christ makes possible His eternal function as a priest and intercessor: “Wherefore also he is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near unto God through him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Most orthodox scholars consider it self-evident that the priesthood of Christ is never transmitted to another and that this therefore contradicts the Roman Catholic concept of the idea of priests and succession of popes as proceeding from Christ, the High Priest. The priesthood of the believer as delineated in the Bible is based not on succession of priesthood, either by birth or by action of a church council, but on the believer’s position in Christ assured to him from the moment of his conversion. The nature of Christ’s priesthood which is based on the eternal oath is eternal in its nature, and therefore cannot be passed on to another. No one else is a high priest in the sense that Christ is.
4. The continued high priesthood of Christ is based according to the Scriptures on the fact of His resurrection. The Melchizedek type calls special attention to this while affirming that the work of Christ in sacrifice is the basis for all of His priestly work. The resurrection of Christ is the first step of His glorification which leads to His present exercise of His priesthood in heaven. This is brought out also in the symbolism of the ceremony recorded in Genesis 14:18–19 where it is recorded: “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was priest of God Most High. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth.” The bread and wine as indicated in the Lord’s Supper had the thought of a memorial rather than a sacrifice, and therefore refer to His present work in heaven rather than to the work of Christ on the cross. Melchizedek is not recorded to have offered any sacrifices because he depicted the present work of Christ in contrast to that work of Christ when He died on the cross as the Lamb of God.
The priesthood of Christ as the antitype of Aaron. In the Epistle to the Hebrews’ the Aaronic priesthood is discussed as the type of which Christ’s priesthood is the antitype. The emphasis is on the similarity of their work with Christ revealed to be superior to and superseding Aaron in His offering of sacrifices. Just as Aaron met the requirements of a priest based on genealogy and divine appointment, so Christ is revealed to be a priest because He possessed the spiritual qualifications for a priest. In every respect Christ was superior to Aaron in the duration of His priesthood, in the method of His induction into the office of priest by God, and in the fact that He possessed an untransmissible priesthood. By contrast, Aaron’s priesthood terminated, had to be succeeded by those who followed him in the priestly office, and was a temporary instead of an eternal office.
Christ is the fulfillment of the Aaronic priesthood in that it fulfills all that was anticipated in the functioning of the Aaronic priesthood. Hence Christ is said:
In a word, Christ fulfilled all that Aaron was and did. It should be borne in mind that the principal concept here is not that Christ’s priesthood was designed to fulfill Aaron’s, but rather that the Aaronic priesthood was designed by God in the first place as that which would point to Christ and which would require the sacrifice and work of Christ as priest to fulfill completely. Hence, the work of Christ as a priest does away with the former Aaronic system completely and replaces it. This is important to the argument of Hebrews, which is to demonstrate that Christ is superior to all others, be they angels, Moses, or Aaron.
One of the concepts emphasized in the Aaronic type of priesthood is that Christ is presented in His true humanity as the last Adam. According to Hebrews 4:15, Christ knew temptations except those rising from a sin nature: “For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” It may be admitted that Christ knew weakness and limitations which were unmoral in character, such as is natural to the humanity. There was, however, no involvement with sin, which led to the fact that He could “bear gently with the ignorant” (Heb 5:2). He did not have a sin nature and could not be tempted precisely as a Christian is tempted today who has a sin nature. The temptations of Christ, however, on the other hand, far exceeded those which a Christian faces today, as He made choices and faced alternatives which a Christian does not have to face. Christ, because He was human, knew agonizing prayer and suffering, and for this reason can sympathize with those who struggle (Heb 5:7–8). Christ is a part of the human race while He acted as high priest much in the same sense that Aaron remained a part of Israel while he served them as their high priest. The humanity of Christ is therefore an essential part of His priesthood.
2 John Vernon McGee, The Doctrine concerning Worship, Chapter VI, "The Lampstand of Gold Continued," Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 95. Dallas Theological Seminary, 1938; 2002, S. 95:22
"The lampstand was handmade, of beaten work, and was highly ornamented. There was a central shaft with three branches on a side, making seven branches in all. Each branch contained three sections, each section being beaten into the shape of an almond blossom, a blossom and a knop. On top of each shaft was an open almond blossom. On each of these were placed the olive oil lamps. The almond blossoms looked like wood but they were gold, reminding us of Aaron’s rod that budded. When Aaron’s priestly prerogative was in question, the budding of his almond rod established it. The almond rod, a dead branch, was made to live and bear fruit. Christ was established as the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead. It did not make Him the Son of God, for He was that from the eternal counsels of God. Resurrection confirmed it. Aaron was the God-appointed high priest, and it was confirmed by resurrection in the dead almond rod. The resurrection of Christ likewise established His priesthood. Christ is our great High Priest, because He became a man and partook of our nature, “tempted in all points as we are, sin apart.” But the primary basis of His priesthood is His Deity. The priest represented men before God. Christ is God who became a man, and it is now the God-Man who represents man. The resurrection which declared Him the Son of God likewise declared His priesthood."