"THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS"
Christ’s Qualifications As High Priest (He 5:1-10)
1. A recurring theme in this epistle is that of Jesus as our High
Priest; He has been described as
a. A "merciful and faithful High Priest" – He 2:17
b. The "High Priest of our confession" – He 3:1
c. A "great High Priest who has passed through the heavens" – He 4:14
d. A High Priest who can "sympathize with our weaknesses" – He 4:15
2. This is in keeping with the overall purpose of the epistle…
a. Which is to show the superiority of Jesus and His new covenant
b. We have considered Jesus’ superiority to…
1) Prophets – He 1:1-3
2) Angels – He 1:4-2:18
3) Moses – He 3:1-6
…it is only natural that a comparison to Aaron and his
priesthood be made
3. The actual comparison with Aaron will follow later, but first there
is a need to…
a. Review the qualities required in high priests
b. Establish that Jesus does indeed qualify as a High Priest
— Which is what we find in the text for our study today – He 5:1-10
[For non-Jewish readers who may be unfamiliar with the role of high
priests, this section of Scripture can be enlightening and increase our
appreciation of Jesus as our High Priest.
We begin by noticing…]
I. THE QUALITIES REQUIRED IN HIGH PRIESTS (He 5:1-4)
A. DIVINE APPOINTMENT (1,He 5:4)
1. The work of the high priest involves "things pertaining to
God" – cf. He 2:17
2. He must "offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins" – cf. He 8:3
— Thus only God can rightfully select a high priest, even as God
called Aaron – e.g., Exo chapters 28, 29; Lev 8, 9; Num 16-18
B. HUMAN SYMPATHY (He 5:1-3)
1. A high priest is selected "from among men"
2. This helps to ensure a spirit of compassion…
a. Toward "those who are ignorant and going astray"
1) Note that the high priest was to make a distinction
between sins of ignorance and sins of presumption
(rebellion) – Num 15:22-31
2) Sacrifices were to be offered in behalf of the former,
but not the latter
b. For "he himself is often beset by weakness"
1) A high priest who knew his own weakness would be more
likely to be understanding of his brethren
2) It also explains why the high priest in the Old Testament
offered sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the
sins of the people – cf. Lev 16:11
— Thus a high priest would need to be well acquainted with the
"human condition" (i.e., the struggle against temptation)
[The parallel between high priests in the Old Testament and Jesus as our
High Priest does not hold true in every minute detail (e.g., He 7:26-27).
But certainly in the most fundamental ways, Jesus has the qualities to
be our High Priest, as we now consider…]
II. CHRIST’S QUALIFICATIONS AS HIGH PRIEST (He 5:5-8)
A. DIVINELY APPOINTED (Vs 5-6)
1. Christ was Divinely called to serve as High Priest, just as
2. As evidence of His calling, two Messianic prophecies are
a. His position as God’s Son – cf. Ps 2:7
b. His appointment as a priest after the order of Melchizedek
– cf. Ps 110:4
— As God’s Son, sitting and ruling at the right hand of God
(cf. Ps 110:1-3 ), His calling as a priest is only natural
B. SYMPATHETIC BECAUSE OF HIS OWN SUFFERINGS (He 5:7-8)
1. While "in the days of His flesh", Christ…
a. "offered prayers and supplications with vehement cries and
b. He prayed "to Him who was able to save Him from death"
c. He was heard "because of His godly fear"
2. That Jesus would have godly fear and offer such prayers
provides insight into the extent of His temptations and
sufferings in the flesh – cf. also He 2:18; He 4:15
3. Because He was God’s Son He knew obedience was required
from He knew the world from the beginning
a. Certainly He knew obedience as the Son of God
b. Perhaps it means He came to know what obedience involved as
one "in the flesh" (i.e., the challenge of obedience in the
midst of suffering, temptations, etc.)
— Through His suffering, Jesus certainly understands the human
condition which qualifies Him to serve as High Priest
[Qualified by virtue of His calling and His compassion to be a High
Priest, what kind of High Priest is Jesus? The next two verses
introduce two themes that will be developed much further later on…]
III. CHRIST’S CALLING AS OUR HIGH PRIEST (He 5:9-10)
A. "THE AUTHOR OF ETERNAL SALVATION" (He 5:9)
1. "Perfected" by virtue of His sufferings "in the flesh", He has
become the "author" of eternal salvation
a. The word "author" comes from aitio, meaning literally,
b. Later, we will see how Christ is the "cause" of our
salvation – cf. He 7:24-27
2. But for now, note that He is the cause of salvation for "all
those who obey Him"
a. Is obedience necessary for salvation? Consider these
1) Jesus will bring vengeance on those who have not obeyed
the gospel – 2 Th 1:7-9; cf. 1 Pe 4:17-18
2) Paul sought to bring about the "obedience to the faith"
among all the nations – Ro 1:5; Ro 16:25-26
a) But not all had obeyed the gospel – Ro 10:16
b) Yet he was grateful for those who had – Ro 6:17-18
3) Those who have obeyed the truth have purified their
souls – 1 Pe 1:22
b. If obedience is necessary for salvation, are we then saved
1) Not if by "works" you mean "meritorious works"
(works by which we EARN salvation)
2) But if you mean by "works" the "works of God"
(works by which we RECEIVE God’s unmerited gift of salvation
which God has ordained) then yes
a) E.g., believing in Christ is a "work of God" – Jn 6:28-29
b) Since repentance and baptism are likewise enjoined by
God, they too would be "works of God" that we must
obey in order to receive salvation – e.g., Ac 2:38; Ac 10:48
— Thus salvation "by grace through faith" does not preclude
the necessity of obedience to Christ and His gospel!
B. "ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK" (He 5:10)
1. Here we begin to learn the distinct nature of Christ’s
2. As prophesied in Psa 110:4, the Messiah would be "a priest
forever according to the order of Melchizedek"
3. Thus His priesthood would be different from the Aaronic or
a. Different, but would it be superior?
b. Would the difference be enough to persuade them not to
— The difference between the two priesthoods and the
superiority of Christ’s over Aaron’s is taken up later in
this epistle (cf. He 7:1-28)
1. The spiritual immaturity of the Hebrew readers will necessitate a
temporary digression (cf. He 5:11-6:20 )
2. But for the moment, the author has established "Christ’s
Qualifications As High Priest"
a. He was Divinely appointed
b. He is sympathetic because of His own sufferings
3. This makes Jesus suitable as the "author of eternal salvation"
a. But don’t forget that He is the author of salvation "to all who
b. Have you rendered obedience to the gospel of Christ? –
cf. Mk 16:15-16; Ac 2:36-39