the exhortation to hold fast their confession as set forth in
3:7 - 4:13, the apostle brings the recipients of his letter to
its central theme, Priesthood. Someone has said, "Think of
Christ as Son and Priest and you will understand the epistle."
The writer having shown the Son to be superior to prophets, angels,
Moses and Joshua, now proceeds to prove Him better than Aaron.
Note the progress of development in the argument. The prophets
were the mouthpieces of God, giving the Word to Israel. The Word
was given to the prophets through the mediations of angels. Moses
was chosen to deliver Israel from Egypt and Joshua was appointed
to bring them into Canaan. But Aaron was ordained of God to the
priesthood to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
Without a priest to make propitiation for sin, all would be of
no avail. The high priest held the highest position in the history
of Israel. Without a priest there could be no sacrifice and without
a sacrifice there would be no atonement.
Son, Israel's Messiah, our great High Priest, far surpasses Aaron,
and mediates a better covenant. From 4:14 to 8:6 this great theme
of Priesthood is presented, setting forth the Son as Priest in
all His glory an beauty. Oh that we may 'consider Him, the Apostle
and High Priest of our confession' till with bowed heads and thankful
hearts we shall be occupied with him and Him alone. Had Aaron
not taken the blood of bulls and of goats into the tabernacle,
and sprinkled it upon the mercy seat, the atonement would not
have been complete. Likewise, had not our Lord when he had offered
His own blood at Calvary, entered the tabernacle in the heaven,
our redemption would not have been completed. Our glorified High
Priest, in His body of flesh and bones at the right hand of God,
is the proof that eternal redemption has been obtained.
Son of God, the Feather's consecrated Priest, is the established
link between the Creator and His redeemed creatures. He is not
the world's High Priest. The world is not of God. He represents
His own. He lives to succor and to comfort them whom He has reconciled
through His death at Calvary. There could be no enjoyment of abiding
peace unless besides the finished work of Calvary there was a
present ministry of grace in constant sympathy with the believer's
need. When in his sore distress, conscious of his relation to
the Creator, Job cried out...... "He is not a man as I am,
that I should answer Him, and we should come together in judgment.
Neither is there any daysman betwixt us that might lay His hand
upon us both." Job 9:32,33 The distance between God in heaven
and His feeble creature here below is too vast. The contrast of
Divine holiness with that of intrinsic evil, whose presence yet
afflicts the saint while in this body, is too severe. No enduring
confidence and ease can be enjoyed without some intervening daysman
who should make God always near, and always near to succor and
to bless. The priestly ministry of the Son of God is the Father's
gracious provision to meet the believer's need.
picture of the priestly ministry of Christ is portrayed in John's
gospel. In the thirteenth chapter we see Him washing the disciples'
feet. In the seventeenth chapter we see Him in intercession as
He touches the Father's throne in prayer. Is not this a true picture
of our daysman for whom Job sorely longed to come to his aid?
With one hand upon the disciples' feet and the other hand upon
the Father's throne, we see Him laying His hands upon both the
Creator and His creatures. Such is our risen and glorified Lord
who intercedes on behalf of His own and ministers grace to meet
their every need. Because of His divine holiness and gracious
compassion, God has made such provision for His children. Though
frail creatures of dust, having no ability to maintain themselves
in an acceptable position in the presence of His holiness, the
present ministry of our great High Priest sustains them by His
intercessory word. "Wherefore He is able also to save
to the uttermost, that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth
to make intercession for them. (7:25)
2:17 our High Priest has already been described as 'merciful and
faithful.' By the incarnation and patience in suffering He has
acquired a perfect knowledge of His people's griefs. Therefore
He is merciful and is able to succor them that are tempted. His
character as 'faithful' was shown in 3:1-6 as pertaining to the
things of God. (2:17) The other aspect, 'merciful,' is now taken
up in 4:14-5:10
now our attention to the passage before us, we are confronted
with the Person Ministry and Place of Ministry of our High Priest.
In verse fourteen we notice three things: 1. What He is; 2. Where
He is; 3 Who He is. We shall deal with these in turn.
What He is ..... "A Great High Priest."
any Hebrew been asked who was the great high priest, he would
have said, Aaron was first, and as directly called, took preeminence
over all others. Aaron, the son of Amram and Jochebed could trace
his ancestors back to Adam, but Jesus, the Son of God, came from
the 'bosom of the Father.' He has a three fold greatness:
Where He is ....."Passed through the Heavens."
superiority of the Son over Aaron is here shown in that He passed
through the Heavens. The word 'into' in the authorized version
does not give the significance as does the word 'through' translated
in other version. On the day of atonement, Aaron passed through
the outer court, through the Sanctuary and through the second
veil into the Holy of Holies, into the symbolic presence of God.
But our Great High Priest passed through the atmospheric heavens,
the starry heavens and into the third heavens at the right hand
of God. He passed through 'far above angels, principalities, powers,
might and dominion;' (Eph 1:21) 'angels and principalities being
made subject unto Him." (1 Peter 3:22) Not only the pull
of gravitation would have kept Aaron from passing through the
heavens, but Satan, 'the prince and power of the air' and his
demons would have opposed his progress. But following His resurrection
triumph, the Son passed through the heavens when all forces of
evil had to give way to the mighty conqueror. Aaron 'entered the
holy places made with hands,' but the Son 'entered into heaven
itself, the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man,
now to appear in the presence of God for us." (8:2; 9:24)
Our Great High Priest is in heaven. No earthly priest, neither
the God appointed priest in Jerusalem under the old covenant,
nor the man made priest at Rome under pagan rule, could meet the
need of the child of God.
Who He is ...."Jesus the Son of God."
High Priest is none other than "Jesus of Nazareth,"
Jesus, 'which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the
spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." (Rom
1:4,5) He who had made the worlds, He who was rich in power,
glory and splendor, laid aside His glory, and condescended to
take our humanity's garb by the stoop of the incarnation, was
nailed to a felon's gibbet. Though He died and was buried,
the grave could not hold Him. He arose by the power of the Spirit
and was vindicated, declared, marked off to be the Son of God.
No one but the Son of God, the One who came from the bosom of
the Father, the Sinless One, could triumph over hell and death.
If Jesus, the Son of David, was less than the Son of God, he could
not be in the presence of God today. The writer says: "We
have a great High Priest." The verb 'to have' means more
than mere possession. It means to be conscious of our possession.
Se many Christian today do not seem to be aware of the fact that
'we have a great high priest.' One may have a bank account but
not be aware that money had been put into his account. He does
not know of his privilege to cash in and enjoy what is rightfully
his. So today many people are not aware of their High Priest who
has passed through the heavens. He is there now. The man Christ
Jesus is The man in the glory who pleads on behalf of His own.
He is our Lawyer, our Attorney in the court of the universe. He
is our Advocate. He does no plead our cause, but His own cause,
and that for us.
have a Great High Priest. This is the sum or crowning point (8:1)
of the apostle's theme. Jesus the Son of God has passed through
the heavens into the immediate presence of God for us. A priest,
in order to succor and to comfort, must understand those whom
he represents. Our High Priest understands us perfectly. "For
we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling
of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are,
yet without sin." (4:15) Three things are to be noted in
He is compassionate or sympathetic
2. He was tempted
3. He is sinless
Sufferings which He endured, enabling Him to feel for us was a
necessity. Nevertheless, His experience gaining for Him sympathy
for redeemed creatures, must not be purchased at the cost of sin.
Only the sinless Conqueror of temptation could be the Captain
of our Salvation.
Touched with the feelings of our infirmities
compassionate character of our High Priest is stated in the words
'touched with the feeling of.' This phrase is one word in the
Greek, 'sumpathesia' from which we get our word sympathy. It is
only used twice, the other reference being Hebrews 10:34. Here
it is translated 'compassion.' He is able to sympathize, to feel
with. A sympathizer is one who comes near to you and enters intelligently
into your distress and shares your feeling about it. This is true
of the Lord Jesus, and more. We not only find that in every grief
He shares a part, but we are attracted by His grace and loveliness.
sympathizes with our infirmities, not our sins. We must not look
to Him for sympathy when we yield to sin. He cannot sympathize
with sin. Nevertheless, a penitent confession will bring forgiveness.
Infirmities are the sinless consequences of sin such as the sorrows
of life, physical limitation, and bereavement. Job had these infirmities.
He had sickness, grief and bereavement. Though Job was sustained
in his trial, he had no sympathy. He had no one who was touched
with the feeling of his infirmities. But 'we have not an high
priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.'
Notice the double negative here. "We have not an high priest
which cannot." This double negative is given to emphasize
the fact that He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities.
He was Tempted like Us
is because He was tempted in all points like we are that He is
able to sympathize with us in our infirmities. Temptation has
a twofold meaning.
1. Testing: Abraham was tempted, that is tested. (Gen 22:1) "He
was tried." (Heb 11:17)
2. Enticed to sin: This cannot be said of Christ. "Every
man is tempted (enticed) when He is drawn away of his own lust,
and enticed." Our Lord was tempted in the first sense. He
was tested or tried. He hungered. He thirsted. He knew of pain,
weariness and loneliness. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted
with grief. He endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself.
He was tempted by circumstances. He had no place to lay His head.
He was tested in that His own people, the Jews, and His mother's
own children did not believe in Him. He was constantly tested
by His own disciples, who shoed little faith and slowness of heart.
Yet Without Sin
little word 'yet' found in the authorized version is very misleading.
The literal translation read: 'without sin' or 'apart from sin.'
"he was tempted in all points apart from sin." "Apart
from' signifies having no connection with, no relationship to.
Temptation does not involve sin. The phrase 'without sin' appears
twice in Hebrews, first in f:14 and second in 9:28. In the latter
we read: "Unto them that look for Him shall He appear the
second time without sin (apart from a sin offering) unto salvation."
"Without" or "apart from" denotes an entire
absence of sin in 4:15 and of a sin offering in 9:28. Compare
James 2:26. "The body without (apart from) the spirit is
dead, so faith with (apart from) works is dead also."
the phrase 'tempted apart from sin.' Dean Alford says: "The
words imply that throughout the temptations, in their origin,
in their process, in the result, sin had nothing in Him. He was
free and separate from it." (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22; 1
may be argued that, because of His sinlessness, our Lord Jesus
is unable to enter into our position or understand our problems.
His sinlessness does not make His temptation unreal. It is because
of His sinlessness that He felt the temptation most acutely. In
his book, High Priesthood and Sacrifice, Du Boise says: "It
is not necessary that He should have Himself succumbed in order
that He should know. One knows the sin and death which one has
perfectly met and overcome better than if one had in the least
been overcome by them."
is not the one who yields to temptation but the one who resists
temptation who suffers the keenest agony. The keenest agony of
temptation can be known only by one who remains sinless. Others
are tried till they yield, and those who yield soonest suffer
least. All our temptations Christ knew, feeling them not with
our course and blunted perceptions, but with exquisite and fine
strung sensitiveness. Sinlessness can truly estimate sin, for
the very act of sinning disturbs the balance of the moral judgment.
doctor does not need to suffer a dreaded disease before he can
minister to the one who had the disease. Plato once said, "The
best doctor is the man whose knowledge, not whose experience,
of bodily ills is the greatest." A judge must not first be
a crook before he can administer justice. He who is free from
evil habits is most capable of knowing and judging guilt. A sinner
is an ill judge of sin.
Bishop Moule in the International Biblical Encyclopedia says:
"Not only is Christ's sinlessness true to Scripture, but
evidently also He was totally immune from the sense of sin, free
from all inward discord or imperfection or discontent with self.
Yet this is not automatic or effortless condition. His sinlessness
(from the human stand point) stands in the perfect fidelity to
the Father of a will exercised under human conditions, filled
absolutely with the Holy Spirit willingly received."
He was the stainless, sinless Lord. In Him was no sin. He knew
no sin. There was nothing in Him to respond to sin. There are
certain temptations which do not affect us, such as theft. Such
temptation does not affect us in the least. We are not assailable
at this point. Just as we are not assailable in one point, Christ
was not assailable in any point. Christ willed to do the will
of the Father, therefore as it was impossible for God to lie,
(Titus 1:2) so it was impossible for Christ to sin. He was God
manifested in the flesh as to His humanity. He willed the will
of the Father. He could not sin because He would not.
The question now arises - if He could not sin, how did He suffer
in the temptation? the fact that Christ was Almighty and victorious
in His resistance does not unfit Him for an example for imitation
to a weak and sorely-tempted believer. Because our Lord overcame
His temptation, it does not follow that His conflict, His victory,
did not cost Him tears and blood and His success was an easy one
for Him. (Isa. 52:14) In the struggle He cried (Matt. 26:39) Because
an army is victorious, it by no means follows that the victory
was a cheap one.
If it is true that there was nothing within to respond to sin,
in what sense did He suffer? He who is immaculately holy suffered
at the very presence of sin. The pure minded, virtuous woman who
is approached by those who would ensnare her, suffers by the suggestion
of the evil she abhors. If two women, a pure-minded virgin and
a harlot were placed in a house of ill fame, the pure-minded virgin
would suffer far more than the harlot. Christ, the infinitely
Holy One, loved righteousness and hated iniquity. He suffered
at the presence of evil and when assaulted by every evil which
Satan, evil men or poor faltering disciples could bring to bear
upon Him. "Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity
(Heb 1:9) was the testimony borne to the Son by God the Father.
There are two extremes that we must guard against:
1. Christ could not be tempted if it were impossible to sin;
2. His temptations were not real, and therefore, His humanity
is of no value to us.
Christ was truly tempted. To say that Christ was not tempted
simply because He could not sin, one might as well reason that
because an army cannot be defeated, it cannot be attacked.
His temptations were real. He was subject to physical and mental
temptations. He was open to all forms of temptation except those
that spring out from lust or corruption of nature.
Christ is the sinless One. We are sinful. Throw a lighted match
into a keg of gun powder and there is an explosion. Throw a lighted
match into a barrel of water and the fire is snuffed out. Sinful,
frail creatures of dust, when attacked, are like the gun powder.
Too often there is an explosion. But Christ Who is holy, harmless,
undefiled, separate from sinners" (7:26), when attacked,
snuffed out the temptation.
Since Christ is touched with the feelings of our infirmities,
tempted in all points as we are, apart from sin, we are told to
"come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy,
and find grace to help in time of need." The saint has a
High Priest in the presence of God which gives him boldness to
come to the throne. "Let us therefore come boldly" says
the apostle. The word here translated "boldly" or "boldness'
means all - spokeness. It means unreservedness in speech, freedom,
frankly, without concealment, fearless confidence. compare 1 John
2:28. "That we may have confidence." Thayer says: "Boldness
is the diametric opposite of being covered with shame." Such
is the privilege of every child of God. Through faith, by Christ
Jesus our Great High Priest, we have boldness to come to the throne,
not a throne of judgment but a throne of grace.
What a contrast we have here between the Old and New Covenants.
Under the Old Covenant the congregation stood afar off. Only the
high priest came into the presence of God. And he only once a
year. We under the New Covenant, have access and may come moment
by moment. Aaron, Israel's high priest and representative, stood
silent in the presence of God. But we may come with boldness,
with freedom of utterance. Aaron came to a symbolic mercy seat,
in the presence of God's symbolic manifestation. But we may come
into the very presence of God Himself. It is our privilege to
come and obtain mercy when we fail and find grace to help in time
of Need. "Let us come boldly."