The Superiority of Christ‘s Priesthood
Summary —The Office of a High Priest. High Priests Chosen of God. Christ a Priest of the Order of Melchizedec. He Learned Obedience Through Suffering. The Need of Learning the Deeper Truths of the Gospel.
1–3. Every high priest taken from among men. Such as Aaron and all the high priests of Israel. Is ordained for men. He is appointed to officiate in holy things and to intercede in behalf of his fellow-men. God did not need the high priest, but men needed him. That he may offer both gifts and sacrifices. “Gifts” were strictly bloodless offerings, while “sacrifices” required the life of the victim. These were offered in behalf of men, either by the high priest in person, or under his direction. 2. Who can have compassion, etc. It is needful that the high priest be one in sympathy with men, because he has experienced in person the common infirmities of the race. Otherwise, how could he be a merciful high priest touched by the infirmities of men? 3. And by reason hereof. Of his own infirmity, in that he was of men. Ought, as for the people, so also for himself. As one of a sinful 308race he needed to approach God in his own behalf, as well as in behalf of men. He offered “atonement for his own sins and for the sins of the people.” This was shown forth in the very garments he wore when he offered the national atonement once a year. On the shoulder of the ephod (Exod. 28:10) were two onyx stones, on which were engraved the names of the twelve sons of Jacob, the representatives of all the tribes of Israel, of Levi the priestly tribe as well as the others. As he stood before the mercy-seat interceding, he bore all these names before the Lord.
4–6. And no man taketh this honor unto himself. He must be called to it by God. Aaron was so appointed. See Exod. 28:1; Lev. 8:2. 5. So also Christ glorified not himself. Did not take the office of himself, but God called him to his priesthood. The time is pointed out when he was so called. It was when God said, Thou art my son, to-day have I begotten thee. This refers to when Christ was begotten from the dead, the first-born of the new creation. See Eph. 1:20–23. At this time he entered fully, at the call of God, upon his high priesthood in behalf of men. 6. A priest forever after the order of Melchisedec. Christ’s priesthood continues while time endures. He is not of the order of Aaron, but of Melchizedek, a king as well as a priest. See Gen. 14:18, 19. For a fuller discussion of the priesthood of Melchizedek, see notes on chapter 7:1–10.
7–10. Who in the days of his flesh. Christ, while on earth, is referred to. When he had offered up prayers, etc. A particular time when these earnest supplications were offered is pointed out. The agony of Gethsemane is meant. It was then that he said, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me.” Even there he was heard. For an angel descended to strengthen him. Feared. Reverenced the Father in humble submission. A pious fear is meant. 8. He learned obedience. He claimed no special exemptions because he was the Son, but learned and taught obedience in the supremest test that the world ever saw. He learned obedience experimentally. 9. Being made perfect. Fitted in all points to be our high priest by his suffering; made, not a perfect man, for he was that already, but a perfect high priest. He became the author. Was able to offer the gospel to all nations, and thus to save all them that obey him. He does not save men in disobedience. 10. Called of God an high priest. When he had suffered he was called of God an high priest, or entered upon his priesthood. Order of Melchisedec. See notes on verse 6 and chapter 7:1–10.
11–14. Of whom we have many things to say. Of Christ in his priesthood. Hard to be 309uttered. Hard to be expressed so that you will understand. The priesthood of Christ, after the order of Melchizedek, opens up some difficult questions. Seeing ye are dull of hearing. Of slow understanding. 12. When ye ought to be teachers. You have been disciples long enough to be able to teach others, but still need some one to teach you first principles. See notes on Heb. 6:1, 2. Oracles of God. God’s word. 13. Every one that useth milk, etc. Those who only understand the A B C’s of Christianity are only babes in Christ, like the babes whose food is milk. Such an one cannot handle the word of righteousness skillfully. 14. Strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age. When one has reached manhood we do not expect him to live on the food of babes. So a church member, as time goes on, ought to feed on strong meat, the higher teaching of religion. There should be growth in knowledge. Their senses exercised. The reference here is to the faculties of the soul. A Christian ought to study, to gain a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures and especially of the New Testament, to become able to teach others, and to explain the higher principles of our religion. In addition he ought to be able to discern the moral character of the environments of life, to know not only what to accept and what to reject, but how to warn his less instructed brethren. 309