Hebrews Bible Study Week 6: Chapter 5

By | January 21, 2021
This entry is part 6 of 16 in the series Hebrews Bible Study

{Updated to add: This post and many of the following posts were part of an online Bible study over the book of Hebrews that I hosted in the past on my previous blog. I am reposting here to make the resource available to anyone interested.}

Some of the ladies at my church met together last Saturday to discuss what we’ve been learning in Hebrews. It was such an encouraging time! I encourage you to let others know what you’re learning in your study. You don’t have to have a formal time to meet to do that. If you’re not used to sharing what you’re learning in your personal Bible study with others, you’ll probably feel weird/awkward doing so for a while. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem the natural thing to do for many Christians–we tend to be so preoccupied with this world. But I encourage you to do so. It’s not quite possible to exhort and encourage believers–as we are learning is a believer’s responsibility–unless we do! As you do, I would think the people around you will feel more comfortable to do the same with you.

Hebrews chapter 5 continues the section that began in 4:14, describing Jesus as a great high priest. I would go back and re-read those verses before you jump in to chapter 5 just to remind you of the context.

Here are my questions, and here is a pdf: Hebrews Chapter 5 Questions

Hebrews Chapter 5 Questions

1. Heb 4:14-16 had just described Jesus as the great high priest. Here, in 5:1, which high priests is the author describing?

2. What are these high priests appointed to do?

3. How can he deal with “the ignorant and wayward”? Why?

4. What must he do because of his weakness?

5. Did the high priests ask to become how priests? How were they chosen?

6. Aaron was chosen by God.  I suggest looking up the cross-references for vv 3-4 to see the OT descriptions given for Aaron’s appointment and sacrifices.

7. In v5 what is the point of comparison being made (“so also”)? What was true of both Christ and Aaron (and other high priests)?

8. We’ve already seen the quotation in v5. How does this quotation support Christ’s being appointed by God to be a high priest?

9. The author gives another OT quotation in v 6. What is the source of that quotation?

10. According to v6 what is true of Christ, as the author has applied this psalm to him?

11. Again, I would definitely check the cross-reference for this verse as well, especially in regard to Melchizedek. I recommend reading the whole chapter in Genesis to help give a bit of context. Figure out who Melchizedek is, what he did, and why Jesus might be compared to him. (Melchizedek is going to keep showing up in Hebrews.)

12. What are the “days of [Jesus’] flesh”? What did Jesus do during these days?

13. Why was Jesus heard? (By whom was he heard, do you think?)

14. In v8, Jesus had a certain status which makes one think he might be exempted from some difficulties. What was Jesus?

15. What did Jesus learn? How?

16. What was the result of Jesus’ learning obedience through his suffering?

17. We’ve seen the word perfect in Hebrews before. God back and try to find that verse. This should help you have a better understanding of how Jesus was “made perfect.”

18. Jesus’ being made perfect through his learned obedience in suffering made him what?

19. To whom is Jesus the source of eternal salvation?

20. This section closes in a similar way to how it began, with a description of Jesus and how he was designated. How is he described in v10?

21. The author apparently had much more to say on this subject—a subject that was hard to explain, especially since what was true of his readers? {Maybe you’ve noted all the references to hear/heard in ch’s 3-4 (I boxed them). This would make the author’s description of his readers especially revealing.}

22. What should his readers be by this time?

23. Instead, what were they in need of? What picture does he give to illustrate this sad truth?

24. He explains his analogy in vv 13-14. Everyone who lives on milk is a child who is described in what way?

25. The mature can eat solids; how are they described?

***Are you a spiritual infant who needs milk or are you able to eat solids and feed milk to infants?***

“Although [Jesus] was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:8-9 ESV).

2.27.20 Updated to add: Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t completed your own study of chapter 5 yet, I encourage you not to read my own notes yet for your own benefit!

5:1-4 These verses summed up the qualifications and duties of the Levitical priests.  They are described as follows:

  • Appointed by God to act on behalf of man in relation to God by the means of offering gifts and sacrifices for sins
  • Can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, because they are beset with weakness themselves. “The Greek verb translated ‘to deal gently’ means literally ‘to moderate anger’. The comparison and contrast with Christ is clear: Jewish high priests were at least to control their anger when dealing with those who sinned, but our high priest will actively sympathise with our weaknesses (4:15).”[1]
  • Thus, they are obligated to make sacrifices for their own sins, just like he does for the people (cf. Lev 4, 9, 16).
  • Called by God to the priesthood. Aaron is a positive example of this (Ex 28; Num 16-18). He did not take the honor for himself (and we could look to Korah, Dathan, and Abiram in Num 17 and King Uzziah in 2 Chron 26:16-21 as negative examples of this).

5:5-6 The author makes comparison between the appointment of the Levitical priests and the appointment of Jesus by God to his role as high priest. He again uses OT texts to support his statements, two psalms from which he has already quoted.

He quotes Psa 2:7 from which he had already made the case in 1:5 that Jesus was appointed by God as his Son and Heir. I think the emphasis in re-quoting is his appointment by God.

In 1:13, Psa 110:1 was quoted to show that the Son shares his Father’s throne. Here, in quoting v4, the Son also has an eternal priesthood, after the order of Melchizedek.

Put together, these psalms indicate that the Son, like the Levitical priests was appointed by God. Unlike the Levitical priests, however, the Son’s priesthood is eternal and after the order of Melchizedek, not the Levites.

5:7-8 During Jesus’ time on earth as human, he prayed with cries and tears to God. We have examples of his doing this at Gethsemane and on the cross (cf. Lk 22:40-46; 23:46; Mk 14:36; 15:34). Jesus asked God to take away the suffering that was to come, but he submitted to it at the same time (i.e., “not as I will, but as you will”). God heard the prayer (but still stayed with his eternal plan). That submissive prayer “is probably reflected in the statement that he was heard because of his reverent submission (Gk. eulabeia can also be translated ‘godly fear’). The answer to his prayer of submission was strength to endure the bitter ordeal facing him and then the triumph and glory of his resurrection.”[2]

“Son of God though he was (8; cf. v 5), he experienced the temptation to swerve from doing the will of his Father because of the suffering involved. He needed to learn what obedience to God involved in practical terms, in the conditions of human life on earth, so that he could sympathize with those similarly tested and teach us by his own example how far God ought to be submitted to and obeyed (cf. 12:1–11; 13:13).[3]

5:9-10 He was God’s Son, the Heir, yet he learned obedience through his suffering. This suffering and obedience despite the suffering was the means by which he was made perfect “(‘perfected’) i.e. ‘qualified’ or ‘made completely adequate’”[4] and could become the source of eternal salvation. “Every experience of testing prepared him for a final act of obedience to the Father in his sacrificial death (cf. 10:5–10).”[5]

Jesus became the source of salvation to all who obey him. This almost sounds like work-based salvation. But obedience here is that like Jesus—faith to trust God and do what He says. It is not like the disobedience of Israel (cf. Heb 3:18; 4:6, 11). They did not reach their rest because they were disobedient—they didn’t have faith despite what they heard and saw of God. That faith is obedience to God, positively exampled in Jesus and negatively exampled by Israel.

Again we see the emphasize on Jesus’ being designated as a Melchizedekian high priest, but the connection here is that Jesus’ high priesthood is the means of his being the source of eternal salvation.

5:11-10:39 begins a new section on Jesus the perfect High Priest after the Order of Melchizedek and the Source of Eternal Salvation.

5:9-10 give the hook phrases announcing the themes of the next session: Jesus is the Source of eternal salvation and he is a High Priest like Melchizedek.

In 5:11-6:20 the author calls his readers to progress and persevere.

The author is aware that his teaching about the priesthood of Jesus will be difficult to understand. He is going to call them out on their spiritual immaturity, warn them that a refusal to learn could be a means of their falling away and evidencing unbelief, encourage them that such is not the case, and give them hope to keep on persevering.

5:11-14 Jesus’ priesthood being like Melchizedek’s required a lot more hard-to-explain information. What made it especially hard was their dullness of hearing. This “diagnosis” should have been warning enough, but he goes on to say that by this time they should be teachers. Instead, they needed someone to teach them Bible basics, i.e., “the elementary doctrine of Christ” (cf. 6:1-2).

According to this passage, a spiritual child/baby is one who

  • Is dull of hearing and needs to be taught rather than teaching

“One sign of this developing slackness is their unwillingness or inability to be teachers. After a certain time, anyone instructed in the faith ought to be able to explain it to others (cf. 3:13; 10:24–25; 1 Thes. 5:11, 1 Pet. 3:15). If people want to be taught the elementary truths of God’s word all over again, when they should be communicating basic Christian teaching to others and desiring solid food for themselves, a serious case of arrested spiritual growth has developed.”[6]

  • Can only handle “milk”—the basic principles of God’s Word
  • Is unskilled in the Word of righteousness. This is not simply an immaturity that affects one’s head knowledge. The deficiency in the Word will affect one’s lifestyle of obedience.

“A spiritual infant is virtually defined as someone not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness, that is, teaching which can motivate them to righteousness ( 12:11).”[7]

  • Is not discerning (naturally follows if one doesn’t hear well God’s Word)

A spiritually mature person is one who

  • Can teach and handle “solid food”—more than basics of God’s Word
  • Is skilled in God’s Word
  • Has trained his powers of discernment by constant practice to distinguish good and evil (again, naturally follows when one hears well and works hard to become skilled in God’s Word)

[1] Peterson, D. G. (1994). Hebrews. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 1332). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

[2] Ibid., 1333

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid., 1334

[7] Ibid.

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