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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 2 Every high priest is
taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts
and sacrifices for sins.
He is able to deal patiently 3
with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness
and so, for this reason, must make sin
offerings for himself as well as for the people.
No one takes this honor upon himself but only
when called by God, just as Aaron was.
In the same way, it was not Christ who
glorified himself in becoming high priest, but rather the one who said to him:
"You are my son; this day I have begotten you";
just as he says in another place: 4
"You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."
In the days when he was in the flesh, he
offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was
able to save him from death, 5 and he was heard because of
Son though he was, 6 he
learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect, he became the
source of eternal salvation for all who obey him,
declared by God high priest according to the
order of Melchizedek.
7 About this we have much to say, and it is
difficult to explain, for you have become sluggish in hearing.
Although you should be teachers by this time,
you need to have someone teach you again the basic elements of the utterances
of God. You need milk, (and) not solid food.
Everyone who lives on milk lacks experience of
the word of righteousness, for he is a child.
But solid food is for the mature, for those
whose faculties are trained by practice to discern good and evil.
1 [1-10] The true humanity of Jesus
(see the note on ⇒ Hebrews 2:5-18) makes him a more
rather than a less effective high priest to the Christian community. In Old
Testament tradition, the high priest was identified with the people, guilty of
personal sin just as they were (⇒ Hebrews 5:1-3).
Even so, the office was of divine appointment (⇒ Hebrews
5:4), as was also the case with the sinless Christ
(⇒ Hebrews 5:5). For ⇒ Hebrews 5:6,
see the note on ⇒ Psalm 110:4. Although Jesus was
Son of God, he was destined as a human being to learn obedience by accepting
the suffering he had to endure (⇒ Hebrews 5:8).
Because of his perfection through this experience of human suffering, he is the
cause of salvation for all (⇒ Hebrews 5:9), a high
priest according to the order of Melchizedek (⇒ Hebrews
5:10; cf ⇒ Hebrews 5:6 and
⇒ Hebrews 7:3).
2  To offer gifts and sacrifices
for sins: the author is thinking principally of the Day of Atonement rite, as
is clear from ⇒ Hebrews 9:7. This ritual was celebrated
to atone for "all the sins of the Israelites"
(⇒ Lev 16:34).
3  Deal patiently: the Greek word
metriopathein occurs only here in the Bible; this term was used by the Stoics
to designate the golden mean between excess and defect of passion. Here it
means rather the ability to sympathize.
4 [6-8] The author of Hebrews is the
only New Testament writer to cite ⇒ Psalm 110:4,
here and in ⇒ Hebrews 7:17,
⇒ 21, to show that Jesus has been called by God to
his role as priest. ⇒ Hebrews 5:7-8 deal with his
ability to sympathize with sinners, because of his own experience of the trials
and weakness of human nature, especially fear of death. In his present exalted
state, weakness is foreign to him, but he understands what we suffer because of
his previous earthly experience.
5  He offered prayers . . . to the
one who was able to save him from death: at Gethsemane (cf
⇒ Mark 14:35), though some see a broader reference
(see the note on ⇒ John 12:27).
6  Son though he was: two different
though not incompatible views of Jesus' sonship coexist in Hebrews, one
associating it with his exaltation, the other with his preexistence. The former
view is the older one (cf ⇒ Romans 1:4).
7 [⇒ 5:11-⇒ 6:20]
The central section of Hebrews
(⇒ 5:11-⇒ 10:39) opens
with a reprimand and an appeal. Those to whom the author directs his teaching
about Jesus' priesthood, which is difficult to explain, have become sluggish in
hearing and forgetful of even the basic elements (⇒ Hebrews
5:12). But rather than treating of basic teachings, the author
apparently believes that the challenge of more advanced ones may shake them out
of their inertia (therefore, ⇒ Hebrews 6:1). The six
examples of basic teaching in ⇒ Hebrews 6:1-3 are
probably derived from a traditional catechetical list. No effort is made to
address apostates, for their very hostility to the Christian message cuts them
off completely from Christ (⇒ Hebrews 6:4-8). This
harsh statement seems to rule out repentance after apostasy, but perhaps the
author deliberately uses hyperbole in order to stress the seriousness of
abandoning Christ. With ⇒ Hebrews 6:9 a milder tone
is introduced, and the criticism of the community (⇒ Hebrews
6:1-3, 9) is now balanced by an
expression of confidence that its members are living truly Christian lives, and
that God will justly reward their efforts (⇒ Hebrews
6:10). The author is concerned especially about their persevering (⇒ Hebrews
6:11-12), citing in this regard the achievement of Abraham, who
relied on God's promise and on God's oath (⇒ Hebrews
6:13-18; cf ⇒ Genesis 22:16), and
proposes to them as a firm anchor of Christian hope the high priesthood of
Christ, who is now living with God (⇒ Hebrews
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