Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 8 March 2022; Revised 19 October 2022
Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. All other Scripture quotations are from the NASB Updated Edition (1995, NASU), unless otherwise indicated. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important early Jewish sources include the following:
● DSS: the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last three centuries BC and the first century AD. Online DSS Bible.
● LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. Online.
● Josephus: The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.), Jewish historian, trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
● Philo: Works by Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, the Jewish philosopher (20 B.C.─A.D. 50), consisting of 45 monographs. Online.
● MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began under Rabbi Akiva (2nd c. A.D.), but completed by scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from the 9th century. Online.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online. Parsing data for Greek words is from Bible Hub Interlinear Bible, 2004-2021, and Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, 1980.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Hebrew and Jewish nature of the entire Bible I use the terms Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), Torah (Pentateuch, Law), ADONAI (for the sacred name in Tanakh verses), and Besekh (New Testament).
Please see the Introduction for background information on the letter. This commentary assumes that Paul the apostle wrote the letter in the Hebrew language and Luke translated it into Jewish Greek.
In this chapter Paul continues his discourse on Yeshua as the Great High Priest with a comparison to Aaron, the first high priest of Israel. The qualities necessary to be high priest and the responsibilities of the office are reviewed, which all can be found in Yeshua. The qualities are such as may be deduced from the Torah instruction for the selection of the high priest, although to what degree these qualities were manifested by high priests in the first century is debatable, the whole institution being notorious for corruption.
While Aaron as high priest might have served as a type for the Messiah, much more significant is the example of Melchizedek as descriptive of Yeshua's role as great high priest. The chapter concludes with an expression of concern for a lack of spiritual advancement beyond elementary principles among the readers of the letter. The solution is pressing on to spiritual maturity.
The Great High Priest, 5:1-5
The Priesthood of Melchizedek, 5:6-10
Spiritual Immaturity, 5:11-14
1 For every high priest being taken from men is appointed on behalf of men in things relating to God, so that he should offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.
Reference: Exodus 29:9; Leviticus 21:10.
For: Grk. gar, conj., a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that; for." The conjunction has four uses: (1) explanatory, (2) expressive of astonishment, (3) causal and, (4) inferential. The first use is intended here. The conjunction continues the exposition from the previous chapter and introduces information of which the Jewish readers would have been knowledgeable. every: Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every, the whole.
high priest: Grk. archiereus (from archē, "chief, pre-eminent one" and hiereus, "a priest"), a high or chief priest, i.e., a leader among priests. In the LXX archiereus occurs only two times in the canonical books, but 41 times in the Apocrypha (DNTT 3:35). In Leviticus 4:3 archiereus translates Heb. Hakohen Hamaschiach, "the anointed priest" and inserted in Joshua 24:33 without Heb. equivalent to describe Aaron. The Greek term was familiar to the populations of Greek and Roman provinces, since it was used of the chief religious leader in pagan cults (LSJ).
Paul presents information on the high priest from the perspective of the Torah, and not necessarily as the office existed in the first century. The Hebrew title of the high priest in Jewish culture was Ha-Kohen Ha-Gadol, which occurs 20 times in the Tanakh (Lev 21:10; Num 35:25, 28; Josh 20:6; 2Kgs 12:10; 22:4, 8; 23:4; 2Chr 34:9; Neh 3:1, 20; 13:28; Hag 1:1, 12, 14; 2:2, 4; Zech 3:1, 8; 6:11) and is translated in the LXX with ho megas ho hiereus, "the great priest."
The office of high priest was established by God to act as the nation's representative before God and God's representative before the nation, in effect a mediator. A priest for Israel had to be a direct descendant of Aaron (Ex 27:21; 28:1, 41; 29:9; 30:30) and without physical defect (Lev 21:17-23). The Torah does not specify a minimum age for the office of high priest nor a retirement age, so succession to the office would normally occur upon the death of the high priest.
He could marry only an Israelite maiden (Lev 21:13-14). He was not permitted to come in contact with the bodies of the dead, even of his parents; and he was not permitted, as a sign of mourning, to leave his hair disheveled, to expose it, or to rend his garments (Lev 21:10). The ordination ceremony extended through an entire week (Ex 29:1-29; 40:12-15; Lev 8), which included purification, offering sacrifices and being anointed with sacred oil.
The high priest wore specially designed vestments of office (Ex 28:1-43; 39:1-43): (1) a sleeveless purple robe; (2) the Ephod adorned with two onyx-stones on which were engraved the names of the tribes of Israel; (3) the breastplate with twelve gems, each engraved with the name of one of the tribes; (4) a pouch in which he probably carried the Urim and Thummim; and (5) a head-dress of a turban, the front of which bore a gold plate with the inscription "Holy unto ADONAI."
The high priest was the chief executive officer over all the priests. He shared with the priests the duties of conducting the daily sacrifices (Lev 6:14-15) and maintaining the lamp and showbread in the Holy Place (Ex 25:30; 27:21). More importantly only he could enter the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur to offer an atoning sacrifice for the nation and complete the other sacrificial requirements specified for that day (Lev 16). The high priest also acted as mediator between Israel and God (Ex 28:29), and according to his decision Israel must obey (Num 27:21). For the history of this key position see the article High Priest in the Jewish Encyclopedia.
being taken: Grk. lambanō, pres. pass. part., actively lay hold of to take or receive. from: Grk. ek, prep., "out of, from within" (DM 102). The preposition denotes exit or emission out of, as separation from, something with which there has been a close connection. men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man or mankind, used here of an adult male. In the LXX anthrōpos translates three Hebrew words: (1) adam (Gen 1:26-27); (2) ish (Gen 2:23-24) and (3) enosh (Ps 8:4-5), which are generally used for a human male or mankind (DNTT 2:564). Women could not be priests in Israel.
is appointed: Grk. kathistēmi (from kata, "down" and histēmi, "to stand"), pres., properly, set down in place, i.e. "put in charge," give standing authority or status which enables someone to rule or exercise decisive force (HELPS). on behalf of: Grk. huper, prep., lit. "over, above," used to express a stance of concern or interest relating to someone or something. With the genitive case of the noun following the preposition emphasizes a supportive aspect; for the advantage of, in behalf of, in the interest of.
people: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos. The plural noun refers to the constituent members of the congregation of Israel, both men and women. in things: n.pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. relating to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" and normally conveys motion toward (DM 110); to, toward, with. God: Grk. ho theos, properly, God, the Creator and owner of all things (John 1:1-3). In the LXX theos primarily translates the name of the Creator God Elohim (DNTT 2:67-70). Given the plural nature of Elohim the full triunity of God must be represented in theos. The definite article with the Greek name emphasizes that He is the only God in existence.
The phrase "things relating to God" summarizes a variety of responsibilities of the high priest. The high priest carried the breastplate with the names of the tribes inscribed and acted as mediator between Israel and God (Ex 28:29). He alone could consult the Urim and Thummim before God, and according to his decision Israel must obey (Num 27:21). He was in effect the chief worship leader.
so that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed; in order that, so that, that. Paul then identifies the chief responsibility of the high priest. he should offer: Grk. prospherō, pres. subj., to cause movement of something or someone to a person or place, to bring or to present. The verb is used here of a religious sacrificial offering. both: Grk. te, conj. used to denote both connection and addition, as well as connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; and, also, both.
gifts: pl. of Grk. dōron, a gift in general or a sacrificial donation or offering. This noun is used in the Besekh of the gifts the Magi presented to the baby Yeshua (Matt 2:11), miscellaneous gifts donated to the Temple treasury (Matt 15:5; Mark 7:11; Luke 21:4). Here the term refers to the prescribed sacrifices offered at the Temple. In the LXX dōron translates several Hebrew words but of relevance to this context is Heb. qorban (SH-7133), offering, oblation, often with the Grk. verb prospherō (Lev 2:1) (DNTT 2:41). The term is used here for offerings that did not provide atonement, especially the grain offerings (Guthrie).
and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The third use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect.
sacrifices: pl. of Grk. thusia, an offering devoted to the Lord on His terms, always regarding an animal victim presented for religious purposes. In the LXX thusia translates Heb. minchah (SH-4503), a gift, offering, tribute, first in Genesis 4:3 for the offering presented by Cain. This is the usual term for an offering made to the God of Israel, of any kind, whether grain or animals (BDB 585). However, Paul restricts the scope of these offerings. for: Grk. huper, prep., lit. "over, beyond," used to express a stance of concern or interest relating to someone or something, here emphasizing a supportive aspect; for, in behalf of, in the interest of.
sins: pl. of Grk. hamartia may refer to (1) a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness; (2) the result of sinning or the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. The first meaning is intended here. Hamartia is the dominant word for sin in the Besekh. In the LXX hamartia translates a range of Hebrew words for guilt and sin, particularly Heb. chata (SH-2398), miss, go wrong, lapse, sin (Gen 20:6; 39:9) and avon (SH-5771), iniquity, guilt, punishment for iniquity (Gen 15:16).
Throughout Scripture sin as a behavior is a violation of God's written commandments (Rom 3:20; 5:13; 7:7). The degree of intentionality is not a factor in defining sinful behavior, only whether the express requirements or prohibitions of Torah commandments have been violated. The Torah provided instructions for specific sacrificial offerings to atone for sin:
Burnt Offering. Heb. olah; Grk. olokautōma, a sacrifice consumed by fire (Lev 1:3). This offering was a voluntary act of worship for atonement of unintentional sin in general; or an expression of devotion, commitment and complete surrender to God. The offering had to be a bull, male sheep or goat or male bird.
Sin Offering. Heb. chatta'ah; Grk. hamartia. This offering was mandatory and provided atonement for specific unintentional sin, and involved confession of sin, forgiveness of sin and cleansing from defilement (Lev 4:1-5:13). The animal was specified as a young bull for the high priest and congregation, male goat for a leader, female goat or lamb for a common person, and a dove or pigeon for the poor
Guilt Offering. Heb. asham; Grk. plēmmeleias, trespass offering for an offense or guilt (Lev 5:15-6:7; 7:1-6). This offering was mandatory for unintentional sin against God's holy things, and or offenses against persons. The animal had to be a ram or lamb. For sins related to money restitution had to be accomplished, including nonpayment of tithe, with an added 20% fine.
The high priest shared with the ordinary priests the duties of presenting various gifts and sacrificial offerings (Ex 29:10; Lev 6:9, 14-15; 22:2, 8). However, only the high priest could enter the holy of holies on Yom Kippur to offer an atoning sacrifice for the nation and complete the other sacrificial requirements specified for that day (Lev 16:1-22). On that occasion he wore white linen garments instead of his ordinary and more costly vestments. He alone could offer the sacrifices for the sins of the priests, or of the nation, or of himself (Lev 4:1-35). In addition, the high priest could elect to participate in any of the ceremonies on the Sabbath, the New Moon, and the festivals.
2 being able to exercise forbearance with those being ignorant and those going astray, since he also is encompassed by weakness.
being able: Grk. dunamai, pres. part., the quality or state of being capable. to exercise forbearance: Grk. metriopatheō, pres. inf., to hold one's emotions in restraint, bear gently with, have compassion. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. Paul then makes reference to two categories of sinners with whom the high priest would be concerned in his atonement ministry. with those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. being ignorant: Grk. agnoeō, pl. pres. part., to be without knowledge of something; be ignorant, be uniformed. The verb is used here in reference to unintentional sin, a sin of error, inadvertence or negligence (Lev 4:1-3, 27-28; 5:18; Num 15:22-29; Deut 19:4-6).
and: Grk. kai, conj. those going astray: Grk. planaō, pl. pres. mid. part., to cause to wander, here in the sense of departing from a standard of truth or conduct; go astray, be mistaken. In the LXX planaō most frequently translates Heb. ta'ah (SH-8582), to physically wander about (Gen 21:14; 37:15), but also to err and in the ethical sense to go astray, similar to a wandering sheep (Ps 95:10; 119:110, 176). Guthrie suggests the wanderer is one who has strayed from God's path, but wants to get back. The high priest had no role to provide atonement for someone who sinned defiantly or willfully (Num 15:30-31).
since: Grk. epei, conj. used in a causal sense; since, inasmuch, because. he: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here. also: Grk. kai, conj. is clothed with: Grk. perikeimai, pres. mid., be in a position around and may mean (1) lie or be placed around; or (2) put something on, wear something (BAG). The second meaning is intended here, but in a figurative sense. Many versions translate the verb as "subject to," but Guthrie suggests "wrapped around with" or "clothed with." A few versions have "clothed" (CSB, DARBY, NASU).
weakness: Grk. astheneia, weakness, and here referring to an incapacity for functioning effectively because of some limitation or vulnerability. The term does not imply a physical disability because the high priest could not have a bodily defect (Lev 21:21). Rather the weakness is of a moral nature. Of course, the high priest wore beautiful sacred garments, but underneath he was still an ordinary man.
Ellicott comments that either apathy or undue severity in regard to transgression would disqualify this representative of men to God. The high priest was selected on the basis of genealogy and genetics, not because he was superior to or better than other men. The seriousness of his primary role in offering sacrifices for sin should result in self-examination and humility. Like other men the high priest faced temptation and was just as likely to fall short of the glory of God (cf. Eccl 7:20; Rom 3:23; Jas 3:2).
3 and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices concerning sins in the prescribed manner indeed for himself, just as for the people.
Reference: Leviticus 9:7-8; 16:3-34.
and: Grk. kai, conj. because of: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) instrumentality; through, by means of; or (2) causality; on account of, because of. The second usage applies here. it: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. See the previous verse. The pronoun refers back to "weakness" in the previous verse. he is obligated: Grk. opheilō, pres., to be under a prescribed obligation, to have a duty or to owe someone. Originally the verb belonged to the legal sphere and then later one's moral duties and responsibilities to men (DNTT 2:666). Paul alludes to the obligation specified by God in commandments He gave to Moses for priests.
to offer sacrifices: Grk. prospherō, pres. inf. See verse 1 above. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; about, concerning, in behalf of. sins: pl. of Grk. hamartia. See verse 1 above. Paul then makes reference to the requirement for sin offerings in connection with the annual day of atonement (Yom Kippur). in the prescribed manner: Grk. houtōs, adv. used to introduce the manner or way in which something has been done or to be done; thus, in this manner, way or fashion, so. The adverb refers to both the sequence of sacrificial offerings and the conduct of the ritual set forth in Leviticus 16:3-22.
indeed: Grk. kai. The conjunction is intensive here. for: Grk. peri. Here the preposition refers to action performed in the interest or aid of (someone); in behalf of. himself: Grk. autos. God required that the first sacrifice conducted by the high priest on Yom Kippur to be for himself (Lev 9:7-8; 16:6, 11, 17). The high priest could not claim to be sinless and thus his atonement had to occur first. The sacrifices for the high priest included a bull for the sin offering and a ram for the burnt offering, the blood of which he would sprinkle on the mercy seat (Lev 16:3, 14).
just as: Grk. kathōs, adv. emphasizing similarity, conformity, proportion or manner; as, just as. for: Grk. peri. Here the preposition emphasizes a substitutionary role; in behalf of. the people: Grk. ho laos, a group of humans, understood geographically or ethnically, and often in the apostolic narratives people groups associated with the God of Israel. The term corresponds to the Heb. am-ha'aretz, "people of the land," i.e., the people of Israel. The sacrifices for the people included a bull for a burnt offering and two goats for a sin offering (Lev 16:5), the blood of the first goat being sprinkled on the mercy seat (Lev 16:15).
After confessing the sins of the people over the second goat, the high priest was to release this goat alive into the wilderness (Lev 16:21-22), symbolic of removing their sins from His holy presence.
Reference: Exodus 28:1-3.
And: Grk. kai, conj. not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. just anyone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun used to indicate non-specification; a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. The pronoun is often used to distinguish an individual or group in contrast to others. Paul alludes to the distinction in roles assigned to the descendants of Levi in relation to the tabernacle. takes: Grk. lambanō, pres., actively lay hold of to take or receive. the honor: Grk. ho timē may mean (1) a valuing by which the price is fixed; or (2) honor or respect which belongs or is shown to one. The second meaning applies here.
upon himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun of the third person to denote that the agent and the person acted on are the same. Paul's readers would have been familiar with the story of Korah, a Levite who presumed to nominate himself as priest and suffered an extreme judgment of God (Num 16:1-35). but: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand, yet. only the one being called: Grk. kaleō, pres. part., to call or name, here with the sense of soliciting participation in a responsibility. by: Grk. hupo, prep., used here as a marker of agent or cause in the sense of "under the authority of."
God: Grk. ho theos, properly, God, the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, Creator, owner and ruler of all things (Gen 1:1; John 1:1-3). In the LXX the singular theos primarily translates Heb. Elohim (SH-430), first in Genesis 1:1 (DNTT 2:67-70). In Hebrew thought the plural form of Elohim represents fullness, which excludes the possible existence of any other deity (Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9). Elohim translated by Theos also represents the full triunity of God (Father + Son + Spirit). God is a Person, not a philosophical construct for monotheism.
In Scripture the phrase "being called by God" refers to a supernatural revelation. God spoke directly to many individuals to provide guidance, but there were select persons whom God "called" to participate in a divine plan and/or carry out a ministry. In the Tanakh these persons included Noah (Gen 6:13), Abraham (Gen 12:1-3), Moses (Ex 3:10), Samuel (1Sam 3:4, 20), Elijah (2Kgs 18:1), and the literary prophets. In the Besekh Yeshua personally called the Twelve (Mark 3:16), the Seventy (Luke 10:1) and then Paul (Acts 9:3-6). In the book of Acts the Holy Spirit also called certain individuals into special service (Acts 8:26-29; 13:2).
Regarding this context God informed Moses of who would serve as high priest for Israel (Ex 28:3; 30:10; 40:13). just as: Grk. kathōsper, adv., according to the manner in which something is described, corresponding to fully; just as, even as. also: Grk. kai. Aaron: Grk. Aarōn, which transliterates Heb. Aharôn, the elder brother of Moses (by three years, Ex 7:7). With his wife Elisheba, Aaron had four sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar (Ex 6:23). Aaron's life during the 40-year exile of Moses in Midian is unknown, but he maintained the faith, kept contact with Israel's leaders, and did not forget his brother (Ex 4:27-31).
When Moses complained at his calling of a lack of eloquence God chose Aaron to be a fellow spokesman before Pharaoh (Ex 4:14). Aaron repeatedly joined with Moses in presenting the demand from ADONAI to Pharaoh that he release the Israelites to go into the wilderness in order to worship their God. Aaron was also directly involved in imposing four of the ten judgment plagues on Egypt (blood, frogs, lice, and boils).
During the wilderness years Aaron's life was one of highs and lows. En route to Sinai Aaron distinguished himself by assisting in holding up the arms of Moses as he interceded for victory against the Amalekites (Ex 17:10-12). At Mt. Sinai Aaron was privileged to be one of the Israelite leaders who joined Moses on the mountain where they saw the God of Israel and ate and drank in His presence (Ex 24:9-11). As Paul notes Aaron was Israel's first high priest chosen by God and only his sons were to serve as priests at Israel's national sanctuary (Ex 28:1; 40:12-15).
Aaron was generally faithful to his priestly office after his ordination by Moses and he is presented in a favorable light in several passages:
● He assisted Moses in conducting the second census of the nation (Num 1:3, 17).
● Aaron shared with Moses the brunt of grumbling by members of the congregation as the clause "grumbled against Moses and Aaron" occurs five times (Ex 16:2; Num 14:2; 16:3, 41; 20:2).
● When Korah, Dathan, and Abiram opposed Moses and Aaron, Aaron's action to make atonement stopped a plague on the people (Num 16:46-48).
● Aaron's authority as high priest was vindicated by God in the miraculous blossoming of his staff (Num 17:1).
● God made a special covenant of salt with Aaron (Num 18:19-20). God expected that Aaron, the Levites and their descendants would be holy to the Lord. If they were faithful God promised that all of the first fruits, first issue of the womb and other offerings would belong to the seed of Aaron and that since the tribe of Levi would have no land apportioned to them the Lord would be their portion. The sign of this covenant would be salt, which was frequently added to sacrificial offerings.
Unfortunately there were three occasions in which Aaron failed God. First, while Moses was spending forty days on the mountain Aaron acceded to the demand of some of the people to let them worship other gods and the golden calf idolatry was the result (Ex 32:1-6). On his return to the camp Moses rebuked Aaron for letting the people get out of control and then invoked the judgment of God on the idolaters (Ex 32:21-29).
Second, Aaron along with his sister Miriam spoke against Moses when he decided to marry a Cushite woman (Num 12:1-15). Their opposition appeared to be motivated by jealousy. Miriam was severely judged with a skin disorder, which necessitated her isolation from the camp for seven days. Aaron was not as harshly judged. In this situation Aaron was not the instigator but the accomplice. He confessed his sin and pleaded for mercy for Miriam.
Third, when the people cried for water at Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin, Aaron joined in Moses' sin as they exercised the power of the Lord in anger (Num 20:7-13). In consequence, Aaron, like Moses, was not permitted to enter the Promised Land. At the instruction of ADONAI, Moses took Aaron up Mount Hor, transferred his garments to his son, Eleazar, and there on the first day of the fifth month of the 40th year Aaron died at the age of 123 years (Num 20:23-28).
5 So also Messiah did not exalt himself to become a high priest, but the One having said to Him, "You are my Son, today I have begotten you;"
Reference: Psalm 2:7.
So: Grk. houtōs, adv. See verse 3 above. also: Grk. kai, conj. Messiah: Grk. ho christos (from chriō, "to anoint with olive oil"), the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Anointed One or Messiah. Christos is a royal title, not a last name. This is the first mention of "Messiah" in this letter. Jewish translators of the LXX chose Christos to translate Heb. Mashiach (SH-4899), "Anointed One," and in the Tanakh Mashiach is used for the Messiah (Ps 2:2; Dan 9:25-26). Jewish anticipation of the Messiah was grounded in the future hope expressed by the Hebrew prophets of one who would come to deliver and rule as God's anointed.
The Messiah would fulfill the promises made to the patriarchs and to Israel. Those promises included redemption for Israel, destruction of the enemies of Israel, the restoration of Israel to sovereign rule in its land and establishment of the Davidic monarchy over Israel and the nations (Luke 1:32, 68-74; Acts 13:32-34). What the Jews did not expect was that in order to have a victorious Messiah, they would have to first have a suffering Messiah, one who would be an atoning sacrifice (John 1:29). For more discussion of the Jewish hope and expectation of the Messiah see my article The Messiah.
did not: Grk. ou, adv. exalt: Grk. doxazō (from doxa, "glory"), aor., enhance esteem or reputation through word (of praise) or action to honor, especially to exalt to a glorious rank. In the LXX doxazō translates Heb. navah (SH–5115), to beautify, adorn with praises (Ex 15:2), but principally kabad (SH–3513), to be weighty, to be honored or praised (Lev 10:3; Ps 15:4). The verb is used here of granting high status or investing with dignity and majesty, and occurs in the Besekh particularly of Yeshua after his resurrection (John 7:39; 12:16; Acts 3:13).
himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun. to become: Grk. ginomai, aor. pass. inf., to become, used in reference to completion of an action performed. Here the verb has the sense of being appointed, constituted, or established (Mounce). a high priest: Grk. archiereus. See verse 1 above. but: Grk. alla, conj. the One: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. Among Jews "The One" was a circumlocution for the sacred name of God (e.g., Ps 3:3; 37:24; Isa 40:26; 45:7; 49:7; Amos 9:5-6; John 1:33; Acts 17:24; 19:4; Rom 5:17; 2Cor 4:6).
"The One" is also shorthand for the early usage in Hebrew culture of "the Holy One" (Qadosh, Job 6:12; Prov 30:3; Isa 40:25; Hos 11:9, 12; Hab 3:3) and later "the Holy One of Israel" (Qadosh Yishraêl), which occurs 30 times in the Tanakh, 25 of which are in Isaiah (Isa 1:4). In this context "the One" would be the heavenly Father.
having said: Grk. laleō, aor. part., to make an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter. to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" and normally conveys motion toward (DM 110); to, toward, with. Him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Paul then quotes from Psalm 2:7, which appears outside of Hebrews only in Paul's sermon in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:33). Psalm 2 is typically classified as a royal psalm due to the mention of installing the King of Israel, as well as Messianic due to it prominent usage by the apostles in reference to Yeshua.
Psalm 2 is one the most frequently quoted psalms in the Besekh (Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22; Acts 4:25; 13:33; Heb 1:5; 5:5; Rev 2:26-27; 12:5; 19:15). Psalm 2 was authored by David according to Peter (Acts 4:25), even though there is no superscription. See my commentary on Psalm 2. You: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. are: Grk. eimi, pres., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG).
my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. Son: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios translates Heb. ben (SH-1121, "son," "son of"), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity; (2) to mean a more distant ancestor; or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of. In the Hebrew text the designation "My Son" translates ben with a first person masculine construct. Faussett notes that the connection of Sonship and priesthood is typified in the Hebrew title for priests (kohen) being given to David's sons (2Sam 8:18).
David affirmed that God has a Son. Unbelieving Jews typically object to the concept of God having a divine son and can rightly claim that at this time "Son of God' had a very human meaning. Adam was the first son of God (Luke 3:38). Then God declared that the nation of Israel was His son (Ex 4:22; Deut 14:1; Isa 63:16; 64:8; Jer 31:9; Hos 11:1). Yet, there are verses in the Tanakh that mention God having a unique Son in a very personal sense, including Psalm 2:
· "I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me." (2Sam 7:12-14 NASU)
· "6 I myself have installed my king on Tziyon, my holy mountain." … 11 Serve ADONAI with fear; rejoice, but with trembling. 12 Kiss the son, lest he be angry, and you perish along the way, when suddenly his anger blazes. How blessed are all who take refuge in him." (Ps 2:6-7, 11-12 CJB)
· "Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has cupped the wind in the palms of his hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak? Who established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son's name? Surely you know!" (Prov 30:4 CJB)
· "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." (Isa 9:6 NASU)
today: Grk. sēmeron (for Heb. yom), today, this day, now. "Today" is used to represent something in the future as if it already existed. Indeed God's sovereign decision occurred before the world began (cf. Matt 13:35; John 17:5, 24; 1Pet 1:20; 1Jn 1:1; Rev 13:8). I: Grk. egō. The pronoun refers to the Father. have begotten: Grk. gennaō, perf., to father, beget or procreate. In the LXX gennaō is used chiefly for Heb. yalad (SH-3205), to bear, bring forth, to beget, to father (first use in Gen 4:18), which can refer to either the male or female role in conception and birth (DNTT 1:176).
you: Grk. su. The pronouncement is directed to the one identified as "my Son," who is Yeshua. The verbal phrase "begotten you" could certainly allude to the incarnation and the impregnation of Miriam by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:31-35; John 1:14). Yet, Paul treats the verb "begotten" as a synonym and explanation of the verb "exalted." Guthrie observes that "the appointment by God is an indication that our high priest is wholly acceptable to God. Had he been man-appointed there would always be some doubt."
Some commentators suggest that "exalted/begotten" means that Yeshua was officially appointed or installed as the great high priest and mediator between God and man upon his ascension to the right hand of the Father. Another view is that the declaration was validated in the bat qôl ("voice from heaven") when Yeshua was immersed, "This is my beloved son" (Matt 3:16). During his ministry Yeshua acted as a priestly mediator when he pronounced forgiveness on two individuals (Matt 9:2; Luke 7:48) and implied forgiveness extended to another (John 8:11), which shocked religious leaders. Yeshua also served as a mediator on the cross when he prayed "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:24).
The Rank of Melchizedek, 5:6-10
6 as also in another psalm he says, "You are a priest for the age, according to the order of Melchizedek."
Reference: Psalm 110:4.
as: Grk. kathōs, adv. See verse 3 above. also: Grk. kai, conj. in: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position, lit. "in" or "within." another psalm: Grk. heteros, adj., "other," used here to distinguish one item from another in a numerical sense, other, another. The adjective alludes to the quotation from Psalms in the previous verse and declares support from Psalm 110. Farrar notes that this Psalm was so universally accepted as Messianic that the Targum of Jonathan paraphrases the first verse of it "The Lord said to His Word."
He says: Grk. legō, pres., 3p-sing., to make a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing. The focus of the verb may be declarative, interrogative or imperative; ask, declare, say, speak, tell. In the LXX legō translates Heb. amar (SH-559), to say, shew, command or think. The subject of the verb is God, rather than David. The verb condenses the Hebrew clause "ADONAI has sworn and will not relent," so that the following quotation serves as a solemn oath.
The quotation is found in verse 4 of Psalm 110 (LXX 109). Psalm 110 is typically classified as a royal psalm due to the mention of installing the King of Israel, as well as Messianic due to it prominent usage by Yeshua (Matt 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42-43) and Peter (Acts 2:34-35). The psalm is attributed to David in its superscription. Both Yeshua and Peter affirmed David's authorship. The psalm contains two prophetic oracles (i.e., verbal revelations from ADONAI), reported by David under inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Mark 12:36).
The two oracles provide the structure of the psalm. Verses 1-3 and 4-7 each consist of a brief introduction, an oracle (in quotations), and its expansion (Broyles 414). Anderson suggests that the psalm might also have been composed when David was recognized as master of Jerusalem (2Sam 5:6-10) (767). The psalm presents David's Lord as King, Priest and Warrior (Kidner 427-431). See my commentary on Psalm 110.
You are: Grk. su (for Heb. attah), pronoun of the second person. The LXX inserts the verb eimi ("are"). In the context of Psalm 110 the pronoun refers back to the one addressed as "my Lord" in the first verse. a priest: Grk. hiereus (from hieros, "sacred"), person who offers sacrifice to a deity at a place of worship and in general is occupied with sacred rites; priest. In the LXX hiereus translates Heb. kohen (SH-3548), priest, first in Genesis 14:18 in reference to Melchizedek. While hiereus might mean an ordinary priest in contrast to the high priest, the following qualification denotes an extraordinary priestly office.
for: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to direction and limit. The preposition is used here to denote a temporal limit and tenure of office. the age: Grk. ho aiōn, properly, an age or era ("time-span"), characterized by a specific quality or type of existence (HELPS). In the LXX aiōn translates Heb. ōlam (SH-5769), "long duration, antiquity or futurity" (BDB 761), first in Genesis 3:22. Olam is also used adverbially to mean "forever, for all time" (Gen 9:12), as well as ancient time (Gen 6:4; 49:26), and indefinite futurity (Deut 15:17). Almost all versions translate the noun as "forever," which in context would imply beyond a normal life-span.
Yeshua could well serve as a high priest in the millennial temple (cf. Isa 66:22-23; Ezek 46:1-12; Zeph 3:18; Zech 14:16). However, there surely would be no need of a high priest for the people of God after the final judgment (Rev 10:11-15). Noteworthy is that the New Jerusalem, which descends to the new earth after the millennium has no temple (Rev 21:22). Mounce translates aiōn as "all time." The MJLT and YLT have "the age." The emphasis on the duration of office probably pertains to the present age and even extend into the millennium. More important than the duration is the status.
according to: Grk. kata, prep., with the root meaning of "down," is generally used to signify (1) direction, 'against, down;' (2) opposition, 'against;' or (3) conformity, 'according to.' The third usage is intended here. the order: Grk. ho taxis may mean (1) a position or turn in an orderly sequence of activity, order (Luke 1:8); (2) arrangement for activity, order; or (3) a condition of being orderly (1Cor 14:40; Col 2:5). Danker assigns the second meaning to this verse. Mounce treats the noun as denoting a distinctive class of priests and the great majority of Bible versions have "order." The translation of "order" might cause the Christian reader to think of a religious order as exists in Christianity.
In the LXX of this verse taxis translates Heb. dibrah (SH-1700), a cause, reason or manner, of which BDB assigns "manner" as the intention in Psalm 110:4 (184). A few versions translate dibrah as "manner" (AMPC, EHV, ISV, JPS, LEB, NABRE), whereas the CSB, NET and REV have "pattern." Thayer also in defining taxis recognizes the meaning of dibrah in the quoted verse as "manner." The choice of LXX translators to use taxis was no doubt to emphasize that the term does not denote a special order or fraternity of priests. McKee interprets taxis to mean "example."
Originally a military term taxis describes primarily the arrangement of an army organization in descending rank, then the disposition or ordering of military elements for battle and then a post or place in the line of battle (LSJ). HELPS says the term properly denotes placing one member over another in rank. Considering the military origin of taxis the choice of LXX translators to use the term seems intended to avoid denoting a special fraternity of priests. Rather the term emphasizes the highest rank. A few versions recognize this distinction and translate taxis as "rank" (AMPC, Moffatt, TLB).
of Melchizedek: Grk. Melchisedek, a transliteration of Heb. Malki-tsedeq (SH-4442), "king of righteousness," first in Genesis 14:18. Nothing is known for certain of Melchizedek since he does not appear in any genealogy of the Tanakh. The scant information in Scripture about the historical figure of Melchizedek has led to much debate by commentators and scholars regarding his identity. In the Besekh the name of Melchizedek occurs only in Hebrews. The fact that Paul uses the name eight times could have symbolic meaning, because the number eight signifies absolute perfection. Moreover, seven of the eight mentions of the name of Melchizedek in Hebrews contains a reference to his priestly office (5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:1, 11, 15, 17).
In the kingdom theology of the Essenes the heavenly deliverer in the last days is Melchizedek (11Q13; aka 11QMelch). In this document Melchizedek is "Your Elohim" who will deliver the sons of righteousness from Belial (§24-25). Some scholars assert that the content in Hebrews concerning Melchizedek strengthens the contention that the author of the letter was familiar with the Qumran Community and its ideas (Stern 934). Paul would have been familiar with the Essenes, since there was an Essene quarter in Jerusalem, but he does not repeat their beliefs about Melchizedek.
Nicoll notes that Paul with consummate literary skill introduces the name Melchizedek, to prepare incidentally for the long argument which is to follow in Chapter Seven; just as he twice introduced the idea of High-Priesthood in 2:17 and 3:1 before directly dealing with it.
7 Who in the days of his flesh, having offered up both petitions and supplications, with loud outcry and tears, to the One being able to save him from death, and having been heard because of his reverence.
Who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. The pronoun refers to "Messiah" in verse 5 above. in: Grk. en, prep. the days: pl. of Grk. ho hēmera, day, used here of an imprecise period of a lifetime. of his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. See verse 2 above. flesh: Grk. ho sarx, ordinarily the tissue that covers the skeleton, flesh, but used here of bodily human nature with its limitations.
The phrase "days of his flesh" refers to Yeshua's earthly life and introduces three important actions of Yeshua set forth in this verse and the next two verses. These three verses are bracketed by the reference to Melchizedek (verse 6 and 10), but seem disconnected from the ministry of that great priest. Yet, these three actions were necessary for Yeshua to receive the ministry of Melchizedek. These three verses are a vivid reminder of the focus of Yeshua's life and ministry.
having offered up: Grk. prospherō, aor. part. See verse 1 above. The use of this verb in the context of offering sacrifices adds a powerful layer of meaning to the following actions. The prophet Hosea introduced the idea of a person's words addressed to God as equivalent to a sacrificial offering: "Take words with you and return to ADONAI. Say to Him, 'Take away all iniquity and receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices [lit. "bulls"] of our lips'" (Hos 14:2 BR). The bull was generally preferred for the sin offering (Ex 29:14, 36; Lev 4:3; 8:2; 16:3), but could also be slaughtered for a burnt offering (Ex 20:24; Lev 1:3-6; Num 15:8) and a peace offering (Ex 24:5; Lev 3:1; Num 7:88).
both: Grk. te, conj. See verse 1 above. petitions: pl. of Grk. deēsis, to stand in need of something and therefore to plead or beg of God; prayer, petition, entreaty. Most versions translate the noun as "prayers," but there are a variety of prayers: blessing, praise, thanksgiving, lament, petition, supplication, and intercession. In the Besekh deēsis is always used of a request to God for meeting a need. In the LXX deēsis is used to translate several Heb. words with the essential meaning of earnest prayer for oneself or intercession for another, especially Heb. techinnah (SH-8467), supplication for favor (1Kgs 8:28, 30, 38, 45; Ps 6:9; 55:1; 61:1).
The term deēsis occurs 18 times in the Besekh, but only here is the term used in reference to Yeshua. Luke uses the term to describe the prayer of Zechariah for a son (Luke 1:13), the intercession of Hannah in the Temple for the redemption of Israel (Luke 2:37) and the intercession of disciples of Yochanan the Immerser (Luke 5:33), probably for the repentance of Israelites to prepare the way for the Messiah. Paul uses the term to describe his own prayers (Rom 10:1; Php 1:4) and to exhort disciples to earnest prayer (2Cor 1:11; Eph 6:18; Php 4:6).
and: Grk. kai, conj. supplications: pl. of Grk. hiketēria, supplication, entreaty. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. In the LXX hiketēria translates Heb. verb rabah (SH-7235), to be or become much, many or great, only in Job 41:3 where it is used to describe the earnestness of deēsis. The noun is also found in other Jewish literature (2Macc. 9:18; and Philo, On the Embassy of Gaius §228, 276). The noun properly refers to an olive branch and thus fig. stands for earnest supplication for peace (i.e., relief, reconciliation) (HELPS). Guthrie notes that hiketēria has a stronger element of entreaty than deēsis.
Yeshua was a man of prayer. The apostles reported that he prayed early in the morning (Mark 1:35), in the late afternoon (Matt 14:23) and late at night (Luke 6:12). As an observant Jew we can assume that Yeshua prayed daily at the prescribed times (the third, sixth, and ninth hours). Sabbath and other holy days had prescribed prayers as well. Yeshua especially prayed for others (Matt 19:13; Luke 22:32; John 17:7) and he prayed with others (Luke 9:28). His disciples noted his devotion to pray and they asked him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1). Yeshua even prayed for his executioners (Luke 23:34).
with: Grk. meta, prep. with a root meaning of "in the midst of" (DM 107), may be used (1) as a marker of association; with, among; or (2) as a sequential marker; after, behind. The first usage is intended here. loud: Grk. ischuros, adj., strong, used here to mean high on a scale of extent as respects strength or impact. Bible versions are divided over translating the adjective as "loud" and "strong." outcry: Grk. kraugē, a loud crying done with pathos or great emotion (HELPS); crying, outcry. The noun reflects inner distress.
and: Grk. kai. tears: pl. of Grk. dakruon, a watery fluid secreted from the eyes; tear, teardrop. There are two specific instances recorded of Yeshua shedding tears (Luke 19:41; John 11:35). to: Grk. pros, prep. the One: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun and circumlocution for the sacred name of God. being able: Grk. dunamai, pres. part. See verse 2 above. to save: Grk. sōzō, pres. inf., to deliver, or rescue from a hazardous condition; save, rescue.
In the LXX sōzō translates no less than 15 different Hebrew verbs (DNTT 3:206), but the most important is malat, (SH-4422), to escape, deliver, or save, first in Genesis 19:17 and yasha (SH-3467), to deliver, liberate and save (e.g., 1Sam 23:5). The pious Israelite recognized that human agents might be used to bring about deliverance, but rescue ultimately comes from ADONAI Himself.
him: Grk. autos. from: Grk. ek, prep. death: Grk. thanatos, death, which may be used of (1) natural death; (2) death as a penalty; (3) the manner of death; or (4) fig. of death as a personification (BAG). In the LXX thanatos translates Heb. maveth (SH-4194), death, which has the same range of meaning (first in Gen 21:16). Paul likely refers to death as a penalty, although using thanatos as a personification of the demonic prince that destroys life and imprisons souls in the Pit (Rev 6:8) is also a possibility. Note that Paul only describes God as one able to save Yeshua from death, not one to whom Yeshua pleaded for his life.
This testimony has the ring of an eye-witness account, and most commentators suggest that the historical reminiscence of this verse refers to Yeshua's night of prayer in Gethsemane (Matt 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:40-46). Luke's account is the most graphic with his description of Yeshua's bloody sweat, which speaks eloquently of the intense spiritual agony Yeshua suffered as he faced the reality of being a sin offering for the whole world. During that night Yeshua prayed, "Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will" (Mark 14:36 BR).
In the Lord's Supper the cup of wine represented his shed blood as an atoning sacrifice (Mark 14:23-24) and the inauguration of the New Covenant (Luke 22:21). Yeshua's entreaty was not to cancel the plan of redemption nor to be saved from death. Indeed he prophesied his death at least three times (Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34). Rather he appealed to the omniscience of the Father. If there was another way to accomplish the redemptive plan he would submit to it, but he was fully prepared to die and be the sacrificial lamb (John 1:29).
McKee suggests the most significant instance of Yeshua crying out with a loud voice was during his crucifixion when he was heard to say "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34). See my commentary there. Many Christians interpret Yeshua's question literalistically and assume the Father abandoned the Son while he was on the cross, when in reality Yeshua's question is drawn from the first line of Psalm 22. In accordance with Jewish practice the citation of the first verse of Psalm 22 implies the entire psalm (Stern 84). Perhaps Yeshua even recited the entire Psalm, but the bystanders could not hear Him.
Yeshua was not complaining, expressing resentment or denouncing His Father, but affirming that all that was prophesied in the Messianic psalm had been fulfilled. Moreover, the psalm closes with a three-fold affirmation of victory from the "pierced one" (verse 22-24). First, the "pierced one" hints at resurrection by saying he would testify in the midst of his brethren. The Messiah would not be abandoned to Sheol (Ps 16:10). Yeshua trusted in the faithfulness of His Father. Second, the seed of Jacob will rejoice and glorify God as a result of this meritorious and substitutionary death. Third, God did not hide His face from the "pierced one" but granted his petitions.
and: Grk. kai. having been heard: Grk. eisakouō, aor. pass. part., pay attention to something expressed orally; hear, listen to, heed. Paul affirms that the petitions and supplications of Yeshua were favorably received and answered by the Father. We can assume that when Yeshua prayed, "Father, forgive them" (Luke 23:34), mercy was granted. because of: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of separation, from, away from, but here expresses causation (Thayer). his reverence: Grk. eulabeia, reverence, fear of God, piety. The noun occurs only in Hebrews (also 12:28). The noun denotes "holy caution," inducing circumspect behavior (HELPS).
The last clause affirms a criteria for God answering prayer. The apostle John expressed it this way: "whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight" (1Jn 3:24). Effective prayer is contingent on approaching God in humility, holy fear that recognizes His sovereignty and His holiness. Sin in one's life is a major hindrance to God answering prayer. Yeshua always did the things that pleased his heavenly Father (Matt 3:17; John 8:29).
8 Although being the Son, he learned obedience from what he suffered.
Although: Grk. kaiper (from kai, "and" and per, "indeed"), conj., although, though. being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. See verse 5 above. the Son: Grk. huios. See verse 5 above. The great majority of versions capitalize "Son" since the noun refers to Yeshua as the Son of God. Even though there is no definite article, translating the noun as "the Son" is more appropriate than "a Son," as found in many versions (ESV, KJV, NASU, NKJV, NRSV, RSV, TLV). There is only one Son of God. Bruce suggests translating the opening clause as "Son though he was," which is adopted by a few versions (ISV, NABRE, NIV, Phillips).
he learned: Grk. manthanō, aor., acquire knowledge, learn, whether through formal instruction or example or experience, here the latter. Danker suggests the idea of "understanding" may be dominant here. obedience: Grk. hupakoē, the state of being in compliance, a hearkening to; obedience, submissiveness. Yeshua was the perfect man and obedience was engrained in his DNA (cf. Luke 2:51). from: Grk. apo, prep. what: pl. of Grk. hos, relative pronoun. Given the plurality of the pronoun some versions have "the things," which would apply to the entire time of "the days of his flesh."
he suffered: Grk. paschō, aor., to experience something, but often with a negative connotation in association with physical pain or ill treatment; suffer. The crucifixion was the culmination of Yeshua's sufferings, which included the following:
● Attempted murder: Luke 4:29; 13:31; John 5:18; 8:59; 11:8; 10:31.
● False accusation of being a sinner: John 9:15, 24.
● Hated without a cause: John 15:24–25.
● Rejected by Jewish leadership: Matt 21:42, John 7:48.
● Rejected by his own people: Mark 6:3; Luke 9:58; John 1:11; 7:3-5.
● Betrayed by a friend: Matt 26:21–25, 47–50; John 13:18–19.
● Forsaken by his disciples: Matt 26:31–56.
● Denied his legal rights: Mark 14:43-48, 53-57.
● Spat on, struck on the cheek, mocked and beaten: Matt 26:67–68; 27:26, 30-31, 39–44.
● Executed by having hands and feet pierced contrary to Jewish law: Matt 27:35; Luke 24:39; John 19:18, 34-37; 20:20-28.
All of his sufferings were prophesied in the Tanakh. For a complete list of the prophesied sufferings of the Messiah see my comment on Acts 3:18. Yeshua knew from the beginning (before creation) that his obedience to the Father's plan would mean suffering, but having foreknowledge is not the same as the actual experience.
Guthrie comments that the cry of acceptance in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt 26:39) was the concluding evidence of the Son's obedience to the Father. This historical reminiscence is parallel with Paul's affirmation in Philippians that stresses the obedience of Yeshua as a servant (Php 2:6-8). Enduring the suffering gave Yeshua an intimate knowledge of the cost of redemption.
9 And having been perfected, he became the author of eternal salvation to all those obeying him,
Reference: Isaiah 45:17.
And: Grk. kai, conj. having been perfected: Grk. teleioō, aor. pass. part., bring to a point at which nothing is missing, and the focus may be (1) carrying out a task or responsibility; complete; (2) bringing something to a designed conclusion; complete; or (3) bringing to the ultimate point of maturation; complete, to perfect. The second focus is in view here. In the LXX teleioō occurs 25 times with the same range of meaning (DNTT 2:60). Important to this context is that teleioō occurs 9 times in the Torah to translate Heb. malê (SH-4390), to be full, to fill; a religious term used in connection with ordaining and consecrating priests for service (Ex 29:9, 29, 33, 35; Lev 4:5; 8:33; 16:32; 21:10; Num 3:3).
The thought here is not that Yeshua suffered from a deficiency of character or nature and that through his sufferings he was enabled to make moral improvement. Various contemporaries of Yeshua acknowledged the purity of his character and conduct (Matt 22:16; 27:4; Luke 20:21; John 1:29; 3:2; 18:38). The apostles especially were emphatic in asserting the sinlessness of Yeshua (2Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 7:26; 1Pet 2:22; 1Jn3:5). Zodhiates clarifies the meaning of teleioō in this context:
"The perfection of Christ concerns his qualification as Savior. The appointed way to Saviorhood followed the path of testing. In face of even the most pressing hardship and suffering Jesus remained obedient to His Father. Having successfully endured the trial of life He was proven fit to be the Savior of God's people." (Zodhiates 1373)
he became: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 5 above. the author: Grk. aitios, pertaining to being causative or responsible for; the author or source. The term occurs only here in the Besekh. of eternal: Grk. aiōnios (from aiōn, "an age"), adj., age-long and used here to mean relating to time without boundaries or interruption; eternal. In the LXX aiōnios occurs about 160 times to translate Heb. olam (DNTT 3:827). See the definition in verse 6 above. salvation: Grk. sōtēria means rescue, deliverance, preservation or salvation from physical harm (Luke 1:71; Php 1:19), but often from God's wrath (1Th 5:9).
As a spiritual act salvation incorporates the provision of forgiveness of sins (Luke 1:77). In the LXX sōtēria translates several different Hebrew formations, but chiefly nouns or participles derived from the root verb yasha, to deliver, such as yeshu'ah (SH-3444), deliverance, salvation, victory; first in Genesis 49:18 (DNTT 3:206). The yasha word-group generally depicts physical rescue by God, especially from oppression or external evils, often through human agency. Sōtēria also translates the Hebrew noun shalom (SH-7985), completeness, soundness, welfare, peace; and derivative terms (Gen 26:31; 28:21; 44:17; Jdg 21:4; Job 20:20).
In the Tanakh the Hebrew concept of salvation also included the spiritual idea of having sins forgiven (e.g., Ps 51:14; 79:9; Jer 17:14; Ezek 37:23) (TWOT 1:415). God's mercy in providing salvation depends on contrition and repentance (Ps 51:5-12; Isa 30:15; 45:22; 59:1-2; Jer 4:14). In the Besekh sōtēria is deliverance from both the curse and consequences of sin. Salvation is sometimes spoken of as a present experience (1Cor 1:18; Eph 2:5; Titus 3:5), but is especially a future expectation to be fulfilled at the Second Coming of the Messiah (Matt 24:13; 2Tim 2:10; Rev 19:1). Salvation is both individual and national in reference to Israel (Rom 11:26).
Only here is salvation described as "eternal," a precious truth. Once experienced salvation will not only last one's lifetime, but past death and resurrection into eternity. Bengel notes that the eternity of salvation is mentioned in Isaiah 45:17: "Israel has been saved by ADONAI with an everlasting salvation; You will not be put to shame or disgraced, forever and ever" (TLV).
to all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 1 above. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. obeying: Grk. hupakouō (from hupo, "under," and akouō, "to hear"), pl. pres. part., to be in compliance, to obey. In Hebrew culture "to hear" is "to obey." him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; used of Yeshua. Paul reminds his readers of God's criteria for obtaining salvation. Obedience is not about performing works in order to be saved. Rather, inherent in being saved is the expectation that the redeemed person will devote his life to pleasing his Master (cf. Eph 2:10; Col 1:9-12; 1Pet 2:21).
God does not save people who refuse to stop sinning (cf. Ps 50:16; Heb 10:26). Obedience to Messiah is equally necessary to salvation with believing on him. Clarke comments that,
"this text is an absolute, unimpeachable evidence, that it is not the imputed obedience of Christ [Messiah] that saves any man. Christ [Messiah] has bought men by his blood; and by the infinite merit of his death he has purchased for them an endless glory; but, in order to be prepared for it, the sinner must, through that grace which God withholds from no man, repent, turn from sin, believe on Jesus [Yeshua] as being a sufficient ransom and sacrifice for his soul, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, be a worker together with him, walk in conformity to the Divine will through this Divine aid, and continue faithful unto death, through him, out of whose fullness he may receive grace upon grace."
10 having been designated by God high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
Reference: Psalm 110:4.
having been designated: Grk. prosagoreuō (from pros, "towards," and agoreuō, "to speak in the assembly"), aor. pass. part., address by a certain term or title; call, declare, designate. The verb, which occurs only here in the Besekh, alludes to a public announcement. Clarke notes that in Greek literature this word meant "to salute," as when a man was anointed king, those who met him would say, "Hail king!" by: Grk. hupo, prep. See verse 4 above. God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 4 above. high priest: Grk. archiereus. See verse 1 above. according to: Grk. kata, prep. the order: Grk. ho taxis. See verse 6 above. of Melchizedek: See verse 6 above.
The reference to the quote from Psalm 110:4 in verse 6 above contains two distinctive elements. First, the verb prosagoreuō serves as a synonym of "called" in verse 4 above and "exalted/begotten" in verse 5 above. Second, Paul affirms that Melchizedek was not an ordinary priest, but a high priest, and that his status as a king-high priest was given to Yeshua, the Son of God. The high priesthood of Melchizedek was not hereditary, but only given by divine decree. Paul will continue the exposition about Melchizedek at the end of the next chapter and then devote much of chapter seven to this royal high priest.
Spiritual Immaturity, 5:11-14
11 concerning which our message is considerable, and complex to explain, since you have become sluggish in hearing.
concerning: Grk. peri, prep. See verse 3 above. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 7 above. The pronoun refers to the priesthood of the Messiah after the manner of Melchizedek. our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. The plural pronoun could allude to Paul together with his ministry team or Paul together with God. message: Grk. ho logos is used primarily for a vocalized expression of the mind, as communication ranging broadly in extent of content and variety of form; word, discourse, statement, message or speech.
In the LXX logos primarily translates Heb. dabar (SH-1697), speech or word, and used widely for a message, speech or saying of men (Gen 29:13; 34:18) or of God (Ex 4:28; 19:7) (DNTT 3:1087). Many versions translate the noun as a verb "to say." The phrase "our message" alludes to the "message of salvation," the "message of the cross" or the "mystery of the Messiah" that Paul proclaimed in various cities (e.g., Acts 13:26; 14:3; 17:11; 20:7; 1Cor 1:18; 2:4; 15:2; 2Cor 5:19; Col 4:3; 1Th 1:5-6; 2Th 3:1; Titus 1:3). The simple message was "Messiah Yeshua came into the world to save sinners" (1Tim 1:15 BR).
is considerable: Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, indicating a high degree of amount or quality; great, much. Paul may have used the adjective as a superlative equivalent to "awe-inspiring," but more likely as a hint that he will continue the exposition about Melchizedek at the end of the next chapter and then devote much of chapter seven to this royal high priest. Such extensive treatment is indicative of just how important the Messianic prophecy of Psalm 110:4 was to Paul.
and: Grk. kai, conj. complex: Grk. dusermēneutos, adj., difficult or hard to describe, explain or interpret. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. The word does not occur in the LXX, but it is found in Philo, On Dreams 1:188, where it is translated as "indescribable." Paul uses this unique adjective to assert complexity of describing the mystery of the high priesthood of Yeshua. Peter uses a parallel unique adjective dusnoētos ("hard to understand") to say that Paul writes some things hard to understand (2Pet 3:16).
to explain: Grk. legō, pres. inf. See verse 6 above. since: Grk. epei, conj. used in a causal sense; since, inasmuch, because. you have become: Grk. ginomai, perf., 2p-pl. See verse 5 above. It is not a question of what they are by nature, but of what they have become by default, the implication being that this was not the case with them originally (Rienecker). sluggish: pl. of Grk. nōthros, adj., dull, slow, sluggish. The adjective properly means to be sluggish or slothful (LSJ); fig. lazy (HELPS). The adjective occurs only in Hebrews (also 6:12). in hearing: pl. of Grk. akoē may mean (1) hearing as a sensory faculty; (2) the organ of hearing; or (3) the act of hearing. The third meaning applies here.
In the LXX akoē, like the verb akouō, translates Heb. shama (SH-8085; BDB 1033), which not only means to hear, but also to accept and to act upon what has been heard, first in Exodus 19:5 (DNTT 2:173). The noun depicts a continuum that begins with auditory perception, then understanding, attention, acceptance and then obedience. In Hebrew thought "to hear" is "to obey" (e.g., Gen 22:18; 26:5; Ex 19:5; 23:22; Lev 26:14; Num 27:20; Deut 11:27-28; 27:10; Josh 1:17-18).
The dative case of the noun essentially means "in reference to hearing" (Rienecker). Some interpreters explain the noun as representing spiritual discernment (HELPS) and thus a few versions translate the noun as "understanding" (CJB, MRINT, NRSV, VOICE). Guthrie notes that the criticism of being "dull in understanding" would sound unwarranted without some justification being given. However, Paul's critique is not about the mental sharpness of his readers to comprehend truth, but their willingness to grow spiritually in the truth they received. Paul then proceeds to expand on his assessment.
12 For even by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again of one to teach you the beginning principles of the oracles of God; and you have become as those having need of milk, not solid food,
For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 1 above. even: Grk. kai, conj. by: Grk. dia, prep. The preposition stresses causality. this time: Grk. ho chronos may mean (1) a span or period of time, or (2) a point or definite moment in time. The first meaning applies here. In other words, after the decades since you heard and embraced the good news of Yeshua. you ought: Grk. opheilō, pl. pres. part. See verse 3 above. The verb introduces a serious expectation of Yeshua. to be: Grk. eimi, pres. inf. See verse 5 above. teachers: pl. of Grk. didaskalos, teacher or instructor who regularly engaged in the imparting of knowledge or skills, a vocation of special status among the Israelites.
In the LXX didaskalos only occurs twice, first in Esther 6:1 where the meaning is "reader" (participle form of Heb. qara, to call, proclaim, read, BDB 894). The second occurrence of the noun is in 2Maccabees 1:10 to denote Aristobulus, the head of the Egyptian Jewish community, who, having dedicated an exposition of the Pentateuch to King Ptolemy Philometor, is called a teacher clearly for this reason. Scholars speculate that the reason didaskalos does not occur in the LXX more often is that in Greek education teaching was concerned with imparting knowledge or technical skills, whereas Hebrew education is more concerned with ethical instruction and obedience.
The Heb. equivalent of didaskalos is moreh, which is translated by the participle didaskōn in Proverbs 5:13 and Isaiah 9:15. The word moreh comes from the same root as Torah and means one who throws out, or points out, directs, or instructs (BDB 435). In the Qumran texts Heb. moreh, "teacher," occurs frequently, often with a qualifying phrase like "the righteous one," such as in the Damascus Document (CD 1:11; 20:32) and in the Commentary on Habakkuk (1QpHab 1:13; 2:2; 5:10; 7:4; 8:3; 9:9; 11:5), probably in reference to the founder of the sect (DNTT 3:767). Moreh is derived from the verb yarah, to throw or shoot and thus "one who throws out," "points out," or "instructs" (Prov 5:13; Isa 9:15).
In the Messianic movement the Holy Spirit gifted certain men to carry out the mandate of Yeshua to make disciples who would obey everything Yeshua commanded (Matt 28:19-20). In Paul's letters teaching is both a gift (Rom 12:6-7; 1Cor 12:8; 14:6; cf. 1Pet 4:10-11) and an integral office in the congregation (1Cor 12:28-29; Eph 4:11; cf. Jas 3:1). The negative assessment "you ought to be teachers" does not mean that every member of every congregation should possess this gift or office. Rather, Paul asserts that the congregations have failed in their duty of conducting discipleship ministry.
you have: Grk. echō, pres., 2p-pl., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. need: Grk. chreia, state or experience of necessity, to be in want of something; need. again: Grk. palin, adv. with focus on a repetitive occurrence; once more, again. of one: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. The pronoun might be an allusion to Peter. to teach: Grk. didaskō, pres. inf., to impart instruction. In the LXX didaskō is used primarily to translate Heb. lamad (SH-3925), exercise in, learn, teach (Deut 4:1; Ps 119:99). In its LXX usage the verb means chiefly instruction in how to live (e.g., Deut 11:19; 20:18) (DNTT 3:760). you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person.
Paul acknowledges that his readers had been taught in the past, which could be an allusion to the Pentecost message of Peter (Acts 2:14) and follow-up instruction by the apostles in A.D. 30 (Acts 2:42). Luke recorded that Jewish pilgrims had come from all over the Diaspora, specifically from Parthia, Media, Elam, Mesopotamia, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, Libya, Rome, Crete and Arabia (Acts 2:9-11). In addition, Peter in his first letter, written before Hebrews (c. 44-46 AD), to Messianic Jews in the Diaspora, addressed some of the same concerns found in this letter.
the beginning: Grk. ho archē, a multi-purpose word with the basic meaning of priority and figuratively refers to what comes first and therefore is foremost in importance (HELPS). As used here the noun has the sense of foundational. In the LXX archē translates Heb. reshit (SH-7725), "beginning," first in Genesis 1:1 (DNTT 1:164f). principles: pl. of Grk. stoicheion, part of a complex whole, element, part, which may refer to miscellaneous rules or basic instruction or cosmic powers. Mounce defines the word as an element or rudiment of any intellectual or religious system. The "beginning principles" likely correspond to the basic doctrines listed in 6:1-2.
of the oracles: pl. of Grk. ho logion (derived from logos, "word"), a special saying and in Scripture communication or divine revelation of truth. In the LXX logion translates two words: (1) Heb. choshen (SH-2333), breastpiece, sacred pouch (Ex 28:15 + 20t) referring to the breastplate containing the Urim and Thummim worn by the High Priest and used to determine God's will or to receive a divine answer to a question; (2) Heb. emer (SH-561), speech, word, first in Numbers 24:4, and used regarding the divine verbal instruction and revelation to Israel (Deut 33:9; Ps 12:6; 18:30; 19:14; 105:19; 119:11; 147:19; Isa 5:24; 28:13).
of God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 1 above. The phrase "oracles of God" would include all the revelations of divine truth spoken to Israel through Moses and the prophets, particularly those parts relating to the Messiah (Barnes). The teaching of Yeshua would also qualify as oracles of God. The complete phrase "beginning principles of the oracles of God" would mean the essential elements of the good news proclaimed to the Jewish people (Gill). See my article The Original Gospel.
and: Grk. kai. you have become: Grk. ginomai, perf., 2p-pl. See verse 5 above. as those having: Grk. echō, pl. pres. part. need: Grk. chreia. of milk: Grk. gala, milk of the breast, whether animal or human, here the latter. In the LXX gala translates Heb. chalab (SH-2461), milk, first in Genesis 18:8. Relevant to Paul's analysis is that the word "milk" may be compared to the rabbinical term "suckling," which referred to young students (Rienecker). Jewish learning typically occurred in stages: "five years for Scripture, ten for Mishnah, thirteen for Commandments, fifteen for Talmud" (Avot 5:21).
Philo likened the elementary education of childhood to milk-like nourishment (On Husbandry §9). Paul used the metaphor of milk in his letter to the congregation in Corinth (1Cor 3:2). In that context milk refers to the "testimony of God" concerning Yeshua crucified as an atoning sacrifice (1Cor 2:1-2). Peter had previously written to specific Diaspora congregations (1Pet 1:1) and exhorted them, "like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation" (1Pet 2:2). Paul's readers had responded to the truth of Scripture, but some of them had not grown to the expected level of spiritual maturity.
not: Grk. ou, adv. solid: Grk. stereos, adj., solid or firm; here the opposite of liquid. food: Grk. trophē, that which is needed to nourish or sustain physical life; food, victuals. The term is used here in a spiritual sense, which is defined in the next verse. The metaphor of "solid food" may be likened to Philo's statement that "cakes made of wheat are the food of full-grown men" (Ibid.). Too many believers had not moved beyond elementary school to advanced discipleship, from the new birth to complete sanctification.
13 for everyone partaking of milk is inexperienced in the word of righteousness, since he is an infant.
for: Grk. gar, conj. everyone: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 1 above. The use of the adjective admits no exceptions. partaking: Grk. ho metechō, pres. part., have a part in something, used here in a figurative sense; partake of, share in. of milk: Grk. gala. See the previous verse. The term is used here in a figurative sense. is inexperienced: Grk. apeiros, adj., without experience of something, lacking adequate skill or knowledge; inexperienced, unskillful, ignorant. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. in the word: Grk. logos. See verse 11 above. As used here the noun signifies instruction given verbally by a teacher. Some versions translate the noun as "teaching" (EXB, ICB, TLB, MRINT, NCV, NIV, NLV, TLV).
of righteousness: Grk. dikaiosunē, a state that is in accord with Torah standards for acceptable or anticipated behavior; uprightness, righteousness, justice. In the LXX dikaiosunē is used for a dozen different terms, normally Heb. tzedaqah (SH-6666), with the same meaning (DNTT 3:354). The term is first used of Abraham's faithfulness being considered as righteousness (Gen 15:6). In the Tanakh the concept of righteousness refers to right or ethical character and behavior that is in keeping with the covenantal expectations of God. Righteousness is primarily concerned with human relationships.
Some interpreters suggest "the word of righteousness" is the doctrine respecting the way in which men become righteous, or the way of salvation by the Redeemer (Barnes, Ellicott), or the good news wherein the righteousness of God is manifested by His faithfulness (Rom 1:17) (Faussett, Poole), or simply the everlasting righteousness of the Messiah (Gill). However, the fact that some of Paul's readers are "inexperienced" in this teaching suggests something more substantive than receiving and accepting the good news of salvation.
Thus, the phrase "word of righteousness" likely alludes to the righteousness code in the Torah, those commandments that prohibit harmful conduct toward others in the community or mandate conduct that strengthen the cohesiveness of families and societal relationships. The last six of the Ten Commandments are representative of the righteousness code. The criticism is that these "inexperienced" believers had yet to consistently satisfy Torah standards of righteousness, as the various sections of warning in this letter indicate (2:1-5; 3:12-15; 4:11-13; 5:11−6:6; 10:26-39; 12:25-29).
since: Grk. gar. he is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 5 above. an infant: Grk. nēpios, a child in an early period of life, lit. "not able to speak or talk" (Rienecker); therefore an infant. Followers of Yeshua may properly be considered "children of God" (Rom 8:16; 9:8; Php 2:15), because the Greek term teknon denotes a child older than an infant, up to bar/bat mitzvah age. A teknon of God practices righteousness and obeys God's commandments (1Jn 3:10; 5:2). The terms "milk" and "infant" figuratively depict stunted spiritual growth, a certain contentment with the status quo as a believer and a failure to press on to maturity, or becoming fully righteous, in Messiah.
14 But solid food is for the mature, those having their faculties trained by constant practice for distinguishing both good and evil.
But: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The first meaning applies here. solid: Grk. stereos, adj. See verse 12 above. food: Grk. trophē. See verse 12 above. In the previous verse "solid food" is defined as the word of righteousness. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 5 above.
for the mature: Grk. teleios, free from any deficiency or corruption, to be complete or perfect. The term teleios can mean fully developed, whether in a maturity sense or an ethical sense, here the former. In the LXX teleios occurs 20 times; seven times for tamim (SH-8549), complete, sound, having integrity, innocent, perfect (Gen 6:9; Deut 18:13); and seven times for Heb. shalem (SH-8003), blameless, complete, full of peace, perfect, sound (1Kgs 8:61; 11:4). The term tamim is used of the man who has bound himself wholly to God and shalem is used of the heart that is wholly turned towards God (DNTT 2:60).
Noah is described as possessing the character quality of tamim/teleios (Gen 6:9). Ezekiel assessed Job and Daniel as possessing the same level of spiritual maturity as Noah (Ezek 14:14). A few versions translate teleios as "perfect" (DRA, JUB, YLT), but "perfect" would not equal "sinless," for there is only one without sin. The majority of versions have "mature." Paul then defines what he means by "mature."
Paul then defines what he means by "mature." those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having: Grk. echō, pl. pres. part. See verse 12 above. their faculties: pl. of Grk. ho aisthētērion, organ of perception or capacity for discernment; faculty. trained: Grk. gumnazō, perf. pass. part., train by physical exercise, but used here in a practical sense. by: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 3 above. constant practice: Grk. ho hexis, habit or practice, whether of body or of mind, which enables acquisition of a power. The term occurs only here in the Besekh.
for: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 5 above. distinguishing: Grk. diakrisis (from diakrinō, "to judge"), the act of discerning or making a distinction. The term denotes making a judgment between two things (Rienecker). both: Grk. te, conj. See verse 1 above. good: Grk. kalos, adj., meeting a high standard, often with a focus on a moral aspect; fine, good. In the LXX kalos most frequently translates Heb. tov (SH-2896), pleasant, agreeable or good, whether in a practical sense or a moral, ethical sense. The first use of kalos for tov is when God pronounced His creation "good" (Gen 1:4, + 7t). Foremost is the use of kalos/tov as descriptive of what's pleasing to God, what He likes or what gives Him joy (Deut 6:18; Mic 6:8) (DNTT 2:103).
and: Grk. kai, conj. evil: Grk. kakos, adj., may mean (1) morally or socially reprehensible and contrary to Torah standards; bad, wrong, wicked, evil; or (2) causing harm, with focus on personal or physical injury; harmful, bad. The first meaning is intended here. In the LXX kakos is used to translate Heb. ra (SH-7451), which has the same dual meaning, first in Genesis 19:19 (DNTT 1:562). The term kakos/ra often occurs in an ethical sense of evil or wicked, including as a characteristic of certain Bible personalities (e.g., men of Sodom, Gen 13:13; Omri, 1Kgs 16:25; Manasseh, 2Kgs 21:11; and Haman, Esth 7:6).
The faculty for distinguishing good and evil may be akin to the gift of discernment of spirits (1Cor 12:10). The exercise of this gift might involve testing the genuineness of someone's commitment or faithfulness to God or determining the possibility of demonic activity or occult influence in a situation. This particular gift is often needed in order to discern whether healings, miracles and prophecies are truly from God (1Jn 4:1). It is also an indispensable part of the spiritual equipment of anyone who undertakes to expel demons.
Paul more likely alludes to the Torah expectation that God's people be able to distinguish between two things, the holy from the profane, the clean from the unclean, the righteous from the wicked (Lev 10:10; 11:47; 20:25; 2Sam 19:35; Ezek 22:26; Mal 3:18). Guthrie notes that such ability is developed by a steady application of spiritual discipline.
Anderson: A.A. Anderson, Psalms 73-150. The New Century Bible Commentary. Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1972.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Bengel: Johann Albrecht Bengel (1687-1752), Gnomon of the New Testament (1742). 5 vols. Trans. by Marvin Vincent. T&T Clark, 1860. Online.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.
Broyles: Craig C. Broyles, Psalms. New International Biblical Commentary. Hendrickson Publishers, 1999.
Bruce: F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1964. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Clarke: Adam Clarke (1762–1832), Commentary on the Holy Bible. 6 vols. Online.
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
DNTT: Colin Brown, ed., Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 Vols. Zondervan Pub. House, 1975.
Eisenbaum: Pamela Eisenbaum, annotations on "The Letter to the Hebrews," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Ellicott: Charles John Ellicott (1819–1905), Commentary for English Readers (1878). Online.
Farrar: Frederic W. Farrar (1831-1903), Hebrews, The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Cambridge University Press, 1891. Online.
Faussett: A.R. Faussett, The Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1871) by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown. Online.
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
Guthrie: Donald Guthrie, Hebrews. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1983. [Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Vol. 15].
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
Kidner: Derek Kidner, Psalms 73―150: An Introduction and Commentary. InterVarsity Press, 1975. (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)
LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon (1889). rev. by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online
McKee: John Kimball McKee, Hebrews for the Practical Messianic. Messianic Apologetics, 2012.
Meyer: Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer (1800-1873), Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (1859). 21 vols. T&T Clark, 1880. Online.
Nicoll: W. Robertson Nicoll (1851–1923), The Expositor's Greek Testament (1897), 5 vols. Online.
Poole: Matthew Poole (1624–1679), A Commentary on the Holy Bible. Hendrickson Publishers, 1985. Online.
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, "Hebrews," A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament. Vol. 2. Zondervan Pub. House, 1980.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer (1828-1901), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (1889). Hendrickson Publishers, 2003. Online.
TLV: Tree of Life Version, Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society, 2014. Online.
TWOT: R. Laird Harris, ed., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. 2 vols. Moody Press, 1980.
Zodhiates: Spiros Zodhiates (1922-2009), ed. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. AMG Publishers, 1992, 1993.
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