New American Bible (Revised Edition)
Jesus, Compassionate High Priest. 14 [a]Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.(A) 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.(B) 16 So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.(C)
1 [b]Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.[c] 2 He is able to deal patiently[d] with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness 3 and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people.(D) 4 No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.(E) 5 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”;(F)
6 just as he says in another place:[e]
“You are a priest forever
according to the order of Melchizedek.”(G)
- 4:14–16 These verses, which return to the theme first sounded in Hb 2:16–3:1, serve as an introduction to the section that follows. The author here alone calls Jesus a great high priest (Hb 4:14), a designation used by Philo for the Logos; perhaps he does so in order to emphasize Jesus’ superiority over the Jewish high priest. He has been tested in every way, yet without sin (Hb 4:15); this indicates an acquaintance with the tradition of Jesus’ temptations, not only at the beginning (as in Mk 1:13) but throughout his public life (cf. Lk 22:28). Although the reign of the exalted Jesus is a theme that occurs elsewhere in Hebrews, and Jesus’ throne is mentioned in Hb 1:8, the throne of grace (Hb 4:16) refers to the throne of God. The similarity of Hb 4:16 to Hb 10:19–22 indicates that the author is thinking of our confident access to God, made possible by the priestly work of Jesus.
- 5:1–10 The true humanity of Jesus (see note on Hb 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 (Hb 5:1–3). Even so, the office was of divine appointment (Hb 5:4), as was also the case with the sinless Christ (Hb 5:5). For Hb 5:6, see note on Ps 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 (Hb 5:8). Because of his perfection through this experience of human suffering, he is the cause of salvation for all (Hb 5:9), a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek (Hb 5:10; cf. Hb 5:6 and Hb 7:3).
- 5:1 To offer gifts and sacrifices for sins: the author is thinking principally of the Day of Atonement rite, as is clear from Hb 9:7. This ritual was celebrated to atone for “all the sins of the Israelites” (Lv 16:34).
- 5:2 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.
- 5:6–8 The author of Hebrews is the only New Testament writer to cite Ps 110:4, here and in Hb 7:17, 21, to show that Jesus has been called by God to his role as priest. Hb 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.