4 14So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
5 1 Every high priest is a man chosen to represent other people in their dealings with God. He presents their gifts to God and offers sacrifices for their sins. 2And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses. 3That is why he must offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as theirs. 4And no one can become a high priest simply because he wants such an honour. He must be called by God for this work, just as Aaron was. 5That is why Christ did not honour himself by assuming he could become High Priest. No, he was chosen by God, who said to him, “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father.” 6And in another passage God said to him, “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” 7While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. 8Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. 9In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him. 10And God designated him to be a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. 11There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. 12You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. 13For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. 14Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.
6 1So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. 2You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding. 4For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, 5who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— 6and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame. 7When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. 8But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it. 9Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don’t believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. 10For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. 11Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. 12Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance. 13For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in his own name, saying: 14“I will certainly bless you, and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.” 15Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised. 16Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding. 17God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. 18So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. 19This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. 20Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.
7 1This Melchizedek was king of the city of Salem and also a priest of God Most High. When Abraham was returning home after winning a great battle against the kings, Melchizedek met him and blessed him. . .Hebrews 4:14-7:1
We have come to the end of the section related to The Rebellion in the Wilderness and The Israelites Failure to the Enter the Rest. Now we need to divide the text for the next section. The author of Hebrews now returns to his focus on comparing Jesus with various features of Judaism in his bid to convince his readers not to return to the Judaic system. This time he is focused on the High Priest and the priesthood in general. You will notice I have chosen a block comprised of 2 complete chapters – Hebrews 5 and 6 – with a three verses from chapter 4 and one verse from chapter 7. You make your decision on where you would divide the text. You will find it contains another of the Warnings of Hebrews and then continues again with the focus on the priesthood.
Read through the text a number of times and decide where you would divide it into blocks.
You will need to read this block through a number of times to get a feel for what the writer is doing and how far his focus on the priesthood extends. Notice that Hebrews 7:1 begins another section on priests and the priesthood with the focus on Melchizedek. You may notice that I have left the block divided in the way Robert Estienne originally divided the text into chapters. Is that the best way to divide the text before us? Does it help us to understand it better? Notice I left three dots at the end of the first verse of chapter 7 (…) inferring that the focus on the priesthood continues.
Where do you think the writer ends the section on the priesthood?
What is going on here?
Read until you come to the end of the writers’ focus on the priesthood. You will have to go back to the text in your Bible to see where the focus on the priesthood ends. I have only given you up to the introduction of Melchizedek. (i.e. 7:1)
Basil Brown, my Greek prof, would say read the passage seven times until you have got it. Indeed that is wise advice I have followed for years. In fact before I started this series on Hebrews I spent a week reading the whole of the letter in one sitting each day, so that at the end of the week I had read Hebrews seven times in its entirety. It only took me about 20 minutes to read the whole letter each time. As I read, I noted the flow of the text and picked up on many features and repeated elements the letter contains. It would be to your advantage to read this block of text through multiple times in order to gain a sense of where to divide it and what the author is doing.
Don’t let it be a burden to you. There are numbers of people among the Gem readers who like to action the things I suggest you do. You will benefit the most by doing that. But it is also possible for you to read a few times and then wait until I begin to section the text and point out some features of it. You will benefit either way.
Read a book of the Bible or a large section of a book of the Bible seven times in order to get it.Dr Basil Brown
Each time Prof Brown said that, and he said it may times, he would smile when he said “seven times”. Why?Ian
‘Seven’ is the biblical number for perfection. For some of us, reading it seven times will help us perfect something. For others of us we may have to read it 7×7.Ian
Does that little tip help you understand why Jesus told Peter to forgive 7 times or 7 times 7 or 70 times 7 in answer to Peter’s question as to how many times he should forgive his brother?Ian
Ah, but whose perfection was in focus at that time? (Matt 18:21-22) The forgiven or the forgiver? IanIan
The focus on the Priesthood does continue after Chapter 7:1 and we see in 7:3 Melchizedek is ‘made like unto the Son of God’ and Jesus is said to be ‘after the likeness of Melchizedek’ in 7:15 which means ‘My King is (the God) Sedek’ or My King is Righteousness.’