The Arguments, 2:10-12:29

1. Christ is a faithful and merciful high priest, 2:10-5:10

vii] The qualifications of a high priest


Our author, in revealing the qualities of Christ our high priest, takes time out to reveal the qualities of the Aaronic priesthood. First, he defines the service of a high priest, his offering of sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins, v1. Second, the qualities of a high priest: empathy and identification, v2-3. Third, the position of a high priest: called and authorized, v4. In the next paragraph, v5-10, these qualities will be applied to Christ, the Son, a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. Our author will show that Jesus is a genuine high priest, far superior to any of the descendants of Aaron, and is therefore, someone who enables us to boldly approach the throne of God's grace.


i] Context: See 4:14-16.


ii] Background: A general introduction; See 1:1-4.


iii] Structure: This passage, The qualifications of a high priest, presents as follows:

A high offers sacrifice for sin, v1;

A high priest identifies with his people, v2-3;

A high priest is called of God, v4.


iv] Interpretation:

Continuing to look at "the high priest's position, his qualities and the service he offers", Koester, our author now examines these qualities as they relate to the Aaronic priesthood, although now in reverse order. In examining the priestly office he touches on its function, v1, personal quality, v2-3, and finally its divine authorization, v4.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 5:1

The qualifications of a high priest, v1-4: i] his service - offering sacrifices for sin, v1. In the opening verse, our author defines the prime function of a high priest who is of the order of Aaron. Aaron was the brother of Moses and was the first high priest of Israel. The priestly function is to "represent men in matters for which they are responsible before God". In particular, he is to make representation on behalf of the sin of the people by making sin offerings to God. Of course, this function corresponds with Christ's sacrificial function.

gar "-" - for. More explanatory than causal; here introducing an extended explanation running through to v10.

lambanomenoV (lambanw) pres. pas. part. "is selected" - being chosen. The participle is adjectival, predicative, limiting by making a statement about "high priest": "who is selected from men", Moffatt.

ex + gen. "from among [the men / people]" - out of, from [men]. Expressing source/origin; "a man taken from his fellow men and on their behalf", Cassirer.

kaqistatai (kaqisthmi) pres. pas. "appointed" - established, ordained. Passive followed by an accusative of respect. The context of the book of Hebrews shows us that the writer is thinking specifically of the appointment of the high priest to offer special sacrifices for the sins of the people on the Day of Atonement. So, the prime function of a high priest is "to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins." Jesus maintains and reestablishes a relationship between man and God; he "represents" us.

uJper + gen. "to represent [them / the people]" - for. Representation; "on behalf of the people."

proV + acc. "[in matter] toward [God]" - [things] toward [God]. Here expressing reference / respect; "with respect to the things pertaining to God

iJna + subj. "to [offer]" - that [he may offer]. Introducing purpose clause; "in order to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins."

uJper + gen. "for [sins]" - Representation, "on behalf of sin" = "for the removal of sins."


ii] The qualities of a high priest - empathy and identification, v2-3. The second characteristic of a high priest is his empathy with sinners, a characteristic which Christ exhibits. A high priest acts with moderation, he restrains his judgments toward those he serves because he shares the same weakness that they share. This is why the earthly high priest must make a sin offering for himself as well as the people.

dunamenoV (dunamai) pres. pas. part. "He is able" - being able. The participle is adjectival, predicative of (making a statement about) "he" = "high priest", v1, "Every High Priest ..... is able ..."

metriopaqein (metrioaqew) pres. inf. "to deal gently" - to act with compassion, moderate emotions, act in consideration toward. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of "is able". An earthly high priest can act with moderation because he stands where the people stand, he is weak as the people are weak.

toiV aJgnoousin kai planwmenoiV dat. pres. part."with those who are ignorant and going astray" - the ones being ignorant and going astray. The two participles serve as substantives, dative of association. The high priest can only deal with certain types of sin. He can only offer sacrifices for those who "go astray through their ignorance." It is unintentional sin he is to seek forgiveness for. The sacrificial system could not cope with deliberate or defiant law breaking, Num.15:28-30. Such a sinner could only rest on the mercy of God.

epei "since" - since, because. Introducing a causal clause, "because he himself is clothed in weakness", Barclay.

perikeitai (perikeimai) pres. "is subject [to weakness]" - is bound, surrounded. "Is beset with weakness", ESV.


di (dia) + acc. "[this] is why" - because of [it]. Causal. "It / this" is the high priest's own sin, ie. "since he himself is subject to weaknesses", v2. "For this reason", Berkeley.

ofeilei (ofeilw) pres. "he has to [offer sacrifices]" - is obligated [as (kaqwV, comparative) concerning (peri, reference) the people, thus / so (ou{twV, inferential) also (kai, adjunctive) concerning himself]". Referring to the separate Day of Atonement sacrifice for the priest and the people.

prosferein (prosferw) pres. inf. "to offer" - to offer, bring (as in/for a sacrifice). The infinitive forms an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing in what sense he is obligated, namely, "to offer (sacrifices) for sins."

peri + gen. "for [sins]" - Here instead of uJper + gen., expressing advantage; "on behalf of."


iii] The position of a high priest - authorized by God, v4. The final characteristic of the high priest is that he is called by God; he is appointed by God. The author could have, at this point, outlined how the choice of high priest in Israel had turned into a political appointment and had been virtually invalid since the monarchy, but he is more interested in making the point that Christ, as high priest, was divinely appointed.

eJautw/ dat. pro. "on himself" - to himself. Dative of interest, advantage; "for himself."

alla "but" - Adversative; "the honorable office which he holds is not one a man just takes for himself. No, he is called to it by God", Cassirer.

kaloumenoV (kalew) pres. pas. part. "he must be called" - being called. The participle is adjectival, predicative of (making an assertion about) "the high priest"; "he / the high priest is called." Not "called" in the sense of "invited", but in the sense of "appointed by divine authority."

uJpo + gen. "by [God]" - Expressing agency; "by God."

kaqwsper "just as [Aaron was]" - Comparative conjunction.

kai "-" - also [Aaron]" - and [Aaron]. Adjunctive; "just as also Aaron."


Hebrews Introduction



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