AND HAVING BEEN MADE PERFECT: kai teleiotheis (APPMSN): (Heb 2:10; 11:40; Daniel 9:24; Luke 13:32; John 19:30)
OT PASSAGES QUOTED IN HEBREWS 5 - Click for complete list of OT Quotations/Allusions
KEY WORDS IN HEBREWS 5 - Click for complete list of Key Words in Hebrews
Criswell explains the relation between the obedience Jesus learned and His being made perfect… The phrase "learned obedience by the things which He suffered" (He 5:8-note) does not mean that Jesus was ever disobedient but rather that He learned through experience as a Man and through all His temptation and suffering what it meant to suffer and triumph in a way He did not experience before the incarnation. His humanity was in this sense "completed," which is the meaning of the Greek word translated "perfected" (having been made perfect) in this context. (Criswell, W A. Believer's Study Bible: New King James Version. 1991. Thomas Nelson)
Steven Cole… “Having been made perfect” does not imply that Jesus was imperfect previously. Rather, the idea is that His experience of obediently suffering unto death qualified Jesus as the Savior (we saw the same idea in He 2:10). (Hebrews 5:1-10 The Kind of Priest You Need)
Marcus Dods on teleioo (teleiotheis) means… having been perfectly equipped with every qualification for the priestly office by the discipline already described. (Expositor's Greek Testament Commentary - online)
Having been made perfect (5048) (teleioo related to teleios from teleo = an end, a purpose, an aim, a goal, consummate soundness, idea of being whole) means to accomplish or bring to an end or to the intended goal (telos). Teleioo does not mean simply to terminate something but to carry it out to the full finish which is picked up in the translation "perfected". Teleioo signifies the attainment of consummate soundness and includes the idea of being made whole. The fundamental idea in teleioo is the bringing of a person or thing to the goal fixed by God.
Being made perfect was something that could never happen to the priests under the Old Covenant of Law (He 10:1-note)
Vincent writes that teleioo is used here… of Christ’s having reached the end which was contemplated in His divinely-appointed discipline for the priesthood. The consummation was attained in his death, Php. 2:8: His obedience extended even unto death.
Barclay explains that "teleios can quite correctly be translated perfect so long as we remember what the Greek meant by that perfection. To him a thing was teleios if it perfect carried out the purpose for which it was designed. When he used the word he was not thinking in terms of abstract and metaphysical perfection; he was thinking in terms of function. What the writer to the Hebrews is saying is that all the experiences of suffering through which Jesus passed perfectly fitted Him to become the Saviour of men (Ed: And in context, their Great High Priest).
Wuest - The word “perfect” is the translation of teleios (Ed: Actually it is the verb teleioo). The fundamental idea in this word is the bringing of a person or thing to the goal fixed by God. The word speaks here of Messiah having reached the end which was contemplated in His divinely appointed discipline for the priesthood. This consummation was reached in His substitutionary death on the Cross present the grounds of their salvation. (Hebrews Commentary online)
In Hebrews 12:2 (see note) Jesus is designated as "the Author and Perfecter of faith" where perfecter is teleiotes, the Completer, the One Who reached the goal so as to win the prize so to speak.
Telioo is used 19 times in Hebrews out of a total of 24 NT uses. The uses in Hebrews often convey the sense of to make perfect or fully cleanse from sin in contrast to ceremonial (Levitical) cleansing (but see the uses below). The writer is emphasizing the importance of perfection… (which should cause any Jew who is contemplating the worth of Christ and the New Covenant to realize his utter hopelessness to every attain perfection under the Old Covenant).
In summary, the fundamental idea of teleioo is the bringing of a person or thing to the goal fixed by God.
It is interesting and doubtless no mere coincidence that in the Septuagint (LXX) teleioo is translated numerous times as consecrated or consecration, especially speaking of consecration of the priests (cf Jesus our "great High Priest") (Ex 29:9, 29, 33, 35 Lv 4:5; 8:33; 16:32; 21:10; Nu 3:3). The Septuagint translators used the verb teleioo in the special sense of consecration to priestly service and this official concept most likely stands behind the writer's use in this passage in He 5:9 where it signifies that Jesus has been fully equipped to come before God His priestly role on behalf of all who believe in Him.
Messiah's perfection equated with His holding fast His sinless integrity in face of the most extreme trial and suffering and thus accomplishing His intended goal. (cp Jn 4:34, Jn 17:4 same verb teleioo, to help understand "perfect" as it applies to Jesus and cp teleo in Jn 19:30)
Note that made perfect does not imply any imperfection in Christ ("One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin" - He 4:15-note), which might be the way one reads it based on the common way be made perfect is used in English language. The meaning of teleioo (idea of reaching the intended goal - see above) in Greek clearly explains the author's intended thrust in the original Greek language in which the letter was written and read. It is difficult to translate this succinctly into English. The original readers would have had no difficulty understanding the intended meaning.
The appointed way to Savior of the World involved treading the path of testing, the Cross preceding the Crown. In the 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.
Spurgeon - What,” says one, “did Christ need to be made perfect?” Not in His nature, for He was always perfect in both His divine and His human nature; but perfect as a Savior, perfect as a Sympathizer—above all, according to the connection, perfect as a High Priest. “Being perfected, he became the source of eternal salvation to all those who obey him.” Christ will not save those who refuse to obey Him, those who will not believe in Him. There must be an obedient faith, rendered unto Him, or else the virtue of His passion and death cannot come to us. As a high priest He is perfect, because He has suffered to the end all that was needful to make Him like unto His brothers. He has read the book of obedience quite through. He was not spared one heavy stroke of divine discipline. You and I never go to the end of grief. We are spared the utmost depth; but not so our Lord. The Lord sets us a service proportioned to our strength; but what a service was exacted of the Son of God! Ours is a lightened burden; but the Well-beloved was not spared the last ounce of crushing sorrow. “For it was fitting for him for whom are all things and through whom are all things in bringing many sons to glory to perfect the originator of their salvation through sufferings” (Heb 2:10).
Earlier we read that…
HE BECAME TO ALL THOSE WHO OBEY HIM: egeneto (3SAMI) pasin tois hupakouousin auto:PAP: (Heb 12:2; Psalms 68:18-20; Isaiah 45:22; 49:6; Acts 3:15; Acts 4:12)
See topic discussing the Relationship of faith and obedience
He became - This indicates a change of relationship that follows Christ's perfecting. The suffering that led to the perfecting did something, and specifically brought into existence Jesus as the source of eternal salvation. Jesus has always been the One through Whom redemption of this fallen world would come, having been promised by God in the Garden of Eden after Adam sinned, where it was foretold that the Seed (Christ) would crush the head of Satan (Ge 3:15 ~ the so-called "protevangelium" or "first giving" of the Gospel). But it was not until Christ's incarnation and His perfection that the promise became reality. Don't misunderstand -- sinners have always been saved by faith in the Promised Seed, the Messiah. The OT saints were saved by a faith that looked forward to the Cross, while NT saints look back to the finished work of Christ on Calvary. In both instances that faith was shown to be genuine in that it brought forth the fruit of obedience. As discussed more below obedience does not save anyone, but it does demonstrate the reality of one's faith.
To all those (present tense = continuously) obeying Him. This is descriptive of the saved (the fruit = obedience) not the grounds of their salvation (the root = faith). See related study of "obedience of faith" in Ro 1:5-note and contrast Paul's teaching in 2Th 1:8. If one is not obedient (we are not talking perfect obedience but a lifestyle [present tense] that tends toward obedience. In short = "Not perfection, but direction!"), then he or she needs to ponder Paul's words in 2Cor 13:5-note.
Obedience involves active listening and choosing to respond positively to Christ’s call and command. Obedience is an evidence of true discipleship, as Jesus Himself stated…
Steven Cole… Jesus became the cause of salvation “to all those who obey Him.” This is not teaching salvation by works. Rather, to have saving faith is to obey Jesus, who commanded, “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15). Paul refers to “the obedience of faith” (Ro 1:5-note; see also 1Pe 1:2-note). You cannot separate saving faith from obedient faith, or unbelief from disobedience (Ed: Compare especially He 3:18, 19-note) (He 4:18, 19; 4:6, 11). Those who truly believe in Jesus as Savior live in obedience to Him as Lord. Those who claim to believe but who live in disobedience to Him are not truly saved (Mt 7:21-note, Mt 7:22, 23-note). (Hebrews 5:1-10 The Kind of Priest You Need)
Phil Newton does not mince words writing… Let's be honest. Much of what is claimed to be Christian is pure antinomianism (Ed: Anti = against + nomos = law ~ and so living as if there were no laws). That is, there are many who want the eternal benefits of Christians without desiring the present, ongoing walk of obedience as Christians. They are lawless-without Christ. Does that describe you? Then wake up to what is truly Christian. Turn from your hypocrisy to the High Priest who has mediated before God on your behalf. (Jesus Christ: Qualified as High Priest Hebrews 5:1-10)
Marvin Vincent… If the captain of salvation must learn obedience, so must his followers. Cp. 2Th. 1:8.
Spurgeon on all who obey - Not to some few, not to a little select company here and there, but “to all those who obey him.” To obey Christ is in its very essence to trust Him, or believe in Him; and we might read our text as if it said, “The author of eternal salvation to all those who believe in him.” If you would be saved, your first act of obedience must be to trust Jesus wholly, simply, heartily, and alone. Recline your soul wholly on Jesus and you are saved now. Is that all? Certainly, that is all! But it says “obey”? Precisely so; and do you not know that every man who trusts Christ obeys him? The moment you put yourself into His hands you must obey Him, or you have not trusted Him.
Obey (5218) (hupakouo [word study] from hupó = under + akoúo = physical hearing and apprehension of something with the mind - akouo gives us our English acoustics - the science of design which helps one hear) (Click study on related noun hupakoe) literally means to listen under with attentiveness and to respond positively to what is heard. The sense is that one understands and responds accordingly. Note that hupakouo implies an inward attitude of respect and honor, as well as external acts of obedience. (See Torrey's Topic on Obedience)
Guzik notes… that this salvation is extended to all who obey Him. In this sense, all who obey Him is used synonymously for believing on Him - which simply assumes that believers will obey! (Hebrews 5)
Faith and obedience are closely related, C H Spurgeon writing that…
There are at least four NT uses of hupakouo that relate to the gospel and salvation - Acts 6:7, Ro 6:17-note, Ro 10:16-note, 2Thess 1:8 and Hebrews 5:9 (See these verses below). These uses of hupakouo are closely related to the phrase "obedience of faith" Dr Charles Ryrie summarizing the two main ways one might interpret this phrase explaining that it could refer to "Either obedience that leads to initial faith (as in Acts 6:7) or obedience that results from faith. (The Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Translation: 1995. Moody Publishers)
After some study on this phrase obedience of faith including review of a balanced, well written analysis by D. B. Garlington ("The Obedience of Faith in the Letter to the Romans Part I: The Meaning of hupakoen pisteos Ro 1:5; 16:26" in the Westminster Theological Journal Vol. 52, Page 223, Fall, 1990), leads me to favor this phrase as referring to obedience that emanates from genuine faith.
A T Robertson writes that in Romans 1:5 obedience of faith in the original Greek text reflects what is referred to as the… Subjective genitive as in Ro 16:26, the obedience which springs from faith (the act of assent or surrender). (Word Pictures in the NT)
Marvin Vincent another respected Greek scholar says that… Obedience of faith is the obedience which characterizes and proceeds from faith. (Vincent, M. R. Word studies in the New Testament Vol. 3, Page 1-5)
Expositor's Bible Commentary explaining the "obedience of faith" writes that… The desired response to the gospel message is "obedience that comes from faith" (Gaebelein, F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary 6-Volume New Testament. Zondervan Publishing)
Robert Haldane commenting on the "obedience of faith" writes that… Some understand this of the obedience which faith produces; but the usual import of the expression, as well as the connection in this place, determines it to apply to the belief of the Gospel. Obedience is no doubt an effect produced by that belief; but the office of an Apostle was, in the first place, to persuade men to believe the Gospel. This is the grand object, which includes the other. The Gospel reforms those who believe it; but it would be presenting an imperfect view of the subject to say that it was given to reform the world. It was given that men might believe and be saved. The obedience, then, here referred to, signifies submission to the doctrine of the Gospel. (Haldane, R. An exposition of Romans)
The UBS translator's handbook comments that "Believe and obey translates “obedience of faith.” This is not “obedience to the faith” (Moffatt), but obedience that is caused by faith (NEB “to faith and obedience”; Goodspeed “obedience and faith”). Although “obedience” and “faith” are nouns in Greek, they describe events rather than objects, and so are better rendered by verbs. The last clause in verse 5, introduced by in order to lead, reflects only a preposition in Greek. However, the relationship between the “apostleship” and the “obedience of faith” involves obvious purpose. Furthermore, in most languages one must make explicit the role of Paul with respect to the people of all nations, and for this reason the TEV makes this relationship explicit by means of the somewhat expanded rendering in order to lead people of all nations to believe and obey. (Newman, B. M., & Nida, E. A.. A handbook on Paul's letter to the Romans. UBS handbook series; Helps for translators Page 12. New York: United Bible Societies)
Life Application Bible Commentary writes that "obedience of faith" refers to…
THE SOURCE OF ETERNAL SALVATION: aitios soterias aionios: (Heb 2:3; 9:12,15; Ps 45:17; 51:6,8; 2Thessalonians 2:16; 2Timothy 2:10; 1John 5:20; Jude 1:21) (Heb 11:8; Isaiah 50:10; 55:3; Zechariah 6:15; Matthew 7:24, 25, 26, 27; 17:5; Acts 5:32; Romans 1:5; Romans 2:8; 6:17; 10:16; 15:18; 2Corinthians 10:5; 2Thessalonians 1:8; 1Peter 1:22)
Denny - Jesus is Author of ‘eternal’ salvation (He 5:9KJV), i.e., of final salvation, which has no peril beyond; all that salvation can mean is secured by Him. (Death of Christ)
The Source - Compare the writer's other descriptions of Jesus…
Spurgeon comments on Jesus our Source Who is also our Captain, our Forerunner - If you were on board a vessel, and had lost your bearings, you would be glad enough to see a pilot in the offing. Here he is on board, and you say, “Pilot, do you know where we are?” “Yes,” says he, “of course I do. I can tell you within a yard.” “It is well, Mr. Pilot, but can you bring us to the port we want to make?” “Certainly,” says he. “Do you know the coast?” “Coast, sir! I know every bit of headland, and rock, and quicksand, as well as I know the cut of my face in a looking-glass. I have passed over every inch of it in all tides and all weathers. I am a child at home here.” “But, pilot, do you know that treacherous shoal?” “Yes, and I remember almost running aground upon it once, but we escaped just in time. I know all those sands as well as if they were my own children.” You feel perfectly safe in such hands. Such is the qualification of Christ to pilot sinners to heaven. There is not a bay, or a creek, or a rock, or a sand between the Maelstrom of hell and the Fair Havens of heaven but what Christ has sounded all the deeps and the shallows, measured the force of the current, and seen the set of the stream. He knows how to steer so as to bring the ship right away by the best course into the heavenly harbor.
Source (159) (aitios from aitéo = ask) describes the relation existing between two or more objects or events, specifically referring to the cause or source, the point at which something begins its course or existence. Aitios means that in which the cause of anything resides. Note that because of this meaning some translations render aitios author. “that in which the cause of anything resides.” Messiah in His death on the Cross is the Source, Author and Cause of our salvation. His death is the Source from which our salvation proceeds.
In English source is defined as a spring or fountain head from which a river or stream issues, which is an interesting thought in regard to Jesus and salvation.
Aitios was a technical, legal term describing the grounds for an accusation in court or the content of the legal charges brought against someone (thus an accusation, charge, complaint)
Jesus is the Source of Eternal Salvation because He is the…
Why is He our eternal Source? Because His sacrifice was once for all and thus He abides a Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. And from a practical standpoint eternal salvation is a deliverance which keeps the believer safe both in time and in eternity. In other words "in Christ' (see discussion in Christ and in Christ Jesus) the believer is safe for ever. There are no circumstances that can pluck him from Christ’s hand.
Spurgeon - He is the designer, creator, worker, and cause of salvation. By Him salvation has been accomplished: “His right hand and His holy arm have secured His victory” (Psa 98:1); “He has trodden the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with him.” He is the author of salvation in this sense: that every blessing comes through Him. All the various departments of salvation, whether they be election, calling, justification, or sanctification, all bless us through Him, according as the Father has chosen us in Him from before the foundation of the world. In Him we are called, in Him preserved, in Him accepted; all grace flows from Him. Christ is all, and in all. Salvation within us is all His work. When the Jewish high priest had offered a sacrifice, the worshiper went home satisfied, for the blood was sprinkled and the offering accepted. But in a short time he sinned again, and he had to bring another sacrifice. Once a year, when the high priest entered within the veil and came out and pronounced a blessing on the people, all Israel went home glad; but next year there must be the same remembrance of sin, and the same sprinkling with blood, for the blood of bulls and of goats could not really put away sin. It was only a type. How blessed is the truth that our Lord Jesus will not need to bring another sacrifice at any time, for He has obtained eternal salvation through His one offering. Jesus does not save us today, and leave us to perish tomorrow. He knows what is in man, and so He has prepared nothing less than eternal salvation for man. A salvation that was not eternal would turn out to be no salvation at all. Those whom Jesus saved are saved indeed. Man can be the author of temporary salvation; but only He who is “a high priest forever” can bring in a salvation that endures forever.
Eternal salvation - It is somewhat surprising that there are only three adjectives used in the New Testament to describe our salvation…
Eternal (166) (aionios from aion) means perpetual eternal, everlasting, without beginning or end (as of God), that which is always. Eternal is a key word Hebrews: blood of eternal covenant (He 13:20-note). He offered Himself through His eternal spirit (He 9:14-note) and has become the Author/Source of eternal salvation (He 5:9-note). He has obtained eternal redemption (He 9:12-note) and enables men to receive of the eternal inheritance (He 9:15-note; He 13:20-note).
Vincent comments that an eternal salvation is… a salvation of which all the conditions, attainments, privileges, and rewards transcend the conditions and limitations of time.
Phillip Hughes… In this affirmation, too, the thought of Hebrews 2:10-note is recapitulated, for the description of Christ here as "the source of eternal salvation" corresponds to his designation there as "the pioneer of our salvation." He, and no one else, is the cause of man's redemption: it is from him that it flows to us. His bearing of our imperfection, the punishment of which he endured and exhausted, made available his perfection for the rehabilitation of mankind—with the qualification, however, that the eternal salvation of which he is the source is a reality in the experience only of those who obey him. As Westcott observes, "continuous active obedience is the sign of real faith"; and this applies quite pointedly to the recipients of this letter whose obedience shows signs of wavering. Here again, then, they are being reminded, as previously they have more forcefully been reminded (cf. He 2:3-note; He 3:12, 13-note, He 3:14, 15-note, He 3:16, 17-note, He 3:18, 19-note.; He 4:11-note), that this great salvation belongs only to those who persevere in obedience to Christ. (A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews)
Salvation (4991) (soteria from soter = Savior in turn from sozo = save, rescue, deliver) (Click here or here for in depth discussion of the related terms soter and sozo) describes the rescue or deliverance from danger, destruction and peril. "Salvation" is a broader term in Greek than we often think of in English. Other concepts that are inherent in soteria include restoration to a state of safety, soundness, health and well being as well as preservation from danger of destruction.
The idea of salvation is that the power of God rescues people from the penalty of sin, which is spiritual death which is followed by eternal separation from the presence of His Glory. Salvation delivers the believer from the power of sin (see discussion on Romans 6:1 thru Ro 8:31 beginning with notes at Romans 6:1-3)
Salvation carried tremendous meaning in Paul’s day, the most basic being “deliverance,” and it was applied to personal and national deliverance. The emperor was looked on as a "savior" as was the physician who healed you of illness.
It is interesting that Collin's (secular) dictionary defines "salvation" as
In short, this so great a salvation (He 2:3-note) is not just escape from the penalty of sin but includes the ideas of safety, deliverance from slavery and preservation from danger or destruction. In addition, this so great a salvation includes the idea of what is often referred to as the Three Tenses of Salvation (justification = past tense salvation = deliverance from sin's penalty, sanctification = present tense salvation = deliverance from sin's power and glorification = future tense salvation = deliverance from sin's presence). It follows that the discerning student will check the context to determine which of the three "tenses" a given use of soteria is referring to.
Mankind has continually looked for salvation of one kind or another. Greek philosophy had turned inward and begun to focus on changing man’s inner life through moral reform and self-discipline. The Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus called his lecture room “the hospital for sick souls.” Epicurus called his teaching “the medicine of salvation.” Seneca taught that all men were looking ad salutem (“toward salvation”) and that men are overwhelmingly conscious of their weakness and insufficiency in necessary things and that we therefore need “a hand let down to lift us up”. Seneca was not far from the truth as Scripture testifies
Salvation through Christ is God’s powerful hand extended down to lost souls to lift them up.
Harry Ironside observes… How carefully the Holy Ghost guards against the least suggestion of defilement in Christ's nature while insisting on the reality of His humanity. Great indeed is the mystery of godliness, for He, the Holy One, appeared in flesh. And now as the exalted Priest, He enters into all the sorrows of His people, sympathizing with them in all their infirmities. He does not sympathize with our sins, and indeed we would not wish Him to, but He does feel for us in all our weakness and is waiting to supply needed strength for every trial. (Ironside Expository Commentary on Hebrews)
by F B Meyer
FOR THE long and steep ascent of life, our Father has given us a Companion, a Captain of the march, a Brother, even Jesus our Lord, who passed through the suffering of death, and is now crowned with glory and honour (Heb 2:9, 10, 11). He has passed along our pathway, and climbed our steep ascents, that He might become our merciful and faithful Friend and Helper. In this sense He was perfected, and became unto all them that obey Him the Author of eternal salvation.
As regards His Nature, it was impossible for Him to be otherwise than perfect. In Him all the fullness of the Divine Nature dwelt without let or hindrance. But since the children partook of flesh and blood, He also Himself partook of the same; it behooved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren. To each of us He says: "I have trodden this path before Thee, and know every inch of the way."
Christ is the Great-Heart,
But if we are to walk with Him, and realize His eternal salvation, we must learn to obey. This is the lesson taught to the scientist by Nature. He must be exact, minute, microscopic in his attention and obedience to details. If he should fail in one tiny point, his best-conceived plans and experiments must fail. Exact obedience is essential to the engineer. The slightest inadvertence will clog and stop the mightiest machine that human ingenuity ever invented. It is, however,
in the spiritual sphere that disobedience
brings the greatest and most momentous catastrophes.
We must learn to obey, even in the dark! (Ed: "Especially" in the dark!) Not ours to make reply, or to question God's dealings. He withholds His reasons, but demands our obedience.
The strength to obey is God given. (Php 2:13, Ezek 36:27a) There appeared an angel from Heaven to strengthen Christ, and to each of us treading dark and hard paths, that angel comes still (Ed: Even better than an "angel", we now have the eternally indwelling Spirit of Christ!). But you never know the angel till you reach your Gethsemane. It is because our Lord learned these things by experience, that He is perfected to impart eternal salvation to every soul of man.
PRAYER - Eternal Saviour, who knowest each step of this difficult pathway of life, we come to Thee for Thy gracious help; enable us to obey Thy promptings, and in every hour of mortal weakness and fear stand beside us to be our very present help. AMEN. (F B Meyer. Our Daily Walk)
Not Even Close! - A 33-year-old Frenchman was nailed to a cross in the patio of a plush hotel in the Dominican Republic as his "contribution to salvation and peace among mankind." He wanted to hang there for 3 days, but within 24 hours he was so weak that he was forced to give up his plan. Even before that, the cross had to be laid horizontally on the ground to alleviate his suffering. It was obvious to all that he couldn't continue to endure the terrible ordeal he had imposed on himself.
Won't you accept this dear Savior?
Fanny Crosby exhorts us in her hymn to lay hold on eternal salvation (Play hymn)…
The Hope Set Before You
J C Philpot's devotional on He 5:9…
BEING DESIGNATED BY GOD AS A HIGH PRIEST ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK: prosagoreutheis (APPMSN) hupo tou theou archiereus kata ten taxin melchisedek: (Heb 5:,6; 6:20)
Steven Cole… Then (He 5:10) the author comes back to God’s designating Jesus as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek, which places Him in a category by Himself, above the Levitical priests. He will develop this further in chapter 7, after the extended exhortation of chapter 6. His point, then, in this section is to show that Jesus Christ perfectly fulfills and exceeds the qualifications of the high priest in the Old Testament. To go back to that old system would be to return to a severely inferior system and to abandon the high priest that we desperately need. (Hebrews 5:1-10 The Kind of Priest You Need)
Designated (4316) (prosagoreuo [only found here in the NT] from prós = to, + agoreúo = speak in turn from agora = market place, town square which provided a public platform for speakers) means to address or accost by name, to call by name or to give a name in public. It can convey the idea of a formal and solemn ascription of a title.
Wuest adds that Jesus "was addressed or saluted by God as a high priest after the order of Melchisedec. God thus addressed Him because He had passed through and completed His earthly discipline." (Hebrews Commentary online)
When did God solemnly ascribe the name and title of high priest to the Messiah? Here are at least 3 thoughts to consider (the following note by Hughes adds another thought)…
Phillip Hughes answers the question of when Christ was designated High Priest in a slightly different way noting that… The "designation" of Christ as high priest both precedes and follows the incarnation. It precedes it in that the coming of the Son into the world was in accordance with the predetermined purpose of God for the redemption of the world—thus those who are God's redeemed people were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4-note); and it follows the incarnation in that what was before intended and anticipated is now completed, so that through His life, death, and exaltation Christ is revealed as our great High Priest. Moreover, he is this in a unique sense; hence the definition, in fulfilment of Psalm 110:4, after the order of Melchizedek, which places him in a category quite distinct from that of the Levitical order of the old covenant. (A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews - recommended)
High priest (749) (archiereus from arche = first in a series, the leader or ruler + hiereus = priest) (Dictionary articles - Easton's; ISBE) refers to the priest that was chief over all the other priests in Israel. This office was established by God through Moses instructions in the Pentateuch. The high priest functioned as the mediator (another article on "Mediator") between Jehovah and Israel performing sacrifices and rituals like other priests, but in addition acting to expiate the sins of the nation on the annual Day of Atonement. (See excellent article on Priest, Priesthood in Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)
It is a bit ironic that the Jewish high priest Caiaphas was residing over the Sanhedrin during trial of Jesus, the trial which would lead to His death and pave the way for His eternal High Priesthood!
Eerdman's Bible Dictionary explains that…
The high priest descended from Eleazar, the son of Aaron. The office was normally hereditary and was conferred upon an individual for life (Nu 25:10-13). The candidate was consecrated in a seven-day ceremony which included investiture with the special clothing of his office as well as anointments and sacrifices (Ex 29:1-37; Lev 8:5-35).
The high priest was bound to a higher degree of ritual purity than ordinary Levitical priests. He could have no contact with dead bodies, including those of his parents. Nor could he rend his clothing or allow his hair to grow out as signs of mourning. He could not marry a widow, divorced woman, or harlot, but only an Israelite virgin (Lev. 21:10-15). Any sin committed by the high priest brought guilt upon the entire nation and had to be countered by special sacrifice (Lev 4:1-12). Upon a high priest’s death manslayers were released from the cities of refuge (Nu 35:25, 28, 32). (Eerdman's Bible Dictionary)
Archiereus occurs only in the Gospels (Matthew - 25 times, Mark 21 times, Luke 15 times, John 20 times), Acts 22 times and Hebrews (see below). The references to the high priests in the Gospels and Acts refers primarily to their bitter opposition to Jesus Who the writer of Hebrews identifies as our everlasting High Priest.
Clearly archiereus is a key word in the book of Hebrews, and a review of these 17 verses reveals various characteristics (bold) of Jesus role as the great High Priest (some of the uses of high priest obviously do not refer to Jesus but to the Jewish high priests).
Hebrews 2:17 (note) Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
Hebrews 3:1 (note) Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.
Hebrews 4:14 (note) Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
Hebrews 4:15 (note) For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
Hebrews 5:1 (note) For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins;
Hebrews 5:5 (note) So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him, "Thou art My Son, Today I have begotten Thee";
Hebrews 5:10 (note) being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 6:20 (note) where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 7:26 (note) For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens;
Hebrews 7:27 (note) who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
Hebrews 7:28 (note) For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.
Hebrews 8:1 (note) Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,
Hebrews 8:3 (note) For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer.
Hebrews 9:7 (note) but into the second only the high priest enters, once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance.
Hebrews 9:11 (note) But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation;
Hebrews 9:25 (note) nor was it that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood not his own.
Hebrews 13:11 (note) For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp.
In the preceding list of occurrences of "high priest", notice that the the author inserts a "divine parenthesis" between the descriptions of Melchizedek. And so beginning in Hebrews 5:11 and extending through Hebrews 6:19 the writer proceeds to issue another solemn warning to his Jewish audience. Their spiritual immaturity forces him to attempt to arouse them out of their spiritual sloth and lethargy by warning them in unequivocal terms of the serious danger in which they find themselves.
Spurgeon - It is a glorious mark of our Lord Jesus that He was “called of God a High Priest.” He did not assume this office to Himself, but this high honor was laid upon Him by God Himself. Then the apostle appeared to be going on to enlarge upon the Melchizedek priesthood, but he stopped. Perhaps he recollected what his Master said to his disciples on one occasion, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot hear them now.”
According to the order of Melchizedek - What the writer has been trying to convince his Jewish readers of is the truth that Jesus must be a priest of another (different) order, an order which the Jews should have had at least an "inkling" concerning, because it had been clearly declared in Psalm 110 some 1000 years prior to His first advent.
Order (5010) (taxis from tasso = arrange in order) means a setting in order, hence order, arrangement, disposition. Tasso was used to describe troops in an order or rank. A military line is ordered and thus unbroken, intact. Tasso is a fixed succession (of rank or character) and here describes a priest of the same order, rank, or quality as Melchizedek. [Heb 7:11], not according to the order or rank of Aaron.
It is instructive to recall how Christ is similar to Melchizedek.
Believers, Jewish and Gentiles now have a great High Priest. The writer is exhorting his readers to hold fast to Him. Don't drift. Don't go back to the ritual and the ceremony of the Aaronic priesthood. There is now a Priest of a totally different order. By way of application to all Gentile believers who read this letter, the writer is saying in essence don't run to anyone else for mercy, for grace, for sympathy, for aid in your time of need. Run to your Great High Priest. Are you in need of mercy, grace, sympathy, help? If you think you are not, then in fact you are in greater need than you can even imagine!
I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.
I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.
I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh.
I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is in vain.
I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.
I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;
O make me Thine indeed, Thou blessèd Son.
Words by Annie S Hawks/Music by Robert Lowry - Click to read the fascinating story of how this hymn came into being! It might not be inspired as Scripture is inspired but this powerful hymn certainly appears to have been initiated by God Himself!
Ray Stedman sums up Hebrews 5:9,10 writing that these passages… take us to the Cross. Having learned obedience in Gethsemane, Jesus is now perfectly qualified to become at once the sin offering and the high priest who offers it. This anticipates the clause of He 9:14, "through the eternal Spirit [he] offered himself unblemished to God." This perfect sacrifice, offered by the perfect priest, entirely supersedes the Aaronic priesthood and is again designated by God as of the order of Melchizedek. The phrase appears five times in Hebrews and becomes the subject of the epistle from He 5:6 to He 7:28. It is the Melchizedek priesthood that is described by He 2:18: "Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." In view of this help so easily available, why do we insist so strenuously on obtaining only human help? The mutual assistance of others like ourselves is scripturally valid and often helpful, but it was never intended to replace the help available from our great "Melchizedek." Let us go boldly and much more frequently to our high priest who sits on the throne of grace, ready and able to help. (Hebrews Commentary)