Some have requested a foretaste on the text for upcoming sermons so they may read and pray through it prior to worship. I love this kind of hunger for God’s word! This week I thought I’d offer up my simple exegesis of the text to see if it might be helpful to anyone. My thoughts on how this could help are simple. Noticing how the text fits together and how key words indicate how the thoughts fit together can help you do the same sort of examination in your own personal Bible study. So take a look. Mark up your own Bible with these ideas. And find a way to use this thinking in your own study.
Exegesis of the text, Hebrews 4:14-5:10
There are three big ideas in this text. Two are directions for people to take action. One explains how Jesus’ superiority as priest should convince people to take those actions:
#1 “let us hold fast our confession” in 4:14
#2 “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace” 4:16
#3 “For every high priest chosen from among men…So also Christ” 5:1-7
There are supporting thoughts for each of the three big ideas:
Big idea #1, “let us hold fast our confession” (4:14), is supported by two thoughts:
Since…we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God (v.14).
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (v.15).
Big idea #2, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace” (4:16), is supported one thought:
that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (4:16).
Big idea #3 “For every high priest chosen from among men…So also Christ” (5:1-7), is explained by three ways Jesus is similar yet superior to the Old Testament priest.
- “He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people” (5:2-3).
- “And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was” (5:4-6).
- “In the days of his flesh…he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him” (5:7-10).
Big idea #3 explains that the actions of big ideas #1 & #2 should be taken because Jesus is the superior high priest. Here is a summary of the ways found throughout the text that Jesus is the greater higher priest.
- 4:14 – Jesus entered through the heavens, a greater feat than Aaron entering through the veil of the tabernacle.
- 4:15 – Jesus sympathizes with weak sinners perfectly since He is God, knowing all things.
- 4:15 – Jesus was tempted but unlike Aaron, He never sinned.
- 5:1-3 – Jesus can help the ignorant and wayward in a far greater way. Since He is God, his atonement gives sinners perfect justification for their sins and perfect help against temptation.
- 5:4 – Jesus’ calling to the priesthood is far greater than Aaron’s. Aaron was Moses’ finite brother but Jesus is God’s eternal Son.
- 5:7-10 – Jesus’ prayers and help in suffering and temptation is far greater than Aaron’s because He is the eternal priest advocating as a substitute in His own perfect suffering.
The details of Jesus’ superiority as our priest show us the importance of taking the actions in big idea #1 & #2. We must hold fast our confession of Jesus because there is no other priest capable of doing these things for us. We must draw near to the throne of grace to find help because there is no other way of finding help in our suffering and temptation. These all fit into the bigger message of the epistle by showing why the warnings must be heeded. Anyone giving up their confession of Christ will find no help from Him. For the one not yet converted, there is no possible way for them to be saved if they turn away from Christ. The one who truly has been converted, will be saved in the end but throughout their lifetime of suffering and temptation they will not experience Christ’s help in time of need.
“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 4:14