HEBREWS CHAPTER FIVE EXPOUNDED*
By ROBERT GOVETT, M.A.
[* This exposition is from chapter three of the authors book Govett on Hebrews, (pages 125-144).]
Chapter 5: 1. For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things respecting God, that they may offer both gifts
and sacrifices for sins; who can have compassion in the
ignorant and erring, since he himself also is
compassed with infirmity; and because
of this, he ought, as for the people,
so also for himself, to offer for sins.
The comparison of our Lord with Aaron began at the fourteenth verse of the last chapter.
as High Priest of men, needed to be, and is, a Son of man. It was fitting it should be so. Take thou to thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from
among the children of
A priest is one appointed to stand between God and sinners, to bear Gods communications to men, and to carry mens offerings to God. His especial service is to appease the wrath of God against sin, and to procure His favour. He represents men, because they may not come directly to God, even to present their offerings. The necessity of priesthood, and the peril of going to God without the priesthood of his choice, is shown impressively in the rebellion of Korah and his two hundred and fifty princes, who were cut off by fire under the wrath of Jehovah, because of their presumptuous daring, in offering incense to Jehovah after setting Aaron aside.
In the case of the Jewish priests there was a special service of consecration. But in the Christian scheme there are no atoning priests. Christ is the one High Priest who has brought in perfect peace with God, through His one offering. But all believers are priests to God, and are consecrated and welcome to go to God, in the perfect forgiveness of sins through Christ [Jesus]. The Revised Version removes, and rightly, the word ordained; as the Holy Spirit puts here only appointed. The word ordained was used in obedience to King James, to shelter the idea that Christian ministers need a special service of consecration by men, before they have any right to preach. For the Prayer Book speaks of Priests and Deacons; and hence many imagine, that the old office of priesthood belongs now to ordained men. But this is a mistake, arising out of the evil use of the same word made to signify things quite different. The Gospel owns the service of certain believing men, called Presbyters (or elders), watching over the flock. Out of Presbyter was formed the word priest, which perpetuates the confusion between the Jewish and the Christian systems.
Let the reader mark, then, that ALL BELIEVERS [born again by the Holy Spirit] ARE PRIESTS! Revelation 1: 6; 5: 10; 1 Peter 2: 5, 9) AND THAT NONE BUT BELIEVERS [called and chosen by God] ARE PRIESTS. Vain, then, is the assumption of the title of priest by any one of a special class, as if he had a peculiar nearness to God, arising out of a special consecration to this office. If the man be not a [regenerate] believer, he is no priest in any spiritual sense. And if he imagines that he is consecrated to draw near to God, in order to offer prayers and sacrifices for the laity, he is denying the foundation-principle of the Gospel.
Old Testament priest was appointed to offer to God gifts. God would not receive anything, save
through His appointed and consecrated servant. He was appointed to offer sacrifices for sins. Sins were
The High Priest must have compassion, and sympathy for sinners; for his office is one of mercy, provided for the benefit of those who deserve only wrath. Sinners, in this view, may be classed in two divisions, the ignorant and the erring. Towards each of these the High Priest, must be forbearing. He was to feel compassion, and to exercise forbearance; because, as a man, he was sensible of his own infirmity, and his need of mercy himself. Our great High Priest, by His plea on behalf of the ignorance of His murderers, has prevailed with God to this day (Luke 23: 34).
The Aaronic high priest was commanded to offer for the sins of the people, and God would hear. But in the great Day of Atonement, which was the chief day of his office, he was commanded first to offer for himself and the priesthood generally. Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin-offering, which is for himself, and made an atonement [covering] for himself, and for his house (Leviticus 16: 6). Before he could atone for others, he must be reminded that he himself was a sinner, who also needed forgiveness through atoning blood. Had he attempted to draw near to the God of Israel without this, he would himself have been cut off in wrath. But our High Priest, as sinless, could present a perfect offering, and needed no sacrifice for Himself.
4. And none taketh this honour to himself, but One called of God, as
was Aaron. So also the Christ glorified not Himself to become High
Priest, but He that spake to Him, My Son art Thou, I to-day
begat Thee. As also in another place He saith, Thou art
a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedec.
Beside the requisite fitness through personal qualities, there must be also an appointment on Gods part. It was the sin of Korah, that he, and his companion thought that they were as fit to draw near Jehovah, as Aaron and his sons. They dared to try the matter, by standing before His tabernacle, and offering incense before God; which was a part of the priests office. The Most High was so offended with this, and with Dathans refusal of Moses that He would, but for the intercession of Moses and Aaron, have destroyed the whole people. And there came out a fire from the Lord, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense (verse 35). High-churchmen and clergy in our day imagine, that dissenters and nonconformist ministers of the Gospel are guilty of this sin. In Ballads by the Rev. J. Neale, you have these words: Why dont you go to Meeting? (The childs answer.)
Oh no! I dare not turn away,
As you would have me do;
I dare not leave Gods House to-day
To go to meeting too.
In Church God always waits, I know,
To hear His peoples prayer;
But in the place that you go to
His presence is not there.
Gods Priest in Church for God doth stand,
And when the prayers begin,
The Lord will give me at his hand
Forgiveness for my sin!
Do not the Holy Scriptures show, -
(We know the story well)
Why Korah once, and Dathan, too,
Went down alive to hell [Sheol]?
And Sauls sad end might make us wise
Whom God in anger slew,
Because he offered sacrifice
Which only priests might do.
This supposes that buildings of brick and mortar are Gods house, while Scripture tells us, that the Most High is not dwelling in houses made with hands (Acts 7: 48). His house now is a spiritual one, made up of living stones, and [regenerate] believers are a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2; 4-10). This clergyman trusted that he was an atoning priest, capable of drawing near to God than others, and offering the prayers of others to God, because he was a consecrated priest according to the Prayer Book; and was considered to be so by the law of England. But he was no priest towards God, unless he were a [regenerate] believer. God consecrated Aaron to be His priest, and owned his priesthood: but the Lord does not own the Prayer Book and its consecration, as His. So that, whosoever lifts himself up as an atoning priest like Aaron, is guilty of the very sin of Korah. [Regenerate] believers now are only Levites, servants of God. And it was the Levites attempt to take the place of the sacrificing and atoning priest, which God visited in wrath. Whoever regards himself, and acts, as an atoning priest, now [after] that Christ has, once for all, brought in forgiveness; and not only brought peace with God, is guilty of Korahs sin. For he is setting aside the completed work of a greater than Aaron.
Christ then did not appoint Himself to the Highpriesthood but God did; as truly as He appointed Aaron. This point the Apostle proves by two passages. One from the second psalm: Thou art My Son, this day I begat Thee. But how does that passage prove Gods appointment of Christ to the Priesthood? This second generation of Christ by the Father took place at His rising our Lord [out] from the dead; after His having accomplished the sacrifice of Himself, which the Saviour offered as High Priest elect. He was the first victim that was raised up, after its atoning blood had been shed. Of a victims resurrection after death the Law could only give a distinct hint, such as we find in the commandment concerning the Passover-Lamb; that no part of it was to be left to corruption, but all that was not eaten was to be consumed by fire (Exodus 12: 10). Now no sacrifice however perfect, could be accepted, save at the hand of a priest. The [out] resurrection then of Jesus, the Lamb of God, proves Him to be Gods perfect Priest. And that Priest, and that Sacrifice was Gods own [or only begotten] Son!* Jesus through His resurrection [out of dead ones (Acts 4: 2. lit. Gk. trans.)] entered not only into a new relation to God, but to us also. As the Righteous Jew, He stood, during all His life, apart from all others, whether Jew or Gentile (John 12.). But, by His rising again, He becomes a New Man, sin put away. He can make over to us, by His will and testament, all His merits. He has a higher title, and a larger field that was given even to Moses. How vast the difference between My faithful servant, and My Beloved Son!
*These two points, Jesus is Son, and High Priest, have both been assumed before in chapter 4: 14.
a second passage is adduced by the Apostle as proof, from Psalm 110. This directly states our Lords being constituted Priest by God. Thou art. It is a
present thing. A Priest for ever.* Therefore neither Aaron, nor David, is the person
meant. The priesthood, too, is of
another and a higher order than Aarons.
The priest after Melchizedecs order is higher than the High
Priest of Aarons order. Melchizedec was
both king and priest. Now this union of
office was not allowed under the Law. They
did not meet even in Moses. A king of
[* A Priest for the age, is, in my opinion,
a better translation. It is a Divine
reference to a time yet future, when our Lord Jesus Christ will be manifested
as both King and Priest in His
again: From His place (i.e., presumably
the Millennial Temple at Jerusalem) He
shall branch out, and He shall build the temple of the Lord,
He shall bear the glory,
and shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne,
and the counsel of peace shall be between them both:
(Zechariah 6: 12,
Christs own throne (as both King and High Priest), will be manifested within His
Messianic and Millennial
But the Son of God is declared both King of kings, and Gods High priest. Aaron possessed the shadow of resurrection in the miracle of the flowering of the dry and dead rod. By that sign God would prove that Aaron alone was His accepted priest: and the broad plates on the altar, made out the censers of Korah and his company - those sinners against their own soul - were a sign, that none was to venture to offer to God, save through His appointed priest. But the real resurrection of Jesus was a far greater miracle [sign]; and His ascent to Gods Holiest in heaven was a far nobler entry on the tabernacle above, than Aarons entrance into the tent made my mans hands.
A priest for ever. That must
begin after death. Flesh and
blood are not built for eternity; and only through a violent death could that
shedding of the blood be made, without which is no forgiveness of sins. Moreover, Jesus manifest Priesthood was only
to be enacted in heaven [until He returns to this earth, and claims
His promised inheritance here (Psalm
2: 8), and sits upon His throne
Without a perfect priesthood, and a perfect sacrifice, all men must be destroyed in justice, or Gods Law and Word be dishonoured. But Jesus, our High Priest, slain for sin, but risen [out] from the dead, and Minister of the true temple above, glorifies God, and saves men.
7. Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with loud outcry of tears, to Him Who was able to
Save Him out of death, and was delivered from His fear;
though He was a Son, yet learned He obedience
by the things which He suffered.
The time of the Saviours life on earth in the infirmities of the flesh, contributes to the perfection of His Priesthood. He is exalted, and far above suffering now. But He remembers His trials and sufferings while He was a [impeccable] man, in [a body of] fresh and blood. These sufferings our Lord could only experience as incarnate. Flesh, and in its days, are the time of infirmity. All flesh is as grass. He remembered that they were but flesh (Isaiah 40: 6; Psalm 78: 39).
While on earth, Jesus was the Priest undergoing consecration; not clad in the garments of beauty and glory, but in the white-linen dress of humiliation. He offered - the priestly word - even then acceptable gifts and sacrifices to God, in the way of prayers and supplications. These offerings are past, as the tense of the word offered shows. They were acceptable to God; as He manifested by an immediate answer: (1) At His baptism. It came to pass that Jesus, having been immersed, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art My Beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased (Luke 3: 21). (2) At His transfiguration. Jesus had expressed His intention to surrender His soul to death. And as He prayed [on the mount] the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment became white and glistering (Luke 9: 29). And the Father again attested Him as His Beloved Son. (3) Also, when His last hour was close at hand, as soon as He says, Father, glorify Thy Name, there came a voice out of heaven saying: I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again (John 12.).
What is the difference between prayers and supplications? I do not know, if it be that the latter word signifies prayer for deliverance, as the following context seems to show.
prayers of the Saviour were sometimes uttered with loud outcry and tears. This seems to
refer to His prayers in the night of agony in
Instead of saying that these prayers were directed to God, the Apostle uses a paraphrase, to bring out the power of the Most High, in the special direction in which our Lord appealed to Him. He cried to Him that was able to save Him out of death (ek).* Jesus must die, and did not pray to be delivered from suffering death; but He prayed that He might not be left in Hades, or in the place that is called Death. Thou hast laid Me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps. Thy wrath lieth hard upon Me, and Thou hast afflicted Me with all Thy waves (Psalm 88: 6). But if once He went down into Death, how should He get out of it? Let not the deep swallow Me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon Me (Psalm 69: 15).
* Great is the difference, between being saved from, and being saved out of (ek). He who is saved from a pit [i.e., Sheol = Hades], does not fall into it. But he who is saved out of one, must first be in it. God raised Jesus [out] from among the dead (ek [= out]) (Romans 10: 9). See also Judges 2: 16, 18; 8: 23; Psalm 107: 13; Exodus 36: 29; Isaiah 20: 6.
And was delivered from His fear.
The Established Version here gives: And was heard in that He feared. The margin has: Was heard for His piety. The Greek is susceptible of several meanings, and all give a good sense. But which was the meaning intended by the Holy Spirit?
1. He was heard because of [His] piety. If this were the meaning, we should expect another preposition, and the word His to be added to piety. We should probably have, too, the word commonly used by Paul for piety.* And in the other passages in which the word here occurs in this epistle, it signifies fear. With reverence and godly fear (12: 28. See also Acts 23: 10; Hebrews 11: 7).
* See Acts 3: 12; 1 Timothy 2: 2, &c.
But, even if we translate it fear, there are still two meanings which may be given to
it. It may signify the inward sentiment of fear. Then it will mean the Saviour was oppressed by
the fear of death; which was doubtless true.
He was to suffer death from the hand of the Just Governor, as the penalty of sin. It was to
come on Him as a curse from
God. No wonder that He feared! For then the loving face of His Father was
turned away, as His bitter words on the cross testify. Then we shall understand the sentiment of the
present clause to be: He prayed to be delivered from
this overwhelming feeling
of fear. And He was heard; for His fear was taken
away, and He went boldly to meet the armed men who sought Him, and surrendered
Himself into their hands. This gives a
good sense. But here too we should
expect the His with fear. It is clear that it does not mean, He was saved from
3. I doubt not, then, that the true rendering is: He was delivered from the object of fear. Fear is taken as the external object causing fear - Death and Hadees. The Greek word for hearing is one used often by the Septuagint to render the Hebrew was answered.* See also Psalm 118: 5; Luke 1: 13; Acts 10: 31. Thus we have here what is called a pregnant construction. He was answered from the fear. The result of His petition was, His deliverance from the object which occasioned fear. Thus, too, we account for the absence of the pronoun, which would otherwise be added to fear, if it were considered as an inward feeling of our Lord.
* See Psalm 22: 26; 40: 2.
This, therefore, signifies the Saviours rescue [out] from among the dead, by [His] resurrection. The absence of this great truth, on which Paul usually lays much stress, has been made one of the probabilities against the Epistle being composed by that Apostle. But here is the link supposed to be missing. And we are, by this signification, thrown into connection with Scripture passages relating to this [resurrection-] redemption of our Lord [as our Forerunner and First-born Son of God out of dead ones (Acts 4: 2, Greek.).] As in the Crucifixion-Psalm: For He [God] hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath He hid His face from him; but when He cried to Him He heard (Psalm 22: 24). Then follows a passage referring to our lord as risen [out of dead ones]. My praise shall be of Thee in the great congregation. This is entirely parallel with the words quoted by Paul a little above: I will declare Thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee (verse 22). But the passage most distinctly pointed at is Psalm 18., composed, as we have seen, by David, when the Lord delivered Him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul (Hadees). There we find: The sorrows of Death compassed me, the floods of Belial [margin] made me afraid. The sorrows of Sheol [= Gk. Hades] compassed me about, the snares of Death [the place] prevented [surrounded] me. Then comes the prayer: In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry came before Him, even into His ears. Then we have the earthquakes, at the Saviours death, and at His resurrection. Then the earth shook and trembled: the foundation also of the hills moved and were shaken, because He was wroth. Then the resurrection: He sent from above [the two angels], He took me, He drew me out of many waters (verses 4-16).
Son though He was, and therefore vastly superior to the dying and sinful priests of the Law - Son though He was, He was not kept out of these sore trials, as we should not have naturally expected from a Fathers love. It is indeed a wonderous contrast, to mark the Creator of all, possessed of every perfection of glory that can be found in His Father, yet brought low, distressed even to tears, cries, and bloody sweat, and death, begging for restored life, and redemption out of death! But thus we learn how sore the weight of those sins which oppressed Him; and that none but Himself could rescue us. And what will be the horrors of death to him that suffers for his own sins?
He learned obedience by the things He suffered.
The Saviour, as Creator and Sustainer of all, ruled, and did not bow to a superiors command. But, on becoming man, He learned what it is to obey, especially the difficulties of obedience, when suffering and death must be endured. Submission was the new duty entailed on Him from that difficult path; first, by the baits of the flesh and the world, and then he sought to terrify Him from the Fathers will, by the suffering that lay before Him. Thus the Lord Jesus has learned, by experience, the difficulties which man finds in obeying God.
Unitarians and others would present to us God as simply benevolence. His creatures, though offenders against Him and His law, need no atonement; for there is no wrath in God. The Saviour came to take away from us the fear of God. Did He? How, then, was it, that His Perfect Son was so overwhelmed with fear and anguish, and the hiding of His Fathers face? If God can, without injustice, lay such woe upon the Sinless One, how terrible He must be to wilful transgressor! And who is not a wilful transgressor (Romans 3: 9-19)? How comes it, that martyrs have been so much calmer, while suffering unto death, than the Perfect One? We can tell! They did not suffer the sting of death!
And being perfected, He became to all that obey Him the author of eternal [Gk. aionian i.e., in this context age-lasting] salvation.*
[* By an examination of the context, and by looking at a literal word for word translation from the Greek text of verses 7b-11:-
and having been heard from the [His] piety, 8 though being a Son, learned, from what things He suffered; 9 And having been perfected, became a Cause of salvation age-lasting to all THOSE WHO OBEY Him; 10 having been declared by the
God a high priest, according to the order of Melchizedek. 11 Concerning Whom great to us the word and hard to
be explained to say (Rendered: in our discourse we have much to say, and of difficult interpretation),
since sluggish ones you have become in the hearing. (Rendered:
since you have become sluggish hearers.)
- the Greek word aionian, as shown above, must, in this context, be understood and translated as age-lasting. Ed.]
The Saviours sufferings over, and Himself being raised out of His lowly lot, and crowned with glory at the right hand of God His twofold perfection for His office - (1) in Himself, and (2) in His position and power arrived. As come out of Death, He is the Rock for evermore, on which His people build.* His sufferings and their atonement, procuring salvation for the lost; as the words which ensure testify. He is the meritorious cause of their [eternal] salvation. Their salvation is not of the temporary character of salvation out of the Law. And as derived from oneness with the Second Adam, it is eternal life in [and after] resurrection.
Matthew 16: 18
with Deuteronomy 32: 15. Christ is not yet to
the difficulty faces us in the remaining words of this verse; a difficulty
passed by, by nearly every commentator.
Christ is author of eternal aionian salvation TO ALL THEM THAT OBEY
HIM. We should have expected, to all that believe
on Him. And most writers on the
Epistle quietly read it so. He is a High Priest of salvation
to all who believe, says Pridham. But are faith and obedience the same
thing? Did not
10. Saluted by God as High Priest after the order of Melchizedec.
After the Perfect Son has perfectly glorified the Father, by His obedience unto death, He is saluted by Him, on his rising [out] from the dead, as High Priest (Psalm 2.). He was, according to Gods counsels, High Priest before His incarnation and death, but He was formally saluted as such, after His sacrifice was evidenced to be accepted, in His resurrection [out of dead ones Acts 4: 2, (Greek.)]. It is related of the first Emperor Napoleon, that on one occasion, having dropped the reins, his horse ran away with him. A common soldier, stepped out of the ranks, caught the reins, and presented them to him. Thank you, Captain, said the Emperor. That salutation made the private at once an officer. He accepted the word at once, and asked: of what regiment, Sire? Of my own Guards.
DIGRESSION REBUKE EXHORTATION
11. Concerning whom [Melchizedec] we have much to say, and difficult of interpretation, since ye are become dull of hearing. For when, in consideration of the [length of]
time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you the
first principles of the oracles of God, and are become such as
have need of milk, and not of solid food.*
* The translation strong meat, has led astray the thoughts of not a few. They have supposed it meant some indigestible kind of flesh. But no! Meat is old English for food. And here it is adults food; the opposite of milk, the infants.
The Apostle checks himself. They were unready to listen to his proofs concerning the [gospel of the] glory of Christ,* drawn from the history of Abraham. With advancing years they had become slow to accept deeper views of the Scriptures and their revelations. It was not so once. Once they listened to the glory of Christ, as reflected in the Old Testament, with great interest. But they were now, through persecution and other causes, like their fathers under Pharaoh, when they heard the promises of deliverance. Moses spake the promises, as Jehovah commanded: But they hearkened not to Moses for anguish of spirit and for cruel bondage.
[* The reference here is, I believe, what we find written concerning the gospel (good news) concerning Messiahs future, manifested, and millennial glory, which Satan seeks to keep hidden from regenerate Christians! But and if our gospel (good news) is veiled, - (says Paul in his epistle unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in the whole of Achaia 2 Cor. 2: 1, R.V.) - it is veiled to them that are perishing: in whom the god of this age hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the gospel (good news) of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God should not dawn upon them: (2 Cor. 4: 3-4, R.V.).]
They had long been Christians; some, probably, for thirty years. They had listened to Christ Himself, and His Apostles. They had seen their words backed by deeds of wonder and power. They ought to have so profited as to be masters of [much more, especially prophetical] Christian truth, able to impart it to others. Hence we learn, that, teaching Christian truth under the Gospel does not require ordination. But, instead of being teachers of Christ, they had need to be taught the first principles of the oracles of God. Oracles were answers given to those who inquired of the heathen gods. They were oft dictated by inspiration. Of course, not inspiration by the Holy Spirit, but by evil spirits. They were the gods reply to his inquirer.
The Scriptures are the oracles of the true God, given by inspiration of the Holy Ghost. In this passage the word seems to refer principally, if not entirely, to the Old Testament. (1) For Paul is about to expound the history of Genesis in its application to us. (2) And the expression is certainly applied to the Old Testament in more than one place of the New. Of Moses it is said: Who received living oracles to give unto us (Acts 7: 38). (So the Revised Version.) What was the Jews advantage? Chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God (Romans 3: 2). 1 Peter 4: 11 may have a more general application. But it is very remarkable, that, while by the time this Epistle was penned of the New Testament writings of inspiration had been published, there is no appeal to those writings in this exhortation to the Hebrew Christians.
are the first principles of
the oracles of God which the Hebrews
needed to be taught? They are, I
believe, the very same at which British Christians are stumbling now. (1) There is partial unbelief concerning the inspiration of the Bible. (2) There is, consequently, great difficulty in persuading believers
concerning the typical meaning of the Old Testament, and its
application to us. They will not
credit it, that this book differs from all others in being Gods book, and
therefore possessed of powers vastly beyond mans. The style is so
simple. It is; but beneath that simplicity is couched a vast
profundity of meaning. The words
concerning the Serpent and the Woman in
The Apostle is here teaching us that Holy Scripture has two aspects.
are Moses simple words to
see then, the state of the Church at
Instead of turning to see Christs glory in Moses, they were attendants on the Law and its sacrifices, its feasts and fasts, from which Christ came to lead them out. All were zealous of the law, and that was incompatible with advance in the knowledge of Christ, and the principles and practice of His truths. The faith being come, they were to be no longer under the schoolmaster, and students of the alphabet of truth, but men in Christ. Ye are observing days and months, and times and years; I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed on you labour in vain.
They were short-sighted, and unable to see afar off, and had forgotten their purging from their old sins. Hence the Apostle must teach them Christ in His present Priesthood after the pattern of Aaron, atoning for sin, and cleansing from it, which lies at the foundation of Christianity, instead of [focusing attention upon His coming, (and the numerous Divine promises (see Psalm 2: 8; 110: 1-3; 72. etc,) of] the glory to come, in His Melchizedec* aspect.
[* That is, in His future role upon this earth, as His Fathers Anointed King-Priest.]
Let us then be unlike the men of our day. Learned Germans will not believe in the truth if inspiration. When they find a Psalm quoted, as written of Christ, they set themselves to inquire what David meant in penning it. They then guess, what must have been the occasion which drew forth the Psalm. And often their guess was foolish. Take the Crucifixion-Psalm (Psalm 22.). What event in Davids life was like the scene there depicted? None! It was inspired David, writing of his Son on the cross. It was Gods hand that guided Davids pen. Scripture is on no private interpretation. Holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Only by faith in this truth can we understand and be fed by Gods Word.
Ye have become such as have need of milk, and not solid food.
milk was the simple principle concerning priesthood which
lay upon the surface. The solid food was the deeper truths concerning His Son, which God
had hid under the letter of the Old Testament history of Abraham. To the advanced Christian, firmly grounded in
the earlier doctrines of the faith, Paul could teach deep mysteries of
God. But, to the babe in Christ, he knew it was wise to present only milk. Therefore the proud and philosophic believers
13. For every one that partaketh of milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness; for he is a babe.
is the word of righteousness? Some regard
it as the Gospel [of grace]. But no! Paul is staying this course of his argument,
to teach concerning the Old Testament, and
its bearing on Christians. And the Law has for its foundation-principle,
thou follow, that thou mayest live, says Moses to
On the contrary, the Gospel of God is the word of His grace (Acts 14: 3; 13: 43). The ministry, says Paul, which I have received, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God. I commend you to God, and the word of His grace (Acts 20: 24, 32).
All then, who go not beyond the letter of the Old Testament, are users of milk, and babes in Christ. Only those find the solid food, suited to the experienced Christian, who will look through the veil of the letter, and find beneath it the glory of Christ, the Son of God. This requires both strength and skill, but especially the teaching of the Spirit of God, Who is the Spirit of grace.
Now here is just the character of the teaching of our day. There is a call foe simple truth, - which is milk. Most desire any the ABC if Christianity. All beyond is fanciful, cabalistic, and injudicious. Paul himself does not escape these charges, where he dares to set upon the board [for examination] some solid food; as when he shows us the lessons accruing to Christians from the history of Abraham (Galatians 4). Look at the books upon the Christian faith which sell in are day; they are those which keep close in shore, and refuse to know anything [about Gods responsibility and accountability truths] but just the way of [initial and eternal] salvation by faith [alone]. Hence the danger of the falling away, or apostacy from Christ, is becoming more and more imminent.
14. But solid food belongeth unto adults, who by reason of habit have their senses exercised to the discrimination of good and evil.
The Hebrew Christians were adult in age, if we reckon the length of time in which they had been converted. But they had been going back in knowledge and in grace. They were still but old babes. Scripture speaks of the inability of the very young to discriminate between good and evil. Your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in (Deuteronomy 1: 39; Isaiah 7: 15; Romans 9: 11).
Let us take an example of this deeper truth.
(1) The history of Eliezers mission to obtain a wife for Isaac, when taken in the letter, may give instruction to one desirous of finding a [good] wife. But, taken in its deeper sense, we have in it a picture of the mission of the Holy Ghost, by the Father and the Son, to lead [out from amongst the body of] the Church as a BRIDE to Christ. (2) The law concerning the leprous house taught the Jew how to behave himself in that special case, according to the letter. But, viewed in New Testament light, it tells of Christs coming into the world, of John the Baptists preparing the house for Him, and the present day of Gods patience; while it testifies also concerning the coming millennial day, and the worlds final destruction (Leviticus 14: 33-45).
On this topic indeed, - of the senses of Scripture, - there is great need of a word of caution, lest we should imagine, that, those who talk most about the letter and the spirit must be sure to be well instructed in it. Some years ago, a grocer put out strong warnings to the public, against the adulteration of tea: but soon after, the police seized upon a great quantity of sloe leaves, which he was palming off upon the public, in place of the genuine article.
Swedenborg talks much of the senses of Scripture, and pities ordinary Christians, as those who are slaves of the letter. He talks much of the Science of Correspondences, and of the profound wisdom which lies in his system of anti-Christianity. But this is only deceit and folly. Take an example. Does Scripture so teach? Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have NO UNDERSTANDING (Psalm 32: 9).
And the Fathers of the Church, so called, utter all sorts of extravagances, as their explanation of the deeper meanings of the Word of God, especially when they would put down heretics; of which take a specimen from the Commentary on the Four Gospels, collected out of the works of the Fathers; edited by Puseyites, in their earlier days.
He [Jesus] departed into
That is said, mark, of Christ!
I suppose the reader will be quite satisfied with this brief extract.