Useful Bible Studies > Hebrews Commentary > chapter 5

How Jesus became our chief priest

Hebrews 5:5-6

The main subject of the Book of Hebrews is Jesus’ work as our chief priest. And here, the author explains how Jesus became our chief priest. Jesus was humble. He did not appoint himself to do this great work. It was God the Father who appointed him.

The passage that the author refers to in Hebrews 5:5 is Psalm 2:7. The author has already used that verse, in Hebrews 1:5. It is a first in his list of passages that show the importance of God’s Son (Hebrews 1:5-13). In each of those passages, God the Father speaks about the importance of his Son.

Here, the author is emphasising that God the Father spoke the words in Psalm 2:7. Only God the Father could appoint some one to be his priest. And that is what he actually did in the second passage, Psalm 110:4.

The author of Hebrews considered Psalm 110 to be a particularly important passage, as did Jesus and the first Christians (Mark 12:36; Acts 2:34-35). It shows how Christ would be both king and priest. Israel’s kings were never priests; and its priests were never kings. But it was necessary for Christ to be both priest and king.

Psalm 110 was already a particularly important passage, even before Jesus and the first Christians explained it. We know that because God swore (made an oath) in Psalm 110:4. An ‘oath’ shows that someone has made a very serious promise or declaration.

God’s words are always true and his promises are always certain, even without an oath. So God does not often make oaths. But when he does, it is because of the great importance of the matter.

The author of Hebrews has already mentioned one occasion when God made an oath (Hebrews 3:11). And he will mention another occasion in Hebrews 6:13-14. We can see from Hebrews 6:16-18 that the author was very aware of the importance of God’s oaths.

The author of Hebrews does not actually mention the oath here in Hebrews 5:6. However, he will mention it in Hebrews 7:20-22. And the author shows the importance of Psalm 110:4 by his careful explanation of it. That one verse is his main subject through Hebrews chapters 5 to 7.

He emphasises the subject because we need to understand the importance of Jesus. Jesus was not merely someone who established a great religion. He was not merely someone whose words and deeds were wonderful. He was not merely an innocent person who died for other people. He was the chief priest whom God the Father appointed. And by his work as chief priest, he saves his people from their sins (the bad and wrong things in everyone’s lives).

This is not just words. And it is not just a clever way to explain about Jesus. This is something that really happened. It happened in heaven – but heaven is a real place (Hebrews 9:24). And it was there that Jesus offered his own blood to God the Father (Hebrews 9:11-12). If God had refused, then nothing could ever free us from our sins. But God the Father would certainly not refuse the sacrifice (precious gift) that Jesus, his Son, offered to him. God considered that Jesus’ humble acts were wonderful. When Jesus died, he had obeyed God completely. And he had done all that is necessary to save us. So God accepted him, and he gave Jesus the most important place in heaven (Hebrews 1:3).

By that fact, we can be sure that God forgives our sins. We must confess our sins to God. We must invite him into our lives. We must trust him. But only Christ can save us; and he has already done that work. He did it when he acted as chief priest on our behalf.

We shall discuss who Melchizedek was at the start of chapter 7.

Next part: The prayers of Jesus (Hebrews 5:7)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.