Useful Bible Studies > Hebrews Commentary > chapter 5

The meaning of ‘perfect’

Hebrews 5:9-10

Hebrews 5:9 contains the same ideas as Hebrews 2:10. Because Jesus suffered, he became perfect. And so he leads all the people whom God is saving.

But the idea that Jesus ‘became perfect’ may seem strange. Jesus is God; so he has always been perfect. However, the word ‘perfect’ has more than one meaning.

We see one meaning in Matthew 5:48. Our Father, God in heaven, is perfect. That means ‘without anything evil in him’. We see another meaning in Hebrews 5:14. There, it means someone who has become mature. That person is not still a little child; he eats solid food, not just milk.

That second meaning is closer to the meaning in Hebrews 5:9. Christ had become mature – he had developed in his relationship with God. He had passed the test – he had proved himself completely loyal to God.

Jesus has always been God’s Son. But something new happened when he died on the cross. He became the leader or captain of the people who have faith (active belief and trust in God) – Hebrews 2:10. And he became the person who completed our faith. That word ‘completed’ is another meaning of ‘mature’ or ‘perfect’. We see both these ideas together in Hebrews 12:2. In fact, we can read that verse to say that ‘Jesus is the beginning and end of our faith’.

Jesus used the same word on the cross, in his declaration that his work was complete (John 19:30). It was perfect.

But that work was only perfect because God had appointed Jesus to be our chief priest. It was only perfect when Jesus completed his work as our chief priest.

But Jesus was not a chief priest by the laws that God gave to Israel. His work as chief priest had a much more ancient origin. Psalm 110:4 explains that origin. But we shall not discuss Melchizedek until we reach Hebrews chapter 7. There are other important matters which we must think about first.

Next part: Develop and grow in faith (Hebrews 5:11)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.