John Wesley's Explanatory Notes
Verse 1. For every high priest being taken from among men - Is, till he is taken, of the same rank with them. And is appointed -That is, is wont to be appointed. In things pertaining to God -To bring God near to men, and men to God. That he may offer both gifts - Out of things inanimate, and animal sacrifices.
Verse 2. Who can have compassion - In proportion to the offence: so the Greek word signifies. On the ignorant - Them that are in error. And the wandering - Them that are in sin. Seeing himself also is compassed with infirmity - Even with sinful infirmity; and so needs the compassion which he shows to others.
Verse 4. The apostle begins here to treat of the priesthood of Christ. The sum of what he observes concerning it is, Whatever is excellent in the Levitical priesthood is in Christ, and in a more eminent manner; and whatever is wanting in those priests is in him. And no one taketh this honour - The priesthood. To himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron - And his posterity, who were all of them called at one and the same time. But it is observable, Aaron did not preach at all; preaching being no part of the priestly office.
Verse 5. So also Christ glorified not himself to be an high priest - That is, did not take this honour to himself, but received it from him who said, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee - Not, indeed, at the same time; for his generation was from eternity. Psalms 2:7.
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Verse 6. Psalms 110:4.
Verse 7. The sum of the things treated of in the seventh and following chapters is contained, Hebrews 5:7-10; and in this sum is admirably comprised the process of his passion, with its inmost causes, in the very terms used by the evangelists. Who in the days of his flesh - Those two days, in particular, wherein his sufferings were at the height. Having offered up prayers and supplications - Thrice. With strong crying and tears - In the garden. To him that was able to save him from death - Which yet he endured, in obedience to the will of his Father. And being heard in that which he particularly feared -When the cup was offered him first, there was set before him that horrible image of a painful, shameful, accursed death, which moved him to pray conditionally against it: for, if he had desired it, his heavenly Father would have sent him more than twelve legions of angels to have delivered him. But what he most exceedingly feared was the weight of infinite justice; the being "bruised" and "put to grief" by the hand of God himself. Compared with this, everything else was a mere nothing; and yet, so greatly did he ever thirst to be obedient to the righteous will of his Father, and to "lay down" even "his life for the sheep," that he vehemently longed to be baptized with this baptism, Luke 12:50. Indeed, his human nature needed the support of Omnipotence; and for this he sent up strong crying and tears: but, throughout his whole life, he showed that it was not the sufferings he was to undergo, but the dishonour that sin had done to so holy a God, that grieved his spotless soul. The consideration of its being the will of God tempered his fear, and afterwards swallowed it up; and he was heard not so that the cup should pass away, but so that he drank it without any fear.
Verse 8. Though he were a Son - This is interposed. lest any should be offended at all these instances of human weakness. In the garden, how frequently did he call God his Father! Matthew 26:39, &c. And hence it most evidently appears that his being the Son of God did not arise merely from his resurrection. Yet learned he - The word learned, premised to the word suffered, elegantly shows how willingly he learned. He learned obedience, when be began to suffer; when he applied himself to drink that cup: obedience in suffering and dying.
Verse 9. And being perfected - By sufferings, Hebrews 2:10; brought through all to glory. He became the author - The procuring and efficient cause. Of eternal salvation to all that obey him - By doing and suffering his whole will.
Verse 10. Called - The Greek word here properly signifies surnamed. His name is, "the Son of God." The Holy Ghost seems to have concealed who Melchisedec was, on purpose that he might be the more eminent type of Christ. This only we know,-that he was a priest, and king of Salem, or Jerusalem.
Verse 11. Concerning whom - The apostle here begins an important digression, wherein he reproves, admonishes, and exhorts the Hebrews. We - Preachers of the gospel. Have many things to say, and hard to be explained - Though not so much from the subject-matter, as from your slothfulness in considering, and dulness in apprehending, the things of God.
Verse 12. Ye have need that one teach you again which are the first principles of religion. Accordingly these are enumerated in the first verse of the ensuing chapter. And have need of milk - The first and plainest doctrines.
Verse 13. Every one that useth milk - That neither desires, nor can digest, anything else: otherwise strong men use milk; but not milk chiefly, and much less that only. Is unexperienced in the word of righteousness - The sublimer truths of the gospel. Such are all who desire and can digest nothing but the doctrine of justification and imputed righteousness.
Verse 14. But strong meat - These sublimer truths relating to "perfection," Hebrews 6:1. Belong to them of full age, who by habit - Habit here signifies strength of spiritual understanding, arising from maturity of spiritual age. By, or in consequence of, this habit they exercise themselves in these things with ease, readiness, cheerfulness, and profit.