Hebrews 5:2 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Hebrews 5:2, NIV: He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.

Hebrews 5:2, ESV: He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.

Hebrews 5:2, KJV: Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.

Hebrews 5:2, NASB: he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is clothed in weakness;

Hebrews 5:2, NLT: And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses.

Hebrews 5:2, CSB: He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he is also clothed with weakness.

What does Hebrews 5:2 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jesus understands our flaws, since He has experienced humanity in the same way we have (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15). A critical part of the role of priest is compassion: grasping the struggle that a person has, and then approaching God on their behalf. In the case of a normal, fallible priest, this includes a recognition of one's own sin. Other verses in Hebrews show that Christ, in this way, was different from ordinary high priests, in that He had no actual sins to be forgiven of (Hebrews 7:27). This verse summarizes details given in verses 7 and 8.

The idea of Jesus being gentle with sinners echoes the sentiment of Hebrews 4:16, which reminds us that believers can come to Christ in confidence. Rather than fearing His anger, we can trust in His compassion and gentleness. However, this idea of responding "gently" actually involves more than simply a lack of uncontrolled anger. The Greek term metriopathein implies an overall control of emotions. This means that a high priest, including Christ, also responds to sin without undue coddling. This kind of "gentleness" gives us confidence, but it does not give us license to sin freely.

The Old Testament law made a distinction between sins committed in ignorance, or in passion, compared to deliberate acts of rebellion (Exodus 21:12–14; Numbers 15:27–31). It stands to reason that Christ's response to our sins, while always merciful and compassionate, is not without variation. The fact that Christ has experienced our weakness makes Him sympathetic, not feeble.