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Hebrews chapter 5

New International Version

1 Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3 This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. 4 And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was.
5 In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, 'You are my Son; today I have become your Father.'
6 And he says in another place, 'You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.'
7 During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
English Standard Version

1 For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. 3 Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. 4 And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.
5 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”;
6 as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”
7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.
11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
King James Version

1 For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: 2 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. 3 And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. 4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. 5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. 6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. 7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec. 11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. 12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
New American Standard Bible

1 For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of people in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; 2 he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is clothed in weakness; 3 and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins for himself, as well as for the people. 4 And no one takes the honor for himself, but receives it when he is called by God, just as Aaron also was.
5 So too Christ did not glorify Himself in becoming a high priest, but it was He who said to Him, 'YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE FATHERED YOU';
6 just as He also says in another passage, 'YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.'
7 In the days of His humanity, He offered up both prayers and pleas with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His devout behavior. 8 Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. 9 And having been perfected, He became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey Him, 10 being designated by God as High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
11 Concerning him we have much to say, and it is difficult to explain, since you have become poor listeners. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the actual words of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unacquainted with the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to distinguish between good and evil.
New Living Translation

1 Every high priest is a man chosen to represent other people in their dealings with God. He presents their gifts to God and offers sacrifices for their sins. 2 And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses. 3 That is why he must offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as theirs.
4 And no one can become a high priest simply because he wants such an honor. He must be called by God for this work, just as Aaron was.
5 That is why Christ did not honor himself by assuming he could become High Priest. No, he was chosen by God, who said to him, 'You are my Son. Today I have become your Father.'
6 And in another passage God said to him, 'You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.'
7 While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. 8 Even though Jesus was God's Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. 9 In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him. 10 And God designated him to be a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.
11 There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don't seem to listen. 12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God's word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. 13 For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn't know how to do what is right. 14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.
Christian Standard Bible

1 For every high priest taken from among men is appointed in matters pertaining to God for the people, to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he is also clothed with weakness. 3 Because of this, he must make an offering for his own sins as well as for the people. 4 No one takes this honor on himself; instead, a person is called by God, just as Aaron was.
5 In the same way, Christ did not exalt himself to become a high priest, but God who said to him,You are my Son;today I have become your Father,
6 also says in another place,You are a priest foreveraccording to the order of Melchizedek.
7 During his earthly life, he offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 8 Although he was the Son, he learned obedience from what he suffered. 9 After he was perfected, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 10 and he was declared by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
11 We have a great deal to say about this, and it is difficult to explain, since you have become too lazy to understand. 12 Although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the basic principles of God's revelation again. You need milk, not solid food. 13 Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature--for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil.

What does Hebrews chapter 5 mean?

Hebrews chapter 5 opens as part of one continuous train of thought, from the end of chapter 4. At the end of chapter 4, the writer explained that Christ's status as fully human made Him uniquely qualified. Jesus can understand our weaknesses and temptations, since He has experienced them just as we have. Here at the beginning of chapter 5, we see that a human high priest must be able to empathize with the people, and to offer a sacrifice for their sins. Only because Jesus was fully human was He able to fulfill this role.

The early part of chapter 5 once again refers to Psalm 2 and Psalm 110. The point made here is that Christ was called to His position of High Priest by God. The Old Testament verses are explained as a prophecy about the Messiah being both priest and king, something that was not the case in the days of Moses, or David, or Solomon. The figure used to illustrate this is the mysterious Melchizedek, from Genesis chapter 14. According to the writer of Hebrews, Melchizedek's unique combination of priesthood and kingship was a symbol of the eventual role Christ would play as both our High Priest and the One who made David's kingly line eternal.

Later verses in chapter 5 transition to another dire warning. Earlier, the writer of Hebrews chided the readers to pay more attention to their faith. Those who are careless run a risk of drifting into error, and error always comes with consequences. In this case, there is much more to be said about how Christ is part of a superior High Priesthood, but the original readers need to be warned, first, not to be careless and apathetic about the Word. This warning will continue through all of chapter 6.

Here, the specific criticism is of spiritual immaturity. This letter is written specifically to Jewish Christians of the early church. Apparently, there was a lack of development in their Christian lives. Knowledge and wisdom are not magically imparted at the moment of salvation. Some aspects of our spiritual lives take time and effort to develop. Those who fail to develop are like children who are still dependent on milk, when they should be eating solid food.

The end of chapter 5 and the early verses of chapter 6 form an interesting approach by the writer of Hebrews. On one hand, he points out that these Christians are immature and need to learn more about the subject. In this case, it is the idea of Jesus as a High Priest, using the example of Melchizedek. On the other hand, the writer sees these Christians as too spiritually immature for deeper details. So, what does the author of Hebrews do? He warns them about their lack of depth, but chooses not to start "from scratch." Instead, he will continue on with his examination of Christ's High Priesthood.

As the next chapter will say, directly, this letter is not meant to re-explain the basic doctrines of the faith. Rather, the author will press on to show how Jesus, as our High Priest, is superior to any other figure seen in Scripture.