What does Hebrews 4:15 mean?
ESV: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
NIV: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin.
NASB: For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things just as we are, yet without sin.
CSB: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.
NLT: This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.
KJV: For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
NKJV: For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Verse Commentary:
The central figure of the Christian faith is not a remote, distant deity. Nor is it some flawed, mortal figure. Instead, the "founder" of our salvation is one who has experienced all of our temptations and did so without falling into sin. Earlier portions of Hebrews explained why Messiah had to be fully human. In order to become the perfect example for humanity (Hebrews 2:10), and our true High Priest (Hebrews 2:17), Jesus had to experience all of the struggles and suffering of mankind (Hebrews 2:14–18). Here, this idea is given even more direct expression.

Christ has a unique understanding of our plight (Hebrews 2:18). The Greek word used here is sympathēsai, which has come into English almost unchanged as "sympathize." Jesus can "feel for" us in our temptations since He has experienced those lures as well. In fact, it can be said that Jesus actually understands the weight of our temptation better than we do. A man strong enough to lift a heavy object appreciates its weight more than one who lacks the strength to hold it up. At some point, the weak man's power runs out, and he never fully bears the load: he drops it. Christ, in enduring our temptations without failure, experienced their weight far beyond the point where we would have failed and given in.

While we are tempted, and often sin, Christ was tempted in every way we are, but remained sinless (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 3:5; 1 Peter 1:19).

This verse also clarifies an extremely important point about the nature of sin: namely, that the experience of temptation is not a sin, itself. In other words, feeling the lure of sin is not a sin. The original Greek describing Jesus' temptations is pepeirasmenon de kata panta; literally, "tempted, even [nevertheless/yet] in all things."

The fact that Christ experienced the temptation to sin, but was sinless, is monumentally important for our understanding of the gospel. Too often, we categorize certain sins—usually ones we personally are not prone to—as those by which only "really bad" people are even tempted. Rather than helping others recognize the difference between temptation and action, and guiding them to react in a godly way, we act as if being tempted is the sin, itself. This, according to the Word of God, is simply not true. Christ was tempted—Christ was without sin. No matter what lures a person feels, God always gives them a way to respond without violating His will (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Instead of a cold, emotionless judge, or a flawed, fickle spirit, Christians worship Jesus Christ. He is the only One who has both experienced and overcome the power of sin and temptation. As the next verse shows, this not only takes away our excuses for failure, it gives us reassurance that, when we fail, He will offer us mercy and compassion.
Verse Context:
Hebrews 4:14–16 is among the most often-quoted passages in the Bible. It is also one of the clearest expressions of Christianity's unique nature. Jesus, the Son of God, has experienced all of our struggles, temptations, and sufferings. And yet, He did so without succumbing to sin. For this reason, we can look to Him as our perfect example. We can rely on Him as our perfect substitute. We can come to Him as our only High Priest. And, we can trust in Him as our source of help and healing. Knowing that Christ fully, personally understands what it means to be human gives us confidence when we bring Him our failures and needs.
Chapter Summary:
In Hebrews chapter 4, the author refines the theme of chapter 3. An entire generation of Israel lost out on their inheritance of the Promised Land due to a lack of faith. Here, the author points out that the rest promised by God is still offered, through Christ. The razor-sharp truth of the Word of God will separate what is truly spiritual from what is faithless. We should make every effort to obtain our inheritance in Christ, which is something separate from our eternal salvation. We can also be confident, knowing Jesus can uniquely sympathize with our temptations and sufferings.
Chapter Context:
Chapters 1 and 2 explained how Messiah could not be an angel, but had to be human in order to become our example and the ''Captain'' of our salvation. Chapter 3 described Jesus as worthy of greater glory than Moses, since Jesus fulfilled the promises Moses only spoke of. Chapter 4 will continue to place Jesus as a higher example than Old Testament figures, including Joshua. This chapter bridges the focus of Hebrews from our need to ''hold fast'' in faith to Jesus' status as our ultimate High Priest.
Book Summary:
The book of Hebrews is meant to challenge, encourage, and empower Christian believers. According to this letter, Jesus Christ is superior to all other prophets and all other claims to truth. Since God has given us Christ, we ought to listen to what He says and not move backwards. The consequences of ignoring God are dire. Hebrews is important for drawing on many portions of the Old Testament in making a case that Christ is the ultimate and perfect expression of God's plan for mankind. This book presents some tough ideas about the Christian faith, a fact the author makes specific note of.
Accessed 4/24/2024 7:21:45 PM
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