What does Hebrews 5:8 mean?
ESV: Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.
NIV: Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered
NASB: Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.
CSB: Although he was the Son, he learned obedience from what he suffered.
NLT: Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.
KJV: Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
NKJV: though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
Verse Commentary:
It is difficult to fully understand the relationship between Jesus' divinity and His humanity. As God, Christ had access to divine omniscience and omnipotence. However, according to Scripture, He chose to experience human weaknesses such as hunger and fatigue (Matthew 4:2; John 4:6). And, according to this and other verses, He also chose to experience learning and growth. Just as in Luke 2:52, Jesus is said to have "learned" through His struggles. It should be noted that, in the context of the original writing, the concept of "learning" is intimately tied to the idea of "experiencing." The focus of this verse is not so much on Jesus becoming aware of what suffering is, but Jesus actually putting into practice what He was called to do.

The greater point made here is that Jesus completely fulfilled the role of a human high priest. By experiencing our temptations (Hebrews 4:15), offering prayers and supplications (Hebrews 5:7), through an appointment by God (Hebrews 5:5–6), Christ is truly the only High Priest we could ever need.

There is a poetic rhyme in this verse which does not translate into English. The Greek words for "He learned" and "He suffered" are emathen and epathen, respectively.
Verse Context:
Hebrews 5:1–10 explains how Jesus fits the requirements of a high priest. Earlier verses showed that the Messiah promised by the Old Testament would be entirely human (Hebrews 2:17). That humanity allows Christ to sympathize with our temptations and weaknesses. Here, the writer of Hebrews points out that this also makes Jesus qualified to be our ultimate High Priest. Because of His humanity, His prayers, His sacrifice for sin, and His appointment by God, Jesus' status is far superior to any other figure.
Chapter Summary:
Hebrews chapter 5 completes the previous commentary about Jesus' humanity. His human existence qualifies Him to understand other men and to offer sacrifice to God on our behalf. Jesus also fulfills the roles of both high priest and king, which the author demonstrates by returning to the Old Testament. The figure of Melchizedek is used to illustrate this point: that Christ, unlike any before, was able to be both the kingly Son of David and the High Priest for all people. The deeper meaning of this example, however, may well be lost on the letter's audience, since they are languishing in spiritual immaturity.
Chapter Context:
The book of Hebrews shows how Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of God's purpose for mankind. For the sake of Jewish Christians, in particular, the author explains that Christ is superior to all other figures, and His covenant is superior to all other relationships. Chapter 5 continues the point made in chapter 4, that Christ's humanity makes Him a uniquely qualified High Priest. This passage bridges that idea into the writer's next warning: spiritual immaturity. This call to avoid apathy will run through all of chapter 6, before the writer returns to Jesus' priesthood in chapter 7.
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.
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