Hebrews 5:11

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

…of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. Hebrews 5:11

The author continues with the thought of the previous verse. Taken together, they read –

“…called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,” 11 of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.”

Understanding this, he begins the verse with, “of whom.” This translation leaves an unnecessary ambiguity in it. Who is “whom” referring to? Is it Jesus or Melchizedek? Rather, it should rightly be translated as, “of which.” He is not speaking specifically about either Jesus or Melchizedek, but about Jesus’ position and duties as High Priest in comparison to those of Melchizedek. As it says, “according to the order of Melchizedek.” It is of this matter that he then says, “we have much to say.”

He is speaking of himself, but he uses the plural “we” as a way of signifying that there is much to be said and much to be absorbed by his hearers. The word “we” is used in a manner inclusive of them, as if a dialogue between the author and the hearer is expected. However, he then says, “and hard to explain.” The word used is found only here in Scripture and it is rightly translated as “explain.” It is a compound word signifying, “difficult to interpret.” What he has to say about Melchizedek is not a light theological matter, but it is something that even his Hebrew audience will find complicated. This is because its complexity transcends the standard thoughts that had been gleaned about Melchizedek and how they point to Christ Jesus.

In other words, the passage concerning Melchizedek in Genesis is only three verses long, and it is seemingly placed there without any theological reason. Instead, it seems to be a short historical record only. However, David then shows that this is not the case in Psalm 110 (which the author of Hebrews has cited in verse 5:6 and 5:10). David referred to “the order of Melchizedek.” However, he didn’t explain what that meant. He simply made the reference and moved on.

The author of Hebrews now says that what David was referring to implied a concept which is quite complicated, and it will require careful explanation. However, there is a problem. The careful explanation of the deeper theology involved in the statement about Melchizedek will be difficult to explain to his audience because, as he says, “you have become dull of hearing.”

Here he introduces a word which will only be used one more time, in verse 6:12. It signifies “blunt,” “dull,” “lazy,” “spiritually sluggish,” etc. His audience should be able to grasp the more complicated doctrines of the faith, but they instead wallowed in shallow theology and were not ready for being introduced to concepts which required study and contemplation. For this reason, he will now divert away from the subject of Melchizedek, only reintroducing him in verse 6:20.

Life application: What importance is complicated theology to you? Are you content with simply knowing the basics of the faith? When you go to work, are you interested in only knowing the basics of your job, or do you seek out knowing everything associated with what you do? What about your favorite hobby or passion? Suppose you enjoy sports? Do you want to know more than just the basics, or are you content to just sit and watch the events of the game happen, without really knowing why they are happening? The level of interest in everything we do shows us how important each thing is to us. If your knowledge of theology is minimal, it is probably because you consider the subject less important than other things. And yet, it is the most important subject that we could ever touch upon. But sound theology is also hard work. Are you willing to put forth the effort and grow in your understanding of the things of God? With every new understanding of this matter, you show God that knowing Him is important to you.

O God! How absolutely amazing is the story of Jesus! When we contemplate what You have done on our behalf through Him, how can we do anything but praise Your glory? We’re free from sin, death, and condemnation through Him. And even more, we’re called Your sons and His brothers. How unworthy we are of this highest honor. Praise be to You. Amen.

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