Hebrews 5:2

Monday, 8 October 2018

He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness. Hebrews 5:2

As noted in verse 5:1, every high priest is taken from among men. The stress of that thought was on the bond of humanity. We can see here the reason why this is so necessary. It is so that “he can have compassion.” The word used is a unique compound word, metriopatheó. Helps word studies defines it as –

“…(from metrios, ‘mediating,’ derived from metri, “an instrument for measuring” and páthos, ‘feeling’) – properly, to feel appropriately, i.e. with divinely-measured intensity (‘God-controlled moderation’).”

The high priest was not a stoic who was without feeling toward those he mediated for, nor was he overbearing in accusation, finding fault in every misstep made by them. Instead, because he shares in their humanity, he was to empathize with the people without being too tolerant of their faults that they should be wholly overlooked, nor should he be too severe that he finds a reason to have them ejected from the congregation for even the slightest mistakes. The high priest possesses feelings appropriate to the situation with a “God-controlled moderation” which is directed toward “those who are ignorant and going astray.”

The word “ignorant” is not necessarily speaking of one who is stupid. Rather, it is someone who simply doesn’t know about or recognize his wrongdoing. It may be from a lack of intelligence, or it may be from a lack of information. A distinction between intentional and unintentional sins is made in Numbers 15:22-29. The word now translated as “ignorant” would fall under the “unintentional” category there. The term “going astray” is the same one used in Hebrews 3:10, planaó. It is where the word “planet” comes from, because planets, unlike stars, seem to wander through the heavenly realm. It would then signify a person caught in sin by roaming into error, or by being misled.

In such cases, the high priest is able to see their wandering and have a moderated sense of their failing because “he himself is also subject to weakness.” The word here for “subject to” gives the idea of being hung or surrounded by. Thus, it is something that encompasses. The high priest is, like those he ministers for, encompassed by weakness. And that is exactly the word used to describe what Jesus did for the people in Matthew 8 where the words of Isaiah 53 are cited –

“When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
He Himself took our infirmities
And bore our sicknesses.’” Matthew 8:16, 17

As can be seen, verses 5:1 & 2, which began with the word “For,” are given to explain what was stated as Chapter 4 closed out. As it said in verse 4:15, “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.” The notable difference is that the high priest of Israel was encompassed with his own weakness, whereas Christ carried the infirmaries of the people for them. The difference between the two will lead us to the thought of the coming verses concerning the weakness of the high priest of the Old Covenant.

We are being shown the compassion of God towards fallen sinners in the Person of Jesus Christ. Because He shared in our human limitations, He is able to effectively mediate as one who can empathize with our failings.

Life application: Thank God for Jesus Christ our Lord.

Lord God, it sure is wonderful that Jesus came into humanity. In this, He took on our infirmities and He bore our sicknesses. As a Man, He can fully empathize with our failings and faults, and He can then effectively mediate between You and us. We have a High Priest who is able to use the proper measure when we go astray, knowing personally who we are and what limitations we possess. Thank You for this wonderfully comforting knowledge. Amen.

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