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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on Hebrews

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Commentary spanning earlier chapters

4.14–10.31 : Jesus as the eternal high priest.

4.14–5.10 : Christ as great high priest.

The author under stands Jesus' life, death, and present heavenly role through the category of “high priest” who perfects the ancient sacrificial system of Judaism. Having discussed Jesus' “faithfulness”( 2.17; 3.1–6 ), the author turns to reflect on his “mercy.”


Through the heavens, Jesus has passed through the series of heavensabove the earth and entered into the highest where God dwells. His entry is the basis for the confidenceand hope of Christians.


Approach the throne of grace, the sermon's imagery shifts from holding fast( 3.6,14; 4.14 ) to moving forward, an image that will be explored as the sermon proceeds.


The authordefines what a high priest is and shows how the definition fits Jesus. A priest is chosen from among humanbeings and represents them before God in sacrifices he offers.


He can effectively represent them becausehe shares human weakness.


See Lev 9.7 .


He is called by God to this office. Aaron, Ex 28.1 .


Citing Ps 2.7 , the author demonstrates that Christ is appointed by God (cf. Lk 3.22 ).


The author quotes Ps110.4 . According to the order of Melchizedek is interpreted to mean “like” Melchizedek. The sermon willreturn to this element in 7.1–22 .


The author refers to an example of Jesus' sharing human weaknessand suffering in order to show how that makes him a source of salvation for human beings.


Traditionally, this verse has been understood to refer to Gethsemane (Mk.14.32–42 and parallels). However, thedescription resembles the portrayal of the typical Jewish hero, such as Abraham or Moses, who prays loudly to God for deliverance (2 Macc 11.6 ; Philo, Rer. div. her. 19).


Melchizedek, see 7.1–10 n. Although simply called a “priest according to the order of Melchizedek” in the psalm citation, the authorelaborates that Jesus is a “high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.”

5.11–6.20 : Exhortation to hope.

The author's tone shifts from critical to complimentary in this hortatory passage. The community is encouraged to move forward, first toward perfection ( 6.1 ), then to seize the hope set before us ( 6.18 ).


Common in Hellenistic rhetoric, the comparison between milk asrudimentary teaching and solid food as more advanced teaching is used to encourage the community tomove beyond basic teachings (cf. 1 Cor 3.1–2 ).


Dead works, “works that lead to death” or “sin.”


Baptisms, ritual washings used in both Jewish and Christian practice (see 9.10 ). Laying on of handswas a ritual of commissioning (see Acts 6.6; 8.17–19; 9.17; 13.3; 1 Tim 4.14; 2 Tim 1.6 ). Teaching aboutresurrection of the dead would have been accepted by both Jews and Christians. The author understandsall these as “basic teaching,” while the priesthood of Christ is the more advanced teaching explored bythe sermon.


Those who have fallen away cannot be restored to repentance; they therefore share incrucifying … the Son of God. These verses describe the dire consequence for one who loses hope and fallsaway.


The author reassures the audience that they are not among those who are lost.


Asa basis for hope, the author refers to God's promise to Abraham that he would bless Abraham's descendants (Gen 22.16–18 ). The promise made to Abraham applies to all Christians.


Two unchangeable things, God's promise and God's oath.


The author summarizes the theme of hope and introducesthe next topic: a priest like Melchizedek and the entry of the priest into the holy of holies.


The inner shrine, the holy of holies ( 9.3 ) of the tabernacle, behind the curtain or veil (Ex 26.31–35 ), restricted tothe high priest alone (Lev 16.2 ).


As forerunner, however, Jesus goes ahead on behalf of human beings. Melchizedek, here the author picks up the argument of 5.10 .

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