Hebrews 4:14
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
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(14) All the chief points of the earlier chapters are brought together in this verse and the next:—the High Priest (Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 3:1); His exaltation (Hebrews 1:3-4; Hebrews 1:13; Hebrews 2:9); His divine Sonship (Hebrews 1; Hebrews 3:6); His compassion towards the brethren whose lot He came to share (Hebrews 2:11-18).

That is passed into the heavens.—Rather, that hath passed through the heavens. As the high priest passed through the Holy Place to enter the Holy of Holies, Jesus “ascended up far above all heavens,” and sat at the right hand of God. This thought is developed in Hebrews 8-10.

Our profession.—See Hebrews 3:1.

Hebrews 4:14. The writer of this epistle having spoken of the Author of the gospel, as the Creator of the world, as the Lawgiver in God’s church, as the Conductor of the spiritual seed of Abraham into the heavenly country, the rest of God, and as the Judge of the whole human race, now proceeds to speak of him as the High-Priest of our religion, and to show that, as such, he hath made atonement for our sins by the sacrifice of himself. This is the fourth fact whereby the authority of the gospel, as a revelation from God, is supported. See note on Hebrews 1:1. They who are acquainted with the history of mankind, know that from the earliest times propitiatory sacrifices were offered by almost all nations, in the belief that they were the only effectual means of procuring the pardon of sin and the favour of the Deity. In this persuasion the Jews more especially were confirmed by the law of Moses, in which a variety of sacrifices of that sort, as well as freewill-offerings, were appointed by God himself. And as the heathen offered these sacrifices with many pompous rites, and feasted on them in the temples of their gods, they became extremely attached to a form of worship which at once eased their consciences and pleased their senses. Wherefore, when it was observed that no propitiatory sacrifices were enjoined in the gospel, and that nothing of the kind was offered in the Christian places of worship, Jews and Gentiles equally were very difficultly persuaded to renounce their ancient worship for the gospel form, in which no atonements appeared; and which, employing rational motives alone for exciting their affections, was too naked to be, to such persons, in any degree interesting. Wherefore, to give both Jews and Gentiles just views of the gospel, the apostle, in this passage of his epistle, affirms, that although no sacrifices are offered in the Christian temples, we have a great High- Priest, even Jesus the Son of God, who, at his ascension, passed through the visible heavens into the true habitation of God, with the sacrifice of himself; and from these considerations he exhorts the believing Hebrews in particular to hold fast their profession. Then to show that Jesus is well qualified to be a High-Priest, he observes, that though he be the Son of God, he is likewise a man, and so cannot but be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. On which account we may come boldly to the throne of grace, well assured that through his intercession we shall obtain the pardon of our sins, and such supplies of grace as are needful for us. These being the doctrines which the apostle is to prove in the remaining part of this epistle, this paragraph may be considered as the proposition of the subjects he is going to handle in the following chapters. And as his reasonings on these, as well as on the subjects discussed in the foregoing part of the epistle, are all founded on the writings of Moses and the prophets, it is reasonable to suppose that his interpretations of the passages which he quotes from these writings, are no other than those which were given of them by the Jewish doctors and scribes, and which were received by the people at the time he wrote. See Macknight. Seeing then that we have — Greek, εχοντες ουν, having therefore. The apostle refers to what he had affirmed, (Hebrews 1:3,) that the Son of God had made purification of our sins by the sacrifice of himself, and to what he had advanced Hebrews 2:17, that he was made like his brethren in all things, that he might be a merciful and faithful High-Priest; and to his having called him the High-Priest of our profession, Hebrews 3:1. He had not, however, hitherto attempted to prove that Jesus really was a high-priest, or that he had offered any sacrifice to God for the sins of men. The proof of these things he deferred till he had discussed the other topics of which he proposed to treat. But having finished what he had to say concerning them, he now enters on the proof of Christ’s priesthood, and treats thereof, and of various other matters connected with it, at great length, to the end of chap. 10. Theodoret, who had divided this epistle into sections, begins his second section with this verse, because it introduces a new subject. Indeed, the 5th chapter, according to our division of the epistle, should have begun with this verse. A great High-Priest — Great indeed, being the eternal Son of God; that is passed into the heavens — Or, through the heavens, as the expression διεληλυθοτα τους ουρανους, literally signifies. The word heavens is taken in two senses: 1st, For the palace of the great King, where is his throne, and where thousands of the holy ones stand ministering before him. This heaven the Lord Jesus did not pass through but into, when he was taken up into glory, 1 Timothy 3:16. There he is at the right hand of the majesty on high; and these heavens have received him until the time of restitution of all things, 3:27. But by the heavens we are sometimes to understand, 2d, the air, as when mention is made of the fowls of heaven; and concerning them our apostle says, (chap. Hebrews 7:26,) that Jesus is made higher than the heavens; he passed through them, and ascended above them, into that which is called the third heaven, or the heaven of heavens. The allusion is evidently made to the Jewish high- priest, and to what he typically represented to the church of old. As he passed through the veil into the holy of holies, carrying with him the blood of the sacrifices on the yearly day of atonement; so our great High-Priest went, once for all, through the visible heavens with the virtue of his own blood, into the immediate presence of God. It is to be observed, the apostle calls Jesus, the Son of God, a great High-Priest, because in chap. 1. he had proved him to be greater than the angels; and in Hebrews 3:1-4, to be worthy of more honour than Moses. Let us hold fast our profession

Our professed subjection to him and his gospel, notwithstanding our past sins, the present defects of our obedience, and our manifold infirmities. The word ομολογια, however, may be properly rendered, and probably was chiefly intended to signify, confession; for it is required that we should make a solemn declaration of our subjection to the gospel, with prudence, humble confidence, and constancy; for with the mouth confession is made unto salvation, Romans 10:10. The open acknowledgment of the Lord Christ, of his word and ways under persecution, is the touch-stone of all profession. This is what we are to hold first, totis viribus, with our whole strength, as κρατωμεν signifies, or with resolution, zeal, and firmness. See Revelation 2:25; Revelation 3:12. This verse, therefore, contains the enjoinment of a duty, with a motive and encouragement to the due performance of it. We have a great High-Priest, therefore let us hold fast, &c.

4:11-16 Observe the end proposed: rest spiritual and eternal; the rest of grace here, and glory hereafter; in Christ on earth, with Christ in heaven. After due and diligent labour, sweet and satisfying rest shall follow; and labour now, will make that rest more pleasant when it comes. Let us labour, and quicken each other to be diligent in duty. The Holy Scriptures are the word of God. When God sets it home by his Spirit, it convinces powerfully, converts powerfully, and comforts powerfully. It makes a soul that has long been proud, to be humble; and a perverse spirit, to be meek and obedient. Sinful habits, that are become as it were natural to the soul, and rooted deeply in it, are separated and cut off by this sword. It will discover to men their thoughts and purposes, the vileness of many, the bad principles they are moved by, the sinful ends they act to. The word will show the sinner all that is in his heart. Let us hold fast the doctrines of Christian faith in our heads, its enlivening principles in our hearts, the open profession of it in our lips, and be subject to it in our lives. Christ executed one part of his priesthood on earth, in dying for us; the other he executes in heaven, pleading the cause, and presenting the offerings of his people. In the sight of Infinite Wisdom, it was needful that the Saviour of men should be one who has the fellow-feeling which no being but a fellow-creature could possibly have; and therefore it was necessary he should actual experience of all the effects of sin that could be separated from its actual guilt. God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, Ro 8:3; but the more holy and pure he was, the more he must have been unwilling in his nature to sin, and must have had deeper impression of its evil; consequently the more must he be concerned to deliver his people from its guilt and power. We should encourage ourselves by the excellence of our High Priest, to come boldly to the throne of grace. Mercy and grace are the things we want; mercy to pardon all our sins, and grace to purify our souls. Besides our daily dependence upon God for present supplies, there are seasons for which we should provide in our prayers; times of temptation, either by adversity or prosperity, and especially our dying time. We are to come with reverence and godly fear, yet not as if dragged to the seat of justice, but as kindly invited to the mercy-seat, where grace reigns. We have boldness to enter into the holiest only by the blood of Jesus; he is our Advocate, and has purchased all our souls want or can desire.Seeing then that we have a great high priest - The apostle here resumes the subject which had been slightly hinted at in Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 3:1, and pursues it to the end of Hebrews 10. The "object" is to show that Christians have a great High Priest as really as the Jews had; to show wherein he surpassed the Levitical priesthood; to show how all that was said of the Aaronic priesthood, and all the types pertaining to that priesthood, were fulfilled in the Lord Jesus; and to state and illustrate the nature of the consolations which Christians might derive from the fact that they had such an High Priest. One of the things on which the Jews most valued their religion, was the fact that it had such a minister of religion as their high priest - the most elevated functionary of that dispensation. It came therefore to be of the utmost importance to show that Christianity was not inferior to the Jewish religion in this respect, and that the High Priest of the Christian profession would not suffer in point of dignity, and in the value of the blood with which he would approach God, and in the efficacy of his intercession, when compared with the Jewish high priest.

Moreover, it was a doctrine of Christianity that the Jewish ritual was to pass away; and its temple services cease to be observed. It was, therefore, of vast importance to show "why" they passed away, and how they were superseded. To do this, the apostle is led into this long discussion respecting their nature. He shows that they were designed to be typical. He proves that they could not purify the heart, and give peace to the conscience. He proves that they were all intended to point to something future, and to introduce the Messiah to the world; and that when this object was accomplished, their great end was secured, and they were thus all fulfilled. In no part of the Bible can there be found so full an account of the design of the Mosaic institutions, as in Hebrews 5-10 of this Epistle; and were it not for this, the volume of inspiration would be incomplete. We should be left in the dark on some of the most important subjects in revelation; we should ask questions for which we could find no certain answer.

The phrase "great high priest" here is used with reference to a known usage among the Jews. In the time of the apostle the name high priest pertained not only to him who actually held the office, and who had the right to enter into the holy of holies, but to his deputy, and to those who had held the office but who had retired from it, and perhaps also the name was given to the head of each one of the twenty-four courses or classes into which the priests were divided; compare Luke 1:5 note; Matthew 26:3 note. The name "great high priest" would designate him who actually held the office, and was at the head of all the other priests; and the idea here is, not merely that the Lord Jesus was "a priest," but that he was at the head of all: in the Christian economy he sustained a rank that corresponded with that of the great high priest in the Jewish.

That is passed into the heavens - Hebrews 9:12, Hebrews 9:24. The Jewish high priest went once a year into the most holy place in the temple, to offer the blood of the atonement; see the notes on Hebrews 9:7. Paul says that the Christian High Priest has gone into heaven. He has gone there also to make intercession, and to sprinkle the blood of the atonement on the mercy-seat; see the notes at Hebrews 9:24-25.

Jesus the Son of God - Not a descendant of Aaron, but one much greater - the Son of God; see the notes at Hebrews 1:2.

Let us hold fast our profession - see the notes at Hebrews 10:23; Hebrews 3:14; see the note, Hebrews 3:1. This is the drift and scope of the Epistle - to show that Christians should hold fast their profession, and not apostatize. The object of the apostle now is to show why the fact that we have such a High Priest, is a reason why we should hold fast our professed attachment to him. These reasons - which are drawn out in the succeeding chapters - are such as the following:

(1) We may look to him for assistance - since he can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; Hebrews 4:15-16.

(2) the impossibility of being renewed again if we should fall away from him, since there is but "one" such High Priest, and since the sacrifice for sin can never be repeated; Hebrews 6:p>(3) The fact that all the ancient types were fulfilled in him, and that everything which there was in the Jewish dispensation to keep people from apostasy, exists much more powerfully in the Christian scheme.

(4) the fact that they who rejected the laws of Moses died without mercy, and much more anyone who should reject the Son of God must expect more certain and fearful severity; Hebrews 10:27-30.

By considerations such as these, the apostle aims to show them the danger of apostasy, and to urge them to a faithful adherence to their Christian profession.

14. Seeing then—Having, therefore; resuming Heb 2:17.

great—as being "the Son of God, higher than the heavens" (Heb 7:26): the archetype and antitype of the legal high priest.

passed into the heavens—rather, "passed through the heavens," namely, those which come between us and God, the aerial heaven, and that above the latter containing the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, &c. These heavens were the veil which our High Priest passed through into the heaven of heavens, the immediate presence of God, just as the Levitical high priest passed through the veil into the Holy of Holies. Neither Moses, nor even Joshua, could bring us into this rest, but Jesus, as our Forerunner, already spiritually, and hereafter in actual presence, body, soul, and spirit, brings His people into the heavenly rest.

Jesus—the antitypical Joshua (Heb 4:8).

hold fast—the opposite of "let slip" (Heb 2:1); and "fall away" (Heb 6:6). As the genitive follows, the literally, sense is, "Let us take hold of our profession," that is, of the faith and hope which are subjects of our profession and confession. The accusative follows when the sense is "hold fast" [Tittmann].

The excellency of the great gospel Minister beyond all others in respect of his priestly office, especially beyond Aaron and the Levitical priesthood, is shown by the Holy Ghost:. {Hebrews 4:14-5:11} It is introduced as the Spirit’s counsel to these Hebrews, from the premises, for their using of this High Priest, in order to their reaching home to the rest of God, to whom and whose profession they ought to adhere, since he is so fit and so willing to give them an entrance into it: compare Hebrews 2:17,18 3:1,6.

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest; being therefore by the Spirit through faith not only interested by a common relation in him, but by a real union to, and communion with him, as here described, a High Priest (Hebrews 2:11, and Hebrews 3:1) so great as none was, or can equal him: all the high priests on earth but imperfect types of him; above Aaron and all others; the grand presider over all God’s worship, who had work peculiar to himself above all; the supreme and universal Priest in heaven and earth, whose title the Roman antichrist usurpeth, to him only due, Pontifex optimus maximus; yet officiating always for us.

That is passed into the heavens; he hath fulfilled his type, entering into the holy of holiest in heaven, taking possession of God’s rest, and purchasing an entrance for us into it, and this after the removal of the curse, satisfaction of the Divine justice for our sins, victory over all enemies that would oppose his or our entrance by him, as sin, wrath, death, and the devil, and keeping possession of this rest for us, Hebrews 9:23,24,28.

Jesus the Son of God; Jesus the Saviour of his people from all their sins, their Emmanuel, Matthew 1:20,21,23, who being God the Son by eternal generation, was incarnate by taking to himself and uniting a true body and a reasonable soul, being conceived miraculously by the virgin Mary from the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost: in which nature, inseparably united to his person, he fulfilled all righteousness, and died a sacrifice for our sins, and rose in our nature, and ascended and entered into the holy of holiest in heaven, and made atonement, and laid open the way to believers to enter God’s rest there.

Let us hold fast our profession; the entire religion of which Jesus is the author, as opposite to that of the Jews in its principles and practical part of it, Hebrews 3:1, is powerfully, strongly, and perseveringly to be held by his without relaxation; in which if we follow him, cleave to him, and by him labour to enter, we shall not come short of God’s rest, Hebrews 7:24,25: where the Head is, there shall the body be also, John 14:2,3 17:24.

Seeing then that we have a great high priest,.... That Christ is a priest, and an high priest, has been observed already, in Hebrews 2:1 but here he is called a great one, because of the dignity of his person, as follows, and the virtue of his sacrifice; and because of the place where he now officiates as a priest, heaven and with respect to the continuation of his priesthood; and likewise because he makes others priests unto God; and this great high priest is no other than the Word of God before spoken of: so the divine Logos, or Word, is often called a priest, and an high priest, by Philo the Jew (t). This great high priest believers "have", and have an interest in him; he is called to this office, and invested with it; he has been sent to do his work as a priest; and he has done the greatest part of it, and is now doing the rest; and saints receive Christ as such, and the blessings of grace from him, through his sacrifice and intercession:

that is passed into the heavens; he came down from thence, and offered himself a sacrifice for the sins of his people; and having done this, he ascended thither again, to appear for them, and to make intercession for them; whereby he fully answers to his character as the great high priest: and what makes him more fully to appear so is what follows,

Jesus, the Son of God: the former of these names signifies a Saviour, and respects his office; the latter is expressive of his dignity, and respects his person; who is the Son of God in such sense as angels and men are not; not by creation, nor adoption; but by nature; not as man and Mediator, but as God, being of the same nature with his Father, and equal to him; and it is this which makes him a great high priest, and gives virtue and efficacy to all he does as such: wherefore,

let us hold fast our profession: of faith, of the grace and doctrine of faith, and of Christ, and salvation by him, and of the hope of eternal life and happiness; which being made both by words and deeds, publicly and sincerely, should be held fast; which supposes something valuable in it, and that there is danger of dropping it; and that it requires strength, courage, and greatness of mind, and an use of all proper means; and it should be held without wavering; for it is good and profitable, it recommends the Gospel; and it has been made publicly before witnesses; and not to hold it fast is displeasing to God, and resented by him: and the priesthood of Christ is an argument to enforce this duty, for he is the high priest of our profession; he has espoused our cause, and abode by it; he has bore witness to the truth of the Gospel himself; he prays for the support of our faith; he pities and succours; and he is passed into the heavens, where he appears for us, owns us, and will own us.

(t) Alleg. 1. 2. p. 76. De Profugis, p. 466. & de Somniis, p. 597.

{5} Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us {k} hold fast our profession.

(5) Now he compares Christ's priesthood with Aaron's, and declares even in the very beginning the marvellous excellency of this priesthood, calling him the Son of God, and placing him in the seat of God in heaven, plainly and openly contrasting him with Aaron's priests, and the transitory tabernacle. He expands on these comparisons in later passages.

(k) And let it not go out of our hands.

to Hebrews 10:18Hebrews 4:14 to Hebrews 10:18. The author has, in that which precedes, compared Christ with the angels and then with Moses, and proved the superiority of Christ over both. He applies himself now to a third point of the comparison, in that he institutes a comparison between Christ and the Levitical high priests, and developes on every side the exalted character of His high-priesthood above the Levitical high-priesthood, with regard to His person, with regard to the sanctuary in which He fulfils His office, and with regard to the sacrifice presented. The copiousness of this new dogmatic investigation—which is subservient to the same paraenetic aim as the preceding expositions, and therefore opens with an exhortation of the same nature with the former ones, and is presently interrupted by a somewhat lengthy warning-paraenetic interlude—is to be explained by the greater importance it had for the readers, who, in narrow-minded over-estimate of the temple cultus inherited from the fathers, regarded the continued participation in this cultus as necessary for the complete expiation of sin and the acquiring of everlasting salvation, and, because they thought nothing similar was to be found in Christianity, were exposed to an imminent peril of turning away from the latter and relapsing entirely into Judaism. Compare the explanation already given by Chrysostom, Hom. 8. init.: Ἐπειδὴ γὰρ οὐδὲν ἦν (sc. in the New Covenant) σωματικὸν ἦ φανταστικόν, οἶον οὐ ναός, οὐχ ἅγια ἁγίων, οὐχ ἱερεὺς τοσαύτην ἔχων κατασκευήν, οὐ παρατηρήσεις νομικαί, ἀλλʼ ὑψηλότερα καὶ τελειότερα πάντα, καὶ οὐδὲν τῶν σωματικῶν, τὸ δὲ πᾶν ἐν τοῖς πνευματικοῖς ἦν, οὐχ οὕτω δὲ τὰ πνευματικὰ τοὺς ἀσθενεστέρους ἐπήγεταο ὡς τὰ σωματικά, τούτου χάριν τοῦτον ὅλον κινεῖ τὸν λόγον.

The transition to this new section is formed by Hebrews 4:14-16.

Hebrews 4:14. The introductory phrase: ἔχοντες οὖν ἀρχιερέα, presupposes that the author has already had occasion to speak of Jesus as ἀρχιερεύς. We are therefore led back for οὖν to Hebrews 2:17, Hebrews 3:1. But, since there is further added to ἀρχιερέα the qualification μέγαν and διεληλυθότα τοὺς οὐρανούς, and thus also these characteristics must be presupposed as known from that which precedes, we have consequently not to limit οὖν, in its backward reference, to Hebrews 2:17, Hebrews 3:1, but to extend it to the whole disquisition, Hebrews 1:1 to Hebrews 3:6, in such wise that (logically, indeed, in a not very exact manner) μέγαν, διεληλυθότα τοὺς οὐρανούς glances back in general to the dignity and exaltedness of the person of Jesus, as described in these sections.

Erroneously does Delitzsch suppose that by means of οὖν the exhortation κρατῶμεν τῆς ὁμολογίας is derived as a deduction from Hebrews 4:12-13. Such opinion would be warranted only if, with the omission of the participial clause, merely κρατῶμεν οὖν τῆς ὁμολογίας had been written. For since κρατῶμεν τῆς ὁμολογίας has received its own justification in the prefixed ἔχοντες κ.τ.λ., apart from that which immediately precedes, it is clear that, in connection with Hebrews 4:14, there is no further respect had to the contents of Hebrews 4:12-13. It is not therefore to be approved that Delitzsch, in order to make room for the unfortunate reference to Hebrews 4:12-13, will have οὖν logically attached to the verb κρατῶμεν, instead of the participle, with which it is grammatically connected, and to which, as the most simple and natural, the like passage, Hebrews 10:19 ff., also points. What laboured confusion of the relations would Delitzsch require the reader to assume, when he is called to regard ἔχοντες κ.τ.λ., as being at the same time a recapitulation of that which has been said before, and continuation of the argument; and yet, spite of all this, to look upon κρατῶμεν τῆς ὁμολογίας as a deduction from Hebrews 4:12-13! In any case, the connection asserted by Delitzsch to exist between Hebrews 4:14 and Hebrews 4:12-13 : “the word of God demands obedience and appropriation, i.e. faith, not, however, as merely a faith locked up within the breast, but also a loud Yea and Amen, unreserved and fearless confession, ὁμολογία from mouth and heart, as the echo thereof,” is in itself a baseless imagination; because the before-demanded πίστις and the here demanded ὁμολογία are by no means distinguished from each other as a minus and a majus, but, on the contrary, in the mind of the author of the epistle are synonyms. It results that οὖν stands in a somewhat free relation to the foregoing argument, consequently must not at all be taken as, strictly speaking, an illative particle, with which that which precedes is first brought to a close, but as a particle of resuming, which, in the form of a return to that which has already been said before, begins a new section.

μέγαν] does not in such wise appertain to ἀρχιερέα that only in combination with the same it should form the idea of the high priest (Jac. Cappellus, Braun, Rambach, Wolf, Carpzov, Michaelis, Stuart), but is indicative of the quality of the high priest, and means exalted, just as μέγας, Hebrews 10:21, in combination with ἱερεύς. Comp. also Hebrews 13:20.

As the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews represents Christ the Son of God, so also does Philo (De Somn. p. 598 A, with Mangey, I. p. 654) represent the divine Logos as ὁ μέγας ἀρχιερεύς. Comp. ibid. p. 597 (I. p. 653): Δύο γάρ, ὡς ἔσικεν, ἱερὰ θεοῦ, ἓν μὲν ὅδε ὁ κόσμος, ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἀρχιερεὺς ὁ πρωτόγονος αὐτοῦ θεῖος λόγος, ἕτερον δὲ λογικὴ ψυχή, ἧς ἱερὺς ὁ πρὸς ἀλήθειαν ἄνθρωπος.

διεληλυθότα τοὺς οὐρανούς] elucidatory demonstration of μέγαν. Wrongly is it translated by Luther (as also by the Peshito): who has ascended up to heaven; by Calvin, Peirce, Ernesti, al.: qui coelos ingressus est. It can only signify [Piscator, Owen, Bengel, Tholuck, Stuart, al.]: who has passed through the heavens, sc. in order, exalted above the heavens (cf. Hebrews 7:26; Ephesians 4:10), to take His seat upon the throne of the Divine Majesty (i. 3, 13). Allusion to the high priest of the Old Covenant, who, in order to make atonement for the people, passed through the courts of the Temple, and through the Temple itself, into the Most Holy Place. Comp. Hebrews 9:11.

Ἰησοῦν τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ] emphatic apposition to ἀρχιερέα μέγαν κ.τ.λ., in which the characterization of Jesus as the υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ (Hebrews 1:1; Hebrews 1:5, Hebrews 6:6, Hebrews 7:3, Hebrews 10:29) serves anew to call attention to the dignity of the New Testament High Priest. Quite mistaken are Wolf and Böhme in their conjecture that the object in the addition of τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ is the distinction of Jesus from the Joshua mentioned Hebrews 4:8. For the mention of Joshua, Hebrews 4:8, was, as regards the connection, only an incidental one, on which account there also not even a more precise definition was given to the name.

κρατῶμεν τῆς ὁμολογίας] let us hold fast (Hebrews 6:18; Colossians 2:19; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; wrongly Tittmann: lay hold of, embrace) the confession. ὁμολογία is not, with Storr, to be referred specially to the confession of Christ as the High Priest, but to be taken in general of the Christian confession. The expression is here too used objectively, as Hebrews 3:1, of the sum or subject-matter of the Christian’s belief.

Hebrews 4:14. Ἒχοντες οὖν … “Having then a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.” οὖν resumes the train of thought started at Hebrews 3:1, where the readers were enjoined to consider the High Priest of their confession. But cf. Weiss and Kübel. μέγαν is now added, as in Hebrews 10:21, Hebrews 13:20, that they may the rather hold fast the confession they were in danger of letting go. The μέγαν is explained and justified by two features of this Priest: (1) He has passed through the heavens and entered thus the very presence of God. For διεληλ. τ. οὐρανούς cannot mean, as Calvin renders “qui coelos ingressus est”. As the Aaronic High Priest passed through the veil, or, as Grotius and Carpzov suggest, through the various fore courts, into the Holiest place, so this great High Priest had passed through the heavens and appeared among eternal realities. So that the very absence of the High Priest which depressed them, was itself fitted to strengthen faith. He was absent, because dealing with the living God in their behalf. (2) The second mark of His greatness is indicated in His designation Ἰησοῦν τὸν υἱὸν τ. Θεοῦ, the human name suggesting perfect understanding and sympathy, the Divine Sonship acceptance with the Father and pre-eminent dignity. κρατῶμεν τ. ὁμολογίας. “Our confession” primarily of this great High Priest, but by implication, our Christian confession, cf. Hebrews 3:1.

14–16. Exhortation founded on Christ’s High Priesthood

14. Seeing then that we have a great high priest] These verses refer back to Hebrews 2:17, Hebrews 3:1, and form the transition to the long proof and illustration of Christ’s superiority to the Levitic Priesthood which occupies the Epistle to Hebrews 10:18. The writer here reverts to his central thought, to which he has already twice alluded (Hebrews 2:17, Hebrews 3:1). He had proved that Christ is superior to Angels the ministers, and to Moses the servant of the old Dispensation, and (quite incidentally) to Joshua. He has now to prove that He is like Aaron in all that made Aaron’s priesthood precious, but infinitely superior to him and his successors, and a pledge to us of the grace by which the true rest can be obtained. Christ is not only a High Priest, but “a great High Priest,” an expression also found in Philo (Opp. i. 654).

that is passed into the heavens] Rather, “who hath passed through the heavens”—the heavens being here the lower heavens, regarded as a curtain which separates us from the presence of God. Christ has passed not only into but above the heavens (Hebrews 7:26). Transiit, non modo intravit, caelos.—Bengel.

Jesus the Son of God] The title combines His earthly and human name with his divine dignity, and thus describes the two natures which make His Priesthood eternally necessary.

our profession] Rather, “our confession,” as in Hebrews 3:1.

Hebrews 4:14. Ἔχοντες, having) The exhortation begins in the same way, ch. Hebrews 10:19, Hebrews 12:1.—οὖν, therefore) He resumes the proposition which he had laid down, ch. Hebrews 2:17.—μέγαν, great) for He is the Song of Solomon of GOD, higher than the heavens. He is called absolutely in Hebrew phraseology, a High Priest, ch. Hebrews 10:21 : but here the Great High Priest, greater than the Levitical high priest.—διεληλυθότα) who has passed into, not merely has entered the heavens: ch. Hebrews 7:26.—κρατῶμεν, let us hold fast) From. ch. Hebrews 3:1 to ch. Hebrews 5:3, there are four points explained by Chiasmus, inasmuch as they contain the doctrine and practical application, the practical application and the doctrine. Look back again, I request, at the summary view (Synopsis) of the epistle.

Verse 14. - To the interposed minatory warning of the three preceding verses now succeeds encouragement, based on the view, which has been now a second time led up to, of Christ being our great High Priest, who can both sympathize and succor. The passage answers closely in thought to the conclusion of Hebrews 2, and might naturally have followed there; but that, before taking up the subject of Christ's priesthood, the writer had another line of thought to pursue, leading up (as has been explained) to the same conclusion. The οϋν at the beginning of ver. 14 either connects κρατῶμεν ("let us hold fast") with the verses immediately preceding in the sense, "The Word of God being so searching and resistless, let us therefore hold fast," etc., - in which ease the participial clause ἔχοντες, etc., is a confirmation of this exhortation (so Delitzsch); or is connected logically with the participial clause as a resumption of the whole preceding argument. Certainly the idea of the participial clause is the prominent one in the writer's mind, what follows being an expansion of it. And the position of οϋν suggests this connection. It is to be observed that, after the manner of the Epistle, this concluding exhortation serves also as a transition to the subject of the following chapters, and anticipates in some degree what is to be set forth, though all the expressions used have some ground in what has gone before. Having then a great High Priest who hath passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. The rendering of διεληλυθότα τοὺς οὐρανοὺς in the A.V. ("is passed into the heavens") is evidently wrong. The idea is that Christ has passed through the intermediate heavens to the immediate presence of God - to the sphere of the eternal σαββατισμὸς. In his use of the plural, τοὺς οὐρανοὺς, the writer may have had in his mind the Jewish view of an ascending series of created heavens. Clemens Alexandrinus, e.g. speaks of seven: Απτὰ οὐρανοὺς οὕς τινὲς ἀρίθμουσι κατ ἐπανάβασιν. Cf. also "the heaven and the heaven of heavens" (Deuteronomy 10:14; 2 Chronicles 6:18; Nehemiah 9:6), and "who hast set thy glory above the heavens" (Psalm 8:1), also "the third heaven," into which St. Paul was rapt (2 Corinthians 12:2). Cf. also Ephesians 4:10, Ὁ ἀναβὰς ὑπεράνω πάντων τῶν οὐρανῶν ἵνα πληρώσῃ τὰ πάντα. The conception of the phrase is that, whatever spheres of created heavens intervene between our earth and the eternal uncreated, beyond them to it Christ has gone, - into "heaven itself (αὐτὸν τὸν οὐρανὸν);" "before the face of God" (Hebrews 9:24). From this expression, together with Ephesians 4:10 (above quoted), is rightly deduced the doctrine of Christ s ubiquity even in his human nature. For, carrying that nature with him and still retaining it, he is spoken of as having passed to the region which admits no idea of limitation, and so as to "fill all things." The obvious bearing of this doctrine on that of the presence in the Eucharist may be noted in passing. (It is to be observed that "the heavens" in the plural is used (Hebrews 8:1) of the seat of the Divine majesty itself to which Christ has gone. It is the word διεληλυθότα that determines the meaning here.) The designation, "Jesus the Son of God," draws attention first to the man Jesus who was known by that name in the flesh, and secondly to the "more excellent name," above expatiated on, in virtue of which he "hath passed through the heavens." The conclusion follows that it is the human Jesus, with his humanity, who, being also the Son of God, has so "passed through." There may possibly (as some think) be an intention of contrasting him with Joshua (Ιησοῦς, ver. 8), who won the entrance into the typical rest. But it is not necessary to suppose this; vers. 8 and 14 are at too great a distance from each other to suggest a connection of thought between them; and besides Ἰησοῦν occurred similarly at the end of Hebrews 3:1, before any mention of Joshua. The epithet μέγαν after ἀρχιερέα distinguishes Christ from all other high priests (cf. Hebrews 13:20, Τὸν ποιμένα τῶν προβάτων τὸν μέγαν). The high priest of the Law passed through the veil to the earthly symbol of the eternal glory; the "great High Priest" has passed through the heavens to the eternal glory itself. As to ὁμολογίας, cf. on Hebrews 3:1. In consideration of having such a High Priest, who, as is expressed in what follows, can both sympathize and succor, the readers are exhorted to "hold fast," not only their inward faith, but their "confession" of it before men. A besetting danger of the Hebrew Christians was that of shrinking from a full and open confession under the influence of gainsaying or persecution. Hebrews 4:14Hebrews 2:17, Hebrews 2:18 is now resumed. This and the following verse more naturally form the conclusion of the preceding section than the introduction to the following one.

Great high priest (μέγαν)

Emphasizing Christ's priestly character to Jewish readers, as superior to that of the Levitical priests. He is holding up the ideal priesthood.

Passed into the heavens (διεληλυθότα τοὺς οὐρανούς)

Rend. "passed through the heavens." Through, and up to the throne of God of which he wields the power, and is thus able to fulfill for his followers the divine promise of rest.

Jesus the Son of God

The name Jesus applied to the high priest is forcible as recalling the historical, human person, who was tempted like his brethren. We are thus prepared for what is said in Hebrews 4:15 concerning his sympathizing character.

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