Hebrews 4:15
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) We cannot but note again how the power of the exhortation (especially to those immediately addressed) lay in the combination of the two thoughts—the greatness and the tender compassion of the High Priest of our confession. The two are united in the words of Hebrews 4:16, “the throne of grace.” (Comp. Hebrews 8:1.) The beautiful rendering, “touched with the feeling of our infirmities,” is due to the Genevan Testament of 1557.

But was in all points . . .—Better, but One that hath in all points been tempted in like manner, apart from sin. These words show the nature and the limits of this sympathy of Christ. He suffers with His people, not merely showing compassion to those who are suffering and tempted, but taking to Himself a joint feeling of their weaknesses. He can do this because He has passed through trial, has Himself been tempted. In speaking of “weaknesses” the writer uses a word applicable both to the people and to their Lord, who was “crucified through weakness” (2Corinthians 13:4). Its meaning must not be limited to the region of pain and bodily suffering: whatever belongs to the necessary limitations of that human nature which He assumed is included. As He learned His obedience from sufferings (Hebrews 5:8), He gained His knowledge of the help we need in that “Himself took our weaknesses” (Matthew 8:17), and was Himself tempted in like manner, save that in Him sin had no place (Hebrews 7:26). These last words supply the limit to the thought of weakness and temptation as applied to our High Priest. Not only was the temptation fruitless in leading to sin (this is implied here, but only as a part or a result of another truth), but in the widest sense He could say, “The prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in Me” (John 14:30). “Was tempted in all points in like manner,” are words which must not be over-pressed; but the essential principles of temptation may be traced in those with which Jesus was assailed. (Comp. John 21:25.)

Hebrews 4:15. For we have not a high-priest, &c. — As if he had said, Though he be so great, yet he is not without concern for us in our mean and low condition. Here the apostle lets the Hebrews know that in the gospel there is no loss of privilege in any thing. Had they a high-priest who, with his office, was the life and glory of their profession and worship? We also, says he, have a High-Priest, who is, in like manner, the life and glory of our profession and service; and not one who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities — Or, who cannot, συμπαθησαι ταις ασθενειαις ημων, sympathize with our weaknesses, our temptations, trials, and troubles, of whatever kind they may be, ghostly or bodily. The Son of God, having been made flesh, experienced all the temptations and miseries incident to mankind, sin excepted; consequently he must always have a lively feeling of our infirmities; of our wants, weaknesses, miseries, dangers; but was in all points tempted — That is, tried; like as we are — Καθομοιοτητα, according to a similitude of our trials, or with such as belong to human nature. What is here said of the similarity of our Lord’s trials to ours, does not imply an exact likeness; for he was free from that corruption of nature which, as the consequence of Adam’s sin, has infected all mankind; which is intimated likewise in the expression, (Romans 8:3,) sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh; yet without sin — For he never committed any; and is able to preserve us in all our temptations from the commission of it.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.For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched - Our High Priest is not cold and unfeeling. That is, we have one who is abundantly qualified to sympathize with us in our afflictions, and to whom, therefore, we may look for aid and support in trials. Had we a high priest who was cold and heartless; who simply performed the external duties of his office without entering into the sympathies of those who came to seek for pardon; who had never experienced any trials, and who felt himself above those who sought his aid, we should necessarily feel disheartened in attempting to overcome our sins, and to live to God. His coldness would repel us; his stateliness would awe us; his distance and reserve would keep us away, and perhaps render us indifferent to all desire to be saved. But tenderness and sympathy attract those who are feeble, and kindness does more than anything else to encourage those who have to encounter difficulties and dangers; see the notes at Hebrews 2:16-18. Such tenderness and sympathy has our Great High Priest.

But was in all points tempted like as we are - "Tried" as we are; see the notes at Hebrews 2:18. He was subjected to all the kinds of trial to which we can be, and he is, therefore, able to sympathize with us and to aid us. He was tempted - in the literal sense; he was persecuted; he was poor; he was despised; he suffered physical pain; he endured the sorrows of a lingering and most cruel death.

Yet without sin - 1 Peter 2:22. "Who did no sin;" Isaiah 53:9, "He had done no violence, neither was there any deceit in his mouth;" Hebrews 7:26, "Who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." The importance of this fact - that the Great High Priest of the Christian profession was "without sin," the apostle illustrates at length in Hebrews 7-9. He here merely alludes to it, and says that one who was "without sin" was able to assist those who were sinners, and who put their trust in him.

15. For—the motive to "holding our profession" (Heb 4:14), namely the sympathy and help we may expect from our High Priest. Though "great" (Heb 4:14), He is not above caring for us; nay, as being in all points one with us as to manhood, sin only excepted, He sympathizes with us in every temptation. Though exalted to the highest heavens, He has changed His place, not His nature and office in relation to us, His condition, but not His affection. Compare Mt 26:38, "watch with me": showing His desire in the days of His flesh for the sympathy of those whom He loved: so He now gives His suffering people His sympathy. Compare Aaron, the type, bearing the names of the twelve tribes in the breastplate of judgment on his heart, when he entered into the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually (Ex 28:29).

cannot be touched with the feeling of—Greek, "cannot sympathize with our infirmities": our weaknesses, physical and moral (not sin, but liability to its assaults). He, though sinless, can sympathize with us sinners; His understanding more acutely perceived the forms of temptation than we who are weak can; His will repelled them as instantaneously as the fire does the drop of water cast into it. He, therefore, experimentally knew what power was needed to overcome temptations. He is capable of sympathizing, for He was at the same time tempted without sin, and yet truly tempted [Bengel]. In Him alone we have an example suited to men of every character and under all circumstances. In sympathy He adapts himself to each, as if He had not merely taken on Him man's nature in general, but also the peculiar nature of that single individual.

but—"nay, rather, He was (one) tempted" [Alford].

like as we are—Greek, "according to (our) similitude."

without sin—Greek, "choris," "separate from sin" (Heb 7:26). If the Greek "aneu" had been used, sin would have been regarded as the object absent from Christ the subject; but choris here implies that Christ, the subject, is regarded as separated from sin the object [Tittmann]. Thus, throughout His temptations in their origin, process, and result, sin had nothing in Him; He was apart and separate from it [Alford].

For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities: this duty of perseverance in the Christian religion, is enforced by the consideration of the sympathy of this High Priest, with the states of all who will enter into God’s rest by him. He is worthy that we should hold it fast, being without impotency. It is impossible he should be pitiless to penitent sinners, though he be glorious, there being nothing in himself, or out of himself, indisposing him to it. eumpayhsai imports such a sympathy or fellow feeling, as makes him like affected as if he were in the same case with them. He cannot but be compassionate, since inwardly affected and moved with the sufferings of his, Acts 9:5; compare Isaiah 58:9. As God, he is infinitely merciful; as man, inwardly feeling them, even all the miseries they were liable to, but sinful ones. He wants no bowels, but he hath, as a fellow feeling, so a fellow grieving, and fellow caring for the redress of them, even all such as are fit for his pity; and works on affections, a sense of guilt, fears, doubts, tremblings, weak-workings to God, the concomitant infirmities of sinful souls; all the weaknesses of grace in us, all troubles, distresses, anguishes in the flesh, the fruits of sin. He knows these sensibly as man, which as God singly he could not. These sinful weaknesses of soul inclining to sin, and disabling from resisting temptations, by which the subtle, powerful enemy of our soul prevaileth over us to the accumulating of sin and guilt daily and so need this sympathy of his to us-ward: see Hebrews 5:2 1 Corinthians 2:3 2 Corinthians 11:23-31 12:5,9,10.

But was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin; but pepeirasmenon, was pierced and tried by all sorts of sufferings, being outwardly tempted by the devil to sin; inwardly he could not, being perfectly holy, John 14:30; but was outwardly with violence assaulted by him, Matthew 4:1-11: and tried by men beyond any man, and tempted to the same sins whereby Adam fell, and others miscarry every day. He felt the curse of sin, the wrath of God, agonies in his soul, violent pains in his body, sorrows to the death from the cradle to the cross: and in every matter of grief and suffering in soul, in body, from the world, from Satan, from God, in all kinds of temptations spiritual and temporal; experiencing the evils of this life, hunger, thirst, weariness, grief, Isaiah 53:3-10, even such as we are liable to, all of them really and truly like ours, and more powerfully than ours; they were for similitude like, but for degree exceeding them; ours, for exquisiteness of sense, but a shadow of his. Yet under all these temptations he was sinless, as the Holy One of God; never did temptation prevail over him, he overcame all. Nothing was out of place or order by his sufferings in him: all his affections and passions under these, regular, showing his innocency under variety of sufferings, and eminency of compassions. Sin hardens bowels, but he is compassionate without any mixture with or hinderance by corruption; and his intercession is the more effectual with God for us. What Christian under his conduct would not follow his great example, so to resist and conquer by him? For we have not an high priest,.... That is cruel and unmerciful; the saints have an high priest, but not such an one:

which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; such as bodily diseases and wants, persecutions from men, and the temptations of Satan; under all which Christ sympathizes with his people; and which sympathy of his arises from his knowledge and experience of these things, and the share he has had of them, and from that union there is between him and his people: and it is not a bare sympathy, but is attended with his assistance, support, and deliverance; and the consideration of it is of great comfort to the saints:

but was in all points tempted like as we are: of the temptations of Christ, and of the saints; see Gill on Hebrews 2:18.

yet without sin; there was no sin in his nature; though he was encompassed about with infirmities, yet not with sinful infirmities, only sinless ones; nor was there any sin in his temptations; though he was solicited to sin by Satan, yet he could find none in him to work upon; nor could he draw him into the commission of any sin.

{6} For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

(6) Lest he appear by the great glory of our High Priest, to prevent us from going to him, he adds after, that he is nonetheless our brother indeed, (as he proved before) and that he counts all our miseries as his own, to call us boldly to him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Hebrews 4:15. Further justification of the demand, Hebrews 4:14, of stedfast adherence to the Christian confession.[70] For the High Priest of Christians is not merely a highly exalted One (Hebrews 4:14), He is also qualified, since as Brother He stands very closely related to believers, and has been tempted as they are, to have sympathy for their weaknesses. Comp. Hebrews 2:17-18. Calvin: In nomine Filii Dei, quod posuit, subest ea majestas, quae nos ad timorem et obsequium adigat. Verum si nihil in Christo aliud consideremus, nondum pacatae erunt conscientiae. Quis enim non reformidet Filii Dei conspectum, praesertim quum reputamus, qualis sit nostra conditio, nobisque in mentem veniunt peccata nostra? Deinde Judaeis aliud obstare poterat, quia Levitico sacerdotio assueverant: illic cernebant hominem mortalem unum ex aliis electum, qui sanctuarium ingrediebatur, ut sua deprecatione reconciliaret fratres suos Deo. Hoc magnum est, quum mediator, qui placare erga nos Deum potest, unus est ex nobis. Haec illecebra poterat Judaeos illaqueare, ut sacerdotio Levitico semper essent addicti, nisi occurreret apostolus, ac ostenderet Filium Dei non modo excellere gloria, sed aequa bonitate et indulgentia erga nos esse praeditum. Whereas ΔΥΝΆΜΕΝΟΝ ΣΥΜΠΑΘῆΣΑΙ and ΠΕΠΕΙΡΑΣΜΈΝΟΝ ΚΑΤᾺ ΠΆΝΤΑ ΚΑΘʼ ὉΜΟΙΌΤΗΤΑ bring out the homogeneity of the New Testament High Priest with that of the Old Testament (comp. Hebrews 5:2), the dissimilarity at the same time existing between the two is rendered apparent by ΧΩΡῚς ἉΜΑΡΤΊΑς.

ΣΥΜΠΑΘΕῖΝ] to have sympathy, compassionate feeling. Comp. Hebrews 10:34. Preliminary condition to bestowing succour and redemption.

αἱ ἀσθένειαι ἡμῶν] the conditions of human weakness, as well moral as physical, which have been called forth by the entrance of sin into the world.

ΠΕΠΕΙΡΑΣΜΈΝΟΝ ΔΈ] contains in the form of a correction of ΜῊ ΔΥΝΆΜΕΝΟΝ the proof of the capacity for having sympathy.

ΚΑΤᾺ ΠΆΝΤΑ] Comp. Hebrews 2:17.

ΚΑΘʼ ὉΜΟΙΌΤΗΤΑ] sc. ἡμῶν (comp. Hebrews 7:15 : ΚΑΤᾺ ΤῊΝ ὉΜΟΙΌΤΗΤΑ ΜΕΛΧΙΣΕΔΈΚ), or ἩΜῖΝ (comp. Polyb. xiii. 7. 2 : ἮΝ ΓᾺΡ ΕἼΔΩΛΟΝ ΓΥΝΑΙΚΕῖΟΝ, ΠΟΛΥΤΕΛΈΣΙΝ ἹΜΑΤΊΟΙς ἨΜΦΙΕΣΜΈΝΟΝ, ΚΑΤᾺ ΔῈ ΤῊΝ ΜΟΡΦῊΝ ΕἸς ὉΜΟΙΌΤΗΤΑ Τῇ ΤΟῦ ΝΆΒΙΔΟς ΓΥΝΑΙΚῚ ΔΙΑΦΌΡΩς ἈΠΕΙΡΓΑΣΜΈΝΟΝ), or even ΠΡῸς ἩΜᾶς (comp. Philo, de Profugis, p. 458 A, with Mangey, I. p. 553: κατὰ τὴν πρὸς τἄλλα ὁμοιότητα): in like (similar) manner as we.

χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας] without sin, i.e. without sin arising out of the temptations, or more clearly: without His being led into sinning, as a result of His being tempted. Comp. Hebrews 7:26; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 3:5; 1 Peter 2:22. When Hofmann (Schrifthew. II. 1, 2 Aufl. p. 37) and Delitzsch will discover in these words the additional indication that in the case of Jesus temptation also found no sin present, this is indeed true as to the fact, but open to the misconception of being supposed to imply that even the possibility of sinning on the part of Jesus is denied, whereas surely this possibility in itself must be conceived of as an essential factor in the idea of being tempted; and opposed to the context, because χωρὶς ἉΜΑΡΤΊΑς is the continued note of modality of ΠΕΠΕΙΡΑΣΜΈΝΟΝ, and thus cannot possibly specify something that was already present, even before the ΠΕΙΡΆΖΕΣΘΑΙ came in. More in accordance with the context, therefore, does Alford express himself: “Throughout these temptations, in their origin, in their process, in their result,—sin had nothing in Him: He was free and separate from it.” Wrongly Jac. Cappellus, Calmet, Semler, Storr, Ernesti, Heinrichs, Kuinoel, and others: tempted in all things, sin excepted. For in that case χωρὶς τῆς ἁμαρτίας (with the article) would be written, and this be connected immediately with ΚΑΤᾺ ΠΆΝΤΑ. Mistaken, however, is also the explanation of Oecumenius, Schlichting, Dindorf: without having committed sin, as a guiltless one; an interpretation which would be admissible only if πειράζεσθαι could be referred specially to the enduring of outward sufferings, which might be seen to be a consequence of sin.

Comp., for the rest, on ΧΩΡῚς ἉΜΑΡΤΊΑς likewise the kindred statements concerning the divine Logos in Philo, de Profugis, p. 466 B (with Mangey, I. p. 562): Λέγομεν γάρ, τὸν ἀρχιερέα οὐκ ἄνθρωπον ἀλλὰ λόγον θεῖον εἶναι, πάντων οὐχ ἑκουσίων μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀκουσίων ἀδικημάτων ἀμέτοχον.

Ibid. p. 467 C (I. p. 563): ἀμέτοχος γὰρ καὶ ἀπαράδεκτος παντὸς εἶναι πέφυκεν ἁμαρτήματος.

[70] Incorrectly does Ebrard take ver. 15 as elucidation of ἔχοντες ἀρχιερέα.Hebrews 4:15. Confirmation both of the encouragement of Hebrews 4:14 and of the fact on which that encouragement is founded is given in the further idea: οὐ γὰρ ἔχομεν … “for we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but has been tempted in all points like us, without sin”. He repels an idea which might have found entrance into their minds, that an absent, heavenly priest might not be able to sympathise. Συνπαθέω [to be distinguished from συνπάσχω which occurs in Romans 8:17 and 1 Corinthians 12:26, and means to suffer along with one, to suffer the same ills as another] means to feel for, or sympathise with, and occurs also in Hebrews 10:34, and is peculiar in N.T. to this writer but found in Aristotle, Isocrates and Plutarch, and in the touching expression of Acts of Paul and Thekla, 17, ὃς μόνος συνεπάθησεν πλανωμένῳ κόσμῳ. Jesus is able to sympathise with ταῖς ἀσθενείαις ἡμῶν “our infirmities,” the weaknesses which undermine our resistance to temptation and make it difficult to hold fast our confession: moral weaknesses, therefore, though often implicated with physical weaknesses. Jesus can feel for these because πεπειρασμένον κατὰ πάντα καθʼ ὁμοιότητα, He has been tempted in all respects as we are. κατὰ πάντα, classical, “in all respects,” cf. Wetstein on Acts 17:22; and Evagrius, Hebrews 5:4, of Christ incarnate, ὁμοιοπαθῆ κατὰ πάντα χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας, cf. Hebrews 2:17. καθʼ ὁμοιότητα may either mean “according to the likeness of our temptations,” or, “in accordance with His likeness to us”. The latter is preferable, being most in agreement with Hebrews 2:17. So Theophylact, καθʼ ὁμοιότητα τὴν ἡμετὲραν, τουτέστι παραπλησίως ἡμῖν, cf. Genesis 1:11-12; and Philo, De Profug., c. 9, κατὰ τὴν πρὸς τἄλλα ὁμοιότητα. The writer wishes to preclude the common fancy that there was some peculiarity in Jesus which made His temptation wholly different from ours, that He was a mailed champion exposed to toy arrows. On the contrary, He has felt in His own consciousness the difficulty of being righteous in this world; has felt pressing upon Himself the reasons and inducements that incline men to choose sin that they may escape suffering and death; in every part of His human constitution has known the pain and conflict with which alone temptation can be overcome; has been so tempted that had He sinned, He would have had a thousandfold better excuse than ever man had. Even though His divinity may have ensured His triumph, His temptation was true and could only be overcome by means that are open to all. The one difference between our temptations and those of Jesus is that His were χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας. Riehm thinks this expression is not exhausted by declaring the fact that in Christ’s case temptation never resulted in sin. It means, he thinks, further, and rather, that temptation never in Christ’s case sprang from any sinful desire in Himself. So also Delitzsch, Weiss, Westcott, etc. But if Theophylact is right in his indication of the motive of the writer in introducing the words, then it is Christ’s successful resistance of temptation which is in the foreground; ὥστε δύνασθε καὶ ὑμεῖς ἐν ταῖς θλίψεσιν χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας διαγενέσθαι.15. For] He gives the reason for holding fast our confession; [we may do so with confidence], for Christ can sympathise with us in our weaknesses, since He has suffered with us (συμπάσχειν). Romans 8:17; 1 Corinthians 12:26.

with the feeling of our infirmities] Even the heathen could feel the force and beauty of this appeal, for they intensely admired the famous line of Terence,

“I am a man; I feel an interest in everything which is human;” at the utterance of which, when the play was first acted, it is said that the whole of the audience rose to their feet; and the exquisite words which Virgil puts into the mouth of Dido,

Haud ignara mali, miseris succerrere disco.”

tempted] “Tempted” (πεπειρασμένον) is the best-supported reading, not πεπειραμένον, “having made trial of,” “experienced in.” It refers alike to the trials of life, which are in themselves indirect temptations—sometimes to sin, always to murmuring and discontent; and to the direct temptations to sin which are life’s severest trials. From both of these our Lord suffered (John 11:33-35; “ye are they who have continued with me in my temptationsLuke 22:28; Luke 4:2, &c).

like as we are] Lit. “after the likeness;” a stronger way of expressing the resemblance of Christ’s “temptations” to ours than if an adverb had been used.

yet without sin] Lit. “apart from sin.” Philo had already spoken of the Logos as sinless (De Profug. 20; Opp. i. 562). His words are “the High Priest is not Man but the Divine Word, free from all share, not only in willing but even in involuntary wrongdoing.” Christ’s sinlessness is one of the irrefragable proofs of His divinity. It was both asserted by Himself (John 14:30) and by the Apostles (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5, &c). Being tempted, Christ could sympathize with us; being sinless, he could plead for us.Hebrews 4:15. Οὐ, not) The apostle institutes, by Chiasmus, a comparison between the Levitical high priest and Christ, 1) So far as qualities are concerned: 2) So far as calling is concerned. In the first there are an Apodosis and a Protasis; in the second, a Protasis and an Apodosis: ch. Hebrews 4:15-16, Hebrews 5:1-2; Hebrews 5:4-5.—συμπαθῆσαι, to be touched with a fellow-feeling) He is touched with a fellow-feeling, as having suffered the same things, Isaiah 1:6; Isaiah 1:4 : mercy is a cognate noun, Hebrews 4:16. The reference is to ch. Hebrews 2:17.—ταῖς ἀσθενείαις, with our infirmities) A suitable expression: ch. Hebrews 5:2. The idea of sin, in respect of us, is included; in respect of Christ, is excluded. The words, without sin, presently after follow.—καθʼ ὁμοιότητα, in the likeness) Inasmuch as He was made like us; ch. Hebrews 2:17.—χωρ ʼς ἁμαρτίας, without sin) So ch. Hebrews 9:28 : but how can one, tempted without sin, be capable of sympathising with those who are tempted with sin? With respect to the understanding, the mind of the Saviour much more acutely perceived the forms of temptation than we who are weak; with respect to the will, He as quickly repressed their assault as the fire represses a drop of water cast into it. He therefore experienced what power was necessary to overcome temptations. He is capable of sympathising, for He was both tempted without sin, and yet He was truly tempted.Verse 15. - For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all things tempted like as we are, without sin. The power of sympathy (συμπαθήσαι) of our great High Priest is not adduced to distinguish him from other high priests, but to express, in this respect, his resemblance to them; community of nature and feeling with those for whom he mediates being essential to the conception of a high priest (see ver. 2). The sequence of thought is, "Let us hold fast our confession, not moved from it by the thought of the superhuman greatness of this High Priest of ours, who hath passed through the heavens; for he can still sympathize with our infirmities (ἀσθενείαις), having undergone our trials." Ἀσθένεια in the New Testament denotes both bodily infirmity, such as disease (cf. Matthew 8:17; Luke 5:15; John 5:5; John 11:4; Acts 28:9; 1 Timothy 5:23), and also the general weakness of human nature as opposed to Divine power, δύναμις (cf. Romans 8:26; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 2 Corinthians 12:5, 9; 2 Corinthians 13:4). St. Paul seems to have had regard to ἀσθένεια in a comprehensive sense - including chronic malady (his "thorn in the flesh"), liability to calamities, "fear and trembling," temptation to sin - when he spoke (2 Corinthians 12:5, 9) of glorying in his infirmities that the power of Christ might rest upon him. With all human ἀσθενείαι, of whatever kind, Christ can sympathize in virtue of his own human experience: "Himself took our infirmities (ἀσθενείας) and bare our sicknesses" (Matthew 8:17); "himself ἐσταυρώθη ἐξ ἀσθενείΑς, though he now lives ἐκ δυνάμεως Θεοῦ (2 Corinthians 13:4). The latter part of the verse corresponds in meaning with Hebrews 2:18, but with further delineation of the temptation undergone by Christ. The concluding χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας (best taken in connection with καθ ὁμοιότητα, which it immediately follows, rather than with κατὰ πάντα) is not a categorical assertion of Christ's sinlessness, though it implies it, but an exclusion of the idea of sin from-the likeness spoken cf. His temptation was after the likeness of ours, "apart from sin," or "sin except." For similar expressions, though not with definite reference to temptation, cf. Hebrews 9:28; Hebrews 7:26. But how is the exception of sin to be understood? Is it that, though, like us, tempted, he, unlike us, resisted temptation? Or is it that his sinless nature was incapable of being even solicited by sin? Now, the verb πειράζω means sometimes "to tempt to sin," as Satan or our own lusts tempt us (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:5; James 1:13, etc.); and also "to prove.... to try," "to test faithfulness," as in 1 Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 11:37, etc., in which sense, with reference especially to afflictive trials, the noun πειρασμὸς is commonly used (cf. Luke 8:13; Luke 22:18; Acts 20:19; Galatians 4:14; 1 Peter 4:12; James 1:12). That Christ was not only subjected to πειρασμὸς in this latter sense, but was also directly assailed by the tempter to sin (ὁ πειράζων), appears from the Gospel record. But here comes in a difficulty. There can, we conceive, be no real temptation where there is no liability to the sin suggested by temptation, still less where there is no possibility of sinning. But can we imagine any such liability, or even possibility, in the case of the Divine and Sinless One? If not, wherein did the temptation consist? How could it be at all like ours, or one through his own experience of which he can sympathize with us? It was for maintaining, on the strength of such considerations, the theoretic peccability of Christ, that Irving was expelled as heretical flora the Presbyterian communion. The question has undoubtedly its serious difficulties in common with the whole subjeer of the Divine and human in Christ. The following thoughts may, however, aid solution. That Christ, in his human nature, partook of all the original affections of humanity - hope, fear, desire, joy, grief, indignation, shrinking from suffering, and the like - is apparent, not only from his life, but also from the fact that his assumption of our humanity would have otherwise been incomplete. Such affections are not in themselves sinful; they only are so when, under temptation, any of them become inordinate, and serve as motives to transgression of duty. He, in virtue of his Divine personality, could not through them be seduced into sin; but it does not follow that he could not, in his human nature, feel their power to seduce, or rather the power of the tempter to seduce through them, and thus have personal experience of man's temptation. St. John says of one" born of God" that he "doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God" (1 John 3:9). He does not mean that the regenerate Christian is not exposed to and does not feel, the power of temptation; only that, so far forth as he lives in the new life from God, he is proof against it; he gives no internal assent to the seduction of the tempter; and so "that wicked one toucheth him net" (ver. 18). What is thus said of one "born of God" may be said much more, and without any qualification, of the Son of God, without denying that he too experienced the power of temptation, though altogether proof against it. Bengel says, "Quomodo autem, sine pectate tentatus, compati potest tentatis cum peceato? In intellectu multo acrius anima salvatoris percepit imagines tentantes quam nos infirmi: in voluntato tam celeriter incursum earum retudit quam ignis aquae guttulam sibi objectam. Expertus est igitur qua virtute sit opus ad tentationes vincendas. Compati potest nam et sine peccato, et tamen vere est tentatus." We have not an high priest who cannot, etc.

Whatever may be thought to the contrary; whatever contrary conclusion may be drawn from the character of the Levitical priests, or from Christ's exalted dignity and purity.

Touched with the feeling (συνπαθῆσαι)

Only here and Hebrews 10:34. This is more than knowledge of human infirmity. It is feeling it by reason of a common experience with (σύν) men.

Infirmities (ἀσθενείαις)

Not sufferings, but weaknesses, moral and physical, which predispose to sin and facilitate it.

Like as we are (καθ' ὁμοιότητα)

Lit. according to likeness. Ἡμῶν of us or our is to be understood, or, as some, ἡμῖν, according to his likeness to us.

Without sin (χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας)

This, of course, implies that he was not led into sin by temptation, and also that no temptation aroused in him sin already present and dormant. It is not meant that temptation arising from sin external to himself was not applied to him.

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