on Hebrews 4 :14
Seeing then that we have a great high priest - It is contended, and very properly, that the particle ουν, which we translate seeing, as if what followed was an immediate inference from what the apostle had been speaking, should be translated now; for the apostle, though he had before mentioned Christ as the High Priest of our profession, Hebrews 3:1, and as the High Priest who made reconciliation for the sins of the people, Hebrews 2:17, does not attempt to prove this in any of the preceding chapters, but now enters upon that point, and discusses it at great length to the end of chap. 10.
After all, it is possible that this may be a resumption of the discourse from Hebrews 3:6; the rest of that chapter, and the preceding thirteen verses of this, being considered as a parenthesis. These parts left out, the discourse runs on with perfect connection. It is very likely that the words, here, are spoken to meet an objection of those Jews who wished the Christians of Palestine to apostatize: "You have no tabernacle - no temple - no high priest - no sacrifice for sin. Without these there can be no religion; return therefore to us, who have the perfect temple service appointed - by God." To these he answers: We have a High Priest who is passed into the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God; therefore let us hold fast our profession. See on Hebrews 3:1 (note), to which this verse seems immediately to refer.
Three things the apostle professes to prove in this epistle: -
1. That Christ is greater than the angels.
2. That he is greater than Moses.
3. That he is greater than Aaron, and all high priests.
The two former arguments, with their applications and illustrations, he has already despatched; and now he enters on the third. See the preface to this epistle.
The apostle states,
1. That we have a high priest.
2. That this high priest is Jesus, the Son of God; not a son or descendant of Aaron, nor coming in that way, but in a more transcendent line.
3. Aaron and his successors could only pass into the holy of holies, and that once a year; but our High Priest has passed into the heavens, of which that was only the type. There is an allusion here to the high priest going into the holy of holies on the great day of atonement.
1. He left the congregation of the people.
2. He passed through the veil into the holy place, and was not seen even by the priests.
3. He entered through the second veil into the holy of holies, where was the symbol of the majesty of God. Jesus, our High Priest,
on Hebrews 4 :14
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.
on Hebrews 4 :14
4:14 Having therefore a great high priest - Great indeed, being the eternal Son of God, that is passed through the heavens - As the Jewish high priest 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 God.