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In this verse, the general description of an high priest is given, from his original; "he is taken from among men.” From the nature of his office; he "is ordained for men in things pertaining to God.” From the special end of it; “to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sin.” And this subject, now first professedly entered upon, (but still with respect to the Old Testament church) is pursued with sundry occasional digressions, to the end of the tenth chapter.
$3. (I.) We have the description of an high priest from his original. “For every high priest taken from among men.” All the males of the family of Aaron were equal as to the priesthood; but there was one who was the head and prince of the rest, whose office was not distinct from theirs, but in the discharge of which, and his preparation for it, there were many things peculiarly appropriated to him, which are distinctly appointed and enumerated in several places. The whole office was primarily vested in him, the other priests being as it were his assistants, and a nursery
for future succession. The whole nature of the type was preserved in him alone.
One single high priest had been sufficient to have represented the priesthood of Christ; but because God would have that done constantly, during the continuance of that church state, they were to be multiplied by succession. And since by reason of their multiplied carnal services, no one man was able to discharge the whole office, there were others added to assist him, which were so far also types of Christ, as they were partakers of his office. But because the office was principally conferred on and vested in the high priest, and because many important parts of the duty of it were appropriated to him; as also, because his glorious vestments, made for beauty and glory, to
represent the excellency and holiness of the person of Christ, were to be worn by none but him; he alone is singled out as the principal representative of the Lord Jesus Christ in his office. (Εξ ανθρωπων γαμβανομενος.)
Taken from among men. This expression is not a part of the subject of the proposition, but what is attributed to every high priest; every one who is so, is to be taken from among men. The sense may be supplied by a copulative... "and is ordained." He is acuBavouenos, assumptus,) taken from among men, separated from them, is no more of the same rank; (eg cv@pwtwv) from among men; that is, first, he is (naturæ humunæ particeps) “partaker in common of human nature,” with the rest of mankind;-neither the divine nature, nor the angelic is capable of the exercise of it for men; which is principally intended: and secondly, before his assumption to this office, he was among the number of common men; as having nothing in his nature to prefer him above them. So was it with Aaron; he was a common man amongst his brethren, yea, a mean man in bondage before his call to office. The former of these declares what every high priest is and ought to be; the latter what the first legal high priest actually
Whatever is essential to the office of high priest, without which it could not be duly executed, is found in Christ, in a far more perfect and excellent manner than in the priests of the law, without any of their imperfections. It was essential to the office itself that he should be partaker of human nature, but it was not so, that he should be absolutely in the common state of all men, antecedently to his call to office.
54. (II.) The next part of the general description of a high priest is from the nature of his office. He “is ordained for men in things pertaining to God.”
(Trep av@pwwwv) for men; the proposition (uteg) is sometimes (vice, or, loco,) in the stead, sometimes (pro) for, only as it denotes the final cause; as to do a thing “for” the good of men. 2 Tim. ii, 10. And both these senses may have place here. For where the first intention is, the latter is always included. He that doth any thing in the stead of another, doth it always for his good. And the high priest might be. so far said to stand and act in stead of other men, as he appeared in their behalf, represented their persons, pleaded their cause, and confessed their sins: but in their behalf, or "for their good," and advantage, to perform what on their part is with God to be performed, is evidently intended in this place. (Kædiolelei Tu Tpos Tov cov) is ordained in things pertaining to God. The verb is used most frequently in a neuter or passive sense, and in this place it can be no otherwise. So the apostle explains himself, chap. viii, 3; “Every high priest (næblolalai) is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices, which place expoundeth this. And two things are intended in the word; God's designation and appointment; and actual consecration according to the law. So was it in the case of Aaron. And this latter part, or his ordination, belonged to the weakness and impersection of that priesthood, so that he could not be consecrated without the sacrifices of other things. But the Lord Christ, being both priest and sacrifice himself, needed no such ordination, nor was capable of it. His ordination therefore consisted merely in the divine designation and appointment, as We shall see.
“In things pertaining to God.” The expression (74 TPOS TOV O cov) is elliptical and sacred ,but what is intended by it, is sufficiently manifest. The things that were “to be done with or towards God” in his
worship, to answer the duties and ends of the priestly effice; that is to do the things whereby God might be appeased, and reconciled, his anger being turned away, chap. ii, 17.
$5. (III.) The remaining part of the description, in this verse, is from the end of the priesthood. ("Ive τροσφερη δωρα και θυσιας) «That he may offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.” The Hebrew word (39p) compriseth the whole sacerdotal performance, from first to last; in bringing, flaying, and burning the sacrifices according to the law, (see Lev. i, 245, and our exercitations concerning the Sacrifices of the Jews.) The object of this sacerdotal action is (δωρα και θυσιας) gifts and offerings; if a distinction be here supposed, I should think that by “gifts,”allfree-will offerings might be intended; and by “sacrifices” those that were determined as to occasions, times, and seasons, by the law. But I rather judge that the apostle useth these two words in general to express all sorts of sacrifices for sins, and therefore that expression (utega pagtiw) for sins, may refer to (dopee) gifts, as well as (Jurlæs) sacrifices.
$6. (IV.) From the words thus expounded we may draw the following brief observations:
1. Christ's participation of our nature, as necessary for the discharge of the office of an High Priest on our behalf, is a great ground of consolation to believers, a manifest evidence that he is, and will be compassionate towards them. See chap. ii, ver. 10, 11, &c.
2. It was the entrance of sin that made the office of priesthood necessary; and therefore it was of infinite grace that such an appointment was made. Without it all holy intercourse between God and man must have ceased; for neither were the persons of sinners meet to approach God; nor was any service which they could perform, suited to the great end which man was to look after-peace with God. Again, men in their own persons had nothing to offer to God but their moral duties, which the law of their creation and the covenant of works required of them. Now these were no way meet nor able to make atonement for sin, the great work now to be done with God, and without which every thing else that can be done by sinners is of no consideration. God therefore appointing a new service for this end—that of sacrifices; appointed also a new way,—the performance of a priest in the name and behalf of others. And a most gracious appointment it was, as that on which all blessed intercourse with God, and all hopes with him, solely depend. Though the occasion was grievous, the relief is glorious.
3. Where there is no proper propitiary sacrifice, there is no proper priest. Every priest is to offer sacrifices for sin; that is, to make atonement; and therefore Jesus Christ alone is the High Priest of his people, for he alone could offer a sacrifice for our sins to make atonement.
4. It was a great privilege which the church enjoyed of old in the divinely appointed representation of the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ, in their own typical priests and sacrifices: but much more glorious is our privilege under the gospel, since our Lord Jesus hath taken upon him and actually discharged this part of his office, in offering an absolutely perfect and complete sacrifice for sin. Here is the foundation of all our peace and happiness.
5. What is to be done with God on the account of sin, that it may be expiated and pardoned, and that the people of God who have sinned, may be accepted and blessed, is all actually done for them, by Jesus