10. What Qualifications Made Christ A High Priest?
The Custom of Sacrifice
The scriptures provide no specific account as to its origin, but the custom of sacrifice (offering) is clearly one that had been approved by God. The first sacrifice offering is mentioned in the book of Genesis, by Cain and Abel unto the LORD (Gen 4:3-5).
The High Priest
The High Priest was considered the highest religious position of all those who served at the temple. Only the high priest was permitted to enter into what was called the “Holy of Holies“, which he did once a year, on the Day of Atonement, for “the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest” (Heb 9:8, 11, 12).
Aaron, the brother of Moses, was the first High Priest and was appointed by God (Ex. 28:2; 29:7; 30:23; Lev. 8:12). The office of high priest was to be held for life, and was hereditary in the family of Aaron (Num. 3:10).
For many years after the time of Moses the office of high priest was held based on heredity. In later times, however, civil authorities appropriated the right of appointment and filled the position based on their own religious and political considerations.
The book of Leviticus describes the required gifts and sacrifices the priests were to make on behalf of the people. There were burnt offerings, grain offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings and trespass offerings, each sacrifice had specific guidelines and rituals required when making them. The priests were the only ones able to offer these gifts and sacrifices. It was their primary duty.
It is believed that there were approximately eighty-three high priests, beginning with Aaron (B.C. 1657) and ending with Phannias (A.D. 70).
Christ Qualifications As High Priest
In the same way, Jesus, our High Priest, was also required to offer both gifts and sacrifices. The difference is that Jesus’ gifts and His sacrifice were far superior to the gifts offered according to the law. He did not bring animals to sacrifice as a covering for sin. He presented His body, which was prepared and given for this very purpose (Hebrews 10:5-7). His sacrifice wiped away the curse of sin and its effects (II Corinthians 5:19, Hebrews 10:17-18, I John 2:2).
A. DIVINE APPOINTMENT (Heb 5:1, 4)
1. The work of the high priest involves “things pertaining to God” – (Heb 2:17)
2. Only God can rightfully select a high priest, even as God called Aaron – (Heb 2:17)
B. HUMAN CONDITION (Heb 5:1-3)
1. A high priest is selected “from among men” – (Heb 5:1)
Note: The high priest was to make a distinction between sins of ignorance and sins of presumption (In a presumptuous manner; arrogantly). Sacrifices were to be offered on behalf of “those who are ignorant and going astray“ – (Heb 5:2 ), but NOT for the presumptuous. – (Num 15:22-31)
2. For “he himself is subject to weakness” (Heb 5:2 ). And Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered (Heb 5:8 ).
“He learned obedience” – (There is a challenge of obedience in the midst of suffering, temptations, etc.) A high priest would be someone well acquainted with our “human challenges” (i.e., our struggles against temptation, etc…)(Heb 2:18; 4:15).
a) Jesus “offered prayers and supplications with vehement cries and tears” (Heb 5:7)
b) Jesus prayed “to Him who was able to save Him from death” (Heb 5:7)
c) Jesus was heard “because he feared” (Heb 5:7)
This also explains why the high priest in the O.T. offered sacrifices for himself (for his sins of ignorance), as well as for the sins of the people – (Lev 16:11)
3. He must “offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins” – Heb 8:3.
That he may offer both gifts – That is, thank-offerings, or oblations which would be the expressions of gratitude. Many such offerings were made by the Jews under the laws of Moses, and the high priest was the medium by whom they were to be presented to God.
And sacrifices for sin – Bloody offerings; (offerings made of slain beasts). The blood of expiation was sprinkled by him on the mercy seat, and he was the appointed medium by which such sacrifices were to be presented to God;
(1) the proper office of a priest is to present a “sacrifice” for sin.
(2) it is “improper” to give the name “priest” to a minister of the gospel. The reason is, that he offers no sacrifice; he sprinkles no blood. He is appointed to “preach the word,” and to lead the devotions of the church, but not to offer sacrifice. Accordingly, the New Testament is consistent on this point, for the name “priest” is never once given to the apostles, or to any other minister of the gospel.
Jesus, His Office As High Priest
According to scripture, the office of a High Priest is always a human person and it is God who ordains (appoints) the High Priest.
The following translations comparisons are presented to help clear up some of the misinterpreted (or not well worded) passages we find in the KJV translation.
(King James Version)
1 For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:
2 Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.
3 And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.
4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.
5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.
7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.
(The Book of Yahweh)
1 For every High Priest selected from among men, is ordained for men in things pertaining to Yahweh, in order that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins-
2 Who can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness.
3 And for this reason, he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people.
4 And no man takes this honor upon himself, but he must be called by Yahweh, as was Aaron.
5 So the Messiah also did not take upon Himself the glory of becoming a High Priest, but Yahweh said to Him: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You.”
7 Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the One Who could save Him from death, was heard because of His holy reverence.
8 Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience from the things which He suffered;
9 Then being perfected, He became the Causer of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him.
10 Called by Yahweh a ‘High Priest after the order of Melchizedek,
Hebrews 7:3 says that Melchizedek was “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.”
Understandably, this statement as written, can easily cause a great deal of confusion.
1) First, no earthly king (outside of Jesus) has ever literally remained a priest forever (Arron and others followed Melchizedek), and no human (outside of Adam and Eve) is without father or mother, even Jesus had both a father and mother (God the Father, his creator, and Mary).
2) A high priest is selected “from among men” – (Heb 5:1)
The Better translation when compared to KJV
(King James Version)
“Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.”
(The Book of Yahweh)
“Melchizedek’s father and mother were not recorded in the genealogies, neither was the beginning of his days, nor the end of his life but he was a 5representation of the lSon of Yahweh, for the continuance of the priesthood.”
(5-That is, he was a righteous priest, and King of righteousness.)