1 For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness. 3 Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins. 4 And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was.
Verses 1–10 explain Jesus’ role as High Priest. He mediates for His people, just as Aaron and his sons did. However, Jesus’ priesthood is from a different order—the order of Melchizedek (He 5:4–6, 10). Our Lord was fully qualified to be a priest. The first four verses show general requirements for the Old Testament priesthood.
Up to this point the book of Hebrews has shown Christ to be superior to angels and to Moses. Beginning in this chapter, He is seen as superior to the high priest role of the Old Testament. Verses 1–4 give the qualifications for the high priest.
The word “for” substantiates Hebrews 4:15 in that the High Priesthood of Christ meets the standards of the Old Testament high priest.
every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God,
God “appointed” Levitical high priests in the Old Testament to mediate for Israel. These priests were common men. A priest needs to partake of the nature of those for whom he officiates.
that [purpose] he may offer both gifts [offerings] and sacrifices for sins.
This phrase refers to offerings to God made my Old Testament priests. The fundamental role of the high priest was to mediate for Israelites.
He can have compassion
The high priest exercised compassion by offering sacrifices for the sin of others. The word “compassion” here is unique and means to moderate one’s passions. It is a philosophical term that balances the extremes of undue excitement and apathy. The priest was to function between two excesses in his emotions. He must not be overindulgent or overly disgusted with sin. It is important for people in ministry to control their emotions with objective restraint.
on those who are ignorant and going astray,
People who are “ignorant” or who go astray by being misguided need a priest who deals with them in moderation. Those “going astray” are people deceived by fakers (2 Co 4:4; 11:3).
since he himself is also subject to weakness.
The high priest was subject to weakness, just as were those to whom he ministered. Christ did not correspond to this aspect of the high priest. That is why His priesthood was of a different order (He 7:27). He lived apart from sin (He 4:15).
Because of this
“This” refers to the weakness of the high priest.
he is required [obligated] as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins.
God obligated priests to make an offering for their own sin first before they made sacrifices for the sin of others. The reason for sacrificing for sin was to pay a penalty for sin.
And no man takes this honor to himself,
No one can appoint himself to be priest.
but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was.
All priesthood appointments came from God. It was a divine call, not a human call. Thus, two key qualifications for a high priest were human compassion and divine appointment.
It is important to control emotions in ministry.
Christian leaders are to keep a balance between indifference toward the sins of their followers and hypersensitivity over what they have done. Apathy creates one kind of problem but indifference another. There is a need to control emotions in ministry.
Because Christian leaders must cope with their own temptations and failures, they need to offer the same grace to their congregations. Leaders need to minister to others where they are rather than where they expect them to be. It is important to identify with those to whom we minister. This is especially true when it comes to our anger, because we are “subject to weakness” as well. This is the kind of calling God has for people who minister the Word of God.