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What the Bible says about Jesus Christ's Qualifications for High Priest
(From Forerunner Commentary)

John 1:14

Some commentators feel that this is the greatest verse in the Bible because the apostle John is saying that God became a man. The Greeks could have never, not in their wildest imaginations, have thought—with their background of philosophy and with the gods they worshipped—of God becoming a man. Doing so would have been something too far beneath a god to do. They believed that flesh is evil, so they could not associate a perfectly pure and righteous God becoming something they considered inherently evil. Yet, God "became flesh and dwelt among us."

The word "flesh" is the exact same word that the apostle Paul uses in his books to designate human nature. When we remember some of the things the Bible says about the flesh, John is saying that the Word—the Logos, the pre-existent One, the Creator—became subject to humanity in its fullness, in the exact same way that we are subject to humanity.

He was subject to the pulls of the flesh. He could have been influenced by Satan. He had human desires. The possibility was there for Him to have the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. God did not withhold Him from any of these things. It is awfully hard to think of God encumbering Himself with humanity, but there was a reason why it had to be done.

To be the payment—to be man's Savior—He had to be a human (Hebrews 2:14-18). However, He had to be a man who was more than a man. He had to be encumbered with humanity yet be God in the flesh. He had to be both at the same time. So, the pulls of the flesh could not be withheld from Him. He had to endure and overcome those things. He had to rise above the influences of Satan the Devil to become the payment for the sins of the people and also to be prepared to be a merciful and faithful High Priest.

This has a great deal to do with our calling because we have been called to become priests—kings and priests, as Revelation 5:10 says. What we go through during our converted lives is similar to what Christ went through. As He was called to become High Priest, we are called to become priests under Him. So, we have to experience trials similar to what He did. To qualify for what He is, He had to go through what we do. God is preparing us to aid others who will come along later, just as Jesus was prepared to aid us.

Therefore, the Word became flesh and everything that "flesh" might mean.

John W. Ritenbaugh
John (Part Three)

Hebrews 1:1-14

The author's direct and indirect references to the threefold offices of Jesus Christ—prophet, priest, and king—provide a link between Hebrews' first and second chapters. Christ holds all three at once, which is impressive. He is a Leader every knowledgeable individual should yearn to serve under because, under His leadership, great things will be accomplished. Those under Him will share the rewards of His achievements.

In Hebrews 1, the author describes the Son as the One through whom God spoke prophetically as “Son” (verse 2). In verse 3, He is the High Priest who provided purification for sins. In verses 6-14, we see Him prophetically, ruling from His throne in His Kingdom, alluding to His royal authority. These verses look far into the future, assuring us that His holding of the office of High Priest is a settled, eternal issue.

Why? The answer appears in Hebrews 1:9: God places Him in that office, anointing Him “with the oil of gladness more than [His] companions,” because He “loved righteousness and hated lawlessness,” as demonstrated by His sinless life. He most certainly qualified for it. The quotation from Psalm 45:6-7 is no idle saying. Jesus was head and shoulders above all others in terms of His qualifications to lead.

These brief statements set the stage for the rest of the epistle. Hebrews 1 is a primer of what He has already done and will continue to do and expand upon for the members of the God Family. Remember, Christ Himself dogmatically states, “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). God is glorified by His Family producing fruit, and without Jesus Christ, no fruit can be produced. Without His work, our salvation would be impossible. As High Priest, He is the literal link between us and sharing eternity with God in His Family. Without Him, we could expect only death in the Lake of Fire.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part Ten): Christianity's Claims

Hebrews 1:4

Some readers of Hebrews have trouble grasping His usage of “having become” here. The key to unlocking this mystery about Jesus' becoming something He was not before and seemingly having to qualify to hold a position is understanding the time-linkage between this statement and Psalm 2, where God proclaims unambiguously that He had begotten a Son. Twice in Psalm 2 He is called “Son” and once “His Anointed,” the Messiah. God states this long before the human Jesus was born.

John 1:17-18 helps to clarify the identity of the Son:

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

The entire first chapter of John's gospel seeks to identify the Son of God, principally who the Son in Psalm 2 is. The prophetic proclamation made in Psalm 2 points to only one Person in all of history, and that Person was irrefutably not an angel. John tells us the Son is Jesus of Nazareth.

Luke 1:30-35 provides a clarifying identification:

Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, the Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”

The angel makes this declaration about the unique, one-of-a-kind, Person whom the New Testament names “the only begotten Son of God.” He is plainly named “the Son of the Highest.” He, as John 1 reveals, is also God, even as the One we know as “the Father” is God.

Though the title “Son” was written as part of Psalm 2 many hundreds of years before the New Testament appeared, God the Father assigned and declared it when Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. It occurred at the beginning of His 33½-year human life, during which He conducted His ministry.

Jesus did not have to qualify for this office in the ordinary sense. He was already entitled to it by being God both when the prophecy was originally uttered and when He was conceived in Mary's womb and became human. The prophecy in Psalm 2 ends with His death, payment for our sins, and resurrection, paving the way for our eternal life. Thus, Jesus fulfilled God's purpose, not just of being simultaneously both God and man but also being sinless, an unblemished sacrifice to pay the price for our sins.

Thus, at the moment of His birth, God exalted Jesus to what He never literally was before: As the Son, He became the New Covenant's High Priest. He was already performing the job throughout His ministry. As God, He did not have to qualify for what He already was, though He had to finish His course through death and resurrection.

The problem arose for the apostles when God began calling Jews to conversion. They soon became aware of this prophetic reality and questioned it because it did not harmonize with their religious traditions.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part Ten): Christianity's Claims

Hebrews 7:24-28

The Aaronic priesthood—including the high priest—was just as sinful as the population that they were to be serving. In order for this to be corrected, it was necessary that the true High Priest be one of divine nature, perfect, and sinless. Jesus Christ was both deity and humanity, and He qualified—through His sinlessness, His offering of His life, and His compassion—to be High Priest for the entirety of humanity. The book of Hebrews points out these things: 1) that He was divine, 2) that He offered His perfect life in sacrifice, and 3) that His mercy qualified Him to be High Priest.

Aaron's sons attained to the priesthood simply by being born into the Aaronic line. Members of the church, though, become priests by means of regeneration, making us part of the Divine Family—and thus brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part One)

Hebrews 8:1-6

The author directly states that this idea is the primary reason for all he has written so far. Christianity is earth's only religion that is led by a spiritual High Priest sitting at the right hand of the throne of God in heaven. Within the material the author has written are two major points:

First, the qualifications of this towering Figure, who holds such an important office, make Him indispensable to the salvation of all God's sanctified ones. Indispensable? Absolutely! Jesus tells us Himself in John 15:5, “Without Me you can do nothing” in terms of producing fruit that glorifies God. He has much to offer. The epistle to the Hebrews identifies these qualities.

The second major reason is not named here. Some may consider it unimportant in comparison to the first. However, God, who knows precisely where His creation is headed and who sovereignly controls its direction and speed of advancement, never intended the Old Covenant to last forever.

Remember, God Himself publicly introduced the New Covenant six centuries before the writing of the book of Hebrews (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Its introduction within the flow of the history of the church and the world began to force key cultural changes to take place within Judea especially, but also in majority Gentile areas of the Middle East. Many Jews were being converted. Within the church itself, both the leadership and membership were asking many questions about what they needed to do to adjust to this new way of life. Those converts required direction from on high to secure them in living by faith in Jesus Christ.

The transition from Judaism to Christianity following Christ's crucifixion and resurrection and the church's receipt of the Holy Spirit—all in the early AD 30s—needed purposeful instruction from heaven to confirm to the church the direction that Christ wanted the daily, spiritual operations of Christianity to proceed. Just as the book of Leviticus contains detailed instruction for daily functions under the Old Covenant, so similar education was necessary under the New Covenant because of what God was working in the church—and is still working today.

The epistle to the Hebrews contains such instruction, enabling those who have entered the New Covenant with God to make the necessary adjustments to maintain their lives by faith and grow spiritually. In this way, they can glorify God by maintaining their relationship with Christ while preparing for the Kingdom of God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part One)


 




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