Hebrews 5:1 every high priest...is ordained...that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins
Paul is not speaking of the office of high priest in the Melchizedek priesthood. There was one man who held the office of high priest as the presiding authority of the Levitical priesthood. The Bible Dictionary explains:
"Under the law of Moses the presiding officer of the Aaronic Priesthood was called the high priest. The office was hereditary and came through the firstborn among the family of Aaron, Aaron himself being the first high priest of the Aaronic order...
"The high priest's main duties, in addition to the duties of a regular priest, were to perform the service of the Day of Atonement; to inquire God's will by the Urim and Thummim in the breastplate of his office; and to offer sacrifices on Sabbaths, new moons, and yearly festivals. He also had to offer a meat offering twice daily for himself (Lev. 6:19-23)." (Bible Dictionary: High Priest)
Hebrews 5:4 no man taketh this honour unto himself
"When the Lord taught his ancient Apostles, he said, 'Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you' (John 15:16). This short statement is a fundamental principle of the Lord's true church. People do not have the right to call themselves to act in God's name. Neither a desire to serve nor a love of God and fellowman-however heartfelt and sincere-authorizes one to claim God's authority in matters relating to his church. Scriptural precedent shows that when God has true servants on earth, the call comes through them, his representatives.
"The New Testament teaches, 'No man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron' (Heb. 5:4). The Lord's authorized servant, Moses, learned by revelation that it was God's will that Aaron serve (see Ex. 28:1). Accordingly, Moses called and consecrated him (see Ex. 40:12-16, Lev. 8:9-13)." (Kent P. Jackson, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Feb. 1995, 62)
David O. McKay
"This question of divine authority is one of the important factors which distinguish the Church of Jesus Christ from the Protestant creeds of Christendom. In plain, unmistakable terms the Church declares that 'a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands, by those who are in authority to preach the gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.' (Articles of Faith, No. 5.) In this declaration the Church but reiterates the words of one who bore Christ's authority in the Meridian of Time, and who, in writing upon this very question, said, 'And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.' (Heb. 5:4.)
"Herein lies one secret of the strength of this great latter-day work. Its origin consists not in the whims, the desires, or the aspirations of men, but in the order and the will of Christ himself, the author of our eternal salvation. If one man could assume the right to speak in the name of the Lord, other men would have the same privilege. These many men, all presuming to say, 'Thus saith the Lord,' yet not seeing 'eye to eye' on important elements of God's kingdom, the inevitable result would be confusion, and sincere men and women would be driven from, not attracted to Christ's Church, yet eventually would be made to suffer for not having obeyed the principles of life and salvation.
"Yet the real cause of their failure to accept these eternal principles would be the fact that unauthorized men arrogated to themselves the right to officiate in things pertaining to God. Herein lies the explanation of the discordant condition existing among jarring creeds in the so-called Christian world today. Men who have no right so to do are officiating in the name of Christ. The result, of course, is confusion. Whatever else may be said of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the strength of his position in regard to divine authority must be recognized." (Gospel Ideals: Selections from the Discourses of David O. McKay [Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1953], 166
Gordon B. Hinckley
"Paul wrote concerning the priesthood: 'No man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.' (Heb. 5:4.) We have not acquired it through purchase or bargain. The Lord has given it to men who are considered worthy to receive it, regardless of station in life, the color of their skin, or the nation in which they live. It is the power and the authority to govern in the affairs of the kingdom of God. It is given only by ordination by the laying on of hands by those in authority to do so. The qualification for eligibility is obedience to the commandments of God.
"There is no power on the earth like it. Its authority extends beyond life, through the veil of death, to the eternities ahead. It is everlasting in its consequences." ("The Cornerstones of Our Faith," Ensign, November 1984, pp. 52-53.)
Robert E. Wells
"Any ordinances performed without that authority are as invalid as a forged signature on a loan. Many baptisms and confirmations and other ordinances are performed by well-meaning people, but if those people lack the proper authority, they have no promise that the ordinance will be validated in this or the next life. Many, we fear, will be disillusioned when they arrive on the other side and find that the ordinances performed for them were invalid and the authority those who performed the ordinances thought they had is nonexistent. Sincerity or faith alone is not enough." (The Mount and the Master [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 201.)
Hebrews 5:5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest
Bruce R. McConkie
"True ministers...never call themselves; they do not and cannot endow themselves with divine authority. They must be called of God. Even Christ 'glorified not himself to be made an high priest' (Heb. 5:5); even he was called and given power and sent forth by his Father. Those who are called of God thus become his servants, his agents, his ambassadors. They are sent forth to do what he wants done and to represent him. Their words are his words and their acts his acts; when they serve within the field and scope of their authorization, it is as though the Lord himself had said or done whatever is involved." (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-1981], 2: 308.)
Hebrews 5:6 Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec
When God says, “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec,” the statement constitutes the oath of the priesthood. The oath is the word of God, not the promise of man, for only one of the two can truly deliver on his promises. Paul is pulling this quote out of a long lost scriptural passage. Paul says, “he (meaning Elohim) saith also in another place (some lost scriptural account)” that his first and Only Begotten was made priest with an oath. Paul repeats this oath with respect to Jesus’ priesthood authority in Heb. 7:17. In this manner Jesus was the Great High Priest spoken of from the beginning—the great example of all future priesthood holders, who received this eternal guarantee with an oath from his Father.
Dale G. Renlund
To each man who receives the Melchizedek Priesthood, God affirms His covenant promises with an oath. This oath pertains only to the Melchizedek Priesthood, and it is God who swears the oath, not the priesthood holder. Because this unique situation involves His divine power and authority, God uses an oath, employing the most forceful language He can, to assure us of the binding and irreversible nature of His promises.
Severe consequences result from breaking priesthood covenants and altogether turning from them. Being casual or apathetic in a priesthood calling is like introducing material fatigue into a rocket component. It jeopardizes the priesthood covenant because it can lead to mission failure. Disobedience to God’s commandments breaks the covenant. For a perpetual, unrepentant covenant-breaker, the promised blessings are withdrawn. (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/10/the-priesthood-and-the-saviors-atoning-power?lang=eng)
Hebrews 5:7 Who was Melchizedec?
"What kind of a man was this Melchizedek? ...The Joseph Smith Translation provides an additional 16 verses in Genesis 14 (Gen. 14:25-40) ...As a child Melchizedek had such faith as to stop the mouths of lions and quench the violence of fire (see also JST, Heb. 5:7). He was ordained a high priest after the order of the Son of God. He was a prophet like unto Enoch who had power through his faith over the elements, over the nations of the earth, and the power to stand in the presence of God 'by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world' (JST, Gen. 14:31). In addition to his biblical title 'King of peace' (Heb. 7:2), in the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 14:33 [Gen. 14:33] we learn Melchizedek was called by his people 'the Prince of peace,' another title identifying him as a type foreshadowing the ministry of Jesus Christ." (David Rolph Seely, "The Joseph Smith Translation: 'Plain and Precious Things' Restored," Ensign, Aug. 1997, 14)
JST Hebrews 5:7 Footnote: Does verse 8 refer to Melchizedek or Christ?
The footnote states that verses 7 and 8 "are a parenthesis alluding to Melchizedek and not to Christ." Yet, many prophets and apostles (e.g. Ensign, Nov. 1977, 73) have spoken of verse 8 in reference to the Savior. How can we resolve this conflict? Robert J. Matthews explained it as follows:
"The reference to Melchizedek was undoubtedly inserted because Melchizedek was a type or a foreshadowing of Christ...Hence, Hebrews 5:7-8, while referring specifically to Melchizedek, has equal, though indirect, application to Jesus Christ because Melchizedek typifies Christ." (Robert J. Matthews, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Aug. 1987, 21)
In many instances, the Joseph Smith Translation focuses not on Paul's original intent as much as it protects us against Satan's distortion of the scriptures. This footnote provides a good example. Satan's henchmen might argue that if Christ learned obedience, then he must have been disobedient at some point. Those who would detract from Christ's perfect sinless life could use this scripture to argue that he was not perfect in mortality. Joseph Smith's translation anticipates this Satanic ploy and gives us scriptural ammunition to fight it.
However, if you understand the verse as Paul intended, it may be correctly applied to Jesus Christ. In this context, what does it mean when Christ learned obedience by the things which he suffered? Does it mean he was ever disobedient? Of course not! It means that he grew 'grace for grace.' It means that the physical suffering of Christ taught him what it meant to be obedient to the Father not just in the spiritual sense but in the physical sense. Prior to his mortal advent, he knew perfect obedience in the Spirit, but he had not yet experienced it in the flesh. His physical suffering was a learning experience for him just as it can be for us. Correctly understood, Paul never intended to imply that Christ had ever been disobedient.
"Did Jesus ever commit sin? (Heb. 5:8-9.) Because of Hebrews 5:8-9, which says that Jesus 'learned ... obedience by the things which he suffered' and was 'made perfect,' some have suggested that he was not always sinless in mortality. In response, Elder Bruce R. McConkie has written: 'Christ always was perfect in that he obeyed the whole law of the Father at all times and was everlastingly the Sinless One. See Heb. 4:14-16; Heb. 5:1-3. But on the other hand he was made perfect, through the sufferings and experiences of mortality, in the sense that he thereby died and was resurrected in glorious immortality." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:158.)" (J. Lewis Taylor, "New Testament Backgrounds: Hebrews," Ensign, Apr. 1976, 59)
Hebrews 5:8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered
The Son suffered Mary and Joseph to exercise parental authority over him. He suffered the pangs of a forty-day fast. In this weakened state, he suffered the brutal temptations of Satan himself. In his ministry, he suffered the pains of rejection from the Jewish people. He suffered the hypocrisy and murderous plots of the chief priests and Pharisees. In Gethsemane, 'he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam' (2 Ne. 9:21). Next, he suffered the interrogations of the Sanhedrin, Herod, and Pilate. He suffered the brutal beating and mockery at the hands of the Roman soldiers. He suffered the pains of crucifixion. On the cross, he again suffered the pains of all men, and the brief, but excruciating loss of his Father's spiritual support (Mark 15:34). What a learning experience!
Neal A. Maxwell
"Our discipleship is to be patterned after that of the Master (2 Nephi 31:16-17), who 'learned. . . obedience by the things which he suffered' (Hebrews 5:8). Can we expect it to be otherwise with us? We who are entreated to take his yoke upon us (Matthew 11:29) cannot expect immunity from tutoring and suffering at the hands of a loving Father." (Not My Will, But Thine [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1998], 4.)
James E. Faust
"In life we all have our Gethsemanes. A Gethsemane is a necessary experience. A Gethsemane is a growth experience. A Gethsemane is a time to draw near to God. A Gethsemane is a time of deep anguish and suffering. The Gethsemane of the Savior was without question the greatest suffering that has ever come to mankind, yet out of it came the greatest good in the promise of eternal life. One of the lessons learned by the Savior in his Gethsemane was declared by Paul to the Hebrews: 'Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.'" (To Reach Even unto You [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1980], 91.)"
Neal A. Maxwell
"Suffering is a hard way to learn, but perhaps the only way for us to learn certain things, for deep insights do not come to an outsider; they come from being inside certain experiences. Obedience permits us to hear things we would not otherwise be able to listen to, because we would so easily be offended. In Proverbs we read that a wise reprover is heard only by 'an obedient ear.' (Proverbs 25:12.)" (Wherefore, Ye Must Press Forward [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977], 44.)
Harold B. Lee
"So it is in our day. God grant that you and I may learn obedience to God's will, if necessary by the things which we suffer. One of the things that characterizes us as Saints, as King Benjamin told us, was to be 'submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.' (Mosiah 3:19.)" (Conference Report, October 1965, Afternoon Meeting 130 - 131.)
Harold B. Lee
"A young mother went through the trying experience of having a little child killed in an accident, and she came seeking a blessing for comfort. She asked through her tears, 'Must there always be pain in this life?'
"I thought a few minutes, and then said, 'The Apostle Paul said of the Master, the Lord and the Savior, `Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.` (Hebrews 5:8.) I suppose that the answer is yes; there must always be pain in this life of travail and sorrow, and there is a purpose in it all.'
"God help us to understand how we shall develop sometimes through heartache, sorrow, and tears those spiritual qualities except for which none of us can achieve to the place of kinship to Him who suffered more than any of us may understand, and this I pray and bear you my solemn witness in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ." (Stand Ye in Holy Places [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], 293.)
Hebrews 5:9 being made perfect
Bruce C. Hafen
"In his own development toward perfection, the Savior received the Father's grace. He 'received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace ... until he received a fulness.' (D&C 93:12-13.) His life was sinless; hence, he received grace not to compensate for his sins, but to empower his personal growth:
'Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation.' (Heb. 5:8-9; italics added.)
"Our relationship with him can mirror his relationship with the Father: 'For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; [thus] you shall receive grace for grace.' (D&C 93:19-20; italics added.)
"When the Atonement and our repentance satisfy the laws of justice and mercy, we are, in effect, free from sin. But just as the sinless Christ was 'made perfect' through interaction with his Father's grace, so his atoning grace can move us beyond the remission of sins to the perfection of a divine nature. Those who inherit the celestial kingdom are 'just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood.' (D&C 76:69.) As Moroni put it, 'Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him ... by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ.' (Moro. 10:32-33.)" ("Beauty for Ashes: The Atonement of Jesus Christ," Ensign, Apr. 1990, 11-12)
Spencer W. Kimball
"Perfection is a long, hard journey with many pitfalls. It's not attainable overnight. Eternal vigilance is the price of victory. Eternal vigilance is required in the subduing of enemies and in becoming the master of our lives. It cannot be accomplished in little spurts and disconnected efforts. There must be constant and valiant, purposeful living-righteous living." ("The Abundant Life," Ensign, July 1978, 6)
Spencer W. Kimball
"...ridiculous is the idea that any of us can rise to the eternal heights without disciplining ourselves and being disciplined by the circumstances of life. The purity and perfection we seek is unattainable without this subjection of unworthy, ungodlike urges and the corresponding encouragement of their opposites. We certainly cannot expect the rules to be easier for us than for the Son of God, of whom it is recorded:
'Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.' (Heb. 5:8-9.)
"'Unto all them that obey him'-these are the operative words for us. And obedience always involves self-discipline. So does repentance, which is the way to annul the effects of a previous lack of obedience in one's life. The dividends from both obedience and repentance amply repay the effort." (The Miracle of Forgiveness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], 28)
Hebrews 5:9 he became the author of salvation unto all them that obey him
James E. Talmage
"We hold the salvation from sin is obtainable only through obedience, and that while the door to the kingdom of God has been opened by the sanctified death and by the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ, no man may enter there except by his personal and voluntary application expressed in terms of obedience to the prescribed laws and ordinances of the Gospel. Christ 'became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him.' ("Heb. 5:9Heb. 5:9.)" (Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 2: 60.)
N. Eldon Tanner
"Mother was quite a disciplinarian. I thank her from the bottom of my heart that she taught us to be obedient. We read in Hebrews, 'Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.' (Heb. 5:8.) That is the way I learned obedience!
"But as I look back over my life I am so thankful I learned obedience. I learned obedience to Mother. I learned obedience to Father. I learned obedience to the officers in the ward and stake. I learned obedience to my schoolteacher. I learned obedience to law. I am not boasting, but I thank my mother that she taught me that obedience was one of the most important things in my life. If I would obey the laws of God and the laws of the land, I would have no trouble." (May 17, 1966, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1966, p. 7)
Hugh B. Brown
"Obedience is an integral part of the gospel plan...If we accept the gospel, we must comply with its ordinances, must perform the symbols which stand for its realities, must observe its laws and obligations. Thus this word obedience, which to some seems to whisper slavery, is seen to be the emblem of true liberty. It is an ingredient of the joy we seek." (The Eternal Quest [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1956], 235.)
Hebrews 5:10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec
Robert D. Hales
"It was through the priesthood that the Son of God, the Savior, Jesus Christ, established his church-both in the Old World and in the New World...Jesus Christ atoned for the sins of all who will repent and be baptized through the power of the holy priesthood. Through the Atonement, our Savior broke the bands of death and became 'the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him' (Heb. 5:9)." ("Blessings of the Priesthood," Ensign, Nov. 1995, 32-33)
Hebrews 5:11-12 ye are dull of hearing
"Like the Corinthians, the Hebrews had to go back and relearn the 'first principles' at a time when their gospel growth should have been advanced (Heb. 5:12-14). They were 'dull of hearing' (Heb. 5:11), which shows that Paul had particular information that worried him. What were their problems? One was living the gospel, a problem common to most branches of the Church in the letters. But the long arguments of reconversion center around Jewish ritual. The Hebrews overstressed the Levitical priesthood that operated the temple and the daily sacrifices that were superseded by Christ's great sacrifice." (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 195 - 196.)
Hebrews 5:12 such...have need of milk, and not of strong meat
Bruce C. Hafen
"One essential element in [God's] plan is the principle of 'line upon line, precept upon precept.' Not only does he leave to us the initiative to believe, he imparts to his hearers only what they are ready to hear. Milk comes before meat. 'I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.' (John 16:12.)
"Hugh Nibley has described this guiding principle as the 'policy of reticence,' which the Lord has always followed 'to protect sacred things from common misunderstandings and to protect the unworthy from damaging themselves with them.' (Since Cumorah, Deseret Book Co., 1967, p. 107.)" ("Is Yours a Believing Heart?" Ensign, Sept. 1974, 55)
Hebrews 5:14 strong meat belongeth to them...who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern
James E. Faust
"There is a defense mechanism to discern between good and evil. It is called conscience. It is our spirit's natural response to the pain of sin, just like pain in our flesh is our body's natural response to a wound-even a small sliver. Conscience strengthens through use. Paul told the Hebrews, 'But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.' (Heb. 5:14.) Those who have not exercised their conscience have 'their conscience seared with a hot iron.' (1 Tim. 4:2.) A sensitive conscience is a sign of a healthy spirit." ("A Crown of Thorns, a Crown of Glory," Ensign, May 1991, 68)