Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on Hebrews 4:14-16 for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
Posted by Dim Bulb on October 16, 2012
This post begins with the Bishop’s brief summary analysis of chapter 4, followed by his notes on today’s text. I’ve included (in purple) his paraphrasing of the text he is commenting on.
A Summary of Hebrews 4~The Apostle having, in the preceding chapter, referred to the exclusion of the incredulous Jews from the rest of God; in this, warns the Hebrews against the like incredulity, lest they too be excluded from God’s eternal rest (Heb 4:1). And he points out the reason why the punishment of the Jews of old should inspire them with fear—viz., because the same announcement was made to both (Heb 4:2). There remains a rest to be entered by the faithful; and this rest is no other than that, on which God entered, after he finished the works of
creation (Heb 4:3). The second part of this proposition, viz., that this rest is the same as that on which God entered after perfecting the works of creation, he proves (Heb 4:4-5); the first part, viz., that a rest yet remains to be enjoyed by the faithful, is shown (Heb 4:6-10).
He deters them from apostasy, by describing the qualities of him who is to avenge their infidelities (Heb 4:12-13), and he consoles them for their past sins, by pointing out his great mercy and spirit of compassion (Heb 4:14-16).
Heb 4:14 Having therefore a great high priest that hath passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God: let us hold fast our confession.
Having, then, a great High Priest, Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son of God, who entered not merely the Holy of Holies, like the Jewish High Priest, bu heaven itself, the true Holy of Holies; let us firmly persevere in our Christian profession.
He here passes to another subject, viz., the Priesthood of Christ; and having in the foregoing chapters compared Christ with Moses, he now institutes a tacit comparison between him as High Priest, and Aaron, giving Christ the preference; this comparison is more fully and expressly instituted in the seventh chapter. His direct and express object in referring to his Priesthood here, is, after having inspired the Hebrews with the dread of him, as judge, to encourage and console them by the consideration of the confidence which his character as Priest is calculated to inspire.
Heb 4:15 For we have not a high priest who cannot have compassion on our infirmities: but one tempted in all things like as we are, without sin.
We should not despond on account of our past infirmities; for, we have not a High Priest, who is insensible to, and incapable of, compassionating our infirmities; but one who, having experienced all our infirmities, except sin, and having been tried like us, is most suited to have compassion on us.
Lest the majesty of so great a High Priest should awe them, the Apostle says, he is capable of sympathizing in our infinnities, having been himself tried in all things like us, and having suffered all the miseries common to our nature, except sin. He endured hunger, thirst, lassitude, fear, sorrow—nay, even death; in a word, all the miseries common to our nature (sin excepted). He suffered these evils which are purely penal, and temptations from the world and from the devil, but not from the flesh.
Heb 4:16 Let us go therefore with confidence to the throne of grace: that we may obtain mercy and find grace in seasonable aid.
Let us, therefore, approach with confidence the throne of grace, that we may obtain forgiveness of our sins, and find the abundance of divine grace, by which we may be aided in the time of necessity, i.e., during our entire lives.
Having, therefore, a most powerful High Priest, who is after penetrating the true Holy of Holies, heaven, and a most merciful High Priest, who has experienced our common infirmities, let us with confidence approach the throne of grace, relying on such an intercessor, that we may obtain the merciful forgiveness of sin, and find the abundance of grace to aid us in the time of necessity, that is to say, while we are in this world; for, we want the aid of grace during the entire course of our lives. “Seasonable aid.” The Greek word for aid, βοηθειαν, denotes assistance obtained, as the result of crying aloud for it.