New International Version
During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
King James Bible
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;
Darby Bible Translation
Who in the days of his flesh, having offered up both supplications and entreaties to him who was able to save him out of death, with strong crying and tears; (and having been heard because of his piety;)
World English Bible
He, in the days of his flesh, having offered up prayers and petitions with strong crying and tears to him who was able to save him from death, and having been heard for his godly fear,
Young's Literal Translation
who in the days of his flesh both prayers and supplications unto Him who was able to save him from death -- with strong crying and tears -- having offered up, and having been heard in respect to that which he feared,
Hebrews 5:7 Parallel
CommentaryClarke's Commentary on the Bible
Who in the days of his flesh - The time of his incarnation, during which he took all the infirmities of human nature upon him, and was afflicted in his body and human soul just as other men are, irregular and sinful passions excepted.
Offered up prayers and supplications - This is one of the most difficult places in this epistle, if not in the whole of the New Testament. The labors of learned men upon it have been prodigious; and even in their sayings it is hard to find the meaning.
I shall take a general view of this and the two following verses, and then examine the particular expressions.
It is probable that the apostle refers to something in the agony of our Lord, which the evangelists have not distinctly marked.
The Redeemer of the world appears here as simply man; but he is the representative of the whole human race. He must make expiation for sin by suffering, and he can suffer only as man. Suffering was as necessary as death; for man, because he has sinned, must suffer, and because he has broken the law, should die. Jesus took upon himself the nature of man, subject to all the trials and distresses of human nature. He is now making atonement; and he begins with sufferings, as sufferings commence with human life; and he terminates with death, as that is the end of human existence in this world. Though he was the Son of God, conceived and born without sin, or any thing that could render him liable to suffering or death, and only suffered and died through infinite condescension; yet, to constitute him a complete Savior, he must submit to whatever the law required; and therefore he is stated to have learned Obedience by the things which he suffered, Hebrews 5:8, that is, subjection to all the requisitions of the law; and being made perfect, that is, having finished the whole by dying, he, by these means, became the author of eternal salvation to all them who obey him, Hebrews 5:9; to them who, according to his own command, repent and believe the Gospel, and, under the influence of his Spirit, walk in holiness of life. "But he appears to be under the most dreadful apprehension of death; for he offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, unto him that was able to save him from death, Hebrews 5:7." I shall consider this first in the common point of view, and refer to the subsequent notes. This fear of death was in Christ a widely different thing from what it is in men; they fear death because of what lies beyond the grave; they have sinned, and they are afraid to meet their Judge. Jesus could have no fear on these grounds: he was now suffering for man, and he felt as their expiatory victim; and God only can tell, and perhaps neither men nor angels can conceive, how great the suffering and agony must be which, in the sight of infinite Justice, was requisite to make this atonement. Death, temporal and eternal, was the portion of man; and now Christ is to destroy death by agonizing and dying! The tortures and torments necessary to effect this destruction Jesus Christ alone could feel, Jesus Christ alone could sustain, Jesus Christ alone can comprehend. We are referred to them in this most solemn verse; but the apostle himself only drops hints, he does not attempt to explain them: he prayed; he supplicated with strong crying and tears; and he was heard in reference to that which he feared. His prayers, as our Mediator, were answered; and his sufferings and death were complete and effectual as our sacrifice. This is the glorious sum of what the apostle here states; and it is enough. We may hear it with awful respect; and adore him with silence whose grief had nothing common in it to that of other men, and is not to be estimated according to the measures of human miseries. It was: -
A weight of wo, more than whole worlds could bear.
I shall now make some remarks on particular expressions, and endeavor to show that the words may be understood with a shade of difference from the common acceptation.
Prayers and supplications, etc. - There may be an allusion here to the manner in which the Jews speak of prayer, etc. "Rabbi Yehudah said: All human things depend on repentance and the prayers which men make to the holy blessed God; especially if tears be poured out with the prayers. There is no gate which tears will not pass through." Sohar, Exod., fol. 5.
"There are three degrees of prayer, each surpassing the other in sublimity; prayer, crying, and tears: prayer is made in silence; crying, with a loud voice; but tears surpass all." Synops. Sohar, p. 33.
The apostle shows that Christ made every species of prayer, and those especially by which they allowed a man must be successful with his Maker.
The word ἱκετηριας, which we translate supplications, exists in no other part of the New Testament. Ἱκετης signifies a supplicant, from ἱκομαι, I come or approach; it is used in this connection by the purest Greek writers. Nearly the same words are found in Isocrates, De Pace: Ἱκετηριας πολλας και δεησεις ποιουμενοι. Making many supplications and prayers. Ἱκετηρια, says Suidas, καλειται ελαιας κλαδος, στεμματι εστεμμενος· - εστιν, ἡν οἱ δεομενοι κατατιθενται που, η μετα χειρας εχουσις· "Hiketeria is a branch of olive, rolled round with wool - is what suppliants were accustomed to deposite in some place, or to carry in their hands." And ἱκετης , hiketes, he defines to be, ὁ δουλοπρεπως παρακαλων, και δεομενος περι τινος ὁτουουν· "He who, in the most humble and servile manner, entreats and begs any thing from another." In reference to this custom the Latins used the phrase velamenta pratendere, "to hold forth these covered branches," when they made supplication; and Herodian calls them ἱκετηριας θαλλους, "branches of supplication." Livy mentions the custom frequently; see lib. xxv. cap. 25: lib. xxix. c. 16; lib. xxxv. c. 34; lib. xxxvi. c. 20. The place in lib. xxix. c. 16, is much to the point, and shows us the full force of the word, and nature of the custom. "Decem legati Locrensium, obsiti squalore et sordibus, in comitio sedentibus consulibus velamenta supplicium, ramos oleae (ut Graecis mos est), porrigentes, ante tribunal cum flebili vociferatione humi procubuerunt." "Ten delegates from the Locrians, squalid and covered with rags, came into the hall where the consuls were sitting, holding out in their hands olive branches covered with wool, according to the custom of the Greeks; and prostrated themselves on the ground before the tribunal, with weeping and loud lamentation." This is a remarkable case, and may well illustrate our Lord's situation and conduct. The Locrians, pillaged, oppressed, and ruined by the consul, Q. Plemmius, send their delegates to the Roman government to implore protection and redress they, the better to represent their situation, and that of their oppressed fellow citizens, take the hiketeria, or olive branch wrapped round with wool, and present themselves before the consuls in open court, and with wailing and loud outcries make known their situation. The senate heard, arrested Plemmius, loaded him with chains, and he expired in a dungeon. Jesus Christ, the representative of and delegate from the whole human race, oppressed and ruined by Satan and sin, with the hiketeria, or ensign of a most distressed suppliant, presents himself before the throne of God, with strong crying and tears, and prays against death and his ravages, in behalf of those whose representative he was; and he was heard in that he feared - the evils were removed, and the oppressor cast down. Satan was bound, he was spoiled of his dominion, and is reserved in chains of darkness to the judgment of the great day.
Every scholar will see that the words of the Roman historian answer exactly to those of the apostle; and the allusion in both is to the same custom. I do not approve of allegorizing or spiritualizing; but the allusion and similarity of the expressions led me to make this application. Many others would make more of this circumstance, as the allusion in the text is so pointed to this custom. Should it appear to any of my readers that I should, after the example of great names, have gone into this house of Rimmon, and bowed myself there, they will pardon their servant in this thing.
To save him from death - I have already observed that Jesus Christ was the representative of the human race; and have made some observations on the peculiarity of his sufferings, following the common acceptation of the words in the text, which things are true, howsoever the text may be interpreted. But here we may consider the pronoun αυτον, him, as implying the collective body of mankind; the children who were partakers of flesh and blood, Hebrews 2:14; the seed of Abraham, Hebrews 2:16, who through fear of death were all their life subject to bondage. So he made supplication with strong crying and tears to him who was able to save Them from death; for I consider the τουτους, them, of Hebrews 2:15, the same or implying the same thing as αυτον, him, in this verse; and, thus understood, all the difficulty vanishes away. On this interpretation I shall give a paraphrase of the whole verse: Jesus Christ, in the days of his flesh, (for he was incarnated that he might redeem the seed of Abraham, the fallen race of man), and in his expiatory sufferings, when representing the whole human race, offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, to him who was able to save Them from death: the intercession was prevalent, the passion and sacrifice were accepted, the sting of death was extracted, and Satan was dethroned.
If it should be objected that this interpretation occasions a very unnatural change of person in these verses, I may reply that the change made by my construction is not greater than that made between Hebrews 5:6 and Hebrews 5:7; in the first of which the apostle speaks of Melchisedec, who at the conclusion of the verse appears to be antecedent to the relative who in Hebrews 5:7; and yet, from the nature of the subject, we must understand Christ to be meant. And I consider, Hebrews 5:8, Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered, as belonging, not only to Christ considered in his human nature, but also to him in his collective capacity; i.e., belonging to all the sons and daughters of God, who, by means of suffering and various chastisements, learn submission, obedience and righteousness; and this very subject the apostle treats in considerable detail in Hebrews 12:2-11 (note), to which the reader will do well to refer.
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
in that he feared. or, for his piety.
LibraryThe Lesson of Life
Fifth Sunday in Lent. Chester Training College, 1870. Windsor Castle, 1871. Hebrews v. 7, 8. "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; though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered." This is the lesson of life. This is God's way of educating us, of making us men and women worthy of the name of men and women, worthy …
Charles Kingsley—All Saints' Day and Other Sermons
Our Compassionate High Priest
The Impossibility of Renewal.
I am first to give you some directions for bringing your people to submit to this course of catechizing and instruction.
For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."
He went away a second time and prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done."
About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" (which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?").
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
"Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."
Once more he went away and prayed the same thing.
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