Hebrews 4:14

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, etc.

I. THE DUTY TO WHICH WE ARE SUMMONED. "Let us hold fast our confession," i.e. of the Christian faith.

1. Danger of renouncing this confession is implied. We have already pointed out that these Hebrew Christians were in considerable peril in this respect. This danger arises

(1) from opposition from without; or

(2) from subtle solicitation, which is more to be dreaded than opposition; or

(3) from negligence on our part.

2. Effort to retain this compression is enjoined. "Let us hold fast our confession." This includes:

(1) Perseverance in the Christian faith; a resolute cleaving to Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.

(2) Perseverance in the Christian fellowship; association with Christian people; frequenting Christian assemblies.

(3) Perseverance in the Christian practice; the continued embodiment of Christ's precepts in the life and conduct. This demands effort; e.g. watching, praying, believing, working.

II. THE MOTIVE BY WHICH WE ARE STRENGTHENED. These Hebrew Christians were encouraged to hold fast their confession because they had in Jesus Christ a perfect High Priest. The preeminence of his priesthood is adduced as a motive to their perseverance, and to ours.

1. He is pre-eminent in his office. "A great High Priest." As Alford expounds, the "one archetypal High Priest - One above all."

2. He is pre-eminent in his access. "Who hath passed through the heavens." The Jewish high priest passed behind the veil into the most holy place; but the great High Priest has passed through "the planetary heavens, the heavens of the fixed stars and the angels," unto the very presence and throne of God. "He is gone," says Ebrard, "into the dwelling-place in space of the absolute, finished, absolutely undisturbed revelation of the Father." And he is there as our Representative, and as our Forerunner. This implies the perfection of his work upon earth (cf. Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 9:12, 24-26).

3. He is pre-eminent in his Person. "Jesus the Son of God." Jesus, the gracious and sympathetic Savior of men. "The Son of God," supreme in dignity, authority, and power. Here, then, is a motive to strengthen us to "hold fast our confession." Our great High Priest is perfect; he knows our difficulties and temptations; he sympathizes with us; he succors us; he is now in the presence of God on our behalf; "he ever liveth to make intercession for us," Let his sympathy and help inspire us to fidelity and perseverance. - W.J.

A great High Priest.

1. It is an argument for steadfastness in the Christian life.

(1)The fact that Christ is our Priest (ver. 14).

(2)That heaven is the sphere of the exercise of His priesthood.

2. It is an encouragement to the faith of the believer.

(1)Because of the sympathy of our great High Priest (ver. 15).

(2)Because of His personal experience of temptations.

(3)Because of His sinlessness.

(4)Believing prayer under such circumstances cannot be denied,


1. The priest must be taken from among men (Hebrews 5:1).

2. The priest was ordained to offer sacrifices to God.

3. The priest was ordained to be ready to sympathise with the unfortunate and wretched (Hebrews 5:2).

4. The priest was not self-appointed (Hebrews 5:4).

5. But the change in the order of priesthood in our Lord's case is most suggestive and significant. It implies —

(1)Perfection (Hebrews 7:11-19).

(2)Perpetuity (Hebrews 7:20-25).

(3)That Christ alone could meet such requirements (Hebrews 7:26). Lessons:

1. The priesthood of Christ implies Divine qualities.

2. The sphere of the priesthood of Christ ensures the finished work as Redeemer.

3. The priesthood of Christ guarantees all-sufficient sympathy, assistance, and ultimate salvation.

(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)


1. This is clear, if we consider the circumstances in which our first parents placed themselves.

2. It is implied in the Divine institution of sacrifices and of the order of priesthood.

3. It is expressly taught in Holy Scripture.

4. It is confirmed by the almost universal practice of heathen nations.


1. His greatness.

2. His goodness.

III. THE PARTICULAR MANNER IN WHICH WE, AS INDIVIDUALS, ARE TO DERIVE THE BENEFITS DESIGNED TO BE CONVEYED BY THE MEDIATION OF OUR LORD. "Let us come to the throne" — in other words, let us come to God — to Him who sits upon the throne. This implies, of course, a previous conviction of our being separated from God, and of the necessity of our return.

(J. Crowther.)

1. He giveth them a direction for entering into their rest; to hold fast their profession; that is, in faith and love to avow the doctrine of Christ.(1) Then he that would enter into rest must be steadfast in maintaining and avowing the true religion of Christ.(2) He who quitteth the profession of the truth of Christ taketh courses to cut off himself from God's rest. For if we deny Christ He will deny us.

2. He commandeth to hold fast our profession. Then —(1) God will not be pleased with backsliding, or coldness, or indifference in matters of religion, because this is not to hold it fast; but to take a loose hold, which is the ready way to defection.(2) There is danger lest our adversaries pull the truth from us.(3) The more danger we foresee, the more strongly must we hold the truth.

3. The encouragement which He giveth to hold fast is, We have Christ a great High Priest, &c. Then —(1) As we have need of threatening, to drive us to enter into God's rest, so have we need of encouragements to draw us thereunto.(2) All our encouragement is from the help which we shall have in Christ, and that is sufficient.(3) Christ is always for us in His office, albeit we do not always feel Him sensibly in us.

4. He calleth Christ a great High Priest, to put difference betwixt the typical high priest and Him in whom the truth of the priesthood is found. Then what the typical high priest did in show for the people, that the great High Priest doth in substance for us; that is, reconcileth us to God perfectly, blesseth us with all blessings solidly, and intercedeth for us perpetually.

5. He affirmeth of Christ, that He is passed into heaven; to wit, in regard of tits manhood, to take possession thereof in our name. Then —(1) Christ's corporal presence is in heaven only, and not on earth, from whence He is passed.(2) Christ's corporal presence in heaven, and absence from us in that respect, hindereth not our right unto Him, and spiritual having or possessing of Him.(3) Yea, it is our encouragement to seek entry into heaven, that He is there before us.

6. He calleth Him Jesus the Son of God; to lead us through His humanity unto His Godhead. Then no rest on the Mediator till we go to the rock of His Godhead, where is strength and satisfaction to faith.

(D. Dickson, M. A.)

I. THE PRIESTLY DIGNITY OF JESUS. "Seeing, then, that we have a great High Priest."

1. Christ is a Priest. The term signifies one who ministers in holy things. The priests under the law were distinguished as follows —

(1)They were appointed of God.

(2)Separated to their office and work at a peculiar time.

(3)Consecrated with the washing of water and anointing oil.

(4)Had peculiar apparel and ornaments; the robe, the mitre, and the breast-plate.

(5)They taught the people.

(6)Offered sacrifices.

(7)And burned incense before the Lord. It will easily be seen bow strikingly all these exhibited the character and work of Jesus.

2. Christ is a High Priest. Now the high priest was distinguished from the other priests —

(1)As he was appealed to on all important occasions, and decided all controversies.

(2)He offered the great annual sacrifice.

(3)He only entered into the holiest of all once a year.

(4)He offered the annual intercessory prayer, and came forth and blessed the people in the name of the Lord.

3. Christ is the Great High Priest. Now Jesus is infinitely greater than the high priests of old.

(1)In the dignity of His person. He is the Son of God, Heir of all things, Lord of all.

(2)In the purity of His nature. "Holy, harmless, and separate from sinners." "Without spot."

(3)In the value and efficacy of His sacrifice. An equivalent for the world's guilt. Only once offered, and for all sins.

(4)In the unchangeable perpetuity of His office. "A priest for ever." "An unchangeable priesthood" (Hebrews 7:24). He had no direct predecessor, and He shall have no successor. "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever."

II. HIS HIGH EXALTATION. "Who is passed into the heavens."

1. The place into which He is exalted. "The heavens." Represented of old by the holiest of all. Described by Jesus as His Father's house.

2. The manner of His exaltation. "He passed into the heavens."

(1)According to His own predictions.

(2)While in the act of blessing His disciples.

(3)Visibly, and with great splendour.

3. The great end of His exaltation.

(1)To enjoy the rewards of His sufferings and toils (Philippians 2:6, 8, 9).

(2)To appear before God as the intercessor of His Church.

(3)To carry on His mediatorial designs. Hence, He is to subdue His foes, prolong His days, see His seed, and witness the travail of His soul until He is satisfied.

(4)To abide as the Mediator between God and men to the end of the Christian state. Now God only treats with us by and through Jesus. And He is the only way of access to the Father (John 14:6; Hebrews 9:28).


1. The profession referred to. It is a profession of faith and hope in Christ, and of love and obedience to Him.

2. This profession must be maintained. Held fast, not abandoned. We shall be tempted, tried, persecuted. Our profession may cost us our property, liberty, lives. This profession must be held fast by the exercise of vigorous faith, constant love, and cheerful obedience.

(1)For Christ's sake. Whose we are, and whom we serve.

(2)For the profession's sake; that Christ's cause may not be injured, and His people cast down.

(3)Especially for our own sake. It is only thus we can retain Divine acceptance, peace, joy, and the sure prospect of eternal life.Application:

1. Christ's example is the model of our steadfastness.

2. Christ's exaltation should be the exciting attraction to steadfastness.

3. Christ's intercession will always provide the grace necessary to "our holding fast our profession."

(J. Burns, D. D.)

This book presents an ideal of Christ as a reconciler. Of what? It has been said that man was reconciled to God. That is correct. Men are reconciled to the law of God, but that is vagneness itself. Christ is a reconciler by revealing to us what is the real interior nature of perfectness, and what bearing it has upon imperfectness. The experience of noble souls is that discord prevails, and that with the struggle there can be no peace. There may be peace by lowering the ideal of our range of attainment, or by indifference and discouragement, but not by vital stress and strife can men have peace, when they are obliged every day to see that they come short, not of the law in its entirety and purity, but in their own conceptions in regard to single lines of conduct. Men all around are resolving to do the right and are eternally coming short of it, and then they say: "How under the sun am I going to face God! I cannot face my neighbour." The reason is, that your neighbour is not God. There is a view of God that while it intensifies the motives for righteousness, encourages men who are unrighteous, and brings about a reconcilaiation between these constantly antagonising experiences in the human bosom. It is to such that this experience of Christ is presented. Jesus Christ is the spotless High Priest who offered Himself once for all mankind. He came forth and lived among men, and He knows what their tears and struggles are, what their temptations and difficulties. Every faculty that is found in a human being was found in Christ, and yet He was without sin. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Do not come to a man who is conscious of his own infirmities, for he would not help you; but come to that Being who is conscious of absolute purity, and from whom you will get higher sympathy and a quicker succour. The moral perfectness of Christ develops sympathy for the sinful. It needed something like this in that age when the better men were the worst men, men whose righteousness was finished off by an enamel of selfishness, the men whose temperance made them hate drunkards, the men whose honesty made them hate men of slippery fingers, the men whose dried up passions made them scorn the harlot, the men who had money enough and abominated the tax-gatherers. Christ does not set Himself up on a throne apart, and say, "I am pure," but says that because He is perfect He has an infinite sympathy with and compassion for the sinful and fallen. The supreme truth that we need to know is that God is determined to bring the human race on and up out of animalism and the lowest forms of barbarism to the highest degree of intellectual and spiritual development. That is the eternal purpose of God, and in that great work He will deal with the human family with such tenderness and gentleness that He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax, nor blow out the wick which He has just kindled, and He will not stop until He brings forth judgment unto victory. I think sometimes that the greatest attribute of God is patience, and one of the greatest illustrations of patience of the same kind in men is that of the music Leacher, who takes a boy to teach him the violin, and hears him and bears with him through days, and through weeks, and through months and through years, and then has to take another and go right on the same way again. Or the artist who sees his pupil smudging a canvas, and tries to teach him the whole theory of colour, and tries to develop his ideality. Any parent, teacher, musician, artist, or any one else is obliged to go upon the theory God acts on — namely, that the higher you are the more you owe, and can give, to those who are lower; and if you are going to be instrumental in bringing them up, you have got to carry their burthens and their sorrows and to wait for them, and be patient with them. It is the law of creation, and if it is the law of creation in all its minor and ruder developments among mankind, its supreme strength and scope for beauty is in the nature of Himself. Look at the sun, the symbol of God. It carries in itself all trees and all bushes, and all vines, and all orchards, and all gardens. It sows the seed and brings the summer; and the outpouring of the vital light and heat of the sun makes it the father of all husbandmen and all pomologists. And yet God's nature is greater than that. He is the life of life; He is the heart of hearts; He is the soul of souls; and the grandeur of His endowments is the life of mankind. Cast away all the old mediaeval notions of reconciliation, the mechanical scheme of atonement and plan of salvation, and all those lower forms. They stand between you and the bright light of the God revealed in Jesus Christ, a God who has patience with sin because He is sinless, who has patience with infirmity because He has no infirmities, who has patience with weakness and ignorance because He is supremely wise and supremely strong. Our hope is in God, and our life ought to be godly. Though we be faint or feeble, He will revive our courage and will give us His strength, and it will not be in vain that we endeavour to serve the Lord.

(H. W. Beecher.)

The first important word is the epithet "great" prefixed to the title High Priest. It is introduced to make the priestly office of Christ assume due importance in the minds of the Hebrews. As an author writing a treatise on an important theme writes the title of the theme in letters fitted to attract notice, so this writer places at the head of the ensuing portion this title, "Jesus the Son of God the Great High Priest," insinuating thereby that He of whom he speaks is the greatest of all priests, the only real priest, the very ideal of priesthood realised. The expression "passed through the heavens" is also very suggestive. It hints at the right construction to be put upon Christ's departure from the earth. There is an obvious allusion to the entering of the high priest of Israel within the veil on the great day of atonement; and the idea suggested is, that the ascension of Christ was the passing of the great High Priest through the veil into the celestial sanctuary, as our representative and in our interest. The name given to the great High Priest, "Jesus the Son of God," contributes to the argument. Jesus is the historical person, the tempted Man; and this part of the name lays the foundation for what is to be said in the following sentence concerning His power to sympathise. The title, "Son of God," on the other hand, justifies what has been already said of the High Priest of our confession. If our High Priest be the Son of God, He may well be called the Great, and moreover there can be no doubt whither He has gone. Whither but to His native abode, His Father's house? Having thus by brief, pregnant phrase hinted the thoughts he means to prove, our author proceeds to address to his readers an exhortation, which is repeated at the close of the long discussion on the priesthood of Christ to which these sentences are the prelude (Hebrews 10:19-23). In doing so he gives prominence to that feature of Christ's priestly character of which alone he has as yet spoken explicitly: His power to sympathise, acquired and guaranteed by His experience of temptation (Hebrews 2:17, 18). It is noteworthy that the doctrine of Christ's sympathy is here stated in a defensive, apologetic manner, "We have not a High Priest who cannot be touched," as if there were some one maintaining the contrary. This defensive attitude, may be conceived of as assumed over against two possible objections to the reality of Christ's sympathy, one drawn from His dignity as the Son of God, the other from His sinlessness. Both objections are dealt with in the only way open to one who addresses weak faith — viz., not by elaborate or philosophical argument, but by strong assertion. As the Psalmist said to the desponding, "Wait, I say, on the: Lord," and as Jesus said to disciples doubting the utility of prayer, "I say unto you, Ask, and ye shall receive," so our author says to dispirited Christians, "We have not a High Priest who cannot be touched with sympathy" — this part of his assertion disposing of doubt engendered by Christ's dignity — "but one who has been tempted in all respects as we are, apart from sin" — this part of the assertion meeting doubt based on Christ's sinlessness. To this strong assertion of Christ's power to sympathise is fitly appended the final exhortation. Specially noteworthy are the words, "Let us approach confidently." They have more than practical import: they are of theoretic significance; they strike the doctrinal keynote of the Epistle: Christianity the religion of free access. There is a latent contrast between Christianity and Leviticalism. The contrast is none the less real that the expression " to draw near" was applied to acts of worship under the Levitical system. Every act of worship in any religion whatever may be called an approach to Deity. Nevertheless religions may be wide apart as the poles in respect to the measure in which they draw near to God. In one religion the approach may be ceremonial only, while the spirit stands afar off in fear. In another, the approach may be spiritual, with mind and heart, in intelligence, trust, and love, and with the confidence which these inspire. Such an approach alone is real, and deserves to be called a drawing near to God. Such an approach was first made possible by Christ, and on this account it is that the religion which bears His name is the perfect, final, perennial religion.

(A. B. Bruce, D. D.)

Hold fast our profession.

1. A cordial assent to the whole of Scripture truth, and especially the testimony which God has given of His Son Christ Jesus.

2. A profession of practical conformity to the whole of God's revealed will.

3. The hope of eternal life and glory in heaven.


1. That we actually have this profession.

2. A just sense of its high value.

3. That we may be tempted to forsake it.

4. That we are called to the regular, uniform, constant exercise of it.

5. Perseverance to the end.


1. The person and character of Him who is its object.

2. Christ's office and relation to us.

3. The security afforded against our own weakness, and the malice of spiritual foes.

(H. Hunter.)


1. Attachment to the person of Christ.

2. Dependence on the work of Christ.

3. Devotedness to the service of Christ.


1. By avowing in God's ordinances your attachment to the person, reliance on the work, and devotedness to the service of Christ.

2. By a consistent life.

(W. Cadman, M. A.)

I. THE EXHORTATION TO STEADFASTNESS IN OUR CHRISTIAN PROFESSION. By "our profession "we are sometimes to understand that which we profess, or the subject of our profession. In Hebrews 3:1, the term evidently means the holy religion which we profess. But the term applies to the act also. This is its import in that other passage, "let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering." There are in what is called "the Christian world" two kinds of professors.

1. All nominal Christians. All who say that they are disciples of Christ; all who wish it to be understood that they have embraced the faith. Such persons may with propriety be exhorted to hold their profession fast: it is worthy of being held fast. And yet, if we do venture to remind such persons of the obligation arising from the very name they bear; if we point out any inconsistency in their conduct, the accusation is repelled with indignation, and they tell us they make no profession of religion. Now this —(1) Is singularly impudent and wicked. What would you think if the expression were applied to social life, to the duties which belong to a parent, a husband, a child, a subject, an honest man?(2) It is in most cases not true. They themselves, at other times, deny it; and they would be highly affronted if they thought any one supposed that they deny the Lord who bought them. They do call themselves Christians, and hence they ought to be careful to live and act as such. But there are in the world —

2. Those who profess to be Christians indeed. Now the profession of real Christians is distinguished from that which is nominal by these three marks.(1) It is Scriptural. He founds his belief on having discovered that it is the infallible Word of God; and he receives nothing but what in his conscience he believes to have this sanction, "Thus saith the Lord."(2) It is experimental. I mean to say that every Christian has, in his own experience, an evidence of the truth of the gospel. He has put its truths to the test: he has tried them in his own case, and found them to be sanctifying and saving.(3) It is practical. That is, the truth professed is not belied, but is borne out and appealed to by their conduct. Put these things together, and you will see how a real profession is distinguished from that which is merely nominal, It is scriptural, experimental, and practical: it is manifested by cheerfully doing, and patiently suffering the will of God. Such a profession as this we are commanded to "hold fast."

3. This command implies that we are in danger of renouncing our profession. And this danger arises from various causes. Satan, the great foe of God and the gospel, "goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he mar devour." Infidels and their associates having apostalised from the faith are aiming to seduce others to their guilt. The world too is a foe: by its smiles it would often allure, by its frowns it would often deter from steadfastness. Last, but not least, are the foes of our own household; a heart that is deceitful, and which is not fully renewed, will betray us into the hands of our outward enemies, so that we shall lose our peace at the last.

4. "Let us hold fast our profession," says the apostle. Be valiant for the truth.(1) Hold fast the simplicity of evangelical doctrine. Stand fast in one spirit, "earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to the saints."(2) Hold it fast in an evangelical experience of its blessings.(3) Hold it fast by the practice of all that is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report.(4) Hold fast by a public profession of the gospel, the truths in which you thus believe — the privileges you thus profess to enjoy — the duties you profess to exemplify. Thus give to every man "a reason of the hope that is in you."

II. THE MOTIVE TO THIS DERIVED FROM HE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. "We have a great High Priest," greater than any under the law. Many grounds of superiority to any who went before Him might be adduced.

1. Because of the place in which He ministers. He is at the right hand of the Majesty on high. He who is our Friend, the best Friend we ever had, who has given us such tokens of His love and kindness, is in that place where best of all He can serve our cause! Our High Priest can never be at a loss for a place in which to minister; He can never be at a loss for want of access to His Father and our Father, to His God and our God. He ever liveth to make intercession where He can make it with the greatest certainty of success.

2. Because of the more substantial benefits derived from the exercise of His office. Aaron was God's high priest, but he was not a Saviour; his successors were God's high priests, but they were not Jesus; they could not save from sin. But Jesus our great High Priest can redeem from all iniquity; and " He is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him." Greater —

3. Because of the superior dignity of His original nature and character, "The Son of God." As the Son of God He was sinless. There was no guilty spot upon His soul, though He was made a sacrifice for sin. He, therefore, is all our own; He was cut off for us, to finish our transgression, to make reconciliation for our iniquity. As the Son of God He is also necessarily immortal. Death could never have had any claim on Him after He took our nature into conjunction with the Divine, but by His own consent; He willingly laid it down, as an act of infinite benevolence to that world, whose cause He sustained. As the Son of God He can die no more, but liveth for ever. And oh, what a mercy in such a dying world as this, where so many are taken away from us, to be able to lift up our eyes to heaven, and be able to commit our concerns to this immortal and never-dying Redeemer! But wherein consists the force of all this as a motive to steadfastness in the Christian profession? Why —(1) For this reason we ought to hold fast the profession of Christianity. It is the priesthood of Christ that confers the crowning excellence on Christianity.(2) But perhaps you say you have no intention to relinquish it; your only fear is that you shall not be able to hold it fast. You feel such powerful temptations, you are surrounded by so many adversaries, that you fear that in some dark and cloudy day you shall become their prey. And so you would if you were left to yourselves, if you depended on your own power. But you are not left to yourselves, the Gospel tells you that you have a great High Priest. You can hold fast your profession: the priesthood of Christ renders this practicable.

(J. Bunting, M. A.)

Our High Priest is a mighty one, able to punish us if we shrink from our profession, and of power to protect us from all our enemies if we stick to Him; therefore let us hold last our profession. The doctrine professed by us; let no enemies drive us from our profession, neither Satan, nor any of his instruments. The Pharisees held fast the traditions of their elders and would not be removed from them (Mark 7:3). The Turks are wonderfully addicted to Mahomet, he is a great prophet among them, they will not let him go. And shall not we hold the profession of the Lord Jesus? They hold errors fast, and shall not we the truth? The subject of their profession, counterfeit things, mere inventions of men, lies and fables. The subject of our profession is Jesus Christ the Son of God. Therefore us hold it fast; let neither the syrenical songs of heretics and schismatics in the time of peace, nor the blustering wind of persecution in the time of war pull us from our confession. Let us be faithful to the death as the martyrs were; let house and land, wives and children, liberty and country — yea, our lives — go before our profession. But this is a hard matter; we have no strength of ourselves to hold it against so many strong and mighty enemies. Therefore let us all fear ourselves and fly to God for strength, that it would please Rim so to strengthen us by His Holy Spirit, that we may hold fast the profession of Christ and His gospel to the end: "Hold that which thou hast, lest another take thy crown." We will hold our money fast though it be to good uses, we will not part with that; but as for religion, a number are at this pass, the, care not what becomes of it; let that go whither it will, so we may sleep in a whole skin and keep that which we have; let come what religion there will, we can be of any religion. Such turncoats and timeservers shall never set a foot in the kingdom of heaven. If we hold not our profession last we shall miss of the crown of eternal life.

(W. Jones, D. D.)

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