Lesson 136

Hebrews 5–6

“Lesson 136: Hebrews 5–6,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)


Introduction

Paul taught that those who receive the priesthood must be called of God and that Jesus Christ was “called of God [to be] an high priest after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 5:10). Paul encouraged Church members to have diligence, faith, patience, and hope in obtaining God’s promises.

Suggestions for Teaching

Hebrews 5

Paul teaches that those who receive the priesthood must be called of God

Before class, write each of the following titles on a separate sheet of paper: Doctor and Law Enforcement Officer. Invite two students to come to the front of the class, and give each student one of the papers. Then ask the following questions:

  • Even though these students hold papers displaying the proper titles, what concerns would you have if [use the name of the student holding the “Doctor” paper] attempted to operate on you after you had been in an accident?

  • How would you respond if [use the name of the student holding the “Law Enforcement Officer” paper] tried to give you a ticket?

  • Why would you be reluctant to allow these students to perform the tasks associated with the titles they took upon themselves? (These students lack the authority and ability to perform those tasks.)

Explain that just as society has established necessary qualifications and ways to obtain authority to carry out certain responsibilities, God has established necessary qualifications (such as faithfulness and worthiness) and ways to obtain authority to carry out certain responsibilities in His Church. Invite students as they study Hebrews 5 to look for the pattern God has established for obtaining this authority.

Remind students that, as recorded in Hebrews 4:14–16, Paul described the Savior as “a great high priest” (verse 14). Invite a student to read Hebrews 5:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul taught about the role of the high priest among the Israelites.

  • What was the role of the high priest among the Israelites?

Explain that the office of high priest referred to in these verses was, under the law of Moses, the presiding office in the Aaronic Priesthood. Aaron, Moses’s brother, was “the first high priest of the Aaronic order.” The office was hereditary; after the time of Aaron, the high priest was selected from among the firstborn descendants of Aaron and his sons. The high priest usually served for the remainder of his life, but this office was eventually seized by wicked men. “High priests were inappropriately appointed and deposed at pleasure by Herod and the Romans alike. The office was filled by 28 different men between 37 B.C. and A.D. 68” (Bible Dictionary, “High priest”).

Invite a student to read Hebrews 5:4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the high priest was to be chosen.

  • How was the high priest to be chosen?

To help students understand how Aaron was “called of God” (verse 4), invite a student to read Exodus 28:1 aloud. Before the student reads this verse, explain that this interaction took place between God and Moses on Mount Sinai.

  • How was Aaron called of God to be ordained to the priesthood?

  • Why is it significant that the Lord gave this instruction to Moses rather than to someone else? (Moses was the prophet and was therefore authorized to receive such revelation and to govern the use of the priesthood on earth.)

  • What must occur in order for someone to be ordained to the priesthood? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following truth: Those who are ordained to the priesthood must be called of God by revelation through His authorized servants. You may want to explain that in the Church today, authorized priesthood leaders are to interview each candidate for ordination and seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost to determine a candidate’s readiness and worthiness to be ordained to the priesthood. See also John 15:16.)

  • How does this truth relate to the process of calling people to serve in positions in the Church?

Invite a student to read the fifth article of faith aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the truth they identified in Hebrews 5:4 is reflected in the fifth article of faith. Explain that prophecy refers to revelation.

  • According to this article of faith, what else must occur in order for someone to be authorized “to preach the Gospel and administer in [its] ordinances”?

Moses Gives Aaron the Priesthood

Display the picture Moses Gives Aaron the Priesthood (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 15; see also LDS.org). Point out that both the Old and New Testaments record that prophets, priesthood holders, and gospel teachers received their callings by the laying on of hands by an authorized priesthood holder (see Numbers 27:18–23; Acts 6:6; 13:2–3; 1 Timothy 4:14).

  • How does the process of calling people to positions in the Church today reflect the pattern that was established in the scriptures?

  • Why is it important to know that priesthood authority can be received only in this way?

Invite a student to read Hebrews 5:5–6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for who gave the Savior His authority. Point out that verse 5 quotes Psalm 2:7 and that verse 6 quotes Psalm 110:4.

  • Who gave the Savior His authority? (Heavenly Father.)

  • What priesthood does Jesus Christ hold? (The Melchizedek Priesthood. Point out that this priesthood was originally named after the Savior [see D&C 107:2–4].)

Invite a student to read Hebrews 5:7–10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Jesus Christ became. Explain that Hebrews 5:7–8 refers to Melchizedek, a prophet and king who lived during the time of Abraham. However, because Melchizedek was a type of Christ, these verses also relate to the Savior (see Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 3:157).

  • According to Hebrews 5:9, what did the Savior become?

  • How is Jesus Christ “the author of eternal salvation” to all who obey Him?

Summarize Hebrews 5:11–14 by explaining that Paul expressed a desire to teach more on this subject but said the people lacked the spiritual understanding and maturity to understand more advanced teachings.

Hebrews 6

The Saints are encouraged to have diligence, faith, patience, and hope in obtaining God’s promises

  • What are examples of blessings that God has promised to His children? (Possible answers include peace, happiness, forgiveness, answers to prayer, blessings included in patriarchal blessings, resurrection, and eternal life. Point out that some blessings are conditional upon our choices.)

  • What are examples of circumstances in which we might wonder whether we will ever receive a particular promised blessing?

Ask students to write in their scripture study journals or on a piece of paper a promised blessing they are looking forward to receiving. Invite them to look for truths in Hebrews 6 that can help them receive blessings God has promised.

Invite a student to read Hebrews 6:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul taught the Saints to work toward. Point out that Joseph Smith Translation, Hebrews 6:1 (in Hebrews 6:1, footnote a) states, “Therefore not leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ” (italics added) and that Joseph Smith Translation, Hebrews 6:3 (in the Bible appendix) states, “And we will go on unto perfection if God permit.”

  • According to verse 1, what did Paul teach the Saints to work toward? (Explain that perfection refers to the state of being “complete, whole, or fully developed. … True followers of Christ may become perfect through His grace and Atonement” [Guide to the Scriptures, “Perfect,” scriptures.lds.org].)

  • What doctrines mentioned in these verses form the foundation we should build upon as we work toward perfection?

Summarize Hebrews 6:4–8 by explaining that Paul described those who are sons of perdition, who have a perfect knowledge of God and then turn away from this truth, rebel against the Savior, and refuse to repent (see also D&C 29:44–45; 76:31–38). Paul contrasted these individuals with the faithful Saints that he was addressing in this epistle.

Invite students to read Hebrews 6:9–10 silently, looking for what Paul commended the Hebrew Saints for. Ask students to report what they find.

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Hebrews 6:11–15. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul desired of the Saints.

  • What did Paul desire of the Saints?

Explain that the phrase “shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope” (verse 11) refers to being diligent until we receive God’s promised blessings.

  • How was Abraham an example of diligence, faith, and patience in seeking God’s promised blessings?

  • What principle can we learn about what we must do to inherit the blessings God has promised? (Students may use different words but should identify the following principle: Through diligence to the end, faith in Jesus Christ, and patience, we can inherit the blessings God has promised. Write this principle on the board.)

Underline the words diligence, faith, and patience on the board. Ask students to define these words in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. After sufficient time, ask several students to report what they wrote.

  • What can be challenging about demonstrating these attributes?

  • Why do you think we need these attributes in order to “go on unto perfection”? (Hebrews 6:1).

  • When have you received a promised blessing through diligence, faith in Jesus Christ, and patience?

Invite a student to read Hebrews 6:16–20 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul taught about hope and God’s promises. You may need to explain that immutable (verse 18) means unchangeable.

  • What truth can we learn from Paul’s teachings about hope? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following truth: Our hope in God’s promises is a spiritual anchor for our souls. Write this truth on the board.)

Explain that as used in the scriptures, hope means “the confident expectation of and longing for the promised blessings of righteousness” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Hope,” scriptures.lds.org).

  • Based on Paul’s teachings about God in verses 17–18, why can we have confidence in God’s promises?

  • How can our hope in God’s promises help us to be diligent and patient and to have faith, particularly when we experience challenges?

drawing, anchor

Invite a student to draw a picture of an anchor on the board.

  • What does an anchor do for a ship?

  • How has your hope in God’s promises been a spiritual anchor for you?

Invite students to write a goal to more fully develop diligence, faith, patience, and hope. You might encourage them to begin by writing a plan for developing one of these attributes and then to focus on developing another one. Encourage them to apply what they wrote.

Commentary and Background Information

Hebrews 5:4. Receiving the priesthood

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught:

“We believe that no man can administer salvation through the gospel, to the souls of men, in the name of Jesus Christ, except he is authorized from God, by revelation, or by being ordained by some one whom God hath sent by revelation. … Hebrews 5:4 [states], ‘And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.’—And I would ask, how was Aaron called, but by revelation?” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 110; see also D&C 42:11).

Hebrews 5:7–8. Jesus Christ and Melchizedek

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:

“[Hebrews, chapter 5,] verses 7 and 8 apply to both Melchizedek and to Christ, because Melchizedek was a prototype of Christ and that prophet’s ministry typified and foreshadowed that of our Lord in the same sense that the ministry of Moses did. (Deut. 18:15–19; Acts 3:22–23; [3 Nephi 20:23; Joseph Smith—History 1:40].) Thus, though the words of these verses, and particularly those in the 7th verse, had original application to Melchizedek, they apply with equal and perhaps even greater force to the life and ministry of him through whom all the promises made to Melchizedek were fulfilled” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 3:157).

Hebrews 6:4–8. “They crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh”

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:

“Commission of the unpardonable sin consists in crucifying unto oneself the Son of God afresh and putting him to open shame. (Heb. 6:4–8; D. & C. 76:34–35.) To commit this unpardonable crime a man must receive the gospel, gain from the Holy Ghost by revelation the absolute knowledge of the divinity of Christ, and then deny ‘the new and everlasting covenant by which he was sanctified, calling it an unholy thing, and doing despite to the Spirit of grace.’ [Joseph Smith, in History of the Church, 3:232.] He thereby commits murder by assenting unto the Lord’s death, that is, having a perfect knowledge of the truth he comes out in open rebellion and places himself in a position wherein he would have crucified Christ knowing perfectly the while that he was the Son of God. Christ is thus crucified afresh and put to open shame. (D. & C. 132:27.)” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 816–17).