Unit 28, Day 1: Hebrews 5–6

New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students, 2015


Introduction

The Apostle 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.

Hebrews 5

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

Imagine that an acquaintance writes the title Doctor on a piece of paper and attaches it to his shirt. Even though he would be wearing a label displaying the proper title, what concerns would you have if this person attempted to operate on you after you had been in an accident? What concerns would you have if he wore a label displaying the title Law Enforcement Officer and tried to give you a ticket for doing something wrong?

Why would you be reluctant to trust this person to perform the tasks associated with the titles he took upon himself?

Despite wearing a label with the proper title, this person would lack the needed authority and ability to perform those tasks. Just as society has established ways to obtain authority to carry out certain responsibilities, God has established a way to obtain His authority to carry out certain responsibilities in His Church. As you study Hebrews 5, look for the pattern God has established to obtain His authority.

The Apostle Paul described the Savior as “a great high priest” (Hebrews 4:14). Read Hebrews 5:1–3, looking for what Paul taught about the role of the high priest among the Israelites under the law of Moses.

“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 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”).

Read Hebrews 5:4, looking for how the high priest was to be chosen.

To understand how Aaron was “called of God” (Hebrews 5:4), read Exodus 28:1, which records an interaction that took place between God and Moses on Mount Sinai.

Consider why it is significant that God revealed Aaron’s call to Moses rather than to Aaron himself or someone else. Moses was the prophet and was, therefore, authorized to receive such revelation and to govern the use of the priesthood on earth.

From Paul’s instruction in Hebrews 5:4, we learn that those who are ordained to the priesthood must be called of God by revelation through His authorized servants. 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.

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

Read Articles of Faith 1:5, looking for how the preceding truth identified in Hebrews 5:4 and being “called of God, as was Aaron” is reflected in what the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote. Note that prophecy refers to revelation.

According to the fifth article of faith, along with being “called of God, by prophecy,” what else must occur for someone to be authorized “to preach the Gospel and administer in [its] ordinances”?

Moses Calls Aaron to the Ministry

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 6:5–6; 13:2–3; 1 Timothy 4:14).

  1. journal icon1.

    Answer one or both of the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. a.

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

    2. b.

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

Read Hebrews 5:5–6, looking for who gave the Savior His authority.

According to these verses, Heavenly Father gave the priesthood to His Son, Jesus Christ. He was to be “a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 5:6).

As an office in the Melchizedek Priesthood, the office of high priest “applies to Jesus Christ as the great High Priest. Adam and all the patriarchs were also high priests. Today, three presiding high priests form the Presidency of the Church and preside over all other priesthood holders and Church members. Additional worthy men are ordained high priests as appropriate throughout the Church today” (Guide to the Scriptures, “High Priest,” scriptures.lds.org).

Read Hebrews 5:7–10, and consider marking in verse 9 what Jesus Christ became. Verses 7–8 refer to Melchizedek, a prophet and king who lived during the time of Abraham.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that these verses “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” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 3:157).

  1. journal icon2.

    Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How is Jesus Christ “the author of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9) to all who obey Him?

As recorded in Hebrews 5:11–14, 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

God has promised His children blessings such as peace, happiness, forgiveness, answers to prayer, blessings included in patriarchal blessings, resurrection, and eternal life. Some of these blessings are conditional upon our choices.

What is one promised blessing you are looking forward to receiving?

As recorded in Hebrews 6, Paul encouraged the Saints to not give up striving for the Lord’s promised blessings. As you read this chapter, look for truths that can help you receive blessings God has promised.

Read Hebrews 6:1–3, looking for what Paul taught the Saints to work toward. Note 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). Joseph Smith Translation, Hebrews 6:3 (in the Bible appendix) states, “And we will go on unto perfection if God permit.”

To be perfect means to be spiritually mature or complete (see Guide to the Scriptures, “Perfect,” scriptures.lds.org). We read in Hebrews 6:1–2 that the first principles and ordinances of the gospel form the foundation we should build upon as we work toward perfection, or spiritual maturity.

As recorded in Hebrews 6:4–8, Paul described those who are referred to as sons of perdition—those who have a complete and perfect knowledge that Jesus is the Christ and then turn away from this truth and become enemies to God. Paul contrasted these individuals with the Saints whom he was addressing in this epistle, who labored in the name of Christ (see Hebrews 6:9–10).

Read Hebrews 6:11–15, looking for what Paul encouraged the Saints to do as they worked toward inheriting God’s promised blessings. It may help to know that the phrase “shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope” in verse 11 refers to being diligent until we receive God’s promised blessings.

Paul described Abraham as an example of diligence, faith, and patience in seeking God’s promised blessings. Abraham was 75 years old when God promised him posterity, and he then waited 25 years in faith for this promise to be fulfilled through the birth of Isaac. From Paul’s instruction we learn that through diligence to the end, faith in Jesus Christ, and patience, we can inherit the blessings God has promised.

  1. journal icon3.

    Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. a.

      Why do you think diligence, faith in Jesus Christ, and patience are important as we seek to receive God’s promised blessings?

    2. b.

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

As recorded in Hebrews 6:16–18, Paul taught that God will keep His promises and never lie. Therefore, we can have hope in His promises and be assured of their fulfillment.

Read Hebrews 6:19–20, looking for how our hope in God’s promises affects our lives.

One truth we can identify in Hebrews 6:19 is that our hope in God’s promises is a spiritual anchor for our souls. Hope is “the confident expectation of and longing for the promised blessings of righteousness” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Hope,” scriptures.lds.org).

  1. journal icon4.

    In your scripture study journal, draw a picture of an anchor. Consider what an anchor does for a ship. Write about how your hope in God’s promises has been a spiritual anchor for you.

Ponder how you can more fully develop diligence, faith, patience, and hope. You may want to record the impressions you receive in your personal journal.

  1. journal icon5.

    Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

    I have studied Hebrews 5–6 and completed this lesson on (date).

    Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: