Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Hebrews 5:8-14 - On the knowledge of Christ

The second half of Hebrews 5 takes us to the relevance of Melchizedek, but also reinforces some important doctrinal points relating to the knowledge of Christ (a key source of heresy in our day).

Hebrews 5:8-9
Son of God though he was, he learned obedience in the school of suffering,and now, his full achievement reached, he wins eternal salvation for all those who render obedience to him.
Et quidem cum esset Filius Dei, didicit ex iis, quæ passus est, obedientiam: et consummatus, factus est omnibus obtemperantibus sibi, causa salutis æternæ, 
Aquinas:

Christ's compassion: He says, therefore: I have stated that a high priest should be such as to be able to have compassion. But Christ is such a high priest. For since He is the Son of God from all eternity, and, therefore, could not suffer or have compassion, He assumed a nature in which He would suffer and even have compassion.

Christ's knowledge: And this is what He says, namely, although he was a Son from all eternity, He learned obedience from time. But only the ignorant can learn; whereas Christ, being God from all eternity, had fullness of knowledge from the very instant of His conception as man. Therefore, He was not ignorant of anything; consequently, He could not learn. I answer that knowledge is of two sorts: the first is that of simple recognition, according to which the objection is valid, because He was not ignorant of anything. But there is also the knowledge gained by experience, according to which He learned obedience; hence, he says, He learned obedience through what he suffered, i.e., experienced.

The difficulty of learning obedience: ...Christ accepted our weakness voluntarily; consequently, he says that ‘he learned obedience’, i.e., how difficult it is to obey, because He obeyed in the most difficult matters, even to the death of the cross. This shows how difficult the good of obedience is, because those who have not experienced obedience and have not learned it in difficult matters, believe that obedience is very easy. But in order to know what obedience is, one must learn to obey in difficult matters, and one who has not learned to subject himself by obeying does not know how to rule others well. Therefore, although Christ knew by simple recognition what obedience is, He nevertheless learned obedience from the things He suffered, i.e., from difficult things, by suffering and dying: ‘By the obedience of one many shall be made just'.

Full achievement: ...In Christ the fruit was glorification; hence, he says, and being made perfect, for from the instant of His conception He was perfectly consummated as to the happiness of His soul, inasmuch as it was drawn to God; but he still had a nature that could suffer, although after His Passion He could not suffer. Therefore, because in this respect He was altogether perfect, He could perfect others. For it is the nature of a perfect thing to be able to engender its like.

Hebrews 5:10 -
A high priest in the line of Melchisedech, so God has called him.
appellatus a Deo pontifex juxta ordinem Melchisedech.
 Aquinas:

In the order of Melchisedek: As man He also receives the high priesthood from God: as he says also in another place: ‘You are a priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek’. But the Apostle uses the authority of the Palms as being more famous and more often consulted. He says, priest, because He offered Himself to God the Father: ‘He loved us and gave himself for us an oblation and offering to God’. But lest anyone suppose the priesthood of Christ is that of the Old Law, he distinguishes the former on two points: first, its authority, because it is for ever, whereas the other was temporary and passed away with the coming of the One prefigured. Likewise, its victim has the power to bring one to eternal life, and it lasts for every. Secondly, its ritual, because animals were offered in the one, but bread and wine here; hence, he says, according to the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 5:11-12a -
Of Christ as priest we have much to say, and it is hard to make ourselves understood in the saying of it, now that you have grown so dull of hearing. You should, after all this time, have been teachers yourselves, and instead of that you need to be taught; taught even the first principles on which the oracles of God are based. 
 De quo nobis grandis sermo, et ininterpretabilis ad dicendum: quoniam imbecilles facti estis ad audiendum. Etenim cum deberetis magistri esse propter tempus, rursum indigetis ut vos doceamini quæ sint elementa exordii sermonum Dei: 
Aquinas:

About this we have much to say: ‘Hear, for I will speak of great things’. They are great, because they deal with the salvation of souls..:it cannot be perfectly explained, for no words can express the things of Christ: ‘Glorify the Lord as much as you ever can, for he will yet far exceed, and his magnificence is wonderful. Blessing the Lord, exalt him as much as you can, for he is above all praise’...

Culpable slowness: For it is a sin, when a person has listened a long time, if he is still slow; but not if he is a recent hearer. For negligence is not without sin; hence, he says, for though by this time you ought to be teachers, namely, of others, for this time during which they had heard the law and the prophets: ‘Search the Scriptures, for you thing in them to have life everlasting’...

Teachers: ...you need someone to teach you again the first principles of God’s word. For the principles are the first things taught in grammar, i.e., the letters themselves. Therefore, the beginnings of the words of God, the first principles and elements, are the articles of faith and the precepts of the Decalogue. If a person, therefore, had studied theology a long time and failed to learn these, time would be running against him.

Hebrews 12b-14:
You have gone back to needing milk, instead of solid food. Those who have milk for their diet can give no account of what holiness means; how should they? They are only infants. Solid food is for the full-grown; for those whose faculties are so trained by exercise that they can distinguish between good and evil.
et facti estis quibus lacte opus sit, non solido cibo. Omnis enim, qui lactis est particeps, expers est sermonis justitiæ: parvulus enim est. Perfectorum autem est solidus cibus: eorum, qui pro consuetudine exercitatos habent sensus ad discretionem boni ac mali.
Aquinas:

Sacred doctrine is, as it were, the food of the soul: ‘With the bread of life and understanding she shall feed him’ and in: ‘They that eat me shall yet hunger, and they that drink me shall yet thirst.’ Sacred doctrine, therefore, is food and drink, because it nourishes the soul. For the other sciences only enlighten the soul, but this one enlighten...

Milk for children: But in bodily food there is a difference: for children make use of one food and the perfect of another. For children use milk as being thinner and more connatural and easily digestible; but adults use more solid food. So in Sacred Scripture, those who are beginners should listen to easy things, which are like milk; but the learned should hear more difficult things...And this is what follows, and not solid food, i.e., lofty doctrine, which is concerned with the mysteries and secrets of God, which strengthen and confirm.

Adult fodder: But the Apostle had delivered many difficult things to them, namely, the mystery of the Trinity and the sacrament of the Incarnation, and many other lofty things...For this is evident in bodily food: when a man reaches maturity, he uses stronger and nobler and more solid food. But a spiritual man, when he has reached spiritual perfection, should have a more solid doctrine proposed to him.

Types of perfection: But perfection is of two kinds: one is perfection of intellect, when a person has the wisdom to discern and judge correctly about matters proposed to him; the other is perfection of love, which charity produces, and it is present when a person adheres entirely to God. Hence, after laying down the precepts of charity, the Lord continues: ‘Be you, therefore, perfect, as your heavenly father is perfect’... And because the things taught in Sacred Scripture pertain to the will and not only to the intellect, a person must be perfect in both. Consequently, the Apostle, desiring to show who are the mature, to whom solid food should be given, says that they are the ones who have their faculties trained...

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