(Calvin, Paul to the Hebrews. part 7)

intimates that God will be inexorable to them, because they disregard the
only true way of being reconciled to him.
    He adds, "To help in time of need", or, for a seasonable help; that
is, if we desire to obtain all things necessary for our salvation. Now,
this seasonableness refers to the time of calling, according to those
words of Isaiah, which Paul accommodates to the preaching of the Gospel,
"Behold, now is the accepted time," &c., (Isa. 49: 8; 2 Cor. 6: 2;) for
the Apostle refers to that "today," during which God speaks to us. If we
defer hearing until tomorrow, when God is speaking to us today, the
unseasonable night will come, when what now may be done can no longer be
done; and we shall in vain knock when the door is closed.

Chapter 5

=====> 5:1 For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men
in things [pertaining] to God, that he may offer both gifts and
sacrifices for sins:
5:2 Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of
the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.
5:3 And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for
himself, to offer for sins.
5:4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of
God, as [was] Aaron.
5:5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but
he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.
5:6 As he saith also in another [place], Thou [art] a priest for ever
after the order of Melchisedec.

=====> 5:1. "For every high priest", &c. He compares Christ with the
Levitical priests, and he teaches us what is the likeness and the
difference between them; and the object of the whole discourse is, to
show what Christ's office really is, and also to prove that whatever was
ordained under the law was ordained on his account. Hence the Apostle
passes on at last to show that the ancient priesthood was abolished.
    He first says that the priests were "taken from among men"; secondly,
that they did not act a private part but for the whole people; thirdly,
that they were not to come empty to appease God, but furnished with
sacrifices; fourthly, that they were not to be exempt from human
infirmities, that they might more readily succour the distressed; and
lastly, that they were not presumptuously to rush into this office, and
that then only was the honour legitimate when they were chosen and
approved by God. We shall consider briefly each of these points.
    We must first, however, expose the ignorance of those who apply these
things to our time, as though there was at this day the same need of
priests to offer sacrifices; at the same time there is no necessity for a
long refutation. For what can be more evident than that the reality found
in Christ is compared with its types, which, being prior in time, have
now ceased? But this will appear more fully from the context. How
extremely ridiculous then are they who seek by this passage to establish
and support the sacrifice of the mass! I now return to the words of the
    "Taken from among men", &c. This he says of the priests. It hence
follows that it was necessary for Christ to be a real man; for as we are
very far from God, we stand in a manner before him in the person of our
priest, which could not be, were he not one of us. Hence, that the Son of
God has a nature in common with us, does not diminish his dignity, but
commends it the more to us; for he is fitted to reconcile us to God,
because he is man. Therefore Paul, in order to prove that he is a
Mediator, expressly calls him man; for had he been taken from among
angels or any other beings, we could not by him be united to God, as he
could not react down to us.
    "For men", &c. This is the second clause; the priest was not
privately a minister for himself, but was appointed for the common good
of the people. But it is of great consequence to notice this, so that we
may know that the salvation of us all is connected with and revolves on
the priesthood of Christ. The benefit is expressed in these words,
"ordains those things which pertain to God". They may, indeed, be
explained in two ways, as the verb |kathistatai| has a passive as well as
an active sense. They who take it passively give this version, "is
ordained in those things," &c.; and thus they would have the preposition
in to be understood approve more of the other rendering, that the high
priest takes care of or ordains the things pertaining to God; for the
construction flows better, and the sense is fuller. But still in either
way, what the Apostle had in view is the same, namely, that we have no
intercourse with God, except there be a priest; for, as we are unholy,
what have we to do with holy things? We are in a word alienated from God
and his service until a priest interposes and undertakes our cause.
    "That he may offer both gifts", &c. The third thing he mentions
respecting a priest is the offering of gifts. There are however here two
things, gifts and sacrifices; the first word includes, as I think,
various kinds of sacrifices, and is therefore a general term; but the
second denotes especially the sacrifices of expiation. Still the meaning
is, that the priest without a sacrifice is no peacemaker between God and
man, for without a sacrifice sins are not atoned for, nor is the wrath of
God pacified. Hence, whenever reconciliation between God and man takes
place, this pledge must ever necessarily precede. Thus we see that angels
are by no means capable of obtaining for us God's favour, because they
have no sacrifice. The same must be thought of Prophets and Apostles.
Christ alone then is he, who having taken away sins by his own sacrifice,
can reconcile God to us.
=====> 5:2. "Who can", &c. This fourth point has some affinity to the
first, and yet it may be distinguished from it; for the Apostle before
taught us that mankind are united to God in the person of one man, as all
men partake of the same flesh and nature; but now he refers to another
thing, and that is, that the priest ought to be kind and gentle to
sinners, because he partakes of their infirmities. The word which the
Apostle uses, | metriopathein|, is differently explained both by Greek
and Latin interpreters. I, however, think that it simply means one
capable of sympathy. All the things which are here said of the Levitical
priests do not indeed apply to Christ; for Christ we know was exempt from
every contagion of sin; he therefore differed from others in this
respect, that he had no necessity of offering a sacrifice for himself.
But it is enough for us to know that he bare our infirmities, though free
from sin and undefiled. Then, as to the ancient and Levitical priests,
the Apostle says, that they were subject to human infirmity, and that
they made atonement also for their own sins, that they might not only be
kind to others when gone astray, but also condole or sympathize with
them. This part ought to be so far applied to Christ as to include that
exception which he mentioned before, that is, that he bare our
infirmities, being yet without sin. At the same time, though ever free
from sin, yet that experience of infirmities before described is alone
abundantly sufficient to incline him to help us, to make him merciful and
ready to pardon, to render him solicitous for us in our miseries. The sum
of what is said is, that Christ is a brother to us, not only on account
of unity as to flesh and nature, but also by becoming a partaker of our
infirmities, so that he is led, and as it were formed, to show
forbearance and kindness. The participle, |dunamenos|, is more forcible
than in our common tongue, "qui possit",  "who can," for it expresses
aptness or fitness. "The ignorant" and those "out of the way", or erring,
he has named instead of sinners, according to what is done in Hebrew; for
|shegagah| means every kind of error or offence, as I shall have
presently an occasion to explain.
=====> 5:4. "And no man", &c. There is to be noticed in this verse partly
a likeness and partly a difference. What makes an office lawful is the
call of God; so that no one can rightly and orderly perform it without
being made fit for it by God. Christ and Aaron had this in common, that
God called them both; but they differed in this, that Christ succeeded by
a new and different way and was made a perpetual priest. It is hence
evident that Aaron's priesthood was temporary, for it was to cease. We
see the object of the Apostle; it was to defend the right of Christ's
priesthood; and he did this by showing that God was its author. But this
would not have been sufficient, unless it was made evident that an end
was to be put to the old in order that a room might be obtained for this.
And this point he proves by directing our attention to the terms on which
Aaron was appointed, for we are not to extend them further then God's
decree; and he will presently make it evident how long God had designed
this order to continue. Christ then is a lawful priest, for he was
appointed by God's authority. What is to be said of Aaron and his
successors? That they had as much right as was granted them by the Lord,
but not so much as men according to their own fancy concede to them.
    But though this has been said with reference to what is here handled,
yet we may hence draw a general truth, - that no government is to be set
up in the Church by the will of men, but that we are to wait for the
command of God, and also that we ought to follow a certain rule in
electing ministers, so that no one may intrude according to his own
humour. Both these things ought to be distinctly noticed for the Apostle
here speaks not of persons only, but also of the office itself; nay, he
denies that the office which men appoint without God's command is lawful
and divine. For as it appertains to God only to rule his Church, so he
claims this right as his own, that is, to prescribe the way and manner of
administration. I hence deem it as indisputable, that the Papal
priesthood is spurious; for it has been framed in the workshop of men.
God nowhere commands a sacrifice to be offered now to him for the
expiation of sins; nowhere does he command priests to be appointed for
such a purpose. While then the Pope ordains his priests for the purpose
of sacrificing, the Apostle denies that they are to be counted lawful
priests; they cannot therefore be such, except by some new privilege they
exalt themselves above Christ, for he dared not of himself to take upon
him this honour, but waited for the command of the Father.
    This also ought to be held good as to persons, that no individual is
of himself to seize on this honour without public authority. I speak now
of offices divinely appointed. At the same time it may sometimes be, that
one, not called by God, is yet to be tolerated, however little he may be
approved, provided the office itself be divine and approved by God; for
many often creep in through ambition or some bad motives, whose call has
no evidence; and yet they are not to be immediately rejected, especially
when this cannot be done by the public decision of the Church. For during
two hundred years before the coming of Christ the foulest corruptions
prevailed with respect to the priesthood, yet the right of honour,
proceeding from the calling of God, still continued as to the office
itself; and the men themselves were tolerated, because the freedom of the
Church was subverted. It hence appears that the greatest defect is the
character of the office itself, that is, when men of themselves invent
what God has never commanded. The less endurable then are those Romish
sacrificers, who prattle of nothing but their own titles, that they may
be counted sacred, while yet they have chosen themselves without any
authority from God.
=====> 5:5. "Thou art my Son", &c. This passage may seem to be
far-fetched; for though Christ was begotten of God the Father, he was not
on this account made also a priest. But if we consider the end for which
Christ was manifested to the world, it will plainly appear that this
character necessarily belongs to him. We must however bear especially in
mind what we said on the first chapter; that the begetting of Christ, of
which the Psalmist speaks, was a testimony which the Father rendered to
him before men. Therefore the mutual relation between the Father and the
Son is not what is here intended; but regard is rather had to men to whom
he was manifested. Now, what sort of Son did God manifest to us? One
induct with no honour, with no power? Nay, one who was to be a Mediator
between himself and man; his begetting then included his priesthood.
=====> 5:6. "As he saith in another place", or, "elsewhere", &c. Here is
expressed more clearly what the Apostle intended. This is a remarkable
passage, and indeed the whole Psalm from which it is taken; for there is
scarcely anywhere a clearer prophecy respecting Christ's eternal
priesthood and his kingdom. And yet the Jews try all means to evade it,
in order that they might obscure the glory of Christ; but they cannot
succeed. They apply it to David, as though he was the person whom God
bade to sit on his right hand; but this is an instance of extreme
effrontery; for we know that it was not lawful for kings to exercise the
priesthood. On this account, Uzziah, that is, for the sole crime of
intermeddling with an office that did not belong to him, so provoked God
that he was smitten with leprosy. (2 Chron. 26: 18.) It is therefore
certain that neither David nor any one of the kings is intended here.
    If they raise this objection and says that princes are sometimes
called |kohanim|, priests, I indeed allow it, but I deny that the word
can be so understood here. For the comparison here made leaves nothing
doubtful: Melchisedec was God's priest; and the Psalmist testifies that
that king whom God has set on his right hand would be a |kohen| according
to the order of Melchisedec. Who does not see that this is to be
understood of the priesthood? For as it was a rare and almost a singular
thing for the same person to be a priest and a king, at least an unusual
thing among God's people, hence he sets forth Melchisedec as the type of
the Messiah, as though he had said, "The royal dignity will not prevent
him to exercise the priesthood also, for a type of such a thing has been
already presented in Melchisedec." And indeed all among the Jews,
possessed of any modesty, have conceded that the Messiah is the person
here spoken of, and that his priesthood is what is commended.
    What is in Greek, |kata taxin|, "according to the order", is in
Hebrew, |ol dvarti|, and means the same, and may be rendered, "according
to the way" or manner: and hereby is confirmed what I have already said,
that as it was an unusual thing among the people of God for the same
person to bear the office of a king and of a priest, an ancient example
was brought forward, by which the Messiah was represented. The rest the
Apostle himself will more minutely set forth in what follows.

=====> 5:7 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;
5:8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he
5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation
unto all them that obey him;
5:10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.
5:11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing
ye are dull of hearing.

=====> 5:7. "Who in the days", &c. As the form and beauty of Christ is
especially disfigured by the cross, while men do not consider the end for
which he humbled himself, the Apostle again teaches us what he had before
briefly referred to, that his wonderful goodness shines forth especially
in this respect, that he for our good subjected himself to our
infirmities. It hence appears that our faith is thus confirmed, and that
his honour is not diminished for having borne our evils.
    He points out two causes why it behoved Christ to suffer, the
proximate and the ultimate. The proximate was, that he might learn
obedience; and the ultimate, that he might be thus consecrated a priest
for our salutation.
    "The days of his flesh" no doubt mean his life in this world. It
hence follows, that the word "flesh" does not signify what is material,
but a condition, according to what is said in 1 Cor. 15: 50, "Flesh and
blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Rave then do those fanatical
men who dream that Christ is now divested of his flesh, because it is
here intimated that he has outlived the days of his flesh for it is one
thing to be a real man, though endued with a blessed immortality; it is
another thing to be liable to those human sorrows and infirmities, which
Christ sustained as long as he was in this world, but has now laid aside,
having been received into heaven.
    Let us now look into the subject. Christ who was a Son, who sought
relief from the Father and was heard, yet suffered death, that thus he
might be taught to obey. There is in every word a singular importance. By
"days of the flesh" he intimates that the time of our miseries is
limited, which brings no small alleviation. And doubtless hard were our
condition, and by no means tolerable, if no end of suffering were set
before us. The three things which follow bring us also no small
consolations; Christ was a Son, whom his own dignity exempted from the
common lot of men, and yet he subjected himself to that lot for our
sakes: who now of us mortals can dare refuse the same condition? Another
argument may be added, - though we may be pressed down by adversity, yet
we are not excluded from the number of God's children, since we see him
going before us who was by nature his only Son; for that we are counted
his children is owing only to the gift of adoption by which he admits us
into a union with him, who alone lays claim to this honour in his own
    "When he had offered up prayers", &c. The second thing he mentions
respecting Christ is, that he, as it became him, sought a remedy that he
might be delivered from evils; and he said this that no one might think
that Christ had an iron heart which felt nothing; for we ought always to
consider why a thing is said. Had Christ been touched by no sorrow, no
consolation could arise to us from his sufferings; but when we hear that
he also endured the bitterest agonies of mind, the likeness becomes then
evident to us. Christ, he says, did not undergo death and other evils
because he disregarded them or was pressed down by no feeling of
distress, but he prayed with tears, by which he testified the extreme
anguish of his soul. Then by "tears" and "strong crying" the Apostle
meant to express the intensity of his grief, for it is usual to show it
by outward symptoms; nor do I doubt but that he refers to that prayer
which the Evangelists mention, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup
pass from me," (Matt. 26: 42; Luke 22: 42;) and also to another, "My God,
my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27: 46.) For in the second
instance mention is made by the evangelists of strong crying; and in the
first it is not possible to believe that his eyes were dry, since drops
of blood, through excessive grief, flowed from his body. It is indeed
certain that he was reduced to great straits; and being overwhelmed with
real sorrows, he earnestly prayed his Father to bring him help.
    And what application is to be made of this?  Even this, that whenever
our evils press upon us and overwhelm us, we may call to mind the Son of
God who laboured under the same; and since he has gone before us there is
no reason for us to faint. We are at the same time reminded that
deliverance from evils can be found from no other but from God alone, and
what better guidance can we have as to prayer than the example of Christ?
He betook himself immediately to the Father. And thus the Apostle
indicates what ought to be done by us when he says that he offered
prayers to him who was able to deliver him from death; for by these words
he intimates that he rightly prayed, because he fled to God the only
Deliverer. His "tears" and "crying" recommend to us ardour and
earnestness in prayer, for we ought not to pray to God formally, but with
ardent desires.
    "And was heard", &c. Some render the following words, "on account of
his reverence" or fears but I wholly differ from them. In the first place
he puts the word alone |eulatheias|, without the possessive "his"; and
then there is the preposition |apo|, "from," not |huper|, "on account
of," or any other signifying a cause or a reason. As, then, |eulatheia|
means for the most part fear or anxiety, I doubt not but that the Apostle
means that Christ was heard from that which he feared, so that he was not
overwhelmed by his evils or swallowed up by death. For in this contest
the Son of God had to engage, not because he was tried by unbelief, the
source of all our fears, but because he sustained as a man in our flesh
the judgment of God, the terror of which could not have been overcome
without an arduous effort. Chrysostom interprets it of Christ's dignity,
which the Father in a manner reverenced; but this cannot be admitted.
Others render it "piety." But the explanation I have given is much more
suitable, and requires no long arguments in its favour.
    Now he added this third particular, lest we should think that
Christ's prayers were rejected, because he was not immediately delivered
from his evils; for at no time was God's mercy and aid wanting to him.
And hence we may conclude that God often hears our prayers, even when
that is in no way made evident. For though it belongs not to us to
prescribe to him as it were a fixed rule, nor does it become him to grant
whatsoever requests we may conceive in our minds or express with our
tongues, yet he shows that he grants our players in everything necessary
for our salvation. So when we seem apparently to be repulsed, we obtain
far more than if he fully granted our requests.
    But how was Christ heard from what he feared, as he underwent the
death which he dreaded? To this I reply, that we must consider what it
was that he feared; why was it that he dreaded death except that he saw
in it the curse of God, and that he had to wrestle with the guilt of all
iniquities, and also with hell itself? Hence was his trepidation and
anxiety; for extremely terrible is God's judgment. He then obtained what
he prayed for, when he came forth a conqueror from the pains of death,
when he was sustained by the saving hand of the Father, when after a
short conflict he gained a glorious victory over Satan, sin, and hell.
Thus it often happens that we ask this or that, but not for a right end;
yet God, not granting what we ask, at the same time finds out himself a
way to succour us.
=====> 5:8. "Yet learned he obedience", &c. The proximate end of Christ's
sufferings was thus to habituate himself to obedience; not that he was
driven to this by force, or that he had need of being thus exercised, as
the case is with oxen or horses when their ferocity is to be tamed, for
he was abundantly willing to render to his Father the obedience which he
owed. But this was done from a regard to our benefit, that he might
exhibit to us an instance and an example of subjection even to death
itself. It may at the same time be truly said that Christ by his death
learned fully what it was to obey God, since he was then led in a special
manner to deny himself; for renouncing his own will, he so far gave
himself up to his Father that of his own accord and willingly he
underwent that death which he greatly dreaded. The meaning then is that
Christ was by his sufferings taught how far God ought to be submitted to
and obeyed.
    It is then but right that we also should by his example be taught and
prepared by various sorrows, and at length by death itself, to render
obedience to God; nay, much more necessary is this in our case, for we
have a disposition contumacious and ungovernable until the Lord subdues
us by such exercises to bear his yoke. This benefit, which arises from
the cross, ought to allay its bitterness in our hearts; for what can be
more desirable than to be made obedient to God? But this cannot be
effected but by the cross, for in prosperity we exult as with loose
reins; nay, in most cases, when the yoke is shaken off, the wantonness of
the flesh breaks forth into excesses. But when restraint is put on our
will, when we seek to please God, in this act only does our obedience
show itself; nay, it is an illustrious proof of perfect obedience when we
choose the death to which God may call us, though we dread it, rather
than the life which we naturally desire.
=====> 5:9. "And being made perfect, or sanctified", &c. Here is the
ultimate or the remoter end, as they call it, why it was necessary for
Christ to suffer: it was that he might thus become initiated into his
priesthood, as though the Apostle had said that the enduring of the cross
and death were to Christ a solemn kind of consecration, by which he
intimates that all his sufferings had a regard to our salvation. It hence
follows, that they are so far from being prejudicial to his dignity that
they are on the contrary his glory; for if salvation be highly esteemed
by us, how honorably ought we to think of its cause or author? For he
speaks not here of Christ only as an example, but he ascends higher, even
that he by his obedience has blotted out our transgressions. He became
then the cause of salvation, because he obtained righteousness for us
before God, having removed the disobedience of Adam by an act of an
opposite kind, even obedience.
    "Sanctified" suits the passage better than "made perfect." The Greek
word |teleiootheis| means both; but as he speaks here of the priesthood,
he fitly and suitably mentions sanctification. And so Christ himself
speaks in another place, "For their sakes I sanctify myself." (John 17:
19.) It hence appears that this is to be properly applied to his human
nature, in which he performed the office of a priest, and in which he
also suffered.
    "To all them that obey him". If then we desire that Christ's
obedience should be profitable to us, we must imitate him; for the
Apostle means that its benefit shall come to none but to those who obey.
But by saying this he recommends faith to us; for he becomes not ours,
nor his blessings, except as far as we receive them and him by faith. He
seems at the same time to have adopted a universal term, "all", for this
end, that he might show that no one is precluded from salvation who is
but teachable and becomes obedient to the Gospel of Christ.
=====> 5:10. "Called of God", or named by God, &c. As it was necessary
that he should pursue more at large the comparison between Christ and
Melchisedec, on which he had briefly touched, and that the mind of the
Jews should be stirred up to greater attention, he so passes to a
digression that he still retails his argument.
=====> 5:11. He therefore makes a preface by saying that he had "many
things" to say, but that they were to prepare themselves lest these
things should be said in vain. He reminds then that they were "hard" or
difficult things; not indeed to repel them, but to stimulate them to
greater attention. For as things that are easily understood render us
slothful, so we become more keenly bent on hearing when anything obscure
is set before us. He however states that the cause of the difficulty was
not in the subject but in themselves. And indeed the Lord speaks to us so
clearly and without any obscurity, that his word is rightly called our
light; but its brightness become dim through our darkness. This happens
partly through our dullness and partly through our sloth; for though we
are very dull to understand the truth of God, yet there is to be added to
this vice the depravity of our affections, for we apply our minds to
vanity rather than to God's truth. We are also continually impeded either
by our perverseness, or by the cares of the world, or by the lusts of our
flesh. "Of whom" does not refer to Christ, but to Melchisedec; yet he is
not referred to as a private man, but as the type of Christ, and in a
manner personating him.

=====> 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need
that one teach you again which [be] the first principles of the oracles
of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
5:13 For every one that useth milk [is] unskilful in the word of
righteousness: for he is a babe.
5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, [even] those
who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and

=====> 5:12. "For when for the time ye ought," &c. This reproof contains
in it very sharp goads to rouse the Jews from their sloth. He says that
it was unreasonable and disgraceful that they should still continue in
the elements, in the first rudiments of knowledge, while they ought to
have been teachers. "You ought," he says, "to have been the instructors
of others, but ye are not even disciples capable of comprehending an
ordinary truth; for ye do not as yet understand the first rudiments of
Christianity." That he might, however, make them the more ashamed of
themselves, he mentions the "first principles," or the elements of the
beginning of God's words, as though he had said, You do not know the
alphabet. We must, indeed, learn throng life; for he alone is truly wise
who owns that he is very far from perfect knowledge; but we ought still
to profit so much by learning as not to continue always in the first
principles. Nor are we to act in such a way, that what is said by Isaiah
should be verified in us, "There shall be to you a precept on precept, a
precept on precept," &c. (Isaiah 28: 10;) but we ought, on the contrary,
so to exert ourselves, that our progress may correspond to "the time"
allowed us.
    Doubtless, not only years, but days also, must be accounted for; so
that every one ought to strive to make progress; but few there are who
summon themselves to an account as to past time, or who show any concern
for the future. We are, therefore, justly punished for our sloth, for
most of us remain in elements fitted for children. We are further
reminded, that it is the duty of every one to impart the knowledge he has
to his brethren; so that no one is to retain what he knows to himself,
but to communicate it to the edification of others.
    "Such as have need of milk". Paul uses the same metaphor in 1 Cor. 3:
1; and he reproaches the Corinthians with the same fault with what is
mentioned here, at least with one that is very similar; for he says, that
they were carnal and could not bear solid food. Milk then means an
elementary doctrine suitable to the ignorant. Peter takes the word in
another sense, when he bids us to desire the milk that is without deceit,
(1 Peter 2: 2;) for there is a twofold childhood, that is, as to
wickedness, and as to understanding; and so Paul tells us, "Be not
children in understanding, but in wickedness." (1 Cor. 14: 20.) They then
who are so tender that they cannot receive the higher doctrine, are by
way of reproach called children.
    For the right application of doctrines is to join us together, so
that we may grow to a perfect manhood, to the measure of full age, and
that we should not be like children, tossed here and there, and carried
about by every wind of doctrine. (Eph. 4: 14.) We must indeed show some
indulgence to those who have not yet known much of Christ, if they are
not capable as yet of receiving "solid food", but he who has had time to
grow, if he till continues a child, is not entitled to any excuse. We
indeed see that Isaiah brands the reprobate with this mark, that they
were like children newly weaned from the breasts. (Isa. 28: 9.) The
doctrine of Christ does indeed minister milk to babes as well as strong
meat to adults; but as the babe is nourished by the milk of its nurse,
not that it may ever depend on the breast, but that it may by degrees
grow and take stronger food; so also at first we must suck milk from
Scripture, so that we may afterwards feed on its bread. The Apostle yet
so distinguishes between milk and strong food, that he still understands
sound doctrine by both, but the ignorant begin with the one, and they who
are well-taught are strengthened by the other.
=====> 5:13. "For every one who uses milk", or, who partakes of milk, &c.
He means those who from tenderness or weakness as yet refuse solid
doctrine; for otherwise he who is grown up is not averse to milk. But he
reproves here an infancy in understanding, such as constrains God even to
prattle with us. He then says, that babes are not fit to receive the
"word of righteousness", understanding by righteousness the perfection of
which he will presently speak. For the Apostle does not here, as I think,
refer to the question, how we are justified before God, but takes the
word in a simpler sense, as denoting that completeness of knowledge which
leads to perfection, which office Paul ascribes to the Gospel in his
epistle to the Colossians, 1: 28; as though he had said, that those who
indulge themselves in their ignorance preclude themselves from a real
knowledge of Christ, and that the doctrine of the Gospel is unfruitful in
them, because they never reach the goal, nor come even near it.
=====> 5:14. "Of full age", or perfect, &c. He calls those perfect who
are adults; he mentions them in opposition to babes, as it is done in 1
Cor. 2: 6; 14: 20; Eph. 4: 13. For the middle and manly age is the full
age of human life; but he calls those by a figure men in Christy who are
spiritual. And such he would have all Christians to be, such as have
attained by continual practice a habit to "discern between good and
evil". For he cannot have been otherwise taught aright in the truth,
except we are fortified by his protection against all the falsehoods and
delusions of Satan; for on this account it is called the sword of the
Spirit. And Paul points out this benefit conferred by sound doctrine when
he says, "That we may not be carried about by every wind of doctrine."
(Eph. 4: 14.) And truly what sort of faith is that which doubts, being
suspended between truth and falsehood? Is it not in danger of coming to
nothing every moment?
    But not satisfied to mention in one word the mind, he mentions all
the "senses", in order to show that we are ever to strive until we be in
every way furnished by God's word, and be so armed for battle, that Satan
may by no means steal upon us with his fallacies.
    It hence appears what sort of Christianity there is under the Papacy,
where not only the grossest ignorance is commended under the name of
simplicity, but where the people are also most rigidly prevented from
seeking real knowledge; nay, it is easy to judge by what spirit they are
influenced, who hardly allow that to be touched which the Apostle
commands us to handle continually, who imagine that a laudable neglect
which the Apostle here so severely reproves, who take away the word of
God, the only rule of discerning rightly, which discerning he declares to
be necessary for all Christians! But among those who are freed from this
diabolical prohibition and enjoy the liberty of learning, there is yet
often no less indifference both as to hearing and reading. When thus we
exercise not our powers, we are stupidly ignorant and void of all

Chapter 6

=====> 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ,
let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of
repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

(continued in part 8...)

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