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Priesthood after the Order of Aaron and of Melchizedek
The theme of Christ’s superiority to the Levitical priesthood is here resumed. In Hebrews 5:1-10 it has been shown that Christ possesses all the characteristics of a true High Priest, and moreover that He is called of God ’an High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec’ Now the priesthood of Melchizedek was perpetual, and in this respect he is a type of Christ. His greatness is shown by the fact that he received tithes from Abraham, and as Levi was descended from Abraham, it follows by implication that the Melchizedek priesthood is superior to the Levitical (Hebrews 7:1-10).
1-3. Melchisedec] a type of Christ in his high titles, independence of priestly descent, and especially in respect that his priesthood is eternal.
1. The main statement is, ’This Melchisedec.. abideth a priest continually.’ Every feature in his history as recorded in Genesis 14 is turned to account in the comparison instituted here between him and Christ. He is King of Salem, i.e. Jerusalem. But Salem means ’peace,’ and Christ is Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). His name Melchizedek means ’King of Righteousness,’ and righteousness is a characteristic of Christ’s kingdom (Psalms 62:12; Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 3:21: see on Isaiah 1:8-9). Unlike the Levitical priest who must be able to trace his descent from Levi, Melchizedek is without genealogy, connected with no priestly family, and he has no successor. He is ’a priest for ever.’
3. Without father, without mother, without descent (RV ’genealogy’)] The writer bases his argument on the silence of Scripture with regard to Melchizedek’s origin. He appears suddenly in the narrative of Genesis 14, and disappears in a similarly mysterious way. In respect that his priesthood does not rest on his pedigree, he stands in emphatic contrast with the Levitical priests. He is ’made like unto the Son of God,’ i.e. is described in the narrative in such terms that they suggest the eternal Son who exists from eternity and lives for ever (Hebrews 1:2, Hebrews 1:10-12).
4. Melchizedek was superior to Abraham, because he took tithes from Abraham (Genesis 14:20), and he also gave him his priestly benediction (Genesis 14:19-20).
5-7. He is much more superior to the Levitical priests who take tithes from then Israelite brethren, but who, in Abraham their progenitor, paid tithes to Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:9-10).
8. He is superior to them, further, in respect that the Levitical priests are men who die. What Scripture witnesses to concerning Melchizedek is just his life. Its silence as to his family and death points to the endless life of the divine inheritor of his priesthood.
11-28. The argument now takes a further step forward, Since God promised a new priesthood (in Psalms 110), this must supersede and abolish the old. But this substitution would not have been made were it not that the old priesthood had failed to accomplish its purpose, viz. to reconcile man to God. A new covenant is therefore introduced, with Jesus as the surety for its fulfilment. It is eternal because He is eternal; and it secures salvation to the uttermost, because the Priest is One who ever liveth to intercede for those who draw near to God through Him.
11-19. The introduction of a new priesthood, and consequently of a new law, implies the imperfection of the old.
11. If therefore] RV ’Nowif’: the beginning of a new argument. The priesthood is designed to reconcile men to God by removing the barrier between them, viz. sin. Not.. after the order of Aaron] but after the order of Melchizedek, who was independent of Levitical descent, being anterior to it.
13. He of whom these things (i.e. Psalms 110:4) are spoken is Jesus, who belonged to the tribe of Judah, in which the old Law recognises no priests.
15. RV ’And what we say is yet more abundantly evident,’ viz. the statement that a change of law is involved in a change of priesthood.
16. Under the old Law priesthood was a matter of physical descent—it was the law of a carnal commandment; but the priesthood of Jesus rests on the power of an indissoluble life (so RV). What constitutes Him priest is not an external commandment, but a power inherent in Him as the eternal Son, who, though as incarnate He died, nevertheless rose from the dead and liveth for ever (Hebrews 7:24-25). His qualifications were personal, not official.
18, 19. Read,’ For there is a disannulling of a preliminary [or, provisional] commandment [viz. that constituting the Levitical priesthood] on account of its weakness and unprofitableness [i.e. its inability to effect atonement for men’s sins] (for the law made nothing perfect), and there is the subsequent introduction of a better hope through which we draw near to God.’ The words ’for the law made nothing perfect’ are a parenthesis. The particular commandment in question was of a piece with the whole Law, which made nothing perfect, i.e. failed in every respect to attain its object, viz. to bring men near to God in reconciliation.
20. The fact that Jesus was made priest with an oath guarantees that the covenant He mediates is better than the former (in which there was no such oath), and also that it is eternal: cp. Hebrews 6:16-18.
22. Surety] The word is not found elsewhere in the Greek canonical Scriptures. It means one who gives security for the fulfilment of an agreement between two other parties, a guarantor or sponsor. The word usually employed is that rendered ’mediator’ in Hebrews 8:6.
23. The Levitical priesthood was a succession of different priests, because those filling the office were mortal men. Christ’s priesthood does not pass to any other; it is continuous and unchangeable; hence ’He is able to save to the uttermost.’ Were not suffered] RV ’are hindered.’
24. Unchangeable] lit. ’that does not pass by succession from one to another.’
25. To the uttermost] Either of time,’ from one generation to another’; or, more probably of extent, ’perfectly.’ Come unto God] RV ’draw near unto God through Him,’ i.e. avail themselves of His mediating agency as High Priest. The object of all priesthood is to bring men to God in spiritual communion. What the Levitical priesthood was unable to effect (Hebrews 7:18), Christ, the Melchizedek-High-Priest, has completely secured. Make intercession] not offering, which has been made once for all, but a continual representation on the ground of the completed offering.
26-28. A summary of the characteristics of Christ as High Priest, which make Him such an adequate High Priest as we need.
26. Became us] i.e. suited our condition.
Holy] denotes His relation to God, consecrated. Harmless] denotes His personal character; the word usually means ’without guile.’ Undefiled] denotes His official qualification, having no ceremonial flaw or impediment: cp. Leviticus 21:21. Separate] RV ’separated,’ not by sinlessness (as AV seems to suggest), but by being withdrawn from men and exalted to the right hand of the Majesty on high. The clause is to be taken along with the following: cp. Hebrews 4:14.
27. First for his own sins] see Leviticus 16:5-6, Leviticus 16:11, Leviticus 16:15, and see on Hebrews 5:3. Once] i.e. once for all. He offered up himself] see on Hebrews 9:11-14, Hebrews 9:25-28; Hebrews 10:11-14.
28. Since the law] RV ’after the law,’ and disannulling it: cp. Hebrews 7:18, Hebrews 7:19. The Son] rather, ’a Son,’ i.e. one who is a Son, perfected for evermore: see Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 5:8, Hebrews 5:9.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 7". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany