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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Hebrews 7

Verse 1

Hebrews 7:1 . Οὗτος ) The subject, namely, This man, who is mentioned ch. Heb 6:20 from the psalm, and the same who is mentioned in Genesis. The Predicate is, Hebrews 7:3 , ἀπάτωρ εἰς τὸ διηνεκὲς , without father for ever . The summary of this chapter is: Christ, as is shown by the type Melchisedec, who was greater than Abraham himself, from whom Levi is descended, has a priesthood truly excellent, new, perfect, stedfast, everlasting. βασιλεὺς ἱερεὺς , king priest ) Christ is also both. ἱερεὺς τοῦ Θεοῦ ὑψίστου ) So the LXX., Genesis 14:18 ; that is, Priest of the Most High GOD. ὁ συναντήσας Ἀβραὰμ ὑποστρέφοντι ἀπὸ τῆς κοπῆς ) The LXX., ibid. Hebrews 7:17 , ἐξῆλθε δὲ βασιλεὺς Σοδόμων εἰς συνάντησιν αὐτῷ μετὰ τὸ ὑποστρέψαι αὐτὸν ἀπὸ τῆς κοπῆς , κ . τ . λ . In the Ordo Temporum , p. 176, I have taken τὴν κοπὴν , in the strict sense, for the slaughter and destruction of the kings; but the meaning, flight , is also one consistent with the word הכות (LXX. κοπὴ ), Genesis 14:17 ; comp. Hebrews 7:15 . Therefore this passage does not prevent us from believing that Arioch, king of Ellasar, lived and reigned after the disaster. There I did not venture to affirm that Arioch is the same as Arius, and I am less disposed to do so now. To such a degree is the antiquity of the Assyrians uncertain abroad, which L. Offerhaus speciously discusses in the second book of his Spicilegia. εὐλογήσας ) LXX. εὐλόγησε .

Verse 2

Hebrews 7:2 . Δεκάτην ἀπὸ πάντων 4. ἔδωκεν ) LXX. ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ δεκάτην ἀπὸ πάντων . πρῶτον , first ) from his own name: ἔπερτα , then , from the name of the place. There are often mysteries even in the proper names of men and places. δικαιοσύνης · εἰρήνης ) So righteousness and peace are often mentioned together by Paul , Romans 5:1 . δὲ καὶ ) viz. ὤν : for ὅ ἐστι corresponds to ἑρμηνευόμενος .

Verse 3

Hebrews 7:3 . Ἀπάτωρ , ἀμήτωρ , ἀγενεαλόγητος , without father, without mother, without genealogy [ descent ]) The parents, ancestors, children, posterity of Melchisedec are not descended from Levi, as was required to be the case with the Levites, Hebrews 7:6 , and they are not even mentioned by Moses; and this silence is full of mystery, which is immediately unfolded. There are even few of the Levitical priests whose mothers are mentioned in Scripture; but yet their Levitical sanctity (as to their wives) is universally enjoined, Leviticus 21:13-14 ; and, at all events, the wife of Aaron, from whom all the priests are descended, is mentioned, Exodus 6:23 : and Sarah, the wife of Abraham himself, Isaiah 51:2 . μήτε ἀρχὴν , nor beginning ) The eternity of the Son of God is intimated. ἔχων , having ) with Moses, who nevertheless relates the death of Aaron. ἡμερῶν , of days ) It was not so suitable to say, the beginning of life or the end of days , Hebrews 7:16 , where power is mentioned along with life . ἀφωμοιωμένος δὲ τῷ Υἱῷ τοῦ Θεοῦ , but made like to the Son of GOD) δὲ , but , properly has respect to the opposition between the negatives, which precede, and the positive, which follows, and takes the former for granted. The likeness of Melchisedec to the Son of God refers both to the former and the latter; but it is also more directly connected with the latter, because it has more reference to the purpose in hand. The Son of GOD is not said to be made like to Melchisedec, but the contrary (vice versa); for the Son of GOD is more ancient, and is the archetype; comp. Hebrews 8:5 , [ where in like manner heavenly things are set forth as more ancient than the things belonging to the Levitical priesthood . V. g.] μένει , remains ) The positive for the negative in respect of Melchisedec: he remains and lives , Hebrews 7:8 : i.e. nothing is mentioned of his decease or succession. But it holds good in its strict meaning from Christ.

Verse 4

Hebrews 7:4 . Θεωρεῖτε ) you see; comp. Acts 25:24 , note; or rather see, consider . For Paul begins to teach in this passage, and at the same time excites our admiration: οὗτος , this man , accords with this view. ᾧ , to whom ) as greater, and as a priest. καὶ ) even . The greatness of Melchisedec is described in all those things which precede and follow this clause; but the principal thing is receiving the tithes . For this is the privilege of a superior. ἐκ τῶν ἀκροθινίων ) of the spoils, which had properly belonged to Abraham as the conqueror. Hesychius explains: ἀκροθινίον , ἀπαρχὴ καρπῶν , ἢ σκῦλα , λαφύρων ἀπαρχαί . Ἀκροθινίον , ἀπαρχὴ τῶν θινῶν , θίνες δὲ εἰσιν οἱ σωροὶ τῶν πυρῶνκριθῶν · ἢ πᾶσα ἀπαρχή : “ ἀκροθινίον is first fruits , or arms, clothes, the first fruits of spoils: ἀκροθινίον , the first fruits of θίνες , and θίνες are heaps of wheat or barley; or any first fruits whatever.” ὁ πατριάρχης , the patriarch ) He highly praises Abraham, that Melchisedec may be made the greater. The patriarch is even greater than a king, as being the progenitor of kings.

Verse 5

Hebrews 7:5 . Τὸν λαὸν , the people ) An abbreviated expression, to be resolved into a subject and predicate consisting each of two members. The priests (and Levites) tithe (the Levites and) the people , Numbers 18:21 ; Numbers 18:26 ; Nehemiah 10:38 . So the style of Paul admits, Romans 5:16 , note. κατὰ τὸν νόμον ) according to or in the law , ch. Hebrews 9:19 . ἀδελφοὺς , brethren ) with whom they are of the same natural condition. To these, however, are preferred the Levites; to these latter, the priests; to these again, Abraham: to Abraham is preferred Melchisedec.

Verse 6

Hebrews 7:6 . Ἐξ αὐτῶν ) from them , as he was more ancient even than they. καὶ , and ) This verse has two propositions, of which the explanation precedes the first, follows the second: Chiasmus. And at the same time this second point the superiority of Melchisedec to Abraham namely, the blessing , is conveniently connected with the former point concerning tithes , because its description is afterwards completed. τὸν ἔχοντα , who had ) This both increases Abraham’s dignity, and intimates that even the posterity, who had been then already promised to Abraham, would yield the superiority to Melchisedec. τὰς ἐπαγγελίας , the promises ) plural. Where Christ is the subject, it is called the promise: promises refer to other things. Already GOD had twice promised to Abraham, Genesis 12:2 ; Genesis 13:15 , before the blessing of Melchisedec. εὐλόγηκε , blessed ) The blessing which the priests pronounced on the people, is also by implication contained in the Protasis concerning the Levitical priests.

Verse 7

Hebrews 7:7 . Εὐλογεῖται , receives the blessing ) namely, if the blessing be given, for instance, with sacerdotal authority.

Verse 8

Hebrews 7:8 . Μαρτυρούμενος ) He of whom it is witnessed ( Who was honoured with the testimony ). ὅτι ζῇ , that He liveth ) The death of Melchisedec is not mentioned in the Old Testament. That circumstance is positively expressed by the term, life , for the sake of the Apodosis, respecting Christ.

Verse 9

Hebrews 7:9 . Ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν ) When, in the explanation of any subject something of the highest importance must be unexpectedly said after the other parts, which had been and might be treated of, where the particle denique is an apt expression in Latin, this courteous phrase, ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν , or ὡς εἰπεῖν , not to be met with elsewhere in the New Testament, has been generally used by the Greeks to avoid hyperbole and the prolixity of a somewhat precise discourse, or for the sake of anticipatory mitigation [42] and softening the expression, by which it was intimated that the matter can scarcely be told unless it be expressed in the present words, and yet that it must be told. See Not. ad Chrys. de Sacerd., p. 494. ΛΕΥΐ , Levi ) the progenitor of the priests. λαμβάνων , who receiveth ) Hebrews 7:5 .

[42] Ποοθεραπεία . Append.

Verse 10

Hebrews 7:10 . Ἔτι , still ) He says, still, not already now . The offspring, after withdrawing from the power of the parent, become their own guardian; but while they are under the power of the parent, nay, in his loins, they follow his condition. It may be said, Was not Christ Himself, according to the flesh, as well as Levi, in the loins of Abraham? Comp. Acts 2:30 . Ans . Christ is expressly set forth by the psalm as a priest after the order of Melchisedec, and that too in such a way that Melchisedec is made like to the Son of GOD, not the Son of GOD to Melchisedec: nor is Christ subjected to Abraham, but stands in opposition to the sons of Levi. And Abraham, when Melchisedec blessed him, Genesis 14:19 , already had the promises, Hebrews 7:6 ; namely, those in which were included both the blessing expressed more generally and the natural seed, and so also Levi, Genesis 12:3 ; Genesis 12:7 ; Genesis 13:15-16 : but those promises under which Christ was comprehended, followed Abraham’s meeting with Melchisedec, as well as the faith of Abraham, which was in the highest degree commended, Genesis 15:1 , etc., where we have the remarkable beginning, After these things .

Verse 11

Hebrews 7:11 . Εἰ μὲν οὖν , if then ) Now, the apostle, by referring to the 110th Psalm, shows that the Levitical priesthood yields to the priesthood of Jesus Christ: because Melchisedec, according to whose order and likeness Jesus Christ is a priest, (1.) is opposed to Aaron, Hebrews 7:11-14 ; (2.) has no end of life, Hebrews 7:15-19 . τελείωσις , perfection ) The LXX. put this word for the Hebrew מִלֻּאִים , Exodus 29:22 , etc.; Leviticus 7:37 ; Leviticus 8:22 ; Leviticus 8:28-29 ; Leviticus 8:31 ; Leviticus 8:33 , where the writer is treating of Levitical perfection; but here τελείωσις τελεία , absolute perfection, is intended: comp. Hebrews 7:19 . The article is not added, and therefore Paul increases the force of the negative expression. ἦν ) if were. So ἦν , ch. Hebrews 8:7 . ὁ λαὸς γὰρ , for the people) The conjunction γὰρ put after the noun, as in Hebrews 7:28 , intimates that the noun people is here emphatic the whole people of GOD. It at the same time shows why any one might perhaps ascribe perfection to the Levitical priesthood, and why it is necessary that that opinion should be confuted: comp. γὰρ , for, which is likewise subjoined to the word εἰ , if, ch. Hebrews 8:7-8 . ἐπʼ αὐτῇ , under, or in connection with it) Under the Levitical priesthood. Ἐπὶ with the dative, on, upon, concerning, in the case of, etc., often denotes the object, and that too having the force either of cause or effect, ch. Hebrews 8:1 ; Hebrews 8:6 , Hebrews 9:10 ; Hebrews 9:17 , Hebrews 11:4 . νενομοθέτητο , had received the law) The Pluperfect, because a time intervened before the 110th Psalm was given. As הורה is νόμος , the law, Hebrews 7:12 , so the LXX. translate the verb הורה νομοθετεῖν τινα , to instruct any one: Psalms 25:8 ; Psalms 27:11 ; Psalms 119:33 ; Psalms 119:102 . The people were only instructed about the Levitical priesthood, with which the whole law is occupied, and speaks of no other priesthood, Hebrews 7:5 ; but the 110th Psalm introduces a different system of instruction, namely, because God has changed the priesthood. τίς ἔτι , what any longer now) This now any longer is very urgent. χρεία , necessity) for GOD does nothing in vain. ἕτερον , another) Comp. the epithets, new, second, ch. Hebrews 8:13 , Hebrews 10:9 . ἀνίστασθαι ) should arise anew, Hebrews 7:15 . The antithesis is λέγεσθαι , should be called, according to the old form of instruction. λέγεσθαι , should not be called) in the psalm, at the time of which Aaron, i.e. the order of Aaron, flourished.

Verse 12

Hebrews 7:12 . Μετατιθεμένης , being transferred or changed ) from order to order, from tribe to tribe. γὰρ , for ) He shows why, in Hebrews 7:11 , he presses the words of the psalm concerning the order of Melchisedec, because it follows from this, that the law was also changed along with the priesthood, and that both are brought to Christ. νόμου , of the law ) Hebrews 7:5 ; Hebrews 7:16 ; Hebrews 7:19 ; Hebrews 7:28 ; ch. Hebrews 8:4 . Τάξις , order (not νόμος ), is the expression used of Christ.

Verse 13

Hebrews 7:13 . Ἐφʼ ὅν ) He, respecting whom these things are spoken by the Psalmist. μετέσχηκεν , belonged to, had part in ) We have the same verb, ch. Hebrews 2:14 . τῷ θυσιαστηρίῳ , at the altar ) Le vitical.

Verse 14

Hebrews 7:14 . Πρόδηλον ) it is manifest . Therefore, at that time the genealogy of Jesus Christ laboured under no difficulty; and this very circumstance entirely sweeps away the difficulties that afterwards arose. It is both evident and sufficient, that this point was formerly clear. ἐξ Ἰούδα , from Judah ) See Luke 1:27 ; Luke 1:39 , note, and ch. Hebrews 2:4-5 . For the Tribe is what is particularly referred to; not, however, to the exclusion of the city where our Lord was born, Bethlehem-Judah; nay, even there is reference to Hebron, a city of Judah , where Lightfoot says, in Chron. N. T. Part I. sect. 3 and 4, and in Harmon. evangel. on Luke 1:39 , that it is very probable He was conceived. ὅτι ἀνατέταλκεν , that our Lord sprang ) as the Branch ( ἀνατολὴ ) of Righteousness. εἰς ἥν ) in respect of which . So εἰς , Ephesians 5:32 ; 1 Peter 1:11 .

Verse 15

Hebrews 7:15 . Κατάδηλόν ἐστι ) it is evident , namely, that which is asserted, Hebrews 7:11 , [ that there was no perfection realized by the Levitical priesthood V. g.] εἰ , if ) An elegant particle for ὅτε , when , in reference to those to whom this point might seem to be either new or doubtful; as Acts 26:23 . ὁμοιότητα , similitude ) which is included in τάξις , order , and is called similitude, because here the discourse is designed to show the everlasting vigour and freshness of the priesthood in the following verse, from the phrase, εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα , for ever , Hebrews 7:17 .

Verse 16

Hebrews 7:16 . Ὃς γέγονεν ) who is made a priest. Κατὰ , according to , is construed with the word, priest . νόμον ἐντολῆς σαρκικῆς , the law of a carnal commandment ) Power is presently opposed to the law; life to commandment; endless to carnal. Commandment occurs again, Hebrews 7:18 ; law , Hebrews 7:19 . Concerning the flesh , comp. ch. Hebrews 9:10 . δύναμιν ζωῆς , the power of life ) Both words occur again, Hebrews 7:25 .

Verse 18

Hebrews 7:18 . Ἀθέτησις , a disannulling ) So ἀναιρεῖ , takes away , ch. Hebrews 10:9 . γίνεται , takes place ) in the psalm. προαγούσης ἐντολῆς , of the commandment going before ) This commandment is denoted in the abstract, Hebrews 7:16 , and in the concrete, in conjunction with men, Hebrews 7:28 ; in the same manner as the first testament or covenant , ch. Hebrews 8:7-8 . ἀσθενὲς καὶ ἀνωφελὲς , weakness and unprofitableness ) So Paul uses the term, weak elements , Galatians 4:9 ; and he also often desires and has regard to that which is ‘profitable,’ ch. Hebrews 13:9 ; comp. Epistles to Timothy and Titus.

Verse 19

Hebrews 7:19 . Οὐδὲν ἐτλείωσεννόμος , the law made nothing perfect ) Paul speaks much in the same way of the powerlessness ( τὸ ἀδύνατον ) of the law, in that it was weak through the flesh , Romans 8:3 . ἐπεισαγωγὴ ) properly, the bringing in afterwards [superintroductio]. It is construed with γίνεται , takes place , Hebrews 7:18 , [ in the psalm, to wit . V. g.] The antithesis is manifest: a disannulling indeed, but the bringing in . Ἐπὶ in ἐπεισαγωγὴ is opposed to the πρὸ in προαγούσης , and is the same as μετὰ , after , Hebrews 7:28 . κρείττονος , of a better ) that is, not weak and unprofitable . The epithet, κρείττων , often occurs in this epistle, as well as αἰώνιος , ἀληθινὸς , δεύτερος , διαφορώτερος , ἓτερος , ζῶν , καινὸς , μέλλων , νέος , πρόσφατος , τέλειος . ἐγγίζομεν , we draw near ) This is true τελείωσις , perfection .

Verse 20

Hebrews 7:20 . Καθʼ ὅσον , inasmuch as ) Supply from what follows, He was made a priest . The Apodosis is in Hebrews 7:22 , κατὰ τοσοῦτον , by so much . ὁρκωμοσίας ) A magnificent compound.

Verse 21

Hebrews 7:21 . Διὰ τοῦ λέγοντος πρὸς αὐτὸν , by Him that said to Him ) On other occasions, he who receives the office swears; here, He who conferred the priesthood swore. There is nothing about this oath in Moses, but in the psalm. See how great authority belongs even to the Psalms! Hebrews 7:28 . ὤμοσε Κύριος καὶ οὐ μεταμεληθήσεται , the Lord hath sworn and will not repent ) So LXX. It is intimated by the oath itself that the decree is one ἀμεταμέλητον , not to be disannulled by any repentance .

Verse 22

Hebrews 7:22 . Κρείττονος , of a better ) testament or covenant, not to be repented of, eternal, ch. Hebrews 13:20 . διαθήκης , testament ) After this passage this word is of frequent occurrence, ch. 8, 9, 10, likewise ch. Hebrews 12:24 , Hebrews 13:20 . Paul also uses it often in other places. It denotes a divine appointment, comprising the relations and bearings, partly of a covenant, partly of a testament. ἔγγυος , surety ) Hesychius, ἔγγυος , ἀνάδοχος . Its synonym is μεσίτης , mediator , ch. Hebrews 8:6 .

Verse 23

Hebrews 7:23 . Πλείονες , many ) one after another. παραμένειν ) to remain together on earth. The antithesis is μένειν , to remain absolutely in heaven, Hebrews 7:24 .

Verse 24

Hebrews 7:24 . Μένειν , because that He continueth ) in life and in the priesthood. αὐτὸν ) because He Himself continues: Σὺ , Thou art a Priest , in the singular. ἀπαράβατον , not passing away ) into the hands of successors.

Verse 25

Hebrews 7:25 . Ὅθεν , whence ) From this, that He remains . καὶ , also ) He not only remains, but also saves. σώζειν , to save ) by His own name, Jesus , Hebrews 7:22 . εἰς τὸ παντελὲς , to the uttermost ) So Luke 13:11 . The meaning of παντελῶς is, in all ways , 1, 2 Macc. often. It is construed with δύναται , He is able; as πάντοτε , always , with ζῶν , living . τοὺς προσερχομένους , those that come near ) by faith, ch. Hebrews 4:16 , Hebrews 10:22 . διʼ αὐτοῦ , by Him ) as by a priest. τῷ Θεῷ , to GOD) ch. Hebrews 11:6 , Hebrews 12:22-23 . πάντοτε ζῶν , ever living ) Because He always lives, therefore He is able to the uttermost. He is not prevented by death; comp. Hebrews 7:23 . εἰς , to ) that is, even so as that He intercedes for them. The gradation may be compared in a passage of Paul’s very like this, Romans 8:34 , and εἰς τὸ below, ch. Hebrews 11:3 . There was but one offering, Hebrews 7:27 ; but ἔντευξις , intercession , for our salvation is continued in the heavens , Hebrews 7:26 . Whence it results, that we can never be separated from the love of GOD in Christ. See again Romans 8:34 ; Romans 8:38-39 .

Verse 26

Hebrews 7:26 . Τοιοῦτος , such ) From what goes before, great exultation and holy boasting are diffused into this and the following verse. ἔπρεπεν ἡμῖν , became us ) who were by no means godly , etc. Thus the verb, became , renders the expression a paradox, such as Paul loves, when he kindles into applause. The same word occurs, ch. Hebrews 2:10 . ὅσιος , pious ) with respect to GOD. ἄκακος , harmless, without a fault ) with respect to Himself . תמים , LXX., ἄκακος . ἀμίαντος ) undefiled, deriving no stain from other men. The same word is found at ch. Hebrews 13:4 . All these predicates conjointly make the periphrasis of the word, ἅγιος , holy, and are illustrated by the preparation of the Levitical high priest for the feast of expiation, when he also was bound to remain in solitude, and in the high place [as Jesus was separate and made higher, Heb 7:26 ]. Our High Priest must be entirely free from sin, and, after He had tasted death once for all, also from death. κεχωρισμένος ἀπὸ τῶν ἀμαρτωλῶν ) not only free from sin, but also separate from sinners. He was separated when He left the world. Examine the following clause, and John 16:10 ; 1 John 2:1 . ὑψηλότερος τῶν οὐρανῶν ) higher than the heavens, and therefore than the inhabitants of the heavens. [He is therefore the true GOD: comp. Job 22:12 ; Psalms 57:6 ; Proverbs 30:4 . V. g.] Ephesians 1:21 ; Ephesians 4:10 . γένομενος , made) Christ both was formerly higher than the heavens, and was made so afterwards; comp. γένομενος , being made, ch. Hebrews 1:4 . We have the same force in the participle, τετελειωμένον , made perfect, at Hebrews 7:28 .

Verse 27

Hebrews 7:27 . Οὐ , not ) The Negation has a double force, and is thus to be explained: He has no necessity to offer, 1. daily: 2. for His own sins also. Not daily , for He has done that once for all . Not for His own sins, for He offered Himself, a holy sacrifice. There is besides in it an inverted Chiasmus. The first follows from the second, the second is confirmed by the 28th verse. Often in Scripture two positions (theses) are laid down, and are proved by the γὰρ , for , twice following them. καθʼ ἡμέραν , daily ) κατʼ ἐνιαυτὸν , year by year , properly, ch. Hebrews 10:3 . The Hebrews speak of the day , instead of the day of expiation; whence some translate καθʼ ἡμέραν , on every day of expiation: but it retains here its usual meaning, so that there is as it were a kind of indignant hyperbole (such as at ch. Hebrews 10:1 , εἰς τὸ διηνεκὲς , for ever ), intimating that the high priest was of no more avail by offering yearly on a stated day , than if he had offered daily with the common priests, ch. Hebrews 9:6-7 . τοῦτο ) this is simply to be referred to His offering , not to His offering also for Himself. ἐφάπαξ , once ) Romans 6:10 , note; so below ch. Hebrews 9:12 , Hebrews 10:10 .

Verse 28

Hebrews 7:28 . Ὁ νόμος γὰρ · ὁ λόγος δὲ , for the law: but the word ) The antithesis is very express, as the conjunction is put after the nouns. ὁ λόγος , the word ) rendered as strong as possible in consequence of the oath. τῆς μετὰ τὸν νόμον ) Not only the word, but the oath of God, is said to have been given after the law (comp. v. 18) in the time of David, and that too by David, as GOD very often swears by the mouth of the prophets. Comp. Acts 2:30 , where Peter speaks of the kingdom of Christ sanctioned by an oath in that same age. Paul is reasoning from the order of revelations, as Galatians 3:17 , note. Below, ch. Hebrews 10:7 ; Hebrews 10:16 . Υἱὸν ) Son of GOD. The antithesis is, men having infirmity . εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα , for ever ) It is thus resolved: The Son (once made perfect) was constituted a priest for ever, ch. Hebrews 5:9-10 , note. Absolute eternity is here intended. Jesus continues a priest for ever. His work being finished, His state remains.

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Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Hebrews 7". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.