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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Hebrews 7

Verse 1

This Melchizedek (ουτος ο Μελχισεδεκ). The one already mentioned several times with whose priesthood that of Christ is compared and which is older and of a higher type than that of Aaron. See Genesis 14:18-1.14.20; Genesis 14:110 for the only account of Melchizedek in the Old Testament. It is a daring thing to put Melchizedek above Aaron, but the author does it. Moffatt calls verses Hebrews 7:1-58.7.3 "a little sermon" on Hebrews 6:20. It is "for ever" (εις τον αιωνα) that he explains. Melchizedek is the only one in his line and stands alone in the record in Genesis. The interpretation is rabbinical in method, but well adapted to Jewish readers. The description is taken verbatim from Genesis except that "who met" (ο συναντησας) is here applied to Melchizedek from Genesis 14:17 instead of to the King of Sodom. They both met Abraham as a matter of fact. For this verb (first aorist active participle of συνανταω) see Luke 9:37.

Slaughter (κοπης). Old word for cutting (κοπτω, to cut), here only in N.T. These kings were Amraphel, Arioch, Chedorlaomer, Tidal. Amraphel is usually taken to be Khammurabi.

Priest of God Most High (ιερευς του θεου του υψιστου). He is called "priest" and note του υψιστου applied to God as the Canaanites, Phoenicians, Hebrews did. It is used also of Zeus and the Maccabean priest-kings. The demons apply it to God (Mark 5:7; Luke 8:28).

Verse 2

A tenth (δεκατην). It was common to offer a tenth of the spoils to the gods. So Abraham recognized Melchizedek as a priest of God.

Divided (εμερισεν). First aorist active of μεριζω, from μερος (portion), to separate into parts. From this point till near the end of verse Hebrews 7:3 (the Son of God) is a long parenthesis with ουτος of verse Hebrews 7:1 as the subject of μενε (abideth) as the Revised Version punctuates it. Philo had made popular the kind of exegesis used here. The author gives in Greek the meaning of the Hebrew words Melchizedek (King of righteousness, cf. Hebrews 1:8) and Salem (peace).

Verse 3

Without father, without mother, without genealogy (απατωρ, αμητωρ, αγενεαλογητος). Alliteration like Romans 1:30, the first two old words, the third coined by the author (found nowhere else) and meaning simply "devoid of any genealogy." The argument is that from silence, made much of by Philo, but not to be pressed. The record in Genesis tells nothing of any genealogy. Melchizedek stands alone. He is not to be understood as a miraculous being without birth or death. Melchizedek has been made more mysterious than he is by reading into this interpretation what is not there.

Made like (αφωμοιωμενος). Perfect passive participle of αφομοιοω, old verb, to produce a facsimile or copy, only here in N.T. The likeness is in the picture drawn in Genesis, not in the man himself. Such artificial interpretation does not amount to proof, but only serves as a parallel or illustration.

Unto the Son of God (τω υιω του θεου). Associative instrumental case of υιος.

Abideth a priest (μενε ιερευς). According to the record in Genesis, the only one in his line just as Jesus stands alone, but with the difference that Jesus continues priest in fact in heaven.

Continually (εις το διηνεκες). Old phrase (for the continuity) like εις τον αιωνα, in N.T. only in Hebrews (Hebrews 7:3; Hebrews 10:1; Hebrews 10:14; Hebrews 10:21).

Verse 4

How great (πηλικος). Geometrical magnitude in contrast to arithmetical (ποσος), here only in N.T., "how distinguished." He received tithes from Abraham (verses Hebrews 7:4-58.7.6) and he blessed Abraham (Hebrews 7:6) and even Levi is included (verses Hebrews 7:8-58.7.10).

Out of the chief spoils (εκ των ακροθινιων). Old word from ακρος, top, and θις, a heap (the top of the pile).

Patriarch (πατριαρχης). LXX word (πατρια, tribe, αρχω, to rule) transferred to N.T. (Acts 2:29).

Verse 5

The priest's office (την ιερατειαν). LXX and Koine word from ιερευς, in N.T. only here and Luke 1:9.

To take tithes (αποδεκατοιν). Present active infinitive (in -οιν, not -ουν, as the best MSS. give it) of αποδεκατοω a LXX word (απο, δεκατοω), to take a tenth from (απο).

Brethren (αδελφους). Accusative case in apposition with λαον (people) unaffected by the explanatory phrase τουτ' εστιν (that is).

Though come out (καιπερ εξεληλυθοτας). Concessive participle (cf. Hebrews 5:8) with καιπερ (perfect active of εξερχομα).

Verse 6

He whose genealogy is not counted (ο μη γενεαλογουμενος). Articular participle with negative μη (usual with participles) of the old verb γενεαλογεω trace ancestry (cf. verse Hebrews 7:3)

Hath taken tithes (δεδεκατωκεν). Perfect active indicative of δεκατοω, standing on record in Genesis.

Hath blessed (ευλογηκεν). Perfect active indicative of ευλογεω, likewise standing on record. Note the frequent perfect tenses in Hebrews.

Him that hath the promises (τον εχοντα τας επαγγελιας). Cf. Hebrews 6:12; Hebrews 6:13-58.6.15 for allusion to the repeated promises to Abraham (Genesis 12:3; Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:14; Genesis 15:5; Genesis 17:5; Genesis 22:16-1.22.18).

Verse 7

Dispute (αντιλογιας). Ablative case with χωρις. For the word see Hebrews 6:16. The writer makes a parenthetical generalization and uses the article and neuter adjective (το ελασσον, the less, υπο του κρειττονος, by the better), a regular Greek idiom.

Verse 8

Here (ωδε). In the Levitical system.

There (εκε). In the case of Melchizedek.

Of whom it is witnessed (μαρτυρουμενος). "Being witnessed," present passive participle of μαρτυρεω (personal construction, not impersonal).

That he lives (οτ ζη). Present active indicative of ζαω). The Genesis record tells nothing of his death.

Verse 9

So to say (ως επος ειπειν). An old idiom, here only in the N.T., common in Philo, used to limit a startling statement, an infinitive for conceived result with ως.

Hath paid tithes (δεδεκατωτα). Perfect passive indicative of δεκατοω, "has been tithed." This could only be true of Levi "so to speak."

Verse 10

In the loins of his father (εν τη οσφυ του πατρος). Levi was not yet born. The reference is to Abraham, the forefather (πατρος) of Levi. This is a rabbinical imaginative refinement appealing to Jews.

Verse 11

Perfection (τελειωσις). Abstract substantive of τελειοω. More the act than the quality or state (τελειοτης, Hebrews 6:1). The condition is of the second class, "if there were perfection, etc." The Levitical priesthood failed to give men "a perfectly adequate relation to God" (Moffatt).

Priesthood (ιεροσυνης). Old word, in N.T. only here, verses Hebrews 7:12; Hebrews 7:24. Cf. ιερετια in verse Hebrews 7:5. The adjective Λευειτικη occurs in Philo.

Received the law (νενομοθετητα). Perfect passive indicative of νομοθετεω, old compound to enact law (νομοσ, τιθημ), to furnish with law (as here), only other N.T. example in Hebrews 8:6.

What further need was there? (τις ετ χρεια;). No copula expressed, but it would normally be ην αν, not just ην: "What need still would there be?"

Another priest (ετερον ιερεα). Of a different line (ετερον), not just one more (αλλον). Accusative of general reference with the infinitive ανιστασθα (present middle of ανιστημ intransitive).

And not to be reckoned (κα ου λεγεσθα). The negative ου belongs rather to the descriptive clause than just to the infinitive.

Verse 12

The priesthood being changed (μετατιθεμενης της ιεροσυνης). Genitive absolute with present passive participle of μετατιθημ, old word to transfer (Galatians 1:6).

A change (μεταθεσις). Old substantive from μετατιθημ. In N.T. only in Heb. (Hebrews 7:12; Hebrews 11:5; Hebrews 12:27). God's choice of another kind of priesthood for his Son, left the Levitical line off to one side, forever discounted, passed by "the order of Aaron" (την ταξιν Ααρων).

Verse 13

Belongeth to another tribe (φυλης ετερας μετεσχηκεν). See Hebrews 2:14 for μετεχω, perfect active indicative here. A different (ετερας) tribe.

Hath given attendance at (προσεσχηκεν). Perfect active indicative (watch perfects in Hebrews, not "for" aorists) of προσεχω, old verb, here with either νουν (mind) or self (εαυτον) understood with dative case (τω θυσιαστηριω, the altar, for which word see Matthew 5:23; Luke 1:11).

Verse 14

It is evident (προδηλον). Old compound adjective (προ, δηλος), openly manifest to all, in N.T. only here and 1 Timothy 5:24.

Hath sprung (ανατεταλκεν). Perfect active indicative of ανατελλω, old compound to rise up like the sun (Matthew 5:45).

Verse 15

Yet more abundantly evident (περισσοτερον ετ καταδηλον). Only N.T. instance of the old compound adjective καταδηλος thoroughly clear with ετ (still) added and the comparative περισσοτερον (more abundantly) piling Ossa on Pelion like Philippians 1:23.

Likeness (ομοιοτητα). See Hebrews 4:15, only N.T. examples. Cf. the verb in verse Hebrews 7:3.

Ariseth another priest (ανιστατα ιερευς ετερος). As said in verse Hebrews 7:11, now assumed in condition of first class.

Verse 16

Carnal (σαρκινης). "Fleshen" as in 1 Corinthians 3:1, not σαρκικης (fleshlike, 1 Corinthians 3:3). The Levitical priests became so merely by birth.

Of an endless life (ζωης ακαταλυτου). Late compound (alpha privative and verbal adjective from καταλυω, to dissolve, as in 2 Corinthians 4:1), indissoluble. Jesus as priest lives on forever. He is Life.

Verse 17

It is witnessed (μαρτυρειτα). Present passive indicative of μαρτυρεω. The author aptly quotes again Psalms 110:4.

Verse 18

A disannulling (αθετησις). Late word from αθετεω (alpha privative and τιθημ), to set aside (Mark 6:26), in N.T. only here and Hebrews 9:26. Common in the papyri in a legal sense of making void. Involved in μεταθεσις (change in verse Hebrews 7:12).

Foregoing (προαγουσης). Present active participle of προαγω, to go before (1 Timothy 1:18).

Because of its weakness (δια το αυτης ασθενες). Neuter abstract adjective with article for quality as in verse Hebrews 7:7 with δια and accusative case for reason.

Unprofitableness (ανωφελες). Old compound (alpha privative and οφελος) useless, and neuter singular like ασθενες. In N.T. only here and Titus 3:9.

Verse 19

Made nothing perfect (ουδεν ετελειωσεν). Another parenthesis. First aorist active indicative of τελειοω. See verse Hebrews 7:11. And yet law is necessary.

A bringing in thereupon (επεισαγωγη). An old double compound (επ, additional, εισαγωγη, bringing in from εισαγω). Here only in N.T. Used by Josephus (Ant. XI. 6, 2) for the introduction of a new wife in place of the repudiated one.

Of a better hope (κρειττονος ελπιδος). This better hope (Hebrews 6:18-58.6.20) does bring us near to God (εγγιζομεν τω θεω) as we come close to God's throne through Christ (Hebrews 4:16).

Verse 20

Without the taking of an oath (χωρις ορκωμοσιας). As in Psalms 110:4.

Verse 21

Have been made (εισιν γεγονοτες). Periphrastic perfect active indicative of γινομα (perfect active participle of γινομα) and then εισιν. The parenthesis runs from ο μεν γαρ (for they) to εις τον αιωνα (for ever, end of verse Hebrews 7:21).

But he with an oath (ο δε μετα ορκωμοσιας). Positive statement in place of the negative one in verse Hebrews 7:20.

Verse 22

By so much also (κατα τοσουτο κα). Correlative demonstrative corresponding to καθ' οσον (the relative clause) in verse Hebrews 7:20.

The surety (εγγυος). Vulgate sponsor. Old word, here only in the N.T., adjective (one pledged, betrothed), from εγγυη, a pledge, here used as substantive like εγγυητης, one who gives a pledge or guarantee. There may be a play on the word εγγιζω in verse Hebrews 7:19. Εγγυαω is to give a pledge, εγγυαλιζω, to put a pledge in the hollow of the hand. It is not clear whether the author means that Jesus is God's pledge to man, or man's to God, or both. He is both in fact, as the Mediator (ο μεσιτης, Hebrews 8:6) between God and man (Son of God and Son of man).

Verse 23

Many in number (πλειονες). Comparative predicate adjective, "more than one," in succession, not simultaneously.

Because they are hindered (δια το κωλυεσθα). Articular infinitive (present passive) with δια and the accusative case, "because of the being hindered."

By death (θανατω). Instrumental case.

From continuing (παραμενειν). Present active infinitive of the compound (remain beside) as in Philippians 1:25 and in the ablative case.

Verse 24

Because he abideth (δια το μενειν αυτον). Same idiom as in verse Hebrews 7:23, "because of the abiding as to him" (accusative of general reference, αυτον).

Unchangeable (απαραβατον). Predicate adjective in the accusative (feminine of compound adjective like masculine), late double compound verbal adjective in Plutarch and papyri, from alpha privative and παραβαινω, valid or inviolate. The same idea in verse Hebrews 7:3. God placed Christ in this priesthood and no one else can step into it. See verse Hebrews 7:11 for ιερωσυνη.

Verse 25

Wherefore (οθεν). Since he alone holds this priesthood.

To the uttermost (εις το παντελες). Old idiom, in N.T. only here and Luke 13:10. Vulgate renders it in perpetuum (temporal idea) or like παντοτε. This is possible, but the common meaning is completely, utterly.

Draw near (προσερχομενους). Present middle participle of προσερχομα, the verb used in Hebrews 4:16 which see.

To make intercession (εις το εντυγχανειν). Purpose clause with εις and the articular present active infinitive of εντυγχανω for which verb see Romans 8:34. "His intercession has red blood in it, unlike Philo's conception" (Moffatt).

Verse 26

Became us (ημιν επρεπεν). Imperfect active indicative of πρεπω as in Hebrews 2:10, only there it was applied to God while here to us. "Such" (τοιουτος) refers to the Melchizedek character of Jesus as high priest and in particular to his power to help and save (Hebrews 2:17) as just explained in Hebrews 7:24 Moffatt notes that "it is generally misleading to parse a rhapsody" but the adjectives that follow picture in outline the qualities of the high priest needed by us.

Holy (οσιος). Saintly, pious, as already noted. Cf. Acts 2:24; Acts 13:35.

Guileless (ακακος). Without malice, innocent. In N.T. only here and Romans 16:18.

Undefiled (αμιαντος). Untainted, stainless. In the papyri. Not merely ritual purity (Leviticus 21:10-3.21.15), but real ethical cleanness.

Separated from sinners (κεχωρισμενος απο των αμαρτωλων). Perfect passive participle. Probably referring to Christ's exaltation (Hebrews 9:28).

Made higher than the heavens (υψηλοτερος των ουρανων γενομενος). "Having become higher than the heavens." Ablative case (ουρανων) after the comparative adjective (υψηλοτερος).

Verse 27

First (προτερον). Regular adverb for comparison between two, though πρωτον often occurs also (John 1:41), with επειτα (then) following.

For the sins (τον). Only the article in the Greek with repetition of υπερ or of αμαρτιων.

When he offered up himself (εαυτον ανενεγκας). First aorist active participle of αναφερω, to offer up. See same idea in Hebrews 9:14 where εαυτον προσηνεγκεν is used. Old verb for sacrifice to place on the altar (1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 2:24).

Verse 28

After the law (μετα τον νομον). As shown in verses Hebrews 7:11-58.7.19, and with an oath (Psalms 110:4).

Son (υιον). As in Psalms 2:7; Hebrews 1:2 linked with Psalms 110:4.

Perfected (τετελειωμενον). Perfect passive participle of τελειοω. The process (Hebrews 2:10) was now complete. Imperfect and sinful as we are we demand a permanent high priest who is sinless and perfectly equipped by divine appointment and human experience (Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 5:1-58.5.10) to meet our needs, and with the perfect offering of himself as sacrifice.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Hebrews 7". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.