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Bible Commentaries

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Hebrews 7

Verse 1

Heb 7:1. This epistle was written for the special benefit of the Hebrews (or Jews) who had become Christians. The Judaizers in those days were very busy in trying to force the Mosaic system upon Christians, claiming it to be still in force. The argument of this book is based on both contrasts and likenesses between the t w o systems. But a special argument is made in connection with the priesthood of Melchisedec. All readers of the Old Testament know it was predicted that the "other priest" (verse 11) was to be more like Melchisedec than Aaron. The present argument, therefore, is concerning that remarkable character. Salem is a short name for Jerusalem (Psa 76:2), where this man was located as both king and priest. The Jews made great claim of being related to Abraham, yet this verse (citing Gen 14:18-20) shows that Melchisedec blessed Abraham. And since a person would need to be greater than another in order to be able to bless him (verse 7), this circumstance shows that even their father Abraham was not as great a person as Mel-chisedec. Proper nouns in Bible times often had distinctive meanings, and Thayer says that the name Melchisedec means, "King of righteousness," which is the statement in our verse. Salem is defined in this verse as King of peace, and the brief information given in Thayer's lexicon does not contradict it. Melchisedec is set forth as a type of Christ, hence it was fitting to connect him with a place signifying "peace." (See Isa 9:6.)

Verse 2

Heb 7:2. Another fact showing Mel-chisedec to have been greater than Abraham, is that the latter paid tithes (a tenth) of his personal property to the former.

Verse 3

Heb 7:3. The key to this misunderstood verse is in the meaning of the phrase without descent. It is from the Greek word AGENEALOGETOS which Thayer defines as follows: "Of whose descent there is no account." This was no accident nor is it due to a lack of custom or facilities for recording descent which means a record of family names. Many other persons of those times had their pedigrees or family names recorded in the Bible. (See Genesis 10.) This shows that God had a purpose in leaving out all record of Melchisedec's family, namely, so that he would appear in that sense to be like that "other priest" who actually was not to have any descendants. (See Isa 53:8; Act 8:33.) In other words, the verse describes the situation of Melchisedec as God permitted it to appear in history, in order to form a type of Christ whose situation as to family relationship was to be actually that way. Withnut father and without mother means he did not obtain his priesthood from his ancestors as did the Levitical priests (Exo 29:29-30; Num 20:28). The beginning of the days of Melchisedec and the end of life are all kept from the record for the purpose of carrying out the type, and it is to be understood on the same principle as "without descent" explained above. In this way he was made like unto the Son of God. This shows they were two separate persons, but were like unto each other in certain respects. If no record is given of the death or replacement of Mel-chisedec, then logically his priesthood was continous. This was true of him apparently, as it was true of Christ actually.

Verse 4

Heb 7:4. Paul did not underestimate the greatness of Abraham; he emphasized it. However he used that fact in support of his reasoning, since it was made clear that notwithstanding his greatness, he was inferior to Mel-chisedec who was declared in so many points to be like Jesus in the priesthood order.

Verse 5

Heb 7:5. This verse continues the argument based on likenesses and contrasts between important characters. It is evident that he who pays tithes is less than the one to whom he pays them. Abraham paid tithes to Melchisedec hence was of less importance than he. But the Levite priests (who descended from the great man Abraham) took tithes from the people. The argument is that although the Levitical priests were great enough to receive tithes from the people, yet their great ancestor was not great enough to receive tithes from Mel-chisedec, but rather had to pay them to him. All this is according to the teaching, that the priestly order of this great man Melchisedec being more like that of Christ than was that of Levi, it follows that the priesthood of Christ should be accepted over all previous ones.

Verse 6

Heb 7:6. The reasoning of this verse is virtually the same as the several preceding ones. There is one additional point on the greatness of Abraham, namely, he was the one to whom God made the first promise of Christ.

Verse 7

Heb 7:7. Without all contradiction means it is so evident that it cannot be successfully disputed. Blessed is from EULOGEO which Thayer defines at this place, "To invoke blessings." In order for a good wish to have any assurance of fulfillment, it must be uttered by someone endowed with special knowledge and authority. Mel- chisedec had such qualification since he was the priest of the most high God.

Verse 8

Heb 7:8. The word here stands for the Levitical priesthood, and there refers to that of Melchisedec. Men that die is said because the priests under the Levitical order ceased to serve because of death and the event was recorded. Whereas there is no record of the death of Melchisedec, and as far as the historical account is concerned he is still living. The point is that while the priests designated by here had tithes given them, yet they were subject to death. The priest designated by there also received tithes, but there is no account of his death. This makes him superior to the other priests notwithstanding both orders received tithes.

Verse 9

Heb 7:9. Another contrast between Melchisedec over Levi is that the latter (though being given tithes), himself paid tithes to Melchisedec while in Abraham's body.

Verse 10

Heb 7:10. Was yet in the loins, etc. Paul takes advantage of a common theory believed by the Hebrews concerning the seat of the reproductive function. The word for loins is OSPHUS which Thayer defines. "A loin . . . the (two) loins," and then explains it by, "The Hebrews thought the generative powers resided in t h e loins." Strong defines it, "The loins (externally), i. e., the hip; internally (by extension) procreative powers." There was a pure blood line from Abraham to Levi, who was only the fourth generation from his great ancestor. In this sense Levi was represented by Abraham as he paid the tithes to Melchisedec. This is a phase of the argument based on the superiority of Melchisedec over Levi.

Verse 11

Heb 7:11. The law of Moses was inspired and served the purpose of the Lord, but it was not intended to be permanent as to the duration of its force. (See Gal 3:18-25) The Judaizers (Jews who tried to force the law of Moses on Christians) maintained that it was to be permanent. Paul reasons that since the law was received under the Levitical priesthood, such law would necessarily be changed whenever the priesthood was changed. But it was well established that another priest was to arise like Melchisedec more than like Aaron (father of the Levities), therefore the point is made that the law was not longer in force.

Verse 12

Heb 7:12. This is a repetition Of the argument in verse 11.

Verse 13

Heb 7:13. These things refers to the statements about another priest who was to bring a change in the law. That priest belonged to another tribe, which had nothing to do with the altar service.

Verse 14

Heb 7:14. Evident denotes something that is plainly established and understood. Juda is a short spelling of Judah, the tribe from which Christ sprang or was produced. The genealogies of Matthew 1 and Luke 3 show Christ to have descended from David, who all readers of the Bible know was a descendant of Judah the fourth son of Jacob. And the writings of Moses concerning the system of priesthood were completely silent about the tribe of Judah.

Verse 15

Heb 7:15. Yet far more evident means the testimony on behalf of the priesthood of Jesus is still more clearly shown. Paul refers to the comparison made between Melchisedec and Him, and the point is made stronger by the fact that Melchisedec lived several centuries before the Mosaic system was started. And it was concerning Melchisedec that another priest was to arise; flint is, another besides him.

Verse 16

Heb 7:16. Carnal means pertaining to the flesh; the Levitical priests received their office through their fleshly birth. Melchisedec was made a high priest by the Lord independent of any fleshly relationship to anyone. Endless life is used in the sense set forth in verse 3, namely, his life is still continuing as far as any record of his death is concerned. This makes Melchisedec's priesthood more like that of Christ than was that of the priests in the Levitical order.

Verse 17

Heb 7:17. The pronoun he refers to God, who testified or declared that the Son was to be priest for ever (unchanging, throughout the age) after the order of Melchisedec.

Verse 18

Heb 7:18. To disannul signifies to cancel the force of the law which went before. God declared that such an act would be done by changing the priesthood and also the commandment (law of Moses). The reason for this annulling was the weakness and un-profitableness thereof. This weakness was not through any failure of God. for it was not brought into the world with the idea of its being final and complete. (See Gal 3:18-25.)

Verse 19

Heb 7:19. Law made nothing perfect. The last word means something complete regardless of the quality of the thing spoken of. Since the law was added for a limited time only (see reference in Galatians cited above), it follows that God did not equip it with the entire requirements of a spiritual life. Better hope is a term used to designate the hope that is held out to those who serve under the priesthood of Christ in the place of the Levitical one.

Verse 20

Heb 7:20. Another contrast in favor of Christ is that he obtained the priesthood under the oath of God (verse 21).

Verse 21

Heb 7:21. Without an oath is a negative statement, based on the truths that are recorded in the books of Exodus and Leviticus. In all those passages where so much is said about the priesthood of the Levites, the reader will not find one instance of an oath in connection with their office. On the other hand we find a positive declaration (Psa 110:4) that an oath was made in reference to the priesthood of Christ. Will not repent means that the Lord will never change his mind concerning the priesthood of Christ, namely, that it is to be after the order of Melchisedec.

Verse 22

Heb 7:22. By so much refers to the oath by which Jesus was made a High Priest, and it enabled Him to make a testament (or covenant) that was better. The last word does not infer that the first one was not good as to its qualities or principles of righteousness. Paul elsewhere (Rom 7:12) declares the law to be good and holy, but the second is better in the sense of having more advantages and being more useful.

Verse 23

Heb 7:23. The first system was served by priests whose terms were terminated by death, which made it necessary for it to have many priests.

Verse 24

Heb 7:24. This man refers to Christ who continueth ever because He never died after becoming a priest. Unchangeable means the priesthood did not pass or change from one man to another, hence it necessarily was a stronger system.

Verse 25

Heb 7:25. An advocate or representative may start pleading for a client, and be getting the case in good shape. Then if something makes it needful to change representatives, he may be unable to do as satisfactory a service as the previous one because of the break in the procedure. Christ never died and hence he is always on the case and is at all times "up to date" on the conditions.

Verse 26

Heb 7:26. Became us means it was fitting that we of the last dispensation should have a High Priest having the best of qualifications. Holy, harmless, undefiled all means a character that is perfect, and Christ has such because He is separate from sinners; has no association with them. Higher refers to rank or importance rather than bodily position; Jesus is more lofty as a High Priest than all the heavens.

Verse 27

Heb 7:27. There are two contrasts between Christ and the Levitical priests, namely, they had to offer sacrifices daily and also needed to atone for their own sins. Christ had to offer a sacrifice only once for the people, and not one time for Himself for he had no sins for which to make atonement.

Verse 28

Heb 7:28. The priests made under the law were infirm in that they were subject to death. Word of the oath came after the law since David (to whom the oath was made) lived some centuries after Moses (through whom the law was given). The point is that since the oath came after the law, it proves that document was not considered absolutely perfect. This later act (the oath) maketh the Eon (High Priest). The grand total conclusion is our High Priest has a service that continues evermore.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Hebrews 7". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/hebrews-7.html. 1952.