Perfect Priest, Perfect Salvation
Hebrews 7
Jesus, the great high priest, is the assurance of our salvation.
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#highpriest
#jesus
Published November 3rd, 2019; Updated November 3rd, 2019
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Main point summary
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Main point summary
The Law is set aside and a better hope is introduced, sealed with an oath that results in a better covenant: fulfilled and guaranteed in the fitting great high priest, Jesus, the Son, made perfect forever, who is able to save completely and at all times.
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NT
Hebrews 7:1-28
esv
mine
For this q Melchizedek, king of r Salem,
For this person, Melchizedek (the king of Salem,
priest of s the Most High God,
and priest of the Most-High-God)
series
met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings
met Abraham (then Abram) as he returned from the slaughter of the kings
and blessed him,
and blessed him,
progression
ideaexplanation
and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything.
and Araham gave him a tenth of everything that was spoil!
situationresponse
He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness,
This Melchizedek first is a king of righteousness (translating his name),
and then he is also king of Salem,
and also king of Salem,
that is, king of peace.
i.e. king of peace.
He is without father or mother t or genealogy,
Melchizedek, is seen to be without father or mother or genealogy in a book stuffed with ancestry,
having neither beginning of days nor end of life,
having neither a beginning or end of life,
actionmanner
but resembling the Son of God
but instead just as the Son of God
he continues a priest forever.
so also he continues a priest forever.
comparison
negativepositive
See how great this man was to whom Abraham u the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils!
Therefore see what a great man this was! Abraham the patriarch, whom we see as great, was tithing to this Melchizedek!
And v those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people,
And it is the descendants of Abraham, specifically the descendants of Levi, who are appointed to the office of priests, who have a commandment to take tithes from the people,
that is, from their brothers, 1
i.e. from their brothers,
though these also are descended from Abraham.
although these brothers are also descendants of Abraham.
concessive
But this man w who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham
On the other hand , this man who is not a descendant of Levi (and not a Levitical priest) collected tithes from Abraham,
and blessed x him who had the promises.
and moreover , blessed Abraham, to whom was given the promises, just like a priest would!
It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior.
In other words, Since it goes without question that the inferior is blessed by the superior, it follows that Abraham was inferior to Melchizedek.
alternative
In the one case tithes are received by mortal men,
So we see that in one case, tithes are received by the mortal men who are priests,
but in the other case, by one y of whom it is testified that z he lives.
but in the other case , we see tithes being given to someone seen as immortal.
One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes,
We might even conclude that Levi, from whom the priesthood descends, although receives tithes,
paid tithes through Abraham,
paid tithes to this superior priest, Melchizedek,
for he was still in the loins of his ancestor
because he was still in the loins of Abraham
when Melchizedek met him.
when Melchizedek met Abraham.
temporal
ground
inference
a Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood
An implication follows: if the fullness of all of God's purposes could be attained through the Levitical priesthood
(for under it the people received the law),
( for the priesthood and the law were bound up tightly, the priesthood being central to the Law)
what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek,
then what need is there for a replacement priesthood in the order of Melchizedek,
rather than one named after the order of Aaron?
instead of the one described after the order of the descendants of Aaron? We only replace something that is faulty.
conditional
For when there is a change in the priesthood,
Because if there is a change in the priesthood - so central to the law,
there is necessarily a change in the law as well.
then there has to be a change in the law as well.
For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe,
Because the one of whom these words in Psalm 110 were spoken, this priest after the order of Melchizedek, belonged to a different tribe
from which no one has ever served at the altar.
i.e. one from which no one has ever served as priest under the Law.
For it is evident that our Lord was descended b from Judah,
In other words , our Lord was from the tribe of Judah, a tribe of kings,
and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.
and Moses said nothing whatsoever about priests from that tribe.
This becomes even more evident
This change in law because of the change in priesthood becomes more clear
when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek,
when another priest arises (and he has arisen) in the pattern of Melchizedek
who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent,
who has become of the priesthood, not based on the Law and the mortal pedigree of Levitical descent,
but by the power of an indestructible life.
but instead, is priest by the power of an indestructible life.
For it is witnessed of him, c “You are a priest forever , after the order of Melchizedek.”
Because it is testified of him, "You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek."
For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside
In other words, an old law is set aside on the one hand
d because of its weakness and uselessness
because of it's weakness and uselessness,
(for e the law made nothing perfect );
since the law made nothing perfect;
but on the other hand, f a better hope is introduced,
but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced,
through which g we draw near to God.
by which we draw near to God (become perfect).
And it was not without an oath.
And this hope is with an oath!
For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath,
In other words , those who became priests under the Law were made priests without an oath,
but this one was made a priest
instead this priest after the order of Melchizedek was made a priest
with an oath by the one who said to him:
with an oath by the one who said to him:
h “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind,
"The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind,
‘You are a priest forever. ’”
'You are a priest forever.'"
This makes Jesus the guarantor of i a better covenant.
This results in Jesus becoming the guarantor of a better covenant.
The former priests were many in number,
How? While the Levitical priests were many in number
because they were prevented by death from continuing in office,
because they would die and be succeeded in that office by others,
but he holds his priesthood permanently,
Jesus, instead , holds the priestly office permanently
because he continues j forever.
because he continues forever.
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost 1 k those who draw near to God l through him,
Therefore, Jesus is able to save perfectly and at all times anyone who draws near to God through him.
since he always lives
because he always lives
m to make intercession for them.
in order to make intercession for these who draw near to God.
actionpurpose
For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest,
In summary , it was indeed suitable and proper that we should have such a high priest,
n holy,
who is godly and set apart,
innocent,
without sin and impeccable,
unstained,
pure,
o separated from sinners,
unlike other men, who are sinners,
and p exalted above the heavens.
and exalted above the heavens, in the presence of God
He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily,
Therefore, he has no requirement to keep on offering sacrifices, unlike the Levitical high priests,
q first for his own sins
by sacrificing first, for his own sins
and then for those of the people,
and then also for the sins of the people,
since he did this r once for all
because he has done this once for all
when he offered up himself.
when he offered up himself as a sacrifice.
For the law appoints men s in their weakness as high priests,
It is fitting that we have this perfect high priest, because the law calls upon men to be high priests; men who are full of weakness.
but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son
But the word of God, guaranteed with an oath, which came later, superceding the law (without an oath), appoints a Son
who has been made t perfect forever.
who has been made the perfect high priest, not temporarily, but forever.
actionresult
Numbers 6:22-27 ; Blessing the nation of Israel was a calling given to the priesthood of Aaron.
This hope is not without an oath. It is not mere flimsy wish, but assurance and expectation grounded in a legal guarantee witnessed by the universe's highest possible authority
He repeatedly goes back to this idea. The great high priest is a guarantor because of the oath.
Why is it fitting and appropriate that we should have such a high priest? Because the law is not an oath and appoints temporary high priests in their weakness, unlike the word of oath that appoints a Son made perfect forever. This word of oath came later, which tells us that the old law was faulty (because of us, cf. 8:7-8)
To trace the argument from Hebrews 6: After the warning and exhortation to imitate the faith of the promise-inheritors, the writer goes on to explain how God, in one promise to Abraham, also swore by himself, guaranteeing his promise with an oath, thus giving strong encouragement to hold fast to the anchor of hope (of glory) beyond the veil, where Jesus is our forerunner and great high priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek
Genesis 14
While God Most High was the name of a Caananite god, Abraham's refers to this as Yahweh in Genesis 14:22 and later on so does the Psalmist (Psalm 57:2)
Now it’s an argument from silence. You’re basing something on something that’s not there; it’s an argument from silence. But arguments from silence can be powerful if you expect noise. An argument from silence when there’s no expectation of noise is not a powerful argument. But if you expect noise, and the noise you expect in this case, judging by the entire book of Genesis, is that genealogies are mentioned, beginning of life and end of days are mentioned for all the important figures. You expect the noise. But when there’s no noise, it’s important, it’s significant, it’s symbol laden. DA Carson This is not a historical argument, but a literary one.
Cf. 7:23-28
If you thought Abraham was great, here was someone Abraham the great patriarch was tithing to!
Cf. 7:3; Psalm 110:4 (priest forever)
Point proved. Melchizedek and his priesthood are superior to Abraham and thus far superior to the Levitical priesthood. Therefore this great high priest, if he is of Melchizedek's order, is far superior to Abraham and by extension and the priesthood to which his descendants are called.
First came Melchizedek in Genesis 14, then centuries later we have the Mosaic Law, and centuries after that you have David talking about a king-priest in the order of Melchizedek. So the latter talks about a replacement of the former because you don't need an order of Melchizedek priesthood if the earlier Levitical priesthood worked. This is a salvation-historical argument.
Why should there be a change in law? Note that most of the Torah talks about the ceremonial law (while we often focus only on the moral law). This was important because it dictated what was acceptable to God and how one could be acceptable to God, i.e. holy and pure. This was key! This entire ceremonial Law hinged around the Tabernacle and the priesthood. So if we are proposing a change of the very core of the Law, it followed that the entire law needed change. The fact that this change is announced in the OT, in Psalm 110, is important as it essentially announces the Law being obsolete.
See 7:4-6
A unique duality of king and priest, that was illegal under the Law.
The author doesn't explain further, but in talking about Melchizedek's being 'king of righteousness and peace', he might be referring to Jesus' work of imputing to us righteousness and thus bringing about reconciliation with God, i.e. makes possible a drawing near to God through him (7:25)
δεδεκάτωκεν to collect tithe from This seems to suggest that Melchizedek collected tithes by right, just like the Levitical priesthood did (7:9).
This was no small man that is being considered as inferior. This was him to whom was given the promises of God; e.g. cf. 6:13-15. Imagine, therefore, the superiority of the person giving the blessing!
The terms ἀπάτωρ, ἀμήτωρ, apatōr, amētōr, “without father or mother,” are found in both pagan and Jewish writings to describe divine beings. Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 94). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
This pointed terminology underlines the irony that it is the very lack of the pedigree that was the glory and the authority of the Levitical priests ( Nu 3:10 ; 18:1 , 7 ) which is the basis for this extraordinary priest’s superior status, outside and above the family of Abraham. (For the problem faced by would-be priests within Israel who could not produce a recorded genealogy, see Ne 7:63–65 .) Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 94). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
Dt. 33:7-11
as opposed to 'bodily descent'
as opposed to 'legal requirement'
What 'perfection' is referring to in 7:11,19
ἀνατέλλω I make to rise, I rise, shine Cf. Nu 24:17, Zech 6:12 (branch out), Jer 23:5
ver. 17, 21 ; ch. 5:6 ; 6:20 ; Cited yet again from Ps. 110:4
Referring to the better hope with an oath
Cf. 6:13-20
Unlike the Levitical order, which was not founded on any divine oath
Engyos, “guarantor” (GK 1583), is a legal term used for those who stand as surety for a monetary or other agreement. Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 99). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition. God needs no guarantee over his promises, but he still swears and guarantees for the sake of his people.
ch 1:1-2; many vs one
ver 3,16-17,21 Thus fulfilling Ps 110:4
cf. ver 19; perfection is seen in our drawing near to God. Jesus enables this as we come to God through him. “Completely” translates the phrase eis to panteles, which can be taken either of degree (“wholly, totally”) or of time (“forever”). In this discussion of mortality and immortality, the latter sense would clearly be appropriate, but since a “total” salvation must be one that is “for all time,” the two senses are not in competition. Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 100). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
draw near to, have access to Ro 5:2; Eph 2:18; 3:12 ch 4:16; 10:1, 22; 11:6; 12:18-22
But the priests in the OT had also another function, not so often mentioned—the role of intercession for the people before God (perhaps best exemplified by Moses, Ex 32:11–14, 30–32, but also symbolized in the high priest’s “bearing the names of the sons of Israel over his heart … as a continuing memorial before the Lord,” Ex 28:29), and that role too is fulfilled by our high priest. Whereas his sacrifice was offered once for all, his intercession continues, and that is why we need a high priest who “always lives.” While he was on earth, Jesus prayed for his people (Lk 22:32; Jn 17), and Paul speaks in Romans 8 not only of the Spirit pleading on our behalf but also of Jesus interceding for us at God’s right hand (Ro 8:26, 34; cf. also 1Jn 2:1). The theme may not be frequently mentioned, but it is a vital source of pastoral assurance Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 100). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
When the theme of Jesus’ priesthood was first introduced in ch 2:17; 3:1; 4:14, 15; 5:5, 10; 6:20, he was described not as “priest” (the term was used only in 5:6 when quoting Ps 110:4) but specifically as “high priest,” though in this chapter the term “priest” has been used consistently and frequently up to this point. This is because the argument has been developed from the figure of Melchizedek, who is described simply as “priest” in Genesis 14:18, as is his successor in Psalm 110:4. Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 101). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
cf. 2:10
Lev 21:16-23
Lev 21:1-15
All these qualifications set Jesus up as perfect godly high priest (and sacrifice), qualifying him within the Levitical preisthood requirements and beyond, i.e. in his exalted state permanently in the real throne room, not made with human hands beyond the heavens (veil). Hence, ver 27b
ch 4:15; both humanly perfect and perfectly human (Montefiore, 129)
ch 5:2-3; thus his sacrifice can be wholly for the people.
Once for all, because in him was no chance of repeated sin (ver 26), for repeated sacrifice. And he was the sacrifice that atoned for all is people's sin for all time. cf. 9:7; where the priest goes once each year. This once-for-all made this covenant better, cf. 10:1-2. The shadow has passed on to reality.
ch 9:12-15,25-28, 10:5-10
In the sense that the later word (Ps 110:4) is God's last word; moreso, the later word comes with an oath - the ultimate sanction. Cf. 6:16-18
Cf. 2:10
discourse
Notes
1. How is Melchizedek superior to the Levitical Priesthood? Melchizedek is seen as superior to Abraham, in that Abraham gave him tithes (seemingly, by right) Melchizedek blessing Abraham proves his superiority over Abraham (7:7) By extension, Levi, the great-grandson of Abraham is also inferior to this king-priest and so is the order of priesthood 7:3,8 He appears to be immortal, unlike the Levitical priests The reuse of Melchizedek in Psalm 110:4 proclaimed the obsolescence of the Law! What need would there have been for this other order of priesthood, if the Levitical order made perfect? In other words, because of its imperfections (8:6-13), there was a need for a better priesthood. 2. How was Jesus' priesthood superior, explained in this chapter? 7:1-10 By being of the order of Melchizedek, Jesus' priesthood is by default more superior to the Levitical order (see notes above) 7:26 He was sinless unlike the Levitical priesthood 7:19 A better hope is offered through the priesthood of Jesus - a hope by which we can draw near to God, in other words, be made perfect (cf. 7:11,19) 7:20 This better hope is grounded on an oath that no Levitical high priest was grounded on. 7:20 Thus, Jesus is a guarantee of a better covenant altogether, unlike the priests who were never seen as guarantors, but mediators (who taught and interceded). In one verse, ideas are introduced - the giving way to the new, better covenant and Jesus standing as a guarantee of it. 7:23-24 Jesus is the single permanent priest 7:25 Jesus saves perfectly and at all times those who come through him to God 7:27 Because he was sinless, he didn't have to offer sacrifices for himself but could offer himself as a sacrifice (8:3) 7:27 This sacrifice was a once-for-all sacrifice, looking forward and backwards while atoning for all sin of the people 7:28 The Levitical priesthood was appointed by Law, dependant on both parties of that covenant, and thus faulty; but the great high priest was appointed by oath (Psalm 110:4); the oath came after the law and thus declared a change in Law, the old one being weak and useless in its ability to make perfect (7:11-12, 18-19). 7:28 the great high priest's ministry is forever unlike the temporal high priests among the Levites 7:28 the great high priest appointed is the Son (the Davidic king, Son of God) 3. What is described as better/superior to what in this passage? Why? Abraham superior to Levi Melchizedek superior to Abraham, thus superior to Levi Jesus is of the order of Melchizedek, living forever, and superior to the Levitical priesthood. Thus the hope offered by him is better than the commandment. Thus, the covenant offered through Jesus is better than the Law because of its permanent guarantor - the great high priest, Jesus, Son of God who is able to save his people to the uttermost. 4. While it is nice to bask in the beauty of this, who/what is better than Jesus to me, in reality? (cf. Hebrews 11) In other words, who is Jesus to me? 5. How do we draw near to God, i.e. with what attitude and expectation? 6. What assurance can we live life with? What impact does the truth of Jesus' better priesthood have on our everyday living?
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