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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

Hebrews 7

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-6

ARGUMENT 5

THE TWO HIGH PRIESTHOODS: THAT OF AARON AND THAT OF CHRIST.

1-3. Melchisedec was a Shemitish priest and prophet, belonging to the Patriarchal dispensation which preceded the Mosaic. He lived and officiated at Salem, which is the old name of Jerusalem. Salem means peace and Jerus means possession. Hence when David took the citadel of Mount Zion from the Jebusites he called it Jerusalem. Melchisedec met Abraham returning from his expedition after the Oriental kings. Genesis 14. He was his pastor, residing at Jerusalem. Pursuant to the tithe law, doubtless of antediluvian recognition, Abraham paid him one tenth of all the spoils. The statement that he was without father, mother or genealogy has no reference to his natural manhood, but purely to his sacerdotal character and office. Under the Patriarchal dispensation to which he belonged, the priests were not identified with a certain family, as the Levitical priests all belonged to the Aaronic, but were indiscriminately called of God from the popular masses, as under the Gospel dispensation. Here Melchisedec is contrasted with the Aaronic priesthood, all of whom must of necessity have a priestly father, mother and posterity. In process of time the Aaronic priests became so numerous as to overcrowd the official demand. Therefore, during the reign of David they were divided into classes, and their services regulated by courses, pursuant to which each priest had his time to enter upon his official service and to go out. In the providence of God, Zacharias was officiating in his priestly office when the angel Gabriel announced the conception of John the Baptist. The priesthood of Christ was inaugurated in heaven, when He took His mediatorial seat at the right hand of God. It was inaugurated on earth when the Pentecostal baptisms ushered forth the new ministry forever superseding the Aaronic priesthood. Therefore Melchisedec is a prominent isolated character selected from the patriarchal dispensation to represent the priesthood of Christ, i.e., the true Christian of the Gospel dispensation, who is utterly unencumbered by sacerdotal consanguinities ad libitum, called of God to preach the everlasting Gospel. perfectly, freely, without the slightest human restrictions.

4-10. The historic statement in this paragraph logically enforces the superiority of Melchisedec, i.e. of Christ, over the Aaronic priesthood, authenticated by the fact that the latter paid tithes to the former. Is the tithe law obligatory on the Church of God at the present day? The very fact that we are not living under the law, but under grace, renders it impertinent to enforce the tithe law, yet Jesus says He “came not to destroy the law but to fulfill.” Therefore the Gospel Church can never fall below the law dispensation. Consequently, we must give the Lord at least one-tenth, and pursuant to the glorious spiritual liberty of entire sanctification, we ought to just give Him all, and ourselves, too. The present state of legal bondage prevalent in the Church, is deplorable in the extreme; not only Romanism but the Protestant churches have lamentably gone back into the legal bondage of the Mosaic dispensation, so awfully encumbered with human institutions of their own inventions as to put yokes on the necks of their members too heavy to bear, thus working them hard for that which is not bread, and never can satisfy the hungry soul. Meanwhile they give them no time to serve God, but actually crowd Him out of the heart. It is deplorable on a Sabbath morning to hear the announcements for the ensuing week, taking up all the time on financial, social and ecclesiastical enterprises, instead of devoting the solid week to the Lord’s war for the salvation of perishing souls. Thus the popular churches of all countries, papal and Protestant, are this day groaning under the yoke of legal bondage, plodding along in the Mosaic dispensation three thousand years behind the age. Nothing hut the glorious gospel of entire sanctification can ever emancipate the Church from the hard bondage of the Mosaic law. The holiness movement at the present day is shaking the world with the momentum of an earthquake, everywhere snapping the fetters and smashing the chains of legal bondage which have bound the Gospel Church ever since the Constantinian apostasy, despite all the efforts of popery, prelacy and priestcraft to hold all the members fast in this legal bondage. Egypt is sin-land; the wilderness, law-land; Canaan, grace-land; and heaven, glory-land. Pharaoh, who represents the devil, holds the unconverted in the bondage of sin; the law, which thundered forth from Mt. Sinai in the wilderness, holds all the peregrinators of that land in legal bondage, because it has a quarrel with them. Adam the first, who still survives in their hearts, is a violator of the law, and doomed to die under it. When all antagonism to the divine law has been eradicated out of our hearts, so that we are perfectly free from all inclination to violate the law, then we are just as free from the law as if there were no law.

11, 12. Here the Holy Ghost certifies the impossibility of perfection under the Levitical priesthood. The stream can never rise above its source. With an imperfect exemplar, no one will ever reach perfection, hence the utter impossibility of Christian perfection under the Aaronic priesthood. Many of the patriarchs and prophets, swept out by faith into the Gospel dispensation, received and enjoyed full salvation, but they were in advance of the Levitical priesthood. The normal economy under the former dispensation was to reach perfection in the article of death. Since the great majority of church members at the present day are really in the Mosaic dispensation, they only reach perfection in the article of death. Sinners follow Satan. Unsanctified Christians follow the Lord to an extent, but mainly do they follow preachers and church officials; while wholly sanctified people follow the Lord alone. Preachers blindly covet intolerable labor, burden and responsibility, when they seek popular leadership, since no human being is competent to the emergency. Pastors and people will never he truly happy, prosperous and useful, till they get saved from all human leadership and follow Jesus only.

13, 14. Here the author reminds us that our Lord emanated from the tribe of Judah, to which no priest belonged, and not from the tribe of Levi, with which all the Aaronic priests were identified. The Holy Ghost makes no mistake. He has made the Bible precisely right. If our Lord had sprung from the tribe of Levi, it would have given a slight plausibility to the greatest of all the heresies which have ever paralyzed the church, i.e., that of priestcraft. Without the slightest authority or plausible pretext the Gospel Church, long ages ago, has gone back into the Mosaic dispensation, despite the positive deliverances of God’s Word to the contrary. Hence, if our Lord had been a Levite, oh, how they would have mixed Him up with the Aaronic priests, and what a bold pretext they would have for the intriguing priesthood which belts the globe this day, boldly usurping the throne of Christ, each audacious to proclaim his heretical, secular ecclesiasticism as the only true church of God on the earth, and clamoring aloud to the people to come, join his sect, receive water baptism at his hands, assuring him that his sins are forgiven and his name written in heaven. Not only do the clergy usurp the throne of Christ in their wicked and audacious pretensions to administer the grace of absolution, but they everywhere boldly transcend their official prerogative and again pertinaciously usurp the throne of Christ in their arrogant interdictions to the people to pass beyond their official administrations and seek the glorious, omnipotent Savior in the full sanctification of their hearts and the Pentecostal enduement of the Holy Ghost. Then they rage worse than ever when the sanctified people, pursuant to their heavenly calling, push out into the highways and hedges, determined to press the Lord’s war to the gate of the enemy, girdling the globe with salvation, filling all lands with the glory of God, and ushering in the millennium. The very fact that our Savior did not spring from the tribe to which all the pastors belonged, is incontrovertible proof of His transcendent superiority and utter independence of all human ecclesiasticism, or pontifical authority and dictation As He is so are His people. Two hundred millions of martyrs have laid down their lives for this glorious freedom. We are now rushing into the perils of the last days, which will try men’s souls as in the martyr ages. We might apologize for creeds during the dark ages when not one man in a thousand could read or write, but certainly the age of creeds is past.

We need them no more, as all can now read the Bible, the only creed of God’s true and free people, and Jesus our only Leader and Exemplar, and the Holy Ghost our Convictor, Regenerator and Sanctifier.

15-17. “Who was not made after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.” This describes the humanity of Christ. Jesus is perfect God and perfect man. His humanity the only unfallen son of Adam and Eve. As he is free from the fall, he was not made subject to the carnal commandment, but endued with the power of an endless life. We all enter this world in Adam the first, contaminated and encumbered by the fall. Since Adam the first violated the law and fell under its penalty, our only hope is in the transition to Adam the Second. Since the law of God is indefragable, all who are finally involved in its violation must go down in its condemnation, when the whole world shall stand before the great white throne. In that momentous ordeal none will pass with impunity outside of Adam the Second. He is the only human being who has. never violated the divine law. Consequently, He alone will stand with impunity in that great day. The great work of the gracious economy is the successful transference out of Adam the first into Adam the Second. In regeneration, the nature of Adam the Second is born in our hearts, enthroned to abide and rule forever. In sanctification, Adam the first, having been subjugated in regeneration, is forever eliminated. This Scripture explains the irrepressible conflict of all ages between the Christ nature in our hearts and secular ecclesiasticism, which in all ages have pertinaciously striven to enforce their carnal commandments on the children of God. Here the martyrs have bled The true saints of God are not subject to the Aaronic priesthood, but belong to that of Melchisedec, who is not only free from all earthly restrictions and encumbrances, but even free from all the ties of consanguinity, but equally free from all the restrictions of ecclesiastical legislation. Glory to God for this wonderful and perfect spiritual and evangelistic freedom! Reader, do you enjoy it? Neither father nor mother, son nor daughter, nor ecclesiastical court can ever lay the weight of a feather on your spiritual liberties. It may he your glorious privilege to glorify your great High Priest by suffering even unto martyrdom; all of which, and a thousand times more, is blessed for Jesus’ sake, since this liberty is sweeter than life and stronger than death.

18-25. These eight verses constitute a beautiful paragraph in the inspired Greek, in which this grand argument on the high priesthood of Christ, contrastively with the Aaronic, reaches its climateric culmination.

19. “The law made nothing perfect.” This declaration of the Holy Ghost forever sweeps from the field the popular dogma of perfection by growth, i.e., by works. All of our good works consist in obedience to the commandments. This vain delusion has been the deceiver of millions in all ages. How natural to conclude that good works will make us perfect! This would take the glory from Christ and confer it on ourselves. He alone is our Perfecter. We may wear our lives out in legal obedience and drop into hell at last.

25. “Therefore truly He is able to save unto the uttermost those who come unto God through Him, ever living to intercede for them.” “Uttermost” is panteles, which is a compound superlative adjective here used adverbially to qualify “save.” This word is from pan, all, and telos, the end or perfection. Hence it means entirely and completely, i.e., every constituency of our being, unto perfection. This wonderful Greek compound does not occur in the classics. The inspired writer of this wonderful epistle made that word under the leadership of the Holy Ghost. It most indubitably and forever sweeps away all possible cavil as to the great Scriptural doctrine of Christian perfection. The Holy Ghost ransacked the most beautiful and forcible language in the world, culled out the two strongest words and put them together, in order to reveal this glorious truth of Christian perfection. To doubt it in the least, or lay the slightest restriction on it, is to impeach the veracity of the Holy Ghost. Our great High Priest has not only fully, perfectly and eternally satisfied the violated law by offering His own body a sacrifice and substitute on the cross, but having ascended up to heaven, the Father has accepted the ransom paid for this guilty world, crowned Him Mediatorial King at His right hand, where He ever liveth to intercede for every penitent soul who crieth unto God. He never sleeps and never evacuates His office. Hence every fleeting moment He is ready to intercede for us. The Father has already and forever accepted the atonement He has made for all this guilty world. Hence, our own blind unbelief is the only conceivable preventive of this uttermost salvation for every soul beneath the skies. The very idea of necessary postponement is utterly out of the question. The man who does not believe in an instantaneous and entire sanctification thereby evinces to the world that he is still groping amid the disabilities of the Aaronic priesthood.

26, 27... “Who hath need daily as the high priest, first to offer up sacrifices for his own sins, and then for those of the people; for he did this once offering up himself.” Here we have a striking contrast between the priesthood of Aaron and that of Christ. The Aaronic priest in all of his administrations first offered up a sacrifice for himself and then made offerings for the sins of the people. You have been a lifelong witness to the same fact in the public ministrations of the popular clergy. A preacher holds a protracted meeting in a revival effort. He has to make his own soul a specialty first of all, to get the revival started in his own heart. If in a week’s preaching and praying he himself gets revived, the revival omen is really auspicious for a good work in his church. It is quite different with the sanctified preacher. He is already emptied of sin and filled with the Holy Spirit, enjoying a constant revival in his own heart. Hence he opens the campaign with a shout of victory in his own soul. The revival fire burning brightly in his own experience, quickly catches the dry fuel of consecration and faith in the members of his audience. Consequently the fire blazes and the revival moves from the opening service, without the arduous labor of two weeks expended to get up a revival. As Jesus our great High Priest made our offering on the cross, and forever sat down at God’s right hand, so His true and faithful followers make the one offering, in which, unreservedly and eternally consecrating all to God, they consign Adam the first, the body of sin surviving in the heart of the regenerate, to the Holy Ghost that He may nail him to the cross to bleed and die. Jesus never claimed to be perfect in His Messianic office and character until He suffered death on the cross. Even so His followers are imperfect in their Christian character and experience till they suffer the crucifixion of Adam the first on the cross. Thus we follow in the footprints of Jesus to the lowly manger where we are born in utter obscurity, then to the rugged cross where we die to the world, the flesh and the devil. As Jesus achieved an everlasting victory at the cross, so do His followers triumph over the world, the flesh and the devil when they suffer spiritual crucifixion on the cross, wrought by the Holy Ghost when, pursuant to our perfect consecration and submissive faith, He nails the body of sin surviving in our hearts to the cross, and with it the native evil in our organism is at once and forever exterminated. When our hearts are thus thoroughly expurgated of all spiritual foes, victory comes to stay, we have a true and genuine revival of religion within, and have it forever. This experience inaugurates us into the High Priesthood of Christ. Jesus is Prophet, Priest and King. While on earth His prophetical office predominated. He was the most indefatigable preacher the world ever saw. The first great act of His priestly office was the consecration of His own body to bleed and die on the cross. Then and there His priestly office predominated over the prophetical, and will so continue till He rides down onto His millennial throne, after which His kingly office will predominate forever. He is our great, infallible Paragon and only Exemplar. Therefore all who follow Him beyond the cross enter His royal high priesthood on the bloody summit of Calvary. The old man of sin is crucified, washed away and consumed by the Pentecostal fires. This experience gives us an everlasting victory within, sweeping away all the restrictions and disabilities which encumbered the Aaronic priesthood. Melchisedec is our human illustrative example, without father, mother, genealogy or periodic limitation. Thus you see the members of our Savior’s High Priesthood are perfectly free from all human limitations, natural, ecclesiastical and secular. Jesus proposes perfectly to disencumber and gloriously enfranchise the members of His priesthood so that they shall be “free indeed.” The apostasy of the Apostolic Church from the experience of Christian perfection is the greatest calamity of the Apostolic age, as it reverted the Gospel dispensation back into the Aaronic priesthood, again foisting upon the Church the innumerable inconveniences and disabilities of that onerous legal bondage, from which Jesus died to set her free.

28. “For the law maketh men high priests having infirmity, but the word of the oath which is after the law the Son having been made perfect forever.” God’s memorable oath (Luke 1:73-75), confirmatory of the glorious possibility of entire sanctification, experimentally received and permanently enjoyed, enthrones Jesus the glorified High Priest in the heart to reign forever, expurgating the malady of the fall by His blood, and vitalizing our whole soul and life by His Spirit, filling and flooding us forever. Thus in the sanctified believer, enjoying the full Gospel salvation under the High Priesthood of Christ, He is Lord of all, God blessed for evermore. The great ecclesiasticisms which belt the globe at the present day, unknown and unheard of in the Bible, have lamentably usurped the High Priesthood of Christ, and thus carried the Gospel Church back into the Mosaic dispensation, again encumbering the necks of the people with multitudinous burdens of legal bondage. They fight Christian perfection because it lifts the yoke of legal bondage and enfranchises the people of ecclesiastical thralldom.

1, 2. The first word in this chapter is kephalaion, the head. Hence here it means the pinnacle climacteric fact in this glorious reality is that the meek and lowly Galilean, born in a stable, reared at the bottom of slumdom, condescending low enough to put His philanthropic arm under the vilest of the vile, having compassed the globe with the Briarean arms of His condescending love, by His own death on Calvary having fully, completely and eternally expiated the guilt of a lost world, ascended up to heaven, glorified and triumphant over death, hell and the grave, received cordially by His loving Father, fully and eternally satisfied with the atonement made, in the presence of angels, archangels, cherubim and seraphim, has been crowned Mediatorial High Priest, Omnipotent Intercessor of fallen humanity, world without end. Amen!

3-6. Jesus emanated not from the tribe of Levi, to which all the Aaronic priests belonged, but from that of Judah. [How significant the fact that all the Jews have lost their tribehood except Judah. That is the tribe of Jesus, still surviving on the earth, waiting to hail their royal Brother descending from the skies.] Therefore Jesus never belonged to the Levitical priesthood, whose restrictions and disabilities encumbered it with a trend and habitude peculiarly earthly, and strikingly contrastive with the spiritual, heavenly and unearthly priesthood of Jesus. When Moses spent forty days on Mt. Sinai, in communion with Jehovah, preparatory to the building of the portable wilderness tabernacle, God gave him all needed specifications and instructions even unto minutiae appertaining to that wonderful superstructure. Hence a volume of spiritual truth is typically revealed in the different parts and connections constituting the tabernacle. It was all symbolic of Christian experience, adumbrating the sanctified heart under the Gospel dispensation, which is the temple of the Holy Ghost. The millions of money uselessly expended on church edifices at the present day, every dollar of which belongs to God, and ought to go to heathen lands, are a universal memento of our sad apostasy back into the Mosaic dispensation. We frequently hear them actually apologize for this criminal prodigality of the Lord’s money, by reference to the gorgeous splendors and beauties and costliness of Solomon’s temple. In that argument they confess judgment against themselves. The wilderness tabernacle and Solomon’s temple belong to the typical dispensation of an earthly priesthood. We are living in the spiritual, experimental dispensation of a heavenly priesthood. The gold of the tabernacle and the temple emblematized the holiness of a sanctified heart. So, if you want to be in harmony with the tabernacle and the temple, get sanctified wholly and you are there. The money thus shamefully pilfered from the Lord’s treasury and wasted in church edifices would have evangelized the whole world long ago, and brought on the millennium. This is the result of preachers and churches living in the dispensation of Moses three thousand years behind the age.

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Hebrews 7:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/hebrews-7.html.

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