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Bible Commentaries

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

Hebrews 7

 

 

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Verses 1-3

Melchizedek, the Man

Melchizedek was both priest and king, just as Christ was, so it could be said that Christ was like him. Remember that Melchizedek was introduced in (Genesis 14:18-20). Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek to maintain his worship and support the true religion. Melchizedek is called "King of righteousness" because that is the meaning of his name. Fudge states, "To the Hebrew, "righteousness" meant the faithful performing of all duties proper to a relationship."

As far as the scriptural revelation concerning him, we know nothing of his parents, his beginning, or his end. Melchizedek was without father and mother in the priesthood. Christ was of the tribe of Judah and did not, therefore, have parents, or ancestors, who were priests. Because he had no one before him or after him in the priesthood, Melchizedek is said to be a priest forever. Thus, he was made like Christ, who is eternal (Hebrews 7:1-3).


Verses 4-7

Melchizedek’s Superiority to Abraham

Melchizedek received tithes from Abraham from the best of the spoils. There is a clear distinction between his priesthood and that of Levi. The priests of Levi were the Hebrews" brethren and were commanded to collect tithes. "But Abraham"s act of tithing was voluntary and spontaneous, a tribute to Melchizedek"s personal greatness" (Lightfoot, p. 139). He was not of Abraham"s kindred and, seemingly, had no legal right to force Abraham to tithe, yet Abraham gave him the tithe and received the blessing.

Every nation will be blessed through Abraham"s seed (Genesis 12:3). Yet, he received a blessing of Melchizedek. It is always true that the one who is blessed is lesser than the one doing the blessing. Sons are blessed of their father (Genesis 27:1-29) and nations are blessed by kings (Hebrews 7:4-7; 2 Samuel 6:18-19).


Verses 8-10

Melchizedek’s Superiority to Levi

The scriptures would also show one that the Aaronic priests died, but there is no record of Melchizedek"s so doing. He did not receive his priesthood by birth, nor did he pass it on to his descendants. On the other hand, the Aaronic priesthood was passed on through the family (1 Chronicles 6:49-53). Levi received tithes under the law. Yet, Levi was in the loins of Abraham at the time that Abraham paid tithe to Melchizedek, so, being a part of Abraham, Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek. The writer offers this as proof of verse 9. Similar statements would be familiar to the Hebrew reader (Hebrews 7:8-10; Genesis 35:11; Genesis 46:26; 1 Kings 8:19).


Verses 11-20

The Imperfections of Levi’s Priesthood

If the end of God"s plan for the redemption of man was to come under the Levitical priesthood, there would not have been a need for another priest of the order of Melchizedek. Parenthetically, the writer reminds the reader that redemption under the old law stands or falls with the Levite priest (Galatians 3:21-24). Since the priesthood changed under Christ, the law must also have changed. Priests were important in the Mosaic system. Without their sacrifices, there would be no law. The change in law and some of its effects are noted elsewhere in scripture (2 Corinthians 3:6-14; Galatians 3:19-29; Galatians 4:19-31). In Colossians 2:10-17, Paul shows that the order of the priesthood was changed at the cross, since in Christ"s crucifixion the law of Moses was nailed to the cross (Hebrews 7:11-12).

Under the law, only those of the house of Aaron could serve at the altar (Numbers 16-). Psalms 110:4 indicates a change was to one day come. Since Jesus was not of Aaron"s house, He could not, by law, wait at the altar. Jesus was of the tribe of Judah, which was not the priestly tribe (Isaiah 11:1-5; Micah 5:2; Revelation 5:5; Matthew 1:1-25; Luke 3:1-38). The priesthood of Christ is that of the order of Melchizedek and represents a change from the Aaronic priesthood. Christ was also of the tribe of Judah, which shows a change in the priestly tribe since it was that of Levi. Jesus did not receive his priesthood from a fleshly, perishable, line of men, but from the eternal power of God.

The law of Moses just gave the priesthood to descendants with no thought of other qualifications. Christ received the office of priest because He was eternal. Melchizedek’s priesthood was totally uninterupted, so Christ could only be called a priest after his order once He was raised from the dead and could serve without interruption (Hebrews 7:13-17; Psalms 110:4).

The law of Moses had to be set aside, made void, or abolished before a new law could take effect. The law had to be replaced because it could not bring anything to perfection. The new law is better as it allows one to draw closer to God through the blood of Christ. God"s oath in connection with Christ"s priesthood stresses its importance. It also shows that this law was to last forever, since God fully keeps his oaths and a Melchizedek priest has no end (Hebrews 7:18-20).


Verses 21-28

The Superiority of Christ’s Priesthood

The Aaronic priesthood was not guaranteed to last forever, since it had no oath. Jesus was made a priest forever by the power of God"s oath. A Testament is a will, while a covenant is an agreement, usually between equals. However, if there are conditions in a will there is an element of an agreement. Lightfoot says the word translated "has become" is in the perfect tense, with the sense of "has made and is now making." Jesus is the "surety", or "bondsman" of this agreement. Vine says, "He is the personal guarantee of the terms of the new and better covenant, secured on the ground of His perfect sacrifice" (Hebrews 7:21-22).

The writer next contrasted Christ’s priesthood with that of the high priests, who, under the law, were limited in time of service by the length of their lives. All of the high priests under the Law of Moses died. Christ"s priesthood is unchanging since He lives forever. Thus, in the Christian Age there is only one High Priest in contrast to many under Moses" law. Then, Christ will always be ready to help those that seek God through him. He stands ready to plead our case (1 John 2:1), or intercede at God"s throne on our behalf. He is able to save completely and eternally. Jesus is just the High Priest man needs. He came to earth as a man, yet remained spotless, without sin. He is now on the throne in heaven and is thus separated from sinners as the High Priest had to be before the Day of Atonement. Now, on that throne, Christ rules with all things under his authority (Hebrews 7:23-26; Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:22-23).

A stark contrast between Christ and Levitical High Priests is made clear when one remembers they had to offer daily sacrifices for their own sins and the sins of the people. Christ, as our High Priest, has sacrificed Himself for our sins once and for all. Under the old law, the High Priest was a man and was subject to human weaknesses. We now have Jesus Christ the perfect Son of God as a High Priest (Hebrews 7:27-28).

 


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Bibliography Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Hebrews 7:4". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ghc/hebrews-7.html. 2014.

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