November 4, 2009
7:1 FOR THIS Melchizedek, king of Salem [and] priest of the Most High God, met Abraham as he returned from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,
1. Salem: generally understood to be Jerusalem, but some think that it was that city of Shechem mentioned Josh 20:7. Jerome was of this opinion.
a. Jerome lived about 350 AD and he greatly offended his contemporaries by his attempt to correct the Latin version of the Bible, which had become greatly distorted by the blending together of different translations.
b. He completed this work and is regarded by all Biblical scholars as “by far the most important and valuable work of Jerome.
2 And Abraham gave to him a tenth portion of all [the spoil]. He is primarily, as his name when translated indicates, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, which means king of peace.
1. It was an ancient custom, among all the nations of the earth, to consecrate a part or tenth of the spoils taken in war to the objects of their worship.
2. This however was not according to any provision in law, but merely ad libitum, and as a Eucharistic offering to those to whom they imagined they owed the victory.
3. In Abraham’s case, he knew to whom he owed the victory.
4. Peace: Gr. Eirene: peace, by implication, prosperity.
3 Without [record of] father or mother or ancestral line, neither with beginning of days nor ending of life, but, resembling the Son of God, he continues to be a priest without interruption and without successor.
1. To the Jews, anyone not born of the seed of Abraham was considered to have neither father nor mother.
2. According to the Jew, then both Christ & Melchizedek were without father & mother because they were not descended from the original Jewish stock.
3. (Some contend that Melchizedek was a Canaanite, was a priest of the most high God, and after reigning in Salem 113 years, he died a righteous man and a bachelor.)
4. Melchizedek was without father & mother, having neither beginning or end of days; his genealogy is not recorded, when he was born and when he died is unknown.
a. His priesthood is considered as perpetual, and in these respects he was like Jesus Christ: who, as to his Godhead, had neither father nor mother, beginning of time or end of days, and has an everlasting priesthood.
b. The priesthood of Melchizedek is to be perpetual on the same grounds that he is said to be without father or mother.
c. There is no record of the end of his priesthood or life, no more than there is any account of his ancestry.
4 Now observe and consider how great [a personage] this was to whom even Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth [the topmost or the pick of the heap] of the spoils.
1. There is much mystery in the person & character of this king of Salem.
2. He seems to have been sort of a universal priest, having none superior or equal to him in all that region, and superior even to Abraham himself, the father of the Jewish race.
5 And it is true that those descendants of Levi who are charged with the priestly office are commanded in the Law to take tithes from the people — which means, from their brethren — though these have descended from Abraham.
1. The sons of Levi have authority from the law of God to receive tithes from the people.
2. The priests received a tenth of this tenth from the Levites, who are here called their brothers.
3. Here the apostle shows that Melchizedek was greater even than Abraham so here the Levites were represented as paying tithes to Melchizedek through Abraham, showing a higher priesthood than Aaron.
6 But this person who has not their Levitical ancestry received tithes from Abraham [himself] and blessed him who possessed the promises [of God].
1. This continues the same discussion to show the superiority of Melchizedek and in consequence, to prove the superiority of the priesthood of Christ beyond that of Aaron.
2. As in the seed of Abraham all the nations of the earth were to be blessed, Abraham received the blessing from Melchizedek, who was a representative of the Messiah, the promised seed, to show that it was through Him, as the high priest of the human race, that this blessing was to be derived on all mankind.
7 Yet it is beyond all contradiction that it is the lesser person who is blessed by the greater one.
1. The greater blessing the lesser is not a simple wishing of good to others, but the action of a person authorized to declare God’s intention to bestow good things on another: Issac and Jacob blessed their children, the priests under the law blessed the people, and in this same manner likewise, Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God, blessed Abraham.
8 Furthermore, here [in the Levitical priesthood] tithes are received by men who are subject to death; while there [in the case of Melchizedek], they are received by one of whom it is testified that he lives [perpetually].
1. Under the Jewish dispensation, even though the priests were successively removed by death, they were replaced by others appointed from the same family, and the payment of tithes was never interrupted.
2. As there is no account of Melchizedek ceasing to be a priest, or of his dying, he is represented as still living, the better to point him out as a type of Christ, and his priesthood more excellent than that which was according to the law.
a. Therefore this unchanging priesthood must be more excellent than that which was continually changing.
9 A person might even say that Levi [the father of the priestly tribe] himself, who received tithes (the tenth), paid tithes through Abraham,
10 For he was still in the loins of his forefather [Abraham] when Melchizedek met him [Abraham].
11 Now if perfection (a perfect fellowship between God and the worshiper) had been attainable by the Levitical priesthood — for under it the people were given the Law — why was it further necessary that there should arise another and different kind of Priest, one after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one appointed after the order and rank of Aaron?
1. Perfection, or completion could never come by Levitical law, it was a shadow of good things to come, but was not the substance.
2. It represented a perfect system, but was imperfect in itself; it showed that there was guilt, and that there was an absolute need for sacrificial offering to atone for sins, but every sacrificial act under the law proved that it was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin.
3. The law was given before the priesthood was established: Aaron and his sons were not called nor separated to this office until Moses came down the 2nd time from the mountain with new tables.
4. It was in reference to the sacrificial system that the law was given and on that law the priesthood was established; for, why was a priesthood necessary, but because that law was broken and must be fulfilled.
5. Melchizedek had a priesthood more than 400 years before the law was given, and David prophesied in Ps 110:4, that another priest should arise after the order of Melchizedek nearly 500 years after the law was given.
a. The law did not contain the original priesthood; this existed typically in Melchizedek, and really in Jesus Christ.
12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is of necessity an alteration of the law [concerning the priesthood] as well.
1. The very essence of the Levitical Law consisting in its sacrificial offerings, could not confer perfection, could not reconcile God to man, purify the unholy heart, nor open the kingdom of heaven to the souls of men, consequently it must be abolished, according to the order of God Himself who said: Sacrifice and offering, and burnt-offering, and sacrifice for sin, he would not see. (Ps 40:6-7, Heb 10:5-10, and Ps 110:4.
2. It is evident God designed to change both the law and the priesthood, and to introduce Jesus as the only Priest and Sacrifice.
3. The priesthood, therefore, being changed, Jesus coming in the place of Aaron, the law of ordinances and ceremonies, which served only to point out the Messiah, must of necessity be changed also.
13 For the One of Whom these things are said belonged [not to the priestly line but] to another tribe, no member of which has officiated at the altar.
1. Jesus the Messiah, spoken of in Ps 110:4 came from the tribe of Judah, not Levi, and could not minister at a Jewish altar according to the law.
14 For it is obvious that our Lord sprang from the tribe of Judah, and Moses mentioned nothing about priests in connection with that tribe.
1. It was a matter of fact that the Lord descended from the tribe of Judah was incontrovertible.
2. The genealogical tables, in Matthew and Luke, establish this point.
15 And this becomes more plainly evident when another Priest arises Who bears the likeness of Melchizedek, [Ps 110:4.]
1. It is plain that God designed the Levitical priesthood to be changed because of the oath in Ps 110 where, addressing the Messiah, he says: Thou art a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, who was not only a priest, but also a king.
2. None of the Levitical priests held this dual office, but only the person of our Lord Jesus has this dual office.
16 Who has been constituted a Priest, not on the basis of a bodily legal requirement [an externally imposed command concerning His physical ancestry], but on the basis of the power of an endless and indestructible Life.
1. Jesus was appointed to this high office by God himself.
2. Not dying, or through weakness ceasing to be a priest, but immortal himself, and having power to confer life and immortality on others.
3. He lives forever, as Priest, to make intercession for men; and they who believe on Him shall never perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For it is witnessed of Him, You are a Priest forever after the order (with the rank) of Melchizedek. [Ps 110:4.]
1. This is proof that according to the power of an endless life, because he is a priest forever, one that never dies, and is never disabled from performing the functions of his office; for if he is a priest forever, he forever lives.
18 So a previous physical regulation and command is cancelled because of its weakness and ineffectiveness and uselessness —
1. It had no power, no spirit to minister, it required perfect obedience, but furnished no assistance to those who were under it.
2. It pardoned no sin, changed no heart, reformed no life; it found men dead in trespasses and sins; it was therefore weak in itself, and unprofitable to men.
3. The Jews, who still hold to it, are a proof that it is both weak and unprofitable, for they are distressed and oppressed.
19 For the Law never made anything perfect — but instead a better hope is introduced through which we [now] come close to God.
1. The law was only the outline of a great plan, the shadow of the things to come.
2. The former Levitical law went before to prepare the way of the Lord.
3. The better hope, not the earthly, but the spiritual gave privileges and advantages the law couldn’t.
4. Now through Christ, as our high priest, have entrance into the Holy of Holies, there where God dwells.
20 And it was not without the taking of an oath [that Christ was made Priest],
1. God gave an oath to Abraham, that through his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed, to the rebellious Israelites, that they should not enter his rest, (Deut 1:34-35), Moses, (Deut 4:21) that he whould not go into Canaan, and to David, (Ps. 89:4), that his seed should endure forever, and his throne unto all generations. (His oaths are forever)
2. The Levitical law and the priesthood were established “without an oath”, therefore they were declared changeable at God’s pleasure.
3. Therefore since He swore an oath that Christ would be high priest forever, it will be unchangeable forever.
21 For those who formerly became priests received their office without its being confirmed by the taking of an oath by God, but this One was designated and addressed and saluted with an oath, The Lord has sworn and will not regret it or change His mind, You are a Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. [Ps 110:4.]
22 In keeping with [the oath's greater strength and force], Jesus has become the Guarantee of a better (stronger) agreement [a more excellent and more advantageous covenant].
1. Jesus was the guarantee, or mediator, (one who brings the two parties together) of the better covenant.
2. The New Covenant is better than the old:
a. God promised to the Jewish nation certain secular blessings, peculiar to that nation, on condition of their keeping the law of Moses; but under the new covenant he promises pardon of sin, and final salvation to all mankind, on condition of believing on Jesus Christ.
b. The Jewish priests, fallible, dying men, were mediators of the old covenant, by means of their sacrifices, which could not take away sin, nor render the comers thereunto perfect. But Jesus Christ, who lives forever, who is infinite in wisdom and power, by the sacrifice of himself has established this new covenant, and by the shedding of his blood has opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers, in this life and in the next.
23[Again, the former successive line of priests] was made up of many, because they were each prevented by death from continuing [perpetually in office];
1. Under the Mosaic law it was necessary that there should be a succession of priests.
24 But He holds His priesthood unchangeably, because He lives on forever.
1. Since Christ will never die, His priesthood is forever.
25 Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost (completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with Him and intervene for them.
1. Because He is an everlasting priest, and has offered the only available sacrifice, He is able to save completely.
2. Since Jesus was the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world, has an everlasting priesthood, and is a continual intercessor, it is because of this that all who were saved from the foundation of the world and to the end of the world will be saved through Him.
3. He was and forever will be the High Priest, Sacrifice, and Mediator of the human race, but none can be saved by His grace that do not come to God through Him.
4. The Jewish high priest made intercession for the people on the day of atonement, and which was a type of Christ's intercession in heaven.
a. He made it, not by offering of prayers for them in the most holy place, but by sprinkling the blood of the sacrifices on the mercy-seat, in token of their death.
b. And as, by that action, he opened the earthly holy places to the prayers and worship of the Israelites during the ensuing year; so Jesus, by presenting his humanity continually before the presence of his Father, opens heaven to his people in the present life, and also after the resurrection."
26[Here is] the High Priest [perfectly adapted] to our needs, as was fitting — holy, blameless, unstained by sin, separated from sinners, and exalted higher than the heavens.
1. He was holy, and merciful, He shed his blood for the sins of mankind.
2. He was perfectly without sin in His humanity.
3. He was undefiled; He contracted no sin in consequence of His dwelling among men.
4. He was absolutely unblamable in his conduct so he could challenge his enemies with, “which sin are you convicting me of?” And, “who of you can show in my conduct any deviation from the truth and righteousness?”
27 He has no day by day necessity, as [do each of these other] high priests, to offer sacrifice first of all for his own [personal] sins and then for those of the people, because He [met all the requirements] once for all when He brought Himself [as a sacrifice] which He offered up.
1. He offered no sacrifice for himself, but only for the people.
2. He did not sacrifice annually, but once for all.
3. The sacrifice which he offered was not of calves and goats, but of Himself.
4. This sacrifice, not just for one people, but for the whole human race; He tasted death for every man.
28 For the Law sets up men in their weakness [frail, sinful, dying human beings] as high priests, but the word of [God's] oath, which [was spoken later] after the institution of the Law, [chooses and appoints as priest One Whose appointment is complete and permanent], a Son Who has been made perfect forever. [Ps 110:4.]
1. The Jewish priests needed repeated offerings and sacrifices because they are fallible, sinful men.
2. The oath (still referring to Ps 110:4) which was since the law, for David, who mentions this, lived nearly 500 years after the giving of the law.
3. Because Jesus was High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, there was no need of a rigorous examination of his genealogy to show his right.
4. Another priesthood was promised, different from that of Aaron, implied that the Levitical priesthood was insufficient, the priesthood of Christ, being that promised, must be greater than that of Aaron.
5. The Levitical priests were only by their office distinguished from the rest of their brothers, being equally frail, mortal, and corruptible, but Jesus, our high priest, is higher than the heavens.
6. The old covenant required perfect obedience from the very beginning of life; this is impossible, because man comes into the world a sinner.
a. The new covenant declares God’s righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, and furnishes grace to all true believers.
b. Christ does not perform the obedience of faith on behalf of man.
c. It is the highest privilege of believers to love God with all their hearts and to serve Him with all their strength, and to keep the moral law.