Hebrews 7:1-28 . CHRIST'S HIGH PRIESTHOOD AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHISEDEC SUPERIOR TO AARON'S.
15. Another proof that the law, or economy, is changed, namely, forasmuch as Christ is appointed Priest, "not according to the law of a carnal (that is, a mere outward) commandment," but "according to the power of an indissoluble (so the Greek) life." The hundred tenth Psalm appoints Him "for ever" ( Hebrews 7:17 ). The Levitical law required a definite carnal descent. In contrast stands "the power"; Christ's spiritual, inward, living power of overcoming death. Not agreeably to a statute is Christ appointed, but according to an inward living power.
it--the change of the law or economy, the statement ( Hebrews 7:12 Hebrews 7:18 ).
far more--Greek, "more abundantly."
for that--"seeing that," literally, "if"; so Romans 5:10 .
after the similitude of Melchisedec--answering to "after the order of Melchisedec" ( Hebrews 5:10 ). The "order" cannot mean a series of priests, for Melchisedec neither received his priesthood from, nor transmitted it to, any other mere man; it must mean "answering to the office of Melchisedec." Christ's priesthood is similar to Melchisedec's in that it is "for ever" ( Hebrews 7:16 Hebrews 7:17 ).
another--rather as Greek, "a different."
16. carnal . . . endless--mutually contrasted. As "form" and "power" are opposed, 2 Timothy 3:5 ; so here "the law" and "power," compare Romans 8:3 , "The law was weak through the flesh"; and Hebrews 7:18 , "weakness." "The law" is here not the law in general, but the statute as to the priesthood. "Carnal," as being only outward and temporary, is contrasted with "endless," or, as Greek, "indissoluble." Commandments is contrasted with "life." The law can give a commandment, but it cannot give life ( Hebrews 7:19 ). But our High Priest's inherent "power," now in heaven, has in Him "life for ever"; Hebrews 9:14 , "through the eternal Spirit"; Hebrews 7:25 , "able . . . ever liveth" ( John 5:26 ). It is in the power of His resurrection life, not of His earthly life, that Christ officiates as a Priest.
17. For--proving His life to be "endless" or indissoluble ( Hebrews 7:16 ). The emphasis is on "for ever." The oldest manuscripts read, "He is testified of, that Thou art," &c.
18. there is--Greek, "there takes place," according to Psalms 110:4 .
of the commandment--ordaining the Levitical priesthood. And, as the Levitical priesthood and the law are inseparably joined, since the former is repealed, the latter is so also
going before--the legal ordinance introducing and giving place to the Christian, the antitypical and permanent end of the former.
weakness and unprofitableness--The opposite of "power" ( Hebrews 7:16 ).
19. For, &c.--justifying his calling the law weak and unprofitable ( Hebrews 7:18 ). The law could not bring men to: true justification or sanctification before God, which is the "perfection" that we all need in order to be accepted of Him, and which we have in Christ.
nothing--not merely "no one," but "nothing." The law brought nothing to its perfected end; everything in it was introductory to its antitype in the Christian economy, which realizes the perfection contemplated; compare "unprofitableness," Hebrews 7:18 .
did--rather connect with Hebrews 7:18 , thus, "There takes place (by virtue of Psalms 110:4 ) a repealing of the commandment (on the one hand), but (on the other) a bringing in afterwards (the Greek expresses that there is a bringing in of something over and above the law; a superinducing, or accession of something new, namely, something better than the good things which the pre-existing law promised [WAHL]) of a better hope," not one weak and unprofitable, but, as elsewhere the Christian dispensation is called, "everlasting," "true," "the second," "more excellent," "different," "living," "new," "to come," "perfect." Compare Hebrews 8:6 , bringing us near to God, now in spirit, hereafter both in spirit and in body.
we draw nigh unto God--the sure token of "perfection." Weakness is the opposite of this filial confidence of access. The access through the legal sacrifices was only symbolical and through the medium of a priest; that through Christ is immediate, perfect, and spiritual.
20. Another proof of the superiority of Christ's Melchisedec-like priesthood; the oath of God gave a solemn weight to it which was not in the law-priesthood, which was not so confirmed.
he was made priest--rather supply from Hebrews 7:22 , which completes the sentence begun in this verse, Hebrews 7:21 being a parenthesis, "inasmuch as not without an oath He was made surety of the testament (for . . . ), of so much better a testament hath Jesus been made the surety."
21. Translate in the Greek order, "For they indeed (the existing legal priests) without the (solemn) promise on oath (so the Greek [TITTMANN]) are made priests."
unto him--the Lord, the Son of God ( Psalms 110:1 ).
not repent--never change His purpose.
after the order of Melchisedec--omitted in some oldest manuscripts, contained in others.
22. surety--ensuring in His own person the certainty of the covenant to us. This He did by becoming responsible for our guilt, by sealing the covenant with His blood, and by being openly acknowledged as our triumphant Saviour by the Father, who raised Him from the dead. Thus He is at once God's surety for man, and man's surety for God, and so Mediator between God and man ( Hebrews 8:6 ).
better-- Hebrews 8:6 , 13:20 , "everlasting."
testament--sometimes translated, "covenant." The Greek term implies that it is appointed by God, and comprises the relations and bearings partly of a covenant, partly of a testament: (1) the appointment made without the concurrence of a second party, of somewhat concerning that second party; a last will or testament, so in Hebrews 9:16 Hebrews 9:17 ; (2) a mutual agreement in which both parties consent.
23. Another proof of superiority; the Levitical priests were many, as death caused the need of continually new ones being appointed in succession. Christ dies not, and so hath a priesthood which passes not from one to another.
were--Greek, "are made."
many--one after another; opposed to His "unchangeable (that does not pass from one to another) priesthood" ( Hebrews 7:24 ).
not suffered to continue--Greek, "hindered from permanently continuing," namely, in the priesthood.
24. he--emphatic; Greek, "Himself." So in Psalms 110:4 , "THOU art a priest"; singular, not priests, "many."
continueth--Greek, simple verb, not the compound as in Hebrews 7:23 . "Remaineth," namely, in life.
unchangeable--Greek, "hath His priesthood unchangeable"; not passing from one to another, intransmissible. Therefore no earthly so-called apostolic succession of priests are His vicegerents. The Jewish priests had successors in office, because "they could not continue by reason of death." But this Man, because He liveth ever, hath no successor in office, not even Peter ( 1 Peter 5:1 ).
25. Wherefore--Greek, "Whence"; inasmuch as "He remaineth for ever."
also--as a natural consequence flowing from the last, at the same time a new and higher thing [ALFORD].
save--His very name JESUS ( Hebrews 7:22 ) meaning Saviour.
to the uttermost--altogether, perfectly, so that nothing should be wanting afterwards for ever [TITTMANN]. It means "in any wise," "utterly," in Luke 13:11 .
come unto God--by faith.
by him--through Him as their mediating Priest, instead of through the Levitical priests.
seeing he ever liveth--resuming "He continueth ever," Hebrews 7:24 ; therefore "He is able to the uttermost"; He is not, like the Levitical priest, prevented by death, for "He ever liveth" ( Hebrews 7:23 ).
to make intercession--There was but the one offering on earth once for all. But the intercession for us in the heavens ( Hebrews 7:26 ) is ever continuing, whence the result follows, that we can never be separated from the love of God in Christ. He intercedes only for those who come unto God through Him, not for the unbelieving world ( John 17:9 ). As samples of His intercession, compare the prophetical descriptions in the Old Testament. "By an humble omnipotency (for it was by His humiliation that He obtained all power), or omnipotent humility, appearing in the presence, and presenting His postulations at the throne of God" [BISHOP PEARSON]. He was not only the offering, but the priest who offered it. Therefore, He has become not only a sacrifice, but an intercessor; His intercession being founded on His voluntary offering of Himself without spot to God. We are not only then in virtue of His sacrifice forgiven, but in virtue of the intercession admitted to favor and grace [ARCHBISHOP MAGEE].
26. such--as is above described. The oldest manuscripts read, "also." "For to us (as sinners; emphatical) there was also becoming (besides the other excellencies of our High Priest) such an High Priest."
holy--"pious" (a distinct Greek word from that for holy, which latter implies consecration) towards God; perfectly answering God's will in reverent piety ( Psalms 16:10 ).
harmless--literally, "free from evil" and guile, in relation to Himself.
undefiled--not defiled by stain contracted from others, in relation to men. Temptation, to which He was exposed, left no trace of evil in Him.
separate--rather, "separated from sinners," namely, in His heavenly state as our High Priest above, after He had been parted from the earth, as the Levitical high priest was separated from the people in the sanctuary (whence he was not to go out), Leviticus 21:12 . Though justifying through faith the ungodly, He hath no contact with them as such. He is lifted above our sinful community, being "made higher than the heavens," at the same time that He makes believers as such (not as sinners), "to sit together (with Him) in heavenly places" ( Ephesians 2:6 ). Just as Moses on the mount was separated from and above the people, and alone with God. This proves Jesus is GOD. "Though innumerable lies have been forged against the venerable Jesus, none dared to charge Him with any intemperance" [ORIGEN].
made--Jesus was higher before ( John 17:5 ), and as the God-MAN was made so by the Father after His humiliation (compare Hebrews 1:4 ).
higher than the heavens--for "He passed through [so the Greek] the heavens" ( Hebrews 4:14 ).
27. daily--"day by day." The priests daily offered sacrifices ( Hebrews 9:6 , 10:11 , Exodus 29:38-42 ). The high priests took part in these daily-offered sacrifices only on festival days; but as they represented the whole priesthood, the daily offerings are here attributed to them; their exclusive function was to offer the atonement "once every year" ( Hebrews 9:7 ), and "year by year continually" ( Hebrews 10:1 ). The "daily" strictly belongs to Christ, not to the high priests, "who needeth not daily, as those high priests (year by year, and their subordinate priests daily), to offer," &c.
offer up--The Greek term is peculiarly used of sacrifices for sin. The high priest's double offering on the day of atonement, the bullock for himself, and the goat for the people's sins, had its counterpart in the TWO lambs offered daily by the ordinary priests.
this he did--not "died first for His own sins and then the people's," but for the people's only. The negation is twofold: He needeth not to offer (1) daily; nor (2) to offer for His own sins also; for He offered Himself a spotless sacrifice ( Hebrews 7:26 , Hebrews 4:15 ). The sinless alone could offer for the sinful.
once--rather as Greek, "once for all." The sufficiency of the one sacrifice to atone for all sins for ever, resulted from its absolute spotlessness.
28. For--reason for the difference stated in Hebrews 7:27 , between His one sacrifice and their oft repeated sacrifices, namely, because of His entire freedom from the sinful infirmity to which they are subject. He needed not, as they, to offer FOR HIS OWN SIN; and being now exempt from death and "perfected for evermore," He needs not to REPEAT His sacrifice.
the word--"the word" confirmed by "the oath."
which--which oath was after the law. namely, in Psalms 110:4 , abrogating the preceding law-priesthood.
the Son--contrasted with "men."
consecrated--Greek, "made perfect" once for all, as in Hebrews 2:10 , 5:9 ; Consecrated as a perfected priest by His perfected sacrifice, and consequent anointing and exaltation to the right hand of the Father.