Hebrews 7:12-22

12 For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also.
13 He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar.
14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.
15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears,
16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.
17 For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”[a]
18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless
19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath,
21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’ ”[b]
22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.

Hebrews 7:12-22 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO HEBREWS 7

The apostle having made mention of Melchizedek in the latter part of the preceding chapter, proceeds in this to give some account of him, and of the excellency of his priesthood, and to show that Christ is a priest of his order, and is superior to Aaron and his sons. He first declares what Melchizedek was, that he was both king and priest; he names the place he was king of, and tells whose priest he was, even the priest of the most high God; and goes on to observe what he did, that he met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, that he blessed him, and took tithes of him, Heb 7:1,2 and then interprets his name, and royal title, the one signifying king of righteousness, the other king of peace; that for anything that can be learned from the Scriptures, it is not known who was his father or his mother; what his lineage and descent; when he was born, or when he died; and that he is like to the Son of God, and continues a priest, Heb 7:2,3 upon which the apostle calls upon the Hebrews to consider the greatness of his person; and as it appears from that single instance of his receiving tithes from the patriarch Abraham, Heb 7:4 by which it is evident, that he is greater than the Levites; and which is demonstrated in the following particulars: the Levites received tithes of their brethren that came out of Abraham's loins, as they did, but Melchizedek, whose descent was not from them, received tithes from Abraham himself, and besides blessed him; and it is a clear case, that the lesser is blessed of the greater, Heb 7:5-7 the Levites were mortal men that received tithes, but a testimony is bore to Melchizedek, that he lives, Heb 6:8 yea, Levi himself paid tithes to Melchizedek, since he was in the loins of his father Abraham when Melchizedek met him, and took tithes of him; and therefore must be greater than Levi, Heb 7:9,10. And next the apostle proves the imperfection of the Levitical priesthood from this consideration, that there is another priest risen up, not of the order of Aaron, but of the order of Melchizedek, of which there would have been no need, if the Levitical priesthood had been perfect; nor would it have been changed, as it is, and which has also made a change of the law, by which it is established, necessary, Heb 7:11,12 that the priest that is risen up is not of the order of Aaron, is clear, because he is of another tribe, even of the tribe of Judah, to which the priesthood did not belong, Heb 7:13,14, and that he is of the order of Melchizedek, and so not according to the ceremonial law, but after the power of an endless life, is manifest from the testimony of the sacred Scripture, Heb 7:15-17 which lies in Ps 110:4 and that the ceremonial law, on which the Levitical priesthood stood, is changed and abrogated, is strongly asserted, and the reasons of it given, because it was weak and unprofitable, and made nothing perfect; and this was disannulled by Christ, the better hope brought in, who has made something perfect, and through whom we have access to God, Heb 7:18,19. Moreover, the superior excellency of Christ's priesthood to the Levitical one is shown in several particulars; the priests of Aaron's order were made without an oath; Christ was made with one, as is evident from the above cited testimony, Heb 7:20-22 they were many, he but one; they were mortal, and did not continue, he continues ever, having an unchangeable priesthood, Heb 7:23,24 wherefore, as they were not suffered to continue by reason of death, their priesthood was ineffectual; they could not take away sin, and save sinners; but Christ is able to save to the uttermost all that draw nigh to God by him, as a priest, and that because he ever lives to complete his office by intercession, Heb 7:25 wherefore such an high priest as he is, must become men, and be suitable to them, especially since he is pure and holy, and in such an exalted state, Heb 7:26 and this is another difference between him and the priests under the law; they were men that had infirmity, and were guilty of sins themselves, and so had need to offer for their own sins, and then for the sins of others; but Christ, the Son of God, who was consecrated a priest for evermore, by the word of the oath, had no sin of his own to offer sacrifice for, only the sins of his people, which he did once, when he offered himself, Heb 7:27,28.

Hebrews 7:12-22 In-Context

10 because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.
11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron?
12 For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also.
13 He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar.
14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.
15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears,
16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.
17 For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”
18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless
19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath,
21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’ ”
22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.
23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office;
24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.

Cross References 11

  • 1. ver 11
  • 2. ver 14
  • 3. Isaiah 11:1; Matthew 1:3; Matthew 2:6; Luke 3:33; Revelation 5:5
  • 4. Psalms 110:4; ver 21; S Hebrews 5:6
  • 5. Romans 8:3
  • 6. ver 11; Acts 13:39; Romans 3:20; Romans 7:7,8; Galatians 3:21; Hebrews 9:9; Hebrews 10:1
  • 7. S Hebrews 3:6
  • 8. ver 25; Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 10:1,22; James 4:8
  • 9. Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Malachi 3:6; Romans 11:29
  • 10. Psalms 110:4; S Hebrews 5:6
  • 11. S Luke 22:20; Hebrews 8:6

Footnotes 2

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