Hebrews Chapter 07

Originally Published 7/18/2010

Hebrews 7:1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;

Paul1 was teaching about Melchizedek2 back in chapter five, but in verse eleven, he said his readers were “dull of hearing”, lacking spiritual maturity and could not accept what the apostles had to say about Christ and about Melchizedek. So he spent the remaining verses of chapter five and all of chapter six admonishing us to grow in Christ and in spiritual maturity. Here he comes back to the subject at hand. Note that when this Epistle was written it was simply a letter. There were no chapters or verses. So Paul simply paused in his discussion of Melchizedek and his comparison of Melchizedek to Christ to exhort that his readers become spiritually mature. Thanks be to God that He inspired someone to divide the Scriptures into chapters and verses, making them infinitely more easily analyzed.

We may note again, that Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”. It comes from two words, מלך (melek-4428), king, and צדק (tsedeq-6664), righteousness. Melchizedek is also referred to as the king of Salem. Salem in the Hebrew is שׁלם (shalom-7999-8004), which is peace. The Hebrew for Melchizedek is, מלכי־צדק, and for king of Salem, it is, מלך שׁלם (melek shalom). The entire phrase, “Melchisedec, king of Salem” means, King of Righteousness, King of Peace. Certainly Jesus Christ is the King of Righteousness and the King of Peace (see next verse).

If you remember the story, Chedorlaomer sacked Sodom, taking all of its residents with him, including Lot, Abraham’s nephew. Abraham responded with his army and went after Chedorlaomer. Abraham defeated him, taking spoil, and returned the people back to Sodom. Melchizedek met Abraham and blessed him because of the defeat of Chedorlaomer. Read the entire chapter fourteen of Genesis. The story is there.

Hebrews 7:2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;

Here is the Scripture concerning this verse:

Genesis 14:17-20 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale. {18} And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. {19} And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: {20} And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

Notice that Melchizedek brought forth bread and wine. These are the elements of communion. Melchizedek blessed Abraham because of the work that Abraham had done in rescuing Sodom from Chedorlaomer. He also blessed the Most High God, אל עליון, El Elyon, which is a Title of God. Abraham was impressed with Melchizedek, so impressed that he gave Melchizedek a tithe of all the spoil he had taken from Chedorlaomer.

For a more in-depth look at this from a different perspective see Melchizedek.

Hebrews 7:3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

The Apostle iterates that Melchizedek had no lineage and we are unaware of his death. As far as our knowledge goes, we do not know that he had a mother or a father, or a birth date or death date. Again, as far as our knowledge goes, Melchizedek may have been eternal. The Apostle makes no assertion that Melchizedek is eternal, only that we are unaware of any of the particulars of his life. Of course Paul is simply repeating the assertion of David that the order of Melchizedek is like an eternal order (Psalm 110:4).

Though Paul does not declare that Melchizedek is eternal, he does make the assertion that the Priesthood of Jesus Christ is eternal. We have no knowledge of Melchizedek’s life and that lack of knowledge serves as an association that represents the eternity of Christ. We have no firsthand knowledge that Melchizedek had birth, lineage, or death, and we do know that Christ has no beginning and no end. Thus Melchizedek is the perfect symbol to represent the Eternality of Christ.

I am trying to stick with how Paul employs Melchizedek to represent Christ. In the study, Melchizedek, I looked at the possibility that Melchizedek was a pre-Christian era appearance of Christ. Paul does not get into that here. Paul simply used Melchizedek as a simile of Christ.

Hebrews 7:4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.

We are asked here to consider how great Melchizedek was. But first let us consider what a great man Abraham was. To an Israelite or a Jew, Abraham was the founder of their nation, and therefore the greatest Israelite of all. As Christians, we are the adopted children of Abraham (Galatians 3:7, 4:5). If such a great man like Abraham, who founded a dynasty nearly 4000 years ago that is still extant today, gave a tithe to Melchizedek, consider how great Abraham thought Melchizedek was. Paul is stating that Melchizedek was greater than Abraham.

Hebrews 7:5-6 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: (6) But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.

Paul is establishing the point that Melchizedek, who was completely outside of the bloodlines of the Israelites, was a priest able to collect tithes from Abraham, the father of the Levites (Abraham begat Isaac, who begat Jacob, who begat Levi). The Levites were able to take tithes from their brother Israelites because of the Commandment of God. But Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek, who was in no way related to Israel, or to Abraham. The Abrahamic covenant contains the promises God gave to Abraham. Even though the promise that the entire world would be blessed (and saved) through Abraham, and ultimately through his grandson, Jesus of Nazareth, Abraham still gave a tithe to Melchizedek.

Now the priests of Israel were all the sons of Levi. Their bloodline was that of the Levites. Each priest had to prove his pedigree with a long genealogy. If there was any doubt as to the genealogy of the Levite, he could not serve as priest (see Nehemiah 7:61).

Now Jesus, Son of Joseph (by law), was of the tribe and lineage of Judah through both His mother Mary, and his father (as was supposed- Luke 3:23) Joseph. Melchizedek was not of the blood of Israel; Jesus was not of the blood of Levi and yet both claimed the title of priest. Melchizedek was a priest of the Most High God, and Jesus is our eternal High Priest.

Hebrews 7:7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.

The Apostle directly states here that Melchizedek was greater than Abraham because the one giving the blessing is always greater than the one who receives the blessing (the blesser is greater than the blessee).

Hebrews 7:8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.

In Paul’s day, the Levitical Priesthood was still in existence. Those Levites were men who died. After their death, their sons replaced them by succession. So the ‘here’ is the time of Paul and the ‘there’ is the time of Melchizedek. There is no record of Melchizedek’s death or of the end of his priesthood. He had the appearance of being eternal. Than makes Melchizedek a good choice as a type of Christ. The Levites received tithes, but were mortal. Melchizedek, representing immortality, also received tithes. Who is the greater? Melchizedek or One Who lives forever.

Since the Scriptures record neither the death of Melchizedek nor any cessation of his priesthood, they bear silent witness to the perpetuity of the priesthood of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 7:9-10 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. (10) For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.

Melchizedek is greater than the Levitical priesthood because, before they were born, they too paid tithes, by proxy, to Melchizedek in Abraham’s flesh.

Hebrews 7:11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

Aaron was a Levite and the Israelite priesthood, begun during his life, is known as the Levitical or Aaronic priesthood. The scriptures taught obedience to the Law and the Israelites believed that perfection did come by the Law. So the Pharisaical religious practice did indeed teach that perfection came by the Law. They taught this even though they had such an intricate system of laws that it was impossible to even remember them all much less obey them. That is very much like our legal systems in the world today. There are so very many laws that no one person could even have a general knowledge of them all. No judge, not matter how learned, or attorney, or professor of law, or president, or dictator, etc., could ever know every law on the books. The general citizen has not even a chance. Therefore the law in our modern society is not perfect. So the Levitical priesthood was not perfect, being of the Law.

Just as a present day citizen has no hope in knowing all the laws and thus obeying them all, so no Israelite could ever know all of the laws extant in Paul’s day. They had no hope of obedience of the law, because to break one law is to break them all (Deuteronomy 27:26, Matthew 5:18-19, Galatians 3:10).

But, according to the Israelite, perfection comes from obedience to the law. If this were so (it is not so), then there would be no need to change the law and there would be no need for any other priesthood except that ordained by law, which is the Levitical priesthood. But we have just seen how this is not so, that perfection cannot be attained by obedience to the law. Therefore, since the Levitical priesthood was insufficient in securing perfection by proclaiming the law, a change was needed.

The old order of things, that is, of the priesthood after the order of Aaron, a mortal man who sinned and whose bones are in the earth even today, has given way to a new order—the order of Melchizedek. There was a need for something better for the Law was not able to bring perfection, therefore the Levitical priesthood was not able to offer perfection. Another Priest has risen, not of the order of Aaron, but of the Order of Melchizedek, who is our simile of the immortal, eternal Christ. Jesus Christ, Who is our Perfect High Priest, Who is far above the Aaronic priesthood.

Hebrews 7:12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

Jesus Christ, our High Priest on the order of Melchizedek, has replaced the Aaronic priesthood, so a change of the law is necessitated.

Hebrews 7:12-14 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. (13) For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. (14) For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.

Judah is the tribe of the scepter, meaning the tribe of monarchs:

Genesis 49:10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

Kings came from the tribe of Judah, but no priest. Christ, our High Priest on the order of Melchizedek, is “He of whom these things are said.” He comes from another tribe, the tribe of Judah as both His paternal (Matthew 1:1-17) and maternal (Luke 3:23-38) genealogies indicate. Melchizedek did not come from the tribe of Levi, nor did he come from the seed of Abraham, and as far as we know, he was not of the seed of Heber in any way, meaning he was not a Hebrew. He was outside the tribes of Israel and outside the tribe of Levi. Again, Melchizedek is a perfect type of Christ, Who is a Priest from the tribe of Judah and not Levi.

Hebrews 7:15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,

Again, Melchizedek was a priest of the Most High God, who was “[w]ithout father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually“. Jesus Christ is our Eternal High Priest. He is that second Priest Who has come up Who is like Melchizedek.

Hebrews 7:16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.

Jesus is our High Priest, but His priesthood was not written into the law by human hands; His priesthood is based upon His eternality.

Hebrews 7:17 For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

Psalm 110 speaks of the Rod of Thy Strength, meaning Christ. The first verse begins with “the LORD said to my Lord” and this signifies the Psalm as Messianic. So verse four, “The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek,” is speaking about Messiah. So it is witnessed (or testified to) in the Psalms that Messiah (Christ) would be an eternal Priest on the order of Melchizedek.

Heb 7:18-19 For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. (19) For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

The Law of Moses, that could not save but only condemn, is rendered of no effect by Christ. In Christ there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1), but the Law could not justify: it could only condemn (Romans 3:20). Since the Law never produced one perfect individual, nor could it ever, a better hope, that of Jesus Christ, was needed so that we could come into the presence of God.

Hebrews 7:20-21 And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest: (21) (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)

The Levitical priesthood received priests by succession. But Jesus Christ, our Eternal High Priest, was ordained by the Oath of Yehovah God. The oath is quoted from Psalm 110:4

Hebrews 7:22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

Jesus Christ, because of the Oath of God, is the foundation, that is, the bedrock of a better inheritance. Our security rests in Him. He provides for our perfection and He guarantees it if we will trust in Him. Jesus is the warranty of the better testament or new covenant of Faith in Christ. He is our pledge, our earnest, our security in the New covenant. We can trust Him to save us if we believe.

Hebrews 7:23-24 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: (24) But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.

There were so many priests in the Levitical priesthood because as one died another had to succeed him. They continued through their succession for centuries. There were a great many of them. With each change of priest came a different way of doing things. Each was an individual and each one varies even when constrained with very specific tasks. Some priests were trustworthy like Aaron, Eleazer, and Eli; some, like Hophni and Phinehas, were sons of Belial, or destruction. Hophni and Phinehas were very untrustworthy, stealing from the people, and lying with the women assembled at the door of the tabernacle. Each priest was a sinful, mortal man. But Christ, who is Eternal, is a Priest we can trust to always remain the same (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17). His Priesthood does not change from hand to hand. It is eternal.

Hebrews 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Because His Priesthood does pass from hand to hand, because it is eternal, he is able to save us completely. He can completely, perfectly, and utterly save us. Our salvation through Christ does not come in part, but in full. His atonement is sufficient for all of our sins. We need do nothing but trust in Him; He does the rest. He sits at the Right Hand of the Father making intercession for our sins.

Hebrews 7:26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;

Jesus is holy, that is, He is set apart in that He is the Second Person of the Godhead. There is no guile or fraud with in Him. He does not sin and therefore is separate from sinners. That He is higher than the heavens is because his office of High Priest is itself made higher that the heavens, being above all things on earth, and in the heavens. Jesus Christ is God almighty, and being God, His Priesthood is made commensurate with His Divinity. Therefore . . .

Hebrews 7:27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.

Because Jesus is God, He has no need of redemption because He has no sin. The human priests offered sacrifices of bulls, goats, doves, lambs, etc., which could never fully redeem the sinner. The priest had to offer sacrifices on a daily basis (both morning and evening) to cleanse himself from sins before he could offer sacrifices for anyone else. But Jesus sacrificed Himself as a perfect and sinless sacrifice that has the efficacy to forgive our sins forever.

Hebrews 7:28 For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.

To summarize: The law set forth the human priesthood. Human priests have the infirmity of all people, which is the tendency to sin. Paul calls it the flesh. Some refer to it as the sinful nature. At any rate, men are sinful and are born that way. The Son is the Divine Word, God Himself, and therefore sinless. God’s oath that Jesus is a Priest forever, and the Law itself, which was fulfilled in Jesus, consecrated, or set apart, the Son into that position of High Priest eternally.

  1. The reason I use “Paul” instead of “the writer of Hebrews” is explained in the preface to Chapter 1. If you disagree that Paul is the writer, please continue to read for I have no argument with you. As a scholar once said, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, diversity; in all things, love” (attributed to Augustine).
  2. The Old Testament spelling, “Melchizedek” is used in the commentary throughout the chapter.
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