6/11/16 Hebrews 7:14-28 “Christ’s priesthood is perfected for evermore”
Last week we finished on Hebrews 7:13 – For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. This verse changes focus from Melchizedek to Jesus, as noted in Hebrews 7:11b – another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? Instead of a comparison between Aaron and Melchizedek, we now have Melchizedek (a type of Christly priesthood) giving way to Jesus Christ (the real Christly priesthood). We continue on with this theme today.
Hebrews 7:14 – For [it is] evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.
evident – openly evident, known to all. That is, it is not a matter of dispute at all.
sprang – has arisen as the sun or moon might rise, brought forth. See the following:
Mark 16:2 – And very early in the morning the first [day] of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
Jesus Christ arose from Judah, a tribe of which Moses said nothing in the law concerning the priesthood. In fact, by the law, only Levi could be considered for such service to God. Note that while Levi is omitted as a tribe in most of the Old Testament lists, he is now just one of the tribes in the list in Revelation 7:4-8. (Note that Dan is the missing tribe there; many people believe that Dan was an apostate tribe.) Levi is listed in Exodus 1:2-4, but in subsequent lists he is only listed as the priestly tribe, without ownership of his own land nor possessions. (Numbers 1 & 2; Numbers 10; Numbers 13; Numbers 26; Numbers 34; Deuteronomy 33; plus many references to the land ownership of each tribe.)
Hebrews 7:15-16 – 15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, 16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.
far more – over and above; more than is necessary; exceeding abundantly.
evident – thoroughly clear; plain to see; evident.
similitude – likeness.
That is, it is much more evident (to the Hebrew readers/listeners) even than what was said in Vs 14, that this priesthood should arise after the likeness of Melchizedek, one who was not the result of a priesthood dealing with flesh and blood decisions as was the Levitical priesthood, but one embued with the power over life and death itself, even to the extent of eternity (endless life).
Revelation 1:18 – I [am] he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
This is not just a mere transference of one priesthood to another, like one administration exchanged for another of like effectiveness. This new priesthood after the power of endless (eternal) life is abundantly superior to the old priesthood who administered a law for the purifying of the flesh (carnal) and passed on their office to others through death.
Hebrews 7:8 – And here men that die receive tithes; but there he [receiveth them], of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.
This new priesthood is administered by One who will never die, One who is eternal. And the law itself has changed with the change of priesthood: now the law, instead of being limited to man’s flesh nature, now prepares the soul for endless life. The temporal has given way to the eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).
Hebrews 7:17 – For he testifieth, Thou [art] a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
Psalm 110:4 is quoted again, emphasising the eternal-ness of this new priesthood. It has been stated absolutely clearly by God through His servant David that the priesthood of Christ would be (a) for ever, and (b) according to the type set by Melchizedek. The Hebrew recipients of this epistle would understand fully that this was an inviolable statement that they could never deny! That is, this is evident, and then even more evident; if blind Freddy were a Jew he would have understood it too! This is “Read my lips!” talk!
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?
Hebrews 7:18-19 – 18 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.
These two verses give two opposing ideas, pivoting around “but”:
(a) that the Levitical priesthood established by the old commandment is disannulled because of its weakness and unprofitableness, in that the law it administered could never make anything perfect – Hebrews 10:1 – For the law having a shadow of good things to come, [and] not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
and (b) the new priesthood of Christ bringing in a better hope, now making it possible for man to draw near to God, something the Levitical priesthood and the law it administered could never do.
Romans 8:2-4 – 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
The old administration of the law had to be annulled before the new administration could be established, or else there would be conflicts of management such as revealed in Paul’s letter to the Galatians where the Jews (of the circumcision) were trying to re-establish the old administration of the law alongside the new administration under the new priesthood of Christ.
Hebrews 7:20 – And inasmuch as not without an oath [he was made priest]:
And inasmuch as He was made priest not without an oath being declared. While “he was made priest” isn’t in the original, it is definitely implied by its context with Vs 21 & 22. “oath” here refers to Psalm 110:4 – The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou [art] a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 7:21 – (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:)
For the Levitical priests were placed in ministry without an oath, yet Christ’s priesthood was established by the statement made in Psalm 110:4. Compare with
Hebrews 6:17-20 – 17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed [it] by an oath: 18 That by two immutable things, in which [it was] impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: 19 Which [hope] we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, [even] Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
Hebrews 7:22 – By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.
By so much – that is, God going to the extent of swearing an oath rather than just making a statement (that we would call a promise).
Barnes – Inasmuch as an oath is more solemn than a mere appointment. The meaning is, that there is all the additional security in the suretyship of Jesus which arises from the solemnity of an oath. It is not implied that God would not be true to his mere promise, but the argument here is derived from the custom of speaking among men. An oath is regarded as much more sacred and binding than a mere promise; and the fact that God has sworn in a given case furnishes the highest security that what he has promised will be performed.
It was of such importance that Jesus be made surety (guarantor) of a better (more useful; more serviceable; more advantageous; more excellent) testament (covenant; legally binding agreement) that God went to such an extent to demonstrate it by an oath.
Hebrews 7:23-24 – 23 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.
many – greater in quantity (a comparative term) That is, there had to be many priests in the old priesthood because they didn’t live for ever and there would have been a turnover of priests every generation or so. They were not able to continue indefinitely because death had an awkward way of intervening. But (this is once again the pivotal word here) this One (“man” isn’t in the original) is able to continue without any further changes being necessitated because He continues for ever, for all eternity, without end. Every change of priesthood means a change of personalities, a change of administration of the law, but no change of priesthood means a stability resting upon the unchangeability of the priesthood.
Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
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.
Now we’re starting to get to the point of it all. Why the need for change? If it ain’t broke, why fix it? The answer is that the old system just wasn’t up to the task! Just by looking at the history of Israel we can see that the priesthood didn’t do much for them at all. They started off well, as Paul told the Galatians, but they were hindered. The exodus from Egypt struggled to get moving until close to the end of the plagues, and by the time they reached the promised land they had failed so badly that only two of those listed in Numbers were guaranteed entry forty years later!
And during this time the law was handed down, to be administered by the Levites through the Aaronic priesthood. There was no way most of them were ever going to be saved to the uttermost; those that were saved to the uttermost were few and far between. The truth is that the system was not the real thing. It was just a shadow of what was to come; note Hebrews 10:1 above. By the time Jesus came onto the scene, the old system was so corrupted that the only thing possible appeared to be to put it out of its misery and start again. However, Jesus came to fulfil the law, not destroy it; He came to give the law its true worth, not dealing with fleshly details, but with eternal spiritual details. Same business, new administration! And what He said and taught would stand the test of time, in fact, endless time!
Christ’s priesthood would be eternal, incorruptible, unchangeable, in fact, better in every way, so much so that it would be called “perfect”. Instead of putting mankind into bondage, it would liberate mankind with the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25). Liberation from the bondage of sin and the consequent condemnation to eternal punishment. Freedom to worship God for all eternity.
Which is why Christ’s priesthood has to be able (have the ability to do something) to save to the uttermost (completely; perfectly) all those who come to God by Him.
John 14:6 – Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
And how is Christ able to save to the uttermost? By being eternally alive, thus always able to intercede for them, without any time limit whatsoever. God never slumbers or sleeps; He is always able, that is, at all times.
Psalm 121:2-4 – 2 My help [cometh] from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. 3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. 4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
His priesthood is perfect – Hebrews 5:9 – And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
This is why Melchizedek as a type of Christ’s eternal priesthood is so important. Melchizedek’s priesthood was (apparently) on-going, ever-living, not broken up by generational changes, and superior in office to Levi.
Note that Christ is able to save to the uttermost; it doesn’t actually say (nor mean) that He “will” save to the uttermost. We cannot actually read into this passage that He will save to the uttermost, only that He is able. Whether or not Christ will save to the uttermost will depend upon the free will choices of mankind. God will not force His salvation upon anyone. Yet MacArthur, while saying that God forces no-one to be saved, says what appears to be the opposite in the following:
MacArthur writes on the conversion of Paul – He’s a good one to look at for this kind of call because when the call of God came on the life of the apostle Paul, it was a sovereign, divine, gracious, and irresistible summons. He was slammed in to the dirt on the road to Damascus with nothing to do but respond. He is called as an apostle. ….. Paul understood that he was just grabbed by the neck by God and awakened to the glory of Christ and saved and made an apostle. http://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/90-296
However, the Biblical truth is that God does not violate any man’s free will in salvation. He does not force man either to be saved, or to be lost!
make intercession – Barnes says, “The precise mode, however, in which he makes intercession in heaven for his people is not revealed. The general meaning is, that he undertakes their cause, and assists them in overcoming their foes and in their endeavours to live a holy life.”
For “able” see 2 Timothy 1:12; Hebrews 2:18; Jude 1:24.
Hebrews 7:26 – For such an high priest became us, [who is] holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
became – was fitting (for the task) – see Hebrews 2:10 – For it became him, for whom [are] all things, and by whom [are] all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest; only One as portrayed could meet all our needs. That is, only a high priest as described would be able to indeed save to the uttermost all those who come to God by Him. That is, only One who is (a) holy – undefiled by sin; free from wickedness, (b) harmless – without guile or fraud, (c) undefiled – unsoiled by a debased nature, (d) separate from sinners – set apart from those who sin, and (e) made higher than the heavens – the region above the sidereal heavens, the seat of order of things eternal and consummately perfect where God dwells and other heavenly beings.
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.
once – once for all; all at once
Continuing on from Vs 26 – this high priest didn’t need to daily offer up sacrifices as the Levitical priest did. The Levitical priest firstly had to offer up sacrifices for himself for his own sins, and only after that could he be considered sufficiently (not perfectly) holy to offer up sacrifices for the rest of Israel.
Hebrews 5:1-3 – 1 For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things [pertaining] to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: 2 Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. 3 And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.
But One without sin is not required to firstly offer up sacrifices for His own sin which doesn’t exist in the first place! Thus, while Christ experienced the infirmity of being in the flesh as a man, He was not compassed with the infirmity of sin. The point this appears to be making is that only One who is perfect to start with may offer Himself the perfect sacrifice, that is, a sacrifice that doesn’t need to be repeated over and over as in the Old Testament (because of the infirmity of mankind). A sacrifice unpolluted by sin may stand without challenge, whereas all the Aaronic priesthood were tainted with sin merely because they were born of Adam and thus born with Adam’s sin nature.
Romans 5:12 – Wherefore, as by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
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.
The consequence of the Old Testament law was that it had to be administered by a priesthood which was mortal. And the law dealt with death, rather than life, in that it focused more upon the prevention of the consequences of sin (that is, death) rather than the provision of eternal life; thus the law focused upon mortal requirements rather than the immortal. Note the following:-
1 Corinthians 15:54-57 – 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where [is] thy sting? O grave, where [is] thy victory? 56 The sting of death [is] sin; and the strength of sin [is] the law. 57 But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
This verse reinforces Hebrews 7:21 which points out that the Aaronic priesthood was established by the law, while the priesthood of Christ was established by the oath of God; thus Christ’s priesthood is superior because of the greater emphasis placed upon it by God compared with the Aaronic priesthood. It is also clear that the priesthood established by oath was for evermore (eternal); thus it is logical to conclude that the priesthood established by the law was not for evermore (not eternal).
consecrated – to make perfect; complete; to carry through completely; to accomplish, finish, bring to an end; to complete (perfect); add what is yet wanting in order to render a thing full; to be found perfect; to bring to the end (goal) proposed; to accomplish; bring to a close or fulfilment by event (of the prophecies of the scriptures) Out of 24 occurrences in the NT – make perfect 12, perfect 4, finish 4, fulfil 2, be perfect 1, consecrate 1.
This is probably better translated as “perfected”. Thus the priesthood of Christ is “better” for evermore, that is, eternally better.
The word “consecrated” is only used twice in the NT (“consecrate” is not used in the NT). In Hebrews 10:20 “consecrated” means renewed; consecrated; dedicated.
Benson commentary – “In this passage (Hebrews 7:26-28),” says Macknight, “the apostle notices three particulars, which distinguish the sacrifice offered by Christ from those offered by the Jewish high- priests: 1st, He offered no sacrifice for himself, but only for the people. 2d, He did not offer that sacrifice annually, but once for all. 3d, The sacrifice which he offered was not of calves and goats, but of himself.”
And how does this apply to today? If the sacrifice is perfect, eternal, once for all, then our lives must reflect this. If we were to sin wilfully, that is, against the commandments of God, we could be accused of making a mockery of the sacrifice on the cross by assuming that somehow we might even deserve it in some way; we belittle Christ’s sacrifice. If we love God, we will obey Him – John 14:15 – If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Therefore disobedience has to be interpreted as a lack of love for God, and therefore the resultant sin a scorning of the perfect, eternal, once-for-all sacrifice.
Hebrews 10:26-31 – 26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance [belongeth] unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31 [It is] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
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