Hebrews 7

Hebrews 7:1

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,

(a) Melchizedek was an Old Testament king who was also a priest of God Most High (Gen. 14:18). Who was this mysterious priest-king? Since he was “made like the Son of God”, some believe that he was an Old Testament manifestation of Jesus himself (see entry for Heb. 7:3).

(b) King… priest. Those who serve in the order or Melchizedek are king-priests or a royal priesthood. See entry for 1 Pet. 2:9.

(c) Priest of the Most High God. Melchizedek stands out for two reasons; he stands apart from the rest of the human race (see verse 3), and he was not from the priestly tribe of Levi (see verse 6). He was a priest of the Most High God long before there were priests.

(d) And blessed him. At a time when priests received offerings and sacrifices, Melchizedek did an unusual thing: he served bread and wine to Abram and blessed him. He sought out Abram, befriended him, and repeated the blessings that God had already spoken over his life.

Hebrews 7:2

to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace.

(a) Abraham apportioned a tenth. Abram, as he was known at the time, won a battle against King Kedorlaomer and his allies. After the battle, he gave a tithe of the spoils to Melchizedek.

(b) King of righteousness. Melchizedek literally means king of righteousness.

(c) King of peace. In the kingdom, peace always follows righteousness (Rom. 5:1, 14:17, 2 Tim. 2:22, Heb. 12:11). When you are more conscious of his righteousness than your shortcomings, you will enjoy peace with God.

Hebrews 7:3

Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.

(a) Without father. Jesus was fathered by no man.

(b) Without mother. Jesus had no mother in the traditional sense. Jesus is the eternal God, the Creator of all including Mary (John 1:1, Col 1:15–16). Just as Joseph contributed no DNA to Jesus, neither did Mary. She provided a womb, but no egg (see entry for Heb. 10:5).

Mary was an extraordinary woman, highly favored by God, and rightly honoured by the Church. Yet nowhere in scripture does Jesus refer to her as mother. Instead, he calls her woman (John 2:4, 19:26). If you asked Jesus who his mother was, he would reply, “My mother and brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it” (Luke 8:21). Jesus was not being disrespectful to Mary, but like Melchizedek, he was “without father and mother” in the usual sense.

See entry for Virgin Birth.

(c) Without genealogy. Melchizedek appears to us in the Old Testament narrative fully-formed and without antecedents. In an age where who-begat-who was an important way of establishing a person’s identity, Melchizedek is unusual. Like Jesus, he does not seem to be one of us.

(d) Having neither beginning of days nor end of life. Whether this is a literal or a literary phrase, the parallels with Jesus are unmissable.

(e) Made like the Son of God. Melchizedek is a picture or “type” of Christ.

Yet some would go further claiming that Melchizedek was an Old Testament manifestation of Jesus himself. Either way, the parallels are obvious. Both Jesus and Melchizedek were without genealogy (Heb. 7:3). Both were kings of righteousness and peace (Heb. 7:2). Both were ageless priests (Heb. 7:3, Ps. 110:4) but not of the Levitical order (Heb. 7:11). Both ministered with bread and wine and neither demanded a sacrifice (Gen. 14:18). Like Jesus, Melchizedek blessed Abraham and was known as a great guy (Heb. 7:4).

(f) A priest perpetually means Jesus is a priest forever; see entry for Heb. 7:17.

Hebrews 7:4

Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils.

Observe how great this man was. We only have to see how Abraham acted to realize that Melchizedek was no ordinary person.

Hebrews 7:5

And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest’s office have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people, that is, from their brethren, although these are descended from Abraham.

(a) The sons of Levi were priests who were financially supported by other Jews.

(b) The Law refers to the Law of Moses, the commandments, ordinances, punishments, and ceremonial observances given to the nation of Israel through Moses (Jos. 8:31, John 1:17). This law is sometimes referred to as the law of commandments (Eph. 2:15) or the law of the Jews (Acts 25:8). See entry for The Law.

(c) Descended from Abraham. Those who gave tithes and those who received tithes were all descended from Abraham, the man who gave a tenth of the spoils to the great Melchizedek.

Hebrews 7:6

But the one whose genealogy is not traced from them collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed the one who had the promises.

Whose genealogy is not traced from them. In the old covenant, only the sons of Levi could be chosen as priests. But Melchizedek was not a Levite. He was a different kind of priest, and a greater one (see next verse).

Hebrews 7:7

But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater.

Melchizedek, who blessed Abraham, was a greater priest than any Levite descended from Abraham.

This passage has been used to support or refute the modern practice of tithing, but the author’s point is that Melchizedek was a different kind of priest. He was not a lowly Levite bound to the law, but a great grace-dispensing priest-king who blessed others. Jesus is not a Levite, but a priest like Melchizedek (see Heb. 7:11).

Hebrews 7:11

Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron?

(a) The Law; see entry for Hebrews 7:5.

(b) The order of Melchizedek. The Hebrews were familiar with one kind of priest, namely the priestly sons of Levi. “But Jesus is a different kind of priest; one like Melchizedek.” The Levites were mortal, but Jesus is a priest forever (Heb. 5:6, 7:17) and a high priest at that (Heb. 5:10, 6:20).

Hebrews 7:17

For it is attested of Him,

(a) A priest forever. Since Jesus our high priest lives forever, his righteousness endures forever and you are saved forever.

(b) The order of Melchizedek; see entry for Hebrews 7:11.

Hebrews 7:18

For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness

Its weakness and uselessness. The law is weak and useless when it comes to reforming sinful people.

Hebrews 7:19

(for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

(a) The Law; see entry for Hebrews 7:5.

(b) The Law made nothing perfect. The law is holy and good, but it has no power to make you holy and good.

Some say the law shows us how to live holy. “We are saved by grace and perfected through the law.” This is a recipe for disaster for the law made nothing perfect. The law is not a Saints’ Guide to Holy Living. The law is a signpost to Jesus who is our holiness from God (1 Cor. 1:30). See entry for The Law.

Hebrews 7:21

(for they indeed became priests without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him,

A priest forever. For the fifth and final time, the author hammers the point that Jesus is our forever priest. His righteousness endures forever. See entry for Hebrews 7:17.

Hebrews 7:25

Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

(a) He is able also to save forever. Salvation that is temporary is no salvation at all. Jesus is the author of eternal salvation (Heb. 5:9). Those who are saved by Jesus are saved forever. See entry for Eternal Security.

(b) Draw near. We can approach God, freely and boldly with complete confidence (Heb. 4:16).

(c) He always lives to make intercession for them. Jesus is our great high priest who intercedes or speaks to God on our behalf (Rom. 8:34, Heb. 4:15).

Hebrews 7:26

For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens;

(a) Undefiled. Jesus, the Holy One, was the friend of sinners (Matt. 11:19). He touched them, laid hands on them, and ate with them. Jesus didn’t pray that we would be taken out of the world but that we would be sanctified in it (John 17:15-18). True holiness runs from nothing.

(b) Separated from sinners. We needed a High Priest untouched by sin (see Heb. 4:15, 1 John 3:5), and a virgin birth provides one.

See entry for Virgin Birth.

Hebrews 7:27

who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

(a) The sins of the people. On the cross, the Lamb of God took away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

(b) Once for all. Jesus’ work was a perfect work. He will never go to the cross again.

The startling announcement of the gospel is that God holds nothing against you or anyone, and that all may freely come to his throne of grace to receive grace. This is good news for the Jew and Gentile alike. Not everyone is saved, but everyone can be saved because Jesus has broken the prison of sin.

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