Christ is Superior to Aaron: the Melchizedek Priesthood
Hebrews 4:14 – 7:28
Hebrews 4:14 – 7:28
- Our Sympathetic High Priest (4:14-16)
- Aaron’s Priesthood Compared to Christ’s: Melchizedek Introduced (5:1-10)
- Rebuke for Immaturity: Need to Turn Aside to Less Spiritual Things (5:11-14)
- (The Hebrews’ Spiritual Babyhood Addressed) (Hebrews 6)
- The Melchizedek Priesthood Proved Greater than Aaron’s (Hebrews 7)
Our Sympathetic High Priest (4:14-16)
14 Having therefore a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast the confession. 15 For we have not a high priest not able to sympathise with our infirmities, but tempted in all things in like manner, sin apart. 16 Let us approach therefore with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and find grace for seasonable help.
Aaron’s Priesthood Compared to Christ’s: Melchizedek Introduced (5:1-10)
1 For every high priest taken from amongst men is established for men in things relating to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; 2 being able to exercise forbearance towards the ignorant and erring, since he himself also is clothed with infirmity; 3 and, on account of this infirmity, he ought, even as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. 4 And no one takes the honour to himself but as called by God, even as Aaron also. 5 Thus the Christ also has not glorified himself to be made a high priest; but he who had said to him, “Thou” art my Son, “I” have to-day begotten thee. 6 Even as also in another place he says, “Thou” art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedec. 7 Who in the days of his flesh, having offered up both supplications and entreaties to him who was able to save him out of death, with strong crying and tears; (and having been heard because of his piety;)
8 though he were Son, he learned obedience from the things which he suffered; v.8 Does include the atoning sufferings?
9 and having been perfected, became to all them that obey him, author of eternal salvation; 10 addressed by God as high priest according to the order of Melchisedec.
Rebuke for Immaturity: Need to Turn Aside to Less Spiritual Things (5:11-14)
11 Concerning whom we have much to say, and hard to be interpreted in speaking of it, since ye are become dull in hearing. 12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have again need that one should teach you what are the elements of the beginning of the oracles of God, and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food. 13 For every one that partakes of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe; 14 but solid food belongs to full-grown men, who, on account of habit, have their senses exercised for distinguishing both good and evil.
(The Hebrews’ Spiritual Babyhood Addressed) (Hebrews 6)
1 Wherefore, leaving the word of the beginning of the Christ, let us go on to what belongs to full growth, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and faith in God, 2 of the doctrine of washings, and of imposition of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment; vv.1-2 These things are the very basics of Christianity, things taught by Christ himself on earth before the cross, while there was a transition from Judaism to Christianity. Hebrews opens to us the heavens, where we see Jesus crowned with glory and honor. These things were suited to the state of the disciples, but we are told to “go on unto perfection.” Not that we should give up the basic things; but having them settled, let us go on to the understanding of Christ as He now is: risen, ascended, and glorified (the meaning of the word “perfection”). Those written to were in danger of staying in the position of enlightened Jews, and of only seeing Christ as a Messiah on earth. They needed to apprehend Him as glorified in heaven, and lay hold of the full Christian revelation.12
- Repentance from dead works.
- Faith in God.
- The doctrine of washings. This would be ceremonial washings, and may even include John’s baptism, but not Christian baptism.3
- Imposition of hands.
- Resurrection of the dead.
- Eternal judgment.
3 and this will we do if God permit.
4 For it is impossible to renew again to repentance those once enlightened, and who have tasted of the heavenly gift, and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God, and the works of power of the age to come, 6 and have fallen away, crucifying for themselves as they do the Son of God, and making a show of him. 7 For ground which drinks the rain which comes often upon it, and produces useful herbs for those for whose sakes also it is tilled, partakes of blessing from God; 8 but bringing forth thorns and briars, it is found worthless and nigh to a curse, whose end is to be burned. 9 But we are persuaded concerning you, beloved, better things, and connected with salvation, even if we speak thus. 10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work, and the love which ye have shewn to his name, having ministered to the saints, and still ministering. 11 But we desire earnestly that each one of you shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end; 12 that ye be not sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience have been inheritors of the promises.
13 For God, having promised to Abraham, since he had no greater to swear by, swore by himself, 14 saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee; 15 and thus, having had long patience, he got the promise. 16 For men indeed swear by a greater, and with them the oath is a term to all dispute, as making matters sure. 17 Wherein God, willing to shew more abundantly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of his purpose, intervened by an oath, 18 that by two unchangeable things, in which it was impossible that God should lie, we might have a strong encouragement, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us, 19 which we have as anchor of the soul, both secure and firm, and entering into that within the veil, 20 where Jesus is entered as forerunner for us, become for ever a high priest according to the order of Melchisedec.
The Melchizedek Priesthood Proved Greater than Aaron’s (Hebrews 7)
Abraham (the ancestor of Aaron) Paid Tithes to Melchizedek (vv.1-10)
1 For this Melchisedec, King of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from smiting the kings, and blessed him; 2 to whom Abraham gave also the tenth portion of all; first being interpreted King of righteousness, and then also King of Salem, which is King of peace; 3 without father, without mother, without genealogy; having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but assimilated to the Son of God, abides a priest continually. 4 Now consider how great this personage was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth out of the spoils. 5 And they indeed from among the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have commandment to take tithes from the people according to the law, that is from their brethren, though these are come out of the loins of Abraham: 6 but he who has no genealogy from them has tithed Abraham, and blessed him who had the promises. 7 But beyond all gainsaying, the inferior is blessed by the better. 8 And here dying men receive tithes; but there one of whom the witness is that he lives; 9 and, so to speak, through Abraham, Levi also, who received tithes, has been made to pay tithes. 10 For he was yet in the loins of his father when Melchisedec met him.
Psa. 110 Shows that Melchizedek’s Priesthood Would Replace Aaron’s (vv.11-17)
11 If indeed then perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, for the people had their law given to them in connexion with “it”, what need was there still that a different priest should arise according to the order of Melchisedec, and not be named after the order of Aaron? 12 For, the priesthood being changed, there takes place of necessity a change of law also. 13 For he, of whom these things are said, belongs to a different tribe, of which no one has ever been attached to the service of the altar. 14 For it is clear that our Lord has sprung out of Juda, as to which tribe Moses spake nothing as to priests. 15 And it is yet more abundantly evident, since a different priest arises according to the similitude of Melchisedec, 16 who has been constituted not according to law of fleshly commandment, but according to power of indissoluble life. 17 For it is borne witness, “Thou” art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedec.
Change and Death Compared to the Power of an Endless Life (vv.18-28)
18 For there is a setting aside of the commandment going before for its weakness and unprofitableness, 19 (for the law perfected nothing,) and the introduction of a better hope by which we draw nigh to God. 20 And by how much it was not without the swearing of an oath; 21 (for they are become priests without the swearing of an oath, but he with the swearing of an oath, by him who said, as to him, The Lord has sworn, and will not repent of it, “Thou” art priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedec;) 22 by so much Jesus became surety of a better covenant. 23 And they have been many priests, on account of being hindered from continuing by death; 24 but he, because of his continuing for ever, has the priesthood unchangeable. 25 Whence also he is able to save completely those who approach by him to God, always living to intercede for them. 26 For such a high priest became us, holy, harmless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and become higher than the heavens: 27 who has not day by day need, as the high priests, first to offer up sacrifices for his own sins, then for those of the people; for this he did once for all in having offered up himself. 28 For the law constitutes men high priests, having infirmity; but the word of the swearing of the oath which is after the law, a Son perfected for ever.
- What is really meant here is “the word of the beginning of Christ,” that which was revealed in the days of His flesh and in due time recorded as His ministry in the Gospels. To limit the soul to this, perfect as it was in its season and in itself, is to do without that blessed use of His redemption and heavenly headship which the Holy Spirit inspired the apostles to preach and teach, and which we have permanently in the apostolic writings. His cross totally changed the standing of the believer. To ignore this is in fact to stop short of full and proper Christianity, to remain infants, where the Lord would have His own to reach their majority. Let us not slight the riches of His grace. – Kelly, W. An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews.
- … the weak notions of Christ which a Jew or a Pharisee could have understood and admitted, “let us go on to perfection,” receiving the testimony of God respecting the Christ whom He has raised to a heavenly glory. Why cleave to these Jewish notions when in possession of the precious revelations which belong to the heavenly calling? – Darby, J.N. Notes on the Epistle to the Hebrews.
- Take again yet lower things, “of doctrine of washings and imposition of hands.” These had their place, as we know, and many heed them much now as then, external though they are and in no way perfecting the worshipper as touching the conscience. The “washings” may include John’s baptism, or that of the disciples, though the word slightly differs in its form; and the laying on of hands was certainly an ancient sign of blessing, which we see practised in various ways even after the gospel. But those whose hearts dwell in such signs and set not their mind on things above betray the symptoms of their infantine condition. God has provided some better thing for us. They are among the things whatever their teaching might be, which the light of the glory now revealed in Christ leaves in the shade. – Kelly, W. An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews.