Tag Archives: Melchisedec


Related: The Millennium   Melchisedec. It is amazing that with only a brief historical reference to Melchisedec in Genesis 14 and a brief prophetic reference in Psalm 110, there could be such a rich unfolding of doctrine concerning Melchisedec in Hebrews 5 - 7. In Genesis 14 we find that Melchisedec was the king of […]
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Genesis 14

Bk Sec Outline Sec Bk   The War of Sodom: Abram Rescues Lot Genesis 14   Genesis 14. In this chapter there is much instruction for us. The chapter records the war fought by the confederate armies of Mesopotamia against the confederate armies of Canaan, and how these events involved Abram and Lot. In a practical way, two great […]

Psalm 110

Bk Sec Outline Sec Bk   Psalm 110 The Vindication of Christ: David’s Lord, the Melchisedec Priest   Psalm 110. This Psalm of David is one of the most important chapters in scripture. Aside from the ten commandments, of all Old Testament passages, Psalm 110 and Psalm 118 are the two most commonly quoted passages in the New Testament. […]

Hebrews 5 – 7

Christ is Superior to Israel’s Priesthood: Aaron’s vs. Melchizedek’s
Hebrews 5 – 7
Ch.5-7. Primary doctrinal portion: priesthood of Christ. Apostle in ch.3-4 compared to Moses and Joshua. High Priest in ch.4:14-7:28, compared to Aaron! Jew converts to Christianity, loses nothing, gains. Structure: opening treatise, then a digression, followed by a fuller discussion of the priesthood. Features of Christ’s priesthood, personal dignity of the Priest and qualifications.

Christ’s Priesthood Introduced (5:1-10)

The Superiority of Christ’s Priesthood. The major point of these verses is to show that the earthly high priesthood Israel had pales in comparison with the heavenly priesthood of Christ!

The Qualifications of a Priest (vv.1-4)

Qualifications of a Priest. Jewish mind naturally inquire, was He qualified? Priests of Levi, family of Aaron… the Lord of Judah. Necessary to show Christ met, exceeded every qualification.
v.1 Humanity and Offerings. Must be a man, to act on behalf of men as a representative toward God. Another reason covered in vv.2-3: that he may sympathize with those he represents. In v.1 the idea of representation. Functioned as a mediator (1 Tim. 2:5), as with Aaron (names in two stones on the shoulder-pieces and breastplate, Ex. 28). Office was to offer to God what He desired from man. Offerings divided in two classes: gifts or free-will offerings (Lev. 1-3), sacrifices for sin (Lev. 4-5). Christ offered much more! Aaronic priesthood a type of the priesthood of Christ, does not follow that every action of priesthood has a direct parallel; e.g. Aaronic priest offered sacrifices for sins, cannot be construed to mean cross is part of His high priestly work.
vv.2-3 Sympathetic. Able to sympathize with the represented. How could he offer on behalf, plead their cause, if no ability to sympathize? Aaron in the same plight as people. Christ had no infirmities of His own, those result of sin. Christ bore our infirmities (Isa. 53:4, Matt. 8:17). Earthly high priest would have a sinful nature, need to offer for his own sins as well as others. Not so with Christ. 
v.4 Called by God. Wrong to appoint themselves , like Korah and associates (Num. 16:1-3), or Uzziah (2 Chron. 26:16). Nor right to be chosen by men, like Jeroboam’s priests (1 Kings 13:33). Must be called by God Himself, as Aaron!

How Christ Exceeds Every Qualification (vv.5-10)

vv.5-6 Appointed by God. Christ would not take honor Himself, but given by God! He is of the tribe of Judah, but given priesthood by God connected with His own personal dignity, hence the double quotation. Psalm 2 and Psalm 110 quoted, connecting His personal and official glories. “Thou art my Son” given in incarnation, and “Thou art a priest” given in glorification. Even after the cross and atoning work, Christ would not glorify Himself! We see His perfection as man. Divine glory carefully maintained: through fully a man. Earthly priest  from obscure origins (vv.2-3), Christ, a man in every sense, yet glorious Son of God! “Thou art a priest” (Psa. 110:4) prophetic of Christ upon ascension; i.e. high priest in heaven! Compare with earthly priesthood! God said “for ever” in contrast with earthly priests’ short tenure. No need for priesthood in eternity, but order of Melchisedec characterized by “forever”. Christ is of a different order. Aaronic order transient and temporal, interrupted by death. Melchisedec eternal and unchanging (Heb. 7:24). Currently functioning in the character of Aaron, intercede on basis of sacrifice, but Himself of a higher order, of Melchisedec. Hence, person of Melchisedec later dropped in Hebrews. Millennium, Christ will function as a Melchisedec-priest. Focus in Hebrews on the Priest and His order, has to do with Personal dignity.
v.7 Offered Supplications and Prayers. Every priest offers (v.1), Christ offered prayers too, in addition Himself (Heb. 9:14; 9:26), before He became High Priest, met the qualification. In view Garden of Gethsemane. Offered to God sacrifices He desired from man: dependence, submission, and obedience unto death. Atoning sacrifice not in v.7, ch.5-7 focus on Priest, don’t have cross in view til ch.8-10 (next section). As He offered, did so with more devotion than any other priest. As perfect man, prayed to His God. “Out of death” not “from death”, “from the lion’s mouth”. Full answer seen in resurrection (Psa. 22:21)! No answer during three hours (Psa. 22:2), but when work complete (Psa. 22:21b). Reason: “heard because of his piety”. Different reason than John 13:32, because glorified God.
v.8 Learned Obedience. Experimentally learned obedience from suffering. Before Son never had to obey (Psa. 33:9). Learned obedience as a man (Psa. 40:7-8). Doesn’t take away from omniscience! Cross was highest expression of obedience! Knows what it means to obey, to suffer to obey. Love: to undertake education to be perfect Sympathizer!
vv.9-10 Perfected. Not moral perfection. The whole course of Christ as a man, through suffering-filled life, through cross, resurrection, glorification, and pronouncement “Thou art a priest for ever”. See Heb. 7:26-28, “perfected forever”. Eternal salvation: every other priest subject to claims of death, Christ a glorified man perfected, living continually! Therefore, able to save in temporal and eternal sense. Will bring those who obey Him into glorified condition with Himself! Who? Obedience of the Son connected with obedience of saints. Son greeted by God upon entry. In ch.1 invited to sit, in ch.2 crowned with glory and honor, here “addressed” or “saluted”. Highest formal greeting. No earthly priest had that.

Warning to False-Professors, Encouragement for Believers (5:11 – 6:20)

Sad Need to Turn Aside to Less Spiritual Things (vv.11-14)

v.11 Dull of Hearing. Desire to continue the subject, but concern for the souls brought him down, to administer stern rebuke. Started well, but many became dull in hearing because clinging to Judaism. Good seed falling on stony ground (Matt. 13:19, 23).
vv.12-14 Babes and Milk vs. Grown Men and Meat. Clinging to Judaism stunted growth. Spiritual babyhood an undesirable condition, contrast to “full growth”. Two causes: worldly wisdom (1 Cor. 3:1-2), the Greek tendency and traditional religion (Heb. 5:12-14), the Jewish tendency. Religion and philosophy end in same state, both opposed to faith. Religion worse; appeases conscience, claims God’s authority. Solution: present the Person of Christ as glorified in heaven. Had sufficient “time” in the profession to “be teachers”, but in need of a teacher. Basic elements are Heb. 6:1-2, cover things Jesus taught disciples on earth. “Milk” is good, necessary for “babes”, but “full-grown men” need “meat”. Need to progress, see Christ as His is now – ourselves in relation to Him – glorified in heaven! The “word of righteousness” gives understanding of how to walk consistent with God’s will. Rejecting the meat, we lose discernment, hearts hardened to Christ, growth stunted. Even things Jesus taught disciples become a law. If appropriate meat, spiritual “senses” (our conscience) exercised to distinguish “good and evil”.
Application. Tendency to make Christianity a legal religion, like “tutor” and “governor” in Gal. 4, otherwise leaves heart occupied with earthly. Leads to prolonged immaturity, “dull of hearing” when presented with glories of Christ. Need to accept glorified Christ as object in heaven, will draw our affections to where He is (Col. 3), pass judgment, allow spiritual growth.

The Need for Spiritual Growth (vv.1-3)

vv.1-3 Move Beyond First Principles. Basics of Christianity, taught by Christ before the cross, in a transition. Hebrews opens the heavens, we see Jesus crowned. Things suited to the disciples, we told to “go on unto perfection.” “Leave” not giving up basic things; but having them settled as a good foundation, to go on to understanding Christ risen, ascended, and glorified (“perfection”, ch.5 v.9). Cannot be perfect if do not recognize Christ has been perfected. Danger of staying in position of enlightened Jews, only seeing Christ as Messiah on earth. Writer confident they would move beyond, to lay hold of full Christian revelation, “the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:10). Two internal, two external, and two future things disciples before the cross were familiar with.
  1. Repentance from dead works. Change thinking, but deeper than intellect. A moral judgment, soul takes God’s side in a matter. Results in a change.
  2. Faith in God. Implicit and complete trust in God, and is the condition for justification.
  3. The doctrine of washings. Ceremonial washings as under the Old Covenant, may even include John’s baptism, not Christian baptism.
  4. Imposition of hands. Laying on of hands was a sign of conferring blessing, fellowship, or authority. It was an outward sign, practiced in both Old and New Testaments. But those things are not the focus in Christianity! 
  5. Resurrection of the dead. The resurrection is another doctrine that is known and precious to Old and New Testament saints alike. Note that it is simple “resurrection from the dead” rather than “from among the dead”. The latter expression conveys the truth of the special or first resurrection, which Jesus introduced and Paul fully developed.
  6. Eternal judgment. Another weighty matter that is considered elementary is that of eternal judgment. This was known in the Old Testament and acknowledged in the New Testament. However, the New Testament brings out the hope of the Lord’s coming as the Christian’s hope, and this shows how sad it would be to never move beyond the basics!

The Folly of Apostasy (vv.4-12)

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. vv.4-6 Apostasy Irrecoverable. It may be difficult to see the connection between vv.1-3 and vv.4-5. It helps to see that some among the Hebrews had failed to move forward and partake of the meat of Christianity (Heb. 5:11-14). Now we are shown how the folly of not moving forward can lead to the infinitely more serious folly of moving backwards in the sense of apostasy. It is possible for those who have professed Christ and enjoyed the outward blessings of Christianity to then fall away from their profession, and categorically reject Christ. This is called apostasy and it is an irrecoverable position; “it is impossible to renew again to repentance”. Often those who reject the truth of eternal security will use these verses to assert that a believer can lose their salvation. But the error comes from not understanding what an apostate is. They also do not understand vv.7-8. A number of things are mentioned that these Hebrews had experienced and enjoyed, but not necessarily with faith.
  1. First, they were “once enlightened” by the gospel shining the light of the knowledge of God on their minds. But knowledge is not equivalent to divine life.
  2. Second, they “have tasted of the heavenly gift” which refers to Christ glorified in heaven. This was an object far above this world. The professing Hebrews tasted this gift in that they were surrounded by those who were looking up, sustained by an object in heaven! But to taste the gift is not the same as receiving it.1
  3. Third, they had “been made partakers of the Holy Spirit”, not in the sense of indwelling them, but externally in the sense that they were part of God’s House by profession, in which the Holy Spirit dwells. False professors are part of God’s house, and they thus “partake” in a limited sense of the Spirit. The same word for “partakers” is translated “partners” in Luke 5:7. For example, an unbeliever who was attending a local assembly – Paul spoke of the assembly in Corinth; “…God is in you of a truth…” (1 Corinthians 14:25). But only true believers are individually indwelt by the Spirit.
  4. Fourth, they had “tasted the good word of God”. A person may hear and be attracted to the Word of God, and especially the offer of salvation – even witness the impact of the Word on consciences with power like Simon Magus (Acts 8) – and yet it not be “mixed with faith” (Heb. 4:2).
  5. Fifth, they had seen “the works of power of the age to come”. The “age to come” refers to the Millennium (Heb. 2:5), when the Spirit will be poured out on all flesh with great power in blessing on the earth. What was witnessed by the Hebrews near the Day of Pentecost displayed in miracles, tongues, and mighty acts of power (Heb. 2:4) was a foretaste of that same millennial power! But even with this testimony, some of the Hebrews would reject it.
These things have to do with the special circumstances of the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost, as a consequence of Jesus being glorified (John 7:39). These were the fruits of heaven’s response to Christ’s work on the cross. To turn back after tasting these gifts would be an unpardonable insult; “crucifying for themselves as they do the Son of God, and making a show of him”. It is to return to the position of the Jews who crucified Messiah! It would be to tear open an old wound, only worse. This is why for such a person to apostatize would mean it was impossible to “renew them again to repentance” because God has nothing more to offer than what they have tasted and rejected.
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. vv.7-8 An Example From Nature. The writer of Hebrews goes on to describe the condition and judgment of the Hebrew apostates with an example from nature. He uses the example of rain which falls on two kinds of ground. Both good and bad ground receive the same rain, but they produce different results. If the tilled land produces useful herbs, it proves that it really “partakes of blessing from God”. But if the ground brings forth thorns and briars, then it is “found worthless and nigh to a curse”. Useful growth manifests reality (Luke 8:15). Regression to a worthless state manifests a false profession only, and warrants severe judgment; “whose end is to be burned”. It is remarkable that rain is used as a picture of the blessing of the Spirit, and in the Millennium in a literal way, springs and rivers will be everywhere (Isa. 35:1,7; 41:18), even where there was once desert!

Encouragement for the Faithful (vv.9-12)

9 But we are persuaded concerning you, beloved, better things, and connected with salvation, even if we speak thus. v.9 Better Things. Although the writer had spoken of apostasy and judgment for those who brought forth thorns and briars, yet there was an expectation of better things from the Hebrews that were especially on his heart, those who are referred to as “beloved”. He was not casting doubt on their reality. What are the “better things”? Things that are “connected with salvation”. Salvation is viewed as at the end of the pathway, and it cannot be separated from fruit in the life. A person who is laboring in love (v.10), assured by hope (v.11), and living by faith (v.12) is a person who is real. Those three elements of Christianity were the same proofs of reality in the young Thessalonians. Though a sober warning was necessary, there were many who were genuine believers.
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. v.10 Past Labors. As an encouragement for the Hebrew Christians, the writer reminds them that God had seen and would remember their past labors. It was a labor of love, the motive for all Christian service, first of all toward God, and secondly toward the saints. Love serves (Gal. 5:13; Luke 22:27). Ministering to the saints could be fellowship, hospitality, meeting financial needs, etc. It is remarkable that ministering to the saints is put forward as a proof of divine life!
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. vv.11-12 Steadiness to the End. The Hebrew Christians had demonstrated evidence of Divine life, and now the exhortation was for each one (individually, 2 Tim. 3:14) to continue steadfastly to the end with “the same diligence”. There is no neutral ground for the Christian, and it is never good to decelerate in our service for God. One of the things that will help us to be diligent “unto the end” is hope. Hope has a tremendous effect on how we live. When we live with “the full assurance of hope” it makes that which God has promised very real in our hearts and minds. In Hebrews the hope is of rest and reward at the end of the pathway! The Hebrews were to imitate their forefathers, the saints of Old Testament, who “through faith and patience have been inheritors of the promises”. As Hebrews 11 shows, the men and women of faith in the past lived by faith which gave substance to the things they hoped for. 
Love, Faith, Hope.

The three things mentioned - faith, love, and hope - are the three great moral principles of Christianity; without which there would be no Christianity. Many times in the New Testament faith, hope, and love are put together (1 Cor. 13:13; Gal. 5:5-6; Col. 1:4-5; 1 Thess. 1:3; 1 Thess. 5:8-10; Heb. 6:10-12). Faith is implicit and complete trust in God: a total contrast to the unbelief and skepticism in the world around us. Hope for the believer is a deferred certainly; whether it be the hope of the Lord's coming, or of being conformed to the image of Christ, or of enjoying the glory of God. Love is a settled disposition of favor: something God has toward us, and what we ought to have toward our brethren. These three principles "now abide" (1 Cor. 13:13), and are necessary for the pathway.

But not all three will abide forever. Faith and hope are good companions for the pathway, but we will part company with them at door of heaven. Faith and hope are only needed because of the limitations of the human nature. When we get to heaven, we will see that which faith is the evidence or conviction of presently (Heb. 11:1). Our hope, being seen, will no longer be hope (Rom. 8:24). In other words, faith and hope will give way to sight. But love is the essential character of God, and it will never fade nor be replaced! Therefore, “the greater of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13).

The Sureness of Our Hope (vv.13-20)

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;” [Gen. 22:17] 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, vv.13-18 Two Unchangeable Things. Having brought up the subject of faith in God’s promises, and the example of Old Testament saints, the writer examines the specific example of the promise made to Abraham in Genesis 22. He notices that the Lord doesn’t merely tell Abraham what He will do, but He swears. To swear or make an oath is a human convention in resolving any doubt, “with them the oath is a term to all dispute, as making matters sure” (see Gen. 47:30-31). The Lord stooped down to Abraham’s level so to speak, and swears an oath to Abraham and to his seed! The Lord is in the business of giving personal guarantees. Not only that, the Lord swears “by Himself”. Men will make their oaths in the name of a great person, to lend weight to what they say. But when Jehovah swore to Abraham, “because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself”. This shows us that the Lord is exceedingly resolute in what He promised Abraham. His word was good enough, because God “cannot lie” (Tit. 1:2). Yet the Lord added His oath to the promise so that there would be a double assurance. God was anxious to demonstrate “the unchangeableness of his purpose”. The two immutable things are God’s word and God’s oath, “in which it was impossible that God should lie”. God wanted Abraham to have a strong assurance, and that assurance was soundly placed, because “having had long patience, he got the promise”. God did not give that double assurance for Abraham alone, but for all those who live by faith and look for the fulfillment of God’s promises (Gal. 3:7-8, 29). How sad that many believers think God has changed (mutated) His promise. The expression “who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us” is an illusion to the manslayer, who to escape the avenger of blood would flee to the city of refuge to lay hold of the promise made before Israel entered the land (Deut. 19:1-13; Josh. 20:1-9). The Hebrews must flee (Acts 2:38-40). Their sentence of murder was commuted to manslaughter (Acts 3:15-17). The slayer would be safe there for as long as the high priest lived. Just so, Christ our High Priest living for us at God’s right hand is our hope! See v.20 for the connection.
A Contradiction? Hebrews 6:15 indicates that Abraham received the promise of Genesis 22:17, at least the part that is quoted in Hebrews. There may at first seem to be a contradiction with Hebrews 11:13, 39 which says that Abraham died in faith not having received the promises. In his lifetime, Abraham did not actually see the numerous seed that was promised, nor did he see the promised “seed”, i.e. the Messiah who would descend from him. Notice what is omitted in the quotation in Hebrews: “as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore… and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed”. What did Abraham see? Before Abraham died he saw Isaac born to Sarah (that was past when Gen. 22:17 was uttered), but also Jacob and Esau born to Isaac. The multiplying had begun!2 See Gen. 25:23, and notice “two nations”. Abraham also had many other sons through Keturah. Furthermore, by faith he saw the day of Christ’s glory as Jesus told the Jews, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad”. He saw by faith the Messiah in the distance, and had the certainty that all the blessings would be accomplished as a result of His coming. What an example of faith! It is well suited to the character of this epistle. As to Hebrews 11:13, the reference is to seeing the wider hope fully realized, and that Abraham did not see, and thus died in faith.
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. vv.19-20 Anchor, Veil, and Forerunner. Turning deeper now to the issue of the believer’s hope which was introduced in v.18, the writer gives two practical illustrations as types that we can easily visualize. Our hope is likened to an “anchor of the soul”. The word ‘agkuras’ is found once here and three times in Acts 27 in reference to a ship’s anchor. A ship’s anchor is used in shallow water, usually within a harbor, to keep the ship from drifting. Hope is what keeps our souls from drifting away from Christ. Our hope is nothing like the vain “wishing” of men in this world. Our hope is “both secure and firm”. It cannot be moved or shaken, like a nail fastened in a sure place (Isa. 22:23)! The reason is that our hope, like an anchor, has been dropped inside the “veil”. This is reference to the veil in the tabernacle, which was the entrance to the holy place. It represents “heaven itself” (Heb. 9:24)! We are like a ship in stormy waters that is not yet inside the harbor, but our anchor is securely fastened there, giving assurance to those on board that the destination will certainly be reached. In keeping with the theme of Hebrews, Jesus glorified in heaven is the touchstone of our faith! To the unbelieving eye, the view is obfuscated. But the eye of faith can see Jesus already there (Heb. 2:9). It then says Jesus is entered “as forerunner for us”. A forerunner is ‘one who goes ahead to prepare for those who follow’. The word ‘prodromos’ occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, and was used by the Ancient Greeks to reference a light cavalry unit used for scouting ahead of the main army. Usually the forerunner was a person or group of less importance, like John the Baptist compared to Jesus. But in our case, the greater Person has gone on ahead, and we follow as His servants. Jesus has made a “new and living way” through the vail for us (Heb. 10:20), prepared the place for us (John 14:2), and He now appears in the presence of God for us (Heb. 9:24) as “a high priest according to the order of Melchisedec”. What gives us certain hope that we shall reach heaven at last is the reality that Christ is already there! Furthermore, on our journey He is interceding for us as our High Priest.

Christ’s Melchizedek Priesthood Greater than Aaron’s (7:1-28)

Hebrews 7. The writer of Hebrews is going to show that Christ’s priesthood is greater than Aaron’s, and the way he will do this is by turning to another Old Testament priest named Melchizedek, who was greater than Aaron, and then showing that Christ is a priest after the order of Melchizedek, and therefore far superior to Aaron. The aim of all this is to show the Hebrews that they lost nothing, and actually gained a great deal more, by leaving Judaism for Christianity. Two scriptures are referenced primarily, Genesis 14 in the first ten verses, and then Psalm 110 in the remainder of the chapter.

Melchizedek’s Personal Dignity in Contrast with the Greatest of Israel’s Ancestors (vv.1-10)

Melchizedek’s Personal Dignity. The first line of argument is that there is another priest besides Aaron who is a much greater person in terms of personal dignity, and the obvious conclusion being that since Christ is called by God a priest after the order of Melchizedek, He is far superior to what Israel had in Judaism. This first line of argument flows from Genesis 14.
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; vv.1-2 Both King and Priest. Beginning again with Melchisedec, the writer considers in greater detail the personal dignity of Melchisedec. There are two things that are mentioned about Melchisedec, his name and title; “first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace”. The order is important: what Christ is in His own Person (righteousness) must come before the effect of His work (peace). Melchisedec is a type of Christ in the Millennium, who will function as a priest, standing between heaven and earth; “and the work of righteousness shall be peace” (Isa. 32:17). It says in Gen. 14:18 that Melchisedec was “priest of El Elyon”, that is, “the Most High God”. The name El Elyon is a Millennial name of God. Read more… None of Israel’s earthly priests were royal priests, and this is further emphasized in that the priesthood was given to Levi and the scepter to Judah. But Christ is of the order of Melchisedec and He is both priest and king!
Priest and King. As both king and priest, Melchisedec combined two great offices of the Messiah. We see it again in David, when he danced before the ark, wearing a linen ephod. In David’s person the roles of king and priest were combined. He symbolized the relationship between God and His people, as much as He symbolized the sword of Jehovah’s government. God used David to pen that thrilling Psalm 110, in which we find that Christ is both king and priest “after the order of Melchisedec”. Both Melchisedec and David are shadows of the coming Royal Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. In prophecy we find that Christ will be King of kings and Lord of Lords, but also the Priest of the Most High God! “He shall be a priest upon his throne” (Zech. 6:13). Christ will wear both the crown and the mitre, so to speak. We who are associated with the rejected Christ, are given to share in those offices. Rev. 1:6 tells us that Christ has “made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father”.
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. v.3 A Timeless Existence. Where Melchisedec came from, we are not told. The writer of Hebrews remarks that Melchisedec was “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God”. Of course Melchisedec had a father and mother, but his genealogy is not given in Genesis 14; he just appears majestically on the scene. He was neither angelic nor Divine, but he is introduced in a abrupt and peculiar way, such that he serves as an excellent type of Christ, the eternal Son of God. This timeless or eternal character of being is a complete contrast with the Aaronic priesthood which was characterized by change and death. Genealogy was vital to the Levitical priesthood (Ezra 2:62), but not genealogy is given with Melchisedec. The earthly priests were limited to service between the ages of 30 and 50 (Num. 4:3), but not so with Melchisedec.
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. vv.4-7 Greater than Abraham. Referring now to the events of Genesis 14, the writer shows that Melchisedec was greater than Abraham, who was the greatest of Israel’s patriarchs, because Abraham gave Melchisedec a tenth part of the spoils from defeating the kings in league with Chedorlaomer. The principle of the tithe is found in the law as pertaining to the Levites, who “take tithes from the people according to the law” (see Num. 18:21-26). The “tenth part” is often the Lord’s portion (Isa. 6:13). It represents giving God His portion, as when one of ten lepers returned to give thanks (Luke 17:15). The Levites took tithes from their own brethren, all being descendants of Abraham. But Melchisedec “has no genealogy from them”. The tithes Abraham paid Melchisedec showed that the royal priest was person of superior dignity. If Israel gave tithes to the Levites, and Abraham gave tithes to Melchisedec, how much greater the priesthood of Christ must be than that of Aaron! A second proof of Melchisedec’s greatness is that he blessed Abraham (Gen. 14:19), and “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; v.8 The Witness that He Lives. Another point is made about Melchisedec, that “the witness is that he lives”. Israel’s priests were constantly being replaced by others because they died. Death was an essential feature of the Aaronic priesthood. But with Melchisedec, we read neither of his birth nor his death. He majestically appears almost outside of time. The only witness of Melchisedec is that he lives! Of course the real person Melchisedec was born and died, but the way scripture witnesses about him is striking that respect. So with our Lord. His priesthood begins on the other side of the cloud as a risen and glorified man, beyond the reach of death!
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. vv.9-10 Greater than Levi, Abraham’s Descendant. To carry the point a little further, it is noted that Levi was in the loins of Abraham in a manner of speaking when Melchisedec met him and received tithes. This shows that in principle, Levi paid tithes to Melchisedec. Therefore, the earthly priesthood which springs from Levi is inferior to that priesthood which is after the order of Melchisedec!

The Earthly Priesthood and Its System Would Be Changed (vv.11-28)

A Necessary Change. The second line of argument is that since scripture foretells a change in the priesthood, there must be some inherent lack in the first priesthood. And if the priesthood much change, so also the system that governs the priesthood. Just as the first line of argument flows from Genesis 14, the second line flows from Psalm 110.
11 If indeed then perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, for the people had their law given to them in connection 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. vv.11-12 A Different Order, Melchisedec vs. Aaron. The fact that the Aaronic order of priesthood would be surpassed by the Melchisedec order shows that there was some inherent inadequacy in the Levitical priesthood. It fell short of perfection. Why, the writer asks, was there a need for a priest to arise after a different order unless the law that governed that Levitical priesthood was incomplete? The priesthood of Aaron was a provision of God for Israel consequent on their putting themselves under law at Sinai. Contrary to their arrogant boast, it was not possible for Israel to continue under law apart from grace. The priesthood of Aaron was the gracious gift of God to Israel, in order that they might not be consumed altogether under law. We see in Numbers how Moses’ rod (judgment) fades to the background and Aaron’s rod (grace) comes to the foreground. But no one familiar with the law, or the priesthood, can fail to see the shortcomings of that system, which things Hebrews examines in detail. Further, Psalm 110 shows that the priesthood would be changed, and “of necessity a change of law also”. It isn’t “the law” but “law”; i.e. the principles on which God was dealing with His people. The dispensation of law would inevitably pass away, and this transition would take place when the Melchisedec priest arose! When Christ took His seat at the right hand of God and began to function as a priest,3, the whole order of Aaron was superseded, and along with it the economy that was introduced at Sinai. The Hebrews needed to understand that change, and the vital importance of not clinging to something that God was done with.
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. vv.13-14 A Different Tribe, Judah vs. Levi. Another question the writer deals with in this chapter is how Christ could be a priest when He came from the tribe of Judah. In fact, the priesthood being separated from Israel’s kingship is something that is emphasized in the Old Testament. King Uzziah, a king of the line of Judah, was struck with leprosy for approaching the altar. But Psalm 110 assures a royal priesthood to the Messiah, of the tribe of Judah. The fact that a priest would arise from Judah shows that the Old Covenant would be taken away, and that the change would be associated with the establishment of the Melchisedec priest.
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.” [Psalm 110:4] vv.15-17 A Different Principle. Christ is the “different priest” who “arises according to the similitude of Melchisedec”. Christ’s priesthood is sustained by the power of a different principle. Aaron’s priesthood was constantly interrupted by death, and needed a “law of fleshly commandment” to put the next generation of priests into the place of those who had died, etc. Christ’s priesthood is sustained by a totally different principle: “according to power of indissoluble life”. We have already had a reference to Melchisedec’s apparent timelessness. Here we see it is a type of Christ’s risen life: beyond the reach of death. His life is invulnerable to death, and thus His priesthood is never-ending. Hence the word “for ever” in the quotation from Psalm 110 verse 4: “Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedec.”
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. vv.18-19 Setting the Law Aside. The writer goes on to speak of the insufficiency of the law; “its weakness and unprofitableness”. The parenthetical expression “for the law perfected nothing” is extremely important. The law fell short of perfection in every way. It could not make a sinner holy, nor could it give life to a person dead in their sins. The priesthood was an institution that fell short of perfection.  The law itself spoke of a coming prophet greater than Moses, of a priest greater than Aaron, and a king greater than David. But what Judaism fell short in, Christ has brought to perfection! The “introduction of a better hope by which we draw nigh to God” refers to the approach that we have through Christ, whose death opened the way (Heb. 10:19-22), and who lives continually for us at the right hand of God! Christ perfects everything, and He alone can bring us to Himself in the glorified state; spirit, soul, and body. There is a contrast between the conditional “commandment” and the unconditional “hope”.
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;” [Psalm 110:4]22 by so much Jesus became surety of a better covenant. vv.20-22 An Oath: Surety of a Better Covenant. Another difference between the earthly priesthood of Aaron and the heavenly priesthood of Christ is seen in that Christ’s priesthood was given with an oath from God. This is a contrast with how Aaron and his sons were made priests. The fact that the Lord “has sworn, and will not repent” concerning the everlasting Melchisedec priesthood of Christ shows two things: (1) the surety of His priesthood and (2) the far greater honor of that priesthood. The oath that accompanied Christ’s priesthood shows the “surety of a better covenant” secured in the Person of Jesus. The better covenant is the New Covenant (Jer. 31) characterized by grace (simply “I will”, in contrast with the law which said “if you, then I will”). The New Covenant rests not on man’s efforts but on the shed blood of Christ. The covenant will be formally entered into in the future, between Jehovah and the houses of Israel and Judah. As Christians we are not under the letter of the New Covenant (2 Cor. 3:6), but God is dealing with us unto the spirit of the New Covenant (grace), and we do enjoy its blessings now because our great High Priest is after the order of Melchisedec! Read more… There will be much more on the New Covenant in the following chapter.
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. vv.23-25 Continuing Forever. The superiority of Christ’s priesthood is seen on another count. The Levitical priesthood was continually interrupted by death, and therefore there were “many priests”. By contrast, Christ continues forever in the power of His resurrection life, and thus His priesthood is “unchangeable”. This aspect of His continuing forever is connected with the efficacy of Christ’s priesthood; “he is able to save completely those who approach by him to God, always living to intercede for them”. An earthly priesthood interrupted by death could never “completely save” anyone. But Christ at the right hand of God is “ever living” for us, interceding constantly for those who approach to God by Him. Because of this, Jesus is able to bring us all the way home to heaven! A good example of this is Moses in Exodus 17 during the battle with Amalek. While Joshua led the fight in the valley, Moses was up on the hill with his hands lifted up. It represents the ongoing practical salvation that Christ is working for us from His seat in heaven. Christ’s action in us (Joshua) is dependent on His action for us (Moses). Moses interceded for the people below, and that was the key to their success. We need the continued intercession of Christ for each step of our pathway! We speak often of the one-time work of Christ on the cross and the salvation which, without His work, we could never have. But in a similar way it is the on-going work of Christ, not in death but in His living for us now (Rom. 5:10; Rom. 8:34) as our High Priest, that is the sole means of our preservation in this treacherous wilderness pathway, where Peter says the righteous will “scarcely be saved” (1 Pet. 4:18). Moses was a failing and feeble type, and his hands grew weary. Christ never grows weary in His intercession! It is our portion to “approach by Him to God” in prayer, to avail ourselves of that grace.4
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. vv.26-28 A Perfect Priest. The final area in which the superiority of Christ is shown is that of His moral perfection. The high priests of the the Levitical priesthood fell short of moral perfection in two ways. First, the Aaronic priests were sinners themselves, and so a priest like Aaron had to first “offer up sacrifices for his own sins”. By contrast, Christ is “holy, harmless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and become higher than the heavens”. Christ is “holy” as regards good and evil in both His nature and His objective state, “harmless” or inoffensive, “undefiled” in terms of moral uncleanness, “separated from sinners” concerning His associations, and now “higher than the heavens” in terms of His place now, which is another wonderful proof of His moral perfection as it is the only place fitting His presence. What a contrast to the corrupted priesthood that these Hebrews were accustomed to, with Caiaphas and Annas. Second, the Aaronic priests were continually offering for the sins of the people. By contrast, Christ offered “once for all” when He “offered up himself”. The work of Christ on the cross is the supreme sacrifice that forever satisfied the claims of God and the needs of man. It is the ultimate expression of His sinlessness. A perfect man offered a perfect sacrifice: He gave Himself. Notice that the sacrifice of Calvary was not in itself a priestly work, because the priesthood of Christ did not begin until He was ascended and glorified. However, the sacrifice of Calvary shows Christ to be in Himself far superior to the earthly priests whose continual work could never meet the needs of the people. In summary, the law established earthly priests that were inherently defective, but the sworn oath of Psalm 110:4 established a heavenly priest, the Son, who is “perfected for ever”. This is the high priest that becomes us. We, the holy brethren and partakers of a heavenly calling, are given a priest who is already perfected or glorified! What grace, that such a statement could be made about us!