Monday, September 14, 2009

An Examination of Hebrews Chapter 7

1 "This Melchizedek was King of Salem and priest of the God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him,"
2 "To whom also Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means 'King of righteousness'; then also, 'King of Salem' meaning 'King of peace.'"

Some confusion arises here by the term "King of peace." Some wonder if this is Christ being spoken of. Yet Christ is referred to as the "Prince of Peace' not "King of Peace." I would interpret this as saying that the word "Salem" means "peace."

This confusion continues into the next verse.

3 "Without father, without mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever."

Some ask whether this refers to Christ? But the answer to this is answered simply.

We have 3 statements _

(a). "Without father." Is this true that Christ was "without father?"

Matt 16:16 answers this question - "And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Also refer Matt 14:33, 8:29 and 26:63

(b). "Without mother." Was Christ "without mother?"

Matt 1:18 answers this question - "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary...." Also refer Matt 1:23 & 25, 2:11 & 13, Luke 1:30-31

(c). "Without genealogy."

Matt 1:1 "The book of the generations of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham." Also refer Matt 21:9, Isa 11:1 and Jer 23:5

As a spirit Christ was also the Son of God.

"Who is the image of the invisible God, the firsborn of every creature."

Also the text states in regard Melchizedek that LIKE the Son of God he remains a priest forever. So this doesn't come over as if he is speaking of Melchizedek as the Son of God.

The text states that the Melchizedek priesthood remains with people who are given it forever. As it is eternal it seems logical to conclude that this reference is to the priesthood itself, and that the holder maintains it continuously as it has no beginning or end.

4 "Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder!"

This makes reference to the greatness of Melchizedek.

5 "Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people--that is, their brothers--even though their brothers are descended from Abraham."

Only those of the tribe of Levi could become priests (whether Aaronic or Levitical priesthood). Aaron was also of the tribe of Levi (he and Moses were great grandchildren of Levi). And as the other tribes of Israel were also children of Jacob (Israel) and he was the grandson of Abraham, all tribes of Israel are brothers.

6 "This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises."
7 "And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater."

In spite of not being of Levi, Melchizedek collected tithes from Abraham and blessed him. Therefore Melchizedek must have been greater than Abraham.

8 "In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living."

The Levitical priesthood dies when the person does. But Melchizedek's priesthood (the Melchizedek priesthood) is eternal and so remains with him even though he is physically dead ("he remains a priest forever" verse 3).

9 "One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham,"
10 "because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor."

Abraham was the Great-great-great-great Grandfather of Levi, through whom the priests at Paul's time could all attribute their priesthood, and as Abraham was paying tithing to Melchizedek, so Levi, in a sense, paid tithing to the holder of the greater priesthood.

11 "If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come--one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron?"
12 "For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law."

Paul is presenting that a greater priesthood can only be necessary where a greater law is given.

13 "He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar."
14 "For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests."

The Jews were descended from Judah, which was Levi's brother. Jews had no right to priesthood. All priesthood holders were from the tribe of Levi. John the Baptist was a descendant of Aaron, for example (of Levi). Thus he had authority to baptise. Jesus, being of Judah, was from a tribe not entitled to priesthood.

15 "And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears,"
16 "one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life."
17 "For it is declared: 'You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.'"
18 "The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless"
19 "(for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God."

So the new priesthood for the gospel is the Melchizedek priesthood; and the lower priesthoods aren't required within it (though we use the Aaronic priesthood for preparing men for the greater priesthood).

20 "And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath,"
21 "but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: 'You are a priest forever.'""

God made a promise that holders of the Melchizedek priesthood would have that priesthood forever. But to the lesser priesthood holders no such promise was given.

22 "Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant."

Because God gave this promise in regard to Melchizedek priesthood holders and Jesus has that priesthood also, we can have a guarantee that the ordinances Jesus did are permanent.

23 "Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office;"

Again Paul is reminding us that the death of a priest of the other priesthoods ends their priesthood rights.

24 "but because he continues, he has an everlasting priesthood."

The meaning of this sentence isn't very clear in English. What he is saying is in line with the whole course of the conversation here. He is really saying that because the priesthood that Jesus has continues, rather than ending at death, and he (Jesus) holds that priesthood, it is everlasting.

25 "Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them."

This idea that Jesus always "lives" may seem a little odd, as many were resurrected also when Jesus was resurrected, and could also be said to be always alive. But this refers to the fact that he is alive with the ever living priesthood (as Paul has been demonstrating throughout the conversation) which allows him to make constant intercession.

26 "Such a high priest meets our need--one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens."
27 "Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself."
28 "For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever."

Here Paul is pointing out that Jesus is the perfect one to interceed. He points out that the other priests that are under the law have to keep making sacrifices for their own sins, as they are spiritually weak. But now God has given us this perfect priesthood of promise (the Melchizedek priesthood), for those no longer under the law, he has, with it, appointed a priest that is perfect forever also.

It must be remembered that sacrifices weren't the only calling of a priest. He had to do such things as declare lepers free of leprocy. They had judgement callings also. Revelation was required by the President of the priesthood (Chief High priest). Baptism required such, as does the sacrament/communion.

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