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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: The Letter to the Hebrews

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Frameworks: Hebrews 7 & 8

 

(The objective of these ‘Frameworks' is to provide an easy-to-read layout of the text in order then to use these individual verses for verse-by-verse study or meditation. To focus each verse we have also added in italic a simple comment of what is happening)

GO TO Ch.8

FRAMEWORKS: Hebrews 7: Melchizedek and Jesus

 

v.1-10 Melchizedek the Priest
v.11-28 Jesus Like Melchizedek

 

[Note: for explanations of this very Jewish-history chapter see the explanations at the end of the chapter after having read the chapter. Remember it is written first for Jewish Christians]

 

 

v.1-10 Melchizedek the Priest

 

v.1,2 (see Gen 14:18-20 for Melchizedek's encounter with Abraham) This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.”

v.3 (the writer observing that virtually nothing is known about him beyond that found in the few verses in Genesis 14, says he appears like Jesus without human origins, beginning or end) Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.

v.4 (even Abraham honoured and respected him) Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder!

v.5 (but Levites now collect tithes) Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham.

v.6 (but this man wasn't a Levite but still collected a tithe from Abraham) This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises.

v. 7 (clearly greater than Abraham) And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater.

v.8 (strangely, Levites die but there is no record of his death) In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living.

v.9,10 (one might say Levi paid him a tithe) One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.

 

 

v.11-28 Jesus Like Melchizedek

 

v.11-14 Non-Levitical Background

v.11 (if the Law was perfect why the need for anther priest) If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron?

v.12 (if the priesthood changes, presumably the Law does as well) For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also.

v.13 (he clearly came from a different background) He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar.

v.14 (and Jesus, of course, came from the tribe of Judah) For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

 

v.15-17 Non-regulatory Priest

v.15,16 (so another comes with similar origins, descriptions etc. as Melchizedek) And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 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.

v.17 (thus the Messiah as seen in the Psa 110 prophecy is to be declared to be like Melchizedek) For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” [Psa 110:4]

 

v.18-22 Replacement with an Oath

v.18,19 (the former imperfectly followed Law was being replaced) The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

v.20,21 (and this reference came with an oath to confirm it) And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 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.' [Psa 110:4]

v.22 (thus Jesus brings a more sure covenant) Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.

 

v.23-25 A Permanent Priest

v.23,24 (Jesus has a permanent priesthood because he is still alive) Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.

v.25 (so he is available for all in history who would come to him) Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

 

v.26-28 A Perfect Priest

v.26 (everything about him says he is perfect for the job) Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.

v.27 (… not needing to continually offer sacrifices for sin) 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.

v.28 (this prophetic oath came after the Law) For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

 

[Comment/Explanation: Remember the writer is writing to a Jewish community and throughout he has been extolling Jesus, raising him above any other. He has been referring to Jesus as our high priest and he does this because:

•  the priest offered sacrifices for sin; Jesus has done that.
•  a priest intercedes for the people; Jesus has done that.

  

BUT he seeks to make the point that Jesus is superior to the Levitical priesthood established by the Law. He does this by referring to Psa 110, a prophetic psalm accepted by the Jewish community for centuries as pointing to the Messiah. Peter on the Day of Pentecost also applies this psalm to Jesus in a similar way – see Acts 2:34-36.

  

But this psalm also calls the coming one, the Messiah, a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psa110:4). (Note the clarity of that, the Messiah is a priest.) The writer thus takes what little is known about Melchizedek and parallels it with Jesus:

•  nothing known about their origins – or their ending, they thus appear as eternal priests.
•  Abraham (and by inference his subsequent family including Levi and the priesthood) gave a tithe to Melchizedek (who was both a king and a priest) implying he was superior to Abraham and his subsequent family; Jesus is superior being the Son of God.
•  neither Melchizedek nor Jesus come from the tribe of Levi and both operate outside the Levitical priesthood.

In addition to this, we need to observe the explanation for the need of this new priesthood spoken of in this psalm. The Law was unable to be kept perfectly and so priests had to keep on presenting offerings for themselves as well as for their people. A new form of priesthood was thus required and Psa 110:4 reveals God swearing that the Messiah will be a priest like Melchizedek. Priests weren't normally sworn in and so this also raises the esteem of this new messiah-priest. Jesus as the perfect Son of God, qualified for this role in that

•  he was sinless and didn't need a sin offering for himself,
•  being perfect, when he sacrificed himself, his act on the cross, as a sin offering, was not for himself but for everyone else,
•  having been raised from the dead and having ascended into heaven, as the eternal Son of God, he is available to present himself as the sin offering for every one of us.

These things will be further developed in the following chapters.]

 

 

 

 

FRAMEWORKS: Hebrews 8: Jesus, High Priest of a New Covenant

    

v.1-3 Jesus, priest approved
v.4-6 Earthly Ministry
v.7-13 Old Covenant replaced

 

 

v.1-3 Jesus, priest approved

 

v.1,2 (our high priest, who represents us before God, actually now sits alongside God) Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.

v.3 (priest have to offer something) Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer.

 

v.4-6 Earthly Ministry

 

v.4 (on the earth, not being a Levite, he would be redundant) If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law.

v.5 (earthly ministry is just a copy of the reality achieved in heaven) They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” [Exo 25:40]

v.6 (but not only Jesus, but also his ministry is superior to the earthly priesthood's ministry) But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.

 

v.7-13 Old Covenant replaced

 

v.7 (if the first covenant worked perfectly there would be no need for another one [but it didn't!]) For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.

v.8 (and God saw that and planned for a new covenant) But God found fault with the people and said: “The days are coming, declares the Lord,   when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel   and with the people of Judah.

v.9 (Israel failed to keep the Sinai covenant and were rejected in the desert) It will not be like the covenant made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.

v.10 (so He planned a new covenant whereby the Law would be within the people of God) This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God,   and they will be my people.

v.11 (no longer would they need to teach the Law because it would be in them) No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,' because they will all know me,   from the least of them to the greatest.

v.12 (and their sins would be forgiven) For I will forgive their wickedness   and will remember their sins no more.” [Jer 31:31-34]

v.13 (‘new' implied the old was obsolete) By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

 

 

[ Comment: The Flow of Writing: As we said at the end of the previous chapter, this one expands on what was said previously by reiterating that

•  Jesus our high priest now sits in heaven
•  the earthly priestly ministry was merely a shadow of then reality expressed in heaven
•  the old covenant was inadequate in that Israel showed they were unable to keep the Sinai covenant
•  so God had already planned to replace it with a new covenant that would result in the law being in the hearts and minds of believers who had received God's forgiveness on the basis of the sacrifice for sin of His Son. The old covenant was now obsolete.

The following chapter further explains this by descriptions of the requirements of the Law – including the shedding of blood [by the sacrifice]. The use of blood in the old covenant is examined and contrasted with the shedding of Christ's blood. As a subject that is so alien to modern life, we will seek to see the meanings behind all these things.]

  

(CONTINUE to CHAPTER 9)