Studies In Hebrews
by Alex D. Ogden
The Greatness Of Melchizedek (7:4-10)
In considering Melchizedek the writer says, "Now
consider how great this man was" (7:4). Our author puts
forth three arguments to show the supremacy of Melchizedek.
- Abraham, the father of the Israelite people, gave tithes
to Melchizedek by giving him a tenth of the chief spoils
from the battle with the kings (v.4; cf.Gen.14:13-24).
The sons of Levi, who were later commanded to receive
tithes of the people of Israel (v.5), were yet in the
loins of Abraham. Therefore, "through Abraham
even Levi, who receiveth tithes, hath paid tithes" (v.9).
Abraham recognized the greatness of Melchizedek when he
gave him tithes.
- Melchizedek, who received tithes of Abraham, "blessed
him that hath the promises. But without any dispute the
less is blessed of the better" (v.6,7). Since
Melchizedek received tithes from Abraham and blessed him,
and the lesser is blessed of the greater, then it follows
that Melchizedek is greater than Abraham. It also follows
that the priesthood of Melchizedek was more excellent
than that of the sons of Levi who though yet unborn, were
in the loins of Abraham. Since Abraham was blessed of
Melchizedek we understand that Melchizedek was greater
than Abraham, the father of the Israelite Nation.
- The writer next shows the greatness of Melchizedek's
priesthood to that of the Levites by showing the
mortality of the Levites and the apparent immortality of
Melchizedek. "And here men [Levites] that
die receive tithes; but there one [Melchizedek], of
whom it is witnessed that he liveth" (v.8).
Since immortality is better than mortality, the
priesthood of Melchizedek is greater than that of the
By these three arguments Melchizedek is shown to be greater
than both Abraham and Levi, who was already in the loins of his
father Abraham (v.10). The priesthood of Melchizedek is,
therefore, greater than the Levitical priesthood. Furthermore,
since Christ's priesthood is "after the order of
Melchizedek" (cf.6:20), His priesthood is also greater
than the Levitical priesthood. The author proceeds to develop
this contrast even further.
The Superiority Of Jesus' Priesthood (7:11-28)
This discussion of Melchizedek being greater than both Abraham
and the sons of Levi raises the question, "Now if there
was perfection [complete redemption, remission of sins] through
the Levitical priesthood (for under it hath the people received
the law), what further need was there that another priest should
arise after the order of Melchizedek, and not be reckoned after
the order of Aaron?" (v.11). Jehovah had indicated long
before that the one who would sit on His right hand as king
(Ps.110:1), by an oath of Jehovah would be made priest for ever
after the order of Melchizedek (Ps.110:4; see also Zech.6:12,13).
The writer of Hebrews has shown clearly that Jesus is both seated
at the right hand of God and a priest after the order of
Melchizedek (1:3,13; 5:5,6,10; 6:20; 7:17; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2).
Since the priesthood has been changed, "there is made
of necessity a change also of the law" (v.12). Our
writer explains: "For he of whom these things are said
belongeth to another tribe, from which no man hath given
attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord hath
sprung out of Judah; as to which tribe Moses spake nothing
concerning priests" (v.13,14). Aaron could not serve as
priest under any other law than the law of Moses, and no
non-Levitical priest could serve under the law of Moses
(cf.Num.18:7). Therefore, if the priesthood has changed there has
obviously been a change of law as well.
To further verify the removal of the old order (priesthood,
law, and imperfection) and the introduction and permanence of
another the Hebrew writer presents the following three facts:
- The endless life of the new priest and His priesthood. "And
what we say [verses 11-14] is yet more
abundantly evident, if after the likeness of Melchizedek
there ariseth another priest, who hath been made, not
after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the
power of an endless life: for it is witnessed of him,
Thou art a priest for ever after the order of
Melchizedek" (v.15-17). By the law of Moses
each new priest had to be a descendant of Aaron and they
assumed the priesthood because of the law of succession
made necessary by death; that is, regardless of how
personally holy or desirous his predecessor was in
remaining on and on as priest, they could not continue in
the office beyond death. In contrast, the priesthood of
Christ after the order of Melchizedek rests on the power
of His endless and sinless life. God made Him a "priest
for ever" (cf.5:5,6; 6:20; 7:20,21). Since He
would never die in this office, His eternal priesthood
would make unnecessary the appointment of another priest
- Our priest is able to "save to the uttermost
them that draw near unto God through him" (v.25).
Since the Levitical priesthood could not provide
perfection [complete redemption, remission of sins],
there was a need for another priest to arise (v.11).
Jesus is that priest and through Him we are able to have
full and complete forgiveness of our sins. Furthermore,
He "ever liveth to make intercession for
them" who draw near to God. The priest after
the order of Aaron could intercede for the people for a
while but their intercession was always cut short because
of death. With our High Priest their is constant
intercession available for us since He "ever
- The superiority of Christ's priesthood to the Levitical
priesthood is further established by the moral perfection
of our High Priest. The writer puts it thus, "For
the law appointeth men high priests, having infirmity;
but the word of the oath, which was after the law,
appointeth a Son, perfected for evermore" (v.28).
No priest after the order of Aaron was morally perfect or
perfect in the office of high priest. On the other hand,
the moral perfection of our High Priest was always
complete, but His perfection as High Priest and as author
of eternal salvation had to be accomplished through
suffering. "For it became him, for whom are all
things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many
sons unto glory, to make the author of their salvation
perfect through sufferings" (2:10). In being
made like His brethren, sharing their flesh which is
subject to temptation, He qualified Himself to become a
merciful and faithful high priest (2:17). "For
in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is
able to succor them that are tempted" (2:18).
This was furthered affirmed when he said, "though
he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which
he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became unto
all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation;
name of God a high priest after the order of
Clearly our High Priest, Jesus Christ, and His priesthood are
far superior to the Levitical priest and their priesthood. With
such a great High Priest why would any Christian want to turn
back unto anything else?
This page is © Copyright 1996-98 by Alex
Ogden, All Rights Reserved.
This page was last updated on Thursday,
May 28, 1998.