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Hebrews chapter 7

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11If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? 12For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. 13For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. 14For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. 15And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, 16Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. 17For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. 18For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. 19For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. 20And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest: 21(For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:) 22By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. 23And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: 24But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. 25Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. 26For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; 27Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. 28For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.

What does Hebrews chapter 7 mean?

In chapter 5, the author of Hebrews began to explain how Jesus functions as humanity's ultimate, perfect High Priest. This included a reference to the mysterious Melchizedek, a figure from the Old Testament story of Abraham. That explanation was interrupted with one of this letter's many warnings against faithlessness and apostasy. Chapter 6 was mostly taken up by this warning, before returning to the topic of Melchizedek through a series of metaphors related to God' promises.

Here, in chapter 7, the author dives into this discussion of the priesthood of Melchizedek. The main point being made, starting here, is that Christ is the ultimate and perfect fulfillment of God's promises. So, our covenant with Him is superior in all ways to the covenant of the Levitical law. This is crucial for the letter's original audience: persecuted Jewish Christians. This idea is so important, in fact, that the author will spend a great deal of time discussing it. Of all of the explanations given in the book of Hebrews, this is the longest, running from here in chapter 7 all the way through the beginning of chapter 10.

In short, Melchizedek serves as a metaphor for the ministry of Jesus Christ. While the Old Testament separated the line of kings from the line of priests, Melchizedek holds both titles (Genesis 14:18). His lack of a genealogy, at least in records, symbolizes a lack of either beginning or end. And, since he is honored by Abraham, his priesthood is logically superior to that of Abraham's children: the priests of Israel. God's promise to establish a prophetic figure in the priesthood of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4) is fulfilled only in Jesus Christ.

Chapter 7 begins by making two basic points. First, Melchizedek is superior to Abraham and to the Aaronic priests. This is proven by Abraham's respect for Melchizedek, by giving tithes. At the same time, Melchizedek is symbolically lacking in genealogy—in a poetic sense, he has neither beginning nor end. According to the writer of Hebrews, this, in a sense, is the same way in which Christ's priesthood is without beginning or end, as Christ is without beginning or end.

The second main point is that the priesthood of Melchizedek is greater than the priesthood of Aaron or the other Levitical priests. The system of the Law, established under Moses, was imperfect and only temporary. Jesus, on the other hand, is the High Priest of a perfect covenant, one which can completely save and which never ends. To make this point, the author refers to Old Testament scriptures and compares the strengths and weaknesses of the two orders. Jesus is superior to the priests of the Old Covenant, since He is deathless, eternal, and without sin.

This explanation of the Melchizedek priesthood will continue into chapter 8 and beyond. Having established that the priesthood of Jesus is superior to the priesthood of Aaron, the author will begin to explain how Jesus' work as our High Priest is also superior.
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