What does Hebrews 7 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
Hebrews 7:1–10 introduces the author's central argument about the superiority of Jesus Christ. Melchizedek, a figure from the story of Abraham in the Old Testament, is the main evidence used. In this segment, the author shows how Melchizedek was superior to Abraham, since Abraham paid him tithes. This has implications for the priesthood of Melchizedek, as well as the priesthood of the Old Testament. Next, the author will show how the priesthood of Jesus, symbolized by Melchizedek, is superior to that of the Levitical law.
Hebrews 7:11–28 expands on prior arguments related to the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Here, the author shows how the priesthood of Jesus is superior to that of the Old Testament Law. This uses the figure of Melchizedek as a model. Christ's priesthood is sinless, perfect, unending, and decreed as such by God. The Levitical priesthood was temporary, flawed, imperfect, and could not last forever. This better promise, in Christ, is tied into the confidence we have as believers.
Chapter Summary:
When Abraham met with Melchizedek in the Old Testament, he honored him with tithes. This shows that Abraham recognized Melchizedek's superiority. Since the Old Covenant was flawed—based on limited priests and limited sacrifices—it is inferior to the priesthood of Melchizedek, which is unending. Jesus Christ fulfills God's promise to establish a priest ''forever'' in a way which perfectly meets our needs.
Chapter Context:
Chapters 5 and 6 detoured from the main theme in order to present a warning about faithlessness and apostasy. Chapter 7 returns to the topic of Melchizedek, who represents a mysterious but important moment in Old Testament history. Here, the author will show how Melchizedek was superior to Abraham, and that Melchizedek's priesthood is superior to the priesthood of Aaron. This leads into the next chapters, which show how Jesus Christ perfectly fulfills our salvation in ways which the Old Covenant cannot.
Book Summary:
The book of Hebrews is meant to challenge, encourage, and empower Christian believers. According to this letter, Jesus Christ is superior to all other prophets and all other claims to truth. Since God has given us Christ, we ought to listen to what He says and not move backwards. The consequences of ignoring God are dire. Hebrews is important for drawing on many portions of the Old Testament in making a case that Christ is the ultimate and perfect expression of God's plan for mankind. This book presents some tough ideas about the Christian faith, a fact the author makes specific note of.
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