What does Hebrews 7:12 mean?
ESV: For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.
NIV: For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also.
NASB: For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also.
CSB: For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must be a change of law as well.
NLT: And if the priesthood is changed, the law must also be changed to permit it.
KJV: For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
NKJV: For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law.
Verse Commentary:
In the Old Testament, the priesthood was established through the tribe of Levi. This came with the introduction of the law of Moses. This connection of the priesthood to a certain family line had to begin with the establishment of a new law; it could not be broken without a new law. In this chapter, the author of Hebrews seeks to prove that Melchizedek's priesthood is superior to that of Aaron, and use that comparison to show how Jesus Christ is the real, ultimate fulfillment of our salvation. As part of that argument, he has already shown that Melchizedek is a greater figure than Abraham (Hebrews 7:6–7).

This beginning and ending of a priestly line in connection to the law is crucial. Melchizedek, as later verses will point out, was not part of the tribe of Levi (Hebrews 7:6; 7:16). His was not a Levitical or Aaronic priesthood (Hebrews 7:15–16). And yet, his priesthood existed before Levi or Aaron, and his priesthood is not said to have ended. In fact, God has promised to establish someone "forever" in that very Melchizedek priesthood (Psalm 110:4). The conclusion, then, is that the Melchizedek priesthood is superior to the Levitical priesthood, and that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of this promise.
Verse Context:
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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