What does Hebrews 7:13 mean?
ESV: For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar.
NIV: He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar.
NASB: For the one about whom these things are said belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar.
CSB: For the one these things are spoken about belonged to a different tribe. No one from it has served at the altar.
NLT: For the priest we are talking about belongs to a different tribe, whose members have never served at the altar as priests.
KJV: For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.
NKJV: For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar.
Verse Commentary:
Under the law of Moses, all priests were members of the tribe of Levi. This passage, however, has been speaking of the Old Testament figure of Melchizedek, who was not part of that line. In fact, he predates the tribe of Levi, and was given tithes and honors by Abraham himself (Genesis 14:14–24; Hebrews 7:4–7). In this way, Melchizedek is clearly a greater figure than Abraham, and his priesthood is clearly greater than that of Levi or Aaron.

The promises of God also separated the priesthood, through the tribe of Levi, from the throne, through the tribe of Judah. And yet, as earlier verses in Hebrews have shown, the Promised One is described as both a king and a priest. Melchizedek, then, serves as a foreshadowing of the ministry of Christ. He is greater than Abraham (John 8:53), predates the Law of Moses (John 8:58), and is without beginning or end (John 1:1–3). This not only means Christ can be the fulfillment of prophecy, He is the only one who can fulfill God's plan to perfectly—completely—provide for mankind's salvation. If the Levitical priesthood was able to accomplish this, God would never have promised, after Levi, to establish Melchizedek's order forever (Hebrews 7:11).
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.
Accessed 5/26/2024 4:13:53 PM
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