What does Hebrews 7:18 mean?
ESV: For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness
NIV: The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless
NASB: For, on the one hand, there is the nullification of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness
CSB: So the previous command is annulled because it was weak and unprofitable
NLT: Yes, the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless.
KJV: For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.
NKJV: For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness,
Verse Commentary:
The system of the Old Testament priesthood, according to the author of Hebrews, is fundamentally flawed. Later verses will give specific reasons for this, such as the inherent sinfulness of human priests (Hebrews 7:27), their mortal nature (Hebrews 7:23), and their flesh-based inheritance of their titles (Hebrews 7:20). At the same time, this flaw is not an error in God's plan; rather, the priests of the law of Moses were never meant to be the final means of man's salvation (Hebrews 7:28—8:2).

This is why the author presents the situation as God "setting aside" one commandment while introducing another (Hebrews 7:19). This does not mean God is changing or contradicting Himself. This was the purpose from the beginning, and all of the Old Testament laws were meant to point to this very person: Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:19—4:7). The law was meant to show us the way, not to be the final means of our salvation. Jesus, on the other hand, is the promise which does not have the weaknesses and limitations of the Levitical priesthood.
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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