Hebrews; Chapter 7
UNDERSTANDING OUR HIGH PRIEST!
Hebrews 5:4-6) [GNB] No one chooses for himself the honor of being a high priest. It is only by God’s call that a man is made a high priest—just as Aaron was.
5) [GNB] In the same way, Christ did not take upon himself the honor of being a high priest. Instead, God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.”
6) [GNB] He also said in another place, “You will be a priest forever, in the priestly order of Melchizedek.”
Hebrews 5:8-11) [GNB] But even though he was God’s Son, he learned through his sufferings to be obedient.
9) [GNB] When he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him,
10) [GNB] and God declared him to be high priest, in the priestly order of Melchizedek.
11) [GNB] There is much we have to say about this matter, but it is hard to explain to you, because you are so slow to understand.
(ALT) concerning which we have much to be saying [in] word, and [it is] difficult to explain since you* have become dull in the hearing [fig., slow to respond to spiritual things].
(GW) We have a lot to explain about this. But since you have become too lazy to pay attention, explaining it to you is hard.
(MSG) I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it listening.
Hebrews 6:18-20) [GNB] There are these two things, then, that cannot change and about which God cannot lie. So we who have found safety with him are greatly encouraged to hold firmly to the hope placed before us.
19) [GNB] We have this hope as an anchor for our lives. It is safe and sure, and goes through the curtain of the heavenly temple into the inner sanctuary.
20) [GNB] On our behalf Jesus has gone in there before us and has become a high priest forever, in the priestly order of Melchizedek.
QUESTION: What do we learn here about the author of the Hebrew letter?
ANSWER: Since his readers had developed the habit of not listening intently he was willing to slow down and explain more fully the subject at hand.
NOTE: He finishes Chapter 5 by saying that he wanted to say more, but his readers weren’t quite ready to hear it because they hadn’t paid the necessary attention to the details of what he had already explained. He explained more about the subject at hand in Chapter 6 without mentioning Melchizedek; then at the end of the Chapter he re-introduces Melchizedek so that he can spend some time on the subject in Chapter 7.
On To This Week’s Lesson:
Hebrews 7:1-2) [GNB] This Melchizedek was king of Salem and a priest of the Most High God. As Abraham was coming back from the battle in which he defeated the four kings, Melchizedek met him and blessed him,
2) [GNB] and Abraham gave him one tenth of all he had taken. (The first meaning of Melchizedek’s name is “King of Righteousness”; and because he was king of Salem, his name also means “King of Peace.”)
QUESTION: What does Abraham do when he meets Melchizedek?
ANSWER: He pays tithes to him, not because he was a king, but rather, because he was a priest.
QUESTION: Why is it important for the author to point out the meaning of the name of Melchizedek?
ANSWER: The meanings of Melchizedek’s names, “King of Righteousness” and “King of Peace” are important because the author is drawing a comparison between this Old Testament king and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 7:3) [GNB] There is no record of Melchizedek’s father or mother or of any of his ancestors; no record of his birth or of his death. He is like the Son of God; he remains a priest forever.
[KJV] Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.
[GW] No one knows anything about Melchizedek’s father, mother, or ancestors. No one knows when he was born or when he died. Like the Son of God, Melchizedek continues to be a priest forever.
Regarding “no record of Melchizedek’s father,” etc.,
“The meaning is that there is no record concerning his parentage. This is significant as indicating a different type of priesthood from the Levitical, in which genealogy was of prime importance. No man might exercise priestly functions who was not of the lineage of Aaron” [Vincent].
QUESTION: Why does the author point out the lack of historical record concerning Melchizedek?
ANSWER: Melchizedek, who proceeded the Aaronic priesthood, would not have qualified to be a priest under Moses’ Law. In that sense, his priesthood is like the priesthood of Christ. No historical records concerning Jesus qualified Him to be a priest of Israel.
Hebrews 7:4-10) [GNB] You see, then, how great he was. Abraham, our famous ancestor, gave him one tenth of all he got in the battle.
5) [GNB] And those descendants of Levi who are priests are commanded by the Law to collect one tenth from the people of Israel, that is, from their own people, even though they are also descendants of Abraham.
6) [GNB] Melchizedek was not descended from Levi, but he collected one tenth from Abraham and blessed him, the man who received God’s promises.
7) [GNB] There is no doubt that the one who blesses is greater than the one who is blessed.
8) [GNB] In the case of the priests the tenth is collected by men who die; but as for Melchizedek the tenth was collected by one who lives, as the scripture says.
9) [GNB] And, so to speak, when Abraham paid the tenth, Levi (whose descendants collect the tenth) also paid it.
10) [GNB] For Levi had not yet been born, but was, so to speak, in the body of his ancestor Abraham when Melchizedek met him.
[KJV] For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.
QUESTION: Why does the author of this letter now turn the discussion to tithes?
ANSWER: He wants to show us that, since Levi was a descendent of Abraham, when Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, Levi, who “was yet in the loins of his father,” through the person of his father, paid tithes. In other words, the one who would collect the tithes of the people, first paid tithes to this priest who wouldn’t be qualified to be a priest under the Law.
QUESTION: Why is this important?
ANSWER: The author wants us to see that, according to verses 6-7, that this Melchizedek was “greater” than Abraham, and therefore, greater than Levi. In other words, Jesus, who is forever a priest after the order of Melchizedek, is greater than Abraham, and His priesthood is greater than the priesthood of Levi.
QUESTION: Do you remember, from a discussion on Hebrews we had a very long time ago, what I called the Epistle of Hebrews?
ANSWER: Hebrews is the “better than” Epistle:
1. In chapters 1-2 Jesus is “better than” the angels, being the Son of God.
2. In chapters 3-4 Jesus is “better than” Moses and Joshua, being the true Deliverer.
3. In chapters 5-7 Jesus is “better than” Aaron, being the great High Priest.
4. In chapter 8 the temple Jesus represents is “better than” the temple Aaron represented, being it was built by God.
5. Also in chapter 8 the covenant Jesus represents, as “better than” the covenant Aaron represented, being its fulfillment depends on God’s faithfulness, not ours.
6. In chapters 9-10 the sacrifice of Jesus is “better than” the sacrifices of the Old Covenant, being His sacrifice removes our sins forever.
Walk of Grace Chapel, Council Bluffs Church