A A A A A
Bible Book List

Hebrews 7English Standard Version (ESV)

The Priestly Order of Melchizedek

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.

See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers,[a] though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, 10 for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.

Jesus Compared to Melchizedek

11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. 13 For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is witnessed of him,

“You are a priest forever,
    after the order of Melchizedek.”

18 For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

20 And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, 21 but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him:

“The Lord has sworn
    and will not change his mind,
‘You are a priest forever.’”

22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.

23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost[b] those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. 28 For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.

Footnotes:

  1. Hebrews 7:5 Or brothers and sisters
  2. Hebrews 7:25 That is, completely; or at all times
English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Hebrews 7The Voice (VOICE)

In the Book of Genesis, we read about when Melchizedek, the king of Salem and priest of the Most High God, met Abraham as he returned from defeating King Chedorlaomer and his allies. Melchizedek blessed our ancestor, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything captured in the battle.[a]

Let’s look more closely at Melchizedek. First, his name means “king of righteousness”; and his title, king of Salem, means “king of peace.” The Scriptures don’t name his mother or father or descendants, and they don’t record his birth or his death. We could say he’s like the Son of God: eternal, a priest forever.

And just imagine how great this man was, that even our great and honorable patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the spoils. Compare him to the priests who serve in our temple, the descendants of Levi, who were given a commandment in the law of Moses to collect one-tenth of the income of the tribes of Israel. The priests took that tithe from their own people, even though they were also descended from Abraham. But this man, Melchizedek, who did not belong to that Levite ancestry, collected a tenth part of Abraham’s income; and although Abraham had received the promises, it was Melchizedek who blessed Abraham. Now I don’t have to tell you that it is the lesser one who receives a blessing from the greater. In the case of the priests descended from Levi, they are mortal men who receive a tithe of one-tenth; but the Scriptures record no death of Melchizedek, the one who received Abraham’s tithe. I guess you could even say that Levi, who receives our tithes, originally paid tithes through Abraham 10 because he was still unborn and only a part of his ancestor when Abraham met Melchizedek.

So Melchizedek must be considered superior even to the patriarch Abraham.

11 If a perfect method of reconciling with God—a perfect priesthood—had been found in the sons of Levi (a priesthood that communicated God’s law to the people), then why would the Scriptures speak of another priest, a priest according to the order of Melchizedek, instead of, say, from the order of Aaron? What would be the need for it? It would reflect a new way of relating to God 12 because when there is a change in the priesthood there must be a corresponding change in the law as well. 13 We’re talking about someone who comes from another tribe, from which no member has ever served at God’s altar. 14 It’s clear that Jesus, our Lord, descended from the tribe of Judah; but Moses never spoke about priests from that tribe. 15 Doesn’t it seem obvious? Jesus is a priest who resembles Melchizedek in so many ways; 16 He is someone who has become a priest, not because of some requirement about human lineage, but because of the power of a life without end. 17 Remember, the psalmist says,

You are a priest forever—
    in the honored order of Melchizedek.[b]

18 Because the earlier commandment was weak and did not reconcile us to God effectively, it was set aside— 19 after all, the law could not make anyone or anything perfect. God has now introduced a new and better hope, through which we may draw near to Him, 20 and confirmed it by swearing to it. 21 The Levite order of priests took office without an oath, but this man Jesus became a priest through God’s oath:

The Eternal One has sworn an oath
    and cannot change His mind:
You are a priest forever.[c]

22 So we can see that Jesus has become the guarantee of a new and better covenant. 23 Further, the prior priesthood of the sons of Levi has included many priests because death cut short their service, 24 but Jesus holds His priesthood permanently because He lives His resurrected life forever. 25 From such a vantage, He is able to save those who approach God through Him for all time because He will forever live to be their advocate in the presence of God.

26 It is only fitting that we should have a High Priest who is devoted to God, blameless, pure, compassionate toward but separate from sinners, and exalted by God to the highest place of honor. 27 Unlike other high priests, He does not first need to make atonement every day for His own sins, and only then for His people’s, because He already made atonement, reconciling us with God once and forever when He offered Himself as a sacrifice. 28 The law made imperfect men high priests; but after that law was given, God swore an oath that made His perfected Son a high priest for all time.

The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Viewing of
Cross references
Footnotes