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Melchizedek’s Priesthood Like Christ’s

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham as he returned from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of all [the spoil]. He is, first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, which means king of peace. Without [[a]any record of] father or mother, nor ancestral line, without [any record of] beginning of days (birth) nor ending of life (death), but having been made like the Son of God, he remains a priest without interruption and without successor.

Now pause and consider how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the spoils. It is true that those descendants of Levi who are charged with the priestly office are commanded in the Law to collect tithes from the people—which means, from their kinsmen—though these have descended from Abraham. But this person [Melchizedek] who is not from their Levitical ancestry received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who possessed the promises [of God]. Yet it is beyond all dispute that the lesser person is always blessed by the greater one. Furthermore, here [in the Levitical priesthood] tithes are received by men who are subject to death; but in that case [concerning Melchizedek], they are received by one of whom it is testified that he [b]lives on [perpetually]. A person might even say that Levi [the father of the priestly tribe] himself, who received tithes, paid tithes through Abraham [the father of all Israel and of all who believe], 10 for Levi was still in the loins (unborn) of his forefather [Abraham] when Melchizedek met him (Abraham).

11 Now if perfection [a perfect fellowship between God and the worshiper] had been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people were given the Law) what further need was there for another and different kind of priest to arise, one in the manner of Melchizedek, rather than one appointed to the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is of necessity a change of the law [concerning the priesthood] as well. 13 For the One of whom these things are said belonged [not to the priestly line of Levi but] to another tribe, from which no one has officiated or served at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord descended from [the tribe of] Judah, and Moses mentioned nothing about priests in connection with that tribe. 15 And this becomes even more evident if another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek,(A) 16 who has become a priest, not on the basis of a [c]physical and legal requirement in the Law [concerning his ancestry as a descendant of Levi], but on the basis of the power of an indestructible and endless life. 17 For it is attested [by God] of Him,

You (Christ) are a Priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.”(B)

18 For, on the one hand, a former commandment is cancelled because of its weakness and uselessness [because of its inability to justify the sinner before God] 19 (for the Law never made anything perfect); while on the other hand a better hope is introduced through which we now continually draw near to God. 20 And indeed it was not without the taking of an oath [that Christ was made priest] 21 (for those Levites who formerly became priests [received their office] without [its being confirmed by the taking of] an oath, but this One [was designated] with an oath through the One who said to Him,

The Lord has sworn
And will not change His mind or regret it,
You (Christ) are a Priest forever’”).(C)

22 And so [because of the oath’s greater strength and force] Jesus has become the certain guarantee of a better covenant [a more excellent and more advantageous agreement; one that will never be replaced or annulled].

23 The [former successive line of] priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were each prevented by death from continuing [perpetually in office]; 24 but, on the other hand, Jesus holds His priesthood permanently and without change, because He lives on forever. 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever (completely, perfectly, for eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede and intervene on their behalf [with God].

26 It was fitting for us to have such a High Priest [perfectly adapted to our needs], holy, blameless, unstained [by sin], separated from sinners and exalted higher than the heavens; 27 who has no day by day need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices, first of all for his own [personal] sins and then for those of the people, because He [met all the requirements and] did this once for all when He offered up Himself [as a willing sacrifice]. 28 For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak [frail, sinful, dying men], but the word of the oath [of God], which came after [the institution of] the Law, permanently appoints [as priest] a Son [d]who has been made perfect forever.(D)

A Better Ministry

Now the main point of what we have to say is this: we have such a High Priest, [the Christ] who is seated [in the place of honor] at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty (God) in heaven,(E) a Minister (Officiating Priest) in the holy places and in the true tabernacle, which is erected not by man, but by the Lord. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices; so it is essential for this One also to have something to offer. Now if He were [still living] on earth, He would not be a priest at all, for there are priests who offer the gifts [to God] in accordance with the Law. They serve as a pattern and foreshadowing of [what has its true existence and reality in] the heavenly things (sanctuary). For when Moses was about to erect the tabernacle, he was warned by God, saying, “See that you make it all [exactly] according to the pattern which was shown to you on the mountain.”(F) But as it is, Christ has acquired a [priestly] ministry which is more excellent [than the old Levitical priestly ministry], for He is the Mediator (Arbiter) of a better covenant [uniting God and man], which has been enacted and rests on better promises.

A New Covenant

For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion for a second one or an attempt to institute another one [the new covenant]. However, God finds fault with them [showing its inadequacy] when He says,

Behold, the days will come, says the Lord,
When I will make and ratify a new covenant
With the house of Israel and with the house of Judah;

Not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
On the day when I took them by the hand
To lead them out of the land of Egypt;
For they did not abide in My covenant,
And so I withdrew My favor and disregarded them, says the Lord.
10 
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
After those days, says the Lord:
I will imprint My laws upon their minds [even upon their innermost thoughts and understanding],
And engrave them upon their hearts [effecting their regeneration].
And I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.
11 
And it will not be [necessary] for each one to teach his fellow citizen,
Or each one his brother, saying, ‘Know [by experience, have knowledge of] the Lord,’
For all will know [Me by experience and have knowledge of] Me,
From the least to the greatest of them.
12 
For I will be merciful and gracious toward their wickedness,
And I will remember their sins no more.”(G)

13 When God speaks of “A new covenant,” He makes the first one obsolete. And whatever is becoming obsolete (out of use, annulled) and growing old is ready to disappear.

The Old and the New

Now even the first covenant had regulations for divine worship and for the earthly sanctuary.(H) A tabernacle (sacred tent) was put up, the outer one or first section, in which were the lampstand and the table with [its loaves of] the sacred showbread; this is called the Holy Place.(I) Behind the second veil there was another tabernacle [the inner one or second section] known as the Holy of Holies,(J) [e]having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered entirely with gold. This contained a golden jar which held the manna, and the rod of Aaron that sprouted, and the [two stone] tablets of the covenant [inscribed with the Ten Commandments];(K) and above the ark were the [golden] cherubim of glory overshadowing [f]the mercy seat; but we cannot now go into detail about these things.

Now when these things have been prepared in this way, the priests continually enter the outer [or first section of the] tabernacle [that is, the Holy Place] performing [their ritual acts of] the divine worship, but into the second [inner tabernacle, the Holy of Holies], only the high priest enters [and then only] once a year, and never without [bringing a sacrifice of] blood, which he offers [as a substitutionary atonement] for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance.(L) By this the Holy Spirit signifies that the way into the Holy Place [the true Holy of Holies and the presence of God] has not yet been disclosed as long as the [g]first or outer tabernacle is still standing [that is, as long as the Levitical system of worship remains a recognized institution], for this [first or outer tabernacle] is a symbol [that is, an archetype or paradigm] for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which are incapable of perfecting the conscience and renewing the [inner self of the] worshiper. 10 For they [the gifts, sacrifices, and ceremonies] deal only with [clean and unclean] food and drink and various ritual washings, [mere] external regulations for the body imposed [to help the worshipers] until the time of reformation [that is, the time of the new order when Christ will establish the reality of what these things foreshadow—a better covenant].

11 But when Christ appeared as a High Priest of the good things to come [that is, true spiritual worship], He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not a part of this [material] creation. 12 He went once for all into the Holy Place [the Holy of Holies of heaven, into the presence of God], and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, having obtained and secured eternal redemption [that is, the salvation of all who personally believe in Him as Savior]. 13 For if the sprinkling of [ceremonially] defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a [burnt] heifer is sufficient for the cleansing of the body,(M) 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal [Holy] Spirit willingly offered Himself unblemished [that is, without moral or spiritual imperfection as a sacrifice] to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works and lifeless observances to serve the ever living God?

15 For this reason He is the Mediator and Negotiator of a new covenant [that is, an entirely new agreement uniting God and man], so that those who have been called [by God] may receive [the fulfillment of] the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has taken place [as the payment] which redeems them from the sins committed under the obsolete first covenant. 16 For where there is a will and [h]testament involved, the death of the one who made it must be established, 17 for a will and testament takes effect [only] at death, since it is never in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 So even the first covenant was not put in force without [the shedding of] blood. 19 For when every commandment in the Law had been read by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of the calves and goats [which had been sacrificed], together with water and scarlet wool and with a bunch of hyssop, and he sprinkled both the scroll itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant [that seals and ratifies the agreement] which God ordained and commanded [me to deliver to] you.”(N) 21 And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the containers and sacred utensils of worship with the blood. 22 In fact under the Law almost everything is cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness [neither release from sin and its guilt, nor cancellation of the merited punishment].

23 Therefore it was necessary for the [earthly] copies of the heavenly things to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves required far better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but [He entered] into heaven itself, now to appear in the very presence of God on our behalf; 25 nor did He [enter into the heavenly sanctuary to] offer Himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer over and over since the foundation of the world; but now once for all at the consummation of the ages He has appeared and been publicly manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And just as it is appointed and destined for all men to die once and after this [comes certain] judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once and once for all to bear [as a burden] [i]the sins of many, will appear a second time [when he returns to earth], not to deal with sin, but to bring salvation to those who are eagerly and confidently waiting for Him.

One Sacrifice of Christ Is Sufficient

10 For since the Law has only a shadow [just a pale representation] of the good things to come—not the very image of those things—it can never, by offering the same sacrifices continually year after year, make [j]perfect those who approach [its altars]. For if it were otherwise, would not these sacrifices have stopped being offered? For the worshipers, having once [for all time] been cleansed, would no longer have a consciousness of sin. But [as it is] these [continual] sacrifices bring a fresh reminder of sins [to be atoned for] year after year, for it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when Christ enters into the world, He says,

Sacrifice and offering You have not desired,
But [instead] You have prepared a body for Me [to offer];

In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no delight.

Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come
To do Your will, O God
[To fulfill] what is written of Me in the scroll of the book.’”(O)

After saying [in the citation] above, “You have neither desired, nor have You taken delight in sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin(which are offered according to the Law) then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will.” [And so] He does away with the first [covenant as a means of atoning for sin based on animal sacrifices] so that He may inaugurate and establish the second [covenant by means of obedience].(P) 10 And in accordance with this will [of God] we [who believe in the message of salvation] have been sanctified [that is, set apart as holy for God and His purposes] through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed) once for all.

11 Every priest stands [at his altar of service] ministering daily, offering the same sacrifices over and over, which are never able [k]to strip away sins [that envelop and cover us]; 12 whereas Christ, having offered the one sacrifice [the all-sufficient sacrifice of Himself] for sins for all time, sat down [signifying the completion of atonement for sin] at the right hand of God [the position of honor], 13 waiting from that time onward until his enemies are made a footstool for His feet.(Q) 14 For by the one offering He has perfected forever and completely cleansed those who are being sanctified [bringing each believer to spiritual completion and maturity]. 15 And the Holy Spirit also adds His testimony to us [in confirmation of this]; for after having said,

16 
This is the covenant that I will make with them
After those days, says the Lord:
I will imprint My laws upon their heart,
And on their mind I will inscribe them [producing an inward change],”

He then says,

17 
And their sins and their lawless acts
I will remember no more [no longer holding their sins against them].”(R)

18 Now where there is [absolute] forgiveness and complete cancellation of the penalty of these things, there is no longer any offering [to be made to atone] for sin.

A New and Living Way

19 Therefore, [l]believers, since we have confidence and full freedom to enter the Holy Place [the place where God dwells] by [means of] the blood of Jesus, 20 by this new and living way which He initiated and opened for us through the veil [as in the Holy of Holies], that is, through His flesh, 21 and since we have a great and wonderful Priest [Who rules] over the house of God, 22 let us approach [God] with a true and sincere heart in unqualified assurance of faith, having had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us seize and hold tightly the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is reliable and trustworthy and faithful [to His word]; 24 and let us consider [thoughtfully] how we may encourage one another to love and to do good deeds, 25 not forsaking our meeting together [as believers for worship and instruction], as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more [faithfully] as you see the day [of Christ’s return] approaching.

Christ or Judgment

26 For if we go on willfully and deliberately sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice [to atone] for our sins [that is, no further offering to anticipate], 27 but a kind of awful and terrifying expectation of [divine] judgment and the fury of a fire and burning wrath which will consume the adversaries [those who put themselves in opposition to God].(S) 28 Anyone who has ignored and set aside the Law of Moses is put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.(T) 29 How much greater punishment do you think he will deserve who has rejected and trampled under foot the Son of God, and has considered unclean and common the blood of the covenant that [m]sanctified him, and has insulted the Spirit of grace [who imparts the unmerited favor and blessing of God]?(U) 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine [retribution and the deliverance of justice rest with Me], I will repay [the wrongdoer].” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.”(V) 31 It is a fearful and terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God [incurring His judgment and wrath].

32 But remember the earlier days, when, after being [spiritually] enlightened, you [patiently] endured a great conflict of sufferings, 33 sometimes by being made a spectacle, publicly exposed to insults and distress, and sometimes by becoming companions with those who were so treated. 34 For you showed sympathy and deep concern for those who were imprisoned, and you joyfully accepted the [unjust] seizure of your belongings and the confiscation of your property, conscious of the fact that you have a better possession and a lasting one [prepared for you in heaven]. 35 Do not, therefore, fling away your [fearless] confidence, for it has a glorious and great reward. 36 For you have need of patient endurance [to bear up under difficult circumstances without compromising], so that when you have carried out the will of God, you may receive and enjoy to the full what is promised.

37 
For yet in a very little while,
He who is coming will come, and will not delay.
38 
But My righteous one [the one justified by faith] shall live by faith [respecting man’s relationship to God and trusting Him];
And if he draws back [shrinking in fear], My soul has no delight in him.(W)

39 But [n]our way is not that of those who shrink back to destruction, but [we are] of those who believe [relying on God through faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah] and by this confident faith preserve the soul.

Footnotes

  1. Hebrews 7:3 Some believe that Melchizedek was an ordinary man blessed and appointed by God as a special priest, who serves as a Christlike figure in his priestly and kingly functions because his order was a priesthood without end. Others take the description literally to mean that Melchizedek was not a human, but an angel (v 8). If this is so, then Christ, as the Son of God, would be the “High Priest” of the order in which Melchizedek served as priest in the sense that angels are spiritual beings who have a pretemporal, but not eternal origin. Another view suggests that Melchizedek was perhaps a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus in human form. Those who maintain that Melchizedek was an ordinary human being would say the writer is speaking symbolically concerning his ancestry; hence the insertion of “any record of” in the text of v 3 since his death is not recorded in Scripture.
  2. Hebrews 7:8 See note v 3.
  3. Hebrews 7:16 Lit law of a fleshly commandment.
  4. Hebrews 7:28 Lit perfected.
  5. Hebrews 9:4 The Greek participle translated “having” probably conveys the notion of “associated with it” and hence refers to the fact that the altar of incense, although located in the Holy Place according to Ex 30:6, here does not refer to location but to use, given the fact that the incense wafted behind the veil into the Holy of Holies.
  6. Hebrews 9:5 I.e. the lid of the ark where blood was sprinkled by the high priest.
  7. Hebrews 9:8 During the age of the old covenant a worshiper had no direct access to God.
  8. Hebrews 9:16 This Greek word may also be translated “covenant” as in v 18 and the author may be engaging in deliberate word play here playing off of both meanings.
  9. Hebrews 9:28 See Is 53:10-12.
  10. Hebrews 10:1 I.e. achieve the goal of perfection.
  11. Hebrews 10:11 Emphatic in Greek with the sense “to deliver completely.”
  12. Hebrews 10:19 Lit brethren.
  13. Hebrews 10:29 All believers are sanctified, that is, set apart as holy for God and His purposes.
  14. Hebrews 10:39 Emphatic in Greek.

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