Translations: Chinese GB Big5

Hebrews 7:11-28 (web)

Christ Superior to Aaron III

The Perfection of Christ's Priesthood

I. Because of its Superior Order

7:11 Now if there was perfection through the Levitical priesthood
(for under it the people have received the law),
what further need was there for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek,
and not be called after the order of Aaron?
 
7:12 For the priesthood being changed, there is of necessity a change made also in the law.
7:13 For he of whom these things are said belongs to another tribe,
from which no one has officiated at the altar.
7:14 For it is evident that our Lord has sprung out of Judah,
about which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.
7:15 This is yet more abundantly evident,
if after the likeness of Melchizedek there arises another priest,
7:16 who has been made,
not after the law of a fleshly commandment, but after the power of an endless life:
7:17 for it is testified,
"You are a priest forever, According to the order of Melchizedek." (Ps 110:4)
7:18 For there is an annulling of a foregoing commandment
because of its weakness and uselessness
7:19 (for the law made nothing perfect), (Gal 3:21)
and a bringing in thereupon of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

II. Because it was Based on God's Oath

7:20 Inasmuch as he was not made priest without the taking of an oath
 
7:21 (for they indeed have been made priests without an oath),
but he with an oath by him that says of him,
"The Lord swore and will not change his mind,
'You are a priest forever, According to the order of Melchizedek'".
7:22 By so much has Jesus become the collateral of a better covenant.

III. Because of its Permanence

7:23 Many, indeed, have been made priests, because they are hindered from continuing by death.
 
7:24 But he, because he lives forever, has his priesthood unchangeable.
7:25 Therefore he is also able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him,
seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.

IV. Because of its Purity

7:26 For such a high priest was fitting for us: holy, guiltless, undefiled,
separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
7:27 who doesn't need, like those high priests, to daily offer up sacrifices,
first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people.
For this he did once for all, when he offered up himself.
 
7:28 For the law appoints men as high priests who have weakness,
but the word of the oath which came after the law appoints
a Son forever who has been perfected.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

From this chapter, name a number of ways in which the priesthood of Jesus was superior to the Levitical priesthood.
vs 11-14 What objection might Jews have about claiming that Jesus is our high priest?
Is there anything today that might be analogous to the Levitical priesthood?
vs 15-17 In what ways is Christ like Melchizedek?
vs 18 If the former regulation was weak and useless, then why did God establish it? (Gal 3:19-25)
vs 11,19 why was perfection not attainable through the law?
vs 19 What is the "better hope" being referred to?
vs 20-22 In view of Heb 6:16-18, what so significant about God confirming the priesthood of Christ with an oath?
vs 25 What does it mean that Christ always intercedes for us and what difference would it make if he didn't?
See also Rom 8:26,27.
How is this intercession also related to the security of the believer? (Rom 8:34, 1Cor 1:8)
vs 26 How do these characteristics in a High Priest meet our need? What need is he talking about?
vs 27 How might this be viewed in contrast to a catholic mass?
(Consider the phrase in the catholic mass: "Accept this offering made by our hands to the praise and glory of your name for you good and the good of all your church")

COMMENTS

Change of Priesthood, Change of Law

Heb 7:11-14  If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come— one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law.  He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

A difficult concept that Jews must accept to become Christians is that the Levitical priesthood - indeed the Law of Moses itself - is deficient, whereas in Christ one finds perfection. Yes Jews may object to the idea of Jesus Christ being a priest seeing as he is from the tribe of Judah and not of Levi, which is a requirement for priesthood under the Law of Moses. Fact is, Christ is a priest of a different order, a different law, a New Covenant. The New Covenant has different law associated with it than the Old Mosaic Covenant, of which the author will bring up later. The priesthood is different.

For example under New Covenant law sins of which could not be forgiven under the Law of Moses are forgiven, "I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses." Acts 13:38,39 Salvation is through faith in the priest (Jesus) himself, which was not the case under the Law of Moses. Later the author will bring up the fact that under the Law of Moses priests brought animal sacrifices, whereas under the New, Jesus, our High Priest, is himself the sacrifice. And also that under the Old many sacrifices had to be made, but under the New we are justified by the one sacrifice.


A Priesthood Independent of Ancestry

Heb 7:15-17  And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears,  one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.  For it is declared: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."

The Levitical  Priesthood based on ancestry was shown to be deficient. Such priesthood only lasted a man's lifetime. It was transferred upon death. But  the New Covenant, the Melchizedekian order, lasts forever. For Jesus conquered death and lives forever. His priesthood is based upon life.

Heb 7:18-19  The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless  (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

The law, as a set of rules and regulations was useless to change one's behavior. Likewise Paul notes, "Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence." Col 2:20-23 This same truth holds for the Law of Moses.

The Law also is useless in that it doesn't justify a person. It only condemns. "No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin." Rom 3:20  "For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law." Gal 3:21b The Law is useless to save people. But "what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering." Rom 8:3

The Law held out no hope and in fact brought us to a place of hopelessness. But under the New Covenant we have a better hope. Christ "abolished in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations." Eph 2:15 "in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit." Rom 8:4

I Guarantee it!

Heb 7:20-22 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath,  but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’"  Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

Under the Law of Moses the priesthood was given by commandment, by regulation. It didn't come with guarantees. In fact God killed two of Aaron's sons because they misbehaved as priests, as also He did on other occasions. But Christ is given a guarantee. This is one aspect of the New Covenant that comes with a guarantee, and there are other guarantees associated with the New Covenant.

Those under the New Covenant are guaranteed eternal life, and they are born-again, given the Spirit of God, "who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession— to the praise of his glory." Eph 1:14 "Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." 2Cor 1:21,22

Heb 7:23-25 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.  Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Under the Mosaic Law there were no guarantees that you would be saved. New Covenant includes eternal security. Those who come to God through Christ will be completely saved, saved to the uttermost, saved eternally. Jesus said, "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved." John 10:9a "And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Acts 2:21 "For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" Rom 5:10 So "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved" Acts 16:31


Once for all

Heb 7:26-28  Such a high priest meets our need— one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

What good is it for a fellow sinner to speak to God on your behalf? It's no wonder that the religiously elite - the priests and such, became proud because they developed the misconception that because they were intercessors they were superior to those for whom they were interceding. Our need is for a Savior, a Mediator acceptable to God, which means he has to be without sin.  "We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are— yet was without sin." Heb 4:15

While the Levitical priests offered many animal sacrifices periodically, the one sacrifice which Christ offered up of himself on the cross was sufficient to atone for sin. "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God." 1Pet 3:18  "Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people" Heb 9:25-28

Catholics especially have to understand this. The Catholic priesthood is modeled after the Levitical priesthood. Catholicism has a weekly ritual known as the "sacrifice of the Mass" in which in which the Catholic priests magically cause Christ to become a piece of bread and then they recrucify Christ. Here are some quotes from  Catholic website:

"The Sacrifice of the Mass is not merely an offering of praise and thanksgiving, or simply a memorial of the sacrifice on the Cross. It is a propitiatory sacrifice which is offered for the living and dead, for the remission of sins and punishment due to sin, as satisfaction for sin and for other necessities."

"whereas on Calvary, this sacrificial adoration was bloody, causing Christ's physical death by crucifixion, in the Mass the same Jesus is now sacrificing Himself in an unbloody manner because he is now glorified, immortal, and incapable of suffering or dying in His own physical person."

"in the Mass the same Jesus Christ who offered Himself on Calvary now offers Himself on the altar"

The congregation are also will participants in this ceremony saying, "Accept this offering made by our hands"

This is one of the many heresies inherent in Catholicism. Again in contrast the Bible says, "Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest (Jesus Christ) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God." Heb 10:11,12

Catholics must decide between putting their faith in the Catholic priesthood and the sacrifices of the Mass, or tputting heir faith in Jesus Christ and his one sacrifice.

For other issues with Catholicism see "An Ex-Catholic's Perspective on Catholicism"


The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources


Jul 29,2015