Hebrews 7




The exposition of Christ’s heavenly priesthood is now at length taken up and

carried out. It extends to ch.10:19, forming the central part of the whole Epistle;

and in the course of it is set forth also how the whole Jewish economy did

in fact only prefigure and prepare for this one availing priesthood of

THE TRUE HIGH PRIEST OF MANKIND!   The peculiar thesis of

this chapter is “after the order of Melchizedek,” the question being —

What is signified by this designation of the Messiah in the hundred and

tenth psalm? The remarkable import of that psalm, in that it assigns

priesthood as well as royalty to the Son, was noted under ch.5:6.

His being Priest at all implies a different order of royalty from that of the

theocratic kings. But what further is meant by His priesthood being after

the order, not of Aaron, but of Melchizedek? Is it that Melchizedek, being

King of Salem as well as priest of the most high God, is therefore selected

as the most suitable type of the great Priest-King to come? Yes; but there

is more in it than this, as the writer goes on to show. To get at the full

import of the expression in the psalm, he analyzes what we are told about

Melchizedek in Genesis 14. (the only other passage from which anything is

known of him), and considers what could be meant in the psalm by “a

priest after his order,” and that “for ever.” Both the actual history and the

ideal of the psalm are in his view together; and from the two combined he

deduces the intended idea of “a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.”

Bearing this in mind, we shall have no need to understand anything implied

as to Melchizedek himself beyond what we learn from Genesis. Some

commentators, on the strength of what is here said of him, have supposed

him to have been some superhuman being; and many theories have been

propounded as to who and what he was. All such views have arisen from a

misconception of our writer’s drift; from regarding the representation of

the ideal which Melchizedek typified as part of the account of what he

actually was, the actual and the ideal being, in fact, somewhat blended in

the exposition. That no more is implied about the man himself than what is

recorded in Genesis may be concluded, not only from the purport (rightly

understood) of the passage before us, but also from the analogy of the rest

of the Epistle, throughout which the arguments are based on the contents

of the Old Testament itself, as it was read and received by the Hebrew

Christians. For example, neither David, nor Solomon, nor Isaiah are

adduced as having been other than what the sacred record represents them

to have been, though it is shown that what is said of them in the spirit of

prophecy points to AN IDEAL beyond them.



1 “For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who

met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;

2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by

interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of

Salem, which is, King of peace;  3 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.”


For this Melchizedek, King of Salem, priest of the most

high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the

kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham divided a tenth part

of all (this description belongs to the subject of the sentence, being merely

a recapitulation of the facts recorded in Genesis, the language of the Septuagint

being used; what follows belongs properly to the predicate, being of the

nature of a comment on the facts recorded); first, being by interpretation

King of righteousness (which is the meaning of the name Melchizedek),

and then also King of Salem, which is, King of peace (the very names

of himself and his kingdom are significant (compare Psalm 85:10; 72:3;

Isaiah 32:17; Romans 5:1); where righteousness and peace are the

characteristics of the Messiah’s kingdom; this significance, however, is not

afterwards made a point of, being merely noticed by the way); without

father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning

of days nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a

priest continually. It is this language especially that has been supposed to

involve something more than human about the historical Melchizedek. But

we have only to enter into the mind of the writer to see that it is not so.

For it is the ideal of the psalm, conceived as suggested by the historical

type, that gives its color to the language used. And, indeed, how strangely

suggestive is that fragment about the priestly king (Genesis 14:18-21)

so unexpectedly interposed in the life of Abraham! In the midst of a history

in which such a point is made of the parentage and descent of the

patriarchs of Israel, at a time of peculiar glory of the first and greatest of

them, one suddenly appears on the scene, a priest and king, not of the

peculiar race at all, his parentage and ancestry unrecorded and unknown,

who blesses and receives tithes from Abraham, and then as suddenly

disappears from view. We hear no more of him; as about his origin, so

about his end, Scripture is silent. And so he “abides” before the mind’s eye,

apart from any before or after, the type of an unchanging priesthood. For

the meaning of the word ἀγενεαλόγητος agenealogaetos - (in itself denoting

the absence, not of ancestors, but of a traced genealogy), compare v.6 - δὲ

μὴ γενεαλογούμενος ἐξ αὐτῶν – ho de mae genealogoumenos ex autonbut he

whose descent is not counted from them. That of ἀπάτωρ, ἀμήτωρ apator,

amaetorfatherless; motherless - is illustrated by the Latin expression,

Nullis majoribus ortus.” On “made like (ὁμοιωμένος homoiomenos

made like) unto the Son of God,” Chrysostom says, “We know of no

beginning or end in either case:


o       in the one, because none are recorded;

o       in the other, because they do not exist.”


The idea seems to be that Melchizedek is thus assimilated to Christ in the sacred

record, by what it leaves untold no less than by what it tells. It is not said that

he is like Him (ὁμοιος homoiosin like manner ), but made like (ὁμοιωμένος

homoiomenos – made like); i.e. represented in such wise as to resemble Him.

It may be here remarked that, though the term “Son of God” is used in the

Epistle generally to denote the Messiah as manifested in time, His essential

eternal being is here, as elsewhere, distinctly intimated; also that “the Son of God”

is regarded as the archetype of the comparison.


4 “Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch

Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.”  The typical significance of Melchizedek

is now further seen in what passed between him and Abraham, in respect to tithe

and blessing.  The  inference, that πηλίκος οὗτος paelikos houtosthis

eminent one - referring as it does, not to the antitype, but to the man

himself, implies some mysterious greatness beyond what appears in the

original record, does not follow. Of one who simply blessed and received

tithes from the great patriarch, the expression is not too strong. Observe

the emphatic position, at the end of the Greek sentence, of πατριάρχης

ho patriachaes  equivalent to “he, the patriarch.” Abraham’s being this, the

father and representative of the chosen race, is what is shown in what follows

to give peculiar significance to the transaction. The word ἀκροθινίων

akrothinionspoils; booty (properly, “the chief spoils”), which is not in the

Septuagint, seems introduced to enhance the picture:


5 “And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office

of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people

according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come

out of the loins of Abraham:  6 But he whose descent is not counted

from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the

promises.  7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.”

As much as to say, “Let it not be said that the tithing of Abraham by Melchizedek

implies no higher priestly prerogative than the tithing of Abraham’s descendants

by the sons of Aaron; for there is this difference: They, in virtue only of a

special ordinance of the Law, not of original right, were allowed to tithe

their brethren, though descended from the same great ancestor; he,

though not of them or of the race at all, in virtue of his own inherent

dignity, tithes the whole race as represented in its patriarch.” (We observe

how, in place of the aorist ἔδωκε edoke - gave, used when the mere historical

incident was referred to (Genesis 14:20), we have here the perfect δεδεκάτωκεν

dedekatoken  -  has tithed - (as also εὐλόγηκεν eulogaekenhas blessed -

in what follows, and δεδεκάτωται dedekatotaihas been tithed -, in v. 9),

denoting a completed act, of which the effects and significance remain;

Melchizedek, who represents the priesthood after his order, being viewed in

permanent relation to Abraham, who represents the chosen race.) And hath

blessed him that hath (i.e. the holder of) the promises. But, without all

controversy, the less is blessed of the better. The superiority evidenced by

bestowal of blessing no less than by receiving of tithe having been thus

noticed, the contrast with the Levitical priesthood is continued in the

following verses.


8 “And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of

whom it is witnessed that he liveth.”  And here (in the case of the Levitical

priesthood) men that die (literally, dying men) receive tithes; but there (in the

case of Melchizedek) one of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. The difference

here noted is between a succession of mortal priests and one perpetually

living, who never loses his personal claim, which is inherent, in himself. But

how so of Melchizedek? For it is to him, and not to Christ the Antitype,

that the words evidently apply. Is it at length implied that he was more than

mortal man? No, if only for this reason; that the witness appealed to

(μαρτυρούμενος marturoumenosone being witnessed ) must be that of

Scripture, which nowhere bears such witness of the historical Melchizedek.

The words, μαρτυρούμενος ὅτι ζῇ  - marturoumenos hoti zae – witnessed

that he is living - are, in fact, only a resumption of what was said in v. 3:

“having neither beginning of days nor end of life;” and bear the same

meaning; viz. (as above explained) that he passes before our view in Genesis

with no mention of either death, birth, or ancestry, and thus presented the

ideal of “a priest for ever” to the inspired psalmist (Psalm 110:4). The witness

referred to is that of the record in Genesis, viewed in the light of the idea of

the psalm.


9 “And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in

Abraham.  10 “For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec

met him.”  Or, in other words, “Nay, further, Melchizedek may be said to have

tithed Levi himself and his priestly tribe.”  For, inasmuch as the whole position

of Levi and his tribe, in the old dispensation, came by inheritance from the great

patriarch who received the promises, the subordination of the patriarch to one

above himself involved that of all who so inherited, it is not simply the physical

descent of Levi from Abraham, but the peculiar position of the latter as “the

patriarch,” that justifies the assertion that Levi paid tithes through him.

And thus, while we remember how Abraham is elsewhere viewed in

Scripture as the representative of the chosen people, and also how the lives

of individual patriarchs (notably so in the case of Jacob and Esau) are so

told and referred to as to prefigure the positions and fortunes of the races

they represent, we may recognize in this assertion no mere rabbinical fancy,

but an interpretation true to the spirit of the Old Testament. Be it further

observed that the original significance of Abraham’s action as bearing upon

his descendants is enhanced by the fact that, while it was after the receiving

of the promise, it was before the birth of Isaac. He, and consequently his

descendant Levi, was yet (ἔτι etiyet; still) in the loins of Abraham!



Melchizedek (vs. 1-10)


The author here returns from his long digression, and enters upon the

central theme of the treatise.




Ø      As a man.


o       From Scripture statements. (vs. 1-2.) All that the sacred

historian records of him is contained in three verses (Genesis

14:18-20). Yet we read in these, as in the passage before us,

of Melchizedek’s illustrious personality, his twofold office,

his double designation, his sudden appearance, his priestly

blessing, and of Abraham’s acknowledgment of his dignity.


o       From Scripture silence. (v. 3.) It is evident that the writer

believed the Old Testament to be inspired, not merely in its

general drift, but also in its minutest details. He is persuaded

that even the omissions from the narrative had been arranged

by the Holy Spirit. From this passage, therefore, we learn our

duty, not only to survey the Bible in its broad landscapes of

truth, and to study its general structure as the literary record

of a supernatural revelation, but, alongside of that, to subject

individual passages, as we have opportunity, to microscopic

analysis. The omissions about Melchizedek are so important

that v. 3 reads almost like a riddle.  Such omissions respecting

a personage so exalted are contrary to Oriental custom. The points

which the Holy Spirit has studiously concealed about

Melchizedek are — his personal parentage, his priestly pedigree,

and the dates of his birth and death.


Ø      As a type. (v. 3.) The brief notice of Melchizedek in the Book of

Genesis has been framed so as to exhibit in him as striking as possible

a prefiguration of Christ. Melchizedek was “made like unto the Son

 of God,” at once in the events of his personal career, and in the shape

given to the Bible narrative respecting him. The Lord Jesus Christ is

both “King of righteousness” and “King of peace;” He dispenses

spiritual peace upon a basis of righteousness. He is a royal Priest,

wearing both the miter and the diadem. He had no predecessor in

His office, and He shall have no successor. His priesthood is of

older date, and of superior dignity to that of Levi. In all these respects

Melchizedek was a type of Christ.



THE LEVITICAL PRIESTHOOD. (vs. 4-10.) “Consider” this, says the

apostle. Although the theme is recondite, and hard of interpretation” (ch. 5:11),

it deserves careful study, since it concerns the dignity and glory of the Son of

God (Psalm 110:4).


Ø      Melchizedek is superior to Abraham, the ancestor of the Levites.

(vs. 4-7.) No Old Testament name is more illustrious than that of

Abraham, the patriarch; no heraldic escutcheon could boast marks

of greater honor than that which bears the arms of “the father of

the faithful” — “the friend of God.” (James 2:23)  Yet we see this

venerated founder of the Hebrew nation humbly acknowledging

the superiority of Melchizedek.


o       Abraham paid tithes to him (vs. 4-6). Under the Levitical law

tithes were due from the people to the priests, priests and people

being brethren by race; but here we have a Gentile pontiff receiving

tithes from Abraham, the patriarch offering them spontaneously.


o       Melchizedek pronounced a blessing upon Abraham (vs. 6-7). This

also implied Abraham’s spiritual inferiority. The head of the

chosen nation, to whom God had given “the promises,” stood

humbly before this Hamite priest to receive his blessing.


Ø      The Levitical priests were dying men; Melchizedek appears only as a

living priest. (v. 8.) Aaron’s sons obtained the sacerdotal dignity by

descent; they died and succeeded one another. But Melchizedek’s

priesthood was inherent and underived. He is exhibited on the inspired

page only as a living priest, in order that his office may the more suitably

prefigure the intransferable priesthood of Christ.


Ø      The Levitical priests virtually paid tithes to Melchizedek. (vs. 9-10.)

All the sacred honor with which Aaron and his sons were invested was

derived from Abraham, as the head of the nation; and so, when

Abraham confessed the religious superiority of Melchizedek, the long

line of Aaronical priests may in a sense be said to have done so also.




Ø      The unparalleled majesty and glory of the Lord Jesus. Abraham was

greater than Aaron; Melchizedek was greater than Abraham; but Christ

is infinitely greater than Melchizedek.


Ø      Christ’s priestly benediction is more efficacious than that of

Melchizedek. He has been sent “to bless us, in turning away every

one of us from our iniquities” (Acts 3:26).


Ø      If Abraham gave Melchizedek a tithe of the spoils, should not we

dedicate to the Lord Jesus Christ, not our tithes only, BUT OUR ALL?


11 “If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under

it the people received the law,) what further need was there that

another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be

called after the order of Aaron?  12 For the priesthood being changed,

there is made of necessity a change also of the law.”


If then perfection τελείωσις teleiosisperfection - were through the

Levitical priesthood for under it (rather, upon it, on the ground of it) the

people hath received the Law), what need was there that another (rather,

a different) priest should rise after the order of Melchizedek, and not be

called after the order of Aaron. For the priesthood being changed, there

is made of necessity a change also of the Law. Here a further thought is

introduced.  So far the superiority of the priesthood after the order of

Melchizedek to the Aaronic has been shown. The new thought is that the

very mention in the psalm of a different order of priesthood implies that the

old order, and with it the whole legal dispensation which depended on it,

was imperfect AND TO BE SUPERSEDED!   This is the general drift of

vs. 11-12, though the sequence of thought in their several clauses is not easy

to follow. Ideas in the writer’s mind, not expressed, seem necessary to be

understood. In the parenthetical clause of v. 11, ἐπαὐτῆς ep autaes -, and

νενομοθέτηται neomothetaetaion her had been placed under the law - are

decidedly to be preferred, on the ground of authority, to ἐπαὐτῆ and

νενομοθέτητα of the Textus Receptus. ‘The meaning of the clause

(whatever be the precise thought connecting it with the sentence in which it

stands) is that the whole Law rested on the institution of the priesthood;

not the priests only, but the whole people (λαὸς – ho laosthe people),

received their Law as grounded on it. On the same idea depends v. 12,

where it is said that a change of the priesthood involves of necessity a

change of the Law. 


The verses next following serve to remove all doubt  that there is a complete

change of the priesthood; the proofs being, not  only the patent fact that

the Messiah is of the tribe, not of Levi, but of Judah (vs. 13-14), but also,

for more abundant evidence of the Divine purpose, that significant utterance,

again adduced, about His being after the order, not of Aaron, but of

Melchizedek (vs. 15-17).


13 “For He of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe,

of which no man gave attendance at the altar.  14  For it is evident that

our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing

concerning priesthood.”


For He of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to (μετέσχηκεν

meteschaeken -: literally, He hath partaken of;  compare μετέσχεν meteschen

has partaken, ch. 2:14, with reference, as there, to Christ’s assumption of humanity)

another tribe, of which no man hath (ever) given attendance at the altar. For it

is evident that our Lord hath sprung out of Judah; as to which tribe

Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood (ἱερέων hiereonpriests -

being a better-supported reading than the Textus Receptus ἱερωσύνης

hierosunaes - priesthood). This is spoken of as evident (i.e. plain to all,

πρόδηλον prodaelonit it evident), not only because of the well-known

prophecies that the Messiah was to spring from David, but still

more (as is shown by the perfect ἀνατέταλκεν anatetalkensprang; has risen –

pointing to an accomplished fact, and by the expression, κύριος ἡμῶν – ho

Kurios haemonour Lord,) because Jesus, recognized by all Christians as the

Messiah, was known to have so sprung.  For it is to Christian believers, with

whatever Jewish prejudices, not to unbelieving Jews, that the Epistle is addressed.

It is important to observe that the Davidic descent of our Lord is spoken of as an

acknowledged fact, not merely as an inference from prophecy. We have here a

most significant proof that the descent of Jesus from the tribe of Judah was a

well and universally known fact before the destruction of Jerusalem.

The verb ἀνατέταλκεν (sprang) may have been specially suggested by

the prophetic figure of the Branch from the root of Jesse (see Isaiah 11:1;

and Zechariah 3:8; 6:12, where the Septuagint has Ἀνατολν

 – Anatolaen – for ‘Branch:’ Ἀνατολὴ ὄνομα αὐτῷ καὶ ὑποκτωθεν αὐτοῦ ἀνατελεῖ -

Anatolae onoma auto kai hupokatothen autou anatelei – the man whose

name is The Branch and He shall grow up our of His place - though the

figure of the sunrise is more frequently meant by the word when

applied to Christ’s appearance (compare Numbers 24:17; Isaiah 9:1;

Malachi 4:2; Luke 1:78).

15  And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of

Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,  16  Who is made, not after

the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.

17  For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of


And it is yet more abundantly evident (i.e. the proposition of v. 12), if after

the likeness of Melchizedek there ariseth another Priest, who is made,

not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an

endless (indissoluble) life. For it is testified (of Him), Thou art a Priest

forever after the order of Melchizedek. This is a resumption of what has

been already seen, put so as to be effective for the present stage of the

argument. The old priesthood, and consequently the Law, is changed and

superseded, not only because the Priest of the new order of things is of the

tribe of Judah, but still more evidently because His priesthood is witnessed

to as being one of a different kind, and of a kind so much higher and diviner.

It is evident that the Antitype of Melchizedek, the subject of Psalm 110,

rather than Melchizedek himself, suggests here the language used.

(Observe the contrasts between νόμον – nomon – law and δύναμιν  - dunamin -

power, σαρκίνης – sarkinaes – fleshly; carnal and ἀκαταλύτου – akatalutou –

endless; indissoluble  , ἐντολῆς – entolaes – commandment  and ζωῆς – zoaes –

life. The idea of ch.9:8-15 is in these few pregnant words briefly anticipated,

after the manner of the Epistle.)

The Constitution of Our Great High Priest (v. 16)

Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power

of an endless life!”  In this verse there is a triple antithesis; law is antithetical to

power, commandment to life, and carnal to indissoluble. This suggests the

following observations concerning the priesthood of Jesus Christ.

He became Priest:

OF HIS SPIRITUAL “POWER.” Law in the text is the Levitical Law,

with the fulfillment of which the Jewish priests had so much to do. It was a

thing of the letter — a written thing; it possessed no inherent power; it

could impart no spiritual power. By this law the priests of the Judaic

economy were constituted. But our Lord was constituted a priest, not by

this law, but because of His own spiritual energy. He was in Himself

perfectly fitted for the high functions of this holy office. Because He was a

Divine Being, He had power to represent God to man; because He was a

human being, he had power to represent man to God. Inexhaustible

spiritual strength is in Him for the renewal of the lost moral power of those

whose High Priest He is. Because He has power to redeem, sympathize

with, succor, and save men, He was made the great High Priest for men.

INHERENT LIFE? The “commandment” is that part of the Levitical law

which ordered the institution and succession of the priesthood. By this

statute the descendants of Aaron were appointed priests, irrespective of

their personal character and qualifications for the office. But Jesus was

made a priest, not by that commandment, but contrary to it, seeing that He

was not of the tribe of Levi, but of Judah. It was because of His inner life

that He was constituted the High Priest of humanity. Being what He was

and is, He could do no other than take up our cause, suffer for us, die for

us, and appear as our Representative with the Father. Vicarious sacrifice

belongs to no office or undertaking outside of holy character, but to holy

character itself. Such is love that it must insert itself into the conditions,

burden itself with the wants, and woes, and losses, and even wrongs, of

others. It waits for no atoning office, or any other kind of office. It undertakes

because it is love, not because a project is raised or an office appointed. It goes

into suffering and labor and painful sympathy, because its own everlasting

instinct runs that way The true and simple account of Christ’s suffering is, that

He had such a heart as would not suffer Him to be turned away from us, and

that He suffered for us even as love must willingly suffer for its enemy. The

beauty and power of His sacrifice is, that He suffers morally and because of

His simple excellence, and not to fill a contrived place in a scheme of legal

justification. He scarcely minds how much He suffers or how, if only He can

do love’s work.” Because of His perfect purity, and infinite love and

unspeakable compassion, he necessarily became the great High Priest of

the human race.

RELATION. They who were made priests “after the law of a carnal

commandmentwere priests only for a time. One generation performed the

duties of the office for a number of years, and then was succeeded in those

duties by another generation, which in its turn would also pass away. “But

after the power of an indissoluble life” our Savior was made a priest. He is

a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” By its nature His life is

perpetual; and He continues forever as our Representative with God

(compare vs. 23-25). Because of the perfection of this priesthood, human

salvation in glorious fullness is attainable. Laws and ceremonies alone could

not work out for us any real deliverance from sin, or work in us any true and

progressive spiritual life. We need vitality and power in any system or

person who would render to us effective help. And in this aspect the

priesthood of Christ,” is graduated by the wants and measures of the human

soul; the endless life in which He comes matches and measures the endless

life in mankind whose fall he is to restore; providing a salvation as strong

as their sin, and as long or lasting as the run of their immortality. He is able

thus to save UNTO THE UTTERMOST them that come unto Him!   His life

is reproductive. His power is communicable. He imparts spiritual energy to

those who by faith are one with Him. APART FROM HIM WE CAN DO


HIM THAT STRENGTHENETH US!  (Philippians 4:13)



The Power of an Endless Life (v. 16)



We have here illustrated:


FLESH. Here the particular institution is that of priesthood; but the truth

obtains with regard to all institutions dependent on the limits of fleshly

human nature and the faculties of fallen human nature. The law of the

Jewish priesthood was a law that had to take particular notice of the

limitations of human life. The office was held by a man whose term of

office at the longest was but brief, and his death had to be prepared for,

and his successor duly initiated. That successor was a son, and who should

say what sort of man he would turn out? There are certain things law can

do and certain other things it cannot do. A law could be made setting apart

a tribe for holy service, and a family for priestly service; but there the

power stopped. No law can secure character. No law can secure willing,

hearty, devoted service. Indeed, there might even be a show of fairness in

men belonging to the tribe of Levi saying, “Why should we be tied down,

willing or unwilling, to this work of the altar?” Note how power is

contrasted in this verse with law, as much as to intimate the necessary

feebleness of law. Its very strength in one direction helps to constitute its

feebleness in another. It has nothing to fall back upon but the caprices and

fluctuations of natural character. It brings to men knowledge, indeed; but,

bringing that, brings only too often little but exasperation, irritation,

depression. How many things there are in which the law of the fleshly

commandment fails! The good king is succeeded by the bad one. The

father uses his possession wisely; the son comes in to squander, neglect,

and alienate. The father makes a fortune through frugality and industry;

the son scatters it all to the winds.


Aaronic priest stands as the great representative of service limited by the

necessary boundaries of human nature. Jesus stands forward as One whose

service is unlimited save by the negligence or the unbelief of those whom

He seeks to save. My fellowman can only serve me as long as he is in the

world, and even while in the world he may be cramped in many ways so

that his service becomes an almost ineffectual thing. But Jesus has an

endless, that is an indissoluble life. Duration is not the only thing to be

thought of. There might be an immense duration of comparative

USELESSNESS!   To say that the life is indissoluble means that its fullness

continues unimpaired in the slightest degree. It is not a matter of ebbings

and flowings; summer fullness of sap, and winter subsidence. Wherever we

find death in the service of the brother man, we find life in the service of

the Man Christ Jesus. It is so in:


Ø      His priesthood;

Ø      His kingship;

Ø      His teaching; and in

Ø      His ministry.

18 “For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before

for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.  19  For the law made nothing

perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh

unto God.”

For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the

weakness and unprofitableness thereof (for the Law made nothing perfect);

but [there is on the other hand] a bringing in thereupon of a better hope,

through which we draw nigh unto God.  Such is certainly the construction

of the sentence (not as in the Authorized Version); οὐδὲν γὰρ ouden gar –

for nothing - in v. 19 being parenthetical, and ἐπεισαγωγὴ - epeisagogae -  

the bringing in; superinduction - depending on γίνεται – ginetai – there is

becoming - in v. 18. We have here the conclusion of the argument of

vs. 11-18, with a further expression of the inherent insufficiency of the Law,

given as the reason of its supersession; reminding us of similar views of what

the Law was worth frequent in Paul’s Epistles (compare Romans 8:3;

Galatians 3:10, etc.). The final clause, δὲ …. δι. ἧς ἐγγίζομεν τῷ θεῷ - de…

di haes eggizomen to Theo – yet…..by the which we draw nigh to God, leads

directly up to the main subject in the writer’s view, viz. the exposition of

Christ’s eternal priesthood. But two proofs are first to be given of Christ’s

priesthood being, unlike the Aaronic, thus eternally availing TO BRING US

NEAR TO GOD!   These proofs are to be found in the Divine oath which

established it, and the expression, “forever,” in Psalm 110, once more adduced.



The Inability and Capability of the Law. (v. 19)


“For the Law made nothing perfect,” etc. The Law spoken of is the

ceremonial Law, as we see from the preceding verse. The moral Law is not

disannulled in Christianity. (“Think not that I am come to destroy the law,

or the prophets:  I am not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For verily I say

unto you, one jot or one tittle shall in not wise pass from the law, till all

shall be fulfilled." (Matthew 5:17-18) Its authority is maintained, its sanctions

are corroborated by our Lord. But the ceremonial Law was abrogated by

Christ. It found its fulfillment, and so was done away in Christianity.



made nothing perfect.

Ø      It awakened the consciousness of guilt, but it had no power to remove

that consciousness. Its sacrifices proclaimed man a sinner and needing

atonement with God; but they would not ease the conscience of its sad

sense of sin, or inspire the peace of forgiveness in the troubled breast.

Ø      It showed the necessity of mediation between God and man, but it made 

no satisfactory provision for theft necessity. The people had to approach

the Most High through the priests; the priests alone must offer their

sacrifices; the priests alone had access to the holy place of the tabernacle

and the temple. The office of the priesthood exhibited the need of

mediation, but it was not an adequate answer to that need. The Judaic

priests were themselves sinners; they needed to offer sacrifices for

themselves; they were mortal and passed away by death, even as other


Ø      It presented a true ideal of life and conduct, but it afforded no help for

the attainment of that ideal. The Law condemns sin; it commands

righteousness. But how shall we obey its commands? “To will is present

with me, but to do that which is good is not. For the good which I would

I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I practice.” (Romans

7:17-18)  Can the law help us in this need? Can it inspire us with strength

to do the true and the good?  It has no power to convert, or strengthen,.

or sanctity the soul.  It shows us our obligation, but it affords us no help to

discharge it. “What the Law could not do, in that it was weak through

the flesh,” etc. (Romans 8:3-4).


but it was the bringing in of a better hope, by which we draw nigh unto

God.” We adopt the rendering of the margin of the Authorized Version,

and the interpretation of Calvin, Ebrard, et al., that the Law made nothing

perfect, but it prepared the way for the better hope. This hope is the

gospel hope; the hope which has been brought in by our great High Priest.

The Law led the way to this. “The Law was our schoolmaster to bring us

unto Christ.” (Galatians 3:24)  A large picture-book was put before

the scholars in the splendid objects of the Levitical institute. The series of

things included in this was like a series of prints arranged in order, bound

and gilded, and spread before the young, wondering eyes of a number of

children. The altar with its fire and blood; the laver with its purifying

contents; the sacrifice with the penitent putting upon it his sin, or lifting his

eyes and his hands to heaven; the priest in the garments expressive of

humiliation, or in his gorgeous robes of ‘glory and beauty; ‘-these things,

with many others that might be specified, were all like so many significant

objects, vividly portrayed on the several leaves of an immense picture book.

By familiarity with them the minds of the learners were gradually to

open to the spiritual idea contained in each; or were to be prepared for

apprehending it when, ‘in the fullness of time,’ (Ibid. ch. 4:4) it should be

revealed With new views of the central figure, so much the theme of prophetic

song, and the object of national desire, the whole of the Levitical system

undergoes a change. It comes to have an intention, to be looked at as

constructed for a purpose, which gives to it a deeper and diviner significance

than was at first suspected. Priest and sacrifice, altar and propitiation, cease

to be realities; they are understood to be only shadows and signs of what was

to be found substantially in the person and work, the acts and offices of the

great High Priest of our profession.” This hope, for which the Law

prepared the way, was better than any which the Law could inspire.


Ø      It is clearer as to its object. The Christian hopes for perfection of being;

for holiness of heart and life here, and for heaven hereafter. These

things are brought into clearer light in this gospel age than they were

under the Law.


Ø      It is firmer in its foundation. It rests upon Jesus Christ. He is the Rock

upon which our confidence and expectation are based. He has revealed

God the Father unto us. He has rendered perfect obedience to the holy

Law. He offered Himself a Sacrifice for sin, of infinite and perpetual

efficacy. He ever liveth to represent us in heaven, whither He has entered

as our Forerunner. He is “a tried Stone, a sure Foundation” for the hopes

of men to rest upon.  (Isaiah 28:16)


Ø      It is more blessed in its influence. “Through which we draw nigh unto

God.” The Judaic priesthood tended to make men feel their distance from

God, and to keep them at a distance. The priesthood of Jesus Christ brings

men near unto Him! We need not now the human priest and the bleeding

victim for our acceptable approach to the Divine Father. Through the

Savior we may draw nigh unto Him in our penitence for sin, and obtain

forgiveness; in our consecration to Him, and meet with gracious

acceptance; in the presentation of our needs to Him, and receive suitable

and abundant supplies; and in hallowed communion with Him, and find

in it the foretaste and earnest of heaven.



The Law Failing, the Gospel Succeeding (vs. 18-19)


It is very necessary here to turn from the ordinary version to the revised

one, for the ordinary version utterly hides the antithesis which is the very

essence of the meaning. On one side there is a disannulling of the Mosaic

commandment with respect to priesthood, but on the other side there is the

bringing in of a better hope. These two elements of the antithesis have,

therefore, to be separately considered.


fleshly commandment,” as it is called in v. 16. A reason is given for the

disannulling: The changes in the Divine economy are never arbitrary.

Reasons are not always given for these changes; but when we can

understand them they are given, and thus we are helped to believe in the

wisdom of changes which we have not knowledge enough to understand.

The reason has a twofold aspect. A general principle is stated, and there is

a particular illustration of it. The general principle is that the Law makes

nothing perfect, completes nothing; the particular illustration is found in

the weakness and uselessness of the commandment which called into

existence the Aaronic priesthood, No institution can plead a commandment

of God for its existence when it has manifestly lost its use. The

commandment was useless because it was weak; and then the uselessness

reacted on the weakness and made it weaker still. Men ceased to look to

the priesthood for any good and helpful thing, though the priesthood kept

its formal place, because there was nothing as yet to act as a substitute.

Then the question may be asked — Why give a commandment which was

weak and useless? The answer lies in that word “foregoing.” That which

goes before implies something coming after. The Law was weak and

useless for certain things, but not, therefore, weak and useless for all

things. The Law came like light shining on human spiritual darkness,

revealing dilapidation and corruption, and there it stopped; it showed the

thing needing to be done, and in the very showing indicated how some

agency would come in due time to do it.


change of term here as in v. 16. There we read of the former priest

according to the law of a fleshly commandment, and the new abiding Priest

according to the power of an indissoluble life. So here, that which is put

away is a commandment; that which is brought in is a hope. The old

commandment, weak and useless, left men in despair as far as their natural

faculties were concerned. The new Priest steps upon the scene, needing no

commandment. His functions are the appropriate outcome of the fullness of

His life. And, coming among men, He comes as the visible immediate

stimulator of hope. Manifestly He has relations with God, channels of

connection with the Infinite Purity, such as not all the sum of Aaronic

priests taken together had. As men drew near to some of the old priests,

steeped in selfishness, pride, arrogance, they veritably drew nearer to the

devil from whom it behooved them to flee; but drawing near to Jesus it was

not possible that they should do anything else than in the same movement

draw near to God.

20 “And inasmuch as not without an oath He was made priest:

21 (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath

by Him that said unto Him, The Lord swear and will not repent,

Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)

22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.”

And inasmuch as not without an oath [properly, swearing of an oath,

ὁρκωμοσίας – horkomosias – oath-swearing] (for they indeed have been

made priests without an oath; but He with an oath by Him that

saith unto Him, Thou art a Priest for ever); by so much of a better

covenant hath Jesus become surety. The significance of the Divine oath,

in connection with the promise to Abraham, has been dwelt on above: the

oath of Psalm 110 is here similarly referred to, as imitating a priesthood

that rests on no mere temporary ordinance, but on the immutable Divine

counsels. (Observe the first occurrence here of the word διαθήκης

diathaekaes covenant; testament, introducing in the way of hint (as is

usual in the Epistle) an idea to be afterwards expanded, as it is in chapters

8 and 9. The meaning of the word will be considered below.)



The Divine Priest (vs. 19-22)



priests of the Mosaic Law were placed in their office by an act of the

Divine will, and the order of their consecration was prescribed by the

lawgiver, who probably superintended the process which fitted them to

enter upon their duties. There was no oath proclaimed on the occasion.

When Christ was appointed there was an oath, which was conveyed to the

knowledge of the Church by David, the royal prophet. This oath declared

the fixed and unchangeable purpose of God, that whatever else might

change, the office of the high priesthood of Christ should never be

abrogated. “For ever His word is settled in heaven.” It is only on occasions

of special solemnity that oaths are takes by men when they assume weighty

and important offices. They are used at coronations of monarchs, and the

appointment of judges and others who undertake to administer faithfully

the charges which they assume. God condescends to engage by oath for

the permanence and glory of the priesthood of Christ that He shall be a

Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Here we see the loving care

of God to invite and justify our trust in His dear Son. It is a vast and large

confidence which He claims, and includes the rejection of all other

confidences; our surrender to Christ of our understanding, will, and

affections; our influence, time, and property; our present and the vast

future; and, as the demand is large, there is all evidence and provision to

make our trust in the High Priest a reasonable service. He is appointed by

oath, and is the Surety of a better covenant; and so there is a proportion

and harmony between the Surety and the covenant itself. In the scheme of

redemption God hath abounded in all wisdom and prudence. The new wine

is put into new bottles, and the consistency of all arrangements for our

redemption proves that all things are of God.


dared to approach Jehovah in the solemnities of worship without His

express appointment, he would have been punished for his presumption.

This is proved by the history of Uzziah (II Chronicles 26:16-21). It is said

of this king that his heart was lifted up, and, against the remonstrances of

the priests, he would offer incense, and so combine the dignity of the

priesthood and royalty in himself. “Pride went before destruction, and a

haughty spirit before a fall ” (Proverbs 16:18), and he was confined as a

leper until the day of his death. The vocation and appointment of Aaron were

disputed by the Reubenites who had lost the priesthood, and the Levites who

were ambitious of higher dignity; and the case was decided by the punishment

of the revolters, and the miraculous foliage, blossoms, and fruit of Aaron’s

rod. (Numbers 17)  Jesus Christ has the high and supreme authority of Jehovah

for His appointment, and the writer quotes the second psalm, which predicts

the regal glory of the Son, who was “of the seed of David according to the

flesh; but was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the

spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:3-4).

Then follows a quotation from another Messianic psalm, which declares

that He is a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. The order of

Aaron was too narrow and too imperfect to shadow forth the unrivalled

dignity and worth of Him who is now set over the house of God. This latter

type will reappear for further discussion, and therefore we rest upon this

declaration of the eternal will which appoints the Redeemer to be the High

Priest for the race of mankind. It is the will of God, which is declared in

solemn prophecy; and if He speaks, it is done; “he commands, and it stands

fast.”  (Psalm 33:9)


A PRIEST. The consecration of Aaron and the priests of the Mosaic Law

was very elaborate and impressive, but was unaccompanied with any

distress of mind and suffering of the flesh. The sonship of our Lord was

eternal, and as a Son He came from heaven to assume our nature and pass

through a career of sorrow and bitter experience, that He might learn and

prove His obedience to His Father. “He took upon him the form of a

servant, and became obedient unto death.” (Philippians 2:8)  As He

approached the close of His public ministry the agonies of His soul began

to multiply in number and increase in intensity. His prayer in Gethsemane

was probably present to the mind of the writer, where He was sorrowful

even unto death, and implored, if it were possible, “that the cup might

pass from Him.” He uttered His prayers with strong crying and tears. The

usual manner of our Lord’s teaching was quiet and gentle, for He did not

lift up His voice nor cause it to be heard in the streets (Isaiah 42:2); but in the

dire and inscrutable distress which came upon Him, like Jacob in his mysterious

wrestling, He wept and made supplication. He was heard on account of His

godly fear or piety. It may be — for we would be cautious and reverential —

that He was saved from death in Gethsemane, where He sweat “as it were

great drops of blood falling to the ground”  (Luke 22:44); by the ministry

of a mighty angel like Gabriel or Michael; or that He was delivered from the

insupportable fear of the death of shame and agony which lay before Him

on Calvary. He was heard for His piety, and came off more than a conqueror.

Whatever mystery surrounds this solemn fact, the lesson is obvious that

disciples must learn obedience in imitation of their Master; that, having

overcome, they may sit down with Him in His throne “even as I overcome

and am set down with my Father in His throne.”  (Revelation 3:21)

“Through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom.” (Acts 14:22)

Having borne the sorrow, He has obtained the joy that was set before Him,

and being now consecrated by His sufferings and death, He is perfectly

fitted for His mediatorial office, and becomes the Author of eternal

salvation to all His obedient followers, and leads them onward to the glory

of an immortal life. This is the highest and most glorious illustration of the

methods of that grace which was seen in the life of Joseph, into whose soul

the iron entered, whom the word of the Lord tried; but afterwards he shone

in the light of wisdom, became the savior of millions from the pangs of

famine and death, kept alive the chosen seed, and prepared for the higher

revelations of Horeb and Calvary. To obviate any doubts which might arise

from so profound a humiliation on the part of Jesus Christ, it is repeated

that he was “called of God a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek.”

23 “And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered

to continue by reason of death:  24  But this man, because He continueth

ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.  Thissecond point of contrast has

already been twice touched on — v. 8, with respect to the claim to tithe; and

v. 16, with respect to the order of priesthood: here it is with especial reference

to the eternal personality, and hence the perpetual and complete efficiency, of

our one Priest. The repetitions are not tautological, having each time different

bearings. The contrast here, as before, is between mortal men who succeed each

other in the office of priesthood, and One who has the office inherent in Himself

forever. The word ἀπαράβατον – aparabaton - translated “unchangeable”) is taken by

some in an intransitive sense, as in margin of the Authorized Version, that doth

not pass to another. This, however, is not the proper force of this late Greek word,

nor does the sense of the passage of necessity require it.

25 “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost

that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession

for them.”   We again observe how, at the end of successive stages of the

argument, thoughts to be enlarged on afterwards are brought in. Here it is

the perpetual intercession of Christ before the heavenly mercy-seat. In the

view of His office thus arrived at there is, in fact, a transition to the main

subject set forth in the three chapters that follow; viz. the fulfillment in

Christ of the ceremonial of the Law, and especially of the high priest’s

intercession on the Day of Atonement. And thus from Melchizedek the

train of thought passes to the high priest. The type of the former has been

sufficiently shown to be fulfilled in the higher order of Christ’s priesthood;

it is now to be shown how, being of such higher order, it is the antitype of

the Aaronic priesthood too, accomplishing what it signified. Hence in v. 26

the word “high priest” (ἀρχιερεὺς – archiereus) is for the first time introduced,

as the keynote of what is coming.

Summary of the Foregoing Argument

110. signify?

Ø      (vs. 1 - 4.) One not depending on human ancestry, and One forever



Ø      (vs. 4 -11.) One of a higher order than that of Aaron; for:


o       Melchizedek, being of a race apart, received tithe from

Abraham the patriarch.

o       This denotes a higher position than that of the Aaronic

priests, who tithed their brethren of the same race with

themselves, in virtue only of a special ordinance.

o       The blessing of Abraham by Melchizedek is similarly


o       The idea of an ever-living priest with a right to tithe

transcends that of the temporary claims of a succession

of dying men.

o       Levi himself virtually paid tithe to Melchizedek.



dispensation based upon it, is thus shown to have been imperfect and

transitory; for:


Ø      Otherwise a priesthood of another order would not have been spoken of


in Psalm 110.

Ø      Which priesthood is evidently distinct from the Aaronic, our Lord

being of the tribe, not of Levi, but of Judah.

Ø      What has been seen (vs. 5 and 8) as to the Melchizedek priesthood

being not “after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the

an endless life,” makes this “more abundantly evident.”

Conclusion (vs. 18-20). The Aaronic priesthood (being in itself

unprofitable) is therefore now superseded by an availing one, “through

which we draw nigh unto God.”




Ø      The Divine oath (Psalm 110) established it, marking it as resting on the


eternal Divine counsels.

Ø      It is (as shown by the same psalm) “unchangeable.” The one Priest

abides forever.

Conclusion (v. 25). We have, therefore, in Him at last, a perfectly availing

and eternal interceding High Priest.

Salvation to the Uttermost (v. 25)

The chief point in this verse is our High Priest’s ability to save, and the

guarantee which His perpetual intercession affords regarding that ability.

What does this continual intercession certify? Four things:

Ø      what He is,

Ø      what He became, and

Ø      what He has done.

His intercession is just a continual development of the exhaustless efficacy of

His life-work. Our Priest is the eternal Son of God clothed in human nature.

His work on earth was both active and passive: He obeyed and Hhe suffered.

He perfectly fulfilled the Law, and He fully endured the penalty due to our

disobedience. Upon the union of this doing and dying the great structure of

our Intercessor’s ability of merit is sustained. The infinitude of His Divine

nature invests His offering with boundless value. By His “obedience unto

death (Philippians 2:8) he sheathed the sword of justice in the heart of mercy.

And, when He had done this, He went boldly up to heaven, sprinkled the

golden altar there with His blood, and took His place in the midst of the throne.

The fact of His intercession as our risen and glorified Savior shows that the

satisfaction which He has made for sin is PERFECT!

appointment from God. So, our Lord’s session at the right hand of the

Father is in itself an evidence of the validity of His intercession. We know,

however, that God appointed Him to His office with a solemn oath

(Psalm 110:4). He said to Him, on the day when He constituted Him

Priest-King, “Ask of me” (Psalm 2:8), thus expressly authorizing His

intercession. We cannot fathom the mystery of the atonement; but it is

enough to know that Christ’s sacred blood was shed for our salvation BY

DIVINE APPOINTMENT and we are persuaded that, had it not possessed

merit enough for its purpose, it would never have been shed at all. Jesus sits

upon His priestly throne, and does His priestly work, by Divine right.

merit and right, but also power. He is “a Priest uponHis throne.” And it

was more than a mere external statute that set Him there. Christ is our

Intercessor in virtue of “the power of an endless life.” These words are

emphatic, “He ever liveth.” He conducts our cause in heaven, as our

Advocate, in the strength of the imperishable life which He has possessed

from eternity. Enthroned in glory, He has yet power upon earth, for He has

sent down to us His Holy Spirit. This gift is the direct fruit of His sacrifice

and intercession. While the Savior intercedes without us, His Spirit

intercedes within us. The work of the “other Paracleteis complementary

of that of the first. The Holy Ghost within our minds and hearts bestows all

the communications of grace, and conducts all the preparations for glory;

but He does so as the agent of the Lord Jesus, and His work is dependent

upon our High Priest’s constant pleadings at the bar of God.

can sympathize with us; for our nature was formed in the likeness of our

Maker, so that man belongs to the same order of being as God Himself. But

our necessities demanded more than the sympathy of God. How sweet,

then, to remember that our High Priest is also a man! He is a woman’s

Son, and therefore in a true sense one of ourselves. His earthly life was full

of experiences substantially the same as ours; so that He knows our

difficulties and sorrows and temptations. He is careful to adapt His

perpetual intercessions to the currents of individual experience. Believers

can approach Him with confidence in the spirit of the exquisite lines —

“Thou our throbbing flesh hast worn,

Thou our mortal griefs hast borne,

Thou hast shed the human tear:

Gracious Son of Mary, hear!”


Amidst His unparalleled exaltation, the Man Christ Jesus does not forget

the humblest of His people. Our High Priest has every name that is dear to

Him engraven upon His breastplate — written upon the imperishable tablet

of His loving heart.




Christ’s Perfect Power to Save (v. 25)


“Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by

Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them. ” The text suggests the

following observations:



them to the uttermost.” Notice:


Ø      The nature of this salvation. It may be viewed:


o       Negatively. It is deliverance from sin; not merely from the

punishment of sin, but from its guilt, its pollution, and its



o       Positively. It is the conference of eternal life. By eternal life

we do not mean endless existence, for that may become a

curse; but life — holy, harmonious, progressive, blessed,

perpetual life. “He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life.”

(John 3:36); “The salvation which is in Christ Jesus with

eternal glory.”  (II Timothy 2:10)


Ø      The perfection of this salvation. “Able to save to the uttermost.” The

word rendered “uttermost’ does not refer to the duration, but to the

perfection, the completeness, of this salvation. Both by its etymology

and by its place in the argument it is the exact antithesis of the first

clause in v. 19. “The Law made nothing perfect;” but “He is able to

save perfectly,” or to completeness, “them that come unto God by Him.”

The perfection of His saving power authorizes the assertion that He is

able to save!


o       The most wicked characters. Saul of Tarsus was “a blasphemer,

and a persecutor, and injurious;” he spake of himself as chief of

sinners; yet he obtained mercy, and became a most devoted

disciple and most heroic apostle of Jesus Christ. The dying

thief is another example (Luke 23:42-43). Degraded drunkards,

profane swearers, groveling misers, willful unbelievers, cruel

oppressors, in countless numbers have been saved by Him.

None are so deeply sunk in the horrible pit of sin as to be beyond

the reach of the long and strong arm of the perfect Savior. He is

“mighty to save.”


o       The greatest numbers. On the day of Pentecost three thousand

souls were converted and added to the Christian Church. John in

vision “beheld a great multitude, which no man could number,”

(Revelation 7:9-10). He is able to save countless millions. Were

the number of sinners multiplied a thousand fold He would still

be able to save them.


o       To the most glorious condition. He does not leave His work in

man incomplete. “He is able to keep that which I have

committed unto Him against that day.” (II Timothy 1:12)

 “He which began a good work in you will perfect it until

the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)  How glorious

must that character be which He has perfected!  (“Thou

Lord will perfect that which concerneth me.”  (Psalm

138:8)  “We shall be like Him.” (I John 3:2) We shall

ever be with the Lord.”  (I Thessalonians 4:17)  We shall enter

into His joy; we shall sit down with Him upon His throne.



PERPETUITY OF HIS PRIESTLY OFFICE. “Wherefore also he is able

to save them to the uttermost… seeing he ever liveth to make intercession

for them.” The chief meaning of “to make intercession” is to appear as the

representative of another, being moved to do so by feeling for him or with

him. Our Savior’s intercession for us does not mean that He is pleading our

cause with One who is ill disposed toward us, and needs to be placated by

Him; or that He is supplicating blessings for us from One who is unwilling

to bestow them (John 16:26-27). But He does represent us with the great

Father, and He is deeply and tenderly identified with us in feeling. He

represents us because He sympathizes with us. But in our text the

intercession “implies the whole mediatorial work, which the

exalted Savior performs for His own with His heavenly Father, either by

reference to His past death of blood by which He has bought them for

Himself, or by continued intercession for them. Christ’s perpetual

intercession signifies that:


Ø      The efficacy of his work for men is PERPETUAL!   The great truths

which He enunciated concerning life and duty, sin and salvation,

holiness and God, are vital and powerful now as ever they were. His

redemptive work accomplished upon earth is as efficacious now as

ever it was. His atoning death for us has lost none of its ancient power

to touch and subdue, to convert and sanctify, the soul of man. “The

word of the cross is the power of God” still to save them that believe.


Ø      The efficacy of his work in men is PERPETUAL!   Our Savior makes

intercession with us as well as for us. He speaks and works within us for

our salvation. By His Holy Spirit He encourages and strengthens His

people.  The Spirit guards us from error and guides us into truth; He

restrains us from the wrong and inspires us for the right, etc. Here,

then, is the guarantee of the abiding perfection of Christ’s saving power:

He is our perpetual representative with the Divine Father; the efficacy

of His redeeming work and the merit of his sacrificial death are

UNABATED,  and by His Spirit He is still a living presence and

power amongst men.



THE SIMPLEST CONDITION. “To save them… that draw near unto

God THROUGH HIM!”  Moral approach to God through the mediation

of Jesus Christ is the condition upon which this salvation is bestowed. It is

implied that man is morally remote from God. “Your iniquities have separated

between you and your God.” (Isaiah 59:2)  “Ye who sometimes were far off

are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13)  If we would be saved

we must draw near unto Him.  (“Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh

to you!”  (James 4:8)


Ø      The nature of this approach. It is not merely intellectual — the

apprehension of the truth concerning  Him. It is a sympathetic and

vital approach to Him. It is coming to Him in humble penitence for

our sin that we may obtain forgiveness; in grateful affection to Him

for His great love towards us; and in earnest desire to obey and

serve Him.


Ø      The medium of this approach. “Through Him,” i.e. Jesus Christ;



o       He removes the obstacles which prevented our approach

to God. Our guilty fears, and our unworthy suspicions

concerning the Father, He banishes.


o       He presents attractions which encourage our approach

to God. He reveals the willingness of the heavenly Father

to receive and welcome and bless us. “Jesus saith, I am

the Way, and the Truth, and the Life: no one cometh unto

the Father, but by Me.”  (John 14:6)  Thus our subject

supplies strong encouragement


§         to the Christian believer to “press on unto perfection;” and

§         to the awakened sinner to draw near unto God through

Christ in assured hope of COMPLETE SALVATION!



The Priest made Separate from Sinners (v. 26)




The Aaronic priest was also made separate from sinners; but he was only

separated officially. The separation lay in nothing more than natural

descent and the wearing of priestly vestments. The Aaronic priest indicated

in a feeble symbolic way what a true priest ought to be. In course of time,

indeed, he might become separated from sinners in a way not to be desired,

fenced round by an artificial sanctity, and superstitiously regarded as if he

had in him nothing less than the Power of heaven and hell. But Jesus comes

separated by nature, character, and by many outward manifestations of

these things. The nearness of Jesus to men has already been insisted on;

how He is a partaker of flesh and blood; how he is in all points tempted as

men are. And what is then stated, in a collateral way, so that it may not be

forgotten, is now, at the proper place, brought out and put to the front.

Jesus is nearer to the universal man than any priest could be; but while so

near there is a separation that goes to the very depths of being. This is

what gives Him His unique power. Moving among men, He hears their

cries and prayers, sees their need; but He receives no infection from their

narrowness, selfishness, degrading thoughts. (Thus, I personally believe

God wants us to live in this world amongst sinners, and that if we will

let Him guide us through the mine fields of temptation of daily life,

we can also be separate from evil and be the witnesses that He meant

for us to be as “the salt of the earth.”  - Matthew 5:13 – CY – 2014)

Evil passes before Him, but only to stir up into greatest activity His

sympathy with those who suffer from the evil; that evil prevails not

in the least over His own affections.




Ø      His power to keep us is always manifest. It is impossible to read about

Jesus, to contemplate Him in any attribute whatever, without being struck

with the two united aspects of His person:


o       first, association with us; and

o       secondly, difference from us.


We are drawn close to Him because of the manifold fullness of

His humanity; and then being drawn, we are made to feel how

strong His hand is, and what a perennial Fountain of assistance

and blessedness He becomes.


Ø      We have always some one to look at, to lift us above cynical thoughts

of mankind. How easy it is to get into a way of saying that human

nature is a very poor thing at its best! We cannot get the flaws and

meanness of even good men out of our recollection. Now HERE IS


what a glorious thing human nature is when we can see it in its full

purity. Jesus is not only pure Himself, but He can purify the medium

through which He is beheld. Those who come to see Jesus as He is,

learn to think better and more hopefully both of themselves and others.


Ø      The ideal is given which we are to seek and to reach. The great High

Priest stands in the midst of sinful men to whom He ministers, for the

most practical purpose of making them like Himself. He is separated

from sinners in order that sinners, being transformed and perfected,

may not be separated from Him. When the ideal and real meet in


 is indeed brought in.



Christ’s Superiority in the Infinite Perfection of His Personal Character.

                                                 (vs. 26-28)


This is a second great argument for Christ’s superiority to Aaron. The reason

for the introduction of this argument here is probably that the writer is still

thinking of Psalm 110. The psalm speaks of Christ exalted to the highest

heavenly position, and as a Priest for ever. Of both these points the echo

rings out here in vs. 26 and 28. Here is sharply drawn the picture of our

Lord’s personal perfection in a few carefully moderate words (for it is a

delicate subject), and the conclusion is apparent. (Note on word “daily” in

v. 27. The high priest did not “daily” offer sin offerings; the morning and

evening sacrifices were not offered by the high priest, nor were they

sacrifices for sin but in a secondary sense, as they were burnt offerings. The

great expiatory sacrifice offered by the high priest was on the Day of

Atonement. The word “daily” here must mean day after day; one day of

atonement after another.)



“Holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners”  — so many aspects

of THE SINLESSNESS OF JESUS!   The Hebrew probably saw here what

was true of the high priest symbolically, spoken of Jesus literally. The one had

inscribed on his forehead “Holiness unto the Lord,” which he had in symbol;

the other was “THE HOLY ONE OF GOD!”   The one was harmless (literally,

“without evil”), for he could not offer for others till his own sin was expiated,

but that was only an imputed sinlessness; the other had no sins to offer for.

The one was “undefiled,” obliged to be ceremonially clean; the other was in

Himself “without blemish and without spot.” The one was “separate from

 sinners,” excluded for seven days before the Day of Atonement even from

his own family, but this was only physical; the other was able to say,

“I  am not of the world.”


Ø      The personal perfection of Jesus as seen in His manifested purity.

“Holy,” etc., represents His purity from different standpoints.

“Holy,” as regards His relation to God; “harmless,” his relation to

man; “undefiled,” His relation to Himself; “separate from sinners,” 

the sum of the whole. In every direction Jesus was without sin. And

so much was apparent to the men of His day. His enemies, His relatives,

His disciples, all bear witness to this. He could ask of all, Which of

you convinceth me of sin?”  (John 8:46)


Ø      The perfection of Jesus is seen in His personal consciousness of

sinlessness. “Who needeth not…to offer up…..sacrifice for His

own sins.” Christ offered no sacrifice for Himself.  He always

distinguished between Himself and sinners. “If ye [not ‘we’],

being evil” (Matthew 7:11); “I do always those things which that

please Him” (John 8:29);  “I have glorified thee on the earth”

(Ibid. ch.17:4); “Why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

Christ knew He was holy, and that proves that He was; for

confessedly He was, at least, the best of men, and the holier a

man becomes the more sensible he is of failure.


Ø      The perfection of Jesus is seen in the Father’s endorsement of it. “He

was made higher than the heavens.” Consider that in connection with

Christ’s claim to be sinless. His resurrection and ascension and

enthronement are the highest pledge of the perfection He asserted for

Himself.  (God asserts that because Christ arose from the dead, that

there positively, WILL BE A JUDGMENT!  - Acts 17:31 – CY –





became us.” Our needs are beyond the help of any one less.


Ø      The first function of the high priest was to offer sacrifice. Then observe

how Christ’s holiness perfects Him as A SACRIFICE! He could not

have atoned for others if He had sins of His own; but THE OFFERING


least, vindicates the Law, and pays the sinner’s debt, however great.


Ø      The next function of the high priest was intercession. Then observe how

Christ’s holiness perfects Him as an Intercessor. We can trust in no

mediator till we know he is on good terms with the king. Because Christ is

the Holy One of God, He has perpetual access to the Father; His will and

the Father’s are the same, and the Father delights in granting His request.

Jesus can never be refused.


Ø      The third function of the high priest was to instruct. Then observe how

Christ’s holiness perfects him as a Teacher. It is in His holiness we

learn what most of all we need to know — God’s will about us. We

look at Jesus, and there it is. Moreover, looking at Him produces the

same holiness in us, for looking we become like.  (“Looking unto

Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith!”  - ch.12:2)



OATH TO BE HIGH PRIEST FOREVER. “The word of the oath,” etc.

Notice how many perfect things are set forth here.


Ø      A perfect Sacrifice for sin. “By one offering he hath perfected for

ever them that are sanctified!” (ch. 10:14 – That is You and That

is Me, if we would but TRUST JESUS!  - CY – 2014)


Ø      A perfect High Priest to impart the benefits of that Sacrifice. Our

tendency is to dwell on Christ’s earthly life, or on His death; but

the Epistles dwell most on His present life. And that is the view

of our Lord He desires us to keep most prominent: “I am He that

liveth, and was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore!”

(Revelation 1:18) “Therefore He is able to save them to the

uttermost that come unto God BY HIM!”


Ø      A perfect promise that Christ will do all this. “Will,” for all who

will let Him, FOR ALL “who come unto God by Him,” i.e

FOR ALL  who take Him to be their High Priest. GOD

PLEDGES HIS OATH FOR THAT!   How needlessly men

are lost! They are not called to risk their soul on a trifle!

26 “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled,

separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;

Such a High Priest, it is said, for us was fitting. The same word Ἔπρεπεν

eprepen – behooved; became - was used in ch. 2:10, where the humiliation

of Christ was spoken of. It was there said that to make the Captain of our

salvation perfect through suffering “became” God — was befitting to what

we conceive of the Divine nature. It is now said that our High Priest’s being

such as is here described “became” us — was befitting to our state and needs.

That He should be both human and superhuman was in all respects fitting — the

one that He might be our sympathizing brother; the other that His

intercession might avail. The further description of Him in this verse is

suggested by the qualifications of the Aaronic high priest, what they

typified being realized in Christ. The high priest was by his consecration a

holy person, ἅγιος -  hagios – holy; sacred - (Leviticus 21:6, 8, etc.); he bore on

his miter Holiness to the Lord(Exodus 39:30); he must be without personal

blemish (Leviticus 21:17, etc.); he must keep himself continually from

all ceremonial pollution (Leviticus 21. and 22.); he must purify himself by a

sacrifice for himself and by special ablutions before entering the holy of

holies (Leviticus 16.); when there, he was conceived as in God’s presence,

apart from the world of sinners outside. Christ was not only ἅγιος (holy), but

ὅσιος – hosios - personally and inwardly holy (Christians in the New Testament

are all called ἅγίοι – hagioi - but not all ὅσιοι - hosioi : for the use of which word,

compare Titus 1:8; Acts 2:27; 13:34, where it is applied to Christ, τὸν ὅσιόν σου -

ton hosion sou – thine Holy One -  and Revelation 15:4;16:5, where it is applied

to God as His special attribute, ὅτι µόνος ὅσιος – hoti monos hosios - that only

art holy.  Christ was actually free from evil (ἄκακος – akakos – innocent )

and (μίαντος  - amiantos – undefiled) by any contact of sin; and as such He

has passed to God’s actual presence (compare  διεληλυθότα τοὺς οὐρανούς

dielaeluthota tous ouranous – one having passed through the heavens –

ch. 4:14), separated forever from the world of sinners.

Separated from Sinners (v. 26)

This verse exhibits in a strong clear light the moral purity of our High

Priest, and its becomingness in relation to the necessities of His people.

His boyhood and youth were stainless. His manhood was one of sinless

perfection. His friends regarded Him as faultless. His enemies testified to

His purity (Pilate, Judas, the devils whom he cast out). Jesus Himself

claimed to be holy (John 8:46; 14:30); and He never confessed sin, or

begged forgiveness. The voice of His Father from heaven attested Him,

once and again, to be the Holy One of God. (Matthew 3:17; 17:5).


Ø      The elements of His holiness. Three adjectives are used, referring to

three different departments of moral character.

o       “Holy,” i.e. pious in relation to God. Jesus lived the life of

ideal godliness. He perfectly obeyed “the great and first

commandmentthe four “words” of the first table of

the Law.

o       “Guileless,” i.e. just and kind towards His fellow-men. Jesus

perfectly observed the six precepts cf. the second table.

He injured no one. He “went about doing good.”  (Acts 10:38)

o       “Undefiled,” i.e. personally pure; uncontaminated by His

constant contact with sinful men; holy in the midst of sin,

temptation, and suffering.

Ø      The singularity of His holiness. “Separated from sinners.” This phrase

sustains a relation of contrast to the three adjectives. It indicates the

unique character and the matchless harmony of the Savior’s moral life.

It expresses His solitariness in His holiness. If the human race be divided

into two classes — the sinners and the holy — all the rest of mankind

must take rank as sinners, while Jesus stands by Himself as the one

human being who was holy (“separate from sinners”). 

Ø      The reward of His holiness. “Made higher than the heavens.” His

supreme exaltation has set Him more visibly apart from other men than

before. It was conferred upon Him as the reward of His pure, unworldly,

self-sacrificing life. His mediatorial throne has been erected in the new

heavens of the new covenant, and these are higher than any heavens

formerly known to mankind.

OUR SALVATION. “Such a High Priest became us.” In ch. 2:10

we read of what in this connection “became” God; here, of what “became”

man. The purity of the Redeemer was admirably adapted to the necessities

of our condition.

Ø      That He might be a true manifestation of God. A priest is a mediator

or middle-man between God and men; and it is indispensable that he

should be in perfect sympathy with the purity of the Eternal. Holiness

is the crown and flower of the Divine perfections; and it was needful

that our priest should reflect that holiness in His own character.

Ø      That his sacrifice might be an adequate atonement for sin. He must be

on the very best of terms with the God whom we have offended. His

expiation must be satisfactory to Divine justice. It is impossible that

Jesus could have atoned for us had He been Himself morally infirm,

like the Jewish high priest, He could only purchase our reconciliation

by offering HIMSELF AS A VICTIM  without spot or blemish, upon

the altar.

Ø      That he might leave us a perfect example. The Christian life consists in

THE IMITATION OF CHRIST!   Believers follow Him in the three

great departments of moral excellence in which He was so absolutely pure.

We ought to copy Him also in His separatedness from the world. Indeed,

His people should already be in spirit, through their oneness of character

with their risen Lord, “made higher than the heavens?

27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up

sacrifice, first for His own sins, and then for the people’s: for this He

did once, when He offered up Himself.” The expression “daily”

 καθ. ἡµέραν – kath hameran – to daily) is not in strictness applicable to the

high priest, who did not offer the daily sacrifice. The reference throughout

what follows being to the high priest’s peculiar functions on the Day of

Atonement, κατ ἐνιαυτὸν kat eniauton – every year - might have been

expected.  There are two tenable solutions:

(1) that the daily offerings of the priests are regarded as made by the high

priest, who represented the whole priesthood, on the principle, qui facit

per alios tacit per se; (he who acts through another, acts himself).

(2) that καθ’ ἡµέραν (as is suggested by its position in the sentence)

belongs not to οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς  – hoi archiereis – chief priests; high priest,   

but only to Christ: “who has no need daily, as the high priests have yearly:”

for His intercession being perpetual, an offering on His part would be needed

daily, if needed at all. This view is supported by the fact that the daily

sacrifices are not spoken of in the law as including a special one in the first place

for the priest’s own sin. “This he did.” Did what? Offer for his own sins as well as

for the people’s? No; for,though it has been seen above (ch. 5:7) how the high priest’s

offering for himself might have its counterpart in the agony, the Sinless

One cannot be said to have offered for sins of His own. And, besides, he

having offered Himself (ἑαυτὸν ἀνενέγκας – heaton anenegkas – offered up

Himself), the offering could not be for

 Himself. We must, therefore, take


“this He did” as referring only to the latter part of the preceding clause, while  

(ἑαυτὸν προςενέγκαςheaton  prosenegkas- offering Himself - answers to the

former part;or as implying generally, “did all that was needed for atonement.”

28 “For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the

word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is

consecrated for evermore.  For the Law maketh men high priests, having

infirmity;but the word of the oath, which was after the Law, maketh the Son,

perfected for evermore. With men (i.e. a succession of men; compare v. 8)

having infirmity is contrasted the One Son, for ever perfected. The absence

of the article before υἱὸν (son) does not imply the meaning “a son;” the title

denotes here, as throughout the Epistle, the peculiar Son of prophecy (see

under ch. 1:1). There is here no denial of his complete humanity,

though He is plainly regarded as more than man. Nor is His participation in

human ἀσθένεια  - astheneia – infirmity - in the sense explained under ch. 5,

denied. His implied freedom from it may mean either that He never had any

inherent in Himself, none due to personal imperfection, or that now, in His

exalted state, He is altogether removed from it. In both these senses the

implication is true; and both may be understood; but τετελειωµένον

teteleiomenon - having been perfected - being here opposed to ἔχοντας

ἀσθένειανechontas astheneianhaving infirmity (as υἱὸν – [Son] to

ἀνθρώπους anthropoushumans; men), the latter sense may be conceived

to have been especially in the writer’s mind. It is,in fact, our ever-living High

Priest, interceding for us above, after passing through human experience,

and after atonement completed, that is now being presented to our view.

It is to be observed, lastly, that  τετελειωµένον (having been perfected) in this

verse may be intended t o bear, or at any rate to suggest, the special sense

noted under (ch.5:9, and strenuously maintained by Jackson, and hence to

be not incorrectly rendered by “consecrated” in the Authorized Version;

and this notwithstanding Alford’s protest against this rendering as “obliterating

both sense anti analogy with ch. 2:10 and 5:1)

Christ Greater than Aaron (vs. 11-28)

This passage is really just a commentary on the Old Testament oracle

contained in Psalm 110:4. There might appropriately be prefixed to it

as a motto the words, “Behold, a greater than Aaron is here.”

11-19.) Aaron’s mediation could not

o       satisfy justice,

o       pacify conscience, or

o       sanctify the heart.

All that it could do was to exhibit a faint adumbration

of the ideal priesthood. The words of Psalm 110:4 suggest this

insufficiency, for they contain the promise of the Messianic priesthood.

Ø      Jesus was of other descent. (v. 11-14.) He belonged to the tribe of

Judah; and not, like Aaron’s sons, to the ecclesiastical tribe of Levi.

The act of this change in itself proves the inefficacy of the hereditary

Hebrew riesthood.

Ø      His priesthood is of everlasting duration. (vs 15-17.) The Jewish

priests one by one succumbed to death; but Jesus Christ is Himself the

Life! Life resides essentially and originally in Him. So His priesthood is

abiding; His official dignity remains “forever.” From this it follows (vs.

18-19) that the Levitical priesthood, and the entire ceremonial law which

enshrined it, have been abrogated; and in their stead has come the

introduction of “a better hope” (v. 19),  the hope of an efficient priesthood,

of a dispensation both spiritual and permanent, and thus of immediate and

perfect access to God.

LEVITICAL. (vs. 20-28.) Jesus is the true Priest of mankind, for whom

the nations have been waiting. (“the Desire of all nations”- Haggai 2:7).

 He is the Apostle of God to men, and the prevailing Intercessor with God

for men. This passage reminds us how infinitely exalted His priesthood is

above that of Aaron.

Ø      He was consecrated with an oath. (vs. 20-22.) No Levitical priest was

installed thus solemnly. The Divine oath shows the certainty and

importance and immutability of the thing sworn. It reminds us that the

priesthood of our Lord enters into the very substance of the

everlasting covenant.

Ø      His priesthood is intransferable. (vs. 23-25.) The Levitical priesthood

had this defect, that it required to be conveyed from one man to another.

But, although Christ died, His death did not “hinder him from

continuing;” it did not even temporarily interrupt the exercise of His

priesthood. For He died voluntarily. He laid himself as Victim upon

the altar. And, by dying, He conquered death, through the power of

his indissoluble life. So, His mediatorial authority is intransferable.

Ø      His character is holy. (v. 26.) The Levitical priests had “infirmity,”

and needed to offer sacrifices first for their own sins. Even the most

pious men among them had been, of course, morally imperfect; and

some of the high priests — such as Caiaphas — who were not godly

men, had been notorious for their wickedness. But “the High Priest of

our confession” has a pure nature. He lived on earth a stainless life. He

was “separated from sinners;” i.e. He showed on every side of His

character that He belonged to another category than that of sinners.

And His spotless holiness was in the fullest harmony with our spiritual

need; it was, indeed, indispensably necessary, and in every way most

becoming and beautiful, in relation to us. (v. 26)

Ø      His sacrifice is perfect. (vs. 27-28.) The Jewish priests had to offer

up sacrifices “daily” — “the same sacrifices year by year”with

laborious and wearisome iteration. But the one sacrifice of Christ is

in itself all-sufficient to:

o       expiate guilt,

o       cleanse the conscience, and

o       purify the soul.

His blood has virtue to atone, for it is THE BLOOD OF GOD!

(ch. 10:29)

Ø      He ministers in the real sanctuary. (vs. 26, 28.) Aaron’s ministry was

carried on in a moving tent of curtain-work and wood-work — a tent,