Adult 1 Sunday School Class The High Priest Forever October 23, 2016
Hebrews 7:1-3; 19b-28
Please interpret the meaning of the following verses.
The interpretation of the verses is in bold print which follows the original verse in regular print.
Theme: Practices, traditions, and institutions created in the past are expected to continue into the future. Who will sustain them? Jesus was chosen to give the practices, traditions, and institutions their ultimate meaning and role for the people for all generations.
Hebrews 7:1-3; “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.” Here, the unknown author of Hebrews, points out the similarities between Melchisedec and Jesus. 1) Both were kings and priests; 2) Christ being from God had no beginning, nor an end (He was eternal.), while the Bible reports no genealogy for Melchisedec;, no recorded birth or death. In this instance, he is said to l have eternal priesthood. 3) Both were priests and both were not Levites.
v.19b “but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.” The coming of Jesus meant less emphasis in the Levitical significance of the priesthood. The old system was weak, whereas the people had a better hope through Jesus. Prior to Christ, the priest would go into the Holy of Holies in the center of the Temple each year (Day of Atonement), sacrifice a lamb first for his sins, and then the sins of the people. The priest was the mediator between man and God. After Christ’s crucifixion, the temple curtain to the Holy of Holies was rent (torn in half). There was never a further need for the priest to sacrifice an animal since Christ sacrificed HIMSELF once and for all. Now people had no need to see a priest, but could go directly to Jesus to intercede for them with God.
v.20. “And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest.” The Levitical priesthood was based on the Mosaic Law, and priest came by way of heredity. The Levitical priesthood started under Aaron (Exo 28:1) was temporary. Melchisedec and Jesus were given an oath by God which was everlasting. As time went on, the Levitical priests became less relevant, which demonstrated that no one could be saved by the Law, but only through Christ Jesus who was appointed by God. Salvation comes by a reconciliation between man and God, with Jesus as our mediator who intercedes on our behalf.
v.21. (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.) Hebrews aims to show the superiority of Christ’s priesthood to the Levitical priesthood because it is everlasting and sanctioned by God. Melchisedec only appears in the N.T. in Hebrews. However, he appears in the O.T. in Gen 14:18-20 and Psalm 110:4. He is referred to as the “king of Salem” and the “priest of the most high God”. Extra biblical references Josephus, Philo, and others make note of him.
v.22. “By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.” The testament or covenant of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the promise which God made. This covenant shows that there is no need for any priest to follow Jesus. He is eternal, and priests were temporary.
v.23. “And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death:” The Hebrews writer continues to show the superiority of Jesus to the Levitical priests. From Aaron to the destruction of Jerusalem’s Temple in AD 70, approximately 80 to 85 high priest had served. Many more lessor priest had assisted the high priests.
v.24. “But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.” Because Jesus lives forever, His priesthood will last forever. This allows Him to intercede for us for all generations to come.
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” Because Jesus is eternal, He will be available to intercede on our behalf in times of trouble, and deliver us from punishment even when we sin. In Christ, we have a Savior.
v.26. “For such a high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” All of the attributes are of Christ, who holds the highest place of honor in heaven. On the other hand, priest being imperfect had some of these impurities that prevented them from helping people. Christ is always available, even for the sinner. Christ can lead them from sin to salvation.
v.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 writer embellishes a bit when He says that the high priest can order up sacrifice daily or yearly. Numbers 28:3 says that high priest are not required to do daily sacrifices. The high priest was required to make sacrifices yearly (Hebrews 9:7, 25, 10:1). What the writer was showing was that Christ is able daily or yearly to assist people because He was sinless and did not have to purify himself first before helping others. Most importantly, after His crucifixion animal sacrifices were unnecessary, since Christ was His final sacrifice, and thus nullifies any other sacrificial system. Before His resurrection, priests on the other hand, had to purify themselves through a sacrificial unblemished animal before he could minister to a sinner who needed his sins removed. Christ’s sacrifice at the cross was final and eternal and adequate for our salvation.
v.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.” “The law appointed high priests who were limited by human weaknesses, but after the law was given, God appointed His Son with an oath, and His Son has been made the perfect High Priest forever. “(NLT Heb 7:28)