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Hebrews Chapter 7:11-14

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?

11. Porro si consummatio per Leviticum sacerdotium erat (populus enim sub eo legem accepit) quid adhuc opus fuit secundum ordinem Melchisedec alterum exoriri sacerdotem, et non secundum ordinem Aaron dici?

12. For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

12. Etenim dum transfertur sacerdotium, necessario etiam fit legis translatio.

13. For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.

13. Certe is de quo haec dicuntur, alterius fuit tribus particeps, ex qua nemo adstitit altari.

14. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.

14. Clarum enim est quod ex tribu Judae natus sit Dominus noster, de qua tribu nihil loquutus est Moses quod ad sacerdotium spectat.


11. If therefore perfection, or, moreover if perfection, 118118     The particles Εἰ μὲν οὖν, are rendered by Elsner, “but if,” — by Doddridge, “now if,” — by Stuart, “moreover if,” and by Macknight, “moreover, if indeed;” and all these consider that there is here a commencement from what has preceded. — Ed etc. From the same testimony the Apostle concludes, that the old covenant was abrogated by the coming of Christ. He has hitherto spoken of the office and person of the priest; but as God had instituted a priesthood for the purpose of ratifying the Law, the former being abolished, the latter necessarily ceases. That this may be better understood, we must bear in mind the general truth, — That no covenant between God and man is in force and ratified, except it rests on a priesthood. Hence the Apostle says, that the Law was introduced among the ancient people under the Levitical priesthood; by which he intimates, that it not only prevailed during the time of the Law, but that it was instituted, as we have said for the sake of confirming the Law.

He now reasons thus, If the ministry of the Church was perfect under the order of Aaron, why was it necessary to return to another order? For in perfection nothing can be changed. It then follows, that the ministry of the Law was not perfect, for that new order was to be introduced of which David speaks. 119119     “Perfection,” or completion, rather than consummation is no doubt the best word τελείωσις. To render it “perfect expiation,” as Schleusner does, is not to render the word, but to explain it. The imperfection of the Levitical priesthood was doubtless its capacity really to make an atonement for sin, as its work was ceremonial and typical: but it was enough for the present purpose merely to say that it was not perfect, as it failed to answer the great end of establishing a priesthood. And the Apostle grounds its deficiency, or imperfect character, on the fact that a priest of another order had been promised. This was an argument which the Jews could not resist, as it was founded on the Scriptures, which they themselves acknowledged as divine. — Ed

For under it the people received the Law, etc. This parenthesis is inserted in order that we may know that the Law was annexed to the priesthood. The Apostle had in view to prove that in the Law of Moses there was no ultimate end at which we ought to stop. This he proves by the abrogation of the priesthoods and in this way: Had the authority of the ancient priesthood been such as to be sufficient fully to establish the Law, God would have never introduced in its place another and a different priesthood. Now, as some might doubt whether the abolition of the Law followed the abolition of the priesthood, he says that the Law was not only brought in under it, but that it was also by it established. 120120     See Appendix Z.

12. For the priesthood being changed, or, transferred, etc. As the authority of the Law and the priesthood is the same, Christ became not only a priest, but also a Lawgiver; so that the right of Aaron, as well as of Moses, was transferred to him. The sum of the whole is, that the ministry of Moses was no less temporary than that of Aaron; and hence both were annulled by the coming of Christ, for the one could not stand without the other. By the word Law, we understand what peculiarly belonged to Moses; for the Law contains the rule of life, and the gratuitous covenant of life; and in it we find everywhere many remarkable sentences by which we are instructed as to faith, and as to the fear of God. None of these were abolished by Christ, but only that part which regarded the ancient priesthood.

For Christ is here compared with Moses; whatever then they had in common, is not to be taken to the account, but only the things in which they differ. They in common offer God’s mercy to us, prescribe the rule of a holy and godly life, teach us the true worship of God, and exhort us to exercise faith and patience, and all the duties of godliness. But Moses was different from Christ in this respect, that while the love of the Gospel was not as yet made known, he kept the people under veils, set forth the knowledge of Christ by types and shadows, and, in short, accommodated himself to the capacity of ignorant people, and did not rise higher than to puerile elements. We must then remember, that the Law is that part of the ministration which Moses had as peculiarly his own, and different from that of Christ. That law, as it was subordinate to the ancient priesthood, was abolished when the priesthood was abolished. And Christ, being made a priest, was invested also with the authority of a legislator, that he might be the teacher and interpreter of the new covenant. At the same time, the word Law is applied, though not in its strict sense, to the Gospel; but this impropriety of language is so far from having anything harsh in it, that on account of the contrast it adds beauty to the sentence, as we find in the seventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans

Moreover, the impiety of the Pope is extremely arrogant, who has inserted this article in his decretals, that he himself is now invested with the same authority as Aaron formerly had, because the Law and also the priesthood have been transferred to him. We see what the Apostle says; he maintains that ceremonies have ceased since the time when Christ came forth with command to proclaim the new covenant. It is then absurd hence to conclude, that anything has been transferred to the ministers of Christ; for Christ himself is alone contrasted here with Moses and Aaron. Under what pretext then can Antichrist arrogate to himself any such authority? I do not indeed speak now for the sake of disproving so gross an arrogance; but it is worth while to remind readers of this sacrilegious audacity, that they may know that this notorious servant of the servants of Christ wholly disregards the honor of his Master, and boldly mangles the Scriptures, that he may have some cloak for his own tyranny.

13. For he of whom these things are spoken, or, said, 121121     Calvin renders “for”, γὰρ, “doubtless — certe,” and Stuart, “now;” but it may better be rendered here, “for,” as a reason is given for a change in “the law” respecting the priesthood. The γὰρ in the former verse may be rendered “indeed,” or “wherefore” as by Macknight. In the 11th verse, the Apostle proves the imperfection or defectiveness of the Levitical priesthood, by the promise of another priest after the order of Melchisedec for Christ was not of the tribe specified by the Law. — Ed etc. As the Apostle was speaking to them who confessed Jesus the Son of Mary to be the Christ, he proves that an end was put to the ancient priesthood, because the new Priest, who had been set in the place of the old, was of another tribe, and not of Levi; for according to the Law the honor of the priesthood was to continue, by a special privilege, in that tribe. But he says that it was evident that Christ was born of the tribe of Judah, for it was then a fact commonly known. As then they acknowledged that he was the Christ, it was also necessary that they should be persuaded that he was the son of David; for he who had been promised could derive his origin from no other.

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