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Hebrews Chapter 7:15-22

15. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,

15. Idque magis etiam liquet, siquidem ad similitudinem Melchisedec exoritur sacerdos alius;

16. Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.

16. Qui non juxta legem mandati carnalis factus fuit, sed secundum potentiam vitae insolubilis.

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

17. Testatur enim ad hunc modum, Tu serdos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchisedec.

18. For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.

18. Abrogatio enim sit prioris mandati propter imbecillitatem et inutilitatem.

19. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

19. Nihil enim lex perfecit, sed accessit introductio ad spem potiorem per quam appropinquamus Deo:

20. And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest:

20. Atque hoc potiorem, quod non absque jurejurando res acta sit: nam illi quidem citra jusjurandum sacerdotes facti sunt:

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:)

21. Hic vero cum jurejurando, per eum qui dixit illi, Tu sacerdos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchisedec.

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

22. Tanto potioris Testamenti sponsor factus est Iesus.

 

15. And it is yet far more evident, etc. He proves by another argument, that the Law is abolished. He reasoned before as to the person of the priest, but now as to the nature of the priesthood, and the reason for which it was appointed. The ancient priesthood, he says, had to do with external rites; but in Christ’s priesthood there is nothing but what is spiritual. It hence appears, that the former was evanescent and temporary; but that the latter was to be perpetual.

16. Carnal commandment, etc. It was called carnal, because it refers to things corporal, that is, to external rites. We know how Aaron and his sons were initiated into their office. What was fulfilled in Christ by the hidden and celestial power of the Spirit, was shadowed forth under the Law by ointment, various vestments, the sprinkling of blood, and other earthly ceremonies. Now this kind of institution was suitable to the nature of the priesthood; it hence follows, that the priesthood itself was liable to change. At the same time, as we shall hereafter see, the priesthood was not so carnal, but that it was still spiritual; but the Apostle here refers only to the difference between Christ and Aaron. However spiritual then might have been the meaning of these shadows, they were yet but shadows in themselves; and as they were made up of the elements of this world, they may justly be called earthly.

After the power of an endless life, or, of an indissoluble life. As Christ is a perpetual priest, it was necessary, that he should be different from Aaron as to the manner of his appointment; and so it was, for it was not Moses, a mortal man, who consecrated him, but the Holy Spirit, and that not with oil, nor with the blood of goats, nor with the outward pomp of vestments, but with celestial power, which the Apostle here sets in opposition to weak elements. We hence see how the eternity of his priesthood was exhibited in Christ.

17. Thou art a priest forever, etc. It is on the single word forever, that the Apostle lays stress in this passage; for he confirms what he said of an indissoluble life. He then shows that Christ differs from the whole race of Levi, because he is made a priest for ever. 122122     This paragraph extends from the 11th verse to the end of the 17th. The “law” parenthetically referred to in the 11th, seems not to be the Mosaic Law generally, as too commonly supposed, but the law respecting the Levitical priesthood, as it appears evident from the 12th and the following verses, for what is spoken of is Christ as being a priest not in succession from Aaron, but according to the order of Melchisedec. See Appendix A 2. — Ed.

But here it may be objected, as the Jews also do, that the word,לעולם laoulam, does not always mean eternity, but the extent of one age, or, at farthest, a long time; and it is added, that when Moses speaks of the ancient sacrifices, he often uses this expression, “This ordinance shall be forever.” (Exodus 12:17, and 19:9.) To this I answer that whenever the sacrifices of the Law are mentioned, “forever” is to be confined to the time of the Law; nor ought this to be deemed strange; for by the coming of Christ a certain renovation of the world was effected. Whenever, then, Moses speaks of his own ministration, he extends the longest time no farther than to Christ. It must yet be also observed, that “forever” is applied to the ancient sacrifices, not with regard to the external ceremony, but on account of their mystical signification. On the present occasion, however, this reason ought to be sufficient, that Moses and his ministrations were for ever; that is, until the coming of the kingdom of Christ, under whom the world was renovated. Now when Christ is come, and a perpetual priesthood is given to him, we can find no end to his age, so that it cannot terminate after a certain period of time. So when applied to him, the word ought to be understood in the sense of eternity; for by the context we are always to judge of the meaning of the word, לעולםlaoulam

18. For there is verily a disannulling, or abrogation, etc. As the Apostle’s discourse depends on this hinge, that the Law together with the priesthood had come to an end, he explains the reason why it ought to have been abolished, even because it was weak and unprofitable. And he speaks thus in reference to the ceremonies, which had nothing substantial in them, nor in themselves anything available to salvation; for the promise of favor annexed to them, and what Moses everywhere testifies that God would be pacified by sacrifices and that sins would be expiated, did not properly belong to sacrifices, but were only adventitious to them. For as all types had a reference to Christ, so from him they derived all their virtue and effect; nay, of themselves they availed nothing or effected nothing; but their whole efficacy depended on Christ alone

But as the Jews foolishly set up these in opposition to Christ, the Apostle, referring to this notion, shows the difference between these things and Christ. For as soon as they are separated from Christ, there is nothing left in them, but the weakness of which he speaks; in a word, there is no benefit to be found in the ancient ceremonies, except as they refer to Christ; for in this way they so made the Jews acquainted with God’s grace, that they in a manner kept them in expectation of it. Let us then remember that the Law is useless, when separated from Christ. And he also confirms the same truth by calling it the commandment going before; for it is a well­known and common saying, that former laws are abrogated by the latter. The Law had been promulgated long before David; but he was in possession of his kingdom when he proclaimed this prophecy respecting the appointment of a new priest; this new Law then annulled the former.

19. For the Law made nothing perfect, etc. As he had spoken rather harshly of the Law, he now mitigates or, as it were, corrects that asperity; for he concedes to it some utility, as it had pointed out the way which leads at length to salvation. It was, however, of such a kind as to be far short of perfection. The Apostle then reasons thus: The Law was only a beginning; then something more perfect was necessarily, to follow; for it is not fit that God’s children should always continue in childish elements. By the word bringing in, or introduction, he means a certain preparation made by the Law, as children are taught in those elements which smooth the way to what is higher. But as the preposition ἐπὶ denotes a consequence, when one thing follows another; it ought, as I think, to be thus rendered, “but added was an introduction into a better hope.” For he mentions two introductions, according to my view; the first by Melchisedec as a type; and the second by the Law, which was in time later. Moreover, by Law he designates the Levitical priesthood, which was superadded to the priesthood of Melchisedec.

By a better hope is to be understood the condition of the faithful under the reign of Christ; but he had in view the fathers, who could not be satisfied with the state in which they were then, but aspired to higher things. Hence that saying, “Many kings and prophets desired to see the things which ye see.” (Luke 10:24.) They were therefore led by the hand of the Law as a schoolmaster, that they might advance farther. 123123     Calvin is peculiar in his view of this verse. He considered the Law to be “an introduction to a better hope.” Many agree with our version, such as Beza, Doddridge, Macknight, Stuart, etc. But there are those who render “introduction” in connection with “disannulling.” See Appendix B 2. — Ed.

By the which we draw nigh, etc. There is to be understood here an implied contrast between us and the fathers; for in honor and privilege we excel them, as God has communicated to us a full knowledge of himself, but he appeared to them as it were afar off and obscurely. And there is an allusion here made to the tabernacle or the temple; for the people stood afar off in the court, nor was there a nearer access to the sanctuary opened to any one except to the priests; and into the interior sanctuary the highest priest only entered; but now, the tabernacle being removed, God admits us into a familiar approach to himself, which the fathers were not permitted to have. Then he who still holds to the shadows of the Law, or seeks to restore them, not only obscures the glory of Christ, but also deprives us of an immense benefit; for he puts God at a great distance from us, to approach whom there is a liberty granted to us by the Gospel. And whosoever continues in the Law, knowingly and willingly deprives himself of the privilege of approaching nigh to God.

20. And inasmuch as not without an oath, etc. Here is another argument, why the Law ought to give place to the Gospel; for God has set Christ’s priesthood above that of Aaron, since in honor to the former he was pleased to make an oath. For when he appointed the ancient priests, he introduced no oath; but it is said of Christ, the Lord swore; which was doubtless done for the sake of honoring him. We see the end for which he again quotes the Psalmist, even that we may know, that more honor through God’s oath was given to Christ than to any others. But we must bear in mind this truth, that a priest is made that he may be the surety of a covenant. The Apostle hence concludes, that the covenant which God has made by Christ with us, is far more excellent than the old covenant of which Moses was the interpreter.


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