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1. The sum of this chapter is, Christ, as appears from his type, Melchisedec, who was greater than Abraham himself, from whom Levi descended, has a priesthood altogether excellent, new, firm, perpetual. Gen. xiv, 18, &c.
2. Being first - According to the meaning of his own name. King of righteousness, then - According to the name of his city. King of peace - So in him, as in Christ, righteousness and peace were joined. And so they are in all that believe in him.
3. Without father, without mother, without pedigree - Recorded, without any account of his descent from any ancestors of the priestly order. Having neither beginning of days, nor end of life - Mentioned by Moses. But being - In all these respects. Made like the Son of God - Who is really without father, as to his human nature; without mother, as to his divine; and in this also, without pedigree - Neither descended from any ancestors of the priestly order. Remaineth a priest continually - Nothing is recorded of the death or successor of Melchisedec. But Christ alone does really remain without death, and without successor.
4. The greatness of Melchisedec is described in all the preceding and following particulars. But the most manifest proof of it was, that Abraham gave him tithes as to a priest of God and a superior; though he was himself a patriarch, greater than a king, and a progenitor of many kings.
5. The sons of Levi take tithes of their brethren -- sprung from Abraham as well as themselves. The Levites therefore are greater than they; but the priests are greater than the Levites, the patriarch Abraham than the priests, and Melchisedec than him.
6. He who is not from them - The Levites Blessed - Another proof of his superiority. Even him that had the promises - That was so highly favoured of God. When St. Paul speaks of Christ, he says, "the promise;" promises refer to other blessings also.
7. The less is blessed - Authoritatively, of the greater.
8. And here - In the Levitical priesthood. But there - In the case of Melchisedec. He of whom it is testified that he liveth - Who is not spoken of as one that died for another to succeed him; but is represented only as living, no mention being made either of his birth or death.
9. And even Levi, who received tithes - Not in person, but in his successors, as it were, paid tithes - In the person of Abraham.
11. The apostle now demonstrates that the Levitical priesthood must yield to the priesthood of Christ, because Melchisedec, after whose order he is a priest,
1. Is opposed to Aaron, ver. 11-14.
2. Hath no end of life, ver. 15-19, but "remaineth a priest continually." If now perfection were by the Levitical priesthood - If this perfectly answered all God's designs and man's wants For under it the people received the law - Whence some might infer, that perfection was by that priesthood. What farther need was there, that another priest - Of a new order, should be set up? From this single consideration it is plain, that both the priesthood and the law, which were inseparably connected, were now to give way to a better priesthood and more excellent dispensation.
12. For - One of these cannot be changed without the other.
13. But the priesthood is manifestly changed from one order to another, and from one tribe to another. For he of whom these things are spoken - Namely, Jesus. Pertaineth to another tribe - That of Judah. Of which no man was suffered by the law to attend on, or minister at, the altar.
14. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah - Whatever difficulties have arisen since, during so long a tract of time, it was then clear beyond dispute.
15. And it is still far more evident, that - Both the priesthood and the law are changed, because the priest now raised up is not only of another tribe, but of a quite different order.
16. Who is made - A priest. Not after the law of a carnal commandment - Not according to the Mosaic law, which consisted chiefly of commandments that were carnal, compared to the spirituality of the gospel. But after the power of an endless life - Which he has in himself, as the eternal Son of God.
18. For there is implied in this new and everlasting priesthood, and in the new dispensation connected therewith, a disannulling of the preceding commandment - An abrogation of the Mosaic law. For the weakness and unprofitableness thereof - For its insufficiency either to justify or to sanctify.
19. For the law - Taken by itself, separate from the gospel. Made nothing perfect - Could not perfect its votaries, either in faith or love, in happiness or holiness. But the bringing in of a better hope - Of the gospel dispensation, which gives us a better ground of confidence, does. By which we draw nigh to God - Yea, so nigh as to be one spirit with him. And this is true perfection.
20. And - The greater solemnity wherewith he was made priest, farther proves the superior excellency of his priesthood.
21. The Lord swear and will not repent - Hence also it appears, that his is an unchangeable priesthood.
22. Of so much better a covenant - Unchangeable, eternal. Was Jesus made a surety - Or mediator. The word covenant frequently occurs in the remaining part of this epistle. The original word means either a covenant or a last will and testament. St. Paul takes it sometimes in the former, sometimes in the latter, sense; sometimes he includes both.
23. They were many priests - One after another.
24. He continueth forever - In life and in his priesthood. That passeth not away - To any successor.
25. Wherefore he is able to save to the uttermost - From all the guilt, power, root, and consequence of sin. Them who come - By faith. To God through him - As their priest. Seeing he ever liveth to make intercession - That is, he ever lives and intercedes. He died once; he intercedes perpetually.
26. For such an high priest suited us - Unholy, mischievous, defiled sinners: a blessed paradox! Holy - With respect to God. Harmless - With respect to men. Undefiled - With any sin in himself. Separated from sinners - As well as free from sin. And so he was when he left the world. And made - Even in his human nature. Higher than the heavens - And all their inhabitants.
27. Who needeth not to offer up sacrifices daily - That is, on every yearly day of expiation; for he offered once for all: not for his own sins, for he then offered up himself "without spot to God."
28. The law maketh men high priests that have infirmity - That are both weak, mortal, and sinful. But the oath which was since the law - Namely, in the time of David. Maketh the son, who is consecrated forever - Who being now free, both from sin and death, from natural and moral infirmity, remaineth a priest forever.
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