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7. Melchizedek the Priest

1For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of God Most High, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2to whom also Abraham divided a tenth part of all (being first, by interpretation, King of righteousness, and then also King of Salem, which is King of peace; 3without 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. 4Now consider how great this man was, unto whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth out of the chief spoils. 5And they indeed of the sons of Levi that receive the priest's office have commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though these have come out of the loins of Abraham: 6but he whose genealogy is not counted from them hath taken tithes of Abraham, and hath blessed him that hath the promises. 7But without any dispute the less is blessed of the better. 8And here men that die receive tithes; but there one, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. 9And, so to say, through Abraham even Levi, who receiveth tithes, hath paid tithes; 10for he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchizedek met him. 11Now if there was perfection through the Levitical priesthood (for under it hath the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should arise after the order of Melchizedek, and not be reckoned after the order of Aaron? 12For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. 13For he of whom these things are said belongeth to another tribe, from which no man hath given attendance at the altar. 14For it is evident that our Lord hath sprung out of Judah; as to which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priests. 15And what we say is yet more abundantly evident, if after the likeness of Melchizedek there ariseth another priest, 16who hath been made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life: 17for it is witnessed of him,

Thou art a priest for ever

After the order of Melchizedek.

18For there is a disannulling of a foregoing commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness 19(for the law made nothing perfect), and a bringing in thereupon of a better hope, through which we draw nigh unto God. 20And inasmuch as it is not without the taking of an oath 21(for they indeed have been made priests without an oath; but he with an oath by him that saith of him,

The Lord sware and will not repent himself,

Thou art a priest for ever);

22by so much also hath Jesus become the surety of a better covenant. 23And they indeed have been made priests many in number, because that by death they are hindered from continuing: 24but he, because he abideth for ever, hath his priesthood unchangeable. 25Wherefore also he is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near unto God through him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. 26For such a high priest became us, holy, guileless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; 27who needeth not daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people: for this he did once for all, when he offered up himself. 28For the law appointeth men high priests, having infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was after the law, appointeth a Son, perfected for evermore.

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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.




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