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23 Furthermore, the former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; 24but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.


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23. And they truly, etc. He had already touched on this comparison; but as the subject deserved more attention, he unfolds it more fully, though the point discussed is different from what it was before; for then he concluded that the ancient priesthood was to come to an end because they who exercised it were mortal; but now he simply shows that Christ remains perpetually a priest. This he does by an argument taken from things unequal; the ancient priests were many, for death put an end to their priesthood; but there is no death to prevent Christ from discharging his office. Then he alone is a perpetual priest. Thus a different cause produces different effects.

25. Wherefore he is able to save, etc. This is the fruit of an eternal priesthood, even our salvation, if indeed we gather this fruit by faith as we ought to do. For where death is or a change, you will there seek salvation in vain; hence they who cleave to the ancient priesthood, can never attain salvation. When he says, them that come unto God, or who approach God, by this phrase he points out the faithful who alone enjoy the salvation procured by Christ; but he yet at the same time indicates what faith ought to regard in a mediator. The chief good of man is to be united to his God, with whom is the fountain of life and of all blessings; but their own unworthiness drives all away from any access to him. Then the peculiar office of a mediator is to bring us help in this respect, and to stretch out his hand to us that he may lead us to heaven. And he ever alludes to the ancient shadows of the Law; for though the high priest carried the names of the twelve tribes on his shoulders and symbols on his breast, yet he alone entered the sanctuary, while the people stood in the court. But now by relying on Christ the Mediator we enter by faith into heaven, for there is no longer any veil intervening, but God appears to us openly, and lovingly invites us to a familiar access. 124124     Calvin’s version of the former part of the verse is, “Hence he is also able to save for ever those who through him draw nigh to God.” Instead of “to the uttermost” of our version, we have here “forever,” according to the Vulg. Macknight renders the phrase the same and Stuart “always.” But the original, εἰς τὸ παντελὲς, do not refer to time, but to what is fully or perfectly done. It is so taken by Erasmus, Beza, Capellus and Schleusner. There is another difference, whether to connect the words with “able” or with “save.” Most join them with “save,” “he is able also fully (or, for ever) able to save.” When we consider what the subject is — the perfection of Christ as a priest, and not the character of his salvation. We must see that the latter is the right view, and that the passage ought to have been thus rendered, — “And hence he is fully (or perfectly) able to save those who through him come to God.” And the words which follow may be deemed as affording a reason for this, “always living in order to intercede for them,” or, “to interpose in their behalf.”
   However, there is not much difference in the meaning, whether the word “fully” or perfectly be connected with “able” or with “save;” the same truth is essentially conveyed. — Ed.

Seeing he ever liveth, etc. What sort of pledge and how great is this of love towards us! Christ liveth for us, not for himself! That he was received into a blessed immortality to reign in heaven, this has taken place, as the Apostle declares, for our sake. Then the life, and the kingdom, and the glory of Christ are all destined for our salvation as to their object; nor has Christ any thing, which may not be applied to our benefit; for he has been given to us by the Father once for all on this condition, that all his should be ours. He at the same time teaches us by what Christ is doing, that he is performing his office as a priest; for it belongs to a priest to intercede for the people, that they may obtain favor with God. This is what Christ is ever doing, for it was for this purpose that he rose again from the dead. Then of right, for his continual intercession, he claims for himself the office of the priesthood.




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