Hebrews 7


Concerning the greatness of Melchisedec, after whose order

Christ is a high priest, 1-4.

The Levites had authority to take tithes of the people; yet

Abraham, their representative, paid tithes to Melchisedec,


Perfection cannot come by the Mosaic law, else there could be no

need for another priest after the order of Melchisedec,

according to the prediction of David in Psalm cx., which priest

is sprung from a tribe to which the priesthood, according to

the law, did not appertain; but Christ is a priest for ever,

not according to the law, but after the order of an endless

life, 11-17.

The law, therefore, is disannulled, because of its

unprofitableness and imperfection; and Christ has an

unchangeable priesthood, 18-24.

He is therefore able always to save them that come unto him,

being in every respect a suitable Saviour; and he has offered

up himself for the sins of the people, 25-27.

The law makes those priests who have infirmity; but he who is

consecrated by the oath is perfect, and endures for ever, 28.


Verse 1. For this Melchisedec, king of Salem] See the whole of

this history largely explained in the notes, See "Ge 14:18", &c.,

and the concluding observations at the end of that chapter.

The name Melchisedec, is thus expounded in Bereshith

Rabba, sec. 43, fol. 42, matsdie eth Yoshebaiv,

"The Justifier of those who dwell in him;" and this is

sufficiently true of Christ, but false of Jerusalem, to which

the rabbins apply it, who state that it was originally called

Tsedek, and that it justified its inhabitants.

Salem is generally understood to be Jerusalem; but some think

that it was that city of Shechem mentioned Jos 20:7. St. Jerome

was of this opinion.

Verse 2. Gave a tenth part of all] It was an ancient custom,

among all the nations of the earth, to consecrate a part or tenth

of the spoils taken in war to the objects of their worship. Many

examples of this kind occur. This however was not according to

any provision in law, but merely ad libitum, and as a eucharistic

offering to those to whom they imagined they owed the victory.

But neither Abraham's decimation, nor theirs, had any thing to do,

either with tithes as prescribed under the Mosaic dispensation, or

as claimed under the Christian.

Verse 3. Without father, without mother] The object of the

apostle, in thus producing the example of Melchisedec, was to

show, 1. That Jesus was the person prophesied of in the 110th

Psalm; which psalm the Jews uniformly understood as predicting

the Messiah. 2. To answer the objections of the Jews against the

legitimacy of the priesthood of Christ, taken from the stock from

which he proceeded. The objection is this: If the Messiah is to

be a true priest, he must come from a legitimate stock, as all the

priests under the law have regularly done; otherwise we cannot

acknowledge him to be a priest: but Jesus of Nazareth has not

proceeded from such a stock; therefore we cannot acknowledge him

for a priest, the antitype of Aaron. To this objection the

apostle answers, that it was not necessary for the priest to come

from a particular stock, for Melchisedec was a priest of the most

high God, and yet was not of the stock, either of Abraham or

Aaron, but a Canaanite. It is well known that the ancient Hebrews

were exceedingly scrupulous in choosing their high priest; partly

by Divine command, and partly from the tradition of their

ancestors, who always considered this office to be of the highest

dignity. 1. God had commanded. Le 21:10, that the high priest

should be chosen from among their brethren, i.e. from the family

of Aaron; 2. that he should marry a virgin; 3. he must not marry a

widow; 4. nor a divorced person; 5. nor a harlot; 6. nor one of

another nation. He who was found to have acted contrary to these

requisitions was, jure divino, excluded from the pontificate. On

the contrary, it was necessary that he who desired this honour

should be able to prove his descent from the family of Aaron; and

if he could not, though even in the priesthood, he was cast out,

as we find from Ezr 2:62, and Ne 7:63.

To these Divine ordinances the Jews have added, 1. That no

proselyte could be a priest; 2. nor a slave; 3. nor a bastard;

4. nor the son of a Nethinim; 5. nor one whose father exercised

any base trade. And that they might be well assured of all this,

they took the utmost care to preserve their genealogies, which

were regularly kept in the archives of the temple. When any

person aspired to the sacerdotal function, his genealogical table

was carefully inspected; and, if any of the above blemishes were

found in him, he was rejected.

He who could not support his pretensions by just genealogical

evidences, was said by the Jews to be without father. Thus in

Bereshith Rabba, sect. 18, fol. 18, on these words, For this cause

shall a man leave father and mother, it is said: If a proselyte to

the Jewish religion have married his own sister, whether by the

same father or by the same mother, they cast her out according to

Rabbi Meir. But the wise men say if she be of the same mother,

they cast her out; but if of the same father, they retain her,

shein ab legoi, "for a Gentile has no father;" i.e.

his father is not reckoned in the Jewish genealogies. In this way

both Christ and Melchisedec were without father and without

mother; i.e. were not descended from the original Jewish

sacerdotal stock. Yet Melchisedec, who was a Canaanite, was a

priest of the most high God. This sense Suidas confirms under the

word Melchisedec, where, after having stated that, having reigned

in Salem 113 years, he died a righteous man and a bachelor,



ορμωμενονοθενουδεγενεαλογιαςηξιωτο, he adds, "He is,

therefore, said to be without descent or genealogy, because he was

not of the seed of Abraham, but of Canaanitish origin, and sprung

from an accursed seed; therefore he is without the honour of a

genealogy." And he farther adds, "That, because it would have

been highly improper for him, who was the most righteous of men,

to be joined in affinity to the most unrighteous of nations, he is

said to be απατορακαιαμητορα, without father and without

mother." This sort of phraseology was not uncommon when the

genealogy of a person was unknown or obscure; so Seneca, in his

108th epistle, speaking of some of the Roman kings, says: De

Servii matre dubitatur; Anci pater nullus dicitur. "Of the mother

of Servius Tullus there are doubts; and Ancus Marcus is said to

have no father." This only signifies that the parents were either

unknown or obscure. Titus Livius, speaking of Servius, says he

was born of a slave, named Cornicularia, da patre nullo, of no

father, i.e. his father was unknown. Horace is to be understood

in the same way:-

Ante potestatem Tulli, atque ignobile regnum,

Multos saepe viros, NULLIS MAJORIBUS ortos,

Et vixisse probos, amplis et honoribus auctos.

Serm. l. 1. Sat. vi., ver. 9.

Convinced that, long before the ignoble reign

And power of Tullius, from a servile strain

Full many rose, for virtue high renown'd,

By worth ennobled, and with honours crown'd.


The viri nullis majoribus orti, men sprung from no ancestors,

means simply men who were born of obscure or undistinguished

parents; i.e. persons, who had never been famous, nor of any

public account.

The old Syriac has given the true meaning by translating



Dela abuhi vela, emeh ethcathebu besharbotho.

Whose father and mother are not inscribed among the genealogies.

The Arabic is nearly the same:-


He had neither father nor mother; the genealogy not being reckoned.

The AEthiopic: He had neither father nor mother upon earth, nor

is his genealogy known.

As this passage has been obscure and troublesome to many, and I

have thought it necessary to show the meaning of such phraseology

by different examples, I shall, in order to give the reader fall

information on the subject, add a few observations from Dr. Owen.

"It is said of Melchisedec in the first place that he was

απατωραμητωρ, without father and without mother, whereon part

of the latter clause, namely, without beginning of days, doth

depend. But bow could a mortal man come into the world without

father or mother? 'Man that is born of a woman' is the

description of every man; what, therefore, can be intended! The

next word declares he was αγενεαλογητος. 'without descent,' say

we. But γενεαλογια is a generation, a descent, a pedigree, not

absolutely, but rehearsed, described, recorded. γενεαλογητος

is he whose stock and descent is entered on record. And so, on

the contrary, αγενεαλογητος is not he who has no descent, no

genealogy; but he whose descent and pedigree is nowhere entered,

recorded, reckoned up. Thus the apostle himself plainly expresses

this word, Heb 7:6: ομηγενεαλογουμενοςεξαυτων, 'whose descent

is not counted;' that is, reckoned up in record. Thus was

Melchisedec without father or mother, in that the Spirit of God,

who so strictly and exactly recorded the genealogies of other

patriarchs and types of Christ, and that for no less an end than

to manifest the truth and faithfulness of God in his promises,

speaks nothing to this purpose concerning him. He is introduced

as it were one falling from heaven, appearing on a sudden,

reigning in Salem, and officiating in the office of priesthood to

the high God.

"2. On the same account is he said to be μητεαρχηνημερωνμητε

ζωηςτελοςεχων, 'without beginning of days or end of life.' For

as he was a mortal man he had both. He was assuredly born, and

did no less certainly die than other men. But neither of these is

recorded concerning him. We have no more to do with him, to

learn from him, nor are concerned in him, but only as he is

described in the Scripture; and there is no mention therein of the

beginning of his days, or the end of his life. Whatever therefore

he might have in himself, he had none to us. Consider all the

other patriarchs mentioned in the writings of Moses, and you shall

find their descent recorded, who was their father, and so up to

the first man; and not only so, but the time of their birth, the

beginning of their days, and the end of their life, are exactly

recorded. For it is constantly said of them, such a one lived so

long, and begat such a son, which fixed the time of birth. Then

of him so begotten it is said, he lived so many years, which

determines the end of his days. These things are expressly

recorded. But concerning Melchisedec none of these things are

spoken. No mention is made of father or mother; no genealogy is

recorded of what stock or progeny he was; nor is there any account

of his birth or death. So that all these things are wanting to

him in his historical narration, wherein our faith and knowledge

are alone concerned."

Made like unto the Son of God] Melchisedec was without father

and mother, having neither beginning of days nor end of life. His

genealogy is not recorded; when he was born and when he died, is

unknown. His priesthood, therefore, may be considered as

perpetual. In these respects he was like to Jesus Christ, who, as

to his Godhead, had neither father nor mother, beginning of time

nor end of days; and has an everlasting priesthood. The

priesthood of Melchisedec is to abide continually on the same

ground that he is said to be without father and mother; i.e.

there is no record of the end of his priesthood or life, no more

than there is any account of his ancestry.

Verse 4. Consider how great this man was] There is something

exceedingly mysterious in the person and character of this king of

Salem; and to find out the whole is impossible. He seems to have

been a sort of universal priest, having none superior to him in

all that region; and confessedly superior even to Abraham himself,

the father of the faithful, and the source of the Jewish race.

See Heb 7:7.

The patriarch Abraham] οπατριαρχης. Either from πατηρ, a

father, and αρχη, a chief or head; or from πατριαςαρχη,

the head of a family.' But the title is here applied, by way of

eminence, to him who was the head or chief of all the fathers-or

patriarch of the patriarchs, and father of the faithful. The

Syriac translates it [Syriac] Rish Abahatha, "head of the

fathers." The character and conduct of Abraham place him, as a

man, deservedly at the head of the human race.

Verse 5. They that are of the sons of Levi] The priests who

are of the posterity of the Levites, and receive the priesthood in

virtue of their descent from Aaron, have authority from the law of

God to receive tithes from the people.

According to the law] That is, the Levites received a tenth

from the people. The priests received a tenth of this tenth from

the Levites, who are here called their brethren, because they were

of the same tribe, and employed in the same sacred work. The

apostle is proceeding to show that Melchisedec was greater even

than Abraham, the head of the fathers, for to him Abraham gave

tithes; and as the Levites were the posterity of Abraham, they are

represented here as paying tithes to Melchisedec through him. Yet

Melchisedec was not of this family, and therefore must be

considered as having a more honourable priesthood than even Aaron

himself; for he took the tenth from Abraham, not for his

maintenance, for he was a king, but in virtue of his office as

universal high priest of all that region.

Verse 6. Blessed him that had the promises.] This is a

continuation of the same argument, namely, to show the superiority

of Melchisedec; and, in consequence, to prove the superiority of

the priesthood of Christ beyond that of Aaron. As in the seed of

Abraham all the nations of the earth were to be blessed, Abraham

received a sacerdotal blessing from Melchisedec, who was the

representative of the Messiah, the promised seed, to show that it

was through him, as the high priest of the human race, that this

blessing was to be derived on all mankind.

Verse 7. The less is blessed of the better.] That the superior

blesses the inferior is a general proposition; but Abraham was

blessed of Melchisedec, therefore Melchisedec was greater than

Abraham. "The blessing here spoken of," says Dr. Macknight, "is

not the simple wishing of good to others, which may be done by

inferiors to superiors; but it is the action of a person

authorized to declare God's intention to bestow good things on

another. In this manner Isaac and Jacob blessed their children

under a prophetic impulse; in this manner the priests under the

law blessed the people; in this manner, likewise, Melchisedec, the

priest of the most high God, blessed Abraham."

Verse 8. Here men that die receive tithes] The apostle is

speaking of the ecclesiastical constitution of the Jews, which was

standing at the time this epistle was written. Under the Jewish

dispensation, though the priests were successively removed by

death, yet they were as duly replaced by others appointed from the

same family, and the payment of tithes was never interrupted. But

as there is no account of Melchisedec ceasing to be a priest, or

of his dying, he is represented as still living, the better to

point him out as a type of Christ, and to show his priesthood to

be more excellent than that which was according to the law, as an

unchanging priesthood must be more excellent than that which was

continually changing.

But there he receiveth them] The ωδε, here, in the first

clause of this verse refers to Mosaical institutions, as then

existing: the εκει, there, in this clause refers to the place in

Genesis (Ge 14:20) where it is related that Abraham gave

tithes to Melchisedec, who is still considered as being alive

or without a successor, because there is no account of his death,

nor of any termination of his priesthood.

Verse 9. And as I may so say] καιωςεποςειπειν. And so to

speak a word. This form of speech, which is very frequent among

the purest Greek writers, is generally used to soften some harsh

expression, or to limit the meaning when the proposition might

otherwise appear to be too general. It answers fully to our so to

speak-as one would say-I had almost said-in a certain sense. Many

examples of its use by Aristotle, Philo, Lucian, Josephus,

Demosthenes, AEschines, and Plutarch, may be seen in Raphelius and


Payed tithes in Abraham.] The Levites, who were descendants of

Abraham, paid tithes to Melchisedec δια through, Abraham, their

progenitor and representative.

Verse 10. For he was yet in the loins of his father] That is,

Levi was seminally included in Abraham, his forefather.

Verse 11. If therefore perfection were by the Levitical

priesthood] The word τελειωσις, as we have before seen, signifies

the completing or finishing of any thing, so as to leave nothing

imperfect, and nothing wanting. Applied here to the Levitical

priesthood, it signifies the accomplishment of that for which a

priesthood is established, viz.: giving the Deity an acceptable

service, enlightening and instructing the people, pardoning all

offences, purging the conscience from guilt, purifying the soul

and preparing it for heaven, and regulating the conduct of the

people according to the precepts of the moral law. This

perfection never came, and never could come, by the Levitical law;

it was the shadow of good things to come, but was not the

substance. It represented a perfect system, but was imperfect in

itself. It showed that there was guilt, and that there was an

absolute need for a sacrificial offering to atone for sin, and it

typified that sacrifice; but every sacrificial act under that law

most forcibly proved that it was impossible for the blood of BULLS

and GOATS to take away sin.

For under it the people received the law] That is, as most

interpret this place, under the priesthood, ιερωσυνη being

understood; because, on the priesthood the whole Mosaical law and

the Jewish economy depended: but it is much better to understand

επαυτη on account of it, instead of under it; for it is a

positive fact that the law was given before any priesthood was

established, for Aaron and his sons were not called nor separated

to this office till Moses came down the second time from the mount

with the tables renewed, after that he had broken them,

Ex 40:12-14.

But it was in reference to the great sacrificial system that the

law was given, and on that law the priesthood was established;

for, why was a priesthood necessary, but because that law was

broken and must be fulfilled?

That another priest should rise] The law was given that the

offence might abound, and sin appear exceeding sinful; and to show

the absolute necessity of the sacrifice and mediation of the great

Messiah, but it was neither perfect in itself, nor could it confer

perfection, nor did it contain the original priesthood.

Melchisedec had a priesthood more than four hundred years (422)

before the law was given; and David prophesied, Ps 110:4, that

another priest should arise after the order of Melchisedec, nearly

five hundred years (476) after the law was given. The law,

therefore, did not contain the original priesthood; this existed

typically in Melchisedec, and really in Jesus Christ.

Verse 12. The priesthood being changed] That is, The order of

Aaron being now abrogated, to make way for that which had preceded

it, the order of Melchisedec.

There is made of necessity a change also of the law.] The very

essence of the Levitical law consisting in its sacrificial

offerings; and as these could not confer perfection, could not

reconcile God to man, purify the unholy heart, nor open the

kingdom of heaven to the souls of men, consequently it must be

abolished, according to the order of God himself; for he said,

Sacrifice and offering, and burnt-offering, and sacrifice for sin,

he would not; see Ps 40:6, 7, compared with Heb 10:5-10, and

with Ps 110:4, where it is evident God designed to change both

the law and the priesthood, and to introduce Jesus as the only

Priest and Sacrifice, and to substitute the Gospel system for that

of the Levitical institutions. The priesthood, therefore, being

changed, Jesus coming in the place of Aaron, the law of ordinances

and ceremonies, which served only to point out the Messiah, must

of necessity be changed also.

Verse 13. For he of whom these things are spoken] That is,

Jesus the Messiah, spoken of in Ps 110:4, who came, not from the

tribe of Levi, but from the tribe of Judah, of which tribe no

priest ever ministered at a Jewish altar, nor could minister

according to the law.

Verse 14. For it is evident] As the apostle speaks here with

so much confidence, it follows that our Lord's descent from the

tribe of Judah was incontrovertible. The genealogical tables,

both in Matthew and Luke, establish this point; and whatever

difficulties we may find in them now, there were none apprehended

in those days, else the enemies of the Gospel would have urged

these as a chief and unanswerable argument against Christ and his


Verse 15. And it is yet far more evident] καιπερισσοτερονετι

καταδηλονεστιν. And besides, it is more abundantly strikingly

manifest. It is very difficult to translate these words, but the

apostle's meaning is plain, viz., that God designed the Levitical

priesthood to be changed, because of the oath in Psa. cx., where,

addressing the Messiah, he says: Thou art a Priest for ever after

the order, or ομοιοτητα, similitude, of Melchisedec, who was not

only a priest, but also a king. None of the Levitical priests

sustained this double office; but they both, with that of prophet,

appear and were exercised in the person of our Lord, who is the

Priest to which the apostle alludes.

Verse 16. Who is made] Appointed to this high office by God

himself, not succeeding one that was disabled or dead, according

to that law or ordinance directed to weak and perishing men, who

could not continue by reason of death.

This is probably all that the apostle intends by the words

carnal commandment, εντοληςσαρκικης, for carnal does not always

mean sinful or corrupt, but feeble, frail, or what may be said of

or concerning man in his present dying condition.

But after the power of an endless life.] Not dying, or ceasing

through weakness to be a priest; but properly immortal himself,

and having the power to confer life and immortality on others. HE

ever lives, as Priest, to make intercession for men; and they who

believe on him shall never perish, but have everlasting life.

Verse 17. For he testifieth] That is, either the Scripture, in

the place so often quoted, or God by that Scripture.

Thou art a priest for ever] This is the proof that he was not

appointed according to the carnal commandment, but according to

the power of an endless life, because he is a priest for ever;

i.e. one that never dies, and is never disabled from performing

the important functions of his office; for if he be a priest for

ever, he ever lives.

Verse 18. For there is verily a disannulling] There is a total

abrogation, προαγουσηςεντολης, of the former law, relative to the

Levitical priesthood. See Heb 7:19.

For the weakness] It had no energy; it communicated none; it

had no Spirit to minister; it required perfect obedience, but

furnished no assistance to those who were under it.

And unprofitableness] No man was benefited by the mere

observance of its precepts: it pardoned no sin, changed no heart,

reformed no life; it found men dead in trespasses and sins, and it

consigned them to eternal death. It was therefore weak in itself,

and unprofitable to men.

The Jews, who still cleave to it, are a proof that it is both

weak and unprofitable; for there is not a more miserable,

distressed, and profligate class of men on the face of the earth.

Verse 19. For the law made nothing perfect] It completed

nothing; it was only the outline of a great plan, the shadow of a

glorious substance; see on Heb 7:11. It neither pardoned sin, nor

purified the heart, nor gave strength to obey the moral precepts.

ουδεν, nothing, is put here for ουδενα, no person.

But the bringing in of a better hope] The original is very

emphatic, επεισαγωγη, the superintroduction, or the after

introduction; and this seems to be put in opposition to the

προαγουσαεντολη, the preceding commandment, or former Levitical

law, of Heb 7:18.

This went before to prepare the way of the Lord; to show the

exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the strict justice of God. The

better hope, which referred not to earthly but to spiritual good,

not to temporal but eternal felicity, founded on the priesthood

and atonement of Christ, was afterwards introduced for the purpose

of doing what the law could not do, and giving privileges and

advantages which the law would not afford. One of these

privileges immediately follows:-

By the which we draw nigh unto God.] This is a sacerdotal

phrase: the high priest alone could approach to the Divine

presence in the holy of holies; but not without the blood of the

sacrifice, and that only once in the year. But through Christ, as

our high priest, all believers in him have an entrance to the

holiest by his blood; and through him perform acceptable service

to God. The better hope means, in this place, Jesus Christ, who

is the author and object of the hope of eternal life, which all

his genuine followers possess. He is called our hope, 1Ti 1:1;

Col 1:27.

Verse 20. Not without an oath] "The apostle's reasoning here

is founded on this, that God never interposed his oath, except to

show the certainty and immutability of the thing sworn. Thus he

sware to Abraham, Ge 22:16-18,

that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed;

and to the rebellious Israelites, De 1:34, 35,

that they should not enter into his rest; and to Moses, De 4:21,

that he should not go into Canaan; and to David, Ps 89:4, that

his seed should endure for ever, and his throne unto all

generations. Wherefore, since Christ was made a priest, not

without an oath that he should be a priest for ever, after the

similitude of Melchisedec, that circumstance showed God's

immutable resolution never to change or abolish his priesthood,

nor to change or abolish the covenant which was established on his

priesthood; whereas the Levitical priesthood and the law of Moses,

being established without an oath, were thereby declared to be

changeable at God's pleasure." This judicious note is from Dr.


Verse 21. Those priests] The Levitical, were made without an

oath, to show that the whole system was changeable, and might be


But this] The everlasting priesthood of Christ, with an oath,

to show that the Gospel dispensation should never change, and

never be abolished.

By him] God the Father, that said unto him-the promised

Messiah, Ps 110:4,

The Lord sware, to show the immutability of his counsel, and will

not repent-can never change his mind nor purpose, Thou art a

priest for ever-as long as time shall run, and the generations of

men be continued on earth. Till the necessity of the mediatorial

kingdom be superseded by the fixed state of eternity, till this

kingdom be delivered up unto the Father, and God shall be all in

all, shall this priesthood of Christ endure.

Verse 22. By so much] This solemn, unchangeable oath of God,

was Jesus made a surety, εγγυος, a mediator, one who brings the

two parties together, witnesses the contract, and offers the

covenant sacrifice on the occasion. See at the end of the chapter.

A better testament.] κρειττονοςδιατηκης. A better covenant;

called, in the title to the sacred books which contain the whole

Christian code, ηκαινηδιαθηκη, THE NEW COVENANT, thus

contradistinguished from the Mosaic, which was the old covenant;

and this is called the new and better covenant, because God has in

it promised other blessings, to other people, on other conditions,

than the old covenant did. The new covenant is better than the old

in the following particulars: 1. God promised to the Jewish nation

certain secular blessings, peculiar to that nation, on condition

of their keeping the law of Moses; but under the new covenant he

promises pardon of sin, and final salvation to all mankind, on

condition of believing on Jesus Christ, and walking in his

testimonies. 2. The Jewish priests, fallible, dying men, were

mediators of the old covenant, by means of their sacrifices, which

could not take away sin, nor render the comers thereunto perfect.

But Jesus Christ, who liveth for ever, who is infinite in wisdom

and power, by the sacrifice of himself has established this new

covenant, and by the shedding of his blood has opened the kingdom

of heaven to all believers.

Verse 23. And they truly were many priests] Under the Mosaic

law it was necessary there should be a succession of priests,

because, being mortal, they were not suffered to continue always

by reason of death.

Verse 24. But this] οδε, But he, that is, Christ, because

he continueth ever-is eternal, hath an unchangeable priesthood,

απαραβατονιερωσυνην, a priesthood that passeth not away from him;

he lives for ever, and he lives a priest for ever.

Verse 25. Wherefore] Because he is an everlasting priest, and

has offered the only available sacrifice, he is able to save, from

the power, guilt, nature, and punishment of sin, to the uttermost,

ειςτοπαντελες, to all intents, degrees, and purposes; and

always, and in and through all times, places, and circumstances;

for all this is implied in the original word: but in and through

all times seems to be the particular meaning here, because of what

follows, he ever liveth to make intercession for them; this

depends on the perpetuity of his priesthood, and the continuance

of his mediatorial office. As Jesus was the Lamb of God slain

from the foundation of the world, has an everlasting priesthood,

and is a continual intercessor; it is in virtue of this that all

who were saved from the foundation of the world were saved through

him, and all that shall be saved to the end of the world will be

saved through him. He ever was and ever will be the High Priest,

Sacrifice, Intercessor, and Mediator of the human race. All

successive generations of men are equally interested in him, and

may claim the same privileges. But none can be saved by his grace

that do not come unto God through him; i.e. imploring mercy

through him as their sacrifice and atonement; confidently trusting

that God can be just, and yet the justifier of them who thus come

to him, believing on Christ Jesus.

The phrase εντυγχανειντινι, to make intercession for a person,

has a considerable latitude of meaning. It signifies, 1. To come

to or meet a person on any cause whatever. 2. To intercede, pray

for, or entreat in the behalf of, another. 3. To defend or

vindicate a person. 4. To commend. 5. To furnish any kind of

assistance or help. 6. And, with the preposition κατα,

against, to accuse, or act against another in a judicial way.

"The nature of the apostle's arguments," says Dr. Macknight,

"requires that, by Christ's always living, we understand his

always living in the body; for it is thus that he is an

affectionate and sympathizing High Priest, who, in his

intercession, pleads the merit of his death to procure the

salvation of all who come unto God through him. Agreeably to this

account of Christ's intercession, the apostle, in Heb 7:27,

mentions the sacrifice of himself, which Christ offered for the

sins of the people as the foundation of his intercession. Now, as

he offered that sacrifice in heaven, Heb 8:2, 3, by presenting

his crucified body there, (See "Heb 8:5",) and as he continually

resides there in the body, some of the ancients were of opinion

that his continual intercession consists in the continual

presentation of his humanity before his Father, because it is a

continual declaration of his earnest desire of the salvation of

men, and of his having, in obedience to his Father's will, made

himself flesh, and suffered death to accomplish it. See "Ro 8:34",

note 3. This opinion is confirmed by the manner in which the

Jewish high priest made intercession for the people on the day of

atonement, and which was a type of Christ's intercession in heaven.

He made it, not by offering of prayers for them in the most holy

place, but by sprinkling the blood of the sacrifices on the

mercy-seat, in token of their death. And as, by that action,

he opened the earthly holy places to the prayers and worship of

the Israelites during the ensuing year; so Jesus, by presenting

his humanity continually before the presence of his Father, opens

heaven to the prayers of his people in the present life, and to

their persons after the resurrection."

Verse 26. Such a high priest became us] Such a high priest was

in every respect suitable to us, every way qualified to accomplish

the end for which he came into the world. There is probably here

an allusion to the qualifications of the Jewish high priest:-

1. He was required to be holy, οσιος, answering to the Hebrew

chasid, merciful. Holiness was his calling; and, as he was

the representative of his brethren, he was required to be merciful

and compassionate.

2. He was to be harmless, ακακος, without evil-holy without,

and holy within; injuring none, but rather living for the benefit

of others.

3. He was undefiled, αμιαντος answering to the Hebrew

baal mum, without blemish-having no bodily imperfection. Nothing

low, mean, base, or unbecoming in his conduct.

4. He was separate from sinners, κεχωρισμενοςαποτωναμαρτωλων.

By his office he was separated from all men and worldly

occupations, and entirely devoted to the service of God. And as

to sinners, or heathens, he was never to be found in their society.

5. Higher than the heavens. There may be some reference here to

the exceeding dignity of the high priesthood; it was the highest

office that could be sustained by man, the high priest himself

being the immediate representative of God.

But these things suit our Lord in a sense in which they cannot

be applied to the high priest of the Jews.

1. He was holy, infinitely so; and merciful, witness his

shedding his blood for the sins of mankind.

2. Harmless-perfectly without sin in his humanity, as well as

his divinity.

3. Undefiled-contracted no sinful infirmity in consequence of

his dwelling among men.

4. Separate from sinners-absolutely unblamable in the whole of

his conduct, so that he could challenge the most inveterate of his

enemies with, Which of you convicteth me of sin? Who of you can

show in my conduct the slightest deviation from truth and


5. Higher than the heavens-more exalted than all the angels of

God, than all created beings, whether thrones, dominions,

principalities, or powers, because all these were created by him

and for him, and derive their continued subsistence from his

infinite energy.

But how was a person of such infinite dignity suitable to us!

His greatness is put in opposition to our meanness. HE was holy;

WE, unholy. HE was harmless; WE, harmful, injuring both

ourselves and others. HE was undefiled; WE, defiled, most sinfully

spotted and impure. HE was separate from sinners; WE were joined

to sinners, companions of the vile, the worthless, the profane,

and the wicked. HE was higher than the heavens; WE, baser and

lower than the earth, totally unworthy to be called the creatures

of God. And had we not had such a Saviour, and had we not been

redeemed at an infinite price, we should, to use the nervous

language of Milton on another occasion, "after a shameful life and

end in this world, have been thrown down eternally into the

darkest and deepest gulf of hell, where, under the despiteful

control, the trample and spurn, of all the other damned, and in

the anguish of their torture should have no other ease than to

exercise a raving and bestial tyranny over us as their slaves, we

must have remained in that plight for ever, the basest, the

lower-most, the most dejected, most under-foot and down-trodden

vassals of perdition." MILTON on Reformation, in fine.

Verse 27. Who needeth not daily] Though the high priest

offered the great atonement only once in the year, yet in the

Jewish services there was a daily acknowledgment of sin, and a

daily sacrifice offered by the priests, at whose head was the high

priest, for their own sins and the sins of the people. The Jews

held that a priest who neglected his own expiatory sacrifice would

be smitten with death. (Sanhedr., fol. 83.) When they offered

this victim, they prayed the following prayer: "O Lord, I have

sinned, and done wickedly, and gone astray before thy face, I, and

my house, and the sons of Aaron, the, people of thy holiness. I

beseech thee, for thy name's sake, blot out the sins, iniquities,

and transgressions by which I have sinned, done wickedly, and gone

astray before thy face, I, and my house, and the sons of Aaron,

the people of thy holiness; as it is written in the law of Moses

thy servant, (Le 16:30:)

On that day shall he make an atonement for you, to cleanse you,

that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord!" To

which the Levites answered: "Blessed be the name of the glory of

thy kingdom, for ever and ever!"

This prayer states that the priest offered a sacrifice, first

for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people, as the

apostle asserts.

For this he did once] For himself he offered no sacrifice; and

the apostle gives the reason-he needed none, because he was holy,

harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners: and for the people

he offered himself once for all, when he expired upon the cross,

It has been very properly remarked, that the sacrifice offered

by Christ differed in four essential respects from those, offered

by the Jewish priests: 1. He offered no sacrifice for himself, but

only for the people. 2. He did not offer that sacrifice annually,

but once for all. 3. The sacrifice which he offered was not of

calves and goats, but of himself. 4. This sacrifice he offered,

not for one people, but for the whole human race; for he tasted

death for every man.

Verse 28. For the law maketh men high priests] The Jewish

priests have need of these repeated offerings and sacrifices,

because they are fallible, sinful men: but the word of the oath

(still referring to Ps 110:4)

which was since the law; for David, who mentions this, lived

nearly 500 years after the giving of the law, and consequently

that oath, constituting another priesthood, abrogates the law; and

by this the SON is consecrated, τετελειωμενον, is perfected, for

evermore. Being a high priest without blemish, immaculately holy,

every way perfect, immortal, and eternal, HE is a priest ειςτον

αιωνα, to ETERNITY.

I. THERE are several respects in which the apostle shows the

priesthood of Christ to be more excellent than that of the Jews,

which priesthood was typified by that of Melchisedec.

1. Being after the order of Melchisedec, there was no need of a

rigorous examination of his genealogy to show his right.

2. He has an eternal priesthood; whereas theirs was but temporal.

3. The other priests, as a token of the dignity of their office,

and their state of dependence on God, received tithes from the

people. Melchisedec, a priest and king, after whose order Christ

comes, tithed Abraham, δεδεκατωκετοναβρααμ, the father of the

patriarchs; Jesus, infinitely greater than all, having an absolute

and independent life, needs none. He is no man's debtor, but all

receive out of his fulness.

4. He alone can bless the people, not by praying for their good

merely, but by communicating the good which is necessary.

5. As another priesthood, different from that of Aaron, was

promised, it necessarily implies that the Levitical priesthood was

insufficient; the priesthood of Christ, being that promised, must

be greater than that of Aaron.

6. That which God has appointed and consecrated with an oath, as

to endure for ever, must be greater than that which he has

appointed simply for a time: but the priesthood of Christ is thus

appointed; therefore, &c.

7. All the Levitical priests were fallible and sinful men; but

Christ was holy and undefiled.

8. The Levitical priests were only by their office distinguished

from the rest of their brethren, being equally frail, mortal, and

corruptible; but Jesus, our high priest, is higher than the

heavens. The statements from which these differences are drawn

are all laid down in this chapter.

II. As the word surety, εγγυος, in Heb 7:22, has been often

abused, or used in an unscriptural and dangerous sense, it may not

be amiss to inquire a little farther into its meaning. The Greek

word εγγυος, from εγγυη, a pledge, is supposed to be so called

from being lodged ενγυιοις, in the hands of the creditor. It is

nearly of the same meaning with bail, and signifies an engagement

made by C. with A. that B. shall fulfil certain conditions then

and there specified, for which C. makes himself answerable; if,

therefore, B. fails, C. becomes wholly responsible to A. In such

suretiship it is never designed that C. shall pay any debt or

fulfil any engagement that belongs to B.; but, if B. fail, then C.

becomes responsible, because he had pledged himself for B. In

this scheme A. is the person legally empowered to take the bail or

pledge, B. the debtor, and C. the surety. The idea therefore of

B. paying his own debt, is necessarily implied in taking the

surety. Were it once to be supposed that the surety undertakes

absolutely to pay the debt, his suretiship is at an end, and he

becomes the debtor; and the real debtor is no longer bound. Thus

the nature of the transaction becomes entirely changed, and we

find nothing but debtor and creditor in the case. In this sense,

therefore, the word εγγυος, which we translate surety, cannot be

applied in the above case, for Christ never became surety that, if

men did not fulfil the conditions of this better covenant, i.e.

repent of sin, turn from it, believe on the Son of God, and having

received grace walk as children of the light, and be faithful unto

death, he would do all these things for them himself! This would

be both absurd and impossible: and hence the gloss of some here is

both absurd and dangerous, viz., "That Christ was the surety of

the first covenant to pay the debt; of the second, to perform the

duty." That it cannot have this meaning in the passage in

question is sufficiently proved by Dr. Macknight; and instead of

extending my own reasoning on the subject, I shall transcribe his


"The Greek commentators explain this word εγγυος very properly

by μεσιτης, a mediator, which is its etymological meaning; for it

comes from εγγυς, near, and signifies one who draws near, or who

causes another to draw near. Now, as in this passage a comparison

is stated between Jesus as a high priest, and the Levitical high

priests; and as these were justly considered by the apostle as the

mediators of the Sinaitic covenant, because through their

mediation the Israelites worshipped God with sacrifices, and

received from him, as their king, a political pardon, in

consequence of the sacrifices offered by the high priest on the

day of atonement; it is evident that the apostle in this passage

calls Jesus the High Priest, or Mediator of the better covenant,

because through his mediation, that is, through the sacrifice of

himself which he offered to God, believers receive all the

blessings of the better covenant. And as the apostle has said,

Heb 7:19,

that by the introduction of a better hope, εγγιζομεν, we draw near

to God; he in this verse very properly calls Jesus εγγυος, rather

than μεσιτης, to denote the effect of his mediation. See Heb 7:25.

Our translators indeed, following the Vulgate and Beza, have

rendered εγγυος by the word surety, a sense which it has, Ecclus.

29:16, and which naturally enough follows from its etymological

meaning; for the person who becomes surety for the good behaviour

of another, or for his performing something stipulated, brings

that other near to the party to whom he gives the security; he

reconciles the two. But in this sense the word εγγυος is not

applicable to the Jewish high priests; for to be a proper surety,

one must either have power to compel the party to perform that for

which he has become his surety; or, in case of his not performing

it, he must be able to perform it himself. This being the ease,

will any one say that the Jewish high priests were sureties to God

for the Israelites performing their part of the covenant of the

law! Or to the people for God's performing his part of the

covenant! As little is the appellation, surety of the new

covenant, applicable to Jesus. For since the new covenant does

not require perfect obedience, but only the obedience of faith;

if the obedience of faith be not given by men themselves, it

cannot be given by another in their room; unless we suppose that

men can be saved without personal faith. I must therefore infer,

that those who speak of Jesus as the surety of the new covenant,

must hold that it requires perfect obedience; which, not being in

the power of believers to give, Jesus has performed for them. But

is not this to make the covenant of grace a covenant of works,

contrary to the whole tenor of Scripture! For these reasons I

think the Greek commentators have given the true meaning of the

word εγγνος, in this passage, when they explain it by μεσιτης,


The chief difference lies here. The old covenant required

perfect obedience from the very commencement of life; this is

impossible, because man comes into the world depraved. The new

covenant declares God's righteousness for the remission of sins

that are past; and furnishes grace to enable all true believers to

live up to all the requisitions of the moral law, as found in the

gospels. But in this sense Christ cannot be called the surety,

for the reasons given above; for he does not perform the obedience

or faith in behalf of any man. It is the highest privilege of

believers to love God with all their hearts, and to serve him with

all their strength; and to remove their obligation to keep this

moral law would be to deprive them of the highest happiness they

can possibly have on this side heaven.

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