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THE PRIESTHOOD OF MELCHISEDEC
Victor M. Eskew
IV. THE ANTITHESIS BETWEEN THE PRIESTHOODS (Heb. 7:18-28)
A. The Law versus The Better Hope (Heb. 7:18-19)
B. With an Oath versus Without an Oath (Heb. 7:20-22)
1. Priest by an oath (Heb. 7:20)
And insomuch as not without an oath he was made a priest.
a. The word “and” starts the author’s second point in the contrast between the Levitical priesthood and the priesthood of Melchizedek.
b. The author states a double negative: “not without an oath.” This means that he was made a priest with an oath.
1) Strong (3708): asserveration on oath
2) Thayer: affirmation made on oath
d. In this verse, the writer does not specifically say what the oath is, but he does in the second part of Hebrews 7:21.
…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.
1) The oath is found in Psalm 110:4.
The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
a) The word “sworn” means “to seven one’s self,” that is, to repeat seven times.
b) When God swore with an oath
- It showed the certainty and the immutability of the thing.
- It also showed the unchangeable nature of the priesthood of Melchizedek. This priesthood will last forever.
2) This oath is what makes the priesthood of Melchizedek greater than the Levitical priesthood.
2. Priests without an oath (Heb. 7:21a)
(For those priests were made without an oath...
a. “The Levitical priest were set apart and consecrated without their office being confirmed to them by an oath on the part of God. They received it by regular descent, and when they arrived at a suitable age they entered on it of course” (Barnes, e-sword).
b. Not so with Jesus. The Lord swore and will not repent of His oath.
1) The word “repent” means “to have a change of mind.”
2) The Lord will not change His mind about the everlasting priesthood of Melchizedek, the priesthood of which Jesus is a high priest.
3. Pledge of the New Testament (Heb. 7:22)
By so much was Jesus made the surety of a better testament.
a. God did many things to make the new covenant superior to the old.
1) This is what is meant in the words “by so much.”
2) One of those things was the oath. It was seemingly insignificant, but, in reality, it was extremely significant.
b. Jesus had been reinforced by God as “a surety of a better testament.”
a) Strong (1450): pledge, bondsman
b) Thayer: A surety, a sponsor
c) We often refer to a surety as a co-signer.
- We co-sign for our children to get a car or house.
- The surety is the guarantee for the other person.
2) Jesus is the guarantee of the New Testament.
a) “Jesus is become the surety of a better testament; that is, in his person security is given to man that a better covenant is made and sanctioned by God (Lunemann as quoted by Milligan, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, p. 268).
b) Just in this chapter alone we have seen Jesus as
- Better than Abraham because of His connection to the priesthood of Melchizedek
- One who has an endless life
- One confirmed by God with an oath
- NOTE: We will see more about Jesus in the last two verses.
C. Many Priests (death) versus One Priest (ever liveth) (Heb. 7:23-25)
1. Continually changing (Heb. 7:23)
And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death.
a. The Levitical priesthood was weak in that the office of a priest was held by men who were temporal, not eternal.
b. The priests eventually died.
1) Aaron (Num. 33:39)
And Aaron was an hundred and twenty and three years old when he died in mount Hor.
2) Eleazar, Aaron’s son, became high priest (Num. 3:32). He, too, died in the land of Canaan (Josh. 24:33).
And Eleazar the son of Aaron died, and they buried him in a hill that pertaineth to Phinehas his son, which was given him in mount Ephraim.
3) One list of high priests from Aaron to A.D. 70 gave 79 names of different men. Josephus lists some 83 high priests. All of them are dead.
c. Death was the enemy of the Levitical priesthood. It caused the priesthood to be in constant flux.
2. Continueth ever (Heb. 7:24)
But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.
a. This man (one) in contrast to “many priests.”
b. Continueth ever in contrast to “by reason of death.”
c. An unchangeable priesthood in contrast to one in a constant state of change.
3. Conclusion of great importance (Heb. 7:25)
Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.