Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 27 June 2022; Revised 16 November 2022
Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. All other Scripture quotations are from the NASB Updated Edition (1995, NASU), unless otherwise indicated. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important early Jewish sources include the following:
● DSS: the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last three centuries B.C. and the first century A.D. Online DSS Bible.
● LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. Online.
● Josephus: The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.), Jewish historian, trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
● Philo: Works by Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, the Jewish philosopher (20 B.C.─A.D. 50), consisting of 45 monographs. Online.
● MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began under Rabbi Akiva (2nd c. A.D.), but completed by scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from the 9th century. Online.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Hebrew and Jewish nature of the entire Bible I use the terms Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), Torah (Pentateuch, Law), ADONAI (for the sacred name in Tanakh verses), and Besekh (New Testament).
Please see the Introduction for background information on the letter. This commentary assumes that Paul the apostle wrote the letter in the Hebrew language and Luke translated it into Jewish Greek.
Having made mention of Melchizedek in the last part of the previous chapter, Paul proceeds to give an account of him drawn from the narrative of Genesis 14 in order to establish that Melchizedek is the preeminent type of priesthood for Yeshua. To frame his argument he first presents several points that explain the greatness of Melchizedek in contrast to Abraham and Levi. Paul then offers reasons why a new priesthood after the order of Melchizedek was necessary, which also required a change in the Torah requirement for the priesthood. Finally, Paul offers several reasons why Yeshua, the Son of God, is superior as our High Priest, even though he was not of the tribe of Levi.
The Greatness of Melchizedek, 7:1-10
The Need for a New High Priest, 7:11-19
The Superiority of the Son's Priesthood, 7:20-28
The Greatness of Melchizedek, 7:1-10
1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of God Most High, having met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and having blessed him,
Reference: Genesis 14:17-18
For: Grk. gar, conj., a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that; for." The conjunction has an explanatory use here. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. The pronoun refers back to the content of 6:20. Melchizedek: Grk. Melchisedek, a transliteration of Heb. Malki-tsedeq (SH-4442), "king of righteousness." The name of Melchizedek occurs only twice in the Tanakh (Gen 14:18; Ps 110:4) and appears eight times in the Besekh, all in the letter Hebrews.
The first mention of Melchizedek in extra-biblical literature is in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Qumran document 11Q13 (aka 11QMelch), dated about 100 BC, sets forth a kingdom theology in which Melchizedek is the heavenly deliverer in the last days. Melchizedek is "Your Elohim" who will deliver the sons of righteousness from Belial in the year of Jubilee (§24-25). Some scholars assert that the content in Hebrews concerning Melchizedek reflects familiarity with the Essenes and their ideas (Stern 934). However, Paul does not reflect dependence on Essene beliefs, but grounds his exposition in Scripture aided by divine revelation.
The next mention of Melchizedek in extra-biblical literature is in the book of Second Enoch (§71-72), a Jewish sectarian work dated in the 1st century A.D. (Eisenbaum 414). See the background information on the book here. 2Enoch recounts that Melchizedek was miraculously born of his dead mother, a virgin and sister-in-law of Noah, a priest from birth, and was kept safe from the deluge by Gabriel (without having to be in Noah's Ark) in order to be the priest in the post-flood generation. However, beginning in the mid-second century A.D. Jewish literature identified Melchizedek with Shem, whose father and genealogy are certainly known. See the Additional Note below: "The Myth of Shem as Melchizedek."
Targum Onkelos, Philo (Allegorical Interpretations III, §79-82), and Josephus (Ant. I, 10:2), all in the first century, treat Melchizedek as a genuine historical personality without adding to the Tanakh references. Paul now sets forth through verse 10 twelve specific points of description that indicate the greatness of Melchizedek in contrast to both Abraham and Aaron and as foundational to explaining the superiority of Yeshua as high priest. This verse contains four important affirmations about Melchizedek. The first mention is of his royal status.
king: Grk. basileus, king or chief ruler. In the LXX basileus appears frequently to translate Heb. melek (SH-4428), first in Genesis 14:1. In the Tanakh the title "king" was not associated with the size of territory governed, but the authority wielded. A monarchy controlled the executive, judicial and legislative functions of government. of Salem: Grk. Salēm, which transliterates Heb. Shalem (SH-8004, "peaceful") and occurs only twice in the LXX (Gen 14:18; Ps 76:2). The name is obviously an ancient name of the city of Jerusalem (Gesenius 830; Keil 132; Delitzsch 509). Josephus also affirms that afterward Salem was called Jerusalem (Ant. I, 10:2).
Henry Morris comments that it is extraordinary that Melchizedek should become king of a city in the land settled by idolatrous descendants of Canaan (cf. Gen 10:15) (TGR 318). Scripture and archaeology indicate that the area was inhabited by the Jebusites and this tribe was among those that Israel was later charged with expelling from the land (Ex 23:23; 33:2). The Jebusites were not completely defeated until the time of David (2Sam 5:7). The character of Melchizedek no doubt made him stand out in the culture as Noah in his time (Gen 6:9), but Scripture does not explain how Melchizedek became king.
priest: Grk. hiereus (from hieros, "sacred"), person who offers sacrifice to a deity at a place of worship and in general is occupied with sacred rites; priest. In the LXX hiereus translates Heb. kohen (SH-3548), priest, first in Genesis 14:18 in reference to Melchizedek. While hiereus might mean an ordinary priest in contrast to a high priest, the following qualification denotes an extraordinary priestly office.
of God: Grk. ho theos, properly, God, the Creator and owner of all things (John 1:1-3). In the LXX theos primarily translates the name of the Creator God Elohim (SH-430; Gen 1:1), but in Genesis 14:18 the Hebrew term is El (SH-410), which was in common use from antiquity by many people groups. El is a Person, not a philosophical construct for monotheism. The name El occurs 248 times in the Tanakh and primarily refers to the one only and true God of Israel (BDB 42).
Most High: Grk. ho hupsistos, adj., a superlative that means being positioned at the uttermost upward point in status, generally translated as "Most High" as a name for God. In the LXX hupsistos translates the Heb. Elyon. The adjective signifies that God is the creator of heaven and earth (Gen 14:18), that God is exalted above all earthly monarchs and rules the earth (Gen 14:22; Ps 47:2; 83:18; 86:18; Dan 4:17; 5:21), that God dwells in the highest heavens (Deut 10:14; Ps 46:4), and that God is superior to all other celestial beings (Ps 97:9).
In the Tanakh the Hebrew name Elyon occurs often as a synonym of Elohim and YHVH (e.g. Num 24:16). Hegg points out that El Elyon is identified with YHVH in the statement Abraham made to the king of Sodom, "I have sworn to YHVH El Elyon, possessor of heaven and earth" (Gen 14:22). Thus, Abraham identifies the God he serves by that name.
Most Christian versions translate tou Theou tou Hupsistou as "the Most High God," but all Messianic Jewish versions and a few Christian versions (CSB, NIV, NLT) reproduce the Hebrew word order in Genesis 14:18 of El Elyon with "God Most High." Another extraordinary feature of this narrative is that these three Hebrew words, kohen ("priest"), El ("God") and Elyon ("Most High") occur first in the Bible in the narrative of Melchizedek. Taken together the words kôhên l'êl elyôn provide a strong theological hint of the role of the heavenly high priest.
Coke suggests that being a priest of El Elyon implies that Melchizedek was appointed to the office in such a public manner, that all the worshippers of the true God in Canaan knew him to be a priest of El Elyon. And since there was no covenant community formed in which Melchizedek could officiate, his ordination to the priest's office authorized him to officiate everywhere, for all the worshippers of the true God who applied to him. In this respect, therefore, Melchizedek was a greater priest than Aaron and his descendants, since their priesthood was confined to the single nation of Israel.
The fact that Melchizedek was a king meant that he could not have been an ordinary priest, but of necessity had to be comparable to a high priest (Meyer). There are only a few priests mentioned in the Tanakh who are identified as the priest of a geographical location. Besides Melchizedek, there is Potiphera, priest of On (a city in northern Egypt) (Gen 41:45), Jethro, priest of Midian (Ex 3:1) and Amaziah, priest of Bethel (Amos 7:10). None of these men were recognized as kings.
Stern notes that in Israelite culture of the Tanakh, the offices of king and priest were not combined (575). Ordinarily God did not sanction a king of the Hebrew people acting in a priestly capacity. For example, King Saul sacrificed a burnt offering in his impatience while waiting on Samuel, who upon his arrival rebuked Saul for his presumption and declared that because of his disobedience his kingdom would not endure (1Sam 13:8-14). When King Uzziah dared to offer incense in the Temple (2Chr 26:16-21), the high priest confronted him and God afflicted him with a skin disease.
Bruce presents the argument that when Jerusalem fell into David's hands and became his capital city (2Sam 5:6-8), he and his heirs became successors of Melchizedek's kingship and in a titular capacity of the priesthood of God Most High (95). The passage in Samuel affirms that David appointed his sons as Kohanim and God did not oppose this action. David's priestly connection may have been hinted before his coronation when he ate the consecrated bread reserved for priests (1Sam 21:4-6).
After accession to the throne David's leadership in the religious sphere was especially noteworthy. He erected the tent for the ark of the covenant in Jerusalem, and on that day sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings before ADONAI (2Sam 6:17), which God accepted. He thus centralized religion in Jerusalem. He then established Levitical choirs, by appointing some of the sons of Asaph and of Heman as sacred singers and musicians (1Chr 25:1). David personally contributed to the worship of Israel with his many psalms (2Sam 23:1). David could be described as a priestly-king.
Relative to Melchizedek holding both offices of king and high priest, Zechariah prophesied that the Messianic figure called "Branch" will be a priest that sits on a throne, thus joining the two offices together in peace (Zech 6:13). Only the Messiah can be both king and priest in the present age and the age to come.
having met: Grk. ho sunantaō, aor. part., to come upon so as to be face to face with someone at some point, here without any suggestion of a previous agreement on location. Abraham: Grk. Abraam, a transliteration of Heb. Avraham (SH-85), a personal name. The first Hebrew patriarch, he was the son of Terah, a descendant of Noah's son, Shem (Gen 11:27). He grew up in Ur of the Chaldees, a prominent Sumerian city. His birth name was Abram ("father is exalted"), but his name was later changed to Abraham ("father of a multitude") (Gen 17:5). At this time Abraham lived in Mamre, about 20 miles south of Salem in the Judean hill country. For more information on the great patriarch see my article The Story of Abraham.
returning: Grk. hupostrephō (from hupo, "by, under, about" and strephō, "to turn"), pres. part., to go back to a position, to return or turn back. In the LXX hupostrephō generally translates Heb. shuv (SH-7725), to turn back or return, first in Genesis 43:12. The LXX text of Genesis 14:17 (to which Paul alludes) translates Heb. shuv with apostrephō ("turn away"). from: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of separation, from, away from. the slaughter: Grk. ho kopē, a cutting in pieces, used of deadly military action; slaughter, smiting. Some versions minimize the reality and horror of ancient warfare with the translation of "defeat" or "defeating" (e.g., CEB, CSB, GW, GNB, NOG, NABRE, NCV, NET, NIV, NRSV, TLV).
of the kings: pl. of Grk. ho basileus. The "kings" referenced are Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim (Gen 14:1). These kings invaded the Valley of Siddim, which included Sodom and Gomorrah, and in so doing captured Abram's nephew Lot. In response Abram left his home with a force of 318 trained men, pursued the invaders 140 miles as far as the ancient city of Dan, even as far as Chovah, which is north of Damascus, and gained a decisive victory (Gen 14:14-15).
Abraham's return trip to Mamre took him through a valley on the northern side of Salem. The meeting between Melchizedek and Abraham was a providential appointment. Abraham did not go into Salem, but Melchizedek would not have been ignorant of what happened in the region he ruled. So the meeting was purposeful on the part of Melchizedek. Paul omits mention of the fact that Melchizedek supplied Abraham and his men with bread and wine. Josephus characterized this action as hospitality that turned into feasting (Ant. I, 10:2).
Philo contrasts Melchizedek's provision of bread and wine with the narrative of the refusal of the Ammonites and Moabites to provide food and water to the Israelites (Deut 23:3-4) for which God judged them unworthy to join the covenant community (Allegorical Interpretations III, 81). Philo offers a spiritual interpretation of this sustenance: "Melchizedek shall bring forward wine instead of water, and shall give your souls to drink, and shall cheer them with unmixed wine, in order that they may be wholly occupied with a divine intoxication, more sober than sobriety itself" (III, 82).
Christian interpreters often associate the bread and wine with Yeshua and the institution of the New Covenant with bread and wine at the Last Supper. However, the provision of bread and wine to Abraham and his men had no religious significance, but was a simple act of charity in providing sustenance to a military force (cf. 1Sam 16:20).
and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection and whose focus may be continuative, adversative or intensive (DM 250f), here connecting the following verb with the preceding verb. having blessed: Grk. eulogeō, aor. part., may mean (1) to invoke divine favor; (2) to express high praise; or (3) bestow favor. The first meaning applies here. The corresponding Heb. verb is barakh (SH-1288), to kneel or to bless (BDB 138). In the Tanakh barakh is an endowment of favor or beneficial power (cf. Gen 1:28). Blessing was one of the recognized priestly functions (Gen 9:26; Ex 18:10; 39:43; Lev 9:22-23; Num 6:23-26; Deut 28:3-6; 33:1).
him: Grk. autos, an intensive personal pronoun, often used to distinguish a person or thing in contrast to another, or to give him (it) prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here (Thayer). Melchizedek pronounced a significant blessing on Abraham:
"Blessed be Abram by El Elyon, creator of heaven of earth. 20 and blessed be El Elyon, Who gave over your enemies into your hand." (TLV)
Beginning in the second century A.D. Jewish literature identified Melchizedek as Shem, the son of Noah:
"And Malka Zadika, who was Shem bar Noah, the king of Yerushalem, came forth to meet Abram, and brought forth to him bread and wine; and in that time he ministered before Eloha Ilaha." Targum Jonathan (AD 150−250).
"And Malki Zedek, king of Yerushalem, who was Shem, who was the great priest of the Most High." Targum Jerusalem (4th c. AD and later)
"The Holy One, blessed be He, sought to cause the priesthood to go forth from Shem. For it is said: And he was a priest of God Most High. [Gen 14:18]" (TB Nedarim 32b)
"3 Shem is identified with Melchizedek." (Midrash Rabbah: Genesis, Vol. 1, XLIV, 8, footnote 3; p. 365)
Melchizedek is also mentioned in the book of Second Enoch (Ch. 71-72), a Jewish sectarian work generally dated in the 1st century A.D. (Eisenbaum 414). However, Chapters 71-72 are part of a later revision and expansion of the book. See the background information on the book here. The expansion of 2Enoch recounts that Melchizedek was miraculously born of his dead mother, a virgin and sister-in-law of Noah, a priest from birth, and was kept safe from the deluge by Gabriel (without having to be in Noah's Ark) in order to be the priest in the post-flood generation.
The association of Melchizedek with Shem is also found in Louis Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews, Chapter Five, in the Section "War of the Kings." In order for Shem, who lived a total of 600 years (Gen 11:10-11), to be alive at the same time as Abraham, who was ten generations removed from Shem, the editors of the Masoretic Text significantly reduced the ages of the men listed in Genesis 5 and 11 at the birth of their first-born sons by a significant amount and then added that amount to the total lifespan after the birth of their first-born sons.
In the Genesis 5 narrative of the ages of Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, and Enoch at the birth of their first-born sons there is a mismatch of 600 years between the LXX and the MT. In the Genesis 11 narrative of the ages of Arphaxad, Selah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, and Nahor, at the birth of their first-born sons there is a mismatch of 700 years between the LXX and the MT. In the latter case the LXX chronology is supported by the Samaritan Pentateuch.
The Septuagint (LXX) and Samaritan Pentateuch are several hundred years older than the Masoretic Text whose oldest existing manuscripts date from the 9th century A.D. We should remember that the LXX was produced by Jewish scholars, and both the LXX and Samaritan Pentateuch date from the 2nd century B.C. The altering of the Hebrew text and fabrication of the Shem identity by rabbinic Sages may have been in part due to the teaching by Paul in Hebrews of identifying Yeshua as the fulfillment of the Melchizedek prophecy.
For the background history of the LXX and analysis of the chronology issue see Barry Setterfield, The Alexandrian Septuagint History (March 2010) and his supplement article The Genealogy Differences in the Masoretic, Alexandrian LXX and Samaritan Pentateuch.
2 and to whom Abraham apportioned a tenth of everything; first indeed being translated, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is, king of peace.
Reference: Genesis 14:20
This verse adds three more points of description of Melchizedek. and: Grk. kai, conj. to whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. The pronoun alludes to Melchizedek in the previous verse. Abraham: Grk. Abraam. See the previous verse. apportioned: Grk. merizō (from meris, "a part"), aor., to divide, here meaning to distribute after division; apportion, assign (BAG). a tenth: Grk. dekatos, adj., a tenth part, tithe.
of everything: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every, the whole. The source of the tithe received by Melchizedek is explained in verse 4. Giving a tithe was an act of worship to celebrate the victory that God gave. Abraham's tithe in Genesis 14:20 is the first mention in Scripture of an offering presented to a religious leader and a tenth is a significant amount. First mentions in Scripture are always important, because they often establish divine expectations. In this case the first mention is not a law per se, but an example to follow, as his grandson Jacob did (Gen 28:22). See the Additional Note below "On Tithing."
first: Grk. prōton, adv., having to do with beforeness, with resultant meanings of (1) having a primary position in sequence and (2) standing out in significance or importance. The second meaning has application here. indeed: Grk. mén, conj., a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. Many versions do not translate the particle. being translated: Grk. hermēneuō, pres. pass. part., to explain, interpret, or translate. Paul now makes a parenthetical comment to remind his readers of the meaning of the name Melchizedek.
king: Grk. basileus. See the previous verse. of righteousness: Grk. dikaiosunē, a state that is in accord with standards for acceptable or anticipated behavior, uprightness, righteousness, justice. In the LXX dikaiosunē is used for a dozen different terms, normally Heb. tzedaqah (SH-6666), with the same meaning (DNTT 3:354). The point here is that as his name implies, Melchizedek was a man of righteous character (an attribute never applied to Aaron) and in his judicial role as king he promoted justice by enforcing righteous standards. He was obviously knowledgeable of God's commandments as was Abraham (cf. Gen 26:5).
and: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The third meaning applies here. then: Grk. epeita, adv. with the idea of addition as a component; thereupon, then. also: Grk. kai. king: Grk. basileus. of Salem: Grk. Salēm. See the previous verse. CJB, MJLT and MW have "Shalem." which: Grk. hos. is: Grk. eimi, pres., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG).
king: Grk. basileus. of peace: Grk. eirēnē, peace, which has a variety of applications and here denotes security, safety, prosperity, and felicity, because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous (Thayer). In the LXX eirēnē translates Heb. shalom (SH-7965), peace, generally denoting (1) personal welfare, health, or prosperity; (2) peace and tranquility in the community; or (3) contentment, peace, and friendship in human relations. The Hebrew name Shalem is derived from the verb shalam (SH-7999), to be complete or sound, from which also shalom is derived.
Additional Note: On Tithing
Some Christians object to tithing on the assumption that it is part of the law or Torah that Yeshua supposedly canceled. However, Yeshua did not cancel the Torah, as he plainly says (Matt 5:17-19)! Thus, the law of the tithe is still in force as Yeshua affirmed to Jewish leaders (Matt 23:23). One might object to tithing on the ground that it is required of Jews, but not Gentiles, but in the matter of money God makes no distinctions. An important distinguishing mark of a true disciple of Yeshua is surrender of the pocketbook (cf. Matt 19:21; Luke 12:33).
3 without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but having been made like the Son of God he remains a priest for all time.
Reference: Psalm 110:4.
The assertions of this verse have been the subject of considerable debate in the history of biblical scholarship. Paul presents information not specifically stated in the Tanakh references to Melchizedek, so it must reflect both knowledge of historical sources and divine revelation.
without father: Grk. apatōr, adj., without a recorded father, of unknown father or fatherless. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. without mother: Grk. amētōr, adj., whose mother's name is not recorded or known, or motherless. without genealogy: Grk. agenealogētos, not included in a recorded genealogy or of an unrecorded genealogy, whose descent cannot be traced. Ancient cultures maintained genealogies of important persons. In Scripture genealogies primarily serve to establish either royal descent or the Messianic line. Melchizedek is not listed in any biblical genealogy, so the names of his parents are unknown.
The lack of a genealogy would have disqualified Melchizedek for a Levitical priesthood (Rienecker). Conversely, the lack of recorded genealogy proves that one may be a priest of the highest order even though there is no connection to the tribe of Levi, and no lineage to Aaron (Hegg). Bruce notes that "Historically, Melchizedek appears to have belonged to a dynasty of priest-kings in which he had both predecessors and successors." However, this biological fact is not important to the point that Paul is making. The description means that Melchizedek did not come to the priesthood because he had a claim on it through parental pedigree, but rather through divine appointment.
having: Grk. echō, pres. part., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. A participle is considered a verbal adjective, so the verb adds introduces two important points to the description of Melchizedek. neither: Grk. mēte, conj., a negative particle foreclosing a conceived option in continuation after a preceding negative; either, neither, nor. The particle emphasizes that the options are not a possibility.
beginning: Grk. archē, a multi-purpose word with the basic meaning of priority and figuratively refers to what comes first and therefore is foremost in importance (HELPS). In the LXX archē translates Heb. reshit (SH-7725), "beginning," first in Genesis 1:1 (DNTT 1:164f). of days: pl. of Grk. hēmera, day, which normally refers to either the daylight hours or the full period of twenty four hours, but the plural form is used here of an imprecise timeframe. In the LXX hēmera translates Heb. yom (SH-3117), day, first in Genesis 1:5. The plural "days" probably signifies a lifetime. The "beginning of days" might allude to the birthday of Melchizedek or the beginning of his priestly office.
nor: Grk. mēte. end: Grk. telos may refer to (1) the termination or cessation of something; (2) the last part or conclusion of something; or (3) the goal toward which a movement is directed (BAG). The first meaning is intended here. HELPS says the root (tel-) means "reaching the end (aim)," and illustrates this point by contrasting with the old maritime telescope, which extended out one stage at a time to function at full-strength. In the LXX telos is often used to translate the Heb. qets (SH-7093), "end" (DNTT 2:60). The Hebrew word qets is most often used of time, especially in phrases that speak of the end of a definite time period (e.g., Gen 8:6; 2Sam 15:7; 2Kgs 18:3) (BDB 893).
of life: Grk. zōē, the state of being alive in contrast with being dead. In the LXX zōē translates Heb. chay (SH-2416), alive, living, with both literal and figurative uses. Paul affirms that the number of years Melchizedek lived is unknown. The "end of days" might allude to the day of Melchizedek's death or the end of his priestly service. Coke suggests that the temporal description in this verse contrasts with the requirement of Levitical priests beginning ministry at age 30 and retiring at age 50 (Num 4:3; 8:25). Melchizedek was under no such constraints.
but: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The first meaning applies here. having been made like: Grk. aphomoioō, perf. pass. part., assimilate, make like to, resemble. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. The verb does not refer to a special creation (like Adam), but it is important as a point of comparison. Paul does not say "he was."
the Son: Grk. ho huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios translates Heb. ben ("son," "son of"), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity, as the son of his father (Gen 5). (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor (e.g., Gen 32:32), as Yeshua is referred to as the son of David and Abraham (Matt 1:1); or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of (e.g., Ps 89:22; Dan 3:25; cf. Acts 4:36; 13:10), and this too applies here.
of God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 1 above. Christian theology has traditionally restricted the meaning of the title "Son of God" to deity. Unbelieving Jews typically object to the concept of God having a divine son and can rightly claim that in the first century "Son of God' had a very human meaning. Adam was the first son of God (Luke 3:38). Then God declared that the nation of Israel was His son (Ex 4:22; Isa 63:16; 64:8; Jer 31:9; Hos 11:1). Yet, there are verses in the Tanakh that mention God having a unique Son in a very personal sense (2Sam 7:12-14; Ps 2:6-7, 11-12; Prov 30:4; Isa 9:6).
For Jews during this time "son of God" was used as a title for the promised human descendant of King David (2Sam 7:12), the Messiah, who would establish and rule over the Kingdom of God on earth (cf. Luke 1:31-35; John 1:17, 41, 49; 11:27). "Son of God" was a title of the Davidic king inasmuch as the king functioned as God's regent on earth and was vested with God's authority. Even so there is no equivocation in Paul's writings that Yeshua is the image of the invisible God and agent of creation (2Cor 4:4; Php 2:6; Col 1:15-17; Heb 1:2-3).
The scant information provided in the Tanakh and this verse about Melchizedek hints at a mystery. Paul's biographical summary of Melchizedek could be one of those Pauline sayings of which Peter said were hard to understand (2Pet 3:16). Dr. Henry M. Morris treats the verbal clause "made like" as parallel to the statement by Nebuchadnezzar that the "fourth man in the fire" was "like a son of the gods" (Dan 3:25) and deduces that Melchizedek was a pre-incarnate manifestation of Yeshua (TGR 321; DSB 1372). However, Paul does not say that Melchizedek was Yeshua.
he remains: Grk. menō, pres., to be in a situation for a length of time; remain. Here the verb signifies to remain as one is, not to become another or different (Thayer). a priest: Grk. hiereus. See verse 1 above. for: Grk. eis, prep., with the root meaning of "in, within," indicating the point reached or entered, and expressing direction, position, relation, cause or purpose (DM 114). all time: Grk. ho diēnekēs, adj. used of that which is continuous or unbroken; all time, in perpetuity, forever. In referring to a dynasty this word means that the family would never fail to have a male heir (Rienecker).
This last clause, which alludes to the affirmation of Psalm 110:4 (see verse 17 below), explains how Melchizedek was made like the Son of God. Melchizedek had no predecessor and no successor. His priestly office was unique and perpetual, which was the type for the priesthood of Yeshua. Keil offers the following analysis of the royal priest of Salem in his commentary on the Genesis passage.
"And, lastly, there was something very significant in the appearance in the midst of the degenerate tribes of Canaan of this king of righteousness, and priest of the true God of heaven and earth, without any account of his descent, or of the beginning and end of his life; so that he stands forth in the Scriptures, 'without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.' Although it by no means follows from this, however, that Melchizedek was a celestial being (the Logos, or an angel), or one of the primeval patriarchs (Enoch or Shem), as Church fathers, Rabbins, and others have conjectured, and we can see in him nothing more than one, perhaps the last, of the witnesses and confessors of the early revelation of God, coming out into the light of history from the dark night of heathenism; yet this appearance does point to a priesthood of universal significance, and to a higher order of things, which existed at the commencement of the world, and is one day to be restored again. In all these respects, the noble form of this king of Salem and priest of the Most High God was a type of the God-King and eternal High Priest Jesus Christ; a thought which is expanded in Hebrews 7 on the basis of this account, and of the divine utterance revealed to David in the Spirit, that the King of Zion sitting at the right hand of Jehovah should be a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." (133)
4 Now consider how great was this one to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils!
Now: Grk. de, conj. See verse 2 above. consider: Grk. theōreō, pres. imp., 2p-pl., may mean (1) pay attention to; look at, observe, watch, behold; (2) conclude on the basis of personal experience; consider, infer, see; or (3) have awareness in depth; perceive, experience. The second meaning has primary application here. The verb expresses the regard of attentive contemplation (Rienecker). how great: Grk. pēlikos, exclamatory adj. of size or importance, here the latter; how great. The appeal to consider the greatness of Melchizedek includes his résumé in the previous three verses, but then points ahead to a particular interaction between him and Abraham that is significant to understanding the superiority of Yeshua's priesthood.
was this one: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 1 above. to whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 2 above. Abraham: Grk. Abraam. See verse 1 above. the patriarch: Grk. ho patriarchēs, the head or founder of a people group. The definite article contains the sense of "the great patriarch" or "our great patriarch" (Rienecker). The term occurs only four times in the Besekh and is used of David (Acts 2:29) and the twelve sons of Jacob (Acts 7:7-8). gave: Grk. didōmi, aor., generally to give something to someone, often with the focus on generosity. In the LXX didōmi translates Heb. natan (SH-5414), to give, put or set, with a wide range of meaning (DNTT 2:41).
a tenth: Grk. dekatos, adj. See verse 2 above. of the spoils: pl. of Grk. ho akrothinion, spoils or treasure taken from the enemy in war; booty, plunder, spoils. In ancient Greek culture the term referred to spoils gathered after a victory into a heap, so they are the "top of the heap," the best part of the spoils was presented to the gods (Rienecker). The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. Melchizedek willingly accepted a tenth of the plunder that Abraham had taken from the defeat of the pagan armies. The spoils could have included clothing, livestock, precious gems, precious metals, and women (cf. Josh 22:8; Jdg 5:30; 8:24-25).
5 And those indeed from the sons of Levi receiving the priestly office have a commandment according to the Torah to take a tenth from the people, that is, from their brothers, though having come from the loins of Abraham.
Reference: Numbers 18:21, 24, 26; Deuteronomy 14:28-29; 26:12.
And: Grk. kai, conj. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. indeed: Grk. mén, adv. See verse 2 above. from: Grk. ek, prep. used to denote derivation or separation, here the former; lit. "out of, from within." the sons: pl. of Grk. huios. See verse 3 above. of Levi: Grk. Leui, which transliterates the Hebrew name Levi ("a joining"), the third son of Jacob by his wife Leah, the patriarch, and founder of a tribe named after him and ancestor of the priests of Israel. Levi is remembered for avenging the rape of his sister, Dinah, by killing every male in the city of Shechem (Gen 34:25-31).
Before his death Jacob spoke harshly of Levi's use of the sword and prophesied that his descendants would be dispersed in the land of promise (Gen 49:5-7). In the wilderness the tribe of Levi distinguished themselves as instruments of God's wrath. After the people of Israel sinned by making the golden calf, Moses commanded the sons of Levi to wield the sword against those who had participated in the idolatry (Ex 32:27-28). ADONAI set apart the tribe of Levi in lieu of the firstborn of the sons of Israel for exclusive service to Him in recompense for the firstborn of Egypt killed in the last plague (Num 3:12; 8:14, 17-18).
The tribe of Levi was exempted from military service (Num 1:3, 47-48), but ADONAI task organized the tribe by their clan families to carryout various important responsibilities in relation to the tabernacle and the religious life of the nation:
● providing security for the tabernacle (Num 1:50, 53; 2:17; 3:38);
● maintaining and preserving the cleanliness of all the furnishings of the tabernacle to keep it in good working order. (Num 1:50; 3:8);
● dismantling, transporting and setting up the tabernacle, its structural components, furnishings and accessories, when the nation moved. (Num 1:50-51; 3:8);
● performing the daily tasks at the tabernacle of keeping the menorah in the Holy Place burning, of offering the daily sacrifice of animal and grain, of burning incense, of preparing the bread of the Presence, and of keeping the fire on the altar burning (Ex 25:30; 27:20; 29:38-41; 30:7-8; Lev 6:13; Num 4:16);
● conducting the various religious services associated with God's appointed times (Num 3:7; 8:19; 16:8-9);
● conducting meetings or rituals associated with determining uncleanness and cleanness of individuals, imposing or releasing from vows, and determining the guilt or innocence of individuals accused of capital crimes (Lev 13:1-17; Num 5:11-15; 6:9-12; Deut 17:8-10);
● calculating the value of animals or land for the purposes of consecration or redemption (Lev 27:9-25);
● blowing silver trumpets to raise an alarm, convene an assembly, or announce a sacred event (Num 10:1-10);
● mediating with God by sacrificial offerings to make atonement for sin (Lev 4:20; Num 8:19; 15:25);
● serving the needs of the widow and orphan by sharing the tithes they received (Deut 14:28-29; 26:10-12);
● teaching God's commandments and statutes to the men of Israel (Lev 10:8-11; Deut 17:9-10; 24:8; 33:8-10; 2Chr 17:7–9; 35:3; Neh 8:7–13; Mal 2:6–8);
● maintaining ritual purity with regular bathing, washing and shaving (Ex 30:18-21; Num 8:7, 15, 21).
receiving: Grk. lambanō, pl. pres. part., actively lay hold of to take or receive. the priestly office: Grk. ho hierateia, priestly office or service, priesthood. have: Grk. echō, pres. See verse 3 above. a commandment: Grk. entolē, a directive for action, command, order or instruction. The noun refers to instruction that is obligatory and not merely informative. In the LXX entolē generally translates Heb. mitsvah (SH-4687), 'commandment' (e.g., Ex 20:6; Ps 119:6). A mitsvah may be a human command, but is mostly divine instruction intended for obedience.
according to: Grk. kata, prep., with the root meaning of "down" (DM 107), is generally used to signify (1) direction, 'against, down;' (2) opposition, 'against;' or (3) conformity, 'according to.' The third usage is intended here. the Torah: Grk. ho nomos (from nemō, distribute; 'that which is generally recognized as customary') may mean either (1) a principle or standard relating to behavior or (2) codified legislation, i.e. law. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX nomos generally corresponds to Heb. torah (SH-8451), which means "direction," "teaching" or "instruction" (BDB 435f), first in Genesis 26:5. In the Pentateuch torah refers primarily to commandments decreed by God to Israel and recorded in writing by Moses.
to take a tenth: Grk. apodekatoō (from apo, "from," and dekataoō, "pay/collect a tithe"), pres. inf., to collect or receive a tithe from someone. The infinitive is used to provide an explanation of the content of the command (Rienecker). from the people: Grk. ho laos, a group of humans, understood geographically or ethnically, and often in the Besekh people groups associated with the God of Israel. In the LXX laos translates Heb. am (SH-5971), people or kinsman, first in Genesis 14:18. The term is used to denote inhabitants of a city, a locality, a nation, and even common people in contrast to the ruling or religious elite.
In context "people" refers to the members of the tribes that descended from the sons of Jacob other than Levi. Paul provides an interpretative translation of Numbers 18:21, which says, "See, I have given all the tithes in Israel to the sons of Levi as an inheritance in return for all the work of the service they are doing in the Tent of Meeting" (TLV). He does not mean to imply that the non-priest Levites were excluded from receiving tithes. The Torah established the principle of reciprocity that those who benefit from the ministry of the servants of God have an obligation to return a financial blessing (cf. Matt 10:10; 1Cor 9:11; Gal 6:6).
that: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 1 above. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. from their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. brothers: pl. of Grk. ho adelphos, lit. "of the same womb," a male sibling; brother. In the Besekh the term primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites who are of the same blood by virtue of descent from Jacob. In the LXX adelphos translates Heb. ach (SH-251), a male sibling (Gen 4:2; 20:5), a near blood relative (Gen 13:8), a member of the same tribe (Num 16:10) or a fellow descendent of Jacob (Ex 2:11; 4:18).
The term "brothers" qualifies the term "people," so that only the "sons of Israel" were required to present tithes (Num 18:24, 26). There is no mention of Gentile sojourners paying tithes, although aliens could be beneficiaries of the tithe (Deut 26:12). Conversely, there is mention of non-Israelites presenting sacrificial offerings (Lev 17:8; 22:18; Num 15:14).
though: Grk. kaiper (from kai, "and" and per, "indeed"), conj., although, though. having come: Grk. exerchomai (from ek, "from out of," and erchomai, "to come or go"), aor. part., to move away from a place or position, to go or come out. from: Grk. ek. the loins: Grk. ho osphus, the pubic area, here specifically of the genital organs; loins. The Hebrews considered this to be the place of the reproductive organs (Rienecker). The phrase "having coming from the loins" tactfully describes the transmission of the means of reproduction from a man to his wife, as well as its outcome. Idiomatically the phrase meant "to be someone's son or descendant" (Rienecker).
of Abraham: Grk. Abraam. See verse 1 above. The mention of the "loins of Abraham" alludes to the patrilineal nature of genealogies (e.g., Gen 4:18; 5:3-32; 10:6-29; 11:10-32; 1Chr 1:1-52). The expression is also an application of the creation principle that everything reproduces after its own kind (Gen 1:12-13, 21, 24-25, 28). In the covenant with Israel God stipulated that a tenth or tithe of agricultural produce and livestock be considered "holy to ADONAI" (Lev 27:30-32; Deut 14:22). The tithe was primarily for the benefit of the tribe of Levi as an inheritance and in return for their ministry (Num 18:21-24).
The Levites were to give a tithe of the tithe they received to the High Priest (Num 18:26-28). The same code also stipulated the third year's tithe for care of the Levites, orphans, widows, and foreigners (Deut 14:28-29). The rabbis of the first century, however, understood the laws as referring to three separate tithes: a Levitical tithe, a tithe spent celebrating in Jerusalem, and a charity tithe (HBD). Malachi 3:8 equates neglect of the tithe with robbing God.
6 But the one not tracing his descent from them collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed the one having the promises.
But: Grk. de, conj. the one: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. Some versions translate the masculine form as "this man," due to its reference to Melchizedek. not: Grk. mē, adv., a particle of qualified negation related to the exercise of the will; not (DM 265). tracing his descent: Grk. genealogeō, pres. mid. part., to trace genealogy or reckon descent. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. from: Grk. ek, prep. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The pronoun refers to the sons of Levi in the previous verse.
collected a tenth from: Grk. dekatoō, perf., receive or collect the tenth part; collect a tithe from. Abraham: Grk. Abraam. See verse 1 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. blessed: Grk. eulogeō, perf. See verse 1 above. Since the perfect tense refers to action in the past with continuing results into the present, then the perfect tense of these two verbs stress their continuing relevance (Rienecker). the one: Grk. ho. having: Grk. echō, pres. part. See verse 3 above. the promises: pl. of Grk. ho epaggelia, promise, especially associated with God's covenantal promises to the patriarchs and Israel. A promise from God is a guaranteed assurance.
God made a total of ten promises to Abraham, so the reference might be only those promises made before Abraham met Melchizedek or include all promises made in the course of his life. Prior to the meeting with Melchizedek God had made these promises to Abraham: (1) He would make Abraham into a great nation; (2) He would bless those who blessed Abraham and curse those who cursed him; (3) in Abraham all the families of the earth would be blessed; (4) He would give the land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants as a permanent possession; and (5) He would multiply Abraham's "seed" as the dust of the earth (Gen 12:1-3; 13:14-17).
After the meeting with Melchizedek God added these promises: (1) He would multiply Abraham's "seed" as the stars of the sky, (2) Abraham's descendants would be strangers in a land not their own, be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years, but God would judge the nation whom they served, and afterward come out with many possessions; (3) He would make Abraham a father of many nations; (4) He would give Abraham and Sarah a son in their old age; and (5) the Seed (Messiah) of Abraham shall possess the gate of their enemies and in this Seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed (Gen 15:2-5, 13-21; 17:1-8; 18:10, 18; 22:15-18).
7 And apart from all dispute, the lesser is blessed by the superior.
And: Grk. de, conj. apart from: Grk. chōris, adv., all: Gin a condition or circumstance not including; without, separate from, apart from.rk. pas, adj. See verse 2 above. dispute: Grk. antilogia (from antilegō, "to dispute"), adversarial speech or position; contention, dispute. Paul now states a widely accepted axiom that applies to the situation in the previous verse. the lesser: Grk. ho elassōn, comparative adj., signifies an aspect of diminution or reduction, whether of age or status; inferior, lesser, smaller.
is blessed: Grk. eulogeō, pres. See verse 1 above. In context the verb denotes conveyance of a substantive favor or benefit. by: Grk. hupo, prep., may be used as (1) a marker of agent or cause; by; or (2) as a marker of a position that is relatively lower; below, under. The first meaning applies here and stresses "under the authority of." the superior: Grk. ho kreittōn, comparative adj., having a degree of advantage, used here to denote status or rank; better, more excellent, superior. Melchizedek was clearly superior to Abraham.
8 And here indeed, dying men receive tithes, but there, it is testified that 'he lives!'
And: Grk. kai, conj. here: Grk. hōde (from hode, "this here"), demonstrative adv. of place, often a position relatively near, but fig. of the state of things or circumstances, which is the intention here; here, in this place. In other words, according to the Levitical law still in force and with which the readers are familiar. The adverb might even allude to the temple in Jerusalem where the tithing activity then occurred. indeed: Grk. mén, conj. See verse 2 above.
dying: Grk. apothnēskō, pres. part., to cease to live, generally used of physical death, whether natural or violent. The verb stresses human mortality as a common experience due to the curse on Adam (Rom 5:12; 1Cor 15:22). Some versions translate the participle as "mortal." Rienecker notes that the participle without the definite article emphasizes the personal attribute of character. Thus Paul may be referring to something more than the physical.
men: Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man, or mankind, used here of an adult males. In the LXX anthrōpos translates three Hebrew words: (1) adam (Gen 1:26-27); (2) ish (Gen 2:23-24) and (3) enosh (Ps 8:4-5), which are generally used for a human male or mankind (DNTT 2:564). The phrase "dying men" stresses the fact of passing ministry to successors and alludes to the priesthood conducted by the descendants of Aaron. Yet, the phrase hints at the profound truth that the existing system is passing away.
receive: Grk. lambanō, pres., 3p-pl. See verse 5 above. tithes: pl. of Grk. dekatos, adj. See verse 2 above. The "dying men" are descendants of Levi who received tithes from the Israelite people according to the Torah. but: Grk. de, conj. there: Grk. ekei, adv. of place or position, in that place, there. Commentators generally affirm that the adverb refers to the narrative of Melchizedek in the Tanakh, but the adverb might also allude to heaven. it is testified: Grk. martureō, pres. mid. part., to attest or testify to a fact or truth; bear witness, or testify. The verb signals that the adverb ekei refers to a specific passage of Scripture.
that: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, here to introduce a subordinate clause as complementary of the preceding verb "testified." he lives: Grk. zaō, pres., be in the state of being alive; living. The death of Melchizedek is not mentioned in the Tanakh, but upon his death Melchizedek would have been translated to heaven as Enoch (Gen 5:24). The verb "lives" alludes to the affirmation of Psalm 110:4, spoken to the Messianic priest-king, that the priesthood according to the order of Melchizedek is forever. Thus, the ministry of Melchizedek lives on in the high priesthood of Yeshua as described in verse 26 below.
9 And so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, the one receiving tithes, paid the tenth.
And: Grk. kai, conj. so to speak: Grk. hos epos eipein, lit., "as a word to say." The phrase introduces a way of viewing the historical situation not previously considered. through: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) instrumentality, (2) causality, or (3) a benefit. The first usage applies here. Abraham: Grk. Abraam. See verse 1 above. even: Grk. kai. Levi: Grk. Leui, the great-grandson of Abraham. See verse 5 above. Ellicott notes that the descendants of Abraham cannot but occupy a lower position in presence of one who appears as Abraham's superior.
the one: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. receiving: Grk. lambanō, pres. part. See verse 5 above. tithes: pl. of Grk. dekatos. See verse 2 above. Levi, who never received tithes, stands in for his descendants of the tribe of Levi that received tithes from the people of Israel. paid the tenth: Grk. dekatoō, perf. mid. See verse 6 above. The verb introduces a surprising, but innovative analysis completed in the next verse. Barnes comments that when an ancestor has done an act implying inferiority of rank to another, then all the descendants by that act recognized the inferiority. In other words, the act of Abraham stood therefore as if it were the act of all who descended from him.
10 for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.
for: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 1 above. he was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 2 above. The imperfect tense denotes continuous action in past time. still: Grk. eti, adv. expressing continuance of an action or circumstance or expressing addition, whether of time or degree; still, yet. in: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position, lit. "in" or "within." the loins: Grk. osphus. See verse 5 above. of his ancestor: Grk. ho patēr, normally used of a male biological parent or ancestor, as well as frequently in reference to God. In the LXX patēr translates ab (SH-1, "av"), which generally occurs in the human sense.
when: Grk. hote, temporal adv., when, at which time. Melchizedek: Grk. Melchisedek. See verse 1 above. met: Grk. sunantaō, aor. See verse 1 above. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. See verse 1 above. McKee observes, "If Levi is able to 'tithe,' after a fashion, via Abraham, with Levi only existing in the genetic sperm of his great-grandfather Abraham—then it might be said that Melchizedek lives on, after a fashion, in the priestly ministry of Yeshua the Messiah" (140). McKee is the only commentator to recognize that Paul's phrase "in the loins" refers to a genetic reality.
The scientific affirmation of Paul is one of many observations of natural phenomena in the Bible that were only "discovered" by scientists in modern times. Secularists and atheists claim the Bible is full of scientific mistakes, when in fact the Bible reports the truth about the real world. The Bible is a book of science (i.e., "knowledge"), and contains an accurate record of observations of the real world. Indeed, no proven fact of science contradicts the Bible.
Early in the 1900's scientists verified that chromosomes are the transmitters of heredity, so scientifically speaking "in the loins" equals "in the chromosomes." The reproduction of life is a biochemical process (BBMS 285). This process is centered in part around the remarkable double-helical structure of the DNA molecule and the chromosome information programmed therein, beautifully described by David in Psalm 139:13-16. Thus, Levi was in the DNA of Abraham, which is similar to the proclamation of Paul to the Athenians that the whole human race was made of "one blood" (Acts 17:26).
In other words, mankind descended from the first couple God created and put in Gan-Eden (Gen 1:26-27; 1Cor 15:22), not a mythical transitional creature posited by evolution. The mention of "one blood" would also allude to Noah and his family, since only they survived the global deluge that God sent to destroy life on earth (Gen 7:21-23).
The Need for a New High Priest, 7:11-19
11 Then indeed if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for in reference to it the people received the Torah), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be named according to the order of Aaron?
Then: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which is used here to indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, "so, therefore, consequently, then." indeed: Grk. mén, conj. See verse 2 above. Few versions translate the particle, but it gives additional emphasis to the inference. if: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker that introduces a current real condition, or an assumption for the sake of argument; here the latter. perfection: Grk. teleiōsis, bringing to full realization or effectiveness; a brand of completion which focuses on the final stage of the consummation process (HELPS); completion, fulfillment, perfection.
The term, which occurs only twice in the Besekh (also Luke 1:45), is introduced here without defining it application. The use of cognate verb teleioō ("make perfect"), which occurs 9 times in Hebrews, helps to clarify its meaning. In 5:9 perfection is related to Yeshua learning obedience through suffering, which resulted in eternal salvation to all who obey him. In 9:9 and 10:1 the perfection has to do with cleansing the conscience, which is hinted at in verse 19 below. In this context Stern defines teleiōsis as "reaching the goal of being reconciled with God and able to be eternally in his presence."
were: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 2 above. through: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 9 above. the Levitical: Grk. Leuitikos, adj., belonging to the tribe of Levi; Levitical. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. In the LXX the adjective occurs only in the title of the book of Leviticus (Bruce). The term is used by Philo in referring to the "Levitical tribe" (On Flight and Finding §89). The Greek term would roughly correspond to the Hebrew adjective Leviyyi (SH-3881), which occurs first in Exodus 4:14 in reference to Aaron and then is used as a descriptor of priests fifteen times in the Tanakh (e.g., Deut 17:9; Josh 3:3; 2Chr 5:5; Jer 33:18; Ezek 43:19).
priesthood: Grk. ho hierōsunē, the priestly office, priesthood. This term originally was more abstract than hierateia in verse 5 above and could be used to emphasize the worth or honor of the office (Rienecker). The technical term does not occur in the Greek Tanakh, but it is found in the Apocrypha (Sir. 45:24; 1Esdr. 5:38; 1Macc. 2:54; 3:49; 4Macc. 5:34) and in Josephus (Ant. II, 9:3). The phrase "Levitical priesthood" alludes to the stipulation in the Torah that the office of priest was the exclusive occupation of the tribe of Levi and in particular the family of Aaron (Ex 28:1; 29:9; 30:30).
The opening clause implies that the desired spiritual perfection was unattainable through a system that required sacrifices to be continually offered. McKee observes
"This does not necessarily make the Levitical priesthood bad, or even "imperfect," because the Levitical priesthood was surely given and established by a God who is perfect. It does, rather, make the Levitical priesthood incomplete and unable to bring about the complete perfection that is to be established in the lives of God's people."
for: Grk. gar, conj. in reference to: Grk. epi, prep., with the root meaning of "upon," used primarily as a marker of position or location; but with the genitive case of the personal pronoun following the preposition emphasizes direction toward a person. Bengel interprets the preposition as meaning "in connection with" and the CJB adopted this translation. it: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The pronoun alludes to the Levitical priesthood. the people: Grk. ho laos. See verse 5 above. received the Torah: Grk. nomotheteō (from nomothetēs, "lawgiver"), perf. pass., be given legislation, make law, ordain by law. This verb occurs only in Hebrews (also 8:6).
Unfortunately, Christian commentators have misconstrued Paul's statement concerning the relationship between the Levitical priests and the Torah. For example, Leon Morris says,
"We ought not think of the law and the priesthood as two quite separate things that happened to be operative at the same time among the same people. The priesthood is the very basis of the law. Without that priesthood it would be impossible for the law to operate in its fullness."
This assertion is patently false. The implication, as McKee points out, is that if the priesthood was imperfect, then the Torah must be imperfect, too. The conclusion must be that if the Levitical priesthood is ended, so too must be the Torah. This flies in the face of Paul's assertion in his letter to the Roman congregation that the Torah is holy, righteous, good and spiritual (Rom 7:12, 14). Aaron did not invent the priesthood or all the regulations by which it was administered. God decreed the system and its rules. Paul simply notes here that the Levitical priests had the responsibility of teaching God's commandments to the men of Israel (cf. Lev 10:8-11; Deut 17:9-10; 24:8; 33:8-10).
what: Grk. tís (for Heb. mah, SH-4100), interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. further: Grk. eti, adv. See the previous verse. need: Grk. chreia, state or experience of necessity, to be in want of something; need. was there for another: Grk. heteros, adj., "other," used here to distinguish one item from another in a numerical sense, other, another. priest: Grk. hiereus. See verse 1 above. to arise: Grk. anistēmi, pres. mid. inf., to rise, stand up or get up and in its ordinary use refers to a physical motion. The verb is used here in an idiomatic sense of appearing or standing forth (Thayer).
according to: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 5 above. the order: Grk. ho taxis, may mean (1) a position or turn in an orderly sequence of activity, order (Luke 1:8); (2) arrangement for activity, order; or (3) a condition of being orderly (1Cor 14:40; Col 2:5). In the LXX taxis translates seven different words, but its use in reference to a priestly office occurs only in Psalm 110:4. Originally a military term taxis properly denotes placing one member over another in rank (HELPS). of Melchizedek: Grk. Melchisedek. See verse 1 above. The phrase "order of Melchizedek" does not refer to a special fraternity of priests or a line of priests descended from Melchizedek. Rather the term emphasizes the fact of his royal priesthood.
and: Grk. kai, conj. not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. be named: Grk. legō, pres. pass. inf., to make a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing. As used here the focus of the verb is to call or to name. according to: Grk. kata. the order: Grk. ho taxis. of Aaron: Grk. Aarōn, which transliterates Heb. Aharôn, the elder brother of Moses (by three years, Ex 7:7). Aaron was Israel's first high priest chosen by God (Ex 28:3-4). For more information on the life of Aaron, see my comment on Hebrews 5:4.
The "order of Aaron" alludes to the fact that only his sons descended from Eleazar and Ithamar were to serve as priests at Israel's national sanctuary (Ex 40:12-15; Num 3:4). Of course, the Jewish priesthood did not cease until A.D. 70 when the Temple was destroyed.
12 For the priesthood being changed, also from necessity a change of law takes place.
For: Grk. gar, conj. the priesthood: Grk. ho hierōsunē. See the previous verse. The noun is shorthand for "the priesthood of Aaron," specifically the office of high priest. being changed: Grk. metatithēmi, pres. pass. part., may mean (1) make a change in position, either in the sense of spatial movement or transference of allegiance; or (2) cause to be different. The second meaning is intended here. There were some changes made in the past that impacted the order of Aaron. For example, Aaron was not permitted to continue serving as high priest in Canaan because of his sin in the matter of Moses striking the rock with his rod (Num 20:10-12).
With Eli (1Sam 1:3) the high-priesthood passed from the line of Eleazar to that of Ithamar. Then, Abiathar, the eleventh high priest in succession from Aaron through the line of Eli, was removed as priest for treason against King Solomon in accordance with the prophecy to Eli (1Sam 2:31-33; 1Kgs 2:26-27). The line of high priests then returned to the line of Eleazer with the appointment of Zadok (1Kgs 2:35). However, the first clause does not speak merely of the transference of the office of priest from one person to another as in a normal succession. Rather the change is from one kind of priesthood to another.
also: Grk. kai, conj. from: Grk. ek, prep. necessity: Grk. anagkē, inevitability as an inherent component in human experience, and therefore must happen. a change: Grk. metathesis may mean (1) change of position or location, removal; or (2) alteration of office, change. The second meaning applies here. The CJB translates the noun here as "transformation," since Paul uses the term to describe a substantive reordering of the whole concept of the office of high priest.
of law: Grk. nomos. See verse 5 above. The term can mean "instruction," and alludes to the statute in the Torah assigning the high priesthood to Aaron and his descendants. The "change of law" does not equal "cancellation of the entire Torah." takes place: Grk. ginomai, pres. mid., to transfer from one state or condition to another, which may be expressed in one of three ways: (1) come into being birth or natural process; be born or produced; (2) exist through application of will or effort by a person; be made, be performed; or (3) undergo a state of existence, change or development; come to be, become, take place, happen, occur, arise, be, appear, come, arrive. The third meaning applies here.
Here the verb is equivalent to "come to pass" or "happen," often used of historical events or something happening to someone. This saying completes the thought of the previous verse since a change in the order of Aaron would require a change in the Torah. An essential principle of law is that a law can only be changed by the authority that enacted it. That is, only God can make substantive changes to the Torah, including the selection of priests.
Stern points out that the Tanakh itself records at least one change in the Torah, the addition of the festival of Purim (Esth 9:26-32). Jews also added the festival of Hanukkah (1Macc 4:56-59; 2Macc 1:9, 18; 10:1-8), which Yeshua observed (John 10:22). Yet, adding religious observances did not amount to a substantive change in the Torah itself, and certainly not a change in the priesthood.
Some Christian commentators treat the assertion of this verse as applying to more than the priesthood. Bruce comments:
"If the Aaronic priesthood was instituted for a temporary purpose, to be brought to an end when the age of fulfillment dawned, the same must be true of the law under which that priesthood was introduced."
Morris also concludes:
"Christ is not another Aaron; he replaces Aaron with a priesthood that is both different and better. And with the Aaronic priesthood went the law that had been erected with that priesthood as its basis."
Farrar said, "The Law and the Priesthood were so inextricably united that the Priesthood could not be altered without disintegrating the whole complex structure of the Law."
Other commentators are more restrained in their application of this verse. Barnes said,
"This could not apply to the ten commandments - for they were given before the institution of the priesthood; nor could it apply to any other part of the moral law, for that was not dependent on the appointment of the Levitical priests."
The noted Christian theologian Walter Kaiser makes this observation:
"It would be wrong to think that just because the sacrificial system had been replaced therefore the whole law, including the moral law of the Decalogue (Ex 20; Deut 5) and the Holiness Code (Lev 18-20), had likewise been superseded and replaced." (367)
McKee concurs with Kaiser and adds the Messianic Jewish viewpoint that "One cannot use Hebrews 7:12 and the 'change in law' to cast aside the significance of the seventh-day Sabbath/Shabbat, the appointed times, or kosher dietary laws." Indeed, McKee questions just how complete is the proposed removal of the Levitical priesthood when Ezekiel prophesied a future temple (Ezek 37:26-27; 40:5-49; 41:1-26; 42:1-20; 46:19-24) and the ministry of priests and Levites in that temple, including sacrificing animals for burnt offering and sin offering (Ezek 40:45-48; 42:13-14; 43:18-27; 44:10, 13-15, 21-22, 30-31; 45:13-20; 46:2-15; 48:10-13, 22).
Moreover, Isaiah prophesied a change in the law of priesthood when he said that in the age to come God would gather Israelites out of the nations to Israel (Isa 66:20) and that God would "take some of them for priests and for Levites" (Isa 66:21). In other words, the priesthood would no longer be restricted to the tribe of Levi. The original plan of Israel being a kingdom of priests (Ex 19:6) will finally be realized. After all, why have such a restriction if the high priest can be from the tribe of Judah?
In my view commentators need to consider Paul's own dictum, "not to go beyond what is written" (1Cor 4:6). Paul only spoke here of the priesthood, and specifically the high priesthood, and the superiority of Yeshua's priesthood in the present age. Paul does not concern himself in this letter with prophecies to be fulfilled in the millennium.
13 For concerning whom these things are said belonged to another tribe, from which no one has served at the altar.
For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 1 above. concerning: Grk. epi, prep. See verse 11 above. whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 2 above. The pronoun alludes to Yeshua. these things: n.pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 1 above. are said: Grk. legō, pres. mid. See verse 11 above. belonged to: Grk. metechō, perf., have a part in something, here with the focus on participating in tribal membership. Rienecker comments that the verb points to the voluntary assumption of humanity by the Lord. another: Grk. heteros, adj. See verse 11 above.
tribe: Grk. phulē (from phuō, "to bring forth, produce, grow, be born"), a people sub-group, and may refer to (1) a tribe of Israel; or (2) a nation or people; here the former. In the LXX phulē translates three different Hebrew words, meaning tribe, clan or nation (DNTT 3:870). In other words, Yeshua did not belong to the tribe of Levi. Paul defines the "another tribe" in the next verse. The point here is that the choice of tribe was not accidental. from: Grk. apo, prep. See verse 1 above. which: Grk. hos. no one: Grk. oudeis (from ou, "not," and heis, "one"), adj., adj. used to indicate negation of a person or thing as actually existing at a given place or moment; no one, none, nothing.
has served: Grk. prosechō (from pros, "towards" and echō, "have"), perf., be on the alert, which may be used of (1) putting up one's guard; beware, take heed; or (2) of giving attention to personal obligation; take care, pay attention to, officiate. The second meaning applies here. The verb denotes giving full attention, devoting oneself to something (HELPS). at the altar: Grk. ho thusiastērion (from thusiazō, "to sacrifice"), an elevated place or structure at which religious rites are performed or on which sacrifices are offered to deity.
In the LXX thusiastērion translates Heb. mizbeach (SH-4196), altar, first in Genesis 8:20. The noun is found only in Jewish literature: Philo, On the Life of Moses II. §105; Josephus, Ant. VIII, 4:1; Letter of Aristeas 87; and Testament of Levi 16:1. The term is also used of ancient altars erected by the patriarchs (Gen 8:20; 12:7; 13:4; 22:9; 26:25; 33:20; 35:1; Rom 11:3; Jas 2:21). Primarily this word for "altar" is used for the altar of burnt offering in the outer court of the tabernacle (Ex 30:28; Matt 5:23) and the altar of incense inside the Holy Place (Ex 30:1; Luke 1:11). See the diagram of the layout of the tabernacle here.
Consideration needs to be given to what Paul said in this verse, since Scripture records that David sacrificed burnt offerings (1Chr 16:2; 21:26), as did Solomon (1Kgs 3:3). However, David sacrificed on an altar he built and Solomon offered sacrifices in the high places. Paul speaks here of the regular ministry of priests at the altar, such as was performed by Zechariah (Luke 1:8-9). David and Solomon did not serve at the altars designated for the Levitical priests.
14 For it is evident that our Lord arose out of Judah, for which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priests.
Reference: Genesis 49:10; Numbers 24:7; Isaiah 11:1; Malachi 4:2.
For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 1 above. it is evident: Grk. prodēlos, adj., without need of further information, conspicuous, evident, manifest. The adjective implies a fact well known to Paul's readers (Guthrie). that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 8 above. The conjunction is used here to introduce a conclusion based on the statement of the previous verse. our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. The pronoun is first personal in reference to Paul and Luke and then inclusive of the recipients of the letter.
Lord: Grk. kurios may mean either (1) 'one in control through possession,' and therefore owner or master; or (2) 'one esteemed for authority or high status,' thus lord or master. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, the great majority of times to replace Heb. YHVH (SH-3068) (DNTT 2:511). Paul uses kurios here of Yeshua, the principal title by which disciples and members of the public addressed Yeshua during his earthly ministry. Yeshua is the owner-master of his disciples.
arose: Grk. anatellō, perf., may mean (1) cause to rise, the sun; or (2) move upward from an originating point, arise. The second meaning applies here, fig. "spring from birth" (Mounce). Some versions translate the verb as "sprang/sprung from" (AMPC, ASV, BRG, DRA, JUB, KJV, TLV, WEB). Other versions have "came from" (CEB, CEV, CSB, GW, NOG, NCV, NIRV, NLT, WE), which diminishes the force of the verb. Some versions translate the verb as "descended" (AMP, ESV, NASU, NIV, NRSV), interpreting the verb as a term of genealogy, but Paul makes a different point here.
Important to consider is that the verb occurs in other passages that represent Messianic imagery. Matthew likens Yeshua's arrival in Galilee as light dawning (Matt 4:16). Peter used the expression, "the morning star arises in your hearts" (2Pet 1:19). Ellicott points out that the same verb is used in two Messianic prophecies: (1) "A star will arise from out of Jacob," Numbers 24:17; and (2) "the sun of righteousness shall arise," Malachi 4:2.
Of interest is that the related noun anatolē ("a rising," "dawn") is used in the LXX to translate "the Branch" (Heb. tsemach) in two Messianic prophecies: Jeremiah 23:5; and Zechariah 3:8. The concept of "the Branch" first appears in Isaiah 11:1, 10 as a descendent of Jesse, father of David. The Magi also used the term anatolē in association with the arrival of the King of the Jews (Matt 2:2). Thus, Paul's intent in using the verb anatellō was to emphasize fulfillment of prophecy.
out of: Grk. ek, prep. See verse 5 above. Judah: Grk. Iouda, which transliterates Heb. Y'hudah ("praise YHVH," Gen 29:35; BDB 397), son of Jacob and progenitor of the tribe of Judah. Although born fourth (Gen 29:35) to Jacob's wife Leah, Judah benefited greatly from Reuben's forfeiture of his leadership rights after defiling his father's bed (Gen 35:22; 49:4; 1Chr 5:1ff). Indeed, far more is said about the tribe of Judah in the Scriptures than any other tribe.
Before he died Jacob pronounced blessings on his twelve sons. In his patriarchal blessing of Judah (Gen 49:8-12) Jacob offers four prophecies of Judah's future (Gen 49:8-12). Moses summarizes these themes in his blessing on Judah (Deut 33:7). First, Judah would be the leader of his brothers. As a testament to this preference Judah went first in the order of march in the wilderness and was always the largest tribe in numbers. Second, Judah would be a great conqueror, which was manifest very early by Caleb and Othniel (Jdg 1:11-15, 20; 3:9-11). King David who came from Judah then accomplished the greatest military conquests in Israel's history.
Third, Judah would produce a royal line of kings and after King Saul God would never give legitimacy to any king that did not come from the tribe of Judah. Fourth, Jacob used the name "Shiloh" to promise that the Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah (Gen 49:10). The Talmud lists Shiloh as one of the names of the Messiah (Sanh. 98b) and the most ancient Jewish commentary on Genesis, Bereshit Rabba, also adopts this interpretation (Varner 47), as does the noted Jewish commentator Rashi (note on Gen 49:10). In addition, the Messiah would be born of David's line in a town of Judah, Bethlehem (2Sam 7:12-16; Mic 5:2). The nativity accounts of Yeshua confirm Jacob's prophecy.
Paul points out that our Lord Yeshua the Messiah arose out of the tribe of Judah. Only here and in Revelation 5:5 is Yeshua said to belong to this tribe. The lineage is established in the apostolic narratives, since Miriam his mother was a descendent of Judah (Luke 3:23–33), and so was Miriam's husband Joseph (Matt 1:3-16). Various persons in the apostolic narratives identified Yeshua as the "son of David" (Matt 9:27; 15:22; 20:30; 21:9). In his sermon in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:22-23) and two letters (Rom 1:3; 2Tim 2:8) Paul states forthrightly that Yeshua descended from the seed of David.
for: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 2 above. tribe: Grk. phulē. See the previous verse. Moses: Grk. Mōusēs transliterates Heb. Mosheh (Ex 2:10). Born into the tribe of Levi about 1525 BC in Egypt there is no greater figure in the Tanakh than Moses. The story of Moses is found in the extensive narratives from Exodus 1:1 through Deuteronomy 34:1. His life can be easily divided into three 40-year periods, the first being his birth and early life in Egypt (Acts 7:23), the second his years in Midian (Acts 7:30), and the third from the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt through the years spent in the wilderness until his death (Ex 7:7; 16:35; Num 14:33; Deut 2:7; Josh 5:6; Acts 7:36). He had two wives and two sons (Ex 18:2-4; Num 12:1).
During the last third of his life Moses served Israel as deliverer, judge, mediator, lawgiver, priest, elder, prophet and scribe. Moses was privileged to speak with ADONAI "face to face" (Ex 33:11). He was noted for his humility (Num 12:3) and his faithfulness to God (Heb 11:23-29), and being anointed of the Spirit (Num 11:17). He died at the age of 120 in the land of Moab (Deut 34:1-7). Moses left Israel and the Body of Messiah with the rich legacy of the first five books of the Bible (Ex 24:4). Moses was a giant of a man. For a summary of his life and deeds see my article Moses, Servant of God.
spoke: Grk. laleō, aor., to exercise the faculty of speech and to make an oral statement; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak. nothing: Grk. oudeis, adv. See the previous verse. concerning: Grk. peri, prep., prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; about, concerning, in behalf of. priests: pl. of Grk. hiereus. See verse 1 above. Paul affirms that Moses provided no instruction permitting members of the tribe of Judah to perform priestly functions.
15 And it is even more evident if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek,
And: Grk. kai, conj. it is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. even: Grk. eti, adv. See verse 10 above. more: Grk. perissoteros, comparative adj., exceeding a standard of abundance; greater, more important, even more, so much more. evident: Grk. katadēlos, adj., quite clear or evident; apparent, obvious. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. if: Grk. ei, conj. See verse 11 above. The conjunction is used to introduce a statement of reality. another: Grk. heteros, adj. See verse 11 above. priest: Grk. hiereus. See verse 1 above.
arises: Grk. anistēmi, pres. mid. See verse 11 above. The verb could also be translated as "appears" (CEB, CSB, NIV). Since the conclusion refers to Yeshua, the verb could also hint at his resurrection, since the verb is used with this meaning in various passages (Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34; 16:9; Luke 24:7; John 20:9; Acts 2:24; 13:33). according to: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 5 above. the likeness: Grk. ho homoiotēs, a condition that is like; likeness, in like manner. In the LXX homoiotēs translates Heb. min (SH-4327), kind, species (Gen 1:11, 12). Guthrie interprets the use of this term as a substitute for "order" and points to a foreshadowing of a successor.
of Melchizedek: Grk. Melchisedek. See verse 1 above. Paul will explain the "likeness" in the next two verses, but likeness to Melchizedek could pertain to Yeshua's earthly ministry. Like Melchizedek, the "king of Salem," Yeshua was descended from the royal line of David (Matt 1:1; Acts 13:22-23), prophesied to occupy the throne of David (Luke 1:32), and recognized as king of the Jews (Matt 2:2; 27:37). Like Melchizedek Yeshua received financial gifts (Luke 8:3; John 12:6).
Like Melchizedek, the "priest of Salem," Yeshua performed the priestly role of pronouncing blessing on people (Matt 13:16; 16:17; Mark 10:16) and mediating God's mercy (Matt 9:2; Luke 7:47). Like Melchizedek, the "king of righteousness," Yeshua advocated righteousness in character and conduct (Matt 3:15; 5:6, 19-20; 6:33; 19:17; John 7:24).
16 who has come to be, not according to instruction of a commandment about heredity, but according to the power of an indestructible life.
who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun; used of Yeshua. has come to be: Grk. ginomai, perf. See verse 12 above. The verb refers to taking up the office of priest as noted in the previous verse. Thus, some versions translate the verb as "become a priest" (CEB, CJB, CSB, ESV, LEB, TLB, NASU, NET, NIV, NRSV, RSV). Guthrie notes that Yeshua's priesthood is inextricably linked to his incarnation. not: Grk. ou, adv. according to: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 5 above. Some versions have "on the basis of" (AMP, ESV, ISV, NASU, NIV). instruction: Grk. nomos. See verse 5 above. The term could refer to a statute or a principle derived from a statute.
of a commandment: Grk. entolē. See verse 5 above. about heredity: Grk. sarkinos (from sarx, "flesh"), adj., belonging to worldly matters or conditions. Noteworthy is that this term occurs elsewhere only in Paul's letters (Rom 7:14; 1Cor 3:1; 2Cor 3:3). This term lacks the heavy derogatory sense of sarkikos ("carnal," e.g. 1Cor 3:3) (HELPS), so the translation of "carnal" in some versions (ASV, BRG, DRA, KJV, NMB, RGT), could be easily misunderstood. Thayer defines the use of sarkinos here as pertaining to the physical body, which is how the term was used in Greek literature (LSJ).
In this context in which Paul is making a point about lineage Danker says the term is "dealing with ancestral connection." Paul refers to the divine instruction in the Torah that the high priest be a descendant of Aaron (Ex 29:9; 30:30). Moreover the high priest could have no physical defect, disfigurement or deformity (Lev 21:17-21). Many versions translate sarkinos here as "bodily/physical descent" (AMPC, CEB, CJB, CSB, EHV, ESV, NABRE, NCB, NET, NRSV, NTE, RSV, TLV). The MSG has "genealogical descent," NIV has "ancestry" and OJB and VOICE have "human lineage."
but: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. according to: Grk. kata. the power: Grk. dunamis (from dunamai, "having ability"), an exhibition of a singular capability, a powerful or wondrous deed or miracle. In the LXX dunamis translates five different Hebrew words, where it generally refers to military forces, first in Genesis 21:22 (DNTT 2:602). Dunamis does appear in various LXX passages to emphasize the power or might of ADONAI to act, especially for the benefit of Israel (e.g., Ex 7:4; Deut 3:24; Josh 4:24; Ps 21:1, 13; 46:1).
of an indestructible: Grk. akatalutos (from alpha, as a neg. prefix, and kataluō, "to destroy, overthrow"), adj., not subject to dissolution, indestructible and therefore endless. Zodhiates, however, insists that the term has nothing to do with time but with the character of being indissoluble. life: Grk. zōē. See verse 3 above. McKee suggests that the description of Yeshua here contrasts with the Torah requirement that priests retired at age 50 (Num 4:2-3; 8:24-25). Zodhiates says that the life of the Messiah is declared as distinct from the life of someone else, life that was not acquired and that cannot be done away with.
The lives of animals sacrificed by the priests ceased to exist, but when Yeshua sacrificed himself as the Lamb of God, his life did not permanently end. Paul explains what he means by "indestructible life" in the next verse, but it would also naturally include the promise of Psalm 16:10 that the Holy One would not suffer decay, which Paul quoted in his sermon in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:35). Yeshua has an indestructible life for three reasons. First, as the divine Son of God he had no beginning (John 1:1-2; 8:58; Col 1:17). Second, when his body died on the cross, his spirit went to the Father in heaven (Luke 23:43, 46). Third, his spirit was restored to his body in his resurrection (John 21:14; Acts 13:30).
17 For it is attested that, "You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek."
Reference: Psalm 110:4.
For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 1 above. it is attested: Grk. martureō, pres. pass. See verse 8 above. The passive mood stresses God as the subject (Rienecker). that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 8 above. The conjunction is used here to introduce a quotation of Scripture. Many versions do not translate the conjunction. Paul then quotes exactly repeats the LXX of Psalm 110:4 (LXX 109), which Guthrie calls the signature tune of this part of the letter (cf. 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:1).
Psalm 110 is typically classified as a royal psalm due to the mention of installing the King of Israel, as well as Messianic due to it prominent usage by Yeshua (Matt 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42-43) and Peter (Acts 2:34-35). The psalm is attributed to David in its superscription. Both Yeshua and Peter affirmed David's authorship. The psalm contains two prophetic oracles (i.e., verbal revelations from ADONAI), reported by David under inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Mark 12:36).
The two oracles provide the structure of the psalm. Verses 1-3 and 4-7 each consist of a brief introduction, an oracle (in quotations), and its expansion (Broyles 414). Anderson suggests that the psalm might also have been composed when David was recognized as master of Jerusalem (2Sam 5:6-10) (767). The psalm presents David's Lord as King, Priest and Warrior (Kidner 427-431). See my commentary on Psalm 110.
You are: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. a priest: Grk. hiereus. See verse 1 above. The text does not say "high priest," as Paul says in 6:20, most likely because in the context of Salem there was no cadre of priests being supervised. forever: Grk. eis ho aiōn, lit. "into the age." The Greek term aiōn properly means an age or era ("time-span"), characterized by a specific quality or type of existence (HELPS). In the LXX aiōn translates Heb. ōlam (SH-5769), "long duration, antiquity or futurity" (BDB 761), first in Genesis 3:22. Olam is also used adverbially to mean "forever, for all time" (Gen 9:12), as well as ancient time (Gen 6:4; 49:26), and indefinite futurity (Deut 15:17).
In the Besekh Yeshua and the apostles generally speak of two specific ages – the present age (Heb. olam hazeh; Matt 28:20; Mark 10:30; Titus 2:12) and the age to come (Heb. olam haba; Matt 12:32; Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30). The olam haba is that time after the Second Coming when Messiah rules the earth, extending into the endless ages of eternity that will follow the final judgment (Rev 22:5). The temporal reference stresses the indefinite perpetuity of the priestly office.
according to: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 5 above. the order: Grk. ho taxis may mean (1) a position or turn in an orderly sequence of activity, order (Luke 1:8); (2) arrangement for activity, order; or (3) a condition of being orderly (1Cor 14:40; Col 2:5). Danker assigns the second meaning to this verse. In the LXX of Psalm 110:4 taxis translates Heb. dibrah (SH-1700), a cause, reason or manner, of which BDB assigns "manner" as the meaning (184). Originally a military term taxis properly denotes placing one member over another in rank (HELPS).
of Melchizedek: Grk. Melchisedek. See verse 1 above. The phrase "order of Melchizedek" might cause the Christian reader to think of a religious order as exists in Christianity. As a contrast to the "order of Aaron" that emphasized genealogical lineage, the "order of Melchizedek" stresses the royal aspect of the office.
18 For indeed there has come to pass a setting aside of the previous commandment, because of its weakness and ineffectiveness,
For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 1 above. indeed: Grk. mén, adv. See verse 2 above. The adverb is used to stress the following undeniable fact. there has come to pass: Grk. ginomai, pres. pass. See verse 12 above. The present tense is used to give vividness to a past event. a setting aside: Grk. athetēsis, a setting aside, a legal term for annulment or cancellation of a legal enactment. of the previous: Grk. proagō, pres. part., may mean (1) to bring from one position to another by taking charge, to lead out; or (2) to go or come before, to precede. The second meaning is intended here. commandment: Grk. entolē. See verse 5 above.
The "previous commandment" set aside is the one that appointed the sons of Aaron as high priest and designated their ministry of atonement. Contrary to some Christian interpretation Paul does not say that the entire Torah has been set aside or annulled. because of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 9 above. The preposition as used here stresses causality. its: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. weakness: Grk. asthenēs, adj., may mean (1) weak in body; sick, sickly; or (2) lacking capacity for something, weak. The second meaning applies here. The adjective probably alludes to the mortality of the human high priest as well as his own inherent sinfulness.
and: Grk. kai, conj. ineffectiveness: Grk. anōphelēs, adj., useless or unprofitable, but used here as a noun to mean ineffectiveness. The adjective probably alludes to the limitation of the sacrificial system in scope of sins for which atonement was offered and the personal benefit of sacrifice to the individual Israelite. Paul will detail the weaknesses and ineffectual aspects of Aaron's ministry in Chapters Nine and Ten.
Paul's purpose here is not to impugn the Aaronic priesthood as it functioned according to God's instruction in the former age. Rather the point here is to compare the order of Aaron with the order of Melchizedek in order to assert the superiority of Melchizedek as fulfilled by Yeshua and detailed in verses 22-28 below.
19 for the Torah perfected nothing. Now there is a bringing-in of a better hope through which we draw near to God.
for: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 1 above. the Torah: Grk. ho nomos. See verse 5 above. The mention of Torah is in reference to the instruction for priestly sacrifices. perfected: Grk. teleioō, aor., bring to a point at which nothing is missing, and the focus may be (1) carrying out a task or responsibility; complete; (2) bringing something to a designed conclusion; complete; or (3) bringing to the ultimate point of maturation; complete, to perfect. The third focus is in view here.
In the LXX teleioō occurs 25 times with the same range of meaning and generally with the semantic content of being perfect and whole (DNTT 2:60). It translates four different Hebrew verbs: (1) Heb. malê (SH-4390), to be full, to fill the hand (Ex 29:9); (2) Heb. tamam (SH-8552), to be complete or finished (1Kgs 7:22); (3) Heb. kalah (SH-3615), to be completed, at an end (2Chr 8:16); (4) Heb. asah (SH-6213), to be done (Neh 6:9, 16). The last three verbs are used of completing Temple construction.
nothing: Grk. oudeis, adv. See verse 13 above. Many versions place this first clause in parentheses, since it is not connected in thought to the rest of this verse. The clause simply summarizes the two adjectives of the previous verse and anticipates the analysis later in the letter of the efficacy of sacrifices (Heb 9:7, 9, 12-14; 10:1, 4, 11). Simply put the Torah could not bring about spiritual maturity (Fruchtenbaum). In reality the Torah code of commandments was designed as a curse containment system to restrain sinful inclinations and provide a remedy for the harm caused by wickedness. See my comment on Galatians 3:19 where Paul addresses this subject.
Now: Grk. de, conj. See verse 2 above. Many versions treat the conjunction as presenting a sharp contrast with the translation of "but." In my view the conjunction adds to the thought of verse 16 and introduces a transition into presenting the powerful argument of the next section. there is a bringing-in: Grk. epeisagōgē, a bringing in, whether for addition or substitution; introduction (Mounce). The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. Some versions translate the noun as a verb, "is introduced" (CEB, CJB, CSB, ESV, NIV, RSV). of a better: Grk. kreittōn, adj. See verse 7 above. hope: Grk. elpis may refer to (1) looking forward to something that is desirable, or (2) the basis of firm expectation. The second usage applies here.
Hope is a frequent theme in Paul's speeches and writings, generally used to mean confidence in the resurrection (Acts 23:6; Rom 5:2; 8:20-23; 1Cor 15:19) and the coming of the Messiah promised to the fathers (Acts 26:6-7; 28:20; Rom 15:12). Thus, a "better hope" exists only in Yeshua and could even function as a Messianic title. through: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 9 above. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 2 above. we draw near: Grk. eggizō ("eng-id'-zo"), pres., 1p-pl., come or draw near, approach.
In the LXX eggizō translates forms of Heb qarab (SH-7126), to come near or approach, first used in a spatial sense of proximity to a place (Gen 12:11); and Heb. nagash (SH-5066), to draw near or approach, first used of approaching God (Gen 18:23) (DNTT 2:53). to God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 1 above. Zodhiates notes that in the Tanakh the expression "draw near to God" especially refers to the priestly ministry of offering sacrifices (e.g., Ex 19:22; 24:2; Lev 10:3; Ezek 40:46; 42:13; 43:19; 44:13; 45:4).
Scripture speaks of God being near ("available") to men, especially His covenant people (Deut 4:7; Ps 34:18; 73:28; 145:18; Isa 55:6; Jer 23:23; Jas 4:8). Thayer defines the verb's usage here as "to turn one's thoughts to God, to become acquainted with Him." Zodhiates says that in the Besekh the verb means to worship God with a pious heart. Other commentators note that the verb emphasizes access to God (Barnes, Poole). Only through the "better hope," the resurrected Messiah, is there any possibility of being received and heard by God. Gill offers this explanation of what it means to draw near to God:
"This drawing nigh to Him is to be understood not locally but spiritually; it includes the whole worship of God, but chiefly designs prayer: and ought to be done with a true heart, in opposition to hypocrisy; and in faith, in opposition to doubting; and with reverence and humility, in opposition to rashness; and with freedom, boldness, and thankfulness: and it is through Christ and his priesthood that souls have encouragement to draw nigh to God; for Christ has paid all their debts, satisfied law and justice, procured the pardon of their sins, atonement and reconciliation for them; he is the way of their access to God; he gives them audience and acceptance; he presents their prayers, and intercedes for them himself."
Jacob, the Lord's half-brother, had written "draw near to God and He will draw near to you (Jas 4:8). Jacob explains "drawing near" as being contingent on cleansing one's hands, purifying one's heart and making sincere repentance. As Paul Tautges wrote, "We draw near to God through prayer and worship. When we come before Him with a humble heart, in submission to His will, and with a desire to glorify Him as Lord over our lives, we are able to experience the closeness of God and all the blessings that follow."
Drawing near to God could not be restricted to Temple rituals, especially considering that Yeshua had prophesied of the eventual loss of the Jerusalem temple as the center for worship (Matt 24:2; Luke 21:20; John 4:21). Paul was in Rome under house arrest when he wrote this letter, but he could still call on God. Indeed, Luke in Acts and Paul in his other letters reveal the passion of his prayer life (Acts 14:23; 16:25; 20:36; 21:5; 22:17; 28:8; Rom 8:26; 1Cor 14:15; 2Cor 13:7-9; Eph 1:18; Php 1:9; Col 1:3, 9; 4:3; 1Th 3:10; Phm 1:6). Paul also exhorted Yeshua's followers to greater prayer (Eph 6:18-19; 1Th 5:17, 25; 2Th 3:1; 1Tim 2:8).
A great illustration of what it means to draw near to God can be found in the life Brother Lawrence (born Nicolas Herman 1605–1691), a French Carmelite monk noted in history for his close walk with God and his ability to bring God into every aspect of his life. He developed the habit of continually conversing with God. The development and practice of his spiritual life is chronicled in the book The Practice of the Presence of God: The Best Rule of Holy Life.
This classic collection of letters and teachings of Lawrence published by Fr. Joseph de Beaufort (1692) reveals that Lawrence's life was one of passion for spiritual matters. He rejoiced in everyday tasks, prayed constantly, and was known around the monastery for his kindness and willingness to help others. This book offers an understanding of what it means to draw near to God and constantly be in His presence.
The Superiority of the Son's Priesthood, 7:20-28
20 And inasmuch as it was not without an oath; for indeed those ones have become priests without an oath,
Reference: Psalm 110:4.
And: Grk. kai, conj. inasmuch as: Grk. kata hosos, by so much as, inasmuch as (Thayer). Mounce has "since." it was not: Grk. ou, adv. without: Grk. chōris, prep., in a condition or circumstance not including; without, apart from. an oath: Grk. horkōmosia, affirmation on oath, the taking of an oath, an oath. This technical term occurs only in this chapter in the Besekh. Paul alludes to the assertion in Psalm 110:4 that "ADONAI has sworn." The fact that the God of Israel swore an oath concerning appointment to priestly office signifies its absolute truth and superiority, and emphasizes that it is included in the irrevocable actions of God (cf. Rom 11:29).
Some versions begin verse 21 at this point even though the Greek text does not (ASV, KJV, NASU, NKJV, RSV). for: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 1 above. indeed: Grk. mén, conj. See verse 2 above. those ones: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. have become: Grk. ginomai, pl. perf. part. See verse 12 above. priests: pl. of Grk. hiereus. See verse 1 above. The term is used here of Levitical priests. without: Grk. chōris. an oath: Grk. horkōmosia.
Paul refers to the fact that ADONAI swore no oath in the selection of Aaron as high priest and an oath was not included in the ordination ceremony of Levitical priests. In the Torah the expression of swearing an oath by ADONAI is used in only three circumstances: (1) the frequent reminder that ADONAI had sworn the promised land to the patriarchs and their heirs (Ex 6:8; Num 11:12; Deut 1:8); (2) ADONAI swore that the evil generation in the wilderness would not inherit the Land (Num 32:10-11; Deut 2:14); and (3) ADONAI swore that He would have war against Amalek from generation to generation (Ex 17:16).
21 but he with an oath through the One saying to him: "ADONAI has sworn and will not change His mind, 'You are a priest forever.'"
Reference: Psalm 110:4.
but: Grk. de, conj. he: Grk. ho, definite article, m.s., but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. The CJB has "Yeshua." Some Christian versions have "Jesus" (GNB, GW, ISV, NET, NIRV, NLT). Some versions insert "became/was made a priest" (CJB, CSB, ESV, GNB, GW, ISV, NCV, NIV, NRSV). with: Grk. meta, prep. with a root meaning of "in the midst of" (DM 107), may be used (1) as a marker of association; with, among; or (2) as a sequential marker; after, behind. The first usage is intended here. an oath: Grk. horkōmosia. See the previous verse.
through: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 9 above. the One: Grk. ho, used here as a substitution for the sacred name. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 11 above. to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near" or "facing" and normally conveys motion toward (DM 110); to, toward, with. Following the verb "saying," the preposition denotes "with regard to." him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The phrase "saying to him" is used here to introduce quoted Scripture, Psalm 110:4. In the context of Psalm 110 (explained in verse 17 above), the pronoun refers to the one David identified as "my Lord" in verse 1.
This calls to mind the debate Yeshua engaged in with his Pharisee adversaries:
41 Now while the P'rushiym [Pharisees] were gathered together, Yeshua also questioned them back, 42 saying, "What do you think concerning the Messiah? Of whom is He the son?" They said to Him, "Of David." 43 He said to them," How, then, does David in the Ruach [Spirit] call Him 'Master,' saying 44 'ADONAI said to my Master, "Sit at my right hand, until I put Your enemies under Your feet"? 45 If, then, David calls Him 'Master,' how is He his son?" 46 And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare question Him anymore." (Matt 22:41-46 MJLT)
Perhaps Paul was even among the Pharisees that heard Yeshua that day. In his clever challenge Yeshua implied that he was the Master of David mentioned in the Psalm. Now Paul can acknowledge the truth of Yeshua's revelation. ADONAI: Grk. kurios (for Heb. YHVH). See verse 14 above. has sworn: Grk. omnuō, aor., to take an oath affirming the veracity of what one says; swear. In the quoted verse of the LXX omnuō translates Heb. shaba (SH-7650), to take an oath, swear (BDB 989).
The Hebrew word for swear is derived from the feminine form of the word for "seven" (Heb. sheba) and there is evidence in ancient literature that it was not uncommon to seal an agreement by the number "seven." A relationship between the two words is suggested in the narrative of Genesis 21. Abraham sealed an oath to Abimelech by giving seven ewe lambs as a witness (Gen 21:22-34), and Abraham named the well where he and Abimelech met "Beersheba" or "Well-of-the-seven-oath" (Gen 21:31). Thus, the literal meaning of the Hebrew word "swear" is to "seven oneself, or bind oneself by seven things" (BDB 989).
and: Grk. kai, conj. will not: Grk. ou, adv. change His mind: Grk. metamelomai (from meta, "with," and melō, "to care, be concerned"), fut. pass., to experience a change of concern after a change of emotion and usually implying to regret, i.e. falling into emotional remorse afterwards (HELPS). In the LXX of this verse metamelomai translates Heb. nacham (SH-5162), to be sorry, to console oneself (BDB 636). You are: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. a priest: Grk. hiereus. See verse 1 above. forever: Grk. eis ho aiōn (for Heb. l'olam), lit. "into the age." See verse 17 above.
The Textus Receptus added the phrase "according to the order of Melchizedek" to the end of the verse with little manuscript support and thus included in the KJV. It is likely that scribes felt the temptation to add the phrase from verse 17 (Metzger).
22 By so much also Yeshua has become the guarantor of a better covenant.
By: Grk. kata, prep. so much: Grk. tosoutos, demonstrative pronoun used to express intensity; so great, so much. also: Grk. kai, conj. The first phrase signifies "accordingly" or "in this way." The TLV makes it a dramatic with "How much more then has." Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221). For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his identity, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua?
has become: Grk. ginomai, perf. See verse 12 above. the guarantor: Grk. egguos, adj., one who serves as security, a legal metaphor; security, surety, guarantee, guarantor. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. The majority of versions have "guarantee," but some have "guarantor" (CJB, ESV, NIV, TLV). of a better: Grk. kreittōn, adj. See verse 7 above. covenant: Grk. diathēkē (from diatithēmi, "to set out in order"), a formal agreement having complete terms determined by the initiating party, which also are fully affirmed by the one entering the agreement (HELPS).
In Classical Greek literature the term diathēkē always meant the disposition which a person makes of his property in prospect of death, i.e., his "last will and testament" (Zodhiates). This is the first of seventeen times this term occurs in Hebrews, which emphasizes the unique nature of the letter (Fruchtenbaum). In the LXX diathēkē translates Heb. b'rit (SH-1285), pact, compact, or covenant (BDB 136), used first in Genesis 6:18 of the covenant with Noah.
The Jewish translators of the LXX might have chosen to use sunthēkē, which only means an agreement, but instead they chose uniformly to translate b'rit with diathēkē (DNTT 1:365). Zodhiates explains that diathēkē was chosen because it had the meaning of will or testament (425). According to LSJ there is only one instance of its use in the sense of covenant in the whole of Greek literature, namely in Aristophanes. In the third century B.C. there was no better word available to express the Hebrew idea of a solemn and irrevocable disposition made by God Himself of His own gracious choice and meant to secure a religious inheritance to His chosen people.
The term b'rit is used regularly in the Tanakh of a formal compact unilaterally initiated by God with ones He chose for a close relationship and which makes certain absolute promises to the human parties (Thayer). Each of the divine covenants also set forth specific expectations, duration and a sign or perpetual reminder of the covenant. Thus, here b'rit refers to a declaration of God's will, not the result of an agreement between two parties. The divine covenant was "with" a beneficiary only in the sense of their being chosen by God. The participation of the "one chosen" was to accept it or reject it and then upon acceptance to obey its expectations.
In this verse the expression "better covenant" alludes to the New Covenant. In the next chapter Paul will explain why the New Covenant is better. The One who is the guarantor of this covenant assumes the responsibility that its promises will be fulfilled. The apostolic narratives record that at his Last Seder in the upper room Yeshua declared the inauguration of the New Covenant to his disciples. "This is my blood of the covenant, which is being poured out concerning many for forgiveness of sins" (Matt 26:28 BR). The term "many" is idiomatic for the beneficiaries (Israel and Judah) of God's mercy declared in the original promise of the New Covenant (Jer 31:31, 34; 33:8).
The New Covenant was then extended to the nations (Jer 33:9; Ezek 37:28; Zech 2:11; 8:22-23), thus declaring universal atonement. Mark records the statement as "This is my blood of the covenant which is being poured out on behalf of many" (Mark 14:24). Mark omits the phrase "forgiveness of sins," but it is implied. Luke records Yeshua's declaration as "This cup is the new covenant in my blood" (Luke 22:20). Luke is the only one to specify "new" covenant and Paul incorporates this wording in his Last Supper liturgy (1Cor 11:25). In other words, the blood of Yeshua shed on the cross is the guarantee of the inauguration of the New Covenant.
23 And those indeed are many having become priests, being prevented from continuing in office because of death,
And: Grk. kai, conj. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. indeed: Grk. mén, conj. See verse 2 above. are: Grk. eimi, pres., 3p-pl. See verse 2 above. many: pl. of Grk. pleiōn, adj., the comparative form of polus ("much, many"), greater in quantity or quality, here the former. having become: Grk. ginomai, pl. perf. part. See verse 14 above. priests: pl. of Grk. hiereus. See verse 1 above. To say "many" became priests could be an understatement since in the history of ancient Israel there were tens of thousands of priests.
Of course, Paul may only have been considering those who held the office of high priest. From Aaron (1445 B.C.) to Ananus b. Ananus (A.D. 62), high priest when this letter was written, there were 78 that served as cohen ha-gadol. See the complete name list of high priests in the history of Israel in the Jewish Encyclopedia article High Priest. being prevented from: Grk. kōluō, pres. pass. inf., to stop someone from doing something; hinder, prevent. continuing in office: Grk. paramenō, pres. inf., to remain in close association with someone, to remain or continue in a state or condition.
because of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 9 above. death: Grk. ho thanatos, death, which may be used of (1) natural death; (2) death as a penalty; (3) the manner of death; or (4) fig. of death as a personification (BAG). The first meaning applies here. In the LXX thanatos translates Heb. maveth (SH-4194), death, which has the same range of meaning (first in Gen 21:16). Because of the curse of death every high priest (and their successors) from the time of Aaron was prevented from continuing to serve in office because of death.
24 but because of his abiding forever, he holds a permanent priesthood,
but: Grk. de, conj. because of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 9 above. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. abiding: Grk. menō, pres. inf. See verse 3 above. forever: Grk. eis ho aiōn (for Heb. l'olam), lit. "into the age." See verse 17 above. Yeshua ever lives at the right hand of the Father. he holds: Grk. echō, pres. See verse 3 above. a permanent: Grk. aparabatos, adj., not liable to pass to another; permanent, without successor. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. priesthood: Grk. ho hierōsunē. See verse 11 above. The new priesthood of Yeshua remains uninterrupted, making Yeshua a better high priest.
25 Consequently also, he is able to save to the uttermost those drawing near through him to God, always living to intercede for them.
Consequently: Grk. hothen, adv., a marker of derivation, here denoting a result. also: Grk. kai, conj. he is able: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid., the quality or state of being capable, often as an exhibition of a singular capability. to save: Grk. sōzō, pres. inf., to deliver, or rescue from a hazardous condition; save, rescue. In the LXX sōzō translates no less than 15 different Hebrew verbs (DNTT 3:206), but the most important is malat (SH-4422), to escape, deliver, or save, first in Genesis 19:17 and yasha (SH-3467), to deliver, liberate and save (e.g., 1Sam 23:5).
The pious Israelite recognized that human agents might be used to bring about deliverance, but rescue ultimately comes from ADONAI Himself. In the Besekh sōzō frequently refers to deliver in the present from the penalty and power of sin by means of the atoning blood of Yeshua (Acts 2:47; 15:11; 16:31; Rom 10:9; Titus 3:5), as well as future deliverance from God's wrath on the Day of the Lord (Matt 24:13; Rom 5:9).
There is also an implied caveat. Paul says that Yeshua is "able to save," not that he saves everyone. Yeshua said in his sermon on the mount that "the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matt 7:14). Many people, like the early disciples, are incredulous that "few," whether Jew or Gentile, will be saved in the end (cf. Luke 13:22-23). Many Evangelicals are very optimistic about the success of evangelism. "If each one would win one the world would be won for Yeshua."
Such thinking is naïve and succeeds only in producing guilt for failure. Yeshua made no such promise to his disciples. The reality is that compared to the total world population that has ever lived or ever will live, few will enjoy eternal life with God, perhaps no more than 10%. In reality salvation has always been experienced by the few:
● In the antediluvian world only one family was saved out of billions (Gen 6:5-8, 17-18; 1Pet 3:20).
● God chose Israel, a people few in number, and condemned all other nations. Compare Deuteronomy 7:7 and Ezekiel 31 and 32.
● When Yeshua sent out the Twelve (Matt 10:5-14) and later the Seventy (Luke 10:1-12) he told them to seek those who were worthy, i.e., receptive, and if the message was rejected, then move to the next village. Disciples are not responsible for those who reject the good news.
to: Grk. eis, prep. the uttermost: Grk. ho pantalēs, adj., to a degree that is totally satisfactory; fully, all complete, entire. Yeshua does not grant salvation in half measures. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. drawing near: Grk. proserchomai, pl. pres. mid. part., to approach from a point to a person or place; come, go to, approach. The verb, similar to eggizō in verse 19 above, is used here in a figurative sense of coming to God in prayer, sacrifice, worship or devotion of heart and life (Zodhiates). Thus, salvation requires action by the seeker in order to be received.
Of relevance to Paul's exhortation proserchomai occurs in the LXX to translate Heb. qarab (SH-7126), to come near or approach, which is used for the congregation of Israel coming near and standing before the presence of God in order to experience the glory of God (Lev 9:5-6). Then the verb is used of Aaron approaching the altar to offer a sacrifice (Lev 9:7-8). The present tense of the verb emphasizes persistence in seeking God in prayer (cf. Luke 18:1).
through: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 9 above. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Yeshua, the Son. to God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 1 above. The noun is used here to refer to the Father. always: Grk. pantote (from pas, "all" and tote, "at that time"), adv., always, at all times, ever. living: Grk. zaō, pres. part. See verse 8 above. Yeshua continuously occupies the office of High Priest because he cannot die. to intercede: Grk. entugchanō, pres. inf., to approach or appeal; indicates approach to an authority with a request or plea in mind, as indicated by the context. Outside of Hebrews the verb occurs in reference to the ministry of Yeshua only in Romans 8:27. Intercession is the chief role of the Son in heaven.
for: Grk. huper, prep., lit. "over, above," used to express a stance of concern or interest relating to someone or something. With the genitive case of the pronoun following the preposition emphasizes a supportive aspect; for the advantage of, in behalf of, in the interest of. them: pl. of Grk. autos. The plural pronoun refers to those drawing near to God and considering the phrase "able to save" the drawing near must include confession and repentance.
26 For such was fitting also for us, a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, having been separated from sinners, and having become the highest of heaven.
For: Grk. gar, conj. such: Grk. toioutos, demonstrative pronoun, of this kind or sort. was fitting: Grk. prepō, impf., to be fitting, proper, or suitable. also: Grk. kai, conj. for us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. The plural pronoun refers to the covenant people. a high priest: Grk. archiereus (from archē, "chief, pre-eminent one" and hiereus, "a priest"), a high or chief priest, i.e., a leader among priests. In the LXX archiereus occurs only two times in the canonical books, but 41 times in the Apocrypha (DNTT 3:35).
In Leviticus 4:3 archiereus translates Heb. Hakohen Hamaschiach, "the anointed priest" and inserted in Joshua 24:33 without Heb. equivalent to describe Aaron. The title implies having authority over subordinate priests. See my discussion of the qualifications and responsibilities of the high priest at 5:1. Here the title is attributed to Yeshua. Paul then offers five points that explain why Yeshua is the most "fitting" high priest for mankind.
holy: Grk. hosios, adj., generally used to mean (1) undefiled by sin, free from wickedness, and characterizing the nature of deity (Acts 13:35; Heb 7:26; Rev 15:4; 16:5); or (2) religiously observing every moral obligation, pure, holy, pious, and applied as a characteristic of disciples of Yeshua (1Th 2:10; 1Tim 2:8; Titus 1:8). The first meaning is intended here. In the LXX hosios is used to translate Heb. yashar (SH-3477), adj., just, upright, to define the character of God (Deut 32:4).
Then hosios translates Heb. chasid (SH-2623), pious, godly, to denote the man who readily accepts the obligations which arise from the covenantal relationship to God (first in Deut 33:8), and occurring chiefly in the Psalms (DNTT 2:237). As applied to Yeshua hosios signifies a level of holiness not achievable by man. Human beings constantly fall short of the glory of God (cf. Eccl 7:20; Rom 3:23; Jas 3:2). Rightly do the angels say to the God of Israel, "You alone are holy" [Grk. hosios] (Rev 15:4). Yeshua was never tainted by inherited sin from Adam (2Cor 5:21; 1Jn 3:5), so his holiness is the greatest perfection one could imagine.
innocent: Grk. akakos, adj., free from evil in both intention and action; innocent, blameless. During his earthly ministry Yeshua broke no commandment God gave to Israel (John 8:29, 46) and even his adversaries acknowledged his faultless behavior (Matt 22:16). At his trial Caiaphas accused Yeshua of blasphemy (Mark 14:61-64), but in reality he spoke the truth. In the Roman trial Pilate concluded that Yeshua was innocent of any wrongdoing (John 19:4). The apostles affirmed that Yeshua committed no sin (Heb 4:15; 1Pet 2:22).
undefiled: Grk. amiantos (from alpha, as a negation, and miainō, "to defile"), adj., free from contamination; unstained, unsoiled, undefiled. The adjective alludes to the defilement or uncleanness that would preclude drawing near to God or His sanctuary. Noteworthy is that when Yeshua touched an unclean man to heal him (Matt 8:3) his uncleanness did not transfer to Yeshua. having been separated: Grk. chōrizō, perf. pass. part., may mean (1) to cause to be apart by space between or (2) sever connection by departure. The second meaning applies here with the sense of physical movement, which alludes to the ascension.
from: Grk. apo, prep. sinners: pl. of Grk. hamartōlos, adj., one who fails to meet religious or legal standards; sinful, sinner; also an outsider relative to the "in-group." In the LXX hamartōlos usually translates Heb. rasha (SH-7563; BDB 957), wicked, criminal (2Chr 19:2; Ps 3:7), but also Heb. chatta (SH-2400; BDB 308), sinful, sinners (Gen 13:13; Num 16:38) (DNTT 3:577). Generally in the Tanakh a "sinner" was someone who willfully violated Torah commandments, and which tended toward habitual practice. There are no sinners in heaven (Isa 52:1; Ezek 44:9; 1Cor 6:9; Gal 5:19-21; Rev 21:27; 22:14-15).
and: Grk. kai. having become: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. part. See verse 12 above. the highest: Grk. hupsēlos, adj., high, lofty. of heaven: pl. of Grk. ho ouranos refers to the area above the earth that encompasses three "heavens:" (1) the atmosphere (Matt 6:26; Rev 14:6; 19:17); (2) interstellar space (Matt 24:29); and (3) the transcendent dwelling-place of God (Matt 6:9; 2Cor 12:2). In the LXX ouranos translates the plural Heb. hashamayim (lit. "the heavens”), which has the same range of meaning (Ps 148:1-4) (DNTT 2:191). In Jewish tradition there are seven heavens (Hagigah 12b; Test. Levi 3:2-3). There are also "waters" above the heavens (Gen 1:7; Ps 148:4; Enoch 54:7-8).
While Scripture does not specifically mention seven heavens there are references to the "highest heavens" (Deut 10:14; 2Chr 2:6; Ps 68:33; 148:4), which may only be an allusion to the vast expanse of interstellar space (cf. Ps 103:11; 113:4; Isa 55:9). Many versions translate the last clause as "exalted" or "raised" "above the heavens" or words to that effect (e.g. CEB, CJB, CSB, ESV, GNB, MW, MJLT, NASU, NEB, NET, NIV, NJB, NRSV, RSV, TLV). This translation conveys a spatial idea. Of necessity the plural "heavens" would mean the first and second heaven and Yeshua passed through these into the third heaven (Fruchtenbaum).
The precise description of the location favors the singular translation of the noun. It would be nonsensical for Yeshua to be "above" the third heaven. The problem with the standard translation is there is no word that means "above" in the Greek text. The Greek text is lit. "high of the heavens having become." More likely the idea being conveyed is that Yeshua was elevated to the highest position in heaven, which is employed in these versions:
CEV: "honored above all beings in heaven."
EXB: "having the highest place in heaven."
GW: "who holds the honored position—the one next to God the Father on the heavenly throne."
NOG: "who has the highest position in heaven."
NLT: "has been given the highest place of honor in heaven."
VOICE: "exalted by God to the highest place of honor."
Yeshua's exalted position in heaven is dramatically portrayed by John (Rev 4:2-11; 5:6-14). Paul no doubt witnessed this scene when he was caught up to the third heaven (2Cor 12:2).
27 who has not a daily necessity, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices first for their own sins, then for those of the people; for this he did having offered up himself once for all.
Reference: Leviticus 9:2-8; 16:6, 15.
who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. The pronoun is masculine, so many versions translate the word as "He." has: Grk. echō, pres. See verse 3 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. Bengel notes that the negation has a double application to Yeshua, first as a regards the time period and then as regards the personal benefit. daily: Grk. kata hēmera, lit. "according to a day." The prepositional phrase has a distributive sense as something occurring daily (Thayer). Bible versions express this sense with the translation of "day by day," "day after day," "every day," or just "daily." necessity: Grk. anagkē, necessity; a compelling need requiring immediate action, i.e. in a pressing situation (HELPS).
as: Grk. hōsper, adv., an emphatic adverb intensifying hōs, "as;" just as, as, even as (HELPS). those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. high priests: pl. of Grk. archiereus. See the previous verse. Paul alludes to the high priests that have served in Israel's sanctuary since the time of Aaron and then describes their principal duty. to offer up: Grk. anapherō, pres. inf., to offer up to God, a technical religious term involving perception of an elevated site for the offering.
sacrifices: pl. of Grk. thusia, an official sacrifice prescribed by ADONAI, part of which was burned on the altar and part given to the priests and the persons offering the sacrifice (cf. Ex 34:15; Lev 8:31; Deut 12:27; 1Cor 10:18) (Zodhiates). Thus, thusia is distinguished from the burnt offering, which is totally consumed by fire (Ex 10:25; 18:12; Deut 12:6; cf. Mark 12:33). In the LXX thusia generally translates two Hebrew terms for sacrificial offerings: minchah (SH-4503) and zebach (SH-2077). The minchah was an offering made to God of any kind, whether of grain or animals.
However, in Torah sacrifice instructions minchah is used especially of the grain offering (Lev 2:1). The grain offering was a voluntary act of worship as recognition of God's goodness and provisions or an expression of devotion to God. The offering had to be grain, fine flour, olive oil, incense, baked bread, salt; no yeast or honey. The grain offering accompanied burnt offerings, sin offerings and peace offerings (along with a drink offering). The zebach was an animal sacrifice of which the flesh is eaten, especially of the peace offering, often at a pilgrim festival (e.g., Ex 12:27; 34:25).
The peace offering was a voluntary act of worship to express thanksgiving and fellowship. The offering had to be any animal without defect from herd or flock and a variety of breads. Unlike most sacrificial offerings, a peace or fellowship offering was eaten in part by the worshipper and his family, as if God had invited them to dinner at his table and his family. The peace offering is a celebration of shalom between all the participants. Thusia was also used of thank or praise offerings of the lips (Ps 27:6; 50:14; 107:22; 116:17; Heb 13:15).
first: Grk. proteros, adv., a temporal signifier pointing to the past and indicating something that occurred prior to the current time; in time past, earlier, before. However, proteros appears frequently in Greek literature with a wide variety of meaning and in the context of an order or sequence used as an ordinal number, "first" (LSJ). In the LXX proteros occurs one time and translates Heb. rishon (SH-7223), "former, first," (BDB 911), in 2Samuel 19:43 where it means first in order of priority. Thus, Paul does not refer to an act that used to occur, but not any longer.
for: Grk. huper, prep. See verse 25 above. their own: pl. of Grk. ho idios, belonging to oneself, one's own. sins: pl. of Grk. hamartia may refer to (1) a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness; (2) the result of sinning or the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. Hamartia is the dominant word for sin in the Besekh. In the LXX hamartia translates a range of Hebrew words for guilt and sin, particularly Heb. chata (SH-2398), miss, go wrong, lapse, sin (Gen 20:6; 39:9) and avon (SH-5771), iniquity, guilt, punishment for iniquity (Gen 15:16).
Throughout Scripture sin as a behavior is a violation of God's written commandments (Rom 3:20; 5:13; 7:7). The degree of intentionality is not a factor in defining sinful behavior. In Scripture hamartia does not include the imperfections that separate humanity from divinity, "falling short of the glory" (Rom 3:23). then: Grk. epeita, adv. used in references to time and order; thereafter, then, after that, afterwards. for those: pl. of Grk. ho. of the people: Grk. ho laos. See verse 5 above. The singular noun is intended in a corporate sense of the nation. This phrase refers to sacrifices with a national focus.
God specified that sacrifices were to be offered every morning and evening at the sanctuary (Ex 29:39). These sacrifices were not precisely "for the people" but to cleanse the sanctuary so that God would continue to dwell among His people (cf. Ex 29:36-37, 46; Lev 8:15; 16:33; Num 28:3-8). Notwithstanding, Philo reported that the high priest of his time offered prayers and sacrifices every day on behalf of the whole nation (Special Laws III, 131).
The scenario that Paul describes is one in which the high priest offers an atoning sacrifice for himself and then for the nation. However, the Torah does not record a commandment requiring the high priest to follow this sequence on a daily basis. The first mention of Aaron presenting a sacrifice for himself followed by an offering for the nation is in the context of his ordination (Lev 8:33-34; 9:2-8, 15). Then in the instruction for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the high priest was required to first sacrifice a sin offering for himself and his household and then for the people (Lev 16:6-11, 15-17, 24). Paul makes mention of this annual offering three times in this letter (9:25; 10:1, 3).
for: Grk. gar, conj. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. he did: Grk. poieō, aor., a verb of physical action, which may mean (1) to produce something material or bring something into existence; or (2) to express by deeds the feelings and thoughts of the mind; act, do, perform (Thayer). The second meaning applies here. In the LXX poieō translates chiefly Heb. asah (SH-6213), accomplish, do, make, work (first in Gen 1:7), and used of a wide range of human and divine activity. Yeshua completed the Torah requirement without the need of providing atonement for himself.
having offered up: Grk. anapherō, aor. part. himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun. once for all: Grk. ephapax, adv., once, once for all, opposite of repeatedly. Yeshua is not only a high priest, but as high priest he offered himself as the perfect Lamb of God (John 1:36). His atoning death occurred on Pesach, Nisan 15, A.D. 30, rather than Yom Kippur (Matt 26:2; John 19:14; 1Cor 5:7). Paul does not clarify the application of the adverb, but in this context it could have two meanings, probably both at the same time.
First, the adverb alludes to the beneficiaries of the sacrificial act, "the people." Therefore, "once for all" means that Yeshua's substitutionary death benefited the whole world and provided universal atonement (cf. John 3:16; Acts 2:39; Rom 5:15, 18; 6:10; 2Cor 5:14-15; Titus 2:11; 1Tim 1:15; 2:4-6; 4:10; 1Pet 3:18; 1Jn 2:2; 4:14). However, universal atonement did not result in universal salvation (cf. Matt 7:21; 1Cor 6:9; Gal 5:21). Second, the adverb alludes to the effect of the atonement in regard to "the sins." Yeshua's death atoned for all sins, including capital crimes (cf. Heb 1:3; 2:17; 8:12; 10:17).
As Paul will point out later in the letter the national atonement on Yom Kippur only cleansed sins committed in ignorance, or unintentional sins (9:7; cf. Acts 17:30). In fact, there were thirty-six specific transgressions for which the Torah specifies the punishment of karet, that is, being "cut off" from Israel without atonement, usually by death (cf. Ex 30:33; 31:14; Lev 7:25-27; John 8:3-5). The capital offenses are listed in the Mishnah (K'ritot 1:1).
Peter implied the complete adequacy of Yeshua's atonement in his early proclamations of the good news, accusing his audiences of being complicit in the illegal execution of Yeshua and then exhorting them to repent with the promise of God's mercy (Acts 2:36-38; 3:13-19). Then Paul made the superiority of Yeshua's atonement explicit in his sermon at the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch,
"Therefore let it be known to you, men, brothers, that through this One forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, indeed from all things which you were not able to be acquitted by the Torah of Moses." (Acts 13:38-39)
28 For the Torah appoints men as high priests, having weakness, but the word of the oath, which is after the Torah, appoints the Son having been consecrated forever.
For: Grk. gar, conj. the Torah: Grk. ho nomos. See verse 5 above. The noun affirms the written Torah as an authoritative document, which contrasts with the much later "oral law" of the rabbinic Sages. Think "Constitution of Israel." appoints: Grk. kathistēmi (from kata, "down," and histēmi, "to stand"), pres., set down in place, i.e. "put in charge," give standing authority or status, which enables someone to rule or exercise decisive force (HELPS); appoint, ordain. men: m.pl. of Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 8 above. as high priests: m.pl. of Grk. archiereus. See verse 26 above. By God's instruction only men could be priests.
having: Grk. echō, pres. part. See verse 3 above. weakness: Grk. astheneia (from alpha, as a negation, and sthenos, "strength"), without weakness, and here referring to an incapacity for functioning effectively because of some limitation or vulnerability. The term does not imply a physical disability because the high priest could not have a bodily defect (Lev 21:21). Rather the weakness is of a moral nature. Of course, the high priest wore beautiful sacred garments, but underneath he was still an ordinary man. The high priest was selected on the basis of genealogy and genetics, not because he was superior to or better than other men.
but: Grk. de, conj., used here for contrast. the word: Grk. ho logos is used primarily for a vocalized expression of the mind, here in reference to the revelation of ADONAI to David (Ps 110:4). In the LXX logos primarily translates Heb. dabar (SH-1697), speech or word, often used of a message, speech or saying of God (Ex 4:28; 19:7). of the oath: Grk. ho horkōmosia. See verse 20 above. which is: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. after: Grk. meta, prep. See verse 21 above. Here meta serves as a sequential marker.
the Torah: Grk. ho nomos. The commandment appointing Aaron and his descendants as high priest occurred in the 15th century B.C. and the revelation to David and composition of Psalm 110 occurred in the 10th century B.C. appoints the Son: Grk. huios. See verse 3 above. Paul intends that the Son of God mentioned in verse 3 above and possessing no disqualifying weakness has the office of high priest by virtue of the oath sworn by the God of Israel.
having been consecrated: Grk. teleioō, perf. pass. part. See verse 19 above. Gruber notes that the verb teleioō occurs 9 times in the Torah (LXX) as a religious term in connection with consecrating priests for service (Ex 29:9, 29, 33, 35; Lev 4:5; 8:33; 16:32; 21:10; Num 3:3). So, in my view the translation of "consecrated" in some Bible versions (BRG, KJ21, KJV, MW, RGT, WBT) is superior to "perfected." forever: Grk. eis ho aiōn, lit. "into the age." See verse 17 above. Mounce has "for all time." The high priesthood of Yeshua has no time limit, since he cannot die.
Anderson: A.A. Anderson, Psalms 73-150. The New Century Bible Commentary. Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1972.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Barnes: Albert Barnes (1798-1870), Notes on the Whole Bible (1834). Baker Book House, 1949. Online.
Bengel: Johann Albrecht Bengel (1687-1752), Gnomon of the New Testament (1742). 5 vols. Trans. by Marvin Vincent. T&T Clark, 1860. Online.
BBMS: Henry M. Morris, The Biblical Basis for Modern Science. Revised ed. Master Books, 2002. (Available in PDF at Christianbook.com)
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.
Broyles: Craig C. Broyles, Psalms. New International Biblical Commentary. Hendrickson Publishers, 1999.
Bruce: F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1964. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Coke: Thomas Coke (1747-1814), Commentary on the Holy Bible. 6 vols. Online.
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
Delitzsch: Franz Delitzsch, Psalms. Commentary on the Old Testament (C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, 1866-1891), Vol. 5. Hendrickson Publishers, 2006.
DNTT: Colin Brown, ed., Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 Vols. Zondervan Pub. House, 1975.
DSB: The Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing Co., 1995. [KJV with annotations by Dr. Henry M. Morris.]
Eisenbaum: Pamela Eisenbaum, annotations on "The Letter to the Hebrews," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Ellicott: Charles John Ellicott (1819–1905), Commentary for English Readers (1878). Online.
Farrar: Frederic W. Farrar (1831-1903), Hebrews, The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Cambridge University Press, 1891. Online.
Fruchtenbaum: Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, "Hebrews," Ariel's Bible Commentary: The Messianic Jewish Epistles. Ariel Ministries, 2005.
Gesenius: Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius (1786-1842), Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament. Trans. Samuel P. Tregelles (1846). Baker Book House, 1979. Online.
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
Gruber: Daniel Gruber, The Messianic Writings. Elijah Publishing, 2011. [Translation of the New Testament Majority Text and annotations by the author.]
Guthrie: Donald Guthrie, Hebrews. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1983. [Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Vol. 15].
HBD: Trent C. Butler, ed., Holman Bible Dictionary. Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1991. Online.
Hegg: Tim Hegg, A Commentary on the Book of Hebrews. Vol. 1. TorahResource, 2016.
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
Kaiser: Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., The Promise-Plan of God: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments. Zondervan, 2008.
Keil: C.F. Keil (1807-1888), Pentateuch, Vol. 1, Commentary on the Old Testament (C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, 1866-1891), Hendrickson Publishers, 1996. Online.
Kidner: Derek Kidner, Psalms 73―150: An Introduction and Commentary. InterVarsity Press, 1975. (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)
LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon (1889). rev. by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online
McKee: John Kimball McKee, Hebrews for the Practical Messianic. Messianic Apologetics, 2012.
Metzger: Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2nd ed. United Bible Societies, 1994.
Meyer: Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer (1800-1873), Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (1859). 21 vols. T&T Clark, 1880. Online.
Morris: Leon Morris, Hebrews. Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 12. Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.
Nicoll: W. Robertson Nicoll (1851–1923), The Expositor's Greek Testament (1897), 5 vols. Online.
Poole: Matthew Poole (1624–1679), A Commentary on the Holy Bible. Hendrickson Publishers, 1985. Online.
Rashi: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaqi (1040-1105), Commentary on the Tanakh. Online.
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, "Hebrews," A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament. Vol. 2. Zondervan Pub. House, 1980.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer (1828-1901), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Harper Brothers, 1889). Hendrickson Publishers, 2003. Online.
TLV: Tree of Life Version, Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society, 2014. Online.
Varner: William C. Varner, Jacob's Dozen. The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 1987.
Zodhiates: Spiros Zodhiates (1922-2009), ed. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. AMG Publishers, 1992, 1993.
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