Lecture 8 Exposition of Hebrews 7.1-28

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3. Melchizedek is great when compared to Abraham and Levi (7:1-10).

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Introduction

Read Genesis 14:18-20 and Psalm 110:4.

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http://www.galaxie.com/article/fm18-3-02

***see tithing in the mosaic law*** <-best section!

  • Abraham gave a tenth to Melchisedec before Levi was born
    • Therefore, Melchisedec > Levites.
  • Christ is a priest after the order of Melchisedec.
    • Therefore, Christ > the Levites.
  • The Jews tithed to the Levites
  • But Abraham tithed to Melchisedec
  • Melchisedec > Levites
  • Therefore, we should give >tithe (greater than 10%) to Christ who is after the order of Melchisedec

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J- E. Dillard, Bible Stewardship: A Brief Study of the Meaning and Practice of Stewardship in Bible Times with Applications to Our Own Day, 5th ed. (Nashville, TN: Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, n.d.), 67.

~Interesting, but the major point of the passage is not to teach a NT tithe.

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Author of that article teaches that since the tithe predates the Law, Christians should practice it. Capital punishment predates the Law, then ought Christians practice that? No, that’s a national law. Is tithing then best as a national law? The church is regulated by the NC. Do laws predating the Mosaic Law stand today?

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  1. Melchizedek remains a priest indefinitely (7:1-3)
    • Background information
      • Melchizedek blessed Abraham
      • Abraham gave a tithe of what he had captured in his recent victory over other kings.
      • The translation of Melchizedek is king of righteousness
      • He was the king of Salem, possibly Jerusalem.
      • Priesthood is in focus.
      • Without father, etc. Not literally, but in the sense that we do not have a record of it. No genealogy.
        • It’s because of this, that the author can prove his main point: Melchizedek remains a priest indefinitely. [b/c there was no record of him not being a priest of God, why do we assume that would have ended?]
        • 7:3 Clarifies that the preacher is comparing Melchizedek with Jesus, Son of God.
        • The point of similarity is the indefinite priesthood due to an endless life.
        • Just like there is no record of Melchizedek’s birth and death, so also Jesus literally lives forever.
  2. He is great (7:4-10).
    • Keep in mind:
      • The lineage of Abraham: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Levi.
      • Abraham is highly esteemed as the first of the patriarchs and as the one to whom God made the promises of the covenant.
    • Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek (7:4).
      • Since Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, Melchizedek is superior to Abraham.
    • Levitical priests collect tithes from Abraham’s descendants but Melchizedek collected a tithe from Abraham (7:5-7).
      • the law commands the Levitical priests to collect tithes.
      • They are collecting tithes from their fellow Israelites who are descendants of Abraham like they are.
      • In contrast, Melchizedek does not collect tithes from the descendants, but from Abraham himself. Plus, he’s not Abraham’s descendant.

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[goes without saying that the greater blesses lesser 7:7]

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  • Levitical priests receiving tithes are mortal, but Melchizedek “remains” (7:8)
    • similar to the point made in verse three. Melchizedek remains a priest perpetually according to the scriptural record. “Affirmed to be alive” refers to a lack of a record of Melchizedek’s death.
  • In a sense, Levi also paid tithes seminally to Melchizedek (7:9-10)
    • Not only did Abraham pay a tithe, so also did Levi. But in the law, the Levitical priests are the ones who receive the tithes. Seminally, then, Levi could be said to have actually paid a tithe!

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Major point: Melchizedek is great when compared to Abraham and Levi (7:1-10).

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Transition to 7:11-28…

Word study on τελειsω (“to make perfect”)

Exodus 29 discusses the ordination of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood. Because Aaron is mentioned specifically in Hebrews 5.4, this passage has a special relevance to this interpretation. In all four occurrences in this chapter (Ex. 29:9, 29, 33, 35), the verb τελειόω refers to the actual ordination ceremony that Aaron and his sons went through. In Leviticus, the occurrences are more spread out (4.5; 8.33; 16.32; 21.10), but they still always refer to a priest who has gone through the ordination process. Numbers 3.3 contains another reference to priests who have been ordained. In these verses, no indication of “validation” or “approval” occurs; they are simply stating that fact that a priest has been officially consecrated.

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Occurrences of τελειsω (to make perfect) in Hebrews fall into two categories: Jesus as the object and people as the objects. When Jesus is the object, the word follows the Pentateuchal cultic sense and means “to consecrate as priest” (2.10; 5.9; 7.28). When people are the object, there are two subdivisions based on the actor of the verb: the law or God.

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Conclusion: Τελειsω means “to put someone in the position in which he can come, or stand, before God” (Hb. 7:19; 10:1), whether in the narrower sense as a priest who may perform his cultic functions before God or in the broader sense as a non-priest, 10:14. Here again the τετελειωμένος (7:28) is χριστός[1]

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The conclusive verse is 7:19. The law could never put us in position in which we can stand before God (priestly or not). But the “better hope” can! We can now “draw near to God” with the better hope; the Law could not do that. In other words, drawing near to God is synonymous with τελειsω. The word here for “drawing near” also occurs in the Pentateuch with reference to the priestly service. See Exodus 19:22; Leviticus 21:21, 23.

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  1. Therefore, the Levitical Priesthood is Insufficient and Jesus’ Melchizedekian Priesthood is the Guarantee of a Better Covenant (7:11-28).
    1. The Levitical Priesthood and its Law are Insufficient and Arguments in Favour of Jesus’ Melchizedekian Priesthood (7:11-22)

    Main Argument: Jesus’ guaranteed covenant appoints him as priest in God’s presence. A priest in God’s presence through the Levitical priesthood was impossible.

    • The Levitical priesthood is insufficient[2](7:11-17).

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Intro: Read 7:11-12. If perfection, the priest’s ability or our enablement to truly come before God, was possible through the Levitical priesthood then there would not be a reason for another priest. And indeed the preacher has already established that Jesus came as High Priest in the order of Melchizedek, per the Psalmist. So if the Levitical priesthood was sufficient, why then should the psalmist have even mentioned a priesthood according to the order of Melchizedek?

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His 4 main points.

  • 1. (7:11) Another priest had to arise according to the order of Melchizedek as attested to by the Psalmist. [b/c the Psalmist says there is need for another priesthood.]
  • 2. (7:12) A new, coming priesthood means the present one is insufficient for “perfection.” By necessity,[3] the Law which it mediates is insufficient for perfection as well [b/c it was unable to effectively mediate the broken Law].
  • 3. (7:13-14) The Levitical priesthood is “clearly” insufficient because Jesus is not from the tribe of Levi. If Jesus were from the tribe of Levi, then his argument would fall flat. But since Jesus is from the tribe of Judah, this strengthens the argument that the priesthood from the tribe of Levi is insufficient, since Jesus came from Judah. If the Levitical priesthood was sufficient, Jesus would have come from Levi. [but Jesus, the High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek, came from Judah]
  • 4. (7:15-17) The fact that the Levitical priesthood is insufficient actually becomes evident[4] when this other priest, Jesus, actually arises in the likeness of Melchizedek. When that happened, the legal regulation for priesthood (physical descent) was superseded by another principle: the principle of an indestructible life. Thus, at the point in time when Jesus clearly entered heaven after the ascension (perfection), the principle of a priesthood of the indestructible life was inaugurated. [b/c an indestructible life is superior to physical descent (the priesthood, then, does not end).]
  • The Law the Levites Mediated is Insufficient; The Better Hope Brings Us Near to God (7:18-19).
    • One one hand…since we have a new priest, the Mosaic Law associated with that Levitical priesthood is of necessity set aside b/c it does not perfect (prepare anything for God’s presence).
      • Don’t forget, if you have a new priesthood, you must have a new Law, too. The preacher begins his discussion about the law now.
    • On the other, we have a better hope introduced that prepares us for God’s presence (7:19).
  • This better covenant is guaranteed (7:20-22).
    • Recall the 2 unchangeable things (6:18). Not only promised, but sworn. Same concept here: Not only is the hope introduced, but it is sworn (7:27)
    • This is not like the Levitical priests.
    • Because of this oath, Jesus himself has become the guarantee of better covenant (7:20).
  • Reasons for it being a better covenant (7:23-28)
    • Temporary priesthood vs. Permanent priesthood (7:23-24).
      • this is a better covenant because the priest who mediates it has a permanent priesthood.
      • This is unlike the Levitical priests who, though numerous, were required to be so because death prevented them from continuing.
      • A permanent priesthood results in eternal salvation (7:25)
        • Since Jesus lives forever, He is a priest that is permanent.
        • Jesus permanent priesthood results in eternal salvation because he will always intercede for us for all of eternity. [did you realize that Jesus’ permanent priesthood was required for you to have eternal salvation? And did you realize that your eternal salvation was based on Jesus’ prayers?]

btw, we needed such a high priest as this (7:26).

  • We needed a priest like this because of the magnitude of our sin. We are the exact opposite of the way Jesus is described here.
  • The Levitical priesthood was clearly insufficient especially in light of Jesus as described.
  • Jesus’ one time sacrifice is sufficient for all. Therefore, he does not continue to offer sacrifices.
    • When Jesus offered himself, he did it at one time and he did it for all.
    • Jesus does not need to offer sacrifices every day like the Levitical priests. Jesus sacrifice is sufficient.

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Summary Statement (7:28)

Law: Appoints weakness-bound men as high priests.

Guaranteed Covenant: Appoints a Son in God’s presence.

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The Law appointed high priests who were men of human weakness and human limitation. These priests were never able to truly enter into God’s presence or enable us to do so.

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But this sworn oath of the better covenant of Jesus does do that. We have a forerunner in God’s presence for us, forever.

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This is clearly the interpretation of chapter 7 because in chapter 8 we have the main point, the summary point of chapter 7. We also are confirmed in our interpretation of “perfection” when the preacher says that we have “one who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heavens.” Jesus is “a minister in the sanctuary in the true tabernacle.” We have Jesus, who has been installed as a high priest in heaven. The Levitical priests could never do this.

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  1. . Vol. 8: Theological dictionary of the New Testament. 1964- (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (82). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

  2. “could not bring us before God”

  3. Why the priesthood? Because people have broken the Law.

  4. “this is clearer”

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