SUMMARY.--The High Dignity of Melchizedec as a Priest. Abraham Paid Him Tithes. Thus Did the Aaronic Priesthood Confess His Superiority. A Type of a Priest Forever. Christ to be a Priest After the Order of Melchizedec. Hence, the Aaronic Priesthood Imperfect. Hence, too, the Law Must be Changed. Christ, the Priest of the New Covenant, Hath an Unchangeable Priesthood.
1-3. For this Melchizedec, king of Salem. See the account of him in Gen. 14:18-20. That he was a character of exceeding dignity is manifest, not only from the statements of Genesis, but of this chapter. There have been many speculations concerning his personality, but no man can lift the vail. He bursts upon us as a priest-king, king of Salem, or Jerusalem, which we now know from discoveries in Egyptian records existed even in those very early ages; priest of the most High God. There is no account of his parents, none of his birth, none of his death, none of the beginning or end of his priesthood; hence, he appears in the record without parents, genealogy, beginning or end, simply as one that liveth, a fit type of him whose priesthood and kingly state endure forever. Who met Abraham. See Gen. 14:20. Abraham was returning from the pursuit of marauders who had captured Lot, his nephew. Blessed him. The "great father," "the friend of God," thus acknowledges his superior spiritual dignity. 2. To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all. Tithes were paid to him as priest of the Most High. King of righteousness. Such is the meaning of Melchizedek. The word may not be the name, but a title. King of Salem. This means "King of Peace." It will be observed that the payment of tithes for religious purposes is at least 400 years older than the Jewish law. See also Gen. 28:22. 3. Without father, without mother. See note on verse 1. Nor end of life. None as he appears in history. As far as he is revealed to us he is a living character, one that lives right on, like unto the Son of God. The Apostle does not affirm this was absolutely so, but that it is thus that Melchizedek appears on the back ground of early history. He abideth, in the Sacred Record, a priest continually.
4-10. How great this man was. When one so great as Abraham recognized his superiority by paying him tithes. 5. The sons of Levi. The Aaronic priesthood, all of them of the tribe of Levi. Take tithes of the people according to the law. They require the enactment of the law in order to collect tithes of the people, their own brethren. The tithes are paid, not because of their great spiritual dignity, but because the law compels it. 6. But he whose descent is not counted from them. Melchizedek, who was not of the blood of Abraham or tribe of Levi, received tithes of Abraham, not because of the law, but because of his transcendent dignity. 7. The less is blessed by the better. Though Abraham had the promises of God Melchizedek, as the higher in spiritual dignity and nearer to God, blessed him. See Gen. 27:27-29. 8. Here men that die receive tithes. The Aaronic priesthood die, and the death of the high priest is a matter of record. Their mortality was a prominent feature, but in the case of Melchizedek, he who receives tithes liveth right on as far as the records tell us. We behold him only as a living priest, typical of a priest who liveth forever. 9. Levi also, who receiveth tithes. The sacred tribe of Israel, the tribe to whom tithes are paid, paid tithes to Melchizedek. 10. He was yet. All Israel, kings and priests, though yet unborn, were represented in Abraham. Hence Levi paid tithes, and thus confessed the superiority of the priesthood of Melchizedek.
11-17. The superiority of the priesthood of Melchizedek to that of Aaron in dignity having been shown, the imperfection of the latter is next pointed out. If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood. If it effected the complete pardon of sins and made men holy. What further need was there, etc. If it gave all needful spiritual blessings there would be no need of another priesthood. The Aaronic priesthood would have been continued on forever. But a change of the priesthood has been predicted, as will soon be shown. 12. For the priesthood being changed. The law as given "under the Levitical priesthood" (verse 11), and was all grouped around the priesthood as its very center. Of course, if the priesthood was changed the law of the old priesthood, the law of Moses, must go with it, and give place to a new law. 13. For he of whom these things are spoken. Of whom an unchangeable priesthood is predicted. Pertaineth to another tribe. All the priests of the Jewish dispensation had been of the tribe of Levi, but Christ was not of this tribe. 14. Our Lord sprang from Judah. In the genealogies as given by Matthew and Luke. The Messiah was to be the son of David. 15. It is yet far more evident. Still more clear than that the new High Priest should be of the tribe of Judah. That could be shown by an argument, because it was affirmed (1) that the Christ was to be the Son of David; (2) David was of Judah; (3) The Christ was to be a priest. On the other hand, without argument, is the clear affirmation that there was to be a new priesthood, a priest after the likeness of Melchizedec. 16. Who is made, etc. The Levitical priesthood based their claims on a a carnal commandment, a fleshly claim, that of hereditary right. Eleazer succeeded Aaron because he was his son, and so each high priest. The power of an endless life. The claim of the great high priest is not fleshly descent, but that he lives forever. He demonstrated his title to the office by rising from the dead. He was exalted to the kingly priesthood when he arose from the dead (Eph. 1:20). 17. Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek. See Ps. 110:4. This declares that the Christ shall be a priest, a priest forever, a priest not of the order of Aaron, but of Melchizedek; a priest-king whose office abideth continually.
18-22. A disannulling of the commandment going before. The old law and the Aaronic priesthood are abrogated because of their imperfection. They could not make men perfect. 19. For the law made nothing perfect. The law was only a preparatory arrangement. It did not fit men for eternal life. The bringing in of a better hope. See the Revision. The idea is: The law was disannulled and a "better hope" brought in, that of the gospel, by which we draw nigh unto God. 20. Not without an oath. God never interposed an oath except to show certainty and immutability. Thus he swore to Abraham (Gen. 22:16-18); to the rebellious Israelites (Deut. 1:34); to David, that his seed should endure forever (Ps. 89:4). Since the same solemn assurance is given concerning the priesthood of Christ, the meaning is that it is immutable. 21. For those priests. The Aaronic priests. Their priesthood did not rest upon an oath. Hence, it was not eternal; Christ's did, for God (see Psa. 110:4) gave it the sanctity of an oath. The solemn words are significant, "The Lord sware, and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever, etc." 22. By so much. By such solemn means was Jesus made a surety, the pledge and firm assurance. A surety is intended to secure absolute certainty. A better testament. Rather, covenant. Jesus became the pledge of the new covenant, the Gospel. God has established him as its high priest forever, by the sanctity of an oath. This is the line of argument.
23-28. Were many priests. Since they were removed by death there were in succession many Aaronic high priests. 24. But this man, etc. Christ was victorious over death before he entered upon his priesthood; he lives forever, and hence, there is no change of his priesthood. 25. Wherefore he is able also to save, etc. Because he is such a high priest, and hath the power of an endless life. He is not a frail mortal like us; and can save, in every extremity, all who approach God through his priesthood. 26. Such an high priest became us. We need just such a high priest; one who hath no sins and is exalted above the heathen. He needs not to save himself, and hence is able to save. 27. Who needeth not daily. The daily sacrifice was offered on the altar, under the direction of the high priest, for the sins of the whole nation, including himself. For this he did once. Instead of the daily offering for himself and others, Christ made but one offering, himself, when he died upon the cross. This offering was complete when he, as the high priest, ascended into the Holy of Holies above to intercede for the sins of his people. The perfect high priest had offered the perfect sacrifice and had dedicated the new and better covenant. Christ made his offering as a priest in "The true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man." 28. For the law, etc. The law puts imperfect men into the Aaronic priesthood. But the word of the oath . . . maketh the Son. The spotless and Divine one who became an eternal priest.