Hebrews 7 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Hebrews 7)

Verse 1

[1] For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;

The sum of this chapter is, Christ, as appears from his type, Melchisedec, who was greater than Abraham himself, from whom Levi descended, has a priesthood altogether excellent, new, firm, perpetual. Genesis 14:18, etc.

Verse 2

[2] To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;

Being first — According to the meaning of his own name.

King of righteousness, then — According to the name of his city.

King of peace — So in him, as in Christ, righteousness and peace were joined. And so they are in all that believe in him.

Verse 3

[3] Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

Without father, without mother, without pedigree — Recorded, without any account of his descent from any ancestors of the priestly order.

Having neither beginning of days, nor end of life — Mentioned by Moses.

But being — In all these respects.

Made like the Son of God — Who is really without father, as to his human nature; without mother, as to his divine; and in this also, without pedigree - Neither descended from any ancestors of the priestly order.

Remaineth a priest continually — Nothing is recorded of the death or successor of Melchisedec. But Christ alone does really remain without death, and without successor.

Verse 4

[4] Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.

The greatness of Melchisedec is described in all the preceding and following particulars. But the most manifest proof of it was, that Abraham gave him tithes as to a priest of God and a superior; though he was himself a patriarch, greater than a king, and a progenitor of many kings.

Verse 5

[5] And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:

The sons of Levi take tithes of their brethren — Sprung from Abraham as well as themselves. The Levites therefore are greater than they; but the priests are greater than the Levites, the patriarch Abraham than the priests, and Melchisedec than him.

Verse 6

[6] But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.

He who is not from them — The Levites Blessed - Another proof of his superiority.

Even him that had the promises — That was so highly favoured of God. When St. Paul speaks of Christ, he says, "the promise;" promises refer to other blessings also.

Verse 7

[7] And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.

The less is blessed — Authoritatively, of the greater.

Verse 8

[8] And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.

And here — In the Levitical priesthood.

But there — In the case of Melchisedec.

He of whom it is testified that he liveth — Who is not spoken of as one that died for another to succeed him; but is represented only as living, no mention being made either of his birth or death.

Verse 9

[9] And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.

And even Levi, who received tithes — Not in person, but in his successors, as it were, paid tithes - In the person of Abraham.

Verse 11

[11] If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

The apostle now demonstrates that the Levitical priesthood must yield to the priesthood of Christ, because Melchisedec, after whose order he is a priest, 1. Is opposed to Aaron, Hebrews 7:15-19, but "remaineth a priest continually." If now perfection were by the Levitical priesthood - If this perfectly answered all God's designs and man's wants For under it the people received the law - Whence some might infer, that perfection was by that priesthood.

What farther need was there, that another priest — Of a new order, should be set up? From this single consideration it is plain, that both the priesthood and the law, which were inseparably connected, were now to give way to a better priesthood and more excellent dispensation.

Verse 12

[12] For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

For — One of these cannot be changed without the other.

Verse 13

[13] For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.

But the priesthood is manifestly changed from one order to another, and from one tribe to another.

For he of whom these things are spoken — Namely, Jesus.

Pertaineth to another tribe — That of Judah. Of which no man was suffered by the law to attend on, or minister at, the altar.

Verse 14

[14] For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.

For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah — Whatever difficulties have arisen since, during so long a tract of time, it was then clear beyond dispute.

Verse 15

[15] And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,

And it is still far more evident, that — Both the priesthood and the law are changed, because the priest now raised up is not only of another tribe, but of a quite different order.

Verse 16

[16] Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.

Who is made — A priest.

Not after the law of a carnal commandment — Not according to the Mosaic law, which consisted chiefly of commandments that were carnal, compared to the spirituality of the gospel.

But after the power of an endless life — Which he has in himself, as the eternal Son of God.

Verse 18

[18] For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.

For there is implied in this new and everlasting priesthood, and in the new dispensation connected therewith, a disannulling of the preceding commandment - An abrogation of the Mosaic law.

For the weakness and unprofitableness thereof — For its insufficiency either to justify or to sanctify.

Verse 19

[19] For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

For the law — Taken by itself, separate from the gospel.

Made nothing perfect — Could not perfect its votaries, either in faith or love, in happiness or holiness.

But the bringing in of a better hope — Of the gospel dispensation, which gives us a better ground of confidence, does.

By which we draw nigh to God — Yea, so nigh as to be one spirit with him. And this is true perfection.

Verse 20

[20] And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest:

And — The greater solemnity wherewith he was made priest, farther proves the superior excellency of his priesthood.

Verse 21

[21] (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)

The Lord sware and will not repent — Hence also it appears, that his is an unchangeable priesthood.

Verse 22

[22] By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

Of so much better a covenant — Unchangeable, eternal.

Was Jesus made a surety — Or mediator. The word covenant frequently occurs in the remaining part of this epistle. The original word means either a covenant or a last will and testament. St. Paul takes it sometimes in the former, sometimes in the latter, sense; sometimes he includes both.

Verse 23

[23] And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death:

They were many priests — One after another.

Verse 24

[24] But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.

He continueth for ever — In life and in his priesthood.

That passeth not away — To any successor.

Verse 25

[25] Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Wherefore he is able to save to the uttermost — From all the guilt, power, root, and consequence of sin.

Them who come — By faith.

To God through him — As their priest.

Seeing he ever liveth to make intercession — That is, he ever lives and intercedes. He died once; he intercedes perpetually.

Verse 26

[26] For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;

For such an high priest suited us — Unholy, mischievous, defiled sinners: a blessed paradox! Holy - With respect to God.

Harmless — With respect to men.

Undefiled — With any sin in himself.

Separated from sinners — As well as free from sin. And so he was when he left the world.

And made — Even in his human nature.

Higher than the heavens — And all their inhabitants.

Verse 27

[27] Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.

Who needeth not to offer up sacrifices daily — That is, on every yearly day of expiation; for he offered once for all: not for his own sins, for he then offered up himself "without spot to God."

Verse 28

[28] For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.

The law maketh men high priests that have infirmity — That are both weak, mortal, and sinful.

But the oath which was since the law — Namely, in the time of David.

Maketh the son, who is consecrated for ever — Who being now free, both from sin and death, from natural and moral infirmity, remaineth a priest for ever.