Hebrews 7:4-10

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

      THE GREATNESS OF MELCHIZEDEK

AND HIS PRIESTHOOD

INTRODUCTION:

 

In Hebrews 7 the main idea is that Christ has a more excellent ministry than the Levitical priests, and the thought returns to Hebrews 5:10 where Jesus was said to be called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

 

Believers, therefore, should hold fast their confession (4:14-16).

 

We have seen a description of the office of high priest (5:1-4), and we have seen that Christ is a high priest after the order of Melchizedek (5:5-10).

 

We have also seen that an appeal and warning has been given in 5:11 - 6:12 which, because of the readers’ spiritual dullness, urges them to go on in Christ lest some be found among them who are not genuinely saved.

 

In 6:13-20 it was seen that Christ became the believer’s forerunner within the veil.

 

In chapter 7 Melchizedek is seen as a type of Christ and is seen to have a greater priesthood than the Levitical priests. First, a historical summary of Melchizedek is given (7:1-3) which we considered in our last message. In this message it will be observed that the Levitical priests paid tithes in Abraham (7:4-10). Next time it will be made clear that perfection did not come by the Levitical priesthood (7:11-22). Finally, it will be pointed out that the Levitical priests died and, therefore, changed from one priest to another; whereas, Christ never dies and, as a result, His priesthood is unchangeable (7:23-28).

 

In verses 4-10 it is seen that Melchizedek is superior to Abraham because Abraham gave tithes to him, that Melchizedek is superior to Abraham because Melchizedek blessed him, that Melchizedek is superior to the Levitical priests because they die, but he still lives, and that Melchizedek is superior to the Levitical priests because the Levitical priests paid tithes to Melchizedek while still in Abraham.

 

This demonstrated the inferiority of the Levitical priests and their priesthood to Melchizedek and his priesthood; and inasmuch as Christ is a high priest like Melchizedek, it shows the superiority of Christ and His priesthood to the Levitical priests and their priesthood. Christ has a more excellent ministry than the Levitical priests have.

We see that –

    I.     MELCHIZEDEK IS SUPERIOR TO ABRAHAM BECAUSE ABRAHAM GAVE TITHES TO HIM – 7:4

 

Hebrews 7:4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.

 

Now indicates a continuation of the writer’s line of reasoning.

 

Consider is an imperative or command which is used in the sense of notice or observe.

 

What the readers are to notice is how great this man was which means how great Melchizedek was.

 

This man is literally this one and refers to Melchizedek.

 

He is further described as unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.

 

Even serves to emphasize this act of Abraham in paying tithes to Melchizedek.

 

Abraham is described as the patriarch, a term which literally means the beginning father. There is only one patriarch or beginning father of a nation, and Abraham is the beginning father of the nation of Israel. Israel as a nation is descended from Abraham.

 

This should not be understood as indicating that everyone descended from Abraham was a Jew. It should be remembered that Abraham was also the father of Ishmael and that he also fathered six sons through Keturah after Sarah died (I Chronicles 1:32 ). Furthermore, those descended from Abraham’s son, Isaac, were not all Jews either because Isaac was not only the father of Jacob but was also the father of Esau who was the father of the Edomites. Only those who are descended from Abraham through Isaac and through Jacob are Jews.

 

Gave a tenth is gave a tithe.

 

Of the spoils refers to the booty or plunder which he had taken from the kings and their warriors. It does not imply that Abraham gave a tithe of all his possessions but that he gave a tithe of all the things which he had now gained as a result of defeating these kings and their warriors in battle.

 

Similarly, believers are taught in Proverbs 3:9 that they should give a tithe of the firstfruits or of the increase: Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase.

We also see that –

  II.     THE JEWS GIVE TITHES TO THE LEVITICAL PRIESTS – 7:5

 

Hebrews 7:5 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.

 

In verses 5 and 6 a contrast is seen between the Levitical priests who received tithes and Melchizedek who received tithes.

 

And indicates a continuation of the thought; whereas, verily in verse 5 sets up a contrast with verse 6 which is introduced by but. Verily is understood in the sense of on the one hand; whereas, but in verse 6 is understood in the sense of but on the other hand.

 

They that are of the sons of Levi who receive the office of the priesthood refers to the Levitical priests.

 

It reminds the readers that not all of Levi’s sons were priests. Some of them were other things, but the reference in this verse is limited to those who become priests and does not include the other sons of Levi who do not become priests.

 

By the sons of Levi the writer means the descendants of Levi.

 

The office of the priesthood is simply the priestly office or the priestly service.

 

They have a commandment, i.e. they have a command or an order; and this command is to take tithes of the people, which means to collect tithes from the people or to receive tithes from the people.

 

According to the law indicates that their receiving tithes from the people was in accordance with the law. It was the Mosaic law itself which ordered them to receive tithes from the people.

 

That is, of their brethren is that is, from their brethren and indicates that the people from whom they were to receive these tithes were their brothers which is understood to mean their fellow Israelites, i.e. their fellow descendants from Abraham.

 

Though is although.

 

They refers to the people, i.e. to their brethren, rather than to the Levitical priests. Although the Levitical priests were also descended from Abraham, this text is not stating this fact; instead, it is taken for granted.

 

Though they come out of the loins of Abraham is although they (i.e. the brothers of the Levitical priests) have come out of the loins of Abraham and indicates an action which occurred in the past whose result has continued and indicates a present state of being.

 

Loins is the place of the reproductive organs. Hence, they have come out of the loins of Abraham means that these brothers of the Levitical priests are descendants of Abraham.

Next, we see that –

 III.     MELCHIZEDEK IS SUPERIOR TO ABRAHAM BECAUSE MELCHIZEDEK BLESSED HIM – 7:6-7

 

Hebrews 7:6 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.

 

But continues the contrast with what was stated in verse 5. Just as verily, i.e. on the one hand, was used at the beginning of verse 5, but in the sense of but on the other hand is used at the beginning of verse 6.

 

He whose descent is not counted from them refers to Melchizedek and is the one whose descent is not from them, the one not descended from them, or the one not having his descent traced from them.

 

Them refers to the Levitical priests, i.e. the sons of Levi who receive the priesthood. Therefore, He whose descent is not counted from them means the one who is not descended from the Levitical priests.

 

Of course, Melchizedek could not have been descended from the Levitical priests because he was a contemporary of Abraham rather than a descendant of Abraham.

 

By contrast, Levi and his descendants were descendants of Abraham. Levi had not yet been born at the time that Abraham met Melchizedek.

 

Received tithes is has received tithes or has collected tithes. Its tense indicates an action completed in past time, the result of which continues on.

 

Of Abraham is from Abraham. This means that Abraham is the one who paid these tithes to Melchizedek, which Melchizedek, in turn, received from Abraham.

 

And continues the thought by indicating another thing that Melchizedek did.

 

He blessed him that had the promises.

 

Blessed suggests that Melchizedek called down God’s gracious power on him that had the promises, which refers to Abraham.

 

Blessed is has blessed, and its tense indicates an action completed in past time with its result continuing on.

 

That had the promises is the one having the promises. It is Abraham whom God had promised to make a father of many nations; and these promises have already been referred to in Hebrews 6:14 , Surely, blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.

 

Melchizedek has not only received tithes from Abraham, but he has also blessed Abraham. Both things make him superior to Abraham.

 

Hebrews 7:7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.

 

In verse 7 the writer reminds his readers of a timeless truth, something which is always true.

 

And continues the thought in the sense of now.

 

Without is used in the sense of apart from.

 

Without all contradiction is without all dispute or apart from all dispute and means beyond all doubt. It indicates that there is no argument about this.

 

It is a commonly accepted truth, a generally accepted fact, about which there is no doubt. This commonly accepted truth is that the less is blessed of the better.

 

The less is the lesser one or the inferior one.

 

Is blessed of the better is is blessed by the better one where the better suggests the more prominent one or the one who is higher in rank. The one who is higher in rank or more prominent is the one who calls God’s blessing down on the one who is lower in rank or on the one who is lesser in prominence.

 

In this context it means that Melchizedek is the better one who blessed Abraham, the inferior one. Furthermore, inasmuch as these Levitical priests are physically descended from Abraham, they are likewise inferior to Melchizedek. Therefore, their priesthood is inferior to Melchizedek’s priesthood.

In addition, we see that –

 IV.     MELCHIZEDEK IS SUPERIOR TO THE LEVITICAL PRIESTS BECAUSE THEY DIE, BUT HE STILL LIVES – 7:8

 

Hebrews 7:8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.

 

And continues the thought of paying tithes to the Levitical priest’s as well as the thought of Abraham’s having paid tithes to Melchizedek.

 

Here ordinarily means in this place, but in this verse the local meaning is weakened to the point where it means in this case.

 

As in verse 5, a word meaning on the one hand has been left untranslated. This word is frequently left untranslated in English. Its purpose is to emphasize the contrast between the first half of verse 8 and the second half of verse 8.

 

By contrast, but, which begins the second half of the verse, is understood in the sense of but on the other hand.

 

Men that die receive tithes refers to the Levitical priests and indicates a normal custom.

 

Men that die is simply dying men where men is the generic term for humanity or human beings.

 

Every one of the Levitical priests would eventually die; hence, they can be described as dying men.

 

But or but on the other hand answers to the word left untranslated in the first part of this verse meaning on the one hand. It introduces the contrast which follows.

 

There is another adverb of place meaning in that place. Again in this verse the local meaning of this term is weakened, and the resultant meaning is on that occasion or under those circumstances. In this context it refers to the event of Melchizedek’s receiving tithes from Abraham.

 

He refers to Melchizedek.

 

Receiveth them is implied in the context and is in italics because it has been supplied by the translators to aid the understanding of the English reader.

 

Of whom it is witnessed that he liveth refers to Melchizedek.

 

It is witnessed is it is testified or witness is borne, and the witness that is borne is that he liveth or that he lives.

 

The reason it is testified that he lives is that it has been said in verse 3 that he does not have end of life. The end of his life was not recorded. So, as far as the record is concerned, Melchizedek is still alive.

 

Since Melchizedek is still alive as far as the Biblical record is concerned, Melchizedek is superior to the Levitical priests and his priesthood is superior to their priesthood.

Finally, we see that –

   V.     MELCHIZEDEK IS SUPERIOR TO THE LEVITICAL PRIESTS BECAUSE THE LEVITICAL PRIESTS PAID TITHES TO MELCHIZEDEK WHILE STILL IN ABRAHAM – 7:9-10

 

Hebrews 7:9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.

 

Verse 9 continues the thought of verse 8.

 

As I may so say suggests that the writer is spiritualizing this to demonstrate a point. It is as one might also say and implies just to use the right word.

 

Levi is a son of Jacob; and as a consequence, he is a great grandson of Abraham. Thus, he is a descendant of Abraham.

 

The sons of Levi or the descendants of Levi became priests under the Mosaic law. Therefore, the descendants of Levi are also descendants of Abraham.

 

Who receiveth tithes indicates that Levi through his sons receives tithes under the law. The present tense of receiveth indicates that its action is customary.

 

Levi, as a descendant of Abraham, also payed tithes in Abraham to Melchizedek.

 

Payed tithes is has paid tithes, and its tense denotes action completed in the past whose result has continued on.

 

However, Levi did not do this directly. This is why the writer says, As I may so say and why he explains the reason for this in verse 10.

 

In Abraham is literally through Abraham.

 

Also introduces the idea that in addition to Abraham paying tithes to Melchizedek, Levi, a descendant of Abraham, and the one after whom the Levitical system was named, paid tithes to Melchizedek.

 

When Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, Levi also paid tithes to Melchizedek. By doing so he demonstrated the superiority of Melchizedek’s priesthood over his own.

 

Similarly, when Abraham was blessed by Melchizedek, Levi was also blessed by Melchizedek. By receiving this blessing from Melchizedek, Levi also demonstrated the superiority of Melchizedek’s priesthood over his own.

 

Hebrews 7:10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.

 

For indicates that an explanation of verse 9 is forthcoming.

 

He refers to Levi.

 

Was yet in the loins of his father means that Levi had not yet been begotten, and neither had his father Jacob or his grandfather Isaac.

 

Furthermore, Levi had not yet begotten his own descendants who would become the Levitical priests.

 

Loins is used in this verse as in verse 5 as the place of the reproductive organs and, therefore, to come forth from one’s loins means to be someone’s son or descendant.

 

That he was yet in the loins of his father means that he had not yet been born.

 

His father refers to Abraham who was actually his great grandfather.

 

When Melchizedek met him refers to Melchizedek’s meeting with Abraham in Genesis 14 ; and at the time that Melchizedek met Abraham, Abraham also paid tithes to Melchizedek.

 

At that point in time Levi, who was the ancestor of the Levitical priests, had not yet been born; yet, he likewise paid tithes to Melchizedek and was also blessed by him.

CONCLUSION:

 

Abraham was a great man of God. He is the father of the Jewish nation. However, as great as Abraham is, Melchizedek is superior to Abraham because Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek.

 

Furthermore, Melchizedek is also superior to Abraham because Melchizedek blessed Abraham; and the less is always blessed by the better. This means that Melchiedek is superior to the Levitical priests because they are descended from Abraham.

 

Melchizedek is also superior to the Levitical priests because they die; whereas, he still lives. Therefore his priesthood is superior to their priesthood.

 

In addition, Melchizedek is superior to the Levitical priests because the Levitical priests paid tithes to Melchizedek while still in Abraham.

 

These things demonstrated the superiority of Melchizedek and his priesthood to the Levitical priests and their priesthood.

 

Inasmuch as Christ is a high priest forever like Melchizedek, these things show that Christ and His priesthood are superior to the Levitical priests and their priesthood. Thus, Christ has a more excellent ministry than the Levitical priests.