Hebrews 7:20-28

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

THE UNCHANGEABLE

PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST

INTRODUCTION:

 

So far in our study of Hebrews, we have seen that Christ is superior to angels (1:4 - 2:18).

 

We have also seen that Christ is superior to Moses or worthy of more glory than Moses (3:1 - 4:13).

 

In this message, we will complete the third major division in Hebrews which shows that Christ has a more excellent ministry than the Levitical priests (4:14 - 7:28).

 

All of these things are intended to warn those Jews who had professed faith in Christ but who were contemplating abandoning Christ and Christianity and returning to Judaism against doing this. They should instead persevere in their trials and continue to trust Christ as their Savior.

 

In Hebrews 4:14-16 we have seen that we have a great high priest who is passed into the heavens, and He is Jesus, the Son of God. Whereas the high priest in the Old Testament had his place of ministry in the tabernacle and eventually in the temple, Christ’s place of ministry is in heaven itself. This in itself made Christ superior as a high priest in comparison with the Levitical high priests. We have seen that, unlike the Levitical high priests who were sinners, Christ was tempted in all points like as we are, but He never committed any sin. This also makes Him superior as a high priest in comparison with the Levitical high priests.

 

In Hebrews 5:1-10 we have seen that Christ is a high priest like Melchizedek rather than like the Levitical priests.

 

We have also seen an appeal and warning in Hebrews 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. Whereas the Levitical high priest entered into the holy of holies annually as the representative of God’s people, the Lord Jesus Christ as the believers’ great high priest entered into the heavenly holy of holies as their forerunner. The fact that Jesus Christ is the believer’s forerunner as well as his high priest implies that the believer can likewise follow after Him and enter into the very presence of God just like Christ did. Whereas Christ could enter His Father’s presence on the basis of His own righteousness, a believer is enabled to enter into his heavenly Father’s presence on the basis of Christ’s righteousness, which has been credited to the believer’s account. Once again, this makes Christ as a high priest superior in comparison with the Levitical high priests.

 

In Hebrews 7 the main idea is that Christ has a more excellent ministry than the Levitical priests. We are in the process of seeing that perfection did not come through the Levitical priesthood in that no sin was able to be removed through it. By contrast, the high priestly ministry of Christ has brought about perfection in believers by the removal of their sins.

 

In this message, we will see that Christ’s high priesthood is superior to the Levitical high priesthood in that Christ was made a high priest with an oath and they were not. We will also see that Christ’s priesthood goes on forever in contrast to the Levitical priesthood which changed from one priest to another every time one of the high priests died (7:23-28).

We see that –

    I.     UNLIKE THE LEVITICAL HIGH PRIESTS, JESUS WAS MADE A HIGH PRIEST WITH AN OATH – 7:20-21

 

Hebrews 7:20 And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest.

 

Verse 20 reveals another reason Jesus is a better high priest than those high priests under the Levitical system.

 

Inasmuch as in verse 20 is to be connected with by so much in verse 22. Inasmuch as means to the degree that.

 

When taken together, inasmuch as and by so much are understood in the sense of to the degree that and to the same degree.

 

Thus, inasmuch as not without an oath means to the degree that not without an oath or to the degree that not without taking an oath.

 

Not without an oath is an emphatic way of saying with an oath. Thus, inasmuch as not without an oath means to the degree that with an oath.

 

He was made priest is in italics, indicating that it was supplied by the translators in order to aid the understanding of the English reader. There is an ellipsis (i.e. something which is not stated) in the thought of the writer who did not fully express or state his thought. The translators have supplied what the writer was thinking and what is to be assumed by the reader.

 

He, which refers to Jesus, and was made priest have been supplied from the context.

 

Jesus was appointed a priest according to Hebrews 5:6 .

 

When God said, This is my Son, this day have I begotten thee, Jesus was not only appointed a priest, He was appointed a priest with an oath. This oath is introduced in the next verse.

 

By contrast the Levitical priests were only appointed as priests, but no oath was involved.

 

Hebrews 7:21 (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).

 

Verse 21 is set off from verse 22 by parentheses in order to explain that the Levitical priests were appointed, but no oath was taken; whereas, Jesus was both appointed, and an oath was involved.

 

For indicates the beginning of an explanation.

 

In the phrase those priests were made without an oath, those priests refers to the Levitical priests.

 

Were made suggests an action which took place in the past whose result has continued to the time of the writing of the Book of Hebrews. It is used in the sense of have been made or have become.

 

Without an oath is the same phrase used in verse 20 where it is used in the sense of without taking an oath.

 

But introduces a contrast.

 

This is this One or He and refers to Jesus.

 

Was made a priest or has become a priest should be supplied in this verse by the reader to complete the meaning in English.

 

With an oath or with taking an oath is in contrast to without an oath in the previous phrase.

 

By him that said (or through the One saying) refers to God the Father, and unto him (or to Him) refers to Christ.

 

What was said is quoted from Psalms 110:4 ,

 

Psalms 110:4 The LORD hath sworn and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

 

The Lord is God the Father.

 

In Psalms 110:4 Lord has been placed in all capital letters in the King James Bible in order to indicate that this is Yahweh or Jehovah.

 

Although some passages refer to Jesus as Yahweh or Jehovah, this one refers to God the Father as Yahweh or Jehovah.

 

Therefore, to say that Jesus is the Jehovah of the Old Testament is not quite correct. It does indeed refer to Jesus sometimes but not every time. Psalms 110:4 is an example of LORD referring to God the Father rather than to Jesus.

 

Sware is took an oath. It is to be understood as emphasizing the result of its action in the sense of has sworn or has taken an oath.

 

And will not repent suggests and He will not change His mind.

 

Therefore, He swore, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

 

Thou refers to Jesus, and He is a priest.

 

This is not a temporary situation; for ever means that it will never change.

 

After the order of Melchisedec suggests just like Melchizedek.

 

This exact wording has also been referred to a number of times throughout this passage in Hebrews 4:14-7:28 .

We also see that –

  II.     JESUS HAS BECOME A GUARANTEE OF A BETTER COVENANT THAN WHAT THE PEOPLE HAD IN THE LAW – 7:22

 

Hebrews 7:22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

 

Verse 22 resumes the thought of verse 20, and by so much is to be connected with inasmuch as in verse 20.

 

Taken together they mean to the degree that . . . to the same degree.

 

To the degree that Jesus was made a priest with an oath, to that same degree was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

 

Was . . . made is has been made or has become. Its perfect tense indicates an action which has taken place in the past with its result continuing on. In the past Jesus was . . . made (or in the past Jesus became) a surety of a better testament and remains so both today and forever.

 

A surety is a guarantee, and a . . . testament reminds one of a covenant.

 

Jesus thus guarantees a better covenant than what the people had in the law.

Next, we see that –

 III.     THERE WERE MANY LEVITICAL HIGH PRIESTS BECAUSE OF DEATH – 7:23

 

Hebrews 7:23 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death.

 

Verse 23 continues the thought that Christ’s priesthood is superior to the Levitical priesthood.

 

And they truly is and they on the one hand.

 

Truly is emphatic and suggests indeed or in fact.

 

It is in contrast to verse 24, where the Greek text begins with but.

 

They refers to the Levitical priests, particularly the high priests; and were many priests is have become many priests or have been made many priests.

 

Many, which is used to describe priests, is used in the sense of more, many more, or a large number of. It means that there were a lot of them.

 

Because they were not suffered is because they were hindered, because they were prevented, or because they were forbidden.

 

What they were prevented from doing is to continue which is used in the sense of to continue as priests and implies to continue in the office of high priest.

 

By reason of death is simply because of death. Death prevented each of the Levitical high priests from being a high priest forever. Death terminated each high priest’s ministry, and at death each one was succeeded by someone else.

In addition, we see that –

 IV.     BECAUSE CHRIST LIVES FOREVER HE HAS AN UNCHANGEABLE PRIESTHOOD – 7:24

 

Hebrews 7:24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.

 

But indicates that verse 24 provides a contrast with verse 23.

 

This man is simply He and refers to Christ.

 

Because He continueth ever is because He (i.e. Christ) remains forever, because He lasts forever, because He persists forever, or because He continues to live forever.

 

Hath an unchangeable priesthood is has a permanent priesthood or has a priesthood without a successor.

 

Consequently, Jesus is better than the Levitical priests; and His high priestly ministry is better than theirs.

 

He will never die; so, He will never need a successor.

We furthermore see that –

   V.     BECAUSE HIS PRIESTHOOD IS UNCHANGEABLE, CHRIST IS ABLE TO SAVE TO THE UTTERMOST THOSE WHO COME TO GOD THROUGH HIM – 7:25

 

Hebrews 7:25 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 is, therefore, for which reason, or hence and reminds the readers that Jesus is better than the Levitical priests because He has a priesthood which does not change from one person to another at death like the Levitical priests. He is the only priest believers will ever have to deal with.

 

He refers to Jesus.

 

Is able to suggests that He can.

 

Also is used for emphasis.

 

Save is rescue or deliver and is the normal word for the salvation of the soul.

 

The ones He is able to save, to rescue, or to deliver is them . . . that come unto God by him, the ones who are coming to God through Him or the ones who are approaching God through Him.

 

It refers to saved people, i.e. to those who have approached God the Father by means of Jesus Christ rather than to those who are attempting to come to God the Father through some other way.

 

To the uttermost may suggest completely, wholly, or entirely; or it may instead be used to indicate time and be understood in the sense of forever or for all time.

 

The reason Jesus is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him is seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

 

Seeing he . . . liveth is understood in the sense of because He lives, inasmuch as He lives, or since He lives.

 

Ever is always or at all times.

 

To make indicates the purpose for which He lives and is used in the sense of in order that He make or for the purpose that He make.

 

To make intercession is to approach, to appeal to, to petition, or to plead and implies that it is God the Father Whom Jesus approaches, appeals to, petitions, or pleads.

 

For them is on behalf of them where them refers to the ones who come to God the Father through Him, i.e. those who come boldly unto the throne of grace that they may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

We also see that –

 VI.     CHRIST, RATHER THAN THE LEVITICAL PRIESTS, IS THE KIND OF HIGH PRIEST BELIEVERS NEED – 7:26

 

Hebrews 7:26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.

 

Verse 26 describes the appropriateness of the Lord Jesus as the believer’s high priest.

 

For is used in the sense of now.

 

Such an high priest is simply a high priest such as He (is).

 

Became us is was fitting for us, was suitable for us, was seemly for us, or was appropriate for us, where us refers to genuinely saved people.

 

It means that He is just the sort of high priest believers needed, and the implication is that the Levitical high priests were not the sort of high priests that believers needed.

 

Who is introduces a series of descriptions of the Lord Jesus Christ as the believer’s great high priest.

 

Holy is not the ordinary term translated holy but is one which means devout, pious, or pleasing to God.

 

Harmless is literally without evil, meaning innocent, guileless, or undefiled and suggests that He was without blemish.

 

Undefiled suggests that He was pure or free from contamination.

 

Separate means separated or divided. Its tense indicates an activity which has occurred in the past whose result has continued on.

 

He has been separated or divided from sinners and suggests from the entire group referred to as sinners. It may mean that He has been physically separated from sinful men by being exalted to the right hand of God, or it may mean that He has been separated from sinners because of His holiness. Both are true.

 

He has been exalted to the right hand of God where no sinners will ever be found.

 

Furthermore, although men are sinners, He is pure and has never committed so much as a single act of sin.

 

Made higher than the heavens or having been made higher than the heavens reminds the readers that Jesus is sitting on the right hand of God where He is exalted above the heavens.

Moreover, we see that –

VII.     UNLIKE THE LEVITICAL PRIESTS WHO DAILY HAD TO OFFER FOR THEIR OWN SINS AS WELL AS FOR THE PEOPLES’ SINS, CHRIST OFFERED HIMSELF ONCE FOR ALL TIME FOR THE SINS OF THE PEOPLE – 7:27

 

Hebrews 7:27 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.

 

Verse 27 continues the contrast between Jesus, the great high priest, and the Levitical priests, particularly the high priests of the Levitical system.

 

Who refers to Jesus.

 

Needeth not is does not have need, does not have necessity, or does not have compulsion.

 

Daily is day by day or day after day.

 

As those high priests is simply just as the high priests, meaning like the high priests of the Levitical system.

 

To offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s indicates what those Levitical high priests had to do on a daily basis.

 

To offer up sacrifices is to offer sacrifices. They first had to offer sacrifices for their own sins.

 

First suggests earlier, beforehand, or previously in contrast with then.

 

For his own sins is on behalf of his own sins.

 

Then for the people’s suggests then on the behalf of the people’s sins.

 

The reason Jesus did not have to offer for His own sins is that He is separate from sinners, which indicates that Jesus was not among the group known as sinners. He did not have any sins.

 

Whereas, the separation from earth to heaven is indicated by the last half of verse 26; the first half of verse 27 indicates that He is separate from sinners and that He is not part of the group known as sinners.

 

The high priest would daily make offering for his own sins and then for the sins of the people.

 

Jesus never had to offer daily sacrifices, and He did not have to offer for His own sins.

 

But he did offer once for all time for the sins of the people.

 

For suggests because.

 

This refers to Christ’s one-time offering for the sins of the people.

 

He did reminds the readers that He offered for the sins of the people once, i.e. once for all, which means once for all time rather than once for all people even though His sacrifice was one time for all people. The thought here is one time.

 

When he offered up himself tells the readers the time when He made an offering for the sins of the people. It is literally offering up Himself and is understood in the sense of when He offered Himself or by offering up Himself.

 

Whereas the high priests offered animal sacrifices, Jesus offered himself.

Finally, we see that –

VIII.   WHEREAS THE LAW APPOINTED MEN WHO WERE SINNERS TO BE HIGH PRIESTS, THE OATH MADE CHRIST A HIGH PRIEST – 7:28

 

Hebrews 7:28 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.

 

Verse 28 concludes the contrast between the high priest of the Levitical system and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

For is explanatory and is used in the sense of now.

 

The law refers to the Mosaic law.

 

Maketh is ordains or appoints.

 

Men is the generic term which means human beings.

 

The law appoints men to be high priests.

 

But the description of these men is which have infirmity or having weakness and is understood in the sense of although they have weakness.

 

It is because of this weakness that the Levitical priests have to offer for their own sins as well as for the people’s.

 

But introduces a contrast.

 

The word of the oath is the word of the swearing and refers to what God swore when He said, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

 

Which refers to the oath of the swearing which God made.

 

Was since the law is was after the law, indicating that the law was given historically before God made this oath. The law was given in the book of Exodus, but the oath was not made until Psalms 110 .

 

As is indicated by the italics, maketh has been supplied by the translators in order to be parallel to the first phrase in verse 28 and is used in the sense of ordains or appoints.

 

The son is the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Who is consecrated forevermore describes Son.

 

Is consecrated is the term having been made perfect or having been completed.

 

Forevermore is forever.

 

Christ is perfected forever in the sense stated in Hebrews 5:8-10 ,

 

Hebrews 5:8-108 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; 10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

 

Although the law could make nothing perfect, God could; and God did. He did it by sending His Son to die on the cross to pay for the sins of all humanity.

 

It is Jesus Who is the believers’ great high priest, and He continues forever as the believers’ great high priest.

CONCLUSION:

 

So, Jewish people, who are contemplating abandoning Christianity and returning to Judaism, are making a big mistake because Jesus and His high priesthood are superior to the Levitical priests and their high priesthood. Don’t abandon your confidence in Christ.