Having diverted his attention to the present needs of his reader, the author now goes back to the teaching that Jesus is the High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek. The name of Melchizedek has appeared briefly in previous passages, but now the author develops this theme. In this lesson, we will learn how Jesus is the superior High Priest in the order of Melchizedek, and what that means to us.
Did You Know...?
1. Melchizedek (7:1): His meeting with Abraham is recorded in Genesis 14:17-20.
2. Salem (7:1) “is a shortened form of ‘Jerusalem’ (see Ps 76:2) and is related to the Hebrew word for ‘peace’”…. [ref]
- Description of Melchizedek (7:1-3)
- Melchizedek’s Greatness (7:4-10)
- The Order of Melchizedek and the Better Hope (4:11-19)
- Jesus the Great High Priest (4:20-28)
- Became priest by oath (4:20-22)
- Permanent ministry (4:23-25)
- Perfect sacrifice (4:26-28)
Why is Jesus Christ, like Melchizedek, the King of righteousness and King of peace?Hide Answer
God’s righteousness is revealed in Jesus Christ, through whom we are freely justified by faith (Rom 3:21-26). In Him God’s love and justice are fully manifest. Jesus Christ is also the King of peace because through Him we are reconciled with God (Rom 5:1) and with others (Eph 2:14-18). He also grants peace to those who are in Him (Jn 14:27; 16:33).
In what ways was Melchizedek a unique priest?Hide Answer
How does verse 4 introduce the main point of this paragraph?Hide Answer
Verse 4 reads, “Now consider how great this man was.” The rest of the paragraph proceeds to show his greatness.
How does the author show that Melchizedek was greater than Abraham?Hide Answer
1. Melchizedek received a tenth from Abraham (4).
2. He blessed Abraham (6-7).
How does he show that he was greater than the Levitical priests?Hide Answer
1. Levitical priests are mortal men. But of Melchizedek it is witnessed that he lives (8; i.e. according to the testimony about him, Melchizedek lives. There is no record in Scripture of his death).
2. In a sense, Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes to Melchizedek through Abraham (9-10).
The author argues in 11 that perfection was not through the Levitical priesthood because there was the need for another priest to rise in the order of Melchizedek. On what basis does he claim that there is the need for another priest in the order of Melchizedek?Hide Answer
It is clearly stated in Scripture that God appointed another priest in the order of Melchizedek (17; Ps 110:4).
What is “perfection” meant here?Hide Answer
The making whole (justification) of sinners before God so that they may draw near to God (cf. 19).
Why does the change of priesthood require a change of the law (12)?Hide Answer
The law required that a high priest must be a descendent of Aaron. If it was necessary for another priest to rise in the order of Melchizedek, then the stipulations of the law would no longer hold true.
What is different about the new priesthood, according to verses 15-17?Hide Answer
It is not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. The law of a fleshly commandment means regulations that pertain to the physical, such as ancestry. The new priesthood is not based on Aaronic ancestry, but on the permanence of life. Jesus is the better High Priest because He lives forever.
Contrast the “before and after” of the new priesthood (18-19).Hide Answer
Before Christ came, we were under the weak and unprofitable commandment. It was weak and unprofitable because it could not make us perfect. But after Christ came, we have a better hope, through which we draw near to God. This hope, like an anchor for the soul, enters the holy of holies (6:19). Having been made perfect by the blood of Christ, we have gained access to God.
What is the significance of the oath, according to 20-22?Hide Answer
The oath confirms God’s covenant and serves as a guarantee of the covenant (22; 6:13-18). Whereas the Levitical priests were made priests without an oath, Christ became Priest by God’s oath. Thus, while the Levitical priesthood could not offer us any guarantees, God’s covenant with us is guaranteed through the priesthood of Jesus Christ.
What were the limitations of the Levitical priests? How did our Lord Jesus overcome these limitations?Hide Answer
1. The Levitical priests were prevented by death from continuing (23). But Christ continues forever because He lives forever (24).
2. The Levitical priests had to offer sacrifices daily for their own sins and for the sins of the people (27). Christ was sinless, and He offered Himself up once for all (27).
3. The Levitical high priests were men with weaknesses (28). But Christ was the Son who has been perfected forever (28).
Why is it that only an unchanging priesthood can bring us salvation (23-25)?Hide Answer
A priest who is prevented by death from continuing cannot save us because he himself is a sinner, for the wages of sin is death. Only Jesus Christ, who was without sin, who died on our behalf and rose again, and who is the eternal God Himself, has the power to save us. His salvation is eternal because He lives forever.
What function of Jesus’ priesthood is emphasized in 25? How does it relate to our salvation?Hide Answer
Christ always lives to make intercession for us. Because He has paid for our sins, He is our Advocate before the Father (1 Jn 2:1). If we confess our sins, God will forgive us on the merit of Jesus Christ. Consequently, no one can bring a charge against us or condemn us (Rom 8:33-34).
How does it help you in your Christian walk to know that Jesus is interceding for you?
What qualities of Jesus the High Priest does 26-28 focus on?Hide Answer
These verses stress the perfection and deity of Jesus Christ. He is sinless and higher than the heavens (26). His sacrifice is once for all (27). He is the Son, who has been made perfect forever (28; cf. 5:8-9)