VINCENT'S WORD STUDIES
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Robertson's Word Pictures in the NT - Greek NT
The Melchisedec-priesthood of Christ. - Christ can be a priest without Aaronic descent, and his priesthood is of a higher and older type than the Levitical.
Having neither beginning of days nor end of life. That is to say, history is silent concerning his birth and death.
But made like unto the Son of God (afwmoiwmenov de tw uiw tou qeou). The verb N.T.o . Made like or likened, not like. "The resemblance lies in the Biblical representation, and not primarily in Melchisedec himself" (Westcott). Son of God, not Son of man, for the likeness to Jesus as Son of man would not hold; Jesus, as man, having had both birth and death. The words likened unto the Son of God stand independently. Not to be connected with the following sentence, so as to read abideth a priest continually like the Son of God; for, as a priest, Melchisedec, chronologically, was prior to Christ; and, therefore, it is not likeness with respect to priesthood that is asserted. The likeness is in respect to the things just predicated of Melchisedec. Christ as Son of God was without father, mother, beginning or end of days; and, in these points, Melchisedec is likened in Scripture to him.
Abideth a priest continually (menei iereuv eiv to dihnekev). Dihnekhv from diaferein to bear through; born on through ages, continuous. Only in Hebrews. There is no historical account of the termination of Melchisedec's priesthood. The tenure of his office is uninterrupted. The emphasis is on the eternal duration of the ideal priesthood, and the writer explains the Psalm as asserting eternal duration as the mark of the Melchisedec order. Accordingly, he presents the following characteristics of the ideal priesthood: royal, righteous, peace-promoting, personal and not inherited, eternal. Comp. Isa. ix. 6, 7; iv. 10; xxxii. 17; liii. 7. It is, of course, evident to the most superficial reader that such exposition of O.T. scripture is entirely artificial, and that it amounts to nothing as proof of the writer's position. Melchisedec is not shown to be an eternal high priest because his death-record is lost; nor to be properly likened unto the Son of God because there is no notice of his birth and parentage.
How great (phlikov). Only here and Gal. vi. 11.
The patriarch (o patriarchv). Only here and in Acts.
The tenth (dekathn). Properly an adjective, but used as a noun for tithe. Only in Hebrews, as is the kindred verb dekatoun to impose or take tithes. jApodekatoin to exact tithes, Heb. vii. 5. Comp. Matt. xxiii. 23; Luke xi. 42.
Of the spoils (ek twn akroqiniwn). The noun N.T.o , from arkon topmost point, and qiv a heap. The top of the pile: the "pick" of the spoil.
They that are of the sons of Levi who receive, etc. (oi ek twn uiwn Leuei lambanontev). Those out of the sons of Levi who become priests. Not those who receive the priesthood from the sons of Levi. Not all Levites were priests, but only those of the house of Aaron.
The office of the priesthood (thn ieratian). Only here and Luke i. 9. A commandment (entolhn). A special injunction, See on Jas. ii. 8; Eph. ii. 15.
To take tithes (apodekatoin). See on ver. 4.
That is of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham. The people, the brethren of the Levites, are descended from their common ancestor, Abraham, yet the Levites exact tithes from them.
Received tithes of Abraham. Melchisedec, who has no part in the Levitical genealogy, and therefore no legal right to exact tithes, took tithes from the patriarch himself. Hence he was greater than Abraham. The right of the Levitical priest to receive tithes was only a legal right, conferred by special statute, and therefore implied no intrinsic superiority to his brethren; but Melchisedec, though having no legal right, received tithes from Abraham as a voluntary gift, which implied Abraham's recognition of his personal greatness.
And hath blessed him that had the promises. Melchisedec accepted the position accorded to him by Abraham's gift of tithes by bestowing on Abraham his blessing, and Abraham recognized his superiority by accepting his blessing. He who had received the divine promises might have been supposed to be above being blessed by any man. The significance of this acceptance is brought out in the next verse.
Men that die receive tithes. The emphasis is on ajpoqnhskontev dying. The Levites are dying men, who pass away in due course, and are succeeded by others.
But there (ekei de). In the case of Melchisedec.
(He receiveth them of whom) it is witnessed that he liveth (marturoumenov oti zh). The Greek is very condensed: being attested that he liveth. The A.V. fills it out correctly. Melchisedec does not appear in Scripture as one who dies, and whose office passes to another. See on abideth continually, ver. 3.
When Melchisedec met him. In the person of Abraham. The whole Jewish law, its ordinances and priesthood, are regarded as potentially in Abraham. When Abraham paid tithes, Levi paid tithes. When Abraham was blessed, Israel was blessed. It is a kind of reasoning which would appeal to Hebrews, who so strongly emphasized the solidarity of their race. Comp. Rom. ix. 4, 5.
Perfection (teleiwsiv). Only here and Luke i. 45. The act or process of consummating. By this word is signified the establishment of a perfect fellowship between God and the worshipper. See ch. ix. 9; x. 1.
Priesthood (ierwsunhv). Only in Hebrews. See vers. 12, 14. It expresses the abstract notion of the priest's office; while iJeratia ver. 5, expresses the priestly service.
For under it the people received the law (gar ep authv nenomoqethtai). Under, rather on the basis of. The verb lit. the law has been laid down Only here and ch. viii. 6.
What further need (tiv eti creia). Eti after that, assuming that there was perfection through the Levitical priesthood.
Another priest (eteron ierea). Not merely another, but a different kind of priest. See on Matt. vi. 24.
Should rise (anistasqai). In Hebrews only here and ver. 15, both times in connection with priest.
A change (metaqesiv). A transfer to a new basis. Only in Hebrews. See ch. xi. 5; xii. 27. The inferiority of the Levitical priesthood is inferred from the fact that another priesthood was promised. If perfection was possible at all under the Mosaic economy, it must come through the Levitical priesthood, since that priesthood was, in a sense, the basis of the law. The whole legal system centered in it. The fundamental idea of the law was that of a people united with God. Sin, the obstacle to this ideal union, was dealt with through the priesthood. If the law failed to effect complete fellowship with God, the priesthood was shown to be a failure, and must be abolished; and the change of the priesthood involved the abolition of the entire legal system.
Of which no man gave attendance at the altar (af hv oudeiv proseschken tw qusiasthriw). Prosecein originally to bring to; bring the mind to; attend to. See on ch. ii. 1. qusiasthrion altar, o Class. Strictly an altar for the sacrifice of victims; but used of the altar of incense, Luke i. 11; Apoc. viii. 3; comp. Exod. xxx. 1. See on Acts xvii. 23. It was also used of the enclosure in which the altar stood. See Ignat. Eph. v; Trall. vii. See Lightfoot's interesting note, Ignatius and Polycarp, Vol. ii., p. 43.
Sprang (anatetalken). Rend. hath sprung. In N.T. always of the rising of a heavenly body, sun or star, except Luke xii. 54, of a cloud, and here. See LXX, Gen. xxxii. 31; Exod. xxii. 3; Num. xxiv. 17; Judg. ix. 33; Isaiah xiv. 12; xl. 1; Mal. iv. 2. Also of the springing up of plants, Gen. ii. 5; iii. 18; Deut. xxix. 23; of the growing of the beard, 2 Sam. x. 5.
Similitude (omiothta). Better, likeness: answering to made like, ver. 3, and emphasizing the personal resemblance to Melchisedec.
For the weakness and unprofitableness thereof (dia to authv asqenev kai anwfelev). Rend. "because of its weakness and unprofitableness." It could not bring men into close fellowship with God. See Rom. v. 20; viii. 3; Gal. iii. 21. jAnwfelhv unprofitable, only here and Tit. iii. 9.
By the which we draw nigh to God (di hv eggizomen tw qew). Giving the reason why the hope is better. Christianity is the religion of good hope because by it men first enter into intimate fellowship with God. The old priesthood could not effect this.
20-24. A third argument to show the inferiority of the old priesthood. It is twofold:
(a) the new priesthood was established with the oath of God;
(b) it is held perpetually by one person, in contrast with the old priesthood which was administered by a succession of priests.
Without an oath. Without the taking of an oath by God. Scripture says nothing of an oath of God when he appointed Aaron and his posterity to the priesthood.
But this with an oath (o de meta orkwmosiav). Rend. but he with the taking of an oath. The taking of the oath accompanied (meta) the inauguration into the priesthood.
That said (legontov). Better, saith. Still says, since the promise is realized in Christ's priesthood.
Because they were not suffered to continue (dia to kwluesqai paramenein). Rend. because they are hindered from continuing. Paramenein "to abide by their ministration."
Come unto God (prosercomenouv tw qew). The verb o P., and in this sense only in Hebrews and 1 Pet. ii. 4. See a peculiar usage in 1 Timothy vi. 3. Comp. ejggizein to draw near, Jas. iv. 8; Heb. vii. 19. To make intercession for them (eiv to entugcanein uper autwn). The verb only here in Hebrews. Comp.uJperentugcanein, Rom. viii. 26, see note. See also on ejnteuxeiv supplications, 1 Tim. ii. 1. The idea is not intercession, but intervention. It includes every form of Christ's identifying himself with human interests. 201 The attempt has been made to trace this idea to Philo, who alludes to the logov iJkethv the supplicant Logos, and the logov paraklhtov the advocate-Logos. But the Logos is not treated by Philo as a divine-human personality intervening for men, but as a poetical personification allegorically considered. In one instance the suppliant Logos is the cry of the oppressed Israelites; in another, Moses, as the allegorical representative of the universal reason of mankind. It represents certain functions of human reason and speech. Again, the suppliant is. the visible Cosmos striving to realize its ideal.
26-28. Sketch of the ideal priest.
Holy (osiov). See on Luke i. 75. Always with a relation to God; never of moral excellence as related to men. Of Christ, Acts ii. 27; xiii. 35: of a bishop, Tit. i. 8.
Harmless (akakov). Rend. guileless. Free from malice and craft. Only here and Rom. xvi. 18. Undefiled (amiantov), see on 1 Pet. i. 4. Separate (kecwrismenov). Rend. separated: denoting a condition realized in Christ's exaltation. Comp. Rom. vi. 10.
Higher than the heavens (uyhloterov twn ouranwn). Comp. Eph. iv. 10, Heb. iv. 14.
When he offered up himself (eauton anenegkav). A new thought. For the first time Christ appears as victim. Comp. ch. ix. 12, 14; Eph. v. 2.