Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Hebrews 7:11

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood - The word τελειωσις, as we have before seen, signifies the completing or finishing of any thing, so as to leave nothing imperfect, and nothing wanting. Applied here to the Levitical priesthood, it signifies the accomplishment of that for which a priesthood is established, viz.: giving the Deity an acceptable service, enlightening and instructing the people, pardoning all offenses, purging the conscience from guilt, purifying the soul and preparing it for heaven, and regulating the conduct of the people according to the precepts of the moral law. This perfection never came, and never could come, by the Levitical law; it was the shadow of good things to come, but was not the substance. It represented a perfect system, but was imperfect in itself. It showed that there was guilt, and that there was an absolute need for a sacrificial offering to atone for sin, and it typified that sacrifice; but every sacrificial act under that law most forcibly proved that it was impossible for the blood of Bulls and Goats to take away sin.

For under it the people received the law - That is, as most interpret this place, under the priesthood, ἱερωσυνῃ being understood; because, on the priesthood the whole Mosaical law and the Jewish economy depended: but it is much better to understand επ 'αυτῃ on account of it, instead of under it; for it is a positive fact that the law was given before any priesthood was established, for Aaron and his sons were not called nor separated to this office till Moses came down the second time from the mount with the tables renewed, after that he had broken them, Exodus 40:12-14. But it was in reference to the great sacrificial system that the law was given, and on that law the priesthood was established; for, why was a priesthood necessary, but because that law was broken and must be fulfilled?

That another priest should rise - The law was given that the offense might abound, and sin appear exceeding sinful; and to show the absolute necessity of the sacrifice and mediation of the great Messiah, but it was neither perfect in itself, nor could it confer perfection, nor did it contain the original priesthood. Melchisedec had a priesthood more than four hundred years (422) before the law was given; and David prophesied, Psalm 110:4, that another priest should arise after the order of Melchisedec, nearly five hundred years (476) after the law was given. The law, therefore, did not contain the original priesthood; this existed typically in Melchisedec, and really in Jesus Christ.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood - As the Jews supposed. They were accustomed to regard the system as perfect. It was an appointment of God, and they were tenacious of the opinion that it was to be permanent, and that it needed no change. But Paul says that this could not be. Even from their own Scriptures it was apparent that a priest was to arise of another order, and of a more permanent character, and this he says was full proof: that there was defect of some kind in the previous order. What this defect was, he does not here specify, but the subsequent reasoning shows that it was in such points as these - that it was not permanent; that it could not make the worshippers perfect; that the blood which they offered in sacrifice could not take away sin, and could not render those who offered it holy; compare Hebrews 7:19, Hebrews 7:23-24; Hebrews 10:1-4.

For under it the people received the law - This assertion seems necessary in order to establish the point maintained in Hebrews 7:12, that if the priesthood is changed there must be also a change of the Law. In order to this, it was necessary to admit that the Law was received under that economy, and that “it was a part of it,” so that the change of one involved also the change of the other. It was not strictly true that the whole Law was given after the various orders of Levitical priest were established - for the Law on Sinai, and several other laws, were given before that distinct arrangement was made; but it was true:

(1)that a considerable part of the laws of Moses were given under that arrangement; and,

(2)that the whole of the ceremonial observances was connected with that. They were parts of one system, and mutually dependent on each other. This is all that the argument demands.

What further need was there … - “If that system would lead to perfection; if it was sufficient to make the conscience pure, and to remove sin, then there was no necessity of any other. Yet the Scriptures have declared that there “would be” another of a different order, implying that there was some defect in the former.” This reasoning is founded on the fact that there was an express prediction of the coming of a priest of a different “order” Psalm 110:4, and that this fact implied that there was some deficiency in the former arrangement. To this reasoning it is impossible to conceive that there can be any objection.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The priesthood and law by which perfection could not come, are done away; a Priest is risen, and a dispensation now set up, by which true believers may be made perfect. That there is such a change is plain. The law which made the Levitical priesthood, showed that the priests were frail, dying creatures, not able to save their own lives, much less could they save the souls of those who came to them. But the High Priest of our profession holds his office by the power of endless life in himself; not only to keep himself alive, but to give spiritual and eternal life to all who rely upon his sacrifice and intercession. The better covenant, of which Jesus was the Surety, is not here contrasted with the covenant of works, by which every transgressor is shut up under the curse. It is distinguished from the Sinai covenant with Israel, and the legal dispensation under which the church so long remained. The better covenant brought the church and every believer into clearer light, more perfect liberty, and more abundant privileges. In the order of Aaron there was a multitude of priests, of high priests one after another; but in the priesthood of Christ there is only one and the same. This is the believer's safety and happiness, that this everlasting High Priest is able to save to the uttermost, in all times, in all cases. Surely then it becomes us to desire a spirituality and holiness, as much beyond those of the Old Testament believers, as our advantages exceed theirs.
Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 409

Those who would overcome must put to the tax every power of their being. They must agonize on their knees before God for divine power. Christ came to be our example, and to make known to us that we may be partakers of the divine nature. How?—By having escaped the corruptions that are in the world through lust. Satan did not gain the victory over Christ. He did not put his foot upon the soul of the Redeemer. He did not touch the head though he bruised the heel. Christ, by His own example, made it evident that man may stand in integrity. Men may have a power to resist evil—a power that neither earth, nor death, nor hell can master; a power that will place them where they may overcome as Christ overcame. Divinity and humanity may be combined in them. 1SM 409.1

It was the work of Christ to present the truth in the framework of the gospel, and to reveal the precepts and principles that He had given to fallen man. Every idea He presented was His own. He needed not to borrow thoughts from any, for He was the originator of all truth. He could present the ideas of prophets and philosophers, and preserve His originality; for all wisdom was His; He was the source, the fountain, of all truth. He was in advance of all, and by His teaching He became the spiritual leader for all ages. 1SM 409.2

It was Christ that spoke through Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God. Melchizedek was not Christ, but he was the voice of God in the world, the representative of the Father. And all through the generations of the past, Christ has spoken; Christ has led His people, and has been the light of the world. When God chose Abraham as a representative of His truth, He took him out of his country, and away from his kindred, and set him apart. He desired to mold him after His own model. He desired to teach him according to His own plan. The mold of the world's teachers was not to be upon him. He was to be taught how to command his children and his household after him, to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment. This is the work that God would have us do. He would have us understand how to govern our families, how to control our children, how to command our households to keep the way of the Lord. 1SM 409.3

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