Amplified: Furthermore, here [in the Levitical priesthood] tithes are received by men who are subject to death; while there [in the case of Melchizedek], they are received by one of whom it is testified that he lives [perpetually]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.
NLT: In the case of Jewish priests, tithes are paid to men who will die. But Melchizedek is greater than they are, because we are told that he lives on. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Young's Literal: and here, indeed, men who die do receive tithes, and there he, who is testified to that he was living,
AND IN THIS CASE MORTAL MEN RECEIVE TITHES: kai hode men dekatas apothneskontes (PAPMPN) anthropoi lambanousin (3PPAI) ekei: (Heb 7:23; 9:27)
And in this case - Literally this reads "and here, indeed...". The word "here" conveys this sense
In this verse the writer offers further support regarding the inferiority of the Aaronic order of priesthood compared to the Melchizedekian priesthood.
Mortal men - Literally this reads "men who are continually dying". The writer emphasizes that dying men receive tithes which in the present context refers to the Levitical priests who were "continually dying" and passing the baton to the next generation of priests. The point he is that the Levitical order was temporary, but in not so with the order of Melchizedek.
Leon Morris makes an interesting observation that...
BUT IN THAT CASE ONE RECEIVES THEM, OF WHOM IT IS WITNESSED THAT HE LIVES ON: de marturoumenos (PPPMSN) hoti ze (3SPAI): (Heb 3:16; 5:6; 6:20; 9:24,25; John 11:25,26; 14:6,19; Revelation 1:18)
In that case (more literally but there) - referring to Abraham giving a tenth of his choicest spoils to Melchizedek.
Morris adds that...
One - That is, Melchizedek. In dramatic contrast to the Levitical priests "who are continually dying" stands the record regarding Melchizedek, "one...that...lives on", with not one word about his death. In this sense Melchizedek's office as priest was not passed on to another.
He lives on - No death is recorded for Melchizedek, and thus in a "typical" sense his priesthood is viewed as eternal and thus his priesthood was clearly superior to that of Aaron. In other words the Scripture specifies no limit to the authority of his priesthood, but on the contrary there is an intimation of perpetuity ("he remains a priest perpetually" see note Hebrews 7:3).
Spurgeon - And thus Aaron was greater than the people, being set apart to a high and honorable office, into which none else might intrude. He was God’s representative, and so he spoke with the authority of his office. Today our Savior’s intercession in the heavenly places rises far higher in power and glory than that of any ordinary intercessor. He blesses in fact, while the greatest saints on earth and in heaven can only bless in desire.
Calvin -He takes the silence respecting his death, as I have said, as an evidence of his life. (and then he adds) The type (Melchizedek) is described as having no end; the order of priesthood which it represents is therefore eternal.
Witnessed (3140) (martureo from mártus = witness, one who has information or knowledge of something & hence can bring to light or confirm something; English ~ martyr) ) means to be a witness, to testify, to give evidence, to give testimony, to affirm that one has seen or heard or experienced something. To be well reported. It means to provide information about a person or an event concerning which the speaker has direct knowledge. Martureo in some contexts is used in the sense of making an important and solemn declaration. It can be used in the sense of confirmation or approval and so to affirm n a supportive manner.
Expositor's Greek Testament explains "witnessed" as follows...
A W Pink - Some have stumbled over the statement here made about Melchizedek: “it is witnessed that he lives on”. These words have been appealed to in proof that he was a superhuman being. But if this statement be interpreted in the light of its context, there is no difficulty. It was not absolutely and personally that Melchizedek still lived, but typically and as a representation of Christ. Scripture frequently attributes to the type (here, Melchizedek) what is found alone in the antitype (here, Christ). Thus, the paschal lamb was expressly called God’s Passover (Ex 12:11), when in reality it was only a pledge and token thereof. So the emblems on the Lord’s table are denominated (given the name of) the body and blood of Christ, because they represent such. The blessedness of this detail will come before us in the later verses. (Hebrews 7:4-10 Melchizedek)
Amplified: A person might even say that Levi [the father of the priestly tribe] himself, who received tithes (the tenth), paid tithes through Abraham, (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.
NLT: In addition, we might even say that Levi's descendants, the ones who collect the tithe, paid a tithe to Melchizedek through their ancestor Abraham. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Young's Literal: and so to speak, through Abraham even Levi who is receiving tithes, hath paid tithes,
AND, SO TO SPEAK THROUGH ABRAHAM EVEN LEVI, WHO RECEIVED TITHES PAID TITHES: kai hos epos eipein (AAN) di' Abraam kai leui o dekatas lambanon (PAPMSN) dedekatotai (3SRPI): (Heb 7:23; 9:27) (Heb 3:16; 5:6; 6:20; 9:24,25; John 11:25,26; 14:6,19; Revelation 1:18)
So to speak - Literally "so to speak a word" (epos = a word + eipein = say or speak). The idea of this introductory phrase is "I might almost say" this phrase conveying the thought that what follows is not to be taken literally.
This is an idiomatic expression which Vincent explains was used to introduce...
To reiterate, such an introduction is calculated to make sure that the statement about to be spoken (The a sense in which even Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek) is not to be understood in a literal sense.
Fausset paraphrases it this way "I may say that, virtually, Levi, in the person of his father Abraham, acknowledged Melchisedec’s superiority, and paid tithes to him.
Matthew Poole writes...
The fact that the Levitical priesthood would pay tithes would have been a rather startling statement to the Jewish readers of the letter because the characteristic of the Levitical priesthood was not that of paying but of receiving tithes!
Even Levi - In context this reference to Levi is not speaking so much of him personally as of Levi collectively or as the source of the tribe that sprung from him, especially the priests in the line of Aaron. Remember the author's overall intent in this section is to demonstrate beyond a doubt the superiority of the priesthood of Messiah over the Levitical (Aaronic) priesthood.
Spurgeon - Before the foundation of the world, when there was no word concerning a priest of the house of Levi, our Lord Jesus Christ was looked upon by God as priest and sacrifice for men. It is not said, “You will be a priest,” but “You, a priest forever.” The verb is left out, but the word “are,” in the present tense, is correctly enough supplied by the translators. “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Psa 110:4). He was a priest before Aaron and his sons were born or thought of. Moreover, consider that the decree registered by the psalmist in Psalm 110 was published by revelation hundreds of years after the law had been given, so that it was not an old decree invalidated by the law of Moses, but a newly published decree abrogating in due time that which had gone before. Even while the law was in its palmy days, and the priest wore the Urim and the Thummim, there was a note struck in the Psalms of David that intimated the ending of it all, because there was another priest, not of the house of Aaron, who surpassed all of them, being made a priest by oath, even while they were priests without an oath. Whatever priesthood there may have been of God’s ordaining under the Old Testament, it was evidently all subordinate to the superior Melchizedek-priesthood of Jesus Christ our Savior, and was predestinated to give place to it.
Through Abraham - The idea is "by means of Abraham" the payment was made by the Levitical priests to Melchizedek, a concept that the writer elaborates on in the next verse.
Paid tithes - As we have already discussed, in the ancient orient, when one paid a tithe to someone, they payer was in essence acknowledging the superiority of the payee (or recipient of the tithe).
Amplified: For he was still in the loins of his forefather [Abraham] when Melchizedek met him [Abraham]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.
NLT: For although Levi wasn't born yet, the seed from which he came was in Abraham's loins when Melchizedek collected the tithe from him. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Young's Literal: for he was yet in the loins of the father when Melchisedek met him.
FOR HE WAS STILL IN THE LOINS OF HIS FATHER WHEN MELCHIZEDEK MET HIM: eti gar en te osphui tou patros en (3SIAI) hote sunentesen (3SAAI) auto o melchisedek: (Hebrews 7:5; Genesis 35:11; 46:26; 1 Kings 8:19)
For (gar) introduces an explanation (see importance of pausing to ponder this term of explanation) , in this case the explanation of how it was possible that through Abraham even Levi...paid tithes.
Spurgeon - Thus the old priesthood, the Levitical and Aaronic priesthood, did homage unto the Melchizedek priesthood, which is greater still.
He was still in the loins of his father (compare Hebrews 7:5 "descended from Abraham" or more literally "to come out of, from the loins of Abraham") - Levi was still in the loins (in modern terms in the genetic/chromosomal makeup) of Abraham. In addition, the Jewish priesthood was considered as being in Abraham. So if Levi (and the Levitical priests) was in Abraham, when the great patriarch paid a tenth of the spoils to Melchizedek, then it is as if Levi (and his descendants) had paid a tithe to Melchizedek. In the same way, when "father Abraham" was blessed by Melchizedek, all of Abraham's progeny were blessed, including the tribe of Levi, whose reception of Melchizedek's blessing equated to their submitting to his greater authority (the greater would bless the lesser figure). And of course in His infinite wisdom the Holy Spirit Who inspired this epistle knew full well that this line of reasoning would be very appealing to the Jews, who placed a strong emphasis on the solidarity (a feeling of unity as in interests, standards, and responsibilities that binds members of a group together) of their race.
The New Living Translation tries to help us understand this verse rendering it...
Constable comments that...
Think of Adam the representative head of all mankind - In Romans 5:12ff Paul uses the same principle of the head representing all the subsequent offspring of all time. Paul explained that the entire human race was considered to be in Adam, so that when Adam sinned, I sinned and you sinned, not to mention that we also inherited Adam's "sin virus" which made us "little sinners" even from the womb. Recall Paul's teaching...
In an similar way, the Levitical priesthood was considered to have been present in the patriarch Abraham not when he sinned but when he tithed and was blessed. Specifically the Jewish race in general and the Levitical descendants were present when their great patriarch and father acknowledged the superiority of Melchizedek by his voluntary willingness to tithe to him and receive blessing from him.
Regarding the phrase in the loins of his father, Leon Morris explains that...
As an aside, someone today might argue that in light of the fact that Christ was the "seed" of Abraham (see Galatians 3:16), and thus "in the loins of" Abraham and so He too paid tithe to Melchizedek. This argument breaks down because Abraham was not Messiah's father. God was His Father and His birth was unique and supernatural. Fausset explains it this way...
Warren Wiersbe also addresses this question asking...
Let's review the progression in the writer's logic -- Melchizedek was shown to be greater than Abraham in order to show that Melchizedek was greater that Levi and in turn greater than Aaron from whose lineage came the Levitical priests. From this line of logic, one can then deduce that if Melchizedek is greater than Aaron, then Melchizedek's priesthood must also be greater than Aaron's priesthood and in the final analysis, Messiah’s priesthood, since it was of the order of Melchizedek must be greater than the Aaronic Priesthood. This is why the dull of hearing were not ready for for the writer's line of logic!
A W Pink has a lengthy explanation on Hebrews 7:9,10 noting that...
Pink then draws an application of these great truths to the lives of believers all of whom are in Christ in a way similar (but more profound and eternal because of Who Christ is) to Levi's being in Abraham at the time of his transaction with Melchizedek in Genesis 14...
Now let us briefly summarize what the writer has been saying in Hebrews 7:4-10, as he seeks to convince these professing Jewish brethren that Melchizedek is greater than Abraham , the great grandfather of Levi, and so he is also greater than the Levitical priesthood. The writer gives 4 reasons...