CONSIDER JESUS OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST
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Charts from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission
Hebrews - Charles Swindoll
Amplified: But this person who has not their Levitical ancestry received tithes from Abraham [himself] and blessed him who possessed the promises [of God]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.
NLT: But Melchizedek, who was not even related to Levi, collected a tenth from Abraham. And Melchizedek placed a blessing upon Abraham, the one who had already received the promises of God. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Young's Literal: and he who was not reckoned by genealogy of them, received tithes from Abraham, and him having the promises he hath blessed,
BUT THE ONE WHOSE GENEALOGY IS NOT TRACED FROM THEM COLLECTED A TENTH FROM ABRAHAM: ho de me genealogoumenos (PPPMSN) ex auton dedekatoken (3SRAI) ton abraam: (Heb 7:4; Genesis 14:19,20 )
But (de) introduces a striking contrast (see value of assessing each term of contrast).
Spurgeon - He had no predecessor in his priesthood, and he had no successor. He was not one who took a holy office and then laid it down; but as far as the historic page of Scripture is concerned we have no note of his quitting this mortal scene. He disappears, but we read nothing of his death any more than of his birth. His office was perpetual, and passed not from sire to son; for he was the type of One “who has become a priest not according to a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life” (Heb 7:16).
Genealogy...traced (1075) (genealogeo from genea [from ginomai = to become] = a generation, a race, posterity, that which has been begotten + lego = to choose, to pick out, to reckon) means to reckon or trace a genealogy or ancestry.
The one whose genealogy is not traced from them - More literally this reads "he who is not genealogically derived from them". Obviously, this description refers to Melchizedek who was not a descendant of Abraham.
In this verse the writer substantiates the fact that the Melchizedekian priesthood and thus Christ's priesthood is superior to the Aaronic (Levitical) priesthood because Levi's great-grandfather Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek and Levi, though as yet unborn, was involved in this transaction (see Hebrews 7:9 note). Obviously Levi was not born until many years after the event in Genesis 14 and yet as the Jews well knew Abraham was the father the Hebrew race. It follows that all twelve tribes including the tribe of Levi (and the priestly family) were represented in Abraham in Genesis 14 when he recognized the superiority of Melchizedek by paying a tenth to him and receiving Melchizedek's priestly blessing. And as he goes on to state in the next verse no one disputes the fact that "the lesser is blessed by the greater". Thus in this dual manner the surpassing greatness of the royal priesthood of Melchizedek is emphasized.
Collected a tenth (1183) (dekatoo from dekatos = tenth) means to take tithes or a tenth from (active voice as in Hebrews 7:6) or to pay tithes (passive voice in Hebrews 7:9). There is one use in the Septuagint (LXX)...
The perfect tense signifies that this collection was made historically at a point in time in the past and that it remains on the written record of Scripture.
Vincent explains "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.
MacDonald "was an unusual and unconventional transaction. Abraham, called to be the father of the nation from which Messiah would come, was paying deference to one who was not connected with the chosen people. Melchizedek’s priesthood leaped over racial barriers. (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
AND BLESSED THE ONE WHO HAD THE PROMISES: kai ton echonta (PAPMSA) tas epaggelias eulogeken (3SRAI): (Hebrews 6:13-15; 11:13,17; Genesis 12:2,13; 13:14-17; 17:4-8; 22:17,18; Acts 3:25; Romans 4:13; 9:4; Galatians 3:16)
Melchizedek collected a tenth from Abraham, and also blessed Abraham, this latter act demonstrating (including Abraham's receipt of the blessing) the implied superiority of Melchizedek.
Blessed the one who had the promises - Melchizedek accepted the exalted position Abraham accorded him, and gave the patriarch his blessing.
Blessed (2127)(eulogeo from eu = good + logos = word) is the verb form meaning to speak well of, to celebrate with praises, to praise. When used by men toward men it means to speak well of with praise and thanksgiving (English "eulogize"). It means to invoke God’s blessing upon them.
Blessed is in the perfect tense indicating that it has occurred at a point in time in the past and still remains on record in Genesis.
Calvin writes that
Adam Clarke quotes Macknight...
Leon Morris explains that...
Who had the promises - This descriptive phrase is used as a "synonym" for Abraham ("the possessor of the promises") who had received the promises. The writer by using this description exalts Abraham in order still more to exalt Melchizedek.
The promises include those described in the following passages (these Scriptures are not an exhaustive record of the promises to Abraham, eg, Psalm 105:42, Acts 7:17, Romans 4:13ff, Hebrews 119, 17, et al)...
Normally one would suppose that the one who had the promises (Abraham) might be considered to have been above being blessed by any other man. However, as the writer has made amply clear, Melchizedek is not "any other man" but is indeed a unique and great king-priest. This fact again accentuates that the Priesthood of Jesus according to the Order of Melchizedek was greater than the Levitical priesthood. This may seem repetitious to us today for the Temple in Jerusalem has long disappeared and most of us are "wild olive branches" (Gentiles) and not likely to seek to cling to the old ways of the Levitical priesthood. But for a Jew in the time of this writing (the Temple was still standing), this paradigm shift called for such inspired repetition.
Promises (1860) (epaggelia/epangelia from epí = intensifies verbal meaning + aggéllo = to tell, declare) originally referred to an announcement or declaration (especially of a favorable message) but in later Greek came to mean a declaration to do something with the implication of obligation to carry out what is stated (thus a promise or pledge). Epaggelia was primarily a legal term denoting summons, a promise to do or give something (or to refrain from doing something). The NT promises refer almost exclusively the promises of God. For more on promise see ISBE article.
Clearly promise is a key word in this epistle where epaggelia is used 14 times in 13 verses (27.4% of the 51 NT uses) (See notes Hebrews 4:1, Hebrews 6:12, 6:15, 6:17, Hebrews 7:6, Hebrews 8:6, Hebrews 9:15, Hebrews 10:36, Hebrews 11:9, 11:13, 11:17, 11:33, 11:39)
Expositor's Greek Testament writes that...
Vincent explains that...
Amplified: Yet it is beyond all contradiction that it is the lesser person who is blessed by the greater one. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.
NLT: And without question, the person who has the power to bless is always greater than the person who is blessed. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Weymouth: And beyond all dispute it is always the inferior who is blessed by the superior.
Young's Literal: and apart from all controversy, the less by the better is blessed--
BUT WITHOUT ANY DISPUTE THE LESSER IS BLESSED BY THE GREATER: choris e pases antilogias to elatton hupo tou kreittonos eulogeitai (3SPPI): (1 Timothy 3:16 ) (Hebrews 11:20,21; Genesis 27:20-40; 28:1-4; 47:7-10; 48:15-20; 49:28; Numbers 6:23-27; Deuteronomy 32:1; 2 Samuel 6:20; 1 Kings 8:55; 2 Chronicles 30:27; Luke 24:50,51; 2 Corinthians 13:14)
This verse represents a brief "parenthesis" in which the writer states a generalization that everyone recognizes.
Vincent states the writer is "Asserting a principle which no one thinks of questioning: it is the less who is blessed, and the greater who blesses.
Spurgeon - This great man yet further blessed the blessed Abraham, and the father of the faithful was glad to receive benediction at his hands. No small man this: no priest of second rank; but one who overtops the sons of men by more than head and shoulders, and acts a superior’s part among the greatest of them. Therefore, Abraham was less than Melchizedek. He could not bless Melchizedek, but Melchizedek could bless him. How great, then, was he! How far greater still is that Lord of ours of whom Melchizedek was but a type!
The International Children's Bible paraphrase accurately conveys the sense of this verse rendering it...
The NLT accurately paraphrases it...
Without (5565) (choris) as a preposition (its more frequent use) means “apart from, without, separate from.
Dispute (485) (antilogia from antilego = contradict <> anti = against + lego = speak) literally means "a word spoken against" or speaking against and so talking back, face to face, in opposition against (a dispute involving opposite opinions). Our English word dispute describes a disagreement, a quarrel, an argument or a verbal controversy. Antilogia describes contradiction or controversy with the added sense that strife is involved. Strife means bitter sometimes violent conflict or dissension.
The lesser - In the present context this alludes to Abraham.
Lesser (1640) (elasson) is the comparative degree of mikros meaning “little”and denotes “less” in quality, age or rank, this latter meaning applying to the present context.
The greater - In the present context this alludes to Melchizedek.
Greater (2909) (kreitton/kreisson from kratos = strong, which denotes power in activity and effect) serves as the comparative degree of agathos, “good” (good or fair, intrinsically). Kreisson is a key word in Hebrews (12 uses are in Hebrews out of 19 NT uses = 1Cor 7:9, 38; 11:17; Phil 1:23; Heb 1:4; 6:9; 7:7, 19, 22; 8:6; 9:23; 10:34; 11:16, 35, 40; 12:24; 1Pet 3:17; 2Pet 2:21)
The point is that it is such a universally held truth that the inferior individual is blessed by the superior one, there is simply no room for dispute about this matter. This same saying was common in the Greek secular writings when a writer wished to stress the certainty of what he said. This does not signify any personal or moral inferiority, of course, but simply an inferiority of position.
Although this principle was known in secular Greek, as Fausset comments from a Scriptural viewpoint...
As the blesser, Melchizedek indisputably was superior to Abraham. If Melchizedek was superior to Abraham, then he must also be superior to the Levites, Abraham’s descendants. Consequently, his priesthood is superior to theirs.
John Brown offers a qualifying comment...
Leon Morris explains that...
Most of us are Gentile believers but it behooves as we read these arguments to try to place ourselves in the sandals of these first century Jewish readers who had always revered Abraham as their ancestral father and national hero. And yet now they learn the their father Abraham actually acknowledged a "non-Jewish" priest as his superior! Imagine how they must have felt, especially in light of the fact that this very information had been recorded by Moses and they had failed to recognize or understand its significance!
Pentecost explains that...
Andrew Murray in his devotional commentary "Holiest of All" has the following points of application relating to this section...