Hebrews 7

Introduction

"There are many informative concepts about the priesthood in this chapter, such as the ideas that perfection comes through the Melchizedek Priesthood (Heb. 7:11-12), that the Melchizedek Priesthood is not restricted to one lineage (Heb. 7:13-15), that the priesthood is eternal (Heb. 7:16-17), that it is received with an oath and a covenant (Heb. 7:20-21), and that Christ's priesthood function continues eternally (Heb. 7:27-28).
 
"This chapter could best be understood as a typology, with Melchizedek, the great high priest, being a 'type' of Christ-and the order of the priesthood held by Melchizedek and his people being typical of the order of the priesthood held by Jesus Christ and his disciples." (James A. Carver, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Jan. 1986, 55)
 

Hebrews 7:1 Melchisedec, king of Salem

"The names Melchizedek and Salem suggest the uniqueness of the king of Salem and his people. In fact, the very name Melchizedek consists of the two Hebrew words malkî ('king') and sedeq ('righteousness'), implying the king of Salem's faith in God-'My king is righteousness.' 1 Similarly, the Apostle Paul interpreted Melchizedek as 'King of righteousness' (Heb. 7:2). Salem, the name of Melchizedek's land or city, may mean 'peace' or 'peaceful.' The Bible Dictionary in the LDS edition of the Bible identifies Salem as Jerusalem. Biblical text discloses that Melchizedek was the righteous leader of a group of people who earned a reputation for peace and stability. Thus, in the midst of violent and chaotic times dominated by warring tribal factions, Melchizedek and Salem indeed appear unique." (Dennis A. Wright, " 'None Were Greater': A Restoration View of Melchizedek," Ensign, Feb. 1998, 30)
 
"Salem is a form of the Jewish greeting shalom, meaning 'peace to you.'" (Joseph F. McConkie, Studies in Scripture, Vol. 6: Acts to Revelation, ed. by Robert L. Millet, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 201.)
 

Hebrews 7:1-2 Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God

Melchisedec was both a king and a priest. In this respect, he is a type for Christ, who was also both a king and a priest. Being a king and a priest is the natural consequence of exercising the fullness of the Melchizedek priesthood, and all holders of this priesthood are given the promise that they will someday be kings and priests unto the Most High God.
 
Bruce R. McConkie
"To the man Melchizedek goes the honor of having his name used to identify the Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God, thus enabling men 'to avoid the too frequent repetition' of the name of Deity. (D. & C. 107:2-4.) Of all God's ancient high priests 'none were greater.' (Alma 13:19.) His position in the priestly hierarchy of God's earthly kingdom was like unto that of Abraham (Heb. 7:4-10), his contemporary whom he blessed (Gen. 14:18-20; Heb. 7:1; Inspired Version, Gen. 14:17-40), and upon whom he conferred the priesthood. (D. & C. 84:14.)
 
"Indeed, so exalted and high was the position of Melchizedek in the eyes of the Lord and of his people that he stood as a prototype of the Son of God himself, the Son who was to arise 'after the similitude of Melchisedec.' (Heb. 7:15.) Both bore the titles, Prince of Peace and King of Heaven-meaning King of Peace (Alma 13:18; Inspired Version, Gen. 14:33, 36)-and both were joint-heirs of the Father's kingdom. (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed., pp. 474-475.)
 
"'Now this Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem; and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abomination; yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness; But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace, for he was the king of Salem; and he did reign under his father.' (Alma 13:17-18.)" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 3: 166.)
 

Hebrews 7:2 King of peace

"In addition to his biblical title 'King of peace' (Heb. 7:2), in the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 14:33 we learn Melchizedek was called by his people 'the Prince of peace,' another title identifying him as a type foreshadowing the ministry of Jesus Christ." (David Rolph Seely, "The Joseph Smith Translation: 'Plain and Precious Things' Restored," Ensign, Aug. 1997, 14)
 

JST Hebrews 7:3 Melchizedek was ordained a priest...which order was without father, without mother...

Joseph Fielding Smith
"Many Christian teachers have been greatly puzzled because of the reference in the Book of Hebrews to Melchizedek. Bible commentators have scratched their heads and reached false conclusions trying to solve the mystery. It was not Melchizedek who was without father and without mother and without beginning of days or end of life, but it was the priesthood which he held." (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 3: 82
 
Joseph Fielding Smith
"Now, the world has commented upon that very greatly, and they have concluded because of this reading, that Melchizedek was not born in the world like other men, that he had no father or mother. But that is not the proper reading. And they have applied the same thing to Elijah, due to the fact that his was somewhat a mysterious nature. " (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 2: 102.)
 
Joseph Smith
"The Priesthood is an everlasting principle, and existed with God from eternity, and will to eternity, without beginning of days or end of years. The keys have to be brought from heaven whenever the Gospel is sent. When they are revealed from heaven, it is by Adam's authority." (Teachings, p. 157)
 

Hebrews 7:4-10 Now consider how great this man was

For Paul's audience, Abraham is the pinnacle of religious history. He is the father of all righteousness whose supremacy is without dispute. Yet, Paul is proving that Melchizedek was even greater than Abraham. He also has to prove that Melchizedek's priesthood was superior to the Levitical tradition. The Jewish mind is going to be resistant to these ideas, especially because the scriptural record of Melchizedek is so scant.
 
Hence, Paul invites, 'Now consider how great this man was.' Of Melchizedek, Alma declared, 'there were many before him, and also there were many afterwards, but none were greater' (Alma 13:19). He was superior to Abraham because Abraham paid tithes to him. He was superior because Abraham was blessed by him, 'And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.'
 
And what of Levi? The Jewish traditions appropriately held that Levi was inferior to Abraham. If Abraham were inferior to Melchizedek, then logic would dictate that Levi and the Levitical priesthood were inferior to Melchizedek and the Melchizedek priesthood. Paul expresses this idea with the figurative notion that Levi also paid tithes to Melchizedek, being yet unborn 'in the loins of his father.'
 

Hebrews 7:11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood...what further need was there

J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
"Paul thus declared the Priesthood of Melchizedek as above the Levitical Priesthood, and that Christ exercised the powers and authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood; that perfection did not come by the Levitical Priesthood, which was the law of carnal commandments; that the Levitical Priesthood made nothing perfect; but that, through the Melchizedek Priesthood we draw nigh to God, with the power of endless life. We may become, even as the Lord commanded on the Mount: 'Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.'
 
"Unless this were true there was no occasion for the Melchizedek Priesthood." (On the Way to Immortality and Eternal Life [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1949], 42.)
 

Hebrews 7:12 the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law

In every dispensation, the law of God is associated with the power to administer that law. Hence, Paul argues that a change of priesthood, from Melchizedek to Aaronic, must signify a change also in the law, from the law of the gospel to the law of Moses. Similarly, when Christ came and taught a higher law, it must be associated with a higher priesthood. But a change in the priesthood and the law has many other implications. Each law is administered with distinct covenants (including tokens and signs), distinct blessings and cursings, and distinct temples with their ordinances and sacrifices. (Gen. 17:1-8,11; Lev. 26; Heb. 9:1; 3 Ne. 9:19-20, DC 132:4-6)
 
James E. Talmage
"The authority of administration in the Temples of Solomon, Zerubbabel, and Herod, was that of the Lesser or Aaronic Priesthood; for the Higher or Melchisedek Priesthood, otherwise known as the Holy Priesthood after the order of the Son of God, had been taken from Israel with Moses. The temples of the present are administered under the greater authority. The importance of the distinction between these two orders of Priesthood may warrant a further consideration in this place. That the two are essentially separate and distinct is made plain by Paul in his epistle to the Hebrews." (The House of the Lord [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1968], 197.)
 

Hebrews 7:16 the power of an endless life

Only the fullness of the Melchizedek priesthood, including the sealing power of Elijah, has power to ordain men and women unto eternal life. The Melchizedek priesthood without the sealing keys has patriarchal authority including the authority to administer the gift of the Holy Ghost and lead congregations as Bishops and Stake Presidents. But that is not enough to exalt God's children. Obviously, the sealing power is needed to perform endowments and temple sealings. This is 'the power of an endless life' which Melchizedek held. The faithful ordained to this glory 'shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fullness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting' (DC 132:19-20)
 
Joseph Smith
"The power of the Melchizedek Priesthood is to have the power of 'endless lives.'
 
"...What was the power of Melchizedek? It was not [the] priesthood of Aaron. [Melchizedek was] a king and a priest to the Most High God. [It was] a perfect law of theocracy, holding keys of power and blessings. [He] stood as God to give laws to the people, administering endless lives to the sons and daughters of Adam [by] kingly powers of anointing..." (Kent P. Jackson, comp. and ed., Joseph Smith's Commentary on the Bible [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 192 - 193.)
 

Hebrews 7:19 the law made nothing perfect

Bruce R. McConkie
"Moses' law is the law of carnal commandments, or in other words the law which is concerned, in detail and specifically, with carnal and evil acts-warning, exhorting, encouraging, commanding, all to the end that men will be left without excuse and, hopefully, will avoid the snares of the evil one. Paul uses the name 'the law of a carnal commandment' (Heb. 7:16) to describe it, and also calls it 'the law of commandments contained in ordinances' (Eph. 2:15). Abinadi speaks of it as 'a law of performances and of ordinances, a law which they were to observe strictly from day to day, to keep them in remembrance of God and their duty towards him.' (Mosiah 13:30.) Our revelation, speaking of the preparatory gospel, says: 'Which gospel is the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments, which the Lord in his wrath caused to continue with the house of Aaron among the children of Israel until John.' (D&C 84:27.)
 
"Historically, this law first came into being when Israel rejected the gospel and failed to live as Jehovah, their Lord, commanded them to do. Moses, having destroyed the tablets of stone on which the law as first revealed was written, received this commandment from the Lord: 'Hew thee two other tables of stone, like unto the first, and I will write upon them also, the words of the law, according as they were written at the first on the tables which thou brakest; but it shall not be according to the first, for I will take away the priesthood out of their midst; therefore my holy order, and the ordinances thereof, shall not go before them; for my presence shall not go up in their midst, lest I destroy them. But I will give unto them the law as at the first, but it shall be after the law of a carnal commandment; for I have sworn in my wrath, that they shall not enter into my presence, into my rest, in the days of their pilgrimage.' (JST Ex. 34:1-2.)" (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 409.)
 

Hebrews 7:21 those priests were made without an oath

While the Melchizedek priesthood is 'without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life,' (v. 3) the Levitical priesthood was "with father, with mother, and with descent" for priesthood came by lineage not by righteousness. Furthermore, the Levitical priesthood had a beginning and it will have an end (DC 13:1).
 
Paul notes another significant difference-namely, that priests of the Melchizedek priesthood receive a promise of God that they will be priests 'for ever after the order of Melchisedec.' The Levitical priests could not make this claim, being made priests 'without an oath.'
 

Hebrews 7:21 this with an oath...The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec

When we speak of "the oath and covenant of the priesthood," we often think of DC 84:33-43. However, DC 84 deals primarily with the covenant of the priesthood. The oath of the priesthood is found in Hebrews 7. An oath is a one-way promise, and the oath of the priesthood is a one-way promise from God to man wherein God promises the receiver of the priesthood, 'Thou art [an elder] for ever after the order of Melchisedec.'
 
Bruce R. McConkie
"When men anciently swore with an oath in the Lord's name to perform an act, they thereby made God their partner; and because God does not fail, they were then bound to perform the act or lay down their lives in the attempt. When God himself swears with an oath, he puts his own Godhood on the line: either what he promises shall come to pass or he ceases to be God... God swears with an oath that his Son shall stand as a priest of the Melchizedek order in time and in eternity, thus receiving eternal exaltation, our ancient apostolic friend sets forth that this same oath is sworn with reference to every person who receives the Melchizedek Priesthood. '...And all those who are ordained unto this priesthood are made like unto the Son of God, abiding a priest continually.' (JST, Hebrews 7:1-3.)
 
"Jesus was 'made' a high priest 'after the similitude of Melchisedec,' thus gaining 'the power of an endless life' ("Heb. 7:15"Heb. 7:16Hebrews 7:15-16), or in other words, the promise of eternal life and exaltation. He is our prototype, and all who receive the Melchizedek Priesthood become heirs of the same promise; sworn with the same oath; the promise of glory and honor everlasting as joint-heirs with him in the kingdom of his Father." (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 318.)
 
Joseph Fielding Smith
"Now may I say a few words about the oath which accompanies the reception of the Melchizedek Priesthood.
 
"To swear with an oath is the most solemn and binding form of speech known to the human tongue; and it was this type of language which the Father chose to have used in the great Messianic prophecy about Christ and the priesthood. Of him it says: 'The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.' (Ps. 110:4.)
 
"In explaining this Messianic prophecy, Paul says that Jesus had 'an unchangeable priesthood,' and that through it came 'the power of an endless life.' (See Heb. 7:24,16.) Joseph Smith said that 'all those who are ordained unto this priesthood are made like unto the Son of God, abiding a priest continually,' that is, if they are faithful and true.
 
"And so Christ is the great prototype where priesthood is concerned, as he is with reference to baptism and all other things. And so, even as the Father swears with an oath that his Son shall inherit all things through the priesthood, so he swears with an oath that all of us who magnify our callings in that same priesthood shall receive all that the Father hath." (Conference Report, October 1970, Afternoon Meeting 92.)
 

Hebrews 7:22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament

James E. Faust
"What is a surety? We find in turning to the dictionary that surety is a 'state of being sure'; it is also a pledge 'given for the fulfillment of an undertaking'; it also refers to 'one who has become legally liable for the debt, default, or failure in duty of another.' Does not the Savior, with His mission, have claim upon all these meanings?
 
"What is a testament? To us, the primary meaning of testament is that it is a covenant with God. It is also holy scripture, a will, a witness, a tangible proof, an expression of conviction. So the Savior as a surety is a guarantor of a better covenant with God." ("The Surety of a Better Testament," Ensign, Sep. 2003, 3)
 

Hebrews 7:25 he ever liveth to make intercession for them

Bruce R. McConkie
"As taught by Paul, the pleasing reality is that Christ 'is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.' (Heb. 7:25.) Mormon expressed it this way: 'He advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens.' (Moro. 7:28.)" (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 348.)
 
Bruce R. McConkie
"Jesus pleads the cause of the Twelve-and all the saints-in the courts above. He is their Mediator, Advocate, and Intercessor. He makes intercession for them, because they have forsaken the world and come unto him; he advocates their cause, for their cause is his cause and they have received his gospel; he performs a divine service of mediation, reconciling fallen man to his Maker, because the fallen ones choose now to associate with those who are not of this world. Jesus prays, thus, not for the world, but for those who have kept his commandments; who have reconciled themselves to God through faith and repentance; who are preparing themselves for an abode with him and his Father. And his interceding petitions are always available for all men, if they will but believe his word and obey his law. (The Mortal Messiah, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-81], 4:111; emphasis added.)
 

JST Hebrews 7:27 he needeth not offer sacrifice for his own sins, for he knew no sins; but for the sins of the people. And this he did once

Gerald N. Lund
"The apostle Paul in the book of Hebrews drew heavily on the typology of the Day of Atonement to teach the mission of Christ. In that epistle he pointed out that Christ is the great 'High Priest' who, unlike the high priest of the Aaronic Priesthood, was holy and without spot and did not need to make atonement for his own sins before he could be worthy to officiate for Israel and enter the Holy of Holies (Heb. 3:1; 7:26). His perfect life was the ultimate fulfillment of the symbol of wearing white garments." (Selected Writings of Gerald N. Lund: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 20.)
 

Hebrews 7:28 the word of the oath...was since the law

Bruce R. McConkie
"Thus far Paul has taught the principles involved. He has shown that Israel failed to enter into eternal glory through the law alone. He has shown that salvation did not come by the law of Moses alone. He has shown that the Messianic High Priest was needed to sacrifice himself for the sins of the people. Now he is prepared to show how each performance of the Mosaic sacrificial system bore record of and pointed to the great and eternal sacrifice of the promised High Priest. 'We have such an high priest,' he says, 'who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.' (Heb. 8:1)" (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-1981], 1: 148.)