Hebrews 7:18
For there is truly a cancellation of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18, 19) The intimate connection between these two verses is obscured by the ordinary translation. They point out with greater fulness and clearness what is involved in the statement of Hebrews 7:16. “For there is an annulling of a preceding commandment, because of its weakness and unprofitableness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and a bringing in thereupon of a better hope, by which we draw nigh unto God.” (It must be borne in mind throughout that by the “commandment” is meant the ordinance which created the Levitical priesthood, not the Law in general.) That Jesus was not made Priest according to a law of a carnal commandment (Hebrews 7:16) involves the annulling of that commandment; in His becoming Priest according to a power of indissoluble life is involved the introduction of a better hope. This is the general meaning, but each division of the thought is expanded. The appointment of a different priest by the very authority on which the former commandment rested, the divine decree, showed that commandment to be of force no longer: as we have already seen (Hebrews 7:11), this is because the commandment is weak and unprofitable—because the priesthood it creates cannot attain the end of its institution, which is to bring men into fellowship with God. The parenthesis, “for the Law made nothing perfect,” points out that the weakness just spoken of corresponds to that imperfection which confessedly belongs to the earlier dispensation: even the Jew (who would have accounted a change of priestly line impossible) expected perfection only when Messiah should have appeared. When the earlier commandment is annulled, in its place there is brought in a better hope. The “better hope” stands connected with the “better covenant” (Hebrews 7:22) and the “better promises” (Hebrews 8:6). “And by this (better hope) we draw nigh unto God.” The end of the priesthood therefore is attained. (See Hebrews 7:11.) In the Law (Leviticus 10:3) the priests are “those who come nigh unto God,” that is, in the service of the sanctuary: with a nobler meaning this name shall now belong to all God’s people.

Hebrews 7:18-19. For there is verily — Implied in this new and everlasting priesthood, and in the new dispensation connected therewith; a disannulling of the preceding commandment — An abrogation of the Mosaic law; for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof — In comparison of the new priesthood and dispensation. See on Romans 8:3. For the law — The dispensation of Moses, taken by itself, separate from the light and grace of the gospel: made nothing perfect — Either as to the state of God’s church, (which was then in its minority, Galatians 4:1-3,) or the religion of its members. The institutions of divine worship were imperfect, being mere shadowy representations of good things to come; the promises made to Abraham were but imperfectly fulfilled, and divine revelation was very incomplete, and in many respects obscure. Therefore that dispensation did not perfect the illumination of the people of God in things spiritual or divine, but they were still in comparative darkness as to divers particulars of great importance. See on Luke 1:76; Luke 1:79. It did not perfect their justification and reconciliation with God, or remove their guilt before God, or a sense of it in their own consciences; it only did this typically and figuratively, Hebrews 9:9; Hebrews 10:1-4. It did not perfect their sanctification and conformity to God, Romans 7:5, &c. For the truths, precepts, and promises which it revealed, were chiefly of a worldly and carnal nature, and not calculated to sanctify the minds and hearts of those that received them, or to render them heavenly and holy. And the sanctifying Spirit, and the salvation consequent thereon, were not so largely given as under the gospel, John 7:37-38; 1 Peter 1:10-12. But the bringing in of a better hope — The Christian dispensation, or the priesthood of Christ and the promises of the gospel, which afford more solid grounds for hope, did, or does; making full provision both for our justification and sanctification, and for our living in the practice of universal holiness and righteousness, and therefore furnishing us with a title to, and a meetness for, eternal life. “Promissa terrestria non operantur mortis contemptum, sed eum operantur spes melior vitæ eternæ, atque celestis. Inde tam crebra martyria.” Earthly promises do not produce a contempt of death, but the better hope of a heavenly and eternal life produces it. Hence so many martyrdoms, namely, in the first church. — Grotius. The word επεισαγωγη, rendered the bringing in, literally means, the introduction of a thing after, or upon, another. The priesthood and sacrifice of Christ, and the dispensation thereupon, were brought in after the law, upon it, in the room of it, to effect what the law could not do. This, therefore, says Dr. Owen, is the sense of the words: “The introduction of the better hope after and upon the law, when a sufficient discovery had been made of its weakness and insufficiency as to this end, made all things perfect, or hath brought the church to that state of consummation which was designed for it. It is called better with respect to the law, and all it contained, or could effect.” By which we draw nigh unto God — Have free liberty to draw nigh in faith and prayer, through the sacrifice and intercession of our ever-living and glorious High-Priest and Mediator. It is an expression, says Grotius, “properly sacerdotal, denoting the approach of the priests to God and his worship.” Under the Levitical priesthood the priests, in their sacrifices and solemn services, drew nigh to God: the same liberty is now granted to all true believers, under the sacerdotal ministration of the Lord Jesus; through him they have access by one Spirit unto the Father, at all times, and particularly in their prayers and praises, and all acts of worship; and may draw so nigh as to become one spirit with him, which is true Christian perfection.7:11-25 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.For there is verily a disannulling - A setting aside. The Law which existed before in regard to the priesthood becomes now abrogated in consequence of the change which has been made in the priesthood; see the note at Hebrews 7:12.

Of the commandment - Relating to the office of priest, or to the ceremonial rites in general. This does not refer to the moral law, as if that was abrogated, for:

(1) the reasoning of the apostle does not pertain to that, and,

(2) that law cannot be abrogated. It grows out of the nature of things, and must be perpetual and universal.

Going before - Going before the Christian dispensation and introducing it.

For the weakness and unprofitableness thereof - That is, it was not adapted to save man; it had not power to accomplish what was necessary to be done in human salvation. It answered the end for which it was designed - that of introducing a more perfect plan, and then vanished as a matter of course. It did not expiate guilt; it did not give peace to the conscience; it did not produce perfection Hebrews 7:11, and therefore it gave place to a better system.

18. there is—Greek, "there takes place," according to Ps 110:4.

disannuling—a repealing.

of the commandment—ordaining the Levitical priesthood. And, as the Levitical priesthood and the law are inseparably joined, since the former is repealed, the latter is so also (see on [2557]Heb 7:11).

going before—the legal ordinance introducing and giving place to the Christian, the antitypical and permanent end of the former.

weakness and unprofitableness—The opposite of "power" (Heb 7:16).

For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before: the Spirit having proved the disannulling of the Aaronical priesthood for its imperfection, proceeds to prove the abolishing of the law or covenant annexed to it, like it for weakness and unprofitableness; ayethsiv is a displacing, deposing, or laying it aside as to its binding force, so as there is no obligation from it on any as to obedience or penalty; and this is so disannulled of the Law-maker, God himself, by setting up the gospel by his Son-priest, which is most certainly true.

For the weakness and unprofitableness thereof; for the Mosaical covenant and law wanted strength to bring about what the Jews sought by it, and wanted good fruit to them who made their boast of it; both which weakness and unprofitableness arose from the Hebrews’ abuse of it, expecting expiation and sanctification by it, without minding the promise which preceded it four hundred and thirty years, to which it should have led them, and by its neglect proved so fatal to them. For they would be justified and saved by an external obedience to this law, without any regard to Christ and his sacrifice, by whom alone it could be attained, Galatians 3:17-27. It was strong and profitable to the end for which God made it, to lead to Christ; but weak and unprofitable to justify or sanctify them without him, which was the end they used it for, or rather abused it. For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment,.... Not the moral law; though what is here said of the commandment may be applied to that; that is sometimes called the commandment, Romans 7:12 it went before the promise of the Messiah, and the Gospel of Christ, and the dispensation of it; it is in some respects weak; it cannot justify from the guilt of sin, nor free from the power of it, nor secure from death, the punishment of it, nor give eternal life; though it has a power to command, accuse, convince, and condemn: and it is also unprofitable in the business of justification and salvation; though otherwise it is profitable to convince of sin, to show what righteousness is, and to be a rule of conversation to the saints in the hand of Christ; yet not this, but the ceremonial law is meant, which is the commandment that respected the Levitical priesthood, and is called a carnal one, and is inclusive of many others, and, which distinguishes that dispensation from the Gospel one: and this may be said to be

going before; with respect to time, being before the Gospel state, or the exhibition of the new covenant of grace; and with respect to use, as a type or shadow of good things to come; and as it was a schoolmaster going before, and leading on to the knowledge of evangelical truths: and this is now disannulled, abrogated, and made void; the middle wall of partition is broken down, and the law of commandments contained in ordinances is abolished:

for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof; the ceremonial law was weak; it could not expiate or atone for sin, in the sight of God; it could not remove the guilt of sin from the conscience, but there was still a remembrance of it; nor could it cleanse from the filth of sin; all it could do was, to expiate sin typically, and sanctify externally to the purifying of the flesh; and all the virtue it had was owing to Christ, whom it prefigured; and therefore, being fulfilled in him, it ceased: and it was "unprofitable"; not before the coming of Christ, for then it was a shadow, a type, a schoolmaster, and had its usefulness; but since his coming, who is the body and substance of it, it is unprofitable to be joined to him; and is of no service in the affair of salvation; and is no other than a grievous yoke of bondage; yea, is what renders Christ unprofitable and of no effect, when submitted to as in force, and as necessary to salvation; and because of these things, it is abolished and made null and void. The Jews, though they are strenuous assertors of the unalterableness of the law of Moses, yet sometimes are obliged to acknowledge the abrogation of the ceremonial law in the times of the Messiah; the commandment, they say (r), meaning this, shall cease in the time to come; and again,

"all sacrifices shall cease in the future state, or time to come, (i.e. the times of the Messiah,) but the sacrifice of praise (s).''

(r) T. Bab. Nidda, fol. 61. 2.((s) Vajikra Rabba, scct. 9. fol. 153. 1. & sect. 27. fol. 168. 4.

{9} For there is verily a disannulling of the {h} commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.

(9) Again, that no man object that the last priesthood was added to make a perfect one by joining them both together, he proves that the first was made void by the later as unprofitable, by the nature of them both. For how could those material and transitory things sanctify us, either by themselves, or by being joined with another?

(h) The ceremonial law.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Hebrews 7:18-19. Elucidation of that which is signified by this proclamation in the psalm, of the arising of a new everlasting priest after the manner of Melchisedec (Hebrews 7:17). By virtue of that proclamation of God, the Mosaic institution of the priests, and with it the Mosaic law in general, is declared—and that with good reason—to be devoid of force; and, on the other hand, a better hope is brought in. Theodoret: Παύεται, φησίν, ὁ νόμος, ἐπεισάγεται δὲ ἡ τῶν κρειττόνων ἐλπίς.

Hebrews 7:18-19 contain a single proposition, dividing itself into two halves by means of μὲνδέ, for which γίνεται forms the common verb, and in which οὐδὲν γὰρ ἐτελείωσεν ὁ νόμος constitutes a parenthesis. So, rightly, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Primasius, Luther, Zeger, Camerarius, Estius, Peirce, Bengel, M‘Lean, Schulz, Böhme, Bleek, de Wette, Stengel, Tholuck, Bloomfield, Conybeare, Bisping, Delitzsch, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 592), Alford, Maier, Moll, Kurtz, Ewald, Hofmann, Woerner, and the majority. Others construe differently, in taking each of the two verses as an independent statement in itself. They then vary as regards the interpretation of ἐπεισαγωγή, Hebrews 7:19, as this is looked upon either as predicate or as subject. As predicate it is taken by Faber Stapulensis, Erasmus (Version), Vatablus, Calvin, Hunnius, Jac. Cappellus, Pyle, Ebrard, and others, in supplying ἐστίν or ἦν, and regarding as subject thereto ὁ νόμος. According to this, the sense would be: for nothing has the law brought to perfection; but it is (or its meaning consists in this, that it is) a bringing in of a better hope. But against this argues the fact that, if ἐπεισαγωγὴ δέ was intended to form the opposition to the first half of Hebrews 7:19, the author could not possibly—after having placed a verb (ἐτελείωσεν) in the first half, consisting as it does only of a few words—have continued in the second half otherwise than with a verb; he must have written ἐπεισάγει δὲ κρείττονα ἐλπίδα instead of ἐπεισαγωγὴ δὲ κ.τ.λ. Moreover, ἑπί in ἑπεισαγωγή would have remained without any reference upon the supposition of this construction. As subject ἐπεισαγωγή is looked upon by Beza, Castellio, Pareus, Piscator, Schlichting, Owen, Seb. Schmidt, Carpzov, Whitby, Michaelis, Semler, Ernesti, Valckenaer, Heinrichs, Stuart, and others. The sense would then be: the law indeed brought nothing to perfection; but the bringing in of a better hope did lead to perfection. Against this view, however, the consideration is decisive, that in such case, inasmuch as the preceding νόμος has the article, ἐπεισαγωγή also must have obtained the article.

The statement of Hebrews 7:18 is to be understood in special relation to the subject in question (not, as is done by Schlichting, Heinrichs, and others, as a truth of universal import). The article before προαγούσης ἐντολῆς is wanting, because the design was to express the ἐντολή regarding the Levitical priesthood as one which had only the character of an ἐντολὴ προάγουσα.

ἀθέτησις] a declaring void of force, abrogation. Comp. ἀθετεῖν, Galatians 3:15. The substantive only here and Hebrews 9:26.

γίνεται] results, namely, in the declaration of God, Psalm 110:4.

The ἐντολή, the command, denotes not the whole Mosaic law (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Primasius, Calvin, Grotius, Hammond, Owen, M‘Lean, Böhme, Kuinoel, Stuart, Klee, Bloomfield), but the ordinance regarding the Levitical priesthood therein contained. Only with Hebrews 7:19 does the author transfer to the whole that which he here states concerning a part.

The ἐντολή, however, is termed προάγονσα (comp. 1 Timothy 1:18; 1 Timothy 5:24), because, as a constituent part of the O. T., it preceded in point of time the institution of the New Covenant. Yet, at the same time, there lies in the emphatically preposed participle, on account of its reciprocal relation to ἐπεισαγωγή, Hebrews 7:19, at least the additional indication delicately conveyed, that this ἐντολή, since just as a mere precursor of something future it points beyond itself, naturally bears the character of the merely temporary and consequently unsatisfactory.

διὰ τὸ αὐτῆς ἀσθενὲς καὶ ἀνωφελές] on account of its weakness and unprofitableness. The ἐντολή was weak, since it did not possess the strength to attain its object, namely, the reconciliation of men to God; but, because in such manner it did not fulfil the end of its existence, it became for that very reason something unprofitable and unserviceable. On ἀσθενές, comp. Romans 8:3; Galatians 4:9.

οὐδέν] is not to be limited by means of οὐδένα (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Schlichting, Grotius, Carpzov, Kuinoel, Bisping), but, on the contrary, is to be left in the full universality of the neuter. Completion in general, in whatever respect, the law was not in a position to bring about.

ἐπεισαγωγή] a doubly composite term. Literally: introduction upon or in addition to, i.e. the bringing in of something new in addition to, or over and above, an object already present (here: in addition to the προάγουσα ἐντολή, Hebrews 7:18). ἐπί in ἐπεισαγωγή corresponds therefore to the πρό in προαγούσης.

κρείττονος ἐλπίδος] of a better hope, sc. than the προάγουσα ἐντολή was in a position to afford.[83] Better, more excellent, is the hope founded upon the newly instituted priesthood, in that this hope is certain and infallible, thus in reality leads to the desired goal.

δι ̓ ἧς ἐγγίζομεν τῷ θεῷ] by means of which we draw nigh unto God (Jam 4:8). Comp. Hebrews 6:19 : εἰσερχομένην εἰς τὸ ἐσώτερον τοῦ καταπετάσματος, and Hebrews 10:19 ff. In contrast with the character of the Old Covenant, since the people were not permitted to enter the Most Holy Place, where the throne of Jehovah was. Cf. Hebrews 9:6 ff.

[83] We have not to explain, with Schulz: “So is then … something better introduced, the hope, by virtue of which,” etc. To the same result as Schulz does Delitzsch also come, when he observes: “It is not meant that the law also afforded a hope, and that the one introduced by the word of the psalm is only by comparison better; but the κρείττων ἐλπίς, which possesses that which is truly perfected in the future, in the world beyond the grave, into which its anchor has been sunk (Hebrews 6:19), stands opposed to the ἐντολή in the present state of its unsatisfying praxis.” In the same manner, lastly, Alford: “The contrast is between the προάγουσα ἐντολή, weak and unprofitable, and a better thing, viz. the ἐλπίς, which brings us near to God. This κρείττονός τινος, τουτέστιν ἐλπίδος κ.τ.λ., is expressed by κρείττονος ἐλπίδος.”18. there is) Rather, “there occurs” or “results,” in accordance with Psalm 110:4.

a disannulling] See note on Hebrews 7:12. Comp. Galatians 3:15.

of the commandment] Most ancient and modern commentators understand this of the Mosaic Law in general.

for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof] The writer here shews how completely he is of the school of St Paul, notwithstanding the strength of his Judaic sympathies. For St Paul was the first who clearly demonstrated that Christianity involved the abrogation of the Law, and thereby proved its partial, transitory, and inefficacious character as intended only to be a preparation for the Gospel (Romans 8:3). The law was only the “tutor” or attendant-slave to lead men to Christ, or train their boyhood till it could attain to full Christian manhood (Galatians 3:23; Galatians 3:14). It was only after the consummation of the Gospel that its disciplinary institutions became reduced to “weak and beggarly rudiments” (Galatians 4:9).

going before] Comp. 1 Timothy 1:18; 1 Timothy 5:24. The “commandment” was only a temporary precursor of the final dispensation.Hebrews 7:18. Ἀθέτησις, a disannulling) So ἀναιρεῖ, takes away, ch. Hebrews 10:9.—γίνεται, takes place) in the psalm.—προαγούσης ἐντολῆς, of the commandment going before) This commandment is denoted in the abstract, Hebrews 7:16, and in the concrete, in conjunction with men, Hebrews 7:28; in the same manner as the first testament or covenant, ch. Hebrews 8:7-8.—ἀσθενὲς καὶ ἀνωφελὲς, weakness and unprofitableness) So Paul uses the term, weak elements, Galatians 4:9; and he also often desires and has regard to that which is ‘profitable,’ ch. Hebrews 13:9; comp. Epistles to Timothy and Titus.Verses 18, 19. - For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof (for the Law made nothing perfect); but [there is on the other hand] a bringing in thereupon of a better hope, through which we draw nigh unto God. Such is certainly the construction of the sentence (not as in the A.V.); οὐδεν γὰρ, etc., in ver. 19 being parenthetical, and ἐπεισαγωγὴ depending on γίνεται in ver. 18. We have here the conclusion of the argument of the vers. 11-18, with a further expression of the inherent insufficiency of the Law, given as the reason of its supersession; reminding us of similar views of what the Law was worth frequent in St. Paul's Epistles (cf. Romans 8:3; Galatians 3:10, etc.). The final clause, δἱ ῆς ἐγγίζομεν τῷ Θεῷ, leads directly up to the main subject in the writer's view, viz. the exposition of Christ's eternal priesthood. But two proofs are first to be given of Christ's priesthood being, unlike the Aaronic, thus eternally availing to bring us near to God. These proofs are to be found in the Divine oath which established it, and the expression, "forever," in Psalm 90, once more adduced. There is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before (ἀθέτησις μὲν γὰρ γίνεται προαγούσης ἐντολῆς)

Verily is superfluous. Ἀθέτησις only here and Hebrews 9:26; a very few times in lxx: The fundamental idea is the doing away of something established (θετόν). The verb ἀθετεῖν to make void, do away with, is common in N.T. and in lxx, where it represents fifteen different Hebrew words, meaning to deal falsely, to make merchandise of, to abhor, to transgress, to rebel, to break an oath, etc. The noun, in a technical, legal sense, is found in a number of papyri from 98 to 271 a.d., meaning the making void of a document. It appears in the formula εἰς ἀθίτησιν καὶ ἀκύρωσιν for annulling and canceling. Προαγούσης ἐντολῆς rend. of a foregoing commandment. The expression is indefinite, applying to any commandment which might be superseded, although the commandment in Hebrews 7:16 is probably in the writer's mind. Foregoing, not emphasizing mere precedence in time, but rather the preliminary character of the commandment as destined to be done away by a later ordinance. With foregoing comp. 1 Timothy 1:18; 1 Timothy 5:24.

For the weakness and unprofitableness thereof (διὰ τὸ αὐτῆς ἀσθενὲς καὶ ἀνωφελές)

Rend. "because of its weakness and unprofitableness." It could not bring men into close fellowship with God. See Romans 5:20; Romans 8:3; Galatians 3:21. Ἀνωφελής unprofitable, only here and Titus 3:9.

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