|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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.
Verses 23, 24. - And they indeed have been made priests many in number, because of being by death hindered from continuing. But he, because of his abiding forever, hath his priesthood unchangeable. This second point of contrast has already been twice touched on - ver. 8, with respect to the claim to tithe; and ver. 16, with respect to the order of priesthood: here it is with especial reference to the eternal personality, and hence the perpetual and complete efficiency, of our one Priest. The repetitions are not tautological, having each time different bearings. The contrast here, as before, is between mortal men who succeed each other in the office of priesthood, and One who has the office inherent in himself forever. The word ἀπαράβατον (translated "unchangeable") is taken by some in an intransitive sense, as in margin of the A.V., that doth not pass to another, equivalent to ἀδιάδοχον. This, however, is not the proper force of this late Greek word, nor does the sense of the passage of necessity require it.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And they truly were many priests,.... There were many common priests at a time; and though there was but one high priest at a time, yet there were many of them in a line of succession from Aaron down to the apostle's time. The Jews say (u), that under the first temple eighteen high priests ministered, and under the second temple more than three hundred: this shows the imperfection of this priesthood, since it was in many hands; no one continuing and being sufficient to execute it; but Christ is the one and only high priest; there is no other, nor is there any need of any other: the reason why there were so many under the law was,
because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death; death has a power to forbid a long continuance in this world, and no man does continue long here: death puts a stop to men's works, and to the exercise of their several callings; no office, even the most sacred, exempts from it; no, not the office of high priests: these were but men, sinful men, and so died; and their discontinuance by reason of death shows the imperfection of their priesthood: there was another reason besides this which the apostle gives, why the high priests were so many, and especially about this time; and that is, the office was bought for money, and men that would give most were put into it: hence there were frequent changes; the Jews themselves say, they changed every twelve months (w).
(u) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 9. 1. Piske Tosephot Zebachim, Art. 72. (w) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 8. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
23. Another proof of superiority; the Levitical priests were many, as death caused the need of continually new ones being appointed in succession. Christ dies not, and so hath a priesthood which passes not from one to another.
were—Greek, "are made."
many—one after another; opposed to His "unchangeable (that does not pass from one to another) priesthood" (Heb 7:24).
not suffered to continue—Greek, "hindered from permanently continuing," namely, in the priesthood.
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