Hebrews 7:12
For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
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(12) This verse connects itself with the parenthesis in Hebrews 7:11. “For if the priesthood is changed there takes place also of necessity a change of law.” It is no light matter to speak of the order of Aaron as set aside: this carries with it a change of law.

Hebrews 7:12-14. For, or, wherefore, the priesthood — On account of which the law was given; being changed, of necessity there must be a change also of the law — As if he had said, Since there is such a near relation between the priesthood and the law, and since the whole administration of the law, as the rule of worship, depended absolutely on the Aaronical priesthood, therefore the one being changed, the other must be changed also. “Under the law the offices of the priesthood consisted in offering the sacrifices of beasts, and in performing various rites for purifying the bodies of the worshippers from ceremonial defilement, that they might be fit to join the congregation in the public worship of God. But when the priesthood was changed by raising up from another tribe a priest after the order of Melchisedec, whose services had for their object to purify the conscience of the worshippers, not by the sacrifice of beasts, but by the sacrifice of himself,” and to sanctify their souls by the influences of the Holy Spirit; “the whole law concerning the sacrifices of beasts, and the sanctifying of the flesh of the Israelites by washing, was of necessity entirely abolished.” For he of whom — Or, to whom; these things are spoken — That is, he to whom it was said, Thou art a priest for ever, &c., was of a different tribe, namely, that of Judah; of which no man gave attendance at the altar — Or, was suffered by the law to minister there, so that the priesthood is manifestly changed from one order to another, and from one tribe to another. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah — “That the Messiah was to spring up from Judah is plain from the prophecies concerning his descent: and it is likewise plain that this part of his character was verified in our Lord, whose genealogy Matthew and Luke have traced up to King David from the public tables. For that such tables of their descent were kept by the Jews Josephus testifies, (section 1. of his Life, at the end,) saying, ‘I give you these successions of our family as I find them written in the public tables.’ By these tables Paul knew himself to be of the tribe of Benjamin.”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 the priesthood being changed - According to the prediction in Psalm 110. that it would be. When that occurs, the consequence specified will also follow.

There is made of necessity a change also of the law - The Law so far as it grew out of that, or was dependent on it. The connection requires us to understand it only of the Law "so far as it was connected with the Levitical priesthood." This could not apply to the ten commandments - for they were given before the institution of the priesthood; nor could it apply to any other part of the moral law, for that was not dependent on the appointment of the Levitical priests. But the meaning is, that since a large number of laws - constituting a code of considerable extent and importance - was given for the regulation of the priesthood, and in reference to the rites of religion, which they were to observe or superintend, it followed that when their office was superseded by "one of a wholly different order," the Law which had regulated them vanished also, or ceased to be binding. This was a very important point in the introduction of Christianity, and hence, it is that it is so often insisted on in the writings of Paul. The argument to show that there had been a change or transfer of the priestly office, he proceeds to establish in the sequel.

12. For—the reason why Paul presses the words "after the order of Melchisedec" in Ps 110:4, namely, because these presuppose a change or transference of the priesthood, and this carries with it a change also of the law (which is inseparably bound up with the priesthood, both stand and fall together, Heb 7:11). This is his answer to those who might object, What need was there of a new covenant? For the priesthood being changed: for refers to the expiration of the Aaronical order, to which these Hebrews now were not bound, for that a better priesthood and law were to fill up their room in the church. The Levitical priesthood was changed and abolished to make way for this; God designing that to continue for a time, and then to expire, when the truth perfecting it should take place.

There is made of necessity a change also of the law; the mutation of the priesthood indispensably requireth the change of the law, i.e. the legal dispensation of the covenant of grace, and the bringing in with another priesthood a better hope, Galatians 3:17-27; compare Hebrews 7:18,19 of this chapter; even the covenant of grace in the gospel dispensation of it. This was made necessary by the decree of God, who determined, that both priesthood and law should expire together, and accordingly hath fulfilled it. For when Christ, the gospel High Priest, had in his person and work perfected all of it in heaven, he roots out that order of priesthood, abolisheth the law, scatters the people which would cleave to it; demolisheth the temple and city to which he confined the administration, so as all designs and endeavours of Jews, or of apostate Christhins, to repair, or to restore it, have been ineffectual to this day. For the priesthood being changed,.... Not translated from one tribe, family, or order, to another, but utterly abolished; for though it is called an everlasting priesthood, yet that is to be understood with a limitation, as the word "everlasting" often is, as relating to things under that dispensation; for nothing is more certain than that it is done away: it was of right abrogated at the death of Christ, and it is now in fact; since the destruction of Jerusalem, the daily sacrifice has ceased, and the children of Israel have been many days without one, and without an ephod. And the Jews themselves own, that the high priesthood was to cease in time to come (m), and which they say Azariah the son of Oded prophesied of in 2 Chronicles 15:3.

There is made of necessity a change also of the law; not the moral law, that was in being before the priesthood of Aaron, nor do they stand and fall together; besides, this still remains, for it is perfect, and cannot be made void by any other; nor is it set aside by Christ's priesthood: though there is a sense in which it is abolished; as it is in the hands of Moses; as it is a covenant of works; as to justification by it; and as to its curse and condemnation to them that are Christ's; yet it still remains in the hands of Christ, and as a rule of walk and conversation; and is useful, and continues so on many accounts: but either the judicial law; not that part of it which is founded on justice and equity, and was a means of guarding the moral law, for that still subsists; but that which was given to the Jews as Jews, and some parts of which depended on the priesthood, and so ceased with it; as the laws concerning the cities of refuge, raising up seed to a deceased brother, preserving inheritances in families, and judging and determining controversies: or rather the ceremonial law, which was but a shadow of good things to come, and was given but for a time; and this concerned the priesthood, and was made void by the priesthood of Christ; for that putting an end to the Levitical priesthood, the law which related to it must unavoidably cease, and become of no effect. This the Jews most strongly deny; God, they (n) say, will not change nor alter the law of Moses for ever. The nineth article of their creed, as drawn up by Maimonides, runs thus (o);

"I believe with a perfect faith that this law "shall not be changed", nor shall there be another law from the Creator, blessed be his name.''

But the reasoning of the apostle is strong and unanswerable.

(m) Vajikra Rabba, sect. 19. fol. 160. 4. (n) Seder Tephillot, Ed. Amsterd. fol. 2. 1. (o) Apud Seder Tephillot, Ed. Basil. fol. 86. 2.

{6} For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the {e} law.

(6) He shows how by the institution of the new priesthood, not only the imperfection of the priesthood of Levi was declared, but also that it was changed for this: for these two cannot stand together, because the first appointment of the tribe of Levi shut out the tribe of Judah and made it inferior to Levi: and this latter passage places the priesthood in the tribe of Judah.

(e) Of the institution of Aaron.

Hebrews 7:12. In the parenthesis, Hebrews 7:11, the author has brought forward in general the close connectedness of the Levitical priesthood with the Mosaic law, and thereby already indicated that if the former is an imperfect and unsatisfying one, the same also is true of the latter; the perishing of the one involves also the perishing of the other. This truth the author now further specially urges, by means of a corroboration of the parenthetical remark, Hebrews 7:11. So in recent times also Alford and Woerner. Otherwise is the connection apprehended by Bleek, de Wette, Bisping, Delitzsch, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 484), Maier, and Moll. They refer γάρ to the main thought in Hebrews 7:11, and find in Hebrews 7:12 an indication of the reason “why a change of the sacerdotal order would not have ensued without an urgent cause, namely, because such change would have involved also a change of the law in general.” But subject-matter and form of expression in Hebrews 7:12 point back to the parenthesis, Hebrews 7:11. For in both the author is speaking of the inseparable conjunction of the Levitical priesthood with the Mosaic law; and ἐπʼ αὐτῆς, Hebrews 7:11, is resumed by τῆς ἱερωσύνης, Hebrews 7:12; νενομοθέτηται, Hebrews 7:11, by νόμου, Hebrews 7:12.

μετατιθεμένης] denotes, like the μετάθεσις immediately following, certainly as to its verbal signification, only a transformation or change, (not specially, as Chrysostom, Piscator, Grotius, Bengel, Heinrichs, Stuart, and others suppose, a transference of the priesthood to another tribe of the Jewish people, or to a non-Aaronides). As regards the thing intended, however,—as is manifest from the parallel ἀθέτησις, Hebrews 7:18,—an actual rendering obsolete or abrogation is spoken of. The author thus still expresses himself with delicacy of feeling.

That, further, νόμος is to be limited, neither, with Beza, Pareus, Piscator, Grotius, Wittich, Chr. Fr. Schmid, Zachariae, Whitby, Schulz, to the law of the priesthood, nor, with Calvin, Cornelius a Lapide, Jac. Cappellus, Carpzov, Kuinoel, Klee, and others, to the ceremonial law, but is to be interpreted of the Mosaic law in general, is self-evident.Hebrews 7:12. μετατιθεμένης γὰρ.… “For if the priesthood is changed, there is of necessity a change also of the law”. Or, This change of priesthood being made, as it is now being made, a change of the law is also being made. The connection is: What need was there for a new priesthood? It must have been a crying need, for to change the priesthood is to change all. It means nothing short of revolution. Chrysostom rightly τοῦτο δὲ πρὸς τοὺς λέγοντας, τί ἔδει καινῆς διαθήκης;12. being changed] He here uses the comparatively mild and delicate term “being transferred” When he has prepared the mind of his readers by a little further argument, he substitutes for “transference” the much stronger word “annulment” (Hebrews 7:18). It is a characteristic of the writer to be thus careful not to shock the prejudices of his readers more than was inevitable. His whole style of argument, though no less effective than that of St Paul in its own sphere, is more conciliatory, more deferential, less vehemently iconoclastic. This relation to St Paul is like that of Melanchthon to Luther.

of necessity] The Law and the Priesthood were so inextricably united that the Priesthood could not be altered without disintegrating the whole complex structure of the Law.Hebrews 7:12. Μετατιθεμένης, being transferred or changed) from order to order, from tribe to tribe.—γὰρ, for) He shows why, in Hebrews 7:11, he presses the words of the psalm concerning the order of Melchisedec, because it follows from this, that the law was also changed along with the priesthood, and that both are brought to Christ.—νόμου, of the law) Hebrews 7:5; Hebrews 7:16; Hebrews 7:19; Hebrews 7:28; ch. Hebrews 8:4. Τάξις, order (not νόμος), is the expression used of Christ.Being changed (μετατιθεμένης)

Or transferred to another order. See on Galatians 1:6.

A change (μετάθεσις)

A transfer to a new basis. Only in Hebrews. See Hebrews 11:5; Hebrews 12:27. The inferiority of the Levitical priesthood is inferred from the fact that another priesthood was promised. If perfection was possible at all under the Mosaic economy, it must come through the Levitical priesthood, since that priesthood was, in a sense, the basis of the law. The whole legal system centered in it. The fundamental idea of the law was that of a people united with God. Sin, the obstacle to this ideal union, was dealt with through the priesthood. If the law failed to effect complete fellowship with God, the priesthood was shown to be a failure, and must be abolished; and the change of the priesthood involved the abolition of the entire legal system.

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