Hebrews 7:16
Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) A carnal commandment.—Literally (according to the true reading of the Greek), a commandment of flesh: one that is limited to the sphere of man’s nature of flesh. As such, it is bound up with distinctions of race and tribe and family; it is limited by human infirmity and the changes wrought by sickness and death; what it accomplishes is the purifying of the flesh; in its own nature it is temporary, and may be set aside. (See Hebrews 9:10; Hebrews 9:13.) In contrast to the enactment is placed an essential right, possessed by Him of whom Melchizedek was the type: in contrast to all that is temporary and limited is placed an indissoluble life. Because He lives—in virtue of what He is—He is Priest: in virtue of an endless life He is priest for ever.

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.Who is made - That is, the other priest is made, to wit, the Messiah. He was made a priest by a special law.

Not after the law of a carnal commandment - Not according to the Law of a commandment pertaining to the flesh. The word "carnal" means "fleshly;" and the idea is, that the Law under which the priests of the old dispensation were made was external, rather than spiritual; it related more to outward observances than to the keeping of the heart. That this was the nature of the Mosaic ritual in the main, it was impossible to doubt, and the apostle proceeds to argue from this undeniable truth.

But after the power of an endless life - By an authority of endless duration. That is, it was not concerned mainly with outward observances, and did not pass over from one to another by death, but was unchanging in its character, and spiritual in its nature. It was enduring and perpetual as a priesthood, and was thus far exalted above the service performed by the priests under the former dispensation.

16. carnal … endless—mutually contrasted. As "form" and "power" are opposed, 2Ti 3:5; so here "the law" and "power," compare Ro 8:3, "The law was weak through the flesh"; and Heb 7:18, "weakness." "The law" is here not the law in general, but the statute as to the priesthood. "Carnal," as being only outward and temporary, is contrasted with "endless," or, as Greek, "indissoluble." Commandments is contrasted with "life." The law can give a commandment, but it cannot give life (Heb 7:19). But our High Priest's inherent "power," now in heaven, has in Him "life for ever"; Heb 9:14, "through the eternal Spirit"; Heb 7:25, "able … ever liveth" (Joh 5:26). It is in the power of His resurrection life, not of His earthly life, that Christ officiates as a Priest. Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment; the gospel High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, was not constituted nor consecrated after that order and rule of God which did bind the Aaronical priesthood, and regulate it as to their consecrations and ministrations, obliging them by annexed temporal promises and comminations, which could not reach an immortal soul. The Mosaical rites and ceremonies were bodily, fleshly, only external. He was not made a priest by legal purifying with water, nor anointed with oil, nor sprinkled with blood, nor clothed with priestly garments, as Aaron and his order was, Exodus 39:1-43 40:13-15,31,32; nor initiated with sacrifices of bulls, goats, &c. He was not to minister in a tabernacle or temple, as they did, which was carnal, and reached only the flesh, could not expiate sins, nor procure spiritual and eternal blessings, Hebrews 9:1-12,19-26.

But after the power of an endless life; but was constituted and consecrated by God according to his powerful law. He was anointed with the Holy Ghost and power, Acts 10:38, which mighty influence enabled him to execute his oifice effectually for saving sinners; and by it he receiveth life peculiar to his priesthood, opposed to the dead letter of the commandment, by which, and under which, souls perished by multitudes. But this High Priest hath by this law life in himself, and the best of life to give out to those who wait on his ministry, John 5:21,24-26, and such life as is indissoluble, opposite to carnal and bodily, which corrupts and perisheth; but the powerful life of this priest is not to be destroyed, neither in himself, nor his people. He by his death and life makes eternal expiation, and procureth eternal blessings for them: see Hebrews 7:25, and Hebrews 9:11,12,28. Who was made,.... Not as man, much less as God; but as a priest, constituted and appointed one:

not after the law of a carnal commandment: either the ceremonial law in general, which was a carnal one, if we consider the persons to whom it belonged, the Israelites according to the flesh; it was incumbent upon, and might be performed by such who were only carnal; and it was performed by and for men that were in the flesh, or mortal; and if we consider the matter of it, the subject on which various of its rites were exercised was the flesh or body, and which were performed by manual operation; and the sacrifices of it were the flesh of beasts; and these were for the sins of the flesh, and for the removing the ceremonial uncleanness of it; and the virtue of them reached only to the purifying of the flesh; and the whole of it is distinct from the moral law, which is spiritual, and reaches to the spirit or soul of man; whereas this only was concerned about temporal and external things: or else the law of the priesthood is particularly intended; or that commandment which respected the priesthood of Aaron; which law regarded the carnal descent of his sons; enjoined a carnal inauguration of them, and provided for their succession and continuance in a carnal way; after which, Christ the great high priest did not become one:

but after the power of an endless life; this may be understood either of the Gospel, according to which Christ is a priest; and which is called "life", in opposition to the law which is the ministration of death; and because it is the means of quickening dead sinners, and of reviving drooping saints; and points out Christ the way of life, and has brought life and immortality to light: and may be said to be "endless", in distinction from the law, which is temporary; and because it is itself permanent and everlasting; contains in it the promise of eternal life, and is the means of bringing souls unto it: and there is a "power" goes along with it; which distinguishes it from the weak and beggarly elements of the ceremonial law, which is abolished, because of the weakness of it; for it is attended with the power of the Spirit of God, and is the power of God unto salvation: or else this intends the endless life which Christ has, in and of himself; and which qualifies him for a priest; and stands opposed to the mortality of the priests, and to that law which could not secure them from it: the priests died, and the law by which they were priests could not prevent their death; Christ is the living God, the Prince of life, he had power to lay down his life as man, and power to take it up again; and his life, as man, is an endless one, which qualifies him for that part of his priestly office, his intercession and advocacy: or it may design that power, which his Father has given him as Mediator, of an endless life, both for himself and for all his people; and regards his ever living as a priest, and the perpetuity of and the continual virtue and efficacy of it.

{8} Who is made, not after the {g} law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.

(8) He proves the diversity and excellency of the institution of Melchizedek's priesthood, by this that the priesthood of the law rested on an outward and bodily anointing: but the sacrifice of Melchizedek is set out to be everlasting and more spiritual.

(g) Not after the ordination, which commands frail ad temporary things, as was done in Aaron's consecration, and all of that whole priesthood.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Hebrews 7:16. Nearer indication as to what is implied by the characteristic κατὰ τὴν ὁμοιότητα Μελχισεδέκ, Hebrews 7:15, what peculiarity of priesthood is expressed by the same.

ὅς] sc. ἱερεὺς ἕτερος, not: Μελχισεδέκ.

ὃςγέγονεν] who … has become so (sc. priest).

οὐ κατὰ νόμον ἐντολῆς σαρκίνης κ.τ.λ.] not according to the law of a fleshly command, but according to the power of indestructible [or indissoluble] life. In connection with νόμος, Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Böhme, Kuinoel, Tholuck, Delitzsch, and others think of the Mosaic law; but against this argues the singular ἐντολῆς σαρκίνης, to take which, with the expositors mentioned, in the sense of the plural (according to the Mosaic law, whose essence consists in fleshly ordinances), or as a collective designation of the constituent parts of the law as ὁ νόμος τῶν ἐντολῶν, Ephesians 2:15, is arbitrary. νόμος is therefore to be taken, as Romans 7:21; Romans 7:23, in the more general sense: norm (rule, standard), and the ἐντολή is the special precept or ordinance which the Mosaic law contains regarding the Levitical priesthood.

It is called fleshly, however, according to Carpzov, Böhme, Stuart, and others, because it is mutable and transitory; more correctly, nevertheless: because it lays stress only upon external, earthly things, which fall a prey to transitoriness, and (comp. the contrast ἀλλὰ κατὰ δύναμιν κ.τ.λ.) appoints as priests only mortal men, of whom one after another is snatched away by death. Schlichting: carnale (praeceptum) vocatur, quia totum ad carnem spectabat, carnisque rationem habebat. Partim enim ad certam stirpem, nempe Aaronicam, sacerdotii dignitatem adstrinxerat, partim mortalitati pontificum, quae carnis propria est, consulens, successionis jura descripserat. Inde enim factum est, ut unum alteri succedere juberet, quo, morientibus sacerdotibus, sacerdotium tamen ipsum perpetuaretur.

κατὰ δύναμιν ζωῆς ἀκαταλύτου] i.e. inasmuch as the power of living for ever is inherent in Him. Comp. Hebrews 7:17; Hebrews 7:24. Improperly do Cameron, Dorscheus, Calov, al., refer it as well, or solely, to Christ’s power of communicating intransitory life to others. But wrongly, too, Hofmann (Schriftbew. II. 1, 2 Aufl. p. 551 f.), Delitzsch, and Alford: the ζωὴ ἀκατάλυτος is to be limited to that life of Christ which began with His resurrection. On the contrary, the ζωὴ ἀκατάλυτος is thought of as a property inherent in the ἱερεὺς ἕτερος, without respect to relation of time. Comp. also Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 458, Obs.Hebrews 7:16. ὃς οὐ κατὰ νόμονἀκαταλύτου, “who has become such not after the law of a fleshen ordinance but after the power of an indissoluble life”. This relative clause defines the “likeness to Melchizedek,” and brings out a double contrast between the new priest and the Levitical—the Levitical priesthood is κατὰ νόμον, the other κατὰ δύναμιν, the one is dependent on what is σαρκίνη, the other on what belongs to ζωὴ ἀκατάλυτος. These contrasts are significant. The Levitical priesthood rested on law, on a regulation that those should be priests who were born of certain parents. This was an outward νόμος, a thing outside of the men themselves, and moreover it was a νόμος σαρκίνης ἐντολῆς, regulating the priesthood not in relation to spiritual fitness but in accordance with fleshly descent. No matter what the man’s nature is nor how ill-suited and reluctant he is to the office, he becomes a priest because his fleshly pedigree is right. The new priest on the contrary did what He did, not because any official necessity was laid upon Him, but because there was a power in His own nature compelling and enabling Him, the power of a life which death did not dissolve. The contrast is between the official and the personal or real. All that is merely professional must be dispossessed by what is real. Hereditary kings gave way to Cromwell. The Marshals of France put their batons in their pockets when Joan of Arc appeared. For the difference between σάρκινος and σαρκικός see Trench, Synonyms, 257, who quotes the reason assigned by Erasmus for the use of the former in 2 Corinthians 3:3, “ut materiam intelligas, non qualitatem”. The enactment was σαρκίνη inasmuch as it took to do only with the flesh. It caused the priesthood to be implicated with and dependent on fleshly descent. Opposed to this was the inherent energy and potentiality of an indissoluble or indestructible life. The life of the new priest is indissoluble, not as eternally existing in the Son, but as existing in Him Incarnate and fulfilling priestly functions. The term itself “indestructible” used in place of “eternal,” directs the thought to the death of Jesus which might naturally seem to have threatened it with destruction. His survival of death was needful to the fulfilment of His functions as priest (see Hebrews 7:25). The meaning and reference of the term is brought out by the contrast of Hebrews 7:28 between “men who have weakness” and υἰὸν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τετελειωμένον. “Unquestionably that which enables the Son to be Messianic King and High Priest of men is His rank as Son. But it is true on the other hand that it is as Son come in the flesh that He is King and Priest. And the expression ‘hath become priest’ (Hebrews 7:16) points to a historical event. It is, therefore, probable that indissoluble life is attributed to Him not in general as the eternal Son, but as the Son made man.”16. is made] Lit., “is become.”

after the law of a carnal commandment] Rather, “in accordance with the law of a fleshen (i.e. earthly) commandment.” Neither this writer, nor even St Paul, ever called or would have called the Law “carnal” (sarkikos), a term which St Paul implicitly disclaims when he says that the Law is “spiritual” (Romans 7:14); but to call it “fleshen” (sarkinos) is merely to say that it is hedged round with earthly limitations and relationships, and therefore unfit to be adapted to eternal conditions. Its ordinances indeed might be called “ordinances of the flesh” (Hebrews 9:10), because they had to do, almost exclusively, with externals. An attentive reader will see that even in the closest apparent resemblances to the language of St Paul there are differences in this Epistle. For instance his relative disparagement of the Law turns almost exclusively on the conditions of its hierarchy; and his use of the word “flesh” and “fleshen,” refers not to sensual passions but to mortality and transience.

of an endless life] Lit., “of an indissoluble life,” the life of a tabernacle which “could not be dissolved.” The word (akatalutos) is not found elsewhere in the N.T. The Priest of this new Law and Priesthood is “the Prince of Life” (Acts 3:15).Hebrews 7:16. Ὃς γέγονεν) who is made a priest. Κατὰ, according to, is construed with the word, priest.—νόμον ἐντολῆς σαρκικῆς, the law of a carnal commandment) Power is presently opposed to the law; life to commandment; endless to carnal. Commandment occurs again, Hebrews 7:18; law, Hebrews 7:19. Concerning the flesh, comp. ch. Hebrews 9:10.—δύναμιν ζωῆς, the power of life) Both words occur again, Hebrews 7:25.The law of a carnal commandment (νόμον ἐντολῆς σαρκίνης)

The phrase N.T.o. Νόμον the norm or standard, as Romans 7:21, Romans 7:23. Εντολῆς, the specific precept of the Mosaic law regarding Levitical priests. Comp. Ephesians 2:15. Σαρκίνης fleshly, indicates that the conditions of the Levitical priesthood had reference to the body. Fitness for office was determined largely by physical considerations. The priest must be of proper descent, without bodily blemish, ceremonially pure. See Hebrews 9:1-5, Hebrews 9:10, and comp. Romans 8:3. Such a priesthood cannot be eternal.

After the power of an endless life (κατὰ δύαναμιν ἀκαταλύτου)

Δύναμιν inherent virtue. Rend. for endless, indissoluble. Comp. καταλύθῃ loosened down, of a tent, 2 Corinthians 5:1; of the stones of the temple, Matthew 24:2. Jesus was high priest in virtue of the energy of indissoluble life which dwelt in him, unlike the priests who die, Hebrews 7:8. This truth the writer finds in the Psalm.

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