Useful Bible Studies > Hebrews Commentary > chapter 7

Two kinds of priests

Hebrews 7:5-6

The author of the Book of Hebrews is writing about two different kinds of priests. There were the priests who came from the tribe (family) of Levi (Hebrews 7:5). And there was Melchizedek, who was a different kind of priest (Hebrews 7:6).

Most modern readers would only know about the first of these. Israelís priests all came from the family of Aaron, which was part of the tribe of Levi. Other members of the tribe of Levi (called Levites) assisted them in their duties.

God told Moses to establish these priests. And the first priests were Mosesí brother Aaron, and his sons. Afterwards, all Israelís priests came from that family. Some famous priests include Ezekiel, Eli, Annas and Caiaphas. Zechariah and his son John (usually called John the Baptist) also belonged to this family.

God provided for the priests and Levites who served him by means of the tithe. Everyone in Israel gave a tithe (a tenth or 10% of their income). This became a tax in Israel. People from every tribe in Israel paid it to the Levites. And the Levites paid their own tithe to the priests.

All Israelís tribes had come from the family of Abraham. So the people who paid the tithe were from Abrahamís family. And the priests who received it were also from Abrahamís family.

But Melchizedek was a different kind of priest. He was more ancient than them. And he was greater than they were. Even Abraham recognised how great Melchizedek was. Israelís priests all came from Abrahamís family. But when Abraham paid his own tithe, he paid it to Melchizedek.

It was to Abraham that God made his promises. By means of Abrahamís family, God would show his kindness to people from every nation (Genesis 12:3). Usually, God himself declared these things to Abraham (Genesis 12:1; Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:14-15; Genesis 15:1; Genesis 17:1-2; Genesis 22:16-18). But on one occasion, this priest, Melchizedek, spoke on Godís behalf (Genesis 14:18-20). Melchizedek blessed Abraham.

We only know about two members of Melchizedekís group of priests. They are Melchizedek himself, and Christ. Melchizedekís work as a priest helps us to understand the greatness of Christís work as our priest.

Melchizedek blessed Abraham, who received Godís promises. And Christ blesses us, if we accept Godís promises.

Abraham gave honour to Melchizedek when Abraham recognised him as a priest. And we give honour to Christ if we accept him as our priest.

Next part: The blessings in Genesis (Hebrews 7:7)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.