poj'opug, i. e. Christians ; compare ch. iv. 1, 3, and 9.
To a/uEraSfrov rffe flovXfJQ avrov, the immutability of his purpose, or,
of his decree ; for the will of God is the decree of God.
opicy t interposed by an oath. Meffirevw means, according
COMMENTARY ON HEB. VI. 18. 385
to classical usage, to act the part of a mediator, to be an internuntius.
conciliator, between two parties. But here, this sense is impossible.
God is not a mediator between himself and the heirs of the promise.
The sense of interposing, then, becomes a necessary one. So the Vul-
gate, inter -posuit jusjurandum. He made a pecriTnv (so to speak) by an
oath, interposed between himself and the heirs of promise ; i. e. he
made an oath the means of removing all doubt or question, on their
part, whether he would faithfully perform what he had promised.
Ver. 18. "Iva dia Svo Trpay/iarwv .... Qeov, so that by two immutable
things, in regard to which it is impossible that God should prove faith-
less ; i. e. since men's doubts are removed by appeal to an oath, God, in
condescension to their weakness, has also made confirmation of his pro-
mises by an oath, so that there might be no possible ground of doubt.
But what are the two immutable things ? His promise and his oath,
answer almost all the commentators and critics. But there is room to
doubt the correctness of this interpretation. The apostle in the preced-
ing context has mentioned two oaths of God, which have respect to the
salvation of believers. The one is in the context immediately preceding,
ver. 13 ; which, in Gen xxii. 15 18, stands connected with the promise
of a blessing to all nations, (ver. 18,) through the seed of Abraham,
i. e. through the Messiah. The other is implied in Heb. iii. 11 ; where
the oath that unbelievers shall be excluded from the rest of God, implies,
of course, an assurance of the same nature, that believers shall be ad-
mitted to it ; compare ch. iv. 5, 6. Perhaps, however, the second oath
is that by which the Messiah is constituted a High-priest, after the order
of Melchisedek, Ps. ex. 4 ; and which had been twice adverted to by
the writer, in the preceding part of his epistle, ch. v. 6, 10. This would
best agree with the sequel, in ch. vi. 20, where the writer recurs to the
order of Christ's high-priesthood, and thus shows that it was at that
time in his mind. Here, then, are the two immutable things, in which
believers may confide ; viz. First, The oath that Abraham should have
a Son, (the Messiah,) in whom all nations should be blessed, Gen.
xxii. 18. Secondly, The oath that this Son should be High-priest for
ever, after the order of Melchisedek, Ps. ex. 4. These two oaths it is
impossible God should disregard ; and the salvation of believers, there-
fore, is adequately and surely provided for.
In this opinion, I find that Storr, for .substance, agrees.
On the other hand, to represent the promise and the oath to confirm
the same, as the two immutable things, seems to be inapposite ; for thtf
386 COMMENTARY ON HEB. VI. 18.
writer here states, that what is sworn to, even among men, must be
regarded as fixed or established. The more surely, what God has once
solemnly declared can never be annulled. The two things, then, which
are immutable, are the two different oaths, viz. that in Gen, xxii. 1518,
and that in Ps. ex. 4 ; to which the writer had repeatedly adverted.
'Iff-xypav 7rapa.K\r]fftv . . . \7rtoe, we, who have sought a refuge,
might have strong persuasion to hold fast the hope which is set before
us. That is, God has made adequate provision for the salvation of all
who prove faithful to the cause of Christ ; and he has secured it by
oaths, made at different times, and on diverse occasions. The certainty,
then, of obtaining the reward promised to fidelity, constitutes a pow-
erful motive to persevere, for all those who have sought a refuge from
the power and penalty of sin, in the religion of Jesus. Ilapa/cX^cri*/,
in the sense of comfort, consolation, is common in the New Testament ;
but, according to the classical use of the word, it means, excitement,
exhortation, persuasion, &c. This latter use of the word is common
also to the New Testament writers ; and in this sense I understand it,
in the verse before us. Consolation is not so appropriate to the writer's
object here, as excitement, (Anregung, Schneider.) persuasion.
'I(TX"pav means powerful, i. e. having great force, proffering strong
Ot KaratyvyovTes, we, who seek a refuge. Kara^cvyw means, to flee,
toward, to flee to, to flee under, viz. a place of refuge, an asylum ;
which latter is generally designated after the verb. But here, otKara^v-
yovree seems to be employed as a periphrasis, in order to designate
Christians who are seeking a refuge from sin and sorrow. In like man-
ner, o-w^o/itVove is employed in Acts ii. 47.
KparJ/ffcu, to hold fast, to take firm hold of, to grasp with tenacity,
Hebrews pTH. 'E\7rtoe, hope, here means the objects of hope, i. e.
the objects of Christian hope, for which Christians hope, or which they
expect; just as cTrayyeXm, above, means, the objects promised, the
things promised ; and so, often, in respect to many other words of a
similar nature. IIpoKct/zcVqc, proposed, set forth, is a word which was
employed in respect to the a$\ov or prize of victory, in the Grecian
games. This was said 9rpojcc7<r$<u, to be proposed or set before the com-
petitors. So, in our text, the object of hope, viz. future happiness
and glory, deliverance from sin and sorrow, is set before all Chris-
tians, who are caro</>vyoure, seeking a refuge from their guilt and
miseries. And the repeated oath of God assures them, that such a
COMMENTARY ON HEB. VI. 19. 387
refuge is to be found, and also affords a powerful excitement to
Ver. 19. "Hv we ayKvpav . . . jSf/Scu'aj/, which we have as an anchor
of the soul unfailing and firmly fixed ; i. e. which hope we are in
possession of, eloper, and it will prove to us, in our troubles and dis-
tresses, what an anchor of 'sound materials and firmly fixed will be to
a ship in a tempest ; i. e. it will keep us from " making shipwreck of
the faith." Many commentators refer r/v to Trapa/cX^o-tv ; but it seems
to me quite contrary to the manifest object of the passage. Hope is
often represented under the emblem of an anchor, among the heathen
writers. 'Ao^aXry means, that which will not fail, i. e. like an anchor
of good materials, which will not give way. Eej3aiap means firmly
fixed, i. e. having a tenacious hold, which cannot be slipped.
Keu elaep^o^ivYiv . . . KarmreTaffparoQ, and which enters into that
within the veil, i. e. which hope enters into the inner sanctuary, the
sanctum sanctorum, where God dwells. Others refer elffepxo^evrjv, to
ayKvpar. The meaning, as I explain the passage, is, that the objects
of hope are in heaven, where God dwells. The apartment within the
veil of the temple at Jerusalem, was that in which the ark of the cove-
nant was placed, and also the cherubim that shadowed the mercy-seat.
There the glory of God appeared. This inner sanctuary was an emblem
of heaven ; see Heb. ix. 1 11.23; x. 1. The phrase eo-wrepov rov
KaraTreTCKTjjiaToc, here designates an image of heaven.
The sentiment of the writer, then, is as follows : " Hold fast the
objects of your Christian hope. These will keep you steady in adher-
ence to your holy religion, and preserve you, like an anchor, from
making shipwreck of the faith. These objects of hope are heavenly in
their nature, >/ e\7rtc .... elffspxpplvri tig TO (.awrepov rov
Consequently, these objects are immutable, and so a
like a good anchor."
"O?rov Trpo^popog .... 'lr]<rov, whither Jesus our precursor has gone,
on our account. ITpoc)po/xoe .... eto-j/XSev, I take to mean simply, that
Jesus has first led the way into the heavenly sanctuary. So ^Eschylus,
Her. ad Theb. v. 217, Trpofyojuoe ?i\$e, i. q. -n-pofjXSe. Theodoret makes
an appropriate remark on this passage. " The writer designs to increase
their confidence by calling Jesus irpo^popog ; for if he is their precursor,
and has gone thither on their account, then ought Christians to follow
after him, so as to attain the end of their course, Theod. in loc."
The expression in the latter part of ver. 19, tlffepxoplvn SIQ r6
388 COMMENTARY ON HEB. VII. 1.
row KaraTTtraoy-iaroe, seems to have been purposely chosen as a periphra-
sis of the heavenly sanctuary, in order to direct the minds of the
Hebrews to the priesthood of Christ ; of which the writer now proceeds
to treat, after having suspended the consideration of it from ch. v. 11,
to ch. vi. 19, in order to introduce matter of warning and encourage-
ment. It was lawful for the high priest only to enter, through the veil,
into the inner sanctuary. So Jesus, as high-priest of the new dispen-
sation, entered the eternal sanctuary above, making expiation of per-
petual efficacy for sinners, Heb. ix. 11, 12, 2226.
Having just reproved them for the little progress which they had made in Christian
knowledge, ch. v. 11. ch. vi. 3 ; warned them against the dreadful consequences of
abandoning the Christian religion, ch. vi. 4 8 : and encouraged them to hold fast
their faith and hope even to the end, as they had the example of Abraham, and the
oath of God io assure them of an adequate reward, ch. vi. 9 19 ; the writer now
returns to make the comparison of Christ as high-priest, with Melchisedek, whose
name, in connexion with that of Christ, had been already more than once introduced,
ch. v. 6, and 10. This subject he pursues to the end of ch. vii. 25 ; where he resumes
the topic broken off at ch. v. 10, and completes what he had to say concerning it,
ch. vii. 26 28.
Ver. 1 . OVTOQ yap 6 Me\x^e^f , now this Melchisedek, i. e. the Melchi-
sedek whom I have already named.
BaatXevc SaX^/i. Nearly all the Greek and Latin fathers held this
place to be the same as Jerusalem. So Ps. Ixxvi. 2, [3.] " In Salem
is his tabernacle." Compare Gen. xiv. 18. The 2u\ju, mentioned in
John iii. 23, was probably a different place from that which our text
names ; if, indeed, SaX^ is meant by our author to designate a place at
all. Is it not rather an appellative ? See the writer's own interpre-
tation, ver. 2.
'lepevg rov Qeov rov vif/ttrrov, Hebrew flvjy 7^7 IPO, Gen. xiv. 18.
It was common, among the ancients, for a king to be priest also ; thus
uniting the two highest honours among men, in his own person. The
Jewish kings did not do thus, so long as the race of David was upon the
throne ; because the priesthood was confined to the tribe of Levi. But
the Maccabees did it; Joseph. Antiq. XIII. 19, compare Mace, in the
COMMENTARY ON HEB. VII. 2, 3. 389
Apocrypha. Among foreign nations, this was very common. In refer-
ence to this double honour, Peter calls Christians fiaffiXeiov IfpaTevpa,
1 Pet. ii. 9 ; and John, in Rev. i. 6, says, that Christ has made for his
followers a fiacriXeiav, and constituted them ispeig TW QE<J>.
How highly the Jews of the apostle's day estimated the honour of
priesthood, may be seen from Philo ; who says, " The law of kingly
office applies to priests eiQ o^juj/or^ra KOL Tip.riv, in regard to dignity
and honour, de Legat. ad Caium, p. 832." In the same book, he
represents the Jewish people as regarding " the high priesthood to be
as much above the kingly office, as God is more exalted than men."
All this serves to show, that the apostle, by exhibiting and proving the
priesthood of Christ, not only pointed out the way in which pardon of
sin had been effected, but also contributed much towards causing the
Messiah to be honoured, in the view of the Hebrews.
In calling Melchisedek a priest of the most high God, the scrip-
ture designs to exhibit him as a true priest of the true God, maker and
lord of heaven and earth, Gen. xiv. 19, 22.
'O crvvai'Ttiffag . . . evXoyfjcrag CLVTOV, who met Abraham returning
from the slaughter of the [confederate] kings, and blessed him ; see
Gen. xiv. 1720.
Ver. 2. *Q teal ^EKCLT^V . . . 'A/3paa/i, to whom also Abraham gave
a tenth part of all, viz. a tenth airo iravTuv T&V aKpoStriuv, of all
the spoils (see ver. 4,) which he had taken from the confederate kings
whom he had discomfited, Gen. xiv. 14 16.20. Aemr?/v agrees with
TTpwrov pev ippevevopevog, (3a<rt\evg SiKaioffvvr)Q, by interpretation,
[his name] means, first, righteous king. Bao-tXevg SiKatoffvvrje resem-
bles the formulas, God of mercy, God of glory, fyc. instead of merciful
God, glorious God, &c. which are common indeed in all languages,
but more especially in the Hebrew. In fact, the sense put upon /3a<n-
XevsSiKaioffvvrje, in the translation, is the only one that can be put upon
it ; for what is a king of righteousness, in any other sense ? The
phrase, king of a nation or people, or of living beings, we understand ;
but what a king of an abstract existence is, which belongs solely to
mental conception, it would be difficult ta understand.
"ETi-fira dc cat /SatrtXcuc . . . elpnvrjg^and then he is a king of Salem,
which means, king of peace.
Ver. 3. 'ATrdrwp, dpjrwp, having neither father nor mother, i. e. re-
corded in the sacred genealogies ; or, perhaps, whose father and mother
390 COMMENTARY ON HEB. VII. 3.
were not of kingly rank. These words were applied literally, by the
Greeks, to some of their gods ; then figuratively, to those who were
orphans, and to those whose parents were obscure and of low origin.
Thus Livy, IV. 3, nullo patre natus," respecting a person of ignoble
descent. So Horace, Serm. I. 6. 10, " nullis majoribus natos." Philo
calls Sarah, apriropa, probably, because her mother is not mentioned
in the sacred records. And in such a sense, the apostle appears to
call Melchisedek, aTrarup and a/i//rwp. The explanation of these terms
is to be found, (as one will easily believe,) in the word ayevfoXoynTog,
without any genealogy, viz. of whose genealogy no mention is made in
The Arabians say of a man, who has by his own efforts procured
an exalted place of honour, and who is descended from ignoble
parents, A! Lf LJ he has no father, i. e. he is not named from his
father, or derives not his titles and honours from his father. Michaelis
prefers the explanation which this idiom would afford, in respect to the
passage under examination. But the other seems preferable, on account
of the explanation which the writer himself has made, by adding, ayeve-
a\6yr)Tog. See Schleusner and Wahl, on a-rraTwp and ap/rwp.
Mr/re apx } )v X WV having neither beginning of days, nor end
of life, i. e. either, " Whose time of birth or death is not related ;" or
rather, " Who, as a high priest, has no limited time assigned for the
commencement and expiration of his office :" for so the Levitical clause
leads us to interpret this expression. The Levitical priests were limited
in their service; see Numb. iv. 3. 23. 35. 43. 47. (compare Numb. viii.
24, 25.) Zcjfjg, according to the latter mode of interpretation, refers
to the life of Melchisedek as priest, i. e. the time of his priesthood.
Zw>/ is often equivalent in sense to Kaipog faijg, the season or time
which one lives. The meaning of the writer then is, that Melchisedek's
priesthood was limited to no definite time, i. e. he was sacerdos per-
petuus, a priest without limitation of office. So the Latins say, Dicta-
tor perpetuus, &c.
'A^x^ioiwjutVoc 3e .... c)tr)rKg, being like to the Son of God, remain-
eth a priest perpetually. The sacred writer, in Ps. ex. 4, says of the
Messiah, that he is D/Ty? ](13 Septuagint, iepevg tig ruv alwva, i. q.
iig TO StrjvtKeg ; and then adds, " after the order of Melchisedek."
First, then, Christ is asserted by the Psalmist to be a perpetual priest ;
aud next, to confirm or explain this assertion, it is added, that he is so,
according to the order of Melchisedek. The implication is, of course,
COMMENTARY ON HEB. VII. 3. 391
that Melchisedek is perpetual priest ; for this is a special point of the
comparison. The apostle means to say, in our text, that inasmuch as
Melchisedek is understood to have a perpetual priesthood, and since the
priesthood of the Son of God is affirmed, in the hundred-and-tenth
Psalm, to be like his ; so it follows, of course, that the priesthood of
Christ is understood to be perpetual, or that Melchisedek, in regard to
his priesthood, was like to, or could be compared with, the Son of God.
In resp'ect to the object of this assertion, I apprehend nothing more
is intended, than that the priesthood of Christ and Melchisedek was not,
like that of the sons of Aaron, limited to any definite period. In the
absolute sense, e TO Striveicec; clearly is not to be understood. Melchise-
dek's priesthood terminated with his life ; so Christ's priestly and kingly
office both will cease, when the work of redemption n fully accomplished,
1 Cor. xv. 24 28. But in neither case is there any statute, which
limits the specific time of accession to office, and of egress from it. Of
course, the order of Christ's priesthood, and that of Melchisedek, dif-
fered greatly in this respect from that of the sons of Aaron, and was,
as the writer goes on to declare, greatly superior to it. Dictator per-
petuus among the Romans, for example, was surely a higher, or at least,
a more honorable office, than that of ordinary dictator !
Our English version of a^wyuotw/ieVoe, made like to, does not seem to
give the true sense of the passage. The apostle is not labouring to show
that Melchisedek, in respect to his priesthood, was made like to Christ ;
but vice versa. He is seeking to illustrate and establish the perpetuity
of Christ's priesthood, by comparing it with the well-known priesthood
of Melchisedek. Hence, to say that Melchisedek was made like to the
Son of God, is a vartpov irporepov ; for Ps. xc. 4, compares the Son of
God as priest, to Melchisedek. This, too, is the order of nature and
propriety ; for the priesthood of Melchisedek preceded that of Christ ;
it was something with which the Hebrews were already acquainted, inas-
much as their Scriptures had repeatedly spoken of it. Of course, the
apostle, in aiming to illustrate and establish the priesthood of Christ,
(a priesthood that was recent, and not well understood by the Hebrews,)
would very naturally pursue the method of comparison offered to his
view in Ps. ex. 4, i. e. a comparison of Christ's priesthood to that of
MelchiseJsk. 'A^wjuoiwjueVog means then, not made like to, but like to,
possibly, likened to, i. e. being compared to.
The whole passage, from 6 <ruva^r//<rac in ver. 1 , to r vly row Qeov, in
ver 3, is plainly a parenthetic explanation, (a very common occurrence
392 COMMENTARY ON HEB. VII. 4.
in the writings of Paul,) thrown in for the sake of suggesting to the
reader's mind some considerations respecting the character and dignity
of Melchisedek, which would be very very useful, in regard to a right
understanding of the comparison that was to be made out in the sequel,
OVTOG yap 6 MtXxifcdcK, &c. in ver, 1, is the immediate nominative to
pevet iepevs etc ro StJjve/cec, in ver. 3. The construction of the whole
sentence is thus ; " This Melchisedek, king of Salem, priest . . . (who
met Abraham . . . and blessed him . . . whose name means, first,
righteous king, and secondly, peaceful king ... of a descent no
where recorded, having a priestly office not limited, and being in respect
to his priesthood like to the Son of God,) is a perpetual priest." If it
be objected, that the participles EpjjLevevopevoQ, X WV anc ^ atyupoiwpevos
have not, like awnvrnaaq, the article before them, and therefore cannot
be arranged in such a construction ; the answer is, that nouns, parti-
ciples, and adjectives, put in apposition, either take or omit the article,
at the pleasure of the writer. E. g. 6 HeX^cc^ flaatXevg ....
tepevg, in apposition. Then 6 avvavriiaas . . . ei/Xoyr/o-ag . . . epjue-
vevofjievos . . . fi7ra.T(i)p, ayuiyrwp ayeveaXoy^roc . . . i%wv . . . a^amoiw-
fievoe all in apposition with 6 awavr^o-ac ; a mode of using adjectives
and participles by no means unusual. See Gersdorf, Beitrage, &c.
Th. V. Ueber die Stellung der Adjectiven, &c. In the translation, I
have, for the sake of perspicuity, broken up the involved construction of
the original, and made several simple sentences. See EXCURSUS XIII.
Ver. 4. Qfwpetre Se . . . Trarpiap^/je, consider now how great a per-
sonage this must be, to whom the patriarch Abraham gave a tithe of
the spoils. Ge'wpelrc, see, perceive, consider. YlnXtKOQ, of what exalted
rank. 'AKpoSiviwv, in its literal sense, means, summitas acervi frumenti t
the top part of a heap of grain. It was usual to offer the primitia
or first fruits to God. But as offerings were made to their gods, by
the Greeks, from spoils taken in war, cucpoSivia came at last to signify
in the Greek language, any kind of spoils, from which an offering for
the gods was taken. The Latins called such offerings, manubice. The
word aKpoSivlwv has the general sense of spoils here, and evidently
refers to the spoils which Abraham had taken from the confederate
kin-rs, Gen. xiv. 16.
The object of the apostle, in mentioning the circumstance here ad-
verted to, plainly is, to exalt the dignity of Melchisedek. The high reve-
rence which the Jews had for Abraham is well known. If now it could
be shown to the Hebrews, that Melchisedek was superior to Abraham,
COMMENTARY ON HEB. VII. ,5. 393
then the superiority of Christ, who is like to Melchisedek, is also
shown. Moreover, since the patriarch or head of a nation was reck-
oned in the East as excelling in dignity all his descendants ; so, if
Melchisedek's dignity exceeded that of Abraham; it would follow,
that it exceeded that of all his descendants among whom were the
Levitical priests. It is for the sake of establishing this last point, that
the comparison of Melchisedek with Abraham is introduced in ver. 4 ;
as the sequel plainly shows. This being established, it would follow,
that Christ's priesthood, (which was like that of Melchisedek,) was
superior to the Aaronical priesthood ; which is the point that the writer
designs to illustrate and establish.
Ver 5. Kcu ot p.ev , . . Xa^avovreg, moreover, the sons of Levi,
who obtain the office of the priesthood, i. e. who are constituted priests.
All the sons of Levi were not properly priests ; but only the descend-
ants of Aaron. Hence, the writer adds, TIJV iepareiav Xaju/3avovrt,\ It
was true, indeed, that the whole tribe of Levi had a right to tithes ;
Numb, xviii. 28 30 ; Deut. xiv. 22. 2729. But it is not material
to the writer's object here, to mention this. He is concerned merely
with the priests ; who, as descendants of Levi, were of course entitled
to tithes. If he could show that the priests, the most honoured part
of the Levites, who were legally entitled to receive tithes from the other
descendants of Abraham, were still inferior to Melchisedek ; then would
he show that the priesthood of Christ was of an order superior to theirs.
The payment of tithes is an acknowledgment of superiority, in regard to
the rank of the person who receives them. If Abraham, then, paid tithes
to Melchisedek, he acknowledged him as superior in respect to rank.
'EvroXfjv t"xpv(nv .... vofjior, have, by the law, a commission to tithe
the people. See the passages of the law just referred to. 'EvroX^v,
direction, mandate, a precept that gives liberty or confers a right to do
TOVT 'iffTL .... 'A/3pact//, that is, their own brethren, although descend-
ants from Abraham. 'E&XrjXu^orae EK n/e or0wc, a Hebraistic mode
of expression ; e. g. Gen. xxxv. 11, kings W& "^p^/HD ; Gen. xlvi. 26,
to"!** ''N^'*, Ex. i. 5, et al. The Greeks used yewaffSai VTTO TLVOQ, in
such cases. The meaning of the passage is, the priests of the tribe of
Levi, although descended in common with the other tribes from Abra-
ham, yet have been elevated to a rank above them, and receive the
tribute of acknowledged elevation, in the tithes which are paid them by
394 COMMENTARY ON HEB. VII. 6, 7.
But why should the elevation of the priests above their brethren be
introduced here ? I answer, in order to show that the most honored
part of the sons of Levi, the most honored tribe, were of a rank inferior
to Melchisedek ; consequently, their priesthood was of an order inferior
to that of Christ.
Ver. 6, 'O Se pf) yevcaXoyow/^voc ! O.VT&V, but he whose descent is not
reckoned from them; a periphrasis, by which Melchisedek is described,