Online Bible Commentary
Hebrews 7:19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. 20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: 'You are a priest forever.' “ 22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. (NIV)
In the preceding passage, the writer of Hebrews, likely Paul, wrote of the need for the coming of Christ to earth. God wants perfection from His people. However, the Law of Moses failed to provide that perfection. The system of rules and regulations established in the Old Testament, especially the sacrificial system, failed to provide the perfection that God sought from His people.
So God sent His Son to be perfection. Through the perfection of Jesus Christ sinful man could be seen as perfect by God. The blood of Christ washed away all the sins of men, for those who would accept Him and His sacrifice.
So,” the law made nothing perfect” (v. 19a). A “better hope” (v. 19b), Christ, was “introduced” (v. 19c) by His coming. It is through this hope that we are able to be seen as perfect in the eyes of God, and are able to “draw near to God” (v. 19d). God never moves. We are the ones that move away from Him. He loves us and wants us to draw near to Him. The present tense of the Greek verb translated “draw near” means that this is continually possible. We are always able to draw nearer to God.
The literal translation of the Greek of verse twenty is: “And by how much not without oath-taking, those truly for without oath-taking are priests having become,”. The meaning is that those Levitical and Aaronic priests have been made priests and act as priests. Men were made priests because God chose the tribe of Levi to become priests. They did not become priests by an oath from God.
However, Christ “became a priest with an oath” (v. 21a). This oath can be found in Psalm 110:4: “The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." Melchizedek was made a priest “forever” by God in the days of the patriarchs, prior to the Law and the Levitical and Aaronic priesthoods. By this oath Christ, like Melchizedek, was also made a priest “forever”.
So, unlike the Levitical and Aaronic priesthood of men, Christ became a priest through an oath from God. God swore “and will not change his mind” (v. 21b). The Greek word translated “change his mind” is from the word meaning “to repent”. God will never repent, or turn from, the oath, the promise, He gave to Christ.
Also, “because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant” (v. 22). The priesthood of men was part of the old covenant, the covenant written of in the Old Testament. Now, with the coming of Christ, we have a new, better, covenant, that written of in the New Testament. Covenants and priesthoods stand, and fall, together. When the covenant of the Old Testament was replaced by the covenant of the New Testament, the Levitical and Aaronic priesthoods of the Old Testament were replaced by the priesthood of Christ. We no longer need to go though a human priest. We can go though Christ, the High Priest, who represents us before God, the Father.
Furthermore, God will not “change his mind” regarding this New Covenant. Christ is the “guarantee” (v. 22). The word translated “guarantee’ is the Greek word “engyos”, which means “guarantor or security”. The word was used in the papyri in legal and promissory documents to designate a guarantor, or one who stands security. Christ is our security that this new, and better covenant, will never change.
So God has made us a promise, the oath. This oath assures us that we have a High Priest forever who will represent us before God. We can go to our High Priest, Jesus, at any time with the knowledge and assurance that He will represent our interests before the Father. He is our lawyer. He speaks for us, much more effectively than we can speak for ourselves. He loves us and is always working for our good, in every situation. We would want no other to represent us. He is the best. He never loses a case.