Online Bible Commentary
The Superiority of Christ to the Priesthood
Hebrews 7:23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 26 Such a high priest meets our need--one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. (NIV)
This passage continues on the subject of the superiority of Christ. In past commentaries we have looked at the superiority of Christ to the prophets, the angels, mankind, Moses, and Joshua. In this passage we look at the superiority of Christ to the priesthood. He is superior to the priesthood in at least five ways.
First, Christ is superior to the priesthood because He has a permanent priesthood. The priesthood of men ends with their death (v. 23). There were “many” (v. 23a) priests of Israel. There were eighty-four high priests and many more lesser priests in the history of Israel. The office changed hands with each death. Continuity and uniformity was spotty at best.
Unlike those priesthoods of men, since Christ lives forever His priesthood is forever (v. 24). It is never subject to change or ineffectiveness, as was that of the priesthoods of men. Christ never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Secondly, Christ is superior to the priesthood because He is able to save completely. Because Christ lives forever “he is able to save completely those who come to God through him” (v. 25a). The literal Greek translation for this phrase is “from this And to save to perfection He is able the ones drawing near to Him through God,”. The meaning is that as we draw nearer to God we also draw nearer to Christ’s perfection. In other words, our high priest, Christ, saves us from the power of sin. He intercedes for us with the Father in Heaven.
The Greek word translated “intercede” (25b) was sometimes used of bringing a petition before a king on behalf of another. The present tense of the Greek verb indicates that this is a continual, or repeated, action. Christ is always interceding for us. He is our only high priest, our only intercessor. He is the only One who has the ear of the Father. Neither angels, nor saints, nor finite beings have that power to intercede with the Father. All men must be represented before the Father by a high priest. Christ is that high priest. He meets our every “need” (v. 26a).
Furthermore, Christ is superior to the priesthood because He is “holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens” (v. 26b). Human priests meet none of these qualifications.
Fourthly, Christ is superior to the priesthood because “he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day” (v. 27a), for his sins and “the sins of the people” (v. 27b). Christ is sinless, and He sacrificed “once for all” (v. 27c) on the cross. Sacrifices for sin are no longer required. The human priesthood is obsolete.
Finally, Christ is superior to the priesthood because He was appointed by an oath from God, and not from the law. The law appointed “men who are weak” (v. 28a). Also the oath “came after the law” (v. 28b). The oath replaced the law. The New Covenant of Christ replaced the Old Covenant, the law. The oath from God appointed Christ, who has been made “perfect forever” (v. 18c).
So, Christ is superior in all ways to the human priesthood. The writer of Hebrews is impressing upon the Hebrew Christians to whom he is writing that Christ is superior to all tenants of Judaism. He is encouraging them to endure in their Christian faith, and not to return to Judaism.
In the same way, Christ is superior to everything we encounter in our lives today. He is superior to all religions and ideologies. He is superior to all governments and heads of governments. He is superior to all challenges and problems in our lives. He is our high priest and we can go to Him with any problem we may have because he is superior to that problem. He is the solution to every problem in life.