5 For every high priest is taken from among the people 1 and appointed 2 to represent them before God, 3 to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal compassionately with those who are ignorant and erring, since he also is subject to weakness, 3 and for this reason he is obligated to make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people. 4 And no one assumes this honor 4 on his own initiative, 5 but only when called to it by God, 6 as in fact Aaron was. 5 So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming high priest, but the one who glorified him was God, 7 who said to him, “You are my Son! Today I have fathered you,” 8 6 as also in another place God 9 says, “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” 10 7 During his earthly life 11 Christ 12 offered 13 both requests and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death and he was heard because of his devotion. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through the things he suffered. 14 9 And by being perfected in this way, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 and he was designated 15 by God as high priest in the order of Melchizedek. 16
The Need to Move on to Maturity
11 On this topic we have much to say 17 and it is difficult to explain, since you have become sluggish 18 in hearing. 12 For though you should in fact be teachers by this time, 19 you need someone to teach you the beginning elements of God’s utterances. 20 You have gone back to needing 21 milk, not 22 solid food. 13 For everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced in the message of righteousness, because he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, whose perceptions are trained by practice to discern both good and evil.
6 Therefore we must progress beyond 1 the elementary 2 instructions about Christ 3 and move on 4 to maturity, not laying this foundation again: repentance from dead works and faith in God, 2 teaching about baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this is what we intend to do, 5 if God permits. 4 For it is impossible in the case of those who have once been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 tasted the good word of God and the miracles of the coming age, 6 and then have committed apostasy, 6 to renew them again to repentance, since 7 they are crucifying the Son of God for themselves all over again 8 and holding him up to contempt. 7 For the ground that has soaked up the rain that frequently falls on 9 it and yields useful vegetation for those who tend it receives a blessing from God. 8 But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is useless and about to be cursed; 10 its fate is to be burned. 9 But in your case, dear friends, even though we speak like this, we are convinced of better things relating to salvation. 10 For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name, in having served and continuing to serve the saints. 11 But we passionately want each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of your hope until the end, 12 so that you may not be sluggish, 11 but imitators of those who through faith and perseverance inherit the promises.
13 Now when God made his promise to Abraham, since he could swear by no one greater, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “Surely I will bless you greatly and multiply your descendants abundantly.” 12 15 And so by persevering, Abraham 13 inherited the promise. 16 For people 14 swear by something greater than themselves, 15 and the oath serves as a confirmation to end all dispute. 16 17 In the same way 17 God wanted to demonstrate more clearly to the heirs of the promise that his purpose was unchangeable, 18 and so he intervened with an oath, 18 so that we who have found refuge in him 19 may find strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us through two unchangeable things, since it is impossible for God to lie. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and steadfast, which reaches inside behind the curtain, 20 20 where Jesus our forerunner entered on our behalf, since he became a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. 21
The Nature of Melchizedek’s Priesthood
7 Now this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, met Abraham as he was returning from defeating the kings and blessed him. 1 2 To him 2 also Abraham apportioned a tithe 3 of everything. 4 His name first means 5 king of righteousness, then king of Salem, that is, king of peace. 3 Without father, without mother, without genealogy, he has neither beginning of days nor end of life but is like the son of God, and he remains a priest for all time. 4 But see how great he must be, if 6 Abraham the patriarch gave him a tithe 7 of his plunder. 5 And those of the sons of Levi who receive the priestly office 8 have authorization according to the law to collect a tithe from the people, that is, from their fellow countrymen, 9 although they too are descendants of Abraham. 10 6 But Melchizedek 11 who does not share their ancestry 12 collected a tithe 13 from Abraham and blessed 14 the one who possessed the promise. 7 Now without dispute the inferior is blessed by the superior, 8 and in one case tithes are received by mortal men, while in the other by him who is affirmed to be alive. 9 And it could be said that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid a tithe through Abraham. 10 For he was still in his ancestor Abraham’s loins 15 when Melchizedek met him.
Jesus and the Priesthood of Melchizedek
11 So if perfection had in fact been possible through the Levitical priesthood – for on that basis 16 the people received the law – what further need would there have been for another priest to arise, said to be in the order of Melchizedek and not in Aaron’s order? 12 For when the priesthood changes, a change in the law must come 17 as well. 13 Yet the one these things are spoken about belongs to 18 a different tribe, and no one from that tribe 19 has ever officiated at the altar. 14 For it is clear that our Lord is descended from Judah, yet Moses said nothing about priests in connection with that tribe. 15 And this is even clearer if another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become a priest not by a legal regulation about physical descent 20 but by the power of an indestructible life. 17 For here is the testimony about him: 21 “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” 22 18 On the one hand a former command is set aside 23 because it is weak and useless, 24 19 for the law made nothing perfect. On the other hand a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. 20 And since 25 this was not done without a sworn affirmation – for the others have become priests without a sworn affirmation, 21 but Jesus 26 did so 27 with a sworn affirmation by the one who said to him, “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever’” 28 – 22 accordingly Jesus has become the guarantee 29 of a better covenant. 23 And the others 30 who became priests were numerous, because death prevented them 31 from continuing in office, 32 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently since he lives forever. 25 So he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 26 For it is indeed fitting for us to have such a high priest: holy, innocent, undefiled, separate from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need to do every day what those priests do, to offer sacrifices first for their own sins and then for the sins of the people, since he did this in offering himself once for all. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men subject to weakness, 33 but the word of solemn affirmation that came after the law appoints a son made perfect forever.