2. Christ's high priestly sacrifice enables us to approach God, 7:1-10:25
i] Abraham's submission to Melchizedek
THESE NOTES AWAIT COMPLETIONArgument
i] Context: See 2:10-18. As can be noted from the outlined structure of Hebrews in the Introduction, a second series of arguments begins in 7:1 running through to 10:39, with the final verses, 10:19-39, made up of a summary conclusion / peroratio, v19-25, and a digression / digressio, v26-39, serving as an admonition / exhortation. In this series of arguments our author seeks to establish that Christ's once and for all, complete and effective sacrifice as our great high priest, assures our right of approach to God and thus guarantees our perseverance in the faith. Koester summarizes the central argument carried in these chapters as "Jesus' suffering is the sacrifice that enables others to approach God." Our author progresses this argument by showing that Jesus is indeed the priest spoken of in Psalm 110:4, "a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." This fact is driven home by comparing Christ's priesthood with that of the Levitical order, comparing the renewed covenant under Christ with the religion of old Israel. Whereas Israel's cult has failed to realize the promises of the covenant, Christ, in his death, resurrection, ascension and enthronement. has fully realized God's plans for his people.
Koester suggests that Christ's priestly ministry, covering 7:1-10:18, can be divided into two sections:
7:1-28. Christ is a priest after the type of Melchizedek:
7:1-10. Abraham's submission and recognition of Melchizedek provides the basis for the argument in v11-28.
7:11-28. Christ's priesthood is superior to the Levitical priesthood / cult and to the Mosaic law.
8:1-10:18. Christ, as a superior priest, after the order of Melchizedek, offered an acceptable sacrifice in his death, a sacrifice that perfectly atoned for sins and thus permanently renewed the covenant. The argument is repetitive such that a formal structure is somewhat illusive. None-the-less, Koester's suggestion is worth following, although note Attridge, Ellingworth and Lane:
Jesus' ministry compared to Levitical ministry, 8:1-6;
The promise of the new covenant, 8:7-13.
Jesus' ministry compared to Levitical ministry, 9:1-14;
The making of the new covenant, 9:15-28.
Jesus' ministry compared to Levitical sacrifices, 10:1-10;
Jesus' sacrifice and the new covenant, 10:11-18.
ii] Background: A general introduction; See 1:1-4.
iii] Structure: This passage, Melchizedek, Christ, and the Levitical Priests, presents as follows:
Text - 7:1