“Now if perfection was by the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron?”
Perfection is the Greek word “teleiosis” meaning the act or process of completion. Bible commentators are inclined to relate this phrase to eternal salvation, and this is where everyone has gone off base. Salvation is not a process, salvation is instantaneous. The moment you believe in Jesus Christ you’re saved, you receive 40 spiritual assets, immediately. Furthermore, under the ministry of the Levitical priesthood millions of people were saved, so obviously it is not talking about salvation. The Levitical priesthood not only brought people to salvation and justification but through the teaching of the Canon of Scripture that they had at the time, helped many of these believers reach spiritual maturity. Therefore, the process of completion must have another meaning that is in keeping with the context. And it does.
Perfection means a process of completion, and it refers to the completion of the body of Christ (believers) over a period of time. The period of time is the Church Age. The issue between the Levitical priesthood and the royal priesthood completing the body of Christ is found in Colossians 2:16-17. The Levitical priesthood could not provide a body for Christ. The body which belongs to Christ is the royal priesthood of the Church Age. And, a royal high priest must have a royal priesthood in order for him to function. Jesus Christ needed a royal priesthood.
After Christ was brought down from the Cross it was still the Age of Israel. The Levitical priesthood could do nothing to provide a priesthood for Jesus Christ. They could not bring to completion a priesthood for Jesus Christ. Why? Christ’s priesthood was not based on physical birth. He was not from the tribe of Levi. He was from the tribe of Judah. Therefore, God introduced the Church Age interrupting for a time the Age of Israel in order to fulfill the process of completion. The Church Age was designed by God the Father to complete His Royal High Priest’s priesthood. Therefore, the Church is called the body of Christ. Christ is royalty, and His priesthood, the body of Christ, is royalty.
A change in priesthood also demanded a change in authorizing agency. Since the process of completion could not be produced by the Levitical priesthood, it could not be produced by the authorizing agent of the Levitical priesthood, the Mosaic Law. We are not under the Levitical priesthood and we are not under the Mosaic Law. They both stand together. If therefore a process of completion [of the body of Christ] could be produced through the Levitical priesthood [2nd class condition: but it couldn’t], what further need was there for a different order of priests to be activated – one like the order of Melchizedek instead of the order of Aaron? Why not use Aaron’s order since it was already in place? Remember that Jesus Christ is not only a priest, He is also a King. The kingly line was from the tribe of Judah, not Levi. So Christ was born a king and appointed (in eternity past) as a priest. The analogy of Melchizedek as a type of Christ is therefore perfect. So, we have the deactivation of the Levitical priesthood, and the Mosaic Law and the activation of Christ’s priesthood.
“For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of the law also.”
A change of priesthood meant a change in the authorizing agent. The dramatic interruption of the Jewish dispensation terminated the Levitical priesthood and its authorizing agent, the Mosaic Law. The Greek word for change is “metathesis,” which refers to a change in the authorizing agent. It indicates that the authorizing agent for the priesthood is changed. The Mosaic Law could not be an authorizing agent for the royal family because it authorized priests based on physical birth from the tribe of Levi.
A new authorizing agency replaced the Mosaic Law which authorizes priests based on their union with Jesus Christ (the new birth). Therefore, Christ is the end of the Mosaic Law for believers of the Church Age. (Romans 10:4) The eternal decrees of God authorized a royal priesthood, which began at Pentecost (50 days after Christ arose and 10 days after He ascended), the day the Church Age began. The royal priesthood is eternal.
While God the Holy Spirit regenerated every person who believed in Christ during the course of human history, only in this dispensation does God the Holy Spirit baptize every believer into union with Christ, making them members of the royal family and royal priests, forever. The new law that authorizes the royal priesthood of the believer is the Law of Christ (a law of grace). (Romans 8:2-4)
“For the One concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life.”
This is a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ, the royal high priest. Jesus Christ was born a King through the line of David. Melchizedek became a king by conquest, he was not born a king, and he didn’t inherit a kingdom. Salem is also a city whose ruler is high priest, so Melchizedek was the king of Salem and the high priest of Salem. Christ became a king by birth and was appointed a priest in eternity past in the doctrine of divine decrees. As a member of the tribe of Judah, Christ was not authorized by the Mosaic Law, which was written by Moses, to officiate at the altar in the Temple. Only those who were born into the family of Levi were qualified to potentially serve as priests in Israel. Christ lived under the Law of Moses.
Melchizedek was a king-priest; Jesus Christ is a king-priest. Melchizedek acquired rulership and priesthood by conquest; Jesus Christ received kingship by birth and He received the priesthood by the divine decrees (an oath from God) in eternity past. Melchizedek is a pattern only. He became a king by conquest, he became a high priest by appointment, and all of this is accomplished as a pattern. Jesus Christ was born a king; He was the high priest by decree. Melchizedek became a king by conquest and his genealogy had nothing to do with it. Jesus Christ is a king-priest by birth. We are royal family forever, not by physical birth, not by ability, not by any relation except the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Note that this passage distinguishes between a person, Melchizedek and a Person, Jesus Christ.
Christ’s indestructible life is described in the next verse as eternal life or forever life. Therefore, a priesthood which possesses only physical requirements is terminated by physical death. But a priesthood which is related to eternal life can be entered only by regeneration and never is destroyed by death. So not only is the royal priesthood of the Church Age a superior priesthood of nobility in the royal family but it lasts forever.
“For it was witnessed of Him, ‘Thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.’”
The documentation for the royal priesthood is given in verse 17. This documentation relates Christ our High Priest to us and is not part of the Mosaic Law. The documentation is taken from the divine decrees and is quoted in Psalm 110:4. The key words are “a priest forever” because the Levitical priests were not priests forever. This emphasizes and documents the eternal nature of the royal priesthood. Christ as the God-Man lives forever. We as believers, members of the family of God by faith in Christ, live forever in union with Christ.
For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment, because of its weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.”
Now we have a contrast of authorizing agencies: 1) the Law of Moses which authorized the Levitical priesthood and 2) the Law of Christ which authorizes the royal priesthood. Superiority of the Law of Christ was demonstrated by an historical encounter. Superiority of the Law of Christ was demonstrated by the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ as King and His appointment from the divine decrees as High Priest.
The former commandment refers to the Mosaic Law as the authorizing agent for the Levitical priesthood. The Levitical priests were appointed on the basis of what was contained in the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law however was annulled, and therefore there is no basis for the continuation of the Levitical priesthood. People who were in the Levitical line in 67 A.D. in Jerusalem did not legitimately function as priests unless they were believers in Jesus Christ, at which point they were no longer “Israel” but the Church. The same is true today.
The interruption of the Age of Israel annulled two things: the Levitical priesthood and its authorizing agent, the Mosaic Law. The reason for the setting aside of the Mosaic Law is described in the prepositional phrase, “for the weakness,” which means powerlessness. The powerlessness of the Mosaic Law when followed by these believers in Jerusalem was the fact that it continued to authorize an obsolete priesthood. The Mosaic Law is still in the Canon of Scripture and always will be, but it is not functioning today. The priesthood that it authorized has been set aside for another priesthood. Therefore the Mosaic Law is powerless.
We do not live under the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law authorized Levitical sacrifices. We need to know about those sacrifices because they are beautiful illustrations and often they help to illustrate the work of Christ on the Cross. But we do not offer those sacrifices because the Mosaic Law is powerless. The annulment of the Mosaic Law as an authorizing agent is just as absolute as the putting away of sin at the Cross. (Hebrews 9:26) The insertion of the Church Age makes the Law useless.
For the Law made nothing perfect, uses the same Greek word as perfection in verse 11, “teleiosis,” meaning the process of completion. It means that Christ at the time of the Cross, all the way through to His ascension, was without a priesthood. So ten days later God provided one for Him, but the provision of that priesthood takes the entire course of the Church Age. The point is the process of completing the priesthood demands the permanent creation of a royal family, and you and I as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are royalty forever by means of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Regeneration enters you into the family of God but the baptism of the Holy Spirit enters you into the palace of the family of God — royal family. We are in union with the Person of Christ through the baptism of the Spirit.
Now we have the second half of the contrast of authorizing agents. On the other hand, we have the bringing in of a better hope. Hope in the Bible means full confidence. Or in this case a better confidence. The better confidence is your confidence. What is your confidence? The moment you believed in Christ you entered the royal family. You are nobility forever and you are a member of the royal family forever. There never was such a thing before in history even in the order of Melchizedek, a royal high priest. He is dead and his priesthood is ended. Melchizedek will be another illustration — a king in time but in Heaven he is just another member of the family of God.
So the authorizing agent for the royal priesthood is the Law of Christ revealed to us by God the Holy Spirit and actually called the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. God the Holy Spirit as the administrator of the authorizing agent took us, at the moment of salvation, and entered us into union with Jesus Christ. At the same time He indwelt us, at the same time He sealed us, and at the same time He gave us at least one spiritual gift. We, therefore as members of the royal priesthood, approach God on the basis of our union with Christ, which we call positional sanctification. We approach with confidence because we are sealed by the Holy Spirit, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and we are empowered by the Holy Spirit. We approach with confidence because the ministry of God the Holy Spirit is infinitely superior to the ministry of the Mosaic Law. And we always approach God on the basis of the filling of the Holy Spirit.