Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.
He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.
This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people.
No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was.
So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father. "
And he says in another place, "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."
During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered
and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him
and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.
In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!
Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God,
instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
And God permitting, we will do so.
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit,
who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age,
if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God.
But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.
Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case--things that accompany salvation.
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.
We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself,
saying, "I will surely bless you and give you many descendants."
And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument.
Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.
God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,
where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him,
and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means "king of righteousness"; then also, "king of Salem" means "king of peace."
Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.
Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder!
Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people--that is, their brothers--even though their brothers are descended from Abraham.
This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises.
And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater.
In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living.
One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham,
because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.
If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come--one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron?
For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law.
He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar.
For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.
And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears,
one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.
For it is declared: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."
The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless
(for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath,
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.'"
Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.
Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office;
but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.
Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
Such a high priest meets our need--one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.
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.
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.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
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