51Every high priest is chosen from his fellow-men and appointed to serve God on their behalf, to offer sacrifices and offerings for sins. 2Since he himself is weak in many ways, he is able to be gentle with those who are ignorant and make mistakes. 3
And because he is himself weak, he must offer sacrifices not only for the sins of the people but also for his own sins. 4
No one chooses for himself the honour of being a high priest. It is only by God's call that a man is made a high priest — just as Aaron was.
In the same way, Christ did not take upon himself the honour of being a high priest. Instead, God said to him:
“You are my Son;
today I have become your Father.”6
“You will be a priest for ever,
in the priestly order of Melchizedek.”5.6; 5.10 in… Melchizedek; or like Melchizedek; or in the line of succession to Melchizedek.
In his life on earth Jesus made his prayers and requests with loud cries and tears to God, who could save him from death. Because he was humble and devoted, God heard him. 8But even though he was God's Son, he learnt through his sufferings to be obedient. 9When he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him, 10and God declared him to be high priest, in the priestly order of Melchizedek.5.10; 5.6 in… Melchizedek (see 5.6).
11There is much we have to say about this matter, but it is hard to explain to you, because you are so slow to understand. 12
There has been enough time for you to be teachers — yet you still need someone to teach you the first lessons of God's message. Instead of eating solid food, you still have to drink milk. 13Anyone who has to drink milk is still a child, without any experience in the matter of right and wrong. 14Solid food, on the other hand, is for adults, who through practice are able to distinguish between good and evil.
61Let us go forward, then, to mature teaching and leave behind us the first lessons of the Christian message. We should not lay again the foundation of turning away from useless works and believing in God; 2of the teaching about baptisms6.2 baptisms; or purification ceremonies. and the laying on of hands; of the resurrection of the dead and the eternal judgement. 3Let us go forward! And this is what we will do, if God allows.
4For how can those who abandon their faith be brought back to repent again? They were once in God's light; they tasted heaven's gift and received their share of the Holy Spirit; 5they knew from experience that God's word is good, and they had felt the powers of the coming age. 6And then they abandoned their faith! It is impossible to bring them back to repent again, because they are again crucifying the Son of God and exposing him to public shame.
7God blesses the soil which drinks in the rain that often falls on it and which grows plants that are useful to those for whom it is cultivated. 8
But if it grows thorns and weeds, it is worth nothing; it is in danger of being cursed by God and will be destroyed by fire.
9But even if we speak like this, dear friends, we feel sure about you. We know that you have the better blessings that belong to your salvation. 10God is not unfair. He will not forget the work you did or the love you showed for him in the help you gave and are still giving to your fellow-Christians. 11Our great desire is that each of you keep up your eagerness to the end, so that the things you hope for will come true. 12We do not want you to become lazy, but to be like those who believe and are patient, and so receive what God has promised.
13When God made his promise to Abraham, he made a vow to do what he had promised. Since there was no one greater than himself, he used his own name when he made his vow. 14
He said, “I promise you that I will bless you and give you many descendants.” 15Abraham was patient, and so he received what God had promised. 16When people make vows, they use the name of someone greater than themselves, and the vow settles all arguments. 17To those who were to receive what he promised, God wanted to make it very clear that he would never change his purpose; so he added his vow to the promise. 18There are these two things, then, that cannot change and about which God cannot lie. So we who have found safety with him are greatly encouraged to hold firmly to the hope placed before us. 19
We have this hope as an anchor for our lives. It is safe and sure, and goes through the curtain of the heavenly temple into the inner sanctuary. 20
On our behalf Jesus has gone in there before us, and has become a high priest for ever, in the priestly order of Melchizedek.6.20; 7.11; 7.17 in… Melchizedek (see 5.6).
This Melchizedek was king of Salem and a priest of the Most High God. As Abraham was coming back from the battle in which he defeated the four kings, Melchizedek met him and blessed him, 2and Abraham gave him a tenth of all he had taken. (The first meaning of Melchizedek's name is “King of Righteousness”; and because he was king of Salem, his name also means “King of Peace”.) 3There is no record of Melchizedek's father or mother or of any of his ancestors; no record of his birth or of his death. He is like the Son of God; he remains a priest for ever.
4You see, then, how great he was. Abraham, our famous ancestor, gave him a tenth of all he got in the battle. 5
And those descendants of Levi who are priests are commanded by the Law to collect a tenth from the people of Israel, that is, from their own people, even though they are also descendants of Abraham. 6Melchizedek was not descended from Levi, but he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him, the man who received God's promises. 7There is no doubt that the one who blesses is greater than the one who is blessed. 8In the case of the priests the tenth is collected by men who die; but as for Melchizedek the tenth was collected by one who lives, as the scripture says. 9And, so to speak, when Abraham paid the tenth, Levi (whose descendants collect the tenth) also paid it. 10For Levi had not yet been born, but was, so to speak, in the body of his ancestor Abraham when Melchizedek met him.
11It was on the basis of the levitical priesthood that the Law was given to the people of Israel. Now, if the work of the levitical priests had been perfect, there would have been no need for a different kind of priest to appear, one who is in the priestly order of Melchizedek,7.11; 7.17; 6.20 in… Melchizedek (see 5.6). not of Aaron. 12For when the priesthood is changed, there also has to be a change in the law. 13And our Lord, of whom these things are said, belonged to a different tribe, and no member of his tribe ever served as a priest. 14It is well known that he was born a member of the tribe of Judah; and Moses did not mention this tribe when he spoke of priests.
15The matter becomes even plainer; a different priest has appeared, who is like Melchizedek. 16He was made a priest, not by human rules and regulations, but through the power of a life which has no end. 17
For the scripture says, “You will be a priest for ever, in the priestly order of Melchizedek.”7.17; 6.20; 7.11 in… Melchizedek (see 5.6). 18The old rule, then, is set aside, because it was weak and useless. 19For the Law of Moses could not make anything perfect. And now a better hope has been provided through which we come near to God.
20In addition, there is also God's vow. There was no such vow when the others were made priests. 21
But Jesus became a priest by means of a vow when God said to him:
“The Lord has made a solemn promise
and will not take it back:
‘You will be a priest for ever.’ ”22This difference, then, also makes Jesus the guarantee of a better covenant.
23There is another difference: there were many of those other priests, because they died and could not continue their work. 24But Jesus lives on for ever, and his work as priest does not pass on to someone else. 25And so he is able, now and always, to save those who come to God through him, because he lives for ever to plead with God for them.
26Jesus, then, is the High Priest that meets our needs. He is holy; he has no fault or sin in him; he has been set apart from sinners and raised above the heavens. 27
He is not like other high priests; he does not need to offer sacrifices every day for his own sins first and then for the sins of the people. He offered one sacrifice, once and for all, when he offered himself. 28The Law of Moses appoints men who are imperfect to be high priests; but God's promise made with the vow, which came later than the Law, appoints the Son, who has been made perfect for ever.