on Hebrews 7 :11
If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood - The word τελειωσις, as we have before seen, signifies the completing or finishing of any thing, so as to leave nothing imperfect, and nothing wanting. Applied here to the Levitical priesthood, it signifies the accomplishment of that for which a priesthood is established, viz.: giving the Deity an acceptable service, enlightening and instructing the people, pardoning all offenses, purging the conscience from guilt, purifying the soul and preparing it for heaven, and regulating the conduct of the people according to the precepts of the moral law. This perfection never came, and never could come, by the Levitical law; it was the shadow of good things to come, but was not the substance. It represented a perfect system, but was imperfect in itself. It showed that there was guilt, and that there was an absolute need for a sacrificial offering to atone for sin, and it typified that sacrifice; but every sacrificial act under that law most forcibly proved that it was impossible for the blood of Bulls and Goats to take away sin.
For under it the people received the law - That is, as most interpret this place, under the priesthood, ἱερωσυνῃ being understood; because, on the priesthood the whole Mosaical law and the Jewish economy depended: but it is much better to understand επ' αυτῃ on account of it, instead of under it; for it is a positive fact that the law was given before any priesthood was established, for Aaron and his sons were not called nor separated to this office till Moses came down the second time from the mount with the tables renewed, after that he had broken them, Exodus 40:12-14. But it was in reference to the great sacrificial system that the law was given, and on that law the priesthood was established; for, why was a priesthood necessary, but because that law was broken and must be fulfilled?
That another priest should rise - The law was given that the offense might abound, and sin appear exceeding sinful; and to show the absolute necessity of the sacrifice and mediation of the great Messiah, but it was neither perfect in itself, nor could it confer perfection, nor did it contain the original priesthood. Melchisedec had a priesthood more than four hundred years (422) before the law was given; and David prophesied, Psalm 110:4, that another priest should arise after the order of Melchisedec, nearly five hundred years (476) after the law was given. The law, therefore, did not contain the original priesthood; this existed typically in Melchisedec, and really in Jesus Christ.
on Hebrews 7 :11
If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood - As the Jews supposed. They were accustomed to regard the system as perfect. It was an appointment of God, and they were tenacious of the opinion that it was to be permanent, and that it needed no change. But Paul says that this could not be. Even from their own Scriptures it was apparent that a priest was to arise of another order, and of a more permanent character, and this he says was full proof: that there was defect of some kind in the previous order. What this defect was, he does not here specify, but the subsequent reasoning shows that it was in such points as these - that it was not permanent; that it could not make the worshippers perfect; that the blood which they offered in sacrifice could not take away sin, and could not render those who offered it holy; compare Hebrews 7:19, Hebrews 7:23-24; Hebrews 10:1-4.
For under it the people received the law - This assertion seems necessary in order to establish the point maintained in Hebrews 7:12, that if the priesthood is changed there must be also a change of the Law. In order to this, it was necessary to admit that the Law was received under that economy, and that "it was a part of it," so that the change of one involved also the change of the other. It was not strictly true that the whole Law was given after the various orders of Levitical priest were established - for the Law on Sinai, and several other laws, were given before that distinct arrangement was made; but it was true:
(1) that a considerable part of the laws of Moses were given under that arrangement; and,
(2) that the whole of the ceremonial observances was connected with that. They were parts of one system, and mutually dependent on each other. This is all that the argument demands.
What further need was there ... - "If that system would lead to perfection; if it was sufficient to make the conscience pure, and to remove sin, then there was no necessity of any other. Yet the Scriptures have declared that there "would be" another of a different order, implying that there was some defect in the former." This reasoning is founded on the fact that there was an express prediction of the coming of a priest of a different "order" Psalm 110:4, and that this fact implied that there was some deficiency in the former arrangement. To this reasoning it is impossible to conceive that there can be any objection.
on Hebrews 7 :11