Passage: Hebrews 5, 6, 7, 8 (RSV)

Hebrews 5

1For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.
2He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.
3Because of this he is bound to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people.
4And one does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was.
5So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, "Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee";
6as he says also in another place, "Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchiz'edek."
7In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear.
8Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered;
9and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,
10being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchiz'edek.
11About this we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.
12For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need some one to teach you again the first principles of God's word. You need milk, not solid food;
13for every one who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a child.
14But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil.

Hebrews 6

1Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
2with instruction about ablutions, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
3And this we will do if God permits.
4For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,
5and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,
6if they then commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt.
7For land which has drunk the rain that often falls upon it, and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.
8But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed; its end is to be burned.
9Though we speak thus, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things that belong to salvation.
10For God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love which you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do.
11And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness in realizing the full assurance of hope until the end,
12so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
13For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself,
14saying, "Surely I will bless you and multiply you."
15And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise.
16Men indeed swear by a greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation.
17So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he interposed with an oath,
18so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God should prove false, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us.
19We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain,
20where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchiz'edek.

Hebrews 7

1For this Melchiz'edek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him;
2and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace.
3He is without father or mother or genealogy, and has neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest for ever.
4See how great he is! Abraham the patriarch gave him a tithe of the spoils.
5And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brethren, though these also are descended from Abraham.
6But this man who has not their genealogy received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises.
7It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior.
8Here tithes are received by mortal men; there, by one of whom it is testified that he lives.
9One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham,
10for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchiz'edek met him.
11Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levit'ical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchiz'edek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron?
12For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.
13For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar.
14For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.
15This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchiz'edek,
16who has become a priest, not according to a legal requirement concerning bodily descent but by the power of an indestructible life.
17For it is witnessed of him, "Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchiz'edek."
18On the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness
19(for the law made nothing perfect); on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.
20And it was not without an oath.
21Those who formerly became priests took their office without an oath, but this one was addressed with an oath, "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, `Thou art a priest for ever.'"
22This makes Jesus the surety of a better covenant.
23The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office;
24but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever.
25Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
26For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens.
27He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did this once for all when he offered up himself.
28Indeed, the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect for ever.

Hebrews 8

1Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,
2a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent which is set up not by man but by the Lord.
3For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer.
4Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law.
5They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary; for when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, "See that you make everything according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain."
6But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry which is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.
7For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion for a second.
8For he finds fault with them when he says: "The days will come, says the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah;
9not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in my covenant, and so I paid no heed to them, says the Lord.
10This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
11And they shall not teach every one his fellow or every one his brother, saying, `Know the Lord,' for all shall know me, from the least of them to the greatest.
12For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more."
13In speaking of a new covenant he treats the first as obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

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