Does he in Hebrews 7:8 refer to Jesus? If so, does Jesus receive tithes? I am confused because no money goes into heaven does it? Does this mean that when we give our tithes in our church, the tithes go to heaven? Jesus does not need money, right? What if the leaders of a church misuse the tithe? Please explain or provide references.
The book of Hebrews can be difficult to understand since it was written primarily to Jews and, consequently, uses terminology of that New Testament culture. The teaching in Hebrews 7 is very Jewish in nature and presents Jesus Christ as our eternal high priest. The question this article is concerned with is, “Does Hebrews 7:8 refer to a priest, to Jesus or to Melchizedek?”
Hebrews 7:1-2 — Melchizedek Blessed Abraham
In order to answer the question, “Does Hebrews 7:8 refer to a priest, Jesus or Melchizedek?” we must understand the context. That is, we must understand what was said before Hebrews 7:8. Therefore, we will start with Hebrews 7:1.
Hebrews 7 refers to Melchizedek, Abraham, Levitical priests and to Jesus Christ. Beginning in Hebrews 7:1-2, the author of Hebrews reminds us that Melchizedek had blessed Abraham after he (Abraham) had returned from the slaughter of four kings who had captured Lot and his family (Genesis 14:8-17). Here is Hebrews 7:1-2,
For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace. Hebrews 7:1-2 (NASB)
Now notice that this passage reminds us that after Melchizedek, the king of Salem, had blessed Abraham, he (Abraham) gave Melchizedek a tithe of all the spoils from the slaughter.
Hebrews 7:3 — Melchizedek Is Like Christ
Then Hebrew 7:3 speaks of Melchizedek when it says,
Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually. Hebrews 7:3 (NASB)
In this verse the author of Hebrews is preparing to explain that Christ is a priest even though he was not a descendant of the tribe of Levi. According to the Mosaic Law, a man could only be a priest if he was a descendant of the tribe or lineage of Levi. Therefore, the author of Hebrews wants us to understand that contrary to the Mosaic Law, Melchizedek was a priest, even though his parents were not descendants of Levi (Hebrews 7:6). Additionally, since Melchizedek’s death is never recorded, one could say his priesthood never ended.
Therefore, the author starts by saying that Melchizedek’s genealogy, life, death and parents are not recorded in Scripture. That is, he was a priest even though he was not a descendant in the Levitical priesthood. In fact, the Levitical priesthood was established later in Exodus. Further, without a statement in Scripture about his birth or death, he argues that his priesthood never ended.
It is important to notice that we are told Melchizedek was “made like the Son of God.” The Greek for this phrase is aphomoioo. It literally means “made to be like.” This is not a statement about Jesus but one about Melchizedek. Figuratively speaking, Melchizedek is eternal since his birth and death are not recorded in Scripture.
Hebrews 7:4-7 — Melchizedek Received Tithes From Abraham
Next, the author explains that Melchizedek was superior to Levi as demonstrated by the fact that Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek. In verses 4, we are told that Melchizedek was greater than Abraham since he received tithes from Abraham. In verse 5, we are told the Levitical priests received tithes from mortal men. Then in verse 6 the author states that Melchizedek received tithes from Abraham, even though they were not related by birth.
In verses 6-7 the author explains that the greater individual blesses the inferior.
Hebrews 7:8-10 — Melchizedek Received Tithes From Mortal Men
Hebrews 7:8 reads as follows in the King James Version and in the New American Standard Bible,
And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. Hebrews 7:8 (KJV)
In this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on. Hebrews 7:8 (NASB)
When we arrive at Hebrews 7:8, we are reminded that the Levitical priests were mortal men. Notice that the KJV Bible says “he receiveth” and the NASB says “one receives.” The “he” or “the one” refers to Melchizedek who received tithes from Abraham even though they were not relatives. Then, figuratively speaking, the author concludes that Melchizedek received tithes from the Levitical priests through Abraham, even though the Levitical priests had not been born yet.
The conclusion occurs in Hebrews 7:15-17. Here we are told that Jesus is a priest forever according to the priestly order of Melchizedek.
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. For it is attested of Him,
“YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER
ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.”
Hebrews 7:15-17 (NASB)
Then in verse 23-25 we are told,
The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:15-17 (NASB)
Jesus is our eternal high priest. He did not have to be a priest after the order of Levi. He is a priest according to the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek is an eternal priest, even he was not a Levitical priest.
Suggested Links:Laying The Foundation
Is The Mosaic Law For Today? – part 1
Is The Mosaic Law For Today? – part 2
Was Melchizedek a man or a type of Christ?
Jesus – Our Eternal High Priest