Hebrews on Christ's Priesthood

Gerald O'Collins and Michael Keenan Jones

in Jesus Our Priest

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780199576456
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723032 | DOI:
Hebrews on Christ's Priesthood

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This chapter sets out what the Letter to the Hebrews means by calling Christ ‘high priest’ and ‘priest according to the order of Melchizedek’. This involves, above all, a ‘once‐and‐for‐all’ sacrifice in which he himself was the victim, and a priestly intercession which continues forever in heaven. Through assuming the human condition, being appointed by God, and living a sinless life of faith, Christ right from his birth was qualified for priestly office and so to offer sacrifice for the sins of others. Hebrews pictures this sacrifice through images drawn from the ritual performed by the Jewish high priests during worship in the Jerusalem Temple, above all on the Day of Expiation. Christ's permanent and efficacious priesthood ‘according to the order of Melchizedek’ is prior to and greater than the Levitical priesthood. His priestly work purifies human beings from sin and makes them share in a new and ‘better’ covenant, which enables them to live a sacrificial, priestly existence through praise of God and service of others.

Keywords: covenant; expiation; intercession; Melchizedek; high priest; sacrifice; victim

Chapter.  4873 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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