This week we departed briefly from examining the different objects in the tabernacle to take a closer look at the holy priesthood. We saw how the New Testament book of Hebrews devotes a great deal of text to revealing Jesus Christ as the Great High Priest foreshadowed in the Old Testament. In particular, careful exegesis (critical analysis or interpretation) of Hebrews 7:25 reveals profound and moving truths about the position of Christ as both High Priest and intercessor at the right hand of God.
An important part of exegesis is understanding the context of the portion of text in question. We can accomplish this by backing up to read Hebrews 7:11-24. Here we learn that perfection was unattainable through either the Levitical priesthood or through the Law. Therefore, there was not only a need for a change in the Law, but also the need for another priest to arise in the likeness of Melchizedek (for further thoughts on Melchizedek see this post). This priest, however, would not be of the line of Aaron as priests traditionally came, but of the tribe of Judah — this priest was Jesus Christ. Jesus would not be a priest on the basis of the Law (a legal requirement), but “by the power of an indestructible life.” (7:16) He would be “a better hope…through which we draw near to God” (7:19) and “the guarantor of a better covenant.” (7:22)
So what does Hebrews tell us about the role of Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest? “Consequently, He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (7:25) Let’s move further through the process of exegesis to look at the key underlined words in this verse.
“He is able“: The word able (Greek: “dunamai”) means “is powerful to.” Jesus Christ is fully empowered to carry out the role assigned to Him from before the foundations of the world (I Peter 1:20 Ephesians 1:4).
“to save“: The word save (Greek: “sozo”) means “to deliver, protect, heal, preserve, be or make whole.” The salvation provided by Christ is complete, providing deliverance, protection, healing, preservation, and wholeness.
“to the uttermost“: The word uttermost (Greek: “panteles”) is made up of two Greek words “pas” meaning “all” and “telos” meaning “completion.” Further, the word “telos” is from the root word “tello” meaning “to set out for a definite goal, result, or purpose.” Not only is the salvation provided by Christ whole and complete, this salvation is at all times, in all cases, and has a definite end result and purpose. This Greek phrase is used only one other time in Scripture, in Luke 13:11, where the woman who had been bent over with a disabling spirit for 18 years received complete and immediate healing in front of the rulers in the synagogue.
“He always lives“: The phrase “always lives” (Greek: “pantote zao”) means “has life always, at all times, forevermore.” Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promise in Psalm 110:4 in that He would “[hold] His priesthood permanently, because He continues forever.” (Hebrews 7:24) And we are further guaranteed that Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) He will never change.
“make intercession“: The word intercession (Greek: “entugchano”) means “to confer with, entreat in favor or against, deal with.” We are told in Romans 8:27 that this intercession is according to God’s will. This intercession is a result of reflection and deliberation and is not only consistent with God’s will and word, but is also consistent with the purposes that God holds for us.
Our salvation is a process. Yes, we are saved once and forever when we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and we can never be snatched out of His hand (John 10:28). But our salvation is also continual by the very nature of the eternal existence of Christ Himself — He has saved us, He is saving us, and He will continue to save us until we are finally with Him in the heavenly kingdom. Further, although we know that our salvation is secure, we can rest knowing that our purposes, our spiritual gifts, and the paths that lie before us in this life are being deliberated upon and discussed in the heavenly realm. Praise God!
*Note: Greek definitions are from Strong’s Greek Dictionary.
Viewer Guide answers (pages 158 & 159 of your study book):
- save, uttermost, liveth, intercession
- protect, heal, whole; all, completion, definite, goal, purpose; utterly, quite; at all, completely
- will; reflections, first stage, thought, final; spiritual gifts