1 For this Melchizedek was king of Salem [Note: This probably refers to Jerusalem], and a priest of the Most High God. He met Abraham returning [from battle] when he defeated the kings [See Gen. 14:1ff] and blessed him. 2 Abraham measured out one tenth of everything he had [taken in battle] and gave it to Melchizedek. (Now "Melchizedek" means, first of all, "King of Righteousness," and then [since he was] King of Salem, it also means "King of Peace"). 3 He was without a father, or mother or a list of ancestors [i.e., there was no record of his family tree] and no [record of his] birth or death. Like the Son of God, he [appeared to] remain a priest perpetually.
4 Now consider how great this man was, to whom the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of what he had taken [in battle]. 5 For indeed, the descendants of Levi, who are appointed to the priesthood, are commanded by the law of Moses to collect a tenth [of the income] of the Israelites, who are their brothers, even though these brothers are [also] descendants of Abraham. 6 But Melchizedek, whose ancestry is not traced from the Levites, has collected a tenth [of the spoils] from Abraham, and blessed him who had received promises [from God]. 7 Without question [then], the lesser [of these two persons] is blessed by the greater one. 8 And in the one case, men here [on earth, that is, the Levites] who die, collect a tenth [from the rest of the Israelites], but there [i.e., in the case of Melchizedek] it is collected by someone about whom it is declared [by Scripture] that he continues to live. 9 And, so to speak, Levi, who collected a tenth [from the Israelites], paid a tenth through Abraham, 10 for when Melchizedek met him, he was still in Abraham's body [i.e., Levi had not yet been born as a descendant of Abraham].
11 So, if perfection [i.e., a right relationship with God] could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood, (for under it people had received the law of Moses), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise, according to the order of Melchizedek, who was not considered "according to the order of Aaron"? 12 For with the changing of the priesthood, it was necessary for a change to be made in the law also. 13 For the Lord [See next verse], about whom these things are being said, belonged to another tribe, from which no one has [ever] been appointed to serve at the Altar. 14 For it is quite evident that our Lord has descended from Judah, a tribe about which Moses said nothing concerning priests.
15 And this is even clearer if another priest like Melchizedek arises, 16 who was not appointed on the basis of human regulations governing one's physical ancestry, but on the strength of One whose life never ends. 17 For it is declared [about Jesus in the Scriptures, Psa. 110:4], "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."
18 For on one hand, the previous command [i.e., the law of Moses] was set aside because it was weak and useless, 19 (since the law did not make anything [i.e., anyone] perfect), but on the other hand, there is the introduction of a better hope [which did bring perfection through Christ], by which we draw near to God.
20 And this was not done without the taking of an oath [by God], 21 (for [Levitical] priests were appointed without [God] taking [such] an oath, but Christ was appointed with an oath by God when He said to Him [Psa. 110:4], "The Lord made a vow and will not change His mind [when He said], 'You are a priest forever')."
22 So therefore, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better Agreement [between God and mankind].
23 And on one hand, many people were appointed to be [Levitical] priests because they were prevented by death from continuing [to serve]. [Note: The idea is that Levitical priests had to be constantly replaced]. 24 But on the other hand, Jesus has a permanent priesthood because He lives forever. 25 So, He is also able to save completely those people who approach God through Him, since He lives forever to intercede [i.e., to plead to God] on their behalf.
26 For Jesus was a very suitable head priest for us [i.e., He meets our needs very well], because He was holy, innocent, without [moral] corruption, separated from sinners and [exalted] above the heavens. 27 He does not need to offer up [animal] sacrifices every day like those head priests did [Note: The head priest here is represented as being in charge of the daily sacrifices offered by the other priests], first for His own sins and then for the people's sins. For He did this once for all time when He offered up Himself [on the cross]. 28 For the law of Moses appoints [morally] weak men to be head priests, but the message of [God's] oath, which came after that law [Note: The quotation from Psa. 110:4 (See verse 21) was written after the law of Moses was given] appointed the Son, who was made perfect [in every way] forever.