Was the Law changed? Misunderstandings regarding Hebrews 7:12

change-lawMany Christians turn to Hebrews 7:12 to point out that God’s Law has changed. After all, that is what our English Translations say. But is this an accurate translation? It certainly fits in with the dominant Theology of mainline Christianity which assumes that God’s Law has been changed, abolished or done away. In this study, we will investigate whether the Greek Originals offer evidence to challenge this translation, and whether we can conclusively prove if this verse speaks of God’s Law being changed or not.

A. The Greek word for “Change”
B. The Greek words translated as “change” in Hebrews 7:12
C. Other words that are connected to “change” in our English translations
D. Conclusion – Was there a necessity to “change” the Law or to “transfer” it?

A. The Greek word for “Change”

Change is defined as “make or become different” and “take or use another instead of”. The Greek word used in the New Testament for such an act is “allasso” (Strong’s Greek Concordance number 236). This word is used 6 times in the New Testament writings as showcased below.

G236 – ἀλλάσσω – allassō – change
Act 6:14  For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change(G236-allasso) the customs which Moses delivered us.
Rom 1:23  And changed(G236-allasso) the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
1Co 15:51,52  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed(G236-allasso), In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed(G236-allasso).
Gal 4:20 I desire to be present with you now, and to change(G236-allasso) my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.
Heb 1:12  And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed(G236-allasso): but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

B. The Greek words translated as “change” in Hebrews 7:12
The Greek words that stands in place of “change/changed” in Hebrews 7:12 are “Metathesis/Metatithemi”. Metathesis which is also used in English Vocabulary (Originating from the Greek) is defined as ‘transpose, change the position of’. We could say that it means “changing places” or “transferring”, but it surely is different from “allasso”.

Heb 7:12  For the priesthood being changed(μετατίθημι-metatithemi-G3346), there is made of necessity a change(μετάθεσις-metathesis-G3331) also of the law.

The usage of these words in the whole of the New Testament, are given below for your reference. Comparing how the same word is translated to English in different verses, surely provides us a clearer picture of what these words really mean.

G3346 – μετατίθημι – metatithemi – transfer
Act 7:16  And were carried over(G3346) into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.
Gal 1:6  I marvel that ye are so soon removed(G3346) from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Heb 7:12  For the priesthood being changed(G3346), there is made of necessity a change also of the law. 
Heb 11:5  By faith Enoch was translated(G3346) that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated(G3346) him: for before his translation(G3331) he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
Jud 1:4  For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning(G3346) the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

G3331 – μετάθεσις – metathesis – transference
Heb 7:12  For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change(G3331) also of the law. 
Heb 11:5  By faith Enoch was translated(G3346) that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated(G3346) him: for before his translation(G3331) he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
Heb 12:27  And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing(G3331) of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

In Hebrews 11:5, we see Enoch is “translated” from earth to heaven. He is transferred. His position is changed. The same word “metatithemi” is seen in Gen 5:24 in the Septuagint (LXX) as well. Using the same meaning in place of the words “change” in Heb 7:12, provides a much different meaning to what it is usually understood to be. It is not that the priesthood “changed” as in, it was “replaced”. It is that the Priesthood has been “transferred”/”changed places” from earth to heaven. From an earthly Aaronic High Priest to Yeshua(Jesus’ true name), the High Priest of the Heavenly Temple. The necessity of a “change” in the Law, does not mean that God’s Law was replaced here on Earth. Rather that there is a transference also of the Law. This transference is speaking of the priesthood – of an Aaronic Priest on earth to a Priest in the line of Melchizadek in heaven. Not that the Aaronic priesthood is expunged, but that the Melchizadek Priest would receive preeminence standing before God with a far superior offering.

C. Other words that are connected to “change” in our English translations
There is also a need to see that our English Translations carry “change/changed” in place of other Greek Words from the Original Manuscripts which have diverse meanings to “allasso”.

G3337 – μεταλλάσσω – metallasso – exchange
Rom 1:25  Who changed(G3337-metallasso) the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
Rom 1:26  For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change(G3337-metallasso) the natural use into that which is against nature:

G3339 – μεταμορφόω – metamorphoo – transform
Mat 17:2  And was transfigured(G3339-metamorphoo) before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
Mar 9:2  And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured(G3339-metamorphoo) before them.
Rom 12:2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed(G3339-metamorphoo) by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
2Co 3:18  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed(G3339-metamorphoo) into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

G3345 – μετασχηματίζω – metaschēmatizo – transfigure/disguise
1Co 4:6  And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred(G3345-metaschematizo) to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
2Co 11:13-15  For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves(G3345-metaschematizo) into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed(G3345-metaschematizo) into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed(G3345-metaschematizo) as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
Php 3:21  Who shall change(G3345-metaschematizo) our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

D. Conclusion – Was there a necessity to change the Law or to transfer it?
Looking at the Original Greek wording, we can see that the “change” spoken of in Hebrews 7:12 is not the same “change” spoken of in Acts 6:14. Different words with different meanings have been used in the Original Greek Manuscripts, in these instances for a reason. Even though our English Translations use the same word “change” in place of these different Greek Words, the meaning is far different to what most Christians think it is. “Change” in Heb 7:12 cannot mean “replaced”, “make different” or “use another instead of”. The “Change” here denotes movement from one place to another. The necessity is to transpose or transfer to another place, which fits in line with the transference of the Priesthood from an Earthly one to a Heavenly one. This is the theme of the Book of Hebrews as the Author rightly sums up in Hebrews 8:1. The verse in question, Hebrews 7:12 in its Original Greek version does not speak of a “change” but a “transference” – hence it cannot be used as a proof text to say that God’s Law has changed.

Further Reading :
Old Covenant abolished by New Covenant? Part II – Does the Book of Hebrews prove that the Old Covenant is no more

7 thoughts on “Was the Law changed? Misunderstandings regarding Hebrews 7:12

  1. WoundedEgo

    I think you were almost on the right track by looking at the vocabulary but it seems you have missed the meaning. His point is not that because the priesthood was a different priesthood that the laws of the Aaronic priesthood had to be applied now to Christ’s heavenly priesthood. If that were the case then he would have had to die every year on Yom Kippur.

    I find the most helpful word for understanding what Hebrews is asserting is the term “jurisdiction”:

    “Questions of jurisdiction are generally technical legal matters. The most important ones include which court will hear a given case and which law-enforcement agency can get involved. But although they may seem like mere technicalities, jurisdictional matters sometimes turn out to be all-important in the final outcome. Jurisdiction may depend on where you are (for example, in which state), on who you are (if you’re a juvenile, for example, you may only be tried in juvenile court), and on what the subject is (for example, cases involving the estate left by someone who has died are dealt with in probate court).”
    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jurisdiction

    In other words, if I am in Mexico I am subject to Mexico’s laws, not those of my own country. If I then travel to Spain I am beholden to the laws of Spain. In your approach, I make the laws of my own country to apply where ever I go. That’s the opposite of his point.

    Because Jesus came as a priest after the order of Melchizedek it was the rules of that priesthood that apply, not the Aaronic priesthood. To prove this the author says that Jesus could not satisfy the legal requirements to be an Aaronic priest because he was not a Levite:

    NLT Hebrews 7:
    11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical 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 Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron**? 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the [IE: applicable] law as well. 13 For the one of whom these things are spoken **belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.**
    15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become a priest, **not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is witnessed of him,
    “You are a priest forever,
    after the order of Melchizedek.”
    18 For on the one hand, **a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the law made nothing perfect)**; but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

    So rather than Hebrews saying that the same commandments were applied to Christ it specifically asserts that the whole Aaronic priesthood was irrelevant to Christ because he was not a Levite and so he was a completely different *order*:

    τάξις, τάξεως, ἡ (τάσσω), from Aeschylus and Herodotus down;
    1. an arranging, arrangement.
    2. order, i. e. a fixed succession observing also a fixed time: Luke 1:8.
    3. due or right order: κατά τάξιν, in order, 1 Corinthians 14:40; orderly condition, Colossians 2:5 (some give it here a military sense, ‘orderly array’, see στερέωμα, c.).
    4. the post, rank, or position which one holds in civil or other affairs; and since this position generally depends on one’s talents, experience, resources, τάξις becomes equivalent to character, fashion, quality, style, (2 Macc. 9:18 2Macc. 1:19; οὐ γάρ ἱστορίας, ἀλλά κουρεακης λαλιᾶς ἐμοί δοκοῦσι τάξιν ἔχειν, Polybius 3, 20, 5): κατά τήν τάξιν (for which in Hebrews 7:15 we have κατά τήν ὁμοιότητα) Μελχισέδεκ, after the manner of the priesthood (A. V. order) of Melchizedek (according to the Sept. of Psalm 109:5 (Ps. 110:5) עַל־דִּבְרָתִי), Hebrews 5:6, 10; Hebrews 6:20; Hebrews 7:11, 17, 21 (where T Tr WH omit the phrase).
    THAYER’S GREEK LEXICON, Electronic Database.
    Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2006, 2011 by Biblesoft, Inc.
    All rights reserved. Used by permission. BibleSoft.com

    Reply
    1. rameshdesilva Post author

      I don’t know whether the post has been clear enough, but my point is that God’s Law on Earth is for us who live on earth. Yeshua on the other hand does not need to adhere by that Law. The “Change” or transference is of the priesthood and law of earth to a more perfect heavenly one. The Law on earth has and will not change.

      Be a blessing to everyone around you!

      Reply
  2. reikster

    “The “Change” here denotes movement from one place to another. ”

    How did the law move? What does it mean?

    Reply
    1. rameshdesilva Post author

      Yes. The word here means transference. From a Earthly Priesthood to a Heavenly Priesthood. This is the change. Not that God’s Law on earth has changed. That would be against His own Words.
      Be a blessing to everyone around you!

      Reply
      1. reikster

        The passage also says that the law changes. So how does it move?

        What is your explanation for hebrews 7:18?

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