1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; 2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; 3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. 4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. (Hebrews 7:1–4, KJV 1900)
In yesterday’s post, we looked at the priesthood according to the order of Melchizedek and how this differed from the Levitical priesthood according to the Law. We also saw that there was a promise that there would come a high priest after the order of Melchizedek who would hold this position forever (Ps 110:4). The author indicated that the high priest after the order of Melchizedek is Jesus. We saw that Melchizedek’s appointment to the priesthood came before the Law and it was universal for all people, not restricted to the Nation of Israel.
Before we continue, we must first understand who Melchizedek is. There are some interesting descriptions given to him by the author. He identifies him as the King of Salem (Salem is the name of ancient Jerusalem) and explains that Salem means peace, making Melchizedek the King of peace. He also indicates that Melchizedek’s name means King of righteousness.
Strangely, he seems to indicate that Melchizedek did not have a father or mother or descendants and that he had no beginning or end of days. From this unique description, many have proposed various theories as to who Melchizedek was. Some have claimed he was an angelic being who lived on earth filling a kingly and priestly role. Yet, this seems confused by the statement that he had no beginning.
Some, from the statement that he had no beginning and no end of days, conclude that he was a theophany, a pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus. Yet, the author seems to refute this notion when he states that Melchizedek was “made like unto the Son of God.” Many also believe that he was a man, just like us, who God appointed to the role of a king-priest. With all these views, I think most would agree that Melchizedek as a type of Jesus who was to come.
My revised conclusion is that he was a man whom God appointed to a specific role and who was a type of Jesus who was to come. The reason for this is that the author describes him as “one like Jesus.” The descriptions then without father, mother or ancestry refer to the fact that there is no recorded father, mother, or ancestors for him. Moreover, there is no record of his birth or death. Melchizedek seems to just arrive from nowhere and then disappear from the record. With all the varied theories, the author clearly refers to this man as a king-priest who is a type of Jesus who would come and fill the role the king-priest forever.
This is a major way in which the priesthood after the order of Melchizedek varied from the Levitical priesthood. The priests in the Levitical order were not rulers. They were not royalty. They were priests. On the contrary, Melchizedek was both a king and a priest. This perfectly fits Jesus who would fulfill both the Davidic Covenant as a descendant who would sit on the throne of David forever (Ps 89:3-4; Luke 1:31-33) and the Davidic prophecy that the Messiah would be the high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4; Heb 6:30).
(Monday, what this means to us.)