Melchizedek Has No Recorded Family
The Jews were all about genealogiesdont take my word for it: read First Chronicles. Yet Melchizedek has none. Theres no Melchizedek, son of So-and-So. No mention of a mother. No mention of a son. Not really anything.
The author of Hebrews makes a pretty big deal out of this. He contrasts the lineage-based priesthood of Aaron with Melchizedek, who has no recorded birth or death or anything .
This is where the discussion on Melchizedek gets really interesting, and goes in many different directions. Was he just a righteous man? An apparition of Jesus before he was born in the flesh ? An angel sent to govern the city of Salem?
Of course, thats not really the authors point. The author of Hebrews is more interested in showing off Jesus superior priesthood to the Hebrew Christian converts.
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Why Was The Book Of Enoch Removed From The Bible
The Book of Enoch was considered as scripture in the Epistle of Barnabas and by many of the early Church Fathers, such as Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus and Tertullian, who wrote c. 200 that the Book of Enoch had been rejected by the Jews because it contained prophecies pertaining to Christ.
The First Mention Of Melchizedek Is In The Book Of Genesis
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand. And he gave him a tithe of all.
There are five things to note about Melchizedek here.
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Latter Day Saint Movement
In the Latter Day Saint movement, the Book of Mormon makes reference to Melchizedek in . According to Encyclopædia Britannica, Joseph Smith “appointed his male followers to priesthoods, named for the biblical figures Melchizedek and Aaron, that were overseen by the office of High Priest”, incorporating selected practices from the Hebrew Bible. These priesthoods are laid out by Smith in as well as more than twenty additional references in that work.
Intriguing Facts About Melchizedek From The Bible
Melchizedek is one of the most intriguing characters the Bible says almost nothing about. Hes only mentioned in three books of the Bible, but that doesnt stop people from having lots to say about this character.
Some people say Melchizedek is Jesus. Some people say hes just a guy who worshiped God. Youve probably heard all kinds of ways Melchizedeks life applies to yours.
Hes a mysterious figure, and Ive found that mysterious Bible figures attract a lot of speculation, which ends up spreading some extra-biblical ideas. This means that when we sit down to study someone like Melchizedek , were often looking through folklore-tinted lenses.
Ive found that a good way to approach these figures is just to search for every time theyre mentioned in the Bible, and create a list of observation-level facts.
When I was working on a guide to the Book of Hebrews, I noticed that letter gives some attention to Melchizedek. So I took a break from that project to make a laundry list of biblical Melchizedek facts.
Heres the high-level rundown. I go into more detail below.
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Association With The Messiah
A collection of early Gnostic scripts dating on or before the 4th century, discovered in 1945 and known as the Nag Hammadi library, contains a tractate pertaining to Melchizedek. Here it is proposed that Melchizedek is Jesus Christ. Melchizedek, as Jesus Christ, lives, preaches, dies and is resurrected, in a gnostic perspective. The Coming of the Son of God Melchizedek speaks of his return to bring peace, supported by God, and he is a priest-king who dispenses justice.
The association with Christ is made explicit by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, where Melchizedek the “king of righteousness” and “king of peace” is explicitly associated with the “eternal priesthood” of the Son of God. The Christological interpretation of this Old Testament character being a prefiguration or prototype of the Christ has varied between Christian denominations. The Pelagians saw in Melchizedek merely a man who lived a perfect life.
Typological association of Jesus Christ with Old Testament characters occurs frequently in the New Testament and in later Christian writings thus, Jesus Christ is also associated with Adam and with Abraham. The bread and wine offered by Melchizedek to Abraham has been interpreted by church fathers including Clement of Alexandria as being a prefiguration of the Eucharist.
Jesus Must Be The King Of Righteousness
Again, the name Melchizedek is a compound Hebrew word, from the word melek, which means king, and zedek, or zadok, which means righteousness.
Only a righteous King may hold this priesthood. Jesus is such a King. Everyone knew that Messiah would be a King, specifically from the line of David:
Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: The LORD is our righteousness.
The LORD swore to David a sure oathfrom which he will not turn back:One of the sons of your bodyI will set on your throne.
This is where the Jewish categories for Messiah got blown up. See, they were waiting for a King. But they were thinking too small. Jesus would be the true and final and perfect Prophet, Priest, and King.
Combining all of these offices in one Man was to a Jewish mind akin to what we would think of someone who claimed to be the President, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Speaker of the House, all in oneit just isnt done!
Where is the separation of powers? Well, you need that with sinful people. But God is righteous. This King is King of Righteousness, and so he exercises all power with perfect justice. Psalm 110 is clear as well,
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The Priesthood Of Melchizedek
As Melchizedek was without earthly genealogy, so is Christ by virtue of His virgin birth. He is God incarnate, immortal and sinless, and therefore His priesthood is able to transform humanity.
The power given at ordination is strong and effective. The power of Christ’s priesthood is perfect and draws us near to God. His sacrifice is offered once and for all. The Father Himself ordains the Son.
Since Christ is immortal, the priesthood of Melchizedek needs only one, eternal priest. The requirement of perfect holiness is met in Christ, the only sinless One. He is more than a mere man, He is the Son of God.
Who Was The Mysterious Melchizedek In The Bible
The mysterious biblical figure of Melchizedek has intrigued religious thinkers and scholars for centuries. He makes a brief but significant appearance in Genesis the first book of the Hebrew Bible when he blesses the patriarch Abram and is introduced as the “priest of the Most High God.”
From that single mention, various Jewish sects and early Christians developed their own disparate interpretations of who Melchizedek was and what he represented. Some apocalyptic Jewish writers cast Melchizedek as a heaven-sent high priest who existed before the flood and would return to usher in the messiah. Meanwhile, early Christians saw Melchizedek as a “type” or precursor of Jesus Christ, in that they both derived authority from an eternal and higher priesthood. Some have wondered if Melchizedek was even Jesus Christ himself in another form.
Who was the real Melchizedek? Unlike nearly everyone mentioned in Genesis and other books, Melchizedek has no recorded father, no genealogy. He is not the “son of” anyone. If a man by that name ever existed, he’s been long lost to time. But exploring how the meaning of Melchizedek has been interpreted and reinterpreted over time is equally fascinating and instructive. Let’s start with the account in Genesis, which appears straightforward at first, but is as problematic as they come.
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Why Did God Do It
God intended, in advance, that the Old Covenant Levitical priesthood last for only a short time and be replaced. This is why the Biblical appearance of Melchizedek occurred many decades before Levi was born and more than 300 years prior to Israel receiving the law .
The existence of his order, prior to the giving of the law, meant that it would not be bound by its rules regarding the priesthood. This made it possible for Jesus to serve, after his resurrection, as High Priest before God.
Jesus Christ Who Appeared As Spiritual Melchizedek
Meaning Of Order Of MelchizedekThe Bible says that everyone on this earth is a sinner and no one is free from sin and death. Paul says:
Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.
In this state, without receiving the forgiveness of their sins, no one can receive salvation. And the Bible says that Christ came and gave us the forgiveness of our sins, not with the blood of animals, but with his own blood.
Symbols of Melchizedek: Bread and Wine
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Hebrews’ Commentary On Melchizedek
So important is this basic subject that one entire New Testament chapter is devoted to explaining the significance of just three verses in the book of Genesis. The topic is introduced in the last verse of Hebrews 6. The writer points out that Jesus has become “High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek,” as King David foretold so long ago in Psalm 110.
Then in Hebrews 7, the author goes on to consider the amazing attributes and qualities of God’s high priest of old. “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, . . . first being translated ‘king of righteousness,’ and then also king of Salem, meaning ‘king of peace,’ . . . remains a priest continually” .
Consider that Melchizedek means “King of Righteousness.” It would essentially be blasphemy to apply this title to any human being because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” . Only a divine Being would appropriately bear this awesome title.
Says The New Bible Commentary: Revised: “Note that Scripture pictures him as one who is a king as well as a priest. The combination of these two offices was to be a distinguishing characteristic of the Messiah” .
Melchizedek’s next awesome title is “King of Peace.” Of course, fallible human beings simply do not know the way to peace (Romans 3:10Romans 3:10As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Melchizedek Was Greater Than Abraham And Aaron
The author of Hebrews argues that when it comes to really outstanding human beings, Melchizedek trumps Abraham so much so that Abraham gave Melchizedek a tithe of all the spoils Abraham collected on his mission . And if Abraham looked up to Melchizedek, and Aaron looked up to Abraham, that puts the order of Melchizedek a deal higher up the totem pole than Aarons priesthood.
To Understand Melchizedek’s Identity We Must Let The Bible Interpret The Bible
We have already seen that Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and man. His willing sacrifice for our sins uniquely qualified Him for this crucial role. Yet the preexistent Word also prefigured this sacred office during the time of the Hebrew patriarch Abraham.
He did so in the person of Melchizedek, priest of the Most High God. The book of Genesis only briefly mentions this mysterious person. But King David, and especially the New Testament book of Hebrews, does not miss His deep significance.
To understand Melchizedek’s identity, we must let the Bible interpret the Bible. Our breadth of understanding is augmented enormously when we join these three accounts together and consider them as a whole.
First let’s look at the Genesis account. After rescuing his nephew Lot from military capture, Abram, whose name was later changed to Abraham, encountered Melchizedek. “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth and blessed be God Most High who has delivered your enemies into your hand.’ And he gave him a tithe of all” .
×, still speaking to the same Being. This certainly helps to indicate the identity of this mysterious Old Testament personage. Yet it is the book of Hebrews that gives us the strongest evidence.
The Symbols Of Melchizedek: Bread And Wine
Meaning Of Order Of MelchizedekAlso Paul says that we must participate in the blood of Christ to receive the forgiveness of sins. Then what is the way we can participate in the sacrifice of Christ by receiving his blood? On the night of the Passover, Christ taught us how to take part in the blood of Christ.
Matthew 26:26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take and eat this is my body. 27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Jesus teaches us that we can take part in his flesh and blood. It is through the bread and wine of the Passover. In other words, by keeping the Passover of the new covenant, we can participate in the blood of Christ. And also we can receive the forgiveness of our sins and get freedom from sin and death.
For this reason, we can be sure that Jesus is the spiritual Melchizedek who appeared to give us blessings of eternal life.
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What Is The Priesthood
Meaning Of Order Of MelchizedekFirst, let us think about the work and role of priests in the bible.
Hebrews 5:1 Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3 This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. 4 And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was.
Priests were a group of people who were entrusted with things that belong to God and the worship of God. For this purpose, they presented offerings and sacrifices according to the regulations to God. Through their work, they could intercede on behalf of people. Through their intercession, people could receive forgiveness for their wrongdoings and transgressions.
Priesthood In Order Of Melchizedek
Qualifications Of The Melchizedek Priest
Now, in verses 2 and 3, the author establishes the qualifications of the order of Melchizedekwhich grows out of this typological picture. This is where it becomes very clear that, no, you are not a member of this order. Look at the second half of verse two,
He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.
There are 3 aspects of this living type that God wrote into the character of Melchizedek in Genesis 14 that establish the qualifications for Jesus to stand as High Priest in this order:
Is Salem And Jerusalem The Same City
That the name Salem refers to Jerusalem is evidenced by Psalm 76:2 which uses Salem as a parallel for Zion, the citadel of Jerusalem. The same identification is made by Josephus and the Aramaic translations of the Bible. Many scholars believe that his name is preserved in the name of the city Jerusalem.
Early Christians Take The Ball And Run With It
While Melchizedek only appears once in the Bible, his name is invoked in two other places. The first is in Psalm 110, traditionally attributed to King David. In Psalm 110, God makes a series of promises to “my lord,” a figure that could be King David himself or, in later Christian interpretations, Jesus Christ.
Hidden among various pledges to crush the lord’s enemies, Psalm 110 says: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”
This one mention of Melchizedek in Psalm 110, together with the heavily edited episode in Genesis, provided theological framework for early Christian apologists like Paul, who were tasked with defending the divinity and authority of Jesus after his death.
In the book of Hebrews, which is a letter to a young Christian community struggling to part ways with its Jewish beliefs and traditions, Paul makes the case that Jesus Christ’s power and authority supersede all of Israel’s prophets and high priests. In Chapter 7 of Hebrews, an explicit connection is made between Melchizedek and Jesus.
Melchizedek, Paul explains, was “king of Salem and priest of God Most High.” He was both a king and a high priest, something that Jews of that time believed wasn’t possible. Only Levites could be priests and only non-Levites could be king. Paul interpreted Psalm 110 as referring to Jesus as a “priest forever in the order of Melchizedek,” which gave Jesus the same type of overriding authority as Melchizedek.
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