Association With The Messiah
The association or identification of Melchizedek with the Messiah predates Christianity, developing in Jewish messianism of the Second Temple period.
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.
Melchizedek Was A Priest Of God Not The Son Of God
Lets look at some more verses.
Hebrews 7:1, 41 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him
4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.
Melchizedek wasnt God, we get that, but he was a priest of Gods, not the Son of God.
Melchizedek was a great man, but not the Son of God. In fact, Melchizedek was so great, that Abraham gave him a tithe. Now if Melchizedek was Christ, would that really be something to brag about? I mean, shouldnt the Son of God receive something greater than a tithe?
Nothing in these verses seem to indicate Melchizedek was Divine.
We need more Scripture.
Hebrews 5:5-65 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.
6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
Christ is begotten, the claimed Son.
Yet, when we read the next verse, we see Jesus is even a high priest after the order of Melchizedek, after someone else. Not after Himself, not that Jesus was Melchizedek.
King Who Prepares The Table
Melchizedek commands a disproportionate amount of importance in redemptive history compared to the amount of space devoted to him in Scripture. His name literally means king of righteousness, and he rules over the city of Salem .
Melchizedek, the King-Priest of Salem, is foundational for understanding how Jesus occupies the dual offices of king and priest.
In the three verses that describe his life and ministry , were introduced to Melchizedeks authority as king of Salem and priest of the God Most High. He speaks of God as both Creator and Deliverer. He even offers bread and wine to Abram after his victory in battle over his enemies. In response, Abram tithes to Melchizedek a tenth of everything, reinforcing the latters spiritual significance. The gospel allusion to the sacrament of communion shouldnt go unnoticed.
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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.
Melchizedek Was Not Jesus
From the first two Scriptures you mentioned, we know the Son Jesus Christ is not the Father, as the Son had a beginning, while the Father did not, .
So, if Melchizedek was Jesus, then Jesus did not have a beginning. Yet, Scripture clearly tells us, Jesus did have a beginning, .
Therefore, Melchizedek cannot be Jesus, otherwise, the Bible contradicts itself.
So, if we take Hebrews 7:3 literally, then Melchizedek was God, since God does not have a beginning. Of course, I do not believe that either. I am just trying to compare and contrast for you here, so you can rule things out.
So this tells me, Melchizedek was not God or Christ.
Lets read Hebrews together.
Hebrews 7:3Without 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.
We are told, Melchizedek did not have a beginning of days, nor end of life, but he was made.
See the rub there?
Melchizedek had no beginning, but he did have a beginning.
Look up the word made.
It means, assimilate closely, make like.
The opening statement in this verse is more of a Hebrew idiom. In fact, without father means, unrecorded paternity, without mother means, unknown maternity, and without descent means, unregistered as to birth. Just like Aarons sons, .
Melchizedeks ancestry was simply unknown, not that he didnt have any ancestry at all.
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What Is A High Priest
In the Bible, we do have a distinction between the priests and the high priest. The priests may range in their duties from taking care of the sacrificial lambs and maintaining the temple, but the high priest had the enormous task as serving as a mediator between the people and God once during the year.
On the Day of Atonement , the high priest would enter the most sacred spot in the Temple . He had a rope with bells attached to him, so those outside the holy of holies would know that God had not struck him dead from the sound. He would sprinkle the sacrifice for the people and himself on the holy seat .
Scripture doesnt offer any evidence that Melchizedek does this particular priestly duty. After all, the priesthood of Aaron existed long after his time. But we should make note that he does serve as a mediator between Abraham and God, as other priests do in Scripture.
And if Jesus does hail from the order of Melchizedek, we do know that a certain sacrifice Jesus did on earth tore the curtain to the holy of holies in half and atoned for our sins.
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.
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Melchizedek Makes His Only Appearance
Genesis 14 starts off as a chronicle of war. A group of cities, including Sodom and Gomorrah, were under the thumb of King Kedorlaomer of Elam. After 12 years of servitude, there was an uprising, which Kedorlaomer quashed with a vengeance, seizing captives and booty from the rebelling cities.
Among those captured, Genesis 14 tells us, was Lot, the nephew of “Abram the Hebrew.” At this point in the story, Abram was not yet Abraham because he had yet to make a covenant with God. But Abram was a wealthy and powerful landowner, so he decided to go save his nephew. Abram took 318 well-trained servants and attacked Kedorlaomer at night, chasing the enemy to Damascus and retrieving the stolen goods and people, including Lot.
Here’s where things get interesting. Lot and his family lived in Sodom. When Abram makes his triumphant return, he’s first greeted by the king of Sodom . But before the king of Sodom has a chance to talk, Genesis introduces a new character not previously mentioned in the long lists of warring kings. In verses 18-20, it says:
As we’ll see, a lot has been made of those short verses. Here was a priest of “God Most High,” understood as the one true God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam blessing Abram, who would soon become the patriarch of God’s chosen people. And here was Abram paying a tithe to this high priest, whose elevated position and authority predates all of the ancient prophets.
What Does The Name Melchizedek Mean
Melchizedek, or in some translations Malki-Tzedek, literally means my king. Because the tzedek means righteous or just, many scholars have wrongly translated his name to mean just king or righteous king, writes John J. Parsons. Salem also derives from the term Shalom, which means peace. Perhaps his name had also meant King of Peace. Hebrews 7 confirms both of these names.
No wonder so many scholars have debated about the possible divine status of Melchizedek as the Son of God because it seems odd that a mere human would ever have a name that means king of righteousness, as indicated in Hebrews 7.
In either case, Melchizedeks name points to his kinghood.
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What Did Melchizedek Do
We dont get a lot of hints in Scripture about the specifics of what Melchizedek does in his role as a priestly king. He does break out the bread and wine sacrament and offers a blessing to Abraham in the name of God.
To answer this question, well have to look to the role of priests in the Old Testament and know that the roles may slightly differ. After all, the priesthood doesnt really come until the time of Aaron, Moses brother, in Exodus.
Priests in the Bible would serve as mediators between the people and God . They administered sacrifices, especially during important holidays throughout the year, such as Passover, and were divided in twenty-four different sub-types . They ministered in both the temple and in the cities in which they were assigned. They also specifically came from the tribe of Levi.
We should make note that Melchizedek appears again in Psalm 110:4. This verse makes it clear that the order of the priesthood of Melchizedek has an eternal value.
Unlike the priesthood of Aaron which ran into many roadblocks and happened on and off, Melchizedeks priesthood lasts forever.
Is Melchizedek A Theophany
I know there are some who feel strongly that Melchizedek is a theophany, an Old Testament appearance of the Second Person of the Trinity Christ in the Old Testament. The first thing we should note is that there is no clear indication of a theophany, as there appears to be in Judges 13, where the Angel of the Lord appears to Manoah and his wife, foretelling of the birth of a son. David does write that the Messiah, like Melchizedek will be a priest forever, but the way the author of Hebrews validates this from Genesis 14 would give us pause for thought as to whether Melchizedek was divine. I would have to conclude that thinking of Melchizedek as a theophany is probably speculative.
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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 Gods 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 .
Melchizedeks 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 Is The King Of Salem
Salem was a city-state in the land of Canaan. Salem means full, complete, safe, whole, peaceful.1 The author of Hebrews calls attention to this when likening Melchizedek to JesusMelchizedek was the king of Peace, which makes us think of another Prince of Peace we know .
This is interesting for a few reasons. Remember the whole rebellion with King Ched that started this mess? Well, Ched had three loyal kings on his side, and five disloyal kings fighting against him. Each of these kings seems to have ruled some kind of city-state areabut guess which city never enters the fray?
Salem. The city seems to live up to the safe and peaceful parts of its name.
This is also interesting because the ancient town of Salem later becomes known as Jerusalemwhich is where the temple of God that Solomon built would stand.
You can see how the author of Hebrews would be especially keen on connecting Jesus to Melchizedek. Jesus is the son of David, the king of Jerusalem. And Jesus is the high priest of a new covenantmuch like Melchizedek was a priest.
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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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Melchizedek In The New Testament
An image of Melchizedek painted onto the altar side near the Royal Doors at Libotin wooden church, Maramure County, Romania
In the New Testament, references to Melchizedek appear only in the Epistle to the Hebrews . Jesus the Christ is there identified as a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek quoting from Ps. 110:4, and so Jesus assumes the role of High Priest once and for all. Abraham’s transfer of goods to Melchizedek is seen to imply that Melchizedek is superior to Abraham, in that Abraham is tithing to him. Thus, Melchizedek’s priesthood is superior to the Aaronic priesthood, and the Temple in Jerusalem is now unnecessary.
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Melchizedek: The Theophany Of Christ
God revealed himself to Abraham, but we don’t know how Melchizedek learned of the true God. Monotheism, or worship of one god, was rare in the ancient world. Most of the people worshiped several gods. Some even had dozens of local or household gods, which were represented by manmade idols.
The Bible does not shed any light on Melchizedek’s religious rituals either, except to mention that he brought out “bread and wine” for Abram. This act and Melchizedek’s holiness have led some scholars to describe him as a type of Christ, one of those Bible people who show the same qualities as Jesus Christ, Savior of the World. With no record of father or mother and no genealogical background in Scripture, this description is fitting. Other scholars go a step further, theorizing that Melchizedek may have been a theophany of Christ or a manifestation of deity in temporary form.
Understanding Jesus’ status as our high priest is a key point in the Book of Hebrews. Just as Melchizedek was not born into the Levitical priesthood but was appointed by God, so Jesus was named our eternal high priest, interceding with God the Father on our behalf.
Hebrews 5:8-10 says: “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”