The Priestly Order of Melchizedek
7 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. 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.
See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.
Jesus Compared to Melchizedek
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? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.
This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. For it is witnessed of him,
“You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek.”
For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.
And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him:
“The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind,
‘You are a priest forever.’”
This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.
The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.
Hebrews 7 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Genesis 14 has a mysterious individual make an appearance who only is mentioned within a few short verses. Melchizedek was a king of Salem and also known as the King of Peace. One day he appeared to Abraham and was then never heard from again. His name would appear in other Old Testament writings and then once again for an entire chapter in Hebrews 7. The meeting between the two was fascinating. Although they were strangers to one another, they both worshiped and served the most High God. Abraham had just come off a solid win against his enemy and it would Melchizedek who reminded him that it was God who helped him. This may seem like a ‘no brainer’ to us – but in the ancient times, in particular with the life of Abraham, it was bizarre to say the least. No one gave credit to God like this!
The mystery surrounding this man has grown significantly. Some have said he was a respected king in the area. Others have said the name Melchizedek was a title given to all kings in that time, much like we use the word Pharaoh for Egyptian. Some have said this was actually Christ in bodily form who made the appearance before Abraham.
So where this gets interesting is the passage tells us he was a priest of God. Psalm 110 makes the statement he was a priest forever because there is no record of a beginning or end of it. Why this is significant is before the nation of Israel was even established, there was a priesthood established. Just let that sink in a moment.
And so with these thoughts, the writer of Hebrews takes this mystery the Jewish audience would know and understand and states Jesus is higher – he is greater even then Melchizedek. He is the ultimate priest of God who didn’t come from the Levites but came through the tribe of Judah. Christ is the one who offers the final sacrifice of himself so that all people could experience forgiveness. And because of this, He is the ultimate High Priest who even as we read these words is offering intercession on our behalf before the Father.
Jesus Christ is our mediator, our advocate and is every constant and faithful to interceding on our behalf before the Father for all things. He surpassed the story and man of Melchizedek and is very much alive at the right hand of the Father, praying for us, for me, for you.
Hebrews 7 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Who was Melchizedek?
You can read his full story in Genesis 14. Basically, he was a priest who came to Abraham after his defeat of Chedorlaomer and his three allies. Melchizedek gave bread and wine to Abraham and his men which symbolized friendship. He also blessed Abraham and praised God for His powerful victory. Because of this, Abraham presented Melchizedek with a tenth of all items he had acquired. Through this act, Abraham was recognizing Melchizedek as a great man. The author of Hebrews agrees.
Now consider how great this man was—even Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the plunder to him!Hebrews 7:4 HCSB
Melchizedek being both a king and a priest was extremely unique and presented an Old Testament Christlike figure. In fact, some scholars believe this was the incarnate Christ appearing to Abraham. Regardless, the imagery is striking.
“This description of Melchizedek prefigures the eternal priesthood of Jesus. Like Melchizedek, Jesus is both a Priest and a King, belonging to a righteous priesthood that is independent of Aaron’s.”Nelson’s Commentary
The point is simple. If the Jews believed in the greatness of Melchizedek as a king and priest, what was stopping them from believing that Jesus was even greater? The evidence had walked among them. But in His grace, God offered this metaphor of Melchizedek as another spectacular example of how Jesus is both our King and High Priest.