OceanSide church of Christ
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THE PRIESTHOOD OF MELCHISEDEC
Victor M. Eskew
A. Prior to Hebrews 7, the inspired writer has mentioned the fact that Jesus is a high priest after the order of Melchisedec three times (Heb. 5:6, 10, 6:20).
B. In Hebrews 7, he enlarges his discussion of the priesthood of Melchisedec.
C. This chapter can be divided into four sections:
i. THE ACCOUNT FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT (Heb. 7:1-4)
ii. THE APPLICATION TO THE OT PRIESTHOOD (Heb. 7:5-10)
iii. THE ASCENDANCY OF JESUS (Heb. 7:11-17)
iv. THE ANTITHESIS BETWEEN THE PRIESTHOODS (Heb. 7:18-28)
I. THE ACCOUNT FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT (Heb. 7:1-4)
A. The Old Testament story of Abraham and Melchisedec is found in Genesis 14:17-24. Genesis 14:17-20 is pertinent for our discussion.
And the king of Salem went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedolaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale. And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: and blessed be the most high God which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
1. Note that Melchizedek is referred to as “the priest of the most high God.”
2. Two things transpire in this account:
a. Melchizedek blesses Abram.
b. Abraham pays tithes to Melchizedek.
B. The Hebrew penman uses this account to make an important point about the Levitical priesthood (Heb. 7:5-10). First, he simply sets the account before us.
1. The Action (Heb. 7:1-2a)
For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham return-ing from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all.
1) The name literally means “king of righteousness.”
2) Names were frequently given because of some quality or characteristic of the person. It could have been given due to Melchisedec’s eminent integrity.
3) See Hebrews 1:8-9
But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
b. King of Salem
1) The term “Salem” means “peace.”
2) This is thought to be the ancient name of Jerusalem.
3) See Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulders: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
c. Met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings.
d. And blessed him.
a) Strong (2127): to speak well of, that is (religiously) to bless (thank or invoke a benediction upon, prosper)
b) Thayer: to praise, celebrate with praises, to invoke blessings
2) Melchisedec came out and expressed his approbation for what Abraham had done in the battle of the kings.
3) The Point: The less is always blessed of the better. Therefore, the less (Abraham) was blessed of the better (Melchisedec).
e. To whom Abraham gave a tenth part of all.
1) The Genesis account states that “he gave him tithes of all.” Here, we see the definition of the word “tithe.”
2) The Point: The less always pays tithes to the greater. The less (Abraham) paid tithes to the greater (Melchisedec).
2. The Description (Heb. 7:2b-3)
…first being by interpretation king of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; 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.
a. Many try to make this description of Melchisedec very difficult, even mystical.
1) Let us remember that Melchisedec was a real, human character of the Old Testament.
2) The description that is given comes from what is revealed to us about this man in the Old Testament.
3) Some think this was Jesus. If so, then Jesus was incarnate on two occasions. This is not true. He only had one body prepared for Him (Heb. 10:5).
1) King of righteousness
2) King of Peace
1) “…without father, without mother, without descent…”
2) There are no historical records that reveal to us who his mother and father were. Thus, it appears that he had neither.
d. Birth and death
1) “…having neither beginning of days, nor end of life.”
2) It appears that Melchisedec is an eternal being.
a) He had no mother or father who gave birth to him, but he existed.
b) There is no record of his death. Thus, he appears to continue to exist.
c) NOTE: Priests continued in their capacity until they died. If Melchisedec did not die, his priesthood was lasting in nature.
e. Application: “…but made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually.”
1) Jesus, too, is an eternal being. He has no beginning or end. (NOTE: This refutes the claim of the Jehovah’s Witnesses that Jesus is a created being).
2) Because Jesus will never die, His priesthood is an abiding priesthood. It will never end.
3. The Consideration (Heb. 7:4)
Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of spoils.
a. The Jews held Abraham in high regard. They boasted that they were the “children of Abraham.”
b. This exalted patriarch, however, paid tithes to someone even greater, namely, Melchisedec.
c. If the Jews denied this, they would have denied their history.