It’s a Little Complicated
1For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2and 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. 3He 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.
In Genesis 14, after Abraham has vanquished in a battle with 5 local kings, we learn of the priest from Salem (Jerusalem) who is also the king, Melchizedek. This name is mentioned only in a few brief verses in Genesis but resurfaces again in Psalms and now here in Hebrews. His relationship to Jesus is one of controversy and interest. So, we need to begin our study of this rather challenging passage with a refresher about the mention of Melchizedek in reference to Abraham.
17After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) 19And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
David mentions the name again in his prophetic coronation prayer we now call Psalm 110.
A Psalm of David.
1The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”
2The Lord sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies!
3Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours.
4The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
5The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
6He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth.
7He will drink from the brook by the way; therefore he will lift up his head.
As we open the study of Jesus as High Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, I want to address the idea that Melchizedek was actually a Christophany. Theologians fall on either side of this argument and I’m not sure it needs to be hotly contested. I myself have fallen on both sides of the line and wouldn’t take a firm stance either way today. But, suffice it to say, there are many who believe Melchizedek was indeed the pre-incarnate Christ and many who don’t agree with that at all. You can decide for yourself. My role here is to present the texts and some of the comments made by others more scholarly than I. We will continue to unwrap this concept for the next few days as we work through chapters 7 & 8.