Saturday, February 25, 2017


3 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 (Heb 7:3).

1. What's the relationship between Melchizedek and Jesus? Some interpreters think Melchizedek is an angelophany. Yet in Genesis he appears to be a human king.

2. Some interpreters think he's a Christophany. But there are some basic problems with that interpretation. Hebrews says Melchizedek is like Jesus, not that he is Jesus. A relation of analogy rather than identity. 

That's underscored by the fact that in the typology of Hebrews, the antitype is greater than the type. We wouldn't expect the author to abruptly break that pattern. 

3. By itself, the passage in Genesis might seem inadequate to sustain the inferences which the author of Hebrews draws from it. But that's combined with the bridging passage in Ps 110:4.

4. What makes Melchizedek such a significant figure? Or is he that significant? Some critics might object that Hebrews is milking the brief episode in Gen 14:17-20 for more than it's worth. Yet, on closer examination, the inferences in Hebrews are justifiable:

i) Melchizedek is significant in part because he's both a priest and king. That dovetails nicely with a Messiah who's both priestly and kingly.

ii) Melchizedek is the first priest mentioned in the Pentateuch. That would be highly significant to the original audience. A priesthood was central to the religious life of Israel. Yet here's a priest who antedates the Levitical priesthood by centuries.

iii) Moreover, this priest is contemporaneous with Abraham, who's the seminal figure in Judaism. And the Levitical priesthood descends from Abraham. 

iv) What about the business of his lacking parents or genealogy? A critic might object that that's an unwarranted argument from silence.

Again, though, this is a part of the Pentateuch where, under the Mosaic cultus, you must be a Levite to be a priest. Given the Mosaic stress on the genealogical qualifications or disqualifications to be a priest, the absence of any background in the case of Melchizedek is conspicuous and telling. 

v) In addition, this foreshadows the eternally preexisting Son. That's not literally true of Melchizedek, but again, the author is dealing with types and shadows, where the fulfillment exceeds the precedent. 


  1. Always good observations steve!

  2. Interesting that the LDS hijacks the Melchizadeken priesthood, so prominently. Was at the visitors courtyard at the Salt Lake LDS temple a few weeks ago. They have a memorial statue display depicting the re-establishment of the Melchizadeken priesthood there.

  3. an elegant interpretation; thanks.