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Who was Melchizedek?

- Two Views
by
Jason Dulle and William Arnold III
JasonDulle@aol.com, WmArnold@apostolic.net

He was a Man · He was God


He was a Man
Jason Dulle
The identity of Melchisedec has been the subject of much debate over the centuries. Some have
claimed he was a theophany, others a literal human being, an angel, the pre-incarnate Christ,
Shem, and the list of speculation goes on. In rabbinical literature, Melchisedec was said to be
from the lineage of Shem. The same literature, however, also says Melchisedec's priesthood was
taken from him because he blessed Abraham before he blessed God.1 Melchisedec's mysterious
identity may never be known with certainty this side of heaven. completely solved. Surely it will
be debated until the return of Christ. This paper continues the search for his identity.
Many Christians wonder why God did not make the identity of Melchisedec clearer in His Word.
I cannot claim to know the answer to this question, but two things are certain. First, God must
not have deemed it necessary that we know more about Melchisedec than He chose to reveal to
us. The Scripture focuses more on the nature of his priesthood than on his person. Secondly, it is
apparent that the recipients of the letter to the Hebrews understood who Melchisedec was. His
identity does not seem to be veiled to them like it is to us. This is due, in part, to the fact that they
lived nearly 2000 years ago. They lived much closer to the time of Melchisedec's appearing to
Abraham than do we, and thus had a better chance of knowing the truth of his identity. Since
they were descendants of Abraham and recipients of the oracles of God in which Melchisedec is
mentioned, they had the tradition of their fathers' teaching concerning him passed down from
generation to generation, and thus had a better chance of understanding his identity than we, with
our western mentality, do 2000 years later.
This paper will deal with three major questions. The first is the most controversial. Who was
Melchisedec? The answer to this question raises a second: Why was Melchisedec considered
great, and greater than Abraham at that? Finally, why was there a need to change the priesthood
from the Aaronic order to the order of Melchisedec?
Before we can answer any of these questions, it is incumbent on us to explore the author's
purpose for discussing Melchisedec. There were Jews who were claiming that Jesus could not
have been a priest since He was from the tribe of Judah, and not of Levi, from which the Aaronic
priesthood was derived. They argued that since Jesus had not come from that particular stock, He
was excluded from being a priest. The author of Hebrews argued that Melchisedec was a priest
of God even though he was not of the Levitical line, nor even a Jew. Not only did the author
demonstrate that Melchisedec's lineage was not Levitical, but he went so far as to assert that
Melchisedec was superior to the priests of the Levitical line.
In order to support his idea that Jesus' priesthood was according to Melchisedec's order, the
author cited Psalm 110:4, a messianic prophecy which predicted that the Messiah would be a
priest after the Melchisedecian order (Hebrews 5:6; 7:17, 21).
Since Jesus' priesthood was of the same order as that of Melchisedec, His lineage need not be
Levitical/Aaronic. As was Melchisedec, Jesus' priesthood was superior to that of the Law of
Moses.2
By noting both the existence of a priesthood apart from the Levitical/Aaronic line, and by
demonstrating that the Law itself predicted the replacement of the Aaronic order with the
Melchisedecian order, the author could successfully authenticate Jesus' identity as a priest
without having come from the Levitical line, and thereby demonstrate that this change in the
order of priesthood necessitated a changing of covenants, which God had intended long before.3
I would like to focus your attention on Hebrews 7-containing the bulk of material on
Melchisedec. A few preliminary remarks are in order. As with many difficult subjects in
Scripture, there are multiple views, each of which has merit. The text itself can be used to
support the view that Melchisedec was a theophany, and the view that he was man. Those who
hold Melchisedec was a theophany, and those who hold he was a man find support for their
opposing views from the very same passage. Ehen approaching this text, then, we must be honest
with ourselves when we come to some hard to be understood wording, and not try to simply
make it fit our desired conclusions. Even though I am persuaded Melchisedec was a mere man, I
must confess that I still find some language in the passage unsettling. Intellectual honesty
requires that I admit the possibility that Melchisedec was more than a mere man. In fact, it
requires that I present the evidence for both positions and let you judge for yourself which is the
better of the two.
I would like to focus your attention on Hebrews 7-containing the bulk of material on
Melchisedec. A few preliminary remarks are in order. As with many difficult subjects in
Scripture, there are multiple views, each of which has merit. The text itself can be used to
support the view that Melchisedec was a theophany, and the view that he was man. Those who
hold Melchisedec was a theophany, and those who hold he was a man find support for their
opposing views from the very same passage. Ehen approaching this text, then, we must be honest
with ourselves when we come to some hard to be understood wording, and not try to simply
make it fit our desired conclusions. Even though I am persuaded Melchisedec was a mere man, I
must confess that I still find some language in the passage unsettling. Intellectual honesty
requires that I admit the possibility that Melchisedec was more than a mere man. In fact, it
requires that I present the evidence for both positions and let you judge for yourself which is the
better of the two.
Why might we think Melchisedec was a mere man? We read that he was both a king and priest,
thus being a type of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 7:1, 3). Melchisedec was king over a city called
Salem. Was this a literal city? It seems as though it was. Most scholars agree that it was the
ancient name for Jerusalem. Notice the root of "Jerusalem." It is the word "salem." The Bible
also supports such a notion. Psalm 76:2 equates Salem with Zion, where God's tabernacle dwelt.
It is common knowledge that God's tabernacle and presence dwelt in Jerusalem. It appears that
this Melchisedec was a literal king over a literal city.
Some argue that since Salem means peace, as Hebrews 7:2 declares, and it is said that
Melchisedec is the King of Peace, Melchisedec has to be a theophany or the pre-incarntate Christ
because, Jesus is peace (Isaiah 9:6). It must be understood that the name of the city of Salem
means "peaceful." The ancients named cities and people for specific reasons, yet their names did
not always match up to their reputation or person. Joshua means "Yahweh has become
salvation." Was Joshua "Yahweh has become salvation"? No, yet he bore the name. Likewise the
city of Salem meant peace, but it was not peace. When the Scriptures declare that Melchisedec
was the King of Peace, it is not implying that Melchisedec was peace, but rather he was the king
of the city called Peace, or Salem. The author of Hebrews merely explained the meaning of
Salem when he said that Melchisedec was the "King of Peace." His reference was not to the
character trait of peace, but to the city called Peace.
What is meant by "without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of
days or end of life" (Hebrews 7:3)? It seems to plainly indicate that Melchisedec was eternal.
However, we must put ourselves back into the eastern world 2000 years ago to understand what
the expression would have meant to the original readers. The expression quoted above is not
peculiar to the Scripture. It was an expression we find in secular literature of the day. The
expression was used, not to indicate eternality, but to express the idea that an individual did not
have a recorded geneology, or to indicate an obscure genealogy.4 Adam Clarke gives such
examples from actual historical documents of the day. Here are two such documents:
Senceca, in his 108th epistle, speaking of some of the Roman kings, says: "Of the mother of Servius Tullus there are
doubts; and Ancus Marcus is said to have no father."5
Titus Livius, speaking of Servius, says he was born of a slave, named Cornicularia,..., of no father.6
The phrase "without descent" is translated from the Greek agenealogetos. This word does not
mean the absence of ancestors, but the absence of a traced genealogy.7 According to Adam
Clarke, the word means "a generation, a descent, a pedigree, not absolutely, but rehearsed,
described, recorded."8 The base of agenealogetos is genealogetos. The "a" before the word
changes the word into its negative, or opposite meaning, portraying the idea of "without."
"Genealogetos is he whose stock is entered on record. And so, on the contrary, agenealogetos is
not he who has no descent, no genealogy, but he whose descent and pedigree is nowhere entered,
recorded, reckoned up."9
To the Jews, a traceable genealogy was of utmost importance, especially for the priesthood. If
one could not prove his lineage he was barred from being a priest (Nehemiah 7:64). There is no
recorded genealogy of Melchisedec. His descent was not important because his priesthood was
not dependant on it. His lineage did not affect his right to the priesthood. The author went on to
say in Hebrews 7:13-17 that the Law foretold of a day in which the Melchisedecian priesthood
would arise again. Since under the Law of Moses the priesthood had to be of the Aaronic order,
this gave evidence that the Law would one day be abolished in favor of a new covenant and
consequently a new priesthood. The Law needed to be abolished because it demanded that the
priests have their lineage through Aaron, not Melchisedec. After the Law was abolished through
Christ's death and the New Covenant was instituted with His blood, Jesus had no need to be in
the lineage of Levi to serve as a priest of God. He could be of the stock of Judah and still be a
priest under the order of Melchisedec, for there was no genealogical requirement for this order.
The two priesthoods were of a different sort and order, serving two different purposes, at
different times.
What does the phrase "having neither beginning of days, nor end of life" mean (Hebrews 7:3)? It
could merely mean that the day of Melchisedec's birth and death are not recorded. This would be
in stark contrast to other famous men of the Bible who births and deaths are recorded with great
accuracy. It would also be in opposition to the importance of one's age under the Levitical and
Aaronic priesthood, for under the Levitical priesthood one had to prove their age so it could be
determined whether or not they were too young or too old to serve as a priest. The Aaronic
priests could not begin to serve as a priest until they were twenty-five years old, and had to retire
when they reached the age of fifty (Numbers 4:1-3, 22-23, 35, 43; 8:24-25). Age was very
important to the Aaronic priesthood, but not to Melchisedec's. He served as a priest for life.
What evidence is there that Melchisedec was more than a man? Primary support comes from
verses are 3, 8, and 15-16. Verse three says Melchisedec "abideth a priest continually." The word
"abideth" in the Greek is in the present tense, indicating continuous action. This being true, it
appears that Melchisedec never died, but is still acting as a priest.
Verse eight says, "of whom [Melchisedec] it is witnessed that he liveth." Notice that "is" and
"liveth" are also in the present tense. By using the present tense instead of a past tense, the author
of Hebrews seems to be implying that it was still being witnessed that Melchisedec lives even in
his own day.
Finally in verses 15-16 we read that Jesus was made "after the power of an endless life." This
statement arose out of the comparison the author was making between Melchisedec and Jesus.
Keeping with the author's train of thought, it seems as though he was implying Melchisedec's life
was also endless.
These verses may appear problematic to the mere-man view, but they are equally problematic, if
not more problematic to those holding to the God-view. Taking these passages at face value, we
must either conclude that Melchisedec was a man/temporal and Jesus is divine/eternal, or that
there are two eternal beings, both having priesthoods lasting forever. This would imply two
eternal priesthoods, not one.
Hebrews 7:3 says Melchisedec was "made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest
continually." It does not say that Melchisedec was the Son of God pre-incarnate, or a theophany,
but rather he was like the Son of God. Being someone and being like someone are two entirely
different things. If Melchisedec was not a man, then we have two beings who share the
Melchisedecian priesthood, both being like the other, but not the same person.
Accordingly, Hebrews 7:15 reads, "After the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another
priest." (emphasis mine) The Greek word translated "similitude" is homoioteta which indicates
"that Jesus is similar to, but not the same as, Melchisedec."10 Jesus' priesthood is being
compared to, or likened to Melchisedec's priesthood. The author did not say that Jesus is
Melchisedec or vice versa, but rather that Jesus has a priesthood similar to Melchisedec's. Not
only so, but the Scripture declares that from the Melchisedecian order, there arose another priest.
This word indicates nothing other than the existence of a second priest. One can not have
another, unless preceded by a first. Here again we must either conclude that Jesus is God, and
Melchisedec was a man, or else we must conclude there are two priests abiding forever.
The last Scripture I will cite is Hebrews 7:17 which reads, "For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for
ever after the order of Melchisedec." (emphasis mine) Notice again that Jesus is not identified as
being Melchisedec, but is identified as having a priesthood after his order. This implies that
Melchisedec and Jesus were two different individuals. One can not compare one's priesthood to
another's if the comparee is the comparer. Likewise, the author of Hebrews could not compare
the order of Jesus' priesthood to Melchisedec's if Melchisedec was Jesus. If Melchisedec was
Jesus He would not have a priesthood to compare His own to, because He already possessed the
only eternal priesthood that existed. If only one person has only one thing, then a comparison can
not be made. Comparisons can only be made between two or more related persons or things.
How do we explain the use of the present tense in reference to Melchisedec? Some have tried to
claim that it is the use of the historical present. This does not seem likely since the Greeks
typically used the present in this manner only in narrative. There is no clear-cut answer. Possibly
the present is being used in a perfective sense, indicating the present effects of a past completed
action. The emphasis would be on the way Melchisedec's priesthood continues to affect the
world. This idea may stretch the limits of the Biblical grammar too far, however. Coupled with
the fact that the present tense does not often carry this sense, only being witnessed in a few
passages (Luke 1:34; Romans 10:16; Ephesians 4:8; I Timothy 5:18; I John 5:20), we should not
put too much weight upon this hypothesis. Nevertheless, it is a viable option. In all honesty, I
must confess that there is not an adequate response to the use of the present in these passages. It
does cast some shadow of doubt on the mere-man view.
The author's use of the present indicative should not detract from his main point: a comparison
between Jesus and Melchisedec to show that just as Melchisedec served as a priest for life, Jesus
too serves as a priest for life. Melchisedec was a priest of the Most High God all his earthly life,
and Jesus is a priest of the Most High God all His eternal life.
Another reason for the correlation is to demonstrate that just as Melchisedec's priesthood started
from his birth and ended at his death, Jesus' priesthood started at Calvary when He stood as the
mediator between God and men. Once the course of this world is over, however, and eternity is
ushered in, there will be no more need for Jesus' priesthood, for He will have no more souls to
intercede for seeing that eternity is set and all the souls that can be saved are saved (I Corinthians
15:24-28; Hebrews 7:23-28). This interpretation would take the word "ever" in reference to
Melchisedec's priesthood and make it relative, of which the Greek word can imply. The Greek
word "signifies a period of indefinite duration, or time viewed in relation to what takes place in
the period.11 Such Scriptural examples of the word having this meaning of relative time are
Matthew 13:39; 21:19; 24:3; 28:20; Romans 12:2; I Timothy 6:17, and a host of others. They do
not imply eternity, but a specific amount of time in relation to what is taking place in the period
of time. Interpreting this word as relative does not seem out of theological context. God spoke
about the Israelites observing the ordinances of the Law of Moses forever, yet we know they
have been superseded by the New Covenant as God had intended all along (Exodus 31:16-17;
Galatians 3:19-29; Colossians 2:13-17). The word "forever" appears some forty times in the
Pentateuch in reference to statutes of the Law, yet we do not take this to mean that we must
observe the Law today.
Why was Melchisedec considered great, and greater than Abraham at that (Hebrews 7:7)? To
answer this question we must go back to the first mention of the story in Genesis 14. It is said
that Melchisedec came with bread and wine to Abraham after Abraham had defeated
Chedorlaomer and the kings who fought with him. These kings looted Sodom and Gomorrah,
taking Lot, Abraham's nephew captive; therefore, Abraham went to rescue him. When Abraham
and his servants returned from the battle, Melchisedec brought food and drink, apparently for the
famished soldiers. Abraham then tithed the spoil and gave it to Melchisedec as was the ancient
custom. Upon doing so, Melchisedec blessed Abraham. Dr. Macknight said concerning this
blessing, "The blessing here spoken of is not the simple wishing of good to others, which may be
done by inferiors to superiors, but is the action of a person authorized to declare God's intention
to bestow good upon another."12 One reason Melchisedec is considered greater than Abraham
was because he was authorized by God to declare His intentions of bestowing good upon
Abraham.
Secondly, Melchisedec was greater than Abraham because Melchisedec was the priest of the
Most High God (Hebrews 7:1, 3, 11-12, 15, 17, 21). Abraham was not a priest. He was the friend
of God, but not the priest of God. Melchisedec held an office that mediated between God and
men. Abraham did not hold an office of this type.
Finally, why did God need to change the priesthood from Aaronic to Melchisedecian? The
answer to this question is supplied by the author of Hebrews in 7:11-28. I will elaborate upon a
few of his reasons here. First of all, with the changing of the law comes a changing of the
priesthood (Hebrews 7:11-12). Under the Law of Moses, God appointed the Levitical, Aaronic
line to serve as priests. When Jesus ushered in the New Covenant, however, He needed to change
the priesthood.
Secondly, the Aaronic priesthood was weak and unprofitable (Hebrews 7:18-19). It made nothing
and nobody perfect. Jesus on the other hand could (Hebrews 7:19, 22). The Aaronic priests could
only minister for a short time, but since Jesus lives and dies no more, He can minister as a priest
forever (Hebrews 7:23-24). The Aaronic priesthood had to be done away with because of its
flaws and shortcomings, due to the nature of the men that served in it.
Thirdly, but having to do with the reason above, was that the Aaronic priests could not save those
who came to them. Jesus on the other hand can save all that come to Him because He lives
forevermore to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:22-28).
Finally, the Levitical order of priests had to be replaced by another order because the former had
to offer sacrifices daily for their own sins before they could offer sacrifices for other's sins. Jesus
offered up His own harmless, undefiled, and separated body to God to atone for sin once and for
all. He had no need to offer up sacrifices for His own sins, but rather took other's sins upon
Himself and gave us of His righteousness, and eternal life to those who come to God through
Him (II Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 7:22-28).
Conclusion
Melchisedec seems to be an ordinary man who served as a priest and king over Salem for the
duration of his life. Jesus' priesthood is compared to his priesthood to show that one need not
come from the tribe of Levi to be a priest. In fact, the Aaronic priesthood was not as good as the
Melchisedecian priesthood. It was full of weakness. Jesus' priesthood needed to be like
Melchisedec's so He could by-pass the weaknesses of the Levitical order and save those who
come to Him. Jesus has both the office of King and Priest (which the Aaronic priesthood could
not have) like Melchisedec, and serves for life. Because of these reasons, God ordained for Jesus
to have a priesthood in the similitude of Melchisedec's, and not of Aaron.
Whoever Melchisedec is, we must be careful that we do not get so caught up in the details that
we lose sight of the author's teaching and purpose: which was to show that Jesus' priesthood is
superior to Aaron's in many ways, but especially in regards to the fact that Jesus' priesthood has
salvific power, while Aaron's did not.
He was God
William Arnold III
Melchizedek, who was he? What was he? I will attempt to demonstrate that biblically, according
to the rules of hermeneutics, if we are to interpret the bible literally that he had to be God
himself.
The Bible is somewhat vague on this person, but there are some very definitive statements made
regarding him. First of all it calls him both a priest and a king; no one else has been called both a
king and a priest except Jesus Christ. We do see from Revelation 1:6, 5:10 & 20:6 that God has
made us both kings and priests, but this is a future reference to when we will reign with him in
the kingdom of God and we will have put on immortality and incorruption. Jesus himself was not
both priest and king while he lived on this earth. It is since he has taken his place at the right
hand of God that he has become our priest. Now if Melchizedek was priest of the most high God,
and Abraham was just a man who knew God, then he apparently had more of a revelation of God
than did Abraham himself. Verse seven tells us that Melchizedek was greater than Abraham.
Why would God single out Abraham to make a people for his name and leave Melchizedek
behind? And what about the people of his "kingdom"? Surely they would have known of the true
God whom their king was priest of.
Melchizedek is then called the King of righteousness. What pray tell could this possibly mean?
Romans 3:10 says that "There is none righteous, no, not one." How much more to be the King (β
ασιλευσ − leader, ruler, king) of righteousness. The translators of the KJV, ASV, WEB, RWB,
DBY, BBE and YTL even capitalize "King" here, realizing a claim to deity in the words "King of
righteousness". Adam Clark comments:
The name Melchisedec is thus expounded in Bereshith Rabba, sec. 43, fol. 42, matsdie eth Yoshebaiv, "The Justifier
of those who dwell in him;" and this is sufficiently true of Christ, but false of Jerusalem, to which the rabbins apply
it, who state that it was originally called Tsedek, and that it justified its inhabitants.13
"The Justifier of those who dwell in him?" It is only by being in God that anyone under any
dispensation was ever justified. No one can be righteous on their own merit, and the source, the
leader, the King of this righteousness is God alone.
Then we see that he is the "King of Salem, which is (or, "by interpretation," as said before), King
of peace;" Now if this were talking about the geographical city of Salem, which later became
Jerusalem, then why go on to explain it? This letter was written to the Hebrews. They of all
people would know the meaning of the name of their holy city. Matthew, when writing to the
Jews, takes no time to explain Jewish customs and ways as does Luke. This is because the people
were already familiar with them. I believe that the writer was just giving an explanation of what
is said about Melchizedek. It is also interesting to note that Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and also
the Son of God. (The son of a king, a prince maybe?)
Now the Bible tells us that he was, "Without father, without mother, without descent, having
neither beginning of days, nor end of life;" Now, do we interpret the Bible literally or not? I
realize that "descent" (γενεαλογια), is a recorded record, or a genealogy. But that does not, in
any way take away from these other statements. In fact, if "Without father, without mother" just
means that there were no records of his father or mother then it would be redundant to say
"without descent" immediately afterwards. The Jews of this day would call someone who did not
have a written genealogy "without father", but for inspired scripture to make this claim without
at least warning us by saying "apparently", or "as was supposed"(Luke 3:23) just seems to be too
much of a stretch. Even John said "I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the
books that should be written" (John 21:25) when using figurative language. But why point out
that he was without mother, if this only means that his mother was not recorded? Women were
usually not recorded in genealogies during this time anyway. We see that not even Jesus’ mother,
(who is his only genuine tie to the human race), is recorded in his genealogy (Luke 3:23).
Now the first three "withouts" are translated so because of the Greek prefix "a-", meaning not, or
without, but in this next statement we have the word εxων (to have or possess). So this is
literally saying that he did not have a beginning or an ending. There is only One which that
describes. Saying that this does not really mean what it says is kind of like Trinitarians saying
that one doesn’t really mean one. If indeed the writer does not mean this, then what stronger
language should he have used if he did?
He goes on to say that he was "made like unto the Son of God." I do think that to say that
Melchizedek was a christophany is going beyond what scripture merits. Jesus Christ was indeed
the son of Mary. He did not exist as Jesus nor Christ prior to the incarnation. What Jesus is made
up of is his humanity through Mary in addition to his deity. There is nothing to justify any prior
existence. I have heard it said that Melchizedek was of Old Testament everything that Jesus is of
the New Testament. This is also a far stretch. Did Melchizedek also die for our sins in the Old
Testament? But to say that he was "made like unto the Son of God" really looks significant to
me. There were many people who were types of Christ, and there may be many that have a
number of various similarities, but NO ONE, ANYWHERE is said to be made like (αφοµοιοω -
to make like, to assimilate) unto the Son of God!! These are really strong words to be used of a
mere mortal. Such things were not said of Abraham, or Moses, or even Elijah or Enoch who
walked so close to God that they had to be taken out of this world!
Now I have not been able to find a commentary that concluded that he was anything more than a
mere mortal. Most follow the trend of this one:
Ver. 3. Without father, etc. - These are not stated as actual facts concerning Melchizedek. They are true so far as the
narrative of Genesis presents him to us. He is set before us without any genealogy. The writer argues from the
silence of Scripture. "The fact that Melchizedek had no recorded father or mother or lineage enhanced his dignity,
because the aaronic priesthood depended exclusively on the power to prove a direct descent from Aaron, which
necessitated a most scrupulous care in the preservation of the priestly genealogies."14
If the Bible seems to state things as actual facts when they really are not, then this leaves the
door wide open for the allegorical and the mystical method of interpretation. How do we know
what is fact and what is not? I fail to see any other example of this in scripture, except for the
book of Ecclesiastes, which portrays everything from the view of man, or "under the sun" as it
declares so many times. But this is the nature and focus of the entire book. This is the way that
the whole book was meant to be interpreted. There is nothing to suggest that the writer of
Hebrews it writing from his view as a man, so we most conclude that what was written by divine
inspiration means what it says. J. Dwight Pentecost says of the literal method of interpretation:
Inasmuch as God gave the Word of God as a revelation to men, it would be expected that His revelation would be
given in such exact and specific terms that His thoughts would be accurately conveyed and understood when
interpreted according to the laws of grammar and speech. Such presumptive evidence favors the literal
interpretation, for an allegorical method of interpretation would cloud the meaning of the message delivered by God
to man.15
The commentary goes on to say that the writer of Hebrews is using an argument from silence. In
other words, the scripture simply does not tell of his father, mother or beginning. But I don’t see
why the writer would have to be confined to the two mentions of Melchizedek in the Old
Testament. It is likely that this information was handed down by word of mouth. Nowhere does
the Old Testament declare that Jesus would be called a Nazarene, yet Matthew tells us ". . .that it
might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene," Matt. 2:23.
Furthermore, the author of Hebrews was writing under inspiration. I do not believe that God,
who has all knowledge, would inspire him to make these statements if it were not really true.
Next we are told that Melchizedek "abideth a priest continually." This word "abideth" is in the
present indicative tense, which "action is understood as taking place at the same time as the
speech."16 How could Melchizedek be a priest right now if we are told that Jesus is the high
priest? Unless he was God and God became Jesus (John 1:1, 14). Verse four tells us to consider
how great this man was since Abraham gave him a tithe. Why would that make one great? He
was a priest and the priest received tithes. But he was not a priest like the Aaronic priests,
because he is still abiding. The Aaronic priesthood was only temporary; it was only meant to be.
It’s purpose was to point the way to Christ. Once this was accomplished, it had no more use.
Jesus is now our High Priest who "abideth continually."
Finally, verse eight states "In this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one receives
them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on" (NASB). Melchizedek is here contrasted with
mortal men. The plain implication of this verse is that Melchizedek is not mortal. The continuous
force of the present tense in the word ζαω (he lives on) is fully recognized by the translation.
The point is: the Levites die, Melchizedek lives on.
Conclusion
The language of this passage does not seem to allow for any other understanding than that this
was an appearance of God Almighty in the Old Testament. Despite what problems we may have
with such an understanding, this seems to be what the scripture clearly states. We must give
exegesis priority in our understanding. Otherwise, language become a plastic medium we can
mold to fit our presuppositions. We must allow the scriptures to speak for themselves.