Summary: We explore the biblical information about Melchizedek and his relatationship to the Christ
March 16, 2003
First Church of the Brethren
H. Kevin Derr
“Melchizedek, the Royal Priest”
1This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, 2and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” 3Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.
4Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! 5Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, their brothers—even though their brothers are descended from Abraham. 6This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater. 8In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. 9One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, 10because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.
What is it that makes Melchizedek such an interesting character? Perhaps it is that there is so little written about him. He makes his appearance in Genesis 14, Psalm 110 and here in Hebrews. But very little about him is actually known. Both Philo and Josephus comment on him in their writings, so we know he was a figure who received a bit of attention in the popular literature of the day.
The author of Hebrews does not focus his attention on who his parents may have been, where he may have come from, even where he may have gone. Yet, what he does is to stress one unique qualification. What is that qualification, that he was called by God to be a priest. He did not choose this job, he did not pursue it, rather God called and appointed him as a High Priest.
I. As the author of Hebrews again returns his discussion to Melchizedek , he helps us to
understand Jesus in a different light, as the High Priest Called by God. This is the beginning of
this view of Jesus, it sets the stage, and will be developed in more depth later.
A. The Author of Hebrews writes, 1This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of
God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and
1. Melchizedek was King of Salem and priest of God Most High.
A. The author of Hebrews again identifies Melchizedek for us
B. He draws him back into the discussion
2. He also tells us what he did, After Abraham, the Author of Hebrews uses,
Abraham and not Abram, because as this point his name had not yet been
changed. Melchizedek blessed Abraham.
3. Then Vs. 2 gives us some more specific information, he writes, 2and Abraham
gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means “king of
righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.”
A. Abraham also does something here, he gives a tenth of everything, all
the plunder taken from the defeated kings and gives it to Melchizedek
B. You will notice that the author of Hebrews has done nothing but
summerize the story about Abraham and Melchizedek from Genesis 14.
C. And even in the second part of the verse he does nothing but to remind
us of meanings. Melchizedek means “King of Righteousness” and
“King of Salem” means “King of Peace”
4. This pattern of giving information continues, in Vs. 3 he tells us, 3Without
father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of
life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever
A. To be a priest, a man had to be a physical descendent of Aaron through
Levi, that covers the paternal line of the family. But it was not the only
B. The mother of a potential had to be a pure Israelite. In other words,
going back so many generations the family all had to be Israelite. The
maternal linage was just as important as the paternal.
C. If you wanted to be a priest, you had to know your genealogy. It was
essential according to the tradition of the covenant. There were some
very specific requirements that had to be met.
B. But Melchizedek was different. He has no known father or mother.
His priesthood was not dependent upon his linage, it had nothing to do
with who his parents were.