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Melchizedek a Type of Christ.
In this chapter Paul expounds the nature of Christ's High Priestly ministry. The story of Melchizedek is found in Genesis chapter fourteen and is intended to be a foreshadowing of the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. This "King Melchizedek of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham as he was returning from defeating the kings and blessed him".
As Abraham returned from rescuing Lot's family from the invading armies of Elam and its allies, having defeated them and taken a great deal of spoil, he was met by Melchizedek, the King of the nearby city of Salem who had come out to greet him. This man was regarded as a priest of the true God, the most high God. Knowing that Abraham too was a godly man, and that he had succeeded on his errand with God's help, Melchizedek blessed him in the name of God.
2. And to him Abraham apportioned "one-tenth of everything." His name, in the first place, means "king of righteousness"; next he is also king of Salem, that is, "king of peace."
Abraham then gave Melchizedek one tenth of the spoil, thus recognizing his priestly ministry. But it is not the history of the incident on which Paul dwells, but on the way it prefigures the Lord Jesus Christ and reveals to us the nature of his priesthood. For instance, the name Melchizedek means King of righteousness, and the word Salem means peace, so he was the king of peace. Clearly these titles are typical of the Jesus Christ.
3. Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.
Furthermore, in the Genesis narrative we are not given Melchizedek's genealogy - there are no details of his father or mother, or of his origin. It is as if he appears from no where and furthermore we are given no details of his death. In this way too he pre figures God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is without beginning of days or end of life, and remains a priest forever (Rev. 1:8).
By comparing Melchizedek's ministry to that of the Levites, Paul demonstrates how Christ's priesthood is superior to theirs.
4-6. See how great he is! Even Abraham the patriarch gave him a tenth of the spoils. And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to collect tithes from the people, that is, from their kindred, though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man, who does not belong to their ancestry, collected tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had received the promises.
Abraham, the Father of the Jewish nation, considered Melchizedek so great that he presented tithes to him. In the law God commanded the sons of Levi to take a tenth from their fellow Israelites. But this man who was not descended from Levi had no right to tithes according to the law. Yet Abraham paid them and so his right to receive tithes must have been based on a principle superior to the law. One might even say that Levi paid him tithes, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him (v9,10).
6-7. But this man, who does not belong to their ancestry, collected tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had received the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior.
Furthermore, Melchizedek blessed Abraham. It is always the case that the greater man blesses the lesser. So Melchizedek is regarded as greater than Abraham, the Father of the Jewish nation, to whom God gave the promises. NB Contrary to what some commentators suggest, this man was not Jesus Christ in some pre incarnate form, but a true worshipper of God alive at the time. Paul's point is that he is set forth in scripture as a figure for Christ.
8 - 10. In the one case, tithes are received by those who are mortal; in the other, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.
In the law those who received the tithes were subject to death. But in this instance, they were received by one whom the scripture declares to be ever living. Indeed, so great is he that the Levites might be said to have paid tithes to him, since they did so in Abraham their ancestor. Paul's aim s to show that Christ's priestly ministry excels that of the Levitical priesthood.
11. Now if perfection had been attainable through the levitical priesthood--for the people received the law under this priesthood--what further need would there have been to speak of another priest arising according to the order of Melchizedek, rather than one according to the order of Aaron?
Here is the point of what Paul is saying. He is expounding the verse Psalm 100:4 "You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." If perfection (a right relationship with God leading to eternal life) could be attained by the law, that is, under the Levitical priesthood, why would God later speak of another priest called after the order of Melchizedek and not after the order of Aaron.
12. For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.
But since God has called another priest in this way, it is clear that the Levitical priesthood has been superseded, and so has the law which ordained the priesthood.
13-14. Now the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.
This is made even clearer by the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ did not come from the tribe of Levi but the tribe of Judah, from which tribe no man ever officiated at the altar and about which tribe Moses said nothing in relation to the priesthood.
15 - 17. It is even more obvious when another priest arises, resembling Melchizedek, one who has become a priest, not through a legal requirement concerning physical descent, but through the power of an indestructible life. For it is attested of him, "You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek."
Christ was not made priest after the regulation of a commandment about his ancestry, but by God himself who said "you are a priest forever..". Therefore Jesus, the beginning and the end, remains a prist by virtue of the power of his endless life (Rom. 6:9 ; 2 Tim. 1:10)
18. There is, on the one hand, the abrogation of an earlier commandment because it was weak and ineffectual.
The ceremonial law related to the worship and service of God. But it was set aside, since it was not fit for the purpose of bringing men and women into a right and full relationship with God. But that is exactly what Jesus Christ does.
19. For the law made nothing perfect; there is, on the other hand, the introduction of a better hope, through which we approach God.
The law did not bring righteousness and peace, but Jesus Christ did (Rom. 3:21-22 ; Rom. 5:1 ; Col. 1:20). God brought his only Son into the world that we might have an assurance or certain hope of eternal life (1 Tim. 1:1) It is through Him and by faith in Him that we draw near to God.
20 -21. This was confirmed with an oath; for others who became priests took their office without an oath, but this one became a priest with an oath, because of the one who said to him, "The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, 'You are a priest forever'".
None of the Levitical priests were appointed an oath as Christ's was. Christ's priesthood is as superior as it is unchanging, for "The Lord has sworn and will not repent - You are a priest forever."
22. Accordingly Jesus has also become the guarantee of a better covenant.
This fact demonstrates how much more Jesus has been made the bond of a better covenant.
23 - 25. Furthermore, the former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office. But he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
Under the law, there were many priests, since each one was replaced by reason of death. But no one will ever need to take over Jesus role as our high priest. Since his life does not end, his ministry will never be modified nor abate in efficacy. This means that Christ is able to save completely and forever all that come to God through him, by faith, since he lives forever to intercede for them and act as their surety (guarantor).
26. For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.
Christ is all that we need a high priest to be. He is holy - sacred, pure and right in the sight of God ; harmless - innocent of all wrongdoing ; undefiled - untainted by the world ; separate from sinners in that he does and knows no sin ; and he is exalted far above the heavens.
27. Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for His own sins, and then for those of the people; this He did once for all when he offered Himself.
Unlike the Levites he does not need to stand daily offering sacrifices first for his own sins and then for the people's to appease God's wrath for He, the sinless One, offered himself for sinners once for all on the cross to take away our sins and reconcile us to God.
28. For the law appoints as high priests those who are subject to weakness, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.
The law appointed mortal men as priests, but the oath God gave after the law has consecrated His only begotten Son to this office eternally.
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