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Hebrews 7:1-3 – Melchizedek and Jesus

Summary

Jesus is a perpetual high priest, "according to the order of Melchizedek." Melchizedek was "king of righteousness" and "king of peace."

Analysis

Identifying Jesus as a priest after the order of Melchizedek is one of the most distinctive points of the book of Hebrews. Melchizedek is mentioned only twice in the Old Testament, once in the story of Abraham (Genesis 14:17-20) and again in Psalm 110:4. The author of Hebrews assumes that readers already know that Jesus has been raised to heavenly glory, fulfilling Psalm 110:1, "The Lord said to my lord, 'Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.'" Therefore, the exalted Christ also must fulfill Psalm 110:4, which refers to the same person: "You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." The author points out that neither Melchizedek nor Jesus fits the usual requirement that priests are to have descended from the tribe of Levi. Moreover, Jesus is the only one who has been raised from the dead to eternal glory, meaning that he alone can truly serve as a priest forever, as the psalm said. Hebrews understands that people need a priest to intercede on their behalf with God (7:25). Since Jesus is seated at God's right hand and lives forever, he is the one to whom they can turn for help.

Hebrews 7:1-3

The Priestly Order of Melchizedek

7This ‘King Melchizedek of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham as he was returning from defeating the kings and blessed him’; 2and 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’. 3Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest for ever.

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10 February 2011

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