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Chapter Five

Melchizedek, Christ, Eternal Priesthood

There are two groups: Those who say No and those who say yes.  What is the logic in both? 

Jesus was not Melchizedek

That Melchizedek was not the same person as Jesus is evident in that he is said to be "like unto" the Son of God (Heb. 7:3c). The participle aphomoioo denotes a comparison (e.g., a "copy" or "facsimile" - J.H. Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon, Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark, 1958, pp. 89-90). The term becomes irrelevant if the two persons were the same in identity.

A distinction between Christ and Melchizedek is vividly seen in Psalm 110, where Jehovah addresses David’s "Lord" (Jesus) in the second person, while the reference to Melchizedek is in the third person (v. 4). [Note: See Matthew 22:42-44 for Jesus’ application of this psalm to himself.]

If we accept this argument we need to justify the statements about “without father and mother without descent” and without “beginning and end” as we have indicated earlier.

Holy Spirit was Melchizedek

  1. King of Salem
  2. Priest of the Most High God
  3. King of Righteousness
  4. King of Peace
  5. Without father, without mother
  6. Without genealogy
  7. Without beginning of days
  8. Without end of life
  9. Made like unto the Son of man
  10. Abide as a Priest continually
  11. Greater than Abraham
  12. He lives
  13. The Levitical priesthood paid tithes to Melchizedek , indirectly in the loins of Abraham
  14. After the power of an endless life

If all these characteristics are to be fulfilled, it can only be only be one of the trinity. Melchizedek was Priest of the Most High God [God the Father]; therefore Melchizedek was not God the Father.  In a sense the second person is called Son and therefore has a father and mother – the Father and Holy Spirit.  Holy Spirit is female gender in Aramaic and the Old Testament Sophia (Wisdom) is represented as female in Proverbs.

He could be the Holy Spirit.   Melchizedek was the Third Person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, appearing in human form to Abraham in that dispensation, just as Jesus, the Second Person of the Godhead, also appeared in human form, or in the form of an Angel, to Abraham and to the people of the Old Testament dispensation as well. However Melchizedek was not just a messenger to Abraham but was also a resident King of Salem. If we assume that the Holy Spirit incarnated in Melchizedek all conditions are met, though it is difficult to assume that Holy Spirit need an incarnation.  The usual concept is that Holy Spirit indwells in the Temple of God which is the human body.   That is what Holy Spirit does in the New Testament Dispensation.  This will therefore lead to the concept of Holy Spirit taking control of a saintly willing person - a Prophet and a Priest - and dwell among a people whom he instructs and leads in worship.  The Holy Ghost is a Person really distinct as such from the Father and the Son; He/She is God and consubstantial with the Father and the Son. He is the Spirit of God, and at the same time the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9); because He is in God, He knows the deepest mysteries of God (I Corinthians 2:10-11), and He possesses all knowledge. "The Spirit helps us in our weakness,” Paul says, "for we do not know how to pray as we ought..." (Romans 8, 26) There is also the strong relation between worship and the Holy Spirit.  Without the action of the Spirit connecting us with Christ, who absorbs and perfects our worship and presents it to God on our behalf, all of our prayer and praise and worship would be unworthy and sinful.  Our worship is made holy by Christ in the Spirit. Thus, worship must be understood as the appropriate relationship between creature and Creator, a relationship directed towards the Father through the Son, who worships perfectly, in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Thus the Holy Spirit is the true High Priest.

Jesus was Melchizedek

The other alternative is: Melchizedek is Jesus.  Who else can be like unto a Son? Although angels are “without father, without mother” - and “without descent or genealogy” - yet they cannot be said to be “without beginning of days”. He is a divine appearance and a prophetic foreshadowing of the Christ. Melchizedek is then the pre-existent Christ, before incarnation.  Because Melchizedek is the Son of God, he is "a priest perpetually." Christ's priesthood is a continuation of, the priesthood of Melchizedek.  We are not faced with two priests here, but only one. Christ’s priesthood is well attested. 

There are indications that Jesus met Abraham. This is indicated in the verse, “Before Abraham was, I Am" (John 8:58).  

Every priest taken from among men is ordained to serve on behalf of men in things pertaining to God so that he may offer gifts and sacrifices for sin. No one takes this honor to himself; he must be called of God, as Aaron was (Hebrews 5:1, 4). So also, Christ did not glorify Himself to be made a high priest, but He who said to Him, "You are My Son, today I have begotten You" said also in another place, "You are a priest forever, after the order  of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 5:5).

The argument against it is this.  If so, was Melchizedek a man?  How do we define man?  Hebrews 7:15, 16 reads, "And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become such, not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life." Now, because it is according to the power of an indestructible life, it is witnessed of Him that He is a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 7:17). Thus Melchizedek entered into the history as a man (in flesh or out of flesh) and ruled in Salem and disappeared.  Again, the priesthood of Christ is the extension, and the New Testament realization, of the priesthood of Melchizedek. That is the only way we may understand Christ's priesthood as being "according to the order of Melchizedek." 

If Christ and Melchizedek are one and the same, we are faced with the implications that Christ appeared to Abram in Genesis 14; and he was the King of Jerusalem where he had followers and a Christian Church existed even in the day of Abram, although not referred to in our Scriptures. This pre-incarnate Jesus actually used bread and wine as offering even before the crucifixion. Was there salvation without cross?  Did he enter the holy of holies without blood?

The caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found yielded a series of thirteen fragments on Melchizedek. (I have quoted one scroll earlier in full.)  From these, it appears the belief that Melchizedek was the Messiah was a strongly held conviction among the Qumran community, as well as among some other Jewish and Gnostic sects in the first century A.D.

In the MELCHIZEDEK TRACTATE (NHC IX 1) found in the Coptic Gnostic Library of Nag Hammadi, which  explicitly rejects the  docetic interpretation of Jesus (IX 1, 5.1-10) focuses on apocalyptic  eschatology (IX 1, 26). Here Melchizedek is presented as an Exalted Patriarch, an Archangel, the Divine Warrior and Eschatological High Priest and it is he who enacts the Consummation Pattern.  Then Melchizedek and Jesus Christ are identified.

If Melchizedek was indeed not Christ, How can he be an Eternal Priest?

Then either there exist two eternal priests, Christ and Melchizedek or we have two mediators and there are two ways of approach to God - one without blood and the other with blood.  The whole atonement argument of the New Testament will be then void. Hence the only possible explanation is that the eternal order refers to the priesthood office and not to the person. There exists an order by which Jesus the first born of them automatically become a priest.  What is this order?

 The Christian Gnostics considered Melchizedek a savior-god higher than Jesus: "Melchizedek was the savior for angels, while Christ was only the savior for men." 

But there is a solution to this problem in terms of the Sonship

What is this eternal order of Melchizedek? 

Exo 19:5  Now therefore, if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples; for all the earth is mine,

Exo 19:6  and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel."

 

1Pe 2:9  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

The existence of a priest necessitates the existence of a religion or religious order.  Priesthood has as a central duty - the offering of gifts and sacrifices for sin. This is a piece of information that must lead us to begin considering that Melchizedek had a “religion” and belonged to a religious “order” prior even to Abram.  This religion evidently worshipped and had the revelation of YHVH.  This will be satisfied with equating Shem with Melchizedek as we discussed earlier.

 The Bible says that every priest is appointed on behalf of men to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. (Heb.5.1) Under the eternal priesthood of Christ, there has only been one true sacrifice for sins, and that was the sacrifice of Christ, Himself, on behalf of mankind throughout all ages. There is no other way to the Father. There is no other sacrifice for sins. If there were, Christ died in vain. Somehow, then, this must have been part of the religious order of Christ even in times prior to His actual death and resurrection.  (http://www.melchizedek.com/melchizedeq/melqshort.htm ) Since this has not happened Melchizedekian religion looked forward to this in a way and was far superior to the Hebrew revealed religion, worship and rituals.  We know that this ritual included the communion using bread and wine.  We do not know whether it involved animal sacrifice.

The Order of Melchizedek becomes, therefore, synonymous with “sonship” under God. Sonship is offered to man as well.

John 1.12 says that “as many as received Him, to them gave He the power to become sons of God, even to those who believe on His name.”

Salvation is described in terms of being “adopted as sons through Christ,” (Ephesians 1.5). Once adopted as sons, believers are described as a “royal priesthood,” (1 Peter 2.9). Therefore, in the same way that Christ was made a priest through Sonship, so also is mankind made priests through adoption into sonship through Christ.

The writer of Hebrews describes Christ as having been perfected in conformity with the Order of Melchizedek. The perfection of Christ is described as part of the Order of Melchizedek. This perfection is described in 1 John 3.2 where it says “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.” Thus the writer of Hebrews describes Christ as author of eternal salvation in conformity with the Order of Melchizedek.

Even in the original Israelic thought all first born of every family was considered a priest.  They were in fact redeemed against the Levites.

Num 3:12  "Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the people of Israel instead of every first-born that opens the womb among the people of Israel. The Levites shall be mine,
Num 3:13  for all the first-born are mine; on the day that I slew all the first-born in the land of Egypt, I consecrated for my own all the first-born in Israel, both of man and of beast; they shall be mine: I am the LORD."
Num 3:41  And you shall take the Levites for me--I am the LORD--instead of all the first-born among the people of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstlings among the cattle of the people of Israel."

Thus the system of priesthood based on lineage and heritage came as a result of the failure of Israel to give the first born as priests and to a much earlier understanding where everyone was supposed to be part of the Kingdom of God in communion with God.  When that failed, there came the new Levitical order.  This priesthood continued only as long as the old order is brought in.