PRIESTHOOD AFTER THE
1. this Melchisedec--
The verb does not come till
king . . . priest--Christ unites these offices in
their highest sense, and so restores the patriarchal union of these
Salem--Jerusalem, that is, seeing peace; others make
Salem distinct, and to be that mentioned
the most high God--called also "Possessor of heaven and earth"
(Ge 14:19, 22).
This title of God, "the Most High," handed down by tradition from the
primitive revelation, appears in the Phœnician god "Elion," that
is, Most High. It is used to imply that the God whom Melchisedec
served is THE TRUE GOD, and not one of the gods of
the nations around. So it is used in the only other cases in which it
is found in the New Testament, namely in the address of the demoniac,
and the divining damsel constrained to confess that her own gods were
false, and God the only true God.
who met Abraham--in company with the king of Sodom
(Ge 14:17, 18).
slaughter--perhaps defeat, as ALFORD
may be translated. Arioch, king of Ellasar, lived and reigned after the
disaster [BENGEL]. However, if Chedorlaomer and
Amraphel and Tidal were slain, though Arioch survived,
"slaughter of the kings" would be correct.
blessed him--As priest he first blessed Abraham on God's part;
next he blessed God on Abraham's part: a reciprocal blessing. Not a
mere wish, but an authoritative and efficacious intercession as a
priest. The Most High God's prerogative as "Possessor of heaven and
earth," is made over to Abraham; and Abraham's glory, from his victory
over the foe, is made over to God. A blessed exchange for Abraham
(Ge 14:19, 20).
2. gave--Greek, "apportioned"; assigned as his portion.
tenth . . . of all--namely, the booty taken. The
tithes given are closely associated with the priesthood: the mediating
priest received them as a pledge of the giver's whole property being
God's; and as he conveyed God's gifts to man
"blessed him"), so also man's gifts to God. Melchisedec is a sample of
how God preserves, amidst general apostasy, an elect remnant. The
meeting of Melchisedec and Abraham is the connecting link between to
two dispensations, the patriarchal, represented by Melchisedec, who
seems to have been specially consecrated by God as a KING-PRIEST, the highest form of that primitive system
in which each father of a household was priest in it, and the
Levitical, represented by Abraham, in which the priesthood was to be
limited to one family of one tribe and one nation. The Levitical was
parenthetical, and severed the kingdom and priesthood; the patriarchal
was the true forerunner of Christ's, which, like Melchisedec's,
unites the kingship and priesthood, and is not derived from
other man, or transmitted to other man; but derived from God, and is
transmitted in God to a never-ending perpetuity. Melchisedec's
priesthood continueth in Christ for ever. For other points of
Melchisedec must have had some special consecration above the other
patriarchs, as Abraham, who also exercised the priesthood; else Abraham
would not have paid tithe to him as to a superior. His peculiar
function seems to have been, by God's special call, KING-priest whereas no other "patriarch-priest"
was also a God-consecrated king.
first being--Paul begins the mystical explanation of the
historical fact (allegorical explanations being familiar to JEWS), by
mentioning the significancy of the name.
righteousness--not merely righteous: so Christ. Hebrew
"Malchi" means king: "Tzedek,"
King of Salem--not only his own name, but that of the city which
he ruled, had a typical significance, namely, peace. Christ is
the true Prince of peace. The peace which He brings is
the fruit of righteousness.
3. Without father, &c.--explained by "without genealogy" (so the
Greek is for "without descent); compare
that is, his genealogy is not known, whereas a Levitical priest
could not dispense with the proof of his descent.
having neither beginning of days nor end of life--namely,
history not having recorded his beginning nor end, as it has the
beginning and end of Aaron. The Greek idiom expressed by
"without father," &c., one whose parentage was humble or unknown.
"Days" mean his time of discharging his function. So the
eternity spoken of in
is that of the priestly office chiefly.
made like--It is not said that he was asbsolutely "like."
Made like, namely, in the particulars here specified. Nothing is
said in Genesis of the end of his priesthood, or of his having had in
his priesthood either predecessor or successor, which, in a typical
point of view, represents Christ's eternal priesthood, without
beginning or end. Aaron's end is recorded; Melchisedec's not:
typically significant. "The Son of God" is not said to be made like
unto Melchisedec, but Melchisedec to be "made like the Son of God."
When ALFORD denies that Melchisedec was made like
the Son of God in respect of his priesthood, on the ground that
Melchisedec was prior in time to our Lord, he forgets that
Christ's eternal priesthood was an archetypal reality in God's
purpose from everlasting, to which Melchisedec's priesthood was
"made like" in due time. The Son of God is the more ancient, and is the
where the heavenly things are represented as the primary archetype
of the Levitical ordinances. The epithets, "without father," &c.
"beginning of days, "nor end," "abideth continually," belong to
Melchisedec only in respect to his priesthood, and in so far
as he is the type of the Son of God, and are strictly true of Him
alone. Melchisedec was, in his priesthood, "made like" Christ, as far
as the imperfect type could represent the lineaments of the perfect
archetype. "The portrait of a living man can be seen on the canvas, yet
the man is very different from his picture." There is nothing in the
to mark Melchisedec as a superhuman being: he is classed with the other
kings in the chapter as a living historic personage: not as
ORIGEN thought, an angel; nor as the Jews thought,
Shem, son of Noah; nor as CALMET, Enoch; nor as
the Melchisedekites, that he was the Holy Ghost; nor as others, the
Divine Word. He was probably of Shemitic, not Canaanite origin: the
last independent representative of the original Shemitic population,
which had been vanquished by the Canaanites, Ham's descendants. The
greatness of Abraham then lay in hopes; of Melchisedec, in present
possession. Melchisedec was the highest and last representative of the
Noahic covenant, as Christ was the highest and ever enduring
representative of the Abrahamic. Melchisedec, like Christ, unites in
himself the kingly and priestly offices, which Abraham does not.
ALFORD thinks the epithets are, in some sense,
strictly true of Melchisedec himself; not merely in the typical
sense given above; but that he had not, as mortal men have, a beginning
or end of life (?). A very improbable theory, and only to be resorted
to in the last extremity, which has no place here. With Melchisedec,
whose priesthood probably lasted a long period, the priesthood and
worship of the true God in Canaan ceased. He was first and last
king-priest there, till Christ, the antitype; and therefore his
priesthood is said to last for ever, because it both lasts a long time,
and lasts as long as the nature of the thing itself (namely, his life,
and the continuance of God's worship in Canaan) admits. If Melchisedec
were high priest for ever in a literal sense, then Christ and he would
now still be high priests, and we should have two instead of one (!).
THOLUCK remarks, "Melchisedec remains in so
far as the type remains in the antitype, in so far as his priesthood
remains in Christ." The father and mother of Melchisedec,
as also his children, are not descended from Levi, as the Levitical
were required to be, and are not even mentioned by Moses. The wife of
Aaron, Elisheba, the mother from whom the Levitical priests
spring, is mentioned: as also Sarah, the original mother of the Jewish
nation itself. As man, Christ had no father; as God, no
4. consider--not merely see, but weigh with attentive
contemplation, the fact.
even--"to whom (as his superior) Abraham even paid tithe
(went so far as to pay tithe) of (consisting of, literally, 'from')
the best of the spoils (literally, 'the top of the heap";
whether of corn, the first-fruits of which, taken from the top, used to
be consecrated to God; or of spoils, from the top of which the general
used to take some portion for consecration to God, or for his own
use)." He paid "tithes of ALL," and those tithes
were taken out of the topmost and best portion of the whole spoils.
the patriarch--in the Greek emphatically standing at the
end of the whole sentence: And this payer of tithe being no less a
personage than "the patriarch," the first forefather and head of our
Jewish race and nation See on
on Melchisedec's superiority as specially consecrated
king-priest, above the other patriarch-priests.
5. sons of Levi--namely, those alone who belonged to the family
of Aaron, to whom the priesthood was restricted. Tithes originally paid
to the whole tribe of Levi, became at length attached to the
according to the law--sanctioned by Jehovah
of their brethren--with whom, in point of natural descent, they
are on a level.
though, &c.--Though thus on a level by common descent from
Abraham, they yet pay tithe to the Levites, whose brethren they are.
Now the Levites are subordinate to the priests; and these again to
Abraham, their common progenitor; and Abraham to Melchisedec. "How
then, must this Melchisedec be in respect to his priesthood, as
compared with the Levitical, though the latter received tithes! and now
unspeakably great must "the Son of God" be, to whom, as the sacerdotal
archetype (in God's purpose), Melchisedec was made like! Thus compare
in the case of Melchisedec, the type, with the "consider"
(Greek, "contemplate attentively," see on
a stronger word than here) in the case of Christ, the archetype.
6. he whose descent is not counted from them--not from "the sons
of Levi," as those "who receive the priesthood." This verse explains
"without descent" (Greek, "genealogy" in both verses,
He who needs not, as the Levitical priests, to be able to trace his
genealogy back to Levi.
received--Greek, "hath received tithes."
blessed--Greek, "hath blessed." The perfect tense
implies that the significance of the fact endures to the present time.
him that had--"the possessor of the promises," Abraham's
peculiar distinction and designation. Paul exalts Abraham in order
still more to exalt Melchisedec. When Christ is the subject, the
singular "promise" is used. "The promises" in the plural, refer to
God's promise of greatness to himself and his seed, and of the
possession of Canaan, twice repeated before the blessing of
Melchisedec. As the priests, though above the people
whom it was their duty to "bless," were yet subordinate to Abraham; and
as Abraham was subordinate to Melchisedec, who blessed him, Melchisedec
must be much above the Levitical priests.
7. The principle that the blesser is superior to him whom he
blesses, holds good only in a blessing given with divine authority; not
merely a prayerful wish, but one that is divinely efficient in working
its purport, as that of the patriarchs on their children: so Christ's
8. Second point of superiority: Melchisedec's is an
enduring, the Levitical a transitory, GOTO NEXT CHAPTER - D. J-F-B INDEX & SEARCH