"THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS"
The Greatness Of Melchizedek (He 7:1-10)
1. Thus far in our study, we have seen the writer mention
a. That Jesus is a priest "after the order of Melchizedek" –
He 5:9-10; He 6:20
b. It has only been a brief mention, for the dullness of the readers
required a necessary digression – cf. He 5:11-6:20
2. But now the writer returns to his theme concerning Melchizedek, in
a. Establishes the greatness of Melchizedek – He 7:1-10
b. Shows the significance of Melchizedek’s priesthood – He 7:11-19
c. Illustrates the greatness of Christ’s priesthood – He 7:20-28
3. Since this subject is "meat" compared to the "milk" of the Word
(cf. He 5:10-12)…
a. We want to approach it slowly and carefully
b. We want to allow ourselves to slowly "digest" what
is said in this seventh chapter of Hebrews
[For this reason, this lesson will limit itself to the first ten
verses, in which we read of "The Greatness Of Melchizedek". To
appreciate his greatness, we must be aware of…]
I. THE HISTORY OF MELCHIZEDEK (He 7:1-3)
A. THE HISTORICAL RECORD AS FOUND IN GENESIS 14…
1. We first read of "The Battle Of The Kings" – Gen 14:1-11
2. Lot is captured and then rescued by Abram (Abraham)
– Gen 14:12-17
3. Upon his return, Abram is met by Melchizedek – Gen 14:18
a. Who is "king of Salem" (thought by some to be Jerusalem)
b. Who is also "the priest of God Most High"
4. In this meeting, two things happen…
a. Melchizedek blesses Abram (Abraham) – Gen 14:19
b. Abram pays tithes to Melchizedek – Gen 14:20b
B. IN REFERRING TO MELCHIZEDEK, THE AUTHOR OF HEBREWS…
1. Summarizes the events in He 7:1-2
a. How Melchizedek met Abraham and blessed him
b. How Abraham gave "a tenth part of all" (i.e., tithes) to
2. Explains the meaning of his name and title – He 7:2
a. The name "Melchizedek" means "king of righteousness"
b. The title "king of Salem" means "king of peace"
3. Makes some intriguing statements about Melchizedek…
a. "without father, without mother, without genealogy"
b. "having neither beginning of days nor end of life"
c. "made like the Son of God"
d. "remains a priest continually"
C. WHO IS THIS "MELCHIZEDEK"? (He 7:4-8)
1. Some have suggested that he was
a. An angel (Origen, Didymus)
b. Enoch (Husius, Calmet)
c. Shem (Jerome, Luther)
2. Others have taken the statements in v.3 to suggest that
Melchizedek was a "theophany" (a pre-incarnate appearance of
Christ), for the following reasons
a. The name Melchizedek, meaning "king of righteousness" (v.2)
b. The designation "king of peace" (v.2)
c. The possibility that the lack of recorded genealogy
mentioned in v.3 is due to actual lack of ancestors, rather
than the mere absence of historical record
d. He is said to remain "a priest continually" (v.3c)
e. He is contrasted with "mortal men" (v.8a)
f. Of him "it is witnessed that he lives" (v.8b)
3. Most understand that he was simply a man (note v.4),
but because he appears suddenly in Scripture as a priest…
a. With no mention of parentage or genealogy
b. With no mention of his birth or death
c. With only a mention of him as a priest of "God Most High"
…that he is a "type" of Christ, and what His priesthood
would be like
[While the true identity of Melchizedek may remain a mystery because of
the brevity of scriptural information, his importance as it relates to
the superiority of Christ’s priesthood becomes very clear as we
II. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF MELCHIZEDEK (He 7:4-10)
A. MELCHIZEDEK RECEIVED TITHES FROM ABRAHAM (4-6a)
1. Abraham paid a tenth to Melchizedek
2. Just as the nation of Israel would later pay a tenth to the
sons of Levi
— Thus Abraham, great as he was, showed his deference to
B. MELCHIZEDEK BLESSED ABRAHAM (6b-7)
1. Melchizedek blessed him "who had the promises" (Abraham)
2. There is no dispute that "the lesser is blessed by the better"
— Thus Melchizedek is clearly "better" than Abraham
C. MELCHIZEDEK’S SERVICE WAS NOT AFFECTED BY DEATH (v 8)
1. In the priesthood under the Jewish system (i.e., the Levitical
or Aaronic priesthood), tithes were received by "mortal men"
(whose service ended at death)
2. But it has been recorded that Melchizedek "lives"("remains a
priest continually" – He 7:3)
3. How he lives and remains a priest continually, the Bible does
— But in this way, Melchizedek is greater than the Levitical
priests (a point made concerning Jesus later in the chapter)
D. EVEN LEVI PAID TITHES TO MELCHIZEDEK (Vs 9-10)
1. Levi was "in the loins of his father" Abraham when
Melchizedek met him
2. Thus Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes "through Abraham,
so to speak"
— Again illustrating the greatness of Melchizedek, as one
greater than Levi
1. There is a lot more to know about Melchizedek…
a. Was he a "theophany", a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ?
b. Was he is an angel? Enoch? Shem?
c. Was he simply a man?
1) One whose Biblical record is such that he serves as a "type"
2) If so, it would be nice to know where he came from, and how he
came to be "priest of God Most High"
d. How does he remain a priest continually?
2. But what we do know is this…
a. Jesus is "a priest forever according to the order of
Melchizedek", as God swore He would be in Psa 110:4
b. Melchizedek is clearly presented to be greater than
Abraham and Levi
Understanding "The Greatness Of Melchizedek" helps prepare us to
appreciate the superiority of Christ’s priesthood over the Levitical
(Aaronic) priesthood, which we will consider later.