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Let us now look at the scripture of Hebrews, which, while shedding the most light on the nature of Melchizedek, does so in such a cryptic way as to make him even more mysterious.
Hebrews 7:1-28: This Melchizedek was King of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, 2 and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means "king of righteousness"; then also, "King of Salem" means "king of peace." 3 Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.
4 Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! 5 Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people-that is, their brothers-even though their brothers are descended from Abraham. 6 This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater. 8 In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. 9 One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, 10 because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.
11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come-one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law. 13 He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is declared:
"You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."
18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: 'You are a priest forever.'"
22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.
23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
26 Such a high priest meets our need-one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
The verse I would like to focus on is 3, and I would like to present it as it appears in several different bible translations:
Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever. - New International Version
Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life but made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually. - King James Version
He has no father, no mother or ancestry, and his life has no beginning or ending; he is like the Son of God. He remains a priest forever. - Jerusalem Bible
He had no father or mother and no family tree. He was not born nor did he die, but being like the Son of God, is a perpetual priest. - Phillips Modern English
He is without father or mother or genealogy, and has neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God, he continues a priest forever. - Revised Standard Version
He has no father, no mother, no lineage; his years have no beginning, his life no end. He is like the Son of God; he remains a priest for all time. - New English Bible
Melchizedek had no father or mother, and there is no record of any of his ancestors. He was never born and he never died but his life is like that of the Son of God - a priest forever. - Living Bible
There are those who argue that when scripture says Melchizedek had no father, mother, or descent, that it doesn't really mean that he had no father, mother, or children, but that his genealogy was unimportant. His parents were not distinguished. He had no pedigree.
While you might be able to get such a meaning by reading only the beginning of the verse about having no father, mother, or descent, you cannot ignore the rest of the verse simply because it does not support your view. Namely, it goes on to say that he was not born and he did not die. How do you explain that?
Do you say that the bible has erred again, by not telling us exactly what it meant, and that it was just that his birth was plain and ordinary, and a story not worthy of merit? That he died in obscurity?
This type of "explanation" undermines the authority of the bible as the Word of God. It doesn't do a very good job in the way of explanation, either. It does not answer the question of how perfection can be attained through a mere man. It only raises more questions, leaving the nature of Melchizedek shrouded in more mystery than ever, and is a blatant example of twisting scripture to make it support your own theory.
What is far more likely, is that the bible has told us exactly what it meant. Melchizedek was never born, which is why he never had a father or mother. He never died, which explains why he is a priest forever.
When you read several different translations of a particular passage, it helps you to understand the flavor of the language, short of going back to the original Greek. This we have already done, and they make it clear that this Melchizedek was never born, nor did he die. He had no father, mother, or children.
Let us now see if we can learn anything more from the original Greek.
I will use for reference, the King James Version of the scripture.
Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life but made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually.
The word "descent" used here is "agenealogetos", which comes from "A", the first letter of the alphabet, and also from the word "genealogeo", which means "to trace in genealogy, to count by descent". It means "unregistered as to birth; without descent".
Melchizedek had no "A", or in other words, no beginning. If you wanted to trace his genealogy, you would have no starting point to do so. It doesn't mean that he had a birth, but it was just unregistered. It means that he had no birth to register. He had no beginning.
You could word the scripture like this: "Without father or mother, without a beginning…"
The word "beginning" used here (from 'beginning of days') is "arche", which means "a commencement or chief; also a magistrate, power, principality, rule". If he had no beginning of days, then according to the original language, this means that his beginning had no commencement, his beginning had no beginning. It had no chief. If I said there was a chief of my beginning, who would it be? It would be my father. Melchizedek had no chief.
To build on our verse, it could be read like this: "Without father or mother, without a beginning, having no person in charge of the beginning of…"
The word "days" is "hemera", meaning "the time space before dawn or dark, or the whole 24 hours. By context it can mean 'age, always, daily, forever, time, while, years, or judgement'. The word is used with an implied meaning of 'hora', which means 'hour, day, instant, season, or time'".
In other words, it means "the 24 hours that make up the day and night, implying a certain type of time, such as an hour, a day, an instant, etc".
When we look at the context of the scripture, the bible is making a statement concerning Melchizedek's genealogy. Therefore the meaning intended by the word "hemera" in this passage is "life".
Our verse would then read; "Without father or mother, without a beginning, having no person in charge of the beginning of his life…"
Scripture seems to be doing its best to hammer home the point that Melchizedek did not have a father or mother, that he had no beginning. It is repeating the same statement over and over again in different ways.
1. He had no father or mother.
2. He had no beginning.
3. There was no person in charge of the beginning of his life.
This could not possibly be made any clearer. Those who choose to believe that Melchizedek had a father and mother, etc, are simply refusing to believe scripture.
Just as those who refuse to believe in the Creation of the World choose instead to believe in Evolution from Algae, so too, are people unwilling to believe in the "impossibility" of a man who was never born even though that is what the bible says, and couldn't possibly make any clearer.
The word "end" is "telos", meaning "the point aimed at as a limit, the conclusion of an act or state". This obviously means "an ending".
We can add to our verse: "Without father or mother, without a beginning, having no person in charge of the beginning of his life, nor an ending point to…"
The word "life" is translated from the word "zoe", which means "life, or lifetime". Again, it means what it says.
Here is our verse: "Without father or mother, without a beginning, having no person in charge of the beginning of his life, nor an ending point to his lifetime…"
The word "made" is "aphomoioo" which means "to assimilate closely, make like". It comes from the word "apo" meaning "off", and the word "homoioo" which means "to become similar, be made like, in the likeness, resemble".
Melchizedek "assimilated - someone - closely", he "became similar" to someone. He was "made like" someone. He "resembled" someone. Who was this person that Melchizedek was patterned after?
Our final verse reads: "Without father or mother, without a beginning, having no person in charge of the beginning of his life, nor an ending point to his lifetime, but looked like the Son of God, and is a priest forever."
Hold everything! Melchizedek assimilated, or absorbed Jesus Christ! He was created like Jesus Christ! He resembled, or looked like Jesus Christ!
Melchizedek was a copy! He was a copy of Jesus Christ!
How could this be? Melchizedek was on this earth long before Jesus was. How could Melchizedek be created as a copy of Jesus? Wouldn't Jesus have to resemble Melchizedek? Isn't that, in fact, what the bible told us in Hebrews 7:15 (And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears)?
If this is confusing or seems contradictory to you, examine the following scriptures:
1) John 8:57, 58 - "You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen Abraham!" Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
2) Revelation 13:8 - All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast-all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.
The Pharisees had the same problem with Jesus coming before Abraham, that you might be having with Jesus coming before Melchizedek. If you will notice, however, Abraham and Melchizedek were contemporaries. If Jesus came before Abraham, then in the natural course of things, it follows that he also came before Melchizedek. The only difference is that Melchizedek was never born. That being the case, how can Jesus have come before him?
The bible also says that the Lamb (Jesus) was slain at the creation of the world. How can this be?
It can be difficult to understand how Jesus could exist before Melchizedek and Abraham, and how Jesus could be crucified at Calvary and also at the creation of the world.
2nd Peter 3:8 says: But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
Leviticus 26:8 - Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you.
Deuteronomy 32:30 - How could one man chase a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, unless the LORD had given them up?
These scriptures show us that the laws of man have no authority over God. If 1 day to God is as 1,000 of our years, then 1,000 of our years should equal 365 billion years to God. But the bible says that 1,000 of our years equal 1 day to God.
This scripture is not trying to give us a formula for converting our time to God's time. It is simply trying to tell us that time means nothing to God.
The next scriptures tell us that 5 holy men can take on 100 men in battle. Man's wisdom would say then that 100 holy men could handle 2,000 men. But God says that 100 holy men can handle 10,000 men!
If one man is able to send 1,000 men running, then 2 holy men should be able to put 2,000 men to flight. But God says that 2 holy men can put 10,000 to flight.
How do the two scriptures in Leviticus and Deuteronomy correlate with each other? Why does Deuteronomy say that it takes 5 men to defeat 100, when Leviticus says only 1 man can handle 1,000?
Just as we are unable to come up with a formula for the time of God, neither can we come up with a formula that will explain God's math.
We aren't supposed to understand.
Isaiah 55:8,9 ("For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. 9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.").
1st Corinthians 1:25 (For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.).
1st Corinthians 1:27 (But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;).
The purpose of these scriptures is to let us know that God transcends our rules. He can accomplish anything He desires, and it doesn't matter what our laws of physics say.
The bottom line, is that Melchizedek was a copy, a replica of Jesus Christ. Never mind trying to figure out how this can be so, it just Is.
So what was the nature of Melchizedek? Was he Jesus Christ? Was he God? Was he just a man? Was he an angel? Or was he something else?
Melchizedek was not Jesus Christ. He was a replica of Jesus Christ, but he was not the "real thing". Melchizedek did not die for our sins. We are not saved through our Lord Melchizedek Christ. He was a type and shadow of Jesus, but he was not Jesus.
Melchizedek was not God. He praised God in Genesis 14. He worshipped God. He served God. He was a priest of God. He was not God.
Melchizedek was not just a man. He was not born, and he did not die. Perfection is not attainable through Man. If he were a "born" man, then he would be born into sin along with the rest of us. Perfection was attainable through him. (But not actually attained, since he did not die for the sins of the world).
Melchizedek was not an angel. We cannot obtain perfection through angels. Melchizedek was a king of a city, and a priest of God. We do not have scripture for saying that angels are kings and priests. Who does the bible call kings and priests? Christian believers. (Revelation 1:6 - And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.); also Revelation 5:10 (And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.).
What does the bible call angels? Hebrews 1:14 (Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?) - They are Ministers.
It was said of Jesus in Hebrews 2:17 that (For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.)
If Jesus and Melchizedek are two peas in a pod, then what is true of Jesus has to be true of Melchizedek. Therefore, if Jesus was made like his brothers in every way, then so was Melchizedek, meaning Melchizedek was human, not angelic.
Perfection was attained through Jesus Christ, but it was attainable, or in other words, it could have been obtained through Melchizedek. If perfection was only possible through the perfect life of a human, as this passage says that it was, and since perfection was possible through Melchizedek, he had to be human.
The sacrifice of an angel would not have brought us perfection, only the death of a blameless man could accomplish that. Since man was born into sin, man on his own could never become a perfect sacrifice. God would have to intervene. He would have to arrange for a sinless man to come into the world. He did. That man was Jesus Christ, for whom Melchizedek was an exact look-alike.
So who was this Melchizedek?
The bible calls him a "man" in Hebrews 7:4 (Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.).
Are we to just discount this and go on?
Of course not. What we need to do is to unearth the truth of this.
The original Greek word used here is "tis", which is an indefinite pronoun meaning "some person or object, any person or object, a kind of man or thing, partly man".
It is not the word "anthropoktonos" which means "man-faced, a human being".
Nor is it the word "anthropimos" which means "human, common to man, mankind, after the manner of men".
These two words are Greek terms used to specifically refer to a human being. The word used here in Hebrews to describe Melchizedek is not such a term. Instead, it is simply an indefinite pronoun, which could mean "he, she, or it". This word that the King James Translators translated as "man" does not prove Melchizedek was a human being.
Specifically, the verse could read "consider how great he was", or "consider how great this person was", or "consider how great this kind of man was", or "consider how great this part of man was".
Conclusion: the word "man" used here was not utilized for the purpose of proving that Melchizedek was a mortal human. It was an inexact designator which meant "he, she, or it". Knowing this, we don't have to classify Melchizedek as a mere mortal. The word "man", then, is not discounted, but researched and understood.
However, if perfection could only be attained through the sacrifice of a man, (Hebrews 2:17) then Melchizedek had to be a man in some way, just as Jesus was a man.
If we use the pattern of Jesus, of which Melchizedek was a copy, we see that he was both fully man, and fully God. Just as Jesus was a man with a soul, but also fully God, so was Melchizedek both soul and Spirit. If perfection was attainable through Melchizedek, then he had to have been Man, and he had to be without sin. In this way, he was just like Jesus Christ.
1st Timothy 3:16 sums it up when it says:
Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great:
He appeared in a body,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory.
This passage is speaking of Jesus, but you can see the reflection of Melchizedek in the words. If you take out the passages unique to Jesus Christ as the Messiah (which Melchizedek was not), you would have:
Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great:
He appeared in a body,
was taken up in glory.
This is how it came to be that he had no father or mother, no beginning of days, nor end of life.
Who was this Melchizedek? He was a Son of God.
There are only three people described in the bible as being a "Son of God". These are Adam, (Luke 3:38 - the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.), Jesus (Matthew 14:32 - Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."), and Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:3 - Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.).
Remember that the word "like" used here in Hebrews 7:3 in the NIV means "to assimilate closely, to be made in the likeness, to resemble". He looked like The Son of God because he was a Son of God.
Not only was Melchizedek made to look like Jesus, Jesus appeared to look like Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:15). The two looked alike. They were Sons of God.
Why was Adam called a Son of God? Because God fathered him. Adam had no father or mother, just like Melchizedek.
Jesus, as God, had no beginning of days, just like Melchizedek.
Jesus, through his resurrection, had no end of days, just like Melchizedek.
Here you can see the relationship between all three Sons of God. Does this mean God has only three sons? Does he have more? Anything is possible, but the bible only reveals these three: the Sinner, the Pattern, and the Savior.
What about when John calls Jesus "the only begotten Son of God"? This is correct. A person is begotten when they are born. Jesus was the only Son of God who was born of a woman. Adam was not born of a woman, and Melchizedek was not born of a woman. So the appellation "only begotten Son of God" is quite appropriate.
To try to use this to say that God only has one Son would be foolish, when the bible clearly calls Adam the Son of God, as well. Jesus was not the only Son of God, he was the only begotten Son of God.
Interesting that Melchizedek was called the King of Peace (Hebrews 7:2), and Jesus was called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus was like Melchizedek and Melchizedek was like Jesus. Melchizedek had no beginning and no ending and Jesus had no beginning or ending. Melchizedek had no father or mother, and Adam had no father or mother. Melchizedek was a type of Jesus Christ, and Jesus was called the second Adam. All three were created in the image of God.
Here's the clincher: Jesus told the Pharisees in John 8:56 - Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
How was it that Abraham saw the day of the Son of God? He saw Jesus through the pattern of the Son of God, in Melchizedek, on the day he met him after returning from the defeat of the kings to the Valley of Shaveh, when praise was given to God and they were glad.
Melchizedek: A Son of God, and the pattern of Jesus Christ.
And so, a very difficult study reaches its conclusion through the thorough investigation of shrouded scripture. There were very few cold and hard facts to follow up. Clues hidden in scriptural whispers, ephemeral glimpses of watery reflections, trailers of mist, and wisps of smoke were our constant companions as we struggled to determine the truth, and form solid fact from the ghostly tendrils of insubstantiality.
In the end, it is still hard to describe this Melchizedek. Of what nature was he? We know what he wasn't. He wasn't God. He wasn't Jesus Christ, he wasn't an angel, and there was much more to him than mere humanity. How can we classify him? In which category would we put him? He doesn't fit any known category because he is a unique person, and therefore a description of his nature must suffice: a man fathered by God, a type of Jesus Christ through whom perfection could have been attained but was not, who appeared in a body and was taken back into glory, a King of Peace, a Priest of God Most High, the original model for tithing, and one who was greater than Abram.
A most remarkable man. And yet, not a man.
A replica of Jesus Christ. And yet, not Jesus the Messiah.
Having the attributes of God, and yet, not God.
Unborn like the angels. And yet, not an angel.
We have run out of categories. Is he animal? Is he plant? What else can we say? How else can we classify him?
For lack of a better category, we call him Son of God.
And when we meet him in glory, we will know more fully.
Chad J. McCoy
Dark Savant Ministries
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