A friend recently asked me a few questions while studying through the Book of Hebrews. I thought the questions and my answers would make an interesting, short blog entry. You’ll find them below:
As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;Hebrews 5:6-7
1. Hebrews 5:6-7: says “thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek”. Is Paul referring to the fact Melchizedek was a type and shadow of Christ? Or, that the priesthood of Melchizedek was of the same order? I know Hebrews 5:1 talks of the priesthood of man, so is Paul simply saying Melchizedek’s and Christ’s respective priesthoods were not of man?
Yes and yes, so yes to both. Being a type/antitype means that Melchizedek foreshadowed Christ. This isn’t to be understood as a literal parallel in all ways, as a shadow is just that, an outer figure. Here are some ways Melchizedek foreshadowed Christ:
- Melchizedek was a priest, Jesus was a Priest.
- Melchizedek was a king, Jesus is a King.
- Melchizedek’s priesthood was standalone, in that he neither received it from his biological father by inheritance nor passed it on to a son.
- Melchizedek’s priesthood was superior to the Levites, as evidenced when Abraham tithed to Melchizedek while the Levites were yet in his (Abraham’s) loins.
2. In Hebrews 5:6, what is the “place” Paul is referring to? Psalms 110?
Yes, the “other place” is Psalm 110, which is a Messianic Psalm, each verse speaking of the anointed/Christ who should come. He says this because in the verse prior, he quotes Psalm 2, which foretold of the death, burial, resurrection, and reign of Christ.
For this Melchizedek…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.Hebrews 7:3
3. Is Hebrews 7:3 meant in a literal sense?
This is in reference to the lineage as a Priest. Remember, even Jesus had a mother (Mary) and was a descendant (a son) of Adam, Abraham, and David, among many others. He had no biological Father because He was God incarnate, conceived of the Holy Ghost. But he did have an ancestral lineage (and our redemption depended on it). So what this means, is that unlike the Levites which passed their priestly lineage on, Jesus’ was “standalone.”
The main point Paul is making by using the example of Melchizedek is that Jesus’ priesthood is superior to the Levitical priesthood in every way. To a Jew, they needed their priesthood to make sacrifices. Yet no Jew who was in Christ needed the Levites anymore in any way. Jesus is the only Priest we need, because with one offering, He perfected forever them that are sanctified (Hebrews 10:14).
Originally published November 2018