By Tyson Thorne

March 21, 2018
 

Hebrews 09 Large

Chapter seven begins an exposition on the superiority of Jesus, our high priest which won't conclude until chapter 10 verse 18. We'll divide this into sections that are natural in the text and lend themselves to shorter texts for our study. Section one's thesis is that it was God's unchanging purpose by oath to provide a perfect high priest to intercede forever and then save completely (7.1-28). This lesson naturally divides into two parts. Today we'll take the first section, discussing the superiority of Melchizedek's priesthood over the Levitical (verses 1-10). Tomorrow we'll discover how Jesus came into this order (11-28).

The author returns now to the theme that he began in chapter five, and hopefully you will understand my difficulty in knowing just how to approach this study. He introduced the topic in chapter five, but acknowledged in verse 11 that he doubted his readers would properly understand. He returned to the idea in chapter six, but doesn't give us the full details until now.

We are introduced to the character of Melchizedek immediately and informed that he was the king of Salem. It has been proposed that Salem was located where, centuries later, Jerusalem (which means "New Salem") would be founded. The fact Melchizedek was a king, victorious warrior, priest and is described as a king of peace and righteousness have lead many to believe he was a pre-incarnate Christ. This is one possibility. Another is that he was an angel, and finallythat he was simply a very righteous man. Unfortunately neither the author of Genesis or Hebrews tells us with any certainty.

The description in verse three lead many to believe it is conclusively Jesus prior to the incarnation, but the language used here isn't as definitive as it first appears. "He has no beginning of days nor end of life" may simply mean that there is no record of birth or death — which is true since all we know about him is a chance encounter with Abraham. "He remains a priest for all time" could also be translated as "continuously" or "uninterrupted", indicating that the priestly order he belonged to has no end. Similar language is used of David's throne. For these reasons verse three is not as compelling as first appears for those arguing that Jesus and Melchizedek are one in the same.

The truth is, there is simply not enough evidence to come down on a definitive answer. All we can say with certainty is that he is greater than Abraham. The evidence presented for this is that Abraham paid him a tribute. Since he was greater than Abraham, and Abraham, being the father of the Levites, is greater than Levi, then the order of Melchizedk is greater than the priesthood of Levi.

 

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