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Friday, November 9, 2012

Mysterious Melchisedek

We’re introduced to this mystery guy in Genesis 14:18-20 and then we don’t hear about him again until Hebrews 7. Who was he anyway?

Here’s what we know:
  • He’s the king of Salem (peace). (Hebrews 7:1-2)            
  • He’s the priest of the most high God. (Heb. 7:1)            
  • He blessed Abraham. (Genesis 14:19-20; Heb. 7:1, 6)            
  • Abraham gave tithes to him. (Gen. 14:20; Heb. 7:2, 4, 6)            
  • He’s called the king of righteousness. (Heb. 7:2)            
  • He doesn’t have a father. (Heb. 7:3)            
  • He doesn’t have a mother, either. (Heb. 7:3)            
  • He doesn’t have any ancestors. (Heb. 7:3, 6)            
  • He doesn’t have a beginning of days nor end of his life. (Heb. 7:3)            
  • He is like the Son of God. (Heb. 7:3)            
  • He is a priest forever. (Heb. 7:3)

Was he some kind of a spooky fellow . . . I mean, no father, no mother, no birthday, no death certificate? What is this? Poof! and here’s Melchisedek! Another poof, and he’s gone!

Really, there are two possibilities. (The commentators see it this way, too.) Either Melchisedek was a real, historical person or he was a theophany (or Cristophany)—an appearance of Christ in the Old Testament. It’s impossible to say with any real assurance which one. Surely, there are good arguments both ways.

I think he was a real man in history. And, here are my reasons:
1. Jesus was called “like Melchisedek” and “after the order of Melchisedek.” (Hebrews 7:15, 17, 21) To me, if Jesus had been the same as Melchisedek, Scripture would be clear about that.
2. The Bible says that Jesus was a better high priest than Melchisedek. (Hebrews 7:28 and following in chapter 8)
3. This guy was the king of peace. Jesus was the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
4. When Abraham gave him tithes, Abraham was recognizing Melchisedek’s superiority to him, his kingship, and his priesthood. I believe Abraham thought he was a man.
5. When Abraham actually did see Christ (with two angels) in Genesis 18, he recognized him as “my Lord.” He didn’t do that with Melchisedek.
6. I think there was merely no written record of his parentage, ancestors, or parents. He may well have been an orphan. I think the same thing happened with his birthday and his day of death. (This happens all the time! We have a lady in our church right now, 2012, who has no idea how old she is. She’s obviously younger than I am, but in her country, if a child is born at home, there’s no official record. I knew another lady some years back whose records had been lost for a long time. When she found them, she found out she was five years older than she thought she was!) I think Melchisedek merely didn’t have a record of his family or birth, due to the times in which he lived.

God revealed to us as much as He wanted to reveal to us. What I think doesn’t matter, and if you differ, it’s okay with me.

These things are important:
  • Somehow, even before the Old Testament Law was given, Abraham knew to tithe.
  • God holds up Melchisedek as a righteous king and priest.
  • Jesus Christ was greater. He is our Prophet, Priest and King. All glory goes to Him!


  1. Interesting thoughts! I've leaned more toward Melchisedek being just a man as well. But as interesting as he is, Jesus is greater! Amen!

  2. Thank you, Barbara. What a great God we serve!

  3. Thanks you so much for that! Only a couple weeks or so ago I was reading about Melchisedek and wondering about him. This helps to clear up a lot of questions for me. Good study!


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