X
    Categories: Blog

Melchizedek

Advertisement

We know, Melchizedek was a High Priest of the Jews. The author of Hebrew speaks seeks to reconcile the two sides of his account of Jesus through the concept of priesthood.

Jesus is the great High Priest, and the work of a priest is to reconcile the human race to God. But in order to do that, he must be authorized by God. There Jesus is called the Son, and we have noted that in Jewish society, to be a son was at the same time to be the agent of the father.

The prophets of old had also been agents of God, but Jesus, as the Son, is superior to the prophets.

Melchizedek

The author of Hebrews present Jesus as –

  • Sent by God, originating in God and the agent of God, and as such already present in the mind or purpose of God before his appearing in world history
  • A wholly human being who is in solidarity with all men and women

However, it has been suggested that in the two opening chapters of Hebrews the author is attacking an ‘angel’ christology’ that is to say, an interpretation of the person of Christ as an angelic being. The author points out that if Jesus Christ is to effect reconciliation as high priest, then he must have been fully and totally a human being, for only one who completely shared the human condition could be relevant to that condition and be a representative – a pioneering representative of his fellow human beings. The earthly, human, historical experience is essential to the Son in his priestly work. But a priest is not complete simply by sharing in human lot. His office is to bring something from God into that human condition, to bring grace, and hope and empowerment.

The controlling image of Jesus for the Hebrews is that of the High Priest. More specifically, it is the legendary figure of Melchizedek to whom the writer turns. According to Genesis, Abraham, on returning victoriously from a battle, was met by Melchizedek, described as the king of Salem and priest of God most high (El Elyon).

The writer of Hebrews elaborates on the figure of Melchizedek, partly by inference from the passage in Genesis, partly, it must be said, from pious imagination. King of Salem is allegorically interpreted as ‘king of peace’, while Melchizedek is rendered ‘king of righteousness (sedeq)’, and both titles are applied to Jesus.

It is argued further that Melchizedek must have been superior to Abraham, for he blessed Abraham, and it is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. Furthermore, Abraham paid him tithes.  From the absence of any details about Melchizedek in the Genesis account, Hebrews claims that 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 (7:3).

The characterization of Melchizedek

The characterization of Melchizedek is then used to establish the superiority of Christ’s priesthood over the Levitical priesthood of Israel. That levitical priesthood was tied to members of the tribe of Levi, that is to the way, it was passed on through physical descent.

Melchizedek does not have this physical link, he is without a father or mother, and this is taken to mean that his priesthood derives directly from God. The priesthood of Jesus was like that of Melchizedek, for did not God say to the messiah to be in Psalm 110, ‘Thou art a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek?’

Christ’s priestly office was indeed bestowed by God and had nothing to do with birth or ancestry, just as Matthew in his gospel indicates that descent from David is not important in spite of the genealogy at the beginning of the gospel. This is how the author of Hebrews describes the unique priesthood of Jesus Christ – in its exercise, from the Levitical priesthood, and in what respects it is superior. (John Macquarie, Jesus Christ in Modern Thought, pp. 127 – 131).

Jesus is the high priest

            Jesus’ portion regarding the temple does indeed seem at first is exclude the possibility of his ascribing to him a high priestly function. Even if the cleansing of the temple means only the pursing and not the rejection of it there are still sayings of Jesus which clearly call into question the temple cult itself-such as that in Matt. 12:6 (for example).

Advertisement

A genuine saying of Jesus about the disappearance of the temple (V) probably his behind the words which, according to the Synoptic were a ‘falls witness’ about his trial (Mk. 14:57ff) but in the Gospel of John are reputed in a different form, as words actually spoken by Jesus. (John 11:47) comparing that fact.

     But Just became Jesus has a critical attitude toward the priesthood does not mean that he could not have included the idea of the High priest in his conception of his task. It is very conceivable that Jesus on occasion applied to himself the idea of an ideal. High priest ‘after the order of the Melchizadek’, if not the title itself.

     The Epistle to the Hebrews mainly apples this title (Apxiepevs) is Jesus. The 7th chapter is the center of this epistle. Using scriptural proof (Gen 14 & Ps 110) the writer really shows that Jesus fulfills absolutely the high priestly function of Jesus.

According to the writer, the priesthood of the Old Covenant is not the last word’ but must be replaced by a final priesthood of the New Covenant. He has seen this new priesthood as realized in Jesus Christ, who is the Priest in an absolute and final scene, the fulfillment of all priesthood.

The writer finds this absolute we could say ‘fulfilled’ priesthood of Jesus already foreshadowed in the puzzling figure of Melchizedek in Gen.14. The writer then seeks to show the superiority of this Melchizedek, who points to Jesus, and the Lents, the priest of the old covenant. This is becoming the Levites have descended from Abraham but Abraham received a blessing from Melchizedek.

     Further the concept of High Priest is also connected to that of ebed Yahweh {the servants of God} and especially to the suffering Servant of God.

     In the exercise of his office the high priest offers up scarifies: that is his function. But Jesus himself is the sacrifice: he is at the same time sacrificer and sacrificed. It is precisely in offering himself  and taking the greatest humiliation upon himself that Jesus exercise the most divine function conceivable in Israel, that of the high priestly Mediator.

     We also see a further point that because Jesus himself is ‘perfect’, Jesus as the High Priest brings humanity to its ‘perfection’. ( Interestingly the another of Hebrews, as perhaps so other early Christian theologian, had the courage to speak of the man Jesus in shockingly human terms – although at the same time he emphasized perhaps more strongly than any other, the deity of the son). This is seen in the emphasis that is placed on the ability of Jesus to the tempted (Alongside the reality of this temptation is the assertion that Jesus remained sinless.). Jesus learned obedience, he was fearful Heb. 5:7

     So Hebrew is not so much interested in Jesus becoming man as in his being man. That is what really characterizes the high priestly office. The question tou Deus Houso (Anselm’s question) is answered have slowly on the basis of the idea of the High priest. He must be able to suffer with men in order to suffer for them.

  1. (Matt. 26:69- means you, have said so).
  2. He actually considered the specific ideas connected with the title as satanic temptations. (tells Peter got behind me Satan) Matt 16:23.
  3. Indecisive passages he substituted “Son of ram” for ‘Messiah’, and even set the one in opposition to the death (Luke 22:67ff Son of man as in David is even more radical.).
  4. He deliberately set the ideas relative to the embed Yahweh over against the Jews’ political conceptions of the Messiah.