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Last updated: Sep 23, 2013
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Question: Dear Bob, could you tell me your thoughts on the mysterious "Melchizedek" of Genesis chapter 14?
Answer: Yes, I studied Melchizedek for many years, before I settled on my present understanding. There are two main "schools of thought" about Melchizedek:
One is that he was the Gentile "King of Salem", King of the area through which Abram had to travel, when he was returning from rescuing his brother Lot, and the King of Sodom, in Genesis chapter 14.
The second, is what I have come to believe, that Melchizedek was a "Christophany", an Old Testament "appearance" of Christ Himself.
Here are my reasons why I believe this. The New Testament emphatically states that Melchizedek:
--- Heb 7:3 Had no father ("apator")
--- Heb 7:3 Had no mother ("ametor")
--- Heb 7:3 Had no genealogy ("agenealogetos")
--- Heb 7:3 Had no beginning of days
--- Heb 7:3 Had no end of life
--- Heb 7:3 Just like the Son of God, (Jesus) is a Priest continually.
--- Heb 7:6 Was not from the Tribe of Levi
--- Heb 7:8 "Melchizedek", is "presently" still alive today!
This becomes even more clear, to me, when we consider the Old Testament account of "Melchizedek":
1. In Gen. 14:18, Melchizedek is said to be "King of Salem". "Salem" is the Hebrew word "Shalom" meaning "peace", so Melchizedek is the "King of Peace". Jesus is the "Prince of Peace", in Isa. 9:6, and will be the King in the Millennium.
2. "Melchizedek", in Hebrew means "King of Righteousness"! (Also see Heb 7:2). In Rev 19:11 Jesus will judge the world in Righteousness, as He takes His place as Righteous King.
3. If the Bible translators had "translated" "Melchizedek" instead of "transliterating", we probably would never have questioned who "Melchizedek" was. If we freely "translate" all the words in Gen 14:18 - 19, we read "And the King of Righteousness, who is the King of Peace, brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth."
4. The location, "Salem" I take, from Abram's route of travel, to be where "Jerusalem" was during the time of Christ, the place where Jesus was crucified, and where Jerusalem is today, and where Jesus will rule in the Millennium as the King of Righteousness and King of Peace. "Jerusalem" is "jeru" "shalom", "city of peace".
5. Also in Gen. 14:18, Melchizedek is said to be "The Priest of the Most High God". This is the first use of the word "priest" in the Scriptures. God had not instituted a priesthood yet. So, at that time, Melchizedek was the "first", and "one and only" High Priest.
a. Jesus is our "High Priest" (one and only) in Heb. 2:17, 3:1, 4:14 & 15, 5:1-10, 6:20, 7:1-26, 8:1-4, 9:7,11,& 25, and 10:21.
b. Jesus as "High Priest" is compared to Melchizedek "High Priest" in Psalm 110:4, and in Heb. 5:6&10, 6:20, and 7:1-21.
6. In Heb. 6:20 and 7:17, Jesus is said to be High Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
a. The Greek word under "order" (Strong's #5010) is "tasso", meaning "in the same manner as Melchizedek's priesthood".
b. According to Kenneth Wuest, in his book "Treasures from the Greek New Testament, the Greek phrase translated "forever" here means nothing less that "eternal", making both Jesus and Melchizedek "eternal".
7. Heb. 7:3 states that Melchizedek actually had no father, had no mother, had no beginning of days, had no end of days, but was made like the Son of God, abiding a Priest continually.
a. The Greek here rules out the interpretation that Melchizedek just had no "recorded" genealogy.
b. To me, this verse alone, in the Greek, states that Melchizedek was a Christophany and not just a man.
8. Does this then harmonize with the rest of Scripture? I would say emphatically yes:
a. Did Jesus walk on this earth, and appear as a man in Old Testament times? Yes. The New Testament teaches that Jesus is Yahweh Himself, the visible manifestation of God in the Old Testament.
b. Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity, and as such is the only visible manifestation of the infinite Triune God.
(1) 2 Cor 4:4 "Christ is the image of God".
(2) Col 1:13-17 Jesus is "the image of the invisible God".
(3) Col 2:9 In Jesus "dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (in bodily form).
(4) Heb 1:3 Jesus is the "brightness of his (God's) glory and the express image of his person".
(5) Any time the Old Testament Scriptures state that someone saw God, or "the Lord", they saw the preincarnate Christ, Jesus himself, before he was born and lived as a human being through the virgin birth.
(6) John 1:18, states that "no man hath seen God (the trinity) at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared (revealed) him". When someone is said to have SEEN God in the Old Testament, they saw the Second, or "manifest" Person, the preincarnate Christ.
c. In John 5:45 & 46 Jesus said "Moses wrote about me!".
d. The Lord God, the Hebrew "Yahweh Elohim", the "personal manifestation of God", which we call the "Second Person of the Trinity", appeared to human beings, as a man, throughout the Old Testament:
(1) Start with the Lord God walking in the Garden of Eden and talking with Adam and Eve, before and after their fall.
(2) Read Exodus 33:11, where "the Lord, Yahweh, spake unto Moses FACE TO FACE, as a man speaketh unto his friend",
(3) In Exodus 24:9-11, Moses and seventy elders of Israel "SAW the God of Israel" and ate and drank. Jesus is the visible manifestation of "The God of Israel".
(4) In Genesis 32:24-32, Jacob wrestled with a "man". The "man" changed Jacob's (supplanter, or cheater) name to Israel (Prince of God). Jacob had a bad thigh and limped the rest of his life because of the wrestling. Jacob named the place "Peniel", meaning "I have SEEN GOD FACE TO FACE, and my life is preserved."
(5) Jesus, Yahweh, was in the cloud that followed the children of Israel through the Red Sea. 1 Cor 10:4, and Exodus 14:14, 19 & 25. "The angel of God" literally means "the appearance of God". (Notice Jesus looked out of the cloud, and shot the wheels off of Pharaoh's chariots while they were in the dry bottom of the Red Sea!)
(6) I have looked up every reference to "THE Angel of God" in the Old Testament, and I believe that each occurrence is the appearance of God the Second Person, Yahweh, Jesus Himself. (References in the Old Testament to "AN angel of God", I believe, refer to an angelic being SENT by God.)
e. Most importantly, in Genesis chapter 18, a short time after Abram met Melchizedek, the Lord, "Yahweh", and two angels walked up to Abraham's tent and had dinner with Abram, and Abram recognized "Yahweh" at a distance!
(1) In Gen. 18:1, "the Lord (Yahweh) appeared unto him (Abraham) in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day."
(2) In Gen. 18:2 Abram saw three "men" and ran to meet them - Abraham recognized Yahweh at a distance!
(3) In Gen. 18:8, Yahweh and the two angels eat with Abraham.
(4) In Gen. 18:22 and 19:1, we find the two angels left to go to Sodom and Yahweh stayed behind and had a long conversation with Abraham.
(5) In Gen. 18:33, Yahweh left Abraham and "went His way".
9. So, how did Abraham recognize Yahweh at a distance in Gen. 18:1-3?
a. in Gen. 14:18-20, Abram meets Melchizedek, who I believe is a Christophany, an appearance of Yahweh to Abraham.
b. In Gen. 16:7, we have the first use of "the angel of the Lord", and He appears personally to Hagar and is called Yahweh in verse 13.
c. In Gen. 17, Yahweh appears to Abram and renames Abram and Sarai (wind bag and contentious woman) to Abraham and Sarah (father of many nations and princess). All through chapter 17, Yahweh is said to speak personally to Abraham and Sarah.
d. So, in Gen. 18:1-3, Abraham already knew the personal manifestation of God, Yahweh, and that is why Abraham recognized Yahweh at a distance and ran from the tent door to meet Him.
10. I take Melchizedek to be a literal Christophany. To me, all the above Scriptures are stating that the preincarnate Jesus (Yahweh), met Abram, as he returned from war, and was passing through the place where Jerusalem is today, and the preincarnate Jesus was called "the king of righteousness", AND "the King of Peace".
I respect the opinion of others who see Melchizedek as just a man, the Gentile King of Salem. The way this account is written in God's Word, certainly requires each individual to study these mysterious Scriptures and decide for themselves.
Yours "in Christ",