Amplified: FOR THIS Melchizedek, king of Salem [and] priest of the Most High God, met Abraham as he returned from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;
NLT: This Melchizedek was king of the city of Salem and also a priest of God Most High. When Abraham was returning home after winning a great battle against many kings, Melchizedek met him and blessed him. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Young's Literal: For this Melchisedek, king of Salem, priest of God Most High, who did meet Abraham turning back from the smiting of the kings, and did bless him,
THE WORK OF
|He has appeared at the Cross for
|He now appears at the right hand of the throne for
|He shall appear a Second time for the elect's final
|He appeared for our
|He now appears for our
|He shall appear for our
|He has appeared in Humiliation||He does appear in Exaltation||He shall appear in Universal Manifestation|
|He has appeared for our Justification||He does appear for our Sanctification||He shall appear for our Glorification|
Chapter 7 is a critical section because it concerns the introduction of a better priesthood. No sacrifices were possible without a priest (therefore no "forgiveness") and therefore the priesthood was greatly revered by Jews.
Remember that in Hebrews 5:5-10 the writer began to speak of the Melchizedek but then began a lengthy parenthetical section from Hebrews 5:11 through Hebrews 6:20. This parenthesis was to prepare his "dull of hearing" readers so that they might better understand of this important chapter. There is a point of application we in the modern church need to consider and it is this -- the solid food and sound doctrine of Scripture is not revealed by the Spirit to those who are spiritually lazy or apathetic. In Hebrews 7:4 we encounter the only command in this entire chapter (see note) and it is to give careful consideration (as contrasted with a superficial reading) to this teaching on Melchizedek because he is a type of Jesus Christ, the One Whose beauty and glory we desire to see.
The background of course is Jewish readers who had professed belief in Christ and were being tempted to abandon their faith in the Messiah and return to Judaism under threat of persecution as described in chapter 10...
And so the writer is writing to convince them to break with the familiar system and rituals that their forefathers had followed for centuries. He is saying that the religious system of sacrifices, rituals, and rules that had been practice for some 1,400 years had now been replaced by a better way. And so he focuses on the supremacy of Christ Jesus the great High Priest, Who is the fulfillment of all that was written by Moses and the prophets. And so he picks up his thoughts on Melchizedek from Hebrews 5 because he wants to explain that Jesus is not a priest like the familiar Levitical priests, but is of a different order of Melchizedek and because of that, He is a better priest than any of the priests in the old system. Ironically the old system was never intended to be the end but the means, a means which was always and in all ways intended to point to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Ray Stedman points out that "The unfolding of the meaning of the Melchizedek priesthood of Jesus is the goal toward which the author has been aiming ever since Hebrews 2:17 (note), where he first uses the term high priest with reference to Jesus... These themes are little noted or understood in the average church today but desperately needed if the church (or the individual Christian) is to confront the world with power and grace. (Hebrews Commentary ) (Bolding added for emphasis)
As Matthew Henry says "Nothing made the Jews so fond of the Levitical dispensation as the high esteem they had of their priesthood, and it was doubtless a sacred and most excellent institution; it was a very severe threatening denounced against the Jews (Hos. 3:4), that the children of Israel should abide many days without a prince or priest, and without a sacrifice, and with an ephod, and without teraphim. Now the apostle assures them that by receiving the Lord Jesus they would have a much better high priest, a priesthood of a higher order, and consequently a better dispensation or covenant, a better law and testament...(and now the writer) sets before them some of the strong meat he had spoken of before, hoping they would by greater diligence be better prepared to digest it."
Expositor's Greek Testament (Hebrews 7 Commentary - Marcus Dods) writes that "The subject of Christ's priesthood is resumed; the interpolated admonition (Hebrews 5:11-6:20) having been skillfully brought round to a second mention (actually strictly speaking the 4th mention) of Melchizedek. The chief reason for introducing the priesthood of Melchizedek as the type of Christ's priesthood was that it was "for ever". The Aaronic priesthood was successional, this single; and in this sense "for ever". There were, however, other reasons. The first question with a Jew who was enjoined to trust Christ's priestly mediation, would be "What are His orders?" He belonged to a tribe of which Moses had spoken nothing concerning priesthood. He might or might not be the true heir to David's throne; but if He was, did not this very circumstance exclude Him from the priestly office? Was it credible that the nation had been encouraged rigorously to exclude from the priesthood every interloper, only in order that at last this rigidly preserved order should be entirely disregarded? This writer seizes upon the fact that there was a greater priest than Aaron mentioned in Scripture -- a priest more worthy to be the type of the Messianic priesthood, because He was Himself a King, and especially because He belonged to no successional priestly order but was Himself the entire order. (!) This idea of a priesthood superseding that of Levi's sons found its way into Scripture through the hymn (Psalm 110:4-note)... The chapter may be divided thus
I. Characteristics of Melchizedek, vv1-10
1. In himself as depicted in Scripture, vv1-3
2. In his relation to Levi and his line, vv4-10
II. Inadequacy of Levitical priesthood in comparison with the Melchizedek priesthood of Christ, vv11-25
1. Levi, being provisional, Melchizedek being permanent, vv11-14
2. Official and hereditary : personal and eternal, vv15-19
3. Without oath: with oath, therefore final, vv20-22
4. Plural and successional : singular and enduring, vv23-25
III. Summary of the merits of the new Melchizedek Priest, Jesus
(from Nicoll, W Robertson, Editor: Expositors Greek Testament: 5 Volumes. Out of print. Search Google)
John Piper helps us understand why all of this focus on Melchizedek and the priesthood, things which seem so foreign and even may seem unnecessary to us in the modern western culture. The writer is saying we are in desperate need of a High Priest for as Piper explains...
the reason for all this talk about Christ’s relation to Melchizedek in verses 1–24 is because the eternal, superior priesthood of Jesus is our only hope of eternal salvation. God’s wrath never changes. There is only one hope for sinners like us. We must have a faithful High Priest, Who will intercede for us forever. We need a King of righteousness (He 7:2-note). We need a King of peace (He 7:2-note). We need Someone without beginning and ending (He 7:3-note). Someone Who has an indestructible life (verse 16) and will never die and need to be replaced (He 7:23,24-notes). We need Someone greater than Abraham and greater than Levi—something like Melchizedek, who blessed Abraham, (He 7:6,7-notes) and who received tithes from Abraham and, in a sense, from Levi in Abraham (He 7:5-note, He 7:6-note, He 7:8, 9, 10-notes). We need a new and greater Priest—so much greater that verse 11 says there was no perfection through the Levitical priesthood. All the Old Testament priesthood could do was point toward the One superior Priest (after the order of Melchizedek, Psalm 110:4-note), Whose sacrifice of Himself and Whose eternal intercession would guarantee eternal salvation for all God’s people.
So the first implication of He 7:25-note is that all this truth about priesthood is because what we need saving from is the wrath of God. God’s way of solving that problem is priesthood. This is not ours to figure out or solve. God has to do it for us. And He has done it. He ordains a Priest, His Son.
And don’t make a mistake here. It’s not as though Jesus the Priest loves us and God the Father doesn’t. God the Father ordains the priesthood for our salvation. It is His idea. He sends the Priest. It is His own Son Whom He sends. And He loves Him infinitely. All this is the love of God rescuing us from the wrath of God, in such a way that the justice of God is vindicated and the glory of God is exalted. (Read his entire excellent message on Hebrews 7:1-25 Jesus: from Melchizedek to eternal Saviour)
FOR THIS MELCHIZEDEK: houtos gar ho Melchisedek:
For - He is explaining the end of the previous verse - Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. (He 6:20-note)
For (gar) is a strategic term of explanation which should always prompt a pause to prayerfully ponder what the author is saying in a given section. This pause that refreshes will give your Teacher, the Spirit, an opportunity to speak to your heart (so that what you read is more than just head knowledge), not only illuminating the text (see The Bible and Illumination) but applying the text practically to your personal life (Application). Therefore, energized by the Spirit, let us discipline ourselves for godliness and frequently "P & P" (pause and ponder) the Word -- we are sure to be richly rewarded by our Father in Heaven, for "godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come!" (1Ti 4:7-8-note, 1Ti 4:9-10-note)
Expositor's Greek Testament feels that "it is the "for-everness" of the priesthood which he means especially to insist upon. The whole order is occupied by himself. This one man constitutes the order. He succeeds no one in office and no one succeeds him. In this sense he abides a priest for ever. Between the subject Melchizedek and the verb "remains" there are inserted five historical facts taken from Genesis 14, with their interpretation. (Hebrews 7 Commentary - Marcus Dods)
Spurgeon on Melchizedek - There is something majestic about every movement of that dimly revealed figure. His one and only appearance is thus fitly described in the book of Genesis: “And Melchizedek, the king of Salem, brought out bread and wine (He was the priest of God Most High). And he blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Maker of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High who delivered your enemies into your hand.’ And he gave to him a tenth of everything” (Gen 14:18–20). We see but little of him, yet we see nothing little in him. He is here and gone, as far as the historic page is concerned, yet he is “a priest forever,” (Ps 110:4) and “it is testified that he lives” (Heb 7:8). Everything about him is on a scale majestic and sublime. Melchizedek seems to have been, first by name, and then by place of office, doubly designated a king. First, his name is Melchizedek , which signifies by interpretation, “king of righteousness.” His personal name is “king of righteousness.” As a matter of fact, he was also the monarch of some town called Salem. It is not at all likely to have been Jerusalem, although that may have been the case. The interpretation of his official name is “king of peace.” He was one who worshiped God after the primitive fashion, a believer in God such as Job was in the land of Uz, one of the world’s gray fathers who had kept faithful to the Most High God. He combined in his own person the kingship and the priesthood; a conjunction by no means unusual in the first ages.
Melchizedek - This is the writer's fourth mention of Melchizedek (Heb 5:6,10 6:20 7:1, 10, 11, 15, 17, 21). In the 28 verses in Hebrews 7 the writer gives us what amounts to an exposition of the OT Scriptures on Melchizedek because there were only 3 verses in Genesis 14 and only one notation some 500 years later by David in Psalm 110:4.
At the time of the writing of this epistle to the Hebrews another 1000 years had passed since David's declaration in Psalm 110:4-note. And so the writer of Hebrews begins to give more detail regarding Melchizedek and how this historical OT individual validates the priesthood of Jesus.
Dwight Pentecost has the following application writing that "If a writer of the New Testament considered Old Testament episodes—even something so brief as this encounter with Melchizedek—so important, we would do well to become as familiar as possible with the wealth of information God has revealed in the Old Testament! (Pentecost, J. D., & Durham, K. . Faith that Endures. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications)
H A Ironside - Abraham recognized Melchisedec's spiritual authority by giving him tithes of all the spoils. Strengthened by the bread and wine administered by Salem's king-priest, Abraham was prepared to refuse the blandishments of the King of Sodom, representative of the world in all its impurity and debasement. (Hebrews 7 Commentary)
Guzik comments on the subtle juxtaposition of Melchizedek, the king of righteousness followed by peace (the king of Salem or peace) - As always, righteousness comes before peace. Righteousness is the only true path to peace. People look for that peace in escape, in evasion, or in compromise; but they will only find it in righteousness. (Hebrews 7)
Operation Entebbe is a fascinating modern day "equivalent" of the Genesis 14 account of Abraham's daring exploit. The following account of Operation Entebbe is taken from Wikipedia "On June 27, 1976, Air France Flight 139, an Airbus A300 originating from Tel Aviv, carrying 248 passengers and a crew of twelve, took off from Athens, heading for Paris. Soon after the 12:30 p.m. takeoff, the flight was hijacked by two Palestinians from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - External Operations (PFLP-EO) and two Germans from the German "Revolutionary Cells (RZ)" (Wilfried Böse and Brigitte Kuhlmann), who commandeered the flight, diverting it to Benghazi, Libya. There it was held on the ground for seven hours for refueling, during which time a female hostage who pretended she was pregnant was released. The plane left Benghazi, and at 3:15 it arrived at Entebbe Airport in Uganda." (Read the full account)
Uganda at that time was ruled by the dictator Idi Amin who welcomed the hijacked airliner which remained at Entebbe Airport the next 7 days as the PLO hijackers prepared for their next move. Like the raiders who had taken Lot captive in Genesis 14, the PLO hijackers certainly appeared to be in total control of their Israeli captives who were on this flight. But unbeknownst to the hijackers, three Israeli C-130 Hercules transports were on there way from Tel Aviv to Entebbe with a Israeli commandos, who within hours attacked the airport under the cover of darkness. In less than one hour the commandos rushed the old terminal, gunned down the hijackers, and rescued 110 of the 113 hostages. The next day Israel’s Premier Yitzhak Rabin declared "This operation will certainly be inscribed in the annals of military history, in legend and in national tradition” and indeed it has been so honored, even as was Abraham's daring raid some 4000 years earlier! Abraham with only “318 trained men” from his own household took off in hot pursuit of Lot and his kidnappers and under the cover of night deployed his relatively small force in a surprise attack which put the four kidnapper kings to flight.
So when Abraham returned to his home after the slaughter of the kings he was a hero, at the pinnacle of martial success. Can you see him proudly astride his lumbering camel, smeared with the dirt and blood of battle, leading his 318 proud men plus Lot and all the captives and all the plunder through Jerusalem? If so, you have the “feel” necessary to begin to appreciate Abraham’s strange, mystic encounter with a shadowy figure of immense grandeur — Melchizedek, the priest-king of Salem.
In this background and a sense of Abraham's incredible victory against all odds we read these words in Hebrews 7 - This Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him
Imagine the joy and victory that was in the air. It would have been enough to go to any man's head, but not Abraham, for he recognized that the victory was not his, but ultimately that they victory was the Lord's. And so he chose to honor King Melchizedek who was also the priest of the Most High God Who had given him the victory. Our victories from day to day may not be as dramatic but they are no less always a reflection of the fact that the victory belongs to the Lord. Are we quick to acknowledge this eternal truth when accolades and adulation come our way? Let us seek to have an "Abraham attitude" as we bask in the victory, whether it be over our flesh, the world or the devil. As David said some 500 years later
As an aside, the reader will undoubtedly encounter a wide variety of interpretations on the identity of Melchizedek, some of the more fanciful interpretations including the following...
A number of writers interpret Melchizedek as a preincarnate appearance of Christ and base this interpretation on facts from the OT and Hebrews...
One of the strongest arguments against that interpretation is the writer's clear statement that he was "made like the Son of God" (He 7:3-note). See below for a synopsis of how many conservative (and one cult) sources interpret the identity of Melchizedek.
The Targum, which reflects rabbinic interpretation, Melchizedek is identified as Shem, Noah's son (Targum Ps.-J. Gen 14:18; see esp Carmona, Est Bib 37  79-102). The rabbis made the totally unsubstantiated remark that the priesthood was transferred to Abraham and his posterity at the meeting recorded in Genesis 14:18, 19, 20 because Melchizedek proved to be unworthy of his office! The implications of this specious rabbinic interpretation would negate the writer's argument in Hebrews 7 in view of the fact that Levi eventually came from the line of Abraham and thus the Levitical priesthood is the legitimate successor to the priesthood forfeited by Melchizedek. The rabbinic literature goes on to apply the description of Psalm 110:4-note to Abraham (cp, R. Ishmael as early as 135 AD) .
Gerald Hawthorne writes that Melchizedek's "greatness is seen from the fact that he blessed Abraham the patriarch (i.e., the father of us all) at a time when Abraham was second to none in the land—victor over Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, and from the fact that Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. (New International Bible Commentary)
KING OF SALEM, PRIEST OF THE MOST HIGH GOD: basileus Salem hiereus tou Theou tou hupsistou:
King of Salem - In the next verse the writer tells us this equates with king of peace.
Salem is also another name for Jerusalem, as deduced from Psalm 76 "God is known in Judah; His name is great in Israel. And His tabernacle is in Salem; His dwelling place also is in Zion. (Ps 76:1,2)
The Hebrew word for ‘Salem” is shalem (08004) which is in turn derived from the same Hebrew root as shalom “peace”. Genesis 14:18 and Psalm 76:2 are the only occurrences of Salem in the OT.
Priest (2409) (hiereus from hieros = sacred, holy, consecrated to God, used as a noun to mean a sacred place or temple, cp Mark 11:11) is a sacred or consecrated person who serves God (or the false gods in the pagan religions). Hiereus describes the specific position and not necessarily a priest’s character.
W. G. Moorehead defines a priest as "One who is duly qualified to minister in sacred things, particularly to offer sacrifices at the altar, and to act as mediator between men and God. (ISBE)
Priest in Latin is pontifex (from pont-, pons = bridge + facere = to make) which literally means a bridge maker, and is word used even today to describe the Pope as "Pontifex Maximus" (maximus = greatest, highest), which literally means the "greatest bridge builder" and in modern parlance "the Highest Priest".
Wuest - The Roman emperor was Pontifex Maximus, a high priest upon the throne of the Caesars. But our Lord Jesus is a high priest who, now seated upon a throne of grace, will some day as High Priest in the Messianic Kingdom occupy the throne of David in Jerusalem, as Zechariah says, “He shall be a priest upon his throne” (Zech. 6:13). (Hebrews Commentary online)
The Most High God - (See all NT uses of phrase "Most High") In Hebrew "Most High God" is El Elyon (note) one of the great names of God (they are all great of course!) which is expressive of God's sovereignty over all things.
In the Old Testament, the throne (KING) and the altar (PRIESTS) were separated and any person who was not of the Levitical priesthood who attempted to act as priest was judged by God.
Melchizedek is thus a unique man with a unique designation as both king and priest! Melchizedek's specific identity does not detract from the powerful logic of the writer of Hebrews, who is appealing to his Hebrew Scriptures to substantiate his argument. He is saying in essence that even the Hebrew Scriptures recognize a priesthood that is distinct from that of Aaron, and that furthermore, this priesthood antedates Aaron's priesthood by literally hundreds of years.
John Calvin points out that it is remarkable that Melchizedek lived with Sodom on one side and the Canaanites on the other, and yet he was a righteous king and priest. This shows that God can raise up a godly witness for Himself when and where He pleases. Here are Calvin's comments...
WHO MET ABRAHAM AS HE WAS RETURNING FROM THE SLAUGHTER OF THE KINGS AND BLESSED HIM: ho sunantêsas hupostrephonti (PAPMSD) apo tes kopes ton basileon kai eulogesas (AAPMSN) auton:
This description is taken from the Genesis account ....
Hebrews 7 is an important chapter for in it the writer establishes the following points...
John Calvin - And it was doubtless necessary that in him who was to be a type of the Son of God (see discussion of Typology) all things excellent should be found: and that Christ was shadowed forth by this type is evident from the Ps 110
Steven Cole (his sermons are highly recommended) - Melchizedek is a type of Christ in the dignity of his person. Everything we know about Melchizedek comes from Genesis 14:18-20, Psalm 110:4-note, and Hebrews 7. The first text is historical, the second is prophetic, and the third is theological. (open the Pdf of the entire sermon Why You Need to Know About Melchizedek)
Alfred Edersheim - That Melchizedek was not Christ Himself is evident from the statement that he was “made like unto the Son of God” (or “likened unto” Him, Heb. vii. 3); while it equally appears from these words, and from the whole tenor of Scripture, that he was a type of Christ.
Matthew Henry - The most general opinion is that he was a Canaanite king, who reigned in Salem, and kept up religion and the worship of the true God; that he was raised to be a type of Christ (see discussion of Typology), and was honoured by Abraham as such.
Kent Hughes - In the writer’s opening statement he concisely states the significance of the historical Melchizedek as a type of the ultimate priesthood of Christ: Melchizedek was “without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, [and] like the Son of God he remains a priest forever” (v. 3). Some have inferred from these words that Melchizedek must have been an angel who took on human form for Abraham, or even a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Himself. But such interpretations are unnecessary, because the writer is simply using a rabbinical method of interpretation from silence. His point is that the Genesis account does not mention Melchizedek’s parents or genealogy or when he was born or died, thereby providing a fitting type of what would be fleshed out in the qualifications of Christ (see discussion of Typology). (Hughes, R. K. Hebrews: An Anchor for the Soul. Volume 1. Crossway Books; Volume 2)
H A Ironside - There is no reason to think of Melchisedec as a mysterious person, possibly supernatural, or even as some have supposed a preincarnate appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ. If any ask, "Who is Melchisedec?" the only proper answer is "Melchisedec." He was not Shem the son of Noah, nor Job of the land of Uz, nor Cheops the builder of the great pyramid, as some have endeavored to prove. He was, as is distinctly stated, Melchisedec, King of Salem. (Hebrews 7 Commentary)
KJV Commentary - What is true of Melchizedek (the type) only because of silence is intrinsically true of Christ (the reality). Melchizedek is without parents only in that they are unknown. (Dobson, E G, Charles Feinberg, E Hindson, Woodrow Kroll, H L. Wilmington: KJV Bible Commentary: Nelson)
John MacArthur - But Melchizedek is described as made like the Son of God (7:3), not as being the Son of God. I believe that Melchizedek was a historical human being, whose priestly ministry typifies that of Christ (see discussion of Typology), a man whom God designed to use as a picture of Jesus Christ. But we cannot be sure of the details of his identity. (MacArthur, John: Hebrews. Moody Press )
William MacDonald - We should not conclude that Melchizedek had no parents, that he was never born, and that he never died. That is not the point. The thought is that as far as his priesthood was concerned, there is no record of these vital statistics because his ministry as priest was not dependent on them. (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
J Vernon McGee - Melchizedek is a type of Christ. (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
Henry Morris - The usual interpretation ... is that he (Melchizedek) was made into a type of Christ since as a "King of Righteousness" (meaning of Melchizedek) and "King of Peace" (meaning of Salem), he appears and leaves the record suddenly, with no mention of either ancestry or death. It seems better to take the words literally, in which case they could be applicable to Christ Himself, appearing here to Abram in a theophany. This would also solve the problem of how such a godly king and priest as Melchizedek could be ruling a city in such an ungodly land as Canaan and, why, if he did, Abram would have had no other contact with him. The fact that he was "like unto the Son of God" (Hebrews 7:3) accords with one of Christ's pre-incarnate appearances; at His human birth, he became the incarnate Son of God forever. Melchizedek was also said to be a man (Hebrews 7:4), but the same is true in the case of other theophanies, one of which was likewise manifested to Abram (Genesis 18:2,22; 19:1-24). (Morris, Henry: Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing)
Dwight Pentecost - The question is often raised about whether what is recorded in Genesis 14 is a theophany; that is, a preincarnate appearance of the eternal Son of God. While many say it is, the context of Genesis 14 seems to argue against it. Every verifiable theophany in the Old Testament fulfills the purpose of bringing a message from God to men. But that is not the case here. Further, the details of the account—giving names and places—argue against it. Melchizedek could hardly be called the “king of Salem” unless he exercised legal authority there over an extended period of time. When the writer says he was “made like the Son of God,” he seems to imply that only those things had been recorded that could be used later by the writer of the Hebrews to reveal truth concerning Christ’s priestly office. Thus, in the historical context, Melchizedek is an individual, universal, timeless, unique priest whose ministry resulted in spiritual and material benefits; and he is never known outside of that picture. In this, as the writer of the Hebrews will show, he represents a perpetual foreshadowing of the priestly order Christ will fill. (Pentecost, J. D., & Durham, K. Faith that Endures: A Practical Commentary on the Book of Hebrews. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications)
Charles Ryrie - Melchizedek is clearly a type of Christ (see discussion of Typology). Everything known about him from the OT is found in Ge14:17-20 and Ps. 110:4-note. He was a great king-priest, and it is to his order of priesthood that Christ belongs. (The Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Translation: 1995. Moody Publishers)
C I Scofield - Melchizedek, a type of Christ the King-Priest.
C H Spurgeon - WE will not enlarge upon the story of Melchisedec, nor discuss the question as to who he was. It is near enough for us to believe that he was one who worshipped God after the primitive fashion, a believer in God such as Job was in the land of Uz, one of the world’s grey fathers who had kept faithful to the Most High God. He combined in his own person the kingship and the priesthood; a conjunction by no means unusual in the first ages. Of this man we know very little; and it is partly because we know so little of him that he is all the better type of our Lord, of whom we may enquire, “Who shall declare his generation?” The very mystery which hangs about Melchisedec serves to set forth the mystery of the person of our divine Lord.
Ray Stedman - Though some commentators have viewed Melchizedek as a preincarnate appearance of Christ, the phrase like the Son of God seems to militate against that. “Melchizedek thus was the facsimile of which Christ is the reality” (Howley 1969:552). To a modern congregation, this passage should be presented as a vivid picture of the help which is available for believers today from our great high priest who can give us righteousness and peace from within if we “come to the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews Commentary )
Will Varner - A more popular interpretation is that Melchizedek was Christ Himself in some preincarnate form. Thus, he would have been like the Old Testament “angel of the LORD” (e.g., Ge 16:7, 8, 9, 10, 11; Ex. 3:2; Jdg 13:3-21). Proponents of this view point to the language of Hebrews 7:3: “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of day nor end of life.” There are some serious problems, however, with this idea. Six times the writer of Hebrews cited Psalm 110:4-note when stating that Jesus is a priest “after the order of Melchizedek” (He 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:11, 17, 21). If Jesus actually was Melchizedek, He would not be said to be “after the order of Melchizedek.” Furthermore, language of similarity, not identity, is used to describe the relationship between the two. Hebrews 7:3 states that Melchizedek was “made like unto the Son of God,” not that he actually was the Son of God. Finally, Hebrews 7:15 states that Jesus is a priest “after the similitude [likeness] of Melchizedek,” not that he actually was Melchizedek. These verses indicate that Melchizedek was an individual who was a type of Christ, not that he actually was the preincarnate Christ. (Israel My Glory : Volume 51 Issue 6. 1999)
John Walvoord - Although some have thought that Melchizedek was actually a theophany, that is, an appearance of Christ in the form of Melchizedek to Abraham, the more probable view is that Hebrews means only that Melchizedek, unlike Aaronic priests, had no recorded genealogy. He was a priest independent of his father or his successor. In other words, he was not dependent on his genealogy, in sharp contrast to the Aaronic priesthood which depended upon it completely. The predecessors and successors of Melchizedek are not mentioned in the Bible, and the validity of the Melchizedek priesthood does not rest upon this background.
Warren Wiersbe - Melchizedek was a man (see Hebrews 7:4), so he had to have had a mother and a father. But there is no record of his genealogy (“descent”) in the Old Testament; and this is significant because most great persons in the Old Testament have their ancestry identified. (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)
Mormons (which I consider a non-Christian cult! [see critique of Mormonism] This note is only for completeness) - Claim that their male members are priests of the order of Melchizedek and that their prophet, Joseph Smith, held both the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods. But this is a wholly gratuitous claim since it rests on no objective appointment by God but only on a subjective assertion in which they take this honor upon themselves.
In "The Way into the Holiest" F B Meyer writes that...
Hebrews 7:2 to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace. (NASB: Lockman)
TO WHOM ALSO ABRAHAM APPORTIONED A TENTH OF ALL THE SPOILS: ho kai dekaten apo panton emerisen (3SAAI) abraam:
In Genesis 14:20 Moses records "And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." And he (Abraham) gave him (Melchizedek) a tenth of all.
Pentecost comments that when Melchizedek "came out to meet Abraham, he pronounced a twofold blessing. First, he pronounced a blessing upon Abraham (Ge 14:19), evidently because he recognized that Abraham’s victory was a victory by faith. He also pronounced a blessing upon God Most High (Ge 14:20). Even though the conflict was waged in faith, the victory did not belong to Abraham. The victory was God’s—through Abraham—so that the honor and the glory for the victory must be given to God Most High. Abraham’s response was to give Melchizedek a tithe of all the spoils of the conquest (Ge 14:20). In giving the tithes, Abraham was declaring that the victory was not his, but God’s. Therefore all of the spoils did not belong to Abraham, but they rightly belonged to God. In giving a tithe he recognized God’s right to all he had taken in battle. (Ibid)
Keep in mind that there was no Mosaic law at the time of Abraham's tithe. More than 430 years later the Mosaic law required one tenth to be paid to the Lord from both produce and flocks...
Expositor's Greek Testament has an interesting note that "the offering of a tithe of the spoils to the gods was a custom of antiquity. See Wetstein for examples and especially Arnold's not on Thucydides iii.50. "Frequently the anathemata were of the nature of aparchai, or the divine share of what was won in peace or way,...The colossal statue of Athena Promachos on the Athenian Acropolis hill was a votive offering from a tithe of the booty taken at marathon." (Gardner and Jevon's Greek Ant., 181.) (Hebrews 7 Commentary - Marcus Dods)
How can we apply this truth to our lives today? If Melchizedek is a type of Christ (which I believe he is) and Abraham paid a tithe of his choice spoils to this man, how much more should believers today acknowledge our Great High Priest Jesus as the One Who bought us with a price...
WAS FIRST OF ALL, BY THE TRANSLATION OF HIS NAME KING OF RIGHTEOUSNESS: proton men hermeneuomenos (PPPMSN) basileus dikaiosunes:
Spurgeon - Note well the order of these two, and the dependence of the one upon the other; for there could be no true peace that was not grounded upon righteousness; and out of righteousness pence is sure to spring up. Righteousness is essential to peace; if it were not first, peace could not be second. If there could be a kind of peace apart from righteousness, it would be dank, dark, deadly, a horrible peace, ending in a worse misery than war itself could inflict. It is needful where an unrighteous peace exists that it should be broken up, that a better peace should be established upon a true foundation that will last forever. Herein (king) he is like our divine Lord, whose name and character can only come to us by interpretation. What he is and who he is and all his character, no angel’s tongue could tell. No human language can ever describe to the full what Jesus is. He is King, but that is a poor word for such royalty as His. He reigns, but that word “reigns” is but a slender description of that supreme empire that He continually exercises. He is said to be King of righteousness, but that is by interpretation, by the toning down of His character to our comprehension. This Melchizedek, whom we exhibit as a type, is such a king as God is. He is according to divine model. He is priest of the Most High God, and he is like the Most High God, for the Lord Himself is, first, King of righteousness, and after that also King of peace. The great Creator entered the garden of Eden in that sorrowful hour when our parents had rebelled, and were hiding among the trees to escape His call; and He bade them answer for their fault. When they stood trembling before Him in the nakedness of their conscious guilt, they knew Him as their King and their Judge. At that moment he was not first the King of peace to them, but first the King of righteousness. All over the world, and everywhere, this is God’s way of dealing with men. Do not imagine that God will ever lay aside His righteousness for the sake of saving a sinner—that He will ever deal with men unrighteously in order that they may escape the penalty due to their transgression. He has never done so, and He never will. Glorious in holiness is He forever and ever. That blazing throne must consume iniquity; transgression cannot stand before it; there can be no exception to this rule. The Judge of all the earth must do right. Whatever things may change, the law of God cannot alter, and the character of God cannot deteriorate. High as the great mountains, deep as the abyss, eternal as His being, is the righteousness of the Most High. Peace can never come to men from the Lord God Almighty except by righteousness. The two can never be separated without the most fearful consequences. Peace without righteousness is like the smooth surface of the stream before it takes its awful Niagara plunge. If there is to be peace between God and man, God must still be a righteous God, and by some means or other the transgression of man must be justly put away; for God cannot wink at it or permit it to go unpunished. Salvation must first of all provide for righteousness, or peace will never lodge within its chambers. The Lord of heaven is first King of righteousness, and then King of peace, so that Melchizedek was such a king as God is. Today our Lord and Master has gone His way up to the eternal hills where He reigns. But His kingdom, for which we daily pray, is coming; and, mark you, it will come by righteousness. I say no word against those who endeavor to bring peace to the nations by the extension of commerce, facilities for travel, and so forth; but it is not thus that the sword of war shall be broken. I never anticipate the reign of universal peace on earth till first the King of righteousness is acknowledged in every place. I do not think that we shall ever see the fruits without the tree, or the stream without the source, or peace without the enthronement of the principle of righteousness from which it springs. There shall come a day when the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and the wolf shall lie down with the lamb—when they shall hang the useless helmet in the hall, and study war no more. But that reign of the joyous King, that era of plenty, love, and joy, can only commence as a reign of righteousness. It cannot be anything else. Until sin is dethroned, till iniquity is banished, we shall not see the divine fruit of peace upon the face of the earth. Wherever Jesus is King He must be first King of righteousness, and after that King of peace. So, then, Melchizedek is such a king as God is, and such a king as Jesus is. (First, King of Righteousness and After That, King of Peace)
First (4413) (protos) refers to the former or first and here seems to refer to priority.
Ironside makes an interesting observation on the the order of the names of Melchizedek writing "how remarkably the Spirit of God sets His seal on the verbal inspiration of the Old Testament. Our attention is drawn to the fact that this royal hierarch is first "by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace" (Hebrews 7:2). If the order of the names had been reversed, God's beautiful type would have been spoiled. But standing just as they do, the names righteousness and Salem are in perfect agreement with truth revealed elsewhere. Righteousness must come before peace. We are told in Isaiah 32:17, "The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever." And in the great gospel Epistle to the Romans we first learn how the righteousness of God has been maintained in the cross before we are told of peace with God, which is ours by faith. So exact is Scripture that the changing of the order of the original words would throw all into confusion. (Hebrews 7 Commentary)
Translation (2059) (the verb hermeneuo [noun = hermeneia] which some say is from Hermes the pagan god of language - our English Hermeneutics - study or science of interpretation of Scripture) (see ISBE Article) means to interpret, to explain in words (expound) or to translate what has been spoken or written in a foreign language. The idea in some contexts is to help someone understand a subject or matter by making it plain. In the present context the idea is the rendering of words in a different language (which also makes them understandable).
Here are the other cognates in this word group - hermeneía (2058 see the 2 uses) = interpretation (e.g., interpretation of tongues); diermeneúo (1329 see the 6 uses) = to interpret; diermeneutes (1328 see the one use) = an interpreter (1Cor 14:28 "there is no interpreter"); methermeneúo (3177 see the 8 uses) translate from one language to another.
In sum hermeneuo means "to interpret" in either the sense of explaining or in the sense of translating. Thus interpretation involves making something that is unclear or unknown into something that is clear and intelligible. In Classical Greek the verb also at times meant "to say" or "to express ones' thoughts in words," but this is close to the meaning "to explain."
In modern parlance especially as it relates to the church hermeneutics is "The discipline of interpreting texts, with special reference to the principles and procedures involved" (DeMoss, M. S. Pocket Dictionary for the Study of New Testament Greek. IVP)
Dr Stephen Lewis writes that hermeneutics is
As noted above some feel the etymology of hermeneuo is related to Hermes the pagan Greek god who functioned primarily as the attendant, herald, and interpreter of the gods to mortals. Hermes was responsible for communicating what was beyond human understanding into a form that human intelligence could grasp. He was also known as the god of science, inventions, speech, writing, literature and eloquence. He was the messenger or interpreter of the gods, and particularly of his father Zeus. It follows that the verb hermeneuo came to refer to Thus the verb came to refer to bringing someone to understanding of something in his language ( explanation, interpretation) or in another language (translation). In a similar way our English word interpret is used at times to mean explain and at other times translate. In its nineteen usages (both nouns and verbs) in the New Testament, it is more frequently used in the latter sense, as the following illustrates.
English dictionaries define hermeneutics (from hermēneuein = to interpret, from hermēneus = interpreter) as the study of the methodological principles of interpretation as of the Bible. They go on to state that it is the branch of theology that deals with the principles and methodology of exegesis (means critical exposition or explanation of the meaning of a scriptural passage in the context of the whole Bible. [from Greek exēgēsis, from exēgeisthai = to explain, interpret, from ex- + hēgeisthai = to lead]).
Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary - Bible scholars believe a biblical text must be interpreted according to the language in which it was written, its historical context, the identity and purpose of the author, its literary nature, and the situation to which it was originally addressed. (Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., Harrison, R. K., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
In a number of languages the equivalent of translate or interpret is an idiomatic expression such as `it comes out in our language as', `in our words it means' or `in our mouths it says.'
Hermeneuo is used 3 times in the NT...
Hermeneuo is used 3 times in the Septuagint (Ezra 4:7, Esther 10:3, Job 42:17)
As an aside since exegesis and exposition is so closely related to hermeneutics, the following definition of terms is presented from Dr Lewis' paper Hermeneutics...
One purpose of the Aaronic priesthood was to offer sacrifices which would restore the people to a right relationship to God. These sacrifices since they were of the blood of animals could never perfectly succeed in any deep and lasting way, for they were but a pre-figurement or type of the one perfect sacrifice of the Lamb of God did remove sin and provide lasting forgiveness. The Aaronic sacrifices symbolized and pointed to the sacrifice of the Cross that alone makes men righteous and results in genuine peace with God (see note Romans 5:1), but they themselves could not make men righteous or give men lasting peace. As a temporary ritual they accomplished their God-ordained purpose. But they could not bring men to God. They were never meant to.
King of righteousness - As alluded to elsewhere in this discussion, this ultimately points to the King of kings Whose return ushers in a 1000 year reign of righteousness. Jesus is the King of righeousness and as Dwight Pentecost points out - When various religious groups propose their own views of what Jesus Christ would or would not do in today’s world, reigning as “King of Righteousness” usually is not something they include. Be wary of those cultists, religious liberals, or radicals who say they “believe in Jesus.” Always ask them to clarify which “Jesus” they believe in—the “Jesus” of their own philosophy or the Jesus of the Bible! (Ibid)
AND THEN ALSO KING OF SALEM, WHICH IS KING OF PEACE: epeita (then) de kai basileus salem o estin (3SPAI) basileus eirenes:
Expositor's Greek Testament writes that - "first" by his very name, "then" by his actual position; probably the peace of his kingdom is considered as a consequence of its righteousness. Righteousness and peace are characteristic properties of the Messianic Kingdom. (Hebrews 7 Commentary - Marcus Dods)
The psalmist Solomon writes "In his (Solomon desire for his son finds ultimate fulfillment in the Messiah's reign) days may the righteous flourish, And abundance of peace till the moon is no more. (Psalm 72:7)
The designation King of Salem emphasizes not only the place (Jerusalem) but also the character of this king as one who rules with peace or shalom. As an aside, it is notable that there is no single English word that can truly convey the richness of the meaning of the familiar Hebrew word shalom. The general meaning behind the root sh-l-m is of completion and fulfillment and thus of entering into a state of wholeness and unity (oneness) signified by a restored relationship, especially wholeness of the relationship between a person and God. Shalom signifies a sense of well-being and harmony both within and without, health, happiness, quietness of soul, preservation, prosperity, tranquility, security, safety and includes all that makes life worthwhile. Shalom also conveys the sense of being at peace with God and involves more than forgiveness of sin, in that fullness of life, prosperity, and peace with men is the expected result of shalom. In narrative books shalom typically is used to describe an absence of hostility or strife. In the psalms and the prophets it goes beyond this, so that in at least 2/3 of the biblical references shalom indicates a total fulfillment that comes when individuals experience God’s presence.
Shalom is used as a greeting and also as a way of inquiring after someone’s state of being & to want the very best for him in life. To be at peace is to be happy, to be whole, to be right with God, fellow humans, and creation. Peace is the opposite of the rivalry, instability, and division brought by envy and ambition. Shalom is still used today in Israel in greeting & thus wishing one another well, saying in essence "may all things be prosperous with you." Someone has well said that "Peace in the Jewish sense is the symphony of life made meaningful through a right relationship with God." (New Geneva study Bible: Thomas Nelson: Nashville) Shalom always means everything which makes for a man’s highest good. In the east when one man says shalom to another, he does not mean that he wishes for the other man only the absence of evil things; he wishes for him the presence of all good things. In the Bible peace means not only freedom from all trouble; it means enjoyment of all good.
Spurgeon - Salem, which, brought down to our tongue, signifies “peace,” is in reference to a place rather than a person. You see, our Lord Jesus is essentially righteousness; that is interwoven with His name and person. But He gives, bestows, deposits, pours forth peace in a place that He has chosen, and upon a people whom He has ordained, and whom He has brought near unto Himself: so that His kingdom of peace links Him with His redeemed, to whom He has given the peace of God. In beginning to deal with an apostate race the Lord observed the fitting order of our text: He began with righteousness, and afterwards went on to peace. At the gate of the garden commenced the dispensation of mercy and peace, but first of all there was the pronouncing of the sentence that man should eat bread in the sweat of his face, and that unto dust he should return. Substantial righteousness was dealt out to the guilty, and then peace was provided for the troubled. At the fall God first set up a judgment seat, and right speedily a mercy seat. Righteousness must ever lead the van. (First, King of Righteousness and After That, King of Peace)
As emphasized righteousness always precedes peace, the prophet Isaiah recording that "the work of righteousness will be peace, And the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever." (Isaiah 32:17, cp Heb 12:11-note)
The psalmist writes that...
Peace (1515) (eirene [word study] from verb eiro = to join or bind together that which has been separated) literally pictures the binding or joining together again of that which had been separated or divided and thus setting at one again, a meaning conveyed by the common expression of one “having it all together”. It follows that peace is the opposite of division or dissension. Peace as a state of concord and harmony is the opposite of war. Peace was used as a greeting or farewell corresponding to the Hebrew word shalom - "peace to you". Eirene can convey the sense of an inner rest, well being and harmony. The ultimate peace is the state of reconciliation with God, effected by placing one's faith in the gospel. In eschatology, peace is prophesied to be an essential characteristic of the Messianic kingdom (Acts 10:36).
Peace is a condition of freedom from disturbance, whether outwardly, as of a nation from war or enemies or inwardly, as in the current context, within the soul. Peace implies health, well-being, and prosperity.
Like a River Glorious
Hearts are fully blessed;
Finding, as He promised,
Perfect peace and rest.
Peace Illustrated - Jim Walton was translating the NT for the Muinane people of La Sabana in the jungles of Colombia. But he was having trouble with the word peace. During this time, Fernando, the village chief, was promised a 20-minute plane ride to a location that would have taken him 3 days to travel by walking. The plane was delayed in arriving at La Sabana, so Fernando departed on foot. When the plane finally came, a runner took off to bring Fernando back. But by the time he had returned, the plane had left. Fernando was livid because of the mix-up. He went to Jim and launched into an angry tirade. Fortunately, Walton had taped the chief's diatribe. When he later translated it, he discovered that the chief kept repeating the phrase, "I don't have one heart." Jim asked other villagers what having "one heart" meant, and he found that it was like saying, "There is nothing between you and the other person." That, Walton realized, was just what he needed to translate the word peace. To have peace with God means that there is nothing--no sin, no guilt, no condemnation--that separates us. And that peace with God is possible only through Christ (see note Romans 5:1). Do you have "one heart" with God today?
C H Spurgeon on Melchisedec (some repetition from his notes above)...
WITHOUT FATHER, WITHOUT MOTHER, WITHOUT GENEALOGY HAVING NEITHER BEGINNING OF DAYS NOR END OF LIFE: apator ametor agenealogetos mete arche hemero mete zoes telos echon (PAPMSN):
This verse has perplexed many especially in view of the fact that Genesis where Melchizedek is first mentioned if filled with genealogies. Melchizedek however has none -- at least none that is recorded. He disappears from Genesis 14 as quickly as he had appeared. The silence of Scripture on His genealogy is a perfect type of our great High Priest Christ Jesus Who is eternal (without beginning or end).
Spurgeon - We find no father or mother mentioned in the case of Melchizedek, because he did not come to the priesthood by natural descent as did the sons of Aaron. In this he is the great type of Jesus, who is not one of a line, but the sole and only priest of His order. As a priest He is “without beginning of days or end of years,” neither taking the priesthood from a predecessor, nor passing it on to a successor, nor laying it down because of old age. So mysterious is Melchizedek that many deeply taught expositors think that he was veritably an appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ. They are inclined to believe that he was not a king of some city in Canaan, as most of us suppose, but that he was a manifestation of the Son of God, such as were the angels that appeared to Abraham on the plains of Mamre, and that divine being who appeared to Joshua by Jericho, and to the three holy ones in the furnace. At any rate, you may well “consider how great this man was” when you observe how veiled in cloud is everything about his coming and going—veiled because intended to impress us with the depth of the sacred meanings that were shadowed forth in him.
H A Ironside exhorts us writing "Again let us worship as we contemplate the perfection of Scripture—just as perfect in what it omits as in what it relates! (Hebrews 7 Commentary)
Without father (540) (apator from a = without + pater = father) means fatherless and was a term used in secular Greek to describe children who were orphaned, abandoned, estranged, or born out of wedlock.
TDNT adds that apator had the following secular uses "Humans. When used of humans, apator can mean “orphan,” “foundling,” “bastard,” “of unequal parentage,” “disinherited,” or “of nonnoble or unknown origin.” In Judaism converted pagans are said to be “without father,” and Judaism also applies the sense of “unnamed” to Esther, who is an orphan in Esther 2:7. Deities. Such deities as Athena, Hephaestus, and Aphrodite are said to be without father or mother. God has no father in Orphic, Gnostic, and mystic works. The point is that he has no origin, or is uncreated. (Referring to the sole NT use in Hebrews 7:3) This says of Melchizedek that he has no father, mother, nor genealogy. The point is that he does not fall into the sequence of the Levitical priesthood. As the promise precedes the law in Paul, so this priesthood precedes the Levitical priesthood in Hebrews. Similarly, as the reference of the promise is to Christ, so the reference of Melchizedek's priesthood is to the high priesthood of Christ. (Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Eerdmans)
Without mother (282) (ametor) is motherless.
Barclay comments on apator and ametor noting that "These words are very interesting. They have certain uses in secular Greek. They are the regular description of waifs and strays and of people of low pedigree. They contemptuously dismiss a man as having no ancestry. More, apator has a technical legal use in the contemporary Greek of the papyri. It is the word which is used on legal documents, especially on birth certificates, for father unknown and, therefore, illegitimate. So, for instance, there is a papyrus which speaks of: “Chairēmōn, apator, father unknown, whose mother is Thasēs.” (Hebrews 7 Commentary)
Without genealogy (35) (agenealogetos from a = without + genealogeo = to trace a genealogy) is literally without a traceable genealogy and so without pedigree or descent.
Barclay comments that this "is a word that, so far as we know, no Greek writer ever used before."
(Hebrews 7 Commentary)Vincent -The meaning is that there is no record concerning his parentage. This is significant as indicating a different type of priesthood from the Levitical, in which genealogy was of prime importance. No man might exercise priestly functions who was not of the lineage of Aaron.
The absence of traceable lineage is significant because it indicates that this order refers to one that is distinctly different from than the Levitical priesthood, wherein it was of critical importance to know one's genealogy. If one was not of the lineage of Aaron, they could not exercise priestly functions. As someone has said, the result of this emphasis on lineage was that priests were often more concerned about pedigree than holiness.
Hughes - The point is, Jesus’ priesthood, like Melchizedek’s, was based solely on the call of God, not on heredity. Jesus and Melchizedek were both appointed as “priests of God Most High.” (Hughes, R. K. Hebrews: An Anchor for the Soul. Volume 1. Crossway Books; Volume 2)
The silence of the Genesis narrative concerning Melchizedek’s parents or line of priestly descent was significant because of the contrast it posed with the Levitical priesthood, where recorded line of descent was required for accession to the priestly office
Expositors Greek Testament writes that the terms "Without father, without mother, without genealogy" indicate that "he stands in Scripture alone, no mention being made of an illustrious father or mother from whom he could have inherited power and dignity, (and) still less can his priestly office and service be ascribed to his belonging to a priestly family. It is by virtue of his own personality he is what he is; his office derives no sanction from priestly lineage or hereditary rights; and in this respect he is made like to the Son of God. Of course it is not meant that in point of fact he had neither father nor mother, but that as he appears in Scripture his is without (such lineage)."
Having neither beginning...nor end - This does not mean that he came from nowhere. It simply means that in the Old Testament record nothing is said of his parents or origin. In practical terms the point the writer is seeking to get across to his readers with this statement about Melchizedek's having no beginning or end is that he was shadow the substance of which was realized in Messiah's eternal priesthood.
As Vincent says "That is to say, history is silent concerning his birth and death."
As an aside notable that some who believe in reincarnation appeal to this section of Hebrews to support their premise that Jesus is a reincarnation of Melchizedek. Clearly this is not a valid interpretation because the writer says Melchizedek was only “made like” Jesus, not that Jesus was Melchizedek. The writer also states in Hebrews 7:11 that Christ was a priest “according to the order of” Melchizedek and not that He was Melchizedek.
BUT MADE LIKE THE SON OF GOD HE ABIDES A PRIEST PERPETUALLY: aphomoiomenos (RPPMSN) de to huio tou theou menei (3SPAI) hiereus:
Made like - Note carefully that the Son of God is not made like Melchizedek, but he is made like the Son of God, and thus Melchizedek is presented in Scripture in such a way that he points to the truth about the Son of God.
Spurgeon - Melchizedek just passed across the page; he has no predecessor, he has no successor. We see him in Scripture, and we know nothing of his descent; we know nothing of his death. We only know that he was a priest of the Most High God; and this very silence about him is highly significant and instructive, for in this he is like “the Son of God—he remains a priest for all time.” Now consider who this great man was, unto whom even “Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth from the spoils.” If Abraham, the father of the faithful, the friend of God, paid tribute to him, how great must he have been, how high his office!
Leon Morris - And it is the Son of God Who is the standard, not the ancient priest–king. The writer says that Melchizedek is “made like” (aphomoiomenos) the Son of God, not that the Son of God is like Melchizedek. Thus it is not that Melchizedek sets the pattern and Jesus follows it. Rather, the record about Melchizedek is so arranged that it brings out certain truths that apply far more fully to Jesus than they do to Melchizedek. With the latter, these truths are simply a matter of record; but with Jesus they are not only historically true, they also have significant spiritual dimensions. The writer is, of course, speaking of the Son’s eternal nature, not of his appearance in the Incarnation. (Gaebelein, F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary 6-Volume New Testament. Zondervan Publishing)
Guthrie commenting on Melchizedek's priesthood wrote that "Any priesthood is evaluated according to the status of the deity who is served, which means that Melchizedek’s must have been of a highly exalted kind.
Guzik commenting on "made like the Son of God" writing that "It really isn’t that Jesus has Melchizedek’s kind of priesthood. Instead, Melchizedek has Jesus’ kind of priesthood. (Ibid)
Made like (871) (aphomoioo from apo = intensifies meaning or also means away from + homoioo = to make like) means make like or similar or to produce a facsimile. In the passive sense it means to be like, to resemble or to portray (“to be or become like” or “make oneself out to be like.”)
Guthrie adds that aphomoioo "is a suggestive word, used in the active of ‘a facsimile copy or model’ and in the passive of ‘being made similar to.’
TDNT writes "that Melchizedek “is like” the Son of God. The point may be that the Son of God is the prototype, or that the OT text is taken to be a messianic prophecy, i.e., a sign that points forward to Christ."
Thayer writes that aphomoioo means "to cause a model to pass off (apo) into an image or shape like it -- to express itself in it."
F B Meyer - It was as if the Father could not await the day of His Son’s priestly entrance within the veil; but must needs anticipate the marvels of His ministry, by embodying its leading features in miniature (The priesthood of Melchizedek).
In summary form what the writer has also done is to present several characteristics of an ideal priesthood -- righteous, peaceable, personal and eternal.
Compare Isaiah's description of the Messiah in which righeousness is emphasized...
Isaiah also emphasizes the Messiah's association with peace in the well known passage in chapter 9 "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this." (Isaiah 9:6,7-note)
Note that Melchizedek's likeness is not to Messiah as Son of Man but to Him as Son of God. As Son of Man He was born and died. As Son of God, neither could be said of Him.
Son of God - Arthur Pink comments that "The various appellations under which our Lord is referred to in this Epistle call for due attention. They are not used at haphazard, but with precision and design. In Hebrews 2:9-note it is “Jesus” that faith beholds—the humiliated but now glorified Saviour. In Hebrews 3:6-note it is “Christ”, the Anointed One, who is over God’s house. But in 7:3 it is “the Son of God”, as High Priest, unto whom Melchizedek was made a similitude. The Spirit here jealously guards the honour of Him whom it is His office and delight to glorify. He hereby intimates to the Hebrews that though Melchizedek were such an excellent person, yet he was infinitely beneath Him whom he represented. The typical person was but man; the antitype, Divine! Furthermore, one who was more than mortal was required in order to fulfil that which Melchizedek foreshadowed: he who should be capable of discharging an always-living, constant-abiding, uninterrupted priesthood, must be the Son of God! (Melchizedek Continued)
Priest (2409)(hiereus from hieros = sacred, consecrated to deity) is one who is consecrated to the service of deity. Melchizedek truly unique for no other OT individual served as both a king and a priest. The next individual who exercises these two offices in one person will be our Lord Jesus Christ, Who at His second coming will reign and serve as King and Priest when He takes His seat on David’s throne to rule over the Messianic age and kingdom.
Perpetually is the Greek phrase eis to dienekes. Eis is a preposition of motion into any place or thing. Figuratively eis marks the point toward which anything ends. Dienekes means carried through or stretched the whole length and thus protracted, continual or perpetual. Taken together this phrase means for all time or without interruption.
In reference to a dynasty dienekes was used to mean that the royal family would never fail to have a male heir to rule.
Webster's defines "perpetual" as the holding of something (such as an office) for life or for an unlimited time.
Pentecost - We know nothing of a time in his life before he became a priest, nor do we know anything of a retirement from the priesthood at the end of his life. In this respect—since he had neither beginning nor ending of days as far as is recorded—he stands as a timeless priest. (Ibid)
Perpetually dramatically contrasts with the length of service of the Levitical priests who were eligible to serve only from age 25 until age 50, regardless of how faithfully they served. Perpetually also contrasts with the Levitical priesthood which was only ordained under the Old Covenant, which the writer later explains has become "obsolete...growing old (and) ready to disappear".
William Lane - Melchizedek’s sudden appearance and equally sudden disappearance from recorded history awakens within a sensitive reader the notion of eternity. (William L. Lane, William: Hebrews: A Call to Commitment. Hendrickson, 1988)
The perpetuity of Melchizedek’s personal priesthood perfectly pictures the eternality of Christ's priesthood which the writer emphasizes later writing that Christ...
Gerald Hawthorne - Melchizedek thus was the facsimile of which Christ is the reality. Christ, therefore, is king of righteousness and peace in the fullest sense, and priest ‘like’, ‘in the order of’ Melchizedek, that is, priest forever! (New International Bible Commentary)
Hughes sums up this section emphasizing that "The big picture the writer wants us to see is that Jesus perfectly fulfills what was foreshadowed in the Genesis account of Melchizedek. Melchizedek’s character type regarding king, priest, righteousness and peace was fulfilled to perfection in Christ. Melchizedek’s qualifications, being without genealogy and without beginning or end, prefigured Jesus who had no priestly genealogy or priestly term of service but was appointed by God and ministers eternally. (Hughes, R. K. Hebrews: An Anchor for the Soul. Volume 1. Crossway Books; Volume 2)
John Walvoord addressing the question of when Christ became a priest writing that...
S Lewis Johnson (Hebrews 7:1-3 Melchizedek and Jesus Christ) writes that in Hebrews 7 we have come...