SINCE IT HAS BEEN A FULL TWO MONTHS SINCE WE’VE BEEN IN THE BOOK OF HEBREWS (DUE TO THE THANKSGIVING AND CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS), THE BOOK I HAVE CHOSEN ON WHICH TO WRITE THIS MOST EXTENSIVE AND INTENSIVE BLOG, I BELIEVE A LITTLE REVIEW IS CALLED FOR. Even though Melchizedek has been briefly discussed in a previous blog (“The Perfect Priest”), and will again be mentioned prominently in our study of chapter 7, since this fascinating individual has such weighty bearing on the writer’s main argument in this book – The Great High Priesthood of Jesus Christ being the central theme of the book itself, an image taken in great part from this enigmatic person himself, it seems appropriate that a review of what has been written thus far in our preceding studies begin with Melchizedek, the last word of v. 10, precisely where we left off…
NAS Hebrews 5:9-10 And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, 10 being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
“PERFECT,” IN V. 9, IS THE GREEK WORD τελειόω (tel-ei-ah-o). “Perfect” confuses many people who wonder how Jesus could be lacking anything and needed to be made perfect. But it is less confusing when one remembers Jesus has two natures: a divine nature and a human nature. It was in His human nature that He was perfected. τελειόω also means “complete” or “finished.
A SIMILAR VERSE THAT SPEAKS OF JESUS’ HUMAN NATURE IS LUKE 2:52…
NET Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and with people.
“VERSES 9-10 TAKE US TO THE CROSS. Having learned obedience in Gethsemane, Jesus is now perfectly qualified to become at once the sin offering and the priest who offers it. This anticipates the clause of 9:14…
NAS Hebrews 9:13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh,
“THIS PERFECT SACRIFICE, OFFERED BY THE PERFECT PRIEST, ENTIRELY SUPERCEDES THE AARONIC PRIESTHOOD AND IS AGAIN DESIGNATED BY GOD AS OF ‘THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK. The phrase appears five times in Hebrews and becomes the subject of the epistle from 5:6 to 7:28. It is the Melchizedek priesthood that is described by 2:18…
NAS Hebrews 2:18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.
“IN VIEW OF THIS HELP SO EASILY AVAILABLE, WHY DO WE INSIST SO STRENUOUSLY ON OBTAINING ONLY HUMAN HELP? The mutual assistance of others like ourselves is scripturally valid and often helpful. but it was never intended to replace the help available from our great ‘Melchizedek.’ Let us go boldly and much more frequently to our high priest who sits on the throne of grace, ready and able to help.” – Steadman
“MELCHIZEDEK WAS A SUBJECT OF MUCH SPECULATION AMONG JEWS, AS LATER AMONG CHRISTIANS. One line of Jewish tradition identifies him with Shem (whose life, according to the Masoretic chronology, overlapped Abraham’s by more than a century); this removed the difficulty of supposing that outside the line of the holy seed there should be one whom Abraham trusted with such veneration. Another line thought of him as the prototype of the great priest of the age to come, but in a way which distinguished him from the Messiah of Psalm 110:1. As a result of polemic with the Christians, however, Judaism tended to take a less favorable view of Melchizedek. His blessing Abraham before God (Gen. 14:19f.) was reprobated (i.e., rejected, abandoned with strong disapproval – TAR), and it was held that on this account his priesthood was taken away from him and conferred on Abraham.” – Bruce
THE BEST WAY TO DEFINE MELCHIZEDEK IS AS A TYPE OF CHRIST. “Now, there’s much in the Scripture that comes under the category of typology. There are many theological terms that we use in Bible study and in Bible teaching. One of them is typology. Whenever we talk about a type, we mean an Old Testament picture of the person and work of Christ. For example, in the Old Testament we read about a brazen serpent being lifted up, and all who looked upon the serpent were healed from the snake bites. And then we hear in John chapter 3 that is a picture of Jesus Christ. And it says, ‘As the Son of Man was lifted – as the serpent was lifted up, so shall the Son of Man be lifted up, and those who look on Him in faith shall be healed from sin.’ We read in the Old Testament about lambs being slain, and then we hear the words of John the Baptist, ‘Behold the Lamb of God’ in reference to Jesus Christ. There are many pictures in the Old Testament of Christ. We call these types, and Christ is the antitype or the fulfillment of that type.” – Grace to You (Internet)
THE FIRST MENTION OF TEN IN THE BIBLE (2 in the Old Testament; the other 8 in Hebrews)…
NAS Genesis 14:18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High.
NAS Genesis 14:19-20 And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tenth of all.
NAS Psalm 110:1-4 A Psalm of David . The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand, Until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.” 2 The LORD will stretch forth Thy strong scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of Thine enemies.” 3 Thy people will volunteer freely in the day of Thy power; In holy array, from the womb of the dawn, Thy youth are to Thee as the dew. 4 The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, “Thou art a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”
NAS Hebrews 5:5-10 So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him, “Thou art My Son, Today I have begotten Thee”; 6 just as He says also in another passage, “Thou art a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” 7 In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. 8 Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. 9 And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, 10 being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
NAS Hebrews 6:19-20 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, 20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
NAS Hebrews 7:1 For 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,
NAS Hebrews 7:9-17 And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, 10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him. 11 Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? 12 For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also. 13 For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. 15 And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is witnessed of Him, “Thou art a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”
THERE YOU HAVE THE FULL CORPUS OF THE BIBLICAL MATERIAL ON THE ENGROSSING KING OF SALEM, MELCHIZEDEK…
“THE SALVATION WHICH JESUS HAS PROCURED IS GRANTED (BY GRACE ALONE – TAR) ‘UNTO ALL THEM THAT OBEY HIM’ (5:9). There is something in the fact that the salvation which was procured by the obedience of the Redeemer should be made available to the obedience of the redeemed. Once again the readers are encouraged to persevere in their loyalty to Christ, in whom alone eternal salvation is to be found – in whom also they have a high priest designated for them by God Himself, ‘after the order of Melchizedek’. Our author reverts to Melchizedek at the end of this section of his argument, because he intends to go on now and elaborate the significance of his high-priestly order.” – Bruce
BUT BEFORE THE AUTHOR GETS INTO WHAT HE HAS TO SAY ABOUT MELCHIZEDEK, WHICH HE WILL DO IN CHAPTER 7, HE TAKES A DRAMATIC SHARP TURN AND ISSUES THIS ADMONITION…
NAS Hebrews 5:11 Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.
UPON FIRST CONSIDERATION, THE WORDS OF THE WRITER OF HEBREWS COME ACROSS AS EXTREMELY HARSH. Some commentators, however, guard against drawing conclusions that are unwarranted. Bruce, for example, cautions, “The statement that the recipients of this letter ought by now to have Christians would not be expected to become teachers is quite unwarranted: the Greek word διδάσκαλος (di-did-ahs-kah-lahs, “teacher” – TAR) is used here in quite an informal sense, and not of trained catechists or anything like that. It was (according to Bruce – TAR), an axiom of Stoicism that anyone who had mastered true learning was in a position to impart it to others; and it is equally a Christian axiom.”
I CAN’T RESIST ADDING THIS PERSONAL ANECDOTE ATTESTING TO THE VERACITY TO BRUCE’S WORDS HERE. You might find it humorous. Years back, when I first started teaching at the seminary and was still in the early stages of learning what experience and restraint would soon progressively teach me, I held a few regrettable extreme views, as one can only expect from someone new on the job – but not on biblical doctrine, by the grace of God. I’m speaking mainly in the key area of consideration before saying somethings, such as stress placed upon chosen subjects or choice of specific relevant words. Teachers, especially, I might say teachers of the Bible, must be thoughtful and cautious, but I took a few positions without enough study or careful thought. One such immoderate view had to do with opposition to Bruce’s words on this subject. Generally, acknowledging there might be exceptions and avoiding extremes, I didn’t believe untaught people should teach. For example, I didn’t believe people should assume to formerly teach, and certainly not preach, before first becoming biblically educated, preferably at an acceptable legitimate place. My opinion, for one thing, was that u people hadn’t cared enough to sacrifice the time, effort, and financial and personal expense necessary to be considered as qualified by those recognized as members of the orthodox church (i.e., the body of Christ) to preach and teach the Word of God. I could go on and on with the particular subject, but I won’t. I will simply leave you with this easy to understand if not entirely sufficient analogy assuming the point is clear. The analogy was formed from a literal occurrence. I was sitting in the dentist chair one day waiting for the novocaine to take hold, and my eyes fixed upon the dentist’s degrees and licenses, hanging neatly in two rows on an opposite wall. A license, as of course you know, is a legal document giving some one the legal right to someone the right to do something. During the early years of my teaching and later of my preaching I often related my position on the ordination of pastors by means of this simple comparison of a pastor to a medical doctor. I reasoned that if a doctor was required by law and common sense to be formally educated and licensed before he was entrusted with a person’s body to practice medicine, surely a pastor, likewise, should willingly adhere to similar legal and educational requirements before assuming human responsibilities – no matter how limited and subordinate – for a person’s soul. That was my thinking 20 years ago. I still lean that way, if not as rigidly as before. Today, I leave more room for God’s involvement and final decision. Forgive me if that sounds vague and evasive, but I like myself better and feel better about my position than when I was more certain about one’s calling for ministry from God.
“THE SALVATION WHICH JESUS HAS PROCURED IS GRANTED ‘UNTO ALL WHO OBEY HIM’. There is something appropriate in the fact that the salvation which was procured by the obedience of the Redeemer should be made available to the obedience of the redeemed. Once again the readers are encouraged to persevere in their loyalty to Christ, in whom alone eternal salvation is to be found – in whom also they have a high priest designated for them by God Himself, ‘after the order of Melchizedek”. Our author reverts to Melchizedek at the end of this section of his argument, because he intends to go on to now and elaborate the significance of his high-priestly order.” – Bruce
– Professor Thomas A. Rohm