This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,
Melchizedek, King of Salem, etc. The various extraordinary conjectures as to the personality of Melchizedek "we may safely treat as fanciful and unneeded. The typology connected with Melchizedek does not require that he himself should be regarded as any superhuman person, but merely exalts the human circumstances under which he appears into symbols of superhuman things. Everything combines to show that Melchizedek was a Canaanitish king who had retained the worship of the true God and combined in his own person the offices of king and priest." And the statements made concerning him in the third verse of our text need not cause us any difficulty. The Levitical priests held their office by virtue of their descent from Levi and Aaron. A clear and unquestionable genealogy was of the utmost importance to them. On the return of the Jews from captivity certain persons were excluded from the priesthood because they could not produce their pedigree (Ezra 2:61-63). Now, as for Melchizedek, the names of his parents were unknown, his name was not mentioned in the Hebrew genealogies, there was no record of his birth or of his death, and no mention of the termination of his priesthood. "He comes forth from the darkness like a streak of light, only to disappear immediately in the darkness again." He is mentioned in our text as a type of Jesus Christ.
I. IN HIS REGAL CHARACTER AND FUNCTIONS. "Melchizedek, King of Salem... by interpretation King of righteousness, and King of peace." In the reign of the Christ:
1. Righteousness is the firm basis of peace. It is true in government as in other things that "the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle." Stable peace is impossible apart from righteousness. Deep craft, subtle diplomacy, strong naval and military forces, are miserable guarantees for a nation's peace. The peace and the perpetuity of the reign of Messiah are founded upon its truth and righteousness. The witness of Scripture to this is most clear and conclusive (see Psalm 72:1-7; Isaiah 2:4; Isaiah 11:1-9; Isaiah 32:17).
2. Righteousness is joined with peace. Both these qualities characterize his administration. Righteousness is firm, inflexible, almost stern; peace is mild, merciful, gentle. In the kingdom of our Lord "mercy and truth meet together, righteousness and peace kiss each other."
II. IN HIS SACERDOTAL CHARACTER AND FUNCTIONS. Here are several points of analogy.
1. In the authority of his priesthood. "Melchizedek, priest of God Most High... without father, without mother," etc. He was not a priest because he was descended from priests, like the sons of Aaron. He received his priesthood direct from God. It was based upon character, not upon pedigree. It was "an independent priesthood, having its root in his own person." Even so was the priesthood of our Lord and Savior (cf. vers. 13-17; Hebrews 5:4-6).
2. In the blessings which he bestowed. Melchizedek bestowed upon Abraham a double blessing, and in each portion of it he prefigures the Christ.
(1) He ministered to his physical needs. "Melchizedek met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings," and "brought forth bread and wine" unto him; bread representing the necessary food of the physical life, and wine representing the delights of life - "wine that maketh glad the heart of man." And our Lord cared for the physical needs of men. He had compassion on the hungry thousands, and fed them; he pitied the afflicted, and healed them; he sympathized with their social pleasures, and contributed to them by turning water into wine.
(2) Melchizedek blessed Abraham spiritually (Genesis 14:19, 20). Our Lord confers the richest spiritual favors upon those who believe in him. The redemption of Jesus Christ is for the whole of man's nature. It is noteworthy that Melchizedek blessed the greatest and best man of his age of whom we have any record. He "blessed him that hath the promises," etc. (vers. 6, 7). Our Lord blesses the highest and holiest as well as the lowest and most sinful of men. None are so great or so good as to have outgrown the need of his blessing.
3. In the homage which he received. "To whom Abraham divided a tenth part of all... unto whom Abraham gave a tenth out of the chief spoils." He did this either as an act of homage to him as a king, and as placing himself under his authority and protection, or as an acknowledgment of his character and position as "priest of God Most High." To our Priest and King the mightiest and the weakest, the greatest and the smallest, high and low, rich and poor, shall pay heartiest and humblest homage (see Psalm 72:10, 11, 15, 17). "At the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow," etc. (Philippians 2:10, 11).
4. In the duration of his priesthood. "Abideth a Priest continually." This is not to be taken literally as to Melchizedek. Of him it is true in this way, there is no record of the termination of his priesthood by death or otherwise. As he did not receive it from his ancestors, it was not transmitted to his descendants: he yielded "up his priesthood to no one." But in a higher sense his great Antitype "abideth a Priest continually." He is "a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." "He ever liveth to make intercession for them that draw near unto God through him." - W.J.
I. THE TITLE OF MELCHISEDEC, AS KING. "For this Melchisedec, king of Salem." It were idle to discuss here the various conjectures which have been started as to who this Melchisedec was — considered as he is by some to have been Enoch, by others to have been Shem, by others to have been an angel, by others to have been the Holy Spirit, by others to have been the Eternal Son of God Himself; it seems only needful to remark, that the nature of the apostle's argument throughout the chapter positively requires that Melchisedec should have been a man, and a man, too, living, and performing the functions here attributed to him, in the time of the patriarch Abraham. Melchisedec becomes a remarkable person, were it only from the singular conjunction of the two offices of king and priest — a conjunction which of itself would suggest his being a type of Christ. Thus he is a type of Christ even with regard to his kingship, and that both in his acts and in the titles by which he is distinguished. Even the first act recorded of him m Genesis we can hardly think was without some spiritual significance. You will observe, he is there represented as coming out to "the father of the faithful," bringing him a present of bread and wine, in order that his followers might be refreshed after the toils of conquest, and be sent on their way with lightened and rejoicing hearts. What is this but a picture of the way in which Christ, the true Melchisedec, rewards and refreshes all the followers of faithful Abraham? Are they wearied with the toils of their spiritual warfare? He is wont to say to them, "Come unto Me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will" refresh you. Are they tired out with the world's disappointing vanities, having "spent their money for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which satisfieth not"? His language is, "He every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; yea, come ye, buy wine and milk, without money and without price." Nay, are they desirous of realising nearness of spiritual communion — of being brought more closely into the presence of their God and Saviour? Are they desiring to " see the King in His beauty," and to receive from Him tokens of reconciliation and peace and love? He comes forth like Melchisedec bringing " bread and wine," offering to believing hearts the blessed sacrament of His passion, that in the memorials of His body broken, and the blood of redemption shed, believers, like the faithful followers of Abraham, may go down to their homes in peace! Still more typical of the Redeemer's royalty are the titles here given to Melchisedec. You will observe it is said of him — "first being by interpretation, king of righteousness, and after that also king of Salem, which is, king of peace." These are the titles of the typical Melchisedec, and as applied to him may probably mean no more than that such names were given to him by the common consent of his subjects — as one who was distinguished for the righteousness which characterised his regal administration, for the integrity and uprightness of his judicial decisions, for the amicable relations which he maintained with all neighbouring states, and for the tranquillity which marked his government at home. But who sees not at once the application of these titles to Christ in the exercise of His spiritual royalty? He is a "King of righteousness." If He cannot satisfy every demand of a violated law, if He cannot meet all the conditions of unsullied holiness, if He cannot cancel every claim which Heaven may have against our souls, nay, if He cannot present my soul as unblameable — as pure from stain or blemish as His own — the ground of my confidence is gone. A mere king of compassions, a king of love and pity, will not suit me, He must be a "King of righteousness." "and after that also king of Salem, which is king of peace." This, again, is a beautiful type of Messiah's kingship. "Therefore being justified by faith" — (there is the righteousness) — "we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Melchisedec, king of Salem.I. MELCHISEDEC WAS "KING OF SALEM."
1. Salem was certainly in Canaan — the land where Melchisedec and Abraham met.(1) It is not a matter of course that Canaan was already wholly given up to idolatry and crime; and therefore Melchisedec may have been himself a Canaanite, and may also have found a body of worshippers of the true God among whom he could discharge his functions.(2) Even if Canaan was more idolatrous than we have sufficient reason to believe that it now was, Melchisedec, who was, perhaps, of the Japhetian stock, may have been raised up by Heaven as "a light in a dark place," and a harbinger and representative of the future ingathering of the Gentiles to Christ.
2. Two places of the name of Salem are mentioned in the Old Testament. The one is Salem in the land of Shechem (Genesis 33:18) — the same, perhaps, as John 3:23. The other is Jerusalem itself (Psalm 76:1, 2).(1) The situation of the great metropolis of Palestine was one likely to be early fixed upon for a town in the colonisation of the land.(2) That point lay near to the route which Abraham may be supposed to have taken on his homeward way "from the slaughter of the kings."(3) If Jerusalem was the place of which Melchisedec was king, he was thus the more strikingly representative of Christ (Psalm 2:6)."
3. It is certainly in respect chiefly of the priesthood that Melchisedec is compared to Christ. But, considering the object and design of the present specification of particulars, it must be understood that the royalty of the former has a typical, or at least a figurative, application to the latter. With Salem, both in the literal and figurative application of the name, Christ as King has especially to do. It was through Jerusalem that, "in the days of His flesh," He rode in lowly, but royal stateliness" (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:1-11). To Israel and her great metropolis was Messiah promised as a Sovereign Prince, ere ever the Magi came to welcome the regal visitor; and as He was, in His birth, saluted as Israel's King (Matthew 2:1-6), so, over His cross on the heights of Salem, the unchangeable inscription bore that He was "King of the Jews" (John 19:19-22). And there is another Zion on which His throne is set — another Salem in which He reigns — the Zion, the Salem, of the Church. Amidst hostile arms and quaking dynasties, "let the children of Zion be joyful in their King."
II. MELCHISEDEC WAS "PRIEST OF THE MOST HIGH GOD."
1. The phrase "of the most high God" serves two ends.(1) It contra-distinguishes Melchisedec and his priesthood from priests of " the gods many and lords many" of Paganism, and from the functions, often gross and cruel, which these performed.(2) It suggests the solemnity and importance of the sacerdotal work which Melchisedec performed, and the reverence and awe with which not only ministers, but private believers, should maintain intercourse with that glorious One into whose presence they are called to enter, and whose business they are called to do.
2. The priesthood of the King of Salem, in all probability, comprehended the two functions of sacrifice and intercession.
III. MELCHISEDEC "MET ABRAHAM RETURNING FROM THE SLAUGHTER OF THE KINGS AND BLESSED HIM." To a spiritual warfare we have all been called; and while Christ is the Captain of the host, the better Abraham leading on His followers to battle and to victory, He, as the anointed Priest, the better Melchizedec, blesses His conquering, and even His struggling, troops. With His priestly hands extended, in generous benediction, over His first disciples, He left the world. In the same attitude, as it were, He stilt is standing, as Be looks down from His heavenly throne on the earthly charge which He loves so well. The good which on their behalf He seeks, it is His own prerogative and office to bestow. Nor can it be withheld. What is wanted for the fight — wisdom, strength, courage, hope — He d, lights, when His soldier looks to Him in faith and earnestness, to give. At length comes victory. Nor is that promise obsolete (Revelation 3:21).
IV. TO MELCHISEDEC ABRAHAM GAVE A TENTH PART OF ALL THE SPOILS. The contribution of gold and treasures to the cause of the kingdom of Messiah is one of the facts recorded respecting Him in Hebrew prophecy (Psalm 72:10, 15). Since the day when the Magi cast their gold, and frankincense, and myrrh at His blessed feet, thousands and tens of thousands have laid a like tribute on His altar. Christ deserves, and Christianity needs, it all. That, independently of any money of ours, He could work successfully is, of course, in some sense true. But, in unswerving wisdom and condescending mercy, He chooses to work by means; and among the appointed means is money. By ministers and missionaries, who are dependent on money for support — by Bibles and other practical and precious books, which must be printed and circulated at the cost of money — by places of worship, which it requires money to erect — and by other ordinances and institutions, which it is for money to establish and maintain — Christ upholds His cause and extends His kingdom.
V. MELCHISEDEC WAS BY INTERPRETATION "KING OF RIGHTEOUSNESS AND KING OF PEACE." This statement refers to the import of the names Melchisedec and Salem. Melchi means, king; Sedec, righteousness; and Salem, peace. It is probable that Melchisedec was a righteous and pacific king. At any rate, the name he bore, and that of the city where he dwelt, involved the ideas of righteousness and peace. And it is here distinctly intimated that, in this respect, he was fitted to represent the character and government of Christ. Christ in very deed is "King of righteousness." His soul, how pure! His life, how undefiled! His laws, how just! His administration, how upright! The issues and outgoings of His sufferings and His glory, of His humiliation on the earth and His triumphs in the heavens, how suffused and fraught with righteousness! Nor is He less truly "King of peace." His personal ministry was neither the earthquake nor the thunder, but the "still, small voice." Peace He bequeathed to His disciples as a legacy of love (John 14:27). He "made peace through the blood of His cross" (Colossians 1:20). His gospel breathes of peace. They who believe it enter into peace. Theirs is peace with God; theirs, too, is peace with man; and a " peace which passeth understanding" keeps their ,"hearts and minds by Christ Jesus" Under the sceptre of Messiah, the wars which so long have wrought desolations in the earth shall pass away
VI. MELCHISEDEC WAS "WITHOUT FATHER, WITHOUT MOTHER, WITHOUT DESCENT," &c. By the series of particulars it is manifestly meant to intimate that the parents, the ancestry, the birth, and the death, of this royal priest are all unrecorded in the sacred narrative — that, in this respect, there is a remarkable difference between him and the priests of the house of Levi — and that, in so far as the record is concerned, he comes before us as the priest of unlimited existence, who had no predecessor and no successor in the sacred line. He was thus, it is still further intended to suggest, a meet representative of that " great high-priest" who, as God, had no mother — as man, had no human father — as Divine, never began to be, and never died — as Mediator, carries on His priesthood still, interceding for believers in the heavens, even as, on earth, He made atonement for their sins, and wrought out redemption for their souls.
(A. S. Patterson.)
II. THE PRIESTHOOD. "For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God:" Now, that to which I would specially direct your attention here is, that Melchisedec is the first instance we have in the sacred record of a person specially set apart for the office of the priesthood. You will observe that he is not one of a line succeeding to the sacerdotal office in a certain family order; he is not one who has received that sacred appointment by the investiture of others, according to any prescribed order of ecclesiastical polity, but he is one who, long before the Levitical priesthood had been established, stands alone in a strange country, challenging homage from the greatest saint of antiquity as an ordained priest of the most high God. Now, we see at once in this certain resembling features to Christ, the true Melchisedec. He is not descended of any line of human priesthood; there was no laying on of hands to designate Him to the sacred office; yet there rested on Him tokens of a Divine consecration. The opened heavens testified to the power of the Lord's anointing; "the Spirit of the Lord" was upon Him, and when He had "made His soul an offering for sin," when He had "borne the sin of many," when He had "poured out His spirit unto death," believing souls were drawn to His cross, and exercising faith in the great oblation hailed Him — "Thou art a Priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec." And then observe, that special office of the typical high priest here mentioned by the apostle, namely, that of benediction, "who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him." Have we not here a close resemblance to Christ? Benediction, we know, seems never to have been off the lips of the holy Saviour. With streams of blessing did He open His first sermon on the mount; with hands of blessing He drew the little children to His embrace; with the uplifted voice of blessing He went up to the right hand of Power; blessed are the sleeping dead who die in His faith and fear; and when at last He shall separate the great congregation of risen dead, He shall first call to His redeemed ones, saying, "Come, ye blessed children of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world." Yes, blessing was the first act of our High Priest, after He had "returned to the Majesty on high": "Unto you first God having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you"; and never will He lay down that His special prerogative of mercy, until He hath blessed us "with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." But observe, another act of the typical Melchisedec noticed by the apostle is his receiving a portion of the spoils. "To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all." There can exist no question but that this act of the patriarch was a separation of a portion of his newly acquired wealth to the service of God. It was an offering to God through Melchizedec His appointed priest. Abraham had been prosperous; he had been honoured and eminently successful in the mission he had undertaken; how could he do otherwise than dedicate the firstfruits of his success to God? "What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits?" The passage plainly throws some light on the perpetual obligation of almsgiving, independently of all dispensations whatever; and seems to prescribe to us the minimum of our substance which we ought to set apart for God's service. If you have been prosperous in the work of your hands, if you are returning like Abraham with the spoils of conquered difficulties, if your spiritual Melchisedec has met you with tokens of acceptance, give unto Him a tenth part of all. Let one strength, one help, one hope, one outstretched arm be recognised in all your successes: — showing that on earth you will lay all your prosperity, even as in heaven you will lay all your crowns, at the feet of Him who was ordained a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
III. THE MYSTERY OF MELCHISEDEC'S ORIGIN. He is declared to be, in the third verse, "without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life." Melchisedec is a person of whose death or birth no record had been preserved, both of which would have been if he had ever bad any accredited place in the Jewish polity. But this man has no record, has no genealogy: he starts up on the page of sacred history, exercising the mysterious functions of the priesthood, shrouding in a veil of impenetrable obscurity all the antecedents of his history, as well as all that relates To his "end of days." All this was especially meant to perfect the typical character of this Melchisedec. It was, in fact, to show to us that Christ Himself was not to succeed to His office in the order of any human priesthood — that He should not claim office in virtue of any transmitted rights, but that He should receive consecration direct from the hands or God: "a Priest" of the Most High God, "after the order of Melchisedec." And then see how we are to apply to Christ the last remarkable words applied to Melchisedec — to Christ, the true, the spiritual Melchisedec. He is said to be "without father"; is not this true of our Lord's human nature? He is said to be "without mother": is not this true of our Lord's Divine nature? He is said to be "without beginning of life, or end of days": must not this be true of Him whom prophecy describes as "the Ancient of days," as the Father of eternity, as One who throws out the challenge to every finite intelligence, "Who shaft declare His generation?" nay, as One whom God Himself had solemnly designated and set apart. "Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."
IV. THE INTRANSMISSIBLE CHARACTER OF MELCHISECEC'S PRIESTHOOD. This is declared in the third verse: "He is made like" — namely, that He "abideth a Priest continually." Then turning to the twenty-fourth verse of this chapter you read — "But this Man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood" — a passage which, on looking at the margin, you will find thus rendered, "a priesthood which passeth not from one to another." Now, to understand this, you must remember the stress of the apostle's argument. It was a new theology to the Jews to suppose that Messiah was to be "a Priest" at all; they thought of Him, they expected Him, only as the "Lord" Christ, as the King of righteousness and peace. But suppose Christ were to be a Priest, then the Jew would say, "He must be a Priest according to the order of Aaron." Then says the apostle, "Christ can have no claim in this behalf; for He sprang from the tribe of Judah, of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood." What, then, is the conclusion? Why, that the real type of Christ's priesthood is to be found, not in men having infirmity under the law, but in that remarkable personage expressly raised up of God in a particular age of the Church, in order that he might be a perfect, or, at least proximately perfect, type of Christ, as one who neither received his priesthood from any, nor yet transmitted his priesthood to any; and therefore, in so far as there was no delegation of the sacred functions, he might be said to "abide a priest continually." Herein he becomes a glorious and eminent type of Christ — the type of Him, who as He received His priesthood from none, so will He delegate it to none, not to human priesthoods, not to saints and angels, not to the ten thousand mediators of a corrupt and apostate church, but rather will continue, in all the might, in all the prevalency, in all the sovereign sufficiency of an unchangeable priesthood, "ever living to make intercession for us."
(D. Moore, M. A.)Melchisedec, they often gained their idea of the whole truth, just as in geography you gain your idea of the whole earth by uniting the two half-spheres that are separated" on ,he map. The mystery of Melchisedec is thus explained by four pairs of truths.
I. HE WAS A MAN AND MORE THAN A MAN. Many things about him are "hard to be uttered" or explained (Hebrews 5:11). Here, I think, is the key that opens the difficulty: — there are two Melchisedecs: the on, lived in Salem, and the other lives in this page. King Henry VIII., the queen-killer; was, as most people believe, a had man; but Froude makes him a good man. There are thus two Henrys: the one lived at Windsor, the other lives in Froude's history. What Froude did for Henry by hero-worship, Moses did for Melchisedec by omission; but with this difference, that Moses keeps to exact truth. As we have Froude's Henry and the real Henry, so we have, as we may say, the Melchisedec of Abraham and the Melchisedec of Moses. Melchisedec was "made like unto the Son of God" (Hebrews 7:3). He was not like Him, but was made like Him. I have watched an apprentice wood-carver. Before him was a tree, like any other tree. Beside him stood a life-size statue of Christ. Glancing now and again at the statue, and guided by his teacher, he hewed out a piece here and there, and soon the tree became a statue. He made it more by making it less, for he thus put a grand idea into it. As that carver elevated the tree into an image of Christ, so Moses, guided by God, fashioned or rounded off the Melchisedec of his story into an image of Christ. It was not an after-thought, but a fore-thought to liken Christ to Melchisedec; for Christ is the original and Melchisedec the copy, expressly "made" beforehand for New Testament teaching. What a man of mystery that Melchisedec of Moses is! He seems to have dropped down from heaven. He seems to be his own ancestor and his own heir; one sprung from himself, a cause uncaused; one ever living among the dead and dying. He stands quite apart, has not his fellow in the Bible, and is like himself only. Fix your eye upon this portrait drawn by the Divine hand, grasp it as it lies there, and the subject is delightfully simple. "This Melchisedec" on whom you and I gaze, not that whom Abraham gazed upon; this literary Melchisedec, not that literal one; " this Melchisedec" is an image of Him who was "without father" as to His human nature, and "without mother" as to His Divine; as God "having neither beginning of days nor end of life"; who in His office was "without descent" and without succession, and so "abideth a Priest continually." Melchisedec was a man. and seems more: Jesus is a man, and is more.
II. CHRIST IS LIKE MELCHISEDEC, A PRIEST AND A KING. Pity belongs to Him as Priest, and power belongs to Him as King. His priestly pity and kingly power temper and sustain each other, and as two uniting streams roll along in one full flood of communicated joy. He saves with all the power of a king; He rules with all the gentleness of a priest. His kingly power enables Him to do His priestly work right royally, with royal graciousness and munificence. He saves with sovereignty, with a sovereign's generosity. The rebel Themistocles appealed for pardon to the Persian king Xerxes. The king pardoned him in his sovereignty; not as one who had to study petty economics, whose grace was a miser's hoard; for he gave Themistocles the country of Magnesia for bread (about £12,000 a year); Myus for condiments, and Lampsacus for wine. That is how a sovereign pardons, and illustrates one part of what we mean by the sovereignty of God. Our great High Priest has a royal right and a royal power to save, as He makes one thing of Priesthood and Kinghood. The golden sceptre of grace is ever in His hand; and whosoever will may touch it and live, shielded by the whole power of His kingdom. What can sin, death, and hell do against those who have Him as their ally?
III. MELCHISEDEC IS A TYPE OF CHRIST BECAUSE HE UNITES RIGHTEOUSNESS AND PEACE. His name means "king of righteousness," and he was king of Salem, or peace. He was, no doubt, a righteous man and king, doing all he could to right the world's wrongs. But much more than that is meant here. For he was a priest, and no priest was he unless he represented God to man and man to God, and so provided righteousness for the unrighteous. They for whom he acted should have had righteousness, but had it not; and it was the part of their priest to gain for them the "abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness." To us, at least, priestly righteousness means all that. The righteousness our High Priest has to do with is held out as a free gift to the most unrighteous among us; and it is thine for the taking. Melchisedec was also king of Salem. A dense mass of meaning lies for us in this title also. Salem, like the salaam given to-day in the East, means peace. A King of Peace! Earth's kings are war-makers; ours is a Peacemaker. Earth's great cities have often been Aceldamas, streaming fields of blood; our mother city is peace. And what a union of contraries is here! Let the bare idea of God's righteousness enter the heart of a man in sin, and lo! his peace is gone, and he is the prey of remorse. But Christ brings us a peace founded upon eternal righteousness.
IV. MELCHISEDEC IS A TYPE OF CHRIST. BECAUSE HE UNITES JEW AND GENTILE. Aaron, the priest, was only for the Jews; but Melchisedec, who was out of Aaron's line and above it, was a Gentile, and he was a priest for Abraham the Jew, and for the Gentiles dwelling in Salem. He was a world-wide priest, opening his arms to all the races of humankind, and his city was meant to be the mother-city of all the earth, emblem of the heavenly Jerusalem into which people of all nations shall be gathered. Thus Christ is a Priest, not after the ruder of Aaron, who was for Jews only, but He is "a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec"; and any sinner under heaven may receive the blessings He brings.
(James Wells, M. A.)
King of righteousness.I. A HIEROGLYPHIC OF CHRIST'S RECONCILING WORK. — First, King of Righteousness, afterwards King of Peace. There is no peace with God possible, except on the basis of righteousness. It is a true gospel, howsoever harsh it sounds, which proclaims "Thou art not a God that hast pleasure in iniquity, neither shall the wicked dwell in Thy sight." This is the dictate of conscience; this is the dictate of what people call "natural religion." This, the necessity of righteousness for friendship with God, is the message of the old covenant; and this, the absolute need of purity of life and heart for all true enjoyment of the Divine favour, is Christ's message as truly. Nay, further, the first thing which the gospel — which Christ, who is the gospel — does when He comes into a man's heart is to emphasise two facts, the absolute need for righteousness in order to friendship with God, and the want of it in the heart to which He has come. And so the conflict is intensified, the sense of discord is kindled, the alienation between man and God is made conscious on the first entrance of Christ into the spirit. The oil comes after the arrow, the bandage after the wound.
II. A SUMMARY OF CHRIST'S OPERATIONS IN THE INDIVIDUAL SOUL. There is no inward harmony, no peace of heart and quietness of nature except on condition of being good and righteous men. The real root of all our agitations is our sinfulness; and wherever there creeps over a heart the love of evil, there comes, like some subtle sea-born mist stealing up over the country and blotting out all its features, a poisonous obscuration which shrouds all the spirit in its doleful folds. Disturbance comes not so much from outward causes as from an inward alienation towards that which is pure and good. Peace within comes from righteousness within, and no man is righteous unless he has Christ's righteousness for the very spring and strength of his life.
III. THE PROGRAMME OF CHRIST'S OPERATIONS IN THE WORLD. The herald angels sang "on earth peace." Nineteen centuries have passed, and Christianity is still a disturbing element who, ever it comes, and the promise seems to linger, and the great words that declared "Unto us a Child" should "be born,"... and His name shall be... "the Prince of Peace," seem as far away from fulfilment as ever they were. Yes, because He is first of all King of Righteousness, and must destroy the evil that is in the world before He can manifest Himself as King of Peace. If we are the followers of the Prince of Peace, who is, first of all, King of Righteousness, we are called to be His faithful servants and soldiers. For all the social evils that swarm round about us to-day, intemperance, impurity, commercial dishonesty, follies of fashionable and of social life and the like, for all teachings that dim and darken the face of His great counsel and purpose of mercy, we are to cherish an undying hatred and war against them an unceasing warfare.
IV. A PROPHECY OF THE END. The true Salem, the city of peace, is not here. One more conflict every soldier of the Cross, ere he treads its payment, has to wage with the lust enemy who is to be destroyed by Jesus Christ, but only at the end. For us and for the world the assurance stands firm — the King who Himself is Righteousness is the King whose city is peace. And that city will come.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)I. ADMIRE THIS KING.
1. Melchisedec is such a king as God is. He is according to Divine model. At the fall God first set up a Judgment-sent, and right speedily a Mercy-seat. Righteousness must ever had the van, All along in the history of God's dealings with men, He kept to this unvarying rule.
2. tie was such a king as Christ is. Christ preached no peace apart from purity. He never made little of vice or error; He was the deadly foe of all evil. He said, "I came not to bring peace, but a sword."
3. Note, next. that He is such a King as right-hearted minds desire. My heart rejoices in a sin-killing King, and then a peace-bestowing King, sweeping out the buyers and the sellers from the temple, and then manifesting Himself there in all His majesty to His waiting people. 4 Melchisedec is such a king as Jesus must be to every one of you who have not yet known Him, if you are ever to receive Him as your Saviour. Righteousness must hold the sceptre, or peace will not attend the court.
5. This is the kind of king that God would have every one of us to be.
II. ENJOY THIS KING.
1. Our Lord is first King of Righteousness.(1) He who religiously obeys Mahomet may .yet be doing grievous moral wrong; but it is never so with the disciples of Jesus: obedience to Jesus is holiness.(2) Notice, next, that if we trust this King of righteousness we are righteous in His merit.
2. And then, next He is after that King of peace. I want you to enjoy the King of Salem, the King of peace. Do you know that at this moment, if you are believer, you have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord?
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
King of peace.
1. That peace which He made betwixt the Creator and creatures.
2. That which He made among creatures themselves. God at first made all in perfect peace. There was a sweet harmony and consent. No discord, no dissension. Creatures by sin brought all out of frame. But Christ being made King, made up all these breaches.For —
1. He satisfied God's justice, pacified His wrath, and reconciled man to God (Romans 3:25, and Romans 5:8,9,10).
2. Christ took men and made them members of His mystical body: and having so united them to Himself, made angels to be at peace with them (Colossians 1:20).
3. He communicateth His Spirit unto men, whereby all the powers of their souls and parts of their body are renewed and brought into a sweet harmony.
4. He brake down the partition wall betwixt Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2:14), and made all one in Himself (Galatians 3:28), and so alters their disposition as they may lovingly live together (Isaiah 11:6, etc.).
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
Consider how great this man was.I. TRUE GREATNESS IS NOT HEREDITARY, BUT PERSONAL.
II. TRUE GREATNESS IS NOT EXTERNAL, BUT IN THE SOUL.
III. TRUE GREATNESS IS NOT THE CREATURE OF CIRCUMSTANCES, BUT ON THE CONTRARY CONTROLS THEM.
IV. TRUE GREATNESS EXISTS AND FLOURISHES ONLY IN CLOSE RELATIONSHIP TO GOD.
V. TRUE GREATNESS IS SEEN IN THE POSSESSION AND UNION OF RIGHTEOUSNESS AND PEACE.
VI. TRUE GREATNESS MANIFESTS ITSELF IN MINISTRATION TO THE WELFARE OF OTHERS.
VII. TRUE GREATNESS WILL RECEIVE ITS DUE REVERENCE, AND INCITE TO A KINDRED CHARACTER.
VII. TRUE GREATNESS REACHES ITS HIGHEST REALISATION IN JESUS CHRIST.
(B. Dale, M. A.)I. THE HONOURS HE RECEIVED. One of the highest marks of greatness is to be had in honour by the good. We should not attach so much importance to a eulogy, as to the character of those by whom it is uttered.
II. THE DUTIES HE DISCHARGED
1. Those of a king. Living in peace; striving to bless his subjects, and honour his God.
2. Those of a patriarch.
3. Those of a priest. This is true greatness, when the spiritual is not neglected for the secular, nor the secular for the spiritual.
III. THE TENTS OF CHARACTER HE DISPLAYED.
1. Stability. Did not allow the idolatry around to influence either his heart or life.
2. Peacefulness and wisdom. Did not embroil himself in quarrels, or resent fancied grievances.
3. Tolerance. Did not go to war himself, but respected the valour of Abraham, believing he engaged in the conflict by command of God.
4. Cordiality. No gloomy ascetic, or lofty monarch.
IV. THE FAME HE SECURED. He was great, because good; illustrious, because beloved of God.
V. THE REWARD HE ENJOYS. Conclusion:
1. It is possible for us to be great after the manner of Melchisedec. Are not Christians made like unto the Son of God?
2. If we would be thus great, we must seek to be invested with the righteousness of Christ.
(R. A. Griffin.)I. LET ME EXHORT YOU TO CONSIDER HOW GREAT THIS MAN, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, IS.
1. This subject claims your consideration. It is His right that you should consider His greatness.
2. Certainly the subject needs consideration; for we shall never gain an idea of how great He is unless we do consider, and consider much. Here is a great deep, and it cannot be fathomed by the thoughtless.
3. I go a little further, and say that not only does my subject claim your consideration and need your consideration, but it solemnly comma rids it. The text is not a mere piece of advice; the apostle charges you to think of Melchisedec, but much more would he have you remember Melchisedec's Antitype. Oh, do not need to be pressed to this Divine study: love it, never cease from it.
4. Follow out this meditation, I pray you because there is an exceeding great reward for any man who will "consider how great this man was." I find for myself that the only possibility of my living is living in Christ and unto Christ.
II. LET ME ASSIST YOU TO CONSIDER HOW GREAT THIS MAN WAS.
1. Lest the very use of the expression, "this man," should leave any body for a moment in doubt as to our faith in His Godhead, I bid you consider how great this man was in His relationship to God. For though He was man, He was not merely man.
2. You are not in doubt upon this vital matter; let me, therefore, ask you to consider "how great this man was" as to His relationship to men. Christ Jesus is the second man, the Lord from heaven.
3. Come a little closer, and reach forward to that which will delight your hearts far more; consider the relationship of Christ to His own people. Long before the heavens and the earth were made, God with prescient eye beheld the person of His Son as God in human nature, and He saw all His elect lying in Him. The Church is His body. "Consider how great this man was." He is so great that all the saints are blessed in Him.
III. THE PRACTICAL IMPROVEMENT of the whole subject. Consider how great this man was, and as you consider, believe in His infinite power to bless men. He is full of b e, sing as the sun is fall of light, that He may shine upon His needy creatures.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
1. It is to be considered in relation to the providence of God. All real greatness — intellectual, moral, and circumstantial — is intimately associated with the sovereignty of Heaven. In certain recorded instances, the connection of God with the attainment of such greatness is very distinctly indicated. It is so in the instances of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Saul, David, and many other Scripture-characters. In these, the direct interference of the Divine Being is at certain points, definitely marked; and the thoughtful reader of the narrative is thus prepared to acknowledge His hand throughout the whole tissue of the events that led the individual on to greatness. But the Scriptural doctrine of God's universal providence involves the fact that, even in more ordinary cases, His superintending care and administrative wisdom are employed (1 Chronicles 29:11, 12). Now, it is reasonable, and fitted to be practically useful, to trace the Divine sovereignty and the Divine wisdom in the production of personal and national greatness, and, when such greatness flashes on the eye, to see and feel that the hand of Jehovah has been there.
2. Human greatness is to be considered in relation to the ravages of death and time. "All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass (1 Peter 1:24). Riches take to themselves wings and fly away" (Proverbs 23:5). Power waxes weak as infancy. Even Fume's green garland is wont to wither on the brow (Ecclesiastes 8:8). How important, by the consideration of earthly greatness as, like other earthly objects, frail and fleeting, to be disabused of vain ambition, and to learn the lesson (Isaiah 2:22).
3. Human greatness is to be considered in relation to the example and encouragement which, in certain cases, it is fitted to afford. Some men have been greatly good. Their moral aims have been lofty, their moral enterprises vast, and their moral attainments bright. And independently of their importance as models, the consideration of them is fitted to inspire the soul with a moral enthusiasm both honourable and useful.
4. Human greatness is to be considered in relation to the typical character which certain great ones of the world possessed. If God has assigned such a character to some of the principle personages of the Bible, and given us the means of tracing it, surely it would be unreasonable and sinful to neglect to do so. By the consideration of those elements of greatness wherein patriarchs, princes, priests, and prophets represented Christ, distinct and vivid views may be obtained of Christ Himself. Thus, too, may be clearly apprehended the intimate relation subsisting among the various moral economies of God, and the antivipative and Messianic character of God's providence from the very birth of time.
(A. S. Patterson.)
(T C. Edwards, D. D.)
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