Read Genesis 14:18-20
and Hebrews 7:1-3
. Who was Melchizedek, and how did he prefigure Jesus?
Melchizedek was both a king and priest. He was also superior to Abraham, since Abraham paid him tithe. Likewise, Jesus is king and priest (Heb. 1:3
); unlike Melchizedek, however, Jesus was sinless (Heb. 7:26-28
). Hebrews 7:15
explains that Jesus was priest “in the likeness of Melchizedek”
(NKJV). This is what the earlier expression in Hebrews, “according to the order of Melchizedek”
, NKJV), means. Jesus was not a successor of Melchizedek, but His priesthood was similar to his.
For instance, Paul says that Melchizedek was without father, mother, genealogy, birth, and death. Some have suggested that Melchizedek was an incarnation of Jesus in the time of Abraham. But this thought does not fit the argument of Hebrews. Melchizedek “resembles”
Jesus (see ESV), which implies that He was different from Jesus (Heb. 7:3
It has also been suggested that Melchizedek was a heavenly being, but this would destroy the argument of Hebrews. If Melchizedek were without father, mother, beginning, or end, he would be God Himself. This poses a problem. Melchizedek’s heavenly, fully divine priesthood would have preceded the ministry of Jesus. If this were the case, as Hebrews says, “what further need would there have been for another priest to arise”
Instead, Hebrews uses the silence of Scripture regarding Melchizedek’s birth, death, and genealogy to build a typology, symbol, for Jesus’ priestly ministry (Gen. 14:18-20
) and reveals that Jesus Himself was eternal. In short, Melchizedek was a Canaanite king-priest who served as a type of Christ. “It was Christ that spoke through Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God. Melchizedek was not Christ, but he was the voice of God in the world, the representative of the Father. And all through the generations of the past, Christ has spoken; Christ has led His people, and has been the light of the world.”
— Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 1, p. 409.