Hebrews 5 - Melchizedek
In our study last night we discussed Christ as the perfect High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek, and we also discussed the Christian ministerial priesthood. Here are some notes from the Brown University OCF on the subject.
Who is MELCHIZEDEK and what is his connection with Christ?
We first find Mechizedek in the Old Testament:
Genesis 14:18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.
This, of course, was after Abraham had conquered several kings in battle. He gave a tithe to Melchizedek and broke bread with him.
Psalms 110:4 The LORD has sworn And will not relent, "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek."
This is considered Messianic, referring to Christ.
Hebrews 5:6 As He also says in another place: "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek";
This is the reference to the above.
Hebrews 5:10 called by God as High Priest "according to the order of Melchizedek,"
From the Orthodox Study Bible Notes:
5:1-4 To qualify as priest one must (1) be taken from among men--be fully
human, (2) be appointed for men specifically for liturgical service, (3) offer
sacrifices, (4) have compassion, and (5) be called by God. In the Aaronic
priesthood a priest identified himself with humanity and had sympathy for his
fellow men because he sinned as other men sinned, and the sacrifices were
vicarious offerings of animals.
5:5-11 Christ assumes and fulfills the priesthood of the OT (see 5:1-4): Like Melchizedek He is both priest and king, He does not sin, and his sacrifice is the human sacrifice of Himself. This perfect priesthood is present in His Church. 5:7 Most likely a reference to our Lord's agonizing prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane (see Matt. 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42;Luke 22:39-46). Jesus cries, and tears show the absolute reality of the Incarnation. Christ experiences all human emotions. Nevertheless, in the agony of injustice and in physical pain He submits to the will of the Father.
MELCHIZEDEK (v. 1) means "King of Righteousness." He is also KING OF SALEM (another name for Jerusalem), that is, of peace (shalom). In King Melchizedek, then, God's holiness and forgiving grace are reconciled. By contrast, Levi is only a priest, not a king, and he does not reconcile God's Law with His mercy. Melchizedek, however, is priest as well as king. He serves under the Lord God of Israel (Gen 14:22; Ps. 18:13) and serves over Abraham and all of Abraham's children (7:4-10). He serves according to an eternal covenant (v. 3). In his services of worship, the tithe is given to him (vv. 2, 6, 9) and he in turn offers bread and wine to the worshippers.
In Israel, THE SONS OFLEVI (v. 5) were the priestly tribe. They had no property
or inheritance but belonged wholly to God, receiving tithes from the 12 tribes for
their service in the temple. But since all Levites are sons of Abraham,
Melchizedek is superior to Levi (vv. 5-10).Who, then, is this Melchizedek, who
has no lineage, whose life (V. 8) and priesthood (V. 3) have no end, and who is
LIKE THE SON OF GOD (V. 5)? He is at least a type of Christ, if not an early
earthly appearance of Christ (see Ps. 110).7:11-28 Not only is the founder of
the New Covenant priesthood superior to that of the Old Covenant, the rules of
the New Covenant's priestly order are also superior. For a priesthood is so
intertwined with a covenant that if the priesthood is changed, so is the covenant
(vv. 11-15). The Levitical priesthood is imperfect (vv. 11, 19):(1) Its
Genealogical Requirement (vv. 11-17): It is for one family only (vv. 13, 14) and
deals with mortal and corrupthumanity (FLESHLY, vv. 16, 28): it consists of
sinful priests(V. 26).(2) The Power Given at Ordination (vv. 18, 19): In the
work that it effects, the Levitical priesthood is weak (its sacrifices needed to
be repeated, see also V. 27) and useless, incapable of perfecting (it could not
reconcile to God and could not give the inner power to obey).(3) The Ordination
Itself (vv. 20-22): It is without a direct confirmation from God.(4) Its Term of
Office (vv. 23-25): Since it deals with mortal humanity, its members are
temporary/impermanent and so it requires many members (V. 23).(5) Its Moral and
Spiritual Requirements (vv. 26-28): The Levitical priests all sin and all operate
out of this world, from the earth. They are mere creatures, mere men. In contrast,
the Melchizedek an priesthood is perfect:(a) Its Genealogical Requirement: While
Jesus Christ was necessarily a Jew of the tribe of Judah (V. 14), more
importantly He was of Melchizedek, without genealogy (V. 3)--effected by
the virgin birth--and immortal (vv. 16, 17) and sinless (V. 26): God incarnate, a
man for all men. (b) The Power Given at Ordination: The power of
Christ's priesthood is strong and effective: it perfects and draws us near to God
(V. 19).(c) The Ordination Itself: The Father Himself takes part in the Son's
ordination (V. 21).(d) Its Term of Office: Since Christ is immortal,
the Melchizedek an priesthood needs only one officeholder (vv. 24,25).(e) Its
Moral and Spiritual Requirements: Christ is sinless and in heaven. He is more
than a mere created human; He is also the Son of God.7:24
Schmemann, Eucharist: "Finally, if the 'assembly as theChurch' is the image of the body of Christ, then the image of thehead of the body is the priest. He presides over,
he heads the gathering, and his standing at their head is precisely what makes a
group of Christians the gathering of the Church in the fulnessof her gifts. If
according to his humanity the priest is only one -and perhaps the most sinful and
unworthy -- of those assembled, then by the gift of the Holy Spirit, which has
been preserved by the Church since Pentecost and handed down without interruption through the laying on of hands of the bishop, hemanifests the power of the priesthood of Christ, who consecratedhimself for us and who is the one priest of
the New Testament:'and he holds his priesthood permanently, because he
continuesforever' (Heb. 7:24).
Just as the holiness of the assembly is notthat of the people who constitute it but Christ's, so the priesthood of the priest is not his but Christ's, bestowed on theChurch because she is his body. Christ is not outside the Church,and neither his power nor his authority is delegated to anyone. He himself abides in the Church and, through the Holy Spirit, hefulfils her entire life. The priest is neither a'representative' nor a 'deputy' of Christ: in the sacrament he isChrist himself, just as the assembly is his body. Standing atthe head of the body, he manifests in himself the unity of theChurch, the oneness of the unity of all her members with himself. Thus, in this unity of the celebrant and the assembled ismanifested the divine-human unity of the Church -- in Christ andwith Christ." (Pages 24,25).