Who was Melchizedek?

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Who is the mysterious man, named Melchizedek, who is mentioned only a few times in the Bible?

Surprisingly, Melchizedek is more of a title than a personal name. The title comes from two Hebrew words. The word melek means "king" and tsedeq means "righteousness" (Strong's #H4442). In the book of Genesis, chapter 14, this priest was called the king of Salem. The word Salem means "peace." This makes Melchizedek both the King of Righteousness and Peace (Hebrews 7:2).

The first Biblical reference to this person is in Genesis 14:18 where it states, "Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High." This person was the epitome of righteousness, and since no human is inherently righteous, it is evident that he could not be human. If he were human, then Melchizedek would have been a sinner like Aaron the High Priest or anyone else.

The Apostle Paul, in the book of Hebrews, makes some startling statements about this person. He writes that this priest was "Without father, without mother, without genealogy; having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but having been made like the Son of God . . . (Hebrews 7:3, HBFV). Paul is here listing some of the traits of Melchizedek, all of which rule out that he was a mortal human. He is clearly describing someone who is deity.

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The person Paul describes as being the priest of the Most High God who met Abraham (Hebrews 7:1) is none other than a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. Our Savior himself stated that not only did he exist before Abraham but that the father of the faithful also rejoiced to learn about his future efforts as man's Redeemer (John 8:56, 58)!

Notice the following similarity between Melchizedek (the king of Salem) and Christ. They are both Kings over a kingdom. It is stated regarding Jesus, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter (symbol) of Your kingdom" (Hebrews 1:8 - 9). The book of Revelation states that our Savior is the "Lord of lords, and King of kings" (Revelation 17:14). Clearly, both Melchizedek and Jesus and are rulers ordained by the Eternal.

Note also that both the Lord and Melchizedek are High Priests. Every priest is ordained to serve on behalf of men so that he may offer gifts and sacrifices for sin. No one can take this honor upon himself (Hebrews 5:1, 4). The Bible reveals that Christ did not glorify Himself to be made our heavenly high priest but was called to do so (Hebrews 5:5 - 6). He was given this exalted position since salvation was not attainable through the Levitical priesthood (Hebrews 7:11).

Christ was made a Priest forever by an oath of the Most High God (Hebrews 7:20 - 21). His righteousness is the one manifested in the true saints of God (Romans 8:4). The church shares in the priesthood of Christ and the resurrected saints will, like Him, forever be kings and priests (Revelation 5:10). Jesus Christ is the one and only Melchizedek, the King of Peace and Righteousness.

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