The Mystery of Melchizedek Part 1: Who was Melchizedek?

Genesis 14:18-20; Hebrews 7:1-3; John 8:14
       And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was priest of God Most High. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth: and blessed be God Most High, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand.
       This Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of God Most High, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him, to whom also Abraham divided a tenth part of all (being first, by interpretation, King of righteousness, and then also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God), abideth a priest continually.
       Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The great question that first offers itself is, Who was this Melchizedek? All the account we have of him in the Old Testament is in Genesis 14 and in Psalm 110.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Many Christian writers have thought that this was an appearance of the Son of God Himself, our Lord Jesus. But as nothing is expressly revealed concerning it, we can determine nothing.

MATTHEW HENRY: The most commonly received opinion is that Melchizedek was a Canaanitish prince, that reigned in Salem, and kept up the true religion there; but, if so, why his name should occur here only in all the story of Abram, and why Abram should have altars of his own and not attend the altars of his neighbour Melchizedek who was greater than he, seem unaccountable.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): There is something exceedingly mysterious in the person and character of this king of Salem; and to find out the whole is impossible.

MATTHEW HENRY: Indeed we are much in the dark about him; God has thought fit to leave us so, that this Melchizedek might be a more lively type of Him whose generation none can declare―Jesus Christ Himself, appearing by a special dispensation and privilege to Abraham in the flesh, and who was known to Abraham by the name Melchizedek, which agrees very well to Christ, and to what is said, John 8:56, “Abraham saw his day and rejoiced.” Much may be said for this opinion, and what is said in Hebrews 7 does not seem to agree with any mere man; but then it seems strange to make Christ a type of Himself.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Melchisedek seems to have been, first by name, and then by place of office, doubly designated a king…A teaching was intended by the Holy Spirit in the names.

ADAM CLARKE: Melchizedek is called here king of Salem, and the most judicious interpreters allow that by Salem, Jerusalem is meant. That it bore this name anciently is evident from Psalm 76:1 & 2: “In Judah is God known; his name is great in Israel. In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion.”

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Melchizedek means “king of righteousness” and Salem “king of peace.” But observe it well that the Holy spirit has also emphasized the order of these two: “first” king of righteousness, “after that also” king of peace.” This calls attention to another important and blessed detail in our type. Doubtless, the historical Melchizedek was both a righteous and peaceable king, but what the apostle here takes up is not the personal characteristics of this man, but how he represented Christ in His mediatorial office and work.
      Now the “King of righteousness” and “of peace” is the Author, Cause, and Dispenser of righteousness and peace. Christ is the Maker and Giver of peace because He is “the Lord our righteousness,” Jeremiah 23:6. Righteousness must go first, and then peace will follow after. This is the uniform order of Scripture wherever the two are mentioned together: peace never precedes righteousness. Mark well the following passages: “Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth are met together: righteousness and peace have kissed,” Psalm 85:9,10; “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever,” Isaiah 32:17; “In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth,” Psalm 72:7.

ROBERT HALDANE (1764-1842): The omission of the genealogy of Melchisedek, of his birth, and of his death, denoting the eternity of Jesus Christ, proves how much even the silence of Scripture is instructive.

A. W. PINK: No detail in Scripture is meaningless…This silence was a part of the type.

MATTHEW HENRY: It is difficult to imagine that any mere man should be said to be “without father, without mother, and without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life,” Hebrews 7:3. It is witnessed of Melchizedek that he liveth, and that he abideth a priest continually.

ADAM CLARKE: Christ, as to His Divine nature, is without father or mother, and without beginning of days; nor can He have any end. Other priests could not continue by reason of death; but He is the Eternal, He cannot die, and therefore can have no successor: “He is a priest for ever,” Psalm 110:4. Therefore, as Melchizedek was a priest and a king, and had no successor, so shall Christ be: of the increase and government of His kingdom there shall be no end. Melchizedek was priest of the Most High God; and consequently not of one people or nation, but of the universe―Jesus is priest of all mankind, and for ever. He tasted death for every man; He is the King eternal; He has the keys of hell and of death. As God is the King and Governor of all human beings, Christ, being the priest of the Most High God, must also be the priest for and over all whom this most high God made and governs; and therefore He is the priest, the atoning sacrifice, of the whole human race. In this the main similitude consists between the “order of Melchizedek,” Psalm 110:4, and that of Christ.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): The signification of his name, a title of office, King of righteousness, and King of peace, agrees with Christ the Lord, our righteousness and our peace: his being without father, mother, descent, beginning of days, and end of life, agree with the divinity, humanity, and eternity of Christ; and Who is likewise King and Priest, as he was; and Who blesses his people, as he did Abraham; and refreshes them with bread and wine, as he did Abraham’s soldiers―in this Melchizedek was a type of Christ, Who comforts and refreshes His hungry and weary people with Himself, the bread of life, and with the wine of His love.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Look, therefore, always for Christ in the Scripture. He is the treasure hid in the field, both of the Old and New Testament…Have Christ, then, always in view, when you are reading the Word of God, and this, like the star in the east, will guide you to the Messiah, will serve as a key to everything that is obscure, and unlock to you the wisdom and riches of all the mysteries of the kingdom of God.


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