High Priest Forever According to the Order of Melchizedek

The Sunday epistle readings during Great Lent are part of a catechetical effort to teach those seeking membership in the Body of Christ the fullness of the truth regarding who Jesus is.  The claim that Jesus is God incarnate – the God-man – is not the invention of later Christian philosophers but can be found in the earliest and authoritative writings of the Church.    Commenting on an idea that is also found in Hebrews 6:13-20 (Epistle for the 4th Sunday of Great Lent), St. John Chrysostom says:

“The Lord has sworn, and he will not change his mind. ‘You are a priest forever in the line of Melchizedek’. Do you see how once again he brings his speech down to a more concrete level, discoursing in one place of his divinity and in another of his humanity? This is what the evangelists also do so as to preserve the precision of the doctrines on both scores. What was the reason for his saying in the line of Melchizedek? With the eucharist in mind, because he too offered bread and wine to Abraham, and because of the independence of this priesthood of the Law and its being without end and without beginning, as Paul too says. You see, what that priest had in shadow was realized in reality in the case of Jesus; and as the names, like ‘Jesus’ and ‘Christ,’ had preceded him, so too this Melchizedek seems to have had no beginning to his days nor end to his life, not because he did not have them but because he had no genealogy. Jesus, on the other hand, had no beginning to his days nor end to his life, not in that fashion but because there was absolutely no chronological beginning in his case, nor any end. One case was shadow, you see, the other reality.”             ( Commentary on the Psalms )

See also:  The High Priesthood of Jesus Christ, and Christ is the Holy Wisdom of God

God Questions His Creation: Genesis 5:1-2 (b)

See: God Questions His Creation: Genesis 5:1-2 (a)

Genesis 5:1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. 2 Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.

God intended for humans to have some affinity toward him.  Our God-likeness relates us to God by nature, whether or not we believe in Him!   But the image of God which is bestowed on us by God  does not make us God, nor even like God, a lesson which Eve and Adam learned to their and our eternal sorrow.   Elsewhere in the Old Testament the people of God are sternly warned away from mistaken idol/image worship.   Isaiah 40:18 states flatly that no “likeness” of any sort compares with God.  So though we are created in God’s image, we humans are not comparable with God.   God is totally other.  In Deuteronomy 4:15-18, the Israelites are reminded that God is invisible and therefore it is forbidden to make any graven image in the likeness of any male or female or of any animal which humans might then worship.   Christians believe that the imagelessness of God changed when the Word became flesh and dwelt on earth and we were able to both see and touch Him.   The incarnation of God suddenly made God visible in the flesh.  To see Christ is to see God the Father (John 12:45).   This becomes the basis for the theology of the icon in Orthodoxy.  God really has brought about a new revelation, and Orthodox icons are an affirmation of the truth of the Gospel that Jesus is both God and man.

And again as in Genesis 1 both male and female are created simultaneously and co-equally, both in God’s likeness.  God blesses both the male and female.  In the Septuagint God names the male Adam.  Naming another being is a sign of the power God has over the man.

“When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.  Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man.”    The unusual wording which is reminiscent of Genesis 1:27 reinforces the idea of God making man both male and female and giving them one name.  This may be what St. Paul had in mind when he wrote:    “there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus”  (Galatians 3:28).  For in Christ we both are blessed with what humans were before the Fall as well as with being a new creation.

Despite the apparent equality between man and woman being repeated here from Genesis 1, many who read Genesis including St. Paul still saw a male dominance as being normative on earth.  Paul comes to that conclusion by reading Genesis 1:27 through the interpretive lens of Genesis 2:22.   Genesis 5:1-2 repeats the Genesis 1:27 version of God creating humans:  male and female are created simultaneously and both are ikons (in the image of) God.  Usually such a repetition in scripture would be seen as significant by the Patristic writers such as John Chrysostom who thought that every verse and word was essential – doubly reinforced if the verse is repeated.  In this case despite this particular repetition, St. Paul more or less downplays Genesis 1:27 and 5:1-2, in favor of a notion that the woman is created after the male so therefore is not equal to the male but must submit to the male (1 Timothy 2:12-14).  His interpretation of Genesis 1 & 2 because it is part of Christian scripture becomes normative in Christian thinking, and yet it must be noted that his interpretation is not entirely faithful to the verses he downplays or outright ignores in 1Timothy.  In the Gospels, the Lord Jesus clearly accepted and affirmed the text of Genesis 1:27 and did not reinterpret that text through Genesis 2. “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female…”  (Matthew 19:4, Mark 10:6)     Jesus uses this passage in arguing against easy divorce and affirms that the husband and wife become one flesh – they share a union, a oneness which God intended when He made them male and female.   Here Jesus does not rank the woman as either second rate to the male or somehow below the male in God-given dignity.   When Jesus then makes the statement, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mark 10:9, Matthew 19:6 ), one realizes He is not simply referring to their marital union but how God created them from the beginning – male and female sharing a God ordained oneness. 

“… he blessed them…”   The original blessing of humans in Genesis 1:28 included words for the humans to be fruitful and to multiply and to fill the earth and subdue it.  The blessing by God is not fleshed out in this text.   To “bless” is far more than to “wish them well” or “wish them good luck.”   In the Bible words and names have power and are chosen carefully for they are thought to contain the essence of thing they represent.  To “bless” means to convey vigor, strength, life and peace to the one being blessed.   God in blessing is bestowing the very life and peace which belong to Him.

Genesis 5:1 takes us back to the beginning of humanity one more time.  It is not going to repeat the story of the original Fall of humankind.   Rather the story simply reminds us that in the beginning humans were blessed by God.  No paradise in the story this time, and no original sin is mentioned.  But quickly in the story it becomes clear that the world is not paradise for in it there is sin, and though humans live long, they still die.   The story is going to move quickly to the lives of the most important characters in the early history of the people of God.

Next: God Questions His Creation: Genesis 5:3-5 (a)