High Priest Forever According to the Order of Melchizedek

MelchizedekThis hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.  (Hebrews 6:19-20)

Theodoret of Cyrus writing in the 5th Century says:

“Now, the comparison he had frequently gone to great trouble to develop he develops in the present case.  Firstly, he recalls the story of MelchizedekThis Melchizedek, remember, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him.  Abraham apportioned him a tenth of everything (Hebrews 7:1-2).  While he seems to conduct his treatment in narrative style, he is laying the groundwork for his thesis.  The reason, you see, that he showed Abraham giving a blessing and offering a tenth of the spoils was to show the patriarch yielding precedence even in type.  Then he brings out his importance also from the names: In the first place his name means King of righteousness; then he was king of Salem, which means peace.  This name, Melchizedek, in the Hebrew and Syriac language means King of righteousness; he ruled over Salem, and the word Salem is translated peace.  His intention, therefore, is to present him in this way as a type of Christ the Lord: according to the apostle he is our peace, and according to the Old Testament author he is our righteousness.”  (COMMENTARY ON THE LETTERS OF ST PAUL Vol 2, pp 162-163)

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And though Christ is said to be a priest according to the order of Melchizedek, Melchizedek himself is said to resemble Christ!  “He is without father or mother or genealogy, and has neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest for ever” John 8:58 (Hebrews 7:3; emphasis added).  How could Melchizedek resemble Christ who is born 1900 years after he was?  It has everything to do with Christ’s eternal nature.  Christ existed before Abraham!   Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).  The Son of God came first and Melchizedek, King of Righteousness and King of Peace, resembles AND imitates Him.  As we sing in the Ode 3 of the Great Canon of St Andrew in the first week of Great Lent: “Imitate that Priest of God and solitary King (Hebrews 7:3), who was an image of the life of Christ in the world among men.

2 thoughts on “High Priest Forever According to the Order of Melchizedek

  1. Joseph

    Another great commentary; would Melchizedek be considered a saint, or a appearing of pre incarnate Christ in the Old testament?

    1. Fr. Ted

      He is considered a saint . He is portrayed in Orthodox iconography and is listed among the saints of the Church (Namesday: May 22 and also remembered with the Forefathers of Christ just before Christmas). Rather than a pre-incarnation, he is considered a typological figure.

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