Was Melchizedek Jesus?

A cursory reading of Hebrews 7:3 lends itself to the notion that Jesus was possibly Melchizedek. It is said of Melchizedek that he was “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life…”  Who else could that describe but Jesus himself?  In fact, our Lord is the only one in scriptures to be described this way (Isa. 41:4; 44:6; 48:12; Rev. 1:8, 11, 17; 2:8; 21:6; 22:13).  Does that mean Melchizedek has to be Jesus who was making a divine visit with Abraham in Genesis 14:17-24?

This position assumes Jesus’ appearance as Melchizedek was brief much like other heavenly visits Abraham received (Gen. 18).  If Jesus had reigned as King of Salem while adopting the name Melchizedek, it would qualify as His first coming to earth.  That would directly contradict passages that talk about Christ’s second coming when it would have to be counted as His third coming (Heb. 9:28).

However, Melchizedek was a historical figure who reigned in Salem.  “Modern archaeology has now shown that Melchizedek was from a long line of Jerusalem Kings who used a title disclaiming any hereditary claim to the crown. At every formal mention of the king, there was a statement to be made: “It was not my father and it was not my mother who established me in this position, but it was the mighty arm of the king himself who made me master of the lands of my father” (INTERNATIONAL STANDARD BIBLE ENCYCLOPEDIA, p. 230. Quoted from “The High Priesthood of Christ,” by Cecil Willis).

Further, Melchizedek reigned for 113 years in Salem according to an ancient text.  In Adam Clark’s Commentary while quoting the Bereshith Rabba, sect. 18, fol. 18 he relates, “In this way both Christ and Melchisedec were without father and without mother; i.e. were not descended from the original Jewish sacerdotal stock.  Yet Melchisedec, who was a Canaanite, was a priest of the most high God.  This sense Suidas confirms under the word Melchisedec, where, after having stated that, having reigned in Salem 113 years, [emp. mine SAH] he died a righteous man and a bachelor.”

Melchizedek was an actual person who lived during the era of Abraham.  Jesus could not be Melchizedek as he reigned 113 over the kingdom of Salem.  Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (Jn. 18:36).  If Jesus was Melchizedek it could be argued that Jesus had a kingdom in this world and that His earthly kingdom preceded His appearance the second time on earth after His virgin birth.  Yet, Jesus is emphatic that He had no kingdom in this world.

One other point ought to be emphasized. The same verse that has led to the misunderstanding of the identity of Melchizedek also says that he was “made like the Son of God.”  To be “made like” someone is to be representative of someone.  He could not be the same person but someone who is similar by comparison.  Therefore, Hebrews 7:3 is a verse that compares Melchizedek to Jesus without implying they are the same in identity.

Obviously, Melchizedek was not Jesus!

By Steve A. Hamilton
shamilton@rap.midco.net