Melchizedek was the king of Salem and a priest for God the Most High. He met Abraham when Abraham was coming back after defeating the kings. That day Melchizedek blessed him. Then Abraham gave him a tenth of everything he had.
The name Melchizedek, king of Salem, has two meanings. First, Melchizedek means “king of justice.” And “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” No one knows who his father or mother was or where he came from. And no one knows when he was born or when he died. Melchizedek is like the Son of God in that he will always be a priest.
You can see that Melchizedek was very great. Abraham, our great ancestor, gave him a tenth of everything he won in battle. Now the law says that those from the tribe of Levi who become priests must get a tenth from their own people, even though they and their people are both from the family of Abraham. Melchizedek was not even from the tribe of Levi, but Abraham gave him a tenth of what he had. And Melchizedek blessed Abraham—the one who had God’s promises. And everyone knows that the more important person always blesses the less important person.
Those priests get a tenth, but they are only men who live and then die. But Melchizedek, who got a tenth from Abraham, continues to live, as the Scriptures say. Now those from the family of Levi are the ones who get a tenth from the people. But we can say that when Abraham paid Melchizedek a tenth, then Levi also paid it. Levi was not yet born, but he already existed in his ancestor Abraham when Melchizedek met him.
The people were given the law under the system of priests from the tribe of Levi. But no one could be made spiritually perfect through that system of priests. So there was a need for another priest to come. I mean a priest like Melchizedek, not Aaron. And when a different kind of priest comes, then the law must be changed too. We are talking about our Lord Christ, who belonged to a different tribe. No one from that tribe ever served as a priest at the altar. It is clear that Christ came from the tribe of Judah. And Moses said nothing about priests belonging to that tribe.
And these things become even clearer when we see that another priest has come who is like Melchizedek. He was made a priest, but not because he met the requirement of being born into the right family. He became a priest by the power of a life that will never end. This is what the Scriptures say about him: “You are a priest forever—the kind of priest Melchizedek was.”
The old rule is now ended because it was weak and worthless. The Law of Moses could not make anything perfect. But now a better hope has been given to us. And with that hope we can come near to God.
Also, it is important that God made a promise with an oath when he made Jesus high priest. When those other men became priests, there was no oath. But Christ became a priest with God’s oath. God said to him,
“The Lord has made a promise with an oath
and will not change his mind:
‘You are a priest forever.’”
So this means that Jesus is the guarantee of a better agreement from God to his people.
Also, when one of those other priests died, he could not continue being a priest. So there were many of those priests. But Jesus lives forever. He will never stop serving as a priest. So Christ can save those who come to God through him. Christ can do this forever, because he always lives and is ready to help people when they come before God.
So Jesus is the kind of high priest we need. He is holy. He has no sin in him. He is pure and not influenced by sinners. And he is raised above the heavens. He is not like those other priests. They had to offer sacrifices every day, first for their own sins, and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus doesn’t need to do that. He offered only one sacrifice for all time. He offered himself. The law chooses high priests who are men and have the same weaknesses that all people have. But after the law, God spoke the oath that made his Son high priest. And that Son, made perfect through suffering, will serve forever.