The Order of Melchisedec

Brian Clatworthy, Newton Abbot, Devon, England [SEE PROFILE BELOW]

Category: Exposition


Apart from the historical record of the meeting of Abraham and Melchisedec contained in Genesis 14 and one obscure reference in Psalm 110 v. 4, we are totally indebted to the writer of Hebrews for our understanding of the High Priesthood of Christ.
Hebrews is replete with references to Christ’s priestly activities but the writer’s main argument is to be found in Chapter 7. The table below enables us to appreciate the force of his argument as he compares and contrasts the dynamics of the two priestly lines.

Verses 1 - 2

The Aaronic Priesthood

Aaron was exclusively a High Priest; he was not a civil leader as Moses. These offices were kept separate in Israel. God punished those who violated this principle – see for example the punishment meted out to Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26 for such an infraction.
The Aaronic priesthood was later in time.

The Order of Melchisedec

Melchisedec was a King Priest. Two offices were held simultaneously by one person therefore Christ’s priesthood must be superior. He has the capacity to reign and engage in priestly activity at the same time. He combines in Himself regal splendour and priestly sympathy. His very order guarantees righteousness and peace to those who are linked with Him.
If Melchisedec blessed Abraham then he represents a priestly house, which antedates the Aaronic priesthood.

Verses 3,14 and 23 - 25

The Aaronic Priesthood

Aaron was subject to the law of a carnal commandment, i.e, a law that required change once a person had died. Thus the Aaronic priesthood depended upon succession and records had to be maintained to confirm lineal descent within Aaron’s family.

The Order of Melchisedec

he omission of the genealogy of Melchisedec in Genesis 14 is used by the writer to typify the timelessness of the priesthood of Christ. It did not depend upon succession since there was no record of Melchisedec’s death. Thus Christ’s High Priesthood is viewed as eternal because he ever lives to make intercession for His people.

Verses 4 - 10

The Aaronic Priesthood

Levi had a legal right to be paid tithes by the nation of Israel.

The Order of Melchisedec

Abraham gave tithes freely to Melchisedec. As Levi was in the semen of Abraham when this happened, Levi in effect paid tithes, albeit passively, to Melchisedec, thus acknowledging the superiority of his priesthood.

Verses 11 - 12 and 18

The Aaronic Priesthood

The Aaronic priesthood belonged to the material world. It had an earthly sanctuary, which was a pattern of the heavenly order. Linked to this was a covenant which could not promote holiness, not because the covenant was inherently flawed but because of the material it had to handle, that was flesh.

The Order of Melchisedec

Christ’s priesthood is linked to a new covenant. He serves in heaven (not merely in a figurative place) and His own blood has ratified the covenant. Through this new covenant, God’s law has been written on men’s hearts and this results in holiness of life. 

Verses 21 - 24

The Aaronic Priesthood

The priests under the old order were merely called by God. The office was a temporary measure.

The Order of Melchisedec

In respect of Christ’s priesthood, God has sworn an oath that cannot be altered. The office is eternal.

Verses 26 / 27

The Aaronic Priesthood

The name Aaron literally means ‘very high’. This is precisely what he became when God took him to officiate as a High Priest. The office therefore dignified the man. 

Aaron had to offer up sacrifices for his own sins as well as for the people he represented.

The Order of Melchisedec

Christ was made higher than the heavens to become our Great High Priest. But the man dignified the office.

Not so with Christ who was without sin.

Verses 27

The Aaronic Priesthood

Under the old covenant, the sacrifices could never put away sin; there was an annual remembrance.

The Order of Melchisedec

Christ as our Great High Priest has offered Himself as a final sacrifice for sin. There is no further remembrance of sin.

Since we therefore have such a Great High Priest let us be totally confident that we can draw near to God at any time through Him.

AUTHOR PROFILE: He is an elder and active member of a pioneer assembly work in Newton Abbott. For many years he has been welcomed as a ministering brother in the south of England and has written a number of articles for the magazine. He is married and has two children.

There are 24 articles in
ISSUE (2004, Volume 59 Issue 2)

1 Corinthians 15-16 (2)

Altars In The Life Of Abraham

Christ - Is He not omniscient, all knowing?

Christ my Life

The Christian Life

‘Do not say that!’


God is Faithful

What does God look like?

Gospel Work and other Activities

Hezekiah’s Revival

Studies in Luke: Chapter 7

What the Bible teaches - Numbers

The Order of Melchisedec

Peter’s ‘Precious Points’

Pointers for young and not so young preachers

The Reality of Christ in the Mids

From Scripture to Stucture

The Scriptures opened, expounded and understood

Seed Sowers

Timeless truths about the local assembly

Winshill Gospel Hall

Wise words from the book of Proverbs

Who says the Word of God is not important?

This article is not part of a series

There are 80 articles by this author

The Order of Melchisedec

The Epistle to Philemon

Paul’s View of the Law

Introducing the Feasts

The Passover

The Feasts of Unleavended Bread and Firstfruits

Feasts of Weeks and Trumpets

Day of Atonement

Feasts of Tabernacles

Paul’s view of the Person of Christ

The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia Minor

Paul’s view of the Person of Christ

The Letters of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor

The Church at Pergamos

The Kingdom of God in the preaching of the Lord Jesus

John Calvin - A man predestined for greatness?

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The Linguistic Heritage of the King James Bible

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