He [i.e. Melchizdek] of whom these things are spoken…is our Lord who sprang out of Judah

melchizedek2In the series “13 reasons why Melchizedek was actually the pre-incarnate Word of God” the following article is reason # 12.

The clearest and most straightforward reason to believe that Melchizedek was actually the pre-incarnate Word of God is because the text expressly calls for this conclusion.

Particularly,

Hebrews 7:6,13-14 says:

(6) But he [i.e. Melchizdek] whose descent is not counted from them [the Levites] received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises…(13) For he [i.e. Melchizdek] of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. (14) For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.

In verse 13, the person of whom “these things” are spoken of is clearly Melchizedek. From Hebrews 6:20 (where the section on Melchizedek begins) until Hebrews 7:12 he is the main person in focus. In fact, only one verse in that section explicitly mentions Christ—namely, Hebrews 6:20 which asserts that He is the high priest after the order of Melchizedek. On the other hand, verses 1-10 of Hebrews 7 are all attributed to Melchizedek. Specifically, they speak about Melchizedek’s superiority as adduced from his name, his titles and as seen through his interactions, directly with Abraham and indirectly with Levi. Though verses 11-12 are also ultimately linked to Melchizedek, the aim of these verses is not to speak about him or about any other person. The aim of verses 11-12 is priesthood management. Verses 11 speaks about the role of the Levitical priesthood’s deficiency (i.e. the inability to confer perfection) in prompting God to change the presiding priesthood, while verse 12 speaks about the legal implications of changing the presiding priesthood. In summary, Hebrews 7:1-12 has two topics in mind: the superiority of Melchizedek and priesthood management.

Regarding any explicit references, Abraham is mentioned in Hebrews 7:1-10 but only in passing because Hebrews 7:1-10 is not primarily about Abraham. Levi is also mentioned in Hebrews 7:1-10 but only in passing because Hebrews 7:1-10 is not primarily about Levi. Hebrews 7:11 mentions Aaron and Melchizedek but the verse is not primarily concerned with either person. The verse is primarily concerned with why a priesthood change was required. Christ is not mentioned even once in the entire passage of Hebrews 7:1-13. There is an allusion to Christ in verse 11 (as “another priest”) but then so is there to Levi, Aaron and Melchizedek.

These are the “things” which the author of Hebrews 7:1-12 has mentioned in that passage. If the author is looking back upon Hebrews 7:1-12 as he pens v.13, then based upon our analysis, it seems undeniable that up until Hebrews 7:13, the central person who he has in mind is Melchizedek. In fact, any allusions to Abraham, Levi, Aaron or Christ are only included in support of propositions regarding Melchizedek. Nevertheless, it appears that many (if not most) Bible commentators are of a different opinion regarding Hebrew 7:13’s “he of whom these things are spoken.

Several commentators see Christ (and not Melchizedek) as this expressions’ antecedent. For example, regarding the referent of “these things”,

Albert Barnes writes:

The Lord Jesus, the Messiah, to whom they had reference. The things here spoken of pertain to his office as priest; his being of the order of Melchizedek. The apostle here “assumes” it as a point concerning which there could be no dispute, that these things referred to the Lord Jesus. Those whom he addressed would not be disposed to call this in question, and his argument had conducted him to this conclusion.

John Gill writes:

In Psalms 110:4 and in the type of him Melchizedek, in the preceding verses; for not Melchizedek is here meant, but the Lord Jesus Christ, as appears by what follows; the antitype of Melchizedek, the Lord our righteousness, the Prince of peace, the priest of God, that lives for ever, without father, without mother

E. M. Zerr writes:

These things refers to the statements about another priest who was to bring a change in the law. That priest belonged to another tribe, which had nothing to do with the altar service.

Zerr, E.M. “Commentary on Hebrews 7”. Zerr’s Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/hebrews-7.html. 1952.

Joseph Benson writes:

For he of whom — Or, to whom; these things are spoken — That is, he to whom it was said, Thou art a priest for ever, &c., was of a different tribe, namely, that of Judah; of which no man gave attendance at the altar

Henry Alford writes:

For He with reference to whom (cf. reff.: and ὠς ἐπὶ τὸ πᾶν εἰπεῖν, Plato, Legg. ii. p. 667 D) these things (viz. the promise in Psalms 110.: not, these which I am now saying) are said, is member of (hath taken part in: the perfect implying the enduring of His humanity) a different tribe (from that of Levi, which has been already sufficiently indicated in the preceding context), of which (sprung from which, coming from which, see reff.) no one hath (ever, to this day) given attention (applied himself, see ch. Heb_2:1, note; and reff. So Demosth. p. 10. 25, τῷ πολέμῳ προσέχειν: Xen. Mem. iv. 1. 2, ταχὺ μανθάνειν οἷς προσέχοιεν: Polyæn. p. 415, ταῖς γεωργίαις προσεῖχον) to the altar (i. e. as a general and normal practice, had any thing to do with the service of the priesthood).

Johann Albrecht Bengel writes:

He, respecting whom these things are spoken by the Psalmist.—μετέσχηκεν, belonged to, had part in) We have the same verb, ch. Heb_2:14.—τῷ θυσιαστηρίῳ, at the altar) Le vitical.

In Hebrews 7:13, is the referent for “he of whom these things are spoken” found in verses 11-12 or the first ten verses of Hebrews 7? Most commentators seem to restrict the referent to verses 11-12. Even then, these men treat verse 11 as if were propositionally identical to Psalms 110:4. While it is correct to say that Hebrews 7:11-12 makes reference to the content of Psalm 110:4, it is incorrect to say that Hebrews 7:13 “things [that] are spoken” point back to Psalm 110:4’s proposition. We must remember that in verse 13 the author of Hebrews expects the reader to contemplate things (plural) which were spoken about a person. The subject of “these things [that] are spoken” is hence a person and not a priesthood.

Even if Hebrews 7:11-12 meant to reiterate Psalm 110:4 (it doesn’t) that verse speaks of three persons: God the Father, Melchizedek and Christ. From the solitude of this verse how is one to choose who the author had in mind?

Hebrews 7:11-12
(11) If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
(12) For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

Hebrews 7:11’s rhetorical question is NOT about a person but about a change in the priesthood. The question asks why God would supplant the Levitical priesthood for another if the Levitical priesthood was not inferior. The conclusion which Hebrews 7:11’s rhetorical question demands is that the deficient Levitical priesthood could never confer perfection upon its beneficiaries. In asking this question, Hebrews 7:11 indirectly summons Psalm 110:4 which in turn speaks of three persons: God the Father, Melchizedek and Christ. If Hebrews 7:13 “things [that] are spoken” is supposed to primarily point back to Hebrews 7:11 (as our opponents suggest) and if Hebrews 7:11’s intent was simply to reacclimate the reader with Psalm 110:4 then the one “of whom these things are spoken” could rightly refer to either God the Father, Melchizedek or Christ.

However, the intent of Hebrews 7:11 is not to reiterate Psalm 110:4. Nor is Psalm 110:4 the subject of Hebrews 7:11. For Psalms 110:4 does not attempt to broach the topic of the Levitical priesthood’s inadequacies. Nor is Hebrews 7:11’s subject a person. Hebrews 7:11 subject is the Levitical priesthood and its apparent failure at conferring perfection. This is just basic grammar.

If Hebrews 7 stopped at verse 13, the absence of verse 14 would force the reader to abandon the bias that is created by reading it into verse 13’s reasoning. Unfortunately, verse 14 seems to cause many readers to abandon proper comprehension techniques and make an easy assumption that is not really supported by the foregoing text. To be sure, it is quite audacious for Hebrews 7:13 to be equating Melchizedek with our Judah-hailing Lord (as I still boldly allege) and yet it is no more preposterous than Hebrews 7:8’s claim that Melchizedek as an immortal heavenly tithe-taker! After all, “no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven” (John 3:13) and yet the same Melchizedek who Abraham tithed to while “rejoic[ing] to see [his] day” (John 8:56) ascended up to heaven to receive tithes there in God’s name.

Incidentally, Jesus uttered the aforementioned John 3:13 while He was here on earth and yet, that verse, claims that He was also simultaneously in heaven. How is that for audacious! Of course, readers who choose to rely upon compromised modern Bible versions (e.g. LSB, ESV, NIV, NASB, NET, etc.) will not find the fullness of Christ’s claim in their criticism-enlightened text of John 3:13.

Anyway, in case you are still on the fence, you would do well to realize that the primary goal of Hebrews 7:1-13‘s author is to interchange details about Melchizedek and Christ in such a way that the reader is forced to realize that these two persons are actually the same being. Consider the evidence:

  • Hebrews 7:2: Scripture ascribes to Melchizedek titles (King of righteousness & King of peace) that can only belong to Christ.
  • Hebrews 7:3: Scripture says Melchizedek is uncreated just like Christ
  • Hebrews 7:3: Scripture makes Melchizedek retain the position of high priest forever (how then can another high priest succeed Him unless that high priest is of course essentially the same person?)
  • Hebrews 7:6: Melchizedek, who in v.3 is uncreated and without descent is now spoken of as having a non-Levitical descent.  In other words, Scripture is speaking about Melchizedek as if He were Christ.
  • Hebrews 7:8: As stated earlier, the Scriptures describe Melchizedek as an immortal heavenly tithe-taker yet only God is an immortal heavenly tithe-taker!
  • Hebrews 7:13: seeking to “put a nail in the coffin,” Scripture describes Melchizedek (again) as someone with non-Levitical descent.

It is extremely clear that Melchizedek is the ONLY valid antecedent to the pronoun “he” in verse 13. Yet, verse 14 goes on to describe this person—not as Melchizedek—but as “our Lord” who “sprang out of Juda.” All Bible students know that Jesus is our Lord who sprang out of Judah (Micah 5:2). Therefore, in the Writer’s mind, there is no functional distinction between Melchizedek and our Lord Jesus Christ, “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Revelation 5:5).

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