DOI: https://doi.org/10.21847/1728-9343.2019.5(163).181861

Melchizedek through the eyes of the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews

Alexander Shumilin

Abstract


The article intends to study the person of Melchizedek as described in the Epistle of Hebrews. It provides an overview of sources who have engaged with this biblical hero and interpretations that exist on his personality. It has been shown that there are many varied opinions regarding Melchizedek. The article attempts yet again, following closely the author of the Epistle, to unravel the secret of this person. The research is based on the hermeneutic-exegetical method. It is shown how, step-by-step, the author of Hebrews guides the reader in the disclosure of the identity of Melchizedek, which undeniably has a serious impact on the thinking of his first and of contemporary readers. The article starts with a brief introduction to the Epistle followed by a description of the historical background of the first century. It is shown that the Epistle in a narrative style was written either during the period of persecution of Christians, or just preceding it. Apparently, difficult times affected the faith of the members of the community. Some of them had cooled off in their faith, some had departed from Christ, some had fallen into sin, some may have again returned to the Jewish system of values. In the Epistle, the author tries to draw the attention of community members again to Christ. He shows Christ’s superiority over the prophets, the angels, over Abraham, Moses, and Aaron as well as over the Old Testament priestly system of temple service. The author demonstrates the divinity of Jesus Christ, talks about the purposelessness, meaninglessness and even the danger of life without Him and calls for a return to faith in Him. In his hermeneutical-exegetical study of the Old Testament narratives of Melchizedek in Genesis 14:18-20 and Ps.110:4, the author of the Epistle uses traditional rabbinic methods of interpretation of Scripture acceptable in his time. He shows that Melchizedek is not only a historical person, but also an eschatological one. He is not only a prototype of the priest of the future, not just a prototype of the Messiah. He actually is the Messiah, the Son of God. The person of Melchizedek was touched on by the author of the Epistle not only in order to show His divinity and identity with Christ, but also to show that God the Father acted through Him in the Old Testament and also continues to do so in the New Testament. Jesus is a faithful High Priest.

Keywords


Melchizedek; Melchizedek and Christ; Melchizedek in the Epistle to the Hebrews; The priesthood of Melchizedek; Christ the High Priest; Melchizedek and Abraham

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References


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