Posted On September 8, 2020

Inferior to Melchizedek

by | Sep 8, 2020 | Hebrews, Featured

Hebrews 7:9–10, “One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, 10 for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.”

In chapter 7, the author of Hebrews demonstrates the superiority of Melchizedek to Abraham. Melchizedek is superior because he confers the blessing upon, and receives tithes from, Abraham, the father of the covenant people of God (7:4–7). This also implies that Christ is superior to Abraham since Christ resembles Melchizedek, and this is possible only because Melchizedek first resembles Christ (7:3).

But Melchizedek is not only superior to Abraham, he is superior to Levi as well. This is hinted at in 7:5 where the Levites have to be commanded to collect tithes but where Melchizedek, in verse 6, does not have to be commanded to collect tithes from their father. This implicit comparison is made explicit in verse 8, which says that the Levites are mortal in contrast to the living Melchizedek.

At this point, we should begin to realize that the author is speaking predominantly of the priesthood of these different groups and not seeking to teach that Melchizedek never died. Unlike the priests of the Levitical order whose deaths are recorded (Num. 33:38–39), we never read of the death of Melchizedek. This is a literary device used by Moses in the book of Genesis and by the author of Hebrews to stress the relationship of Melchizedek to Christ and thus, the superiority of Melchizedek’s priestly order to Levi’s.

Today’s passage further reinforces the superiority of Melchizedek to the sons of Levi. The inferior pays tithes to the superior, and Levi, not yet born but nonetheless represented by his father Abraham, pays tithes to Melchizedek when Abraham pays them to Melchizedek. Melchizedek is superior to all the sons of Abraham, including Levi, since they pay tithes to him through their father Abraham.

Since Jesus is a descendant of Judah and also would have paid tithes through Abraham, does that make Him also inferior to Melchizedek? The answer is no. On this point, John Calvin reminds us that Jesus is not simply a son of Abraham but is different from them because He is also their Lord. Moreover, as a type of Christ, Melchizedek is not in opposition to Him. Though as a type Melchizedek falls short of the reality of Christ, he is not opposed to Christ because of their implied equality. In other words, when Christ paid tithes to Melchizedek through Abraham, He was ultimately paying tithes to Himself.

Coram Deo

There is a tendency among Christians to think that our salvation depends on our own faithfulness to the Law. But when we act as if this is so, we deny that Christ’s priesthood is superior to the priesthood of Levi. Remember that your salvation is based not in you, but in the person and work of Christ.

Inferior to Melchizedek, Copyright (2020), Ligonier Ministries.

Related Posts

The Local Church and the Preaching of the Word of God

The Local Church and the Preaching of the Word of God

On today’s Warriors of Grace show, Dave considers Jesus’ use of Scripture in preaching, why church members need good expository preaching, the nature of biblical preaching, and the biblical foundations of the Holy Spirit in preaching. What You'll Hear On This Episode...

Blessed Are Those Not Offended by Christ

Blessed Are Those Not Offended by Christ

Matthew’s story of John the Baptist asking who Jesus was (Matt. 11:1-6) deserves our undivided attention. This is a familiar passage we should run to in time of need. John the Baptist was imprisoned at the outset of Jesus’ public ministry (Matthew 4:12), so he had...

Biblical Authority In a Postmodern World

Biblical Authority In a Postmodern World

On today’s Equipping You in Grace show, Sarah and Dave Jenkins talk about the doctrine of Scripture and the Christian life, how biblical morality and sexuality is under attack today, along with Dave’s new book, The Word Matters: Defending Biblical Authority Against...

Wise Versus Foolish Responses

Wise Versus Foolish Responses

Proverbs 29:11, “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” Things have been a bit rough recently at work. The opportunity to spill out with angry words in response to the actions or even perceived actions of others seems to know no...

Weekly Roundup 8/1/2022-8/6/2022

Weekly Roundup 8/1/2022-8/6/2022

This is our weekly roundup of posts for 8/1/2022-8/6/2022. If you have any feedback on how we can serve you our readers better, I would appreciate it. Thank you for reading and allowing us to minister to you throughout this past week through these posts. Monday...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share25
Tweet3
Email
Reddit
Share