This Melchizedek was king of the city of Salem and also a priest of God Most High. When Abraham was returning home after winning a great battle against many kings, Melchizedek met him and blessed him.
Then Abraham took a tenth of all he had won in the battle and gave it to Melchizedek. His name means "king of justice." He is also "king of peace" because Salem means "peace."
There is no record of his father or mother or any of his ancestors -- no beginning or end to his life. He remains a priest forever, resembling the Son of God.
Consider then how great this Melchizedek was. Even Abraham, the great patriarch of Israel, recognized how great Melchizedek was by giving him a tenth of what he had taken in battle.
Now the priests, who are descendants of Levi, are commanded in the law of Moses to collect a tithe from all the people, even though they are their own relatives. a6
But Melchizedek, who was not even related to Levi, collected a tenth from Abraham. And Melchizedek placed a blessing upon Abraham, the one who had already received the promises of God.
And without question, the person who has the power to bless is always greater than the person who is blessed.
In the case of Jewish priests, tithes are paid to men who will die. But Melchizedek is greater than they are, because we are told that he lives on.
In addition, we might even say that Levi's descendants, the ones who collect the tithe, paid a tithe to Melchizedek through their ancestor Abraham.
For although Levi wasn't born yet, the seed from which he came was in Abraham's loins when Melchizedek collected the tithe from him.
And finally, if the priesthood of Levi could have achieved God's purposes -- and it was that priesthood on which the law was based -- why did God need to send a different priest from the line of Melchizedek, instead of from the line of Levi and Aaron? b12
And when the priesthood is changed, the law must also be changed to permit it.
For the one we are talking about belongs to a different tribe, whose members do not serve at the altar.
What I mean is, our Lord came from the tribe of Judah, and Moses never mentioned Judah in connection with the priesthood.
The change in God's law is even more evident from the fact that a different priest, who is like Melchizedek, has now come.
He became a priest, not by meeting the old requirement of belonging to the tribe of Levi, but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed.
And the psalmist pointed this out when he said of Christ, "You are a priest forever in the line of Melchizedek." c18
Yes, the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless.
For the law made nothing perfect, and now a better hope has taken its place. And that is how we draw near to God.
God took an oath that Christ would always be a priest, but he never did this for any other priest.
Only to Jesus did he say, "The Lord has taken an oath and will not break his vow: 'You are a priest forever.'" d22
Because of God's oath, it is Jesus who guarantees the effectiveness of this better covenant.
Another difference is that there were many priests under the old system. When one priest died, another had to take his place.
But Jesus remains a priest forever; his priesthood will never end.
Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save e everyone who comes to God through him. He lives forever to plead with God on their behalf.
He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has now been set apart from sinners, and he has been given the highest place of honor in heaven.
He does not need to offer sacrifices every day like the other high priests. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he sacrificed himself on the cross.
Those who were high priests under the law of Moses were limited by human weakness. But after the law was given, God appointed his Son with an oath, and his Son has been made perfect forever.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)