This "King Melchizedek of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham as he was returning from defeating the kings and blessed him";
and to him Abraham apportioned "one-tenth of everything." His name, in the first place, means "king of righteousness"; next he is also king of Salem, that is, "king of peace."
Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.
See how great he is! Even Abraham the patriarch gave him a tenth of the spoils.
And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to collect tithes from the people, that is, from their kindred, though these also are descended from Abraham.
But this man, who does not belong to their ancestry, collected tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had received the promises.
It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior.
In the one case, tithes are received by those who are mortal; in the other, by one of whom it is testified that he lives.
One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham,
for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.
Now if perfection had been attainable through the levitical priesthood—for the people received the law under this priesthood—what further need would there have been to speak of another priest arising according to the order of Melchizedek, rather than one according to the order of Aaron?
For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.
Now the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar.
For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.
It is even more obvious when another priest arises, resembling Melchizedek,
one who has become a priest, not through a legal requirement concerning physical descent, but through the power of an indestructible life.
For it is attested of him, "You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek."
There is, on the one hand, the abrogation of an earlier commandment because it was weak and ineffectual
(for the law made nothing perfect); there is, on the other hand, the introduction of a better hope, through which we approach God.
This was confirmed with an oath; for others who became priests took their office without an oath,
but this one became a priest with an oath, because of the one who said to him, "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, "You are a priest forever' "—
accordingly Jesus has also become the guarantee of a better covenant.
Furthermore, the former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office;
but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.
Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.
Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself.
For the law appoints as high priests those who are subject to weakness, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.