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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

01 August 2005


Q: I’m not clear about Hebrews 7:3. It speaks of Melchizedek, saying that he was, “without beginning or end of days” and not having father, mother, or genealogy. Hebrews 7:16 says he has an indestructible life. Why no genealogy? This continues to be a mystery to me.

A: Some take the account of Melchizedek (Genesis 14; also Psalm 110) as a theophany (a visible manifestation of God), perhaps the pre-incarnate Christ. This would solve the problem of the “forever.” It would also go with his name, which translates to “King of Righteousness.”

However, the word translated “forever” is used in the New Testament only by the author of Hebrews. It can also mean “continuously” or “uninterruptedly.” This may not be commentary on the person of Melchizedek, but on his priesthood. In other words, God continued his priesthood and eventually the mantle was assumed by Christ, who wears it forevermore. This is especially possible considering how the author of Hebrews points out that Christ is more than a priest in the order of Melchizedek, but that Christ is the great High Priest. Thus, he holds an office even more superior to Melchizedek’s than Melchizedek's was to that of the Levitical priests of Israel.

As for the “indestructible life” of 7:16, read the full context and note that this speaks not of Melchizedek. Rather, the One who has become a priest is Jesus. Even though He died, He rose again and fills the Threefold Office of Prophet, Priest, and King forevermore.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.


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