1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,
The next section of Hebrews runs from 7:1 to 10:18. The context explains the relationship between Jesus’ and Melchizedek’s priesthood, which is superior to the Levitical priesthood. Now we learn why the author of Hebrews said that he had much more to say about Melchizedek (He 5:11).
The argument of chapter 7 is that Christ’s priesthood is superior to any other. This picks up the theme found in Hebrews 5:10. The priesthood and sacrifices were the central functions of Judaism. No one could sacrifice animals except Levitical priests.
The historical background to Hebrews 7 can be found in Genesis 14:17–20 and Psalm 110:4.
1 For this
The “this” refers to the mention of Melchizedek in the previous verse (He 6:20).
Melchizedek was a great figure in the Old Testament. He was a proper prototype of Christ’s priesthood. He was both a king and a priest.
king of Salem [old name for Jerusalem],
Melchizedek was the Canaanite “king of Salem” or what was to become Jerusalem (Ge 14:18). “Salem” means peace (He 6:2). The king-priest combination distinguished Melchizedek’s royal priesthood from the Levitical priesthood. Jesus is both King and Priest.
priest of the Most High God,
Melchizedek was the first person identified as a priest in the Old Testament. He worshiped Abraham’s true God, the “Most High” (Ge 14:22).
who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings
Abraham defeated five kings to rescue his nephew Lot from them (Ge 14:1–16).
and blessed him,
After the defeat of the kings Melchizedek met Abraham outside Salem. Upon meeting Abraham, he blessed him on God’s behalf (Ge 14:19, 20).
Melchizedek’s royal priesthood foreshadowed Christ’s royal priesthood.
Levitical priests were limited to the nation Israel. Melchizedek’s priesthood was universal; it applied to all ages. He was a priest of the “Most High God,” the God of heaven and earth (Ge 14:22). He was a priest for both Gentile and Jew. Melchizedek was himself a Gentile. Jesus as well was Priest for both Jew and Gentile.
The priesthood of Melchizedek was universal, not limited to the nation Israel; it foreshadowed the basic features of Christ’s priesthood, which was a royal priesthood.