2 to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,” 3 without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.
to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all,
Abraham gave Melchizedek one-tenth of his spoils from war (Ge 14:20). This was a payment of taxes to the king of Salem. This man represented the priesthood that preceded the Levitical priesthood. It characterized the economy before the Mosaic dispensation.
first being translated “king of righteousness,”
The author of Hebrews gave the meaning of the name Melchizedek as king of righteousness.
and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,”
Melchizedek had the role of king of Salem, the city of peace.
Verse 3 sets the stage for the entire argument of Hebrews 7.
without father, without mother, without genealogy,
It is important to understand that this verse describes Melchizedek from the standpoint of what is recorded in Genesis; it is not portraying him as having never died.
The Bible does not reveal the genealogy of Melchizedek. All we know of him is Genesis 14:18–20 and Psalm 110:4. “Without genealogy” explains “without father, without mother.” The idea is that Melchizedek was without descent (He 7:6); that is, no one knew his descent. Scripture says nothing about his genealogy. Since there was nothing in the Bible to substantiate his priesthood, he was a unique priest, different from the Levitical priesthood (which came later).
having neither beginning of days nor end of life,
Melchizedek had a temporal origin; he was not eternal. The idea is that history did not have any record of his beginning or ending. “Days” refers to the time of his serving as priest (Ps 110:4). The argument is that Melchizedek’s priesthood was radically different than the Levitical priesthood. His priesthood was typical of Christ’s priesthood; it was fully realized in Christ.
but made like the Son of God,
Melchizedek resembled Christ “the Son of God” because of his unique priesthood. He was a type of Christ. The Son of God received His priesthood by the power of an “indestructible life” (He 7:16). The word “made” indicates that God made Melchizedek like the Son of God (passive voice). God appointed him as a type of Jesus but subordinate to the Lord. Note that Melchizedek’s priesthood was made “like” Christ’s priesthood, not Christ’s like his. Melchizedek’s priesthood was great, but Jesus’ was greater.
remains a priest continually [uninterruptedly].
The point of this phrase is that Melchizedek’s priesthood continued without interruption. His priesthood was one of continuity. He remained a priest without interruption or for the duration of the biblical narrative. The point is not an eternal priesthood; nothing is said in the Old Testament about that.
This phrase alludes to Psalm 110:4. The purpose of this reference is to relate Melchizedek’s priesthood to the Son of God’s. His priesthood was uninterrupted and existed perpetually. Melchizedek served as priest without interruption. Nothing is said in Genesis of the end of Melchizedek’s priesthood. Jesus’ priesthood was one that “continually” existed. The one who served in this order of priesthood had no end to his service; however, Jesus serves in His priesthood for eternity. Christ’s priesthood was forever (He 10:12, 14).
The Levitical priest could serve only 25 years, but Melchizedek had no time limit to his priesthood. His priesthood had no time limit; it was perpetual but he did not live forever. A type does not last forever. Christ as the Antitype is Priest forever (He 7:24-25).
Christ’s priesthood was both universal and eternal.
A biblical type is an illustration of its antitype (the real thing). The type gives a picture of the antitype. We can see this in the bronze serpent type in Numbers 21:8 and its antitype in John 3:14. The type is historical but temporary and imperfect. The antitype is real and eternal. Melchizedek was the type and Christ the Antitype, or that which is against the type.
Melchizedek’s priesthood did not come from heredity as did the priesthood of the Levites who came from Levi. The Bible says nothing of his origin. His parentage was irrelevant to the argument of Hebrews. The genealogy of Christ has no significance in relation to His priesthood (He 7:16).
The Son of God’s priesthood existed before Melchizedek’s. Our Lord’s priesthood was the archetype of any other priesthood (He 8:5). There is nothing in Scripture to suggest that Melchizedek was supernatural in any sense. He was classed with other kings in the Old Testament as a historical person. He was a representative of the Noahic Covenant. His greatness lay in his hope.
Christ was at once both King and Priest without end. His priesthood does not change (He 7:3).