Confusion on the Covenants
Jesus Christ
Priest After the Order of Melchizedek

Bill Reeves

“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, to whom Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning, “king of peace,” 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” (Heb. 7:1-3).

The sacred history about Melchizedek is very brief (Gen. 14:18-20). He, a Canaanite, was king of Salem (probably, later known as Jerusalem), and the priest of God Most High. After a particular battle in which Abraham was victorious, Melchizedek blessed him. In turn, Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek. What is omitted in this history about Melchizedek, as well as what little is said about him, is important in that he is set forth as a type of Christ. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews introduced the case of Melchizedek in 5:6,10 and in 6:20, developing it further in chapter 7. The argumentation of the author is based on the emphases about Melchizedek. He had no beginning nor end, neither parents nor descendants (that history records)! He appears on the inspired pages of Genesis as a king and a priest of God, without registry that relates his lineage or ancestry, nor of predecessors nor successors in his priesthood. In these particulars, he serves as a type of Christ in his kingship and priesthood, one who abides thus continually.

Hebrews 7:3 is a Hebraism (a cultural language usage) that expresses a complete lack of registry or history as touching ones origin or end as a human being. (Obviously he had parents, because he was a human being, Gen. 3:20). Melchizedek singularly and completely filled his priesthood in his own person, having no predecessor nor successor: a "priest continually" (Heb. 7:3). The terms "perpetually" and "continually" indicate the complete period under consideration, whether said period be long or short. The history of Genesis 14:18-20, and Psalms 110: 4 present all of the inspired information on this man, and from these two sources the author of the letter to the Hebrews, directed by the Holy Spirit, derives his argumentation. The argument briefly is this: the Levitical priesthood was not final; another priesthood would arise which would endure forever. Before there was a Law of Moses or a Levitical priesthood, sacred history recorded the case of a king and a priest, Melchizedek, who was greater than Abraham, the father of the Jews (for the lesser pays tithes to the greater, and the greater blesses while the lesser is blessed). Then, the 110th Psalm, written centuries after the Law of Moses and the Levitical priesthood were established, declared that God had sworn that the Messiah (Christ) was to be constituted a priest after the order of Melchizedek. Jesus Christ fulfilled that prophecy and his priesthood is final and perfect. Notice a brief outline of Hebrews chapter 7.

Verses 1-10: the history of Melchizedek and his superiority to the Levitical priesthood of the first covenant is set forth because he was superior to Abraham, the patriarch.

Verses 11-19: the imperfection of the Levitical priesthood was evidenced by the declaration of God in Psalms 110:4. It was abrogated, therefore, and the priesthood of the Messiah, according to the order of Melchizedek, was instituted to accomplish that perfection.

Verses 20-22: the superiority of the priesthood of Christ to that of the Levitical priesthood is declared because Christ’s priesthood was instituted by an oath of God, while the Levitical was not. So Jesus became the surety of a better covenant.

Verses 23-25: the unchangeableness of the priesthood of Christ is better than that of Melchizedek, for he lives forever, while death characterized the priesthood of Levi.

Verses 26-28: the superiority of the priesthood of Christ is evidenced by his perfect character which required no further sacrifice than that of himself, one time on the cross, while the high priest of the Levitical priesthood had to offer for himself each year, and then for the people. The Scriptures speak of two covenants: a "new covenant" (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 9:13) which necessarily implies an "old covenant". The old one was to pass away (Heb. 9:13). Paul, in 1 Corinthians 3:6,14 speaks of a "new covenant" and of an "old covenant", and in his allegory in Galatians 4:21-31, speaks of "two covenants" (ver. 24). Christ is the "mediator of a new covenant" (Heb. 9:15; 12:24), which is contrasted with the old covenant of Mt. Sinai (12:18-21). There being a "new" covenant, the previous covenant of necessity is made "old" (8:13). The "new covenant" is better, being enacted upon better promises (7:22; 8:6). The old one was faulty while the new one is faultless (8:7,8; Rom. 8:3). The first one could not take away sins in actuality (but only figuratively or typically), while the second one could (10:1-18). For this reason the first covenant is called a "ministration of death" and of "condemnation", while the new covenant is called a "ministration of righteousness", written on the hearts of men (2 Cor. 3:7,9; Heb. 10:16). The old was to pass away while the new one was to remain (2 Cor. 3:11). The Israelite, by reason of fleshly birth, were under the first covenant (Gen. 15:18; 17:7,8), but only those born again (Jn. 3:3-7) are in the new covenant. The old was "done away in Christ" (2 Cor. 3:14) while the new one is eternal (Heb. 13:20). The new one, the New Testament, was dedicated by the blood of Christ (Heb. 9:15-22), ministered by the apostles of Christ (2 Cor. 3:6; 5:19,20), and is remembered by Christians in the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:25). The old covenant was one of bondage while the new is one of freedom (Gal. 5:1). The new one is the "new and living way" (Heb. 10:20).

The grand conclusion is set forth in Hebrews. 7:12: "For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law." If the Levitical priesthood was not changed to the priesthood of Christ after the order of Melchizedek, then it follows that there has been but one covenant, or law, from the time of Aaron till now, and that we are all still under the old covenant, the law of Moses. We are being told by some of our brethren today that there has been, and is, but one covenant. If this is so, the priesthood of Jesus Christ is totally invalidated, so is the new covenant, and we all are still under the law of Moses. This doctrine has even reached into Latin-America, and we who preach in Spanish are having to combat it there. What are some of the advocacies of the "one covenant" theory?

It is being used to emphasize a "salvation by grace only" doctrine. At the same time it is being denied that the New Testament contains the pattern for worship.

It is being used to bind Deuteronomy 24 upon us today as part of "God’s moral law" which does not change. This permits any divorced person to remarry. (Distinction is being made between the so-called "moral law” and “ceremonial law", an old Seventh-Day Adventist argument).

The kingdom, as prophesied, and as set forth in the New Testament, is a "renewed" kingdom but not a new kingdom.

The "everlasting covenant" (Gen. 17:1-7) is like unto the "eternal purpose" (Eph. 3: 11), both terms referring to the same issue.

It is impossible to isolate a distinct "old covenant" from a "new covenant". (Jeremiah 31:31-34, we are told, was fulfilled in the return of the Jews from Babylonian captivity).

Jesus perpetuated the law and the prophets, not fulfilled them (Matt.5:17,18).

This false doctrine of one continuing covenant from the time of Abraham till now is summarily refuted by the priesthood of Christ after the order of Melchizedek. Jesus was not of the tribe of Levi, but of Judah (Heb. 7:14). Therefore, he could not have been a Levitical priest of the first covenant, or the law of Moses (8:9). His priesthood changed the priesthood "after the order of Aaron" (7:11), and by necessity, therefore, changed the law (7:12) that governed "the Levitical priesthood" (7:11,12).

The seventh chapter of Hebrews completely demolishes the false doctrine of those who advocate the "one covenant theory".

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