What exactly is the order of Melchizedek?


Haha yes same :slight_smile: although I was not lector. Btw I prayed for you the other day Matthew as I promised :slight_smile:


Thank you!


Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich claims in her visions that Melchizedek was really an angel, that assisted the Jews during Abraham’s time. The Order of Melchizedek is the use of Bread and Wine in worship, which Jesus perfected in the Last Supper.


Flagged. The OP’s question is a legitimate question about Sacred Scripture. If you aren’t interested in it then feel free to skip the thread, but OP shouldn’t have to explain or defend his interest in a Scriptural topic.


Ok fair enough…

Why is it important that generally anybody is forever a priest in the order of Melchizedek? This falls under the OP questions

Specifically, the “forever” part. The “forever” part is very difficult for me to understand in the context of model for a priesthood vocation.


This is the clue: Don’t connect the ‘forever’ word to Melchizedek but only the ‘priest’ word !


GospelOfMatthew . . . .

What exactly is the order of Melchizedek?

It is an order of the priesthood that is not based upon mere human flesh and blood.

The Old Covenant priesthood (at least after the Golden Calf) was based upon blood lines.

You had to be from the tribe of Levi to be a priest in its “fullest” sense.

Recall Jesus was from the tribe of Judah (He was a Jew). Not a Levite.

Now in the New Covenant, there is only one priest–Jesus.

WE laity have a SHARE in Jesus’ one priesthood.
The ministerial priests (like your parish priest) have a deeper share of that one priesthood.
Your bishop has an even deeper share.

But none of the shares in the one Priesthood of Jesus is based upon blood lineage.

If the New Testament priesthood were based upon a blood lineage, we would expect . . . . .

”For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Aaron.” - NOT Hebrews 7:17

But as it is, the New Covenant Priesthood is not based that way.

Therefore St. Paul (or whoever) in his letter to the Hebrews CAN and should say . . . .

”For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” - Hebrews 7:17


HEBREWS 7:12-16 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. 13 For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar.
14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah,
and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.
15 This becomes even more evident when another
priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek,
16 who has become a priest,
NOT according to a legal requirement concerning bodily descent
but by the power of an indestructible life.


And then all of the above is summarized in the very next verse by . . .


HEBREWS 7:17 17 For it is witnessed of him, "Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek.


(Emphasis Bible verses mine)


Hope this helps.

God bless.



This is a quotation from Psalm 110:4.


BartholomewB . . .

This is a quotation from Psalm 110:4.

Yes. This non-Aaronic priesthood which offers bread and wine was even prophesied.


So I read this section of Hebrews. If I understand it, this statement specifically refers to Jesus. The forever part is there to emphasize the continuity of Jesus. Are there other ways this is interpreted?


It’s easier to understand this translation “you are a priest forever, in the manner of Melchizedek.”

Not an Order, but the type of priest - a non-hereditary priesthood.

In Judaism priesthood comes from belonging to the Tribe of Levi and the House of Aaron.

Christ came from the Tribe of Judah and the House of David (a kingly line, not a priestly one).

So, Christian priesthood is in the manner of Melchizedek, rather than the manner of Aaron.

Which of course, is superior to hereditary priesthood - Christian priests aren’t required to be born of any particular ancestry.

This way priesthood is open to both Gentiles, and also non-Levitical Jews who became Christians.

Deacon Christopher


As you can see from this thread, yes, there are other ways.

As I see it (and as I posted above), the order of Melchizedek refers to three people only: (1) Melchizedek, in Genesis; (2) David, in Psalms; (3) Jesus, in Hebrews.


There are a few directions to take, in answering your question:

  • If you’re talking about the vocation of the Catholic priesthood, then the answer is that the Church sees priesthood as a sacrament that lasts eternally. Unlike other sacraments (which must be repeated as one falls from grace to sin) and unlike marriage (which ends at the death of a spouse), but more like baptism (which never ‘expires’), priesthood is an ontological change in a man, which he never loses.
  • If you’re talking about why Melchizedek is seen as a “priest forever”, then we have to look to ancient Hebrew cultural notions (as Paul does, in his letter to the Hebrews). To the Hebrews, a person is known through his genealogy (who his family line is) and through his progeny (who his children are). That is what identifies your role (inherited through parentage) and your descendents’ roles (inherited from you). Melchizedek is an anomaly – he pops up out of nowhere, without any reference to his genealogy, and his descendants are never mentioned again in the Bible. Looking at it from this perspective, Melchizedek can be said to be ‘eternal’ – without beginning and without end.

If you want to bring the two together, then Paul would say that, just as Melchizedek was forever – and therefore, a priest forever – so too is Jesus a priest forever.

The issue that Paul’s dealing with, in his letter to the Hebrews, is providing a justification for calling Jesus not only a ‘priest’, but a ‘high priest’. According to the Mosaic law, that would have required Jesus to demonstrate that He was descended from Aaron. Paul is making the case that Jesus’ priesthood doesn’t descend from Aaron physically (through family relationship) but from Melchizedek spiritually. In that way, Jesus can be thought to be not only a high priest, but a high priest forever.


If you read the context of Melchizedek’s appearance and take into account the Jewish tradition in the time of the Gospels, he actually does possess a very important lineage.

According to the earliest extant Jewish Midrashes and Chazal commentaries from as early as 250 BC, Melchizedek was Shem, the firstborn son of Noah. In the pre-Exodus period, priesthood typically was passed from father to the firstborn son outside of cases when the firstborn son had forsaken his right through sin (Cain’s slaughter of Abel) or through his own abdication (Esau compact with Jacob in exchange for food). Other evidence points to this such as Shem still being alive and yet Abram (who is part of the firstborn lineage of Shem) goes to Melchizedek and pays him the homage which is due to his patriarch and Salem being the capital of the territory given over to Shem.

Melchizedek was not a name, but a title. It literally means “my king is righteousness” and was taken as a nickname for Shem just as some of the Apostles are known by different names between the various Gospels.

The manner of Melchizedek’s priesthood was inherent in his birth, in his creation. It drove him to bless the Lord and offer sacrifice to Him who bestowed this priesthood upon him at his birth. Thus it was not Christ who ascended to the office of High Priest but in his birth possessed the fullness of the ministry. The Church uses the manner of Melchizedek’s priesthood as an analogy for our universal priesthood, not in the sense that Christ’s high priesthood passed to us (that was reserved in the ordination He bestowed upon his Apostles) but a similar univeral priesthood inherent in our rebirth in baptism was passed on to us. We are called to bless through our prayers and offer sacrifices to God through our personal offering up of our struggles and mortification.

God bless,
Br. Ben, CRM


My question really lies here. If I understand correctly, you are saying that the high priesthood calling of Jesus is passed on to his apostles and ordained priests today. This is high priest calling is theologically explained in Hebrews 7. This seems like a very difficult interpretation of Hebrews 7. For example St. John Paul II described vocations (e.g. priest, marriage, etc.) as equal spiritually in his writings. If the high priesthood of Jesus is passed today, through ordination, to priests, the equality of vocations becomes difficult to understand. How are these views reconciled?


Yes, there’s that. From the commentaries, not the Scriptures themselves. What’s interesting in that discussion is that it still attempts to place Melchizedek within a family lineage – that is, it says “Melchizedek’s a priest because his dad was a priest.” That discussion doesn’t really help St Paul’s case, though, does it? That Jesus is a priest because He’s a spiritual son of the son of Shem?


Priests aren’t “high priests” – only Jesus is – but priests share in the ministry of Christ.

It isn’t. Jesus is the one high priest, forever. The Apostles are the leaders of the Church He created. The bishops are the successors of the apostles, and share in their apostolic ministry. Priests do undergo an ontological change, but their ministry is subordinate to, and a sharing in, the ministry of the bishop or religious superior to whom they’ve made promises of obedience.

Actually, the traditional teaching of the church is that the vocation of ‘consecrated religious’ is a higher calling than that of a secular priest (i.e., the priest you see in your parish each week).


I think this is debatable. There have been debates here on CAF about it. I think it is off topic, unless Hebrews 7 somehow says that priesthood is higher calling. I don’t see how Hebrews 7 does that though.

One such debate…


Certainly, I agree with this.


It is not so much that Christ is a spiritual son of Shem. I was trying to point out but rather that he received his priesthood in the same manner that Shem did, by the very nature of his birth.

In this sense, there was never a time when Melchizedek was not a priest (a priest forever). Just as Christ was High Priest from the moment of his conception.


I’m not talking about marriage. :wink:

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