“Melchizedekian Intrigue” – Hebrews 7:1-11


Sunday, October 14th, 2018

Hebrews 7:1-11

Melchizedekian Intrigue

Aux. Text:  Genesis 14:17-20 & John 1:1-4

Call to Worship:  Selected verses from Psalm 110

 

Service Orientation: Only Jesus can serve as mediator between us and God because Jesus is superior to everything.

 

Memory Verse for the Week: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:1-3)

 

Background Information:

  • Chapter 7 is the focal point of Hebrews. It concerns the central, the most important, part of Judaism—the priesthood. No sacrifices could be made except by the priest and no forgiveness of sins could be had apart from the sacrifices. Obedience to the law was exceedingly important, but the offering of sacrifices was even more important. And the priesthood was essential for offering them. Consequently, the priesthood was exalted in Judaism. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Hebrews, 172)
  • In Antiquities of the Jews: Book VII, Josephus refers to Salem as the name for Jerusalem in the days of Abraham. (Chapters 3 and 10) Most commentators agree that Salem was what would later be known as Jerusalem (JeruSALEM).
  • The original readers of Hebrews would have known that Melchizedek was greater than Abraham because he was able to receive tithes and give a blessing (see 7:7). This argument may not carry the same logical forcefulness for readers today as it did then, but these early Jewish believers understood the argument. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 92)
  • When nothing is recorded of the parentage of this man, it is not necessarily to be assumed that he had no parents but simply that the absence of the record is significant. (Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Vol 12, 63)
  • When Abraham paid Melchizedek a tithe, the author sees Levi as paying it, for “Levi was still in the body of his ancestor. ” This is a way of speaking we find here and there in the Bible when the ancestor includes the descendants. So it was said to Rebekah, not two children but “two nations are in your womb” (Gen 25:23). Again, Paul can say, “In Adam all die” (1 Cor 15:22). Levi was thus included in the payment of the tithe (and, of course, all the priests who descended from him and whom the Hebrews esteemed so highly). The author wants his readers to be in no doubt about the superiority of Christ to any other priests and sees the mysterious figure of Melchizedek as powerfully illustrating this superiority. (Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Vol 12, 65)
  • This priest of God Most High did not exact tithes from Abraham as Levitical priests imposed a tithe on their fellow Israelites in later years. Of his own accord Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of the spoils, because he recognized him as God’s representative. And this representative imparted a divine blessing on Abraham. (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Thessalonians, the Pastorals, and Hebrews, 188)
  • The idea is clear that Abraham’s descendants are identified in their forefather and that therefore the Levitical order was in effect acknowledging the superiority of Melchizedek. The force of this argument would come more strongly to minds familiar with the idea of solidarity, as the Hebrews were, than to those dominated by the idea of individuality. Neither the father nor the children could be independent of each other. Abraham’s payment of tithes could be transferred to his descendant Levi and hence to the whole order of his priesthood. (Donald Guthrie, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: Hebrews, 159-60)

 

The question to be answered is…

Who was Melchizedek, and what is the author of Hebrews trying to accomplish by expounding on such an obscure figure?

 

Answer:

Melchizedek was a priest like no other in scripture. The author is driving home the point that the kingship and priesthood of Jesus is superior and supersedes any in all eternity.

 

The word of the day is… Superior

 

What do we need to realize in light of today’s text?

 

Textual Points

  1. The Levitical priesthood was only a shadow of a greater reality, namely Jesus.
    (Deut. 8:15; John 1; Acts 3:22, 7:37; Col. 2:16-18; Heb. 10:1)

 

If Melchizedek, who was a sign and shadow, is preferred to Abraham and to all the levitical priests, how much more Christ, who is the truth and the substance! … If a type of Christ is greater than he who has the promises, how much more so is Christ himself! (Philip E. Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 251)

 

  1. Jesus’ priesthood is superior.

(John 1, 8:56-59; Heb. 7:11; Rev. 1:5-7, 5:9-10)

 

The greatness of Melchisedec is described in all the preceding and following particulars. But the most manifest proof of it was, that Abraham gave him tithes as to a priest of God and a superior; though he was himself a patriarch, greater than a king, and a progenitor of many kings. (John Wesley, Wesley’s Notes on the Bible, 438)

 

  1. Jesus’ priesthood is forever.

(Ps. 110:4; Luke 1:33; John 8:56-59; Heb. 5:6, 6:20, 7:3, 17, 21, 24, 28)

 

Melchizedek is not recorded to have died, his priesthood extends forever, in contrast to the Levites, who died and passed on their service to their sons. This is how Melchizedek resembled Christ, who really does live and serve forever. What the author asserts about Melchizedek “from the record,” Jesus fulfills in person and power. Having died on the cross and risen again, Jesus lives never to die. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 98)

 

 

Application Points

How now should we live in light of this text?

 

  1. Quit trying to build your own bridge to God and trust Jesus in doing it.

(Is. 61:1; Luke 4:18; Rom. 8:34, 5:9-10, 1 Tim. 2:15; Phil. 1:6; Heb. 9:12, 14, 28, 10:12, 14; 1 John 2:1)

 

There is no royal road to rest of soul. Let that never be forgotten. There is only one way to the Father—Jesus Christ; one door into heaven—Jesus Christ; and one path to heart-peace—Jesus Christ. By that way all “laboring and heavy-laden” ones must go, whatever be their rank or condition. Kings in their palaces and paupers in the workhouse, are all on a level in this matter. All alike must come to Christ, if they feel soul-weary and athirst. All must drink of the same fountain, if they would have their thirst relieved. (J. C. Ryle, Old Paths, 239)

 

Heidelberg Catechism

Question 31. Why is he called “Christ”, that is anointed?

Answer. Because he is ordained of God the Father, and anointed with the Holy Ghost, to be our chief Prophet and Teacher, who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption; and to be our only High Priest, who by the one sacrifice of his body, has redeemed us, and makes continual intercession with the Father for us; and also to be our eternal King, who governs us by his word and Spirit, and who defends and preserves us in that salvation, he has purchased for us.

 

  1. If you are in Christ, you are a royal priest and ambassador. Live like it.

(Is. 61:6; Hos. 4:5-7; Mal. 2:7-9; John 15:15; Rom. 12:1; Eph. 4:1; Phil. 1:27; Col. 1:10; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 5:10; Rev. 1:6)

 

Heidelberg Catechism

Question 32. But why art thou called a Christian? (a)

Answer. Because I am a member of Christ by faith, and thus am partaker of his anointing; that so I may confess his name, and present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to him: and also that with a free and good conscience I may fight against sin and Satan in this life and afterwards I reign with him eternally, over all creatures.

 

One person, Jesus Christ, is antitype of both kings and priests, under the law; and as it is the will of Christ, who became in all things like unto us, that his disciples should in many things become like unto him, so it is in this among others. As Christ is the Son of God, so those that are Christ’s are the children of God; as Christ is the heir of God, so, as Christ liveth, it is his will that they should live also. As Christ rose from the dead, so it is the will of Christ that his saints should rise also. As Christ is in heaven in glory, so it is the will of Christ that they should be with him where he is. So, as Christ is both King and Priest, so shall believers be made kings and priests. (Jonathan Edwards, Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume Two, 2589-90)

 

 

 

Conclusion:

Look to and follow Jesus. He alone can serve as mediator between you and God. He alone is qualified in making you right with God. (Mark 2:7; 1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 8:6, 9:15, 12:24)

 

Jesus Christ, the Son of God who is the Word made flesh, our Prophet, Priest, and King, is the ultimate Mediator of God’s communication to man, as He is of all God’s gifts of grace. The revelation He gave was more than verbal; He revealed the Father by His presence and His deeds as well. Yet His words were crucially important; for He was God, He spoke from the Father, and His words will judge all men at the last day. As the prophesied Messiah, Jesus Christ is the central theme of Scripture. The Old Testament looked ahead to Him; the New Testament looks back to His first coming and on to His second. Canonical Scripture is the divinely inspired and therefore normative witness to Christ. No hermeneutic, therefore, of which the historical Christ is not the focal point is acceptable. (R. C. Sproul, Can I Trust the Bible?: Crucial Questions Series Book 2, Kindle Edition, Locations 132-137)

 

Worship Point:

Only Jesus is worthy of our worship. It’s only in and through Jesus that we have the hope of being made right before our eternally holy and righteous God.  (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Rev. 3:20, 5:12)

 

The Bible has much to say about holiness. It is an attribute of God. (Ps. 60:6; Rev. 4:8, et al). We are commanded to follow it. (Heb. 12:14). To worship God in the beauty of holiness. (Ps. 29:2). Without it no man shall see the Lord. (Heb. 12:14). It is the one thing needful. There are many things which are convenient and useful; but this alone is indispensable to our welfare both in this world and in the world to come. (Benson H. Roberts, Holiness Teachings – The Life And Work of B.T. Roberts, 16)

 

You can carry no garment beyond the grave, but the robe washed white in Jesus’ blood. (Benson H. Roberts, Holiness Teachings – The Life And Work of B.T. Roberts, 74)

 

 

Spiritual Challenge:

In light of today’s message, how might you more closely or intentionally follow Jesus this week?

 

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Quotes to note…

To be sanctified wholly we must trust implicitly in God, through the merits of Jesus Christ to do the work now. Just as long as we put it off in the future, just so long the work will be delayed. A belief that it will be done sometime will not bring the blessing. Nor will the faith that saves spring up of itself, if we meet all the other conditions. It is an active trust that must be voluntarily, consciously exercised. (Benson H. Roberts, Holiness Teachings – The Life And Work of B.T. Roberts, 78)

 

We may observe, Thirdly, a deep conviction of our utter helplessness, of our total inability to retain anything we have received, much more to deliver ourselves from the world of iniquity remaining both in our hearts and lives, teaches us truly to live upon Christ by faith, not only as our Priest, but as our King. Hereby we are brought to “magnify him,” indeed; to “give Him all the glory of his grace;” to “make him a whole Christ, an entire Saviour; and truly to set the crown upon his head.” (John Wesley,  Sermons on Several Occasions, Londonderry, April 24, 1767)

 

It is not merely the facts given in Genesis 14:17-20 which enable the writer of Hebrews to compare Melchizedek and Abraham and to show the superiority of the Priest in Melchizedek’s order. The things the preacher would have expected Genesis to say but which are omitted are also important. There is no indication in Genesis of the origin or decease of Melchizedek, of his ancestors or descendants. This omission may not seem unusual to the modern reader, but it seemed very extraordinary to the preacher and, probably, to Christians of New Testament times in general. The Old Testament gives the genealogy of all of the great people of God. They are all part of the genealogy that goes from Adam to Abraham to Christ. It is the biblical way of showing how these people fit into God’s plan of salvation which culminates in Christ. Here, however, Genesis describes someone who is superior to Abraham, and yet there is no genealogy given for him! (Gareth L. Cockerill, Hebrews: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, 152)

 

Old Testament Scripture is essentially Christ-centred. As we have seen earlier, it eagerly anticipates his coming, it describes his earthly ministry, vividly relates the precise circumstances and eternal benefits of his death for mankind, and looks beyond itself to the eventual fulfillment of its finest hopes. Its historical development, spiritual value and moral lessons are all fully appreciated by our author, but he comes to its arresting narratives as a man equipped by the Spirit of God to discern a further message. It is a book about Christ. The Son of God dominates the word of God in both Testaments. The marks of Christ are clearly impressed on all its pages for those who have the eye to see them. (Raymond Brown, The Message of Hebrews, 127)

 

With no record of beginning or end, Melchizedek remains a priest forever, resembling the Son of God (see also Psalm 110:4). Hebrews doesn’t say that Jesus resembled Melchizedek, but that Melchizedek resembled Jesus. Melchizedek was a real man, a servant of God, whose history is recorded in the book of Genesis in such a way as to make him resemble the one who would come and fulfill completely the offices of priest and king, and who would truly be “a priest forever.” (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 94)

 

Then the argument is this,—Abraham, who excelled all others, was yet inferior to Melchisedec ; then Melchisedec had the highest place of honour, and is to be regarded as superior to all the sons of Levi. The first part is proved, for what Abraham owed to God he gave to Melchisedec: then by paying him the tenth he confessed himself to be inferior. (John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries Vol 22, 160)

 

It is worth noting that the perfect tense is used for Melchizedek’s receiving of tithes (dedekatōken) which draws attention, not only to the historic event, but also to its abiding significance. The writer is, as it were, transporting the event to the readers’ own time to show the continuance of this order of priesthood. (Donald Guthrie, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: Hebrews, 159)

JESUS:

SUPERIOR TO MELCHIZEDEK

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Further Resources For Study
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We may observe, Thirdly, a deep conviction of our utter helplessness, of our total inability to retain anything we have received, much more to deliver ourselves from the world of iniquity remaining both in our hearts and lives, teaches us truly to live upon Christ by faith, not only as our Priest, but as our King. Hereby we are brought to “magnify him,” indeed; to “give Him all the glory of his grace;” to “make him a whole Christ, an entire Saviour; and truly to set the crown upon his head.” These excellent words, as they have frequently been used, have little or no meaning; but they are fulfilled in a strong and deep sense, when we thus, as it were, go out of ourselves, in order to be swallowed up in him; when we sink into nothing, that he may be all in all. Then, his almighty grace having abolished “every high thing which exalted itself against him,” every temper, and thought, and word, and work “is brought to the obedience of Christ.”
(John Wesley,  Sermons on Several Occasions, Londonderry, April 24, 1767)

We have reason to suppose, that very many things in the Old Testament are intended as types, seeing it is manifest in some instances, that so very minute circumstances were so ordered, such as the negative circumstances of the story of Melchizedek, there being no mention made of his father or mother, of his birth or death.
(Jonathan Edwards, Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume Two, 1865)

The two offices of king and priest were accounted very honourable both among Jews and heathens; but it was a thing not known under the law of Moses, that the same person should sustain both those offices in a stated manner; and while Moses himself is said to have been king in Jeshurun, yet his brother Aaron was the high priest. Those who were kings by divine appointment in Israel, were of another tribe from the priesthood, viz. the tribe of Judah. Before the giving the law we have an instance of one who was both king and priest, viz. Melchizedek. Gen. xiv. 18. “And Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine; and he was the priest of the most high God.”
    Therefore, in some of the prophecies of Christ, it is spoken of as a remarkable thing of him, that he should be a priest after the order of Melchizedek. Psal. cx. 4. “The Lord hath sworn and will not repent; thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek.” The same again is prophesied of as a wonderful thing by Zechariah, that he should be a priest upon a throne. Zech. vi. 13. “Even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne; and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” In this respect the gospel dispensation differs from the legal, that it reveals the compatibleness of the two offices. One person, Jesus Christ, is antitype of both kings and priests, under the law; and as it is the will of Christ, who became in all things like unto us, that his disciples should in many things become like unto him, so it is in this among others. As Christ is the Son of God, so those that are Christ’s are the children of God; as Christ is the heir of God, so, as Christ liveth, it is his will that they should live also. As Christ rose from the dead, so it is the will of Christ that his saints should rise also. As Christ is in heaven in glory, so it is the will of Christ that they should be with him where he is. So, as Christ is both King and Priest, so shall believers be made kings and priests. What is said in the text, is either with respect to what they now are, or what they shall be hereafter. The apostle says, “ye are a royal priesthood; 676 ” that is, ye have those honours in reversion. Christians are kings here, as a king who is in his minority; 941 who, though the crown is his right, has not yet Come actually to reign. The; are indeed in an exalted state while here, but not as they will be hereafter. Christians while here are indeed priests, but not as they will be. Christians are called kings, and priests here, in this world.
Rev. i. 6. “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father.” But in Rev. v. the saints in heaven speak of this as the consequence of their glory and exaltation. Rev. v. 9, 10. “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests; that we should reign on the earth.”
1. Christians are kings.
When Christians are called kings, the Scriptures include both what they actually have in this world, and what they have in a future state. The reward which our Lord Jesus promised to his disciples, was a kingdom. Luke xxii. 29. “And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me.” Christians, having this promise, are therefore heirs of a kingdom here, which they are hereafter to receive. James ii. 5. “Hearken, my beloved brethren; hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?”
The reward of the saints is represented as a kingdom, because the possession of a kingdom is the height of human advancement in this world, and as it is the common opinion that those who have a kingdom have the greatest possible happiness. The happiness of a kingdom, or royal state, for which it is so much admired by mankind, consists in these things.
(Jonathan Edwards, Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume Two, 2589-90)

“And,” I continued, “I am not ignorant that you venture to expound this psalm as if it referred to king Hezekiah; but that you are mistaken, I shall prove to you from these very words forthwith. ‘The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent,’ it is said; and, ‘Thou art a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek,’ with what follows and precedes. Not even you will venture to object that Hezekiah was either a priest, or is the everlasting priest of God; but that this is spoken of our Jesus, these expressions show. But your ears are shut up, and your hearts are made dull.268 For by this statement, ‘The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek,’ with an oath God has shown Him (on account of your unbelief) to be the High Priest after the order of Melchizedek; i.e., as Melchizedek was described by Moses as the priest of the Most High, and he was a priest of those who were in uncircumcision, and blessed the circumcised Abraham who brought him tithes, so God has shown that His everlasting Priest, called also by the Holy Spirit Lord, would be Priest of those in uncircumcision. Those too in circumcision who approach Him, that is, believing Him and seeking blessings from Him, He will both receive and bless. And that He shall be first humble as a man, and then exalted, these words at the end of the Psalm show: ‘He shall drink of the brook in the way,’ and then, ‘Therefore shall He lift up the head.’
(Justin Martyr, ANTE-NICENE FATHERS: Volume 1, 564)

Gareth L. Cockerill, Hebrews: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition

It is not merely the facts given in Genesis 14:17-20 which enable the writer of Hebrews to compare Melchizedek and Abraham and to show the superiority of the Priest in Melchizedek’s order. The things the preacher would have expected Genesis to say but which are omitted are also important. There is no indication in Genesis of the origin or decease of Melchizedek, of his ancestors or descendants. This omission may not seem unusual to the modern reader, but it seemed very extraordinary to the preacher and, probably, to Christians of New Testament times in general. The Old Testament gives the genealogy of all of the great people of God. They are all part of the genealogy that goes from Adam to Abraham to Christ. It is the biblical way of showing how these people fit into God’s plan of salvation which culminates in Christ.’ Here, however, Genesis describes someone who is superior to Abraham, and yet there is no genealogy given for him! (Gareth L. Cockerill, Hebrews: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, 152)
The fact that Melchizedek was without father or mother, without genealogy (7:3)—that is, without priestly genealogy—makes it very surprising that the patriarch Abraham would give him a tenth or tithe of the plunder (7:4). The preacher emphasized the word translated patriarch by placing it at the end of the Greek sentence. This word is indicative of Abraham’s greatness and is particularly appropriate for a discussion in which genealogy is central. As the patriarch, Abraham was the progenitor of all of God’s people. According to a requirement of the (subsequent) law of Moses the descendants of Levi who become priests’ collect a tenth from the rest of God’s people—that is, their brothers, who are also descended from the patriarch Abraham (7:5). The priests descended from Abraham collected tithes from the people descended from Abraham. Melchizedek, on the other hand, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he [Melchizedek] collected a tenth from Abraham, who was both the father of the Levitical priests and of those from whom they collected tithes. This shows that Abraham, the patriarch, saw Melchizedek as superior to himself. (154)

Geoffrey B. Wilson, Hebrews

Verse I, 2a. In spite of the degenerate polytheism of his neighbours, the sacred narrative describes Melchisedec as a ‘priest of God Most High’ (RV), a designation which distinguishes him as a servant of the only true God. He also ruled over the city of Salem, which is almost certainly to be identified with Jerusalem. Moreover, even the patriarch Abraham freely acknowledged the greatness of this man by whom he was blessed (v 7), and to whom he gave ‘the tenth of the spoils.’ (v 4) (80)
Verse 2b. The author finds a typical significance in the words ‘Melchisedec’ and ‘Salem,’ for the first means ‘King of righteousness’ while the second refers to the blessings of ‘peace’ which flow from his righteous rule. This is ever the order with God. The peace which is enjoyed by those who dwell in Salem is based upon the justifying righteousness of their great Priest-King. [Jer 23:6] (80)
As Melchisedec obviously had no place in the Levitical line, Abraham did not present tithes to him as a matter of legal obligation, but in voluntary recognition of his superiority as ‘priest of the most high God.’ (82)

Earl S. Johnson Jr., Interpretation Bible Study: Hebrews

In the Dead Sea Scrolls (documents written before the birth of Jesus), for example, an eschatological writing called 11 Q Melchizedek indicates that “the inheritance of Melchizedek” assures the Jews that they will be able to return to their homeland and that he will bring them liberty from the ravages of the evil one (Belial). In a later text found in Nag Hammadi (Egypt), he similarly appears to play a role in the Jews’ salvation. In 2 Enoch 72, a rabbinic text of uncertain date (possibly first century CE),  he is said to have been protected as a child by the archangel Gabriel and was designated by God to become “the originator of the priests” in later generations. In other writings, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (ca. 37—100 CE) emphasizes his priestly role, his relationship with Abraham, and the connection of Salem with the city of Jerusalem (Ant. 1.10.2 ). Philo Judaeus (ca. 13 BCE—50 CE), a prominent Jewish theologian and philosopher from Alexandria, carefully develops the allegorical implications of Melchizedek’s place as the high priest of God, emphasizing his righteousness and the fact that his thoughts about God were high, vast, and sublime. (See
Luke Timothy Johnson for references, 176—77, 181—83.) These texts demonstrate that Hebrews was not written in a vacuum but that the author was drawing on imagery already familiar to his readers. (33)
In chapter 7 the author places special emphasis on the mysterious background of Melchizedek in order to highlight the distance between the Levitical high priests and Jesus as the true high priest. (34)
For the original readers of Hebrews, many of them converts from Judaism, this argument must have been good news. They would have felt the freedom that is offered in chapters 8—13, when it is made clear that, because of Melchizedek, Old Testament methods of animal sacrifice no longer needed to be practiced. All these things have been supplanted by the one for whom Melchizedek was a forerunner, the one who is “the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted through better promises” (8:6). (34)

Herschel H. Hobbs, Hebrews: Challenges to Bold Discipleship

As I may say means “so to say.” The author said that, in effect, Levi paid tithes to Melchisedec in the person of his forefather Abraham. This proves the superiority of Melchisedec’s office over that of Levi, the father of the priestly tribe in Israel. (69)

Ray C. Stedman, How to Live What You Believe

This is like a motion picture in which a well-known star plays the part of a historical character, as many years ago Raymond Massey played the part of Abraham Lincoln. Throughout that movie you did not see Raymond Massey, but you saw Abraham for within the scope of a movie the star is no longer himself, but is for all practical purposes the very character whose role he is interpreting. This account in Genesis is that kind of a scene. Here is an ordinary man named Melchizedek, a priest of the true God, who lived in the village of Salem (later known as Jerusalem) and who met Abraham returning from battle. For the moment he is fulfilling a role which beautifully pictures the ministry of Jesus Christ to us today. (84)
Now the tithe, or tenth, is always the mark of ownership. To pay a tenth is to indicate that God owns the whole. In symbol, therefore, Abraham was saying to Melchizedek, “The One whom you depict has the right of ownership over everything in my life.” And in this movie of the ministry of Jesus Christ we see enacted a very important principle. Abraham and Melchizedek become available to each other. The provision of strength from Melchizedek exactly equaled the degree of commitment on the part of Abraham. (84-5)
You can have as much of Christ as, in turn, you are ready to permit Him to have of you! (85)
What is it that Jesus Christ can give you today? What does His present ministry make possible in your life right now? He can give you only what He is, that is all. It takes Christ to be a Christian! We need what He is in order to be what He was, and what He is is revealed in His names. He is, first of all, king of righteousness; that is, He is the One who has the secret of right conduct, the principle, the divine program which results in proper behavior. He is the king of that, He controls it. He is also the king of peace. May I use the equivalent modern term for that phrase? Mental health! He is the king of mental health, the of peace. He holds in His hand the secret of rest, or inner calm, of that adequacy within that gives poise, power and purpose to human life. This is so desperately being sought today. (85)

H.A. Ironside, Hebrews James and Peter

According to Levitical law, our Lord had no title to the priesthood at all. As to the flesh, He sprang from the tribe of Judah, not from that of Levi; but this does not in any way militate against His Priesthood since it is of an altogether different order. (89)

William Barclay, The Letter to the Hebrews,

We must begin by understanding the general position from which he starts. He starts with the basic idea that religion is access to God. It was to make that access to God possible that two things existed. First, the law. The basic idea of the law is that so long as a man faithfully observes its commandments he is in a position of friendship with God and the door to his presence is open to him. But men cannot keep the law and therefore their fellowship with God and their access to his presence are interrupted. It was exactly to deal with that situation of estrangement that the second thing existed, the priesthood and the whole sacrificial system. The Latin word for priest is pontifex which means a bridge-builder; the priest was a man whose function was to build a bridge between men and God by means of the sacrificial system. A man broke the law; his fellowship with God was interrupted and his access to God was barred; by the offering of the correct sacrifice that breach of law was atoned for and so the fellowship was restored and the barrier removed. (66)
(i) To the scholarly Jew any passage of scripture had four meanings to which he gave four different names. (a) First, there was Peshat, which is the literal and factual meaning. (b) Second, there was Remaz, which is the suggested meaning. (c) Third, there was Derush, which is the meaning arrived at after long and careful investigation. (d) Fourth, there was Sod, which is the allegorical or inner meaning, To the Jew the most important meaning by far was Sod, the inner meaning. (67)
(ii) Second, it is essential to note that the Jewish interpreters considered themselves completely justified in arguing not only from the utterances but also from the silences of scripture. An argument could be built, not only on what scripture said but also on what it did not say. In fact the writer to the Hebrews bases his argument in this passage at least as much on what scripture did not say about Melchizedek as on what it did. (68)
Melchizedek has no genealogy; he is without father and without mother (Hebrews 7 : 3). Note straight away that this is one of the arguments drawn from the silence of scripture which does not provide Melchizedek with any genealogy. This was unusual for two reasons. (a) It is the reverse of the habitual practice of Genesis. Genealogies are a feature of Genesis where long lists of a man’s ancestors constantly occur. But Melchizedek arrives on the scene, as it were, from nowhere. (b) Far more important—it is the reverse of the rules which governed the Aaronic priesthood which depended entirely on descent. Under Jewish law a man could not under any circumstances become a priest unless he could produce a certificated pedigree going back to Aaron. Character and ability had nothing to do with it; the one essential was that pedigree. When the Jews came back to Jerusalem from exile certain priestly families could not produce their genealogical records and were therefore debarred from the priesthood for ever (Ezra 2: 61-63; Nehemiah 7 : 63—65). (68)
Melchizedek’s priesthood was based on what he was, not on what he had inherited. (69)
A. B. Bruce thus sums up the points in which Melchizedek was superior to the ordinary Levitical priesthood. (a) He tithed Abraham and was therefore superior to him. Abraham was one of the patriarchs; the patriarchs are superior to their descendants; therefore Melchizedek is greater than the descendants of Abraham; the ordinary priests are the descendants of Abraham; therefore Melchizedek is greater than they. (b) Melchizedek is greater than the sons of Levi because they exacted tithes by legal enactment but he did it as a right he personally possessed given to him by no man. (c) The Levites received tithes as mortal men; he received them as one who lives for ever (Hebrews 7: 8). (d) Levi, to whom the Israelites paid tithes, may be said to have paid tithes to Melchizedek, because he was Abraham’s grandson and was therefore in Abraham’s body at the time Abraham paid tithes. (70)
(summation)
(i) Jesus is the High Priest, whose priesthood depends not on any genealogy but on himself alone.
(ii) Jesus is the High Priest who lives for ever.
(iii) Jesus is the High Priest who himself is sinless and never needs to offer any sacrifice for his own sin.
(iv) Jesus is the High Priest who in the offering of himself made the perfect sacrifice which once and for all opened the way to God. No more sacrifice need be made.
Having seen the general ideas in the mind of the writer to the Hebrews concerning Jesus as a priest after the order of Melchizedek, we now turn to this passage in detail and study it in sections. (71)
Melchizedek from his name was King of Righteousness and from his realm King of Peace. The order is at once significant and inevitable. Righteousness always comes before peace. Without righteousness there can be no such thing as peace. As Paul has it in Romans 5:1 : “Therefore since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God.” As he has it again in Romans 14:17: “The kingdom of God is … righteousness, peace and joy.” The order is always the same—first righteousness and then peace. (72)
W. M. Macgregor tells of an old woman who lived in a terrible slum in Edinburgh called the Pans. Every now and again she would grow disgusted with the surroundings in which she lived and would make a tour of her friends, extracting a penny or two from each. With the proceeds she would get helplessly drunk. When others remonstrated with her she would answer: “Do you grudge me my one chance to get out of the Pans with a sup of whisky?” Again it was escape—but she, too, had to return. It is always possible to find some kind of peace by the route of escape, but it is never a lasting peace. Dr. Johnson used to insist that a man should have a hobby, for he held that a man should have as many retreats for his mind as possible. But even there there is the necessity to return.  Escape is not wrong; sometimes it is necessary if health and sanity are to be preserved; but it is always a palliative and never a cure. (73)

C.S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews,

Nothing is written in Genesis concerning a father or mother for Melchizedec. The fact that there is no genealogy for this man in a book stressing the genealogies of its important men, is significant to the writer. He assumes the Holy Spirit did this purposely to show that Melchizedec would appear as a type of Christ. It’s an argument from silence. What the author sees in Melchizedec is this: the fact that he appears for a moment and then disappears, makes him like Jesus. The Lord came out of eternity in His incarnation—did His work in a short span of years—and then returned to eternity by His ascension. In His eternity, there is no beginning or ending for Jesus. Melchizedec, with no recorded father or mother, says the author, stands as a TYPE of the Son of God. Since Melchizedec has (in a sense) no beginning or ending either, his is a perpetual priesthood. This is why the key verse is: “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedec.” If the priesthood of Melchizedec is perpetual, then so is the priesthood of Jesus. That makes Jesus’ priesthood superior to that of Aaron. You and I may not understand this kind of reasoning, but Jewish readers would. (146)
Law, the Levites were given authority to exact tithes from their fellow Jews. Yet, this did not make them superior to them, because they all descended from the same man, Abraham. They had no authority to take tithes from people outside the nation, only the other 11 tribes. Yet here is Melchizedec, who is NOT a Jew, exacting tithes from no less a person then that the founder of the Jewish nation. (2) His second contrast is that while the Levites derived their authority to receive tithes from the Mosaic Law, Melchizedec’s authority did not rest on legal ground at all. His authority was his own greatness. He didn’t need a law to justify his action. We can only assume then, that his priesthood was given to him by God directly. It was because Abraham recognized his superiority that he gave him the tithe. How great he must have been to exact tithes from the very man to whom the promises were given in the first place. (3) The Levite, as a mortal man, had the privilege of receiving tithes as long as he lived. When he died, that privilege passed to another. But this was not true of Melchizedec, if we agree that Scripture pictures him as one who does not die. While we must assume that Melchizedec did actually die, it is the Scriptural view of him that our author is using in his argument. (148)

Raymond Brown, The Message of Hebrews

Old Testament Scripture is essentially Christ-centred. As we have seen earlier, it eagerly anticipates his coming, it describes his earthly ministry, vividly relates the precise circumstances and eternal benefits of his death for mankind, and looks beyond itself to the eventual fulfillment of its finest hopes. Its historical development, spiritual value and moral lessons are all fully appreciated by our author, but he comes to its arresting narratives as a man equipped by the Spirit of God to discern a further message. It is a book about Christ. The Son of God dominates the word of God in both Testaments. The marks of Christ are clearly impressed on all its pages for those who have the eye to see them. (Raymond Brown, The Message of Hebrews, 127)
  • He was a priest and so is Christ
  • He was a king and so is Christ.
  • He is righteousness and peace and so is Christ

John Wesley, Wesley’s Notes on the Bible,

2. Being first – According to the meaning of his own name. King of righteousness, then – According to the name of his city. King of peace – So in him, as in Christ, righteousness and peace were joined. And so they are in all that believe in him. (438)
The greatness of Melchisedec is described in all the preceding and following particulars. But the most manifest proof of it was, that Abraham gave him tithes as to a priest of God and a superior; though he was himself a patriarch, greater than a king, and a progenitor of many kings. (John Wesley, Wesley’s Notes on the Bible, 438)
God as the most high God must have the glory of all our victories. In them he shews himself higher than our enemies, and higher than we, for without him we could do nothing. And he gave him tithes of all – That is, of the spoils, Heb. vii, 4. This may be looked upon, (1.) As a gratuity presented to Melchizedek, by way of return for his respects. (2.) As an offering dedicated to the most high God, and therefore put into the hands of Melchizedek his priest. Jesus Christ, our great Melchizedek, is to be humbly acknowledged by every one of us as our king and priest, and not only the tithe of all, but all we have, must be given up to him. (640)

Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews,

The original readers of Hebrews would have known that Melchizedek was greater than Abraham because he was able to receive tithes and give a blessing (see 7:7). This argument may not carry the same logical forcefulness for readers today as it did then, but these early Jewish believers understood the argument. (92)
While some have taken this to mean that Melchizedek was an angel or a preincarnate appearance of Christ, the text does not support this. Rather, the contrast is being made between Melchizedek and Aaron’s priestly line, which depended entirely on genealogy. (94)
With no record of beginning or end, Melchizedek remains a priest forever, resembling the Son of God (see also Psalm 110:4). Hebrews doesn’t say that Jesus resembled Melchizedek, but that Melchizedek resembled Jesus. Melchizedek was a real man, a servant of God, whose history is recorded in the book of Genesis in such a way as to make him resemble the one who would come and fulfill completely the offices of priest and king, and who would truly be “a priest forever.” (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 94)
(7:7) Today we might not grasp the forcefulness of this argument without question, but for the original readers, this logic secured the conclusion. Melchizedek, as a priest of God Most High, had the power to bless. Therefore, Melchizedek must be superior to Abraham, who was blessed. A blessing was a significant ritual passed along from fathers to sons, as well as from prominent to less prominent people. Thus it follows that the one who has the power to bless is obviously greater than the one being blessed. (97)
Melchizedek is not recorded to have died, his priesthood extends forever, in contrast to the Levites, who died and passed on their service to their sons. This is how Melchizedek resembled Christ, who really does live and serve forever. What the author asserts about Melchizedek “from the record,” Jesus fulfills in person and power. Having died on the cross and risen again, Jesus lives never to die. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 98)

John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries Vol 22,

But we hence also learn how much reverence and sobriety is required as to the spiritual mysteries of God : for what is not found read in Scripture the Apostle is not only willing to be ignorant of, but also would have us not to seek to know. (158)
Then Abraham, being one of the chief servants of God and a prophet, having offered tithes to Melchisedec the priest, thereby confessed that Melchisedec excelled him in dignity. If, then, the patriarch Abraham owned him more honourable than himself, his dignity must have been singular and extraordinary. (160)
Then the argument is this,—Abraham, who excelled all others, was yet inferior to Melchisedec ; then Melchisedec had the highest place of honour, and is to be regarded as superior to all the sons of Levi. The first part is proved, for what Abraham owed to God he gave to Melchisedec: then by paying him the tenth he confessed himself to be inferior. (John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries Vol 22, 160)
Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Vol 12,
When nothing is recorded of the parentage of this man, it is not necessarily to be assumed that he had no parents but simply that the absence of the record is significant. (63)
When Abraham paid Melchizedek a tithe, the author sees Levi as paying it, for “Levi was still in the body of his ancestor. ” This is a way of speaking we find here and there in the Bible when the ancestor includes the descendants. So it was said to Rebekah, not two children but “two nations are in your womb” (Gen 25:23). Again, Paul can say, “In Adam all die” (1 Cor 15:22). Levi was thus included in the payment of the tithe (and, of course, all the priests who descended from him and whom the Hebrews esteemed so highly). The author wants his readers to be in no doubt about the superiority of Christ to any other priests and sees the mysterious figure of Melchizedek as powerfully illustrating this superiority. (65)

William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Thessalonians, the Pastorals, and Hebrews,

In the minds of his Hebrew audience Abraham was considered a great man; he was called the friend of God (II Chron. 20: 7; Isa. 41:8; James 2:23) and the father of the nation Israel, the patriarch (Isa. 51:2). The writer stresses the word patriarch to underscore the greatness of Abraham.
    However, someone greater than Abraham appeared at the time when Abraham returned victoriously from defeating four kings in northern Canaan and from setting five kings free. Abraham had reached a pinnacle in his leadership career in the southern part of Canaan. But upon his return, Abraham paid tribute to Melchizedek by giving him a tenth of the plunder. Literally the text reads: “Abraham gave him a tenth of the top of the heap.” Abraham gave him the best! (187)
This priest of God Most High did not exact tithes from Abraham as Levitical priests imposed a tithe on their fellow Israelites in later years. Of his own accord Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of the spoils, because he recognized him as God’s representative. And this representative imparted a divine blessing on Abraham. (188)

Donald Guthrie, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: Hebrews,

The further detail about Abraham giving Melchizedek a tithe, taken from the Genesis narrative, reinforces the superiority of the latter. By doing this Abraham acknowledged the right of Melchizedek to receive it. Having set out the historical facts the writer next proceeds to give an exposition of them.
    The first comment is based on the meaning of the name, i.e. king of righteousness. This type of exegesis would possess special force for Jewish readers, for whom names were significant, because it was accepted that names denoted the nature as well as the identity of the person. The appropriateness of ‘Melchizedek’ as a description of the nature of Jesus as our high priest would immediately appeal to the writer. It would invest the order of Melchizedek with a special quality of righteousness. (155-6)
It is worth noting that the perfect tense is used for Melchizedek’s receiving of tithes (dedekatōken) which draws attention, not only to the historic event, but also to its abiding significance. The writer is, as it were, transporting the event to the readers’ own time to show the continuance of this order of priesthood. (Donald Guthrie, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: Hebrews, 159)
9—10. The argument takes on a different turn as the relationship between Levi and Abraham is expounded. For an orthodox Jew the order of Aaron would be the only authentic priestly order, for Abraham was not a priest. But the author suggests that since Levi was a descendant of Abraham he could be said to be already in Abraham’s loins. (159)
The idea is clearly that Abraham’s descendants are identified in their forefather and that therefore the Levitical order was in effect acknowledging the superiority of Melchizedek. The force of this argument would come more strongly to minds familiar with the idea of solidarity, as the Hebrews were, than to those dominated by the idea of individuality. Neither the father nor the children could be independent of each other. Abraham’s payment of tithes could be transferred to his descendant Levi and hence to the whole order of his priesthood. Indeed Levi’s payment of tithes through Abraham looms as large as, if not larger than, his right to receive tithes from others.  In this way a delicate balance is suggested between a man’s indebtedness to the past and his responsibility for the present. Some aspects of the idea of solidarity are inescapable. (159-60)
Someone might at once object that Melchizedek’s order was a flash in the pan, however mysterious, whereas Aaron’s was a long established and respected line. The writer anticipates such an objection by pointing out the inadequacies of the Aaronic line and thus the need for a successor in Melchizedek. Admittedly the writer’s standard is nothing short of perfection. The conditional sentence, if perfection had been attainable . . . what further need . . . ?, depends on two assumptions. It assumes that ‘perfection’ is a desirable end, and it also assumes that the Levitical priesthood and with it the law could not produce such perfection. (160)
The Levitical system was a special provision by which the imperfect could approach God by means of vicarious offerings. It did not possess within it the power to effect perfection in the worshippers. Law had no mandate for such a positive aim. It has been suggested that divine legislation could have no other end than perfection (so Westcott). But Paul’s arguments in Romans 7:7ff. are sufficient to show that in practice the law brought only frustration. The law could in fact do no more than reveal man’s shortcomings. The need for a successor to Melchizedek thus rests on the inability of the order of Aaron to produce perfection. lt may well be, as Bruce points out that the linking of perfection to the Levitical order would have been intelligible only to Jewish readers, who might still be inclined after their conversion to Christianity to see some value in the old ritual. (160-1)

Philip E. Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews,

The description without father or mother or genealogy, accordingly, should not be taken literalistically to mean that Melchizedek had no parents or family, nor does the statement that he had neither beginning of days nor end of life intend us to understand him as an eternally existent being who experienced neither birth nor death. The point is that these assertions apply positively to Christ, not to Melchizedek. The significance of the biblical silence is that it marks Melchizedek out as a type who in these respects resembles the Son of God, who alone exists everlastingly, from eternity to eternity. (248)
The great boast of the Jews was that they were the descendants of Abraham, the friend of God and the recipient of the promise (cf. Jn. 8:33, 39; Mt. 3:9; Phil. 3:4f.). But here is someone in their own Scriptures who is manifestly Abraham’s superior. (251)      [//and a gentile at that!//]
‘If Melchizedek, who was a sign and shadow, is preferred to Abraham and to all the levitical priests, how much more Christ, who is the truth and the substance! … If a type of Christ is greater than he who has the promises, how much more so is Christ himself!” (251)
But significance is found, further, in the consideration that, in accordance with the strong (though by no means exclusively) Jewish concept of family solidarity, it is permissible to argue that Abraham s payment of tithes was at the same time Levi’s payment of tithes to Melchizedek, since Levi was still in the loins of his ancestor  when Melchizedek met him. Paul’s reasoning is of the same kind when he teaches, on the basis of the solidarity of the human race in Adam, that when Adam sinned all sinned (Rom. 5:12) and that the death of Adam was the death of all (1 Cor. 15:22) (253)

John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Hebrews,

The bronze serpent that God commanded Moses to set on a standard (Num. 21:8), for example, was a type of Christ’s being lifted up on the cross (John 3:14). The sacrificial lamb was a type of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who was sacrificed for the sins of the world (John 1:29; Rev. 5:6, 8; etc.). (172)
Chapter 7 is the focal point of Hebrews. It concerns the central, the most important, part of Judaism—the priesthood. No sacrifices could be made except by the priest and no forgiveness of sins could be had apart from the sacrifices. Obedience to the law was exceedingly important, but the offering of sacrifices was even more important. And the priesthood was essential for offering them. Consequently, the priesthood was exalted in Judaism. (172)
The Levitical priests, therefore, were priests of Jehovah. The Israelites were Jehovah’s people and the Levites were Jehovah’s priests. The Levitical priests could minister only to Israel and only for Jehovah.
    Melchizedek, however, was priest of the Most High God (‘Él ‘Elyôn, a more universal name for God). It represents God as possessor of heaven and earth, God above all national or dispensational distinctions. The Most High God is over both Jew and Gentile, and is first mentioned in Scripture in relation to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18).
    The significance is this: Jesus is not just the Messiah of Israel, but of the world. His priesthood is universal, just as Melchizedek’s. (175)
No truth of Scripture is more definite than that God chose the Jews as His special people, His very unique and cherished people. But Scripture is equally clear that Israel continually misunderstood and presumed upon her unique relation to God. They, for example, recognized Him as absolute Creator of heaven and earth and as sovereign over His world. But they had a very difficult time understanding Him as Redeemer of the world. As Creator and Sustainer, He was the world’s; but as Savior and Lord, He was theirs alone. (Jonah’s reluctance to preach to Gentiles illustrates this.) They could hardly conceive of another divine covenant and another divine priesthood,  especially one that was royal and superior to their own. Yet they are told that the covenant in Christ, though called new, not only has superseded theirs but, in type, actually preceded theirs. (176)
From the beginning of the Aaronic priesthood, genealogy determined everything, personal qualification nothing. If you descended from Aaron, you could serve; if you did not, you could not. Consequently, the priests often were more concerned about their pedigrees than their holiness. (177)

Chuck Smith Commentary on Hebrews 7,  https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/smith_chuck/c2000_Hbr/Hbr_007.cfm

So the writer of the book of Hebrews, in the seventh chapter, is going to point out that this priest, Melchisedec, was of a higher order of priesthood than was the Aaronic order of priesthood established under the law. And that even after the Aaronic order had been established, a thousand years later…in fact, there is a thousand years’ time difference between the two mentions of Melchisedec in the Old Testament. Abraham lived about 2000 B.C. when he met Melchisedec, a thousand years later. You see, we read of it in the same Bible and it’s only a few books back, but it is a thousand years back. Suddenly this comes forth, “God has sworn and will not repent, ‘Thou art a priest forever, (talking of the Messiah), after the Order of Melchisedec,'” not after the order of Aaron, after the order of Melchisedec. So that gives you a little background.
So coming to this Psalm 110, “God hath sworn and shall not repent, ‘Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.'” If the Levitical priesthood were perfect, if it could bring man into a perfect state, then why wouldn’t God have said concerning the Messiah that, “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Aaron”? It was because the Aaronic priesthood could not bring anything into perfection. Therefore, God reverts to an earlier priesthood and greater priesthood, “Thou are a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.”

David Guzik, Study Guide for Hebrews 7, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide2017-Hbr/Hbr-7.cfm

2. These Christians from a Jewish background were interested in Jesus as their High Priest, but had a significant intellectual objection to the idea. This is because Jesus did not come from the priestly tribe (the tribe of Levi) or the priestly family in that tribe (the family of Aaron).
a. The writer to the Hebrews wants to remove these intellectual problems the Jewish Christians had with the gospel. These intellectual hang-ups kept them from continuing on to maturity in Jesus.
b. In the same way, many Christians are hung up on intellectual issues that could be resolved, allowing them to move on with Jesus. If a Christian is hung up on issues like creation and evolution, the validity of miracles, or other such things, they should get the issues resolved so they can move on with Jesus.
f. Made like the Son of God: Melchizedek was made like the Son of God. It really isn’t that Jesus has Melchizedek’s kind of priesthood. Instead, Melchizedek has Jesus’ kind of priesthood.

“Peace without righteousness is like the smooth surface of the stream before it takes its awful Niagara plunge.” (Spurgeon)
“A teaching was intended by the Holy Spirit in the names: so the apostle instructs us in the passage before us. I believe in the verbal inspiration of Scripture; hence, I can see how there can be instruction for us even in the proper names of persons and of places. Those who reject verbal inspiration must in effect condemn the great apostle of the Gentiles, whose teaching is so frequently based upon a word. He makes more of words and names than any of us should have thought of doing, and he was guided therein by the Spirit of the Lord, and therefore he was right. For my part, I am far more afraid of making too little of the Word than of seeing too much in it.” (Spurgeon)

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