Scripture Notes.


Genesis 14:18-20; Hebrews 7:1-3.

While Melchizedek is confessedly a mysterious personage, his typical significance is clear from the inspired explanation in the epistle to the Hebrews. In Genesis we learn that he was king of Salem (undoubtedly Jerusalem, see Psalm 76) and priest of the most High God, and that, bringing forth bread and wine, he blessed Abraham on returning from the slaughter of the kings. This is all the information the history affords. When we come to the Hebrews, the apostle tells us how, and in what manner, he was a figure of the priesthood of Christ. First, his name, Melchizedek, means king of righteousness, and then king of Salem, which is, king of peace. Now these are the two characters in which Christ will reign in the kingdom; first as David, and then as Solomon, though He will ever combine the two; for He will reign throughout the thousand years in righteousness, and the effect of this will be peace, according to that word, "The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness." (Psalm 72:3; compare Isaiah 32:17.) But Melchizedek was also a priest, and it is of Christ, as the royal priest, that he is specially the shadow, even as we read in the Psalm, "The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." (Psalm 110:4.) It is this of which the apostle writes in Heb. 7, where he is showing the superiority of the priesthood of our Lord to that of Aaron; and in doing this he tells us that Melchizedek was "without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but, made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually." Some, pressing the literal meaning of these expressions, have raised difficulties; but the term "without descent," or without genealogy, makes all plain. It simply means that Melchizedek has no recorded genealogy in the Scriptures; that in this sense he is without father or mother, and that his birth and death are left unnoticed, to the end that he might be a type of the everlasting priesthood of Christ. In this way he is "made like the Son of God," he appears on the scene as God's priest, and, inasmuch as there is no account of his having ever passed away, he is regarded as being a priest continually, and he is so regarded that he might be a more perfect type of the glorious and unchangeable priesthood of our Lord and Saviour. He was not, as some have ventured to assert, the Son of God, but only a figure of Him in the character of His priesthood. It may be added, that the present service of Christ as the Priest is after the pattern of that of Aaron; but when He comes forth in His robes of glory and beauty, He will assume the Melchizedek character; for He will then be a Priest on His throne. But if He is king and priest, all believers, through virtue of association with Him in the grace of God, will also be kings and priests (See Rev. 1:5-6); and hence the twenty-four elders are seen seated on thrones, robed with priestly garments, and with crowns of gold on their heads." (Rev. 4.)


Philippians 2:7; Hebrews 10:6-7.

There is no more interesting subject in the Bible (for it opens up the whole truth of redemption) than the servantship of Christ. It began with incarnation; for the words in Philippians, "And took upon Him the form of a servant," are not prior in time, as some have supposed, to the succeeding clause, "but was made in the likeness of men." It is, indeed, "taking upon Him the form of a servant, becoming in the likeness of men," both clauses referring to the same time. The passage in Hebrews is undoubtedly anterior to the appearance of our Lord in this world: it unfolds to us a transaction in eternity, revealing the Eternal Son presenting Himself to God, in view of the sacrifices all failing to answer His mind, saying, "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God." And it was for the accomplishment in this world of this His desire for the glory of God, that a body was prepared for Him, that holy human body in which He glorified God on the earth, and finished the work which was given Him to do. In Psalm 40, whence the passage in Hebrews is a citation, we read, "Mine ears hast Thou opened" - opened, surely, to hear for obedience to the will of God. (Compare Isaiah 50:4.) This was translated in the Greek version of the Old Testament Scriptures, "A body hast Thou prepared me," and the Spirit of God in the Hebrews adopts this translation as the true sense of the words in the psalm. This explains clearly for us, that it was in incarnation the Lord commenced His servantship, coming down from heaven as He did, not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him. (John 6:38.) His whole life therefore was one of service: every act and every word alike, yea, every thought, being in obedience to His Father's will. And as His life so also His death; for, speaking of His death, He says, "This commandment I received of My Father." (John 10:18.) There are two other scriptures, amongst many others, which may be cited. Rebuking His disciples for their self-seeking, He says, "Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Matt. 20:28.) And again, on a similar occasion, He said, "I am among you as he that serveth." (Luke 22:27.) Thus He was the servant in all His pathway; in life and in death; but, blessed be His name, His service did not end even at the cross. He might have gone out free, but He loved His Master, His wife, and His children, and became a servant for ever. (See Exodus 21:2-6.) He is thus in His grace a servant now on behalf of His people: He serves for them in His priesthood with God, in His advocacy with the Father, and in all that He has undertaken as their Representative in heaven; and when the saints are for ever with Him in the glory He will still retain His servantship, as He Himself teaches when He says, "Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when He cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them." (Luke 12:37.) Who can penetrate into all the depths of the grace and love of Him, who at such a cost has thus devoted Himself to the glory of God and the service of His saints?


1 John 1:1.

The expression, "Which … our hands have handled," is very remarkable. Our Lord uses the same word when, to remove the doubts of His disciples as to the reality of His resurrection, He said, "Handle Me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see Me have." (Luke 24:39.) It is possible that the Spirit of God recalled this scene to the mind of the apostle, and thus led him to use the word. If so, the reference would be to the Lord's resurrection body; but it is not permitted to us, as to this, to speak with certainty. "That which is from the beginning" dates from the incarnation, and was "that eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us." And John testifies to the reality, of this manifestation, and certifies it to his readers on the ground that he had heard, seen, attentively examined, and handled it. Thus the eternal life, "that eternal life," was manifested in a holy human body, and the object of the apostle's testimony concerning it was, "that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." Everyone therefore who received the testimony of the apostle received with it (for therein he received Christ) eternal life, and by it was brought into fellowship with all who also possessed eternal life; yea, with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. This marvellous possibility of grace is offered to all who hear the gospel message; and hence we wonder not that the apostle adds, "These things write we unto you, that your joy may be full." E. D.