The Duration Of
The Melchisedec Priesthood

by A.E. Knoch

A GLARING contradiction in current translations lies in the statement that Melchisedec "abideth a priest continually." One of the grandest glories of the new Jerusalem is the absence of a temple (Rev.21:22). In the new earth God Himself tabernacles with mankind (Rev.21:3). At the consummation God becomes All in all (1 Cor.15:28). These great truths have been practically obliterated by the idea that Christ, in His Melchisedec priesthood, abides continually. This is specially bewildering in Hebrews, for there the Aaronic priesthood is shown to be imperfect because it continues, without coming to a conclusion. The whole argument of the epistle is clouded by the mistranslation of a single word.

The Greek word dieenekes occurs four times in the Scriptures, all in this epistle, as follows (A.V.):

eis to dieenekes, INTO THE THRU-CARRY

Heb. 7: 3   abideth a priest continually
10: 1   continually make the comers thereunto perfect
10:12   forever sat down on the right hand of God
10:14   he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified

It is freely acknowledged that the usage of words is the final test of their significance. Yet when their literal force agrees with their usage, it is always to be preferred. This Greek word is made up of two elements THRU and CARRY. Literally it signifies to carry any action through to a finality. It does not signify to keep at it continually forever and never get through, but the very reverse.

The Scriptures are written with intense exactitude. For the last century it has been popular to say that this word means that. Now we wish to insist that, in each case, this means this, and nothing else. In this case we wish to affirm that, if God intended to say continually in two of these passages, He would have used diapantos THRU EVERY, which the A.V. itself translates continually in Hebrews 13:15. Since He has not used it, He did not mean it. He does not need the aid of translators to edit His words. In this case it works havoc, for it gives the opposite impression. Continuous repetition belongs to the imperfect Aaronic priesthood. Finality is associated with the Melchisedec order, because Christ carries through what the Levitical failed to do.

So also with the rendering "for ever." If God intended to say that the seating of Christ (10:12) and the perfection of the saints (10:14) should endure for the same length of time as His Melchisedec priesthood (Heb.5:6; 6:20; 7:17,21,24,28 for the eon), which the translators have rendered "for ever," why did He not use the phrase for the eon, in these passages? One would think that God was a mere amateur in literary craft, and sadly in need of instruction in the precise meaning and use of words. The fact that we honor God by allowing that He does know how to write, and has used infinite exactitude, has been richly rewarded by removing all contradictions from the Scriptures.

The conclusive proof that this word really means to a finality, is found in its contexts, as given in the C.V.

eis to dieenekes, INTO THE THRU-CARRY

Heb. 7: 3   is remaining a priest to a finality
10: 1   are never finally able to perfect those approaching
10:12   is seated to a finality at the right hand of God
10:14   He has made those who are hallowed perfect to a finality

A great deal has been said about Melchisedec, which fails to see that his record in the Scriptures pictures the Son of God. There is no question as to his actually having a father and mother, or a beginning of days or consummation of life. God alone had no beginning, and this man was only a picture of God's Son, hence he was not that Son, as some suppose. The point is that he did not "continually" minister as a priest, nor did he hand down the office to his descendants, as Aaron was compelled to do. He carried through his work. So also will Christ carry through His priesthood, to a finality.

In contrast to the Melchisedec priesthood are the offerings under the law, which are "never finally able to perfect those approaching" (Heb.10:1). The A.V., by connecting eis to dieenekes (INTO THE THRU-CARRY) with the time of offering under the law instead of the perfection of those who approached, gives a false color to the meaning of the Greek phrase. It is not "which they offer year by year continually," but "finally able to perfect." The offerings were, indeed, continual, but the perfection was not final.

The same sort of error is apparent in the next passage. It is not that Christ "offered one sacrifice for sins for ever." That is quite unthinkable. His sacrifice was short in duration. How a translator can speak of it as being "for ever" passes our comprehension. It is utterly opposed to the whole argument of Hebrews. This should be punctuated so as to read "forever sat down." It is in contrast to the previous verse "and every priest standeth daily...offering oftentimes..." It is no contrast for Him to "sacrifice...forever." There is a great difference, if He stops work altogether and is seated to a finality, His work finally finished.

It is evident, therefore, that the continuance of the Aaronic priesthood was a badge of its futility. Is the Melchisedec order likewise inefficient? Or does this priesthood accomplish its object? How long is the duration of the Melchisedec reign of Christ? Six passages bring before us the duration of the priesthood of our Lord, Jesus Christ. For the A.V. it is always "for ever" or "for evermore." The CONCORDANT VERSION follows:

Heb. 5:6; 7:17,21   Thou art a priest for the eon
     According to the order of Melchisedec.
6:20   Chief Priest according to the order of Melchisedec for the eon.
7:24   because He is remaining for the eon, has an inviolate priesthood
7:28   For the law is constituting men chief priests who have infirmity,
     yet the word sworn in the oath which is after the law, the Son,
     perfected for the eon.

This phrase "for the eon" is in contrast to that at the end of the epistle, where glory is ascribed to Jesus Christ "for the eons of the eons" (Heb.13:21). He has many glories. Two of these are of special note. He is Priest and King. A priest is appointed to represent the people before God, and is only needed in the presence of sin, while mankind is at a distance from God. Priesthood vanishes in the new creation, just as rule itself is abrogated at the consummation of the eons. If the priesthood of Christ were like that under the law, in which the people were ever brought nigh, but never near, then it would be lacking its chief excellence. That is, that it carries through (dieenekes) its object, and makes priesthood needless, for all can then approach the Deity.

As priests, the saints reign with Christ a thousand years. As kings, their rule is associated with His for the whole day of God, which follows the day of Jehovah. So that the Melchisedec priesthood of Christ is literally "for the eon," and yet His reign as the Son of God goes on throughout the eon which follows. His priesthood is for but one eon, His kingdom for two. And the greatest glory of each is that He accomplishes the object for which they exist. He brings men so near to God that no priest is needed. He rules so effectively and subordinates the race to God so completely that no further rule is desirable. Then, and not till then, He hands over all to God, Himself being crowned only with the amaranthine halo of humility.

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