Q. I have a question concerning the identity of Melchizedek. Who was he? I have an old Wall Chart History of the World book that hints at him possibly being Shem, however Hebrews 7:3 speaks about Melchizedek having no father, no mother, having neither end of days, nor beginning of life. However, in verse 4 it says he was a great man. I’ve also heard that he is the pre-incarnate Christ. Can you shed light on this? Thank the Lord for your ministry.
A. You’ve touched on the two most popular identities for Melchizedek. It’s likely that Abraham met Shem, who actually outlived him. And the name Melchizedek means King of Righteousness, so it could have been Shem’s title as the King of Salem.
On the other hand King of Righteousness is a title that really belongs only to God and the city of Salem later became known as Jerusalem, the place of God’s throne. Add the fact that Hebrews 7:3 hints at an eternal existence, and Psalm 110:4 makes Jesus a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek and you can build a case for the pre-incarnate Christ.
No one knows for sure, but I think Melchizedek was at least Shem and could likely have been the Lord Himself.