Was Melchizedek an appearance of Christ in the flesh?

What are we to gather from the scriptural reference to Melchizedek?

Was he a man of God of his time—a priest of the Most High, indeed, or was he actually the Son of God?

In dealing with this perennial question one wishes to recognize the views of some esteemed brethren who take a contrary view to that expressed here. They believe that this was a Theophany or appearance of the Second Person of the Godhead in a temporary human form (all such theophanies being necessarily Christophanies), and that Melchizedek was actually the Son of God. But is there nothing in the fact that he is said to have been made “like unto the Son of God”? You don’t say a man is like himself; he is himself, but he may closely resemble someone else. However, many such theophanies occur to us—the man who wrestled with Jacob at Jabbok, the man with sword in hand who appeared to Joshua, the angels who appeared to Gideon and Manoah, etc.

One thing characterises them all. At first the appearance seems only human—an ordinary man, but at the end the superhuman, nay the Divine, character of the appearance is manifested. Note this in each of the cases referred to above. This is entirely absent in the case before us. In no sense are we informed that Abraham recognised Melchizedekas Divine, but he did recognise him as a king and as a priest of the Most High God, who ministered to his bodily needs and was greater than himself, therefore able to bless him and worthy to receive tithes from him. Again, Christ might have appeared as a King, but surely not as King of a well-known place as Salem or Jerusalem. Whoever Melchizedek was, his office as priest only shews that God in calling Abraham for a certain object, had not for that left all the world in darkness, but still had notable witnesses, outside His purpose concerning His chosen people to be. Those who stand for the deity of Melchizedek rely much on the expressions used by the Spirit of him in Hebrews 7: , and make rather “in and out” efforts to shew how each expression applies to Christ. I believe the whole effort is in vain, for these expressions if forced to apply to Christ must be interpreted either of Him in incarnation or of Him before incarnation, and this cannot be done.

As a matter of fact, I believe there is one point and only one which the Holy Ghost would emphasise by His silence in Genesis 14:  concerning the parentage, genealogy, birth and death of Melchizedek, and that is the conventIonal continuity and endless character of His priesthood. The meaning is not that this man was actually without parents nor that he is alive somewhere to-day, but that by the fact that he appears suddenly on the page of Scripture and that no mention is made of his decease, he is thus qualified to be an apt figure of Him Who is Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek and Whose Priesthood can never pass to another.

W.H.