A Man Without Genealogy


What the Order of Melchizedek Means For Baptism

Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, and all His works are chiastic. Because of this, a solid understanding of any Covenant requires us to identify its “bookends.” According to Hebrews, the Melchizedekian bookends are crucial for a comprehension of the limitations of the Abrahamic Covenant.

Firstly, the description of Melchizedek itself has a Covenantal shape, which should help us to understand its content and its flow:

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, (Creation – Genesis)
met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, (Division – Exodus)
and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. (Ascension – Leviticus)
He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, (Testing – Numbers)
and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. (Maturity – Deuteronomy)
He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, (Conquest – Joshua)
but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever. (Glorification – Judges)

As usual, the internal logic of the content and order of the statements is made plain with a Covenant-literary analysis. In describing this mysterious priest-king of Jerusalem, the author not only recapitulates the first seven books of the Bible, he recapitulates the entire history of the Abrahamic Covenant.

  • “Most High God” is a Gentile name for Yahweh, alluding to the priesthood of all nations which existed before the Aaronic priesthood.
  • The slaughter of kings and the blessing of “dining with God” as a prophet was fulfilled in the destruction of Egypt and the ascension of Israel’s elders in Exodus 24. In both cases, the tyranny of opportunistic and vengeful “Cains” was judged that the ministry of atonement might be re-established.
  • PRIESTHOOD: Abraham’s tithe obviously alludes to the establishment of the Levitical Order, whose members represented the Firstfruits of the Land.
  • KINGDOM: As the righteous king of Jerusalem, Melchizedek prefigured the priestly kingdom of David, with its expanded priesthood and permanent house. The reference to the translation of his name at this point might be the fact that God’s chosen man often receives a new name “in the fire” of the Covenant Ethics (beginning with Adam as “Ish.”) For David, it was the establishment of a house for God’s own name.
  • PROPHECY: Maturity concerns either war or peace, plagues or plunder, depending on the obedience of the kings. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus blesses the peacemakers at this point. In Israel’s history, of course, the failure of Solomon (“Shelomoh”, derived from shalom) to keep the Mosaic laws for Israel’s kings1See Guns, Girls and Gold, led to an Imperial Era under Gentile kings.
  • Just as circumcision singled out a childless “Father” to be the genealogical source of the Messiah, so baptism began the ministry of a fatherless Son.

The pattern begins with the original Melchizedek and ends with his fulfilment in Christ. It seems to me that the confusion concerning the use of Melchizedek in Hebrews originates from a two-fold failure:

a) A failure to understand the Noahic priesthood as an order of priest-kings like Noah. The union of priesthood and kingdom, Church and State, is pictured in the offering of both bread and wine. Once united, they result in the ministry of the Prophet, the one who not only listens to God, and acts for God, but also speaks for God. The division of humanity into Jew and Gentile was the reason the Aaronic priests never drank wine in God’s presence.2See “The Forbidden Feast” in God’s Kitchen: Theology You Can Eat & Drink. The Lord’s Supper pictured the imminent end of the Aaronic order.

b) They fail to realise that the lack of detail in many descriptions of Old Testament characters is part of the Spirit’s work in giving us archetypes3See the introduction to James Jordan’s Judges commentary. which would later be fulfilled. The name of Manoah’s wife is never revealed to us, not because she was not worthy to be named, but in fact because she was worthy to typify “the Woman” who would give birth to the miraculous Son.

From Adam, we can trace the Messianic genealogy to Abraham. But the purpose of the writer of Hebrews is to demonstrate to his Jewish Christian audience that genealogy was irrelevant to priesthood in the undivided world. Being without genealogy is symbolic of a New Creation, referring to Adam as the “son of God” (Luke 3:38). When the entire Physical world was wiped out, Noah became a man “without genealogy.” The entire previous civilisation had failed, and he was a new beginning. The author of Hebrews does not mention either Adam or Noah because the contrast he desires is only obvious in Abraham’s submission to an uncircumcised priest-king.

This brings us once again4See Children of Heaven. to the baptism of Jesus. No one disputes that the appearance of the dove was to symbolise a new Creation, alluding to the “fluttering” or “brooding” of the Spirit upon the waters in Genesis 1, and the dove sent out upon the flood waters by Noah. What I want to highlight here is the subtle supersession of genealogy at this event. Not only is Jesus’ true father revealed as the Father in heaven, He is chosen from a wide field of circumcised, repentant sons of Abraham. At this point, circumcision became entirely redundant. Natural pedigree, or lack of it, is made redundant when one responds to the Gospel and receives the Spirit of Christ. This is why, in Christ, all physical and social advantages or disadvantages become utterly meaningless. The standard is an Ethical/Spiritual transformation, an entirely new life.

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

This means that a baptism which is not only given to infants because they are part of a particular social group or family, but purports to confer either “advantages” of grace, or even “salvation” due to natural pedigree is a monstrosity. Paedobaptism mutates baptism into the very thing it supersedes: a new circumcision, a sign which has to do with genealogy, with tribe. It takes the New Covenant and makes it Abrahamic, Aaronic. Consequently, the next verse in Galatians is misunderstood:

And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:29)

Paul says that those in Christ are Abraham’s heirs, but in the context of the preceding verse he cannot be referring to physical offspring. Why would the Lord dismantle the Jew-Gentile divide only to establish something that is almost exactly the same? The answer is found in Jesus’ baptism. He is speaking of the sons of heaven, not the sons of earth, the Order of Melchizedek, not the “genealogical” line of Abraham.

They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did…” (John 8:39)

Paedobaptists claim that their baptism is about faith rather than genealogy, but in truth it is an unworkable hybrid of the two. This is why they fight amongst themselves so much. If their baptism is genealogical, then infants should not receive Communion, because the Table is clearly about faith. If their baptism is about faith, then their infants must somehow be miraculously “regenerate” from the womb. The myopia (or stubbornness) on both sides is breathtaking, because the solution is so simple. Those who claim that “Covenant membership” is objective show a surprising lack of objectivity when it comes to the Scriptures concerning baptism. 5I do believe “New Covenant membership” is objective, but this is because everyone on the planet is a member of this Covenant, and called to repent and believe. The clear teaching of the Bible concerning the qualifications for baptism are ignored, and many baptism texts are twisted to fit their agenda.

Marcionism — ignoring the Old Testament — is a wrong turn, because we can only understand the New Testament through studying the Old. But this “objective” baptism requires a kind of reverse Marcionism, where the New Covenant realities are “carnalised” and rendered “Abrahamic.” Almost all of the supposed “proof texts” for paedobaptism are Abrahamic, including the ones in the New Testament. But the Order of Melchizedek is a priesthood whose ordination celebrates the irrelevance of genealogy.6See An Atheist ‘Gets’ Baptism. Just ask a Jew or a Roman Catholic whose grown child has committed the “unforgivable sin” of getting baptised by immersion. Many such converts are disowned, because their circumcision or baptism is hereditary. The unwillingness of many Christians to submit to biblical baptism is likely due to a similar fear. If one sprinkled Presbyterian requested to be immersed in a congregation of sprinklers, this act immediately renders all their “baptisms” to be meaningless, totally discredited. Suddenly, they are revealed to be what they are: baby dedications. This is because such a baptism is an act which publicly states an allegiance to heaven rather than earth, to God rather than men. If you question a credobaptism, you question Christ. If you question a paedobaptism, you merely question some earthly guardians (regardless of the claims of efficacy by many paedobaptists).

Baptism is about ethical maturity, about “outgrowing” your parents. This is why circumcision and baptism sit where they do (typologically) in the passage above. Circumcision is an objective application of the Law. Baptism, however, speaks of internal Law. It is about stepping off the coat tails of your parents and answering to God and His Church for yourself. It is about the beginning of ministry, graduating from being limited to “priestly” bread to drinking wine in God’s presence as a king, that one might go and serve as a prophet.7Wine is not for children. Paedocommunion puts the mental in sacramentalism! Sadly, many of my paedobaptist friends think the cries of their infants are somehow terrifying to the devil and to the nations, as though the birth of a child is as miraculous as Christ emerging from the grave. This is ludicrous. Perhaps if they applied their teaching on the interpretation of tongues to these infant cries they might stop being so silly. Babies are not prophets. Giving the wine of the Sanctuary to infants is to claim that circumcision of heart is not necessary to be a son (representative) of God, and this particular claim originated in the mouth of the serpent in the Garden of Eden.

As a New Covenant “child of God,” the Christian is “without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.” The second birth makes the first birth quite meaningless. To celebrate a first birth with baptism is like having wedding cake at a circumcision (as Peter Leithart evidently does). A paedobaptism which requires not only parents but “God-parents” is the exact opposite of Jesus’ baptism. It is a blatantly obvious distortion of everything which Jesus’ baptism stood for. Paedobaptist friends have told me that paedobaptism is not purely genealogical, and neither was circumcision, to which I reply that it was genealogical/tribal, the exact opposite of the New Covenant, which is designed not to replace but to transcend all  such human boundaries. If parental/tribal guardians must be present, then I’m afraid the heavenly Father has nothing to do with it. If it has four legs, a tail, and barks like a dog, it is not a wild stallion.

I am surprised the Reformers did not reject the practice. I guess they were culture-bound by their idea of Christendom, resulting in a “civic” sprinkling as part of a rite of citizenship, but modern paedobaptists are not bound by such ideas (and ought not to hanker after them!). In any case, we are to obey God rather than men, the Bible rather than the Reformers. And a good dose of objective, logical thinking would not go astray, either.

To insist on paedobaptism, or to be wrong more consistently by insisting on paedosacraments (Abraham ate the bread and drank the wine on behalf of those in his loins), is to misunderstand both why circumcision was instituted (a fundamentally Social order) and why it was ended (replaced by a fundamentally Ethical order). In baptism, an individual becomes a new Creation, and I will discuss what this means in the next post.

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1. See Guns, Girls and Gold
2. See “The Forbidden Feast” in God’s Kitchen: Theology You Can Eat & Drink.
3. See the introduction to James Jordan’s Judges commentary.
4. See Children of Heaven.
5. I do believe “New Covenant membership” is objective, but this is because everyone on the planet is a member of this Covenant, and called to repent and believe.
6. See An Atheist ‘Gets’ Baptism.
7. Wine is not for children. Paedocommunion puts the mental in sacramentalism!

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