MELCHIZEDEK—Was He the Holy Spirit?

Melchizedek Blessing Abraham

First, and what to me is the most important part of this little study, two quotes from Ellen White that I believe strongly indicate that Melchizedek couldn’t have been the Holy Spirit.

Quote #1

“Upon his return from a successful military expedition, he was met by Melchizedek, “king of Salem, and priest of the most high God.” This holy man blessed Abraham.” {Review & Herald, May 16, 1882}

In this quote Ellen White tells us that Melchizedek was a “holy man.” She uses that expression 42 times in her writings. She always applies it to a human being. She never applies it to God the Father; nor does she ever apply to the Holy Spirit.

PAUL—Acts of the Apostles 513
ENOCH—Patriarchs & Prophets 86
NEHEMIAH—Signs of the Times, November 29, 1883
DANIEL—The Sanctified Life 18
ELISHA—Prophets & Kings 237
SAMUEL—Health Reformer, March 1, 1880
JOHN THE BAPTIST—Review & Herald, August 2, 1898
JESUS—Early Writings 173 (Quoting Pilate’s wife—and of course, that was after Christ “became a man.”)

“No words can describe the scene which took place as the Son of God was publicly reinstated in the place of honor and glory which He voluntarily left when He became a man.” {Signs of the Times, May 10, 1899}

We learn from that quote that Jesus “became a man,” which means that before He “became” a man He wasn’t a man. And since there’s no evidence that either the Father or the Holy Spirit ever “became a man,” it must then follow that neither are “a man.” (Man meaning human, not he versus she.)

Going along with that, the Bible tells us—“God is not a man.” Numbers 23:19 (The NIV translates that verse—“God is not human.”) Ellen White quotes Numbers 23:19 numerous times.

God the Father “is not a man,” and neither is the Holy Spirit. Therefore, Melchizedek, who we’re told was a man, couldn’t have been the Holy Spirit.

Quote #2

“As soon as David was established on the throne of Israel he began to seek a more appropriate location for the capital of his realm. Twenty miles from Hebron a place was selected as the future metropolis of the kingdom. Before Joshua had led the armies of Israel over Jordan it had been called Salem. Near this place Abraham had proved his loyalty to God. Eight hundred years before the coronation of David it had been the home of Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God.” {Patriarchs & Prophets 703}

In this quote we’re told that “eight hundred years before the coronation of David,” this “location,” that David chose to be “the future metropolis of his kingdom,” “had been the home of Melchizedek.”

Maybe I’m wrong, and if I am I hope someone shows me, but I don’t think you’ll find any evidence that the Holy Spirit ever made His home upon this earth—and certainly not in that specific place, at that specific time.

That being the case, Melchizedek couldn’t have been the Holy Spirit.

I’d like to say one more thing in regard to the writings of Ellen White: As far as I know, there’s nothing in her writings indicating that she believed Melchizedek was the Holy Spirit.


Now I want to examine the main, and as far as I know, the only passage that appears to support the idea that Melchizedek was the Holy Spirit. (In the doing of this I will be treading on what to many is sacred ground—the fact that the King James is not always the best or most accurate translation. Hopefully, those of you who tend to be “King James Only” will simply consider the evidence.)

In speaking of Melchizedek, Hebrews 7:3 in the King James reads:

“Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life.” {Hebrews 7:3 KJV}

(Let me stop quick and point out that Hebrews 7:3 goes on to say—“made like unto the Son of God.” I’ve never seen anywhere, in either the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy, that the Holy Spirit was “made like unto the Son of God.”)

Admittedly, as it reads in the King James (and most other translations), that portion of Hebrews 7:3 that I shared appears to at least give some support to the idea that Melchizedek could possibly have been the Holy Spirit. But now I’d like to try to make the case that how the King James translates Hebrews 7:3 is incorrect.

First, how a few other translations translate that verse:

“Without [any record of] father or mother, nor ancestral line, without [any record of] beginning of days (birth) nor ending of life (death).” {Amplified Bible}

There is no record of Melchizedek’s father or mother or of any of his ancestors; no record of his birth or death.” {Good News Translation}

Without his father or mother being written in the genealogies…” {Aramaic Bible}

There is no record of his father or mother or any of his ancestors…” {New Living Translation}

Going along with how those four different translations translate Hebrews 7:3, I now want to share with you what Albert Barnes and Adam Clarke teach on that verse. (Albert Barnes and Adam Clarke wrote two of the most respected commentaries on the Bible. The pioneers quote Albert Barnes over four hundred times and they quote Adam Clarke over a thousand times.)



It was very important in the estimation of the Jews that the line of their priesthood should be carefully kept; that their genealogies should be accurately marked and preserved; and that their direct descent from Aaron should be susceptible of easy and certain proof. But the apostle says that there was no such genealogical table in regard to Melchizedek. There was no “record” made of the name either of his father, his mother, or any of his posterity…

The meaning of the word rendered “without father” here is therefore, “one the name of whose father is not recorded in the Hebrew genealogies.”

“Without mother” – The name of whose mother is unknown, or is not recorded in the Hebrew genealogical tables…

The Syriac has given the correct view of the meaning of the apostle. In that version it is, “Of whom neither the father nor mother are recorded in the genealogies.”

…The simple thought is, that the name of his ancestry does not appear in any record of those in the priestly office.

Without descent – Margin, “pedigree.” The Greek word – ἀγενεαλόγητος agenealogētos – means “without genealogy; whose descent is unknown.” He is merely mentioned himself, and nothing is said of his family or of his posterity.

“Having neither beginning of days, nor end of life.” …The obvious meaning of the phrase is, that in the “records of Moses” neither the beginning nor the close of his life is mentioned. It is not said when he was born, or when he died… No period is mentioned when he entered on his office; none when he retired from it… It “cannot” be that he meant to say that Melchizedek had “no beginning” of days literally, that is, that he was from eternity; or that he had “no end of life” literally, that is, that he would exist forever – for this would be to make him equal with God. The expression used must be interpreted according to the matter under discussion, and that was the office of Melchizedek “as a priest.” Of that no beginning is mentioned, and no end. That this is the meaning of Paul there can be no doubt.” {Albert Barnes, his commentary on Hebrews 7:3}


Albert Barnes talked about the Greek words for “without father” and “without mother.” Here’s what Strong’s concordance says for those two words:

without father: G540–From G3962; fatherless, that is, of unrecorded paternity: without father

without mother: G282–From G3384; motherless, that is, of unrecorded maternity: without mother



The object of the apostle, in thus producing the example of Melchisedec was to… answer the objections of the Jews against the legitimacy of the priesthood of Christ, taken from the stock from which he proceeded.

The objection is this: If the Messiah is to be a true priest, he must come from a legitimate stock, as all the priests under the law have regularly done; otherwise we cannot acknowledge him to be a priest: but Jesus of Nazareth has not proceeded from such a stock (verse 14); therefore we cannot acknowledge him for a priest, the antitype of Aaron.

To this objection the apostle answers, that it was not necessary for the priest to come from a particular stock, for Melchisedec was a priest of the most high God, and yet was not of the stock, either of Abraham or Aaron, but a Canaanite. It is well known that the ancient Hebrews were exceedingly scrupulous in choosing their high priest… (1) God had commanded. Lev. 21:10, that the high priest should be chosen from among their brethren, i. e. from the family of Aaron…  it was necessary that he who desired this honor should be able to prove his descent from the family of Aaron… and that they might be well assured of all this, they took the utmost care to preserve their genealogies…

He who could not support his pretensions by just genealogical evidences, was said by the Jews to be without father… In this way both Christ and Melchisedec were without father and without mother; i.e. were not descended from the original Jewish sacerdotal stock. Yet Melchisedec, who was a Canaanite, was a priest of the most high God…

This sense Suidas (“author of perhaps the most important Greek lexicon or encyclopedia”) confirms under the word Melchisedec, where, after having stated that, having reigned in Salem 113 years, he died a righteous man and a bachelor… he adds, “He is, therefore, said to be without descent or genealogy, because he was not of the seed of Abraham, but of Canaanitish origin, and sprung from an accursed seed; therefore he is without the honor of a genealogy.” And he farther adds, “That, because it would have been highly improper for him, who was the most righteous of men, to be joined in affinity to the most unrighteous of nations, he is said to be απατορα και αμητορα, without father and without mother.” This sort of phraseology was not uncommon when the genealogy of a person was unknown or obscure…

The old Syriac has given the true meaning by translating thus: -Dela abuhi vela emeh ethcathebu besharbotho. Whose father and mother are not inscribed among the genealogies.

The Arabic is nearly the same:

He had neither father nor mother; the genealogy not being reckoned…

As this passage has been obscure and troublesome to many, and I have thought it necessary to show the meaning of such phraseology by different examples, I shall, in order to give the reader full information on the subject, add a few observations from Dr. Owen.

  1. “It is said of Melchisedec in the first place that he was απατωρ, αμητωρ, without father and without mother, whereon part of the latter clause, namely, without beginning of days, doth depend. But how could a mortal man come into the world without father or mother? ‘Man that is born of a woman’ is the description of every man; what, therefore, can be intended! The next word declares he was αγενεαλογητος· ‘without descent,’ say we. But γενεαλογια is a generation, a descent, a pedigree, not absolutely, but rehearsed, described, recorded. Γενεαλογητος is he whose stock and descent is entered on record. And so, on the contrary, αγενεαλογητος is not he who has no descent, no genealogy; but he whose descent and pedigree is nowhere entered, recorded, reckoned up. Thus the apostle himself plainly expresses this word, Heb_7:6 : ὁ μη γενεαλογουμενος εξ αυτων, ‘whose descent is not counted;’ that is, reckoned up in record.” {Adam Clarke, his comments on Hebrews 7:3}


(I looked at about ten more commentaries online, and every single one of them taught the same thing on Hebrews 7:3 as Albert Barnes and Adam Clarke—not that Melchizedek had no father or mother, or had no beginning or ending, but that there was nothing recorded concerning his father or mother, and nothing recorded concerning his birth or death.)



“Christ, like Melchisedec, had no priestly descent of pedigree.” {O.R.L. Crosier, The Sanctuary}

We have no genealogy of Melchisedec, and, accordingly, Christ has no predecessor or successor in his priesthood. He sprang from a tribe which could have no priesthood in Israel.” {A.T. Jones, December 10, 1891, American Sentinel 378.9}

“The record in Genesis gives us to understand that he (Melchisedec) was a real personage; as much so as Abraham, who gave tithes to him. And he can only be said to have been without parents, etc., because there is no genealogy of him given in the records, in contrast with Aaron and his sons, whose genealogy had to be carefully preserved. That this method of expression was common among the Hebrews, we have the best authority to show. Says Dr. Clarke, “He who could not support his pretensions by just genealogical evidence, was said by the Jews to be without father. . . . This sort of phraseology was not uncommon when the genealogy of a person was unknown or obscure.

“The translation of the text from the Syriac is as follows: “Of whom neither his father nor his mother are written in the genealogies; nor the commencement of his days, nor the end of his life; but, after the likeness of the Son of God, his priesthood remaineth forever.”

“Wakefield renders it, “Of whose father, mother, pedigree, birth, and death, there is no account.”

“The Rheimish N. T. has the following note: “Without father, etc. Not that he had no father, etc., but that neither his father nor his pedigree, nor his birth, nor his death, are set down in the Scriptures.

“The commentators generally agree that what is meant is, that his name is not preserved, or the names of his parents, in the sacred genealogies.” {J.H. Waggoner, 1872, RDAC 117.5–118.4}

“The Bible does not say that Melchizedek had no parents. King James’ version reads, “Without father, without mother,” but this, in the Revised Version is correctly rendered, “without genealogy,” thus agreeing with the margin of the old version, “without pedigree.” His ancestry is not given, and in this he differs from the Levitical priests, in that their descent must be traced to Aaron. This was that which made his priesthood a type of Christ’s. Christ has no predecessor nor successor in his priestly office, and therefore he is set forth as the antitype of Melchizedek, who stands as the sole representative of his order.” {E. J. Waggoner, Signs of the Times, 8/13/1885}


All I’ll say to end this section is: All of those different translations that were shared, along with what all of those different commentators had to say, brings harmony between Hebrews 7:3 and those two quotes from Ellen White that I began this study with.


Now I want to share three quotes that address the assertion that Ellen White, supposedly, in some private meeting with the brethren, said that Melchizedek was the Holy Spirit:

Quote #1

Rule Five: We must be certain that supposed quotations are indeed written by the author to whom they are attributed.

Every public figure has had the problem of facing people who were adamant about what they “know” the speaker or author had said…

This problem plagued Ellen White from the beginning of her early ministry, and even today. Included in statements that have been incorrectly attributed to her are topics such as: (3) the Holy Spirit is, or was, Melchizedek.” {Basic Rules of Interpretation, Herbert Douglass, 16}

Quote #2

Dear friend,
Thanks for contacting us . . .   Copied further below I’ve shared an old email from Eld. William Fagal (former director of our Branch Office at Andrews Univ., now retired as assoc. director from our home office here in Maryland).  I’m confident that it, along with a statement from our Issues & Answers webpage material below [section on “Statements Mistakenly Attributed to Ellen G. White”] will put to rest all claims that Ellen White said or supported any idea that Melchizedek was, or represented, the Holy Spirit, as some have heard &/or allege.” {Larry Crews, Ellen G. White Estate}

Quote #3

In the context of Hebrews, I do not understand the Bible to be presenting Melchizedek as someone divine. Rather, the Bible merely notes that his genealogy is not recorded in Scripture and in fact that his descent must not be Levitical, since Abraham had not yet borne Isaac and his descendants. This becomes an opening, a precedent, for the High Priestly ministry of Jesus, who also did not descend from the line of Levi and Aaron. Speculations about Melchizedek’s divinity are, in my view, misplaced.

So, in light of the evidence, we have placed the following notice on our web site, in the old, “Issues & Answers” section of, in the section on “Statements Mistakenly Attributed to Ellen G. White”:

Identity of Melchizedek: Mrs. White reportedly identified Melchizedek as the Holy Spirit, according to the memory of one man. There is no support in her writings for this teaching, and the memory statement is offset by denials of others who were present when Ellen G. White is supposed to have made this statement.

I hope this will be helpful to you. Thank you for writing, and God bless!” {William Fagal, Associate Director, Ellen G. White Estate}


In closing, I just want to point out two things:

#1—I believe people are far too quick to accept a teaching before thoroughly examining it—“You should examine the truths you have been led to believe, until you know that they are without a flaw.” {Counsels on Sabbath School Work 33}

#2—It troubles me that people can accept a teaching that appears to go directly against what the Spirit of Prophecy teaches. I believe that’s extremely dangerous.

(Going along with that, I’d like to remind you of one other fact: Since the writings of Ellen White were given to us in English there has been no need for them to be translated—at least for those of us whose mother tongue is English. Such is not the case with the Bible. It did require translating. And with translating, there always comes some degree of interpreting—by human beings that are not necessarily inspired, and certainly not infallible.)

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