In Hebrews 7, the author has already noted, verse 3, that Melchisedec is mentioned in Genesis with no 'beginning of days' and is αφωμοιωμενον, 'likened to' the Son of God (Psalm 2 and Psalm 110).

Thus, in the eyes of the author, the Son of God has no beginning of days, which cannot refer to his human existence for we could know to the exact date (had we sufficient historic record) the day when the angelic host announced the birth of the babe in Bethlehem, to the shepherds in the fields.

'No beginning of days' must refer to his Divine existence, irrespective of incarnation.

Then the author refers again, in verse 14, to 'our Lord' who is 'sprang out of Judah' that he is arisen, verse 15, 'after the similitude', όμοιοτηϛ, of Melchisedec, 'not after the law of a carnal commandment but after the power of an endless life', verse 16.

Again, the author draws attention to the 'likeness' of Melchisedec and to the reality of the Son of God, his life being 'endless'.

The word here is ακαταλυτοσ which Liddell & Scott say means 'indissoluble' or 'indestructible'; Thayer completely agreeing; and BDAG giving 'indestructible'. But the sources I have accessed have very little to say, other than assigning a bare meaning.

This reference is clearly, both from the first mention of 'beginning of days' (being not a matter of the 'days of his flesh') and from the second mention of the 'similitude' of Melchisedec, not to the earthly life of Jesus of Nazareth for Jesus most certainly died, giving up his life voluntarily, no man taking it from him, John 10:18.

Therefore, since Jesus' human life was so given up, it being not 'indestructible' or 'indissoluble', this 'endless' life must refer to the Divine Life of the Son of God.

The word ακαταλυτοσ appears to me to have three components.

  • α : the Greek negative
  • κατα : a downward force
  • λυτοσ : a component which I assume to be derived from λυο

Some repeatedly give 'loose' for λυο which may be true in some contexts but which cannot be true of the wide spectrum of the word which appears in circumstances when :

  • someone takes someone else's shoes off
  • someone dismisses a multitude or a synagogue gathering
  • someone takes the colt of an ass belonging to someone else
  • someone breaks the sabbath.

My understanding of the broad spectrum of meaning is 'dispossess'. Yes, sometimes that involves a loosing but it is not the foundational concept.

One 'dispossesses' the person of his shoes, 'dispossesses' oneself of the attentive hearers, 'dispossesses' the owner of their property, or behaves as though the commandment does not possess oneself.

This distinction of meaning becomes important in the context of the redemption of Israel, lutrosis, and the redemption of the sons of God, apolutrosis, through the means of redemption, lutron, the necessity of the lawful dispossession of owned property being so crucial to the accomplishment of righteous redemption.

Therefore my understanding of ακαταλυτοσ is that it is 'not the downward force of dispossession', that is to say it is the negating of the power of that which is above to dispossess.

Thus, said of 'life' it conveys, to me, the idea that nothing from above can dispossess one of that life.

Or, if one accepts the oft-asserted term 'loose' then one will see that the word is the negating of a downward loosing.

My question is, am I correct to so judge of the word or is there any other information available, from authoritative sources, which could cast more light on the meaning of this word ακαταλυτοσ (which is used but once in scripture) about which the most available of authorities have but little to say ?

  • The huge presumption that 'made like the son of God' refers to 'having no beginning' is astounding for someone well versed in scripture. Though a very good example of how to bias a reading for one's own purposes. At least you have correctly noted the beginning of Jesus.
    – Steve
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 22:29

3 Answers 3


At the outset, the point that cannot be ignored by anybody reading the scriptures about Jesus, is that his physical body died, requiring resurrection on the third day. So, whatever that verse in Hebrews 7:16 means, it cannot be referring to his physical body. God certainly did not allow Christ’s corpse “to see decay” as the prophet foretold in Psalm 16:10 cf Acts 2:27, but in no sense can a body that becomes a corpse be said to have immortality i.e., deathlessness!

There is no dispute about the Greek text literally reading: “who not according to law of commandment fleshly he has become but according to power of life indissoluble”. Appendix 151 II,D of The Companion Bible (Bullinger) simply states, “akataloutos, (indissoluble) occurs once, and is rendered “endless” in Heb. 7.16.”

The dispute hinges on the reference to Melchizedek “being fatherless, motherless, without genealogy, having neither a beginning of days nor an end of life, but having been made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually” (Heb. 7:3 KIT). This is because many who say the Son of God DID have a beginning of days (before becoming the man, Jesus Christ), was only granted immortality after his resurrection on earth. They claim that from that point onward, Christ entered into immortality, possessing “an indestructible life” (1 Tim. 6:15-16 & Heb. 7:15-17).

I gleaned this from page 1197, (Incorruption) Insight into the Scriptures, Vol. 1 (W.B.&T.Soc. 1988). This publication does not support belief in the eternal Sonship of the Word of God, Christ. But those who do believe in the eternal Son see Heb. 7:16 as you do. That publication I allude to therefore has to explain in what ‘sense’ Jesus can be said to be “the one alone having immortality” as per 1 Tim. 6:15-16. On page 1189 (Immortality) it agrees with that scriptural statement about Christ but goes on to explain why they conclude that “The glorified Jesus, God’s appointed High Priest, after the order of Melchizedek, however, has “an indestructible life.”-Heb 7:15-17, 23-25. It then goes on to say what you say about the Greek term akata’lytos, except it then says, “The word is a compound of the negative prefix ‘a’ joined to other words relating to a “loosening down”…”

Of note is the switch from Heb. 7:3 saying Melchizedek had been made like the Son of God, to the inference that the Son of God was made like Melchizedek. It’s the other way around, but those who deny the eternal Sonship of Christ, especially those who even deny his pre-human existence, have to put Melchizedek before Jesus, the Son of God. No, the Son of God existed from before creation, and Melchizedek’s priestly role was based on that of the Christ, “the one alone having immortality” (1 Tim. 6:15-16).

Nothing from above (heaven) can or ever did dispossess the Son of God of life, but when the Word of God became flesh as the man, Jesus, he willingly handed over his body to death, no man taking it from him, John 10:18. There was no ‘loosening’ from above! There was releasing of the life in his body on earth below, by Jesus himself, in order to conquer death, for such is the divine power of the Son of God, who holds the keys of death and hades (Rev. 1:18). Jesus chose the moment to give up his spirit, handing it over to the Father in heaven (Luke 23:46).

Conclusion: So, yes, I would say that you are correct to so judge of the word, ακαταλυτοσ, “that it is 'not the downward force of dispossession',” and that “this 'endless' life must refer to the Divine Life of the Son of God.”


Indeed, according to "The Exhaustive Concordance to the Greek New Testament" by J R Kohlenberger III, et al, the etymology of ἀκατάλυτος is exactly as in the OP.

The meaning of this word, according to BDAG, must be adduced from numerous extra-biblical references since it is a hapex lemomenon. BDAG gives this difinition:

pertaining to being indestructible, endless

This is the meaning given by: NIV, NLV, ESV, BSB, BLB, NASB, CSB, HCSB, Aramaic Bible, ISV, NET, Weymouth, etc. Only the KJV and those derived from (NKJV, ERV, ASV, WEB, etc) have "endless".

In Heb 7 we find the enigmatic Melchizedek used as a type (or foreshadowing) of Christ because his ancestry and progeny is unknown. However, he was still mortal and this is the basis of the contrast in Heb 7 between all earthly priests and Jesus who is immortal.

Thus, the author of Hebrews appears to be saying, on the basis of the contrasts between mortals and the immortal Jesus that Jesus is a "better" priest precisely because His life is "indestructible".

However, I appreciate the subtlety of the OP's astute observation, that Jesus still "died" on the cross. This is inescapably true. But this makes Jesus' life all the more remarkable because He was both:

  • the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29) and our Passover lamb (1 Cor 5:7, 1 Cor 1:19) who had to die, AND
  • the One who raised Himself from the grave (John 2:19, 10:18), thus providing proof of His indestructible life.

Thus, Paul eulogizes the life and resurrection of Jesus in 1 Cor 15:3-7, 12-20 as the basis of all other resurrections. John does the same when he says:

  • John 1:4 - In him was life (see also John 6:35-51, 11;25, 14:6)
  • 1 John 5:11, 12 - And this is that testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Thus, Jesus' "life" is indestructible for more than one reason:

  • Jesus is our Lord and God (John 20:28) and our God and Savior (Titus 2:13, 2 Peter 1:1, Isa 45:15, 21) and thus is innately immortal and eternal
  • Jesus is seated in the throne of heaven as king and thus beyond the reach of any earthly power to cause Him harm.

No wonder that the author of Hebrews says that the new covenant is founded on "better promises" (Heb 7:22, 8:6) because it is founded, unlike the Levitical system, on divine promises, made by the eternal God with everlasting, indestructible life.

  • @NigelJ - that is the point - • Rom 6:4, Gal 1:1, Eph 1:17-20 say that the Father raised Jesus. • Rom 1:4 & 8:11, 1 Peter 3:18 say that the Holy Spirit raised Jesus. • John 2:19-21 and 10:17, 18 both say that Jesus resurrected Himself. Thus, it appears that all three members of the Godhead acted in concert to raise Jesus!
    – Dottard
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 21:42
  • 1
    Very edifying to read through those eight references. Much appreciated. Agreed and up-voted. I learn a little more each day.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 22:19

This is nothing close to a full answer but I found the following at Abirim Publications:

Together with the preposition of negation α (a), meaning not: the adjective ακαταλυτος (akatalutos), meaning both indestructible and, significantly, without ability to repose from: un-relaxable. This word is used only once, to describe a quality of Christ's life (Hebrews 7:16) but obviously reflects what we know about the deity, namely that he never loses concentration or relaxes his concern. Significantly, there was no room for Jesus in the "relaxery". The noun καταλυμα (kataluma), denoting a "relaxery"; a place to take a load off: an inn or such haunt of repose. Quite significantly, there was famously no room for Jesus in the "relaxery" (Luke 2:7), yet his mission-defining Last Supper was held in just such a place (Mark 14:14, Luke 22:11)

The "relaxery" or tavern/inn is that place of repose where one may take a load off or depart temporarily from the troubles or duties of the day. No room was found for Jesus at the "relaxery" (Luke 2:7). Thus perhaps this one, after the similitude of Melchisedec, does not become (high priest) by means of fleshly injunctions (which have definitive starts and ends) or any provision within the world, but by means of an intrinsic ability of un-relaxable vitality which, like Melchisedec, is without beginning and end.

My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.

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