Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | April 23, 2006

Christ: Prophet, Priest and King

One of my favorite movies is “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.  The kids and I enjoy watching all three of the movies occasionally.  We also like to reenact the movie by playing army men.  The army men are stationed in fortresses constructed of lego blocks or Lincoln logs.  We use rubber bands to knock down the army men and the person with the most men at the end of 30 minutes or so, win’s the battle.  It makes a mess of the house, but it is extremely fun.

When I first watched the movies I noticed that three of the main characters performed roles, which were analogous to the work of Christ.  Please note I picked this up on my own and had no prior knowledge of the story.  The first character, Gandalf, is the one with words of wisdom and possesses the power to perform signs and wonders. His character is analogous to Christ’s prophetic office, which utilizes signs and wonders to confirm the Gospel message.  The second character, Frodo, is specially qualified to bear the burden of the ring that has the power to rule Middle Earth and consume anyone who seeks to possess it.  His character is analogous to Christ’s priestly office, which bears the sins of His people.  The third character, Aragorn, is king by birth, yet becomes a skilled warrior and conquering hero who eventually ascends to the throne of Gondor the most prestigous nation in Middle Earth.  His character is analogous to Christ’s Kingly office, which was His right by birth yet was not fully realized until He completed His earthly mission.  These characters are only imperfect representations in a medium outside of the Holy Scriptures.  However, like the characters of the Old Testament it takes the roles of three separate persons to compare with one role that Christ assumed during His earthly ministry.

We learn that Christ consolidates the roles of three separate Old Testament functions in one person.  In Question 31 of the Heidelberg Catechism we are introduced to this concept in the following:

Q.    Why is he called “Christ” meaning “anointed”?

A.     Because he has been ordained by God the Father and has been anointed with the Holy Spirit 1 to be our chief prophet and teacher 2 who perfectly reveals to us the secret counsel and will of God for our deliverance 3; our only high priest 4 who has set us free by the one sacrifice of his body, 5 and who continually pleads our cause with the Father; 6 and our eternal king 7 who governs us by his Word and Spirit, and who guards us and keeps us in the freedom he has won for us. 8

1.  Luke 3:21-22:  Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”  Luke 4:14-19:  …The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor, He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord (Isaiah 61:1).    Hebrews 1:9:  You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above your companions (Psalm 45:7).

2.  Acts 3:22:  Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed to everything He says to you.  (Deuteronomy 18:15).

3.  John 1:18:  No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.  John 15:15:  No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.

4.  Hebrews 7:17:  For it is attested of Him, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4). 

5.  Hebrews 9:12: …and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.  Hebrews 10:11-14:  Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.  For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

6.  Romans 8:34: …who is the one who condemns?  Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.  Hebrews 9:24:  For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;

7.  Matthew 21:5:  Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold you King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even a colt, the foal of a beast of burden (Zechariah 9:9).

8.  Matthew 28:18-20: …All authority has been given to Me in heaven and earth…John 10:28: …and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  Revelation 12:10-11:   Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night…

Jesus Christ being the very Word of God incarnate is the Prophet Par excellence.  In Him we find the full expression of God’s special revelation to human kind.  Now that the canon of Scripture has been completed by the Apostles, who were commissioned by Christ to proclaim His Gospel, we need not seek or anticipate any further revelation.  We have the full revelation that is necessary for our salvation in the Word of God.  Concerning this subject John Calvin states the following:

This, however, remains certain: the perfect doctrine he has brought has made and end to all prophecies.  All those, then, who, not content with the gospel, patch it with something extraneous to it, detract from Christ’s authority.  (Institutes II.XV.2)

The words of John the Baptist provide an announcement concerning Christ’s priestly office, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.”  In this statement and in the Scriptures noted above, we see that Christ is our Great High Priest.  He is the perfect mediator between God and men and abolishes our need to have any other priest represent us before God.  Christ took care of our sin problem once for all.  Those who seek to reinstate a human mediatoral priesthood do nothing but diminish the value of Christ’s work of atonement.  Any priest besides Christ, however will be insufficient and irrelevent now that Christ has completed the work necessary to makes us right with God.  I like how RC Sproul puts it in the following comment contrasting the Old Covenant system with the New: 

Jesus was also the object of his priestly work.  The offering he gave was not a bull or a goat, but Himself, the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament had no intrinsic value to effect atonement.  They were but shadows or symbols representing the ultimate sacrifice that would be made by Christ.  His blood and his blood alone, not the blood of bulls and goats, can satisfy the demands of God’s justice.  His was the perfect sacrifice, the sacrifice of the lamb without blemish.  In his sinlessness Jesus met the qualifications required by God for propitiation.  Grace Unknown, p 94.

Finally, we must uderstand that Christ's Kingly office has already begun.  It is not awaiting His return to earth.  In Revelation 1:5 it states that He is ruler of the kings of the earth.  That means that Christ is ruling over the Mullahs in Iran, the dictatorships in North Korea, China and all national leaders. His dominion extends into every square inch of the known universe.  Thus, we should not be distressed when world events appear to worsen.  Our Lord rules this world and He is in control of all things that come to pass. 

This Lord's Day consider who Christ is and what He has done.  We've only scratched the surface on this topic, which is so rich with content.  As we proceed in this series we will have more opportunities to address these vocations in more depth. 

Until next time grace and peace be with you.

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Responses

  1. Your statement, “His dominion extends into every square inch”, is disputed, especially at WTSCAL. He reigns over everything but his realm is does not extend to every square inch. Only when the theocracy is restored (new heaven and new earth) will the two, reign and realm, coincide. Currently, there are two kingdoms (realms) in operation – and have been since the fall.

    This discussion has a lot to say about post-millenialism, about theonomy, about Christ and culture, about whether the church should be transformationalist or not.

  2. How do you explain Revelation 1:5 then? Or Matthew 28:18-20?

  3. Reign not realm. The church, as Church, is not to be encroaching on the state or the culture.

    Check this WTSCAL grad’s blog:

    http://deregnisduobus.blogspot.com/

    His whole theme is the two-kingdom paradigm.

  4. Here is a snippet from one of Stellman’s earlier posts on this topic:

    Consider a couple New Testament passages. First, Rom. 13:1-7. Here we read that all people, including believers, are to subject themselves to the government, even if it is evil and corrupt (which it was when Paul wrote this). The reason for this submission is that the civil magistrate bears the sword as a minister of God (v. 4). Therefore we are to render to Caesar his due: taxes, revenue, honor, and respect (v. 8).

    Secondly, look at I Pet. 2:11-17. Describing our conduct “among the Gentiles” (or, out in the world), the apostle tells us to be subject to “every human institution” (vv. 12, 13). The reason we are to live this way is that we, like the Jews during their Babylonian captivity who received the same instruction, are “sojourners and exiles” in this age (v. 11). Our goal, like our Old Testament counterparts, is to pray for and seek the prosperity of our leaders and land, “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (I Tim. 2:2; cf. Jer. 29:4-7).

    What’s conspicuous (and perhaps disappointing) by its absense is the call to redeem the culture and transform it into the kingdom of Christ. But the reason this call is absent from the biblical narrative (with the exception of typological, theocratic contexts like Israel in the holy land) is that, in God’s economy, the civil and spiritual kingdoms are distinct. And further, this is how God has ordained life to be, at least in this present age.

    Or to return to what I mentioned above, there is a category that is properly called “profane,” and the civil matters that fall into this category (politics, art, dentistry) are just that, profane. They are not unholy, but non-holy. They are not sacred, but secular. They are not cultic, but cultural. In a word, these things are neither demonic nor divine, but are simply common grace endeavors that were never intended to be forcefully transferred or transformed from one category to the other.

  5. I listened to a series that Dr. Dennis Johnson conducted on his book triumph of the lamb: http://64.149.98.4/audio.html?sermonsite_action=view_sermon&sermonsite_sermonid=10204

    Between him and listening to the White Horse Inn, my post-millenialism bent has definetly softened. Eschatology is neat to speculate about, however I want to leave my options open.

    I agree the Church and the state are vocationally different. But I don’t understand how this precludes Christ from being ruler of the kings of the earth (Rev 1:5). The civil governments are ministers of God that have delegated authority on earth. However, He is still ruling over these civil governments, right (Proverbs 21:1)?

  6. […] people.  We approach this task with fear and trembling, especially in light of the author’s own inadequacies in interpreting how this office should be understood biblically until relatively recently.  As we […]

  7. After two years (minus two weeks) I answer my own question in the pingback link above.


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