Christ as Prophet
Christ as Priest
What is a priest?
A priest was a person who was appointed to the office of priest in Israel and who had the responsibility of carrying out the religious services of the temple. Edersheim says that the fundamental idea behind the work of the priest was reconciliation and mediation. source Some have compared the prophet to a priest by noting that
- the prophet received a word from God and delivered it to the people;
- the priest took the gifts of the people and offered them up to God.
What were these responsibilities?
The priest’s responsibilities were primarily that of sacrifice and of intercession.
How did a person become a priest?
A priest had to be from the tribe of Levi. (Numbers 18:1-7; Hebrews 7:13-14) After the exile, however, the number priests was so low that they were assisted by other Levites. source
In what sense was Jesus a priest?
Because He performed and continues to perform both the tasks of the priests, i.e. sacrifice and intercession.
Where does Scripture teach that Jesus performed the duty of sacrifice?
Most of our information about Jesus as priest comes from the letter to the Hebrews.
- In chapter 2, the author teaches us that Jesus had to become human so that He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest and thus make propitiation for our sin. (Hebrews 2:17)
- In chapter 5, he teaches us that God the Father appointed Jesus to be our high priest. No one can become a priest simply because he desires the office. (Hebrews 5:4) He must be called and appointed by God to the office. Now Jesus was called by God as is clear from Psalm 2:7 and Psalm 110:4.
- In chapter 7, the author teaches us that every priest offers sacrifices on behalf of the people. Jesus also brought a sacrifice; namely His own body. (Hebrews 7:27)
What are we taught in Hebrews 5?
This chapter teaches us that
Christ as King
What is the kingdom of God?
The kingdom of God was a concept at the very center of Jesus’ preaching. He announced at the beginning of His ministry, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
What did He mean by the kingdom of God?
Jesus did not mean to announce that He had now established a new territory over which He was going to rule as we might first think from the term “kingdom.” Jesus’ kingdom was not a domain won by conquest or purchased with money. In fact, Jesus said that His kingdom did not come in a visible way or with visible signs.
Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; (Luke 17:20)
If Jesus’ kingdom was not visible, then what does it mean to say that it is “at hand” or that it has come?
Jesus’ kingdom comes when people submit to God’s rule and bow before Him as their king. This is why it is invisible. It is something that takes place deep in the heart of a man or woman and is not something that can be seen with the human eye.
This implies that no one before the coming of Jesus submitted to God’s rule.
True, but this term has a specific meaning in the Bible. Certainly, in the Old Testament, people did submit to God and follow Him. In this sense, the kingdom of God has always been. The term “kingdom of God”, however, is used in the Bible to refer specifically to Jesus’ mission to this earth to save the people whom God had given Him.
Where do we read of Jesus’ mission?
The entire Old Testament is bound together by the idea that God’s kingdom is being reestablished on earth after it had fallen into the hands of Satan. (Genesis 3:15) God the Father and God the Son had covenanted (Luke 22:29) in eternity past (Titus 1:2) to save a people. (John 6:37-40) Jesus is the One who has come to earth put this plan into execution. This was His mediatorial mission which was finished on the cross (John 19:30), vindicated by His resurrection (Acts 2:32; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30), and celebrated at His ascension into heaven and sitting at His Father’s right hand. (Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:34) Although the mission was finished and the victory won, not all His enemies are fully subjugated. Christ sits at the right hand of the Father until the last enemy is defeated. (Psalm 110:1) This means that some rulers, authorities, and powers (1 Corinthians 15:24) are still active and not yet humbled under His feet. The last enemy Christ will destroy is death itself. (1 Corinthians 15:26) When this last enemy is subjugated, Christ will return the kingdom to the Father, and God will be all and in all. (1 Corinthians 15:27-28) Then, the serpent’s head will be crushed. (Genesis 3:15)
So the term “kingdom of God” refers to all what Jesus did from His incarnation to His second coming?
Yes, this is correct. Some theologians make a helpful distinction between Jesus’ kingdom of power, His kingdom of grace, and His kingdom of glory.
What is the meaning of these different terms?
- The kingdom of Christ’s grace is the same as what we above called the “kingdom of God.” It refers to Jesus’ mission to this earth to save the people whom God had given Him.
- The kingdom of power is Christ’s universal reign over the entire earth which does not “come” or “go.” It has always existed and always will. It is synonymous with what we call God’s providence.
- The kingdom of Christ’s glory is His kingdom brought to perfection on a new heaven and a new earth. Then every enemy will be subdued, and God will be all in all.
Does the kingdom of God mean something different than the church?
These terms are closely related but with one key difference. The kingdom of God is invisible while the church is visible. Vos writes:
if the church represents an advance beyond the internal, invisible kingdom, which had hitherto figured so largely in our Lord’s teaching, the advance must be sought in something else than the mere fact of its being a body of disciples. The advance lies in two points. In the first place, the body of disciples previously existing must now take the place of the Old Testament church and therefore receive some form of external organization. This the kingdom had not hitherto possessed. It had been internal and invisible not merely in its essence, but to this essence there had been lacking the outward embodiment. Jesus now in speaking of the house and the keys of the house, of binding and loosing on earth, and of church discipline, makes provision for this. In the second place, our Lord gives to understand that the new stage upon which his Messiahship is now about to enter, will bring to the kingdom a new influx of supernatural power and thus make out of it, not only externally but also internally, that new thing which he calls His church. source
What other opinions exist on this point?
Denney writes that the difference between the kingdom and the church is almost negligible.
What, then, you may ask, is the distinction between the two [church & kingdom of God]? I am not confident that in principle there is any. The explanation of their use in the New Testament is to be sought, I imagine, rather in historical than in dogmatic considerations. When Jesus appeared among the Jews, preaching the glad tidings of the Kingdom, He proclaimed the grace of God the Father in a form which made it accessible to Jewish minds. They had already the idea that God was their King, and that they themselves were, or were to be, citizens in the divine kingdom. True, this idea was very far from corresponding to the idea which Christ brought; it was narrow, carnal, confused; the child of bigotry and pride as much as of divine inspiration; and a great part of our Lord’s teaching consisted in purifying it from base elements and raising it to the height of the truth. Nevertheless, the idea was there; it was a beginning of interest on which He could count; a point of attachment in their minds to which He could fasten what He wished to say. But when the gospel passed out of the Jewish circle altogether, what was the value of this form for the expression of it? In all probability it was very slight. In the synagogues it would still be possible to speak of the Kingdom of God, and hope to be understood; but to the mass of Gentile people in Asia, in Macedonia, in Greece, in Italy, it would convey nothing at all. Hence the apostles practically dropped it, and represented the social side of Christianity in the ecclesia or church. … They did not lapse from His [Jesus] idea of the Kingdom, and discard it for an inferior one, because they could not carry all its contents; they practically exchanged it for another idea, when they found that through another the grace of God could find easier access into the minds of men. source
The kingdom is the Church viewed from above; the Church is the kingdom seen from below. In the kingdom the society is conceived through its creative and informing will; in the Church the will is conceived through the created and informed society. In the kingdom the king is emphasized; in the Church the citizens: in the one case we see man as he ought to be before God — poor in spirit, seeking His righteousness, doing His will, humble, teachable, without conventional goodness, good only in spirit and in truth; in the other case we see man as he ought to be for God in society — possessed of social virtues, exercising all the beneficences and charities that redeem and adorn life as man lives it with man. Hence Jesus preaches the kingdom — as King declares Himself, proclaims the kingdom constituted by the presence of the King; but the Apostles, by founding Churches, edify the Church, call men to become saints, and to enter into the society of the saved. source
How does the kingdom of God become visible to us?
Because those who have submitted to God’s rule gather together and worship their Savior in a visible society. In this gathering, they become visible. This visible gathering is called “a church” in the Bible.
Where does the Bible teach this?
We can see this in the very term “church” or ecclesia or εκκλησια. This term was not a word that Christians invented. This word was commonly used in the Greco-Roman world for a gathering of any kind. This can be seen even in the Bible itself.
Where does the Bible use the word ecclesia or εκκλησια but not referring to Christians?
Recall that when Paul was in Ephesus, he provoked a riot because his preaching threatened the trade of the silversmiths. (Acts 19:25f) The mob which formed is called an ecclesia.
Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly [ecclesia] was in confusion; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together. … But if ye seek anything about other matters, it shall be settled in the regular assembly [ecclesia]. … And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly [ecclesia]. (Acts 19:32, 39, 41)
What can we learn from this usage of the word ecclesia?
That the central idea behind the word ecclesia is a gathering of some kind. In Acts 19:32, the gathering is an unruly mob; in Acts 19:39, the gathering is an orderly political body. In either usage, however, the word is used to refer to some kind of gathering. This is likely why the apostles chose to use this word to define the followers of Christ. Where as the kingdom of God is something invisible, the church is something visible and constitutes a gathering of Christian believers. The apostles often chose words which were already existence in the society of their time and used them to articulate Christian concepts; see Robertson for a long list of such words. source
Who are members of the church?
The members of the church are those who are citizens, we might say, of the kingdom of God. They are those who have submitted to the Great King, are living under His protection, and are obeying His laws.
Where can we find Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom of God?
We find this in His speeches, His parables, and His miracles.
What do we learn about the kingdom of God from Jesus’ miracles?
Jesus’ miracles are signs marking the coming of the kingdom of God.