Chapter 16: The Offices of Christ

The Bible ascribes a threefold office to Christ, speaking of Him as Prophet, Priest, and King.

1. The Prophetic Office. The Old Testament predicted the coming of Christ as a prophet. (Deuteronomy 18:15; cf Acts 3:23  He speaks of Himself as a prophet in Luke 13:33, claims to bring a message from the Father (John 8:26-28; 12:49, 50; 14:10, 24), foretells future things (Matthew 24:3-35; Luke 19:41-44), and speaks with singular authority. (Matthew 7:29)  It is no wonder, therefore, that the people recognized Him as a prophet. (Matthew 21:11, 46; Luke 7:16; 24:19; John 6:14; 7:40; 9:17).  A prophet is one who receives divine revelations in dreams, visions, or verbal communications; and passes these on to the people either orally or visibly in prophetic actions. (Exodus 7:1; Deuteronomy 18:18; Numbers 12:6-8; Isaiah 6; Jeremiah 1:4-10; Ezekiel 3:1-4, 17)  His work may pertain to the past, the present, or the future. One of his important tasks was to interpret the moral and spiritual aspects of the law for the people. Christ functioned as prophet already in the Old Testament. (1 Peter 1:11; 3:18-20)  He did it while He was on earth, and continued it by the operation of the Holy Spirit and through the apostles after the ascension (John 14:26; 16:12-14; Acts 1:1)  And even now his prophetic ministry continues through the ministry of the Word and the spiritual illumination of believers. This is the only function of Christ which is recognized in modern liberal theology.

2. The Priestly Office. The Old Testament also predicted and prefigured the priesthood of the coming Redeemer, Psalms 110:4; Zechariah 6:18; Isaiah 53. In the New Testament there is only a single book in which He is called priest, namely, Hebrews, but there the name is found repeatedly. (Hebrews 3:1; 4:14; 5:5; 6:20; 7:26; 8:1)  However, other books refer to His priestly work. (Mark 10:45; John 1:29; Romans 3:24, 25; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 John 2:2; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18)  While a prophet represented God among the people, a priest represented the people before God. Both were teachers, but while the former taught the moral, the latter taught the ceremonial law. Moreover, the priests had the special privilege of approach to God, and of speaking and acting in behalf of the people. Hebrews 5:1-3 teaches us that a priest is taken from among men to be their representative, is appointed by God, is active before God in the interests of men, and offers gifts and sacrifices for sins. He also makes intercession for the people.

The priestly work of Christ was, first of all, to bring a sacrifice for sin. The Old Testament sacrifices were types pointing forward to the great sacrifice of Christ. (Hebrews 9:23, 24; 10:1, 13:11, 12)  Hence Christ is also called “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29), and “our passover.” (1 Corinthians 5:7) The New Testament speaks very clearly of the priestly work of Christ in numerous passages: Mark 10:45; John 1:29; Romans 3:24, 25; 5:6-8; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 15:3; Gal. 1:4; Ephesians 5:2; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; 1 John 2:2; 4:10; Rev. 5:12. The references are most frequent in the Epistle to the Hebrews. (Hebrews 5:1-10; 7:1-28; 9:11-15, 24-28; 10:11-14, 19-22; 12:24; 13:12)

Besides bringing the great sacrifice for sins, Christ as priest also makes intercession for His people. He is called our parakletos by implication in John 14:16, and explicitly in 1 John 2:2. The term means ‘one who is called in to help, an advocate, one who pleads the cause of another.’ The New Testament refers to Christ as our intercessor in Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25; 9:24; 1 John 2:1. His intercessory work is based on His sacrifice, and is not limited, as is sometimes thought, to intercessory prayer. He presents His sacrifice to God, on the ground of it claims all spiritual blessings for His people, defends them against the charges of Satan, the law, and conscience, secures forgiveness for everything justly charged against them, and sanctifies their worship and service through the operation of the Holy Spirit. This intercessory work is limited in character; it has reference only to the elect, but includes all the elect, whether they are already believers or still live in unbelief. (John 17:9, 20)

3. The Kingly Office. As Son of God Christ naturally shares in the universal dominion of God. In distinction from this we speak of a kingship that was conferred on Him as Mediator This kingship is twofold, namely, His spiritual kingship over the Church, and His kingship over the universe.

a. His spiritual kingship. The Bible speaks of this in many places. (Psalms 2:6; 132:11; Isaiah 9:6, 7; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 6:13; Luke 1:33; 19:38; John 18:36, 37; Acts 2:30-36)  The kingship of Christ is His royal rule over His people. It is called spiritual, because it relates to a spiritual realm, is established in the hearts and lives of believers, has a spiritual end in view, the salvation of sinners, and is administered by spiritual means, the Word and the Spirit. It is exercised largely in the gathering, the government, the protection, and the perfection of the Church. This kingship as well as the realm over which it extends is called in the New Testament “the kingdom of God” or “the kingdom of heaven.” In the strict sense of the word only believers, members of the invisible Church, are citizens of the kingdom. But the term ‘kingdom of God’ is sometimes used in a broader sense, as including all who live under the proclamation of the gospel, all who have a place in the visible Church. (Matthew 13:24-30, 47-50)  This kingdom of God is on the one hand a present, spiritual reality in the hearts and lives of men (Matthew 12:28; Luke 17:21; Colossians 1:13); but on the other hand a future hope, which will not be realized until the return of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 7:21; Luke 22:29; 1 Corinthians 15:50; 2 Timothy 4:18; 2 Peter 1:11)  The future kingdom will be essentially the same as the present, namely, the rule of God established and acknowledged in the hearts of men. It will differ, however, in that it will be visible and perfect. Some are of the opinion that this kingship of Christ will cease at His return, but the Bible would seem to teach explicitly that it will endure forever. (Psalms 45:6; 72:17; 39:36; 37; Isaiah 9:6; Daniel 2:44; 2 Samuel 7:13, 16; Luke 1:33; 2 Peter 1:11)

b. His universal kingship. After the resurrection Christ said to His disciples: “All authority hath been given unto Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18) The same truth is taught in 1 Corinthians 15:27 and Ephesians 1:20-22. This kingship should not be confused with the original kingship of Christ as the Son of God, though it pertains to the same realm. It is the kingship of the universe entrusted to Christ as Mediator in behalf of His Church. As Mediator He now guides the destiny of individuals and nations, controls the life of the world and makes it subservient to His redemptive purpose, and protects His Church against the dangers to which it is exposed in the world. This kingship will last until the victory over the enemies of the kingdom of God is complete. When the end is accomplished, it will be returned to the Father. (1 Corinthians 15:24-28)


To memorize:

Passages pointing to:

a. Christ as prophet:

  • I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. (Deuteronomy 18:18)
  • Fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and, “God has visited His people!” (Luke 7:16)

b. Christ as priest:

  • The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” (Psalm 110:4)
  • Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; (Hebrews 3:1)
  • Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. (Hebrews 4:14)

c. His characteristics as priest:

  • Hebrews 5:1, 5. “For every high priest, being taken from among men, is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins… So Christ also glorified not Himself to be made a high priest, but He that spake unto Him, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee.”

d. His sacrificial work:

  • But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being [fell] upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
  • “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
  • The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)
  • and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. (1 Peter 2:24)
  • and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

e. His intercessory work:

  • 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. (Romans 8:34)
  • Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)
  • My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; (1 John 2:1)

f. Christ as King of Zion:

  • “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.” (Psalm 2:6)
  • There will be no end to the increase of [His] government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:7)
  • “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” (Luke 1:32-33)

g. Christ as king of the universe:

  • And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. (Matthew 28:18)
  • And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, (Ephesians 1:22)
  • For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. (1 Corinthians 15:25)


For Further Study:

a. What do the following passages tell us respecting the nature of the prophetic work?

  • Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I make you [as] God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. (Exodus 7:1)
  • ‘I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. (Deuteronomy 18:18)
  • “Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me. (Ezekiel 3:17)

b. What Old Testament types of Christ are indicated in the following passages:

  • The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)
  • Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are [in fact] unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. (1 Corinthians 5:7)
  • Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; (Hebrews 3:1)
  • Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. (Hebrews 4:14)
  • For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices; so it is necessary that this [high priest] also have something to offer. (4) Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; (5) who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned [by God] when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “SEE,” He says, “THAT YOU MAKE all things ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN WHICH WAS SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN.” (Hebrews 8:3-5)
  • For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, (14) how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:13-14)
  • For the Law, since it has [only] a shadow of the good things to come [and] not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. (2) Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? (3) But in those [sacrifices] there is a reminder of sins year by year. (4) For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (5) Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, “SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME; (6) IN WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND [sacrifices] FOR SIN YOU HAVE TAKEN NO PLEASURE. (7) “THEN I SAID, ‘BEHOLD, I HAVE COME (IN THE SCROLL OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME) TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD.'” (8) After saying above, “SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS AND WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND [sacrifices] FOR SIN YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, NOR HAVE YOU TAKEN PLEASURE [in them]” (which are offered according to the Law), (9) then He said, “BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second. (10) By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (11) Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; (12) but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, (13) waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. (14) For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:1-14)
  • For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest [as an offering] for sin, are burned outside the camp. (12) Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. (Hebrews 13:11-12)

c. What do the following passages teach us respecting the kingdom of God?

  • Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” … (5) Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:3, 5)
  • Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” (37) Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say [correctly] that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18:36-37)
  • …for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)
  • For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power. (1 Corinthians 4:20)


Questions for Review:

  1. What threefold office has Christ?
  2. What is a prophet, and what proof is there that Christ is a prophet?
  3. How did Christ function as prophet in various periods of history?
  4. What is a priest in distinction from a prophet? How did their teaching differ?
  5. What Scriptural proof is there for the priestly character of Christ?
  6. What are the characteristics of a priest?
  7. What was the nature of Christ’s sacrificial work? How was it foreshadowed in the Old Testaments?
  8. In what does the work of Christ as intercessor consist?
  9. For whom does Christ intercede?
  10. What is the spiritual kingship of Christ, and over what realm does it extend?
  11. How is the present kingdom of Christ related to His future kingdom?
  12. How long will His spiritual kingship lasts?
  13. What is the nature and purpose of His universal kingdoms?
  14. How long will this last?
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