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§ 3. The Threefold Office of Christ.

It has long been customary with theologians to exhibit the mediatorial work of Christ under the heads of his prophetic, sacerdotal, and kingly offices. To this division and classification it has been objected by some that these offices are not distinct, as it was the duty of the priests as well as of the prophets to teach; by others, that time sacerdotal office of Christ was identical with the prophetic, that his redemption was effected by teaching. This method, however, has not only the sanction of established usage and obvious convenience, but it is of substantive importance, and has a firm Scriptural basis. (1.) In the Old Testament the several offices were distinct. The prophet, as such, was not a priest; and the King was neither priest nor prophet. Two of these offices were at times united in the same person under the theocracy, as Moses was both priest and prophet, and David prophet and king. Nevertheless the offices were distinct. (2.) The Messiah, during the 460theocracy and in the use of language as then understood, was predicted as prophet, priest, and king. Moses, speaking of Christ, said, “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me.” It was abundantly taught that the coming deliverer was to discharge all the duties of a prophet as a revealer of the will of God. He was to be the great teacher of righteousness; a light to lighten the Gentiles as well as the glory of his people Israel. No less clearly and frequently was it declared that He should be a priest. “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedec.” He was to be a priest upon his throne. (Zechariah vi. 13.) He was to bear the sins of the people, and make intercession for transgressors. His royal office is rendered so prominent in the Messianic prophecies that the Jews looked for Him only as a king. He was to reign over all nations. Of his kingdom there was to be no end. He was to be the Lord of lords and the King of kings. (3.) In the New Testament the Redeemer, in assuming the office of the promised Messiah, presented Him to the people as their prophet, priest, and king and those who received Him at all received Him in all these offices. He applied to Himself all the prophecies relating to the Messiah. He referred to Moses as predicting the Messiah as a prophet; to David, as setting Him forth as a priest, and to Daniel’s prophecies of the kingdom which He came to establish. The Apostles received Him as the teacher sent from God to reveal the plan of salvation and to unfold the future destiny of the Church. In the first chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews it is said, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.” In that Epistle the priesthood of Christ is elaborately set forth, and its superiority in every respect to the priesthood of the old economy strenuously insisted upon. In like manner the New Testament is full of instruction concerning the grounds, the nature, the extent, and the duration of his kingdom. He is constantly designated as Lord, as our absolute proprietor and sovereign. Nothing, therefore, can be plainer than that as the Old Testament prophets predicted that the Messiah should be a prophet, priest, and king, so the New Testament writers represent the Lord Jesus as sustaining all these offices. (4.) That this is not a merely figurative representation is plain from the fact that Christ exercised all the functions of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king. He was not simply so called, but the work which He actually performed included in perfection all that 461the ancient prophets, priests, and kings performed in a lower sphere and as an adumbration of Christ’s more perfect work. (5.) We as fallen men, ignorant, guilty, polluted, and helpless, need a Saviour who is a prophet to instruct us; a priest to atone and to make intercession for us; and a king to rule over and protect us. And the salvation which we receive at his hands includes all that a prophet, priest, and king in the highest sense of those terms can do. We are enlightened in the knowledge of the truth; we are reconciled unto God by the sacrificial death of his Son; and we are delivered from the power of Satan and introduced into the kingdom of God; all of which supposes that our Redeemer is to us at once prophet, priest, and king. This is not, therefore, simply a convenient classification of the contents of his mission and work, but it enters into its very nature, and must be retained in our theology if we would take the truth as it is revealed in the Word of God.

Under the old economy the functions of these several offices were not only confided to different persons, no one under the theocracy being at once prophet, priest, and king; but when two of these offices were united in one person they were still separate. The same man might sometimes act as prophet and sometimes as priest or king; but in Christ these offices were more intimately united. He instructed while acting as a priest, and his dominion extending over the soul gave freedom from blindness and error as well as from the power of sin and the dominion of the devil. The gospel is his sceptre. He rules the world by truth and love. “Tria ista officia,” says Turrettin, “ita in Christo conjunguntur, ut non solum eorum operationes distinctas exerat, sed eadem actio a tribus simul prodeat, quod rei admirabilitatem non parum auget. Sic Crux Christi, quæ est Altare sacerdotis, in quo se in victimam Deo obtulit, est etiam schola prophetæ, in qua nos docet mysterium salutis, unde Evangelium vocatur verbum crucis, et Trophæum regis, in qua scil. triumphavit de principatibus et potestatibus. Col. ii. 15. Evangelium est lex prophetæ, Is. ii. 2, 3, Sceptrum regis, Ps. cx. 2, Gladius sacerdotis, quo penetrat ad intimas cordis divisiones, Heb. iv. 12, et Altare, cui imponi debet sacrificium fidei nostræ. Ita Spiritus, qui ut Spiritus, sapientiæ est effectus prophetiæ, ut Spiritus consolationis est fructus sacerdotii, ut Spiritus roboris et gloriæ est regis donum.394394Locus. XIV. quæst. v. 13, edit. Edinburgh, 1847, vol. ii. pp. 347, 348.

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