Jesus: Prophet, Priest & King (An Introduction)

The Three-Fold Office & Anointing

In this study we will be looking at the redemptive work of Christ through the three offices of prophet, priest, and king.  The order in which we look at them does have significance.  In His earthly ministry Jesus demonstrated and fulfilled these offices in this order (with some overlap), so it is important that we approach this study as such.

It is of importance to take into consideration the fact that the offices of prophet, priest, and king are dominant throughout the Old Testament.  Many of the key characters occupied these offices (e.g. Moses, Aaron, Samuel, Saul, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah).  In fact, we cannot talk about the life and ministry of Israel without discussing these important offices and those who occupied them.  These offices provided the structure to Israel’s every-day life and service.  We know, however, that those who occupied these offices were not perfect, often committed heinous sins, and therefore were themselves in need of a Savior (which is Christ).  It is even true that Adam was, in a sense, a prophet, priest, and king.  Louis Berkhof states, “Man, as he was created by God, was intended to function as a prophet, priest, and king.  Hence, he was endowed with knowledge and understanding [referring to his prophetic role], with righteousness and holiness [referring to his priesthood], and with dominion over the lower creation [referring to his kingship].”[1]  Now, obviously, after the Fall and upon the establishment of the Israelite nation these offices became more defined and formal.  These three offices point forward to the Messiah who would fulfill them all, and in fulfilling such offices would accomplish the salvation or redemption of His people.  Wayne Grudem sums up well the distinct significances of each office and the way in which Jesus fulfills them:

The prophet spoke God’s words to the people; the priest offered sacrifices, prayers, and praises to God on behalf of the people; and the king ruled over the people as God’s representative.  These three offices foreshadowed Christ’s own work in different ways….Christ fulfills these three offices in the following ways: as prophet he reveals God to us and speaks God’s words to us; as priest he both offers a sacrifice to God on our behalf and is himself the sacrifice that is offered; and as king he rules over the church and over the universe as well.[2]

Now, it is important that we briefly consider Jesus’ title as Messiah/Christ (lit. “Anointed One”) when considering how He fulfills these offices.  It was, after all, these three offices in the Old Testament that received anointing with oil (Lev. 8:12, 30; 1 Sam. 9:15-16; 10:1; 16:1, 13; 1 Kings 19:16).  Such anointing symbolized that God had called and consecrated the individual(s) for the specific office or duty.  In the Old Testament we see God’s chosen Servant as the Anointed One (Ps. 2:2; 45:7-8).  When we jump to the New Testament we see Jesus fulfilling these prophecies of the Anointed One.  At His baptism Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:13-17; cf. Acts 10:37-38), and this anointing consecrated and empowered Him for His ministry (in life, death, and exaltation).  Further, in Acts 2:36, referring to the exalted Jesus sitting at the right hand of God, Peter proclaims that God has made Him both Lord and Christ/Messiah (i.e. Anointed One).  So, when we think of Jesus as Messiah/Christ we should think of Him as our Prophet, Priest, and King.  As the Anointed One He fulfills these three offices of prophet, priest, and king.  The redemption accomplished by Christ through these offices are a necessary part of Him being the Mediator between God and men (1 Tim. 2:5).  We can see the progression and relation of these components below:

Jesus is…

God–>Man (through the incarnation)–>Messiah (Anointed One)–>Prophet, Priest, King–>Mediator

I believe the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith (based strongly on the Westminster Confession of Faith) provides a wonderful statement on the significance and necessity of these three offices in regards to Jesus as the Mediator between God and man.  The following is from Chapter 8 (Of Christ the Mediator) and paragraphs 1, 9, and 10 (the WCF does not contain paragraphs 9 and 10):

1. It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, His only begotten Son, according to the covenant made between them both, to be the mediator between God and man; the prophet, priest, and king; Head and Savior of His Church, the heir of all things, and judge of the world; unto whom He did from all eternity give a people to be His seed and to be by Him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.

9. This office of mediator between God and man is proper only to Christ, who is the prophet, priest, and king of the church of God; and may not be either in whole, or any part thereof, transferred from Him to any other.

10. This number and order of offices is necessary; for in respect of our ignorance, we stand in need of His prophetical office; and in respect of our alienation from God, and imperfection of the best of our services, we need His priestly office to reconcile us and present us acceptable unto God; and in respect of our averseness and utter inability to return to God, and for our rescue and security from our spiritual adversaries, we need His kingly office to convince, subdue, draw, uphold, deliver, and preserve us to His heavenly kingdom.

In my next few posts we will take a closer look at these three offices of Christ (in the order they appeared here), considering the biblical evidence, theological significance, and points of implication and application.

Other Posts in Series:

Jesus as Prophet

Jesus as Priest

Jesus as King

For a pdf file of the entire series, click HERE.

[1] Berkhof, Louis.  Manual of Christian Doctrine (MI: Eerdmans, 1993, reprinted 2002), 200.  See also Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology. 629.

[2] Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology (MI: Zondervan, 1994), 624.


One thought on “Jesus: Prophet, Priest & King (An Introduction)

  1. Pingback: Jesus: Prophet, Priest & King | 4 Part Blog Series By Drew Mery | The Confessing Baptist

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