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Christ as Priest, Prophet, & King | The Work of Christ and Salvation

As taught by Zach Thompson.

In this equipping time lesson, we learn that Christ is the true and better Adam who fulfills the offices of Priest, Prophet, & King.

Christ As Prophet, Priest, and King

Equipping Time — The Work of Christ and Salvation

Good morning everyone! 

We are going to start our time with a reading from Hebrews 1:1-4. 

If you are able, would you stand in honor of the reading of God’s Word. 

Hebrews 1:1-4

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.“

Let’s pray as we begin. 

For our Equipping time this morning, we are going to continue our series on the Work of Christ and Salvation as we take up the specific topic of Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King. 

Traditionally, our topic today is known as the offices of Christ. In one person, we see these three offices filled out perfectly — prophet, priest, and king. 

In his systematic theology, Wayne Grudem gives a helpful summary of what this means

“as prophet [Christ] 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.”

Millard Erickson summarizes it in a way that I think is helpful for us to remember what Jesus does as the one who holds these three offices. He says that Christ reveals; he reconciles; and he rules.

Prophet, Priest, King. 

Revealer. Reconciler. Ruler. 

[Explain the graphic]

Let’s think about these offices in light of a modern example. Let’s say that you receive a letter from the IRS. Your taxes are overdue, and you are subject to penalties if you don’t get this taken care of. In this case, the IRS has notified you, on behalf of the United States Government, that you are not in good standing. The IRS has functioned as a prophet— a revealer. 

So you do the natural thing, and you go speak to your accountant. And you say, “Hey I‘m happy to pay my taxes, but I’d really like to find a way to not pay these penalties, so your accountant goes and sits on the phone for several hours so that they speak to a real live person at the IRS, and after working their magical accounting powers, they find a way for you to simply pay your taxes without penalties. They have functioned as a type of priest for you. A mediator who works for reconciliation. 

Then after all is said and done, you actually pay money to the IRS, and they pass it along to the US government. The IRS isn’t the President! They aren’t the king! Why would you pay them money? Because they have a delegated authority from a greater authority. When you pay your taxes, you are simply submitting to the IRS, you are submitting to a greater authority—the U.S. government. 

Now, I know that this isn’t a perfect picture. It certainly breaks down, but I want it to demonstrate that these offices are interrelated 

In his manual of Theology, J.L. Dagg said that all of these offices are really different manifestations of a single reality—a single office— Mediator.

Jesus is the mediator between God and man when he reveals, when he reconciles, and when he rules. In all of it, Jesus is the only path between God and Man. 

So let’s begin to dig into scripture. 

Adam as the Mediator who failed (Genesis 1:26–28; Gen 1-3)

Now, before we talk much about these, let’s remember one of our 10-penny words that comes up a lot in our Sunday school equipping times—typology. 

Typology is based on the NT idea that there are shadows all over the OT that find their substance in the NT, specifically, they find their substance in Christ. 

Romans 5:14 says, “Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.”

Adam was a type. He was a shadow that pointed ahead to the substance. 

So let’s start in Genesis 1-2. 

If you are able to, turn there. 

The reason I want to start here is because this is the first time we see the function of each of these offices—prophet, priest, and king. It doesn’t come out and say, “Hey look a prophet!” But the function is there for each of these offices.

And other than Christ, this is the clearest that we see the three offices united in a single person—Adam. 

Look in 1:26-28, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  27  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

First, let’s point out the overarching reality. Mankind was made in the image of God. This language of image points to the reality of being a representative—a mediator. And we see all three of the offices referenced here. Prophet, priest, king.

We see kingly language here. After God says that he will make man in his image, he says, “Let them have dominion.” That is the language of a king. Servants don’t take dominion. Kings take dominion. 

He continues on that theme down in verse 28, when he commands them to subdue the earth and have dominion over all creation. 

Adam was meant to be God’s authoritative representative over all creation. 

And hand in hand with this, Adam was meant to be a type of prophet. In seed form, we see this in the command to “be fruitful and multiply.” Adam was given the command, and Eve was his helpmeet. They were commanded to spread the image of God over all creation. To reveal God’s glory to all creation. 

We also see Adam operating as a prophet and king when he names the animals and when he names his wife over in chapter 2:18-24. It’s also clear that Adam also clearly spoke the word of God to Eve because when the serpent tempted her, Eve quotes words that God had only spoken to Adam. 

Adam filled a prophetic role to his wife and together, they were prophets to all of creation. 

But where do we see Adam operating as a priest? Well, there wasn’t sin, so Adam didn’t need to be a mediator in the exact way that priests were, but we see echoes here. 

In Genesis 2, it’s clear that we are meant to see Eden as a temple. Have you ever read Genesis 2 and thought, “Why on earth are we talking about rivers? It’s cool that there is gold and onyx and whatever bdellium is, but why does this matter? 

This just shows how little we know about the temple. 

For a Jew who knew the temple and who was familiar with the first five books of the Bible, this would have been like a big blinking sign on the side that reads, “Think about the temple.” The stones that are mentioned here, the waters, the tree of life, all find clear symbolism in the temple. 

For our purposes today, look down at 2:15. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” 

These two verbs, “work” and “keep” were central to the duties of the Levite priests in the temple. 

And this actually gives some clarity to what a priest is meant to do. A priest doesn’t only offer sacrifices. A priest is meant to tend to the temple and to keep it. 

Another way to translate the word “keep” is “guard.”

Adam was meant to guard the garden. The Levitical priesthood would later be tasked with guarding the temple. 

And this gets to some of the gravity of Adam’s failure. He failed as a prophet. He failed as a priest. And he failed as king. 

Eve misquoted God, showing that Adam hadn’t rightly conveyed the fullness of God’s command to them. Adam allowed the serpent to tempt his wife without intervening, and so he failed in guarding his helpmeet. He failed as a priest. And Adam ate the fruit, and in so doing, he submitted to creation rather than having dominion over creation. 

The Fall of humanity was preceded by Adam’s failure as prophet, priest, and king.

I want to spend a few minutes talking about where these offices show up elsewhere in the OT but take a moment to dwell on this. 

When we say that Jesus is the better Adam, this is what we mean. Adam failed on every count. And Jesus was successful on every count. He is the faithful prophet who only speaks what the Father tells him. He is the faithful high priest who accomplished the salvation of his people and works out the salvation of his people. He guards his people. He is the king who has perfect authority over all creation and to whom every knee will bow and every tongue confess.

This is why Romans 5:19 says “as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”

Jesus is the better Adam. 

Let’s briefly think about these offices in the OT. 

The Old Testament Offices

In the Old Testament, each of these offices functions as types. They are shadows that point ahead to Jesus. 

So let’s take each in turn. 

  1. Prophet

We could walk through Genesis and see that God progressively through a long series of prophets. Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. All of them functioned as prophets of God, but I want to zero in on the guy who wrote the book—Moses. Moses was one of the archetypes of what a prophet should be. 

He received the word of God, and he delivered it to the people of God. This is where the first five books of the Bible came from. It’s where the Mosaic Law came from. 

And in the last book of the first five books, Moses records a promise. In Deuteronomy 18:18–19 Moses speaks the word of the Lord when he says, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.”

God promises that a prophet like Moses would be raised up, but then at the end of Deuteronomy, there is a note on the end that was added after Moses’ death. Dt 34:10, “And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, 11 none like him for all the signs and to wonders that the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, 12 and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.”

Doesn’t this sound familiar? It’s as if they knew the gospel narratives and wanted to scream the name of Jesus here! Acts 3:24-26 actually draws a direct line here. Peter was preaching, and he quotes this text, and he says, “That’s Jesus!”

We won’t quote that because it basically quotes the Deuteronomy verses, but let’s think about what it says. 

“Whom the Lord knew face to face” — Remember when Philip asks Jesus to show them the Father and Jesus says, have I been with you so long and you don’t know me? Or think on this. Do you remember how on multiple occasions, the Father gave voice to his favor for his Son by saying, “This is my beloved Son.” Think of Jesus’ baptism. Think of the mount of Transfiguration. 

By the way, on the Mount of Transfiguration, there were two figures. Remember? Moses and Elijah—the two greatest prophets of the Old Testament. And when Peter bumbles through offering to make three different places of remembrance, the Father interrupts him and says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” God has the two greatest prophets from the Old Testament in front of Peter, and God says stop talking and listen to my Son. 

Jesus is the better prophet. 

Jesus identified himself as a prophet. “A prophet is not without honor, except in his own hometown” (Mt 21:11). But the book of Hebrews starts with a recognition that Jesus is more than a mere prophet. “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son” (Heb 1:1-2).

Jesus revealed God to us. John 1:18, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”

Jesus perfectly spoke what the Father wanted him to. John 12:44–45, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.” Then just a couple verses later John 12:49-50, “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

Jesus is the better prophet. 

Let’s consider the Priest. 

  1. Priest

If you have your Bible open, turn to the book of Hebrews. We are going to read a few sections from that in a minute. 

The greatest Old Testament picture of a priest is Aaron—the high priest. But for our purposes today, we could also just generally think about the priests that are mentioned all through the Old Testament. 

“The priests played the significant role of standing guard in God’s house, making sacrifices for God’s people, and instructing the people so that they could enjoy God’s blessings. When priests did their job, God blessed his people, but when they failed, God’s curses fell on the people.

Standing guard in God’s house. 

Making sacrifices for the people

Instructing the people. 

We already commented on the dynamic of standing guard, and the theme of instructing the people overlaps with the theme of a prophet, so I want to zero in on that second role—making sacrifices for the people. 

Hebrews 5:1–4, “For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward since he himself is beset with weakness. 3 Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. 4 And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.”

Then turn over a couple of pages to Hebrews 9. Look in verse 1.

Hebrews 9:1–10 Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. 2 For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place . . . 6 the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, 7 but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. 8 By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing.”

Cue the tearing of the veil. Skip down to verse 11.

Hebrews 9:11–12, “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.“

Then down in verse 15, “Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.”

Jesus is the mediator of a new and better covenant. His death redeems all who would trust in him, so that all who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance. 

He represents us to God. Heb 5:7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

Hebrews 7:25–28 “he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. 28 For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.”

Psalm 110, “You are a priest forever, after the Order of Melchizedek. 

  1. King

King David is the greatest Old Testament shadow of Jesus as King. 

I wish we had time to read 2 Samuel 7:8–16 and walk through the covenant that the Lord makes with David. But we’ll have to summarize it. 

  1. God promises to make David a great name. 

  2. God promises his people a place where they won’t be disturbed by violence. Rest from every enemy. 

  3. David wanted to build a house for God, but God turns this and promises to build a house for David. 

  4. God promises an offspring from David who 

  5. will come from David’s own body 

  6. and whose kingdom would be established by the hand of God forever. 

  7. This offspring will be like a son of God (7:14)

  8. God’s steadfast love would never depart from him. 

Someone might be tempted to think that this was fulfilled in Solomon, but Solomon clearly departed from these promises, and he clearly ignored God’s direction for a king from Deuteronomy 17. 

Jesus is the promised Son of David. He is the Son in Psalm 2. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry.

Jesus has been given all authority (Colossians 1). He is victorious over every enemy (1 Cor 15). To him, every knee will bow in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth (Phil 2; Is 45:23). 

Jesus is the better king. 

We are already over on time, but I want to hit a few points of application. 

Some Application

Jesus is still our Prophet, Priest, and King. 

How often do you think about this? Jesus is resurrected and living now at the right hand of the Father, and he is still fulfilling everything that we’ve talked about today. He is still faithfully fulfilling the offices of prophet, priest, and king.

A few things to consider. 

  1. First, in Christ, you are called to imitate your Lord.

Because we are in Christ, it is actually part of our duty to operate within these same offices. You are called to speak the word of God to people. You are called to intercede to God for those who don’t know him. You are called to be the hands and feet that Christ would use to push back the enemy as you live as a Christ follower and preach the gospel. So ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Where would God have you speak for his name? 

  2. Who would God have you intercede for? Whose name should you bring before the Lord with pleading? 

  3. What is an area of your life where you should live in the authority that God has given you? 

  1. Second, When Jesus speaks, you should listen. 

When you get an impression from the Holy Spirit, is your first impulse to fight it? Jesus hasn’t stopped being the better prophet. Through his word and the Holy Spirit, Jesus speaks to his people. Has a brother or sister called you out in some way? It may be that the Spirit has led them to speak in accord with His Word. Don’t despise that word. Test it. Go to the Word of God and make your first impulse obedience to God, whatever he may call you to do. 

  1. Jesus is still interceding for you, so be comforted and pursue his will for you! 

Jesus prayed in John 17 that we would be united and that his love would be in us. Do you think he stopped praying for you 2,000 years ago? He is still praying! 

  1. You are not on your own.

Do you ever feel like you are on your own? Like your faith is hanging by a thread, and weakening hands are the only thing between you and falling away. Jesus is still the faithful High Priest. He is still guarding his people. A king doesn’t only rule, he protects. Our Jesus is a warrior-priest-king who rides a white steed that will be bathed in the blood of his enemies. When the enemy would claim you, Jesus has a sword for the enemy’s neck. You may be weary, but you run behind the victorious king who died so that you would be his and was raised so that you would live with him. 


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