Priesthood of believers
Query for the Month
of April 2003
Next up-date: May 1st 2003 (God willing).
Previous "Queries" are available. Click here to access.
Some perpetual questions ....
Do you know the difference
between the "love" that is of Christianity
To obtain a free programme to translate some of
Click on the link for a good book on the character of our God which you can download for free and share amongst your friends. It's called "Light on the Dark Side of God" and is one of the best on this subject that I have ever read!
1 Peter 2:
[living] stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore [for this reason] also it is contained in the scripture, "Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner Stone, elect, precious: and he that believes on Him shall not be confounded." [Isaiah 28:16.]
7 To you therefore which believe He is precious: but to them which be disobedient, the Stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the Head of the corner, 8 and a Stone of stumbling, and a Rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
What is this royal priesthood? And when did it begin?
THE KINGLY PRIESTS
There are six mentions of kingly priests in the Bible.
The Son of God promised the obedient ones during the exodus that they would all be kings and priests.
Peter told the new Gentile entrants into the church that they too had become kings and priests in the spiritual temple.
1 Peter 2:
[of living stones], a royal priesthood . . .
After their resurrection and the journey to heaven the redeemed will sing that they had been made kings and priests and that they would reign on earth.
Some 500 years before the event, Zechariah was asked to act out the picture of Jesus being crowned as the Priest who would become a King.
Paul wrote to the Hebrew Christians and showed them how Christ had become the High Priest of a system called the "Melchisedec order", as He had promised to Abraham. The priesthood was named after the man who came to bless Abraham after he had rescued his nephew Lot.
The apostle John said that his revelation came from He who had been begotten from the dead. It was He who made His followers into priests.
So let’s look at what that all means and how it affects the Divine/human, Creator/creature, Jesus Christ, and those who join Him in this priesthood.
The Royal Priesthood
1 Peter 1:
[non-Jewish Christians] scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.
1 Peter 2:
[living] stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore [for this reason] also it is contained in the scripture, "Behold, I lay in Sion a chief Corner Stone, elect, precious: and he that believes on Him shall not be confounded." [Isaiah 28:16.]
[by their choice].
[of living stones], a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light. 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
In these words we have been given a glimpse into the depths of Christianity but for now we will concentrate on only one aspect of it. Just what is this "royal" priesthood, and when did it begin? It is not scheduled for the future, for Peter says, "You are . . . "
The first mention of sacrificial offerings in the Bible is when Cain and Abel, as the priests of their families, offered on their earth altars.
[when they grew up and married] it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to the LORD. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat of it. And the LORD had respect to Abel and to his offering: 5 but to Cain and to his offering He had not respect [because it did not show a death to self (no blood)].
At that time every man was priest in his household after he married. That system later became known as the priesthood of the firstborn (Exodus 13:1-2), and it was what Esau should have desired, but which he sold to Jacob.
[the spiritual position]; and, behold, now he has taken away my blessing [the physical position, his father’s riches]."
So the priesthood started with the expulsion from the Garden of Eden and was recognised by all the patriarchs. What was the job of those priests? To help others maintain a right relationship with God, as labourers together with their High Priest. 1 Corinthians 3:9. See also John 17:20. They did this by pointing to SPIRITUAL sacrifices through animal ones. 1 Peter 2:5.
[in heaven], whereof they have no right to eat which serve the [earthly] tabernacle [the earthly priests]. . . . 14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. 15 By Him [our High Priest] therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name [character]. 16 But to do good and to communicate [share] forget not: for with such sacrifices [praise and works] God is well pleased.
Why does God want praise? Not because He is vain or wants adulation - but because it shows that we appreciate what He has done and can be protected by that understanding and that way others can hear and be saved. Psalm 7:17; 52:9; 69:29-30. Why works? Because that’s how love is shown - by helping others. Matthew 25:32-46.
We have examples of priesthood in the lives of Job and Noah.
[of thanks and dedication] on the altar.
This "firstborn" priesthood continued among the followers of God until it was replaced with the Hebrew "Levitical" one from the family of Aaron after the incident of the golden calf, about 1500BC.
[of the tribe of Levi], from among the children of Israel, that he may minister to Me in the priest's office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron's sons.
[the rest of the tribe] shall pitch round about the tabernacle of testimony, that there be no wrath [danger] upon the congregation of the children of Israel: and the Levites shall keep the charge of the tabernacle of testimony [look after the building and its furnishings].
[the womb] among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be Mine; 13 because all the firstborn are Mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed to Me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast: Mine shall they be: I am the LORD.
The Levites did not offer sacrifices or see the holy things till they were covered by the priests, but they helped by carrying water and wood etc.
But neither of these orders was ever called a "royal" priesthood! In fact, they were always carefully identified as being separate from the kingship. So they cannot be what Peter was referring to. Let’s look a little deeper.
SALVATION in NOT depicted in the sanctuary services or supplied by its priests! The sanctuary shows only the forgiveness and cleansing of Christians.
The earthly picture of salvation, the exchange of lives, is shown in the Passover service which was conducted in the homes of the people. It did not require the services of a Levitical priest but was conducted by the parents of the family. In this ritual only circumcised people ate the lamb, because there was a need to show the removal of the "old" heart as a prerequisite to accepting the "new" one. In this way, by removal and infilling, the Son of God showed His gift of eternal life to the repentant one.
Then, and then only, a person with an endless life could approach God through the gateway to the sanctuary, for its services were available only to a separated people. The work of the Levitical priests was to help the Christian who came into the courtyard for forgiveness to approach God in the right way. They did things with the blood and body of the animals to show the different ways in which God deals with the sin problem IN HIS PEOPLE.
Even the work of the Levitical high priest did not give salvation. In his role on the Day of Atonement (which came but once a year) he showed the forgiveness and cleansing of the entire church, not individuals. Leviticus 16:21. He confesses "ALL the iniquities of the children of Israel, and ALL their transgressions in ALL their sins. . . "
We know that the Levitical priesthood had two parts to it - there was a high priest as the leader, and a multitude of helpers who assisted him in his work. It is not too much to say that the high priest was the ONLY one of importance, because it was he who made the atonement in the second apartment on the Day of Atonement. No other priest ever entered that room. And we know that Jesus is our High Priest today.
[truly] He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the [nature of the] seed [children] of Abraham. 17 Wherefore [for this reason] in all things it behoved Him [it was imperative for Him] to be made [exactly] like to His brethren [Christians, not natural humans], that HE MIGHT BE a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people [of God]. 18 For in that He Himself has suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted.
3:1 Wherefore[for this reason], holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling [the royal priesthood], consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.
[trained] for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: 2 who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. 3 And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.
Only through faith in Christ's name can the sinner be saved. He is the head of the new creation. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the prophet, priest, and king of all regenerate humanity. He is Immanuel, God with us. The eternal Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and of his fulness[His life] have all we received. He is the author and finisher of our faith. "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name."
There was a double meaning to the priesthood in the Old Testament, a physical and a spiritual one. Cain and Abel became members of the firstborn physical priesthood when they married and had their families. But Abel was also a priest after the order of Melchisedec because he saw and believed in the sacrifice of the Son of God. (See Revelation 13:8.) He knew he was offering a shadow.
In the same way, Phinehas the grandson of Aaron was a member of the Levitical order and his offerings were types not realities. But God also says of him,
So here we have the proof that he belonged also to the everlasting priesthood as well.
Since the sacrifice at Calvary we do not offer animal sacrifices for we do not have physical priesthood, but as Christians we are expected to have something to offer. As Peter told us, we are members of the spiritual house, a holy priesthood. Paul explains:-
So here in our "believers' priesthood" we learn to offer that which we will continue to do in the new world in the Melchisedec priesthood.
Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated, but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.
Next query. To be discussed from May 1st 2003.
Send in your thought on this current query.