Priesthood

August 3, 2016

I am a priest. As Paul says of his own ministry, "He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God" (Romans 15:16). This duty comes from the one true High Priest, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:14-5:10). The high priest enables all ministers of the gospel to be priests, to fulfill such priestly duties as the preaching of the gospel.

 

You'll never see "Reverend Christopher Peters, Priest" on a business card, though. One reason for this is the great truth of the New Testament regained for us by the reformer Martin Luther: we are all priests. 2 Peter 2:9 makes this abundantly clear: "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praise of him who called you out of darkness into marvelous light." 

 

All Christians are part of a royal priesthood, the priesthood of believers. Each of us shares in the Great Commission, taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. That's a priestly function, as Paul says. Each of us is further called to make intercession for others, praying for them and going to God on their behalf -- another priestly role.

 

Yet all of these things happen under the great High Priest. We can't forgive sins or act as mediator between God and human beings; those roles are reserved only for Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). So while we may be "a kingdom of priests," "priests of God and of Christ [who] will reign with him for a thousand years," we're not high priests (Revelation 5:10, 20:6). We point the way to salvation; we don't make atonement. We intercede; we don't mediate.

 

We may (like the evangelical Protestants we are) shy away from the language of priesthood, but it's still who we are. We are the ones who tell others the story of the love of God, the work of Christ on the cross, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit -- and that's good news!

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