A City Set On a Hill
Surviving the Seventieth Week by Reforming Fundamentalism and Establishing Cities of Refuge
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Chapter 8
The Three Offices of Christ

Copyright 2010 by Raul E. Lopez, MD, MDiv

We saw that three qualities distinguished the church of Philadelphia from the other six churches addressed in Revelation. The Lord said "for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name." (Rev 3:8b). These three qualities form the basis for the three promises given to them. Because these conditions are so important they are areas which conservative Christianity needs to strengthen. We saw that the first area which needs to be strengthened is the proclamation of Christ. Christian preaching need to focus more on the person and work of Jesus Christ. The emphasis of the preaching in most churches is the Christian life, not the Christ of the life. In a way much modern Christian preaching even in good churches constitutes a denial by omission, of the name of Christ. Secondly, in order to keep the second condition of keeping the words of Christ, a better theology of scripture needs to be developed. The two theological systems of Biblical interpretation which are common among conservative Christian churches reconcile the Old and the New Testament in a way that diminishes the importance of some parts of scripture. This prevents Christians from fully keeping God's word. Finally, many conservative churches need to emphasize a true filling of the Holy Spirit. Because spiritual power comes from the Holy Spirit, lack of Holy Spirit filling prevents many churches from having even a little strength. Under the section called Preserving the Things Which Remain we saw some ways to accomplish this Spirit filling.

Having a correct understanding of the person and work of Christ helps us keep two of the three conditions kept by the church of Philadelphia. Understanding the person of Christ is essential foundation of Christ centered preaching. Understaning the

Returning to the first point of Christ centered preaching (related to third condition kept by the church of Philadelphia), in order to properly preach Christ we must have a correct understanding of the person and work of Christ.

The Bible teaches that the Messiah had three offices, that of Prophet, Priest, and King. Understanding these three offices will help us keep two of the three conditions kept by the church of Philadelphia. First of all, understanding the three offices will help us understand the person and work of Jesus Christ because His work is related to His offices. This understanding is the foundation of Christ centered preaching which is related to the second condition of keeping the name of Christ. Secondly, in each of His three offices Jesus Christ is the mediator of a set of instructions or laws associated with each office. By understanding the relationship of Christ with these rules we will be better equipped to keep the third condition, that of keeping or obeying God's word.

There is something foundational about this threefold revelation of God in the Son as Prophet, Priest and King. First of all, we shall see that both the Son and the Spirit participate in this threefold revelation, and, furthermore, it is not unique to the New Testament, but is a thread which underlies all of scripture, including the Old Testament.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit takes a form which corresponds to the three offices of the Son. The work of Christ is related to His offices and the Holy Spirit aids Him in this work. Jesus Christ, speaking of the Holy Spirit, says that, "when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." (John 16:8- 11). Conviction of sin is associated with the Lord's prophetic office, conviction of righteousness with His priestly office, and conviction of judgment with His kingly office. So, we see that in this passage the three offices are associated with the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the source of spiritual energy. In our daily life nothing is possible without the exertion of some form of energy. In order to accomplish a spiritual task, it is necessary to expend spiritual energy. The source of this energy is the Holy Spirit, and it is expended in a way that is consistent with the three offices of Christ.

In the Old Testament this threefold revelation of God is found in several places. The three offices themselves were modeled by Moses in the way in which Jehovah used Moses to reveal Himself to the Israelites. In the book of the Exodus, Jehovah revealed Himself as the King through the ten plagues, as Prophet by means of the ten commandments, and as the supreme Priest by designing the sacrificial system with its ten furnishings. These offices were mediated through Moses, who is one of the few people to exercise all three offices. As such He acted as a type, or forerunner, of Christ. Before Moses died, God told him "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him." (Deuteronomy. 18:18).

In the Old Testament this revelation of God is not only found symbolically in the work of Moses, but also is found in the substance of the Law which God revealed through Moses. When one studies the laws of the Old Testament it becomes evident that they fall into three general categories. The most prominent are the Ten Commandments. These ten prohibitions are the most basic instructions teaching the distinction between right and wrong behavior. Therefore, these ten commandments are the basis of what is called the moral law. Other prohibitions elaborate these basic instructions and expand the moral law. Many commandments have penalties associated with them. These penalties were to be carried out by the established government at local and national levels. Individuals were not authorized to carry out these penalties, but they were the collective responsibility of society and were to be carried out by an organized structure of government. This law is often called the civil or penal law. Therefore, the prohibitions themselves are part of the moral law, while the punishments comprise the civil law. There was a final category of laws which are unrelated to the ten commandments and were associated with the temple worship. This is often referred to as the ceremonial law and had to do primarily with foods, sacrifices, washings, fastings, and holidays (Hebrews 9:10). Each part of the law is associated with one of the offices of Christ. The prophet calls on people to obey the moral law; the king enforces the civil law; and, the priest upholds the ceremonial law.

Mankind in its very nature tries to overthrow the rule of God. The Psalmist stated "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, [saying], Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us." (Psalm 2:1-3). The bands and cords the nations are referring to is the law of God. Man is constantly looking for ways to excuse his breaking of God's law. Even Christians find ways to exempt themselves from the law of God. Many Christians, especially those who consider themselves Dispensationalists relegate the Old Testament law to Israel. They forget that the Bible of the early church was the Old Testament scriptures. Paul told Pastor Timothy "that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (II Timothy 3:15-17). The scriptures being referred to here were those which Timothy read as a child under the guidance of his Jewish mother and grandmother. This was the Old Testament scripture, since the New Testament had not yet been written. Paul states that this Old Testament scripture, including the law of Moses, is essential to equip a godly man to do good works.

Jesus Himself said that He had not come to abolish but to fulfill the law. Jesus said "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed [the righteousness] of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20). Most people interpret fulfill as abolish. However, we will see that each part of the moral law was fulfilled in a different way.

Therefore, in order to understand the relationship of the Old Testament and the New Testament, a proper understanding of the three offices of Christ and a study of the differences between the way that the two testaments reveal these three aspects of Christ will lead to a proper understanding of the relationship between them. This will help us preach Christ correctly and will help us understand how to keep His word.

However, not only does understanding the three offices of Christ help us keep two of the conditions mentioned in the letter to Philadelphia, it also serves as a transition to the next section of the book, that related to the cities of refuge. The civil law, that related to Christ's role as king, are instructions given primarily to government. It is the implementation of the Old Testament civil law which will distinguish the cities of refuge from all other cities in the world. Let us now look carefully at these three offices of Jesus Christ.

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