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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « What He does for us | Main | The word of God has not failed »

    Munus Triplex - The Triple Cure - Christ as Prophet, Priest and King

    In the Old Testament, a person could be a prophet, a priest or a King, but it was impossible to be all three. Yet Scripture attributes all three of these offices to Christ. To discover what He does for us as He fulfills these three differing roles is a wonderfully enriching biblical study.

    Christ holds these offices eternally. As the ultimate revelation of the Prophet, He speaks the word of God to us; as Priest, He represents us fully to the Father and brings the supreme atoning sacrifice (of Himself) that placates the Father's holy and just wrath against us for our sin; and as the conquering and reigning King, He is forever worthy of our worship and adoration. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

    Christ's threefold office of Prophet, Priest, and King is a central teaching in Reformed Theology, but it is a much neglected theme in much of the modern day Church. The Latin theological term for this is Munus Triplex, also known as "the Triple Cure," referring to these offices of Christ providing the remedy for us in our fallen condition.

    As far as we can tell, it was Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History (1.3.8) who first described the concept of these three fold offices of Christ. He said that Jesus is “the only high priest of all, and the only king of every creature, and the Father’s only supreme prophet of prophets." Yet as with most things, it was John Calvin who made the concept widely known by his teaching in the Institutes:

    "Therefore, in order that faith may find a firm basis for salvation in Christ, and thus rest in him, this principle must be laid down: the office enjoined upon Christ by the Father consists of three parts. For he was given to be prophet, king and priest." - Institutes II. xv. 1

    This concept was then taken up by others in the Reformation, including Herman Bavinck, as seen in this quote:

    "…Christ, both as the Son and as the image of God, for Himself and also as our Mediator and Saviour, had to bear all three offices. He had to be a prophet to know and to disclose the truth of God; a priest, to devote Himself to God and, in our place, to offer Himself up to God; a king, to govern and protect us according to God’s will. To teach, to reconcile, and to lead; to instruct, to acquire and to apply salvation; wisdom, righteousness, and redemption; truth, love, and power – all three are essential to the completeness of our salvation. In Christ’s God-to-humanity relation, He is a prophet; in His humanity-to-God relation He is a priest; in His headship over all humanity He is a king. Rationalism acknowledges only His prophetic office; mysticism only His priestly office; millennialism only His royal office. But Scripture, consistently and simultaneously attributing all three offices to Him, describes Him as our chief prophet, our only [High] priest, and our eternal king. Though a king, He rules not by the sword but by His Word and Spirit. He is a prophet, but His word is power and really happens. He is a priest but lives by dying, conquers by suffering, and is all-powerful by His love. He is always all these things in conjunction, never the one without the other: mighty in speech and action as a king and full of grace and truth in His royal rule."

    The Westminster Shorter Catechism: refers to it in questions 23-26:

    Q. 23. What offices doth Christ execute as our Redeemer?

    A. Christ, as our Redeemer, executeth the offices of a prophet (Deut 18:18, Heb 1:1-2), of a priest (Heb 4:14-15, Heb 5:5-6),and of a king (Is 9:6-7, Lk 1:32-33, John 18:37, 1 Cor 15:25), both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation.

    Q. 24. How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?

    A. Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his Word (Heb 2:3) and Spirit (1 Peter 1:11), the will of God for our salvation.

    Q. 25. How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?

    A. Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice (Acts 8:32-35), and reconcile us to God (Col 1:21-22), and in making continual intercession for us (Heb 9:24).

    Q. 26. How doth Christ execute the office of a king?

    A. Christ executeth the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us (Col 1:13), and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies (Col 2:15).

    Here is Dr. Kim Riddlebarger teaching on the three fold offices of Christ: Prophet, Priest and King:


    Posted by John Samson on October 3, 2011 12:50 AM

    Comments

    Dr. Riddlebarger's treatment of this subject of Christ as Prophet,Priest and King is much needed today, and personally for me-I'm grateful for his clarification as regards Reformed theology. This is an excellent teaching and easy to understand.

    Just a thought question that came to me after reading the Westminster Shorter Catechism :

    Q. 26. How doth Christ execute the office of a king?

    A. Christ executeth the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us (Col 1:13), and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies (Col 2:15).

    I wonder why they did not choose to add this Biblical reference to that answer?

    ESV:

    Php 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
    Php 3:21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

    That's a good scripture Michael. I know there are others that could have been mentioned but perhaps the framers of the Confession were not seeking to provide an exhaustive Scripture list, but merely to simply establish some biblical precedent for the answers they were giving.

    There are some important aspects of Christ’s role as High Priest that are often overlooked. In the OT foreshadowing, we see Moses, a type of Christ, who took the men qualified to be priests and washed them, clothed them, anointed them to sanctify them, consecrated them, and sprinkled them with the blood and the anointing oil (Lev. 8). From that point forward the High Priest would perform the “ceremony” that would result in a new priest. This was under the Old Covenant, which had a physical requirement for becoming a priest: being a descendant of Aaron. Under the New Covenant there is a different requirement for becoming a priest: the power of an indestructible life (eternal life). Jesus Christ first gives men eternal life, qualifying them to become priests under the New Covenant, and then He makes them a priest. New believers receive the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5), they are clothed with Christ (Gal 3:27), they are anointed (2Cor. 1:21), sanctified (Heb. 10:10), and sprinkled with His blood (1Pet. 1:2). Every believer becomes a priest (1Pet. 2:5). In addition, Moses also prepared the tabernacle for the presence of God. Jesus prepares men to become the dwelling place of the Living God. Believers become holy temples of God (1Cor. 3:17) because of the cleansing they could receive by the blood of Jesus Christ in the inner man.

    As High Priest, Jesus baptizes new believers with the Holy Spirit, baptizing them into His body (1Cor. 12:13), and into His death (Rom. 6:3). John the Baptist told us that Jesus would baptize men with the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33). Jesus spoke of another baptism that He had to undergo, that His disciples would also be baptized with: His crucifixion and death. When Jesus baptizes a new believer, the new believer is crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6), dead with Christ, buried with Christ and circumcised by Christ (removing the body of flesh which was put to death by crucifixion) (Col. 2:11, Rom. 6:1-7). He is also made alive with Jesus Christ (this is when Christ comes to dwell in him to give him eternal life), and in baptism he is also raised with Christ (Col. 2:12), and seated with Christ in the heavenly (Eph. 2:5-6). It is in this baptism that men experience the new birth, when Jesus Christ comes to dwell in their hearts to give them eternal life and salvation. For when a person is made alive with Jesus Christ, by grace they have been saved (Eph. 2:5). They are saved by His life (Rom. 5:10). Saved by the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5). And it is this baptism by Jesus Christ that Peter refers to when he declares that “baptism doth now save you” (1Pet. 3:21). Jesus Christ began to baptize men on the Day of Pentecost, just as He promised (Acts 1:5). Men became a part of the Body of Christ for the first time that day. That day every believer became a priest, and were ushered into the newly opened Holy Place to be seated with Christ. And that day, the Father, and the Son came to dwell in the hearts of men for the first time, thereby saving them.

    (Men were not “born again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter. 1:3), before Jesus Christ actually rose from the dead. There was no new birth for men before the Day of Pentecost. It was on this day that Peter proclaimed, “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized…and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, for this promise is for you and for your children” (Acts. 2:38-39).)

    Melani,

    Your comment seems to be longer than my original article and it is therefore hard to know where to start in replying to it. However, I would say that Old Testament saints certainly were regenerate, counter to your arguments. For more on this, see this article: http://effectualgrace.com/2011/09/20/did-the-holy-spirit-indwell-ot-believers/

    Perhaps you could answer these questions in your blog.

    1. How many different kinds of life are there in the Bible?
    a) life in the flesh
    b) eternal life
    c)????
    If you say there are three kinds of life, what is the third kind called, and what verses in the Bible do your correlate to this other kind of “life”?

    2. What does this verse mean to you? “The Last Adam BECAME the life giving Spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45).
    Please keep these verses in mind: "He who has the Son (2nd member of the Trinity) has the LIFE, he that hath not the Son of God hath not the LIFE" (1John 5:11). "Christ is our LIFE" (Col. 3:4).

    3. When did Jesus Christ (the promised Messiah, 2nd member of the trinity) begin to dwell in the hearts of men? Keep these verses in mind: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Eph. 3:17); “Christ in you, your hope of glory (Col. 1:27); “Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).

    4. How can a person “be made alive together with Jesus Christ” apart from Jesus Christ coming to dwell in him to give him His life?

    5. When in time did men first become a temple of the Living God? (2 Cor. 6:6) Was there any man before Jesus Christ able to say, “I am in the Father...the Father is in Me... the Father and I are one", as Jesus did (John 14)? When Jesus said, “Just as the Father has LIFE in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have LIFE in Himself” (John 5:26), What kind of LIFE is He referring to? When John, speaking of Jesus said, “In Him was LIFE…” (John 1:4), what kind of LIFE was he speaking of? If men in the OT and the Gospels were already receiving some kind of spiritual life in regeneration to enable them to believe and eternal life when they believed, then what kind of unique LIFE is this that Jesus and John are telling us about?

    Many Reformed Theology books point to Ezekiel 36:26-27 and say something similar to this quote by Wayne Grudem (Systematic Theology, pg. 699 the chapter titled “Regeneration”): This sovereign work of God in regeneration was also PREDICTED in the prophecy of Ezekiel. Through him GOD PROMISED A TIME IN THE FUTURE when he would give new spiritual life to His people.”

    6. Do you agree with these Reformed writers? Is Ezekiel predicting regeneration in his prophecy? Did God promise A TIME IN THE FUTURE to give new spiritual life to His people?

    You guys have a wonderful website intending the following, KIU!

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