In his modern classic, The Cross of Christ, John Stott begins his consideration of Christ’s crucifixion by outlining all the times Jesus speaks of his impending death. For Christ, his earthly mission focused not on his teaching, his healing, nor his ruling; his singular focus was on his sacrifice and his atonement for sin. He knew this and as we remember Christ’s death and resurrection this week, it is good for us to know the same.
In the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) we find at least nine places where Jesus speaks about his death. In John’s Gospel, we find seven more statements that describe the hour of his death. In all, these passages tell us a great deal about what Jesus’s death accomplished and how our Savior understand the purposes of his crucifixion. Following Stott’s outline (see pp. 25–32), let’s consider what Christ says about his death in the Synoptic Gospels. Perhaps, if time permits, we will return to John’s Gospel. Continue reading
Over the course of 2018–19 I taught through the book of Hebrews at our church on Tuesday Nights. You can find the audio and notes below.
My approach: With an interest in Christ’s priesthood as the fulfillment of the whole Bible, and with a conviction that Hebrews models for us how to interpret the Old Testament, I attempted to show how Jesus is the Son of God and Our Glorious High Priest. At the same time, as the title of my previous series on the priesthood suggests, I believe the book also shows how new covenant believers become a family of priests in the kingdom Christ is bringing.
For those who read the whole book of Hebrews, you will notice that what is said of Christ (sonship, priesthood, and kingship) in Hebrews 1 is applied to all those in Christ in Hebrews 12–13. In short, Hebrews teaches us how God makes his people a family of royal priests. Often this emphasis on union in Christ with respect to the priesthood is not appreciated, but I believe a faithful reading of the book demonstrates how Christ is the great hight priest and how all those in him become new covenant Levites, so to speak.
One last note, I also attempted to show throughout much of the book how the literary structure is seen in chiastic structures. I am sure I haven’t been right in every case and that I’ve missed plenty, but in the notes you can at least see my attempt at putting the book together. If you have time, and especially if you disagree with a literary structure, let me know. I’d love to see how you put the book together.
All in all, few books in the Bible—maybe no book in the Bible—is more resplendent in its glory of Christ and his royal priesthood. Our class delighted in this truth throughout the year and found much personal encouragement in Hebrews. May you do the same. And may these notes help you in that journey.
Soli Deo Gloria, ds
Our Glorious High Priest: 24 Audio Lessons on Hebrews
- Hebrews Overview [audio, notes]
- Hebrews 1:1–4 [audio, notes ]
- Hebrews 1:5–2:4 [audio, notes ]
- Hebrews 2:5–18 [audio, notes]
- Hebrews 3:1–6 [audio, notes ]
- Hebrews 3:7–19 [audio, notes]
- Hebrews 4:1–13 [audio, notes]
- Hebrews 4:14–5:10 [audio, notes]
- Hebrews 5:11–6:12 [audio, notes]
- Hebrews 6:13–20 [audio, notes]
- Hebrews 7:1–10 [audio, notes] – Guest Teacher (Jonathan Matías)
- Hebrews 7:11-28 [audio]
- Hebrews 8:1-13 [audio, notes]
- Hebrews 8:7–13 [audio, notes]
- Hebrews 9:1–10 [audio, notes]
- Hebrews 9:11–22 [audio, notes]
- Hebrews 9:23–28 [audio, notes]
- Hebrews 10:1–18 [audio, notes]
- Hebrews 10:19–25 [audio, notes]
- Hebrews 10:26–39 [audio, notes]
- Hebrews 11:1–40 [audio, notes]
- Hebrews 12:1–17 [audio, notes]
- Hebrews 12:18–29 [audio] – Guest Teacher (Ron Comoglio)
- Hebrews 13:1–21 [audio, notes]
It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
— Hebrews 2:6–9 —
The key idea in Hebrews is priesthood. However, I believe sonship is equally important to understanding the flow of the book, not to mention the nature of Christ’s priesthood. In other words, Jesus is a greater priest because he is a greater son (see 4:14; 7:28).
Making a similar point, B. B. Warfield once commented on Hebrews 2:6–9:
The emphasis is upon the completeness of the identification of the Son of God with the sons of men . . . The perfection of His identification with us consisted just in this, that He did not . . . assume merely the appearance of man or even merely that position and destiny of man, but the reality of humanity. (The Power of God Unto Salvation, 5, 10; cited in Zaspel, The Theology of B.B. Warfield, 256).
Highlighting the personal nature of Christ’s union with his people, Warfield touches on the very weakness of the priesthood of Aaron. And in so doing, he highlights three ways Christ’s priesthood is greater than that of Aaron. Continue reading
The angel of the Lord. A satanic accuser in the throne room of God. A priest with dirty clothes. The promise of a coming Messiah. And a front row seat to God’s plan of redemption. On Sunday we considered all of these items, as they appear together in Zechariah 3.
Finishing up our series on the priesthood, we saw in Sunday’s sermon how our lives fit into the incredible storyline of the priesthood. From Zechariah 3, in particular, we learned how God restored the priesthood after the exile, which served as “sign” (v. 8) for a greater priesthood to come.
If you want to understand how the priesthood moved from the Old Testament to the New, Zechariah is an important book. And this sermon will help you understand that book and how Joshua the high priest foreshadowed the coming of a greater Joshua and his friends.
You can listen to the sermon online. Response questions are below along with a few resources on Zechariah and the priesthood. Continue reading
This week the Evangelical Theological Society is meeting in Denver, Colorado. And this morning I am presenting a paper entitled: “A Family of Royal Priests: Why the Priesthood of Believers Must Be In Christ”
The topic of priesthood is one that has long captured my attention. It was the subject of my dissertation. Next year, I am planning to publish a book on the subject with Crossway, in their Short Studies in Biblical Theology series. And last year, I read and reviewed Andrew Malone’s book God’s Mediators: A Biblical Theology of the Priesthood.
In that book, Malone makes the case that the priesthood of believers is not derived from the high priesthood of Christ. This view, which Malone argues for with surprising vehemence, divides Christ from his covenant people, at least with respect to the priesthood. It does not attend to the way Scripture explains the “making of priests,” nor does it do justice to many passages that conjoin the priesthood Christ with his kingdom of priests.
So in response to Malone, I wrote this paper, to make a theological and exegetical case for the unified priesthood of Christ and his people. It’s not short, but if you read it, I’d love to know your thoughts.
Soli Deo Gloria, ds
I am __________.
In individualistic cultures, these words are usually filled with various accomplishments, activities, or vocations. I am a musician. I am a doctor. I am a (recovering) alcoholic. However, in more communal cultures, this sentence is more likely completed with relational predicates. I am a son. I am a mother. I am a husband.
Of course, studies that have employed this fill-in-the-blank test have only produced general trends. Nevertheless, it is interesting to consider what words you use to introduce yourself. Are you first and foremost defined by what you do? Or by who you are with? Or is it some combination of the two?
This Sunday we will again consider the priesthood in Israel and how the family vocation of guarding the temple defined the Levites. At the same time, we will see how the events of their history inform the backstory to our own priestly calling. As Isaiah 66:21 says of the nations who will come to Christ in the new creation: “Some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites.”
Indeed, for those in Christ we find that we both have family and a vocation that fills in the blanks of our life and gives us both redemption and service in God’s kingdom. Like the Levites given to the priest to serve God in his house (Num. 8:19), we too are servants given to Christ, who in turn has given us to the church (Eph. 4:8, 11–12).
Therefore, learning the history of the Levites is not just learning someone else’s family history. If you are in Christ, it is your family history, not to mention a key part in how God has brought redemption to the world.
This week’s sermon can be heard online. Response questions are below, as additional resources.
Soli Deo Gloria, ds Continue reading
Last week we celebrated the Reformation Day (October 31) and the recovery of the gospel brought about by men and women like Martin Luther and Katherine von Bora. Both of these Reformers fled the monastic life in order to follow Christ. Yet, in departing the Roman Catholic system of priesthood, they did not abandon the priesthood of Christ nor the priesthood of believers.
In fact, Martin Luther was one of the most prolific exponents of the biblical teaching that all followers of Christs are saints—a priesthood by faith in Jesus Christ. Thus, in a very real sense any Protestant view of the Bible that denies the place of priesthood actually denies the very gospel which the Reformation recovered. Jesus Christ is our great high priest, one whose sacrifice for sin and priestly intercession makes faith possible.
Thinking again, therefore, about what Scripture says about priesthood, we considered in Sunday’s sermon the necessity of a high priest, and what means that Jesus is our great high priest. Going back to Exodus 28–30, we considered the original purpose of the high priest in Israel and how Jesus came to both fulfill and exceed those original expectations.
If the priesthood is something you care about, or if its something you don’t care about, this sermon is for you. You can listen to it online. Response questions are below as are a few additional resources. Continue reading
Are you a royal priest? How do you know? What is a kingdom of priests? And how does that really apply today? Is this title for individuals? Or should it be a community identity?
Many questions swirl around the biblical idea of priesthood. And on Sunday we considered Peter’s words to the church: “You are a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). In examining his words, we learned that they go back to Exodus 19:6 and come in the context of worship on the mountain God.
By examining Exodus 19:6, therefore, in its original context and comparing it to 1 Peter 2, we were able to learn how God makes a priestly people, what a kingdom of priests do, and how this title of royal priesthood applies to us today.
You can listen to the sermon online. Discussion questions and additional resources can be found below. Continue reading
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, a people for his own possession,
that you may proclaim the excellencies of him
who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
— 1 Peter 2:9 —
From Genesis to Revelation, the themes of priesthood and kingship overlap and intertwine in the history of redemption. In this new sermon series we are examining how royal priesthood applies to Jesus, the church, and our identity in Christ.
In this first sermon, we consider how Adam and Eve were created in God’s image to be royal priests serving and worshiping in the Garden of Eden. You can read about the background to this sermon series here and listen to the sermon online here. Response questions and Additional Resources can be found below. Continue reading
In 2013 I finished my dissertation, A Biblical-Theological Investigation of Christ’s Priesthood and Covenant Mediation with Respect to the Extent of the Atonement. While the theological question it answered pertained to the extent of the atonement, the bulk of its pages (nearly 400 of them) considered a biblical typology of priesthood from Genesis to Revelation. In subsequent years, I have written a occasionally on the subject.
But this year marks the first time I am picking up pen to publish on the subject. Under the banner of “If the Lord wills,” I have three (maybe four) writing assignments in the next 12 months.
- First, in the next edition of the SBJT, I am writing on Exodus 19:4–6 and how this key passage transforms the priesthood from a patriarchal assignment of firstborn sons to a legislated position in the nation of Israel.
- Then, at ETS I am offering a paper called “A Family of Royal Priests: Why the Priesthood of Believers Must Be ‘In Christ.'” This paper will engage with Andrew Malone’s fine work on the priesthood, God’s Mediators. In my review of his book, I suggested a weakness regarding his division of Christ’s priesthood and the new covenant priesthood of believers. In this paper, I will attempt to show how the priesthood of believers is united to Christ through the believers participation in the new covenant and identity in Christ. If you are at ETS this year, come join me for the paper.
- Third, I hope to submit an article to an undecided journal on what “mediator” (mesites) means in the book of Hebrews. This is something I wrote up a few years ago, but one that seems to fill a gap in the discussion about priesthood and mediation. If you know of any journals that would be interested in such a article, let me know :-)
- Fourth, I am under contract with Crossway to publish a book on the biblical theology of the priesthood in 2019. This book will fall in the Short Studies in Biblical Theology series. In preparation for that book, I am working on the three aforementioned articles. As it goes, my hope is to take the technical work in these previous studies to produce a more popular book on the priesthood.
All in all, I share these things to solicit prayer for these works and to mention that I will probably have an increasing number of blog posts on the priesthood in the next 9–12 months. Should you want to dialogue on this subject, please free to engage with these posts. The best theology and exegesis is done in community and I welcome any questions or insights you have on the subject.
Soli Deo Gloria, ds
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