Chapter 39: SHE PRACTICES
THE PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS
by Hulen L. Jackson
I'm a priest. You're a priest.
We're all priests in God's kingdom. Christ alone is the high priest. So the
Bible teaches plainly. From the early apostasy of the New Testament church into
the Greek and Roman Catholic churches came the separation of Christians into
clergy and laity. The apostolic church did not believe nor practice such. From
this departure came the teaching of Protestant bodies about "ordained preachers"
who alone can serve the "sacraments" of the church to the laity, and the belief
that the front of the church building where the communion table is kept becomes
the "altar" where the ordained preacher or priest alone can serve communion. To
go back to simple New Testament teaching and practice will eliminate all of this
WHAT IS A PRIEST?
The word translated "priest" in
the New Testament means prince or servant but throughout the Bible a priest can
not be separated from an altar or from the offering of sacrifices. A prophet
served God for the people while a priest served the people in offering their
gifts before God. The fathers did so in the Patriarchal age; the Levites did so
in the Jewish age, and all Christians today as priests offer to God gifts and
sacrifices. It can easily be proved from the New and the Old Testaments that God
has never allowed anyone to offer sacrifices save a priest in any age. Every
Christian today, as a priest before God, brings his offerings and sacrifices
before the Father.
OUR PRIESTHOOD TODAY AS THE
Even Jesus' high priesthood is
not discussed in the New Testament until you come to the book of Hebrews and
there the writer exalts him as our one and only and ever- lasting high priest in
heaven serving us who are on earth. We will never have or need another. He has
already given before God the one sacrifice for our sins once for all. But, our
own priesthood is hardly mentioned even in Hebrews; you have to come to the
writings of Peter and John to get such instructions. Hebrews 10:22 is oft
considered a reference, based upon the Old Testament picture, to our priesthood
today, serving the True Tabernacle, the church. Study closely the following
"Through him then let us offer
up a sacrifice of praise to God continuously, that is, the fruit of lips which
make confession to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for
with such sacrifices God is well pleased." This must be understood with the
assumption that all Christians to whom he is writing are priests and therefore
have the right to bring such sacrifices before God's altar in heaven. Whether
the fruit here is singing or praying, I could not do so if I were not a priest.
Vincent in his word studies of the News Testament explains that "offer up" in
this passage actually means "bring up to the altar." A Christian does just that
when he praises God either in song or in prayer.
1 Peter 2:5-9
Peter is writing to the
dispersed elect-Christians in this letter and not just to apostles. In verse 5
Peter calls us "a holy priesthood" and also a "spiritual house," suggesting that
Christians today are separated (holy) from the world and thus constitute not
only a true temple but are the priests in that very temple of God. Then in verse
9 he adds the thought that we are also a "royal priesthood" exalting our
spiritual state and relationship with God, calling us regal or kingly priests.
And, as such in God's house today, we "bring up to the altar" which is in
heaven, spiritual or living sacrifices. Only priests can do so. As a people for
God's own possession, we all as priests approach the Father through our High
Priest, Jesus the Christ (1 Timothy 2:5).
John then adds in this verse
the thought that Christ hath made us to be a "kingdom, to be priests unto his
God and Father." Collectively we are his kingdom and individually we are priests
in that kingdom. Yes, even John believed and taught that we are kingly or royal
priests before God. Remember John wrote mainly to the seven churches of Asia -
not to just a select clergy in those churches. In Revelation 5:10 John repeats
virtually the same thought about us, saying that Jesus purchased out of every
tribe and nation a people and made them into a kingdom of priests. That's who
and what we are today.
"I beseech you therefore,
brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice,
holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service." Note the words:
brethren, sacrifice, spiritual service . Brethren (not just a select group
called a clergy) were directed to offer or present sacrifices in spiritual
service unto God. Recalling that only priests can offer sacrifices, this
statement Paul makes implies necessarily that brethren are priests and thus can
obey this command. Thank God daily that you are a priest and do not have to go
through any man on earth to contact God or to offer your sacrifices, offerings
and gifts unto the Father. What are some of these sacrifices we offer as
From Burton Coffman's fine
commentary on 1 Peter (pages 96-98) may I list the following:
(a) Our faith is our sacrifice.
(b) The love of God is our
(c) Our repentance is our
(d) Our confession of faith in
Christ is a sacrifice.
(e) Our baptism into Christ is
(f) Our praise of God is our
(g) Our contributions are our
(h) Our songs are our
(i) Our prayers are our
(j) The whole life of honor and
love on the part of devoted Christians is their sacrifice.
With such sacrifices God is
well pleased and they are acceptable through Jesus Christ our Lord. I can offer
up; you can offer up; we all can offer up spiritual sacrifices. Do so
What is the origin of the
clergy-laity classes found in most churches?
Who can serve as a priest in
God's church today?
What are the duties of a
Who is the high-priest of the
According to Paul, through whom
must we offer our worship?
(1 Timothy 2:5).
Discuss the sacrifices
Christians are to offer God.