The Priesthood of Christ

List of Studies

1. Introduction

We see in study: ‘The Cross’,2 that on the Cross Christ made the once and for all true sacrifice for sin (He 7:27;9:28;10:12).  This qualified him to enter upon the next phase of His saving work: His Ministry in Heaven as our true High Priest, which is the subject of this study. 

2. The Priesthood of Christ

2.1 Earthly priesthood insufficient

The Aaronic High Priestly office was filled by many men over centuries, who offered the blood of bulls and goats as atonement for sin.  The Aaronic priesthood was also known as the Levitical priesthood because Aaron was of the tribe of Levi, and the succeeding High Priests had to be of Aaron’s line.

The Aaronic ministry had faults (He 8:7,8): the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sin (He 10:4), though it was deemed sufficient for the time.

However, if sin was to be actually taken away, the time had to come when a better priesthood would offer a better sacrifice for sin.

A better sacrifice could not be based on the blood of bulls and goats (which could never take away sin), but on blood that is sufficient to take away sin.  There is One only whose blood can take away sin: Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world  (Jn 1:29). 

Thus Christ (who was not of Aaron’s line, but of the line of David, who was of the tribe of Judah, see Matthew chapter 1) could not be a priest of the insufficient Aaronic line - He had to be a Priest of a better Priesthood, i.e. that of Melchisadec, Priest of God (He 7:1). 

2.2 Christ’s better Priesthood

In the time of Abraham, Melchisedec was King of Salem (peace), King of Righteousness, and Priest of God. 

Melchisedec was superior to Abraham because Abraham paid Melchisedec tithes (He 7:2,6) - thus because Aaron was a descendant of Abraham the priesthood of Melchisedec was superior to the Aaronic priesthood. 

Note. Although Melchisedec was superior to Abraham, Abraham did not worship Melchisedec.  Therefore Melchisedec was not Christ in human form, as some claim.  

He 7:1,3  For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God…

3  Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

As Melchisedec was a man (He 7:4), he could not have been literally without origin, without end and without parentage - these things are an expression of his importance, especially as he symbolizes the Priesthood of Christ (v3), to whom these things do apply.

He 6:20  … Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. 

He 7:17  For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. 

Christ’s Priesthood is superior to Aaron’s because He lives for ever to be an eternal atonement for sinners.

2.3 Christ’s better ministry

He 7:22-25  By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. 

23  And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: 

24  But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. 

25  Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. 

The earthly High Priest’s mediation was limited to the Sanctuary on Earth. Christ mediates now in the true Sanctuary in Heaven (He 4:14). 

Christ’s ministry is a better ministry because He is both the Sacrifice and the Mediator - the earthly High Priest was mediator only, who mediated with the blood of others (He 9:25).  Christ, on the other hand, mediated with His own blood (He 9:12; 13:12). 

The earthly High Priest, being a man, was able to mediate only for as long as he lived.  Christ, on the other hand, was ‘God with us’ (Mt 1:23) - He was the Creator (Jn 1:1,3; Ep 3:9; Col 1:16) paying the price of the sin of those He created. 

Thus Christ’s blood and His mediation are sufficient to save for all eternity - no successor is necessary.

3. Christ, Minister of the Sanctuary in Heaven

He 4:14-16  Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 

15  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 

16  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. 

Christ is our High Priest who mediates for us in Heaven.  He is a Minister who has experienced all that we have experienced, and is thus able to intercede for us with perfect understanding.  

Christ has purchased us with His own blood (1Co 6:20; 7:23) - we are bought with an infinite price so that we are not our own, we are Christ’s.  As such, where Christ goes, there His own go with Him, and so, in Him, they may enter now into the very presence of God.

3.1 The two phases of Christ’s Ministry

We see in study: ‘The Sanctuary on Earth’ that Christ’s Ministry is prefigured in the earthly Sanctuary, which consisted of the daily sacrifices for sin, and the once yearly sacrifice for the final atonement for the nation. 

After His ascension, Christ entered the Heavenly Sanctuary to conduct the two-phase ministry that was mirrored in the earthly Sanctuary.  Christ's two-phase ministry in Heaven is addressed in studies: ‘The Sanctuary in Heaven’ and ‘The cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary’.

3.2 Christ our one and only Saviour

Because we have such a great High Priest who is able to save ‘to the uttermost’ (1Th 2:16; He 7:25), the faithful may enter boldly into Heaven and find the saving Grace of God. There is no other way, no-one else whom we can call upon to save us (Ac 4:12).  

However, the one Saviour we do have cannot fail in His ministry. Thus we may have the utmost confidence in Him who died for our sakes, and ministers now for us in Heaven.

4. Summary

The Priesthood of Christ is God’s means of saving sinful mankind.  Christ is able to save completely because He is both Sacrifice and Mediator, presenting His own Blood as atonement for sin.  

By Him, we may enter into the very presence of God.  In Christ, God has done everything that is needed for our salvation.  Christ therefore cannot fail when He pleads for the repentant sinner.  Thus if we trust Christ, we may be assured of complete restoration to the Kingdom of Heaven. 

List of Studies