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.

Faults. 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.

Better ministry needed. Thus, if sin was to be actually taken away, the time had to come when a better priesthood would offer a better sacrifice.  Only the sacrifice of One whose blood can take away sin, that of Christ Jesus the Lamb of God (Jn 1:29), our true High Priest, is sufficient. 

2.2 Christ’s better Priesthood

Christ, who was of the line of David (Je 23:5,6; Mt 1:1), who was of the tribe of Judah, 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. 

In the time of Abraham, Melchisedec was King of Salem (peace), King of Righteousness, and Priest of God (He 7:1,2).

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. 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.

We are told that Melchisedec was a man (He 7:4), which confirms he could not have been literally without parentage, without origin, and without end - thus these things have a deeper purpose: to teach us about the Priesthood of Christ, as follows. 

Without father, without mother….

The expression is found outside of the Bible in an ancient Sumerian inscription on a clay tablet.  It was written by the Sumerian king Urukagina, c2350 BC, who wrote it of himself. 

Urukagina, who was not a Sumerian, usurped the Sumerian throne, replacing the oppressive king Lugalanda. He reformed the Sumerian law code, introducing many freedoms.  

Urukagina wrote the expression (‘without father, without mother…’) of himself to confirm he was not of Sumerian progeny, and thus he was not bound by the oppressive laws of the previous Sumerian kings - as a result Urukagina's kingship was superior. 

Note. Urukagina’s reforms can be viewed in Wikipedia.

Christ and the expression, ‘without father, without mother…’

Paul applies the expression to Christ to emphasize that Christ, who had no connection with Aaron’s line, is not subject to the restrictions of the earthly priesthood - Christ is a new and living way (He 10:20).

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. 

Just as Melchisadec was superior to Aaron, Christ’s Priesthood is superior to Aaron’s because, like Melchisadec:

- Christ is both King and Priest of God (the earthly priests were not kings)

- Christ is King of Peace and King of Righteousness

Additionally, and unlike Melchisedec, Christ actually has no beginning, and Christ actually 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. 

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 ‘Almighty God with us’ (Mt 1:23 - see study: 'The Triune God',4) - He was the Creator (Jn 1:1,3; Ep 3:9; Col 1:16) paying the price of the sin of those He created. 

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.  

Purchased with His Blood.  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 boldly 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 cleansing sacrifice for the final atonement for the nation. 

After His ascension, Christ entered the Heavenly Sanctuary to conduct His true Ministry, which is discussed at length in studies: ‘The Sanctuary in Heaven’,3, and ‘The Cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary: fitting the redeemed for Heaven’. 

The two-phase ministry in the earthly Sanctuary (the 'Daily' and the annual) was based upon the blood of animals, while Christ's true Ministry is based upon His own Blood.  Thus Christ's Ministry in Heaven could not begin until after He had voluntarily (Jn 10:17,18) shed His blood upon the Cross.

As the earthly Sanctuary was a depiction of the Sanctuary in Heaven we know that Christ's Ministry in Heaven is composed of two phases.

Two phases

Thus, upon His ascension, Christ entered the Holy in Heaven to conduct His ‘Daily’ ministry for all mankind, pleading with all to repent, and ministering continually to His faithful.  

This continued until the time came for Christ to enter upon the final phase of His saving ministry in the Most Holy in Heaven.  This event took place in 1844 - see study: ‘The 2300 days prophecy’. 

At this moment, Christ is cleansing the Most Holy in Heaven of the sin of the repentant, fitting them for Heaven - see study: ‘The cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary’.  Once the cleansing is completed, Christ will come in glory to claim His own.

Christ’s ministry for sinners is all-encompassing and complete - He is with the repentant every step through this sinful world, until He rescues them at His coming.

3.2 Christ our one and only Saviour

We have such a great High Priest who is able to save ‘to the uttermost’ (1Th 2:16; He 7:25). The faithful, therefore 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 who ministers now for us in Heaven.

Martin Luther.  The efficacy of Christ’s Atonement inspired Martin Luther to proclaim: 

“If I examine myself I find enough unholiness to shock me. But when I look at Christ in me I find that I am altogether holy”

Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians,1535

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