Priesthood of Believers

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Biblical Significance

1 Peter 2:5 Ye [Christians] also, as lively stones, are built up a Spiritual House, a Holy Priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:9-10 But ye are a chosen generation, a Royal Priesthood, an Holy Nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him [Jesus Christ] who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now [Christians] the people of God: which [while unsaved] had not obtained mercy, but now [saved] have obtained mercy.

Romans 12:1 I urge you brethren by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

Theological Issues of the Reformation

The theology of the Reformers departed from the Roman Catholic Church primarily on the basis of three great principles:

• Sole authority of Scripture

• Justification by faith alone

• Priesthood of the believer

by Scripture alone (Sola Scriptura)

Sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone) was one of the watchwords of the Reformation. This doctrine maintains that Scripture, as contained in the Bible, is the only authority for the Christian in matters of faith, life and conduct. The teachings and traditions of the church are to be completely subordinate to the Scriptures. Roman Catholicism, on the other hand, holds Scripture and Tradition to be of the same inspired Deposit of Faith.

by faith alone (Sola Fide)

Sola Fide (by faith alone) was the other watchword of the Reformation. This doctrine maintains that we are justified before God (and thus saved) by faith alone, not by anything we do, not by anything the church does for us, and not by faith plus anything else. It was also recognized by the early Reformers that Sola Fide is not rightly understood until it is seen as anchored in the broader principle of Sola Gratia, by grace alone. Hence the Reformers were calling the church back to the basic teaching of Scripture where the apostle Paul states that we are "saved by grace through faith and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God," Eph. 2:8.

Priesthood of all believers - 'one priesthood of believers' (Sola Sacerdos)

The third great principle of the Reformation was the priesthood of all believers. The Scriptures teach that believers are a "holy priesthood," 1 Pet. 2:5. All believers are priests before God through our great high priest Jesus Christ. "There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus," 1 Tim. 2:5. As believers, we all have direct access to God through Christ, there is no necessity for an earthly mediator. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox concept of the priesthood was seen as having no warrant in Scripture, viewed as a perversion and mis-application of the Old Testament Aaronic or Levitical priesthood [the O.T. having been successfully accomplished, completed and fulfilled in the bringing in and establishing of the Messiah, Jesus Christ and His N.T.] which was clearly fulfilled in Christ and done away with by the New Testament.


The Believer's Priesthood

1st Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a Spiritual House, a Holy Priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

The main difference between the Levitical Priesthood of the Old Testament and the Royal Priesthood of the New Testament is that the Levitical Priesthood is physical in nature while the Royal Priesthood is Spiritual in nature otherwise the two priesthoods are nearly identical in that the physical sacrifices the Levitical Priests offered up to God are actually models and types of the Spiritual sacrifices that we now offer up to God.

Hebrews 8:4-6 For if He (Jesus) were on earth, He should not be a Priest, seeing that there are priests (Levitical) that offer gifts according to the law: Who (Levitical Priests) serve unto the Example and Shadow of Heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the Tabernacle: for, See, saith He (God), that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount. But now hath He (Jesus) obtained [after the Resurrection] a more excellent (than the Levitical) Ministry, by how much also He is the Mediator of a Better (New) Covenant, which was established upon better (blood of Jesus and the Resurrection of Jesus) promises.

Jesus instructed that the entire teaching of the Old Testament Law and of the Prophets is not physical but is Spiritual to direct mankind into a relationship of loving God and of loving our fellow neighbor.

Matthew 22:36-40 Master, which is the great commandment in the Law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt Love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

This is now fulfilled in the Royal Law of the New Testament's Royal Priesthood.

James 2:8 If ye fulfill the Royal Law according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well:
1st Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a Royal Priesthood for God's own possession.

Both Priesthoods require a High Priest and for the Royal Priesthood it is Jesus that is the High Priest as Jesus occupies All three offices of King, Priest and Prophet and therefore His Priesthood derives the name of "Royal" Kingly Priesthood.

Hebrews 9:11-12 But Christ being come a High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once [to stay] into the Holy Place, having obtained Eternal Redemption for us.

Let's look at the significance of the Old Testament (Levitical) Priesthood [and the New Testament (Melchisedec) Priesthood] to help determine our part in God's Royal Spiritual Priesthood.

Source: The Royal Priesthood