The Threefold Office of Christ – Part 16

The three offices are all highlighted in the book of Hebrews. The opening verses indicate that not only had there arisen a prophet like Moses, but that the Son was a prophet greater than Moses. The Lord knew Moses face to face, but this prophet is characterized as “a Son” (Heb. 1:2). Furthermore, though Moses interacted with God face to face,* and even saw his glory, the Son “is the radiance of the glory of God.” The people of Israel asked for Moses to be their prophet-mediator because they were afraid to approach God directly (Ex. 20:18-21; Deut. 5:22-27; 18:15-16), but the Son is both Mediator and God. Hebrews also teaches Christ was prophet in his earthly ministry by declaring the message of salvation. Yet the prophet is not merely a preacher of new revelation from God. The prophet also mediated the covenant. Moses mediated the Old Covenant, but Christ mediates a better covenant (Heb. 8:6) (See Horton, Lord and Servant, 210f.).

Hebrews, more than any other book expounds the priestly work of Christ. His suffering and death are mentioned in the early chapters (Heb. 1:3; 2:9, 14-15). Hebrews 2:17 introduces the idea that Christ is “a merciful and faithful high priest.” This is expanded upon in the following chapters. Hebrews five and six provide an introductory exposition of Christ as High Priest. Hebrews 7:1-10 makes the case that Jesus is a priest after the order of Melchizedek and that as such He is superior to the Levitical priests. The further significance of the emergence of Christ as the Melchizedekian Priest is unpacked in 7:11-28: the Mosaic law is set aside (7:18-19), a better covenant is instituted (7:22), and Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice fulfilled and replaced the repetitious sacrifices of the Levitical system. The following chapters demonstrate that Christ’s sacrifice fulfilled and replaced the Levitical sacrifices because he accomplished what those sacrifices could not. Hebrews 10:18 is the last word of exposition in the author’s argument that Christ is the superior High Priest: “Where there is forgiveness of [sins], there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.” Jesus is the absolute fulfillment of the entire Old Testament priestly system.

Because of the Son’s priestly ministry, he is enthroned and crowned (Heb. 1:3; 2:9). Once again appeal is made to Psalm 2:7. His successful sacrifice for sin resulted in his enthronement with the words promised to the Davidic king upon his ascension. Multiple Old Testament quotations establishing the kingship of Jesus follow. The chain of quotations climaxes with Psalm 110:1, emphasizing once again the Davidic nature of Jesus’ rule. Hebrews 2:5-9, by quoting Psalm 8:4-6, links this Davidic rule back to Adam’s dominion. This dominion was corrupted by the fall, and even of Christ, the passage says, “At present we do not yet see everything in subjection to him” (Heb. 2:8; This harmonizes with Psalm 110:1 which teaches that during the Messiah’s reign enemies will need to be subdued). But the Davidic Messiah is the Second Adam who will restore the right dominion of Man to the new earth (Heb. 2:5; 1 Cor. 15:22ff.)

*Douglas Stuart describes the significance of “face to face,” “The expression ‘face to face’ (פָּנִים אֶל־פָּנִים) is an idiom. It does not mean ‘looking at each other’ or the like as if Moses actually saw God when Moses stood in the ‘tent of meeting’ and Yahweh stood in front of it in the form of the glory cloud. (This could hardly be so in light of the explicit statement of God later in v. 20, ‘You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.’) Its sense is more that of the Eng. expression ‘up close and personal.’ The Eng. idiom ‘person to person’ is relatively similar as well (because it does not imply visual perception), and the idiom ‘heart to heart’ is also analogous (because, likewise, it emphasizes the quality of intimacy of the conversation rather than any visual perception).” Douglas K. Stuart, Exodus, New American Commentary, ed. E. Ray Clendenen (Nashville: B&H, 2006), 699, n. 111.

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