In the second week of Christ and the Cross at CCBCY we looked at how the roles of Israel’s prophet, priest, and king are ultimately exceeded and fulfilled in Christ. Using the book of Hebrews as a launching pad, we compared and contrasted Jesus to Moses (the prototype prophet), to the Levitical sacrificial system (including Priesthood, Sacrifice, Law, and Covenant), and to Israel’s kings, particularly David. In each of these offices we saw hints of inherent incompleteness and prophetic foreshadowing of Christ.
In this post I’d like to share a simple insight from Hebrews 1:1-3.
Prophet, Priest and King in Hebrews 1:1-3
Sometimes people are skeptical of the threefold office. Is it something nice that theologians just came up with on a rainy day? Does Scripture really present Christ explicitly as prophet, priest and king? While sometimes too much is made of the threefold office, I’d like to suggest that not only does Scripture contrast Christ with each of these roles, but in Hebrews 1:1-3, all three are pulled together in one place.
1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,
2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
Priest: Christ made “purification for sins” (Heb 1:3) and sat at God’s right hand, showing His work was complete. This is perhaps the easiest to notice and the rest of Hebrews unpacks the significance and superiority of Christ’s priesthood.
King: I see two connections here. In verse 2 Christ is “appointed the heir of all things”, and in verse 3, the author alludes to Psalm 110:1 in saying that Christ “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high”. As the eternal Son, Christ is sovereign over all creation, but in the history of His human life as the man Jesus, He was given universal kingly authority in His ascension (Dan 7:13-14).
Prophet: In verse 1 the author contrasts Christ with prophets. “God spoke to our fathers by the prophets”, but now He has spoken to us by His Son. The prophet was to speak for God, so naturally we should see Christ as a greater prophet here (Deut 18:15-22). There is a contrast in time, where other prophets spoke “long ago”, while Jesus spoke “in these last days”. It’s also significant that Christ is not called a prophet here. One may expect the passage to read “but in these last days He has spoken to us by a greater prophet”, instead He has spoken by His Son. This is significant. Jesus is not just a better prophet, or even the final prophet. Jesus is the very Son of God, and thus His revelation of God is far superior than a mere prophet. We don’t get a messenger, we get the Son.
So Christ truly is prophet, priest and king. The surprise is that He is the Son, not a mere prophet; He is the final sacrifice, the priest and the temple; and He is not just Israel’s greatest king, but the king of all creation!