Christ is Prophet. Christ is Priest. Christ is King. This three-fold division of the mediatorial work of Jesus Christ has become traditional in Protestant theology. The offices declare the righteousness of God in Christ, the mediation of God for our salvation, and the sovereignty of God in the world.
One of the earliest clear references to the offices in the patristic literature occurs in Eusebius (though the work of Christ in each role was evident to the Church from apostolic days): “We have also received the tradition that some of the prophets themselves had by anointing already become Christs in type, seeing that they all refer to the true Christ, the divine and heavenly Logos, of the world the only High Priest, of all creation the only king, of the prophets the only archprophet of the Father. The proof of this is that no one of those symbolically anointed of old, whether priests or kings or prophets, obtained such power of divine virtue as our Saviour and Lord, Jesus, the only real Christ, has exhibited … that until this present day he is honoured by his worshippers throughout the world as king, wondered at more than a prophet, and glorified as the true and only High Priest of God …” (Historia Ecclesiastica, I.3).
John Calvin made the offices a point of special attention in The Institutes where his discussion though brief is characteristically lucid (II, 15). He remarks that while the concept was not unknown to the papists of his time, they used it frigidly without the accompanying knowledge of the end of the offices nor their use in the exposition of the Gospel. Succeeding theologians, especially of the Reformed tradition, have used it with varying emphasis. For example, Charles Hodge, A. H. Strong, and Louis Berkhof ...1
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