Biblical Doctrine, Plainly Stated

By William S. Plumer, 1875


I. The office work of Christ is commonly expressed by three titles, Prophet, Priest, King. This distinction of his work is not a human invention. It is made in the word of God. It helps us in forming clear ideas of the greatness of his salvation. In no other one mentioned in Scripture are all these offices found united. The high priests of Israel were both priests and prophets. David was both a king and a prophet. Melchizedec was both a king and a priest. But Christ is Prophet, Priest, and King.

II. Of old he was spoken of as a PROPHET. Moses said, "The Lord your God will raise up unto you a prophet from the midst of you, of your brethren, like unto me; unto him you shall hearken." And the Lord said: "I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto you, and will put my words in his mouth," etc. Deut. 18:15, 18. Jesus was a "prophet mighty in deed and word, before God, and all the people." Luke 24:19. He was eminently fitted to be a Counselor. Isaiah 9:6. He was the "one Shepherd" of the great prophet by the river Chebar. Ezek. 34:23. It was his Spirit who taught the Old Testament church. 1 Pet. 1:1. It is he who also teaches the Christian church, sending his ministers to that end. Eph. 4:8-13. When he came he spoke with authority: "I say unto you;" "I say unto you." He was the Author of grace and truth. John 1:17. It is he who opens the heart so that men attend to the things of salvation. Acts 16:14. He teaches effectually.

III. Christ is also a PRIEST, a great High Priest. He is made a priest by an oath, the oath of his Father. Psalm 110:4. To this office he was divinely called. "No man takes this honor unto himself, but he who is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made a high priest; but He who said unto him, You are my Son, to-day have I begotten you." Heb. 5:4, 5. Great exaltation was predicted of Christ as a Priest: "He shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne: and he shall be a Priest upon his throne." Zech. 6:13. For this great office Christ was wonderfully qualified: "Such a High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needs not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice first for his own sins, and then for the people's; for this he did once when he offered up himself." Heb. 7:26, 27.

IV. Under the law the high priest was required to offer sacrifices, to intercede, and to bless. So our High Priest by once offering himself has rendered forever unnecessary any other sacrifice for his people. "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." Heb. 9:28. "He is able also to save to the uttermost, all who come unto God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them." Heb. 7:25. His third work as priest is to bless his redeemed. This he will do in due time, for "unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Heb. 9:28. He has told us the very words he will use on that august occasion: "Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Matt. 25:34.

V. "This man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who has built the house has more honor than the house." Heb. 3:3. Upon this great exaltation of our High Priest is based the warning: "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." Heb. 3:12.

VI. Christ is also a KING. A great King, King of kings and Lord of lords. This is the name written on his vesture and on his thigh. Rev. 19:16. By the prophet David the Lord said, "I have set my King upon my holy hill of Zion." Psalm 2:6. When the wise men came from the East to Jerusalem, they said, "Where is he who was born King of the Jews?" Matt. 2:2. He is also called a King, fairer than the children of men, with grace poured into his lips, and his throne is said to be forever and ever. Psalm 45:1, 2, 6. In Solomon's Song he is also called a King. Cant. 1:4. One prophet within the space of a few verses calls him both Lord and Priest. Psalm 110:1-4.

VII. Such a Savior was demanded by our sad necessities. Our ignorance called for a great teacher. It was very gracious in God to promise, "All your children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children." Isaiah 54:13. Our guilt called for just such a glorious sacrifice as that of Calvary. "By one offering he has perfected forever them that are sanctified." Heb. 10:14. So we also needed a blessed king who should be able to subdue our corruptions. His people are willing in the day of his power, in the beauties of holiness. Psalm 110:3. Under him is fulfilled the promise to the church: "In righteousness shall you be established: you shall be far from oppression; for you shall not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near you." Isaiah 54:14.

VIII. Sometimes all the work of the Mediator is expressed under a single figure, that of a Shepherd. Psalm 23:1-4; John 10:1-18. Sometimes his whole work is expressed in a single verse, as where it is said that Christ Jesus is of God "made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." 1 Cor. 1:30.

IX. Though we distinguish between the offices of Christ, they are never separated. He is always Prophet, always Priest, and always King, and will be so forever. So say the Scriptures: "The Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters." Rev. 7:17. There is the prophetic office of Christ executed to his people long after their conflicts on earth are ended. "You are a Priest forever," says the oath of God in Psalm 110:4. And Paul says that he is a Priest, "after the power of an endless life," and "that this man, because he continues ever, has an unchangeable priesthood." Heb. 7:16, 24. Nor is there the least change in his character and purposes. His resurrection and ascension to heaven made a great change in his state so that he can no longer be spit upon, nor crowned with thorns, nor crucified, nor buried. But in his nature and character he is still "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever." Heb. 13:8. His kingly office is alike perpetual: "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of justice. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; this is why God, Your God, has anointed You, rather than Your companions, with the oil of joy. And: In the beginning, Lord, You established the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands; they will perish, but You remain. They will all wear out like clothing; You will roll them up like a cloak, and they will be changed like a robe. But You are the same, and Your years will never end." Hebrews 1:8-12. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.