Jesus In The Prophetic Tradition -- By: Richard A. Spencer

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 06:2 (Spring 1989)
Article: Jesus In The Prophetic Tradition
Author: Richard A. Spencer


Jesus In The Prophetic Tradition

Richard A. Spencer

Professor of New Testament,
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Over the years my library has grown by a little in a number of areas and by a lot in a few areas of special interest to me. The section that has grown most of all is on studies of Jesus and Christology. I am constantly awed by the depth, quality, and peculiarity of thought that we bring to the study of our Lord. Eduard Schweizer’s book Jesus has a chapter that speaks of both the job and the futility of such investigations: “Jesus: The Man Who Fits No Formula.”

Apart from modern studies that portray Jesus as a Pharisaic Jew, a Zealot, a wandering charismatic preacher, eschatological enthusiast, or super-salesman, the New Testament itself gives us a variety of portraits of Jesus. He was seen by some as a rabbi, by many as a teacher, and by others as a man who went about doing good or as a prophet. After the resurrection the fuller light of revelation opened the eyes of his followers to see more thoroughly that the life they had observed was the stage of an eternal, cosmic drama of redemption conducted before their very eyes and in their midst. And from hearts made wise by divine faith they declared him to be the Son of God, the Lamb of God, the Messiah, and even the Lord.

It is out of this blending of memories and traditions of Jesus the man and of Jesus Christ the resurrected Lord that our source material emerged. The Gospels are valuable as history, for they recall for us those human designations people applied to him. This is all the more miraculous, as the tendency for religious people is to enlarge on the astonishing, the “spiritual,” the “other-worldly,” and to diminish the realistic, the historical, the “this-worldy” (a problem Paul faced when he warned the Corinthians that the truly inspired person would never curse Jesus—1 Cor. 12:3). So, the Gospels offer us both the inspired Christological titles of Jesus, who is “more than a prophet,” and the historical recollections that he was a “prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people.”1 The present study attempts to focus on that particular aspect of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ, Jesus as prophet.

I. The “Office” of Jesus as Prophet

Since the time of the Reformers, it has been quite a regular feature of classical theology to consider the life of Jesus according to three “offices” of Christ: prophet, priest, and king. The system of offices attempted to define in an organized fashion what it was that God accomplished in the person of Jesus.

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