The Body Of Christ: Prophet, Priest Or King? -- By: Gerry Breshears

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 37:1 (Mar 1994)
Article: The Body Of Christ: Prophet, Priest Or King?
Author: Gerry Breshears

The Body Of Christ: Prophet, Priest Or King?

Gerry Breshears*

*Gerry Breshears, professor of theology at Western Seminary Portland, OR 97215, delivered this presidential address at the 45th annual meeting of ETS on November 18, 1993, in Tysons Corner, VA.

David Fisher has helped me to see that the flurry of ecclesial articles and books describe activity rather than define essence. Even theologians reflect on the Church more organizationally and functionally than ontologically and missiologically. We do word studies of qāhāl and ekklēsia, speak quickly of a few Biblical analogies, and move on to organization and ordinances of the Church. Our pragmatic preoccupation with the nitty-gritty running of the Church forces our ecclesiology to suffer from a lack of transcendence.1 We must reflect first on the essence of the Church. The Church is essence taking form.

I propose to begin the process by defining the essence of the Church in terms of carrying on the mission of Jesus. I will develop this following the paradigm of the offices Jesus fulfilled while he was on earth. The preliminary level of my thinking means that this will be more an agenda with examples than a finished product.

I. The Heart Of The Church

The key concept of the Church is that it is a Spirit-led people of God who carry out Christ’s mission in the world. It works because he is present. Matthew’s gospel begins (1:18) and ends (28:20) with the presence of Christ. The people who make up the Church are the concretely living body of Christ, which is his person turned outward in action. We are the temple where the risen and living Lord dwells. The Holy Spirit mediates the presence and power of the Lord Jesus Christ to his corporate people who make up his body, the Church. His Spirit empowers his body to continue his mission to reveal his Father and redeem the world.

Jesus tells the apostles, “As the Father has sent me, so send I you” (John 20:21). The same theme emerges in all the commissioning passages. He has been perfectly obedient to the Father who sent him and poured out the Spirit upon him (John 1:32; 3:34; 4:34; 5:19; 6:27; 10:36; 17:4). We who are children of God, empowered ...

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