A Voice from the Past: Priest Or Prophet -- By: W. H. Griffith Thomas
JOTGES 9:1 (Spring 96) p. 59
A Voice from the Past:
Priest Or Propheta
In the Bible the fact of a ministry is clearly recorded. In the OT the ministry consists chiefly of two orders or classes of men—the priests and the prophets—each with its own sphere more or less clearly defined, and with a work of great importance and absolute necessity, because of divine appointment.
The essence of the priesthood was the representation of man to God; the essence of the prophetic office was the representation of God to man. Anything else done by a priest or prophet was accidental and additional, and not a necessary part of his office. The essential work of the priest was expressed in sacrifice and intercession, and may be summed up in the word mediator. The essential work of the prophet was expressed in revelation and instruction, and may be summed up in the word ambassador. The priesthood meant propitiation, and the prophetic office meant revelation. The priest was concerned with the way of man to God; the prophet with the will of God to man. The two offices were thus
JOTGES 9:1 (Spring 96) p. 60
complementary, and together they fulfilled the requirements of the relationship between God and man.
II. New Testament Silence on a Class of Believers as Priests
The ministry of the NT is equally clear and unequivocal, but with certain great and notable differences. In the NT there is absolutely nothing about a special order or class of men called priests. The only priesthood, apart from the Lord’s priestly work, is the spiritual priesthood of all believers. There is, however, much that answers to the essential ministry of the OT prophet, but with the difference that ministry in the NT is not confined to any one class of believers: it is the privilege and duty of all. There are most assuredly diversities of gifts in that ministry, but ministry generally and of some kind is for all. Indeed, the various gifts are for the express purpose of “equipping the saints for their work of ministering” (Eph 4:12, Greek).
Whether, then, one thinks of the ministry of the priest or of the prophet, it is clear from the NT that there is no class of believers to which spiritual functions belong exclusively as of absolute right and divine appointment. What is required for “decency and order” is quite another question, and though important and essential, is assuredly secondary to the above-named fundamental principle of the NT.
From these differences between the OT and NT, it is ...
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