Priests

The establishment of a human priesthood, as a class distinct from all other Christians, is a denial of the truth of Christianity. According to the New Testament, all Christians are priests: they offer prayer and praise to God

 

Summary of a paper written by John Nelson Darby entitiled, ‘Who is a Priest and What is a Priest?’   It is published in Collected Writings Volume 10 (Doctrinal 3) page 209.

 

The establishment of a human priesthood, as a class distinct from all other Christians, is a denial of the truth of Christianity.  According to the New Testament, all Christians are priests: they offer prayer and praise to God..

In the New Testament we have:

  1. Jewish priests
  2. The pagan priest of Jupiter
  3. Melchisedec (contemporary with Abraham)
  4. Christ Himself as the Great High Priest

There are absolutely no references to certain Christians having the distinction of being priests.  Rather all Christians are priests. A distinct class of priests among Christians on earth is totally foreign to the New Testament.  All Christians belong to a holy and royal priesthood – anything else is false and unscriptural.

See the following scriptures:

  1. Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5)
  2. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light (1 Peter 2:9)
  3. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests to God and his Father (Rev 1:5-6)
  4. By him [Jesus] therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving praise to his name (Heb 13:15) [The word ‘priest’ is not used here, but only priests offer sacrifices].

Christ is the Great High Priest; all Christians are priests.  In the old system priests offered gifts and sacrifices for sins on behalf of the people who were not allowed to approach the altar and do so.  This was, of course, before Christ’s own sacrifice on the cross.  Christianity is founded on the perfect sacrifice of Christ, the value and efficacy of which are eternal.  Hebrews emphasises that, as Christ’s work was once and for all, there cannot remain any further sacrifice for sins (see Heb 10:26).

In the Jewish tabernacle there were two veils.  Common people could enter neither.  Priests could enter the first to offer incense, but the veil into the Holy of Holies, the high priest entered alone once a year, with the blood of propitiation to put upon the mercy seat.  Thus God was hidden within the veil.  The ordinary worshipper could not approach God directly to offer his gifts or sacrifices. The priest received the them, and he offered them.  God dwelt in thick darkness.

Christianity is the complete opposite of all this.  The veil was rent from the top to the bottom (see Mark 15:38); God has revealed Himself.   Instead of our not being able to approach God, God has approached us. This even applied to the chief of sinners (Paul).  Now,

  • The grace of God which bringeth salvation hath appeared. (Titus 2:11)
  • The darkness is past, and the true light now shineth (1 John 2:8).
  • God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them. (2 Cor 5:19)
  • The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (John 1:14).
  • In him [Christ] was life, and the life was the light of men (John 1:4).
  • God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life (1 John 5:12).

By this we deduce that, when a Christian assumes the exclusive authority to conduct a communion service or mass, he is hanging on to the old Jewish order.  He is, in effect, saying, that the ordinary person cannot approach personally, but must get an ordained church officer to approach for him.  This is a denial of the whole efficacy of Christianity, and the place in which all Christians are set.

But the light of God has shone forth, and it is for me to walk in the light as he [God] is in the light (1 John 1:7).  I approach through the blood of Christ, the light showing me that I am perfectly clean.   If I require another go into Gods presence on my behalf, I must not be regarding myself as clean.  But I am clean, because of Christ’s work.   I am therefore a priest, and am to offer praise, thanks and worship to God myself.  And I can do it at any time.

 

Summary by Sosthenes

January 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible – Hebrews

Hebrews is founded on the person of Christ in His divine and human natures. (I am not sure whether JND would have used this expression later). Human sympathies are exercised through Christ’s priesthood on high, connecting the saints on earth with heaven. Although the saints are not seen as constituting the body united with Christ, all ancient Judaism is set aside. They are seen as answering to a present heavenly call, laying the ground for the introduction of Israel by the new covenant. With the use of comparisons and analogies, Christianity is contrasted with what had gone before.

Outline of Bible coverHebrews is founded on the person of Christ in His divine and human natures. (I am not sure whether JND would have used this expression later). Human sympathies are exercised through Christ’s priesthood on high, connecting the saints on earth with heaven. Although the saints are not seen as constituting the body united with Christ, all ancient Judaism is set aside. They are seen as answering to a present heavenly call, laying the ground for the introduction of Israel by the new covenant. With the use of comparisons and analogies, Christianity is contrasted with what had gone before.

In chapter 1 we get the authority of the communicated word as to the divinity of Christ. This is continued in from ch. 3:1 to 4:13, where we have Christ’s authority as Son over His house (in contrast to Moses), and the promise of rest to the people of God. Chapter 2 lays the foundation of future dominion and present priesthood in the human nature of Christ. This is continued from chapter 4:14, the glory of it being expounded in chapter 5 as to the Person and office of Christ. It is impossible to return to the elements of Judaism. If heavenly Christian things are departed from, things cannot be brought back by another power. God encourages the heirs of promise by word and oath, declaring the immutability of His counsel, and strengthens them to look within the veil, Christ having entered as forerunner, a high priest after the order of Melchisedec (chapter 6).

Chapter 7: The Melchisedec priesthood sets aside of the whole system of the law, the priesthood itself being changed from that of dying men to that of the living Son. That priesthood suits us, for such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens (v. 26).

In chapter 8, because the High Priest is set on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle, offerings are needed. However, before touching on the offerings, we have a change of the covenant on which this ministry is founded, for Christ is the mediator of it. Now, for a better and heavenly tabernacle, we must have better sacrifices.

Chapter 9: In the tabernacle itself there was a difference. The veil was unrent in the Jewish tabernacle; now the veil is rent. The Holy Spirit showed that, as long as that first tabernacle had any place, the way into the holiest could not be open. Note that in ch. 9:16-17, the Greek word διαθήκη (diathéké) has the sense of testament; elsewhere it should be covenant. The blood of Christ purges the conscience, not merely sins, and cleanses the whole scene of the creature’s relationship with God. The next contrast is that He had not to offer Himself often in order to enter into the heavenly tabernacle, otherwise He would have to have suffered often. He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. The apostle contrasts the lot of man, subject to death and judgment, with Christ, who once offered Himself to bear the sins of many, and is now coming to those who look for Him for salvation, without any further question of sin

The writer then discusses in chapter 10 the whole bearing of this sacrifice, alleging that a person once cleansed by it has no more conscience of sins; whereas in the repeated sacrifices, there was a continual remembrance of sins. He then unfolds the origin of this sacrifice in God’s preparing Christ a body. He offers Himself to accomplish God’s will.  He does so willingly, and now sits for ever at the right hand of God. He does not stand like the old high priests who had to offer repeated sacrifices. By His one offering He has for ever perfected (i.e. made fit) those who are sanctified by it. The Holy Spirit bears divine testimony to this, declaring, ‘Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more’ (ch. 8:12). Thus we have the good will of God, the work of Christ, and the testimony of the Holy Spirit, to give us the divine security of unalterable peace. After that, he exhorts them to enter into the holiest, in the full assurance of faith through the new living way. The veil that had been rent, but then the writer warns them that if they abandoned one sacrifice be there would be no other. They are told to be patient: Christ would soon come. Meanwhile they must live by faith.

To this end, the writer shows, in chapter 11, that all the saints who were highly esteemed amongst them had obtained their good report by faith. He lays down four great principles:

  1. creation, known by faith,
  2. sacrifice, offered to obtain righteousness by faith,
  3. walking with God in the power of life by faith, and
  4. acting on the prophecy of coming events by faith.

We then get two great aspects of our trust in God: the patient expectancy of faith, and the active energy of faith. All those whose faith is described in detail are persons who lived before Israel went into the land. He then goes through a list of sufferings endured by the saints in faith, showing that the world was not worthy of them.   They died, not having received the promises, God having reserved a better thing for us.

Chapters 12 and 13 introduce Christ as the last great Witness. He overcame, and now, having obtained the glory, sits at the right hand of God. He shows them that suffering has the character of parental discipline: they are under grace, not law and terror. In doing this, he gives them the whole millennial result in heaven and earth – that is what they have come to in faith. Everything here will be shaken, but they are to leave the Jewish camp (religion and the world), and go to Jesus, He being the sin-offering. They must be either in heaven where the blood is, or outside the camp, or gate, where the sin-offering was burnt. He closes with a few exhortations.

Hebrews is of the called ‘book of the open heavens’ – Sosthenes

 

Originally by JND.   Lightly edited by Sosthenes,  September 2014

– Se A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible  for the original

A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible – Genesis

Creation is first treated of; then innocence, lordship, and marriage, the figure of union with Christ. Next we have the fall, man’s sin against God, and then in Cain man’s sin against his brother. There is, at the same time, a witness of certain righteous persons: Abel in sacrifice, Enoch in life, and Noah in testimony of approaching judgment. You then get the complete corruption of the whole system, and the deluge.

GENESIS.

Ilay-preachingn this book we have all the great principles of God’s relationship with man, without bringing in redemption which makes a people for God and a dwelling-place for God in man.   You never, save in chapter 2:3, get the word “holiness” in Genesis; and you never have God dwelling with men.

Creation is first treated of; then innocence, lordship, and marriage, the figure of union with Christ. Next we have the fall, man’s sin against God, and then in Cain man’s sin against his brother.   There is, at the same time, a witness of certain righteous persons: Abel in sacrifice, Enoch in life, and Noah in testimony of approaching judgment.   You then get the complete corruption of the whole system, and the deluge.

Having had in Enoch a figure of the church, we get in Noah deliverance through judgment.   Then a new world begins, God entering into covenant with it, and government introduced to prevent violence.   But the governor fails, and God’s plans as to the races of men are brought out.  We find God making nations, in consequence of man’s attempt to remain united so as to be independent.   In the midst of these nations we have, in Nimrod, imperial despotic power in an individual.  It is connected with Babel, the place of man’s wickedness.   In point of fact, the division of mankind into nations comes by judgment.

Shem’s family having been owned on the earth – the Lord God of Shem, national existence is recognized as God’s principle of the constitution of the earth.   He now begins an entirely new thing.   He calls out an individual to be the head of a blest race.   Whatever individual saints there had thus far been, there had been no counterpart of Adam as the head of a race.   Abraham was called out to be this.   Election, calling, and promise are connected with his calling.  Consequently you have Abraham here, as a stranger and pilgrim, with nothing but his tent and his altar.   He fails, like everybody, but God judges the world – Pharaoh’s house – for him.

We then get the distinction between a heavenly-minded and an earthly-minded man; the world having power over the earthly-minded (Lot), and the heavenly one (Abraham) having power over the world.  In connection with this we have in Melchizedek the future priest upon his throne, linked with God’s supremacy over heaven and earth.   Abraham’s separation from the world having been demonstrated, Jehovah presents Himself to Abraham as his shield and reward.   We first get the earthly inheritance and people, that is, in promise.  Abraham looks for the promise in a fleshly way, and that is all rejected.   We have then the promise to Abraham of being the father of many nations, God revealing Himself as God Almighty.   We have also His covenant with Abraham, and the principle of separation to God by circumcision.   Chapter 18 gives the promise of the heir, the judgment of the world (Sodom), and the connection of a heavenly people (Abraham) with God, by intercession.   In chapter 19 we have the connection with the judgment of the earthly people (Lot), saved as by fire through the tribulation.

What follows this, in chapter 20, is the absolute appropriation of the wife, whether Jerusalem or the heavenly bride, as the spouse of the Lord.  The old covenant (Hagar) is cast out, and, the true heir (Isaac) comes.   He takes the land (chap. 21).

Chapter 22 begins another series of things. The promised heir having being offered up, the promise is confirmed to the seed.   Sarah dies (chap. 23): this is the passing away of the old association with God on the earth.  Hence, in chapter 24 Eliezer (in figure the Holy Ghost, or His work on earth) is sent to take a wife for Isaac (Christ), who is Heir of all things.  Isaac is not permitted to return to Mesopotamia.   So, Christ, in taking the church, cannot come down to earth.

However, the moment we get Jacob, we get the head of the twelve tribes.  He goes to Mesopotamia for Rachel and Leah, typical of Israel and the Gentiles.  Jacob is the elect, but not the heavenly people.   He goes back to Canaan, gets the promises, with all sorts of exercises, as Israel will, but, if he does, he must give up old Israel (Rachel) to get Benjamin, the son of his right hand.

In the brief notice of Esau’s offspring we find the world in vigour and energy before God’s people are.   Then another history commences, that of Joseph.  This portrays Christ, though connected with Israel, rejected by Israel, and sold to the Gentiles.  He now comes to be the head, having the throne, and governing all Egypt.  God has done with Israel, receiving a Gentile wife, and calls his children by names typical of Christ’s rejection and blessing outside Israel.   He receives back his brethren in the glory.  This part closes with two distinct testimonies, the will of Joseph about his bones, and Jacob’s prophecy that they will all be back in the land and the promises to Israel be fulfilled.

Lightly edited by Sosthenes, May 2014

The Melchisedec Priesthood of Christ

The Melchisedec Priesthood of Christ

A Summary by Sosthenes of a Paper by John Nelson Darby

For the original paper click here – JND Collected Writings Vol 7 (Doctrinal 2)

J N Darby
Here are few words on this the extent and blessing of Christ’s priesthood.

The blessing of Abram, by Melchisedec, reads: “Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth, and blessed be the Most High God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thine hand” (Gen. 14:19) . Paul presents Melchisedec as a type of Christ, according to the word of the oath: “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Psalm 110:4).

Melchisedec in Order; Aaronic in Function

Christ the Lord is not currently exercising His Melchisedec priesthood.  Not that He is not a priest after that order – we know fully that from the Hebrews, and Psalm 110, and that He is not of any other order.  The Lord is currently exercising priesthood according to the typical character of Aaron’s on the day of atonement, as Hebrews also shows.  The whole of the present order of things answers to the day of atonement.  The High Priest has gone within the veil, with the blood of the sacrifice  – of Himself – His own blood.  So there He is, whom the heavens must receive till the time of the restoration of all things, which God hath promised by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.  The Lord, a priest in perpetuity after the order of Melchisedec, exercises priesthood practically for us according to the type of Aaron, though not according to the order of Aaron, as within the veil, on the great day of atonement.  We see this in Hebrews 8 & 9.

Christ as High Priest

He has gone within, not the typical veil, but into heaven itself (above all heavens), now to appear in the presence of God for us.  He has gone, not with the blood of bulls and goats, patterns of things to come, but with His own blood – a better sacrifice by which the heavenly things themselves could be purified.   Jesus is said to be crowned with glory, an honour compared with the consecration garments of Aaron and his sons after him.. (Compare Heb. 2:7 and Ex. 28:2, in the LXX, where the words are literally “for honour and glory.”)

Melchisedec vs. Nebuchadnezzar

in the type of Melchisedec, Christ has a glory of its own character.  It is the Lord’s glory, the glory of the Son of the Father.   The priesthood of Melchisedec is a royal dominion, representing the Most High God, and also speaking also for man to God as to praise. Nebuchadnezzar was given universal dominion, as king of Babylon, and he abused his power.  In evil and apostasy, he set up a false god – an image.  But the result was that God was owned by the king as “the Most High God”: He was punished till he learned that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will (Dan 5:21)

But there is another portion of the divine inheritance corrupted and debased, the scene of power, however, and blessing – the heavenlies.  “The saints of the Most High (that is, of the heavenlies – Heb. elionin) shall possess the kingdom.” (Dan 7:22)  But we wrestle with principalities and powers, with spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies (Eph. 6:12); that is, apostate power holding the earth, and spiritual wickedness, principalities and powers holding the heavenlies.  Therefore both the earth, and the heavenlies are possessed by a present evil power.

 The Day of the Glory of the Lamb

However, in the day of the full glory of the Lamb, there shall be one Lord, your Maker, Whose name is the LORD of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, … the God of all the earth (Isa 54:5).  In that day shall Jerusalem be called the throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it. (Jer 3:17).   The nations will be blessed through Him.  The Son of man, Son of David, King of the Jews, Jesus of Nazareth, will be on the throne, not on the cross.  He will be owned not just in Hebrew,  Greek and Latin, but in every language of power which despised Him.   So we find that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, He should gather together in one all things in Christ; both which are in heaven and which are upon the earth. (Eph 1:10).  We have the sure mercies of David by virtue of His resurrection. They will be made sure to the Jews (Acts 13:32-34), when He sits upon the throne of David His father, and reign over the house of Jacob for ever (Luke 1;32), all nations serving Him.

But we have a better portion.  We are to be with Him in heavenly places, as His body, the Church.  We have not merely the fruits, but the power working towards us, power that was wrought in Him, when God raised him from the dead …and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places. (See Eph. 1:19Eph. 2:7.)   We see the saints in the heavenlies, sitting there as raised with Christ, and having overcome through grace, sitting down in His throne, as He overcame and sat down in His Father’s throne.  Hence we see His universal dominion, all power given Him in heaven and on earth, – the Son of God, Son of man, Lord over all, as well as God over all, blessed for evermore.

Priest upon His Throne for Blessing

Now there is another character.  He is a Priest upon His throne (Zech. 6:13); and here we have the real full exercise of the Melchisedec priesthood.  He sits on His Father’s till His foes are made His footstool, and is now gathering all things in heaven and on earth into one.   He will sit on His own throne.

Dreadful evil came in: Satan, sitting in heavenly places, had made the poor inhabitants of earth worship demons, gods many and lords many, persecuting and degrading the children of God.  Earthly power was associated with false worship and apostasy, as we see typified in the great image set up by Nebuchadnezzar.  Now that which was specifically opposed to this was this title of the Most High God; so Nebuchadnezzar has to confess the Most High God. Now Melchisedec says, “Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth ” (Gen 14:19).    As the title of the Most High God is given here, witnessed in the priesthood of Melchisedec, so also will the blessing proceed.

Oh what blessing will be there, when there will be no principalities and powers in heavenly places to taint the very source of blessing.   There will be no corruption below to make evil what God had made good, nor any spirit of corruption and rebellion to bring the curse of opposition to the blessed God.   Oh what blessing there will be when the Most High takes possession of heaven and earth, and our High Priest is His High Priest!   Thus we have total exclusion of all other gods but one, the only One.

With the Most High as Possessor, where will the tempter be then?  Not in heaven, the Most High possesses that; not on earth, the Most High possesses that.  But Melchisedec, though priest of the Most High God, has other characters.  He is King of righteousness, for where righteousness is, there is blessing.   He is king of Salem, which is king of Peace; for the fruit of righteousness is peace; the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever.  The Melchisedec priesthood is the security of the blessing from the Most High God, with the union of heaven and earth under Him.

But we have also to look at the object of this blessing – Abram, the father of the natural seed. Then he is the father of Israel (and in Israel the blessing of many nations), blessed of the Most High God, by the King of Peace and of righteousness, the representative of the natural seed of Israel, blessed from on high. Thus, in the title of God – in the priest himself – in the object of universal blessing, we see the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ (Eph 1:9).  The Jews are the objects and channels of earthly blessing; but we are sitting in heavenly blessings, priests with Him.

Aaron Intercession;  Melchisedec Blessing

The Aaronical priesthood was a priesthood of intercession – He ever liveth to make intercession for us (Heb. 7:25).   The saints of God, in our weakness are the constant object of His sure and never-failing care and intercession. He appears in the presence of God for us.

But the priestly act of Melchisedec is blessing, not intercession; blessing from the Most High God.  He is the King of righteousness and peace, and He blesses the seed of God’s acceptance.   Evil is removed, the enemies destroyed, (God’s strange work), and blessing flows unhindered, out through the great High Priest, the Priest of the Most High God, Possessor of heaven and earth.  How our hearts long for the day of universal blessing from the Most High God of heaven and earth!   How heaven and earth will ring with the witness of the blessing of the heavenly creatures, and the earthly seed unfettered in its praise!  All are one in Him; one with the Father, the Most High God; and who Himself took on Him Abraham’s seed, now come forth in His kingly glory to bless us from God Most High, and God from us – the Man of blessing, the Blessing Man, the Lord Most High.

Now Melchisedec brings forth bread and wine: the bread of Salem where the King dwelt, and wine, drunk new, of the kingdom, to give the joy of deliverance and the refreshing of love.  Their Melchisedec makes them to sit down to eat, takes the yoke from off their neck, blessing always, as the less is blessed of the greater.

So we have the accomplished character of the Most High God, as to all things in heaven and earth: universal blessing, joy, the unity of all things in Christ, the priesthood of Melchisedec, and the blessing of the redeemed of God.

Conclusion

May the blessing of Melchisedec, of Christ, the Lord, the King, dwell on our spirits.  It is our  joyful portion now that He intercedes for us.  He is Head, and leader of our praise.  How imperfectly we declare the joy of all this!  May the Spirit of God teach us a more skillful tune, because the chord struck unskillfully has awakened the thoughts of praise in our hearts; and after all, our feeble notes here are but poor witnesses to that new abiding song of praise.  We have a better portion than reigning – our calling to be with Him.   His reign will be the source of sweet and rich blessings to a delivered earth.