Friday, March 28, 2014

Commentary on Lord's Day 12

TWELFTH LORD’S DAY


Question 31. Why is he called Christ, that is, anointed?

Answer. Because he is ordained of God the Father, and anointed with the Holy Ghost, to be our chief Prophet and teacher; who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption, and to be our only High Priest, who, by the one sacrifice of his body, has redeemed us, and makes continual intercession with the Father for us; and also to be our Eternal King, who governs us by his word and Spirit, and who defends and preserves us in the enjoyment of that salvation he has purchased for us.

EXPOSITION

Jesus is the proper name of the mediator; Christ is, as it were, an additional appellation; for he is Jesus in such a manner that he is also the Christ, the promised Saviour and Messiah. Both titles designate his office, yet not with the same clearness; for whilst the name Jesus denotes the office of the mediator in a general way, that of Christ expresses it more fully and distinctly; for the name Christ expresses the three parts of his office, viz: prophetical, sacerdotal, and regal. The name Christ signifies the anointed. Therefore, he is Jesus the Saviour, in such a manner that he is Christ, or the anointed, having the office of one that is anointed, which consists of three parts, as has just been remarked. The reason why these three things are comprehended in the name of Christ, is, because prophets, priests and kings were anciently anointed, by which was signified both an ordination to the office, and also a conferring of those gifts which were necessary for the proper discharge of the duties thereby imposed. Therefore, we thus conclude: He who is to be a prophet, priest, and king, and is called the anointed, he is so called on account of these three offices. Christ was to be a prophet, priest and king, and is called the anointed. Therefore, he is called the anointed, or Christ, on account of these three, so that these parts of the office of the mediator are expressed in the one title of the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed. In discussing this question of the Catechism, we must enquire:

          I.      What is meant by the anointing of Christ, seeing the Scriptures no where speak of his being anointed?
          II.      What is the prophetical office of Christ?
          III.      What is the priestly office of Christ?
          IV.      What is the regal office of Christ?


I. WHAT IS THE UNCTION, OR ANOINTING OF CHRIST?

Anointing was a ceremony by which prophets, priests and kings were confirmed in their office by being
anointed either with common, or with a particular kind of oil. This anointing signified, 1. An ordination, or calling to the office for which they were thus set apart. 2. It signified the promise and bestowment of the gifts necessary for the purpose of sustaining those upon whom the burden of either of these offices was imposed. There was also an analogy between the sign, or the external anointing, and the thing signified thereby: because as oil strengthens, invigorates, renovates, and makes firm the dry and feeble members of the body, and renders them active and fit for the discharge of their office; so the Holy Spirit enlivens and renews our nature, unfit of itself for the accomplishment of any thing that is good, and furnishes it with strength and power to do that which is agreeable to God, and to discharge properly the duties imposed upon us in the relations in which we are called to serve him.
Moreover, those who were anointed under the Old Testament were types of Christ, so that it may be said that their anointing was only a shadow, and so imperfect. But the anointing of Christ was perfect. For “in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” (Col. 2:9.) He alone received all the gifts of the Spirit in the highest number and degree. Another point of difference is seen in this, that none of those who were anointed under the Old Testament received all the gifts—some received more, others less; but no one received all, neither did all receive them in the same degree. Christ, however, had all these gifts in the fullest and highest sense. Therefore, although this anointing was proper to those of the Old Testament, as well as to Christ, yet it was real and perfect in no one excepting Christ.
Obj. But we no where read of the anointing of Christ in the holy Scriptures. Ans. It is true, indeed, that it is no where said that Christ was anointed ceremoniously; but he was anointed really and spiritually, that is, he received the thing signified thereby, which was the Holy Ghost. “Therefore God, thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me.” (Ps. 45:7. Heb. 1:9. Is. 61:1.) The anointing of Christ is, therefore, spoken of both in the Old and New Testament. It behooved Christ to be, not a typical prophet, priest and king, but that one which was signified and true, of whom all the others were but shadows. Hence it behooved him to be anointed, not typically, but really; for it was necessary that there should be an analogy between the office and the anointing, and, as a matter of consequence, it became necessary that his anointing should not be sacramental, but spiritual; not typical, but real.
Christ was, then, anointed, 1. Because he was ordained to the office of mediator by the will of his Heavenly Father. “I am not come of myself, but the Father hath sent me.” “God hath spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things.” (John 7:28. Heb. 1:1.) 2. Because his human nature was endowed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit without measure; so that he had all the gifts and graces necessary for restoring, ruling and preserving his church, and for administering the government of the whole world, and directing it to the glory of God, and the salvation of his people. “For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God; for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.” (John 3:34.) These two parts of the anointing of Christ differ from each other in this manner, that the conferring of gifts has respect to the human nature only, whilst his ordination to the office of mediator has respect to both natures.
Hence, an answer is readily furnished to another objection which we sometimes hear: God cannot be anointed Christ is God. Therefore, he could be anointed. Ans. We grant the whole if understood of that nature in which Christ is God, that he cannot be anointed, 1. Because it is impossible for us to add anything of justice, wisdom and power to the Godhead. 2. Because the Holy Spirit, by whom the anointing was effected, is the proper Spirit of Christ, no less, than of the Father. Therefore, just as no one can give thee thy spirit which is in thee, because what thou hast cannot be given to thee; so no one can give the Holy Spirit to God, because he is in him, from him, is his proper Spirit, and is given to others by him.
Obj. But if Christ could not be anointed as to his Divinity, he is then prophet, priest, king and mediator, according to his humanity only; for he is mediator according to that nature only which could be anointed. But it was possible for him to be anointed only as to his humanity. Therefore, he is mediator according to his humanity alone. The minor proposition is proven by the definition of anointing, which is to receive gifts. But he received gifts only as to his human nature. Therefore, it was in respect to this alone that he was anointed. Ans. We deny what is here affirmed, because the definition which is given of anointing is not sufficiently distinct nor full; for anointing does not merely include the reception of the gifts which pertain only to the humanity of Christ, but also an ordination to the office of mediator which has respect to both natures. Therefore, although the humanity of Christ alone could receive the Holy Spirit, yet it does not follow that his Divinity was excluded from this anointing, in as far as it was a designation to the office of mediator. Or we may present the argument clearer by considering it negatively: Christ is not mediator according to the nature in which he is not anointed. He is not anointed as to his Divinity. Therefore he is not mediator in respect to his Godhead. Ans. There are here four terms. In the major, the anointing is taken for both parts thereof, or for the whole anointing—for the designation to the office, and the bestowment of gifts. In the minor, it is considered only in relation to one part of the anointing. Therefore, it follows that Christ was anointed according to each nature, although in a different manner, as has been shown. Hence, Christ is prophet, priest, king and mediator, in respect to each nature, which is confirmed in the word of God by these two fundamental rules:
1. The properties of the one nature of the mediator, are attributed to the whole person in the concrete, according to the communication of properties; but in respect to that nature only to which they are peculiar, as God is angry, suffered, died, viz., according to his humanity. The man Christ is omnipotent, eternal, everywhere, viz., according to his Divinity.
2. The names, also, of the office of mediator, are attributed to the whole person in respect to both natures, yet preserving the properties of each nature, and the differences in the works peculiar to each; because, both the divine and human nature, together with the operations thereof, are necessary to the discharge of the office of mediator. So that each may perform that which is proper to it, in connection with the other.
Irenaeus says, in relation to this subject, that this anointing is to be understood as comprehending the three persons of the Godhead: the Father, as the anointer, the Son, as the anointed, and the Holy Spirit, as the unction, or the anointing.


II. WHAT IS THE PROPHETICAL OFFICE OF CHRIST?

Having considered what we are to understand by the anointing of Christ, we must now speak briefly of the three-fold office, or of the three parts of the office of the mediator unto which Christ was anointed. And in order that we may have a proper understanding of this subject, we must define what the terms prophet, priest, and king signify, which may be gathered from the parts of the office which these persons severally discharged.
The word prophet comes from the Greek τροφημι, which means to publish things that are to come. In general, a prophet is a person called of God. to declare and explain his will to men concerning things present or future, which otherwise would have remained unknown, inasmuch as the truths which he reveals are of such a nature that men, of themselves, could never have attained a knowledge of them. A prophet is either a minister, or the head and chief of the prophets, which is Christ. Of those prophets which were ministerial, some were of the Old and some of the New Testament. Among the latter there were some that were generally, and others specially, so called.
The prophets of the Old Testament were persons immediately called, and sent of God to his people, that they might reprove their errors and sins, by threatening punishment upon offenders, and inviting men to repentance; that they might declare and expound the true doctrine and worship of God, and preserve it from falsehood and corruption; that they might make known and illustrate the promise of the Messiah—the benefits of his kingdom, and might fore-tell events that were to come, having the gift of miracles, and other sure and divine testimonies so that they could not err in the doctrine which they declared; and at the same time sustaining certain relations to the state, and performing duties of a civil character.
A prophet of the New Testament specially so called, was a person immediately called of God, and furnished with the gift of prophecy for the purpose of fore-seeing, and fore-telling things to come; such were Paul, Peter, Agabus, &c. Whoever has the gift of understanding, explaining, and applying the holy Scriptures to the edification of the church, and individuals, is a prophet, generally, so called. It is in this sense the term is used in 1 Cor. 14:3, 4, 5, 29.
Christ is the greatest and chief prophet, and was immediately ordained of God, and sent by him from the very commencement of the church in Paradise, for the purpose of revealing the will of God to the human race; instituting the ministry of the word and the sacraments, and at length manifesting himself in the flesh, and proving by his divine teaching and works that he is the eternal and con-substantial Son of the Father, the author of the doctrine of the gospel, giving through it the Holy Spirit, kindling faith in the hearts of men, sending apostles, and collecting to himself a church from the human family in which he may be obeyed, invoked and worshipped.
The prophetical office of Christ is, therefore, 1. To reveal God and his whole will to angels and men, which could only be made known through the Son, and by a special revelation. “He who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” “I speak to the world those things which I have heard of my Father. (John 1:18; 8:26.) It was also the office of Christ to proclaim the law, and to keep it free from the errors and corruptions of men. 2. To institute and preserve the ministry of the gospel; to raise up and send forth prophets, apostles, teachers, and other ministers of the church; to confer on them the gift of prophecy, and furnish them with the gifts necessary to their calling. “And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists,” &c. “Therefore said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets, and apostles,” &c. “For I will give you a mouth, and wisdom which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay, nor resist.” “The Spirit of Christ spoke through the prophets.” (Ep. 4:11. Luke 11:49; 21:15. 1 Pet. 1:11.) 3. It pertains to the prophetical office of Christ that he should be efficacious through his ministry, in the hearts of those that hear, to teach them internally by his Spirit, to illuminate their minds, and move their hearts to faith and obedience by the gospel. “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” “Then opened he their understandings, that they might understand the scriptures.” “Christ gave himself for the church that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” “And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.” “The Lord opened the heart of Lydia, that she attended unto the things spoken by Paul.” “The Lord gave testimony unto the word of his grace.” (Matt. 3:11. Luke 24:45. Ep. 5:26. Mark 16:20. Acts 16:14; 14:3.) To sum up the whole in a few words, the prophetical office of Christ consists of three parts: To reveal the will of the Father; to institute a ministry, and to teach internally, or effectually through the ministry. These three things Christ has performed from the very commencement of the church, and will perform even to the end of the world, and that by his authority, power and efficacy. Hence, Christ is called the Word, not only in respect to the Father, by whom he was begotten when beholding himself in contemplation, and considering the image of himself, not vanishing away, but subsisting, con-substantial, and co-eternal with the Father himself; but also in respect to us, because he is the person that spake to the fathers, and brought forth the living word, or gospel from the bosom of the Father.
Hence it is apparent from what has now been said, what is the difference between Christ and other prophets, and why he is called the greatest teacher, and prophet, and so the chief of all prophets. 1. Christ is the Son of God, and Lord of all; the other prophets were only men, and servants of Christ. 2. Christ brought forth and uttered the word immediately from the Father to men; other prophets and apostles are called and sent by Christ. 3. The prophetical wisdom of Christ is infinite; for even according to his humanity, he excelled all others in every gift. 4. Christ is the fountain of all truth, and the author of the ministry: other prophets merely proclaim and reveal what they receive from Christ. Hence Christ is said to have spoken through the prophets. Neither does he reveal his doctrine to the prophets alone, but to all the godly. Hence it is said, “of his fullness have we all received,” &c. (John 1:16.) 5. Christ preaches effectually through his own external ministry, and that of those whom he calls into his service, by virtue of the Holy Spirit operating upon the hearts of men: other prophets are the instruments which Christ employs, and are co-workers together with him. 6. The doctrine of Christ is clearer and more complete than that of Moses and all the other prophets. 7. Christ had authority of himself; others have their authority from Christ. We believe Christ when he speaks on account of himself, but we believe others because Christ speaks in them.


III. WHAT IS THE PRIESTLY OR SACERDOTAL OFFICE OF CHRIST?

A priest in general is a person appointed of God, for the purpose of offering oblations and sacrifices, for interceding and teaching others. We may distinguish between those who serve in the capacity of priests, by speaking of them as typical and real. A typical priest is a person ordained of God to offer typical sacrifices, to make intercessions for himself and others, and to teach the people concerning the will of God, and the Messiah to come. Such were all the priests of the old Testament, among whom there was one that was the greatest, usually called the High Priest; the others were inferior. It was peculiar to the High Priest, 1. That he alone entered once every year into the sanctuary, or most holy place, and that with blood which he offered for himself, and the people, burning incense and making incercession. 2. He had a more splendid and gorgeous apparel than the others. 3. He was placed over the rest. 4. He offered sacrifice, and made intercession for himself and the people. 5. He was to be consulted in matters or questions that were doubtful, weighty and obscure, and returned to the people the answer which God directed him to give. All the rest were inferior, whose office it was to offer sacrifices, to teach the doctrine of the law, and the promises pertaining to the Messiah, and to intercede for themselves and others. Wherefore, although all the priests of the old Testament were types of Christ, yet the typical character of the High Priest was the most notable of them all, because in him there were many things that represented Christ, the true and great High Priest of the Church.
Obj. But if prophets and priest both teach, they do not differ from each other. Ans. They did indeed both teach the people, yet they were variously distinguished. Prophets were raised up immediately by God, from any tribe, whilst the priests were mediately ordained from the single tribe of Levi. Prophets taught extraordinarily, whilst the priests had the ordinary ministry. The prophets received their doctrine immediately from God, whilst the priests learned it out of the law. The prophets had divine testimonies so that they could not err; the priests could err in doctrine, and often did err in their instructions, and were reproved by the prophets.
The signified and true priest is Christ, the Son of God, who was immediately ordained by the Father, and anointed by the Holy Ghost to this office, that, having assumed human nature, he might reveal the secret will and counsel of God to us, and offer himself a propiatory sacrifice for us, interceding in our behalf, and applying his sacrifice unto us, having the promise that he is always certainly heard in behalf of all those for whom he intercedes, and obtains for them the remission of sins; and finally through the ministers of the word and the Holy Spirit, collects, illuminates and sanctifies his church.
There are, therefore, four principal parts of the priestly office of Christ: 1. To teach men, and that in a different manner from all others, who are called to act as priests; for he does not merely speak to the ear by his word, but effectually inclines the heart by his Holy Spirit. 2. To offer himself a sacrifice for the sins of the world. 3. To make continual intercession and prayer for us to the Father, that he may receive us into his favor on account of his intercession and will, and on account of the perpetual efficacy of his sacrifice; and to have the promise of being heard in reference to those things which he asks. 4. To apply his sacrifice unto those for whom he intercedes, which is to receive into favor those that believe, and to bring it to pass that the Father may receive them, and that faith may be wrought in their hearts, by which the merits of Christ may be made over to them, so that they are regenerated by the Holy Spirit unto everlasting life.
From what has now been said we may easily perceive the difference between Christ and other priests. 1. The latter teach only with the external voice; Christ teaches also by the inward and efficacious working of the Holy Spirit. 2. Other priests do not make continual intercession, nor do they always obtain those things for which they pray. 3. They do not apply their own benefits to others. 4. They do not offer themselves a sacrifice for others; all of which things belong to Christ alone.


IV. WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OR REGAL OFFICE OF CHRIST?

A king is a person ordained of God, that he may rule over a certain people, according to just laws, that he may have power to reward the good and punish the evil, and that he may defend his subjects, not having any one superior or above him. The King of Kings is Christ, who was immediately ordained of God, that he might govern, by his word and Spirit, the church which he purchased with his own blood, and defend her against all her enemies, whom he will cast into everlasting punishment, whilst he will reward his people with eternal life.
The kingly office of Christ is therefore: 1. To rule the church by his word and Spirit, which he does in such a manner that he does not only show us what he would have accomplished in us, but also so inclines and affects the heart by his Spirit, that we are led to do the same. 2. He preserves and defends us against our enemies, both external and internal, which he does by protecting us by his almighty power, arming us against our foes, that we may by his Spirit, be furnished with every weapon necessary for resisting and overcoming them. 3. To bestow upon his church gifts and glory; and finally, to liberate her from all evils; to control and overcome all his enemies by his power, and at length, having fully subdued them, to cast them into inconceivable misery and wretchedness.


Question 32. But why art thou called a Christian?

Answer. Because I am a member of Christ by faith, and thus am partaker of his anointing, that so I may confess his name, and present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to him: and also, that with a free and good conscience I may fight against sin and Satan in this life, and afterwards reign with him eternally, over all creatures.

EXPOSITION

In this question we are to consider the dignity and communion of Christians with Christ their head, together with the offices which they sustain as members of Christ. The name Christian, was first given to the disciples of Christ at Antioch, in the time of the Apostles. Prior to this they were called Brethren and Disciples. The name Christian is derived from Christ, and denotes one who is a disciple of Christ—one who follows his doctrine and life, and who, being engrafted into Christ, has communion with him. There are two kinds of Christians; some that are only apparently such; and others that are really and truly such. Those who are Christians merely in appearance, are those who have been baptized, and who are in the company of those who are called, and profess the Christian faith; but are without conversion, being nothing more than hypocrites and dissemblers, of whom it is said: “Many are called, but few are chosen.” “Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven,” &c. (Matt. 20:16; 7:22.) Those are true christians who are not only baptized and profess the doctrine of Christ, but who are also possessed of a true faith, and declare this by the fruits of repentance; or, they are those who are members of Christ by a true faith, and are made partakers of his anointing. All true Christians are such also in appearance, because it is said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good work, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” “Show me thy faith by thy works.” (Matt. 5:16. James 2:18.) But it is not true, on the other hand, that all who are apparently Christians are also such in reality; because it will be said of many, “I never knew you.” (Matt. 7:23.)
We are here to speak only of such as are true Christians: and we must enquire, Why are we called Christians, that is, anointed? The reasons of this are two: because we are members of Christ by faith, and are made partakers of his anointing; that is, we are called Christians, because we have communicated unto us the person, office and dignity of Christ.
To be a member of Christ is to be engrafted into him, and to be united to him by the same Holy Spirit dwelling in him and in us, and by this Spirit to be made a possessor of such righteousness and life as is in Christ: and to be made acceptable to God on account of the righteousness of Christ imputed unto us by faith, in as much as this righteousness is imperfect in this life. Of this our communion with Christ, the following passage of Scripture speak. “We being many are one body in Christ.” “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ.” “He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit.” “We may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” (Rom. 12:5. 1 Cor. 6:15; 12:12. Eph. 4:15.)
The relation which holds between the head and the members of the same body, is a most fit and striking illustration of the close and indissoluble union between Christ and us. For, first, just as the members of the body have one and the same head, by means of which they are joined together by sinews and fleshy ligaments, and from which life and motion are communicated through the whole body; and just as all the outward and inward senses are seated in the head, from which the whole body and every single member draws its proper life; and as from the head alone life is communicated to every member, and not from one member to another, so long as they remained joined with the head and with each other; so Christ is the living head from whom the Holy Spirit is made to pass over into every member, and not from one member to another; from whom all the members are made to draw their life, and by whom they are ruled as long as they remain united to him by the Spirit dwelling in him and us, and that through faith by which we become the members of Christ; for it is through faith that we receive the Spirit, through whom this union is effected. But the members are united with each other and among themselves by mutual love, which cannot be wanting if we are joined to the head; for the connection of the head with the body is the cause of the union which exist among the members themselves.
Secondly; just as in the human body there are various gifts, and as the members perform different offices, and yet but one life animates and moves them all, so in the church, which is but one body, there are various gifts and offices, and only one Spirit, by whose benefit and help each individual member performs his appropriate office.
Thirdly; just as the head is placed highest, and is, therefore, deserving of the greatest honor, and is the fountain of all life, so Christ has the highest place in the church, because in him the Spirit is without measure, and from his fullness we receive all the good gifts which we enjoy; but in Christians who are the members of Christ there is only a certain measure of gifts, which is made over to them from Christ their only head. Wherefore it is plain that the Pope of Rome lies, when he declares himself to be the head of the church.
Christ is our head, in three respects: 1. In respect to the perfection of his person, because he is God and man, excelling all creatures in gifts, even as far as his human nature is concerned. “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and ye are complete in him.” (Col. 2:9.) He alone gives the Holy Ghost, as it is said, “he it is that shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.” (Matt. 3:11.) 2. In the dignity and order, glory and majesty with which he declares himself to be king, Lord, and heir of all things. For, just as God created all things through him, so he has made him heir of all things, and the ruler of his house. 3. In respect to his office. He is the redeemer and sanctifier of the church—is present with every member thereof—rules, governs, quickens, nourishes and confirms them so that they remain united to him and the rest of the members, just as the head governs and animates the whole body.
We are also members of Christ, in three respects: 1. Because, by faith and the Holy Spirit we are joined to him, and also, united among ourselves just as the members are connected with the head and with each other. The joining together of the members of Christ with each other and among themselves, is no less necessary for the safety of the church, than the conjunction of the whole body with Christ the head; for if you separate the hand from the arm, you thereby separate it also from the body, so that it can no longer have any life: “That Christ may dwell in your nearts by faith.” (Ep. 3:17.) 2. Because we are quickened and governed by Christ, and draw from him, as the fountain, all good things, so that unless we continue in him we have no life in us, as the members cut off from the body can retain no life in themselves. “If a man abide not in me he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered.” (John 15:6.) 3. Because as in the body there are different powers and functions belonging to the members, so there are different gifts and offices pertaining to the members of the church of Christ; and as all the actions of the different parts of the body contribute to its preservation, so all the members of Christ ought to refer whatever they do to the preservation and benefit of the church, which is the body of Christ. “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office, so we being many are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” (Rom. 12:4. 1 Cor. 12:7.)
Having now explained what it is to be a member of Christ, and in what manner we are his members, it will be more clearly seen what it is to be a partaker of the anointing of Christ. Anointing signifies a communion of the gifts and office of Christ; or it is a participation in all the gifts of Christ, and consists in the participation of his kingly, sacerdotal and prophetical office. To be a partaker of the anointing of Christ, is, therefore, To be a partaker of the Holy Ghost and of his gifts, for the Spirit of Christ is not idle or inactive in us, but works the same in us that he does in Christ, unless that Christ alone has more gifts than all of us, and these also in a greater or higher degree. 2. That Christ communicates his prophetical, sacerdotal and kingly office unto us.
The prophetical dignity which is in Christians, is an understanding, acknowledgement and confession of the true doctrine of God necessary for our salvation. Or, our prophetical office is, 1. Rightly to know God and his will. 2. That every one in his place and degree profess the same, being correctly understood, faithfully, boldly and constantly, that God may thereby be celebrated, and his truth revealed in its living force and power. “Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 10:32.)
The office of a priest is to teach, to intercede, and to offer sacrifice. Our priesthood, therefore, is, 1. To teach others; that is, to show and communicate to them the knowledge of the true God. “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22:32.) 2. To call upon God, having a correct knowledge of him. 3. To render proper gratitude, worship and obedience to God, or to offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, pleasing, and acceptable unto God, being sanctified by the sacrifice of Christ, which includes, 1. That we offer ourselves by mortifying our old man, and giving our members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 2. Our prayers. “Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name.” (Heb. 13:15.) 3. Our alms. “Thy prayers, and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.” (Acts 10:4.) 4. Confession of the gospel. “Ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the gentiles might be acceptable.” (Rom. 15:16.) 5. Cheerful and patient endurance of the cross, and all the various calamities which God sends upon us. “Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice, and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.” “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.” (Phil. 2:17. 2 Tim. 4:6.)
Furthermore, Christ communicates his priestly office unto us, 1. By accomplishing and bringing it to pass that we offer the above named sacrifices of thanksgiving. 2. By causing them to be acceptable and pleasing to God.
The sacrifice of Christ, therefore, differs from ours in the same way in which it differs from the sacrifices of the priests of old. 1. Christ offered up a sacrifice of thanksgiving and propitiation, at the same time, we offer only sacrifices of thanksgiving. The priests of old also offered up sacrifices of thanksgiving, because these belong to the whole church, even from the beginning to the end of the world. The sacrifices, moreover, which they offered, were only typical, which is no longer the case, since all types and shadows have been done away with by Christ, who offered, not a typical sacrifice, but one that was real—the one which was signified by all the sacrifices of the Old Testament; and this he did, because he was not a typical priest, but the true and great High Priest of the church, to whom all the others looked. 2. The sacrifice of Christ was perfect; ours is imperfect and defiled with many sins. 3. The sacrifice of Christ is meritorious in itself, and avails before God on account of itself; our sacrifices mean nothing, and are pleasing to God only for the sake of the sacrifice of Christ.
The kingly office of Christians, is, 1. To oppose and overcome, through faith, the devil, the world, and all enemies. 2. Having subdued all our enemies, to obtain at length through the same faith, eternal life and glory. “Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matt. 25:34.) We are, therefore, kings. 1. Because we are lords over all creatures in Christ; for, says the apostle, “all things are yours.” (Cor. 3:21.) 2. Because we conquer all our enemies through faith in Christ, “who giveth us the victory.” “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1. Cor. 15:57. 1. John, 5:4.)
The kingship of Christ, however, differs from that of Christians, in this. 1. The kingdom of Christ is hereditary, for he is the natural Son of God, whilst we are the sons of God by adoption. “But Christ as a Son over his own house.” “God hath spoken unto us by Christ, whom he hath appointed heir of all things. (Heb. 3:6; 1:2.) 2. He alone is king over all creatures, and especially over the church; but we are kings and lords, not of angels and the church, but only of other creatures. Heaven, earth, and therefore all things shall serve us, for we shall be crowned with glory, majesty and the greatest excellency of gifts, so that we shall condemn devils and wicked men, by cheerfully submitting and yielding to the judgment of God in passing sentence of condemnation upon them. Hence we are kings, not over the church, but over all remaining creatures; but Christ rules with full right, not only over the whole church, but also over all creatures. “Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world.” (Matt. 19:28. 1 Cor. 6:2.) 3. Christ conquers his enemies by his own power, but we overcome our foes in and through him—by his grace and assistance. “Be of good comfort, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33.) 4. Christ rules the world by the sceptre of his word and Spirit, swaying our hearts and restoring in us his image which was lost. This is peculiar to Christ alone; for we are unable to give the Holy Spirit, being nothing more than ministers and administrators of the outward word and rites, as John the Baptist said, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, and shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man.” (Matt. 3:11. 1 Cor. 3:5.)
The use and importance of this doctrine is great. 1. For consolation, because we are through faith engrafted into Christ as members to the head, that we may be continually sustained, governed and quickened by him; and because he makes us prophets, priests and kings unto God and his Father, by making us partakers of his anointing. This is truly and unspeakable dignity conferred upon christians. 2. For admonition and exhortation; for since we are all prophets and teachers of God, we ought continually to celebrate and praise him; since we are priests, we ought to offer ourselves wholly to God, as living sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving; and since we are kings it becomes us to fight manfully against sin, the world, and the devil, that we may reign with Christ.


Ursinus, Z., & Williard, G. W. (1888). The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism (pp. 169–180). Cincinnati, OH: Elm Street Printing Company.