The Offices of Christ
Christ undertook His office in order to obtain salvation for His people (1 Tim. 1:15). Both the calling and the components of the office are worthy to be considered. The calling is an action of God the Father, whereby He bound His willing Son to His office by an eternal covenant (Ps. 110:4; Isa. 53:10; Luke 22:22; Acts 4:28; Heb. 5:4, 6; 7:24). This involved choosing the ends (Isa. 42:1); foreordaining the means (1 Peter 1:20); and sending the Son (John 3:17).
There are three components to Christ’s office. First, Christ holds the office of Prophet (Deut. 18:15). By this, He reveals perfectly the whole will of God. This office has various names: Christ is a Teacher (Matt. 23:7); the Apostle of our confession (Heb. 3:1); the Angel of the Covenant (Mal. 3:1); the Word of God (John 1:1); the very Wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24); and the Treasure of wisdom and understanding (Col. 2:3).
In order to be the perfect Prophet, Christ necessarily was both God and man. It was necessary for Him to be God in order to understand and minister the will of God perfectly (John 1:18; 3:13; 1 Cor. 2:11, 16). If He had not been man, He could not have properly declared this will to men by His own person (Heb. 1:1).
Second, Christ holds the office of Priest. His priesthood is after the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 7:17), and therefore is indestructible (Heb. 7:16); stable and perfect (Heb. 7:18-19); eternal (Heb. 7:24); and perpetual, leaving no room or need for other priests (Heb. 7:24-25).
In the execution of His priestly office, Christ is the Priest, the sacrifice, and the altar. He is Priest in both natures (Heb. 5:6). He was the sacrifice principally in His human nature, as the Scriptures attribute His sacrifice most primarily to His body (Heb. 13:12; 1 Peter 2:24; Col. 1:22) and blood (Col. 1:20). However, this sacrifice became effectual because of Christ’s divine nature as the very Son of God (Acts 20:28; Rom. 8:3) – which is understood properly according to the idea of the altar (Heb. 9:14; 13:10, 12, 15). The function of the altar is to sanctify the offering, granting it dignity beyond itself (Matt. 23:17). Herein is manifest why Christ as Priest had to be both God and man: if He were not man, He could not have atoned for men; if He were not God, the sacrifice would not have been sufficient.
Third, Christ holds the office of King (cf. Deut. 17:14-20). His kingdom is called the kingdom of God; the kingdom of peace and glory; the kingdom of light and glory; the kingdom of heaven; and the world to come. In His kingdom, Christ’s rule is His power to dispense and administer all things pertaining to the salvation of men with force and authority (Ps. 2:6; Dan. 2:44; Luke 4:36). This kingship is universal, that is, it encompasses all ages, being eternal (Matt. 22:43-45; Dan. 2:44; 7:14). Christ’s rule is over all kinds of men (Dan. 7:14; Rev. 17:14) – even all the world and its creatures (Eph. 1:21, 22). Christ governs both man’s outward and inward activity (Rom. 14:17), dispensing everlasting life or death (Rev. 1:18). For the heirs of the kingdom, Christ as King brings the greatest peace and most perfect joy (Isa. 9:6; Eph. 2:16; Heb. 7:2). Again, it is necessary that Christ be King as God and man: the latter, that He might be the spiritual King of our souls, dispensing eternal life and death; the former, that He might be the Ruler of the same nature as His body.
The threefold office of Christ announces three truths. First, it identifies the state of man and how it is remedied in Christ. Man suffers under ignorance, which is resolved by the prophecy of Christ; dwells in alienation from God, which is restored by the priestly work of Christ; and possesses no power to live holily, which is established by the kingship of Christ. Second, Christ’s threefold office reveals the way salvation is brought to bear upon man. It is first preached by His prophecy; obtained by His priesthood; and applied by His kingship. Third, the threefold office exposes that salvation is accomplished by Christ. Christ first taught others the will of God; then He offered Himself; and afterward He entered to rule in His kingdom.