Every once in a while a book comes along that meets such an important need that it makes you wonder, “Why hasn’t someone done this before?” Richard (Dick) Belcher, OT Professor and Academic Dean at RTS Charlotte, has written just such a book: Prophet, Priest and King: The Roles of Christ in the Bible and Our Roles Today (P&R, 2016).
Of course, in the Reformed world, the idea that the work of Christ can be divided into his three “offices” (prophet, priest, and king) has a long lineage. Although it appears in a number of places in the early fathers, the Reformers were the ones who expounded on it more fully. Examples include John Calvin, John Owen, John Flavel, Thomas Boston, and Thomas Goodwin. It is also discussed in the Heidelberg Catechism (31-32).
So, it is a wonder that more hasn’t been written on it (at least in a full-length work) until now.
Regardless, Belcher’s new volume provides a wonderfully balanced look at the work of Christ. In a world where we tend to look at just a single office of Christ (usually his priestly office), this volume reminds us that Christ is also the King, the Lord of the universe, and also Prophet, the great teacher and revealer of God who speaks divine Words.
Understanding these three offices not only rounds out one’s own ministry–especially in the pulpit–but it also helps us to personally know Christ better. We understand our Lord better when we understand the way he functions in our life, and in the lives of God’s people through the ages.
Belcher unpacks the three offices of Christ by taking the reader on a very helpful tour of how these offices were manifested in the time of the Old Testament and then shows how they were fulfilled in the work of Christ in the era of the New Testament. Thus, this volume is a biblical-theology of sorts, a redemptive-historical survey of the entire Bible.
But, what I particularly enjoyed about Belcher’s volume is the way he connects the three offices of Christ to the ministry of the church today. He shows how the church (including both officers and members) embody aspects of all three offices. The church has a prophetic ministry, a priestly ministry, and a kingly ministry.
The usefulness of this volume is also enhanced by the fact that each chapter ends with discussion questions. So, I would recommend this book as something that could be done in a home Bible study, a Sunday school class, or other teaching situation.
Here is the official description and endorsements:
Although early church fathers recognized the different roles of Christ, John Calvin was the first to call attention to his distinct offices of prophet, priest, and king. Starting in Genesis, these offices recur time and again throughout the Bible. Viewed alongside Christ’s humiliation and exultation, they give us a fully rounded understanding of his work, as well as insight into the ongoing work of the church. In this biblical theology, Richard Belcher explores and defines the basic functions of prophets, priests, and kings through an analysis of key Old Testament texts before discussing the fulfillment of these offices in Christ and the transformation of these offices for the church, its leaders, and individual believers. Includes study questions.
“Belcher’s impressive treatment of these offices in their biblical-theological setting is essential reading in understanding their comprehensive nature. This book deftly combines biblical and pastoral insight that is most welcome in furthering our understanding of Scripture and the person and work of Christ.” —Derek W. H. Thomas, Senior Minister, First-Presbyterian Church, Columbia
“With wisdom, clarity, and grace, Belcher guides the reader to a richer and fuller vision of Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King.” —Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte
“Belcher’s work points us all toward the importance of keeping the centrality of Christ in view as we address the manifold challenges that Christians face as we long for his return in glory.” —Richard L. Pratt Jr., President, Third Millennium Ministries
The book is officially released Sept 30, 2016. You can get it here.
It’s probably more important than many have given it. I know that J.I. Packer has written some on it and Frame and Poythress investigated this in what they call multiperspectivalism. I taught a class on this a few years ago at church and found some pretty interesting fruit from it. Some of the early church fathers talked about this with reference to the believers, but the RCC usurped it and applied it to the structure of the church. The Reformers, in vying for the priesthood of believers essentially sought to return to the earlier teaching if they didn’t address these offices directly. So I’m glad this book is out and I’ll be looking to add it to my own library.
Jeremiah Pitts says
I realize you can’t put all of the references to Christ’s mediatorial offices in this text, but in case others reading might want the resource, it is also discussed in Westminster Larger Catechism Q42-45, Westminster Shorter Catechism Q23-26, and Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter VIII.