Understanding the Priesthood of the Believer: 1 Peter 2:4-8

21 Feb

Occasion Sunday Worship 16th February 2014

Introduction: In the Akan traditional society, the chief is a powerful and highly revered person.  Part of this reverence is practiced in the customs that accompany business interactions with various chiefs.  A common person cannot come a chief in any ordinary way.  He should come with appropriate gifts, and will communicate through a linguist.  The linguist is a representative of the chief before visitors, and a representative for visitors before the chief.  While the illustration has some significant limitations, there are some similarities between the function of a linguist and the function of a priest.

Text: 1 Peter 2:4-8

Purpose: Peter continues His emphasis on objects of true value, by presenting the glories all believers experience in Christ, so we will cherish Christ and live responsibly in light of these blessings and responsibilities.

Proposition: God wants me to understand the glory that comes from Christ, so I will cherish Him supremely and live responsibly as a New Covenant priest.

Doctrine 1: A priest has a unique and sacred office:

Exodus 30:30 Anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister to Me as priests.

Deuteronomy 18:1-2 The priests, the Levites– all the tribe of Levi– shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel; they shall eat the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and His portion…they shall have no inheritance among their brethren; the LORD is their inheritance.

Ezekiel 44:28 I am their inheritance. You shall give them no possession in Israel, for I am their possession.

Ezekiel 44:23 They shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.

  • Chosen by birth: Ex 30:30 Aaron and his sons
  • Set apart unto God: Ex 30:30 Consecrate them
  • Anointed for service: Ex 30:30 Anoint Aaron and his sons
  • God’s representative: Ex 30:30 That they may minister to Me as priests.
  • God’s spokesmen: Ez 44:23 They shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy
  • Sacred work: Ex 30:30 That they may minister to Me as priests.
  • God was his inheritance: Deu 18:1-2 The LORD is their inheritance

Doctrine 2: Every New Covenant believer is a priest before God: 2:5 You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood.

Important Note: He does not say some of you are,  I am, the apostles are, or the best of you are…This follows the Roman Catholic tradition that views only a select few church figures to be genuine saints and only a select few to be genuine priests.  The Reformers and the Anabaptists went against the Roman Catholic tradition and correct the understanding of the church to go back to the Biblical view.

Revelation 1:6 God has made us kings and priests…

Revelation 5:10 He made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.

Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

  • Every saint is equal importance to God
  • Every saint has equal access to God
  • All legitimate work is good, noble, and sacred when done to the glory of God

Doctrine 3: Our position as priests makes all our work sacred before God:

Colossians 3:22-24 Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God.  And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

In the medieval church, the Sacrament of Holy Orders entered those who were really “sold out” for the Lord into “full-time Christian ministry.” Christians were separated into “secular” and “religious” callings, as though those who decided to work for the church or Christian ministries were somehow more spiritual than those who engaged in “worldly” vocations. Luther records, “Whoever looked at a monk fairly drooled in devotion and had to be ashamed of his secular station in life.”10 To be sure, not all believers are ministers; God has called some to hold offices in his church. However, those who are not are no less committed to God in their secular vocations.

Against this “sacrament,” the Reformers launched their biblical notion known to us as “the priesthood of all believers.” This doctrine insists that the milkmaid has as God-honoring a calling and contributes as much as any priest, though in a different way. One need not be a monk (i.e., an employee of a Christian organization). Christians ought to be involved with the world, as salt and light. “For the right faith,” urges Luther, “does not make people give up their calling and begin a ‘spiritual’ one, like the monks do. They imagined that they were not truly Christian unless they appeared different outwardly from other people.”11 Each Christian, whatever his or her calling, serves God, and that person’s calling—whether making shoes, practicing law, dressing wounds, caring for children, or plowing the fields—is a ministry to the community on God’s behalf. What a revolutionary idea! It can be again. If even a pagan ruler can be described as ministering on God’s behalf (see Rom. 13:4), surely believers can see their secular work as fulfilling an important task in God’s world. We still need pastors, elders, and deacons, but these are special offices, not special people in the kingdom. Through these officers the whole body is equipped by the Spirit to grow up together into its Head and to brings its witness and service to the world.[1]

A cobbler could glorify God, said Luther, by making a good shoe and selling it at a fair price.[2]

  • There is to be no pride in your position both as a saint and as a priest
  • We are to walk lives that are characterized by holiness
  • We can rest confidently in the fact that we are fully equipped to do the work that God has ordained us to do in this life and in the church.
  • We are to demonstrate godliness before the world in our walk
  • We are to preach the gospel
  • We are to view our occupation as a gift from God and a  sacred stewardship
  • We are to cherish God and not God’s gifts as our true inheritance.
  • We should never elevate men just because they are gifted.

10 Quoted in Edward Plass, What Luther Says (St. Louis: Concordia, 1959), 956.

11 Ibid.

[1] Horton, M. (2011). Putting Amazing Back into Grace: Embracing the Heart of the Gospel (pp. 216–217). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] Horton, M. (2011). Putting Amazing Back into Grace: Embracing the Heart of the Gospel (p. 217). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

1 Comment

Posted by on February 21, 2014 in 1 Peter Sermons


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One response to “Understanding the Priesthood of the Believer: 1 Peter 2:4-8

  1. Lou Ann Keiser

    February 21, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Very good! I really liked your parallel with the chiefs. It’s amazing how the Bible comes more alive when we live in other cultures. God bless you!


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