The Church “A Royal Priesthood”
(Pictures Of The Church )
We begin reading 1 Peter 2:1-12, a lengthy text, but so informative to our lesson.
“Putting away therefore all wickedness, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2as newborn babes, long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation; 3if ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious: 4unto whom coming, a living stone, rejected indeed of men, but with God elect, precious, 5ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6Because it is contained in scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: And he that believeth on him shall not be put to shame. 7For you therefore that believe is the preciousness: but for such as disbelieve, The stone which the builders rejected, The same was made the head of the corner; 8and, A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence; for they stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: 10who in time past were no people, but now are the people of God: who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 11Beloved, I beseech you as sojourners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12having your behavior seemly among the Gentiles; that, wherein they speak against you as evil-doers, they may by your good works, which they behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Our text is one of those marvelous passages indicating what the church is and purpose. Peter begins in verse 1-2 with the figure of the new birth. Notice again 1 Peter 2:1-2
Putting away therefore all wickedness, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2as newborn babes, long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grow thereby (literally aujtw'/ therein) unto salvation;
Christ has been put on in baptism (Gal. 3:27) and the apostle gives five evils to be put away. And as newborn babes (brevfo") the earliest stages of infancy, desire or long for the spiritual milk (logikov") logical or rational milk, appealing to and sustaining man’s reasoning, rather than ordinary milk that sustains the physical body. This word appears one other time Romans 12:1 and describes our service.
1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service.
But now the writer turns to the figure of a building, I call your attention again to the text 1 Peter 2:5 and verse 9 respectively
5you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.….. 9But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;:
Here Peter declares that the followers of the Lord (ye plural) the church is built up into a spiritual house, the members are designated here as priests.
Consider these questions
“Who has the authority to perform a wedding ceremony? Who can conduct a funeral? Who can baptize a penitent believer into Christ? Who can administer the Lord’s supper?” Most of the religious would answer, these are done by one who is an ordained preacher, only a member of the clergy, could perform these functions.
I have often been asked if I am a licensed pastor. Well I am not a pastor to begin with, a pastor is the office of an elder or overseer, whose qualifications are specifically laid out in (1Timothy 3:1-70 and again (Titus 1:5-7). But I have found talking to those who enter the preaching field in the religious world that there is an extensive training and schooling program, at the conclusion a license and a title “pastor”
As we are considering this is interesting to note that there is no special ordination ceremony mentioned in the New Testament for those who would begin to preach Christ’s gospel. Not only is there no example of an ordination ceremony, but neither are there instructions about how such a ceremony should be conducted.
Perhaps even more basic is the fact that there is no distinction in all of the New Testament: between what is generally today called clergy and laity. All of the Christians were and are “saints” - And according to our text,
9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people” there are no distinctions of the clergy-laity variety among God children.
Martin Luther, as perhaps the foremost leader of the Reformation Movement, advocated “the priesthood of all believers.” This was a very radical but vital change. Luther advocated also, “the opening of the Bible to all Christians.” Together, these were two of the greatest and most significant contributions of the entire Reformation Movement. Notice particularly from our text in 1 Peter 2, the expressions “holy priesthood” and “offer up spiritual sacrifices.” (verses 5 and 9).
From these statements, it is obvious that every Christian is a priest and as such is : Empowered to engage or lead in worship. Under the law of Moses the priests constituted a special class, and only they were empowered to officiate in worship, and most of the religious world today still practices this. But 1 Peter 2:5 declares:
5ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
the kind of sacrifices which we are to offer up as a holy priesthood is to offer is described as: “Spiritual” to distinguish them in nature and character from those offered under the law of Moses. They are “spiritual sacrifices” conforming to the type of building we are: “are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices”
Prayer, praise, giving, indeed all the items and acts of worship are figuratively included in the sacrifices which Christians as priests officiate under Christ the High Priest.
The Hebrew letter plainly indicates that Christ is our high priest, and that each Christian need not go to God through the medium of an earthly priest or mediator, but that he can come directly to God through Christ as high priest. A comforting passage is Hebrews 4:14-16
14Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Continuing in 1 Peter 2:9
9But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:
Peter describes in this verse the people of God as “an elect nation”. We are “an elect nation”, because we have been chosen from the Greek word used here, (ejklektov"v) chosen to salvation.
How does God choose us to “salvation”? God calls us by the gospel, out of sin and into salvation. 2 Thessalonians 2:14. I was called to preach (through the gospel) In as much as the gospel is addressed to all nations, every creature, it follows that all who heed the calling to become obedient children become the elect of God, thus “an elect nation”.
But notice next, he describes the church “a royal priesthood” This priesthood is “royal” because of its relationship to Christ the King of kings. We constitute “a holy nation” because we are dedicated to a holy or sacred purpose, “a people for God’s own possession,”
We are God’s own children, and this gives me the opportunity to use one of my favorite verses 1 John 3:1-3
“Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this cause the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is. 3And every one that hath this hope set on him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”
As a “royal priesthood” as children of God, we read in 1 Peter 2:1-2
1Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby
Grow into “elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” …..”that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: To show forth literally to “proclaim, to publish abroad” This verse reveals the obligation of all God’s children to herald the gospel tidings.
In our last picture of “ The Church The Body), we stated, in both Romans chapter 12 and I Corinthians chapter 12 , Paul uses the figure of the human body, with its several parts. He makes the comparison between this physical body and the spiritual body of Christ, the church. In the church there are many members, all equally necessary and important in God’s sight, and we each are to function according to their abilities and training.
But we all share a common goal of proclaiming the gospel. Allow me to illustrate this: In Acts chapter 6 we read of the problem that arose concerning the neglect of the Grecian widows. (Acts 6:2-7) Seven men were chosen to serve tables. Among these we find the names of Stephen and Philip. And the point that I wish to make, is that later in this same chapter we find Stephen preaching with great power and in chapter seven we read this magnificent sermon. Here was a man who was chosen to serve tables, but who was one of the great early preachers.
The same story is found in connection with Philip, who began by serving tables. But notice this man as we come to Acts 8:4-6
4Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere
preaching the word. 5Then Philip went down to the city of
In Acts 16, we read of Paul at
We find this same situation in connection with
the apostles. They were fishermen,
farmers, tax-collectors, and the like. The rulers at
They were simply average men who were deeply impressed with Christ and his teaching, and who became the great evangelists who established and launched the early church. They knew nothing about certain ones set apart by special ordination services to be clergy, who would then have the responsibility of preaching, while all other Christians would be marked as laity.
What Is the Meaning of the Priesthood of All Believers?
First it means that all Christians have free and direct access to God’s throne, without the necessity of priest or human mediator. Secondly, it means that every Christian is a priest or minister, and has a ministry to perform. He cannot ignore this responsibility and cannot shift its fulfillment to someone else.
Looking further into our text 1 Peter 2:9 suggest this thought:
9But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;:
People often have the idea that the primary responsibility for the Lord’s work rests upon preachers and elders. Preachers and elders alone, however, cannot do all that must be done. When the responsibility to preach to Christians, to evangelize, to administer, to help those in need, to counsel, to visit, and the other works of the church are placed upon preachers it becomes an impossible task.
Every Christian must be active in the Lord’s work if it is to be done well. The idea that being a Christian makes only a few demands on a person: is not the case of Christianity. Being a Christian makes heavy demands upon each of us. “When one unites with the community of believers, when one enters into the priesthood of believers, he is thereby uniting with Jesus in God’s redemptive purpose in the world.” Every Christian is a minister and has the responsibilities of helping in the Lord’s Cause.
I close with this thought, that the Lord wants Christians to live clean, pure lives among their fellowmen, 1 Pet 2;11-12
11Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
We must be examples of honesty, truthfulness, and integrity. We must possess wholesome, cheerful, positive attitudes. and must love those about us, have time for them, and help meet their needs. When we do this we will find people with open hearts and minds whom they may teach and guide to Christ.
Every Christian a minister, working actively each day in the world of men, is the New Testament pattern. The primary emphasis, therefore, ought not to be what is done on Sunday in the church building, but rather upon what is done in the world during the week. We ought to measure the greatness of the church, not by how many attend on Sunday, but rather by what those who attend do in the world during the week. Every Christian is needed and expected in the Lord’s work. Every Christian is called to work for the Lord.
I invite you to join this priesthood of believers extolling the name of Christ
Ron Cope Minister churches of Christ