I have made the case in the last two posts that each person is called to ministry and that the clergy/laity distinction is a false one. Does this mean that we are to be a totally egalitarian community? Are there roles of authority and how do they function in the life of the church? I want to begin an investigation of this question by first visiting Calvin’s idea of Jesus and munus triplex, “the triple office."
As we read through the Old Testament we discover that there were three types of offices to which people were anointed or ordained, if you will: prophets, priests and kings. Each of these played a vital role in the life of Israel. Jesus life, death and resurrection changed all this.
Hebrews tells us that Jesus functions as our high priest, but he is unlike any high priest who has come before. Hebrews 5:6 says that he was a priest “according to the order of Melchizedek.” Melchizedek was the King-Priest of Salem who blessed Abraham in Genesis 14. The New Testament is filled with references to Jesus Lordship. Jesus was also known as a prophet and certainly he excelled beyond all others in “telling forth” God’s purposes and bringing hope as he brought people to repentance and faith. Jesus fulfilled all three offices. At no point after Jesus’ resurrection is there an anointing to these three offices.
With the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, individual believers had direct access to God. Bruce Waltke and Jerry MacGreggor in Finding the Will of God: A Pagan Notion? point out that all through the Old Testament, decisions were made by casting lots, using the “urim and thummim,” and “fleeces” to discern God’s will. The last instance of this we see is with the selection of Matthias as the disciple to replace Judas just before Pentecost. From that point on, divination is no longer needed, because we have direct communication with God through the Holy Spirit. Christ is our mediator and we no longer need earthly priests.
Christ is the prophet, priest, and king. None of us individually is prophet, priest or king but because we are united to Christ as his body, we corporately fulfill these functions to the world. As Chirst’s body we fulfill the munus triplex. With this in mind, I want to take a look at the first sixteen verses of Ephesians 4.