The Orthodox Faith
For St Paul Orthodox Youth Society - Brisbane
By Fr. John Abdel-Karim
19 - THE THREE OFFICES OF CHRIST
Original sin brought a general deterioration and collapse to mankind. This distortion had three main characteristics:
a) It brought a certain darkness of mind, making us unable clearly to see truth and understand what is correct and proper, unable to distinguish good from evil.
b) Conquered by sin, the will became enslaved to sin, unable to resist and overcome.
c) With the Fall, mankind became guilty before God, and was condemned to eternal death.
Christ had to save mankind from this general deterioration and collapse. As Prophet, he had to cleanse the mind and teach it truth. As High Priest, he had to sanctify and justify it. As King, he had to redeem it. St. Paul presents these three offices of Christ briefly when he states that, He "was made to be our wisdom [the Prophetic office], our righteousness and sanctification [the office of High Priest], and our redemption [the Royal office]" (ICorinthians, 1:30).
Therefore, Christ has three offices: the Prophetic (that of Prophet), the Archieratical (that of High Priest), and the Royal (that of King).
However, no one should believe that these are three separate offices. They are indissolubly intermingled and united in the One and Same Person,
the God-man Redeemer.
The Prophet Isaiah is referring primarily to the Prophetic office of Christ when he says, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted . . . to proclaim liberty to the captives and to make the blind see again" (Isaiah, 61:1). Christ Himself preached "as One having authority" so that His enemies admitted that "no one ever spoke as this man." And He said of Himself that He is "the Way,the Truth, and the Light" and "the Light of the world", and that whoever follows Him "will not walk in darkness but shall have the Light of Life" (John 8:12). His Disciples characterized Him as "a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people" (Luke, 24:19).
Fallen man was unable to perfect himself, however, only by the teaching of truth and the enlightenment of the mind. He required a High Priest to sacrifice Himself upon the Cross in order to lift up and crucify our sins and sanctify us. This High Priest was and is Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God, Who "died for our sins" (I Corinthians, 15:3). As High Priest, "He Himself bore our sins in His Body on the Tree, that we might die to sin and live unto righteousness" (I Peter, 2:24). "Christ appeared as a High Priest of the good things that have come, that through the greater and more perfect Tent (not made with hands) (Hebrews, 8:1-2) . . . not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His Own Blood, He might enter once and for all into the Holy Place, thus securing an eternal redemption" (Hebrews 9: 12). However, the redemption of man required a redeemer with authority, with a Royal office. As the Only-begotten Son of God, Christ is truly a King with authority, "King of Kings and Lord of Lords." As God-man upon earth, He used His Royal Authority when He preached; when He performed miracles and overturned the natural order of things; when He triumphantly entered Jerusalem; and when He drove out the moneychangers.
The humility of the God-man found culmination upon the Cross with the words, "It is fulfilled." And then His Royal Authority shone forth and as Triumphant Victor, Christ descended to Hades. He destroyed its gates. He shattered the kingdom of Hades and the realm of death. "He resurrected the dead who were there for ages." He was resurrected as the All-Powerful God and the Lord of Life and Death, because "it was not possible for the Author of our life to be held by corruption," and He proclaimed that "all authority in Heaven and earth has been given to Me" (Matthew, 28:18). He ascended to Heaven. He sits at the right hand of the Father and as a true King He governs the entire Church, which is triumphant in Heaven and militant on earth. Mankind will have full evidence of His Royal Authority at the time of His second coming, when He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
The successors of the Apostles, that is, the Bishops and the Priests, continue in the Church the pedagogical, sanctifying, and redeeming work of Christ.
LET US PRAY
Saviour of the world, God-man Christ, we acknowledge that You are the Great Prophet, the sole High Priest, and the true King. Teach us the truth. Enlighten our minds. Take out of our minds the cobwebs and rust of our sinful ideas. Bathe us with Your redeeming Blood and wash us clean. Sanctify us. Free us from the bonds of sin. Restore us to our original condition. Come quickly in Your Second Coming to judge us and justify us. Judge and condemn us not, even though that is what we deserve. Forgive us and grant us Your Eternal Kingdom.