Sunday, October 26, 2008

Priesthood of All Believers

The royal priesthood (basileiov iepateuma) is often referenced in light of the so called "priesthood of all believers" which is often taken to diminish that role of the individual priestly office. However, iepateuma serves as an adjective to describe the unity of communion that all have in Christ, who in turn have all that which is kings, riches, righteousness, and so forth. Iepateuma is not to be applied with a rigid individualism to each believer but rather describes the corporate nature of the church, as the bride of Christ. This priesthood might also be seen in light of the Eucharist, wherby in the past only the priests could participate most intimately in the sacrificial system. Now all Christians had direct access to the sacrifice, the body of Christ, in which all its benefits were freely given. The adjectival use of Iepateuma might therefore be seen as a common fellowship around the Lamb of God. Besides, fellowship, the idea of the elect, those called by God, might also be a focus of this word. That this royal priesthood has been called out of darkness into wonderful light (Thaumastov phos) deserves some attention. In the Hellenic world the word has been used to describe various enlightened philosophies, though in the New Testament this would serve as an adjective to support a much greater mystery or revelation. In Luke, this word is linked to the various miracle accounts, which produced wonder, awe, and an other-worldly element which would have been clear. Therefore, this Greek word for wonder or astonishment should be seen not simply as having an impact on the audience but of revealing the significance of the whole history of salvation, which is to come into Christ’s light.

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