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Heidelberg Catechism LD 12: The Threefold Office of Christ (Isaiah 61:1 and Luke 3:21-22)

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 12

31 Q. Why is he called “Christ” meaning “Anointed”?

A. Beause he has been ordained by God the Father and has been anointed with the Holy Spirit
to be
our chief prophet and teacher who perfectly reveals to us
the secret counsel and will of God for our deliverance; our only high priest
who has set us free by the one sacrifice of his body, and who continually pleads our cause with the Father; and our eternal king
who governs us by his Word and Spirit, and who guards us and keeps us
in the freedom he has won for us.

  1. What is the Anointing of Christ?
    1. Anointing was a ceremony by which prophets, priests and kings were confirmed in their office by being anointed either with common, or with a particular kind of oil.
  • Anointing signifies the following:
    • An ordination, or calling to the office for which they were thus set apart.
    • The promise and bestowment of the gifts necessary for the purpose of sustaining those upon whom the burden of either of these offices was imposed.
  • Examples of people anointed in the Bible:
    • Anointing of a Priest (Leviticus 8:30) – the anointing of Aaron and his sons.
  • Anointing of a king (1 Samuel 16:13) – the anointing of David by Samuel.
  • Anointing of a prophet (1 Kings 19:19) – the anointing of Elisha by Elija.

The anointing of Elisha is unique because the manner it was done is not through the pouring of oil but through the casting of a mantle or cloak.

  • The anointing of Christ involves the participation of all three members of the Trinity. The Father is the one who anoints, Christ is the one anointed while the Holy Spirit is the anointing. In the ceremony of anointing, the Holy Spirit is being symbolically represented by the unction oil. As the oil enlivens the part of the body to which it applies and readies it for a certain work, the Holy Spirit also invigorates and empowers a person to carry out the responsibilities of his office.
  • The prophets, priests and kings in the Old Testament are mere types of the office that will me assumed by Christ. Likewise, their anointing to the said offices is only a type of the anointing that Christ will receive. The anointing of the Old Testament prophets, priest and kings are imperfect, while Christ’s anointing is perfect because he received all the gifts to the fullest. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily – Colossians 2:9.
  • How can we say that Jesus was anointed when there is nothing in the Scriptures which tells us about the ceremonial pouring of oil in his head to consecrate Him to the office of prophet, priest and king?
    • Jesus did not receive the ceremonial sign of anointing but he received what is being signified by the sign. Although he was not anointed with an unction oil, He received what is being signified by the unction oil to the fullest which is the Holy Spirit.

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; – Isaiah 61:1

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” – Luke 3:21- 22

  • How is it possible that Jesus will be anointed when He is God and as God, he already possesses all gifts?
    • The anointing of Jesus is consisted of 2 parts, the ordination to a specific office and the endowment of gifts. The ordination to the office of prophet, priest and king, touches both his human and divine nature, while the endowment of the gifts only touches his human nature.
  • The office of mediatorship which we discussed before is not a separate and distinct office from the prophetic, priestly and regal office. The office of  mediatorship is the general office of Christ which covers the other three offices. Therefore, there are only three offices Christ and not four.
    • The office of the prophet reveals to the second party (man) his reconciliation with the first party (God).
    • The office of the priest provides the sacrifice to appease the wrath of the first party and intercedes in behalf of the second party.
    • The office of the king maintains the status of the reconciliation by preserving/protecting the second party.
  • With this, we can say that Moses is a type of Christ because as the mediator of the Old Covenant he also possesses the threefold offices.

Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring would come to whom the promise had been made; and it was ordained through angels by a mediator. Now a mediator involves more than one party; but God is one. – Galatians 3:19-20

  • Moses is the mediator of the Old Covenant because the law, which is the written terms and conditions of the Old Covenant (Covenant of God with the Nation of Israel) was given through him. And if ever the terms of the covenant will be violated by the second party, he should go in between the first and second party to mediate. In doing that, he assumed the threefold office.
    • Prophet – He became God’s spokesperson to the people, not only in proclaiming to them the law but also in reconciling them to God when they sin.
    • Priest – although he is not the High Priest in a strict sense, we know that He took on some of the responsibilities of a priest by anointing the High Priest Aaron and his sons, offering sacrifices to God, and interceding on behalf of the people when God almost destroyed them because of their sins.
    • King – He ruled and govern Israel and led its armies in its fight against its enemies.
  • The Prophetic Office of Christ
    • Jesus is the greater prophet that was spoken of by Moses in Deut. 18:15. Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you from your own people a prophet like me. You must listen to whatever he tells you. – Acts 3:22
  • A prophet is a person called of God, to declare and explain his will to men concerning things present or future. A prophet is either a minister, or the head and chief of the prophets, which is Christ.
  • The prophets of the Old Testament were persons immediately called, and sent of God to his people:
    • that they might reprove their errors and sins, by threatening punishment upon offenders, and inviting men to repentance.
    • that they might declare and expound the true doctrine and worship of God, and preserve it from falsehood and corruption. They call out and confront idolaters and false teachers.
    • they might make known and illustrate the promise of the Messiah—the benefits of his kingdom
    • might foretell events that were to come, having the gift of miracles, and other sure and divine testimonies so that they could not err in the doctrine which they declared
    • sustaining certain relations to the state, and performing duties of a civil character – they advise, anoint and even rebuke kings.
  • The prophet of the New Testament specially so called, was a person immediately called of God, and furnished with the gift of prophecy for the purpose of:
    • Foreseeing, and foretelling things to come such were Paul, Peter, Agabus, etc.
  • Whoever has the gift of understanding, explaining, and applying the Holy Scriptures to the edification of the church, and individuals (prophet in a general sense)
  • Christ is the greatest and chief prophet, and was immediately ordained of God, and sent by him from the very commencement of the church in Paradise, for the purpose of revealing the will of God to the human race.

No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. – John 1:18

I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. – John 15:15

  • The difference between Jesus and the other prophets:
    • Christ is the Son of God, and Lord of all; the other prophets were only men, and servants of Christ
    • Christ brought forth and uttered the word immediately from the Father to men; other prophets and apostles are called and sent by Christ.
    • The prophetical wisdom of Christ is infinite; for even according to his humanity, he excelled all others in every gift.
    • Christ is the fountain of all truth, and the author of the ministry: other prophets merely proclaim and reveal what they receive from Christ
    • The doctrine of Christ is clearer and more complete than that of Moses and all the other prophets.
    • Christ had authority of himself; others have their authority from Christ
  • The Priestly Office of Christ
    • Jesus did not derive his priestly office from the order or Aaron or Levi, for Jesus is from the tribe of Judah. For it is attested of him, “You are a priest forever,

according to the order of Melchizedek.” – Hebrews 7:17

  • A priest in general is a person appointed of God, for the purpose of offering oblations and sacrifices, for interceding and teaching others. In the Old Testament, there is one High Priest and the rest are inferior priest. The peculiar things about the office of the High Priest are the following:
    • That he alone entered once every year into the sanctuary, or most holy place, and that with blood which he offered for himself, and the people, burning incense and making intercession.
    • He had a more splendid and gorgeous apparel than the others.
    • He was placed over the rest.
    • He offered sacrifice, and made intercession for himself and the people.
    • He was to be consulted in matters or questions that were doubtful, weighty and obscure, and returned to the people the answer which God directed him to give.
  • The four principal parts of the priestly office of Christ are as follows:
  • To teach men, and that in a different manner from all others, who are called to act as priests; for he does not merely speak to the ear by his word, but effectually inclines the heart by his Holy Spirit.
    • To offer himself a sacrifice for the sins of the world.

He entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. –

Hebrews 9:12

  • To make continual intercession and prayer for us to the Father.

Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us – Romans 8:34

For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. – Hebrews 9:24

  • To apply his sacrifice unto those for whom he intercedes
  • The difference between the priestly office of Christ and those of other priests:
    • The latter teach only with the external voice; Christ teaches also by the inward and efficacious working of the Holy Spirit.
    • Other priests do not make continual intercession, nor do they always obtain those things for which they pray
    • They do not apply their own benefits to others.
    • They do not offer themselves a sacrifice for others.
  • The Regal Office of Christ
    • “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” – Matthew 21:5
  • A king is a person ordained of God, that he may rule over a certain people, according to just laws, that he may have power to reward the good and punish the evil, and that he may defend his subjects, not having any one superior or above him.
  • The kingly office of Christ involves the following:
    • To rule the church by his word and Spirit, which he does in such a manner that he does not only show us what he would have accomplished in us, but also so inclines and affects the heart by his Spirit, that we are led to do the same.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember,

I am with you always, to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:18-20

  • He preserves and defends us against our enemies, both external and internal, which he does by protecting us by his almighty power, arming us against our foes, that we may by his Spirit, be furnished with every weapon necessary for resisting and overcoming them.

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. – John 10:28

  • To bestow upon his church gifts and glory; and finally, to liberate her from all evils; to control and overcome all his enemies by his power, and at length, having fully subdued them, to cast them into inconceivable misery and wretchedness.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming,
“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Messiah,
for the accuser of our comrades has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.
But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony,
for they did not cling to life even in the face of death. – Revelation 12:10-11.

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