What Does it Mean That Jesus Is Prophet, Priest, and King?

In Jesus, God has given us the perfect Prophet, Priest, and King. Through these roles in the new covenant, he is the absolute leader for our spirit, soul, and body.

Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
Updated Jan 10, 2022
What Does it Mean That Jesus Is Prophet, Priest, and King?

In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel was led by three distinct kinds of people. These were known as prophets, priests, and kings. Each of these roles was separate from one another. One man didn’t wear more than one title. Because of this, it’s important to note that Jesus is called all three.

We’re familiar with Jesus as Savior, but what does it mean for him to wear the titles of Prophet, Priest, and King?

What it Means That Jesus Is a Prophet

The role of a prophet in the Old Testament was to speak the word of God. Some would foretell events, perform healings, and/or do miracles.

Jesus did all these things.

The first recorded miracle Jesus performed was when he turned water into wine at a wedding in Cana. Over and over Jesus performed healings.

And large crowds came to Him, bringing with them those who were lame, crippled, blind, mute, and many others, and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them (Matthew 15:30).

And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them (Matthew 21:14).

Multiple times he told his disciples about his death and resurrection that was going to happen. He spoke of Judas’s betrayal and Peter’s denial before it took place. Jesus revealed to his disciples what the owner of the donkey that he rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday would say to them. These are just a few examples.

Also, he not only spoke the word of God, but Jesus is the Word of God.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:1-5,14).

Moses is an Old Testament prophet who foretold of a prophet to come. Jesus is that Prophet.

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him (Deuteronomy 18:15).

The fulfillment of the prophecy is found in Jesus.

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe (Hebrews 1:1-2).

Jesus isn’t just a prophet, he’s the Prophet we’re told to listen to.

What it Means That Jesus Is a Priest

In the Old Testament, the priests were the temporary mediators between God and man. They offered the sacrifices required under the law. Within that priesthood was a single High Priest. He alone offered the sacrifice on the day of atonement that cleansed the people for one year.

Jesus not only fulfilled the role of a priest but he exceeded the role of the High Priest removing our sins forever.

First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”— though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, (Hebrews 10:8-12).

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).

Jesus not only forgave us all of our sins, but he’s the Good Shepherd and ever available as our compassionate advocate.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Jesus isn’t just a priest, he’s our forever Priest, the only mediator we need.

What it Means That Jesus Is King

In the Old Testament, God never wanted Israel to have a human as king. The lineage of kings was God allowing his people to have what they asked — to be like other nations — and accept the consequences.

The Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them (1 Samuel 8:7).

God knew the dangers of men ruling over men and understood the heart of the problem. Prophecies came forth paving the way for the restoration of the true King, God himself in Christ Jesus, the Son of David.

And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever (2 Samuel 7:16).

A king is one who has the rightful complete authority over another. This position was decreed over Jesus before his birth.

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:31-33).

Jesus isn’t just a king; he holds all authority and is the King of Kings and the Lord of lords (Matthew 18:18; Revelation 19:16).

What it Means for Us

Jesus is the Word made flesh, Love made flesh, and the rightful ruler made flesh. In him, God has given us the perfect Prophet, Priest, and King. Through these roles in the new covenant, he is the absolute leader for our spirit, soul, and body.

Apostles Called to be Prophet, Priest, King

Eric McKiddie shares that In Acts 6:1-6, the apostles model this triune shepherding priority for us.

The apostles as prophets

This role is clear throughout the New Testament, and especially the beginning of Acts. Peter and the other apostles teach, and the young Christian community devoted themselves to their teaching (Acts 2:42).

In Acts 6, the apostles declare that their word ministry is the most important thing they do, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables” (6:2).

So as they confront this issue of favoritism, they do not forsake their main responsibility of teaching.

The apostles as priests

We see the apostles’ commitment to priestly ministry in two ways.

The first was to ensure that the widows were cared for by appointing men “to this duty” (6:3). Caring for widows is ministry of mercy and compassion, a priestly ministry.

But it is not as if the apostles wanted to sit in their study, sport their tweed jackets, and puff their pipes without being bothered by the flock. They were fully committed to priestly ministry themselves, too.

We see this in the second priestly ministry the apostles committed, the ministry of prayer: “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (6:4).

The apostles as kings

Lastly, we see the apostles as exemplary kings in these verses.

It’s not explicit on the face the passage, but it is abundantly clear nevertheless. Take note of all the “kingly” actions the apostles take:

  1. They held a congregational meeting: “And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples” (6:2).
  2. They delegated fixing the problem to men who are qualified: “…men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty” (6:3).
  3. They even delegated the task of choosing the delegates! “Therefore, brothers [i.e., the full number the disciples], pick out from among you seven men…” (6:3).
  4. They ordained the newly founded deaconate: “These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them” (6:6).

A apostles were prototypical prophets, priests, and kings.

©iStock/Getty Images Plus/rickschroeppel

Danielle Bernock is an international, award-winning author, coach, and speaker who helps people embrace their value and heal their souls through the power of the love of God. She’s written Emerging With Wings, A Bird Named PaynLove’s ManifestoBecause You Matter, and hosts the Victorious Souls Podcast. A long-time follower of Christ, Danielle lives with her husband in Michigan near her adult children and grandchildren. For more information or to connect with Danielle https://www.daniellebernock.com/


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