Peter and the Priesthood

When we decided to study 1 Peter I said that we would be dealing with some of the most contentious issue in Christian life, and today’s lesson is certainly no exception. 

But to begin we should go back to 1:23.  Here Peter reminds us of the temporal nature of our lives versus the eternal nature of our new lives and God’s word and ends in 1:25 with “this was the word that was preached to your.” Then he starts Chapter 2 urging us, on the basis of the eternal nature of our rebirth and God’s word, to rid ourselves of the sins which plague our natural lives and be like newborn spiritual babies craving spiritual milk.  He also notes this is a means, not an end, because the spiritual milk is to enable us to grow up in salvation.

Growth is necessary because babies are not priests (usually).  It is this office to which Christians (some or all, depending upon to whom you speak) have been called.  It is the nature of this calling that has caused much dissension among Christians. 

Of all Christians, at least of all the Christians he is directly addressing, Peter says they (we) are called to be:

  • Living stones.
  • Parts of a spiritual house.
  • A holy priesthood.
  • Offerers of spiritual sacrifices.
  • A chosen people.
  • A royal priesthood.
  • A holy nation.
  • A special possession of God.

He uses various quotes from from the LXX, 4 from Isaiah and from Psalms to argue his claim that Jesus is the cornerstone of this spiritual temple and, by extension, the priesthood as well.

Some questions:

  1. What are the characteristics and uses of a temple?
  2. What are the functions, duties and prerogatives of a priest?
  3. Which Christians has Peter said are part of the temple/priesthood?

There are generally three views about priesthood in Christianity:

  1. Only certain Christians are called to be priests, they are a distinct class within the body of believers.
  2. All believers, in the aggregate, comprise the priesthood of all believers, a corporate, not individual entity.
  3. Each believer, individually, is a priest.

Which do you think is best supported by the current passage from 1 Peter and other scripture?  How might these different views affect how you live your life as a Christian. does it really matter in the end?

Peter ends the section by reminding us that, as a chosen people, just as the Children of Israel were chosen, it was out of Gods mercy, because of His will and not of our own innate goodness that we were chosen. That we were chosen to honor God by “declaring the praises of him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light” and “offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (worshiping in spirit and truth?).  As priests our purposes and desires are no longer our own, but God’s.