Published on June 13, 2024 by Eugene Ho

Crossway, 2022 | 208 pages

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance

by Steve West


Table of Contents

Introduction: Recovering the Glory of the Royal Priesthood
1 In the Beginning: The Royal Priesthood Patterned
2 The Law: The Levitical Priesthood Legislated
3 The Prophets: The Priesthood Promised, Compromised, and Promised Again
4 The Writings: The Royal Priesthood Anticipated
5 The Gospels: The Royal Priesthood Arrives
6 Acts through Revelation: The Royal Priesthood Multiplies




Introduction: Recovering the Glory of the Royal Priesthood

It is only in Christ that the glory of God can be fully revealed. The priesthood in the old covenant was a faint shadow of the priesthood of Christ, and it is through the priestly ministry of Jesus that God’s glory is revealed and shared. Without the priesthood and mediation of Christ, there would be no gospel. In the Old Testament, we find priests before the time of Moses, and we have a promise that one day after David there will be a priest-king in the order of Melchizedek. It was only under the old covenant that priests had to descend from Levi: before that time, Adam and the patriarchs were royal priests. Hebrews 5:1-4 provides a basic definition of the nature and duties of the high priest. Before the time of Aaron, the patriarchs built altars and offered blood sacrifices.

We can define priesthood in the following way: “Priests are consecrated mediators between God and his covenant people, who stand to serve at God’s altar (1) sanctifying God’s Holy Place, (2) sacrificing God’s offerings, and (3) speaking God’s covenant.” The Levitical priesthood decoupled priests from kings, but this was not the ultimate goal; in fact, the goal was for priesthood and kingship to be combined. Melchizedek the king-priest is the most important figure in Scripture for a biblical theology of priesthood. The beauty and glory of Christ’s perfect priesthood is seen in his sacrifice, sanctification, and speaking.


Chapter 1: In the Beginning

In the beginning, God created Adam to be a king and priest. Priesthood is not explicitly explained or given until Sinai, but the pattern is found in Genesis. In Genesis 1-3, we find the nexus of sanctuary, priest, and sacrifice. Adam was placed in a garden sanctuary where God’s holy presence dwelt; Eden served as the pattern for the tabernacle. Adam and Eve were to serve the Lord as priests and mediate his reign to the rest of the world. God commissioned Adam as a priest, using words that were picked up to describe priestly functions in the old covenant (i.e., work/serve or keep/guard). Subsequent biblical passages make connections between Adam, Eden, priesthood, and tabernacle. In fact, this pattern in Genesis 1-3 sets the mold for the patriarchal priestly activity, although after the fall into sin, there was a new focus on animal sacrifices.

The patriarchs serve and sanctify holy places, bring sacrifices to altars, speak to God on behalf of others, and speak for God in blessing other people. With Abel, we see that the sons of Adam called on the name of the Lord and were to offer their best sacrifices in faith to Yahweh. It is Noah who builds the first altar recorded in Scripture (Gen. 8:20), and he is commissioned to mediate God’s covenant and pronounce blessings. Abraham builds altars, makes intercession, and offers sacrifices (esp. Gen. 22). As Abraham is a priest of God through faith and his commitment, so the Levites are appointed because they are faithful to God even over their kin. Abraham’s meeting with Melchizedek (who is the king-priest) is extremely important for understanding the theology and fulfillment of priesthood. Abraham is made a priest who is similar to Melchizedek, but Christ—the seed of Abraham—is the only one who perfectly fulfills what a royal and glorious high priest was meant to be. . . .

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Crossway, 2022 | 208 pages

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