Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Apostle and High Priest

"Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest whom we confess" (Hebrews 3:1).

The author of Hebrews has demonstrated that Jesus is superior to the angels and that His work was the redemption of His people. He now lays out two great themes that will occupy him for many chapters. He says that Jesus is our Apostle, and that Jesus is our High Priest.

In many ways, an apostle is to the New Testament what a prophet was to the Old. A prophet speaks for God and has authority as God’s spokesman. The same was true of the apostles in the New Testament, and preeminently of Jesus Himself. In the old covenant, however, prophets did not ordinarily govern the people. It was kings and judges who governed the people, not the prophets. In the New Testament, however, the apostles not only spoke God’s word but provided authoritative government to the early church as well.

The Greek root for apostle means “to send forth” and was used for an ambassador who had the full authority of his sovereign. Jesus as apostle exercised all of the Father’s authority. Paul exercised all of Jesus’ authority. The only prophet in the Old Testament who had that kind of rule and authority was Moses, who was both the supreme prophet of Israel and also its supreme judge. In Hebrews 3 and 4, the author is going to compare Jesus with Moses, and then with Moses’ successor, Joshua.

Then he will turn to Jesus as high priest, comparing Jesus with Aaron. While the prophet spoke for God to bring new revelation and with great authority, the priests and Levites did the routine teaching in Israel. They were the pastors. At the central sanctuary, however, the priests also offered the sacrifices. The greatest sacrifice was offered on the Day of Atonement by the high priest, who alone was allowed to go into the Holy of Holies.

Such sacrifices never took away any sin. Instead, they reminded God and the people of God’s promise that He would one day send a true and valid sacrifice. The high priest presided over this prophetic and typological system. Jesus, the supreme High Priest, presided over His own sacrificial death, the fulfillment of the Aaronic sacrificial system.

Some churches maintain that there are apostles today, or that their rulers stand in apostolic tradition with apostolic authority. If that were true, how much authority would these men have? Stand firm in your allegiance to the apostles and their revelation to us in the New Testament.