The Priesthood of All Believers
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- Scriptural Teaching. Scripture clearly identifies Jesus Christ as our great high priest: “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of …
- Implications. That all believers are priests means that not only ministers but also the person in the pew has the right and authority to read, interpret, and apply the teachings …
What does the ‘priesthood of all believers’ mean?
Definition of priesthood of all believers. : a doctrine of the Protestant Christian Church: every individual has direct access to God without ecclesiastical mediation and each individual shares the responsibility of ministering to the other members of the community of believers.
Where Did the Concept of the Priesthood of Believers Come From?
- Martin Luther, a leader in the Protestant Reformation, is often linked with the concept of the priesthood of believers. Luther challenged the Roman Catholic Church’s emphasis on the special role played by the Roman Catholic priests.
- Luther insisted that every believer was a priest, with direct access to God. He did not call for the elimination of the role of pastors but indicated that all persons, not just pastors, had a priestly function. Even before Luther burst on the European church scene, various Christian groups had stressed the priesthood of believers.
- However, the concept of the priesthood of believers for Baptists does not come from the teachings of Luther or any Christian group but from the New Testament. On the basis of various New Testament passages, Baptists have insisted that every person who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ has access directly to God. Each is directly responsible to God. Each is to share the love of God.
The Priesthood of The Believer
The priesthood of each believer in Baptist thought is tied closely to another concept, that of soul competency. Each person has a God-given competence to know and follow God’s will. A decision to follow Christ as Lord and Savior is an individual decision; no one can make it for another. Being a believer priest is a gift from God, not a human achievement; it comes with salvation.
Each believer priest is responsible for his or her own actions. Individual believers can go directly to God without the aid of any intermediary. Individuals can and should read and interpret the Bible for themselves without religious officials dictating to them what to believe.
Believer priests are all equal to one another in Christ (Galatians 3:26-28). There is only one High Priest, that is Jesus Christ (Hebrews 7:23-8:13).
Each believer priest has a responsibility to be committed to Christ and to share Christ through word and deed. As Peter stated it: to “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9 NIV).
The Baptist model of a church rests on the concept of the priesthood of believers. A church is made up of persons who have exercised their God-given competency by believing in Jesus as Savior and Lord and by voluntarily associating with a particular fellowship of believers.
So, which is it? Priesthood of the believer or priesthood of believers? It is not either/or but both/and. The term “the priesthood of the believer” communicates the biblical emphasis on the individual and soul competency. The term “priesthood of believers” communicates the biblical emphasis on community and fellowship.
Throughout history in all aspects of life, a tension has existed between the individual and the group. Baptists have not escaped this tension. We do well when we refuse to elevate one above the other, but instead attempt to keep them in balance.
In summary, believers are called “kings and priests” and a “royal priesthood” as a reflection of their privileged status as heirs to the kingdom of the Almighty God and of the Lamb. Because of this privileged closeness with God, no other earthly mediator is necessary. Second, believers are called priests because salvation is not merely “fire insurance,” escape from hell. Rather, believers are called by God to serve Him by offering up spiritual sacrifices, i.e., being a people zealous for good works. As priests of the living God, we are all to give praise to the One who has given us the great gift of His Son’s sacrifice on our behalf, and in response, to share this wonderful grace with others.
Feb 09, 2012 · The term “the priesthood of the believer” communicates the biblical emphasis on the individual and soul competency. The term “priesthood of believers” communicates the biblical emphasis on community and fellowship. Throughout history in all aspects of life, a tension has existed between the individual and the group.