Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: TWO TEMPLES and a NEW PRIESTHOOD

Monday, November 19, 2018


Chapter Sixteen

   When someone tells us they are a doctor, lawyer, carpenter, or accountant, we understand that the terms are connected to the work they do.  So it should be with the term Christian.  However, we have an almost complete disconnect from the term Christian and the priesthood of the believer in these last days.  In fact, most people professing to be Christian know nothing at all about the priesthood of all believers.  Sadly, even most Baptists know the term only in passing with very little knowledge of how it applies to them personally in the responsibilities to God for this honored position.  The priesthood of the believer is a trust!  Learn of what you are trusted and become “doers of the Word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22).

          That there is a physical Millennial Kingdom Temple for the Jews from which Jesus will rule the world is a prophetic promise of God in Zechariah 6:12-15.  That fact is obvious.  However, what is often missed is that there will also be a spiritual, living Temple through which Jesus will rule His one-world Kingdom.  It is to this latter Temple that Peter speaks in I Peter 2:4-12.

4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God {vocational election; Ephesians 4:1}, and precious, 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ {the believer’s High Priest}. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone {Jesus}, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded {dishonored or disgraced}. 7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders {the priesthood of Israel} disallowed {rejected}, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word {the apostate priesthood}, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed {Jesus had to be crucified and resurrected or we would have no Redeemer and no door into the New Genesis}. 9 But ye {Sela} are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers {your beliefs, practices, and customs will seem strange to the lost people of the world} and pilgrims {sojourners not yet occupying their true new citizenship of Heaven}, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12 Having your conversation {manner of living} honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers {beliefs, practices, and customs are viewed as worthless}, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God {maintain a high view of God} in the day of visitation {when Jesus finally takes believers to glory}” (I Peter 2:4-12).

          I Peter 2:9 is the all encompassing prophetic statement connecting all Church Age believers to their obligations in a new priesthood after the order of Melchizedek.  This new priesthood will become the living Temple of “lively stones” through which Jesus will rule His one-world Kingdom on Earth with a “rod of iron.”  Just as their will be obligations of that new Melchizedekian priesthood throughout the Kingdom Age, there are obligations throughout the Church Age.  

          The corruption of the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers was one of the first satanic attacks against the Church right after the attacks against the Gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Galatians 1:6-9).  This corruption of the priesthood of all believers came to be known as Nicolaitanism.  Nicolaitanism separated Christians into two divisions: ruling clergymen and stupid laity who were incapable of doing the “work of the ministry.”  Of course the vast majority of commentators on the “Nicolaitans” were “Nicolaitans,” so they found another explanation of Christ’s condemnation of the corruption in Revelation 2:6 and Revelation 2:15.  C.I. Scofield has a defining comment on this corruption that is faithful to Christ’s intended condemnation:

1 Nicolaitanes
From nikao, ‘to conquer,’ and laos, ‘the people,’ or ‘laity.’ There is no ancient authority for a sect of the Nicolaitanes. If the word is symbolic it refers to the earliest form of the notion of a priestly order, or ‘clergy,’ which later divided an equal brotherhood Mt 23:8 into ‘priests’ and ‘laity.’ What in Ephesus was ‘deeds’ Re 2:6 had become in Pergamos a ‘doctrine’ Re 2:15.”[1]

          What was the effect of the satanic corruption of doctrine of the priesthood of all believers?  The primary corruption was the creation of a hierarchy of clergy that ruled local churches abrogating the priesthood of all believers that was intended to exist in congregational polity.  The governance of local churches was literally stolen from local congregations.  Individual believers, in most part, totally lost their voice in the government of their local churches.  Who could become members of local churches became the sole discretion of the ruling clergy.  The ruling clergy also would solely determine right or wrong doctrines for local churches that would later evolve into corrupt denominations of alliances of local churches.  Once these denominations evolved, individual local congregations would no longer even have a voice in choosing who would be their pastors.  There have been all kinds of variations of this corruption down trough the centuries, but the point is that Christ hates ANY KIND of this corruption of the priesthood of all His believers.  

          The second great corruption of the doctrine of the priesthood of the believers is that individual believers (the laity) were deemed incapable of doing the “work of the ministry.”  In this corruption, it became the responsibility of the laity to fiscally support the clergy so the clergy could do the “work of the ministry.”  (PIC) Individual believers began to be viewed by the clergy as merely cows to be milked or sheep to be sheared.  The clergy became a kind of spiritual royalty to be reverenced by the laity (hence the term Reverend).  Whole cultures became Christian by proclamation of kings and by mass baptisms, without any consent of individuals, or the masses, or without any mention of personal conversion.  If the clergy was supposed to do all the “work of the ministry,” there certainly was no need for the laborious instruction necessary to “perfecting” all believers for “the work of the ministry.”  Under this scenario of Christianity, only the clergy needed Bibles and only the clergy needed to know how to read.  Everyone else were just managed.  This is NOT WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES!

14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one {Jew and Gentile in the body of Christ}, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself {the New Genesis in the last Adam} of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby {the curse of the Law}: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off {Gentiles}, and to them that were nigh {Jews}. 18 For through him {Jesus} we both {Jew and Gentile in the body of Christ} have access by one Spirit unto the Father {a privilege only of the priesthood under the Mosaic Covenant} . 19 Now therefore {in the New Covenant} ye {plural; Jew and Gentile collectively in the body of Christ} are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God {the nation of Israel}; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth {local church growth through evangelism and discipleship} unto an holy temple {of living stones} in the Lord {‘in’ the New Creation}: 22 In whom {the New Genesis in Jesus} ye also are builded together {as a living Temple of priests} for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:14-22).

        The ramifications of the corruptions of the priesthood of all believers as a living Temple through which Christ ministers is overwhelming in scope.  Along with maintaining the purity of the gift of salvation offered by grace alone and received through faith alone in Christ alone, the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers should be guarded with equal tenacity.  By corrupting the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, Satan and his deceivers were able to remove most of the appointed guardians of the Gospel allowing the wolves to become shepherds of the sheep. 

          The protective custody of the Gospel given to the priesthood of all believers is the substance of the epistle to the Hebrews.  The epistle is written to address the corruption of the Gospel by Jews, who professed to be Christians, but continued to make believers obligated to be circumcised, continue to offer the appropriate Mosaic Covenant sacrifices, subjection to the Levitical priesthood, and keep the holy days and pilgrimages to Jerusalem as necessary to keep their salvation.  These practices of the Mosaic Covenant, by their very nature, was incompletion crying out for completion; shadows crying out for the reality in Christ.  The practices of the Mosaic Covenant could never purge the believer of the penalty of his sins.  However Christ did that “once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).  This is the introductory fact of the epistle to the Hebrews. “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding {present tense} all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged {aorist tense; completion} our sins, sat down {aorist tense; completion} on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3).

          The context of the warning regarding intermingling the expectations of Mosaic Covenant incompletion to keep one’s salvation under the New Covenant of completion is the theme that runs throughout the epistle to the Hebrews.  To return to the Mosaic Covenant incompletions in any way manifests a misunderstanding of the Gospel of New Covenant completion and brings into question the reality of such a person’s conversion.  The responsibility for maintaining the purity of the New Covenant completion of redemption by the “finished” Cross-work of Jesus is very much the central responsibility of the New Covenant priesthood of all believers.  The factual statement of Hebrews 1:3 is expanded upon again and again throughout the epistle to the Hebrews.

1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling {the priesthood of all believers}, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; 2 Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. 3 For this man {priest; actually refers to the High Priesthood of Jesus, vs. 1} was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. 4 For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. 5 And Moses verily was faithful in all his house {national Israel}, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; 6 But Christ as a son over his own house {the church as the living Temple of living stones}; whose house are we, if {maintain the warning context of the epistle: this is a condemnation of Replacement Theology, which is what the Judaizers introduced into Christianity, because the New Covenant maintains a clear distinction between the Church and national Israel; the Church DOES NOT replace national Israel and the manufacturing of efficacious sacraments do NOT replace the Mosaic Covenant sacrifices} we {true New Covenant believers} hold fast the confidence {of completed redemption} and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (Hebrews 3:1-6).

The great substance of the warning to Jews professing faith in Christ but considering returning to the Mosaic Covenant is the whole of Hebrews chapter four.  The warning is equally applicable to all professing Christians adhering to any degree of Replacement Theology (Reformed or Covenant Theology).  Replacement Theology is just a Christianized form of the corruption of the Mosaic Covenant by the Levitical priesthood of Israel that made keeping the Law necessary to keeping one’s salvation. 
Once a believer understands the extensive warning of Hebrews chapter four, the rest of the epistle to the Hebrews and the “fulness of Christ” is opened to his understanding beginning with the Melchizedekian Priesthood of Christ (Hebrews chapter five through seven) and the believer’s own connection to that priesthood under the New Covenant.  The warning of the epistle to the Hebrews is that it is spiritual suicide to try to find rest in the incompleteness of the Mosaic Covenant sacrifices.  The one sacrifice of Messiah, of which Mosaic sacrifices were mere shadows, is complete and the redemption He offers by grace through faith is “finished.”

1 For the law {Mosaic Covenant sacrifices} having a shadow of good things to come {complete propitiation of God’s wrath upon sin}, and not the very image of the things {they were not the real thing; the Mosaic Covenant sacrifices merely portrayed and looked forward in anticipation of the actual once-for-all sacrifice of Messiah; 10:10, 12, 14, and 18}, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect {complete; Colossians 2:10}. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away {remove or remit the penalty of} sins” (Hebrews 10:1-4).

The pinnacle of the warning of the epistle to the Hebrews is found in Hebrews 10:10, 12, 14 and18. 

10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. . . 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:10-14 and 18).

[1] [Scofield] 1917 Scofield Reference Bible Notes, Module file location:
C:\Program Files\SwordSearcher\Modules\Scofield.ss5cmty, Module file time: 7/31/2011 7:15:28 PM UTC.

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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