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The Royal Priest • Episode 7
We Are the Royal Priesthood
51m • April 12, 2021
After Jesus’ disciples receive the Holy Spirit, they become God’s temple and the physical embodiment of Jesus on earth. This has huge implications for our understanding of what it means to be the church today and live in unity. Dive into this discussion with Tim and Jon as they unpack what it means for followers of Jesus to be the royal priesthood, now and in eternity.
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[Paul’s language in Romans 12:1 shows us] each of us individually has a body, and all of us together present them as one sacrifice, one unified act of surrender, and that is how you do your priestly duties: collectively surrendering yourselves to God’s will. This is the culmination of Romans 1-11. So what does that mean? What does Paul have in mind? What counts as an act of communal sacrifice? Usually when this passage is brought up in different communities, people fill in what they think that sacrifice would be. And for Paul it’s all about two tribes, Jew and non-Jew, finding unity.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • When the disciples receive the Holy Spirit, God’s heavenly temple presence transfers to a group of people who are also his temple. One of the defining characteristics of this temple is it brings Jews and non-Jews together in one unified family, in a way nothing else ever has or can.
  • Paul depicts Jesus’ followers as “his body,” composed of individual bodies that function together as a priesthood which offers itself as a singular, corporate sacrifice to God’s will.
  • The New Testament writers show us that followers of Jesus carry the responsibility to live as royal priests forward into eternity. The story of the Bible ends where it began: in a garden where the great cosmic priest, Jesus, is one with humanity, working alongside the human royal priesthood.

Jesus is Still Physically Present on Earth

In part one (0:00-6:56), Tim and Jon sum up humanity’s calling to live as priests in the world––mediators between God and other humans––as part of what it means to be bearers of the image of God. The story of the Bible follows the humans God chooses as priests (from Adam and Eve to Abraham, Moses, David, etc.) as they fail at their callings and end up in need of a priest themselves.

The culmination of this story is in Jesus. He is the place where heaven and earth connect. He is the human who perfectly fulfills God’s will, the temple, the priest, the sacrifice, and the person in whom God and humans are one as they were always meant to be.

When Jesus ascends in his human flesh to reign at the right hand of the Father, he also takes his place as humanity’s eternal cosmic priest, interceding on our behalf. At the same time, Jesus is still physically present on earth in and through his body, the church.

God’s Living Temple

In part two (6:56-16:13), Tim and Jon discuss how the body of Christ, a place where people of different nationalities unite, is also the temple, the place heaven and earth unite.

Right before Jesus’ ascension, he announces to the disciples that they will receive power from on high to be his witnesses (Acts 1:3-9). In Acts 2, as Israel celebrates Pentecost (the “seventh seven,” which is seven-times-seven days after Passover), the disciples are filled with the Holy Spirit in a dramatic rush of wind and fire. The appearance of wind, fire, and “filling” brings together many Old Testament passages where God’s fiery and windy presence comes to fill the tabernacle and temple (Exodus 40, Leviticus 9, 1 Kings 8).

God’s heavenly temple presence transfers to a group of people, who are also his temple. One of the defining characteristics of this temple is that it brings together Jews and non-Jews into one unified family in a way nothing else ever has or can (Ephesians 2:19-22).

One Unified Sacrifice

In part three (16:13-31:55), the team looks at Paul’s understanding of the oneness of all believers, through the lens of Romans 12.

Romans 12:1
Therefore I urge you [all y’all], brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your [all y’all’s] bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your true and proper service of worship.

Paul here depicts Jesus’ followers as “his body,” composed of individual bodies that function together as a priesthood which offers itself as a singular, corporate sacrifice to God’s will (just as Jesus did on the cross).

What counts as a sacrifice for Paul? We often answer this question with whatever makes the most sense to us as individuals. What Paul has in view here is sacrifice for the sake of unity––followers of Jesus laying down their individual preferences so that they can avoid being divided along the same lines as the rest of humanity. The verses following Romans 12:1 are Paul’s instructions for how to live in this unity (Romans 12:2-10).

The integrity of Jesus’ mission on earth depends on his followers’ willingness to live in unity, fulfilling his will.

Followers of Jesus are the Royal Priesthood

In part four (31:55-42:35), Tim and Jon explore what it means for followers of Jesus to collectively be the royal priesthood.

1 Peter 2:4-10
And coming to him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. … You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. For you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God. You had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Recalling imagery from Isaiah 43 (“a chosen race”) and Exodus 19 (“a royal priesthood,” “a holy nation,” “a people for God’s own possession”), Peter is describing a new Exodus people who will proclaim God’s praise among the nations and whose priestly sacrifices will take the form of mutual submission and honoring others before themselves (see Philippians 4:18 and Hebrews 13:15-16). In this case, surrendering to God is surrendering to others.

Royal Priests in the Garden (Again)

In part five (42:35-end), the team turns their attention to the book of Revelation, where John describes the people of Jesus using the language of Exodus 19:4-6, calling them the royal priesthood three times.

In Revelation 1:4-6, 5:9-10, and 20:6, John depicts followers of Jesus as eternally living and working as priests in the garden of God, the fulfillment of all that God intended humanity to be from the beginning.

Revelation 22:1–5
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

The story of the Bible ends where it all began: in a garden where the great cosmic priest, Jesus, is one with humanity, working alongside the human royal priesthood.

Additional Resources

Show Music

  • “Defender (Instrumental)” by TENTS
  • “Loving Someone You Lost” by The Field Tapes
  • “Friends Circle” by Sitting Duck
  • “Two For Joy” by Foxwood
  • “Fills the Skies” by Pilgrim

Show produced by Dan Gummel and Cooper Peltz. Show notes by Lindsey Ponder.

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Priest E1  –  1hr 2m
Priests of Eden
1hr 2m
Priest E2  –  44m
Who Was Melchizedek?
44m
Priest E3  –  49m
Doomed to Fail?
49m
Priest E4  –  1hr 1m
David, the Leaping Priest-King
1hr 1m
Priest E5  –  57m
The High Priest Showdown
57m
Priest E6  –  1hr 2m
The Priest of Heaven and Earth
1hr 2m
Priest E7  –  51m
We Are the Royal Priesthood
51m
47m
An interview featuring Rev Dr Amy Peeler  –  1hr 2m
Jesus, Melchizedek, and the Priestly Line
1hr 2m
An interview featuring Dr. Josh Mathews  –  1hr 3m
Why Melchizedek Matters
1hr 3m
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