It was in universal terms that he understood the promise to have been fulfilled that prophecy would be revived in the ‘last days’ (Acts 2: 14–21).2

2 See J. A. Fitzmyer, The Acts of the Apostles (New York: Doubleday, 1998), 252 4.

Like Paul (1 Cor. 12: 13), Luke assumed that all Christians received the Holy Spirit (Acts 10: 44–8), and he closely linked prophecy with the reception of the Spirit. As much as anyone, Luke could be considered the scriptural patron of the belief that all the baptized share in the prophetic office of Christ. In any case, if they share in the priestly and kingly office of Christ, they should be expected to share in his (inseparable) prophetic office. Add too the basic Christian conviction, expressed vividly by Paul and John, that faith and baptism entail being incorporated in Christ and becoming living members of his Body that is the Church. Precisely because they participate so intimately in his life, the faithful participate in his priestly, prophetic, and kingly functions. Many Christian communities express this sharing of all the faithful in the threefold office of Christ through anointing them at baptism and confirmation, and using prayers that articulate their new dignity and responsibility as priests, prophets, and kings/shepherds.

Obviously the faithful express their priestly identity at the celebration of the Eucharist when they remember and join themselves to the self-offering of Christ. But they also live out their priesthood whenever they become the means through which Christ blesses and sanctifies others: for instance, as husbands and wives and mothers and fathers. They perform their prophetic function whenever, at home, in schools, and at their workplace, they witness to their faith in Christ. In a special way, all Christian parents, teachers, writers, and artists are called to live out their prophetic office. They show their kingly responsibility and freedom by promoting the reign of Christ and by serving/leading others in the spirit of the ideal king that Isaiah vividly pictured (Isa. 11: 1–9). Few have expressed better than Luther the royal freedom and responsibility of all the baptized. But, nearly five centuries later, we need to add a major and vitally important item to the scope of this kingship as he envisaged it: namely, responsible stewardship towards our fragile earth. Caring for our planet features among the essential ‘royal’ duties of all the baptized. The Letter to the Hebrews ended by evoking the priestly sacrifices of praise and good works that should mark the existence of the faithful (see above). In the light of other New Testament sources, we should remark that they have also been anointed by the Holy Spirit (e.g. 1 John 2: 20) and sent by Christ on a threefold mission of priestly, prophetic, and royal witness in building up the community and reaching out to the world.