This theme finds its counterpart or ‘early intimation’ (to use Newman’s language about the development of doctrine) in the ministry of Jesus. His priestly outreach to people took a double form: he both fed them with his teaching and shared his presence with them by joining them for meals. Those meals, especially his eating with the sinful and disreputable, characterized Jesus’ priestly ministry (e.g. Mark 2: 13–17 parr.; Luke 19: 1–10). The most vivid picture of Jesus nourishing people at a ‘double table’ comes from the stories of the feeding of five thousand (Mark 6: 30–44 parr.) and then of four thousand hungry people (Mark 8: 1–10 par.). The former group seem to have been predominantly Jewish and the latter predominantly Gentile—a way of expressing how Jesus’ mission went out to all people.3

3. On the two feeding stories, see J. P. Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, ii (New York: Doubleday, 1994), 950 66, 1022 38.

In the first story Jesus ‘taught’ (Mark 6: 34), ‘healed’ the sick (Matt. 14: 14), or both taught and healed (Luke 9: 11) before feeding them. In the second story, situated in Gentile territory (the Decapolis), a ‘great crowd’ (Mark 8: 1; see Matt. 15: 30) was drawn to Jesus by his healing and teaching activity. What he does in feeding people on both occasions foreshadows the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist. During his ministry and at its end, Jesus nourishes people in a ‘double’ and priestly way.


The three ‘offices’ of Jesus are distinguishable but inseparable. We saw how, in Luther’s thought, Christ’s kingship was seamlessly linked with his priesthood,4 and how Calvin elaborated more effectively the doctrine of the threefold office, with Christ being inseparably priest, shepherd/ king, and prophet/teacher—a development treasured and endorsed in the twentieth century by Karl Barth.