6 The Letter to the Hebrews calls Jesus ‘priest’ six times and ‘high priest’ ten times. For further leads and statistics on the titles of Jesus in the New Testament, see G. O’Collins, ‘Images of Jesus and Modern Theology’, in S. E. Porter et al. (eds), Images of Christ Ancient and Modern (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997), 128 43; id., ‘Images of Jesus: Reappropriating Titular Christology’, Theology Digest, 44 (1997), 303 18; id., ‘Jesus as Lord and Teacher’, in J. C. Cavadini and L. Holt (eds.), Who Do You Say That I Am? Confessing the Mystery of Christ (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2004), 51 61.

It is crushingly obvious that, for the authors of the New Testament, ‘priest’, ‘prophet’, and ‘king’ are not disconnected but are strictly interrelated in articulating a threefold dimension of Christ’s ministry and redemptive work. These three titles and the ‘offices’ to which they refer mutually condition each other. Christ’s priestly role is also prophetic and kingly; his prophetic role is also priestly and kingly; his kingly role is also prophetic and priestly.


The priesthood of Christ involved him not only in being tried and tested but also in becoming vulnerable to lethal persecution. By speaking merely of his ‘sacrifice’, BEM and the Final Report were content to use an umbrella term to recall Christ’s sufferings, but did not pause to recognize, as Hebrews does, how extreme vulnerability belonged to the ‘job description’ of Christ’s priesthood. By becoming a human priest, the incarnate Son of God made himself vulnerable to suffering and violent death (Heb. 5: 7–8). Becoming a priest involved becoming a victim—a new and disturbing aspect of Christ’s priesthood. This becoming personally the victim took him quite beyond the job description not only of Levitical priests (who sacrificed animals as victims) but also of Melchizedek (who offered some bread and wine and was held up by Hebrews as foreshadowing Jesus the High Priest to come). BEM and the Final Report rightly invoke ‘sacrifice’ when sketching the nature of Christ’s priesthood. But they would have followed Hebrews more closely if they had also mentioned that Christ accepted in faith the suffering destiny involved in realizing to the full his own priesthood—a theme cherished by the French School. In preparing for the picture of Jesus whose own faith led him to endure the shame and extreme pain of death by crucifixion (Heb. 12: 2).7