The apostle Peter makes a somewhat shocking declaration about the Christian life in the second chapter of his first epistle. Well, actually, he makes several fascinating declarations, but for now, we’ll mainly focus on one. With all its implications, contemporary Christians largely ignore this doctrine. The current religious atmosphere of flagrant biblical illiteracy probably explains why most Christians have barely noticed Peter’s inspired proclamations. Yet, the practical applications of this doctrine touch every area of daily Christian life. That little tirade aside, if you’re reading this, you aren’t the average person. Just knowing that you clicked on an article titled The Extraordinary Significance of the Royal Priesthood of Believers, which is like an anti-click-bait title, tells me that. So, thank you for reading and for caring about the things of God.
A Few Pertinent Introductions
Before plunging in, remember that the book of 1 Peter is a treatise on holiness. The apostle called Christians to “sanctify Christ as Lord” in their hearts so that believers might live and act as Jesus desires during their short time here on earth (1 Peter 3:14-18). Peter lived alongside Jesus for nearly three years, and during that time, he witnessed the perfect standard of holiness that we should aspire to achieve. But understanding the apostle’s inspired epistles takes a little studying, primarily because of his mixing and matching of metaphorical certitudes. Let’s take a closer look at that for a moment.
If I were to say, “You’re fast like a ninja.” That would be a simile. I don’t know any ninjas, and you’re probably not a ninja. I’m just comparing your hypothetical nimble footedness to that of an actual ninja. Technically, an accurate metaphor declares one thing to be another. It might not be literally accurate, but it is accurately literal. For example, you might describe someone as being “tender-hearted.” Their heart, hopefully, isn’t tender, but in a sense, their metaphorical heart is undoubtedly tender. You might think I’m just playing a bunch of word games, but understanding how the inspired authors used metaphors is vital for a serious student of Scripture. The Old and New Testaments are brimming with the mixing of metaphorical certitudes.
So, when the apostle declared Jesus to be the head of the royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:5), He did not mean that Jesus was like a High Priest but instead that He was the High Priest. Although Jesus was not a Levite nor an officer in the sacrificial altars at Jerusalem, He is literally our final High Priest. From Christ’s resurrection until now, there has never been another legitimate High Priest besides Jesus. Of course, many powerful revelations are attached to Jesus because He was simultaneously the sacrifice and the High Priest (1 Peter 1:18-20). How could that be? Well, He sacrificed Himself as the only unblemished human sacrifice that ever was or could be. He was the sacrificer (High Priest) and the sacrificee (unspotted lamb). The Creator became created so He could save us.
A Lot of Mixing & Matching
We’re almost ready to reveal Peter’s shocking revelation about the Christian life with all its various nuances and truths. But first, I’d like to acknowledge the significant metaphorical mixing and matching that Peter weaves throughout 1 Peter 2:4-9. He refers to Jesus as the “head cornerstone,” to us as “living stones,” and together we comprise the spiritual house of God or temple (1 Peter 2:8). If you’re counting those mixed metaphors, Jesus is High Priest, sacrifice, and the head cornerstone of the Church. You, I, and every other true Christian who was and is and is to come are living stones built upon and around Christ. That’s five mixed metaphors right there.
The revelation that Christians are living, breathing temples of the Holy Ghost is not unfamiliar in Apostolic circles. Remember, Peter emphasized holiness. Therefore, the implications of conducting ourselves as sacred temples, living vessels, or walking containers of the Shekinah glory of God are staggering. Historically, Pentecostals have instinctively understood that if we are God’s temples, we must carefully guard against defiling our bodies inwardly and outwardly. How hurtful it must be to God when we use our bodies, sanctified for His holy presence, in sinful ways. When sin overtakes a Spirit-filled believer, it is no less devastating to God than when the Babylonians desecrated the temple in Jerusalem centuries ago. However, Peter further stirred the pot by saying believers are “a holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5). Later, in 1 Peter 2:9, he called believers “a royal priesthood.” Therefore, Christians are metaphorically and absolutely a holy royal priesthood of believers.
A Royal Priesthood of Believers
By the way, that was the big shocking revelation! In a metaphorically literal sense, you and I are (assuming we’re saved) priests. If that doesn’t shock you, it’s probably because you don’t understand all the responsibilities of membership in a royal priesthood of believers. Peter was conveying the great privilege of our priestly duties while also suggesting the seriousness it entails. Jesus is the head cornerstone and the High Priest; we are temples and priests. Therefore, Jesus is below us as our foundation, and He is above us as our High Priest. He supports us from below, inspires us from above, and empowers us from within.
Similarities Between Old and New Testament Priests
It should go without saying that Peter was a Jew. Jesus, too, was a Jew. Their lives were immersed in the daily importance of the priesthood. One of the tremendous mental dilemmas facing modern Christianity is our slow divorce from our faith’s Jewish roots. Rather than conforming our understanding to the Jewish context of Scripture, we try to squeeze those Jewish contexts into our cultural comfort zones. Sometimes, this tendency causes only minor problems. But it often results in full-fledged gaping black holes of false doctrine. Or it leaves entire Scripture passages to be swept aside as irrelevant. Of course, there is an opposite error where people become obsessed with reverting to pre-Christ rituals and diluting the power of the cross. For example, and these topics can be explored deeply at another time, people who insist on keeping Old Testament dietary restrictions or demanding the Lord’s Day should be observed on Saturday rather than Sunday fall into that category. I’ve seen firsthand the devastating spiritual spirals resulting from those errors. However, I still maintain that our current Christian climate is in far more danger of completely divorcing itself from vitally important Jewish roots. Most people have almost no concept of what Peter meant when he called New Testament believers a “holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5) and a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). We’re going to unpack exactly what that means moving forward. To do so, we will examine several astonishing characteristics shared between the Old Testament and New Testament priesthood. You’ll see that it’s virtually impossible to understand our duties as New Testament priests without an understanding of the Old Testament priesthood. Even though many of these truths might seem strange to our contemporary sensibilities, every early Jewish and Gentile saint understood these inferences instantaneously.
Must Be Born into Priestly Privilege
In the Old Testament, the priesthood had no licensing process. It wasn’t an open position that could be filled by anyone interested. God instituted the priesthood, giving Moses strict instructions that only Aaron and his ancestry could obtain the priestly office (Numbers 3:10). Because Aaron was a Levite, only the Levite lineage could participate in the privileged roles of the priesthood. God was serious about this rule. He said, “Anyone daring to assume priestly duties or privileges who is not of the house of Aaron and called of God who even comes near the holy things must be put to death” (Numbers 3:10). Old Testament priests were born into service. They were birthed into ministry and privilege. Like it or not. Fair or not. That was God’s command.
Likewise, Christians must be born into priestly privileges. There’s no shortcut around that requirement. Members of the royal priesthood of believers, which comprises the Church of God, are born into service. Otherwise, God considers you a stranger, an outsider, unworthy of handling holy things. Fortunately, your physical DNA has nothing to do with the birthing process. There isn’t a single human besides Jesus whose bloodline is pure enough to enter the New Testament priesthood. The new era of priests operates on a spiritual level unavailable to the ancient ones. The royal priesthood of believers requires a bloodline untainted by the fallen blood of Adam. Therefore, it would be humanly impossible for anyone to be accepted into the new order of priestly privilege. Unless, somehow, they could be born again.
That’s precisely what Jesus explained to Nicodemus in John 3:1-31. Interestingly, Nicodemus didn’t specifically ask Jesus about salvation. Instead, he expressed a willingness to believe that Jesus was sent from God (John 3:2). Jesus responded to that openness with a more profound revelation for Nicodemus to consider. Jesus affirmed that He was the “son of man” or the Messiah (John 3:13), and as the Messiah, He alone held the key to inheriting eternal life. The first fifteen verses of John 3 can be viewed as a series of questions and answers. Let me paraphrase the first question: “Are you here to bring in the kingdom?” Jesus’ first answer is, “You will never see the kingdom without being born again.”
Nicodemus serves as a warning to us that religious training without spiritual insight is useless. Jesus wasted no time getting to the heart of the problem. He told the teacher he must be born again or from above (anothen), a word which appears again in John 3:7 and John 3:31.[i] Today, even thoroughly secular people are familiar with the phrase “born again.” Pop icons like Rihanna sing the term born again as a stand-in for the idea of starting over. Sadly, when secular culture adopts, or some might say, hijacks, sacred religious terms, they effectively cheapen their intended meanings. The actual words describe a garment torn from top to bottom. Discussing the kingdom is useless unless God changes our hearts from the inside out. All devout Jews connected the Messiah with the kingdom; Jesus drove to the heart of the matter immediately. But for Nicodemus, born again was an unfamiliar, paradigm-shifting term. To belong to the heavenly kingdom, one must be born into it just as one is born into this earthly kingdom.[ii]
How to Be Born Again
While the people, timing, surroundings, and circumstances of a baby’s birth might be unique, indubitably, the birth process is the same for everyone. Correspondingly (and Jesus drove this point home several times), there’s only one spiritual birth process. Anyone can claim to be born again, but that doesn’t mean they’ve genuinely undergone a supernatural rebirth. In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus described a category of believers who will not be saved even though they do incredible things in His name. They claim the family name but have not been born into it. And in a gut-wrenching crescendo, Jesus declared: I will profess unto them, I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7:23).
So, the overwhelming, all-consuming, life-altering, eternity-defining question every human should obsess over is, “How can I be born again.” Finding the answer to that question is the most impactful thing you and I, or anyone else, will ever do. That’s why my brain can’t compute why so many people invest such small amounts of thought, time, and energy into this question. I mean, you need to be sure. Really, sure. But oddly, some folks spend more time studying Pinterest boards than the Bible. Ok. Alright. I digress.
Jesus was prophetically cryptic and intentionally vague with Nicodemus about the “how” aspect of being born again. He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). In this statement, Jesus echoed the ancient prophecies of Isaiah and Ezekiel (Isaiah 44:3-4, Ezekiel 36:25-27), reinforced the recent prophecy of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:11), and pointed forward to Peter’s seminal sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38). Keep in mind that Nicodemus was a religious leader, well versed in Scripture, and supposedly filled with spiritual insights. The text reads as if Jesus was mildly annoyed at Nicodemus’ lack of spiritual awareness. Because of that, Jesus spoke enigmatically to the doubting Pharisee. However, that doesn’t mean He wasn’t unmistakably clear to us, who benefit from hindsight.
In John 3:8, Jesus said, “The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear the sound of it, but you don’t know where the wind comes from or where it is going. It’s the same with every person who is born from the Spirit.” The Greek word pneuma means “wind” and “spirit” interchangeably. I’ve read countless weak interpretations of what Jesus meant by that. Unsatisfying explanations that ignore the context of the New Birth. Clearly, Jesus was speaking precisely of the outpouring of the Spirit, which would occur on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Not only is this evidenced by the “sound of a mighty rushing wind” (Acts 2:2) but also by the fact that they were all “filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).
I’ve written several times about how to be saved (here, here, and here). However, I’ve not addressed it meaningfully from the context of the New Birth. There’s a fair bit of bickering over how many “steps” are contained in the New Birth process or the plan of salvation. I usually describe the New Birth as a three-step process for illustration purposes mainly because that is in keeping with the Apostle Peter’s sermon in Acts 2:38: Repentance, water baptism in Jesus’ name, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. Furthermore, it coincides spiritually with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Repentance is the death, baptism is the burial, and the infilling of the Spirit is the resurrection.
While all that is true, sometimes people are troubled that Jesus only mentioned two steps in John 3: Water and Spirit baptism. Let me tackle that briefly. First, the discourse with Nicodemus was intended to be understood after a period of time. The promise was still coming, and Jesus often used types and shadows in His teachings. Secondly, considering the New Birth in terms of steps is optional as long as the requirements are completed. For example, when Jesus spoke of water and Spirit baptism, He lumped repentance and water baptism into one category (water baptism). Technically speaking, you can’t have one of those things without the other. Just as the process of a physical birth might be categorized academically in a few different ways (labor, delivery, recovery, etc.), as long as the requirements are fulfilled and a baby is born, all is well.
Must Be Ordained into the Priesthood
Another fascinating shared characteristic between the Old Testament and our new priesthood is the role of ordination. God set apart the ancient priests and consecrated them for sacred service (Exodus 19:6, Exodus 28:1). In John 15:16, Jesus said, “I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go forth and bring forth fruit.” I suspect most folks are a little hazy when defining what it means to be ordained. We know that preachers can be “ordained.” But even at that, most aren’t sure exactly what that means. Most modern Bibles translate the word ordained as “appointed.” Which is almost just as confusing. What does it mean that God ordains us?
To gain understanding, we have to dig into the origins and framework of the word ordained. The word translated “ordained” in John 15:16 is the Greek word tithēmi. Depending on the context, it has a wide range of possible meanings and applications. In its broadest application, tithēmi means literally and figuratively to place in a passive or horizontal posture, and thus different from others.[iii] That’s how we get various uses of tithēmi: Set apart, consecrated, appointed, established, fixed, ordained, or placed. Therefore, these gradients of the word ordained begin connecting the Old Testament idea of priestly appointment with our new believer-priesthood paradigm. Ordination is God setting us apart to be a holy people and sanctifying us so that we can be used in His service. God is making us holy and calling us to walk in that holiness. That was the hallmark of the Old Testament priesthood. It is ours today as well (Exodus 19:6, Exodus 28:38, Exodus 30:28-30, Leviticus 11:45, Leviticus 20:7, Leviticus 20:26, Romans 12:1, Romans 15:16, 1 Corinthians 9:13, Ephesians 5:27, 1 Peter 1:15-16, 1 Peter 2:5-9, 2 Peter 3:11). There’s a significant symbolism in the idea that by being laid prostrate before God we gain God’s approval. But it’s deeper than the physical act of lying prostrate before God. Although that is good and right, our complete inward submission to God’s will and authority over us pleases the Lord.
There is one more layer to the idea of being ordained by God. An ordained individual is someone sent forth as an authorized representative accountable to the sender. Therefore, New Testament believers are appointed and sent forth by Christ on a specified mission and with His authority.[iv] Similarly, the ancient priesthood was an authorized representative of God and was held strictly accountable to God. It should be intensely humbling to realize we represent the work of God to the surrounding world. Apostolic believers are authorized representatives of Jesus in this present world. With that extraordinary privilege comes the breathtaking reality that we are accountable to God and are specifically ordained to bring forth lasting fruit (John 15:16).
Must Be Anointed for the Priesthood
Old Testament priests were externally anointed for service with blood and oil (Leviticus 8:12-30). New Testament priest-believers are internally anointed with the blood of Jesus and the oil of the Holy Ghost (1 John 2:27). While the anointing was upon ancient priests, it dwells within the new priesthood. While ordination provides authorization, anointing provides empowerment that accompanies that God-given authority. To use an imperfect analogy, ordination is the badge, and anointing is the gun. To give authority without the power to use it would be silly and cruel. That’s why God has enabled and equipped His priests with Apostolic authority to operate in the realm of the Spirit. The oil of anointing covers our frailties, strengthens our weaknesses, enhances our abilities, and breaks yokes (Luke 4:18). Operating without anointing is like going to war without weapons, flying without wings, or singing without sound. It’s dangerous and ridiculous.
Must Be Cleansed for the Priesthood
There’s a reason the priestly anointing ceremony required oil and blood. As mentioned, the oil represented God’s empowering presence, but the blood represented the ceremonial cleansing of the priest’s sins. A bullock was sacrificed, its blood placed upon the altar’s horns and poured into the bottom of the altar for reconciliation between the priests and God (Leviticus 8:14-15). This should serve as a reminder that the closer a person gets to the presence of God, the more they are required to be cleansed of offending impurities. God did the cleansing. However, the priest was then required to walk worthy of that cleansing.
Contrary to most pop theology today, the New Testament requires the same cleansing and commitment from believer-priests. The blood of Jesus doesn’t give anyone a license to sin. You might say, “Well, grace covers my sin.” But consider what the Scripture says, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11). So, in that sense, we are saved by grace because it was the grace of God that made salvation possible in the first place. But the passage doesn’t end there. It describes the role of grace in a believer’s life: Grace teaches us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world (Titus 2:12). Now it becomes apparent that the role of grace is that of a teacher or an instructor. It leads and guides us into righteousness and proper conduct before our savior. Titus 2:13 continues, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our savior Jesus Christ.” We should maintain a posture of anticipation as we wait for Jesus to return for His Church. Finally, Titus 2:14 brings all these thoughts together: Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Do you see? God does the initial cleansing, the preliminary purification, pulling us out of this world and making us a peculiar priesthood, and we then must walk in that glorious privilege.
Must be Appropriately Clothed for the Priesthood
God’s ancient priests were given a very distinctive dress code (Exodus 28:1-43). They were carefully clothed for service. God commanded Moses to make “holy garments” for the priests (Exodus 28:2). Their unique clothing set them apart, made them easily distinguishable from non-priests, and had practical applications. It also kept them appropriately modest, contained typological spiritual meanings, and served as a physical reminder to the priesthood of the sacredness of their duties. God called those garments “glorious” and “beautiful” (Exodus 28:2). Unquestionably, the symbolic aspects of the priestly garments are no longer necessary now that Christ has fulfilled prophesy. However, a timeless moral part of their attire remains in effect today: Modesty.
Modesty matters to God, and therefore, it should matter to us. We see God’s emphasis on modesty due to sin way back in Edan (Genesis 3:21). Modesty permeates the Old Testament, deeply embedded itself into Israelite culture, and was inculcated into the priesthood. Contrary to popular opinion, the moral principles of modesty didn’t die out in the New Testament. Peter understood that perfectly when he, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, referred to believers as a “priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5-9). The nuances and implications of priestly modesty weren’t lost on the apostle. Consider this command to the priesthood in Exodus 28:42: And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach. For the priest, however, it was essential that his “nakedness” not be exposed, particularly when ministering before the people. Carelessness about how priests presented themselves to God would be tantamount to blasphemy.[v] For this reason, God insisted that priestly garments include “breeches” made of linen and covering the thighs for reasons of modesty.[vi]
God Defines Nakedness
To understand this better, let’s consider the biblical meaning of the word “nakedness.” In modern contexts, naked means to be completely undressed, totally exposed, and without any covering. Unlike contemporary English usage, nakedness in the Bible can refer to a range of undress from total nudity to being inadequately clothed (Job 22:6, Ezekiel 18:7, Matthew 25:36, 2 Corinthians 11:27). Even the more literal uses of the Hebrew and Greek terms for nakedness are loaded with figurative and symbolic meanings and allusions.[vii] The biblical images evoked by the word naked are many and varied. They include, among other things, original innocence, defenselessness and vulnerability, exposure and helplessness, humiliation and shame, guilt and judgment, and sexual impropriety and exploitation. Each of these nuances needs to be carefully identified in each scriptural context, although there may be some degrees of overlap.[viii]
So, for thousands of years, the Jews and most civilized Christian cultures, until recent decades, defined nudity as anything above the knee. Why? Mainly because that’s precisely how God explained it in Exodus 28:42. This modesty commandment was so vital that God threatened death as punishment if it were to be ignored (Exodus 28:43). Three more words from Exodus 28:42 need expounding on to understand God’s definition of modesty. First is the word “breeches,” from which the English word “britches” is derived. They were garments extending from the waist to or just below the knee or ankle, covering each leg separately. In many ways, they resembled modern trousers or pants.[ix] The word breeches itself contains a root word that means to “hide” or “cover-up.” [x] Second is the word “loins,” which would have already been covered by the priestly robe and tunic. It’s the Hebrew word moṯnayim, meaning waist or lower back.[xi] It refers to the area where you would comfortably wear a belt. And finally, the word “thighs” is crucial in this context. This is the specific area God commands to be covered or hidden from public view. It’s the Hebrew word yarekh, which refers to the portion of the leg from the knee to the hip.[xii]
The text makes the Hebraic assumption that the reader already realizes the necessity of keeping the hips covered for the sake of modesty. Therefore, the relevant lesson for the priesthood and us is that God considers showing anything above the knee to be nakedness and unholy. Furthermore, it should be noted that this standard of modesty was already understood and practiced in Israelite culture. God was dealing with exigent circumstances where nakedness might unintentionally or accidentally be displayed while performing a task, which adds even more gravitas to this standard of modesty because if God cares that much about accidental immodesty, imagine how He must feel about intentional immodesty. Of course, Exodus 28:42 isn’t the only place God defines the exposed thigh as shameful nakedness. God compared Babylon’s downfall to a woman’s shame in having her nakedness exposed when she bares her leg and uncovers her thigh (Isaiah 47:1–3).[xiii] The bottom line is that God gets to define what nakedness (or nudity) is and what it is not. Culture, especially sinful culture, has no authority to determine what is or isn’t modest for called-out believers.
The Morality and Righteousness of Modesty
Tucked away among the Songs of Ascent is Psalm 132:9: Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy. The priests who served in the presence of the Lord were His instruments for dispensing righteousness. Righteousness here signifies more than a relationship with God or some abstract figurative illusion of inward purity. It’s synonymous with salvation (2 Chronicles 6:41). The blessedness of God’s presence was represented by the priests “clothed” in their priestly garments, which resulted in great joy for the saints.[xiv] The outward garments of the priests were a visual representation of God’s moral character, royalty, and righteousness.[xv] To summarize, Old Testament priests were clothed for service in modesty and righteousness, with dignity and distinction, purpose and precision, and they were never to approach their sacred lifestyles casually. We, too, have a responsibility to represent righteousness in our clothing. Modesty is a moral imperative for the believer-priests.
Let’s approach this subject from another angle. Look at Jude 1:23: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. First, notice that we are to “hate even the garment spotted (or stained) by the flesh.” That’s interesting, and we certainly need to know what that means. Jude 1 deals with false teachers and doctrines that “crept in unawares” (Jude 1:4). These ungodly men turned the grace of God into “lasciviousness” (Jude 1:4). Somehow, they made the grace of God sensual or lustful.[xvi] Jude 1:7 mentions the hedonistic sexual sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. In the next verse, Jude called these false teachers filthy dreamers who defile their bodies with debauchery and wicked imaginations (Jude 1:8). Two more times, Jude mentioned their ungodly lusts and sensuality (Jude 1:18-19). He gave various ways to deal with these backslidden evil teachers (Jude 1:20-23). While closing, he gave the admonition to “hate even the garment (of these teachers) spotted by the flesh (or carnality).” Loath as I am to quote John Calvin, he defines “garment spotted by the flesh” (Jude 1:23) as “anything that in any way savors of sin or temptation.” [xvii] The flesh-stained garments in Jude 1:23 are both literal and figurative. Carnal, immodest, flesh-displaying garments are defiling, and Christians should hate those garments.
Fascinatingly, much of the language in Jude 1:23 is direct quotations from Zechariah 3:2-4.[xviii] In that instance, a High Priest was snatched from the fire, and an angel of the Lord exchanged his filthy clothes for a change of clean clothes.[xix] Once again, the imagery evoked in both passages is figurative and literal. When people are saved, they will change how they dress, not because of legalism but because motives, agendas, and behaviors change when the heart and mind are purified. When God changes us, it is a comprehensive inward and outward transformation. It’s worth noting, although I’ve yet to find a commentary that makes the correlation, the imagery of outer clothing being changed by God in Jude 1:23 and Zechariah 3:2-4 also connects hermeneutically back to Genesis 3:21, where God clothed Adam and Eve.
In the middle of admonishing the church in Sardis, Jesus mentioned a remnant of believers that had not “defiled their garments” (Revelation 3:4). He said, “And they shall walk with me in white for they are worthy” (Revelation 3:4). The city of Sardis was famous for its textile industry yet most of the church had defiled garments.[xx] This is significant in John’s vision. In the Roman world, persons were identified by their clothing. Only the emperor and the patrician class could wear togas with purple. The equestrian class could wear red, and so on. A person’s clothing manifested the person’s nature to the world, and in many ways, it still does. John seems to play upon this feature of his world. A Christian’s “garment” was the outward witness of their faithful discipleship.[xxi] In the pagan religions, it was forbidden to approach the gods in garments that were soiled or stained. Soiling seems to be a symbol for mingling with pagan life.[xxii] The few people in Sardis who had not soiled their clothes were those who had resisted the temptation to accommodate their lives to the heathen customs of their neighbors, which most certainly included the way they dressed.[xxiii] Of course, inwardly, that remnant of believers in Sardis remained undefiled, but the obvious reference to clothing isn’t purely symbolic. Godly people wear clothing that differentiates them from surrounding worldly, carnal, defiled, pagan cultures.
Keep Your Clothes On
It’s overly simplistic, but I like how the Easy-to-Read-Version (ERV) renders Revelation 16:15:
Listen! Like a thief, I will come at a time you don’t expect. Great blessings belong to those who stay awake and keep their clothes with them. They will not have to go without clothes and be ashamed for people to see them.
The King James says, “Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame” (Revelation 16:15). Obviously, the primary notion here is that we are to always be ready for the Lord’s return. However, the subtext is that godly people must make modesty a priority.
Fundamentally, there are at least four essential elements of proper clothing for today’s priesthood of believers. One is modesty, as discussed above (1 Timothy 2:9). However, the remaining three are previously unmentioned concepts that deserve far more attention. Still, for now, they will receive only brief honorable mentions. The second essential element of godly clothing is the clear distinction of genders (Deuteronomy 22:5, Genesis 1:27). Men should dress like men and women like women. Thirdly, believers should avoid displays of vanity or pride in their adornment (1 Peter 3:3-5, 2 Kings 9:30). And fourthly, holiness demands a humility that rejects the wearing of gold and silver ornamentation, jewelry, piercings, and tattoos (1 Peter 33-5, Proverbs 7:10, Proverbs 33, 1 Timothy 2:9, Leviticus 19:28). These moral principles carry over from the Old Testament, find affirmation in the New Testament, and solidify the standard of holy attire for the new priesthood.
Priesthood is Held to Strict Standards of Obedience
Ancient priests were held to rigorous standards of obedience to God and the man of God (Moses, Joshua, etc.). They lived under the threat of death if they disobeyed the law intentionally or unintentionally (Leviticus 10:7). Of course, this was also true for people outside the priesthood. As the prophet Samuel rhetorically asked King Saul, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: Your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to His voice” (1 Samuel 15:22)? Without waiting for an answer, Samuel said, “Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22). New Testament priests are called to that same strict standard of obedience. Jesus affirmed this by saying, “If you continue in my word, then you are truly disciples of mine” (John 8:31). All the spiritual sacrifices in the world will never be an acceptable substitute for simple obedience to God’s Word.
Messengers Calling the Lost to Repentance
Yet another shared characteristic of Old Testament and New Testament believer-priests is their mandate to be righteous messengers calling the lost to repentance. Malachi 2:5-7, New Living Translation, describes the ancient priesthood’s mandate:
The purpose of my covenant with the Levites was to bring life and peace, and that is what I gave them. This required reverence from them, and they greatly revered me and stood in awe of my name. They passed on to the people the truth of the instructions they received from me. They did not lie or cheat; they walked with me, living good and righteous lives, and they turned many from lives of sin. The words of a priest’s lips should preserve the knowledge of God, and people should go to him for instruction, for the priest is the messenger of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
When you read that alongside the Great Commission, the similarities become striking: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you… (Matthew 28:19-20). I think many Christians have a default tendency to assume the Great Commission is mainly for pastors, missionaries, or evangelists. While it is undoubtedly for them, it is for all believers. Every member of the new priesthood of believers is mandated to be a messenger of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We’re called to minister to faltering believers while keeping ourselves free from sin (Galatians 6:1). Teaching, sharing, and studying the Word of God with believers and unbelievers should be an intricate part of our identity and daily lives. Helping new disciples learn, understand, and obey the commands of Jesus is our great privilege and responsibility. Absconding from this obligation is a betrayal of God’s sacred trust.
Access to God Through the Offering of Sacrifices
The ancient Israelite priests are best remembered for their sacrificial duties. Every day, they sacrificed animals that could not take away sins (Hebrews 11:1). It was a repetitive, exhausting, bloody job. Thankfully, Jesus was the final sacrificial offering for sin (Hebrews 10:10). Therefore, we no longer must bring animal sacrifices to God. However, that doesn’t mean God doesn’t require spiritual sacrifices from His new royal priesthood of believers. This brings us back full circle to our original text, where Peter referred to us as a “holy priesthood” that should “offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).
Spiritual sacrifices are acts of worship necessary for those who live in the Spirit—these spiritual sacrifices, as opposed to ritualistic sacrifices of old, transpose worship to a higher key. Whereas the Jewish sacrificial system required the worshiper to offer an animal or produce at the temple, life in the Spirit requires the worshiper to offer themselves. For those who bring something to an altar, the act of worship ends when the offering is consumed; for those who present themselves, the sacrificial act is just the beginning. The Christian is a “living sacrifice,” meaning worship is transferred out of the temple and into the streets. In short, the degree of personal responsibility is heightened for the one who walks in the Spirit instead of according to the law.[xxiv] Therefore, contrary to hyper-grace teachings, New Testament believers, in a certain sense, have more significant holiness requirements than the ancient priesthood.
The Body as a Spiritual Sacrifice
Romans 12:1 makes this distinctive command, “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” The words “present” and “sacrifice” the Apostle Paul used here are purposefully reminiscent of Old Testament language. Before a priest in Israel could minister on behalf of others, he was obliged to present himself in a consecrated condition, and the sacrifices he offered were to be without blemish (Malachi 1:8-13).[xxv] The sacrificial language of Romans 12:1 also reinforces an earlier contrast made in Romans 6:13 between those who serve God and those who serve sin. The appeal to “offer your bodies” reminds the reader of the earlier injunction in Romans 6:13: “Do not offer the parts of your body to sin… but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life.” The heightened responsibility of the Christian not only involves a life of worship that extends beyond particular times and places of sacrifice but also entails a personal commitment to determine how such a life is to be lived. In contrast to Judaism, where the law prescribes righteous conduct, Christianity requires a greater degree of personal discernment.[xxvi]
God doesn’t compel and coerce a believer into presenting his body. He doesn’t corral him and bridle him like a horse and force him to obey. He implores him. He wants an unbridled sacrifice.[xxvii] Presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice represents a complete lifestyle change, involving both a negative and a positive aspect. Paul commanded, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world” (Romans 12:2). Living according to the lifestyle of “the present evil Age” (Galatians 1:4, Ephesians 1:21) must now be put aside. Then Paul commanded, “But be transformed (literally, keep on being transformed) by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). The Greek verb translated “transformed” (μεταμορφοῦσθε) is seen in the English word “metamorphosis,” a total change from inside out (2 Corinthians 3:18). The key to this change is the “mind” (νοός), the control center of one’s attitudes, thoughts, feelings, and actions (Ephesians 4:22-23). As one’s mind keeps being made new by the spiritual input of God’s Word, prayer, preaching, and Christian fellowship, one’s lifestyle keeps transforming.[xxviii]
Alexander Maclaren astutely observed that Romans 12:1-2 provides “an all-inclusive directory for the outward life.” [xxix] The ancient sacrifices gave a sweet-smelling odor, which, by a strong metaphor, was declared fragrant in God’s nostrils. In like manner, the Christian sacrifice is “acceptable unto God” (Romans 12:1). The keyword for the life of a Christian is sacrifice. That includes two things—self-surrender and surrender to God. Just like a priest needed to be consecrated before he could offer sacrifices, we, too, must be inwardly consecrated before offering outward sacrifices to God. The Apostle Paul didn’t make the mistake of substituting external for internal surrender, but he presupposes that the latter has preceded. He described the sequence more understandably in Romans 6:13: Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. So, first of all, we must be priests by our inward consecration, and then, since a priest must have something to offer, we must bring the outward life and lay it upon His altar.[xxx]
Christian obedience means imitating God in holiness (1 Peter 1:15).[xxxi] Our holiness is made possible through Christ, who made us holy through His blood (Hebrews 13:12). The Holy Spirit sanctified us by separating us from evil and dedicating us to God when He gave us new life and placed us into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:11). But that is only one aspect of our sanctification. Paul prayed that God would sanctify us “through and through” or “completely” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). There’s also a continuing aspect of sanctification in which we must cooperate. We must, as we’ve been discussing, present ourselves to God (Romans 12:1-2), and by the Spirit, pursue that holiness (dedication, consecration in right relationships to God and man) because, without holiness, no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). This is a holiness like the Lord’s, which the Holy Spirit helps us to achieve (1 Peter 1:15, 16).[xxxii] By the Spirit, we must keep putting to death the old life’s impulses and winning victories as we live for Jesus (Romans 8:1-14, Galatians 2:20, Philippians 2:12-13).
Recently, I read a quote from my friend, Reverend Coley Reese, “Learn to be a living sacrifice rather than an occasional offering.” [xxxiii] Doing that takes more than good intentions. It requires a complete lifestyle makeover. It’s often been quipped, “The problem with living sacrifices is that they keep crawling off the altar.” [xxxiv] That’s why holiness is a daily endeavor, a constant struggle, and incredibly vital. In his influential work What the Bible Says about the Holy Spirit, Stanley M. Horton makes this remarkable statement:
The whole work of sanctification is the work of the Spirit, which receives by far the greatest attention in the New Testament. It takes precedence over witnessing, evangelism, giving, and every other form of Christian service. God wants us to be something, not just to do something. For only as we become like Jesus can what we do be effective and bring glory to Him.[xxxv]
As I’ve read and pondered dozens of books and commentaries on the command to “present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy, acceptable unto God,” I’ve been struck by a collective inclination to gloss over the obvious meanings in the text (Romans 12:1). For example, it goes without saying that presenting one’s body to God includes the whole person, inward and outward. The body consists of the thoughts, intellect, soul, desires, etc. However, while presenting the body includes those somewhat intangible things, it does not exclude the outer elements of the body itself. The commentary by John Phillips, which I often find helpful, is typical of the omission I’m referring to. He mentions how when believers present their bodies as living sacrifices, they are changed morally, mentally, and motivationally.[xxxvi] Yet not once does Phillips mention a practical way the outward man is presented as holy to God. Sadly, Phillips is not unique in his handling of external sanctification.
Considering everything we’ve already examined concerning the priesthood of believers, hopefully, it’s becoming more evident that internal sanctification will produce outward fruits. We aren’t to be conformed to this world like playdough in the hands of a demonic creature (Romans 12:2). We are forbidden to allow ourselves to be fashioned (or patterned) by the fads, opinions, fashions, philosophies, and spiritual darkness of this world. A Spirit-filled believer’s life will not be molded from without but from within. That inward pressure from the Holy Spirit will change our outward fashions, expressions, conversations, operations, actions, inactions, and more. There will be a comprehensive external transformation in the life of a believer-priest. In other words, a consecrated holy lifestyle involves how a believer dresses, what they do and don’t ingest into the body, how they speak, what they watch and listen to, and where they do and don’t go. To suggest otherwise is a gross misrepresentation or misinterpretation of Scripture.
The Sacrifice of Praise
Hebrews 13:15 tells us to “continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God.” The writer goes on to identify the sacrifice of praise as the verbal praise of God’s name.[xxxvii] Hebrews 13:16 continues this theme of sacrifice, reminding us not to neglect giving, doing good, and sharing with others, for with “such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Included in this topic of sacrifice is the command to “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17). The reference here is to religious teachers and not civil rulers.[xxxviii] So, Hebrews 13:15-17 lists three generalized areas of spiritual sacrifice for believer-priests: The uttered exaltation of Jesus’ name, the good work of giving, and obedience to spiritual authority. And while the three areas of spiritual sacrifice mentioned in this passage aren’t intended to be comprehensive, they are expounded on throughout the totality of Scripture.
The Selfless Sacrifice of Love
Ephesians 5:1 encourages us to work to be like Christ. Then we are told one of the ways to imitate Christ in Ephesians 5:2: Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor. We should imitate His sacrifice of love in our lives. The Apostle Paul pivoted from the self-sacrifice of Christ to the very opposite, the self-indulgence of the sinner (Ephesians 5:3–4), from agape love to its perversion, lust; he mentioned three manifestations of self-indulgence and love’s perversion. “Sexual immorality” and “impurity” comprehensively cover every kind of heterosexual (premarital and extramarital) and homosexual sin possible, all of which defile the conscience and destroy love. “Greed” describes the heart’s inner desire for one that is not rightfully theirs. It can also refer to sin in the sexual realm, such as coveting another man’s wife or someone else’s body for selfish gratification (Exodus 20:17, 1 Thessalonians 4:6). These three sins are not even to be mentioned or talked about among “God’s holy people,” so completely are they to be banished from the Christian community.[xxxix] The Bible is clear: Sexual immorality is contradictory to the selfless love of Christ-like people. Therefore, love encompasses more than what we do but also what we don’t do.
The Sacrifice of Evangelism
Evangelizing the lost is a spiritual sacrifice. The apostle Paul referred to his ministry to unbelieving Gentiles as a “priestly ministry” and “offering” (Romans 15:15-16). I believe that every action we take on behalf of evangelizing the lost is a pleasing sacrifice to the Lord. Everything, no matter how seemingly small, matters, whether it be giving for the sake of evangelism, inviting a stranger to church, teaching an impromptu Bible study, giving your testimony, tarrying with sinners in an altar service, or any number of other practical ways we participate in the sacrificial work of evangelism. For believer-priests, evangelism is a lifestyle and not just a liability.
The Sacrifice of Prayer
Acts 10:1 tells the story of a Roman army officer named Cornelius, a devout God-fearing man. He gave generously to the poor and prayed to God regularly. Acts 10:3-4, New International Version, details how an angel appeared to Cornelius, saying, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.” In Revelation 8:3-4 an angel of the Lord is said to be “standing at the altar, holding a golden censor, that he might add incense to the prayers of the saints.” Using language reminiscent of Old Testament ceremonial, priestly duties, the New International Version says, “And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand” (Revelation 8:4). That fascinating terminology likens the prayers of believers to incense or memorial offerings that waft like a sweet-smelling aroma to the Lord. What beautiful timeless imagery of prayer that evokes in our minds. This helps us to remember that prayer is not only effective but also sacrificial.
The Perversion of the Priesthood & Invention of the Trinity
Time and attention spans don’t allow for a detailed dive into the historical perversion of the priesthood. However, it would be neglectful to cover the topic of believer-priests without addressing the elephant in the room – the Roman Catholic Church and its spinoffs. Arguably, one of the most tragic things that ever happened to Christianity was the supposed conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine (306 A.D. – 337 A.D.). While we can be thankful the avid physical persecution of Christians ended under Constantine, the politically motivated doctrinal perversions he ushered in still plague us today. Christianity became the Roman Empire’s official religion during Constantine’s reign and continued with Theodosius (379 A.D. – 395 A.D.). As imperial largesse transformed Christianity in Rome, Constantinople, and Jerusalem, the view of the priesthood drew on Roman ideas of civic and pagan priesthoods and the pompous ceremonial aspects of the imperial court.[xl] Among the many foul doctrines concocted in the bowels of the ancient Roman Catholic Church, which remains firmly ensconced, is its insistence that an earthly priesthood of men is required to act as a mediator between God and humanity.
How could something so outrageous become so dominant? Simply put, the pressure of big government corrupted the official theologies of the Church through the usual suspects of compromise, power plays, intimidation, murder, and political marginalization. Once that powerful engine gained momentum, it just kept expanding until it reached a bloody culmination with the Crusades, governmental coups, serfdom, and religious persecution. Satan turned the so-called “Church” into the murderous regime it had endured in the Catacombs and Coliseums of Rome in the first two and a half centuries after Christ. A reformation was necessary and inevitable. But, the Protestant Reformation didn’t occur until the 16th century.[xli] The Protestant Reformation admirably emphasized and rallied around the biblical teachings of the “priesthood of believers.” Yet, while Lutherans would disagree, reforming all the perverted doctrines, traditions, and influences of the Catholic Church and its ilk took roughly another three centuries. It wasn’t until the emergence of Pentecostalism at the beginning of the 20th century that an authentic reformation began to take shape.
Another of many notable perversions that sprang like a poisonous tree from the soil of Roman Christianity is the doctrine of the Trinity. The dogma developed slowly over 200 years and continued to be refined in how it was explained for hundreds of years. Its development began with an attempt to understand the nature of God in terms of Greek philosophical concepts while rooted in Roman political soil.[xlii] As the lightening rod Presbyterian minister Robert Elliott Speer wrote at the turn of the 19th century: It is an unquestionable historical fact that the doctrine of the Trinity is a false doctrine foisted into the Church during the third and fourth centuries, which finally triumphed by the aid of persecuting emperors.[xliii] A tragic truism is that the same power brokers who conceived and mainstreamed Trinitarianism would have burned most modern Trinitarians at the stake for various perceived heresies. It’s sad to hear and read Trinitarians naively quote theologians (they reverentially refer to them as church fathers) who lived centuries after Christ as if they were just as inspired and inerrant as the Apostles and prophets. Trinitarians cannot legitimately be considered Apostolic, for the Apostles knew not of the nonsensical Trinitarian distinction of persons. Furthermore, the Apostles baptized exclusively in the name of Jesus and not with titles (Acts 2:38, Acts 4:12, Matthew 28:19).
Incredibly Amazing Priestly Privilege
People often ask what distinguishes Apostolic Pentecostals from other flavors of Christianity. And, of course, there’s no short answer to that question. However, an excellent explanation to begin with is the reality that the Apostolic Church is the result of continued Church Reformation. We genuinely believe in sola scriptura (Scripture alone). We’re unmoved by post-biblical historical doctrines or their bygone champions. Apostolics emphatically and passionately believe that all truth necessary for our salvation and spiritual life is taught explicitly or implicitly in the Bible. It’s been a hard fight, but the Apostolic Church miraculously reemerged from the ash heap of Church history while effectively, although often imperfectly, struggling to return to the Apostolic doctrines of the first Church founded by Jesus. Furthermore, Apostolic Pentecostals fully embrace their priestly privileges while acknowledging Christ as their final High Priest. With its Levitical priests and continual and inadequate offerings, the Mosaic Law was a shadow of Christ’s coming and once-for-all offering (Hebrews 10:1-4).[xliv]
Remember the thick temple veil that separated the most holy place (or holy of holies) from the holy place (2 Chronicles 3:14)? Only the High Priest was allowed to pass through that veil, and then only on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:2). At Jesus’ death, the temple veil was ripped from top to bottom, illustrating that Jesus had obliterated the barrier separating humanity from the presence of God (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45).[xlv] A Levitical caste can no longer mediate between the sinner and his Judge. We may come boldly with loving confidence, not slavish fear, directly through Christ, the only mediating Priest. Of course, Jesus is a superior High Priest, or as Zechariah 6:13 prophesied, “a priestly King.” [xlvi] Because Jesus is superior in every way, believer-priests have incredible, unprecedented privileges. We can do something even the ancient High Priests only did once a year and even then, with great trepidation: Boldly enter into the holy of holies any time, day or night Hebrews 10:19-20). We have constant access, communion, and relationship to and with the presence of God. The blood of Jesus made these new priestly privileges possible once and for all.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing about the holy priesthood of believers. The beautifully intricate ways the Old and New Testaments complement and complete one another always astonish me. It’s so elegantly simple yet intensely profound. The perfection of it irrefutably proves the infallibility of the Bible. Each book, prophecy, revelation, precept, and illumination fit together like a hand into a custom-fitted glove. Of course, I know there is a danger of seeing correlations in Scripture where there are none. Still, we must fully integrate correlations into our daily Christian lives whenever they are well-defined. And the Bible is abundantly clear that believers today enter a holy royal priesthood via the New Birth. This new priesthood of believers gives us the ultimate privilege possible: The ability to step into the presence of God and have a personal relationship with Him. However, like all privileges, that privilege comes with significant expectations and responsibilities. Believer-priests must live holy lives separated from the defilements of this fallen world. They must reach, love, preach, and teach the lost. They must do the same for the saved. It’s a lifestyle of relationship with God, separation from the world, and daily spiritual sacrifice. It’s wild and exhilarating, all-consuming, transformative, and extraordinarily significant.
[i] Gangel, Kenneth O. John. B & H Publishing Group, 2000
[ii] Gangel, Kenneth O. John. B & H Publishing Group, 2000.
[iii] Strong, James. Strong’s Greek Dictionary of the New Testament. Accordance electronic edition, version 2.9. Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 1999.
[iv] NAS Topical Index. Accordance electronic edition, version 1.1. La Habra: The Lockman Foundation, 2000.
[v] Garrett, Duane A. A Commentary on Exodus. KEL. Accordance electronic edition, version 1.0. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2014.
[vi] Butler, Trent C., Chad Brand, Charles Draper, and Archie England, eds. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Accordance electronic edition, version 2.0. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2003.
[vii] Cargal, Timothy B. Freedman, David Noel, Allen C. Myers, and Astrid B. Beck, eds. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Accordance electronic edition, version 3.8. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000.
[viii] Ryken, Leland, Jim Wilhoit, and Tremper Longman, eds. Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Accordance electronic edition, version 2.2. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998.
[ix] Wolf, H. J. Orr, James, ed. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Accordance electronic edition, version 2.5. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1915.
[x] Wolf, H. J. Orr, James, ed. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Accordance electronic edition, version 2.5. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1915.
[xi] Kohlenberger III, John R. and William D. Mounce. Kohlenberger/Mounce Concise Hebrew-Aramaic Dictionary of the Old Testament. Accordance electronic edition, version 3.4. Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 2012.
[xii] Easton, Burton Scott. Orr, James, ed. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Accordance electronic edition, version 2.5. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1915.
[xiii] Bernard, David K. Practical Holiness. Accordance electronic edition, version 1.2. Hazelwood, Missouri: Word Aflame Press, 1985.
[xiv] VanGemeren, Willem A. Psalms. EBC 5. Edited by Frank E. Gaebelein and J. D. Douglas. Accordance electronic edition, version 2.9. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991.
[xv] NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible. Accordance electronic edition, version 1.2. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015.
[xvi] Zodhiates, Spiros, ed. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. Revised, Accordance electronic edition, version 1.3. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 1993.
[xvii] Macalister, Alex. Orr, James, ed. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Accordance electronic edition, version 2.5. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1915.
[xviii] Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. 2d; Accordance electronic edition, version 1.0. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2014.
[xix] Walton, John H. and Craig S. Keener, eds., NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. Accordance electronic edition, version 1.1. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016.
[xx] NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible. Accordance electronic edition, version 1.2. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015.
[xxi] Mulholland Jr., M. Robert. “Revelation.” Pages 399-606 in James 1–2 Peter Jude Revelation. Vol. 18 of Cornerstone Bible Commentary. Accordance electronic edition, version 2.1. Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2011.
[xxii] Johnson, Alan F. Revelation. EBC 12. Edited by Frank E. Gaebelein and J. D. Douglas. Accordance electronic edition, version 2.9. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981.
[xxiii] Beasley-Murray, George R. Revelation. New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition. Edited by D. A Carson, R. T France, J. A. Motyer, and Gordon J. Wenham. Accordance electronic edition, version 2.5. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1994.
[xxiv] Johnson, Van. Romans. Life in the Spirit New Testament Commentary. Edited by French L. Arrington and Roger Stronstad. Accordance electronic edition, version 1.5. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999.
[xxv] Harrison, Everett F. Romans. EBC 10. Edited by Frank E. Gaebelein and J. D. Douglas. Accordance electronic edition, version 2.9. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977.
[xxvi] Johnson, Van. Romans. Life in the Spirit New Testament Commentary. Edited by French L. Arrington and Roger Stronstad. Accordance electronic edition, version 1.5. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999.
[xxvii] Phillips, John. Exploring Romans. John Phillips Commentary Series. Accordance electronic edition, version 1.6. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1969.
[xxviii] Witmer, John A. Romans. The Bible Knowledge Commentary. Edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck. Accordance electronic edition, version 2.7. 2 vols. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1983.
[xxix] Maclaren, Alexander. Expositions of Holy Scripture. Accordance electronic edition, version 1.3. Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 2006.
[xxx] Maclaren, Alexander. Expositions of Holy Scripture. Accordance electronic edition, version 1.3. Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 2006.
[xxxi] Packer, J.I. Wood, D. R. W., ed. New Bible Dictionary. 3d, Accordance electronic edition, version 2.5. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996.
[xxxii] Horton, Stanley M. What the Bible Says about the Holy Spirit. Revised; Accordance electronic edition, version 1.2. Springfield: Gospel Publishing House, 2005.
[xxxiii] Reese, Coley (2023, November 6). This is a quotation of the entire post [Facebook status update]. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/coley.reese/posts/pfbid02SUknCVgY5KA3KU2349S1wSCXp8uFEU7QtUhUCVm4xGLByUdyRJwyQ4X3w5f9kLaTl
[xxxiv] Harris, W. Hall, ed., The NET Bible Notes. 2nd edition, version 5.8. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2019.
[xxxv] Horton, Stanley M. What the Bible Says about the Holy Spirit. Revised; Accordance electronic edition, version 1.2. Springfield: Gospel Publishing House, 2005.
[xxxvi] Phillips, John. Exploring Romans. John Phillips Commentary Series. Accordance electronic edition, version 1.6. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1969.
[xxxvii] Dennis, Lane T. and Wayne Grudem, eds., The ESV Study Bible. Accordance electronic edition, version 2.0. Wheaton: Crossway Bibles, 2008.
[xxxviii] Barnes, Albert. Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament. Accordance electronic edition, version 2.2. Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 2006.
[xxxix] Adams, Wesley and Donald Stamps. Ephesians. Life in the Spirit New Testament Commentary. Edited by French L. Arrington and Roger Stronstad. Accordance electronic edition, version 1.5. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999.
[xl] “Priesthood: Christian Priesthood.” Encyclopedia of Religion. Retrieved October 18, 2023, from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/priesthood-christian-priesthood
[xli] Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopedia (2023, October 29). priest. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/priest-Christianity
[xlii] Berkhof, Louis. The History of Christian Doctrines. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1937
[xliii] Robert Spears, The Unitarian Handbook of Scriptural Illustrations & Expositions. London: British and Foreign Unitarian Association, 1883.
[xliv] Ryrie, Charles Caldwell, ed., The Ryrie Study Bible. Expanded, Accordance electronic edition, version 2.3. Chicago: Moody Press, 1995.
[xlv] Blum, Edwin A. and Jeremy Royal Howard, eds., HCSB Study Bible: Holman Christian Standard Bible. Accordance electronic edition, version 1.2. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2010.
[xlvi] Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. 1871, Accordance electronic edition, version 2.6. Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 1996.