top of page

Wendelin's "Christian Theology": Doctrine of the Species of the Office of Christ, Part 2

THESIS V:  The priestly office is a function of the Mediator Christ, whereby He offered Himself for His elect, by His death expiated their sins, and by the efficacy of His merit also now intercedes for them.

EXPLANATION:  I.  Concerning the Priestly office of Christ the Epistle to the Hebrews treats prolixly, Hebrews 2:3-5, and following.  Let that saying in Hebrews 5:5, 6 be especially noted, Christ glorified not Himself to be made an High Priest, but He that had said to Him, Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee:  as He saith in another place, Thou art a Priest forever, after the order of Malchisedec.

II.  The parts of Christ’s priesthood or priestly office are three:  (1.)  the fulfillment of the law; (2.)  the payment of the penalty through the sacrifice of His body; (3.)  intercession.  So also it belonged to the priests in the Old Testament to keep the law, to offer sacrifices, and to intercede for the people.

Christ fulfilled the Law, by rendering perfect obedience, and that both internal and external, to all its precepts:  which otherwise is called Christ’s active obedience.  Whence He is called a priest, holy, harmless, undefiled, separated from sinners, Hebrews 7:26.  This holiness was altogether necessary for our priest, who, if He had been a sinner Himself, would not have been able to make satisfaction for us.

He paid the penalty, the price of redemption for our sins, by presenting Himself to God the Father in His voluntary death, John 10:15, I lay down my life for the sheep, and verse 18, no man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.  Concerning this payment of the punishment made for us by Christ, the Apostles everywhere preach, and especially Paul, in the Epistle to the Hebrews.  So Christ Himself says, Matthew 20:28, The Son of man came…to give His life a ransom for many.  There are similar passages:  Timothy 2:6, He gave Himself a ransom for all.  Ephesians 5:2, Christ hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us as an offering and sacrifice to God, in Greek προσφορὰν καὶ θυσίαν.  Galatians 3:13, Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.  2 Corinthians 5:21, He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of GOD in Him.  Revelation 5:9, Thou hast redeemed us by thy blood.  1 John 2:2, He is the propitiation for our sinsFor us in these passages is not merely for our good, as Socinus maintains, but especially in our place.  For, He paid in our place, what we were bound to pay, and thus lifted the curse from us.  To redeem is not to deliver in just any way, as Socinus maintains, but to deliver a captive with the price paid:  that price was blood, shed in our place, so that we might not be compelled to shed our own.

Let the four ways that are declared by Evangelicals of the fulfillment of the law by Christ be observed in passing.  Namely, Christ fulfilled the law:

(1.)  By His own righteousness and conformity with the Law, Hebrews 7:26.

(2.)  By the payment of a penalty sufficient for our sins, Romans 8:3.

(3.)  By our reformation to the image of God, Romans 6:6; 8:11.

(4.)  By explanation and vindication from the corruptions of the Pharisees, Matthew 5:17 and following.

In the administration of this office the divine nature of the priest was not at all idle; although it contracted and repressed, as it were, its majesty for a time, so that the person might be able to suffer in the flesh; it obtained perfect holiness for the human nature; it added the weight of infinite value to the ransom; by authority it delivered the flesh to death.

Theologians note, that in the priestly office Christ was priest, sacrifice, and altarPriest, according to both natures, Hebrews 5:6.  Sacrifice, properly according to His human nature, 1 Peter 4:1; Colossians 1:22, even if its principal efficacy was depending upon the divine nature.  Altar, according to His divine nature, Hebrews 9:14; 13:10.  Accordingly, the altar sanctifies the victim, Matthew 23:19.  Christ, as God, sanctified Himself in His humanity:

(1.)  By appointing His humanity as a sacrifice for sins.

(2.)  By conferring merit and efficacy to His sacrifice, in order to acquire the remission of sins.

Some of the Lutherans say that the person, according to both natures, was te subject of the passion.  Whence that horrible assertion:  the Deity also suffered:  which most moderns disapprove, and that rightly.  At the same time, being impatient of our animadversion, they strike at us with something else, itself erroneous, concerning the subject of the passion:  namely, that, according to the opinion of the Calvinists, only the human nature of Christ suffered:  which they then refute with many arguments, but in vain.  They invent for themselves an enemy:  they do not have us in this role, who orthodoxly and according to Scripture teach, that Christ, according to the flesh, suffered, 1 Peter 4:1.

Let one further thing be observed concerning the death of Christ:

The Lutherans teach, and that rightly, that in death the soul of Christ was truly and really separated from His body, and that locally (although some expressly deny the same:  as I have shown in the Exercitation).  At the same time, they also teach, that, because of the personal union, His soul and body were necessarily wherever His divinity was.  Graver in the supplement to article 3 of the Confessionis Augustanæ.  Whence it follows, that His soul was not able to be separated locally from His body.  For, as His divinity was not able to be separated from His body or soul:  because it was everywhere:  so neither was His body absent from His soul, nor His soul from His body, locally, that is, distant by an interval of space:  because the soul of Christ was no less everywhere, than His divinity, nor was His body any less everywhere.  But from this net Meisner[1] attempt to extricate himself, Quæstionibus Vexatis 2, § 32.

Christ, says he, was truly dead, and so, where His body was, there His soul was not, on account of the natural separation made:  but, nevertheless, these two, of which the one was physically and locally distant from the other, were not distant from each other hyperphysically and in the λόγῳ/Logos:  since His hypostasis is infinite, illocal, indivisible, indistant.

He says that this is a great mystery.  Whence he orders the Calvinists to learn, that the mode of natural presence is one thing, of personal presence another:  and that one thing is able to be present with another and to be absent from it in different respects, without ἀντιφάσει/contradiction.

The argument, whereby he concludes this great mystery, and in the answering of which he wishes us to be exercised, is of this sort:

Whatever things in the altogether simple λόγῳ/Logos are indistantly (ἀδιαστάτως, without distance, from each other) united; those in that third, in which (ἀδιαστάτως, without distance, from each other) they are united and subsist, are altogether present to each other.  But the soul of Christ in the heavens, and the body of Christ on earth, which are naturally and locally most distant, in the perfectly simple and indistant λόγῳ/Logos, were united (ἀδιαστάτως, without distance, from each other).  Therefore, the soul of Christ in the heavens, and the body of Christ on earth, which are naturally and locally most distant, were altogether present to each other in the hypostasis of the λόγου/Logos.  And so the body and soul were able to be separated, although each was everywhere.

Response:  No laborious exercise is needed.  We deny the minor, which Meisner was obliged clearly to prove, not to assume without demonstration.  Indeed, the body and soul of Christ, at the time of His death, were united to the λόγῳ/Logos, but were not united with each other ἀδιαστάτως, without distance:  seeing that they were at an incredible distance from each other.

But, says our opponent, what things are united to a single, altogether simple, indivisible, and indistant third thing; those are united and present to each other (ἀδιαστάτως, without distance).

Response:  If that third altogether simple and indivisible thing be finite, we grant what our opponent maintains:  but, if it be infinite and omnipresent, united to which were the body and soul of Christ at the time of His death, we do not at all grant it.  The falsity is perfectly evident.  Elijah and I are united to a third, altogether simple, indivisible, indistant, namely, God.  But, who would say, that I, existing on the earth, am present by substantial proximity to Elijah, existing, not on earth, but in heaven?  Therefore, the mystery vanishes.  That personal presence, whereby body and soul, being locally separated by the whole heaven, were nevertheless altogether present to each other ἀδιαστάτως, without distance, in the λόγῳ/Logos, is not a great mystery, but a great and contradictory fiction.

We turn that argument back upon our opponents.  What in substance is everywhere, that is absent from no place with respect to essence or substance.  But the soul of Christ, in the death of Christ, because of the union with the λόγῳ/Logos (according to the Lutheran hypothesis), in substance was everwhere.  Therefore, the soul of Christ was absent from no place with respect to its substance:  and by consequence, it was also in its body, and was united to it ἀδιαστάτως, without distance, and so was not separated from it:  which the Suebi maintain:  but Meisner with other Lutherans does not maintain it, against the Lutheran hypotheses.

III.  Concerning the second part of the priestly office, between us and the Socinian or Photinian heretics, it is debated:  Whether Christ by suffering and dying satisfied divine justice in our place?  We answer in the affirmative, and we have built our opinion on most evident testimonies of Scripture.  Yet, with the altogether clear testimonies of Scripture not preventing (over which a blasphemous spirit undertakes to pour darkness in every possible way), the Socinians and Photinians defend the negative.

These, among others, are their principal arguments:

(1.)  If God may not remit sins without satisfaction, what things are proclaimed in Scripture concerning the grace and mercy of God, in pardoning the sins of men, would be inane and false.

But the consequent is false:  Therefore also the antecedent.

The rationale of the hypothetical:  that to remit sins by grace and mercy and to exact satisfaction for them, so that justice might be satisfied, are incompatible.

Response:  I deny the hypothetical:  the rationale is not true in any simple way.  For, only then could sins not be said to be remitted to us by grace and mercy, if God were exacting proper satisfaction from us:  but He did not exact this from us, but from the Mediator Christ, who puts Himself in our place, whose satisfaction is granted and imputed to us by the grace and mercy of God.

(2.)  God is able to pardon sins without satisfaction.

Therefore, it is probable, that He exacts no satisfaction.

The antecedent is proven:  Because He is able to remit of His own right as much as He pleases:  since He is the absolute judge:  but to each one one may remit as much as he pleases of his own right.

Responses:  1.  I deny the consequence; it is not valid to argue from the possible to the actual.

2.  I also deny the antecedent.  The proof is inconsequent:  God is indeed able to remit of His own right as much as He pleases; but by His truth and righteousness He is not willing to remit so much, that without satisfaction He might forgive sins:  because by His just judgment He once dictated to man the punishment of death:  in the day that thou eatest therefore thou shalt surely die.[2]  Whence Scripture comments the righteousness of God in exacting satisfaction, Romans 3:25.

(3.)  God wills to forgive us our sins without satisfaction.

Therefore, He exacts no satisfaction.

The antecedent is proven:  because God does not exact anything from us except faith and repentance.

Response:  I deny the antecedent.  The proof is inconsequent.  For, even if from us He does not require and exact satisfaction:  nevertheless, He exacts it from His Son, our Mediator, and imputes and grants the same to us freely.  Faith itself implies this satisfaction:  which is born toward Christ as the one redeeming and making satisfaction.

(4.)  It is simply impossible to make satisfaction for the bodily punishment of another.

Therefore, Christ did not make satisfaction for our bodily punishment.

The antecedent is proven:  because the punishment of the body, which is due to one, is not able to be made the punishment of another.

Response:  The antecedent is denied.  The proof is not true in any simple way.  For, even if the numerically same punishment is not able to be transferred from one to another; nevertheless, satisfaction is able to be made for another by an equivalent punishment; in such a way that because of the punishment of another punishment is remitted to the guilty:  which also happens in human courts.

(5.)  Christ did not experience eternal death.

Therefore, He did not make satisfaction for us.

The rationale of the consequencebecause we were liable to eternal death.

The antecedent is proven:  Because His death lasted only three days.

Response:  The antecedent is not true in any simple way:  for, even if He did not experience eternal death with respect to duration, yet He did with respect to intensity and excellence of the ransom paid by the Son of God, and with respect to the acceptation of God.

Theologians observe, that the value of the satisfaction was sufficient and in some way infinite:  (1.)  because of the person offering, who was God:  (2.)  because of the dignity and excellence of the thing offered:  inasmuch as the Priest offered Himself, the θεάνθρωπος/Theanthropos/God-man:  (3.)  because of the manner of offering, in which was divine perfection because of the hypostatic union.

(6.)  If Christ satisfied for us; either He is not God, or He offered satisfaction to Himself.

But He is God, and He did not offer satisfaction to Himself.  Because no one offers satisfaction to himself.

Therefore, He did not offer satisfaction for us.

Response:  We deny the assumption.  Christ both is God, and offered satisfaction to Himself, as He is God.  That no one offers satisfaction to himself, or to his own law, is false.  For, if God reconciled the world to Himself, 2 Corinthians 5:19, why might He not also offer satisfaction to Himelf? since, by the righteousness of God, reconciliation without satisfaction was not able to be effected .

(7.)  GOD was not angry with us, neither did He send His Son so that He might be reconciled to us:  Therefore, the Son of GOD did not make satisfaction to divine justice in our place.

The antecedent is proven:  Because He sent His Son into the World because of us while were were yet sinners:  which is not a sign of an angry GOD.

The rationale of the consequence:  Because it is not necessary to make satisfaction to one that is not angry with thee, and whom thou hast as reconciled.

Response:  The antecedent is denied.  The proof is inconsequent.  For, even if it does not belong to an angry GOD, who wills to retain anger, to give His Son in order to reconcile sinners ot Himself:  yet it is not foreign to an angry GOD, who in a certain respect also loves man, and through the medium of satisfaction wills to be reconciled to the same, and that the whole reason for the anger be removed, Romans 3:25, 26.  Unless because of sins we had been made in some way hateful to GOD, what would have been the need for propitiation before God for our sins? 1 John 2:2; and an advocate before God, verse 1; and one to appear before God for us? Hebrews 9:24.  Whence it appears that he who is held in hatred is reconciled, as much as He who holds in hatred.

(8.)  If God had exacted a satisfaction from the innocent Christ for us in our guilt:  He would certainly have been unjust and cruel.

But the consequent is absurd:  Therefore also the antecedent.

The rationale of the hypotheticalbecause it is unjust and cruel to punish the innocent in the place of the guilty.

Response:  I deny the consequent of the hypothetical.  The rationale that is alleged is not universally true:  without a hint of injustice and cruelty satisfaction is able to be exacted from the innocent on behalf of the guilty:

1.  If the innocent is of the same nature with the guilty.

2.  If he willingly receives unto himself the liability of the guilty, and offers himself for a penal satisfaction.

3.  If by his own strength he is able to surmount the punishment.

4.  If by punishment he is able to free others from the same, and by his death to merit for the same, and effectually to confer on the same, grace and life.

5.  If in this payment of the punishment of another he has sole regard to the glory of God and salvation of men.

All these conditions come together in Christ’s ransom.

[1] Balthasar Meisner (1587-1626) was a German Lutheran theologian.  He defended Lutheran orthodoxy against the Socinians.

[2] Genesis 2:17.

3 commentaires

Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
18 juin

Westminster Confession of Faith 8:5: The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience and sacrifice of Himself, which He, through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of His Father;1  and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto Him.2 

1 Rom. 5:19; Heb. 9:14,16; Heb. 10:14; Eph. 5:2; Rom. 3:25,26.

2 Dan. 9:24,26; Col. 1:19,20; Eph. 1:11,14; John 17:2; Heb. 9:12,15.


Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
18 juin

Westminster Larger Catechism 44: How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?

Answer: Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering himself a sacrifice without spot to God,1 to be a reconciliation for the sins of his people;2 and in making continual intercession for them.3 

1 Heb. 9:14,28.

2 Heb. 2:17.

3 Heb. 7:25.


Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
18 juin

An Introductory Theology Course! free and online! 

bottom of page