“And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel” (Exodus 19:6).
The doctrine of the priesthood of all believers is derived from such passages as Exodus 19:6, where God speaks of Israel’s call to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” But this did not mean that every Israelite was called to serve as a priest in the sanctuary, and it certainly did not mean that women were to be priests. There is nothing about the priesthood of all believers that automatically gives a headship ministry in the church to every individual. This phrase, simply refers to the role of Christians in representing God to the world and in having no earthly priest to mediate between them and God (Heb. 8:1).
The role of priesthood was reserved for the male descendants of Aaron (Exod. 28:1; Num. 3:3). The New Testament uses the passage of Exod.19:6 in 1 Pet. 2:9, which describes the church as “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” But as with ancient Israel, this designation doesn’t mean every church member is qualified for every role. According to other New Testament passages, addressing both the family and the faith community, spiritual headship roles are reserved for men:
“But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor. 11:3); “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything” ( Eph. 5:22–24); “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Tim. 2:12, 13).
But to view Exodus 19:6 in a general sense, God’s purposed for the Israelites to be both a royal and a priestly race. In an evil world they were to be kings, morally, in that they were to prevail over the sin (Rev. 20:6). As priests, they were to draw near to the Lord in prayer, in praise, and in sacrifice. As intermediaries between God and the unbelievers, they were to serve as preachers and were to be examples of holy living. In His coming kingdom, God has a royal place for His royal children (Matt. 19:28; Luke 19:17–19; John 14:1–3; Rev. 1:6; 2:26).
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In His service,
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